Ever since 1933, Major League Baseball has taken a break in roughly the mid-point of its lengthy season to play the All-Star Game. This annual event has the American and National League stepping between the lines fielding squads jam-packed with superstars. What once was played for bragging rights has more recently had home-field advantage in the World Series tied to it to ensure a greater incentive to win after the 2002 game was declared a tie after both squads ran out of players to substitute. Like much of professional baseball’s history, this particular game possesses a rich vein of memories be it Pete Rose destroying Ray Fosse in a home plate collision in 1970, the National League racking up 21 strikeouts in 1984 (including some newbie named Dwight Gooden striking out the side) or last-minute sub Derek Jeter taking A-Rod’s spot in 2000 and becoming the first Yankee to win the award with a three-hit performance.
Where does one start in commenting upon one of the most surprising and beguiling decisions in the history of judicial annals? This past week, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it is constitutional to impose a mandate to carry health insurance. According to Justice John Roberts, who surprisingly wrote the majority decision upholding the law, its constitutionality is not found under the Commerce Clause, which was the principal legal basis the Obama administration was invoking to justify the health care overhaul, but under Congress’ constitutional power to tax.
The subtleties and nuances of the court’s decision are intriguing. In Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, which enumerates the powers delegated to the Congress, it states that Congress is empowered to “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” Sure enough, disputes rose over the range of powers the Commerce Clause bestowed on Congress, especially since it was so often paired with the “Necessary and Proper Clause,” a combination that enormously increased congressional control over the life of the economy.
This July 4 marks the 236th anniversary of our nation’s birth. While this national holiday invokes images of sultry temperatures and endless fireworks displays, there is definitely a connection to the notion of the American triumvirate of mom, baseball and apple pie that pops up throughout this annual celebration. Traditionally, the Fourth of July is an excuse for families to come together given how the entire country benefits from it being a federally mandated day off. And usually, moms serve as the familial engines who keep these yearly assemblages going.
For years, the idea of the euro was unloved, unwanted and unwept for. Europe never desired a common currency; it was something foreign to their way of doing business. Take the Germans, they loathed the idea of surrendering their cherished D-mark, which had become more than a measure of currency; it was an heroic symbol of post-war recovery, a Phoenix rising from the ashes of war transforming charnel houses into palaces of wealth. Most other Europeans felt the same as the Germans. Even the economists and the bankers were deeply skeptical that a single currency would be some sort of magic wand fostering European integration and solidarity.
So what happened? If everyone was against the euro, then who was for it? The politicians, who else? The idea of a united, democratic Europe was a delicious prospect to savor. A European economic engine firing off all cylinders was theoretically capable of surpassing the Promethean might of the United States. Salivating at the notion of frolicking in the empyrean precincts of the gods, Europe dove head first into shallow water.
Every year, the month of June represents the closing of one chapter in a person’s life and the start of another one. For younger boys and girls, that could mean either moving from one level of Little League baseball to the next, or for 12-year-olds, the conclusion of that segment of hardball with the pony leagues and its longer base paths and stronger competition on the horizon. June is also a favorite wedding month, where scores of single people trade a carefree solitary existence for a life shared with a potential soul mate that in most cases involves having children and battling life’s obstacles as a combined unit.
Baltimore is located in the heart of Maryland, along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. It was founded in 1729 and named after Lord Baltimore, a member of the Irish House of Lords and the founding proprietor of the Maryland Colony. The inner harbor of Baltimore is quite a tourist attraction with its panoply of shops and restaurants. Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles play, is one of baseball’s great cathedrals. Situated in poetic proximity of that ball yard, just two blocks away, at 216 Emory Street, is the house where Babe Ruth was born. If your tastes, however, are partial to the literary and the macabre you can pilgrimage through the busy streets to the home where Edgar Allan Poe penned some of his immortal tales.
If someone were to ask you what falls on the third Sunday in June, would you know it’s Father’s Day? Inspired by her father, a Civil War veteran that reared six children as a single parent, daughter Sonora Smart Dodd founded the unofficial holiday in June 1910. While the complementary Mother’s Day was embraced more readily, it took considerably more time for society to hop on board with a day for dads. Despite the fact that President Woodrow Wilson wanted to make it an official holiday in 1916, Congress thwarted him due to fears it would become too commercialized. (This ended up being an inevitable fate for this and all other holidays.) It was not until 1972 that it became a permanent national holiday after President Richard Nixon signed it into law.
What a weekend! The roller coaster of political reporting over the past month emanating from Belmont Park, NYRA and Albany was suddenly eclipsed by the heartbreaking news that I’ll Have Another would be scratched and sadly 2012 would be yet another year without a Triple Crown champion. But all was not lost. The Belmont Stakes Festival, a week of events sponsored by or in cooperation with NYRA, bookending the Belmont Stakes, went off without a hitch. On Sunday, June 2, Elmont kicked off the Belmont Stakes Festival with its Belmont Stakes Parade, Family Field Day and Rotary Club Craft Fair to this weekend’s closing events: the Floral Park Art League’s two-day show at Memorial Park and the Belmont Stakes Street Fair on Tulip Avenue, with quite an exciting little horse race squeezed in on Saturday before 85,811 at Belmont Park.
During the past decade, we have heard endless talk about reforming our state education system. But we have little to show for it. So far, reform has focused on what happens inside our schools. The result? Flat test scores, an achievement gap that hasn’t budged and ballooning costs to help battle these challenges.
Now Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is taking a go at it, and has charged a commission with increasing efficiencies and improving outcomes at our schools. But if Cuomo’s team focuses on the same old solutions, we can expect the same dismal results. To really make a difference, we need to start thinking outside of the classroom.
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