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Mark Steyn On The British Crack Down On The Press And The Canadistinians

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JC: In this hour, as we always have every week on Thursday like this, we have Mark Steyn with us, and you can reach him at Mark Steyn, welcome.

MS: Hey, good to be with you, Congressman. I think that second committee title Hugh read out is the longest committee name I’ve ever heard. I won’t even try to reprise that.

JC: Well you know, the longer we make the title, the more important it sounds. And so, we’re always looking to act like we’re more important than we actually are.

MS: Oh, no, and I think it also stimulates the important business card community, because they have to make the luxury length business cards. So you’re stimulating the economy just by having committee titles that long.

JC: It’s economic growth. All economic growth comes from the government, right? Isn’t that the way it works?

MS: That’s right. That’s right.

JC: Yeah, that’s what I thought. Well, okay, Mark, we’ve got a lot of stuff to get to, so we need to get to some of this. But first, I think you have some kind of a passing knowledge about Britain and the United Kingdom and so forth, and they have a little issue going on with the press right now, where apparently the Cameron, the coalition government, has got some new ethics rules or something relative to the press. Why don’t you talk about that a little bit, and your thoughts there on.

MS: Yeah, basically, David Cameron, who is a nominally conservative prime minister, has just agreed to the first serious press regulation in the United Kingdom in over three centuries. And he’s done it in a classically Cameroonian way, that’s to say rather than put it through Parliament through law, he’s effectively done it, I don’t want to be too boringly constitutional on all this, but he’s done it through a royal charter, which is in effect through a sort of proclamation by the Queen, so it’s not actually a law. But the effect of this is serious, genuinely serious. In effect, government bureaucrats will be, have enormous powers to regulate the press. And if you think of the more litigious and querulous identity groups that we have in the United States, and that all Western nations have, really, they will now be able to go to government bureaucrats and get the bureaucrat to order responses to be published in certain newspapers and all the rest of it. It’s disgraceful. If you take it together with not just proposed legislation in Australia, and a disastrous Supreme Court decision in Canada, the…right here in the United States, this guy in Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter, basically kind of sick his human rights commission in that city, human relations commission, onto a magazine for publishing a story he didn’t like. In other words, a mayor of an American city demanding that the state investigate the press for publishing a story he happens to disagree with, I think the lights are going out on genuine press freedom all over the English-speaking world.

JC: Now this, on this, I have three articles here – New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes, all of whom don’t like it. You would imagine the press wouldn’t like it, but this was germinated from some element of Newscorp, right, that listened to some phone records they weren’t supposed to listen to or something like that?

MS: Yeah, basically, Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers in Britain were hacking into cell phone accounts. It wasn’t anything terribly sophisticated. I gather if you buy a cell phone, they come with one of two default security codes, so some people reset the security code and make it their mother’s birthday or whatever. But other people just leave the default security codes in there, and so they were, Rupert Murdoch’s chaps were able to hack into the security accounts of members of the Royal Family, the eminent thespian, Hugh Grant, and various other people. Well, so what? Hugh Grant’s cell phone is not a big enough cause to abolish press freedom. I don’t care how much anybody happens to like Four Weddings And A Funeral. But the movie wasn’t that good enough to roll back three centuries of press freedom in Britain. It’s simply ridiculous.

JC: Yeah, and as you suggested, I mean, because the internet is worldwide and so forth, an American person can say well, I’ve been defamed by a British newspaper because someone in Britain, in America, might read it, because it comes across. So all kinds of stuff there, but we have to go on to one other thing. Our President, that would be President Obama, is in Israel this week, as we know, and we have a clip we’d like to play and get your reaction. It has a little something to do with Canada. So I think you might have some interest in this. Duane, Adam, play that clip.

BO: So I think it’s important for us to work through this process, even if there are irritants on both sides. The Israelis have concerns about rockets flying into their cities last night. And it would be easy for them to say you see, this is why we can’t have peace, because you know, we can’t afford to have our kids in beds sleeping and suddenly a rocket comes through the roof. But my argument is even though both sides may have areas of strong disagreement maybe engaging in activities that the other side considers to be a breach of good faith, we have to push through those things to try to get to an agreement, because if we get an agreement, then it will be very clear what the nature of that agreement is. There’ll be a sovereign Palestinian state, a sovereign Jewish state of Israel, and those two states, I think, will be able to deal with each other the same way all states do. I mean, you know, the United States and Canada has arguments once in a while. They’re not the nature of arguments that can’t be solved diplomatically.

MS: (laughing)

JC: Now, Mark Steyn, so I have often thought that the Palestinians and the state of Israel have a similar relationship as the United States and Canada.

MS: Yeah, you know, I was born in Toronto, which you guys burned down in the War of 1812. And I thought I’d heard all the anti-Canadian stuff from the United States. But when you’re comparing Canadians to Palestinians, I think that really actually is going a bit too far. We have a big organization up there, by the way, not Hamas. We have Hamoose in Canada, Hamoose. And they’re, they don’t recognize your right to exist, and they’re committed to pushing every single last American into the sea, and reclaiming the land that you stole from our royal family all those years ago. So I think the parallels between the U.S.-Canadian border and the Israeli-Palestinian situation are absolutely precise. I mean, if I were, you know, these guys have to live with it for real. And to be told that somehow the problems when you’ve got the Palestinians raining down rockets on you is like the little frictions they have between Derby Line, Vermont and Stansted, Quebec, is absolutely preposterous and insulting. And the Israelis should have laughed him off the stage at that point.

JC: You know, it doesn’t appear that this trip is going very well. Everything from his limousine breaking down, they had to fly one in from wherever they had to fly one in and all this kind of stuff, doesn’t seem to be going very well. What are your thoughts about how this whole trip has been going?

MS: Well, you know, the limousine breakdown is unfortunate, although I do think it testifies to the problems of the whole sort of 40 car motorcade approach to these visits. The presidential party is taking every single room at the King David Hotel, and that wasn’t enough, so they’ve also had to take other hotels. And I think that actually, that has actually gotten to the unreality of it, that in a sense, it’s like some huge, medieval court that just sort of wafts through and prevents any kind of real face to face…as you heard, when he was just winging it in that thing, when you take away the 40 car motorcade and the presidential party hogging the King David Hotel, what’s left there blinking into the headlamps is a guy who actually doesn’t even have the first clue about the situation on the ground. So I don’t think it’s gone well, and I think Netanyahu’s being incredibly polite about it, all things considered.

JC: Yeah, I think so, too, and you know, all those hotels and all that cost, but we still can’t let school groups through the White House, because that would cost too much money.

MS: (laughing) Yeah, which is crazy. You know, these comparisons, as I understand it, the White House trips/visits cost about $18,000 dollars. But it’s important, symbolically, because he’s not a king. This is the people’s house, and the people should have access to it. And in fact, the cost of sending schoolchildren to the White House is insignificant compared to the cost of sending the President to play golf with Tiger Woods.

JC: Thank you as always, Mark Steyn. Don’t go anywhere, America.

End of interview.


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