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Mark Steyn And Hugh Playing Bridge

Friday, September 23, 2011
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I’ve got to begin this Thursday as I do when we are lucky with columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. And you can read everything at www.steynonline.com, order his new book, After America there. Mark, the biggest news of the day comes out of Geneva in Italy, where the CERN scientists have announced they’ve discovered a particle that is faster than the speed of light. I suppose this will be useful in measuring market drops, but it also says it would, “undermine Albert Einstein’s 1905 theory of special relativity, which says the speed of light is a cosmic constant, and nothing in the universe can travel faster.” Very unnerving, Mark, when you start the day knowing that Einstein was wrong?

MS: Yeah, I thought, what’s the line, the science was settled.

HH: (laughing)

MS: The science was settled. It’s odd the way science is never settled, really, in that sense. And it’s interesting, I mean, I find that fascinating, because obviously, there’s a scientific consensus on all kinds of things, and then some non-consensual scientist comes along and blows the thing out of the water. And that really gets to the heart of the perversion of science that’s gone on by Al Gore. Actually, I don’t know what’s the opposite, the scientific…and I hasten to add, I am not a scientist, so I don’t know what the scientific opposite of something that is faster, a particle that moves faster than the speed of light. But I think the speed at which Al Gore’s ratings dropped during his 24 hour webcast global telethon is probably the precise scientific opposite of this new particle.

HH: That may be the new cosmic constant. You know, Bill Clinton was hammering on the Republicans this week at Clintonfest in New York for being science deniers, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yeah, and of course, that’s actually not true. If anything, it’s the liberals that have all the problems with science when it happens to conflict with particular liberal pieties of theirs. Look, I think the idea that the science is settled is a terrible concept. It isn’t settled on the climate change issue. Al Gore is apparently stunned to discover that there are now scientists who think the Sun might have something to do with global warming. What is…this is a serious issue, because on no other issue has a combination of funding, lobbying groups and opportunists among the scientific community so corrupted the integrity of science on the issue of climate change.

HH: Well, my hat is…I had not thought to juxtapose this story, which is actually fascinating, with global warming.

MS: Yeah.

HH: But they go on to say, this new assertion, the assertion about the cosmic constant from Albert Einstein had withstood over a century of testing.

MS: Right.

HH: It’s one of the key elements of the so-called standard model of physics, which attempts to describe the way the universe and everything in it works, and you’re absolutely right. If you can overturn this, everything is up for grabs.

MS: Yes, and that’s what I mean, that when a scientist stands up and tells you that the science is settled, that is a totally unscientific thing to say…

HH: Yes.

MS: …because the science on everything was settled until some other scientist came along and proved that it was not. And so when a scientist, of all people, stands up at one of these climate change conferences and says the science is settled, and calls people who disagree with him deniers, that man is not a scientist. That man is a member of a religious cult. He’s worshipping at the temple of Al Gore or whatever, and that’s fine if he wants to do that. But when a man stands up and says the science is settled, he is everything but a scientist.

HH: Let’s turn to politics, actually to a non-partisan event that sounds pretty partisan. President Obama went to Ohio today to stand in front of a bridge, and here’s what he said, Mark Steyn, in Ohio:

BHO: The bridge behind us just happens to connect the state that’s home to the Speaker of the House (crowd boos) with…with the home state of the Republican leader in the Senate (crowd boos). Now that’s just a coincidence (crowd laughs). It’s purely accidental that that happened. But part of the reason I came here is because Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell, those are the two most powerful Republicans in government (crowd boos). They can either kill this jobs bill, or they can help pass this jobs bill. Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge.

HH: What do you think, Mark Steyn?

MS: (laughing) Well, I think that it’s desperate, the idea that somehow, for a start, somehow the idea that this bridge…if Kentucky and Ohio want to build a bridge, I don’t actually see what it’s got to do with Washington, to be honest. I don’t see that that is necessarily the justification for the kind of level of spending that this president is fascinated by. In fact, I’ve got a whole bridge anecdote, a fascinating bridge anecdote. I don’t want to plug my book, but way at the end of After America, one of the things that actually impressed de Tocqueville when he toured around America is that communities built their own bridges.

HH: Yes.

MS: Towns built their own bridges. State built their own bridges. And this idea that nothing counts now, nothing works, nothing is real stimulus unless it’s filtered through some vast bureaucracy in Washington is simply unbecoming to a genuine republic. And I don’t want to go into all the details, but I’ve got the world’s all-time greatest bridge anecdote in, I think, it’s the final chapter of After America.

HH: Well, Andrew Malcolm over at Top Of The Ticket in the Los Angeles Times has done some reporting on this bridge, and it turns out that the new $2.3 billion dollar Cincy Bridge is not scheduled to even start construction for probably four years, writes Malcolm, long after the Republicans have scheduled the Obama presidency for completion. So it’s another not quite shovel-ready project, Mark.

MS: Yes, exactly, and what do you expect when you want to sluice a bridge through something…I mean, I will go into my little bridge anecdote for a bit, because it was exactly the same thing. It was some complicated state, town, federal-state funding plan, the upshot of which was that this little bridge wasn’t built for years and years and years, and the costs spiraled out of control, way behind anything, on a little, dirt road connecting about eight or nine houses. So the next bridge that wore out, they didn’t bother with the 70/30, 80/20 state-federal, federal-state funding plan. They put it up themselves for, I think, it was $20,000 dollars. It was way cheaper to do it, and that’s actually, if you think about it, that is the cheapest way to build bridges. Why can’t America put up a bridge in four years? Obviously, if they were left to their own devices, the people who need the bridge would get on and build the bridge. But if you sluice it through some bureaucracy in Washington, the whole country seizing up, and the sclerosis of America is what actually Obama standing in front of a bridge that no one is going to break ground on for four years, no one’s going to finish for four years, no car is going to drive across for four years, that’s American sclerosis right there.

HH: And American sclerosis manifested itself on the markets today, plummeting 391 points on the Dow, massive losses on all the other international exchanges. And Mark, I know some of this is European bond debt crisis, but some of it as well, I think, a failed presidency that intimidates and panics some investors.

MS: Yes, and these things aren’t unrelated. I mean, the fact of the matter is that the entire advanced world economy is stalled at the moment. Where do you go? Where’s the safe harbor money? When Europe started melting down, the safe haven money went to the U.S. dollar. But the U.S. dollar isn’t really a safe haven currency. What kind of safe haven currency is buying 70% of its own debt through quantitative easing? So in fact, the safe haven is running on fumes, too, to mangle my metaphors. And I think that is the real problem that in the normal course of events, Europe expected America to do what it normally does, which is to be the global engine of the economy, and pull the world economy out of recession. And they realize that the American engine has rusted up. And the fact of the matter is there is nowhere to go, not in the Western world. If you want, if the smart money wants to find somewhere else in one of these emerging economies or whatever, that’s all very well. But what we think of as the Western world, the entire global economy is stalled and seized up.

HH: Last question with a minute to go, Mark Steyn. Andrew Breitbart has a story out today, a big story about Joe McGinniss, and how he has admitted in an e-mail that there just isn’t any evidence for many of the charges that he actually ended up making in his book. It’s a tawdry book, it’s been reviled even by people who hate Palin in the mainstream media. But I don’t think it’s going to in any way diminish the anti-Palin extremists out there.

MS: No, and you say it’s a tawdry and a sleazy book, and it is. But I looked, actually, at the picture accompanying that Andrew Breitbart story revealing that his book is a total crock of unsourced rumors, published by Random House, which used to be a respectable publishing firm. And the picture of him is on the Today Show.

HH: Yup.

MS: It’s very interesting. My publicist occasionally tries to book me on shows like that, and they all come back with explanations that I’m a bit extreme and not mainstream enough for their audience’s taste. But this total worthless, sleazy, gossip peddler is apparently fine and dandy by them.

HH: It is, and the Breitbart story is a remarkable one. I’ll have Andrew on later. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, After America is the new Steyn book, which we will gladly promote here on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

End of interview.

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