Saturday, February 16, 2008

Politics and Other Inanities

How Much Hope?

How much hope is enough? Is it possible to have too much hope? If you are Barack Obama, the Democrat Senator from Illinois seeking his party’s presidential nomination, there apparently can’t be too much hope. In fact, in a campaign which he is arguably winning, Mr. Obama has talked about little else, which means nothing is more important than hope, to him.

Can you win the presidency, or a nomination for president, by appealing only to people’s desire for the obscure notion of hope, or some popular but frequently foolish call for “change?” Thus far, that is all Mr. Obama has put forth, and he has done so by the truckload. Perhaps the more relevant question is: Can too much hope wreck a political campaign?

Probably not. But we have to look forward to the general election campaign when Mr. Obama, if he wins the nomination, is forced to put some meat on those naked bones of hope and change. One issue specifically screaming for some details is universal health care, which both Mr. Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton are touting as the latest national salvation. Someone—P.J. O’Rourke, I believe it was—said, “If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.” That’s a subject for another day.

Congress and Steroids

What a circus; Congressman Dan Burton had it right when he used that term the other day. Congress is holding hearings on, of all things, whether or not steroids are used by professional athletes, specifically in big league baseball, and more specifically, whether or not ace pitcher Roger Clemens used illegal drugs to “bulk up” and improve his performance.

On one side of this argument is Clemens, denying that he ever used steroids or human growth hormone, and on the other is Brian McNamee, a trainer who claims to have injected the illegal drugs into Clemens body on more than one occasion.

What is the true issue in this flapdoodle is that Congress has no business investigating professional sports. It has no authority to demand that witnesses appear before it to testify under oath about steroid use in major league baseball.

If you think that the situation is so bad, and baseball’s commissioner wasn’t doing anything, that somebody had to do something, and that Congress finally stepped in and that is therefore okay, then think about this: What happens when Congress decides that some other private industry isn’t behaving in the way that Congress, in its infinite wisdom, believe it should? What happens when Congress then demands that Mom and Pop store owners appear to defend why they charge more for the same products than Wal-Mart?

Congress has very specific limits to its authority, and it has dramatically exceeded those limits in this investigation.

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