Category Archive 'Mark Steyn'
12 Mar 2013
Mark Steyn, on Rush Limbaugh’s Show yesterday, read, in the recent school suspension of a 7-year-old in Baltimore for allegedly nibbling his breakfast pop tart into a shape resembling a gun, serious bad news for American civilization.
You’re doomed America! You’re done for! No society can survive this level of stupidity! The school counselor is available to meet with any students who are traumatized by hearing reports of some guy four grades below them who nibbles a pop-tart into a gun-like shape.
I’ve never subscribed to this whole greatest generation thing, you know. But you look at those guys, they weren’t much older than the kids from the school. A lot of them were like seventeen, eighteen years old. And they’re storming out of these transport ships in the churning waters of the English Channel and the North Sea and they’re landing on the beaches of Normandy. And their getting out of these and they stomping up the beaches and they’re taking German gunfire and all the rest.
Do you think if you raised people so that you make a school counselor to available to them in cased they’ve been traumatized by someone who was nibbled a pop-tart into the shape of a gun….do you think if they’re ever called upon to get out those ships and the storm the beaches of Normandy, do you think they’re gonna be up to that?
‘Oh no look, the Germans, they’re all holding pop-tarts! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!’
No society can survive this level of stupidity! These small things are not small. They tell you a lot about the institutionalized stupidity of our institutions.
29 Dec 2012
NBC News’ David Gregory apparently defied the (absurd) District of Columbia law forbidding anyone “to possess [&c.] any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm” by openly holding in his hand and displaying an empty 30-round magazine during a Meet the Press program in which he confronted NRA EVP Wayne LaPierre.
Anne Althouse elucidates the semiotics that drove NBC News to turn to open, on-the-air, defiant commission of a crime.
If possession of that high-capacity magazine was a crime, and the NBC folk knew it and had even contacted the police and thus even knew they’d created rock-hard evidence that they knew it, why did they go ahead and have Gregory flaunt that illegal possession on television? They had to have thought it was a devastatingly powerful prop. My first guess was that they imagined that viewers — some viewers, at least — would find the object itself scary. ...
I’m not sure exactly why that jogged my thinking, but suddenly I understand the drama Gregory (and his people) were trying to enact. It’s a deep psychic memory of childhood. Gregory sought dominance over his interlocutor, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, and the idea — in the act of picking up that magazine and beginning an interrogation about it — was that Gregory would become (subliminally) a parent figure who would push LaPierre into the subordinate role of the little boy, the cowering child confronted with undeniable evidence of his wrongdoing. What’s THIS I found in your room?
The plan was for LaPierre to babble lamely, scrambling to explain it away, like the kid trying to concoct some cockamamie reason why that (whatever) got into his room. He’d look foolish and guilty, as Dad continues to hold up the item which the kid knows will be the defeat of every idea that flashes through his stupid, stupid brain.
The scenario didn’t play out as scripted. LaPierre is a stolid veteran of many a confrontational interview. He’s not going to let the interviewer get the upper hand that easily.
Naturally, all this has inevitably provoked considerable discussion about whether Mr. Gregory should really be prosecuted and potentially convicted, sentenced, and treated as a criminal for an action obviously involving no real threat of any kind to anyone, for a purely technical violation of an obviously extravagantly far-reaching provision of a law aimed in intent at curbing authentic violent crime.
A lot of people have made good arguments and intelligent points. Even NRA President David Keene argued that Gregory’s “crime” should simply be overlooked.
Mark Steyn, however, decided to swim against the tide of general opinion, and argues that David Gregory ought to be held to the same irrational regulatory standards as everybody else.
This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, “the dumbest media story of 2012.” Why? Because, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn’t “planning to commit any crimes.”
So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they’re expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. Ignorantia juris non excusat is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about doable. But in today’s America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them. And in this case NBC were informed by the D.C. police that it would be illegal to show the thing on TV, and they went ahead and did it anyway: You’ll never take me alive, copper! You’ll have to pry my high-capacity magazine from my cold dead fingers! When the D.C. SWAT team, the FBI, and the ATF take out NBC News and the whole building goes up in one almighty fireball, David Gregory will be the crazed loon up on the roof like Jimmy Cagney in White Heat: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” At last, some actual must-see TV on that lousy network.
But, even if we’re denied that pleasure, the “dumbest media story of 2012” is actually rather instructive. David Gregory intended to demonstrate what he regards as the absurdity of America’s lax gun laws. Instead, he’s demonstrating the ever greater absurdity of America’s non-lax laws. His investigation, prosecution, and a sentence of 20–30 years with eligibility for parole after ten (assuming Mothers Against High-Capacity Magazines don’t object) would teach a far more useful lesson than whatever he thought he was doing by waving that clip under LaPierre’s nose.
To Howard Kurtz & Co., it’s “obvious” that Gregory didn’t intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, “obviousness” is one of the first casualties — and “obviously” innocent citizens have their “obviously” well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, eleven-year-old Skylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days. For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so “obvious” that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth grader? Because he’s got a TV show and she hasn’t?
He’s got a good argument. Read the whole thing.
03 Nov 2012
Mark Steyn scathingly reviews the recent performances of two chief executives.
In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era. In the days after Sandy hit, Barack Obama was generally agreed to have performed well. He had himself photographed in the White House Situation Room, nodding thoughtfully to bureaucrats (“John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; David Agnew, Director for Intergovernmental Affairs”) and Tweeted it to his 3.2 million followers. He appeared in New Jersey wearing a bomber jacket rather than a suit to demonstrate that when the going gets tough the tough get out a monogrammed Air Force One bomber jacket. He announced that he’d instructed his officials to answer all calls within 15 minutes because in America “we leave nobody behind.” By doing all this, the president “shows” he “cares” – which is true in the sense that in Benghazi he was willing to leave the entire consulate staff behind, and nobody had their calls answered within seven hours, because presumably he didn’t care. ...
Last week, Nanny Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, rivaled his own personal best for worst mayoral performance since that snowstorm a couple of years back. This is a man who spends his days micromanaging the amount of soda New Yorkers are allowed to have in their beverage containers rather than, say, the amount of ocean New Yorkers are allowed to have in their subway system – just as, in the previous crisis, the municipal titan who can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger proved utterly incapable of regulating any salt on to Sixth Avenue. Imagine if this preening buffoon had expended as much executive energy on flood protection for the electrical grid and transit system as he does on approved quantities of carbonated beverages. But that’s leadership 21st-century style: When the going gets tough, the tough ban trans fats.
Back in Benghazi, the president who looks so cool in a bomber jacket declined to answer his beleaguered diplomats’ calls for help – even though he had aircraft and Special Forces in the region. Too bad. He’s all jacket and no bombers. This, too, is an example of America’s uniquely profligate impotence. When something goes screwy at a ramshackle consulate halfway round the globe, very few governments have the technological capacity to watch it unfold in real time. Even fewer have deployable military assets only a couple of hours away. What is the point of unmanned drones, of military bases around the planet, of elite Special Forces trained to the peak of perfection if the president and the vast bloated federal bureaucracy cannot rouse themselves to action? What is the point of outspending Russia, Britain, France, China, Germany and every middle-rank military power combined if, when it matters, America cannot urge into the air one plane with a couple of dozen commandoes? In Iraq, al-Qaida is running training camps in the western desert. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are all but certain to return most of the country to its pre-9/11 glories. But in Washington the head of the world’s biggest “counterterrorism” bureaucracy briefs the president on flood damage and downed trees.
I don’t know whether Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can fix things, but I do know that Barack Obama and Joe Biden won’t even try – and that therefore a vote for Obama is a vote for the certainty of national collapse.
Read the whole thing.
30 Sep 2012
His Obamaness addresses the UN General Assembly.
Mark Steyn tops Obama’s rhetoric with his own satirical rap.
One of the reasons why Barack Obama is regarded as the greatest orator of our age is that he’s always banging on about some other age yet to come — e.g., the Future! A future of whose contours he is remarkably certain and boundlessly confident: The future will belong to nations that invest in education because the children are our future, but the future will not belong to nations that do not invest in green-energy projects because solar-powered prompters are our future, and most of all the future will belong to people who look back at the Obama era and marvel that there was a courageous far-sighted man willing to take on the tough task of slowing the rise of the oceans because the future will belong to people on viable land masses. This futuristic shtick is a cheap’n’cheesy rhetorical device (I speak as the author of a book called “After America,” whose title is less futuristic than you might think) but it seems to play well with the impressionable Obammysoxers of the press corps.
And so it was with President Obama’s usual visionary, inspiring, historic, etc., address to the U.N. General Assembly the other day: “The future must not belong to those who bully women,” he told the world, in a reference either to Egyptian clitoridectomists or the Republican party, according to taste. “The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians,” he added. You mean those Muslim guys? Whoa, don’t jump to conclusions. “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam,” he declared, introducing to U.S. jurisprudence the novel concept of being able to slander a bloke who’s been dead for getting on a millennium and a half now. If I understand correctly the cumulative vision of the speech, the future will belong to gay feminist ecumenical Muslims. You can take that to the bank. But make no mistake, as he would say, and in fact did: “We face a choice between the promise of the future or the prisons of the past, and we cannot afford to get it wrong.” Because if we do, we could spend our future living in the prisons of the past, which we forgot to demolish in the present for breach of wheelchair-accessibility codes.
And the crowd went wild! Well, okay, they didn’t. They’re transnational bureaucrats on expense accounts, so they clapped politely, and then nipped out for a bathroom break before the president of Serbia. But, if I’d been one of the globetrotting bigwigs fortunate enough to get an invite — the prime minister of Azerbaijan, say, or the deputy tourism minister of Equatorial Guinea — I would have responded: Well, maybe the future will belong to those who empower women and don’t diss Mohammed. But maybe it’ll belong to albino midgets who wear pink thongs. Who knows? Que sera sera, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see. But one thing we can say for certain is that the future will not belong to broke losers. You’re the brokest guy in the room, you’re the president of Brokistan. You’ve got to pay back $16 trillion just to get back to having nothing, nada, zip. Who the hell are you to tell us who the future’s going to belong to?
Read the whole thing.
The idea of Progress, the notion that change is good and the past is bad, is an essential ingredient of liberal pseudointellectuality.
Sure, we keep getting better gadgets as time goes by. We gloat over having personal computers and the Internet now, the way my parents used to congratulate themselves on having television and owning an automobile, and my grandparents rejoiced over indoor plumbing and electric lights. We generally live longer, too. But progress is hardly uniformly upward. As technology gets better, it seems that concomitantly the sphere of personal liberty diminishes, the volume of laws and regulations climbs skyward, material culture gets cheaper and shoddier, our music and entertainment becomes coarser, our journalism more corrupt, and the character of the typical American grows feebler and more dependent. People my age commonly watch the old black & white films on Turner Classics rather wishing we could go back and live in that terrible old-fashioned America that Barack Obama consistently condemns once again.
15 Sep 2012
Barack Obama enters the auditorium for his Las Vegas campaign rally yesterday.
As the caskets containing the bodies of four slain Americans were being unloaded from the plane, Barack Obama was tweeting about campaign sweatshirts.
We also learned today that the same Hillary Clinton who early on banned military uniforms from the Clinton White House signed the rules of engagement that left the US Ambassador in Benghazi without Marine protection and defended by local guards without ammunition.
“It was the policy of the Obama administration to have a low profile in Libya. That’s why the rules of engagement were approved by the Secretary of State to have no Marines at Benghazi, and to have an American contractor hire Libyan nationals to provide security there. The rules were they couldn’t have ammunition.”
Mark Steyn, the Juvenal of the Decline and Fall of the American Republic, had some sharp comments.
When it comes to a flailing, blundering superpower, I am generally wary of ascribing to malevolence what is more often sheer stupidity and incompetence. For example, we’re told that, because the consulate in Benghazi was designated as an “interim facility,” it did not warrant the level of security and protection that, say, an embassy in Scandinavia would have. This seems all too plausible – that security decisions are made not by individual human judgment but according to whichever rule-book sub-clause at the Federal Agency of Bureaucratic Facilities Regulation it happens to fall under. However, the very next day the embassy in Yemen, which is a permanent facility, was also overrun, as was the embassy in Tunisia the day after. Look, these are tough crowds, as the president might say at Caesar’s Palace. But we spend more money on these joints than anybody else, and they’re as easy to overrun as the Belgian Consulate.
I’m inclined to be generous, and put some of this down to the natural torpor and ineptitude of government. But Hillary Clinton and Gen. Martin Dempsey are guilty of something worse, in the Secretary of State’s weirdly obsessive remarks about an obscure film supposedly disrespectful of Mohammed and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ telephone call to a private citizen, asking him if he could please ease up on the old Islamophobia.
In this case, as Secretary Clinton and Gen. Dempsey well know, the film has even less to do with anything than did the Danish cartoons or the schoolteacher’s teddy bear or any of the other innumerable grievances of Islam. The 400-strong assault force in Benghazi showed up with RPGs and mortars: that’s not a spontaneous movie protest; that’s an act of war, and better planned and executed than the dying superpower’s response to it. Secretary Clinton and Gen. Dempsey are, to put it mildly, misleading the American people when they suggest otherwise.
One can understand why they might do this, given the fiasco in Libya. The men who organized this attack knew the ambassador would be at the consulate in Benghazi rather than at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. How did that happen? They knew when he had been moved from the consulate to a “safe house,” and switched their attentions accordingly. How did that happen? The United States government lost track of its ambassador for 10 hours. How did that happen? Perhaps, when they’ve investigated Mitt Romney’s press release for another three or four weeks, the court eunuchs of the American media might like to look into some of these fascinating questions, instead of leaving the only interesting reporting on an American story to the foreign press.
For whatever reason, Secretary Clinton chose to double down on misleading the American people. “Libyans carried Chris’ body to the hospital,” said Mrs. Clinton. That’s one way of putting it. The photographs at the Arab TV network al-Mayadeen show Chris Stevens’ body being dragged through the streets, while the locals take souvenir photographs on their cellphones. A man in a red striped shirt photographs the dead-eyed ambassador from above; another immediately behind his head moves the splayed arm and holds his cellphone camera an inch from the ambassador’s nose. Some years ago, I had occasion to assist in moving the body of a dead man: We did not stop to take photographs en route. Even allowing for cultural differences, this looks less like “carrying Chris’ body to the hospital” and more like barbarians gleefully feasting on the spoils of savagery.
In a rare appearance on a non-showbiz outlet, President Obama, winging it on Telemundo, told his host that Egypt was neither an ally nor an enemy. I can understand why it can be difficult to figure out, but here’s an easy way to tell: Bernard Lewis, the great scholar of Islam, said some years ago that America risked being seen as harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend. At the Benghazi consulate, the looters stole “sensitive” papers revealing the names of Libyans who’ve cooperated with the United States. Oh, well. As the president would say, obviously our hearts are with you.
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the local doctor who fingered bin Laden to the Americans sits in jail. In other words, while America’s clod vice-president staggers around, pimping limply that only Obama had the guts to take the toughest decision anyone’s ever had to take, the poor schlub who actually did have the guts, who actually took the tough decision in a part of the world where taking tough decisions can get you killed, languishes in a cell because Washington would not lift a finger to help him.
Like I said, no novelist would contrast Chris Stevens on the streets of Benghazi and Barack Obama on stage in Vegas. Too crude, too telling, too devastating.
03 Jun 2012
Anselm Kiefer, Abendland (Twilight of the West), 1989
Mark Steyn gloomily predicts that the attempts of politicians to deliver material comfort, cradle-to-the-grave security, and substantial life intervals of leisure to the masses are not compatible with economic reality.
In the twilight of the West, America and Europe are still different but only to this extent: They’ve wound up taking separate paths to the same destination. Whether you get there via an artificial common currency for an invented pseudo-jurisdiction or through quantitative easing and the global decline of the dollar, whether you spend your final years in the care of Medicare or the National Health Service death panels, whether higher education is just another stage of cradle-to-grave welfare or you have a trillion dollars’ worth of personal college debt, in 2012 the advanced Western social-democratic citizen looks pretty similar, whether viewed from Greece or Germany, California or Quebec.
That’s to say, the unsustainable “bubble” is not student debt or subprime mortgages or anything else. The bubble is us, and the assumptions of entitlement. Too many citizens of advanced Western democracies live a life they have not earned, and are not willing to earn. ...
Look around you. The late-20th-century Western lifestyle isn’t going to be around much longer. In a few years’ time, our children will look at old TV commercials showing retirees dancing, golfing, cruising away their sixties and seventies, and wonder what alternative universe that came from. In turn, their children will be amazed to discover that in the early 21st century the Western world thought it entirely normal that vast swathes of the citizenry should while away their youth enjoying what, a mere hundred years earlier, would have been the leisurely varsity of the younger son of a Mitteleuropean Grand Duke.
As usual, Mark Steyn’s rhetoric is well worth the read, but I do not entirely agree.
I think it’s true that the dynamic of egalitarian democracy by its nature faces the fundamental danger of an ongoing benefits auction for the masses’ political support which will always in the end wind up devouring too great a portion of the economy resulting in disaster.
But I think myself, on the other hand, that, if government regulation and economic meddling were minimized and the burden of taxation was modest, economic growth could create and sustain an economically-independent and leisured middle class, much larger than the vanished one which existed in Britain and America before 1914. It’s just not possible to lift all the boats all at once.
I do strongly agree with Mark Steyn that our current model of near-universal college education, consisting of four years of leisure and good times combined with plenty of left-wing indoctrination, represents a simply astounding waste of human energy and talent.
Between useless high school and useless college, millions upon millions of people today fritter away what are actually their most healthy, energetic, and potentially productive years imbibing modest quantities of learning, having a good time, and being flattered into believing that are members of an omniscient elite charged with the revolutionary overthrow of a wicked and stupid past. It would be infinitely better all the way around if 90+% of everyone simply went to work at 13, as my parents’ generation generally did.
22 Apr 2012
Mark Steyn is in good form.
What we know so far is this: All eleven Secret Service men and all ten U.S. military personnel staying at the Hotel Caribe are alleged to have had “escorts” in their rooms that night. All of them. The entire team.
Twenty-one U.S. public servants. Twenty-one Colombian whores. Unless a couple of the senior guys splashed out for the two-girl special. “Some of them were saying they didn’t know they were prostitutes,” explained Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
“Some are saying they were women at the bar.”
Amazing to hear government agents channeling Dudley Moore in Arthur: “You’re a hooker? I thought I was doing so well.” It turns out U.S. Secret Service agents are the only men who can walk into a Colombian nightclub and not spot the professionals. Are they really the guys you want protecting the president?
Congress is not happy about this. “It was totally wrong to take a foreign national back to a hotel when the president is about to arrive,” said Representative King.
It’s wrong to take a “foreign national” up to the room, but it would have been okay if she’d been from Des Moines? We’re all in favor of outsourcing, but in compliance with Section 27(e)viii of the PATRIOT Act this is the one job Americans will do?
11 Apr 2012
National Review’s firing of John Derbyshire as the result of his publishing some uncomplimentary opinions about African Americans in a totally different venue struck several conservative commentators, including yours truly, as a cowardly and conformist expression of eyes-on-the-main-chance, professional “realism.”
NR’s Rich Lowry did not actually bow to what David Weigel described as a “micro-movement building [on the left -JDZ] to shame National Review into firing Derbyshire.” He threw Derbyshire directly under the political correctness bus before the left had really begun to howl for blood.
Those of us on the sidelines shrugged, and grimaced a little with distaste, over one more disagreeable example of life in today’s United States in the Second Era of Reconstruction and We-Know-Better social engineering and thought control, but it wasn’t until Gawker published an interview on Monday with John Derbyshire, which incidentally revealed that he is suffering from Leukemia and undergoing Chemotherapy, that the full dimensions of National Review’s actions came into focus.
NR did not just dismiss one of its eccentric and quarrelsome loose cannon contributors for injudicious commentary. NR instantly made a cover-its-own-ass at any cost decision, and facing a minor PC controversy in the middle of a period of time in which racial politics and controversies are actively raging, ruthlessly turned on one of its own they obviously knew was gravely ill.
I’d say that kind of behavior reflects a much more serious discredit on National Review than offenses against the community of fashion’s code of speech propriety ever could.
About the only positive thing I can find to say for NR is, at least they let Mark Steyn criticize NR’s actions on their own web-site.
The Left is pretty clear about its objectives on everything from climate change to immigration to gay marriage: Rather than win the debate, they’d just as soon shut it down. They’ve had great success in shrinking the bounds of public discourse, and rendering whole areas of public policy all but undiscussable. In such a climate, my default position is that I’d rather put up with whatever racist/sexist/homophobic/Islamophobic/whateverphobic excess everybody’s got the vapors about this week than accept ever tighter constraints on “acceptable” opinion. ...
The net result of Derb’s summary execution by NR will be further to shrivel the parameters, and confine debate in this area to ever more unreal fatuities. He knew that mentioning the Great Unmentionables would sooner or later do him in, and, in an age when shrieking “That’s totally racist!” is totally gay, he at least has the rare satisfaction of having earned his colors. Yet what are we to make of wee, inoffensive Dave Weigel over at Slate? The water still churning with blood, the sharks are circling poor old Dave for the sin of insufficiently denouncing the racist Derbyshire. Weigel must go for not enthusiastically bellowing, “Derbyshire must go!” Come to think of it, I should probably go for querying whether Weigel should go.
NR shouldn’t be rewarding those who want to play this game. The more sacrifices you offer up, the more ravenously the volcano belches.
PS If Derb’s piece is sufficiently beyond the pale that its author must be terminated immediately, why is its publisher — our old friend Taki — proudly listed on the NR masthead?
18 Mar 2012
Some of the basic objectionable features of liberalism include a profound contempt for the past combined with an overwheening sense of personal superiority. Barack Obama excels at embodying liberalism.
His energy policy speech, delivered on Thursday at Prince George Community College, was a truly classic performance, featuring an utterly empty and fraudulent claim to eminence based upon superior learning and understanding embodied in a series of totally erroneous self-flattering comparisons.
Barack Obama demonstrated, once and for all, that he is an historically-illiterate imbecile, too ignorant, vainglorious, and incompetent to factcheck supposed historical claims, which really constituted a series of excellent examples of “things every badly educated idiot know to be true,” all of which were dead wrong.
Mark Steyn did a fine job of kicking Barack Obama’s boneheaded and abysmally ignorant butt around the block for this one, not failing to remind his readers of the time liberal presidential historian Michael Beschloss (Andover, Williams, Harvard) shared his opinion with the savant Don Imus that Barack Obama “is a guy whose IQ is off the charts” and “probably the smartest guy ever to become president.” The gods of history fell over laughing.
As John Hinderaker reports “the smartest guy ever to become president”’s public pratfall was not without consequences. A new Internet meme of captioned portraits of Rutherford B. Hayes, avenging himself for Barack Obozo’s inaccurate slights, has taken off and become a craze.
You can see page after page of examples via this QuickMeme link.
09 Jan 2012
Mark Steyn titled his excellent frustrated rant “Debate Night in the Titanic Ballroom.”
This country is broke, and the unprecedented scale of its brokeness is an existential threat. Yet, with the exception of Newt’s occasional flashes of contempt for the questioners, everyone else plays along with this absurd game. It’s not merely that the GOP is letting the left frame the contest but that a party willing to dignify this pitiful charade is sending a broader message about the likelihood of its mustering the determination to stand up to a Democrat-media establishment once in office and effect meaningful course correction.
I see Terence Jeffrey and Andy McCarthy are having a disagreement about the correct response to a question on gay adoption. The correct response is to take an unconstitutional federally-funded supersized condom, roll it over George Stephanopoulos’ head, and say, “That’s odd. I can no longer hear a word you’re saying. So let me throw in my two bits on impending multi-trillion-dollar ruin…”
Newt Gingrich remains the only GOP candidate rebellious enough occasionally to resist representatives of the mainstream media calling all the shots, defining all the issues, and orchestrating Republican debates to serve their own agenda, so I still prefer Gingrich of the available choices.
02 Oct 2011
The Emperor has no clothes.
Mark Steyn has a few choice comments, as the chattering classes’ major case of buyer’s remorse becomes ever increasingly the topic of the day.
“Obamaism” was the Emperor’s new centrism: To a fool such as your average talk-radio host, His Majesty appears to be a man of minimal accomplishments other than self-promotion marinated in a radical faculty-lounge view of the world and the role of government. But, to a wise man such as your average presidential historian or New York Times columnist, he is the smartest guy ever to become president.
In part, this is a natural extension of an ever more conformist and unrepresentative establishment’s view of where “the center” is. On issues from abortion to climate change, a Times man or Hollywood activist or media professor’s notion of “centrism” is well to the left of where American opinion is.
That’s one reason why a supposedly “center-right” nation has wound up regulated into sclerosis, drowning in debt and embarking on its last decade as the world’s leading economy.
But in the case of Obama the chasm between soft, seductive, politico-media “centrism” and hard, grim reality is too big to bridge, and getting wider all the time.
You would think this might prompt some sober reflection from an American mainstream media dying in part because of its dreary ideological conformity. After all, a key reason why 53% voted for a man who was not, in Tina Brown’s word, “ready” is that Tina and all her pals assured us he was.
Occidental, Columbia, Harvard Law, a little light community organizing, a couple of years timeserving in a state legislature: That’s what America’s elites regard as an impressive resume rather than a bleak indictment of contemporary notions of “accomplishment.”
Obama would not have withstood scrutiny in any society with a healthy, skeptical press. Yet, like the high-rolling Wall Street moneybags, they failed to do due diligence.
Read the whole thing.
25 Sep 2011
Mark Steyn looks at the pre-2012 political jockeying taking place in America these days and the European economic mess and feels in the mood for a little doom and gloom.
I mentioned in this space a few weeks ago the IMF’s calculation that China will become the planet’s leading economic power by the year 2016. And I added that, if that proves correct, it means the fellow elected next November will be the last president of the United States to preside over the world’s dominant economy. I thought that line might catch on. After all, we’re always told that every election is the most critical consequential watershed election of all time, but this one actually would be: For the first time since Grover Cleveland’s first term, America would be electing a global also-ran. But there’s not a lot of sense of America’s looming date with destiny in these presidential debates. I don’t mean so much from the candidates as from their media interrogators — which is more revealing of where the meter on our political conversation is likely to be during the general election. On Thursday night, there was a question on gays in the military but none on the accelerating European debt crisis. It is certainly important to establish whether a would-be president is sufficiently non-homophobic to authorize a crack team of lesbian paratroopers to rappel into the Chinese treasury, break the safe, and burn all our IOUs. But the curious complacency about the bigger questions is disturbing. ...
In a perfect snapshot of this administration’s witless banality, the president traveled last week to the Brent Spence Bridge across the Ohio River and claimed that, despite the fact that the structure connects the home states of the Republican House leader and the Republican Senate leader, the meanspirited GOP is going to kill the jobs bill and thus all prospects for a new bridge between their two states.
The bridge has nothing to do with the jobs bill. Work on a new bridge is not scheduled to begin for four years and wouldn’t be completed until 2022 at the earliest. Because in the Republic at twilight you can run up another seven-and-a-half-trillion dollars of new debt in less time than it takes to put up a bridge. Even as cheap political showboating the president’s photo op was a pathetic joke, with the laugh on you.
If this is the best America can do, there won’t be a 2022, not for the United States, or anything that would be recognizable as such.
Read the whole thing.
24 Sep 2011
Jose Orgetga y Gasset
Mark Anthony Signorelli turns his review of Mark Steyn’s After America: Get Ready for Armageddon into an essay supplementary to Steyn’s book, arguing the author’s view of cause and effect can be improved by reading a much earlier (1930) attack on the same forces of dissolution by the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset.
Throughout his book, Steyn catalogues the demoralizing effects of unlimited government upon the American citizenry. No one can ignore the power of the case he presents. But as much as government overreach erodes the character of a people, the debased character of a people manifests itself in arbitrary government. Bad institutions make bad people, but bad people also make bad institutions. Our ugly politics is every bit a reflection of our cultural failings as are our worthless schools. Steyn is not unaware of these facts; one of the passages I found most compelling in his book was when he argues that the truly horrifying thing about the rise of Obama was the fact that the majority of the American people had been duped by such an evident buffoon. Our folly created his administration, and all of its works. So Steyn clearly understands the way a people’s faults can manifest themselves in inept government. Still, the obvious emphasis of his book is on the causal relationship which runs opposite, on the way that inept government debases the character of a people. I think that emphasis is misplaced; I think the effects of a people’s character on the character of their government are more fundamental, more decisive to their happiness, and more subject to reform than the effects which flow from a corrupted government upon the citizenry. Or, to put the point in a different way, I believe that culture is far more consequential for the maintenance of a well-ordered community than politics. Steyn himself advises that, “changing the culture is more important than changing the politics,” but since the emphasis of his book is on the way that bad politics has changed our culture for the worse, he actually seems to undermine this bit of advice.
The book that most effectively delineates the ruinous social mechanisms of liberal democracy is The Revolt of the Masses, by the early twentieth-century philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset. For Ortega, modern western society was marked by the rise to power of the “mass-man,” the unqualified or uncultivated man, who, lacking all necessary intellectual and moral training in the duties of civic life, had nonetheless asserted his immutable right to impose his own mediocrity of spirit upon society: “The characteristic of the hour is that the commonplace mind, knowing itself to be commonplace, has the assurance to proclaim the rights of the commonplace and to impose them wherever it will.” The mass-man is not bound by any traditions or maxims of prudence; he cares only about having his own way in the world. And when he is taught (as all modern political theory teaches him) that the state is a manifestation of his own will, he freely grants it an unlimited scope of action, just as he (theoretically) grants himself a perfect freedom of action: “This is the gravest danger that today threatens civilization: State intervention, the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State…when the mass suffers any ill-fortune, or simply feels some strong appetite, its great temptation is that permanent, sure possibility of obtaining everything – merely by touching a button and setting the mighty machine in motion.” The consequences of this trend are catastrophic:
The result of this tendency will be fatal. Spontaneous social action will be broken up over and over again by State intervention; no new seed will be able to fructify. Society will have to live for the State, man for the governmental machine. And as, after all, it is only a machine whose existence and maintenance depend on the vital supports around it, the State, after sucking out the very marrow of society, will be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that rusty death of machinery, more gruesome than the death of a living organism.
Exactly as Steyn describes it in his book, some eighty years later. But what Ortega makes us see is that “big government” results from the prior moral corruption of the people, in particular from their unbounded self-love and self-assurance. It destroys them in the end, but at the first, it was their creature.
Read the whole thing. This one is a must-read.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
10 Sep 2011
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “911 Peace Story Quilt”
Mark Steyn rants understandably enough at the Saturnalia of Snivelling on the part of our wiser and better fellow countrymen belonging to the urban arts and political communities occasioned by the 10th Anniversary of the Islamic Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.
Aside from firemen, Mayor Bloomberg’s official commemoration hasn’t got any room for clergy, either, what with all Executive Deputy Assistant Directors of Healing and Outreach who’ll be there. One reason why there’s so little room at Ground Zero is because it’s still a building site. As I write in my new book, 9/11 was something America’s enemies did to us; the 10-year hole is something we did to ourselves – and, in its way, the interminable bureaucratic sloth is surely as eloquent as anything Nanny Bloomberg will say in his remarks.
In Shanksville, Pa., the zoning and permitting processes are presumably less arthritic than in Lower Manhattan, but the Flight 93 memorial has still not been completed. There were objections to the proposed “Crescent of Embrace” on the grounds that it looked like an Islamic crescent pointing towards Mecca. The defense of its designers was that, au contraire, it’s just the usual touchy-feely huggy-weepy pansy-wimpy multiculti effete healing diversity mush. It doesn’t really matter which of these interpretations is correct, since neither of them has anything to do with what the passengers of Flight 93 actually did a decade ago. 9/11 was both Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid rolled into one, and the fourth flight was the only good news of the day, when citizen volunteers formed themselves into an ad hoc militia and denied Osama bin Laden what might have been his most spectacular victory. A few brave individuals figured out what was going on and pushed back within half-an-hour. But we can’t memorialize their sacrifice within a decade. And when the architect gets the memorial brief, he naturally assumes there’s been a typing error and that “Let’s roll!” should really be “Let’s roll over!”
And so we commemorate an act of war as a “tragic event,” and we retreat to equivocation, cultural self-loathing, and utterly fraudulent misrepresentation about the events of the day. In the weeks after 9/11, Americans were enjoined to ask “Why do they hate us?” A better question is: “Why do they despise us?” And the quickest way to figure out the answer is to visit the Peace Quilt and the Wish Tree, the Crescent of Embrace and the Hole of Bureaucratic Inertia.
Donald Trump is basically an idiot, but he is not a pretentious ass, so even he could see that what real leadership would have done in response to the 9/11 attacks’ destruction of New York City’s World Trade Center Towers. Real leadership would have commenced immediately on rebuilding exactly the same buildings at the identical site and location, and would have grasped the symbolic importance of putting them back up as quickly as possible, only one story taller.
Real leadership obviously didn’t, and doesn’t, exist in New York City and New York State, only obfuscating, obstructing, hot air and sanctimony and conformity producing anti-leadership. Ten years have gone by, and replacement buildings are not up yet. They have instead created an amazing anti-monument to ruin and destruction with two deep water-filled holes occupying the actual former locations of the towers. I think one deep, useless, water-filled hole must be taken to symbolize the void where the intelligence of the city, state, and regional leadership ought to have been, and the second void must represent their missing masculine qualities, the absent courage, flair, and instinctive spirit of defiance of the same: one hole symbolizes their lack of brains, the other their lack of balls.
07 Aug 2011
Rembrandt, Belshazzar’s Feast, 1635, National Gallery, London
Mark Steyn, in his customarily brilliant manner, reflects on the scope and significance of the federal debt.
The fecklessness of Washington is an existential threat not only to the solvency of the republic but to the entire global order. If Ireland goes under, it’s lights out on Galway Bay. When America goes under, it drags the rest of the developed world down with it. When I go around the country saying stuff like this, a lot of folks agree. Somewhere or other, they’ve a vague memory of having seen a newspaper story accompanied by a Congressional Budget Office graph with the line disappearing off the top of the page and running up the wall and into the rafters circa mid-century. So they usually say, “Well, fortunately I won’t live to see it.” And I always reply that, unless you’re a centenarian with priority boarding for the ObamaCare death panel, you will live to see it. Forget about mid-century. We’ve got until mid-decade to turn this thing around.
Otherwise, by 2020 just the interest payments on the debt will be larger than the U.S. military budget. That’s not paying down the debt, but merely staying current on the servicing — like when you get your MasterCard statement and you can’t afford to pay off any of what you borrowed but you can just about cover the monthly interest charge. Except in this case the interest charge for U.S. taxpayers will be greater than the military budgets of China, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, India, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Spain, Turkey, and Israel combined.
When interest payments consume about 20 percent of federal revenues, that means a fifth of your taxes are entirely wasted. Pious celebrities often simper that they’d be willing to pay more in taxes for better government services. But a fifth of what you pay won’t be going to government services at all, unless by “government services” you mean the People’s Liberation Army of China, which will be entirely funded by U.S. taxpayers by about 2015. When the Visigoths laid siege to Rome in 408, the imperial Senate hastily bought off the barbarian king Alaric with 5,000 pounds of gold and 30,000 pounds of silver. But they didn’t budget for Roman taxpayers picking up the tab for the entire Visigoth military as a permanent feature of life.
Read the whole thing.
I think myself that Mark is overlooking the obvious detail: that when, as he puts it, “you get your MasterCard statement and you can’t afford to pay off any of what you borrowed but you can just about cover the monthly interest charge,” before much longer you wind up stiffing all your credit cards and burning your credit rating for the next decade. The government equivalent of stiffing credit cards consists of inflating your currency, so you can pay your debts after all using funny money worth a small fraction of what it was at the time those debts were incurred.
The US Government has not overlooked this solution. Remember Quantitative Easing? It is already underway and in process. I’m not sure who it was that remarked “Inflation is the cruelest tax,” but he was clearly right. Inflation rewards the improvident and punishes the responsible. Inflation strips the middle class of its accumulated savings in order to relieve the government of its debt.
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