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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

Mark Steyn’s Barrister Wig And Thomas Friedman’s Globaloney Gas Tax

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HH: It’s been such a grim week, such a week of terrible news, that I thought I would make this Happy Thursday. I’ve booked Dave Barry, who’s in the third hour, and Lileks is in the second hour, and of course, Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, is usually good for a laugh. But honest to God, he’s been in a Canadian courtroom all week. I don’t know how we make that funny, Mark Steyn.

MS: No, no, I have. I’ve been in a Canadian courtroom. And I must say, I think I’m over-assimilating with America, because the civilized thing about Canadian courtrooms is that they break every 20 minutes. You know, you arrive in the morning, and you sit down, and then they have, as soon as they’ve done their hello and long live the Queen bit, you do like ten minutes of testimony, and then you break for the morning break. They have more tea intervals than a cricket game. And I found I’ve been in America too long, because I found myself getting impatient with all the tea intervals in the case this time.

HH: Do they wear wigs?

MS: I like America, where you can go like 25, I mean, in America, the testimony is interrupted continuously by objections from opposing counsel. But in Canada, everything is interrupted, all the testimony is interrupted by a tea break every 20 minutes.

HH: But do they wear wigs?

MS: No, and I think that’s where the beginning of the end…in the Caribbean, they still wear wigs, and I’m a great believer, when I do the Michael Mann case down in Washington, I’m going to insist, I don’t care what the judge tells me, they’re going to have to throw me in jail for contempt of court, because I’m going to insist. I’m not even a barrister, but I’m going to wear a barrister’s wig.

HH: Well, what is this case all about? I read the write-up over at, and there’s this crazy guy who’s trying to say he didn’t say that Hamas was a good group when in fact, he said Hamas was a good group. I mean, I can’t follow it. It’s crazy.

MS: Well, it’s basically, not to bore your listeners, Hugh, but in 2008, an excerpt from my book, America Alone, was taken to three Human Rights Commissions in Canada – British Columbia, Ontario and the federal Human Rights Commission. And triple jeopardy, and they lost three times. Now in your great land, it’s three strikes, you’re out. Whereas here, basically, they’re appealing the results of those three lost human rights decisions.

HH: Well, it is like a cricket game then.

MS: So anyone who thinks that writing is ephemeral, I wrote this one cover story for Maclean’s Magazine in October, 2006 and here it is the subject of a court case all over again seven and a half years later. And the appeal of the appeal of the appeal, in thirty years’ time, I’m going to be in a courthouse in the Yukon somewhere on the umpteenth appeal of this case.

HH: It is like a cricket game. It never ends.

MS: No, well, it’s not quite as civilized as cricket, but it’s, as I said, it certainly has as many tea intervals.

HH: Well, people can go and read about that at I have important stuff. First of all, as a future, as a possible future senator, are you worried that the President is tapping your phone the way he’s been tapping current senators’ phones?

MS: Well, no, I think that’s rather heartening that basically the same rules that apply to Angela Merkel are now being applied to, you know, a state representative in North Dakota or whatever. I think that’s, I think in the interest of equality, I think it’s right that the NSA or whoever it is, is now according every minor legislator, including, I certainly hope, the town clerk in my own town in New Hampshire, the same treatment that they accord G-7 heads of government.

HH: I was just thinking about what one might pick up on a tapped Mark Steyn – curling tips, moose recipes? What do you talk about when you think no one is listening, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, you’d pick up, if you tapped my phone line, you pick up our weekly conversation. And then most of the phone calls I make in between that are either to do with dog mushing or old show tunes.

HH: Are you…

MS: They would certainly be, the NSA would automatically assume that was a highly sophisticated code, and drone me immediately, I would hope.

HH: All right, now Bernie Sanders is running for president from the state next door to yours. And I think this ought to encourage you in your finally getting out to the starting line and going for the Senate race. If Bernie can run for president, you can doggone well run for the United States Senate.

MS: Yeah, I don’t entirely, by the way, I have a certain grudging respect for Bernie Sanders, who is the socialist, the nominally independent socialist senator from Vermont. And it would be interesting to see, actually, how far a guy can get running on an openly socialist ticket for the American presidency these days. People would be disturbed to realize that that label might not be the automatic turn off that we once thought it was.

HH: Well, I do have to talk about Putin with you, but I’m going to do it through the lens of Thomas Friedman, who wrote a column yesterday on how we ought to get tough with Putin that contains this paragraph which I would like you to explain to me. Here’s Thomas Friedman in the New York Times yesterday. “It requires going after the twin pillars of Putin’s regime – oil and gas. Just as the oil glut of the 1980s, partly engineered by the Saudis, brought down global oil prices to a level that helped collapse Soviet communism, we could do the same today to Putinism by putting the right long term policies in place. That is by investing in the facilities to liquefy and export our natural gas bounty, provided it is extracted at the highest environmental standards, and making Europe, which gets 30% of its gas from Russia, more dependent on us instead. I’d also raise our gasoline tax, put in place a carbon tax, and a national renewal energy portfolio standard, all of which would also help lower the global oil price..”

MS: Right.

HH: “…and make us stronger with cleaner air, less dependence, and more innovation.” That, Mark Steyn, close quote, is insane.

MS: Yeah, well, it is insane, but he’s the house intellectual of the New York Times, and as always, he wrote his column in the car service taking him to back to the airport from Davos or whatever international conference he was attending. And it bears the usual sort of glib…for a start, this is a country that won’t build the Keystone, let the Keystone Pipeline come through from Canada.

HH: Exactly. Exactly.

MS: How are you going to get all this gas to Europe? Putin’s gas is next door to Europe? How’s he going to get all this great American gas over to Europe? Is he going to put that on a container ship? Is the great gas, a lot of his floating above Thomas Friedman’s column most of the time, is he going to put that gas on a container ship and ship it to Europe? I mean, that’s the sort of facile arrogance of a highly-parochial columnist, that the issue with Ukraine is that Ukraine is like Mexico or Canada to America. It’s a backyard problem. And Friedman, who just fits his usual globaloney generalities to whatever specific topic he’s writing about, doesn’t seem to realize that there’s a real place called the Crimea, where real things are going on, and his generalized thesis that you know, countries with a McDonald’s don’t go to war with each other, or whatever cockamamie thesis it is this week, doesn’t actually apply to the specifics of the situation.

HH: Now I invited him on today, because yesterday, Kristof came on, and he mounted a pretty lame defense of Hillary. But at least he came on. The day before, Peter Baker came on and we had a great conversation. But the idea that our raising our gas tax and putting a carbon tax would somehow cripple Putin is just so other worldly…

MS: Yeah.

HH: It’s like I was asking Kristof, do any of them live in this world? The President today announced on Spanish television that Obamacare’s working great, and the Washington Post, I’ll talk about this with Guy Benson after the break, has revealed that they haven’t gotten to 90 percent of the uninsured.

MS: No, well, but Friedman in that sense would be perfectly qualified to be, say, secretary of State under a President Hillary Clinton, because he already lives like that. He basically is someone who’s invited to give high price speeches around the globe, and he gets into a plane, and he flies off. And while he’s in Amman, he has a meeting with the King Jordan. Shortly after 9/11, he flew into Saudi Arabia, and he had a conversation with Crown Prince Abdullah, now King Abdullah, in which basically he proposed a sort of Palestinian peace plan to Crown Prince Abdullah, and Crown Prince Abdullah flattered him by saying well, what a marvelous plan, Tom. That’s just the plan I was thinking of proposing myself.

HH: You’re making my engineer laugh.

MS: And he flies on, and he doesn’t actually see anything except international airports and princes and prime ministers. And the reality of what’s going on, on the ground and in the Crimea, is nothing to do with the thesis of Thomas Friedman’s next book.

HH: That is exactly right, but you’re making my engineer laugh, Mark Steyn, so I think we’ve got to put you back in the Canadian courtroom for another couple of days. If you’re still funny, we’re going to litigate it out of you, Steyn. We’re going to humble you eventually so that you’ll be qualified to be a senator.

MS: I don’t think so. I’m going to be coming south of the border in my magic barristers wig. I’m going to get to the American justice system, too, Hugh.

HH: Mark Steyn, always a pleasure, litigate on. We’re going to make you dull enough to be a senator., America,

End of interview.


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