Last week Prince Charles, in all likelihood the next monarch of Great Britain, suffered a defeat. For ten years he and his aides have resisted a concerted effort to make public certain letters written by him and sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair and several of his ministers. The British newspaper, the Guardian, had sought the letters—27 written in 2004 and 2005—under a Freedom of Information Act inquiry. Now Britain’s Supreme Court has ordered that the letters be released to the public. So this is one the royals lost and the anti-monarchists at the Guardian won. Yet, asking as purely a cisatlantic spectator, I cannot for the life of me discern why the Guardian sought these letters in the first place; or, for that matter, why Prince Charles objected to making them public.
The Current Crisis
In this land of capitalist chaos there is something quaint about Bernard Sanders, the senator from Vermont, running for the Democratic presidential nomination as a Socialist. He is not running as a liberal or a progressive, or even a vegetarian, but as a Socialist! Apparently he envisages the federal government as being populated by a very professional bureaucracy, utterly removed from politics, its members all waiting orders from the incoming government, whether their president be an out-and-out capitalist or even a very abstemious Socialist. There the federal bureaucracy stands, waiting to do its president’s bidding!
Of course, recently we have learned from the scandals at the IRS and the VA that Washington’s bureaucracy is more likely composed of venal money-grubbers and Democratic Party hacks, but Senator Sanders can view them as a saintly corps if he wants. That does not mean that he will be playing a minor role in this election cycle. He will. His role is just not going to be that of the Democratic presidential nominee.
It turns out that 17 years ago Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr was lucky that, at the end of his long pursuit of President Bill Clinton, he could fasten upon a DNA sample left by the president on Monica Lewinsky’s dress to prove that Clinton was lying when he said “I did not have sexual relations with woman, Miss Lewinsky.” Otherwise Starr might still be pursuing the wily ex-president.
Does it strike you as an indication of a political party’s robust vitality that in a country of more than 300 million people that party has just one likely nominee for president? Notwithstanding the fact that she has at her disposal nearly a billion dollars, she is 67 years old, and she stands accused of committing at least one felony. What country are we talking about, the old USSR? No, we are talking about the contemporary U.S. of A.
Notwithstanding what the Marxist whim wham artists have been telling the youths of our country for over a generation, there has been little sign of a true aristocracy in America. For a very short period of time something like an aristocracy appeared during the era when the Robber Barons plied their arts, but it did not last. They built their palaces and raised their empires among the steel mills, the transcontinental railroads, the oil fields, and so forth, but then they declined, submerged in the hustle and bustle of the market place. Their monuments remain as various museums and libraries and even universities, for instance, Vanderbilt University, but for the most part American aristocracy is gone. Allons-y, Messrs. Vanderbilt, Morgan, Carnegie and the rest, but thanks for the museums, the libraries, and the increasingly irrelevant universities.
Does anyone remember what it was that turned America hostile toward the tropical paradise of Cuba? Our President tells us that “we’re caught in a time warp, going back to the 1950s and gunboat diplomacy, and ‘Yanquis’ and the Cold War.” Yes, really, “gunboat diplomacy.” That is how University of Chicago adjunct law professors talk about American foreign policy. And he adds, “Sometimes those controversies date back to before I was born.” So, what got America so riled up over the Castro brothers and Cuban communists even before Barack Obama was born?
Some of my most cherished lines from President Bill Clinton’s presidency had nothing to do with women with whom he did or did not have sexual relations. Rather, they were inspired by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that he signed on the White House South Lawn on November 16, 1993. At the time there was not much controversy about what he then said, but they are admirable lines nonetheless. Today they might be deemed heroic lines.
What is going on in American politics of late? There has not emerged a truly goofball politician since Anthony Weiner, the congressman and later New York mayoral candidate who could not resist sending pictures of his private part so frequently and to so many women, that it really was no longer a private part but rather a public spectacle. Go ahead, Google it. In fact, Yahoo it. My guess is there are dozens of pictures of Weiner’s public private part all over the Internet.
What do you know, the world’s leading reformer of Islam is turning out to be a general. He is not a learned mullah. He is not a suicide bomber. He does not even have a weaponized bicycle. He is Egypt’s General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who, somewhat reminiscent of our own General George Washington, turned in his uniform for civilian garb and was elected president of Egypt with a huge majority.
President Sisi’s new role as reformer should not be terribly surprising. After all, the last great reformer in the Arab world was the Egyptian statesman Anwar Sadat. Sadat restricted his reforms to politics, initiating a démarche with Israel. Those reforms ended abruptly when assassins shot him as he appeared at a public ceremony in Cairo in 1981. To be sure President Sisi’s reforms are political, but they are also religious. He has called upon religious clerics assembled at the premier Cairo university of Al-Azhar to commit Islam to a “revolution.”
A couple of months back in our nation’s capital Senator Rand Paul spoke at The American Spectator’s annual Robert L. Bartley dinner and wowed the crowd. However, at the end of his rousing speech he assumed a more somber tone as he spoke about the plight of America’s poor, particularly the poor who commit petty crime. He expanded his remarks to include those who commit petty crime in general and find themselves committed to the unwelcoming doors of the American prison system from which they emerge often only infrequently. Our American prison system turns out to be a place with little to offer save for an advanced degree in criminality. If one were intent on entering a life of crime, one might begin in an American prison.