It's getting close to the wire for Steyn fans in Tuvalu and the Cook Islands, but we're still busy shipping our Christmas specials at the Steyn store, and we'll continue to ship until our New Hampshire post office closes on Christmas Eve.
The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, one of Politico's Top Ten Bestsellers, is our bestselling item this holiday season. Our second most popular item is Mark's new CD Goldfinger. Mark joined Brian Lilley at Sun News on Thursday to discuss the album and other musical matters. Click below to watch:
Laura Rosen Cohen had mixed feelings about the music, but liked Mark's sweater.
As Brian mentioned, Goldfinger is available from the Steyn store either on CD or via digital download or as part of a Christmas-season double-bill with Mark's new book. But it's also on sale via iTunes, and at Amazon and CD Baby.
Speaking of North Korea, we were subject to a denial-of-service attack yesterday. But from Iran. Who says there's no axis of evil?
At any rate, if you experienced difficulties with our home page and various other corners of the site, we apologize for the inconvenience. I'm happy to say, as we hit those last-minute Christmas shopping days, that the retail end of the SteynOnline cornucopia withstood the assault and remained open for Yuletide business. But there's gonna be a lot more of this in the years ahead. And whether the Internet as we know it will survive is an open question.
~I've spent much of the last couple of days on the radio with some of my favorite interviewers. You can hear how my take on the Sony/Kim Jong-Un showdown developed as the scale of Hollywood's capitulation became clear. Let's start with Toronto's Number One morning man, John Oakley. John and I also discussed the other big stories of the week - the jihadist-waiting-to-happen in Sydney and the slaughter of innocents in a Peshawar schoolhouse, Click below to listen:
As I said to John, a movie about assassinating Kim Jong-Un is an example of Hollywood's exquisitely calibrated "edginess": They would have never greenlighted the same kind of schlocko comedy about anything involving a certain word beginning with "I" and ending with "-slam" because that can be deleterious to one's life expectancy. But Kim was supposed to be the comedy dictator - the one it was safe to make jokes about. Now, as Scaramouche says, expect "a lot more faux-edgy lampooning of safe targets (ones who won't fight back via the hacking of computers or heads) a la The Book of Mormon".
Indeed. As I wrote a million years ago, for "brave" "transgressive" artists the best advice is:
I suggested to Tommy Schnurmacher that there'd be nothing left at the multiplex but Iron Man 12 and Cardboard Man 37. It's always fun to get together with the colossus of Montreal radio, and we covered a lot of ground. Again, click below to listen:
Kathy Shaidle blames the lack of cojones at Sony less on Kim Jong-Un than on the grisly over-lawyering of American life. I made the point to Tommy that, for all the robust attitudinal expressions of American kick-assery, ultimately a liability culture trumps them and kills them. I made a similar observation with Hugh Hewitt:
Your in-house counsel trumps artistic expression. As for the First Amendment, what's the point of a constitutional protection saying the US government can't prohibit Americans from seeing your movie if foreign governments can prohibit Americans from seeing your movie?
At Breitbart News, Jeff Poor was struck by this excerpt from my Hewitt interview:
Finally, from the Hewitt show, the connection between the evaporation of American power around the world and the vaporization of the big Christmas movie:
Jeb Bush has announced the formation of a committee to explore a run for the Presidency. He therefore becomes the first official all-but-candidate of Campaign 2016, ahead even of the designated President-in-Waiting, Hillary Clinton. So this March headline appears to have come true:
For a while now I've told interviewers that I doubt Hillary will be the Democrat nominee - because she's a terrible candidate and eventually even she will know that. But I made one exception way back in March: If Jeb Bush jumped in, Mrs Clinton "would be insane not to run". Now that Jeb has indeed jumped in, I have nothing to add to what I wrote nine months ago:
Jeb is campaigning "to restore the promise of America". A Bush has been on six of the last nine presidential tickets, but the smart money in the GOP thinks they're so indispensable to the Republic that they should now be given a shot at a third presidency. One man and his sons will have supplied three-fifths of America's presidents within a quarter-century - in a republic of over 300 million people. I don't think that's any way "to restore the promise of America" - and, in fact, like the unconstitutional amnesty, the hideous CRomnibus and the bipartisan debt mountain, it's another sign of the seedy dysfunctionalism of America's political institutions.
Yet, following Jeb's announcement, the big money and the A-list campaign operatives will already be gravitating to Bush. From my March post:
~The day after the Sydney siege, the Taliban attacked a schoolhouse in Peshawar, and slaughtered over 130 children, while also burning a teacher to death in front of her class. Those who survived did so by playing dead:
As with Sheikh Haron at the Lindt coffee house, the Taliban have not wanted for sympathizers in recent years, as Andrew Bolt reminds us:
Josh Earnest, Obama's press secretary, appeared to be drawing a subtler distinction between the Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban. Whatever. Maybe they're doing a good Talib/bad Talib act. Or it could be that they were, pace Miss Doucet, attempting to convey the inhumanity of the Taliban. The Islamic State lads have been outpacing the older, tired terror brands in the depravity stakes, and discovering that, far from the world being repulsed by such blood-drenched savages, a significant percentage is seduced and attracted by it. In such a market, the Taliban and al-Qaeda can't afford not to look like, so to speak, "moderate Muslims".
~By the way, re that hospital the survivors of the schoolhouse massacre were taken to: do you know who Lady Reading Hospital is named after? The Marchioness of Reading was born Alice Cohen, the daughter of a Jewish merchant in London. She married a barrister called Rufus Isaacs, who in 1921 as Lord Reading became Viceroy of India - the first Jew to hold the highest office in the Raj. (He was also the first Jew to serve as Britain's Foreign Secretary and as Lord Chief Justice of England. He's buried in the Jewish Cemetery at Golders Green.) Alice Reading devoted her time as vicereine to charity and health issues, and was the driving force behind the construction of proper medical facilities in Peshawar.
So here we are nine decades later: Jew-hate is endemic among the hard men of Islam. But, when it comes to treating wounded Muslim schoolchildren, the only game in town is a hospital founded by a Jew.
~I'll be on the radio Wednesday morning with Toronto's Number One morning man, John Oakley, live on AM640 at 8.30am Eastern. South of the border, I'll be checking in with Dennis Miller coast to coast at 12.30pm Eastern/9.30am Pacific.
On Thursday I'll be in Montreal to shoot the breeze with the legendary Tommy Schnurmacher at 800 CJAD live at 10am Eastern.
~The Blaze has compiled a hit parade of its Top 15 author interviews, and I'm thrilled to find I'm at Number One on the list. My new book The Undocumented Mark Steyn is available at Amazon and all the other outlets, but, if you'd like to make it an even more special present for your loved one this Christmas, we've paired it with my new Goldfinger CD in one swingingly undocumented package, and with some of our exclusive Michael E Mann trial-of-the-century merchandise in our Steyn vs the Stick Winter Warmer - both exclusively available from the Steyn store.
For some reason, both nutcrackers and gay apparel came up while I was guest-hosting The Rush Limbaugh Show today. You can find a few highlights here. But we also discussed the other news of the day, including the CRomnibus fiasco in Washington, we also looked at the fallout from Sony's supposedly "edgy" comedy about Kim Jong-Un, and the siege at a coffee shop in Martin Place in Sydney that ended with the death of yet another Islamic lunatic but also two of his hostages. I'll have more to say about the Deranged Mohammedan of the Week (So Far) in a separate piece coming up a little later.
~I began the show with reference to something Rush said to a caller on Friday re the ghastly CRomnibus, and the danger of letting people think last month's election was "meaningless". And it reminded me of something I said to Rush when he interviewed me about what he called my "must-read new book". In The Limbaugh Letter, I put it this way:
The third-gear Republican Senators had their way over the weekend. In 2010, it was Obama who said the election makes no difference. In 2014, even before the new Congress has been seated, it's the Republican leadership that's just told the voters last month's election makes no difference.
~The Daily Caller seemed to find this excerpt news-worthy, although it seems rather obvious to me:
~If you didn't care for my rendition of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You", my old friends at The Spectator over in London have dusted off a Steyn classic for the Speccie's special Christmas edition, in which I tell the story of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas".
In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Mark:
He started the week with a 75th birthday salute to a certain reindeer noted for his erubescent proboscis.
~On Monday, Mark celebrated the fact that, while America may no longer be the world's leading economic power, it's still Number One in the length of its presidential motorcade: Even if you ain't got it, flaunt it, baby!
~On Tuesday, our most-read piece of the week discussed the revelation that, after weeks of scholarly constitutional debate, Obama's unilateral rewrite of US immigration law didn't even require an executive order, only a memo, or a press release, or a maybe a Tweet...
~On Wednesday, Steyn offered a few old media notes - on The New Republic, The Detroit Free Press, and Playboy.
~On Thursday, Mark returned to The Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss the racist jokes of Hollywood liberals, and the terrorist "empathizing" of Hillary Clinton.
~Steyn ended with the week with some thoughts on fake rape, and a victim culture with too many wannabe victims and not enough victimizers.
While we're waiting to clear the latest tedious procedural hurdle in the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century, Mark has been observing the fifth anniversary of the Climategate email leaks, with some musings on the climate of corruption - oh, and also on environmentally conscious Danish hookers. If you're shopping for the climate denialist in your family this Christmas, we hope you'll consider supporting Mark's pushback against the climate mullahs by purchasing a SteynOnline gift certificate or our exclusive range of commemorative Mann vs Steyn trial merchandise. And for that special someone in your life don't forget our limited-time holiday offer: the Steyn vs the Stick Winter Warmer.
For our Saturday movie feature, Mark looked at Christmas-themed war movies and war-themed Christmas movies.
We hope you'll keep it mind some of Mark's more recent work for your loved ones this Christmas - either his new book or his new CD or both together. The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is available in America from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, not to mention Costco, and from Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson in Canada. Or, for instant gratification, get it in eBook - in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks.
A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week - but, if you can't wait, Mark's old comrades at the Speccie in London have dusted off for their Yuletide issue a Steyn classic from the archives. Mark himself will be starting the week with three hours of substitute-host-level Excellence-in-Broadcasting on The Rush Limbaugh Show, America's Number One radio broadcast, live at 12 noon Eastern tomorrow, Monday.
On Thursday, I returned to The Hugh Hewitt Show for our weekly chew through the headlines. We got to the big news eventually, but this time Hugh began with a musical offering:
Hugh moved on to the somewhat less congenial topic of the Republican Congress, and then the racist gags flying between two Hollywood A-listers re Obama:
After that, it was on to Hillary Rodham Clinton's observations about "smart power" and "empathizing" with your enemies. In Goldfinger terms, she's the woman, the woman with the non-Midas touch - everything she says turns to sludge:
Hugh put it this way:
For the full interview, see here. As for Goldfinger, it's available on disc or digital download via the Steyn store, or as part of a Christmas special double-bill with my new book - one of many Yuletide special offers from SteynOnline. It's also on sale at Amazon and CD Baby.
Say what you like about Tina Brown, but it's hard to imagine any other Obama media cheerleader running a bitchfest like "America's Worst Gay Couple". Hitherto, I had only a very hazy picture of Chris Hughes, some Facebook guy who made a bazillion dollars and has singlehandedly killed off the emaciated husk of what was once The New Republic. I had no idea, for example, that Hughes is gay and that his hubby is a big player in Democratic Party politics - or, more accurately, a small player with very deep pockets:
But we haven't heard the last of him:
Ha! If the Constitution's natural born citizenship clause won't permit a gay Canadian to become president, then, as Supreme Intergalactic Arbiter Anthony Kennedy would say, it must be motivated by an "improper animus" against a "politically unpopular group" it wishes to "disparage," "demean," and "humiliate" - and should therefore be struck down. I'm not sure whether it's constitutional to rule that the Constitution is unconstitutional, but in the Obama era it's only a matter of time.
Why didn't America's first gay Canadian president-in-waiting run in the district where he was planning to have a family? Ah, well...
"Another gay Democrat"? There seems to be a bit of homoxenophobia at work in these Dem precincts.
~In other news of collapsing American media, a staffer at The Detroit Free Press was made to attend a "training session" even though she'd already been laid off. Via Ed Driscoll, I greatly enjoyed this detail:
The Stevie Wonder Room? Just when you think American newspapering can't get any lamer, it does. Do they have a Four Tops Room? A Michael Jackson Room? And what kind of "sessions" go on in there?
~I see we have a mini-Canadian theme developing here: During the War of 1812, Detroit was occupied by Canadian troops - the Royal Newfoundland Fencibles. In the 19th district, Chris Hughes' gay Canuck - the Empire State Unelectable - is planning on occupying the White House. So we might as well round things out with a British Columbian Undressable - Vancouver-born centerfold Dorothy Stratten. Kathy Shaidle has a fascinating meditation on dead Playboy playmates, contrasting the obscurity to which Paige Young was consigned with the posthumous symbolic significance attached to Miss Stratten. The latter was the subject of two biopics, Death Of A Centerfold (1981) and Star, 80 (1983), plus a book by a third Hollywood director, The Killing Of The Unicorn - all claiming to discern great lessons in Dorothy's story about the broader culture, the pursuit of fame, society's obsession with youth and beauty, its need to feast on its celebrities, etc.
As Kathy notes, it might have been more interesting to make a movie about middle-aged Hollywood directors' obsessions and pursuits. Were she not dead, Dorothy Stratten could claim to have ended the careers of two A-list helmers whose careers never recovered from her. Peter Bogdanovich, whose Last Picture Show is one of the best films of the Seventies, fell in love with Miss Stratten, starred her in a movie for which she was eminently unsuited (They All Laughed), and never got his mojo back. He wound up writing that Unicorn book and marrying his late love's younger sister (younger than Dorothy, that is, although she was also three decades younger than Bogdanovich). Bob Fosse, who'd rolled through the Seventies from Cabaret to All That Jazz, was too cynical to marry any centerfold siblings or write books with Unicorn in the title, but Star, 80 turned out to be the last film he ever made, and confirmed that he only had one story to tell (showbiz as a metaphor for life) - or two if you include Chicago (life as a metaphor for showbiz). At least with Sweet Charity, the naive exploited good-time gal came with a score.
Not all playmates wind up pushing up staples. On a couple of occasions over the years, I've met Victor Lownes, who was Hef's right-hand man at Playboy until a spectacular falling-out. (He also produced the first Monty Python film.) Lownes married Marilyn Cole, a delightful English lady who was Playmate of the Year in 1973 and is famous for being the first playmate to reveal her pubic hair in Playboy. "Why not?" Victor said to me, breezily. "Everybody has it, don't they?" Once upon a time maybe. But not in the industrially depilated Playboy of the last quarter-century, they don't.
Speaking of A-list directors obsessed with the young and available, Lownes was out on the town with Roman Polanski on the night of Sharon Tate's murder. He fell out with him, too, to the point (so he told me) where he feltt obliged to return the life-sized solid-gold sculpture of Polanski's penis that the otherwise diminutive film-maker had given him as a gift. I don't know where it is now, but it would make a much better movie-award statuette than Oscar.
~Tomorrow, Thursday, I'll be joining Hugh Hewitt on the radio live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific. Hugh has been very appreciative of my Goldfinger CD and has put it into high rotation. If your loved one has just blown a Congressional race or been laid off in The Detroit Free Press' Martha & the Vandellas Room or returned the solid-gold doorstopper of your penis, it makes the perfect gift. Goldfinger is available on disc or digital download via the Steyn store, or as part of a Christmas special double-bill with my new book. It's also on sale at Amazon and CD Baby.
You gotta hand it to the guy. After weeks of debate over whether or not the President has the authority to rewrite US immigration law via executive order, it turns out Obama has not actually issued any such executive order. Apparently, he unilaterally legislated his amnesty via a memo:
So now we can have weeks of debate from learned constitutional scholars on what the constitution says about memos - plus, of course, lots of cable news punditry on how the GOP would have to be insane to risk the wrath of the electorate by shutting down the government over a memo.
That is, if there is any such memo.
Maybe the President just issued a press release. Maybe, as befits the first President to bestride social media like a colossus, he issued an executive Tweet. Or twerk. Maybe he just went down to the National Archives in a Miley Cyrus thong and twerked out his new immigration law in the Constitution's face.
Democrats have moved on - from passing the law to find out what's in it to bypassing the law to find out what's in it. For them.
~My SteynPost on the multi-thousand hotel-room booking required to fly Obama to Brisbane for a night is not unrelated to the above. As I said when I was Down Under myself, you can't have small government with big entourages. The risible Obamacade prompted a lot of response. Simon Carson writes from New Zealand:
Across the Tasman Sea, Tony Abbott goes Mr Key one better. The Aussie Prime Minister doesn't need to board an aircraft to attend a summit. He can just run there:
As for Messrs Abbott and Key's sovereign, Her Majesty is not yet jogging to the State Opening of Parliament, but, unlike President Obama, she does not require a 40-car motorcade to venture out of the house:
I can vouch personally for the Queen's traveling light. When my daughter and I saw her in Glasgow during the Diamond Jubilee, she had the old two-car motorcade - one for her and the Duke, with a couple of coppers in front.
Meanwhile, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, second in line to the thrones of Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Belize, Papua New Guinea, etc, etc, has been glimpsed with his tray table stowed and his seat in the full upright position on US Airways:
Anyone who's been at the hideous dump that is LaGuardia's US Air terminal will wonder if the Duke isn't taking this whole man-of-the-people thing too far. But still: The impenetrable entourage symbolizes the isolation and cocooning of the President and too many of the political class. As Mr Abbott and Mr Key and His Royal Highness demonstrate, very few normal people would want to live like that. It's not a good thing to make your principal political offices attractive only to weirdoes.
~Aside from a disinclination to burden the taxpayers, the New Zealand Prime Minister was also flying to that climate summit with a splendidly cheeseparing carbon footprint. When he landed in Peru, it was another story entirely:
Why? Why did it "have to be built"? Why couldn't they hold their pointless meeting in a crappy old Marriott like everybody else?
Because climate change is the Obama motorcade of international summitry: its bloat is central to its sense of itself. And, as with Obama, it's telling us something pretty basic about the relationship between the people who matter and those who don't.
~If you're stuck in traffic waiting for Obama's 40-car motorcade to pass and the streets to be reopened, what about a musical diversion to make the hours of lockdown fly by? Hugh Hewitt seems to be enjoying my new CD:
And at least one of his listeners sounds quite partial to it, too:
I mentioned on Friday that America is now the world's runner-up:
Steyn in 2011:
But the good news is we're still Number One when it comes to presidential entourages!
To be precise, it was 4,096 rooms. But what's an extra 96 rooms when you're bulk-booking? Does that mean Obama took a 4,096-man delegation? Or is that bargain $1.7 million rate based on double occupancy and he took with him 8,192 indispensable government officials? Yeah, baby! That's what I call boots on the ground!
Normally, when a foreign power send 8,000 of its chaps into another country, it's called an invasion. But with America it's just the world's all-time biggest room-service tab.
Alternatively, since the Cartagena hooker scandal, the presidential entourage is forbidden to have foreign nationals in its hotel rooms. So maybe it was 4,096 indispensable government officials and 4,096 hookers flown in from Des Moines.
How many flunkeys did the Chinese President bring for the night?The Weekly Standard doesn't say, but we can compare the G-20 leaders' personal accommodations (all prices Australian dollars):
So this Xi guy may be the head honcho of the world's Number One economy but he's got a worse hotel room. One night in Brisbane makes a hard man humble. What of the other fellows?
So, for the cost of Obama's hotel room, you could put up five Saudi kings. The average cost of those 4,096 US hotel rooms was $423 per night. Which means that every single Deputy Assistant Deputy Assistant Under-Secretary of the US Department of Motorcades had a better room than the Aussie PM.
Is there no 2016 presidential candidate willing to commit himself to restoring the seemliness of republican self-government?
~Speaking of chaps who like their entourages, further to our Song of the Week, Scaramouche rewrites "Rudolph" in honor of John Kerry, who seems determined to be the chap who guides Iran's sleigh - or slay.
~Rolling Stone back in the days when it wrote about rock:
Now Rolling Stone writes about rape. Imagine an era when people are so uptight they get their panties in a bunch over the discovery that "Jackie" didn't actually get gang-raped in her own harrowing gang-rape account:
Ah, well. Just because yet another media fairytale has fallen apart is no reason for America's gilded youth not to be paralyzed with terror. At Columbia Law School, interim dean Robert Scott writes to students in the wake of the Michael Brown/Eric Garner grand-jury decisions:
Yeah, yeah, so you laid on a trauma counselor. Big deal. What else you got?
Shouldn't Columbia Law School just automatically pass all these traumatized students? Grand juries are the gang rapists of the justice system, right?
~Speaking of gang rape, Brian Gardiner demands to know:
I gave a kind of an answer a week ago, but evidently Mr Gardiner is not satisfied. At any rate, with my new CD Goldfinger in hand, he's decided to take my singing career in a new direction:
Actually, the new Bond film is called Spectre. I think I'd have preferred Smersh, but maybe next time. As for me doing the theme song, I take the line of my friend Don Black, who's written the lyrics for more Bond songs than anyone else ("Thunderball", "Diamonds Are Forever", "The Man With The Golden Gun", "Tomorrow Never Dies", "The World Is Not Enough") , that "Shirley should sing them all" - as in La Bassey. Adele wasn't bad last time round, but I'd love to talk Shirl into making a record of "Skyfall". And I'd love it if she did the Spectre song.
If you'd like to hear my version of "Goldfinger", it's available on CD or digital download via the Steyn store, or as part of a Christmas special double-bill with my new book. It's also on sale at Amazon and CD Baby.
In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Mark:
He started the week with the song that spawned the jihad - "Baby, It's Cold Outside".
~On Monday, Mark looked at the most popular baby name in Britain - Mohammed, with Omar, Ali and Ibrahim joining Big Mo on the hit parade.
~On Tuesday, Steyn observed the fifth anniversary of Climategate, of which Big Climate heavy Michael Mann's interminable defamation suit against Steyn is a feeble postscript. Can Mann lean on the legal system the way he leaned on the peer-review process? We'll find out, but meanwhile we thank those loyal readers who've shown their support for Mark by heading over to the Steyn store for their loved ones this holiday season.
~On Wednesday, protesters threatened to disrupt the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting. Mark thought it was an understandable reaction to ever lamer celebrity duets, but it turned out to be something to do with police violence.
~On Thursday, Steyn looked at one of the more outrageous aspects of Obama's illegal amnesty.
~On Friday, Mark ended with the week with some thoughts on American inertia and a sign of the times.
At the weekend, we launched the Christmas movie season at SteynOnline with Mark's appreciation of The Apartment.
A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week.
We hope you'll keep it mind some of Mark's recent work for your loved ones this Christmas - either his new book or his new CD or both together. The [Un]documented Mark Steyn is available in America from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, not to mention Costco, and from Indigo-Chapters, Amazon and McNally-Robinson in Canada. Or, for instant gratification, get it in eBook - in Kindle, Kobo, Nook and iBooks.
Mark's new CD Goldfinger is available from Amazon, CD Baby, or direct from the Steyn store. Now that the new Bond film has been announced, Brian Gardiner is campaigning to have Mark do the theme song.
© 2014 Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc. All rights reserved.