[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches and this is your incommensurably genial host John Derbyshire with all the follies, futilities, and malfeasances from the past week's news.
Highlight of this week's broadcast is a totally new Radio Derb feature: a movie review. Yes, your genial host has been to the flicks and has a report for you in time for the Oscars. First, though, our outrage of the week.
02 — Can't deport 11,000,000? How about just 1? Outrage of the week, if not of the decade, was surely Wednesday's scene at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.
The Committee is holding hearings on immigration. At Wednesday's hearing they heard from Cris Crane, head of the ICE employees union — that's ICE, I-C-E, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. Officer Crane had horror stories to tell: for example, the story of an ICE agent who was suspended for three days. Why? Because the agent had arrested an illegal alien with multiple convictions for driving without a license. The alien was trying to operate a vehicle in the agent's presence. For the agent, three days suspension. For the illegal alien, nada — he was allowed to drive away, unlicensed.
Bad enough, to be sure, but that was the least of the horrors on display in the committee room Wednesday. Sitting two chairs away from Officer Crane, and bringing these hearings up to the Outrage of the Week level, was Jose Antonio Vargas, a known illegal alien. Not merely known, in fact: Mr. Vargas is famous for being an illegal alien. It's his life's work. He was on the cover of Time magazine last June, under the story title We Are Americans.
Mr. Vargas is actually a Filipino, 32 years old. He was brought to the U.S.A. at age 12 by his grandfather, with the aid of a people smuggler and a fake Philippine passport the grandfather had arranged. No steps were subsequently taken to regularize his status. At age 16 Vargas discovered that his passport and papers were all forged, and that his presence in the U.S.A. was illegal.
Instead of going back to the Philippines or getting lawyered up to change his status — which can be done, though it's a lengthy and expensive process — Vargas just lied his way forward, breaking numerous more laws. For example: He acquired a fake Social Security card, which he used to get jobs over several years — at a Subway restaurant, a Y.M.C.A., a tennis club, and other places. He also lied on his I-9 forms — that's the form every employer must get filled out for every hire, testifying that the person being hired is eligible for lawful employment in the U.S.A. Vargas ticked the box for "Citizen" each time, thus committing multiple violations of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 47, §1001, for each of which Vargas is liable under the Code to a fine and a term of imprisonment up to five years.
Vargas didn't merely violate federal law, but state law too. He was hired as a reporter by the Washington Post in 2004, but needed a driver's license. At the time he was living in California, which is strict about giving out driver's licenses. Asking around, Vargas found that Oregon was much less strict, so he inveigled various people to send letters to him at an Oregon address belonging to a friend. That got him an Oregon license. Later he got a Washington State driver's license the same way, though he has never been a resident of either Oregon or Washington.
So here's this shameless criminal sitting two chairs away from a law-enforcement officer. Why didn't Officer Crane arrest Mr. Vargas? Are you crazy? He's have been drummed out of the service and lost his pension rights.
These are the depths to which we have sunk. A serial lawbreaker is fawned over by our elected Senators, while law enforcement officers are disciplined for doing what they swore an oath to do.
"Fawned" is no exaggeration. Democrats on the Committee loved Mr. Vargas. The Committee Chairman, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, slobbered that, quote: "In speaking on behalf of millions who cannot speak for themselves, you shed light on the human impact of our immigration system."
For sure there's some human impact here, including some that was not being illuminated by Mr. Vargas in the committee room on Wednesday. There is, for example, the Forgotten Man: the American citizen who might have had a shot at that nice plum job at the Washington Post if Mr. Vargas hadn't hustled his way to it first with a sheaf of fake documents. How's that for human impact, Senator?
Leahy also referred to Vargas as a, quote, "whistle-blower," apparently missing the point of whistle-blowing, which is a thing that law-abiding citizens do to draw attention to law-breaking. Since Mr. Vargas is the one breaking the law here, he is the opposite of a whistle-blower — a whistle-sucker, possibly.
Mr. Vargas commenced his testimony by asking the Senators two questions. His first question was, quote: "What do you want to do with me?" His second question was, quote: "How do you define American? How do you define it?"
I'll have a shot at answering those. To the first, what I want to do with Mr. Vargas is, to prosecute and punish him for his numerous crimes of fraud and misrepresentation in violation of state and federal laws, with the sentences to run consecutively for preference; then to deport him back to the Philippines.
To the second: I define an American to be a person who has acquired U.S. citizenship under the laws and Constitution of the United States.
Glad to help out there, Mr. Vargas. If you have any other questions, just give me a call care of Taki's Magazine.
03 — SOTU: Could you mail it in, please? Political event of the week was the State of the Union speech. I had to sit through the whole wretched thing so I could write it up for VDARE.com, and you can read my opinions there.
I very much dislike the whole spectacle as it's developed across the modern period. It oozes ruling class arrogance and vanity. The Constitutional requirement that the President, quote from Article II, Section 3, "shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union" could perfectly well be met by a written message, and was so met from President Jefferson to President Taft. Woodrow Wilson started the modern style of a spoken address; the Blessed Trinity of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover mostly returned to the written format, but since then it's been almost entirely a spoken address, ornamented with all the aforementioned arrogance and vanity.
Obama was in high professorial mode, gassing about, quote, "special interest tax breaks," and, quote, "investing in the best ideas," and, quote, "new ladders of opportunity," and, quote, "eradicating world poverty," and a lot of other meaningless squid ink. Did you know that today's world presents not just dangers, but also opportunities? Gosh, I never thought of that!
There was the usual parade of Lenny Skutniks: a nurse who did something heroic in Hurricane Sandy, a cop who did something heroic in Wisconsin, and some old broad who'd waited six hours to vote. Yay for the heroes, but I didn't quite get the thing about the old broad. Six hours, fiddlesticks! Personally I think voting is much too easy. I'd make voters crawl on their bellies through snake-infested mud, climb a 12-foot wall topped with razor wire, and leap the ice floes on a swollen river in order to vote, but that's just me.
I took comfort in the fact that Obama's immigration pitch was short — 2½ minutes in a one-hour speech — and that, nothing but the feebler kind of open-borders clichés. Obama is a very smart politician, who's not going to yoke himself to a hopeless project, which is what amnesty probably is.
Marco Rubio stepped up with the GOP response. Considering Rubio didn't even win the Cuban vote in his home state, the notion that he's going to swing Mexicans and Puerto Ricans into the GOP column is beyond ridiculous; it's fantastic. Nothing is too fantastic for the GOP nitwits to believe, though, so there was Rubio starting up his 2016 presidential campaign. Which, on the evidence of Tuesday night's performance, looks set fair to crash and burn before 2013 is out. Hasta la vista, baby.
Rubio too backed off some from the "comprehensive immigration reform" shenanigans, even though the Chamber of Commerce types who fund the GOP want Mexican high-school dropouts for cheap labor just as much as the DNC wants them for voting-booth fodder. Rubio gave it 21 seconds in a 15-minute speech, proportionally only half of Obama's pitch. Perhaps the congressional and White House switchboards are already jammed with people protesting the amnesty proposals, as they were back in 2006 when Dubya tried it. If so, then democracy's not dead yet.
Disappointment of the night was Senator Rand Paul, responding for the Tea Party. Paul, whom I'd thought to be a sensible fellow, went full-out open borders. Quote: "If you want to work, if you want to be in America, we welcome you," end quote.
Leaving aside the fact that immigration officers have no way to determine whether a visa applicant wants to work or just wants to be here for the climate, or the welfare benefits, or to escape from his wife or a police posse, or to fly planes into skyscrapers, that opens the door to about five billion people worldwide. So I've written off Rand Paul as another damned idiot — reluctantly, as I liked him the one time I met him.
Well thank God that's over, anyway. I pledge my vote to the first Presidential candidate who promises to return the State of the Union address to a written format, preferably no more than two single-spaced pages. And by the way, what were Supreme Court Justices doing there? It's supposed to be the President addressing Congress, none of their damn business.
04 — Rampage against the LAPD Crime story of the week was of course the rampage by California ex-cop Christopher Dorner.
Dorner was fired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 2008 for filing a false report about a fellow officer. He seethed away quietly for four and a half years, then decided on revenge against Randal Quan, the lawyer who'd represented him unsuccessfully in his dismissal hearing, and also against the LAPD in general. Whether because he couldn't get to Randal Quan, or for some other reason, Dorner shot Quan's daughter and her fiancé as they were sitting in their car.
Four days later Dorner ambushed two LAPD officers, killing one and seriously wounding another. A huge manhunt got under way. Tuesday Dorner was spotted in the Big Bear Lake region east of Los Angeles. There was a shootout; another law enforcement officer was killed and another wounded. Dorner holed up in a cabin; the cabin caught fire, possibly from smoke grenades fired at it, and Dorner was incinerated, possibly after having shot himself.
Plainly the guy took his beef with the LAPD very seriously. He in fact published a rambling 12,000-word manifesto, as crazy killers seem obliged to do nowadays — recall Anders Breivik, who killed all those people in Norway two years ago.
The manifesto is a weird kind of document. A lot of it goes over the minutiae of Dorner's firing and the proceedings that led up to it. Some of it is unrelated grievances: Apparently someone stole Dorner's watch from his high school locker, and the principal knew who it was but lied about it. This was definitely a guy who could bear a grudge.
Some of the grievance was racial — Dorner was a mulatto. Not much, though, as these things go; and in fact Dorner was at pains to separate himself from black thug culture. Quote: "I'm not an aspiring rapper, I'm not a gang member, I'm not a dope dealer, I don't have multiple baby momma's," end quote. He supported Bill Cosby's criticisms of ghetto culture. At least one of his victims was black. On the other hand, he was rough with George Zimmerman and seems to have swallowed whole the MSM version of Trayvon Martin as an innocent teen victimized by a lowlife wannabe cop.
His politics were all over the place. George Bush, Sr. was his second-favorite president, Obama being of course his favorite. He was a Jon Huntsman supporter this last election, though, and after Huntsman dropped out, Dorner didn't bother to vote. In the manifesto he expressed enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie, with some weight-reduction advice for Christie. He had kind words for David Gergen.
On the other hand, there's a lot of PC stuff. Ellen DeGeneres was praised in the manifesto because, quote, "You changed the perception of your gay community and how we as Americans view the LGBT community." Most surprisingly, Dorner turns out to have supported gun control, and had very unkind words for Wayne LaPierre, President of the NRA.
Then the manifesto has a string of shout-outs to various celebrities from showbiz and TV journalism, if those are different things, and sports. Dorner wanted Fareed Zakaria deported; not a bad call. He liked the Hangover movies. He offered strategy advice to Tim Tebow. He thanked his Marine Corps Drill Instructor, thus killing stone dead the old joke where a DI complains that his recruits, once they've left his charge, never call or write.
The overall impression is of an opinionated guy who is engaged in a shallow way with every kind of news, sports, and showbiz story of the past few years; moderately tribal but not the vicious kind of white-hating black guy, not crazy in any very obvious way, but consumed by his beef with the LAPD. Dorner was 33 when he died. He had never married, and lived with his mother. You get the impression he watched a lot of TV.
I'm not sure what the Dorner story tells us about present-day American culture. It does, though, at least tell us this much about human nature: that you can be a pretty ordinary TV-watching person with opinions that, while they may be mixed up, are not particularly wacky, yet still end up a spree killer.
05 — Bye-bye, Benedict The Pope, who is 85 years old, announced his retirement this week.
That's more controversial than you'd think. Sure, CEOs retire every day of the week. Being Pope is a bit more than that, though. If you are Pope, you are head of an organization staffed by people who've signed up for the work as a matter of life-long vocation. You're supposed to set an example by seeing things through to the very end, as your priests are supposed to.
Thus it's highly unusual for Popes to retire. The last one to do so voluntarily was Celestine V back in 1294. Celestine was a mere 79 years old, but he seems to have suffered from a severe charisma deficit. He couldn't get anyone to do anything he wanted, so he quit after five months.
Not being a Roman Catholic, I take a detached view of the matter. As my friend Andrew Stuttaford over at SecularRight.com says, I don't have a God in this fight. I don't myself have a religious bone in my body; but as a conservative, I am in favor of anything that adds a little glue to hold society together and keep citizens in mind of their duties to each other, and religion surely does that, so I'm pro-Pope in a rough and general way.
This current Pope has been a conservative in matters of faith and morals, which also appeals to me. If your job is to assert and uphold eternal truths, you really can't be changing your mind about them. On the other hand, he's made some social-democratic noises about the excesses of capitalism and so on. I was more in tune with the previous guy, who was somewhat more concerned with the evils of socialism, with which he'd had some personal experience.
What comes next? Well, for Benedict, what comes next is eviction. There are grace-and-favor apartments in the Vatican, and he could have been given one of those, but Vatican authorities are making it clear they don't want him around the place distracting attention from the next Pope. So Benedict is riffling through the "Apartments to Let" columns in L'Osservatore Romano. Celestine V, who was very ascetic, retired to a cave, but I'm guessing this is not a thing Benedict has in mind.
Naturally there's a lot of speculation about who the next Pope will be. The Diversity cranks are putting their oar in, telling us it should be anyone but a straight white male, since everyone knows that they are the cause of all the world's ills. On the other hand, folks who know their way round the Vatican are reminding us that the College of Cardinals, who elect a Pope, are all conservative, having been appointed either by this Pope or the previous one, both conservatives. Therefore, these people say, the next Pope will be some white European guy, because that's the conservative thing.
I don't know about that. The Anglican Church, which is the one I know best, also has a world-wide communion, and it's the non-white bishops, especially the Africans, who are most conservative. As Roger Scruton says in his recent book about the Anglican Church, quote: "Its most important controversies today — those over women priests and homosexuality — are being fought out between American liberals and African conservatives." End quote.
So who knows? What I'd like to know about the Papacy is why they all have to be so darned old. The last ten Popes, working backwards from Benedict, were the following ages when they took the chair: 78, 58, 65, 65, 76, 63, 64, 59, 68, and 67. Average 66.3, which is past retirement age in most countries. How about a young Pope, someone closer to 50 than 60? But it's not my church, so perhaps this is impertinent of me.
You can't stop me making a Pope joke, though. Here's one I like.
The Pope is sitting around in the Vatican with a bunch of cardinals, talking theology, when one of his subordinates comes rushing in. "Holy Father! Holy Father! Look outside — It's the Second Coming!" The Pope and the cardinals get up and go to the window. Sure enough, there is Jesus Christ riding towards them through the streets of Rome on a donkey, the people all throwing palm leaves under the donkey's feet. After they've watched in stunned silence for a few minutes, one of the cardinals turns to the Pope and asks: "Holy Father, what should we do?" Replies the Pope: "Look busy!"
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: The International Olympic Committee has announced that wrestling will no longer be included in the Olympic Games starting in 2020.
This was a bit of a shocker. Wrestling is one of the oldest of all sports. It featured in the original Greek Olympics 27 centuries ago. It's been on the modern Summer Olympics roster since the modern games started in 1896. A lot of people are shaking their heads over this, wondering why a contest that includes synchronized swimming and floor gymnastics with ribbons and beach balls can't find room for wrestling.
One black mark against wrestling in the IOC's view was that the international wrestling federation has no women's commission. Another demerit was that wrestling ranks low in global TV audience.
Seems to me that wrestling enthusiasts could scotch both those negatives and restore their sport to favor by just bringing girls into the sport. It it was done with jell-o or mud pits, I bet the TV ratings would be terrific.
Item: News from across the pond: The cool new pet in Britain is the jellyfish. A firm in Southampton that supplies a special hi-tech jellyfish tank reports that they can't keep up with demand.
The little critters need a special tank, I'm reading here, because jellyfish require a current to swim. With no current, they just pile up on the floor of the tank. Yes, I can see that might be unsightly.
Well, I guess it's no stranger than keeping tropical fish; and with jellyfish, you don't have that feeling their eyes are on you. If sitting and watching jellyfish is your thing, though, you don't have to go to Britain and buy a special tank. Just tune in to C-SPAN next time they broadcast a meeting of the Republican National Committee.
Item: Finally, as advertised, Radio Derb's first venture into movie criticism.
Alas, there is no movie theater here on the island, and the islanders themselves are not exactly au courant with the Hollywood scene. The last movie star any of them can name is Melina Mercouri.
I did, though, catch a movie during a flying visit to the States last week. The movie was Les Miserables, which Mrs. Derbyshire insisted on seeing. I must say, I thought it was awful.
Look, I'm an opera fan. When you've sat through a few hundred live opera performances, hearing music from historically great composers performed by singers who've spent years perfecting their craft, you're not going to be impressed by Russell Crowe growling his way through some second-rate recitativo by a composer you never heard of.
And, oy! those close-ups. I'm all for people in movies looking like real people, as opposed to buffed-up'n'botoxed actors playing at being real people, but I draw the line well short of acne scars and mucus-filled nostrils. If this is the new style in cinematography, then I say the movie business has entered a phase of terminal decadence.
That's not even to mention the theme of the movie, which is that revolutionary insurrection is a good and noble thing. Well, no, it isn't. It's a cruel and sinister thing, that ends with witch-hunts, famine, and despotism. Victor Hugo, if anyone wants my opinion, was one sick puppy. I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame when I was a pre-teen, and it gave me nightmares for months. I still can't believe Disney made a movie out of it. What was left after they took out the sadism and necrophilia?
So if the Academy of Motion Pictures is looking to me for a nomination, I can only give them a negative one: please, for the sake of Western civilization, don't give any awards to Les Mis. I haven't seen any others of last year's movies, but I can't see how they could be any worse.
07 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. To see us out and to heap further scorn on that dreadful movie, here is Emma Fitzpatrick doing a very funny Ann Hathaway impersonation.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Emma Fitzpatrick's spoof of "I dreamed a dream"]