So Many Subjects, So Little Time (1/14/10)

Here is where I shall vent my spleen on whatever political topic might cross my mind on a given day. Comments or responses may be posted to whatever forum might be appropriate to that particular topic.

So Many Subjects, So Little Time (1/14/10)

Postby Ferguson Foont » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:38 pm

Here we are, just a short month before St. Valentine's Day, and there seems to be so little to love. I pity poor Hallmark and Godiva. I shall comment below on some of the issues that I don't particularly love these days.

1. Topic A: Leno v. Conan.

This, of course, is what everyone is talking about. I shall not take any time explaining what this is about, as you would need to be living on another planet entirely (or perhaps in Port au Prince) not to already know.

It seems that Jay Leno has his defenders, people who always complain that Conan O'Brien is not funny. Well, all I can say about that is to bring up one of my favorite movie lines, uttered by the Steve Martin character "Vinnie" in the movie "My Blue Heaven." He is talking to the local D.A., played by the always delightful Joan Cusak, who seems to be an unusually self-conscious and humorless individual (which, for Joan Cusak, must've been quite a stretch). Vinnie makes the observation that "Everybody t'inks dat dey got a sense of humor, but dey don't all." (He then administers a sense-of-humor test, which you pass or fail depending on your reaction to the joke, "What's the difference between a pregnant woman and a light bulb? You can unscrew a light bulb.")

I submit that people who fail to see the humor in Conan O'Brien's schtick fail that test utterly. I believe that Jay Leno would like to be the inheritor of Bob Hope's comedic mantle, except Leno lacks the charitable good nature of Bob Hope and has had Hope's nose transplanted to his chin. It is my opinion that Leno fans are made up largely of the members of three groups: 1) Puritans and prudes who live in constant fear that somewhere, somehow, some people might actually enjoy themselves in ways that they might not share with young children or tee-totalling spinsters in sensible shoes; 2) People with low IQs and/or low levels of education who lack the capacity to understand Conan O'Brien's jokes, and; 3) Bush voters. I know that there is a great deal of overlap among those three groups, but nevertheless...

Another thread that flows heavily through the comments about these news stories is that, with the devastation in Haiti, our reverses in Afghanistan, the par'lous predicament in which we find the health care bill, etc., etc., etc., that it is a total waste of column inches and people's valuable time to be reporting on this meaningless fluff. I submit that, on the contrary, the fate of our late night TV hosts directly touches our day-to-day lives to a far greater extent than those matters that seem to be more important in the traditional sense of newsworthiness. I submit that a greater percentage of Americans are exposed to these programs every day, and that a large majority of American adults are exposed to them at least occasionally, and that many of these people would be affected in a very real sense by a shakeup in these favorite shows.

Of course, the people who make that comment, that the story is not worth reporting, have nevertheless read the reports and taken the time to comment so unctuously. Go figure.

2. Gay Marriage.

A Federal court in the District of Columbia just ruled that the gay marriage ordinance recently passed by the city council cannot be challenged by a referendum. This is a victory for gay rights and it may presage how the courts will rule on California's Proposition 8.

Y'know, it is interesting to point out that the people who oppose gay marriage are people whose lives will never be directly affected by it one way or another. They aren't gay themselves, probably associate very rarely if at all with any gay people, and will never be exposed to any effect of anyone's gay marriages or ceremonies or rights in any way. In other words, there is no way they could reasonably get excited, or even care at all, about this issue unless somebody with some peculiar axe to grind hadn't told them to be, and had powers of persuasion well enough developed to whip these poor, ignorant, gullible people into an emotional frenzy about a matter that is completely irrelevant to their lives in every way.


3. Haiti.

This of course is the most important issue in the whole world right now, surpassing American health care, Iraq and Afghanistan, and even our economic woes. As I write this there are estimates that 50,000 Haitians may already be dead, but that's only the beginning. They are now mostly homeless with their streets completely devastated by unimaginable piles of debris that was once their houses, businesses and government institutions. They have no electricity, no water, no transportation even on surface roads, no medicine, no energy, and most importantly no food. The deaths directly from the quake itself might eventually be dwarfed by the deaths caused by the privation in its aftermath.

I see in Haiti perhaps the very best argument that might be made in favor of colonialism. There is no possible way that these people will be able even to make the most rudimentary recovery if left to their own devices and the charitable contributions of others. They have gone WAAAAY past the point where such more traditional methods of supplying disaster assistance might restore even the primitive level of society they previously knew.

We need to take them under our mighty wing and remake their entire economy and society out of the rubble. I doubt if any other nation has the means to do it. In doing so we might be able to achieve a very great good that we have long desired, and to some extent rehabilitate the world's deteriorating view of American power.

4. Steroids in Baseball.

Has it ever occurred to anyone that, when one becomes a PROFESSIONAL athlete and enjoys the economic advantage that playing for a professional team that is your employer permits you to enjoy in return for your on-field contribution, that it is your responsibility and duty to make that on-field contribution as effective as you can possibly achieve, even if it entails sacrificing your health to do it? I mean, isn't that what NFL linemen and running backs do on every play, shorten their lives and cripple themselves through repeated violent collisions, all for the betterment of the team?

If taking steroids (which weren't even illegal until just recently) makes you a better player, then you are shirking your duty to your employer if you do NOT take advantage of them. I see this whole brouhaha as much ado about LESS THAN nothing. Mark McGwire DESERVES to be in the Hall of Fame because his on-field performance merits it. Same with Barry Bonds and, for that matter, Pete Rose (although his problems were not drug-related).

Worse actors than any of these guys are in the Hall. Babe Ruth was a notorious carouser and womanizer. Ty Cobb was a virulent and violent racist. The Baseball Hall of Fame is proud to have them both as CHARTER members.

(Of course, nobody ever even questions an athlete being injected with cortisone to permit him to play through an injury to a joint. Cortisone, of course, is a steroid, and it would be difficult to make the case that such injections do not enhance the performance of the athletes who receive them.)

We need a little less hand-wringing in our press and among our elected officials about things like this. It's better to get all het up about Conan and Jay.
Republicans whine and Republicans bitch: "Our rich are too poor, and our poor are too rich."
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Ferguson Foont
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