[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]
01 — Intro. That was one of Franz Josef Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, gentle listener, and this is your genial host John Derbyshire with another edition of Radio Derb. This was a pretty grim week, with nothing much to commend it to thoughtful conservatives. Next week will be worse, giving us a president-elect who is the best friend of either, depending on the outcome, Ted Kennedy and Joe Lieberman, or of Bill Ayers and Louis Farrakhan. These are dark times, listener, and they'll be getting darker real soon. Let's examine the grisly details.
02 — Obama's promises. One thing you know about the Democratic Party, now and for ever: they l—o—v—e government programs. When you hear Barack Obama say he's going to cut this program and that program, you therefore find it hard to resist a certain skepticism. Or rather, you would, if Obama ever got that specific. He hasn't, of course. All he's told us is that he'll be, quote, "eliminating programs that don't work." What programs? He's never said, and never could — other than military expenditures in Iraq, and he's back-pedaled considerably on that. And when he says "don't work," he means they don't work how? Don't work at giving jobs to his supporters? Don't work at providing rungs on the political ladder for ambitious community-organizer types out of law school? Or: don't work at doing the thing their description says they're supposed to be doing? That last one is always the lowest priotity for any government program, we all know that. If the feds announce a wonderful new twenty-billion-dollar program to extract moonbeams from cucumbers, you can be sure the program will give indoor employment to thousands of productivity-challenged paper-shufflers — "pasture for all the sheep," as Sir Robert Walpole used to say — but don't be holding your breath waiting for the moonbeams to appear. Well, Calvin Woodward at Associated Press recently analyzed the candidates' promises. Bottom line: Obama's are junk and McCain's not much better. Money quote, which Woodward took from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, quote: "Both John McCain and Barack Obama have proposed tax plans that would substantially increase the national debt over the next 10 years … Neither candidate's plan would significantly increase economic growth unless offset by spending cuts or tax increases that the campaigns have not specified." End quote. So these candidates' talk about new programs and tax cuts are just squid ink. Neither one will do squat to reduce taxes or increase spending; neither one could. Spending on current entitlements programs will balloon over the next decade as the Baby Boomers stop paying taxes and start using Medicare and Social Security. The generations coming up behind them are less intelligent, less well-educated, more accustomed to lavish social services. They will also face peak oil. The future is grim, fellow citizens, and the candidates are lying to you about it.
03 — Ohio. The state of Ohio, perhaps feeling it should stand in solidarity with a presidential candidate whose name begins with "O," has been doing what it can to help Wonder Boy get elected. First, Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who is a fanatical Obamarrhoid, admitted turning a blind eye to a quarter million obviously fraudulent voter registrations. Then district court judge Edmund Sargus, a Clinton appointee, ruled that homeless people could register to vote giving their addresses as any specific park bench … or presumably, any sidewalk heat vent, the back seat of any abandoned car, any cardboard box left over from a household-appliance white sale, and so on. I guess Huckleberry Finn could register his address as "third hogshead from the left on the levee." Now we learn that Joe the Plumber — that's Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio guy who had the gross impertinence to ask Wonder Boy a question that hadn't been cleared with the candidate's handlers beforehand — Joe the Plumber has been even more thoroughly investigated than we thought. Helen Jones-Kelley, who is the director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and an Obama supporter who has contributed the maximum allowed to Wonder Boy's campaign, tells us that as well as looking for Joe in the state's child-support computer system, they'd also gone through welfare and unemployment compensation checks. Mrs. Jones-Kelley (isn't that a bit of a giveaway to the lady's politics? you know, like "Rodham Clinton"), Mrs. Jones-Kelley bleated that, quote: "Given our understanding that Mr. Wurzelbacher had publicly indicated that he had the means to purchase a substantial business enterprise … consistent with past departmental practice, checked confidential databases," end quote. Ohio state senator Bill Harris, who's been on this case in a very commendable way, wondered aloud whether that means everybody listed in newspaper stories as intending to buy a business gets his pipes reamed out as thoroughly as Joe Wurzelbacher's were. Mrs. Jones-Kelley's answer to that was that the checks were, quote, "well-meaning." Her intentions were, in other words, the same kind of thing the road to hell is paved with.
04 — Al Gore in Florida. Al Gore and Tipper will be doing some rallies for Wonder Boy in Florida this weekend. Since it's a well-known fact that Al would have won Florida in 2000 if minority voters hadn't been kept away from the polls by gangs of Republican operatives wielding ax handles, shotguns, police dogs, and fire hoses, I think Al's pretty brave to show up in the Sunshine State with his curiously-named consort. I think Obama should be a bit worried about this too, though. It's well-known through the length and breadth of the nation that Radio Derb predicted Al Gore as our next president as long ago as May 2007. Given the power of Radio Derb, and our flawless track record at political prediction, Obama will now no doubt be nervous around Al. For goodness' sake don't turn your back on him, Barry.
05 — Special needs. Ah, the U.S. Department of Education, Jimmy Carter's demon spawn. When the peanut president signed the department into existence 29 years ago last week, a teacher union official was heard to exult: "Now we are the only labor union with our very own seat in the cabinet!" The teacher unions haven't forgotten, either. They have since endorsed the Democratic candidate in every single presidential election. But wait: wasn't the department just a few months old, back in 1980, when candidate Ronald Reagan was pledging to abolish it? What happened to that pledge? Well, a number of things happened to it. Howard Baker happened to it; Trent Lott happened to it; bureaucratic inertia happened to it; the grand old Republican tradition of being gentlemanly losers happened to it. That one is still happening. In an address last week in Caraopolis, Pennsylvania, Sarah Palin promised to, quote, "fully fund" the Individuals with Disabilites Education Act, directing yet more money into the Department of Education, no doubt hiring a couple thousand more left-wing bureaucrats, and equally no doubt smiling while the federal definition of "disability" expands to include fat kids, dumb kids, naughty kids, lazy kids, and any number of perfectly normal kids whose parents can figure out how to game the system. That kids with real, genuine disabilities need more than the usual amount of help, is of course true, and very well known to Governor Palin; that this is any business of the federal government, requires to be proved; that sluicing yet more taxpayer money into a department that conservatism's hero, Ronald Reagan, pledged to abolish, demonstrates only one thing: that Sarah Palin is determined to be a true post-Reagan conservative — which is to say, a really, really good loser.
06 — Erica Jong. A certain person tells us she is suffering from, quote, "An obsession. A paralyzing terror. An anxious fever that keeps me awake at night," end quote. She has a friend who, quote, "sent me an email to tell me that she cried all night and can't cure her ailing back for all the stress that has reduced her to a bundle of nerves." Who is that friend in such agony? Who is the person telling us all this? And what is this terrible fear they are both gripped by? Well, not to keep you in suspense: the speaker is novelist Erica Jong, her friend who's crying all night is Jane Fonda, and the fear that has reduced these two women to quivering wrecks is the fear that Barack Obama might lose the coming election. This all comes from an interview Ms. Jong gave last week to the Italian newspaper Corriere della sera. Another choice quote from Ms. Jong in that interview, quote: "If Obama loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it's not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets." I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh, but the thought of Dick Cheney in battledress, complete with Patton-style pearl-handled revolver, leading troops through the streets of Manhattan, just cracks me up. Given the Vice President's track record with firearms, the image brings to mind what the Duke of Wellington said when he saw a new draft of British troops: "I don't know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they terrify me." Anyway, back to Ms. Jong. I recall that her second husband, whose name she still uses, was a psychiatrist. Erica, if you still have the guy's number, give him a call, honey.
07 — Faculty vote. How "blue" are our colleges and universities? Think cornflowers; think sky; think swimming pools; think those cakey chemical things your Mom used to put in the toilet tank. If you go to a region of the country that is pretty blue anyway, the academic scene is even bluer. Case in point: Washington State, up there in the top left-hand corner of the continental 48. The Seattle Times reports that the faculty and staff at the University of Washington sent 591 campaign contributions to Barack Obama. How many did they send to John McCain? Seven. Hmm, bit of an imbalance there — 84 to one. Dollar-wise, the donations broke a bit better: $259,000 to Obama, $6,000 to McCain. That's only 43 to one, which suggests that Republicans give more per head. Well, what would you expect from Republicans? — trust-fund kids, every one, with yachts and mansions. Not like those ragged, starving Democrats in Beverly Hills and Manhattan's Upper West Side. University of Washington is a state institution, of course, though not to be confused with Washington State University, which, though also public, is a different thing, and not quite so blue. I don't have the headcounts for Washington State, but the dollars go 14 thousand for Obama, $1,500 for John-John. That's only 9.3 to one, practically a Republican landslide by university standards. At the other four public colleges, McCain struck out completely. You'd think McCain would do better at the private colleges, especially the religious foundations. Nope: At Seattle University, a private Catholic college, there were at least 54 donations to Obama, not one to McCain. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports one academic explaining that Obama is, quote, "a kind of dream candidate for professors, because he seems to talk and think like them." Well, let's be grateful for small mercies: at least presidents of the United States don't get lifetime tenure.
08 — Agincourt. The battle of Agincourt, fought between English and French armies 593 years ago last week, has always been celebrated as a moment of high glory for the English race. It is the centerpiece of Shakespeare's great play Henry the Fifth, in which Henry makes that rousing speech: "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more / Or close the wall up with our English dead …" If you want to read a really good account of Agincourt, there is one in the book The Face of Battle, by military historian John Keegan. Well, on the battle's anniversary this year, a group of French historians met near the battlefield to ponder the event. After pondering, they issued their conclusions, which were, that the English were nothing like as outnumbered on the battlefield as has been claimed (Shakespeare said five to one), and further that the English behaved like, quote, "war criminals" on the battlefield. Declared historian Christophe Gilliot, twirling his waxed mustache with one hand while the other toyed with his quiche gaspesienne, quote: "There were numerous heroic acts by the French on the field of battle, but they were met with barbarism by the English." Professor Gilliot stopped short at a demand for reparations, for which I suppose we should be grateful. News of these scholarly deliberations was greeted with scorn in England. There were many calls for English historians to do a little revisionism on great French victories in battle. Unfortunately, nobody was able to think of any.
09 — Miscellany. Some odds and ends here.
Item: An interesting news story from Israel: Archeologists say they have unearthed the oldest Hebrew text ever found … five lines of text written in black ink on a shard of pottery dug up at a five-acre site 12 miles from Jerusalem. They estimate the text is three thousand years old. The experts haven't been able to decipher it yet, so we don't know what it says. My guess would be something like: "Crisis in the Middle East …"
Item: Over to South Korea, top of my list of countries I've never visitied but would really like to. If you want a massage in South Korea — I'm talking about a real massage, not the so-called "relief massage" available in certain precincts of New York City — the masseur will be blind. It's just a quirk of South Korean law: only blind people can be masseurs. There was recently an attempt to open the profession to sighted people. The campaign was distressing to the traditional blind masseurs, some of whom were so distressed they jumped off bridges into the Han River that runs through Seoul. However, the nation's constitutional court has now upheld the monopoly. I have no idea why Korean masseurs need to be blind, but as a conservative, I respect an irrational tradition when I see one, and I am glad this one's survived legal challenge.
Item: Bombs have been going off: Basque separatists let off one in Pamplona, in northern Spain, no reported deaths; in the north-Indian state of Assam, some local separatists had more success, letting off bombs that killed 64. Thank goodness nobody would ever let off bombs in civilian precincts in the U.S.A. — or, if anyone did such a wicked thing, I'm sure they would spend the rest of their lives in jail, and certainly no self-respecting politician would ever go anywhere near them.
Item: Oh, here's another bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, serving 27 years in a Scottish prison for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people when it brought down a plane over Lockerbie, Scotland. 56-year-old Megrahi is appealing against his 2001 conviction and the length of his sentence. He's applied to be released on bail, pending his appeal. In a sane world, Megrahi would be hanged in public, by the slow method, over a charcoal fire, for what he did. This is not a sane world, though, and chances are, the next time you hear about this piece of human dreck, he'll have a professorship at the University of Illinois.
Item: Finally, syndrome of the week. Last week Radio Derb brought you "non-filer syndrome." This week: "foreign-accent syndrome." Cindylou Romberg, who lives up in Washington State, fell out of a moving vehicle back in 1981 and has been plagued by headaches and back pains ever since. After a visit to a chiropractor recently, Mrs. Romberg found herself talking with a German accent. She has never been to Germany and knows no foreign languages at all, but here she is sounding like Marlene Dietrich. It's a nervous condition, apparently. Foreign accent syndrome. Perhaps that explains why Barack Obama has that special voice for black audiences. "Down-home ebonics syndrome," something like that. I dunno. If John McCain gets elected and starts talking with a Spanish accent, though, I'm outta here.
10 — Signoff. Yes, folks, it's a mad, mad, mad, mad world. There's no sign it will ever get any better, though, so in the words of the immortal Basil Fawlty: "We're stuck with it." For more news of the all-encompassing lunacy, tune in again next week to Radio Derb.
[Music clip: More Haydn.]