Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, June 19, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 12

Mountain View News Saturday, June 19, 2021 12 OPINION Mountain View News Saturday, June 19, 2021 12 OPINION 




Susan Henderson 


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello 


John Aveny 



Stuart Tolchin 
Dinah Chong WatkinsAudrey SwansonMary Lou CaldwellKevin McGuire 
Chris Leclerc 
Bob Eklund 
Howard HaysPaul CarpenterKim Clymer-KelleyChristopher NyergesPeter Dills 
Rich Johnson 
Lori Ann Harris 
Rev. James SnyderKatie HopkinsDeanne Davis 
Despina ArouzmanJeff Brown 
Marc Garlett 
Keely TotenDan Golden 
Rebecca WrightHail Hamilton 
Joan Schmidt 

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As I drove home yesterday from the golf course, exhausted 

from walking alone on the course in the midst of hundred 

degree heat, I passed the field on Grandview, and observed 

many tiny children. They were standing in the field seemingly 

doing nothing but I realized that they were learning to play 

baseball. I am very confused at this time in my life about 

knowing what it is I am supposed to be doing to save the world, 

which definitely seems to need my help. Now that it seems 

almost safe to leave the house I find myself playing golf alone and still feeling that there 
is something important that I should be doing but I haven’t a clue what it is. 

As I passed the field watching the kids, seemingly doing nothing, it hit me. 
What a wonderful game baseball is or was. Standing around is the major element of 
the game. No special ability is needed and something called a “walk” when the batter 
does nothing but watch poorly thrown balls go by is an honorable achievement. How 
simple this was in complicated times when in school we had been instructed to hide 
under our desk as a part of drop drills which would allow us to be safe in case atomic 
bombs fell on us. 

This all sounds pretty scary and I must have found some safety in just sitting in 
front of the radio and playing with my baseball cards. These cards came in packs of five 
along with a piece of bubble gum. Early on I learned to read the players’ names and 
to look at their cards as I heard the names on the radio. I developed a great fascination 
with numbers and kind of remembering the current averages of players and figuring 
out for myself how their batting average would change depending on the outcome of 
the game. This may sound pretty strange but I was a pretty isolated kid and speculating 
about batting averages kind of reminds me of the way kids stay at home today and play 
video games. In fact it’s probably similar to the way adults spend hours looking at stock 
market quotes and speculate about the future. Too bad I never got interested in that. 

The game of baseball was composed of elements that were accessible to anyone 
with an imagination. I played a game by myself which I called three outs. It was 
composed of me standing alone and throwing the ball against the tenement (what 
ever happened to that word) steps and trying to catch the ball on the fly. If there was 
someone around to play with we would play catch, just throwing the ball back and 
forth. If there was a third person around we could play “pickle” or “running bases”. 
Two people would stand some distance apart at their respective “bases” and just throw 
a ball back and forth. The third person, the “runner” would stand on one base and 
daringly take off toward the other base while the ball was in the air or even perhaps 
return to his original base if the ball was dropped or thrown badly. This was the “pickle” 
I still miss those games and probably enjoyed them even more than golf. 

. Today, I find the game of baseball boring and filled with arcane 
technological calculations like spin velocity and altitude angle and other stuff that does 
not interest me. The way the game is played today with a high number of strikeouts 
and little strategy in base running (where are the pickles) is extremely annoying and 
non-involving. That is not the point. At one time baseball allowed me to feel included 
in the world and pretty certain that I was doing the right thing and that, no matter 
what, there would be another game tomorrow. Today I am not even certain that there 
are many tomorrows left. 

Please enjoy Father’s day while we still can. 







“Die-naaaah!” I was 2 airport concourses away but I could 
hear the primordial yell from my father as if he were right 

On a podcast the other day, national political reporter 
beside me. My knapsack smacked my hip as I ran from 

Thomas Edsall analyzed the mounting threat of Republi-
Concourse B to D. As I jogged a couple of hundred yards 

can authoritarianism and posed a great question: 
closer, I could see a clearly annoyed gate agent with my 

“Trump and the Republican party have created a real 
dad who held up the final boarding for me. My dad isn’t a 

dilemma for the me-dia… A party of sedition is trying to (enact) rules that 
big talker, no - he’s a loud talker. And being a teenager, this was the first time I 

even when it loses, it wins… We have a different animal in the ballgame now. 
ran towards his loudness rather than away from it. 

One side is domi-nated by a party that is willing to accept lies, that is delusional… 
a party that is on the verge of becoming something unseen in Amer-

It turned out years later when I went to “the motherland”, that it wasn’t only 

ica, beyond the point of no return…When you have a party that is moving in 

my dad, half the people there were loud talkers. Whole villages of loud talkers 

this ex-treme fashion, how do we in the media describe it?” 

proliferated in my ancestral country, I guess that’s what happens when you 

Easy answer: Describe reality. 

have wide-open spaces but no phones. 

The old days of both sides false-balance journalism, the old days of writ-ing 
My father is a first-generation immigrant, taking the slow boat to Canada when 

“on the one hand, on the other hand,” the old days when both parties honored 
he was 16. He met and married my mother there and they assimilated into the 

democracy by accepting the election results – those days are over. When one 
life of politely frozen Canucks. He took us skiing, skating, sledding, and looking 

party openly declares that it no longer believes in democ-racy, when indeed 
back, had a surprising period of musical experimentation, buying vinyls of Led 

it is working non-stop to destroy it, journalists can no longer take refuge in 
Zeppelin, the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, and the Tribal Rock Love musical “Hair” 

before returning comfortably to his first loves, Puccini and Verdi. 

Richard Tofel, founder of the investigative journalism website ProPublica, 
wrote recently that neutrality is an “attractive value” only “if you view pub-lic 

Somehow during “the times are a-changing” period of paisley prints, psyche-

life as an endless series of fights between two sides distinguishable most im

delics, and home perms, my dad stuck to skinny ties, scotch, and untreated 

portantly by the primary colors of their uniforms.” But all too often – and es-

hair. I couldn’t say the same for me, I twisted my hair in curling rods and let the 

pecially now – neutrality is merely “an appropriate pose for the uninformed.” 

ammonia-heavy chemicals fry it up. The result? A frightening cross between 

Any journalist who’s remotely informed about what’s going on in 2021 should 

Shirley Temple and the Bride of Frankenstein. 

be compelled to point it out in plain language. If arsonists are torching a 
house, and it’s burning in front of your eyes, you report it and identify the 
My dad is a connoisseur of wine, cigars, and slapstick. He took us to see Charlie 

arsonists. It’s not enough to say “Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell 
Chaplin’s City Lights and Mel Brooks’s Blazing Saddles. We saw Bill Cosby live 

hopes to win the chamber in 2022.” It’s factually accu-rate to simply say, “Sen-
and when my dad thought he was alone, listened to George Carlin’s “7 Words 

ate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, after vot-ing to exonerate a presi-
You Can’t Say on TV” in stereo. 

dent who inspired an anti-democratic coup at-tempt, hopes to win the chamber 
in 2022 and strengthen Republican vote-suppression efforts in 2024.” 

One of my clearest memories of my dad could have been a scene taken out of 

In a national civic emergency, the mainstream media needs to be pro-democ

a Charlie Chaplin movie. It was the middle of a Canadian winter - in other 

racy and pro-truth. That is not “bias.” That is patriotism. 

words June - and my parents hosted a dinner party, my dad prepared a Chinese 

The problem, however, is that too many journalists (especially the older, 

fondue. The cooking pot was a bronze ring-shaped vessel with a vertical chim

more seasoned ones) are stuck in the old paradigm. Jay Rosen, a media critic 

ney, fueled by white-hot charcoal briquettes in the base. My dad fired up the 

at New York University, said it well last week: The press is still too in-vest

charcoal pot in our hobbit-height basement and as the flames licked towards 

ed in “the game – ‘who are the winners and losers, who’s ahead, what’s the 

the ceiling, he grabbed it and quickly walked upstairs. At that precise moment 

strategy?’ You can keep doing that right up until the point when democracy 

I opened the back door, mere steps away from where my dad stood, and a huge 


gust of wind stoked the flames inches from his face. With his outstretched 

I agree. So does Tom Edsall: “In times of big change, reporters have a harder 

hands shielded from the blazing embers by a pair of smoldering oven mittens, 

time finding ways to describe it and to deal with it. Reporters are usually fixed 

he did a quick Chaplin-like waddle to the dining table and laid the boiling pot 

in a language that they’ve (long) been using to describe po-litical competi

down, the majority of his eyebrows still intact. We applauded, I think more in 

tion.” Nevertheless, “you have to look at the truth…The press has been reluc

anticipation of the feast than his fireside feat. 

tant to look at the truth adequately… That is what the press is supposed to 
do. I’m personally against mincing words,” whereas, at too many mainstream 
outlets, “the pressure is to mince words.” 

Being grandparents are indeed, the better gig. My parents, not really fans of 

Granted, the word authoritarian upsets a lot of people. But what more em-

The Mouse, generously offered to take their grandson and me to DisneyWorld. 

pirical evidence do we need that the GOP wants to turn America into Turkey, 

My dad was retired, my son was 3, we were ok to go as long as we synchronized 

Hungary, or worse? In plain sight, its state-level lawmakers are working to 

their nap times. After a long, hot day waiting in line to ride Dumbo’s ears, we 

sabotage future free elections – ensuring that Republican state legislatures 

returned to our family suite at the Disney Fort Wilderness Resort. Exhausted, 

have the power to invalidate Democratic wins, installing local election of-

we all fell into a deep sleep, no pixie dust required. Minutes later, my dad began 

ficials who can refuse to certify Democratic wins, enacting a string of new 

to snore. The flimsy drywall separating the bedrooms shook. It was as if the 

voter suppression laws that are designed to protect their white minorities. 

whole clan of the Country Bear Jamboree - bears and hill folk alike, guzzled 

Meanwhile, the GOP’s national leaders remain in thrall to the loser who 

down a dozen barrels of white lightning and together snored a staccato sym

thinks the 2020 election was stolen, and they continue to pretend that the 

phony. The next morning I changed our rental stroller to a twin and bleary-

insurrectionist coup attempt was a mirage. As Edsall says, “stuffing things 

eyed, let my parents push me too. So, thanks and love to you George -and 

down the memory hole is precisely what authoritarianism does.” If we jour-

Josephine too - and to fathers everywhere - Happy Father’s Day! 

nalists don’t point that out, we’re not doing our jobs.
James Madison, who championed the Bill of Rights, warned more than two 
Email me at 

centuries ago that a free country starved of accurate knowledge “is but a prologue 
to a farce or a tragedy; or perhaps both.” 
Both indeed. The clock is ticking. 

Read more at: 

Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a 
Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at 
Email him at 

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