I'd Like to Go All Roberto Alomar on Henry Waxman's Dome


Oh, goddamnit.

After hounding Major League Baseball and its players union over steroids, Congress now wants the sport to ban smokeless tobacco. […]

At a hearing Wednesday, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, and Health Subcommittee chairman Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat, called on baseball and its players to agree to bar major leaguers from using chew, dip or similar products during games. […]

Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, wondered aloud: "Why don't they just chew gum if they feel the need to chew something?"

During his opening statement, Waxman said: "We don't let baseball players go stand out there in the field and drink beer. Major League Baseball won't allow them to step on the field and smoke cigarettes. So why should they be out there on the field—in sight of all their fans on television and at the ballpark—using smokeless tobacco?"

How about because smokeless tobacco is a legal product that the players, being allegedly free men, choose to consume? More Waxman jackassery:

Unfortunately, Major League Baseball, and the players' union have yet to take decisive steps to end this terrible scourge. […]

This Committee will continue its vigorous and ongoing oversight of these issues. The protection of young Americans from the ravages of tobacco – in all its forms – demands no less.

And Major League Baseball and its players must step up to the plate to do their part.

Italics mine, because to hell with these people.

For those of you about to argue in the comments that "I'd rather they go after snuff and chaw than do something really harmful," let me just say this: What on earth makes you think A) is a distraction from B)? When you exercise congressional oversight authority–scratch that, when you exercise the oversight authority of the House Energy and Commerce Committee–over the gross-but-legal personal habits of private-sector employees, than by definition you are lowering the bar for government intervention into absolutely everything. For proof, look no further than Waxman's creepy letter to his colleagues this week announcing postponement of hearings he called to publicly shame CEOs of companies who promptly reported write-offs in the wake of the new health care reform law. The business bigwigs pleaded for more time to assemble their explanations, but the most important thing, at least going by Waxman's letter, was that they furnished him with quotes that only sound like they were issued directly from the desk of Peter Orszag:

As the Committee examined the potential impact of the new law on large employers, several companies and their representatives expressed the view that the new law could have beneficial impacts on large employers if implemented properly. John Castellani, President of the Business Roundtable, told our staff, "[i]f implemented right, the law has the potential to make employers and employees better off because it could bend the cost curve." Wayne Watts, the Senior Executive Vice President for AT&T, wrote the Committee: "Should the structural reforms intended to reduce the costs of delivering healthcare under PPAC [the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] ultimately prove successful over time, self-insured companies like AT&T would likely benefit from such reduced costs." Andrew Mekelburg, the Vice President of Federal Government Relations at Verizon, told our staff: "It is critically important to bend the cost curve to get health care spending under control. … The correct implementation of the reforms associated with the legislation is important to achieving long term savings for the country and for Verizon."

Translation: Kiss the ring, bitches.

Hat tip for the original link: Scott Ross.

Disclosures: I was a teenage dipper (Copenhagen, mostly), my long-dead grandpa had some of his lip removed probably as a result of chewing tobacco, and Henry Waxman was not only my congressman for a few years, but he did me a solid once. Also, I believe more strongly than ever that the 1970s were the only decade to give the '90s a run for their money, as evidenced by the TV commercial below: