Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reflections on a Momentous Week

If you’re a blogger who works for the Department of Justice, unless your name is Snowden, this is the hardest weekend of the year to blog.  Clearly, the best topics to talk about this weekend are the recent Supreme Court decisions.  But that is precisely what I won’t blog about – not this weekend, not any weekend.  This is a law-free zone.

So, you might ask, outside of the law, what else is going on?  

First, did you note that the temperature in Death Valley is hitting 128 degrees this weekend?   It’s another grim reminder that the President’s climate change initiative is commencing none too soon.  His failure to do much on the issue until now has been one of the biggest disappointments of his Presidency, and it reached its crescendo during the 2012 campaign, when the only person who spoke about climate change was Romney – and he was shamelessly mocking the President for caring about it.  Well, it now looks like President Obama might actually be moving away from mere talk and into action. For the sake of this planet, he had better follow through.

One of the many reasons I’d like to live a long, long life, is because I want to be around in the middle of this century and see just what the climate situation is like.  Call it pure curiosity.   I’m not a scientist, so I’ve had to take on faith that the vast majority of scientists are correct that climate change will wreak increasing amounts of havoc as we get deeper into the century.  Obviously, I hope I am wrong for believing what these scientists are saying, but assuming they know their field, the industrialists and politicians responsible for ignoring the warnings will truly have blood on their hands.  

The major blood-letting is likely to begin in places like central Africa, but eventually, it could extend to these shores as well.   The sickest part of this equation is that the perpetrators of this climate-change mess are not going to be the same people as the victims.  For one thing, there’s a generational difference.   My generation, the one that is largely causing and exacerbating the problem will be dead and buried before we see the biggest impact from this nightmare.  What’s more, the people from some of the least industrialized countries will disproportionately be the victims, whereas the people from the most industrialized countries will disproportionately be the perpetrators.  The whole situation is as unjust as it is tragic.

Anyway, that all assumes that the scientific community is right.  Maybe, they’re not.  Maybe the Messiah will come and we’ll all be saved.  But personally, I’d rather listen to the scientists.   And President Obama, you need to listen to me.  Don’t you stray from the course – make this one of the major initiatives of your second term.   And in doing so, always remember the immortal words of the great Steve Martin who, in addressing the women of the world, said:   “I don’t need you.  I can do this act alone.  I often do.”  You have to make the same statement, Mr. Obama, only in your case, get your mind out of the gutter, think about climate change, and address those words to Congress.  You don’t need them on this issue.  You’ve got your own executive powers.  Use those powers in a big way to confront this scourge before further damage is done.   Please.

Second, have you noticed that there is a professional golf tournament going on in my home town of Bethesda, Maryland and nobody showed up?  This is supposed to be Tiger Woods’ golf tournament, and all the greatest players in the world were invited.  But if you look at the leader board and notice all the no-names at the top, you’d swear this tournament was being played in Nome, Alaska.  What’s going on?  You’d never see this lousy a field in Arnold Palmer’s tournament, or Jack Nicklaus’ tournament.  So why are all the pros blowing off Tiger’s?

I remain a loyal fan of the guy.  But I get the distinct impression that he doesn’t have many friends on tour.  What’s more, even though he was solely responsible for the resurgence in the sport 15 years ago that sent purses through the roof, all the beneficiaries (the players) no longer feel any need to express gratitude to the source of their huge paychecks.  Technically, he remains the number one golfer in the world – he’s far and away won more PGA events than anyone else this year.  But even though Tiger may be Mr. Golf, it’s pretty clear that he’s not Mr. Congeniality, and finally, golfers are beginning to go public to explain just how chilly it is to play on the tour with him.   

As for my attitude, I don’t really care if he’s chummy with his mates on tour.  I just want him to win Majors. But if he keeps blowing them – and he hasn’t won one in five years – than yes, I’d like to see a mellower Tiger.   His “machine” act only works when he performs as well as a machine.  Or, in other words, it’s one thing to say that Tiger shouldn’t become as affable as Phil Mickelson, but the sad truth is, he’s beginning to remind me of Vijay Singh – no less ornery and, at least at the big tournaments, no more effective.

Last but not least, while I won’t comment about the court’s reasoning in its gay marriage decisions, can I just say how overjoyed I am for my gay friends about the new opportunity in their life?  It sickens me to think that I would have had tax benefits that they couldn’t have just because of their sexual preference. 
My guess is that in 100 years, only religious fundamentalists will deny gay people the right to marry.  And I hope by then that even the fundamentalists will have stopped making the argument that “Once you let gay people get married, where is this going to stop, bestiality?”  I don’t have words for how offensive that argument is.  And it only makes me wonder what kind of arguments were made 100 years ago about why black people and white people shouldn’t be allowed to get married.  

When it comes to civil rights, I can take pleasure in the fact that our species does tend to progress over time.  We still see examples of primitive thinking everywhere, and some entire societies remain primitive, but the overall trend is inexorably positive.  In fact, when I think about civil rights, it’s enough to make me think that evolution won’t stop with the apes.   

And then I look at our dysfunctional Congress.  And all the wars in the Middle East.   And all the crap that spews out of Hollywood.  And the loopy NRA.  And I realize that just because we’re progressing in one domain, doesn’t mean we’ve moved much beyond what the apes handed to us.  Actually, I suspect if one of those ancient ape-men could speak English and dress well, he’d fit in just fine.

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