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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your autumnally genial host John Derbyshire, here with a glance at the week's news.
This is one of those times when the humble commentator is oppressed by a sense of futility.
I am of course going to bring you reports of things that have happened in the past few days, with an emphasis on the Presidential campaign. The futility is, however, that all that's happened, and anything else that happens over the weekend, short of an invasion by extraterrestiral conquistadors, and anything I say about it, will be washed away beyond recall by the first Trump-Clinton debate on Monday and the tsunami of commentary that will follow it.
Duty calls, though; and we must ever, as Mr Dombey's sister would have told us, put forth an effort. Here then is your weekly ration, on the resigned understanding that you will have forgotten every word of it on Tuesday morning.
02 — Dealing with the wonk gap. A big point of interest in Monday night's debate will be seeing how Donald Trump deals with the wonk gap.
You know what I mean. Mrs Clinton's been reading policy papers since her teen years as a Goldwater Girl half a century ago. She's a policy wonk's policy wonk. She can tell you which clause in which bill, brought to the floor by which congresscritter in which month of which year, first banned the use of DDT in the manufacture of diapers.
Trump is an ignoramus by comparison. He's not much interested in policy details and his knowledge of the world is sketchy. He's going to have to bluster his way over that gap. Fortunately he's a world-class blusterer.
There's another thing working in his favor, though: Americans aren't much impressed by policy wonks in high-executive office. Probably the wonkiest President the country's had in my lifetime was Jimmy Carter, now seen in retrospect, by general agreement, as one of the worst Presidents ever.
Conversely, Presidents who show a flash of blithe ignorance, a glimpse of ankle unblemished by wonkiness, are generally liked for it. I doubt Barack Obama lost a single vote by telling us he couldn't speak "Austrian."
This is true of Anglo-Saxon peoples in general. We don't want our public affairs run by intellectuals whose heads are stuffed with facts. "I have lived seventy-eight years without hearing of bloody places like Cambodia," said Winston Churchill. At that point it was too late in Churchill's career for the remark to be electorally consequential; but if he'd made it forty years earlier, it would have got him several thousand votes, I'm sure.
I therefore wasn't very surprised to see the latest news about Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
Just to remind you: When he was asked on MSNBC September 8th what he would do about Aleppo, the candidate replied, quote: "What is Aleppo?"
I winced at that. I know what Aleppo is. I've read books about the Crusades, fiction and nonfiction. I've written about the Crusades myself. Gary Johnson's 63 years old, with a college degree in political science. He never read a book on the Crusades? Sheesh.
On reflection, though, that's unfair. I'm a bookish, intellectual type. I hope you like the podcast, but trust me, you wouldn't want me as President. Heck, I wouldn't want me as President. Press Secretary, speechwriter, … sure, and I am available, Mr Trump, I can be reached via VDARE.com; but Chief Executive? No way. Totally the wrong personality.
According to Gary Johnson, his supporters agree with me. Wednesday this week Johnson told Bloomberg Politics that not only did the Aleppo gaffe not hurt his campaign fundraising, it actually helped it:
[Clip: This month, our biggest fundraising day was Aleppo Day, followed by … a bigger fundraising day, which was the day after Aleppo …]
Personally I wouldn't vote for Gary Johnson in a million years, just because he's for open borders. On some other topics, though, he's quite sound. Foreign entanglements, for example: He's against them. It looks as though Johnson is not a follower of our own Steve Sailer, and so does not understand that if you invite the world, sooner or later you're going to have to invade the world.
That aversion to foreign entanglements is probably what accounts for Johnson's surprising level of support in our military. This we learned about in a poll published in the Military Times September 21st.
The poll, conducted this month, covered more than two thousand active-duty troops in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. Overall Trump is tied with Johnson at 37 percent each. Mrs Clinton trails badly, 16 percent.
If you break it down by enlisted men versus officers, Trump does better and Clinton worse among the enlisted; but vice versa among officers. Service-wise, Trump's strongest in the Marine Corps, actually over 50 percent. He's weakest in the Navy, less than 30 percent. Johnson goes the other way: weakest in the Marines, strongest in the Navy.
I'm not sure what to make of this. I have a young family member in the military. He's aggrieved at never having been deployed — that is, posted in some combat zone overseas. From what he says about life on base stateside, there's a big class division between guys who've been deployed and those who haven't. If you've never been deployed, guys who have can shove you off the sidewalk.
If that's right, if our service-members want to fight, why are they so keen on Gary Johnson, who wants us to stay out of fights — as, by the way, do I, and not just for family reasons?
I surmise that this is the legacy of George W. Bush. The fights we've been getting into this past fifteen years have been pointless and mismanaged, and nobody knows that better than the military, who've had to fight them. Our guys are willing to fight, but not for grand schemes of missionary endeavor. They want to defend our country, not civilize the heathen.
Having been deployed in a combat zone may give you swagger rights on a stateside base; but if you realise the mission was thought up and managed by people with bean-curd for brains, that's got to influence your voting preferences regardless.
To re-quote David Goldman from my podcast two weeks ago, re-quote: "Three administrations of Bush father and son have produced a monotone Establishment of functional foreign policy morons," end quote. Apparently this has not escaped the attention of our troops.
03 — Was Obama the first Birther? Donald Trump laid the Birther issue to rest at a press conference September 16th. He did it quite deftly, by Trumpian standards, just slipping in a remark at the end of a campaign event. The remark was, quote: "President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period."
He wouldn't take any questions on it at the presser, but on Wednesday this week, asked by an interviewer why he'd changed his mind after pushing the Birther issue for five years, he replied, quote: "Well, I just wanted to get on with, you know, we want to get on with the campaign," end quote.
That makes good sense, and I'm glad the whole silly Birther business is out of the way. The idea that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya never held much water, given what we know about his parents' movements and circumstances at the time. Now, with Obama in the closing months of his Presidency, you can add irrelevance to the nuttiness.
Let's remember, though, that there is a fair case to be made that the whole Birther business was launched by Obama himself.
The story line here starts in 1991, when Obama got himself a literary agent. At this time Obama was teaching law at the University of Chicago and working on his first book. The literary agent put out some promotional materials, giving the title of the book-in-progress as Journeys in Black and White. No book ever actually appeared with that title, but presumably Obama's 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father, was the eventual fruit of his literary labors.
In that 1991 promotional material from the literary agency, Obama is listed as, quote, "born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii." You can see the material for yourself on the fact-checking website Snopes.com.
That's peculiar. Obama was not famous at this point. He had been noticed in print only by the New York Times, which the previous year had run a story on him being elected President of the Harvard Law Review. That notice plainly said, right in the second paragraph, quote: "Mr Obama was born in Hawaii."
These were pre-internet days, remember. The person who wrote the bio for the literary agency had nothing to go on but (a) the New York Times story, and (b) whatever Obama told her. (We actually know her name: Miriam Goderich.)
Since the Times story has Obama born in Hawaii, the statement of him having been born in Kenya must have come from Obama himself.
Three possibilities occur to me. I'm speaking here as a person with many years experience of literary agents and publishers. Here are the three possibilities, in order from most likely on my judgment to least likely.
My own rating of those three probabilities, most to least likely, is in the order I gave them. They're all possible, though.
Ms Goderich herself claims possibility number three — that she just goofed. Obama was still her client when she said this, though, so it's what she would say.
The idea that it was Obama himself who first put the Birther story in play was re-aired recently by Brian Joondeph at American Thinker, September 18th. Quote from him, quote:
His literary bio represents the first promotion of his being born in Kenya.
That fortifies my suspicions that this was no mere blooper by a literary agent's clerk
I'm not myself a Birther, and never have been. My cast of mind is strongly Old British Empiricist. I'm allergic to conspiracy theories, and always inclined to think that things are most likely what they seem to be. Armstrong and Aldrin did walk on the moon, JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, and Dwight Eisenhower was not a Soviet agent. Sure, I know, there really are conspiracies sometimes; I just don't think that's the way to bet.
That the young Barack Obama wanted to look more exotic than he is, for purposes of self-promotion, doesn't rise to the level of being a conspiracy theory, though, and isn't at all implausible, given what we know about the guy. I say there's a good, albeit circumstantial, case that Barack Obama was the original Birther.
That being so, and all this stuff having been out there for years, the following question arises: Why, in five years of promoting Birtherism, did Donald Trump never refer to any of it?
My answer, at a high level of confidence: Trump just liked the sound of the Birther thing but wasn't sufficiently interested or engaged to do the kind of digging I just did, nor even to have a staffer do it for him.
For a guy with Trump's resources, that was a dereliction of due diligence. I'm still going to vote for him; but I hope in future he has his people do some research on topics of general interest before he sounds off on them. Nineteen ninety-one was not the age of the internet; but 2016 is.
04 — Did the elites bring us Trump? This segment and the next venture into contentious territory, so before proceeding let me lay down a couple of markers.
I'm not an antisemite; I never have been; and I don't have much time for antisemites. I've written a couple of million words of opinion commentary this past thirty years, all of it archived on my website, and I defy you to find any evidence of antisemitism in it anywhere.
I've turned against the word "philosemite," for reasons I've explained elsewhere — more than once, I'm pretty sure. Basically, it's patronizing. If pressed on the issue, I call myself an anti-antisemite. I cherish my Jewish friends, and I have publicly — and again, I think, more than once — expressed gratitude in print for the positive contribution Jews have made to our civilization, way out of proportion to their numbers.
That said, I know the following thing, which anyone who has observed the American political scene surely also knows: A subset of American Jews — a subset, a minority, I doubt even as many as a half — suffer from a kind of psychological deformation that keeps them trapped in a particular, strangely atavistic type of paranoia, of victim mentality.
In this mentality, it's always 1881 and we're still in Russia. The Jews are cowering behind their doors in fear as the Cossacks rampage through the town, or Christian peasants with pitchforks and flaming brands march on the Jewish quarter.
One side effect of this mentality is an unblinking vigilance, a hyper-sensitivity, towards the slightest tendency of the Gentile majority to drift Cossack-wards. This easily and often slops over into — and I am speaking of a subset of a subset of American Jews — into a generalized dislike, a prejudice, against white Christians.
Another side effect is the feeling that, for an oppressed minority — we're still in 1881, remember: it's always 1881 — for an oppressed minority there is safety in courting and joining with other outsider groups for solidarity against the dangerous, dominant Goyim. The great dream of this mentality, in fact, is to get enough of a coalition of outsiders together to outnumber the Goyim, the white Christians. That's why so many Jews are so passionately committed to mass Third World immigration.
It's not hard to find evidence of this. As an example I'll offer one of the series of debates called "Intelligence Squared." This one took place September 13th. The motion to be debated was, quote: "Blame the Elites for the Trump Phenomenon." You can watch the debate yourself at their website — google "intelligence squared." It lasts an hour and 44 minutes.
All four debaters were bigfoot American journalists. Both sides of the debate were anti-Trump; the debate was over whose fault it was that Trump had gotten the GOP nomination. For the motion, arguing that it was the fault of the elites, were Ben Domenech and Timothy Carney, both Gentiles. Against the motion, arguing that it was not the fault of the elites, were Jennifer Rubin and Bret Stephens, both Jewish.
That tells you something by itself. That atavistic style of Jewish paranoia that I spoke about, when it hears the word "elites," at once flies to the thought: They're talking about US! … and the hoofbeats of the Cossacks are heard drumming in the distance. At some mental level Rubin and Stephens read the title of the debate as: "Blame the Jews for the Trump Phenomenon." That's why they're arguing against the motion. No, no, it's not our fault — it's those damn peasants!
This put them on edge. You can see it in the debate. Stephens actually plays the Holocaust Card at 1h22m, brandishing the print-out of an antisemitic tweet he got. Earlier, at 56m, the whole debate had almost veered into a straightforward Christians versus Jews joust. Dealing with Mrs Clinton's use of the word "irredeemable," Jay Carney and Jennifer Rubin clashed lances thus:
[Clip: (Carney) I disagree with Bret Stephens and with Hillary Clinton that a quarter of the population is unredeemable. And my bias, on the table, is, I'm a Christian and I think everyone is redeemable …
It's been a while since I saw the atavistic paranoia of Jews, that subset of them, so starkly presented. The last time was, in fact, when I saw that Sacha Baron Cohen movie Borat, where it's likewise hard to miss.
If I'm right about Rubin and Stephens, the result of the debate did nothing to soothe their paranoia. Part of the format for these Intelligence Squared debates is, that the studio audience is polled at the beginning — how many for, how many against, how many undecided. The debate takes place, then at the end the audience is polled again, to see how many of the undecideds were persuaded which way.
Result: The audience percentage favoring the motion, that our elites were to blame for the rise of Trump, shot up 26 percent, from 32 to 58. The percentage blaming the peasants went up only six percent, 27 to 33. Uh-oh, here come the Cossacks. [Hoofbeat sounds.]
I'll just add here that if you take exception to all that coming from me, a Gentile, perhaps you'll accept it, or something not dissimilar to it, from Caroline Glick, a Jew. (I know I'm not allowed to say "Jewess" because I checked once with a lady Jewish editor I was working for. Quote from her: "We can say it, but you can't.")
So writing in the Jerusalem Post, September 15th, Ms Glick covers that same debate from the point of view of an ethnocentric Jew, and her coverage comes out sounding a lot like mine. She points up the rather high level of open antisemitism on the political Left. Then, quote:
The problem on the Republican side of the aisle … is not that the party has turned against the Jews. The problem is that a large contingent of prominent Jewish Republicans has decided to commit political suicide …
That's you she's talking about, Jennifer Rubin and Bret Stephens.
05 — Three cheers for nativism! As I said, both sides in that Intelligence Squared debate were anti-Trump. Whether all four were actually NeverTrumpers was not clear. You can be anti-Trump without being NeverTrump, on the lesser of two evils principle.
At least one of the Jewish side was a NeverTrumper, though. How do we know this? These are opinion journalists, recall. He wrote about it.
Yes, it's opinion journalist Bret Stephens again.
September 12th, the day before the debate, Stephens posted a Q&A column in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, where he is a Deputy Editor and opinion columnist. As far as I can judge, both the Qs and the As were written by Stephens himself, it's not a real interview. That's fine, no problem with it. It's a common format in opinion journalism. I've done columns in that format myself.
The title of Stephens' column is: NeverTrump for Dummies. Subtitle: "The nominee has more in common with Kanye West than with Steve Wynn."
That subtitle threw me. Kanye West I know about at a very vague level. He's one of those famous-for-being-famous people, right? I couldn't tell you a single darn thing he's done, but I see his name on the scandal sheets when I'm in the supermarket checkout line.
Who's Steve Wynn, though? I had to look him up. He's a billionaire property developer, very much like Trump. He's built luxury hotels and casinos.
So what's he doing in that subtitle? Well, he seems a bit more Upper West Side than Trump. He's a connoisseur of fine art, for example. I don't see much otherwise to place him at one end of an acceptability spectrum that has Donald Trump and Kanye West at the other end.
Or do I? Checking a bit further, I see that Steve Wynn, like Bret Stephens, is an American-born Ashkenazi Jew, original name Weinberg. So on that acceptability spectrum, we have two Jews at one end and two Gentiles at the other — just like in the following day's debate!
(Kanye West is a Gentile; I checked. In fact, a couple of years ago he got himself in a spot of bother by telling a New York radio station that, quote: "Black people don't have the same level of connections as Jewish people," end quote. I wouldn't be terrifically surprised to learn that it was exactly that remark that lodged itself in Bret Stephens' mind, causing him to pair off West with Trump at the dark end of the spectrum.)
OK, getting past the subtitle, what's in the column? Well, you can read it for yourself. No, you don't need a Wall Street Journal subscription — who can afford those things? What you do is, put the title, "NeverTrump for Dummies," into the search box at Google News. I'll just pull out one single quote.
First thing I did was Ctrl-F on the word "nativist." Yep, there it is. I knew it would be. Quote: "Mr Trump's nativist brand of politics is much further removed from conservatism than Mrs Clinton's mainstream liberalism," end quote.
There you see the paranoia, the immigration fanaticism. For a politician to be nativist — to favor the natives, the people born in his country, over foreigners — is worse, much worse, than Clintonian liberalism, says Bret Stephens.
For him to be nativist is worse than anything, because if a nativist gets power, our Coalition of Others will never have numbers to swamp the Goyim. They'll be dominant for ever, and sooner or later they'll turn on the Jews! [Hoofbeat sounds.]
I know, it sounds nutty. Possibly I am being paranoid. Watching that debate, though, and then reading Bret Stephens' print piece, it does seem to me that Bret Stephens' paranoia, that atavistic fear, is in plain sight, just under the surface.
What, after all, is wrong with nativism? Why is this a pejorative — even on the political left, never mind from the pen of a self-described conservative? For a government to favor its own people over foreigners: There's something wrong with that? What? What, exactly? Because it's "hateful"? What nonsense! I favor my own kids over your kids, by a mile and a half; but I don't hate your kids, so long as they don't come into my house uninvited. Good luck to them.
Good luck to foreigners: Jolly good luck to them all, the long and the short and the tall. Now, will our government please attend to the fortunes and concerns of our people, our citizens, and let foreigners shift for themselves?
What, that's nativist? OK: then three cheers for nativism!
06 — Skittlesgate. Outrage of the week, so far as the anti-Trumpers and NeverTrumpers were concerned, was Skittlesgate.
What happened here was, last Monday night Trump's son by Ivana, 39-year-old Donald Jr., tweeted a picture of a bowl of skittles over Dad's campaign logo. These aren't bowling-alley skittles; these are Skittles candy, cute little bright-colored sugar shells with a fruity, chewy interior.
(May I interrupt here, totally off-topic, to tell you the New Yorker cartoon that was my son's favorite when he was nine or ten years old? It was the one with two polar bears standing over an igloo, an eskimos' igloo. One polar bear is saying to the other polar bear, quote: "I love these things, don't you? Hard and crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside …," end quote, end interruption.)
OK, so Donald Trump, Jr., tweeted this picture of some Skittles candy with the message, quote:
If I had a bowl of skittles and told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful?
This tweet, which sounds to me mild and sensible, caused outrage across the nation. Most of the outrage came from CultMarx weenies screeching that Donald, Jr.'s message was that a Syrian refugee is worth no more than a blob of candy. Of course that wasn't what he was saying at all. What he was saying was, when you can't tell which is the candy and which is the cyanide capsule, you'd best keep them all out of your house.
When our nation's educators tell our young people that each one of them is a special little snowflake — as apparently they do, every day of their school lives up to college graduation — are they implying that a young American is of no more value than a tiny ice crystal barely visible to the naked eye that will melt if you touch it? Does anyone think so?
Not all of the negativity was from the left, mind. Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, a take-no-prisoners conservative Republican, complained that Donald, Jr. had plagiarized from a tweet he, Joe Walsh, had posted last month.
Memo to the Trump campaign from Radio Derb: Plagiarize from me all you want, guys. I promise not to complain.
Most of the screeching and swooning, though, was coming from the left. One striking feature of it was the speed with which it headed to, and arrived at, reductio ad Hitlerum.
Cultural Marxists have a major obsession with Hitler. Everyone and everything they disapprove of must be shown to be Hitler or Hitlerish. Every argument ends with an accusation of Hitlery. Every conservative position has to be reduced to Hitler — reductio ad Hitlerum.
You've heard me scoff at the black-grievance writing of liberal pets like Ta-Nehisi Coates as "Blackety-blackety-blackety-black, black black black black blackety-black …" Well, a good part of Cultural Marxist discourse, as presented on their websites and Twitter posts, seems to come down to "Hitlery-Hitlery-Hitlery-Hitler, Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitlery-Hitler …"
So it was with Skittlesgate. And the left is getting really good at this: reductio ad Hitlerum took only a matter of hours. They must have had a battalion of researchers working overtime.
It turns out that one of Hitler's buddies — this is the actual Hitler, the mid-20th-century German dictator, not the Hitler currently running for President — one of Hitler's buddies, the antisemitic propagandist Julius Streicher, wrote a children's book, title Der Giftpilz. Gift is the German word for "poison"; Pilz is fungus; so a Giftpilz is a poisonous mushroom. In the book, Streicher has a mother warning her child against Jews, quote: "Just as a single poisonous mushroom can kill a whole family, so a solitary Jew can destroy a whole village, a whole city, even an entire Volk," end quote.
So you see, Donald Trump, Jr. is Hitler, so that Trump himself is Hitler's Dad … or something. Don't ask me. It all makes sense somehow to the lefties.
These people are nuts.. Hitlery-Hitlery-Hitlery-Hitler, Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler, Hitlery-Hitler …
07 — Invade, invite. Syria. I haven't had much to say about Syria, which is remiss of me; so here's a Syria segment.
The Syrian situation is one of those things that's so complex, the general-interest commentator risks making an idiot of himself for saying anything about it. Figuring out who's doing what to whom over there is a lifetime study.
Nothing daunts your intrepidly genial host, though, so here's a summary of the situation to the best of my understanding.
To a first approximation, this is a civil war. Up to 2011 Syria was the usual fly-blown Third World trashcan pseudo-nation, an authoritarian dictatorship in which a small elite flourished through crony capitalism while the mass of citizens survived either by dirt farming, or by working as government clerks on starvation wages, or by bribing those clerks, or on remittances from relatives abroad.
Then the Arab Spring came along, just as Syrians were going through a drought and food crisis, and a recession in the non-agricultural sector of the economy. On top of all that, the Bush administration, still fighting in Iraq next door, was stirring the Syrian pot, financing anti-government groups.
Some key staff officers in the Syrian military set themselves up in opposition to the Assad government as the Free Syrian Army, the FSA, and civil war started up, government versus FSA. It's still going on.
That's the first approximation: a civil war. It's now very approximate, though. Five and a half years on, the FSA exists only in a highly theoretical sense. Numerous groups have broken off from it and are fighting independently, in some cases against both each other and the government.
The main dynamic there has been radicalization. Here you come to the religious dimension. The Syrian government is run by Alawites, a minority sect that lines up with Shi'ites in the Sunni-Shi'a split. The great majority of Syrian Muslims are Sunni, and an even greater majority of the original FSA were.
Senior military staff officers, though, like other professionals in Syria, especially older ones, were not intensely religious. It was, and still is, a secular state, shaped in the fifties and sixties when Islam was at a low ebb. The younger officers and their peasant soldiers were a different story.
So the FSA suffered a drift in the direction of Islamic fundamentalism, with these radical groups breaking off and setting up their own armed units — most famously, of course, ISIS.
The Shi'a-Sunni split matters internationally, turning the civil war into somewhat of a proxy war between, on the Shi'a side, Iran and its Lebanese cats-paw Hezbollah, and on the Sunni side, the Saudis and the Gulf States, and Turkey.
Turkey's a wild card, though, as the Turks' main focus is ethnic, not religious. The Turks are obsessed with their Kurdish minority: twenty percent of Turkey's population, but with a much higher birthrate. Syria also has a lot of Kurds, close to ten percent, all up against the Turkish-Syrian border. Kurds are Sunni too; but through Turkish eyes, their Kurdishness is way more important than their Sunnitude. Everything Turkey does is aimed at weakening the collective strength of the Kurds.
And then there are the big powers, us and the Russians.
The Russians support the Syrian government. Russia is, to adapt the language of the Old Left, objectively pro-Shi'a. For one thing they have a big Mediterranean naval base in Syria they'd hate to lose. For another, they worry about their own Muslims — who are Sunni — getting radicalized. For another, they don't trust Turkey. That's historical and strategic. Historical: Wikipedia lists twelve Russo-Turkish wars, dates from 1568 to 1918. Strategic: Turkey's in NATO, duh.
How about us? What's our dog in this fight?
Our administration has done some neocon and humanitarian bleating about human rights and Syrian government atrocities. That's just for the church ladies, though. Our only real national interest here is the opportunity the Syrian Civil War gives us to kill Islamic radicals so they can't (a) come over and kill us through our leaks-like-a-sieve visa and border controls, and (b) fire up our own Muslims via the internet.
That's OK I guess, and I'm all for killing radical Muslims. So are the Russians, though, for the above-mentioned reasons. So is the Syrian government, for religious reasons and because they'd like to get back control of their country. So are the Turks, who figure they can do some Kurd-killing under cover of radical-killing. So are the Saudis and Emirates, who see ISIS as heretics who might fire up their own people against the monarchies.
Does our piling on really make much difference?
My guess is that our operations in Syria are a waste of our time and money. A ban on the entry of Muslims into our country, together preferably with the revocation of visas for non-citizen Muslims in the U.S.A., would be at least as effective in shoring up our own security. Bombing Islamic radicals over there while doing nothing to prevent them coming here makes no sense to me. Am I missing something?
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: My paean of praise for the Hungarians in last week's podcast began by reminding listeners that there have throughout history been many attempted invasions of Europe by barbarian hordes, and that, quote, "Each one has brought forth heroes to lead the fight for civilization." I placed today's Hungarians in the context of those heroes.
A listener emailed in to point out that the Hungarians, when they first showed up in Europe in the ninth century, were themselves regarded as a barbarian horde, and that Europe was saved from them at last by Otto the Great at the Battle of the Lechfeld.
What do I say to that? I say: Hey, everybody has a past. The reformed drunk used to be the star of every Temperance meeting. The savage Magyars turned into the Christian Kingdom of Hungary in pretty much a single generation after Lechfeld, and have been a bulwark of European civilization in the thousand years since. I say they've paid their dues.
I'd add that the Magyars were never an existential threat to Europe anyway, nor even to any of the European nations other than the Slavic territories in the East, which didn't yet rise to the level of real nationhood. There just weren't enough of them. The Magyars were a fearsome nuisance in the early tenth century, I'll grant, raiding as far West as Burgundy; but they always took their booty and went home. When they did challenge Otto, the King of Germany, he crushed them. They took up Christianity themselves and raided no more.
So let bygones be bygones, I say. Everybody has a past.
Item: This story out of West Virginia is good for an hour of argumentation over the pool table. What happened was, a white cop was fired for not shooting a black guy.
The white cop is 25-year-old Stephen Mader, hired just last year into the police force of Weirton, West Virginia. Mader had joined the Marines out of high school and served four years, including combat duty in Afghanistan. I assume he had a good service record, or the police force wouldn't have hired him.
The black guy was 23-year-old Ronald Williams, who was making some kind of domestic disturbance that caused someone to dial 911. When Officer Mader showed up, Williams was waving a handgun around. He seemed to want to commit suicide by cop, which is more common than you'd think. "Just shoot me," he told the officer.
Mader took a calm approach, tried to talk Williams down. While he was doing so, however, two other cops showed up, both white. Seeing an armed confrontation, they shot Williams dead.
After an investigation, Officer Mader was fired from the police force for, quote, "failing to eliminate a threat."
He's behaved with remarkable decency about the matter, and sounds like a very nice guy indeed. Quote, regarding the two officers who shot Williams:
They did not have the information I did … All they know is [Mr Williams] is waving a gun at them. It's a shame it happened the way it did, but, I don't think they did anything wrong.
He's not happy about being fired, though, and has criticized the police chief for it.
Radio Derb agrees with him on both points.
Item: Homemade bombs went off in the streets of New York City last weekend. It was of course a Muslim, name of Ahmad Rahami, who had come here from Afghanistan as a child, parents presumably refugees.
The Mayor of New York, who is clinically insane, took a break from trying to stuff a banana into his left ear to tell New Yorkers that the city needs more Muslim immigrants. "Militant violence is vanishingly rare," he told us. Just to repeat, that is the Mayor of New York City, speaking just four days after the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.
Clinically insane, yes; although I guess no more so than my favorite statistic. Once again: our country has admitted more Muslims for settlement in the fifteen years since 2001 than we did in the fifteen years prior. You can't get more insane than that, although our Mayor is clearly trying hard.
Like the guys who bombed the Boston Marathon, and the Orlando shooter, and the guy who killed four Marines in Chatanooga last summer, this was what we now call a "lone wolf" attack. As far as we know, Rahami wasn't a signed-up, trained member of any organization. He just took it into his head to murder infidels.
This is a real problem for law enforcement. As Daniel Greenfield has pointed out, this kind of terrorism doesn't need any kind of organized network that police and the FBI can fix their attention on. All it needs is Muslims. Quote from Greenfield:
Lone wolf terrorism operates entirely off the existing Muslim population in a particular country. The bigger the Muslim population, the bigger the risk …
It's really pretty simple — too simple, apparently, for the last three administrations. Maybe we should try electing leaders who can cope with simplicity.
To play us out, here is Radio Derb's Fall music, from the smoothest lounge singer ever.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Yves Montand, "Les Feuilles Mortes."]