Programming note: Today, Monday, I'll be back in the anchor chair for a full hour on America's Number One cable show, Tucker Carlson Tonight. Tucker's quiet fishing trip didn't quite turn out as uneventful as planned, at least for those who make the mistake of spending their weekends wading the sewers of Twitter. Nevertheless, we will endeavor to hold down the fort for the great man. The fun starts at 8pm Eastern, and, if you're in the presence of the receiving apparatus, I hope you'll dial us up.
~Global warm-monger Michael E Mann's defamation suit against me for maligning his hockey stick is now in its tenth year in the fetid septic tank of American "justice". Way back in early 2013, when the healthy glow of late middle-age had not yet faded from my now wizened cheeks, I asked the (if memory serves) second trial judge if we could just get the hell on with it and go to trial. He turned me down, alas. But here we are, a mere eight-and-a-half years later, and my wish has very belatedly been granted. We will be going to trial, albeit with rather fewer defendants than once were.
If you've not been keeping track of the litigious Mann's courtroom score card, here's how it stands after last week's ruling:
~Mann vs Professor Timothy Ball (British Columbia Supreme Court):
Case dismissed; Mann loses (and has been ordered to pay costs, which the bum and deadbeat has declined to do);
~Mann vs National Review (District of Columbia Superior Court):
Case dismissed; Mann loses;
~Mann vs Competitive Enterprise Institute (DC Sup Ct):
Case dismissed; Mann loses.
The links above are all to the full text of the court judgments, because Mann's doting fans always respond with, "Oh, well, that's just a news story, or a blog... It doesn't mean it's true." When he lost to Tim Ball, he told these remarkably gullible Mann-bois that he hadn't really lost, because the judge had tossed the suit before they got to trial, so it wasn't like a real defeat on the merits.
Which is a bollocks argument - like saying, ah, well, in a narrow technical sense I "failed" on the written part of the driver's test, so I never got into the car, so it's not a real fail. He did the same when he lost to National Review, but a little more perfunctorily, I thought. And, unless I've missed it, he doesn't seem to have bothered with his "losing the case is just an irrelevant technicality" with respect to CEI, so presumably even he grasps that at a certain point the arithmetic's dispositive and you can't keep insisting that that big pile of court rulings doesn't mean anything.
For what it's worth, I'm glad to be shorn of my co-defendants, if only because in an American courtroom, if you have multiple defendants all with their own legal teams, the defense table looks like a clown car, which I never feel helps you with the jury. So I'm happy it's down to Rand Simberg and me. It is less heartening that this fourth trial judge does not seem to share the same grasp of the central question of the case as his predecessor (Trial Judge Number Three), who did a grand job of shrinking the suit to its essentials. Judge Irving's ruling that, after a decade of tosspotting around, the case against me and Simberg shall now proceed to trial is not without its mordant aspects. For example, Mann's evidence of the damage he has suffered:
Dr. Mann asserts that his reputation was harmed in the community and that he began to receive disapproving glances around town after the articles were published.
That may be because he's big buddies with paedo-enabler Graham Spanier, currently banged up in the Big House for child endangerment. Ah, but you gotta laugh, haven't you? Because otherwise you'd convene a grand international conference and expel America from the Common Law world for its grotesque perversion of the functioning system it inherited.
Obviously the odds aren't good for an unlikeable foreigner in front of a DC jury, but that was true in 2012 so why worry about it all these years later?
Er, unless I'm even more unlikeable now than I was back then...
~Jackie Mason, a Borscht Belter who survived and prospered decades after the Belt fell apart, died on Saturday at the age of ninety-three. He kept going almost to the end: our own Laura Rosen Cohen linked to a column of his just a couple of weeks ago. I have no doubt that his political inclinations (Republican) cost him in these last years, but, simply considered in terms of technique and stagecraft, he was a very great comedian, and, if the grimly woke panderers of contemporary stand-up don't get that, it's because they're not really in the same business at all.
I met Jackie Mason just the once, on the BBC, getting on for three decades ago now. It was the early days of Starbucks, and I was there to do a world's-slowest-coffee routine with the wonderful Bonnie Langford, West End child star, Doctor Who's perkiest sidekick, and the indestructible trouper of troupers. I can't remember much about it, except at one point Bonnie had to say "Perk you now, grind you later", which isn't the greatest of lines but she managed to imbue it with about thirty different shades of meaning.
Anyway, Jackie Mason was also on the show, and, afterwards he asked me who our writer was. I felt it would make me look like a loser to say I'd written it myself (and, worse, that Miss Langford had improved it, as is her wont), so I promised to pass on any message to the guy. "Tell him he may be on to something," growled Mason, which I took as high praise. A few years later, I opened up The Weekly Standard to find the comic genius had worked up a macchiato routine all his own.
When I mentioned that somewhere or other circa a decade back, a few readers seemed to think I was implying Mr Mason had, as someone put it, "leveraged" Bonnie's and my shtick into his. No, no, no, not at all: his routine was pure, hilarious Jackie Mason. I only brought it up because, if you've ever been on a show with full-time professional funny men, you'll know they're not the most generous of chaps: When I used to do National Review late-night sessions with Rob Long, an aside of mine that would have the audience howling would prompt from Rob an all but imperceptible tilt of the head and slight nod, as befits the writer of "Cheers". They know too much about the form - like the Pompidou Centre, the plumbing is too obvious to them. So I was thrilled that Jackie Mason took the time to say what he did - and with hindsight I have no doubt he knew Bonnie and I had no hotshot writing team, so his very artful comment was even more touching. It meant an awful lot to me back then.
He showed one other side of him that day. When comics are interviewed on TV or radio, it's often a bit disappointing: either they're doing bits from the act, or they get trapped into solemn dissections of the art. But Jackie Mason had a particular exasperation with interviewers who'd get him on the air and then bark "Say something funny" or "Tell me a joke". He had this whole riff on how that's what he does for a living, why should he give it away? If he runs into a brain surgeon at a cocktail party, he doesn't say, okay, gimme a lobotomy. Etc. I have never seen a man being funnier about refusing to be funny than on that day. Larry Gelbart (writer of "M*A*S*H", Tootsie, Sid Caesar, etc) was also on the show, and he was very serious about being funny.
I never met Jackie Mason again, although we had a brief exchange of emails a few years back. But I admired him enormously. He lived a long life, but I would have liked it if he'd gone on till 120.
~It was a very busy weekend at SteynOnline, beginning with me in the anchor chair for the Friday edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, an hour of memorable monologues, exclusive news, and insightful interviewees. Saturday brought a new episode of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, recalling the Swedes' swingingest swinger and his South Carolina counterpart. For our weekend movie date, Rick McGinnis considered a brace of magnificent melodramas from Douglas Sirk, and our Sunday song selection celebrated the centenary of "The Sheik of Araby". There was also our monthly anthology of The Hundred Years Ago Show, and of course our marquee presentation, my latest Tale for Our Time - Jack London's Burning Daylight: As the action prepares to move from the Klondike to San Francisco, click for Part Thirteen, Part Fourteen and Part Fifteen - or go here for a good old binge-listen. Part Sixteen airs tonight, directly after Tucker.
If you were too busy hanging round fly shops in hopes that a TV host you're antipathetic to drops by, we hope you'll want to check out one or three of the foregoing as a new week begins.
Tales for Our Time and Mark Steyn's Passing Parade are special productions for The Mark Steyn Club. You can find more details about our Club here - and we also have a great gift membership.
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