On the Passing of Vin Scully

As all who care are aware, Vin Scully, who was the voice of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers for over 60 years, passed away yesterday at age 94.  Since Mr. Scully also broadcast nationally for many years, he was well-known by sports fans nationwide.  He had the classiest, smoothest delivery of any sports announcer I have ever heard.  The most dramatic baseball moment I have ever witnessed as it happened was the gimpy Kirk Gibson’s 9th inning homerun off Hall of Fame Closer Dennis Eckersley in Game One of the 1988 World Series (it was Mr. Gibson’s only at bat in a series ultimately won by the underdog Dodgers over the Oakland A’s), and Mr. Scully’s call of the moment – in which he said little, and then let the crowd tell the story – by itself ranks as a classic in sports broadcasting.

My mother was from Brooklyn, raised five blocks from Ebbets Field, and could recall Mr. Scully’s start as second chair to Red Barber (a legend in his own right in Brooklyn).  Both of my parents were big baseball fans (my father was as rabid a Yankee fan as my mother was an avid Dodger backer, which both later agreed made for interesting Octobers in the late ‘40’s through the mid-‘50’s).  Throughout Mr. Scully’s career, he maintained the even-handed style of baseball announcing in which he was trained in New York (and upon which my parents grew up).  When we moved to the Midwest in 1959, both of my parents were appalled by the Chicago broadcasters’ “root, root, root for the home team” announcing style.  To their mind, Mr. Scully’s delivery was the way it should be done.  I came to share their view.

Hear in your head one more time that rich voice, as you would if he were discussing another: 

“His reporting brought respite from daily cares to millions of Americans over scores of years.  May he rest in peace.”

On Fertilizing and Mowing

Every Middle America neighborhood has one retired old coot who seems to have nothing better to do but cut his lawn every other day.  I realized the other day:  I’ve become that guy.

For over 40 years, the debate has continued between TLOML and me:  How frequently should we fertilize our lawn — if at all?

One school of thought on this hotly-discussed subject holds that in order to have a suitable – indeed, a lush, vibrant – lawn, one should fertilize four times a year, at the spring and summer Holidays:  Easter, Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day.  (We’ll ignore those fanatics who hold that another fertilization in late autumn is just what the little blades need to flourish.)  The other school of thought — while conceding that one does not want one’s lawn to be an embarrassment; one does not want the neighbors muttering that you’re endangering their property values — holds that except in rare instances, fertilization is The Devil; that all that happens when one fertilizes is that the grass will grow, simply increasing the number of times that one must mow.  This approach posits that relatively fewer summer fertilizations, while perhaps not yielding the lushest green carpet, will nonetheless be sufficient to avoid embarrassment.

Yet another debate:  Is it safe to mow when if it’s too hot?  This is not an expression of concern for the safety of the mower, but rather:  Won’t mowing when it’s too hot shock the grass?  There is, of course, the contrary philosophy:  This is mowing day.  Grass has survived for millennia.  It’ll survive mowing by a septuagenarian wielding a lawnmower that is, in dog years, even older than he is.

I have felt for decades that if I could spray paint our entire lot with a long-lasting grass-green paint (with pebbles, of course, for texture), such would be mighty tempting.  Given the little likelihood that I will be able to implement such a strategy, and since I’ve largely lost the fertilization debate, I am holding out for new scientific pronouncements.  In light of the way that many in our area embraced No Mow May, I am now hoping that some melittologist will declare that mature weeds, like long grass, fosters bee survival.  Perhaps then TLOML will embrace a new, “Leave the Weeds to the Bees” movement 😉 .

Have a great weekend.  Given the challenges we face domestically and internationally, there is no better time to celebrate and cherish our Independence Day.

On Roe’s Reversal

I predicted in January in these pages that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, and that if such a decision was handed down, within sixty days thereafter most or all states under Republican control would outlaw abortion within their jurisdictions.  I ventured that on a purely political handicapping basis, if such occurred, it would provoke such outrage among liberals and conservatives and sufficient unease among Independents and Republican moderates that Democrats would retain their majorities in Congress.

While the outrage and unease I predicted in January is certainly occurring, at this point I sadly have little hope — but would love to be proven wrong — that such will be sufficient to enable Democrats to overcome gerrymandered Republican Congressional districts across the country and maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.  That said, I remain optimistic that the strong negative reaction to the Roe reversal among progressives, liberals, and moderates will provide Democrats an excellent opportunity, if handled adroitly and if elections are administered fairly, to maintain control of the U.S. Senate and to prevail in close swing state races such as the Wisconsin Gubernatorial race.

Impressions of larger import than the political ramifications attending the Roe reversal also linger.

The first – the sense of diminishment that I have heard several women express at the decision — is not for me to address.

The second I consider less important than the last, despite its almost incalculable effect on our Constitutional system: the Supreme Court’s legitimacy and credibility is shredded in the public mind on issues of culture (which is all the public cares about).  Speaking as a septuagenarian, I don’t think that the Court will shed the stigma of partisanship it now carries during my lifetime – a particularly sad realization for someone who spent his career in the law.  The Republicans too blatantly made it their primary goal over the last decades to put pro-life Justices on the Supreme Court, despite public opinion polls’ consistent indication that the majority of Americans favor some level of abortion rights for women.  The conservative Justices have now fulfilled the task that they had in effect been assigned – another step in what has become a quest to establish an American Apartheid.  I find it difficult to believe that Roe would have been overturned but for both then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to conduct hearings on then-President Barack Obama’s 2016 nomination of then-U.S. Appellate Court Judge Merrick Garland and U.S. Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s truly untimely death four months before the end of President Donald Trump’s term.  [Protestations by U.S. Senators such as Susan Collins (ME) and Joe Manchin (WV) since the Roe reversal that they trusted the recent conservative appointees’ representations during their respective confirmation processes that they would honor the Roe precedent simply demonstrates that either these Senators are fools, or think you are.]  Hypothetically say that Democrats successfully either add additional Supreme Court seats and pack them, or impeach the current conservative Justices and replace them; the reformed Court’s ensuing progressive-friendly decisions wouldn’t expunge its stain of partisanship, but rather reinforce it. 

As significant as the degradation of the Supreme Court’s standing in the public mind is for our Constitutional system, I consider this last impression, which has dogged me since I heard of the Roe reversal, to be of even greater, perhaps existential, import.  I hope that it is wildly off the mark, and you may well reject it.  It is based on this premise:  that the right to abortion – as compared to immigration, crime, climate, taxation, even gun rights; you name it – is the most enduring and emotionally divisive issue of our time, and as such, will always incite the same inestimable level of ardor and righteousness on both sides of the issue.  There is no way to reconcile the adversaries’ differences.  Neither side will ever back down.  I would submit that the fervor it generates is of a kind and akin to the abolitionist/slavery debate over 150 years ago.  When one adds the coming convulsion attending the Roe reversal to the many other issues in which our polarized citizens are unable to agree upon the same truth and seem unwilling to seek or accept good faith compromise, we may have entered a period of prologue not unlike the 1850s.

The Passing of Mark Shields

A sad moment in our household:  the passing of Political Commentator and longtime PBS NewsHour Contributor Mark Shields, at age 85.  Between 2001, when New York Times Columnist David Brooks joined the NewsHour, and 2020, when Mr. Shields left the NewsHour due to failing health, we never failed to see their Friday night exchanges, being sure to record them when we couldn’t watch live.  Although my substantive sentiments were frequently closer to the more-conservative Mr. Brooks’ than to those of the more-liberal Mr. Shields, one could not help but be enchanted by Mr. Shields’ warm and open personality.  While Mr. Shields’ natural passing is without the anguish, outrage, and terror that have accompanied other incidents recently addressed in these pages, may he rest in peace following a life of contribution and good fellowship.  Although TLOML and I obviously never knew him personally, we nonetheless somehow feel that we’ve lost a wise and beloved friend. 

A link to an Associated Press piece on Mr. Shields’ passing is set forth below; I expect that it is more readily accessible to all that follow these pages than similar tributes by the Washington Post and the New York Times.      

https://apnews.com/article/david-gergen-brooks-mark-shields-maryland-elections-8ab1a49920e7f935c276f5fb1a505125

Man confesses to killing missing journalist and colleague, police say

Attached is a link to a Washington Post article reporting that Brazilian authorities have announced that a fisherman has confessed to ambushing and killing British journalist Dom Phillips and his colleague, Indigenous Expert Bruno Pereira, in a remote region of the Amazon.

Given the many days that passed following the disappearance of Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pereira, the outcome of the authorities’ search and investigation was not unexpected … but is nonetheless gut-wrenching.

The report indicates that Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pereira were armed when they began their trip.  Their weapons were insufficient protection against an ambush.

The report further indicates:

“President Jair Bolsonaro, a vocal advocate for development who has defended illegal miners and deforesters, has cast blame on Phillips for his disappearance. In a statement Wednesday, he said the journalist was ‘disliked in the region.’

‘He did a lot of stories against gold mining and on environmental issues,’ Bolsonaro said. ‘In that region, a region extremely isolated, not a lot of people liked him. He should have redoubled his focus on taking care of himself. But he decided to make this excursion.’” [Emphasis Added].

One can only infer from Mr. Bolsonaro’s dismissive attitude that he and the elements of Brazilian government he controls intend to do little to protect the Amazon environment, the indigenous people who live there, or those that report upon the activities of those ravaging it.   

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/15/brazil-dom-phillips-bruno-pereira-remains/

Bodies found tied to tree in search for journalist, colleague: Family

For those able to access it, there is a link below to a Washington Post article indicating that authorities searching for British Journalist Dom Phillips and his associate, Bruno Pereira, have found two bodies tied to a tree in the Amazon rainforest.  The report indicates that a Brazilian diplomat in London has informed a member of Mr. Phillips’ family that it is likely that the discovered remains are those of Mr. Phillips and Mr. Pereira, although such as not yet been confirmed.  Effects belonging to the two men have been recovered.  Our prayers go out for these two brave men who believed in protecting the Amazon and the uncontacted indigenous peoples who inhabit this extremely remote region.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/06/13/dom-phillips-bruno-pereira-bodies-found/

British Journalist Missing in the Brazilian Amazon

Below you will find a link to an article in The Guardian describing the recent disappearance of Guardian Contributor Dom Phillips.  Mr. Phillips has spent over a decade reporting upon the indigenous tribes and environmental issues of the Amazon.  This report has particular significance for us.

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/jun/06/dom-phillips-british-journalist-missing-brazil-amazon

There is No “Why”: a Postscript

I’ve gotten a number of thoughtful comments on yesterday’s post which warrant a postscript.  Even so, the video linked below was called to my attention, and demands to stand by itself.  While perhaps lacking the eloquence of Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill, and despite the fact that this gentleman is patently hawking his wares, I would submit that the vehemence he exhibits is a fair reflection of my feelings.

MeidasTouch.com on Twitter: “Wow. Texas Paul just said what needed to be said. (warning: language) https://t.co/axmkiY2ylK” / Twitter

Ten Years of “Unique” Stupidity in American Life

I continue [not surprisingly 😉 ] to have plenty of notions about the Ukrainian conflict and various domestic issues we face, and hope to return to publishing fairly regularly in the not-too-distant future.  That said, MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning included an interview of Dr. Jonathan Haidt (pronounced, “Height”), author of The Righteous Mind, the book that I suspect that I have cited in these pages more than any other.  Dr. Haidt discussed his recent article in The Atlantic, “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid,” an essay describing how social media has affected our polity and our children and how it has been exploited (on the edges of both sides of the political spectrum).  Apparently, Billionaire Jeff Bezos tweeted recently that he considered the essay well worth reading, albeit long.  I wholeheartedly agree (on both counts; although as all are well aware, I’m in no position to criticize lengthy pieces  🙂 ]. 

A link to Dr. Haidt’s article is below.

Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid – The Atlantic

On BR-319

While the international community’s attention is properly riveted on the atrocities being wreaked upon the people of Ukraine, other challenges and dangers across the globe continue unabated.  For those able to access the Washington Post, a piece just published by our favorite journalist.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2022/brazil-amazon-deforestation-highway-br-319/?itid=hp-top-table-main