The Mark Steyn Club turned two years old this week, and we have some special celebrations for you all month long, starting with my conversations with Chuck Berry, Julio Iglesias, Leonard Bernstein, Men at Work and other pop stars who made it to two (on the hit parade), our birthday Song of the Week, our new Tales for Our Time home page, and the thrilling conclusion to my serialization of HG Wells' The Island of Dr Moreau.
~It's always good to know what they really think of you: In its Brexit coverage, the BBC's much vaunted "impartiality" seems to boil down to steering a careful course between full-blown Remainer spokesmen and those politicians who believe they're bound to honor the people's wishes by voting for a prudent responsible Brexit that leaves Britain in the customs union, the single market, the EU court system, and the jurisdiction of the Brussels agency responsible for regulating the curvature of cucumbers.
This must be a difficult balancing act for "impartial" BBC interviewers to maintain. Fortunately they eventually retire and are no longer obliged to defer to such niceties. So welcome Gavin Esler, longtime Beeb panjandrum and now finally liberated as a Euro-candidate for the brand new if hilariously stillborn party Change UK - which until a couple of week ago was known as "the Independent Group", because they favor independence for themselves if not for Britain. Under their changed name, they're now the party for people who want no change, least of all that which Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is advocating. Deprived of his somewhat subtler BBC writers, Mr Esler finally told Britain who he is:
TV news must stop giving airtime to the "village idiots" of Brexit — the dubious right-wing supposed "thinktanks" and pseudo-experts among ERG MPs who simply haven't a clue what the implications of Brexit truly are.
Why, everyone knows these Brexit types are knuckle-dragging thickos! And not just the grunting masses in dreary towns in the provinces that we media grandees never visit, but even their moronic think-tanks and MPs. Why do we even let these clueless twits on the telly?
On the evidence of the opinion polls, Mr Esler's pitch seems unlikely to work. And I would be surprised if Change UK survives the Euro-elections...
~The Mueller investigation was a conscious sham: an investigation into foreign interference in the 2016 US election created to cover up high-level domestic interference in the 2016 US election. Which is far more serious. Mueller's report dutifully did its part, asserting belatedly that it was the so-called tip from a friendly ally (ie, Alexander Downer's g&t with George Papadopoulos in the Kensington Wine Rooms) that led to the unprecedented "counter-intelligence" operation against a major-party candidate in the presidential election.
The ever expanding FBI/DoJ paper trail suggests otherwise. The FISA applications relied on Christopher Steele, and the FBI knew the Steele dossier was a crock even as they laid its garbage before the FISA judge. It's not just a lack of candor before the tribunal, but outright perjury. Ten days before the Feds obtained their first warrant to spy on the Trump campaign, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Kathleen Kavalec, had Steele's number, and put it in writing:
Kavalec's handwritten notes clearly flagged in multiple places that Steele might be talking to the media.
"June — reporting started," she wrote. "NYT and WP have," she added, in an apparent reference to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Later she quoted Steele as suggesting he was "managing" four priorities — "Client needs, FBI, WashPo/NYT, source protection," her handwritten notes show.
Indeed. He was a hopelessly conflicted MI6 guy. But a foreign spook obsessed with Trump was vital to the FBI - because they had nothing else. Perhaps the most pitiful yet damning part of Ms Kavalec's memo is this:
She quoted Steele as saying, "Payments to those recruited are made out of the Russian Consulate in Miami," according to a copy of her summary memo obtained under open records litigation by the conservative group Citizens United. Kavalec bluntly debunked that assertion in a bracketed comment: "It is important to note that there is no Russian consulate in Miami."
We shall have more on this in the days ahead.
~The death of Freddie Starr, a popular comedian in Britain and much of the Commonwealth, reminds us of the heyday of the Fleet Street tabloids. There was a lot happening in March of 1986 - the wreck of the space shuttle Challenger had just been recovered, Sweden was still convulsed by the assassination of Olof Palme, something called Microsoft was having an IPO, US warships crossed into Soviet waters in the Black Sea - but on Thursday the 13th of that month all anybody in Britain cared about was the headline on the front page of The Sun:
Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster
According to the bereaved owner Lea La Salle, Mr Starr had asked for a more conventionally flavored sandwich, and, when she refused, he went into the kitchen, put her hamster Supersonic between two slices of white bread, and chowed down.
Unlike the Palme murder, the US naval incursion, etc, supporting evidence for The Sun's choice of lead news was thin on the ground - not least because Mr Starr was a well-known vegetarian. But the alleged fate of said hamster nevertheless convulsed Britain and beyond for some time.
Some years later, Freddie's larcenous gardener was arrested and accused his former employer of engaging in mutual oral sex with him. My memory is that The Sun reported this under another front-page headline - "Freddie Starr Ate My Lunchbox" - "lunchbox" being a vernacular synonym, as are so many nouns in Britannic English, for the male genitalia. But, if so, this headline seems to have been disappeared from the Internet. Perhaps it was only a sub-editor's draft that I chanced to see.
In any event, the charge collapsed in court when the gardener was unable to reliably state whether Mr Starr was circumcised or not (I forget which was the correct answer). Naturally, the chap unable to describe the tip of the penis at issue bore the name of Coxhead.
Upon Freddie's passing this week, The Sun gave it their best shot and headlined the story:
Freddie Starr Joins His Hamster
Not quite up to snuff, I think.
~We're observing the second anniversary of The Mark Steyn Club with some special celebrations all month long. But the important, critical element of the Club is its members - and I'm very touched by all those who signed up in that first week two Mays past who eagerly re-upped for another twelve months. It means an awful lot to me to know you value what we do here - transient politics, big-picture civilizational collapse, audio fiction, video poetry, live music. We'll be back later today, Saturday, with a seasonal offering for Mother's Day and our regular movie date, which for those who follow news stories about small mammals reminds us somewhat obliquely that there are worse fates than that of Mr Starr's. More on The Mark Steyn Club here.