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Mark Steyn

The Man Who Never Calls

There was an odd moment during Tuesday's White House press briefing when Ed Henry of Fox News noted that the President was spending three out of five days this week fundraising for his party, and wondered, in effect, whether he still did any work. Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded:

Well, I will hazard a guess that a significant portion of the President's time each of those days will be dedicated to participating in the presidential daily briefing, getting updates from his national security team about the situation on the ground, making phone calls to world leaders, consulting with his national security officials who are traveling across the world...

Well, I will "hazard a guess" that he's actually making very few "phone calls to world leaders". Bush may have been loathed by large numbers of Europeans and Arabs, but he had very cordial relationships with their leaders, from Blair and Merkel to the brace of Abdullahs in Jordan and Saudi. Obama's too cool to work the phones. Which helps explain that photograph at right. With regard to what's happening in Gaza, the US president has no relationships with anybody in the region who matters. To define American "allies" as broadly as possible, name one who has any reason to trust Obama or his emissaries. In Cairo, General Sisi regards Obama as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer; in Riyadh, King Abdullah regards him as the enabler of the Shia Persian nuclear program; and in Amman, the other King Abdullah regards him as the feckless bungler who's left the Jordanians with the world's wealthest terrorist group on their eastern border.

Shuttle diplomacy, of the kind the vainglorious Kerry is attempting, only works if you already have a relationship. You can't start trying to build one after the shooting's started. And in this case the regional leaders' crude self-interest outweighs whatever value they might place on staying on the right side of President Fundraiser and the Secretary Windsurfer. General Sisi wants to destroy the Brotherhood in Egypt, to which Hamas has significant ties. The Saudis are Israel's new best friend and see them as their last chance to scuttle Iran's nuclear ambitions. So we are in a bizarre situation where the Arab leaders are more hostile to Hamas than Washington is.

I'm often asked why I don't write more about the Palestinian situation, and the reason I don't is because the central fact of the dispute - the Palestinians' Jew hatred - never changes. So I said what I had to say about it many years ago, and there's very little to add. For example, in The National Post on April 18th 2002 I quoted an old Colonial Office hand:

"All British officials tend to become pro-Arab, or, perhaps, more accurately anti-Jew," wrote Sir John Hope-Simpson in the 1920s wrapping up a stint in the British Mandate of Palestine. "Personally, I can quite well understand this trait. The helplessness of the fellah appeals to the British official. The offensive assertion of the Jewish immigrant is, on the other hand, repellent." Progressive humanitarianism, as much as old-school colonialism, prefers its clientele "helpless," and, despite Iranian weaponry and Iraqi money and the human sacrifice of its schoolchildren, the Palestinians have been masters at selling their "helplessness" to the West.

In Europe, colonialism may be over, but colonialist condescension endures as progressive activism, and the Palestinians are the perfect cause. Everywhere else, from Nigeria to Nauru, at some point the natives say to the paternalist Europeans, "Thanks very much, but we'll take it from here." But the Palestinians? Can you think of any other "people" who'd be content to live as UN "refugees" for four generations? They're the only "people" with their own dedicated UN agency, and its regime has lasted almost three times as long as Britain's Palestine mandate did. To quote again from that 2002 Post column:

This is only the most extreme example of how the less sense the Arabs make the more the debate is framed in their terms. For all the tedious bleating of the Euroninnies, what Israel is doing is perfectly legal. Even if you sincerely believe that "Chairman" Arafat is entirely blameless when it comes to the suicide bombers, when a neighbouring jurisdiction is the base for hostile incursions, a sovereign state has the right of hot pursuit. Britain has certainly availed herself of this internationally recognized principle: In the 19th century, when the Fenians launched raids on Canada from upstate New York, the British thought nothing of infringing American sovereignty to hit back -- and Washington accepted they were entitled to do so. But the rights every other sovereign state takes for granted are denied to Israel. "The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews," wrote America's great longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer after the 1967 war. "Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem ... But everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab ... Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace. Everyone expects the Jews to be the only real Christians in this world."

Thus, the massive population displacements in Europe at the end of the Second World War are forever, but those in Palestine a mere three years later must be corrected and reversed. On the Continent, losing wars comes with a territorial price: The Germans aren't going to be back in Danzig any time soon. But, in the Middle East, no matter how often the Arabs attack Israel and lose, their claims to their lost territory manage to be both inviolable but endlessly transferable.

And so land won in battle from Jordan and Egypt somehow has to be ceded to Fatah and Hamas.

As I said, this is all the stuff that never changes, and the likelihood that it will change lessens with every passing half-decade. I wrote the above column at the time Jenin and the other Palestinian "refugee camps" were celebrating their Golden Jubilee. That's to say, the "UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees" is older than most African, Caribbean or Pacific states. What sort of human capital do you wind up with after four generations have been born as "refugees"? If you've ever met a charming, urbane Palestinian doctor or lawyer in London or Paris, you'll know that anyone who isn't a total idiot - ie, the kind of people you need to build a nation - got out long ago. The nominal control of the land has passed from Jordan and Egypt to Israel to Arafat to Abbas to Hamas, but the UNRWA is forever, runnning its Mister Magoo ground operation and, during the periodic flare-ups, issuing its usual befuddled statements professing complete shock at discovering that Hamas is operating rocket launchers from the local kindergarten.

But, like I said, that's all the stuff that never changes, decade in, decade out. The problem this time round is that everything else in the region is changing. Jordan's population has swollen by 25 per cent, refugees from the Syrian civil war. Does anyone seriously think the UN has plans to set up a refugee agency to minister to them until the year 2090 and beyond? ISIS have destroyed the Christian churches in Mosul and chased the entire Christian community out of town. Does anyone seriously think the Europeans will be championing Iraqi Christians' "right of return" for the next three-quarters of a century?

ISIS is doing what winners do in war: It's shaping the facts on the ground. It wants no Christians in Iraq, and it's getting on with it. General Sisi wants to kill the Muslim Brotherhood: He's getting on with it. The wilier Brothers have slipped over into a collapsing Libya to make common cause with various al-Qaeda affiliates, as the Libyan state implodes: Its would-be successors are getting on with it. In the new Middle East, everyone and his uncle has an Obama-Clinton "Reset" button and they've pressed it.

But they're not Jews. So nobody minds, and no preening Botoxicated buffoon of an American emissary comes to lecture them.

Kerry, as Obama's plenipotentiary, is a paradox - the physical presence of a geopolitical absence:

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away...

Thus John Kerry, in Jerusalem and Cairo and beyond.

July 24, 2014 at 2:07 am  |  Permalink

Exchange You Can Believe In

Just because American influence has vanished abroad and American sovereignty has been surrendered at the southern border doesn't mean that back in Washington all the old Obama scandals aren't still rumbling on, delightfully unspoilt by progress.

For example, the latest Obamacare exemption has just been proclaimed by King Barack's Lord Privy Seal of Approval: Residents of American territories (Guam, the US Virgin Islands, etc) have been graciously released by His Majesty from compliance with the law. That's another four-and-a-half million or so people in the express lane to Exemptistan. I was just getting up to speed on this when the latest court decision on Obamacare came down. And I was just getting up to speed on that when another Obamacare decision came down.

Earlier today the District of Columbia Circuit Court announced that the federal health-care "exchange" was illegal on the grounds that Congress had only legislated for state health-care "exchanges". For non-American readers, I suppose I should make an effort at explaining what an "exchange" is, but Lord Almighty, it's a pain. A year ago, "exchange" was something to do with stocks or taking that purple sweater back to the store after Christmas. But by the fall it was the latest exciting jargon-barnacle to encrust to the hulk of American health care: "co-pay", "HSA", "Cobra", "donut hole", etc, etc - and now "exchange". Here's how the District of Columbia Circuit Court explains it:

Section 36B of the Internal Revenue Code, enacted as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA or the Act), makes tax credits available as a form of subsidy to individuals who purchase health insurance through marketplaces—known as "American Health Benefit Exchanges," or "Exchanges" for short—that are "established by the State under section 1311" of the Act. 26 U.S.C. § 36B(c)(2)(A)(i). On its face, this provision authorizes tax credits for insurance purchased on an Exchange established by one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. See 42 U.S.C. § 18024(d).

The idea was that you'd go to your state "exchange", sign up for Obamacare, and avail yourself of the generously subsidized health insurance. Unfortunately, most states declined to create exchanges, so the federal government set up one of its own, which, in Obamacare terms, is where the main action is.

That's the first problem. The law makes no provision for the federal government to do any such thing. So the DC Circuit Court, taking the language "established by the State" to mean what it says, struck down the federal exchange. Which means that Americans in 36 states will be losing their subsidies.

Or not. The White House immediately announced that, while it's always fascinating to hear what these fellows in black robes have to say, they're going to carry on full steam doing what they want. King Barack's press secretary Josh Earnest:

You don't need a fancy legal degree to understand that Congress intended for every eligible American to have access to health care credits.

No, sir. And you don't need no fancy judgin' diploma to decide what laws mean and which ones you're gonna follow. "How many divisions has the Pope?" sneered Stalin. "How many divisions has the DC Circuit Court?" sneers Obama.

Be that as it may, a couple of hours later Mr Earnest got a bit of jurisprudential support for his position. The Fourth Circuit also ruled on the question of the federal exchange subsidies, and reached the opposite conclusion of the DC Circuit. It decided that the phrase "established by the State" was "ambiguous". The word "State" might mean "state" in the sense of New Hampshire or Idaho, or it might mean "state of mind", as in whatever King Barack happens to be in favor of on a Tuesday morning. Whatever.

Under the two-step "Chevron" formula, if you find the language "ambiguous", you then move to the second stage and defer to the administrative agency unless its interpretation is totally loony. In this case, the agency the Fourth Circuit is deferring to is the IRS, which is currently explaining with a straight face that not only was Lois Lerner's hard drive destroyed but all her friends she's been emailing with also had their hard drives crash and then recycled. Including her tech guy. What are the odds? At any rate, the Fourth Circuit decided to stand on the principle of general deference to an administrative agency of impeccable integrity and unimpeachable ethics.

How to explain these two different Circuit Court decisions? Are they from different ends of the country and thus perhaps different legal cultures? Why, yes. The DC Circuit is in the District of Columbia, and the Fourth Circuit is way over the fruited plain in Virginia and Maryland.

So now the question may go to the full panel of the DC Circuit, which Harry Reid's post-nuclear Senate has stacked with favorably disposed Democrats. Or it may go to the Supreme Court, and we'll all get to watch John Roberts twist himself into a pretzel all over again. One thing's clear: without the federal exchange, Obamacare as we know it is dead. On the other hand, it's entirely unclear whether whatever replaces it will be better or worse or just more complicated and expensive and tortured, which is generally the way to bet with 21st century American government.

As to Mr Earnest's point on "what Congress intended", who can say? No Congressman who voted for the bill read it. Presumably, some legislator's staffer wrote that actual line about "established by the State". If we could locate him among the vast entourages of the Emirs of Incumbistan, we could ask him what his "intention" was. Until then, calibrating the competing degrees of deference to a corrupt bureaucracy, a contemptuous executive, a politicized judiciary and a feckless hack legislature brings to mind Samuel Johnson's line about arguing the precedence of a louse and a flea, with a tick and a cockroach thrown in.

I have a slender connection to these Circuit cases in that the plaintiffs were represented by Michael Carvin, counsel for National Review, my co-defendants in the Mann vs Steyn et al upcoming trial of the century, and amicus briefs were filed by Andrew Grossman, counsel for my other co-defendants Rand Simberg and Competitive Enterprise Institute. Small world, eh? And I confess a sneaking admiration for the strategy here. Obama is re-legislating his monstrous affront to "law" on a piecemeal basis, so, if you're an Obamacare opponent, why not adopt the same technique and pick away at it piecemeal? If he stays Paragraph 873(b), you sue over 928(f). If he exempts small businesses in Guam from 1,349(h), you go to court over faith-based non-profit spousal coverage in 2,651(l). On the eve of the centenary of the Great War, we're re-enacting it in the hellish trenches of Obama's Great Law.

In March 2010, almost four-and-a-half years ago, when the Democrats were attempting to pass Obamacare by the parliamentary legerdemain of "deeming" an unpassed bill to have passed, I wrote:

Whatever is "deemed" to have passed in the next few days doesn't end the debate but begins it. If you're sick of talking about health care, move to Tahiti, because in the U.S. we're going to be talking about it until the end of time, or at least until the Iranians nuke Cleveland.

And so it has proved - in part because in a post-constitutional, post-legal America the law of the land is whatever King Barack "deems" it to be. Welcome to the American Deem. "Health care reform" reform, now and forever.

July 22, 2014 at 10:13 pm  |  Permalink

Fields of Blood

The two big international headlines of the moment are the downing of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine and Israel's incursion into Gaza. On the face of it, these two stories don't have much in common, but they are in fact part of the same story. To know Israel it helps to know Ukraine, and to know Ukraine it helps to know Israel.

~This weekend marks the 70th anniversary of the day the Soviets re-took the city of Lviv (or Lvov, according to taste) in the western Ukraine, and ended a three-year German occupation. Before the Germans arrived, there were well over 100,000 Jews in the city and just shy of 50 synagogues. On July 26th 1944, when the Soviets returned, there were a couple of hundred Jews left.

Lviv, Lvov, Lemberg had been, variously, Polish, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Habsburg, Soviet - but always, across the centuries, Jewish. All gone.

Same with any number of Ukrainian cities. Chernivtsi, or Czernowitz, was once known as "Jerusalem on the Prut". There were 50,000 Jews out of a population of approximately 100,000, and they dominated the city's commercial life. "There is not a shop that has not a Jewish name painted above its windows," wrote Sir Sacheverell Sitwell in 1937, when it was part of the Kingdom of Roumania ."The entire commerce of the place is in the hands of the Jews. Yiddish is spoken here more than German." Not anymore. Today, the city's population is over a quarter of a million, but only 2,000 are Jews.

There are cities like Lviv or Chernivtsi all over the world, where within living memory the streets were full of Jews - people went to school with Jews, lived next door to Jews, accompanied their mothers as they shopped from Jews. And now there are no Jews. In his what-if? novel Fatherland, Robert Harris captures very well the silence that settles in such communities: no one ever asks, "Do you remember the such-and-such family across the street?" - or what happened to them. Just as, a few years hence, everyone in Sarcelles will agree not to ask "Whatever happened to that pharmacy?"

Which brings us to the tiny Jewish state built in a sliver of a minority of the total land of the British Mandate of Palestine. Israel is dedicated to the proposition that there should be one place on earth where what happened to the Jews in Lviv and Chernivtsi and Baghdad (once the second largest Jewish city in the world) and Tripoli (which was once 40 per cent Jewish) and all over the map will not happen here.

Hamas, by contrast, is committed to the proposition that what happened to the Jews of Lviv should happen here, too.

~But it works the other way round: to know the Ukraine it helps to know Israel. The least worst explanation for what happened to MH17 is that "pro-Russian separatists" mistook it for a Ukrainian military transport and blew it out of the sky: A horrible accident in the fog of war. If that was the agreed storyline, you'd be anxious to make yourself respectable again in the eyes of the world as quickly as possible: You'd seal off the crash site until the international investigators and representatives of the governments who'd lost citizens could get there and retrieve the black boxes and recover the bodies. Instead, as I discussed on Rush on Friday, the "separatists" immediately refused to allow anybody near the site and began looting and defiling the bodies, stealing cash and credit cards and trophies and leaving what's left decomposing out in a field for anyone with a cellphone to shoot souvenir snaps of. As Greg Gutfeld says, "That field is no longer a war zone. It is an international crime scene."

Why? Why would you do this? Why, having "accidentally" shot down a passenger jet, would you then deliberately desecrate and dishonor the dead?

Well, here's Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, in his first international interview since the atrocity:

Those armed in eastern Ukraine should not be referred to as "separatists," he insisted. "There are no separatists there. They are terrorists."

He's right. The word "separatists" conjures something like the Parti Québécois or East Timor or southern Sudan. But these guys have no interest in running a state. They're Putin's goons acting on direct orders from Moscow: It was, for example, almost certainly a Russian dispatched by the Kremlin who actually shot down the Malaysian jet since firing these missiles requires a degree of skill the locals don't have. The purpose of this "separatist" movement is not to build a country but to use the territory they hold to harass and terrorize and weaken the Ukrainian state.

Now who does that sound like? The "Palestinian Authority" is not a fully sovereign nation but it holds roughly the powers the Irish Free State had in 1922. Many aspects of that settlement were obnoxious to southern Ireland's "separatists" - the oath of allegiance to the King, the viceroy, their status as British subjects, the Royal Navy ports - but they nevertheless got on with building an Irish nation. Which is to say, boring stuff like fiscal policy and the education ministry and the department of public works.

Nobody in the "government" of Gaza wants to do that. They were left a lot of great infrastructure and viable businesses when the Israelis withdrew - and they let it all die. They were bequeathed 3,000 greenhouses that grew flowers and fruit for export - and they demolished them. Oh, sure, there's still work to be found in Gaza: They're big customers of construction materials, but they don't use them to build factories or schools or tourist hotels, only a network of state-of-the-art concrete tunnels under the border with Israel, so they can sneak in and kill Jews. In the Sixties and Seventies, many anti-colonial movements used terrorism to advance their nationalist goals. Hamas uses nationalism to advance its terrorist goals.

Likewise, the forces Putin has loosed in eastern Ukraine: They're a terrorist movement masquerading as "separatists". And Putin is to these guys as Iran is to Hamas. That's to say, he could make the desecration of the MH17 site end - with one phone call.

And yet he chose not to. Because whatever misgivings he had about what his killers had done were quickly allayed by the feeble passivity of Obama's response, and the mulligans and do-overs President Fundraiser has had to take in the days since. On Friday, Obama was all about "internationalizing" the situation - an "Asian plane" had come down on "European soil" - ie, it's the world's problem. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the dead are citizens of the core west - 154 Dutch, 27 Australians, plus British, German, Canadian, American. Were Obama willing to accept the role, he would have spoken to Putin as "the leader of the free world" and said that, having conferred with the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, the United Kingdom, etc, he wanted to let him know an investigatory team representing the countries of those murdered was en route and expected full access to a properly preserved debris scene.

But Obama doesn't believe in "the free world" and certainly not in America as "leader" of it. And so Putin took his wretched passivity at face value, and figured there was no need to stop his ghouls from mugging the dead.

In Ukraine as in the Holy Land, civilization sits precariously on a field sodden in blood. Israel understands this. Obama and Kerry never will.

July 21, 2014 at 10:53 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, July 14-19

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

We began the week with one of the greatest love songs of all time, "The Way You Look Tonight".

~On Monday Mark reflected on the pitiful state of America's freedoms, after Eric Holder dispatched his Justice Department goons to investigate a Fourth of July float for the crime of mocking the President. "The Outhouse of American Liberty" became our most-read piece of the week, but almost as dispiriting for where we're headed is the increased criminalization of routine parenting.

~Tuesday was a grim milestone for Steyn - the second anniversary of the 270-word blog post which fake Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann decided to sue him over. For those who've missed the first year-and-three-quarters of legal folderol, we provided a précis of the story so far. Mark continues to press to get this thing to trial and Mann on the witness stand, but in the DC Superior Court the wheels of justice barely grind at all. Thanks for continuing to support his campaign for free speech against the climate mullahs via the Steyn store.

~On Wednesday Mark addressed Israel, Gaza and the deranged levels of Jew-hatred on display in Europe.

~On Thursday, that seemingly indestructible showbiz broad Elaine Stritch took her leave, and Mark recalled one of his favorite encounters with her.

~Mark ended the week sitting in for Rush on America's Number One radio show and hosting Open-Line Friday. Much of it was devoted to the downing of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine and the erasing of the southern border by the man Steyn calls the Coyote-in-Chief.

~For our Saturday movie date, Steyn marked the tenth anniversary of Michael Moore's biggest hit, Fahrenheit 9/11.

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

July 20, 2014 at 8:55 am  |  Permalink

The Coyote-in-Chief

Rush was out at a charity event today, so I had the great honor of returning to the Golden EIB Microphone to host America's Number One radio show. You'll find a few highlights here:

It's Friday here at the Rush Limbaugh Show, and I thought I'd like to keep things light, frothy, glib, shallow -- you know, like the president of the United States announcing a passenger airliner has been shot out of the air.

As it turned out, I had Barack Obama as my warm-up act: After the disaster of his Friars' Club shtick yesterday, he had another go at getting it right about 20 minutes before I came on air. So, over the three hours, we discussed the President's behavior, the Russian involvement, and much else in the day's news, including the border situation:

It's us legal immigrants who were the chumps, who bothered filling in the paperwork and paying all the fees. We're more upset about the Coyote-in-Chief erasing the southern border than most of you native guys are.

Indeed. I've suggested that we legal immigrants might take out a class action suit against the United States Government to get back all the fees plus interest and punitive damages on the grounds that, given what's happening at the southern border, clearly there is no US "immigration law" with which to comply.

That's not to say, though, that I'm not a big-hearted humanitarian softie:

While we're holding fundraisers to try and get teddy bears for all these gangbangers at the southern border, maybe it would be nice if we could also have a charity fundraising thing to try and replace Mullah Omar's cassette collection so he can still funk around in his robes to 'If you like my body and you think I'm sexy.'

I'm all heart. For more from today's Rush show, please click here.

July 18, 2014 at 7:20 pm  |  Permalink

The Nationalization of Childhood

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

Tomorrow Rush is out for the day so I'll be returning to the Golden EIB Microphone to guest-host America's Number One radio show. If you're near a receiving apparatus, I hope you'll join me for three hours of substitute-host-level Excellence in Broadcasting starting live at 12 noon Eastern. I'd imagine that the evaporation of the southern border and other aspects of America's new rule of no-law will figure in our discussions, and maybe that latest Malaysian Airlines disaster. But it's Open-Line Friday, so if you want to talk anything else feel free to dial in and speak up.

~When I was a kid and watched sci-fi movies set in a futuristic dystopia where individuals are mere chattels of an unseen all-powerful government and enduring human relationships are banned and the progeny of transient sexual encounters are the property of the state, I always found the caper less interesting than the unseen backstory: How did they get there from here? From free western societies to a bunch of glassy-eyed drones wandering around in identikit variety-show catsuits in a land where technology has advanced but liberty has retreated: how'd that happen?

Well, the current Planet of the Apes prequels have also figured out that's the most interesting part of the story. (I liked Rise of... immensely, Dawn not so much, but it would be a foolish man who would attempt to compete with Steve Sailer's brilliant analysis. If American monodailies weren't determined to die as the most boring papers in the English-speaking world, The New York Times would hire Mr Sailer as their movie critic.)

But who needs to go to the multiplex when the prequel to all those glassy-eyed serf dystopias is taking place on the news pages? Megan McArdle writes today about the spate of American mommies charged with and, indeed, jailed for leaving their pre-teen children unsupervised. For example, NBC reports from Connecticut:

Police arrived at 60 Middle Street in Bristol to find the girl alone in the car with the windows rolled up. She was alert and responsive and told officers she had asked to stay in the car while her mom ran inside, according to police.

Police said the outside temperature was about 85 degrees and the car's interior "was not excessively hot."

The girl's mother, 30-year-old Christina Williams, was issued a misdemeanor summons for leaving a child unsupervised in a motor vehicle.

Oh, that's terrible - the poor 14-month old toddler. Er, no. The daughter's 11 years old.

Same thing happened to me the other day. My 14-year old didn't want to come in the store, so I zipped in and left him in the car. Would I also get charged if I did that in Bristol? Or is there some age at which even Connecticutians or whatever they're called are presumed to be able to open a car door?

Megan McArdle comments:

I'm not saying that parents should take their toddlers into the wilderness and leave them there to hike their way out. What I can't understand is how our society has lost the ability to distinguish between that and letting your pre-teen hang out in the car for a half-hour or spend some time in a nearby park. As Jessica Grose says, if this had been illegal in 1972, every single mother in America would have been in jail. Yet millions upon millions of us lived to tell the tale.

By the way, on that first point, Sir Richard Branson's mum left him by the side of the road when he was four years old and told him: "It's time you became a man." Whatever reservations one has about expecting a child to be a man at the age of four, I'm not sure in societal terms the outcome is worse than letting everyone stay a child until 30.

Miss McCardle also wonders:

What is truly bizarre is that the cops cuffing these women were most likely raised with exactly the freedom they are now punishing. Do they think their parents should have been put in jail?

She's overthinking things. As Kathy Shaidle likes to say, cops are merely bureaucrats with guns. And they share the defining characteristic of the great suffocating micro-regulatory American bureaucracy of the 21st century - which is an utter lack of proportion. If bureaucrats had any kind of objection to harassing citizens for things that were perfectly legal in 1972, 90 per cent of them would be out of a job.

The more basic point here is the state's presumption that your children are yours only if you raise them in accordance with state diktats. Not so long ago we understood that kids are different, and certainly mature differently - the eight-year-old at Number 22's sensible enough to go to the store and buy penny candy on his own, but the 12-year-old at Number 24's a bit of a goofball and his folks have to keep more of an eye on him. But today the notion that Mrs Smith might know her child better than Constable Bozo is offensive to the hyper-regulatory mindset - and not seriously questioned by anybody else. Children are the property of the state and are merely outsourced to you for rearing. And, if you don't do it right, they'll re-allocate the rearing to somebody else. Look at this headline from Connecticut's biggest newspaper:

11-Year-Old Found Alone In Car In Bristol

Oh, my God! An 11-year old has been found alone! What's America coming to? Apparently it never occurred to anybody at The Courant - not "reporter" Nicholas Rondinone nor any of his editors - that the real story here is not that an 11-year old has been "found alone" but that an 11-year old being alone is now a crime in Connecticut. Incidentally, when I was eleven, I traveled every morning from a small village to go to school in a big city: I walked on my own a mile or so to a rural halt, caught a train to the terminus in the city, walked across the downtown, and then caught a bus. Not a school bus, just a regular city bus. I enjoyed it all immensely.

That's what's discouraging. As stupid and disgraceful as the Bristol Police's behavior is, they're acting out of self-interest in expanding the role of the state and the power of the class of supervisory bureaucrats. What's the excuse of Mr Rondinone and his brain-dead colleagues in going along with it?

As usual with today's depressingly compliant "citizenry", objections to the Bristol PD's actions are tentative and sotto voce. Nobody's calling for the police chief to either tear up this charge, rewrite his rule book, or get run out of office. So it seems likely that incremental state usurpation of parental judgment will continue - and that does indeed put us on the path to those glassy-eyed dehumanized sci-fi dystopias we came in with. That's how you get there from here.

Unless, of course, the Planet of the Apes crowd figure the sort of adults likely to be produced by the child-policing techniques of Bristol are too bovine to be simian, and decide to take over right now.

July 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm  |  Permalink

A Rare Point of Agreement

In recent days, Israel has been hit not only from the Gaza end of the Fatah-Hamas pantomime horse but also from Lebanon and Syria. It's under attack not merely from a terrorist squat but from two sovereign states, all of whom are clients to one degree or another of a third, Iran. Had not General Sisi overthrown Mohammed Morsi and tossed him in jail, there might have been a fourth country happy to make mischief. Meanwhile, across the Allenby Bridge in Jordan, Israel's least insane neighbor has seen its population swollen by 25 per cent from Syria refugees, and at its western frontier now borders the new caliphate of jihadist head-hackers. In the Sunni/Shia regional showdown between ISIS and Teheran's various subsidiaries, the two warring parties agree on little except that dead Jews brighten everyone's day.

Oh, well. The Middle East. It's all very complicated, isn't it? Fatah, Hamas, Hizb'Allah, the Muslim Brothers, ISIS, Alawites... Who can keep track? And why worry your pretty little head about it all when the easy and cool thing to do is blame the Jews? Brendan O'Neill writes:

Why are Western liberals always more offended by Israeli militarism than by any other kind of militarism? It's extraordinary. France can invade Mali and there won't be loud, rowdy protests by peaceniks in Paris. David Cameron, backed by a whopping 557 members of parliament, can order airstrikes on Libya and British leftists won't give over their Twitterfeeds to publishing gruesome pics of the Libyan civilians killed as a consequence. President Obama can resume his drone attacks in Pakistan, killing 13 people in one strike last month, and Washington won't be besieged by angry anti-war folk demanding 'Hands off Pakistan'. But the minute Israel fires a rocket into Gaza, the second Israeli politicians say they're at war again with Hamas, radicals in all these Western nations will take to the streets, wave hyperbolic placards, fulminate on Twitter, publish pictures of dead Palestinian children, publish the names and ages of everyone 'MURDERED BY ISRAEL', and generally scream about Israeli 'bloodletting'. (When the West bombs another country, it's 'war'; when Israel does it, it's 'bloodletting'.)

Anyone possessed of a critical faculty must at some point have wondered why there's such a double standard in relation to Israeli militarism, why missiles fired by the Jewish State are apparently more worthy of condemnation than missiles fired by Washington, London, Paris, the Turks, Assad, or just about anyone else on Earth. Parisians who have generally given a Gallic shrug as French troops have basically retaken Francophone Africa, stamping their boots everywhere from the Central African Republic to Mali to Cote d'Ivoire over the past two years, turned out in their thousands at the weekend to condemn Israeli imperialism and barbarism. Americans who didn't create much fuss last month when the Obama administration announced the resumption of its drone attacks in Pakistan gathered at the Israeli Embassy in Washington to yell about Israeli murder. (Incredibly, they did this just a day after a US drone attack, the 375th such attack in 10 years, killed at least six people in Pakistan. But hey, Obama-led militarism isn't as bad as Israeli militarism, and dead Pakistanis, unlike dead Palestinians, don't deserve to have their photos, names and ages published by the concerned liberals of Twitter.)

By the way, I'm in favor of French intervention in francophone Africa: low-key military action in support of explicit national interests outside the ineffectual transnationalist kindergarten-cop racket is something more western powers should be doing. But, that aside, Mr O'Neill is right to be struck by the unique virulence of today's "anti-Zionism" in Europe.

At one level, it's a form of displacement. Britain, France and other countries are Islamizing fast, and native hedonists and their restive Muslim populations have profound disagreements on where their societies are headed: The post-Christian Euro-left think they've built a secular society where gay marriage and gender fluidity are to be celebrated; significant percentages of young Muslims want to live under Sharia and believe apostasy should be punishable by death. Reconciling these conflicting visions will prove tricky. Yet, as with ISIS and Iran, on one issue both parties are in complete agreement. As I wrote over half-a-decade ago:

There are already many points of cultural friction—from British banks' abolition of children's "piggy banks" to the enjoining of public doughnut consumption by Brussels police during Ramadan. And yet on one issue there is remarkable comity between the aging ethnic Europeans and their young surging Muslim populations: A famous poll a couple of years back found that 59 percent of Europeans regard Israel as the greatest threat to world peace.

Ethnic Europeans and excitable young Muslims don't agree on gays or women's rights or bacon butties or clitoridectomies or Page Three girls or cousin marriage, but they do agree that, in the famous words of the late Daniel Bernard, French Ambassador to the Court of St James's, "all the current troubles of the world are because of that shitty little country Israel". The protests Mr O'Neill refers to - outside embassies in western capitals - are the house-trained end of the new Jew-hatred. Euro-lefties are playing good cop to their young Muslims' bad cop. Here's how things go down that end:

Similar incidents occurred all over Greater Paris and France at about the same time. The morning before–that is to say, on the Sabbath–a Molotov cocktail was thrown into a synagogue at Aulnay-sous-Bois, a Parisian suburb. At Asnieres, another suburb, the police said a Muslim mob of 300 gathered in front of the synagogue and shouted anti-Israel slogans for about half an hour. Smaller group of Muslim mobsters attempted to get into the Belleville synagogue, in northeastern Paris, and into the Tournelles synagogue, in the Marais district.

No less horrid were the many pro-Palestinian rallies, in Paris, Marseilles, Lille, Bordeaux, and other cities, complete with Palestinian and ISIS flags and proudly displayed fake Fajr rockets. The demonstrators–almost all of them of North African or Subsaharan African origin–shouted explicitly anti-Semitic slogans, notably "Itbah al-Yahud!" (Slaughter the Jews, in Arabic.) Any time they would spot Jewish-owned shops or professional offices they would cover the doors or windows with stickers urging, "to boycott the racist State of Israel." On Sunday, several thousands pro-Palestinian and pro-jihadist demonstrators marched for miles across the city, from the heavily Muslim Barbes neighborhood to places with large Jewish populations and many synagogues like the Bastille area. The mobsters that attacked the Don Isaac Abravanel synagogue were some of them.

It would be asking too much of the Euro-lefties to stand against this. For, if they part company with the Muslims when it comes to Israel, what else do they share? And so their facilitation of the new Jew-hatred will continue:

BERLIN (AP) — German police allowed an anti-Israel protester to climb inside a police car and shout slogans including "child murderer Israel" and "Allahu akbar!" — Arabic for "God is Great!" — through a police megaphone, a spokeswoman for Frankfurt's police said Sunday.

Police let the protester use the megaphone during a Free Gaza demonstration Saturday because he had offered to calm down a protest that had turned violent, spokeswoman Virginie Wegner told The Associated Press.

Think about what that's like for an octogenarian Jew. When you were in short pants, the mob was all around and the guy with the police megaphone was yelling, "Heil Hitler!" Now the mob's all around and the guy with the police megaphone is yelling, "Allahu Akbar!"

Scaramouche writes today:

I remember some time ago reading that something along the lines of "the Jews will never be forgiven for the Holocaust." At first, that statement seems merely perverse: after all, why would the Jews have to be forgiven for savageries inflicted on them? Morality and sanity would seem to demand that, if any forgiveness was going to go on, it would entail Jews forgiving those who participated in crimes against Jews, which were also crimes against humanity.

And yet, as we see today with Zionhass and how it is metastasizing around the globe, that first idea, that the world would withhold forgiveness to the Jews because of what was done to them, appears to be right on.

I think that might be me that Scaramouche is thinking of - back in the Telegraph a decade ago, January 25th 2005:

According to a poll by the University of Bielefeld, 62 per cent of Germans are "sick of all the harping on about German crimes against the Jews" - which is an unusually robust formulation for a multiple-choice questionnaire, but at least has the advantage of leaving us in no confusion as to how things stand in this week of pan-European Holocaust "harping on". The old joke - that the Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz - gets truer every week.

As I wrote some years ago, the principal beneficiaries of post-war "Holocaust guilt" turned out to be the Muslims. Anyone familiar with the cheerfully open prejudices of 'tween-wars Continentals knows that they would never for a moment have contemplated the rise of mosques and madrassahs in Brussels and Lyons and Frankfurt and Salzburg. But in post-war Europe the Holocaust got laid at the feet of ethnocultural nationalism, and so there were no acceptable grounds on which to object. And so, even as synagogues and kosher butchers are besieged and firebombed, the Euro-left will continue to make common cause with the Muslims in blaming the Jews.

That's why it's psychologically necessary not just to object to Israeli militarism as a decade ago they objected to Bush-Blair militarism, but to go beyond and insist that the Jews are now the Nazis. For, if one truly believes in "Never again!", then one is morally obligated to stand against the new Nazis. Someone has to be the Nazis, right? And to identify the real totalitarian threat would be asking too much. As I concluded in Commentary all those years ago:

Not long ago, I found myself watching the video of another "pro-Palestinian" protest in central London with the Metropolitan Police retreating up St. James's Street to Piccadilly in the face of a mob hurling traffic cones and jeering, "Run, run, you cowards!" and "Allahu akbar!" You would think the deluded multi-culti progressives would understand: In the end, this isn't about Gaza, this isn't about the Middle East; it's about them. It may be some consolation to an ever-lonelier Israel that, in one of history's bleaker jests, in the coming Europe the Europeans will be the new Jews.

July 16, 2014 at 2:03 pm  |  Permalink

We Are All Border States Now

President Obama took it upon himself to dissolve the southern border of the United States (it's a different matter on the 49th parallel, as Canadians or tourists bearing Kinder eggs well know). So, if there is no southern border de jure, where is it de facto? Try Massachusetts:

DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson said Monday that he's dealing with a problem in Dartmouth that shouldn't be his responsibility.

It's not a new theme for him. He's sounded the alarm about illegal immigrants before, but now he says it's getting closer and closer to home.

Illegal immigrants come across the border in the American Southwest. When they are detained, the wave of humanity has overwhelmed local capacity. The illegal immigrants are being sent all over the country, including Massachusetts.

"We're all becoming border states now... We know there are going to be more coming here from Texas. We've already got two groups coming off the planes here," Hodgson said.

More from NECN:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has admitted that since April, four planes transported undocumented immigrants to detention centers in Massachusetts.

The federal government does not bother to inform the states on whom it's dumping these "children", many with diseases unseen in decades. The President has appointed himself Coyote-in-Chief, express-tracking illegal immigrants from the shores of the Rio Grande deep into the country - until, as Sheriff Hodgson says, we are all border states. My own informal impression - going by the Spanish you hear from conversing chambermaids in hotel corridors, the names in the local paper's police blotter, the budget issues facing school boards from a sudden influx of "diversity" - is that the parallel Latino sub-culture is well-established in northern Massachusetts and quite a long way up I-87 to upstate New York. So the fast-shrinking gap between the northern border and the southern border is about two hours.

~There's quite a lot about the armies of the Undocumented in After America, personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore and go to support my pushback against the litigious climate mullah Michael E Mann, he pleads pitifully. Anyway, here's a taste from page 244:

The left was smarter than the right: The business class told itself it was importing hardworking families who just want a shot at the American Dream. But welfare mocks the Ellis Island virtues, upending them as easily as the shattered Statue of Liberty Charlton Heston stumbled across in the sands of a ruined planet. In an America with ever bigger government and ever poorer people, the dependency rationale for illegal immigration will win out over the business rationale.

I'll stand by that. These days, no First World nation needs mass immigration. But America is the only western country that actively chases away high-skilled immigrants in order to prioritize the mass importation of illegal, unskilled labor in numbers impossible to assimilate even if the multiculti crowd were minded to do so. Here's another basic rule: Culture trumps economics. From page 245 of After America:

Seventy per cent of births at the San Joaquin General Hospital in Stockton, California are the so-called "anchor babies" born to illegals. In related news, by 2010 Stockton had a deficit of $25 million. Same thing at Dallas General: Seventy per cent of newborns are "anchor babies". Seven out of ten isn't any kind of "minority"; it's the dominant culture of America's tomorrow.

By the way, for all those Chamber of Commerce Republicans, once Texas tips into the purple-state category, never mind goes full blue like Nixon and Reagan's California did in the space of little more than a generation, what conceivable electoral-college math will ever add up to a GOP President ever again?

As for "racist" Arizona, the majority of its schoolchildren are already Hispanic. So, even if you sealed the border today, the state's future is as an Hispanic society: That's a given. Maybe it'll all work out swell. The citizenry never voted for it, but they got it anyway. Because all the smart guys bemoaning the irrational bigots knew what was best for them.

~In London David Cameron shuffled his ministry today. I used to follow these things fairly closely - the to-ing and fro-ing from Downing Street, etc. But it's a bit of a shock to realize how, after 17 years of modish New Labour and whatever this crowd purport to be, I barely recognize any of the great offices of state - "Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change"? "Senior Minister of State for Faith and Communities"? "Minister for Equalities"? What do these guys do all day?

The Prime Minister helpfully Tweets:

Nick Boles is Minister of State for the Business & Education depts. Part of his brief will be equal marriage implementation. #Reshuffle

That's a job now, is it? Given the paedo-fever sweeping the land, I'm only mildly surprised Cameron hasn't appointed a Secretary of State for Paedophilia.

July 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm  |  Permalink

The Outhouse of American Liberty

Banana Republic Update! Exactly a week ago in this space, I wrote:

Speaking of lèse-majesté, even when our sovereign liege lord is not present, it is improper to disrespect him. For example, Friday's Fourth of July parade in Norfolk, Nebraska included a float with a wooden outhouse labeled "Obama Presidential Library". According to the gentlemen of the press, the float has "drawn criticism".

And we can't have that, can we?

'Norfolk City Councilman Dick Pfeil told the Omaha World-Herald that he was unhappy with the float, and he wanted to make clear the city had not approved it.'

Because nothing better exemplifies the spirit of Independence Day than having your float approved by the government.

Well, the good news is that Eric Holder's Department of Justice - that would be the same Department of Justice that supplies guns to Mexican drug gangs, and monitors the phone calls and emails of US journalists, and declines to investigate the IRS' obstruction of justice, and prosecutes states that seek to verify the immigration status of people within their borders, etc, etc - Eric Holder's Department of Justice has dispatched a crack team of agents to Nebraska to investigate said act of lèse-majesté toward King Barack:

The department sent a member of its Community Relations Service team, which gets involved in discrimination disputes, to a Thursday meeting about the issue. Also at the meeting were the NAACP, the Norfolk mayor and The Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

The Odd Fellows organized the parade. One of the floats included a zombie-like mannequin standing near an outhouse labeled "Obama Presidential Library."

The jest was well-received:

While the float did not sit well with Democrats, Liz Guthrie, a resident of Pierce, Neb., said that from her vantage point, she could hear the assembled crowd laughing and clapping as the float passed by. Guthrie took a photo of the float which has since gone viral on social media sites.

But so what if the ingrate peasants like it? You could hardly ask for a more poignant image of the grim state of American liberty in the 21st century than a Fourth of July float being investigated by the Attorney-General for mocking the President. As I usually say round about this point, George III wouldn't have done this to you. But it's true, he wouldn't.

Here's a British political cartoon from 1798 by Richard Newton, showing John Bull (the archetypal patriotic English everyman) farting in the King's face while the Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger, looks on disapprovingly:

Say what you like about George III, but he didn't demand his Attorney General, Sir John Scott, dispatch a team of investigators to harass and intimidate Mr Newton. Nor, come to that, did the reviled John Ashcroft's Department of Justice "investigate" those acclaimed novels and movies salivating about Bush's assassination.

But in America in 2014 you can't hang a sign on an outhouse door saying "Obama Presidential Library" without attracting the attention of Eric Holder's goon squad.

In National Review three years ago, I wrote about my own experience of having my jokes "investigated" by the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal:

I read The Joke, Milan Kundera's first novel, when I was a schoolboy. Bit above my level, but, even as a teenager, I liked the premise. Ludvik is a young man in post-war, newly Communist Czechoslovakia. He's a smart, witty guy, a loyal Party member with a great future ahead of him. His girlfriend, though, is a bit serious. So when she writes to him from her two-week Party training course enthusing about the early-morning calisthenics and the "healthy atmosphere," he scribbles off a droll postcard:

'Optimism is the opium of the people! A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky! Ludvik.'

A few weeks later, he's called before a committee of the District Party Secretariat. He tries to explain he was making a joke. Immediately they remove him from his position at the Students Union; then they expel him from the Party, and the university; and shortly thereafter he's sent to work in the mines. As a waggish adolescent, I liked the absurdity of the situation in which Ludvik finds himself. Later, I came to appreciate that Kundera had skewered the touchiness of totalitarianism, and the consequential loss of any sense of proportion.

How strange that all the old absurdist gags of Eastern Europe circa 1948 now fit so neatly into American life in the second decade of the third millennium. From the southern border to IRS head office, America is slipping down the outhouse of history.

~My apologies for the absence of Mark's Mailbox yesterday. I'm afraid we're all a bit tied up with my legal battles with the climate mullahs right now. I'll try to get to some of your letters in the course of the week, and in the meantime thank you for your ongoing support for my pushback against Michael E Mann and his hockey stick.

July 14, 2014 at 2:11 pm  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn: July 7-13

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

The week began with a 50th anniversary celebration of the first earthling music to be played on the moon.

~On Monday Mark considered the extraordinary sums of money Canada's TD Bank has given Bill Clinton.

~On Tuesday, in what quickly became our most-read piece of the week, Steyn looked at the challenges of diversity - on America's southern border and in a French kindergarten.

~The border talk continued on Wednesday's John Oakley Show, but Mark also found time to discuss who was to blame for the World Cup - gays or Jews?

~It was a week of celebrations: To mark the 50th birthday of Courtney Love, Steyn recalled her finest hour, and on Thursday he joined the 14th birthday edition of The Hugh Hewitt Show to chew over Israel's war with Hamas, and the Democrats' war with their own recent past.

~The Islamization of the west has been a theme of Mark's work since America Alone. This week he pondered two examples of "interfaith" outreach - at the sharp end with Bowe Bergdahl, and in the woozier soft focus of the House of Lords.

~It was a quiet week on the Mann vs Steyn trial-of-the-century front. But even in these doldrums before deposition and discovery you've continued to support Mark's pushback against the climate mullahs via the Steyn store. Thank you very much to generous readers from every corner of the globe.

~For our Saturday feature, Steyn marked the fifth anniversary of the deaths of Walter Cronkite and Michael Jackson.

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

July 13, 2014 at 9:46 am  |  Permalink

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