[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]
01 — Intro. Greetings, Radio Derb listeners. This is your ever-genial host John Derbyshire with our weekly round-up of the news.
Before proceeding, I'd just like to clear up a couple of points arising from last week's broadcast. I used the expression "Mongolian cluster hug," and this baffled many readers. Do Mongolians really hug each other in clusters? they asked.
I can assure you that they do. It is very cold in Mongolia, and in the depths of winter the inhabitants of that noble country gather together in their yurts and hug each other in clusters to keep warm.
Other readers were perplexed by my usage of the expression "the best thing that's happened since stuff came off the shovel." What kind of stuff came off the shovel? they demanded to know, and why was it such a landmark event in human cultural progress?
I'd be glad to explain this, but the etymology here is deep and obscure, and I must get ahead with my broadcast. If you send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope, care of Radio Derb production facility on the 95th floor of Buckley Towers here in New York City, I shall mail you back a full explanation. Please enclose a twenty dollar or higher denomination bill to cover handling costs. All right, on with the show!
02 — Palinophilia. The excitement over our Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin shows no signs of abating. Governor Palin has been travelling around to campaign events with that guy she's on the ticket with — his name escapes me — and drawing huge crowds.
Polls are showing the Republicans ahead, with Mrs. Palin getting the credit. The more we see of her, the more we like her. She knows a lot about the energy situation, it turns out — not very surprising, with her husband working on oil rigs. And yes, she did stop that Bridge to Nowhere, testifies Senator Jim DeMint. Furthermore, that state trooper she tried to get fired turns out to be a drunk who tasered his own 10-year-old stepson [Kid voice: "Don't tase me, Dad!"]
Sarah Palin's appeal reaches right down into the American psyche. She's the frontierswoman, the fearless, capable gal who minded the farm with a shotgun near at hand while her husband rode off in a posse to chase down outlaws.
Todd Palin, a guy who looks like he eats his caribou meat raw, is actually riding off on a snowmobile to chase down a 25 thousand dollar prize … but hey. Sarah's reminded us that there are two styles of feminism: the whiny man-hating urban style, and the stoical, capable, uncomplaining, philoprogenitive frontier style.
I still fret that she'll go native in DC; but then I'm a natural pessimist, and even if she does let us down in future, that reminder is still well taken.
03 — Palinophobia. Another thing Sarah has reminded us of is the ugly spitting vindictiveness of American liberals.
These are the folk who squeal about how coarse, cruel, and mean-spirited conservatives are. Well, well; you want coarse? you want cruel? you want mean-spirited? Check out the liberal blogs. Sarah's been accused of everything from pretending that her daughter's child was hers, to trying to purge Wasilla public library of homosexualist propaganda, to having an extramarital affair.
The stories all turned out to be bogus, though personally I thought they were all yawners anyway. What if she had raised a grandchild as her own? It used to be common enough. My own grandma did it; the chap I called "Uncle Jerry" was in fact my cousin. The library story was blown up out of nothing, and no books were banned. The affair story was in the National Enquirer, so we know what to think about that.
Then along came young Barry Obama with his "lipstick on a pig" comment. Now, you can argue about whether he said that with malice or not. A lot of observers — Mike Huckabee, for example — thought not, and I'm inclined to agree. The crowd of progressive, sensitive, generous-minded liberals Obama was speaking to all howled with delight at the remark, though — there was no mistaking that.
So thanks to Sarah for reminding the nation what cruel, nasty people liberals are under that veneer of sanctimonious tolerance. The only thing liberals are tolerant of is their own opinions. Everything else is a free fire zone.
04 — Race trumps sex for Oprah. The current election season has been very hard for practitioners of identity politics.
Most identity-politics types are Democrats, so the requirement to choose between a woman and a black man as Democratic nominee caused severe psychic stress among the Dems. Then the Republicans up and nominated a busy and successful woman for Vice President after the Democrats had tapped a boring old white guy.
Supposing you're an identity-politics voter, and leaving aside the boring old white guys, do you vote the ticket with the Afro-American or the ticket with the Gyno-American?
Well, here's a voter who has no doubts: talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey. Color trumps sex for Ms. Winfrey, and the nomination of Sarah Palin has done nothing to diminish Oprah's ardor for Barack Obama.
It's hard to think of anything that could. I mean, he's so … you know … black. Oprah has in fact refused to have Governor Palin on her TV show, though Sen. Obama has already made two appearances.
When it dawned on her than she had just ticked off about forty million female viewers, Oprah started spinning this like crazy. You see, she explains, as she tries to scratch her left ear with her right foot, those two Obama appearances occurred before he announced his presidential candidacy. You see? It would be wrong, wrong to have candidates on the show while they're campaigning. Wouldn't it?
Yeah, right, Oprah, that's real persuasive. But look, it's your show, invite who you like. Just don't ask us to believe that there is anything deeper to your politics than pure racial solidarity.
05 — Immigration? Shhh! When Tom Tancredo withdrew from the presidential contest last December, he boasted that his campaign had forced the issue of immigration to the center of the national stage. A lot of us believed it, and honored Tom for that achievement.
Ah, the vanity of human wishes! The topic of immigration didn't figure in the speeches at either party convention, though it regularly polls high on lists of voter concerns.
To Democrats, people who speak about immigration other than to say what brave and wonderful people we immigrants are, are vile racists. The Republican party platform includes some stern language about expediting deportations and denying benefits to illegals, but my impression is that John McCain would rather go back and do another five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton than implement any of those policy items.
Certainly the convention managers weren't allowing any immigration talk from platform speakers. The Census Bureau just told us that our current immigration policies will swell our population by 135 million in the next 42 years.
That's a 44 percent increase in our country's population. As Stephen Camorata pointed out in the Washington Post the other day, quote: "Such growth will have profound implications for our environment and quality of life." End quote.
Is that what we want for our children and grandchildren? May we not at least talk about it? Apparently not — not at a GOP convention, anyway — and absolutely not, of course not! — at a Democratic convention.
The blogger who calls himself Audacious Epigone, in a long September 5th posting, went through every single platform speech at the Republican convention looking for immigration restrictionist sentiments, and didn't find any, even though, as he points out, the U.S. public is restrictionist by large majorities every time they are polled.
I guess we'd just better start making room for that extra 135 million.
06 — Russia ♥ Obama. An opinion poll conducted in Russia found that on a free vote, Vladimir Putin would easily win a presidential contest if the constitution did not forbid him standing again. The same poll found that Barack Obama would be the easy favorite for Russians over John McCain if they were allowed to vote in our own presidential election.
Now isn't that peculiar? For president of their own country, the Russians favor a steely, ruthless proponent of Russian national sovereignty and power; yet for president of the USA they favor a wishy-washy pacifistic love-the-world liberal. What could possibly account for that? It's a mystery, isn't it?
07 — Affirmative action. One step forward, one step back on the abolition of racial preferences.
An effort to outlaw preferences in Arizona by changing the state constitution has been abandoned. Organizers of the Proposition 104 campaign to put an anti-preference initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot had collected over 330 thousand signatures on their petitions, 100 thousand more than required. State and county election officials, however, claimed that a high proportion of the signatures were invalid. They then restricted access to computer files that the campaign needed to counter those claims in time before a judicial deadline.
In Colorado, on the other hand, anti-preference Amendment 46 is firmly on the ballot, and a counter-initiative promoted by a pro-preferences group named Coloradans for Equal Opportunity — no kidding, that's their name — has been dropped after failing to gather enough signatures.
Here is Melissa Hart, a University of Colorado law professor who headed the counter-initiative drive, quote: "It's frustrating because our opposition tied us up in litigation and used every tactic they could to hamper the process. It won't stop us from working as hard as we can to convince voters that Colorado needs to reject (an) … intentionally confusing initiative."
Would you like to hear the wording of that "intentionally confusing initiative," listener? Course you would. Here it is. Quote: "The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting." End quote.
Are you confused, listener? If you are, then maybe you should be a law professor like Melissa Hart.
08 — Pakistan. Congratulations to Asif Zardari, winner in last Saturday's presidential election in Pakistan. Mr Zardari is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister whose politcal career was decisively terminated by a large bomb last December.
Ms. Bhutto was in turn the daughter of Zulfikar Bhutto, another former Pakistani Prime Minister, who had his political career terminated with equal finality by a hangman's noose in 1979 … from which you may fairly deduce that politics in Pakistan is a family business, but a rather hazardous one.
Well, this new President is going to have to pull off the same balancing act as the previous one, Pervez Musharraf: He must keep his army well fed and supplied with toys, because, well, it's a big army and pretty much the only institution that works in Pakistan. To keep the army sweet, Zardari has to keep the flow of money and toys going to them. That means he has to keep pals with Uncle Sam, who supplies a lot of the toys, not to mention 400 million dollars of annual aid.
Unfortunately the army and intelligence services are anti-American, as are most Pakistanis, and would prefer to have nothing to do with the war on terror. That's unfortunate, as north Pakistan is where the terrorists have their big bases.
It's a tough straddle for Pakistani politicians, made tougher by the recent US military incursions from Afghanistan, which have stirred up anti-Americanism. My guess is that the price of bribing Pakistan to stay more or less on our side, is about to go up a lot.
09 — Bailout. And the biggest news of the week: the bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
This really belongs together with my earlier comments about immigration. These policies are all of a piece. In a modern democracy, the important thing is to keep up the illusion that voters are better off this year than they were last year. If you have a strong and healthy economy, and a government that practices spending restraint, this may actually be true. We don't have either of those things, though, so the illusion of ever-increasing prosperity has to be kept up with smoke and mirrors.
One trick is easy credit. If the voters can borrow a lot of money easily, they won't mind stagnating wages and rocketing health-care costs so much, so … give them easy credit. Sure, any credit bubble will burst after a few years, but that'll be some other guy's problem.
Same with illegal immigration. Your wages might buy you less and less in the supermarket, but hey, you can hire a guy to do your yard work real cheap, so at least you'll save on that. Bringing in all those unskilled people will cause huge social-welfare costs twenty years on, but again, that's some other politician's problem.
As has often been remarked, democracy doesn't encourage long-term thinking.
10 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. I think I deserve a modest round of applause for getting through the whole broadcast without making a single pig joke.
You didn't hear me accuse anyone of hamming it up, or having their snouts in the trough, or bringing home the bacon. Not a word from me about pork barrel spending, no puns on "sow" or "boar," no sausage jokes.
I think this shows admirable restraint on my part. So now, rather than hog any more of your time, I shall trot on out of here, pausing only to say: Listeners, it's been swill! Er, I mean swell. [Pig noises]
[Music clip: More Haydn.]