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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn on trial balloons in Colorado and the NFL, and the led zeppelin of Obamacare in the Senate.

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HH: At this moment, we still don’t know what has happened to Falcon Heene, the six year old who is missing in Colorado. I will update you throughout the show. It is Thursday, and we begin it as we do when we are lucky with Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World, for all of Mark’s work. Mark, did you follow this story out of Colorado today?

MS: Yeah, it’s an amazing thing. I don’t know what to say, except it’s just the most, it’s one of those peculiar and potentially tragic and instantly horrifying combination of circumstances.

HH: Yeah, gut-wrenching, and I will keep people posted on it. Let me, while we way for dues on that, go to the other story of the week, which is the obscene story of the week. Rush Limbaugh – McCarthyism lives on the left in America, cannot be an NFL owner, Mark Steyn. What’s your reaction to this?

MS: Well, I don’t think it’s about the NFL, except in this sense, that it’s about keeping effective conservatism in a ghetto, and preventing it from being mainstream and respectable. And what the point of this is, is to make the price of being an effective, successful conservative too high. These people are really saying you can be David Brooks, but not Rush Limbaugh. You can be Olympia Snowe, but not Sarah Palin. You can be Meghan McCain, but not Liz Cheney. Liz Cheney, judging from Maureen Dowd’s latest column, is just being kitted out with the Sarah Palin concrete overcoat roundabout now. And I think the response to people who say well, okay, so these quotes about slavery and James Earl Ray weren’t accurate, but he said a lot of other stuff. You know, if he’s such an obvious racist, why do they need to frame him? Why do they need to frame him? They needed to do it this way, because they want to keep conservatism in a fringe ghetto somewhere, and not let it penetrate to mainstream American institutions.

HH: Before we began, I taped an interview with the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait, which will play at the end of the program today. And Jonathan says he didn’t know anything about the quotes that, the James Earl Ray quote and the slavery quote, but that he had heard Rush Limbaugh say that the attack on the bus, whatever that was, was a racist event, and that it meant that all of the white children in America couldn’t be safe. Now I don’t have a transcript, I have no idea what Rush said. He does three hours a day. But does that, it’s just another example, Mark Steyn, of the endless campaign against Rush.

MS: Yes, and the fact of the matter is that whatever your guest may or may not have heard, CNN broadcast these quotes as stated fact. And now, it’s interesting to me, CNN is carried on cable networks in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, many places around the world. As you know, British Commonwealth libel law is far more favorable to the plaintiff than it is in the United States. Rush could be like these Saudi sheiks. He could sue in a London court, and clean up over this stuff if he wanted to.

HH: Listen to this one, Mark Steyn. This is a professor of journalism at Hunter College. Her name is also Hunter, on MSNBC, I think on Monday, maybe Tuesday, here it is.

Host: Limbaugh’s attempt to buy the Rams rallying the union to be against it. Joining us now is Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Karen Hunter. She’s also a publisher and teaches journalism at Hunter College here in New York. You’ve also been a very vocal critic of what’s happening here. You wanted to respond to Rush Limbaugh explaining that he’s not a racist by saying that he wants to be part of an organization that’s 70% African-American.

KH: I could just see the visions of plantation grandeur dancing in his head as we speak. Yeah, it doesn’t make you a racist to want to own a team, but it does kind of, with all his history, question his power position over these players who make millions of dollars, and his ability to be able to move them around, deny them contracts, and do whatever he wants. Well we know, he’s the ultimate power position to be an owner of an NFL team.

Host: But when you talk about whether someone is racist, David and I have always tried to be very careful with this, because you do not know a person’s heart.

KH: Right.

Host: We cannot speak for a person’s motivation, but you can use their words in defining their character, and that’s…

KH: I mean, the Bible says out of there before the heart. It comes out of your mouth, so the words, you even put up two of the statements that he said about the NFL looking like the Cripps and the Bloods. He even said that Dr. Martin Luther King’s killer, James Earl Ray, should have a medal given to him, a medal of honor. He says we miss you, James.

HH: Now…

MS: Look, that woman quoted something that he didn’t say. But putting that aside, I went in, the first time I went in to guest host for Rush Limbaugh, there’s a black man on the other side of the glass telling me do this, do that, whatever. That’s Mr. Snerdley, who talks in Rush’s ear three hours a day. And as he said during the election campaign, is “certified black enough” to criticize Barack Obama. So the second, you know, the number two guy when Rush is sitting in his studio in Palm Beach is a black guy. His most popular guest host, putting aside these obscure foreigners like me that he lets on the air, his most popular guest host is Walter E. Williams, a black conservative. He has Thomas Sowell on, a black conservative. What this woman from Hunter College means, this supposedly successful journalist, is that these black guys are not on the Democratic Party plantation. If we’re going to bandy around all the plantation rhetoric, that’s what they’ve got. It means it doesn’t count if you have Walter Williams as your guest host. It doesn’t count if you have Mr. Snerdley in your ear directing the show, because they’re not Democratic Party plantation blacks.

HH: I found it amazing that the statement went unchallenged by an alleged anchor who would not immediately hear that that was a fable, a lie, and a malicious one. You’re right about libel and slander laws, Mark, around the world. You’re absolutely right about that. I want to bring this update…

MS: But also, you know more about U.S. law than I do, Hugh. I mean, I think there is, the charge of malice here, I think if you look at the way these things were labeled on TV, for example, ABC was very careful to say that it had been cited by somebody. In other words, they put that quote out, I think that gives the game away. I think they put the quote out knowing it was false. I think if you look at the caption on the CNN quote, Rush Limbaugh on the radio, no date, normally if you put up an incendiary statement, they date it. I think in this instance, they know it was false, and that’s a malice, Hugh.

HH: Oh, that’s a New York Times V. Sullivan issue, and we’ll see if Rush wants to go that direction. Mark, I’ve got to get your reaction. Good news, and unusual news. There’s a press conference going on right now. The young boy is alive. He was never in the balloon. He was hiding on the ground. He thought he was in trouble. You get to react live to this, Mark Steyn.

MS: Well…

HH: Thank God, but then what?

MS: Well, thank God, but you know, there are a lot of law enforcement people, there have been a lot of people who have been sitting around at airports waiting to scramble into planes, and at the end of the day, this kid is likely to have cost authorities some significant six figure sum. And I don’t, you know, I don’t hold anything against him. God bless him, he’s six years old, and I’m glad he’s safe. But next time you’re building a helium balloon, you really don’t want a plywood compartment in it. That’s my only tip.

HH: And don’t let your older brothers near it.

MS: Yeah, that’s right.

HH: Yes, I had visions of these older brothers telling him to get in the basket, Mark Steyn. I had older brothers. I know what they’re like.

MS: Yeah, I know, and on one side of me, sort of kind of agrees on that. I mean, I think as a sort of broad philosophical sense, the reason things like the Dangerous Books For Boys are so popular, is because we do too much to suppress boys’ urges to just pull this kind of crazy stuff.

HH: Yes.

MS: I mean, this is crazier than most, if he had done it. He’s floating 10,000 feet in the air, to who knows where. But I mean, I am generally supportive of the idea that you can’t be the sort of so-called smother mother, and just raise your child in a sort of cocoon of marshmallow.

HH: I know, this is the sort of fellow, though, that you would write an obituary about in the way that you have always written obituaries, you know, 70, 80 years from now, long may he live. He’ll be the boy who wasn’t in the balloon for the rest of his life.

MS: Yeah, he will be, and I’d like to see him. I hope one day he does actually get to climb into it. I don’t think six, you know, I’m all for children pushing the boundaries. I don’t think six is the age to do it, but I hope one day he does get to ride in that balloon.

HH: All right, last question, in this Chait interview from the New Republic, I ask him a series of basic questions about what’s in the Baucus bill. He has no idea, Mark Steyn, and it illustrates, he tells me I should talk to Jon Cohn, who is the New Republic’s expert, but he’s for the bill. I think this is what’s wrong with this bill. Nobody knows what’s in it.

MS: No, and I really think that’s the point. In a way, all this arguing about this or that, the cost, this particular clause, that particular clause, the point is if this goes through to conference, and they’re in there trying to match this up with what the House has passed, it’s going to be one of the, it’ll be longer than all the other unread bills that were voted through without anybody reading them. It’ll be even longer than that, and it will have even more time bombs planted in it. And that’s why I’d like to see a Constitutional amendment limiting the length of bills, and requiring legislators themselves to have read them.

HH: As you know, that would be, that would require the mass exit from Congress of a number of people. Mark Steyn, always a pleasure,, America.

End of interview.


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