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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. I apologize for the background noise here, listeners. This week's Radio Derb is actually coming to you from the cabin of our corporate jet. I was anxious to get away for the holiday weekend, so I told my research assistants to pack overnight bags and we headed off with our impedimenta to the airport. Fortunately the Radio Derb corporate jet is equipped with adequate sound-recording facilities.
We are now at 30,000 feet over Florida, headed for Radio Derb's private island in the Caribbean for a restful break. Our broadcast this week will be somewhat truncated, but I assure you any shortfall in quantity will be made up for in quality. Parva sed matura is Radio Derb's slogan this week: Our items will be few, but ripe.
So this is your aeronautically genial host John Derbyshire bringing you news from the last week of June. Er, Mandy, could I have some more ice in this, please? … [Ice sounds] … Thank you.
02 — Obama wants to raise taxes. Yes, our cool, eloquent President held a press conference at the White House. Here he presented his thoughts on the appalling debt crisis our country faces.
His main thought — I think in fact it was his only thought, or at least the only one he offered to the assembled press — was to soak the rich. Quote: "The tax cuts I'm proposing we get rid of are tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, tax breaks for oil companies and hedge-fund managers and corporate-jet owners," end quote.
So here's the issue. Government spending is riotously out of control. Vast scads of money sluice out of Washington D.C. every day, most of them in transfer payments to Americans, payments driven by demographic and technological forces that are beyond the control of government: retiring baby boomers, rising underclass dependency, new healthcare diagnostic and treatment technologies, and so on. More hundreds of millions of dollars every day flow out to maintain a huge military establishment, much of which is either fighting unnecessary wars or relieving wealthy countries of the need to pay for their own defenses.
The expenditures flourish and grow, fed by a dysfunctional political system that pays farmers not to grow, workers not to work, mothers not to marry, bankers not to check customers' credit-worthiness, and members of powerful public-sector unions to retire at fifty on three-quarters salary. Government regulators and lawyers descend on every successful business like flies on fresh meat, stifling initiative and raising costs.
And as these vast, bloated, ever-swelling state and federal programs, regulations, and lawsuits swallow up ever more of the national wealth, as we go deeper in hock to foreign bond-holders, as we pile more and more crushing debt obligations on the generations of our children and grandchildren, the President's main idea is to change the depreciation rules on corporate jets.
I'm all out of metaphors here. Fiddling while Rome burns … Re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic … What else have we got? Let's just dump the metaphors. Let's just say a great nation, the greatest that ever was, is hurtling towards insolvency and fiscal collapse, while its chief executive takes a break from the golf course to play some petty class-warfare games.
03 — Same-sex marriage in New York. This week Radio Derb's home state of New York became the sixth in the Union to legalize marriage for homosexuals.
Same-sex marriage seems like a lousy idea to me. Heterosexual pairing-off is the customary foundation of Western society, and the foundation of the self-support that has allowed liberty to flourish in the West as it never has elsewhere. Anything that subtracts from the general acceptance of that foundational institution, anything that puts it under a skeptical light or subjects it to critical self-consciousness, weakens the tradition of self-support and endangers our liberty.
Having said that, those of us who are hostile to same-sex marriage all have the feeling we're spitting into the wind. There's some great slow shift taking place in our social life that's undermining marriage in far more ways than just this one. Among our meritocratic elites, the high bourgeoisie who went to the best schools and hold the most prestigious jobs, marriage is pretty solid. At the other end of society it's disappearing.
Charles Murray gave some of the key numbers at his American Enterprise Institute lecture in April. He separated out for observation the top 20 percent and the bottom 30 percent of the non-Hispanic white population, just to keep race factors out of the analysis. That top 20 and bottom 30 he defined by education and occupation.
Here's the key comparison: Among that top 20 percent, the upper-middle class, the rate of being married fell slightly across the half century from 1960 to 2010. To be exact, it fell from 88 percent to 83 percent.
Among the bottom 30 percent, however, across that same half century, the rate of being married plummeted from 83 percent to 48 percent.
We are increasingly a class-stratified society; and all the great changes in thinking and behaving that came upon us in the past few decades are playing out differently in the different social classes. Expressive individualism in particular is being incorporated as a mere style element in the lives of the upper-middle classes, whose sensibilities remain fundamentally bourgeois, dutiful and responsible. Among the bottom 30 percent of society, expressive individualism has led to a riot of self-indulgence and folly, with the welfare state picking up the bills.
In this context, same-sex marriage is one more outlet for expressive individualism, which is the real ideology of our age. The top 20 percent will incorporate same-sex marriage into their lives, those who choose to, with very little effect on their work, their health, or their child-raising practices. For the bottom 30 percent it will be one more cause of chaos, disintegration, disease, delinquency, and dependency.
In common with, I suspect, most conservatives, I look on with a sense of helplessness as these tremendous, apparently unstoppable changes transform society. What they mostly transform is the bottom of society. What they mostly bring about is more loss of control among people who didn't have much control to begin with, more dysfunction among citizens who needed all their abilities to function in a simpler time, more dependents for a welfare state that can't afford the dependents it already has.
We should, of course, stand athwart this trend crying "Stop!" Nobody's listening, though: the appeal of expressive individualism is just too great. What the end of it all will be, I cannot guess, though I feel sure it won't be good.
04 — Gaza flotilla. The flotilla of ships that was going to sail for Gaza to break the Israeli sea blockade of the place, has still not assembled as we go to tape here, but should be on its way this weekend.
There are nine or ten ships in the flotilla, carrying about 300 people. The aims of the flotilla are mixed. The organizers, a coalition of terrorist groups and their Western supporters, actually want to break the Israeli blockade, so that the Gaza authorities can smuggle in Iranian missiles to fire at Israel. A lot of the 300 participants, though, are just air-head peaceniks who think the people of Gaza are starving and need liberating.
This is not actually the case. Reports from Gaza tell of well-stocked supermarkets and well-dressed citizens. Imports and exports of all non-military kinds flow in and out across Gaza's land borders, both from Israel and Egypt. It's seaborne and airborne traffic that's hard to monitor. That's what Israel blockades, for her own protection. And breaking Israel's blockade, with the help of dim-witted Western lefties to serve as human shields, is the terrorists' aim.
Last year, you may recall, the Israelis boarded a vessel and were promptly attacked by Turkish Islamists on board. The Israelis killed ten people in the subsequent fighting, to outrage from "world opinion" — you know, that "world opinion" that never utters a peep when terrorists blow up some pizza parlor in Israel, or drop a missile on some Israeli elementary school. The Turkish government made a big fuss, and there was a diplomatic breach.
This year, interestingly, the Turks seem to want to have nothing to do with the flotilla. They've pulled their ship out of it, perhaps figuring that while annoying Israel is kind of fun, and gets them points with the Arabs, it doesn't really do anything for their national interests.
That gives Israel some leeway for action. If I were in charge of the Israeli Defense Forces I wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to blow that entire flotilla out of the water and leave the survivors to swim for shore; but this is not a probable outcome. Netanyahu doesn't need the agita. There'll be some boardings and some scuffles, and probably a few broken heads, but the Israelis aren't going to take Hamas's bait like they did last year. They'll finesse the thing somehow, perhaps even just letting the ships through after token inspections.
I predict a non-event; but when crazy terrorists are bent on mayhem, and idiot flower children are trying to help them, anything might happen.
05 — DSK case collapses. It looks as though the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn has collapsed. This is the French socialist politician and head of the IMF whom a New York hotel maid accused of sexual assault back in May. We reported the case in our May 20th broadcast.
The New York Times now reports that investigators have caught the maid out in several lies, and believe she is involved in drug dealing and money laundering.
It was pleasant to think of DSK, a high panjandrum of the global elite, being cuffed and perp-walked like the millionaire bond trader in Bonfire of the Vanities. As we got to know more about the case, though, it got hard not to wonder. Strauss-Kahn is 62 years old, short and portly. The lady is 30 years younger and six foot tall. How did he force her to do anything, let alone the particular thing she said he forced her to do?
Some of the more shamelessly cynical among us even wondered if political correctness was driving the prosecution. Strauss-Kahn is white and rich and from the Christian — post-Christian, whatever — West; the maid is black and poor and from the Muslim Third World. From a conventional worldly point of view, Strauss-Kahn easily outranks the maid: but in the calculus of political correctness rankings, she's ahead of him by a mile and a half. The Duke lacrosse case came to mind; so did Tawana Brawley. Poor black gal, non-poor white guy: the guy must be guilty.
It looks like cynicism was the correct attitude, as it so often is. So now the script is: gullible P.C. Americans humiliated a leading French politician. If the French are mad at us, it'd be hard to blame them. And if they now go ahead and elect DSK as their next President, nobody should be surprised.
06 — ChiComs celebrate their birthday. News from China here. This weekend marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. Back in July 1921 a small group of intellectuals met in Shanghai to establish the party. They were inspired by the Russian Revolution of four years earlier, and frustrated by the collapse of social and political order in China following the end of the old imperial system in 1911.
As it happens I was in China ten years ago, when they were celebrating the Party's 80th birthday, so I know how it goes. Lots of precision-drilled military parades. Lots of TV spectaculars … sort of Leni Riefenstahl meets Busby Berkeley. Historical movies showing the Party leaders as wise and just, the Party's enemies as contemptible and treacherous. Speeches by the leaders pressing the theme that without the Party China would fall apart in chaos.
It goes without saying that the history is all doctored to make the Party look good. The purges and assassinations of the Yan'an period, before the Party came to power, don't get mentioned. Nor do the million or two people murdered in the land reform campaigns of the early 1950s. Nor do the tens of millions who starved to death in the famines of 1959-62, famines caused directly by foolish government policies. The Great Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976 is skated over with a few bland remarks about "mistakes." The nationwide protests of 1989 and the numerous uprisings of the subject peoples in Tibet and Turkestan get the silent treatment. Inconvenient historical figures like Gao Gang and Zhao Ziyang are airbrushed out.
This particular anniversary comes at a time when the ChiComs are stamping down exceptionally hard on all criticism and opposition. The main reason for this is that they have been spooked by the so-called "Arab Spring" going on in North Africa and the Middle East. They don't want any such popular movements starting up in China.
One victim of this latest crackdown was the artist Ai Weiwei, who was arrested in April. He was accused of vague "economic crimes," and the ChiCom news outlets also accused him of bigamy and "indecency." Then last week he was released, but in an obviously intimidated condition, and forbidden to leave Peking because of those "economic crimes," now specified as tax evasion.
Given that the ChiComs can make up any charge they like against anyone who displeases them, and put out any kind of accusations without fear of contradiction, the charges against Ai Weiwei should not be taken seriously. Under the Chinese Communists, guilt or innocence are not matters of procedure, evidence, reasoning, and judgment. You're guilty if the Party wants you in jail, innocent if they don't; that's the beginning and end of it.
Still, Ai Weiwei is at least in his own apartment, with the freedom not to watch the TV celebrations of the Party's birthday: the fraudulent historical dramas, the Nuremberg-style military parades, the speeches advertising the Party's wise omniscience, and the Busby Berkeley dry-ice variety spectaculars of such vulgar banality they make The Lawrence Welk Show look like the Metropolitan Opera. Pity poor Liu Xiaobo, winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, shut up in a jail in Northeast China, where no doubt he and the other prisoners will be forced to watch the Communist Party gangsters advertise themselves, hour after tedious, narcissistic hour. I have no doubt that Liu Xiaobo and his fellow prisoners, given the choice, would rather break rocks.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: Every time I think I'm inured to the follies and depravities of our age, something comes along to assure me that my stomach can still be turned. This week it was the story of 11-year-old Will Phillips, who lives in West Fork, Arkansas. Little Will is a crusader for gay rights. He refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance in his fifth-grade classroom, saying, quote: "It's not true when gay people don't have the same rights as everyone else … I feel like I'm lying if I say that pledge." Little Will is of course a hero to the buggery brigades, and — here's the news — he has been chosen as one of the leaders in this year's San Antonio gay pride parade. Eleven years old. The lines have already been written, listeners, I need only quote them.
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
Item: Mark Halperin, who is apparently a political commentator, made some remarks on "Morning Joe," which seems to be a TV program, that were broadcast by MSNBC, which I'm told is a cable network. The remarks caused much offense to countless citizens. What seems to have happened is that Halperin mistook President Obama for someone else, someone named Richard. I don't know the background to this particular incident, but such mistakes are easily made. Perhaps Mr Halperin was thinking of Anthony Weiner. And in Mr Halperin's defense, the President's given names, through no fault of his own of course, are somewhat exotic and hard to remember. May I respectfully suggest that the President consider changing them to something blander and easier? How about John Thomas?
Item: It wouldn't be Radio Derb without an immigration outrage story, so here's one for this week. This is actually a many-faceted story, illustrating with brutal clarity from several angles why our precious republic is lying battered and bleeding in the gutter. The protagonist here is the senior United States Senator from Illinois. His name is, er, Richard, Richard Joseph Durbin.
This … Richard sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement, and the Subcommittee had a hearing on Tuesday to discuss the DREAM Act, whose purpose is to give subsidized college educations to illegal aliens. La Raza had packed the hearing room with illegals, and given Richard Durbin a script to follow. Richard, on cue, asked the illegals to stand and show themselves, and half the room stood up.
Federal Marshals rushed in and pounced on the freeloaders, wrestling them to the ground and cuffing them, then dragging them away into waiting paddy wagons for deportation …
No, just kidding; that's what happened in the bizarro world where the U.S. government enforces the people's laws. Nobody even attempted a citizen's arrest, though I swear I would have if I'd been there. What actually happened was that Richard Durbin praised the fence-jumpers for their, quote, "sacrifice" — you know, the sacrifice they made when they traded a peasant hut, donkey, and bean field, in Oaxaca for Section 8 housing, '93 Chevy, and food stamps in San Diego. That sacrifice.
Then Richard said, quote: "When I look around this room, I see America's future, our doctors, our teachers, our nurses, our engineers, our scientists, our soldiers, our congressmen, our senators, and maybe our president." End quote.
I've been joking for years that the way things are going we'll have an illegal alien president before long. It's dangerous to joke in this area. Today's joke is tomorrow's reality. This Richard of a Senator actually looks forward to an illegal becoming president. He wishes for it.
The Constitution of course forbids even legal immigrants from becoming president, and you might expect a U.S. Senator to know that. You might, I mean, if you didn't know that our nation is run by illiterate halfwits — halfwits, furthermore, who loathe and detest the American people, regard U.S. citizenship as a racist fiction, and can't wait to replace us, us with all our disgusting patriotism and despicable desire to keep what we own, to replace us with people more colorfully ethnic, more dependent on the welfare state, and more willing to vote Democratic.
There in that hearing room on Tuesday we saw on display all at once the stupidity, arrogance, sentimentality, and treason of our liberal elites, and their determination to elect a new people, the present population of America having proved so disappointing to them.
Here's a closing suggestion from Radio Derb. Since the people of Illinois have three times elected this Richard, this Richard Durbin, to one of the highest legislative positions in the land — he is number two in the Senate Democratic leadership — since the people of Illinois in their ignorant folly have imposed this traitorous moron on the rest of us, as well as a great many other troublemakers, socialists, and sowers of discord — you can fill in the names for yourself — since Illinois has done this to us, I move that Illinois be ejected from the Union. We could build a 100-foot wall around the wretched place, mine all the approaches, and offer them a choice of either independence or annexation by Mexico. To judge by Richard Durbin's remarks on Tuesday, their choice would be the latter.
08 — Signoff. Sorry, that last item turned out to be not so brief after all. When confronted with the furthest extremes of human folly and wickedness, I get carried away.
That, I am afraid, ladies and gents, must suffice for this week, as we are approaching our destination and must prepare for landing. Our private island is, let me assure you, sovereign U.S. territory, so we shall celebrate the blessed Fourth with full panoply: fireworks, barbecues, midnight pool parties [(giggles) … Quiet, girls, please, while we're recording], and the burning in effigy of our country's enemies, to the list of whose names I think we shall add Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois.
That's a wrap. More from Radio Derb next week. Happy July Fourth, everybody! Here's the United States Air Force Band.
[Music clip: The Stars and Stripes Forever.]