On Thursday, I kept my weekly date on The Hugh Hewitt Show, just in time for the big news of the day:
We also discussed Dennis Miller's observation that the Oscar statuette looks like Vladimir Putin, and Lady Gaga's Academy performance of "The Sound Of Music":
We then moved on to the Islamic State. (Incidentally, if you haven't picked up the new Tony Bennett CD, Swingin' With The ISIS Cats, it's terrific, especially "I Left My Head In Saqlawiyah".) In particular, Hugh wanted to discuss its appeal to its western recruits:
You can find the full interview here.
~Speaking of Jihad John - real name Mohammed Emwazi - he spent his entire, comfortable, middle-class life in Britain and went to Westminster University. But he preferred to go chopping heads off across the Levant rather than spend his career in middle management at Green Energy Solutions Ltd. The Daily Mail's editorial wonders what we should do about this:
Paul Dacre, the editor of The Daily Mail, was my boss at its sister paper The Evening Standard many years ago, and is without question a brilliant and ingenious editor. But that disgusting sentence is almost enough to have me reaching for the scimitar. This is what a supposedly robust, fearless, "conservative" newspaper thinks is the solution - to trade core English liberties for a quiet life. No, you dummy. You use your free-speech rights to argue fearlessly against the monsters Britain has incubated in its midst, and you insist on unbounded freedom of expression in order to have the widest, most open and honest conversation about what to do about, say, the significant numbers of British Muslims who think killing cartoonists is justified. Why is mass Muslim immigration so obviously beneficial and indispensable that it's worth surrendering ancient liberties for? And why is The Daily Mail's automatic assumption that it's we who "need to re-think" rather than the community that produces the likes of Jihad John?
I bailed on the Academy Awards halfway through that terrible, overwrought opening song, "Moving Pictures". "That's a Tony number, not an Oscar number," I scoffed, and went off to shampoo the cat while singing "Hooray For Hollywood". But, when you go on TV and radio, people tend to ask you about these things, so on the off-chance it comes up with Hugh Hewitt on Thursday afternoon I thought I ought to bring myself up to speed on all the big controversies.
Which is how I came to be reading this column by June Thomas. It was about Graham Moore, who won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game. That's the one about the tragic gay, which would probably have been a shoo-in for an Oscar sweep if the tragic gay in question hadn't been a Brit. Mr Moore appears to have led a charmed life - his mom was chief of staff to Michelle Obama, and the book launch for his first novel was held at the Vice-President's residence. But in his Oscar speech he revealed that things had not always been so rosy:
As editor of "Outward", Slate's LGBTQ section, June Thomas didn't care for the cut of Graham's jib:
Ms Thomas regretted that Mr Moore had "conflated these identities". As a man who "identifies as straight" but has a gay "affect" picking up an Oscar for a gay movie - Moore shouldn't have muddied the gay waters by indulging in his own non-gay suicide-flaunting.
As evidence of how controversial Moore's remarks were, J Bryan Lowder, another editor of the LGBTQ section at Slate, then filed his own column on why this self-identified straight shouldn't be trivializing gay oppression with his bungled attempt to off himself:
Like James Baker re the Balkans, I don't have a dog in this fight, although I'm mildly impressed that anyone in contemporary Hollywood with a gay "affect" bothers to "identify as straight". But, slogging through this "controversy", I had a strange premonition that this will be what the last five members of western civilization are arguing over when the guy yelling "Allahu Akbar!" bursts through the door.
~Speaking of conflation inflation, I'm surprised Slate only has an LGBTQ section when most of us have long advanced to the full LGBTQWERTY. As I wrote six years ago:
Anyway, via Steven Hayward at Powerline, I learn that LGBTTIQQ2S is no longer operative, at least at Wesleyan University. Is a Wesleyan like a Lesbian? No, it's something to do with the founder of Methodism, but that was all a long time ago:
So LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM. Dunno what happened to the 2S crowd. Maybe they went all Flexual. And what's with the spelling of "polyamourous"? Is that multiple French partners? And why are Non-Binary Pansexuals excluded? Or is that only a Canadian thing?
With all this orientation creep, straights are at something of a disadvantage. "Straight" isn't even an acronym: How lame is that? Maybe they could add a few variations, and make it Straight, Uptight, Repressed, Missionary Position Only, Alternate Saturdays Mostly, Keeping Your Socks On, and hold a parade for members of the SURMPOASMKYSO community.
~Speaking of "gender dissident communities", a poll of British Muslims finds that 27 per cent "have some sympathy for the motives behind Charlie Hebdo attacks". That's over three-quarters of a million people - without adding in the two per cent who refused to answer and another eight per cent who "don't know". But don't worry, the good news is that 68 per cent of British Muslims agree that acts of violence against those who publish images of Mohammed can "never be justified".
The other 32 per cent amount to a million people, all living in the United Kingdom.
Eleven per cent of Muslims thought that magazines who publish pictures of the Prophet Mohammed "deserve to be attacked". Now that's what I call "otherized"!
But relax, that's only about 310,000 British residents. And, if you're round the back of the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim or the remoter parts of the Shetlands, it may be a while before they get to you.
Still, in the civilizational clash between "safe spaces" and "no-go zones", I'd bet on the latter, alas.
~By the way I apologize for not writing "the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)" above, but I was worried that students at Wesleyan University might think that that nice Yemeni boy in the back of the class had signed up for the Pangender, Bisexual, Undecided and Hung steering committee.
See you Thursday on the radio with Hugh, live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.
In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Mark:
The week began in Copenhagen with the naming of the dead in the latest murderous assault by a "known wolf", and in Derna with the mass beheading of 21 Christians. The Government of the United Sates attributed both to a lack of job opportunities, prompting our most-read piece of the week: "Who Ya Gonna Believe? Us Or Your Own Severed Head?"
~On Tuesday the White House opened its international conference on "Countering Violent Extremism" - a condescending bit of misdirection that Mark addressed in his column "Living History".
~On Wednesday, Steyn returned to the John Oakley show on Toronto's AM640 to chew over the state of the world near and far.
~On Thursday, the American media went bananas over Rudy Giuliani's suggestion that Obama doesn't love his country. Mark put it this way: If the President were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?
~On Friday, Steyn's Sinatra Century continued with his valentine to the Windy City: "Chicago." Earlier, Mark considered the great question at the heart of Sinatra's art: "What Is This Thing Called Love?"
For the SteynOnline weekend movie date, Mark picked a favorite Oscar-loser, Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost In Translation.
Steyn is proud to be part of a new book called Climate Change: The Facts, featuring contributions from many eminent scientists. It's available in Kindle at Amazon outlets worldwide, as well as in Kobo and in Nook at Barnes & Noble. And, as always, we thank readers who've continued to support Mark's pushback against serial litigant and fake Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann via SteynOnline gift certificates and other Steyn store purchases. After the conference on "Countering Violent Extremism", Steyn's twin bestsellers America Alone and After America are timelier than ever.
A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week.
Currently in Washington the Obama Administration is hosting a conference on "violent extremism", which is their preferred term for the perplexing phenomenon of excitable young men of no particular persuasion who like to practice random acts of randomness. Vice-President Biden, taking time out from his hectic schedule of copping a feel of incoming cabinet secretaries' wives, gave an insight into the level of insight the White House brings to this issue:
If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. If you want a friend in Wilmington, get a Somali cab-driver.
Question: When was the last time the Vice-President of the United States used a cab?
Follow-up question: When was the last time he used a cab in his previous incarnation as one of the most puffed-up senators in the land, trailing his entourage like a Saudi prince trails wives?
At any rate, the finest minds in the west are focused like a laser on what the US Government designates by the official acronym CVE - which stands for "Countering Violent Extremism" and not, yet, despite Marie Harf, "Cabs for Violent Extremists".
~Today I started the day with the great John Oakley on AM640 in Toronto. We discussed various aspects of the Obama Administration's approach to the Islamic State and related matters - including CVE, and the latest mass burnings by ISIS, just five miles away from where those 300 pairs of US Marine non-boots on the ground are supposedly "training" the Iraqi Army. And, as I said to John, in such a world who would be an American ally? Click below to listen:
~Tomorrow, Thursday, I'll be keeping my weekly date with Hugh Hewitt - don't worry, it's not in the Joe Biden press-conference sense: no wandering hands. That's live coast to coast at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific.
For strange psychological reasons that archaeologists who sift through the rubble of our civilization will long ponder, the biggest story of our time cannot be reported honestly.
For example, the Islamic State's rapidly growing Libyan branch office has just held a mass execution of 21 men. The Government of the United States deplored it thus:
"Egyptian citizens"? They didn't die because of their passports; they died because they were Coptic Christians - or, as their executioners put it, "followers of the cross".
Why would the White House so dishonor the dead? As I wrote a week ago, the Administration's lies about the perpetrators necessitate lies about their victims:
Because the United States Government will not tell the truth about the Islamic motivation of the killers, it cannot tell the truth about the victims - whether Jews in France, or Copts in Libya, or Anglicans in Nigeria.
It is an absurd lie but many influential people are willing to serve it. Step forward, Daniel Burke, CNN's "Religion Editor". Attempting to make sense of the horrors of the last week, Mr Burke filed a story called "Religion's Week From Hell". Yes, "religious" people are getting up to all sorts of hellish stuff. Just ask any expert:
This "religion" business is a powerful tool, eh? Daniel Burke then listed various examples of the "religious" hellishness going on around the planet. As John Hinderaker noticed, one of these things is not like the other:
Monday: Boko Haram take 20 hostages in Cameroon and detonate a car bomb in Niger;
Tuesday: Three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina are killed by an atheist neighbor;
Wednesday: ISIS bombs Baghdad, killing dozens of Iraqis;
Thursday: Al-Qaeda seize a key military base in Yemen, killing four soldiers;
Friday: Boko Haram kill five people in Chad;
Saturday: A gunman kills a Danish film director and a Jewish security guard in Copenhagen;
Sunday: The Libyan subsidiary of ISIS beheads 21 Copts on a beach.
With the exception of that Carolina guy, who is of no religion, the "religious" violence in seven different countries was all perpetrated by adherents of one particular religion. But CNN can't say that, so its only way of covering this trend is to tut about all this - what's the word? - random religious fervor getting everyone all randomly fired up. I prefer the way I put it in my bestselling book America Alone way back in 2006, right up front in the prologue:
Muslims vs [Your Team Here]. That stands up pretty well almost a decade on - which is why if you don't already have a personally autographed copy of my book, you should. But don't worry, there's no chance of me getting invited on as an expert by CNN's Religion Editor.
Faced with all these random religions getting out of hand, what should the Government of the United States do? State Department spokes-coed Marie Harf is looking at the world through rose-colored glasses:
The man who beheaded the Copts in Libya has a North American accent. The guy who beheaded the Americans in Syria has an estuary English accent. The bloke who gave a severed head to his seven-year-old kid to wave around on social media has an Aussie accent.
Like thousands of other Islamic State volunteers from the western world, like the Copenhagen killer (a graduate of a fast-track high school) and the Ottawa killer (the son of a super-senior Canadian bureaucrat), these guys had all the "job opportunities" they could dream of in the most advanced economies on earth - and they gave it all up to go head-chopping. Because they found jihad - whoops, sorry, "religion" - more appealing than being the sort of fey western metrosexual eunuch who hung around Marie Harf in college.
Maybe we could just offer everyone in ISIS interns at the State Department. For one thing, in Foggy Bottom if you chopped off everyone's heads, who'd notice?
~My daughter alerted me yesterday afternoon to the sad news that the great Lesley Gore had died, far too young. I saw her at Michael Feinstein's club in New York some years back, and assumed I had all the time in the world to catch her again. She was a fine songwriter, and I loved her singing voice. But it wasn't all teen angst. A few years ago, my daughter and I whipped up a version of this Lesley Gore hit that we liked to do. But really you can't improve on the original:
That was the first hit song composed by Marvin Hamlisch, who also died too young. Hard to beat that for the maximum infectious perkiness packed into 90 seconds. Lesley Gore grew up and, like a lot of pop stars, had to live with the reality that you're older and wiser and your command of your craft is far more sophisticated, but you're just not as big a star, and that moment will never come again. But she made her peace with her youthful success, and, if 90 seconds of "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" isn't enough, here she is a quarter-century later on stage in Melbourne;
Rest in peace.
~The New York Times' media columnist David Carr has also died, very suddenly, right after a very blah defense of Brian Williams. To be honest, I can't say I mourn him as I mourn Miss Gore. Our only intersection came five-and-a-half years ago after a New York Times front-page story reported that I'd compared Barack Obama to Kim Jong-Il and Saddam Hussein. Actually, I hadn't. But "media critic" David Carr picked up the error for his own column and took it to the next level. After The Irish Times and other newspapers that made the mistake of believing America's "newspaper of record" issued corrections, The New York Times issued its own somewhat snotty and defensive correction (I didn't ask for one - the only time I've ever demanded a correction I played it strictly for laughs.)
That's by way of saying that, for all the effusions about his brilliant insights and high style as a media analyst, in the only matter of which I had direct personal knowledge he was just another lazy third-rate hack playing journo-Chinese whispers rather than actually listening to the media he was paid to "analyze". Funny how that works.
Happy Presidents Day to all our American readers - and to all our Canadian readers a happy "Family Day", an even more anodyne coinage observed in recent years in a handful of provinces. Presidents Day is a diminished holiday since it was re-designated from Washington's Birthday, and, with the usual deft touch of Congress (in the Uniform Monday Holiday Act), scheduled so that it can never even fall on Washington's actual birthday. If we are meant to celebrate the grand accumulation of chief magistrates, include me out. I find the imperial excess of the modern presidency utterly revolting, and I mean that in a bipartisan sense, too. It's both unaffordable in the Brokest Nation in History, and aside from its grotesque bloat - $7-million Christmas vacations for Obama - it's also largely useless - as demonstrated a year or so back when America's money-no-object citizen-executive flew Air Force One to South Africa, accompanied by the "decoy" Air Force One, and a zillion aides, and the 40-car motorcade or whatever it's up to by now, and a bazillion Secret Service guys with reflector shades and telephone cords hanging out their ears, who dutifully "secured" the venue for the President so it was safe for him to enter, and then stood him on stage three feet from a fake interpreter for the deaf with a rap sheet that included rape, kidnapping, and membership of a murderous "necklacing" gang. The bigger the "security", the more holes in it.
But so what? President Tee-Time has been on the links for three days in California, golfing while the world burns - 21 Christians beheaded in Libya, Jews and artists shot dead in Denmark, ISIS troops surrounding a US base in Iraq... But that's no reason not to play another round: The emperor has no clothes except plus-fours.
Here's my kind of president. This is an excerpt from the newly expanded eBook edition of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, available worldwide in Kindle, Kobo, Nook (for full details, see below):
Presidents are thin on the ground in my corner of New Hampshire. There's Franklin Pierce down south, and Chester Arthur over in western Vermont (or, for believers in the original birther conspiracy, southern Quebec), but neither is any reason for a jamboree. So, for a few years, come Presidents' Day I'd drive my children over the Connecticut River and we'd zigzag down through the Green Mountain State to the Coolidge homestead in Plymouth Notch. And there, with the aid of snowshoes, we'd scramble up the three-foot drifts of the village's steep hillside cemetery to Silent Cal's grave.
Seven generations of Coolidges are buried there all in a row â€“ including Julius Caesar Coolidge, which is the kind of name I'd like to find on the ballot one November (strong on war, but committed to small government). The 30th president is as seemly and modest in death as in life, his headstone no different from those of his forebears or his sons â€“ just a plain granite marker with name and dates: in the summer, if memory serves, there's a small US flag in front - and also no snow, so that, under the years of birth and death, you can see the small American eagle that is all that distinguishes this man's gravestone from the earlier Calvin Coolidges in his line.
I do believe it's the coolest grave of any head of state I've ever stood in front of. It moves me far more than the gaudier presidential memorials. "We draw our presidents from the people, " said Coolidge. "I came from them. I wish to be one of them again." He lived the republican ideal most of America's political class merely pays lip service to.
I came to Plymouth Notch during my first winter at my new home in New Hampshire, and purchased some cheddar from the village cheese factory still owned by his son John (he sold it in 1998). So, ever afterwards, the kids and I conclude each visit by swinging by the fromagerie and buying a round of their excellent granular curd cheddar - a big cheese from the home of a man who never saw himself as one.
~excerpted from the newly expanded eBook edition of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, which can be yours within minutes - from Barnes & Noble in the US, from Indigo-Chapters in Canada, and from Amazon outlets worldwide. Click below for your nearest branch office:
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In case you missed it, here's how the last seven days looked to Mark:
It was a bad week for freedom of speech, beginning with the news from England that Wiltshire Police had demanded that local newsagents cough up the name and address of every customer who had purchased Charlie Hebdo. This was our most-read piece of the week, yet it was followed by the even more disturbing revalation that this action was not a clumsy improvisation by one bozo county copper but part of a nationwide policy directed by the chief constable in charge of "combating extremism". The week ended with yet another murderous assault on those few brave people who, unlike Her Majesty's Constabulary, are prepared to defend free speech.
~On Monday, Mark's Sinatra Centenary countdown celebrated one of the most recorded songs of all time: "Stardust."
~Tuesday saw one of the most disgusting exercises in official evasion, as senior apparatchiks at both the White House and the State Department dug in after the President's repugnant remarks on the "bunch of folks" who got killed in Paris, and insisted, at length, that there are "no Jews to see here". A few days later, just to underline the contemptible dishonesty of the Administration, there was a shooting at yet another European synagogue, this time in Copenhagen.
~On Wednesday, Mark pondered the delusions of progressive westerners: in Paris a street artist was beaten up for displaying his Co-Exist slogan, and in Syria an "aid worker" from Arizona who'd supported the "resistance" from the "minarets" was killed by the Islamic State.
~On Thursday, Mark returned to The Hugh Hewitt Show to discuss Scott Walker and the decline of a two-party system into a two-school system.
~On Friday, Mark took his cue from the President and indulged in a couple of columnar selfies, on the Bambi-boomer approach to foreign policy, and the intersection of brewing and breeding.
Saturday was Valentine's Day. We celebrated with the song for the season; a cautionary tale on vascularization from Mark's new book; and the perfect date movie - Clint Eastwood's valentine to himself.
Despite the usual procedularist delays, Mark continues to prepare for his trial against fake Nobel Laureate and Big Climate enforcer Michael E Mann. While we're waiting to get Dr Fraudpants on the witness stand, we hope you'll take a look at a new book featuring Mark and many eminent scientists called Climate Change: The Facts. It's available in Kindle at Amazon outlets worldwide, as well as in Kobo and in Nook at Barnes & Noble. And, as always, we thank those of you who've continued to support Steyn's pushback against the Clime Syndicate via SteynOnline gift certificates and other Steyn store purchases. At the end of a grim week for the cause of free speech, Mark's own book on the subject, Lights Out, seems more prescient than ever.
A new week at SteynOnline begins tonight with our Song of the Week.
Following this afternoon's murderous assault at a "discussion" on free speech in Copenhagen, there was a second attack this evening at a synagogue in the city near Krystalgade Street. One person has been shot in the head* and another two injured.
Say, wait a minute: an attack on a "bunch" of artists and writers, followed by an attack on a "bunch" of Jews? Didn't we run this story last month?
Why, yes, we did. But don't worry, that was Paris. Whereas this time it's Copenhagen. Two entirely separate cities. So, like President Obama says, it's all just entirely "random". "Bunches" here, "bunches" there, but they're all just random bunches of random folks.
If I were Jen Psaki or Josh Earnest, I would need to hose myself down every evening after peddling that much sewage all day long.
By shutting down debate on why these victims, why these perpetrators, and keeping it all nice and random, the President is objectively advancing the interests of the other side - whose modus operandi is also to shut down debate, albeit more murderously. My thoughts and prayers are with my friends in Copenhagen this evening.
*UPDATE: The man shot in the head has died.
But fortunately the leader of the free world is on top of things:
~Mark's reaction to the afternoon's events is here.
Our occasional feature, the Steyn I-Told-You-So Moment, always trembles on the brink of obnoxiousness, and one must be careful about pushing it too far. However, given that we have a president who selfies while the world burns, I hope you'll forgive a couple of columnar selfies for this Valentine's Day, prompted by items in the mail. First, Matt McWilliams writes from Florida:
Well, Matt, you have to get up pretty early to beat me to metaphors of civilizational suicide. From page 261 of After America:
We are very near that point, as Kayla Mueller's death and the reaction to it demonstrates. After America stands up pretty well, I think. Personally autographed copies are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore, and profits therefrom help to prop up my end of the interminable lawsuit from Michael E Mann, PhD (Doctor of Phraudology).
~Speaking of civilizational suicide, Maria Limpiador Tweets:
Here's the story she refers to, from Sky News:
Hmm. Oddly enough, London also has over one million Muslims. I wonder if the increasing number of Muslims and the decreasing number of boozers might be connected...
And who might those people be, eh? I said a few years back that, if some A-list ayatollah in Qom were to issue a special dispensation permitting converts the consumption of alcohol for a transitional period, the United Kingdom would already be half-Muslim. But the ancient British tradition of being face down in the pavement pizza after 17 pints on a Friday night is a tough one to abandon. Tough, but not impossible... As I wrote in America Alone:
Since I wrote those words in 2006, all those things have happened. America Alone stands up pretty well, I think. Personally autographed copies are exclusively avai ...oh, come on, Steyn, knock it off; you can't keep doing this for every prescient book you've written.
Okay then. Britain is not the only country whose demographic trends are turning its brewers into the liquid equivalent of buggy-whip makers. Six years ago, for my "Happy Warrior" column, I wrote about the intersection of brewing and breeding:
Demography changes everything. You lose not only your future but your past, too - particularly if your past is an English village whose high streets boast a handful of pubs bearing names like "The Saracen's Head" and "The George And Dragon"...
On my pre-Valentine's appearance on The Hugh Hewitt Show, there wasn't a lot of love from Howard Dean for Scott Walker. According to Dean, the Wisconsin Governor is unfit to be president because he failed to complete college:
Hugh and I also discussed the rekindling of Obama's friendship with domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, and the President's bizarre please-tie-one-hand-behind-my-back request for war authorization. You can find the full interview here.
~The Sun ain't gonna shine anymore: Viewers were always very kind about my appearances on Canada's Sun News Network - or "Fox News North", as its detractors called it. But treasure your memories. Sun News went off the air this morning. Here's a trio of eulogies from Kathy Shaidle, Gavin McInnes, Jay Currie, plus a bleak morning-after test-card from Blazing Cat Fur. For an alternative gloat-fest, see the CBC, Globe & Mail, Toronto Star et al.
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