Let Them Eat Pet Food

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Okay, let's get this over with as quickly as possible. I'm off to the South of France for some badly needed rest and recreation. n I spent Independence Day in freezing and rainy old London, with Wimbledon a wash-out and the great sage Paul Johnson's annual garden party forced indoors. (Paul's parties always have fair weather, so this could be a very bad omen for free and capitalism-loving people.) The Spectator, too, chose the Fourth of July for its annual bash, which also could be an omen of sorts. For 25 years the Speccie has always held the party on July 6.

Bad English weather is a cliche, especially during the summer months. Yet I can't remember a time when I enjoyed myself more. There were parties galore, starting with Lord and Lady Black's intimate dinner for 60 high-powered men and women?for the life of me I don't know what I was doing there among all the talent, but nevertheless there I was. There was also a grand ball down in Somerset, given by the von Preussens, the anglicized version of the Prussian royal family's name. Nicholas von Preussen is as English as his mother, born a Guinness, and he and his wife are childhood friends of mine. The ball was for the birthdays of their three teenage daughters. Like a true Prussian, Nicholas performed his duty exactly the same day and time, so his three daughters were born approximately the same day of the year. I had pursued his wife Victoria when I was young, had failed miserably, but had landed one of her four sisters. The one I had not pursued because she refused even to speak to me was Nicholas' sister, Antonia, who is married to a dour fellow by the name of Douro, who upon his father's death will become the Duke of Wellington.

Well, you know how these things go. I was seated on the left of the hostess, and on my left I found the lovely Antonia, now friendly and even slightly flirtatious. "Who would want to look at an old lady of 45 with five children?" she countered one of my compliments. "If you were married to me you'd have had 24 children by now," said the Greek Lothario. Nothing much happened after that, except that her son came up to me and told me to lay off his mama, and I smilingly told him to fuck off, which he did. So good these English boys, they understand all about passion where Southern Europeans are concerned.

But I'm not here to tell you about such fluff as flirting with aristos, but about Independence Day abroad. My my, what has Uncle Sam done to deserve some of the epithets hurled at him by the lefties of this world? "A selfish bully" is one of the mildest, this one by one Ziauddin Sardar, in his unreadable opus coauthored with Merryl Wyn Davies and called Why Do People Hate America? Sardar goes on to say that the U.S. has 3 percent of the world's population yet consumes more than 30 percent of global resources. The three richest Americans have assets exceeding the combined GDP of the 48 least-developed countries. And American women spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics, which is $2 billion more than the total needed to provide basic education worldwide. I imagine all this is true, although even if I had the time I wouldn't bother to check it. The one I liked the best was the statistic that tells us that what the U.S. spends on pet food alone could meet the basic health and nutrition requirements of all the world's poor.

Now, I'm the first to admit that our pets need to eat, but that doesn't mean that if we starved Fido the rest of the world would suddenly put on weight. Sardar is obviously an intelligent man who is intellectually dishonest. Having seen something of Africa's woes, I am sympathetic with the intention of helping the dark continent, the trouble being that even if American women gave up wearing makeup and lipstick, it would be like putting money through a shredder. Africa is one big kleptocracy, with hundreds of billions of dollars having been siphoned off by corrupt leaders since independence during the 1960s. Angola alone earns $5 billion a year from oil, and in every year of the past five a portion of Angola's state income goes missing.

Now who in hell does Sardar think he's kidding? Nigeria, Brazil, Russia, these are countries that have the world's most valuable resources, yet their people are among the poorest anywhere on Earth. Has Sardar seen the favelas around Rio in Brazil? In Mexico City? In Lagos? Of course America is a selfish bully for not starving Fido and instead giving the moolah to corrupt so-called Third World leaders. Three Mexican presidents, Aleman, Echeverria and Portillo, took $500 million, $2 billion and $3 billion, respectively, as they left office. By Sardar's way of thinking, if, say, Ava Gardner had not used as much powder as she did, there would have been Mexican children who would have grown taller.

Well, the world doesn't work that way, alas, so all the arguments about America's depriving the rest of the world because of its lifestyle is a crock of you know what. Another common charge against America by chattering lefties is that the U.S. controls the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the IMF, thus denying democratic control over their own destinies to more than two-thirds of the world's population. This is as big a crock as the last one. Since when did a Bengali peasant have any control over his destiny? Or an Albanian, or an Afghan? At least with Uncle Sam providing the leadership the whole kit and kaboodle will not end up in a Swiss bank, a la Mobutu. And speaking of crooks, would any American-hater invest in, say, Zimbabwe, where the grotesque Mugabe has driven one of the world's richest farming nations to starvation?

As I said previously, I'm off to the Riviera for a much needed rest from partying. Some people resent the fact that I have a good time anywhere I go. Although I give generously to charities and help a hell of a lot of folk, the haters remain haters. Well, one thing is for sure. I'm not about to go and become a monk because some envious souls don't approve of my having a hell of a good time. There is a disgusting midget by the name of Mathew Norman who works for The Guardian. This very physically ugly man writes nonstop lies about me. (I don't read The Guardian but people tell me that he does.) The poor guy is obviously so jealous he has lost his reason. He froths at the mouth and makes stories up. So what? I shall go on chasing girls and amusing myself, while he has to go back to his ugly wife and dreary home every night.

America-haters are like Mathew Norman: jealous, envious and frustrated. Sorry, but the poor little Greek boy is like America, happy and free.

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