China 'Meddling'; Interest Rates; Consumer Protection; the Great Clemente

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Good morning. It’s Friday, October 12, 2018. If you’ve done a Google search this morning, you probably noticed a color drawing of a determined-looked baseball player watching the ball sail off his bat as he completes his swing. This “Google Doodle” is a shout-out to Roberto Clemente, the incandescent Pittsburgh Pirates star elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973.

Google’s “news peg,” to use an old newspaper phrase, is a game played on October 12, 1971, the third game of that year’s World Series. It was a thrilling seven-game affair in which Clemente led the Pirates to victory over the Baltimore Orioles -- and was named Series MVP.

Game 3 wasn’t much of a milestone, but maybe I’m saying that because I was rooting for Baltimore that year. As I think of it, though, any excuse to honor Roberto Clemente is a good one. He was one of the greatest ballplayers who ever lived -- and an even better person.

I’ll have more on the pride of Puerto Rico in a moment. First, I’d direct you, as I do each weekday, to our front page, which aggregates an array of columns and stories spanning the political spectrum. We also offer original material from our own reporters and contributors this morning, including the following:

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WH Sees Chinese Election Meddling; Others See No Red Flags. Sally Persons explores comments from President Trump and others that China, not Russia, poses the greatest threat to the midterms.

Rising Interest Rates Could Add to Budget Woes. In RealClearPolicy, James C. Capretta explains how a growing economy could make it harder for the government to service its debt. 

To Protect Consumers, the BCFP Must Listen to Them. Also in RCPolicy, Matthew Kandrach urges Mick Mulvaney to reopen the renamed agency’s small-dollar loan rule to public comment.

Washington Needs Frederic Bastiat Right Now. In RealClearMarkets, Daniel Savickas writes that U.S. trade policies warrant a tutorial from the late French economist.
10 Key October Events From WWI. In RealClearHistory, Brandon Christensen  highlights some of the war’s critical moments that occurred during the calendar’s 10th month. 

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Living in chaotic times, we forget that every year has terrible news and depressing headlines. It’s a big country and an even bigger world. In 2018, hurricanes have come out of nowhere while deadly earthquakes and tsunamis wreak havoc. The head of Interpol is mysteriously arrested by his own country, various world leaders apparently order the assassination of dissidents on foreign soil. At home, even amid unprecedented prosperity, Americans are at each other’s throats as a significant faction in the opposition party plots impeaching a president they despise.

But 1972 was also a year that tested the bonds of democracy -- and human endurance. Jane Fonda visited Hanoi and posed behind a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun while Henry Kissinger intimated, falsely, two weeks before the presidential election that peace was at hand.

The Democratic Party was led that year by a candidate who stumbled to find a suitable running mate, while men working on behalf of Richard Nixon committed burglaries and other crimes designed to manipulate a U.S. presidential election.

In Europe, the British Army killed 14 protesters in Northern Ireland, launching a new round of "The Troubles." Pakistan announced it was pursuing nuclear arms. Japanese terrorists attacked an airport in Israel, killing dozens of people and wounding many more. Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic Village in Munich and murdered Israeli athletes.

Natural disasters struck the Western Hemisphere. Floods in the Black Hills of South Dakota claimed 238 lives, and a week later Hurricane Agnes resulted in the deaths of another 117 people. But nothing prepared the world for the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Managua in the middle of the night on December 23.

The epicenter of the quake was not only in Nicaragua’s densely populated capital, but only nine miles below the Earth’s surface, which is shallow for a temblor of that strength. More than 100,000 people were killed and 250,000 were left homeless in a seismic event that leveled three-fourths of the city.

If Nicaragua's needs were great, so was the humanitarian impulse to respond. Puerto Rico's most popular figure, baseball star Roberto Clemente, began sending, at his own expense, private planes loaded with food, medicine, and other supplies. When he learned that the relief supplies hadn't reached the victims, Clemente personally lined up a planeload of provisions and endeavored to accompany it to Nicaragua himself. On December 31, 1972, that plane, overloaded and owned by a man with a record of substandard maintenance, departed from San Juan’s airport. It crashed soon after takeoff, killing five people, including the great Clemente, whose body was never recovered.

To this day, Clemente is revered in Carolina, his hometown located near that airport, and in all of Puerto Rico as well. This high regard extends around the globe, to wherever baseball is played: from the Caribbean islands that produce so much of MLB’s talent to Japan and beyond. In the upstate New York hamlet of Cooperstown, the Hall of Fame waived its customary waiting period and elected Clemente to the hall three months after his death.

“Baseball survives,” columnist Jimmy Cannon of the New York Journal-American wrote at the time, “because guys like Clemente still play it.” 

Carl M. Cannon 
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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