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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your mesmerically genial host John Derbyshire with news of the passing charivari, brought to you from Taki Magazine's listening post here in the warm Aegean Sea.
I have just flown in from the States, for reasons to be explained later, and my arms are really tired; so without further ado, let's see what's been happening these few days.
02 — Another scary-looking Janet. Barack Obama has continued the fine old American tradition of appointing scary-looking older women named Janet to key positions in the federal apparatus.
Remember Janet Reno? She used to wrestle alligators, remember? And you wouldn't want to be one of those alligators. When Janet Reno's face came up on my TV I always had to restrain a powerful urge to dive behind the sofa.
Then there's Janet Napolitano, our motorbike-riding, golf-playing, crop-haired, gruff-voiced Secretary for Homeland Security, known to us political insiders as Jan Diesel. A friend of mine once remarked that we don't need a fence along the southern border; just a life-sized figure of Jan Diesel every 200 yards would keep everyone out.
Here comes another scary-looking Janet: Janet Yellen, whom President Obama has announced he'll appoint to be chairman — chairlady, chairgal, whatever — of the Federal Reserve, replacing Ben Bernanke, who's coming to the end of his second four-year term. Ms Yellen is currently a vice-chairman … chairlady, chairgal.
Ms Yellen's chief rival for the job, according to the New York Times, was Larry Summers. When it was known that Summers was a likely choice, though — and here I confess I'm reading between the lines of the New York Times report — the feminist lobbies raised the pressure on Obama, and we know how well he copes with pressure of that kind.
Here for example was Nancy Pelosi talking to Bloomberg Television on July 25th, quote:
It would be great to have a woman, the first woman chairman of the Fed, no question about it. She's extremely talented. It's not just that she's a woman.
No, of course not. Who would ever have thought so?
It was left to the unembarrassable Steve Sailer to point out the other diversity aspect here. Quote from him, quote:
If either Summers or Yellen gets the post, then the 98 percent gentile majority of America won't have held the Fed Chairman's post from 1987 through 2018.
As Steve says, though, this is so unmentionable we should forget he mentioned it, so I will.
We could do worse than Ms Yellen. Here's a quote from her in June 2007, over a year before the subprime crisis blew up, and at a point in time where all the wise and good, including then-Fed Chairman Bernanke, were pooh-poohing the notion of a mortgage crisis. Quote:
I feel the presence of a 600-pound gorilla in the room, and that is the housing sector. The risk for further significant deterioration, with house prices falling and mortgage delinquencies rising, causes me appreciable angst.
So, a smart lady. As I said, we could do worse.
Running the Fed used to be pretty straightforward. When there was full employment and low inflation, you hung out at the country club and played golf. If unemployment got high enough to worry the politicians, you lowered interest rates and speeded up the money presses. With easy credit and lots of cash floating around, people bought stuff and the factories got humming and hiring more people and everything would be tickety-boo for a while and you could go back to the golf course.
Globalization and automation have made things more complicated and that stuff doesn't work so well any more. We've had high unemployment and super-low interest rates for years now, and nothing much seems to be moving.
Some economists think they see long-term trends that are killing off all the old economics models and sailing us into new waters, like the society predicted in Tyler Cowen's new book Average Is Over, a society where the average middle-class wage earner is an endangered species.
I suspect something like that is indeed happening. I hope Janet Yellen is smart enough to steer us through it. Good luck, Ma'am.
03 — Bikers go wild, smash stereotypes. Just when you've got all your stereotypes in a row, something comes along to scatter them. Don't you hate when that happens?
Take biker gangs, for example. We all know who biker gangs are made of: Snaggle-toothed white prole guys from the trailer parks, with pony tails and tattoos. As for biker women … well, let's just say that if you've met a few, the biker guy's strong emotional attachment to his machine is easier to fathom.
This story out of New York City is therefore totally disorienting. What happened was, on Sunday, September 29th a young chap named Alexian Lien, apparently of Chinese ancestry, was taking his wife and their two-year-old daughter out for a drive in the family Range Rover SUV. They were heading north on the expressway up the West Side of Manhattan Island, approaching the spindly bit at the top of the island, when they encountered a gang of bikers going the same way.
One of the bikers pulled in front of the SUV and braked, forcing the SUV to brake. All the bikers stopped and there was a confrontation. Bikers slashed Mr Lien's tires and dented the SUV's bodywork with their helmets. Mr Lian panicked and gunned the engine, knocking down and running over one of the bikers, who was badly hurt. The bikers chased him up the expressway for fifty blocks, but Mr Lien's tires were in such bad shape he had to pull off into city streets.
There he got stuck in traffic. The bikers surrounded his vehicle, smashed the windows, dragged Mr Lien out, and beat and slashed him right there in the road, in front of his wife and child.
The whole thing was filmed by one of the bikers, who was wearing a helmet-mounted camera. There was further video from a security camera at a gas station where the bikers gathered afterwards.
All right, that's the story. It's been all over the New York tabloids for the two weeks since it happened. When I first noticed it I thought: "Wow, bikers in New York City — who knew?" Here's where the stereotype-busting started.
Nope, bikers aren't just a phenomenon in states with straight-line borders or names beginning with "I." Turns out that New York City has been plagued by them for at least seven years, but cops have been mostly hands-off so long as they're doing nothing worse than disrupting traffic flows, as they fear bystanders might get hurt.
And then, these bikers were multiracial, in fact mostly black and brown. Christopher Cruz, who did the original braking stunt, is a Hispanic mulatto — I guess Puerto Rican or Dominican. That stunt, by the way, is apparently S.O.P. for these biker gangs, who are always on the lookout for an opportunity to scam some insurance money, or intimidate a driver into just paying them off right on the street.
The guy who organizes these group rides through the city and maintains the websites that chronicle them, is named Jamie Lao, L-A-O, which I thought might be an East Asian name when I first saw it in print. New York magazine ran a filmed interview with Mr Lao, though, and he's Hispanic, too. So far the only one of the dramatis personae who's East Asian is Mr Lien, the SUV driver.
The biker who got run over and hurt — possibly paralyzed — is Edwin Mieses, another black Hispanic. Reginald Chance, who smashed in the driver-side window with his helmet, is plain black. So is Craig Wright, who punched Mr Lien through the broken window and then helped stomp him on the street. So is Robert Sims, who stomped Mr Lien's head and body as he lay on the street.
So, a bunch of unruly "teens," then? No: Here went another stereotype. Christopher Cruz is 28. Edwin Mieses, the injured biker, is 32. Reginald Chance, who smashed the window, is 37 — older than Mr Lien, who is 33. Robert Sims is 35. Craig Wright is 29.
All right, it's not exactly like Monty Python's Hell's Grannies, but it sure isn't "teens."
On the other hand, this wasn't a bunch of accountants and stockbrokers letting off a little weekend steam. Edwin Mieses is from Massachusetts, but he hasn't held a valid driver's license from that state for 14 years. In June this year state authorities named him a habitual offender and his right to drive in the state at all was revoked until 2017. There's no trace of him ever having held a motorbike license.
Reginald Chance, the window-smasher, has a rap sheet going back to 1994, with arrests for armed robbery, weapons possession, drug possession and drug sales — 21 busts altogether. Robert Sims likewise, with busts going back to 1998 for car theft, gun and drug offenses, and, er, possession of a samurai sword — I confess I didn't know that was a criminal offense. Craig Wright seems to be a gentler soul; his priors are for reckless driving, driving without a license, and failing to appear in court in January on a traffic violation.
This particular gang stretched the diversity even further. It turns out that at least three of the bikers, possibly as many as five, were New York City cops. This confirms the suspicion held by some of the more cynical among us that there's a small but definite overlap between law enforcement officers and the criminal classes.
A certain proportion of cops identify more closely with the daredevil types they're supposed to be chasing down than with the dull, law-abiding drones they're supposed to be protecting. That's probably inevitable in law enforcement, and the managers of a good, well-disciplined police force can only hope to keep the proportion down at a minimum, and come down hard on the ones that come to light.
That's what's happening with the biker cops. The biker seen on video smashing Mr. Lien's rear window with his gloved fist has been identified as Wojciech Braszczok, a ten-year veteran on the city force who works undercover narcotics. Wojciech Braszczok … another Puerto Rican? I'm guessing not. Anyway, Officer Braszczok is getting the book thrown at him. He was arraigned this week on felony gang assault charges that carry a 25-year maximum sentence.
So being in a biker gang isn't just for white provincial lowlifes, it's for diverse urban lowlifes too. I didn't know that before this week, and I bet you didn't either.
04 — John Lindsay returns to New York City. That all happened in New York City, which has a mayoral election coming up in November. Way out in the lead is a chap named Bill de Blasio. Since he's likely to be the next Mayor, let's take a look at how that will affect law enforcement.
Those biker cops notwithstanding, under the current Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who's been running the New York Police Department since 2002, New York's had one of the cleanest city police forces. It's sure been a lot cleaner than it was in the late 1960s, when the general situation was the one quite accurately portrayed in the 1973 Al Pacino movie Serpico.
New York is also a lot safer in recent years. Rudy Giuliani, who became Mayor in 1994, instituted aggressive and systematic policing, and city crime rates dropped like a stone. They've gone on dropping ever since, current Mayor Michael Bloomberg having maintained Giuliani's law enforcement policies. Major crime in New York is now at all-time lows. This year's homicide numbers are down at levels not seen since the 1950s.
Unfortunately aggressive policing in a big American city mostly means being aggressive towards blacks and Hispanics, because they commit most of the crime. Blacks alone committed 80 percent of all shootings in New York city in 2011, nearly 70 percent of all robberies and 66 percent of all violent crime, though they're only 23 percent of the city's population. Whites, who are 35 percent of New York's population, committed a little over one percent of all shootings, less than five percent of all robberies, and five percent of violent crime overall in 2011. That's according to crime reports filed with the NYPD by victims and witnesses, usually minorities themselves. So where are police supposed to concentrate resources?
That means, though, that if you're a race hustler, or a liberal who takes the race hustlers seriously, there is much not to like about New York City's current law enforcement regime.
That's where Bill de Blasio comes in … and likely, on current polling, will come in as Mayor next January. He's liberal, very liberal. Even by New York City standards, the guy is liberal. He's off-the-charts liberal. He took his honeymoon in Cuba, for crying out loud.
To call Bill de Blasio liberal is like calling Mao Tse-tung an "agrarian reformer" … which, come to think of it, is what a previous generation of liberals did call Mao Tse-tung. Try again: it's like calling Generalissimo Francisco Franco a conservative. It's like calling Charlie Sheen a fun-loving guy. It's like calling me politically incorrect. You get the idea.
So what will the New York Police Department look like under Mayor de Blasio? He's already told us he will dump Ray Kelly and get a new police commissioner. The race hustlers — characters like State Senator Eric Adams, who showed up in the Senate chamber in a hoodie earlier this year to honor Trayvon Martin — these guys hate Ray Kelly, so de Blasio hates him right along with them.
So what will the department then look like? Let me connect the dots for you. I mentioned the movie Serpico a minute ago. It concerns the very corrupt and dysfunctional New York City Police Department of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Who was the Mayor at that time? A chap named John Lindsay. So where was Lindsay politically? He was liberal, dear listener — very, very liberal. Just like Bill de Blasio!
05 — Microaggression of the week. Microaggression of the week. Here's a British chap of my generation: Alan Sugar, a consumer-electronics billionaire over there, prominent on British TV recently as star of The Apprentice, a knockoff of the stateside Donald Trump show, with Sugar in the role of Trump.
Mr Sugar was elevated to the House of Lords by the last Labour government for being British socialism's entrepreneurial beard … or perhaps I should say "sweetener." He should therefore be referred to as Lord Sugar, even though that makes him sound like a 1950s R&B singer.
Lord Sugar, very much like your humble host here, is a working-class English lad raised in the halcyon age before Political Correctness settled on those islands like a blanket of poisonous fog.
Hence the microaggression. On September 30th his lordship tweeted that photograph you've probably seen of three little Chinese tots wearing outfits made from watermelon rind. The outside tots look happy enough, but the one in the middle is scrunching up his face to cry. Lord Sugar added the caption:
The kid in the middle is upset because he was told off for leaving the production line of the iPhone 5.
That upset a lady, name of Nichola Szeto, who runs a health-food shop in Liverpool, and whose spouse is Chinese. She posted a complaint to a police website, saying inter alia, quote: "I thought racism was illegal." Well, not quite yet it isn't, Ma'am, but stick around.
The truly astonishing thing about this story is not that there are humorless nitwits like Ms Szeto in the world — we all knew that — but that the police followed up the complaint with great perseverance, calling Ms Szeto twice, eventually getting her to come into the station house, where she spent an hour giving a statement to two officers.
An hour. Then — quote from the newspaper report here — officers from the police Hate Crime Investigation Unit took several days to decide whether Lord Sugar had committed a crime.
We must assume that during those several days there were no instances of homicide, rape, assault, mugging, burglary, or public urination in Liverpool requiring police attention.
Lord Sugar seems to be off the hook for hate crime, which must be a relief to him. We should all be relieved that the tots in that photograph, dressed up in watermelon rinds, were Chinese and not black. We'd never have heard the last of that.
06 — Errata: Is Arizona in New Mexico? As promised last week, Radio Derb is going to run an occasional errata segment, in which I shall offer either a snivelling apology or an indignant denial of errors I am alleged to have made in previous broadcasts or columns. Here's this week's erratum.
Following my assertion in my September 26th TakiMag column that the American Civil War was, quote, "fought as far west as New Mexico," a mighty host of readers emailed in to tell me that the Civil War was fought even further West than that — in Tucson, Arizona.
Well, maybe, but this comes down to terminology. The 1862 Battle of Picacho Pass sure enough took place 50 miles northwest of Tucson, in what is now Arizona. Was it Arizona then, though? It depends whom you ask.
There was no such state as Arizona until 1912. In 1862 Picacho Pass was officially — i.e. according to the federal government — in New Mexico Territory, which encompassed both modern-day New Mexico and Arizona. So from the Union point of view, the battle took place in New Mexico Territory.
The southern bit of the Territory, though, including Tucson and the battle site, had seceded in March 1861, between Texas and Virginia in order of secession. Later that year they declared themselves the Confederate Territory of Arizona. A Confederate administration was operating there at the time of the battle; so you might say that from the CSA point of view, the Battle of Picacho Pass was fought in Arizona. If you do, I won't try to stop you.
07 — Poetry Corner. I mentioned Bill de Blasio up there, the probable next Mayor of New York. That gives me an opportunity for a Poetry Corner.
De Blasio's wife Chirlane is black. It's not intrusive of me to mention this, as de Blasio has made a big point of featuring it in his campaign commercials. New Yorkers who know nothing else about de Blasio know that he has a black family — they've been all over local TV screens.
Well, Bill met Chirlane twenty years or so ago, and he fell for her. This week he vouchsafed to us one of the reasons he fell. It was the lady's poetry.
Fair enough. Robert Browning felt the same way about Elizabeth Barrett. But was there a particular poem that caught Bill's attention? There certainly was. It's a piece titled "I Used to Think," published in 1983 when the poetess was thirty. Bill called it, quote, "a very, very powerful poem."
Would you like to hear some of it? Of course you would. The whole thing is 71 lines, so I can only give you the first stanza. I think it's a stanza, anyway: Mrs de Blasio's verse is of the kind that makes it hard to tell. Don't be listening for any meter or rhyme: there isn't any. That's Ice People stuff!
Ready? Here goes:
I used to think
OK. I think you've got the main idea there. As Bill de Blasio helpfully explains, quote:
It's about the way she perceived herself growing up as a young African-American girl in a racist society.
What else would she write about? Weren't Elizabeth Barrett's poems all about being a chronic invalid with a control-freak father? Of course they were.
I have unearthed several more of Mrs de Blasio's poems. It's far too much material to read over the air, but fortunately I have written a little app that takes as input any quantity of verse, condenses it down to its essential meanings, and sets the result to music. Here is what I got when I fed Mrs de Blasio's œuvre through my app.
[Clip: "I'm black, y'all, blackety-black black black …"]
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: The OECD, that's an organization of advanced countries, tested sample groups of all ages from 23 of those countries for skills in basic literacy, basic numeracy, and something called "problem-solving in technology-rich environments," which seems to mean using spreadsheets and such.
Results: Japan came first and Finland came second in average scores, with the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway close behind. Spain, Italy and France were at the bottom in literacy and numeracy, but weren't included in the technology test.
So among advanced countries, the ones most literate and numerate are East Asian or north European. What. A. Surprise.
The United States ranked near the middle in literacy and near the bottom in skill with numbers and technology. We also showed an interesting bimodal distribution, with more low scorers, more high scorers, and fewer in the middle than other countries. We also did better than average in the 55 to 65-year-old category, less well in the younger age groups. Go geezers!
Item: Following the attack on that mall in Kenya, Special Operations teams from our military went ashore last weekend in Libya and Somalia to grab terrorist leaders. We got one in Libya, but the SEAL team in Somalia had to withdraw under fire.
As military operations go, one out of two ain't bad, and I congratulate our guys on these bold missions. When the Twin Towers were burning on the morning of September 11th, 2001, National Review called me for 800 words on what was happening. Here are some of those words I wrote, quote:
This will not be a matter of great troop movements, of trenches and fleets and squadrons and massed charges. This will be small teams of inconceivably brave men and women, working in strange places, unknown and unacknowledged.
That's how it should have been from the beginning; that's how it is now at last.
Item: Finally, I've done a couple of columns at VDARE.com on nationalist movements in Europe. Well, here's a report from France that Marine Le Pen's National Front party is now polling first ahead of elections to the European Parliament next year.
In last year's presidential election François Hollande's Socialists and Nicolas Sarkozy's center-right party got 29 and 27 percent of the vote, the National Front only 18 percent. In this poll the numbers are 19 and 22 for Hollande and Sarkozy, 24 percent for National Front. Most encouraging.
Who knows? — perhaps one day the U.S.A. will have a party committed to our national sovereignty, cultural assimilation, scaled-back immigration, and sharing of international security — that is, to putting the interests of our own citizens first. That would be a great thing. I hope I live to see it. Perhaps Madame Le Pen will be an inspiration for our people.
09 — Signoff. So, what was I doing in the States this week? I was attending the opera, that's what.
Hardcore Derb fans will recall that my blockbuster novel Fire from the Sun closes with a performance of Bellini's opera Norma at the New York Met.
Well, that's exactly what I went over to see: a performance of Norma at the New York Met. It was wonderful. The lead soprano was Sondra Radvanovsky, who sounds exotic but is in fact a corn-fed midwestern gal. She gave us a splendid performance. The other singers were also first-rate, the sets were non-eccentric, and the orchestra was in tune. Most satisfying.
I am of course going to play a bit of Norma to see us out. Here's Norma in the finale of the opera, about to climb onto the funeral pyre with her bad-boy lover. The singer is the incomparable Montserrat Caballé.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Montserrat Caballé, "Qual cor tradisti"]