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Mark Steyn’s sign you’ve flown the coop

Thursday, June 11, 2009

HH: It’s Thursday and we are lucky. That means we have Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World with us. All of his columns and writings are collected at Mark, welcome, we’ve had three acts of domestic terrorism in two weeks – an anti-abortion fanatic killed someone, an anti-American fanatic killed a military recruiter, and an anti-Semitic fanatic killed a third person. Do you think these three incidents have all received about the same quality and quantity of coverage?

MS: No, I don’t think that is the case. Look, I think these three incidents, in and of themselves, are personal tragedies for the victims. But I’m very dubious about the idea of suddenly saying, as they did over this incident at the Holocaust Museum, that it suddenly justifies the Janet Napolitano report on right wing extremists. In fact, I think it’s rather vulgar to use this particular tragedy to bounce the cheapest of political points out. The fact is whatever this guy was, some 89 year old nut, he’s not typical of anybody. And the idea that he is, is offensive and diminishes the death of the victim, I think, in this case.

HH: There is a story out today over at that the killer, the 89 year old demented nut, had the Weekly Standard on his hit list because of the neocons, and of course, the Jews…

MS: Right.

HH: …which would probably put us somewhere down on that list, Mark, you know, if you got long enough into his list. My question to you is given that background, is it unusual in your thinking that the President’s former spiritual mentor’s tirade about the Jews not letting him talk to the President yesterday has gone unremarked upon?

MS: Yes, I think it is. I think this is the protection that the media almost reflexively, now, extends to persons around the President. If you’re someone, the average person who’s not particularly politically motivated, you glance at the New York Times, you listen to a bit of NPR as you’re driving around, you watch 20 minutes of the evening TV or whatever, but you’re not expressly political, you would have no idea that the man who married the Obamas, the man who was responsible for the religious education of their children, says them Jews, in his phrase, them Jews won’t let him see the President. Likewise, if you read the exhaustive, otherwise exhaustive New York Times transcript of David Letterman’s routine about what a slut Sarah Palin is, you won’t find his amusing statutory rape joke about her 14 year old daughter. Somehow, that got airbrushed out of the New York Times report just as the rank anti-Semitism of one of Barack Obama’s closest friends also got airbrushed out of the picture.

HH: What would the reaction have been if George W. Bush’s longtime mentor, I don’t know, baseball or the oil business or something, had talked about the Jews around George Bush? I mean, it would have been page 1 for weeks.

MS: Yeah, and I think that is just a double standard, and that sadly, the right has to live with. This 89 year old kook, for example, isn’t right wing in any meaningful sense of the word. Anti-Semitism, these days, by the way, is a hallmark of the left, by and large. Jeremiah Wright is a very good example of that. The people who are obsessed about the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, neocons, all these sinister Jews around the President, are not by and large these days on the right, but on the left. They’re highly, they’re well represented on American campuses. But the fact is that the establishment media in this country is enormously protective of anything that might give the impression that the people surrounding the President are not quite as nice and wholesome and compassionate and caring as you’ve been led to believe.

HH: There’s also a sort of conspiracy of silence, not active, they’re not sending each other memos, they’re just not covering it, about the nature of the proposed health care restructuring. It is radical, Mark Steyn. Today in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove, who will join us tomorrow, talks about a member of Congress who said to him that if they do not stop this, we won’t be able to undo the damage. Karl goes on to write that America is on the way to becoming a European style welfare state if this public option health insurance program passes. But I don’t think, I’ll bet you 10% of Americans understand what the public option is. They have no idea that it’s the federalization…

MS: Yeah, and it’s really, and actually it reflects very poorly on the public, because you don’t have to go obscure European countries you can barely find on the map. You go north, you don’t in fact have to even go north of the border. If you go to any American hospital, you will find enough Canadian doctors, enough Canadian nurses, and enough Canadian patients who can’t get treatment in their own country who can tell you about what public health care is like. There’s a story in Le Journal de Montreal yesterday that said incontinent Quebecers, with serious incontinence problems, that’s people who have to get up to go to the bathroom 12 times per night, have to wait three years for treatment. That’s 12 times a night, 365 times a year, for three years for a routine half-hour procedure for which in the entire province of Quebec, only two urologists will perform it, can perform it. Now under the present system, those incontinent Quebecers can drive a couple of hours south and go to Fletcher Allen hospital in Vermont, or Dartmouth-Hitchcock in New Hampshire, and write a check. The minute that America has the wait lists and the wait times, and the restricted access to health care, which is all Obama means when he talks about controlling costs. Why is it that socialized systems control costs? Because they restrict access. And it’s easy to do that. If you’re only servicing a certain number of patients, half the number of patients you would be in a free market, obviously you can control costs. This is really, I think, a bridge that if America crosses it, it will be very hard ever to get back.

HH: The American Medical Association finally got off of the sofa yesterday and sent sort of a mild-mannered written report to a Senate committee saying we don’t like the public option much. I think doctors across the United States are outraged at their alleged representative in Washington, D.C., Mark Steyn. I don’t know, I know they’re out there, I know there are socialists doctors and doctors who are big liberals who want to use the public option, but my guess is that at least 75% of doctors hate what is coming, and yet the AMA has been on the sidelines.

MS: Yes, and in fact, that’s always the way. If you looked at when socialized health care was introduced in Canada in the 1960s, the majority of doctors opposed it. If you look at in Britain when the national health service was introduced in the late 1940s, the majority of doctors opposed it. What happens is they leave it to too late to speak up. And what happens is that once it starts, medicine ceases to be an attractive middle class profession. And you see in extreme circumstances what happened at Glasgow Airport when those three British Muslim doctors attempted to blow up Glasgow Airport. People don’t understand why somebody, why doctors want to go around being suicide bombers. Well, one reason is that in under a socialized system, what happens, one of the first things that happens is that medicine ceases to be as attractive a middle class profession as it was. So doctors would be acting in their own best interest if they were to stop this now.

HH: Mark Steyn, today the United States Congress empowered the FDA to broadly regulate tobacco. And I’m laughing. The world’s on fire, we’re spending trillions of dollars, we’ve got wars in the Middle East, we’ve got the Iranian elections today, and the United States Congress summons up the courage to regulate tobacco. It’s mindless what they’re doing.

MS: Well, it isn’t mindless, actually. It’s, for a start, it’s stupid. This country’s over-regulated. Its business environment is especially over-regulated in ways that if you’re a twerp like John Kerry, who’s never run anything in his life except for the twenty minutes he was a sleeping partner in a donut stand in Boston, it doesn’t seem a big deal to impose ever more regulations on this, and ever more regulations on that, every more regulations on every aspect of American life. But this constant federalization of every single routine activity will in the end destroy this country. It’s incremental soft-despotism, and it is entirely at odds with the animating principle of this society.

HH: About a minute and a half, Mark, the Iranian people vote today. It will probably be some time until we know the results. Does it matter, in your view, whether the “reformer” wins or whether Ahmadinejad is returned?

MS: Well, if you’re talking in reference to the nuclear program, I don’t think it does. I think Iran as a nuclear power, and particularly Iran as an aggressive nuclear power is essentially a bipartisan issue. It’s the equivalent of motherhood and apple pie in Iranian politics. It’s hard to find anyone who will admit to being opposed to it. The last time around, Rafsanjani, who ran against Ahmadinejad and is supposed to be one of these famous Iranian moderates, said that Israel was one of the worst excrescences in the world, but which could be vomited out of the world with one, single Muslim bomb. That’s the voice of a so-called moderate in Iranian politics. So I think in the big sphere of things, it’s not about Ahmadinejad. It’s about a broader problem with the Iranian regime.

HH: Last question, is there any difference between the Rafsanjani ravings about Israel being vomited out and the nutter anti-Semite who shot the guard yesterday? It’s all anti-Semitism. It’s this strange, deeply virulent hatred.

MS: Yes, and in a sense, I think anti-Semitism is always the first clue that somebody’s flown the coop. You know the interesting thing about, obviously anti-Semitism in Hitler’s case and the Nazis’ case, didn’t work out great for the Jews. But it didn’t work out great for the Germans, either. And it in a sense blinded the German government to the realities of the world. And that’s never a smart move. If you’re over-invested in anti-Semitism, generally it’s a sign you’ve flown the coop.

HH: Mark Steyn from, Columnist To the World, thank you, Mark.

End of interview.

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