»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, June 9th, 2006


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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]

01 — Intro.     Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. This is John Derbyshire with your weekly round-up of news from a pagan perspective.

Shuck off those civilized inhibitions, warm up your tribal instincts, knock your sick old granny on the head — although not before she's told you where she keeps her war bonds — and follow me into the dark veil of unreason.

[Note added when archiving, 2018: There's a backstory here. I had reviewed Ramesh Ponnuru's book The Party of Death, then just published. Ramesh was a colleague at National Review. He was one of the more intensely Roman Catholic faction at the magazine, and a keen Right-to-Life supporter.

In my review I pooh-poohed some of the tenets of the Right-to-Life movement. This did not go over well with Ramesh's faction. They lobbied for me to be fired, but were overruled by Bill Buckley. There are fuller details here (click on the link then Ctrl-F "stiletto").]


02 — George Pataki: at best mediocre, at worst ….     You know how there are Republican people that you start off quite liking, then you begin to dislike them, then you loathe them with every fiber of your being, but then at last you reach a state of calm indifference about them, regarding them just as part of the world's annoying background hum?

Well, that's pretty much where I am with George Pataki, Governor of my state. If you were to set up a zoo-type exhibition with one human being being chosen to illustrate, as perfectly as possible, every adjective in the English language, Curious George will be in the cage labeled Mediocre.

Everything about the guy shrieks dull, affectless unworthiness. You can't even stick strong negatives on him. He isn't exactly a coward: He just has no courage. He isn't exactly stupid: He just has zero power of imagination. He isn't exactly corrupt: He's just not … over-attentive to the rules of political propriety.

To illustrate my point, here is George's remark on the recent flap about Ann Coulter dissing some 9/11 widows. Quote from the New York Post: "Governor Pataki accused Coulter of being [inner quote] "at best insensitive and at worst really insensitive to the families of the victims," end all quotes.

Just savor that: "at best insensitive and at worst really insensitive."

Towards George Pataki I feel at best lukewarm and at worst really lukewarm. And so far as his apparent intention to run for President is concerned, I am at best consumed with mirth and at worst, falling off my chair.


03 — Iraq: not yet the end of the beginning.     As the Designated Pessimist here at NRO I should have been depressed at the news of Abu al-Zarqawi's death, but in fact I found it thrilling.

This was the fruit of just the kinds of operations I looked forward to in the column I wrote here on the very morning of 9/11, quote: "small teams of inconceivably brave men and women working in strange places, unknown and unacknowledged." How could you not be delighted at this news?

Then, after my — to quote Churchill — "brief moment of jubilation," gloom naturally set in.

It's a great thing to kill terrorists, but there was no line of command from Zarqawi to your average Iraqi car bomber. Zarqawi ran his own gang; and they did their share of mayhem, but the mayhem in Iraq is not a unified operation.

Capturing Saddam was supposed to do something or other to the rate of assassinations and car bombings, but it didn't make a blip. And Saddam was at least an Iraqi. Zarqawi was a foreigner. To go back to Churchill: This isn't the end, nor even the beginning of the end, nor even — and I'm leaving Churchill behind now — the end of the beginning.

The end of the beginning will be when someone is running Iraq's political affairs without the protection of twenty-foot blast walls, multiple checkpoints, and a foreign army.

Is that in sight? Not to my eyes, it isn't.


04 — Our clueless rulers.     One of the depressing things about my line of work is seeing, time and again, how clueless are the people who run our public affairs.

The current immigration squabbles illustrate this. Immigration has been a talking point among opinion journalists and bloggers for years. All the main issues have been thrashed out long since.

You follow all this stuff, you work your way through it to some pretty sound conclusions, and then some politician stands up and says something so crashingly dumb, you realize that not only has he never given the issue a moment's thought, nor have any of his high-paid advisors and speechwriters.

Case in point, George W. Bush in Nebraska the other day saying, quote: "There are those here in Washington who say, 'Why don't we just find these folk and send them home?' Well, that ain't going to work." End quote.

Okay, Mr President — and setting aside the fact that nobody in Washington, to my knowledge, actually is saying the thing you say they're saying — what about attrition? That's A-T-T-R-I-T-I-O-N.

You — you, the executive arm — enforce current laws against hiring illegals. It then gets real hard for illegals to find work and they drift back home. Ever think of that? No, of course not.

Then the President said that the immigration system is "broken and needs fixing." No, Mr President, it isn't broken at all and it doesn't need fixing. It just needs enforcing. That's E-N-F-O-R-C-I-N-G.

You could solve the issue without a single new law if you wanted to. The thing that has got us all puzzled here is, why don't you want to?

And then here comes former Secretary of State Colin Powell telling a business conference in Mexico City — and if I were writing instead of speaking I'd insert a cynical little uh huh right there — telling a business conference in Mexico City that a border wall won't work. Quote: "The Berlin Wall did not work perfectly and the wall that the Israelis are putting up is not going to work perfectly. So a wall alone is not the answer."

Whoever said it was, Colin? If I were Mark Krikorian or one of the other immigration wonks who've been laboring away for years in this particular vineyard — crunching numbers, publishing carefully thought-out proposals, arguing and persuading and fundraising — if I were him, I'd shoot myself right about now.


05 — A King is born.     Well, we got through the dreaded 6/6/06 without the sky turning to flame and Satan appearing to claim our souls.

Over in Bristol, England, a baby was born on the awful date shortly after 6:00 a.m.XXX, after having been induced for six days. He weighed six pounds, six ounces.

Now wait a minute there. Aren't the British supposed to be on the metric system now, like good Europeans? Isn't this baby actually just a boring 2.89 kilograms?

Oh, for goodness sake, Derb! Stop being such a spoilsport and just get on with the story, will ya?

Well, the mother, with that subtle literary sensibility for which the Brits are so well known, named the little infant Damien.

Well, that's it, I guess. We have another twenty years till Damien is old enough to inherit his kingdom. I must say though, to judge from the pictures he's a cute little devil.


06 — New York City's second-rate paper-pushers.     New Yorkers cherished the Daily News front page headline of thirty years ago when the city was asking the federal government, then under the proprietorship of President Gerry Ford, for money to help itself out of a fiscal crisis. The headline read: Ford to City: Drop Dead.

Well, it seems the relationship has only gotten worse since then. The Department of Homeland Security has slashed anti-terror funding to New York City while handing generous grants to places like Omaha, Louisville, Kentucky, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Our tabloids aren't as feisty now as they were then, so none of them came out with the obvious headline: Bush to Terrorists: Kill New York. Anyway, that seems to be the idea in the mind of the feds.

Now, I know a lot of folk out there in the tundra west of the Hudson River hate New York; but I have a sentimental attachment to the place myself, so I share in the general feeling of outrage.

The reason for the funding cut off seems to have been that city officials didn't do the homeland security paperwork right. Perhaps they used both sides of the paper when they were only supposed to use one; or maybe they faxed when they should've mailed. You know how fussy bureaucrats are.

Obviously the paper-pushers over in Omaha and Louisville are much more conscientious than ours. Perhaps we should hire in a few of them. Clearly, filling out federal government forms is one of those jobs New Yorkers won't do.


07 — Voodoo at the World Cup.     The soccer World Cup, played every four years, got underway in Munich, Germany this week.

Personally, as a soccer hater, I couldn't care less; but the event always throws up some illuminating little side stories. Here are a couple from the first week of the thing.

Item. The three nations of Great Britain — England, Scotland, and Wales — field separate teams in the competition. English fans are naturally keen to show their support by flying the English flag.

Unfortunately the English flag is a red cross on a white background. A cross, you see? Think Crusaders. This won't do. Muslims might take offense, and we all know that the end of the world would then soon follow.

So the English flag is being banned all over the place in England. The Sun newspaper of London reports that the Tesco chain of supermarkets has banned its truck drivers from displaying the flag; a fire house in East London has been ordered to stop flying the flag; construction workers at Heathrow Airport have been told not to fly it; cab drivers all over the country have been banned from even showing the flag — in some cases under threat of having their licenses revoked — and so on.

Poor Old England! I got out of there just in time, I think.

Item. there have been street demonstrations in the West African nation of Togo because the Germans wouldn't give visas to Togoese soccer fans who couldn't show a bank account record.

On the upside for Togo, the nation's chief Voodoo priest has predicted success for the national team, who have qualified for the World Cup for the first time.

After, I guess, sacrificing several chickens, the Reverend Togbui Assiogbo Gnaglondjro III said Togo would definitely beat South Korea and France to get to the next round.

You can run off to your bookie with that. It's golden.


08 — Signoff.     That's it for now, folks. Like the pagan lifestyle itself, this week's Radio Derb has been nasty, brutish, and short.

We hope to have a pilot for Derb TV up next week. If you find time hanging heavy on your hands to learn, you could immerse yourself in a good book — a history of algebra, perhaps … Something improving of that kind.

Or you could … hold on a minute, someone's coming up the stairs … [Sound of door opening.] Oh, hi, Ramesh. What's up? And, uh, what's that in your hand, Ramesh? Ramesh?   Don't come any closer! I swear I didn't mean those things! Ramesh! … Aaaaarrgh! [Sound of gunshots.].