Joe’s Journal

Golf, Politics, War, and Polio

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 04/17/2024 - 7:00am

Last weekend I spent way too much time watching the Masters on TV.

There is just something compelling about Augusta National with its perfect fairways, immaculate grounds, and how the patrons (not fans) behave as they watch the best golfers in the world ply their trade.

Once I overheard a priest say he didn’t know how heaven would look, but he hoped it was as nice as Augusta.

I no longer play golf, for I no longer have the strength of body and wallet to compete. That is one of the many joys (?) of the “Golden Years.” Right. Of course, I miss it.

I fell in love with golf in 1955 when my pals and I cut summer school classes to caddie at the National Public Links championship. The fact I couldn’t hit a curve ball may have had something to do with that decision.

Over the years, I have played with golfers from Maine to Australia who were friendly, helpful, and kind folk. They were usually honorable, as golf is one of the few major sports that does not have referees looking over your shoulder as you peek under bushes searching for the ball. Most golfers don’t fudge their scorecards, even if it is embarrassing.

Sorry I took you down the rabbit hole with my musings of Augusta and golf, as they provide me and many others with a chance to relax after March Madness, the sad spectacle at Fenway Park, and the toxic political circus flushed from our TV sets day after day.

As the nation tries to get its collective arms around the idea that Grandpa Donald and Grandpa Joe are the choices of our major political parties, we face a virtual minefield as we try to decide which one should lead our beloved nation for the next four years.

Grandpa Donald is scheduled to go on trial in a New York court accused of paying hush money to a porn star to keep her from blabbing about their afternoon delight. I still have trouble getting my mind around the idea that a former president will sit at the defense table in a criminal court.

After that trial ends, he must face other federal and state charges stemming from the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill incident and attempts to rig the 2021 electoral college that evicted him from the White House. Yipes.

Grandpa Joe also faces a kerfuffle of protests over American backing of the Israeli invasion of Gaza following the massacre of Israeli citizens by Hamas terrorists. While most agree Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorists, many Americans, including a very vocal group of Arab-Americans who lost relatives in the conflict, demand he stop the war today.

Whatever position you hold on that conflict, watching video of dozens of dead children pulled from the rubble and an estimated 30,000 civilian casualties is an obstacle to Grandpa Joe’s popularity.

Then, he faces the crisis at the southern border and inflation at the grocery store.

The shooting wars in Ukraine and Israel both have the potential to escalate into big-time conflicts. Saturday evening's failed Iranian drone attacks on Israel give me pause. I wonder why the Jordanian and Saudi air forces joined the mighty U.S. Navy to help the Israelis wipe the skies clean of 300 incoming items. Is the unsaid split in the Arab world going public?

In Washington, D.C., Congress seems to be in a perpetual swivet with the GOP young back-benchers elbowing their elders aside.

Meanwhile, Grandpa Don is pulling the strings behind the scenes as he tries to shift attention to his candidacy.

Then, as the GOP and their MAGA allies thought they were facing a familiar road after winning the primaries, the abortion question flared into a firestorm when an Arizona court banned it citing an 1864 law that was ignored for years. Suddenly, that question jumped to the top of the newspaper front pages, energizing women who object to being told what they must do with their reproductive systems.

Wow. There is a lot to swallow, and the national election is still seven months away.

Last week's news stories were not all bad. Friday was the anniversary of a milestone. On April 12, 1955, the feds approved the Salk polio vaccine. I remember delivering newspapers with the headline “Polio Conquered” streaming across the front page.

Polio killed thousands. Its victims often needed help to breathe. Doctors put them in ventilators encased in large metal tubes called Iron Lungs.

Years later, I interviewed one of the doctors who worked on that polio vaccine project. He told me the best day in his career was when he wheeled the last Iron Lung down a hallway and nudged it into a hospital closet. And no one ever got it out again.

Fasten your seat belts. It is getting rough.