Programming note: For all our Australian readers I'll be joining Rowan Dean and Ross Cameron on Sky Australia's Outsiders tomorrow morning, Sunday, at (I think) 9am Aussie Eastern Time. Sunday morn in Oz is actually Saturday eve/afternoon in North America, so, if whatever nom de guerre Time-Warner Cable is using this week supplies you with any antipodean channels, keep an eye out for me a little after 7pm Saturday night US Eastern. I think I'll be talking about Spygate, but Rowan has been known to make disparaging remarks about my neckties, so things could get vicious.
As our month of first-anniversary observances for The Mark Steyn Club comes to a close, I'm immensely touched by all those first-month Founding Members from May 2017 who've opted to re-up for a second year - and also by all those new members who've joined in recent days. As many of you know, we had an accidental first-birthday competition (open to all SteynOnline readers) arising from my spectacular court victory in the CRTV vs Steyn suit.
Brief diversion: I was watching the telly the other night and some talking head was denouncing the Mueller investigation and demanding to know what the connection is between Stormy Daniels and Russian collusion.
Well, I think the connection may, in fact, be me. On the one hand, a while back I found myself appearing, for a very long day, before Judge Frank Maas, the FISA guy who signed off on the initial Carter Page surveillance. And, on the other, just last week CRTV's lead counsel Eric M George (the fellow who lost Dennis Prager his YouTube case) turned up representing the former partner of Stormy's lawyer, Michael Avenatti (or "Creepy Porn Lawyer", as Tucker Carlson calls him) in his lawsuit against Avenatti. Leaving aside that, in the American courts, when Shyster & Fleecem LLP go belly up, a lawyer needs to hire a lawyer to sue another lawyer, I was tickled by this soundbite from Mr George:
"Michael Avenatti's law firm entered into a crystal clear written settlement agreement to resolve a prior lawsuit brought by Jason Frank, his former law partner," Eric George, an attorney for Frank said in a statement. "The settlement agreement was approved by a federal court and was a condition of his law firm exiting bankruptcy. Under this settlement, Mr. Avenatti's law firm was required to pay Mr. Frank $4.85 million, all of which was personally guaranteed by Mr. Avenatti."
So Mr George is upset because the other party is refusing to honor a lawsuit ending with them obliged to pony up four-mil plus. Hey, tell me about it. (This entirely un-self-aware Tweet is also pretty funny.)
At any rate, I seem to be the vital link in the chain from Russia to Stormy: Stormy to Avenatti to Eric M George to Steyn to Frank Maas to Carter Page. It's not as mellifluous as Tinker, Tailor, Clapper, Carter, Downer, Halper, but it does testify to how deeply I'm embedded in the litigious whirl of American life.
A few days after the New York Supreme Court upheld every aspect of my victory over CRTV, they sued me all over again in a wacky complaint (written by Eric M George, evidently during a very short break from Stormy's creepy porno guy) with a single 200-page exhibit comprising multiple SteynOnline essays that don't even mention CRTV or its litigious owner Cary Katz. So we invited readers to try to identify what was actionable in my essay on the hit song "Oh Happy Day".
I joked, after that second seven-figure lawsuit, that maybe we should make it best out of three. But, of course, US justice is no laughing matter. If you notice something cautious and tentative about our belated announcement of the results of this competition, that's because just nine days ago vexatious litigant Cary Katz, with his genius lawyer Eric M George (as ubiquitous and pneumatic as Stormy), sued me a third time. (Katz's fourth suit is against himself: He's suing his own company, CRTV, into pseudo-insolvency so it doesn't have to pay me. I forget whether Eric M George is sitting at the plaintiff's or defandant's table in that one. Possibly they've been combined to save on courtroom furniture).
Nevertheless, we don't want to delay any further the results of our "Happy Day" competition, for which the first prize was a year's subscription to CRTV, and the second prize was two years' subscription to CRTV. This did not sit well with competition entrants, a large proportion of whom begged for mercy: "Please no prizes," begged Brian. "I don't want two CRTV subscriptions, or even one," agreed Elizabeth. "When they cancelled your show, I stopped using my CRTV subscription." Patti suggested: "I'd rather have a year's subscription to the Steyn Club."
Others thought the whole competition was a collusion racket to get my hardcore politics followers reading my effete pantywaist artsy stuff. As a fellow Mark wrote:
Very clever, Steyn. You lure this philistine over to your essay on 'Oh Happy Day', where it reeked of highbrow culture and where not a lick of red meat politics could be found, with the only bait that could possibly work: the promise of treasure. Yeah, I know it's only a year's subscription to CRTV, but at least it's not two!
I think you knew full well that if you could get me through to the end of the first paragraph that you would have me. And so you did. And so there I was, some 50-odd paragraphs later, all edified and turgid with culture, in a trytophanic haze - unbuckling my belt so I could breathe better - and reading 'With a touch of SĂ©rgio Mendes, a Mormon engineer and a Jewish Buddah.'
Was there ever a sweeter punchline? I don't know, maybe you la-de-da types talk like that all the time, but it tickled me right out of my stupor.
Many entrants offered variations of this, from William:
If you play the article backwards you can hear 'Cary Katz is not a very nice person.'
Or this from Ted:
Then there are the titles themselves: 'We Are the Champions' and 'Oh Happy Day'. Maladjusted and anti-social people with paranoiac, egotistical and narcissistic issues, often view everything as personal affronts.
That's true. But what could that possibly have to do with Cary Katz?
Herewith our second-place winner, from Karen:
Given that your Song of the Week essay mentions neither Katz nor CRTV, I think it's a safe bet that the renowned poker genius didn't read further than the title of the piece before he decided to ante up with a defamation lawsuit. However, poker geniuses are terribly good at sniffing out patterns and spotting tells, so perhaps Cary Katz had only to glance at the letters in 'Oh Happy Day' to see that they rearrange to spell, 'Hah! Pay, Dopy!'
This coded barb implies that you've found him to be less than diligent about paying what he owes, and he cannot have that spot on his reputation. He is a man who honors his debts, and he will refuse to pay up if anyone says different.
Karen (enjoying the club and renewing in June)
And here's the winning entry, from Ross:
It is very clear why your 'Oh Happy Day' piece is so upsetting to Cary Katz. Edwin Hawkins was 22 when he composed this hit. Everyone knows that Edwin Hawkins would never have composed his new take on this old protestant hymn to make money for his church if Katz and his student loan racket had been around at the time.
Per Katz and the federally-backed-student-loan, everybody-must-go-to-college racket, Hawkins never should have been working for his church during what should have been his college years. He should have just been graduating from a college, firmly indoctrinated in anti-Western, anti-Christian secularism. And, he should have been in substantial debt to Katz's student loan company. To the extent Hawkins would have had any religion left in him after his 4 or 5 years in college, he would not have had the time to devote to raising funds for the Church of God in Christ because he would be too busy trying to figure out how to pay back his Katz loan with his comparative religions degree.
While none of this qualifies as defamatory of Katz in the legal sense, that does not mean Katz cannot find a lawyer to file a suit to 'let the process play itself out.' This is a lesson you have learned multiple times now.
On that last allusion to my famous line, John suggested I copyright "The process is the punishment" and counter-sue Katz, Eric M George and CRTV for stealing my intellectual property by using the process to punish me beyond fair-use doctrine. We may do that.
If you notice, we've used only first names for the entrants above. There's a reason for that. Katz and George have indicated in their latest filing that they're prepared to use "John Doe" complaints to tie up freeborn US citizens exercising their First Amendment rights by commenting on Katz and CRTV here and elsewhere around the Internet. We're proud that most of our commenters here participate under their own names, but, for this piece, we will be editing comments (and policing them rather more than usual), so that nothing identifiable and usable by Katz and George appears in print. This is my battle, and I do not intend to let any readers be involuntarily conscripted. Your role here is to read and listen and watch - and respond, boldly and honestly, as you do. But the defendant's table is for the proprietor only.
We are very familiar (alas) with all this from the Michael E Mann case: It's the reason we didn't set up a 501(c)4 - because all that stuff's discoverable, and they had already asked in discovery for the names of our "donors". We never supply any information about SteynOnline readers to anybody else. No identifying data, whether for Club memberships, bookstore customers or even competition entrants, is stored within US jurisdiction, and we never surrender it - not to Big Climate lawyers or to anybody else.
However, it does present a problem re the competition prizes. Our original intention was to sign Ross up for a one-year subscription to CRTV, and Karen up for two years. But we've been advised that doing so would identify Ross and Karen to CRTV and open them up to being added by Katz and George to their meritless and vexatious complaints. So we are obliged to offer alternative prizes, I'm afraid. The two-year CRTV subscription is, I believe, $140, so we're proposing to award instead both Ross and Karen $200 gift certificates to the Steyn store, and we hope they'll load up there to their hearts' content.
To reprise, I did not seek this battle. Katz, George and CRTV fired me, breached my contract, sued me for $10 million, and plunged me into the worst year of my professional life. On February 21st, Judge Gordon ruled they had no right to do that, and awarded me $4 million. On April 19th, Judge Bransten of the New York Supreme Court upheld that award in full. Last spring, broke and ruined, I thought that it would be difficult to survive this case. A year later, I understand that in fact it will be far more difficult to survive winning this case.
But I don't care about any of that nonsense. I have been fearful and, indeed, terrified in Iraq, the Balkans and various other places, including even RosengĂĄrd and Molenbeek at night. But in America I choose to live without fear. That is the minimum privilege of winning. So Katz can sue on, and on, and on and on and on, and get his allies to inflict additional punishment. But CRTV lost the case: That's a fact. CRTV is my debtor: That's a fact. CRTV is refusing to pay: That's a fact.
And I shall win all these other stupid, distracting, vexatious, expensive lawsuits: That's not yet a fact, but it will be.
Congratulations to Ross and Karen for winning our competition. I hope that for both of you it is indeed a happy day:
~As part of our Mark Steyn Club first-anniversary celebrations, we announced the inaugural Steyn Club Cruise, from Montreal to Boston at the height of fall foliage. We're pleased to say bookings have been going gangbusters and we may have to ask for additional cabins. One consequence of that is that, as with most travel accommodations, it pays to book early. So, if you're thinking of coming, please don't leave it too late.
Join us for some Memorial Day observances on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, as our first-birthday month winds down, I'll be guest-hosting another Clubland Q&A, taking questions from listeners live around the planet. For more Steyn Club first anniversary celebrations, please see:
Steyn's Song of the Week
Happy Birthday to You
A Clubman's Notes
Year Two Begins
On the Town
Non-Stop Number Ones
Franchise Man vs Burqa Girl
Tales for Our Time
A King in Kafiristan
A Tales for Our Time sampler
The Mahdi and the Eloi