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Mark Steyn on Barack Obama’s executive order to cut agency spending

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HH: On Thursday when we are lucky, we are joined by the Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of Mark’s work at Mark, I’m tempted to go immediately to Herman Cain, but as you know, yesterday was a very important day. The President signed an executive order titled Promoting Efficient Spending that declared, “I direct agency heads to take even more aggressive steps to assure the government is a good steward of taxpayer money.” I though I’d walk through this, but aren’t you enormously relieved?

MS: Yeah, I think that’s great. I mean, I didn’t realize that it was that easy, that in fact, this whole multi-trillion dollar debt pit that America is mired in, that if you could just get the President’s attention, get him to sit down at the desk and get him to sign an executive order, just solving the problem, we could all live happily ever after. I’m very grateful to him for that.

HH: Well, it’s very detailed. I want to start in Section 3 on travel, where the President declares, “To ensure efficient travel spending, agencies are encouraged to devise strategic alternatives to government travel, including local or technological alternatives such as teleconferencing and video conferencing. Agencies should make all appropriate efforts to conduct business and host or sponsor conferences in space controlled by the federal government.” Sad to think we’ve gone about 210 years without anyone knowing this, Mark Steyn.

MS: (laughing) No, I know. And honestly, I hate to say physician heal thyself, but given that this is a guy who takes a 40 car motorcade to visit an ice cream parlor on Martha’s Vineyard, and who has a weaponized, Canadian bus built for him to visit towns in his own country on that Iowa tour, and then in fact doesn’t even get into the weaponized, Canadian bus until five minutes before it pulls into town, so the weaponized, Canadian bus has to be flown to the relevant destinations…I think we should start with that. I would love, by the way, I would love one of these presidential candidates to say you know, there have been a lot of improvements in car security since the motorcade thing took off in the late 50s and 60s. I’m going to make do, I’m going to cut the motorcade in half, I’m not going to fly on Air Force One. If the queen of the Netherlands flies commercial, Prince William and his lovely bride flew from Heathrow, across Canada to Los Angeles and back to Heathrow in some ratty, old Royal Canadian Air Force bone-shaker, if it’s good enough for Prince William, it’s good enough for me. I would love to actually see him take action at home on that stuff.

HH: Well, it’s, as a matter of fact, in his new executive order, yesterday’s executive order, Section 6 reads, “The President’s memorandum of May 24th on federal fleet performance directed agencies to improve the performance of the federal fleet of motor vehicles by increasing the use of vehicle technologies, optimizing fleet size, and improving agency fleet management. Building upon this effort, agencies should limit executive transportation.” So he’s on the same page with you, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yes, (laughing) I think…I hate to be cynical, Hugh, you know that, but I have the vague suspicion that that order about minimizing fleet size might be applying to the deputy assistant associate assistant deputy associate assistant deputy secretary of transportation, and not to the president of the United States. He took Air Force One to make a 100 mile trip. He took a jet that’s designed for trans-Atlantic travel to make a 100 mile trip from the White House to a Democratic Party retreat in Virginia. I would love to see the President leading by example on this issue.

HH: I could go through this line by line, but I just want to cover three more parts, because it got such press coverage. Section 4 directed agencies to assess current device inventories and uses, and establish controls to ensure they are not paying for unused or underutilized information technology. Section 5 told agencies to limit the publication and printing of hard copy documents. And then, Mark, Section 7, agencies should limit the purchase of promotional items, e.g., plaques, clothing and commemorative items, in particular when they are not cost effective.

MS: (laughing)

HH: (laughing) This is the presidency.

MS: We’re going to claw our way back to fiscal solvency by cutting down on commemorative plaques from the Department of Time-Serving Bureaucrats?

HH: That’s exactly what it means. It means that $1.5, or $4 trillion dollars in coffee cups are gone from the budget.

MS: Right, that’s a relief. You know, the unnecessary information technology systems, let me make a suggestion here. The government of the United States, every time I come into the country as a legal immigrant, they do this to legal immigrants. Illegal immigrants, it doesn’t matter. If you’re undocumented, you’re undocumented. But the rest of us are documented up to the eyeballs. And every time I come into the country, I flew from Montreal to Miami a couple of days ago, the government of the United States takes a retinal scan of me, and takes my fingerprints. And I assume they’re doing this to claw back the money for this system. And I assume they’re going to do some Andy Warhol, you know, like his pictures of Marilyn, all the Marilyn Monroe prints? I assume they’re going to have a big Eyes Of Steyn exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art to claw back all the money that they’ve wasted taking photographs of my eyeballs every couple of weeks. But at a certain point, you have to ask yourself doesn’t the government of the United States have enough retinal scans of Steyn’s eyeballs? And maybe that could be one of the information technology systems that perhaps isn’t fully justifying its cost.

HH: Mark, it is so absurd, but here we are in the middle of a, you know, Italy is breaking down, Greece is bankrupt, the currency is going to be just absolutely worth nothing in five more years if we don’t change things.

MS: Right.

HH: And the President is staging events like this, and they are covered by the media with a straight face.

MS: Yeah, and really, this is disgraceful. These are covered, these events are covered as if they are real. I mean, basically, this is worse…when King Canute called his courtiers down to the ocean’s edge, and announced he was going to command the waters not to come in and wet his loafers, he did, the people misunderstand that anecdote. King Canute was doing that to teach his courtiers a lesson in kingly power, in the limits of kingly power. Now we have King Barack, who goes to the water’s edge and says I command by my mighty majesty, I command ye debt, ye tide of debt to recede and not wet my loafers. And the groveling eunuchs of the court media cover it as if it was actually real…

HH: Yes.

MS: …And King Canute, he was doing it to demonstrate the limits of kingly power. Now, we’ve gone backwards, and the eunuch courtiers of the media are covering it to demonstrate the boundlessness of his majesty, King Barack’s mighty power. We’ve degenerated.

HH: It is. He has complete authority over tchotchke and nothing else. Now I’ve got to go from the very ridiculous to the very important. The president of the United States and the president of France were caught on an open microphone deprecating our closest ally in the Middle East, whose very regime, whose entire people, are threatened by what even the International Atomic Energy Agency has had to realize, is a nuclear ambitious Iran, and they’re busy slagging Netanyahu, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yeah, I know. The fascinating thing to me about this was actually the way Obama phrased it. When Sarkozy said, whatever it was, oh, I can’t stand Netanyu, he’s a liar, and Obama replies you think you’ve got a problem with him, I have to talk to him every day. Well, the only reason he has to talk to him every day, I don’t know whether that’s true or not, is because he’s calling him up, and he’s trying to persuade, he’s leaning on Israel to make concessions to a fiction. And if he’s got a problem with Netanyahu, in a sense, it’s because he’s chosen to have a problem with Netanyahu. Netanyahu can’t afford the Obama fictions, because as you say, we’ve condemned Israel to live at code red alert in perpetuity. When Ahmadinejad and the mullahs get their bomb, Israel is going to have to be monitoring 24/7 to decide whether that uptick in the chatter means something, and this is the night they’re going to have to send out the guys to take out the Iranian nukes, or they’re going to face existential destruction. Listening to these sort of queeny, old gossips caught on the mic like Sarkozy and Obama is the difference. Israel lives on the front line of civilization. She can’t indulge herself the way this fellow in the White House can.

HH: Last question, because we’ve got a minute left, the Herman Cain saga. It won’t be over this week, it won’t be over next week. But your just general thought on it, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well you know, let’s just assume for the moment that he is innocent. He’s being accused of things that people did not take into a courtroom fifteen years ago. And dredging up old accusations that were not, that did not go to trial fifteen years earlier is a very difficult thing, particularly for men of a certain age to defend themselves against. But assuming he’s innocent, I would like to see a little bit more righteous indignation from Herman Cain. I thought his press conference was not good. You know, I’m willing to be called a sex fiend and a predator and all the rest of it, but not by the same mainstream media that covered up for John Edwards and Bill Clinton, and all the rest of it. The comparison here is with Sarah Palin, that it’s about destroying, it’s about destroying certain identity groups that wander off the reservation. Sarah Palin was not a woman to feminist groups. Herman Cain is not a black guy to black groups. And it’s about destroying these guys and taking them out.

HH: Thank you, Mark Steyn. It’s the Hugh Hewitt Show.

End of interview.


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