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They’ll Always Be Royals

By 10.20.14

On Tuesday night, the Kansas City Royals will host a World Series game for the first time in almost exactly 29 years.

The last time such an occurrence took place was on October 27, 1985 when in Game 7 the Royals demolished the St. Louis Cardinals 11-0 to win their first and only World Series title. Bret Saberhagen, the Royals’ 21-year old ace who would win the AL Cy Young that season, hurled a complete game, five-hit shutout. Saberhagen got Cardinals outfielder Andy Van Slyke to make the final out by hitting a fly ball into the glove of rightfielder Darryl Motley. I will always remember Saberhagen and George Brett embracing on the mound. 

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A Further Perspective

Ebola vs. ‘The Last Ship’: One of Them Isn’t Fiction

By 10.20.14

I’m embarrassed to admit that this summer I watched a new cable TV series called The Last Ship. When I stumbled on a TNT trailer of the new series featuring the use of a Navy ship and authentic shipboard scenes, I decided to watch the first episode. It was pretty lame drama, but I was hooked.

The premise of the series is that a deadly virus has spread around the world, decimating the population, and a doctor on board an uninfected U.S. naval vessel is the only hope of developing a vaccine to save the world.

The mission is simple: Find a cure. Stop the virus. Save the world. The crew of 217 men and women of the lone unaffected U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, the USS Nathan James (DDG-151), must find a way to pull humanity from the brink of extinction.

The reality of the current Ebola outbreak in Africa, which has spread to the U.S. and elsewhere, is a forceful reminder that the TV series is only fiction. This current epidemic is a very real danger that can’t be solved before the next commercial break.

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Ben Stein's Diary

About the Stock Market’s Correction

By 10.17.14

A few humble thoughts about the stock market’s recent correction:

We all knew the market was too high. You would be hard pressed to find any observer who did not think that the market was poised for a fall. So, now we have our correction.

There is no sign at this point of a drastic fall in corporate profits, the main driver of stock prices. Except in the oil sector, profits are superb. This can and will change but it has not changed yet.

There is rarely a huge correction that lingers without either a liquidity crisis — i.e., a drastic fall in available credit or else a generalized depreciation of the dollar — i.e., inflation — or a generalized depreciation in asset values, i.e., deflation. Despite much talk to the contrary, there is at this point no sign at all of general deflation in any large industrial area, and very little inflation. There is no sign of a major bank failure or a shortage of capital. Indeed, capital is cheap and plentiful worldwide.

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Special Report

The New York Times Rediscovers Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq

By 10.17.14

What a difference a decade makes! When it was first reported in May 2004 that Saddam-era chemical weapons shells had injured U.S. troops, the editors of the New York Times dismissed that, “Finding some residual weapons that had escaped a large-scale destruction program would be no great surprise and if the chemicals had degraded, no major threat.” Now, a major New York Times report on the issue has been followed by an editorial warning of “A Deadly Legacy in Iraq”: some 5,000 chemical shells have been discovered over the years in Iraq by U.S. or U.S.-trained Iraqi forces. Many more such munitions litter the wreckage of an old Iraqi weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, which the Islamic State captured in June.

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The Nation's Pulse

What a Waste It Is to Prevent Waste

By 10.17.14

Ballot questions empower voters to speak the most glorious word in the English language: No.

It’s efficient. Using just two letters it nevertheless possesses more power than any four-letter word. It’s easy to remember with its components falling sequentially in the alphabet. It’s direct. There’s no “on the other hand” or “maybe” ambiguity in “no.”

“No means no,” public-service announcements thankfully remind fraternity brothers and roofie-wielding last-call vultures. The catchphrase merits repeating on political adverts.

Denizens of Massachusetts, displeased with the state legislature repeatedly balking at expanding the bottle bill to apply to flimsy water containers, have taken their campaign directly to the people. Question 2 seeks to compel consumers to pay an extra tax when purchasing a Gatorade, Snapple, or other non-carbonated beverage not currently requiring a deposit charge. The state now charges a nickel. The initiative directs increases automatically tied to inflation.

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The Charlie Watch

Scott Hits the Fan

By 10.17.14

It’s not easy to look less coherent, less prepared, less thoughtful, more bizarre than Charlie Crist. Many veteran Charlie-watchers didn’t believe it could be done. Until Wednesday night, that is, when Republican Florida governor Rick Scott managed to pull it off.

In the first day of Electoral Politics 101 we learn that in televised debates the first rule is don’t commit a gaffe. Don’t do or say something dumb that might cost votes. Scott broke that rule Wednesday.

So many newspaper and Internet images of the Wednesday night debate at Broward College show just one candidate on the stage — Crist. That’s because for several minutes after the debate was scheduled to begin, Scott refused to take the stage. He wouldn’t come on because Crist had a small fan behind his podium. Those who’ve seen the coverage of the event know I’m not making this up.

Crist has a fan on him when he makes public talks in order not to be seen sweating. Considering the left-wing nonsense Crist is retailing these days, perhaps he should sweat. But let it pass for now.

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At Large

England and Shame: The Hamas Vote

By 10.17.14

I am half-English, half-Australian. My forebears came over with William the Conqueror from Maine and Anjou in 1066 and sank deep roots in Shropshire, the most English of English counties. My dear wife is English, and it was in England that I met her, in the lovely Cotswolds. The images of “Englishness” are deep in my whole mental makeup. I have been deeply aware of England’s contribution to what is humane and decent in civilization. When Australia had a referendum as to whether it ought to become a republic, independent of the British Crown, I did my best to work for the Royalist cause (we won).

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Special Report

Thou Shalt Not Kill: When the Communists Murdered a Priest

By 10.17.14

It was October 19, 1984—30 years ago this week. A gentle, courageous, and genuinely holy priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, age 37, found himself in a ghastly spot that, though it must have horrified him, surely did not surprise him. An unholy trinity of thugs from communist Poland’s secret police had seized and pummeled him. He was bound and gagged and stuffed into the trunk of their cream-colored Fiat 125 automobile as they roamed the countryside trying to decide where to dispatch him. This kindly priest was no less than the chaplain to the Solidarity movement, the freedom fighters who would ultimately prove fatal to Soviet communism—and not without Popieluszko’s stoic inspiration.

The ringleader this October day was Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, an agent of Poland’s SB. Unlike Jerzy, who grew up devoutly religious, Piotrowski was raised in an atheist household, which, like the communist despots who governed Poland, was an aberration in this pious Roman Catholic country. The disregard for God and morality made Piotrowski an ideal man for the grisly task ahead, which he assumed with a special, channeled viciousness.

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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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