But first, we have a new "Think Again" column, called "The Nth Time is Farce: Neocons Attack the NIE, Yet Again," and it's here.
So, read the entire Mitchell Report yesterday. Yep -- 409 pages. I have several observations:
- I am not surprised that none of the steroid links in the report go beyond the media reports we already had. In other words, there is no real news here. Mitchell and his staff did a lot of rewriting of stuff we already knew and almost no digging.
- Mitchell, who is a director of the Boston Red Sox, did not name any current Red Sox players in the report. The report does have a nice anecdote about the Red Sox management deciding not to trade for a pitcher who was rumored to be "on the juice." Ah, literature's team. So squeaky clean. Hmmmmmmm.
- A whole lot of the players named -- the vast majority, in fact -- had really lame and short careers. So how much "performance enhancement" actually went on? In other words, how come the Orioles sucked so badly over the last decade when so many of their players were juiced?
- Most of the players named had spent at least a little time on an AL East club. No other division was as heavily represented -- not even the NL West. Toronto seemed to be a hotbed of dealing and dabbling once Canseco showed up. But we knew that.
- A whole lot of Mets and Yankees are on the list, including one from the 1986 Mets. Bitter over something, George?
Anyway, the reports tells us a lot of what we already knew: Steroid use was rampant and regular. A few stars used it. A lot of bad players used it. And nobody did anything about it (except, apparently, the angelic Red Sox front office). Yawn.
"Now I'm sitting here/sipping at my ice-cold beer/lazing on a sunny afternoon."
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click -- "Lonesome Christmas" (Bobby Charles) -- Once again, I have failed to write a note to remind myself to carve into the freshly fallen snow on the side of Mount Washington a sonnet on the subject of how much I love New Orleans.
My friend, Siv, sitting in the ruins of a dynasty, broken marble monuments all around him, misunderstands the Mitchell Report, I believe. It was never going to be definitive. It was supposed to be the equivalent of a decent congressional committee investigation, which is to say, equal parts straight gumshoe work, and proposals moving forward to solve the problem under discussion. In this, and given the structural limitations on Mitchell's work, I thought it succeeded rather well, and there is nobody more opposed to random drug-testing without cause than I am. (My reply to the advocates of this sort of stuff begins always with the phrase, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons ..." and then goes on from there, and Antonin Scalia can bite me if he doesn't like it.) It certainly changed the conversation. The Clemens revelations are the noisiest, but I certainly am having a merry old time envisioning Andy Pettitte -- Committed Christian and former part-time television Bible salesman -- shooting the juice into his redeemed keister. I read the Red Sox portion of the report differently from Siv. I think they took a hit. As I read the findings, the Red Sox this year knew that Brendan Donnelly and Eric Gagne -- $10 million from the Brewers this week? Jeebus Christmas, even I was never that drunk in Milwaukee -- had juicing issues and acquired them anyway. That said, the happy-talk notion that the PED [performance-enhancing drugs] era of baseball is closed is lunatic nonsense. Science, after all, marches on. Sooner or later, and I expect sooner, someone's going to concoct a potion that makes you a better athlete without damaging your health. That will be the day the era ends, because everybody will do this stuff and what will be left of the current era will be empty moralizing. You cannot make a morally coherent argument that there are no ethical problems with taking a drug -- painkillers, corticosteroids etc. -- to make a performance possible, but that there are ethical problems with taking a drug to make your performance better. The concept of "drug-free" sports is laughable. Exhibit A for the prosecution in this regard is the National Football League. Take all the drugs out of the NFL, and the season's a half-hour long.
I guess we're all supposed to be horrified this week that Hillary Clinton is acting like a tough political candidate. (If Matthews crosses his legs over his cojones any tighter, he's going to be doing the show as a soprano for the rest of his career.) I have grown a bit tired of the whole Obama-as-the-anti-Hildebeast meme, which the Obama people have determined is the non-Oprah key to his current surge. Indeed, Obama's campaign has begun to make my skin crawl a little bit. The we-are-the-world optimism that not only blinds him to the fundamental corruption of the regime he hopes to replace, but also makes you wonder if he's the guy to come in and throw daylight into all the dark corners of the past seven years. The willingness to employ Republican storylines on Senator Clinton and, far more seriously, on Social Security in an apparent attempt to win the vital Green Room Primary in Washington and to appeal to mythical "moderates" who don't exist and won't vote for him anyway. If we're ever going to get past the depredations of the Bush Administration -- many of which, I guarantee you, are still deeply secret -- it is an insufficient remedy to declare that the "politics of division" are now over and we will now reunite under a banner and move forward together. In the first place, there already is a conservative attack machine in place that will nuke whoever a Democratic president is the moment he or she lifts a hand off the Bible. Moreover, there must be an accounting if the corruption is to be cleansed and the constitutional order restored. There is no way to do this without an angry, bloody, and, yes, political process. The next president's most critical function in the early days is not to make us all feel good about our country again. It is to be the head of an informal national Truth Commission. I'm not sure if Obama even wants this job.
Finally, Eric, someone who agrees with me. I think that Shaheen's comments -- which came from a question that was almost planted by the Obama camp -- were totally fair. He in no way spread any rumors or anything else, and the fact that a basic admission is in Obama's own work means it WILL arise. But the Obama Chicago machine is much quicker than the old Carville-style war room. They get out the response before the offense has taken place. It's the political equivalent of a rabbit-punch in the clinch. And for that, and for his seeming cooperation in the Goreification of Hillary by the Russert-Matthews-Dowd Axis of Weasels, I no longer love the man. If Hillary falls, it's Edwards for me.
For once, George W. Bush comes to the aid of a Democrat. His drunken and dissolute youth immunizes anyone from drug abuse or use. Obama used cocaine, confessed it was a mistake, and stopped. How is that different than W's admitted boozing and undenied drugging? It's a non-issue.
I used to watch Tom Brokaw all the time in the very early 70s when he started on KNBC here in L.A. He was the ultimate square. That's why I laughed out loud when I heard he was going to tell us all about the 60s -- a more clueless, unhip authority could not be imagined. It would be like having Rachael Ray lecturing to us about Escoffier or something similar.