HH: We begin as we do on Thursdays when we are lucky with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Mark, welcome back, it’s good to talk to you again.
MS: Hey, great to be with you, and I’m honored to be the warm-up act for that lineup. Wow, that is one A list lineup, Hugh.
HH: But I’ve got to ask you, I heard, I learned for the first time this week listening to you fill in for Rush that it is a condition of your continued stay in the United States that you not foment revolution.
MS: (laughing) Well, anyone who has ever gone through U.S. immigration, for example, knows there are some very odd questions in there. There’s a question they ask that says were you a member of the National Socialist Party of Germany between the years 1933 and 1945? And I gather Mohammed Atta aced that part of the test.
MS: So you know, the test doesn’t get updated terribly often. But there is, I believe there is a condition there that as a condition of my continued residency in the United States, that I not foment the overthrow of the United States government. So I was eager to emphasize to Rush listeners that there was no fomenting going on in the program whatsoever.
HH: Well then, I tremble at the prospect of asking you about the Gang of Six, because it was hailed as the salvation of America. And I’m going to challenge Tom Coburn about it, but you’re not enamored of the Gang of Six.
MS: No, and as I say, emphasizing the non-fomenting nature of my disagreement…
MS: …I wouldn’t entirely be averse to the collapse of the United States government right at the moment, in a purely non-fomenting sense, Hugh.
HH: (laughing) Bystander.
MS: …I hasten to add, in case some Border Patrol guy is listening.
MS: No, because for a start, this whole debate in the media has been framed dishonestly. You know, the world is not watching just to see Congress pass a debt ceiling increase. The world is watching to see if the American political class is willing to get serious about America’s unsustainable level of government spending, because the various holders of U.S. Treasury debt do not want to be dragged down with a collapsed dollar and a collapsed United States government. And by the way, these are not, people tend to think that this sort of debt stuff just affects foreigners. I mean, if you’ve got a pension fund, if you’ve got insurance funds, all these things, municipal, state and municipal funds, these are all among the biggest buyers of U.S. Treasury debt. And so it’s not just the Chinese and the Japanese and the British. There’s a lot of people in America who are going to be affected by the depravity and incompetence of the political class.
HH: I am also going to raise with Senator Coburn my first objection, which is it’s another Obamacare instance of promising a lot and giving us an outline, and no specifics, and a trust us sort of deal. I would have thought, Mark Steyn, that Republicans would have learned don’t try and sell us anything that we cannot read ourselves for a while.
MS: No, and that’s why, for example, I am really philosophically opposed to grand bargains and 2,000 page bills. I like the old days. You know, people didn’t object to the Tea Act. The Tea Act was about tea. That’s the way they did it in colonial days. The Tea Act was about tea. When you have 3,000 page bills, your legislators are voting on stuff they haven’t got a clue what’s in them. Often, those bills are actually unwritten at the time of passage, and you only find out what’s in there when it emerges afterwards. Republicans get suckered, because the ratchet effect on government is that whatever you think you’ve passed, once it goes downstairs to the permanent bureaucracy beavering away in the basement, the whole thing is like some giant, toxic, killer mushroom growing there in the basement, and it turns into something way beyond whatever some twerp of a rhino, reach across the aisle Senator thinks he signed onto.
HH: There is also a pernicious myth building that there is $600 billion or more in Defense spending cuts that can be taken out of a budget that’s already seen the F-22 cancelled, a number of weapons systems cancelled, and the strain of war, and not the revitalization. Mark Steyn, I think this has become current now among Republicans who are not paying attention to the PRC, much less our global responsibilities in the world of terror.
MS: Well, the reality is that when money drains, power drains. I mean, that is a simple fact of life, and that’s why the decline of the United States is of serious concern to the world, because it will mean…the United States has been, since 1945, the global order maker. Simply put, it won’t be able to afford that role once we’re driven into insolvency, which is where these current levels of spending go to. So I’m in favor a prudent and accountable Pentagon budget. But the reality is that by about 2015-2016, the United States government will be spending more on interest payments than it will on military spending. Military spending by about 2015 is projected to be between 14-16%. And the interest payments are going to suck up between 15-20% of federal revenues. In other words, 20% of every tax dollar you mail into the United States Treasury will be going to the Chinese and the Japanese and the British, and the other holders of American debt. In fact, the interest payments alone will be covering the entire cost of the Chinese People’s Army by the end of this decade.
MS: There is no precedent in history for this.
HH: That means we have two Defense budgets, just one is our competitor, or our near-peer competitor.
MS: Exactly, and there’s not precedent on that. I mean, when you go look at the late 19th Century, British taxpayers weren’t also funding the German military.
HH: It’s like the Romans funding the barbarians.
MS: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
HH: All right, Mark Steyn, I’ve got to switch to politics. Mike Huckabee today said he’s not a big fan of Texas Governor Rick Perry. He says if Rick runs for president, he will, “get to explain why he supported pro-abortion, pro-same sex marriage Rudy Giuliani last time.” Kind of a subtle dig, don’t you think?
MS: (laughing) It is a subtle dig. But you know, if you were to hold it against them, every smart guy who signed on with the Giuliani campaign, I was so stunned by that, the number of people who basically, because of the way Giuliani reacted in the hours of that grim Tuesday morning a few Septembers ago, they thought he was the man to back in the Republican primary. And in fact, he was not just…it was not just that he had unacceptable policy positions, he was also an inept campaigner. Yet it didn’t stop all kinds of smart folks that I respect for…John Podhoretz, for example, who’s often on this show, John Podhoretz was a big smart guy who got behind the Giuliani campaign.
HH: Oh, I liked Rudy a lot, too. I didn’t endorse him, but I liked him a lot. You’re right. And Mike Huckabee, though, has an elephant’s memory. He’s not going to forget any slight or arrow.
HH: Now let me close by asking you, Mark, you’re a great writer, and we have a challenge in front of us in California, because the California legislature has mandated that textbooks be rewritten to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered history. Now I’m calling on your gifts as a writer. How are we going to do the Mayflower, 1776, the Civil War? Exactly how would you recommend we approach this?
MS: Oh, Hugh, this is why you are such a notorious homophobe.
MS: Everybody knows that 76% of the passengers on the Mayflower were transgendered colonials fleeing Britain because of the outrageous transphobia that was going on in Britain at the time. That’s why…and when they landed at Plymouth Rock? Plymouth Rock was settled by transgendered settlers. How can you not know that?
HH: Well I know, it’s an obscure point, and that’s what this is intended to rectify. But what about the Civil War? What component of gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual history have we avoided in the Civil War?
MS: Well, (laughing), every time, if you say to a Southerner, if you mention…you remember that scurrilous cartoon showing Jefferson Davis being captured in women’s clothing?
HH: There you go!
MS: Southerners object to that.
MS: It’s now their best shot at keeping Jefferson Davis in the California curriculum.
HH: (laughing) I had not thought of that. You’re absolutely right. Jefferson Davis is going to give us a chapter.
HH: He was just crossdressing.
MS: Yeah, and Southerners will loathe it, but without that, he’d never get a look in the California history books.
HH: Well, I knew I could count on you. One quick question on Rupert Murdoch and the inquisition that was held this week, is British security, as an old Fleet Streeter, that lax whenever a world, historical magnate is on the stage certain to attract enemies?
MS: Yeah, it basically pretty much goes that way. The Queen woke up in the middle of the night once, and there was some strange guy who’d wandered into Buckingham Palace, sitting on the end of her bed. And she had to keep the guy talking for about 40 minutes while frantically pressing the panic button in vain under the nightstand before anybody showed up. You know, basically you’ve got to figure that in that situation, anyone can pretty much walk into the place.
HH: Well, I’m just…a pie is not really that easy to conceal, Mark.
MS: No, I know, and this…what’s interesting is Rupert Murdoch was being grilled because supposedly these journalists who hacked into these phone lines have to be held accountable. I would be interested to know whether the security regime at the House of Commons that allowed that guy, who looks like a bum, and doesn’t look like anybody else there, everyone else is in a suit, he’s in some checked shirt. And the guy who fell down on the security thing, will he be held accountable? Or will he just stay in his cushy government job and retire at 53 on this government pension?
HH: Great question. Mark Steyn, thank you, www.steynonline.com, America. We will also look for Mark’s expanded history work in a future segment.
End of interview.