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Society on Steroids: A Bill Moyers Essay

There's been talk all this week about that stunning report from former Senator George Mitchell revealing that Major League Baseball players, including some of the sport's biggest stars, have been using steroids for years. The findings prompted my fellow journalist and friend Dick Starkey to recall an important insight into America by the eminent social critic, Jacques Barzun. A Frenchman by birth, now 100 years old and living in Texas, Barzun, like his illustrious ancestor Alexis de Toqueville, has been a canny interpreter of the American character. "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America," he once wrote, "had better learn baseball."
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All American

So what do we learn about ourselves from the Mitchell Report? That something is flowing through our veins other than red corpuscles. It turns out owners, players and the players' union were complicit in ignoring the growing use of steroids and other illegal drugs in our national pastime. But suppose our national pasttime has become our national pathology? Ours is a society on steroids, and we're as blind as baseball's owners were a decade ago.

In our drugged state, we cheer the winners in the game of wealth, the billionaires who benefit from a skewed financial system -- the losers, we kick down the stairs. We open fire hoses of cash into our political system in the name of "free speech." Television stations that refuse to cover government make fortunes selling political bromides over public airwaves. Pornography passing as advertising assaults our senses, seduces our children, and pollutes our culture. Partisan propaganda gets pumped up as news. We feed on the flamboyance of celebrities. And we actually take seriously the Elmer Gantrys who use the Christian Gospel as a guidebook to an Iowa caucus or a battle plan for the Middle East. In the face of a scandalous health care system, failing schools, and a fraudulent endless war, we are as docile as tattered scarecrows in a field of rotten tomatoes.

As for that war, you may have heard that a quarter of the heavily-armed ‘shooters' working in the streets of Baghdad for the Administration's mercenary Blackwater foreign legion are alleged to be chemically influenced by steroids or other mind-altering substances.

The other day, before Mitchell issued his report, the former pitcher Jim Bouton was holding forth on the importance of a level playing field in the sport at which he had long excelled. Were he playing today, Bouton said, he wouldn't want to lose his livelihood because his competitors had an unfair advantage.

You don't get a level playing field with performance enhancing drugs, any more than you get an honest government with political action committees and bundled contributions, or a fair economy with some derivatives, hedge funds, and private equity managers taxed at rates lower than their janitors. You get a level playing field only when the fans demand it. Suppose people stopped attending games in large numbers, stopped watching on TV, stopped buying the products hyped by the icons. The leveling would happen, or baseball as a money-making business would die. It's not likely to happen. If we can't organize to stop a brutal, bloody war in Iraq, or rectify an economic system that divides us further every day, we can hardly expect collective action from baseball fans.

There was a lesson in George Mitchell's report that I'm not sure even he recognized. The day Americans don't feel strongly enough about the need for level playing fields to fight for them -- the day when cutting corners and seeking an edge become the national pastime -- is the day democracy will be lucky even to find a seat in the bleachers.


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Dear Mr. Moyer:
I watched your interview Society on Steroids: A Bill Moyers Essay posted on the below web site on December 21, 2007: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/12212007/profile4.html

I was increasing inspired and perturbed as I read the article noted above. The comparison you made between baseball and society in the United States is quite reasonable. As a young college student, I try to be optimistic about what the future will hold for the United States but day by day it seems more and more grim.
It seems heartbreaking that the people and government in the United States have become so infatuated with celebrity lives, wealth, and power that we turn our back to the importance of ending this “bloody” horrible war, the poor, the education system and all the other issues that Americans are facing that never seem to be addressed.
Just yesterday I received an e-mail from the closest major league baseball team, in relation to my home, urging me to be the first to buy tickets to the home games this season. As I think back on the e-mail, I wonder how many ticket buyers will make a purchase, view the game, and continue to turn a blind eye to the corruption that is brewing on the field as well as in the league. It is, in fact, a perfect metaphor for America as a whole; we view the entertainment and ignore the altered form.
I was, though, inspired by your essay because I feel as if I may have become like most other citizens. I feel like I have turned a blind eye as well. Sometimes in our busy lives, I believe that we lose sight of what is important.
Thank you for helping my eyes come back into focus. I continue to appreciate your honest and knowledgeable opinions on issues that should be more frequently touched upon by larger media outlets.

In today's "juiced-up and crazy-on-ideological steroids" mashed media world I see but a small handful of investigative reporters and social commentators who are courageously fighting the good fight for integrity in that now "beyond Orwellian" mudfight for the almighty dollar. Of course Mr. Moyers you are now the dean of this brother/sisterhood which is sadly disappearing from view on the so called "public airwaves". In my opinion, the reigning champion, the standard bearer in many ways, for this truly patriotic and tragically underexposed mission of truth searching and sharing as we trod down the path of the 21st Century in America surrounded by millions of media consumers blindfolded by the "Stars & Stripes" wrapped tightly around their heads and knotted in the back by shellacked dollarbills and credit card statements is Amy Goodman and her current vehicle for passing on the truth unhibited by fear of retribution or the temptation of personal fame and material wealth, "Democracy Now". I am not sure whether she has already been a guest conversationalist on your "Moyers Journal", but I think not as I rarely have missed an installment. I sincerely hope she is high on your list as a future guest and if so, for the two of you to engage in honest discourse on the malignant malaise creeping along the central nervous system of mass and public media for the entire hour of the show. Her impassioned and dedicated pursuit of the truth behind the cacaphony of misinformation we are bombared with all day long at every media turn in the road is ALWAYS months ahead of the pack (maybe there are internet sites that a still embryonic net surfer like myself has not yet discovered, and I have learned of many through her broadcasts). Mr. Moyers, you and Amy Goodman are two of my very favorite Americans, on a list that includes Howard Zinn, Studs Terkel, the recently passed Al "Grandpa" Lewis, John Hope Franklin, and some others. Dennis Kucinich woiuld be MY VOTE for President if this testosterone overdosed , corporately controlled media machine did not insist on bullying him off the ballots and thereby denying my right to vote for my choice of all those declaring themselves as serious candidates. Thank you for continuing to stimulate my neurotransmitters to retake charge of my synaptic spaces that at times are "thorazined out" by the din of this daily onslaught of media corruption.

The essay about steroids in baseball was another one of Bill Moyers' stellar works. Not so much for the fact that it dealt with baseball (for me) but rather, the fact that it referenced a deeper and more sinister theme: cheating's new rein superior in the American psyche. I see it all the time in middle America - where I live. Among rather ordinary middle class people. It is a rot, a corrosion, a cancer. The people are sick, and in a serious way. Thank you for showing the light on the scourge, Mr. Moyers.

Can someone please explain to me why it is the Federal Government's job to worry about steroids in the MLB?

Great thinking, as usual, Bill. Now to get such rationale into the brains of the masses ... What people don't realize is that it isn't just about the top flight athletes on steroids, its the actions of a society that spurs them on, and worse--

just had a newly collage grad family member run off with a "cage fighter" from Aussie land (here in the US!)who's making his own fame, no less, yet truly believes he is a "World Champion" and sadly so does the little wife now--many years his junior. The mindset is shocking.

Until Americans grow up this will continue. Something happened to the synapses in the central nervous system of our youth starting about 35 years ago, and since...many are just not able to make good judgements. The only "cure" is to make everyone responsible for their actions, not applaud them.

As someone who's never given a hoot about baseball -- or any team sport -- it's always been immaterial to me whether athletes take drugs or not and, on the level of professional specialization, it seems understandable. A certain freakishness comes with the territory, either genetically (e.g., the extreme height of basketball players) or practice (e.g., the unbalanced muscular development of soccer players).

Similarly, fashion models are not only programmed to be tall, with small heads, but are also skinny by nature or, often with the aid of drugs, starving themselves.

Nobody is required to participate in either discipline, so it really doesn't bother me what they do or don't do.

By contrast, we're all embroiled in the larger political/economic/ethical issues you raise and, while I agree with everything you say about these, I'm not sure it's fair to compare a rigged system that victimizes almost everyone with narrow areas of endeavor that needn't occupy our attention unless by choice.

Viva BILL, Bravo Bill!
Bravo LINDA for the urgency of your concerns: We are truly on the verge of a police state. Bravo ANDREA for your reasoning and hope that culminate in support for Quixote-candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich. B. Smith (2nd poster) asks for direction in "what we can do." Clearly none of these three posters, nor Dennis Kucinich, are on steroids, as evidenced by their ability to anticipate undesirable outcomes and by their recognition of a common cause through empathy. I suggest we follow Woodie Guthrie's advice to ORGANIZE independently. Subversive (to corporate steroid mentality) little groups (book clubs, folk schools, committees of correspondence) are just the thing to offer clarification and mutual support in our efforts to speak and act out. I was afraid to speak my mind in public until I got support from friends. My friends don't agree with everything I say or all the harmless things I do but they support my rights of expression. The goal is to seek justice (even in material realms) while getting beyond materialism.
Caring has not been lost: It's just repressed by greed and fear. If we can't make the current leaders back into ladies and gentlemen, let's recruit or make some worthy ladies and gentlemen who remember what sharing and caring are, to be our leaders. It took Jimmy Carter a lifetime but he is almost there. John Edwards is climbing the ladder, and Dennis Kucinich is very special. There are potential Gandhis out there, and many unnamed visionaries.
Say no to steroids, To HGH, and to any opportunity that gives an unfair advantage. At 55 I can swear to you your personal life will be fuller and more meaningful if you will say no and admit that all people deserve a chance.Remember this: Creation would have been destroyed long ago if the good did not always outnumber the bad in the end. We people with hearts always outnumber the fascists, especially now. beretco.op@gmail.com

Your comments about America on "steroids" are right on and is heart breaking to realize. My wife and I often look at each other when hearing the insanity and ask, how did this happen to America? Best wishes, Happy New Year and keep at it, we need you!

Dear fellow exasperated Bill Moyers Journal fans,

Please read and enjoy the following limericks inspired by the dangerous idiots in Washington:

There once was a man named George W. / Who said to the World: "Aww, **** you! / I do what I please / 'cause I'm the big cheese / and if you don't like it--boo hoo!

We've all heard of President Bush / Who, to the World is a pain in the tush / when he opens his mouth / logic goes south / and respect for the US goes--woosh!

There once was an ego-maniac named Cheney / who thought himself incredibly brainy / when schemes he would plot / he'd gesticulate alot / while standing in his underwear--how zany!

P.S. Mr. Moyers, please keep up the wonderful work--your efforts are sorely needed and greatly appreciated!

Your excerpt on "America on Steriods" is right-on!!Bill, you and your writers really did a great job outlining where we are and where we are headed in America.

I enjoy watching your show, you have interesting guest and wonderful commentary. Have you ever considered running for president? I would vote for you, but it must be one of the most undesirable jobs in the world.

Unfortunately, I don't think there is any one individual that can stop the way America is headed. Like the Roman empire or any of the regimes, they peak and then collapse.

America obviously sees themselves as the "chosen great ones". But through greed,arrogance,ignorance,sensationalism and debt, eventually, and I can't tell you when, hopefully not in my lifetime, America will become a third world nation and some other country will rise to the top. We would hope that people learn from other people's experiences and mistakes, but it looks like we wont.

Like everything, life runs on cycles; we just never know the high or the low!

And the president before that left us so week as to get a "bully" elected twice, hell I'd blame "endarkenment" on him too, Slick Willy. If the leader of the free world doesn't have to follow the rule of law why should anyone follow some menial rules of usage, spelling and diction?

It didn't take long after entering the workforce to realize the values instilled in me by my parents--honesty, truthfulness, integrity, generosity, empathy--were clearly not the values that would get me by in corporate America. The cruel joke that far too many of us have to face is that our hard-working parents are schmucks in the fiercely competitive marketplace.

Any society that has to make its living in an amoral, dehumanized corporate culture--where money is everything and winning is everything--can't be expected to play fair in any game, nor can it expect to hold onto any of its loving, humanistic values for very long.

So I have to disagree with Barzun. Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better take a long, hard look at their president.

Hello Bill, Right after this concise little dialog, I went to the pet store and purchased a nice dog collar that lights up. Your perception, as is mine , leads me to believe that I have allowed myself to be led around like a dog, as it appears everybody in the nation has. So, I am wearing this dog collar, so that everytime I hear something that I feel is in keeping with the spirit of our feelings, I flip on the lights and rant for a little while until I feel like I am at least a little bit of the solution, rather than totally of the problem. PS, I put this John Lienhard piece about me so that you would at least know I'm as crazy as I sound. Best to you and thanks for keeping an avenue open to reason. Best, Wayne Gilbert.
http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi2306.htm

Sorry broken link on analysis of our healthcare system and how broken it is. For a layperson level description of the law link to http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/12/23/111435/41/334/425807

Your editorial Friday evening connecting Americans' tolerance of steroid use among athletes with the general and overall decline in our culture and government was so accurate. I am one of those baby boomers who turned inward in June of 1968, content to only decry the lack of real leaders in the US, involved only in women's issues, and surfacing in 1992 only to help Lynn Yeakel run against Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Meanwhile, we Americans were slipping ever further away from personal responsibility in all aspects of our lives, and the results of such behavior are all too evident in this century. Things have gotten so bad the past several years, however, that I have been shocked into more active participation. I write regularly to my Congressional representatives, even to Bush and Cheney, raise issues in conversation with friends, gotten Newsweek subscriptions for my nieces and nephews, and work in political campaigns, but these efforts are too little and too futile when compared to the seriousness of the war and the environmental, political, economic and Constitutional issues we face. What more can be done? Should we form consciousness-raising groups, like women did in the late 1960's and early 70's, to teach ourselves history so we can understand what is really happening, and to encourage ourselves to actually step forward to take actions which will fix all our very ailing systems?

Please see my blog on the broken mess that is our health insurance system and vote on which leading Democratic candidate you think is in the best position to fix it. It's got the level of legal detail required to fully understand the problem.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/12/23/111435/41

I don't think 'endarkenment' is a real word.

An excellent essay from the esteemed Mr. Moyers. Baseball is indeed a barometer for things American, and this essay confirms how dire the deviations of the sport have been. Do we watch the sport or are we watching the juice? The sense that the game must be played fair is a casualty of the struggle to win at all costs, and this ethical erosion rots the roots of America. As we watch, the roaring crowd rewarding the use of performance enhancing drugs, our heros sparkle and fizz out like shooting stars. They were expendable. For a time steroids had grace for their biomedical promise, before they became the symbol of shattered illusions and excess. The American steroid researcher Bert W. O'Malley, and his teams at the Baylor College of Medicine, must be deeply frustrated with the tragic waste and scientific endarkenment provided by BALCO. There was an announcement by HBO that the book about players who were customers of BALCO, 'Game of Shadows,' will be made into a Hollywood movie. The psychoactive properties of steroids are not a big secret. Clinical depression is often accompanied by disruption of natural levels of neurosteroids. The trigger-happy U.S. mercenaries who have the run of Bagdad hopped-up on steroids and worse are the flip side of experimental research that a closely supervised therapeutic bump of steroids is sufficiently potent to unwind a severe case of PTSD. America has drifted in ugly directions, and I agree with Mr. Moyers sobering assessment of the situation.

Bill, now you're talking like the Bill I knew years ago, with some hard, in-your-face truth to try to shake the American public out of their complacency. We need more of this..and it can only come from people like you in this vital position. I'd love to be in your shoes! Your comments are hard-hitting, but in my estimation, things are much worse that you even offer to we peons in the middle class. Friends have been losing their jobs, losing their homes and the idiots in Washington are dealing in nothingness. WE in the U.S. need a governmental shakeup tantamount to the Glastnost in Russia. And I really appreciate the two men you had on your program this past Friday night, especially with the comments from one who said our small towns have become "ghost towns" thanks to Walmart, Home Depot,etal, and the second guest who suggests that we revise the Constitution. The ACLU must be taken to task for their myopic positions on the absolute power of the press, for one, especially in view of the escalating teen suicides and the school shootings that continue. Who can tell me that these incidents have nothing to do with the junk violent videos, the movies and inline pornography these kids are being bombarded with, under the legal protection of the ACLU.

As a Canadian student who studied in the US college and university system for a number of years, the drive and motivations of Americans made no sense to me as they appear to contradict what they claimed to be their core beliefs. Then someone pulled me aside and said (to paraphrase);
"what you need to understand is that in the US 'rules' are just a challenge.
"we win by breaking and bending rules not by following them.

Strangely, this game of challenge doesn't take into account consequence felt by those who suffer from them. That was justified as well by the comment that always starts with "well they should have__________ then"


Thank you, Bill Moyers, for your thought-provoking program -- as always, as ever.

Note to Linda: Be patient. "An hour or so" is not NEARLY long enough to be irritated about. I'd bet your previous experience was just a matter of coincidental timing, that the first message showed up when it was going to show up and your followup had nothing to do with it.

Thank you, Bill Moyers, for your thought-provoking program -- as always, as ever.

Note to Linda: Be patient. "An hour or so" is not NEARLY long enough to be irritated about. I'd bet your previous experience was just a matter of coincidental timing, that the first message showed up when it was going to show up and your followup had nothing to do with it.

You neglected to post my comment that I left here about an hour or so ago. This is the second time this has happened. When it happened the last time, I left a second message similar to this one, inquiring into what happened, and then my message was posted. So ... where's my message?

You don't need to post this message, but I definitely want that last one in here, as it's substantive.

Thanks.

Great essay, Mr. Moyers! You tied together beautifully the steroids-in-baseball scandal with America's lack of attention to our government and our fueled-by-TV obsession with consumerism.

Here's a multiple issue (only not really) tie-together I would love to see you and your staff sink your teeth into: (a) HR1955/S1959 (The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act of 2007), (b) KBR's direct and indirect influence/control over this piece of legislation, (c) the already completed construction by Halliburton of over 800 detention camps throughout the U.S., capable of housing 20,000 prisoners each, to be operated by FEMA to detain U.S. citizens deemed to be "enemy combatants" or "news informers," (d) the growth of the "global stabilization professionals" industry (inc. Blackwater) within our borders, and (e) the undoing of our Constitutional rights by the Bush/Cheney administration.

A New Constitutional Declaration of Equality

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect or equal union, establish equitable justice, insure domestic as well as universal tranquility, provide for a common defense against inequity, promote a general equitable welfare system, and secure the Blessings of Liberty, or more simply the true Freedoms of Equality, to ourselves, our posterity, to all things, must declare and practice a new constitution, based on the ultimate truth, the truth and powers of Nature’s equality, the separate and equal station in which Nature’s God entitles all, the self-evident truth that not only all men, but equally all things are truly created equal, that all is truly One. Then and only then, will mankind as well as the entire universe, that he through the course of human events so unlawfully, so unnaturally, so destructively, so unjustly and so terribly and inequitably divided, be truly united, and equally set free. The time has come to dissolve the bands of inequity that divide us, the time has come for a new declaration, a revolution based on truth, a new constitution powered by nature’s true equity, true unity, true oneness, the time has come to unite all things and set the universe free.

And only the truth shall set us free.

=
MJA

Great essay, Mr. Moyers. I am reminded of the words of Reinhold Niebuhr: "The preservation of a democratic civilization requires the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. The children of light must be armed with the wisdom of the children of darkness but remain free from their malice. They must know the power of self-interest in human society without giving it moral justificatin. They must have this wisdom in order that they may beguile, deflect, harness and restrain self-interest, individual and collective, for the sake of the community."

Bill Moyers is one of the shining lights of journalism. But on this one point of steroids in baseball he has fallen to the "common wisdom" which in this country is almost always wrong and fabricated by the media. Believe what you will. Caveat emptor.

Baseball is a great game. I appreciate it more and more as I grow older. But my hero of the 50' and 60's was Mickey Mantle. Mantle rarely took to the field without first being shot up with steroids in his knees -- corticosteroids.

What is a performance enhancing drug? Corticosteroids (cortisone), Lidocaine, Novocaine, Butazolidin?

No great ballplayer is great simply because he may have taken some HGH or anabolic steroid. It all promotes healing and repair. It may extend the professional life of a great athlete. A legendary hitter is all about memory, timing and vision. All great quarterbacks have vision. It's not the arm.

Do you know how rampant this is in football? Do you care? How rampant in Hockey? Do you care?

Baseball is a great game. But is was full of racist bigots for the first half of the 20th century -- like Ty Cobb and so many more.

Purity of the game? Fiberglassed pole vaulters, over-sized carbonized tennis racquets, flexible composite golf clubs, frictionless bicycles, professional athletes in the Olympics, football coaches with headphones.

Purity of the game is a myth.

Short relievers, middle relievers, closers. Pitch counts? Whatever happened to pitching the entire game like Don Larson?

Purity of the game is a myth.

There is only one tradition that would surely destroy the purity of baseball -- doing away with signals. Only baseball has that. It's the thrill of the world series.

I made a copy of this and posted it on my office door at the university. As a university professor I have a web site: http://www.YourRadio.US Hope your viewers find it informative. Thanks for what you do.

Yes, Bill. Thanks for saying what we all need to hear. As a community college teacher, I have a forum to share such radical ideas. This twenty minute video is Econ 101 for us all: http://storyofstuff.com. This great video gives image to "society on steroids" in language that we all can understand--even 6th graders.

Every action has consequences. We need to see the whole picture. Thanks!

Fantastic Essay

To all who are confused about which candidate stands for what go to http://dennis4president.com and take the test (there really is a test) to see how they agree with your issues. Very enlightening. You might be surprised at what they stand for. And don't be fooled about any who say they won't be "another corporate president" because they all are, except for Kucinich! He DOES NOT take money from corporations for his campaign. The reason you don't hear much about Kucinich is because he doesn't have millions, from corporations, to run ads. Pay attention, fellow citizens, while we may still have time!

If the next president doesn't draw on Bill Moyers' wisdom, experience, common sense, (s)he is missing a prime natural resource.
Bill, uh, Mr. Moyers, your program is my #1 TV priority and I wish it were for everyone I know. True, Melba, much of it is hindsight, but the insight can be translated into (more than re-)action. I'd like to see more time devoted to outside- the- box creativity on what all of us can do, pro-actively, to TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK!
For instance, I think the pay of members of Congress should be based on their productivity in really serving We The People instead of Them The Fatcats.. Congress won't pass THAT legislation, so how about we find a way to use the Judicial Branch to make the Executive and Legislative Branches truly accountable.
Isn't that what it's all about? Accountability?

Excellent essay Bill! I just watched your commentary on PBS here in Seattle, and your words have further galvanized my resolve to take action to restore democracy to our country while rousting my sleepwalking compatriots. Your baseball comparison is one I can use in my efforts to help enlighten others.

Right on! I've watched our society fall from the world's most admired and respected to a seeming majority of lazy narcissistic drugged air-heads,despised by other nations. Is "God help us; nobody else can" widespread enough to save us from total doom? Our future looks dim to my generation without a big and fast turn-around.

The presentation aired on 12-21-07 should be shown to every 6th grade kid for the next 10 years. They should be able to see and discuss the parallel theme of gimme, gimme, gimme, in the two ideas brought forth by the two guests and Mr. Moyer's essay. However, most of the material is hindsight, all of these "problems of our society" have been forecast by an endless number of nationalists and preachers. When are you people that get paid to talk about and think about and proclaim as original going to do something with all this insight? All I ask is; where is eminent domain when it comes to nuclear power?

If you have comcast cable TV, there is a documentary now playing on movies on demand that everyone should watch "IRAQ FOR SALE: WAR PROFITEERS." If you want to understand how the web of those in power, behind the scenes on the hill work, former miltitary, intelligence and corporate people who influence where our tax dollars are going in the billions this program will outline it in detail. Billions are going to private corporations like Blackwater, Halliburton and many, many more. This documentary will show you how it really works. While our soldiers are sleeping in moldy tents, the private corporations are feeding truck drivers Caviar in 5 star hotels in Dubai and destroying billions of dollars of equipment because the more they spend they more money they get and that money is our tax dollars. We are paying for huge vigilante mercenary armies that are above the law. These companies do not answer to anyone and this is why congress has become completely impotent and continues to give billions upon billions of our tax dollars and will contine to do this until they have bankrupt our nation. Their only agenda are profits at any cost. Human life, our society, everything means nothing to these people. You might call them Capitalist sociopaths. In fact they thrive on war. Endless war = endless profits at our expense. Everyone needs to understand that if we vote for a person who is backed by corporations, this agenda will continue and this is why Edwards, who has spent his entire career fighting corporations will have what it takes. He may be rich but so are all of the others. The diffence is that even though he is running a very close race in Iowa, he has been ignored by the media. It's about time we say no to another corporate president. We have got to get someone in power who will take on the enormous web of power and influence that is sucking our economy dry. We should call our representatives and tell them that we will look for others to take their place if they don't do more. All of our futures and our children's futures are at stake.

Barzun's truncated sentence on baseball goes on to include "the rules and realities of the game," making it an even more uncomfortable fit this week.

Anyone who returns to the original work, God's Country and Mine (1954), will find Barzun using baseball as an example of "reverberation" -- a test of true entertainment -- while exploring his theme, "the heart and mind of America."

Mr. Moyers decries "Pornography passing as advertising . . ." -- another trend Barzun noted over fifty years ago: "the entire American population is continuously breastfed through the eyes . . ."

Intrepid readers will discover Barzun's reflections on true passion in the book's last part, "Winter, or Loving."

Can we do nothing but see and write, no matter how eloquently, about our demise as a society? Bill, you are dead on -- but what can we do, beyond write, vote, and generally try to live the life we wish for others. Are there no leaders in our society genuinely capable of defining the sacrifices needed of our culture to turn this mess around?

Great post - thanks for the enlightening parallel.

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