Good afternoon from sunny Las Vegas, where we’re hitting 80 degrees today and I’m currently having some In-N-Out burger. This is my third time eating here, and every time I’ve had my meal “Animal Style.” I hear there is some other secret recipe called “monkey style,” but I don’t know what that is and I’m not rolling up to order and asking for anything “monkey style” until I know what it is. The food is phenomenal though.
As I said, we’re getting a mini heat wave. It’s remarkable and I’m totally sitting out on the deck tonight, even if the dust is bothering my allergies. It’s too good not to. Especially after spending yesterday on laundry, setting up at my new gym, and work. Vegas was as much about nicer weather as anything else for me. I better enjoy it.
MLB blew itself up yesterday. Rob Manfred announced he’s going to start canceling games now, since there was no deal with the players by his arbitrary deadlines. If I understand this all right (I do), basically at the last CBA the owners stuck it to the players, then decided to contract the number of minor league affiliates to cut costs, then decided to lockout the players in December (a choice), wait 43 days to make their first proposal, and then wouldn’t budge on increasing player salaries at the major or minor league levels by very much, even when getting playoff expansion to 12 teams, the big pot of money they want. They wonder why the fans are distraught with them.
The owners want you to view this as millionaires vs. billionaires and simply throw your hands up in disgust. How they don’t want you to view this is that the overwhelming majority of professional ball players never reach free agency and get that big contract. They don’t even reach arbitration. Most see their careers end in the minor leagues, where they make below minimum wage. Even most players in the majors never complete three years of service time, where they reach salary arbitration, the first potential pay day. Sure, they were prepared to increase the rookie scale (first three year) minimum salary, and have a small bonus pool for successful players, but that increase wasn’t keeping up with growing profits, or inflation. Every team in the league starts every season off making at least $100 million between their local and national TV money, yet over a third of the league isn’t spending that much on salary. In the last pre-pandemic season, baseball continued a decade of increasing profits with an all-time record. The owners have done well and want to do even better. The offer on the table allowed them to do that. It just spread the wealth around. They chose to hurt their sport instead.
When you let trash in, your place stinks. The problem is that our political system is polluted with said garbage. Last night, Congresswomen Boebert and Taylor Greene decided to remind us again that they are human trash with their yelling and antics. Ignorance is not a virtue, civility is not a vice. These two idiots are not helpful for the Republican Party, at least not to somewhat human, normal people. They refuse to deal with them.
Although wildly outdone by the right’s freaks and ghouls, “The Squad” made sure to remind me why I dislike them with their post speech rebuttals of the President. Sure, President Biden openly called them out with his “fund the police” line, so they had every right to respond (even though he is 1,000% correct), but their responses were not helpful to moving anything forward. Calling for a further left, more progressive agenda, when the agenda President Biden has is stalled in Congress and underwater in polling is a complete waste of time. The stuff they are calling for isn’t going to happen, and isn’t going to make the Democratic Party more popular. They’re a bad look for Democrats to semi-normal human beings.
Let’s talk about Biden himself though, and the speech. Obviously there was a lot in the speech I could agree with, but I was a Biden delegate to the 2020 Democratic Convention and employed on his campaign. Biden excels to a degree in settings like last night, times where his likability contrasts clearly with his opponents (see above), and where his message can speak broadly to America on popular topics- like bringing down violent crime, supporting the Ukraine, and fighting cancer. For all of those reasons, I think he gave a good speech and he can probably expect somewhat good reviews. I just don’t have super high expectations in the end. This speech wasn’t an Obama or Clinton State of the Union. He’s just not that kind of orator. His talents are different than their’s were and probably benefit him differently. And frankly, he hasn’t had too many wins lately, which likely means less people paid close attention anyway. All in all, I give him a B. it was well done, but nothing historic.
My grand hope is that the Biden Administration can use all the bipartisan applause to pivot into some broadly popular legislative victories. My grand fear is that the folks who are in position in DC to do that have no clue how to. There are clearly opportunities on things like insulin prices, criminal Justice reform, and fighting cancer to pass stuff. As the economy continues reopening and begins to stabilize, inflation will fall back in line with supply and demand forces on it. If they can do popular things with real people, apply some mitigation to an actual overheated economy and slow inflation, and deliver a positive outcome on the global front in Eastern Europe, Joe Biden will recover politically, because he’s a likable and smart guy. I don’t doubt the President though, but I do doubt the forces around him. Time will tell.