Image Map

Mark Steyn

The Only JayVee Player on the Court

On Tuesday night Mark joined Sean Hannity live on Fox News to discuss President Obama's ridiculous characterization of Isis as the "JayVees" of jihad, and the White House's attempts to walk it back. Steyn was not impressed by the Commander-in-Chief's witless and shallow analogy:

If there is a JV player on the court at the moment, if you ask Putin, if you ask the mullahs, if you ask the Chinese Politburo, if you ask ISIS, if you ask every rinky-dink jihadist on the outskirts of Benghazi who the JV player is on court, they're going to have no problem telling you it's President Obama. A man who's shredded American foreign policy and left Al Qaeda, ISIS, and its affiliates running around, gamboling across a vast swathe of territory from West Africa to Afghanistan - that's the JV player on the court today.

To watch more from Mark's appearance on Hannity, click here.

August 27, 2014 at 12:25 am  |  Permalink

Have it His Way

While Obama golfed: Over the weekend, Tripoli Airport fell to the jihad boys. I was there some years ago, and thought it compared favorably with, say, Logan. Now it's a smoking ruin - part of the blowback from Obama's leading with his behind, or whatever he calls it. As things stand, this guy will end his presidency with a chain of failed states for al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, ISIS and the Taliban to gambol and frolic in stretching from West Africa to the Hindu Kush. But you can't see them from Martha's Vineyard, so who cares?

~Can you see Burger King from the Vineyard Golf Club? America's second-biggest burger chain is the latest US corporation to vote with its feet - by wooing Tim Hortons:

Burger King Worldwide Inc. said it is in talks to buy the Canadian coffee-and-doughnut chain and relocate to Canada to take advantage of the country's lower corporate tax regime.

Like Pfizer and other companies, Burger King has figured out that the quickest way to escape Obama's America is to buy a business in another western nation and order up a new set of letterheads with a foreign address. President Tee-Time will doubtless give a speech at a fundraiser demonizing Burger King and reminding them that in this burg there's only one king and his slogan is "Have it my way!"

America is seizing up. A country that was once a byword for dynamism and energy has chosen not decline but something closer to suicide.

~The empire-building talk-show host Glenn Beck has apparently offered to buy Headline News from CNN. As Ed Driscoll points out, the news report at The Wrap manages to miss the main point of interest - which is that, before his present eminence, Beck was a minor host at HLN, one of several CNN anchors whose talents the network had no idea how to exploit, as opposed to the gate-delay deadbeats they keep on for decades. So the fun part of the story is the element of sweet revenge - as when former RKO contract player Lucille Ball returned to the studio lot and bought it for her production company.

~Also via Ed Driscoll, I learn that gangsta rap impresario Suge Knight was shot in West Hollywood - not by the Ferguson Police Department, I hasten to add. I only ever write about Suge when he's involved in a rap-wars shooting, and this time, poor fellow, he was the one who get perforated. The big guy has a small part in Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, which is available in a personally autographed print edition direct from SteynOnline, or in new expanded eBook format from Amazon worldwide and the other outlets listed at the foot of the page. Suge shows up in my obituary for his late client Tupac Shakur, shot dead in Vegas in 1996 while sitting in the passenger seat of Mr Knight's car:

This guy, Suge Knight, for example - the 300-lb gangsta impresario of Death Row Records who seems to be taking a surprisingly relaxed view of the murder, in the adjoining seat, of his biggest-selling artiste. I was vaguely aware that in 1994 Suge had paid $1.4 million to spring Pac from jail, and that Suge was a member of the Bloods, or maybe it was the Crips - anyway, not the Elks; I dimly recalled that during contractual negotiations he'd threatened Eazy-E, since dead of Aids, with a baseball bat. But, until the aftermath of Tupac's death, I never knew that Suge's house in Vegas was next door to Wayne Newton's.

Wayne Newton! What did Wayne ever do to deserve that? It's like discovering Saddam Hussein lives next door to Angela Lansbury. What do they talk about over the fence?

Well, now they can talk about Suge's bullet wounds. I wonder if this time, as in 1996, the wily hip-hopper has any exploitable product to hand:

With exquisite timing, a few days after their star's murder Death Row Records couriered 2Pac's last video over to MTV, with the innocent suggestion that they might like to rush it into high rotation. Filmed a couple of months ago, it shows, by a remarkable coincidence, the vocal artiste dying in a drive-by shooting in a car not dissimilar to Suge's. All it lacks is a bullet-ridden 2Pac turning to Suge and gasping with his dying breath, "Et 2, Brute?"

Thus life imitates art, or at least the video.

I can't help feeling we easy-listening types would get more respect if we did a bit of this sort of thing. Maybe I should shoot up Johnny Mathis' string section to promote my Christmas album.

~Don't forget Mark Steyn's Passing Parade can be yours in personally autographed print format direct from SteynOnline, or in the new expanded eBook edition, which you can be reading within minutes in Kindle, Nook or Kobo - from Barnes & Noble in the US, from Indigo-Chapters in Canada, and from Amazon outlets worldwide. Click below for your nearest branch office:

Amazon US: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Canada: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon UK: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Australia: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon India: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon France: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Germany: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Italy: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Spain: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Japan: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Brazil: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

Amazon Mexico: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade expanded edition

August 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, August 18-24

Mark was busy with family matters toward the end of the week, but he still found time to keep an eye on the big news. In case you missed it, here's his take on the last seven days:

We began the week with the welcome return of Mark's Mailbox.

~Our Monday-morning Song of the Week was the song that gave birth to an entire genre - the first great love ballad in the American Songbook.

~On Tuesday Mark returned to one of the big themes of the summer - the contrast between the express check-in at America's evaporated southern border and the ever more insane harassment of the law-abiding at the northern border, with the latest installment of the federal commissars' crackdown on bagpipes.

~On Wednesday Mark joined Toronto's Number One morning man John Oakley to discuss Ferguson, Missouri and the militarization of US policing, and the news that in the new Caliphate an American had been beheaded by a "Briton", which proved to be our most-read piece of the week.

~On the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century, Steve McIntyre reported that Big Climate enforcer Michael Mann's newfound sensitivity to charges of "fraud" is at odds with the EPA's relaxed attitude to Mann's own use of that term. Thank you to all who've helped support Mark's campaign this week via the Steyn store. We continue to prepare for Mann's deposition, discovery, and trial.

~To end the week, Mark returned to the subject of beheaded American journalist James Foley, and the President's horrible, hollow evasions on the subject.

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

August 24, 2014 at 7:51 am  |  Permalink

American Decapitated by Englishman

Today, Wednesday, I started the day with Toronto's Number One morning man, John Oakley, at AM 640. We focused on two stories - the policing of Ferguson, Missouri, and the decapitation by ISIS of my fellow Granite Stater - James Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire, who was kidnapped while reporting on the Syrian uprising.

His executioner - the man standing next to him in the picture at right - was speaking with a British accent. That's to say, he's one of thousands of citizens of western nations - British, American, European, Canadian and Australian - who've flocked to join the planet's coolest new gang and saw the heads off anyone who gets in their way: Christian, Yazedi, Kurd, Shia, Alawite, and, indeed, plenty of little schoolgirls in pretty pink dresses. As I said to John, more British Muslims are serving with ISIS than as soldiers of the Queen. Click below to listen:


As the apologists for mass Muslim immigration assure us, not every western Muslim wants to join up with the head-hackers. That's true, but the number of folks back home cheering them on is not insignificant: I mentioned to John a poll showing that "15 per cent of French people back ISIS". Ah, but don't worry: it's probably an outlier.

Just before I went on air, Jeffery Hype tweeted:

@MarkSteynOnline In 2001 you made the argument that the US should attack Saudi, not Iraq. Applying same logic is it now time to invade UK?

But you gotta get up earlier than that to beat me to this stuff. I recommended to former Nato commander General Wesley Clark that America invade Britain way back in 2007.

Don't worry, I was just winding up General Clark, and at this stage I'm not sure it would accomplish anything. From the United Kingdom's point of view, the Afghan war has long been in essence a British civil war relocated to the Hindu Kush and played out between those British passport-holders loyal to Queen and country and those who regard themselves as soldiers of Allah. But the execution of James Foley broadens the scope, and foreshadows a world in which Americans are beheaded by nominal "Australians", Australians by "Belgians", Belgians by "Canadians", Canadians by "Germans", Germans by Americans.

There are two approaches to ISIS: You can kill it. Or you can feed it. And right now we're feeding it - with manpower, and with victims. And, as it feasts, it grows.

Early on in America Alone (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, he pleads pitifully with an eye to his upcoming trial) - in the introduction, in fact - I write:

In 1970, the developed nations had twice as big a share of the global population as the Muslim world: 30 per cent to 15 per cent. By 2000, they were at parity: each had about 20 per cent.

And by 2020…?

But, as I said all those years ago, soon you won't even be able to make that comparison. Because we are becoming them.

And so it is that in the supposed "Syrian civil war" an American citizen is beheaded by a British subject.

~Tomorrow, I'll be keeping my weekly radio date south of the border with Hugh Hewitt, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

August 20, 2014 at 12:32 pm  |  Permalink

The Punitive Bureaucracy's Day Off

I wrote two weeks ago about two New Hampshire teenagers having their bagpipes seized at the northern border by US Customs & Border Protection. This would be the same "border" "protection" agency that has turned the southern border into an express welfare check-in for any of the world's seven billion people minded to show up there.

My fellow Granite Staters - 17-year-old Campbell Webster and Eryk Bean, of Concord and Londonderry, New Hampshire - understood that if you go to a highland fling a couple of hours north in Quebec you're now obligated to get your bagpipes approved by US Fish & Wildlife.

Because that's just the way it is in the Land of the Free.

So Messrs Webster and Bean got their CITES certificate and presented it to the US CBP agent at the Vermont border crossing.

Whereupon he promptly confiscated their bagpipes on the grounds that, yes, their US Fish & Wildlife CITES paperwork was valid, but it's only valid at 28 ports of entry and this wasn't one of them.

Nor is any other US/Canadian land crossing. So, if you're a piper in, say, Pittsburg, New Hampshire and you want to play in a competition in La Patrie, Quebec 20 minutes north, you have to drive four-to-five hours south to Logan Airport in Boston, fly to Montreal and drive two hours east to La Patrie.

Because that's just the way it is in the Land of the Free.

When the CBP agent seized Messrs Webster and Bean's bagpipes, he told them - with the characteristic insouciance of the thug bureaucracy - that they were "never going to see them again". But thanks to the unwelcome publicity the Homeland Security mafiosi were forced to cough 'em up.

The two pipers are now heading to a competition in Scotland. So they'll be flying back via Boston, which is one of those 28 valid ports of entry. They've called Fish & Wildlife to arrange for the mandatory "inspection" of the bagpipes upon landing at Logan Airport.

Unfortunately, the official Fish & Wildlife bagpipes inspector is taking a day off that day - she's visiting her Auntie Mabel, having a seaweed wrap at the spa, whatever. So she won't be available to inspect the pipes. So she's told them they'll have to drive back to New Hampshire and then drive back to Logan the following day for the Fish & Wildlife bagpipes inspection. So she's taking a day off on Wednesday, and the bagpipers will have to take a day off on Thursday - just to comply with the diktats of the Department of Paperwork.

Because that's just the way it is in the Land of the Free.

And presumably, for the intervening 24 hours, their bagpipes will once again be seized by the feds, so here's a link to the petition they launched last time in case the government is minded to keep them.

By the way, here's an email to one bagpiper from Wildlife Inspector Rosemarie Levandowski - because at the Department of Fish & Wildlife bagpipes are designated as wildlife rather than fish. Because a wildlife inspector needs a bagpipe like a fish needs a bicycle. Here's what Inspector Levandowski writes:

Good afternoon,

After reviewing the certificate, I do not see a exception for crossing at the non-designated port of Champlain, NY. The certificate will either have to be amended to include Champlain or you can apply for a stand alone Designated Port Exception Permit (application attached). Given the time frame on this, It will not be possible to cross through Champlain. Also, there is fee of $238.00 involved with each crossing- entering the U.S. and leaving the U.S.

Feel free to call me with questions.

Rosemarie Levandowski
Wildlife Inspector
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
237 W. Service Road
Champlain, NY 12919

Gotta love that "also": Every time you take a bagpipe in and out of the United States it's a $476* round-trip fee.

Demanding a CITES certificate for bagpipes is a burden upon free-born citizens. Restricting the paperwork's validity to only 28 ports of entry is an unduly onerous burden. Requiring the bagpipers to come back on the Wednesday to those 28 ports of entry because the inspector's washing her hair on the Tuesday is an even more onerous and insulting burden. And charging an American $476 to play his bagpipe in Montreal is a shakedown racket unacceptable in a free society. Tyranny starts at the edges and nibbles its way in. This bagpipe regime is tyrannous, but it will not stop there.

As I said before, where is "the party of small government" on this? When will they pipe up?

Or do bagpipers have to loot and riot to get any attention from anyone who matters?

The annual Highland Games at Loon Mountain, New Hampshire are a significant economic boon to the state. But it's hard to see many Scots or Canadians willing to undergo the torments of US Fish & Wildlife and the risk of losing treasured old pipes, even if they can afford the 476 bucks. So see you, jimmeh!

American is economically sclerotic because it's being hyper-regulated to death. But as I concluded last time:

The degeneration of "law" into regulation is a problem. The post-constitutional order is, too. But something bigger is in play. To remain free, a people need something more basic - the spirit of liberty. Once you've lost that, there are no easy roads back.

In this republic, in 2014, there is little evidence of "the spirit of liberty".

Maybe there's a Fish & Wildlife form we can fill in to get it back...


*corrected from earlier innumeracy ($576): I usually take my socks off to count up the big numbers...

August 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, August 11-17

In case you missed it, here's the last seven days as seen by Mark:

We began the week with a trio of lasting songs from a flop musical.

~On Monday Steyn discussed the most arresting Tweet of the week - a proud Australian jihadist's photograph of his seven-year-old son holding up the severed head of a Syrian soldier.

~On Tuesday Mark pondered what happens when stone-age guys get space-age technology, and considered Isis supporters' fond memories of Robin Williams.

~Turkey held a presidential election whose results eerily confirmed a 2007 Steyn column. But in a turbulent world, it's good to know some things never change: on Wednesday, the President played golf.

~On Thursday Mark kept his weekly radio date with Hugh Hewitt and covered almost as much ground as Isis.

~Our most-read column of the week was also our most controversial, with many readers strongly disagreeing with Steyn on the militarization of the American police.

~On the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century, there was a surprising development: The ACLU, The Washington Post, NBC News and a myriad of other organizations all filed briefs with the DC Court of Appeals strongly opposing serial litigant and climate mullah Michael E Mann. On the other hand, Professor Paul Krugman is backing Mann and putting his faith in Google. We thank readers around the world for your continued support for Steyn's legal battle via your patronage of the Steyn store. We continue to prepare for Mann's deposition, discovery, and trial.

~Finally, for our weekend movie feature, we dusted off Good Will Hunting.

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

August 17, 2014 at 9:26 am  |  Permalink

Covering Almost as Much Ground as Isis

Hugh Hewitt and I were back on the air together for the first time in a month or so, and covered a lot of ground:

HUGH HEWITT: I don't even know where to begin. We have Ferguson, MO on edge and the President telling them to calm down. We have the Putin convoy headed towards the Ukrainian border. Maliki stepping aside, the Yazidis saying no, no, no, they're still killing us, and Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams dead. You pick.

Well, when you put it like that, it seems obvious to me that the biggest news of the week was that, as the White House announced, the President and the First Lady had every dance at that swank Martha's Vineyard party they went to.

MARK STEYN: I don't know why they don't just raze the White House and turn the whole thing into a golf club for him, and put the Israeli Iron Dome over it, and then he can play in the White House grounds golf round the clock, and within his Iron Dome, and the rest of the world can go to hell.

HH: He might actually take you up on that.

Beyond the Martha's Vineyard social scene, President Obama and his advisers don't seem to grasp that nothing exists in isolation:

MS: For example, if you let these guys get a foothold in Syria, so what? Nobody cares about Syria. Okay, then they spill over the border, and suddenly, they're controlling a large chunk of Iraq. Well, you know, Iraq is like bad karma to the American left, so let's just leave that. Where's it going to be next, then? Nobody who knows anything about the Jordanian armed forces thinks that these guys are going to be able to withstand an ISIS attempt to nibble away at eastern Jordan, or anyone who knows anything about the defenses of the northern border of Saudi Arabia. And what's even more absurd is that these guys in ISIS have the best weaponry in the world.

HH: Yeah.

MS: They have American tanks. They have American guns. They have American helicopters that, again, you and I and all your listeners paid for, and we gave to these joke four divisions in Western Iraq that all ran away and left all this stuff paid for by the U.S. taxpayer for ISIS to fly around in and drive around in, and aim at our allies. And the idea that all this stuff exists in isolation... This is like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors... The more you feed it, the bigger it gets, the bigger it gets, the bigger it gets. And it's just a question of how much it can swallow before getting indigestion.

We also talked about the seven-year-old Aussie boy brandishing the severed head his dad gave him to play with, and I talked about how the left had moved beyond homophobia and Islamophobia and was concerned now not to appear headchopperphobic.

Oh, and Hugh found time to ask me about the latest developments in climate mullah Michael E Mann's suit against me:

MS: He says that everyone who supports me is a notorious right-wing climate denier funded by the Koch Brothers. Well, that group is getting rather larger this week. Briefs filed against Michael Mann with the D.C. Court of Appeals, they included the ACLU, they included the Washington Post, they included the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. They included all kinds of groups who recognize that Michael Mann's attempt to sue people out of the public debate is actually, would actually gut the 1st Amendment, and deprive it of any real meaning... One result of all these interventions by the ACLU is that in the event that we were to lose eventually in the District of Columbia, I think this thing will be going all the way to the Supreme Court...

HH: Those doggone Koch Brothers, they're taking over the ACLU. I had missed that.

You can find the full conversation with Hugh here. I appear on his show every Thursday at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

August 15, 2014 at 9:20 am  |  Permalink

One Size Fits All

There being not much happening around the world at the moment, the President played golf today at the Vineyard Golf Club:

"While eating, overlooking the golf course, guests had to stand up and be wanded." One asked if he could finish his hot soup first, and an Obama security man cracked, ominously, "So, you're not cooperating?"

Funny. Even funnier if he'd had to be "accidentally" shot while refusing to "cooperate". As the Instaprof points out:


True. But Americans have lost the republican spirit. You have to have your genitals wanded at the airport, so what's the big deal about extending it to the country club? As Professor Reynolds says:

If the President wants to go out in public, fine. If he can't do it without assaulting the rights of citizens, then he should stay home.

Couldn't they find a couple of bigtime Obama bundlers willing to pay for converting the White House and grounds into the clubhouse and course of the Barack Obama Golf Club? They don't seem to be using the building for anything else.

The problem is that flood-the-zone overkill security is all American statism knows. One day we will all be policed like Ferguson, Missouri.

~As the Duke of Wellington is said (apocryphally) to have observed of his troops, "I don't know what effect they will have on the enemy, but by God they frighten me." The Pentagon doesn't seem to have any effect on goatherds with fertilizer in the Hindu Kush or head-hackers in the Sunni Triangle, but by God it can frighten Main Street USA:

Michelle McCaskill, media relations chief at the Defense Logistics Agency, confirms that the Ferguson Police Department is part of a federal program called 1033 that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars of surplus military equipment to civilian police forces across the United States. The materials range from small items, such as pistols and automatic rifles, to heavy armored vehicles such as the MRAPs used in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For an example of how that corrupts domestic policing, look at this goon of a play-soldier arresting a Washington Post reporter in the Ferguson McDonald's.

Jim Bennett proposes a twofer:

Have the feds take back all the armored vehicles they've given to police departments and send them to the Kurds.

But they won't, will they? As I usually say around this point, where's the Republican Party on the militarization of domestic policing?

Meanwhile, Eric Holder flies his daughters and their boyfriends to social events on government planes - presumably so they're not inconvenienced by the security he imposes on everyone else.

America will not even have the consolation of dying as a First World country, but as something far bloodier and savage.

~Further to yesterday's piece on the latest turn of events in the upcoming Mann vs Steyn trial of the century, Steve McIntyre has been riffling through the amici:

I get the sense that the Washington libel community and U.S. national media have belatedly woken up to the potential threat of Mann v Steyn and that the tide is now starting to run strongly against Mann in the anti-SLAPP proceedings. The most visible evidence of this is an impressive Amici brief from the ACLU and an imposing list of 25 other media organizations...

In addition, Steyn's own Amicus brief substantially upped the ante on a separate front. It repeatedly and directly accused Mann of submitting "fraudulent" information to the court and commented adversely on "the ease with which Mann lies about things that would not withstand ten minutes of scrutiny in a courtroom".

Reuters also provides an update on the case. Alison Frankel reports:

A broad array of civil liberties groups from the right and the left, along with two dozen media companies and journalism organizations, has turned out to back National Review and CEI, arguing that free speech will be endangered if defendants can't dispose of libel suits via anti-SLAPP motions. They also argue that the National Review and CEI attacks on Mann were opinions about matters of public importance – precisely the speech that anti-SLAPP laws are intended to protect. The list of amici, whose briefs are all available at CEI's website, includes such unlikely bedfellows as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Goldwater Institute; the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Individual Rights Foundation; the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the religious rights group Alliance Defending Freedom.

What they all have in common, according to their briefs, is an interest in protecting the First Amendment's guarantee of free public discourse. No matter how nastily National Review and CEI wrote about Mann, the defense amici argue, the lower courts were wrong to deny their anti-SLAPP motions to dismiss. The appeals court, they say, should accept its jurisdiction and reverse the erroneous rulings.

I'll comment on the various amici later this week, but I found this passage in Ms Frankel's report interesting:

Mann's lawyer Catherine Reilly of Cozen told me her team wasn't surprised by the amici support for National Review and CEI... I asked Reilly if the professor would have any supporting briefs next month when he responds to the defendants in the D.C. appeals court.

"At this point, we don't know," she said.

I would be surprised if Mann didn't have any supporting briefs. I was in court when Ms Reilly's genial co-counsel made his argument for Mann, which was a straightforward appeal to authority: Why, all these eminent acronymic bodies, from the EPA and NSF and NOAA even unto HMG in London, have proved that all criticisms of Mann are false and without merit. So I would certainly expect them to file briefs - and, given that Mann sees this as part of a broader "war on science" by well-funded "deniers", I would also expect briefs from the various professional bodies: the National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, etc. As pleasant as it is to find my side of the court suddenly so crowded, I'm confident Mann will be able to even up the numbers.

~Many years ago, I found myself sitting on a sofa between Lauren Bacall and Ali McGraw. It was one of those nights: JFK Jr was there, and Anthony Newley. Down my end of the sofa, Miss McGraw was rather delightful company, Miss Bacall not quite so much. I don't hold that against her: she had a reputation for prickliness, which I would have enjoyed seeing (with my late Telegraph colleague Martyn Harris, she escalated very quickly to "Now listen, buster..."), and in fairness she had a lot to be prickly about - like doing a joint press conference with Nicole Kidman, and only getting one question directed her way. Life didn't seem to offer sufficient compensation for spending decades dragging around the sagging mantle of "silver-screen legend".

But oh, what a debut. I watch To Have And Have Not every couple of years for pure pleasure. The you-know-how-to-whistle scene is great, but this is my personal favorite moment, with Hoagy Carmichael at the piano. There's a persistent rumor that a young Andy Williams dubbed the teenage newcomer's singing voice. So I asked Andy about it back in the Eighties. He said, "No, that's Bacall singing." A great song by Carmichael and Johnny Mercer:

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

August 14, 2014 at 12:09 am  |  Permalink

Meet the Jetstones

Further to yesterday's SteynPost on the Aussie schoolboy and the severed head he's holding, Sydney's Daily Telegraph calls out Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on his bizarre warning that Australians think twice before "using" that image.

The reason Mr Shorten feels he has to threaten his fellow citizens is because of the profound challenge that photograph poses to the multiculti delusions in which he and many others are so invested.

~On a related matter, Hawaii reader Gregory Hart writes:

I was watching a video of the August 8, 2014 New York Times interview of President Obama by Thomas L. Friedman when I experienced such a sense of deja vu (sorry, can't find the correct accent marks on this keyboard) that I thought I was experiencing a temporal lobe seizure. At approximately the 50:20 mark of the interview (I'll mercifully spare you from having to watch the whole interview), President Obama was lamenting the sad state of America's infrastructure and as an example compared it unfavorably to Singapore's airport. Like a trained seal, Friedman trumpeted out: "Like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones!"

Even by the standards of us columnists, Thomas L Friedman is a lazy old tosser. Even when he's interviewing the President of the United States, Friedman can't get beyond Jetsons and Flintstones. Here's page 313 of my New York Times bestseller After America (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, etc):

In the early years of the century, in many columns filed from the VIP lounges of the world's airports, Thomas L Friedman, the in-house "thinker" at The New York Times, had an analogy to which he was especially partial. From December 2008:

'Landing at Kennedy Airport from Hong Kong was, as I've argued before, like going from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.'

And it wasn't just space-age Hong Kong! From May 2008:

'In JFK's waiting lounge we could barely find a place to sit. Eighteen hours later, we landed at Singapore's ultramodern airport, with free Internet portals and children's play zones throughout. We felt, as we have before, like we had just flown from the Flintstones to the Jetsons.'

And it wasn't just stone-age JFK! From 2007:

'Fly from Zurich's ultramodern airport to La Guardia's dump. It is like flying from the Jetsons to the Flintstones.'

I gather that "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons" were two popular TV cartoon series of the mid-twentieth century. If you still have difficulty grasping Mr Friedman's point, here he is in 2010, bemoaning the "faded, cramped domestic terminal" in Los Angeles, yet another example of America's, er, terminal decline:

'Businesses prefer to invest with the Jetsons more than the Flintstones.'

More fool them... You'd have made a ton more money if you'd invested in "The Flintstones", which was a classic, instead of "The Jetsons", which was a stale knock-off with the veneer of modernity. But, if you were as invested in this theory of terminal decline as Friedman was, it would have helped to think it through a little. Here's one more from The New York Times' cartoon thinker, from January 2002, when Americans were, for once, the Jetsons:

'For all the talk about the vaunted Afghan fighters, this was a war between the Jetsons and the Flintstones - and the Jetsons won and the Flintstones know it.'

But they didn't, did they?

Friedman is the senior foreign-affairs voice at America's most influential newspaper, and he can't let go, as the years roll by, of a childish and inadequate analogy. What if the world isn't as simple or simple-minded as Friedman thinks? What if it's possible to have a foot in both camps - to have a stone-age sensibility with jet-age gizmos? To be, so to speak, a Jetstone.

That's what Isis and its cellphone jihadists represent. They've mastered the veneer of a Jetson society - "That's my boy!", as the proud father of the head-holding young tyke Tweeted - but underneath is a primal, unyielding, flinty Flintstone stoniness.

~On the same theme, last night, in a strange intersection of the day's top stories, Isis supporters began Tweeting about their fondness for Robin Williams movies. Ibn Fulaan:

Shame. I liked Jumanji.

Abdullah, who has the Twitter handle @mujahid4life, responded:

Good movie. Loved it as a kid.

When non-jihadists expressed bewilderment at this enthusiasm for Jumanji, Omar Shishani replied:

We are humans like u... Why we shouldnt see movie?!

Mr Shishani is right. It's perfectly possible to find Robin Williams funny and still want to saw your head off. It's always been like that: Saddam Hussein liked Frank Sinatra LPs and English "Quality Street" toffees. Hitler's favorite operetta - The Merry Widow - was the Cats of its day in London and New York, complete with merchandising boom.

Patsies like Bill Shorten think "assimilation" is about wearing baseball caps and listening to the same crappy pop songs as everybody else. It's not. It's not enough, and it never has been. A Robin Williams fan interrupting his decapitation of an Iraqi Christian to reminisce about Jumanji is both a tribute to pop-cultural imperialism and a reminder of its limitations.

~Other than that, I don't have much to say about Robin Williams that hasn't been said better elsewhere. The manner of his death is too sad, and it colors for me the celebrations of his life - because it seems clear that, to one degree or another, what people loved about him is also, ultimately, what drove him to do what he did. Minnie Driver, a fine actress, issued a tribute recalling a lunch break during the filming of Good Will Hunting:

"We sat around on the grass eating sandwiches," Driver said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "What began as a riff on something or other to make us and the crew laugh suddenly extended to office workers out on their lunch break, enjoying the sunshine, and pretty soon he stood up and his big beautiful voice, full of laughter, reached out to the people who were now hurrying down from the street and across the park to catch his impromptu stand-up. "There must have been 200 people listening and laughing by the time lunch was over. I just remember how broadly he smiled, patted me on the shoulder and said, 'There, now that was GOOD.'"

I know she means this to sound heartwarming and affectionate, but to me it rang rather bleak and empty: a man who seems to exist only when performing - even on a sandwich break. Very few friends and co-stars seem to have known that other Williams, the one alone on Sunday night, with no one to perform to.

Rest in peace. And so too Lauren Bacall.

August 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm  |  Permalink

Chip Off the Old Block

Do you remember a mere three years ago when the gullible sob-sisters of the western media declared the Arab Spring "the Facebook revolution"?

It wasn't, of course. But what's going on right now in the Iraqi and Syrian territory held by the new Caliphate is the real Facebook revolution, and Twitter revolution, and Tumblr revolution, and YouTube revolution. These guys love social media. They can't wait to chop your head off and then zip the video footage all around the world. In the old days, when you decapitated somebody, the best you could do was stick his head on a spike on the edge of the village, and hope for good word of mouth from those terrified locals with an eye for the telling detail. Now you can saw through somebody's neck or stone a woman to death in the Sunni Triangle and, thanks to your Verizon or O2 account, your friends back in London or Frankfurt or Chicago can see it instantly!

America Alone (personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available, etc, etc, he pleads with an eye to his upcoming trial of the century) has a chapter on what I call "The State-of-the-Art Primitive" - the many young men in the world at ease with both new technology and old-school decapitation, at the intersection of which "the dark imponderables of the future lie".

Consider, for example, the photograph above. It's a Tweet from Syria reprinted in The Australian, and neatly sums up the dead end of diversity:

Khaled Sharrouf's son, a child raised in the suburbs of Sydney, struggles with both arms to hold up the decapitated head of a slain Syrian soldier.

He is a seven-year old boy, Australian born and bred. But he's proudly holding up the latest severed head in his dad's collection. "Diversity is our strength", as they say. A family that raises their seven-year-old to participate in the decapitation celebrations certainly adds to the diversity of the Sydney suburbs. Whether it adds to their "strength" is another matter.

That's why the photograph and the original Tweet matter: They reduce to rubble the central delusion of the multicultists - that progress is all one way, and that the high-tech baubles of the modern secular state are so seductive no one can resist them. Isis have transformed social media into anti-social media. To the pouty-faced passivity of presidential hashtags, these guys scoff, "Ha! You don't know how to use the Internet..."

If you think the picture's appalling, consider the Australian establishment's reaction. Could you turn Khaled Sharrouf's son into a functioning Australian citizen? Maybe. In theory. But, in practice, no - not if the limp-wristed hand-wringing of the deluded multicultists is any indication. Tim Blair has a helpful round-up. First, the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Bill Shorten, who thinks it's a parenting issue:

"As a parent, I have no idea how you could ever let your child be in that situation. I think that's shocking," the Opposition Leader said.

Perhaps we need some sort of federal parenting class, in which prospective parents have to pick the age-appropriate toy for their infant to play with:

a) severed head of Assad supporter;
b) severed head of Mosul Christian;
c) severed head of Kurdish Yazidi;
d) bloody pulped remains of post-stoning Ramadi adulteress;
e) Tickle-Me Elmo.

Mr Shorten also cautions against attaching any particular significance to that photograph:

"I would be careful about using that shocking image, that shocking evil image, and trying to use it for purposes which it shouldn't be used for."

In other words, now that the Australian Government has caved in on its Section 18C promise, if you know what's best for you, you'll think twice before suggesting seven-year-old Aussie citizens waving around severed heads might be indicative of broader, er, assimilation issues within, ah, certain communities, or anything like that.

Mr Shorten's fellow Labor Member of Parliament, Andrew Leigh, feels just shushing up isn't enough:

"We need to celebrate the Australian Muslim community to recognise that there are many peoples of different faiths in the world and extremism comes in all sorts of guises. The Oklahoma bombing was carried out by a Christian."

It's a shame the Aussie expression "cultural cringe" is already taken because nobody cringes culturally like a jelly-spined western squish before Islam. But, if we "need" to celebrate the Australian Muslim community, how about a rousing performance of one of the old traditional community folk songs?

There was a wild colonial boy
Khaled Sharrouf was his dad
He was born and raised in New South Wales
Till he flew off for jihad...

As for the Oklahoma bombing being "carried out by a Christian"*, I'll let the Great Blair handle this one:

Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people in 1995. Get back to us, Andrew, when you've added up all the deaths due to Islamic extremism since then.

Isis effortlessly topped McVeigh's body count with just one mass grave in a town Andrew Leigh's never heard of. That's cultural cringing, too: At a time when Christians are being slaughtered in Iraq and their churches and shrines razed to the ground, Andrew Leigh feels the need to turn the clock back 20 years so he can indict Christianity.

Finally, Tim Blair cites Defence Minister David Johnston:

"One of the things that I must stress here is this is an extreme minority in Muslims in Australia and around the world. The vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving and peaceful people," Senator Johnston said.

Maybe. But "moderate Muslims" are more accurately characterized as quiescent Muslims: they've no desire to pull their own seven-year-old out of school for vacation jihad, but nor are they prepared to stand up within their own communities. What matters in any society is who makes the noise, who makes the running. Let us turn from the diversity of the Sydney suburbs to the diversity of London's East End, where the black flag of Isis has been flying over the Will Crooks Estate in Tower Hamlets. Express photographer Ted Jeory went to snap a picture of it and was told, "F**k off, Jew!" Mr Jeory is not a Jew. His wife is a Bengali Muslim and on the question of the moment - Gaza - Mr Jeory appears to take pretty much the same side as the excitable lads who surrounded him. Nevertheless, he has a prominent nose, so close enough: "F**k off, Jew!"

These guys do not want to go head-hacking in the Sunni Triangle. Well, most of them. Probably. But they share the head-hackers' goal and are in the same business - of seizing land in the cause of Islamic imperialism. When they meet "the other" - Jew, Christian, Yazidi, man with large nose - one group wants to chop his head off, the other wants him to f**k off. But these are merely different points on the same continuum, and both ultimately lead to the same place: a land without Jews, Christians, Yazidi, gays, uncovered women...

Let us consider a third faction. Baroness Warsi resigned last week from David Cameron's ministry. She was a rising star of the new post-Thatcher Tory Party - a young female Muslim - but she decided to quit over Gaza. Lady Warsi has no desire to go decapitating in Syria nor to yell "F**k off, Jew!" at big-nosed men in Tower Hamlets. But she says her party needs to acknowledge "electoral reality":

David Cameron will fail to win a majority at the next election because he has not done enough to woo minority ethnic voters, former cabinet minister Sayeeda Warsi has warned.

Lady Warsi – who unexpectedly resigned last week over the government's "morally indefensible" policy on Gaza – said her party is ignoring "electoral reality" by relying on white voters... "We have to appeal to all of Britain, not just because it's morally the right thing to do … but because it is an electoral reality."

She's right. In a democracy, you can't buck "electoral reality". In five years' time, there will be more young men in Tower Hamlets who think like that "F**k off, Jew!" mob, and more well-connected imams in Sydney whose only problem with that head-swinging seven-year-old boy is that he risks attracting too much attention to their "community". And there will be more people like those feeble Aussie politicians - too cowed to address honestly what's happening. In other words, absent serious assimilationist pressures the likes of Lady Warsi and Bill Shorten are disinclined to bring to bear, Britons and Australians will lose their country.

What was the name of that estate? "The Will Crooks Estate"? Oh, my. Will Crooks was one of the first Labour Members of Parliament (the fourth, if memory serves). He disliked the influx of Jews fleeing Tsarist Russia for the East End, and was a keen supporter of the 1905 Aliens Act, one of the British Empire's first serious prohibitions on mass immigration.

Nine decades after his death, he would be relieved to find that there are virtually no Jews to be found in Tower Hamlets.

On the other hand, he wouldn't recognize the place.

If it's any consolation, one day, soon, his name will no longer be on that estate. "The Khaled Sharrouf Estate" has kind of a ring to it.

*UPDATE: Several readers are irked that I didn't point out McVeigh was no kind of Christian, observant or residual or lapsed or anything else. I didn't do so, because I said as much at the time and have no desire to spend the rest of my life saying the same thing over and over while dingbats like Andrew Leigh say "Nya-nya, can't hear you" as they drive western civilization over the cliff. McVeigh had no Christian faith, and no connection with the church except that, in his childhood, his dad ran bingo nights in the church hall. In fact, after his service in the US Army, McVeigh became somewhat Islamophile. As I wrote in Britain's Sunday Telegraph on May 6th 2001:

He quit the Army with a Bronze Star, combat medal and a slew of other honours. And the only job anyone wanted him for was the minimum-wage security-guard gig he'd had before he enlisted. But travel had broadened his mind: the "Iraqi suffering" he'd witnessed made him think the government for which he soldiered was a global bully...

In that sense, he'd have quite a lot in common with Khaled Sharrouf.

~I'm sorry our weekly mailbox feature has been on hiatus these last couple of weeks. We've all been tied up with legal matters and trial preparation. However, I promise it will return this weekend. Thanks for your patience.

August 11, 2014 at 7:47 pm  |  Permalink

Follow Mark

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List











© 2014 Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc. All rights reserved.
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of Mark Steyn Enterprises.