Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Say It Ain't So, Joe


The World Series of 1919 between the Chicago White Sox and the Cincinnati Reds generated 50% more revenue than any prior series. It was such a big event, with so much money flowing around, that if someone could actually know the outcome beforehand, they could make a pretty tidy profit .
Enter the gamblers. They approached White Sox players, Pitcher Ed Cicotte and First Baseman Arnold "Chick" Gandil, about fixing the Series. After talking to a few other players, Cicotte and Gandil managed to enlist six other players in their scheme to make Cincinnati the winner.
Among those approached was left fielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the best hitters to play the game. “Shoeless” Joe finished with a .356 career average (third all time), and in the .last years before Babe Ruth took over the sport, he was arguably the most popular player ever. A sure-fire Hall-of-Famer.
While reportedly "Acknowledging that he had let up in key situations," Jackson’s performance during the Series seems to belie that; he hit a robust .375 while setting a major league World Series record with 12 hits, one of which was the only home run hit during the entire Series. Does that sound like the type of performance one trying to lose would have?
However, he admitted receiving $5,000 for his part in the scheme. While acquitted at trial, all eight of the participants, dubbed the Black Sox, were banned from baseball. Legend has it that as Jackson was leaving the courthouse during the trial, a young boy begged of him, "Say it ain't so, Joe," and that Joe did not respond.
Now to the main subject of this blog: Joe Lieberman. In 2006 he lost his bid to be the Senate Democratic candidate in the primary election, but won as an “Independent Democrat” in the general election. Because there are only 59 “real” Democrats in the Senate, the party needs Lieberman’s vote in order to pass most legislation. He has voted against his former party several times, and I considered him to be a man who voted his principles rather than kowtow to the party line. But now I’m not so sure.
Lieberman has been generally receptive to reforming the healthcare system, however, he has stated that he will vote against the Senate bill because of a provision that would allow individuals 55 years of age and older to buy into Medicare. He says that he is worried about the impact such a provision would have on existing Medicare patients: it may result in budget cuts that are detrimental to their quality of care.
On Monday, a video surfaced of an interview Lieberman conducted just three months ago with the Connecticut Post in which he specifically endorsed expanding Medicare to those as young as 55. When confronted with the video, Lieberman claimed he had forgotten about it until he was reminded of it by Democratic Party leaders, but in any event he is still against the provision.
So why the flip-flop? One possible explanation is that Lieberman was reminded by the insurance industry of the $1.04 million dollars of campaign funds he has received during his career. Another is that he is getting back at the party for not supporting him during the 2006 election.
Whatever the reason, it appears that Lieberman has scuttled any type of public option in the Senate version.
History really does repeat itself. Say it ain’t so, Joe.

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