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Indian Wells: Waiting for Djokovic

March 13th, 2014 - 3:52 pm

Folks who know me know I am a tennis geek.  It’s the one sport at which I am at least so-so.  I am miserable at most others. (Okay, I’m not bad at ping-pong and squash, but they’re related.)

I’m also a huge fan of the game, so I have been attending matches most of my life at such venues as the US Open and Wimbledon, and lesser spots like UCLA, even watching them endlessly on the Tennis Channel from places like Doha and Rotterdam.   But I had never  made the two and a half hour trek from L.A. into the desert for the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, aka the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Yesterday, however,  thanks to the kindness of an attorney friend with a pair of spectacular leftover box seats, I got into the pajamamobile with Managing Editor Aaron Hanscom and highed us down to the low desert to ogle some top-level racquet play.

Oh, what I had been missing.

Forget Wimbledon, forget Roland Garros, forget the scorching hard courts of Melbourne,  Indian Wells is THE place for tennis today.  The stadiums, old and new, are fabulous, the palm-lined grounds gorgeous, the atmosphere exciting yet relaxed, the March weather heavenly, the margaritas free flowing and the food exceptional.  Well, I assume it’s exceptional.  There is now a Nobu pop-up restaurant in the grandstands, but the lines stretched to the Mexican border, so we passed. Besides,  we could get plenty of sushi in L.A.  We were there for tennis.

And tennis we had, great tennis, about twelve nearly consecutive hours of it.   We watched four top ten players in the world play, Andy Murray losing to Milos Raonic,  Stan Wawrinka losing to Kevin Andersen and the great Roger Federer breaking the trend and defeating Tommy Haas.  Interspersed were some terrific women’s matches, but I was waiting for my personal favorite, Novak Djokovic, to play.

The magnificent Serb — who had been world number one for a couple of years to be recently overtaken by Rafa Nadal, who has been having problems of his own lately — hadn’t been at the same peerless level he was in Fall 2013, when Djokovic won 25 matches in row, many of them against top ten players.  But I was hoping he would return to form.

Due to a remarkably long women’s match Nole, as he is called, finally appeared on the court at 10:20PM to battle the surging  Croatian Milan Cilic, who stunningly dismissed Djokovic in the first set 6-1.  By this time it was nearly 11PM and, groggy, I had visions of flying off the freeway somewhere west of Magic Johnson’s beloved Morongo casino.  So we left.  But as we drove home, Aaron kept tabs on the rest of the match on my iPhone.  Not unpredictably, the DJoker turned it around and won 6-2, 6-3, setting up a possible Federer-Djkovic final.

If it happens, that should be a classic.  Too bad it will only go three sets, because Indian Wells is just a 1000 Masters event.  Three out of five are played at the slams. Speaking of which, Tennis.com’s Peter Brodo recommends that the BNP Paribas Open be made the fifth Grand Slam.  I’m right with him.

Before I end, kudos should go to Larry “Oracle” Ellison for sparing no expense in making the Tennis Garden so fantastic,  and to the Ukraine’s Alexander Dolgopolov who, now in the semi-finals, is standing tall for his country against Putin on the courts, even if our administration isn’t anywhere else.

And… don’t forget to teach your kids tennis, or get someone else to do it.  It’s the best life sport there is.  And play yourself.  Just think, besides that extra fitness boost you get over golf, you won’t have to run into a retired Barack Obama on the course.

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March 13th, 2014 - 8:45 am

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March 13th, 2014 - 8:44 am

Why Rand Paul Is Winning

March 9th, 2014 - 9:20 pm

Count me as one who was not suprised at the size of Rand Paul’s victory in the CPAC straw poll.  I’m only surprised it wasn’t bigger —  even though he nearly tripled the votes of his nearest rival Ted Cruz.

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Legal Weed? Governor Moonbeam Grows Up

March 5th, 2014 - 9:03 pm

I smoked pot in Jerry Brown’s house.

I know you’re thinking that’s just a showoff lede (and it is), but it happens to be true.

It was back in the 1970s when Jerry had a place in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon. I went to a party there that was pretty wild and virtually everyone was smoking reefer, myself included. We all did in those days, especially we wannabe screenwriters.

Jerry was the California secretary of State at the time, which gave all the cannabis toking an extra je ne sais quoi. As I recall, Jerry wasn’t even there for most of the event, though I could be mistaken. I was a little ripped.

But I did come to know Jerry very slightly over the years. Believe it or not, we had the same girlfriend (not at the same time, but serially — and not Linda Ronstadt). So I did get to hear a lot about him.

When I had the blind luck to be nominated for an Academy Award, he even ended up sitting at the same table as I did for the Governors Ball in the company of yet another date of his who had acted in the movie I co-wrote — Anjelica Huston.

Okay, I’m engaging in disgusting name-dropping, but again it’s true. Furthermore, I always found Jerry an interesting character, much more intelligent than the run of politicians, but frustrating in that his intelligence often brought him to the wrong… often idiotic… conclusions.

But lately Jerry — who is odds-on favorite to be California governor yet again — seems to have grown up a smidge, not in the sense of the famous Churchill quote that would have already made him a conservative at 40, but at least on the commonsense level.

He’s been trying to balance the budget and, surprisingly, has taken a stand against legalized marijuana — and for a reason this longtime pot user (every day for a period of ten years) finds at least partly justifiable. Quoth the once Governor Moonbeam:

“The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, [then] more than some of the potheads might be able to put together,” Brown buzzed Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

He added: “The problem with anything, a certain amount is OK. But there is a tendency to go to extremes. And all of a sudden, if there’s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation?”

Good question.

I hate to say so because I’ll lose my libertarian ID card and be banned forever from the pages of Reason magazine, but the brother is correct. Take it from me because I have been one: Potheads are blockheads. You can choose to be one if you wish, but you’re not doing you, or anybody close to you, any favors.

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Will Putin Destroy Rand Paul?

March 4th, 2014 - 9:12 pm

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Being an early frontrunner for a presidential nomination is not always a good thing and Sen. Rand Paul acknowledged as much the other night on Greta Van Susteren’s show. He must have channeled his inner Nostradamus because not more than a day later a man named Putin made his move on Ukraine. He could end up Paul’s worst nightmare.

Now, many of us have been very attracted to Paul. His libertarian message seems, and indeed is, tailor-made for this era when the monumentally incompetent Barack Obama has exposed the farcical nature of big government almost as no one before him. Obamacare is a gift from God to the libertarian movement. It helped me — and I admit I was already primed — to take another step in that direction. That government is best, as the man said, that governs least.

And yet, if there is one caveat regarding libertarianism, it is that it must end at the water’s edge. The idea that the likes of Ayatollah Khamenei or his bearded “moderate” cohort Rohani, Dr. Ayman al-Zawhiri, Bashar al-Assad, Hassan Nasrallah, North Korea’s Kim Jung-un, China’s Xi Jiping or, yes, Vladimir Putin give a rat’s patootie whether the USA is libertarian, a “liberal” welfare state, or something in between is so absurd it doesn’t merit a microsecond of serious discussion. They only care how quickly they can destroy us or, at the very least, render us impotent and take over as much of the world as they possibly can, rendering America “a pitiful, helpless giant,” as we used to say in the sixties.

Bad guys are bad guys — and that’s about it.

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White gloves versus boxing gloves.

With Vladimir Putin giving Barack Obama the back of his gloved hand in the Crimea, it’s easy to forget what the two leaders have in common. Neither of them likes democracy very much.

In Putin’s case that couldn’t be more obvious, but Obama has given more than his share of signals to that effect in recent days, informing a complaisant Congress during the State of the Union that he was going to override them and take the law into his own hands by executive fiat if they didn’t go along with his policies. His number one consigliere, Valerie Jarrett, repeated essentially the same thing during a recent interview on The O’Reilly Factor.

Unfortunately, that’s about it in the similarity department (except they both seem to like sports). In two other major categories, the dissimilarities are striking. Putin is one tough dude and a patriot for his country. Obama is neither of these. In evidence I offer one five-letter word: Syria. I could offer a lot more, but I don’t want to bore you.

The point is, as Putin threatens Ukraine and who knows what else, China moves on the Japanese islands, the Iranian mullahs jaw on while moving ever closer to nuclear capability, the already nuclear North Koreans improve their ballistics while starving their people, Venezuela approaches civil war, al-Qaeda and its myriad cousins metastasize across North Africa, the Levant, and beyond, the West has at its helm someone who is not only a documented liar (“if you like your plan,” etc., etc.) but who is also essentially a blowhard. Even worse, and ultimately even more dangerous to our health and/or survival, our president is a monumentally poor judge of character. He is clueless.

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If conservatives give up Hollywood, they give up the country. Game over.

It’s Oscar time again and, since I’m one of the half-dozen or so Academy voters to the right of Trotsky (okay, a little exaggeration there, but not much), I am often called upon to write something about it (and give my predictions) for the likes of PJM, National Review or City Journal.

But every time I do, especially here, I get a slew of comments, sometimes dozens, reading to the effect: “I hate Hollywood. I haven’t seen one of their putrid biased movies since a. The Marx Brothers’ Coconuts, b. The Best Years of Our Lives or c. when Rock Hudson and Doris Day were still in the closet.”

Well, good for you, I say. We should all do what we want with our spare time and Lord knows there are better things to do with it than watch banal liberal propaganda. Have a good time playing Chinese checkers or reading Burke — whatever, as they say, floats your boat.

But as you run your personal boycott of Hollywood, remember this. Almost everyone else you know — be it family, friends, business associates and, most especially, your children — is not. They are consuming Hollywood entertainment in mammoth gulps. And politics, as the late Andrew Breitbart said repeatedly (and he was far from the only one), is downstream of culture.

You give up Hollywood and you give up the country. Game over. And as we all know, it’s almost over already. Want that? Well, if you do, you can skip the rest of this article.

So… for those of you that are left… now more than ever is the time for conservatives and libertarians to take back at least some of the entertainment industry. Someone recently told me that Hollywood is like one of those football blowouts with a score of 90 for the liberals and 10 for the conservatives. We have to try to make it at least 70-30 (still a blowout, but there’s a glimmer of hope).

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After Ukraine, We Need an American Spring

February 23rd, 2014 - 8:58 pm

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We are not in the situation of the Ukraine, however that turns out, but the events in that Eastern European country should remind us all of the sad condition of our nation, how much we now need an American Spring in the USA.

Not a Spring like the Arab Spring, of course, which was and is a nightmare beyond anyone’s wishes, but something more like the original Prague Spring that remade the Czech Republic into the vibrant country and society it is today.

The Obama administration has been the culmination of the advancement of state intrusion into our lives that began roughly a hundred years ago and has reached such a point that the originality and the intentions of our country are barely recognizable.  The results of this have been disastrous both economically and socially, most of all in terms of the personal freedom and liberty of our citizens. We have gone backwards in many ways, not the least of which is that race relations have deteriorated during the administration of the first African-American president, largely due to state meddling. We are divided as we have never been since the Civil War, and for really no good reason.

The people aren’t the problem. It’s the state.

And in a still-growing country of over 300 million the state gets bigger and bigger and bigger just by entropy, until we are all engulfed.

We need some government, obviously, but at this point in American history, in order to save our nation, we need to get the state as much as possible out of our lives, to cut its functions with a meat cleaver to release our better impulses, to have the renewal of Spring. Deep down even some modern liberals realize this. (Bill Clinton famously said the era of big government is over before running the other way as if in fear of his own honesty.)

In this coming crucial year, those of us who feel the overweening state is the problem must reach out our hands to our fellow citizens as never before.  My sense is that many of them are ready to hear our message.  (The fiasco of Obamacare has been a gift in that regard.) And if we don’t reach out our hands, there will be no American Spring. Things will only get worse.  (The horrific attempt of the FCC to monitor newsrooms is a harbinger of totalitarian things to come.)

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Maybe it’s a rewrite of Lord Acton’s famous quote as “Pundit power tends to corrupt and absolute pundit power corrupts absolutely,” but whatever the explanation, something has happened to Bill O’Reilly. Bill has always been, shall we say, a tad narcissistic with his palaver about “looking after you” and the “no spin zone,” not to mention endlessly self-referential email praising or damning his latest co-written book or his avuncular vocabulary hints, almost always illustrated as “Don’t be a  [fill in the blank] when writing to the Factor,”  but we excused him.  He was, after all, Bill O’Reilly, the most popular of the popular and a man of many gifts. But of late he appears to have been running off the rails.

He inflated his own interview with Barack Obama, which scarcely broke any new ground, into the confrontation of the century and continues to auction off his scrawled notes for the event as if they were the Gettysburg Address.  But that’s the least of it.  Always testy, he has started to become genuinely abusive of his guests.

On Tuesday night, when discussing the latest absurdity from Oliver Stone, he began to harass Monica Crowley, seemingly not comprehending what she was saying.  That was compounded minutes later when he genuinely didn’t understand what John Stossel was saying and picked a fight with the libertarian commentator over nothing. O’Reilly didn’t even appear to get the message of Orwell’s Animal Farm. I have to assume he read it, but who knows? Both Stossel and Crowley justifiably looked perplexed but, to their credit, rolled with the punches.

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