Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Only Modern Xmas Story

Dr. Black has already embedded one of the few worthwhile modern Xmas songs.* And I usually leave re-posting this story to Brad DeLong, but he appears to have gone all-in for Latin and skipped it this year. So, without further ado, Mark Evanier:

I arrived, headed for my favorite barbecue stand and, en route, noticed that Mel Torme was seated at one of the tables.

Mel Torme. My favorite singer. Just sitting there, sipping a cup of coffee, munching on an English Muffin, reading The New York Times. Mel Torme.

I had never met Mel Torme. Alas, I still haven’t and now I never will. He looked like he was engrossed in the paper that day so I didn’t stop and say, “Excuse me, I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed all your records.” I wish I had….

I waved the leader of the chorale over and directed his attention to Mr. Torme, seated about twenty yards from me.

“That’s Mel Torme down there. Do you know who he is?”

The singer was about 25 so it didn’t horrify me that he said, “No.”

I asked, “Do you know ‘The Christmas Song?'”

Again, a “No.”

I said, “That’s the one that starts, ‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…'”

“Oh, yes,” the caroler chirped. “Is that what it’s called? ‘The Christmas Song?'”

“That’s the name,” I explained. “And that man wrote it.” The singer thanked me, returned to his group for a brief huddle…and then they strolled down towards Mel Torme. I ditched the rest of my sandwich and followed, a few steps behind. As they reached their quarry, they began singing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” directly to him.

A big smile formed on Mel Torme’s face — and it wasn’t the only one around. Most of those sitting at nearby tables knew who he was and many seemed aware of the significance of singing that song to him. For those who didn’t, there was a sudden flurry of whispers: “That’s Mel Torme…he wrote that…”

As the choir reached the last chorus or two of the song, Mel got to his feet and made a little gesture that meant, “Let me sing one chorus solo.” The carolers — all still apparently unaware they were in the presence of one of the world’s great singers — looked a bit uncomfortable. I’d bet at least a couple were thinking, “Oh, no…the little fat guy wants to sing.”

But they stopped and the little fat guy started to sing…and, of course, out came this beautiful, melodic, perfectly-on-pitch voice. The look on the face of the singer I’d briefed was amazed at first…then properly impressed.

On Mr. Torme’s signal, they all joined in on the final lines: “Although it’s been said, many times, many ways…Merry Christmas to you…” Big smiles all around.

And not just from them. I looked and at all the tables surrounding the impromptu performance, I saw huge grins of delight…which segued, as the song ended, into a huge burst of applause. The whole tune only lasted about two minutes but I doubt anyone who was there will ever forget it.

Go read the whole thing. The rest of us have to abide with this:

If you liked this, please consider joining me in donations to Oxfam America or Heifer in honor of others. Which will still deliver an e-card in time for the 25 December thingie.

*The other was, of course, sung without the slightest sense of irony at soup kitchen being run at a homeless shelter by the cast of Glee.

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He’s from Georgia, but He Speaks the Language Very Well

WalterJon finds a brilliant judge’s response to a “birther” case:

The Court observes that the President defeated seven opponents in a grueling campaign for his party’s nomination that lasted more than eighteen months and cost those opponents well over $300 million. Then the President faced a formidable opponent in the general election who received $84 million to conduct his general election campaign against the President.

It would appear that ample opportunity existed for discovery of evidence that would support any contention that the President was not eligible for the office he sought. To press her “birther agenda,” Plaintiff’s counsel has filed the present action on behalf of Captain Rhodes….

The American taxpayers paid for her third and fourth years of medical school and financially supported her during her subsequent medical internship and residency program. In exchange for this valuable free medical education, Captain Rhodes agreed to serve two years in active service in the Army. She began that term of active service in July of 2008 and had no concerns about fulfilling her military obligation until she received orders notifying her that she would be deployed to Iraq in September of 2009.

Captain Rhodes does not seek a discharge from the Army; nor does she wish to be relieved entirely from her two year active service obligation. She has not previously made any official complaints regarding any orders or assignments that she has received, including orders that have been issued since President Obama became Commander in Chief. But she does not want to go to Iraq (or to any other destination where she may be in harm’s way, for that matter). Her “conscientious objections” to serving under the current Commander in Chief apparently can be accommodated as long as she is permitted to remain on American soil.

Read the whole post. And enjoy the whole decision [PDF].

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Stimulating! Stimulating! The Conservative’s Case

Andrew Samwick states the obvious, clearly and well:

I think we are now 18 months behind where we should be in moving forward with sensible government spending plans. We should have pulled the fiscal policy ripcord in January 2008 with a public investment plan designed to repair our aging infrastructure. I’d rather have the 18 months back — as would the millions of unemployed workers who could have been collecting a paycheck if we had started sooner — but the proper course of action today is the same as it was then.

You know what’s coming next, don’t you?

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The Economics of Michael Jackson

When I first heard that Michael Jackson died, I thought immediately of Chuck Sullivan. I met him once, probably in the early 1990s, after his sponsorship of The Jacksons’s Victory tour savaged his fortune. Unlike the other Moguls I Have Seen, it seemed his reversal of fortune impacted his mood. (More likely, I just caught him on a bad day.)http://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=5048766

So I decided to do an AB post about the Victory tour, which was probably the beginning of the end for MJ’s claim to being “the new Elvis,” since it was the last time he toured with his family.

Fortunately, as my Loyal Reader (a loyal Patriots fan) notes, I don’t have to. Chad Finn at the Boston Globe tells the story:

[A] disastrous business venture by the Sullivan family — the founding owners of the franchise — indirectly helped Kraft fulfill his dream of owning the Patriots….Charles Sullivan had used the stadium as collateral to fund the Jackson brothers’ Victory Tour back in 1984. Over-leveraged, Sullivan went bankrupt and was forced to sell the arena.

The rest, as they say, is HIStory.

UPDATE: More discussion of the Victory tour, the Reagan Administration, and the bitter attitude of a future Supreme Court jutice at the NYT blog h/t Greg Mitchell’s Twitter feed).

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