For reasons I could explain, I was re-reading a piece I had written in 2013. (It will appear in a forthcoming collection of mine.) The piece is about Harold Hamm, the Algeresque oilman from Oklahoma. He told me a story — one that he had also told Steve Moore, then of the Wall Street Journal.
In March 2011, Hamm was part of a group of people meeting with President Obama. All of them were significant philanthropists. Hamm had a conversation with the president, in which he told him about the boom in oil and natural gas: Energy independence was on the horizon. He wanted to be sure that Obama was aware of this.
Obama replied that, sure, we would have to rely on fossil fuels for the next few years — but the secretary of energy, Steven Chu, had assured him that we would soon have a battery, capable of powering our cars. In fact, we would have it in five years. Obama held up his hand, showing the number five.
This depressed Hamm considerably. He thought the president was out to lunch.
Anyway, that was, again, in March 2011. More than five years has passed. How’re we doin’ with that battery? Where is it? Why are we still gassin’ up our tanks and whatnot? Teslas for all?
Lemme know . . .
‐I re-read another piece from 2013 — “The Anti-Che,” about Felix Rodriguez, our ex-CIA agent. He is a Cuban American who helped chase down Che Guevara, star of a billion T-shirts.
In the course of our interview, we talked about Cuba. And I will now quote from my piece:
When will the Communists fall? Cubans are weary of answering this question, after almost 55 years. Rodriguez, though, points to the Castros’ friends in Venezuela: If the oil ever stopped coming, the brothers would be in trouble.
Venezuela is in serious trouble. Are the brothers? Well, the Americans, in the form of the Obama administration, have stepped into the breach, haven’t they?
The Castros are the luckiest dictators ever. When the Soviets fell, the Western Europeans and others picked up the slack. Then came Chávez and the oil money. And now . . .
Tragic. And infuriating.
‐A few days ago, Donald Trump retweeted something that included a video of Hillary Clinton, speaking in 1996. The tweet said that the then-first lady was “referring to blacks as super predators that need to be brought to heel.” No, she wasn’t. She was referring to super-predators as super-predators, who need to be brought to heel.
And they do. For the sake of black communities, above all.
Isn’t it odd when a Republican presidential nominee behaves essentially like an Oberlin faculty member?
Back in 1996, HRC said that we were not talking about mere “gangs of kids. They are often the kinds of kids that are called ‘super-predators.’ No conscience. No empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.”
I could not agree more. I’m sorry that, under the pressure of the current campaign, she backed off that statement. She was absolutely right.
‐It’s hard to write about Trump and Hillary. Why? Because we know so much about them. We know pretty much everything about them! They must be the two best-known people on the planet, or at least in America.
What else is there to say? Or opine? Or discover?
“If you don’t know me by now, you will never never never know me.”
‐There are many reasons I rejected the Left, many, many years ago. One was class envy. Class resentment. I could not stand this envy and resentment, coming from the left. It was all around me. I came to find it suffocating.
I remember how they ridiculed the Reagans and their fancy friends — Betsy Bloomingdale and that gang. Were they not human beings, for better or worse? If you pricked them, wouldn’t they bleed?
One of the people who rescued me from this way of looking at the world — classes, resentment, envy — was Bill Buckley. He did this through his writings. And then, of course, I was enmeshed in his circle.
At his table were a great many fancy people (among others). Some were smart, some were less so. Some were moral, some were less so. They were people, every one of them.
Recently, Hillary Clinton held a fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard — gasp — at the home of Lynn Forester de Rothschild — double and triple gasp! Some on the right reacted as the Left always has. Which bothered me.
I know a little bit about the Rothschilds. Some are bastards, some are golden. They are human beings.
The understanding of such matters was one of the things that propelled me into conservatism. I felt freed from the Marxian-populist view that corrodes the soul.
There is no end of reasons to oppose Hillary Clinton! Her opinions. Her ethics (or lack of them). That she sups with Rothschilds — on Martha’s Vineyard or in Saint-Tropez or in Akron, Ohio — is not one of them, as far as I’m concerned.
‐A friend of mine recommended that I read this article in The Atlantic: “The Republican Party in Exile.” I started to and stopped. Where? Here: “There are Republicans who favor more foreign adventurism and those who favor less of it.”
Is there a Republican — or a person — who favors any “foreign adventurism” at all?
Kind of thing that drives me frickin’ nuts . . .
‐Long ago, I was amazed at the capacity of Americans to racialize everything — and I mean, everything. Nothing was beyond reach of the racial brush.
I should be incapable of amazement, by this point. But here I am, still amazed.
You remember the Harambe affair? I saw this tweet: “Killing an endangered gorilla at a zoo for a white boy’s safety is white privilege. If the boy was black they would’ve found a tranquilizer.”
Turned out the boy was . . . black.
Oops. And get bent.
‐A few weeks back, I had occasion to mention Karen Kain in an article. (She is one of the great ballerinas of the recent past.) I had to look up how to spell her last name. And, you know? There are too many spellings of that name. Far too many!
Think of Michael Caine, the actor. And Carol Kane, the actress. And Tim Kaine, the politician. And Tom Kean, another politician.
‐Maybe I could throw some music criticism at you? On The New Criterion’s blog, I had some dispatches from the Salzburg Festival.
This one is about Manon Lescaut (starring Anna Netrebko und Mann). This one is about Grigory Sokolov, the Russian pianist. This one is about the festival’s new Faust. This one is about Così fan tutte. And this is about Thaïs.
That should hold you.
Earlier, from New York, I had a post about the Appel Room, a venue that features in Jazz at Lincoln Center. It is extraordinarily cool — glassy, dazzling.
A reader writes,
Reminded me of Galvin Recital Hall, which I visited last February, at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. The back is a glass wall, looking out on Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. Here’s a peek, if you’re not familiar.
That peek is here.
‐Janet Cantor is a friend of National Review and a friend of mine. She has taken part in a good many of our cruises. And she is a prolific letter-writer. She writes all and sundry, on a range of topics.
She has now produced a book, An Epistolary Life: Writings about Love, Gratitude, the Arts, and Political Discourse. It gives you her correspondence with a host of luminaries, including William F. Buckley Jr. Her prize correspondent is Carlos Eire, the Yale scholar who came from Cuba and wrote the famous book Waiting for Snow in Havana.
Through this book, meet this exceptional woman, as I have, and other personalities to boot.
‐Let’s end on Helen Delich Bentley, the onetime congresswoman from Maryland. Before politics, she was a journalist. I was reading her obit — and enjoyed one part in particular:
In 1969, she became the first woman to make the dangerous trip through the icy waters of the Northwest Passage. Known for her salty tongue, she ran afoul of the Federal Communications Commission, which happened to be monitoring the ship’s radio when she was filing her story home.
“She swore like a sailor,” the FCC reported.
“I just used a common Anglo-Saxon expletive to express my impatience with a rewrite man,” Bentley said at the time.
Have a wonderful weekend, y’all! See you later.