Mark Steyn

Me and My Little Black Dress

Today, Tuesday, is the launch day for The [Un]documented Mark Steyn in my delightfully deranged Dominion of Canada. If you're passing a newsstand from Vancouver to Gander, "Apocalypse STEYN" is plastered across the masthead on the front page of today's National Post, and inside you'll find a lengthy excerpt:

A decade or so back, early in the 2004 presidential election season, a publisher took me to lunch and pitched me a book. She wanted me to write a John Kerry election diary. Easy gig. All I had to do was follow him around and mock him mercilessly. Well, I hemmed and hawed and eventually she got the picture and said, "Okay, what would you like to write a book about?"

And so I replied, "Well, I've got this idea for a book called The End of the World."

And there was a pause and I could feel her metaphorically backing out of the room, and shortly thereafter she literally backed out of the room. But not before telling me, somewhat wistfully, "You know when I first started reading your stuff? Impeachment. Your column about Monica Lewinsky's dress was hilarious." She motioned to the waiter. "Check, please!" And I got the distinct impression she was feeling like the great pop guru Don Kirshner when the Monkees came to him and said they were sick of doing this bubblegum stuff and they needed to grow as artists...

If you're wondering how that Monica column went, well, it was a 1998 piece from the Telegraph, the Year of Impeachment, imagining an interview with the famous dress 20 years on, in 2018:

She is older now, her once dazzling looks undeniably faded, her famous beauty worn and creased.

"Sorry about that," she says. "I was supposed to get ironed yesterday."

Yes, it's "that dress" — the dress that, 20 years ago this month, held the fate of a presidency in her lap. It has been two decades since the day she gave her dramatic testimony to the grand jury and then promptly disappeared into the federal witness protection program. Even as she recalls her brief moment in the spotlight, she looks drawn. But that's because, following extensive reconstructive surgery, she's been living quietly as a pair of curtains in Idaho.

"What do you think?" she says, saucily brushing her hem against the sill as her pleats ripple across the mullions. "It cost less than Paula Jones' nose job."

To be honest, I was lucky to get the interview. The dress was supposed to be doing the BBC — the full sob-sister treatment, Martin Bashir, the works—but, to protect her identity, they wanted to do that undercover secret-location protect-your-identity trick with the camera that makes part of the screen go all fuzzy and blurry.

As I said, that 1998 column was whimsically datelined August 22nd 2018. Here we are a gazillion years later, and 2018 is almost upon us. Ed Driscoll asks "Is Mark Steyn's PR firm accepting new clients?"

Because seriously, I don't know how they do it. The week that After America came out in 2011, the Dow Jones dropped 512 points on Thursday, and S&P shorted America's credit rating on Friday...

Today, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, an anthology of his columns, hits the streets; its introduction is titled "Me and My Little Black Dress..."

Apparently to tie in with his book's launch, somehow Mark's PR people managed to convince Lewinsky to join Twitter on the very same day The [Un]documented Mark Steyn debuts.

Thanks, Monica!

~Also as part of Canadian festivities to launch the book, I'll be reunited with my fellow freespeecher Ezra Levant on the Sun News Network at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. Full details in our "On The Air" box at right. The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is available in hardcover from Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson across the Great White North - and south of the border you can find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. For those of a digital bent, it's also in Kindle, Kobo, Nook - and, for your iPhone et al, iBooks. In a heartwarming hands-across-the-border, we're already in the Politics Top Ten in both Canada and America.

October 21, 2014 at 8:20 am  |  Permalink

Trafalgar Day Among the Undocumented

Happy Trafalgar Day to my Commonwealth cousins. It's not as big as it used to be, but it commemorates a decisive battle that determined the 19th century would belong to England not France. It therefore marks the dawn of the two centuries of Anglo-American dominance that, alas, now seems to be sputtering to an ignominious end.

This year Trafalgar Day is also, if you'll forgive an opportunistic appropriation, Day Two of the launch week for my new book, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn. The book's radio debut came yesterday afternoon with Sean Hannity, who wanted to talk more about the politics, and was followed by a two-hour special with Hugh Hewitt, who wanted to talk more about the pop culture and personal stuff. So both were fun rides for entirely different reasons. From the Hannity show:

"The week we're in right now, Sean, ought to be a teaching moment because when people think when you entrust government, it'll be there for you on 9/11, it'll be there for you with Ebola" he stated. And "people think 'well, the CDC, they've got this huge budget, why aren't they there for Ebola?' Well the reason is when you have big government, they regulate a lot of the stuff I talk about in the books, like Kinder Chocolate Eggs."

Steyn argued that this is because "government always goes for the soft target, and the soft target is always you, and never the Tsarnaev brothers at the Boston Marathon, the soft target is always the Kinder Chocolate Eggs, never the Ebola virus."

My morning appearance on Fox & Friends elicited a flurry of follow-up stories:

Mark Steyn: GOP May Win Elections, but Liberals Control US


~If you heard either Hugh's show or Sean's, you'll know that Obama's in the book, and Osama, and Johnny Mercer. But what else? Well, it's an eclectic mix. For a sense of the book's range, I thought I'd pull out a random chunk of the index:

Mortenson, Greg,
Morvai, Krisztina
Mosimann, Anton
Mosley, Oswald
Mount Rushmore
Moussaoui, Zacarias
"Move Over, Darling"

Who are all those folks? Well...

*Greg Mortenson is the author of Three Cups Of Tea, which notwithstanding its risible thesis and widely discredited narrative became the dominant influence on Pentagon thinking in Afghanistan;

*Krisztina Morvai is the neo-nationalist blonde Hungarian hottie and former winner of the Freddie Mercury Prize for AIDS Awareness who in the course of her winning election campaign told Hungarian Jews to "go back to playing with their tiny little circumcised tails";

*Moscow is the capital of the once and future Evil Empire;

*Anton Mosimann is the gourmet chef cited in an epidemic of assaults on celebrities in the United Kingdom;

*Sir Oswald Mosley was the leader of the British Union of Fascists, famously parodied by P G Wodehouse in the Bertie and Jeeves novels as Sir Roderick Spode, leader of the Black Shorts;

*Mosquitoes arise in the context of the US military occupation of Cuba;

*Mounties are the Royal Canadian Mounted Police;

*Mount Rushmore is a popular scenic attraction in South Dakota, where the National Parkstapo attempted to prevent tourists from even looking at the mountain during the 2013 government shutdown;

*Zacarias Moussaoui was the so-called "20th hijacker" on 9/11 and a terrorist welfare queen;

*and "Move Over, Darling" was a hit for Doris Day.

All that plus Hillary Rodham Clinton - only in The [Un]documented Mark Steyn.

~This morning I'm back on the promotional trail. I'll be starting the day with Bill Bennett live across America at 7.30am Eastern/4.30am Pacific, followed by Brian Kilmeade, also nationwide. Then it's the first telly stint of the day with Stuart Varney at Fox Business, followed by the Wilkow Majority at Sirius XM, live at 2.30pm Eastern/11.30am Pacific, and The Janet Mefferd Show at 4pm Eastern.

At 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific, I'll be launching The [Un]documented Mark Steyn in Canada with my fellow freespeecher Ezra Levant on the Sun News Network. Then it's back south of the border for Mark Levin at about 8.20pm Eastern, "The Independents" on Fox Business at 9pm Eastern, then Steve Deace on the radio, and Hannity on Fox News.

Phew. Still to come this week: Dennis Miller, Neil Cavuto, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and many more.You can find full details of each day's TV and radio appearances in our "On The Air" box at the top right-hand corner of the page.

~The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is available in hardcover from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in America, or Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson in Canada. It's also available in e-format via Kindle, Kobo, Nook - and, for your iPhone et al, via iBooks. North of the border, we're already in the Politics Top Ten.

Not everyone likes it, of course: Scaramouche tells the sad tale of my one-star Amazon reviewer.

October 21, 2014 at 12:06 am  |  Permalink

Moving the Center

Always fun to start the day with Fox & Friends. This morning I was up bright and early for interviews re my new book, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn. Brian Kilmeade wanted to talk about the excerpt that appeared in The New York Post, arguing that politics trumps culture. Here's what I said to Brian:

"Effective conservative leaders, [Ronald] Reagan and [Margaret] Thatcher, take the two most obvious examples, move the center towards them," he said. "Mrs. Thatcher had a great line. Before you can win the election, you have to win the argument."

"Unless you are in there playing for the big culture stakes like the left does, you're going to lose, whoever is elected."

"The left is brilliant at framing the debate," Steyn told Kilmeade, noting specific buzz words for being "anti-women," "racist," and "homophobic," according to the left.

"When you let the left win the language wars…when you make it impossible even to bring up those subjects, you basically ensure that you're going to lose no matter who wins in November," he concluded.

~Oddly enough, while I was in the green room at Fox waiting to go on, all the small stories of the day underlined some of the themes of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn. For example, Toys R Us are selling a "Breaking Bad" doll that comes with his own miniature meth lab - presumably so he can invite Ken and Barbie and GI Joe round to share his bag of meth. As far as I can recall, there's nothing about "Breaking Bad" in the book, but GI Joe and Barbie and even Ken all make an appearance some 300 pages or so in.

~I'll be launching the book on the radio with Sean Hannity during his afternoon show today. Later, I'll be checking in with Hugh Hewitt nationwide for a two-hour special. Hugh's show starts at 6pm Eastern, and he's graciously allocated the latter two-thirds to my book, starting at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific.

~Tomorrow, Tuesday, I'll be launching the book in Canada with my old comrade from the free-speech wars, Ezra Levant, on the Sun News network. And in the rest of the week I'll swing by Dennis Miller, Mark Levin, Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Neil Cavuto, Janet Mefferd, Michael Medved and many more. You can find full details of my TV and radio appearances every day in our "On The Air" box on the right-hand side of this page.

~The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is available in hardcover from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in America, or Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson in Canada. It's also available in e-format via Kindle, Kobo, Nook - and, for your iPhone et al, via iBooks. North of the border, we're already in the Politics Top Ten.

October 20, 2014 at 12:45 pm  |  Permalink

Undocumented and Loving It

The [Un]documented Mark Steyn lands in bookstores across the US and Canada today and I'll be out and about plugging it all week. You can catch me live on Fox & Friends just after 8am Eastern/5am Pacific this morning, and on the radio with Sean Hannity coast to coast at 3pm Eastern. I'll be checking in with Hugh Hewitt nationwide for a two-hour special starting at 7pm Eastern. Full details at right.

Hugh gives the book "five stars for funny plus despair-inducing". I wouldn't say there's that much despair, but there's certainly plenty of funny. [Un]documented is a grand cavalcade of my writing from the last couple of decades or so, from publications around the world - America, Canada, Britain and beyond - plus some favorite riffs from my guest-hosting stints for Rush Limbaugh and even from my stage appearances. It deals with all the big topics - like Islam - but also all the small stuff - like Kinder Eggs - that help illuminate the big picture. The New York Post has a generous excerpt, which they introduce as follows:

Though his new collection of essays, "The Undocumented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned" (Regnery), recounts many of the biggest political events of recent history, bestselling author Steyn says that's not the real battleground. While everyone is focused on the 2014 midterms, the question about where our country is headed is being decided in our entertainment and our schools.

That's to say, culture trumps politics. So, if you sit out the big cultural battles, you're losing. Scaramouche was struck by this passage:

What will we be playing catch-up to in another 28 years? Not so long ago, I might have suggested transsexual rights. But, barely pausing to celebrate their victory on gay marriage, the identity-group enforcers have gone full steam ahead on transgender issues. Once upon a time there were but two sexes. Now Facebook offers its 1.2 billion patrons the opportunity to select their preference from dozens of "genders": "male" and "female" are still on the drop-down menu, just about, but lost amid fifty shades of gay — "androgynous," "bi-gender," "intersex," "cisfemale," "trans*man," "gender fluid" . . .
Oh, you can laugh. But none of the people who matter in American culture are laughing.

Indeed. It's all very serious - as the Wellesley student found out when she transitioned into a bloke called Timothy and lost the gig as "diversity coordinator" on the grounds that she was now a white male.

Elizabeth Warren, on the other hand, made the far shrewder decision to transition into a Cherokee. Here's another excerpt that tickled The New York Post's fancy:

Just in case you're having difficulty keeping up with all these Composite-Americans, George Zimmerman, the son of a Peruvian mestiza, is the embodiment of epidemic white racism and the reincarnation of Bull Connor, but Elizabeth Warren, the great-great-great-granddaughter of someone who might possibly have been listed as a Cherokee on an application for a marriage license, is a heartwarming testimony to how minorities are shattering the glass ceiling in Harvard Yard. Under the Third Reich's Nuremberg Laws, Mrs. Warren would have been classified as Aryan and Mr. Zimmerman as non-Aryan. Now it's the other way round. Progress!

There's lots more in the The [Un]documented Mark Steyn - from Viagra side-effects to the Magati Ke language, Osama to Obama, guns to groping, Reagan to road signs, clones to drones, rock'n'crocs... Along the way, I share some stories from dinner at Buckingham Palace, an aggrieved letter from Salman Rushdie's secure location, and my first thoughts on seeing Ground Zero.

~Tomorrow, Tuesday, I'll be launching the book in Canada with my old comrade from the free-speech wars, Ezra Levant, on the Sun News network. And keep an eye and ear out in the days ahead for media visits with Dennis Miller, Mark Levin, Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Neil Cavuto, Janet Mefferd, Michael Medved and many more. You can find full details of my TV and radio appearances every day in our "On The Air" box on the right-hand side of this page.

Also this week, I'll be joining Sean Hannity, Katie Pavlich, Bobby Jindal, Dana Loesch and more at the Chicago Freedom Summit starting this Friday.

~As for the book itself, you can buy it in hardcover from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in America, or Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson in Canada. It's also available in e-format via Kindle, Kobo, Nook - and, for your iPhone et al, via iBooks.

North of the border, we're already in the Politics Top Ten, although there's a lot more than politics in the book. Hugh Hewitt calls my essay "'Moon River' And Me" worth the price of the book all by itself. So just for Hugh...

October 20, 2014 at 12:01 am  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, October 13-19

Mark will be spending the coming week on the promotional trail for The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, with many media dates in New York and rounding things out with a live appearance in Chicago on Saturday. There's an excerpt from the book in today's New York Post.

But, before all of that, here's how the last seven days looked to him:

Steyn began the week with a musical question: What's the connection between the Muslim call to prayer and Fred Astaire?

~Monday was Columbus Day in America and Thanksgiving in Canada, but Mark spent it signing copies of his new book - while, on the radio, Rush Limbaugh pondered one of its key points: that you can't have conservative government in a liberal culture.

~On Tuesday, as part of his free speech campaign, Steyn discussed one of the most appalling stories of the week - Houston City Council's full-out assault on the First Amendment.

~On Wednesday, Mark considered the awesome symbolism should Baghdad fall to ISIS.

~On Thursday, Steyn returned to The Hugh Hewitt Show to chew over the big news of the week - Ebola - and the wretched performance of the CDC, which Mark called the DMV with test tubes.

~On Friday, the Instapundit Glenn Reynolds suggested that the best way to cope with Ebola might be to buy Steyn's new book and die laughing.

~On the Big Climate front, Mark analyzed all the key developments: the US military's insistence that the critical threat to national security is climate change; grizzled rocker Neil Young's assertion that the critical threat to the planet is the US military's carbon footprint; and Nobel Fauxreate Michael E Mann's shocking revelation that the real threat to the world is Amazon customers posting one-star reviews of his book. With all these competing threats, we are more grateful than ever to everyone who's helped prop up Mark's end of the forthcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century by buying SteynOnline gift certificates and patronizing the Steyn store.

~What with all this Ebola, Mark was glad to kick off and relax at the weekend with an escapist movie about a lethal virus that leaps from Africa and is soon rampaging across America.

A new week at SteynOnline starts tonight with our Song of the Week.

As mentioned above, Mark has a new book out tomorrow: He'll be launching The [Un]documented Mark Steyn on the telly with Fox & Friends on Monday morning, and on the radio with Sean Hannity in the afternoon. You can find full details of his media appearances in our daily "On The Air" box in the top right-hand corner at SteynOnline.

As for the book, you can buy it now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million in America, or Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson in Canada. As part of his book tour, Mark will be joining Sean Hannity, Katie Pavlich, Bobby Jindal, Dana Loesch and more this coming weekend at the Chicago Freedom Summit.

October 19, 2014 at 7:54 am  |  Permalink

Fever Pitch

After a lengthy sojourn overseas, I came back to The Hugh Hewitt Show to find that Hugh had decided to celebrate my return to his show by taking the day off. So Mark Larson guest-hosted and was kind enough to put in a plug for my new book:

MARK LARSON: Mark Steyn is back with us here, New York Times bestselling author. In fact, another new book coming out in just a couple of days on the 20th, officially, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned, and I've got to tell you, Mr. Steyn, the cover on, the Steyn photo here, looks extra intense. Did you know what was coming? Were you briefed earlier about the Ebola madness?

MARK STEYN: Well actually, now you mention it, I look slightly flushed. I have, as they say, on the cover of that book, 'Ebola-like symptoms'.

ML: You look a little feverish. Yeah, had you been on a plane?

MS: Yeah, I have a, like a kind of high color on that book. By the way, I don't believe that Ebola can be spread by reading my book.

ML: Well, that's good to know.

MS: But the way it's mutating, that's probably about two weeks away. But yeah, that comes out on Monday, and you can pick it up as easily as Ebola at all good bookstores.

Indeed you can. See below. After the Ebola shtick, we moved on to Ebola the global pandemic, and President Obama's curious response - from refusing to impose the same travel bans imposed by other nations (including other African countries) to his deployment of the US military:

MS: Obama has now dispatched, according to the Pentagon, 4,000 U.S. troops, who will be in West Africa dealing with this. The official death toll is 4,500. He's sending one American soldier…

ML: For every dead one.

MS: …for every fatality. Why?

ML: Wow.

We also beat MSNBC and the Daily Kos to exposing the truth behind Ebola:

ML: How can they, Mark Steyn, blame this on Bush? You know that's got to be there somewhere in the middle of this.

MS: Yeah, well, if they're clever, they'll figure out a way. I mean, the fact that this is all happening in Texas - they'll figure out that Patient Zero lives at a ranch in Crawford, and he's to blame for the whole global epidemic.

You can find the full interview here. I'll be back - and so hopefully will Hugh - for a one-hour special to mark the official publication day of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, coast to coast on The Hugh Hewitt Show this Monday at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

And don't forget the book itself is widely available at all good stores. In the US, you can pick it up from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and other retailers. In Canada, it's available at Indigo-Chapters, McNally-Robinson and major bookstores from Nanaimo to Nunavut. At Amazon Canada, it's already in the Politics Top Ten (although there's a lot more than just politics in the book).

October 18, 2014 at 4:15 pm  |  Permalink

Three Days and Counting...

They've found a cure for Ebola! Well, okay, not a cure, but a palliative. Quoth the Instapundit:

If there's a major epidemic, you might be better off locking yourself in a room with a bunch of pedialyte.

But also keep a copy of Mark Steyn's brand-new book, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, so that you can at least die laughing.

-just in case you needed a public-health rationale to buy the book.

The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is released in America and Canada on Monday, so I'll be hitting the ol' promotional trail pretty extensively in the days ahead:

~On Sunday, there'll be an excerpt of the book in The New York Post.

~On Monday, I'll be launching the book in the US with Sean Hannity on the radio.

~On Tuesday, I'll be launching the book in Canada with my fellow freespeecher Ezra Levant on the telly.

~Also in launch week, I'll be swinging by Dennis Miller, Fox & Friends, Mark Levin, Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Neil Cavuto, Janet Mefferd, Michael Medved, C-SPAN, Brian Lilley, Dennis Prager and many more. I'll also be making a special one-hour appearance with my old chum Hugh Hewitt. You can find full details of my TV and radio appearances every day in our "On The Air" box on the right-hand side of this page.

~On Saturday, I'll be live on stage in Chicago for the Freedom Summit with Sean, Dana Loesch, Bobby Jindal, Katie Pavlich, Big John & Amy and more. There'll be a book signing afterwards, so if you're in that neck of the woods hope to see you there. Full details here.

~My first print interview for the book was conducted by none other than Rush Limbaugh:

Frequent "undocumented" Limbaugh guest host Mark Steyn also has a new book out, called "The Undocumented Mark Steyn."Rush interviewed him for the next issue of "The Limbaugh Letter."

On the air, Limbaugh told his audience that he was intrigued by one of Steyn's statements in particular: "Steyn said, 'You cannot have a conservative government with a liberal culture...'"

You can read more in the next edition of The Limbaugh Letter. If you were thinking of subscribing, now's the time.

Like almost every other author, I moan and whine about book-plugging as the big day looms, but I always quite enjoy it once I'm in the swing of it. Check in with us daily for updates on where I'll be and what's happening. And don't forget the book itself is widely available at all good stores -try Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million south of the border, and Indigo-Chapters and McNally-Robinson north thereof. At Amazon Canada, it's already in the Politics Top Ten (although there's a lot more than just politics in the book).

October 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm  |  Permalink

Protocol Theatre

Thomas Frieden has now got his Protocol Ali routine down pat:

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a telephone press briefing Wednesday that you cannot get Ebola by sitting next to someone on a bus, but that infected or exposed persons should not ride public transportation because they could transmit the disease to someone else.

Gotcha. You can't get Ebola on a bus or a plane, you can only give it. Good to know. Thanks, Doc.

The Centers for Disease Control is one of those elite federal agencies that people hitherto assumed was, so to speak, immune to the pathologies of less glamorous government bureaucracies. It turns out it's the DMV with test tubes - just the usual "Sorry? Did we say you need two copies of the green form? We meant you need three copies of the pink form" routine with extra lethality. The Protocols of the Elders of Druid Hills have proved to be boundlessly mutable and mostly honored in the breach:

~Don't worry, the Protocols are in place - except that Thomas Duncan, the original Ebola patient, was left in an open area of the Dallas emergency room for hours and the medical staff treating him did not have protective clothing for the first two days.

~Don't worry, they did eventually get fully sealed, protective clothing - well, except for their necks, which remained exposed.

~Don't worry, exposed medical staff aren't supposed to fly - except that Nurse Amber Vinson got on a flight to Cleveland with a fever.

~Well, okay, but that was totally in breach of the Protocols - except that Nurse Vinson called the CDC to check and they said, "Sure, get on the plane. What's the worst that can happen? And make sure you share the bag of mini-pretzels..."

~Well, okay, but the next time Nurse Vinson got a flight, everyone followed the Protocols and wore hazmat suits - except for the guy with the clipboard, who works for the CDC and so can't be expected to know all this Protocol stuff...

As I said yesterday, the mortality rate for Ebola is 70 per cent - if you go nowhere near a hospital and just stay in your primitive disease-ridden village. If you go to a Liberian hospital, the mortality rate goes down a whopping three per cent to 67 per cent. One had assumed that western hospitals would be able to lower that significantly, but Hazmat Bob's Ministry of Propaganda is not terribly reassuring on that front. On stage in Minneapolis a week ago, I mentioned the big virus du jour of a decade ago - the now forgotten SARS. In Toronto, the health care system - which was meant to contain it - instead spread it. As I wrote in America Alone (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore, and which go to support my pushback against the climate mullahs):

In rural China pigs are valued possessions and sleep in the living room. That's why hundreds of members of a Catholic charismatic group from New York State had to go into isolation for a hitherto unknown respiratory disease in April 2003. A doctor from Sars-riddled Guangdong province went to a wedding at the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong, where he managed to infect 16 other guests with rooms on the same floor, including Kwan Sui Chu, an elderly lady staying there for one night. She flew home to Toronto and died, her death being attributed to a "chest infection". Her son Tse Chi Kwai went to Scarborough Grace Hospital and, as is traditional in Canada, was left on a gurney in Emergency for 12 hours exposed to hundreds of people. Lying next to him was Joe Pollack, who was being treated for an irregular heartbeat and whose wife wandered around the wards and came across an 82-year old man from a Catholic charismatic group. Mr Pollack, Mrs Pollack, the octogenarian charismatic and his wife all died, and their sons infected at least 30 other members of their religious group plus a Filipina nurse, who flew back to Manila and before her death introduced Sars to a whole new country.

The fellow with the irregular heartbeat, the Catholic charismatics, the Filipina nurse: none of these people went anywhere near rural China. They didn't have to.

The good news is Ebola seems to be rather harder to catch than SARS. The bad news is the CDC seems to be doing its best to change that.

~The dysfunctionalism of the hyper-bureaucratic state and its preference for soft targets (such as Kinder Eggs) over serious ones (such as Ebola) is one of the themes of my new book, The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, which comes out on Monday across the US and Canada. It's as easy to pick up as Ebola: South of the border, you can get it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and other major retailers. North of the border, you can get it from Indigo-Chapters, Amazon, McNally-Robinson and all good bookstores.

~Because of my overseas travels, it's been some time since I've been able to keep my weekly radio date with The Hugh Hewitt Show. Naturally, for my first week back, Hugh has decided to take the day off, but I'll be there keeping up my end of the deal, live coast to coast today, Thursday, at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

October 16, 2014 at 11:13 am  |  Permalink

Heart of Gold, Brain of Sludge

Today I started the day with one of my favorite morning men, the king of Toronto talk, John Oakley. We discussed Ebola, inevitably, and I mentioned that, according to the WHO, the fatality rate is 70 per cent - that's if you don't go to hospital, if you just stay in your upcountry West African village with friends and neighbors and tribal elders, and don't take a single pill or fill in a single piece of Obamacare-compliant Blue Cross/Blue Shield paperwork. On the other hand, if you do go to a hospital, the mortality rate declines from 70 per cent all the way down to 67 per cent (Liberia) or 61 per cent (Sierra Leone). On the evidence of Dallas, first-world hospitals don't seem likely to lower that terribly much.

We also chewed over grizzled old loony rocker Neil Young's suggestion that we should give up fighting ISIS and other enemies because the carbon footprint of the US military is too high. Click below to listen:

John was kind enough to mention The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, which comes out on Monday, October 20th.If you're in Toronto or elsewhere in the deranged Dominion, you can pick it up from Indigo-Chapters, Amazon, McNally-Robinson and all good bookstores. South of the border, it's available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and other retailers.

~Tomorrow, Thursday, I'll be returning, after my overseas travels, to The Hugh Hewitt Show, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

October 15, 2014 at 12:17 pm  |  Permalink

Celebrate Conformity (cont)

Many Americans seem to think that free speech and the First Amendment are synonymous. They're not: the former is a larger and more primal concept. But one consequence of that confusion is that, whenever free-speech questions arise, you always get a ton of emails droning, "There's no First Amendment issue here, Steyn. Mozilla/Brandeis/A&E/whoever is not the government. It's a private entity and is perfectly free to can its chief exec/disinvite Ayaan Hirsi Ali/suspend 'Duck Dynasty'/whatever if it wants to."

Which is true as far as it goes, but doesn't address the core question of ugly thuggish identity-group enforcers remorselessly narrowing the bounds of permissible public discourse.

Still, for all those First Amendment pedants out there, consider this story from Houston, Texas:

The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city's first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.

That's to say, the government is using the law to harass religious institutions critical of a political figure. Which sounds like First Amendment 101. I had to read it through a couple of times to check that I hadn't missed some crucial element. But on a close reading it gets even better. The government is demanding the right to inspect not merely sermons, which are texts written for public consumption, but private speech, too:

Among those slapped with a subpoena is Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church. He was ordered to produce all speeches and sermons related to Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality and gender identity.

The mega-church pastor was also ordered to hand over "all communications with members of your congregation" regarding the non-discrimination law.

The impetus for all this is a municipal ordinance:

The subpoenas are just the latest twist in an ongoing saga over the Houston's new non-discrimination ordinance. The law, among other things, would allow men to use the ladies room and vice versa.

When Rush Limbaugh interviewed me the other day, I airily used "transgendered bathrooms" as an all-purpose shorthand for the kind of peripheral cultural issues that cumulatively add up to far more profound societal changes than anything most conservative politicians fuss over. And so in Houston it has proved: When the transgendered bathroom ordinance runs up against the First Amendment, it's the First Amendment that gets left for roadkill.

~Meanwhile, in Kentucky, a Lexington T-shirt company has fallen afoul of the local "human rights commission" for declining to print T-shirts for the gay pride parade that it found offensive. As part of his ruling, the "human rights" commisssar, Greg Munson, has sentenced the T-shirt refuseniks to re-education camp:

The second demand is that Hands on Originals — a company with around 30 employees — would need to participate in diversity training within the next 12 months.

Or, as Laura Rosen Cohen says, "Off to Diversity Gulag": The more we celebrate diversity, the more we have to enforce it with ruthless conformity. Big Gay has won most of its battles, and could surely afford to be magnanimous in victory. But it has a totalitarian urge to hunt down the last holdouts: Nobody cares if the T-shirt guy really has a change of heart; all that's necessary is to force him to pretend to believe and to drone the mandated pabulum in public.

~Insofar as either of these stories gets any traction, they'll be presented in the mainstream media as haters vs gays. That's another example of how the left has conquered the cultural space: after being marinated in narratives of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia et al since kindergarten, fewer and fewer people even pay lip service to ideas of "free speech". Why, if free speech is being used to attack transgendered bathrooms, then it's part of the problem and has to go. And note that these stories are not from blue-state la-la lands like Massachusetts and California, but from supposed red-meat red states. How red do you suppose they'll be looking by, say, 2030?

~On the matter of Ebola: This Centers for Disease Control panjandrum, Thomas Frieden, is not the most impressive guy, and he's had to walk back his blithe assertion that the Ebola-stricken nurse in Dallas has only herself to blame. My view of the government's command of the situation is that, if this thing spins out of control, one should always bear in mind this transcript preserved for posterity by the 9/11 Commission:

FAA Command Center: "Do we want to think about scrambling aircraft?"

FAA Headquarters: "God, I don't know."

FAA Command Center: "That's a decision somebody's going to have to make, probably in the next 10 minutes."

FAA Headquarters: "You know, everybody just left the room."

Tom Frieden feels like an everybody-just-left-the-room kinda guy.

~On a lighter Ebola note, when my daughter was in eighth grade a couple of years back she went on the school trip to Washington, DC, and saw many sights of the city, including the aircraft that dropped the big one on Hiroshima, the Enola Gay. Back in New Hampshire, the schoolkids had to write an essay on the part of the Washington trip that had made the most impact on them, and so my daughter wrote about how moved she'd been to see the actual Ebola Gay. That's how she spelled it all the way through her essay: "the Ebola Gay."

Texas has Ebola (Dallas) and gays (Houston) but it does not yet have an Ebola Gay.

~My new book isn't out till October 20th, but it's already attracted the much-coveted Amazon one-star review! Hello, Hello Jimmy!:

It's the same old claptrap and pablum that excites the loins of the conservative lemmings in this country--the kind of fact-free red meat for right-wingers to which they can pleasure themselves. (The irony that this collection opens with a story about Viagra is not lost upon me.) ...It's all been written, said, and done before--and then repeated ad nauseam on right-wing radio and Fox Newz.

Well, just so long as he paid full-price.

~I may have said it all before, but I haven't said it terribly recently. I've been overseas for much of the last month, so I'm looking forward to picking up where I left off with Toronto's Number One morning man, John Oakley, live on AM640 Wednesday morning at 8.30am Eastern.

October 14, 2014 at 11:25 pm  |  Permalink

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