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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Greetings, listeners. Radio Derb on the air here. That was one of Franz Joseph Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, and this is your peripatetically genial host John Derbyshire with news from here, there, and everywhere.
This week we span the world! — from Greece to Turkmenistan, from Washington DC to San Francisco, from Turkey to Yorkshire. Yes, a varied menu of the sad, the strange, the wonderful, and the deplorable. Here we go.
02 — Dirt in the fuel line. Remember that sixties movie Bonnie and Clyde — sex and death in Depression-era Texas, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway finally working out the connection between hose and stanchion just before the mean old sheriff ambushes them?
The hardest part of the movie to watch is after Gene Hackman gets shot in the head as the gang is escaping. Poor old Gene takes a long time to die, thrashing and howling and bleeding everywhere, while his wife's wailing and nobody can think of anything to do.
Obama's precious healthcare bill is pretty much in that condition right now. Bills, I should say. There are now three healthcare bills in play: the House bill, the Senate bill, and a spiffy new bill unveiled by the President himself this week.
The President's bill includes a wonderful new idea to meet the objection, so often raised in respect of the other two plans, that health-insurance premiums will go through the roof. What is this wonderful idea? Price controls!
Yes, your health insurer won't raise your premiums because the federal government will make it illegal for them to do so! If the health insurers complain that they can't make a profit and will go into bankruptcy, the President will just make that illegal, too. If it looks as though people are just going to dump their healthcare stocks on the market, well, hey, we'll have a law to stop them doing so.
My question here is, why not just cut to the chase and make illness illegal? Problem solved!
The paradox in the healthcare debate is, that the public at large wants some reform. Listener, I want some reform.
We're all fed up with shelling out more and more for less and less every year; we're fed up with watching our family doctor's office disappear under great drifts of paperwork; we're fed up with trying to figure out why insurers in our state have to cover acupuncture, moxibustion, aroma therapy, homeopathy, and voodoo, while the insurers in the next state don't, yet we can't just buy our insurance from that cheaper state; we're fed up with so much of what we pay ending up in the pockets of smarmy, sleazy trial lawyers like John Edwards and their whingeing, lying, malingering clients; we're fed up with standing in line in the Emergency Room behind platoons of illegal immigrants; we're fed up with the whole ramshackle healthcare system.
We just don't understand why it seems to be not possible to fix any of it for less than a trillion dollars.
With people wanting something done, the prognosis is that something or other will be done. It won't be "comprehensive healthcare reform," though, and it won't cost a trillion dollars.
The grandiose schemes being put forward in the House, Senate, and Presidential bills will mostly end up on the cutting-room floor, delivering us just a few minor tweaks here and there.
"Comprehensive healthcare reform" is in the same shape Gene Hackman was in, twitching and moaning in its drawn-out death throes, shot in the head by Presidential arrogance, congressional overreach, and fiscal collapse.
Or as C.W. Moss put it in Bonnie and Clyde: "Dirt in the fuel line … just blowed it away."
03 — Akio Toyoda, Hero of the Week. Speaking of whingeing plaintiffs, I'm going to join the half-dozen commentators who have already nominated Rhonda Smith of Tennessee for an Academy Award.
"Retired social worker" Rhonda testified to a House committee looking at allegations that Toyota automobiles come without brakes or an ignition switch. Her Lexus just ran away with her, sniveled Ms Smith, dabbing at her tears with a sheaf of trial lawyer business cards. It shot up to 100 miles an hour and she could do nothing but pray for help! At last the Almighty heard her voice, took a break from putting out a kitchen grease fire in the Virgo Supercluster, and braked the car for her.
It took a long time for Toyota to respond to her complaints, whimpered Ms Smith, and even then they were dismissive.
So am I, lady. I was weeping too by this point; but I was weeping for my country. A retired social worker testifying to a room full of congresscritters — to put it another way, one person who has never in her life created a dime of wealth addressing a roomful of same, with the common goal of showing those disgusting, heartless capitalists who's the real boss in today's U.S.A.
Mr Gradgrind duly showed up, in the person of Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota. Rather to my surprise, he was not wearing a tailcoat, top hat, and monocle, nor was he carrying in each hand a big bag with a dollar sign prominently marked on it. In fact, by contrast with the reserved and gentlemanly Mr Toyoda, the blubbering Ms Smith and the howling mob of parasites constituting the committee made a sorry spectacle.
Maintaining his proper and manly restraint, Mr Toyoda did not lose his temper, as he had every right to. He did not remind the roomful of tax-eaters that his company has invested billions in America, building great factories, employing a quarter million workers, founding countless charitable enterprises — including one to promote math and science education in our public schools, to give our students some relief from the lessons in Diversity Awareness and AIDS prevention that block out most of their schedules.
Mr Toyoda displayed heroic self-control in the face of sanctimonious hectoring and racial insults from the massed legions of pain-feelers and trial-bar shills in front of him. If that had been me up there, I would have projectile-vomited on Carolyn Maloney when she asked me what I had learned from my session in the baboon house.
I decided there and then that my next car will be a Toyota. Akio Toyoda is this week's Radio Derb hero for his performance in front of the House committee.
And all the time he was up there testifying, you could see the thought scrolling across his retinas: "We lost a war to these clowns?"
04 — Rolling fiscal collapse. Wall Street Journal, quote:
Nationwide Strike Paralyzes Greece … Tens of thousands of Greeks took to the streets Wednesday as much of the country went on a 24-hour strike against government austerity measures …
What's happening over there is, the government has been running up huge deficits — 13 percent of GDP last year — and the European Union has a limit of three percent. They're leaning on Greece to get her deficit down. To do that, the government has frozen public-sector hiring, cut public-sector benefits, and raised taxes. Greeks are taking to the streets: On Wednesday in Athens, police broke up a mob with tear gas.
Could this happen here? The U.S. deficit was ten percent of GDP last year, will be 11 percent this year. It's been over the EU limit of three percent in five of the last ten years. In a nutshell: If the U.S.A. were a member of the EU, we'd be Greece, pretty much.
If the Greek government has been mismanaging the economy, what has our government been doing to our economy? And the Greeks at least have the EU to act as a Daddy, imposing some discipline on them. Who do we have?
'Scuse me … Hello? … No, how many times do I have to tell you, I don't want to buy any U.S. Treasury bonds! … No, not even at five cents on the dollar. Goodbye. [Hangup sound.] That pesky Chinese guy again — who gave him my office number?
Where was I? Oh, yes, Greece and her fiscal problems. And not just Greece; Spain is a few steps behind on the same road, then Portugal, Italy, Ireland … It's a spreading problem. Name a state with democratic government, an overmanned public sector, a private sector shackled and chained with regulations, taxes, and litigation, and an underclass with no marketable skills, and I'll show you trouble with a capital "T."
Let's be constructive, though. What can we do to avert the kind of fiscal crack-up Greece is having? I know! — Let's launch a vast new entitlement program! Let's raise taxes and expand the deficit to pay for it! Is that a great idea, or what?
05 — Jews flee Malmö. Here is this week's story on the delights of multiculturalism.
I don't know if the name Raoul Wallenberg is much remembered nowadays. Wallenberg was a Swedish businessman working in Hungary during the early 1940s. When the Nazis and their puppet Hungarian government started deporting Jews to the extermination camps en masse, Wallenberg got himself attached to Sweden's Budapest embassy as a diplomat, and handed out Swedish identity documents to as many Jews as he could reach, saving tens of thousands from the camps.
When Soviet troops entered Budapest in 1945, Wallenberg was hustled off and shot on account of Stalin not holding humanitarians in very high regard — nor Jews either, come to think of it.
Wallenberg's story was one episode in the modern history of Jews in Sweden, which reflects well on that country. After the Nazis occupied Norway and Denmark, for example, Sweden opened itself to Jewish refugees from the Gestapo.
Well, that was then, this is now. London Daily Telegraph, February 20, headline: Jews leave Swedish city after sharp rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes. Story, quote:
When she first arrived in Sweden after her rescue from a Nazi concentration camp, Judith Popinski was treated with great kindness. She raised a family in the city of Malmö, and for the next six decades lived happily in her adopted homeland — until last year. In 2009, a chapel serving the city's 700-strong Jewish community was set ablaze. Jewish cemeteries were repeatedly desecrated, worshippers were abused on their way home from prayer, and "Hitler" was mockingly chanted in the streets by masked men. "I never thought I would see this hatred again in my lifetime, not in Sweden anyway," Mrs Popinski told us.
That's pretty shocking. Who are the perps here? Neo-Nazis? — what the liberal media likes to call "extreme right-wingers"? Not exactly. This Jew-baiting is being done mostly by elements from the twenty percent of Malmö's population who are Muslims. They are aided and abetted by left-wing radicals, of which Sweden has a good supply.
The left-wing mayor of Malmö, for example, a fellow named Ilmar Reepalu, is on record with the opinion that what the Malmö Jews see as naked anti-Semitism is in fact just an understandable reaction to Israeli policy in the Middle East. The mayor also told the Telegraph that, quote:
If Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmö.
Plenty of them are doing just that. One of them, a lawyer named Marcus Eilenberg, told the Telegraph that he and his wife had considered moving to Stockholm where Jews feel safer than in Malmö, but, quote, "We decided not to because in five years time I think it will be just as bad there."
Stockholm: That's where you will find a handsome memorial to Raoul Wallenberg. Soon to be removed to make way for a statue of Osama bin Laden.
Hey, every age has its heroes.
06 — The military's true mission. OK, pop quiz: What is the United States military for?
If you answered "To defend our nation against her enemies," you can go report for latrine detail. For the correct answer, I refer you to the statement by General George W. Casey, Jr., talking with George Stephanopoulos on November 8 last following the Fort Hood shooting, quote:
What happened at Fort Hood was a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here.
Yes folks, that's the mission of the U.S. military — to celebrate diversity. If 14 of our troops are massacred by an affirmative-action hire Islamist gone berserk, that's a tragedy, but if there's any slackening of the army's commitment to diversity, that's a greater tragedy.
Well, all right, I know, old news; but here's an update, from my own web browsing this week. I wanted to say something more about this lunatic business of putting women on submarines. So I went to the Navy website to see what they had to say. It's not hard to find: it's www.navy.mil, and they have a little running bulletin board there with news of the day. Here is the news item I found myself looking at Tuesday.
Headline: CNO Honors Navy Awardees at BEYA. Let me just unpack that a bit. "CNO" is "Chief of Naval Operations," the highest-ranking officer in the Navy. He reports to the Secretary of the Navy, and sits on the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with General Casey and four other uniform suits.
So this top sailor was honoring Navy awardees at BEYA. What the heck is BEYA? No, I didn't know either. It's Black Engineer of the Year Awards. Let me quote for you from the Navy website bulletin, quote:
CNO, Adm. Gary Roughead presented two Navy civilians and a former Navy lieutenant with awards at the gala; Steffanie Easter and Sharon Smoot received the Professional Achievement in Government Award and Davede Alexander received the Diversity Leadership Award.
Once again, let me remind you, listeners, this is the top news item on the main information website for the U.S. Navy.
You remember the U.S. Navy: Lake Champlain, Hampton Roads, Battle of Midway … [Clip: "We Saw the Sea"] … that's the one. Well, something funny happened to the U.S. Navy when we weren't looking: It got taken over by elementary-school principals.
Don't believe me? Listen to Admiral Roughead, quote:
Holding events like the Black Engineer of the Year Awards is important because it allows us as a Navy, as a military and as a nation to recognize the great contributions that men and women of diverse backgrounds make to our Navy, to our nation, to the military, and to so many different walks of life … We will be a better Navy because of diversity … Diversity is bringing together different perspectives, different experiences, different backgrounds, different opinions, and from that we will be able to solve problems better.
That's what the Admiral said. Recognizing contributions … celebrating diversity … different perspectives! … different opinions! … solving problems! None of that horrid old stuff about winning wars! No Sir, no more of that!
Of course, if we were to lose a war, that would be a tragedy, but it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity became a casualty. Fortunately, with General Casey in charge of the Army, and Admiral Roughead looking after the Navy, there's no danger of that.
I suppose I should check out the Air Force and Marines, but I'm afraid of what I might find. Here's some music instead. [Clip: Navy Hymn / Kumbaya medley.]
This is the story of 48-year-old Tony Bologna of San Francisco and his two sons, Michael, aged 20, and Matthew, aged 16. All three were shot to death in the family car by Edwin Ramos, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador. Mr Ramos was vexed when the Bologna's car blocked him from completing a left turn. Being vexed, and being also a career criminal and member of the psychotic MS-13 gang, Mr Ramos vented his vexation by killing the three citizens, who were on their way home from a barbecue. Mr Bologna's widow, Danielle, was left to mourn her husband and sons, and to support her two surviving children as best she could.
But wait a minute: If Ramos was a career criminal and gang member, and also an illegal immigrant, why hadn't he been deported back to El Salvador long since? Why? Because this is San Francisco, that's why.
San Francisco's a sanctuary city. That's "sanctuary" as in "Sanctuary-much!" which is what illegal immigrants say after they've been booked for some crime, then assured by the arresting officer that no matter what the outcome of the case, our country is their country, nuestro país es su país, and there is no danger at all that they will be told to go home.
So Mr Ramos was free to roam the streets of the City by the Bay, slaughtering any carful of citizens who got in his way when he was making a left turn.
Well, Mrs Bologna thought it was shameful that the city had allowed Ramos to pursue his gang activities when they knew he was in this country illegally, which they did. She got a lawyer and sued the city.
This week we got a ruling on that suit from Judge Charlotte Woolard of San Francisco Superior Court. Said Judge Woolard, quote:
Cities generally are not liable for failing to protect individuals against crime.
That's not a bad point, Judge, though it'd be a way better one if cities like San Francisco didn't prevent people from protecting themselves by severely restricting handgun possession. Good point or bad point, though, is it really the point at issue in this case? How about this one:
Cities generally should show respect for federal laws and co-operate with federal authorities.
Why was it up to poor bereaved Mrs Bologna to bring the suit, anyway? Why isn't the Department of Justice suing the pants off these scofflaw cities? The immigration laws are the people's laws, passed by the people's representatives, in Congress duly assembled. They have just the same jurisprudential status as, say, the civil rights laws. Justice enforces them, doesn't it?
If I gave the finger to a federal law, I'd have federal marshals breaking down my door before you could say "Elián González." So why isn't Justice all over the San Francisco Board of Supervisors like white on rice?
Oh right, I forgot: because Justice is staffed by people who hate the U.S.A. and think the rights of foreigners take precedence over the rights of citizens. I forgot about that.
08 — Complaints Corner. Now, this is going to be hard for you listeners to believe, but Radio Derb sometimes gets critical emails. Yes! — there are listeners who take issue with my ex cathedra pronouncements. Every so often I shall expose a few so you can hiss and boo at them. Here's a little crop from this week.
Mr Derbyshire: I was surprised at your take on the Alabama professor. I thought some commentators had made a very interesting observation that even though she was "obsessed" with Obama and was in fact a far left nut case, nobody in the MSM had mentioned it. Yet, even though the Austin IRS plane attack was perpetrated by a man who said he hated George W. Bush, he was given tea-party status by the MSM. Did you not think that was interesting or did you just think that card had been played enough already?
Well, here's one of the problems with writing for the public prints: You get so you don't notice craziness, because your mail is full of it. I'm not referring to any of the listeners quoted here, who are all sensible and percipient persons, as the great majority of our listeners of course are. There's a lunatic fringe out there, though, and they l—o—v—e to write emails.
So after a while you just internalize the fact that some portion of the public is barking mad. Then, when someone from that demographic shows up in a news story, flying a plane into an IRS office or shooting her colleagues at a faculty meeting, the crazy factor is muted because you're so used to it.
Similarly with the MSM twisting everything so that liberals look good and conservatives look bad. I have to read MSM stuff for a living, I just get inured to it.
And while conceding my reader's point, why is it any surprise that the crazy Alabama professor was a liberal obsessed with Obama? Practically all college professors are liberals, and all liberals, I think without exception, are obsessed with Obama.
Here's another complaint, on a different topic.
Mr Derbyshire: It's been ages since we heard any news of Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the charismatic President of Turkmenistan. Why aren't you keeping us up to date?
We have indeed been remiss in keeping listeners informed of the president's movements. Just a quick update here: Earlier this month President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was in Paris, though nobody seems to know why. He met with President Nicholas Sarkozy.
The most specific accounts of the visit I can find say that President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was in France to, quote, "foster bilateral ties." That's about as informative as my kids when I ask where they're going and they say: "Out."
Back in Ashgabat — which, I'm sure I don't need to tell you, is the capital of Turkmenistan — President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov issued a decree, a ukase, an edict, a pronunciamento, or whatever is the correct term in Central Asia, declaring that he will permit a second political party to be formed, to compete for votes with his own party, the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan.
That's all the news I have of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. Should my diligent staff of researchers pick up any further items on President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, you can be sure we shall bring them to your attention forthwith.
09 — Shutting down the Internet. Well, the internet's been a lot of fun, hasn't it? You probably logged in the first time in the mid-1990s, and have been surfing happily ever since, enjoying the wide variety of opinions and amusements, perhaps taking a quick peek now and then at some of the stuff out there on the fringes, maybe setting up your own website for fun or business. It's been great, a huge leap forward in technology for the ordinary citizen, making our lives more colorful and productive.
Well, you can kiss goodbye to all that, pal. The forces of darkness have rallied, and they're all set to do everything they can to make the internet less citizen-friendly and more government-friendly.
They fired an opening shot this week in Italy, where three executives of Google were convicted in a court trial of allowing an unsavory video to be broadcast on the internet via Google Video. The actual charges they were convicted on were invasion of privacy. They all got suspended six-month sentences.
The offending video showed an autistic teenager being bullied by his classmates at a school in Turin, Italy. The three Google employees had nothing to do with the video; so far as anyone can tell, the Italian authorities just picked them at random. It goes without saying they had nothing to do with the bullying: none of them even lives in Italy!
Nobody knows what the Italian government has in mind here, but they seem determined to do what they can to harass other internet firms, and they have similar cases ongoing against eBay, Yahoo, and Facebook.
It is of course impossible for these firms to monitor everything that's uploaded, so if their executives are to stay out of jail, they'll just have to shut down large segments of their businesses.
Meanwhile in Australia, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy is pushing a plan that will force internet service prividers to filter material that is, quote, "harmful." Who gets to decide what is "harmful"? Who do you think? Not you and me, that's for sure.
Here's the punch line from a report in the Australian press, quote:
The proposed scheme will place Australia with 15 other Western democratic nations that have or are preparing to implement ISP filters.
Fifteen nations, all gearing up to tell us what we may and may not view on the internet. Whose doing the technical work to set up these filters, though? Consultants on loan from the Chinese Communist Party, would be my guess.
10 — Miscellany. Here is Radio Derb's traditional miscellany of brief items to wrap up this week's broadcast.
Item: Winter Olympics! The real action here of course is in curling, with results from the the men's semifinals being read out just as Radio Derb goes to tape.
Canada beat Sweden by a healthy 6-3, and Norway prevailed over Switzerland 7-5. So it's Canada-Norway for the gold on Saturday, Sweden-Switzerland for the bronze. In the Women's semifinal this morning, Sweden trounced China, and Canada edged out Switzerland, so it's between Canada and Sweden for the gold on Friday, and you should root for Canada, if only because one of the team members is named Carolyn Darbyshire.
Other than curling, I don't think there's much of interest here, unless you're a girl, or a girly man, in which case of course your focus will be on figure skating. [Klaxon.] Darn it, I just set off one of the PC alarms.
Item: The "virtual wall" of high-tech sensors and cameras and satellite feeds that our Department of Homeland Security has been erecting along the nation's southern border in lieu of an actual, you know, like, wall, is not working very well and may never be completed.
It was supposed to be completed next year, but, says the Los Angeles Times, it "languishes in the testing phase in two remote spots of the border in Arizona."
What a surprise! What a total surprise! How disappointing this must be to the government! Our Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is to order a department-wide assessment of the project. No doubt heads will roll. Oh yeah, I'm sure they will.
Our politicians so desperately wanted this virtual wall to work: Republicans, to stop the flow of cheap illegal labor to their campaign contributors, and Democrats, to stanch the supply of new clients to the welfare state and future, post-amnesty voters for the Democrat ward bosses.
Yep, this must be a terrible disappointment all round in Washington.
Item: Just back to military matters for a moment: While here in the U.S.A. we are turning the Joint Chiefs into a coffee-klatch of schoolmarms, with soldiers only allowed to attend to their weapons and formations when they've satisfactorily completed their 80 hours a week of diversity training, in Turkey the military are still a force to be reckoned with.
Traditionally they have been the guardians of Ataturk's legacy — that is, of a modern, European-style secular government. The current ruling party in Turkey, by contrast, has a lot of Islamists in it, and that doesn't sit well with the military. The government's charged them with plotting a coup, and 40 senior army officers were arrested on Monday.
Given the current state of Islam, most of us are going to side with the Turkish army on this one. I mean, another military coup in Turkey would be a tragedy, but it would be an even greater tragedy if Turkish diversity becomes a casualty here.
Item: Some rhubarb news here: The best rhubarb, as everyone knows, is grown in the Rhubarb Triangle of northeastern England. Well, this week the European Union granted Protected Designation of Origin to the rhubarb from this region.
Now, if you find yourself in England sitting down to a dish of rhubarb crumble with custard, listed on the restaurant menu as "Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb," you can be sure it is the real thing.
If that's not a great advance for civilization, I don't know what is.
Item: Finally, what would Radio Derb be without a reminder to get a government job.
If you've had an actual job in the actual economy, making things or buying and selling things, you've probably been fired at some point. It's happened to me a couple of times, and I've also been on the other side, firing people who weren't performing well — which is almost as stressful, though in a different way. It's all over pretty quickly as I remember, since everyone involved is embarrassed and wants to get it over with.
That's how things go in the private sector. How about the public sector? Well, here's a story from Los Angeles, quote:
Officials spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district's 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance — and only four were fired at last, during legal struggles that wore on, on average, for five years each. Two of the three others were paid large settlements, and one was reinstated. The average cost of each battle is $500,000.
See, in the private sector it's two minutes with the boss, clean out your desk, down to Payroll for the accrued, and out to the parking lot carrying your box. In the public sector, it's five years of litigation after which you either keep your job or take a six-digit settlement.
As Disraeli said, two nations.
11 — Signoff. That's about it, folks. Before signing off, though, just one more from the complaints box. This rather irate email comes from a listener on a stairmaster somewhere in the Midwest.
Mr Derbyshire: Most of the time, I'm listening to Radio Derb while working out, with headphones on. Since I have open-ear buds, I tend to have to crank the volume up to the maximum. When I was listening to the February 5th show, however, the bleeps in the Rahm Emanuel segment were loud — painfully so … For the benefit of those of us who'd still like to retain our hearing by the time we're your age, could you have Mandy, Candy, and Brandy check the volume levels of spliced-in sound effects?
I'm afraid my well-buffed listener is nursing some confusion about the chain of command here at Buckley Towers. Mandy, Candy, and Brandy are my research assistants, massaging the wire services to firm up suitable items to the standard required for insertion into a Radio Derb segment, or else down on their hands and knees in the file room rummaging about in drawers.
Recording quality is the responsibility of Ahmed, my Pakistani assistant. Please understand that I have to deal very carefully with Ahmed, as he is the only Waziri Muslim here at Buckley Towers and we don't want to lose him.
If my midwestern reader were to suffer permanent hearing loss as a result of Ahmed having misjudged the recording level, that would be a tragedy, but I believe it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here …
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]