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A Little Rinky-Dink, No Account Analysis From The Great Mark Steyn

Thursday, April 7, 2011
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HH: Joining us to discuss this, our very own election judge, Mark Steyn of www.steynonline.com. Mark, what do you make of this story?

MS: Yeah, I must say, my heart sank yesterday when it looked as if the Democrats…you said, you wrote a book a couple of years ago, Hugh, called If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat.

HH: You bet.

MS: And we somehow accepted the principle that an awful lot of important elections in the United States fall within what the Democrats regard as the margin of lawyer, that it’s 200 votes here and there. By the time you take it to a friendly judge, you can get your guy in, regardless of whether the other fellow actually won or lost. And the idea of them doing that with Congressmen and with Senators is one thing. But the idea of them doing it with actual judges, I think, marks a new low in American life. So I hope that Prosser does pull it out and survive. But I must say it’s very depressing to me that this result is as close as it is in Wisconsin, because it indicates the basic problem here that half the American people still don’t realize that this country’s broke, and that you’ve got a choice between either braking before we reach the cliff edge, or putting your foot down with the Democrats and sailing over there into the abyss.

HH: Now Mark, I had a different take on it only because it’s Wisconsin. So I said half of Wisconsin doesn’t get it, but I think of Wisconsin as almost New York and California-like in its other worldliness on matters fiscal until this most recent election. So if the unions throw everything they’ve got, and the best they could get was a tie, in essence, and now maybe they’ve lost it, doesn’t that tell us that they just haven’t got anything left in the pipe?

MS: No, I think they’re running on fumes in that sense, and I think the momentum is with our side. That’s true. And in a 50/50 nation, I think it’s moving. It’s 51/49. And then it’s going to be 53/47. But it ought to be moving a hell of a lot faster, because otherwise, this story ends nowhere good. And that’s why…I take the point that Wisconsin is very much like, in that respect, like California or New York. But an awful lot of states are like California or New York. And those of us in the few states that aren’t, like mine in New Hampshire, are awful worried that we’re going to be picking up the tab for the mistakes that you guys have made.

HH: That’s almost a certainty. Now Mark Steyn, in terms of local governments in New Hampshire, we’ve got one out in California, Costa Mesa, where they’ve had to give layoff notices of 200. They’ll probably have to fire a hundred people, a worker jumped to his death, all the unions have arrived. It’s a major national story. But they can’t away from the math. The math is that Costa Mesa is just flat broke.

MS: Right.

HH: Has that happened in New Hampshire yet?

MS: No, because on the whole, we have small town level volunteer government. My town has an unpaid school board, and our results are better than yours in California. So maybe actually having unpaid citizen school boards is better than having a professional cadre of social engineers. I don’t think government actually is expensive. A neighbor of mine, who’s a selectman, that’s the equivalent of the sort of town council in somewhere like California, actually produced a very interesting example of the difference between actually doing things yourselves, and sluicing them through state and federal government. There were two bridges that were condemned. One of them got on the Obama stimulus program, and the bridge still hasn’t been rebuilt, the temporary bridge is worn out. The bill is in, it’s up several hundred thousand dollars. The other bridge, they decided to do it themselves, and replaced it for $20,000 dollars. It’s a perfectly fine bridge, up to code and everything. Do it yourself. That’s what…when Tocqueville was traveling around Jacksonian America, that’s what he discovered, that Americans when they had a problem got up and did it themselves. This idea of sluicing it through big government programs is at odds with everything Tocqueville admired about this country.

HH: Yeah, raise the barn yourself. Let’s turn to Washington, D.C. The President gave this outrageous statement today. Does anyone get fooled by this false crisis atmosphere, Mark Steyn?

MS: No, because this crisis is of the Democrats’ making. And we are arguing about a budget that should have happened when the Democrats controlled the White House, the House and the Senate, when they had everything, when Obama was strutting around saying I won, you losers get over it, you’re not part of the conversation. This budget dates from that period. And it’s interesting to me that we are now fighting three wars, and this guy can’t even, doesn’t even want to sign a bill permitting funding for the military to continue. Now this is actually what the issue is about. The Democrats want the issue to be Republicans are against government, Democrats are for government. The Republicans want to make the conversation no, there are things that the government should be doing, like defending the nation, and there are things that it should not be doing. And we should be the side of the debate that is able to distinguish between them. Harry Reid wants you to pretend that funding the U.S. Marines and the Cowboy Poetry Festival in Elko, Nevada, are all part of the same issue. They’re not. They’re separate questions.

HH: I want to turn abroad. There’s a story in the New Yorker this week by Dexter Filkins, who is an amazing correspondent, on Yemen. And I put it down and I finished it, and I said my gosh, the gathering storm is back upon us. I wonder if in the middle 30s, no one noticed that Europe was on fire. Mark Steyn, it really is, the Middle East is on fire, and the bad guys are winning everywhere, and instability is breaking out everywhere, and we’re arguing about cutting off military pay. It makes no sense.

MS: Well, I think, I look at this slightly differently in that I think there’s a big hole in our strategic thinking on this issue. I mean, if you look at the smilie face Sesame Street coverage of the so-called Arab spring, everything that the downbeat guys like me were saying in February, that the mainstream boys are now conceding, that in fact the Muslim Brotherhood are the only force capable of organizing nationwide in Egypt, and the army is now doing deals with them. And all the Facebook revolution types have been cut out of the story.

HH: Yup.

MS: What I find worrying is, for example, if you look at General Petraeus’ statement on the Koran burning, that’s what it was about. It wasn’t about the savages who slaughtered Norwegian female aide workers and Nepalese guards in response to the Koran burning. It was General Petraeus apologizing for any disrespect shown to the Koran. He doesn’t speak for me. He doesn’t speak for me. I think the big problem here is that America has a technically advanced military, and absolutely no strategic clarity over what it’s doing in Afghanistan, or in the Muslim world more broadly. And without some kind of strategic clarity, all the technological superiority and highly trained warriors will in the end avail you not, because in a sense, you’re not fighting with any purpose. And that’s what Petraeus’ statement, I think, betrayed a couple of days ago.

HH: There’s zero strategic clarity on Yemen, and I’ll recommend that to the audience. But let me go back to the statement that followed the Petraeus statement, the one by Lindsey Graham, in which he basically said the United States Congress can decide who says what and when in the United States. It should have been condemned instantly by every editorial writer in the United States, because that amount of rope hangs everybody in the same tree.

MS: Right.

HH: I didn’t see it condemned, Mark Steyn. Did I miss it?

MS: No, you didn’t, and it didn’t surprise me, because I learned this in my battles up in Canada, and in similar fights in Britain and Australia and Europe, that the liberal media, who congratulate themselves on their courage non-stop, who hand themselves awards for their courage, who talk about their bravery far more than soldiers or firemen do, that when it comes to it, they will not be there for you on the free speech issue. So almost all the newspapers found it easier to beat up on the no-name pastor than actually say wait a minute, is Lindsey Graham out of his mind? A United States Senator presuming that the national government regulates the bounds of public discourse in this republic? I think Lindsey Graham is unfit for office. And it’s pathetic that it needs some rinky-dink, no account foreigner like me to say that, rather than the editor of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times and CNN and all the rest of it.

HH: And it went unchallenged on television. They didn’t instantly say how can you say that, what about the 1st Amendment.

MS: Right, right. And that’s what, by the way, this is why I don’t want elites setting the rules, because when you look at your elites, they’re not the kind of wise men that they pass themselves off as. They’re boobs, which is what Lindsey Graham is. I’m embarrassed by him.

HH: Let me ask if you’re embarrassed by Eric Holder, because the decision on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ought to embarrass anyone who’s been standing on the other side of it for two-plus years.

MS: Right, and I think, I put Eric Holder in worse than the Lindsey Graham camp, because he and Obama played politics with this. Everyone understood. You know, Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld don’t have Gitmo because they enjoy clamping electrodes to miscellaneous foreigners as their hobby. They do it because when you’re fighting a war against unarmed combatants who do not observe the Geneva Conventions, your options in terms of what you can do are very limited. It has not taken Obama and Holder two and a half years to work themselves back to the position they demagogued and demonized for the last eight years. And the pansy left out there in America, the pansy left is sticking with Obama who betrayed them, because they’ve got nowhere else to go.

HH: Mark Steyn, thanks.

End of interview.

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