Politics & Policy

A friend up north, &c.

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper

A couple of weeks ago, Stephen Harper spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Harper, as you know, is the prime minister of Canada, and a Conservative. “I’m encouraged by growth signs I see in the United States,” he said. He values “the differences we have as Canadians,” but

I’m an enormous admirer of this country, and I have enormous faith in the ability of the American people, and particularly the American business community, to always find opportunity, always seize it, and always create a better future. That’s been the history of this country. I think it requires a helluva lot of effort by everybody in Washington to make that not true. And I just don’t think they can sustain that kind of effort indefinitely, so . . .

Perfect. (For a transcript of Harper’s remarks in their entirety, go here.)

‐Last week, in my Oslo Journal, I mentioned meeting a Danish entrepreneur — successful and sharp guy. I asked him, “Will the U.S. economy recover?” He gave me two words (initially): “Shale oil.” In The Graduate, the guy gave just one word: “Plastics.”

Anyway, a reader sent me a passage from Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Her character Ellis Wyatt says,

Oil shale. How many years ago was it that they gave up trying to get oil from shale, because it was too expensive? Well, wait till you see the process I’ve developed. It will be the cheapest oil ever to splash in their faces, and an unlimited supply of it, an untapped supply that will make the biggest oil pool look like a mud puddle. Did I order a pipe line? Hank, you and I will have to build pipe lines in all directions . . .

The federal government is doing everything in its power to stifle the fracking boom. They have been unable to do so in North Dakota. As North Dakotans told me when I visited last year, that’s because the state is largely in private hands, not federal hands. North Dakota was too homely — too unloved — to be colonized by the feds, so to speak.

Anyway, Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, seems awfully current.

#ad#‐A reader sent me this link, saying, “This stuff drives me crazy.” (I have Bowdlerized a little bit.) The link is to a page describing the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship. We learn that this tournament is “one of The PGA’s key diversity initiatives.”

I wonder what the organization means by “minority” and “minorities.” Jewish Americans? Korean Americans? I doubt it, somehow.

Would Tiger Woods of Stanford have entered the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship? He won the NCAA tournament (of course).

Ever since childhood, I have thought about what it must be like to live as a black person in America. (I am not black.) It must be unbearable at times. I understand why some hightailed it to Scandinavia, several decades ago.

Question: If I were a black college golfer, would I enter the PGA Minority Collegiate Golf Championship? I don’t think I would. I think I would resent such a tournament, be insulted by it. But can I be sure?

Question: Would you accept an orchestra position, just because of your race? In Detroit and other cities, orchestras have dropped the curtain — the curtain that makes an audition blind — in order to hire by race. Would your self-respect and sense of justice allow you to accept a position on that basis?

These are questions to make a person tremble . . .

#page#‐A reader spotted a headline: “Funeral director: No cemetery will take Tsarnaev” (this refers to one of the brothers who committed the Boston Marathon bombing). Our reader then thought of a line from Mark Twain: “Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.”

‐An article told us something nice about America — courtesy of Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany. Speaking to an audience recently,

Ms. Merkel suddenly became the young woman from the lake-speckled Uckermark region northeast of Berlin, fascinated by the overwhelming friendliness she encountered when she first visited the United States after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The chancellor beamed as she recalled a salesclerk in San Diego asking “How are you?” so cheerfully that she simply had to abandon her normally mumbled response.

“I was forced out of my Uckermarkische stubbornness to come up with a happy ‘Great!’” she said, to howls of laughter and applause.

Isn’t that wonderful? I can sort of see the San Diego salesclerk now . . .

‐For many days, Stockholm burned, thanks to rioting by “youths.” But there is another story out of Stockholm I would like to relate: Cuban human-rights activists gathered there, for a “week of hope.” They discussed their common activities and goals.

The Cubans included the well-known blogger Yoani Sánchez and a less well-known but equally brave independent journalist named Roberto de Jesús Guerra. The latter appeared at the Oslo Freedom Forum as well, and I wrote about him last week (here).

#ad#The events in Stockholm were organized by Misceláneas de Cuba, a Cuban organization based in Sweden. But get this: The events were also organized by the Swedish government itself. The Cuban oppositionists met right in parliament.

To see related pictures, go here and here.

In my opinion, Sweden has come a long way since Olof Palme, who so loved mass-murdering Communists in Hanoi and elsewhere.

‐I very much enjoyed a column by my friend Tony Daniels, a.k.a. Theodore Dalrymple. The column is about retirement: which some people take to very well, and some people not at all. I’ll tell you what I told him: When I think of retirement, and the challenges of retirement, I think of Bear Bryant.

The great Alabama football coach always said that, if he ever retired, he’d be dead in a week. He did retire, and was. Eerie.

His tombstone should read, “I told you so!”

‐Last week, John Fund wrote about Kathryn Davis, the philanthropist — wife and widow of Shelby Cullom Davis — who died at 106. In this same period, Frederic Franklin, the ballet dancer, died — at 98. I saw him just a couple of years ago as Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet. (For a note I did on him at the time, go here.)

‐Care for some language? A friend of mine e-mailed,

Does “indoctrinate” always have a negative connotation? Does it not historically mean to teach and instruct, especially in fundamental principles? We have an agnostic friend who often asks his Christian friends whether they plan to indoctrinate their children. My answer is yes.

“Indoctrinate” does indeed have a benign meaning: “to teach or inculcate”; “to imbue with learning.” But in my lifetime, at least, it has had a negative connotation, always. It has meant “brainwash.” You might apply “indoctrinate” to environmentalism, socialism, and atheism, in addition to Christianity and other religions . . .

‐End with a T-shirt? Okay. In New York, I saw a guy wearing a shirt that said, “Make Love, Not Babies.” If that’s not an emblem of our time, I don’t know what is.

See you!

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