It’s always something.
Here I am at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. Did I tell you I was on the same floor as the Lakers and also, on a separate mission, Matt Damon? Anyway, I am. I met a whole bunch of Laker people on the elevator. I was amazed to learn that they had no curfew. “We try to assume they are grown-ups and will act like grown-ups,” said one of their coaches (not Phil Jackson ).
This hotel is truly phenomenally comfortable. I strongly recommend it to anyone who needs to stay in the Windy City. It is a bit expensive, but it may be as good a hotel as I have ever encountered.
I got up this morning and betook myself to a place called “The Casino Club,” where I met a group of about 150 extremely, and I mean, EXTREMELY, successful businessmen, investors, entrepreneurs, and industrialists. Wow, as I moved among them and heard their stories, I was just flabbergasted at how successful they are.
It is amazing to me how many different nooks and crannies there are in the economy, and if you make money in one of them, you often have the skills to make money in another of them and then maybe a whole lot more of them.
My host, a handsome, genial fellow named Jay Jordan, seems to own about half of the businesses on the planet. The man on my left, a Mr. Joe Steinberg, seems to own the other half. They were both super chatty and friendly. Interestingly enough, they were both pals of my old nemesis, Michael R. Milken. They spoke so glowingly about him, though, that I could not bring myself to disagree. He had raised money for them, helped them get deals done, seemingly behaved ex-tremely well toward them, although he had been a fierce negotiator.
I suppose that if Mr. Milken had helped me to become a successful businessman, I would be fond of him, too. Maybe even very fond.
Life is personal, and not political, as Wlady said long ago. Life is also personal and not theoretical. If people help you, you like them. Long, long ago, a truly great writer named Herbert Gold, author of one of the best novels I have ever read, Swifty the Magician, said, “If a man chooses truth over his father, that man is a fool.” I am sure that if a man chooses some minor quibble about bond default rates over his friends, he is also making a mistake.
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that truth is relative. There is a great story about Jesus before Pilate in the New Testament. Pilate says that Jesus has been saying he’s the King of the Jews. Jesus says that’s not so, that he’s only been saying what he believes in, and that’s the truth.
Pilate replies, in a highly poeticized version not word for word what is in the Bible, “But what is truth? Is it unchanging law? We all have truths. Are mine the same as yours?”
(This is from the brilliant musical, Jesus Christ Superstar. In the New Testament, I believe, “jesting” Pilate simply asks, “What is truth?”)
In any event, the event went extremely well and the audience was super-smart, as you would expect. There were truly fabulously rich people there like the Pritzkers, real estate titans; Lester Crown, immense industrialist; Ken Griffin, billionaire hedge fund genius; and other hugely affluent people. I feel gratified that they considered listening to me worthy of their time and attention.
I really hope I can stay in touch with Jay. He impresses me, and even though he’s a bit younger than I am, I feel as if I could learn a lot from him.
They are rich, but are they happy? I don’t know but they sure looked happy. I am not sure I have ever seen a happier-looking group of men. Money is not enough by itself to make people happy, but these people sure do look assured, and that is a part of happy. A big part.
Anyway, off to ORD. I stopped once inside the airport, as usual, at the Prairie Tap, a fine bar/restaurant between the H and K gates at American, and I had a steak sandwich. It was beyond good. If truth be told, if I had not been embarrassed to do so, I would have had two. That’s how good they are. I am sure they are bad for me, but do they ever taste good.
Then off to the gate for a long wait for our delayed flight. The only seats were for handicapped. Four slovenly-looking young men just blithely took them and lounged on them. Maddening.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?