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Mark Steyn

Everyone's An Ally. (Except Israel.)

On my weekly radio date with Hugh Hewitt, Hugh and I discussed the unraveling of the Middle East and Obama's coziness with Iran. But we started with the news that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had intentionally crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountain:

MARK STEYN: The salient point here, I think, is had he attempted to do this on September the 10th, 2001, the pilot would have, the captain would have been just able to open the door, get in and wrest control of the airplane - or he would have had a sporting chance of doing it. And I think in that sense, it does, it should cause us to reflect on whether we have spent too much time in the last 14 years controlling things – doors, items you take on the plane - and not enough time looking at psychological motivations... And the lesson since 2001 is that generally, going back to the shoe bomber who got on the plane, and it was the passengers who beat the hell out of him and stopped him from lighting up his shoe. That's also true when you look at the panty bomber over Detroit and all the other things. And what happened here is that the good guys were unable to take back control of the plane from the bad guy, and that's very disturbing.

Actually the shoe bomber wasn't the first. On 9/11 itself, the only good news of the day was from Flight 93, when brave passengers figured out what was going on and acted - and prevented a fourth plane from hitting the White House or the Capitol. As a general rule, when something happens at 30,000 feet, the government regulators aren't up there with you, and what determines whether anyone survives or not is whether the fellows who are present have the freedom to act - or whether the regulatory regime has put too many obstacles in the way. On the Germanwings flight, the captain might well have saved the plane - but the impenetrable door was too big an obstacle to overcome. (Richard Fernandez points out a similar death-by-doors on September 11th - 200 people died in the elevators of the World Trade Center because it was assumed that the safest thing to do when an elevator stalls is immediately to disable the doors and keep everyone inside until the professionals can get to them.)

The other big story of the day was the Sunni Arabs' decision to intervene in the chaos in Yemen:

HUGH HEWITT: al-Sisi, the president of the Egypt, whom our president does not much like, has decided with the new king of Saudi Arabia that they're not waiting around for their American pals. They're going to go stop the Shia, the Iranian-backed Shia in Yemen. Jeffrey Goldberg, who's pretty good on this stuff, writes, "Negotiating with the Iranians in Switzerland, bombing their allies in Yemen, bombing their enemies in Syria and Iraq. Makes sense." We are, actually, Mark Steyn, in an incoherent, cataclysmic, incoherent moment.

MS: Yes, it's very weird. At the moment, we just started lending air support to our allies, the Iranians, in the fight to take back Tikrit in Iraq. That operation is being directed by an Iranian general, and the United States Air Force is basically serving as Iran's air force for the purposes of that operation. Meanwhile, down south in Yemen, we're providing support to our other allies, the Saudis, as they go into Yemen to take on the allies of our first allies, the Iranians.

But to the President it all makes sense because it's all Israel's fault:

MS: The entire region is aflame now from West Africa to the Hindu Kush. Four capitals are currently controlled by Tehran. We don't know how many capital cities will be controlled by them by the end. And other states have completely imploded, like Libya, and meanwhile all these various franchises of the jihad are all bulked up and getting along fine. And the idiocy of this administration is that somehow, they think this would all go away if Israel would stop building settlements.

HH: Yup.

MS: They think a tiny, little strip of land barely wider at its narrowest point than my New Hampshire township is at the root of this regional conflagration.

Hugh then asked me about the upcoming Iran "deal" - a treaty for which Obama, characteristically, will not be seeking the constitutionally required approval of the United States Senate. He wondered whether the Iranians understood that that "deal" would be dead the moment a Republican returned to the White House. I wasn't quite so optimistic:

MS: Well, alternatively, they've made a bet that if, say, the so-called P5+1 - the five Security Council members plus Germany - are on board with some deal, the deal is signed with some big, fancy ceremony with the U.N. Secretary-General, whether an incoming Republican president will have the guts simply to toss that in the garbage can of history. And generally speaking, Obama, when he's bet against the Republicans having the guts to undo this stuff, he's generally been right. It remains to be seen whether they'll undo Obamacare, whether they'll undo executive order amnesty. Given what he's been able to get away with so far, why wouldn't you say hey, come on, let's shoot for it and see whether these guys have the guts to undo it.

You can read the full interview here, and hear audio here.

March 27, 2015 at 8:44 am  |  Permalink

Pilot Terror

When I was a kid, the captain still honored the tradition of coming down the aisle and asking lucky young 'uns if they'd like to have a look at the cockpit. It's not such a thrill when you're a grown-up, but pre-9/11 on the little 12-seat puddle-jumpers I'd take from New Hampshire down to Boston and New York the pilots would keep the sliding door open for the flight and it was kind of fun to be able to watch the instrument dials and eavesdrop on their conversation. The last flight I took like that was an Air St Pierre six-seater from Miquelon to St Pierre a couple of years back where I sat right behind the pilot - no doors, no nuthin'.

For more or less everywhere other than St Pierre, it all changed after September 11th 2001. Because the terrorists had been able to access the cockpit so easily, the rules were changed, and the pilots were barricaded in behind locked doors. The idea was to keep the bad guys out.

On Germanwings Flight 9525 the mandatory locked doors kept the bad guy in - and the good guys out:

The audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

"The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer," the investigator said. "And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer."

He said, "You can hear he is trying to smash the door down."

The French prosecutor put it bluntly: The co-pilot wanted "to destroy this plane". His name is Andreas Lubitz - that's him in the photo above, and we will learn more about him in the days ahead. The mass murder of his passengers by a pilot is not unknown, but this is the first time someone has done it to a First World airline.

~In the new Middle East, you can't tell the players even with a score card. But let's try:

In the skies over Iraq, the USAF has swung into action against ISIS in support of "our coalition partners" Iran, as part of a mission to liberate Tikrit led by Teheran's ruthless Quds Force commander General Qassem Suleimani.

To the south, meanwhile, the US military is providing support to our other ally Saudi Arabia and their Gulf allies in their incursion into Yemen to stop the Houthis, the allies of our first allies Iran.

What's the old saying? The ally of my ally is my enemy? The enemy of my ally is my ally? Who knew foreign-policy Mad Libs could be such fun?

~To our Icelandic readers, Happy Free The Nipple Day! Do they have that in Yemen yet?

~We're now in the third day of the great media freakout over the news that anti-ObamaCare candidate Ted Cruz has purchased an ObamaCare plan.

The pundit class assure us that this is "hypocritical" - while less deranged types point out that Ted Cruz believes in abolishing the IRS but will still be paying his taxes on April 15th. I think American speed limits are absurdly low, but I observe them because otherwise they'd take away my driver's license. It is obviously not hypocritical to follow the law while arguing in favor of its abolition.

But I think this overlooks the main point. Ted Cruz was previously covered by his wife's employer's plan. But his missus has quit Goldman Sachs, which in America - uniquely in the developed world - means the family is also forced to find new health care arrangements. The Cruzes are not a poor family, so, pre-ObamaCare, they would have simply chosen the private insurance plan that suited them, and paid for it.

That's how private health insurance still works in most of the rest of the functioning world: There's government health care, but if you want something a little better you can pay for a private plan. Under ObamaCare there isn't really any "private" health plan anymore: An individual is free to choose the ObamaCare plan, with the government subsidy. Or he can choose something that's as crappy as the ObamaCare plan, but without the government subsidy. In my own state, it's called "NH Pathways" - the "path" is the key bit, because it's what you'll be driving down for three hours to get to a medical professional who's part of the "network". But you can no longer say to Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Racket, "Hey, show me your exciting range of plans, and I'll pick one."

So Ted Cruz has less health-care freedom than, say, Ted Scroggins in the United Kingdom. Most European countries have parallel public/private systems: A universal government health regime, plus a genuinely private insurance market. America has in effect abolished the latter without instituting the former.

Fortunately, I'm insured through my modest little company. It's a high-deductible plan. This morning the receptionist took my credit card and said the good news is that this appointment would be the last payment under the high deductible, but the bad news is that my next appointment (Monday) is the last one the insurance company will agree to cover. In Icelandic Free The Nipple Day terms, when you buy two-nipple coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue Nipple, the first nipple is your co-pay and the second nipple they won't cover.

Like "university", "insurance" is one of those words that no longer means what it used to.

~I'll be keeping my weekly date with Hugh Hewitt later today - live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.

March 26, 2015 at 12:20 pm  |  Permalink

Same Tune, Different Song

I've just made my first appearance on BBC Radio 4 since 1997, when I returned to "Loose Ends" with my old chum Ned Sherrin to plug Broadway Babies Say Goodnight.

Today's once-every-two-decades appearance was for a show hosted by a lady I admire very much, the composer Debbie Wiseman. For Same Tune, Different Song, Debbie wrote a melody and gave it to two different lyricists to put words to. One was our friend Don Black, Oscar-winning writer of "Born Free" plus more Bond lyrics than anybody else - and a guest on "The Mark Steyn Christmas Show" a couple of years back. The other was Gary Osborne, whose English lyric for "Amoureuse" I've always been fond of, as well as his song with dear old Elton, "Blue Eyes".

I pop up while Don and Gary are working on Debbie's tune with some more general observations on the relationship between words and music. You can hear the show here, as well as complete versions of Debbie's original composition and the two finished songs - Don's, sung by the great Mica Paris; and Gary's, sung by Mr and Mrs Osborne. I'm on the road and haven't yet had a chance to listen to the show myself, but, if it works out, I look forward to being back on Radio 4 in another 18 years.

~As I think I said somewhere on the show, words can change a tune - emphasizing and enhancing elements of it. That's one reason why I decided to sing the French lyric to "The Way You Look Tonight" on my own recent CD: the rhymes fall in slightly different places, and give the melody a subtly different character.

~As to why this is my first appearance on BBC radio this century, you can find the explanation toward the end of my book Mark Steyn From Head To Toe.

March 24, 2015 at 1:41 pm  |  Permalink

Death to America! Death to the Jews! Death to Me!

"Death to America!" It's not just for Americans anymore:

"Death to America. Death to Israel. Curse upon the Jews. Victory to Islam. Allahu Akbar," the worshipers recited en masse. Then a terrorist roaming among the mosque's patrons detonated himself...

Don't you hate it when you're raining down death-curses on people hither and yon, and then some guy blows you up? In this case, the pro-Houthi Shia victims were killed by a pro-ISIS Sunni terrorist. Some 140 dead, over 350 injured.

This was in Yemen, one of those Obama success stories he was bragging about only six months ago:

This weekend the last US forces in the country hot-tailed it outta there, leaving half-a-billion bucks' worth of state-of-the-art weaponry in the hands of the blood-soaked loons.

Who do you side with in the ISIS/Iran Sunni/Shia split? Back when Michael E Mann, PhD (Doctor of Phraudology) first decided to sue me, I had a conference call with a bigshot DC lawyer auditioning for my business. Not stinting on the braggadocio, he began the conversation with: "So. Do you wanna win fast? Or do you wanna win slow?"

That's the choice Iran and ISIS are offering the west: Do you wanna lose fast? Or do you wanna lose slow? The mullahs are happy to nuke us; the Islamic State reckon it's more fun to behead us one by one.

~So how's that Iranian nuclear deal coming along? First, John Kerry:

Kerry Cites 'Substantial Progress' In Iran Nuke Talks

Second, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei:

The ayatollah responded: 'Of course yes, death to America...'

Of course.

~Speaking of death to America, it's hard to kill a society this determined to commit suicide. Judith Shulevitz, who was my editor at Slate many years ago, gives New York Times readers a poignant glimpse of fin de civilisation varsity life:

A few weeks ago, Zineb El Rhazoui, a journalist at Charlie Hebdo, spoke at the University of Chicago, protected by the security guards she has traveled with since supporters of the Islamic State issued death threats against her. During the question-and-answer period, a Muslim student stood up to object to the newspaper's apparent disrespect for Muslims and to express her dislike of the phrase "I am Charlie."

Ms. El Rhazoui replied, somewhat irritably, "Being Charlie Hebdo means to die because of a drawing," and not everyone has the guts to do that (although she didn't use the word guts). She lives under constant threat, Ms. El Rhazoui said. The student answered that she felt threatened, too.

A few days later, a guest editorialist in the student newspaper took Ms. El Rhazoui to task. She had failed to ensure "that others felt safe enough to express dissenting opinions." Ms. El Rhazoui's "relative position of power," the writer continued, had granted her a "free pass to make condescending attacks on a member of the university." In a letter to the editor, the president and the vice president of the University of Chicago French Club, which had sponsored the talk, shot back, saying, "El Rhazoui is an immigrant, a woman, Arab, a human-rights activist who has known exile, and a journalist living in very real fear of death. She was invited to speak precisely because her right to do so is, quite literally, under threat."

The Chicago Maroon writer threw in, for good measure, Ferguson, Mo, before concluding that with Ms El Rhazoui's presence on campus he "had never felt more ashamed" to be a University of Chicago student. Once upon a time it would have been considered the most frightful bad taste to accuse a woman under constant death threats whose friends and colleagues have just been gunned down in a mass bloodbath for failing to make sure some narcissistic dweeb in the audience "felt safe enough" to ask a question. If ever there were a moment to "check your privilege", this would surely be it.

But no: to the sixth-year students in the Department of Navel Gazing, the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo isn't big enough to count as a micro-aggression.

~In related news: The guy who put up "white people only" stickers all over Austin, Texas turns out to be "social justice warrior" Adam Reposa - just "raising awareness" of your racism, you racey-race racist you.

~The Xtreme Ultimate-Queen Bitchfest between competing celebrigays Elton John and David Furnish, on the one hand, and Dolce and Gabbana, on the other, is almost as much fun as the Shia-Sunni civil war - although it looks as if Sir Elton may have the edge, waddling with his D&G bag into this year's spring collections and self-detonating all over their customer base. Another former editor of mine, Charles Moore at The Daily Telegraph, ponders what he calls "gay rights sharia":

Dolce's views are regarded as simply impermissible. In all the mainstream media this week, I have not seen a single voice defending him... His main point, however, was no more than what most people all over the world have believed since the dawn of civilisation – that children are best brought up by their biological parents...

Yet now you can barely say this. I am sure I would be barred from working in the public services if I said it at a job interview. I could not become a Labour parliamentary candidate, and probably not even a Conservative one. If I were 28 rather than 58, I doubt if I would dare say it in print if I wanted a successful career in media.

Indeed. From Big Gay to the University of Chicago's "safe spaces" to the Islamic scholars of Qom, there is one correct line of thought, and even the most modest dissent must be ruthlessly quashed.

Death to America? Death to the west? At the rate we're doing it to ourselves, those nuclear mullahs will have to move fast.

~Mark wrote a whole book on this subject: Lights Out: Islam, Free Speech And The Twilight Of The West. Personally autographed copies are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore.

March 23, 2015 at 10:05 am  |  Permalink

A Se'nnight of Steyn, March 16-22

Happy World Water Day. At SteynOnline we're marking the occasion with gentleman guppy Kevin Costner.

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

~The week began with Steyn reflecting on the first of two idiotic Tweets from the US State Department, "the most lavishly funded and entirely moronic foreign ministry on the planet".

~Tuesday was St Patrick's Day. We celebrated with a song for the season and the newest member of the Irish-America Hall of Fame: Hillary O'Clinton, putting the sham in shamrock. In non-Irish news, Mark also discussed Netanyahu's election victory, the intriguingly appellated Furkan Deryea, and Starbucks' decision to get its staff to talk race with their customers: "Now you'll be able to listen to your barista's views on slavery reparations as you wait twenty minutes for your Trayvonato with an extra shot. No justice, no peace, no foam."

~On Wednesday, Mark joined the great John Oakley at AM640 in Toronto to chew over Bibi and Hillary. In our most-read piece of the week, he also considered how America's friends are faring under the James Taylor Doctrine.

~On Thursday, Mark returned to The Hugh Hewitt Show in a somewhat cranky mood that made quite a bit of news, and also pondered a glimpse of the demographic future: "an Hispanic United States, an Islamized Europe and an African China."

~On Friday, our Sinatra centenary observances continued with a trip "East Of The Sun (And West Of The Moon)".

At the weekend he previewed today's French elections, offered a Motorcade Watch update, and recalled a famous diplomatic note from Moscow to London.

While we're waiting for the Mann vs Steyn trial of the century to begin, why not kill some time with the paperback edition of Climate Change: The Facts? The new must-read book on the state of the science, the policy and the politics, with contributions from Mark and many eminent scientists, is now available for pre-order from the SteynOnline bookstore - and Steyn will be more than happy to autograph it for the denier in your family! We also thank readers who've continued to support Mark's end of his latest free-speech battles via SteynOnline gift certificates and other Steyn store purchases.

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

March 22, 2015 at 7:54 am  |  Permalink

Le Pen is Mightier Than the Sword?

A few notes on this first weekend of spring:

~France goes to the polls tomorrow. Marine Le Pen was excluded by the French Government from the #JeSuisCharlie rally in favor of less controversial figures like, er, Mahmoud Abbas and President Erdoğan. But, when all the unlikely free-speech opportunists bleating that "the pen is mightier than the sword" have faded away, it may be that the biggest beneficiary of the post-Charlie Hebdo environment will be Mme Le Pen's Front National:

"She's my queen!" gushes Patricia, waiting for the arrival of Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right National Front.

"Marine represents everything the people of France want. I don't know what to say - she's wonderful, magnificent..."

The political momentum is firmly behind the National Front (FN) whose anti-immigration and anti-EU platform saw it take first place in European elections and win control of 11 town halls last year.

It is again topping polls ahead of Sunday's vote.

The Picardy countryside is a picturesque but barren stretch of territory with little to offer its young people, making it an ideal recruiting ground for the FN which is polling over 40 percent across much of the region.

Not everyone is as happy as Patricia, though:

Back at the Noyon community hall, some wait to greet Le Pen with shouts of "fascist".

"Even if she hides it behind her beautiful blonde hair, there are neo-Nazi ideas underneath," said one of the protesters, 47-year-old Pierre, who declined to give his last name.

"After she's kicked out the immigrants, it's us who will be next - the people who think."

Perhaps "the people who think" ought to think a bit about whether stagnant labor markets, mass Muslim immigration, and high crime as a routine feature of life is really a sustainable model.

~We will keep an eye out on the French vote tomorrow. Meanwhile, whether you're one of the franco-Fascists or the people who think, if you're looking to relax this weekend, don't forget that my own rosier-hued view of the picturesque Picardy countryside is one of the tracks on my new Goldfinger CD, available from the Steyn store, Amazon, iTunes, CD Baby and elsewhere.

~The Prince of Wales is currently in the United States, and SteynOnline reader Mike Shull swung by to catch his act in Louisville:

Mark,

Prince Charles was in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky today. About an hour ago, he stopped by our downtown Cathedral, where I occasionally attend Mass, to give a brief speech. This is only 2 blocks from my office, so after a late lunch I walked over to see his arrival.

As a reader of your work, I had in mind your past comparisons between the British Royal Family's entourage and that of the president and other politicians. I nonetheless still amazed at the modesty of Charles' cohort.

The attached picture shows the moment he stepped from the car. And the car was not even a limousine. The entire motorcade consisted of only two police cars, Charles' towncar, and one additional vehicle. The other (empty) police cars visible across the street are not there for the prince. They are parked there every day because City Hall is just down the block.

As you can see from the picture:

1. they did not even close the street off for his arrival, not even for a few seconds. Motorists are still going by on the left.
His car stopping there made no more disruption to traffic that a pizza delivery guy or UPS driver parking on the curb for 30 seconds to make a delivery.
2. the sidewalk is not roped off at all.
3. there were no "advance guard" or phalanx of other cop cars that preceded him that simply are off camera. What you see is really all there was.

And the men who look like Secret Service there are actually just church parishioners who were helping direct what little traffic was there. I attended the Vice Presidential debate between Biden and Ryan in 2012 at Center College here in Kentucky. There were at least 50 police cars, maybe 100, and several "decoy" type black Chevy Suburbans for Joe Biden.

You are correct that the monarchy America rejected years ago is now practically Joe Lunchbox compared with the grandiose, prima donna treatment demanded by our elected "public servants".

Mike Shull

Putting aside the fact that the President's 40-car motorcade is nothing to do with security - as we see everywhere from the Secret Service hookers in Cartagena to the vast entourage required to get Obama to Mandela's funeral only to stand him three feet away from a violent schizophrenic convicted of "necklacking"; and putting aside the ever more absurd impositions on the citizenry, such as maintaining the street's closure for hours after the Presidential procession has passed so that pregnant women and injured persons are not allowed to cross the thoroughfare to get to the hospital on the other side; and putting aside that I strongly dislike the Prince of Wales and regard his Grand Thoughts on "climate change" as witless and inappropriate; putting all that to one side for the moment:

One of the advantages of monarchy in a democratic age is that it comes with a built-in grievance factor: There's always a certain percentage of the people that is chippily resentful of even the most footling expenditure on the Royal Family's so-called pampered parasites - as a casual glance at the papers in Her Majesty's realms will reveal. So a prince or royal duchess can't go around closing streets and draining police manpower because some republican pol on the make will be all over the news whinging about it. That's very healthy, and one consequence of it is the entourage you saw in Louisville this week. HRH The Prince of Wales is the heir to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Barbados, Tuvalu, Belize, Papua New Guinea, etc, etc, but when he travels to Kentucky he takes only what he needs.

By the way, that's also way cooler - as my daughter pointed out when she and I saw the Queen in Glasgow in her Diamond Jubilee year. HM and the Duke upfront, and one car behind. And that handful of guys are on their game. Whereas, with a 40-car motorcade, only the Cartagena hookers are on the game.

But the bigger point is that a 40-car motorcade leads to a 40-car motorcade political culture - with a ruling class on the inside of the perimeter, and the rest of the schlubs on the outside. They don't live where you live. They drive through it, and you glimpse them through the glass darkly as you wait for the royal procession to pass and daily life to resume.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been entouraged to the hilt for almost a quarter-century, is a near parodic example of the entitlement this breeds. What length do you think the motorcade's going to be by the end of her reign?

~Nigel Wallbridge writes from Switzerland re the British press getting its knickers in a twist over Tim Blair enjoying a massive titter at the Islamic community centre spokesperson Ferkan Derya:

Mark

It's interesting that The Independent's Matthew Champion should get so sniffily superior about Tim Blair's 'outrageous' riff on the name Furkan Derya. The sine qua non pun of this kind is surely Sir Archibald Kerr's famous 1943 letter from the British Embassy in Moscow regarding a Turkish diplomat. The Independent was happy to promote that joke itself as recently as 28 October 2012. The thought police are remarkably sprightly when expanding the bounds of 'unacceptable' discourse.

Thanks
Nigel

Indeed. I referenced that celebrated Turk a few years back, when observing that, even in our diverse age, names do not always travel:

Andy, Jonah, as you note, Akbar Zeb (whom I happen to have met) has been turned down as Pakistani ambassador to Saudi Arabia because his Urdu surname means, in Arabic, penis.

On the other hand, President Lula of Brazil has a Portuguese name that means in Urdu the self-same appendage.

But then again, the late Chilean minister of works, Maximiliano Espinoza Pica, has a Spanish name that is Portuguese slang for the male member.

But, as you say, the Turkish diplomat in Moscow is the acme of this genre. So, for those of you who've never seen this letter before, enjoy!

H.M. EMBASSY
MOSCOW

Lord Pembroke
The Foreign Office
London

6th April 1943

My Dear Reggie,

In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light that spill from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow, and I do not want to be mean and selfish about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me that he is called Mustapha Kunt.

We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that.

Archie

Sir Archibald Clark Kerr
H.M. Ambassador

By the way, if any US diplomats sent Mrs Clinton any emails of a similar nature during her four years as Secretary of State, where are they now? "Reggie", the 15th Earl of Pembroke, assumed the above was a public record that he was obliged to preserve. I suspect hdr22 would have chuckled and had her aides hit delete.

As it happens, I once met Lord Pembroke's son David Herbert, whom Ian Fleming dubbed "the Queen of Tangiers". But that's a whole other story...

March 21, 2015 at 10:25 am  |  Permalink

The Back of the Bus Without End

Yesterday I kept my weekly date on The Hugh Hewitt Show. You can hear the full audio and read the entire transcript here.

Hugh and I discussed Obama's weird determination to punish the Israelis for not voting as he instructed, and the near total contempt in which this president by everyone on every side throughout the Middle East.

However, in a myopic, parochial Washington, nothing ever changes. So at some point Hugh played me a bit of Senator Dick Durbin claiming that the delay in confirming Loretta Lynch was making "the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general ...sit in the back of the bus". And, after falling asleep during Dick Durbin's soundbite, I woke up and got a little bit cranky:

MARK STEYN: Loretta Lynch is being held up because she's Loretta Lynch, not because she's the first this or the first that... I'm so bored by this. We are living in epic times. And this idea that we're supposed to be excited because it's the first Native American transsexual to be head of the Department of the Interior bores the pants off me. Is there nothing else than this shabby, worthless sort of identity-politics notches on your escutcheon that any of these guys play?

HUGH HEWITT: Mark, it's…

MS: She's the attorney general [nominee] of the United States. And what I would like, by the way, is ...a chief law officer of the United States who will enforce the law impartially. I found one of the most extraordinary things regarding the Hillary email case that yes, General Petraeus had to plead guilty to a crime over it, but that in the case of Hillary, because she's such an important person, the attorney general will discuss with the President whether there should be any action taken against her. I'd like a chief law officer of the United States who applies the law impartially to all 300 million. And I don't care whether they're an African-American female or a female-to-male transgender or anything else. I'll just take someone who'd like to apply the law impartially.

HH: Well, don't hold your breath.

Indeed. You can find the entire interview here.

March 20, 2015 at 7:44 am  |  Permalink

Which Is It?

Following their enthusiastic support for the replacement of Common Law by Sharia, the geniuses at the State Department's "Think Again, Turn Away" social media campaign have now issued another brilliant Tweet:

People worldwide promise online to vacation in Tunisia in defiance of deadly terrorist attack

Beneath it are the usual selfies of persons holding up bits of cardboard, which these days seems to be the only form of resistance fin de civilisation westerners know. I expect we'll all be standing around selfie-sticking our #UnitedAgainstNukes hashtags when the mullahs drop the big one.

But that's just standard-issue witlessness. What takes it to the next level is that, at the same time the US State Department is urging everyone to defy the terrorists and support Tunisian tourism, it's urging State Department employees to steer well clear of Tunisian tourism. Here's State Department honchette Jen Pskai just one hour before the above Tweet:

The Embassy remains open and is located 10 miles from the museum. All – excuse me – employees have been accounted for, informed of the situation, and urged to avoid the museum and surrounding vicinity.

That would be the tourist area.

Gotcha. The State Department says Tunisian tourist sites are far too dangerous for State Department employees to go anywhere near, but you and your gran'ma should book your tickets today.

This is the most lavishly funded and entirely moronic foreign ministry on the planet.

March 19, 2015 at 3:51 pm  |  Permalink

Hang-Ups

Apparently the White House switchboard still can't get a line to Israel, but Obama's not the only one with hang-ups on election calls. The media are also taking Netanyahu's re-election badly. Who said this?

Harper Backs Netanyahu's Controversial Israel Victory

And who said this?

"Over a million Arabs take part in Middle East's most democratic elections today"; "The Arabs in Israel are the only Middle East Arab group that practices true democracy"..."Israel is the world's most vibrant democracy."

The first is the reaction of The Globe And Mail, Canada's newspaper of record. The second is Ghanem Nuseibeh, a Palestinian supporter of the Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog. It comes to something when the Palestinians sound less unhinged about Netanyahu's victory than the western media do.

What's "controversial" about the Israeli election result other than that it's not the one The Globe And Mail wanted?

Isn't there anything a wee bit "controversial" about the Palestinian election? Oh, that's right: They haven't held any for a decade or so - Abbas and his fellow Fatah kleptocrats in the West Bank because they want to continue bulking up their Swiss bank accounts with generous Euro-American subsidies, and Hamas in Gaza because they regard democracy as Erdogan in Turkey put it, merely a train you ride until it gets you to where you want to go. Which it did back in 2006.

~A Steyn I-told-you-so moment: America Alone was published in 2006 - and, as I always say with an eye to my Mann vs Steyn legal bills, personally autographed copies are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore. The reason you should buy it is for things like the following:

Will China be the hyperpower of the 21st century? Answer: No. Its population will get old before it's got rich...

Lots of experts crank out analyses positing China as the unstoppable hegemon of the 21st century. Yet the real threat is not the strengths of your enemies but their weaknesses. China is a weak power: its demographic and other structural defects are already hobbling its long-term ambitions.

Nine years later, the Chinese are beginning to figure it out:

China must open its doors to up to 100 million young immigrants from Africa and Southeast Asia to address the country's aging workforce, according to a researcher with China's State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC)...

Beijing has no choice but to choose this path, Luo said, adding that this would make China the country with the second-most immigrants in the world behind the United States.

Which would be a profound transformation in a country with no experience of mass immigration. And, unlike the United States, China's demographic woes come with a distinctive wrinkle. From page 30 of America Alone:

Since China introduced its "one child" policy in 1978, the imbalance between the sexes has increased to the point where in today's generation there are 119 boys for every 100 girls. The pioneer generation of that male surplus are now adults. Unless China's planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta, what's going to happen to those young men? As a general rule, large numbers of excitable lads who can't get any action are useful for manning the nuttier outposts of the jihad but not for much else.

Nine years later, the SASAC commissars are catching up with Steyn:

China's rapidly aging population, a product of the country's one-child policy, has become one of the government's biggest headaches. While Beijing has eased the national birth control policy in recent years, economic constraints have so far prevented a new baby boom.

The Chinese tradition of preferring boys to girls has also led to a gross gender imbalance in the population, with estimates that 30 million Chinese men will not be able to find a female partner by 2020.

So what's the plan? Those tens of millions of Africans are going to be mostly female?

~If you follow America as the country with "the second-most immigrants in the world", do you then follow America to the next stage? A land with no majority population, only minorities:

The fact is that "no majority" America is here and thriving in 2015. According to the new projections, it is here among children younger than 5, and it is here among all students in the nation's public schools. It will be here for the nation's under-30 population in less than a decade, deepening the transformation that has already come to pockets of many urban cores and large swaths of the nation's coasts and the Southwest.

This Brookings Institute graph spells it out. Next year - 2016 - for the first time since 1776 a majority of America's under-tens will be non-white. By 2026 (or about the length of time from Bush's re-election to now) a majority of America's under-forty population will be non-white.

It might be "thriving", as William H Frey says. But one could also argue that America's current "diversity" model assumes the continued presence of a guilt-ridden white majority. Once there no longer is such a thing it might all get a bit more complicated...

Either way, the mid-21st century won't want for diversity: an Hispanic United States, an Islamized Europe and an African China.

March 19, 2015 at 11:12 am  |  Permalink

The James Taylor Doctrine

What was it James Taylor was flown by the State Department to sing to the Parisians a few weeks back? Oh, yeah:

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again
Winter, spring, summer, or fall
All you got to do is call
And I'll be there, yes I will
You've Got A Friend...

Dr Shakil Afridi could have used a friend like that. Instead, he made friends with the Government of the United States, and a fat lot of good it did him. As I said on the radio a couple of years ago:

When Joe Biden goes, 'Obama, he's the toughest hombre who ever lived...' This was the decision to take out bin Laden, to pull the trigger, as Obama did personally. 'This was the toughest decision any world leader has had to make in 2,000 years since Pontius Pilate decided to whack Jesus, this is the toughest decision any guy has ever had to take …and in fact, the reality is the guy who took the tough decision was that little Pakistani doctor who made the decision to go to the Americans, and is now being tortured in jail. And Mister Tough Guy, Joe Biden, and the toughest hombre in a millennium, Obama, haven't done a thing about him, poor fellow.

Were it not for Dr Afridi, Osama bin Laden would still be alive and whooping it up with his pals in Abbottabad. Instead, President Obama got to do his "Osama is dead and al-Qaeda is on the run" routine right through the 2012 election and all the way until ISIS took Mosul. Meanwhile, Dr Afridi is about to begin the fourth year of his 33-year prison term. And the preening poseurs who run the global superpower have lifted not a finger to help him.

You've got a friend? In the Age of Obama, who would be a friend of America? Indeed, who would be a friend of a friend of America? Yesterday, Dr Afridi's lawyer was shot dead in Peshawar:

"Two men on a motorcycle opened fire on Mr Samiullah who was travelling alone in his car near Bashir Bagh Aslam Dehri, killing him on the spot" said SSP (operations) Dr Mian Saeed.

He told Dawn that the attackers had fired four shots on the lawyer and the bullets hit him in the chest and abdomen. He said that it was early to determine the motive behind the murder.

Actually, it's not all that difficult to "determine":

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat ur Ahrar accepts responsibility for the attack on Samiullah, the lawyer of Shakil Afridi, who was co-operating with the killers of Sheikh Osama bin Laden. The enemy should remember that we will kill each and every one of the killers of each of our brothers.

All you gotta do is call, and the White House will put you on hold while you listen to James Taylor's Greatest Hits.

The doctor is in jail because he's a friend of America. The lawyer is dead because he's a friend of a friend of America. How come the United States could plan a flawless operation to bust into Osama's compound and put a bullet in him, but it couldn't do a thing for the operation's indispensable human intelligence?

This is usually the point where I quote the great Bernard Lewis' words when we chanced to be on a panel discussion a few years back - that America risked being seen as harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend. And so it goes, from Iran to the Islamic State to the morgue of the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

~At the other end of the ummah, ideological soulmates of the fellows who killed Mr Samiullah killed 19 people in Tunis - 17 of them tourists from France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Australia and Japan. Which seems likely to do wonders for the future of Tunisian tourism. Tunisia was one of the most "westernized" of Arab countries, which is also why it's produced such a huge number of volunteers for ISIS. The various local franchises of the jihad are getting cockier and more confident. Other than Joe Biden bragging about the size of Obama's cojones, what's the strategy here?

~Back on the Hillary Clinton email-shredding beat: A fan of hdr22, David Kelsey wasn't fooled by my paean to Elizabeth Warren. He can see through all that:

I'm mystified as to why so many Beltway liberal and conservative Republican pundits think (wishfully?) that rank-and-file Democrats and independents do now or ever will care about their concern trolling on Hillary Clinton's candidacy. We are routinely told -- contrary to hard data from polls stating otherwise -- that she is "bloody awful" at politics, not liked and unelectable -- so one wonders what they are so afraid of?

It seems to me the Andy old folks in the media are having a difficult time processing the simple and obvious fact that Hillary is more popular with, liked by, and relevant to the public than the opinions of angry old folks in the media. Her continued polling strength is the embodiment of this -- and that's what has the press hounds in such a tizzy. Americans have long since tired of the press's hyperventilating, hysterical manufactured crises and obviously false "narratives" fed by an aversion to facts and data, facts which we can now piece together from any number of alter net news sources. Thus, Hillary-haters in the media can no longer dictate to the public what they should think, whom they should detest, and for whom they should vote as the media did in days of yore. Unlike other candidates, Hillary doesn't need the media and doesn't need to pretend to take it seriously, because the voting public no longer does. And that's what's driven you all into a frenzied rage.

"She's unpopular." "She's unelectable." "Nobody likes her." Mmmm hmmm. Whatever you have to tell yourself to sleep at night. Keep unskewing those polls.

Er, okay. So, if not Elizabeth Warren, what about Gore '16?

~Aside from Hillary mail, we're also getting a lot of comments on our Sinatra centenary songs, which we should probably save for a special Chairmail of the Board. However, Dan Hollombe didn't care for the cut of Song Number 18's jib:

Hello Mark,
Once again, I find myself vehemently disagreeing with you. If ever there were a song that sounds ridiculous with a "ring-a-ding-ding" style arrangement, it's this one. One knows there's something amiss when the first line is "South of the border..." and what's accompanying it is an army of saxophones. Just as "gurglin' cracklin' cauldron" shouldn't be sung by anyone in a suit and tie, the words "Mexico" and "saxophone" are equally incongruous. Mariachi bands consist of violins, trumpets (without mutes), vihuelas, guitarrons, and diatonic accordions. The more upscale ones might also include a marimba. In addition, Sinatra changes what should be a four-note opening ascending arpeggio into a two note descending one. Unforgivable. After the title of this song is belted out, I want to have the urge to yell "Charge!" as usual, or it's just no good.

Also, I checked out that "White Horses" thing by "Jacky" on YouTube, as it's from my favorite era, and I like being knowledgeable about what was going on in the UK as much as I do the US at the time. Really weak. Both the melody and performance are quite undistinguished. If that's the best that Michael Carr had to offer on his own, I'm not particularly curious about anything else he might have composed.

Best Wishes,
Dan Hollombe
Los Angeles

Well, each to his own, but I would doubt either Michael Carr or Jimmy Kennedy had ever knowingly heard a mariachi band at the time they wrote "South Of The Border". I'm minded to modify Jerome Kern's line to Oscar Hammerstein when they were adapting Donn Byrne's life of Marco Polo for Broadway. "Here's a story laid in China about an Italian and told by an Irishman," said Hammerstein. "What kind of music are you going to write?"

"Don't worry," replied Kern. "It'll be good Jewish music."

In this case, here's a song set in Mexico about an amorous American cowboy told by an Ulsterman and a Dublin Yorkshireman. What kind of music did they write? Well, they wrote good Denmark Street, London WC2 music.

As to "that 'White Horses' thing by 'Jacky'", every horsey English schoolgirl of the late Sixties and Seventies would beg to differ. I dunno how many are in the greater Los Angeles area, but watch out for squealing tires as you cross, er, Rodeo Drive. The song has been covered by all kinds of younger hipper types in the years since, including (just to keep it Celtic) Cerys Matthews, Morwenna Banks and - golly - the Trashcan Sinatras. And, according to this BBC news story, it's the all-time greatest theme tune in television history.

Not long afterwards, Jackie Lee had another hit with a children's TV song. A few years back, we had a chap called Rupert working with us, and I drove the ladies in the office nuts singing this all day long, week after week. Enjoy, Dan!

~On Thursday I'll be checking in with Hugh Hewitt live at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific. This week's drinking game is "Rupert the Bear".

March 18, 2015 at 10:34 pm  |  Permalink

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