Sunday, July 25, 2010

Never Let A Crisis Go To Waste

Now that global warming has been exposed as a hoax, and “cap and trade” has been exposed as a huge new tax on everything that will kill hundreds of thousands of American jobs, the career politicians in Washington have gotten the message, and they know what to do about it: That scam didn’t work, so let’s try again. Only this time, we’ll use the Gulf oil disaster as a convenient way to gin up angst, and we’ll rename “cap and trade” to something that sounds good, like “cap and dividend”, or something real fancy like “Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act”, CLEAR for short. Yes, we’ll call it the CLEAR Act; that’ll get everyone on board. Then we’ll make all sorts of outlandish claims about the astonishingly good effects this bill will have. Those ignorant peasants out there in “in between” land will believe it all and go along with it. By the time the true effects become apparent, it’ll be too late. Voila! With this bill and the government run health care bill, Washington will have seized control of virtually every aspect of life in America. Then we wise rulers will be able to make those cretins and miscreants known as the American people live the right kind of life, the kind that we dictate.

Senators Maria Cantwell from Washington state and Susan Collins from Maine have proposed a new carbon tax bill called “cap and dividend”. As they describe it, this bill will cause money to start raining down like manna from heaven onto American families. This bill will unleash economic growth on a scale never before seen. Untold numbers of new, ultra-high paying jobs will be created. There will be massive investments in new technology!! We’ll stop using coal and oil and start using windmills and solar panels, tomorrow. Energy costs will not go up. Things will be right in the world.

All of this economic benefit will happen just because Congress passes a law; every ecological problem in the world will be solved to boot. It will be wonderful!! We’ll have our cake and eat it too. Utopia will have arrived!!!

Why didn’t someone think of this sooner? Thank you Senators Cantwell and Collins; we are so blessed to have such wise, magnanimous, benevolent leaders as you. Your apotheosis will begin immediately. As an encore, I’m sure you’ll solve world hunger, in your spare time.

In describing the bill in a Washington Post article, the good Senators proudly point out that “researchers at the New York University School of Law found that the legislation would generate good, ‘green’ jobs’ ---.” Researchers at a law school? A law school?!!! Not researchers at a technology school or an economics school or the National Academy of Engineering or the National Science Foundation, but at a law school?!!

The Senators also indicate that another benefit of the bill is that it will reduce “emissions in agriculture”. Emissions in agriculture – what is that? It can’t be plants, because plants consume CO2 rather than emitting it. No, they can’t be referring to corn or hay or wheat or tomatoes or any of those things. They must be talking about animals. It must mean that animal emissions will be reduced. That’s it, bovine flatulence! Yes, finally we can rid the fruited plain of the scourge of bovine flatulence. There will no doubt be the bovine flatulence police to enforce this. They will perform a great service to the populace by going around to every cattle farm, large or small, to verify that appropriate cow emission reduction procedures are being followed. If not, your cows will be confiscated and turned over to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) where they will receive tender, loving care, along with the chickens that were rescued after falling off the truck on its way from the chicken farm to the Colonel Sanders factory. PETA will also humanely capture the cow emissions and store them ---- somewhere safe, I’m sure.

Let me makes sure I’ve got my mind around this. At a time when Iran is nuking up, North and South Korea are on the verge of war, we have a disaster of unprecedented proportions in the Gulf that is not under control, the economy is still in the tank in spite of trillions upon trillions in “stimuli” of one sort or another, unemployment is stuck at around 10% and showing no signs of coming down, the situation in Afghanistan is starting to disintegrate, Iraq is tenuous at best; in the midst of all of this, the people running the country are engaging in energy and economic fantasy and worrying about bovine flatulence.

How do these boobs (no pun intended) keep getting elected? Are U.S. Senators really so stupid as to believe that a bill passed by Congress will get us all to economic and environmental Nirvana, or do they know it’s a charade but think we’re too stupid to figure it out?

My head is spinning! I can’t take it any longer. Stop the world, I want to get off!

An attendant drapes a cape over my shoulders and leads me off stage, as I sob. Then, I throw off the cape, run back on stage, grab the mike and get down on my knees, fervently pleading, “Please! Please! Please!” --- more sobbing --- “Please! Please! P-l-eeeee-a-s-e don’t go. America, you know I love you so.” (Apologies to James Brown.)

Washington has turned into a circus and the clowns are in charge. Nancy Pelosi is in Ring 1, Harry Reid is in Ring 2, and Ringmaster Obama is in the center. Robert Gibbs is the barker. There are side shows on energy, jobs, the economy, illegal immigration, and others to come. There is Little Egypt the belly dancer, the Lady Godiva impersonator, Ahab the A-rab with his precision spitting camel, the two headed cow, the five legged sheep, the fat lady, the giant, the dwarf. Step right up, only one thin dime, one tenth of a dollar! Step right up!

P.T. Barnum said that you can fool some of the people all the time, and you can fool all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. Let’s hope he was right, come November.

In the meantime, I’m checking out. It’s good-bye cruel world, I’m off to join a real circus. I’ll clean out the elephant stalls. Or they can put me in a cage. Shoot me out of a cannon, I don’t care. Let the people point at me and stare. I’ll tell everyone how that crazy, insane, inane Washington made a crying fool out of me.

It will be my ablution.

Someday I’ll return, and Washington will seem sane.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Boys of Summer

People have been playing games that involve a stick and a ball for millennia. Popular legend has it that baseball was invented in Cooperstown, New York in 1839 by Abner Doubleday. This is simply not true. There was a German book published in 1796 that contains seven pages of rules for “das englische Base-ball”, complete with a diagram of the diamond shaped infield. This reference also debunks another myth, that baseball evolved from the old English games of town ball and rounders. Apparently, baseball, town ball, and rounder’s all developed simultaneously.

Baseball is unique. It has a balance and symmetry to it that is lacking, as I see it, in other sports. It is the only sport in which the defense has the ball. Players must play both offense and defense, so they can’t become overly specialized. I'm a purist; I do not believe in the designated hitter. The game should be played the way God intended, with pitchers taking their turn at the plate.

Baseball is extremely versatile. I have played it with my kids in the kitchen using a wadded up piece of paper and our hands. When living in California, I played it with my now older kids in our tiny front yard and the street, with an intervening row of bushes, using a wiffle ball and regular bat. We played on organized Little League teams with uniforms and umpires and everything. Or you can play “one-on-one” baseball. You can play it anywhere, anytime, using anything, and have a blast!

In any event, to me, there is nothing more American than baseball.

It started as a northeastern city game in the mid-1800’s. During the civil war, its popularity spread as soldiers played it in their idle time, and introduced the game to people from all parts of the country.

The first World Series was played in 1903.

I love the mystique around the legendary baseball players and the game’s lore.

There was Babe Ruth, who was one the best pitchers the game had ever seen before he became the “sultan of swat”. A little known fact is that Babe Ruth won two World Series games in his second year in the Major Leagues, as a pitcher. He altered the nature of the game by becoming the first, and one of the best ever, power hitters. Prior to that, hitters were expected to get singles consistently and push runs in. The Babe ignored that precedence and did it his way. Then there was his famous “called shot”, in which he pointed to the right field stands and then hit a home run right there.

There was the unforgettable scene of a dying Lou Gehrig proclaiming that he was the luckiest man in the world.

Ted Williams left professional baseball in the prime of his career to join the military during World War II. He was not drafted, he signed up. He lost four years of prime time, voluntarily. One wonders what his statistics would be if he had gotten those four years in. He became a fighter pilot and literally went down in flames. He tells the story about a decision he made then. His plane was badly shot up and flames were coming out of the engine. If he ejected, he was guaranteed to live, but the pilot would frequently suffer two broken legs in this procedure as the plane’s canopy often didn’t get out of the way in time. So he could eject and be assured of surviving, but risk never playing baseball again. He decided that if he couldn’t play baseball, he didn’t want to live. He took the plane down in flames, landed in a field, and as he was running away, the plane exploded in a ball of fire.

Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, known as the Yankee Clipper for the graceful way he sailed around the bases, had his famous hitting streak of 52 consecutive games with a base hit that was a national obsession at the time, and a record that has never come close to being matched.

On of my childhood heroes was Mickey Mantle. His father was such a baseball fan that he named his son after the great Mickey Cochran. His father also died at age 36 of a heart attack. Mickey thought he was going to die young also, so he lived the high life. When he was in his sixties, he commented that if he had known he was going to live so long, he would have taken better care of himself.

Mickey replaced Joe DiMaggio in center field for the New York Yankees – some pretty big shoes to fill. As great a player as Mickey was, he never quite lived up to expectations. He was supposed to be Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Joe DiMaggio rolled into one. It just didn’t happen.

One reason was that he was not a disciplined hitter. He was always swinging for the fences, even when there were runners in scoring position and a clean single would have won the game. Consequently, because he struck out a lot trying to hit home runs all the time, games that he could have won with his bat were lost.

Another reason Mickey Mantle didn’t live up to expectations was that early in his career, while chasing a fly ball, he tripped over a water spigot used to water the outfield grass. He twisted his knee badly, and it was never the same. After that, before every game, he wrapped his entire right leg in adhesive tape, and he played in constant pain. Players from visiting teams who were unaware of his situation and happened to see what he had to do in game prep were horrified. Catchers noticed that he groaned in pain every time he swung the bat. Still, he became one of the game’s all time greats. Think what he could have done with two good legs.

The hot dog was invented in New York in the 19-teens when a sausage manufacturer wanted to find a way to sell his sausages to people going to or at the game. He came up with the idea of wrapping a sausage link in a piece of bread. The world has never been the same.

A man who didn’t have the money to buy game tickets for his children wrote the song “Take me out to the ball game” for them instead.

And the tradition continues right here in Pulaski with our own Rookie League team. Go out to some games this summer, and think about the long history of the game being played before you.

Monday, July 5, 2010

How Sweet It Is

The first U.S. offshore wind energy project was approved on April 28 by Obama officials who lauded it as a model of renewable energy production. The project consists of 130 wind turbine generators to be installed in Nantucket Sound.

A lawsuit against this project was filed in Federal Court on June 25. Guess who filed the lawsuit. Probably a big, greedy oil company run by evil fat cuts who are bent on destroying the environment in order to line their own pockets, right? No, the lawsuit against the first U.S. offshore energy project was filed by - - environmental groups!! You heard it right; environmental groups are challenging the first wind energy project. They say the project violates the Endangered Species Act by failing to protect birds and whales.

How sweet it is.