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Mark Steyn

Big Fat Greeks, and Weddings

Kathy Shaidle had a short but ingenious post the other day, headlined "If we're crazy, they made us that way":

The same people who told us 30 years ago that "marriage is just a stupid piece of paper" now insist that it's a "human right."

The same people who told us that "a flag is just a meaningless piece of material" now want certain flags banned and others raised — or else.

The same people who say you can't change who you want to f*ck tell us you CAN change the bits you f*ck them with...

The same people who used to tell us to "lighten up" and "learn to take a joke" now fire people who make them.

It's always a mistake to expect first principles from the left. In Turkey President Erdogan famously explained that democracy is a train you ride until the stop you want to get to - and then you get off. That's how the left feels about "rights". There are no principles, only accretions of power.

For those of us cursed by principled argument, the problem of the passing years is that, whatever comes up in the headlines, we had our say five, ten, twenty years ago, and haven't changed our minds. Six years ago I wrote a column for Maclean's, which was itself a restatement of a column from The Western Standard another five years before that - all about polygamy, and the gay activists purporting to scoff at it:

Five years ago [ie, 2004], proponents of same-sex marriage went into full you-cannot-be-serious eye-rolling mode when naysayers warned that polygamy would be next. As I wrote in that Western Standard piece:

"Gay marriage, they assure us, is the merest amendment to traditional marriage, and once we've done that we'll pull up the drawbridge."

Claire L'Heureux-Dubé, the former Supreme Court justice, remains confident the drawbridge is firmly up. "Marriage is a union of two people, period," she said in Quebec the other day. But it used to be a union of one man and one woman, period. And, if that period got kicked down the page to accommodate a comma and a subordinate clause, why shouldn't it get kicked again? If the sex of the participants is no longer relevant, why should the number be?

Ah, well, says Mme L'Heureux-Dubé, polygamists don't enjoy the same societal acceptance as gays. "I don't see a parade of polygamists on Ste-Catherine Street," observes the great jurist, marshalling the same dazzling quality of argument she used back in her days as the Supreme Court's most outspoken activist on gay issues.

Etc. Headline from this morning's Politico:

It's Time to Legalize Polygamy
Why group marriage is the next horizon of social liberalism

The right never learns that there is no last concession, only a nano-second's respite to catch your breath and then (to reprise another Kathy Shaidle line) more KY for that slippery slope.

Someday soon some judge somewhere will rule in favor of polygamy, not because the left is especially invested in this particular "expansion" of rights but because of the opportunities it provides for further vandalism of what's left of the old order. That's what matters.

That's why the US Supreme Court decision was a twofer for the left. As I said the other day, even if one disagrees, one can respect the process in Dublin (gay marriage by referendum) or London (gay marriage legislated by the people's representatives in parliament). But the American left preferred to go the Supreme Court route - because, if you're hardcore about these things, to divine a right to gay marriage in an 18th century parchment or to insist that "established by the State" refers not primarily to states but to the Secretary of Health and Human Services is a totalitarian act that destroys both law and language by rendering them meaningless: what's not to like? After the incoherence of John Roberts' health-care opinion and then the next day's effusions on the profundity of gay love and loneliness by Anthony Kennedy, the Radclyffe Hall of American jurists, the justices' total capitulation to the zeitgeist is all but complete. Modifying Wonderland's Queen, the Supreme Court of Wonderland seems to work on the principle of "Verdict first - reasoning afterwards, if at all."

In the gloomier moments of my own case, my lawyers and I occasionally discuss how, if it all goes pear-shaped in DC, we'll be off to SCOTUS. But we're not Larry Flynt in the Eighties anymore. It would seem to me rather complacent to assume these days that there are five votes for free speech at the US Supreme Court.

~Likewise, the looming rendezvous with destiny in the Hellenes. Greek banks remain closed today and all this week. Steven Hayward spots this revealing comment from one Athenian:

"How can something like this happen without prior warning?" asked Angeliki Psarianou, a 67-year-old retired public servant, who stood in the drizzle after arriving too late at one empty ATM in the Greek capital.

Don't you just hate it when the Germans refuse to re-fill your ATM?

Given that "retired public servants" have been at the center of Greece's crisis for years, Ms [apologies for earlier mistering] Psarianou's bewilderment is rather touching. It certainly wasn't bewildering to me because I've been writing about Ms Psarianou and his ilk for years. See After America (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, etc, and, while royalties are not as reliable as a Greek civil-service pension, the author is most grateful):

From The Times of London, May 6th 2010:

'The President of Greece warned last night that his country stood on the brink of the abyss after three people were killed when an anti-government mob set fire to the Athens bank where they worked.'

Almost right. They were not an "anti-government" mob, but a government mob, a mob comprised largely of civil servants. That they are highly uncivil and disinclined to serve should come as no surprise: they're paid more and they retire earlier, and that's how they want to keep it. So they're objecting to austerity measures that would end, for example, the tradition of 14 monthly paychecks per annum. You read that right: the Greek public sector cannot be bound by anything so humdrum as temporal reality. So, when it was mooted that the "workers" might henceforth receive a mere 12 monthly paychecks per annum, they rioted. Their hapless victims - a man and two women - were a trio of clerks trapped in a bank when the mob set it alight and then obstructed emergency crews attempting to rescue them.

Unlovely as they are, the Greek rioters are the logical end point of the advanced social democratic state: not an oppressed underclass, but a spoiled overclass, rioting in defense of its privileges and insisting on more subsidy, more benefits, more featherbedding, more government.

Who will pay for it? Not my problem, say the rioters. Maybe those dead bank clerks' clients will - assuming we didn't burn them to death, too.

This is the world Ms Psarianou willed into being. How can he be surprised now that it's shown up?

To prop up unsustainable welfare states, most of the western world isn't "printing money" but instead printing credit cards and pre-approving our unborn grandchildren. That would be a dodgy proposition at the best of times. But in the Mediterranean those grandchildren are never going to be born. That's the difference: In America, the improvident, insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany, and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, there are no kids or grandkids to screw over. In the end the entitlement state disincentivizes everything from wealth creation to self-reliance to the survival instinct, as represented by the fertility rate. If the problem with socialism, as Mrs Thatcher famously said, is that eventually you run out of other people's money, the problem with Greece and much of Europe is that they've advanced to the next stage: They've run out of other people, period. All the downturn has done is brought forward by a couple of decades the west's date with demographic destiny.

The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1 — or just over two kids per couple. Greece, as I pointed out in America Alone, has one of the lowest fertility rates on the planet - 1.3 children per couple, which places it in the "lowest-low" demographic category from which no society has recovered and, according to the UN, 178th out of 195 countries. In practical terms, it means 100 grandparents have 42 grandkids – ie, the family tree is upside down.

That's the arithmetic that brought Ms Psarianou to his empty ATM: As I said all those years ago, how likely is it that the debts run up by 100 people will be paid off by 42?

Greek public sector employees are entitled not only to 14 monthly paychecks per annum during their "working" lives, but also 14 monthly retirement checks per annum till death. Who's going to be around to pay for that?

So you can't borrow against the future because, in the crudest sense, you don't have one. Greeks in the public sector retire at 58, which sounds great. But, when ten grandparents have four grandchildren, who pays for you to spend the last third of your adult life loafing around?

Welcome to My Big Fat Greek Funeral.

We hard-hearted small-government guys are often damned as selfish types who care nothing for the general welfare. But, as the protests in Greece, France, Britain and beyond make plain, nothing makes an individual more selfish than the generous collectivism of big government: Give a chap government health care, government-paid vacation, government-funded early retirement and all the other benefits, and the last thing he'll care about is what it means for society as a whole. People's sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense. And, if it bankrupts the entire state a generation from now, so what? In his pithiest maxim, John Maynard Keynes, the most influential economist of the 20th century social-democratic state and the patron saint of "stimulus", offered a characteristically offhand dismissal of any obligation to the future: "In the long run we are all dead." The Greeks are Keynesians to a man: The mob is rioting for the right to carry on suspending reality until they're all dead. After that, who cares..?

Greek public servants have their nose to the grindstone 24/7: They work 24 hours a week for seven months of the year. It's not just that every year you receive 14 monthly payments, but that you only do about 30 weeks' work for it. For many public-sector "workers", the work day ends at 2.30pm. Gosh, when you retire on your 14 monthly pension payments, you scarce notice the difference, except for a few freed-up mornings...

They share that at least with the US Supreme Court. "Rights" are no longer restraints against the state but the gift of a generous sovereign:

Greece, wrote Theodore Dalrymple, is "a cradle not only of democracy but of democratic corruption" - of electorates who give their votes to leaders who bribe them with baubles purchased by borrowing against a future that can never pay it off. The advanced democracies with their mountains of sovereign debt are the equivalent of old people who've blown through their capital and are all out of ideas looking for young people flush enough to bail them out. And the idea that it might be time for the spendthrift geezers to change their ways butts up against their indestructible moral vanity. In 2009, President Sarkozy prissily declared that the G20 summit provided "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give capitalism a conscience". European capitalism may have a conscience. It's not clear it has a pulse. And, actually, when you're burning Greek bank clerks to death in defense of your benefits, your "conscience" isn't much in evidence, either.

If Ms Psarianou is interested, it's not too late for her to get a personally autographed copiy of After America. We accept most forms of payment, but please, no checks drawn on Greek banks.

~A programming note: On Wednesday morning I'll be starting the day with the great Bill Bennett, live coast to coast on your radio at 8.30am Eastern.

June 30, 2015 at 9:45 am  |  Permalink

That Flagging Feeling

In Saturday's column, I suggested that, somewhat improbably from the late Sam Huntington's point of view, the clash of civilizations is dwindling down to the dar al Islam vs the dar al Gay. The good news is that the dar al Gay now has a national flag.

This weekend, the gate-delay channel CNN had an "exclusive" revealing that the black flag of ISIS had been spotted at London's Gay Pride parade, and so they quickly rustled up Peter Berger and other crack national-security analysts to provide insight on this unexpected convergence of the jihad and the gayhad.

Unfortunately for CNN, the black flag of ISIS turned out to be a black flag showing various sex aids. The CNN reporter had assumed that the attractive arrangements of, er, dildos and, um, butt plugs was, in fact, Arabic script - an easy mistake to make, no doubt, but not one you'd want to have to explain to the Cultural Sensitivity Disciplinary Committee.

Still, at least we now have a flag to fly for our end of the clash of civilizations: Hoist the Jolly Roger!

Incidentally, I see from my OED that an inability to distinguish between "Allahu Akbar" and a butt plug is in fact the dictionary definition of "celebrate diversity".

~Speaking of diversity, I wrote recently about the total destruction of the life and career of Professor Sir Tim Hunt, FRS over 37 words he is reported to have uttered in Seoul. Sir Tim is a brilliant scientist and a genuine Nobel Laureate - unlike, say, hockey-stick huckster Michael E Mann, who is neither. But he made a "sexist" remark and so he has to be cast into outer darkness.

The Daily Mail, which on many a morning increasingly feels like the last newspaper on earth, reports that Sir Tim's lynch mob was set on him by an "academic" called Connie St Louis, whose bio at City University states:

Connie St Louis . . . is an award-winning freelance broadcaster, journalist, writer and scientist.

She presents and produces a range of programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service . . . She writes for numerous outlets, including The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, BBC On Air magazine and BBC Online.

The Mail was surprised to discover that hardly a word of the above is true:

Connie St Louis does not 'present and produce' a range of programmes for Radio 4. Her most recent work for the station, a documentary about pharmaceuticals called 'The Magic Bullet', was broadcast in October 2007.

Golly, even I've been on the Beeb more recently than that.

For another, it's demonstrably false to say she 'writes' for The Independent, Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.

Digital archives for all three newspapers, which stretch back at least 20 years, contain no by-lined articles that she has written for any of these titles, either in their print or online editions. The Mail's accounts department has no record of ever paying her for a contribution...

Asked to explain these discrepancies — although details of the claims are carried, remember, on the internet page where she is supposed to present her credentials to students and fellow academics — St Louis said she had done interviews for the Daily Mail but conceded it was 'possible' that she had never written for the paper.

She said her by-lined articles in the Independent and Sunday Times may have been published more than two decades ago. Asked how she could, therefore, justify the claim on her CV that she 'writes' for the titles, she hung up.

So it all evens out. Rachel Dolezal is a privileged white who identifies as a black grievance-monger. Connie St Louis is a black grievance-monger who identifies as a white-privilege Independent columnist.

Nonetheless, on the word of Professor St Louis and her lynch mob, the Royal Society bounced Tim Hunt from its Biological Sciences Awards Committee and is apparently under pressure to revoke his fellowship entirely. They did this without any proof - which seems odd coming from the oldest scientific society on earth.

So we lose a superb Nobel scientist but keep a third-rate lying mediocrity. My problem with all this is that, increasingly, key levers of society are being ceded to the irredeemably stupid and mendacious, who seem to be the only ones capable of navigating the rocks and rapids of political correctness. One has the uneasy feeling that similar scenarios are playing out every day around the western world. How long before the planes start dropping out of the sky?

~Dan Hollombe's recent letter about 1967 as the apex of easy listening has prompted a little intra-boomer pushback from reader Cory Franklin:

Mark:
Dan Hollombe has it almost right, but not quite with "Something Stupid".

There were two absolutely clear dividing timeline dates in rock and roll. Most people are aware of the first- 2/9/64. The night The Beatles premiered on Sullivan. It marked the beginning of the British Invasion and the beginning of the end for many American artists and The Brill Building sound.The beginning of the exodus of rockers to the West Coast. Elvis may have changed rock and roll in the 1950's as much, but no single performance was such a sharp demarcation.

The second,less noted but just as profound was 6/1/67 - the date Sgt Pepper debuted. That changed music in an even more profound way. It was the beginning of the end of crossover hits, the Beach Boys, Four Seasons, the Buckinghams, Mamas and Papas, even the Wrecking Crew (they would go on for a while with The Monkees but their salad days were behind them as an outfit by then), as well as Sinatra as a contemporary artist and even much of The British Invasion. Petula, Dave Clark Five,Hollies- best days over, Stones and Kinks had to reconfigure. There is a little bit of bleed, but rock music was a much different animal in the second half of 1967 than in the first half.

The first half, of which "Something Stupid" and most of the crossovers you cite, was much more of 1966 and before.Did Sinatra have another hit after that until he came out of retirement?

The second half was much more of 1968 and beyond- drugs, Summer of Love, Doors, Jefferson Airplane. Motown would start giving way to Stax, Obviously The Beatles themselves were a completely different group after 6/1/67. "Strawberry Fields" was hardly an anomaly -it was simply part of the second half of 1967.

Listen to music from 1964, 65, 66. and pre June 1967 - very close in style, then listen to music from July 1967, 1968, 69, 70. - much different. I ask you- was there ever such a rapid shift in styles? Within a year or two? And 6/1/67 was the date of the change,

In terms of Sinatra, that changed his musical career - he started making bad music choices and changed his life as well. Can you say Mia? It would take him a while to recover.

Cory Franklin

Well, I wouldn't say Mia was necessarily a bad choice, and she's still one of the clan, to the point where she has her own page at the Sinatra Family website. As to the broader question, I'm not sure I have a dog in this fight, but I am wary of all-or-nothing dividing lines. As I wrote last year about the previous decade:

It remains the official Year Zero of the rock'n'roll revolution; it didn't just rock the clock, it reset it: all the Billboard Hot 100 chart reference books use July 9th 1955 - the day "Rock Around The Clock" hit Number One - as Day One of "the rock era". You can see what they're getting at: "Clock"'s five predecessors at Number One were "Let Me Go, Lover" by Joan Weber, "Hearts Of Stone" by the Fontane Sisters, "Sincerely" by the McGuire Sisters, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" by Bill Hayes and "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" by Pérez Prado. Most Americans hadn't heard of "rock" until "Rock Around The Clock", and afterwards they heard of little else. It was tough on the sister acts.

As I point out, "Rock Around The Clock" was composed by a guy born in the 19th century.

~If you missed me on C-SPAN's Book TV this weekend, you can see it at your leisure here.

June 29, 2015 at 12:02 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, June 22-28

In case you missed him on TV on Saturday night, Steyn will be back on C-SPAN's Book TV tonight (or tomorrow morning, depending on whether you're late to bed or early to rise) talking about the Number One Climatology bestseller Climate Change: The Facts. The show airs Sunday night/Monday morn at 4am Eastern/1am Pacific.

Meanwhile, here's how a turbulent seven days looked to Mark:

He started the week with a strong cup of coffee, which was just as well. And he followed it with a Monday-morning Danish pastry, and some thoughts on Scandinavian elections, and Aussie temperature "adjustments".

~On Tuesday Steyn addressed an outrageous assault on free speech even by the standards of overreaching US prosecutors - in this case, Assistant US Attorney Niketh Velamoor. "The Eye of the Goon" was our most-read column of the week.

~On Wednesday, in a lively appearance with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Mark argued re the current Confederate Flag frenzy that the Democratic Party was the largest and most powerful slavery supporting institution on the planet, and the only one to survive to the 21st century.

~On Thursday the Chief Justice saved RobertsCare - whoops, ObamaCare - for the second time, and Mark told Hugh Hewitt on the radio that he didn't really care for Supreme Courts that are as supreme as this one.

~Speaking of which, on Friday Supreme Intergalactic Arbiter Anthony Kennedy discovered a constitutional right to gay marriage. Abroad, in a day of extraordinary bloodshed, dozens of western tourists were shot dead on their sunbeds on a Tunisian beach. Mark found it an unsettling juxtaposition.

By week's end, Steyn's Sinatra Century had reached a Cole Porter classic "I Concentrate On You", but for those who prefer "the rude beauty of a Southern field hand musing in melody on his porch" he also marked the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone". For our Saturday showbiz feature, Mark bid ave atque vale to the great Patrick Macnee, squire to a trio of top totty on TV's "The Avengers".

If you enjoyed Steyn's C-SPAN appearance and want an update on Michael E Mann's lawsuit against him, please see here. The good news is that Climate Change: The Facts is back in stock at Amazon, and Mark and his co-authors are cleaning Mann's clock on the Climatology Hit Parade. You can also order the book, personally autographed, direct from the SteynOnline bookstore - and, if you need it in the next 90 seconds, it's out in eBook via Kindle, Nook at Barnes & Noble, or Kobo at Indigo-Chapters in Canada and around the world.

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

June 28, 2015 at 7:35 am  |  Permalink

A Land Beyond Law ...in a Lawless World

A few hours before my weekly appearance on The Hugh Hewitt Show, the Supreme Court leaped to the rescue of Obamacare yet again, with not only designated swinger Anthony Kennedy but also Chief Justice John Roberts joining in the 6-3 decision. That's where Hugh and I began:

HUGH HEWITT: Here to tell you that Obamacare is not going to be amended or repealed until we get a new president... The federal subsidies are going to stay just as they are. Joining me to talk about this and the much more pressing issues, actually much more pressing issues of terrorism in the world, none other than Columnist To the World Mark Steyn. You can read everything Mark writes over at www.steynonline.com. Mark, your first reaction to the 6-3 decision today..?

MARK STEYN: A disgraceful decision. As you know, Hugh, I'm not a believer in Supreme Courts that are as supreme as America's Supreme Court is anyway. I don't believe there's any reason why free people should be ruled by nine black-robed regents. I don't accept that proposition. But if you do, then those nine judges have to exercise their power with a certain humility. The idea that words no longer have plain meaning, that the words "established by the state" can now mean "established by ...whatever", I think is very disturbing - not just for health care, which is a disaster in this country, but for almost any law. I mean, essentially if they are now in this interpretive business entirely disconnected from the plain meaning of language, then I don't see why any statute since the first settlers got here couldn't actually be rewritten on the basis they did with this one.

The Chief Justice, writing for the majority, explained his reasoning thus:

In this instance, the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the act in a way that is consistent with the former and avoids the latter.

Even if that assertion is correct (and it's by no means clear that it is), in his dissent, Antonin Scalia responded, "It's up to Congress to design its laws with care, and it's up to the people to hold them to account if they fail to carry out that responsibility."

MS: That's why I think it's extremely disturbing for the rule of law, and for a system of checks and balances... Roberts and the majority purport to divine Congress' intent and to say that ...these four words were inappropriately phrased. In fact, as Scalia pointed out, they went to quite a lot of trouble to fine-tune what they meant by "established by the state". At a further point in the law, they go on to explain that if a territory wishes to set up its exchange - for example Guam or the U.S. Virgin Islands or whatever - then for the purposes of the law, they, too, shall be covered by this phrase "established by the state"... The people who wrote the law gave these four words some thought, and they decided that the words "established by the state" meant states, obviously, but they also meant territories for the purpose of this legislation. Nowhere do they say it's the Secretary of Health and Human Services or the World Health Organization or the U.N. Secretary-General or Justin Bieber or anybody else. They were actually quite specific about that.

Or as Scalia remarked at the end of his mordant dissent:

We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.

- which, a Hugh noted, got a laugh from the Court.

HH: Now I got a pretty interesting email from one of my law partners, Mark, who is a Democrat, saying look, clearly what's going on here is that Roberts realized the toxicity in the political system has reached such a high level that he imperils the Court if he strikes down Obamacare, and that he's leaving it to the political branches to fight it out and trying to keep the Court in place. What do you make of that argument?

MS: Yeah, we had that argument last time round when he did his previous pretzel ruling ...that eventually decided it was perfectly lawful to force every single American to purchase a product from a nominally private company. And we were told that he did that because the toxicity of the decision to strike that down would damage the Court's reputation. So now again, with a care for the Court's reputation, he's twisted himself into a pretzel again. Presumably the same considerations will apply when it comes to same sex marriage. In that case, there is no point to a Supreme Court. If they can't take the heat of decisions that go against the zeitgeist or the popular mood or whatever fancies and foibles are in the air, then there is no point to a constitutional court. If he's saying we can't take the heat, fine. Then let the legislators who have to account to the citizens, let them take the heat. What polling booth do you go to to vote out John Roberts? What polling booth do you go to to vote out Anthony Kennedy? Scalia's line is not a joke. It is SCOTUSCare... The judicial branch is in effect now actually legislating and broadening the terms of the law. And that is something that ought to be extremely disturbing to anyone, particularly a constitutional court, but to anyone who gives any thought as to whether we're a land of laws or a land of men.

As to actual health care itself, and the "improvements" in the insurance market that Roberts was so anxious to save, I pointed out to Hugh the obvious - that "insurance" in this country now bears no relationship to the likelihood of you getting ill nor to the likely cost of whatever it is you might get. A year's "insurance" against ill-health costs about as much as three serious illnesses would in any other advanced nation. Meanwhile, the "deductibles" - the part you have to pay yourself - are higher and higher but purchase less and less, because under RobertsCare government and insurers are setting rates for routine procedures that are entirely divorced from what those procedures actually cost:

MS: I have a high deductible plan. I went to a hospital here. I had an X-Ray and an MRI. And under my high deductible, I had to pay $4,200 dollars for that, because the old 40% cash discount and everything is all gone now. $4,200. I could have flown first class to Bermuda, had it done at the King Edward VII hospital in Bermuda, flown back first class, and still have come out $2,000 ahead. And that is the insanity of this - that we now have neither a public system nor a private system, but some monstrosity of a pushmepullyou that has been enabled not only by the President and a feckless Congress with its thousand page unread laws, but now from the nine robed regents who are supposed to be the masters of the universe at untangling all the messes that the sleazy politicians make.

Hugh, being an optimist, thinks the GOP will ride to the rescue. I was less certain:

MS: I'm getting the sense now that what will happen to squishy finger-in-the-windy Republicans is that more and more of them will start to talk less and less about repealing, and more and more about figuring out a way to live with it.

If you needed another reason not to let the Government run your health care, Hugh and I also discussed the news that the Chinese have hacked into the federal computers and waltzed off with the personnel records of 30 million federal bureaucrats (a remarkable number in itself, by the way):

MS: These are the 30 million who matter. I mean, if someone gets, if the Russians or the Chinese or whoever get my personal data, they can't use it to access a government building in Washington. The information that they've taken from 30 million key Americans will prove very useful to China and to whoever they decide to share it with...

HH: I was the general counsel and deputy director there. I think they got all that. I think they got the name of every scientist at Livermore.

We also found time to discuss ISIS and its ingenious use of social media:

MS: What we've got here is medieval fanatics who use 21st Century technology better than Obama and the rest of the West does. And if you don't think that that's not going to have some serious consequences sometime down the road, then you know, just stay in your little bubble and watch your cat videos until the mushroom cloud goes up.

HH: Yeah, they used James Cameron-level underwater video photography to film the drowning of their five tortured people.

The world turns. At an American gas company in France, a worker is decapitated and the flag of Islamic imperialism raised. On the beaches of Tunisia, terrorists kill dozens of western tourists on sunbeds. That's a first: the civilized world is dying on a sunbed. Life's a beach, and then you die.

You can find the full Hewitt/Steyn interview here.

June 26, 2015 at 9:35 am  |  Permalink

The Robed Regents Have Pronounced!

Obamacare, the great no-longer-private not-quite-public pushmepullyou of western health-care systems, lives another day. By a 6-3 majority of the Supreme Court, it has been determined that the words "established by the states" now mean "established by whatever". Boy, that John Roberts is really growing in office.

I'll be talking about the decision with Hugh Hewitt on the radio today, coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

~Speaking of great moments in the life of a republic, how about this?

President Barack Obama took on a heckler head-on at a gay pride month reception at the White House Wednesday, scolding the protester for being disrespectful in "my house."

Six-and-a-half years ago, when I started making jokes about Barackingham Palace, I didn't expect him to take it seriously. So much for "the people's house".

~A propos my remarks on Hannity last night, Ken Jones writes to Mark's Mailbox:

I am 69 years old, grew up in Jefferson County, Alabama, about 20 miles out of Birmingham. My dad bought a country store and service station when I was ten years old. I well remember sample ballots being dropped off for customers to pick up if they wanted prior to elections. The Democrat ballots had "The Party of White Supremacy" printed right across the top. I also remember Democrat, Bull Conner, turning his dogs and fire hoses on blacks. All the "Jim Crow" laws, forcing segregation, were passed by Democrats. It is amazing to me how the Democrats turn history around and blame Republicans for these things, and get away with it.

They do it because Republicans let them get away with it.

As I said last night, the Democratic Party was the largest and most powerful pro-slavery institution on the planet. And its institutional support for racism continued well into our own time. On September 11th 2001, the third in line of presidential succession (after the veep and the House Speaker) was Robert C Byrd, the president pro tem of the Senate. Had it not been for the vagaries of White House scheduling and the brave men of Flight 93, America could have wound up with not just a Klansman President but a Grand Kleagle Klansman President - in the 21st century. All thanks to a Democratic Party that has never faced up to what in the English-speaking world is a uniquely evil history.

June 25, 2015 at 11:02 am  |  Permalink

All-Time World Champions of Institutional Racism

On Wednesday night I swung by Hannity on Fox News to discuss the Democratic Party's uniquely appalling record on racism - unique in the English-speaking world, that is.

The starting point, of course, was the Confederate flag flap. The Confederate flag means nothing to me one way or another. Nor does it seem to have meant much to this racist murderer Roof. I mean, he seems to have had no particular objection to it as a cultural marker for genial rednecks in pick-ups - or whatever Howard Dean meant when he said he wanted the votes of fellows with Confederate flags on their trucks. But it evidently didn't do it for Roof as a serious emblem of white supremacism, which is why he favored on his garb the flags of apartheid South Africa and UDI Rhodesia.

So as usual the Democrats and media have artfully loosed a total distraction whose only purpose is to put Republicans on the defensive and force them to fold on something while we're waiting on them to fold on Obamacare or the immigration amnesty. As I always say, the GOP's so good at folding they ought to be White House valets.

But even for the Stupid Party you have to be the chumps of the planet to let the Democrats hang what is uniquely their history round your neck.

You can see my entire interview with Sean here:

Steyn added that the "Democratic Party was the largest and most powerful institution supporting slavery in the English speaking world."

More from Breitbart News:

Steyn said, "I know the GOP is called the stupid party, but the idea that Republicans can have the Confederate flag hung around their neck is ridiculous. It's a Democrat flag. The flags — the states that seceded during the Civil War were all Democrat states, that's their flag, the slave states were Democrat states, the racist states, until the 1960s, were Democrat states. The Democratic Party is the — was the largest and most powerful institution supporting slavery in the English-speaking world. And it's the only one that has survived till the 21st century."

He continued, "it's their flag, Hillary Clinton had it on campaign bumper stickers when she ran for president in 2008. You mentioned Robert C. Byrd, Sean. Bill Clinton was doing Klu Klux Klan Grand Kleagle jokes at Byrd's funeral, saying, Robert C. Byrd, he used to — was the Grand Kleagle, he just did what he had to do."

Breitbart didn't quote my Robert C Byrd song hit "I'm too sexy for my sheet." The Daily Caller also picks up on my remarks. And the Right Scoop offers a few more quotes from me:

It's a party with an incredible century and a half history of institutional racism. There's nothing like it anywhere on the planet.

I mean that. The Anglo-Celts who settled America and elsewhere are not great slavers. No slavery in Canada, or Australia, or New Hampshire. In the anglosphere, slaveholding was an enthusiasm of the southern states of the US, and the biggest institutional supporter of slavery - in the entire English-speaking world - was the Democratic Party. And, after slavery was abolished by Republicans, the Democrats created a century-long apparatus of enforced segregation and anti-miscegenation laws, again unique in the English-speaking world.

The only comparable movement was Afrikaaner nationaliism in South Africa, and as I said to Sean:

People go on about apartheid South Africa; the National Party came to power in 1948 and they were gone 45 years later. That's how long they lasted and they're nothing now.

The Democratic Party has never come to terms with the evil of its past. It was a party committed to the proposition that one human being could own another human being and they've never said a word about that. They've never apologized for it. They've never atoned for it in the way that they have the reconciliation commission in South Africa.

I mentioned the faintly absurd phenomenon started a few years ago of western politicians apologizing for historical events - Tony Blair for the Irish potato famine, Brian Mulroney for the internment of Japanese Canadians, etc. And then I wondered:

When is the Democratic Party going to apologize for being the biggest slave-holding supporting institution on the planet and sticking with racism for the century after the abolition of slavery?

In no other country would the Democratic Party still be here. It would have gone the way of the National Party.

You can watch the entire interview here.

~On Thursday I'll be keeping my weekly radio date with Hugh Hewitt, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific. Hope you'll tune in.

June 25, 2015 at 8:10 am  |  Permalink

Danish Pastry Past Sell-By Date

I'm looking forward to being in Copenhagen later this year, so I've been keeping an eye on the local scene - and I see that, following a close election, the "right-wing, anti-immigration Danish People's Party" is now the second largest in Parliament. The largest party is Helle Thorning-Schmidt's Social Democratic Party, but, in the larger scheme of things, her center-left coalition has lost to a center-right coalition. So Ms Thorning-Schmidt has resigned as party leader.

I shall miss the tasty leftie blondie, not so much for her all too predictably feeble and evasive words after the jihadist murders in Copenhagen, but because she prompted me to describe Obama and Cameron at the fiasco that was Mandela's funeral as "doing selfies with the Danish pastry" - a phrase I shall probably never have cause to write again, alas. Anyway, from my funereal obsequies, here's the moment when the leaders of the free world got a little freer than they should have:

Speaking of enjoying themselves, back in the VIP seats President Obama, Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and British prime minister David Cameron carried on like Harry, Hermione, and Ron snogging in the back row during the Hogwarts Quidditch Cup presentation. As the three leaders demonstrated their hands-on approach, Michelle Obama glowered straight ahead, as stony and merciless as the 15-foot statue of apartheid architect Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd that once stood guard outside the government offices of the Orange Free State. Eventually, weary of the trilateral smooching, the first lady switched seats and inserted herself between Barack and the vivacious Helle. How poignant that, on a day to celebrate the post-racial South Africa, the handsome young black man should have to be forcibly segregated from the cool Aryan blonde. For all the progress, as Obama himself pointed out, "our work is not yet done."

That is one unmelancholy Dane.

~In his splendid essay on the climate wars and our briskly selling tome Climate Change: The Facts, Matt Ridley quotes the motto of the Royal Society, the oldest learned society on earth: Nullius in verba.

Take nobody's word for it.

Not anymore. These days the pitch of climate mullahs like Michael E Mann is: Trust me, I'm a scientist. It's all argument from authority, even before they enlisted His Holiness (the Pope, that is, not Mann).

It's fascinating to hear the court eunuchs explain that you can't criticize Big Climate because you're not a scientist. So then a Will Happer or a Freeman Dyson speaks up, and they say, ah, yes, but he's not a climate scientist, he's just a physicist or a biologist or some rinky-dink carney-barker like that, so he doesn't count (see Greg Mann-Laden's dismissal of physicist Jonathan Jones today, for example -"an area of physics that has absolutely nothing to do with climate change", so pay him no heed). And woe betide any climatologist who doesn't work at a government institution or a university dependent on government funding: no room anymore for independent "gentleman scientists" like, er, Charles Darwin.

Even so, I was surprised to see this from Jo Nova. As you know, the Keepers of the Temperatures in America and elsewhere are busy "adjusting" their records. The guy who checked the thermometer back in 1915 may have thought it was 73.2 degrees but, with the benefit of hindsight, his successors have decided it was 73.1. As I said at Heartland's climate conference the other day, NOAA's just come out with the most dramatically adjusted figures since Caitlyn Jenner. On what basis do the experts perform these mystical adjustments? Let's ask Australia's Bureau of Meteorology:

The Forum noted that the extent to which the development of the ACORN-SAT dataset from the raw data could be automated was likely to be limited, and that the process might better be described as a supervised process in which the roles of metadata and other information required some level of expertise and operator intervention. The Forum investigated the nature of the operator intervention required and the bases on which such decisions are made and concluded that very detailed instructions from the Bureau are likely to be necessary for an end-user who wishes to reproduce the ACORN-SAT findings. Some such details are provided in Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research (CAWCR) technical reports (e.g. use of 40 best correlated sites for adjustments, thresholds for adjustment, and so on); however, the Forum concluded that it is likely to remain the case that several choices within the adjustment process remain a matter of expert judgment and appropriate disciplinary knowledge.

Jo Nova translates:

Finally there is the black and white admission that the BOM "adjusted" dataset cannot be replicated independently, has not been replicated by any other group, and even more so, that the BOM will not provide enough information for anyone who wants to try.

As she says:

If it can't be replicated, it isn't science.

~Last Wednesday night, nine people were gunned down in a church in Charleston. On the following afternoon's Hugh Hewitt Show, Lanhee Chen asked me about the murders. Arthur Smith writes that he did not care for my response:

Well, okay. Hilary politicizes everything, but is that not exactly what you did? A few passing, prefunctory remarks on the killings in a Church, (and purposely bring in Pakistan here to show it isn't just America, right?) and then immediatley off to criticize Obama and Clinton, but with a neat little divisio just to not make it boring.

No mention by you that these were black people killed by a white guy; two facts probably key to understanding the event. (You know, just how Obama dishonoured those Christians murdered by Islamohwhatyoumaycallums in Kenya by not mentioning that they were Christians purposely murdered because they were Christians by Muslim motherfuckers. What's the difference between you and Obama here Mark?)

And here's the thing: "Gun control" means controlling who gets guns. Obviously, people who are not lucky enough to live in the all-white enclave where you live have a problem with this issue. Why don't you transcend your parochialism and tell them how to actually address it? The problem, Mark, is that this white kid, full of hate, got from gee, I don't know, also got guns to express it. How are you going to address that? I look forward to reading "Guns control: the Facts."

And don't dismiss me because I am inelegant and semi-literate. Address the real question I am asking. And not like the obverse of Obama and Clinton. Can you actually do that?

June 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, June 15-21

Happy Father's Day to all the dads among our readers. We have a song for the season - and a celebratory doughnut from Jack Lemmon's pop.

The week began with a song whose author died the night before its first performance.

~Monday was the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which Steyn marked in a very popular column: "The Field Where Liberty Was Sewn."

~On Tuesday Ken Rice of the University of Edinburgh forced himself to watch Mark's speech to the Heartland Institute's climate conference in Washington. Prof Rice did not have a good time.

~The strangest story of the week was the outing of a white woman who blacks herself up every morning to serve as president of the local African-American grievance-mongering society, which Mark mulled in our most-read column this week, "The New Minstrelsy". On Wednesday, he tied it together with another strange story - the Muslim who woke up to find Mossad had stolen just one of his shoes.

~On Thursday Mark contemplated the news that Alexander Hamilton is getting booted off the $10 bill in favor of Sacagawea, Harriet Tubman, Caitlyn Jenner or Rachel Dolezal.

~Nine people died in church in Charleston this week. On Friday Mark shared his thoughts on the murders, and the political reaction that followed.

In his weekend column, Mark considered the Pope's encyclical on climate change, the need for a fresh start, and Michael E Mann's apparent angling for a fantasy archbishopric to add to his fake Nobel Prize. For an update on Dr Fraudpants' lawsuit against Steyn, please see here. The good news is that Climate Change: The Facts is back in stock at Amazon, and Mark and his co-authors are cleaning Mann's clock on the Climatology Hit Parade. You can also order the book, personally autographed, direct from the SteynOnline bookstore - and, if you need it in the next 90 seconds, it's out in eBook via Kindle, Nook at Barnes & Noble, or Kobo at Indigo-Chapters in Canada and around the world.

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

June 21, 2015 at 8:41 am  |  Permalink

The Politicization of Everything

On Thursday I kept my weekly date on The Hugh Hewitt Show. Hugh was off promoting his book The Queen (not the Queen, but Mrs Clinton), so Lanhee Chen guest-hosted. The day was dominated by the aftermath of Wednesday's mass murder in South Carolina:

LANHEE CHEN: Obviously a day of sorrow as we follow what happens in Charleston. We're joined by Mark Steyn, regular guest here at the Hugh Hewitt Show. Mark, this is a tragic day, it's a difficult day, and obviously, the American people mourn. What's your reaction to all that's happened in the last 18 hours here or so?

MARK STEYN: Well, I think there's something particularly depraved about gunning people down during a church service, during worship. And it's something we hear about and expect to hear about from other places. A few weeks ago, it happened in Lahore, at Sunday morning service - a couple of the jihad guys decide to go in and bomb and kill people while they are worshiping. And whether it happens in Pakistan or whether it happens in the United States I think it's a depraved act on a scale beyond opening fire in other circumstances - because it suggests a murderer who sees himself as beyond God, and that is a terrifying thought. And it's particularly terrifying when you then hear that his roommate knew that he planned to start a civil war and wanted to die after killing a big bunch of people, but apparently thought that's just part of the chit chat of the day... Other than that, I regret the President attempting to politicize it. I think these are times for not playing to your tropes... When it is a different scale of depravity, when you choose a house of God as a symbol for your act of murder, then the atrocity and the horror is diminished by the President just playing to his lame tropes about gun control.

By "a different scale of depravity", I mean that there's something Nietzschean about being willing to open fire in a church - Nietzschean in the sense not that "God is dead" but in what he expected to follow that conclusion: a world where every man is his own god - even some pudding-bowled dweeb loser with all the usual pathetic addictions.

Lanhee thought the responses of both the President and Mrs Clinton were "tonally... a little bit off":

STEYN: Well, I think, I'd separate them, slightly. I think Hillary is a candidate, and if she wants to, she's entitled to play this as a candidate. But the President speaks for the nation, including the 50% of the nation that don't vote for him. And that 50% of the nation includes an awful lot of people who own an awful lot of guns, and will never do what this man did... I live here in Northern New Hampshire. I've got a lot of neighbors who have got more firepower in their homes than the average European Union army. And they've got no plans to kill anybody... To make it a political issue - in other words to take this murderer who is responsible for his actions and to tie him to a huge percentage of the general population - is an abomination. I mean, aside from the fact that it devalues the specific nature of this event and the victims, the specific real victims of this event, I think there's something just obscene in trying to attach millions of law abiding people to the act of this mass murderer.

CHEN: Yeah, and you mentioned Hillary Clinton a little different there. You think because she's running for office, because she is, you know, a candidate and not sort of in a position to be the unifier-in-chief, if you will, maybe we should give her a little more latitude?

STEYN: No, no, I'm not really saying that at all. What I'm saying is I can understand. You know, she's on the make. She looks at everything as what's in it for me. And if you're a candidate... Bernie Sanders, who's her principal opposition, is a Vermont Senator. And Vermonters have quite a high rate of gun ownership, and Bernie Sanders has a good record on gun rights. So perhaps she's thinking well, maybe Bernie came, looked good in the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, maybe I can use this as a bit of a wedge issue - which is what happens when you think of everything in political terms. There was a civil servant somewhere in Whitehall in London on September 11th, who even as the towers were crumbling on that day sent an email out to her department saying now would be a very good time to get out any news we wish to bury. In other words, there's some people who cannot even react, who are so politicized - and I think I would put Hillary Clinton in that category - who are so politicized that they cannot look on any, even the most shocking action, an act out of the blue, and not think of it in political terms. That's one of the depressing and miserable things about modern life is that everything has been politicized.

But maybe this isn't political... this isn't Democrat, this isn't Republican. And for the President and Mrs. Clinton to try and make it a Democrat or a Republican issue is vile.

You can find the entire conversation here. We also talked about the Pope's encyclical on climate change, but I'll save further thoughts on that for later.

June 19, 2015 at 4:07 pm  |  Permalink

The Moronization of the Republic

I shared my thoughts on the church murders in Charleston and the Pope's encyclical on climate change on this afternoon's Hugh Hewitt show. We'll print the transcript here tomorrow morning.

~The decision to boot Alexander Hamilton off the ten-dollar bill - or at any rate reduce him to one-half of a double-act (like the short-lived Dan Rather and Connie Chung) - is one of those small acts of historical vandalism I absolutely loathe. The powers that be have decided it's time (once more - see right) for "a woman" on a US banknote. So Hamilton's not even being bounced for some outstanding individual but just for some dreary identity-group quota. Secretary Lew said, "Find me a woman, any woman" - Sacagawea, Harriet Tubman, Caitlyn Jenner, Rachel Dolezal... And that means one of the dead white males has to go. Not Washington or Lincoln - people have still, just about, heard of them. But Hamilton? I mean, dude, like, he wasn't even president ...er, was he?

No, but he can stake a greater claim to being on there than most of the guys who were: Jackson, Wilson, they're just the passing parade - but Hamilton earned his place.

Yeah, but who knows any of that stuff these days? I took a modest pleasure when my middle kid, who'd memorized the presidents in order, demanded to know who the non-prez on the ten was and I was able to answer. It won't be the same with Bella Abzug.

We're not full-blown banana-republic - no presidents-for-life on the banknotes, yet - but downgrading him for favored identity-group representatives is politically-correct bananafication.

~Speaking of historical vandalism, an "award-winning" teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District has been suspended since March for reading Mark Twain to his class - specifically, this passage from Huckleberry Finn:

At last, when he'd built up everyone's expectations high enough, he rolled up the curtain. The next minute the king came prancing out on all fours, naked. He was painted in rings and stripes all over in all sorts of colors and looked as splendid as a rainbow.

Another teacher heard about it and complained. Presumably it's a "micro-aggression" and the pupils might be "triggered". The moronization of the republic is remorseless.

~Re Caitlyn fever, UK reader Dana Booth writes:

It's good to see a conservative commentator who isn't totally ignorant when it comes to transsexual issues. I'm a transsexual conservative and the rage cultural conservatives direct towards transsexuals and even transvestites is frankly disgusting. If they weren't so terrified of their own sexuality they wouldn't be apoplectic with rage at the idea of a boy in a dress.

As for the LGBT qwerty thing, sexuality and gender are linked and humans are strange creatures. I do just want to be a woman, but I know some people do want to be (to be very un-pc) a Shemale. And why not? It's their genitalia. It's only when queer issues are used by leftists as a form of weapon to bludgeon people into submission that we get a problem. Religion is abused in the same way by social conservatives and that's why a lot of people of my generation are athiests and leftists. Conservatives shouldn't be worried about the strange things people tend to do when they are free, they should be worried about what will happen to us all when we fritter away that freedom.

Dana Booth

Well, I can't speak for the massed ranks of conservatives, but I'm not the least "apoplectic with rage at the idea of a boy in a dress". In what passed for a talent show in my last year at high school, me and the lads climbed into the fishnets and mini-skirts to do a truly terrible pop song and, as I generally do even in unpromising circumstances, I gave it my best. Afterwards, the ladies in attendance agreed that my legs were better than any of theirs. And they're still pretty good, as you can see if you pre-order the Mann vs Steyn 2016 nude calendar.

Nor do I think it fair to take refuge in the old saw that conservatives are "terrified of their own sexuality". Mine doesn't scare me in the least, although it's sent a date or two screaming for the exits. What "terrified" me and others about Caitlyn and her débutante's balls was the ruthlessly enforced celebratory tone. When the Queen marks her Diamond Jubilee or the Duchess of Cambridge has a baby, you're allowed to roll your eyes and say "God, aren't you sick of these bloody royal parasites?" or "Who cares about one more sponger in the palace?" Even "state" media like the BBC and CBC accept that there are a wide range of views on the head of state. But if you watched the coverage of Caitlyn on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN et al you would have had no idea that there are people out there for whom this was not cause for joyous celebration. There was something not "terrifying" - not yet - but coercive and authoritarian in the uniformity of the mandatory jubilation. Even Fox News seemed to intuit that this was something that they had no choice but to cover in a life-affirming way.

I found that disturbing - because, at a stroke, everyone who matters from the Obamas to Hollywood seemed to have decided that this is one more area of discussion it's safe to shut down, permanently. And there's way too much of that. Look at it from your average imam's point of view: Mike Huckabee is persona non grata because Big Gay didn't like his dissing of Caitlyn, but when the Prophet Mo (PBUH) gets dissed Muslims are told tough, you gotta suck it up.

June 18, 2015 at 7:56 pm  |  Permalink

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