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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your diffidently genial host John Derbyshire with a week's worth of news.
Before we begin, just a brief follow-up to last week's news. We reported that the International Olympic Committee is planning to phase out wrestling as an Olympic sport. Well, listener Jesse Wiseman, who is a wrestling coach and a former wrestling champion, emailed in to tell me that he has started a Facebook group called "Save Olympic Wrestling," and it already has close to 45,000 members. Jesse also wants me to know that women's wrestling is a flourishing and growing sport, and that, quote, "neither mud nor jell-o is involved." I guess that's … good. Wrestling fans please check out the Facebook page, "Save Olympic Wrestling," and help to keep this fine and ancient sport in the Games.
OK, on with the show.
02 — Nationalism across the pond A small political event took place on Thursday this week over in Britain.
Now, I know that British politics is of very little interest to people elsewhere. I entirely sympathize. Heck; I was born and raised in the place, and I have trouble working up interest in what's going on in all that fog and drizzle and fumes from steak and kidney pie. This event has some larger significance, though; so trust me please, you need to know about this.
As I've often remarked before, the politics of our two cousin nations run approximately parallel. Britain had postwar consensus politics, so did we. Britain took a lurch to the left in the late 1970s, so did we. Then Britain elected a strong economic conservative, and a year and a half later so did we. Some basic economic cleaning-up got done over there, and the same here. Post-Cold-War came a modest economic boom, uncontrolled mass Third World immigration, and a succession of lackluster political leaders pushing globalization, multiculturalism, public-sector expansion, and centralization of political power, there as well as here.
So there's a parallel, and it's worth taking a glance across the pond now and then for indicators as to what we might all be talking about in the next few months. Let's take a glance. What do we see? A by-election, that's what.
The British have a general election every four or five years in which all the MPs — equivalent to our congresscritters — all 650 MPs have to be elected, or, as the case may be, re-elected. In between these general elections, though, there sometimes needs to be an election in some district because the MP quit, died, or found himself helping police with their enquiries. That's what the Brits call a by-election.
And that's what happened on Thursday: a by-election in the constituency of Eastleigh down on the south coast of England. Eastleigh is a pleasant, quiet, mainly lower-middle-class suburb of Southampton, up to now famous principally for having unleashed Benny Hill on an unsuspecting world. The MP, a chap named Chris Huhne, resigned in early February after pleading guilty to cooking the books on his record of motor vehicle offenses.
So Thursday there was a by-election. Why should you care? Because British politics is stuck in the same rut as American politics, with the major political parties all standing for globalism, multiculturalism, open borders, and reckless government spending. The main difference is that in Britain there are three of these parties, while in America there are only two. Since there is barely any daylight between their three parties, any more than there is between our two, this doesn't matter much.
What does matter, and what makes this by-election interesting, is that in Britain there is a quite vigorous opposition party, UKIP. That's U-K-I-P, the United Kingdom Independence Party. On issues not related to the National Question, UKIP are libertarian-conservative, favoring lower taxes, less regulation, civil unions but not marriage for homosexuals, and so on. Their main appeal, though, is nationalist.
UKIP is a genteel party with its main support in the well-behaved lower-middle and middle-middle classes. They would blush and swoon to hear themselves called nationalist, which as everyone knows is a terribly wicked thing to be, only a step or two up from being a klansman. That's what they are, though, certainly by comparison with the open-borders globalism of the three big parties. UKIP stands for British sovereignty over British affairs, as opposed to the current arrangement in which many social policies, including immigration, are decided under the rules of the European Union.
Under those rules, for example, just ten months from now, 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians will have the right freely to enter Britain. The British economy is in poor shape right now, and British people naturally think their government should attend to their problems before opening the borders to people from Europe's poorest countries.
To give a bit of American perspective on this issue, let's look at wealth per head in a few countries. I'll use official GDP per capita figures, which are close enough. In the U.S.A. the number is a tad less than 50 thousand dollars; in Mexico it's a bit over 15 thousand. So your average American is about three and a quarter times richer than your average Mexican. The corresponding ratio for Britain against Romania is 2.9 — in the same zone. For Britain vs. Bulgaria it's 2.6. So these are Britain's Mexicos.
You get the same picture with quality-of-life indicators. Mexico's infant mortality rate, for instance, is 2.8 times America's; Romania's is 2.3 times Britain's, and Bulgaria's is 3.5 times Britain's.
And then, although utterly unmentionable in politically-correct circles, there's the gypsy factor. A small number of gypsies from that region have already got into Britain the past few years, and are already hated and feared for their sensational rates of crime, gang activity, and welfare sponging. UKIP is much too polite to talk about the gypsy issue, but it's at the back of everyone's minds.
So that's why the Eastleigh by-election is worth your attention. If UKIP polls behind the big three parties, the reign of the globalist elites will continue undisturbed. If, as expected, it scores ahead of one of the three but behind the other two, that will be an encouraging sign of some rising national consciousness among the Brits. If it places ahead of two of the parties, that will be a considerable political earthquake, and the big parties will start plotting how to steal UKIP's clothes.
And if UKIP polls first and takes the seat, establishment politicians will be hurling themselves from high windows all over central London, to the general improvement of British public life. And American politicians, aware of those parallel tracks, will be wondering if nationalism might start to rise here, too.
As I record this segment, the polls have closed but the vote not yet been counted. We should have a result before Radio Derb is uploaded to the internet, though, so I'll try to add a comment in my signoff segment.
03 — And the Silly Party candidate is … I'm sorry to have given the impression that there are just four parties running in that by-election. There are in fact fourteen. Here, to show the British haven't yet lost their sense of humor, are their names.
First we have the big three: Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrats. I suppose somebody knows the difference, but I don't. The MP who resigned, by the way, was Liberal Democrat.
Then UKIP, as previously mentioned. So that's four.
Now for the other ten parties, all of whom are fielding candidates. Here we go:
That's the field. Yes, like you I'm rooting for Beer, Baccy and Crumpets; but it's UKIP that could turn British politics upside down.
04 — The Oscars in German The Oscars came and went.
The Oscars … Now look, I know a lot of people, of all political persuasions, enjoy watching the Oscars. As a general philosophical matter, I don't think it's a good thing to shut yourself off from popular culture. Some of it's fun, and even the parts that aren't fun for a mature and thoughtful person, might have something to tell us about the world we live in.
So I do my best with the Oscars, I really do. I tried to watch this year's. I gave it my best shot. But honestly …
In the German language, the s-word is scheiss. There's a different word, dreck, to express the more general idea of repulsive filth. If you want to express the furthest extreme of loathing and disgust you can double down, putting the two words together to make scheissdreck. That's about where I was with the Oscars by the time the big names started showing up.
Oh, I'm sure some of these stars are very nice people if you get to know them. Some of their movies are OK, too. There have been lots of movies I've liked. I've even done a friendly movie review from time to time. I'm a little jaundiced at the moment because the last movie I saw in an actual movie theater was Les Miserables, which was bad beyond belief, leftist revolutionary agitprop sung by people who can't sing. So perhaps I wasn't in the properly receptive mood to watch a crowd of overpaid, overdressed bubbleheads engage in mass mutual masturbation.
Back when Bill Shakespeare was scratching away with his goose-quill pen, the common opinion was that actors were "vagabonds and strumpets," not fit to mingle in polite society. Isn't there any way we can get back to that dispensation? It gave us Shakespeare, after all.
And at the end there, to add insult to injury, there was Michelle Obama, First Lady of this blessed republic, flanked by half a dozen military personnel in full dress uniform. Mrs. O was simpering and smirking as she opened the envelope. I thought for a minute that the dot-mils would lift her up above their heads and break into song, Busby Berkeley-style.
Dwight Eisenhower warned us against the military-industrial complex. Actually, as things turned out, that was small potatoes. What is really going to drag the United States down to oblivion is the showbiz-political complex. There it was in full garish display the other night, leering insolently at those of us who want to live in a serious country with grave, frugal, restrained and modest leadership. We are doomed.
05 — Fat City, D.C. As Radio Derb goes to tape here at midnight on Thursday, it looks as though sequestration will happen, and the federal government will be obliged to cut spending. This is wonderful news.
Not many big-name political figures think so, of course. Politicians — the great majority of them — hate to cut spending, because it reduces their ability to do favors for the lobbyists who stuff their pockets with cash and buy them expensive lunches.
In the particular political environment of today, Republicans hate spending cuts a little bit more than Democrats do. Democrats run the Executive, so they have some leeway in how they can apportion the cuts. Naturally they will apportion them to cause the greatest pain to the largest number, then blame it on Republicans. So there's an element of malicious glee over on the Democrat side, a corresponding element of despair and frustration among Republicans.
The Republican national and congressional leadership has in fact been striving to avoid the sequester; partly because they know they'll take the blame for the pain Obama will manufacture, and partly because they are pols who instinctively hate the thought of spending cuts the way vampires hate garlic. Fortunately there are just enough Republican representatives with backbone to prevent the leadership doing what comes most naturally to them — throwing down their rifles and raising their hands in the air.
And as many commentators have pointed out, the cuts amount to very little: a tad more than two cents on the dollar. The administration's going to have to work really hard to make that hurt, though I'm sure they'll manage it.
Two cents on the dollar. As delightful as it is to see the government cut by any amount, it makes you hungry for more. Why not twenty percent? Why not eighty? Much of what the federal govermment does is harmful, and most of the rest is just pointless.
Here's an item from NBC News, February 27, quote:
Looking to buy a new car, truck or crossover? You may find it more difficult to stretch the household budget than you expected, according to a new study that finds median-income families in only one major U.S. city actually can afford the typical new vehicle.
Would you like to guess which city that is, listener? The one city in the U.S.A. so prosperous that a median-income family can afford to buy a new car? The one city? Can you guess?
Washington, D.C. and the counties around it are bloated with wealth, sweating and oily with wealth, the fatted grease of their wealth dribbling off and running in rivers down their streets. What's the source of all that wealth? Why, the federal government, of course. This is not wealth generated by ingenuity, enterprise, or hard work. It's wealth ripped from the hides of working and entrepreneurial Americans as taxes then shoveled to special interests with the politicians and their hangers-on skimming off a portion for themselves.
Well, at least we've had a little light relief amongst all the sequestration sturm und drang. This was provided for us by California Representative Maxine Waters. The lady is on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees all the banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and so on, in the country. That's a pretty important committee, and you'd want someone really numerate on there, right? Someone who knows their math, right? Well, listen and weep.
Wednesday the Financial Services Committee was addressed by Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Fed. Next day, Maxine Waters stepped up before the cameras with some other congresscritters to report what Bernanke had told them. Quote:
[Clip: "We don't need to be having something like sequestration that's going to cause these jobs losses, over 170 million jobs that could be lost — and so he made it very clear he's not opposed to cuts but cuts must be done over a long period of time and in a very planned way rather than this blunt cutting that will be done by sequestration."]
This is the caliber of talent we have overseeing the nation's financial services, listeners. Buy gold and bury it in your garden.
I hereby nominate Rep. Waters to the IQ-Challenged Congresscritter Hall of Fame, to stand alongside Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson. [Clip: "My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize …"]
06 — News from Turkmenistan. I received an indignant email this week from our good friend President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan.
The email directed my attention to the Business Insider website. Business Insider has just released its 2013 Misery Index, which ranks all the nations of the world according to rates of unemployment and inflation. Turkmenistan, they claim, has 10 percent inflation and 60 percent unemployment, which puts the nation fifth from last on the Business Insider rankings.
This is only the latest in a series of recent negative reports on the brave nation of Turkmenistan. Some outfit named Reporters Without Borders has ranked Turkmenistan third from last in the world on press freedom, as if our subsidiary there, TNN — that's Turkmenistan News Network — as if we were not renowned throughout Central Asia as a beacon of responsible reporting, certainly fully deserving of the monopoly that President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has granted us.
There's yet more. Transparency International has ranked Turkmenistan 170th out of 174 in its most recent Corruption Perceptions Index.
These, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov tells us, are gross and slanderous fabrications put about by the enemies of Turkmenistan. He urges Radio Derb to deny them with all the weight of our authority as the premier news podcast in the U.S.A.
We are glad to do so. Long live the noble republic of Turkmenistan! Long live the supreme and benevolent leader President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov! Confusion to his enemies! May the slanderers and fabricators of false data meet their just reward! [Clip: Turkmen national anthem.]
Why should you do that? To thank Senator Sessions for standing firm against the open-borders fascists.
What happened was, Senator Sessions was holding a regular meeting with around 40 of his voters in Russellville, Alabama. The meeting was gatecrashed by a group of 30 or so Latinos under the leadership of a La Raza activist.
Their modus operandi was not actually aggressive. Instead, they went for the Senator's heartstrings. The opening plea from one of the Latinos went as follows, quote: "Sir, we come wanting to ask you for help for our families that you might help our families who want to find a way to make the immigration system better for us. Our lives are depending on this. We want to keep our families together and we need help." End quote.
The Senator's heartstrings remained unplucked. Quote: "Let me ask you, don't you think we should have an immigration system that follows the law? I believe the U.S. should have a lawful system of immigration and it should serve the national interest, not special interest, not big business interest, not agricultural interest." End quote. Good grief! Was the Southern Poverty Law Center listening? Senator Sessions is a hate group all by himself!
The lady persisted, quote: "Latinos are suffering, Sir. We need something to fix immigration. We are asking you to help our families stay together." End quote. At that point I would have asked the lady who was preventing her family staying together. They could stay together perfectly well in their country of origin. Jeff Sessions stuck to his script, though, quote: "I do not feel a moral or legal obligation to allow those who entered illegally to benefit from breaking the law," end quote.
Then a different Latino stepped up and tried the helpless-kiddie routine. She'd come here when she was just six years old, she said. She'd had no choice, she said. She went to school here, which presumably means at American taxpayers' expense. "I'm as American as American can be," she lisped, squeezing out a tear. "I love this country as do Latinos across this country." Well, some do and some don't. There are those of us who remember the sea of Mexican flags in the 2006 demonstrations, and the Latinos booing the U.S. soccer team when they played Mexico in 2004, their boos and catcalls drowning out the U.S. National Anthem. Oh yeah, they love this country. Sure.
Sessions stood firm. Quote: "People can't break the law and then demand the rights of citizenship … Our citizens have been pleading with their government for 20 or 30 years to fix this problem and their government — Democrats and Republicans — have not solved the problem."
As my colleague said, give Sen. Sessions' office a call. Express your appreciation for a patriot upholding the rule of law. It's a rare thing nowadays. The number of Senator Sessions' office once again: 202-224-4124.
08 — Hagel makes home base We have a new Secretary of Defense: Chuck Hagel, confirmed by the full Senate 58-41, all the democrats but one (who missed the vote) voting for Hagel, all but four of the Republicans voting against him.
This is peculiar, since Hagel was actually a Republican Senator himself for two terms, stepping down in 2009 as he'd always said he would.
Just in parentheses here: Let's try to keep the idea of term limits alive. One of the most deplorable developments of the past few decades has been the emergence of a permanent political class, for which term limits is the solution.
I covered a lot of this in Chapter 3 of my book We Are Doomed. If you want an update, I recommend John Fund's article "Term Limits Are Back" in the March issue of The American Spectator. As Fund points out, term limits are really, really popular. Quote:
A brand-new Gallup poll found in January that support for term limits is higher now than it was at the height of the pro-term limits fever two decades ago. Seventy-five percent of Americans told Gallup that they support limiting the terms of members of Congress, and only 21 percent were opposed. Young people (under 30) and older Americans (over 65) both gave the concept 74 percent approval … "I've never seen an issue as popular as this," says pollster Scott Rasmussen, whose own surveys mirror the Gallup numbers.
End quote. The problem with term limits remains, of course, that you have to get the political class to vote for them. Let's keep hope alive, though.
OK, end of parenthesis, back to Chuck Hagel. So, whence all the opposition?
Is it that he's stupid or incompetent? Surely not: He had a successful business career, made himself rich through honest capitalist enterprise, which is more than I ever did. Don't look to me to call the guy stupid.
Is he too ignorant of military affairs to serve as Defense Secretary? Hardly: he served with distinction as an infantryman in Vietnam, and was a senior VA administrator under Reagan. That's a whole lot more acquaintance with things military than could be claimed by, oh, say, our current Commander-in-Chief. It's at least as much as the previous SecDef had.
So here's a smart, capable guy who knows the military and can find his way round Capitol Hill. What was the problem? And why was it mostly with Republicans?
The problem was, Hagel is not a neocon. He saw the folly of the Iraq War sooner than most (though not, I am proud to say, sooner than me). He mocked George W. Bush's absurd talk about ridding the world of evil and Dick Cheney's bureaucratic arrogance. It's a pity more Republicans weren't doing the same; it might have saved a lot of American lives.
Worst of all from the neocon point of view, Hagel was even-handed in the Arab-Israeli dispute and critical of the Israeli lobby in Washington. Personally I'd differ with him on some of that. I don't think you can be even-handed between civilization and barbarism, and a civilized country like ours should always champion civilization, which in the Middle East means Israel, not the gangster-despotisms of the Muslim world. We should speak up for Israel and help them out with supplies, equipment, and diplomatic support, while trying to keep the barbarians soothed by bribery. That's been our policy for half a century, which is a remarkably long time for a policy to work as well as it has.
Should we send our troops to fight alongside Israelis? No: but nobody's asking us to; and if they ever do, I hope we'll refuse. As one of the founders said, we can be champions of liberty without being guarantors of it. This is a remote possibility, though. Israel can take care of itself.
So I'll register minor differences of opinion with Chuck Hagel, but a president's entitled to his cabinet choices unless they have some clearly disqualifying feature. In Hagel's case I don't see anything like that. I congratulate him on his new job.
09 — Signoff. That's almost it, ladies and gents. As promised, we have the results from that by-election. The nationalist party UKIP did indeed do well, coming in second, which is to say ahead of two of the three major parties. They got 28 percent of the vote, close behind the winning Liberal Democrat with 32 percent. A good result for UKIP and for national sovereignty.
The Beer, Baccy and Crumpets Party got only 235 votes, I'm sorry to report. Better luck next time, chaps. Keep trying: mighty oaks from little acorns grow, you know. With the failure of socialism and the disappearance of conservatism, I don't see why there shouldn't be a bright future for beer-baccy-and-crumpetism.
To see us out, here is an actual British election result, although not last Thursday's.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Clip: From Monty Python's Election Night Special.]