"I don’t mind being the token right-wing madman at The Irish Times."

Mark Steyn is a Canadian writer, who comments on current affairs and popular culture with insight and biting wit. His articles can be found in The Irish Times, The Spectator, The Daily Telegraph and The Jerusalem Post. I first came across Mark in Canada's The National Post, but he has subsequently left that publication because of their editorial policy. His website SteynOnline hosts his latest articles and an archive of classics.
I've renamed this page to 'Quotable Barbs' as that's the title used on the link to here from Mark's website - seems only fair as all quotes come via that site :)

"If Bush goes, I go," promised the confident Spectator columnist Mark Steyn last week, becoming that rarest of thing — a pundit prepared to stick his neck out in what many described as a race too close to call.
        - Dominic Timms, "The Guardian"

"Are 'Irish Times' readers in mourning? Mark Steyn has an unrivalled ability to get under the skin of archetypal Times readers, but Steyn had promised not to write again for the paper if his predictions of a Republican victory on November 2 proved unfounded. Now they have four more years not just of their nemesis, Dubya, but of the red-in-tooth-and-claw Steyn as well. Which one they consider the worst prospect, who knows."
        - Eilis O'Hanlon, in Ireland's "Sunday Independent"

"If Steyn is even remotely right in his predictions, two bad things will happen. First, he will become even more insufferable than he is now..."
        - David McKie, "The Guardian"

"The sun never sets on Mark Steyn: He's like Superman — he's everywhere he needs to be."
        - Denis Boyles, on the range on Steyn's worldwide columns, "National Review"

"The arrogance of Mark Steyn knows no bounds."
        - Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Ambassador to Britain

"I don’t even understand this apology. You know, you do something wrong, you apologize. 'The Ottawa Citizen and Southam News wish to apologize for our apology to Mark Steyn, Steyn published October 22nd. In correcting the incorrect statements about Mr. Steyn, published October 15th, we incorrectly published the incorrect correction. We accept and regret that our original regrets were unacceptable, and we apologize to Mr. Steyn for any previous distress caused by our previous apology.' Think a lawyer wrote that?"
        - Jay Leno, "The Tonight Show"

The aim of a large swathe of the left is not to win the debate but to get it cancelled before it starts. You can do that in any number of ways -- busting up campus appearances by conservatives, "hate crimes" laws, Canada's ghastly human-rights commissions, the more "enlightened" court judgments, the EU's recent decision to criminalize "xenophobia," or merely, as The New York Times does, by declaring your side of every issue to be the "moderate" and "nonideological" position.
        - Mark Steyn

The eventual verdict is largely irrelevant: The process is the punishment. The trick is not to attract the attentions of the "human rights" enforcers.
        - Mark, on his dealings with the grotesque Human Rights Commissions in Canada

>> Jump To: America ~ Europe ~ Global ~ Popular Culture ~ Wit

>> More Quotes On: Iraq & War on Terror ~ Multiculturalism


The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist.
Too Christian, too Godless, too isolationist, too imperialist, too seductive, too cretinous, America is George Orwell's Room 101: whatever your bugbear, you will find it therein - for the Continentals, excessive religiosity; for the Muslims, excessive decadence; for Harold Pinter, excessively bleeding rectums.
       - from "The Daily Telegraph"

"Two solitudes" is a term popularized by a Hugh MacLennan novel set in Montreal and, though the phrase originates (if memory serves) with Rilke, it came to sum up the relationship between the English and French in Canada. David Warren believes the concept has headed south:
"In the United States, especially in the present election, we get glimpses of two political solitudes that have been created not by any plausible socio-economic division within society, nor by any deep division between different ethnic tribes, but tautologically by the notion of "two solitudes" itself. The nation is divided, roughly half-and-half, between people who instinctively resent the Nanny State, and those who instinctively long for its ministrations. And every kind of specious racial, economic, cultural and class division has been thrown into the mix to add to its toxicity... Only in America are they so equally balanced. Elsewhere in the West, the true believers in the Nanny State have long since prevailed. Democrats and Republicans have become two solitudes, and so, the result of the election will be ugly, no matter which side wins."
        - From "National Review"

Life is great, this is a terrific country, with unparalleled economic opportunities. To be sure, it's a tougher break if you have the misfortune to be the victim of one of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs or a decrepit inner-city grade school with a higher per-student budget than the wealthiest parts of Switzerland. But even so, to be born a U.S. citizen is, as Cecil Rhodes once said of England, to win first prize in the lottery of life.
        - from "The OC Register"

For everyone but America the free world is mostly a free ride.
        - from "The Spectator"

The only think that enables Belgium to be Belgium and Norway to be Norway and Britain to be Britain is the fact that America's America.
        - from "Face Of The Tiger"

A cold civil war
        - Mark, borrowing from William Gibson to describe the Democrat-Republican conflict

Prominent Democrats seem to have great difficulty getting even the well-known bits (of religion) right. Christmas, according to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1999, is when those in that particular faith tradition celebrate "the birth of a homeless child." Or, as Al Gore put it in 1997, "Two thousand years ago, a homeless woman gave birth to a homeless child." For Pete's sake, they weren't homeless — they couldn't get a hotel room. They had to sleep in the stable only because Dad had to schlep halfway across the country to pay his taxes in the town of his birth, which sounds like the kind of cockamamie bureaucratic nightmare only a blue state could cook up. Except that in Massachusetts, it's no doubt illegal to rent out your stable without applying for a Livestock Shelter Change of Use Permit plus a Temporary Maternity Ward for Non-Insured Transients License, so Mary would have been giving birth under a bridge on I-95.
        - from "Turning Whine Into Holy Water" in "National Review"

If Bush is too dumb to be President, how dumb do you have to be to be consistently outwitted by him?
        - after Republicans win the mid-term elections

The largest source of imported energy for the United States is the Province of Alberta. Indeed, whenever I'm asked how America can lessen its dependence on foreign oil, I say it's simple: annex Alberta. The Albertans would be up for it.
        - from "The Spectator"

Al’s sneering disdain for Dubya in the first debate isn’t just personal distaste but emblematic of his arrogance in government: We’ll give you tax credits: but only if you live your life the way we say, from cradle to grave, from pre-school child care to seniors’ health plans.
        - from "The Chicago Sun Times"

"America learned the hard way: it's the world of September 10th that's really crazy."
        - "A Hopeful Ending", from "Face of the Tiger"

"I have been watching George W Bush for five or six years now and it pretty much goes the same every time. He decides on his goal (tax cuts, missile defence, re-taking the Senate), the received opinion says it's never gonna happen, and somehow by the end of the day the chips have all fallen his way."
        - from "The Sunday Telegraph"

"In the wake of Democrat accusations that the Bush tax cut would go to 'the richest one per cent', Time magazine asked poll respondents whether they themselves were in the top one per cent: 19% said they were, another 20% expected to be someday."
        - from "The National Post"

It could be that lower voter turnout in the U.S. is nothing more than a reflection that politicians have less control over you than in Canada or Europe: if the state is your employer, your doctor and your nanny (as in much of the rest of the developed world), your life is perforce more "political."
        - from "MacLeans Magazine"

"R is for Republicans: As some of them began to realise during the ever leftward drift of the Gore campaign, Republicans will never get a better Democrat in the White House than Bill Clinton. His cheerleaders in the press gleefully hailed him as a genius: according to them, he stole all the GOP's most popular policies and then tagged 'em as extremists for sticking with the handful he hadn't bothered purloining. This argument would have more merit applied to Tony Blair or Canada's Jean Chretien, both of whom ran in Tory clothes and came close to demolishing their countries' respective Conservative parties. But the funny thing about Bill Clinton is that his move to the centre came without any political benefits for his party: everywhere you look - the state legislatures, the House, the Senate - there are now far more Republicans than there were in 1992. Clinton's stewardship of the Democratic party was great for Clinton, lousy for Democrats. As in his sex life, there was no reciprocity."
        - An A to Z of the Reagan Years, "The Spectator"

I think if the Republican Party want to reduce their base to undetectable levels, I think it would be a great idea to send Trent Lott on a nationwide tour of country Republican parties.
        - describing the Republican Senator on the "Hugh Hewitt Show"

The Republicans agree with Ted Kennedy. That’s the official version of bipartisanship in the United States Senate.
        - during the 2007 immigration debate on the "Hugh Hewitt Show"

Joe Klein's book is full of telling anecdotes. He's partial to Nixonian snarling, impressed at the way Roger Ailes (latterly the presiding genius at Fox) liked to let anti-Vietnam protesters into GOP campaign events to bait Tricky Dick because it made for better TV when Nixon took them on and demolished them.
        - reviewing "Politics Lost" in "Macleans Magazine"

If you want a line that sums up your party's problem, it's this: "It's important to know what the enemy is doing." You apply that sentiment to me and Hugh Hewitt. We apply it to Saddam and Kim Jong-Il and al-Qa'eda. That's the difference.
        - responding to a mailbox email from a Democrat

America, almost in inverse proportion to its economic and military might, is culturally isolated. I know, I know — you've read a thousand articles about America's "cultural dominance." And that's fine if you mean you can fly around the world and eat at McDonald's, dress at The Gap, listen to Britney Spears, and go see Charlie's Angels 3 pretty much anywhere on the planet. But so what? On the things that matter — which, no disrespect, Miss Spears doesn't — the gap between America and the rest of the world is wider than ever. If you define "cultural dominance" as cheeseburgers, America rules. But in the broader cultural sense, it's a taste most of the world declines to pick up.
America garrisons not rebellious colonies but sovereign allies, so they can spend their tax revenues on luxuriant welfare programs rather than tanks and aircraft carriers and thereby exacerbate further the differences between America and the rest of the free world. Real Americans, it seems, don't have an imperialist bone in their body.
        - from "Hamburgers Yes, Federalism No" in "The Jerusalem Post"

In his address to Congress in 2003, Tony Blair said, “As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible but, in fact, it is transient. The question is: What do you leave behind?”
Britain left behind the first global language; the legal system of a quarter of the world’s nations; three-sevenths of the G7 major economies; 12 of the 25 jurisdictions with the highest GDP per capita; the four wealthiest countries with large populations (over 20 million); the key regional players in almost every corner of the globe, from South Africa to India to Australia; the least worst part of China... The United States, by contrast, is the first non-imperial superpower. At the dawn of the American moment in 1945, it chose to project itself not in traditional great-power ways but by creating the UN and other transnational institutions in which it consciously diminished its own voice and artificially inflated everybody else’s. Over time, all these American-created, American-funded transnational institutions  became explicitly anti-American, to the point where it seems entirely routine for the representative of a genocidal regime in Sudan to be elected to the UN “human rights” council and announce from his plush Manhattan office that he wants to make Guantanamo Bay the main focus of his term.
America garrisons not distant ramshackle colonies but its wealthiest allies – Germany and Japan – to the point where almost every other western nation now budgets for an ever more minimal, perfunctory military, entirely confident that US defense welfare is a permanent feature of life. Troops from India, the dominions and the colonies provided a third of Britain’s military manpower in the First World War, and half in the Second. By comparison, America heads a military alliance of non-military allies in which it expends vast amounts of diplomatic energy trying to persuade the world’s richest countries to cough up a token detachment of non-combat troops to man the photocopier back at barracks while the Third Infantry Division slogs up into the mountains to do all the fighting. And, while one can admire the antipathy to empire, harder to explain is the reluctance of America to export its founding ideas. Dozens of new nations have come into being since 1945, a lot of them with the aid of American blood or treasure, and yet not one was encouraged to adopt a US model of government. If England is the mother of parliaments, America is a wealthy spinster with no urge to start dating...  I do worry about whether America’s disinclination to sell the world its own best ideas has led to some of the world’s very worst ideas coming home to roost. Individual freedom is on the skids everywhere. Britons and Canadians fought tyranny abroad only to enter the 21st century enthusiastically embracing incrementally the control-freak caprices and micro-regulatory regimes of their old enemies. The world could use a bold standard-bearer for liberty. If not America, who?
        - National Review

If you lived in Poland in the 1930s, you weren't worried about the Soviets' taste in soft drinks or sentimental Third Reich pop culture. If Washington were a conventional great power, the intellectual class would be arguing that the United States is a threat to France or India or Chad or some such. But because it's the world's first nonimperial superpower the world has had to concoct a thesis that America is a threat not merely to this or that nation state but to the entire planet, and not because of conventional great-power designs but because — even scarier — of its "consumption," its very way of life. Those Cokes and cheeseburgers detested by discriminating London novelists are devastating the planet in ways that straightforward genocidal conquerors like Hitler and Stalin could only have dreamed of. The construct of this fantasy is very revealing about how unthreatening America is.
        - from "The OC Register"

There seems to be a genuine dispute about her condition — between those on her husband's side, who say she has ''no consciousness,'' and those on her parents' side, who say she is capable of basic, childlike reactions. If the latter are correct, ending her life is an act of murder. If the former are correct, what difference does it make? If she feels nothing — if there's no there there — she has no misery to be put out of. That being so, why not err in favor of the non-irreversible option?
The here's-your-shroud-and-what's-your-hurry crowd say, ah, yes, but you uptight conservatives are always boring on about the sanctity of marriage, and this is what her husband wants, and he's legally the next of kin. Michael Schiavo is living in a common-law relationship with another woman, by whom he has fathered children. I make no judgment on that. Who of us can say how we would react in his circumstances? Maybe I'd pull my hat down over my face and slink off to the cathouse on the other side of town once a week. Maybe I'd embark on a discreet companionship with a lonely widow. But if I take on a new wife (in all but name) and make a new family, I would think it not unreasonable to forfeit any right of life or death over my previous wife.
        - commenting on the Terry Schiavo case in the "Chicago Sun Times"

I’m the least anti-American non-American on the planet, but I think the federal justice system is a terrible system to witness close up... in this case, it’s about the criminalization of business. You’re undermining two of the key props of civilized society, capitalism and democracy, by thinking that every issue can be legalized. That’s the great fault in American society today.
        - Mark, about the Conrad Black trail, on the Hugh Hewitt Show

I think we have a problem in our culture not with "realistic weapons" but with being realistic about reality... Virginia Tech, remember, was a "gun-free zone," formally and proudly designated as such by the college administration. Yet the killer kept his guns and ammo on the campus. It was a "gun-free zone" except for those belonging to the guy who wanted to kill everybody... The administration has created a "Gun-Free School Zone." Or, to be more accurate, they've created a sign that says "Gun-Free School Zone." And, like a loopy medieval sultan, they thought that simply declaring it to be so would make it so. The "gun-free zone" turned out to be a fraud -- not just because there were at least two guns on the campus last Monday, but in the more important sense that the college was promoting to its students a profoundly deluded view of the world.
        - Mark Steyn, "Chicago Sun Times"

The West disputes not America's positions so much as its right to have positions. To do so is 'unilateralist' - which is, when you think about it, just another word for 'independent'.
        - from "Independence" in "Face of the Tiger"

Bush is apparently no longer the citizen-president of a functioning republic, but a 21st century King Canute expected to go sit by the shore and repel the waters as they attempt to make landfall.
        - writing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

I think the Democrats for years now have made the mistake of, as they say in English soccer, playing the man, not the ball. And so, they're very good at actually practicing the politics of personal destruction on various Congressional functionaries that most of the American people haven't heard of. And they get rid of the guy, and some other guy nobody's ever heard of takes over, and life goes on, and the ideas, which is what's important about conservatism, those ideas stay strong.
        - from an interview with Hugh Hewitt

Obama’s a very self-absorbed guy, and I don’t think he actually thinks about the wider world, except in terms of his place in it, like this extraordinary demand that the Germans found so offensive, that this man, who just happens to be a candidate, he’s not a head of state yet, or anything, demanding to be allowed to give a speech at the Brandenburg Gate, which is like someone, you know, which is like a German candidate for chancellor demanding to give a speech on the Washington Mall. I mean, this is simply a man who sees the entire world as a great supporting cast in the Barack Obama show. His self-absorption and narcissism is incredible.
        - on the Hugh Hewitt Show

"One of the principal characteristics of the elite left — Arianna Huffington, Barbra Streisand, John Kerry — is that they need the private jets and big gas-guzzlers but you can get by fine riding the bus."

"The flu crisis isn’t a failure of the market, it’s a failure of the government’s attempts to rig the market."


Oh yes, the most hated man in the world has become the first President since 1988 to win over 50 per cent of the popular vote. In other words, it’s the perfect hat trick: a Republican President, a Republican Senate and a Republican House have been re-elected for the first time since President McKinley and the GOP Congress of 1900.
        - in "The Spectator"

Happily, The Guardian, the fever chart of the British Left, decided to arrange a controlled experiment in the effectiveness of the Bush-hating strategy. They targeted the voters of Clark County, Ohio, one of the swingiest counties in a critical swing state, by getting Guardian readers to send them letters explaining why they shouldn't vote for Bush. Antonia Fraser, John Le Carre and other celebrated Guardianistas put pen to paper and marshalled their arguments... In 2000, Clark County went narrowly for Al Gore. On Tuesday, it went decisively for Bush. The local Republican chairman claimed that Fraser and co had done a grand job of rallying the county's Bush voters and getting them to the poll. Thank you, Guardian lefties! Had they launched Operation Massachusetts, Kerry would have lost his own state.
        - from "Bush Hatred Flops Big" in "The Australian"

Forty five per cent of Hispanics voted for the President, as did 25 per cent of Jews, and 23 per cent of gays. And this coalition of common-or-garden rednecks, Hispanic rednecks, sinister Zionist rednecks, and lesbian rednecks who enjoy hitting on their gay-loathin' sisters expanded its share of the vote across the entire country - not just in the Bush states but in the Kerry states, too... In Britain and Europe, there seem to be two principal strains of Bush-loathing. First, the guys who say, if you disagree with me, you must be an idiot - as in the Mirror headline "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" Second, the guys who say, if you disagree with me, you must be a Nazi.
        - from "It Wasn't Just Rednecks Who Voted For Bush", in "The Telegraph"

His vote against the first Gulf War was, he says, a sign of his support for the first Gulf War. Whereas his vote in favor of the Iraq war was a sign of his opposition to the Iraq war. And his vote against funding America's troops in Iraq is a sign of his support for America's men and women in uniform. On the same principle, I think the best way voters this November can demonstrate their support for John Kerry is by voting against him.
        - from "Kerry still can't get his Stories Straight", "The Chicago Sun Times"

Q: How many John Kerrys does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: At least four. One to unscrew the old lightbulb. One to simultaneously announce his courageous commitment to replacing the old bulb. One to vote against funding the new light bulb. And one to denounce George W. Bush and America's Benedict Arnold CEOs for leaving everyone in the dark.
        - from "Kerry still can't get his Stories Straight", "The Chicago Sun Times"

When John Kerry says he supports the Kyoto Treaty even though he voted for a bill that declared the United States would never ever ratify it, that doesn't mean he's a 'liar', it just means that, well, to be honest, I haven't a clue what it means... I wouldn't call Sen. Kerry a liar. But I did get the vague feeling in the following exchange that, if it had gone on a minute or two longer, the candidate's nose would have cracked my TV screen, extended across the coffee table and pinned me to the wall.
        - from "No lie: Kerry's just a wannabe", "The Chicago Sun Times"

One reason they’ve been in decline for a decade is that, on all kinds of matters, they’re in thrall to unrepresentative interest groups — to the radical feminist lobby on abortion, to the teachers’ unions on education, to the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton ethnic-grievancemongers on black issues. These groups effectively exercise a veto over any serious thinking on the relevant issue. Since the Afghan campaign, the party has allowed a new grouping — the Michael Moore crowd, MoveOn.org, the Hollywood Left — to swell into a veto on any serious thinking about war and national security.
        - on the fortunes of the Democratic Party, "The Spectator"

Serious Democrats need to confront the intellectual emptiness of their party, which Kerry's campaign embodies all too well. The Dems got a full tank from FDR, a top-up in the Civil Rights era, and they've been running on fumes for 30 years.
        - in "The Chicago Sun Times"

The G7 comprises the world's major industrial democracies. Aside from America, there are six other countries. Three - the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan - have troops in Iraq. Three - France, Germany and Canada - do not. So a majority of G7 nations are members of this 'fraudulent coalition'. Eleven of the 19 NATO members have contributed troops to the fraudulent coalition'. Thirteen of the 25 members of the newly enlarged European Union have forces serving in the 'fraudulent coalition'.
So, when John Kerry pledges to rebuild America's international relationships, what he means is that he disagrees with the majority of G-7 governments, NATO governments, European governments and key regional players in Asia and the Pacific, as well as the people of Iraq. On the other hand, Kerry's position has the support of a majority of the Arab League.
        - from "The Chicago Sun Times"

After the vice presidential debate, it was said by many on the right that Dick Cheney came over as the grown-up and John Edwards as the callow youth. But that goes for the audience too. Cheney treated the American people as grown-ups, Edwards condescended to the electorate as a nation of coatless girls. He's wrong, I hope.
        - from "The Chicago Sun Times"


"The dumbest secession movement in the world... the world's most pointless secession movement: They want to leave Canada in order to set up a country that looks exactly the same — confiscatory taxation, moribund health service, no mail service on weekends."
        - Mark's assessment of Quebec's desire for independence

Unlike Britain but like North Korea, in Her Majesty's northern Dominion the public health system is such an article of faith that no private hospitals are permitted: Canada’s private health care system is called 'America'.
        - from a review of "The Barbarian Invasions"

The real story of the British Empire was here in Newfoundland, where, as in dozens of other equally unpromising territories around the globe, a settlement had become a colony and then a country, built on the foundations of English common law and parliamentary democracy. The British Empire didn’t 'decline' or 'fall'; it evolved - as exemplified by the curious spectacle of thousands of free-born citizens cheering a non-resident head of state who deigns to drop in on them for a few days now and then.
        - from Mark's Canada Day column for "New Criterion" in 1997

On closer inspection – which not a lot of guilt-ridden liberals could be bothered giving it – "cultural genocide" turned out to involve not genocide in the Sudanese, Rwandan or Holocaust meaning of the word but in the sense that generations of Canadian natives had been forced to learn about Queen Victoria, Shakespeare, Magna Carta, Sir Isaac Newton, etc. In other words, the kind of stuff which, back in the day when Lord Macaulay was writing his famous memo to Her Majesty’s Government on education for (east) Indians, it was felt that everyone needed to know in order to be able to function in the modern world. The (east) Indians still feel like this, which is why when you call up for tech support you wind up talking to Suresh or Rajiv...
When you isolate people from the system that’s created the most prosperous, healthiest and longest-living communities in human history, when you insulate them from the impulses that drive most of us – to build a home, raise our children, live full lives – the result is the government-funded human landfill that is Indian Affairs. Natuashish is a plantation with the government as absentee landlord, but the absence of work makes it, in fact, far more destructive than the cotton fields of Virginia ever were. How many more generations of the most lavishly endowed underclass on the planet have to be destroyed in the name of Canadian "caring"? We need to blow up Indian Affairs and end the compassionate apartheid that segregates natives from Canadians.
       - from "The Cruelty of Compassion" in "The Western Standard"

It's often said that Canada came of age at Vimy, in northern France, in the Easter of 1917, when a nation of seven million lost over three-and-a-half thousand in a few days. Ninety years later, a nation of 30 million cannot absorb four dozen dead in half a decade without recoiling from the very notion of soldiering, which is--as our forebears understood at Vimy and the Somme--central to the idea of nationhood: "It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade," recalled Brigadier-General Alexander Ross of the Dominion troops' advance in the dawn of Easter Monday. "In those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation." It is perhaps crediting too much to Ipsos-Reid to read into the few minutes of a poll respondent's time the death of a nation. Nonetheless, in the space of one human life--four score and ten--we have gone from "coming of age" to a descent into a second adolescence full of frivolous posturing.
One of the oldest lessons of human history is that will trumps wealth: advanced prosperous societies are not beaten by even more advanced, more prosperous societies; the Roman Empire did not fall to the Even More Roman Empire, but to cruder forces on the fringes of the map driven by the old primal impulses when you no longer have even a vestigial survival instinct and, indeed, when such a lack is pointed out, you trumpet it as a virtue, evidence of your more highly evolved state. As Lee Harris writes in his perceptive book Civilization and Its Enemies:
"Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe."
        - Mark, on a poll showing Canadian support for peace-keeping only troops, "Western Standard"

A conservative should be in favour of individual freedom, as long as that freedom does not impinge on others (as it does in, say, partial-birth infanticide). However, if everyone exercises a particular individual freedom all in the same way, it has certain consequences for society. If, for example, you have a volunteer army and no-one volunteers because they all want to be movie stars or investment brokers or discount-warehouse entrepreneurs, then you don’t have an army and you get invaded. So, in that circumstance, the state has a right to institute compulsory military service. In the same way, many of today’s moral issues are certainly individual choices, but somewhere along the way you reach a tipping point: if women don’t want to have children, the state dies. In that circumstance, the government should not promote policies that encourage conditions that are not in the state’s interest. Nobody could seriously argue the Conservative platform in Canada’s election was prohibitive. The most you could say about it was that it was skeptical that many of the things aggressively promoted by Liberals are in society’s interest.


You'd think that, if Europe were really serious about avoiding the horrors of the last century, they might learn from the most successful and enduring forms of democracy in the world - the Anglo-American systems. Instead, these are precisely the forms the EU is most determined to avoid. The EU sees itself as the answer to the problem of Le Pen, Haider, Fortuyn et al. Le Pen, Haider and Co. see themselves as the answer to the problem of the EU. The correct answer is probably "Neither of the above", but, as usual, there'll be a lot of blood on the floor before they figure that one out.
        - from "The National Post"

Self-righteous Americans? If you want a public culture that reeks of indestructible faith in its own righteousness, try Europe — especially when they’re talking about America: If you disagree with Eutopian wisdom, you must be an idiot.
        - from "National Review"

It seems amazing that no Continental politician is willing to get to grips with the real crisis facing Europe in the 21st century: the lack of Europeans.
        - from "The Daily Telegraph"

Europe, in eliminating "unwanted" pregnancies, is eliminating itself.
        - from a mailbox response

The greatest crime of welfare isn't that it's a waste of money, but that it's a waste of people.
        - from "The Daily Telegraph"

"I'm opposed to universal social programs - because they were set up on the basis of mid-20th century birth rates."

'Social Democracy' turns out to be explicitly anti-social democracy — ie, the transformation of free-born citizens into clients of government services is deeply harmful. Making government the pusher and the electorate the junkies greatly enhances the power of the former but does nothing for the latter — especially when you have to make them realise they can't afford their habit.
        - commenting on the 2005 German elections

Totalitarianism in the Western world today is not Il Duce strutting about in preposterous uniforms in a semi-militarized state. It’s in a much subtle but deeply damaging way of this belief that the state can in fact envelop you in its nanny embrace from cradle to grave. That is a totalitarian impulse.
        - on "The Hugh Hewitt Show"

In France, President Sarkozy is proposing a very modest step — that those who retire before the age of 65 should not receive free health care — and the French are up in arms about it. He's being angrily denounced by 53-year-old retirees, a demographic hitherto unknown to functioning societies. You spend your first 25 years being educated, you work for two or three decades, and then you spend a third of a century living off a lavish pension, with the state picking up every health care expense. No society can make that math add up. And so, in a democratic system today's electors vote to keep the government gravy coming and leave it to tomorrow for "the children" to worry about. That's the real "war on children" – and every time you add a new entitlement to the budget you make it less and less likely they'll win it... Nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: Once a fellow's enjoying the fruits of Euro-style entitlements, he couldn't give a hoot about the general societal interest; he's got his, and who cares if it's going to bankrupt the state a generation hence?
        - from "The OC Register"

"Europe," Will Hutton explains, "acts to ensure that television and radio conform to public interest criteria." "Public interest criteria": keep that bland phrase in your head when you need to know everything that’s wrong with Europe. It’s code-speak for a kind of easy-listening tyranny. "Public interest criteria" doesn’t mean criteria that the public decide is in their interest. It means that the elite, via various appointed bodies, decide what the public’s interest is. As Will Hutton is a member of the elite, this suits him fine. But it’s never going to catch on in America.
        - comparing EU and US attitudes

The European Continent isn't multicultural so much as bicultural. There are ageing native populations, and young Muslim populations, and that's it: "two solitudes", as they say in my beloved Quebec. If there's three, four or more cultures, you can all hold hands and sing We are the World. But if there's just two — you and the other — that's generally more fractious. Bicultural societies are among the least stable in the world, especially once it's no longer quite clear who is the majority and who is the minority — a situation that much of Europe is fast approaching, as you can see by visiting any French, Austrian, Belgian or Dutch maternity ward.
        - from "The Telegraph"

Even if the Kyoto accords didn't deserve dumping in and of themselves, it would have been worth doing just for the pleasure of watching Europe go bananas.
        - "Sayonara Kyoto", from "The Daily Telegraph"

You'd have to have a heart of stone not to be weeping with laughter at the scenes of France's snot-nosed political elite huffily denouncing Sunday's result as an insult to the honour of the Republic. Somehow events have so arranged themselves that... the French people have taken to the streets in angry protests against the French people!
Europe's ruling class has effortlessly refined Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death my right not to have to listen to you say it. If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable politicians, as they're doing in France, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere. Le Pen is not an aberration but the logical consequence.
I resent the characterization of M. Le Pen as 'extreme right'. I'm an extreme right-wing madman myself, and it takes one to know one. M. Le Pen is an economic protectionist in favour of the minimum wage, lavish subsidies for France's incompetent industries and inefficient agriculture; he's anti-American and fiercely opposed to globalization. In other words, he's got far more in common with Naomi Klein than with me.
        - from "The National Post"

The free market enables Hustler to thrive. And the free market in churches enables religion to thrive. In Europe, the established church, whether formal (the Church of England) or informal (as in Catholic Ireland, Italy and Spain), killed religion as surely as state ownership killed the British car industry. When the Episcopal Church degenerates into a bunch of wimpsville self-doubters, Americans go elsewhere. When the Church of England undergoes similar institutional decline, Britons give up on religion entirely.
        - from "The Spectator"

What Timothy Garton Ash calls 'the Enlightenment' has degenerated under its present trustees into a doomsday cult with all the coerciveness of the old state religion and none of the eternal truths.
        - from "The Spectator" on Europe

A revolution took place in Britain that first week of September. Unlike the ones in France and Russia, the masses did not rise up and kill the Royal Family. Instead, they have determined to subject them to a living death: in which everything they say, everything they do will be measured against Diana and found wanting; in which they will be stalked forever by those big, reproachful, kohl-ringed eyes.
        - describing the effect of Princess Diana's funeral

If Adolf Hitler were to return from wherever he is right now, what would he be most steamed about? That in some countries there are laws banning Nazi symbols and making Holocaust denial a crime? No, that wouldn't bother him: that would testify to the force and endurance of his ideas — that 60 years on they're still so potent the state has to suppress them. What would bug him the most is that on Broadway and in the West End Mel Brooks is peddling Nazi shtick in The Producers and audiences are howling with laughter. One reason why the English-speaking democracies were just about the only advanced nations not to fall for Nazism or Fascism is that they simply found it too ridiculous.
        - writing in Britain's "Daily Telegraph" after Prince Harry's "Nazi custume" gaffe

This is the usual law of unintended consequences. Just as the increasing sophistication of home-security systems has led burglars to conclude that it's easier to wait till you're in, knock on the door and punch you in the face, so the ever-present 24-hour surveillance devices have ensured that, even if you get a look at your assailant, you'll never be able to pick him out of a police line-up. In the absence of a multi-billion-pound overhaul of the CCTV network, the Government is now toying with bans on headgear and hooded garb. Not all hooded garb, of course. Burqas, chadors, hejabs and so forth will be more than welcome. But more provocative clothing, such as baseball caps and Lord Irvine's old full-bottomed wig, will be out.
        - from "Big Brother Caused Our Hooded Youth" in "The Telegraph"

"The Liberal Democratic Party, which is the heir to the great British Liberal Party of the 19th Century, are wrong on everything. If you think of what your view is on any issue, and then come up with the complete opposite of it, that's what the Liberal Democratic Party do. They're insanely pro-Europe, insanely pro-United Nations and this failed multilateralism, and the idea that 25% of the British electorate is prepared to vote for them is absolutely horrifying."
        - in a conversation on Radio Blogger

It does political parties no favors if they never pay a price for underperforming – with hindsight, for example, it would have been for the British Conservative Party and for the United Kingdom if they’d lost narrowly in 1992 rather than catastrophically in 1997.
        - mailbox response

With half the annual births it had in the 1950s and a population on the brink of falling below five million, Scotland has become a minor member of the axis of extinction: Germany, Japan, Russia — once great nations now recording net population loss. In its general approach to economic reality, not to mention the physical health of its population, Scotland is closer to the Russian end of the picture than to the German-Japanese end.
        - from "The Telegraph"

By 2010, a smart energetic Chinaman or Indian will be able to write his own ticket anywhere he wants. How attractive will the prospect of moving to the European Union and supporting a population of geriatric ingrate Continentals be? Not just compared with working in America or Australia but with the economic opportunities in his own country? Here’s a prediction: Europe’s dependence on immigration will in the end prove far more catastrophic than America’s dependence on oil. The immigrants will run out long before the oil does.
        - from "The Sovereign Individual" in "The Spectator"

The EU has embarked on a unique scheme for world domination dependent on hectoring the rest of the planet into submission... it's because the US provides generous charity defence guarantees that the European governments have been free to fritter away their revenues on socialised health care and lavish welfare and all the other entitlements the Euro-progressives berate America for not providing for its own citizens.
        - from "Independence" in "Face of the Tiger"

The trouble is the cheese-eating surrender paradigm is insufficient. If you want to go monkey fishing, there’s certainly no shortage of Eurowimps: Since the, ah, unpleasantness of the early 1940s, the Germans have become as aggressively and obnoxiously pacifist as they once were militarist; they loathe their own armed forces, never mind anybody else’s. But France is one of only five official nuclear powers in the world, a status it takes seriously. When Greenpeace were interfering with French nuclear tests in the Pacific, Paris sent commandoes to blow up the damn boat. I detest eco-loonies, but even I would balk at killing the buggers... it reserves the right to treat French Africa as its colonies, Middle Eastern dictators as its clients, the European Union as a Greater France and the UN as a kind of global condom to prevent the spread of Americanization. All this it does shamelessly and relatively effectively. It’s time the rest of us were so clear-sighted.
        - from an online column "Monkey Business"

The rhetorically deranged Prime Minister of Luxembourg continues to stagger around like a college date-rape defendant, insisting that all reasonable persons understand that “Non” really means “Oui”. The most his officials are prepared to concede is that they may have to go through the motions of respecting the will of the people by slowing down the timetable for totally ignoring them.
        - from a column in "The Irish Times" after Franco-Dutch rejection of EU constitution

The EU’s so-called "democratic deficit" - the remoteness of the unaccountable unelected governing class - is, as they say, not a bug but a feature. It was set up that way because, after the massive popularity of Nazism and Fascism, the post-war European elites decided that it was necessary to build institutions that restrain the will of the people rather than express it. In the long run, that's merely a more leisurely and scenic route back to where they came in.
        - Mark Steyn, in an interview with John Hawkins

Specifically, if I were Her Majesty’s Government in London, I’d begin by repealing Britain’s Human Rights Act, withdrawing from the Schengen Agreement on EU immigration and certain international conventions on refugees. Borders are hard enough to enforce in the modern world without cutting Belgians, Greeks and the UN in on the deal. Second, I would revise immigration procedures to enforce the basic principle that immigrants should not be entitled to become a charge upon the state for a certain period of time. Third, I would attempt to bring treason prosecutions against a couple of high-profile imams: it’s hard to know how these cases would turn out, but it’s important to reintroduce the concept of “treason” to a society that’s far too blasé about those who wish to destroy it. Fourth, I would offer a modified version of the new Italian law banning the burqa: if a Muslim girl wants to attend an English school, she can wear the same uniform as the other English schoolgirls.
       - from Mark's mailbox responses

Five years ago, in early May 2002, Pim Fortuyn was murdered in the Netherlands, an assassination that, with the killing of Theo van Gogh and the exile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, has transformed the image of that nation. At the time of Fortuyn's assassination and Le Pen's impressive performance in the French presidential election, I wondered whether the political class' refusal even to debate their opponents was both driving voters toward non-"mainstream" figures and in a sense licensing the use of political violence against them. And apart from that there was something almost loopy about the insistence of the European media that anybody of which they disapproved was somehow "right-wing".
        - from Mark's website

'Good evening," I said, reading the autocue at rehearsal. "Europe was stunned today by the resurgence of the extreme right wing... Hang on, isn't this last week's script?"
"That was France," explained Ron, my producer. "This is Holland."
"Gotcha," I said. "So this guy, Pim, is another charismatic, hateful right-winger like Le Pen, who believes in." I reached under the desk and pulled out the BBC's handy How To Spot A Right-Wing Madman chart. "So, like Le Pen, he believes in right-wing policies like economic protectionism, minimum wage, massive subsidies to inefficient industries. He's opposed to globalisation, fiercely anti-American..."
"No, no," said Ron. "Pim doesn't believe any of that conventional right-wing stuff. He's the other kind of right-winger."
"What other kind?"
"The kind that's a sociology professor who believes in promiscuous gay sex and recreational drugs. We've got a call in to Norman Tebbit and Baroness Young asking if they'd like to pay tribute to him from one of their favourite gay bathhouses."
"Fabulous," I said. "Great pictures. But how many kinds of right-wingers are there?"
        - from "The Face of the Tiger"

I think socialized health care is the single biggest factor in transforming the relationship of the individual to the state. In fact, once it's introduced it becomes very hard to have genuinely conservative government - certainly, not genuinely small government. I think I say in my book that in Continental cabinets (and in Canada) the Defense ministry is somewhere you pass through en route to a really important portfolio like Health. Election campaigns become devoted to competing pledges about "fixing" health care, even though by definition it never can be. In a public health care system, the doctors, nurses, janitors and administrators all need to be paid every Friday so the only point at which costs can be controlled is through the patient, by restricting access. If you go to an American doctor with a monstrous lump on your shoulder, it's in his economic interest to find out what it is and get it whipped off as soon as possible. If you go to a British or Canadian doctor, it's in the system's economic interest to postpone it as long as possible. And because the public will only sit around on waiting lists for two or three years, eventually in order to control costs you have to claw it out of other budgets - like Defense. Socialized health care is the biggest cause not just of the infantilization of the citizenry but of the state. On the former point, the unloveliness of any British city after six in the evening - the dolly birds staggering around paralytic, the pools of "pavement pizza", the baying yobboes gagging for a shag and hurling bollards through the bus shelters to impress the crumpet - is a natural consequence of what happens when the state relieves the citizen of primal responsibilities.
        - Mark, on National Review's Corner blog

When President Bush talks about needing immigrants to do "the jobs Americans won't do," most of us assume he means seasonal fruit pickers and the maid who turns down your hotel bed and leaves the little chocolate on it. But in the United Kingdom the jobs Britons won't do has somehow come to encompass the medical profession... According to a report in the British Medical Journal, white males comprise 43.5 percent of the population but now account for less than a quarter of students at UK medical schools. In other words, being a doctor is no longer an attractive middle-class career proposition. That's quite a monument to six decades of Michael Moore-style socialist health care.
        - Mark Steyn, "The OC Register"

"One of the strengths of federalism is that it encourages experimentation at a local level that can then be applied more widely... In the end, though, reversing the demographic death spiral will require profound cultural change, as well as an end to the cradle-to-grave cocoon of state benefits. Healthy societies balance the present and the future; Europe, in its grisly self-absorption, has lost that balance."

"For Americans, one of the eye-openers of this war has been just how huge the gulf is between the U.S. and the EU, especially in the latter's indifference to liberty and accountability. Because Texans, Vermonters and Georgians all agree that they're Americans, they're happy to go their own way in matters of capital punishment, income tax, gay civil unions: that's a dynamic, creative federalism. Because Greeks, Scots and Austrians still regard each other as foreign, a European identity has to be imposed from top down, as if by harmonizing tax codes and passport design you can harmonize a bunch of foreigners into one nationality, regulate a European consciousness into being: that's not federalism, but a stagnant over-centralization."

"Why be surprised that Spanish voters don't have the stomach for war? To fight for king and country is to fight for the future, for your nation, for its children. But Spain with its birthrate of 1.1 per woman has no children, and thus no future. What’s to fight for?"


There's a lesson there in the reformability of terrorists. The IRA's first instinct is to kill. If you complain about the killing, they offer to kill the killers. If you complain about the manner of the killing, they offer to kill more tastefully — "compassionate terrorism", as it were. Because they no longer have to engage in the costly and time-consuming business of waging war against the British Army, they've been free to convert themselves into the emerald isle's answer to the Russian Mafia. They recently pulled off the biggest bank heist in British history — snaffling just shy of 50 million bucks from the vaults of Ulster's Northern Bank. What do they need that money for? Well, it helps them fund their real objective: the takeover of southern Ireland. So this March 17 the president is merely following the logic of his own post-9/11 analysis. St. Patrick chased the snakes out of Ireland. The least Bush can do is chase them out of the White House
        - from "The Irish Front" in "Chicago Sun Times"

No one knows quite how Irish and gay politics got so comprehensively entwined, though personally I suspect it’s something to do with the homoerotic frisson of Lord Of The Dance. Anyway, because the official parade declines to add a tasteful Tinky-Winky lilac to its 40 shades of green, St. Paddy’s is no longer just a Day but an  entire season, stretching lazily back through March and late February with a panorama of more 'inclusive' events.
        - on the controversy attached to St Patrick's Day parades in America

The point to remember is that, as a general rule, every woman thinks she can change a man, so the more you've got that needs changing the more appealing you'll be. At least I hope that's true, because, in modern Ireland, conservative women are thinner on the ground than Jews in Yasser's cabinet.
        - Mark's mailbox advice to a young Irish conservative


"There is more to freedom than free elections. Britain is defined not by the one day in five years that it goes to the polls but by the broader framework of which that vote is an expression. If you look at healthy nations, competitive electoral politics is often the final stage of their journey: property rights, the rule of law, enforceable contracts and many other things come first. The thug nations from Africa to Central Asia are developing the knack of holding elections while remaining, in all other respects, tyrannies."
        - "What Must Be Done in Iraq", from "The Spectator"

There are immigration laws on the books right now, aren't there? Why not try enforcing them? The same people who say that government is a mighty power for good that can extinguish every cigarette butt and detoxify every cheeseburger and even change the very climate of the planet back to some Edenic state so that the water that falleth from heaven will land as ice and snow, and polar bears on distant continents will frolic as they did in days of yore, the very same people say: Building a border fence? Enforcing deportation orders? Can't be done, old boy. Pie-in-the-sky. In such a world, let us salute a far rarer politician than Nanny Bloomberg: "What is at risk is not the climate but freedom," said the Czech president Vaclav Klaus this week. "I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism, not in communism. This ideology wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind by a sort of central (now global) planning."
        - from "Government can control the weather but not the border", "OC Register"

In 1968, in his best-selling book The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich declared: "In the 1970s the world will undergo famines -- hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death."
In 1972, in their influential landmark study The Limits to Growth, the Club of Rome announced that the world would run out of gold by 1981, of mercury by 1985, tin by 1987, zinc by 1990, petroleum by 1992, and copper, lead, and gas by 1993.
In 1977, Jimmy Carter, President of the United States incredible as it may seem, confidently predicted that "we could use up all of the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade."
Now, in 2002, with enough oil for a century and a half, the planet awash in cut-price minerals, and less global famine, starvation and malnutrition than ever before, the end of the world has had to be rescheduled. The latest estimated time of arrival for the apocalypse is 2032.
        - from "The National Post"

When Greenpeace’s spokesmen say hot weather is evidence of global warming and cold weather is evidence of global warming and so’s dry weather and rainy weather, they’re saying in essence that their thesis is not falsifiable — in which case it cannot, by definition, be scientific.
        - from a mailbox response

Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and one of the IPCC bigwigs, predicts that, unless we act on climate change, "one million people" will die by 2100 - from droughts, hurricanes, wildfires and the like. Which works out about 10,000 people a year. Or about 50 people in each country. On the other hand, over two million people die of diarrhea each year, mainly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
        - from "National Review"

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the other day the Rev. Al Gore declared that "climate change" was "the most important moral, ethical, spiritual and political issue humankind has ever faced.'' Ever. I believe that was the same day it was revealed that George W. Bush's ranch in Texas is more environmentally friendly than the Gore mansion in Tennessee... As his spokesperson attempted to argue, his high energy usage derives from his brave calls for low energy usage. He's burning up all that electricity by sending out faxes every couple of minutes urging you to use less electricity.
        - from "How Gore's massive energy consumption saves the world", "Chicago Sun Times"

What I like about Google "going dark" in support of "Earth Hour" is that it, in fact, uses more energy than the regular old white screen. But hey, we can always use another pointless gesture in the name of "raising awareness"... Another attractive feature of "Earth Hour" is the opportunity it offers to transform free nations into a society of eco-Stasi... Still, you couldn't ask for a better image for this movement than apparently sane people voluntarily keeping themselves in the dark.
        - from "National Review"

While Britain and other former colonial powers turned a blind eye to Africa, the likes of Mugabe looted their governments’ treasuries, their countries’ resources, their peoples’ wealth, and western taxpayers’ bountiful “development” funds. To this day, you still hear African leaders demanding to know why America won’t launch a “Marshall plan for Africa”, which conveniently overlooks the fact that since 1960 the west has sunk the cost of the Marshall plan many times over into the Dark Continent with nothing to show for it other than a few extra zeroes on the Swiss bank balances of the dictators-for-life. While the west snoozed complacently, the Afro-Marxist kleptocrats ransacked a continent.
        - from "The Irish Times"

In Australia a while back, they had a big Education Summit going on, and the then Prime Minister, the great John Howard, used a marvelous phrase to me about how they wanted to teach Oz history — as an "heroic national narrative". We don't do that. In fact, we don't teach it as any kind of coherent narrative at all. We've taken Cromwell's advice to his portraitist to paint him "warts and all", and show our kids all but solely the warts — spreading disease to Native Americans, enslaving blacks, interning the Japanese. Any non-wart stuff is mostly invented out of whole cloth: the US Constitution has its good points but they all come from the Iroquois, and the first Thanksgiving is some kind of proto-Communist celebration of collective farming... Teaching only the warts is a terrible thing to do to young children. At its extreme it leads to those British Taliban captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan: Subjects of the Crown who'd been raised in English schools and taught only that the country to which they owed their nominal allegiance was the source of all the racism, oppression, colonialism, and imperialism in the world. Why be surprised that a proportion of the alumni of such a system would look elsewhere for their sense of identity? But, even in its more benign form, warts-only education leaves a big hole where one's cultural inheritance should be.
        - National Review

"In fact, there is a Palestinian state: it's called Jordan, whose population has always been majority Palestinian. It's not as big a state as it used to be, but that's because King Hussein, in the worst miscalculation of his long bravura highwire act, made the mistake of joining Nasser's 1967 war to destroy Israel. Hence, the 'occupied territories': they're occupied because the Arabs attacked Israel and lost."
        - from "Face Of The Tiger"

Suppose every last Jew in Israel were dead or fled, what would rise in place of the Zionist Entity? It would be something like the Hamas-Hezbollah terror squats in Gaza and Lebanon writ large. Hamas won a landslide in the Palestinian elections, and Hezbollah similarly won formal control of key Lebanese Cabinet ministries. But they're not Mussolini: They have no interest in making the trains run on time. And to be honest, who can blame them? If you're a big-time terrorist mastermind, it's frankly a bit of a bore to find yourself Deputy Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Pensions, particularly when you're no good at it and no matter how lavishly the European Union throws money at you there never seems to be any in the kitty when it comes to making payroll. So, like a business that's over-diversified, both Hamas and Hezbollah retreated to their core activity: Jew-killing.
        - Mark Steyn, "Chicago Sun Times"

The strongest force in international affairs is inertia. It's everywhere: a continuous pressure from the U.N., the EU, the Chinese, the Arab League, the State Department and half the federal bureaucracy to do nothing about anything -- do nothing about the Sudanese genocide until everyone's dead, do nothing about Iran's nuclear program until it's complete and the silos are loaded, do nothing about anything except hold meetings and issue statements of concern. To resist the allure of inertia will require enormous will, not just from the president but from the American people.
        - from "Chicago Sun Times"

North Korea has millions of starving people; it has one of the lowest GDPs per capita on the planet, lower than Ghana, lower than Zimbabwe, lower than Mongolia. But it’s a nuclear power. The danger we face is not a Chinese superpower or an Islamist superpower: if it’s a new boss, you learn the new rules and adjust as best you can. But the greater likelihood is of a world with no superpower at all in which unipolar geopolitics gives way to non-polar geopolitics, a world without order in which pipsqueak thug states who can’t feed their own people globalize their psychoses... The western world has no will. So we approach a state in which the planet's wealthiest jurisdictions, from Norway to New Zealand, lack any capacity to defend their borders, and the planet's basket-cases, from North Korea to Sudan, will be nuclear powers. We'll see how that arrangement works out.
        - Mark Steyn

It is in the nature of parliamentary systems that the greatest generals go a bridge too far.
        - on John Howard's election defeat in Australia (Nov'07)

When the tsunami hit, the Americans and Australians had troops and relief supplies on the ground within hours and were coordinating their efforts without any global bureaucracy at all. Imagine that: an unprecedented disaster, and yet robust, efficient, compatible, results-oriented nations managed to accomplish more than the international system specifically set up to manage such events. Would it have helped to elect a steering committee with Sudan and Zimbabwe on it? Of course not. But, if the UN wants to hold meetings, hector Washington, steal money and give tacit approval to genocide, let it – and let it sink into irrelevance.
        - from Britain's "Sunday Telegraph"

If you really wanted to make an effective donation to a humanitarian organisation, you’d send your cheque to the Pentagon or the Royal Australian Navy. But that would be in a world where we’re defined by ‘what we do’... Getting things done requires ships and transport planes and the like, and most Western countries lack the will to maintain armed forces capable of long-range projection. So, when disaster strikes, they can mail a cheque and hold a press conference and form a post-modern ‘Task Force’ which doesn’t have any forces and doesn’t perform any tasks. In extreme circumstances, they can stage an all-star pop concert. And, because this is all most of the Western world is now capable of, ‘taking action’ means little more than taking the approved forms of inaction... The biggest thing the West could do for Africa is over here, not over there: end European and American agricultural protectionism. The second biggest thing would be to stop making a multicultural virtue of denuding the continent of its best and brightest: Birmingham now has more Malawian nurses than Malawi.
        - from "The Spectator"

"Rarely have I seen mainstream media turn and bare their teeth as quickly as they have towards Benedict, Mark Steyn. Why? And what does it tell us about media?"
"Well, I think they were rooting for Ellen Degeneres or Rupert Everett. And the fact that the new Pope is, in fact, a Catholic, seems to have come as a great surprise to them. And, you know, each to their own... they seem genuinely bewildered that the Cardinals of the Catholic Church think differently on these issues, from Andrew Sullivan and the New York Times."
       - in a coversation on "Radio Blogger"

If a blogger attempts to use the words "freedom" or "democracy" or "Taiwan independence" on Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal, he gets the message: "This item contains forbidden speech. Please delete the forbidden speech." How pathetic is that? Not just for the Microsoft-spined Corporation, which should be ashamed of itself, but for the Chinese government, which pretends to be a world power but is terrified of words.
        - from "The Telegraph"

There's no such thing as "sustainable" development. Human progress and individual liberty have advanced on the backs of one unsustainable development after another: When we needed trees for heating and transportation, we chopped 'em down. Then we discovered oil, and the trees grew back. When the oil runs out, we won't notice because our SUVs will be powered by something else. Bet on human ingenuity every time... Earth's most valuable resource is us.

If I understand this global-warming business correctly, the danger is that the waters will rise and drown the whole of Massachusetts, New York City, Long Island, the California coast and a few big cities on the Great Lakes - in other words, every Democratic enclave will be wiped out leaving only the solid Republican heartland. Politically speaking, for conservatives there's no downside to global warming.


If the non-political sphere is permanently left-of-center - the movies, the pop songs, the plays, the sitcoms, the newspapers plus the churches, schools and much else - it's simply unreasonable to expect people to walk into a polling booth every other November and vote conservative. The culture is where the issues get framed and the boundaries set.

In Houdini's day, if something appeared to be happening, it generally was. No matter what Blaine cooks up, he will never enjoy that presumption. On the face of it, if he survives his 44 days on nothing but water, he could be returned to his supermodel girlfriend alive but brain-damaged. But the chances are that people would be sceptical about whether he's faking that, too. In a world where everything's an illusion, thinking you can still make a career as an illusionist may be the biggest one of all.
        - from Mark's profile of illusionist David Blaine

In the first half of this century, the pattern of our days altered drastically: we began to move about by cars, and airplanes, and to converse by telephone; the invention of the elevator spurred the invention of the skyscraper; electric lighting and refrigerators made the old lamp-lighter and the iceman redundant; self-raising flour and washing machines helped eliminate domestic servants; the outhouse moved indoors. A young man propelled by an HG Wells time machine from 1897 to 1947 would be flummoxed at every turn. By contrast, a young man catapulted from 1947 to 1997 would on the surface feel instantly at home. In the second half of the century, hardly anything has changed: our bathrooms, our washers, our kitchens, our high-rises, our cars and planes have barely altered.
        - from "The Future of the European Past" in "New Criterion"

The title of Michael Crichton's new novel, Next, would be a grand title for his collected works. He has a remarkable instinct not just for novelizing the hot topic du jour but for pushing it on to the next stage, across the thin line that separates today's headlines from tomorrow's brave new world. He's especially good at the convergence of the mighty currents of the time -- the intersection of the technological, legal, political and cultural forces in society and the way wily opportunists can hop and skip from one lily pad to another until something that would once have sounded insane is now routine... By the time an accused pederast is advised by his lawyers to claim his need for transgressive sexual encounters is due to his having the "novelty gene," you begin to appreciate the horrors that lie ahead: for tactical advantage here and there, we're likely to wind up surrendering strategically the essence of humanity.
        - reviewing "Next" for "Macleans Magazine"

The sensibility of much of our pop culture is loathsome and degrading. Every society has pornography, but you used to have to pull your hat down and turn your collar up and skulk off to the seedy part of town. Now it’s provided as a service in your hotel room by every major chain. That’s a small sign of a big shift.
        - Mark Steyn

It’s certainly true that bears are wiser and more sensitive than man. For example, I’ve yet to meet a bear who’s produced an animated feature as sappy as this.
        - Mark is unimpressed with "Brother Bear" in "The Spectator"

Given the success he's had dismissing the premise of the New Testament as a fraud, perhaps Dan Brown could try writing a revisionist biography of acclaimed prophet Muhammad. Just a thought.
        - from a review of "The Da Vinci Code" in Macleans

A JAG is a Judge Advocate-General, as you’ll know if you watch the eponymous show on CBS. It speaks volumes for our times that the only military adventure series on network TV is about a navy lawyer.
        - from a "Happy Warrior" column in "National Review"

The Jews - the Ellis Island/Lower East Side generation - were merely the latest contributors to the American Christmas. For their first two centuries on this continent, the Anglo-Celtic settlers attached no significance to Christmas: it was another working day, unless it fell on a Sunday, in which case one went to church. It was later waves of immigrants - the Dutch, Germans and Scandinavians - who introduced most of the standard features we know today - trees, cards, Santa. Nothing embodies the American idea - e pluribus unum - better than the American Christmas. This is genuine multiculturalism: If the worry is separation of church and state, the North American Christmas is surely the most successful separation you could devise - Jesus, Mary and Joseph are for home and church; the great secular trinity of Santa, Rudolph and Frosty are for school and mall.
        - Mark celebrates Christmas in America

I confess I went into the movie ready to dislike Miss Theron. I’m sick of newspaper articles detailing the amount of time, talent and technical wizardry required to turn some silver-screen beauty into an average-looking woman. There are plenty of average-looking women out there — gritty Britty TV drama seems to be full of them — and it seems excessively unfair if they can’t even get a shot at the frumpy roles because Nicole Kidman’s hogging the false nose again.
        - from Mark's review of "Monster"

Though she’s playing a gal who’s spent 40 years as a comic-book love-interest and perennial supervillain bait, Miss Dunst looks far more real than the plastic starlets in most of the other movies, and she and Maguire have a very sweet awkwardness that’s just right for their relationship.
        - reviewing "Spiderman 2" for "The Spectator"

We have Tim Robbins, a Hollywood darling, brand-new Oscar-winner, and one of the most prominent victims of the 'crushing of dissent' in the Bush/Ashcroft era. As you may recall, Mr. Robbins was disinvited from a special fifteenth-anniversary screening of Bull Durham at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown because of his opposition to the war in Iraq. All over the world, in the gulags and prison camps and torture chambers, fellow political prisoners rose as one to express their solidarity with Mr. Robbins—or they would have done if, like him, they’d been allowed to go on all the TV talk shows to talk at length about being silenced.
       - from his New Criterion review of "Embedded"

Hollywood assumes that if you have enough beautiful stars making out and getting shot at and running up stairwells and diving through windows and outrunning the fireball, that that is sufficiently "American" that the absence of a heroic narrative won't matter...
At some point reality will reassert itself. Hollywood, for complex psychological reasons, is waging war not on Bush and Cheney but on its core business, on the very art of storytelling.
        - Mark Steyn, "Hollywood's Quagmire", "Macleans Magazine"

If you look at the range of Hollywood movies playing in most cities in the developing world, you’d hate the America they portray, too.
        - from a mailbox response on Hollywood anti-Americanism

I think the ability to get enormously rich by singing songs or doing bad sex scenes in crummy movies so distorts one’s perspective that “artists” fail to understand just how rare the blessings of a capitalist society are. Also, they exist in a precarious psychological state because they work in businesses that pose as “counter-cultural” even though they’re the most ferociously capitalist of all, and with the biggest wage discrepancies. The film-makers may pose as “radical” but the industry’s dominated by the same brands it was 70 years ago – Universal, Paramount, Warners. Likewise, the record companies. When you live in a world of corporate conformity masquerading as permanent revolution, professing solidarity with real revolutionaries is one way of mitigating your self-disgust.
        - on the politics of actors, from a mailbox response

Nothing dates quicker than the future, and the 21st century as foreseen by Gerry Anderson was totally nowtro then, but fabulously retro now.
        - from his Spectator review of "Thunderbirds"

It’s not giving away the surprises that ruins the movie, it’s the surprises that ruin the movie... This director is a young dog who needs some new tricks.
        - from his Spectator review of "The Village"

In what’s meant to be a hip, young, urban, erotically-charged thriller, all the coincidences depend on all the hip, young participants having no knowledge of any technology introduced in the last 30 years.
        - from his review of "Wicker Park"

"The taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems is in dispute." All hell is about to break loose because one bunch of wacky space aliens is trying to impose a punitive VAT rate on the other... it sort of confirms my suspicion that most of the Star Wars losers from the Seventies grew up to become accountants.
        - reviewing "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" in "The Spectator"

This time round, a decade after The Phantom Menace, the Republic is under threat from 'separatists' who are threatening to separate because, er, well, um... I'm a Quebecer, so in theory this theme should have had a certain homely appeal. Instead, I began to realise what a Canadian political discussion must be like for non-Canadians
        - reviewing "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" in "The Spectator"

Having won the war, the Alliance begins mind-washing its citizens to make them more content and placid. Unfortunately, as a side-effect, folks also lose the desire to go to work, to breed, and ultimately to live — except for a very small minority whom the mind-washing backfires on and turns into feral predators who destroy everything they come near. Hmm. Aside from anything else, Serenity is also an excellent allegory for the next ten years of the European Union.
        - reviewing "Serenity" in "The Spectator"

Pearl Harbor was, as they say, a 'defining moment', the end of American isolationism. Pearl Harbor The Film testifies only to the new American cultural isolationism in which even the recent past is beyond the comprehension of Hollywood.
        - from "The Spectator"

This is Hollywood and, though every movie star has armed security, that’s no reason not to make a picture about the wickedness of the arms industry.
        - reviewing "Lord of War" in "The Spectator"

They’re great-looking penguins, so why worry about a larger message? The Emperors have no clothes, and they don’t need ‘em.
        - reviewing "March of the Penguins" in "The Spectator"

Ralph Fiennes, as he’s done very reliably since The Avengers, gives one of those performances admired by everyone except paying customers
        - from his "Spectator" review of "The Constant Gardender"

A certain pattern is beginning to set in: diffident bumbling upper-middle-class Brit male woos and wins glamorous American gal way out of his league.
        - reflecting on "Wimbledon", "Notting Hill" and "Four Weddings", "The Spectator"

Instead of Jesus the wimp, Mel gives us Jesus the Redeemer. He died for our sins – ie, the 'violent end' is the critical bit, not just an unfortunate misunderstanding cruelly cutting short a promising career in gentle teaching. The followers of Wimp Jesus seem to believe He died to license our sins – Jesus loves us for who we are so whatever’s your bag is cool with Him. Strictly as a commercial proposition, Wimp Jesus is a loser: the churches who go down that path are emptying out and dying. Those who believe in Christ the Redeemer are booming, and Mel Gibson has made a movie for them. If Hollywood was as savvy as it thinks it is, it would have beaten him to it. But it isn’t so it didn’t. And as most studio execs have never seen an evangelical Christian except in films where they turn out to be paedophiles or serial killers, it’s no wonder they’re baffled by The Passion’s success.
        - reviewing "The Passion of the Christ", "The Spectator"

This year the winning stars will be people you've never heard of. ABC Television is terrified that its audience might not be that interested in whether Brenda Blethyn, a little-known British actress from Secrets and Lies, beats Emily Watson, a littler-known British actress from Breaking the Waves. For the first time the Oscars are in danger of winding up like the Bafta or London Evening Standard awards, where Raquel Welch is flown in to present an award to Ken Loach, even though Raquel's frock has a bigger budget than Ken's movie and, in solidarity with the millions of victims of the Thatcher terror, Ken has declined to wash his hair.
        - previewing the 1997 Oscars

If I were some bratty all-American moppet, I think I’d be feeling a bit oppressed by all this cultural imperialism. At school, you’re told it’s a wonderful multiculti world and have to sit through Swahili dirges for Kwanzaa and the other Ramadan-a-ding-dongs, and then you get to the mall and every multi-billion dollar kids’ franchise features English public schoolboys, and even when they’re disguised as Hobbits they still live on toasted crumpets and elderberry tea and such... Whatever happened to American pop culture?
        - from his "Spectator" review of "The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe"

Who would have thought an English boarding-school story would be the global hit of the 21st century?
The dreary prioritizing of "relevance" shrivels a child's horizon. If you read The Wizard of Oz or Treasure Island or even Heidi and Anne of Green Gables, you will not have done most of the things you're reading about, nor will you ever: you will not be befriended by a talking lion, you will not be kidnapped by scurvy pirates, you will not be orphaned and raised either on a farm on Prince Edward Island or by your grandfather and his goats in the Swiss Alps. But this lack of "relevance" did not prevent generations of boys and girls from "relating" to these stories. As J. K. Rowling is only the latest to demonstrate, boarding school is the perfect structure for almost any narrative: it enables you to create a self-contained world free of parents, with its own codes and conventions, yet constrained in both place (a world that ends at the school grounds) and time.
        - from "Macleans Magazine" on the success of Harry Potter

We've grown used to the biases of popular culture. If a British officer meets a native — African, Indian, whatever — in any movie, play or novel of the last 30 years, the Englishman will be a sneering supercilious sadist and the native will be a dignified man of peace in perfect harmony with his environment in whose tribal language there is not even a word for "war" or "killing" or "weapons of mass destruction."
        - from "Artificially pacifying the past", "Macleans Magazine"

Adapting Spider-Man isn't like adapting Jane Austen, where you can chop characters and stick in lesbian scenes to your heart's content. Mess with a comic-book superhero and the purists will leave you for roadkill.


There are People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but sadly no Animals for the Ethical Treatment of People.

For some of us, this is like the Iran/Iraq war: where's the neither-of-the-above box?
        - from "The National Post"

"Just before the train pulled out of Paddington Station, a group of patients from a mental hospital, homeward bound after a day trip to London, piled into Denis Thatcher's otherwise deserted carriage. The bossy lady in charge began a head count: ". . . eight, nine, ten . . ." Coming to Sir Denis, she paused. "Who are you?"
"I'm the Prime Minister's husband," he said. Without missing a beat, she counted him in - "11" - and continued.
        - anecdote about the late Denis Thatcher

In 1963, when a benefactor offered to fund a chapel and Crick’s fellow Fellows voted to accept the money, he refused to accept the argument that many at the college would appreciate a place of worship and that those who didn’t were not obliged to enter it. He offered to fund a brothel on the same basis, and, when that was rejected, he resigned.
        - from Mark's obituary for Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, "The Atlantic Monthly"

When Cromwell instructed his portraitist to paint him ‘warts and all’, he meant both halves of that equation. To teach the warts alone is morbid and unhealthy.
        - from an article for "The Spectator"

There's something Danish in the state of rotten.
        - after Denmark plants it flag on Arctic territory claimed by Canada (submitted by Glenn)

During the BSE meat famine, many English had no choice but to leave their homeland, emigrating to Dublin to take jobs in telephone sales with European car rental firms. But others went to America, where they found they could eke out a living playing psychotic Arab terrorists in Hollywood films.
        - imagining an alternative English history, "The Daily Telegraph"

It’s like watching Sheffield Wednesday take on Middlesex. If the crowd decide this is really a cricket match, Wednesday look like a bunch of dummies. If they figure it’s footie, Middlesex are in trouble.
        - in "The Spectator", wondering what priorities the American people want their President to have

I always like those kind of underdog countries like Cameroon, who come along usually once every tournament, and everyone roots for them, and they just play great, crazy, inspired football. And then you get incredibly dull teams like England, where everything is kind of so tactically thought out.
        - commenting on the World Cup

In the July issue of Foreign Policy, Parag Khanna of the Brookings Institution argues that Europe is "the world's first metrosexual superpower"... this sounds like one of those pieces an editor runs when he wants to get fired and go to Tuscany to write a novel.
        - in "The Spectator"

This is all pure speculation on my part, mainly because the editor turned down my request to spend ten days on a fact-finding mission to this critical battleground resort ...er, state.
        - Mark wants to go to Hawaii, "The Spectator"

I tremble to return to the subject of the Frost family, if only because so many e-mailers in the last 72 hours seem to confuse a debate on health care with an analysis of my sexual inadequacy and the accommodational capacity of my posterior.
        - Mark, after a deluge of hate mail over the SCHIP "poster family"

I’ve got no problems with Trent Lott's haircut. I would be happy for the haircut to remain, as the Senator from Mississippi, and for the rest of him to go into retirement on the Cayman Islands or something.

Happy Valentine's Day, a day on which we anglophones struggle under one of the worst burdens in a world which has otherwise blessed us: the word "love." The French for "love" is amour, which rhymes with dozens of other useful words - toujours (always), jour (day), carrefour (crossroads), tambour (drum)... So the romantically inclined Quebecois lyricist can slough off a love ballad in minutes:
Darling, you're my amour
Not just today but toujours
I know from that very first jour
When I saw you at the carrefour
And my heart beat like a tambour…
Truly, French is the language of love. By contrast, the romantically inclined Manitoban lyricist is stymied at every turn. English has just four and a half rhymes for "love."

At Berlin station in the good old days, if the guy's telling the truth, that could mean he's a real defector. If what he's saying isn't true, that could mean he's a KGB-planted fake defector. On the other hand, if the guy's telling the truth, that could mean he's a fake defector feeding some true stuff so we won't spot he's a fake defector. And, if what he's saying isn't true, that could mean he's a real defector, since every transparently honest fellow is bound to get a few things wrong. On the other other hand, if what he's saying isn't true, that could mean he's a fake defector posing as one of those true defectors who appear more plausible by getting a few things wrong. On the other other other hand... An ex-MI6 guy in Britain once told me that in intelligence every fact had a minimum of seven possible meanings.

When a man doesn’t know the meaning of the word 'fear', that might just be a deficiency in his education.

There’s nothing easier than taking refuge in something that’s never going to happen.


Quotes On: Iraq & War on Terror ~ Multiculturalism

Do you want some more? John Hawkins has another collection of quotes by Mark's columns, and from his book "Face of the Tiger".

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