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Mark Steyn On Kiev, Venezuela, And Fighting Back At Dr. Michael Mann

Friday, February 21, 2014

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HH: On a grim day in Kiev where dozens are dead, snipers have taken up Kalashnikovs, are mowing down, and it’s now become obvious that the blowback against the president is mounting. He may be forced to leave the country. Chaos in the offing, and the person who can spread light, truth and reason, Mark Steyn, the Columnist To the World joins me now. Mark, I don’t know if you’ve spent much time in Ukraine. Have you?

MS: No, I haven’t. I was there shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union when it was in a state of rather chaotic transition. But I haven’t been back in the last, whatever it is, 15, 16 years now.

HH: Well, it’s odd to have these sorts of stories coming out of a non-banana republic, and what do you put at Putin’s feet here? How much of the responsibility for this massacre is his?

MS: Well, it’s astonishing to me, I was listening, just driving along listening to the radio this morning, and there was somebody reporting on what was happening in Ukraine. And at the end of it, the reporter gave her name, and it turned out she was in Sochi. And that’s what’s been happening, that people have been sent to cover the Olympic Games, are finding that they’re having to cover what’s going on in Ukraine from there. It’s a bit like as if, you remember Hitler’s controversial 1936 Olympics, if he’d decided to occupy the Sudetenland during the ’36 Olympics. It’s bizarre that Putin has been able to get away with this. The Europeans obviously are, it’s their backyard, the European Union’s backyard. I mean, Poland borders Ukraine. And in the vacuum on American power, what is going on here is going to be determined by everybody but the so-called global superpower.

HH: We will talk about that vacuum with Walter Russell Mead today, Michael O’Hanlon and a bunch of other people, but it’s pretty clear that the Secretary of State begins the week talking about the greatest weapon of mass destruction, global warming and climate change in Geneva. And at the end of the week, everyone’s mocking him, because it has nothing to do with the way the world really works, which is power politics, massacres at the end of a gun, losing Venezuela to mob violence and the fascists down there.

MS: Right.

HH: We have an administration, Mark, Steyn, utterly clueless about how the world works.

MS: Well, yeah, John Kerry, the man who was advertising that he’d be the guy who could get America to pass the global test when he ran for president in 2004, the world has decided he can’t pass the global test. He basically needs remedial work in geopolitics. He’s talking like some sophomore in his dorm room at two in the morning about how the greatest challenge is global warming. I’d love to see him walk about the streets and tell the people who are being gunned down that the biggest challenge the world faces is global warming. This is pathetic and embarrassing.

HH: It is, but since we are speaking about global warming, I want to mention to people I have in my hand here your first amended complaint, in which you include counterclaims against Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State University, Mark Steyn. Going on the offense, are we?

MS: Yeah, I was looking at a case, Dr. Mann is a serial litigant. He’s the guy with the hockey stick graph, and he sues everybody. And he’s suing a fellow called Tim Ball up in British Columbia. And that case is now entering its third year, a nothing little case. And I don’t want to spent three years on this guy down here. This is what he does. He uses the process as the punishment. So I’ve launched counterclaims to him for interfering with my rights to free speech, seeking damages of $20 million dollars. Now that’s a lot of money. Obviously, I don’t need the $20 million dollars, because I’ve got my royalties from the disco version of Marshmallow World.

HH: There you go.

MS: When he writes his check for $20 million dollars, I’m going to use it to defend and advance free speech in the United States and around the rest of the West where it is under threat from serial litigants like Dr. Mann, whose intention is to abuse the legal process by taking people out of the game with two, three, four, five year lawsuits that they have no intention of ever going to trial on. He’s stalling, he filed this suit in Vancouver, and he’s stalling discovery. He’s stalling discovery in Virginia, and he’s going to be stalling discovery in my case in a couple of weeks’ time. This is just his modus operandi.

HH: Well, you’ve also added in here in Paragraph 139 an anti-SLAPP Act, completing of the anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, DC code. And long may you rule. You’ve also got tort claims in here filed on behalf of you earlier. So I hope this does, in fact, get the court to focus. But really what you need, Mark, what free speech needs, are judges who understand what the 1st Amendment is. This is really absurd. I couldn’t teach this in Con Law. I couldn’t make this a hypothetical in a Con Law exam, because it would be too easy to dismiss his claims against you.

MS: Well, you’re right, and I think somewhere in there, about Paragraph 100 and whatever, I point out that I said exactly the same things about his hockey stick in the Australian, Australia’s national newspaper in 2006. Nobody ever sued about that. And it clearly cannot have been the intent of the 1st Amendment that Americans should wind up with narrower free speech rights than those people who remained within His Majesty’s dominions. And that would be the net effect of this case. You could say this about Michael Mann in Australia, but you couldn’t say it in the United States. That’s completely ridiculous.

HH: Now over at Hughhewitt.com, and on my Twitter account, I’ve tweeted out a link to Lights Out, your e-Book that is available on Kindle and Nook. And what does Lights Out cover?

MS: Well, it’s about free speech. It arose after my battles with the Human Rights Commissions in Canada. It’s about free speech, it’s about multiculturalism, it’s about Islam, it’s about the tendency today, which I think is a real threat around the world, of as you said, judges to in fact shrivel free speech rights when they should be expanding them. And I think that’s absolutely fundamental. I quoted Salman Rushdie in that book who says free speech is the whole ballgame. And at a time when you’ve got the FCC, that thinks it’s entirely normal to be going in to monitor the contents of news broadcasts in radio and TV studios, the presumption that the state has the right to regulate public discourse is very disquieting, especially in a country with the 1st Amendment.

HH: Mark Steyn, everything seems to be off center line, whether it’s 1st Amendment protections in the United States vis-à-vis a robust commentary or in Kiev. And in Venezuela, where people have been mowed down there and we’re barely noticing that, because Kiev’s got our attention, and we’re happily watching a banal and deeply dull Olympics, punctuated by a few interesting moments. But they really are dull. I wonder if we haven’t reached 1978-79 levels of American ennui at this point.

MS: I think we’re somewhere there. I mean, I think clearly, the world has the measure of Obama, that for example, when he drew his red line in Syria, and it turned out, like everything he says, about Obamacare, doctors, and health plans or whatever, that it doesn’t mean anything, that it’s just his cute line of the morning, and it doesn’t mean anything, that the world understood then that you know, when he warns Ukraine that they’re going to be consequences, and by now, he may even have warned Venezuela that there’s going to be consequences, that in the end, he’s not going to do anything. And the question now is Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, where next does the powder keg go up?

HH: Well, that is, that comes the question. I had Scott Walker on yesterday, I asked if he was worried about running against Hillary Clinton in 2016. He said of course not. I look around, I don’t see anything she achieved. I don’t know how long they can keep up the appearance of competence, even among their own people, Mark Steyn.

MS: Well, the appearance of competence is what matters to them. Scott Walker was basically taking the line I took with you on Hillary a few weeks back, that she has the sort of theatrics of foreign policy rights. You can switch on the TV, and she’s going up and airplane’s steps or she’s coming down an airplane’s steps. And if that’s what you want, if that rather sort of cheesy dinner theater version of foreign policy is all that’s required, she’s great. But when she got in the plane, when she got off the plane and she landed, a group of African school children had the measure of her. She was in Africa, and the schoolteacher introduced her to the pupils, and the first pupil’s question I think was can you tell us what Mr. Bill Clinton thinks of something. And she got all kind of offended, and said I’m here in my own right as Secretary of State. And those African schoolchildren well understood that she simply was not someone who had the qualifications for the job, or who was capable of doing the job.

HH: Do you think the American media has the depth of understanding that the African school kids do about Mrs. Clinton, and generally about President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry as well, that the emperors three have not a stitch on?

MS: No, I don’t think they do. I mean, I think if you take, this this was happening on Bush’s watch, we would being told how America is irrelevant, that everybody from the wimpiest, mushiest Scandinavian prime ministers to hard, tough guys like Putin thinks the American president is a joke, and if you’re like Putin, you’re going to do what you want, and you seize your opportunities. And if you’re like those European prime ministers, you just figure you’ve got to go it alone and figure out some way to get through this. But none of them, allies or enemies, all of them have the measure of this President, and it doesn’t appear in the U.S. newspapers.

HH: Well, I hope, Mark Steyn, you get the Steyn legal defense fund going so we can make direct appeals for people to help you fight back Dr. Mann and stop that abuse of the 1st Amendment. Good luck to you in that. We’ll talk to you again.

End of interview.

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