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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. President Palin? Works for me.
Radio Derb here, ladies and gents. This is your Palin-o-philically genial host John Derbyshire with the week's news, or as much of it as I could find amongst all the Jacksoniana.
The soon-to-be-ex-governess of Alaska will do to start with, so let's see what's up with that.
[Clip of "How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em …"]
Right; and how you gonna keep 'em up there in Alaska, now that they've sampled the political big leagues?
Sarah Palin pretty much answered that one last Friday, just too late for Radio Derb to catch her, when she announced she'll be stepping down from the governorship of Alaska at the end of this month.
Her stated explanation, that she wasn't running for re-election next year and didn't want to be a lame duck governor, was taken seriously by pretty much nobody. The general opinion was that having tasted the delights of the big city, Sarah wants more. She knows she has to learn some stuff and build some credibility, and she figures she might as well get started, to position herself for a presidential run in 2012, or, according to another faction of opinionators, as a deep game play for 2016.
Yet another faction wonders if she hasn't got fed up with politics altogether and is trying for a TV talk show. I doubt that. Politics is not something politicians often get tired of, and Sarah doesn't seem the type to get tired of anything much — except, presumably, Alaska.
Well, good luck to her. I'm not totally out of sympathy with friends who said she wasn't quite ready for prime time last year. She was a breath of fresh air, though, set against oily Obama and shambolic John McCain, and she doesn't lack anything that she can't acquire in a couple of years hard work. I think she'll make a great presidential candidate. And a pretty good talk-show hostess, too.
Once again: good luck to her, whatever she's trying for.
03 — Pay to play, the Chicago way. Barack Obama, never let it be forgotten, cut his political teeth in Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town, where the politics of "pay to play" were brought to their highest perfection.
"Pay to play" in fact looks like being the slogan of the Obama administration. Case in point: the audits of factories being conducted by ICE, the federal department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The purpose of the audits is to find out whether factories are breaking the law by hiring illegal immigrants. Sure enough, they are, all over the place.
So the illegals are rounded up for deportation and the factory owners are hit with big fines, right? Not exactly. The administration is implementing a much kinder and gentler policy, rounding up nobody, deporting nobody, and skimming off no more cash from the companies than they can afford to write off as a cost of doing business.
The firm American Apparel, for example, which has 5,600 employees in Los Angles, mostly making T-shirts, came out badly in the audit, with one third of its employees found to be illegal. They're still there, still making those T-shirts, and the firm is paying only modest fines till they can get lawyered up and game the system.
Even that isn't good enough for Angelica Salas, head of an outfit called the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. Ms Salas allows that the end of enforcement raids is a great step forward for the illegals she represents, but whines that, quote, "There is still enforcement of laws that are broken. The workers will still lose their jobs," end quote.
Imagine! — the government is still enforcing laws that are broken! When will this heartless cruelty end?
04 — Trying to like Peter King. Congressman Peter King represents New York's 3rd district, next door to my own 2nd district here on Long Island.
I've been trying for years to like Peter King, as he often voices unpopular truths — an extremely rare thing in political circles, where the main form of verbal currency is popular falsehoods.
The stumbling block to my liking Peter King has been the recollection of him as a keen supporter back in the 1980s and 1990s of the so-called Irish Republican Army, a terrorist group and criminal gang that, when not assassinating law enforcement personnel in both Britain and the Republic of Ireland, occupied itself with bank robbery, protection rackets, and joint training operations with Arab terrorists.
Peter King's affection for the I.R.A. ceased rather abruptly around nine o'clock on the morning of September 11th 2001, when several dozen of his voters perished in the Twin Towers at the hands of … well, Arab terrorists. Blowing up Irish policemen and British politicians was fine, but incinerating a congressman's constituents — that's giving terrorism a bad name. Peter King turned his coat faster than you could say "NORAID," and since then he's been pretty sound on major issues.
Well, here he was this week telling the nation that Michael Jackson was, quote, "a pervert, a child molester, and a pedophile." Congressman King further opined that, quote:
To be giving this much coverage to him, day in and day out, what does it say about us as a country? I just think we're too politically correct. No one wants to stand up and say we don't need Michael Jackson.
Now, in all fairness, I don't know whether Michael Jackson was a child molestor or not. After the child-abuse hysteria of the 1980s and 1990s, documented by Dorothy Rabinowitz in her book No Crueler Tyrannies, I think we should err on the side of extreme caution with accusations of this kind, the more so when the accused is mega-rich and unscrupulous parents might be trying for a big fat settlement.
I am, though, heartily sick of all the fuss over Jackson and all the gushing about what a colossal talent he was. So while I frowned a bit at that first quote from Peter King — the pedophile one — I was nodding appreciatively at the second.
What does it say about our country, that our newspapers and TV news programs seem to have been filled for days with Michael Jackson stories? The guy was a pop singer. Molestor or not, he admitted he liked sharing his bed with children, and that's sufficiently weird to be off-putting.
Weirder still was the hatred Jackson obviously felt for his own blackness — and that of course makes it triple-weird that all the black-power agitators and guilt mongers like Al Sharpton are claiming Jackson as a brother.
Too much weirdness! If I never hear the name Michael Jackson ever again, I won't be missing it. Peter King's right: "we don't need Michael Jackson."
Now, then, Congressman: about Gerry Adams …
05 — Chinese riots: background. Ah, diversity! Such a wonderful idea! We must all celebrate diversity!
I just did a Google search on the intact phrase "diversity is our strength." It returned 955,000 hits. That's forty times as many as I got for the phrase "Michael Jackson was a pervert," so I guess it must be forty times as true. Yet it's a funny thing that ethnic diversity seems to cause nothing but trouble, all over the world. The latest illustration of this was in China this week.
A little background here. What appears on your atlas as the People's Republic of China is actually the fruit of Mao Tse-tung's attempt to re-create the old Manchu Empire, which had disintegrated in the early years of the twentieth century. That empire included huge outlying territories populated by non-Chinese peoples, though the degree of actual Manchu control was often minimal, so long as tribute was paid.
Mao put much of the empire back together, Outer Mongolia being the biggest piece to escape his grasp. Of the current territory of the People's Republic, one quarter has a base population that is ethnically Tibetan, one sixth has a base of ethnic Turks, one-tenth is ethnic Mongols.
Those are the base populations, the ones in place sixty years ago when the communists won control of China. All these territories have since been flooded with Chinese colonists, under various settlement programs promoted by the ChiComs.
In short, the modern Chinese state has not been denied the strengthening blessings of ethnic diversity.
One of these territories is Xinjiang, in Central Asia. The base population here is Turkic, which means they are ethnically close to the Turks of Turkey, and in fact speak a language that Turks can understand. The biggest group is the Uighurs. These people are all Muslim, but it's the more easy-going style of Islam favored by Turks elsewhere, not the rigid, fanatical Saudi variety. The women don't, for example, wear burqas.
This base Turkic population is not much more than half of Xinjiang's demographic nowadays, though, with Chinese immigrants making up the rest.
06 — Chinese riots: blessings of diversity. OK, that's your background briefing. Now what's been going on over there in Xinjiang?
Well, it all started two thousand miles away in Guangdong, South China, where a toy factory employs some Uighur migrant workers. There was some kind of a rumble between the Uighurs and local Chinese. Uighur websites say that some Uighurs were killed when the Chinese attacked a workers' dormitory where they were sleeping.
When news of this seeped back to the Uighur homeland, there were street protests by Uighurs in Urumqi, the capital city of the region. Things got out of hand. On July Fifth, last Sunday, the Uighurs of Urumqi rioted en masse. Stores were looted, cars were burnt, police staions were attacked, and several dozen people, most of them Chinese, were killed.
Uighurs elsewhere picked up the news — in the Netherlands, a crowd of them attacked the Chinese embassy.
The ChiCom police arrested every Uighur male they could get their hands on and announced that the disturbances — which of course had been whipped up by "outside agitators," the ChiComs told us — had ceased and everything was under control.
On Monday they even let a carefully-supervised group of foreign journalists go back into the streets of Urumqi to see for themselves how calm it was. This backfired embarrassingly on the ChiComs when the journalists met a mass protest by Uighur women demanding the release of their menfolk.
Then Chinese residents of Urumqi — the city is about three quarters Chinese now — took to the streets with ax handles and meat cleavers, looking for revenge. Things got so bad that on Tuesday ChiCom President Hu Jintao cut short a visit to Italy where he was supposed to attend the G8 summit.
Urumqi is now in full lockdown. Quote from the city's mayor, a ChiCom stooge named Jierla Yishamudin, quote:
It is neither an ethnic issue nor a religious issue, but a battle of life and death to defend the unification of our motherland and to maintain the consolidation of all ethnic groups.
That's telling 'em, Mr Mayor. The consolidation of all ethnic groups in a glorious mosaic of ethnic diversity, right? That's what everybody wants, isn't it? Everybody but a few troublemakers in the pay of foreign powers. Once they've been hustled off to labor camps, we'll all dance round the maypole together in multicultural harmony, won't we? Of course we will.
All together now, you know the tune. [Clip: "Kumbaya."]
07 — The G8 Summit. So what's that G8 summit all about?
Well, to be in the G8 your country has to be one of the big mature economies. The ones who make the cut are Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, then the U.S.A. and Canada, then Russia and Japan.
No China, you'll notice: China belongs to a smaller group, the G5, along with India, Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa. The G5 tend to get invited along to G8 events, though, in the interests of, well, I guess diversity.
So there they are up in L'Aquila, a city in central Italy. What are they talking about? Oh, big-country items: lowering trade barriers, pepping up the world economy, how to deal with misbehaving nations like Iran and North Korea, all that good stuff.
And then, of course, climate change. What would an international gathering of the great and the good be without a climate change session? The G8 panjandrums agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by eighty percent between now and 2050.
You should definitely take that with a grain of salt. When a politician commits himself to some goal forty years in the future, he is emitting gas himself, or at any rate hot air. None of these people will be in charge of anything forty years from now — or even, in several cases, forty months from now. What they declare, their successors can un-declare, or just ignore.
And then above and beyond that there is the issue of the five billion people who do not live in G8 countries. The G8-ers swear they are on top of that, with a meeting scheduled to persuade the G5 big developing countries to sign up to the emission-reductions deal.
The G5-ers can't see why they should forgo the delights of rapid industrial growth just so they can join the G8's moral-posturing line-dance, though. In any case, the most important G5 delegation, the one from China, just lost its boss. As previously mentioned, he's gone off to try to calm down the diversity-celebrating in Xinjiang.
Nobody in a Chinese delegation will risk signing anything with the boss not present, so G5 co-operation is pretty much a dead letter.
The trade talks don't seem to have achieved much, either, with all the national leaders much too worried about their own national economies to concentrate on other countries' problems.
The G8 meeting was, in short, largely a waste of time. Still, it gave our President an opportunity to make one of his gassy speeches, and I hear the food was great.
08 — Joe Biden on Israel. In an interview on ABC last weekend, Vice President Joe Biden told George Stephanopoulos that the U.S.A. couldn't stop Israel attacking Iran's nuclear facilities, if that was something Israel decided to do. Israel's a sovereign nation, said Joe, and we couldn't dictate to them.
It was a slow weekend, and commentators paused from praising Michael Jackson for a moment to wonder if Biden had (a) committed an appalling faux pas, (b) made an administration-approved move in the diplomatic chess game with Iran, just upping the pressure a couple of notches, or (c) stated the obvious.
I'll go with (c), with just a modest qualification or two.
Every clued-in military person I've spoken to about a possible Iran attack — I admit it's only around five or six, but these were very clued-in types — has told me the same thing: that to do any more than just stall Iran's program for a couple of years, the attack would have to be nuclear.
If my informants know that, I'm sure the Israelis know it, and the Obama administration also knows it. I very seriously doubt any conceivable Israeli government would make a nuclear attack on Iran; and while a conventional attack would have some nuisance value, the downsides surely make it not worth the trouble.
Qualification Two: the U.S.A. isn't that lacking in influence over what Israel does. We're not the puppetmaster that the Arabs and our own paleocons sometimes say we are. Israel's a great source for Middle East intelligence; and there are domestic political considerations of course; so there are reasons to make nice with the Israelis.
If not a puppetmaster, though, we're in part a paymaster, so Biden was perhaps not so much stating the obvious as over-stating it.
I'm a bit disappointed in Ol' Joe. He hasn't turned out to tbe the entertainment center of the new administration, as I'd hoped he would. If that was the best he can do by way of a gaffe, he's not trying very hard. Or perhaps our control-freak President has him on a very short, tight leash.
09 — Miscellany. Here's our closing miscellany of short items.
Item: We lost Robert McNamara, the guy who proved that systems analysis can't win a war. Having failed with Vietnam, he moved on to the World Bank, where he propped up the foolish and destructive aid-program philosophy for thirteen years — the philosophy Peter Bauer described as "transferring money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries."
Probably the best thing McNamara ever did was try to stop the Edsel program when he was a Ford Motor Company executive back in the 1950s; but he failed at that, too.
McNamara was in fact an illustration of the truth that it is possible to fail upwards, being repeatedly appointed to higher positions after failing at lower ones. Is this a great country, or what?
McNamara died in his sleep at the age of 93, last of the postwar whizz kids.
Item: Our President had a meeting with Vladimir Putin on Tuesday morning, having spent the previous evening at dinner with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, Putin's mini-me.
The story we heard was that Putin gave Obama a long lecture about not messing with places Russia regards as in its sphere of interest. This is the same speech Russian leaders have been giving to visiting foreigners since Prince Sviatoslav sent Byzantine missionaries away with a flea in their ear back in the tenth century.
Things might have gone better if Obama had presented Putin with the traditional gift of a pair of blue jeans, or a wristwatch, or a Duke Ellington LP, but he was ill-advised on this point.
The great Russian people seem to have taken no notice of his visit, being absorbed, like the rest of the world's population, in Michael Jackson obituary tributes.
Item: As I may have mentioned, I was partying with economists last week, so news about the economic stimulus package naturally catches my eye.
With unemployment crossing the ten percent barrier and headed north, nothing much seems to have been stimulated. To be fair, though, only about ten percent of the funds have actually been spent yet.
What do the economists think? As usual, they're all over the place — glass half full, glass half empty, glass twice as big as it needs to be, yada, yada, and yada. You can find an economist — matter of fact, you can find a Nobel-Prize-winning economist — who thinks the stimulus wasn't big enough, and you can find another one of equal eminence who thinks the whole stimulus idea was wrong-headed.
It must be cool to be an economist. They'll give you a Nobel Prize for your theory; then a couple of years later, they'll give some other economist a Nobel Prize for an exacty opposite theory.
Well, the first group, the folk who think the stimulus wasn't big enough, seems to have the President's ear. They've been joined this week by superstar investor Warren Buffett, who wants a second stimulus. Quote from him, quote
Our first stimulus bill … was sort of like taking half a tablet of Viagra and having also a bunch of candy mixed in.
Hmm, yeah, well, let's not go there, shall we, Warren? How would we pay for this second stimulus, given that nobody can tell me how we're going to pay for the first one? Oh, we won't think about that today, we'll think about that tomorrow.
Item: Researchers at Carnegie Mellon university in Pittsburgh have been looking into the very interesting question as to whether, knowing a person's place and date of birth, you can predict his social security number.
It turns out that disturbingly often, you can. It's especially easy if the person was born after 1988, when the Social Security administration started assigning numbers to newborns. For people born after 1988, the researchers got all nine digits of the social security number in one-twelfth of the cases they tried, just from knowing birth date and place.
Given that our social security number is our main form of identification on things like bank accounts, tax and legal filings, and employment documentation, this is unsettling. It's the kind of problem that's bound to arise in the managerial welfare state, though, where citizens are tagged, classified, herded, and corraled for tax-farming purposes.
Perhaps we should just give up on that whole individual-liberty thing. It's so eighteenth-century, isn't it?
Item: Who elected Al Franken to the United States Senate? Well, it looks as though the answer may be ACORN, the radical-left community-organizer outfit that seems to have perfected 57 varieties of voter fraud, every one of them of course with the aim of inflating the Democratic vote.
A think tank called the Capital Research Center tells us that ACORN tallied 43,000 new voter registrations in Minnesota during the year leading up to last November's election. Given that the Senate race was decided by only three hundred ballots, and given further that those 43,000 ACORN registrations undoubtedly included unknown numbers of illegal immigrants, incarcerated felons, dead people, people already registered a couple of times, household pets, minors, lunatics, and Albanian tourists, it seems like an open and shut case.
The Minnesota authorities are resisting calls for an investigation of ACORN's activities. Heck, why not just hand over the whole country to ACORN and their "community organizer" pals? Oh, wait a minute — we just did.
Item: Us small-government types used to joke that if the advance of federal power isn't halted, one day there'll be a federal crossing guard outside your local school.
We shoulda kept our mouths shut. I'm just going to quote you this from Reuters, quote:
The U.S. Agriculture Department would be given the power to regulate all food sold in schools — including vending machine snacks — when Congress renews child nutrition programs, the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee said on Tuesday.
End quote. So there'll be federal inspectors in your school cafeteria to make little Johnnie eat his greens. No kidding.
Wait a minute, I've got another one of these.
Item: Did you know that among the glories of our federal government there is a House Subcommittees on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and Healthy Families and Communities? I didn't make it up. Let's call it HoSubECESEdHeFamCom.
They've been holding hearings into school bullying. Yes, citizens, your federal government has a legislative committee working on a federal law to make school children be nice to each other. Quote from the ABC News report, quote:
Students … argued before the committee that peer-to-peer youth programs are necessary to help children feel safe enough to speak out against bullies.
I'd rather have settled for crossing guards.
Can anyone tell me how to make jokes about big government now? Jokes, I mean, that won't be cold fact in a year or two?
Never mind, it's hopeless, I know. We are doomed. Hey — great title for a book!
10 — Signoff. All right, I'm not going to drop any more hints. Just go to Amazon and pre-order the darn thing. Make sure you spell it right. The way my luck goes, there's probably a book on male pattern baldness out there titled We are domed, stealing half my pre-orders.
Oh, what's the use? There isn't any. Goodnight, America.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]