Recently in Mark Steyn Category

Mark Steyn so often can capture reality in a way we all can understand.

All those big numbers in the Obama budget. What do they mean?

It's not the "debt" or the "deficit," it's the spending. And the only way to reduce that is with fewer government agencies, fewer government programs, fewer government employees, lower government salaries.

The horrifying fact is that the example of federal spending is being followed in too many states and cities and towns. Raise taxes to spend more and still the spending increases.


UNSUSTAINABLE

We are incentivizing financial unsustainability.

Mark Steyn

At the National Prayer Breakfast, Barack Obama singled out for praise Navy Corpsman Christian Bouchard. Or as the president called him, "Corpseman Bouchard." Twice.

Hey, not a big deal. Throughout his life, the commander-in-chief has had little contact with the military, and less interest. And, when you give as many speeches as this guy does, there's no time to rehearse or read through: You just gotta fire up the prompter and wing it. But it's revealing that nobody around him in the so-called smartest administration of all time thought to spell it out phonetically for him when the speech got typed up and loaded into the machine. Which suggests that either his minders don't know that he doesn't know that kinda stuff, or they don't know it either. To put it in Rumsfeldian terms, they don't know what they don't know.

Which is embarrassingly true. Hence, the awful flop speeches, from the Copenhagen Olympics to the Berlin Wall anniversary video to the Martha Coakley rally. The palpable whiff given off by the White House inner circle is that they're the last people on the planet still besotted by Barack Obama, and that they're having such a cool time starring in their own reality-show remake of The West Wing they can only conceive of the public -- and, indeed, the world -- as crowd-scene extras in The Barack Obama Show: They expect you to cheer and wave flags when the floor-manager tells you to, but the notion that in return he should be able to persuade you of the merits of his policies seems entirely to have eluded them.

But, since Obama's mispronunciation is a pithier summation of the State of the Union than any of the dreary 90-minute sludge he paid his speechwriters for, let us consider it: Is America a Corpseman walking?

Well, we're getting there. National Review's Jim Geraghty sums up Obama's America thus: "Unsustainable is the new normal." Indeed. The other day, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, described current deficits as "unsustainable." So let's make them even more so. The president tells us, with a straight face, that his grossly irresponsible profligate wastrel of a predecessor took the federal budget on an eight-year joyride, so the only way his sober, fiscally prudent successor can get things under control is to grab the throttle and crank it up to what Mel Brooks in Spaceballs (which seems the appropriate comparison) called "Ludicrous Speed."

Obama's spending proposes to take the average Bush deficit for the years 2001-2008, and double it, all the way to 2020. To get out of the Bush hole, we need to dig a hole twice as deep for one-and-a-half times as long. And that's according to the official projections of his Economics Czar, Ms. Rose Colored-Glasses. By 2015, the actual hole may be so deep that even if you toss every Obama speech down it on double-spaced paper you still won't be able to fill it up. In the spendthrift Bush days, federal spending as a proportion of GDP average 19.6 percent. Obama proposes to crank it up to 25 percent as a permanent feature of life.

But, if they're "unsustainable," what happens when they can no longer be sustained? A failure of bond auctions? A downgraded government debt rating? Reduced GDP growth? Total societal collapse? Mad Max on the New Jersey Turnpike?

Testifying to the House Budget Committee, Director Elmendorf attempted to pull back from the wilder shores of "unsustainable": "I think most observers expect that the government will act, that the unsustainability will be resolved through action, not through witnessing some collapse down the road," he said. "If literally nothing is done, then eventually something very, very bad happens. But I think the widespread view is that you and your colleagues will take action."

Dream on, you kinky fantasist. The one thing that can be guaranteed is that a political class led by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, a handful of reach-across-the-aisle Republican accomodationists and an economically illiterate narcissist in the Oval Office is never going to rein in unsustainable spending in any meaningful sense. That leaves Director Elmendorf's alternative scenario. What was it again? Oh, yeah: "Some collapse down the road."

Speaking of roads, I see that, according to USA Today, when the economic downturn began, the U.S. Department of Transportation had just one employee making over $170,000. A year and a half later, it has 1,690.

Happy days are here again!

Did you get your pay raise this year? What's that, you don't work for the government? Yes, you do, one way or another. Good luck relying on Obama, Pelosi, Frank, and the other Emirs of Kleptocristan "taking action" to "resolve" that. In the last month, the cost of insuring Greece's sovereign debt against default has doubled. Spain and Portugal are headed the same way. When you binge-spend at the Greek level in a democratic state, there aren't many easy roads back. The government has introduced an austerity package to rein in spending. In response, Greek tax collectors have walked off the job.

Read that again slowly: To protest government cuts, striking tax collectors are refusing to collect taxes. In a sane world, this would be a hilarious TV comedy sketch. But most of the Western world is no longer sane. It's tough enough to persuade the town drunk to sober up, but when everyone's face down in the moonshine, maybe it's best just to head for the hills. But where to flee? America is choosing to embrace Greece's future when even the Greeks have figured out you can't make it add up. Consider the opening paragraph of Martin Crutsinger, "AP Economics Writer": "WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama sent Congress a $3.83 trillion budget on Monday that would pour more money into the fight against high unemployment, boost taxes on the wealthy and freeze spending for a wide swath of government programs."

What language is that written in? How can a $3.83 trillion budget "freeze spending"? And where's the president getting all this money to "pour" into his "fight" against high unemployment? Would it perchance be from the same small businesses that might be hiring new workers if the president didn't need so much money to "pour" away? Heigh-ho. Maybe we can all be striking tax collectors. It seems a comfortable life . . .

If unsustainable is the new normal, it should also be the new national anthem. Take it away, Natalie Cole:

"Unsustainable
That's what you are
Unsustainable
Though near or far
Like a ton of debt you've dropped on us
How the thought of you has flopped on us
Never before
Has someone spent more . . . "

It's not the "debt" or the "deficit," it's the spending. And the only way to reduce that is with fewer government agencies, fewer government programs, fewer government employees, lower government salaries.

Instead, all four are rocketing up: We are incentivizing unsustainability, and, when it comes to "some collapse down the road," you'll be surprised how short that road is.

MARK STEYN: THE REAL LESSON OF FORT HOOD

Is Mark Steyn the only sane person writing about jihadism who will bluntly describe the insanity he sees and hears in this diversity and multiculturally plagued society?

Who else has the spine to call Army Chief of Staff General Casey "brain-addled" for his incredibly appalling and and morally bankrupt statement that if Fort Hood turns out to be a setback for diversity it would a worse outcome that the massacre itrself?.

Mark quotes his fellow warrior in the fight for freedom of speech in Canada Ezra Levant who made this chilling observation:

Ezra Levant, my comrade in a long battle to restore freedom of speech to Canada, likes to say that the Danish cartoons crisis may one day be seen as a more critical event than 9/11. Not, obviously, in the comparative death tolls but in what each revealed about the state of Western civilization. After 9/11, we fought back, hit hard, rolled up the Afghan camps; after the cartoons, we weaseled and equivocated and appeased and signaled that we were willing to trade core Western values for a quiet life. Watching the decadence and denial on display this past week, I think in years to come Fort Hood will be seen in a similar light. What happened is not a "tragedy" but a national scandal, already fading from view.

Mark in full.


Mark Steyn: A jihadist hiding in plain sight
By MARK STEYN in the Orange County Register
2009-11-13 11:55:01
Shortly after 9/11, there was a lot of talk about how no one would ever hijack an American airliner ever again - not because of new security arrangements but because an alert citizenry was on the case: We were hip to their jive. The point appeared to be proved three months later on a U.S.-bound Air France flight. The "Shoebomber" attempted to light his footwear, and the flight attendants and passengers pounced. As the more boorish commentators could not resist pointing out, even the French guys walloped him.

But the years go by, and the mood shifts. You didn't have to be "alert" to spot Maj. Nidal Hasan. He'd spent most of the past half-decade walking around with a big neon sign on his head saying "JIHADIST. STAND WELL BACK." But we (that's to say, almost all of us; and certainly almost anyone who matters in national security and the broader political culture) are now reflexively conditioned to ignore the flashing neon sign. Like those apocryphal Victorian ladies discreetly draping the lasciviously curved legs of their pianos, if a glimpse of hard unpleasant reality peeps through we simply veil it in another layer of fluffy illusions.

Continue reading . . .

As usual, Mark Steyn says it better than anybody:

For two years, the U.S. media have been polishing Obama's boots, mostly with their drool, to a degree unprecedented in American public life.

While he's oh so tough with Fox News, he's a laughingstock in Russia, Iran and North Korea, imperiling all Americans with his weakness.

October 24, 2009, 7:00 a.m. Mister Tough Guy Who are the real "Untouchables" here?

By Mark Steyn in National Review Online

Benjamin Disraeli's most famous advice to aspiring politicians was: "Never complain and never explain." For the greatest orator of our time, a man who makes Churchill, Lincoln, and Henry V at Agincourt look like first-round rejects on Orating with the Stars, Barack Obama seems to have pretty much given up on the explaining side. He tried it with health care with speech after speech after exclusive interview for months on end and the more he explained the more unpopular the whole racket got. So he declared that the time for explaining is over, and it's time to sign on or else.

Meanwhile, to take the other half of the Disraeli equation, Obama and his officials and their beleaguered band of surrogates never stop complaining. If you express concerns about government health care, they complain about all these "racists" and "domestic terrorists" obstructing his agenda. If you wonder why the president can't seem to find time in his hectic schedule of international-awards acceptance speeches to make a decision about Afghanistan, they complain that it's not his fault he "inherited" all these problems. And, if you wonder why his "green jobs" czar is a Communist 9/11 truther and his National Endowment for the Arts guy is leaning on grant recipients to produce Soviet-style propaganda extolling Obama policies, they complain about Fox News.

Continue. . .

SEXUAL FREEDOM AS LEADING INDICATOR

Sexual freedom in the west. Mark Steyn wonders, "What happens to other freedoms?"

Do you notice anything shrivelling?

Aug 27, 2009

by Mark Steyn in MacLeans

The other day CTV reported the astonishing statistic that in the whole of Canada there are just 33 sperm donors. That seems awfully low for a nation of 30 million people. Three sperm donors per province plus one per territory? Surely we can do better than that. All hands on deck!

Ah, but it's not as simple as that. Apparently, the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act makes it illegal to pay donors for sperm. I mean, it wasn't even the usual Canadian Wheat Board-type racket whereby you'd only be able to sell your seed to the Canadian Sperm Board at a price agreed upon by representatives of the federal-provincial Semen Commissions. Instead, they just nixed the whole deal, and, once Johnny Canuck found out he wasn't going to be remunerated, virtually the entire supply dried up.

As a result, this once proud Dominion now has to import sperm. According to CTV, 80 per cent of Canadian women who conceive through donor sperm are getting it from the United States, mainly from men in Georgia and northern Florida. Canada's future is now in American hands.
You know how it is: you wait ages for a good sperm story and then they all come at once. It seems there's also a shortage of the stuff in Sweden. But, in contrast to Canada, this is caused not by government intervention in supply but by a surge in demand, from Swedish lesbian couples anxious to conceive. Inga and Britta had been trying for a child for ages but nothing seemed to work. Then it occurred to them this might be because they're both women. So they headed off to the sperm clinic, whereupon the Sapphic demand ran into the problem of male inability to satisfy it. There appear to be higher than usual levels of non-functioning sperm.

Don't worry, I'm not being Swedophobic in mocking the watery emissions of Nordic manhood. It's a widespread problem: "Concern As Sperm Count Falls By A Third In UK Men" (the Daily Mail, 2004). Don't ask me why: I'd blame Tony Blair's cozying up to Bush were it not for "Sperm Count Drops 25 Per Cent In Younger Men" (the Independent, 1996), so maybe it was John Major pulling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Still, even for a demographic doom-monger such as myself, you could hardly ask for a more poignant fin de civilisation image than a stampede of broody lesbians stymied only by defective semen, like some strange dystopian collaboration between Robert Heinlein and Russ Meyer set in a world divided into muff divers and duff donors.

I wouldn't want to overly extrapolate from two minor news items, and I'd be quite happy to do cheap lesbo-seminal gags to the foot of the page, but the thought does occur that a visitor from the day before yesterday--say, the mid-20th century--would be befuddled by the problems we face in the dawn of the new millennium. The other day the Toronto Star, ever on the cutting edge in the hunt for new bigotries, turned in a fascinating report on the problems of air travel and . . . Go on, take a wild guess. Racial profiling? Ha! You piker! We're talking about gender profiling--in the sense that most of these squaresville Homeland Security types think there are men and there are women and that's pretty much it. As a result, many pre-operative transsexuals run into difficulties south of the border or when flying trans Atlantically, and that's before the introduction of "Whole Body Imaging" scanners where you may show up naked on the security screen packing a few too many extras. "Travelling for transpeople is always fraught with uncertainty," Ontario lawyer Nicole Nussbaum told the Star. "The current system doesn't match up with transpeople's lives."

Of course, no "system" could. I see that what I quaintly thought of as the Toronto Gay Pride Parade was officially billed this year as a parade to celebrate "the LGBTTIQQ2S communities."
LGBTTIQQ2S? Oh, come on. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgendered, Intersexual, Queer, Questioning and 2-Spirited. Where ya bin? 2-Spirited doesn't mean too spirited, as in Anne of Green Gables, but is supposedly some First Nations thing. Anyway, you can see why the "current system" of airport security has a hard time keeping up. Any day now, they'll introduce Intergendered and Transspirited, and by the time Mayor Miller has stumbled through the acronym in his official proclamation, the parade'll be over. So, when a Bigendering person shows up at the frontier, don't be surprised if the border guard comes over all 2-Questioning. Travel, explains the Star's Julia Steinecke, is "complicated for those who live in the grey area between genders."

Indeed. Flying is no place for "those who live in the grey area." Everything's black and white: Business or coach? Chicken or beef? "If you don't fit into a gender box," says "award-winning Canadian writer" Ivan E Coyote, "all of a sudden, you're a target." Mr./Ms. Coyote prefers to be addressed as he/she and self-identifies as a "very masculine reading estrogen-based organism." And the hicks at U.S. Customs and Border Protection don't have a check box for that. Mr./Ms. Coyote was recently detained at Ottawa Airport along with a friend who'd flown in from America, "a tall, feminine woman with a heavy moustache."

Well, that's her choice. His choice. Whatever. A few years ago, Kenneth Minogue of the London School of Economics wrote that ours is the age of "the new Epicureans" in which the "freedom to choose" trumps all. A childless couple can choose to conceive. A female couple can choose to conceive. A male couple--Barrie and Tony from Chelmsford, England--can choose to conceive and both be registered as the biological fathers of their children not so much on the technical grounds that they had "co-mingled" their sperm before shipping it out to their Fallopian time-share in California but out of a more basic sympathy that this is how Barrie and Tony "self-identify" and it would be cruel to deny them. A woman in Bend, Ore., can choose to become a man, and then a "pregnant man." A man can choose to become a woman. A man can choose to get halfway to becoming a woman, and then decide it's more fun to "live in the grey area." Biologically, Barrie or Tony, but not both, is the sole father of their child; the "pregnant man" is pregnant but not a man; the he/she living in "the grey area" is in reality black or white--at least according to what we used to call "the facts of life." But issuers of passports, drivers' licences, even birth certificates and no doubt one day U.S. Department of Homeland Security visas now defer to the principle of "self-identification."

In terms of sexual identity, we're freer than almost any society in human history, at least in terms of official validation of our choice to "redefine" ourselves in defiance of biological and physiological reality. And yet, if you accept that infertile couples and gay couples should be free to "have" babies by means of technology, why should you not be free to sell them the semen that enables them to do it? If you suggest that, say, "partial-birth abortion" (which is actually partial-birth infanticide) ought to be illegal, feminists will be out in the street chanting, "Keep your laws off my body!" and "Keep your rosaries off my ovaries!" But, when the government tells you you can't sell your own bodily fluid, which is, after all, about as basic a personal property as anything, there are no outraged progressives to chant "Keep your legislation off my ejaculation!"

At some point we will come to see that the developed world's massive expansion of personal sexual liberty has provided a useful cover for the shrivelling of almost every other kind. Free speech, property rights, economic liberty and the right to self-defence are under continuous assault by Big Government. But who cares when Big Government lets you shag anything that moves and every city in North America hosts a grand parade to celebrate your right to do so?

It's an oddly reductive notion of individual liberty. The noisier grow the novelties of our ever more banal individualism, the more the overall societal aesthetic seems drearily homogenized--like closing time in a karaoke bar with the last sad drunks bellowing off the prompter "I did it My Way!"

And in the end even the sex doesn't do it. In the Netherlands, the most progressive nation in Europe, the land where whatever's your bag is cool, where naked women beckon from storefront windows, a certain ennui is palpable. Last week, the ANP news agency released a poll showing that the Dutch now derive more pleasure from going to the bathroom than from sex. It wasn't a close-run thing: eighty per cent identified a trip to the toilet as the activity "they enjoy the most"--or, as the South African newspaper the Witness put it, "The Bog's Better Than Bonking." To modify Eliot, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a flush.

============================================================

One who commented (apparently a woman) got it exactly right:
Bang on, Mark! Ever since the ascent of the boomer generation, I have come to the conclusion that "it's all about f***ing". As long as people have that freedom, they'll give away any and every other freedom.

Another:
Mark Steyn is the sharpest, funniest observer of our less than brave new world, where we're being transformed, like the Europeans, into libertines without liberty. The government will soon control all the things that really matter -- what we can think and say, what work we can do, how much we're allowed to keep of what we earn, what we're allowed to buy, and how we raise our children, if any, but we'll be able do whatever we choose sexually and pharmacologically. We'll remain emotional adolescents until we're too old to play and then we'll be humanely euthanized. Life will have no meaning, but few will notice. The Netherlands offers a good peek at where we're headed.

And a third:
The really disturbing thing about all this - even more than the real, hormone-induced via our diet shrivelling that I alluded to earlier - is that the decadence that has seized western civilisation is also condemned by the medieval Mullahs of the Middle East. That may be a case of the pot calling the kettle black, but on that particular point the pot is right - western civilisation is in a terrible state. If the only two futures we have are either more decadence or retrogression to medieval, middle eastern desert barbarism, it is very depressing.

Jonah Goldberg exposes Obama's false promise with a simple example:

Under the plan discussed at President Obama's infomercial-esqe town halls, America would cut costs and expand coverage while avoiding rationing. Apparently, it's paranoid to think that's too good to be true.


Imagine you're in charge of bringing pie to a company picnic. You're planning to provide dessert for 100 people. Then, your boss says you need to hand out pie to 150. Fine, you say, I'll make more pies. But -- oh no! -- you can't, because you've also been told costs must go down. Okay, then you can cut slices of the existing pies smaller so everyone can have a piece. Wait! You can't do that either, because you're not allowed to ration (i.e., give less to more).

But, as Jonah points out, it's more than healthcare that's at stake, it's personal freedom:

When it comes to civil liberties, liberals are often distrustful of government power. But, for reasons that baffle me, they are quite comfortable with Uncle Sam getting into the business of deciding, or providing "guidance" on, which lives are more valuable than others. A government charged with extending life expectancy must meddle not just with our health care, but with what we eat, how we drive, how we live. A government determined to cut costs must meddle not just with how we live, but how we die.


That sounds scary and un-American to me. And if that makes me paranoid and unpatriotic, then I am what I am.

Some would call Obamacare totalitarian socialism.

Do read all of what Jonah has to say on the Obama plan to "meddle" in every aspect of your life.

While the Obama administration is rushing the country headlong towards economic doom, other world leaders are waking up to the fact that a growing economy trumps phony environmentalism every times.

At least that's what Mark Steyn thinks.

When your unemployment rate is 17 percent (as in Spain), "unsustainable growth" is no longer your most pressing problem. The environmental cult is itself a product of what the prince calls the "Age of Convenience": It's what you worry about it when you don't have to worry about jobs or falling house prices or collapsed retirement accounts. Today, as European prime ministers are beginning to figure out, a strategic goal of making things worse when they're already worse is a much tougher sell.

Read it all.

July 11, 2009

Gaia's Right
Environmentalism seeks to return us to the age of kings.

By Mark Steyn


According to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, we only have 96 months left to save the planet.

I'm impressed. 96 months. Not 95. Not 97. July 2017. Put it in your diary. Usually the warm-mongers stick to the same old drone that we only have ten years left to save the planet. Nice round number. Al Gore said we only have ten years left three-and-a-half years ago, which makes him technically more of a pessimist than the Prince of Wales. Al's betting that Armageddon kicks in sometime in January 2016 -- unless he's just peddling glib generalities. And, alas, even a prophet of the ecopalypse as precise as His Royal Highness is sometimes prone to this airy-fairy ten-year shtick: In April, Prince Charles predicted that the red squirrel would be extinct "within ten years," which suggests that, while it may be curtains for man and all his wretched works come summer of 2017, the poor doomed red squirrel will have the best part of two years to frolic and gambol on a ruined landscape.

More . . .

THE RELENTLESS MARXISM OF OBAMA

What is Obama leading the country to? Mark Steyn makes it clear:

[U]nderneath the thoughtful look is a transformative domestic agenda that represents a huge annexation of American life by an ever more intrusive federal government.
He's got big plans for health care, and federalized education, and an eco-friendly government-run automobile industry - and Iran's nuclear program just gets in the way. He'd rather not think about it, and his multicontinental apology tours are his way of kicking the can down the road until that blessed day when America is just another sclerotic Euro-style social democracy, and even your more excitable jihadi won't be able to jump up and down chanting "Death to the Great Satan!" with a straight face.
The problem in the Western world is that governments are spending money faster than their citizenry or economies can generate it. As Gerald Ford liked to say, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." And that's true. But there's an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give Phil from Cathedral City everything he wants isn't big enough to get Phil to give any of it back. That's the stage the Europeans are at: Their electorates are hooked on unsustainable levels of "services," but no longer can conceive of life without them.

The salute to the flag will be replaced by the hand stretched out for the dole bucket passing by.


Friday, May 1, 2009
Obama looks moderate, acts radical
Mark Steyn
Syndicated columnist
Orange County Register

We're still in the first hundred days of the joyous observances of Barack Obama's first hundred days, and many weeks of celebration lie ahead, so here are my thoughts:

President Obama's strongest talent is not his speechifying, which is frankly a bit of a snoozeroo. In Europe, he left 'em wanting less pretty much every time (headline from Britain's Daily Telegraph: "Barack Obama Really Does Go On A Bit"). That uptilted chin combined with the left-right teleprompter neck swivel you can set your watch by makes him look like an emaciated Mussolini umpiring an endless rally of high lobs on Centre Court at Wimbledon. Each to his own, but I don't think those who routinely hail him as the greatest orator since Socrates actually sit through many of his speeches.

On the other hand, if you just caught a couple of minutes of last Wednesday's press conference, you'd be impressed. When that groupie from The New York Times asked the president about what, during his first hundred days, "had surprised you the most ... enchanted you the most ... humbled you the most and troubled you the most", Obama made a point of getting out his pen, writing it down and repeating back the multiple categories: "Enchanted," he said. "Nice." Indeed. Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger, you may see a stranger across a crowded room, but then he scribbles down your multipart question to be sure he gets it right, and he looks so thoughtful, and suddenly he's not a stranger anymore, and the sound of his laughter will ring in your dreams.

The theater of thoughtfulness is critical to the president's success. He has the knack of appearing moderate while acting radical, which is a lethal skill. The thoughtful look suckered many of my more impressionable conservative comrades last fall, when David Brooks and Christopher Buckley were cranking out gushing paeans to Obama's "first-class temperament" - temperament being to the Obamacons what Nick Jonas' hair is to a Tiger Beat reporter. But the drab reality is that the man they hail - Brooks & Buckley, I mean; not the Tiger Beat crowd - is a fantasy projection. There is no Obama The Sober Centrist, although it might make a good holiday song:

"Obama The Sober Centrist

Had a very thoughtful mien

And if you ever saw it

You would say it's peachy keen ..."

And it is. But underneath the thoughtful look is a transformative domestic agenda that represents a huge annexation of American life by an ever more intrusive federal government. One cannot but admire the singleminded ruthlessness with which Obama is getting on with it, even as he hones his contemplative unhurried moderate routine on prime time news conferences. On foreign affairs, the shtick is less effective, but mainly because he's not so engaged by the issues: He's got big plans for health care, and federalized education, and an eco-friendly government-run automobile industry - and Iran's nuclear program just gets in the way. He'd rather not think about it, and his multicontinental apology tours are his way of kicking the can down the road until that blessed day when America is just another sclerotic Euro-style social democracy, and even your more excitable jihadi won't be able to jump up and down chanting "Death to the Great Satan!" with a straight face.

It would seem to me that reality is more likely to intrude on the Obama project from overseas than domestically. But if he's lucky it won't intrude at all, not until it's too late. Thirty years ago this month, a grocer's daughter from the English Midlands became Britain's female prime minister - not because the electorate was interested in making (Obama-style) history, but just because nothing worked any more. The post-1945 socialist settlement - government health care, government automobile industry, government everything - had broken down: Inflation over 25 percent, marginal taxes rates over 90 percent, mass unemployment, permanent strikes. The country's union leaders were household names, mainly because they were responsible for everything your household lacked. Even moving around was hard: The nationalized rail network was invariably on strike, and you had to put your name on a waiting list months in advance for one of the "new" car models. The evening news was an endless parade of big beefy burly blokes picketing some plant for the right to continue enjoying the soft pampering workweek of the more effete Ottoman sultans.

Margaret Thatcher was a great leader, who reversed her country's decline - to the point where, two decades later, the electorate felt it was safe to vote the Labour Party back into office. And yet, in the greater scheme of things, the Thatcher interlude seems just that: a temporary respite from a remorseless descent into the abyss. In its boundless ambition, the Left understands that the character of a people can be transformed: British, Canadian and European elections are now about which party can deliver "better services," as if the nation is a hotel, and the government could use some spritelier bellhops. Socialized health care in particular changes the nature of the relationship between citizen and state into something closer to junkie and pusher. On one of the many Obama Web sites the national impresario feels the need to maintain - "Foundation for Change" - the president is certainly laying the foundation for something. Among the many subjects expressing their gratitude to Good King Barack the Hopeychanger is "Phil from Cathedral City, Ca.":

"I was laid off in mid-January from a job I had for 12 years. It's really getting hard to make ends meet, but this month I got some great news. This week I received in the mail official notification that my COBRA monthly payments for medical, dental and vision insurance will decrease from $468 to only $163, all due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This is a $305 in savings a month!

"I can't tell you how much of a weight off my shoulders this is. I am living proof of how the president's bold initiatives are beginning to work!"

But just exactly how do these "bold initiatives" work? Well, hey, simple folk like you and I and Phil from Cathedral City don't need to worry about the details. Once these "bold initiatives" really hit their stride maybe the cost of everything over four hundred bucks can be brought down to $163. Wouldn't that be great?

The problem in the Western world is that governments are spending money faster than their citizenry or economies can generate it. As Gerald Ford liked to say, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have." And that's true. But there's an intermediate stage: A government big enough to give Phil from Cathedral City everything he wants isn't big enough to get Phil to give any of it back. That's the stage the Europeans are at: Their electorates are hooked on unsustainable levels of "services," but no longer can conceive of life without them.

Margaret Thatcher has a terrific line: "The facts of life are conservative." Just so. Alas, while the facts are conservative, everything else - the culture, the media, the institutions in which we educate our children, the language of public discourse, the societal air we breathe - is profoundly liberal. Phil is "living proof" of something, but it's not good news for conservatives.

"THEY" ARE COMING TO GET YOU

In Montreal they are calling the Jews dogs, in London they are rioting and calling the police cowards, in Paris they're burning synagogues and in Fort Lauderdale they calling for bigger ovens to fit all the Jews in.

Mark Steyn observes:

The west's deluded multiculti progressives should understand: In the end, this isn't about Gaza, this isn't about Jews. It's about you.

For all of Mark's comment, click here.

Need I say who "they" are?

JEW-HATRED, 21ST CENTURY STYLE

That Mark Steyn is brilliant, we know.

Putting the pieces together as he does in his words about the pathology of Jew hatred is brilliant. Hatred corrupts the haters and nowhere is that shown more clearly than by the Palestinians and their Muslim brethren worldwide.

Through the centuries it is estimated that in its expansionary wars Islam has killed 270 million people, including 80 million Hindus. Jews have always been at the top of the list to be killed, following Mohammad's example.

With 1.2 billion Muslims now in the world it must be frustrating to true believer Muslims that they are somehow dominated by 14 million Jews whom they cannot exterminate.


The ‘Oldest Hatred’

It didn’t get that way without an ability to adapt.

By Mark Steyn
National Review Online
January 10, 2009

In Toronto, anti-Israel demonstrators yell “You are the brothers of pigs!”, and a protester complains to his interviewer that “Hitler didn’t do a good job.”

In Fort Lauderdale, Palestinian supporters sneer at Jews, “You need a big oven, that’s what you need!”

In Amsterdam, the crowd shouts, “Hamas, Hamas! Jews to the gas!”

In Paris, the state-owned TV network France-2 broadcasts film of dozens of dead Palestinians killed in an Israeli air raid on New Year’s Day. The channel subsequently admits that, in fact, the footage is not from January 1st 2009 but from 2005, and, while the corpses are certainly Palestinian, they were killed when a truck loaded with Hamas explosives detonated prematurely while leaving the Jabaliya refugee camp in another of those unfortunate work-related accidents to which Gaza is sadly prone. Conceding that the Palestinians supposedly killed by Israel were, alas, killed by Hamas, France-2 says the footage was broadcast “accidentally.”

In Toulouse, a synagogue is firebombed; in Bordeaux, two kosher butchers are attacked; at the Auber RER train station, a Jewish man is savagely assaulted by 20 youths taunting, “Palestine will kill the Jews;” in Villiers-le-Bel, a Jewish schoolgirl is brutally beaten by a gang jeering, “Jews must die.”

In Helsingborg, the congregation at a Swedish synagogue takes shelter as a window is broken and burning cloths thrown in; in Odense, principal Olav Nielsen announces that he will no longer admit Jewish children to the local school after a Dane of Lebanese extraction goes to the shopping mall and shoots two men working at the Dead Sea Products store; in Brussels, a Molotov cocktail is hurled at a Belgian synagogue; in Antwerp, lit rags are pushed through the mail flap of a Jewish home; and, across the Channel, “youths” attempt to burn the Brondesbury Park Synagogue.

In London, the police advise British Jews to review their security procedures because of potential revenge attacks. The Sun reports “fears” that “Islamic extremists” are drawing up a “hit list” of prominent Jews, including the Foreign Secretary, Amy Winehouse’s record producer, and the late Princess of Wales’s divorce lawyer. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that Islamic non-extremists from the British Muslim Forum, the Islamic Foundation and other impeccably respectable “moderate” groups have warned the government that the Israelis’ “disproportionate force” in Gaza risks inflaming British Muslims, “reviving extremist groups,” and provoking “UK terrorist attacks” — not against Amy Winehouse’s record producer and other sinister members of the International Jewish Conspiracy but against targets of, ah, more general interest.

Forget, for the moment, Gaza. Forget that the Palestinian people are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth. For the past sixty years they have been entrusted to the care of the United Nations, the Arab League, the PLO, Hamas and the “global community” — and the results are pretty much what you’d expect. You would have to be very hardhearted not to weep at the sight of dead Palestinian children, but you would also have to accord a measure of blame to the Hamas officials who choose to use grade schools as launch pads for Israeli-bound rockets, and to the UN refugee agency that turns a blind eye to it. And, even if you don’t deplore Fatah and Hamas for marinating their infants in a sick death cult in which martyrdom in the course of Jew-killing is the greatest goal to which a citizen can aspire, any fair-minded visitor to the West Bank or Gaza in the decade and a half in which the “Palestinian Authority” has exercised sovereign powers roughly equivalent to those of the nascent Irish Free State in 1922 would have to concede that the Palestinian “nationalist movement” has a profound shortage of nationalists interested in running a nation, or indeed capable of doing so. There is fault on both sides, of course, and Israel has few good long-term options. But, if this was a conventional ethno-nationalist dispute, it would have been over long ago.

WHAT THE WORLD WANTS FOR CHRISTMAS

Mark Steyn wonders what the Age of Obama will do to America. Will it accelerate us down the path to the weakness bred by totalitarian "daddy knows best" government offering handouts instead of encouraging opportunity?

All inspired by a Christmas song by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.

December 27, 2008, 9:00 a.m.

Grow Up!
An Obamafied American Idol Christmas
.

By Mark Steyn

I was at the mall two days before Christmas, and it was strangely quiet. So quiet that, sadly, I was able to hear every word of Kelly Clarkson bellowing over the sound system “My Grown-Up Christmas List.” Don’t get me wrong — I love seasonal songs. “Winter Wonderland” — I dig it. “Rudolph” — man, he’s cool, albeit not as literally as Frosty. But “Grown-Up Christmas List” is one of those overwrought ballads of melismatic bombast made for the American Idol crowd. It’s all about how the singer now eschews asking Santa for materialist goodies — beribboned trinkets and gaudy novelties — in favor of selfless grown-up stuff like world peace.

Which is an odd sentiment to hear at a shopping mall.

But it seems to have done the trick. “Retail Sales Plummet,” read the Christmas headline in the Wall Street Journal. “Sales plunged across most categories on shrinking consumer spending.”

Hey, that’s great news, isn’t it? After all, everyone knows Americans consume too much. What was it that then Senator Obama said on the subject? “We can’t just keep driving our SUVs, eating whatever we want, keeping our homes at 72 degrees at all times regardless of whether we live in the tundra or the desert and keep consuming 25 percent of the world’s resources with just 4 percent of the world’s population, and expect the rest of the world to say you just go ahead, we’ll be fine.”

And boy, we took the great man’s words to heart. SUV sales have nosedived, and 72 is no longer your home’s thermostat setting but its current value expressed as a percentage of what you paid for it. If I understand then Senator Obama’s logic, in a just world Americans would be 4 percent of the population and consume a fair and reasonable 4 percent of the world’s resources. And in these last few months we’ve made an excellent start toward that blessed utopia: Americans are driving smaller cars, buying smaller homes, giving smaller Christmas presents.

And yet, strangely, President-Elect Obama doesn’t seem terribly happy about the Obamafication of the American economy. He’s proposing some 5.7 bazillion dollar “stimulus” package or whatever it is now to “stimulate” it back into its bad old ways.

And how does the rest of the world, of whose tender sensibilities then Senator Obama was so mindful, feel about the collapse of American consumer excess? They’re aghast, they’re terrified, they’re on a one-way express elevator down to Sub-Basement Level 37 of the abyss with no hope of putting on the brakes unless the global economy can restore aggregate demand. What does all that mumbo-jumbo about “aggregate demand” mean? Well, that’s a fancy term for you — yes, you, Joe Lardbutt, the bloated disgusting embodiment of American excess, driving around in your Chevy Behemoth, getting two blocks to the gallon as you shear the roof off the drive-thru lane to pick up your $7.93 decaf gingersnap-mocha-pepperoni-zebra mussel frappuccino, which makes for a wonderful cool refreshing thirst-quencher after you’ve been working up a sweat watching the plasma TV in your rec room all morning with the thermostat set to 87. The message from the European political class couldn’t be more straightforward: If you crass, vulgar Americans don’t ramp up the demand, we’re kaput. Unless you get back to previous levels of planet-devastating consumption, the planet is screwed.

“Much of the load will fall on the US,” wrote Martin Wolf in the Financial Times, “largely because the Europeans, Japanese and even the Chinese are too inert, too complacent, or too weak.” The European Union has 500 million people, compared with America’s 300 million. Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain are advanced economies whose combined population adds up to that of the United States. Many EU members have enjoyed for decades the enlightened progressive policies Americans won’t be getting until January 20th. Why then are they so “inert” that their economic fortunes depend on the despised moronic Yanks?

Ah, well. To return to Kelly Clarkson — and Barbra Streisand and Michael Buble and Amy Grant — the striking thing about their “Grown-Up Christmas List” is how childish it is. The concerned vocalist tells Santa that what she wants for Christmas is:

“No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start…”

Whether wars start depends on the intended target’s ability to deter. As to “lives torn apart,” that, too, is a matter of being on the receiving end. If you’re in an African dictatorship, your life can be torn apart. If you’re in a society that values individual liberty, you’ll at least get a shot at tearing your own life apart — you’ll make bad choices, marry a ne’er-do-well, blow your savings, lose your job — but these are ultimately within your power to correct. The passivity of the lyric — the “lives” that get “torn apart” is very revealing. A state in which lives aren’t torn apart will be, by definition, totalitarian: As in The Stepford Wives or The Invasion Of the Body Snatchers, we’ll all be wandering around in glassy-eyed conformity. “Lives” will no longer be “torn apart” because they’re no longer lives, but simply the husks of a centrally controlled tyranny. To live is messy but liberating: Free societies enable the citizenry to fulfill their potential — to innovate, to create, to accumulate — while recognizing that some of their number will fail. But to attempt to insulate free peoples from moral hazard is debilitating and ultimately fatal. To Martin Wolf’s list of a Europe “too inert, too complacent, too weak,” we might add “too old”: Healthy societies recharge their batteries by the aged and wealthy lending their savings to the young and eager. But Germany is a population of prosperous seniors with no grandchildren to lend to. Japan is a society of great invention with insufficient youth to provide a domestic market. That’s why if you’re Sony or Ikea or any other great global brand, you want access to America for your product. That’s why economic recovery will be driven by the U.S., and not by Euro-Japanese entities long marinated in Obamanomics.

One final thought on “My Grown-Up Christmas List.” The first two lines always give me a chuckle:

“Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee…”

When was the last time you saw a child sit upon a Santa’s knee? Rod Liddle in the British Spectator reports that at a top London department store Santa sits at one end of the bench while a large “X” directs the moppet to a place down the other end, well out of arm’s reach. For even Santa Claus is just another pedophile in waiting. Naughty or nice? Who really knows? Best not to take any chances. That’s another way societies seize up — by obsessing on phantom threats rather than real ones.

Are free peoples now merely vulnerable infants in need of protection from the pedophile Santa of global capitalism? This is the issue that will determine the future: Euro-style state-directed protectionist sclerosis vs. individual liberty in all its messiness. I know what I want on my “Grown-Up Christmas List.”

CALL IT WHAT IT IS: ISLAMIC GLOBAL JIHAD

From NRO's The Corner yesterday, November 28th:

Both of the above [Mark Steyn]

Andy [McCarty] wrote yesterday about our confused thinking re events in Bombay:

The obsession over whether al Qaeda or its endless jumble of affiliates pulled off the operation is a misguided attempt to mimimize the challenge. The bin Laden network is not unimportant, but it is tapping into something that is much bigger than itself.

We're reluctant to address that "bigger than itself" elephant. All jihad is local: If rockets are fired at Israel, it's a failure to settle the Palestinian question. If an NHS doctor drives a flaming Cherokee into the check-in desk at Glasgow Airport, it must be Tony Blair's foreign policy. The Jerusalem Post's headline writer poses the question:

Homegrown Terror Or International Jihad?

False choice. The answer is: Homegrown terror in the service of international jihad. Clearly, India has had a Muslim problem to one degree or another in the 60 years since partition, but increasingly those locally driven grievances have been absorbed within the global pan-Islamic ideology. What strikes you, as the dust clears in Bombay, is that one assault provided an umbrella for manifestations of almost every strain of Muslim grievance.

There's the local element - the fatal shooting of the city's anti-terror squad, and other prominent officials. There's the crusader element - the targeting of British and American passport holders. There's the Jew-hating element - the Munich massacre nesting within the more general carnage.

And there are the more ironic nuances of jihad: British subjects were to be found not just among the victims but among the perpetrators.

To pose the question as that Jerusalem Post headline is to miss the point. Moreover, the global ideologues correctly see our determination to attribute every attack to purely local phenomena unconnected to any bigger picture as a sign of weakness.

This can't be said often enough:

In so many of the reports about Islamic terrorist attacks the media wonders what the connection to Osama Bin Laden might be. The answer is simple: In all cases the connection is the Koran. All Islamic true believers are doing what the Koran says and Mohammad commanded: Wage unrelenting war against the infidels untiil Islam rules supreme over the world.

Islamic supremacism is mandated by the Koran and Mohammad, the "perfect man" as Muslims call him, whose example provides all the latitude for violence one can imagine. As Muslims learn more about their core ideology, more true believers who become a danger to the world are born. At heart, Islam is a political ideology carrying a religious banner to justify its expansionism by whatever means work, including murder. Conquering the world today requires such things as instilling fear to force submission, damaging if not destroying economies, assassinating leaders and undermining the values of targeted civilizations, be it Europe's or that of the United States.

Among the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world are many good people who simply believe in one god and live good lives. They probably have never read the Koran or the Hadith (the sayings and doings of Mohammad). It's when they do that problems can arise. Saudi Arabia has spent and is spending tens of billions around the world to "educate" those who are in ignorance.

THE DEATH OF THE AMERICAN IDEA

When more than half the population is getting handouts and paying no taxes, a tipping point will have been reached. On current trend, hastened along by the Obama "tax cut" program to take money from taxpayers and give it to those who don't pay income taxes, that point will be reached by 2012 with a majority getting federal welfare. (That's assuming that today's slim majority of taxpayers will not be able to keep Congress from rubberstamping Obama's welfare plan.)

Mark Steyn sees the U.S. inexorably slipping down the European unsustainable welfare black hole.

The Death of the American Idea

An electorate living high off the entitlement hog.

By Mark Steyn

‘Give me liberty or give me death!”

“Live free or die!”

What's that? Oh, don't mind me. I'm just trying out slogans for the 2012 campaign and seeing which one would get the biggest laughs.

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