May daze

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Gee, I’m glad they got that new powerful weather doppler at Channel 10 just in time to hype a nor’easter that masqueraded as just another rainy day in May. And now with Amy Freeze (could I make this up?) joining Hurricane Schwartz, maybe they could use some blues by Ma Rainey to introduce them.

Meanwhile, May has been one of the most dismal months on record.

May was the month we learned that Bill Bennett may be coming to a casino in your town soon. Conservatives and liberals are tripping over themselves in the editorial pages of America’s newspapers to either defend Bennett or attack him as a hypocrite, or attack each other as hypocrites. Bennett has often found many signs of decay in what passes for culture in America today, but always omitted gambling as one of them.

See, if I ever write a book of virtues, I plan on leaving out lust and eating too much ice cream, so no one can ever call me a hypocrite. I agree with those who say Bennett’s gambling habits should be his own business. I hope we get riverboat gambling on our waterfront so Bennett can drop a million or two in our casinos.

My problem with Bennett is that he heads an organization that is against gambling. That would be like me belonging to a group devoted to stamping out chocolate-chip ice cream. Also, Bennett claims that in gambling about $8 million in recent years, he has broken even. Given the profitability of the gambling industry, I find that a statistical impossibility. In other words, there’s a good chance Bill Bennett is a liar and, last time I looked, lying is not one of the virtues …

Do all male golfers live with their heads up their knickers? Do golf controversies always involve whom they can exclude? It’s become impossible for any self-respecting country club to exclude the various racial and ethnic minorities and get away with it.

But membership in a country club wouldn’t mean anything if they couldn’t discriminate against someone. Thank God women are still around. If you let them join, give them a smaller locker room or a lousy tee time. Maybe if you’re Augusta, you don’t have to let them in at all.

Now the Augusta flap was bad enough, but here comes a female golfer, who happens to be among the best of her sex, and some sponsor gives her an exemption to play in one of golf’s hallowed tournaments (the kind where the commentators whisper and evoke the legendary past). Vijay Singh is angry and hopes she doesn’t make the cut. Howard Eskin is angry because "she just doesn’t belong."

Singh is a Fiji-born golf star and Eskin is a Jewish sports-talk host and golf junkie. Neither would have been allowed near a posh, private course in the old days. But welcome to the new era, when minorities can feel like WASPS and band together to call for discrimination against women …

Remember when the stalwarts in the Republican Party used to prattle about passing a balanced budget amendment that would force discipline on the Congress? Ah, nostalgia! That was before tax cutting became enshrined as religion in the Republican Party. Now the stalwarts’ only disagreement is how big to make the tax cut and, suddenly, deficits aren’t so bad anymore.

Intellectual integrity has flown out the window. When Bush was a candidate, he argued that cutting taxes during a surplus would reduce government revenue. Now as an official candidate for a second term, President Bush argues for a tax cut he says will increase government revenue. So which is it?

Since the last Bush tax cut, the deficit deepened and 1.7 million jobs were lost. But if tax cutting is an article of faith, you argue, well, it could’ve been worse. If you’re a baby boomer, chances are you’ll be around to figure out who was right …

April’s war is over. May was a month to celebrate our victory in Iraq. The president vanquished his political foes at home and his military foes abroad. And then, in the midst of the celebrating, the administration announced that it was time to retreat.

Oh, they didn’t call it a "retreat." The phrase was something like "phased withdrawal." By the time the first leaves of autumn fall, American forces will be reduced to 30,000 strong, down from 130,000. There will be no freedom in Iraq without an end to the lawlessness in the streets. We couldn’t stop the looting and chaos with 130,000; how will we help democratize Iraq with a fraction of that number?

We have become like a TV viewer with attention-deficit disorder, constantly flicking the remote control. By November, half of us won’t even be able to tell you why we went to Iraq, and the other half were against it anyway. Anybody remember Afghanistan?

Let’s hear it for May.