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Mark Steyn on moose, Mass and comic strips

Friday, May 14, 2010

HH: We begin with Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World. You can read all of Mark’s work at Mark, terrorist arrests across the three state region of the Northeast today, and you had an almost run-in with a jihadi moose, I’m told.

MS: (Laughing) Yeah, I, just about eight minutes ago, I nearly went slamming into a, about a 1,200 pound moose just in front of me on the road.

HH: You know, if you’d hit that moose, you’d probably go to jail for hitting that moose somehow. I don’t know what the moose status is in New Hampshire, but is it protected?

MS: Oh, I gather, I gather that the stimulus package has created 2,374.2 new jobs for mooses in the 2nd Congressional district. That’s the official figure from the federal government.

HH: Well, your pulse is back down, you can comment coherently?MS: Yeah, no, no, no. I’m (laughing), yeah, I’m not so…don’t worry. It hasn’t affected the quality of my opining one bit.

HH: You know, close calls with moose, I don’t even know what the plural of moose is, so I’m not going to…

DP: Moose!

MS: Moose. The plural of moose is moose.

HH: All right, good to know that.

MS: I did it, I said mooses a moment ago just because it was in, I can’t remember, whatever, that’s from a cartoon from a few years back.

HH: All right, let’s get to these terror arrests, Mark Steyn. No word yet on whether they were surprised that the New York Times had not alerted them to the approach of authorities, but what does this tell us about the breadth and depth of the jihadi networks in the Northeast?

MS: Well, it tells you, I think, that simply on the face of it, this idea that every time one of these things happens, and all these public officials go out and say oh, well, he’s just a lone wolf, as they say about this guy, and as they said about Major Hassan, and as they say now, and as they said about the panty bomber just before Christmas, that this is completely false. There are no lone wolves. There are people who spontaneously combust, and sort of get sudden jihad syndrome. But even in that instance, they’re plugged into really quite sophisticated networks not just throughout the United States, but throughout the broader Western world. And it’s a huge advantage, if you compare the way it was with the KGB during the Cold War, because you’ve got people who are ideologically motivated, who have strong local networks, and you don’t have to do all the sort of dead drops, you know, leaving the instructions for the guy under the rock in the park like they had to do in the Cold War. You actually have sophisticated networks operating, more or less, in plain sight.

HH: You know, Mark Steyn, this juxtaposes, and I don’t think irony is the right word, yesterday the Los Angeles City Council, using rhetoric that compared Arizona to Nazis, announced a boycott of the Desert State. Meanwhile, the real Nazi imitators, the jihadists, have not yet gotten the scorn of the Los Angeles City Council. Our priorities seem to be just a touch off right now.

MS: Yes, I think they are. I mean, I think the inability to actually confront the enemy, I mean, you’ve got to, I think you’re really got to look at this from the Department of Justice’s point of view. The Department of Justice now is run by people who, since January 20th last year, were appointed on the basis that there is no war on terror, and if it is, it’s no different from prosecuting a guy for a convenience store holdup. So for this crowd, and I’m not just talking about the Attorney General, but all the people underneath him, really quite deep down in that department now, reject the Bush view that there is some ongoing, long term war with an ideological enemy. They reject that. So you’ve got to really figure out how rattled these guys must have been to have gone into action mode, as they have done in the last few hours. This is something that who knows what this guy was telling them, but whatever it is he’s telling them, it’s rattled them sufficiently to at least temporarily change their whole modus operandi on this subject.

HH: But do you think it will impact public opinion, because I don’t think it’s going to get through the Elena Kagan noise, or the noise of the Tea Parties, or any of the other…they’re serious stories, mind you, but they’re not at serious as having a jihadi network working a three state area, moving money and people back and forth from Waziristan.

MS: No, and I think in a sense, that’s what, that’s what the tragedy of this situation is, that this is a difficult…terrorist wars are difficult to fight preemptively, because your victories are unknown to the public. Every time, I mean, this guy parked the car, made the bomb, and left it in Times Square. A lot of the time, your successes in the war on terror are things that never even make the newspapers, whereas the only things that do make the newspapers are the defeats, when a bomb goes off and a ton of people get killed. And what that means is that if you’re successful on this aspect, as President Bush was after September 11th, what it means is that people get complacent, and they think oh, there is no war, there is nothing going on. These guys are trying to kill us every day of the week, and they can operate with impunity, pretty much, more or less, throughout the Western world. And I think the public have grown complacent on that.

HH: What do you think the new government in Great Britain today, fully installed, although some derision, one blogger at the New Statesman called them Tweedle-Cam and Tweedle-Clegg. And another Twitterer said the country’s now being run by two characters from a Richard Curtis film, of course the director of Love, Actually. What do you think this new British government’s attitude towards the jihadis in London and Great Britain will be, Mark Steyn? More or less aggressive than Brown and Blair?

MS: Well, I think the only one who really prosecuted this war with any enthusiasm was Tony Blair, who was personally very close to President Bush on this issue, although not good on the domestic front. I mean, Britain is basically hollowed out by Islamist networks. I think I said at one point on this show a couple of years ago that it’s basically Somalia with chip shops, and I think it is. I think it’s absolutely hollowed out from tip to toe. But Blair was at least, Blair at least understood something was going on, and was committed to it. And I’m not sure, and Nick Clegg certainly doesn’t, and David Cameron represents a wing of the Tory party whose whole view is that Bush and Blair got far too excited about this business, and is, in some ways, in many ways, much closer to the Eric Holder of what’s going on here.

HH: Well, time to switch to popular culture, our other issue. The Pope today in Fatima, of all places, Mark Steyn, had 400,000 people turn out to hear him denounce abortion, same sex marriage, and other issues of theology. Are you surprised by the fact this octogenarian can draw that many people for that sort of a message?

MS: No, I don’t think so. What is surprising, I guess, is the indestructibility, the appeal of that message, given that it’s basically universally reviled in the popular culture, particularly since the Catholic Church got into its recent difficulties, and you’ve had people calling for the Pope to be arrested and charged with mass murder, and all the rest of it. What I find fascinating is that on issues like abortion, that the Pope’s message retains its appeal even though the United States is a slight exception in that. It has a going pro-life movement. Most European countries, for example, do not have an effective pro-life movement. And it is, and so this popularity is all the more impressive, because it’s not supported by a sustained publicity campaign in mass media.

HH: Very well put. Now today is also, just a few years before the Pope was born, Annie, Little Orphan Annie began as a comic strip. It was announced today there will be no more tomorrows for Annie. It’s over. Is this something that strikes at Mark Steyn’s daily routine? I don’t even know if you’re a comics person to begin with.

MS: Well, I do like, I’m one of these people who, I don’t read Little Orphan Annie from one decade to the next.

HH: (laughing)

MS: But it’s one of those things where you want to be, if you do ever get the urge, you want to be able to pick up the newspaper and find Little Orphan Annie is still in there, just like Blondie. You know, I basically have got no time for any of the daily cartoon strips from the last fifty years. I like them all to be of the Blondie/Little Orphan Annie vintage. And so the idea that they’re finally putting those pennies over her eyeball-less eyes, and laying her to rest, is rather tragic to me. Charles Strouse, whom we’ve mentioned on this show before…

HH: Yes.

MS: Charles Strouse, the composer of the musical Annie, when they adapted it, Charles told me that he hadn’t realized there was so little to Little Orphan Annie, and they wound up, in effect, for that show, doing it as Oliver in drag rather than drawing on a lot of Little Orphan Annie material, because there was less in that comic strip than met the eye. But even so, I’m sad to see her passing. I don’t know who’s going to get custody of Sandy the Dog, but this is a tragedy.

HH: Mark, you remind me, I spent a wonderful hour with Carol Burnett this week talking about her memoir. And she was in the Little Orphan Annie movie, which she in her memoir denounced as just awful, et cetera.

MS: Oh, no, no, that’s an awful film.

HH: That’s what she said.

MS: And I asked Charles Strouse why it was so awful, and he said oh, well we’d just done the show, and it’s very easy just to take the $10 million dollars and go to the Virgin Islands.

HH: (laughing) 30 seconds, did you watch Carol Burnett? Were you ever a Carol Burnett fan?

MS: Oh, Carol Burnett, I wish they’d keep, occasionally, people talk about trying to recreate that form of show. It depends on very particular talents, and I wish we had a Carol Burnett around on TV today.

HH: Oh, you’d love her memoir. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure,, America, for all of Mark’s work.

End of interview.

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