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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn’s 4 C’s – Chas, Cramer, cabinets & capitolism

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HH: We begin as we do on Thursdays when we are lucky with Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. Mark, quite a day today, Wall Street, Dow up 240, NASDAQ up 54, that’s 4%, S&P up 29, that’s 4%, at the same time that Tim Geithner says casually I think we need a trillion bucks for the banks, and the President denounces inflated home prices as a way of powering prosperity, when they probably have unleashed the biggest inflationary cycle since 1977.

MS: Yeah, that’s right. I mean, I’m glad the Dow’s had a couple of good days, and the best days, in fact, since November. But you know, the CEO of the Blackstone Group, the private equity group, said this week that he reckoned up to 45% of the world’s wealth has been destroyed in the last year and a half. And while it’s true that in America that’s, we’re mostly talking about things like house prices and 401K’s rather than theoretical things you don’t need the cash for tomorrow, but in the rest of the world, this is actually real money, things that are causing serious cash flow problems. And this idea that a couple of good days on the Dow is going to reverse that trend, I think, is deluded.

HH: I agree with that, but I am still cautious that we allow panic to embolden the Tim Geithners and his non-team over at Treasury to ask casually for another trillion dollars, Mark Steyn.

MS: Yeah. No, I think this is the completely…I mean basically, what they keep doing is they’re trying, as I said on this show a couple of weeks ago, I think they’re trying to re-inflate a credit bubble. And no matter how many trillions of dollars you pump into that, you can’t do it. People are still talking about it as if the problem is getting the banks to lend. Anyone who’s tried understands that the banks are actually willing to lend at the moment. It’s that people are unwilling to borrow. And I can understand that. If you look at the amount of money that the Obama administration and Congress wants to spend, we are going to have some serious tax hikes six months, a year down the road. That being the case, do you really want to take on new monthly payments for anything? It’s not that institutions aren’t lending. It’s that people quite rightly and quite rationally aren’t borrowing at the moment.

HH: I also was thinking today when he said we needed another trillion for TARP II that today, the first big scandal tying Congress to TARP I came out, the New York Times reporting that Maxine Waters…

MS: Right.

HH: …helped steer $12 million dollars to a bank in which it alleges her husband had equity.

MS: Right, and this is what is horrible about this hideous form of managed capitalism that we’re now getting in this country. There was an interesting typing error over at National Review the other day on the website. Instead of capitalism, they spelled it capitolism, and that’s basically what we’ve got. We’ve got capitolism, in which people like Barney Frank and Maxine Waters are picking the winners and losers. No good is going to come of that. No good is going to come of that. If they’re not actively corrupt, as a lot of the political class is in Washington, then they’re incompetent. But either way, the idea that they can re-calibrate not just the U.S. economy, but also the global economy, I think, is laughable.

HH: Now there has been some push-back on the Obama budget plan, not just among Republicans, but even among more centrist Democrats like Max Baucus and Kent Conrad, et cetera. Do you think they’re starting to sober up, Mark Steyn, that their party could be in serious trouble if they continue down this road?

MS: Yes, I think so. I think essentially, they’re gambling that…I think the administration is gambling, because I don’t think its priority is the economy. Its priorities are these transformational policies on health care, on energy, and on education. And I think they take the view that if things get bad enough, enough people will want to cling to the big security apron strings of a big government nanny, that the bad economy will work in their favor. But I detect a real groundswell of dissatisfaction and anger out there, not among hard-core right-wing people, but among the centrists and moderate who helped spur Obama’s victory in November. It’s pretty clear he’s gone from being Mr. Post-partisan to Mr. Left-wing, big-spending liberal in nothing flat. And I don’t think his numbers are going to be looking so good in six weeks, eight weeks time.

HH: I agree with that. Now let’s turn to some manifestations of this big left-center conflict, to which we are just by-standers. Jim Cramer V. Jon Stewart – have you followed this?

MS: Yeah, and you know, the thing is, everyone wants to lump people together as a trend. Jim Cramer is nobody’s idea of a right-winger. He’s not even anybody’s idea of a centrist, moderate conservative like David Brooks and all these other squishies who were lying on their backs waggling their paws in the air as Obama tickled their tummy a couple of weeks ago. Jim Cramer is someone who is not linked to conservatism of any variety at all, but he sees the way things are going, and there’s going to be a lot more Jim Cramers down the line.

HH: Well, how much push-back, why do you think Jon Stewart is making such a whipping boy of Jim Cramer?

MS: Well, because I think for example, if you’re in show business, a lot of this stuff is irrelevant. If you’re in show business, you’re not like these middle-ranked executives around the country who are getting bumped down to coach because people are saying no business class flying anymore. You’re not already seeing the deterioration in your lifestyle the way ordinary Americans are. And I think the idealistic side of Obama still outranks the economic and administrational incompetence of Obama. And incidentally, even if leaving aside the left-wing economic side of this, he’s not even a good, efficient left-wing, big-spending government. I mean, this, the complaints, for example, of Gus O’Donnell, the senior British civil servant organizing the G-20 summit in London in a few weeks, is that he keeps ringing Washington, and there’s nobody there to pick up the phone. There’s nobody at the United States Treasury.

HH: Yeah.

MS: This is, the joke that’s going around the internet that I saw a couple of hours ago is you know, what’s the difference between Obama and Jesus? Jesus knew how to build a cabinet.

HH: (laughing)

MS: There’s…the operational incompetence, I think, is what’s taken a lot of us…

HH: Well, let’s look at one aspect of that. The short-lived nomination of Chas Freeman to be the head of the Intelligence estimates. What did you make of this? I’ve got Glenn Greenwald of Salon coming on next hour, who’s seeing the Israeli lobby behind every stump here.

MS: Yeah, yeah.

HH: What did you make of this?

MS: Yeah, exactly. I love the way that no matter how we’re out of power, you know, it’s the sinister neocons who still control everything. The Democrats control the House, they control the Senate, they control the White House, but still three or four people with Jewish names are making all the key decisions. It’s not, he didn’t get, his nomination wasn’t scuttled because he was anti-Israel. It’s because he’s pro-Saudi. It’s because he’s on the payroll of the House of Saud. It’s because he’s a propagandist for one of the ugliest and most unlovely regimes that’s done a very good job of buying up just about everything it needs to buy up, and everyone it needs to buy up, in the United States. And because he knew he couldn’t withstand the heat of hearings, he pulled out. Most people, if you read the New York Times, Washington Post, they don’t know anything about the controversy, because those papers being friends of Obama didn’t even report it. But Charles Freeman understood that he couldn’t withstand the heat of hearings, because he’s basically been a press agent for the Saudi royal family, which no self-respecting American should be doing.

HH: Is this the first indication that the Cramer-Stewart and the intramural between, say, Glenn Greewald and Jonathan Chait…I mean, Chait coined Bush hatred. And it makes it, it looks to me like eight years of Republicans intramural fighting is going to be replaced very quickly by eight years of center-left boxing.

MS: Yeah, because I think essentially the left, everyone thought Obama was their man. There were people who thought he was a new Democrat in the Clinton mold. There were people down the Huffington Post-Daily Kos end who thought he was a hard core, big spending liberal. I mean, my sense is that Obama is basically into Obamafication. He’s into, it’s essentially an imperial regime. He’s into what makes Obama look good. So I think both sides of the Democrat coalition are going to be unhappy with him in the years to come, and the rest of us can just sit back and watch them have a go at each other.

HH: 30 seconds, Mark Steyn, I read your column in the new Commentary, The Hunting Of The Denby, I don’t think you’re going to be getting any invitations to the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. But is it worth reading Snark by David Denby?

MS: It isn’t, and it’s interesting. I think this idea of the sort of snarky tone of the internet putdown, I thought was an interesting idea for a book. But in a way, he’s not really a good enough writer to pull it off, and he shares all the prejudices of the drearier, soft left, liberal New York metropolitan writer. So it’s a bit of a disappointment, that book.

HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure,

End of interview.


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