Items of Interest
Just a few things I've noticed that I thought were worth noting...
The hypocrisy of sports writers
Bill Simmons, always the best sportswriter out there (or at least one of them), wrote a compelling article this morning about how awful the Hall of Fame voting is going to be now that folks like Mark McGwire are eligible. The sanctimonious hypocrisy of sportswriters everywhere will be monumental, and certainly not fun to watch:
These people have now become the self-proclaimed moral arbiters of baseball, and they need you to know that Big Mac cheated, disgraced the game, deceived the public, tainted the record books and pushed the sport into a spiritual free fall. They rush to tell you that they can't vote for McGwire because their conscience won't allow it. San Jose Mercury News columnist Ann Killion wrote that she can't vote for McGwire because she wouldn't be able to explain it to her kids.
She concluded her column with this: "All I can do is cast my own vote judiciously. And be able to look my kids in the eyes when I do it."
Ann, I'm glad you're such a thoughtful mom. Seriously, that's great. But a vote for McGwire isn't exactly an endorsement of drug use. And anyway, part of our country's problem is the shortsighted way we "protect" our kids from life's harsh realities. Janet Jackson's nipple slip was such a traumatic moment for Americans that some live sporting events now run on tape-delay, and Howard Stern fled to SIRIUS to escape the clutches of the increasingly fascistic FCC. Meanwhile, any kid can glimpse Britney's crotch if he or she is even remotely familiar with Google, and anyone can be slandered anonymously on a blog or message board.
Look, our country is screwed up. Whether we like it or not, people will always gamble, use illegal drugs, drink and drive, cheat on their spouses, cheat on tests, lie and steal, ditch their families, swear and fight, use performance-enhancing drugs. Banishing Mark McGwire from Cooperstown isn't going to make any of that go away. Let's stop pretending that the Baseball Hall of Fame is a real-life fantasy world -- a place where we celebrate only the people and events we can all unanimously agree deserve to be celebrated -- and transform it into an institution that reflects both the good and bad of the sport. Wait -- wasn't that Cooperstown's mission all along? Shouldn't it be a place where someone who knows nothing about baseball can learn about its rich history? Isn't it a museum, after all?
Short Timers Disease
I’ll admit that when I’ve left jobs in the past, I’ve reached a certain point where I just don’t take as much care with my remaining work at the old job. It isn’t a conscious thing, but there is some element of “let’s leave it for the next guy.” Again, not boasting about this – it’s not really very good behavior, but it’s the truth.
And I found the following comment in Dan Froomkin’s White House Briefing particularly telling in this context. It is in regards to President Bush’s ‘decision’ to escalate in Iraq, despite the fact that the majority of the public and Congress is against that. Why would Bush do this, Froomkin wondered? A reader possibly provided the answer:
“I fully expect for him to continue to assert that we can have success in Iraq, in spite of any evidence to the contrary, until the day he leaves office. He will stall, patch things together, anything to avoid the appearance of an acknowledgment of failure. He knows that Iraq is a failure, but if he leaves office still maintaining that we can 'win' or 'succeed' there then history will not judge him so harshly.
Obviously we will have to change course, but he's not going to be the guy to do it. He will then maintain that someone else 'lost' Iraq because they didn't have the courage and determination to stick it out. As with everything in his life, from his National Guard service to his serial failures in business and life in general, it's all about him - not the country, not the job, not our reputation in the world or our hard won and universally admired heritage of concern for basic human rights. He's not trying to save this country or Iraq, he's trying to save himself and his 'place in history'. He's completely wrong of course, but given his history of privilege and never having to suffer the consequences of his long record of bad decisions, it does kind of make sense.
"We assume that, like most Presidents, he connects his self-image with actual success or failure in the real world. I increasingly am drawn to the conclusion that, regardless of the facts on the ground, he will consider himself a success as long as he never admits that his ill-fated adventure in Iraq can't succeed."
There are probably a few things I would have said differently, but I think the sentiment is right. Bush is incredibly selfish and is “leading” our war effort solely in a way that frames his own legacy, steadfastly refusing to believe the facts on the ground if they differ from what he wants the truth to be. That’s 3,003 dead U.S. soliders and countless other casualties, both American and otherwise, that have gone to soothe W’s ego. Fantastic world we live in.