HH: I begin with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, from www.steynonline.com. And Mark, probably the most important news of the day is that the Gunnison Sage Groush is probably going to be listed as endangered in Colorado, this shocking people across the Rocky Mountain State.
MS: Yes, it’s actually less exclusive getting onto the Endangered Species list than it ought to be. It’s not like, you know putting down your kid for Eton at birth.
HH: There are only 4,000 Gunnison Sage Grouses, which is a smaller cousin of the greater sage grouse. But they’re setting aside 1.7 million acres of critical habitat, just a slight bit of overkill, Mark Steyn, I think.
MS: I know, at some point, this has got to stop. I mean, I’m in favor, right now, of them setting aside 1.7 million acres for the last few. And it may be as low as 4,000. It may actually be lower than whatever particular grouse this is. Setting aside 1.7 million acres for the fewer than 4,000 Americans who’d still like a small republic of limited government and representatives, they ought to be on the Endangered Species list.
HH: They should. I had Duane print off the rule. It’s 230 pages. It is truly a remarkable excess, and it just stands opposite all of the real problems. They’ve got time to put out a 200 page rule on the Gunnison Sage Grouse, Mark Steyn. But there’s no one talking about the debt ceiling or entitlement reform. I can’t find a Republican leader. They’re all gone.
MS: No, and that’s also something that should be on the Endangered Species list, too. And I’d be surprised if they ever did put the Republican leadership on the Endangered Species list, that the regulation would run to 230 pages, because I don’t think there’s that much to be said about them. I think this is, at some point, you know, one of the tragedies about America being quite so broke as it is, is that when you’re trillions and trillions of dollars in the hole, it’s easy to tell yourself that nothing matters anymore, that oh well, you know, the only thing that matters is reforming Medicare, and blowing another 1.7 million acres and 230 pages of regulation on this unfortunate, little tufted fellow. That doesn’t really matter. It all matters. And as long as we’re…and actually, it sends an important signal, the ability to stop the spending even in small amounts. I mean for example, I accept that if you’ve got a head of state, you’ve got to feed and clothe and house the head of state. But for example, the President’s Hawaiian vacation now costs more than the cost of flying the entire Royal family around the world in the last year, I think in 2011 is the last year we had the figures for. In other words, flying not just the Queen, but the dukes and duchesses not just around the United Kingdom, but to her other realms in Canada and Australia and Jamaica and Belize and Papua New Guinea, costs less than flying the president of the United States on one vacation. He should set an example. He’s right in what he said to Boehner. He doesn’t care about the spending, because if he would, he’d take a vacation at Camp David, or he’d take a vacation in gun-crazed Chicago, his supposed home.
HH: No, you’re absolutely right. The scale has become so immense, nobody really focuses on the details. Out in Southern California, Mark, where the Great Park exists in Orange County, where El Toro Marine Corps Air Station used to be, it was revealed yesterday that of the $200 million dollars spent in the last year on developing the park, less than $40 million of that could be traced to in the ground improvements. The rest went to PR and paper shuffling. So $38 million of $200 million got into the ground improvements. That’s government at every level.
MS: Well, that’s big government. And people shouldn’t be surprised at this, because when government reaches a certain size, then it’s all just about the paperwork shuffling. I mean, for example, Obamacare will be basically about, I mean, in many respects, that’s already happening, that medical treatment, in essence, the costs of the paperwork shuffling are growing more and more and more burdensome. There’s a company out there, I’m always fascinated when you switch on cable TV, there’s a private company out there that just specializes in making it easier for you to fill in W-8’s and 1099’s. I’m ashamed I even know those numbers, by the way. Nobody should know the numbers of government forms off the top of their head like that. But there’s a private company that makes a very nice living just processing, just two, two of those government…they don’t do W-9’s, for example. That would be a whole other company you’d have to set up to get going on that, just W-8’s and 1099’s.
HH: It’s becoming so vast, it’s almost impossible to consider what means the Gunnison Sage Grouse and gun violence and Joe Biden. But let me ask you about Joe Biden and gun violence. The sage grouse are safe, Mark, because they’re now on the Endangered Species list. But evidently, the rest of America is not. And the Vice President is not going to sleep until he turns over his recommendations. At the end of this mini-drama, what exactly is going to be different in America than today, do you think?
MS: Well, I would imagine if, for example, Dianne Feinstein’s bill is anything to go by, that somebody will come up with something that looks like restrictions, but with a lot of, with so many opt outs on it that in the end, it doesn’t particularly make that much difference. But just to go back to what you were saying at the top of the show, there’s been a school shooting, and the Oscars are out. And I don’t, I’m like most people. I’m just shooting off the top of my head here about half this stuff. But the purposeless killer, in other words, one thing that these events have in common, there’s an element of theatricality to them, literally, in the case of the Batman shooter at Aurora, Colorado, but also in the case of Virginia Tech and other recent ones. And yet, they’re purposeless. They’re not even like these jihadists who, you know, go and self-detonate in order to usher in the great global caliphate. These guys have no cause. And in that, they share something in common, I think, that most Hollywood movies…one of the reason most Hollywood action movies bore me is because they’re not about anything. They’re just about some guy who’s trying to kill a bunch of people, but because Hollywood is craven and politically correct, they’re never about anything real. The guy in the movie is never trying to kill people because he wants a global caliphate. He’s just, I saw some, the Bruce Willis movie, Looper, where at one point, old Bruce Willis meets young Bruce Willis, and young Bruce Willis says, asks him something about the plot, and Bruce Willis says oh, don’t think about it. Don’t overcomplicate things. Let’s get out in the street and start shooting people again. And I think that kind of, I think that sort of purposeless, that violence without a context, so it’s not like the Second World War, it’s not like the Somme in 1916, but just violence without a context is Hollywood’s bread and butter now. And it’s no surprise that losers sort of reenact the theatricality of that, that that particular narrative, I think, is peculiar to Hollywood, and says nothing, regardless of what it says about school shootings, says nothing good about American stories.
HH: Quentin Tarentino is very defensive about Django Unchained. It is the most violent movie I have seen since Straw Dogs. It is relentlessly violent and gun-filled. And he’s very touchy in the aftermath of Newtown to people saying that which happens on the screen has any impact on the losers in the world. What do you think of that argument, Mark Steyn?
MS: Well look, Tarentino is an idiot. I said, I didn’t think Reservoir Dogs was a great movie. I think in a sense, he’s the Mantovani of violence, that he kind of makes it into easy listening Muzak. And if you look at what he’s done with the Civil War, this latest film, he’s not in the least bit interested in the Civil War, because that would require reading a book. It would require doing something other than watching other movies. So he’s used the Civil War as a pretext for his kind of homage to spaghetti westerns. And that’s kind of cute in a sort of postmodern joke kind of way. But of course in doing that, you utterly trivialize the actual lived experience of 19th Century America. He’s utterly trivialized that in order to make a film about how he feels about other films. And that kind of ironic pose actually is not disconnected to the kind of twerps you see deciding they’d like to go out in a blaze of glory shooting up a schoolhouse. That is a film about nothing. And when you have violent films about nothing, and then suddenly you start having violent school shootings about nothing, where people are prepared to kill people not for any cause or anything, but as an act of theater, then I think that is worth pondering, and he should be defensive about it.
End of interview.