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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your grammatically genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you VDARE.com's summary of the week's news.
As Radio Derb goes to tape here the congresscritters are still fighting over whether to close down the federal government in the name of 800,000 illegal aliens. There's a midnight deadline and I have to put Radio Derb to bed before that, so I'll leave you to find out the result in tomorrow morning's news.
Meantime there is plenty of other stuff to report. There is, for example, the first anniversary of President Trump's assuming office. Let's take a look at that.
02 — Trump's first year. President Trump assumed office just a year ago this weekend, January 20th. How's he doing?
I'll pass an opinion in due course. First, though, what does the President himself think?
We sort of know the answer to that thanks to New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin. Those of you who live in the sparsely-populated tundra out beyond the Hudson River probably don't know Michael Goodwin, but I commend him to your attention. His columns are archived at the New York Post website.
Goodwin's a veteran newspaperman with a Pulitzer Prize to his credit. I find I agree with his stuff more often than not. No, of course he's not Dissident Right. In a major East Coast news outlet, are you kidding? He covers local issues thoroughly, as a guy opinionating at the NEW YORK Post should; he's neoconnish on foreign policy topics, and he writes about Israel a lot.
He has, though, been a stalwart Trump supporter. His January 6th column was titled We're still better off with Trump than Clinton. (He meant Hillary Clinton, of course.) Sample quote:
[Trump's] is turning out to be an enormously consequential presidency.
End quote. Goodwin offers a checklist of Trump's accomplishments: the economic boom, conservative judges, recognizing Jerusalem, taking a strong line on North Korea and Iran. Mainly, though, in line with his title, he wants to tell us how much worse off we'd be with Hillary in the White House.
I'm on board with Goodwin there, although lukewarm on the neoconnery. I wish Trump had pulled us out of NATO, as he hinted on the campaign trail he would; and told South Korea and Japan to take care of their own defenses, and ended our stupid, futile involvement in Afghanistan, and left the Middle East to work out its own problems.
On the main point, though, I agree with Goodwin. Let's count our blessings.
That January 6th Michael Goodwin column had a strange little aftermath. The President himself saw it, or had it brought to his attention. He tweeted out his appreciation. Unfortunately the President, or whichever staffer supplies him with research details, slipped up when composing his tweets. Instead of giving Michael Goodwin's email address at the New York Post, he included Goodwin's private e-address.
The mistake was quickly corrected, but not before Goodwin had received 2,000 emails at his private address. A lot of them were of course from lunatics wishing Goodwin a slow death, accusing him of having a sexual relationship with the President, and subscribing him to gay porn websites, dating services for Russian brides, and Alzheimer's support groups.
Tell me about it, Michael. I've been the focus of a Two Minutes Hate myself. I still, six years later, get occasional emails from people expressing their glee at having learned that I'm a cancer patient. Progressive America includes some weird, malevolent specimens.
Are there foul-mouthed, deranged, sadistic, venomously rude conservatives out there, too? I suppose there must be some; but it's hard to imagine they're as bad as the leftist mobs. If I hadn't been the subject of their attentions myself, I wouldn't have believed anyone could be that bad. And I bet our lunatics at least know the difference between "your," y-o-u-r, and "you're," y-o-u-apostrophe-r-e, a distinction apparently unknown in liberal-lunatic-land.
The upside of this kind of thing for an op-ed writer is that you get a column out of it. Michael's came out January 9th, headline: This is what happens when POTUS tweets out your email address. The price of fame, Michael.
I don't myself see any reason why the lady shouldn't run. Of course I wouldn't vote for her. I'm white, she's anti-white, duh. That's just my preference, though. It doesn't mean she's not a plausible candidate. Plenty of white Americans are anti-white ethnomasochists themselves, or else too stupid to have noticed Ms Winfrey's forthright tribalism.
"But she has no political experience," people say. So what? Wasn't that supposed to be one of the founding ideals of our republic — the Cincinnatus, the worthy citizen riding in from his farm to do a stint of public service, then riding back home again when his term was up? Well, Oprah's a worthy citizen: rich and famous without having broken any important laws, employs a lot of people, adds to the public stock of harmless pleasure. I say again: a plausible candidate.
There is anyway a widespread belief — you might just want to glance back at the result of the 2016 Presidential election — a widespread belief that professional politicians who know how to work all the levers and dials in Washington, DC haven't actually served us very well.
Peggy Noonan made this point in her column last week, writing about this very topic. To précis Peggy: After a couple of decades watching the professional pols bring us stagnant family incomes, futile missionary wars, financial crises, litigation from the judicial bench, and twenty trillion dollars of national debt, the professionals shouldn't be surprised when we go looking for outsiders to maybe set things right.
Playing devil's advocate again, on the negative side I would note that Oprah's main achievements have been in the realm of television.
I agree with Dr Johnson that words are the daughters of earth, while things are the sons of heaven; and I'd update that to include: flickering images on little screens are the spawn of hell. I'm of the same kidney as the placement officer in Starship Troopers interviewing a young high school graduate, quote: "A boy who gets a C-minus in Appreciation of Television can't be all bad," end quote.
Sure, Donald Trump was a TV personality, too; but that was after achieving wealth and fame by putting up buildings — which is to say, on Dr Johnson's schema, dealing hands-on, successfully, with the sons of heaven. I'm a daughters-of-earth guy myself; but I can admire Trump's accomplishments in a way I can't admire Oprah's.
The lady's metaphysic, too, leaves much to be desired. "It is impossible to live without a metaphysic," said Aldous Huxley. "The choice that is given us is not between some kind of metaphysic and no metaphysic; it is always between a good metaphysic and a bad metaphysic," end quote. I agree with that.
Oprah Winfrey's metaphysic, as is the norm with blacks — and, to be perfectly fair, by no means unknown among nonblack humanity — is based on juju and witchcraft. She was, for example, a big promoter of the 1996 bestseller — Oprah helped to make it a bestseller — The Secret, a book-length exposition of Jiminy Cricket's theory that when you wish upon a star your dreams come true.
That's not actually the case; and the broadcasting of it at bestseller level likely reduced the mean national IQ by several points. Metaphysic-wise, I'd prefer someone a little more grounded in reality and science.
Again, though, that's just me venting my preferences. We've had Presidents who believed all sorts of odd things, without any detriment to their performance. At least four recent Presidents were creationists; it did us no harm. Ronald Reagan had a court astrologer, name of Joan Quigley. Woodrow Wilson attended séances with the famous medium Edgar Cayce. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were Rosicrucians. It's a common observation that a person can function sanely and effectively at a high level while privately nursing wacky metaphysics.
So while Oprah won't be getting my vote unless her Republican opponent is even more anti-white than she is — Lindsey Graham, for example — I can't see any reasonable objection to her running. Give it a shot, Oprah!
04 — Google's squid ink. Somewhat related to that — specifically, to people believing in juju, magic, and so on — is the lawsuit filed January 8th in California against Google by former Google employees James Damore and David Gudeman.
You'll recall that Damore was fired after circulating a memo that argued, among other things, for biology-based differences between men and women in career preferences and abilities. Gudeman was fired for expressing skepticism about a Muslim colleague's claims that the FBI was persecuting him for his religion. In the lawsuit, both plaintiffs allege a corporate culture of anti-white, anti-male, and anti-conservative prejudice, all contrary to California's anti-discrimination laws.
As always in these cases of employment discrimination, I have to put down a libertarian marker. I believe private companies should be free to hire and fire as they wish, without having to explain their hiring'n'firing decisions to judges or government bureaucrats.
Anti-discrimination laws are a crock. "Hostile work environment" likewise. If you are assaulted at work, call the cops; otherwise put up with the inevitable quantity of b-s you'll find in any workplace. If you can't put up with it, quit and find another job.
That said, since these stupid laws exist, it's hard to blame Damore and Gudeman for seeking to take advantage of them. If discrimination is a thing to be litigated, the people with the most right to litigate it are dissidents from the CultMarx orthodoxy that rules in our society and in all our big institutions: corporations, universities, churches, the media … everywhere.
That's what brought juju to mind. I read about the Damore-Gudeman lawsuit right after reading an article about witches. The article is at The Conversation, a social-science website that is CultMarx compliant but occasionally has interesting posts. This post is by Ruth Mace, a Professor of Anthropology at my own alma mater, University College London.
Prof. Mace is summarizing some research she did on rural villagers in China, where it's a common thing for some villager, usually a woman, to be tagged as a witch and shunned. What gets you tagged as a witch? asks Prof. Mace. Her conclusion, quote:
Our conclusion is that witch accusation has evolved from competition between households. Labelling may have become a way for people to get ahead of their rivals and gain a competitive advantage in reproduction or resources.
End quote. That's not a very startling conclusion, and Prof. Mace dresses it up with the usual CultMarx folderol about patriarchal oppression of women. Reading about the California lawsuit right after it, though, did throw a spark across the gap between subsistence-level peasant village society and Google, one of the most technologically advanced organizations that ever existed. Bottom line here: That gap is not very wide.
We are social critters under strong pressure, whether in rural China or in Silicon Valley, to conform to norms and taboos. As it applies to American corporate life, this field was pretty thoroughly plowed sixty years ago by William Whyte in his book The Organization Man. Dissidents, if they want to stay employed, should reserve their dissent for out of hours. At work, they should clap along with the community singing.
In the particular case of Google, there is of course naked hypocrisy on display. To run its business profitably, Google needs to hire lots of people who enjoy, and are good at, coding software. Those people will disproportionately be males from the white and East or South Asian races.
The reasons for that disproportion are, I agree with James Damore, surely biological, to do with evolutionary pressures on a widely-distributed species practising mammalian reproduction. When Google, and other corporations in the same line of business, make an exaggerated fuss about striving to overcome deep-ingrained society-wide biases, they're just putting out squid ink to obscure their meritocratic hiring practices.
So, yes: major-league hypocrisy. Hypocrisy's not against the law, though, and I wouldn't want it to be.
05 — Cast down your bucket where you are! What, I hear you cry, nothing about immigration in this week's podcast? Now that we have at last got everyone talking about it?
Well, that's kind of the point. Yes, everyone's talking about it, and as I noted last week, the standard of debate over immigration is higher than it used to be — higher for sure than it was in the previous recent attempts at immigration legislation in 2006, 2007, and 2013. I'd like to think that we here at VDARE.com have had something to do with that.
When everybody's talking about a thing, though, it's hard to find anything that's been left unsaid. So this week I'm just packing my immigration commentary into a single segment.
There have of course been developments this week. Most of the talk has been about the so-called Gang of Six bill, advertised brightly as "bipartisan." Uh-oh.
The "six" in "Gang of Six" are six senators, three Republicans and three Democrats. To be precise they are Republican Senators Lindsey Graham (SC), Jeff Flake (AZ), Cory Gardner (CO), and Democratic Senators Dick Durbin (IL), Michael Bennet (CO) and Robert Menendez (NJ). As is my habit I shall just read off to you the NumbersUSA grades for those senators on immigration votes in the Senate, 2015-2018: F-minus, C-minus, D-minus, F, F-minus, F. The median grade there is F.
What does it propose to do, this Gang of Six bill? Executive summary: It offers the same bait-and-switch as the old Gang of Eight Rubio-Schumer effort five years ago. Permanent residency leading to citizenship for Dreamers, temporary — and we know what "temporary" means in an immigration context, don't we? — temporary status for their parents, promises of improvements to border security …
Jessica Vaughan at the Center for Immigration Studies summarizes the aim of the bill as, quote, "maximum amnesty, minimum border security and no cuts to legal immigration," end quote.
The Gang of Six bill claims to end the diversity visa lottery, but when you read the fine print it doesn't reduce numbers, nor even the diversity idea. Instead of a lottery, half the visas will go to those same countries, the ones thought to bring in maximum diversity, but now on a merit basis, while the other half go to the Temporary Protected Status aliens.
Merit-based immigration is in fact the new fad. The proposed House bill incorporates it, too. This is not the Gang of Six Senate bill; this is a different thing, properly the Securing America's Future Act of 2018. It also has six proposers, all of course representatives: Bob Goodlatte (VA), Mike McCaul (TX), Raul Labrador (ID), Martha McSally (AZ), Jim Sensenbrenner (WI), and John Carter (TX). Here are their NumbersUSA grades on recent immigration votes: A, B-plus, A-plus, D, B, B, for a median grade B to B-plus.
As you'd expect from those grades, this bill is more realistic. It really ends the diversity visa lottery but distributes those 55,000 lottery visas to the skilled employment-based visa category.
Well, 55,000 people with skills is better than 55,000 people with blind luck, I guess. Merit-based immigration, at any rate below the Nobel Prize level, is still just a cheap labor racket, though.
We have all the skilled people we need. The U.S. population passed the 200 million mark late in November 1968, a few months before we landed men on the Moon. If we could land men on the Moon with just 200 million people here, what can't we do with 320 million?
Here was black patriot Booker T. Washington speaking in Atlanta, September 18th 1895, quote:
To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, "Cast down your bucket where you are."
End quote. Washington was of course making a plea to employers to hire black Americans rather than immigrants. The same plea, in a broader sense, can be made today: Let's staff our offices and workshops from our own people — American people — of whom there are surely enough to keep a modern economy thriving. Let's confront the cheap-labor racketeers with Booker T. Washington's slogan: "Cast down your bucket where you are!"
And let's ask those racketeers, too, where the morality lies in strip-mining poor countries of their smart people. In last week's podcast I mentioned the failure of Haiti to build and keep sewage treatment plants. One cause of that failure is, the small proportion of Haiti's population capable of maintaining a modern plant in operation, all left the country years ago to come to the U.S.A. So tell me how our immigration policy helps Haiti?
Immigration enthusiasts love to moralize about how good and noble we are to let so many people in. With this new fad for merit-based immigration, you can put the adjective "skilled" in front of "people." One more skilled person settling in the U.S.A., though, is one less to keep things running in Haiti, or Ghana, or El Salvador. Why does no-one ever make this point to the open-borders people?
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: I got a big email bag about those comments last week on the state of sanitation in Haiti and West Africa. A favorite link was to Karin McQuillan's January 17th post at American Thinker, title: What I Learned in the Peace Corps in Africa: Trump Is Right.
Ms McQuillan did her Peace Corps service in Senegal, West Africa. She opens the piece with some Trump-compliant observations about sanitary customs over there, then branches out into more general observations about Senegalese attitudes to property, work, family, and so on. Sample, quote:
The more I worked there and visited government officials doing absolutely nothing, the more I realized that no one in Senegal had the idea that a job means work. A job is something given to you by a relative. It provides the place where you steal everything to give back to your family.
End quote. Karin McQuillan wishes good luck to the Senegalese, and so do I; but she doesn't want the way of life she observed brought over here. Neither do I.
To judge by the research the government's using to justify this new responsibility, there's a lot of loneliness for the Minister to minister to. Half of Brits over the age of 75 now live alone; 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with a friend or relative in more than a month.
This is of course the fruit of decades of family breakdown, feminists telling us that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle, and housing policies that broke up old slum neighborhoods.
It's sad; and with falling birth rates and marriage rates, it'll get sadder. I can't see why it's any business of the government, though. What's this minister going to do for lonely people: go round and talk to them? But of course, everything is the business of government nowadays.
For us Cold War kids it was a nostalgia moment, taking us back to those drills when we had to get under our school desks and count off seconds between the flash and the shock wave.
If you're older than that — you'd have to be in your mid-eighties, at least — it might even have stirred memories of Orson Welles' radio broadcast adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. Listeners who tuned in late missed Orson Welles' introduction. They thought an invasion by Martians was actually taking place. There was nationwide panic. Orson Welles thought the resulting controversy would ruin his career. In fact it boosted it, landing him his first big Hollywood contract. Ah, America!
Of commentary on the Hawaii scare, I best like Laura Ingraham's. She wondered why the false alert told people, over and over, to lay on the floor, when it should have been telling them to lie on the floor.
On this point, my heart and Laura's beat as one. God bless that woman! "Lay" is transitive: it takes a noun object. You lay something. You can lay an egg, lay carpet, lay plans. "Lie" is intransitive: You don't lie any-thing, you just lie, with at most a following adverb or adverbial phrase — lie on, lie down, lie by the side of.
How hard is this to understand? Don't they teach English grammar in schools any more? Lay … lie … there's the decline of Western Civ., right there. I'm afraid I'm going to have to blame Bob Dylan for this one. [Clip: "Lay, lady, lay …"]
Item: Just a couple of weeks ago here on Radio Derb I remarked that Social Justice Warriors are now making war on color-blindness. To be fully "woke" you must not be color-blind. You should notice race, and acknowledge it; and, if you are white, apologize for your own race.
Well, here's another heretofore-un-noticed aspect of white supremacy: meritocracy. Yes, folks, meritocracy is an oppressive white social construct. Away with it!
This is from CampusReform.org. Laurie Rubel, who is a Professor of Math Education — not, please note, a math professor, only a professor of Math Education — at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Laurie Rubel implicates both meritocracy and [scare quotes] "color-blindness" as ideological precepts that hold back racial minorities from succeeding in math classes in an article for the peer-reviewed Journal of Urban Mathematics Education.
"Racial minorities"? Oh right: like, Chinese, Koreans, Indians, Bangladeshis, … Right.
Just one more piece of evidence, if more were needed, that a first step to improving education in the U.S.A. must be to shut down all college departments of education and strip the staff members of their citizenship.
Item: Considering that France is the nation, more than any other, that gave us all of the more poisonous intellectual fads of the post-WW2 era, from Sartrean existentialism through to the post-structuralism and deconstructionism of poseurs like Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault — considering, indeed, the fact that France is the nation that gave us the word "poseur" — considering all that, it is ironic, but refreshing, to see that a collective of 100 influential French women — actresses, writers, researchers and journalists — have stepped forward to jab a big sharp hatpin into the great gassy bubble of "sexual harassment" panic.
This was in the January 9th edition of Le Monde, the premier French broadsheet newspaper. Headline: Nous défendons une liberté d'importuner, indispensable à la liberté sexuelle: "We defend a freedom to make advances, indispensable to sexual liberty."
Say the ladies, quote:
As women we do not recognise ourselves in this feminism, which beyond denouncing the abuse of power takes on a hatred of men and of sexuality.
End quote. The ladies go on to denounce the, quote, "Puritanism" that binds women to, quote, "a status of eternal victims, poor little things under the influence of demon phallocrats, as in the good old days of witchcraft," end quote.
Witchcraft, eh? I'm working up a theme here.
Speaking as an Englishman born, trained from infancy to cast a skeptical eye on anything that comes out of all-vaporing France, I'm surprised and pleased to find myself agreeing with these French ladies.
Perhaps the old cliché about national character is true: Perhaps the French really do know something about sensible relations between the sexes that the rest of us would do well to learn.
And perhaps that other old cliché about national character is also true: Perhaps the U.S.A. really is a country always at risk of falling back into fanatical Puritanism.
Item: You knew that President Trump is literally Hitler, right? Well, you didn't know the half of it. In fact, you didn't know the third of it.
In the January 15th issue of The New Yorker, editor David Remnick, who pretty much defines the term "Trump Derangement Syndrome," wrote a column arguing that our President is literally the Emperor Nero. Sample:
Chaotic, corrupt, incurious, infantile, grandiose, and obsessed with gaudy real estate, Donald Trump is of a Neronic temperament.
Then this Wednesday Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, speaking on the Senate floor, noted that our President had referred to the mainstream media as "the enemy of the people." That, said the Senator, was what Stalin called counter-revolutionaries.
So take your pick: Hitler, Nero, Stalin. And if you want to get on the bandwagon, you'd better move fast, before we run out of crazy dictators to compare the President to. If you think Trump is literally Attila, literally Pol Pot, literally Shaka Zulu, or literally Vlad the Impaler, speak up now before someone else says it first!
Item: Finally, everybody's favorite story of the week: the Dutch lady who was denied Swiss citizenship because she's too annoying.
This is 42-year-old Nancy Holten, who's been living in Switzerland since she was eight years old and has children who are Swiss citizens. Ms Holten applied for Swiss citizenship herself, but was turned down.
In Switzerland, to be naturalized as a citizen you have to get the approval of your district. In Ms Holten's district she is very unpopular. She's an animal rights activist, you see, and it's a country district with lots of cows. Ms Holten has campaigned against the use of cowbells, which she says are too loud. Quote from her: "The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibels. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We wouldn't want such a thing hanging close to our ears, would we?" End quote.
The lady's physics is a little off. The Industrial Noise Control website does indeed list a hundred decibels as, quote, "Jet take-off (at 305 meters), use of outboard motor, power lawn mower, motorcycle, farm tractor, jackhammer, garbage truck," end quote; but, I dunno, cowbells don't seem to me to belong in that list.
You have to love the concept, though, of denying citizenship to someone for being annoying. There's the solution to the DACA issue right there. The whole DACA fuss has been annoying the hell out of me.
07 — Signoff. And there you have it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and for your emails and donations.
That brief item about the Brits getting a Minister for Loneliness struck a chord with me, although not because I'm lonely. In fact I don't think I've ever been lonely, even when marooned and broke in remote alien places. I'm a self-sufficient and un-social type, happy with my own company so long as I have something to read.
Sure, I enjoy drinks and conversation with friends once in a while. Everybody needs some social stimulation. The rest of the time, though, I'm on the same wavelength as Bill Wordsworth was on when he wrote those lovely lines about "the bliss of solitude."
I know of course that's not the human norm. We are a social species. The growing loneliness in low-fertility, long-lifespan populations is a quiet catastrophe. Perhaps robots will take up the slack eventually; the Japanese, I read, are already working on it. Until that happens, those of my fellow human beings afflicted with loneliness have my sincere sympathy.
All that was of course just an excuse to play a song I love; one of Hank Williams' best, which is saying a great deal.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Hank Williams: "I'm so lonesome I could cry."]