Inside the Capitol

Saturday, April 16, 2005

4-25 W's Fast Pitch

SANTA FE � There are several important issues on which President George W. Bush and I do not agree. But on one minor issue, I am a big fan of the president�s.
He surely throws out a good first pitch at baseball games. On opening day, 2001, W�s first as president, he burned one right down the middle. Other national leaders seldom come across as strongmen, bouncing the ball up to the plate. Sometimes it�s even rolling by the time it gets there.
This year, for the first home game of the new Washington Nationals, President Bush did not throw a strike. This one was high and inside � or it would have been had a right-handed batter have been at the plate. Maybe the president was fantasizing that it was one of his Democratic detractors � or maybe a Republican detractor.
Or maybe presidential advisers suggested he throw some high, hard �chin music� to further enhance his macho image and send a message to evildoers everywhere that they�d better not mess with the U.S. Whatever it was, I was impressed. But then I�m at an impressionable age.
It�s good to see baseball back in Washington. It�s a great sports town, but it can�t seem to keep a baseball team. Maybe the third time will be a charm. They even wear a W on their caps, so the president is bound to be a big fan.
But members of Congress had better not get so smitten by the team that they neglect to keep the pressure on the steroid situation.
Don�t get the impression that I�m anti-Bush. He�s done some things I like. Just not enough to have ever voted for him. And relax, I didn�t vote for the Democrats either. In 2000, I voted Libertarian. In 2004, I was part of the great �undercount.� Maybe I wasn�t doing my civic duty, but �none of the above� was the only choice that appealed.
I like Bush�s accommodating position on the immigration situation. People who are willing to risk their lives to come work hard for whatever they can make have my respect. And as I understand it from the demographers, immigration may become a blessing.
Evidently the world�s developed countries are all on the road to population decrease because of declining birth rates. That means there soon will be too few workers to support Social Security and Medicare for all us old folks.
The United States seems to be in less of a bind than other countries because we have more immigrants than the nations that want to retain their ethnic purity. And illegal immigrants don�t get to collect Social Security even though they�ve paid into it.
I can�t agree with the president, however on this �culture of life� thing. It seems to me as though if it is a culture, it has to extend to all life, including the lives of convicted criminals and people against whom we declare wars.
A culture of life doesn�t seem as though it should have room for those who find exceptions. Wasn�t that what the Pope was saying? I wrestle with it personally. My biggest problem is that when I no longer know who I am or why, I want someone to end it for me.
Speaking of the Pope, Gov. Bill Richardson took quite a bit of heat for giving state employees a half-day off for his funeral. The 1st and 14th amendments were raised as objections.
Others said it was a waste of taxpayer money, especially when some local governments followed suit. Some noted the funeral was at 2 a.m., when few state employees were at work. And people at the Santa Fe golf courses complained about how crowded they were.
Finally, the state Game and Fish Department wants to have elk hunts with paintballs to discourage them from grazing in pastures with cattle.
It�s hard to imagine an elk being anything more than mildly annoyed by such silliness. But wouldn�t you know? There�s a law against harassing wildlife.



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