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James Lileks on flying gazebos, Dem Senate real estate dealings, and Muslim parts of France that are no longer French.

Friday, October 13, 2006

HH: It’s 22 degrees in Minnesota where I am headed on Sunday. James Lileks joins me, James, is there warming in the future?

JL: No, nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, predictions are that the Sun will go cold and sputter out in about two or three weeks or so.

HH: How could it be 22 degrees? It’s not Halloween.

JL: Well, that’s with the wind chill. There’s about 197 mile an hour wind blowing through here. It picked the gazebo up a couple of times, and put it on the other side of the yard.

HH: Not the gazebo???

JL: Yes, the gazebo, too, as a matter of fact. I’ve had to put cement boots on the dog. It’s bad. It’s cold. It’s not right. And it’s that sort of evil, taunting snow that comes down and just rolls around the yard just to show you who’s boss, and who’s the new guy in town. It’s not good.

HH: And it’s October 12th.

JL: And it is October 12th.

HH: Is this early for Minnesota?

JL: It’s a bit early, yeah. I mean, we’ve got storms where they dumped 192 feet of snow on Halloween, but generally, we don’t get psychologically ready for it until November. November comes, and then all right. It’s snow. It’s Winter. Bring it on. But in October? No. We are, we are allowed a beautiful, lovely Fall in this part of the country. And while we’ve had it, it apparently is over. So come and bring warm clothes.

HH: Ugh.

JL: We’ll see you at that coin shop in Southdale, incidentally.

HH: Is that where I am?

JL: That’s where you are.

HH: All right. Now Mr. Lileks, have you been following the Harry Reid story?

JL: Oh, this is typical Republican misdirection. North Korea gets a nuke, and all you can do is bash Mormons.

HH: (laughing) Okay. Actually, I want to talk about North Korea. I just wonder if anyone understands what Harry Reid was doing. Do you?

JL: I don’t understand. I mean, I have no idea of what sort of financial machinations are. And I’m a guy who actually came up with a plan to sell the house to my dog, and I made a tidy profit on the sum. Unfortunately, he’s in default. But I’ve got friends in Congress who I think will pass a law that lets me see him as a human instead of a canine, so we’ll be able to…we jiggered the laws a little bit, so I can take repossession. I mean, if I had enough influence in Congress, yes, I could write some necessary laws in my favor, and conjure up a profit at the end of the day. It does go a ways toward getting rid of the whole culture of corruption thing, I think. But I don’t expect it to have great legs in the mainstream press.

HH: Well now, I’ve heard that oh, they understand sex, the voters do, but they don’t understand finances, and therefore, it won’t be as sexy. On the other hand, Duke Cunningham began with a sweetheart deal on his house sale.

JL: Uh-huh.

HH: And we understood that.

JL: Yes, exactly. Well, you know, as far as understanding sex goes, people didn’t understand IM’s until a couple of weeks ago. And you explain that to them, and all of a sudden, they get it quickly.

HH: Okay, so what’s your sense of the political lay of the land in Minnesota?

JL: Oh, well, I think it’s going to be Klobuchar. I do, and I think it’s going to be Keith Ellison. And that shouldn’t come as no surprise, and I’m hardly sticking my neck out there.

HH: Do you have a prediction on Bachmann/Wetterling?

JL: I think it’ll be Bachmann. I certainly think it’ll be Bachmann.

HH: Oh, that’s very good. And so what about your fine governor, in whose house I’m staying during the Republican Convention?

JL: Oh, handily. Handily.

HH: Handily?

JL: I hope so.

HH: If he retracts that, can I stay in the gazebo?

JL: (laughing) Of course you can.

HH: Okay, just checking, because there isn’t going to be a hotel…

JL: Wherever the gazebo happens to be after today.

HH: There are no…there are actually no hotels in Minnesota. I don’t know where people are going to be. Your reaction to the Latin Mass coming back, even though you’re not Catholic?

JL: I think it’s a great idea. It’s a wonderful idea. It’s…I have Catholic friends who I know are just exalting over it, because it’s the return of a measure of tradition that they felt had been lacking. It’s heartening in a way. It’s one of those solid pillars of civilization that just got shored up. And even though I’m non-Catholic, and have no particular brief with the Latin Mass, I was warmed by it. It seemed like a Benedict kind of thing to do.

HH: Yes, yes. Last December, George Bush estimated that 30,000 people had died in Iraq since the war began. And then the Lancet came out with a study this week that says 655,000 people. Everyone’s laughing at this study. But how can someone get it that wrong?

JL: Who? Bush or the Lancet?

HH: The Lancet?

JL: (laughing) Well, you know, it’s based on something like 547 death certificates, which they have extrapolated.

HH: Is that really the case?

JL: It’s based on an absurdly small number of death certificates that they then played out to mean this. And I mean, let’s see the proof. Where are the bodies? Where are the death certificates? Where are they…I mean, that’s a lot of people. 700,000 people is a substantial amount of dead bodies. And it just…it’s interesting how you laugh at 700,000, and then somehow, 100,000 becomes something you can shrug your shoulders at, the old Stalin line about one death being a tragedy and a million a statistic. I mean, it’s better to concentrate on the actual statistics of who died, and who killed them, and who’s killing them now. Who’s blowing up the bombs in the schools and the courtyards and the shopping centers? Bad guys.

HH: Okay. Scandal etiquette, all right?

JL: All right.

HH: Edward Kennedy came to Connecticut last week to help a Democratic challenger to Representative Christopher Shays’ campaign. And he brought up Foley. And Representative Christopher Shays said, “I know the Speaker didn’t go over a bridge and leave a young person in the water, and then have a press conference the next day…Dennis Hastert didn’t kill anybody.” Fair or over the top? And I don’t mean the bridge.

JL: I think that’s a little over the top. I think that’s (laughing) it’s certainly what everybody thinks. It’s certainly what everybody says, and it’s a million blog entries. But I’d like the level of public discourse to be…

HH: But it’s a statute of limitations, isn’t it?

JL: Yeah.

HH: Yeah, because if every scandal was always in play, we could never go anywhere in this country.

JL: Yeah.

HH: But is the statute of limitations only run on the left?

JL: Well, it’s interesting, because the statute of limitations has not kept George Bush the prototype from being linked with Nazis. So I mean, the left loves to drag these things back up, and up and up and up again. So I think they’re a little more inclined to let things…to keep things alive. But it’s just not helpful to the politics…

HH: And did you read from either the London Daily Terrorgraph or the Washington Times that…

JL: Did you say the Terrorgraph?

HH: Yes, the Terrorgraph, because of the Muslim intifada in France. Have you read this story?

JL: Yes. 2,500 French policemen injured in the last year in clashes with the mysterious youth of no distinction.

HH: Yes.

JL: Yeah, it’s a stunning number. I mean, but anybody who’s been reading about this for a while, it goes back several years. Theodore Dalrymple, I think, in the City Magazine, wrote a piece about how, essentially, these are…these suburbs in which the French have stored their immigrants, have become countries unto their own, into which the French do not go, and do not even attempt to press French law, let alone French custom and culture.

HH: So do you think that’s going to impact tourism negatively?

JL: No, no. The Eiffel Tower will have to be blown up and fall into the…crush people on the Champs Elysee before people begin to realize that France, Europe is not what they thought it was.

HH: Lileks, always a pleasure.

End of interview.

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