Life must be going well to have let this blog lapse as long as it did. Nothing has gotten me impassioned enough to write. Or maybe it’s just the new meds.
For the second year in a row, the rate of violent crime in the United States has increased. This is the first sustained increase since 1993. The biggest increases were in medium-sized cities and in Middle America. In 1993, Bill Clinton became president and before leaving office got passage of a bill to put 100,000 more police officers on the streets. Now, George Bush is president, and his administration has cut federal crime-fighting assistance for cities.
So, if you live in a medium-sized city, especially in the Midwest, and if you fear robbery or homicide, be sure to double lock your doors, keep a loaded gun or two at arm’s reach, and vote Democratic.
Two new books are out examining in detail the personal and political life of Hillary Clinton. Both are by top-notch journalists. Between them, the books make the following points: Sen. Clinton is politically ambitious, plays politics and has had a plan to become president for the past 20 years. This, of course, should disqualify her from being president because no one else in the current field of approximately 18 people running for president is ambitious, plays politics or has ever previously thought of being president.
One of the biographers, Carl Bernstein, is about the last guy who ought to be writing about other people’s marital infidelities since his were chronicled in print and on film by ex-wife Nora Ephron.
I once wanted to be a fireman. I mean after I was six years old. In college, I lived in a cheap apartment complex next to a volunteer fire station. I dropped in and got an application, but I was discouraged from pursuing my attempt to serve the public.
I was told that beards are not allowed. It had something to do with interfering with oxygen masks. I suspect it had more to do with interfering with an exclusive fraternity of raunchy, redneck, right-wing patriots.
Still, I did a double take the other day when I spotted a bilious green ladder truck from a local fire department. One of the five-foot high panels along the side featured an elaborate painting of an American flag billowing in the wind, and wording, which I was unable to write down. But the printed legend linked firefighters with “defending America” and with the military/patriotic themes that supposedly make themselves “heroes.”
Ever since 9-11, when New York City firefighters did their jobs despite staggering incompetence by their leaders and despite age-old enmity with the city police department (firefighters get the better-looking women), they have become a symbol of patriotism. I guess it makes sense, since actual soldiers and Marines are fighting a criminal war and sometimes even commit individual war crimes. What do firefighters do (besides beating up gays)? They risk their lives to save old ladies, babies and cats.
I would prefer firefighters, and soldiers and Marines, to do the jobs they signed up for and protect people of all political leanings. Pasting faux patriotic Pabulum on publicly paid for apparatus is not comforting.
Even bigger than the American flag and icons of firefighters is the Virginia Tech logo. It is on caps, jackets and car window decals – especially on cars driven by people who used to hide the fact they couldn’t get into the University of Virginia.
What is it about being a victim – of 9-11 or of a mass murderer – that makes you special rather than just unlucky?
The National Pastime
I went to a public mauling last night. It was disguised as a Major League Baseball game, and my team, the Nationals, lost 11-3. But it didn’t matter. As small boy, I would cry when my team lost. Now, as a full-fledged codger, I simply enjoy watching professional baseball games.
As a small boy my most fervent wish was to have season tickets so I could go whenever I wanted to, which would be all the time. Now, I have season tickets and it can be an annoyance when all your friends who said they would love to buy some of those tickets disappear when the team’s fortunes subside. So, I do go often.
There are so many things that make the game great, most of which defy explanation to anyone who doesn’t get it. But I will posit that it is a game for those whose bent is more intellectual than physical and that unlike other sports that are controlled by a clock, and unlike the performing arts, a baseball game is unique until itself. Anything can happen. When you go to the best play ever written or staged, or attend a symphony concert, the outcome is always the same. At a baseball game, you cannot leave until the last out, because the damndest things often happen.
One of the other great things about going to games is the fans. (Not the ones who decide to stand up to get a beer or go to the bathroom in the middle of a play.) In Boston the other day, some fans wore blonde wigs to taunt the visiting Yankee Alex Rodriguez, who had been photographed arm-in-arm, at least, with a blonde not his wife and entering a hotel elevator. In Washington last night, the existential nature of baseball, was exhibited by one of those home-made placards fans often hold up to promote a TV network or themselves. This sign, when held high, read simply, “The Guy Behind Me Can’t See.”
Much better than the ubiquitous “John 3:15,” which, being Jewish, I had thought was White Sox legend Tommy John’s earned run average.