October 5, 2012
Re "Middle class loses in his kind of 'reform,'" Column, Oct. 3 Although I haven't taken a penny from billionaire Peter G. Peterson, whom Michael Hiltzik excoriates for his deficit-reduction proposals that target social programs, I can say with confidence that Hiltzik's indefatigable defense of entitlements pivots on the myth that beneficiaries are only getting back what they are "owed. " Until the left acknowledges that these programs are massively redistributive, it is difficult to imagine how we will ever get our debt under control.
September 29, 2012
Re "What has Obama learned?," Opinion, Sept. 25 Jonah Goldberg asserts that President Obama was "easily among the least experienced major party nominees in U.S. history. " This assertion is dubious. Obama had more experience as an elected official before wining the presidency than many of his successful predecessors (nearly 11 years total - seven in the Illinois statehouse and almost four as a U.S. senator). Abraham Lincoln served eight years as an Illinois state representative and two years in the House before becoming president.
September 28, 2012 |
Beats there a Republican heart that doesn't thrill to the saga of the 1980 presidential campaign? And what a saga it is: Ronald Reagan, derided as a combination right-wing cowboy and washed-up movie actor, enters the one and only candidate debate a mere week before the election, facing all-but-certain doom against President Jimmy Carter. He then proceeds to wipe the floor of the Cleveland Convention Center with the hapless incumbent. "There you go again," he quipped, when Carter went after Reagan for alleged designs to slash Medicare.
September 21, 2012 |
BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND : Walter Johnson reenacted a mythical George Washington coin toss. Parson Weems' "A History of the Life and Death, Virtues and Exploits of General George Washington" invented what is perhaps the most famous George Washington anecdote, the tale of young George confessing to cutting down a cherry tree despite knowing that he would most likely be punished severely for his actions. However, Weems also invented a few other Washington anecdotes, including the time young George threw a silver dollar (since they didn't actually have silver dollars, it "must" have been a piece of slate the size of a silver dollar)
August 31, 2012 |
It took a long time before legendary Dodgers Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully would agree to let the club put his likeness on a bobblehead doll. So it figured that once he went along with it, he'd turn the ceremony honoring him and his figurine into something different. Instead of the traditional first-pitch ceremony before Thursday's game, Scully went to the mound, faked a huge windup and then walked over to the third-base line, where 15 of his 16 grandchildren were assembled, ages 5 to 22. He handed the ball to 15-year-old Mackenzie Luderer - who also sang the national anthem - and she relayed it to the child next to her. And so on and so on, until the last child handed the ball to Grandpa Vin. He flipped it to Manager Don Mattingly while the crowd stood on its feet and roared.
August 30, 2012 |
TAMPA, Fla. - The convention bounce is the stuff of political dreams. Buoyed by the love of fellow partisans, lofted by eager anticipation, swaddled and coddled - when was the last time anyone actually asked a tough question of a candidate at their convention, much less had the chance? - the presidential nominee soars heavenward on the wings of celebration. Then settles back to Earth. It is not unusual for a candidate to surge in polls in the days after their big party bash.
July 14, 2012 |
A hippie circus returned to the hills of Laurel Canyon about this time last year as the cast and crew of the surrealist romantic comedy "Ruby Sparks" gathered at Sid Krofft's infamous retreat. Constructed with bricks salvaged from a Catholic schoolhouse and wood from Amish farms in Mexico, the house bursts with flora and fauna and is one of the most unique in Los Angeles. Krofft, who with his brother Marty created "Land of the Lost"and "H.R. Pufnstuf" in the 1970s, rarely allows filming on the property.
July 8, 2012
They may be called "man's best friends," but dogs remain mysterious to their human companions. What do we really know about them except that they love us? Or is even that an illusion? No, says Stanley Coren, author of "Do Dogs Dream?: Nearly Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know" (W.W. Norton: 290 pp., $23.95), a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia. "Science has progressed, and we have now come to understand that dogs have all of the same brain structures that produce emotions in humans," explains Coren, although he also cautions us not to make too much of this.
June 27, 2012 |
You can take Walter Mosley out of Los Angeles - in fact, Mosley did so himself, moving to New York decades ago - but you can't take L.A. out of Walter Mosley. The master of several genres keeps the city present, from his Easy Rawlins detective novels set in black postwar Los Angeles to the Greek-myths-in-South-Central elements in one of the two novellas in his latest volume. Mosley appeared to wrap it up with Rawlins in "Blonde Faith" in 2007, but five years later, he's found more for his most famous detective to do, just as Mosley has for himself.
June 11, 2012 |
Cancer lends itself to the realms of myth. Siddhartha Mukherjee gave the disease some regal treatment in the title of his prize-winning book "The Emperor of All Maladies," but cancer's no emperor. It's a beast. Where actual mythological monsters are concerned, cancer is like the Hydra instead of the Kraken - it isn't the latter's strength that suits it, it's the Hydra's horrible ability to multiply its heads each time a hero strikes it with a sword. Or, in another mythic sphere, it possesses the dark intelligence of Tolkien's Sauron, always looming in places where one fears to find it the most.