Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian readers, Happy Columbus Day to our American readers, Happy First Day of Sukkot to our Jewish readers. We would wish our Ukrainian readers a Happy Defender of Ukraine Day, but we're worried it might be the annual celebration of Hunter Biden's latest oligarch-kissing sinecures.
~Matt Taibbi is a man of the left, but he is an iconoclastic one and The Washington Post's recent attempt to #MeToo him has probably made him more so. He's also a much better writer than most lefties, hobbled as they are by the Downton-Abbey-for-progressives rules of identity politics. Ten years ago, I was very admiring of his evisceration of The New York Times' beloved comic figure Thomas Friedman:
Friedman frequently uses a rhetorical technique that goes something like this: 'I was in Dubai with the general counsel of BP last year, watching 500 Balinese textile workers get on a train, when suddenly I said to myself, "We need better headlights for our tri-plane."' And off he goes.
Indeed Taibbi can do Friedman rather better than the original:
After Thomas Friedman correlates (on the back of a napkin) freedom and the price of oil, Mr Taibbi correlates, rather more plausibly, happiness and the size of Valerie Bertinelli's ass (with accompanying graph).
A lot of us were content to do low comedy a decade back. But these are ever more fevered times and Matt Taibbi has written a sobering piece after three years of what he calls "a permanent coup". The nub of his argument:
My discomfort in the last few years, first with Russiagate and now with Ukrainegate and impeachment, stems from the belief that the people pushing hardest for Trump's early removal are more dangerous than Trump. Many Americans don't see this because they're not used to waking up in a country where you're not sure who the president will be by nightfall. They don't understand that this predicament is worse than having a bad president.
The Democrats, the media and a big chunk of the media are now proposing to impeach and remove the lawful elected head of state on the word of a lone anonymous witness who happens to be a CIA officer working for a rival presidential candidate.
That's banana-republic-level bananas. As I like to say to judges in my endless court cases, a reasonable man should draw reasonable inferences. When hitherto more or less normally functioning levers of power go brazenly wacky, there are two possible conclusions:
a) they really are bananas (the "Trump Derangement Syndrome" theory);
b) they're sane people desperate to avoid the uncovering of something truly awful.
As you'll know from last week's "Outsiders", I'm betting on the latter.
~North of the border, Ottawa's Mister Dressup, unable to get back to the old boot polish for another week or two, is making do with an ostentatious and lumpy bulletproof vest, out of concern "for the safety of my family and for all the Canadians in the room". In which case why's he the only one to get the bulletproof vest? Mr Trudeau puts this down to what he calls "an increase in polarization in election campaigns" - which is a not so subtle way of implying that his political opponents are violent goons who seek to kill him.
That's an odd card to play in one of the oldest and most placid multi-party democracies in the world. It's not as bad as America's "permanent coup" but it is part of the same malign trend: the de-legitimization of political difference.
Meanwhile, across the pond in the Mother of Parliaments, we are at the beginning of the last week in which to leave the EU with a deal - or alternatively not to leave at all. As in the United States, there has been a three-year battle from the losing side (here, in a presidential election; there, in the Brexit referendum) to maintain its control of all levers of state power and subvert the other chaps' victory.
Thus, my old boss Boris Johnson presides over a government that cannot govern because it has no parliamentary majority; at the same time, the parliament he does not command prefers to keep him in office without power rather than force a general election. As in America, the civil service, the courts and the media obstruct him ever more openly, and thereby nullify a vote they have never accepted.
There is, however, a critical difference. To return to Matt Taibbi's essay:
The Trump presidency is the first to reveal a full-blown schism between the intelligence community and the White House. Senior figures in the CIA, NSA, FBI and other agencies made an open break from their would-be boss before Trump's inauguration...
And that "open break" has gaped ever wider with each passing month - so that we now think it entirely normal that a foreign president or prime minister cannot have a private conversation with the Oval Office without risking the transcript being on the front page of the papers. The latest wrinkle - the arrest of two Ukrainian-American contacts of Rudy Giuliani - is the usual brazen bollocks from a corrupted Department of Justice: The indictment even redacts the date (page 20, above the signature line) lest it betray the politically motivated timing of its enforcement.
So we live in a world where an unsubstantiated "dossier" of lurid kompromat sluiced by Russian disinformation through a foreign spook paid by the President's political opponent provides sufficient of a fig-leaf for a high-level White House briefing by the head of the FBI:
I said I wasn't saying this was true, only that I wanted [Trump] to know both that it had been reported and that the reports were in many hands. I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook. I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the FBI has the material or [redacted] and that we were keeping it very close-hold.
So "close-hold" that it was then leaked to the media and the fact that the President was briefed on it by such high-level officials turned out to be the only "news hook" anyone needed - as almost all the heads of the "intelligence community" had planned in advance.
As we see in the UK, Canada, Europe and elsewhere, a permanent state power is ever more comfortable suppressing the possibility of political change. But in America the active partnership between the most lavish and secretive agencies on the planet and the Democrat-media complex is a threat of an entirely different order. Matt Taibbi understands that America can survive a "bad president", but that it cannot survive the normalization of the Comey-Brennan-Clapper-McCabe rogue state.
~Over the weekend I joined Kat, Tyrus and Walter Kirn on "The Greg Gutfeld Show". Here's Greg's opening:
You can see the full show here, but let's have one more excerpt:
Tonight I'll be back on TV with Tucker, live across America at 8pm Eastern, with a rerun at midnight.
~Aside from "The Greg Gutfeld Show", we had a busy weekend at SteynOnline, starting with the latest edition of Mark's Mailbox, in which I answered a host of questions from Mark Steyn Club members on a slew of subjects from Trumpism without Trump to the investigation into the investigation of the investigation - plus a mellifluous mélange of memorable Macedonian and mammy music. You can watch the full show here. Saturday's movie date saluted Donald Pleasence and James Garner in The Great Escape, and Sunday's song selection celebrated Columbus Day, because these days nobody else does. If you were too busy this weekend tearing down your town's statue of the guy, I hope you'll want to check out one or three of the foregoing as a new week commences.
Mark's Mailbox is made with the support of members of The Mark Steyn Club, for which we are extremely grateful. For more information on the Steyn Club, see here - and don't forget our special Gift Membership. After two sold-out voyages, we also have a Third Annual Mark Steyn Cruise - and Clubbers should stand by for more details in the next twenty-four hours of next month's members-only events.
See you tonight on the telly with Tucker.