What's All This Then?

commentary on the passing parade

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Monday, October 17, 2005

Supporters of the Iraq adventure who complain that the "liberal press" doesn’t report enough of the good news coming out of that country should be happy this morning. Not that there’s any front page reporting about how well - we hope - the voting went for their new constitution. But there are signs that the media - liberal or otherwise - can sometimes get their reportorial priorities in the right - no pun intended - perspective.

For example, in my newspaper this morning, I find headlines on page three telling me that Disputes erupt over Iraq voting and that Kashmir rain worsens quake toll - on page four that Cellblock blaze kills 32 as convicts fight in Argentine prison - and on page six that West Bank attack kills 3 Israelis. All "bad news items." And all on the inside pages.

But on page one, there is one, super sized, good news headline Party like it’s 1959! it says. 1959 of course being the last time the Chicago White Sox were in the world series. I don’t know on what page similar headlines are appearing in newspapers in other American cities, but at least in Chicago, we have front page headlines that can be approved by people from the outer fringes of the political left to the extreme edge of the political right - and that’s a rare day in the annals of the American Fourth Estate. The Chicago White Sox are in the World Series.

And now, having applauded the Chicago press for putting the bad and good news stories of the day where they belong, I’m going to say something negative about the Chicago White Sox - or maybe it’s about baseball in general. I’m happy for the Sox and for their fans. I don’t really follow the game myself, but I’m always happy to see local teams doing well - so in that limited sense, I too am a fan of both the White Sox and the Cubs. But amid the celebration, it sounded a little strange to hear someone on the radio this morning point out that one of the heroes of the series so far is a free agent -and to follow that up with the comment "kching kching" - indicating of course that to retain this player’s services, the Sox will need to be able to come up with bigger bucks than he’s currently being paid. Otherwise, next year he could be the hero of a different team that plays against and defeats you!! And then I read in the paper that not a single member of the American League 2005 championship team, is a Chicago native!! Not one. Ouch!!

I understand that baseball is a business as much as it is a sport - and in order to be successful and fill the seats of a stadium, a team has to gather together the best players that it can assemble - no matter what city, state or country they may be from. (Except for the Cubs of course. They could field a team of sword swallowing sumo wrestlers and they’d still sell out the house). But for many professional sports teams, locally born and raised players are the exceptions - not the rule. So who or what is it that the fans root for?

The answer of course is the franchise. The team name. And that’s the case whether the franchise has been there forever or moved from another city just last year. As a fan, your relationship with the players is based on the fact that they play for the franchise and wear the team franchise colors. They may be from Japan or Venezuela or Fiji and some may not speak a word of English - but as long as they play for the "home team" - they are the ones who are representing your home town and so they are the ones you cheer and support as your team.

Most of the time, you don’t dwell on such things, but when you read something that stark - not one player was born or grew up here, it gives you a funny feeling .

I’m sure it would be a lot more satisfactory if the heart of any "home" team was made up of home grown players, so that occasionally fans could look out onto the field and see someone they went to grade school or high school with. Or who attended the same church when you all were kids. It does happen of course with some teams even if it’s rare. . It probably happens with the White Sox too. People sitting in the stand and cheering someone they went to school or church with

As long as the people doing the cheering for the current Chicago White Sox aren’t from Chicago!


Some people who are at opposite poles of the political spectrum in this country have a hard time understanding why anyone would vote for the "other party" or the "other guy." Sometimes their disagreement and their lack of understanding of the other person’s politics takes on pretty harsh tones.

Sometimes we find ourselves agreeing with the kind of harsh conclusion reflected in the UK Daily Mirror ‘s reaction to last year’s US election. How could 59,054,087 people be so dumb? How indeed?

But our conclusions and our analyses often depend on our pre-conceived ideas and beliefs - and arguments about glasses being half full are countered with arguments about them being half empty. And vice versa.

But sometimes there is evidence that I think speaks for itself and isn’t dependent on the half full/half empty analogy. That number cited by the Daily Mirror represents a majority of the American voting public. The Daily Mirror - and perhaps a good many of the better than 50 million that voted the other way, might think of people who didn’t vote the way they did as being gullible. As being among the kind of persons that David Hannum (not P.T. Barnum) said was "born every minute" Suckers that is.

The evidence that I think tells us something about the electorate in general - and in my view about the majority of that electorate - is to be found in the New York Times Best Seller List. I wrote about the phenomenon of a phony who had written a piece of nonsense about "natural cures that "they" - pharmaceutical companies - don’t want you to know about" on August 24, 2005. The book - if you can call it that - had found it’s way to the top of the best seller list. Nor surprising. If you announce that you have found a way to turn pennies into solid gold by soaking them in some common household substances and that you are selling the secret for $19.95 - as long as you make the announcement with enough of a flourish, you’ll get enough of a response to bring in a modest retirement fund. There are enough suckers out there to make almost any kind of scam profitable in the short run. And that I am sure is what Kevin Trudeau had in mind when he came up with his "Natural Cures" scam.

But here it is November 17, 2005 - almost three months after I wrote about it here - and in last Sunday’s paper, Natural Cures was still at the top of the best seller list!! There apparently is no end in sight to the available suckers who will buy into this scam - those who can be conned into believing that there are simple ways to cure major diseases and that the pharmaceutical industry knows all about these cures but is keeping them hidden from the public so that they can go on selling their expensive drugs .

I know that there is no requirement for those enriching this conn artist’s coffers to declare their political affiliation or preferences, but still I think the numbers tell us something about ourselves and about last year’s elections. I think they tell us how it is that 59,054,087 people could indeed be "so dumb" Enough of us are suckers who can be conned into just about anything. Into believing that there is a "natural" cure for cancer that the pharmaceutical industry is " hiding" from us. And that George W Bush deserved to be elected for a second term!!