Coffee time

Mark Tokarski reads the Outpost.

Worth mentioning, perhaps, that I was one of the faithful few who sat through the entire 22-6 Mustangs win on Friday over the Orem Owlz, including all three-plus hours of the game and the 71-minute rain delay.

It may have been the craziest game I have ever seen. The Mustangs’ 11-run rally in the eighth was the most notable event, but there also was a terrific play at the plate on a brilliant throw by Beau Amaral from center field. And there was what I believe was the worst call I have ever seen by an umpire.

I say that as a former umpire (softball, high school and even a couple of college games) who never boos umpires and generally sides with them. But the home plate ump called a ball a home run that was at least eight feet foul. Not even close.

The most remarkable thing was that high-tempered Mustangs Manager Pat Kelly kept his cool and didn’t even get tossed out of the game. Instead, first baseman Carlos Sanchez got tossed, and he was replaced by Robert Maddox, who responded by going 4 for 4.

The Gazette story (sorry, hoarding links) necessarily left out lots of good stuff but did a creditable job of reporting the game despite deadline pressure — the game lasted almost until midnight. My only quarrel was with the characterization of the ump’s call as “controversial.” I’m pretty sure the ump was the only person in the ballpark who thought that ball was a home run. Seems like there should be at least two sides in reasonable numbers to have a controversy.

Saturday night’s game, by the way, was a taut, well played affair that could have been over in two hours if the Mustangs’ pitching hadn’t folded in the late innings. That’s baseball for you.

Talk radio update

I tried to catch Aaron Flint and instead got a long, long stretch of total silence, which really happens a lot on that station. For a minute or two, as I contemplated how superior the silence was to typical talk radio fare, I couldn’t help but wonder if the whole thing was just a cheap ratings ploy.

But there is something substantively different between silence when the radio is on and silence when it is off. When the radio is off, silence is contemplative, peaceful, serene. When the radio is on, silence is anticipatory, unsettling, almost creepy.

Eventually, I found the silence even harder to take than Dennis Miller’s replay of an old interview with climate change denier Lord Monckton, who also tossed in a little birtherism just for the sake of intellectual satisfaction.

Huckabee, Limbaugh and Hannity were all over the Mitt Romney speech to the NAACP. Limbaugh, who pretty much seems to make a living these days by spending his program defending whatever nonsense he said the day before, spent most of his show defending the nonsense he said the day before.

All three had one decent point to make: This was a no-win situation for Romney. If he doesn’t speak to the NAACP, he’s a coward. If he panders to the NAACP, he’s a typical politician. If he sticks to his guns and gets booed by the NAACP, then the news is all about the booing.

It’s a fair argument, and it would be more convincing if Romney hadn’t appeared to have made the booing part of his campaign strategy. It would be more convincing still if Romney hadn’t undercut it the very same day in our very own Montana.

The larger issue in my mind was why all these high-powered talkers aimed so much fire at this one inconsequential story. Was it just the talking point of the day? Probably.

Michael Smerconish was hard to listen to because he spent most of his show on the Penn State scandal. I don’t fault him for this; it is an important story, and he is a Philadelphia guy, so it’s right in his wheelhouse. But it is such an appalling, soul-draining slice of American life that I really find it hard to listen to. So mostly I didn’t.

Single thing on Yellowstone Public Radio that was better than all of talk radio put together on Thursday: Warren Olney’s discussion on “To the Point” of the miserable jobs situation. It was all thoughtful and excellent, but I was especially struck by the news that one consequence of the recession is that many companies, even large ones, have essentially dismantled their human resource departments. This has multiple unfortunate effects, apparently, especially for job applicants whose resumes don’t follow a predictable, safe path. Resume screening computers just can’t find those kinds of people, no matter how capable they may be.


Pogreba vs. Budge

Mitt Romney was just in Montana at a fund-raiser that was totally open to every Montanan willing to make a campaign donation of at least $2,500. It was a mockable event, and Don Pogreba wrote an entertaining post mocking it.

Enter Dave Budge, who in comments calls the post “the most superficial thing you’ve ever written.” Setting aside the obvious rejoinder that as far as superficiality goes, this is blogging we’re talking about, what was Budge’s point? That Pogreba had failed to point out that a certain Democrat in the presidential race also has held fund-raisers.

I’m sure there are some Americans who don’t know that Obama has held fund-raisers, but most of them were born last night and won’t be eligible to vote in November. So exactly what crime is Pogreba committing by failing to mention that mundane fact?

By parsing the comments, I eventually gathered that Budge objects to pointing out venality in one political candidate without also mentioning that it exists in other candidates. Yet just this week Budge criticizes Obama for lying without mentioning that Romney also has been known to lie.

Hypocrisy? Surely not. As Budge writes in Pogreba’s comments, “we can’t seem to have a rational debate with any brains involved. Everyone seems to be little more than political flaks [sic]. It’s just tiring.”

So, so tired.

Talk radio update

The Fourth of July is supposed to be a celebration of America becoming America: a brash and rowdy festival marking all that binds us to one another as a people.

I didn’t listen to any talk radio on July 4, but I caught the full load when I delivered papers on July 5. Not much celebration going on there.

Mike Huckabee denounced as immoral those Americans who believe that gays should be allowed to marry. Walt Williams, subbing for Limbaugh, seemed to denounce taxation itself as immoral. Michael Savage was busy denouncing that socialist Obama. The Glenn Beck clone was attacking Chris Rock and others who pointed out that not all Americans acquired independence on Independence Day.

The clone kept arguing that he is a transethnic person trapped in a white person’s body. Don’t know what that means; I guess he thought it was funny. I especially don’t know why it bugged him that people should point out something that is obviously true: Independence did not free the slaves. I guess maybe he just thought it was churlish to express such a snide thought on such a celebratory day.

Which is exactly what I thought of his program –and Huckabee’s, and Limbaugh’s and Savage’s. No America hating on NPR, of course, nor on Smerconish’s show — disagreeing with conventional conservative wisdom doesn’t make you less of an American on those shows. Or surprisingly, on Hannity’s show, where J.C. Watts was sitting in. I didn’t listen to much of him, so I can’t be sure he didn’t trash any fellow Americans. But he doesn’t seem to have the mean gene in him.

4th of July

We had an all-American Fourth of July at my house. I spent the morning reading a novel that I acquired somewhere I have forgotten but that was once a public library discard. At some point, I interrupted the reading long enough to listen to hosts on NPR read the Declaration of Independence aloud. In the afternoon, the wife and I drove to Pictograph Caves State Park, had a picnic, looked at the pictographs (look hard!), then went to see the Mustangs game at Dehler Park. It seemed like an awfully American way to spend the holiday.

But then it occurred to me: I had read a publicly purchased book, listened to publicly supported radio, went to a publicly owned park, saw a baseball game in a publicly owned stadium. I guess it was a socialist day after all. Next year, it’s Walmart.

Obamacare good for biz?

Matt Yglesias attempts to answer a question that I have wondered about since the inception of Obamacare: Why don’t small business groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses embrace it?

Because I run a small business, I am approached from time to time by the NFIB about joining up, and I always ask this question. I’ve never gotten an answer that seemed very satisfying.

The difficulty of providing health insurance to employees of a tiny business always has struck me as a great barrier to a dynamic American economy. Obamacare at least gives me, and small business owners like me, some hope.