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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is back on the air! Yes, ladies and gents, this is your occidentally genial host John Derbyshire, tanned, rested and ready after a two-week vacation in the Far East.
I've posted some notes on the vacation in my monthly diary at VDARE.com. I'm sorry to say I paid very little attention to the news those two weeks; but I've been catching up as best I can.
"A week is a long time in politics," as a British Prime Minister observed. Two weeks is, by my calculations, twice as long, so it's been heavy slogging this past day and a half to put the podcast together. If I missed anything important, please be forgiving.
02 — Conventional wisdom. Most important, or at any rate most newsworthy, has been the climaxing of the party nomination processes in the conventions of our two big parties, the Party of the Little Guy and the Party of the Plutocrats.
Which party is which, is getting more and more difficult to figure out. Whatever: The Republicans met in Cleveland the first week of my vacation, the Democrats in Philadelphia the following week. Both conventions were rated successful by both partisans and opponents.
Neither actual nomination was a surprise. The Republicans nominated Donald Trump on the reasonable grounds that he had come first in a large field of primary contenders, against a mix of donorist sock-puppets, invade-the-world / invite-the-world neocons, and a chap whose main pitch to the electorate was that he likes Mexicans much more than he likes us.
The Democrats nominated somebody's wife as their candidate, promoting her as a plucky feminist and champion of independent womanhood, while from somewhere up above the late Lurleen Wallace could be heard quietly chuckling.
Both candidates, Donald Trump and somebody's wife, selected boring white guys as their running mates, reassuring those of us who have begun to worry that boring white guys might soon be placed on the U.N.'s Endangered Species list.
There were other common features to the two conventions. Both candidates brought out family members to offer testimonials to their character.
Both gave stage time to people at the receiving end of violence, some type of violence the candidate promises to address, and which the candidate's supporters find especially deplorable. In the case of Donald Trump, it was violence committed against our citizens by illegal alien intruders. In the case of somebody's wife, it was the shooting of black thugs by police officers the thugs were in process of assaulting.
More interesting and consequential, both conventions gave speaking time to parents of men killed abroad while in U.S. government service.
The parent who spoke at the Republican convention was Patricia Smith, whose son Sean was killed in the 2012 Benghazi fiasco. Sean, an eight-year Air Force veteran, was working as a systems analyst for the State Department, which at that time was under the direction of somebody's wife. Mrs Smith blamed somebody's wife for the blunders and carelessness that led to Sean's death, and further declared that somebody's wife had first lied to her and then called her, Mrs Smith, a liar.
Mrs Smith's speech so enraged liberals that one of them, a writer named Nathaniel Friedman at GQ magazine, tweeted that, quote:
I don't care how many children Pat Smith lost. I would like to beat her to death.
The Democrats did a similar thing in Cleveland the following Thursday, showcasing Mr and Mrs Khizr Khan, the parents of Army Captain Humayun Khan, who died in combat twelve years ago in Iraq.
The pitch here, delivered entirely by Mr Khan while his lady stood by silently wearing one of those head-covering thingies with an Arabic name I can never be bothered to remember, the pitch was that if Donald Trump's policy of stopping Muslim immigration to the U.S.A. had been in force 36 years ago, when the Khans immigrated, we'd have been deprived of a brave soldier.
I confess I don't quite see the logic here. If there'd been a ban on settlement by Brits thirty years ago, I'd be living in some other country, probably very contentedly — I'm an easily-contented guy. Why should anybody care? Is this a sovereign nation, or what? Can we admit or refuse immigrants according to our own preferences and needs, or not?
More to the point, if the Khans had indeed been unable to settle in the U.S.A., their son would presumably still be alive. Wouldn't that be, like, better for them? Not to mention, for him …
And if that Trumpish ban on Muslims had been in force in 1980, the U.S.A. would indeed have been deprived of the services of a brave soldier; but we should also have been deprived of the 9/11 terrorists and numerous other Muslim murderers. So net-net, a ban on Muslims looks like a good deal for Americans, doesn't it?
So far no writer at any conservative outlet has declared a wish to beat Mr Khan to death; but then, conservatives are nothing like as vindictive and bloodthirsty as progressives.
The Khan speech did, though, generate a sequel. Let's take a look at that.
03 — Dissing the feminist-wifebeater coalition. Mr Khan's speech was, as I said, delivered to the Democratic convention on Thursday, July 28th.
The following Sunday, the 31st, ABC News aired an interview Trump gave to lefty camp follower George Stephanopoulos. Asked to respond to Mr Khan's speech, Trump said this.
[Clip: I saw him. He was very emotional, and probably looked like a nice guy to me. His wife, if you look at his wife she was standing there, she had nothing to say. Probably, maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say, you tell me, but plenty of people have written that. She was extremely quiet and it looked like she had nothing to say, a lot of people have said that, and personally I watched him, I wish him the best of luck.]
The mainstream media folk, who of course poll around ninety percent Democrat, jumped all over that. It was, they said, shamefully disrespectful to the grieving parents of a fallen hero.
Was it? And what may or may not be said by public figures about the parents of a dead soldier?
Concerning Mr Khan, all Trump had said there was, he looked like a nice guy and Trump wished him the best of luck. I can't detect any disrespect in that.
So presumably the disrespect was towards Mrs Khan having nothing to say because, according to Trump, she probably wasn't allowed to.
My guess here is that Trump couldn't resist the temptation to point out a glaring fault line in the progressive coalition, which yokes aggressive feminists in harness with adherents of a religion that instructs a man to beat his wife when she displeases him. I'm sympathetic; I would have found the temptation irresistible, too.
I would have found it double irresistible after reading Paul Sperry's researches into Mr Khan's published paper trail. Turns out this Khan dude is a Muslim of the fundamentalist stripe, who thinks that sharia law — including the bits enjoining wife-beating — should take precedence over merely terrestrial fripperies like the U.S. Constitution. Sharia is, after all, the Word of God.
So were Trump's observations disrespectful? Technically, I guess they were; but under the circumstances this doesn't seem to me a very serious offense.
To the second part of my question: What may or may not be said by public figures about the parents of a dead soldier?
Concerning the dead soldier himself, of course, it's a no-brainer: Only praise and gratitude are appropriate for those who give their lives in the nation's service. I doubt anyone, Donald Trump or anyone else, disagrees with that.
That's not the question, though. What about the parents?
Here you can play some law-school tutorial games with hypotheticals. "Let me put you a case …" Suppose, for example, that the parents turn out to be ax murderers, who keep a boarding house so they can kill the lodgers, turn their corpses into dog food, and sell it at a profit. Would it be OK to speak ill of those parents?
And you can work your way down the scale of turpitude. What if they ran a crack den? What if they committed espionage for an unfriendly power? What if they evaded paying their taxes? What if they picked their noses in public?
At which point is it OK for a public figure to say something negative about parents of a hero when those parents have, after all, put themselves in the service of a political candidate?
I don't believe the Khans are ax murderers, proprietors of a crack den, or spies for North Korea. I don't think it's impertinent, though — given, as before, that they have willingly put themselves in the service of somebody's wife — I don't think it's impertinent to ask, who are they?
Mrs Khan seems to be only a housewife. Mr Khan is a lawyer. He got some sort of degree from a university in his native Pakistan, then moved to the United Arab Emirates, whence, in 1980, he immigrated to the U.S.A. at age 29 or 30. I'm sure you remember as vividly as I do the great lawyer shortage of 1980, when the U.S.A. was begging foreign countries to send us their lawyers as we were unable to graduate enough of our own.
Nowadays Mr Khan specializes in immigration law. His precise specialization is helping foreigners get investor visas, visa categories E-2 and EB-5. These visas basically allow you to buy a green card for permanent residency in the U.S.A. Quote from Jessica Vaughn at the Center for Immigration Studies, quote:
The E-2 and EB-5 are two of the most notoriously abused visa categories that essentially allow wealthy foreigners to buy their way to U.S. residency, and possibly citizenship, with a relatively modest investment.
Michelle Malkin and John Miano, in their 2015 book Sold Out, give over a whole scathing chapter, Chapter Seven, to the EB-5 program, in which, they say, quote, "Fraud and abuse are rampant."
So if, as Mr Khan hypothesized to cheering delegates in Philadelphia last week, if a Trump-style ban on Muslim entry had been in force in 1980, not only would Mr Khan's son likely still be alive, but the United States would have one less huckster attorney making a fine living by gaming our Byzantine immigration laws on behalf of rich foreigners.
That ban is looking better and better to me.
04 — The immigration black hole. It's odd, in fact, how many political stories end up in that same zone, the zone of our irrational, chaotic, and corrupt immigration system.
That system is like a astronomical black hole, with a gravitational force that sucks in any story that gets too close.
You wouldn't think it's so difficult to have a sensible, straightforward system that meets national needs: that has a small number of clearly-defined categories for who gets to settle permanently in our country, along with some entry, exit, and tracking systems for temporary visitors: tourists, businessmen, academics, students, foreign-language interpreters, exceptional musical performers, and so on.
You wouldn't think it's so difficult: no more difficult, surely, than running a commercial credit-card operation like MasterCard or American Express. But apparently we're not up to it.
I don't see much hope for fundamental reform in this area. It would be great to scrap the current mess and start from scratch. It's Congress that makes laws, though, including immigration laws. By the time the lobbyists had got through with wining and dining the congresscritters, any new system of immigration law they passed would be as crazily convoluted and open to abuse as the system we've got.
What we can reasonably hope for is that Donald Trump, if elected, will at least instruct the executive branch rigorously to enforce the laws we currently have — a thing none of our previous three Presidents have been inclined to do, and none of the other candidates on offer this election cycle looked seriously interested in doing.
We've had a neat illustration of my black hole theory the past few days: the story about Melania Trump's nude modeling photo shoots. This deserves a segment to itself.
05 — Naked hypocrisy. Early this week the New York Post, America's Newspaper of Record, published photographs of Mrs Trump nude, photographs taken in 1995 when she was a professional model. This was three years before she met The Donald.
The photographs don't leave much to the imagination. What they mainly do leave to the imagination is the lady's nipples, which the Post delicately covers with stars — five-pointed stars, be it noted. No antisemitic dog whistling from the New York Post!
Leaving aside the issue of whether we mind having a First Lady who's allowed herself to be photographed in her birthday suit — personally, I couldn't care less — a little spinoff issue emerged from the publication of these pictures.
Biographical information Melania had given to the press — in her interview with GQ magazine in April this year, for example — had her coming to the U.S. with the help of a modeling agent who had, quote from that interview, "brokered her visa." What kind of visa was it, though?
In a January interview for a different magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Melania spoke about how when she was here in the mid-1990s she'd had to return home from New York to renew her visa every few months. Quote:
You follow the rules. You follow the law. Every few months you need to fly back to Europe and stamp your visa.
But there isn't actually any kind of work visa for which you have to do that. You would have to do it for a B visa, a visitor's visa; but on a B visa you're not allowed to take paid employment.
In Chapter Six of the aforementioned book Sold Out by Michelle Malkin and John Miano, we read about a common racket to get around the restrictions on working with a B visa. Basically you enter the U.S. on one of these visitor visas, take up employment, but are paid in some foreign jurisdiction. This scam allows your employer in that foreign jurisdiction to, quote from Sold Out:
avoid the hassle of petitioning for H-1B workers; avoid numerical limitations on H-1B workers; and avoid the (nominally enforced) requirements that a job be posted in the U.S. and have pay comparable to that of a U.S. worker. This also guarantees that not one dime of tax revenue … will go to U.S. coffers.
Was that the "brokering" that Melania's modeling agent did for her in 1995? Either it was or it wasn't.
If it was, I don't see the harm in owning up to it. It's highly unlikely Melania knew there was anything irregular about the arrangement (to which, in any case, according to Malkin and Miano, the State Department regularly turns a blind eye). The person who would have known was the agent. From Melania's point of view it was just tiresome paperwork, some kind of legalistic gobbledygook she had to go through to get from one country to another.
If this wasn't the deal — if Melania's immigration status pre-Trump was all strictly by the book — there is no issue.
Either way Mrs Trump can clear the matter up by doing what I did a few months ago: scan in the visa pages from her passport and put them on the internet.
See what I mean, though? Everything seems to end up in the immigration ditch. Our immigration system is the rotten core, the suppurating center, of all the corruption and chicanery afflicting our public life.
In the large scheme of things, of course, this matter of Melania's status is a trivial issue. It's not even the candidate we're talking about, it's his wife, in the years before he knew her. And as I've said, if Melania's agent really did bring her over on the B-visa boondoggle, it's highly unlikely she knew she was doing anything improper.
The Democrat strategists and their stooges in the mainstream media are going to make as big a thing of it as they can, though.
That is of course nakedly hypocritical, if you'll pardon the adverb. These are people who don't think there should be immigration rules; that totally illegal immigrants, who came in without bothering to get any kind of visa, should be forgiven and awarded full settlement rights.
Rank hypocrisy on the part of the Democrats, yes; but d'you think that'll stop them?
We immigration patriots are looking to Donald Trump as our one hope for getting some sanity back into our country's immigration system. Anything that makes it harder for him to do that is a negative. I hope he'll sort this one out.
06 — Doing the Muslim thing. While Mr Khan was angrily denouncing Trump's Muslim ban and progressives were sputtering and swooning all over again at the effrontery of it, Muslims continued to do their Muslim thing.
The first day I was away a 17-year-old Afghan male went on an ax rampage aboard a German commuter train, injuring four people while yelling "Allahu akbar!" Police shot him dead.
Four days later, also in Germany, a young Iranian opened fire on a shopping center, killing nine people and wounding 21. Some of the dead were children who'd been eating at a McDonald's in the center. By a remarkable coincidence, this perp also accompanied his deed with cries of "Allahu akbar!" He shot himself as cops closed in.
Another four days, another country. July 26th, two jihadis murdered an 85-year-old priest celebrating mass at his church in Normandy, France. One congregant escaped and alerted police, who shot the jihadis dead as they came out of the church. One jihadi, it turned out, had done prison time for trying to join ISIS in Syria, but a sympathetic judge had freed him on condition he wear an electronic ankle bracelet monitor. He was wearing it when he cut the priest's throat.
Forward to Wednesday, August 3rd. A 19-year-old Somali man went berserk in London's Russell Square, close by my alma mater, and hacked to death 64-year-old Darlene Horton, an American visitor. Whether this counts as terrorism, I'm not sure. As I told you five years ago, though, Somalis and mayhem go together like beans and rice. Anything negative you can say about Muslim immigration in general you can say squared and cubed for Somali immigration.
Yet still it goes on, Muslims pouring into our countries by the tens and hundreds of thousands. Why? They have countries of their own, where surely they'll be more at ease. What is the advantage to us, the people of the West, in admitting such numbers of people with values utterly different from our own? If there is any advantage, does it outweigh all the mayhem, the fear, the surveillance and security?
Do I have misgivings about Donald Trump? Yes, a few. He is, however, the only person in our public life — the only significant politician ever — to speak openly and honestly about this, and to say frankly what needs to be done.
For that, just for that, Trump's got my vote — signed, sealed, and ready for delivery.
07 — Trump against the media headwind. Before the anti-Trump media were hyperventilating about Trump's disrespect to immigration racketeer Khizr Khan and his missus, they were gasping and sputtering over comments he made about the Democratic nominee's missing emails.
"Russia, if you are listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," said The Donald, referring to the material somebody's wife failed to turn over to the State Department when she left. "I think you would probably be rewarded mightily by our press," he added.
Here Trump was just recycling a joke that's been going around on the blogs ever since the scandal of the missing emails came into the open. If investigators want those emails, people were saying, the easiest way to get them would be to ask Vladimir Putin, who probably has them all archived somewhere, courtesy of his hackers.
Whether our press would thank Mr Putin for releasing the emails is, though, open to serious question. Our journalists want somebody's wife to win this coming Presidential election, and wouldn't be happy to see her thus embarrassed.
You can see the bias from how they reported Trump's joke. Sample, this one from Vanity Fair, July 27th, quote: "Trump calls on a foreign power to commit an act of cyber-espionage," end quote.
In fact Trump, along with everyone else who's paying attention, assumed the act of espionage had already taken place, an assumption fortified by the leak four days earlier, almost certainly via the Russians, of internal emails from the Democratic National Committee. He was just saying that since they've got the emails, why don't they share them?
That's the media headwind the GOP campaign is leaning into, though. It's like this every election cycle; but I think it's worse this time around because of the intensity with which the media folk dislike Trump.
Same thing with the previous mini-scandal over Melania, in her speech to the Cleveland convention, having plagiarized from Michelle Obama's 2008 speech to that convention.
What seems to have happened was that a writer on the Trump staff, name of Meredith McIver, cobbled up Melania's speech from bits and pieces of prose Melania told her she liked, including Michelle Obama's 2008 address, and failed to rephrase and polish them as she should have. Ms McIver fessed up and offered to resign, but Trump, to his credit, wouldn't let her.
My reaction to this little flap was the same as Dorothy Parker's when she heard that Calvin Coolidge was dead, quote: "How could they tell?" Testimonials to a candidate's character offered by a spouse at a party convention are only slightly less formulaic than multiplication tables. They all say the same thing, basically. There could just be one stock speech, given by every candidate's spouse at every convention, like a liturgy. After a few election cycles we'd all get to know the words. We could chant along with the spouse. Hey, it'd be fun!
Again, though, the press hissed and frothed. Sample, this from the Des Moines Register, July 19th, quote:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, still desperately angling for a job with Donald Trump, argued that "93 percent" of the two speeches [that is, Michelle Obama's and Melania Trump's] are completely different. That's a bit like defending a bank robber for leaving 93 percent of the money in the safe.
Hoo-kay: plagiarism, bank robbery — got it.
This is what Trump — both Trumps — this is what they're up against. The Democrats and their media shills want two more progressive judges on the Supreme Court — one for the late Justice Scalia's empty seat, one for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's upcoming retirement.
They also want to open wider the floodgates of mass immigration, to change completely and for ever the ethnic balance of our nation, to their advantage.
To these ends, everything is fair.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: I'm just going to back off a wee bit from something I said in the last segment there. Character testimonials from spouses do sometimes wander from the formula for a minute or two.
The actual husband of somebody's wife showed up at the Philadelphia convention to offer us his testimonial to her character. The husband's speech included this passage, quote:
On February 27th, 1980, 15 minutes after I got home from the National Governors Conference in Washington, Hillary's water broke and off we went to the hospital. Chelsea was born just before midnight.
Now look: I'm all for humanizing the candidates, but this is getting out of hand. We've had The Donald boasting about the size of his package, and now we have to hear about the other candidate's water breaking. What's next: their morning bathroom schedules?
Could we just dial down the biology, please? Thanks.
Item: I'm sure listeners recall the shooting of police officers in Dallas July 7th. A young black man, Micah Xavier Johnson, killed five officers and wounded nine more before himself being terminated with extreme prejudice by a remote-controlled robot bomb.
Johnson had explicitly stated that he wanted to kill white people, white cops for preference.
A newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee, the Commercial Appeal, ran a news story about the shooting under the headline Gunman Targeted Whites. The headline was of course accurate. We had heard from Johnson himself that he did indeed target whites.
However, the headline came to the attention of local Black Lives Matter activists, who were not pleased. They staged a protest outside the newspaper's offices in downtown Memphis.
The paper's editor and its president, both white men, did a full grovel. The president — a man, or something bearing a physical resemblance to a man, named George Cogswell — whimpered that the headline, quote, "although not inaccurate, was very insensitive to the movement and we recognized that quickly," end whimper.
The editor groveled at greater length, posting an editorial headed We Got It Wrong. Sample quote, for which you might want to have the barf bag ready to hand, quote:
That front page minimized the broader refrain of what's happening in our country with anguish over the deaths of young black men at the hands of police. It has been viewed as suggesting that this newspaper values the lives of white police officers more than young black men who have died in incident after incident.
The broader refrain of what's happening in our country, it seems to me, is that the people who should be taking the lead in standing up to totalitarian thugs and putting true facts out into the public forum — people like newspaper editors — these people are the very ones most eager to appease the thugs and promote their lies.
Item: Finally, congratulations to skydiver Luke Aikins of Simi Valley, Calif., 42 years old, who on July 30th jumped out of an airplane at 25,000 feet with no parachute and lived to tell the tale.
Mr Aikins did the stunt for a Fox TV special. The secret to his survival was a large net, 100 feet by 100, that he landed in after two minutes in free fall. The trick was of course to hit the net. This involved very careful timing on leaving the plane, and some skilful maneuvering on the way down.
Steve Sailer commented at his blog, quote: "Of course he's white. Successful insane stunts are 99 percent white, 1 percent Japanese." End quote.
This is not the first time a person has deliberately jumped out of a plane without a parachute. Thirty or so years ago an Englishmen did it by pre-arrangement with a friend who jumped just before him. This friend was wearing a parachute and carrying a spare. Our daredevil followed the friend down, grabbed the spare as he passed him, buckled on the chute, pulled the rip cord, and landed safely. If I remember right, he was then banned from skydiving because of his stunt.
As Steve says: It's a white thing, you wouldn't understand.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; and thank you for your patience while the Mrs and I frolicked in distant parts.
If you don't mind, I'd just like to give a shout-out to the folks at Eva Air, the Taiwanese airline that got us to the Far East and back with great efficiency.
Monday this week we were in Hong Kong, packing to fly back to the States the following day. The schedule was, an hour and a half flight to Taipei, then the nonstop fourteen-hour haul from Taipei to New York.
Except that Hong Kong took a direct hit from Typhoon Nida on Monday, and the city, including the airport, was under total lockdown until midday Tuesday. When they lifted the lockdown there were three hundred planes backed up on the tarmac in Hong Kong, with corresponding chaos in the departure areas, and we were wondering when we'd ever see our home again.
Somehow the Eva staff got us out of there in time for the connection in Taipei. I still don't know how they pulled it off; but I do know they were working like crazy to make it happen.
So to the management at Eva Air, let me just say this: I don't know how much you pay the staff who were running your courtesy desk at Hong Kong airport Tuesday morning, but it's not enough! Give them all a raise! Many thanks to all those great people.
OK, we're back on the regular podcast schedule, and there will be more from Radio Derb next week. Take it away, Frank.
[Music clip: Frank Sinatra, "It's Nice To Go Trav'ling."]