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—————————[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your municipally genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you more madness, badness, and sadness fresh from the news wires.
I am even further behind with email than usual, and apologize for that to listeners and readers who have emailed in. I shall deal with a couple of points from the email bag in what follows, then dedicate my weekend to trying to catch up.
Meanwhile, the news.
02 — Trump's wall/shutdown speech. I didn't watch the President's speech on Wednesday: I was too busy enjoying a restaurant dinner with an old friend. Sorry, but at this point on life's route march, private pleasures come first.
I did read the transcripts at the New York Times website: the transcripts, that is, of both the President's speech and the Pelosi-Schumer response.
The President's speech seems to have been carefully crafted to appeal to those suburban women who, according to Senator Lindsey Graham and various pollsters, are fleeing from the Republican Party.
So we heard the President tell us that, quote:
Migrant children … are used as human pawns by vicious coyotes and ruthless gangs. One in three women are sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico Women and children are the biggest victims, by far, of our broken system. This is the tragic reality of illegal immigration on our southern border. This is the cycle of human suffering that I am determined to end.
End quote. Well, it sure is a pity that Central American women and children are in harm's way trying to break into our country; and it's a cause for proper national shame that our stupid, crazy policies encourage them to make the journey none the less.
Bad stuff happens all over, though, and we elected Trump in the hope that less of it would happen here in the sovereign territory of the U.S.A., to our citizens: less flagrant disregard of our laws, less criminal violence against our citizens by illegal aliens, less impoverishment of our citizens by floods of cheap labor, less leeching off our schools, hospitals, and welfare systems by people who contribute nothing to the funding of them.
America First, that was the program. Foreigners must shift for themselves. Our government exists to attend to our interests. What happens to people in Guatemala or Mexico may be bad, and if you feel moved to try doing something about it, there are private and religious charities you can contribute to. Our government, however, is there for us, not for them. We can't solve all the world's miseries; and when we try, we generally make things worse.
Aside from these appeals to the feelings, wo wo wo feelings, of suburban women, there were some nuggets of sense in the President's speech, and nothing egregiously non-sensical. Quote:
We have asked Congress to close border security loopholes so that illegal immigrant children can be safely and humanely returned back home.
The phrase "border security loopholes" is somewhat off-target; but on the assumption that the President means our insane rules on asylum, that's good sense. Of course the whole crazy system needs to be overhauled by legislation in Congress.
Anyone that pays attention now understands the game being played down there. Juanita pays a sum of money to the coyotes, memorizes a sob story they feed her, rounds up her kids — or hires someone else's from the coyotes — treks north to our border, presents herself to border patrol, or to immigration officers at a port of entry, regurgitates the sob story, lingers in detention a few days being interviewed and signing forms, then gets a ride to the nearest big-city bus depot. She's in, and will never be deported.
That's the system that needs overhauling. It's absurd for a rich country that's a near neighbor to a passel of poor countries to run a system like that. If the President really has asked Congress for legislation to overhaul this nonsense, he's done a good thing.
03 — Wall obsession: the negatives. And then of course the Wall. The tussle over Congressional appropriation to fund the Wall is what has shut down the federal government — or at least, some not-very-consequential part of the government.
Yes, for sure we need a border wall, though an Israeli-style fence would do just as well as a concrete berm. It won't do anything about Juanita and those kids, though. She doesn't have to trek through the desert. She can show up at a point of entry with her sob story.
There are some downsides to that for her. She'll get finger-printed and ankle-braceleted, and given a court appearance date. Those aren't much of a deterrent, though.
If Juanita doesn't commit a felony the finger-prints will go un-referenced. I went to a talk by Todd Bensman, who worked intelligence at the Texas border. A regular chore for workers at those big-city bus stations, he told us, is sweeping up the piles of ankle bracelets illegals cut off as soon as they get there. Court appearance? Yeah, right.
And as I keep complaining, at peril of being crossed off Ann Coulter's Christmas-card list, the argy-bargy over the Wall is crowding out other issues that need addressing.
For example: It's now routine, when you see a talking-head confrontation on TV over illegal immigration, it's routine for the talking head on the open-borders side to say: "Yeah, but you know, most illegal aliens …" he actually says something like "undocumented migrants," of course, "… most of them don't come over the border. They fly in and then overstay their visas."
When the confrontation reaches that point I jump to my feet and yell at the TV screen: "ASK HIM! GO ON, ASK HIM!" What I want is for the guy on our side to come back with: "Is that so? Do you have any proposals to deal with that? Has your party in Congress moved any legislation to fix the visa-overstay problem?"
For some reason they never do. I've seen Tucker Carlson hit with that talking point a couple of times, and he didn't ask the question I want asked. If visa overstays are such a big part of our illegal immigration problem, why doesn't Congress address them?
And are they, in fact, such a big part? For sure they must be some part. Overstaying a visa is awfully easy to do. Er, I have done it. However, given that we don't know the number of illegal aliens here even to the nearest ten million, estimates of the proportion who are visa overstayers should be regarded with strong skepticism.
Whatever: As much as we need a wall, the obsession over it is clouding the minds of our talking heads, preventing them from asking the questions they should ask on our behalf.
It's also leading the President off in some dangerous directions. He's been muttering about declaring a National Emergency, for example. Well, he has the power; but that's one of those nuclear options that set a bad precedent for future administrations.
Tens of thousands of Juanitas and their kids settling here uninvited every month, is a problem; tens of thousands of pounds of narcotics being smuggled in every month is a problem; unknown numbers of Muslim terrorists sneaking in is a problem; but these are normal-scale national problems that a competent government ought to be able to solve without going to DEFCON 1 and calling up the reserves. They aren't World War Three.
Declaring normal-scale problems to be National Emergencies just defines emergencies down. Ten years on President Gavin Newsom will be declaring a National Emergency because NASA doesn't have enough transgender astronauts.
04 — The Chuck and Nancy show. The transcript of Democrats' response to the President's speech, the response by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, was the usual predictable blather about of course they favor strong border security, but the Wall would be, quote from Schumer, "ineffective and unnecessary."
We got the tugs at our heart-strings from Nancy and Chuck, too. Quote from Nancy: "The women and children at the border are not a security threat," end quote. I agree, they're not; but they are an insult to our laws and our sovereignty, an insult that a nation of proud patriots should not tolerate.
I found it hard to concentrate on the words Nancy and Chuck were emitting, though, once I'd seen the pictures of them as they'd appeared on TV. There was some merciless coverage of those pictures on Twitter, and I'm not surprised.
Shakespeare told us that there is no art to find the mind's construction in the face. I've never been totally on board with the Bard about that. To be sure, none of us can help the way we look; and to be equally sure, I'm no oil painting. Chuck and Nancy, though, are out on the tails of some bell curves, appearance-wise, and it's hard not to draw conclusions.
Chuck Schumer is, in his appearance, the precise Platonic ideal of a shyster attorney, the guy who drags out your civil action much further than you wanted it to go and ends up walking away with a good part of your life savings. He just looks like that. OK, it's not fair, but he does. Doesn't he?
Nancy Pelosi has a crazy face; the kind of face that, if you see it coming towards you along the street, you get a strong urge to cross to the other side. The kind that, if you have one of those jobs where you have to deal with the general public — serving coffee at Starbucks, perhaps — and a customer with that face shows up across the counter, you instinctively think: "Uh-oh, this could be trouble."
Again, that's all very unfair; but the Twitter threads tell me I'm not alone in my impressions. Can't the Democrats come up with Congressional leaders who look more … normal? They certainly have them: Tim Kaine's a normal-looking guy; Cheri Bustos isn't scary — quite attractive, actually. I wouldn't vote for either of them; but their physiognomy doesn't stir any negative instincts in me.
Again, this is all very unfair, and possibly Shakespeare was right. If the Chuck and Nancy show was a pilot for an actual show, though, with a scheduled run through the TV season, I feel sure the suits would have cancelled it by now.
05 — The Derbs buy education for illegal aliens. My own home town of Huntington, Long Island was the focus of a big news story on illegal immigration the other day. I mean big in wordage and journalistic prominence, not big in importance. It ran as a lead feature in the New York Times Sunday magazine, December 30th.
Headline: How a Crackdown on MS-13 Caught Up Innocent High School Students. Sub-heading: The Trump administration went after gang members — and instead destroyed the American dreams of immigrant teenagers around the country.
The story concerns Alex, a lad from Honduras. Alex's father, Viktor, snuck across the border in 2010 and settled in Huntington. He's an illegal alien. He got work here and sent money back to his family. The money attracted gangs back in Honduras, and that put the family in danger. Gangs mugged Alex's mother, harassed Alex, and shot his uncle dead, the story tells us.
Either that's true, in which case it tells us that these remittances are driving crime and violence in Central America; or it's just a sob story Alex was coached in by the coyotes. Form your own judgment about the relative probabilites.
In 2015 Alex's dad in Huntington paid $4,000 to coyotes to bring Alex, then aged 17, to our southern border. Alex presented himself at a border checkpoint, told his tale, and asked for asylum. He was released and joined his dad — an illegal alien, remember — in Huntington.
He enrolled in Huntington High School, the same school my kids attended, the school I pay for out of my property taxes. He was a 17-year-old freshman, which apparently is OK with the authorities here.
Then — sinister drum roll here — Donald Trump got elected President and Jeff Sessions became Attorney General. Long Island has for years been plagued with Central American youth gangs. There have been many murders, mostly of teenagers. Jeff —bless him! — took matters in hand and there was a clampdown on any kind of gang activity in our schools.
Alex got caught up in this. Whether he actually was in a gang is hard to tell. Gang membership isn't a clear line. Quote from the Times, which of course is doing its best to stir our sympathies for this lad:
He had grown close to a group of friends in his homeroom who showed off their Central American pride by dressing in the colors of their home countries' flags. They tagged themselves in group Facebook photos with the telephone calling codes for their home countries — 503 for El Salvador, 502 for Guatemala and 504 for Honduras.
Way to deflect any suspicion of gang affiliations, guys!
Alex was suspended in May 2017 and arrested the following month. He'd originally been waved in to the U.S.A. as an unaccompanied minor, which in immigration law means under age eighteen. Since Alex was now eighteen — or possibly nineteen, it's not clear — Alex's appeals were rejected and he was deported back to Honduras in July last year.
His dad, still in Huntington, and still an illegal alien, hired another coyote to get Alex back out. This time Alex was caught trying to cross the border. He was arrested and re-deported. He now has a criminal record and a 20-year ban on re-entry.
I've covered that little tear-jerker at some length not just because it concerns my home town, but also because, (a) it sheds light on what's actually going on with these illegal aliens from Central America, and (b) because of the way the New York Times presents the story to readers, with Alex as some kind of tragic hero that those readers would naturally sympathize with.
It's heartening to see that reader comments on the story at the New York Times website include many that don't swallow the Times's propaganda line. An encouraging number want to know why Alex's dad hasn't been deported, which I'd also like to be told.
I urge you to read the whole story if you can find it, for the full flavor of long-form open-borders propaganda at its most sophisticated. There's a note attached to it saying: "This article is a collaboration between The Times and ProPublica, the independent nonprofit investigative-journalism organization." It might as well say "My name is George Soros, and I approve of this message."
I will only lodge a small protest at the Times having written up Huntington as some kind of Atlantic-coast Malibu. Sure, we have some rich doctors and lawyers up there by the water. We have a ghetto, too, though, down by the railroad station. My Huntington neighbors are schoolteachers, middle managers, retired engineers, small contractors, and such.
We're a pretty nice crowd, hard-working and hospitable, but not, to judge from conversations I've had, much thrilled at paying sky-high property taxes to educate 20-year-old foreign scofflaws in our schools, gang-affiliated or otherwise.
06 — Miscellany. The podcast's been all-immigration up to this point, listeners. I won't apologize for that. We're a National Question website and immigration commentary is much of what we do.
I like to add some variety, though; so here, gathered up in our closing miscellany, are some non-immigration items.
Imprimis: Concerning my promotion last week of CANZUK, the proposed free-trade and free-movement area comprised of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K., a listener wanted to know why I, or actually the organizers of CANZUK, left out Ireland.
I can't speak for the organizers but I can confess, as an Englishman born, that there is a sort of unconscious assumption among English people that the presence of Celts in the British Isles is some sort of cosmic error.
That assumption was given musical voice sixty years ago by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann in their "Song of Patriotic Prejudice," which you can easily find on YouTube.
Item: Concerning that same segment last week, I credited my friend and former colleague John O'Sullivan with coining the term "Anglosphere," giving us Anglo-Saxon Supremacists a handy hook to hang our deplorable racism on.
As it happens I was in John's company last week: he was in fact the friend I had dinner with when I should have been watching the President's speech. I mentioned having credited him with "Anglosphere." John corrected me: to the best of his knowledge, he said, the word was coined by novelist Neal Stephenson.
I should have know that. I've read Stephenson's novels (and reviewed at least two of them), but had forgotten "Anglosphere."
Well, you can add this to the list. Headline, from an Australian science website: Earth's magnetic pole is on the move, fast. And we don't know why.
Our planet, because of all the molten metal sloshing around under its crust, is a humongous magnet. Like any other magnet, it has a north pole and a south pole. They don't line up with the actual geographic poles, but they're not far from them. They wander around considerably, in fact; historically, at about ten miles an hour.
Lately the north magnetic pole's been picking up speed, zipping across from Canada to Siberia at more like thirty miles an hour.
What does this mean? Beats me. Given that it's Siberia that it's heading towards, though, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to learn that Vladimir Putin's behind it somehow.
So we now have a new party game: thinking up special events the Vatican squad might get included in the Olympics. The triple genuflect, synchronized Acts of Contrition, the hundred meters confession, the mitre toss, the novenathlon … I'll leave it to listeners to add their own suggestions.
Boris taught Physics at the University of Central Florida. Educated in the U.S.S.R., he was the son of the great Soviet physicist Yakov Zeldovich. He was a supporter of VDARE.com, an occasional correspondent of mine, and a frequent commenter at Dissident Right websites like Steve Sailer's, usually under the pseudonym "Florida Resident."
I had a rather puzzling email from Boris in November 2017, then nothing for several months. He must have been stricken with something serious to die over a year later. I wish I had tried to follow up with his family. My apologies to them, and to him. Rest in peace, Boris.
The robot lander is called Chang'e 4, Chang'e being the name of the entire ChiCom lunar exploration program. In Chinese folk mythology Chang'e is the Goddess of the Moon. She stole the Elixir of Life and was banished to the Moon as a result.
There's a very famous poem about Chang'e by the 9th-century poet Li Shangyin. Mrs Derbyshire has been kind enough to record a reading of it for us.
She's going to read it in Chinese, of course. I'll preface her reading with an English translation. I attempted one myself; but Li Shangyin is notoriously untranslatable. Here's the best effort I could find, by the mid-20th-century American poet Witter Bynner. "The River of Heaven" is the Milky Way.
To the Moon Goddess
Now that I've primed you, here's Mrs Derb.
Item: Another one on China.
George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is of course a regular standby when we want to make some point about the soft totalitarianism of modern Western society.
Remember that the novel's hero, Winston Smith, has a day job at the Ministry of Truth "correcting" archive coverage of past events to make them comply with today's party line. The party wants to erase all memory of things that contradict the line.
Our own ideological authorities do something similar, as best they can in our somewhat freer system. There will soon be no-one who remembers that there was ever such a movie as Gone with the Wind. At any rate, the authorities hope so.
China's much closer to the Orwellian ideal. Young Chinese people, for example, know nothing about the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising. There is no mention of it in books, newspapers, magazines, or broadcast media. Talking about it publicly is dangerous. So is texting, blogging, or emailing about it.
There's a catch to that, though. To keep the internet purged clean of any forbidden references, the ChiComs employ an army of censors; and in order for them to do their job, they have to know what to look for. That is, they have to be taught stuff that no-one's supposed to know!
The January 2nd New York Times ran a story about these East Asian Winston Smiths. Reading it, you realise all over again what a genius Orwell was. You also find yourself wondering about our own army of Winston Smiths laboring away at Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Item: Yet another note on China. Filling out the Proust Questionnaire in my December Diary, when I got to the question, "Which living person do you most admire?" I replied "Wang Bingzhang." A link there led to a description of Wang, a Chinese dissident, currently in the eighteenth year of a life sentence.
I interviewed Wang for the London Spectator back in 1989. I got to know him quite well.
He is now over seventy, and I'm told is in declining health. Conditions at his jail are of course miserable.
It seems likely we shall soon lose Wang Bingzhang. Then China will have lost a patriot, and the rest of us will have lost a fearless champion of civilized government and human liberty.
07 — Signoff. That's all for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; and while people like myself bandy around the word "dissident" from the comfort of warm, well-stocked homes, spare a thought for real dissidents like Wang Bingzhang, suffering and dying in the dungeons of totalitarianism.
OK, some signout music. Tuesday this week was of course the birthday of Elvis Presley. Longtime Radio Derb listeners will know my favorite; and if you want to tell me this is not one of the great pop recordings of all time, all I can say in reply is: don't.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Elvis, "Don't."]