Friday, September 30, 2011

The American Spectator Sports

The Presidency of the United States has thus far been the domain exclusively of the male of the species, and nothing says “testosterone” quite like a passion for sports.  The current and many former Presidents have come to be defined in our memories by their love of a chosen sport.  Gerald Ford was an avid golfer and a former college football player.  JFK played the field.  George W. Bush was an avid mountain biker, owned a major league baseball franchise and started a tradition of T-ball games on the White House lawn.  Of course, we are all familiar with Obama’s private basketball games and occasional (my friends on the right would argue with my use of the word ‘occasional’ here) golf outings with members of the opposite party.  Playing and following sports reinforces in the mind of the public the Commander-in-Chief’s vigor and more importantly, his manhood.  The public sees reflected character traits, strengths and flaws, in the President’s choice of sport, and those character traits can either help or hurt his all-important job approval ratings.  Nobody wants a wimp (see Bush 41).

If the polls are correct, there is a 50-50 chance that one of the current contenders for the GOP nomination will win the Presidency, and then we will look for meaning in the sport they bring to the new White House.  Will a new President endorse a mild, non-contact sport, or perhaps a friendly game of chance?  Will a new President participate in the sport, or watch casually from the sidelines?  And what will that tell us about the real person behind that red power tie (or pastel pants suit)?

I wonder…

If Mitt Romney wins, I think we’re looking at 4 years of polo matches on the South Lawn.  If he wants to project an image of champion of private sector, he’ll need to ride like one and swing that mallet with New England gusto.  Besides, everyone Mitt hangs out with today plays polo, so it’s an easy transition.

Of course, after a long hot Washington summer, the stench of elitism emanating from those polo ponies may force Romney to revisit his childhood passion, dodgeball.  "If you can dodge a question, you can dodge a ball," his quixotic mentor, Patches O'Houlihan, taught a young Romney when Mitt was a dodgeball prodigy.  The lessons on winning dodgeball he learned from Patches ("Dodge.  Duck.  Dip. Dive.  Dodge.") have shaped his political philosophy, and have helped him stay in front of the Average Joe's.

If Rick Perry wins, I see lots of poker games.  If ESPN can broadcast several hours each day of people playing cards, it must be a sport.  Under a velvet “Dogs Playing Poker” painting, neatly hung in the East Room, Rick and his Texas cohorts will smoke cigars, cuss, spit, and banter about foreign policy using off-color jokes.  There’s a new sheriff in town, but the Secret Service would still not allow concealed weapons to be brought into the game, especially since Karl Rove might try to crash the game.

If Ron Paul wins, his policy on sports will be simple: “Play whatever the hell sport you want.  It’s a free country!”

If Rick Santorum wins, the sport of choice will be Greco-Roman wrestling in the Rose Garden.  There’s something Biblical for Santorum about enjoying a sweaty bout whose origins date back to the days when man and dinosaurs lived together in harmony.  Vice-President Bachmann’s spouse is destined to be club champion, not that there is anything wrong with that.

If Michelle Bachmann wins, we’ll be exposed to weekly “It’s Academic” matches designed to help the average American become exceptional by unlearning U.S. history, recognizing the blasphemy of scientific inquiry, and the embracing the futility of foreign language study.  This, we would be told, was a sport the Founding Fathers would endorse.  The Marine Band would play God Bless America right before the Lightning Round, and immediately after “Toss Up”.    

If Newt Gingrich wins, we’ll be looking at Joey Chestnut challenging the world from the North Portico in the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, finally elevating competitive eating to its rightful place among the 4 major sports.  Eating too much is an American as apple pie...or several apple pies, and no one running for President knows that more than Newt (assuming Chris Christie remains on the sidelines).

If Sarah Palin runs and wins, the choice is clear – biathlon.  Since we are a few years removed from the last Winter Olympics, the sport of biathlon combines cross country skiing with target shooting, the perfect marriage of her Alaskan roots and her love for weapons of death.  There should be plenty of snow and extreme weather in DC by the time her term ends, since her election would represent the voice of the people overruling the science of climate change.  Burn those fossil fuels, grab your skis and rifle, and let it snow in September!

If Gary Johnson wins the election, his administration will play touch football on grounds of the Capitol, an American game that’s good clean fun.  Unfortunately, he would never get picked for any of the teams, and photos of him pouting on the sidelines would go viral on Twitter, effectively killing his policy agenda.

If Herman Cain wins, arm wrestling would rule the day.  The rules of arm wrestling are few, filling far less than 3 pages, so this sport would fit perfectly into his signature policy promise that no federal laws would take up more than 3 written pages.  And nothing goes better with arm wrestling than – you guessed it – a hot delicious Godfather pizza, offered no doubt at a special Cain administration price of $9.99, in honor of his 9-9-9 plan. 

If Jon Huntsman wins, it’s NASCAR through the streets of DC.  Huntsman will have to embrace NASCAR because it is the only way he’ll be able to keep the interest of those gearhead voters while he spends hours in arcane discussions of “trade policy” and “foreign currency markets”.  Besides, drinking milk after winning a race suits his Ward Cleaver image to a tee.

We’ll find out soon enough if any of these characters has a sporting chance against hoop star Obama next November.  I think he might have some long 3-pointers up his sleeve.  Game on.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sweet Dreams Are Made of These

In early September, I was reading articles about the lack of excitement in the baseball pennant races.  Every position in the post season was practically sown up.  In the AL, it was going to be the Tigers, Rangers, Yankees and BoSox.  In the NL, we were prepared for the Phillies, Braves, Diamondbacks and Brewers.  If there was going to be any doubt about those entrants into the fall tournament, it would come from the Angels in the AL West or the Giants in the NL West.  What happened was something else altogether, and I stayed up to watch the final chapter of the 2011 regular season unfold last night, furiously flipping the pages of baseball history back and forth with my trusty remote control.

3 games, 1 TV.  ( St. Louis’ shellacking of the Astros 8-0 was fortunately not televised or my remote control batteries might have failed).  Thank goodness the flurry of late night/early morning game ending dramas didn’t occur concurrently so I would have time to change channels and witness all the action. 
I won’t replay the entire evening of baseball for you.  That’s why God invented ESPN.  Check in with any of their 25 paid baseball analysts on any one of the myriad of ESPN stations (even ESPN 8 – the Ocho – has the highlights) and you’ll find a detailed video history of what went down while most of you slept.

The final regularly scheduled day of the season began with hope and anxiety in St. Louis, Tampa, Boston, and Atlanta.  Boston and Atlanta were collapsing while Tampa and St. Louis were rising, but their respective records met in the middle and were dead even after 161 games.  4 teams, but only one from each league would qualify for the playoffs.  Losers go home.  Hope and anxiety reigned in all 4 locales, and given the last 3 weeks of baseball, who could blame them? 
Anxiety and hope were replaced with disappointment and rejoicing after 4+ hours of baseball madness, all concluding in a matter of minutes.  For a game that prides itself on not having a clock, I couldn’t stop watching the clock as my bedtime kept pushing later and later and later.  In the 11th inning of the Yankees-Rays game, I resigned myself to staying up as long as it would take to reach a verdict.  Time was something to worry about in the morning.  At that moment, time was irrelevant.  I was awake and would remain so.  I was alone, but was certain that I wasn’t alone.  It was a shared experience.

I have to write out a brief recap of what transpired (and trust me, this is the short version).  This is as much for the readers as it is for me.  I won’t be able to believe it if I don’t write it down.
  • Red Sox have a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 9th against one of the worst teams in the American League, the Baltimore Orioles.  2 outs, 2 strikes on the hitter, no one on base, and the Sox have their All-Star closer on the hill.  Sox lose 4-3 after 3 straight hits.
  • Tampa Bay Rays are losing 7-0 in the 8th inning to the Yankees.  The Rays storm back with 6 in the 8th to make it a one run game.  Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, no one on base, 2 strikes on the hitter.  Sound familiar?  Pinch hitter drills a line drive home run to tie the game and send it into extra frames.  Rays win on walk off homer in the bottom of the 12th, minutes after the Sox choke.  (Kinda of an Aaron Boone moment, in reverse – home run causes Yankees lose which causes Red Sox to be eliminated).
  • Braves know that St. Louis has won, and must win to force a one game playoff the following day.  Leading the Phillies 3-2 in the 9th, they hand the ball to their All-Star closer.  He gives up the tying run in the 9th and the Phillies force extra innings.  Braves blow it, and lose in 13 innings, 4-3.
On this same day in baseball, the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg provided a glimmer of hope for a fan base ready to cheer a local contender here in DC.  He threw 6 scoreless innings and sprinkled in 10 Ks, a performance that reminded me to buy Opening Day tickets for 2012.  While I wrapped myself in the late night September drama of other teams last night, I went to bed wondering if next year, it would be the local team playing with purpose on September 28, 2012.

Sweet dreams. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shooting Off at the Mouth

MSRP has been known to print an original parody of popular political issues from time to time.  Today, we bring you a genuine self-parody from Wayne LaPierre, one of the NRA’s highest-profile leaders.  Here is LaPierre’s most recent assault on comedy:

“[The Obama campaign] will say gun owners — they’ll say they left them alone,” LaPierre told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday. “In public, he’ll remind us that he’s put off calls from his party to renew the Clinton [assault weapons] ban, he hasn’t pushed for new gun control laws… The president will offer the 2nd Amendment lip service and hit the campaign trail saying he’s actually been good for the 2nd Amendment.”

“But it’s a big fat stinking lie!” the NRA leader exclaimed. “It’s all part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters and destroy the 2nd Amendment in our country.”

“Obama himself is no fool. So when he got elected, they concocted a scheme to stay away from the gun issue, lull gun owners to sleep and play us for fools in 2012. Well, gun owners are not fools and we are not fooled,” La Pierre declared.

“… President Obama and his cohorts, yeah, they’re going to deny their conspiracy to fool gun owners. Some in the liberal media, they are already probably blogging about it. But we don’t care because the lying, conniving Obama crowd can kiss our Constitution!”

He was serious.  Let that one sink in for a moment. 

The leader of the NRA thinks that Obama (and a mysterious group known only as “they”) took these pro-Second Amendment steps:
·         signed an executive order that allows concealed loaded weapons onto national park property;
·         asked his own party not to request an extension of the Clinton era assault weapons ban;
·         ignored calls for greater gun control in the wake of the Gabby Giffords’ shooting in Tucson;
all as part of a concerted, secret plan to lull gun owners to sleep so he could win reelection and THEN take their guns.

That LaPierre was serious is reason enough for me to insist that we take HIS guns.       

Like everything else in my life, I associate real life events with television.  This nonsensical conspiracy theory reminds me of a Seinfeld episode when Kramer takes all of Jerry’s sneakers to the Mom and Pop store for repairs, only to later find out that Mom and Pop closed up shop and left town with Jerry’s shoes.  Kramer deduced that this must have been all part of Mom and Pop’s master plan – move into the neighborhood, establish a business and build trust…for 50 years…in order to eventually steal Jerry’s sneakers.  Ingenious.

Attention, Mr. LaPierre.  This is another voice in your head.  Just as we treat Kramer, we are not laughing with you – we are laughing at you.  Thanks for the entertainment, but please seek professional assistance with your delusions.  You are scaring us, and anyone else with a thread of common sense left.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inside the Red Zone

Here in the DC market, the Redskins have already earned a playoff berth, and played the Cowboys last night with home field advantage throughout at stake.  Never let it be said that there are any more optimistic, or blindly loyal, fans in the country than Redskins fans.  And nothing gets their blood pumping more than a classic Redskins-Cowboys game.  Sure, the last meaningful game between these two franchises took place on Thanksgiving Day 1974 (thanks to Clint Longley), but never let that inconvenient truth get in the way of a good rivalry.

I spent the better part of my drive time yesterday listening to the beat reporters prognosticate about last night’s matchup, and I came away ready to fully enjoy the game now that I had the insider knowledge necessary to more deeply appreciate the action.  Thank goodness for pre-game analysis, stats, and more analysis and more stats.  Now, in the wake of the Redskins defeat at the hands of Jerry and his ‘Boys, I share those insights with you.  These reporters were spot on, as you will see.

Here are the collective Keys to the Game, as heard on talk radio, ad naseum:

1.       Protect the football.  Win the turnover battle.  Don’t fumble, and get fumbles.  Don’t throw interceptions, and get interceptions.
2.       Control the line of scrimmage.  If our guys push around your guys, we have a better chance at winning.
3.       Minimize the penalties.  If we move forward on the field, that is better than moving backwards.
4.       Control the time of possession.  If we have the football, we have a better chance at scoring points than if the other team has the football.  You need to actually have the football to score.
5.       Special teams.  We don’t know exactly what this means, but after offense and defense, it is the 3rd most important on field consideration.
6.       Don’t allow the big play.  Lots of small plays added together could equal one big play, so refer back to Key to the Game #4 if you are confused.
7.       Pressure the quarterback.  If the other team’s quarterback finds it difficult to throw the ball, that is good for our team.  This is sometimes expressed with the contrarian, “Protect the quarterback”.
8.       Run the football.  The run establishes the pass.  The pass establishes the run.  Pretty much do both, the pundits recommended.
9.       Stretch the field.  Since the other team is only allowed 11 players at a time, it is harder for those 11 to protect a stretched field than a non-stretched field.
10.   Score more points than the other guys.  This one could probably be #1, but then we’d have 10 hours less per day of riveting pre-game programming with former jocks, retired meteorologists, and assorted amateur humorists. 

Feel free to drop these morsels of wisdom into your next water cooler discussion before the next game you plan to dissect this weekend.  The Keys to the Game do not discriminate by team, or by week of the season.  No attribution necessary, you’re welcome. 

I can’t wait for the Monday Night Football post-game autopsy on the drive home.  It’s been 3 weeks without a quarterback controversy in DC, and it was getting a bit dull.

Is it too late for Colt Brennan? 

Friday, September 23, 2011

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

Several years ago, I was going through a box of memorabilia that Cherie had saved since her wild days at Radford.  Among the sorority dance glassware, the cringe-worthy dormitory candid photos and the dried flower petals from a long-forgotten date, she had a concert poster.  This was an unusual item for Cherie who has no real interest in music pop culture.  Apparently, Cherie had been on the Student Life concert committee at school, an odd role for someone who does not recognize the opening guitar riff for Freebird. 

It was a 1’ x 2’ poster advertising a December 9, 1986 concert by REM to be held at the Dedmon Center (student tickets $10.50).  I looked closer at the poster, and it had several scribbles.  Now I was starring in my own episode of Antique Road Show.  “Cherie,” I said, “This poster was signed by every member of the band.  REM signed it personally to you!” 
For my musically challenged bride, this meant nothing.  I tried in vain to impress upon her the value of this find.  REM was arguably one of the greatest American bands of the 1980s and early 90s, and they all took the time to sign Cherie’s poster.  I was so excited that I overlooked the fact that each band member misspelled Cherie’s name (a common mistake given the multiple variations of the name).  It was the thought that counted.  Besides, someone who spells their first name “Sherrie” might someday pay big money for this personalized treasure.

I framed the poster and it hangs with pride in my basement, next to framed albums covers from Devo, Talking Heads, The English Beat, and of course, REM (Life’s Rich Pageant).  Now REM has something else in common with those bands besides hanging on my wall.  They no longer make new music. 
Yesterday, the greatest band to ever come from Athens, GA (with all due respect to the B-52s) announced on their website that the band is breaking up.  After 15 albums and multiple Billboard hit songs, that’s it.  You may occasionally catch one of the band members working a studio gig or making a state fair appearance, but for REM, the game is over.  The announcement was more formality than anything, since the last REM album I ever bought was Monster in 1994, and I suspect I am not alone in that category.  Their run as a ‘monster’ indie-college underground rock band with an eclectic lead singer, lyrics you couldn’t understand and a unique blend of acoustic sounds was over 15 years ago.  The Internet farewell was but a whimpered goodbye, leaving me to wonder whether it isn’t “better to burn out than to fade away”. 
The memories of REM are not just mine alone.  Their music touched many areas of popular culture.  Andy Kaufmann will never be forgotten since Stipe immortalized him in Man on the Moon, which later became the name of a Jim Carrey clunker.  Stand from the album Document had a short run as the TV theme for Chris Elliott’s cult hit, Get a Life (Elliott’s humor was what I like to call ‘an acquired taste”).  And who could forget Chris Farley and David Spade mumbling the words to It’s the End of the World (as We Know It) as they drove across the Midwest in search of customer for their Callahan brake pads.  It was funny because at one time or another we all tried to keep up with Stipe’s vocals on that song, and we never could.  And we never will.

Finally, the senseless beating of Dan Rather on a New York street in the 1990s would be a forgotten incident if not for the attacker’s repeated goading of “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?” as his blows reigned down, a nonsensical phrase that REM turned into one of their most memorable lyrics.  

My desert island REM mix, after including every song from Eponymous, would include Bang and Blame, Harborcoat, Pretty Persuasion, Moral Kiosk, Superman, Me In Honey, and most of Automatic for the People.  Run, don't walk, to iTunes and test them out.

REM.  They are part of music history, they are part of popular cultural history, and today, they’re just history.  Thanks for the soundtrack. 
“Driver 8, take a break, we can reach our destination.  But we’re still a way's away.” 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dirty Laundry

There is a stain on my pants.

Unfortunately, that is not a metaphor for some grander statement on life and love.  It is a factual statement that is causing me great distress.  I am afraid that this stain marks the end of an era for me and this loyal pair of pants.  It is time to put this particular pair out of its misery.  I can no longer ignore the warning signs of wear and tear.  These slacks have served me well lo’ these many years through the formal and the casual, and work days and the weekends.  Today I will be throwing these pants away.  I will reluctantly buy new ones, but these will never truly be replaced.

Ladies, I know you think that we men are all Neanderthals without any self-consciousness or self-awareness when it comes to our personal appearance and fashion sense, and for the most part, you are correct.  We boys can survive in the wild of modern civilization with no more than 4 pairs of shoes (dress brown, dress black, casual brown, sneakers…maybe a pair of flip flops in place of the dress black, but you get the picture).  We are simple creatures, in mind, taste and sophistication.  The concept of Garanimals clothing was designed for us.  Match the rhinoceros top with the rhinoceros bottoms, and you’re ready for an evening on the town!  Creative thinking when coordinating an outfit was a recipe for disaster, we were taught, so we learned to keep it simple.

This is why we love our khaki pants. 
Khaki pants are to the man’s wardrobe what the little black dress is to the woman’s – perfect for all occasions, easily dressed up or down, never out of style, matches everything.  The 4 shirts in our regular rotation, regardless of how ugly or outside of our color wheel these shirts may be, will all work seamlessly with our khakis.   We only need 2 pairs of khakis (one pair might be in the wash) – one light and one dark.  As for shirts, we need a lot of them, primarily to set a mood, to demonstrate our individuality and our ability to show whimsy on occasion, even though we only wear a small handful.  Heck, even a sports team jersey can be comfortably tossed over a pair of khakis, and you’re ready for an evening of buffalo wings and lagers.  Life is best when lived simply, and nothing is more simple than our go-to safe choice in pants.

 Is khaki a color or a style?  No one really knows.  What I do know is that I own a variety of khaki pants in a wide variety of shades and cuts that create for me the illusion that I have varied tastes.  Some of my pants are tan; some are wheat-colored; some are the shade of stone.  Some are best described as concrete; or tan, off-white, sand, taupe, camel, or oatmeal.  My closet features flat fronts, reverse pleats, double pleats, cuffed bottoms, relaxed and tapered styles.

I’ll miss this specific pair of khakis, however, more than most pairs.  Over these past 14 years, they have consistently provided a spectacular drape, the perfect full break, and superior wearability.  The microfiber material that in 1997 was new and forward thinking holds the crease and does not show the wrinkles after long periods of sitting.  These pants worked with a sport coat or a t-shirt.  They always fit, and that reminded me that my waist size has remained remarkably consistent for a long time.  That’s a good thing.

 Time and regular trips to the dry cleaners have taken their toll.  I knew that we were on borrowed time together.  Beyond the new found stain on the left thigh (stain origin, chemistry and date of acquisition unknown, by the way), there is a worn spot on the back right pocket where bottom corner of my wallet has eroded away threading, not quite transparent yet, but headed in that direction.  For the last couple years, I noticed unsightly pilling around the entry to the side on-seam front pockets.  The zipper was beginning to stick, always a source of frustration.  The metal clasp in front that joined the waistband together was starting to wear through the front ever so slightly, a sign of age hidden only by a leather belt.  The cumulative effect was a well broken-in pair of pants that was becoming just broken.

I don’t want to give up on these pants in spite of the mounting evidence that they have ‘worn out’ their welcome, so to speak.  The truth is that when it comes to a man’s clothes, the devil you know may be better than the devil you don’t know.  Old and familiar trumps new and stiff (insert your own joke here).  I am not looking forward to shopping for a new pair of pants.  It’s like a pressure packed speed dating experience.  You run from store to store and make instant judgments on what the rest of your life might be with that pair of pants in your closet.  They look good in the store, but maybe it’s the lighting.  Maybe they look good now, but what about in a couple of years?  Will I regret hooking up with these pants?  It’s a big commitment…especially when ever pair you see just reminds you of the pair that used to be yours.
Today I only have one pair that is dark tan, microfiber, double pleated, cuffed, with a relaxed fit and a wonderful history of service to its owner.  These pants, my pants, now have a stain.  This is the end, beautiful friend, my only friend, the end.  I hate to set you free.

Good thing I have another matching pair in the alternate stone color.  Those are completely different, though. 

Friday, September 16, 2011


I read in The Week recently that a California man is suing Hilton Hotels for charging him $0.75 on his bill for a copy of USA Today that was left in front of his door.  He didn’t ask for the newspaper, so didn’t think it should be on his bill.  The complaint said that the unwanted newspaper represented an “offensive waste of precious resources” and that Hilton was contributing to “deforestation” by distributing the fish wrap.

At first glance over this snippet, I was sympathetic to the man’s cause.  There is nothing more frustrating than unwanted charges on a hotel bill, or any bill for that matter.  Secretly sticking dollar amounts on invoices for services never used and worse, never requested, seems like legalized theft, and thank goodness someone stood up for all of us little people.  It’s not the $0.75, it’s the principle!  Next, I hoped this nameless champion of the people would go after the phone company, the cable company, and the car repair shops.  “What’s a flux capacitor, and why are you charging me $14.87 for one???”  Power to the people!!!

At second glance, I recognized the crack pot nature of the lawsuit.  There would be a stronger case against Hilton for contributing to the moral bankruptcy of the nation by releasing young Paris into our midst (actually, that could be a very strong case…).  It is not clear to me from the story why this gentleman is staying at a Hilton in the first place.  Doesn’t the paving over of a patch of land to build a hotel represent a direct enough affront to plant life for this guy?  I would think that a youth hostel or a park bench would provide him with the self-satisfaction he seeks of personally changing the world, one restless night’s sleep at a time.  Of course, he would not be able to use a newspaper as a blanket while sleeping on that bench without contributing to deforestation, but I digress. 
While this nut case is making a mistake by pressing his baseless lawsuit, the real mistake belongs to Hilton.  No, not for allowing the plaintiff onto one of their properties in the first place.  Hilton’s mistake was not bundling the cost of the newspaper into the total hotel room pricing.  Had Hilton charged him $159 for the room, and provided a copy of USA for free, the gentleman would not have complained about his bill.  He might have complained about the bedbugs and the post-prom party taking place on the floor above him, but he would have paid for the newspaper without incident.

Not all goods and services need to be itemized for the consumer.  When you buy a box of cereal, there is one price.  That ‘bundled’ price includes the sugar cost, the shipping cost, the cardboard box cost, the advertising cost, and the royalty payments to Count Chocula for use of his image.  You can’t pick and choose which of those costs you would rather not pay.  If you believe that Count Chocula is overcompensated for his services as spokesperson, or that a drawing of the undead should not be permitted on the front of a child’s cereal box, fine.  Don’t buy it.  Just don’t sue General Mills for contributing to juvenile delinquency (teeth decay, maybe).  Just as you are paying for the entire breakfast cereal experience, so you are buying the entire Hilton experience once you rent a room for the night, and by the way, the entire Hilton experience includes a copy of the USA Today.

Providing transparency into the cost structure of a night’s stay was Hilton’s mistake, and it backfired.  This is why transparency sounds good, but often does nothing more than inspire the nut cases.  Then again, secrecy seems to inspire the nut cases, too. 
Maybe this former guest of the Hilton is just plain nuts, regardless of the circumstances.  Maybe he should have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Enter Sandman

During my thankfully short commute to work each morning, I listen to sports talk radio.  With the commercial interruptions, I can usually enjoy anywhere from 8-12 minutes of updates, interviews and competitive commentary.  It is mindless entertainment, and the fact that it is Mike and Mike on the dial makes it even more mind numbing.  Afternoon sports talk personality Steve Czaban calls the show “Same and Same” because of Mike and Mike’s annoying habit of agreeing with one another on the vast majority of their opinions, and that moniker is spot on.  I don’t enjoy the show much, but it is sports talk, and the commute is short.  Changing the station would be too onerous a task so early in the morning.  I need to focus on the road.

This particular morning, the news was that the great Yankee closer, Mariano Rivera, posted his 600th career save last night, placing him one behind the all-time MLB leader, Trevor Hoffman.  Congratulations to the last player in the history of the game who will ever wear the legendary #42.  Mike and Mike then had a cursory discussion about whether or not the face of Rivera would deserve to be carved into the imaginary New York Yankee Mount Rushmore of players. 
Now that debate interested me even though I was raised as a Hater.  My loathing of all things Yankee is well documented, although I have noticeably softened my anti-Yankee stance as age has softened my middle.  Today, I can not only tolerate the Yankees, but I can give them grudging respect.  That grudging respect started with the age of Willie Randolph, and has since grown thanks to guys like Jeter, Rivera, Posada and O’Neill.  I will continue to hate (yes, hate) Roger Clemens, again a well-documented stance of mine.  The Yankee arrogance lives on, but I don’t take it as personally as I once did. 
Back to Mount Rushmore…

Remember, Mount Rushmore can only accommodate 4 faces.  Conventional wisdom, and the wisdom with which I agree, states that Ruth, DiMaggio, Gehrig, and Mantle are immovable from the list.  Those 4 names are synonymous with the sport of baseball, and with America itself.  Babe Ruth’s last name has morphed into an adjective that describes greatness (“a Ruthian effort”).  DiMaggio was married to one of the most iconic starlets of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe, and Simon and Garfunkel immortalized the nation’s longing for his heroics in song.  Lou Gehrig had his own disease named after him.  Mickey Mantle?  Has there ever been a name better suited for baseball greatness than the name Mickey Mantle? 
So what does that mean for Rivera?  One can easily argue that the Atlanta Braves win 4 straight World titles if Rivera is their closer in the 1990s.  He was lights out (or “Enter Sandman”) for 18 years, causing opposing managers to play 8 inning game strategies.  He forced the other teams to play the Yankees differently because he was in the bullpen.  And he did it essentially with one pitch – a cut fastball.  No one sawed off more lumber from hitter’s hands than #42.  A broken bat should be called a “Rivera” from now on.  But does he stand alongside Joe DiMaggio?  That’s a tough one.

Today, I say no.  My reasoning has nothing to do with on field accomplishments, although it would be difficult to so honor a player who does not take the field every day, and even when he does, it is only for an inning or two at most.  I believe that Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and Mantle transcended the game in a way that Rivera has not achieved, and will probably never achieve.  Times have changed.  Those 4 ruled the world when baseball was America’s unchallenged national pastime.  Modern athletes in the 24/7 media environment are exposed as all too human, while the players from yesteryear could be larger than life superheroes without the constant glare of super slo-mo analysis of their every twitch.  To be perceived as truly iconic, you need to withhold something of yourself – there needs to be some mystery.  Those days are gone in a New York tweet.

The next argument, and the argument that I will be more sympathetic to, will involve Jeter.  Does Jeter end up on the imaginary New York Yankee Mount Rushmore?  There’s a guy with a shot to join DiMaggio.  All he needs to do is go on a 57 game hitting streak. 
In the immortal words of Chief Brody of the Amity police, “We need a bigger mountain.”

Editor's Note:  Yes, I know, all you Yankee fans, that the NY Mets Mount Rushmore has Tom Seaver all by himself, but hey, it's a young franchise.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Scary Stuff

Like all Americans, I have vivid memories of September 11, 2001.  I was at work that morning when a co-worker asked if I had heard that a plane flew into the World Trade Center.  This particular employee, whom I will not name, was quite the jokester, and his jokes were typically off-color, which is a polite way of saying racially charged.  His “Did you hear…” set up sounded to me like a joke was coming my way, and one that I did not want to hear.  I was prepared for Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Jesse Jackson and Al Gore to be on this imaginary plane.  He convinced me that he was serious, and I shrugged it off.  Accidents will happen, I thought.

Within 30 minutes of that news, however, everything had changed and it became clear that the United States was under attack.  The Pentagon was burning, and rumors abounded about hijacked planes headed towards Dulles Airport.  As the HR Director at my place of business, I called a minister to come and be on site for the day with us.  People were scared.  One of the office workers had a sister who worked on the 53rd floor of one of the Towers, and her fear and anxiety over the whereabouts of her sister spread to the rest of the office staff.

I called my family.  I reminded them that Manassas, VA, where I worked, had not been attacked since the 1860s, and that I felt safe.  Feeling “safe”, however, has become a relative term since that day.  There is no absolute safe anymore.  

I remember when Robert Kennedy was shot.  I remember when my roommate in college told me about the death of John Lennon.  I remember watching the Challenger disaster on TV.  This was different and hit much closer to home.  It wasn’t happening around me.  It was happening to me.

Since that day 10 years ago, simple things remain changed in my life.  Like many others, I have a heightened sensitivity to sudden loud noises.  I notice the deafening silence when no planes are in the air.   America the Beautiful and God Bless America hit me emotionally in ways that they did not before the songs became forever linked to 9-11.  I check the news site on the Internet about 10 times every day, just to make sure nothing cataclysmic has happened in the world that I should know about.  The habit started on that day, and it has survived ever since.

Like many others, I have had a morbid fascination with the news coverage of 9-11.  During that first week after the attacks, I watched the Towers falls hundreds of times on TV.  This week, I probably watched the same Towers fall dozens of times.  I watched over and over as the dust cloud overtook Lower Manhattan.  The naiveté of the newscasters who could not comprehend what was happening makes for great television.  I am fortunate that I lost no one close to me on September 11th.  Perhaps that is why I am still drawn to the events of that day.  It is uncomfortable, but not painful. 

Today, September 11, 2011, I went to the Party Factory Store with my daughter so she could buy birthday balloons for a friend.    She shopped for the perfect balloons while I wandered the aisles.  With only 7 weeks to go, the Halloween stuff was out in full force, and the Party Factory Store was at peak inventory levels.  On this day, on this 10th anniversary day, I noticed something, and it changed me.
Beyond the obligatory Justin Bieber masks, it was all gore.  There was a display for a Serial Killer costume.  The masks were primarily designed with missing eyeballs, spikes through the head, or chunks of brain tissue hemorrhaging down the side of the skull.  The heroes of Halloween are Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, and the soulless undead.  The checkout counter was prepared for any last minute impulse shopping by offering blood, real authentic fake blood, by the vial, quart, or gallon.  Yes, gallon jugs of blood were available for sale, right between the Snickers bars and the jack-o-lantern flashlights.  Happy Halloween.
I understand that a good fright gets the adrenaline going on Halloween.  I understand that Halloween is all about the candy and the fun (the tricks and the treats).  I understand that on some level all this embrace of skeletons and death might help us face and laugh at our fears, at least for a day every October.  On this day, I didn’t laugh and I didn’t want to face death and dying.  It was September 11th, and I did not want to spend the afternoon in a store that celebrated killing.

On 9-11-11, the whole industry of blood, death, dismemberment, and murder was too much for me.  I will be haunted for the rest of the week by my memory of 9-11-11.

This year, if I get my way, it’s Justin Bieber on October 31st for my kids.  That is scary enough.

God Bless the heroes of 9-11.  This from my friend, Billy, a first responder:
"The first body that Firefighters pulled out of the WTC rubble was Father Mychal Judge. I carry his prayer with me every day: "Lord take me where you want me to go, Let me meet who you want me to meet, Tell me what you want me to say and Keep me out of your way"."

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Police 5 to 1

In 1978, John Colucci, my personal godfather of punk and new wave musical taste, introduced me to the latest trio that was making noise in the UK, The Police.  I had reason to trust that Colucci was pointing me in the right direction.  After all, this was the guy who opened my mind to Talking Heads, Squeeze, Devo, and The Ramones back when these bands were playing clubs in NYC.   He talked me into buying Outlandos d’Amour on cassette, and the rest, as they say, is history. 
The Police, for all you loyal readers born after 1983, consisted of guitarist Andy Summers, drummer Stewart Copeland, and the spike-haired one-name bass player, Sting.  Maybe you’ve heard Sting when accidently pressing one of your parent’s easy listening station car radio presets.  Before he mellowed, he fronted one of the great bands of his generation. 
The band released 5 studio albums during their too short 5 year collaboration, and I have spent countless hours since their break up arguing about the relative merits of each Police album.  You know us middle age guys – we love rankings and lists.  I am finally tired of the partisan bickering and the narrow minded debating points.  The time has come to plant my flag right here in cyberspace for all to see and judge.  Time to make my case, subjective though it may be. 
For your reading pleasure, here are the 5 studio albums from The Police ranked from worst to first:

Synchronicity (1983) – Yes, this album featured the band’s biggest hit, Every Breath You Take, the only Police song to reach #1 on the U.S. charts.  It was also the first release without pictures of the 3 band members on the cover, so in retrospect, it was a subtle signal of their impending break up.  The tone of the album reflected Sting’s emotional devastation after his recent marital break-up.  Think King of Pain.  Think Wrapped Around Your Finger.  They’re great songs, but also kind of a bummer, don’t you think?  If you could get past the sadness of the record, with its imagery of dinosaurs hovering over a home of unsuspecting human appetizers, there’s 3 minutes and 5 seconds of real pain listening to Mother, quite possibly the worst song of all time (well, after The Streak by Ray Stevens).  Tea in the Sahara never did much for me, though I did bang the car dashboard drums whenever Synchronicity I would come on the radio.  Rank: 5 
Zenyatta Mondatta (1980) – The Police went global with this record, in sound and lyrics.  I love the reggae feel of the whole collection and its far left liberal messages appealed to me during my collegiate indoctrination.  From the politically aware, Driven to Tears and Bombs Away, to the “Ode to Globetrotting” ditty, Man in a Suitcase, these international sounding tracks were designed for pop music consumption.  What hurts this album in the rankings for me was De Do Do Do De Da Da Da.  I mean, what the hell was that all about?  Don’t Stand So Close to Me, the other big hit from this release was nothing but the story of a pedophilic pervert.  These two most played songs from the record happen to be my least favorite from the album, and that hurt the ranking.  Rank: 4

Regatta de Blanc (1979) – Literally translated to White Reggae, this album did not elevate The Police after their first release, nor did it hurt their commercial viability.  On this record, you heard the beginnings of the end of their punk phase.  While Message in a Bottle ultimately became what I consider to be their greatest song, the album itself offered a ton of beautiful songs with a more enhanced sound, more polish, and higher production values.  It still included that Sting sense of humor, first immortalized in Be My Girl – Sally, with the silly, On Any Other Day.   A more mature outlook on love was crystallized in the haunting The Bed’s Too Big Without You, a song in that stood in stark contrast to the young man killing himself over lost love in the Outlandos d’Amour hit, I Can’t Stand Losing You.  The band and its members were growing up.  Walking on the Moon received its fair share of FM airplay, but after the raw power of Outlandos d”Amour, this tune was a major disappointment.  Overall, Regatta de Blanc is an underrated undertaking, and I encourage each of you to spin it one more time, front to back.  It is simple, clean and fun.  There have been times when I would have ranked it first.  Rank: 3
Outlandos d’Amour (1978) – The one was very close to being my first choice on this list, since I have a known bias for debut albums.  I have an affinity for bands in their original state, before handlers and egotistical producers get a hold of them and water down the sound for commercial distribution.  This record grabbed you from Track 1, the hard driving, Next to You, complete with off-mic shouts of pure rock and roll emotion.  It delivered the raw sound of a 3 piece punk band, but with much better musician play.  Stewart Copeland on drums was a revelation.  The Police introduced themselves as a force, but you always sensed a tongue in cheek quality that reassured you that the group wasn’t taking themselves too seriously.  For me, Outlandos d’Amour perfectly captured the teenage angst so critical to all successful rock (So Lonely, Can’t Standing Losing You).  Rank: 2

Ghost in the Machine (1981) – I have some regrets in life, and one is most certainly skipping The Police/Go-Gos tourstop in Philly in the fall of 1981.  I would have seen The Police at their peak.  In my opinion, Ghost in the Machine was when the boys were hitting on all cylinders.  This was the album that made them great.  Every Little Thing She Does is Magic was a monster hit.  Invisible Sun, with its brooding and hopeful lyrics, and its slow pulsing beat, was hypnotic.  Hungry for You had one riff that repeated over and over, and yet it worked.  The theme of the record fit the times, the dawn of the 1980s and the rise of technology.  Remember signing up for time at the computer lab in the early 80s?  Demolition Man was a song that spawned a movie (albeit a bad movie).   One World (Not Three), Rehumanize Yourself, Spirits in the Material World – all great.  Rolling Stone magazine agreed with me, and ranked it the highest of any Police album on their all-time list (#322).  Cover artwork of their faces in LED display is an album art classic, and proudly hangs framed on my wall to this day.  Rank: 1

Thanks, John Colucci, for getting me on board with The Police so early.  Too bad you were wrong about the King Bees.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

 Come visit me at my new home, 

At the beginning of each school year, it is an American tradition for our little children to write the obligatory “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay for their new teachers.  The exercise provides the new teacher a glimpse into what makes that new student tick, and helps the teacher to get to know the student beyond the standardized test scores and their plagiarized science fair presentations.  For the most part, the scribbled paragraphs describe harmless fun.  Once these personal essays are written, handed in, and read aloud in class, they usually disappear into a box of memorabilia in the attic or worse, become the raw material for spitballs.

Not every essay gets transformed into gobs of schoolhouse ammunition, however.

Through the Freedom of Information Act, MSRP was able to access a particular essay once thought lost forever.  It was only a matter of time before a document such as this surfaced, and became grist for political operatives during a competitive election cycle.  Pundits no doubt will twist the words of this childhood essay, arguing that it provides the reader with insight into the psyche of a future President during his formative years.  I disagree, but you can be the judge.  I think it describes an innocent boy that loves playing in caves.  What little boy doesn’t? 

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Barry O’Bama
Grade 5 (recently downgraded from Grade 6)

Summer is my favorite time of year.  I love vacations because it helps me forget all my troubles for a few months.  This summer, I found that I have a passion for something that I had never experienced before.  I was warned that this activity could be addictive, and that it could become dangerous if not done right.  I looked at all my fun summer options, and decided this was the best activity for me.  I discovered the joy of caving, and I think I love it!

The kids in my neighborhood that live down the street on the far right encouraged me to try caving.  I was skeptical.  My friends that live in the blue houses on my left were not too fond of my idea for a new hobby.  They told me that caving was dangerous, and that the kids from the far right down the street were lying to me.   All the kids from the left side of the street told me that once I caved at their suggestion, the kids from the right wouldn’t come along.  They said I would be abandoned in a dark place all by myself where no one could hear me.

I caved anyway.  I thought that caving would make me popular, and make me look mature and grown up.  It hasn’t worked so far.  Everybody says my new hobby makes me look weak.    The other kids stayed home and talked about me behind my back.  The kids from the right side of the street passed notes in class that said I was stupid for caving, when it was their idea in the first place!  I guess I shouldn’t have trusted them.

I was mad, but I stayed cool and aloof.  That will show those guys, I thought.

After my first successful caving, I wanted to do it all the time, even though the kids in the neighborhood fought about it.  My friends on the right told me that my friends from the left were only nice to me because they wanted to control me and stop me from caving all the time.  My friends on the left told me that the friends from the right were only nice to me so they could manipulate me.  I don’t know who is right, but one thing is for sure – caving is easy!

You have to be careful when you cave a lot.  There is always the risk that you’ll get trapped.  It is a good idea when caving to bring along a friend, but no one has wanted to follow me yet.  The last time I went caving this summer, I forget to tell anyone at home where I was going.  That was a mistake.  My entitlement allowance got cut by 20%!!!  I wish I had known that before I decided to cave. 

I’ve found that regular caving seems to fit my personality.  Like me, caving is cool and detached from light of day.  I might try sky diving next year so my summer has more of a balanced approach.  I think I’d like that.  I’ll see what everyone else in the neighborhood thinks first, though.  I still want a chance at Student Council next year.

I learned that caving takes you to dark and lonely places.  I shouldn’t like it as much as I do, but I am not afraid.  Next summer, I think I’ll continue to cave.  This time, however, I will bring all my friends from the left side of the street along.  The trick will be convincing them that caving was their idea all along.  It will be tough, but I can pull it off.  I am a very good talker.

I didn’t make many friends through caving this summer.  My new found love of caving has impacted my popularity around town, and not in a good way.  I guess I am not surprised.  After a summer of caving, you could back a little dirty, a little smelly, and a little tired.  It is not the most glamorous approach to summer vacation.  I had fun so I think I did the right thing.  I hope everyone comes to realize that caving isn’t so bad, and in fact, if you cave often enough, you might find that it gets you somewhere.

I hope that change of attitude happens in my neighborhood before next summer.    

Teacher’s handwritten comment:  "Barry – Well written, but please be careful when deciding to cave in the future.  We don’t want you to disappear someday."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Class Clashes

When the nights get longer and the evenings cooler, we know that fall is near.  And every year at this time like clockwork the rhetoric heats up on everyone’s most dreaded topic at the dinner table, class warfare.  It is the hot discussion on all of the cable channels and the blog sites.  The arguments change slightly each year as the alleged ‘victims’ become more sophisticated with their talking points, but the core of the debate never changes.  The “Us Against Them” battle lines are drawn.

I am sympathetic to the victims of class.  Life is inherently unfair, and that is a hard lesson for most of us.  The benefits of the good life sometimes accrue to those not worthy or deserving, either because of genetics, geography, or pure luck.  Here is the harsh reality, kids – you will always live in a world with classes, and don’t expect that to ever change.  At least until you turn 18.
The kids don’t want to go back to class this week, and we parents know that it will be war.

It wasn’t always this way.  There was a time in the not so distant past when the beginning of a new school year was highly anticipated by our kids.  They missed their friends.  They missed the structure.  They missed their teachers.  While they could not verbalize it, I think they missed the joy of learning in general.  At some point around the 3rd or 4th grade, this naïve optimism takes a distinctly downward trend and their attitudes harden against the rigors of structured education.

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teacher, leave them kids alone

The transition from school lovers to school haters can be explained in a number of ways.  It could be peer pressure.  It’s cool to rebel.  It could be that today’s strict curriculum standards leave little time to think and reason as you prepare for SOL exams.  It could be that schools were designed in the 1950s to develop a blue collar working class population that we as a nation no longer need.  It could be that teachers are so overpaid and protected by their unions that they have no incentive to educate our little kids (THAT is sarcasm, people).  It could be that school is competing with playing outside, Facebooking, or watching TV.  I think it’s the latter.

Regardless of the reason kids complain about school, their education is important, and we parents need to be prepared to win this annual class warfare battle.  Hunker down, moms and dads.  A storm’s a comin’, and it promises to be long and loud.  Batten down the hatches.  Steel your spine.  Play to win the battles so you can win the war. 
I have a message for all those class warfare warriors out there under the age of 18:  Life is unfair.  Get over it and do your homework. 
Now, where did I put the remote?     

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cost Benefit Analysis

President Obama caved this week and announced that he would tell the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to withdraw its proposed regulatory rules to tighten smog standards.  The rules have been reported to have carried a potential cost to businesses and state/city governments of anywhere from $19 billion to $90 billion (depending on the strictness of subsequent enforcement).  In such a challenging economic environment, Obama explained, these rules would place an undue burden on job creation, a critical imperative during an election cycle.  As consumers become sicker from lung-related illnesses and die, however, this has the potential to impact demand for goods and services in the future, another drag on growth.  We know that “Dead men tell no tales”, but it is also true that “Dead men don’t consume goods and services”, either.  May I suggest that loss of life has a cost to business, too?

This most recent executive branch spelunking represents a clear example of shortsightedness on the part of the President and the GOP minority that acts as his puppet master.  The proposed regulatory rules could save the equivalent money or more in reduced health care expenses nationally, but that is not part of the public debate.  Saddling future generations with debt is immoral.  Saddling them with chronic lung disease however, well that’s a cost of doing business.  That choking feeling around your throat is just the invisible hand of capitalism.  Pay no attention.  When the demand for breathable air reaches critical mass, someone will sell it to us at an affordable, market-driven rate, and the stockholders will be the winners.      

The Republicans (surprisingly) agreed that Obama did the right thing by postponing the rules, while adding that his decision was made too late and he hasn’t gone far enough in rescinding regulations (not surprisingly).  According to the conservative philosophy, it would seem that regulations of any kind are a burden on business, a tax on consumers, and a drag on innovation.  This isn’t a new claim, and the history books (especially those in Texas) are filled with examples of conservatives railing against any and all restrictions on free and unfettered capitalism.  A quick review of the MSRP email archives from the past century bears this out:

February 2, 1906

Dear MSRP,

I write today to oppose the so-called “Meat Protection Act of 1906”.  Liberal author Upton Sinclair writes a poorly footnoted novel about alleged unsanitary practices in a few meat packing plants, and suddenly we need another regulatory agency!  Implementation of the new meat inspection rules will lead to another bloated bureaucracy and serve as a hidden tax on consumers.  Who will pay the cost of this new law?  The poor, working class carnivores like you and me, that’s who.  Liberal compassion about “safety” is phony.  They don’t care about sanitary food.  They care about creating lifelong government jobs in the newly created Agency of Meat.

Meat is dying in this country, and only you can save it from the digestive tract of history.  If this law passes, by 1956, we will be a nation of vegetarians.  I guarantee it.  Please stop the madness.

Marvin Disgruntled
President, Al’s Poultry and Plumbing
Try our sausages!

May 15, 1938

Dear MSRP,

The federal government has once again wrongly asserted itself with its proposed child labor law, hidden inside the massive Fair Labor Standards Act.  This legislative behemoth takes federal overreach to new levels.  The business community built this great nation on the backs of affordable child labor, and American business cannot withstand another assault on its Constitutional right to negotiate for the best prices in goods or the best conditions for human services.  Child labor regulations will harm job creation at a time when our depressed economy needs all the help it can get.

Not only are the proposed rules setting the minimum age for hazardous work and work during “school days” a tax on business owners, they would unduly limit the rights of children to earn a living.  The Constitution starts with “We the People”, not “We the Adults”.

We owe the next generation of Americans the opportunity to learn how to work.  It is good for their self-esteem.  Please do not give in to attempts to smear the good name of indentured servitude in the name of misguided liberal compassion.

Marvin Disgruntled
CEO, Gepetto’s Pleasure Island Playland
Now open weekends!    

September 14, 1967

Dear MSRP,

If Congress passes the proposed law to require seat belts in all newly manufactured automobiles, you can start etching the gravestone of the auto industry.  “Here lies American Progress.  Born 1776.  Died by seat belt strangulation 1968.  RIP.”  Detroit will never survive such an unconstitutional intrusion on its right to built and sell any car that Americans will buy.

The installation of mandatory seat belts will serve as a tax on consumers, and soon price American cars out of the global marketplace.  Who will pay the increased cost?  You guessed it.  Mr. and Mrs. American Consumer, that’s who.  The legislation pretends to protect drivers.  Instead, it will limit driving and car ownership to the uber-rich.  This is the real liberal agenda, comrades.  First, they’ll want your guns.  Then they’ll take your cars. 

More jobs will be lost than lives will be saved, regardless of the fancy “statistics” about the success of the seat belt in protecting the innocent in crashes.  All the talk about a future savings from reduced national health care expenses is just a diversion from the real issue: cars will cost more now.  That fact is undeniable, unacceptable, and un-American.

No one is truly free when belted into a seat.


Marvin Disgruntled
Chairman, Automakers Alliance for Affordable Autos (AAAA)
Exceptional Cars for Exceptional Americans

If my cynicism could create jobs, we’d be at full employment.

Maybe someone will write a full-throated editorial arguing for the repeal of all immigration enforcement as a burden on business, a hidden tax on consumers, and an affront to the philosophy of paying the least for the most.  After all, aren’t immigration restrictions an undue burden on businesses in this country by restricting the labor pool?  Don’t all these immigration restrictions represent a hidden tax on consumers by forcing businesses to pay higher wages to legal residents?  Wake up, America!  Immigration enforcement is anti-business! 

Knee jerk opposition to any and all business regulations by state or federal government entities as a drag on our economy is shortsighted at best, ignorant at worst.  If a new regulation costs businesses $100 million over 10 years to implement yet generates $200 million in savings (for the country or the industry), that math should be part of the debate.  I am certain that the financial services industry would have fought new regulations in 2007 tooth and nail, quoting the exorbitant costs that would be passed on to consumers.  Show of hands - who would trade $100 million in new regulatory burdens for the trillions in lost wealth after the 2008 collapse?  That shold be easy math.

Until we can weigh the costs and benefits of a proposed rule rationally, none of us will breathe easy.  We’ve seen to that.