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Taking a swing at Congress, out at first - Bob Paslay

What I like about the way the Big Guy designed us is He gave us this spectacular brain and no two people got the same one. So two people can stand side by side in a museum looking at a painting, especially an abstract one, and one sees a pony and one sees a glob of colors and nothing more.

And this brings me to the Congressional hearings in which baseball players were called to testify. I see the situation entirely different from my colleague who Thursday decried the fact that the baseball players didn't cooperate in the steroid issue and name names.

First, I would point out that none of these witnesses were given immunity. Coming from a family of lawyers, I would tell you that even though I am proud of being a Presbyterian, proud of being left-handed and proud of being Southern, if a bunch of lawmakers were grilling me without immunity I wouldn't admit to any of these things.

But being the wise-acre that I am, responding to the question of whether I could name any substance abusers who were baseball players, I would respond: "Yes sir (or madam.) I can and I will. Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Shoeless Joe Jackson. You know Shoeless even sold these substances to thousands after being run out of baseball. He opened a liquor store in Greenville, S.C."

I have many problems with this whole congressional steroid issue. Grand juries are convened to consider whether to indict people for violating the law. Congressional hearings are convened to gather information that would help craft new legislation. This latest time wasting act of Congress asking the boys of summer to squeal on colleagues has nothing to do with writing laws and everything to do with wasting time.

The broader trend in America is that we are Oprahing the hallowed halls of Congress.

I will not revisit the issue of Terri Schiavo since I plowed that field last week, but this rushing around to get involved is the latest in this trend. Congress is quickly becoming a joke. It is morphing from a great deliberative body to a reality television show. Next week: Women who dress like men on Fox Senate. Also, four Republican freshmen will compete in a mud-wrestling competition as GOP House spring break continues.

What started this whole baseball steroid craze? A book by a former player who wants to make it as sensational as possible to sell more copies. Don't get me wrong. Kids (and being old I think of even these professional players as kids) should not use this junk. Baseball needs to clean its act up. But I remember what happened when the federal government took over the Mustang Lounge, the house of ill repute in Nevada, some years ago because of back taxes. Within six months they had run it into the ground and it went out of business. So the federal government needs to keep its hands off the nation's pastime. But if it does want to get involved it should be trying to gather facts and not witch hunting on who did what when. For Congress' purpose, knowing one in four or one in 10 or whatever number take illegal substances is enough to pass laws. You don't need names. The horror of the '50s witch hunts in which Hollywood writers and actors' lives were ruined is enough to make me side with the not-talking baseball players.

Don't get me wrong. I don't sleep real well at night knowing both houses of Congress, the presidency and the Supreme Court are all in the hands of one political party. And so I do take some comfort in the fact that the more Oprah shows they have in Congress the less time there is to meddle in my life and pass lousy laws that will take years to get overturned.

But at the same time that gas prices are out of control, the environment is under siege, Social Security is in deep trouble, the economy is still soft, the American dollar is in the toilet compared to other currencies, I think Congress could spend its time on more useful things than spying on baseball players.

The American pendulum swings back and forth and it will swing back to the center again. The more sideshows that Congress takes part in the sooner the swing will begin.

Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald and can be reached at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257 or at bpaslay@news-daily.com .