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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 1, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was a fragment of Haydn's Derbyshire March Number One, a change from the Number Two we usually play. I wouldn't have mentioned that except that we are still house-training Basil, our new puppy, so Number Ones and Number Twos are at the front of my mind right now.
So this is your hygienically genial host John Derbyshire with news from and commentary on the passing charivari. Let the bloviating commence!
02 — Democrats debate. I keep getting asked by friends, neighbors, and listeners emailing in whether I've revised my prophecy of last June 21st that Trump will lose this year's election. Answer: No, I haven't. I still think he'll lose. All the factors I've laid out before still apply.
Trump won in 2016 by the merest whisker. Even very slight demographic shifts could doom him. Those shifts have happened. He did well among older white Americans; there are fewer of those now than four years ago. At the other end of the voter age pyramid, woke Millennials have come onto the voter rolls, their heads crammed by our schools, colleges, and social media manipulators with Diversity and Inclusion flapdoodle and anti-Trump propaganda.
The media, blindsided and confused by Trump's unexpected ascent in 2016, have had three years to get their act together. They'll be running a sophisticated and ruthless campaign against him this time.
And I'm still having trouble imagining that 2016 Hillary voter who'll be changing his vote to Trump this year. Does such a person actually exist, anywhere in the Republic? I just can't summon up an image …
After Tuesday's Democratic candidates debate in Iowa, I'm more sure than ever that we shall lose in November. Was that debate dull, or what? Even John Podhoretz, who has way more interest in retail politics than I have, declared it, quote: "the dullest major political event in years," end quote. If you don't mind, in fact, I can't resist quoting J-Pod's opening paragraph, slightly edited. Quote:
When the Democratic debate started Tuesday night, I was young, carefree, merry. Two hours later, when it ended, I was praying to the Almighty for a swift end to my suffering … All the life had been sucked out of my body.
I found myself thinking that was kind of the point. It's we Republicans that are the Stupid Party, remember. The Democratic Party is not stupid. The people running things over there know what they have to do to win.
First thing they have to do is, purge the overt craziness out of their candidates bench. So no more Cory Booker with his weird swiveling eyeballs; no more Beto O'Rourke skateboarding onto the stage; no more Kamala Harris telling us we should empty out the jails; no more Marianne Williamson offering to meet us on the field of love.
Things on the Democratic side had gotten too weird. A two hour bore-a-thon was just the ticket to get their Presidential campaign back on course. So that's what we got.
The weirdness component of the Democratic field has been shrunk down to just Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the least weird of the weird. The party bosses are dealing with them one at a time: first Bernie, who with all his money and sturdy poll numbers is the bigger threat. Then, when Bernie has been seen off, they'll turn on Warren. You heard it here first.
The objective here is a Presidential ticket that looks like a safe pair of hands: capable, experienced, dull. It's Trump who's the crazy one, you see? Had enough of craziness? Vote Democrat, let's get things back to normal! That will be the pitch.
Hold on a minute: "safe pair of hands" — haven't I used that phrase before in this context? Hold on, let me check. [Keyboard clicking sound.] Yep, sure enough: March 29th last year, quote from self:
The 58-year-old Senator from Minnesota is being talked up, for example by The Economist, as a safe pair of hands with good electability. Quote from them [inner quote]: "In 2018, when she was re-elected as one of Minnesota's senators, she performed vastly better in the state than Hillary Clinton did two years earlier … Mrs Klobuchar is the opponent Mr Trump would least like to face." [End inner quote.]
I think a Biden-Klobuchar ticket would be the sweet spot for the Democrats in November. It's dull as all get-out — the anti-weird ticket. And Senator Klobuchar is a gyno-American — diversity!
There is no way Trump can survive opposition as dull and diverse as that.
03 — The Guest-Workers' President. And then there's Trump Disappointment Syndrome. I read the blogs, the comment threads and Twitter. It's not just me. A lot of Trump's 2016 voters, if not exactly disgruntled, are far from being gruntled.
Let's face it, our guy is soft as wet putty, easy meat for the Chamber of Commerce shills. A year ago this weekend he was tweeting out to reassure H-1B guest workers that, tweet:
Changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship.
My reaction to that at the time was: Yo, Mr President, those are not your voters, those are not your supporters. Those are the people being hired in as cheap labor to take your supporters' jobs. However long it took you to compose and send out that tweet, that's time away from what you should be doing: addressing American voters.
(That was my main reaction. My secondary reaction was weary dismay that Trump doesn't know where the hyphen goes in "H-1B." For crying out loud, man, you're the President. How are you going to control it if you can't even spell it?)
A great many other commentators reacted the same way to Trump's positioning himself as the Guest-Workers' President. Did he learn anything from those reactions?
Not a thing. Here he was a year later, just last Friday, talking to Laura Ingraham on the same topic. In case you didn't catch it, here's the relevant part.
A couple of things to be said about that. There's a chicken-and-egg issue with the supply of tech workers. If we bring in a great mass of foreigners to do software development, that zone of employment becomes foreignized. That has two negative consequences:
Those two points mean that smart, ambitious young Americans don't find a career in IT appealing. They go for the law degree or the MBA — lines of work that have some prestige. Foreignization isn't the solution to a shortage of willing American IT workers; it's the cause of it.
And yes, it keeps salaries depressed. Laura hit the main point: If companies were as desperate for tech workers as the President claimed, salaries would be soaring. They're not.
Even if a politician like Trump was aware of these niceties, the thought of a complete moratorium on guest workers might deter him. Suppose it went into effect: No more H visas or OPTs, current holders of guest-worker visas to return home when their visas expire. Wouldn't that be like cutting off the oxygen supply, leaving IT gasping as its stored reservoirs of talent dwindle?
Sure, it might be just a short-term effect that would correct itself. A short-term negative effect can lose you an election, though.
I'd urge the President to try thinking long-term for a change. It wouldn't have to be that long-term. Young Americans would soon rise to the challenge, as they saw salaries going through the roof. Most IT work is not that difficult; a smart kid can learn IT skills in a few weeks. There are twentysomethings out in Silicon Valley right now making six-digit salaries who never went to college. Our skills economy is a lot more flexible than Trump seems to think.
Cast down your bucket where you are, Mr President.
04 — Taiwan's election. Last Saturday, January 11th, there was an election in Taiwan.
This looms a bit larger for me than for the average pundit just because my first-ever full-length column for an internet magazine was about a previous Taiwan election. That was in March 2000, almost twenty years ago. I'd been publishing in print outlets for many years before that, but the Taiwan election piece was my first for the internet.
Well, that's just personal. How did last week's election go, and what does it mean for them, for China, and for us?
In a nutshell: it was a triumph for representative democracy, a poke in the eye for the ChiComs, and nothing much to us unless President Trump decides to pull Taiwan into his larger project of overhauling our China trade policy, which he might.
Winner of the election, and so going into another term as President of Taiwan, was 63-year-old Ms Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party, the DPP. I explained the positions of the two big Taiwan political parties back in July of 2016, after returning from a trip to the place. Quote from myself:
The young Saint Augustine asked the Lord to give him chastity and continence, "but not yet" (sed noli modo). Taiwan's approach to its National Question is Augustinian in that sense.
That was 2016, so this year on Taiwan's calendar is Year 109.
So Ms Tsai's party is the one favoring independence — but not yet!
Her victory on Saturday was something close to a landslide. She got more than eight million votes, the most any candidate has achieved since direct presidential elections began in 1996. That was 57 percent of the vote against 39 percent for her opponent.
Turnout was 75 percent, which I believe was also a record. Not only a record for Taiwan, in fact, but a figure that American politicians can only dream of. Turnout in our Presidential elections runs 50-60 percent. The last U.S. President to break 70 percent was Bill McKinley in 1900.
And not only did Ms Tsai hold on to the presidency, her party kept control of Taiwan's parliament, in defiance of pollsters' forecasts.
So this was a fired-up electorate who knew what they wanted. What had fired them up, and why did they so want the DPP?
What had fired them up was, in short, Hong Kong. Ever since the British handed over Hong Kong in 1997, the ChiComs have been courting Taiwan with the promise of "One country, two systems," the formula they'd declared for Hong Kong. Seeing how unhappy Hong Kongers are with the way that formula turned out for them, the Taiwanese are more than ever determined not to be seduced.
The DPP is their choice just because it's the less likely of the two main parties to buckle under to ChiCom threats. Also, in fairness to Ms Tsai, about whom I said unflattering things in 2016, because she's done a pretty good job. The economy's picked up, social welfare's improved, and ties with America have been strengthened.
The ChiComs have to be mad as hell about all this. Goodness knows what Xi Jinping's generals are telling him. At a conference in Peking last month organized by one of the ChiCom newspapers, a retired general, Wang Hongguang, opined ominously that, quote: "The window for peaceful reunification is closing." End quote.
Let's hope Xi Jinping puts up stiffer resistance to his Joint Chiefs than Donald Trump does to his.
05 — Disparate Impact Theory is poison. Last week's item about jaywalkers in New York City brought in some emails.
In case you missed it, the item referred to complaints that city cops issue jaywalking tickets disproportionately to Sun People, i.e. blacks and Latinos. Sun People are only 55 percent of New Yorkers, but they get 90 percent of tickets for jaywalking. Obviously New York cops are practicing flagrant racial discrimination.
A listener with long experience working in the city's courtrooms tells me that summonses are only issued to those who run but can be caught in a foot pursuit. So the statistics factor in the obedience of perps and the relative athleticism of perps and cops. Not sure how that plays out.
Another listener notes that the hateful racism on display in the issuance of jaywalking tickets is also seen in summonses for fare evasion in the city subway system. New York State's Attorney General, a black female radical, wants police to stop enforcing the law on fare-beating.
Meanwhile there have been ructions in one of the city's school districts. The New York City Schools Chancellor is another far-left radical, a Gringo-hating Latino supremacist named Richard Carranza. Noticing that students being disciplined for misbehavior in city schools were disproportionately Sun People, Carranza has ordered principals to stop traditional disciplinary procedures in favor of "restorative justice."
Just a word about that. If you haven't heard this phrase "restorative justice," it's the name of a trendy, feminized approach to dealing with misbehavior, not just in schools but in any kind of institutionalized setting — courts and prisons, for example. The main idea is that instead of the misbehaving person being slapped with some penalty, they sit around in a group with their victim, witnesses to the misbehavior, authority figures, and psychologists, and everyone talks at length about their feelings, wo wo wo feelings.
The usefulness of "restorative justice" as a way of preserving order has not stood up to rigorous research, and by comparison with traditional punitive approaches it wastes enormous amounts of everyone's time; but Progressives love it anyway.
New York City public-school parents, not so much. When Chancellor Carranza held a town hall meeting at a New York middle school on Thursday last, he was jeered off the stage by parents furious at the lack of discipline in their kids' schools. Quote from the New York Post report, quote:
After several unsuccessful attempts to quiet the crowd, Carranza rose and exited the stage as the hooting continued.
The common thread to all these stories is the phrase "disparate impact." If Sun People are disproportionately being given tickets for jaywalking, or subway fare-beating, or Sun People schoolkids are being disproportionately punished for misbehavior, our ruling ideology insists that the only possible explanation can be malice on the part of Ice People — that's whites and Asians — towards Sun People. The malice might be conscious or unconscious; but it is what causes the disproportion in punishments.
This is all in accord with the larger notion of Disparate Impact. Wherever there is a disproportion of Sun People or other favored groups suffering negative outcomes in any situation — mortgage lending, for example — a wrong has been done, and action must be taken to right that wrong.
Disparate Impact Theory is a key principle in our ruling ideology. It has the authority of, for example, the U.S. Supreme Court.
Going back to my original examples; you might think that these disproportions could possibly be caused by Sun People actually jaywalking, turnstile-jumping, or acting up in class more than Ice People. If you do think that, you'd be wise to keep quiet about it. That's crimethink.
And please note that it's still crimethink even if you are a race denialist. Speaking as a race realist, I assume that Sun People do misbehave more than Ice People, and that the reasons are ultimately biological. You can disagree with me on that bit about reasons and still be a thought criminal, though. If you think that Sun People truly do misbehave more, but for non-biological reasons, you're still a thought criminal.
Heather Mac Donald, for example, who has written extensively and scathingly about Disparate Impact Theory is not a race realist. She's a race denialist. She puts the high levels of misbehavior among Sun People down to, quote from her, "family dysfunction and lack of socialization." That doesn't get her off the hook. Heather is a thought criminal anyway: ask any Progressive.
Disparate Impact Theory is one of the stupidest and least defensible components of our ruling ideology. In its application to mortgage lending, where lenders were forced to abandon rational credit standards so that Sun People applicants were not disproportionately rejected for home loans, it contributed mightily to the housing bust and the subsequent great recession of twelve years ago.
When some legal scholar is coming up for consideration as a Supreme Court justice, the phrase "litmus test" is usually heard at some point, most likely in relation to the abortion issue. Here would be my litmus test question for someone in that position. Question: "What part, if any, do you think the notion of Disparate Impact should play in our nation's jurisprudence?"
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just a footnote to the segment about Disparate Impact.
Looking up that quote from Heather Mac Donald, I got to reading some of her other pieces at the City Journal website. She's a very good writer; and her pieces are terrifically well-researched.
Well, I was reading an article Heather posted last September. The House Judiciary Committee had held a hearing on the policing of black neighborhoods. Heather has written a book with the title Are Cops Racist? so reasonably enough she was invited to address the Committee, one of the two witnesses called by the Republican minority on the Committee.
It was the penultimate paragraph of Heather's article that got my attention. Edited quote:
The Republicans on the committee failed to push back against this narrative of systemic police bias … The only way to dislodge the "endemic racism" argument is to challenge its factual basis directly. I was the only witness at the hearing with the ability to do so, but the Republicans asked me not one question. This is not a matter of personal ego but rather of the public battle of ideas.
That, it seems to me, goes right to the heart of the utter uselessness of the Republican Party. In what Heather calls "the public battle of ideas," when hostilities get anywhere near the subject of race, Republicans throw down their weapons and scamper from the field as fast as they can scamper.
What gutless cowards Republicans are!
You'll recall from your history lessons that West Virginia broke away from the rest of Virginia at the very beginning of the Civil War and was actually admitted to the Union two years later. The rest of Virginia went with the Confederacy.
(Some impertinent people have wondered why, if it was lawful for West Virginia to secede from Virginia, it was not lawful for the Confederate States to secede from the Union … but we'll leave that discussion to another time.)
Now, 160 years later, West Virginia has changed much less than Virginia has. It's one of the whitest states in the Union: only 3.4 percent black, 1.2 percent Latino at the last census. On Second Amendment issues it is one of the freest states, with almost no special permits required for any kind of firearm.
Virginia, though, has changed a lot. The northern part has been swallowed up in Greater Washington, D.C. — filled with government people and Hispanic immigrants to mow their lawns, clean their pools, and mind their kids. The southeastern part is heavily black — up to 57 percent in Sussex County, south of Richmond. The government folk are all gentry liberals, of course, and the rest of these parts are Democratic by default.
Meanwhile the western counties of Virginia, up against the border with West Virginia, remain conservative and white. Highland County, up there in the Appalachians, is 99.6 percent white … although that's in a total population of only 2,300, which means there are just nine blacks in Highland County.
Now, Paul Kersey tells us, with all those liberals, blacks, and immigrants in eastern Virginia turning the state blue and pushing for gun control, those western counties are declaring themselves Second Amendment sanctuary jurisdictions, where gun laws applying to the rest of Virginia will not be enforced.
That has prompted some legislators in the state of West Virginia to suggest that these counties secede and join their state.
I don't know if anything will come of this, but I love the idea. I don't see why the borders of our states should be cast in stone. Adjustments here and there would make a lot of sense. This particular one certainly would.
Item: Some sheep news. In the New Forest national park in southern England, sheep have been found ritually killed, left in the road, their bodies marked with Satanic symbols. Police suspect some kind of cult. They have stepped up patrols in the forest.
The Daily Mail reports that one sheep had been slit right open and its entrails removed. Ewe!
Item: Yet more sheep news. A company in New Zealand will soon release facial recognition software for sheep. The software has been developed by a company in Dunedin, in the South Island of New Zealand, and will be ready as a prototype sometime this year, we are told.
There is of course no species of humor as low and juvenile as jokes about New Zealanders and their sheep. Rest assured, listeners; Radio Derb does not traffic in such deplorable smut. I can't help wondering, though, whether facial recognition is really the big market opportunity down there …
07 — Signoff. That's all for this week, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, and be sure to tune in next week for Radio Derb's Sino-Caledonian special. Yes: Next Saturday, January 25th, is Chinese New Year and also Burns Night. And you thought the holiday season was over …
Some of it, of course, is over. New Year — our New Year — is dwindling fast in the rear-view mirror. People had a lot of fun welcoming in 2020, though, nowhere more so than in Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan. That nation's state TV network broadcast a showbiz spectacular that had feet tapping and booties shaking all over Central Asia.
Here to play us out is just the merest snippet from the fun. Playing the keyboard here is none other than Turkmenistan's fun-loving leader and longtime friend of Radio Derb, the infinitely talented President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. His voice is also one of those joining in the chorus at the end. Long live President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov! Long live the noble republic of Turkmenistan!
[Music clip: Turkmenistan TV New Year special.]