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McgWired Nation

[whitespace] Things are getting battier and battier

By Bob Harris

LET'S TALK about St. Louis Cardinals heavy hitter Mark McGwire. The guy was always a power hitter, but suddenly he's the size of a condo, and now when he plays in Wrigley Field, they don't worry he's gonna break a window across the street, they're afraid he's gonna break the blimp.

This guy got big faster than Monica Lewinsky. And it turns out he's boosting his testosterone with a mixture of creatine and some not-quite-steroid thing I can't pronounce and God knows what other biochemical tweaking. McGwire's post-workout snack probably includes two thirds of the periodic table.

And so Roger Maris' home-run record (61) proved easier to obtain than a hall pass from Betty Currie, and some people are screaming it's not fair, just because McGwire has suddenly sprouted bolts in his neck.

Yeah, well, Maris and Babe Ruth played in Yankee Stadium, where until the 1970s right field was about 11 feet behind second base. You can argue all you want about who's a better hitter. That's the whole point of pro sports, which exist mostly so guys in bars can scream at each other through beer spittle and feel they have a clue while their arteries harden and their jobs are being offloaded to Malaysia.

Get a grip.

Yes, McGwire is a chemically altered freakboy who corks his bloodstream instead of his bat.

And who isn't these days?

How many of the very sportswriters--and boy, there's a contradiction in terms--who are so upset because McGwire eats amino acids regularly adjust their own body chemistry with caffeine, cigarettes, sedatives, antidepressants, and alcohol?

All of those are legal. So is everything McGwire consumes. Our entire society is built on better living through chemistry. We'll all suffer the side effects later.

In the meantime, the man hasn't done anything wrong other than excel in an era where scientists gleefully grow babies in test tubes, transplant baboon hearts into people, and grow human ears on the ass of a rat.

So, 62-plus home runs? We're lucky we're still counting in Base 10.

And the only real surprise about McGwire is that he hasn't been cloned. Yet.

Y'KNOW, the president's exploitation of women might be even worse than you think. My problem with Clinton (and the GOP) has to do with economic policies--particularly the turning of American labor into just another global commodity--which work really well for people who own stock, and really badly for people who wheel stock around.

Whatever Clinton did or didn't do--and the weird rumors floating around make me think the only reason Paula Jones' attorneys didn't get an admission of sexual activity was simply a lack of imagination in their definition--the sad fact is, Monica's chores were pretty much the only job Clinton has created for low-income women since he was elected.

Remember welfare reform?

Two years ago, trying to appease the right in an election year, Clinton signed a bill eliminating Aid to Families with Dependent Children for hundreds of thousands of struggling Americans--the vast majority being women, many single mothers trying to raise children. This was despite the brutally obvious reality that plenty were already working--albeit at minimum- and low-wage jobs, often under the table just to get by.

("Under the table" is meant here strictly in the payroll sense, of course. Get your mind out of the Oval Office.)

Meanwhile, Clinton's support of international trade agreements has made lower-wage jobs harder to find, and the weakening of health and safety rules have made those jobs harder on those who find them.

And for those who don't find jobs, one final irony: Welfare laws now include strict provisions requiring unwed mothers to establish paternity, which means providing welfare officials a complete inventory of their sex lives. In many cases, they have to specifically recount to a judge when, where, how often, with whom, and so on--precisely the details which Clinton refuses to provide himself.

Let's stop worrying about what Clinton did to one woman in his study, and start paying attention to what he (along with the GOP Congress) has done to every other American woman--right on top of his desk.

Metaphorically speaking, of course. So far.

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From the September 10-16, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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