Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mr. President, Remember The Lesson Of Jack Kennedy: Don't Let The Warmongers Box You In

The United States is, once again, at the precipice of all-out war, and, if the Pentagon, the Republicans, and the military-industrial monolith have their way, Afghanistan may become another Iraq or Vietnam. One can only hope that President Obama knows his history and will refuse to repeat its mistakes. For he alone, like Jack Kennedy in the early 1960s, stands in the way of the forces of unrepentant, bloodthirsty aggression. The Pentagon and the warmongers think they have him boxed in, with cries for escalation in Afghanistan. They have even dragged out that soulless solicitor of Halliburton business--Dick Cheney--to do their bidding. But, if history tells us anything, expanding the war against an entrenched, indigenous, terrain-savvy tribe like the Taliban is futile. The body counts, the bombings, and the price tag will skyrocket, but the conflict will never be resolved.

The cries of the hawks are all too familiar. In the early 1960s, the military, the CIA, and the right-wing politicians wanted to invade Cuba, nuke Russia, and wipe out the communists in southeast Asia. Kennedy resisted, and that sealed his fate. Maxwell Taylor once said, "At one point, President Kennedy was the only one who DIDN'T want to send ground troops into Vietnam." History absolved his stance. Vietnam turned out to be a bloody, expensive waste.

Will Obama have the same courage his long-ago predecessor summoned up? And if he does, will the forces of evil put a target on his back?

This is why we elected avoid the same blunders that got us into Iraq and Vietnam. Hard as it is to admit, the only resolution to this mess is diplomacy and negotiation, even when it involves a group as repugnant as the Taliban. After all, as Jack Kennedy once said about America's dire enemy in his day, "...we all breathe the same air, we all cherish our children's future, and we are all mortal."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Red Sheep" Shocked, Dismayed By Cardinals Performance. They Haven't Been Paying Attention.

For years, local media hacks and management shills have been tirelessly promoting St. Louis Cardinals fans as baseball's best. Let me tell you ain't so. I live here in Cardinal land, have even attended a few games. These fans are passive, uncritical, and slavishly obsequious. They attend games not to live and die with their team, question the manager's moves, scream at umpires, or heckle visiting teams...they go to have a summer night out with their neighbors. Baseball games in St. Louis are social events, times to catch up with their pals and drink a Bud or two under the stars. The game itself is just background noise, like a CD playing at a neighborhood barbecue.

Sitting behind me in the right-field loge seats at the last game I attended were two families, small kids and all, gossiping, playing word games, people watching, letting the youngsters run wild, and, in general, being oblivious to the game. Not one of them could have told you the score, the inning, the pitcher, even the opponent.

These same fans (I call them Red Sheep or Crimson Lemmings) took no notice when the Cardinals ended this regular season losing 14 of their last 21 games. All they knew was that the Cardinals won the NL Central and were going to the playoffs. Little was made of the sloppy defense, the god-awful relief pitching, the lack of timely hitting, Albert Pujols' slump, and all sorts of other dark omens.

So now that the Birds have laid an enormous egg in Game 1 of the playoffs, losing 5-3 to the LA Dodgers, the Red Sheep are livid. They are now suddenly and furiously spewing their anger and shock on chat forums, sports talk shows, and blogs. If only they'd been paying attention, they would have seen this coming. Here are the warning signs they missed, and here is what the embarrassingly uncritical St. Louis media glossed over:

Albert Pujols' career is in decline. He is now, according to some, in his mid-30s, a time when baseball skills erode. Albert has not hit a home run since Sept. 9, the longest drought of his career. His slump began after he participated in the home run derby at the All-Star game, an event which has ruined many power strokes. (Bobby Abreu has never been the same since winning it several years ago.) Albert is so confused and inept at the plate that he can barely hit a loud foul ball. Why Joe Torre is intentionally walking a virtually sure out is beyond me.

Matt Holliday, the team's heralded acquisition from Oakland, has not homered since Sept. 11. He and Pujols together have one home run in 156 at-bats.

Cardinal relief pitching is horrible, especially Kyle McClellan. McClellan single-handedly blew Adam Wainwright's 20th victory a week ago. He surrendered five runs in about three minutes. His ERA in September was near 50, and he has little control over his fastball. Last night he hit a batter, walked a man, gave up a hit, and...oh Christ, he's just terrible.

The offense can't get a big hit with runners on base. In game one of the NLDS they stranded 14 runners. 14!! The last of those were left on base by Rick Ankiel, aka the human strikeout machine. Ankiel has struck out five times more often than he has walked this year. That is sub-human futility.

Boy are the Crimson Lemmings going to be pissed off when LA completes the series sweep at Busch Stadium.

Limbaugh To Buy My Football Team? Better Not.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that Rush Limbaugh is part of a group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams. Huh? Limbaugh owning a team in a sport dominated by African-American athletes? I don't see it.

If you don't know Limbaugh, he's that fascist blowhard that your right-wing screwball of a neighbor has blasting on his radio every day. And here are just some of the hateful, racist things Limbaugh has broadcast:

"They ought to give a posthumous medal to James Earl Ray. Godspeed, James."

(To a black listener:) "Take that bone out of your nose and shut up."

"Historians say slavery was a bad thing. Not so. The South was built on slavery...and the streets were sure a lot safer at night then."

"Nelson Mandela was a communist agitator."

(About black pro football players:) "I mean it looks like it's the Bloods vs. Crips without weapons out there."

I know NFL owners are a good old boys network of white, middle-aged conservatives, but do they want the kind of turmoil and divisiveness that Limbaugh brings? I can just hear Limbaugh now after a game where one of his wide receivers drops a game-winning pass (a regular occurrence with the Rams): "I'm going to fire that jungle bunny. Probably had fried chicken grease on his fingers."

If Limbaugh does purchase the Rams, I'll find another team to root for. And I'll be gleeful each time Limbaugh's team loses.