On Wednesday and Thursday evenings this week you can get your first look at the array of Democratic candidates for President in a debate on NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. While some well-known personalities will be on the stage, there will also be a vast number of barely-known candidates vying for your attention. While we will surely hear a lot about the economy, student loans, taxing the rich, and foreign policy (Iran), it will be interesting to see if we get anything more than the usual platitudes regarding Climate Change. A story came out this morning about the Trump administration’s Agriculture Department burying a report about the adverse effects of climate change, particularly on rice production around the world (Politico, June 23, 2019). We have, of course, come to expect this from the Climate-Denier-in-Chief and his lackeys (which includes the entire Republican Congress!) but there does not seem to be any outcry or urgency from the Democrats about the issue either. Sure, there’s the “Green New Deal” (scoffed at by some, even in the Democratic ranks) and all the Democrats are for some kind of action (?) about climate change --- but, again, there seems to be no sense of urgency on their part.
When discussing this with the ever insightful and thoughtful Del Shortliffe recently, I likened it to all of us watching Jim Morrison in the late Sixties. Everyone knew he was self-destructive but somehow there seemed to be no possible intervention that would prevent the inevitable. It wasn’t a matter of “if” Morrison would kill himself; it was just a matter of “when.” Our politicians, Republicans in their denials and Democrats in their passivity, seem to have taken the same stance regarding Climate Change. It’s not a question of whether it will destroy life on Earth; it’s simply a matter of when. As emissions continue to choke the planet, as plastics continue to destroy our oceans, as glaciers continue to melt before out very eyes, those in power act as if Climate Change is Jim Morrison and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.
Last week I wrote a piece about Charles Reich’s Greening of America and how it was naïve and idealistic but, at the time, provided a brief window of hope for the future (that some of us clung to for many years). Charlie ignored the signposts indicating the Sixties would not sustain --- Altamont, the systematic destruction of the Black Panthers, the sheer power of Corporate America to co-opt, etc. Yet in losing the naïve idealism that created Earth Day in April of 1970, we have consigned ourselves to becoming spectators at our own execution. “Climate Change” is not a “sexy” issue, the way the economy or paying off student loans or taxing the rich might be. It is far more urgent and far less fleeting. Big Media’s abject failure to NOT make it a lead story on everyone’s daily newsfeed has contributed to advancing our destruction just as much as Big Oil and callous politicians.
If you watch the debates on Wednesday and/or Thursday night, pay attention to which Democrats say what about Climate Change, as you consider who might take on Agent Orange and become our first “Green” President.
On a Lighter Note
As baseball season moves closer to the All-Star break in mid-July I find that I am like an Alzheimer’s victim or someone with dementia. It takes a couple of months of watching the Yankees on television or listening to them on the radio for me to actually remember that the YES and WFAN broadcasters are utter and complete imbeciles! On the TV side, there is nothing more excruciatingly painful than being subjected to Michael Kay, Paul O’Neill, and David Cone in the booth. The Farrelly Brothers could make a movie entitled Dumb and Dumber and Dumberer about these three. With Kay barely providing play-by-lay, O’Neill and “Coney” ramble on and on about their former exploits as big-league players until you want to scream. They are like three hours of fingernails on a blackboard. The Lovely Carol Marie noted that I wasn’t an Alzheimer’s or dementia victim; she noted it was more like childbirth --- where one says she’ll never do it again and, after a year passes, she forgets and subjects herself to the pain one more time!
On the radio side we are now in our 14th year of the AARP broadcasting team of Suzyn Waldman (72) and John Sterling (80). Not to be age-ist, but these two should be forced into retirement! Rather than belabor my complaints, I’ll let John Sterling’s Wikipedia page do the talking.
Sterling is heavily criticized in the media, with over 100 websites dedicated to denigrating his style and calls. Many baseball writers and websites have ranked him the worst or close to the worst of current baseball radio announcers. Much of the criticism stems from calling balls home runs that are not home runs, mixing up fair and foul balls, and his personalized home run calls, which some people view as "over-the-top" or "too much". Regularly criticized by Craig Carton and Phil Mushnick for his inaccurate calls, Mushnick has called him a "dishonest, self-promoting clown". He has also been heavily criticized for making the call of the game more about himself than the play on the field with over the top excitement for routine plays or insignificant events. Many of his critics further accuse him of blaming someone or something else for his confusion. He has also been consistently rated one of the most biased sportscasters in the industry. The New York Times has described John Sterling as "frequently awful and laughable", often miscalling plays or not describing a play accurately – blaming confusion on the field on other reasons. The New York Daily News was also critical of Sterling's domineering of the booth, whereas most teams employ a two-man booth where duties are shared, Sterling does 100% of all play-by-play with his partner, Suzyn Waldman limited to ancillary commentary.
Waldman adds little to the broadcasting, particularly since Sterling is as self-serving a sexist as you’ll find in the media. That Sterling is referred to as “The Voice of the Yankees” surely has Mel Allen rolling over in his grave and, for those of us who heard Mel, feeling it is a blasphemous pronouncement.
Thankfully, the Yankees play two “Subway Series” against the Mets and we can watch the Yankees play while listening to erudite and astute Mets announcers (Gary Cohn & Ron Darling, in particular, but even Keith Hernandez is pretty good). The Yanks are occasionally broadcast on Fox Sports and ESPN but then, of course, we have to listen to the preening “A-Rod” and his adoring lackeys.
My advice: watch Yankees baseball with the “Mute” button nearby. If you have to listen in the car, try to find an out-of-town broadcast (we were particularly impressed with the Baltimore radio announcers). So it goes.