The Current Crisis

The Current Crisis

Marijuana vs. Scotch and a Low IQ

By 8.20.14

Turning once again to what the sociologists call “coping mechanisms”: there is marijuana and then there is alcohol. They are increasingly the civilized options.

Consider alcohol. Consider a suave scotch and soda. One does not sit down to a scotch and soda to get blitzed, unless one is a veritable drunk. One sits down and sips a scotch and soda while conversing with friends. Perhaps one reads a book. One enjoys the scotch for the taste. With scotch there are scores of different tastes. One drinks a single malt. One drinks a blend. The same is true with bourbon and all manner of alcoholic drinks. One imbibes for the taste, then for the refreshment, finally for the relaxed feeling it imparts. Very very finally, some drinkers drink a scotch and soda to get blitzed and drop out. Maybe the pathetico drinks to pass out or to throw up. A true alcoholic is a sad spectacle. A drunk is a person who has ruined many a good drink.

The Current Crisis

Hillary’s Neocon Moment

By 8.13.14

Is it not a thing of wonderment that the two leading families of the Party of the Poor and Down-and-Out are ending the summer in Martha’s Vineyard? Both the Obamas and the Clintons are renting spacious mansions, probably from Wall Streeters, on that enchanted isle and playing golf and tennis, and—who knows—croquet, just like the Rockefellers or Vanderbilts. Yet do not expect them to be dining together in the moonlight. In fact, relations between them have turned downright hostile.

Hillary this week has made it all but final. She is a neoconservative, a genuine, twenty-four carat, neoconservative! She has all the credentials. Back in the 1970s Irving Kristol, the official godfather of neoconservatism, defined a neoconservative as a liberal who has been mugged by reality. By that definition a mere believer in muscular foreign policy pronouncements is no neoconservative. Perhaps he or she is a hawk but not a neoconservative. To be a true neocon one has to have once been a liberal—preferably a Trotskyite—and to have come to one’s conversion in fits and starts. Well, Hillary certainly fills the bill complete with fits and starts.

The Current Crisis

Philanthropy Over Politics

By 8.6.14

One would never guess who attended Dick Scaife’s memorial service on the Pennsylvania countryside last week. Scaife has been referred to as the “father of modern conservatism.” In his lifetime he donated a fortune across a whole range of philanthropic endeavors, from the arts to medical research to politics—conservative politics. His conservative causes were very elevated—sophisticated thinks tanks, professorial chairs, intellectual reviews—but also at times they were very partisan. In the 1990s Scaife was a leading opponent of Bill Clinton, and he frequently drew blood. When Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” she doubtless had him in mind.

The Current Crisis

Why Exposés of the Clintons Fail

By 7.31.14

In dipping into Daniel Halper’s interesting new book about the Clintons’ return from the grave that they had dug for themselves during their White House years (from an approval rating of 66 percent after his impeachment he plummeted to 39 percent upon leaving the White House to a chorus of pardon-induced Bronx cheers), a thought occurs: We have been reading these exposés about the malfeasance of the most corrupt presidential family in American history for over two decades! For some reason the scandals that these books reveal never sinks into the American mind. Today, despite Bill Clinton’s public record of shoddy financial deals, brutal politics, and endless abuse of women, he is the most beloved of recent presidents.

The Current Crisis

In the Middle East, A New Alignment Being Born?

By 7.23.14

It did not take all that long, when you think about it, for America’s Nobel Prize-winning statesman to bring the world to a boil. Perhaps our Nobel Prize-wining president was only a community organizer all along. He has brought the world to a boil not by his use of force but by his inattentiveness. He has been playing golf or lecturing the world from a higher plain. He has been picking fights with the Republicans or devising new ways to thwart the Constitution. He has not reacted to provocations around the world that threaten peace and our allies. The allies are beginning to worry.

The President has simply failed to respond to an outburst of violence around the world. It is an outburst that has not been seen since the 1970s. His only reaction is mere rhetoric, sometimes no rhetoric at all. Sometimes he changes the subject. Whether it be mobs of Central American children at our southern border or armed rebels in Ukraine shooting commercial aircraft out of the skies there is only emollient talk from Washington. There is no alternative policy. Things are getting worse.

The Current Crisis

The Playboy Presidents

By 7.16.14

I have been vindicated! For years I have been comparing the Clinton family to the family of Warren Gamaliel Harding, our 29th president and a president of dark memory at least to most liberal historians. For me Warren was sheer slapstick, as to some degree his modern-day equivalent was, Bill Clinton. And forget not their gruesome wives.

I began my historical comparisons in the 1996 bestselling book, Boy Clinton: The Political Biography. For years I punctuated my syndicated column with references to the two families. Then in my 2007 book, The Clinton Crack-Up,I clinched the comparison in a reminder of how that Little Rock monstrosity, the Clinton Library, compared so favorably with the Harding Memorial in Warren’s hometown, Marion, Ohio. But now, you ask, how am I vindicated? Well, America’s historical memory is not very strong. Comparing Bill with a 1920s president to a modern American audience was not easy. Yet, by month’s end it will be much easier. In fact, the comparison will be inescapable.

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.

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.

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.

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.