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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Hmm. We've had a couple of grumbles from listeners who have had enough of the Derbyshire Marches. I'm naturally reluctant to let go of pieces that Franz Joseph wrote especially for me, but the customer is always right, so I'm on the lookout for a change of intro music. Suggestions gratefully received.
OK, here we are with our weekly broadcast from Buckley Towers, in the heart of Manhattan. This is your imperturbably genial host John Derbyshire, and here is the news.
02 — Irangnoramus. I have a confession to make, gentle listener: I don't know squat about Iranian politics. In fact it's worse than that: not only do I not know squat, I don't know diddley squat.
In such a state of ignorance, what's the poor pundit to do? I'm supposed to come up with opinions for all you listeners to mull over. You remember that bit in Milton's poem where
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed,
Well, taking you listeners to be the hungry sheep looking to Radio Derb for mental sustenance, I certainly don't want you all to rot inwardly, swollen with wind and spreading foul contagion. I'd hate to be responsible for that, so I'd better get up to date on this Iran business. Let's find an expert.
Here's one: Amir Taheri, writing in the New York Post. Quote from him:
Rafsanjani believes that Mousavi's minimalist strategy will lead into an impasse … Rafsanjani's strategy is aimed at forming a transitional authority backed by the grand ayatollahs of Qom. Once that authority is in place, the Assembly of Experts, a 92-mullah organ that has the power to impeach and dismiss the "supreme guide," could be used as a threat to Khamenei, forcing him to cooperate or risk losing his job.
Wow. Fascinating stuff, eh? Is it lunch time yet?
Sorry, lost my attention there. OK, we have this 92-mullah organ that can … what can it do? I've forgotten. Does it have a vox humana stop, I wonder? Most church organs have, as I recall. Though this would be an Islamic organ, which of course might be different.
I bet that 92-mullah organ is real important though. I bet Iranian politics is real important. See, for example, if Li'l Squinty gets kicked out and this other bloke, Moussaka I think he's called, if Moussaka gets in, we won't have to worry about Iran getting nukes. Oh, wait a minute: Mascara is totally on board with the nuke program. So I guess that's not it.
There's definitely something real important happening in Iran though, and I'll get it figured out and tell you about it just as soon as I've gotten this thing off my thumb.
So much going on in the world! I took my car to the body shop this morning — this is Drew's place down on Jericho Turnpike. One of Drew's guys gave me a lift back home. Super nice guy, name of Hector, an immigrant from Colombia. Hector told me all about Colombian politics as we drove home. Interesting, real interesting. And important, for sure.
I bet Indonesian politics is real important too. And what's going on in Bangladesh? Gotta check.
Boy, this Ped-Egg thing is really great, isn't it? I had a big old callus on my right-side little toe, and now that sucker's totally gone! When's it going to stop raining, though? Gotta mow the lawn, but it's pointless when the grass is wet. You know how wet grass all gets stuck under the mower, then drops off in clumps …
03 — Michelle seeks purpose. A big gushy piece here in the Washington Post about First Lady Michelle Obama.
Apparently Michelle's getting restless up there in the White House, having nothing much to do, missing her work in Chicago shaking down hospital boards for ACORN contributions. What meaning, what purpose is there in life, if you can't go to work every day browbeating guilty white liberals?
Well, Michelle's not one to sit and brood. Quote from the Post, quote:
She is hiring a full-time speechwriter and has instructed her staff to think "strategically" so that every event has a purpose and a message.
Oh boy, it sounds like Hillary Clinton over again, with the politics of meaning. What happened to Hillary, by the way? Oh, right.
Anyway, Michelle's determined to make a difference. She's been having meetings with her staff, instructing them on how to infuse with meaning everything they do. Not that they should do too much, of course. Quote from the Post:
She exhorted her staff to find a personal balance. For her part, Obama informed them that she would practice what she preached: She did not intend to work more than 2½ days a week. She was also planning to take off the month of August.
Me too, Michelle. I mean, August is just too hot to do anything much, right? August is for hanging out at the pool.
Now, to be fair to the First Lady, I should note that some of the things she's doing are actually worthwhile. Quote:
She let congressional families know that before the annual White House barbecue today, the 500 guests are expected to show up at Fort McNair to stuff camp backpacks with goodies for the children of military personnel.
I'm going to drop the cynicism for a moment — just for a moment, don't worry — and say I think that's very commendable. Credit where credit's due, and it's due to Michelle here, helping military families.
In fact, for the first time in my life, I feel proud of our new First Lady.
04 — Sarkozy bans burqas. French President Nicolas Sarkozy threw conservatives into a spasm of cognitive dissonance on Monday when he said that the burqa — that's the full-body religious gown worn by pious Muslim women — the burqa will, quote, "not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."
How's a conservative supposed to process that? On the one hand, government has no business telling people what they should or should not wear, outside some minimal bounds of customary decency. On the other hand, the burqa is a symbol of Muslim apartness, separateness, determination not to assimilate to Western culture. As such, it is obnoxious to the patriots of any Western country.
This, unfortunately, is the kind of conundrum a country gets into if it permits mass settlement of people from a completely alien and hostile culture. The solution is not to allow the settlement.
Any Muslim who is dissatisfied with his country has fifty-six others to choose from in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan. Many of these countries have wonderful climates. Some of them even have economies.
Western countries are under no obligation to permit mass Muslim settlement, and they have been fools to do so. Having done so, countries like France and Britain have saddled themselves with ugly problems; but that's their own stupid fault for having practiced insane immigration policies. Plenty of people foresaw the problems, but they were shouted down as racists.
Thank goodness we in the U.S.A. are so much more sensible!
Still, something's better than nothing, and Radio Derb salutes President Sarkozy for what is, alas, a rearguard action on behalf of Western Civ. [Clip: the Marseillaise.]
05 — Mark Sanford's affair. I've been reading these emails between South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and the lady he fell in love with down in Argentina. I must say, I find them quite touching. Quote:
The rarest of all commodities in this world is love. It is that thing that we all yearn for at some level — to be simply loved unconditionally for nothing more than who we are — not what we can get, give or become.
All right, it's not very original; but it's true, and well expressed, and sounds like it's from the heart.
Another one, quote:
You have a particular grace and calm that I adore. You have a level of sophistication that is so fitting with your beauty. I could digress and say that you have the ability to give magnificently gentle kisses, or that I love your tan lines or that I love the curves of your hips, the erotic beauty of you holding yourself (or two magnificent parts of yourself) in the faded glow of night's light …
Oh boy. Is it getting warm in here? Did the a/c go off?
Now, there are of course other persons concerned here, and suffering distress as a result of Governor Sanford's affair. I wouldn't make light of that. People will fall in and out of love, though, it's a part of life and has to be coped with.
It can happen to Republicans as well as Democrats — Ronald Reagan was divorced, wasn't he? If politicians are going to go astray and we're going to be told about it, I'd far rather read the tender, literate, and plainly genuine endearments between Mark Sanford and his Maria, than read about the coarse, affectless gropings of Ted Kennedy or Bill Clinton.
Speaking of whom: If Republican talk about family values makes Mark Sanford a hypocrite for falling out of love with his wife and into love with his gal down there in Argentina, what does Democratic talk about the rights and dignity of women make Kennedy and Clinton? Aren't philandering liberals just as hypocritical as philandering conservatives, just in a different way?
Mark Sanford can have my vote any time he wants it. The only thing that would give me pause would be his having left the chain of command in his state government unsettled during his disappearance.
As a person suspicious of government activities on large general principle, though, I'm not averse to a brief and occasional spell of government paralysis. No, I'll vote for you, Mark.
Not that you, or any sane person, would want to run for office in New York State.
06 — Norks target Hawaii (cont.). North Korean leader Kim Jong Il deserves some kind of award for sheer brazen chutzpah.
His country doesn't have two dimes to rub together, there's no electric power (to judge by those satellite pictures taken at night, when the whole country is pitch dark), a couple of years bad weather kills off a million or so North Koreans from famine, and there are a quarter million people in labor camps under appalling conditions for crimes like having relatives abroad or sitting on a newspaper that has Kim's picture in it.
Yet this obnoxious little jerk has everybody worried he'll do something crazy; and he knows it, and plays up to it, and turns it into hard cash for his regime. Now Intelligence sources in Japan tell us he's planning to shoot a missile at Hawaii on July 4th.
As Radio Derb has said many times before, we favor leaving it up to the Russians, Chinese, Japanese, and South Koreans to deal with Kim. It's much more their business than it is ours. As I've also said before, though, Nork missiles offer superb opportunities for us to field test our anti-missile defenses, and we ought to take full advantage.
Oh, and there's a Nork ship strongly suspected of carrying contraband, headed for the Middle East. Once again, an opportunity. Don't our submarines have any spiffy new torpedo systems we'd like to field test?
You know how it is: The annoying crazy guy who's been following you down the street yelling obscenities can just test your patience so far before you stop, turn round, and bop him one on the nose. It generally shuts him up.
07 — McChrystal's rules of engagement. In the terrifically important war we are waging in Afghanistan — you know, that war we have been fighting for eight years now so that, er … to ensure that, um … because it's vital to, ah … [crickets chirping] — yes, that war; well, the new NATO commander, our own General Stanley McChrystal, has announced new rules of engagement.
Quote from the Associated Press:
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took command of international forces in Afghanistan this month, has said his measure of effectiveness will be the 'number of Afghans shielded from violence' not the number of militants killed.
That seems to mean that the progress of this never-ending war, so vital to U.S. national interests, will be measured not by how many enemy combatants we kill, but by how many enemy civilians we don't kill. I hate to nitpick here, but … how exactly do you count that?
Another quote, this one from spokesman Rear Admiral Greg Smith.
If there is a compound they're taking fire from and they can remove themselves from the area safely, without any undue danger to the forces, then that's the option they should take, because in these compounds we know there are often civilians kept captive by the Taliban.
Thanks, Rear Admiral. How your naval expertise must come in handy in Afghanistan, no point of which is less than three hundred miles from a sea coast! Anyway, what you seem to be saying is, if our guys are taking fire from a position where there are, or might be, civilians, then our guys should run away ASAP.
The logic behind these new rules of engagement, we are told, is that civilian deaths hurt our mission, whatever it is, because they turn average Afghans against the international forces.
Y'know what, General and Rear Admiral — y'know what? If I were an Afghan civilian:
But maybe that's just me.
08 — Judge Sotomayor's clerks. Approximately 99 percent of politicians' moralizing boils down to saying: "Do as I say, don't do as I do." That also seems to apply to Supreme Court nominees.
Readers with long memories will recall the awkward moment back in 1993, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when Orrin Hatch asked Ginsburg if it wan't unfair to make employers subject to discrimination charges simply because their work forces included few members of minorities, and followed up by noting that Judge Ginsburg herself, in all her 13 years on the bench, had hired precisely zero black law clerks.
Well, history seems to be repeating itself. Investor's Business Daily ran an article on that wise Latina woman Sonia Sotomayor. We all know, of course, that Judge Sotomayor is a keen supporter of affirmative action. She must be especially keen to promote her own race, as she has for years been a member of La Raza, which exists for precisely that purpose, which it proclaims loud and clear in its very name.
So … how many wise Latinas and Latinos has the judge hired these past few years? The Investor's Business Daily reporters tried to find out.
They noted that a letter to Senate leaders signed by Judge Sotomayor's former law clerks had 45 signatories. Only three, which is to say six percent, are even arguably Latina or Latino. Of the remaining 42 surnames, 22 appear to be Jewish, four or five appear to be Asian, 14 or 15 appear to be non-Jewish and non-Hispanic.
Well, let's look on the bright side here. Which would you prefer as your Supreme Court nominee: a Latina who is so intensely race-conscious she packs her staff with wise Latinas and Latinos, or one who just pretends to be race-conscious for purposes of career advancement in today's left-wing legal environment, while picking her law clerks on a meritocratic basis?
Which would you rather have on the Supreme Court: a race fanatic who wants to stick her finger in the eye of The Man, or a hypocrite with a basically meritocratic outlook?
See? — every cloud has a silver lining.
09 — Miscellany. Here is our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: The College of William and Mary used to call its athletics teams The Indians, but of course that had to go. It went in 1980, since when the teams have been called The Tribe.
They still used feathers as their logo, though, and that naturally outraged the sensitivities of local Redskins, so that's had to go, too. Now the college is looking for a new logo.
Among the suggestions received so far: Asparagus. See, if you serve an asparagus stalk with cheese, you have the William and Mary school colors right there.
In related news, the bald eagle has been removed from the Great Seal of the United States after complaints it looks too militaristic. The eagle will be replaced by a rutabaga.
Item: The Waxman-Markey Bill, otherwise known as Cap and Trade, is set for a vote today, Friday.
I can't improve here on the Wall Street Journal editorial against the bill, so I'll just quote you the following from it, quote:
The whole point of cap and trade is to hike the price of electricity and gas so that Americans will use less. These higher prices will show up not just in electricity bills or at the gas station but in every manufactured good, from food to cars. Consumers will cut back on spending, which in turn will cut back on production, which results in fewer jobs created or higher unemployment. Some companies will instead move their operations overseas, with the same result.
Just another specimen of what Malcolm Muggeridge called "the liberal death wish." Destroy the national culture by uncontrolled mass immigration; destroy the national economy by bankrupting American companies with new taxes; destroy public education by turning all teachers' efforts to the dumbest kids.
Why don't the liberals just nuke America? [Boom.] What the hell was that …
Item: Last week, speaking of the Carrie Prejean fuss, Radio Derb asked rhetorically: "Where are the homosexuals who believe in freedom of speech?" Well, a listener emailed in with an answer: They're at the Gay Patriot website, www.gaypatriot.net.
My apologies to the folk over there at Gay Patriot, who have indeed been speaking up against the persecution of Carrie.
Meanwhile, somebody or other got into an argument with Perez Hilton, the fellow who'd asked Carrie that loaded question about homosexual marriage. The argument escalated, and Hilton was socked on the jaw. Couldn't happen to a nicer bloke.
Item: Bad week for show business deaths. First we lost Ed McMahon, a fine old trouper who'd made himself a fixture in America's living-rooms as Johnny Carson's foil.
As well as seeing us off to bed with a few laughs in the seventies and eighties, McMahon was a patriot, having been a decorated Marine pilot in WW2, then voluntarily returning to active duty for the Korean War.
He was born in the Harding administration, when there were still working farms inside the Washington, D.C. boundary. He died in the Obama administration, when the only cash crop being raised in D.C. is influence.
Good night, Ed, and thanks for the laughs.
Then Seventies über-babe Farrah Fawcett died of cancer, aged 62. Those of us of Farrah's generation — she was just twenty months younger than me — sat very still and quiet at the news, hoping the Grim Reaper wouldn't notice us, and sadly recalling Shakespeare's lines about how "Golden lads and girls all must / Like chimney-sweepers, come to dust."
Then pop singer Michael Jackson died.
Yeah, yeah, I know: pop culture can't compare with high culture for serious intent and consequences. Still, these pop-cult personalities help us to bond as a nation. They're something we have in common, in an age when we have less and less in common, and as we watch them go, we remember, we who can remember, the days when we all watched the same TV programs, stuck the same pinup posters on our bedroom walls, and listened to the same music — the days when we were a nation in the uncomplicated old way.
10 — Signoff. OK, back to work with the Ped Egg. Here's a bit more from Franz Joseph Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, played on a 92-mullah organ.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]