The Current Crisis

The Current Crisis

What the Obituarists Never Said About Dick Scaife

By 7.10.14

On the day after his 82nd birthday, on Independence Day to be precise, a giant passed away, Dick Scaife. The man had style. He departed decorously as the nation was happily celebrating its 238th birthday. His sense of style has not been often mentioned in the obituaries, nor have his wit and engaging warmth.

His philanthropy has been mentioned, though it is often his political philanthropy, not his cultural philanthropy. Dick came from a long line of philanthropists dating back to his grand uncle, President Calvin Coolidge’s secretary of the treasury Andrew Mellon. Dick generously supported medical research, various educational institutions, the National Gallery, a slew of Pittsburgh-based museums, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Toward the end of his life he donated to the Clinton Foundation and had a friendly meeting with Bill Clinton. He admired the President’s charitable work with the Clinton Foundation, and I have always believed he wanted to encourage Bill’s good side.

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The Current Crisis

Nazis at the Beach

By 7.2.14

BOSA, Sardinia—That is right, you read “Bosa, Sardinia.” Well, you might ask, how did I get into this place high atop vertiginous hills along the Temo River in western Sardinia with not another Yank for miles and only the Internet to keep me abreast of the Obama Terror.

My Italian adventure began last summer in Rome. There my wife and I were sitting, having dinner with an Italian friend of forty years, Antonio Martino, and his wife Carol. In his distinguished career he began teaching his Italian countrymen free market economics, which had he learned at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman. Eventually Italy came alive, and he served in the Berlusconi government as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense. Through the evening we had much to talk about, and when we shut down he invited us back to his summerhouse this summer.

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The Current Crisis

Breakfast With a Doctor

By 6.26.14

WASHINGTON—A couple of weeks ago I was lured from my customary solitary breakfast to dine with Dr. Ben Carson, the celebrated neurosurgeon and inchoate politician. He probably squirms at the appellation “politician,” but I am afraid that that is what he is going to be. In fact, a politician is what he will have to be if he acts upon his diagnosis of America. He believes America is losing touch with its founding principles.

Usually at breakfast time I am holed up with four newspapers, eggs, and coffee to gain my bearings on the day ahead. Yet, the prospect of listening to Dr. Carson overwhelmed my newspaper time. Besides, I am a confirmed hypochondriac, and Dr. Carson is a truly accomplished physician. Possibly I might gain a new insight to various afflictions.

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The Current Crisis

Kicked From Behind

By 6.18.14

WASHINGTON—Aha, Mr. Obama, how do you now like “leading from behind”?

When you first enunciated this hocus-pocus in 2011, Charles Krauthammer called it neither a theory nor a doctrine. He called it “dithering,” a style devoid of ideas. Instead of the implementation of a doctrine we have seen indecision, hesitancy, delay. In the aftermath of that delay it is too late to prevent the carnage, a carnage that did not have to take place. Iraq was stable and relatively peaceful before we led from behind. Now the country is quite possibly lost. Cartographers will be presenting the world with a new map of the area once it has been carved up.

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The Current Crisis

Hachette Heroism

By 6.12.14

WASHINGTON—There is lurking in the land a very treacherous threat to American freedoms, and only a handful of citizens seem to care. Perhaps I should say that only a handful of citizens are willing to make bold their concern. For the threat is camouflaged in the garb of “high-tech gadgetry” and the promise of instant response to the customer. Who could oppose that?

Amazon, the country’s largest bookseller controlling 40 percent of book sales in the country, wants to cap the price of e-books at $9.99. Publishers say they cannot cover their costs at $9.99 and want to charge more. If Amazon wins it comes a step closer to controlling publishing in America, both the production and the distribution of books. Think of that. One source controlling an area as vital to free thought as books.

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Return of the Liberal Death Wish

By 6.4.14

WASHINGTON—Some forty-five ago one of the era’s great wits and finest writers, the Englishman, Malcolm Muggeridge, used to write about the Liberal Death Wish. He saw the Death Wish at work everywhere. In the liberals’ appeasement of the Soviets, he saw it. In liberals’ extravagant extension of the welfare state, he saw it. For a certitude, he was right. The liberals of the day died off and were replaced by Margaret Thatcher in Britain and by Ronald Reagan in America. Not much was heard of them for years until Tony Blair and Bill Clinton came along, and both men’s liberalism was greatly truncated.

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The Current Crisis

Death On Campus

By 5.28.14

WASHINGTON—Apropos of a 22-year-old deranged student’s slaughter of his male roommates, two co-eds, and another male student, as well as leaving 13 injured and in hospital, I have been doing my research. In the courses of which, I came across this quote on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Times. A second-year student in “global studies” at the university where the crimes were committed said in the news story’s second paragraph that, “If we don’t talk misogyny now, when are we going to talk about it?” She went on in the next paragraph with similar profundities.

It put me in mind of another quote from the Times on Sunday in the op-ed section by columnist Charles M. Blow. He was commenting on the owner of the Dallas Mavericks’ allegedly “bigoted” remark (though it seemed perfectly sensible to me) a few days before. Mr. Blow said the remark typified “the endlessly ached-for, perpetually stalled ‘national conversation on race’ that many believe is needed but neglected….”

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Make Way for Hillary 2.0

By 5.21.14

WASHINGTON — As I reflect on the “inevitable” presidential candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton, I try to put it in historic context. She lacks the shifty eyes, darting hither and yon at her audience and the assembled press corps. Her brow betrays no beads of sweat. Nor is there any noticeable perspiration on her upper lip. She has never exactly said, “I’m not a crook.” Though she has certainly slipped up with plenty of other maladroit pronunciamentos, from her famous 1992 boast, “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies,” to her more recent rant before a Congressional committee investigating Benghazi: “What difference at this point does it make?” Let me hasten to answer that it does indeed make a difference how violence originates in a faraway land where four Americans were about to be murdered.

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Another Noble Quest With No Solution

By 5.15.14

WASHINGTON—The arrival last week of the enormous—829 pages!—and laborious U.S. National Climate Assessment, a report put together by 300 American worrywarts, reminds me of a little noted fact. The American left has no practical solution for many of the problems that agitate it, and that its neurotics hope will agitate us. Put another way, the left is given to setting the American people off on noble quests for which there is no solution. A case in point is global warming or climate change.

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Will Scotland Go the Way of Slovakia?

By 5.8.14

WASHINGTON—What do you think of the September vote in Great Britain to decide whether Scotland shall be free of London’s rule? Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom since 1707. Yet in September Britain will go to the polls to vote “yes” or “no” as to the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” If a majority vote “yes,” Great Britain will be great no more.

The Act of Union in 1707 was a long time ago. It ushered in over 300 years of uniting—dare I say it—two great people, the Scots and the English. The Scots may have been portrayed as a junior partner, but they held their own. Edinburgh in the 1770s came to be called “the Athens of the North,” the home for a brilliant enlightenment with great thinkers such as David Hume and Adam Smith. Over the past 300 years the Scots have made splendid contributions to philosophy, science, the arts, commerce, warfare, and—forget not—drink. To this day its leading export is whiskey, and it is very good whiskey on a par with Tennessee bourbon, maybe even better.

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