Category: Under the Black Flag

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Rage Against the Cowards

No matter how one looks at it, it wasn’t Italy’s finest hour.  Not even Gabrielle d’Annunzio, poet, patriot, propagandist, and protofascist, could spin this into a maritime Titanic-like drama.

Once the Costa Concordia hit a rock off the Tuscan

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Those Racist Police

When I was last in the Big Bagel, as I call Noo Yawk, an heroic policeman with countless commendations for bravery and 22 years of front-line service was murdered in cold blood by a black drug dealer, La­mont Pride, the

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Hoover Watch

I haven’t seen J. Edgar, the Hollywood movie about J. Edgar Hoover, and I don’t plan to, even though I have loved all of Clint Eastwood’s films, especially those he’s directed.  Yet J. Edgar does not do it for me,

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Fun With Panthers

The black American fugitive who was recently caught after 41 years on the lam brought back lots of memories.  No, I’ve never been a fugitive from justice, and the memories are quite pleasant, because I met all those so-called Black

Goodbye, Britannia
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Goodbye, Britannia

I first visited England in 1953, when I was 16 years old.  It was a very different country back then, a green and pleasant place, where weekend cinemas were packed with enthusiastic movie fans all cheerfully whistling and applauding the

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A Magical September

On September 1, 1957, a pretty French girl by the name of Patricia and an Italo-French couple, Feruccio and Ellen, joined me in the old harbor of Cannes waiting to board the super-new luxury liner Cristoforo Colombo.  Our destination

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Celebrating Diversity

The very first day  I spent at a prestigious prep school—I was ten—I was punished for breaking the rule that no new boy was allowed to walk on the grass.  “Rhinies,” as we were called at Lawrenceville, had to

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New York State of Mind

Some 20 years ago, my friend P.J. O’Rourke came to dinner at my New York house with his new bride.  She was beautiful, reserved, intelligent, and after dinner called me a male chauvinist, racist anti­semite and left the house in

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The Education of W

It sounds presumptuous, but I wish I had written this column in October 2002, and some eagle-eyed George W. Bush assistant would have noticed it and shown it to his moron boss.  Let’s just play the What If game for

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Our Dearest Frienemy

It is the rise of people-power all over the Muslim world, and I’ve got news for you.  The people—or the street, as it’s called in places like Cairo, Manama, Sana, and Amman—are united by two things only: A loathing for

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An Arab Shopping Spree

What is it with the wives of despots?  Leïla Ben Ali (Baba), ex-first lady of Tunisia and a former hairdresser, makes her escape from the country her hubby and her relatives raped, but not before a brief stop at the

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Death Benefits

Having been caught out by the demon memory gene of the sainted editor—I tried to recycle a Paris nostalgia piece—I shall nevertheless return to my brother-in-law’s funeral in Paris a few years ago, which prompted the recycle, and this time

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The Swiss Solution

Let’s start the new year with a politically incorrect column by telling it like it is, for a change.  During the last week of November, in Portland, Oregon, the FBI arrested a Somali-born U.S. resident as he was about to

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Common Slobbery

The only time I saw Bill Clinton in the flesh was four years ago in the London Ritz.  I was having lunch with Leopold and Debbie Bismarck and the mother of my children, as I call Princess Alexandra Schoenburg-Hartenstein, my

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Stoned in the Desert

“People were very happy seeing this” was the quote in the New York Times report about a couple being stoned to death after they tried to marry without permission.  About 200 villagers took part in the stoning in the Kunduz

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End the War

The Trinity College Historical Society, the debating arm of Trinity College, Dublin, kindly invited yours truly to open the debate season by defending the motion “This House would get high.”  Alas, I had to refuse, as I was leaving for

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Sympathy for the Devil

His writing these last 40 years amounts to little more than a succession of malicious ad hominem attacks on people he disagrees with.  His appeal is to those with a dirty mind, who want society to be as dirty as

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Bringing Down Brussels

As everyone knows, Greece became a member of the eurozone on the back of a lie.  The colonels’ regime had collapsed, Greek politicians were nervous, and that pseudo-French aristocrat Giscard promised entry to a country that is more Middle

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Going Greek

My birthplace has been in the news lately—this time not for tragic plays, philosophy, or wartime gallantry, but for cheating.  In cahoots with Goldman (Ali Baba) Sachs, the Greeks cooked the books, took E.U. money, and ran.  Once caught, they

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Animal Planet

Like the songs tell us, June is busting out all over, and love is in the air.  Unlike humans, dolphins can never get enough of love.  They are constantly nuzzling and staring into each other’s eyes.  And they are known

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Jewish Antisemistism

“The only thing missing is the sign Arbeit Macht Frei,” said an English friend as we watched a British-made documentary on the children of Gaza.  My wife, a German, winced.  I did not.  Watching a Palestinian father break down

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Tears of a Clown

Watching the finals of the Austral­ian Open was a revelation.  The worthy loser, Andy Murray, praised the winner, Roger Federer, by saying that he, Murray, could cry like Roger, but as yet could not play as well.  He then broke

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Entangled

Thirty-nine years ago this spring I was in Vietnam, busy sending nonstop dispatches back home about how well the war was going for the good guys.  When the North Vietnamese took Quang Tri in the north a year later and

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Sachs of Gold

The story thus far: Not content with plunging the world’s economy into the worst crisis since the 30’s, the avaricious and reckless bankers have been saved from ruin—momentarily—by our taxes, yet they continue to treat us with breathtaking contempt.  Far

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Coming to America

A recent article in a glossy magazine about the rich and famous mentioned a $35 million house in Malibu, California, whose neighbors include Mel Gibson and Britney Spears.  The owner of this mega-structure is one Teodoro Nguema Obiang, son of

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The Limits of Compassion

Something’s bothering me about the Polanski business.  No, unlike Harvey Weinstein and Bernard-Henri Lévy—not to mention that Mitterand pedophile—I will not defend Roman’s actions with a 13-year-old, but I will say that with friends like his making fools of themselves

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Of Gentlemen Sportsmen

By the time you read this the U.S. Open will be in full cry.  Tough, unsmiling professionals will be hitting balls back and forth with machine-like regularity, and Cyclops, the mechanical eye that overrides human decisions, will be resolving close

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Laugh Riot

If you think comedy is dead, just read Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest proposals regarding a Palestinian state and try to keep a straight face.  “Let us begin peace negotiations immediately without preconditions,” says the comedian, and then proceeds to state the

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Boozing With Papa

Fifty-four years ago this month, dizzy with happiness at having been freed from the jail that was boarding school, I ventured down New York’s 5th Avenue looking for fun and adventure.  I knew a place called El Borracho, Spanish for

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Up From Knavery

I recently attended a jujitsu tournament in Newark, New Jersey, a 15-minute train ride from New York City.  I had been to the Newark airport before but never entered the town.  It was quite a revelation.  I walked up the

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Europe’s P.C. Fatwa

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember that Europe was the cradle of democracy.  For today Europe seems to be sliding inexorably into a culture of control that would have made Stalin proud.

Carol Thatcher, the daughter of the

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Our Expensive Crock

At times I think they have to be doing it on purpose.  It’s simply not possible that such density of stupidity exists on such a high level.  Take Afghanistan, for example.  Like a hellfire and brimstone preacher who cannot prize

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Burning Down Camelot

One of the more annoying gaucheries of the British tabloid press is that of always referring to the Kennedys as “American royalty.”  Back in 1963, with JFK still alive and in the White House, I escorted C.Z. Guest, a true

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Down Goes the Mammoth

So, the great nation builder is leaving the White House, his vision of a peaceful Middle East just a pipe dream, something poor old W used to know something about.  I say poor old W because he was, after all,

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The Monkey Chronicles

I want to make something very, very clear.  This column’s review of the autobiography of Cheeta, Tarzan’s chimpanzee, has absolutely nothing to do with the man who just got elected to the White House last month.  Cheeta’s 336-page opus was

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Before the Cacophony

Can anyone today imagine a clarinettist as a superstar the size of, say, Mick Jagger?  Or God forbid, the ghastly Madonna?  Well, 60 years or so ago, the biggest star in Hollywood, as well as the biggest stud, was Artie

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Putin and the Polish Gesture

In 2002, Vladimir Putin told a French reporter who asked about “innocent civilians” killed in Chechnya that—since the journalist evidently sympathized with Muslims—he would arrange to have him circumcised, adding: “I will recommend that they conduct the operation in such

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Send in the Clowns

Karagiozis is a mythical Greek character created sometime during the Ottoman occupation (1455-1827).  He manages to outwit the Turk at every turn by being funny, dishonest at times, and a very quick thinker.  For example, he discusses a business with

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No More Girls in Bikinis

Just after the Berlin wall came down, I flew to Berlin with my German-Austrian wife and traveled around the city and its eastern parts.  On visiting the Olympic stadium I told the taxi driver that my uncle, a hurdler, was

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Art in the Loo

Christie’s, the auction house, took a full-page ad in the New York Times to publicize the record sale of a painting by a living artist, Lucian Freud, to the tune of $33.6 million.  Thirty-three million greenbacks for a portrait of

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Speaking of Gorging

A few weeks ago, I attended a most wonderful party, with music, pretty girls, lots of champagne—and even some people who did not move their lips while reading the labels of the expensive bubbly and Scotch whiskey they were imbibing. 

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Dealing With the Devil

I do not normally take pronouncements from show-business folk seriously—they are almost always publicity ploys—but in the Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg case against Beijing’s “Genocide Olympics,” I will gladly make an exception.  We all know that there is something

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Scuppering the Serbs

I live in New York and London, and   among the gruesome sights I’ve had to endure these last few years has been the sight of a vainglorious James Rubin, of Madeleine Albright fame, prancing about the hot spots of these

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Taking the Mickey

In an English court of law 21 years ago, I had the opportunity to discover firsthand how touchy judges can be when challenged from the dock.  It was a case of libel that caught both the tabloid and broadsheet imagination,