May 17

Baseball Revelation

The debate between the Democratic candidates has begun and already here comes that sinking feeling that they are going to "play it safe," so safe that their message will not stir anyone and we'll be looking at at least four more years of the dictator's destruction. By then what will be left?

Linda O'Brien addresses the Democratic candidates on Buzzflash and pleads with them to "speak for us," to get out of the little box that the corporate media draws to narrow the range of debate. To make her point she focuses on the recent outrage with the baseball commission and makes some observations that slipped by most people's attention.

"No one seemed to notice that something momentous had happened. But when Hall of Fame President Petroskey cancelled the 15th anniversary celebration of 'Bull Durham' to prevent stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon from endangering our troops with thoughts of peace, instead of, 'Don't taint this American symbol with unpatriotic acts!', there was a deafening shout of, 'Don't politicize baseball!' What wasn't noticed was that this shout shattered two years of silence." Dissent has been successfully repressed in "poetry, the Oscars, television, classrooms, charity events, and country music," O'Brien says, so why did it cause such outrage in baseball? To prevent the lesson of that incident being lost, O'Brien states it:

"Sports and editorial writers nationwide -- both conservative and liberal -- fumed about Petroskey's action. The Palm Beach Post said, 'Of all places to muzzle dissent, the baseball hall ranks among the worst. Until Mr. Petroskey's neurotic episode, debate was an intrinsic part of the national pastime.' Ira Berkow of the New York Times sports desk wrote, 'Baseball in many ways has indeed come to symbolize America. For example, the manager informs the umpire that he's an idiot. That is called dissent, a longstanding institution in this country.'"

For a brief, shining moment that spirit showed its head again. Did the Democratic politicians get it?

May 17, 2003

  • Poll Disconnect. Ever wonder why the polls tell us Bush is more popular than God even though so few support many of his policies? Very strange indeed. Matt Peiken looks into the mystery in "If Bush Was Popular, We Wouldn't Need Polls to Convince Us" on Commondreams. See also TV News Lies for more on the real purpose and function of polls.
  • They call it Victory. What the media is touting as Bush's great "victory" in Iraq, their excuse for why he has the clout to push through more of his moronic economic destruction agenda, is just the destruction of a civilization. Since the American takeover, says The New Republic Baghdad has become "an Arab version of the Watts riots. Burning buildings dot the city skyline. Armed looters terrorize the population, tearing into homes and emptying them of their possessions. Petty crime has become rampant on the streets, virtually no one feels secure, and homes are never left unguarded at night." Heil Bush!
  • Blair just went too far. The New York Times wrote, "A staff reporter for The New York Times committed frequent acts of journalistic fraud while covering significant news events in recent months, an investigation by Times journalists has found." Were they just talking about a single instance? Putting all that attention on Jayson Blair, distracts attention from how much the same principle operates in the Times' normal reporting. Ed Garvey, a Madison, Wis. lawyer writing for Tom Paine makes an undeniable point: "Substitute Bill Clinton for Bush over the past six months and you will see my point. What would TV talking heads be saying today? William Kristol, Sean Hannity and the others would be demanding Clinton's impeachment. They would be screaming that there were no weapons of mass destruction and Clinton knew it. He lied to the United Nations, to the American people, and he deliberately and unnecessarily placed American troops in harm's way."
  • Go Arcata! Signs of stirring of the traditional but long-hidden American spirit of individual freedom. Over 100 cities have passed resolutions against the anti-constitutional Patriot Act, but Arcata, Calif., has pushed the ante and made it a crime to comply with the parts of the law that the city feels are unconstitutionally intrusive. See The Guardian.
  • Hatfield Lives! Editions Timeli of Geneva, Switzerland, will publish a French-language edition of J.H. Hatfield's Fortunate Son: The Making of an American President in June. At the request of the publisher I wrote "The Death of Jim Hatfield" for the book, which can be read in English here.
  • Beyond Petroleum. Some challenging thoughts in "Petroleum culture versus Earth living: The fallacy of the technofix" in Culture Change E-Letter. Imagine actually changing! What a thought! I guess human beings might be expected to have the capacity to stop habitual behavior that they discover is going to kill them. Humanity has displayed a great variety of ways to live. We don't have to consume so much of a fuel that it causes us to have to plunder other countries and kill their people. So what if business travel goes down a little for a while? That may cause the business community to focus its profit-seeking motivation on alternative energy sources and cause the society to look at ways to modify its habits of consumption. It's true that another world is possible.
  • Why We March. "Acts of Hope: Challenging Empire on the World Stage" by Rebecca Solnit at Orion Online is a powerful speculation on the value and effect of political activism. Solnit writes: "A lot of activists expect that for every action there is an equal and opposite and punctual reaction, and regard the lack of one as failure. After all, activism is often a reaction: Bush decides to invade Iraq, we create a global peace movement in which 10 to 30 million people march on seven continents on the same weekend. But history is shaped by the groundswells and common dreams that single acts and moments only represent. It's a landscape more complicated than commensurate cause and effect. Politics is a surface in which transformation comes about as much because of pervasive changes in the depths of the collective imagination as because of visible acts, though both are necessary. And though huge causes sometimes have little effect, tiny ones occasionally have huge consequences." She then goes on to list a number of good things that may have resulted from the antiwar movement that rose up against the invasion of Iraq.


    May 16

  • The Bush administration is changing its tune on weapons of mass destruction, "hoping inconvenient facts will disappear from the public discourse," according to Reuters.
  • People were told to take off their ties for Bush photo op speech in Indiana so he could look like he represents "common people" and not just the rich. See
  • Molly Ivins: Of course it matters if the government lies. "What I cannot believe is that respected journalists -- most notably Tom Friedman, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner -- would simply dismiss the nonexistent WMDs as though it made no difference. Of course it matters if our government lies to us.Why do you think people were so angry at Lyndon Johnson over the Gulf of Tonkin? At Richard Nixon over the "secret war" in Cambodia? Even at Bill Clinton over the less cosmic matter of whether he had sex with 'that woman.' If it makes no difference whether the government lied, why is Friedman a journalist? Why does journalism exist at all?" See
  • Worst hiring slump in 20 years. See The New York Times.
  • Why Americans watch BBC by Paul Krugman. See International Herald Tribune.
  • American justice Bush style. Shooting Iraqis like dogs in the street. See The New York Times.
  • Morford: BushCo reams US. No WMDs. Ha ha suckas. "Turns out it really was all a big joke after all. The war, that is. All a big fat nasty murderous oil-licking lie, a sneaky little power-mad game with you as the sucker and the world as the pawn and BushCo as the slithery war thug, the dungeon master, the prison daddy. You really have to laugh. Because it's just so wonderfully ridiculous. In a rather disgusting, soul-draining sort of way." See The SF Gate.

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