January 02, 2010
Let’s start 2010 right and mention a few honest people in the news…
I wrote this sentence a couple of hours ago, not realizing how difficult it was going to be to find even one honest boldfaced name. Like old Diogenes, I am still looking as my deadline nears. Which reminds me: The white-bearded old Greek at least had a trademark lamp to help him in his search, something I refuse to carry as it gets in the way, especially when trying to ski. Diogenes credited his teacher Antisthenes with introducing him to a life of poverty and happiness—the two went in hand—but the Greek should thank God he lived 2,300 years ago. In today’s Olive Republic, poverty and unhappiness are one, and when I say poverty, I mean when people cannot pay for a third home, a yacht, and a fourth family car. So forget what I just wrote about starting the New Year right. There are honest people strewed all around the world, but I’ll be damned if we ever hear or read about them.
When Greek premier George Papandreou recently said that Greece is corrupt, it was the first truth uttered by a Greek politician since the spring of 1946, when my uncle took the oath of office. By acknowledging to his European Union peers that the Greek public sector was corrupt, Papandreou was using a redundancy of expression—a pleonasm—as everyone knows that a Greek public servant and corruption are one. The trouble is that there is nothing he can do about it. His old man, now gone below, and his rival, the fat and incompetent Costa Karamanlis, procured more civil service jobs in return for votes than there are wild-eyed Islamic terrorists in Pakistan, so a civil service strike means the Olive Republic comes to a halt quicker than I can say ouzo.
More important, no one in the birthplace of electrolysis expects anything from the state, and as a result, no one pays taxes if they can help it. One in three Greek workers is employed by the state, a result of decades of public hiring, which means one in three Greeks stays busy trying to hinder the other two from doing business. No civil service is worse, although I am told that in parts of Equatorial Guinea the public sector—especially where passports are concerned—is just as lousy.
But let’s go on. Greece is a lost cause, and I for one have given up on it. Last month, we had a lot of eco-vultures with a bone to pick in Copenhagen. It was, and always is, about money. That’s why George Soros was there. This bum has never created anything except a method to enrich himself, so I fail to understand what he was doing there in the first place. That other fraud, Michael Bloomberg was also there, showboating and leaving a large carbon footprint with his private jet. I lack the technical knowledge to judge if climate change is real or not, but one thing’s for sure: If there’s money to be gouged from the haves, the have less will do so. But suddenly, Eureka! I have thought of an honest man, three in fact.
About fifteen years ago I went to dinner at Norman Mailer’s house in Brooklyn. There I met a very nice man, good-looking and gentlemanly. He was well spoken and measured in his words. He told me that he had three subscriptions to the Spectator, for three different locations, as he travelled a lot and needed to keep up with English life. His name was Larry McMurtry, a Pulitzer Prize winner for his novel Lonesome Dove, as well as an Academy Award winner for his screenplay of Brokeback Mountain. He has just published his autobiography, Literary Life, and your high life correspondent is in it. His first novel, Horseman, Pass By, was made into that wonderful film Hud. Larry also wrote The Last Picture Show, and Terms of Endearment. His books are autumnal in nature and simply beautiful. His only weakness seems to be an affinity with the poor little Greek boy. Now that’s what I call an honest man.
As is Professor Paul Gottfried, whose memoir Encounters also includes the greatest Greek writer since Homer. The professor connects his numerous encounters with prominent thinkers and scholars, many of them outsiders, and he includes President Richard Nixon, the greatest outsider of them all because he refused to play ball with the inside-the-beltway phonies of Washington. Encounters is fascinating to read, even after I had read the two passages about myself, a rarity in books nowadays.
Lastly I read Kevin Mac Donald’s Cultural Insurrections, his essays on western civilization, Jewish influence, and anti-Semitism. Jewish influence is a much-discussed subject—in private, that is. It is seldom the subject of dispassionate scientific analysis. MacDonald does not pull his punches. I read all three books in one week while partying non-stop as the year came to a close. And celebrated the new one with a party I threw with a friend in Gstaad, a party full of honest men and women, and some awfully pretty girls to boot. What was all that guff about not finding honest people? There are beautiful girls everywhere, and there’s nothing that rings more honest than a beautiful young girl. Happy New Year.