Tag Archives: mark steyn

Should we thank the Court as it rescues us from our bad laws? Or just bow?

Summary:  America remains locked in a battle between Left and Right. Each fights to protect the Constitution — or the pieces of it they value. Neither cares for the it as other than a tool to advance their interests. The Constitution, torn between them, slowly withers. The American people mildly, intermittently cheer both sides — wanting what they want, ignorant and uncaring of the political processes that constitute the Republic. Today we see this tragedy play out over same sex marriage.

Oracles, ruling on the basis of a document in which few people believe.

Oracles ruling about a document in which many (most?) Americans no longer believe.


Americans have voted for laws not allowing same sex marriage. Now opinions have changed (for the better IMO), and we can change those laws.  Acts of collective action like this,  working through our elected representatives, strengthen the Republic. We shape America, making our history, showing our power to govern ourselves. This is the natural course of evolution in a democracy.

But many prefer quicker extra-legal measures, wanting results NOW — not caring about the means. Or the consequences.  The Courts, often ready to act as priest-kings — deciders — provide a fast track for social change. As with Roe vs Wade in 1973, the likely result of Supreme Court voiding the Defense of Marriage Act (1996) will be to extend and embitter the debate and further weaken the legitimacy of the courts.

The Republic — and hence us, the people — grow weaker with each exercise of extra-constitutional power by the Courts and the Executive, no matter how well-intentioned. Eventually our leaders will take bold action, promising to give us what we want — security, prosperity, whatever — without bothering to pretend to follow the Constitution. At that point the Constitution will have died.

My guess most of us will live to see that day.

Some people on the Right look at the Courts. Today they cherish the Constitution

I agree with the following views. But the core fact of American politics today is that neither Left nor Right value the Constitution as anything other an instrument to advance their policies. Tomorrow — when looking at government oppression of Muslims, extra-legal assassination of Americans, or illegal surveillance — they might show less concern about old documents.

Gay marriage and the Supreme Court’s empire“, Paul Mirengoff, Powerline, 4 March 2013:

{N}ine glorified lawyers are about to tell us whether the traditional definition of marriage as requiring members of the opposite sex is rational and/or useful (whether the standard is “rationality” or “utility” is up for grabs in the case). By “traditional definition of marriage” in this context, I really mean the universal definition — one that, as far as I know, prevailed until very recently in all societies since the beginning of recorded time. Isn’t it odd that as few as five judges could determine that the traditional definition of this fundamental institution is irrational (or not useful), and make this judgment stick?

Supremacist Courts“, Mark Steyn, National Review, 4 March 2013:

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Snapshots from the edge’s of western society, where change first appears

Snapshots by that acute and politically incorrect observer, Mark Steyn.  These are worth reading in full!

About antisemitism:

About the fading away of the right to free speech:

About our changing concepts of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood:

Does the health care bill mark an inflection point to American history?

Summary:  putting recent events in a historical context.

Many conservatives describe the health care bill in almost apocalyptic terms, a slippery slope on steroids (much as leftists do with climate change). Hat tip on the following quotations to Brad Delong.

  1. Mark Steyn, “Happy Dependence Day“, National Review Online:  “Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side . . .”
  2. Michael Steele, “The End Of Representative Government“, TPM:  “Today, America witnessed the first vote for the end of representative government.”
  3. Megan McArdle, “Life Under RomneyCare“, blog of The Atlantic:  “Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority?”
  4. And John Derbyshire, Calm Despair“, National Review Online, giving the inevitable “western civilization as a sinking ship” metaphor.

From Gordon R. Dickson’s book Necromancer:

This has been a transition period in history. It’s been a time of stress and strain, and in such times things tend to become dramatic. Actually, each generation likes to think of itself as the pivot point in history, that in its time the great decision is made which puts man either on the true road or the false. But things aren’t really that serious. The way of mankind is too massive to be kinked, suddenly; it only changes direction in a long and gradual bend over many generations.

The people writing these things seek to arouse fear.  Panicked sheep are easily controlled.  Let’s disappoint them.

We face nothing worse than previous generations of Americans.  We face nothing that cannot be handled by calm debate, careful evaluation of our problems and options, boldness only when necessary (but not waffling on those occasions), awareness that we’re all in this together, and that it’s a long game.

Today’s volleys in the domestic battle about Afghanistan

The battle continues, and heats up.  Prominent people are chaning sides.  Others double down, advocating that we expand the war.  The stakes are high.  Is the public paying attention?


  1. Three prominent conservatives turn against the war.
  2. General McChrystal expected to seek more troops
  3.  A debate in the Washington Post
  4. A clearer look at our alternatives
  5. The next chapter in Foust’s series about the case for Afghanistan
  6. Afterword and for more information

(1)  Three prominent conservatives turn against the war. 

I strongly recommend reading Peters article.

  1. Time to Get Out of Afghanistan“, George Will, op-ed in the Washington Post, 1 September 2009
  2. Trapping Ourselves in Afghanistan and Losing Focus on the Essential Mission“, Ralph Peters, Joint Force Quarterly, July 2009
  3. Mark Steyn, at National Review Online (muted objections, not explicit opposition)

(2)  Will DoD request more troops for Afghanistan?

U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Calls Situation ‘Serious’“, Washington Post, 1 September 2009 — “McChrystal Expected To Seek More Resources, But White House Is Wary.” Excerpt:

The administration has narrowly defined its goal as defeating al-Qaeda and other extremist groups and denying them sanctuary, but that in turn requires a sweeping counterinsurgency campaign aimed at protecting the Afghan population, establishing good governance and rebuilding the economy. 

Bernard Finel (American Security Project) on his blog calls this “Classic Doubletalk“:

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The media – a broken component of America’s machinery to observe and understand the world

Summary:  This post examines our broken mainstream media, a vital component of America’s observation-orientation-decision-action loop (the OODA loop).  Mark Steyn provides a a current illustration; Lewis Lapham shows that this results from a long period of decay.  At the end are links to other articles on this subject.

The apparatus by which America sees the world, the news feeds of the mainstream media, are broken.  Both its business model and its ability to function (in terms of meeting our needs).  These problems re-enforce one another.

A note about solutions

We can adapt to these, but it takes work.  Via the Internet one can access foreign news, such as the excellent range of British papers and English-editions of foreign press (e.g., Der Spiegel).  Most important, using the Internetone can read the works of those withdifferent opinions.   Or your can rely on comfortable sources, where seldom you’ll hear a disturbing word.  I suggest that the former will work better for you than the latter.

Or you can just read Fred Reed.  Such as his latest analysis of the current big news of the world:  “The Whole World Sucks, and Everybody Thinks its Gravity“.


(1)  Monday, the President ate a burger“, Mark Steyn, op-ed in Maclean’s, 21 May 2009 — “Maybe if they’d covered the love child instead of a fast food foray, papers wouldn’t be dying.”  I recommend reading it in full.  Excerpt:

John Edwards’ adultery was back in the news last week. Well, okay, “back” is probably not le mot juste, given that the former presidential candidate’s mistress cum campaign videographer wasn’t exactly front-page news even in the days when he was coming a strong second in the Iowa caucuses or being tipped as a possible vice-presidential nominee. Every editor knew the “rumours” (i.e., plausible scenario with mountains of circumstantial evidence), but, unlike, say, Sarah Palin’s daughter’s ex-boyfriend’s mother’s drug bust, this wasn’t one of those stories you need to drop everything for.

Only when the hard-working lads at the National Enquirer doorstepped Senator Edwards in the basement stairwell of the Beverly Hilton after a post-midnight visit to his newborn love child and forced him to take cover in the men’s room did the Los Angeles Times swing into action. Alas, it was to instruct its writers to make no comment on a story happening right under their own sniffy noses.

… The one-term southern senator was running on biography — son of a mill worker, happily married, stood devotedly by his wife during her cancer — and, although the press were aware the biography was false, they decided their readers didn’t need to know that. It’s not an Edwards scandal, it’s a media scandal.

… Edwards is history now, and Obama is President. And the other day he and Joe Biden visited a hamburger restaurant. In the Clinton years, the 8 a.m. news bulletin on National Public Radio would invariably begin: “The President travels today to [insert state here] to unveil his proposals on [insert issue here].”  If you’ve read A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Courtby Mark Twain, you’ll recall that Hank Morgan, the eponymous time-travelling New Englander, was much taken by the Court Circular published each week in Camelot:

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Reading recommendations – about demography

Important and interesting articles and reports published recently about demographics, one of the invisible yet almost irresistible forces re-shaping our world.

  1. Happy Warrior“, Mark Steyn, National Review, 21 April 2009 — A great little note about demography.
  2. The Graying of the Middle Kingdom Revisited“, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 22 April 2009
  3. Drunken Nation: Russia’s Depopulation Bomb“, Nicholas Eberstadt, World Affairs, Spring 2009 — Chilling reading about Russia’s demographic decline.


(1)    Happy Warrior“, Mark Steyn, National Review, 21 April 2009 — Excerpt:

Whenever I write about demography, I usually get a ton of responses from folks saying: What’s so bad about falling population? Japan, Belgium and the like are pretty congested: Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bit more elbow room? Sure. With the rise of mill towns in the south and the opening up of the west, the population of my small municipality in New Hampshire peaked in the 1820 census, declined till 1940 and still hasn’t caught up to where it was 200 years ago. But it didn’t matter. Because we were a self-contained rural economy with no welfare and no public debt.

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Demographic note for today…

For today’s demographic note we present the chipper consensus viewpoint of the UK government and the mainstream media, followed by a realistic perspective from Mark Steyn.

Warning on Britain’s grey population“, The Telegraph, 6 December 2008 — “Evidence of the challenges posed by the ageing population will be unveiled by Britain’s statistics chief this week.   Excerpt:

Karen Dunnell, the National Statistician, will bring together a wide range of evidence on the growing number of older people, and examine the changes this will bring to society and the economy.

It is the first time the National Statistician has focused on the issue in her “annual article”, which offers an in-depth examination of a particular aspect of Britain’s population figures.

At the same time, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will publish figures showing that the UK’s birth rate surged last year to a 30-year high, driven by a baby boom among immigrant families. Among all babies born in the UK, 23 per cent had mothers who were born abroad. Whereas British-born women have only 1.7 children each on average, the figure is 3.9 for Bangladeshi-born women in Britain, and almost five for Pakistani-born women.

For the actual report see:  “Ageing and Mortality in the UK“, National Statistician’s annual article on the population, Karen Dunnell,
Population Trends, Winter 2008, no 134, pp 6-23 .

For perspective on this we turn to “Sunset in the West”, Mark Steyn, National Review Online, 7 December 2008 — Excerpt:

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