Talk radio update

Fox News was slow to get to the Trayvon Martin shooting story, but it seems to be catching up. Last week, about all Sean Hannity could say on the radio was that it was a tragedy all the way around. This week, he had his partisan shoes on.

He spent a segment or two lamenting the politicization of the case, then several segments politicizing it. Evidence pointing to the guilt of George Zimmerman was ignored; exculpatory evidence was thoroughly aired. And he blasted Spike Lee, Rosanne Barr, Jesse Jackson, the Black Panthers, Democrats in Congress and, of course, President Obama for failing to adequately condemn all of those parties. Conservatives hate the nanny state, but want the president to be the national scolding nanny.

Hannity’s hypocrisy wasn’t the hardest part of this to take. If you can’t handle hypocrisy, then you aren’t strong enough to listen to Hannity. I, too, believe that people are innocent until proven guilty (which doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be charged). What makes it hard to handle is that in all of the years I have listened to Hannity, I have never heard him acknowledge the possibility that whites can be racists. He seems to be vaguely aware that we enslaved black people in some distant century, but he has never seen a thing since to persuade him that racism still exists — except by black people against white people.

But even that wasn’t as hard to take as his interview with Mitt Romney, who willingly submits to Hannity’s softball hackery while mostly ducking actual journalists. It wasn’t anything in particular that Romney said — same old, same old — it was his smarmy, eager-to-please, half-fawning, half-patronizing manner that bugged me. I couldn’t help but think of Al Gore, who is a smart fellow and who no doubt would have made a better president than George Bush II. But I remember how hard it was during the campaign to listen to Gore’s schoolmarm tones and imagine eight years of that. It probably cost him the election. With Romney, I get the same feeling.

But toughest of all to take is this post by Glenn Reynolds. Reynolds’ blog actually introduced me to the blogging world, and I used to read it faithfully. Half-baked cheap shots eventually led me to quit, so I didn’t know it had gotten quite this bad.

Yellowjackets sweep

Went to see MSU Billings sweep a doubleheader from Minot State on Sunday. It was a lovely day for baseball, at least until the last couple of innings, when the weather began to turn a little raw.

The Yellowjackets won 8-2 and 4-0. Samuel Paterson (1-3) had a three-hit shutout going into the ninth of the opener, then gave up a couple of unearned runs — thanks to his own throwing error — and needed a reliever for the final out.

Matt Eames, who came into the game having surrendered 10 runs (three of them unearned) in 10 innings of work, pitched a shutout in the second game.

There were no home runs, and I wasn’t keeping score, but Ty Gilmore came into the series hitting .388 for MSU Billings. I suspect he’s over .400 now. Shortstop and cleanup hitter Colby Robison   had an excellent doubleheader, and shone especially on defense.

Whew. It’s been a long winter without baseball.

Talk radio update II

Sean Hannity has been on a crusade to get President Obama’s Super PAC to return Bill Maher’s $1 million campaign donation. Hannity calls it a “no-brainer”; his ostensible reason is that Maher has used bad words to refer to female conservatives. His real reason is to provide cover for his pal Rush Limbaugh, who thinks that asking insurance companies to cover birth control pills is indistinguishable from soliciting illicit sex.

But this is a perilous road. If money is speech, and the Supreme Court seems to think it is, then you can’t restrict campaign donations without restricting the First Amendment. Telling Maher he can’t donate because he is a self-confessed “potty mouth” is to tell him he is barred from the democratic process.

This is a very slippery slope. If Maher can’t donate, then presumably Limbaugh couldn’t either. And plenty of Hannity’s other buddies would have to be cut off. There’s Bill Cunningham, who calls Nancy Pelosi “Botox Pelosi”; and Ted Nugent, who called Hillary Clinton “a worthless bitch” who should suck on his machine gun barrel; and Ann Coulter, who remain unrepentant about saying that the 9-11 widows enjoyed the deaths of their husbands — still the ugliest comment I believe that I have ever heard in political discourse.

My advice to politicians in nearly every case is: Take the money. Campaign donors aren’t applying for sainthood; they just want to be heard. That’s supposed to be what America is all about.

Healthcare and freedom

While we’re thinking of examples of government forcing us to buy things we don’t want, I wish we’d spend a little more time thinking about how the current healthcare system limits freedom. Here’s a good start. I have long since lost count of the number of people the Outpost couldn’t hire because we couldn’t afford to offer health insurance. This country is full of businesses that never got started and employees who are stuck in jobs they hate because they are tied to their existing insurance.

Tying health coverage to the job market always was a lousy idea. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t quite get us away from that, but it is at least a step in the right direction.

Thursday talk radio update

Warren Olney had an excellent discussion on the Affordable Care Act, which goes before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. One opponent made the common comment that if the legislation stands, it will be the first time in U.S. history that the government has forced people to buy a product they may not want and may not use.

This has never struck me as much of an argument. When I was in the Army, we were supposed to get haircuts every 10 days. In a pinch, I suppose, I could have cut my own, but it always seemed a pretty clear case to me of the government forcing me to buy something I didn’t want. Same with shoe polish: We had to keep shoes and boots shined, and I never learned how to make my own polish. After initial supplies of socks, underwear, shirts, etc., wore out, we also had to buy Army-approved clothing from Army-approved sources.

I guess nobody ever expected the full panoply of constitutional rights to apply to soldiers. We were victims of socialized medicine, after all. And technically I was a volunteer, although not a very willing one. My draft number was 47.

I also recall traveling to Western Montana when I was in college and seeing signs requiring buckets and shovels to drive on certain roads. Of course, nobody forced me to drive on those roads, and nobody who doesn’t want to buy car insurance has to drive a car. And if you never buy or sell a house, then you don’t have to worry about buying stair rails and other devices needed to obtain a government-backed mortgage.

I suppose I would favor some sort of broad exemption from the healthcare mandate for people who never buy homes, serve in the military or drive on public roads. But if they ever get a job, they still have to pay for Social Security and Medicare, whether they want it or not.

All of which, I guess, just goes to say that I don’t understand why the individual mandate is such a big deal. The only reason it makes sense not to have health insurance is either if you are too rich for medical bills to matter or if you are too poor to be able to pay anything. Everybody else pretty much has to have insurance unless they are willing to suffer untreated for any serious maladies they contract, or unless they figure they can force the rest of us to pay their bills. I don’t like either of those alternatives, and I have trouble understanding why anybody does.