Thank you for your kind (and unkind) letters from around the world. Mark reads all mail, but especially enjoys the vicious ones. Each day Monday to Friday we pick six of the best for our Daily Delivery. So drop a line to Mark's Mailbox, and on Friday if you're chosen to be the one and only Letter of the Week you'll join our roll of winners from four Continents and receive a copy of Mark Steyn From Head To Toe. Congratulations to this week's winner:
Letter of the Week
HOPEY, CHANGEY, AND UNICORNS
Mark, you may very well have seen this, but in case not, I wanted to call your attention to some great news about the Environmental Protection Agency. To wit, an article in the Thursday, July 21 Wall Street Journal (page A3) entitled, "Business Blasts Ozone Limits".
The article is about business groups' attempts to get the Obama administration to halt the EPA's imposition of even-stricter limits on ozone. It's a sad read, until I came across this nugget at the end of the seventh paragraph:
"Business groups say the costs could be significantly higher (than the EPA's cost estimate of $90 billion), because the proposal assumes the use of certain technologies yet to be developed." (italics mine)
Isn't that fantastic! The unelected regulators of the EPA are imposing rules that will stunt our already stunted economy, and estimating the costs thereof, based on technologies that don't actually exist!
Think of the possibilities: Why not create air standards based on zero toxic emissions, by assuming fossil-fuel burning planes, trains and automobiles will instead utilize engines that run on salt water? Why not? Who's going to stop them? And if pesky physics won't co-operate and actually allow such engines, well, too bad!
Extrapolating further, why not create a magical budget proposal based on a thriving economy and low interest rates? (Oh, wait, they already did that.)
Well, you get the picture. All sorts of wonderful regulations can be imposed on whatever businesses can survive this administration by simply assuming scientific wonder-technologies sure to come soon: Traffic congestion? Flying cars! The obesity crisis? French fries and ice cream that don't make you fat! Getting humans all the way to Mars? Beam me up, Scotty!
Walnut Creek, California
MULTICULTURAL MASS MURDER
Re "Islamophobia and Mass Murder":
The first list of victims released by Norwegian sources has listed the names of 20 victims, two of which are from backgrounds and have names that are Muslim (ie, 10%). It may be that the killer knew that Muslims attended the Labour Party youth camp (there seems to have been an active outreach effort on the part of the party to recruit new immigrants to Norway into its youth ranks). In any case, now we can safely say that, as far as we know, at least 10% of the identified victims were ostensibly Muslims.
Thought I'd weigh in on the discussion regarding Oslo, as I have been living here for 17 years now. (Actually, I was in Canada when it happened, but have since returned.) Like everyone else, I immediately thought it was a jihadi operation. But after some time, the press started reporting that it was the Labour Party HQ building downtown and the Labour Party summer camp that had been hit. I thought, Hmmm, that is strange. Then, as the day progressed, we learned that it was in fact a Norwegian involved. Stunned. Completely stunned by the news. Needless to say, we now know the guy is completely beyond reality and diabolically smart. A terrible combination. The Norwegian press is reporting that he has "superhero fantasies" and has been "on drugs" for some time. No doubt.
Anyway, the point I'd like to make is that I think the US press, when discussing Norway generally as "tranquil" and "peaceful", is a bit misleading. If one were to take that as meaning "docile", one would be mistaken. The people up here are, for want of a better word, tough. Just to take an example, run a Google search on "Norwegian death metal" and you will learn how these folks have taken the whole metal music scene and gone a step further (burning churches, etc). In the world of business, Norwegians punch way above their weight class. Sports, same thing. These are tough people and when they do things, they don't do it slap dash. Throw in psychosis and you end up with the Oslo massacre.
So, what happens next? Already we are seeing a resolve amongst the Norwegians to overcome this insult to their national pride. There will be very little of the American-style public grieving, public accusations and belly aching. What I find most noteworthy and inspiring is that the left is not building bonfires to roast the right at the stake. The Labour Party has been very careful not to heap blame on the political parties of the right (at least so far). More importantly, the average Joe in the street isn't doing so, at least as far as I have seen. There seems to be a tacit agreement across the political spectrum here that no one is going to allow this idiot to fracture the state, the polity. Again, toughness and resolve. All political parties in Norway are reporting a surge in membership applications in the past few days. People want to get more involved, not less.
Hopefully this can be an example to nations such as the US that even amidst the greatest adversity, we do not need to lose our resolve, our toughness, and our humanity.
ROUNDHEADS AND BLOCKHEADS
On April 20, 1653 Oliver Cromwell dissolved the English "Long Parliament" (elected in 1640) with a short, oft-quoted speech:
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining among you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man among you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd… In the name of God, go!
Ol' Ollie hit it on the head, nail-wise, eh? Maybe this speech should be read on Capitol Hill before that pack of weasels scuttles off on their August vacation like a bunch of Parisians.
Columbia, South Carolina
RIDICULOUS! RIDICULOUS! RIDICULOUS!
How can you write columns so riddled with basic factual errors and still consider yourself serious, worth listening to? Obama has proposed only $2 billion in cuts? Ridiculous. For weeks now, the White House has proposed spending cuts well over $1 trillion and the latest Dem proposals are well over $2 trillion.
Debt at 45% of GDP is an unprecedented level? Ridiculous. WWII spending took the ratio above 100%.
The GOP is the closest thing to representing voters? Ridiculous. A majority of Republicans want a deal to include revenues, so they're closer to Obama than to the GOP position.
And those are just the three most obvious howlers.
All in all, shameful. But you won't change. I wouldn't expect you to. But I do wonder if you have a conscience. Probably not.
MARK SAYS: "Basic factual errors", huh? Out of what magical fairyland did you pull that amazing statistic that US debt is at 45 per cent of GDP? Try doubling that. Douglas Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, says: "The budget is on an unsustainable path. Debt held by the public is already higher relative to GDP than it has been in more than half-a-century, and CBO projects that it will exceed its all-time high in about a dozen years under current policies." (See also Sean Egan here.)
So much for your expertise on debt-to-GDP ratio. What other "basic factual error" did I make? Oh, yeah. I wrote that Obama had proposed only $2 billion in spending cuts for fiscal year 2012. That's true. If you're arguing that he's proposing "spending cuts well over $1 trillion" for fiscal year 2012, I'd love to hear what they are. In fact, I'll make you a deal. My howler-riddled column appeared on July 16th. Send me a list of all the specific spending cuts Obama has itemised for fiscal year 2012, and I'll give you a hundred bucks for every billion over two billion dollars - and, if you can get them to add up to a trillion dollars of savings for fiscal year 2012, I'll toss in a thousand dollar bonus. C'mon, man. I'm riddled with errors, and you've got all the facts. So lay 'em on us. Â
THE WAY YOU EMASCULATE TONIGHT
"The Way You Look Tonight" is, indeed, a truly great song. I have been involved with barbershop quartets my whole life, and there has never been a better song to sing anywhere, anytime, than that one. If a broad don't melt into your arms, you ain't singin' good.
The sentiment makes everyone who really treasures their mate go gaga. What is better than someone telling you that "I love you just the way you are"? (Oh, I say! Billy Joel did it, too. Well, so has every songsmith since Ugh sang to his beloved Grunt 20,000 years ago… if he knew what was good for him!) It is truly a wonderful song. When I compare it to all the old songs I know (being a barbershop tool involves knowing the words and music to every old song in the world), you are indeed correct that it ranks very close to the pinnacle of human achievement, if not the very top.
I always enjoy these things. How do you know all this obscure stuff? Somehow I feel we may be too much in touch with our female sides. Were you raised by a mother and four sisters, too?
Keep up the good work. Nil Desparandum.