I see where Kentucky-born movie star Ashley Judd continues to talk about running for the U.S. Senate against Mitch McConnell. McConnell may be in a bit of political trouble, and as Al Franken has demonstrated, it is quite possible for a Hollywood celebrity to perform credibly in the Senate. But Minnesota ain’t Kentucky, and in this case, Judd has as much chance of becoming a U.S. senator as McConnell has of being a Hollywood leading man.
Cyclist Lance Armstrong is scheduled to appear next week on Oprah, where he may finally, publicly confess to years of performance-enhancing drug use on the way to seven Tour de France titles, all of which have been stripped from him.
The American people will supposedly forgive almost anything after a public confession, and Oprah has become our culture’s official Mother Confessor. But all the tears from all the crocodiles on the planet won’t wash away the stain on Armstrong’s reputation.
Set aside, for the moment, his use of performance-enhancing drugs and his supposedly heart-felt, offended claims of innocence. By multiple, multiple accounts, Armstrong conducted himself like a first-class, egotistical jerk throughout this entire scandal. He fooled the naive and gullible into vouching for his honesty, he strong-armed teammates into joining him in drug use, he intimidated others into silence and he conducted a decade-long campaign to ruin anybody who threatened to reveal him as he truly is, which is a self-centered, arrogant bully.
So please, Lance, spare us the dramatics and groveling. Live strong, dude.
Speaking of cheating, arrogant, self-centered bullies, neither Barry Bonds nor Roger Clemens got enough votes this week to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. I don’t have much sympathy for those guys, and if they never get in the hall, that would be fine with me.
But let’s at least be honest with ourselves. Everybody in baseball — casual fans, baseball writers, managers, agents, the players’ union, broadcasters, team owners and MLB executives such as Bud Selig included — all knew what was going on in the steroid era, and we pretended otherwise. When punch-and-judy second basemen suddenly turn into 50-homer sluggers, and when baseball records that have lasted for decades get obliterated by multiple players, it ain’t natural and we all knew it at the time. But it was selling tickets and raising TV ratings and it was FUN! Even chicks dig the long ball, right?
The baseball establishment now seems to believe that by casting all the blame on prominent scapegoats such as Clemens and Bonds, it can expunge itself of its own guilt for that era, and it cannot and should not.
I think Bud Selig should schedule a session with Oprah.
Finally, in the stupid-government-tricks department, there’s the $1 trillion platinum coin. According to proponents of the idea, some of them pretty prominent (see here and here and here, among others), an odd provision in federal law would allow the U.S. Treasury Department to create a coin, made out of platinum, in a $1 trillion denomination. Federal assets would suddenly increase by $1 trillion, meaning the U.S. government would no longer be running up against its congressionally imposed debt ceiling.
Voila! Problem solved!
Look, the entire debt-ceiling debate is inherently silly. I get that. Congress has voted to spend trillions and borrow trillions, and it’s totally ridiculous to pretend that it can now refuse to pay that money back, which is what it would do by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. Given all that, solving a silly, make-believe problem with a silly, make-believe coin apparently has some appeal to otherwise serious people.
But this is clown-car politics beneath the dignity of the United States of America. It also would dynamite what little credibility the governing process in this country might still retain, and it’s a mark of our decline that such a concept would even be broached.
– Jay Bookman