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Good luck, Hopeychanger-in-Chief

As it was for Belshazzar, the writing’s on the wall. Some don’t seem to be paying attention.


 

090414_styneIf you know your P. G. Wodehouse, you’ll remember the passage in Right Ho, Jeeves in which Tom Travers is much preoccupied by the Exchequer’s claim upon him:

“Is he still upset about that income-tax money?” asks his nephew, Bertie Wooster.

“Upset is right,” replies Aunt Dahlia. “He says that Civilisation is in the melting-pot and that all thinking men can read the writing on the wall.”

“What wall?”

“Old Testament, ass,” snaps Aunt Dahlia. “Belshazzar’s feast.”

“Oh, that, yes,” says Bertie. “I’ve often wondered how that gag was worked. With mirrors, I expect.”

A lot of writing on the wall these days. A half-remembered quatrain from Jonathan Swift has been dancing around my brain in recent weeks:

A baited banker thus desponds,

From his own hand foresees his fall,

They have his soul, who have his bonds;

’Tis like the writing on the wall.

Indeed, ’tis. The very title of Swift’s poem, “The Run Upon the Bankers,” seems very archaic three centuries on. We don’t have “runs” on banks anymore. Instead, U.S. and European governments intervene to “save” them—whether they want to be saved or not. Back during the presidential primary campaign, there was one of those cringe-making questions about what the candidates considered their greatest weakness—to which the oleaginous John Edwards gave the even more cringe-making answer that his greatest weakness was that he was too passionate about helping poor people. And a couple of days later Barack Obama drolly observed that, if he’d known that was the kind of answer you were supposed to give, he’d have said his greatest weakness was that he wanted to help old ladies across the street, but that not all old ladies wanted to cross the street.

But that was then, and this is now. Now he prowls Wall Street, yanking old ladies across from the sunny side to walk in the shade with their blues on parade. Stuart Varney recounted the tale of an American bank forced against its will to accept government money from TARP (the “Toxic Asset Relief Program”) last fall under threat of a public audit. So it got dragged across the street. Recently, it tried to repay the money (with interest), only to be told by the government that they won’t accept it and, if the chairman persists, there will be “adverse” consequences. As Mr. Varney put it in the Wall Street Journal, the bank boss “sees the writing on the wall and he wants out.”

The “writing on the wall” is not the run on the bank feared by Swift’s banker but something worse: the annexation of the private sector by an all-controlling statism. Wall-wise, that’s the most immediate writing up there, the opening sentence, as it were. The image comes from the Book of Daniel, when Babylon’s king throws a wild party and, in the midst of his drunkenness, toasts the gods of gold, silver and various other commodities. No sooner has he done so than the gag with mirrors (as Bertie Wooster has it) appears on his plaster, spelling out with disembodied fingers the currency units “mene mene, tekel, upharsin,” and none of the seers Belshazzar keeps on the payroll has a clue what it portends.

Now the writing on the wall is back in fashion. In Banquo’s Ghosts, the new thriller by Rich Lowry and Keith Korman, it springs unbidden into the dreams of an unlikely undercover agent in Iran:

“He imagined he knew what Belshazzar must have felt when those words appeared on the wall during his feast, damning his worship of false gods:

“Mene. Mene. Tekel. Parsin.

“A half dollar, a half dollar, a penny, and two bits. Except Johnson didn’t need a Daniel to interpret this sign for him.

“He wrapped his arms around his queasy belly and sat buffeted in the night, the recesses of his mind calling up somehow that in Aramaic parsin had been a pun on Persian.”

It had. After all his A-list wise men have failed to divine the meaning on the masonry, the King calls Daniel the Jew to explain things, which Daniel does, very bluntly:

Mene: “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.”

Tekel: “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.”

Upharsin: “Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Within 24 hours, Belshazzar is slain and Darius the Mede is king. In Banquo’s Ghosts, it’s the West that hath been weighed in the balances and found wanting, and the Persian pun refers to the nuclear mullahs’ plans to advance the finishing of the Great Satan. That’s Meaning No. 2: the geopolitical writing on the wall. As the Iranian scientist crows to the pitiful American: “We are close to taking our place in the sun”—and you can’t stop us. His once sonorous platitudes ringing ever tinnier, President Obama was still traipsing from one Euroschmooze to the next—G20, NATO, EU—when the North Koreans lobbed their latest rocket over Japan, a “provocative” (in diplo-speak) act to which the Hopeychanger-in-Chief responded with a plea for “a world without nuclear weapons.”

Oh, phooey. North Korea is assisting the Iranians with their delivery systems, and the Iranians are promising to share their nukes with Sudan. Far from “a world without nuclear weapons,” we face the prospect of a world in which some of the wealthiest societies in history, from Canada to Norway to New Zealand, are incapable of defending their borders, while impoverished Third World basket cases, from North Korea to Sudan, go nuclear.

We’ll see how long that arrangement lasts.

A day after reading that passage in Banquo’s Ghosts, I encountered yet more writing on the wall. René Servoise, France’s former ambassador to Indonesia, issued a wake-up call to his somnolent compatriots about “la stagnation démographique”—that’s French for “hang on, isn’t that the crazy Steyn thesis that got those hate-mongers at Maclean’s hauled up last year before three of Canada’s many fine human rights commissions?” Why, yes, it is. Ambassador Servoise was attempting to contrast the “demographic stagnation” of the French with the resurgence of Islam:

“Warning. If native Frenchmen fail to be the most numerous, we will see that our days are numbered. If we fail to limit the number of immigrants, we will be judged as wanting in the scales of History. If we fail to affirm our national ambition, we will set the stage for the bursting apart of our nation.

“Remember. One day, in Babylon, on the wall of his palace, Belshazzar saw letters written in fire . . .

“For us today the warnings come daily on our TV screens. But no prophet dares translate them.”

Let us put aside the question of Islam, if only to ward off the “human rights” commissars for another week or two. The demographic question is the third and most important “writing on the wall.” Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, became one of the first Western leaders to raise the subject publicly, in the course of objecting to the Obama administration’s demand that its allies follow Washington down the path of massive spending and a ballooning national debt.

“Over the next decade,” Frau Merkel pointed out, “we will undergo a massive demographic change, and, therefore, borrowing is a greater burden for the future than in a country with a much more continuously growing population, as in the United States of America.”

Translation: America can rack up multi-trillion-dollar deficits and stick it to its kids and grandkids. But in Europe there are no kids and grandkids to stick it to—just upside- down family trees: in Germany, Spain and Italy, four grandparents have two children have one grandchild. The Financial Times noted last week that the demographic death spiral is a far greater threat to fiscal solvency than the present economic downturn. And yet, despite Germany, Japan and Russia already being in net population decline, the G20 had not a word to say about it.

The sums are bigger than in King Belshazzar’s day: mina mina, shekel, half-mina. Now it’s trillion trillion, billion, half-trillion. But throughout the advanced social democracies the upshot’s the same: demographically, the days of the kingdom are numbered; fiscally, we’ve been weighed in the balances and found wanting; and geopolitically, the Persians and others (no sign of any Medes) are beginning to divide up what’s still supposed to be a “unipolar” world.

Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia is right: once upon a time, you were certainly an ass if you didn’t know where “the writing on the wall” came from. It was part of the accumulated cultural inheritance: Handel and William Walton wrote oratorios about it. It was routinely alluded to, hither and yon: “No more his eager call / The writing’s on the wall,” as Judy Garland sang in A Star Is Born, music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Wodehouse’s pal Ira Gershwin. Rembrandt’s painting of Belshazzar’s Feast hangs in the National Gallery in a London all but oblivious to its significance, not least in G20 week. Today, I doubt one in a thousand Canadian high-schoolers would have a clue whence the expression derives. And one sign that the writing’s on the wall is when society no longer knows what “the writing on the wall” means.


 
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Good luck, Hopeychanger-in-Chief

  1. Today, I doubt one in a thousand Canadian high-schoolers would have a clue whence the expression derives. And one sign that the writing’s on the wall is when society no longer knows what “the writing on the wall” means.

    Yes, society is really going down the tubes when nobody remembers a bit of pointless trivia about the biblical origins of the 3,792nd most popular expression in the English language.

    • “Yes, society is really going down the tubes when nobody remembers a bit of pointless trivia about the biblical origins of the 3,792nd most popular expression in the English language.”

      Here’s another popular expression for you: Ignorance is bliss.

      • GRS: refusing to acknowledge wisdom, is the sign of a closed not to mention puerile mind….
        The Expression is NOT “Ignorance is Bliss!”, which you think means that being a pig and not knowing you are bound for slaughter is OK!
        The expression is “WHERE Ignorance is Bliss, ’tis folly to be Wise”. Can you understand the difference between your stupidly-truncated version, and the clever observation of the original? I’m guessing you’re probably laughing at the anachronistic use of “’tis”…
        So here’s one made especially for you…”Little things please little minds…”

    • Uh, right. Education is pointless when you haven’t the sense to use what you’ve been taught. Europe has been hiding behind the skirts of the United States for 60 years now, and the result has been atrophy of the muscle and spirit of the continent. Look into your crystal ball and see if you can divine a bright future for nations who don’t have children, and import their menial labor from societies who view them with contempt. One day the servants are going to come in through the front door rather than the servant’s entry and what they carry with them won’t be tea trays; it’ll be knives.

    • Oh, goodness. Once again, a leftist troll is first to comment on a conservative article. Do they get paid for it? They are waging warfare–by derailing the conversation, they make reading conservative websites less enjoyable, thus driving down readership, upsetting conservatives, etc. For them we are the enemy.

      If only they were this ruthless with, you know, our actual enemies.

      • It’s all part of my clever leftist scheme to derail Mr. Steyn. The compelling logic and laser-like focus of Mr. Steyn’s polemics represent a serious threat to my socialist world-view.

        • He is indeed a formidable logician. But it’s true he can be dull.

          • I was being sarcastic about the logic, but anyone who likes Wodehouse has some redeeming qualities.

          • Hear hear re: Wodehouse. Actually I have this secret suspicion that Steyn is actually a good guy manqué whose misfortune it was to have his politics crystallise at the age of 17; then the intoxication of 9/11 and the neo-con trumpet; lately pure Flucht nach vorn. Essentially it’s “Tosca” played on the kazoo.

          • “Tosca” played on the kazoo… beautiful!

      • They feel threatened by the fact Steyn’s articles get 20 times more comments than any other. So they write inane and senseless attack comments, interspersed among the comments generated by functional brain cells, trying and trying and trying to derail the conversation. Eventually they resort to insults.

    • Yeah, I don’t understand why Thomas Jefferson spent all that time reading the ancient Latin authors. I mean, all those guys are dead, what could he possibly have learned from reading their works?

      “Pointless trivia” to your mind would likely include any knowledge of Shakespeare, or world history, or most forms of philosophy.

      Of course, that’s what humanism gets you. YOU, the single individual, are all that matters. HIstory past or future are worthless, as long as you can find pleasure.

      • Your comment put me in mind of a nice poem that fits Steyn like a glove:

        Mentitur qui te vitiosum, Zoile, dicit.
            Non vitiosus homo es, Zoile, sed vitium.
                      –Martial 11.92

        Very apt, n’est-ce pas?

        • But is it better than this one that applies to you, Jack
          “Bagal may Quran e dil may shaitan, Gandu Chodu Miran Bahenchod”
          Try to wear your learning lightly, Jack, as if it were an Bul; don’t constantly shoot your cuff just to show it off, lest you be stood accused of being as pretentious as Barry Possumus!

          • I was just trying to figure out why Thomas Jefferson spent all that time reading the ancient Latin authors.

    • It’s a very famous story. At one time, most people went to church or Sunday school, where it would have been read once or twice. At one time, colleges taught the King James Bible as literature. At one time, people would have read a poem or book or two that used that phrase, seeing as how it’s super common. Losing a large chunk of Western civ — willingly — is sad.

    • I see this poster has the critical reasoning ability of a frog hand puppet.

      • I aim to please.

    • Leave it to a liberal to totally miss the point of the article and focus on the irrelevant.

    • It would be interesting to see what you would include in your canon that any culturally literate individual ought to know. Somehow I get the feeling that I already know, since I endured much of my mispent youth in public schools.

  2. Ah, yes, “a bit of pointless trivia” about one of the most important stories in history recorded by Jews in the most popular “book” known to humankind. That this “bit” survives to give real hope, not hopeychangey, is a testament to the power of God. “Are you wiser than Daniel ?” (Ezekiel 28:3), Critical Reasoning?

    • Um, CR wasn’t dismissing the Bible so much as Steyn’s opportunistic use of a lesser known Biblical tale to beat us over the head with.

      • “Lesser known Biblical tale”? The man has an entire book named after him. In Tanakh study, there is nothing “lesser.” All is of import. It is left to us, with influence from the same God who gave Daniel the answer, to discern the meaning.

        • For me the most important text remains 1 Kings 6.4, “And for the house he made windows of narrow lights.” Night and day I ponder its meaning, seeking the key of prophecy therein. Narrow lights, mark you. Windows for the house.

          • How gratifying that you ponder Solomon’s Temple, a great wonder in its dimension and beauty. Since Scripture is of interest to you, though you do seem to use it mockingly, perhaps your anger may be soothed by reading Song of Songs (Solomon), also beautiful in its structure. However, taking verses out of context is really not advisable if you truly wish to learn. So please find time to read entire chapters and books, if not to strengthen you either in your belief or your cynicism, then at least for knowledge’s sake. These writings have been around a long time and are well worth the study, Jack.

          • The beauty of classical texts is that you can do both: study them thoroughly, live with them, assimilate them; or quote them for ad hoc merriment, in or out of context.

            The latter is what we generally do when we reference “The writing on the wall.” That is a valid way to use Scripture, and there’s no need to get defensive about it. It may be better to reread, to ponder, and to absorb a text, but the two approaches are not mutually exclusive.

        • God doesn’t exist, you silly twit. At least, no God that goes around appointing Special Tribes to be Chosen People. Those are just myths, fables, cultural stories, believed only by sheeple preyed upon by con-men known in technical parlance as “priests”. Go read jesusneverexisted.com (and by the way, Moses never existed, either…)

      • “Opportunistic use of a lesser known Biblical tale to beat us over the head with.”

        Huh? It is called writing Mr. Stockholm Syndrome. You use an interesting fact to illustrate your thesis. What a genius you are.

        Once again: do you have anything to say about the actual contents of the article? I’m waiting.

        • I’m sure the actual contents of the article will show up eventually.

      • Lesser known? To whom? It was read in nearly ever Sunday school I attended at some point, and there were little children’s books about it and 15 minute cartoons. I knew that story like the back of my hand when I was five years old.

        Daniel is one of the most famous Biblical characters. Daniel and the lion’s den? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace? Does any of this ring a bell?

        Ironically enough, it wasn’t just Beltshazzar toasting false gods that got him in trouble. He dug in his treasuries and pulled out the sacred bowls and goblets and other utensils that he had plundered from the Temple in Jerusalem, and used them to toast false gods. He was ignorant and arrogant and irreverent, and he was punished for it. I find that very fitting, really, for modern life.

        • “Lesser known” To whom?”

          Well, according to Steyn: “Today, I doubt one in a thousand Canadian high-schoolers would have a clue whence the expression derives.”

  3. Well, I have to say that both Daniel and Mark Steyn have a talent for making up weird interpretations for seemingly random bits of information, gluing them together, and calling the result prophetic. The difference being that Daniel was not paid by the word.

    • You’ve gotta be creative when you’re setting out to belabour the same bloody point, week after week after week.

      • When the house is on fire and you’re trying to wake a sleeping man, you keep kicking until he wakes up.

        • Here’s the thing, I’m a paid subscriber to Maclean’s, not some sleeping dude. And while I enjoy a diversity of opinion, I will feel less inclined to keep paying for the magazine if they keep dedicating ink to a columnist who is apparently determined to rehash the same hyperbolic polemic on a weekly basis. While Steyn is a very capable writer and has some real wit, it’s simply getting tiresome to hear – yet again – about the brown/Islamic hordes storming the gates of our nice civilizations because we’ve surrendered our manhood and pride to human rights commissions. Or something close to that.

          • Thanks.

            I’ve never managed to make it through one and I was wondering what all the bloody fuss was about.

          • LOL!

  4. A challenge to our trollish “friends”: do you have a counter-argument to Steyn’s thesis? Or is snobbery all you are able to produce?

    • Oh, we can counter-argue all night, Sorge. But why bother? Steyn doesn’t. When in Rome . . .

      • Desperate now, using tu quoque. Your post seems to mean “You say I’m not arguing, well, *STEYN* isn’t arguing!”. I was very impressed by this reasoning once, but my excuse is that I was six years old at the time. What is yours, Jack MItchell?

  5. They may not know what the writing on the wall is, but they understand “tea-bagging”. What an advanced society. I understand Mark Steyn but fortunately for me, I did not understand Anderson Cooper’s gay termonology. Apparently, Mr. Steyn will not have to fill his column with gay slang, so modern man will understand his message.

    • Marylin;

      I had to look up ‘tea bagging’ too. I’d bet that to them, we are a couple of unsophisticated rubes.

      • I, for one, don’t think that about you at all. However, I’d sure be curious to know if you’re the same fellow who wrote the following:

        “…Simply, we cannot allow our societies to become majority Muslim, or even allow a strong Muslim minority to live within us. If this violates some of our most cherished values, then perhaps we should not cherish those values anymore. 5. Strengthen free societies: Besides reversing demographic trends, we should work to make our countries strong. This includes the economic, social, and military spheres. 6. Weaken Islamic Societies: Similarly, we must work hard to weaken Islamic societies; for one thing, poor people are too busy surviving to kill anybody. 7. Destroy Islam: Finally, if we weaken Islam, we must go on with the job and destroy it. It is such a dangerous ideology, it should not be allowed to survive: it might resurface, and with it the barbarism we face today.
        Future generations ought not be burdened by this abomination. Sorge L Diaz, A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN FRIEND”

        • Nope. That is my name, but not somebody who knows me–for one thing, I’ve never been a born-again Christian.

          What I believe is that our societies, in their present form, are doomed. We’ll see what comes behind. I live my life and hope for the best. But right now I’m pessimistic, much like Mr. Steyn.

          • So, there’s two of you with the same name – and odd quirk of using the middle initial – who are similarly drawn to comment on blogs about a perceived Islamic threat to Western civilization? Amazing.

          • No. That’s somebody smearing me. Why, I don’t know*.

            By the way, I had to google my name to find that. So, instead of arguing the point, you googled my name to try to find some dirt on me. What a dirtbag you are.

            But ‘knowing’ people like you, I have a pretty good idea. I will start using pseudonyms from now on.

    • Another day..another chance to learn something new and wonderful. After Ann Coulter’s column noted numerous snarky references to “tea bagging” on MSNBC, I also had to look it up. I thought I was pretty well informed, but I am now much better informed and can now hold my own in a diverse group of partiers…no pun intended.

      • Floridabob;

        During the 1964 presidential campaign, the Goldwater campaign made an ad about “A Golden Shower” following from the sky, or something like similar… Well, Golden Shower has another meaning. Look it up. I had to.

        The reference is from the book “A Glorious Disaster”, by Goldwater’s campaign treasurer. The book is excellent.

      • Floridabob,

        Didn’t you find it interesting that the schtick used by Maddow et al is to make a phrase that hitherto did not even come from the mouths of the “Tea Partiers”, transmogrigy it into “Tea Bagging”, and snicker over some obscure sex act found mainly in San Francisco’s bath houses?

        And dear lord the little ones over on Salon.com seem to know all about it!

        Goodness gracious alive.

    • Er… you don’t have to be gay to be into teabagging, puh-lease. If Steyn gets a platform for his “Hopeychanger” shtick, don’t be a spoilsport when others use their platforms to ridicule suddenly-fiscally-conservative teabaggers.

      As for where the term “the writing on the wall” came from, is it not more important to know *what* the expression means even if you’re so lowly as to not know its origins? I don’t begrudge those who have the learning or background to know from whence it came, but it doesn’t make them better or smarter.

      Now, to split hairs, sometimes knowing the origins is as important as knowing the meaning. I can’t stand it when I see people type “tow the line”…

      • or wait with “baited breath” :)

  6. Mark uses a well known text from our historical and cultural roots to make a point. We know the phrase but have no idea what it means. Our education system now produces children with no sense of our history (less than 1/3 know about Hitler) while it proposes things like courses on how to use “other media, like the internet and texting with cell phones. Since children are already well ahead of the teachers on those things there success as educators is assured.
    People like “Critical Reasoning” and “Mitchell” don’t have the ability to argue against the points Steyn makes only how he does it. That is because Steyn is correct and they flounder for some response to facts they cannot deal with.

    • Hmm . . . yes, the facts . . . those facts escape me in this piece. Perhaps you can cite some, “Rob H” (great nickname, btw)? Then we can go through them with a fine-toothed comb. After all, there is nothing worse than a windbag, right? Except a pathetic windbag at the end of his career, still desperately trying to convince his audience that he and they both matter. I refer, of course, to Christopher Hitchens.

      • I refer of course, to Christopher Hitchens.

        LOL! Look for that quotation in my upcoming book of essays, Why Mitchell Matters ;^)

        • I look forward! : ) Meanwhile I must send you a copy of Mitchell Alone: The Beginning of the World as We Know It.

    • Whose historical and cultural roots? Whose historical and cultural routes? There is a big bloody difference between students not knowing who Hitler was and not knowing that the origins of an idiom come from a Bible story. That’s the issue with Steyn– so smart, so witty, and so specious.

  7. For a story about reading the writing on the wall, this was a pretty confusing essay. I suspect Mr. Steyn is making up for his lack of a substantial point (har har) with unnecessarily ornate language.

    • Guess “Confused” is “Easily Confused”. Better to stay on left wing sites which cater to the lowest common denominator.

    • No confusion here.

      It boils down to this . . . . Mark Steyn is Sean Hannity equipped with “Bartlett’s Quotations” and a better talent for turns of phrase.

  8. Heavens to Mergatroid, said snagglepuss.

    My 6-year old knows that tale.

    Grief.

  9. Jack at 7:00 p.m. says: “then the intoxication of 9/11” – what exactly does this mean other than a sad attempt at cleverness? The euphoria and excitement of seeing people incinerated?

    “SAN RAMON, Calif. — Thomas Burnett Jr. called his wife four times from hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 — the last time minutes before the plane crashed in an open field — to tell her that he and other passengers were “going to do something.”

    He didn’t say goodbye.

    By Michelle Locke Associated Press Posted on: Thursday, September 13, 2001.”

    Compassion, Jack, compassion.

    • Yes, I did feel there was widespread euphoria and excitement on the right after 9/11. Nothing to do with compassion whatsoever. Part of it was the thrill of disaster, but most of it was the joy of finally being able to let ‘er rip with the worst side of human nature. Glenn Beck is trying to bring back the good old days of Sept. 12 2001, but I fear they’re never coming back and the fascistic right will wither in the wind of history.

      • You are one truly demented, sick puppy if you really believe the garbage you spewed. Get therapy before it’s too late for you.

        • Oh, I know you’d love to give me therapy in Gitmo, Karen. Too bad your side has lost.

          • Oh ho ho…

            Candians and Euro ninnies have lost. They’re are all but cooked. True enough.

            But “we” have not lost. Yet.

            Anything is possible. And no doubt we now get to take an express elevator to Europeanization crappola of the bovinization of homo sapiens on behalf of some putatively larger cause. All tyranny is soft on paper, even the soft core, soft porn kind.

            But we aren’t beaten just yet. The hallmark is speech, not getting the living hell taxed out of some and then “tax breaks” for the 50% of the populace not even paying Federal taxes.

            That’s aboinable, true. But not quite the stake in the heart the leftists think it is just yet.

          • I meant that your attempt to impose a police state on America and go around nuking your enemies has failed. Sorry. Keep the arm band, though, it might come in handy in about 50 years.

          • Be reasonable, Jack. How often do you get the chance to interact with a cracker from South Carolina?

        • Jack’s rubber
          and you’re glue
          what you say
          bounces off him
          and sticks to you.

          I was as horrified and out for Islamist blood as the next guy on 9/12/01, but have since taken a chill pill. Is a threat still there? Yes. Is Glenn Beck the answer to that threat? Noooooooooooooooooooooooo.

          • oops, meant to reply to Karen’s post, not yours JM.

    • Mitchell does say a lot of stupid, senseless and heartless things. It’s not unusual. He’s particularly pleased about dead Americans.

      • sf
        Look out for the beam in your own eye – hypocrite.
        Speaking of hypocrites, i wonder if the great defender of the faith [ and our cultural purity ] – Steyn – ever sets foot on holy ground; or is he yet another con, who simply uses religious symbols merely to advance his theories of how the west was lost?

      • You’re so friggin’ dumb, sf, you can’t even read other people’s comments.

        I wasn’t at all pleased, I was and am outraged that the deaths of 3000 innocent people were instantly turned into a propaganda tool by the Bush adminsitration, Fox news, Mark Steyn, and yourself, in about that order.

        In other words, the victims were cynically exploited and their deaths turned into occasions for rejoicing on the far-right. It is RIGHT WING AMERICANS who still, to this day, look back with nostalgia to Sept. 12. I look back to the whole incident with horror.

        • Genius Jack, you are horrified by the ‘incident’, yet your outrage is directed toward the man who is constitutionally responsible for the safety of the citizens of the United States. Clinton had no effective response to repeated attacks on Americans by terrorists. Bush, despite his deficiencies, stood up at last and took the fight to the terrorists.

          Our enemies during the cold war (won by that knuckle-dragging right-winger, Reagan) had a name for you – useful idiot.

          • On the morning after the attack, the White House was already planning how to use the public’s shock and outrage in order to fight a war of choice against a different enemy. For years afterward, “terror alerts” and whatnot were used to control the news cycle; not to mention the cheap-ass rhetoric about “softness towards our enemies,” which you are apparently still addicted to.

            It’s a question of whether you are happy to have your self-righteous rage be cynically exploited by the politicians you worship. Many Americans were; the rest apparently didn’t notice when they were being treated like stupid children. You still haven’t. But then I keep forgetting that the average Steyn fan is not actually a fascist, just very much below average intelligence. All I can say is, know your limits.

          • Jackie, you are obviously unaware of your own limits and have abandoned your once-familiar territory of mere sophism, bound for the nirvana of the full-blown dunce.

          • Even your insults are imbecile.

          • The insults of a malignant narcissist, of course, are sheer genius in Jackie’s own mind.

          • Malignant narcissism . . . you probably mean “malign,” but whatever. Your gravatar is a huge potato and your politics are somewhere to the right of Louis XIV. Malignity? Check. Narcissism? Check. Wit? Check back.

          • Malignant means precisely that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malignant_narcissism

            “…malignant narcissism (also known as Narcissistic supply) as a syndrome characterized by a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), antisocial features, paranoid traits, and ego-syntonic aggression. An absence of conscience, a psychological need for power, and a sense of importance (grandiosity) are often symptomatic of Malignant Narcissism. ”

            Check.

            My politics align with the founders of the greatest nation, the United States of America, who proclaimed unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They designed a system of limited government with checks, balances and innumerated powers . I am a constitutionallist. Your unwarranted assertion that my views are to the right of the French monarch is completely erroneous and displays an utter lack of knowledge. But none of this matters since you are always correct in your own mind. Your ego demands it.

          • Your republic has become a form of Tsarism under your very nose. The POTUS was not supposed to be the initiator of laws, only their executor; he was not supposed to start wars on his own initiative; he was meant to be a figurehead. Instead, you quickly ended up with an elected monarchy that was twice as interventionist as the Hanoverians — you went back 100 years to the Stuarts! And now you are a monarchy in all but name, with your “First Ladies” (=Queens) and imperial architecture, your pledging of loyalty to a mere mortal, your disgusting self-abasement (in the name of liberty, no less). The US Constitution is a mockery of democracy; you have systematically shed your dignity as free men. But this is not a betrayal of your “Founding Fathers,” it is the inevitable result of building a state on first principles; and a fitting reward for your disloyalty during the Revolution.

          • Re: malignant narcissism, forgive me for thinking you knew what you were talking about. “Malignant” means “getting worse”; “malign” means “of evil intent.” I thought you must mean the latter, since you have no idea whether my narcissism is getting better or worse; your diagnosis is, shall we say, inexact. But then it seems the criterion for being a narcissist is to get the better of you at every flame; naturally it could not be your own incoherence, it must be my fault, right? Ergo I’m a narcissist. Well, all I can say is that by that definition the world is crammed with us narcissists, gazing fondly into the bottomless pool at whose bottom you gnaw your barnacles.

          • What a pompous twit.

          • That’s all you got, eh?

          • It’s more than enough, eh?

          • Not at all, eh? You’ve managed to call me a useful idiot, a dunce, a narcissist, and a pompous twit. Looks like you have nothing to say.

          • Well, since I’ve been prompted, let’s add boring pedant, eh?

          • Ooooh, now that cuts close to the bone. My, you’re witty, Mr. Fasco-tater.

          • First of all, I apologize for misspelling ‘enumerated’ in one of my replies.

            Second, I wonder how you manage to see to the bottom of a bottomless pool.

            Third, barnacles gnaw much more frequently than they are gnawed.

            Fourth, why is it that you, from your lofty intellectual perch, care at all for the incoherencies of (sarcasm notwithstanding) a witless, imbecilic fascist, er, fasco-spud? You appear to be a yo-yo attached by a string to my middle finger. I twitch it and you return. Are you completely under the control of an intellectual inferior?

            Twitch.

        • You said:
          “I meant that your attempt to impose a police state on America and go around nuking your enemies has failed. Sorry. Keep the arm band, though, it might come in handy in about 50 years.”
          The internment of Japanese Americans and the bombing of Hiroshima happened under the auspices of your (?) side, Roosevelt and Truman…. Yes ?

      • It’s not easy bein’ green
        Having to spend each day
        The color of the leaves
        When I think it could be nicer
        Bein’ red or yellow or gold
        Or something much more colorful like that
        It’s not easy bein’ green
        It seems you blend in
        With so many other ordinary things
        And people tend to pass you over
        ‘Cause you’re not standing out
        Like flashy sparkles on the water
        Or stars in the sky
        But green’s the color of spring
        And green can be cool and friendly like
        And green can be big like a mountain
        Or importan like a river or tall like a tree
        When green is all there is to be
        It could make you wonder why
        But, why wonder, why wonder?
        I’m green and it’ll do fine
        It’s beautiful and I think
        it’s what I want to be
        Kermit, 1978

        • Haud facile vireo: foliorum forte colorem
             praebere quis gaudet numina si prohibent
          ne rubeam, neque aurescam, quod saepe cupivi,
             neque fiam croceus, vel itaque aetherius?

          (Literally:

          “Not easily at all am I green: the leaves’ colour by chance
          Who would rejoice to present, if the gods prohibit
          That I should be red, and that I should be gold, what I have often desired,
          And that I should be saffron-yellow, or in such a manner heavenly?”
          )

        • Thanks for the poem! Both the Latin and English versions of your Kermit-inspired verse are an interesting twist on the original child-friendly version by Henson.

  10. I was going to skip over this article, until I saw that it was written by Mark Steyn. Very good article. I have finally learned to skip over any and all Jack Mitchell’s comments which are consistantly tiresome.

    • Skipping them is an exercise in eye dexterity.

      • A shame that dexterity doesn’t spill over into your replies to them.

  11. Jack Mitchell, since your too lazy to look for facts yourself try this reference on Muslim British born university students. 40% of Muslim students said it was unacceptable for Muslim men and women to associate freely. Two in five Muslims at university support the incorporation of Islamic sharia codes into British law.The research found that a third of Muslim students supported the creation of a world-wide caliphate or Islamic state. Kafeel Ahmed, who drove a flaming jeep into a building at Glasgow airport last year and died of his burns, is believed to have been radicalised while studying at Anglia Ruskin university, Cambridge.
    These are British born muslim university students. Also you might have trouble saying the Centre for Social Cohesion is right wing.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4407115.ece

    • I’m too lazy to . . . write an article for myself to comment on. Is that the new trend?

  12. “[O]nce upon a time, you were certainly an ass if you didn’t know where ‘the writing on the wall’ came from. It was part of the accumulated cultural inheritance: Handel and William Walton wrote oratorios about it.”

    And, back in the early Sixties, even a country western singer (Johnny Cash) was sufficiently versed in the Bible to be able to sing a song about it – and audiences in the most remote backwoods hamlets of Tennessee would have recognized the story instantly.

  13. What on Earth are you talking about? Steyn is looking at everything through a religio-tribal end-times lens. I’m merely pointing that out, and working with his logic.

    Maybe you’d understand this better if you read Ha’aretz more often. Or the J-Post.

    For the record, because you have completely failed to understand my point (or recognize my point-of-view), it seems I must state it explicitly: I think all tribalism is foolish, the human family is one family, and the whole kerfuffle over Jews/Christians/Moslems is nuts. Steyn takes a side in that kerfuffle, and his own cultural background has something to do with that. If you didn’t recognize that my tongue was distending my cheek during my previous post, take another look. I pretty much made it plain in its last paragraph.

    • The typical blame-the-reader-for-not-understanding-your-poignant-prose type of guy, aincha, Conan. Talk about deterioration of discourse. Though not in agreement with Jack, I appreciate his obvious intelligence and ability to get his point across without 40 pounds of blather. Learn from him, Conan.

    • Conan, Steyn’s thesis essentially boils down to this:

      When there’s a war going on, not picking a side means you simply become collateral damage.

      • The problem, Brick, is drawing the conclusion, as Steyn seems to have done, that the “war” is with the entire Muslim world. Hence his obsession with the relative breeding rates of Muslims and Christians. Certainly, we have to hunt down terrorists. And I agree that Islamic totalitarianism is a real and lasting danger, since it has a basis in the Qu’ran, which basically repeats the meme “Believe in the One God and that Mohammad is his profit, or burn in hell for ever and ever!!” over and over again. But (a) not all Muslims take this at face value, thank goodness, (b) waging war on host populations of Muslims to get at a few terrorists just causes greater recruitment to terrorist ranks, so “police action” is probably a better operational guide than “war” when it comes to fighting terrorism, and (c) the principal way forward would seem to be to wage a war of ideas, since bad ideas are at the root of the problem — rather than a war of bombs or of competitive baby-making, in some kind of crazed attempt to outbreed “them” on an already grossly overpopulated planet. Steyn’s whole approach seems insane to me, and yes, I do think it has to do with his apocalyptic Jewish neocon perspective.

        If I were a policy-maker fighting the Talibanization of the Middle East, I would do a bunch of things… e.g. put heavy pressure on the Saudis to stop funding madrassahs in Pakistan… but one core strategic action I would take would be to mount a massive information campaign that directly calls bullshit on religion. I would encourage to stop believing this ridiculous claim of believers-to-heaven, infidels-to-hell by educating them on science, history, and comparative mythology.

        Now if only I could find a way to say that in a pithy sentence or two, Lynda might be happier. Jack is indeed far better at brevity than I, and obviously very bright. Kudos to him, and apologies for my verbosity all round.

      • Er, I meant “prophet”, not “profit”. Shame this blogging system doesn’t allow writers to edit their typos. Though there’s a certain charm in using “profit” in connection with megalomaniac religious leaders…

      • Yes, so true. I’ve had the collateral damage experience in the workplace.

        You can either be a participant or a victim.

  14. “in Europe there are no kids”

    Mark Steyn is always amazing.

    • He doesn’t get out much. Or perhaps they don’t let him out much.

  15. Another absolutely great piece, Mark Steyn! Yes, the handwriting’s on LOTS of walls and BIG TIME!! Some might call it grafitti, others, “gangsta art,” but all the signs are visible. We can even read the tea leaves (left over from countless tea parties….)

    Things are getting mighty scary!! Obamarama is engulfing us….

  16. Wow, I’m really late to reading this and replying, but Conan you are the “Mr. Protocol of the Elders” that others note here. I like to criticize Steyn/Fox etc for being hysterical, and then you say shit like “conflating the west with the interests of Jewry.” First of all, that “Jewry” term smacks of unnecessary racial grudge if not outright incitation. I actually agree with you in a snotty way that the way to “win over/modernize/pacify” radical Islamists is through a battle of memes of the free vs the dogmatic, but you have too much racial f-ed up baggage attached to this, that is not needed for your argument and puts off those who aren’t a fan of targeting groups, no matter WHAT their race/creed etc is. This is proof that the left can be just as anti-semitic as the right. Trying to make peace with radical Islam by bashing Jews is both cowardly and a cheap-ass version of peace.

    • Har, har, har. Har, har, har, har, har-de har.

      Har, har, har.

      What is it about y’all? Did you not read through my whole post, or the follow-up? Do you not recognize irony even when it is laboriously pointed out to you in plain English?

      If you know anything at all about what’s going on in Israel, you know what it is that motivates the settlers in Judea and Samaria. If you are a Jew or have Jewish friends or even just have a reading habit that strays beyond Sunday cartoons, you will realize that Zionism is motivated by an intense familial tribalism, and that such tribalism is the root and core of Judaism. If you are not a victim or religious dogma, you will realize that religion is nothing more than a means of generating tribal fealty, a way of generating a tribal community of narrative and common adherence to whatever caste of priests have taken on the role of semi-deified Carriers of the Holy Narrative. This is as true of Judaism as of every other religion that claims divine and exclusive truth. And Judaism conflates tribalism and religion so intimately that many of the fiercest partisans of Jewish identity are Jews who are not even believers in G-d. Does mentioning any of this make a guy (a) an anti-Semite, or (b) a radical Zionist, or (c) whatever cartoon of meaning you divine from my (I thought obviously) ironic previous post, in which I mocked Steyn for his bizarre proposition that we should interpret the world as an us-against-them struggle of “the West” (Christianity and Zion) against “Islamists” and then attempt to “win” this struggle by outbreeding “them”? These ideas are straight from the early 20th century. They are stupid ideas, even crazy ideas, in several dimensions, IMHO.

      Rather than attempting to slap a label on this writer, try imagining how we might peacefully defuse the ever-ticking bomb of religious-dogma-based tribalism in any of its pernicious forms. What we need, in my view, is an informational push to bring about a refreshed Enlightenment, and it’s as needed amongst the setters of Hebron as amongst the vicious f**kheads plotting suicide bombs in Islamo-world. Religious tribalism is the problem, a problem with more than one incarnation, and neither war nor competitive breeding games are the solution to that problem.

      • I would’ve gone “The neo-con narrative is inherently Trotskyist, ascribing the actions of the “bad” “Muslims” to their religion and, broadly, ideology, rather than what is bred in their bones, as us conservatives would have it. Racist? If Robertson Davies gets shortlisted for the Booker Prize for saying what I just said, I feel I’m on safe ground here.”

        Near as I can tell Steyn’s genius plan is to replace the economically productive “Muslim” immigrants with Rastafarians from Jamaica and Tamil Tigers from Sri Lanka, who within a generation will magically transform into gay feminist non-CO2 producing PhDs. I’m not sold.

        • Interesting, but unclear. What exactly do you mean (or what do you think Davies meant) by “bred in their bones”, and how would this inform your strategy for dealing with Islamofascism?

  17. Conan, edit, edit, edit. Verbosity. Tedious.

    • Lynda, I’m terrible at editing my own stuff. What do you say you give me a hand? Rewrite what I had to say in just a few short sentences – capture the meaning using fewer words. Be a faithful editor, though. Don’t mock, misinterpret, or misrepresent what I wrote. Just say it shorter and better.

      • When working with a writer and after my having hand-delivered a script which had been sent to him for publicity endorsement, he asked, “What did you think of it?” I replied, “My hands have been defiled.” Afraid my reaction would be the same in redacting your screeds, Conan.

        • Oh, but a professional would never let their differences of opinion get in the way, Lynda. Look, the people who work for the American Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute don’t shy away from helping Exxon-Mobil lie to people about the soundness of the science behind mainstream climate change prognostications, thus imperilling entire future generations and much of the biodiversity of the planet in the process of manufacturing the carefully planned Big Lie of “climate skepticism”, so why would you have a problem with translating a minor irony-packed screed into plain English?

          I’m mostly just curious as to whether you actually understood what I was trying to say. Not at all sure you did.

  18. Damn good article.

    It’s ironic that the selfishness of our times has led to a population implosion, and that it is precisely this that will finish us. It is even more ironic that so many people think population growth is the problem.

    I go now to continue raising the ones who will have to defend our society in its final days (including the leftist freeloaders here). They won’t succeed, but perhaps I can teach them to put up a good fight and go down with honour.

    • Thanks for sharing your paranoia and bigotry, Gaunilion. Good to know you’re raising another generation of paranoid bigots to replace you in the fullness of (end-) times.

  19. Mr. Steyn needn’t condescend to the entire Canadian population under 35 simply because we live in an increasingly secular society, where
    a) it is quite likely that, if one has a working knowledge of a holy book , it may well not be the Old or ‘New” Testament
    b) it is even more likely that one has no knowledge of a holy book at all, except perhaps for the basic tales that have steeped into our culture, Cain & Abel, Samson, Noah and the Nativity being some of the better-known ones, even to godless atheists ;)
    Also, to be perfectly honest, why does it matter if this ‘demographic’ shift leaves us with more immigrant workers than native-born, why does it matter if the dominant religion ceases to be Christianity and becomes Islam, why does it matter if wealthy European countries have fewer children and accept more immigrants? THis is not bad, or stupid, it is good planning. There is a tipping point where the earth can no longer support an ever increasing population. We have not reached it.. yet. But we will in my lifetime, if not in Mr. Steyn’s. As anyone who has ever taken a public-school geography course knows, population growth goes in cycles, first with little to no growth due to high birth rates, but high infant mortality rates and short life expectencies (think Somalia), then a huge jump in growth as more wealth and medical care is available, but the same number of children are being born, people just aren’ t dying at 14. (think Zimbabwe, Brazil, Mexico…) then growth tapers off as people have access to contraception, good health care and more money. Fewer children, longer life expectancies (think Western Europe circa 1980, or modern Canada) Then growth becomes negative as people continue to live long, but have very few children for whatever reason(think Italy, France) All societies go through this cycle. As Western Europe and North America reaches the third or fourth stages, Africa, Asia and South America reach the second stages and eventually, the third. So whilst it is true that there will be a ‘demographic shift’, it is not a matter to be concerned over, indeed it is natural, and vital for the survival of the human race on a planet with finite resources.

  20. What time do they pass out the medication here ? At the G&M they’ve already made the rounds twice.

    And I do recommend Mr. Steyn’s occasional effort at an obituary. They make up for all the rest of the drivel.

    But I guess since he started filling in for Rush he doesn’t have much time.

  21. I just posted the following comment on the Spectator magazine’s “Coffee Houser’s Wall’ blog. Just in case the moderator spikes it, I replicate it here to let Mark know that he is sorely missed by long-standing Speccie Readers:

    “For those who may have missed it, may I commend this seminal piece by Mark Steyn, in McCleans:

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/16/good-luck-hopeychanger-in-chief/2/

    It would be impertinent of me to extract any section, as it needs to be read in full to savour it.

    His dancing pen and biblical allusions applied to today’s madness is a joy for anyone who enjoys good writing; once again it reminds us of just what was lost when they let Mark slip away from this once esteemed conservative magazine and handed much of its column inches to leftie propagandists ‘in order to understand the enemy’. Who among the regular readers of the Spectator didn’t understand the enemy before this ludicrous policy was implemented, I ask? And what is there to understand that isn’t as plain as the nose on your face? It can be summed up in three words “Socialism is Toxic!” The solution can be summed up in five words: “Get them out of office!” Why do we need leftie writers pumping their apologist gossip from these columns and the editorial staff pandering to them week after week?

    Thank goodness that others have the sense to hire Mark’s quill so that we can continue to enjoy it elsewhere. If it were not for the stalwart conservative commentariat on these blogs I would abandon the Spectator altogether. It’s frippery, ‘inclusiveness’ and toffee-nosed commercialism is symptomatic of a lost generation.”

  22. How clever and verbose most of these postings are. It’s really a shame that they amount to meaningless drivel. Steyn makes some valid points, but so what. I’ve got it……we’ll slash away at each other on some posting board? Yea, that’s going to change things. Blah blah blah……….. I mean seriously Mark, do you honestly think that anyone over at the HRC believes any of that goofy crap? Of course not. Those people are exactly like the rest of the government bottom-feeders who have recognized an opportunity to avoid honest, productive, challenging employment. Those flakes will say and do whatever best facilitates the contiguous flow of unearned wealth into their pockets. End of story. Effective change of any kind now would require the removal of the “funding”. Watch how serious any of the teat feeders are after the well goes dry. I wouldn’t be banking on that happening anytime soon though. As a culture (I’ll call it that) we have dropped the ball and now we are being sent to the cellar of history and there’s dick any of us can do about it. Have a nice crash people. See ya at the bottom.

  23. I leave for a while and all hell is upon the verbiage

    Your second response was more concise.

    Apparently the Vaudeville routine here is to invite commentary, have deleted that which is “offensive”, and then promote those values of:

    a) utter inundation of a barrage of latin jargon and bucket brigades of crap.

    b) give lessons from Paul Erlich being a more sound prophet than Heartland, as Heartland is funded in part by business, whereas the left is funded by billionaires of the people like Soros.

    Wow.

    And people wonder about the public schools, stories from the NEA, and teachers who seem to have an inordinate proficiency at rolling condoms on cukes but little input from Western philosophy.

    • Oh yeah–and while the Queen’s dominion does not EXACTLY have “the first Amendment” with all her cautionary tales of abuse against the downtrodden of the earth and the sons of Allah, no doubt McClean’s promotes…well…”free speech” to boot?

    • I’m sorry, what is wrong with what I said? I simply wished to point out that there is nothing wrong with a ”demographic shift”. Christianity wreaked a lot of havoc as the dominant religion, I’m sure Islam is capable of wreaking about the same- neither more nor less than any other Abrahamic religion: That is, attempts at surpressing women’s rights, contraception, science, progress, literature, philosophy and dissent.
      Been there, done that.
      Once one gets past the “omigoodness BROWN PEOPLE!” part, which most do around the age of eighteen months, there is nothing to be feared from any of it.

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