Thanks for another week of lively letters - and thank you too to all those who stopped by the Steyn store to pick up our Steyn vs the Stick Free Speech Special or other trial-of-the-century promotional merchandise.
For six months or so, we've had a steady stream of letters asking why I'm attempting to fund a campaign like this through book, CD and T-shirt sales rather than through some more formal "non-profit" arrangement. I explain why, and tie it to the IRS scandal and to the United States Government's war on privacy, here. Alleged climate scientist Michael E Mann spends most of his week not in the lab but frothing on the Internet about #KochMachineScaifeMachineDenialistMachine front groups, and he would dearly love to know who's funding me. The truth is I'm "funded" by thousands of readers around the world who since January have made purchases of $25-50 from our bookstore, and I promise you those names will never be disclosed to Mann or anybody else.
I mention from time to time that the repeal of Canada's disgusting censorship law received Royal Assent last year. But Section 13's path to the garbage can of history was so tortuous that said repeal did not, in fact, take effect for 12 months. So, even though as a practical matter it's been dead for some time, its formal burial did not occur until last Friday, June 27th. Marc Lemire, the final target of Section 13 and a man who refused to go quietly, is dancing on its grave in a multipart series beginning here. I spoke about Mr Lemire's case in my testimony at the Canadian Parliament, which concluded as follows:
Section 13's underlying philosophy is incompatible with a free society. Its effect is entirely irrelevant to the Queen's peace, and its use by agents of the Canadian "Human Rights" Commission has been corrupted and diseased beyond salvation. It is time for the people's representatives in the House of Commons to defend real human rights and end this grotesque spectacle.
That was October 5th 2009. So it took the people's representatives half-a-decade to follow through and finally "end this grotesque spectacle". In fact, if you date it from when the CHRC first accepted the Canadian Islamic Congress suit against me and Maclean's, it's just shy of seven years. It wouldn't entirely surprise me if this current campaign against the even more censorious Mann didn't rumble on for seven years. You fight a handful of seven-year campaigns and that's most of your adult life gone. Which is why the death of Section 13 doesn't feel like much of a "victory". Nevertheless, it is a small blow in the cause of free speech, so I will raise a flute of champagne - and then press on.
My writing this week on the corruption of the republic and the grim merger of party and state struck a chord with many readers. Craig Donatucci:
You are spot on. The real issue here is the symbiotic relationship between federal civil servants and the party of the left.
Lois Lerner at IRS and her counterparts at FEC disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision and took the right to correct this "wrong" into their own hands.
And the media and Democratic Party see nothing abhorrent in this.
Richard Ball liked my concluding line - "America is a eunuch abroad but ever more despotic at home":
"The Despotic Eunuch": Your next book title?
Richard K Ball
Well, actually, it isn't a bad shorthand for western statism, which is extremely authoritarian to its own citizenry but squishy and appeasing to external enemies, like Putin, the sharia set et al. Which is why it will endure for only a generation or two before other forces take advantage,
Mr Ball's and my fellow Ontarian can't understand why the head honcho of the IRS, John Koskinen, is still at liberty:
Why is Koskinen not facing criminal charges for perjury at the very minimum, for lying in his previous testimony?
Does the rule of law not apply in the US? What is it, a banana republic like Ontario?
Indeed. From south of the border, Ezra Marsh - with John Gross, a mainstay of Mark's Mailbox for its first decade - returns to our pages. In the old days, Mr Marsh used to write with great expertise on a range of subjects, and I used idly to wonder what his own particular area was. He reveals it today in relation to the IRS:
As an IT guy, I've been saying that someone should ask Koskinen who in IT told him the e-mails were lost. Then just go down the org chart rung by rung until you get to the geeks and nerds who actually do the work, and put them under oath, explain to them that if they lie they will go to prison, and then ask them, "Where are the e-mails?"
So when Koskinen responded today to the question, "Who told you the e-mails were missing?" by answering, "I don't know/remember" I saw that this thinnest of lies had now been shaved down by several millimeters.
That's a desperate, pathetic response. Only one of half a dozen people could have provided that info--the nature of the hierarchy in these places is such that there are no layers bypassed, since the only thing you own in the hierarchy is your place in it and people guard their privileges in the information chain jealously. And his answer was plainly a lie, because every role in the federal space is demarcated, and the person in charge of answering that question is very clearly designated (keep in mind that bureaucracies are insane, but they are actually designed to reflect chains of command and the rule of law). You don't ask someone from Architecture Assurance an engineering question. So only one person would be entitled to answer the question.
So they're lying, and not very effectively. I suspect that the desperation of the lie correlates to the unwillingness of that person to go before Congress. Congress is about one millimeter away from causing a major bimbo eruption, because no one below the political level will have any motivation to cover up anything: why should they? Federal workers hate all the politicos.
On the other hand, Jeremy Caplin feels Mr Koskinen is a model public servant:
You ought to look at his whole, long career and see all of his achievements and contributions to public and private life before you seek to make fun of and attempt to trivialize someone like John Koskinen. You bloggers are just one rung above the people who write in on the "comments" section of every newspaper, so you might try to not take yourself too seriously as you go forward throughout life.
You can sit at home in your pajamas typing on a mac, but guys like Koskinen have showed up day after day, year after year to tackle very difficult, complicated assignments. For various branches of the government, for both political parties, for his family, for his University... You will never achieve the things a man like Koskinen has over decades of hard work.
He inherited the mess at the IRS and has barely been on the job for half a year. He didn't hire any of the people that are the principals in this scandal, he didn't order any of the equipment, and he has this huge learning curve he has to overcome at lightening speed to actually run the agency—which is fundamentally more important than this scandal.
I think Lerner destroyed her emails, but Koskinen is a business executive trying to run this whole sprawling agency/business, and he was brought in to try to improve morale and efficiency and results. To start attacking him as if he created the scandal is misguided and unproductive, cheap and easy. To mock him physically and compare him to whoever that was from Vaudeville, is really pretty flimsy and petty. Kind of like a college newspaper column.
What is your pedigree exactly? I picked up your article off of realclearpolitics, so you were lucky they carried you, but man, you've got to up your game!
"What is your pedigree exactly?" What is this - Crufts? If you want to know my "pedigree", you can get the gist of it in two minutes of Googling. You could even start with the link up above to my testimony at the House of Commons, which I believe is also out there on YouTube somewhere. So, whether or not I'll ever "achieve the things a man like Koskinen has", he and I have both achieved the opportunity to testify at national legislatures, and at least I didn't perjure myself when I got there.
It's such a fascinating question, isn't it? "What is your pedigree exactly?" Did you ever think to ask that of, say, Barack Obama in 2008? Or of Hillary Clinton this time round? Come to think of it, have you ever thought to ask of John Koskinen "what is your pedigree exactly"? If you had, you wouldn't regard him as any sort of "business executive". In the private sector, he was a "consultant". As for what you call his work "for various branches of the government", well, he was chairman of Freddie Mac. That's to say, he's one of maybe a dozen people responsible for ruining the American property market. Before that, he was Deputy Mayor of the District of Columbia, and the head of President Clinton's council to deal with the Y2K problem. So, given that he was in charge of the greatest computer challenge, data-retention issue and crash-prevention crisis of the last quarter-century, you'd think he wouldn't just sit there like Guy Kibbee after too many martinis at the Stork Club (yeah, yeah, what's his pedigree?) professing smiley-faced bewilderment as to how all these emails and hard drives could go missing.
My recent column on American foreign policy - "Harmless as an Enemy, Treacherous as a Friend" - and, in particular, the poignant response of Prince Sirik Matak prompted this letter from Richard:
Many years ago I studied Farsi at the United States Foreign Language Institute, a military facility in California. The instructors were all Iranian natives.
One evening I had drinks with an instructor (a Zoroastrian) who, after the first drink, told me, "Everything the Middle East needs to know about America it learned when it wouldn't let the Shah die there."
The Shah was, perhaps, the most loyal of all of America's post-WWII allies and he was scorned by America for choosing American ideals over Iranian ones.
Finally, apropos the remarkable headline "EPA Employees Told to Stop Pooping in the Hallway", I dusted off an excerpt from a 2007 column of mine for Maclean's, that included the following:
Sheryl Crow, meanwhile, recently proposed that when it comes to, ah, other waste products, her environmentally conscious fans should only use a single sheet of bathroom tissue per visit. I fell asleep three minutes into Al Gore's Live Earth extravaganza, so I don't know whether she turned up to perform some new consciousness-raising song on the theme -- sheet music, as they say in Mexico -- but a celebrity fundraising cover of 'All We Are Saying is Give One Piece a Chance' is surely a project all Hollywood can get behind.
Miss Crow's enthusiasm for the paperless bathroom is disputed by Robert Pollock:
Just a note to point out that Ms. Crow's comment about using only one sheet of paper is about pee, not poop.
Men 'shake it' to get rid of any excess left; women do not have that option. Hence they use some TP. Crow's comment was to get the ladies to use only one sheet.
Nice try, but you're wrong. Sheryl Crow introduced her one-sheet policy in a column she wrote for The Huffington Post. Note that there is no mention of urine, and she makes a point of including the male pronoun:
I have spent the better part of this tour trying to come up with easy ways for us all to become a part of the solution to global warming. Although my ideas are in the earliest stages of development, they are, in my mind, worth investigating. One of my favorites is in the area of forest conservation which we heavily rely on for oxygen. I propose a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting. Now, I don't want to rob any law-abiding American of his or her God-given rights, but I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required.
Miss Crow's chum Rosie O'Donnell was under no illusion as to what Sheryl was referring to.