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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Welcome, Radio Derb listeners — wilkommen, bienvenue, welcome, this last week of January 2010, entering the second year of the Obama Revolution … Did I say that right, "twenty-ten"? Two thousand and ten? Whadda we say? What do you say, Ahmed?
[Ahmed: "It is the year 1431, you infidel fool."]
Really? Well, how about that. Er, thanks, Ahmed. Well, folks, after that little nugget of multicultural enlightenment, that intro music you heard was one of Franz Joseph Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, and this is your ecumenically genial host John Derbyshire with news and views from the passing charivari.
02 — SOTU: Another damned, long, windy speech. I guess we all know what the Duke of Gloucester said when Edward Gibbon presented him with the patron's copy of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: Quote: "Another damned, thick, square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mister Gibbon?"
I find myself channeling the good Duke whenever Barack Obama presents us with another one of his uplifting orations. "Another damned, long, windy speech! Always blather, blather, blather! Eh, Mister President?" Something like that.
His Grace has the advantage of me, though, in that he didn't actually have to read Gibbons' blockbuster tome. As one of America's leading commentators on public affairs, with the movers and shakers of the republic hanging on my every word, I am supposed to sit through an Obama speech now and then, and find something to say about it.
It would be beyond mortal powers to sit through all of them — the President gives around nine speeches a day — but I should at least attend to the State of the Union speech, even after having described the ceremony in my recent book as, quote, a "Stalinesque extravaganza."
Well, I did my best with it. I listened to the introductory remarks, that stuff about how good we Americans are at bearing up under hardship — though the most severe hardship the President recorded in his autobiography was having to do private-sector office work for a few months in 1983.
About five minutes into the speech, though, I felt the will to live draining out of me. Fortunately, just as I was reaching for the keypad on the handgun safe, I had an inspiration.
With all the audio technology at my disposal, here in Buckley Towers' lavishly-equipped, state-of-the-art recording studio, why not just edit the speech down and listen to it later? I set my team of technicians to work, and can now proudly present the result to you, for your listening pleasure.
Ladies and gentlemen, the one-minute State of the Union speech. [Compressed speech.] … Whaddya think of that, Candy? [Candy: "Seriously?"]
03 — SOTU: the GOP response. Bob McDonnell, the new Governor of Virginia, gave the GOP response to the State of the Union speech.
I cheered McDonnell's election last fall with the rest of my colleagues, but hadn't actually paid very close attention to him then or since. From what I heard in this speech, he's a pretty good egg. He quoted Thomas Jefferson on restraint in government; he spoke up for entrepreneurship; he gave some good verbal kicks to what I once called "the iron triangle" — taxation, regulation, litigation; he said we should, quote, "restore the proper, limited role of government at every level."
Good stuff, and my kind of conservative. I winced a couple of times: for example, when he called for "co-operation, not partisanship." Somehow, dropping partisanship and trying for co-operation with the Left, just always ends up with the Right getting shafted. If anything, I'd like to see a more robust partisanship on the right.
That's a quibble, though. I disagree, too, that winning in Afghanistan is vital for our national security. And if that's true, we can kiss our national security goodbye, since the administration, the current surge notwithstanding, shows no signs of having the will to win anything more challenging than lawsuits.
I have presentational issues with Governor McDonnell, too. That oh-so-careful selection of background figures while the governor was giving his address: one black female, one East Asian male. As if — God forbid! — anyone might get the idea that white people vote Republican. Actually, that's not totally fair: just half in the picture at the foreground, if you looked closely, were a military white guy and a white woman. That just made the whole thing look even more staged, though.
This kind of thing is all right in the brochures for liberal-arts colleges, but it's a bit condescending in a political presentation to adults. Still, who knows? Perhaps it will have some effect. Perhaps in the next general election the GOP will raise its share of the black female vote from two percent to three. We live in hope.
And I really shouldn't quibble at Governor McDonnell. There aren't that many conservatives in public life. Let's cherish the few we've got. We don't often hear good conservative positions so clearly articulated as we heard them from the Governor. And McDonnell's address was short — 13 minutes, against Obama's, what was it? four and a half hours? That's what it seemed like.
McDonnell's a star, and the people of the Old Dominion have done the nation a service by electing him.
04 — The Reconquista proceeds apace. How's the Reconquista going? Pretty darn well, is the answer.
Item: Meet Angela Reyes, Director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation. At a Martin Luther King Day symposium held at the University of Michigan, Ms Reyes extruded the following thought, quote:
The Southwest was actually stolen by the United States and is rightfully Upper Mexico.
Item: The Texas state school board has been revising the curriculum for K-12 history classes in state schools. Quote from the AP report:
In their discussions earlier this week, the board added more names to the list of historic figures elementary school students would be expected to learn … José Antonio Navarro, a Texas revolutionary and contemporary of early Texas leader Stephen F. Austin, was added to the kindergarten curriculum in response to a public push for more examples of notable Mexican Americans.
Item: Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, was paid a $42,500 speaker's fee after giving an address at the University of North Carolina. Quote from him: "Instead of building walls, let's build bridges."
Wait a minute, Vinnie: Who's building walls? Not this administration, nor the previous one, nor the one before that. And why does Fox want us to build bridges? Who's going to be crossing those bridges, in which direction?
Here's a clue, in another quote from the Fox, quote: "They are real heroes, incomprehensible heroes," end quote. Who are? Why, illegal Mexican immigrants in the U.S.A.
The University of North Carolina, let me remind you, is where Tom Tancredo was prevented from speaking last April by a screaming mob of leftists. So … the former leader of an unfriendly nation, where public-school textbooks lay claim to our territory, is listened to respectfully and trousers a large speaking fee. A conscientious public servant and former Presidential candidate, who wants to see the people's laws properly enforced, is howled off the stage by pro-Mexican stormtroopers.
I'd say the Reconquista's going pretty well.
05 — Geert Wilders on trial. Let's check out the other Reconquista, the one attempting to recover what was lost in, to quote Osama bin Laden, "the tragedy of Andalusia."
Across the pond in Amsterdam, Geert Wilders has gone on trial. Just to remind you: Wilders is the leader of the Party for Freedom, a Dutch political party that came second in last year's Euro elections. Polls in the Netherlands suggest that Wilders party may actually be the most popular political party right now.
The Freedom Party, however, is strongly immigration restrictionist, and takes a particularly strong line against Muslim immigration. Wilders is on record as having said things like the following.
Well, you get the idea. Wilders is also the producer of a short film, title Fitna, which gives expression to these and similar sentiments.
Well, the Dutch elites aren't having that. Like our own elites, they are transnational and multicultural, and their instinctive approach to foreigners who want to take over their country is to hold open the door and wave them in. They have brought Wilders to trial on charges that he — and I'm reading from the actual indictment here — charges that he, quote:
in public, orally, in writing or through images, intentionally offended a group of people, i.e. Muslims, based on their religion.
Yes folks: to say something rudely offensive about someone's religion is a crime in the Netherlands. Europe's elites have declared all-out war on anyone who offends against the dogmas of multiculturalism.
In Britain, the same thing is happening. The British National Party is being threatened with ruinous court actions unless it changes its constitution, which specifies that members adhere to, quote, "the maintenance and existence of the unity and of the integrity of the indigenous British."
I've passed my own opinion on the BNP in Radio Derb's October 23rd broadcast, transcript on johnderbyshire.com. I don't see why they shouldn't restrict their membership to British indigenes, though, unless freedom of association was garrotted when I wasn't looking, and I think it's atrocious that the authorities in Holland and England can destroy political parties whose policies offend them. This is a step away from totalitarianism.
It's also foolish. If people aren't allowed to vote for the Netherlands Freedom Party or the British National Party, their frustrations will find some other outlets that the elites will like even less.
By clubbing down mild-mannered middle-class types like Geert Wilders and Nick Griffin, people trying to play the political game by the rules, Western elites believe they are fighting extremism. In fact, they are nourishing it.
06 — U.K., P.C.. The stories out of Britain of multiculturalism run amok just get crazier and crazier.
We reported in National Review on the TV personality and new mother who spotted two thugs in her garden one night. She scared them off by standing at a window waving a kitchen knife and shouting. The police arrived and issued a warning to the lady that she was guilty of possessing an offensive weapon, and had better mend her ways.
Naturally they made no effort to catch the thugs. Harassing and intimidating law-abiding citizens is so much easier.
Next up was the Mosedale family of north London, proud owners of a pleasant suburban house worth half a million dollars. They hired some contractors to give the house a complete makeover, and moved out to rented lodgings with their three kids while the work was done. Over Christmas, two families of Romanian Gypsies moved into the empty house. When Mr Mosedale went to the police to see what could be done, the police accused him of being a racist for questioning the Gypsies right to take over his house.
Up north to Manchester, where a local public school gives kids trips to a safari park and other fun outings in their mid-term vacation. However, the school has announced that these trips are open only to children whose parents are on welfare. Children with working parents are barred from the trips, even if their parents offer to pay.
This last one's my favorite, though — listen to this. Every town in England has a Jobcenter — that is, a government-run employment exchange. Well, a lady in Norfolk wanted to post an ad on her local Jobcenter's website, offering eleven dollars an hour for someone to clean her house. She specified that applicants must be, quote, "reliable and hard-working."
The Jobcenter refused to post the ad because, they said, they might be sued for discriminating against unreliable workers.
Poor old England; poor, poor old England. [Clip: "Roast Beef of Old England"]
07 — Khalid Sheik Mohammed trial. When you have a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail; and when you have an administration stuffed up to the air-conditioning vents with law professors, everything looks like a courtroom case. That's the origin of the lunatic decision to give a courtroom trial in New York City to 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his henchmen.
This idea is so crazy, the security problems so overwhelming, and the cost so extravagant, even clueless liberals like Senator Chuck Schumer and Michael Bloomberg are now speaking out against it.
Latest estimates are that the trials could go on for five years and cost over a billion dollars in direct expenses, which means not counting all the associated disruption to New York City's commercial life.
The only rationale we've heard for this insanity goes something like: Well, the whole world will admire us for our determination to be scrupulously fair, even to our enemies.
When our leaders say "the whole world," they mean of course the lawyers and bureaucrats of the U.N. and globalist busybody organizations — people like themselves. The other 99 percent of the world's population take us for fools, and the jihadis are rolling around in their caves laughing at our vanity and stupidity.
The last big U.S. trial to get attention in the world beyond our borders was O.J. Simpson's. How'd that work out?
Well, now, with Bloomberg whining and even Schumer, up to now a total Obama groupie, muttering dissent, there is speculation about an alternative venue. West Point military academy? Stewart airport, sixty miles north of New York? The federal prison at Otisville, even further upstate? None of them has adequate facilities, though, and major construction would need to be done.
Are you getting this? We're talking about putting up entire buildings and spending hundreds of millions of dollars, to give a half dozen jihadis a recruiting show.
Isn't there some legal way we can put the buggers in front of a firing squad? I'll volunteer for duty on that squad. I'm not a bad shot — and if I was, who'd care?
08 — FDNY disparate-impact ruling. New York City has its downsides, but the city Fire Department is superb. The whole world saw that on September 11th 2001, when 343 Fire Department personnel lost their lives.
The Department continues to serve the city well: Average response time improves year by year — it's now below seven minutes — even as the volume of emergency calls increases.
Well, if there's one thing you can rely on the political Left for, it's a war against excellence. Here comes federal judge Nicholas Garaufis, ruling that the Fire Department of New York has for years been practicing intentional discrimination by rigging their recruiting exams so that few black or Hispanic applicants can get a passing mark.
Now, with a charge like that, you'd expect some material evidence. You'd expect, for example, that the court would have identified actual people doing actual things to make the exam results come out like that.
You can imagine how it might have happened. It might have been, for example, that examinees' names were shown on their papers, and that the people marking the tests deliberately marked down people with last names like Rodriguez, or first names like DeShawn. I mean, it is possible to imagine how acts of intentional discrimination might be performed.
It is likewise possible to imagine how such acts might be uncovered by careful inquiry — statistical comparative analysis of the marking, questioning of the markers, and so on. A diligent judge would make sure that such enquiries were thoroughly completed before ruling on the case.
Judge Garaufis, however, is not a diligent judge. He's a Clinton appointee and an ideological crusader. He didn't even take oral arguments on the "intentional discrimination" charge, let alone investigate it. The only thing he noticed was that minority examinees showed a lower statistical profile on their test scores than white examinees.
That this was so, is not the least bit surprising. Give any kind of written test to any fair-sized population of Americans. Black and Hispanic test-takers will score lower than white ones; and white gentile ones, as a matter of fact, will score lower than East Asians or Ashkenazi Jews. Whatever the reason for that, it is a cold fact about written tests, demonstrated thousands of times across decades of testing, and surely not any fault of the FDNY. It would be amazing if the Fire Department tests turned out differently.
Judge Garaufis, however, is not a man to be bothered with facts. He has ordered the city to apply strict race quotas in future hiring, and to pay out a wad of money to the plaintiffs in this case.
The Left will not rest easy until every instance of excellence and dedication has been purged from our society, and all objective testing for ability has been stamped out. Except of course for lawyers.
09 — Miscellany. Here is Radio Derb's traditional closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: If you want to see a liberal flush with joy, perhaps swoon with ecstasy, just utter the words "Head Start." This is every lefty's favorite government program.
The idea is to get educational and nutritional services to preschool kids who are "disadvantaged," which means poor, so that by the time they enter full-time schooling they're ahead of the game.
Head Start's been on the road for 45 years, and has swallowed up tens of billions of dollars. It has such standing among liberals that no administration could possibly cancel it. It will go on for ever and ever, swallowing up a couple of billion a year from the public fisc, and bringing light and joy to liberals whenever they hear its name.
Which is a pity, because the program is perfectly useless. This has been known for a long time. Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, in their 2003 book No Excuses, quoted studies showing that while there was some slight and disputable evidence of marginal benefits for white kids in the program, it, quote, "does not seem to have improved the educational achievement of African-American children in any substantial way," end quote.
Now here's yet another study to add to the pile, this one from the Department of Health and Human Services, and one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging to date. Bottom line: Head Start doesn't accomplish a damn thing.
So the government will cancel it, right? [Laughter.]
Item: I'm a little behind the curve on this one, but I recommend you read the January 14th article on the blog of Wired magazine, title "Google Hack Attack Was Ultra Sophisticated, New Details Show."
This is background to the news about Google pulling out of China. Money quote:
The sophistication of the attack was remarkable and was something that researchers have seen before in attacks on the defense industry, but never in the commercial sector.
There's not much doubt that this is a Chinese government effort to cut development costs and time by stealing our stuff, as they have been doing for years through software piracy. Just one more piece of evidence, if any more was needed after all these decades, that for all their huffing and preening about "Socialist Spiritual Civilization," the Chinese Communist Party is fundamentally just a crime syndicate.
Item: I've been bellyaching for years about the gross waste and folly of government manned-space programs. Well, it looks like the U.S. government has finally come round to my point of view.
The New York Times reports this week that, quote:
President Obama will end NASA's return mission to the moon and turn to private companies to launch astronauts into space when he unveils his budget request to Congress next week, an administration official said Thursday.
About time too. Now perhaps we can do some real science in space, instead of all the funds being sucked up so that some Saudi prince can take a ride in the shuttle. And there is also the possibility of making a killing by judicious stock picking of private space firms.
Item: Ben Bernanke got another four-year term as chairman of the Fed. The Seante vote on confirmation was 70-30, the stiffest opposition ever to a Fed chairman, arising of course from belief that Bernanke's handling of the nation's financial affairs helped precipitate the recent crisis.
For every person who said it did, there was another one who said: Maybe, but his responses since the crisis began have been good. That's the argument that won in the end.
I'm not qualified to judge, only having the sketchiest idea how the Fed works … though I think I'm at least better-informed than Al Sharpton, who took a question about Fed policy in one of the 2004 Presidential candidate debates and froze like a deer in the headlights. It was Rev'm Al's finest hour, so far as I'm concerned, and I wish I could find it on YouTube.
Item: Apple has unveiled the iPad, which they call a "tablet computer." Well, isn't that nice.
There must be something wrong with me, I can't be bothered with all these gadgets. It's nice to have a computer to do work on, but why do people want to carry the darn things around with them?
I like to think I'm keeping alive the spirit of Bill Buckley, who learned the old WordStar program back around 1980, and stuck with it to his dying day, by which time he was the only person on the planet still using it.
That'll be me, I guess, circa the year 2025 — the last person on earth using a desktop computer. The transcripts for Radio Derb, by the way, are written, like all my other copy, using KEDIT. What, you never heard of it? Good.
Item: J.D. Salinger died at age 91, after making an enviable sum of money from Catcher in the Rye, which I have not read.
I understand it's about a disgruntled teenager. Having a couple of disgruntled teenagers of my own, I don't need to add any fictional ones, thanks all the same.
My daughter, who is 17, tells me she doesn't want to be normal, she wants to be exceptional. Fine, honey: Go swim the Hellespont, pitch a perfect game, or crack the Riemann Hypothesis. Did Holden Caulfield do any of those things?
Scanning some commentaries on the book, he seems to have been a bit of a whiner. I hate whiners.
Item: I know even less about basketball than I do about the inner workings of the Fed, but apparently there's a team called the Chicago Bulls, who had a player named Paul Shirley, who contributes commentary to the sports network ESPN.
"Contributed," that is. Mr Shirley contributes no more, having blotted his copybook with some remarks about Haiti on a blog. Sample quote:
I haven't donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don't give money to homeless men on the street. Based on past experiences, I don't think the guy with the sign that reads Need Your Help is going to do anything constructive with the dollar I might give him.
He also asked rhetorically of the Haitians, quote: "Could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?"
That's pretty insensitive stuff, and a lot of people besides ESPN are mad at Shirley. I can't get worked up over the thing myself, mainly because of a lurking suspicion that a great many of us have been thinking the thing that Shirley wrote.
There's a time and a place, though. Something is owed to tact, good manners, and ordinary sympathy. The world would be a different place, and a much less agreeable one, if we put all our thoughts into words and posted them on the internet.
Item: Well, that's about it … Nope, just one more: In Cleveland, Ohio, a woman killed her boyfriend by sitting on him. In Cleveland. Ohio. This week. [Clip: Bimbo voice, "Oh my gosh!"]
10 — Signoff. Well, that's really it, folks. Another week of turmoil and tragedy.
Just for a change, let's have ol' Hank sing us out. I think this must be the song that guy in Cleveland was singing before his sweetheart sat on him.
Derb here signing off, January 29th 2010 … 1431 … whatever.
[Music clip: Hank Williams, "I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive."]