Category Archives: United Kingdom

Scotland Yes or NO


The clock is ticking down for a yes or no vote on Scotland’s break with Britain, and things are getting ugly. Hope the clock’s not attached to a bomb. English politicians are pulling out all the stops in Scotland to buy no votes.

Keeping the Scotch in Scotland

Even Bill Clinton got into the act to say a yes vote could be financially risky. Big banks and businesses have threatened to leave Scotland if the yes voters win. On the bright side, that’s not an option for Scotch makers.

How would Braveheart Vote on Scotland?

140915-Braveheart-scotlandActually Mel Gibson, and even William Wallace, were minor figures in Scottish independence. Robert the Bruce (click the WSJ Michael Penman book review) was the real Braveheart in 1320.

Scotland eventually joined the UK in a merger of equals. In fact the Scots ruled England when King James King IV inherited the throne in 1603.

Nial Ferguson was born in Scotland and he doesn’t get the 21st century independence movement. He thinks it will be an economic disaster.

The economic risks are so glaring that even Paul Krugman and I agree it’s a terrible idea. What currency will Scotland use? The pound? The euro? No one knows. What share of North Sea oil revenues will go to Edinburgh? What about Scotland’s share of Britain’s enormous national debt?

American Braveheart

King James wasn’t the only ruler with Scottish breeding. Gordon Brown is a Scotsman and, according to Wesley Pruden, most American presidents have had Scottish blood.

Three-fourths of the presidents, including Washington, Jefferson and Madison, were of Scottish descent. So have been half of the secretaries of the Treasury, a third of the secretaries of State. Both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, like Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant, were of Scottish blood. So, too, Stonewall Jackson, Jeb Stuart and Ambrose Burnside, and later John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur and George S. Patton. America would not have a military tradition but for the sons of Scotland the Brave.

The Great Mandela Selfie

131212-selfie-obama-Helle-Thorning-SchmidtI wasn’t that upset by the Great Mandela Memorial Selfie. In fact it was a relief to see the president finally getting along well with others.

World leaders haven’t been so relaxed together since W rubbed down Angela Merkel.


Bystander President

131028 bystander president

The NYT has called President Obama the bystander president because he’s deluged by events that seem to have nothing to do with him – unless they’re good. Like the U.S. oil boom which he fought against tooth and nail and now takes credit for.

Here’s a Dana Milbank Washington Post column pondering the problem.

Bystander Protector

Obama is fond of Czars. Could Valerie Jarrett be his protective Rasputin? John Fund thinks so. He quotes her appraisal of the president:

 “I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability — the extraordinary, uncanny ability — to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy. . . . He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

Says Fund, “As a court flatterer of that caliber it’s no surprise that Jarrett has outlasted almost everyone who was in Obama’s original White House team”

Exceptional Exceptionalism


Putin wrote an op-ed in the NYT last week mocking Obama and the idea of American Exceptionalism. He scored bonus points because everyone knows Obama himself is not so wild about the idea. He thinks America is exceptional in the same way Britain and Greece are exceptional. Which is to say, not very. But that didn’t stop him last week from asking Americans to support an attack on Syrian president Assad  – with something more than a pinprick, yet unbelievably small – because we are exceptional.

The abuse continued this week when a Russian minister claimed the Navy Ship Yard shooting was an example of American Exceptionalism.

Exceptional and Weird

Maureen Dowd had a few thoughts of her own about the president concerning the partisan speech he delivered while the shooting was still going on:

 “The man who connected so electrically and facilely in 2008, causing Americans to overlook his thin résumé, cannot seem to connect anymore… Top Democrats who used to consider Obama one cool cat now muse that he’s “one weird cat,” as one big shot put it.”

When the going gets tough the weird get going.