Good news for fake Nobel Laureate Michael E Mann. Iran is launching an Islamic Nobel Prize to be named after Mustafa (ie, Mohammed). Given that he wants it so badly, maybe we can nominate Dr Mann for a Mustafa Prize.
~Speaking of "climate change", did you stay up all night to watch the all-night Senate "debate"? Me neither. Sitting in for Rush yesterday, I breezily compared the Senate's so-called "talkathon" to Kim Jong-Un's impressive 100 per cent of the vote on a 100 per cent voter turnout in his "election" to North Korea's "legislative assembly". Senators Barbara Boxer, Sheldon Whitehouse, Angus King and the rest of the "Senate Climate Action Task Force" were engaging in an act of parliamentary fakery quite as absurd as Kim's "election".
For a start, it was not a filibuster: Usually, when someone goes full Jimmy Stewart and stands on his feet and talks for hours, it's to try to block a piece of legislation. But there was no legislation before the Senate. So the Democrats were just talking for the sake of talking. Which in turn raises the question of why there isn't any bill to debate. After all, Democrats control the Senate. So, if they want to pass a climate-change bill, they can do so any time they want. Instead, they decided to engage in an act of theatre, using the chamber of the Senate as a stage set on which to act out their lame summer-stock let's-do-the-show-right-here-in-the-Senate version of Mr Smith Goes To Washington.
And even then, unlike Kim Jong-Un with his ersatz election to a pseudo-legislature, the Democrats couldn't get it right. Unlike, say, the Australian Parliament, which I always enjoy dropping in on when I'm Down Under, in Washington the so-called "world's greatest deliberative body" can't deliberate anything. There are no real debates there, ever. When you switch on C-Span, you'll occasionally see a senator delivering a speech to an empty chamber. If you think watching a man reading a speech written by his staffers out loud to himself is the height of rhetorical panache, then last night was a triumph. Round about 1.30am, I tuned in and the Delaware guy, I think, was droning out a beyond-Oscar list of thank-yous to all the people who made his speech possible - senate staffers, senate pagers, senate janitors, senate busboys... Even if you genuinely take the climate-alarmism line, this was yawnsville stuff. Even Mustafa Prize nominee Michael E Mann found his enthusiasm, like his hockey stick, hard to keep up:
I think the nature of the US Senate (no genuine debate, speeches written by junior members of the entourage) leads to the nature of US Senators (portentous drones who are the creatures of minders). Something needs to change, because this level of bloated money-no-object simulacrum of legislative debate ought to be an insult to the citizenry.
~Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, the divergence between the climate models and reality is ever greater. In other news, it may not all be the fault of your carbon footprint:
Changes in the sun's energy output may have led to marked natural climate change in Europe over the last 1000 years, according to researchers at Cardiff University.
You don't say!
Slight changes in the transport of heat associated with these systems can lead to regional climate variability, and the study findings matched historic accounts of climate change, including the notoriously severe winters of the 16th and 18th centuries which pre-date global industrialisation.
The study found that changes in the Sun's activity can have a considerable impact on the ocean-atmospheric dynamics in the North Atlantic, with potential effects on regional climate.
Well, I never!
~On the subject of Dr Mann's defamation suit against me, I see it's the 50th anniversary of New York Times vs Sullivan. To be honest, the very words cause my heart to sink. When you're in a libel case in the US, all you hear about from your lawyers are New York Times vs Sullivan and Hustler vs Falwell - and, while it's tiresome to be compared to Larry Flynt for a year's worth of legal pleadings, being compared to The New York Times isn't much better. Nevertheless, these are the two landmark cases of recent American libel law, and this Associated Press piece on Sullivan's half-century contains some interesting points:
"Today one of the reasons I think we don't have as many libel cases is not just because the Sullivan rule is so widely accepted by everyone, but in a digital world there's so much greater opportunity for response," said Bruce W. Sanford, a Washington-based First Amendment lawyer.
If one person says something untrue online, the person being spoken about has many more avenues to reply, agreed David Ardia, a University of North Carolina law professor and the co-director of the school's Center for Media Law and Policy. In the 1960s, the only way to respond to libel and "reach an audience was to get into the same newspaper, and that's no longer the case," he said, adding that the "megaphone" of the Internet is available to everyone.
If Michael Mann feels I said something "untrue" in my 280-word blog post, he has not only the megaphone of the Internet but the influential platforms of The Guardian and The New York Times in which to refute it, not to mention his TV show with Jessica Alba and all manner of other outlets. But his strategy, in America, Britain, Canada, Australia and elsewhere, is always to shut down the argument rather than win it.
~Speaking of libel suits, I thought today would see closing arguments in the case of Khurrum Awan (variously plaintiff, witness and lawyer on my Maclean's "human rights" complaints) vs Ezra Levant (my comrade in Canada's free-speech wars). But I hear the final up-sums of counsel may not come now until April 7th. Further to my note last night on plaintiff's counsel's self-ambush, Blogwrath has a full report on Brian Shiller's erratic cross-examination of Ezra. Shiller performed lethally and effectively every day I saw him last week, but it sounds like he lost control yesterday. Elsewhere, there is further criticism of the trial coverage by my National Post colleague Christie Blatchford, a "tough cookie" and "as able a reporter as Canada has ever produced", who nevertheless is both falling for and peddling a sentimentalized Hollywooden version of what's really going on and what's really at stake. Her enthusiasm for the Ontario Press Council is perplexing.
Just to reprise what happened in 2008: a trio of "young idealists" fronting for an ugly pro-terrorist Jew-hating shakedown artist demanded "reasonable access to media" in order to force Canada's bestselling news magazine to run a 5,000-word cover story it didn't want to run, by a writer not of its choosing, and without any editing except for spelling corrections. If you've ever tried slogging through the unreadable propaganda of Mohammed Elmasry's own magazine The Canadian Charger, you'll know how that would have worked out for Maclean's subscribers.
Maclean's is a privately owned magazine. Demanding "reasonable access" to it is like a burglar demanding reasonable access to Christie Blatchford's home. Yet the Canadian state, in its various federal and provincial manifestations, went quite a long way toward entertaining this vile proposition. Laura Rosen Cohen writes:
Had the Canadian "human rights' regime prevailed, Mark Steyn would have been forbidden to publish in Canada.
An attempt was made to destroy Mark Steyn, and the ripple effect would have been a chill on publishing one's opinion about, or criticizing Islam in the "free" world.
Part of the stakes of this trial include a discussion about whether or not that was a strategic objective of the proceedings initiated by the 'young naifs' or not.
That's a pretty big deal.
She's right. In British Columbia, had we been found guilty, the statutory penalty under the law would have been a lifetime publication ban on me, preventing Maclean's and by extension anybody else in Canada from publishing anything by me on Islam, demography, multiculturalism, Europe, terrorism or anything this side of ballet criticism and gardening tips ever again.
This is not a small thing, and it is nothing to do with youth or idealism but with opportunism and muscle. I'm glad I won, and Christie should be, too - because the eunuch media with which Canada would have been left had the "idealists" prevailed is not one any self-respecting writer would want anything to do with. But it is disturbing to me, five years on and with Section 13 repealed, how many old friends like Christie, Jonathan Kay and others do not quite grasp the scale of what Khurrum Awan and Mohammed Elmasry were attempting to do in 2008.
~Mark's book on free speech and the Canadian Islamic Congress' attempts to criminalize his writing, and Ezra Levant's book on his battle against the "human rights" commissions (with an introduction by Mark) are available together for one low price as the SteynOnline Free Speech Special. And Mark will be happy to autograph the books for you. Alternatively, with the Mann vs Steyn trial looming, you might prefer to buy Lights Out as part of our Steyn vs the Stick package.