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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Well, don't say we didn't warn you. You elect a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress, and the spending sluice-gates open. I haven't yet heard that the Department of Defense is joining with Treasury to send flights of B-52s over the country carpet-bombing us with hundred-dollar bills, but it must be in the works.
Remember Carl Sagan telling us about the billions and billions of stars in the galaxy? Well, nowadays a billion dollars won't buy you half a billion. To be a playah, you have to talk trillions and trillions.
Let's take a look.
02 — Big spender. [Clip from "Hey, Big Spender."] The President presented his budget proposal on Wednesday, a package of 3.6 trillion dollars in spending on welfare, new entitlements, handouts to irresponsible people, pointless military deployments, payoffs to Democratic constiutencies, and so-called "investments" in faddish environment-friendly schemes with guaranteed negative return on the "investment."
It's interesting to peer down the numerous plug-holes this money will disappear into, but as always it's just as instructive to ask where the money is coming from — the whence that makes possible the whither. So where's it all coming from?
Well, some of course will come from increased taxes — this is a Democrat administration, after all. Capital gains tax will go up, the Bush tax cuts will expire, oil companies will lose big deductions, and there's vague talk of, quote, "closing the tax gap." That's the gap between the amount government thinks it should gather from us, and the amount it actually does gather.
This is just an issue of diminishing returns. Under really sloppy tax collection procedures, you can close the gap by a billion by just spending a few million on better enforcement. Further down the enforcement curve, it costs more and more to get each next improvement, until you are spending a hundred million to collect a hundred million. Beyond that point the cost of enforcement exceeds the rewards, and there is no point trying to close the gap further.
All this has been known for half a century, and the President insults our intelligence by including it in his revenue-raising plan.
Beyond all that, there are only two ways to get all this money: print it, or borrow it. The administration is going gung-ho on the borrowing, with auctions of Treasury paper at an accelerating pace. Bloomberg reports that the government sold 94 billion dollars worth of Treasury notes just this week. They quote a Korean bond trader as saying that the U.S.A. is borrowing so much that it may have trouble paying the money back.
Whether we actually will have trouble paying all this debt back is not actually as important as whether people like that trader think we'll have trouble. Once they think that, they'll stop buying the stuff.
The peaceniks back in the sixties used to ask: "What if they had a war and nobody showed up?" The question for our times is: "What if the Treasury holds a bond auction and nobody shows up?"
03 — Not the State of the Union. The President was busy this week. Not only did he launch his spending extravaganza, he made a big speech. Not officially a State of the Union speech, we're told, but the same format.
The speech left me with a kind of sinking feeling. I can't say I've ever held Obama in much regard. Nobody has been able to tell me of anything consequential he did before going into politics; and his voting record has been steadily left-liberal. What's for a conservative to like? Watching this speech, though, I realized how tired I am of his oratorical style, which looks more and more mannered and artificial the more we're exposed to it.
And then, once you're no longer caught by the delivery, the things he is actually saying start to look awfully flimsy. I never thought Obama was a heavyweight; but watching him in action at length for the third or fourth time, it's dawning on me what a terrible light-weight he is. There really isn't much there, other than some stale ideas left over from sixties radicalism.
He has a way of making oratorical feints to the right; but given his record, it's hard to believe he means them. Quote:
As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President's Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government — I don't.
You don't, Mr President? That's not what your voting record suggests. And if you don't believe in bigger government, why did you tell us in the next paragraph of the transcript that, quote:
This plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector.
So up to ten percent, a third of a million or so, will be in the public sector. That would make government bigger, wouldn't it?
In the paragraph after that you tell us that, quote:
Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight …
OK: but teachers and cops are public employees, and health care workers may as well be, since health care is heavily funded by government through Medicare, Medicaid, and tax breaks for employer insurance plans.
And again, quote:
And that's why I've asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort … I have told each of my Cabinet, as well as mayors and governors across the country, that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend.
But no President — let alone a Vice President, let alone Joe Biden — can monitor public spending at that level of detail. As for the American people monitoring spending: in every instance, there will be a small but vocal, tireless, and well-organized lobby insisting on the spending, and an indifferent mass of us just resigned to it, knowing we can't compete in time or enthusiasm with the lobbies.
No, sorry, no sale. This was an empty speech, when it wasn't actually dishonest. And this is an empty President, when he isn't actually dishonest. And behind him, Congress, with their seats for life and their pockets stuffed with hundred dollar bills from the lobbyists.
Neither the President nor the Congress inspires any confidence in me. I'd like the President to shut up and go cut some ribbons at state fairs. I'd like Congress to take twelve months off to do nothing but repeal stupid laws — or, failing that, just take twelve months off. We could send 'em all to Aruba for a year, it's be cheaper than having them in Washington, legislating.
Fat chance. I guess it's going to be a long four years for us conservatives.
04 — Obama's pirate-crew cabinet. And then, even if you can believe what the President's saying, look at these characters he's filled his cabinet with.
Obama can smile and orate all he likes, and tell us he doesn't believe in bigger government, and boast about creating jobs in the private sector — that would be the sector he worked in for less than a year, telling us in his autobiography that he felt like a spy behind enemy lines, the sector his wife told the school children of America to avoid.
But even if you're taken in by the smile and the jokes and the gestures and the grandiose promises, take a look over his shoulder at who's lined up behind him. Just look at them! — what a pirate crew of socialists, race hustlers, grievance nags, feminist harpies, gun grabbers, open-borders fanatics, terrorist sympathizers, regulators, and spenders!
Never mind Obama, keep your eye on these enforcers he's put in charge of our government.
05 — GOP doubles down on minority vote. Whether or not Americans in general are cowards about race, as the Attorney General claimed, the Republican Party is obviously terrified of the whole topic — terrified, that is, that someone somewhere might think they are a white people's party.
Now, to some degree the GOP is a white people's party — to the degree, that is, that white voters show a mild preference for Republican candidates, while nonwhite voters show a much stronger preference for Democrats.
In the 2008 Presidential voting, for example, John McCain — a weak candidate following an unpopular Republican administration — none the less managed to get 55 percent of the white vote. He only got four percent of the black vote, 31 percent of the Hispanic vote, and 35 percent of the Asian vote.
The fact of the Democratic Presidential candidate being African American didn't make all that much difference, since minority preference for Democrats of any color was already so pronounced. The GOP share of the black vote in 2004 was only 11 percent, so it dropped seven percent in 2008. The GOP share of the Hispanic vote in 2004 was 40 percent, though, so the Hispanic vote dropped nine percent in 2008, in spite of McCain's relentless Hispandering. (The GOP share of the white vote dropped three percent, by the way.)
McCain was in fact scrupulously and relentlessly politically correct on matters of race all through his campaign; yet as those numbers show, it didn't do him a bit of good.
You could hardly blame the GOP at this point if they just gave up on the minority vote. To the contrary, though, the GOP has doubled down its bet. If George W. Bush appointing two black Secretaries of State and a black Secretary of Education, Hispanics as Attorney General and Commerce Secretary, and an Asian Secretary of Labor — if that didn't win any minority votes, let's try harder! That seems to be the GOP mentality.
So when time came to elect a new chairman of the Republican National Committee in January, the winner was an African American, Michael Steele. And when the GOP needed someone to respond to Obama's big speech this week, they chose Bobby Jindal.
Jindal's family are Indians from the Punjab speaking an Indo-European language; but as the Duke says in Huckleberry Finn: "don't you worry; these country jakes won't ever think of that." Jindal has brown skin, and that was good enough for the GOP honchos when picking someone to respond to Obama.
This is not a great time to be a white Republican, unless you like sitting in the back of the bus.
It all strikes me as a bit crude and transparent, and I very much doubt it'll win the GOP any minority votes, but I'll be glad to be proved wrong.
06 — Jindal's response to Obama's speech. So what did Governor Jindal have to tell us? Quote: "Americans can do anything!" (Repeated three times.)
Well, that's not quite true. America can't find Osama bin Laden, for example. America also can't devise a system of public education that Leaves No Child Behind, nor a health care system that gives everybody all the health care they want, whether they can afford it or not.
I suppose Jindal just wanted to sound upbeat, but I really wish politicians would cut out this infinite-possibility stuff and just offer a few mundane solutions to mundane problems.
Perhaps that's just me. I'm a Coolidge-Eisenhower guy; I like my politicians to speak plainly about practical matters close to the ground, and leave preaching to the preachers.
Jindal got better as he went on, anyway. He gave a straightforward statement of conservative principle, saying that there is a, quote, "honest and fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government." I was nodding along with that.
He said that the way to strengthen the country is to rein in federal spending — nice to hear a politican say that, too.
I didn't settle firmly into Jindal's camp, though, until I heard David Brooks in the talking-head commentary afterwards call Jindal's speech, quote, "insane," and imply that conservatives are, quote, "weird."
I've had my doubts about Jindal — that peculiar business about the exorcism, for example — and lets face it, he's kind of dorky looking. Can't we bulk him up a bit? Still, anyone that David Brooks thinks is insane can't be all bad, and I came away from Jindal's speech liking him more than I did before.
07 — U.S.A. funds Hamas. So where's our money going, this trillion, two trillion, three trillion, whatever it's up to now, that the feds have taken from us and our children?
Well, around a billion of it is going to Hamas, the Arab terrorist group. Yes, folks, the federal government has pledged 900 million dollars to rebuild Gaza. Quote:
The money will be channeled through U.N. and other bodies and will not be distributed via the militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
I bet he did. Is there anyone who doesn't know that Hamas control in Gaza is total? That not a sparrow falls in Gaza without Hamas authorizing it? That U.N. officials totally rely on Hamas for all distribution of every kind of aid? That any U.N. official in Gaza who did anything at all Hamas disapproved of would find himself strapped to a Hamas missile for a one-way trip to Israel?
For goodness sake: WHY ARE WE GIVING 900 MILLION DOLLARS TO A GANG OF CRAZY ISLAMISTS?
To add insult to injury, here comes Hillary Clinton talking angry to Israel because she thinks they're blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza. Why the hell would Israel supply humanitarian aid to Gaza? Hamas, who run Gaza, are lobbing missiles into Israel. Not were, are — they sent missiles into Israel this week, just throwing them at random into Israeli towns and cities hoping to kill Jews. Is there any case in history of a nation supplying humanitarian aid to a nation that was attacking it?
If the Arabs in Gaza want humanitarian aid, let them ask their rich friends in the Muslim world — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait. It's not for Americans, still less for Israelis, to help these crazy murderers. They hate America and they hate Israel: why would they expect any help from us? Let their brother Muslims help them.
And why bother rebuilding Gaza anyway? It'll only get flattened again in the next round of fighting. Leave it flat, I say. Easier to spot the missile launchers.
All together now: RUBBLE DOESN'T MAKE TROUBLE.
08 — Afghanistan: Eight years is enough. Here's another place your money is going, and your children's money: Afghanistan.
Why? To defeat the Taliban, that's why. But why would we want to defeat the Taliban? We taught them a good lesson after they hosted bin Laden and his crazies. We took down their government and killed thousands of them. Point made. Now let's cut a deal and get out of there. They know they'd better not host al-Qaeda again.
Afghanistan is of zero strategic or economic importance. We've lost nearly 600 of our people there, and spent untold billions of dollars; and after eight years, we have nothing to show for it. Afghans have played no significant role in any major terrorist attack before or after 9/11. The place is a sinkhole — a failed nation with very little prospect of ever being anything else.
Our only interest in the place, as Defense Secretary Gates himself said the other day, is in seeing they don't play host to people planning attacks against us — which is precisely the same interest we have in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and half a dozen other countries, including, come to think of it, Britain, eight of whose citizens are currently on trial for planning attacks on U.S. airliners.
If we're not making war in those other countries, why are we making war in Afghanistan? Cut a deal with the Taliban and get out. Leave 'em alone with their goats, their buggery, and their blood feuds.
Eight years of floundering about in a dustbowl to no result is quite enough.
09 — Al Sharpton & the cartoon. Isn't it amazing how cartoons cause so much trouble?
There were those Mohammed cartoons in Denmark that got the Islamists worked up. Now here's New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas in hot water for one of his cartoons.
This one showed two cops who'd just shot a chimp, relating to the story Radio Derb covered last week, the story about the Connecticut woman whose pet chimp savaged a friend and had to be shot by police. Well, in the cartoon, one of the cops is saying: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill." Since the stimulus bill, like every other bill, is written by members of Congress and their staffs, this was obviously a slur on the intelligence of congresscritters.
Not to Al Sharpton. The New York Post is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch got waivers from the normal FCC rules so that he could own two newspapers and two TV stations in the same market (the other newspaper being the Wall Street Journal). Sharpton wants the FCC to re-examine the waivers, claiming that this cartoon in one of Murdoch's newspapers was a calculated insult to African Americans.
Sharpton wants the FCC to punish Murdoch. That's what he says he wants, anyway. Would you like me to tell you what Sharpton really wants, listeners? Would you? You sure? OK, here's what Sharpton really wants. [Ker-ching.]
Memo to Rupert Murdoch: Just find out how much this clown wants, then write him a check and he'll go away. It's a shame that these race shakedowns are legal in America, but they are, and there isn't anything you can do about it. Just write the damn check.
Nice work there, Al, upholding [ker-ching] the dignity [ker-ching] of African Americans [ker-ching].
10 — Mortgage relief for illegals. I guess you've seen that bumper sticker going round, that says HONK IF YOU'RE PAYING MY MORTGAGE.
Well, the Obama administration's innocuously named Mortgage Modification Program is by no means restricted to legal residents of the U.S.A. Why would it be? No other government benefit is.
Yes, illegal immigrants can get their mortgages paid by the taxpayer, too. The Center for Immigration Studies reports that as many as a million illegal immigrants will be eligible to apply for mortage relief.
Quote from a guy named Chad Buchanan, who runs one of these ACORN-type outfits who will do the actual shoveling of taxpayer money to mortage payment defaulters, quote:
All we are looking to do is to modify the current note, regardless what the legal immigration status of the client is.
So now we not only have to educate the kids of these immigration scofflaws, and wait in line behind them at the hospital emergency room, and give them reduced fees at state colleges that our own citizens can't get, and pay for the jail cells to house their gangbangers, we also have to pay their mortgages, when we're struggling to pay our own and hold onto our jobs.
Did you need any more evidence that illegal aliens are a privileged class, while law-abiding U.S. citizens are being taken for suckers?
A good life strategy at this point would be to flee the country, renounce your citizenship, then come back as an illegal immigrant. You'll be in clover.
11 — Miscellany. Just a wee miscellany of short items.
Item: News of the Octomom. Just to remind you: this is a lady with no marketable skills, living on food stamps and disability payments, got fourteen kids and no husband, right?
Well, she's house-hunting, in an upscale district of Los Angeles. What we're hearing is, she's selected a house listed at 1.2 million dollars. One point two million … that's a lot of food stamps.
Item: The mayor of the Mexican city of Juárez has fled across the border to El Paso with his family, after the drug gangs who run Juárez put out a contract on him.
That would be like the mayor of Detroit fleeing over to Windsor, Ontario for fear of the local crime syndicate … which, come to think of it, is not so unthinkable.
Oh well: if the mayor settles here for good, at least he'll have the good old American taxpayer to cover his mortgage for him.
Item: If you want to be Secretary of Commerce, stick around. The President is working his way down the electoral rolls to try to find someone who'll corrupt the U.S. census process the way he wants it corrupted.
Latest name to pop up is Gary Locke, former governor of Washington and od Chinese parentage — his Chinese name, if I have read it correctly, means "Domestic Brightness."
You'll recall that Obama's first choice, Bill Richardson, had to step down for being too doughy and boring, and his second choice backed out because he didn't approve of counting actual legal residents of the U.S. as only three-fifths of a person for census purposes.
This latest choice may be a case of third time's a charm. Perhaps Gary Locke will indeed shed some brightness on our domestic affairs.
The way things are going, I'm going to stick around anyway and hope for that cabinet position.
Item: The Oscars came and went. I wish I could think of something coherent to say about them, but I can't. I'm too far behind the curve on pop culture. I hadn't seen any of the movies and didn't know half the people.
So I'm sitting there with my kids and I'm like, "Why is Ben Stiller wearing that fake beard?" and then I'm like "Where the hell is 'Mumbai'?" and the kids are like "For heaven's sake stop talking, Dad."
[Clip from "Mother's Little Helper."]
Oh well, at least I recognized Kate Winslet. What a woman! If she'd looked straight into the camera and purred "Put your hands on me, Jack," I think I would have died and gone to heaven right there. That's my Oscars report.
Item: Just a world-wide super-condensed roundup.
Three people with, quote, "personal grievances" set themselves on fire in central Peking.
An Irish economy airline, Ryanair, is going to charge passengers one British pound for using the toilet.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy revealed himself to be a stamp collector, increasing his dork quotient fivefold overnight.
A night attendant at a morgue in Cincinnati has been indicted for intimacy with some large but unknown number of corpses over sixteen years, though so far as I know none of them was the corpse of the U.S. economy.
A child-minder in Louisiana traded two children, neither of whom was hers, for a cockatoo and $175 cash, to a childless couple desperate to adopt. Let's hope the Octomom doesn't get to hear about that.
And a chap in West Sussex, England, had his cell phone eaten by a huge cod. The phone was recovered by a fisherman and the cod was served up on old newspapers with chips and vinegar.
12 — Signoff. Hmm, fish and chips, got my mouth watering there. Yes, I know, you can get fish and chips in the States, but it's not the same. You can get pizza in England, but it's way not the same.
OK, that's your half hour of misery and mayhem for this week, Radio Derb listeners. Here's Gracie to lighten thing up a little.
[Music clip: Gracie Fields, "Sing As We Go."]