Open Thread for Friday, February 17, 2023

Some people get jittery. Others get depressed. Both conditions are quite common.

A few quick topics:

  1. Why a Strong Economy Is Making Stock Investors Jittery — Oh, that’s easy. It’s because stock investors are always jittery. They wouldn’t know what to do if they weren’t having a nervous breakdown several times a day. The great weakness of our economic system is that it’s so dependent upon the faulty nervous systems of these people.
  2. 50 years ago, depression ended a campaign. That’s changed, politicians say. — It’s been 50 years, and I still think Eagleton should have stayed on the ticket. Now, John Fetterman is reaching out for help, in a different world. Depression is sort of the common cold of psychological disorders. Hey, I’ve been diagnosed with it, decades ago. And like most people, I saw somebody, got treated and moved on. Why should it be any different for legislators? If only poor Bruce Willis had something so treatable.
  3. The all-volunteer force turns 50 — and faces its worst crisis yet. — Yeah, here I go showing you things from publications to which you probably don’t describe. But I’m sorry, that’s where I get ideas. Here, Max Boot is talking about the problem of having a professional military that most of the population knows nothing about. The solution, of course, is a draft — and not selective service, either, but universal national service. But it ain’t gonna happen because it’s politically impossible. He’s just defining the problem.
  4. Alec Baldwin Didn’t Have to Talk to the Police. Neither Do You. — I’ve seen a number of these pieces recently saying the reason Baldwin faces charges now is that kept blabbing — not only to the authorities, but to the world. I understand the reasoning, but I would really find it hard not to tell investigators everything I knew about a homicide about which I had personal knowledge. What do y’all think?
  5. My wife’s cousin dies at 81 — When my wife and I were first dating, I was at her house one night when she was busy organizing some of her family’s photos (back then, “photos” were things on paper — prints). I asked her how a picture of Major League star catcher Tim McCarver had gotten in there, and learned that he was her first cousin. To me, he was one of the stars of the great team the Cardinals had in the late ’60 — I had seen him play in spring training. She and I would later seem him play during his one year with the Red Sox. In the last part of his career, I became a Phillies fan watching him catch for Steve Carlton — who had been a rookie with the Cards when Tim was a big star. I enjoyed hearing his voice all those years he was even more famous as a broadcaster, but to me he’ll always be a ballplayer. I loved having him as my familial link to the bigs, and I’m sorry he’s gone.

Tim on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1967, in the second of his four decades playing in the bigs.

24 thoughts on “Open Thread for Friday, February 17, 2023

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, I don’t mean to diminish serious, profound depression when I say it’s like the common cold. (Mine was more of the common-cold sort, if it was even depression.) I suspect Eagleton’s was way worse, if it involved shock treatments.

    But hey, it was way back when he was a kid.

    And yeah, I understand that it’s different when someone is running to be a heartbeat away from the presidency. A senator doesn’t have to be on top of his game every day; a president does. But I think Eagleton would probably have done a good job. Not that McGovern had any chance of getting elected, even if Eagleton had stayed on the ticket…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I had the privilege, years ago, of working with Clark Hoyt. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for him.

      He and Bob Boyd won a Pulitzer for their reporting on the Eagleton story.

      I just dealt with Clark sort of remotely. Shortly before I became news editor of the Wichita paper, Clark — who had been managing editor there — had left to head up the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau. I met him a couple of times, and used to deal frequently with him on the phone. Since we were an hour later and I worked late into the night, he’d sometimes call as he was leaving for the day to ask me to let him know if anything big broke late on some developing story.

      But I never worked with him face-to-face, day after day. If I had, I might have asked him at some point the question I most wanted to ask: How did he feel about what happened as a result of his reporting?

      I would have had to know him better to ask that.

  2. Pat

    Interesting article about Tim McCarver. I had never thought about how a catcher’s hands must hurt when he got up to bat. Catching 90+ mph balls surely must take their toll. I’ve always thought the catcher’s job was the hardest, but mostly from being so close to the hitter.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Catchers mostly have trouble with their knees, which is understandable. I remember that time we saw Tim playing for the Red Sox in spring training. We got to see him play because Pudge Fisk, who was then the team’s star catcher, broke his wrist in the first inning.

      After the game, we gave Tim a ride back to the house he and his wife were renting there in Winter Haven (their old spring training site — now they’re near Fr. Myers), and his knees were giving him trouble. He took a muscle relaxer, and felt compelled to tell us that was not something he usually did. I suppose that time he went in without sufficient warmup, since Fisk was supposed to be catching that day.

      Overall, it’s the toughest job on the field. Everybody focuses on the pitcher, who is critically important, but the pitcher is just involved with his own job, for the most part. The catcher is not only physically involved in every pitch — and thinking about all the things the pitcher is thinking about — but he’s the defensive general on the field. He’s the only guy who can see the whole field at all times, and has a great deal of responsibility for what happens out there — especially when there are runners on base…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          So does working in the yard, and I’m all for banning THAT.

          Speaking of which…

          To elaborate on that day when we saw Tim play for the Red Sox in Florida….

          First, I need to set the record straight. My wife tells me it wasn’t his knees. He had pulled a muscle in his leg, she says. Same deal, though. I could be wrong, but I’ve always sort of thought he went in without sufficient warmup, since Fisk was expected to play that game.

          But when it comes to the toll on the human body, we ran into a more dramatic example that same day… when we were driving Tim home after the game, and before we had pulled away from the training camp, Tim asked me to stop because he’d just seen someone he wanted to talk to. I pulled over, and he rolled down the window to greet this guy and ask, “How’re you doing? Do you think you’re gonna make it?” Maybe it was the first time he’d had to speak to him alone, without other Red Sox around.

          As I recall, the guy didn’t seem sure about it.

          Anyway, after he rolled the window back up and I drove off, I asked, “Who was that?”

          Tim replied, “Tony Conigliaro.”

          Needless to say, I was impressed — and embarrassed I hadn’t recognized him. Tony was a legend. You know those flaps that come down on batting helmets today, protecting the temple? They exist because of him, and the pitch that almost killed him in 1967. According to Wikipedia, “He sustained a linear fracture of the left cheekbone and a dislocated jaw with severe damage to his left retina.”

          He made a pretty good comeback a year or two later, but the recovery was never complete or lasting. Again turning to Wikipedia to aid my memory, “After a stint with the Angels in 1971, he returned to the Red Sox briefly in 1975 as a designated hitter, but was forced to retire because his eyesight had been permanently damaged.”

          That was when we saw him — the spring of ’75…

          1. Pat

            You were very fortunate to get to meet and spend time with him. I thought the NYT article was wonderful in reviewing his life. It really pricked my interest. He was a consequential figure in the baseball world.

  3. bud

    The biggest news at the moment story is Dominion Voting Machines suing Fox News for defamation. This is huge! Their on air reporters were pushing a narrative that the voting machines were rigged when, in fact, they knew this was a lie. And there is proof they knew this was a lie. It is a very high bar to prove a defamation case against a media outlet. This might be the case the one to clear that bar. I always suspected Fox was saying false stuff for ratings. Now we have proof.

    1. Pat

      This news is certainly making waves with people in the know. I just wish the voters and Fox watchers were as aware.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        That’s another story I haven’t paid much attention to, because I see the headline and I go, “What? Doesn’t everybody already know this?”

        And I turn to something else…

        There are a lot of things like that in this world, I find…

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    Yes, I WAS fortunate.

    And I took advantage of the opportunity I had. Sitting there visiting with Tim at his place after the game, I registered a complaint: I complained that I couldn’t get his attention to get an autograph back when he was with the Cardinals when I was 15. He was signing autographs for some OTHER kids, but I couldn’t get him to turn around…

    His response: “Aw, I wasn’t playing ball when you were just 15!”

    Good deflection, but Tim had been in the major leagues when I was 6, which is when he was 17… 🙂

  5. bud

    3. Time to abolish the selective service. It’s a waste of money. I’m very thankful the neocons are not in charge of our military affairs. And just as an aside why don’t women have to register with selective service?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Because they’re women. Of course, if we did have a draft again, LOTS of people — affected by living in the era of fourth-wave feminism — would want to draft them, too. Which would in turn erect yet another political obstacle, because that would make the draft much more abhorrent to millions of people. That may be THE greatest political obstacle, frankly. God help us if we ever get into it with the Russians or Chinese. We are now a society ill-suited to dealing with a conflict such as we faced in the 1940s.

      Oh, and by the way, Bud, it won’t be the fault of the “neocons” if we do get into such a war. It will have a great deal to do with the decisions of the Russians or Chinese…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        By the way, I tend to think of the current era as second-wave feminism, because I haven’t noticed any significant ideological changes since that one came along. We’re now in the fourth, according to people who actually keep score on such things.

        And maybe it is different, now that I’m made to think about it for a moment. After all, we had an actual draft in the early years of the second wave, and while almost every other likely objection was raised to it, there wasn’t a big movement pushing to include women. Quite the contrary — the possibility of women being drafted was possibly the biggest objection that defeated the ERA.

        Of course, when people say “Why don’t we draft women, too?,” they’re not arguing for equal treatment of the sexes. They’re really trying to raise the bar against a draft, period…

        1. bud

          Bull! This absolutely is about equal treatment of the sexes. You’re putting women on some type of pedestal that is horribly insulting to women. But this isn’t really an issue if the selective service just goes away as it should. In any reasonable threat we might be confronted with a purely volunteer military is adequate.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, no! I’ve learned my lesson! I didn’t learn it from second, third or fourth-wave feminism, though.

            I learned it from “The IT Crowd.” I learned that women do not expect to be placed on a pedal stool. Or, at least, Jen doesn’t…

      2. Ken

        If a “draft” were, as you say, a “universal national service” with an alternative civilian service option, then there is no reason women should not be “drafted.” “Because they’re women” simply isn’t a viable rationale.

        But this is all totally theoretical, because there won’t be a draft, not in the next 10 years, probably ever. Why? Because the military doesn’t want one. They don’t want to have to deal with all the”duds” that would be forced on them.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          No, they don’t. Or at least, they didn’t, for many years.

          They’re less enchanted with the all-volunteer force now, as Boot wrote:

          Now, however, one retired general told me, “The AVF is facing its most serious crisis since Nixon created it.” All of the services are struggling with recruiting. The crisis has been especially acute in the Army. Last year, it missed its recruiting goals by 15,000 soldiers — an entire division’s worth. That is a particularly ominous development given the growing threats from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea…

          There are a number of reasons for the decline in recruitment, starting with unemployment being so low, and going on to the serious lack of fitness among potential recruits. But this one probably bothers me the most:

          “The AVF has led us to become the best trained, equipped and organized fighting force in global history,” retired Adm. James Stavridis, a former NATO commander, told me. “But we have drifted away from the citizen-soldier model that was such a part of our nation’s history. The AVF has helped to create an essentially professional cadre of warriors. We need to work to ensure that our military remains fully connected to the civilian world, and to educate civilians about the military.”…

          1. bud

            “The AVF has led us to become the best trained, equipped and organized fighting force in global history,”

            That’s good enough for me. Brad you’re floundering around trying to concoct a problem that simply does not exist. The military exists to deal with a specific issue – foreign invasion. It should not be used as some sort of social indoctrination.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              You can call it social indoctrination if you like, but I remain convinced that the end of the draft played a HUGE role in the political fragmentation of our society. That loss of an element that gave young men a reason to see themselves as part of something greater than themselves has corroded our ability to perceive each other as fellow Americans with something important in common.

              The draft ended in 1973. By 1982, things started turning nasty. I’ve written about that before. This was the beginning of Lee Atwater’s heyday. He was considered an outlier at first, but today he’d just be lost in the crowd. By the 90s, we started seeing people running the country who thought of themselves as Democrats or Republicans first, and increasingly had no sense of connection with other Americans whom they saw as their enemies.

              It got worse and worse through the 2000s, and of course things came crashing to the ground in a particularly shocking way in 2016.

              The lack of a shared experience with other people from across our society — whether you’re talking the military or some sort of civilian service — has led to atomization.

              It’s particularly stark to me and others of my time period because I grew up in a country shaped by what happened after the last draft was implemented in 1940. I was formed in a time of unusual national cohesiveness. People look upon the 1960s as a time when that all fell apart, but it didn’t, really. We had huge disagreements and went through trauma, but we went into it as one people. That gave us the sense of duty to each other that led to extraordinary efforts to overcome, for instance, the racial conflicts that had torn at our country since its beginning, through such things as school integration, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act — things that are hard to imagine happening today.

              I wonder sometimes about what it was to be an American before the draft came back in 1940. I read a lot about it, but I didn’t live it. I see such things as the shocking isolationism that existed right up until Dec. 7, 1941 — and of course, we’ve experienced that same phenomenon on both the left and right today. But I also see FDR’s efforts to pull us together through the 1930s via a lot of civilian programs — but I can’t say I can tell for sure how well those things worked. (Though it’s always seemed like a noble effort to me, I grew up hearing old people make jokes about the WPA, based on the idea that it paid a lot of people to stand around and do little.)

              Anyway, I need to go do some work. I’ll just close by saying that things that pull us together as a people — things that help us see beyond our demographic or economic or ideological or regional or educational differences — are a good, healthy thing for our society, and should not be dismissed…

              1. bud

                Wow! If you really want to see the country ripped apart let’s have a debate about being back the draft. Worst idea since prohibition.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Yeah, that’s why I said what I said about there being an obvious solution, but it’s politically impossible. Remember?

                  Yeah, here I go showing you things from publications to which you probably don’t describe. But I’m sorry, that’s where I get ideas. Here, Max Boot is talking about the problem of having a professional military that most of the population knows nothing about. The solution, of course, is a draft — and not selective service, either, but universal national service. But it ain’t gonna happen because it’s politically impossible. He’s just defining the problem.

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