Wednesday, May 10, 2006

714 and 31 (26, actually)

Two examples of recent good reading on unrelated subjects:

In the hallowed company of Ruth and Aaron, Bonds is treated as the punchline to a joke, like the one in left field that said, "For Sale: Life-Sized Bobblehead. See Leftfield." Or the one in the upper deck with an enormous asterisk-marked head drawn over a small body that said, "Life Size. Shrink This." Or the faux Giants jerseys that say "Cheater" on the front and "Juiced" arched over a No. 25 on the back. Or the people dressed in giant cardboard juice boxes marked "100% Roids." Or the "Got Juice?'' signs. Or the skinny guy with the T-shirt that said "Barry With Pirates" while his buddy, dressed in an inflatable sumo costume, wore one that said "Barry With San Fran." Or the sign that simply said, "Fraud*.' On and on it goes, the majesty of history trumped by lowbrow humor.


That simple sign may be the worst of it. An athlete being labeled a cheater is worse than being called soft or a loser or even a jerk. And yet that is the verdict on Bonds, a player once gifted with as great a package of all-around baseball skills the game had ever seen. And that, really, is why this tour toward history is so sad.

I think Barry ought to be in the HOF. After all, baseball has been rife with cheating from the beginning, from spitballs to corked bats. Gaylord Perry, who won Cy Youngs in both leagues, was never reticent in talking about his tobacco juice and emory boards and sandpaper.

But Barry will never get to the HOF because the writers who do the voting despise him, and not just for cheating but for his obnoxious attitude going back to when his hat size was still a 7 1/4.

Now then, about that other number:

(T)he rise of the immigration debate was the single worst thing, at the single worst moment, that could have happened to the GOP coalition. It is the San Andreas fault line between the business conservatives and the movement/fundie conservatives. When this issue came up, that fault line slipped, and we are still rocking and rolling from the aftershocks.

The business conservatives, of course, want an ocean of super-cheap labor they don't have to offer health care bennies to, so they wanted the Senate bill. The movement/fundie conservatives want a thousand-foot wall built around the country and every undocumented worker sent away in leg irons, and so they backed the Sensenbrenner bill in the House. These two positions are totally irreconcilable, and unutterably dangerous to the GOP.

The business conservatives provide the cash, so they are essential to the coalition. The movement/fundie conservatives provide the blood, sweat and fanatacism that has helped a minority party achieve near-total political dominance, so they are essential to the coalition. Now they are at each other's throats, and Bush's weirdly aerobic straddle on the issue pacified neither side.

There's more, including the NYT graphic which explains the numbers in the headline, but there's enough known to reveal the simple truth: the GOP can't make a move on immigration without screwing about 40% of its base. If they pick the rich side, then the fundie base stays home on Election Day or votes Libertarian. And the DC pols can't get off the crack -- err, corporate money.

But it still remains to be seen how it plays out in November.

For now, just pop some corn and watch the Republican Party crumble.

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