HH: It’s Thursday, so we begin this hour with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Mark’s work at www.steynonline.com. Mark, the headline of the afternoon, Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, is quitting or being fired, depending on whether you read Jake Tapper over at ABC, or the Crawl at CNN. Your reaction?
MS: Well, you know, something is clearly wrong in the Obama approach to national security. Now at one level, he kept a lot of respected figures from the previous administration, and he maintained a kind of consistency that was, that didn’t match his rhetoric. When he was running for office, his whole basic approach was there is no war on terror. If it is, it’s a law enforcement issue. All these things like Gitmo we need to get rid of that an all the rest of it. But when he actually got there, he more or less continued the Bush policy, and escalated some of them, some of the more supposedly morally dubious ones, such as unmanned drones killing large numbers of people on the Afghan-Pakistani border. At the same time, we have had an escalation in attempted domestic terrorist strikes on the U.S. mainland, which have been characterized by grotesque, systemic failures. We were told with the Christmas Day pantybomber, for example, that he wasn’t actually on the no-fly list. He was on a kind of stand-by list for the no-fly list. It’s like U.S. Air or American Airlines. You get on stand-by, and if there’s a vacancy, they’ll promote you to the no-fly list. But then, the Times Square bomber, he was on the actual no-fly list, and they still let him board the plane, and he came within a minute of escaping. So I think there is a confusion, and there is a basic philosophical gulf between certain members of the administration and certain others. And at some point, that simply cannot hold, and some will stay, and others will leave.
HH: Speaking of philosophical gulfs, John Brennan, the deputy National Security Advisor, was quoted by Michael Totten at Commentary Magazine’s website today, Mark Steyn, as saying, “There is certainly elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us. What they’re doing, and what we need to do is find ways to diminish their influence within the organization, and to try to build up the more moderate elements.” Mark Steyn, have you ever met a moderate element of Hezbollah? You’ve run around that region a little bit.
MS: Well, you don’t have to run around that region, actually. There’s an awful lot of Hezbollah supporters who march openly in Western cities, even though, for example, even Canada has Hezbollah branded as a terrorist organization, and it’s illegal to fly the flags of Hezbollah in Canada. So it’s curious to me this kind of outreach to moderate, so-called moderate Hezbollah. One deals with the facts on the ground. I remember Colin Powell a couple of days after 9/11 going on Meet The Press and offering to meet out, reach out to moderate Taliban. And that was at the time, if you remember, when President Bush started calling them the evil-doers. And one wouldn’t have been surprised to see Colin Powell types going on Meet The Press and saying we need to reach out to moderate evil-doers. That’s exactly what Brennan has now done. When you’re dealing with Hezbollah, you’re reaching out to moderate evil-doers. It’s a, for a start, it’s a proxy for Iranian power, and Iranian hegemony in the region. So even a lot of the Sunni Arab dictatorships are not happy about seeing Hezbollah built up. I don’t think this is the kind of language that is entirely reassuring from senior figures in the Obama administration.
HH: We did have some perhaps reassuring to some language from a senior figure in the Mexican administration today. In fact, the Mexican president came to the joint meeting of the United States Congress, and had this to say, Mark Steyn.
FC: I am convinced that a comprehensive immigration reform is also crucial to securing our common border. However, I strongly disagree with the recently adopted law in Arizona.
HH: And a standing ovation went on, Mark Steyn. I think it may be a first that a foreign president or a foreign head of state has arrived at the Congress of the United States to condemn one of our fifty state laws, and to call for legislative intervention.
MS: Right. And fifty seconds later, they immediately passed a bill ceding Arizona to Mexico, did they? I mean, these legislators are fools. If Calderon wants comprehensive immigration reform, you first, man. Have you ever tried, Hugh, as a foreigner, buying property in Mexico? Owning a business in Mexico? Moving to Mexico? There are all kinds of bewildering laws. There are different laws according to which particularly part of Mexico you want to move to. So the idea that Arizona should have a different approach to immigration from Maine is not so very different from the restrictions on property ownership, according to which part of Mexico you might happen to have your eye on. The fact is if the United States were to adopt Mexico’s immigration law, which I would be in favor of, by the way, because this thing is like a huge vacuum all the way up Latin America. And on its southern border, Mexico does a much better job of keeping out South America than the United States does of keeping out Mexico on its southern border. But the fact is nobody should take lessons in this from Mexico. It’s because Mexico is next to the economic superpower of the world, and it remains a corrupt, diseased, inefficient and disastrous quasi-third world economy that it’s greatest export is its people. If Calderon were serious about this, he would figure out that the tragedy of Mexico is that its principal export is its people.
HH: Yeah. Mark Steyn, I’ve got to switch over now to the domestic political brouhaha of the day. Rand Paul went on with Rachel Maddow last night, and got into a philosophical conversation about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is like so many horror movies when the teenage girl goes into the dark house and says I’ll go downstairs.
HH: This is not what you do. Here’s a little sample of what went on last night on the Rachel Maddow show.
RM: In terms of legal remedies for persistent discrimination, though, if there was a private business, say in Louisville, say somewhere in your home state, that wanted to not serve black patrons, or wanted to not serve gay patrons or somebody else on the basis of their, on the basis of a characteristic that they decided they didn’t like as a private business owner, do you think that they had a legal right to do so, to put up a blacks not served here sign?
RP: Well, the interesting thing is you know, you look back to the 1950s, the 1960s, at the problems we faced. There were incredible problems. You know, the problems had to do with mostly voting, they had to do with schools, they had to do with public housing. And so this is what the Civil Rights largely addressed.
HH: All right, now Mark Steyn, he’s just out of his mind to go there, because there were problems with de jure segregation. Jim Crow was everywhere.
MS: Oh, yeah, and you know, he’s silly to get into this, because you’re right. It’s every little lunch counter, every little rinky-dink diner. The diner isn’t owned by the state of Mississippi. So for him to try and dodge that one by saying it was about schools and it was about voting rights and all the rest of it, no it wasn’t. It was beyond that. He’s stupid to get into this on MSNBC, because he should understand the box he’s being maneuvered into. Now there is a legitimate debate about private property rights. For example, there’s a story in, stories that crop up all over, not just in America, but I think there was one in Newfoundland recently, and another over in England, about the Christian owners of a bed and breakfast refusing to rent a room to a gay couple and all the rest of it. And those cases still occur. And at heart, that’s the same argument as Rand Paul was trying to make last night. At what point does a private business owner in effect cede too many property rights to the state. But you don’t go on MSNBC to get into that kind of philosophical debate with Rachel Maddow. And if you do, you should have a couple of really good lines that are the beginning and the end of the story, rather than allowing yourself to get maneuvered into all kinds of embarrassing territory, 24 hours after what should have been reported as an historic, great victory, leading to magnificent things in November.
HH: And you begin with a flat statement. I support the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in all of its applications to racial and gender discrimination, and you’re not going to get me to say anything else, Rachel, because the Republican Party broke the filibuster that Al Gore’s father put forward in 1964, and I’m not going back.
HH: Mark Steyn, what about Tuesday night? We’ve got about a minute. How do you read the election results generally?
MS: Well, you know, I was disappointed in Pennsylvania district 12, because I had spoken to Tim Burns. I’d been on a show with Tim Burns a couple of weeks ago, and I had high hopes. But there’s a lot of gerrymandering in that district, and a lot of other things. I mean, to be honest, at one level, I was a bit disappointed to see Arlen Specter go down, because Pat Toomey has a much tougher fight now. But I do think it’s heartening when the electorate, whether Democrat or Republican, actually draws a line saying there is a point to Senatorial opportunism beyond which we will not go.
HH: And that was Arlen Specter’s message. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, www.steynonline.com, America.
End of interview.