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Mark Steyn

Frankincense, Myrrh, and Goldfinger

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.

December 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm  |  Permalink

It's Kim's World. We Just Live in It.

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:

If you're going to be provocative, it's best to do it with people who can't be provoked.

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:

MARK STEYN: You can have theoretical free speech rights, but... an over-legalistic, risk-averse, liability prioritizing culture, in the end, that will kill movies, kill novels, kill plays, kill everything.

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:

"I think it's actually a pretty serious story," Steyn said. "We're told all the time that American pop culture is the most influential force on the planet and that basically everyone around the world wants to be an American teenager, and this stuff is more influential than armies or that kind of thing. The fact is, American pop culture went up against some nickel-and-dime dictator on the other side of the planet and he won and they caved in nothing-flat.... The idea that Sony has less guts than a vulnerable Danish cartoonish who has Islamic thugs going to his daughter's grade school and wait for her after school – the idea that the Sony Corporation has less guts than a Danish cartoonist is very depressing."

Finally, from the Hewitt show, the connection between the evaporation of American power around the world and the vaporization of the big Christmas movie:

It's very easy not to be interested. Who can tell the difference – Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, all these guys are crazy - who cares? We're just going to stay at home and go to the movies. We're going to go to the multiplex and we're going to watch the latest lousy Seth Rogan movie.

But even the latest lousy Seth Rogan movie is at stake if you let the planet go to hell. And so you won't even be able to go to the multiplex and watch the lousy movie of the week, because some guy you've never heard of on the other side of the planet has just fired a missile straight through the big Christmas Day box office movie. And I think that actually, that's actually a very profound point - that you can't let the planet go to hell and expect to lead a comfortable, consumerist existence where you just go to the mall and to hell with the world.

You can read me and Hugh here, and you can hear me and Hugh here. It gives me no pleasure to say I-told-you-so, but I did, in a book on free speech that's as timely as ever.

December 19, 2014 at 10:08 am  |  Permalink

Jeb Tide

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:

Influential Republicans Working To Draft Jeb Bush Into 2016 Presidential Race

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:

Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton now and forever, at least until George P Bush marries Chelsea Clinton and the two ruling houses are consolidated into one House of Bush-Clinton-Rodham-Coburg-Gotha. I've nothing against Jeb Bush. I happen to disagree with him on "immigration reform", but he was a competent executive of Florida and he's a thoughtful and (on his game) gifted speaker. But there are over 300 million people in this country, and, granted that 57 per cent or whatever it's up to by now are fine upstanding members of the Undocumented-American community, what is it about the Bush family that makes them so indispensable to the Republic as to supply three presidential candidates within a quarter-century? Say what you like about actual monarchy but at least you get a non-heriditary political class: this may seem incredible to Americans but neither Canada's Stephen Harper, Australia's Tony Abbott, New Zealand's John Key nor Britain's David Cameron is the previous Prime Minister's brother or wife.

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:

So who are these "influential Republicans" working to draft Jeb?

'Many if not most of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney's major donors are reaching out to Bush and his confidants with phone calls, e-mails and invitations to meet, according to interviews with 30 senior Republicans. One bundler estimated that the "vast majority" of Romney's top 100 donors would back Bush in a competitive nomination fight.'

'"He's the most desired candidate out there," said another bundler, Brian Ballard, who sat on the national finance committees for Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008. "Everybody that I know is excited about it."'

The guys who picked last season's loser are already excited about next season's loser. How exciting is that?

~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:

Speaking from his bed in the trauma ward of the city's Lady Reading Hospital, Shahrukh Khan, 16, said he and his classmates were in a careers guidance session in the school auditorium when four gunmen wearing paramilitary uniforms burst in.

"Someone screamed at us to get down and hide below the desks," he said, adding that the gunmen shouted "Allahu akbar" (God is greatest) before opening fire...

"The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again."

As with Sheikh Haron at the Lindt coffee house, the Taliban have not wanted for sympathizers in recent years, as Andrew Bolt reminds us:

Media coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan is failing to convey the "humanity of the Taliban", a BBC presenter has said.

Lyse Doucet, a presenter and correspondent on BBC World News, was speaking at a discussion of TV reporting of the war in the country.

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.

December 16, 2014 at 10:37 pm  |  Permalink

Nutcrackers and Gay Apparel

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:

STEYN: We've lived through elections that made a difference. Reagan's election in 1980 made a difference because if Carter had won, the West would have managed to contrive to lose the Cold War. As rotten and decrepit and on the verge of collapse as the Soviet Union was, a second Carter term and we would have lost the Cold War. They were picking off real estate all over the planet through the 1970s, from Afghanistan to Grenada, and a second Carter term would have sealed the deal. So that election mattered, that changed the global scorecard.

And Mrs. Thatcher's election in 1979. Had the Labor Party been reelected then, that would have been the complete death of one of the oldest, most stable societies on earth...

And if you lived through elections like that, that made a difference, the saddest thing is when you have an election that doesn't make a difference. And that was the tragedy of 2010. The Tea Party, as you said, was this genuine grassroots movement, and they pulled off this amazing victory - and then nothing changed. In part because the Republican leadership did not give voice to what their supporters had said. But also because β€” which is real banana republic stuff β€” basically the Regime sicced the commissars of the bureaucracy on these people, and made their life hell, and so they couldn't do the same thing in 2012. But there's no point to heading off the cliff in third gear, which is basically the position a lot of Republican Senators are wedded to. They're happy to go along in the same direction as the Democrats, they just want to shift down a gear. And that's not good enough. That's not good enough.

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:

STEYN: The president has unilaterally rewritten U.S. immigration law. He doesn't have the power to do that. But that rule doesn't matter… he did it, he did it. This is why, by the way, why things trend Democrat. Because Democrats just do what they want, they don't worry about the rules.

The president's idea of law is what you can get away with. And so he figures he can get away with this immigration amnesty, and that what he can get away with trumps the U.S. Constitution. And he's right about that, because when [Texas Senator] Ted Cruz had his vote, he lost 74-22..

It's not just a policy difference. It is about whether the president has the right to do it. Whether he's acting beyond the law like some Latin-American caudillo, or Kim Jong-Un when he has one of his uncles executed over in Pyongyang, or some of these other one-man states. The president thinks it's a one-man state and what he does trumps what the legislature does. And 74 of the 100 United States Senators agree with that.

~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".

December 15, 2014 at 6:16 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, December 8-14

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.

Mark's new CD Goldfinger is available from Amazon, CD Baby, or direct from the Steyn store. Hugh Hewitt calls it "a lot of fun".

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.

December 14, 2014 at 8:26 am  |  Permalink

Such a Cold Finger...

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 HEWITT: And the dulcet tones you hear behind me are those of Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World on his brand new CD, Goldfinger. Don't let him in. He does get let into the Hugh Hewitt Show on Thursday. Hello, Mark, how are you?

MARK STEYN: Hey, good to be with you, Hugh. I take that at a slightly faster clip than Shirley Bassey does, and I'm hanging on for dear life for much of that track.

HH: Congratulations on Goldfinger. It's a lot of fun. I hope it's flying off the virtual shelves at www.steynonline.com.

MS: Yeah, it seems to be... I love John Barry, who's the composer of Goldfinger - he basically invented the sound of spy music. I mean, very few people can claim to have invented an entire genre of music. But when people think of spy music, they think of that John Barry sound that he invented when he was sharing a flat with Michael Caine in London in the 1960s. And it's a song I love. It's actually quite tricky. It's got that thing that musical types call the Devil's Interval in it, which is kind of hard to get right, especially when you're doing it at that speed. But I gave it my best shot.

HH: Oh, it's a great shot, and in fact, I'm so inspired, the only other columnist/talking head/pundit that I know who sings well besides you is Eric Metaxas. And so I was looking around, and at Paris Las Vegas, there's a room called La Cabaret. And I think that a Metaxas-Steyn, Steyn-Metaxas act - of course I'll be happy to emcee it -would be just a smash. I think they would sell that out weeks at a time. Are you available?

MS: Well, I like Eric a lot. I quote from his book on William Wilberforce in my most recent book, and so I have tremendous admiration for him on the William Wilberforce front. I'm not, I don't think I've ever heard him do Diamonds Are Forever or Thunderball. But I'm willing to wait and see what he has.

HH: I heard him do Fly Me To The Moon. It was terrific. I'm telling you, Vegas, if you're listening right now, Steyn and Metaxas.

MS: You're telling me Eric Metaxas did Fly Me To The Moon?

HH: Oh, yes, in front of 500 people in Santa Barbara in a room including Cathy Ireland and many other showbiz types that were there. They were blown away by him.

MS: Really? ...because that's, that's one of those songs, as Judy Garland - I'm getting just fabulously camp now, but as Judy Garland used to say, that song has been sung. That's one I would never go anywhere near, just because I don't, I feel, I don't feel I've got anything to add to it. But if he can stand up and do Fly Me To The Moon, let's go for it.

HH: There you go.

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:

MS: As much as I have no use for Hollywood liberals, I think they should be allowed to send racist emails to each other. I'm a free speech absolutist... Go for it, you guys. If you want to be racist buffoons, every Hollywood liberal should have the right to be a racist buffoon.

HH: They should. I'm just underscoring what you've already articulated, which is if I came on this show and began saying I wonder what the President would nominate for the Golden Globes, and ran down a list of black-only movies, that would be the last show I did.

MS: No, no, I know. I mean, it's basically, it's basically one step above watermelon gags. But they're bigshot liberals. And liberalism, modern American liberalism is not about principle. It's about power... You think about the things that Jesse Jackson has said. You think about Al Sharpton, for example: the guy who's now complaining about Scott Rudin's remark is the guy who said Africans invented everything years before 'all them Greek homos' did. And Al Sharpton gets invited to the White House despite his homophobia and despite all the President's bleating about everybody should have the right to love who they love. Al Sharpton can do his Greek homo gags and still get invited to the White House.

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:

MS: This is someone who has not thought about what's gone wrong in the last four years. You know, Chris Stevens, who died in Benghazi - in part because of the negligence of Mrs. Clinton's State Department - empathized with the Libyan people to an extraordinary degree, and he's dead, and his body was dragged through the streets of Benghazi. In the streets of Cairo, in Tahrir Square, we called it the Facebook Revolution, and thought that somehow they all wanted, all the big, bearded men wanted to be like nice little Obama pajama boys, and all the covered women wanted to be like Sandra Fluke. And it turned out they wanted something entirely different. She's got a tin ear when it comes to empathy... She's not actually capable of getting inside the head of Iranian mullahs who seriously believe in Islamic imperialism, and exporting their nuclear technology around the world. She's seriously incapable of getting inside the head of Czar Putin in the Kremlin who wants to reconstitute the Russian Empire and a Russian protective umbrella over Eastern Europe - and you'd be surprised how far west his definition of Eastern Europe goes.

Hugh put it this way:

HH: Well, she's got the family business to protect. It's really about Bill's third term and making the way for Chelsea in the world, isn't it?

MS: Yeah... one of the advantages of a monarchy is that at least it means your political class is non-hereditary. You know, in Ottawa, Stephen Harper's wife, who is a delightful lady and very smart, has got no plans to become prime minister. In London, Cherie Blair is not interested in becoming prime minister. And in Canberra, John Howard's wife does not feel entitled to be prime minister as Hillary feels.

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.

December 12, 2014 at 8:12 am  |  Permalink

Sean of the Spent

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:

Nine months after Hughes told New York magazine, "He's 26. He's going to do all kinds of things in politics, but I don't think there's any rush," to run for office, [Sean] Eldridge announced his congressional candidacy.

Even by the already money-drenched standards of American politics, the Eldridge campaign was a jaw-dropping spectacle to behold. In preparation for a campaign, Eldridge established "Hudson River Ventures," essentially a vote-buying apparatus masquerading as an economic development project, to win over small business owners and their employees. He then traipsed around the district dispensing "investments" ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 to local companies. The couple then bought a property in the town of Shokan, in New York's 19th district, just months after Eldridge told the Times that it was their original mansion, in the 18th, where "we put down roots, where we want to have a family..."

To no one's surprise except, perhaps, the pampered couple, Eldridge lost the race to the Republican incumbent 65 percent to 35 percent. In light of the massive amounts of money Hughes dumped into the race, it was one of the most humiliating defeats in the last election cycle.

But we haven't heard the last of him:

A source close to Eldridge told me that he had SKDKnickerbocker draw up a plan for him to become the first openly gay president of the United States (Eldridge was born in Canada and until recently held both Canadian and Israeli citizenship, which would make it difficult to overcome the Constitution's natural born citizenship clause).

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...

The couple had purchased a $2 million home in the [19th] district expressly so that Eldridge could run there, their purchase of a $5 million mansion in the adjoining 18th having come to naught after that seat was won by another gay Democrat in 2012.

"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:

"I asked if I had to go to the training, knowing my position would be cut," says Farmer, a 35-year-old single mother. "'You have to be there,' they said." So Farmer joined about 15 colleagues in the paper's Stevie Wonder Room at 9 a.m. last Friday.

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.

December 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm  |  Permalink

Congress Shall Make No Memo

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:

WASHINGTON – Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a leading opponent of President Obama's move to provide amnesty for up to 5 million illegal immigrants, expressed astonishment Monday and ridiculed the administration for not carrying out the action through an executive order.

In remarks made at the Washington office of the government-watchdog group Judicial Watch, Sessions said: "I guess they just whispered in the ear of (DHS Director) Jeh Johnson over at Homeland Security, 'Just put out a memo. That way we don't have to enforce the law.'"

The news that Obama had not signed an executive order to carry out the policy he announced to the nation in a televised address Nov. 20 was broken by WND Senior Staff Writer Jerome Corsi last week.

As a result of the president's use of a memo instead of an official order, the senator observed: "We don't even have a really significant, direct, legal direction that we can ascertain, precisely what the president is doing. It's a stunning event in my view."

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:

Hi Mark

Just a comment on your post about President Obama's entourage. I was in the Air New Zealand lounge in Auckland on Sunday and saw John Key, the New Zealand Prime Minister, who was apparently on his way to the climate meeting in Lima. He was sitting quietly on his own in the general lounge area. No one bothered him. When he left to board the aircraft he was accompanied by one security guy and followed by one policeman. A bit of a contrast.

Kind regards,
Simon Carson

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:

I've also seen him out just jogging - well he runs actually - on his own around the local neighbourhood where we both live.

Neil Wallace

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 thought that you might be amused to learn of the security, such as it was, surrounding our dear Queen when she visited Lloyd's of London a few months back, the better to commemorate the 325th anniversary of that venerable institution. Her Majesty, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived in one of her aged State cars, followed by another car containing her Royal Protection Officers and, er, that was it. London was not "locked down" – ghastly phrase – she made the short journey from Buck House to the City, navigating the usual traffic conditions en route sans outriders or any other paraphernalia so beloved of the Leader of the Citizen Republic.

Once inside Lloyd's, Her Majesty evidently felt happy to move freely among her subjects, without an army of reflector shade wearing, earpiece sprouting gorillas glowering at everyone. To be fair, if you looked carefully, you could make out a couple of discrete looking don't mess with me types, but that was it. Even allowing for the fact that she was among the friendliest audience possible, the contrast with Barry is remarkable, no? As you have alluded to on numerous occasions, perhaps they would have been better off sticking with King George and saved themselves the bother, to say nothing of the expense.

Keep up the good work and good luck dealing with the oaf Mann.

Kevin McCaughey

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:

Prince William shunned exclusive treatment, instead boarding a commercial flight to get to his meeting with President Obama.

His surprise appearance aboard the plane as it sat in LaGuardia Airport, New York, sparked a flurry of excitement, with passengers gasping and taking pictures...

Though William eventually found his seat in First Class, onlookers said he appeared to have just one or two people accompanying him.

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:

The Lima conference is expected to have the biggest carbon footprint of any U.N. climate meeting measured to date.

Fancy that!

At more than 50,000 metric tons of carfb/phbon dioxide, the negotiations' burden on global warming will be about 1 1/2 times the norm, said Jorge Alvarez, project coordinator for the U.N. Development Program.

The venue is one big reason. It had to be built.

Eleven football fields of temporary structures arose for the 13-day negotiations from what three months ago was an empty field behind Peru's army's headquarters. Concrete was laid, plumbing installed, components flown in from as far as France and Brazil.

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:

@MarkSteynOnline "Goldfinger" is terrific! Must organize Steyn @ericmetaxas talk-crooner fest w/ me moderating. Question/song/Q/song #Hit

And at least one of his listeners sounds quite partial to it, too:

@MarkSteynOnline @hughhewitt love the new song just played as bumper on #Hewitt

Goldfinger is 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.

December 9, 2014 at 9:16 pm  |  Permalink

Still Number One in Entourages!

I mentioned on Friday that America is now the world's runner-up:

It's Official: America Is Now No. 2
Chinese economy overtakes the US's to become the largest

Steyn in 2011:

I mentioned in this space a few weeks ago the IMF's calculation that China will become the planet's leading economic power by the year 2016. And I added that, if that proves correct, it means the fellow elected next November will be the last president of the United States to preside over the world's dominant economy. I thought that line might catch on. After all, we're always told that every election is the most critical consequential watershed election of all time, but this one actually would be: For the first time since Grover Cleveland's first term, America would be electing a global also-ran.

But the good news is we're still Number One when it comes to presidential entourages!

President Obama stayed only one night in Australia for the G-20 summit, but the entire presidential delegation required over 4,000 rooms costing in excess of $1.7 million for the entire stay.

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):

President Obama's hotel suite: $2,500 per night;

Chinese President Xi Jingping's hotel suite: $1,695 per night.

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?

British Prime Minister David Cameron's suite: $1,259;

Russian President Vladimir Putin's suite: $615;

Saudi King Abdullah's suite: $495;

Aussie PM Tony Abbott's suite: $309.

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:

Imagine an era when people were so uptight, they got their panties in a bunch over the discovery that Milli Vanilli didn't sing on their records.

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:

Ultimately, though, from where I sit in Charlottesville, to let fact checking define the narrative would be a huge mistake.

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:

- In recognition of the traumatic effects these events have had on some of the members of our community, Dean Greenberg-Kobrin and Yadira Ramos-Herbert, Director, Academic Counseling, have arranged to have Dr. Shirley Matthews, a trauma specialist, hold sessions next Monday and Wednesday...

Yeah, yeah, so you laid on a trauma counselor. Big deal. What else you got?

- The law school has a policy and set of procedures for students who experience trauma during exam period. In accordance with these procedures and policy, students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled.

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:

Why has Mark Steyn never recorded "Baby, It's Cold Outside"?

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:

Can it be a coincidence that this CD shows up in my mailbox the same day they announce the latest Bond movie, Smersh? His rendition of Goldfinger leads to an obvious choice to do the theme song for Smersh, and it's not to let Madonna ruin another Bond intro. No, never mind the Mark Steyn for Senate petition that was floating around a year or so back, it's time for a Mark Steyn for the Bond theme song movement.

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.

December 8, 2014 at 9:57 am  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, December 1-7

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.

December 7, 2014 at 8:57 am  |  Permalink

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