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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. Welcome to Radio Derb, ladies and gentlemen. This is your improbably genial host John Derbyshire with news and views this first weekend in April.
You find me in a state of some bemusement, I'm afraid. I just got back from an event someone invited me to, which she told me was to be a "tea party." Well, of course, I didn't want to miss that. I was looking forward to some quiet, genteel conversation over cucumber sandwiches and a nice cup of Ty-Phoo.
Instead I found myself in a large meeting hall full of very rowdy people, some of them wearing war paint and Native American headdresses, all yelling angrily about stimuluses and bailouts, while Michelle Malkin egged them on from the stage through a bull-horn.
It was all very vulgar, and not even a decent cup of Earl Grey to be had in the whole place. Ah, these modern times.
02 — Betty and Phil meet the Royals. Our President swept down from the foggy sky over London in a golden chariot as the wretched inhabitants of that city gazed in awe.
Well, actually it was a helicopter he came down in, and the cockneys were too busy conversing with each other in Arabic, Urdu, Swahili, Polish, Romanian and Cantonese to pay much attention. Fortunately the President had brought some multilingual aides along with him in his two-thousand-person entourage, so he was able to negotiate his way across the metropolis, through the maze of quaint narrow old London streets lined with mosques, Hindu temples, camel dealerships, kielbasi restaurants, opium dens, kebab houses, and female circumcision while-you-wait clinics to a news conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
The Prime Minister simpered, blushed, giggled, and fluttered his eyelids as the President spoke of his mission to bring the blessings of peace and prosperity to the four corners of the earth, and then the Solar System. Then it was off to a royal reception.
The persons actually being received by the royal couple were Betty and Phil Windsor, elderly retirees occupying a modest property in central London next to St James Park.
Betty and Phil, being empty nesters, have few visitors, so they were thrilled and flattered that the royal couple dropped in on them. Our First Lady graciously shook Betty's hand; then, even more graciously, put one of her perfectly-toned arms across Betty's shoulders. Their majesties then gave Betty and Phil a gift — an iPod filled with the President's speeches and video clips of him receiving the adoration of multitudes.
The propriety of this gift was much discussed by onlookers. The New York Post, America's Newspaper of Record, quoted one Susan Fitter Sloane, proprietress of an etiquette consulting business called Global Manners. Ms Sloane said she, if consulted, would have recommended something unique from the Obamas' home city of Chicago.
Now there's an interesting idea, for our royal couple's future state visits: something unique from Chicago. One of the plastic shopping bags that Tony Rezko delivered his bribes in, perhaps? The check stub from one of Jesse Jackson's child support payments in a nice elegant picture frame? A Sears Tower desk ornament that, when you press a button, plays a sound clip of Mayor Richard Daley saying "Who sent you?"
Or how about a DVD collection of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's sermons? Though of course one would want to make sure it would work in the receiving country's DVD players …
The possibilites are endless.
03 — Bobbies confront anarchists. In news coverage of the royal couple's visit to Airstrip One, we also got to see the good old British bobbies in action.
No, not in any of their usual actions — helping burglars climb into houses through the windows, running away from demonstrating Muslims, dragging storekeepers off to jail for selling potatoes in pounds and ounces — none of that. The bobbies here were fending off a mob of anarchists who had gathered, in shameful disrespect towards the royal couple, to protest the G-20 summit meeting our President was attending, the meeting at which he was to lay out his grand strategy for vanquishing war, poverty, oppression, inequality, unemployment, sickness, old age, and death.
The anarchists were a mixed bunch, as I suppose anarchists are bound to be. There seemed to be some confusion in their ranks. To quote from America's Newspaper of Record once again, quote: "They carried Tibetan, Palestinian, communist and anarchist flags," end quote.
Tibetan and communist, eh? Wonder how that would go over in Lhasa.
Everyone's favorite demonstrator was a fellow dressed as the Easter Bunny, who, our Newspaper of Record tells us, managed to hop through a police cordon before being stopped. Or perhaps his battery ran out, I don't know. In any case I have no news of what happened to his basket of eggs.
We must all hope, at any rate, that these protests did nothing to mar the pleasure of the royal couple; and we should thank those fine London bobbies, on their bicycles two by two, who charged so fearlessly into the mob of Palestine supporters, Tibet sympathizers, communists, anarchists, and Easter Bunnies.
04 — Compulsory volunteerism. If there is one thing that drives liberals nuts, it is the thought that somebody, somewhere, might be living life as he pleases, using his time on earth in whatever way he thinks best, with no guidance from any federal government official.
One of the Obama administration's strategies to stamp out that sort of thing is National Service. Remember Obama's call, on the campaign trail last year, to develop, quote: "a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year"? Well, Congress is getting busy on that.
A few days ago the House passed the GIVE Act. That's G-I-V-E, one of those dopey acronyms where they think up the acronym first, then find words to fit it. GIVE stands for Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education, which (a) triples the number of places on AmeriCorps programs, and (b) requires that a commission be established to investigate, quote:
Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.
Get the picture? It's what used to be called "indentured servitude," or in even earlier times, "corvée labor."
It's bad enough that the "volunteerism" in the Act's title is apparently going to be compulsory, but just look at that language: "bringing together people from diverse backgrounds." Not just forced labor, but forced diversity. Not just the government stealing your time, but the government stealing your freedom of association.
But heck, you belong to the government now. Why shouldn't the government do what it likes with you, if it, quote, "strengthens the social fabric of the Nation and overcomes civic challenges"? What, did you think this was still a free country? [Laugh.]
05 — Our new Captains of Industry. Remember those days when business and industry were run by, you know, businessmen and industrialists? Well, that's all behind us, thank heaven! Our national economy has now moved into a new phase, in which key decisions about corporate financing, and even the hiring and firing of CEOs, are in the hands of people like Barack Obama, Timothy "tax evader" Geithner, and Barney Frank.
Let's just review the business experience on display there, shall we? Obama did a few months' copy editing for a newsletter with a circulation in the low double digits. Then he went to Chicago to help run a race shakedown racket there.
Timmy Geithner sharpened pencils for Henry Kissinger for a couple of years, then sank gratefully into a job in one of the less strenuous corners of the federal bureaucracy.
Barney Frank did at least take a shot at entrepreneurship: he tried running a gay escort service out of his apartment. Alas, though, Barney's venture was not successful. Having found his level of business competence, Barney thenceforth devoted all his energies to politics.
These are the new captains of industry here in the U.S.A. Forget about your Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas J. Watson, Sherman Fairchild, and Bill Gates. At the industrial helm now we have Barry, Timmy, and Barney.
With the quantity of business expertise on display there, we shall be leading the world again in no time.
06 — Welfare for Gitmo grads. Our new Director of National Intelligence, retired admiral Dennis Blair, held a news conference.
A reporter asked him about the terrorists detained at Guantánamo Bay. What's the administration going to do with them? he wanted to know. Blair replied thus:
If we are to release them in the United States, you can't just … put them on the street … we need some sort of assistance to them to start a new life and not return to some of the conditions that may have inspired them in the first place.
So apparently, during an economic crisis when citizens are struggling to find or keep jobs while supporting their families, foreign terrorists are to be given money from the public fisc to set themselves up in the U.S.A.
What else are we going to give them, I wonder — flying lessons, perhaps?
Let's face it, the whole idea of warehousing captured terrorists at Guantánamo Bay was dumb from the get-go. The Bush people apparently convinced themselves that the War on Terror was a war, that would end with a victory, a peace treaty, and an exchange of prisoners. Unfortunately nothing like that was ever likely to happen, basically because "terror" is not the name of a country.
These characters, once captured, should have been interrogated, then either shot or handed over to whatever friendly authority we could find in the place of capture.
Memo to future presidents: If the war you're fighting is not a war against an actual country, either don't take prisoners, or else hand off those you've taken to the nearest friendly in a uniform. Don't let them be America's problem.
07 — Obama's Auntie, the First Scofflaw. Barack Obama's aunt, Zeituni Onyango, is living in the United States illegally. In 2004, a federal immigration judge rejected her request for asylum and ordered her to leave the country. Ms Onyango ignored the court, got herself into Boston public housing, and even got a part-time job on the public payroll.
Ms Onyango has a very nice country of her own to live in — it's called Kenya — and the United States has a well-trained corps of immigration enforcement officers who could help Ms Onyango to pack, then politely but firmly escort her to the airport for the next plane home. Why this hasn't happened, I cannot tell you.
It's true that Ms Onyango is the President's aunt; but we're supposed to be a nation of laws, not men, let alone men's aunts, so that shouldn't have anything to do with it.
I think the answer is, that we have lost the will to enforce our laws. That being the case, it's an open question whether we can remain a nation.
I wouldn't bet on it, though I would bet on Ms Onyango still being here when the next President takes office.
08 — Oakland cop killer. On March 21st in Oakland, California, 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon, an African American, was pulled over by two motorcycle cops. He shot them; then, standing over them, he shot them again to make sure they were dead. Cornered by a SWAT team later that day, Mixon shot two more officers dead before being killed himself.
Mixon had spent most of his adult life in prison following a conviction for armed assault in 2002. Just days before the shooting, DNA evidence had linked him to the rape of a 12-year-old girl. He was a suspect in numerous other crimes.
The dead police officers left behind three widows and seven orphans. All 19,000 seats of Oakland's Oracle Arena were packed for the funeral service March 27th, with law enforcement officers from all over northern California in attendance.
Also in attendance was a raft of politicians, including far-left former Congressman Ron Dellums, who is currently Mayor of Oakland. At the request of two of the officers' families, Dellums did not speak.
Lovelle Mixon was also mourned. In fact, admirers of Mixon set up a street memorial to the killer near the scene of the shootings, opposite one that had been set up for the slain officers. Sixty people marched through the neighborhood chanting "OPD you can't hide — we charge you with genocide."
I guess admiration for a loathsome psychopath goes together somehow with inability to think up any new slogans after forty years of demonstrating.
Good night, officers Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai. Good riddance Lovelle Mixon.
09 — Miscellany. Here's our traditional closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: While the drug war heats up on the border with Mexico, we have the beginnings of a dish detergent war on the Washington-Idaho border.
Washington State has banned dish detergent made with phosphates as an environmental hazard. Unfortunately that's the only kind of dish detergent that works. So Washingtonians are sneaking across the state border to bring back contraband dish detergent.
How long can it be before the shooting starts up?
Item: In the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week John Kerry, the senator from le seizième arrondisement, took time out from being Ted Kennedy's footstool to propose a ban on the import of so-called "assault rifles."
I don't know if you've been into a gun store since this new administration came in, listener, but if you haven't, let me tell you, business is booming.
I used to be able to stroll around the Camp Site store here in Huntington, looking at the rifles and chatting with the guys, who are all exceptionally knowledgeable. Now — forget it. It's like the after-Christmas sale at Bloomingdales in there.
If Congress wants to ban gun imports, they'd better do it quick, or there'll be major subsidence in parts of the country from the weight of firearms citizens have stashed in their houses.
Item: A news item from Estonia — I believe the first ever on Radio Derb.
The old Soviet-era joke told by Estonians was: "Our Estonia is the biggest country in the world. The shoreline's on the Baltic, the capital is Moscow, and the population's in Siberia."
There was a sad truth behind it. When the Red Army re-occupied Estonia at the end of WW2, Estonians put up fierce resistance. Twenty thousand of them — that's about one Estonian in sixty — were rounded up and deported to Siberia, with, of course, a very high death rate.
As always in these cases, there were Estonians glad to help in the repression of their fellow-countrymen. One such was Arnold Meri, who had worked for the Soviets, and after Estonia got her freedom in 1991 had been charged for his complicity in the mass deportations.
Well, Mr Meri died last week, basically of old age — he was 89 — and was Buried in Tallinn April 1. Hearing of his death, the government of Russia awarded him the Order of Honor, equivalent to a Congressional Medal of Honor.
I think that's what you might call a leading indicator of the way Russia is going.
Item: Madonna, who looks more and more like the witch Gagoola in the old movie version of King Solomon's Mines, recently got divorced, so she's consoling herself with a shopping binge, as women will. What's she shopping for? Kids, of course.
She's found the cutest little black kid in Malawi, and was all set to have the child gift-wrapped and FedEx-ed to one of her homes in the U.S.A. Unfortunately the Malawians seem to be having some trouble validating Madonna's store card. The aging gym rat offered to pay with her American Express platinum card instead, but they don't take that, so the whole transaction is in limbo. Goodness knows what will happen.
As an absolute last resort, the haggard hip-grinder might have to adopt an American kid instead, losing all those love-the-world status points she'd otherwise get.
Of course, if she's so fond of Malawi, she could always take out citizenship there, then she wouldn't run into these difficulties. That would also have the advantage that we wouldn't see so much of her, perhaps.
Item: This business of gift exchanges between heads of state has been in the news a lot recently. It's not a trivial issue. What do you get for the person who has everything?
If the person is a pop star or movie celebrity, of course, then a winsome African infant will usually fill the bill; but what if the person who has everything is a President or Prime Minister, or the spouse of one such? — it being understood nowadays of course that if you have climbed to the top of the political heap, you will be rich beyond the dreams of avarice.
Well, you might take a tip from Sarah Brown, the British Prime Minister's wife. Hosting Mrs Obama, Mrs Brown presented her with gifts for Sasha and Malia: summer T-shirts, jeans, miniskirts and sunglasses, all of which Mrs Brown had bought personally at Marks & Spencer, the British equivalent of J.C. Penney. Now that's class.
Item: Will Israel attack Iran? For years now, every time I've found myself in company with a military guy who actually knows about these kinds of operations, I've asked him how it would be done, and got the same answer every time: You can't do it without nukes.
If they all know this, I'd assume the Israelis know it too. So with Bibi Netanyahu in charge of Israel now, the question is: Will Bibi be willing to nuke Iran?
My guess is not, at a probability level around eighty percent. If I'm wrong, we're in for some interesting times. If I'm right, we're also in for some interesting times, though a bit further down the road. I really don't know what to hope for here.
Item: The old joke goes that if you suddenly drop down in the street and lie there unconscious, in London people will walk round you, in Paris they'll step over you, in Rome they'll step on you, and in New York they'll rob you.
Well, one thing's for sure, in the New York subway the employees won't be running to help you. Maria Besedin found this out four years ago when, aged 21, she was raped on a subway platform in full view of a ticket booth clerk and a train conductor.
The conductor was just pulling his train out of the station when he saw Ms Besedin being raped. He did call in a trouble report, but he didn't stop his train. Gotta stick to the schedules, you know. I suppose we should be glad he didn't slow the train down to give everyone a good view.
The ticket booth clerk saw the event too, and heard the young woman screaming for help, but he just pressed the trouble button in his booth and went back to doing his Daily News crossword.
By the time the cops arrived, the rapist was gone, and he's never been caught. Ms Besedin sued the subway system, but this week a judge tossed out her case.
Anyone remember that movie The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, where a subway train is highjacked for ransom? The hijackers threaten to kill the passengers. Hearing this, a subway supervisor snarls: "Screw the goddamn passengers! What the hell did they expect for their lousy 35 cents — to live forever?"
That was forty years ago, and it's two dollars to ride the subway now, but the attitude hasn't changed.
Item: This week's Old, Weird America award goes to Mr Kile Wygle of Newark, Ohio, who was arrested and booked for DUI after he crashed his motorized bar stool while plastered.
For sheer automechanical ingenuity, I nominate Mr Wygle as the next CEO of General Motors, though of course we'll have to get Barry, Timmy, and Barney the Purple Dinosaur to sign off on it.
10 — Signoff. There you have it, Radio Derb listeners. I …
… excuse me … Hello? Yes, this is he. Oh, hi, Jonah, what's up? … What? … What? … New editor? What's happened to Rich? … He got fired? … by Obama? … I didn't know Obama was on the National Review board. Who put him there? … He put himself there? Can he do that? … Oh, Congress passed a law — I see. Wow. All right, so who do we report to now? … You're kidding. … Really? Doesn't she already have a magazine of her own? … We're going to consolidate, I see. And the title of the consolidated magazine will be? … O! National Review … got it. All right, thanks Jonah.
[Click.] Hmmm. Well, this might work for me … Perhaps I can get listed in her book club …
[Music clip: Gracie Fields, "Sing As We Go."]