Mark Steyn

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Pallies on the Potomac

According to my inspired compatriot Kathy Shaidle, Donald Trump is President Sinatra:

Here are two paradigmatic New Yorkers who brawled their way to the top; tabloid liaisons here, a trio of devoted children there; men of eye-watering generosity (you've heard the "we've paid off your mortgage" story by now) and spleen (the name of Sinatra's record company, Reprise, was pronounced with a long "i," as in "reprisal").

Note, too, the almost belligerent philo-Semitism: In 1948, as a favor to a stranger he met in a bar, Sinatra couriered a million dollars cash to a ship full of arms earmarked for Israel, docked at a New York pier; Trump, dead set on making Mar-a-Lago nonrestricted, taunted Palm Beach's town council by sending them copies of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner...

[Sinatra would] also recognize Trump as another swaggering, short-fused, thin-skinned alpha, worthy of his fealty, and who'd be more loyal than John F., too.

Sinatra's not around, alas.

Or is he?

Who needs a Sinatra to sing, spectacular as that would be, when we've got one taking the Oath of frickin' Office?

On the other hand, according to Bruce Bawer ...and, incidentally, Bruce and I once shared a stage with Frank's opening act, the great Tom Dreesen... anyway, according to Bruce Bawer, Barack Obama is President Dino:

That "cool" factor seduced a lot of voters in 2008. But over the years it has seemed increasingly clear that that "cool" factor was a function of his indifference. I was thinking about this the other day and it suddenly occurred to me whom he reminded me of : Dean Martin.

Yes, Dean Martin. Humor me here. Martin was cool, too. Audiences loved his laid-back style: he never seemed to be trying too hard. As Bob Greene wrote in 2012, "Frank Sinatra may have liked the image of being Chairman of the Board, but the core of Martin's enduring allure is that not only did he not want to be chairman, he didn't even want to serve on the board: It would mean that he would be cooped up in some boardroom for meetings when he'd rather be out playing golf." Hey, whom does that remind you of? Writing about Martin this year, jazz critic Ted Gioia noted that "There's a term in Italian for this kind of attitude: menefreghismo, a couldn't-care-less manner that brings with it overtones of extreme macho coolness and total disregard for all consequences." Ahem.

So Trump is Frank and Obama is Dean. I'm an old Fleet Street hand, and I'm fully aware it takes three to make a trend. So c'mon:

Bernie Sanders is Sammy Davis Jr? They're both Jews. Like Sam, Bernie is the Candy Man, luring millions of impressionable children with promises of a rainbow utopia:

Who can take tomorrow
Dip it in a dream
Separate the sorrow
And collect up all the cream?

The Sandy Man
(The Sandy Man)
The Sandy Man can
'Cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good...

Er, okay. How about Ted Cruz is Peter Lawford? They're both British subjects who married into powerful American dynasties (Fitzgerald Kennedys, Goldman Sachs). They both had relatives involved in the Kennedy assassination...

No? Well, how about Marco Rubio is Joey Bishop? The lovable shnook with the great line in Vegas shtick: "Hey, have you seen Donald's hands? You know what they say: Small hands, small bird, pally..."

Okay. Hillary Clinton is Angie Dickinson. Like Angie, Hillary is a stand-up broad. Well, except for the standing-up part...

~Dispatches from Neverland: Eminent national-security Republicans, after declaring themselves #NeverTrump and denouncing him as "a danger to the nation", are apparently puzzled as to why they haven't been offered jobs in his administration. They're befuddled and bewildered. Why, it's almost like he took their principled stand seriously!

As Trump would say: Sad! You'd think "experts" on such internecine tribal sinkholes as Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc, would have a better understanding that, when it comes to switching sides, you never want to leave it too late.

~On last night's Mark Steyn Show, we discussed a small manifestation of our incremental surrender - the Tweet by a Canadian cabinet minister that she is "fascinated" by Sharia. But these days who isn't? At Indiana's New Albany-Floyd County school district, they're also fascinated:

Parents in Southern Indiana are upset by a middle school worksheet's portrayal of "Sharia law," which they say casts the Islamic code in a positive light while ignoring human rights violations and the oppression of women...

"I'm just not OK with my daughter – or any child that age – leaving class with the understanding that anything about Sharia law is OK..."

"That document by itself, it's almost propaganda," said Jon Baker, whose daughter also received the worksheet. "If you read that, you would think everything's wonderful in that world."

Of course. That's the purpose of it. Soon we'll have advanced to the next stage, which many European schools are already at: You can't teach the Crusades or the Holocaust, because they're too "controversial", but the joys of Sharia are something we can all agree on.

If you missed The Mark Steyn Show, you can catch it at your leisure here. Michele Bachmann previews the incoming Trump Administration, I take a look at who's who in the celeb-Dem boycotts, there's a stroll down memory lane with some inaugural disasters from the past couple of centuries, and, for Canuck and Commonwealth viewers, we play a round of "Know Your Ensigns". More details here.

January 18, 2017 at 10:53 am  |  Permalink

Tribulations, But No Trials

On Tuesday's eve-of-inauguration edition of The Mark Steyn Show, former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann swings by the studio to preview what the next four years might bring. Also in presidential mode, I offer a few inaugural observations - and consider the attempt to de-legitimize the incoming chief executive. And it's Flag Day on the Steyn scene - if only for Canucks and Aussies. For more details on The Mark Steyn Show, see here.

~On the second anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo bloodbath, Douglas Murray looks at the pitiful condition of France's satirical magazine - and the parlous state of free speech throughout the west:

Most of the people who said they cared about the right to say what they wanted when they wanted, about everything and anything -- including one particularly stern and unamused religion -- were willing to walk the walk: that is, they were willing to walk through Paris with a pencil in the air. Or they were willing to talk the talk, proclaiming "Je Suis Charlie." But almost no one really meant it. If they had, then -- as Mark Steyn pointed out -- those crowds in Paris would not have been parading through the streets holding pencils, but holding cartoons of Mohammed. "You're going to have to get us all" would have been the message.

Douglas cites this particularly egregious betrayal of the principle of free speech, from a land that was once the crucible of liberty:

Even the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, asked in the House of Commons to stand up for the right of an athlete not to have his career destroyed because of one fleeting, drunken joke, equivocated:

"This is a balance that we need to find. We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country -- that is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy.

"But we also value tolerance to others. We also value tolerance in relation to religions. This is one of the issues that we have looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the Government has produced.

"I think we need to ensure that yes it is right that people can have that freedom of expression, but in doing so that right has a responsibility too -- and that is a responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance to others."

For the last two years, we have learned for certain that any such tolerance is a one-way street. Our societies had been walking up it. But from the other direction came the Kalashnikov brigade who only had to fire once; in the face of it, the whole civilised world chose to U-turn and run back the other way.

The likes of Mrs May are conditioning us to tolerate the avowedly intolerant: That way lies a descent into endless night. I wrote a book on that theme a decade ago, but, alas, the western leadership class chose to spend the last ten years accelerating the process. Nevertheless, a few prominent Europeans are none too happy about where they're headed:

Monsignor Carlo Liberati, Archbishop Emeritus of Pompeii, said that Islam will soon become Europe's main religion thanks to the huge number of Muslim migrants alongside the increasing secularism of native Europeans.

Speaking to Italian Catholic journal La Fede Quotidiana, the archbishop said: "In 10 years we will all be Muslims because of our stupidity. Italy and Europe live in a pagan and atheist way... All of this moral and religious decadence favours Islam."

"We have a weak Christian faith," he added. "The Church nowadays does not work well and seminaries are empty... All this paves the way to Islam. In addition to this, they have children and we do not. We are in full decline."

One of the safest bets is that something beats nothing.

~I wrote the other day:

Next month, by the way, I'll be north of the border to see the litigious hockey-stick huckster [Michael E Mann] take on my compatriot Tim Ball in Vancouver. If you're in the neighbourhood, do swing by and say hello.

If you're in Goose Bay, Labrador and about to set off, save your Greyhound fare. The Mann vs Ball trial has now been mysteriously "adjourned" until a not yet specified later date. So yet again the court system appears willing to assist the litigious Mann's resort to interminable lawsuits that never actually get to trial. But I promise this: In BC as in DC, the courtroom doors will eventually be prised open, and I will be there.

~And, while I won't be in Vancouver next month, I will be north of the border. Three years ago, I spoke at the Manning Conference in Ottawa, which is, very roughly speaking, the Canadian equivalent of CPAC. My thesis was that the facts of life are conservative. This year I'm back, in very different circumstances for northern Tories. But, the Trudeaupian restoration notwithstanding, we will have fun and do our best to rouse the troops. The conference runs from February 23rd to the 25th, and you can find out more details here.

~W magazine - the magazine for George W Bush fans - has a feature called "Culture Diet", which I like to give the once-over every so often. The subject this week is Vanity Fair's maestro of profiles, Bob Colacello:

First thing you read in the morning:
The New York Post.

Books on your bedside table right now:
The Undocumented Mark Steyn. He's Canadian, conservative, and amazingly funny.

The TV show keeping you up at night:
Don Lemon on CNN.

Last movie you saw in theaters:
Hidden Figures. Loved it.

In the old days at the Speccie in London and Canada's National Post, I used to have a lot of readers who didn't agree with me politically but enjoyed reading me. My unexpected namecheck from Bob Colacello reminded me that, in all the years I've been in America, that's hardly ever happened here. As the new President would say: Sad!

See you tonight on the telly.

January 17, 2017 at 10:24 am  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, January 9-15

In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Mark:

The week began with Steyn's Song of the Week and a wild jungle tribute to Debbie Reynolds.

~On Monday Mark addressed a huge media blind spot - the refusal to see the Islamization of Europe and what it portends - and their outright deception about a brutal attack in Chicago. It was our most-read piece of the week.

~On Tuesday Steyn unveiled the first current-events edition of the new Mark Steyn Show. He pushed back hard against Meryl Streep and Hollywood "victimhood", and noted that neither she nor other movie A-listers had said a word about film-makers and other artists who in recent years have been silenced for their art, even unto death. He also talked about the disease of "cultural appropriation" - can non-Mexicans wear a sombrero? can white novelists write black characters? - and celebrated a prototype reality star, Buffalo Bill. More details on the show here.

~Later in the week Mark's old boss Rich Lowry penned an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times on climate mullah Michael E Mann's five-year lawsuit against Steyn, and the hockey-stick huckster's serial hostility to free speech for anyone who disagrees with him. We thank those readers around the world who've enthusiastically backed Mark, and especially those who've expressed their support by buying his climatological bestseller on Mann's damage to science.

~As Steyn noted this week, it cannot have been the intent of the authors of the First Amendment that Americans should enjoy fewer free-speech rights than those territories that remained within the British Empire. Just to underline that point, Breitbart's James Delingpole won an important victory in London this week over a Big Climate enforcer, but even in his hour of triumph he quoted a too familiar maxim:

As Mark Steyn says, the process is the punishment.

~On Friday Mark ended the week with the second weekend edition of The Mark Steyn Show. The theme was the future, the day after tomorrow - the America of 2029, as conjured in a new novel - but Mark and his guests also found time to pay tribute to the late songwriter Leon Russell, with his slinkiest, sultriest ballad.

~For our Saturday movie date, Steyn presented a special video edition of Mark at the Movies, celebrating a classic film and discussing both the high-tech security state and cinema's first sexy robot:

A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week - and stay tuned for further episodes of The Mark Steyn Show: On our pre-inauguration show this Tuesday, he'll talk the state of the world, and what the new administration will do about it, with Michele Bachmann.

January 15, 2017 at 7:09 am  |  Permalink

Fake but Literally Accurate

If you missed the first weekend edition of The Mark Steyn Show, Deborah Poore writes:

Loved the first show - well worth the wait! Entertaining, smart conversation, talented people - what a concept. Looking forward to more!

On the other hand, Brian Shanley writes:

The Sorvino interview was unbearable. Ugh. Awful.

If you incline more toward the Deborah Poore end of the spectrum, check in with us tomorrow night, Tuesday. We'll be talking, among other things, about "cultural appropriation". I may have to wear my sombrero for that.

~Tim Blair writes in Sydney's Daily Telegraph:

A decade ago, dopey Australia leftists were bewildered by Mark Steyn's description of Malmo, Sweden, as a city threatened by Islamic immigration.

Steyn was right then, and he's right now.

The Telegraph link links to that "bewildered" link which links to this Opinion Dominion link which links to this Herald Sun link which is unfortunately sleeping with the fishes. It's a great pity The Herald Sun has decided to eighty-six that 2006 column by Jill Singer, in which she and host Jon Faine "stared at each other with incredulity" during my appearance on his ABC radio show after I mentioned the Islamization of Malmö. The high point of her piece, as I recall, was Miss Singer's comparison of my dress style to that of Thurston Howell III in "Gilligan's Island". I would have responded in kind, but that would have been ungallant.

So instead I offered to fly the disbelieving Miss Singer and Mr Faine to Malmö free of charge to see for themselves, as I've seen it for myself multiple times over the years. But evidently the ABC stalwarts declined to risk having the placid complacency of their illusions disturbed.

~In fairness to the Aussies, they're some miles distant from Malmö. The torture inflicted on Austin Hillbourn, a teenage schizophrenic, happened in Chicago, and the US media still couldn't bear to confront reality. I discussed the case on the radio last week, but Jim Goad lays out what occurred in unsparing detail. As livestreamed on Facebook, this is what the (white) victim's (black) tormentors told him:

Fuck Donald Trump, nigga! Fuck white people, boy! Fuck white people, boy!

This nigga right here—he represents Trump.

His ass deserve it. His ass from Europe.

400 years done stopped two years ago...

Goof-ass white man.

And this is how CBS News, Edward R Murrow's network, reported the above:

In the video he is choked and repeatedly called the n-word. His clothes are slashed and he is terrorized with a knife. His alleged captors repeatedly reference Donald Trump. Police are holding four people in connection with the attack.

As Mediaite's Alex Griswold observes:

The report is technically correct, but widely misleading.

You don't say. Golly, you'd almost get the impression they wanted people to think that a black guy had been beaten up by four white Trump fans who called him "the n-word". Maybe someone or other could launch a campaign against "fake news" or something...

Heather Mac Donald is also worth reading on the subject: "A Window into a Depraved Culture."

In Malmö as in Chicago, the gulf between reality and the Official Lie will only widen in the years ahead.

UPDATE - from the Instapundit:

To be forthright about what happened gives the alt-right types the ability to say "See, we told you so!" The Times has its own narrative and will not give this competing, conservative, "hate" narrative any air.

But it's inevitable that the truth will emerge. In which case the alt-right types are EVEN MORE empowered, because they can both point to events, and the media's attempt to cover them up – "fake news" indeed.

January 9, 2017 at 5:08 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, January 2-8

In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Mark:

The week, and the year, began with a song for the season.

~On Monday Steyn marked two recent passings - the man who invented Kinder Eggs, on which vexed subject Mark and the Department of Homeland Security strongly disagree; and the great Debbie Reynolds, who did everything from sodden singing with Gene Kelly to hooty-hooting with the hooty owls.

~On Tuesday Steyn found himself reeling under a double assault - from the District of Columbia courts and from fans of the new film La La Land.

~On Wednesday Mark guest-hosted for Rush on America's Number One radio show. Among the topics discussed was the decision of Dr Judith Curry to quit Georgia Tech because of the "craziness" of the climate science echo chamber. As Jo Nova wrote, "Steyn doesn't hold back" in a withering dissection of the disgusting treatment of Dr Curry by hockey-stick huckster Michael E Mann and his Mann-boys. It was our most-read piece of the week.

~As for the ongoing lawsuit Mann filed against Steyn, now in its fifth year, Jo Nova put it well:

Mark Steyn has no fear of Michael Mann.

We thank those many readers who've written in support of Mark, and especially those who've expressed it by buying his climatological bestseller on Mann's damage to science.

~Steyn ended the week with a second guest-hosting stint for Rush behind the Golden EIB Microphone. An hour into the show, Fort Lauderdale International Airport went into lockdown when yet another "known wolf" opened fire at the Terminal Two baggage claim. As with recent attacks in Brussels and Istanbul, it underlined a point Mark made almost seven years ago - that the so-called "secure area" of the airport only makes the non-secure area an ever more inviting target.

~Later on Friday Steyn launched the first weekend edition of the new Mark Steyn Show. Among his guests were a Goodfella and his missus, Paul and Dee Dee Sorvino. Paul sang a world-famous Neapolitan song written for his aunt - "O Sole Mio" - and, more surprisingly, Rudyard Kipling's "Road to Mandalay". He then segued from Kipling to Kissinger:

~For our Saturday movie date, Steyn presented a special video edition of Mark at the Movies, looking at this year's Oscar favorite.

A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week - and stay tuned for further episodes this week of The Mark Steyn Show.

January 8, 2017 at 7:26 am  |  Permalink

O Paulie Mio

On Friday Mark will be guest-hosting America's Number One radio show and then non-guest-hosting his own TV show, The Mark Steyn Show. So, for Steyn fans, that's three hours on radio plus an hour on telly: as Mark said on the air on Wednesday, for a very occasional guest-host that's longer and harder than he's labored in a single day since he worked summers on a farm when he was a teenager.

~Among his guests on television tonight is Paul (Goodfellas) Sorvino, who inter alia is a brilliant mimic:

Paul will be talking about acting and sculpting and hunting, and about his personal connection to "O Sole Mio". Also on the show: live music from Maria Muldaur, who'll be temporarily abandoning "Midnight At The Oasis" for a wild jungle tribute to Debbie Reynolds. And Mark and Kyle Smith consider this year's Oscar favorite, La La Land.

We hope you'll join Mark on this first weekend edition of The Mark Steyn Show - and before that on the radio, starting at 12 noon Eastern/9am Pacific.

~Next to the mountain of five-star Amazon reviews piled up by Mark's cat album, his and Jessica's Christmas album has languished somewhat. But we like this first five-star review of the New Year for Making Spirits Bright from Kerry Kaminski:

Entertaining. A great fit for my Christmas CD mix.

It certainly is, Kerry. And it's never too early to plan your Christmas CD mix for 2017.

January 5, 2017 at 11:47 pm  |  Permalink

La La La Can't Hear You

On Wednesday, I'll be enjoying a little light radio work on America's Number One radio show, details at right. It starts at 12 noon Eastern/9am Pacific. If you're in possession of the necessary receiving apparatus, I hope you'll dial us up, either on one of 600 radio stations across the US or via iHeartRadio livestream.

~Should hockey-stick huckster Michael Mann's interminable lawsuit against me succeed, it would be the worst setback for the First Amendment in half-a-century. Such unlikely Steyn allies as NBC, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, etc, all agree on that - in their amicus briefs. But actual editorials on this case have been far thinner on the ground. Indeed, the biggest difference between the hockey-stick huckster's suit and the Canadian Islamic Congress' attempt to criminalize my writing north of the border is that (by comparison with the CBC, The Globe & Mail et al) mainstream US media editorialists have been entirely silent. So I was pleased to see this piece from the editors of The New York Post, headlined "DC Court of Appeals' Global Warming Decision Threatens First Amendment":

As Americans were preparing to trade Christmas presents last week, the DC Court of Appeals was moving to take a gift away: Americans' right to free speech.

The court ruled that Penn State climatologist Michael Mann's defamation suit against National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute can go to trial. That should send shivers down the spines of anyone who cares about open debate and challenges to scientific findings.

Mann's suit claims bloggers Mark Steyn, on NR's site, and Rand Simberg, on CEI's, defamed him when they slammed his global warming research, particularly his famous hockey stick graph...

The Post notes that both Mr Simberg and I were making "statements of opinion" and that, "under the First Amendment, Americans can express their opinion". That's true - or it was until Judge Vanessa Ruiz and her colleagues came along. Her ladyship's view that, once an "expert" body has ruled on a subject, freeborn citizens are obliged to accept that ruling and shut the hell up is perverse and repugnant.

But the Post also adds:

And, after all, who's to say the authors are wrong?

Which is my position. I believe the hockey stick is fraudulent - which is why I stated that it's fraudulent. I've said it's fraudulent in major publications in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, inter alia, since the end of the 20th century - without any slapdash jurists in those countries presuming to say that I had no right to do so.

For the record, I did not write that Mann himself is a fraud, although I'm happy to prove that in court. As that is what the sclerotic and diseased husk of DC justice apparently requires of me, I wish they'd get on with it - as I've been petitioning for over three years. The Post concludes:

The First Amendment, NR notes, is designed specifically to safeguard the right "to express caustic criticism of scientific theories that purport to resolve hot-button political controversies on matters as sweepingly consequential as the extent and cause of global warming."

By opening the door to curbs on that right, the court does the nation a huge disservice.

Just so.

I thank all those readers committed to ensuring that a malodorous ideologue doesn't get away with hijacking the First Amendment. If you're interested in keeping me in the game until this outrageous case comes to trial, well, I wrote a whole book on this subject.

~My farewell to Debbie Reynolds included a casual aside on the new and extravagantly praised motion picture La La Land. Mark Shere responds:

Mark,

I love love love just about everything you write, and I am an early subscriber to your TV show, which I am sure I will also love if my subscription is ever rewarded with an actual show. I have even given your Broadway Babies book as a well-received gift to friends. That's why I have my fingers in my ears going "la la la I can't hear you" at your brief and rather snobbish put down of La La Land.

So you declare it "lumpy and earthbound'? I know a certain Christmas special that I quite enjoyed, which featured some older performers, slow pacing, and a lumpy and earthbound host who is a delightful singer, as long as you are not expecting too much. One of the nice things about your Christmas special is that no one has been making Christmas shows like that for some decades. So too, I can't think of a La La-type movie in the past 30 years, maybe a lot more.

Gentle love stories set to some lovely songs, and paying careful respect to the look and sound and feel of decades past... it's rather a small category, no? And how about that brief scene where a multi-prop plane travels around a little plastic globe? Worth the price of admission right there.

Meanwhile, I've been listening happily to the music since seeing the movie, and the tunes stick firmly in the mind. In fact, I tried listening to the On the Town soundtrack after La La, only to find the former a serious disappointment and not nearly as good as I remembered it. Yes, we all know that you are the Grand Wizard of musicology, and poor La La can't be expected to meet your discerning standards. But you should really lighten up on this one.

Mark Shere
Indianapolis

Oh, dear. I had hoped I had a few more years before my views on this or that were put down to senescence and obsolescence. But, since the Age Card of "slow pacing" has been played, I ought to say that I saw La La Land with my kids at Merrill's Roxy in Burlington - the only cinema in northern Vermont or NH that was showing it - and, when we walked in, my daughter looked around at the crowd and said, "Hey, Dad, this is weird. Next to us, you're the youngest one here." Which wasn't strictly true: There was a callow millennial or two in attendance. But it was certainly an audience that skewed way older than Iron Man 9 or Cardboard Man 12.

As for my kids, their biggest disappointment was that it wasn't a musical, only a half-hearted semi-musical. There was an opening number, then a second number, and then, gradually, the songs petered out, until in the second half there were barely any at all. As my beloved daughter observed, "They didn't commit to the concept."

We may discuss this further on The Mark Steyn Show later this week. Meanwhile, see you on the radio.

January 3, 2017 at 5:13 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, December 26-January 1

Happy New Year to our readers around the world. We have a song for the season, and some auld lang cine.

In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Steyn:

~The week began with some appropriate musical performances from Mark's guests on this year's Mark Steyn Christmas Show - for the day itself, one of the most haunting of Christmas carols, followed by some mellow music for Boxing Day.

~As for Boxing Day itself, this year even more so than usual it signaled the holiday without end.

~On Tuesday Mark remembered George Michael, his rhymes and reasons.

~On Wednesday he rounded up various reactions to the very belated developments in the interminable lawsuit brought against him by Big Climate's serial plaintiff Michael E Mann. One of the dafter passages from the DC Court of Appeals' opinion was considered separately (scroll down). Down Under, Tim Blair knows what side he's on. We thank those many readers who've written in support, and especially those who've expressed it by buying Steyn's climatological bestseller on the subject.

~Also midweek, Mark spent Wednesday and Thursday guest-hosting America's Number One radio show, and covering topics from the Year of Trump and Brexit to the Twitter-policing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds' grieving friends and family.

~Even in holiday weeks, the planet spins. On Friday, Steyn pondered the outgoing Obama Administration's exertions upon Israel, and from Illinois a Big Government effort to turn hairdressers into Stasi stylists.

~For New Year's Eve, Mark offered some movies for the last night - of the year, and of the world. He also returned to a favorite song by Frank Loesser:

Stephanie Malaspian responds:

Thanks for the ginger cheer.

We do hope that's not gingerphobic. Speaking of ginger cheer, if you want to get a jump on Christmas 2017, here's a seasonal CD from Mark that is sure to make your spirits bright. We like this latest five-star Amazon review headlined "Perfect Christmas Album!":

Wow, this is a truly great album! My kids and I love dancing to it, and it's so refreshing after the same old Christmas standards. I was skeptical about Mark the singing pundit but I was wrong! This will be a stocking stuffer for sure next year!

Thank you, Jessica. It's never too early to plan your 2017 stocking stuffers.

This coming week at SteynOnline Mark will be back behind the Golden EIB Microphone on Wednesday and Friday. Don't miss it.

January 1, 2017 at 7:14 am  |  Permalink

License to Dye

The New York Times reports on "the spirit of camaraderie in hair salons":

"They say that the hairdresser gets all the secrets," Ms. Smith said. "They let go here. Everybody doesn't talk, but once you build a relationship with someone, that's when it happens. It's just like when you have a best girlfriend."

A new state rule taking effect on Jan. 1 recognizes that the unique relationship between hairdressers and their customers may help curb domestic abuse and sexual assault. The amendment to a law that governs the cosmetology industry will require salon workers to take one hour of training every two years to recognize the signs of abuse and assault and will provide them with a list of resources to which they can refer clients for help.

Without the training, cosmetologists in Illinois will not be able to renew their licenses. The professionals covered by the rule — believed to be the first in the nation — include hairstylists, nail technicians and aestheticians.

Let's just run that again: In Illinois, if you don't do your domestic-abuse training course every two years, you'll lose your hairdressing license - and your livelihood.

As I write in After America, in the Fifties one in 20 members of the workforce needed government permission to do his job. Now it's one in three. The original justification for requiring a government permit to cut another person's hair is that a salon contains potentially dangerous chemicals such as coloring products. Making the license conditional upon acing sexual-assault training courses is not just the usual Big Government expansion but the transformation of the relationship between a private business and the state:

The rule was inspired by the spirit of camaraderie in hair salons, said State Senator Bill Cunningham, one of the chief sponsors of the amendment. For some women, those salons are a safe space, where they can sit among other women, drop their guard and confide about life as their hair is braided or colored, or their nails trimmed and painted....

As Ann Althouse comments:

So, it's a great place for government to plant informants...

Just so. Just as the Stasi turned neighbors and relatives into spies, the State of Illinois is making your stylist one. Will the "spirit of camaraderie" survive this new legislation? Or will such stock inquiries about coming vacations and plans for the weekend suddenly seem far more loaded and alert the customer that she's now in the blow-dried equivalent of a Bulgarian hotel lobby circa 1978?

This gets my Big Government sounds like a creepy stalker tag... It's interesting that the state doesn't require salon workers to report anyone to the police or to social services. It's not like the way psychotherapists must submit to compulsion. But the state does require the training, repeated training, and it is willing to deprive hairdressers of their license — their livelihood — if they don't comply.

So, like so much government makework paper-shuffling schemes, it won't do anything to reduce the problem it's meant to be addressing, but it will be just one more tedious time-consuming obstacle to making a modest living.

And all this in Illinois, home to Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama's Murderopolis. Priorities.

~Speaking of priorities, as John Kerry has reminded us, the greatest iniquity and injustice in the world today is the scourge of Israeli "settlers". As I mentioned on the radio yesterday, America cannot "stand idly by" at this affront to its values. One of the affronters writes to Mark's Mailbox:

Hi Mr. Steyn,

As with everything else, your observation on Kerry's assertion that the United States government "cannot stand idly by" while Israelis build settlements is right on the, well, mark. But there's a salient point that most readers might not be aware of: the very word "settlements" is a deliberate misnomer, intended to conjure up the image of some scraggly, dusty burning-with-ideology pioneers who haven't taken a shower in ages staking out an outpost in the middle of nowhere.

I happen to live in one of the "settlements," for the same reason that people all over the world leave the big city and head to the 'burbs – more affordable housing, not ideology. Our "settlement" of Beitar Illit has a population of close to 50,000, living in beautiful apartment buildings, houses and two-family homes, with parks and playgrounds and shopping centers and city hall and no litter (just about), and well over forty synagogues (according to my count). In September, over 22,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade walked off to the first day of school; close to 4,000 of those kids were in kindergarten and first grade alone (that's an official stat).

Does that sound like a "settlement" to anyone?

Thanks for all your support and keep up the great work!

G-d bless,

Dafna Breines
Beitar Illit, Israel

You're right that the word "settlement" is a loaded one. "Settlers" is intended to invoke what happened in, say, the "settlement" of North America and Australia, when British settlers settled on land that was not part of an internationally recognized sovereign nation but nevertheless had certain indigenous peoples in the area.

That's not what happened here. In 1948, one internationally recognized sovereign state (Israel) was invaded by the armies of various neighboring sovereign states (Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq). At the end of that war, much of the former British Mandate of Palestine was in Israeli hands, but the West Bank wound up with Jordan and the Gaza Strip with Egypt. Over the next two decades, nobody referred to Egypt's or Jordan's exercise of its sovereignty in those lands under loaded terms such as "settlement". [Clarification: Indeed, given that Hashemite kingdom sits on the eastern half of Mandatory Palestine, the entire Jordanian state might be said to be "settlers" on "Palestinian" land.]

In 1967, the Arabs tried again to wipe out Israel, and again failed. And this time their defeat was even more total: Egypt lost the Gaza Strip (and the Sinai) and Jordan lost the West Bank. That was half-a-century ago. One of the most basic laws of war is: to the victor the spoils. If you launch a war and you lose, then the guy who took your territory is the one who determines its future. Instead, the "international community" decided to intervene in the matter in a way it has in no other supposed boundary dispute.

Thus began the "Palestiniazation" of the problem. Uniquely in such matters, the victorious sovereign state is forbidden from returning the spoils of war to the defeated sovereign states - Jordan and Egypt. Instead, it can only treat with the designated representatives of "Palestine", who (as I mentioned on the radio yesterday) have no interest in nation-building, or capacity for it, only in Jew-killing.

To repeat: the "international community"'s treatment of this issue is like no other boundary dispute of the last 200 years. Maybe that's because this situation is unique to one small patch of land in the Middle East. Or maybe it's because the "international community" really really doesn't like Jews.

I say that Israel (independent since 1948), Jordan (1946) and Egypt (1922) are all sovereign states entitled to act in their own interests, and live with the consequences - especially after two or three generations.

~I'll be back on the radio next week, incidentally. I believe it's Wednesday and Friday.

December 30, 2016 at 9:01 am  |  Permalink

Speaking as a Man of Views...

I spent much of Thursday behind the Golden EIB Microphone guest-hosting America's Number One radio show. I'll be back next week in the bright new dawn of 2017, but meanwhile you can find a few moments from today's show here. We began with the Obama Administration's last-minute screw-over of Netanyahu:

The phrase that struck me that Kerry used: 'America can't stand idly by' - because of these Israeli settlements. 'Stand idly by' has been the Obama modus operandi in that region since he took office. He has stood idly by as half a million people have died in Syria, and Iraq has been swept by ISIS. Millions and millions of people have been set loose across the region, so-called refugees destabilizing American allies in Europe...

Obama and Kerry have been happy to "stand idly by" for mass murder, decapitations, burnings, sex slavery, ethnocultural cleansing, etc, etc, etc. But put up a Jewish subdivision and all of a sudden they're not going to stand idly by, no sirree.

I also noted the way that humorless bullying unreadable scolds who never knew Carrie Fisher are demanding of those who did that they cease remembering the actual real human being in unapproved ways:

You're only allowed to memorialize Carrie Fisher in the officially approved way. Even if you knew her, it doesn't make any difference, you still have to subscribe to the officially approved way.

I was referring to Steve Martin getting his heartfelt tweet Twittershamed by some humorless talentless millennial dweeb at New York magazine, but look here comes another. Paul Simon:

Yesterday was a horrible day. Carrie was a special, wonderful girl. It's too soon.

To which someone called Pink Thouse responded:

@PaulSimonMusic she was a woman not a girl!! Show respect

Paul Simon was married to Carrie Fisher.

Who the hell is Pink Thouse to tell a guy how to mourn his ex-wife? Why doesn't Pink Thouse "show respect" to someone grieving for a person he actually knows better than almost anyone on the planet, as opposed to someone you've just seen on TV and insist on pushing into dreary identity-group cookie-cutter shapes? Why don't you piss off and find someone of your own to mourn?

The ugly totalitarian thuggery of these types makes civilized social interaction all but impossible.

I spent some considerable time with Paul Simon a few years back, and he spoke warmly to me not only about Carrie Fisher but also her mom Debbie Reynolds, for whom he had considerable admiration.

On the radio this afternoon, we also remembered Miss Reynolds, a great and (until yesterday) indestructible old trouper. It was a sad end to a life lived to the full. As I recommended to listeners, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to Debbie and Carleton Carpenter singing "Aba Daba Honeymoon" in Two Weeks With Love - the first of nearly seven decades of great Debbie Reynolds moments, and a song that never fails to perk up me and my beloved daughter.

~Thank you to Kris from Folsom, Louisiana for calling up to say how much she enjoyed this year's Mark Steyn Christmas Show. To get that kind of top-quality entertainment year-round, please go here.

~After Wednesday's show I received this missive from a listener Down Under:

Mark,

Really enjoyed listening to you on Rush today, and can't wait to hear you again tomorrow.

Regarding what you were talking about today, when you mentioned you're sick of hearing people say "But you can't say that" whenever someone offers a non-PC comment, which is, as you pointed out, making us a dull and weakened society: I'd like to go one further than that, and it is similar to the unfunny late night comedians. I get really frustrated now whenever I'm watching a TV show or a movie from a few decades ago, and having a good laugh at some non-PC bit, and the first thought that comes to my (and many others) mind is "there's no way you could make this show or movie today"!

I was watching a Carry On marathon over Christmas, and I was just starting to think it while watching Sid James do his randy old bugger bit, and I just got frustrated at always having to think it while watching something like that. You could say the same for Benny Hill and many others too. Hell, even watching It's A Wonderful Life would get the femiNazis going because Mary stayed "an old maid" because of an absence of George Bailey. Indeed, applying today's 'sensibilities' to the past 50 years of entertainment would see very little 'entertainment' today!

Funnily enough, when Ross Higgins (the star of Australia's version of 'Till Death Do Us Part', 'Kingswood Country') passed away in October, the show got plenty of coverage in the media, and was fondly remembered by countless Australians, especially for its non-PC humour- including myself, in spite of (or maybe because of) the fact he always insulted Italians, Catholics and Ford Drivers (of which I'm all three!). Funny how I can have a laugh at myself, but Generation Snowflake can't! Any wonder I don't watch many first run TV shows nowadays!

Speaking of which, you forced me into my safe space with your microaggression when your impersonation of Andrea Bocelli triggered me into fits of confected outrage. As another blind (well, very shortsighted!) Italian named Andrea (on my birth certificate!), your Italian impersonation had me in tears - of laughter! Keep up the great work!

Happy New Year (and Monday and Tuesday after New Year too)!

Andrew Vaccaro
Melbourne, Victoria

That's a valid point. This totalitarian groupthink doesn't just consume your future, it destroys your past, too.

~On the endlessly delayed Mann vs Steyn trial of the century, I regularly receive mail from otherwise supportive readers politely suggesting that I should make my contempt for the genius jurists of the District of Columbia a wee bit less obvious. Well, I do my best, really I do. But then you wait three years for an "interlocutory" opinion, and no less than a troika of supposed judges offer up fatuous hackery like this, from page 64:

We note that in the article Mr. Simberg does not employ language normally used to convey an opinion, such as "in my view," or "in my opinion," or "I think."38 The article's assertions about Dr. Mann's deception and misconduct are stated objectively, as having been "shown" and "revealed" by the CRU emails. Thus, Mr. Simberg's article can fairly be read as making defamatory factual assertions outright.

Oh, for cryin' out loud. Opinion-writing is a very minor skill, but over the years I've done it at Britain's biggest-selling broadsheet (The Daily Telegraph), Canada's national newspaper (The National Post), Ireland's national newspaper (The Irish Times), Australia's national newspaper (The Australian), and the oldest continuously published magazine in the English language (The Spectator). So I think I can serve as my own expert witness on this matter. One of the first things you either learn fast or are quickly told by cranky editors is that you never use phrases such as "in my view" or "in my opinion" - because it's perfectly obvious to all sentient creatures that it's your view and your opinion. In my own case, National Review is a journal of opinion, and I was advertised as a columnist for it - which is to say a man paid for his views and opinions - and "The Corner" is National Review Online's group opinion blog, which is to say a flock or bevy of opinionators. To keep writing "in my opinion" or "in my view" every other sentence would be as superfluous as these three judges peppering their brilliant legal reasoning with "Speaking as a judge" or "It seems to me, as a renowned legal thinker" every other paragraph.

It's truly pathetic that that's the best they can come up with after three years. For that kind of drivel, they might at least have coughed up their response 48 hours later.

PS As this fiasco is going to run and run, quite possibly to the Supreme Court, any readers minded to keep me in 'bus fare to the courthouse might enjoy my book on the litigious plaintiff and his cartoon climatology. The perfect gift for Hogmanay or St Stephen's Day.

December 29, 2016 at 4:02 pm  |  Permalink

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