"We've been informed that the hard drive has been thrown away," Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, said in a brief hallway interview.
Not buying the IRS story that Lois Lerner's lost emails were irretrievable, Darrell Issa, the House Oversight guy, subpoenaed her hard drive. Now it seems her hard drive is irretrievable. She accidentally reversed over it in the IRS parking lot on her way to Congress to plead the Fifth, or something.
The chances of seven key IRS officials irretrievably losing emails and then irretrievably losing the hard drive for the same crucial period is beyond all bounds of probability. They concealed and then destroyed evidence. If an American taxpayer were to do this in an IRS investigation, they'd freeze his bank accounts and take his home. But the IRS can do it to the American people with impunity.
~On today's Hugh Hewitt Show, Hugh and I discussed the twin crack-ups of Iraq and Hillary's book tour. We chewed over this particular soundbite:
"We cannot let a minority of people — and that's what it is, a minority of people — hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people," Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday when asked about the gun-control debate.
This is an attack not only on the Second Amendment - the right to bear arms - but also the First Amendment - the right to argue for the right to bear arms. "We" cannot "let" a "minority" "hold a viewpoint". In this respect, Mrs Clinton is in the mainstream of the new illiberal "liberalism". On a whole range of issues, from abortion to Islam to gay marriage, the "progressives" don't want to persuade you to come round to their viewpoint so much as deny you the right to hold yours: See the Mozilla CEO, the Duck Dynasty guys, and all the banned commencement speakers from this graduation season. It's good to know President-designate Clinton intends to pursue this viewpoint crackdown from the Oval Office. Maybe she can appoint a Viewpoint Czar.
~Speaking of "viewpoints", anybody can get banned from college campuses. But apparently I've reached that enviable stage of controversy where even my book blurbs are hate speech.
Peter Coleman in this week's Spectator reports that, at the launch party for Democracy In Decline, James Allan's splendid new book about threats to liberty across the English-speaking world, the author "complained bitterly about the censorship of Mark Steyn's comments in the blurb on his book". Professor Allan asked me, the Aussie jurist Dyson Heydon and the former Prime Minister John Howard to say a word or two about the book's themes. Here's what I wrote, in full:
Something very odd is going on. The core Anglophone democracies — among the oldest, most stable, constitutionally evolved societies on earth, and the indispensable members of Western nations which resisted the totalitarian temptations of the 20th century — have been spending the first years of this new millennium in a remorseless retreat from liberty. James Allan examines this disturbing phenomenon, and the supple, slippery threats to real freedom and representative government from ersatz 'human rights' and transnationalism. This is an important book that charts free nations' beguiling seduction into soft tyranny. If we are to reverse it, we will need more voices like Professor Allan's.
You can find the quote in pride of place on the back of Mr Allan's book - or, to be more specific, on the back of the Australian and New Zealand edition. In the rest of the planet, however, as Peter Coleman tells his readers, it's gone missing:
But here's the rub. The publishers of the book in Canada, the US and the UK refused to use Steyn's blurb. Although they have given no public explanation*, they appear to have based their decision on his polemic against what he calls Islamofascism**. This so distressed the Canadian Human Rights Commission that it took proceedings against him for 'hate speech'. It later dropped proceedings. But the mud stuck. Steyn became almost persona non grata. The damage caused by being charged with 'hate speech' under 18C or its equivalents lingers long after the charge is beaten.
*The publisher in question is McGill-Queen's University Press, which is really the only explanation you need. Queen's University in Kingston is no friend of free speech, and doesn't pretend to be.
**"Islamofascism" is not my coinage, but that of Malise Ruthven, the Earl of Gowrie's brother, who deployed it for the first time way back in 1990 in my old newspaper The Independent. The late Christopher Hitchens popularized it, and I used it for a while in 2001-2002 before deciding it didn't quite do it for me. The word appears just once in America Alone, in a discussion of the fusion of Islam and mid-20th century totalitarianism.
~We'll see who has the most mud stuck to them when the Mann vs Steyn climate-denier trial of the century is over. In the meantime, I'm delighted sales of my free-speech book Lights Out are holding up. If you'd like to pick it up as fully loaded as Mr Whitsitt's above, please do swing by the Steyn store.