»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, April 25th, 2008


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

01 — Intro.     Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. Another weekend is here, and this is your genial host John Derbyshire with another edition of Radio Derb.

It's been a fun week here at Buckley Towers. We've been doing our annual historical reenactment — you know, one of those things where we all get to dress up and shoot paint bombs at each other. Great Fun.

Although the mise en scène this year wasn't a period of history that I'm really acquainted with, so I didn't actually follow that side of it very well. It was something called the Counter-Reformation. I really have no idea. I'll have to read up on it.

Anyway, it's back to work now. So here is your weekly infusion of cynicism and despair.


02 — Hillary and the Weatherman pardon.     Remember the stir back in 1996 when New York Times columnist William Safire unburdened himself of the opinion that Mrs Clinton is, quote, "a congenital liar." Well, the evidence keeps on mounting.

This Tuesday, Hillary's pantsuit caught fire again. An interviewer raised the matter of a terrorist from the so-called Weather Underground who was pardoned by Bill Clinton at the end of his Presidential term in January 2001.

This terrorist, a woman named Susan Rosenberg, was arrested in 1984 in possession of 740 pounds of dynamite and various lethal weapons. She had been involved before that as driver of a getaway car in the Brinks robbery of three years earlier when two police officers and a security guard were killed.

Well, Bill Clinton pardoned Comrade Rosenberg in January 2001 when he left office. Because Hillary has been getting some mileage out of Barack Obama's friendship with a different radical terrorist, it was fair to ask her about the Rosenberg pardon.

Said Hillary, quote: "Well, I didn't know anything about it."

Okay; follow me here, listeners. Here's the chronology. We're in the 2000 election season. The actual election was on November 7th that year. Hillary was running for a Senate seat in New York State, which is the state where the Brinks robbery occurred.

Nineteen days before the election, as Hillary's campaigning frantically for votes, a newspaper in Rockland county, where the Brinks robbery happened, ran a front page story saying that Susan Rosenberg was trying to get herself a pardon.

The next day there was a memorial service for the two policemen who had been murdered in that 1981 Brinks robbery. Among those in attendance at the memorial service: New York's other Senator Chuck Schumer, who had been out campaigning in support of Hillary. In a story prominently reported around the state, Schumer promised the widows that he'd do all he could to fight the Rosenberg pardon.

Okay. Now, November 7th, Hillary becomes the junior senator from New York. Forward now to December 16th, 39 days after the election. That same newspaper from that same county ran a front page story about an upcoming 60 Minutes episode on Susan Rosenberg's pardon bid. The following day, December 17th, 60 Minutes ran the segment about Rosenberg.

Forward another five weeks, and Billy-Boy issues the pardon to Susan Rosenberg just as he's leaving office.

And all that time, Hillary knew nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

As far as our local newspapers here in New York have been able to discover, Chuck Schumer knew nothing either. Nope. Nothing. Not a thing. Nobody knew anything. Pardon? What pardon? Nobody here but us chickens, boss.


03 — GOP voters won't fall in line.     John McCain, meanwhile, got the Republican vote in the Pennsylvania primary. Well, he got most of it: a tad short of 72 percent.

It would've been nice if the Republican front-runner could have pulled in three quarters of the Republican vote, but McCain couldn't quite swing it.

My man Ron Paul — who, by the way, has an excellent book out that you should buy — got almost 16 percent and ol' Huckleberry Mike got 11.3 percent.

The election-time cliché about the relationships between voters and candidates is: The Democrats fall in love while Republicans fall in line. It's all going wrong this year though. Black Democratic voters and upscale white liberals, they're falling in love all right; but those bitter white, middle- and working-class types just aren't in the mood.

Over on the GOP side, close to 30 percent of Republicans are falling in behind Dr Ron and Hayseed Huck.

What's wrong with these people? With the U.S. military under strain from a huge and unnecessary war, and the economy with two wheels in the ditch, why would people not be enthusiastic about a guy who boasts of knowing nothing about economics and promises us some more wars? It's hard to figure out.

Come on, get in line, people! All right, McCain's a lackluster candidate with unpopular policies, but you're Republicans, remember? You got in line for Bob Dole without all this fuss, and remember how well that worked out.


04 — McCain won't mention Rev'm Wright.     There is another Republican Presidential primary coming up in North Carolina, May 6th; and also on that date, a gubernatorial primary.

In aid of the latter, the North Carolina GOP put together a nice little TV ad spot linking the two Democratic candidates for Governor to our pal the Reverend Jeremiah Wright in full foam flecked rant against the evil U.S. government.

John McCain promptly wrote a letter to the North Carolina Republicans, whom of course he does not control, urging them not to broadcast the ad because it, quote, "degrades our civics and distracts us from the very real differences we have with the Democrats," end quote.

McCain further wrote that, quote: "This ad does not live up to the very high standards we should hold ourselves to in this campaign." End quote.

He concluded with, quote: "It is imperative that you withdraw this offensive advertisement." End all quotes.

Now, this little incident divided Republican observers into two camps, pessimists and optimists.

Pessimists said it proved that their darkest forebodings were correct, that John McCain is too much of a gentleman to get down and dirty with the most left-wing candidate ever to have a serious shot at the Democratic nomination.

The optimists on the other hand said it was all aporia.

Aporia is the name of one of those figures of speech that used to be taught to young men in ancient and medieval times as part of a course in the art of rhetoric. You use aporia when you talk about something by saying you can't talk about it. I simply don't have the words to tell you how useful this can be.

Well, by writing that letter, John McCain is drawing everyone's attention to the offending ad while at the same time letting us know how decent he is by deploring it.

Hm. You know, I wish I could believe that a Republican could really be that smart, but I just can't. My guess is that John-John really does think the ad is disgraceful and he really does think it should be withdrawn.

If I'm right about that, McCain's a goner. But hey, he's a goner, anyway. Al Gore will sweep 48 states in November. This stuff is all just footnotes.


05 — The old, weird America? Lock 'em up!     Speaking of polygamy …

What do you mean, I wasn't speaking of polygamy? I mentioned Jeremiah Wright, didn't I? Who was the longtime spiritual advisor to whom? To the only major U.S. presidential candidate ever to be the product of a bigamous marriage. You see?

Some of these segues are pretty tough, let me tell you.

Okay. Speaking of polygamy, how about this sect down in Texas, in that little ranch at Eldorado? Texas authorities raided the place a couple of weeks ago on a telephone tip about sexual abuse, which was never substantiated. Now they've taken four hundred children away from the only homes they've known to put them in foster care.

Well, I'm against it. I have a little personal history here.

When I was a young school teacher I worked a year in a really bad old-style urban slum in Liverpool, England. The kids at that school were classified as ESN, which stood for "educationally subnormal," which meant that while there wasn't anything actually wrong with them, they'd fallen way behind in their schooling, mostly by a combination of low IQ and really bad home environments.

I got to know the school nurse and the welfare and liaison officers from the local police force and services really well and I heard all their stories, and I taught some of the kids that the stories were about.

One thing everyone always said, which I confirmed, was that in all but the most horribly abusive homes, the kids loved their parents and wanted to stay with them, and were broken-hearted to be taken away from them.

I remember one case of two twin boys — they'd be aged about twelve or thirteen — who showed up at school with bruised faces once too often, so child welfare went round to their house. The squalor there was indescribable, they told me later. The feature that I remember best was the father had pulled up alternate boards from the stairs that lead up to the upper story to use them for firewood, so they had to hop up the stairs, missing out the gaps.

Well, welfare services took the twins away; but those boys screamed and clung to their Mum and Dad, and begged and begged not to be taken from the home they knew, and the parents who, however misguidedly, they loved.

"I'm in anguish over it," the school nurse told me. "I really don't know if we did the right thing."

Well, a polygamy cult can be rough, I understand that. It's rough on a woman who has no kind of independence, nor the alternative satisfaction of a man dedicated to her alone. It's also rough on the young men, most of whom get voted off the ranch to keep the numbers balancing right.

Did they have to take away those kids, though? Were those cultists minding anybody's business but their own?

Do you remember that phrase "The old, weird America"? The old, weird America — couldn't they have left us just a little bit of the old, weird America, these bureaucrats and busybodies and accountants?

No, of course they couldn't. Heaven forbid people should live the way they want to live in 21st-century America. Weird people? Lock 'em up!


06 — Islam gets a pass in Minneapolis.     Still on the polygamy beat here, though even more indirectly. The segue here is polygamy … Muslims. So here's a segment about Muslims …

… in Minneapolis, which I'm told is the Midwest's beating heart of left-liberal political correctness. Well, maybe it is and maybe it isn't. You be the judge.

Here is substitute teacher Amanda Getz. Ms Getz had a bit of a surprise when she showed up to her duties at Tariq ibn Ziyad Academy — henceforth TIZA, T-I-Z-A, TIZA — a K-to-8 charter school in the Minneapolis suburbs.

Ms Getz observed her fifth-grade students being led in Islamic prayers and taught Islamic ritual washing practices and being kept after school for Koran study.

The occasion of Ms Getz's surprise was that TIZA, like other charter schools, is taxpayer-funded. What, Ms Getz wondered, what was all that religion doing in a public school?

Well, Ms Getz recorded her puzzlement in a column for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Since then, the school claims to have received harassing phone calls and emails.

Don't worry though. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is on the case. They have asked the FBI and local law enforcement officers to investigate these threats as possible hate crimes. The FBI is scrambling to obey, declaring their eagerness to, quote, "reach out" to the school.

Police have promised extra patrols near the school. Local politicians are vying with each other to denounce the hate calls.

And, uh, that issue of taxpayer-funded Islamic instruction. Oh, never mind that! For goodness sake, don't you know there's a hate crime going on here?


07 — One more global catastrophe?     Been worrying about global warming, have you? Ha! Sucker, you're behind the curve.

Today's worry topic is global cooling. This is from a story that's been going around from The Australian, which is a newspaper in … Um, let me see … Oh, Australia, I think it is.

The writer of the story tells us that there aren't as many sunspots as there ought to be this year and this is the warning sign that a new ice age is about to start. Worldwide temperatures actually dropped for three quarters of a degree in 2007, he says, and that's another warning sign.

Any day now North America and Europe will be buried under a mile of ice and most advanced nations will have ceased to exist. "A catastrophe beyond imagining," says this Oz fellow.

Well, I wish I could bring myself to care, but I'm pretty much catastrophed out lately, what with terrorism, global warming, Iranian nukes, bio-engineered food, and Britney Spears back in the general population.

That's not even to mention the large Hadron collider going online in Switzerland this July with some nonzero chance of ripping open the fabric of space time.

Let's just try to make it through next week, shall we?


08 — China wins the thousand meters whine.     Commentator Jack Cafferty over at CNN found himself on a sticky wicket this week after saying the following thing, quote:

I think our relationship with China has certainly changed. I think they are basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last fifty years.

End quote.

It was obvious that Jack meant the ChiCom government, but the masses took it personally and poor Jack is being burned in effigy from Manchuria to Macau, from Shanghai to Sichuan.

You read some of the news stories about this, though, and the impression comes on you that the Chinese are suffering from some kind of collective psychosis.

Listen: this is from a Reuters report, quote:

A Chinese primary-school teacher and a beautician have filed a suit against CNN in New York over these remarks, which they say insulted the Chinese people. They are seeking 1.3 billion dollars in compensation — one dollar per person in China.

Speaking in New York Liang Shubing — she's the beautician — and Lily Lan — that's the teacher — claimed that Cafferty's words insulted all Chinese people and, quote within a quote here, "intentionally caused mental harm" to them.

End quote.

Now quite aside from the fact that if we had a government worth a damn, these two morons would have been on a plane back to China about thirty minutes after that news report appeared — apart from that, just look at the psychology there. And it's not just these two Sino-nitwits either. Later in the same report, a ChiCom spokes-commie tells us that Cafferty, quote, "hurt China's feelings."

Poor things! We hurt their feelings! This from a representative of the party that caused thirty million Chinese people to starve to death via agricultural policies of sensational stupidity.

Perhaps it starved those thirty million people to death without hurting their feelings — who knows? Perhaps it massacred all those Tibetan monks and nuns without hurting their feelings either. Perhaps it's beating up on Falun Gong demonstrators without hurting their feelings.

What a nation of crybabies! You're going to hear a lot more whining like this as the Summer Olympics go down the tubes. It will be a regular whine-o-rama of self-pity and self-justification by people who simply cannot imagine that their nation could ever do or ever have done anything wrong.

Perhaps we could make it an Olympic event. You know: the thousand meters whine, the triple emotional blackmail, something like that.

Memo to the world's most insecure people: Get yourselves a civilized, rational form of government and then there will be no more issues between you and us than there are between Japan and us, or Australia and us, or Sweden and us.

Or stick with this bunch of goons and thugs you've got in charge there and sooner or later things will end in tears. Real tears.


09 — Miscellany.     Okay, just a few short items to see us out.

Item:  Older people are happier, it says here. A University of Chicago researcher has found that people over eighty are happier than people under forty.

Well, I bet that's right. When you're over eighty you can do what you damn well please and get away with it. If I make it eighty I'll take up cigarettes again, drink a bottle of Old Crow every day, and slop around in my pajamas; and I'll be happy, real happy.

When you're young you have to please people, and that's a chore. When you're old you only have to please yourself. I look forward to it.


Item:  One of my favorite movie lines was the one uttered by the subway supervisor in that 1970s movie about the hijacking of a New York subway train, quote: "Screw the goddamn passengers! What the hell do they expect for their lousy thirty-five cents — to live forever?"

Well, the fare on the New York subway system is up to two dollars now and for that you're getting a much higher standard of care for customer safety.

Matter of fact, as of this Thursday you'll be getting teams of cops with MP-5 submachine, guns, rifles, body armor and bomb-sniffing dogs.

The subway, you see, has been identified as a prime terrorist target, so the transit authority's spending $151,000,000 to give us the illusion of safety.

Says Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, quote:

Times Square, Grand Central, Penn Station, … the locations you would expect, but not only those locations. The assignments will vary and we'll be following no discernible pattern.

End quote.

No discernible pattern, huh? Pretty much like the arrival times of New York subway trains.


Item:  A prison, a prison in northern England found out that members of the public were climbing over the prison walls to bring drugs into the prison.

These intruders put up ladders to climb over the walls and then they'd pull the ladders into the prison compound, spend the night dealing their drugs and hiding out in the prison, and then leave via the ladders in the morning.

The interesting point here is, why didn't the actual prisoners inside take the opportunity to escape via those same ladders? Answer: because they're too comfortable inside, says this report in the London Daily Mail. Quote:

Prisoners receive a wage for being in prison. They receive a bed, a TV in all cells, Sky Television in most areas for recreational use, free telephones, breakfast in bed on many occasions, cash bonuses for good behavior, and prison staff are forced to deal with them in a subservient way.

End Quote.

And all the drugs you want, too, apparently.

From what my English friends tell me about job prospects and the cost of living over there, pretty soon it won't be just drug dealers who are breaking into the jails. The prison guards will be trying to keep regular citizens out, too.


Item:  Another report here on the gangsta-rap style of extremely low-slung baggy pants for men.

For some reason this fashion statement is particularly prevalent in Louisiana. Towns all around the Pelican State have been passing by-laws to ban these displays, which usually feature a few inches of colorful underwear and, if you're really unlucky, some cleavage.

Well, the state legislature itself took the matter up, but they decided against statewide legislation. The news report doesn't really tell us why they decided against it. Perhaps they feared it would lead to a shortage of plumbers.


Item:  Time. Time … A couple of items about time.

The first item concerns the official calendar of Turkmenistan in Central Asia.

I know a lot of my listeners have been worrying about this. The rest of you will need reminding that President Saparmurat Niyazov gave Turkenistan's calendar a makeover, renaming January in honor of himself and renaming various other months and days after his mother and some other people he liked.

Well, president Niyazov died in 2006. His successor, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, has reverted to the old names, which I guess makes him a conservative.

And if you think my job is easy, try saying "Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow" a few times without losing a tooth.


Item:  Just one more. This is another chronological — in fact, a horological — item.

Quote from the BBC:

Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace Greenwich Mean Time, arguing that the Saudi city is the true center of the earth.

End quote.

Er, excuse me, but wouldn't the center of the Earth be like, uh, about 4,000 miles below Mecca? How do you locate the center of a sphere's surface? But these are Muslim scientists, so they must know what they're talking about, mustn't they?


One geologist argued that unlike other longitudes, Mecca's was in perfect alignment to magnetic north.

End quote.

You know, I hate to be nit-picky again, but doesn't magnetic north move around? So that even if Mecca's in line with it today, it won't be aligned with it next year?

Not that I'm questioning the word of these wise Muslim scientists and clerics. No way! I don't want to get one of those fatwa things lobbed at me.

This news item also introduced us to the Mecca watch. The Mecca watch — whose hands, for some reason, rotate counter-clockwise. Oh, that could take some getting use to. Well …

Hold on, what's this package that's just arrived in the lunchtime mail? [Unwrapping sounds.] Why, it's my very own Mecca watch! Let me just wind it up and get it going and I'll record the rest of this segment on Mecca time. Hold on … Okay … Right, here we go.

Ot esu gnitteg emos ekat dluoc taht, ho. Esiwkcolc-retnuoc etator, nosaer emos rof, sdnah esohw — hctaw Accem eht. Hctaw Accem eht ot su decudortni osla meti swen siht …


10 — Signoff.     Well, I had to whack my Mecca watch with a hammer. That business with the hands going backwards was starting to make me feel younger. I don't want to be younger. I want to be old and happy.

Besides, I'm not sure how this works, but when the hands on your watch go backwards, it seems like you're always late for everything. I guess it's a Moslem thing. Perhaps that's why they're late getting out of the Middle Ages.


[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]