Friday, December 15, 2017
Thursday, December 14, 2017
By Mark Steyn
December 13, 2017
Roy Moore rides his horse to a polling station to vote in Tuesday's Alabama Senate election. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
To be honest, I regret that Mr Moore will not be going to Washington. I have a high degree of tolerance for people whose lines are almost as good as the concoctions of professional satirists, and the Moores kept that up until the end. I don't mean just Roy's varying answers in his train-wreck interview with Sean Hannity on whether he'd dated teenage girls ("not generally", and then, not "without the permission of her mother"). But I'm also thinking of Mrs Moore's eve-of-poll rejection of charges that she and her husband "don't care for Jews":
Well, one of our attorneys is a Jew.
I was reminded of my late comrade Mordecai Richler's novel St Urbain's Horseman, wherein a Union Nationale junior minister is dispatched to refute accusations that Quebec's government is similarly anti-semitic:
Speaking for myself, my accountant is a Jew and I always buy my cars from Sonny Fish.
In fact, I'm not sure Kayla Moore's line isn't funnier: I think "attorney" is droller in its implications than "accountant", and "one of our" is the capper.
Presumably, the reason they need all those attorneys is all these statements from Seventies nymphettes that Roy was lurking in the back booth of the malt shop eying them up for most of his early middle age. America has statutes of limitations for a reason - because the accuracy of accusation diminishes considerably with the passage of time. Speaking for myself, as that Quebec minister would say, I prefer worldly courtesans d'un certain âge to giggling jailbait, and regard the most pitiful passage in the Starr Report to be the moment when Monica Lewinsky demands to know of the President of the United States whether he loves the new Sarah McLachlan album as much as she does. Could have been worse, I suppose. Could have been Hootie and the Blowfish. But, at any rate, Moore's preferences as an eligible bachelor for the youngish end of Alabammy maidenhood doesn't make him the Jimmy Savile of Dixie.
Back then, there were lots of 32-year-old men chasing 19-year-old girls - the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, to cite only the most obvious example. It was a common plot in big worldwide hits: When the Oscar-winning Best Picture An American in Paris was shot, Leslie Caron was 19, and Gene Kelly was pushing 40; when the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady opened, Julie Andrews was 19, and Rex Harrison was pushing 50. You can't find a single contemporary review of either that so much as notices the age difference. My old friend Alan Jay Lerner authored both scripts and won Oscars and Tonys respectively, and, as a practical matter, it was the only plot he knew how to write: My Fair Lady (1956) - older, sophisticated, mature bachelor takes young unformed girl in hand and moulds her; Gigi (1958) - older, sophisticated, mature bachelor takes young unformed girl, etc, etc; Lolita, My Love (1971) - older, sophisticated mature, etc, etc, etc ...ah, but that was one reprise too many of "Thank Heaven for Little Girls".
As Alabama's most eligible bachelor, Roy Moore liked nubile young women, and nubile means "marriageable" (from the Latin, nubilis). Indeed, he eventually married one of them - the aforementioned client of barristerial Jewry. Today, in the western world, nubile girls are no longer regarded as marriageable: They're supposed to go to college and think about settling down and having one yuppie designer kid when they're 39. I see I'm in danger of connecting Roy Moore to my big-picture demographic thesis, so let me just note that the chattering classes' conviction that dating teenage girls makes one a paedo doesn't seem to extend to the expanding cohort of Muslim politicians: David Cameron's Islamic poster-gal Baroness Warsi was married at 19 to her Pakistani cousin.
Strictly on the merits, the original Washington Post story would have been better solely focused on the fourteen-year-old accuser, but they - and much of the coastal commentariat - couldn't resist what the locals evidently discerned as a not so subtle dig at Alabama mores more generally. Unfortunately for him, Moore lacks the nimbleness of Donald Trump, who can skip through fields of lethal mines like a frog skimming lily pads without a care in the world. For all the talk of the new populism, it's worth remembering that the Trump of 2015 is not of general application: he was a unique combination of brilliant instinct, low cunning, and a celebrity status that made him all but indestructible to the usual cannily timed "dirty tricks" - which is what the Moore story, like the Billy Bush tape, was.
Nonetheless, Moore lost narrowly enough to suggest that it wasn't the accusations that did him in. He could have survived those, just about. What killed him was that he was running against both the Democrats and the Republicans - including Alabama's own senior senator, Richard Shelby. (Trump post-Billy Bush was in a similar position, as the likes of Paul Ryan, Kelly Ayotte, etc, stampeded to distance themselves.) But Roy Moore was the nominee only because the smart guys over-invested in Luther Strange (just as in 2015 they over-invested in Jeb Bush). In the first round of primary voting, Mitch McConnell's priority was to prop up Strange by taking out what he regarded as his principal threat, Mo Brooks. Congressman Brooks would have made an excellent senator, and would have been elected in a walk, and he can also claim more plausibly than Moore to be a populist conservative aligned with the Trump agenda. But McConnell didn't want him in the Senate and, as he saw it, once Brooks was gone, Luther Strange would have no trouble walloping Moore in the run-off.
Unfortunately, Strange owed his eminence in Alabama to the patronage of a corrupt and discredited governor. As I wrote three months ago, given the disposition of GOP primary electorates in the Age of Trump, they were unlikely to turn to "a creature from the Alabama swamp ...to drain the Washington swamp". So, thanks to McConnell and the ten million bucks he blew through, Moore won the run-off and became the candidate. And thus, of all preposterous outcomes, Alabama is now a blue state.
But don't worry, say the usual geniuses: Doug Jones is just this season's Scott Brown. As Massachusetts did with Elizabeth Warren, Alabama will return to the natural order of things in 2020. Well, maybe. But, as we've just seen, the one thing you can take to the bank is the Stupid Party's unerring knack to out-stupid themselves. In the meantime, a Congressional majority already vulnerable to the monstrous egos of John McCain, Susan Collins et al just got shaved to a micro-sliver: Mike Pence is going to be spending a lot of time at the Senate casting the deciding vote - assuming, that is, McConnell has any legislation he can actually get to the floor.
A final thought on Moore: Yes, he's a kook, and an insufficiently nimble one to dodge the incoming schoolgirls. But as I wrote three months ago:
Whatever one feels about Roy Moore, he's principled enough to be willing to lose his job over the Ten Commandments and same-sex marriage. That's unusual in American politics.
I'll say. Listening to Doug Jones' victory speech, I found my heart sinking under the weight of all the usual tinny boilerplate, culminating inevitably in that most exhausted invocation of Martin Luther King and the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice, which was in fact formulated not by King but by the 19th-century abolitionist Theodore Parker. But Obama had it sewn on an Oval Office rug and no Dem is gonna argue with that. Jones seemed the very epitome of the hollow men of the professional political class. He'll fit right in.
By contrast, Moore may be a kook, but he's authentic. Listening to the outrage he's able to provoke merely by sounding like Jesse Helms' simpleton brother, I found myself pondering how far the GOP has gone in a generation - to the point where Moore is getting berated by Republicans for being insufficiently keen on gay sex. That's all very well, but it does rather give the impression that the GOP is merely the Democrats a couple of electoral cycles down the road, and that circa 2025 some Dixie troglodyte will be getting slapped around by the right-wing punditry for objecting to transgendered chiefs of staff or whatever. Putting aside the merits of those particular issues, it does not so subtly imply that on that justice-bending arc the Democrats are right at the time and the Republicans are there simply to play catch-up ...on everything.
~Mark will be back later today to read the latest episode of our nightly, and very seasonal, serial - Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. And tomorrow, Thursday, he'll be back on TV with Tucker Carlson, coast to coast across America.
If you're thinking of giving the gift of Steyn this holiday season, we've introduced a special Mark Steyn Club Christmas Gift Membership that lets you sign up a chum for the Steyn Club and then choose a personally autographed welcome gift for them - either one of two handsome hardback books or a couple of CDs. You'll find more details here - and scroll down to the foot of the order form for the choice of books/CDs. And don't forget, for a limited time only at the Steyn store, our Steynamite Christmas Specials on books, CDs, mugs, T-shirts and more.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
By Jay Lustig
December 13, 2017
The New Jersey rock scene has suffered a huge loss with the death, tonight, of Pat DiNizio, at 62. The Smithereens singer, guitarist and main songwriter — whose deep, resonant voice was heard on hits such as “Blood and Roses,” “Only a Memory” and “A Girl Like You” — had battled a number of different health issues in recent years, but the cause of death was not immediately announced.
“Today we mourn the loss of our friend, brother and bandmate Pat DiNizio,” said his Smithereens bandmates Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken and Mike Mesaros in a joint statement on the band’s Facebook page. “Pat had the magic touch. He channeled the essence of joy and heartbreak into hook-laden three minute pop songs infused with a lifelong passion for rock & roll. Our journey with Pat was long, storied and a hell of a lot of fun. We grew up together. Little did we know that we wouldn’t grow old together. Goodbye Pat. Seems like yesterday.”
Like countless people involved in the New Jersey music scene, I considered DiNizio a friend. I’ve been writing about him since 1987, when I reviewed a Smithereens concert at Obsessions in Randolph for The East Coast Rocker. I interviewed him many times for The Star-Ledger, where I worked from 1989 to 2014, and then for NJArts.net over the last few years.
I wrote about his albums and shows, of course, but considered him unique among major NJ rock figures in that he was always coming up with new things to do, new ventures to explore. I wrote about him playing house concerts — he was one of the first musicians of his stature to do so — and developing his one-man “Confessions of a Rock Star” show, and his side business in which he wrote songs for fans, for a fee. I wrote about his run for U.S. Senate in 2000; his attempt to play minor league baseball in 2006; Smithereens albums featuring songs of The Beatles, and The Who; and his solo album paying tribute to Buddy Holly.
Recently, I wrote about his, ultimately, unsuccessful attempt to raise enough money to convert the house he grew up in, in Scotch Plains, into a nonprofit center that would host concerts, display memorabilia, and teach music to autistic and special needs children. Just this week, I wrote about a new Smithereens show that had been scheduled to take place in January at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank.
“Pat was looking forward to getting back on the road and seeing his many fans and friends. Please keep Pat in your thoughts and prayers,” The Smithereens posted on Facebook, when DiNizio’s death was first announced.
Despite the dark streak in his songwriting, DiNizio was one of the friendliest, open and down-to-earth rock stars I knew. In recent years, I’ve seen him frequently at his semi-regular one-man shows at Crossroads to Garwood, and he was always eager to talk, to catch up, to tell me about his new ideas and projects. When I put together the first benefit concert for NJArts.net in 2016, at Crossroads, he was the first person I asked to perform, and he immediately said yes.
DiNizio grew up in Scotch Plains, where he saw bands such as Black Sabbath perform at Union Catholic High School. He and The Smithereens were always proud of their Jersey roots. In 2004, they titled a two-CD collection of hits, live tracks and rarities From Jersey It Came! The Smithereens Anthology.
“I live in Scotch Plains,” DiNizio told The Aquarian Weekly in 2010. “It’s the only place in the world I feel centered. New Jersey is my home. I lived in England for a while, Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want any more surprises. I’m in Scotch Plains for good.”
Through an ad in the Aquarian, DiNizio connected with Babjak, Diken and Mesaros, all from Carteret, in 1980, and they toiled away in local clubs such as the Dirt Club in Bloomfield, the Court Tavern in New Brunswick and Kenny’s Castaways in New York for years, before breaking through with their 1986 album, Especially for You.
“Knowing that The Smithereens were a staple at my hometown’s Dirt Club early on, actually helped me understand that good songs, hard work, and a love of playing music can be a path to making some kind of life out of it,” Ted Leo wrote in a Tweet, after hearing of DiNizio’s death.
Though released, at first, by the indie Enigma, Especially for You was re-released by Capitol, and The Smithereens stayed on major labels through the mid-’90s.
Among the bands they influenced, with their heavy but melodic sound, were Nirvana, who reportedly had just one cassette in their van —with Especially for You on one side and heavy metal band Celtic Frost on the others — in the days directly before they recorded their debut album, Bleach.
A highlight of recent years came when Tom Petty personally asked The Smithereens to open some shows for him, in 2013. “I asked Tom, personally. I said: ‘Is it bullshit? ‘Cause they’re telling me that you asked for us.’ And he said, ‘No, no. Of course [I wanted the Smithereens],’ ” Babjak told NJArts.net. “He heard our song ‘Sorry’ on the 2011 album, on SiriusXM, and he loved the song.”
Perhaps Petty saw something of himself in DiNizio. They were both, after all, rock ‘n’ roll lifers, deeply versed in the music’s history but tenaciously committed to adding another chapter to the story.
“How many melodies are there left in the world?” DiNizio told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “But I’ve forced myself to embrace that fear. I have no choice. I’m a professional songwriter and member of a band. But what could be better?”
December 12, 2017
(Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
One of the most debated arguments about Muslims in Europe is the "Eurabia" claim: that high birth rates and immigration will make Muslims the majority on the continent within a few decades. For years, most of the media and analysts dismissed the claim as alarmist and racist. "Dispelling the myth of Eurabia", sniffed a major Newsweek cover.
Not many had the courage to sound an alarm. The great Arabist scholar, Bernard Lewis, sent out a warning more than a decade ago that Europe would turn Muslim by the end of this century, and dissolve into "part of the Arab West, the Maghreb". The late scholar Fouad Ajami also cautioned that "Europe is host to a war between order and its enemies, fueled by demography"; and the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci imagined a continent with "the minarets in place of the bell-towers, with the burka in place of the mini-skirt". Mark Steyn explained that "the future belongs to Islam" with an "enfeebled" West in a "semi Islamified Europe".
Ten years later, since Europe opened its borders to a massive wave of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, the demographers reviewed their assessments.
New projections by the Washington-based Pew Research Center should be on the table of every European official and politician. The projections foretell that if the current wave of immigrants persists, in thirty years Europe's Muslim population will triple. If high migration continues, the Muslim share of Germany's population, could grow from 6.1% in 2016 to 19.7% by 2050. Even if all current 28 EU members, plus Norway and Switzerland, closed their borders to migrants, the Islamic population will continue to exponentiate. According to Pew's data, Muslims made up 4.9% of Europe's population in 2016, with 25.8 million people across 30 countries, up from 19.5 million people in 2010. Today it is an increase of six million in seven years. And tomorrow?
Pew's researchers looked at three scenarios: "zero migration" between 2016 and 2050; "medium migration", in which the flow of refugees stops but people continue to migrate for other reasons; and "high migration", in which the flow of migrants between 2014 and 2016 continues with the same religious composition.
In the medium migration scenario – considered by Pew "the most likely" - Sweden would have the biggest share of the new population at 20.5%. The UK's share would rise from 6.3% in 2016 to 16.7%. There will be similar percentages everywhere, from Belgium (15%) to France (17.4%). If high migration continues until 2050, Sweden's Muslim share will grow to 30.6%, Finland's to 15%, Norway's to 17%, France's to 18%, Belgium's to 18.2% and Austria's to 19.9%.
Pew's dramatic scenarios do not tell the whole story, however. What will happen in major European cities, where the Muslim communities are currently based? Will London, Marseille, Stockholm, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin and Birmingham all have Muslim majorities?
The French demographer Jean-Claude Chesnais in his book "Le Crépuscule de l'Occident" predicted an opulent but sterile continent, one in which population is characterized by death, not birth. According to the national statistics agency Istat, fewer than 474,000 births were registered in Italy last year, down 12,000 from the year before, with an even bigger drop from the 577,000 born in 2008. Italy has "lost" 100.000 births in ten years. The loss has been called "the great Eurosion". The old continent is "frailing".
Moreover, the fastest-breeding demographic group in Europe is also the most resistant to the pieties of a secularized liberal European democracy, which is seen as a sign of moral abdication from the true "path" or "way".
Under the "medium" and "high" projections in Pew's scenarios, how can Europe preserve all its most precious gifts: freedom of expression, separation of church and state, freedom of conscience, rule of law and equality between men and women?
According to the French author Eric Zemmour:
"If tomorrow there were 20, 30 million French Muslims determined to veil their wives and to apply the laws of Sharia, we could only preserve the minimal rules of secularism by dictatorship. That's what Atatürk, Bourguiba or even Nasser understood in their day".
Will Europe retreat into a non-democratic regime to preserve its own freedoms or will it lose these freedoms under the rise of these large Islamic communities? Considering what Europe witnessed in the last couple of years under terrorism and multiculturalism, what will happen in the next thirty years?
Jean-Claude Chesnais rightly called this shift a "crépuscule", a twilight. We are living through the self-extinction of the European societies of the Enlightenment. It has shaped the humanitarian age we live in – but may not any more.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
Monday, December 11, 2017
By Bill Madden
December 10, 2017
December 10, 2017