Allow me, please, two short sports stories to tee-up a topic as far from sports as it's possible to get; namely, the survival of the United States. The theme of these two stories is identical: miraculous, unexpected opportunity.
In the World Series of 1941 the New York Yankees were leading the Brooklyn Dodgers two games to one. In game four, the Dodgers were ahead by a run in the top of the ninth inning. The Yankees had two outs and the count on the batter, Tommy Henrich, was three and two. It looked like the Dodgers were about to tie things up.
On the next pitch, Henrich swung and missed. Game over, right? Not quite. The Dodger catcher, Mickey Owen dropped the ball. It rarely comes up, and a lot of worthy baseball fans don't even know this, but if the catcher drops the ball after a swing and a miss on strike three, the batter can run toward first base.
If he gets there before the catcher scrambles and retrieves the ball and gets it into the first baseman's mitt, the runner is safe, just as if he'd knocked a base hit. Henrich made it to first.
That turned tired Yankee blood into sparkling burgundy and they went on to score four more runs and win the game. The next day they finished off the Series with a victory. Miraculous, unexpected opportunity.
Professional football answered about 35 years later in the New Jersey Meadowlands.
The New York Giants were leading the Philadelphia Eagles 17-12 with only about eight seconds remaining in the game. The Giants had the ball, and the Eagles had no more time outs.
That meant the game was won. All the Giants had to do was snap the ball and let the quarterback "take a knee," kneel down to the ground and let the clock run out.
However (and you can bet this will never ever happen again) somebody in the Giants' huddle mistakenly thought he saw a signal from the bench that the coach wanted them to run another play. Why? they wondered. It made no sense at all. But when you're a soldier or a football player you obey orders.
So the Giants ran a play. And they fumbled. A plain old vanilla fumble, where the other team recovered the ball, wouldn't have mattered; because the clock would have run out and the Giants would have won anyhow.
This fumble was not vanilla. It was rocky-road.
The ball was picked up by defensive linebacker Herm Edwards (who went on to become head coach of the New York Jets and is now head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs), who ran the ball into the end zone for an Eagle touchdown and the game! Again, miraculous, unexpected opportunity.
Moving briskly now from sports to the real world; a scant month before America's presidential election, the economy takes the ugliest tumble since the Great Depression. So, we have miraculous, unexpected opportunity giving new life to the New York Yankees, the Philadelphia Eagles and now World communism!
The so-called "collapse of communism" in 1991 was really a set-back for European communism. Communism remained unshaken in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Cuba. Who but the terminally naïve could suppose all those who ran, managed, and supported communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe had all sincerely repented and were now cheerful social Democrats?
They joke that the shortest measurable unit of time — the nanosecond — had been superseded by the shortness of time between the New York stoplight turning green and the driver behind you honking his horn.
Now that title-holder has been toppled by the shortness of time between America's economic comeuppance and the battlecry "Capitalism has fallen!" it's coming at us from all over. "They say communism collapsed. Well, now capitalism has collapsed. So now we're even!"
Whether you're a New York Yankee, a Philadelphia Eagle or a communist, it must be nice to have what you thought was defeat suddenly whitewashed glistening clean again. But there were four extremely painful sore spots that communism could never explain.
They were: East Berlin's drab poverty alongside West Berlin's throbbing prosperity; British-controlled Hong Kong's dazzling economic success nestled in the busom of China's totalitarian failure; Finland's prosperity and freedom alongside the communist Soviet Union's depravity (even though both countries started their national lives the very same day and Finland lost two wars to the Soviet Union and, with a population half that of Chicago, had to pay $350,000,000 reparations to Moscow); and, finally, Cuba, whose pre-communist standard of living compared well to that of Western Europe only to be dumped by communism into that of the Third World.
All that's forgotten and forgiven now by the abrupt "collapse of capitalism."
You can be sure those on the newly-invigorated far-left won't utter the word "communism." Nor will we likely hear praise for the arrival of "socialism."
It will sound more like "It's time we took a fresh hard look at the relationship between government and big business and financial institutions," followed by what Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls, not "bailouts," but "buy-ins" along with massive government infusions of cash into the humbled elephants of the economy.
We're already hearing about "greedy, predatory lenders" a lot more than we're hearing "politically-correct arm-twisting to grant mortgages to those unlikely to be able to pay." And let history note that almost a full month prior to the election of 2008, Barack Obama said the theretofore unsayable, namely, "We intend to redistribute the wealth!"
Obama had a few days earlier said of the bailouts, "We've got to make sure the American people are treated like investors," Will someone tell him that foremost among the proper treatments of investors is that their investment shall be voluntary!
It's accepted that roses under any other name offer forth the identical fragrance. The universal stench of communist failure is no different. Under any name it remains the greatest consumer fraud in history.
Will the American masses get sucked up the collectivist exhaust pipe? Or will we show the wisdom and courage to emulate the recalcitrant 6-year-old who told his importuning mother at the dinner table, "I still say it's spinach, and I still say to hell with it!"
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