Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And next week, Congress can investigate Mystery Meat in School Cafeterias

Having graduated high school in June of 1987, it’s been awhile since I took any U.S. history or Civics/Government classes. Ergo, I decided I’d use the ever-popular Wikipedia to refresh my addled memory on just what the actual duties of Congress are. Please bear with me.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; and borrow money on the credit of the United States
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; to provide and maintain a Navy; to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Okay, that said, I saw nowhere in there where it said Congress shall regulate and investigate steroid use in baseball, or any other sport. But here we are, in the sixth year of a war that has actually gone on longer than our official involvement in World War Two, oil prices are a hundred bucks a barrel, milk is over five bucks a gallon in some places, the economy is stalled, the housing market is circling the drain, illegal immigrants are pouring in across our borders and getting free health care and college tuition on our dime, and the latest Gallup Poll from last week ( shows that Congress has an abysmal 23% approval rating, yet here we are with Congress wasting taxpayer money and time better spent on real Congressional duties, to grill baseball commissioner Bud Selig and various key players about whether or not they were juiced with ‘roids or Human Growth Hormone. And lest we forget, the Justice Department is now involved too, with their own Baseball Inquisition to see who committed perjury when Congress first stuck its nose into baseball and sent former Senator George Mitchell of Maine to dig up all that was transpiring on the Field of Dreams.

Look, we all know that steroids are bad. We know that HGH use is sketchy behavior. One report said that over 25 pro wrestlers’ deaths were steroid-related (and Congress wants to talk to them, too), several deaths among NFL players and former players (namely Lyle Alzado) were steroid-related, and recently the death of 27-year old Jesse Marunde has cast a speculative eye upon the World’s Strongest Man competitions. Young, impressionable student athletes have succumbed to the temptation of steroid use and many have paid with their lives. While this is tragic and a terrible waste, I just don’t se it as the New Scourge of the Millennium worthy of Congressional witch-hunts.

Let the sports police themselves. Let Bud Selig keep his own sandbox clean; the same with Roger Goodell of the NFL. Let Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment watch over his own employees (though that dude looks just as ‘roided up as his alleged wrestlers). Coaches, watch your players and look for warning signs. If you’re suddenly getting premium performances out of a guy who was lackluster before and he/she isn’t spending any more time in the weight room or on the practice field, dig a bit deeper instead of just cashing your paycheck and smiling in the post-game interviews. Parents, be more proactive in knowing just what the hell your kids are doing. Yeah, they get a bit bigger during puberty but if your kid starts looking like he could lift the family car out of a ditch by himself then maybe you should check into why your previously skinny kid looks like the Missing Link now. And kids, stop looking at overpaid athletes (and rock stars and actors) as role models. You want decent role models, look at teachers, soldiers, cops, and firemen.

Congress ostensibly has more important things to worry about. However, rather than work on the problems facing America, it’s more convenient to be seen on TV “doing the right thing” about steroid use in sports. Those little sound bytes on CNN keep your concerned face in the headlines while supposedly cleaning up sports for America’s young people to have their role models Steroid Free. You get to look like heroes and you look as if you’re Doing Something. You want something to do? Try finishing that Border Fence to keep illegals out. Try turning more responsibility over to Iraq so our troops can complete this grand & glorious mission of Nation Building you’ve set them out upon. Try opening the oil fields for drilling so we can stop relying on foreign oil. Try really doing something instead of furthering your own public images by pretending to clean up sports.

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