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George Soros & The Nationals: It's Not Just Me

[June 27th] - A few weeks ago, George Soros announced that he would be part of a financial group seeking to purchase the Washington Nationals from Major League Baseball. I angrily wrote that if Soros was in any way connected with the Nats, I would again become a Braves fan. I said that it wasn't a "Republican vs Democrat" thing. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, even John Kerry could buy this team and I would support them as owners. It's not that he's a liberal, it's how he's a liberal, using groups such as Moveon.org to act in ways that is not in the best interests of this country. I received several replies on my sight, one connecting conservatives to Nazism.

Well folks, it not just me. Read the following excerpt from a national internet site regarding George Soros as a prospective owner of Washington's baseball team. It should be noted that while this story is a Republican response to Soros, several Democrats have quietly suggested that perhaps Mr. Soros is a little to much of a lightning rod for a politically benign entity such as a baseball team.

Republicans Suggest Backlash Against Baseball If Soros Group Wins Bid To Buy Nationals [Mon Jun 27 2005 09:51:22 ET]

"Despite the Washington Nationals' successful start to the season, to some Capitol Hill Republicans there is a dark cloud on the Nats' horizon: the potential that their newly adopted home team could be purchased by billionaire financier George Soros! Soros has joined an ownership bid being led by entrepreneur Jonathan Ledecky that is angling to take over the Nats, who are currently owned by Major League Baseball. ROLL CALL reports: Soros pumped more than $20 million in the last cycle into groups seeking to unseat President Bush and elect Democrats and relates that the very prospect that Soros could have a stake in the team is enough to irritate Congressional Republicans. "I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes," said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings.Davis said that if a Soros sale went through, "I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions' from anti-trust laws. Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that covers the District of Columbia budget, said if Soros buys the team and seeks public funding for a new stadium or anything else, the GOP attitude would be, "Let him pay for it."

I'm not suggesting that I like the innuendo of hostilities coming form Republican leaders. But it is expected. Soros has maintained a "trash and burn" political style which has polarized both sides of the spectrum. The folks at Major League Baseball needs to be very careful when choosing the new owner for the first place Nationals.
************************************************************************************* Monday evening update: I received a reply on this story from reader "Scott," who believed that my concerns about George Soros and his possible ownership of the Nationals were "absurd" and Scott informed that he will never read my blog again.

Thank you Scott; you proved my point. Obviously, Scott has been a regular reader of my blog, but once my site became something he no longer wanted to support, he changed allegiances and will get his information somewhere else. I, on the other hand, said that if the Nationals turn into something that I don't like, I would stop supporting them. Scott is angry at my "absurd" position, yet he did to me exactly what I threatened to do to a Soros led Nationals team. All of us have a choice in the marketplace, whether is it the marketplace of ideas or blogs or baseball teams. It would be wrong of me to support a team whose owner I so disagree with, just as Scott made that choice regarding me. Thanks Scott. We're really both on the same page here. We'll miss you.

*************************************************************************************


Comments:
Go ahead and stop rooting for the Nats if Soros becomes their owner. I'm going to stop reading your blog because you've taken such an absurd position.
 
Well, I have to sincerely and strongly disagree here. Yes, George Soros donates heavily to Democratic interest groups. That is the main reason why the Republicans oppose him, not for any specific tactics and not for anything he has done personally. This is akin to the Grover Norquist project, in which K Street lobby groups were told that if they had voting Democrats in their ranks, they would not get the attention of Republican members of Congress. Not that those Democrats were bad people, or that Republicans disagreed with them on the specific issues that they lobbied for. Just that they were Democrats. George Soros has donated to moveon.org and other groups that have made gross mistakes (in my opinion) in tactics. So have Bill Clinton and Al Gore and Vernon Jordan, who is part of another buyers group. The difference is that Soros donated more money. Much more. That's because he has more money. That he a lot of money that he gives to Democrats is why Republicans don't like him.
He has given a lot (by my standards) of money to Democratic interest groups. What he has given much more money to is Eastern European NGOs. Much more. In fact, more than a quarter of his fortune has been donated to building hospitals and school and universities and shelters and economic infratructure and museums and orphanages in Eastern Europe. That, during a period when this country, under Presidents Clinton and Bush decided to completely ignore the devastation in that part of the world caused by the fall of communism, in part because they had no significant interest group here in the States promoting them. When compared to that philanthopy, Soros' donations to left-leaning interest groups are a drop in the bucket of how Soros chooses to give away his hard-earned cash, not a cent of which was inherited or earned unscrupulously.
Now, none of his donations to left-leaning interest groups disqualify him as an MLB owner, and none of his philanthropy would make him a good one. So I see no reason to judge him or the Washington Nationals on those criteria. I don't think your position is "absurd," but I do think it is ill-conceived. I don't think George Soros will be asking his players to hit only to left field, and I doubt he'll have a giant donkey painted on the infield grass.
That all being said, I have every intention of continuing to read your blog. Indeed, I write this in the hopes that you will change your mind and remain a fan even if Soros is part of the new owner's group, and continue providing this invaluable service.
 
No, actually your response to my comment proved my point. The mocking tone of your update (as well as Dimitri's more focused reply) illustrate exactly how silly it is to stop supporting a team because of who owns it. By comparing your decision to my decision, you miss the crucial point: a baseball team is completely different from a blog.

Not to denigrate your blog, but I would guess that your allegiance and love for the Nationals is probably stronger than my fondness for The Beltway Boys. So it should be much easier for me to stop reading than it is for you to stop rooting. And, because there's only one baseball team in Washington, DC, but there are at least 12 Nationals blogs that I read regularly, the "marketplaces" to which you refer are actually nothing alike. Finally (and most importantly), bloggers control the content of their blogs based on their viewpoints, so it makes sense to choose who to read and not read based on whether or not you agree with that viewpoint. This is not so with baseball teams. As Dimitri points out, Soros is not going to paint a big donkey in the grass. Nor is he going to tell Robinson when to bunt. He will be behind the scenes, not affecting the "content" of the Nationals at all.

That's why I wrote my comment. I may stop reading your blog (probably not), but if I did, it would make sense because of the nature of the medium. But your comparison of your decision to mine (which I prompted), illustrates the absurdity of you doing the same thing, based on the same premise, with a baseball team.
 
Thank you for your comments, gentlemen. Your thoughts were well reasoned and passionate. I respect and admire that.

That said, may I respectfully remind you that of the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millons of Democrats in this country, I named 1, ONE, who I could not support. He was the one who chose to hold that press conference to announce he was giving countless millions of his dollars to create a system to defeat George Bush. It was this attempt to use his money to change an election that I have a problem with, not the fact he is a Democrat. Had a Republican made that same announcement and utilized those types of dollars, you can believe I'd be writing about him.

Isn't this a great country where we can disagree and walk away respecting each other's views?
 
Farid --

I would not be happy if Soros owned the Nats, but simply because I view the Nats as my refuge from politics in this town. And I can support your decision to chose not to support the team based on the owner. Yet I am somewhat discomforted by the House GOPers commenting on this matter. I am generally nervous when politicos intrude on what should by private financial dealings (see also, Kelo v. New London). So I would like the GOP to shut up on this.

And while I would be uncomfortable is Soros owned the Nats, I would LOVE if DNC Chair Dean was part of the ownership group. That would be awesome. (GOP equivalent? I dunno, maybe O'Rourke or someone).
 
What these Republicans fail to mention is that Gen. Colin Powell has similarly joined an opposing bidding group...headed by GWB's old buddy and Texas Rangers co-owner Fred Malek. (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/25/AR2005052501427.html) Malek's Republican heritage goes back to the Nixon Administration, and was even picked by the first President George Bush to be Deputy Chairman of the RNC in 1988...a position from which he had to resign when the Washington Post reported that President Nixon had asked him as White House Personnel Chief to count the Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics...a task he promptly carried out. (There's an interesting Slate article on this at http://slate.msn.com/id/2058486/) Malek went on to run the Republican Convention of that year, and became President George HW Bush's campaign manager in 1992.

Look, these politically charged individuals don't have any other motive other than to own part of a major league baseball team based on solid financial decisions. It's BUSINESS, and politics should not play a part in this...especially since it's baseball. I know fans invest a lot of emotion on their beloved teams, but the (potential) owners don't make their decisions based on anything other than the prospect of making money or adding to their holdings. There may be a romantic edge to it, but I guarantee none of these guys are doing it just so they can say that they partly own a baseball team.

Soros would only be part of a large group of investors anyway...it's not like he'd be calling the shots or making all the money. Please put away your politics when talking about baseball.
 
It's hard to put away politics when we're talking baseball in Washington D.C.

Many liberals are upset because I cannot separate baseball from politics, that I should be able to support the Nats without being concerned about Soros. To them I say: How many liberals and interest groups not only boycott existing Wal-Marts, but work to keep Wal-Marts out of their communities because of "politics?" "Their products are made by slave labor," "They run out the independent stores," etc, etc.

I guess it must be OK to boycott Wal-Mart because of politics, but it's not if it's "just" baseball?

I support [but disagree with]a liberals decision to boycott Wal-Mart, so why can't the liberals support [but disagree with] my unwillingness to do business with the Nationals if they are in some way part of the Soros empire?

It's all about being fair, and not about politics.
 
First of all, please do not assume that those who could care less about Soros being involved in the Nats ownwership are automatically "liberals"...that's just a talking point. You must agree that politics is a zero sum game...groups on BOTH sides of the aisle are complicit in equally dispicable acts to gain power.

I just don't get where you pulled the Wal-Mart example from. Wal-Mart is a global retail distribution chain...the Nationals are a frickin' baseball team! Those who decry the "politics" behind Wal-Mart cite the fact it has the potential to affect the lives of millions of people. The Nationals are simply entertainment...as much as we may love them. Wal-Mart's economic impact is many orders of magnitude greater than all of MLB. Those who boycott Wal-Mart sincerely believe that vast amounts of people and large geographic areas are negatively impacted. You simply state you don't like the fact that Soros donated money to groups with whom you are opposed idealogically. You think those are the same? Besides, the "politics" at play here are simply partisan whining...not issues of perceived corporate greed. You can't play the "fairness" card unless you can come up with a valid comparison.

Since we're talking about baseball, it would be more appropriate for you to oppose the bidding group if you had a potential problem with Jonathon Ledecky's ability to run a successful sports team, or something to that effect.
 
Farid:

Drop the team if you like. It's your call, your time, your money, etc. Personally, what makes me uncomfortable republicans in congress trying to use their political power to influence the sale of a baseball team by threatening to pull the anti-trust exemption. Sally Jenkins' article in the Post today addresses this issue pretty well.

I grew up in DC. I'm back here for the summer, loving the Nats and my city and all of us lifetime Washingtonians, us "townies," having something new and wonderful of our own. Untill this summer, you only knew who grew up here during Redskins season.

For all of my life, so many aspects of life in DC have been controlled by people who couldn't care less about the city and its people. We are so often pawns used to make some political point. We can't vote. For a while there we couldn't govern ourselves. There was an attempt to change the gun laws here in order to score points with the NRA, and the people behing that push probably weren't around when DC was the "Murder Capital" of the US. I won't even get into Angelos acting like he owns us....

Members of Congress will come and go. We live here. This is our business. The owner of the Nationals should not be decided by an executive appointment with the advice and consent of the senate. I don't care which politician gets money from the new Nats owner every 4 years in November....I just care which pitchers get money from the new Nats owners every year through October..
 
dj bot wheaton,
Thank you! It is my decision and I'm comfortable with it. What none of the "anti Farid" posters noticed was that I too voiced my concern that politicians were getting involved with veiled threats regarding the "exemption clause" et al. It's perfectly ok for a citizen to boycott, but our government has no reason sticking their nose into it, even though the congressman said they were acting as "private citizens." Yeah, right.

You sir are wise beyond your years.
Farid
 
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