Ricochet Podcast #32: Mark Steyn Returns


Mark Steyn returns. Need we say more? Ok, we will: we cover GZM, Bridget Bardot, Obama’s speech, expectations for this fall, The Dambusters, Michele Rhee, the Beck rally, and we try to get to the bottom of where Mark’s been the past few months. You’ll just have to listen to hear the answer.

Get your hot links here:

  • The NYT GZM Poll is here
  • The Dambusters on IMDB. View the trailer and the AMEX commercial (H/T Ed Driscoll).
  • Shelby Steele’s Ricochet post on The State of Black America
  • Michelle Rhee’s Wikipedia entry
  • Emily Esfahani Smith’s Ricochet post on the Glenn Beck rally
  • Claire Berlinski’s post on Ricochet and the ensuing debate on banning the burqa

Music from this week’s episode:

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive

    Yeah Steyn! I want to hear a Berlinski/Steyn podcast! If Rob Long is Kate, and Steyn is Farrah, would that make Claire – Jaclyn Smith? I can certainly go there…

    • #1
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    “We’ve gone a little soft since your departure.” Mark keeps the stakes in view. He keeps us honest. It’s great having him back.

    The heart of Obama’s speech was his call for more spending. His main regret about the war is that it stole money from the Stimulus Department.

    James: “This [the Iraq war] is not good to them because it was done the wrong way.” In what other case does the Left worry about means?

    The American Express ad James mentions is illuminating. Who could reasonably say that the Left has been a friend of the credit industry? Politics isn’t just about reasonable interests. Emotional willfulness and intimidation are also prevalent.

    Mark: “There is a broader moral question of how we live our lives.” Exactly right. The politicians who have entrenched themselves in our government are a problem, but the larger problem is cultural. American culture has changed, unsurprisingly, since the nation was formed. Many, if not most, Americans do still retain “the frontier spirit”, as James says. But that spirit now conflicts with an accomodation of big government. Our political struggle reflects a struggle of values which is found beyond the reach of government.

    • #2
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    Mark points out that Thatcher couldn’t stop the basic direction of British government. The same can be said of American government now. It’s easier to spend carelessly than to develop sound budgetary practices and encourage economic growth. It’s easier to create laws than to reverse them. It’s easier to create programs and agencies than to remove them. And so on. Thus, when Republicans are in power, they must work harder and longer than Democrats to even pause the growth of government. Periods of Republican dominance must be stronger than periods of Democratic dominance to affect the same degree of change. To reverse government growth in the long term would be a near-miraculous feat.

    Am I hopeful? America can only be saved if that change begins at the cultural level. Ultimately, our government’s direction is only a symptom of our cultural direction. The November elections are vital. Republican actions do matter. But, ultimately, America must be saved despite government and politics, rather than through it.

    • #3
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    With great humility, I’d just like to correct something Mark said about McCain. I believe he said he was shot down in a helicopter, but in fact he was shot down in a A-4 Skyhawk. As I understand it, he knew they had a lock on him, and he could’ve avoided being shot if he had chosen to abandon his mission and not drop the bomb on his target. That makes him far better than James Bond in my book. Why anyone voted for the putz we have in the Oval Office and not John McCain will always remain a mystery to me. He knew he could die, but he fulfilled his mission because guys on the ground were counting on him. Would Obama have made such a sacrifice… for anyone? Of course not. My apologies for getting a little off topic, but it just breaks my heart that we didn’t give the job to the guy that proved he loved his country so much he would die for it, but instead we gave it to someone who doesn’t even like the USA.

    • #4
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    Welcome back, Mark Steyn!

    Say, all that talk in the podcast about the American Express ad and the modern day Dam Busters certainly rings a bell

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member

    Good to see Steyn back. We were worried sick.

    Meantime, I’d like to nominate Iowahawk for Guest Contributor.


    • #6
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    It’s great to have Mark Steyn back here and elsewhere.

    I love the way he grasps the big picture and break it down, and somehow manages to find a pop culture reference to tie it all up.

    He really does get it. The fundamentals, that is.

    • #7
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    Aaron Miller: ultimately, America must be saved despite government and politics, rather than through it. · Sep 3 at 1:42pm

    Hear, hear. A sharp, clear, solid principle. In practice, alas, it raises that nettlesome question of how small government should be, rather than how big it shouldn’t. Reaching a durable consensus on that question seems akin to that miracle you mention.

    • #8
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    Wish Steyn would have touched on his take-home message from his stint on Rush this week re the GZM: That it isn’t about the mosque; it’s about the hole. It’s not about them, but us. If a 2000 ft building were now towering above Manhattan at Ground Zero, this little 15-story nothing of a mosque would not be an issue.

    Our can-do American bravado is diminished, and the hole is a daily reminder. That’s the tragedy here. The petty imam and his silly mosque is a sideshow.

    • #9
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    Agreed. It’s easier to recognize a corrupt and tyrannical government than to define the proper boundaries of limited government. Would American government ala 1810 be sufficient in scope of duties to serve Americans of 2010?

    • #10
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    Bumper sticker of the year, thank you Brother Steyn, only for new Chevy and Chrysler products: “This car brought to you by the American Recession and Redistribution Act”

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Member

    Steyn’s back?


    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Inactive

    I’ve wondered if Mark has been on a deep cover assignment somewhere in the world. But is he the Mitch Rapp type (“kill the SOBs”), one of Le Carre’s troubled souls, or the James Bond type? I vote for the latter.

    • #13
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    Nick, you’re so right about Steyn. Sometimes when I miss his weekly appearance on Hewitt, I’ll print the transcript off Hugh’s website, and seeing Steyn’s off-the-cuff comments in print is even more impressive than hearing them: They form perfectly composed and profound little essays that could be published without the slightest editorial adjustment, all while being funnier than any comedian on the scene today.

    The man is a force of nature.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Coolidge

    Fabulous podcast this week!! Reminded me of the early Comandante is Annoyed episode, which was also so good it was worth listening to more than once. If you’re looking for an episode that will help market Ricochet, this is the one. All 4 contributors were at the top of their game this week. All you’d have to to do is to add a short intro at the start of the podcast so that new listeners know a bit more about the high caliber participants and it would be the perfect episode to share with potential new members.

    I especially enjoyed Rob’s analysis of the Ricochet reaction to the Beck rally. He summarized the heated give-and-take of that thread well and showed respect for members and contributors on both sides of the issue.

    And Mark Steyn is back…aaahh. All is right in the world. Rob, Peter, Mark and James…Bravo!

    • #15
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    The one other thing I might add is that they are excessively polite. There were some long silences as Alphone, Pierre, Nicholas, and Gaston all waited for the other to speak after an initial pile-on attempt. Mark and James should just keep talking a bit longer in such a situation and let the thing sort itself out instead of waiting and waiting for the other guy.

    • #16
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    Great to have Steyn back, he raises everybody’s game.

    You do not readily appreciate what he brings to the table in a forum of more or less like minds like the Ricochet podcast.

    To grasp what Steyn brings to the debate you had to have caught him answering “Bob from Crescent City” when Steyn was guest-hosting the Limbaugh show last week.

    While Limbaugh would have met Bob with bombast, Hugh Hewitt and Michael Medved would have patiently peeled the onion back to reveal nothing at the center, and someone like Michael Savage would have called Bob a name and dumped him. Steyn simply incinerated Bob and his specious arguments. There wasn’t even an aura of glowing plasma left by the time Steyn was finished.

    It is very difficult to think of anyone current who could really go one-on-one with Steyn. He’s at a level of William F. Buckley or Alexander Solzhenitsyn in terms of his intellectual armamentarium.

    Good thing he’s on our side.

    • #17
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    Duane Oyen: The one other thing I might add is that they are excessively polite. There were some long silences as Alphone, Pierre, Nicholas, and Gaston all waited for the other to speak after an initial pile-on attempt. Mark and James should just keep talking a bit longer in such a situation and let the thing sort itself out instead of waiting and waiting for the other guy. · Sep 5 at 10:32am

    I agree. Sometimes it seemed that more than two people talked over each other before those long silences. The excessive courtesy was rather charming, though, and as they work together more they’ll probably figure out how to handle those talkover moments more smoothly. Or else they could just be edited out, though I prefer to listen to unedited conversations as much as possible.

    You know what I’d love to hear? A podcast with Mark Steyn, James Lileks and Dave Carter. Rob and Peter might have to step back a bit so it d be less confusing to listeners to discern who was speaking, but can you imagine the directions that conversation might take? I think it would be fresh, funny and fascinating.

    • #18
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    Duane/Diane: There is a tiny bit of delay on Skype and that’s what causes the momentary bouts of silence. It’s not overt politeness.

    And Diane, go to the podcast archive page and scroll down to Episode 11. Dave Carter and Mark Steyn (and later, Shelby Steele) were both on that show. Lileks, of course was not on the show, but if you haven’t heard it, please check it out. We’ll have Dave back on again soon.

    • #19
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    Blue Yeti,

    You just made my day. Will download that episode and listen to it again. In those heady early days when I’d just discovered Ricochet the family got used to me walking around wearing noise-cancelling earphones, doing housework and chuckling out loud while listening to one podcast after another. Scarfed those down like a kid with a big bag of chocolates, but I must have inhaled that one too fast to remember it. Or maybe it’s because I didn’t know the cast of characters well enough at that point to really appreciate it? Could be. And that’s a Shelby Steele episode also? Have his Uncommon Knowledge podcast waiting to be listened to as well. Woohoo! Happy day! Thanks.

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Thatcher

    During the podcast you correctly quoted Shelby Steele stating that “Black students did better on their SAT exams in 1990 then they did ten years later.” Unfortunately, you wrongly concluded from this that “its getting worse not better.” In fact, the lower average score is a result of a much higher percentage of the black population taking SAT exams ten years later. In 2009, about 40 percent of the SAT exam takers were minorities while that percentage was only 30 percent in 1999, and about 20 percent in 1990. More high school graduates are going to college than ever before, more of them are minorities, and more of the minorities are blacks. The lower average score does not indicate that “its getting worse . . . .” Be very careful what you conclude from any statistical measures of educational effectiveness.

    In my opinion, the biggest barrier to improving public education in American is intrusive state and federal legislatures comprised of people who believe they know more about how to run schools than local school boards. The second biggest barrier is the presence of teachers unions that make it very difficult to encourage ineffective teachers to pursue other careers.

    • #21
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    Shelby Steele is a towering intellect. Would love to hear a conversation with Mr. Steele, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams on a Ricochet podcast together and/or seperately. Now that would be a brain bank for the ages.

    • #22
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    Being new to Ricochet, I stayed up late one night listening to the podcast where Goldberg and others talked about Ferengi. I was instantly hooked of course, and proceeded to download several podcasts to my iPhone for an upcoming road trip. Let me tell you, those podcasts were a godsend as they kept me awake driving 2400 miles to Idaho and back taking my son to college. Very, very entertaining and of course the ones with Steyn were EXCELLENT! Keep up the good work, boys and girls. I look forward to my next road trip…

    • #23
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    Welcome, Frozen Chosen. The Blue Yeti himself has recently driven from L.A. to Idaho and back with nothing but the Ricochet Podcast for entertainment. Well, not nothing. I also had album of Rob Long’s Led Zeppelin covers. Not recommended.

    Be sure and check out this week’s episode. Jonah is back and along with Pat Sajak. Highly recommended.

    • #24
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