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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is back on the air! Yes, this is your indefatigably genial host John Derbyshire, back in the studio after a few days stateside with my good lady.
Several of those days were spent in the lovely state of Tennessee, where I gave a talk to the annual conference of American Renaissance, a society holding the opinion, which I share, that the U.S.A. should strive to remain a First World country.
Mrs. Derbyshire and I also took some time out for sightseeing. We toured Andy Jackson's estate, visited the Grand Ole Opry, and explored the Civil War battlefield of Fort Donelson. Altogether a refreshing and relaxing vacation: our first this year, which I think puts us about three vacations behind Barack Obama.
Our thanks to all who made the trip so pleasant and memorable: most especially to Jared Taylor for organizing a successful conference, to the staff of the hotel at Montgomery Bell State Park, who looked after us superbly, and to the park rangers, who kept the scarier forms of local wildlife at bay for us with much good-humored professionalism.
Now here I am back on Taki's island in the Aegean. You'll recall that during my last absence, back in November, there was a degree of misbehavior among my employees, and I had to enact disciplinary measures — withdrawal of beach privileges and so on.
I am glad to report that this time I returned to a studio that was neat and tidy — that looked, in fact, as if it had recently had a thorough cleaning. The girls had even hung a banner over the door saying Welcome Home Mr. Derbyshire! Most satisfactory. A little discipline works wonders. As my dear friend President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan is wont to say: Firmness in the hump makes for an obedient camel. Is that not so, girls? [Girls: "Of course!"]
Back to business, then. What has been happening in the world during my absence?
02 — A great lady passes. Just round about exactly thirty years ago I was riding a bicycle in the countryside of northeast China. This particular bit of countryside was divided into fields separated by narrow raised embankments. Well, there I was riding along happily when I saw another cyclist riding the other way, towards me. The embankment was too narrow to allow two cyclists to pass, so we both dismounted in order to edge past each other.
China at that time was just out of Maoism, and this was a region that had very few foreigners anyway. The other cyclist was a weather-beaten oldish peasant from Central Casting. Finding himself face to face with a bearded, fair-haired foreigner, he could hardly believe his eyes.
"您是哪國人?" he asked — "Which country are you from?"
"我是英國人," I replied — "I come from England."
"啊, 英國," he said, and gave me a big snaggle-tooothed smile. "鐵夫人!"
"鐵夫人" means "The Iron Lady." That guy may have been a peasant, but he kept up with the news. Margaret Thatcher was big news, even in back-country mainland China. She had actually been to China the previous fall to discuss the future of Hong Kong, then a British colony. Those discussions hadn't gone well. Thatcher had ticked off Deng Xiaoping, the ChiCom dictator at the time, and Mrs. Thatcher's subsequent Chinese press had not been good. The fact of an important country having a female leader had made a great impression on the common people of China, though. Everyone knew about 鐵夫人.
Well, Margaret Thatcher made news for the last time this week, passing away at age 87. I'm not going to mince words here: I adored and worshiped her.
A lot of other people felt differently. Certainly there was a case against Thatcher. It's a measure of how much larger than life she was, in fact, that there was more than one case against her.
The Left had an obvious case against her: She favored the private sector over the public sector and national institutions over international ones. She was also responsible for particular events that outraged the Left. In the Falklands War, a few months before her trip to China, the Royal Navy had sunk an Argentine battleship. From the point of view of the Left, going to war to defend British territory was bad enough; to actually approve the killing of enemy combatants put her beyond the pale. The year before that some Irish terrorists in British jails had gone on hunger strike to get their status raised from ordinary criminals to political prisoners. Thatcher refused their demands and stood firm in her refusal while ten of the terrorists starved to death. The Left was of course on the side of the terrorists.
All that's understandable enough; but the Right had a case against Thatcher, too. She has been criticized for the sin of economism — that is, of viewing citizens as units of production and consumption, without any regard to their emotional attachments or finer feelings. That's true only to the extent that Mrs. Thatcher understood a key thing about capitalism: at any point in time there must inevitably be winners and losers, enterprises that succeed and enterprises that fail. She would have said that in a humane capitalist system, today's loser should have a robust opportunity to become tomorrow's winner, and that was the kind of system she favored.
You'll also hear people say that she went too easy on immigration, with the disastrous results we see today. In fact immigration was at a steady level of 200 thousand a year throughout her eleven years in office. In four of those eleven years there was actually net outflow — e-migration greater than im-migration. Numbers didn't really take off until the late 1990s, long after she had left power, with the 500 thousand mark first being passed in 2002.
Yes, perhaps she could have done more. Politicians have to pick their fights, though, and Mrs. Thatcher left her country tremendously better off than she found it. The immigration benchmark for a British politician of her time was in any case this: What did Enoch Powell think of her? We know the answer to that: Powell held Thatcher in the highest regard. They were in fact a mutual admiration society. When Powell lost his seat in parliament in 1987, Mrs. Thatcher wanted to give him a life peerage, but Powell refused on principle: He didn't believe life peerages were constitutionally valid. She then tried to give him an actual hereditary peerage, but her colleagues rebelled at that. Nobody with that track record vis-à-vis Enoch Powell can fairly be placed on the villain side of the immigration argument.
If you are a conservative of any stripe, no matter what you think of Margaret Thatcher and her policies, you can hardly deny this: She was hated by all the right people. Cold War peaceniks hated her for standing with the U.S.A. against the Soviets. Parasitic paper-shuffling bureaucrats hated her for making them go get real productive jobs. The bomb-throwing gangsters of Northern Ireland hated her for treating them like the criminals they were. Feminist harpies hated this brilliant, successful, strong-willed woman, apparently not noticing the irony. When you look at who hated her, it was hard not to love her.
They hate her still. News of Mrs. Thatcher's death was greeted with much jubilation on the leftist fringes. Let them crow. Mrs. Thatcher wasn't right about everything; and much of what she did was later undone, as she knew it would be. She spoke herself of the "ratchet effect": When the Left is in power, they push the wheel of what they're pleased to call Progressivism forward. When conservatives get power, all they can do is lock it stationary for a while.
Mrs. Thatcher did what could be done in her time and place, telling her people clearly and forthrightly why she was doing it. She was courageous, truthful, hard-working, and patriotic. She was hated by all the people I hate. Good-night, sweet lady; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
03 — Gang of Eight seals America's fate. It is depressing to turn from a public figure of that stature, that integrity, to the worms and lice in charge of America's affairs today.
The so-called Gang of Eight can be taken as representative. These are the four Democrat and four Republican senators who have cooked up a fifteen hundred page amnesty bill they intend to ram through Congress before anyone's had a chance to read it. My VDARE.com colleague Nicholas Stix has opined that in an America that hadn't lost her way, they'd be publicly hanged — a point of view to which I'm entirely sympathetic.
The objectives of the bill are perfectly plain to anyone who's paid attention. The big lobbyists who keep Washington, D.C.'s high-end restaurant industry afloat work for businesses that prefer cheap, compliant foreign workers to the more expensive, more rambunctious American sort. When these lobbyists crack the whip, congresscritters of all parties jump.
That's most of what's going on, but there are secondary considerations on both sides. Democrats are drooling at the prospect of twenty to thirty million new citizens who will vote two to one Democrat. That's not to mention the hundred million, two hundred million, who knows? further Democratic voters these new citizens will bring in via chain migration.
Republicans meanwhile have convinced themselves, in the teeth of a tsunami of contrary evidence, that these Guatemalan gardeners and Pakistani programmers will see the light any day now and start voting for the GOP in sufficient numbers to make up for the legions of angry, dispossessed Americans who, as we saw last November, can no longer stomach doing so.
We peasants have been permitted a few glimpses of what's in the bill. The federal government will promise — cross their heart and hope to die! — that they will secure the borders and eject visa over-stayers. Illegals applying for amnesty will be forced to pass an English comprehension test, to be administered by José and Juanita down at the local ICE office. They'll have to wait for years and years to become citizens, though apparently not as many as the 16 years I waited. They'll have to purchase forged identity documents … Oh, sorry, slip of the tongue there: I mean, they'll have to provide documentary evidence for their identity, origin, and law-abiding character, documents that the federal authorities will spare no pains to thoroughly check [laughter]. Lots of rigorous, waterproof stuff like that.
And to those cynical souls who ask impertinently why we should believe the feds will enforce all these wonderful new laws, when they have been wilfully refusing to enforce the old ones, the Gang of Eight reply that this time we really mean it. Honest Injun!
And we all believe them, don't we, America? … Don't we? [Boo, hiss …]
04 — Sessions for President! In fairness to our federal lawmakers, not all of them are lying, traitorous, venal, worthless, scum-sucking bottom-feeders with their slimy hands in our pockets. Most are, but not all.
Here's one of the exceptions: Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama. On Monday, after the Gang of Eight had generously allowed us a quick peek at their fifteen hundred page bill, Senator Sessions put out a list of ten questions he had for them.
The list runs to nearly two thousand words, so I'll leave you to read it for yourselves. We posted in on VDARE.com on Tuesday. Here's just a very brief executive summary, just the headings, of Senator Sessions' ten questions.
There are ten questions the ruling class does not want to hear asked, you may be sure; and which, if they are asked, will be answered with shameless and — if you'll pardon the expression — comprehensive dishonesty.
05 — Gun rights on the curtilage thereof. When our federal legislators are not planning to open up our country to a hundred million or two fourth-grade dropouts from Mexico and Somali goat-herders, what else are they doing? Passing a national budget? Dealing with our sixteen trillion dollars of national debt? Working to reduce our cost of healthcare — the highest in the world, thanks to a bizarre system that no nation anywhere in the world seeks to emulate? Closing down our military bases in nations with whom we have no common interests and that are perfectly capable of defending themselves?
No, no, nothing so picayune. What the Solons in D.C. are concentrating their energies on is legislation to add new federal restrictions on the sale of guns. To be precise, they are discussing The Public Safety And Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, an 8,000-word behemoth from which I shall read you a couple of extracts at random.
Extract One. Nothing in this subtitle, or an amendment made by this subtitle, shall be construed to extend background check requirements to transfers other than those made at gun shows or on the curtilage thereof, or pursuant to an advertisement, posting, display, or other listing on the Internet or in a publication by the transferor of the intent of the transferor to transfer, or the transferee of the intent of the transferee to acquire, the firearm.
Got that? I admit I got stuck at "curtilage." "Curtilage"? Isn't that something you have in your knee? Whatever.
Extract Two. During the 1-year period after the expiration of the period described in paragraph (2), the Attorney General shall withhold 13 percent of the amount that would otherwise be allocated to a State under section 505 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3755) if the State has not implemented a relief from disabilities program in accordance with this section.
End of extracts. While I was reading that, my nimble research assistant Mandy looked up "curtilage" in her Funk and Wagnall's. Quote: "curtilage : the enclosed area of land adjacent to a dwelling house." There you go. Increase your word power with Radio Derb!
Well, on Thursday this week the Senate voted 68-31 to begin debate on this 8,000-word monstrosity, this Public Safety And Second Amendment Rights Protection Act. Note that Orwellian name, by the way. When the congressreptiles want to tear up some constitutional right and flush it down the senatorial toilet, they move a bill with protection of that right in its title. It's totalitarian audacity, daring us to call them on their outrageous inversion of reality. When it became clear that Stalin's collectivization program had wrecked Soviet agriculture, led to the deaths of millions, and driven millions more to the point of rebellion, Stalin published an editorial in Pravda titled "Dizzy with Success." Same principle here.
I am actually pretty confident that this legislation will go nowhere. Not that the congressgoons wouldn't strip us law-abiding citizens of our guns if they could. Of course they would. There are no big business or race lobbies pushing for this, though, as is the case with amnesty. At the federal level, gun control is mostly just gestural.
And we have one of the most effective and tenacious citizen lobbies on our side here: the NRA, bless their souls. I just got NRA life membership for my son. It took weeks to come through. When I called about the delay the lady apologized but said they'd been swamped with donations and applications, and couldn't keep up. Gun sales likewise are through the roof.
So I doubt we shall lose our Second Amendment rights whatever happens on Capitol Hill, or on the curtilage thereof. Where legislators are going to make themselves even more of a petty nuisance to gun owners than they already are, it will be at the state level, as we saw in Connecticut this week.
06 — He shot the sheriff. I should add to that that as well as the NRA working on our behalf, law-abiding gun owners also have plenty of eloquent blogs pushing back against the gun controllers.
The best of them so far as I know is Radio Free New Jersey, where joint bloggers Tom and Frith and Ikaika let nothing slip past them on the gun-control front.
Here's Tom posting on Wednesday, quote:
Those of us who think new laws should be based upon the results they are likely to achieve rather than the intent that is hoped for by the authors, are well acquainted with the virtually universal failure of those laws crafted by liberals. "Living Wage" laws increase unemployment among the low skilled. Environmental laws to protect endangered species cause people to kill them quickly before they can be discovered, and their projects put at risk. But surely this is some kind of a new record.
Tom then links to the story out of West Virginia about a fellow who shot a county sheriff over there. The shooter had a history of mental-health problems, had actually been institutionalized, and so was prohibited under current laws from buying a gun. He'd bought one anyway at a gun store, the federal background check apparently being just as dysfunctional and useless as everything else the federal government does.
Joe Manchin, the junior Senator from West Virginia, is a keen gun controller, one of the backers of this new bill in the U.S. Senate. As Tom says, what you have here is a new federal law being proven ineffective on the day before the Senate begins debating it. You can't make this stuff up.
07 — Anthony Weiner, bulging with ambition. Disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner is trying to get back into politics, to the delight of punsters and double-entendre mavens everywhere. Weiner's Second Coming was the New York Post headline.
You'll no doubt recall that Weiner was caught texting images of his boxer-brief bulge to a 21-year-old college student back in May of 2011. Weiner's constituents were outraged, and he was forced to make a premature evacuation of his congressional seat.
You'd think that a chap in that situation would find a paying job and get on with life. Since Weiner has no marketable skills, I understand that might be difficult; but hey, there are trade schools. He could turn himself into an electrician or a software developer.
No, no; the political life is too sweet, and way too well remunerated. Weiner's wife has been in the retinue of the Clintons for most of her working life, and you don't spend that much time around that much money without doing pretty well yourself. The couple have an apartment on Park Avenue South and according to the New York Times breakfast regularly at the Gramercy Park Hotel, which — trust me — is not a soup kitchen. American politics nowadays is a road to stupendous wealth. Electrician? That's for losers.
So Weiner's running for Mayor of New York, election to be held this November. He's in there with a chance, too. The rest of the Democratic field, as Radio Derb reported last June, includes nobody who could find his rear end with both hands, a mirror, and a GPS locator.
I can't think of anything that would more improve the political health of this Republic than a nationwide drive to get money out of politics. It must be doable; we used to do it. When Harry Truman left the presidency he had to take out a loan to write his memoirs. Nowadays sociopaths like Weiner and third-level kiss-up artists like his wife can get rich beyond the dreams of avarice in the political arena.
I'd offer term limits as a starting proposal, but that will get you hollow laughs from New Yorkers. We had a term limit rule for the mayoral position that Weiner's going to run for. Four years ago Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided he'd ignore that rule, and he got the local pols to waive it for him. Probably that would happen a lot under any system of term limits you could prescribe.
If you've read The Golden Bough you'll remember that people in the ancient world used to elect themselves a king for one year, then ritually kill him at the end of his term. The more I think about it, the better that sounds.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: The American Renaissance conference in Tennessee was covered by the local TV station, who did not fail to tell their viewers that American Renaissance is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a "hate group."
This is very shoddy journalism. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a dubious racket dedicated mainly to eradicating poverty among its executives — none of whom, by the way, in all the 42 years the SPLC has been in existence, has ever been black.
Here are the compensation packages for the SPLC's top executives, from their IRS Form 990, rounded to the nearest thousand. Richard Cohen, President: $341,000. Morris Dees, Chief Trial Counsel: $345,0000. Joseph Levin, General Counsel: $185,000. Mary Bauer, Legal Director: $169,000. You get the idea.
CharityWatch, which grades charities and nonprofits on their effectiveness, has for years been giving the SPLC an F rating. There have been periodic exposées of this scam — there was another one in The Weekly Standard last week — but the money keeps rolling in: $40 million last year. The SPLC has unspent assets of $256 million. There's a lot of money to be made in the poverty business.
These are the racketeers that our mainstream media have decided are the authority on who is or is not a "hate group." Whatever happened to honest journalism?
Item: The campaign of slander against the noble republic of Turkmenistan continues, financed no doubt by enemies of that nation's revered leader and close friend of Radio Derb, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
Thus the March 29th issue of the Christian Science Monitor ran a scurrilous article headlined Least Visited Countries in the World by someone named Ryan Lenora Brown, undoubtedly a running dog of the traitorous anti-Berdymukhamedov clique.
Ms. Brown, if that is really her name, runs down a list of places nobody ever goes to. There is, for example, the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru, eight square miles of guano, which is to say compacted seagull poop, in the middle of nowhere. Nauru had just 200 visitors last year, and it's not hard to understand why.
Then there's Somalia, still an extremely dangerous place to visit in spite of Mrs. Clinton's heroic efforts, no doubt with Mrs. Weiner's assistance, to transfer the entire population of the place to Minnesota.
And then, at number 7 on Ms. Brown's list, is Turkmenistan, where, quote: "Visitors who brave the onerous Soviet-esque visa application process are rewarded with sights like a 50-foot golden statue of former dictator Saparmurat Niyazov in the capital Ashgabat, which rotates throughout the day to face the sun." End quote. No mention of Turkmenistan's fine restaurants, museums, and art galleries. Nothing about the capital city's magnificent zoo, which contains the only specimen in captivity of the Caspian leaping turtle. Not a word about the strange, melancholy ruins of Buggerabad, whose medieval population was wiped out by Genghis Khan after one of them broke wind in his presence. This piece is a travesty.
I have forwarded the name of Ryan Lenora Brown to President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in Ashgabat. He will know what to do!
Item: Finally, just scraping the barrel here: A group of Stanford University scientists have found a way to make a mouse brain completely transparent by infusing it with certain chemicals. When the process is complete, you can see right through the mouse's brain. There's a Joe Biden joke there somewhere, but let's press on. Also in science news, a scientist in Iran claims to have invented a time machine. Don't they already have one? It's called Islam — takes you right back to the seventh century. Last but not least, a schoolteacher in England has been suspended for force-feeding a seven-year-old student with custard.
09 — Signoff. And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: another week of chaos, catastrophe, curtilage, and custard.
Having just spent a week in the capital of country music, I'd be remiss not to play a snippet from that genre to see us out. Here's one of my personal favorites: Barbara Mandrell, here singing "There's No Love in Tennessee." As a matter of fact, as I can testify, and as Barbara actually tells us in the song, there's a lot of love in Tennessee, just not the kind she's looking for.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: From Barbara Mandrell singing "There's No Love in Tennessee."]