Programming note: Tonight, Thursday, I'll be swinging by "Tucker Carlson Tonight", coast to coast across America at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific - with a rerun at midnight Eastern/9pm Pacific.
I do hope you'll tune in. Right now Tucker is facing a sustained campaign to destroy him and his show because he thinks (in contrast to many prominent figures on the American right) that a free society should be free to discuss immigration as a matter of public policy rather than mere mawkish sob-sister virtue-signaling. Multiple advertisers have yanked their ads, including the likes of IHOP and United Airlines, which has some previous in its totalitarian hostility to free speech. At this point, United might as well rename themselves Social Justice Airlines ("Come fly the thought-policed skies!") and give priority boarding to serving members of antifa and Southern Poverty Law Center employees needing extra time to stow their ever lengthier blacklists in the overhead bins.
So do please check out Tucker's show if you're within the presence of the receiving apparatus tonight. I loathe the politicization of everything that the left is forcing on us. But, as I've said for a long time, their goal is not to win the debate but to cancel it. So, if someone has to wind up with fewer patrons, I'd rather it was not Tucker but IHOP (whose pancakes are crap even when they're not sucking up to the House of Saud) and United (which, granted that it's not particularly more horrible an experience than many of its competitors, is unusually militant in its campaign against freedom of expression). A choice between Tucker's commitment to vigorous debate and a totalitarian pancake house shouldn't be difficult.
~On a related note, I first used today's headline almost four years ago:
Betrothed gays looking for wedding cakes and floral arrangements are not just carelessly stumbling into homophobic bakeries and florists. It's an organized campaign consciously targeting particular establishments. That's why no gay couples have wandered into a Muslim patisserie in Dearborn... and, if they did, they'd be the ones in hiding. Tim Cook, the Apple CEO who'll have no truck with hoosier homophobes, is happy to enrich Iran's mullahs so they can build fancier gay gallows on which to hang the sodomites. Muscle respects muscle.
And so Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, having just about survived the state's efforts to destroy him for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake, has now been dragged back into court by the goons of the Colorado "Civil Rights" Commission for declining to custom-build a gender-transitioning cake. His tormentor is Autumn Scarpina, a "trans attorney" (for our Commonwealth readers, that's not a solicitor who's transitioning into a barrister). According to Newsweek, Ms Scarpina could be the same dissatisfied customer who emailed Mr Phillips with very specific instructions for a Church of Satan cake:
"I'm thinking a three-tiered white cake. Cheesecake frosting," the customer wrote in the June 4 email, according to Phillips' lawsuit filed in Denver's federal court on Tuesday. "And the topper should be a large figure of Satan, licking a 9" black Dildo. I would like the dildo to be an actual working model, that can be turned on before we unveil the cake."
Maybe someone could sue United for declining to provide any Satanic meal options or IHOP for refusing to serve a short stack of blueberry dildos.
Or maybe the Colorado "Civil Rights" Commission could simply rule that henceforth no cakes can be sold in America except nine-inch black dildos with a thin slathering of frosting. Or maybe we can all sue the sex-aids shop for refusing to include any cake with its dildos. (By the way, isn't a mere nine-inch black dildo kinda racist?)
The sooner the wretched American judicial system transitions out of the Common Law community and comes out under its own depraved colors the better.
~Speaking of which, late last week there was a stir of movement in the constipated bowels of DC justice. As many of you know, Mann vs Steyn et al is now in its seventh year - over a 270-word blog post about Michael Mann's joke climate-change "hockey stick", which in the decade immediately after its appearance at the end of the last century was the most influential scientific graph on earth. It purports to show that the planet had an entirely stable climate (the hockey-stick shaft) until the twentieth century, at which point the SUV and the washing machine were invented and the global temperature shot up (like a hockey-stick blade) and out the top right-hand corner of the graph heading for a planetary inferno circa 2008. For my part, ever since it first appeared, I have called the graph a "fraud" - in The Sunday Telegraph in London, The National Post in Canada, and The Australian, among many other outlets. Mann has never sued me in any of those countries.
Fortunately, America has a First Amendment, which means you get to enjoy the privilege of spending millions of dollars and twenty years of your life before some court belatedly decides that in fact you had the right to say what you said all along. So consider this ruling by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. No need to read the whole thing - I'm not actually a party to it, although my remaining years on earth are impacted by it. Let's just look at the first page. The first thing that catches the eye is this:
(Hon. Natalia M. Combs Greene, Trial Judge)
(Hon. Frederick H. Weisberg, Trial Judge)
That's right: There are two trial judges - or there were, back when trial judges were still trying this thing. Madam Combs Greene, a remarkably unengaged landlord-and-tenant judge, decided it was all too much work and transferred it to her colleague Mr Weisberg. She then decided that, in fact, she hadn't finished with the case, so she re-transferred part of it back to her while he ploughed on with the rest. Two trial judges simultaneously ruling on the same case would be a big no-no in any functioning jurisdiction, but fortunately the DC Superior Court doesn't meet the criteria for that.
Anyway, as this Weisberg fellow conceded, the case by then had been somewhat procedurally bollocksed - although, with the usual collegiality of jurists, he declined to blame the previous-cum-simultaneous trial judge Combs Greene. On the bollocksing point, I agreed with him and wanted to proceed to trial as swiftly as possible. I had already responded to Mann's discovery requests, and had sent him mine.
However, my co-defendants - National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute - felt differently. The suit started, many years ago, as a test case of the District of Columbia's then new anti-SLAPP law. "SLAPP" stands for a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation - ie, a lawsuit whose purpose is to silence a critic by forcing him out of the public square and into the courthouse. However, as is the way with far too much crappy legislation, the DC statute was ambiguously drawn. So NR and CEI decided to file an interlocutory appeal on whether, inter alia, the new SLAPP law was interlocutorily appealable.
Got that? If so, feel free to grab a pencil and stab your eyeballs out now, because it gets worse. An interlocutory appeal is not an appeal filed after you lose at trial; it's filed while the original trial court is still proceeding. At which point the trial judge brings the case juddering to a halt until the interlocutory appeal has been heard - after which he resumes, assuming he isn't dead or playing shuffleboard at the Interlocutory Acres judicial retirement home in Florida.
Legal scholars such as Popehat love this proceduralist folderol. Back in the real world, however, it has made the American judicial system a global laughingstock and ensures that any eventual verdict is irrelevant because (as I always say) the process is the punishment. So, as a kind of post-modern meta-litigation, DC's new anti-SLAPP law - which is a law intended to provide for the swift dismissal of cases - has instead consumed six-and-a-half years of my life and will now consume a further six or seven.
That's why my advice when you're sued in America is to say: Bring on the trial! I'm free next Tuesday!
There's a reason why, in real court systems, there exists the saying "Justice delayed is justice denied." A verdict delivered ten years down the line may be many things, but it cannot be justice.
So I did not join co-defendants NR and CEI and plaintiff Mann in this interlocutory appeal. Instead, I moved to sever myself from the rest of the gang, and asked Weisberg to let me and Mann proceed to trial directly. Mann objected to that, and here we are.
So how's that interlocutory appeal going? Again, we need look no further than the first page.
(Argued November 25, 2014 Decided December 22, 2016)
(Amended December 13, 2018)
Gotcha. So the plaintiff and the other defendants argued this case before three judges in 2014. The troika then went into Rip van Winkle mode, woke up over two years later, and issued a ruling.
Which, after another two-year nap, in what appears to be their traditional pre-Christmas document dump, they have now amended.
And pray tell, what exactly was this two-years-in-the-making amendment?
This amended opinion adds a new footnote 39 and revises former footnote 45 (now 46).
So former footnote 45 is now footnote 46. After two-thirds of a decade in the choked toilet of DC justice, I wish my age increased as slowly as the numbering of Appeals Court footnotes. I published an entire book on the plaintiff in less time than it takes three judges to revise two footnotes.
So this interlocutory appeal now goes back to Step One, and Mann, NR and CEI get to file new briefs, and the lawyers tell me it will be another five years at least before this rubbish comes to trial, and probably closer to seven or eight. When this case began, Mann's delightful and charming lady counsel was pregnant. The kid is now in Second Grade. Soon he will have caught up with that Appeals Court footnote and be 45-going-on-46 and have inherited the case from his mom.
If you'll forgive a generalization, the entire American judicial system is now a grotesque perversion of Common Law protections and an embarrassment to republican virtue. As I said on Rush this week, Trump's new attorney general should announce he's razing it to the ground and starting from scratch.
But, of course, some District Court judge would immediately order a stay on the grounds that total destruction of the judicial system disproportionately impacts next year's Honduran caravan...
~We're counting down to Christmas at the Steyn Store. If you don't know what to give the man who has everything, you could always give him the aforementioned climatological bestseller on the litigious Mann - "A Disgrace to the Profession": The World's Scientists - in Their Own Words - on Michael E Mann, His Hockey Stick, and Their Damage to Science, Volume One. Or one of my other books - or, indeed, my bestselling cat album or Christmas album. We ship right up to the last post on Christmas Eve.
On the other hand, you could forego shipping entirely, or order up two on the aisle for the first ever Dennis Miller/Mark Steyn tour. There's also a chance to meet me and Dennis after the show. And there's a stateroom waiting just for your loved one on the second annual Mark Steyn cruise.
Finally, don't forget the present that lasts all year: A one-year gift membership in The Mark Steyn Club, which this festive season comes with a special personalized Christmas card from yours truly and a presentation set of three of our most popular Tales for Our Time.
Catch you on the telly with Tucker. Bring your own pancakes.