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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. [Phone rings.] Hello? … Yes … Oh, it's you again? Look, will you please stop bothering me? I'm supposed to be on the air … No … No … Look, I already told you, we have all we need, thanks all the same … Yes … Thank you … Goodbye.
Darn it, these telephone sales reps are a real nuisance, aren't they? I'm getting this guy with a Chinese accent calling me up day and night trying to sell me Treasury bonds. Tells me I can have high-valued bonds for just pennies on the dollar. I mean really, there's no respect for privacy any more.
Well, here we are once again, ladies and gentlemen, with another edition of Radio Derb. This is your fiscally genial host John Derbyshire here, with news of the hour. Here we go.
02 — Evan Bayh steps down. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana sent tremors through the world of political punditry on Monday when he said he wouldn't be running for re-election in November.
What he told us was, that he was fed up with Congress. Quote:
There is … too much narrow ideology and not enough practical problem-solving. Even at a time of enormous challenge, the people's business is not being done.
There are two questions to be asked about that: One, is it true? and Two: Is it sincere? Let's deconstruct.
Personally, I'd like to see more narrow ideology, though of course of a conservative kind. Where is the narrow ideology on our side of the Senate aisle? Orrin Hatch? Susan Collins? John McCain? [Laughter.]
Ideology shouldn't take over your life; but a politician without an ideology is at sea without a compass. A Republican politician without an ideology is a poodle of the liberal elites, if he hasn't just sold out for cash to the lobbyists.
Let's have a little more narrow ideology, please.
And then "the people's business is not being done." Well, there's truth in that. In a commercial republic, the essential component of the people's business is, as a wise President once remarked, business. In the current recession, there's surely not enough of that being done; and Congress, with its endless generation of new regulations, new taxes, and new occasions for litigation, is a big part of the problem.
That's not what Senator Bayh means, though. What he means is, that Congress hasn't been active enough in managing the economy.
Heaven help us if Congress gets more active. How about they just leave us alone for a few years? The people's business can take care of itself to a far greater degree than it is currently permitted to. Congress's business is to keep us out of unnecessary wars, maintain a stable currency, and safeguard the nation's borders. Those things aside, the main business of Congress is to keep out of our way.
Hey, I can dream.
So much for the truth content of Senator Bayh's statement. What about the sincerity?
Some cynical commentators — shame on them! — have suggested that Bayh, like a lot of other Dems, was looking at a tough fight in November and didn't have the stomach for it. Some even more cynical people — double shame on them! — say he's positioning himself somehow for a Presidential run in 2012, figuring that by that time the extreme partisanship of the hour will have cooled some, and voters will be looking for middle-of-the-road Democrats with a decent track record on a few conservative issues — tax cutting, death penalty, …
Personally I'm willing to take the man at his word. Although, as I've argued, I don't think that what he said is quite correct, I believe he said it sincerely.
Discounting the control-freak syndrome that seems to afflict all politicians, midwesterners at large are decent and sensible types, and today's Congress just isn't a place for anyone decent and sensible. I know I grumble a lot about professional pols advertising themselves as "public servants" while they stuff their pockets with lobbyist cash, but there really is an ethic of public service still alive, and a guy like Evan Bayh is just the type to feel the weight of it, having grown up in a political household.
I bet he is disgusted with Congress, if not for reasons I'm completely on board with. We're all disgusted with Congress.
I'll wish a grudging good luck to the Senator, whatever he decides to do.
03 — Global Warming fever cools. The wheels seem to have come off the Global Warming bandwagon.
First there was the scandal about those emails at a British university, showing how researchers were pushing data that confirmed their theories and suppressing the rest. Then our own NASA climate researchers were accused of similar selective data presentation.
Now we read that the IPCC, that is the United Nations's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, used shoddy data and bad math in its 2007 report, for which it won the Nobel Prize.
As I've noted before on Radio Derb, I keep the whole Global Warming business at arm's length. The data is so voluminous and so fuzzy, I'd want someone to pay me a living salary for a few months to sift through it all before I formed a judgment, and unfortunately nobody's stepped up.
These recent revelations notwithstanding, and the 14 inches of snow I shoveled off my driveway this week also notwithstanding, I'll bet we are in a long-term warming trend, though whether it's man-caused or just the natural ups and downs of Earth's climate, I wouldn't venture an opinion.
Plenty of people with less respect for data than I have, have been bolder, and very free with opinions. Most obnoxious of these have been the Gore-ite alarmists, who all seem to be on the political left, leading to the reasonable suspicion that their real agenda is to transfer even more of our liberty and money from our own persons to the globalist bureaucracies.
My best guess is that fifty years from now the world will be, on a time-series average, a tad warmer than it is now, but that we'll be coping with it somehow, without turning our lives upside down.
In other words, I think it's a storm in a teacup, though even storms in teacups should be cheered if they leave bossy leftists with tea-stains down their shirt fronts.
04 — Tea Parties: the Empire strikes back. Speaking of tea, how's the Tea Party movement doing?
It seems to be pretty healthy, but the establishment counter-attack is already under way. In all likelihood it will prevail. You don't get to be an establishment without knowing how to play the game, and our elites are going to play this game for all they're worth.
Bear in mind also that our elite is a meritocratic elite, which means they are smarter than the rest of us. Nothing is certain in politics, but the way to bet is, that the elites will outfox and rout the Tea Party movement at last, and re-assert their hegemony.
Radio Derb reported last week on dismaying signs that Sarah Palin, the Tea Partiers' darling, may already have had an establishment chip planted in her brain and be ready to join the globalist elites in regulating us to death, crushing free speech, tribalizing our society, abolishing our nation's borders, and all the rest of their nation-wrecking agenda.
Now here was Meghan McCain on The View telling us about the, quote, "innate racism" of the Tea Partiers. Funny: Meghan's Dad thought that the much more explicit racism of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was not a topic proper to be mentioned when he was contesting for the Presidency with Rev. Wright's longtime parishioner and admirer, Barack Obama. If Meghan McCain had anything to say about that, I missed it.
Middle-class conservative activists can be accused of racism, but far-left black radicals can't. That's the voice of the establishment; that's how much they care about conservatism.
There will be a steadily-rising number of attacks like this on the Tea Partiers from establishment shills like the McCains, with special emphasis on the Tea Partiers' supposed racism because, one, the Tea Partiers, though by no means lily-white, are considerably whiter than America — about five percent black, eleven percent Hispanic, according to a poll commissioned by National Review — and two, the racism charge is the one that most intimidates, in fact terrifies, ordinary middle-class Americans, who would rather be accused of cannibalism than racism.
Thus intimidated, the less committed Tea Partiers will drift away in fear and discouragement. The rest will be co-opted into the Republican Party, subjected to a brief surgical operation to implant establishment chips in their frontal cortices, and will soon be happily voting for amnesty, cap'n'trade, and new wars like good little McCainiacs.
You think I'm being too pessimistic about the Tea Partiers' prospects? Stick around.
05 — Crazy professor. Shortly after we went on the air last Friday, a lecturer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville shot three of her colleagues dead at a faculty meeting, and wounded three others.As often happens in cases like this, a lot of unsettling stuff is coming out about Dr Amy Bishop's past.
Back in 1986, aged 19, she killed her 18-year-old brother with a shotgun during an argument. The killing was ruled accidental, but the local police have reopened the files and there's fishy stuff in there. In 1993 she and her husband were suspects in a mail bomb attempt on a Harvard professor in which nobody was ever charged. In 2002 she punched out a woman at an International House of Pancakes because the woman had been given a child seat that Bishop wanted for her own child.
We're getting a strong impression of a lady who was, as the saying goes, not too tightly wrapped. There have been a lot of thumbsucking articles by writers trying to find some big social issue behind the shootings: the mind-warping pressures of academic life (Bishop had just been denied tenure), racism (she's white and the three people she killed are not), gun control (oh please), and so on.
Bishop's husband thought she was spooked by the case of an academic she knew who'd lost his research funding and had to become a bus driver. Radio Derb listeners know that being a bus driver is a pretty good job, at any rate in Madison, Wisconsin, but possibly Amy Bishop belongs to that dwindling minority of Americans who do not get their news from Radio Derb.
Anyway, I'm skeptical of this search for explanations. Not that I don't understand it: The human mind abhors randomness and has to find reasons for everything. In this case, it seems to me the quest is futile. Dr Bishop snapped, for reasons buried in her own psyche.
Random horrors like this have always happened, and always will. And just as surely, people will read meanings into them, meanings that satisfy themselves in some way. That too always happens and always will.
06 — Iraq endgame. Quote from Joe Biden, our nation's Vice President, Heaven help us! — quote:
You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer … You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government. I've been there 17 times now. I go about every two or three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society. It's impressed me. I've been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.
Well, I'll tell ya, if Joe Biden, flashing those improbable teeth of his in my face, were to pronounce me in excellent health, I'd run right down to my attorney's office to make sure my will was up to date.
Just to repeat my own position on the Iraq War: I favored going in, as a punitive exercise against a major nuisance. I opposed the nation-building exercise that followed; and I thought it would all end in tears. It seemed clear to me that a nation with the deep ethnic divisions Iraq has, stuck between neighbors eager to exploit those divisions, and with no tradition of rational, consensual government to build on, was bound to either break up or be taken over by another ruthless dictator.
Six years on, I don't see any reason to change my mind. The Kurds have built a nice little Corruptistan up there in the highlands, and won't be hospitable to any revenuers sent up from Baghdad. The Iranian stoolpigeons we installed as a government are doing what their masters in Tehran tell them to. The Sunni Sheikhs and fellaheen are finding their candidates for the upcoming elections barred from standing, supposedly because of their ties to the Saddam Hussein regime, but in fact because Iran and her Baghdad stoolies want to keep them down. George W. Bush's fantasy of a stable, independent, democratic Iraq is crumbling before our eyes.
We're bringing our troops home though, and I'm glad we are, even if it is six years too late. And when they're all home and the shooting starts, we can send Joe Biden over there as a peacemaker, since he's so chummy with the major players. Be cheaper than sending another army.
07 — Ugly Americans? Here's some provocative comment from the country of my birth.
I shall tell you up front that the author of these remarks, an Englishman named Toby Young, is also the author of a book with the title How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. And after I'm through with this segment, you won't find that hard to believe. Let me also say that I'm just the messenger here, so don't shoot me, shoot Toby Young, who can be located via his publisher, Abacus Books, 100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4, United Kingdom.
Well, here's what Toby Young has to say. He's commenting on a poll of 5,000 British travelers which found that Americans, according to these travelers, are the most attractive people in the world. Mr Young recorded his reaction thus, quote:
I almost fell off my chair. I've spent 25 per cent of my adult life in America and continue to spend at least a month there every year and, frankly, this poll is complete balls. I suspect that the vast majority of the respondents have never set foot outside New York or Los Angeles. The moment you travel in the "flyover states" you encounter a race of Orc-like creatures with low foreheads, hairy hands and torsos that look as if they've been pumped full of custard.
I'll spare you the rest, and please feel free to record your own observations about Mr Young's fellow-countrymen, who have never been renowned for their physical charms, and most certainly not for their dental ones.
So what would Toby Young's ranking of the world's most attractive people be? As follows: 1 — Israel, 2 — Latvia, 3 — the Czech Republic, 4 — Denmark, 5 — Somalia.
Say what? Somalia? Well, not too many Somalis are overweight, I'll allow that.
I'm not really well-traveled enough to offer an opinion here, and in that deplorable, reactionary, heteronormative way I have, spend very little time evaluating the attractiveness of males. For what it's worth, I'd rate Thailand as having the best-looking women, with the whole Baltic-Scandinavian zone a close runner-up.
Stateside, since the U.S.A. has people from all over, it depends where you go; but I'll put in a vote for the women of the Old South, who really do have a je ne sais quoi … though I'll also allow that the Beach Boys were on to something. [Clip: "California Girls"]
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: Two of the Americans charged with kidnapping in Haiti have been released and arrived home in Boise, Idaho. Two of their colleagues are still being held by the Haitian authorities.
I can't make head or tail of this case myself, so I'm going to hand you over to my research assistant, Candy, who has done a thorough investigation. What's it all about, Candy?
Er, thank you, Candy. I hope that's cleared it up for everybody.
Item: I'm continuing to cultivate my obsession with North Dakota.
Here's a new Gallup poll on how satisfied people are with their standard of living. Guess which state came out top? Yep, it's the Flickertail State.
(I had to look that up. I bet you didn't know North Dakota is the Flickertail State, either.)
Well, North Dakota topped all other states with the highest score for adult satisfaction with their standard of living. Top five were North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, Minnesota, and Iowa. Bottom five, from the bottom up: Nevada, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia. So if it's satisfaction you want, folks, head up there to the northern prairies.
If Wikipedia can be believed, which it sometimes can, North Dakota also had the nation's lowest unemployment rate last December, 4.4 percent. I'm thinking that the Flickertail State is a well-kept secret; in fact, I'm feeling a bit guilty about exposing it.
Anyway, I've got my eye on a little cabin up by Devil's Lake, so maybe I'll see you up there.
Item: Hamas terrorist leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was someone who needed killing. His enemies took the opportunity while Mr al-Mabhouh was visiting Dubai on unspecified business, probably arranging for more arms shipments to the Gaza Strip, where the most pressing need of the inhabitants is for more rockets to fire off at Israeli schools.
Well, his enemies pounced, in a complicated and brilliant operation that left us terrorist-haters chuckling with glee. But who were those enemies? The Israelis are the most obvious suspects; but several Middle East experts have pointed out that inter-Palestinian hostilities are at least as bitter as those between Israel and Palestinians. The only people arrested so far for the rub-out have been Palestinians, two in Dubai and one in Syria.
On the other other hand, it would be very much in Israel's interest to stick this on rival Palestinians. On the other other other hand, as the BBC's reporter asks rhetorically, quote:
Does the hit team's detailed knowledge of his itinerary, the lack of bodyguards and the possibility he was comfortable travelling on his own identity, paint a scenario where Mr Mabhouh was served up to his assassins in Dubai by people he trusted?
In other words, a joint Israeli-Palestinian operation? Figure it out yourself, if you can. Middle East politics isn't for amateurs.
Item: Freedom of speech has been taking some hits lately.
Last month it was General Petraeus speaking, or trying to speak, at Georgetown University. Opponents of the Iraq War tried to shout out the names of war dead while the general was speaking. Then last Monday at UC Irvine, Israel's ambassador to the U.S.A., Michael Oren, was repeatedly interrupted by Arab students shouting slogans at him.
At least these guys made it to the podium. The race realist group American Renaissance was to have held its biennial conference this month, but four different hotels canceled the conference booking after death threats were phoned in against hotel employees.
What happened to the tradition of listening to the other guy's point of view, then countering it with reasoned objections? I guess shouting slogans and phoning in death threats is just more fun.
As in: Barbarism is more fun than civilization. Which I guess it is, if you're a barbarian.
Item: How's the Greek monetary crisis going? Well, the other eurozone countries have given the Greeks until March 16th to implement corrective measures.
There is still mighty resistance in the richer, better-governed eurozone countries to bailing out the PIIGS — Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, Spain. As the leader of German Chancellor Merkel's party put it unanswerably: "German workers can't draw a public pension till age 67. Why should they bail out Greece so Greek workers can go on retiring at 63?"
There's a quiet understanding, though, that some bailing-out will have to be smuggled past the German electorate somehow, if a horrible catastrophe is to be averted. As with our own government bail-outs, nobody likes it, but they like the probable alternative a lot less.
There's also a quiet understanding that the euro has been a mistake. A single currency needs a single fiscal policy; but in the eurozone, fiscal policy is still in the hands of national governments. For monetary union to work, you need political union, and that's still beyond the reach of the eurocrats. Long may it remain so.
Item: President Barack Obama has met with the Dalai Lama, the exiled religious leader and national figurehead of Tibet, still revered in his homeland. The ChiComs are furious, especially as this comes after the administration inked a deal to sell six billion dollars worth of military hardware to Taiwan.
Obama declined to meet the Dalai Lama a year ago, believing that by appeasing the Chinese, he could get their cooperation on matters of interest to us. The ChiComs of course took that as weakness, and gave Obama the finger, most flagrantly at the Copenhagen climate summit. Now Obama's wiser, and his spine stiffer, and that's good to see.
Here's a question he might ask the ChiCom ambassador next time that gent comes calling. If we are supposed to accept the annexation of Tibet as a fait accompli after sixty years, why won't the ChiComs accept the independence of Taiwan as a fait accompli after sixty-three years?
Item: Here's a happy little story from the Austrian Alps.
A German gentleman named Dominik Podolsky was riding down a mountain on a ski lift late in the day when it stopped. The ski lift operators didn't know there was anyone on the lift, so they switched off the mechanism and went home, leaving Mr Podolsky 33ft above the ground, in the dark, with the temperature at −18°C.
He shouted for help, but no-one heard. Then he started burning stuff in hopes someone would see the flames: paper tissues, restaurant bills, everything in his pockets. At last there was nothing left to burn but paper money. Mr Podolsky was just lighting his last €20 bill when he was spotted and rescued.
Nice story. If only Mr Podolsky had been Greek and his rescuers German, the symbolism would have been perfect.
09 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gents, another week here in the Republic of Debt.
We're a bit short staffed today: Pépé, who as regular listeners will know is our diversity four-fer — a mixed-race, transgendered, undocumented immigrant with a slight case of strabismus qualifying him as disabled, Pépé has booked into an upstate clinic for an unspecified operation, so he'll be out for a while. Ahmed has taken the day off for a flying lesson, and Mandy and Brandy are away covering the Tiger Woods story, so it's been just me and Candy here.
I must say, I think Candy did splendidly with her contribution — thank you, Candy. [Aside.] Is everything all right over there?
[Clip from Romy & Michelle: "This underwear is totally riding up my buttcrack …"]
Er, right, thanks, honey. Why don't you head up to the grotto? Tell Jonah I'm just finishing up here.
Happy President's Day week, everybody, also Chinese New Year, year of the tiger … [Phone rings] … Darn it, I bet it's that stupid bond salesman again …
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]