[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your percipiently genial host John Derbyshire with the week's roundup. I am broadcasting to you from Radio Derb's state-of-the-art sound studio here on our island in the sunny Aegean, courtesy of Taki's Magazine.
Things are getting a little rough here in Greece, let me tell you. Here on the island we're pretty much reduced to a barter economy. This is somewhat hard on yours truly, as I didn't bring much with me from New York, so I'm short of stuff to barter.
I was worried that my research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy might be in the same unfortunate situation, but they seem to be doing surprisingly well. Mandy is driving a rather nice late-model sports car; Candy has acquired a jet ski somehow; and Brandy showed up at last week's post-broadcast party flashing some expensive-looking jewelry. I guess some people are just better at bartering than others. I can't think of any other explanation.
OK, here's the week's news, or as much of it as a normal human soul can bear.
02 — Extreme movie criticism. Recent news has been dominated by angry Muslims. What are they angry about? A movie, that's what. Or rather, a movie trailer, as the actual movie may or may not exist.
The trailer for this movie that may or may not exist gives the movie title as Innocence of Muslims. Put that into the YouTube search box and you can see the trailer for yourself. It's 13 minutes, 51 seconds; and personally, having watched all 13 minutes, 51 seconds of the thing, I weep for that much time lost from my life that I shall never get back.
Yes, the clip is irredeemably awful. I heard people saying this before I watched the thing myself. I thought they were just doing some politically-correct positioning: You know, "I'm all for freedom of speech, but this is too too much …" But no, it really is awful. If you want to watch an anti-Islam movie, one made with skill and professionalism, try Fitna, F-I-T-N-A. It's only a bit longer — 17 minutes — and much better.
Anyway, some guy in California made this movie, or movie clip, and Terry Jones, the eccentric preacher down in Gainesville, Florida who burned a Koran in his church last year, has been promoting it.
Who is the guy who made the movie? That's an interesting question. It seems highly likely that the movie-maker is a Copt living in Cerritos, California.
The Copts, just to remind you, are the Christians of Egypt. If you remember your Gibbon, you'll know that Egypt was a big center of Christianity before the Moslem expansion of the 7th century. Well, the Copts are the remnant of Egyptian Christianity, descendants of that minority of Egyptians who didn't convert to Islam. They are usually quoted at ten percent of modern Egypt's population, though both Copts and Muslim Egyptians will give you an argument about that. They've suffered some disabilities and discrimination in modern Egypt, the more so since this new Islamic government took power.
OK, so this Coptic guy in California, whose name by the way is either Nakoula Nakoula, or Mark Basseley Youssef, or Youssef M. Basseley, or Sam Bassel, or Sam Bacile — it's all a bit murky — this guy made a quite amazingly bad movie clip that is obviously intended to put Islam and Mohammed in a bad light, and Pastor Terry Jones is helping promote it.
And Muslims are mad, real mad. "Extreme movie criticism," you might call it.
03 — The fundamentals of international intercourse. For some reason — don't ask me — the Muslims of North Africa are especially mad.
I suppose at some level they're mad at Sam Bassel, or Nakoula Nakoula, or whatever his name is. Perhaps at Terry Jones, too. This is the world of the Muslim Arabs, however, in which everything that happens is plotted in advance by the Great Satan, America. So off the angry Muslims went to attack U.S. embassies and consulates.
Hundreds of protesters marched through Cairo, capital of Egypt. Just to remind you: Egypt is the recipient of one and a half billion dollars in foreign aid every year, originally a bribe for them to make peace with Israel, but now a permanent fixture in the U.S. national budget. So here's this mob marching on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. They climbed the wall, pulled down the U.S. flag, and tried to burn it. This proved to be beyond their abilities, so they just tore it up and tried to raise an Islamic flag instead. The Cairo police, in their uniforms paid for by you and me, and carrying weapons paid for by you and me, did … nothing.
The worst attack was in the Libyan city of Benghazi. Benghazi not being the capital of Libya, it doesn't have an embassy, only a consulate. The U.S. ambassador, Christopher Stevens, was in that consulate, though. The mob attacked and set fire to the place, and Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The attack on the Benghazi consulate looks a little too well-organized to have been just an out-of-control mob demonstrating against a movie. The currently popular theory among security specialists who get quoted by the newspapers is that Al Qaeda or one of their affiliates organized the attack, using the rock-throwing movie critics as cover. Al Qaeda CEO Ayman al-Zawahari is ticked off because we just recently whacked his number two man in Pakistan, using a drone. And hey, it's 9/11.
In situations like this, people always want to know why the embassy or consulate isn't better able to defend itself. Well, it's a tricky thing. The State Department runs an outfit called the Diplomatic Security Service, whose agents are armed and posted at our missions. The U.S. Marine Corps also runs a section called Marine Security Guards, MSGs, who operate in our diplomatic compounds. Well, they operate in some of them, at the discretion of the State Department security officer for each region. We now know that there were no MSGs at the Benghazi consulate.
In any case, none of these units is heavily armed. It's sidearms and shotguns, backed up with pepper spray, tear gas, and maybe crowd-control rubber "baton rounds." The philosophy is that mission staff need to be able to cope with small-scale security emergencies: some nutcase going berserk in the Visa Section, that sort of thing. Anything much above that is the responsibility of the host government's own law enforcement people.
The responsibility of the host government to protect foreign missions is taken very seriously indeed by diplomats and governments everywhere. If the host government fails in that responsibility, that can be taken as a hostile act. It might not rise to the level of a casus belli, but it sure calls for some major apologizing at the very least, maybe reparations.
These are the fundamentals of international intercourse. They are in fact even more fundamental than that: Before there were nations, these were the rules of tribal intercourse. If you don't want to be raiding and fighting all the time, you have to be able to send people to discuss things with the other tribe's chiefs. And those people, those ambassadors, need some basic protections and immunities.
There is hardly anything more fundamental than this in the human world. If we let go of these basics, we're in a realm of chaos. Do America's leaders understand this? It's not clear that they do.
04 — Groveling to the barbarians. America's current leaders grew up steeped in the countercultural ethos of the 1960s and 1970s. Their instinctive reaction to any international incident is to assume that America must be in the wrong.
Not them, of course: not their America. The wrong must have been done by the other America, the America where dumb hicks cling to their guns and Bibles, the America of racist xenophobes who do not understand that one religion is just as good as another, and that when foreigners' anger is directed at us, it's no more than we deserve for our historical sins. That would be the America of people like, oh, Terry Jones.
So the news from Libya sent the Obamarrhoids into full cringe mode. Our diplomats in Egypt, having watched the unrestrained mob tear up their country's flag, put out a whimpering statement that, edited quote:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions … Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
That sounds to me, and I bet it sounds to the Islamist nutsos, very much like an apology. What are they apologizing for? These are the accredited representatives of the U.S.A. The U.S.A. didn't do anything wrong. It didn't do anything to, quote, "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims." Individual Americans may have done dumb, stupid, or offensive things, but that's their right as free citizens of a free nation, and if our diplomats want to say anything, they should damn well stand up for those rights.
In fact the U.S. Embassy was not required to say anything, and would have been wiser to say nothing. The impulse to grovel and apologize is just too strong in these Boomer lefties, though, they can't help themselves.
Mitt Romney had this to say Tuesday night, quote:
I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
End quote. That sounds right to me. Barack Obama, though (since I was speaking of American officials steeped in Boomer leftism), Barack Obama took umbrage, or pretended to, and his media poodles piled on. It is now received wisdom that Romney made a monstrous gaffe, when all he actually did was notice how the administration was bowing and scraping to savages.
And here's another Boomer lefty, Mrs. Clinton, our Secretary of State, whimpering, quote, "I asked myself — how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?" End whimper quote.
For goodness' sake get a clue, Madame Secretary. In that part of the world, when you help people who hate you, they don't drop the hatred; they just fortify it with contempt — contempt for fools whose heads are full of sanctimonious illusions.
Later Mrs. Clinton weaseled that Sam Bassel's film is, quote, "disgusting and reprehensible." What if it is, you halfwit failed lawyer, who'd be serving up high school lunches if you'd married a different guy? — What if it is? It's a private production by private citizens, none of your damn business. Stop apologizing to people who hate us.
Now, smelling our weakness as dogs smell fear, smelling our willingness to grovel and beg and blame our own people, crazy Muslims all over the world are marching on our embassies. Tunisia, Yemen, Bangladesh, … I'm losing track. We'll be lucky to get out of this without losing more diplomats.
And Mitt Romney's a villain here? I'm no great Romney fan, but at least the guy stood up for his country.
05 — Our war against Libya. Indulge me, please, listeners. I'm going to do a thing I very rarely do: play an entire clip from a previous Radio Derb broadcast. This one went on the air somewhat over a year ago — August 26th, 2011. Here it is, and I stand by every word.
[Clip: Libya segment from 8/26/11 broadcast.]
06 — Education and demographics. The other big news story this past week has been the Chicago public-school teachers coming out on strike.
I know it's wicked of me, but any kind of education story gets me heading straight for the demographic databases. Here I see that the ethnic breakdown of students in Chicago public schools is 44 percent Hispanic, 42 percent black, nine percent non-Hispanic white, the rest mostly Asian. A paltry nine percent whites is a bit peculiar, as the actual city of Chicago is 32 percent non-Hispanic whites. I guess Chicago whites don't like the public schools. Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, sure doesn't: his own three kids are privately educated.
Chicago public-school teachers are considerably whiter: 50 percent. I don't tell you this gratuitously, but because I think it offers some clues about what's going on in this strike.
See, Chicago public-school teachers have a pretty nice deal. They have an average salary of $76,000. A Chicago police officer needs 4½ years of service to earn that much, and his job is full-time. The median salary for Corrections officers in Chicago is $42,197 — again, full-time. The median income for all full-time workers in Chicago, from bus drivers to bond traders, is $49,000. And of course Chicago teachers have great benefits, pensions, and so on. They should be a really happy lot. Why are they striking?
Not only are the teachers doing well, their union's doing pretty well, too: it pulls in $30 million a year from member dues. Union President Karen Lewis, who has a long paper trail as a radical-Left activist, keeps her compensation a closely-guarded secret, but from what we can piece together it looks like at least a quarter million a year.
Yes, folks, we're in the territory of big-money public-sector employees here. The money was set to get even bigger, too: the deal they're striking over offered them a 16 percent raise. That would be more than twelve thousand on that $76,000 average salary. Did you get any twelve thousand dollar raises recently, listener? Me neither.
So, let me ask again: What are they striking for?
NBC News, in a report on Tuesday this week, got to the heart of the matter. There is a nationwide movement on to pay good teachers more and bad teachers less. Pretty uncontroversial, you might think, but … how do you separate the sheep from the goats? How do you know who's a good teacher and who's a bad teacher?
Well, education bureaucrats and politicians have settled on this idea: You assess a teacher by the performance of students on standardized tests.
Again, pretty uncontroversial, surely? Well, no. Quote from that NBC report, quote:
With negotiators trying to hammer out an agreement that would end Chicago's teachers strike, one of the key sticking points is how to evaluate whether a teacher is doing a good job, an issue that has riled school boards across the U.S. in recent years.
Why is this a "key sticking point"? For the same reason Chicago's white citizens have fled the public schools; for the same reason that a city that's 32 percent white has a public-school student body that's only nine percent white; because not much learning goes on in those schools. If teachers are evaluated according to how much learning's going on, they're not going to be evaluated well, and their pay and promotions will suffer.
See? It's all down to demographics. I tell you, education and demographics go together like soup and salad. And you should thank me for telling you this; nobody else will.
07 — U.S. economy bumps along the bottom. The poor old U.S. economy is still bumping along the bottom. Last Friday's jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 96,000 jobs were created in August. Sounds nice, except that the forecast had been for 130,000.
We further learn that nearly four times that number of people — 370,000 — dropped out of the work force. That has the statistical benefit of lowering the unemployment rate; but that's a bit like lowering your debts by shooting your creditors.
And, of course, the one thing you never read about on the business pages, let alone in the main news stories: that 96,000 jobs created is a smaller number than the 100,000 work permits a month handed out to new immigrants under our clinically insane immigration policy. Pat Buchanan has suggested a total moratorium on immigration until the unemployment rate drops below six percent: but hey, Pat Buchanan is a crazy old reactionary, so who cares about him?
In the longer term, things look even more dismal. Reports of the death of American manufacturing are greatly exaggerated. We are in fact the world's number one manufacturer. However, there are now the same number of people working in manufacturing in the U.S.A. as there were at end of the Depression, even though the population is twice as big. The last decade, from 1999 to 2009, was particularly hard on manufacturing jobs.
So what kinds of jobs are being created? Practically all the jobs created in the last decade were in local businesses, government, healthcare, retailing, and food service, according to Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter. Forty million Americans have no higher education but desire a middle class lifestyle. They won't get one. Even those with higher education are struggling to find useful employment. Wages after inflation have fallen by 1.6 percent during this administration.
Median family income is down to the level it was at in 1989. Actual participation in the workforce peaked in 1997. Obama's stimulus package was mostly squandered bolstering up state and local government employment — the jobs whose pensions and benefits are driving cities and states to bankruptcy.
You want more bad economic news? I got plenty: long-term unemployed — way up. Applications for disability income — way up. It goes on.
Not to worry, though. The Federal Reserve has announced a new stimulus program, QE3, which will bring our government's purchases of its own paper up to $85 billion dollars a month. Buying your own paper is exactly as dumb an idea as it sounds, but nobody can think of anything else to do. With the Eurozone struggling and the Chinese economy losing altitude fast, we are heading into some economically interesting times.
Did I mention the "fiscal cliff" we go over in January as tax cuts expire and spending cuts kick in? No? You want to hear about that? You don't? I don't blame you. I mean, higher taxes and less government spending — who wants that?
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just a follow-up here on the Chicago teachers' strike. The Chicago Sun-Times newspaper on Tuesday ran a headline reading thus, quote: Teachers strike enters its 3rd day with two sides "kilometers apart", end quote.
Say what? "Kilometers"? (Or "Ki-LO-meters," if you want to be fussy about it. Or for that matter, "klicks," for all you Vietnam vets.)
The phrase "kilometers apart" is actually in quotes in the headline. So who are they quoting? Why, teachers' union president Karen Lewis, she of the quarter-million-dollar compensation package and the activist-Left paper trail.
I could be making a mountain out of a molehill here, perhaps influenced by news pictures of the mountainous Ms. Lewis, who carries at least a pound of avoirdupois for every thousand dollars of her compensation package, but would it be too much of a stretch to surmise that when you've been a lifelong Left activist like this lady, stale old American miles, pounds, and gallons have to give way to glamorous European — not to mention Soviet — kilometers, kilos, and liters?
Look at it from Ms. Lewis's point of view: in kilograms, she only weighs 120.
Item: This item is actually two weeks old, but I somehow never had room for it in previous broadcasts. It concerns 82-year-old Doris Thompson of Torrance, Colorado. Ms. Thompson is in a spot of bother over there in the Centennial State. She's been arrested for burglary. Her modus operandi was to go to a doctor's office, hide out till everyone had left, then search around for keys, open lock boxes, and remove cash. It was a nice little earner: She is said to have netted $17,000 since March. Not quite in the Chicago public-school teacher range of income, but not bad for an 82-year-old with, one presumes, few material wants.
Ms. Thompson has been doing this kind of thing for a while. Her rap sheet, which fills 21 pages, goes back to 1955. Charges include disturbing the peace, burglary, forgery and grand theft. In 1957, when she was just 27 years old, she was arrested in connection with a homicide, but declared insane and committed to an asylum.
OK, here's the punch line. On her previous arrest two years ago, Ms. Thompson told police detectives that she, quote, "wouldn't do all this nonsense if the government gave us more money." Now that is an Obama voter speaking.
Item: I don't believe that Radio Derb, in all our years of broadcasting, has ever run a story about gynecomastia. That's the medical term for man boobs: gynecomastia. Well, here's a story on that very topic. It concerns King Tutankhamun of Egypt, who died tragically young — he was only 18 or 19 — about 33 hundred years ago. His tomb was discovered in a remarkably well-preserved condition in 1922.
Turns out that King Tutankhamun had man boobs. That's not a normal thing to have at 18 or 19; but a British medical researcher has come up with an explanation. The researcher, one Dr. Ashrafian, suggests that Tutankhamun suffered from a rare brain disorder that does indeed have gynecomastia as one of its side effects. King Tut also had religious visions and hallucinations, another known side effect.
It's the man boobs that naturally hold one's attention, though. Just think: For 90 years we've been calling him King Tut, when the name should have been plural, with a different vowel. [Boo, hiss.]
09 — Signoff. On that deplorably low note, ladies and gentlemen, I leave you. In the absence of any particular musical themes in this week's broadcast, my faithful friend Franz Josef Haydn will see us out with one of his Derbyshire Marches.
More from Radio Derb next week. Over to you, Franz.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]