Thursday, April 3, 2014


Our windup in the last throes of a cross-country trip had a mendacious follow-through in Oakland yesterday, when we attended the A's first midweek day game (the only way to see baseball, kiddies: ditch your home schooling already).

But we were just as dismayed as the kids when we saw the metal detectors set up by the A's "guest services" staff. What followed was a hapless daily double of needless fear-mongering and the type of poor fundamentals associated with the 1962 Mets.

As painful as it is to fly today (unless, of course, you're Buzzy the Fly, and you don't have to rely on the TSA for any part of your traveling...), at least the working-class folk who populate the biggest new government bureaucracy in half a century have figured out how to do their job. From what we could tell, the "guest services" staff have barely been trained: it's like they gave them a fifteen-minute slide show and said, "OK, go get 'em! Stop those tail-gating terrorists with the exploding Subway™ sandwiches!"

The result was pathetic. Not enough containers were provided for people to deposit all the innocuous stuff that would set off what were clearly Wal-Mart™-issued metal detectors (you know, the one that your red, right and blue Uncle Frank installed when he forgot where he'd dug his bomb shelter). Bag checks, which had been standard procedure and handled with reasonable efficiency at the Oakland Boneyard® in the past, were now a clumsy, chaotic afterthought.

While the poor folk who are forced to implement this fear-mongering overreaction to last year's incident at the Boston Marathon will probably improve their "bedside manner" in short order, there's a more fundamental issue at hand here. It has to do with the definition of a key phrase in the Declaration of Independence: "the pursuit of happiness." This somewhat nebulous concept needs to be sharpened and codified in the twenty-first century--preferably not in the hands of Antonin Scalia.

Americans have been all-too-willing to allow its own government to encroach upon the pursuit of happiness in the name of fear-mongering ever since the unleashing of the mad dogs of the House Unamerican Activities Commission in the late 40s. The slippery slope of what venues need Draconian "safety" measures has been greased like a stuck pig in the aftermath of 9/11. Where is it going to end? After the sporting stadia, what next?

99.99% of the problems that occur in major league ballparks have to do with lax practices about selling alcohol. As we watched A's lefty Scott Kazmir mow down his former Cleveland teammates yesterday afternoon from our accustomed spot in the center-field bleachers (the best place to enjoy the beauty of the Boneyard®...), we watched a string of folk bringing a copious supply of beer in plastic cups back to their seats. Several of these folk were feeling no pain, and the A's were still serving beer in the eighth inning.

The pursuit of happiness has now become as fragile as it is nebulous. We need to pay a lot more attention to just what that dictum means for America before we find out that most or all of that "inalienable right" has been sold down the river.