Image

Mark Steyn

Steyn on America

Cigars, But Not Close

The "narrative" of Ferguson, Missouri changed somewhat today. But, amid the confusion, the blundering stupidity of the city's police department remains consistent.

This morning the Police Chief, Thomas Jackson, released security-camera shots of the late Michael Brown apparently stealing a five-dollar box of cigarillos from a convenience store. So the 18-year old shot dead by Chief Jackson's officer was no longer a "gentle giant" en route to college but just another crappy third-rate violent teen n'er-do-well.

This afternoon, the chief gave a second press conference. Why would he do that? Well, he'd somehow managed to create the impression in his first press conference that the officer who killed Mr Brown was responding to the robbery. In fact, that was not the case. The Ferguson policeman was unaware that Brown was a robbery suspect at the time he encountered him and shot him dead. Which is presumably why Chief Jackson was leaned on to give his second press conference and tidy up the mess from the first. So we have an officer who sees two young men, unwanted for any crime, walking down the middle of the street and stops his cruiser. Three minutes later one of them is dead.

On the other hand, Jackson further confused matters by suggesting that he noticed Brown had cigars in his hand and might be the suspect.

It's important, when something goes wrong, to be clear about what it is that's at issue. Talking up Michael Brown as this season's Trayvonesque angel of peace and scholarship was foolish, and looting stores in his saintly memory even worse. But this week's pictures from Ferguson, such as the one above, ought to be profoundly disquieting to those Americans of a non-looting bent.

The most basic problem is that we will never know for certain what happened. Why? Because the Ferguson cruiser did not have a camera recording the incident. That's simply not credible. "Law" "enforcement" in Ferguson apparently has at its disposal tear gas, riot gear, armored vehicles and machine guns ...but not a dashcam. That's ridiculous. I remember a few years ago when my one-man police department in New Hampshire purchased a camera for its cruiser. It's about as cheap and basic a police expense as there is.

Last year, my meek mild-mannered mumsy office manager was pulled over by an angry small-town cop in breach of her Fourth Amendment rights. The state lost in court because the officer's artful narrative and the usual faked-up-after-the-fact incident report did not match the dashcam footage. Three years ago, I was pulled over by an unmarked vehicle in Vermont and (to put it mildly) erroneously ticketed. In court, I was withering about the department's policy of no dashcams for unmarked cars, and traffic cops driving around pretending to be James Bond but without the super-secret spy camera. The judge loathed me (as judges tend to), but I won that case. In 2014, when a police cruiser doesn't have a camera, it's a conscious choice. And it should be regarded as such.

And, if we have to have federal subsidy programs for municipal police departments, we should scrap the one that gives them the second-hand military hardware from Tikrit and Kandahar and replace it with one that ensures every patrol car has a camera.

As for what's happened in the days since the shooting, I've written a lot in recent months about the appalling militarization of the police in America, and I don't have much to add. But I did get a mordant chuckle out of this line from Kathy Shaidle on the green-camouflaged officers pictured above:

Shouldn't a 'Ferguson' camo pattern be, like, 7/11 & Kool-Aid logos?

Indeed. To camouflage oneself in the jungles of suburban America, one should be clothed in Dunkin' Donuts and Taco Bell packaging. A soldier wears green camo in Vietnam to blend in. A policeman wears green camo in Ferguson to stand out - to let you guys know: We're here, we're severe, get used to it.

This is not a small thing. The point about "the thin blue line" is that it's blue for a reason. As I wrote a couple of months ago:

"The police" is a phenomenon of the modern world. It would be wholly alien, for example, to America's Founders. In the sense we use the term today, it dates back no further than Sir Robert Peel's founding of the Metropolitan Police in 1829. Because Londoners associated the concept with French-style political policing and state control, they were very resistant to the idea of a domestic soldiery keeping them in line. So Peel dressed his policemen in blue instead of infantry red, and instead of guns they had wooden truncheons.

So, when the police are dressed like combat troops, it's not a fashion faux pas, it's a fundamental misunderstanding of who they are. Forget the armored vehicles with the gun turrets, forget the faceless, helmeted, anonymous Robocops, and just listen to how these "policemen" talk. Look at the video as they're arresting the New York Times and Huffington Post reporters. Watch the St Louis County deputy ordering everyone to leave, and then adding: "This is not up for discussion."

Really? You're a constable. You may be carrying on like the military commander of an occupying army faced with a rabble of revolting natives, but in the end you're a constable. And the fact that you and your colleagues in that McDonald's are comfortable speaking to your fellow citizens like this is part of the problem. The most important of the "nine principles of good policing" (formulated by the first two commissioners of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 and thereafter issued to every officer joining the force) is a very simple one: The police are the public and the public are the police. Not in Ferguson. Long before the teargassing begins and the bullets start flying, the way these guys talk is the first indication of how the remorseless militarization has corroded the soul of American policing.

Which brings us back to the death of Michael Brown. Let's assume for the sake of argument that everything the police say about this incident is correct. In that case, whether or not the fatal shooting of Mr Brown is a crime, it's certainly a mistake. When an unarmed shoplifter* in T-shirt and shorts with a five-buck cigar box in one hand has to be shot dead, you're doing it wrong.

American police have grown too comfortable with the routine use of lethal force. To reprise a few statistics I cited three months ago:

So the biggest government in the free world chooses not to keep statistics on how many people get shot by law enforcement. So be it. It does keep figures on "justifiable homicide", which it defines as "the killing of a felon by a law enforcement official in the line of duty". When is a police homicide not "justifiable"? Ah, well. At any rate, for 2012, the corpse count was 410.

By comparison, for the years 2012 and 2013 in England and Wales:

'No fatal police shootings.'

In the Netherlands:

'The average for the last 35 years is three dead and 15 injured...'

In Germany, a nation of 80 million people, police in 2011 fatally shot six persons. In Denmark, police shot 11 people in 11 years, and this was felt to be so disturbing that the National Police Commissioner held an inquiry into why his cops had gotten so trigger-happy. In Australia, 41 people were shot by police in eight years, and the then Justice Minister Amanda Vanstone (whose friend thinks I'm "eminently shaggable", but I digress) thought that that was too high. In Iceland, police have fatally shot just one suspect. That's one guy in the entire history of the country. He was killed by police last December.

So comparisons between the kill rates from American police and those of other developed nations aren't worth bothering with. Indeed, the "justifiable homicides" of US cops are more like the total murder count for other advanced societies:

In Oz, the total number of murders per year is about 270, so a nation of 23 million would have to increase by 50 per cent to commit as many homicides as American law enforcement. In Canada, whose urban police departments have absorbed certain American practices, a dozen or so people get shot dead by cops each year, which is again somewhat short of the US rate. Indeed, that 2012 "justifiable homicide" figure of 410 compares to a total Canadian homicide count for 2011 of 598. In other words, in America 120,000 or so full-time law enforcement officers rack up the same number of homicides as about 24 million Canadians.

That strikes me as on the high side.

In Ferguson, both parties agree that the first shot was fired from inside the car. The rest were fired by the officer when he'd got out of the car, with Chief Jackson conceding there could have been ten bullets fired. For purposes of comparison:

In 2011 the German police fired 85 bullets. That's all of them. The entire police force. The whole country. Eighty-five bullets in one year. That's seven bullets per month. One bullet for every million German citizens.

So the Ferguson PD used as many bullets on Michael Brown as the Polizei used on ten million Germans. But, by American standards, that's relatively restrained. The same year as those German figures - 2011 - the Miami PD blew through the Polizei's annual bullet allowance on just one traffic incident:

Police killed Raymond Herisse, 22, of Boynton Beach in a barrage of gunfire after they said he refused an order to pull over while speeding down a crowded Collins Avenue in his Hyundai...

Twelve officers – from Miami Beach and Hialeah – unleashed more than 100 rounds at Herisse, police said. The hail of bullets also struck and wounded three bystanders.

By comparison, those 85 German bullets per annum were aimed somewhat more precisely:

85 Patronen verfeuerten Polizeibeamte in Deutschland im Jahr 2011 bundesweit auf der Jagd nach Verbrechern, 49 davon waren Warnschüsse. 36-mal gaben die Polizisten gezielte Schüsse ab. Dabei wurden 15 Personen verletzt und sechs getötet, wie aus einer Statistik der Deutschen Hochschule der Polizei im westfälischen Münster hervorgeht.

That's to say, of those 85 bullets, 49 were warning shots. America no longer does "the warning shot". But whatever happened to "the shot"? With the 36 non-warning bullets fired by German police that year, they killed six people and wounded fifteen. That's a bullet-and-three-quarters per target. Whether shooting to kill or to disable, they're trying to do it with a single shot. American policing takes a third of Germany's annual bullet allowance just to off a dog:

In July, three officers fired 26 shots at a pit bull that had bitten a chunk out of an officer's leg in a Bronx apartment building. And there have been other episodes: in 1995, in the Bronx, officers fired 125 bullets during a bodega robbery, with one officer firing 45 rounds.

Just what happened on Saturday is still being investigated. Police experts, however, suggested in interviews yesterday that contagious shooting played a role in a fatal police shooting in Queens Saturday morning. According to the police account, five officers fired 50 shots at a bridegroom who, leaving his bachelor party at a strip club, twice drove his car into a minivan carrying plainclothes police officers investigating the club.

The bridegroom, Sean Bell, who was to be married hours later, was killed, and two of his friends were wounded, one critically.

Three months ago I asked this question:

Are American civilians so different from Europeans or Aussies or Kiwis or Canadians that they have to be policed as if they're cornered rebels in an ongoing civil war?

A startling number of American readers wrote to say, with remarkable insouciance, that the US could not afford the luxury of First World policing. Large tracts of America had too many illegal immigrants, drug gangs, racial grievances, etc. Maybe. But the problem is that, increasingly, this is the only style of law enforcement America's police culture teaches - not only for the teeming favelas, but for the leafy suburbs and the rural backwaters and the college-town keg party, too.

Which is to say that one day, unless something changes, we will all be policed like Ferguson.

~

*NOTE: Several readers have queried my use of the term "shoplifter", insisting that this was a "strongarm robbery", the phrase du jour. It's not clear whether, legally speaking, this was any kind of robbery, in the sense of a prosecutable crime: The store owner did not report any theft and did not volunteer the video as evidence. Instead, the Ferguson PD went to a judge to get a court order to make the store owner cough it up on the grounds that it might contain something useful to them.

And then the chief says he had no choice but to release it because he was getting Freedom of Information requests for it. Which makes even less sense...

from Steyn on America, August 15, 2014

 

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Emails

The IRS is openly sneering at us now

Continue Reading

"Harmless as an Enemy, Treacherous as a Friend"

"I have only committed the mistake of believing in you, the Americans."

Continue Reading

Inequality Before the Law

The curious selectivity of "campaign finance" enforcement...

Continue Reading

The Road We're Kicking the Can Down

Three portents of decay - plus a bonus one

Continue Reading

The National Disgrace of Fort Hood

America dishonors the victims of Major Hasan, and adds insult to grievous injuries

Continue Reading

Introducing ObamaCow

If you like your cow, you can keep your cow

Continue Reading

The Two-Party One-Party State

The Republican Party is "simply not good enough"

Continue Reading

America Takes Early Retirement

Obama's courtiers hail a world without work

Continue Reading

Knockouts High and Low

On November 22, 1963, two other notable men died, and got relegated to the foot of page 37...

Continue Reading

Thus Spake Obama

If you like your cake, you can keep your cake

Continue Reading

A Phalanx of Lies

A uniquely fraudulent governmentalization of health care

Continue Reading

Obamacare's Magical Thinkers

If you're looking for an epitaph for the republic...

Continue Reading

Potemkin Parliament

The least dispiriting moment of another grim week in Washington was the sight of ornery veterans tearing down the Barrycades around the war memorials on the National Mall, dragging them up the street, and dumping them outside the White House...

Continue Reading

Shutdown Simulacrum

The shutdown that isn't a shutdown, the ceiling that isn't a ceiling, and the rollout that isn't a rollout...

Continue Reading

Worse Is the New Normal

A few years ago, after the publication of my book America Alone, an exasperated reader wrote to advise me to lighten up, on the grounds that "we're rich enough to be stupid."

Continue Reading

Next stop, banana republic

"This is the United States of America," declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Missouri, on Friday. "We're not some banana republic."

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. "This is not a deadbeat nation," President Obama continued. "We don't run out on our tab." True. But we don't pay it off, either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, "Mebbe you've had enough, pal," we protest, "Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set 'em up, Joe." And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you'd run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

Still, Obama is right. We're not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own – i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you're the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, "Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt." I won't even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling "has been done over a hundred times" does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque.

Continue Reading

An Accidental War

I see the Obama "reset" is going so swimmingly that the president is now threatening to go to war against a dictator who gassed his own people. Don't worry, this isn't anything like the dictator who gassed his own people that the discredited warmonger Bush spent 2002 and early 2003 staggering ever more punchily around the country inveighing against...

Continue Reading

Obamacare's Hierarchy of Privilege

On his radio show the other day, Hugh Hewitt asked me about running for the Senate from New Hampshire. My pollsters and PACs haven't fine-tuned every detail of my platform just yet, but I can say this without a doubt...

Continue Reading

Idiot Big Brother

On Thursday, the Washington Post's revelation of thousands upon thousands of National Security Agency violations included this fascinating detail...

Continue Reading

Know Thine Enemy

On December 7, 1941, the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor was attacked. Three years, eight months, and eight days later, the Japanese surrendered.

These days, America's military moves at a more leisurely pace. On November 5, 2009, another U.S. base, Fort Hood, was attacked — by one man standing on a table, screaming "Allahu akbar!" and opening fire.

Three years, nine months, and one day later, his court-martial finally got under way...

Continue Reading

Lords of the Transition Team

Let us put aside, as he so rarely does, Anthony Weiner's spambot penis, and consider his wife and putative first lady...

Continue Reading

The Downfall of Detroit

To achieve this level of devastation, you usually have to be invaded by a foreign power...

Continue Reading

A Dagger at the Heart of Justice

Just when I thought the George Zimmerman "trial" couldn't sink any lower, the prosecutorial limbo dancers of the State of Florida magnificently lowered their own bar in the final moments of their cable-news celebrity...

Continue Reading

The Simulacrum of Self-Government

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 — just another day in a constitutional republic of limited government by citizen representatives...

Continue Reading

Big Politically Correct Brother

Every time I go on his show, my radio pal Hugh Hewitt asks me why congressional Republicans aren't doing more to insist that the GOP suicide note known as "the immigration deal" include a requirement for a border fence. I don't like to tell Hugh that, if they ever get around to building the fence, it won't be to keep the foreigners out but to keep you guys in...

Continue Reading

The All-Seeing State

A few years ago, after one corruption scandal too many, the then Liberal government in Canada announced that, to prevent further outbreaks of malfeasance, it would be hiring 300 new federal auditors plus a bunch of ethics czars, and mandating "integrity provisions" in government contracts, including "prohibitions against paying, offering, demanding or accepting bribes." There were already plenty of laws against bribery, but one small additional sign on the desk should do the trick: "Please do not attempt to bribe the Minister of the Crown as a refusal may offend. Also: He's not allowed to bribe you, whatever he says." A government that requires "integrity provisions" is by definition past the stage where they will do any good.

Continue Reading

The Lois Lerner Defense

The IRS advances to "pre-auditing"

Continue Reading

The Autocrat Accountants

When everything's a tax issue

Continue Reading

The Benghazi Lie

A failure of character

Continue Reading

The Immigration Transformation

Most countries in the world have irrelevant numbers of "immigrants." In the Americas, for example, only Canada, America, and the British West Indies have significant non-native populations. In Mexico, immigrants account for 0.6 percent of the population, and that generally negligible level prevails all the way down through Latin America until you hit a blip of 1.4 percent with Chile and 3.8 percent in Argentina. There's an isolated exception in Belize, which, like the English Caribbean, has historical patterns of internal migration within the British Commonwealth, such as one sees, for example, in the number of New Zealand–born residents of Australia. But profound sweeping demographic transformation through immigration is a phenomenon only of the Western world in the modern era, and even there America leads the way.

Over 20 percent of all the immigrants on the planet are in the United States. The country's foreign-born population has doubled in the last two decades to 40 million — officially...

Continue Reading

The Collapsing of the American Skull

One of the most ingenious and effective strategies of the Left on any number of topics is to frame the debate and co-opt the language so effectively that it becomes all but impossible even to discuss the subject honestly. Take the brothers Tsarnaev, the incendiary end of a Chechen family that in very short time has settled aunts, uncles, sisters, and more across the map of North America from Massachusetts to New Jersey to my own home town of Toronto. Maybe your town has a Tsarnaev, too: There seems to be no shortage of them, except, oddly, back in Chechnya...

Continue Reading

Co-Existing with the Caucasian Killers

This has been a strange and deadly week in America. On Monday, two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon, the first successful terrorist attack on a civilian target on American soil since 9/11.

In America, all atrocities are not equal...

Continue Reading

Government-by-fake-disaster-movie

A few weeks ago, Ann Coulter announced that she was bored of American politics and spending her days watching Turner Classic Movies. I confess that, when it comes to Beltway melodrama, I, too, am fighting vainly the old ennu...

Continue Reading

Magical Fairyland budgeting

"I'm also issuing a new goal for America," declared President Obama at his "State of the Union" on Tuesday. We'll come to the particular "goal" he "issued" momentarily, but before we do, consider that formulation: Did you know the president of the United States is now in the business of "issuing goals" for his subjects to live up to?

Strange how the monarchical urge persists even in a republic two-and-a-third centuries old. Many commentators have pointed out that the modern State of the Union is in fairly obvious mimicry of the Speech from the Throne that precedes a new legislative session in British Commonwealth countries and Continental monarchies, but this is to miss the key difference. When the Queen or her viceroy reads a Throne Speech in Westminster, Ottawa or Canberra, it's usually the work of a government with a Parliamentary majority: in other words, the stuff she's announcing is actually going to happen. That's why, lest any enthusiasm for this or that legislative proposal be detected, the apolitical monarch overcompensates by reading everything in as flat and unexpressive a monotone as possible. Underneath the ancient rituals – the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod getting the door of the House of Commons slammed in his face three times – it's actually a very workmanlike affair.

Continue Reading

Easy to see why Tehran endorses Hagel

You don't have to be that good to fend off a committee of showboating senatorial blowhards. Hillary Clinton demonstrated that a week or so back when she unleashed what's apparently the last word in withering putdowns: What difference does it make?

Continue Reading

Hillary lip-synced more than Beyoncé

If I'm following this correctly, according to one spokesperson for the Marine Corps Band, at Monday's Inauguration Beyoncé lip-synced to the national anthem but the band accompanied her live. However, according to a second spokesperson, it was the band who were pretending to play to a tape while Beyoncé sang along live. So one or the other of them was faking it. Or maybe both were. Or neither...

Continue Reading

What Is the Future of Conservatism?

Not to be too pedantic, but for there to be a "future of conservatism in America" there first has to be a future in America. And that's a more open question than my more optimistic comrades like to admit. The Brokest Nation in History has just told the rest of the world that it is incapable of serious course correction–and around the planet prudent friends and enemies will begin planning for a post-American order.

Continue Reading

Hagel vs. too-big-to-fail Defense Department

If you had buttonholed me in the Senate men's room circa 2003 and told me that a decade hence Joe Biden would be America's vice president, John Kerry Secretary of State, and Chuck Hagel Secretary of Defense, I'd have laughed and waited for the punch line: The Leahy administration?

Continue Reading

Senate plan ignores key to shrinking debt?

(Video) Mark on the fiscal cliff from Fox & Friends...

Continue Reading

Two months of arguing over 10 hours of savings

The politics of the "fiscal cliff" deal is debatable: On the one hand, Boehner got the "Bush tax cuts" made permanent for most Americans; Obama was forced to abandon his goal of increasing rates for those earning $250,000. On the other, on taxes Republicans caved to the same class-warfare premises (the rich need to pay their "fair share") they'd successfully fought off a mere two years ago; while on spending the Democrats not only refused to make cuts, they refused to make cuts even part of the discussion.

Which of the above is correct? Who cares? As I said, the politics is debatable. But the reality isn't. I hate to keep plugging my book "After America" in this space, but if you buy multiple copies they'll come in very useful for insulating your cabin after the power grid collapses. At any rate, right up there at the front – page six – I write as follows:

Continue Reading

Not the absurdity he thought he was exposing

A week ago on NBC's "Meet The Press," David Gregory brandished on screen a high-capacity magazine. To most media experts, a "high-capacity magazine" means an ad-stuffed double-issue of Vanity Fair with the triple-page perfume-scented pullouts. But apparently in America's gun-nut gun culture of gun-crazed gun kooks, it's something else entirely, and it was this latter kind that Mr. Gregory produced in order to taunt Wayne LaPierre of the NRA.

Continue Reading

The Massacre of the Innocents

"Lullay, Thou little tiny Child

By by, lully, lullay..."

The 16th-century Coventry Carol, a mother's lament for her lost son, is the only song of the season about the other children of Christmas...

Continue Reading

The Doctor Won't See You Now

A few years ago, my small local hospital asked a Senate staffer if she could assist them in obtaining federal money for a new building. So she did, expediting the process by which that particular corner of northern New Hampshire was deemed to be "under-served" and thus eligible for the fed gravy...

Continue Reading

America not paying its fair share

Previously on "The Perils of Pauline":

Last year, our plucky heroine, the wholesome apple-cheeked American republic, was trapped in an express elevator hurtling out of control toward the debt ceiling. Would she crash into it? Or would she make some miraculous escape..?

Continue Reading

Jill Kelley for secretary of state

Let us turn from the post-Thanksgiving scenes of inflamed mobs clubbing each other to the ground for a discounted television set to the comparatively placid boulevards of the Middle East...

Continue Reading

Reality doesn't need to win Electoral College

Amid the ruin and rubble of the grey morning after, it may seem in poor taste to do anything so vulgar as plug the new and stunningly topical paperback edition of my book, "After America" – or, as Dennis Miller retitled it on the radio the other day, "Wednesday"...

Continue Reading

Biggest Big Government can't keep lights on

In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era...

Continue Reading

Benghazi bungle requires act of urgent political hygiene

"We're going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video," said Hillary Clinton. No, not the person who made the video saying that voting for Barack Obama is like losing your virginity to a really cool guy. I'll get to that in a moment. But Secretary Clinton was talking about the fellow who made the supposedly Islamophobic video that supposedly set off the sacking of the Benghazi consulate. And, indeed, she did "have that person arrested..."

Continue Reading

Democrats find their issue, in a binder

So the other morning a reader emails me a picture of a handful of women demonstrating outside the headquarters of the Ohio Republican Party – in what we expert analysts round about this point in the quadrennial election cycle like to call the critical battleground of the Buckeye State. The women each wore two giant pieces of cardboard, front and back. Ah, I thought, a timely protest...

Continue Reading

Step Aside, Reporters — Poets Take On The Debate

(AUDIO) Pundits and reporters, step aside — we have poets with their thoughts on Wednesday night's presidential debate. One from the right, Mark Steyn, and the other from the left, Calvin Trillin.

Continue Reading

Will Big Bird ever leave the government nest?

Apparently, Frank Sinatra served as Mitt Romney's debate coach. As he put it about halfway through "That's Life":

"I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly ... ."

That's what Mitt did in Denver. Ten minutes in, he jumped right on Big Bird, and then he took off – and never looked back, while the other fellow, whose name escapes me, never got out of the gate. It takes a certain panache to clobber not just your opponent but also the moderator. Yet that's what the killer Mormon did when he declared that he wasn't going to borrow money from China to pay for Jim Lehrer and Big Bird on PBS. It was a terrific alpha-male moment, not just in that it rattled Lehrer, who seemed too preoccupied contemplating a future reading the hog prices on the WZZZ Farm Report to regain his grip on the usual absurd format, but in the sense that it indicated a man entirely at ease with himself – in contrast to wossname, the listless sourpuss staring at his shoes.

Continue Reading

The President of Tomorrow, and the wreckage of today

One of the reasons why Barack Obama is regarded as the greatest orator of our age is that he's always banging on about some other age yet to come – e.g., the Future!

Continue Reading

'Barack & Hillary at the movies'

I see the Obama campaign has redesigned the American flag, and very attractive it is, too. Replacing the 50 stars of a federal republic is the single "O" logo symbolizing the great gaping maw of spendaholic centralization. And where the stripes used to be are a handful of red daubs, eerily mimicking the bloody finger streaks left on the pillars of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi as its staff were dragged out by a mob of savages to be tortured and killed. What better symbol could one have of American foreign policy? Who says the slick, hollow, vapid marketing of the Obama campaign doesn't occasionally intersect with reality?

Continue Reading

Choice not part of this future

According to Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, invited to address the Democratic convention and the nation, America faces a stark choice this November...

Continue Reading

Racist dog whistles and the men who hear them

American racism is starting to remind me of American alcoholism. At the founding of the republic, in the days when beer was thought of as "liquid bread" and a healthy nutritional breakfast, Americans drank about three-to-four times as much as they do now. Today the United States has a lower per capita rate of alcohol consumption than almost any other developed nation, but it has more alcoholism support groups than any other developed nation...

Continue Reading

War on women? The real war is on children

The Democratic Party, never inclined to look a gift horse in the mouth, does have a tendency to flog him to death. So it is with a fellow called Todd Akin, a GOP Senate candidate who unburdened himself of some ill-advised thoughts on abortion and "legitimate rape," and put Missouri back in play for the Democrats. Less-ambitious political parties would be content with that little windfall, but the Dems have decided to make – what's his name again? Oh, yeah – this guy Akin the face of the Republican Party...

Continue Reading

Half-wit demagoguery, hard truths

Americans, according to a Winston Churchill quote of uncertain provenance, always do the right thing after they've exhausted all other possibilities. More verifiably, Sir Winston, upon being asked if he had any criticism of the United States, replied tersely: "Toilet paper too thin, newspapers too fat." But that was then. Today, America is a land of two-ply toilet paper and one-ply newspapers...

Continue Reading

Obama the great disabler

The other day, I passed a Republican Party county office here in my home state, its window attractively emblazoned with placards declaring "Believe in America. Romney 2012" and "New Hampshire Believes. Romney 2012."

Continue Reading

Obama builds roadblocks, not roads

On the evidence of last week's Republican campaign events, President Obama's instant classic – "You didn't build that" – is to Mitt Romney what that radioactive arachnid is to Spider-Man: It got under his skin, and, in an instant, the geeky stiff was transformed into a muscular Captain Capitalism swinging through the streets and deftly squirting his webbing all over Community-Organizerman. Rattled by the reborn Romney, the Obama campaign launched an attack on Romney's attack on Obama's attack on American business. First they showed Romney quoting Obama: "He said, 'If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.'" And then the Obama team moved in for the kill: "The only problem? That's not what he said." Indeed. What Obama actually said was: "If you've got a business, you, you didn't build that. [Interjection by fawning supporters: "Yeeaaaaah!"] "Somebody else made that happen."

Continue Reading

Lights out for U.S.-style Big Government

...No advanced society has ever attempted Big Government for a third of a billion people – because it cannot be done without creating a nation with the black-hole finances of Stockton, California, and the recent Black-Hole-of-Calcutta fetid, airless, sweatbox utility services of Rockville, Maryland...

Continue Reading

A lie makes Obamacare legal

Three months ago, I quoted George Jonas on the 30th anniversary of Canada's ghastly "Charter of Rights and Freedoms": "There seems to be an inverse relationship between written instruments of freedom, such as a Charter, and freedom itself," wrote Jonas. "It's as if freedom were too fragile to be put into words: If you write down your rights and freedoms, you lose them."

Continue Reading

Earthly woes mount as Obama's rhetoric soars

Round about this time in the election cycle, a presidential challenger finds himself on the stump and posing a simple test to voters: "Ask yourself – are you better off now than you were four years ago?"

Continue Reading

Eternally shifting sands of Obama's biography

It used to be a lot simpler. As E.C. Bentley deftly summarized it in 1905: "Geography is about maps But Biography is about chaps." But that was then, and now Biography is also about maps. For example, have you ever thought it would be way cooler to have been born in colonial Kenya? Whoa, that sounds like crazy Birther talk; don't go there!

Continue Reading

America's Slow Suicide

Mark tells Charles Adler why he believes America is in the midst of a slow suicide.

Continue Reading

The Michael Graham Show

Mark joins Michael to discuss John O'Sullivan's upcoming appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire and more...

Continue Reading

Democrats should let sleeping dogs lie

A couple of days ago, Obama campaign top dog David Axelrod threw in the towel on the dog war. "I thought it was a little absurd to talk about what the President had done as a 10-year-old boy," he sniffed to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, which is as near as the suddenly sheepish attack dog will ever get to conceding that Barack Obama is the first dog-eating president in the history of the Republic...

Continue Reading

Buying 'Buffett Rule' makes you a fool

In the end, free societies get the governments they deserve. So, if the American people wish to choose their chief executive on the basis of the "war on women," the Republican theocrats' confiscation of your contraceptives, or whatever other mangy and emaciated rabbit the Great Magician produces from his threadbare topper, they are free to do so, and they will live with the consequences...

Continue Reading

Wait and see how flexible he'll be

As Bob Hope and Bing Crosby observed in "The Road To Bali": "He gets his shirts straight from Paris Cigarettes from the Nile He talks like a highbrow But he plays Chicago style..."

Continue Reading

Land of legalisms

ObamaCare is an affront to self-government: It's not just that the legislators who legislate it don't know what's in it, nor that citizens can ever hope to understand it, but that even the nation's most eminent judges acknowledge that it is beyond individual human comprehension.

Continue Reading

Gradual insolvency about to speed up

I was in Australia earlier this month, and there, as elsewhere on my recent travels, the consensus among the politicians I met (at least in private) was that Washington lacked the will for meaningful course correction, and that, therefore, the trick was to ensure that, when the behemoth goes over the cliff, you're not dragged down with it. It is faintly surreal to be sitting in paneled offices lined by formal portraits listening to eminent persons who assume the collapse of the dominant global power is a fait accompli. "I don't feel America is quite a First World country anymore," a robustly pro-American Aussie told me, with a sigh of regret...

Continue Reading

America's longest war will leave no trace

Say what you like about Afghans, but they're admirably straightforward. The mobs outside the bases enflamed over the latest Western affront to their exquisitely refined cultural sensitivities couldn't put it any plainer: "Die, die, foreigners!" And foreigners do die. U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John Loftis, 44, and Army Maj. Robert Marchanti II, 48, lost their lives not on some mission out on the far horizon in wild tribal lands in the dead of night but in the offices of the Afghan Interior Ministry. In a "secure room" that required a numerical code to access. Gunned down by an Afghan "intelligence officer." Who then departed the scene of the crime unimpeded by any of his colleagues.

Continue Reading

The all-you-can-eat salad bar of rights

CNN's John King did his best the other night, producing a question from one of his viewers: "Since birth control is the latest hot topic, which candidate believes in birth control, and if not, why?" To their credit, no Republican candidate was inclined to accept the premise of the question. King might have done better to put the issue to Danica Patrick. For some reason, Michelle Fields of The Daily Caller sought the views of the NASCAR driver and Sports Illustrated swimwear model about "the Obama administration's dictate that religious employers provide health care plans that cover contraceptives." Miss Patrick, a practicing Catholic, gave the perfect citizen's response for the Age of Obama: "I leave it up to the government to make good decisions for Americans."

Continue Reading

Sorry, Newt. Only the debt ceiling will reach the moon.

Had I been asked to deliver the State of the Union address, it would not have delayed your dinner plans: "The State of our Union is broke, heading for bankrupt, and total collapse shortly thereafter. Thank you and goodnight! You've been a terrific crowd!"

Continue Reading

GOP not so 'Grand'

VIDEO: The Republican primary process hasn't left Mark Steyn filled with hope for the near future. Find out why in this interview with Michael Coren on The Arena.

Continue Reading

Ron Paul beckons GOP to Fortress America

In the 2010 election the New Hampshire Republican Party took 298 out of 400 House seats, 19 out of 24 state Senate seats, and all five seats on the Executive Council. A little over a year later, in the state's presidential primary, the same (more or less) electorate gave over 56 percent of its votes to a couple of moneyed "moderates," one of whom served in the Obama administration and the other of whom left no trace in office other than the pilot program for Obamacare. Another 23 percent voted for Ron Paul.

Continue Reading

Politics trumps Left's empathy

Lest you doubt that we're headed for the most vicious election year in memory, consider the determined effort, within 10 minutes of his triumph in Iowa, to weirdify Rick Santorum

Continue Reading

Our Sick State

A couple of months back, I was with a friend of mine when she suddenly collapsed and I found myself having to run her to the emergency room. After a fairly harrowing 14 hours, the hospital released her, the doctor writing her a prescription for the still-very-intense pain she was in. So we stopped at her local Kinney Drugs in Vermont. Despite having been called in by the doc, the prescription wasn't ready. Come back in an hour. Heigh-ho. So we left it an hour and a half, and then, not wishing ...

Continue Reading

THE COCOON OF DENIAL

Ring in the same old same old

Continue Reading

THE GINGRICH GESTALT

Newt's world is one of more government, more bureaucracy, more dependency

Continue Reading

MORE MORE MORE. HOW DO YOU LIKE IT?

As the SS Spendaholic heads for the abyss, Steyn proposes a new national anthem

 

NO MAN'S LAND

Steyn on Penn State: What's illegal, what's wrong, and what's the difference.

Continue Reading

AUSTERITY FEVER GRIPS WASHINGTON!

...from the Superfriends' Supercommittee to the Social Security lifestyle glossy

Continue Reading

REVOLUTION KARAOKE

The grand convergence of the non-productive classes

Continue Reading

DIAPER CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN

It's Awareness-Raising Day Awareness Day!

Continue Reading

MOMENTARY MADNESS

The youth of "Occupy Wall Street" share the same assumptions as their parents and grandparents

Continue Reading

BIG SLOTH AND THE AMERICAN AUTUMN

It's American Autumn ...and you know what comes after that: America's college kids demand more government-funded lethargy

Continue Reading

SOFT SELL, HARD CONSEQUENCES

There was no due diligence on Obama in 2008, and the press has no plans to change that.

Continue Reading

IN THE DANGER ZONE

'It's the end of the world as we know it," sang the popular musical artistes R.E.M. many years ago. And it is. R.E.M. has announced that they're splitting up after almost a third of a century. But these days who isn't? The eurozone, the world's first geriatric boy band, is on the verge of busting apart. Chimerica (Prof. Niall Ferguson's amusing name for the Chinese-American economic partnership that started around the same time R.E.M. did) is going the way of Wham!, with Beijing figuring it's ...

Continue Reading

THE "PASS THIS BILL NOW!" BILL

The president has taken to the campaign trail to promote his American Jobs Act. That's a good name for it: an act. "Pass this bill now!" he declared 24 times at a stop in in Raleigh, North Carolina, and another 18 in Columbus, Ohio, and the act is sufficiently effective that, three years into the Vapidity of Hope, the president can still find crowds of true believers willing to chant along with him: "Pass this bill now!" Not all supporters are content merely to singalong with the ...

Continue Reading

THE HOLE AT THE CENTER

Guest-hosting for Rush on Friday, I mentioned that, for a writer, one of the pleasures of doing the show is that a listener's call will start your mind heading to places it might never have got to if you were just sitting in a room typing away. One example of that occurred last year when I was hosting the show during the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, and my resulting riff attracted a lot of commentary. I subsequently expanded my thoughts in After America, and it seems appropriate to excerpt ...

Continue Reading

LIFE, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT

That thoughtful observer of the passing parade, Nancy Pelosi, weighed in on the "debt ceiling" negotiations the other day: "What we're trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today." It's always good to have things explained in terms we simpletons can understand. After a while, all the stuff about debt-to-GDP ratio and CBO alternative baseline scenarios starts to give you a bit of a headache, so we should be grateful to ...

Continue Reading

Follow Mark

Facebook   Twitter   RSS   Join Mailing List

Search SteynOnline.com

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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