In Memoriam

In Memoriam

Adios, Señor White Sox

By 3.3.15

So far, 2015 has been hard on Chicago baseball greats, and on true gents of the Second City. Just five weeks after the death of “Mr. Cub,” aka Ernie Banks, we have the sad news of the weekend death of Minnie Minoso, Mr. White Sox.

The two recently departed stars (comet in Minnie’s case) had a lot in common. Both the first blacks on their Major League teams. Both exceptional players. Both cheerful men who loved baseball and understood at the deepest level that the game is supposed to be fun for players and for fans. Both men loved their adopted city of Chicago and were much loved in return by Chicagoans, a tough audience by any measure. Both are now gone, but neither will be forgotten. Both have statues of themselves outside of their respective ball yards.

In Memoriam

R.I.P. Rocky Bridges

By 2.6.15

It took more than the Ted Williams, Stan Musials, Duke Sniders, Mickey Mantles, and Willie Mays of the world to make the 1950s a golden-era for baseball. “The Show” could not have gone on without the less-talented, the utility guys, the players to be named later. Guys with names like Hobie Landrith, Wayne Terwilliger, Joe Ginsberg, and Sammy Esposito. They too serve who only hit .207 and play in 30 games.

Young fans of the “Game of the Week” with Dizzy Dean and collectors of baseball cards during that idyllic decade remember these C-list spear-carriers. One of my favorites from this lot was Rocky Bridges. Bridges managed to stay in the major leagues for 11 years on minimal talent. He stayed in the game long after his playing days, coaching in the bigs for a few years and managing in the minor leagues for a few decades.

Word has just reached me that Rocky Bridges (and isn’t that a great baseball name?) died January 27 morning of natural causes in his adopted home of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He was 87 and is survived by two sons, a daughter, and a brace of grandchildren. His wife, Mary, died in 2008.

In Memoriam

The Death of Marcus Borg, Christian Panentheist

By 1.27.15

The heterodox theologian and controversialist Marcus Borg, who died recently at age 72, has been eulogized in countless blogs and articles by admirers acclaiming his spiritual insights. Others, including some theological traditionalists, have recalled him personally as kind, thoughtful, and gracious. Doubtless he was cherished by his many grieving friends and family, and may God comfort them all in their loss.

Unfortunately, Borg did not believe in the kind of personal deity, or “supernatural theism” as he derided it, who provides this kind of direct comfort to individuals. Instead, he advocated an impersonal deity understood through panentheism (distinct from straight pantheism), which asserts that all creation is a part of God. As professor at Oregon State University, and as scholar at the once widely publicized Jesus Seminar, he specialized in deconstructing traditional Christian beliefs about God, Christ, and the Bible.

In Memoriam

Doubleheaders in Heaven Now

By 1.26.15

Life is not fair, as all adults know. Many examples are put forward to illustrate this melancholy truth. For baseball fans of a certain age the argument-ender on this one is the sad fact that Ernie Banks never got to play in a World Series. In fact, one of the best players of the fifties and sixties never played in any post-season game, as most of his Hall of Fame career came before Major League Baseball went to the multi-layered post-season series format. And save for 1969, Banks’s Chicago Cubs never got past Labor Day anywhere near the top of the National League heap, or with a shot at getting there (for most years, make that Independence Day).

In Memoriam

Henry Manne: He Was Law & Economics

By 1.19.15

I first heard Henry’s name at Harvard Law School, in Victor Brudney’s Corporate Finance class. Brudney was a demanding teacher in the (Paper Chase) Kingsfield mold, and as he incorporated ideas from the finance literature in his course he had the reputation of being conservative. Not that he really was right of center. “If you think I’m right-wing, you should see this guy Manne,” he told us.

Henry Manne, you see, had written a book to defend insider trading, and that had brought down on him the wrath of the entire legal establishment. They couldn’t tell you what was wrong with insider trading, mind you, but they didn’t need to. They just knew! But while they had passion on their side, Henry had reason, the intelligence and knowledge of economics that could demonstrate just how impoverished their ideas were.

Henry was the true founder of law-and-economics, one of the most consequential schools of thought in the last 100 years. Forget literary deconstruction, feminism, gender studies, fads devoid of content or rigor. Law-and-economics has transformed the legal academy, judging, and the rules we live by. And it started with Henry.

In Memoriam

Walter Berns: Teacher, Scholar, Inspiration

By 1.15.15

Walter Berns, professor emeritus of government at Georgetown University and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, died Saturday, January 10, 2015, at the age of 95. Commentators have noted that the coincidence of his death with that of Harry Jaffa, a fellow Straussian with whom he often disagreed, evokes the providential timing of the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. For me, however, Mr. Berns — as all his students respectfully called him — was a providential figure for altogether different reasons.

In Memoriam

Remembering James B. Edwards

By 1.13.15

On the morning after Christmas, James B. Edwards passed away. Few Americans under the age of 40—unless they are South Carolinians—had probably ever heard of Jim.

Here’s the official biography: James B. Edwards was President Reagan’s original Secretary of Energy. At the age of 17, in 1944, Jim joined the U.S. Maritime Service to serve his country during World War II. Several years later, while still a Navy Reserve office, he became an oral surgeon.

In the mid-sixties, concerned about the direction of our country, he got involved in politics, first behind the scenes, then serving a term in the South Carolina State Senate. He surprised the experts in 1974 by becoming the first Republican governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction.

Limited to one four-year term by the state constitution, Jim worked to promote the presidential candidacy of Ronald Reagan. After Reagan’s election in 1980, he tapped the oral surgeon from South Carolina to be his Secretary of Energy with the mission of shutting down the Department of Energy.

In Memoriam

Death of a Great Reaganite

By 1.12.15

When I was growing up the draft was an ugly rite of passage for young men. During the 1960s and early 1970s getting a low lottery number could mean death in Vietnam. Nothing seemed likely to change in the midst of the Cold War.

But when I turned 18 in 1975 no “Uncle Sam wants you” notice arrived in the mail. The United States was defending itself as a democratic republic should defend itself: through the voluntary efforts of a free people. America had created the All-Volunteer Force—which, despite a rocky start, quickly became the finest military on the planet.

I hadn’t followed the political battle leading to the AVF, since I had been attending a small high school on a minor U.S. base in Great Britain, a bit out of the loop, so to speak. When I returned to America I didn’t know who to thank for the freedom to choose my future, though I was indeed thankful. But I met the man responsible three years later while attending Stanford Law School. 

In Memoriam

Is the American Dream Really Dead?

By 12.23.14

Last month, a professor of economics at the University of California, Davis made some headlines by basically asserting that there is no American dream. It’s a myth. He crunched the numbers, supposedly disproving it. Hmm. My dad used to always say, “Did you ever hear about the statistician who drowned in a river, the average depth of which was 6 inches?”

KOVR-TV interviewed professor Gregory Clark about his findings. He declared: “America has no higher rate of social mobility than medieval England or pre-industrial Sweden.… That’s the most difficult part about talking about social mobility is because it is shattering people’s dreams.”

Yet America has many “rags to riches” stories. The rest of this article is dedicated to one such case.

Leo Raymond was born in a Faribault, Minnesota, farmhouse Sept. 24, 1921. That town is about an hour south of the Twin Cities. He was one of six children — three boys, three girls. The farmhouse didn’t have electricity when he was growing up, nor did it have indoor plumbing.

In Memoriam

Goodbye to a Man Who Saved His Country

By 12.5.14

The Rt. Honorable R.G. Withers, Privy Councillor to the Queen, who has died in Perth, was the major figure in bringing down the Whitlam Labor Government in 1975 and saving Australia from the Whitlam’s “21 Bills” which, if passed, would have destroyed the Australian Constitution and created a statist dictatorship.

Despite his cynical and larrikin image (he was nick-named “The Toe-cutter”) Withers, who during the war had served at sea as a naval coder, was a deeply learned man with a profound knowledge of history.

This helped him see the menace to democracy of Labor’s bills and made him an advocate of impressive power. He went on to become Minister for Administrative Services but his achievement in putting backbone into the opposition to Gough Whitlam’s shambolic socialist government was probably his finest hour.

The voluminous tributes from a leftist media to Whitlam, who died a few days previously, completely failed to mention these bills, which Withers in 1975 roused the Opposition in the Senate to block.