Dear Mr. McCourt:
It is time for you to go away. You are an embarrasment and a fraud, but there is some time still left on the clock. Use that time to salvage what is left of your dignity, and your reputation as both businessperson and baseball fan. Use that time to make the correct decision for the franchise you have claimed to love. Use that time to make the correct decision for the fans you claim to serve.
Your tenure as owner of the Dodgers has become emblematic of the very worst in sports ownership. You bought the team without actually having the money to afford the responsibility. You used the team’s cash flows to lead a lifestyle you neither earned or could afford on your own. You did exactly what the most irresponsible homeowners and developers did in the years leading to the Great Recession; purchase something you could not afford in the hopes that its value would increase enough to bail you out. You committed these sins using a treasure of the sports world, using fraudulent methods and with a callous disregard for those who would be harmed. Even now, as your mismanagement of this historic franchise has led it to ruin, you seek to leverage yet more of its future.
It is OK folks, we are all grown-ups here. If you have fought the battle to stave off the the silly concepts of ”gay marriage”, “civil union”, or “equal protection under the law”, we understand. Just do the world a favor, and be honest about your reasons. At the risk of stereotyping, you folks fighting against the rights of LGBT persons are generally the same people who dislike political correctness, so what is your obstacle? Tell the truth! You don’t think gay marriage is a good idea, because you don’t like homosexuals. Oh I know, it isn’t that you don’t like them; hate the sin, love the sinner, right?
Get real. The fight against marriage equality is about the fear and loathing of homosexuality, pure and simple. Yet those doing the fighting have, with cold calculation and shameless cowardice, labeled their crusade, The Defense of Marriage. The notion is sickening really, and many Americans have bought into the idea. I suppose I understand the buyers; for most straight people, the idea of homosexual sex is less than appetizing. You might compare the visual to that of two ugly people having sex…or two fat people having sex. You might make the comparison, except that ugly and fat people are still allowed to get married, so long as they are ugly, fat, and straight. Apparently, the threat to marriage posed by the physically unattractive isn’t on the radar yet, and that, at least, is something.
Do we define national security by absolute need and best practice, or do we define it as a function of political context? Is the conflict in Afghanistan (and the sticky situation in Pakistan) a matter of national security, or is it a war of choice based on stubborn ideals and historical ignorance? As President Obama comes to the end of an abbreviated review of the 18 months since the Afghan Surge, these should be questions at the top of his mind.
For a nation that spent two decades avoiding conflicts under the aegis of “It could be another Viet Nam”, with Afghanistan the United States was quick to jump feet first into “another Viet Nam”. The conflict is expensive, bloody, logistically difficult, reliant on a corrupt local government, unpopular with the locals, and geopolitically risky. The delicate balance crafted by David Petraeus in Afghanistan has not (and cannot) limit the collateral damage done in Pakistan. The wars we might win or avoid via a succesful action in Afghanistan, pale in comparison to the wars we can unintentionally start involving Pakistan. Foreign policy is a high wire act at the best of times; the addition of military action, however, makes it a one-legged high wire act.
Well friends, it is just one of those days. Every little thing is getting under my skin, and the thin veneer of rationality I cling to has been ripped asunder. In fact, that last sentence is just about all the fancy prose I can muster this evening, so I will get to the point of this post. What follows is a list of items, habits, events, and people that are sure to raise my ire. Some of them may be familiar to you, some of you may even be guilty of these sins (I know I am).
So no politics today; no rants on sports justice, economics, or the vagaries of national security, just a good old fashioned bitch session. Feel free to join in the comments that follow; just think of this as psychotherapy without the couch or big bill. (Of course, if paying a big bill makes you feel cared for, the donate key is to the left.)
It isn’t who you think; the leeches who live on public sympathies while returning little social value. A sustained debate has been held in this nation on the costs and benefits of items ranging from food subsidies to heating oil subsidies to free health care. Across the nation, it is human capital, and the commercial infrastructure it supports that is up for debate. But in the wide-ranging argument over who is worth the money, one group remains conspicuously above criticism; professional sports owners.
We love our major league entertainment in America; I am a long-suffering fan of the Cleveland Browns, and a rabid supporter of the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a former high school athlete (not very good) and youth sports coach (better than average), I am a believer in the value of sport. I am also, however, a believer in prioritization. To put a twist on a favorite quote from Mr. Holland’s Opus, “If I must choose between football and long division, I choose long division.” In the movie, the principal is canceling the music and drama programs to close a budget gap, the football program he leaves untouched. That is an example of Hollywood reflecting life, but our high schools are just following the trend we the people have established at the big league level. At a time of teacher layoffs and wholesale attacks on the idea of public education, our nation continues to spend public money at a rate of $1 billion per year on stadiums for professional sports. If you are one of those good folks who are outraged at $4 million earmarks to study bear DNA, you might want to take notes.
Then First Lady Hillary Clinton chaired the group that, in 1993, proposed the last major attempt at health reform before the Affordable Care Act of 2010. The plan was widely panned, and politicians and pundits of every stripe (including Congressional Democrats) rushed to form alternatives. The conservative Heritage Foundation proposed an innovative idea built around insurance exchanges and an individual mandate to carry health insurance. The plan was built in recognition of costs that were inflating rapidly due to a lack of real competition.
It was an interesting idea in 1993; so interesting that when President Obama and others went looking for a politically realistic alternative to single-payer health care, they adopted the concept of exchanges (and the mandate) as the core of their plan. As Mitt Romney had already passed a version of the Heritage Plan in Massachusetts, it seemed like a good idea. The problem, of course, is that it isn’t 1993 anymore; politics isn’t about problem-solving anymore, it is about winning. To make matters worse, it appears that conservatives have abandoned any pretense of creativity or reason in their approach to leadership. Reminiscent of Henry Ford’s position on customer choice (you can have the Model-T in any color you want, as long as its black), conservatives are willing to use any means to solve national problems, as long as the solution is a tax cut.