Programming note: Tomorrow, Sunday, Steyn's Song of the Week takes to the airwaves courtesy of the UK's Serenade Radio, at 5.30pm London time, right after Sing Something Simple. 5.30pm BST is 12.30pm Eastern/9.30am Pacific, which makes it a Sunday brunchy kind of show in the Americas. But, wherever you are in this turbulent world, you can listen to it by clicking on the button in the top right-hand corner here.
I'm very proud that this website now offers more free content than at any time in our eighteen-year history. But we also provide some premium content especially for those who've signed up to be Mark Steyn Club members, and I'm delighted to say this weekly serialization of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade has become one of our most popular features. Today's episode features two servants of dark and ugly regimes. First, every thug state's favorite flack in Washington:
Politics, according to Christopher Hitchens, is show business for ugly people. That being so, the ugly people need representation, and nobody built up an uglier clientele than Edward J von Kloberg III. He was the Washington lobbyist for the dictatorial A-list: Ceaușescu of Romania, Mobutu of Zaire, Saddam of Iraq, Samuel Doe of Liberia, General Abacha of Nigeria, Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda, the Myanmar military junta ... If you had enough blood on your hands, chances are you were on his books. Anyone can have an axis of evil, but von Kloberg had a full Rolodex of evil.
What they got for their lavish retainers is hard to say, but it takes a certain amount of chutzpah to bilk the Baathists. After Kloberg's money trap, we turn to the ChiComs' most audacious honey trap:
Shi was a he, although for a while that wasn't entirely clear. As a famous headline in Le Monde wondered: 'Espion ou espionne?' Spy or spy-ette? James Bond or Pussy Galore? When Bernard Boursicot first saw him across a crowded room at some enchanted diplomatic evening in Beijing in 1964, the espion was certainly a he - a slip of a lad in his mid-twenties but already an accomplished singer and actor, and socially assured. By contrast, M Boursicot was the French Embassy's accountant, a twenty-year-old schnook from the wrong side of the tracks whom the career diplomats already figured for a loser. The girls in the typing pool called him Bouricot - 'Donkey' - and not as a compliment. He was a virgin, lonely and longing for love. And there, at the centre of attention, was the glamorous young Chinaman, if that's the word...
Thank you so much for your kind comments still coming in for the Steyn Club's fourth birthday. Annie Laurie (who should really be our Song of the Week one of these weeks) writes from Texas:
Just a quick comment to say I happily renewed my membership for my third year with the club. I joined two years ago as I was inspired by your discussion of free speech in front of the bureaucratic Canadian board, and I thought it important to support your efforts. I didn't expect the gift of all your content, particularly over Covid 2020; it's truly been remarkable and enriching. Many thanks to you and your staff!
Peter from Featherston, New Zealand agrees:
I'm a great fan of The Mark Steyn Club.
Anthony from Victoria, BC:
Renewing my founding membership. See you on the cruise in October 2020. yeha!
I thought Elizabeth from North Stonington, Connecticut might be getting carried away...
Mark is a national treasure, and he's not even American!
...but it turns out it's Martin from York in England who's seriously losing it:
I'd rather go without wine than without Mark's latest!
If you've a friend who's a fan of classic literature and you want to give him or her a present with a difference, we hope you'll consider a one-year gift membership in The Mark Steyn Club. The lucky recipient will enjoy full access to our back catalogue of audio adventures and video poems - Conrad and Conan Doyle, Kipling and Kafka, and all the rest - which should keep you going until the ChiComs have exhausted their bottomless pit of "variants", or at least until the Wokesters have had all the books banned. For more details, see here.
Through all the dark machinations of "gain of function", our weekly audio adventure goes on, so do join me next weekend for Mark Steyn's Passing Parade Part Sixteen.