Hammerin’ Hank

In 2003 ESPN staged “Pete Rose: On Trial”, a mock court to decide if baseball’s all-time hits leader, banned for life for allegedly betting on games he managed, should be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  JOHNIE COCHRAN, lead counsel for Rose, lead off with three credible, albeit uninspiring, character witnesses before unveiling his cleanup hitter.

Cochran: The defense calls Hank Aaron.

Henry Aaron made his way to the stand as did, in honor, the entire gallery.  No more dignified figure in sports, he began his testimony recalling a more surprising ovation.

Aaron: 1999, All-Century Team, ‘lanta, Jawja.  All the greats are bein’ introduced, but most folks ‘spected me to get the biggest cheers ‘cuz I played so many years there.   And they treated me great, don’t get me wrong.  But Pete Rose got the best cheers that night.  Pete never played in Atlanta!

Cochran:  What do you think the people were saying?

Aaron:  ‘Put Pete in the Hall.’  And that’s why I come here today.  So I could say put Pete in the Hall.

Cochran holds up his hand, muffling the incipient applause from the pro Pete gallery.

Cochran:  Was Pete Rose a gambler?

Aaron:   Oh sure, lotta guys were back then.  Horses, cards – wadn’t my flavor, ya understand,  but I was around ’em, I saw it.   

Cochran:   Did you ever witness Pete Rose bet on baseball?

Aaron:   No sir, never. 

Cochran:  Not one time?

Aaron:  Not one time.  And we was together ‘fore most games.

Cochran:  Thank you very kindly, Mr. Aaron, no further questions. 

ALAN DERSHOWITZ rises for the cross.  After rhetorically knocking out the previous character witnesses, he wisely approached the distinguished slugger with kid gloves.

Dershowitz: Henry Aaron.  “Hammerin’ Hank.”  One of the great nicknames in the history of sports.

He turns to the jury.

Not only does it befit the all-time home run king, it also describes the way he swung the bat – downward, like a hammer. 

Fist over fist, Dershowitz mimes a short, downward swing as Henry frowns, impressed.

Dershowitz:  No one questions your loyalty to a friend and former teammate.  <genial>  But surely Mr. Aaron you would agree, if you saw betting slips with Pete Rose’s fingerprints, might you change your opinion?

Henry scowls, giving it careful consideration.

Aaron:   I suppose it would.

Dershowitz:  And surely Mr. Aaron you would agree…(talking over the LAUGHTER in the courtroom)…if you overheard phone conversations of Pete Rose placing bets on baseball games, might you have to reconsider your position? 

Henry is now deeply troubled.

Aaron:  Oh I might have to think that some,  yessir.   

Dershowitz:  Thank you Mr. Aaron, no further questions. 

Mercifully, Dershowitz hammered Hank with two swift, clean blows and that was it.  But the damage had been done Henry was made to look the fool, naïve enough to listen to the question…think about it…and give an honest answer.  It is impossible to quantify how much our discourse would benefit if more of us were like Mr. Aaron…surely you would agree.

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‘This cheesecake is heavenly AND it reduces your Cholesterol!

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Third Law of Motion  ruthlessly maintains balance through cause and effect.  This most fundamental principle in physics also applies to economics.  For every benefit there is a cost.

Dick Cheney once famously quipped, ‘Deficits don’t matter.’ And up until a couple of years ago, he was right, they didn’t, at least not politically. Then in 2009, a CBS/New York Times poll indicated 75% of Americans were more concerned about our $14 Trillion deficit than in the immediate state and/or stimulation of the economy. Uh-oh. If President Obama were to pass Healthcare reform, he could no longer focus exclusively on benefits and had to concern himself with cost. This is why we know the Congressional Budget Office.

The non-partisan CBO was the arbiter, they were to crunch the numbers and have the final say. We waited, none more eagerly than Nancy Pelosi who needed to pacify her Blue Dogs, a small but crucial group of fiscally conscious democrats who would vote No to any plan bending the cost curve upward. Without the Blue Dogs, Healthcare likely doesn’t pass. The results came in, lo and behold, the plan will wind up saving us $130 Billion the first ten years, and over $1 Trillion the following ten.

Uh-huh.  Before he was pushing grandma off a cliff, Paul Ryan spent six and a half minutes at the Healthcare Summit detailing how the White House achieved this “savings.”

Ryan highlighted the $500 Billion gutting of Medicare, the double counting of Social Security benefits and the $371 Billion ‘Doc fix.’ After all the smoke and mirrors, he concluded the plan would add $486 Billion the first ten years, and $2.3 Trillion over the following ten. Quite a disparity. Who’s right? Unfortunately, his testimony had all the impact of a fart in the wind. The failure of one reporter from The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN or MSNBC to ask a single follow-up question is quintessential liberal bias.

Much in the way a Black Hole can only be detected by the way light and objects bend around it, this blatant partisanship exists only in the stories or angles the majority media don’t cover.  If the mandate of our press corps, the disseminators of information, is to hold truth to power, then they need to start with the truth.  National Healthcare is a moral imperative. 40,000 people a year die because they lack health coverage, this is the oft quoted figure.  Fine.  That’s a perfectly legitimate, virtuous argument.  Saving them is the benefit. The cost is the cost.  But because it’s a moral imperative, it doesn’t matter how much it costs.  It’s why they can say with a straight face ‘Folks, we’re gonna add 30 million people to the system AND reduce our deficit!  And wait ’til you hear about the cheesecake!

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Fox vs. Chicken

It ended just as it began, without warning. On May 10th, 2010, Keith Olbermann concluded MSNBC’s Countdown with his nightly count-up, “…the 2,576th day since the declaration of Mission Accomplished in Iraq.” His signature signoff, begun in 2006 (the 1012th day) would conclude every broadcast for the next four years, an impressive unbroken run.

But a less well known, albeit monumentally more remarkable, streak began the night Keith debuted in 2003 and continued uninterrupted through his final Countdown eight years later…the 3,196th day since Olbermann brought someone on to debate.

In what will go down as the most jaw-droppingly tone-deaf decisions in the nascent history of opinion news, Keith Olbermann never employed one dissenting voice. Richard Wolfe, Jonathan Alter, John Dean, Marcos Moulitsas, et al Franken, dating back to Dana Milbank and Craig Crawford – not one regular contributor ever disagreed with the host on anything on air. To his credit, Howard Fineman would, on occasion, present the more moderate position, but there was never a back and forth. Keith would simply exhale and move on. This can only appeal to the hardcore left, a group of people who are so secure in their position, the other side exists only in caricature. Olbermann, frustrated by his more successful nemesis, never quite grasped why Bill O’Reilly routinely tripled his viewership.

Say what you want about Bill and I will. He is a pompous, hot-headed, and, at times, insufferable gasbag who shamelessly hawked his Factor gear well before the proceeds started going to charity. (I’m a loyal viewer.) His ego recently attracted another moon, adding to the two already in orbit. Incapable of playing straight man to Dennis Miller on his weekly segments, it‘s often more comical watching Dennis SHOUT the end of his quip to stave off the frequent ‘Look at me, Miller, I’m funny too!’ interruption. And his promise to give his guest the last word is rarely kept. But all this I tolerate for the one thing Bill does better than anyone on television, the best since William F. Buckley.


It takes guts to put forth a position and implore someone to tell you where you’re wrong. Bill does it just about every night and can lead to stimulating exchanges.

Who won doesn’t matter, the point is both sides are well represented.  Bill will, when those moons are aligned just right, even admit when he’s wrong. (I’m a loyal viewer.) Because Keith never debates, he can never be wrong. Not in the moment, not when it counts. Why? Why would such an intelligent man shy away from a good challenge? To me it seems less about fear and more about loathing.  I don’t think Keith Olbermann dislikes all conservatives. He despises them.

A conservative is either a racist, sexist, bigot or homophobe. This is the Grand Sland, the coterie of arms available to those on the left who’d rather not bother with those pesky debates, those annoying back and forth exchanges.  This quickly ends the conversation before it starts.   Consider his hit on the now Senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown.

Olbermann double-downed on douchebag, this was his night-to-sleep-on-it, next day ‘apology.’   His challenge to “disprove it” was taken up by Jon Stewart, whose research team provided the context to each and every smear.  It’s available on Youtube and funny as all hell.  But in truth, there is no way to disprove the charge or remove the stain of the accusation.  It’s like asking someone, ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’

K.O. got KO’d but has now resurfaced on the ironically named Current TV…I think.  It’s heartening to know fewer people will be exposed to such poisonous discourse.  Keith Olbermann was and always will be a remoreseless, silver-tongued character assassin armed with a vicious demean streak.  It ended just as it began.

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A Greenhouse of Cards

The look is unmistakable.  Mouth slightly agape, verging on a smile, it’s a cross between astonishment and pity. Without taking her eyes off me, she turns to her friend and whispers, ’He doesn’t believe in climate change.’ You could feel the oxygen being sucked in.  I try to suppress my grin, knowing how what I’m about to say might be received.

“No, I’m quite sure the climate changes.  You seem to believe in climate stasis.”  She squints, ‘Who the hell is climate Stacy?’  Her friend, deeming me a lost cause, pulls her away by the arm.  There is no penetrating the Fortress of Certitude.  Anyone who dare question the science is deemed a ‘denier’, as if denying evolution or the Holocaust.

Skepticism is the essence of science.
Of the thirteen lead authors on the crucial chapter on Radiative Forcing, Judith Lean was the only solar physicist. As such, any paper on the Sun’s output was filtered through her. The workload may seem daunting, but Dr. Lean was remarkably efficient, rejecting six, count ’em six peer-reviewed studies on cosmic radiation, sunspots, geomagnetism…anything mitigating the impact of man-made fossil fuel emissions.

Instead, her conclusions were based on one paper written by Claus Frohlich…and Judith Lean. Yep, she reviewed her own work. Now, I’m no psychiatrist but intuitively, unless she were a clinical schizophrenic or suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder, chances are Judith Lean was going to agree with herself. The Norwegian government offered this rebuke:

“I would encourage the IPCC to [re-]consider having only one solar physicist on the lead author team of such an important chapter. In particular since the conclusion of this section about solar forcing hangs on one single paper in which J. Lean is a coauthor. I find this paper, which certainly can be correct, is given too much weight.”

Norway’s petition to include the six studies was also ignored by the IPCC. Why? Why would such an august body appear to suppress scientific evidence? (43:00-44:18)

What is not in dispute is that variations in the brightness of the Sun is not sufficient to cause the rise in global temperature over the last 30 years, this is what opened the door to man-made CO2.  Then in 2003, evidence of an indirect relationship set the climate world abuzz.

Research from an astrophysicist, Nir Shaviv, on cosmic radiation and its effect on cloud formation was combined with the work of a geologist, Jan Veitzer, who found a correlation between sunspots and temperature. What they discovered struck their colleagues like a thunderclap: an inverse relationship between cosmic radiation and temperature over the past 600 million years.

Basically, the climate is controlled by clouds…clouds are controlled by cosmic radiation…cosmic radiation is controlled by the Sun. It was stunning. It was groundbreaking. It was ignored. Shaviv and Veitzer’s conclusions all ran afoul of the “overwhelming scientific consensus” of the IPCC.

The ecological necessity aside, this is a not so subtle way of redistributing wealth from the developed to the developing countries.

Prior to the formation of IPCC in 1988, climate science funding totaled about $170 million, a widely agreed on reasonable amount. It jumped to two billion under Bill Clinton. How much has Al Gore profited? Good question. Determining the former V.P.‘s net worth is no easy feat, but most experts agree he left government in 2001 worth about one million dollars. By 2007, he was worth about $100 million. If cap-and-trade were to pass, you could add a zero. Amongst his many ventures, Al is chairman and founder of Generation Investment Management (GIM), a private equity firm set to reap ungodly benefits in the exchange of carbon credits. Gore’s billionaire aspirations and the entire green movement teeter on one premise: climate stasis would be maintained but not for man’s contribution of CO2; unless we curb our carbon emissions, we’ll face cataclysms of biblical proportion! *coughing* Solar variability is minimal. You bet it is. Otherwise, a lot of people are out of work and much of that funding dries up.

We all want to be good stewards of our environment.  But to believe Al Gore is to believe we have a greater impact on our climate than the Sun. We’ve caused enough ecological damage – Chernobyl, Bhopal and B.P. to name but a few man-made atrocities – to keep ourselves busy, and for which environmental activism is not only warranted but essential. Controlling our temperature, however, is a little above our pay grade.

In 1632, Galileo Galilei was brought before the Roman Inquisition for corroborating what Copernicus observed a century before – the Sun, not the Earth, was the center of the universe. Deemed a heretic, he was forced to recant on pain of death. He challenged Scripture, he took direct aim at the Catholic Church and no one likes their orthodoxy challeged.  But the message Galileo delivered, though not as earth shattering today, is just as unwelcome: we are not as important as we thought we were. And that is the most inconvenient truth of all.

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Hello world! Welcome to highwirednyc

Welcome to highwirednyc

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