Wednesday, December 15, 2004


According to federal law, every sportswriter in America, for the past fourteen years, has been required to write a column one a year stating:
a)The evidence is “overwhelming” (this word is apparently mandated by statute) that Pete Rose bet on baseball, and
b)Pete must admit he bet on baseball so the healing can begin.

I have read every one of these articles.

In November 2003, Rose had a meeting with Bud Selig (“Acting Baseball Commissioner For Life”), in which some sort of understanding was reached. No transcript of the meeting was published, but we are given to understand via the usual reliable sources (i.e., Mike Schmidt), that Pete was told the doors would be opened to him, after a decent interval, if he were to admit betting on baseball.

In the two months since the Rose-Selig Summit, Pete has written a book (ka-ching!), had it published, and set up a media campaign. And guess what? He bet on baseball. HE ADMITS IT!! At last!! And now the healing, I guess, can begin.

I never really knew whether Pete bet on baseball because, unlike all the sportswriters who were required by federal law to describe the evidence as overwhelming, I read the Dowd Report and knew it was not. There was plenty of evidence that Rose is a cold, cynical, money-grubbing, narcissistic SOB who has only a nodding acquaintanceship with the truth, but the evidence he bet on baseball could only be described, in its worst light, as “suggestive.” In a court of law, faced with the charge he had bet on baseball, Pete would not have needed Johnny Cochran. Mickey Cochran could have handled it, and he’s been dead since 1962.

Let’s look at these latest developments from the point of view of a cold, cynical, money-grubbing, narcissistic SOB for a minute.

Here I am, locked out. It’s been fourteen years, and though I’ve been denying I bet on baseball since day 1, nobody who matters believes me. They will never believe me. If I go on maintaining I had ONE FREAKING SCRUPLE in my whole life, I will never be admitted to the Hall of Fame and I will never get a job in baseball. But if I say I did it, Bud will hem and haw, but then open the door. I’ll get a job in the minors the next day. In five years, I’ll be back in The Show. Hmm. As a cold, cynical, money-grubbing, narcissistic SOB, what should I do?

Since there was never much evidence Pete Rose bet on baseball, all we have ever had to go on is our opinion of his credibility. There’s no question Pete Rose is a liar. But was he lying for the past fourteen years, or is he lying now?

I honestly don’t know.

Copyright 2004 Michael Kubacki

Friday, December 10, 2004


Dear Friends:

Has it been a whole year since we all “decked the halls?” Well, by golly, it has. And the Yule log is crackling again, so it must be Christmas, eh? A joyous Noel then, to you and yours. And a happy Chanukah and a merry Kwanza as well. And let’s have a Festivus for the rest of us. And to all you Muslims, well, whatever. Enjoy your Iraqi elections! And for you atheists---hey, I know---go Eagles! There’s something we can ALL agree on. I mean, Donovan’s the man, right? And what do you think---is that really his mom in the Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials, or is it actually Kurt Warner’s?

But I digress. I know you’re anxious to hear what the Kubacki family has been doing this year.

Have you seen the naked pictures of me on the internet? Fore and aft? It was my therapist’s idea, of course, and I was shy about it at first, but now I see the beauty of it, or perhaps I should say the beauty of me. I LOVE my body now!! We should all love our bodies, shouldn’t we? Because like---that’s where we are, right? All the time. In our bodies. I mean 24-7. And 365, too. Anyway, consider the pictures a little Christmas lagniappe kind of thing for all my friends, right there at I love you guys!

The pictures-on-the-internet decision was a huge spiritual breakthrough for me in 2004. I walk around naked in the house all the time now. (Stop over anytime and see!) I have a whole new confident attitude, even when I have clothes on, and it’s helped me all over the place, like in my militia, where Jeff and Bubba made me a Lieutenant Commandant and put me in charge of the militia affirmative action program in a ceremony we had out at the dump with a case of Milwaukee’s Best, some RPG’s and a bag of Doritos. You know---the works! So if you know any African-Americans or French people or homosexuals who want to join up and get ready for the day when Hillary comes to take all our guns away, well, I’m the guy to see. (And don’t forget---you can see it all on the website.)

Moondog too has had an awesome year. The so-called “road rage” case is completely over now, and she got her car back and everything. (Nuns just think they OWN the Roosevelt Boulevard, don’t they? I mean---be honest.)

Also, the Bebe-Afghanistan campaign is starting to take off for Moonie in a big way, and we couldn’t be happier. We have all had to face the fact that she’s in her late 20’s now, and the runways of New York and Milan are full of fourteen-year-old anorexic heroin addicts. We all get older, even Moonie. She’s just not a fourteen-year-old anorexic heroin addict anymore. So when the December issue of Vogue-Kabul, featuring her 12-page veil-and-thong layout, sold out in three hours, we were like totally---ka-ching! What can you say? It’s a universal language, I guess. Everybody likes blondes.

And finally, of course, there’s Tex, or as he now likes to be called, Jesus Finnegan. And, you know, I couldn’t be prouder of him if he were my own son, rather than Rick Mahorn’s. A lot of teenagers today are sullen and uncommunicative, but I’m thrilled Tex still talks to the “old man,” and I love our little chats, even though some of them take place down at the Roundhouse, through the plexiglass.

Like the other day, for example, I was in the kitchen when he returned from his rehearsal for the Christmas play (oops---I mean the “Winter Festival”) at school. He’s playing the role of Che Guevara. Anyway, it was about 7 o’clock in the evening, and he had been gone all day, and he looked a little tired.

“Hi, honey,” I said. “Would you like some noodles?”

“WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO STOP INTERROGATING ME, YOU FASCIST,” he replied, casually slamming his fist into one of the kitchen cabinets and shattering it into a thousand pieces.

What a night that was! He’s fourteen now, of course, and doesn’t have as much need for his parents as he used to, but I still cherish the “quality time” we have together, like we did that night, as the doctor set his fractures and applied the cast. We had some laughs, I’ll tell you!

2004 has been a super year for Tex (I mean, Jesus), and it seems he’s finally come out of his “shell”---you know, the phase he was going through last year that those doctors referred to as “psychotic catatonia.” What a bunch of quacks! With school, and rehearsals, and his bowling league (team name: Bowling For Columbine), we don’t see him nearly as much as we’d like to, but I guess every parent feels that way. And then there’s the “nuclear experiments” he and his pals are always working on in the garage with that Pakistani guy who works at the convenience store. (Don’t ask me! It’s WAY over my head.) Where DO kids get all that energy? That’s what I’d like to know! And where can I get some?

So with another great year at our house coming to a close, it’s Wassail to ye and all your kin, whatever your creed or height or sexual orientation or, you know, even if you lost a couple of toes in an industrial accident. We here on Coulter Street send you our love. Long may you wave! Merry! And Happy! Live long and prosper! May we all start jogging and really get into shape! May we all be transported back in time for an instant so we can say that thing we should have said to that girl or that guy or that boss or that judge or that creep on the subway! May we resist the urge to be clever, and be kind instead! Surf’s up, dude. It always is. The big ones are crashing on the shore. Hang ten, or eight, or whatever you’ve got. Shalom.

And be sure to visit the website.

Michael, Sandi & Tex

Copyright2004Michael Kubacki

Thursday, December 2, 2004


"The official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. All citizens have to change their underwear every half hour, and they have to wear them on the outside so we can check."---Fielding Mellish (Woody Allen), revolutionary leader in "Bananas," in his first speech after taking over the government.

Aren't you a little surprised that the latest developments in the gay marriage fandango haven't sparked any violence? This past week, would you have been shocked if you had flipped on CNN and learned that some nut had climbed on top of a building with a rifle and picked off a couple of the people waiting in line outside the San Francisco City Hall? I don't think I would have been surprised at all. And, of course, the night is young.

I'll tell you in a little while why I'm in favor of allowing gay marriages, but the real purpose of this diatribe is to tell you why what's happening now, via the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and the Mayor of San Francisco, is wrong.

It takes guts to do what they did, I'll give them that. The word that comes to mind is chutzpah. I mean, the institution of marriage is one that pre-dates governments and will probably outlive them. It's a creature of culture and tradition. It has existed in one form or another on every continent, in every clan, tribe, nomadic band, chiefdom, nation and state so long that (to quote an old law book) "the memory of man runneth not to the contrary." For millennia, governments didn't even have any say in the process, and couldn't even perform marriages. All they could do was enforce secular laws (that came from the shamans, priests, and rabbis) about marriage-related topics like inheritance and property rights.

A lot of folks, faced with a history suggesting that marriage is a more important institution than any government that has ever existed, might pause before declaring unilaterally that marriage (as we know it) is wrong, unfair, discriminatory, and homophobic. But not the mayor of San Francisco. A lot of judges might wonder why, in the 224 years since the Massachusetts Constitution was adopted, nobody had noticed that a "fundamental right" was being denied to the state's citizens. But not the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

Honestly now, by what possible authority (moral or secular), do these folks purport to decide for all of us what marriage should consist of? I mean, these people don't own the institution of marriage any more than I do, do they?

In law school, I had a professor named Yale Kamisar, and one of the few things I remember from his criminal law class was his view that that the large moral issues of society had no place in court. His examples were abortion and capital punishment, both of which have been addressed repeatedly by the Supreme Court, though neither of them are even hinted at in the U.S. Constitution. His point was that when a case involving these issues arrives at the Supreme Court, the justices have no law to apply. All they have is their own prejudices. Thus, when an opinion emerges from the court, even if it has a patina of legal reasoning to it, all you're getting is the biases of nine people who are no more qualified to decide the issue than any other nine people you could pull out of a bus station. It's tyranny. It's anti-democratic. It's what makes people pick up guns. Gay marriage was not an issue at the time, but if it had been, I'm sure it would have made his list of large moral issues that require the full, lengthy, messy and time-consuming process of democracy.

One of the great strengths, and profound frustrations, of a democracy is that large questions can sometimes take decades to resolve. Even stupid ideas can stick around for a hundred years, until all the diehards on one side are dead or have given up the fight. The "Free Coinage of Silver" campaign, for example, was a dopey notion even by the standards of economic science in the 1860's, but it stuck around for sixty years.

School vouchers is another example. It's been at least forty years since Milton Friedman came up with the idea, and it will be another twenty before it's finally decided. It's pretty clear which way the battle is going, but that doesn't mean it's even close to being over. There's money involved, and power, and political philosophies, and nobody is going gently into the night. But ultimately, it will be settled.

The beauty of this unwieldy process is that, so long as no one has the dictatorial power to say, "This is the LAW," nobody gets killed, and the government doesn't get overthrown. People bitch, of course, and they write letters to the editor and they call talk radio shows, and maybe, late at night in a taproom, somebody gets a bloody nose. But if you want to ignore the politics entirely, you can. Armed men don't come to the door to find out which side you're on. The mail still gets delivered. The Eagles still lose the NFC Championship game. And eventually, the issue gets settled one way or the other.

There are costs attached to the system, of course. It's not very efficient. The "Free Coinage of Silver" fight, for example, raged on for decades with millions spent on political campaigns, and resulted in exactly---nothing. People wasted their entire lives on it. William Jennings Bryan, a great man of his time, is now a sort of historical joke figure. The school choice controversy also carries a price, since at times it seems the very purpose of public schools, to educate children, has been forgotten. And doesn't it seem unlikely schools will get any better until the issue has been resolved?

In the fight over gay rights, one argument you hear is that allowing gay marriage would "undermine" traditional marriages. I'm not sure how that works exactly because I don't really see how it would affect me and my marriage, but maybe I'm missing something there. What I do know is that the current fight, like any long political battle in a democracy, has its costs, the primary one of which is that the fight itself undermines traditional marriage, in the following way.

There once was a time when society encouraged couples to get married, in various ways. There were tax advantages. It was easier to get a mortgage. Employers typically extended health insurance and other employee benefits to spouses. In these and many other ways, the government and the world at large nudged young couples toward the altar. And if you believe that marriage is a great civilizing influence, and the best way to raise children, this was a good thing.

Those days, to a large extent, are gone. Along the way, in the fight for gay rights, many major cities and many large employers (virtually every hi-tech and entertainment company, for example) started offering benefits to "significant others" or same-sex "partners." Once this process started, they couldn't very deny those same benefits to John and Mary, an unmarried couple who live together. "Why get hitched?" John wonders, and it's hard to give him much of an answer.

Well, I still want John and Mary to get married. Despite the leftist ideologues who wish it weren't so, all the evidence still tells us that kids are better off with both mommy and daddy, that married people commit fewer crimes and take fewer drugs, and are more productive members of society. Not that we really need any sociological studies to tell us of the civilizing influence of marriage, of course. The fact it has worked since we all lived in caves is good enough for me.

So bring on the gay marriages. It's OK with me. It's probably going to happen anyway in twenty years or so, so why fight it? Let them get married. But no more of this same-sex partner business, or "civil unions" or "significant others." No more “spousal benefits” for people who are just living together. None of that. It's marriage or nothing. You get the benefits, you get the joint credit card liabilities, you get the mother-in-law, you get everything. Let them all get married. And let's see how THEY like it.

Copyright Michael Kubacki 2004