HH: This is Hugh Hewitt on a Thursday. That means we begin this hour with Mark Steyn, Columnist To the World. You can read all of Mark’s work at www.steynonline.com. Mark, it’s not only Thursday, it’s Masters Thursday, and I haven’t talked to you about Tiger Woods yet. What do you make of all of this hoopla surrounding the Masters and his return to golf?
MS: Well, you know, I hoped he was going to go away for a long time. But that is not the nature of American life. Shame gets shorter and shorter. Do you remember when Jesse Jackson, I think this was in 2001, got into a little bit of trouble with his love child, and announced he was retiring from public life, and he came back, I think it was nine days later, which I believe remains the all-time record.
HH: That is a record, yes.
MS: …of total retirement from public life. And I was hoping that you know, Tiger Woods was going to go away for a little bit longer than he did, because it’s not, you know, to me, it’s not just about playing golf. I take the view that celebrities are not normal people, that they get offered opportunities that a lot of us would find very hard to resist. But when they’re on the scale of what Tiger Woods did, then they’re kind of pathological, and it’s slightly weird to then we expected just to accept him as a phenomenal sports player a couple of weeks later. So I view this with some disquiet.
HH: Any precedent for this kind of fall, and this kind of rapid return? Jesse Jackson doesn’t qualify in my book.
MS: No, Jesse Jackson doesn’t qualify, because he’s shameless.
MS: But once upon a time, it only used to be a handful of people like Jesse Jackson who were shameless. And now, everybody is, and it’s interesting to me. Maggie Gallagher, my colleague over at National Review, was proposing recently that people start, that the states, in effect, start enforcing laws against adultery, because she’d noticed that on the internet, people are bragging about adultery now. And I don’t, I really think we have too many laws as it is. And I don’t think that is the answer. One of the problems with a country of laws, that doesn’t have any kind of moral compass, is that eventually, you just need millions of laws. And no matter how many laws you have, it’s never enough. I mean, for example, this guy who goes around saying God hates fags, and protesting at people’s funerals…
HH: Fred Phelps…
MS: You know this guy? Yeah, Phelps. And people propose, well maybe, there ought to be a law saying oh, you’re only allowed to stand within so many feet of the cemetery or something like that. That’s not the kind of law we need. You know, I would be much happier if, with a world in which you know, people who start going around doing stuff like that, they’re in danger of just getting socked in the jaw, because I actually think that’s healthier for society than the micro-legalistic form of society. I think we have too many laws, and in the end, laws can only reflect a society’s moral compass. So when a society has no moral compass, then it really doesn’t matter how many laws you have, because it’s never enough.
HH: Now I have to switch, on the subject of shameless, to Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida, who at a town hall meeting said, and I quote, “We actually have not required in this Obamacare law that you carry health insurance.” Her spokesman later explained that was accurate. You have a choice of insuring yourself with affordable coverage, or paying an assessment that will off-set the burden you place on insured Americans and taxpayers by not being insured. Is that shameless, Mark Steyn?
MS: Yes, exactly, because that’s like saying we haven’t passed a law saying you can’t murder people. You have the choice between murdering people, or going to the electric chair. So she’s talking nonsense here. I mean, what is offensive about this is that the government of the United States is telling individuals that if you don’t make health care arrangements that meet with their approval, you will be fined, and you will have your property confiscated by the IRS. And they’ve had the biggest expansion in the number of IRS agents since the Second World War to cope with this. They’re adding sixteen and a half thousand agents just to enforce the punitive provisions of the so-called health care bill. They’re not adding sixteen and a half extra nurses or extra doctors. But they are adding sixteen and a half thousand extra IRS agents, which tells you a lot about this bill.
HH: Now I also have to bring up the delicious irony that came across my desk today. Asian-American Democrats are criticizing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for favoring a white former Congressman from Hawaii over the Asian-American state senate president in a hotly contested special election to represent a majority of a minority Hawaiian district. I had the Republican challenger, Charles Djou on yesterday, www.djou.com, but what do you make of this, Mark Steyn? The Democrats divided, and they’re going with the old, white guy.
MS: Yeah, I know. It’s rather heartening in a way.
HH: Yes, it is.
MS: Frank Rich wrote a ridiculous column, even by his own impressive standards, a couple of weeks ago…
MS: …saying that the only reason guys like me and you oppose Obamacare is because we’re uncomfortable with a black president and a female Speaker, and a wise Latina on the Supreme Court, and gay Barney Frank as a powerful Congressional committee chairman. So it’s good to know that the Democrats are now finding one old, heterosexual, white guy that we can be opposed to as well.
MS: I love it when identity politics starts devouring itself. And I say bring it on.
HH: It is…
MS: I’m tired of identity politics, and I’d rather, you know, I’m interested in individual liberty and rights for individuals. And I can’t stand this kind of stamp collector’s view of diversity, that a modern political movement only counts if it’s got one of everything.
HH: Now Mark, I have to go to something that’s obscure, but very important. I covered it on the blog today, I’m going to cover it in the next segment. It’s a Washington Post story today on Page A-4, headline, “FDA Says Studies On Triclosan Used In Sanitizers And Soap Raise Concerns.” And it goes on to chart that Ed Markey and a bunch of other busybodies are urging the FDA to ban this ubiquitous substance. It’s everywhere, from every product that comes in contact with children or with food preparation. It’s the politics of fear that drove the ridiculous lead statute of 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act. And here it is again, and what it empowers is government to grow and grow and grow.
MS: Right, and it gets back to the point I made, I think it was last week or the week before, that a reader from India wrote to me who said well, at least in old command and control economies like the Soviet Union, they made stuff.
MS: They made your car. Here, they just regulate everything. And the interesting thing is, I would genuinely be interested to know what is the risk here of this stuff, because for example, a woman in New South Wales, down in Australia, was killed, I think it was yesterday or the day before, go-karting in a burka, a Muslim woman go-karting in a burka. The burka got caught, and she died, a horrible, hideous, painful, violent death. Would it be appropriate for the United States government to put health warnings on burkas, and regulate the burka? No, they’d never do that, because that would cause them political problems. But itsy bitsy stuff like this, the micro-regulation of American life, is destroying American energy. We are overregulated, and they think they can do it with impunity. But it adds more paperwork to every single, itsy bitsy little business across this land. And eventually, at a certain point, it’s just not worth it.
HH: Also today, federal inspectors are conducting fewer reviews of food manufacturing plants, with many facilities going more than five years without being checked, a government investigator said today. Again, more politics of fear that results, Mark Steyn, in the expansion of government.
MS: Right, and that’s what all these things have in common. If you’re in the private sector today, you’re a fool. You’re much better to be in the area of the public sector that just regulates the private sector. You know, in your state of California, where you have these things like the Bureau of Home Furnishings, it should not be possible for a government agency outside the wildest satire to have a name like the Bureau of Home Furnishings. But we have created a world now, I mean, apart from anything else, I think it creates the illusion that government can guarantee your safety. I don’t think government can. I think you should be capable of reaching your own decisions on whether this particular item of apparel will be one that you can wear safely. And I think this idea that government can micro-regulate every aspect of your life is absolutely incompatible with liberty. And that’s why certain things, like health care and the environment, health care allows them to regulate, in the end, your diet.
MS: Health care allows them to do, effectively to say, well, you know, if you get sick, the government, one way or another, has to pick up the tab for it, so it gives us the right to regulate what you eat. You cannot be free at this level of regulation.
HH: Last subject, Mark Steyn. I quote from Wired. “A federal appeals court all but told the FCC Tuesday that it has no power to regulate the internet.” And today at Business Week comes this story. “The Federal Communications Commission said it would start writing rules and begin regulatory proceedings to promote fast internet services two days after a court undermined the agency’s authority to regulate the web.” We are putting the new national broadband plan into action, said FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski. The court decision earlier this week does not change our broadband policy goals or the ultimate authority of the FCC to achieve those goals. In other words, pound sand, federal courts, we’re going to regulate.
MS: Yeah, yeah, and that’s interesting to me. I think it was Nancy Pelosi who said a couple of years ago, apropos some Supreme Court decision or other, that the Supreme Court is sort of like God. I think that’s what…I don’t happen to agree with that, by the way, but she said it, not me. And this idea that once the Court has ruled, that’s it. In this case, what you see is a bureaucracy that is basically on its own, and saying we don’t care what the court says, we’re just going to grow like topsy, and regulate everything in it.
HH: Yeah, and God is dead. Mark Steyn, thank you, www.steynonline.com.
End of interview.