|These pieces are written by Vanguardians who have special insight or background in specific areas. They’re for everyone to read, and if you have comments about any piece send it in as a blog, by email, to email@example.com.|
The few times I dipped into austere journals like “Fortune,” “Business Week” and “ Barrons” I invariably seemed to read glowing reports about lucky guys and gals who struck it rich on Wall Street. I looked on with wonder and, I admit, with some envy.
In the spirit of easy money was a book published in 1999 that I think deserves a little attention now that the world financial markets are quaking. The book is: “Dow 36,000” by Kevin Hassett and James Glassman. At a time that the Dow Jones industrial average stood a little above 10,000, they predicted that the Dow would sooner or later—with emphasis on sooner it seemed—reach 36,000.Here is the full title and tease on the cover of their 1999 book:They called it “The new strategy for profiting from the coming rise in the stock market.”
That was followed by these lures to the avarice in all of us:
· Why the Dow is still poised to zoom.
· Why the financial establishment is wrong.
· A radically new way to determine what stocks are really worth.
· Why stocks are actually less risky than bonds.
· How to build a maximizing portfolio and invest without fear.
I suppose in those heady days there was something comforting about the cocksuredness of comments like these:
On Page Three: “Throughout he 1980s and 1990s, as the Dow Jones industrial average rose from below 800 to above 11,000, Wall Street analysts and financial journalists warned that stocks were dangerously overvalued and that investors had been caught up in an insane euphoria. They were wrong. Stocks were undervalued then and they are undervalued now. Tomorrow stock prices could immediately double, triple, or even quadruple and still not be too expensive.”
On Page Ninety: “We can’t know for sure whether the PRP (Perfectly Reasonable Price) for the Dow is 27,000 or 54,000…anyone who claims that the market is too high today is viewing history from an outdated and flawed perspective.”
On Page 143, “It’s time to move from principle to practice—from telling you why stocks have soared in recent years and why they will soon double, triple and quadruple to telling you how to build in an investment plan to exploit the Dow 36,000 Theory and reap the profits of the historic rise in the market that’s ahead….soon, prices will rise to where they will be ‘perfectly reasonable’—around 36,000 on the Dow Jones industrial average.”There is more of this, but reading it all now makes me think that better advice once was offered by Woody Allen when he said, “Don’t invest any money with any brokerage firm in which one of the partners is named Frenchy.”
Messrs Hassett and Glassman had to lay low on the big talk for a time because not long after the book was published, the market plunged 3,000 points over the course of two years. The dot.com bubble burst, burying thousands of Web ventures and billions of investor dollars.And now we have the current meltdown. The market, which reached a high of 14,164 on Oct. 9, 2007, has been plunging ever since, devastatingly so in the last two months, and went below 9,000 a year to the day later for the first time in five years.
For all of that, the quick- riches guys have not suffered much from their “Dow 36,000” idiocy. Hassett became a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a reactionary think tank. And Glassman went on to become an executive at The New Republic and Atlantic Monthly among other publications and is regularly published in the Washington Post. Nor does Hassett seem to be embarrassed by his colossal misreading of the market. Among other keen points he has made of late was to quote a report by a University of North Carolina at Greensboro professor who found that “a temporary one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate leads to an 0.5 to 0.6 per cent reduction in the mortality rate, or about 14,000 fewer deaths per year.”And Hassett blames the current world-wide debacle on the Democrats not reigning in the Fannie May and Freddie Mac mortgage lenders.
In the face of the widespread collapses over and beyond the mortgage market now, his pronunciamentos are worthy of a classic line by the sports sage, Stanley Woodward: it would be like blaming the Johnstown flood on a leaky faucet in Altoona. It would be irrelevant to aim shots at these sitting ducks at this time except for one thing: Hassett was a financial adviser to George Bush. And he is a senior economic adviser right now to John (“The fundamentals of the economy are strong”) McCain.
By Stan Isaacs
While doing some idle reading in a book of American short stories, I came
across anew one of my favorite stories, James Thurber’s “The Catbird Seat.”
I’ve long had an affection for it because “sitting in the catbird seat” was an
expression associated with Red Barber, the southerner who became a revered Brooklyn Dodgers broadcaster in the 1940s and 1950s.
Non-baseball aficionados might remember Barber for his interesting radio chats with Bob Edwards Friday mornings on National Public Radio.
Barber is mentioned in Thurber’s story. A character, an unappealing woman,
an efficiency expert who fired people from jobs, was given to using
expressions like “sitting in the catbird,” “tearing up the pea patch” and “hollering down the rain barrel.”
They were all, another character explained, expressions that she picked up
from listening to Barber on radio broadcasts of Dodgers games. “He picked ‘em up down south.”
The story is about the improbable scheme of a Caspar Milquetoast-like clerk
to get this awful woman fired. He is successful, and in the end he is sitting in the catbird seat—sitting pretty that is.
The story was published in 1942, and reading it made me wonder at one time
if Red Barber had any contact with Thurber, the noted New Yorker writer
and cartoonist. At one point I called Barber, who was living in retirement in Tallahassee, Fla..
“I had never met Thurber,” Barber said. “A mutual friend said Thurber often
listened to the Dodgers broadcasts and wanted to meet me, but we never met. Nor did he ask permission to use the phrases for the title of the story.
“A year or so after the story was published, I read in ‘Variety’ that ‘The
Catbird Seat’ would be made into a movie. I was irritated because that might
run into money, but none for me. I sent word to Thurber that I was perturbed.
I got word back that he was angry at me for his making liberal use of my phrase. But no movie was made.
At about that time Bill Corum, the Journal American sports columnist, went
on leave and Barber was selected to write the column in the interim. “I wanted
to call the column, ‘The Catbird Seat’ ” Barber said, “but was advised by the
paper’s lawyers that I couldn’t because Thurber had a copywright on the title.
Now that was getting the goose too far from the gander.” Barber settled on “Sitting in the Catbird Seat” as his column title.
He said the term “catbird seat” came from a poker game he had been involved
in years earlier when he was broadcasting in Cincinnati. “I was losing and
tried to run a pot. I tried to bluff with a pair of eights, but a man named Frank
Koch was sitting with a pair of aces from the beginning. He raked in the
money and thanked me for building the pot. He said, ‘I was sitting in the catbird seat’. He was sitting pretty with those aces.”
Barber used another expression that found its way into literature. His use of
the word “rhubarb” as a synonym for an altercation or free-for-all was picked up by H. Allen Smith.
“One of the first persons to interview me when I came to New York,” Barber
said, “was H. Allen Smith for the World Telegram. We had a pleasant
relationship living near each other in Westchester.” Smith got Barber’s
permission to use Rhubarb as the name of a rambunctious cat who owned
a baseball team in his comic novel by that name. “Rhubarb” was made into a movie.
The expression “rhubarb” was passed on to him, Barber said, by sportswriter Tom Meany.
“He had heard it from a bartender describing a wild, bloody fight in a
Brooklyn bar not far from Ebbets Field. Brooklyn had many small houses
with gardens in those days, and they grew rhubarb, which was red and messy
inside. I guess the bartender was thinking of the bloody red color of the rhubarb when he described the bloody fight.” There’s a novel twist to all this.
Some years later Barber’s daughter, Sara, taught English at LaGuardia
Community College in Queens. When she mentioned “catbird seat” in
relation to her father, she was told somewhat indignantly by a student that her father had gotten the term from the James Thurber story.
In trying to explain the term’s origin to the skeptical students, Barber said,
“She had quite a rhubarb.”
|From David Levin:
1977: President Jimmy Carter signs the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) into Law. The law pressured financial institutions to extend home loans to those who would otherwise not qualify.
The Premise: Home ownership would improve poor and crime-ridden communities and neighborhoods in terms of crime, investment, jobs, etc.
Results: Statistics bear out that it did not help.
How did the government get so deeply involved in the housing market?
Answer: Bill Clinton wanted it that way.
Republican representative Jim Leach (IO) warned of the danger that Fannie and Freddie were changing from being agencies of the public at large to money machines for the principals and the stockholding few. 1993: Clinton
extensively rewrote Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's rules turning the quasi-private mortgage-funding firms into semi-nationalized monopolies dispensing cash and loans to large Democratic voting blocks and handing favors, jobs and contributions to political allies. This potent mix led inevitably to corruption and now the collapse of Freddie and Fannie. 1994:
Despite warnings, Clinton
unveiled his National Home-Ownership Strategy
which broadened the CRA in ways congress never intended. 1995:
Congress, about to change from a Democrat majority to Republican, Clinton
orders Robert Rubin's Treasury Dept to rewrite the rules. Robert Rubin's Treasury reworked rules, forcing banks to satisfy quotas for sub-prime and minority loans to get a satisfactory CRA rating.
The rating was key to expansion or mergers for banks. Loans began to be made on the basis of race and little else. 1997 - 1999: Clinton
, bypassing Republicans, enlisted Andrew Cuomo, then Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, allowing Freddie and Fannie to get into the sub-prime market in a BIG way. Led by Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd
, Congress doubled down on the risk by easing capital limits and allowing them to hold just 2.5% of capital to back their investments vs. 10% for banks. Since they could borrow at lower rates than banks, their enterprises boomed. With incentives in place, banks poured billions in loans into poor communities, often "no doc", "no income", requiring no money down and no verification of income.
Worse still was the cronyism: Fannie and Freddie became home to out-of work-politicians, mostly Clinton
Democrats. 384 politicians got big campaign donations from Fannie and Freddie. Over $200 million had been spent on lobbying and political activities. During the 1990's Fannie and Freddie enjoyed a subsidy of as much as $182 Billion, most of it going to principals and shareholders, not poor borrowers as claimed.
Did it work? Minorities made up 49% of the 12.5 million new homeowners but many of those loans have gone bad and the minority home ownership rates are shrinking fast. 1999:
New Treasury Secretary, Lawrence Summers, became alarmed at Fannie and Freddie's excesses. Congress held hearings the ensuing year, but nothing was done because Fannie and Freddie had donated millions to key Congressmen and radical groups, ensuring no meaningful changes would take place. "We manage our political risk with the same intensity that we manage our credit and interest rate risks," Fannie CEO Franklin Raines
, a former Clinton
official and current Barack Obama advisor, bragged to investors in 1999. 2000:
Secretary Summers sent Undersecretary Gary Gensler to Congress seeking an end to the "special status". Democrats raised a ruckus as did Fannie and Freddie, headed by politically connected CEO's who knew how to reward and punish. "We think that the statements evidence a contempt for the nation's housing and mortgage markets" Freddie spokesperson Sharon McHale said. It was the last chance during the Clinton
era for reform. 2001:
Republicans try repeatedly to bring fiscal sanity to Fannie and Freddie but Democrats blocked any attempt at reform; especially Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd
who now run key banking committees and were huge beneficiaries of campaign contributions from the mortgage giants. 2003:
President Bush proposes what the NY Times called "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago". Even after discovering a scheme by Fannie and Freddie to overstate earnings by $10.6 billion to boost their bonuses, the Democrats killed reform. 2005:
Then Fed chairman Alan Greenspan warns Congress: "We are placing the total financial system at substantial risk". Sen. McCain, with two others, sponsored a Fannie/Freddie reform bill and said, "If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole". Sen. Harry Reid accused the GOP ;of trying to "cripple the ability of Fannie and Freddie to carry out their mission of expanding home ownership" The bill went nowhere. 2007:
By now Fannie and Freddie owned or guaranteed over HALF of the $12 trillion US mortgage market. The mortgage giants, whose executive suites were top-heavy with former Democratic officials, had been working with Wall St. to repackage the bad loans and sell them to investors. As the housing market fell in 2007, sub-prime mortgage portfolios suffered major losses. The crisis was on, though it was 15 years in the making. 2008:
McCain has repeatedly called for reforming the behemoths, Bush urged reform 17 times. Still the media have repeated Democrat's talking points about this being a "Republican" disaster. A few Republicans are complicit but Fannie and Freddie were created by Democrats
, regulated by Democrats
, largely run by Democrats
and protected by Democrats
. That's why taxpayers are now being asked for $700 billion plus!!
If you doubt any of this, just click the links below and listen to your lawmakers own words. They are condemning! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68D9XrqyrWo&feature=related
# Postscript: ACORN is one of the principle beneficiaries of Fannie/ Freddie's slush funds. They are currently under indictment or investigation in many states. Barack Obama served as their legal counsel, defending their activities for several years.
By Judith Warner, NYTimes
[Continued from Blog]
Why, all of a sudden, was I experiencing this upsurge of concern and kinship? I knew, on the one hand, that this new vision of Palin had to be a mirage. Only a few hours earlier, I’d nodded along knowingly as a band of old-school liberals, gathered in my mother’s apartment to cheer her through her convalescence, tore the Alaska governor apart.
“He’s probably the first Jew she’s ever met,” one older gentleman, who himself had grown up as one of the only Jews in pre-World-War-II Lincoln, Neb., said of her meeting with Kissinger.
“No, there was Joe Lieberman,” his wife reminded him, putting me in a mind of the comedian Sara Benincasa’s utterly hilarious Palin parody, as a chorus of “despicable” and “disgusting” filled the room.
My friend Mary has long said that I have a tendency to develop a Stockholm-Syndrome-like empathy for the people I write about. But I don’t think that’s what was going on here.
I think — before I blinked — I had an actual flash of insight. I think I finally stumbled upon a major piece of the puzzle of how it is that so many Republican women can so passionately claim that Sarah Palin is someone they relate to. (It’s worth noting that polls have definitively shown that John McCain’s Palin gambit has not paid off in attracting disgruntled Democratic women voters.)
That the women who agree with Palin would also like her is not surprising. But the whole business of relating? That has remained mysterious for me. What, I’ve wondered, could the kinds of suburban moms I met, for example, at the McCain-Palin rally in Virginia, some of them former professionals with just two children apiece, one a former grad student making links between Palintology and the work of Homi Bhabha, have in common with a moose-killing Alaska frontierswoman with her five kids, five colleges and pastoral protection from witchcraft?
I think I’ve seen it now. In her own folded hands, her hopeful, yet sinking posture, her eager-to-please look. Sarah Palin is their — dare I say our? — inner Elle Woods.
I had thought of Elle Woods, the heroine of the 2001 and 2003 “Legally Blonde” and “Legally Blonde 2” films, a great deal during the week that Palin became McCain’s running mate and made her appearance at the Republican National Convention. The thoughts didn’t actually originate with Palin; my daughter Julia had recently discovered the soundtrack of “Legally Blonde: the Musical” and then the movies that inspired the Broadway show.
Re-watching the movies with Julia, I’d been surprised at how time, and motherhood, had tempered my affection for Elle Woods — a frilly, frothy blonde who charms her way into Harvard Law School and takes the stodgy intellectual elitists there by storm with her Anygirl decency and non-snooty (and not-so-credible) native intelligence.
I’d found the “Legally Blonde” movies fun the first time around. Viewing them in the company of an enraptured 11-year-old, who’d declared Elle her new “role model” after months of dreaming of growing up to be a neuroscientist in a long braid and Birkenstocks, was another story.
“You can’t,” I’d admonished Julia, “accomplish anything worthwhile in life just by being pretty and cute and clever. You have to do the work.”
“It’s just fun, Mom,” she protested.
You don’t have to be perennially pretty in pink — and ditsy and cutesy and kinda maybe stupid — to have an inner Elle Woods. Many women do. I think of Elle every time I dress up my insecurities in a nice suit. So many of us today — balancing work and family, treading water financially — feel as if we’re in over our heads, getting by on appearances while quaking inside in anticipation of utter failure. Chick lit — think of Bridget Jones, always fumbling, never quite who she should be — and in particular the newer subgenre of mom lit are filled with this kind of sentiment.
You don’t have to be female to suffer from Impostor Syndrome either — I learned the phrase only recently from a male friend, who puts a darned good face forward. But I think that women today — and perhaps in particular those who once thought they could not only do it all but do it perfectly, with virtuosity — are unique in the extent to which they bond over their sense of imposture.
I saw this feeling in Palin — in a flash, on that blue couch, catty-corner to Kissinger, as her eyes pleaded for clemency from the camera. I’ll bet you anything that her admirers — the ones whose hearts really and truly swell with a sense of kinship to her — see or sense it in her, too. They know she can’t possibly do it all — the kids, the special-needs baby, the big job, the big conversations with foreign leaders. And neither could they.
The “Legally Blonde” fairy tales spin around the idea that, because Elle believes in herself, she can do anything. Never mind the steps that she skips. Never mind the fact that — in the rarefied realms of Harvard Law and Washington policymaking — she isn’t the intellectual equal of her peers. Self-confidence conquers all! (“Of course she doesn’t have that,” said Laura Bush of Palin this week when asked if the vice presidential pick had sufficient foreign policy experience. “You know, that’s not been her role. But I think she is a very quick study.”)
Real life is different, of course, from Hollywood fantasy. Incompetence has consequences, political and personal. Glorifying or glamorizing the sense of just not being up to the tasks of life has consequences, too. It means that any woman who exudes competence will necessarily be excluded from the circle of sisterhood. We can’t afford any more of that.
Frankly, I’ve come to think, post-Kissinger, post-Katie-Couric, that Palin’s nomination isn’t just an insult to the women (and men) of America. It’s an act of cruelty toward her as well.
The Great Schlep (continued)
By Helen Isaacson
(continued from The Blog)
More than hockey moms or gun-toting God lovers, old Floridian Jews are the most important demographic in this election. They make up about 5% of the voters in a swing state with 27 electoral college votes. They never miss so much as a condo board vote and are normally reliable Democrats.
Barack Obama's trouble winning over older Jewish voters has been
difficult for pollsters to explain, so I came here this week to visit
my grandmother, Mama Ann, and find out what the hang-up is. After a
long discussion about policy, I asked her if the reason she was
leaning toward voting for McCain was because Obama is black. She
assured me that it was not. Though during dinner, she did casually
mention that her grandfather used to express a superstition that if
you ate marrow, you'd date a black man. I had no idea that for so many generations, Jews have hated marrow.
Mama Ann thought the three days of the Great Schlep would be very
effective. "Oh boy, the grandparents will start cooking three days
ahead," she said, making me worry that many Schleppers won't last
through three days of canned pineapple and dry chicken. "If they see
their grandchildren, they'll go along. They just need more assurance
on Israel." Israel, Mama Ann explained, is the key issue her condo
friends vote on. When McCain sings about bombing Iran, he is singing a sweet serenade to Florida's electoral collegians.
To persuade Mama Ann to vote for Obama, I used many of the talking
points suggested to me by Great Schlep organizer Mik Moore. These
included the fact that Obama went to Columbia and Harvard, and McCain
got bad grades in college; that Obama has been criticized by the Rev.
Jesse Jackson; and that Obama ran the business side of his campaign
better than any other candidate. I did not know that I could be so
racially offended by my own people.
After convincing Mama Ann not to vote for McCain, I then had to
persuade her not to write in Hillary Clinton, who the old Jews here
love for her feisty, scrappy Estelle Getty-ness.
Feeling confident, I headed down to the condo Hadassah meeting, where I asked some people who they were voting for. A few had Obama buttons n Hebrew. One wanted to tell me how Lyndon Johnson helped the Jews more than people know. Seven wanted to set me up with their granddaughters despite the fact that I was wearing my wedding ring.
But many more were sure Obama was Muslim and that extremist Arabs "had his ear." I strongly urge Obama to take one day off campaigning and go to a courthouse to legally change his middle name from "Hussein" to "Seriously, People, I'm Not a Muslim."
Having tackled the Hadassah meeting, I drove over to Palm Beach with Mama Ann to talk to her first cousin, Rochelle Bramsen. When
Rochelle's daughter and son-in-law, whom she lives with, argued for
Obama, she bristled. I joined in, and asked -- as suggested by the
talking points -- if she inaccurately thought Obama was a Muslim. Both
Aunt Rochelle and Mama Ann said yes, they thought he was. When we all tired of arguing about that, I asked if it would be such a big deal if
Obama were a Muslim. This was, I quickly realized, not on the list of
recommended talking points for good reason.
"For me, personally, that would be an issue," said Rochelle. Thinking
we'd trapped her in a rhetorical corner, her kids and I asked why
Muslims in office would be worse than Christians. To which Rochelle
deftly responded, "Who says I'm OK with Christians?"
Rochelle was also upset that Obama didn't wear an American flag lapel pin at first. I asked Rochelle if she wore a flag pin. "No, but I
expect more from our leaders," she said. I am pretty sure Rochelle
just doesn't trust anyone who doesn't wear at least some jewelry.
Still, by the end of our discussion, Rochelle seemed to have joined
Mama Ann as an Obama supporter. But there's a fair chance that by
Columbus Day, both Mama Ann and Aunt Rochelle will have forgotten that.
So it's important that other grandchildren -- hopefully some who are
vaguely my age and shape -- fly down here for the Great Schlep salons.
Even if they fail, they won't be sorry: I saw a movie for $3.50, had
dinner for $10 and was treated like whatever the Jewish equivalent of
a saint is by everyone in the condo complex just for stopping by. I
say we do this every Columbus Day. Next year, hopefully, we'll be
hanging poolside with retiree John McCain.
By Stan Isaacs
Walter O’Malley, the man who sold out Brooklyn, has been been voted into the baseball Hall of Fame by a veterans committee. Well, if Henry Kssinger could have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, I suppose anybody can be honored anywhere. The people in Los Angeles have been lobbying for the inclusion of O’Malley for a long time. They have helped spread two myths: 1) O’Malley deserves credit for opening baseball to the west coast. 2) Robert Moses, not O’Malley, was the villain responsible for forcing the Dodgers to desert Brooklyn.
First off, it was inevitable that baseball would expand to the west coast. It did a few years after the Dodgers’ move with the establishment of the Los Angeles Angels in the American League-- without taking a team from another city. O/Malley killed baseball’s most meaningful franchise, the one that transformed the game and the country by breaking the color line with Jackie Robinson’s emergence in Brooklyn. O’Malley slithered his way out of Brooklyn by mouthing slanderous falsehoods about Ebbets Field and the neighborhood. Because of a few isolated incidents, the impression was given that fans constantly urinated on ramps and that the neighborhood was unsafe and that the lack of parking was deadly for accommodating fans.
He trashed Ebbets Field as too old, too small to the extent that most people believed him. Lost upon many was the character of Ebbets Field, the kind of intimate charm celebrated by Boston’s Fenway Park now. Calls to build a new ball park for the Red Sox were beaten down by wiser heads, and Fenway is now the most celebrated park in baseball. Ebbets Field had aplenty what Fenway Park has. Once O’Malley smelled the golden riches of Los Angeles there was no holding him. Los Angeles offered him land in the center of the city, Chavez Ravine, that was the equivalent almost of Central Park in Manhattan.
According to one report, O’Malley told a Los Angeles county supervisor in 1956 (the Dogers left after the 1957 season) “I’m coming, but I will deny it to the press becaue I have another season to play in Ebbets Field.” In the 10 previous years before the Dodgers deserted, they were the second most profitable franchise in baseball to the Yankees. That wasn’t enough. Given the giveaway land deal in Los Angeles, he was able to obtain the funds to build his own stadium there. He also anticipated big bucks that could come from pay television in the new city. He played a con game of making people think he really wanted to stay in Brooklyn. His notorious line was, “My roots are in Brooklyn.”
I remember only too well sitting at a table with O’Malley and several New York reporters and listening to him shilly shally on the subject of leaving Brookyn. I sat there not really believing him, but also thinking that the man could not possibly move. How naive we were. Buzzy Bavasi, the Dodgers’ general manager under O’Malley, later told New York Times columnist Dave Anderson, “Walter did it for a reason: money. All those acres in downtown Los Angeles. …We had a vote among the eight top people in the front office. The vote was 8 to 1 not to go to California, but the one vote was Walter’s.”
The Los Angeles people seized on a book written by a City University professor, Neil Sullivan, in 1987, which made Moses the heavy. No doubt Moses was the power broker of New York at the time. He stood up to O’Malley’s demand for choice real estate in the heart of Brooklyn—Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues—and offered the Flushing Meadow site that eventually becamd Shea Stadium for the Mets.
In those days cities didn’t give valuable land to private baseball owners. Later, cities did roll over and awarded sweetheart deals to baseball owners threatening to move. But that has stopped now. Like Moses, citizens in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle and Miami have refused to knuckle under to grasping big league moguls. None other than Prof. Sulllivan wrote years later in a Times op-ed piece, “All stadium deals should be subjected to referendums, and politicians should be made to support the results. Let the taxpayers decide what they owe the likes of George Steinbrenner.”
The Hall of Fame veterans committee consists of former players Monte Irvin, Harmon Killebrew and Bobby Brown, executives John Harrington, Bill DeWitt, and Andy MacPhail, David Glass of WallMart, and writers Paul Hagen of Philadelphia, Rick Hummel of St. Louis and Hal McCoy of Ohio. On top of the O’Malley outrage they did not distinguish themselves by voting for the relatively inept baseball commissioner, Bowie Kuhn, and not voting for union leader Marvin Miller.
People I respect are outraged by the omission of Miller so I would go along with them, but I have no such passion. I think Miller was a great man for the players, but not necessarily for the fans. Miller helped established a strong union, seemingly loyal only to the players, often at the expense of the game and the fans. He helped enrich the players so that they command outrageous salaries now. So much so that only the richest baseball franchises—in TV rich cities, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles in particular—can bid for free agent stars. Because these free agents players can command outlandish sums, small-market cities like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Cincinnati cannot hold on to them or bid for them. They rarely can make their way into a World Series. This is blatantly unfair. Fans are often at a loss to keep up with the players’ moves. Loyalty to one’s city and fans is lost.
All this is not an attractive aspect of what we still manage to call “the grand national pastime.”