Tonight, Wednesday, I'll be with Tucker Carlson live on Fox News at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific. Hope you can join us.
But, on this Flag Day in America, we start the day with some thoughts on the advantages of honest political expression - and the attempted assassination of the House majority whip. Representative Steve Scalise was at a practice session for the GOP baseball team when some guy showed up and opened fire. He was among those hit, but is (according to the President) likely to make a full recovery. I hope so. Too many of those who are wounded - in Manchester and London and everywhere else - are said to be "recovering" but will nevertheless be in pain for the rest of their lives.
The Congressional baseball game is one of those faintly labored rituals of collegiality that nevertheless distinguish civilized political systems from the barbarous: They're predicated on the notion that the Government and the Loyal Opposition are on different teams but, ultimately, the same side. In that sense, it is a good thing that we have parliamentary ball games.
But that was the old ball game. Such traditions are difficult to sustain in a culture where pop stars are making videos pulling guns on the President, and comedians are swinging around severed presidential heads, and theatregoers are willing to pay Broadway prices to see Julius Trump stabbed to death on the Ides of March. In this new ball game there are college professors calling for Republicans to be "lined up and shot" - and helpfully clarifying "That's not hyperbole." Upon arrival, one notes, the shooter asked a spectator whether it was the GOP or the Democrats on the field. On receiving the answer he wanted, he advanced upon his target. [UPDATE: As these things always go, the early info is wisps of gossamer: This was apparently a different person from the shooter.]
A few hours before this attempted mass assassination, I taped a new SteynPost on the left's descent into ever more thuggish and calculated political violence. We'll post that later today.
More details will emerge in the hours ahead. But one thing seems certain: the enhanced security even for apolitical play activities such as Congressional baseball will further seal off the political class from the people. Not good.
~Meanwhile, in London, a 24-story tower block continues to burn in White City. The fire broke out at one in the morning, when most residents were asleep. There appear to have been failures in fire alarms and fatal miscommunications advising tenants to stay put. There have been a few good-news stories - a baby thrown by a desperate parent from the ninth or tenth floor was caught by a bystander down below - but we cling to such tales because we know they are the exception, and that the toll of those consumed in the flames will be far greater than the anecdotes of miraculous survival.
The politicians are already bickering about the politics even as this towering inferno still blazes over the London skyline. It's a part of town where wealthy celebrities in handsome Georgian houses and the multiculti service class in cheap blocks of flats live in fairly close proximity, and it is tempting, in a city whose mayor advises Londoners to get used to sudden violent death as a feature of life, to see it as some grim metaphor for the general state of things. But it is all too real and terrible for those inside, and it is of them we should think.
~More will be learned about both these stories in the course of the day. Tucker Carlson will have more to say on Fox News tonight, and I look forward to joining him. Just ahead of that, I'll be reading Part Six of The Time Machine, H G Wells' classic, and the newest audio adventure in our series Tales for Our Time. You can find Part Five here. And, if you're a Mark Steyn Club member, feel free to weigh in on any of this morning's appalling news in the comments below.