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Play Ball

Andrew to Swim With the Sharks

By 10.16.14

Andrew Friedman, we learned Wednesday, is changing coasts. He’s giving up the general managership of the penurious Tampa Bay Rays, who buy their rosin bags at Play It Again Sam, to take the same job with the preposterously flush Los Angeles Dodgers. Talk about a change of cultures.

Baseball wunderkind Friedman, who at 37 is as preposterously young as his new employer is rich, is leaving the peaceful backwaters of Tampa/St. Petersburg to swim with the sharks in La-La Land. It’s quite an opportunity. But his mother has every right to be worried. There will be much more money in L.A. And much more pressure.

Going from the Rays, who have to swap money around various accounts at the first of each month to keep the lights on, to the Dodgers, where the GM’s office is supplied with a legal tender printing press, Friedman is in danger of getting the bends. And just how Friedman, whose baseball talent has been getting something for next to nothing — or at least next to nothing as these things are measured in major league sports — is to fit in at a checkbook franchise, is not yet clear.

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The Great American Saloon Series

Bottle Hymn of the Republic

By 10.16.14

Long before there was a Four Seasons or a Mayflower or a Hay Adams, Washington, D.C. had only one grand hotel: the Willard. The prime spot it now occupies on Pennsylvania Avenue has housed one sort of caravanserai or another ever since 1818, when a string of modest row houses was leased for use as a hotel. By 1833 it had become the City Hotel but, like the young capital city itself, it was still cutting its teeth. In 1842, four years before it was acquired by Henry Willard, Charles Dickens described it in less than glowing terms in his American Notes:

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Political Hay

John Warner and the Ratchet Republicans

By 10.16.14

John Warner. Susan Collins. Chris Christie. The first a longtime GOP Senator from Virginia, now retired. The second the senior GOP Senator from Maine. The third the GOP Governor of New Jersey who doubles as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. And all three symbols of exactly what troubles the Republican Party, even as liberalism and its policies have led the nation and the globe into chaos.

First, the Virginia Senate race: the Republican nominee is Ed Gillespie, a Washington lobbyist, ex-White House aide, and one-time chairman of the Republican National Committee. Gillespie is hardly a fire-breathing far right-winger. Todd Akin he is not. If anything, in the establishment versus Tea Party divide that so preoccupies the media, Gillespie is the Establishment to a T. 

So one would assume that former Virginia Republican Senator John Warner, whose old seat is up for election this year, would be out there rallying to Gillespie’s side in the battle against Democrat Mark Warner (no relation).

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The Current Crisis

Stop This Voter Card Madness!

By 10.16.14

Let us put the forthcoming election into perspective. At least let us put it into perspective as the leftwing sees it.

If, way back in the 1960s, you had wanted to gain an insight into how the left was going to break society down into a series of leftwing interest groups in the decades ahead, those groups always to be harvested as voting blocs for the increasingly leftwing Democrats, you would have done well to read Kenneth Minogue’s1963 classic The Liberal Mind. There Minogue adumbrated the “suffering situation,” the left’s fanciful assortment of constituencies from the very poor in the 1960s right up to today’s poor clods who stumble into the polling booth without a voter ID card or as we say a photo ID card. This poor clod may not have a pair of shoes on his or her feet or even a handbag, but what is crucial the left tells us is that he or she cannot lay hands on a voter ID. So we, blessed with our voter ID cards, are expected to have compassion for him or her, and let the wretch vote anyway—possibly two or three times, possibly in polling booths throughout the city, possibly throughout the state.

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Ben Stein's Diary

It’s Gray in L.A.

By 10.15.14

Tuesday
A frustrating and even gruesome day.

I awakened to see that rarest of sights here in L.A. — gray skies. We need rain desperately, but I am still upset when I don’t see the sun on the cedars, palms, and jacarandas around my swimming pool.

Plus, far worse than that, I awakened to terror that I would soon run out of money because of the far, far too lavish life I lead. How did I ever get onto this treadmill within barbed wire that is my lifestyle? Just mad compulsion to live it up while I was still alive. And it’s worked well for some considerable time. My parents did just the opposite: saved and saved and who benefitted? The IRS. I did not want that to happen. But now I feel the mainspring of the clockwork running down. Less celebrity. Less acting. Many employers gone to kingdom come.

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The Charlie Watch

Give Me Liberty or Give Me the Republican?

By 10.15.14

The conventional wisdom is that in 2000 Ralph Nader spared the republic four years of Al Gore in the Oval Office. Nader’s vote total in Florida that year was small compared to the two majors, but it was a multiple of W’s winning total. And it’s hard to imagine who would have been committed to voting for Bush II until Ralph Nader became available.

Most political races these days come supplied with at least one minor party candidate, very often a Libertarian. Once again the conventional wisdom, much repeated in the media, is that Libertarian candidates take more votes away from Republicans than from Democrats, there being something close to libertarianism in the Republican’s view (much spoken of but little practiced these days) of limited government.

But hang on a minute says Nick Gillespie, editor of the libertarian magazine Reason. This bit of wisdom Gillespie suggests, in the words of the Gershwin song, “Ain’t Necessarily So.” Perhaps Republicans need not despair when a Libertarian hops into a race with them.

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Campaign Crawlers

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say

By 10.15.14

Here in Colorado, a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box: The reliably liberal Denver Post endorsed Republican Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner over incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall.

Why did this happen? Because Mark Udall’s campaign has been — as I predicted three months ago on these pages — an unrelentingly negative and mindless barrage of “war on women” drivel.

Even the Post, whose editors noted that “we disagree with (Gardner) on same-sex marriage and abortion rights,” recognized that “Udall's campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman's call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.”

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Special Report

The Synod of Confusion

By 10.15.14

The Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family was ostensibly called to address the crisis within the family. But many of the statements coming out of it can only have the effect of deepening the crisis. The Vatican has issued a draft document summarizing the Synod which contains a host of dubious ideas that appear to reaffirm the causes of the family’s collapse. It is almost as if the most influential Synod participants want to redefine the crisis as a state of health.

The document is full of “respect” for deviations from Church teaching that safeguard the family. Many of the passages read like quasi-endorsements of sin. Relationships that the Church has always regarded as affronts to God are treated as steps on the path toward holiness:

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Campus Scenes

In Our Colleges and Schools Ignorance and Indoctrination Go Hand in Hand

By 10.15.14

Goddard College’s recent decision to have its students addressed from prison by a convicted cop killer is just one of many unbelievably irresponsible self-indulgences by “educators” in our schools and colleges.

Such “educators” teach minorities born with an incredibly valuable windfall gain — American citizenship — that they are victims who have a grievance against people today who have done nothing to them, because of what other people did in other times. If those individuals who feel aggrieved could sell their American citizenship to eager buyers from around the world and leave, everybody would probably be better off. Those who leave would get not only a substantial sum of money — probably $100,000 or more — they would also get a valuable dose of reality elsewhere.

Nothing is easier than to prove that America, or any other society of human beings, is far from being the perfect gem that any of us can conjure up in our imagination. But, when you look around the world today or look back through history, you can get a very painfully sobering sense of what a challenge it can be in the real world to maintain even common decency among human beings.

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Political Hay

Grimes and Punishment

By 10.15.14

Barack Obama is no doubt heartened that his fellow Nobel laureate Paul Krugman recently declared him to be “one of the most successful Presidents in American history.”

Too bad for Obama that Krugman isn’t running in November. These days most Democrats would not place the words Obama and successful in the same sentence. Come to think of it, most Democrats dare not mention Obama’s name. Yet Krugman doesn’t seem too concerned:

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