Politics & Policy

An exemplary spirit, &c.

Frederick the Great, flute player (Dreamstime)

There was a story, and then a movie, called “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.” I frequently speak of “the courage of the black conservative.” There may be no gutsier people in America.

This article begins, “Like an eager date, Leo Smith showed up at Mount Zion First Baptist Church with a bouquet of flowers in hand. He wasn’t seeking romance. He was seeking voters.” Mr. Smith is the “minority engagement director” of the Georgia GOP.

The pastor of the church he visited is John C. Hearst. The article says that “Hearst, 84, made clear that he wasn’t a Republican but said he was open to letting any candidate come to speak to his flock.” Quoth the pastor, “How do I know what the Republicans are doing unless I associate with them? . . . I guess I’m classified as a Democrat, but if a Republican is doing a better job, I can go along with that.”

That’s the spirit. May it spread far and wide, and be taken advantage of by GOP-ers — bold, imaginative GOP-ers.

Here is a story to warm the cockles of a free-market heart. Datelined Kampala, it’s headed “Africa’s women entrepreneurs take the lead.” It begins,

Madinah Nalukenge recalls the day she set out to sell food on the filthy edges of a bus terminal in the Ugandan capital in 2004. She had just $10 left over from a failed attempt to sell bed sheets.

Now she runs a catering business that makes a monthly profit of up to $3,000, a source of pride for the 34-year-old single mother who spends her days offering plates of mashed plantain and greasy meats to transport operators in downtown Kampala.

“There is a lot of money to be made here,” she said recently, her apron bulging with cash. “I need to stay focused.”

Her competition: more than a dozen other women operating food stalls next to hers.

This story reminded me of a book edited by Alvaro Vargas Llosa (the son of the novelist and Nobelist). “Lessons from the Poor,” it’s called. (Beguiling title.) It’s about the power of entrepreneurship in the Third World. I reviewed it for National Review, under the title “How to Kill Poverty.”

‐Readers may remember that I went to Peru earlier this year to see Hernando de Soto, the economist and “global strategist.” The resulting piece is here. In recent years, de Soto has been concentrating his democratic and classical-liberal fire on the Arab world. He knows that people stew under corruption and red tape — the things that hold them back and keep them down. I thought of him when reading this news story:

More than 6,000 Kuwaitis protested Tuesday against government corruption, demanding better services, transparency in government and an economic revival in the Gulf Arab country that was once one of the region’s most attractive for foreign investment.

‐De Soto began his career — the career that would dominate his life, that is — when he put his mind to the terrible question, “How do you defeat the Shining Path?” This was the Maoist terror group that was threatening to subjugate Peru. So, naturally, I thought of him when reading this other news story — a grisly one:

Forensic teams have begun the long-delayed exhumation of members of an Amazon tribe that suffered devastating losses during Peru’s 1980-2000 conflict with Shining Path rebels.

The first body, unearthed over the weekend, wore the standard ochre robe of the Ashaninka . . .

‐It has now been 20 years since the O.J. Simpson murder case — double-murder case, I should say. I was reminded by this news article. And I couldn’t help thinking, bitterly, “Hey, how’s the search for the real killers going?”

Twenty years, still no sign of them.

‐Just recently, I read that Edwin Edwards, down in Louisiana, is trying a comeback. He’s the colorful crook who was governor of that state many times. He’s out of jail, kissin’ babies. Up in Providence, R.I., Buddy Cianci is feelin’ the itch, too. (Read about it here.) He’s the colorful crook who was mayor forever and is now out of jail.

Cianci is the Edwin Edwards of Rhode Island. Or is Edwards the Buddy Cianci of Louisiana?

‐This will not put a smile on the Khmer Rouge’s face: Rolls-Royce is selling cars in Cambodia. (Story here.)

‐I was interested to read this obit, of Myles J. Ambrose, “Nixon Drug Czar, D.E.A. Midwife.” He once said, “Drug people are the very vermin of humanity.” You are supposed to think that Ambrose is a laughingstock. I must say, I agree with him, entirely.

‐In Europe recently, I have seen tons of little padlocks on bridges — that is, locked to fences along bridges. I have never known what they mean: Some kind of funky public art?

Now I know, thanks to this article about the Pont des Arts in Paris. “Thousands of couples have latched padlocks to the bridge and thrown their keys into the river as symbols of lasting love.” But this practice has resulted in “what some decry as an eyesore.” The locks “are periodically removed by the city, but spring up ever faster.”

A chunk of fencing on the Pont des Arts fell off under the weight of the locks. Maybe couples could just pledge to each other privately, and keep their pledge? Or is that too square?

‐I would like to throw some music items at you — three of them. Here is an obit of David Nadien, once a concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic. His father “was a professional boxer who taught himself the violin and later opened two music schools.”

America, what a country. Does that sort of thing still happen? I trust it does.

‐In a recent column, Mona Charen wrote that I had reminded her of an admonition and maxim of Frederick the Great: “Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” I believe I first learned that vital saying from John O’Sullivan.

Frederick, you may recall, was a serious flute player and composer. In those heady Prussian days, the flute was no sissy instrument. (True, there have always been rumors about ol Fritz.)

(And by the way, I said “flute player” in order to avoid the flutist/flautist debate. “Flutist” is a perfectly good word — and the word I prefer — but there’s always some nudnik who says, “Isn’t it ‘flautist’?”)

‐I like symphony orchestras and I like Sir Mix-a-Lot and his classic “Baby Got Back.” But do I like the two combined? No. Do you?

‐Finally, a story that should light a revolutionary flame in every freedom-loving heart. “Phoenix woman banned from cartwheeling at meetings.” What? Yes, she “will have to keep both feet on the ground if she wants to speak at any public meetings.”

Yet another assault on the First Amendment and our sacred liberties. Anyway, have a great weekend, y’all. “What is so rare as a day in June?”


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