Snakes and Sidewinders

Summer, inept politicians and corporate greed abound, but baseball is here and autumn is coming.

We passed the midpoint of the year last week. Just a couple days ago, the sun set a minute earlier than it had been setting for several weeks, so we're now officially careening headlong towards autumn, elections and football. Life is good.

Alas, it is still July and we still have that pesky August to deal with, but we can at least see the Good Times from here. Why, just the other day, I saw the first political commercial of the season. Of course, it was only for Mark Osterloh, but it still counts.

Osterloh is running for governor and officially has as much chance of winning as the proverbial one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. No wait, Ralph Macchio won the All-Valley Karate title on only one leg, so let's say that Osterloh has as much chance of winning as a home-schooled kid in a personality contest.

Anyway, Osterloh is a doctor and a lawyer. C'mon, Mark, really. Why? What could the possible benefit of that be other than you're now able to sue yourself for malpractice?

We've had doctors do well in politics (remember the unqualified success of Joycelyn Elders?), and for some reason, we seem not to hold it against lawyers when they run for office. (We only hate lawyers when they're lawyering.) But both? That's just a little bit creepy.

The commercial itself is among the worst I've ever seen, and I grew up in California, where they invented and then refined the really bad political commercial. Osterloh is speaking to an unseen audience in flowery terms about the grand potential of government and how he will make it so. Then the camera pans back and we see that Osterloh is on a bicycle talking to two kids who have apparently set up a lemonade stand in the middle of the Saguaro National Monument.

The ad is obviously false. There's no way in the world that Osterloh could draw a crowd that large.

In other political news, it took 10 months, but it appears that President Bush is settling into his own level of incompetence as predicted by the Peter Principle.

The country is back to deficit spending in a big way, and most Americans see Bush's tax cut for the rich (and not post-9/11 spending) as the main culprit.

Bush made a speech on the Middle East, even calling for the ouster of Yasser Arafat, and it landed with a thud. The Palestinians and Israelis looked up from their bloodletting just long enough to mutter, "Huh?," and then went back at each other. The U.S. is an absolute non-presence in that mess, and it's not for lack of trying.

And then there are the daily reports of corporate greed and criminality with which we are bombarded. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being misspent, misappropriated, or are just plain mis-sing, and Bush's tepid response to the whole mess is to blame a "few bad apples."

Dude, ever since your Dad and his homie, Reagan, deregulated everything and allowed an orgy of corporate takeovers and mergers to go unchecked, there ain't but about six distinct corporations left in America. Out of six, a few bad apples represent a majority.

More and more, it's looking like lame-duck status for Bush. And after he's gone, when people ask what the "W." stands for, he'll say, "George Won-term Bush."

While waiting for the political season to heat up, I think I'll take the kids to a ballgame. The Sidewinders are back in town tonight for the start of a series against first-place Las Vegas.

This may be the last chance the Sidewinders have to make a run at the division title. They've been languishing around the .500 mark all season. In the good old days, the Pacific Coast League had split seasons, so even if a team stumbled out of the gates in April, they could get a fresh start in mid-season and have a shot at the playoffs. It kept things interesting and was a good idea, so naturally Baseball got rid of it.

Las Vegas is the AAA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who unceremoniously dropped Albuquerque after about 50 years. The Las Vegas team used to be known as the Stars, but is now the 51s, in honor of Area 51, the top-secret military installation that may or may not exist. Actually, it does exist, but probably doesn't hold the remains of the space aliens who crash-landed in Roswell, N.M., back in the '40s.

The latter was depicted in Independence Day, which is far and away the worst movie ever to crack the $300 million barrier. They've been showing it on FX about three times a day for the past several weeks and it really is a stinker of a movie. Besides, I don't think the aliens were coming to plunder Earth's natural resources. I think they were coming to put an end to Judd Hirsch's over-acting, once and for all.

Even if they do belong to the Dodgers and hold a huge lead over the Sidewinders, you have to admit that 51s is a cool name for a team. We should have more of that sort of thing. If we had a league consisting of Arizona towns, we could have the Nogales Fence-Jumpers, the Marana Land-Grabbers and the Yuma Melanomas (that last one just rolls right off the tongue). They could all come to Tucson for the big tournament, take I-10 to the Ajo Way exit and play at Bad Political Deal Park.

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