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January 20th, 2018

Insight

Kleptocrat centrism has no takers

Mark Steyn

By Mark Steyn

Published Nov. 27, 2017

Losing it

A couple of thoughts on the passing parade:

Political memoirs are almost always boring, self-serving, committee-written and unreadable - Hillary's What Happened being merely an especially bloated example. So Donna Brazile, hitherto one of the Clintons' loyalest acolytes, might have been expected to turn in a more or less typical insider account of a flop campaign, worth neither your time nor money. Instead, she has confirmed what some of us charged at the time - that the Democrat establishment succeeded in doing to Bernie what the GOP establishment tried but failed to do to Trump: steal the nomination away from the insurgent.

Sanders vs Trump would have made it a much tougher race, and I suspect Bernie could have held a couple of those rust-belt states. But that match-up never happened, because, while the Republicans' institutional corruption is ineffectual, the Democrats' is lethal and all too effective. Ms Brazile's publisher should have made a last-minute title-change and called the book What Really Happened. As is customary with the Clinto Nostra, Donna is now being accused of being a squealer and a turncoat: As the union heavies say in On the Waterfront, you're supposed to stay D'n'D - deaf and dumb. Ms Brazile, of course, was previously head of the DNC, which is dumb'n'complicit.

I heard, I believe, Jessica Tarlov talking about this the other day, and regretting that the Brazile fracas had reopened the party divisions between the Sanders progressive wing and the Clinton moderate faction. But that's not really what the divide is, is it? The party split is between Sanders social-justice warriors and the Clintons' dynastic kleptocracy. And if the latter is what "moderation" and "centrism" look like, why be surprised that Dem foot-soldiers are lurching lefter? Kleptocrat centrism appeals only to wannabes - whether Clinton bagmen like Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who'd like to get a piece of the sleazy deals with Kazakh oligarchs; or media suck-ups who wish they were getting Clinton-sized six-figure sums from Goldman Sachs for speeches nobody wants to listen to.

Beyond that, kleptocrat centrism has no takers: In leftie parties around the world, it requires some effort to wean youthful idealists off their starry-eyed utopianism, and corrupt, entitled, pay-for-play Clintonism isn't going to cut it. I made this point at the dawn of the 2016 presidential cycle in early 2015:

Leaving the studio, I ran into [Democrat pollster Doug Schoen] emerging from makeup and he upbraided me for my hostility to Hillary - which I felt bad about, because I've always gotten on well with him, and we have a shared interest in demography and whatnot. Twenty months later, Doug has caught up to my view.

But few other centrist Dems have. Yet the question underpinning Donna Brazile's book is pretty basic: What do genuinely moderate Democrats have to show for mortgaging their brand to the Clinton Foundation? Me again:

Hillary got rich, Bill got laid, republican virtue got screwed. Like the sickly leaders of late-Soviet politburos, both appear older and feebler than their years: once the star performer of the double-act, Bill staggers around like the Blowjob of Dorian Gray; the life has all but literally been sucked out of him. His straight-woman, once the reliably stolid, stone-faced Margaret Dumont of his cigar-waggling routine, now has to be propped up on street bollards and fed lines by her medical staff. When she shuts down and she's out cold, who's driving the pantsuit? Huma? Cheryl? Podesta? Bill and Hillary have been consumed by their urges. America would be electing the Walking Dead, insatiable and fatal to the touch, but utterly hollow.

As long as "centrism" is cornered by the Clintocracy, the Democrats will continue to drift left and lefter. Clean house, or go full antifa.

The reason the Sutherland Springs killer was able to get his guns turns out to be a fairly typical bureaucratic cock-up:

A day after a gunman massacred parishioners in a small Texas church, the Air Force admitted on Monday that it had failed to enter the man's domestic violence court-martial into a federal database that could have blocked him from buying the rifle he used to kill 26 people.

So we need to pass even more duplicative or contradictory laws against this and that in order to increase the likelihood that the government paperwork shufflers will comply with the one that might have made a difference.

Whenever the left is talking about "gun control", they're lessening their chance of ever getting any. Americans like their guns and, even more fiercely, their right to have them. So the only way you could impose "gun control" is by sly, subtle, barely detectable measures that steal gun rights away bit by bit in the dead of night. When the Dems demand a "national conversation" on the subject, they're ensuring they'll lose.

A more novel angle on US murder rates comes from Ethan Epstein in The Weekly Standard:

It's true that roughly 11,000 Americans are murdered each year by gunshots, according to the CDC. That's a rate of 3.5 deaths per 100,000 Americans.

The total homicide rate in the U.S., meanwhile, is 5.0 deaths per 100,000, meaning the non-gun homicide rate is 1.5 per 100,000 Americans. And here's the thing: at 1.5 per 100,000, our murder rate is still higher than many of our peer nations. Sweden's murder rate is 1.15; Denmark's is .99; Australia's, .97; Germany and Greece each have murder rates of .85 per 100,000. Spain comes in it .66, Ireland at .64. Japan's is an amazing .31 per 100,000.

So even if we removed every gun homicide in America, we would still be significantly more violent than other countries. And in a way, that's much, much more disturbing than the fiction that America's violence problem is one of technology, and not of deep societal rot.

I'm not sure Japan's 0.31 is that "amazing". Japan has zero "diversity", and diversity, as part of its general destruction of social trust, may also make one inured to homicide. A Japanese man can identify with almost any of his country's few murder victims: she's like your niece, or mother, or the lady down the street. Can a spinster in rural Vermont relate to another blood-drenched weekend's statistics from Chicago in any meaningful way?

As for "deep societal rot", I fear that that is where we're headed - the speed with which we move on from each record-breaking massacre suggests that we are perforce coming to hold life cheaper, which in turn ensures that it will become cheaper still.

Kirkus is a rather dull publication that has a massively disproportionate influence over which new books are ordered by libraries and (surviving) bookshops. Thanks to the novelist Lionel Shriver (a recent Mark Steyn Show guest) I now know that their "young adult fiction" reviewers are obliged to "identify all characters by race, religion and sexual orientation". The editors further insist on assigning books to "own voices" reviewers - that's to say, if you write a novel about a person of orientation, Kirkus will have it reviewed by someone orientationally appropriate. Alas, this meticulous policy doesn't always work:

Laura Moriarty's American Heart is a dystopian tale about a white 15-year-old girl who meets an Iranian academic on the run and comes to realise that America's corralling all its Muslims into internment camps is not very nice. Thus the Kirkus editor-in-chief assigned the book to a female 'observant Muslim of colour'. The Muslim reviewer gave the novel an enthusiastic notice, which merited the coveted Kirkus star.

And that's when it all went south:

Crusaders on social media (most of whom hadn't read the book) denounced Moriarty's novel as promoting a 'white-saviour narrative'. Kirkus took the review down. Asked if she would please like to reconsider her appraisal in light of the frenzy online, the reviewer rewrote her review to be more critical. Kirkus posted the new version. It retracted the star.

This seems perhaps a trivial story after the item on murder, but in fact they're different points on the same continuum: Weekly bloodbaths are de-humanizing, but so too is identity-politics cultural enforcement. And the latter contributes just as much to "deep societal rot".

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Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human rights activist. His latest book is "The Undocumented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned". (Buy it at a 32% discount by clicking here or order in KINDLE edition at a 50% discount by clicking here. Sales help fund JWR)

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