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2018年3月29日 星期四

RCP Morning Note, 03/29/2018: Cybersecurity, Part 2; 'Jungle' Concerns; Disability Backlog; Batter Up!


03/29/2018
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Carl Cannon's Morning Note

Cybersecurity, Part 2; 'Jungle' Concerns; Disability Backlog; Batter Up!

By Carl M. Cannon on Mar 29, 2018 08:57 am

Good morning, it's Thursday, March 29, opening day of Major League Baseball's 2018 season. Faithful readers of this morning missive know that although I follow other sports and occasionally write about football, basketball, golf, and horse racing, baseball is my first love.

Baseball executive and showman Bill Veeck once quipped that there are two seasons: "winter and baseball." I wouldn't go that far, but the March weather has been so dreadful in the East that many of us are thinking like Rogers Hornsby. "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball," the Hall of Famer put it. "I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."

I'll have some of my other favorite baseball quotes in a moment. First, I'd point you to RealClearPolitics' front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion columns spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * *

Preparing for Warfare's Fifth Domain. In Part 2 of our cybersecurity series, RealClearDefense editor David Craig examines this foreign policy challenge facing the Trump administration.

Calif. "Jungle" Primary Presents Concerns for Both Parties. James Arkin explores the dynamics in the Golden State, where each primary race's top-two finishers advance to the general election -- with control of the U.S. House potentially in the balance.

Social Security Gets Funds to Cut Disability Backlog. Jim Allsup expresses hope that the allocation in the recent spending bill will shorten wait times for applicants from the current average of 20 months.

How to Save Social Security While Reducing the Deficit. In RealClearPolicy, Alexander Chaconas advises abandoning Social Security's "tax cap" as a way to keep the program solvent.

Working a Little Longer Pays Big Dividends for Retirees. Also in RCPolicy, Sita Slavov, John B. Shoven, Gila Bronshtein, and Jason Scott spotlight research showing how delaying Social Security benefits can significantly increase retirement income.

Disentangling Medicare's Two Functions. In RealClearHealth, James C. Capretta suggests how Congress might reform the program to control rising costs.

How Our Ivory Towers Flunked at Chinese Diplomacy. In RealClearInvestigations, Richard Bernstein explores American efforts to promote democracy in China by allowing hundreds of thousands of Chinese to study in the U.S.

Laws Don't Make America Great -- It's Freedom From Them. In RealClearMarkets, Gus Van Horn argues that excessive rules weaken a nation.

Why an Organic Food "Utopia" Would Be a Disaster. RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy lays out the costs of putting the world on an organic diet.

* * *

"I believe in the Church of Baseball," Annie Savoy says in the opening scene in "Bull Durham," Ron Shelton's enduring movie. "You see, there's no guilt in baseball, and it's never boring."

I'd add an "Amen!" to that, except that I attend a real church on Sundays (at least I'm supposed to), so the Church of Baseball is a stretch for me, especially during Holy Week. But one certainly can find spiritual meaning in secular settings.

While running for president in 2007, John McCain was asked during a debate whether he believed in evolution. "Yes, I believe in evolution," McCain replied. "But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also."

This reminded some listeners, including this writer, of a lovely passage in George Will's classic baseball book. "Baseball, it is said, is only a game," Will wrote. "True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal."

That's what a cancer-ravaged Babe Ruth was getting at in his brief and bittersweet farewell address as he lauded baseball as our true national pastime. And it's what Humphrey Bogart said in a commercial for Major League Baseball. "That's baseball, and it's my game," Bogie said. "You know, you take your worries to the game, and you leave 'em there. … A hot dog at the ballpark beats roast beef at the Ritz."

During the dregs of summer on a lousy team, chipper young Ernie Banks would buck up his teammates by reminding them that even though they may have been in last place they were being paid for doing something they loved. "It's a beautiful day for baseball," he'd say. "Let's play two today!" Although double-headers are largely a thing of the past -- modern owners wouldn't think of giving fans two games for the price of one -- Ernie Banks' mantra (shortened simply to "Let's play two!") survives. It outlived Banks himself, who recited it during his 1977 induction speech in Cooperstown.

Soon after the Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1979 World Series over the Baltimore Orioles, Pirates team leader Willie Stargell made an interesting observation about his sport. "When you watch kids play sandlot baseball, you see kids having fun -- and that's basically what I think we should be doing as ballplayers," he said. "They don't say, ‘Work ball!' They say, ‘Play ball!'"

This is not to say that the sport isn't difficult, even for the most talented ballplayers. Or that you don't have to nurture your skill -- work hard at the game -- to keep playing it at the highest level. It's difficult to play it well, which is what Dottie Hinson said straight up in "A League of Their Own," my other favorite baseball movie, as she prepared to leave the team.

"Baseball is what gets inside you," her manager Jimmy Dugan says. "It's what lights you up, you can't deny that."

"It just got too hard," Dottie responds.

"It's supposed to be hard," her skipper answers. "If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great."

This is baseball's great truism: Remember, with all due respect to Willie Stargell -- and Bryce Harper, who a few years ago started a saying, "Make Baseball Fun Again" -- George Will's baseball classic was titled "Men at Work."

What Banks and Stargell and Harper were all doing, however, was making a larger point, applicable to other sports and many other human endeavors as well. It applies to journalism, for sure. One of my mentors, a man who became one of my best friends, was a fair sandlot ballplayer and world-class newspaper reporter named Jon Standefer. A native Texan, Jon rooted for the Houston Astros in last year's World Series. I watched some postseason baseball with him, knowing, as did Jon and his family, that he wouldn't survive to see another baseball season.

He died a week before Christmas, and I miss him this spring. But when I think of him now, I remember mostly how he inspired people in our newsroom at the San Diego Union-Tribune. He wasn't always smiling like Ernie Banks, but he had a nice way of reminding people that they should be thankful for their blessings. When someone would start to kvetch -- or even if he was merely walking by your desk -- Jon would say, "Sure beats working for a living, don't it?"

That's how I felt about journalism too. It's how I feel still.

Play ball!

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)
ccannon@realclearpolitics.com

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