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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb on the air here, ladies and gentlemen. This is your equiponderantly genial host John Derbyshire bringing you the week's news.
I am ensconced here in our lavishly-equipped sound studio on the 95th floor of Buckley Towers in the heart of Manhattan. My research assistants have assembled a trenchant and rigorously fact-checked précis of the week's events, my team of award-winning sound technicians are poised over their instrument panels, and the rest of the NRO staff are busy polishing their accoutrements in preparation for the Friday night party.
Off we go!
02 — Romney wins New Hampshire. Well, I'm biting my tongue. This time last week I was scoffing at Mitt Romney as "Mr Twenty-Five Percent," on the grounds that the 25 percent of the vote he got in the Iowa caucuses was precisely the same as the 25 percent he got in the same contest four years ago. Then he went and got forty percent of the vote in New Hampshire this Tuesday.
Mitt's New Hampshire win was not actually a stunning surprise, not even to me. It had been widely predicted. Still it's pleasant to contemplate, though not quite as pleasant as Newt Gingrich's paltry ten percent.
It's pleasant to contemplate because, like it or not — and I don't like it any more than the average Goldwaterite reactionary — like it or not, Romney's the GOP candidate with the best shot at winning the general next November.
The New Hampshire polls tell the story. At the top of Republican voters' minds are two things: Getting the economy back on the rails, and defeating Barack Obama. Having had at least some working acquaintance with the economy, Mitt's a reasonable bet to tackle the first concern; and as the most electable GOP candidate with independent voters, he's the best bet for the second. What's left to say?
Well, if you're one of the runner-up GOP candidates, you can say unkind things about Mitt's business experience — paint him as a corporate raider, or as Rick Perry put it, a "vulture."
Now, the vulture's a mean-looking critter all right. But speaking as a voter who likes to see a streak of mean in his candidate, I'm not bothered by this. Spotting a streak of mean in Mitt Romney, in fact, would cheer me up some.
And say what you like about vultures, they can at least fly. If the field comes down to one vulture and a bunch of penguins, I'll take the vulture.
03 — Warming to Mitt. As you may have perceived, I'm warming to Mitt Romney. I warmed to him a bit more this week when I read this editorial in the New York Times.
Headline: "Romney's Hard Line." The body of the editorial begins, quote:
Mitt Romney, who used to try to sound like a moderate on immigration, has dropped the pretense. On Wednesday, he proudly accepted the endorsement of the anti-immigrant activist Kris Kobach, architect of the nation's most radical immigration crackdowns.
Now that's funny: I'm an immigrant, as anyone can tell from my voice, yet the couple of times I've met Kris, he's been very pleasant to me. I would never have guessed he's, quote, "anti-immigrant." He didn't seem to bear much hostility to this immigrant.
Kris is not exactly some fringe nutcase, either: he's the Secretary of State for Kansas. (That's a state, you Times editorialists. You go down Broadway a few blocks, hang a right on 34th Street, and keep going.)
The Times editorial is so loopy I can't resist quoting more. Longish quote:
Mr Romney has flipped and flopped all over on immigration, but in allying himself with Mr Kobach he has lurched toward the extremist right. [Here comes a quote within the quote, quote:] "Kris has been a true leader on securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal immigration into this country," Mr Romney said.
End longish quote.
That's the New York Times' notion of an extreme right position: the candidate wants to secure our borders and stop the flow of illegals. Not just right, extreme right.
The Times people haven't finished making your flesh crawl, though. In the next paragraph they say this, quote:
[Kris Kobach] is with the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that wants to reduce legal immigration.
Heavens to Betsy! Reduce legal immigration? Who ever heard of that? Doesn't this Kobach lunatic know that current levels of immigration are written into the Constitution? Are in fact fundamental principles of the natural world, like the laws of thermodynamics? I'm coming over quite faint. Pass the smelling salts, Jeremy.
As I said, I'm warming to Mitt. What conservative wouldn't, when Mitt earns a New York Times editorial as foam-flecked as that?
One must of course bear in mind that Mitt might be saying precisely the opposite thing this time next year, or next month: but hope springs eternal, and I'm warming, definitely warming.
04 — Ron Paul's strong showing. There's been much chewing of cud among the pundits as to why Ron Paul continues to do so well. Permit me to offer a theory.
Ron Paul's doing well for two clear reasons.
On the first point, whatever you think of Ron's positions on foreign policy, drug legalization, birthright citizenship, or the Gold Standard (me: like, don't like, like, dubious), there is no doubt he's the anti-government candidate. Not anti-all government, of course — nobody's that stupid: just anti the gross, swollen, bloated federal government we've acquired this past half-century, with its million pages of regulations, its armies of lawyers no citizen can afford to defend himself against, its legions of bureaucrats meddling in aspects of our lives that the Constitution plainly intended to be left to our private decisions.
And then there's the second point: Ron speaks up for Americans when our ruling classes seem not to like Americans very much, to prefer attending to the interests of foreigners.
This is true regardless of which party is in power, with just some slight differences in emphasis. If Republicans are in power, they bend their efforts to improving the lives of Afghans, Iraqis, and Africans with AIDS. If Democrats are in power, you get more kissing-up to South American socialist dictators and big globalist outfits like the U.N.
Under either party you find massive hand-wringing concern for Mexicans and Central Americans. Under neither party do you feel that there is much interest in American citizens — the people who built and paid in to this country, whose fathers and grandfathers fought and died for her, who carry American culture forward from one generation to the next. Hey, screw them.
There, in my opinion, is Ron's appeal, in those two reasons: He puts private citizens before government people, and he puts Americans before foreigners. It's been a quarter-century or so since we saw either thing from a Republican candidate, and at least twice as long since we saw either from a Democrat.
And how much did I like Ron's crushing of Newt Gingrich in last Saturday's debate, when Newt said he couldn't possibly respond to his draft notice because he had a wife and child, and Ron came back with, quote: [Clip: Ron Paul, "When I was drafted I was married and had two kids, and I went"]?
How much did I like that? A lot. A whole lot. I really, really enjoyed it. So did the audience: listen to the applause. [Clip again.]
05 — Myth of Japan's failure. We're even-handed here at Radio Derb, you all know that. So having scoffed at the New York Times editorialists a couple of segments ago, here's a piece I liked from that newspaper.
It's a guest opinion piece, not an editorial. The guest is Eamonn Fingleton, a senior Asia specialist, and one I greatly respect as an independent thinker who's never seen any herd he wants to run with, though I haven't always agreed with him.
Fingleton's inner specialty within his Asia specialty is Japan, and that's what he's writing about in this guest piece, dated January 6, headline: The Myth of Japan's Failure.
Now we all have the same basic narrative about Japan fixed in our minds. They lost World War Two. They buckled down and built up their economy. By the seventies they were a manufacturing power-house, producing world-beating cars and electronics. In the eighties we were being told they'd eat our lunch — overtake us economically.
Then came the 1990 property crash, and the bloom came off the chrysanthemum. By 2000 we were all feeling sorry for the Japanese, who far from eating our lunch seemed to be on the point of begging us to give them some lunch money.
By around that time also, we began to notice Japan's plunging demographics: 1.2 children per woman per lifetime, then 1.1: not just a failed society, but a failed society of geezers.
By now the average Westerner thinks of Japan as an economic basket case headed for demographic extinction.
That's the narrative. I've been having my doubts about it. Friends who live in Japan, and other friends returning from visits, all tell me it's a pretty nice place, full of healthy and well-fed people, most of them well-educated and gainfully employed, very low crime, clean environment, rich proud culture, and so on. I've been having trouble squaring this with the basket-case image.
That's where Eamonn Fingleton's opinion piece picks up. The Japanese economy has actually been doing well, he tells us. (He's a professional economist, by the way.) Life expectancy is steadily lengthening. The yen's risen 87 percent against the dollar since 1989. Unemployment is 4.2 percent, less than half of ours. Their trade balance is in a healthy surplus; ours is half a trillion in deficit. Their internet infrastructure beats ours by a mile. And so on.
Demographics? Quote from Fingleton:
It never seems to occur to Western commentators that the Japanese both individually and collectively have chosen their demographic fate — and have good reasons for doing so.
He goes on to give the reasons.
It's a nice contrarian piece that has got people arguing.
Not everyone's buying Fingleton's story. For example, while life expectancy in Japan may be growing, and may be five years longer than the American average, it's shorter than the average for Japanese-Americans.
And I wonder if Fingleton didn't go a little over the top in arguing that the Japanese like the Japan-as-failure narrative. There are actually good economic and diplomatic reasons to prefer being pitied and mocked over being envied and feared, he says: it gets you off the hook for foreign aid, for example.
Still, it's always good to hear a contrarian point of view and hear one's own fixed opinions challenged. I don't see Radio Derb moving to Japan any time soon, but next time a friend comes back from the place full of enthusiasm, I'll listen a bit more respectfully.
06 — No Israeli citizenship for Palestinian wives. As time goes by, I find myself admiring the state of Israel more and more.
Three broadcasts ago I reported on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's robust approach to illegal immigrants from Africa. Quote from him:
We are determined to protect our border and our citizens' jobs … It is the obligation of any government that is concerned about the future of its people.
On a different occasion he referred to this recent wave of illegals, most of them Africans from Sudan and Eritrea, as a, quote, "national scourge."
Naturally I swooned to read that; but it gets better. This week the Israeli parliament passed a new law allowing illegals to be imprisoned without trial for an unlimited period, and imposing sentences of up to 15 years for anyone who assists them.
Quote from Amnon Cohen, one of the legislators who sponsored the bill, quote:
Go to south Tel Aviv and you'll see people there living in fear. Anyone who wants to steal a wallet from a person, or a box of goods from a store or a bike from a private garden just does whatever he wants. If we don't put an end to this, the issue will not stop.
Mr Cohen said he was sponsoring the bill in order to, quote, "defend Israeli society."
That's the executive and the legislature speaking up. This week we also heard from the judiciary. Israel's Supreme Court has upheld a law that bars Palestinians from getting citizenship by marrying an Israeli.
The law was passed in 2003 during the second Palestinian intifada, when Arab citizens of Israel were helping the Palestinian terrorists. So-called human rights groups had raised a fuss and challenged the law.
Well, their challenge has failed. Quote from Supreme Court Justice Asher Grunis, writing in this week's judgment, quote:
Human rights do not prescribe national suicide.
I like that so much, I'll repeat it. Once again, this is Israeli Supreme Court Justice Asher Grunis, quote:
Human rights do not prescribe national suicide.
Why don't our Supreme Court judges talk like that?
07 — Syria something something. Still in the Middle East: Something or other's happening in Syria. Don't ask me.
08 — The chutzpah of Joran van der Sloot. I'm going to call this segment "Chutzpah of the week."
You are no doubt familiar with the story of the boy who murdered his parents, then begged for mercy from the court on the grounds he was an orphan. That's chutzpah, but I think this week's story trumps it.
(I had better say that every time I use the word chutzpah I get angry emails telling me I don't say it right. Well, let me say this about that. I live in a nation of 310 million people, only eight of whom can pronounce my name properly. So cry me a river, okay?)
OK: the subject here is a certain Joran van der Sloot. You may recall that Joran, who is 24 years old, of the male sex, and a Dutch citizen, was a prime suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teen Natalie Holloway on the Dutch-Caribbean island of Aruba.
Whether Natalie was murdered, or died accidentally, or as a result of rough sex that got too rough, we shall probably never know: that van der Sloot was somehow involved, and was instrumental in the very effective disposing of Natalie's body — no trace of which has ever been found — is as certain as anything can be without documentary evidence.
Those of us who thought that, whatever the facts of the Holloway case, van der Sloot sure seemed to be a nasty piece of work, were vindicated in June 2010 when he murdered a 21-year-old local woman in a hotel room in Lima, Peru. There wasn't much doubt he did it. There was plenty of evidence; he fled to Chile; and when extradited back to Peru he confessed and has apologized for the murder.
Van der Sloot's actual trial in Peru started this week, and opened with the sensational display of chutzpah by van der Sloot that inspired my title for this segment.
Yes, he said, he did it; and yes, he was truly sorry. However, there were mitigating circumstances.
Oh, what would they be?
Well, you see — and van der Sloot, through his lawyer, actually told the court this — you see, he had killed the Peruvian lady while under, quote, "extreme psychological trauma" because of, wait for it, because of all the stress he'd been put under as a suspect in the Natalie Holloway case.
Now that's chutzpah. You off a young woman — or, at the very least, assist in disposing of her corpse in some very definitive way. As a prime suspect, you get a lot of grilling from the police and press. This upsets you so much, you can't help yourself, you just have to go to a different country and off another young woman.
I think I'll try this. Next time I'm pulled over for drunk driving I'll tell Smokey I just couldn't help myself, I had to get blotto because I was so upset at having got a speeding ticket. That'll work, right?
09 — Pat Buchanan booted from MSNBC? Pat Buchanan, who talks and writes more sense than an average six other pundits, except when he ventures into science, has been suspended from his job as a commentator on the left-wing TV network MSNBC.
Or maybe he hasn't. Pat hasn't been seen on the network since late October, so people have been assuming he's suspended. Pat, however, when someone asked him about it earlier this week, said he didn't know of any suspension, he's just dealing with some health issues.
Believe that if you like, but the timing is surely suggestive. Late October, when Pat last appeared on MSNBC, was shortly after his latest book, Suicide of a Superpower, came out. Sample quote from that splendid book, quote:
The crises that afflict us — culture wars, race division, record deficits, unpayable debt, waves of immigration, legal and illegal, of peoples never before assimilated, gridlock in the capital, and possible defeat in war — may prove too much for our democracy to cope with. They surely will, if we do not act now.
What kind of action is Pat looking for? He spells it out: Stop garrisoning the world, downsize the federal government, bring back the tariff, overhaul immigration. Along the way, I cannot resist telling you, he quotes me a generous four times. And, full disclosure, I reviewed the book for Taki's Magazine — favorably, of course.
Pat's arguments all make perfect sense to me. They are way too much for liberals, though. They were flapping their wrists and squealing in horror at the central notion Pat puts forward: the notion that if the U.S.A. ceases to be majority-white and majority-Christian, it will cease to be a nation of any consequence, and will likely cease to be a nation at all.
Pat may be right on that, or he may be wrong, but we no longer work these things out by open and honest discussion. We deal with them by bullying and ostracism, by censorship and silencing and moralistic shaming.
We are halfway to totalitarianism: Open and honest discussion, Anglo-Saxon civilization's great gift to humanity, is no longer a feature of our national life — perhaps, as Pat argues, because we are no longer very Anglo-Saxon.
Or as Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, put it last weekend, quote:
The ideas he put forth aren't really appropriate for national dialogue, much less the dialogue on MSNBC.
Well, well: a prophet is without honor in his own country. Perhaps Pat should move to a different country. How about a small, advanced European country with a pleasant climate and lots of interesting antiquities, where the kinds of ideas offered in Suicide of a Superpower are discussed openly and frankly, are in fact approved of and acted upon by the nation's executive, legislature, and judiciary, to general public applause?
That's it, Pat, that's what you need to do — move to Israel!
10 — Miscellany. And now, our miscellany of brief items.
Item: Andrew Cuomo became governor of New York State a year ago, and we just got his state-of-the-state speech after that first year.
It was an odd mix. Cuomo knows our main problem: the state spends too much. He also knows the consequences, quote:
Our taxes are 66 percent higher than the national average.
Two million New Yorkers have left the State over the past decade.
So what's to be done? Quote:
We are going to start by transforming New York's economy.
How you going to do that, Gov.? Quote:
We will build the largest convention center in the nation.
But that's a no-hoper: there's a glut of convention space and conventions are declining. The number of people nationwide going to conventions has dropped 32 percent this last decade. What else you got? Quote:
The state must develop a comprehensive approach to casino gaming.
But that's another no-hoper. There are already casinos all over the northeast. The business doesn't generate much tax revenue, doesn't develop any world-beating products, and the jobs created are all low-skill, low-wage.
That was it, though: those were Cuomo's big new ideas.
Not to worry. Quote:
We must transform our government to once again become the progressive capital of our nation.
That's right, Andrew, that's the way to go. More progressivism — that'll solve all our problems.
Item: Heroine of the week, though I'm a little late with this one, is Sarah Dawn McKinley of Blanchard, Oklahoma.
Mrs McKinley, who is just 18, lives with her 3-month-old baby in a trailer up a country road. Her husband died of cancer on Christmas Day. Well, at two o'clock in the afternoon on New Years' Eve, two men showed up and began trying to break into her home, reportedly looking for prescription painkillers they'd heard her late husband had been using.
Mrs McKinley barricaded her door with furniture and called 911. It's a country district, though, with eleven cops serving a wide area — 12,000 square miles.
After twenty minutes one intruder, 24-year-old Justin Martin, had made it in and was climbing over the barricade brandishing a knife. Mrs McKinley shot him dead with a 12-gauge. The other intruder ran away but was caught later and has been charged with homicide, apparently on the grounds that he was responsible for his accomplice's death.
Mrs McKinley has not been charged with anything, since Oklahoma has a "castle doctrine" that permits homeowners to use lethal force against intruders.
Mrs McKinley has now been the subject of slander and insult by the leftist gun-control lobbies, but the subject of praise and admiration by Second Amendment conservatives. Count me among the latter.
Item: It's a good thing Mrs McKinley doesn't live in New York. She'd be up on capital murder charges, and her baby would be in an institution run by leftist family-haters and child-molesters.
The savage perversity of New York State gun laws — which, by the way, so-called conservative sweetheart Chris Christie would like to introduce into his own state — this perversity was on display in the case of 39-year-old Meredith Graves, a fourth-year medical student from Tennessee.
Ms Graves was in New York City for a job interview. In her purse she had a .32-caliber handgun, for which she has a Tennessee carry permit. Visiting the 9/11 memorial in downtown Manhattan, Ms Graves saw a sign that said "No guns allowed," so she asked a guard where she could check the handgun.
The guard took her to a police officer who promptly arrested her. Ms Graves faces weapons-possession charges carrying a minimum 3½ years in jail if she's found guilty. She's now out on a bond.
This story has a promising upside. Asked about the case at a news conference, our sinister megalomaniac gun-hating mayor Michael Bloomberg unbosomed himself of the following sneering reflection:
[Clip: Bloomberg, "Let's assume she didn't get arrested for carrying a gun. She probably would have gotten arrested for the cocaine that was in her pocket."]
In fact there was no cocaine in Ms Graves' pocket, nor anywhere else on her person. Bloomberg committed a gross slander of this lady on live TV. He alleged, on no evidence at all, that she is a drug addict, with possibly disastrous consequences to her chosen career as a medical practitioner.
I hope Ms Graves sues our repulsive fish-faced joke of a mayor until he bleeds from all orifices. I can't offer Ms Graves legal services, not being a lawyer; but if her lawyer wants someone to carry his briefcase, light his cigarettes, spit-shine his shoes, or adjust his tie, I'll be glad to do it free of charge, just for the opportunity to watch the loathsome Bloomberg reptile squirming in court.
Item: What else? Oh, a couple of knickers stories — we can never report enough of those.
First one: In Whitechapel, in the east end of London, Zahanara Begum was sitting on the toilet in her home when her husband, a devout Muslim, burst in and assaulted her as punishment for wearing Western clothes. He took particular exception to her underwear, which he called "Satan."
Meanwhile Zimbabwe has banned the sale of second-hand underwear, either for health reasons or to protect domestic textile producers — reports differ.
In possibly related news, we go over to Australia, where Teresa Gambaro, a conservative member of parliament, has called for immigrants to be taught the use of deodorant. Quote from her:
Without trying to be offensive we are talking about hygiene and what is an acceptable norm in this country when you are working closely with other co-workers.
I shall now be waiting impatiently for reports about Ms Gambaro when she is trying to be offensive.
Finally, at the Glenfiddich Distillery in Dufftown, Scotland, Brian Ettles died after throwing himself into a 10,000-gallon vat of whisky. Mr Ettles was 46.
11 — Signoff. Way over time here, boys and girls, so I'll wish you a very pleasant weekend and hand you straight off to Franz Joseph Haydn.
Take it away, F.J.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]