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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, electronic piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your supersymmetrically genial host John Derbyshire.
An exciting week in politics. Super Tuesday gave Joe Biden a night to remember — assuming, as several unkind observers observed, assuming Joe can remember it. Let's start with that.
02 — Super Tuesday, befores and afters. Yes, that sure was a fun week in politics.
Super Tuesday came and went, preceded by South Bend Sunday and Minnesota Monday. Those were the days when Peter Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, respectively, ended their Presidential bids and endorsed Joe Biden to give Joltin' Joe a clear run at Bernie Sanders.
That's what a couple of phone calls can do. Phone calls, I mean, from the Party Center to Peter and Amy, Tom Perez snarling down the line, quote: "Step aside right now or kiss goodbye to your chance of a cabinet post, never mind the Veep slot. Right now!"
Radio Derb was sorry to see them go. I was sorry in Ms Klobuchar's case because I have been promoting her prospects since March last year. So much for my powers of prognostication, not that any other pundits have been doing much better.
So, a swing and a miss by Radio Derb on Amy … or was it? Here I was speaking on January 17th:
[Clip: 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!]
So don't count the lady out yet.
Peter Buttigieg's departure was less wounding to my pride, as I never thought he had much of a chance. Still I'm sorry to see him go. I'd been hoping he'd stay in the field long enough until at some point he ranked absolutely last in some poll or primary, just to give me the opportunity to say: "Peter Buttigieg is bringing up the rear." Now I'll have to wait until 2024.
Those were political events preceding Super Tuesday. The political events that followed it were Megabucks Wednesday and Tomahawk Thursday. Wednesday was when Michael Bloomberg dropped out; Thursday Elizabeth Warren did likewise.
There were differences of style. Bloomie, like Buttigieg and Klobuchar, endorsed Joe Biden, putting Bloomberg nicely squared away for the Treasury Secretary slot in Biden's cabinet.
Bloomie's Super Tuesday performance was so bad it was comical. The only place he won was American Samoa, population 55,000. Bloomie could have bought every one of them a house, and perhaps he did. At any rate, he got the enthusiastic endorsement of the territory's leader, Chief Fa'alagiga Nina Tua-au Glaude.
Chief Glaude — or Chief Fa'alagiga, however the names work down there — is one of those mysterious persons, like Judge James Burke, to whose name Google Images returns no results at all. Possibly she fears that if someone takes a picture of her, the camera will steal her soul. Or perhaps she doesn't exist. Perhaps she is a fictional creation of the Bloomberg media empire, so he can boast of having gathered at least one enthusiastic endorsement.
Fans of our political system have been claiming that Bloomie's campaign proves that money isn't all that important in politics after all. They were making the same claim in 2016, when Mrs Clinton spent way more than Donald Trump, but still lost.
Eh, maybe. I think it's more likely that having scads of money to spend on your campaign is necessary, but not sufficient. You need other things, too: a good feeling for political strategy, a message lots of voters want to hear that they haven't heard from other candidates, some minimal debating skills, and so on.
You want to talk money in politics? Let me tell you: For 25 years I've been hanging out with people who know retail politics really well — seasoned reporters, consultants, actual politicians, and such. I can report from hearing many, many of their conversations about campaigns at every level, from Mayor of Podunk up through state government and congressional races — I can report that it is not at all unusual, not at all unusual, to hear a candidate's name tagged with that of some billionaire supporter, like the epithet attached to the name of a Homeric hero.
"Oh, So-and-So? Well, yeah, he's got the Singer money …"
"Of course, you know, Whats-his-Name's got the Adelson money behind him …"
That kind of thing is the everyday currency of talk among political professionals. So okay, Mrs Clinton's out-spending Trump didn't get her the Presidency, and Michael Bloomberg's out-spending the known universe didn't get him the Democratic nomination; but … money in politics? Oh yeah.
And finally, Elizabeth Warren. Ms Warren ended her campaign with, if you can believe it, ill grace, declining to endorse Joe Biden or anyone else. She was shut out in all 14 state primaries on Super Tuesday, including her own Massachusetts, where she placed third.
The lady nurses heap plenty resentment about this. Why does she think she did so badly? It-was-sexism, it-was-sexism, it-was-sexism … Quote, from Boston station WBUR:
"If you say, 'Yeah, there was sexism in this race,' everyone says, 'Whiner!'" Warren told reporters outside her Cambridge home this afternoon. "And if you say, 'No, there was no sexism,' about a bazillion women think, 'What planet do you live on?' I promise you this: I will have a lot more to say on that subject later on," Warren said.
We can't wait.
Forthcoming events: This Tuesday, six states for 352 delegates; March 17th, four states with 577 delegates.
So: How are things shaping up for November after all this turmoil? Next segment but one.
03 — Media innumeracy. Just a footnote to my comments there about money in politics.
Thursday evening MSNBC host Brian Williams was discussing this precise topic with Mara Gay, who sits on the New York Times editorial board. Over to them.
[Clip: Williams: Do you see it as a possibility if he wants to spend a billion bucks beating this guy, he could do it?
Up on the TV screen goes the image of a tweet from someone named Mekita Rivas. The tweet reads, quote:
Bloomberg spent $500 million on ads. The U.S. population is 327 million. He could have given each American $1 million and still have money left over. I feel like a $1 million check would be life-changing for most people. Yet he wasted it all on ads and STILL LOST.
Williams and his interviewee continue:
[Clip: Williams: When I read it, er, tonight on social media, it kind of all became clear. Bloomberg spent 500 million on ads, U.S. population 327 million — don't tell us if you're ahead of us on the math — he could've given each American one million dollars and have had lunch money left over. It's an incredible way of putting it.
Now, I have made arithmetical slips in public, and my usual reaction to seeing other people do so is: "There but for the grace of God go I." This one, though, is far beyond a mere slip: It is shriekingly innumerate. If you don't know that giving a million dollars to each of some millions of people is going to cost you trillions, you are not safe to be left alone around numbers.
When two of you, both earning far more than I do, agree on the blunder; and prepare a TV segment with the image of a tweet making the blunder, all without noticing anything amiss … I'm sorry, but that's disgraceful.
Enoch Powell famously remarked, speaking of mass immigration, that "numbers are of the essence." Yes, they are. They are the essence of a great many social issues.
If you don't have a basic instinctive feel for numbers — and if you confuse millions with trillions, you don't — you should not be doing public commentary, or sitting on the editorial board of a prestigious newspaper, or preparing prime-time political commentary shows for the screen.
Somebody here needs firing.
04 — Trump is toast. Having confessed my own failures of prognostication back there, I offer no promises, only informed, considered guesses.
I'm going to assume, as everyone else is assuming since Super Tuesday, that the November contest will be Trump-Biden. How will it go?
Let me just say again that I'm a Trump voter. I'll be voting for him in November, unless the Democrats nominate Kris Kobach. [Laughter]
Trump's made some positive movement on the National Question, documented by my colleagues here at VDARE.com. He's even built some wall on our southern border; and not much of it has so far been blown over by the wind. He's cut regulations, and helped business. The economy looks good.
So I'm for Trump. Still, I do my best to weigh the correlation of forces as objectively as I can. If the answer I come up with makes me unhappy, I report it anyway.
That said, here's my prediction for a Trump-Biden contest in November: Trump is toast.
Most of my reasons are the same as ever.
After Super Tuesday, with the high probability now that Trump will be up against Biden, are all the negative factors stronger, or weaker?
It looks to me like a wash. Sure, you can note some negatives about Biden. He gets confused a lot, and has trouble putting verbs in his sentences. He's a poor debater. He's old: three and a half years older than Trump. He's got unsavory business connections in his past. And his past is a long one, with a paper trail of saying things that, if you said them in public today, would get you hauled off by the Thought Police for re-education.
I doubt any of that matters much. Biden's verbal blunders are no news to anyone at this point. Everyone's gotten used to them. Probably a lot of people find them endearing.
Yes, he's a poor debater, but so is Trump: check out my February 21st commentary on his debate with Mrs Clinton in the 2016 campaign. Unsavory business connections? The name "Trump University" mean anything?
As for that paper trail: A dash of political incorrectness in Joe's past might actually make him more attractive to disgruntled Trump voters. I'm a Trump voter; do I mind political incorrectness? Not at all.
The latest summary of polls at RealClearPolitics goes up to last Saturday. For a Trump-Biden contest it lists eight polls; only one has Trump ahead. The average spread of the eight polls has Biden 5.5 points ahead. That's way better than Mrs Clinton was polling in 2016, and Trump only beat her by a whisker. And Biden's 5.5-point advantage is from before his Super Tuesday boost.
All of that is before allowing for "events, dear boy, events." If this coronavirus pandemic spins out of control, to take just one possibility, the administration will be blamed. Is that fair? No. Would a Biden administration have handled things better? Not likely. It's just natural to blame the people in charge.
So you can tell me you're sad about my predicting a Trump loss, and I'll be sad with you, but you can't tell me I'm being unrealistic.
05 — Our lawless society. If I were advising the Trump people, I'd tell them to lean hard on the law-and-order issue. Increasingly, it seems to me, on several different fronts, we are a lawless society.
Exhibit A: The bail-reform laws passed by the New York State legislature last year. The local news outlets now regularly feature stories about criminals set free under the new rules, who promptly commit new crimes.
Exhibit B: Sanctuary Cities releasing illegal aliens so they can't be deported.
Exhibit C: California's de-criminalizing of theft up to a value of $950. This has generated a rash of flagrant store robberies, gangs of robbers calmly walking into stores, loading up plastic garbage bags with merchandise, then strolling out.
Exhibit D: Political violence. In Eureka, California, a man smashed the windows, stole property, and seems to have attempted arson against a local Republican Party headquarters. He was arrested and spent the night in jail, but then released.
This was the sixth time in two years the office had been vandalized. The attacks are plainly political: anti-Trump slogans were left in some of the attacks, and the local office of the Democratic Party has never been touched. Notwithstanding that, the local police department has dismissed the attacks as "random vandalism."
Exhibit E: Street mobs. In Brooklyn, New York the other day a gang of a dozen or more high-schoolers attacked a lone 15-year-old girl in the street, leaving her badly hurt — badly enough to need hospitalizing. The whole thing was caught on security cameras. When the girl had been kicked unconscious, one of the assailants stole the sneakers from her feet.
One thing you see from all these exhibits is, that law enforcement and the judicial system are now all thoroughly taken over by CultMarx who-whom ideology. Their responses are shaped by who is doing the law-breaking, and to whom they are doing it.
The high-schoolers in that last example were all black, of course. Tiffany Harris and Charles Barry in my bail-reform exhibit, are also black. So are the store robbers in California. The beneficiaries of Sanctuary City policies are of course illegal aliens. The guy who vandalized the GOP office in Eureka is plainly an Antifa nutcase.
Those are all protected, favored groups, who must be dealt with leniently. The laws don't apply to them; at least, nothing like as severely as they apply to the white oppressor class.
How do we respond when a member of the favored groups commits violence against the oppressors? With silence, of course.
Or, if the atrocity is too serious for silence, we twist it around to make it the victims' fault. The most recent instance of this has been the February 26th massacre at Coors brewery in Milwaukee. Anthony Ferrill, a disgruntled black employee, murdered five co-workers, all white. A long news story March 4th at the Washington Post carefully explained that Mr Ferrill was driven to his act by incessant anti-black racism at the plant, including — can you guess? — yes, nooses. Nooses! So those five victims had it coming.
We are fish, and this is the water we swim in. Equality under the law is a fading memory. Mere application of the law against members of favored groups — blacks, illegal aliens, Antifa activists — is frowned on.
This is lawlessness. Law on behalf of favored groups is no law; it's lawlessness. Millions of Americans must be just as fed up with this as I am. There has to be a political opportunity in addressing the issue.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Back in the days when Britain ruled Ireland, Irish juries tended to go easy on Irish defendants charged with offenses against British property or interests. For some reason this was particularly the case in the county of Limerick, in south-western Ireland.
Back around 1900 there was a county judge in Limerick named Richard Adams. He was considered to be a colorful character, and was much quoted. One of his most-quoted remarks was when he dismissed a defendant with the following words, quote:
You have been acquitted by a Limerick jury, and you may now leave the dock without any other stain upon your character.
That came to mind the other day when I was reading this report about court statistics in New York City. The city has five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island.
The Bronx, it turns out, is the best borough in which to be a defendant; Staten Island is the worst. In the last three years Bronx juries convicted only 57 percent of defendants: Staten Island juries convicted 88 percent. For bench trials, where the judge alone renders a verdict, the Bronx convicted 28 percent; Staten Island 83 percent.
What on earth could explain such discrepancies? Well, demographics, possibly. If we separate out Ice People — that's Asians and non-Hispanic whites — from Sun People — blacks and Hispanics — the Bronx is 86.4 percent Sun People, Staten Island only 29.5 percent.
Richard Adams would be right at home here.
You have been acquitted by a Bronx jury, and you may now leave the dock without any other stain upon your character.
Item: I should of course say something about the pesky COVID-19 outbreak. Unfortunately there isn't much to say that I haven't already said. Experts are still all over the place, with Dr Drew Pinsky on Laura Ingraham's show Monday telling us, quote:
It is milder than we thought. The fatality rate is going to drop as we identify more cases.
Meanwhile, at the black-pill end, Greg Cochran is warning about overflowing Intensive Care Units. What's a poor layman to think?
My own thoughts have settled into a calm fatalism. I'm washing my hands a lot, wearing gloves when I go out, carrying a surgical mask just in case someone starts sneezing in my direction, and taking care not to touch my mucous membranes. That aside, I am practicing Defiant Normality.
New Yorkers seem to be doing the same. Last night I went into New York City for a dinner. I rode the Long Island railroad to Queens, then switched to the subway for another half-hour ride to 53rd Street in Manhattan. Then I walked up Lexington Avenue to 75th Street. This was the tail-end of the rush hour, plenty of people about. I did not see one person wearing a face mask.
Item: Greece and Turkey are at loggerheads, by no means for the first time in history. Both countries are members of NATO. The Turks are vexed that their NATO allies aren't helping them to exterminate the Kurds … Oh, sorry, that slipped out. I mean, we aren't helping them fight the Russians in Syria. They are double vexed because Europe hasn't been throwing its borders wide open to Turkish guest workers.
So to get back at the Europeans, the Turks have been rounding up all the non-Turks they can find and shipping them to Turkey's 100-mile border with Greece. The Greeks won't let them in, the Turks won't take them back, so there are now thousands of these non-Turks stuck at the Turkish side of the border.
Some of the non-Turks are refugees from Syria; others are Afghans, Iraqis, and Africans. Some may actually be Turks: There are rumors that Erdoğan has taken the opportunity to empty out his jails and asylums, like Fidel Castro did for the Mariel boatlift.
To judge from the news pictures, practically all of them are able-bodied young men.
This is a Camp of the Saints scenario; and as in that novel, the Europeans are mostly flapping their arms ineffectually. This is 2015 over again, only with bigger numbers.
I must say, I don't really understand why able-bodied young men are ever classified as refugees. Children, women, old people — sure; but young men should stay and fight whatever it is that's making their country a bad place to be.
Will Europe grow a spine and deal with these invasions the way they should, with lethal force? I doubt it. Europe is finished. We can only watch and weep.
Item: One of the biggest black marks against Donald Trump has been his despicable treatment of Jeff Sessions.
You can dispute the rights and wrongs of Sessions recusing himself from the Russia probe, although you can't say anything worse than that he was over-punctilious. He surely wasn't treacherous or duplicitous.
What you can't dispute is that Trump has been conducting a low, mean, spiteful personal vendetta against one of his earliest and most loyal supporters.
This week Trump spat another gob of acid in Jeff Sessions' direction, gloating after Sessions came close second in Tuesday's primary for his old Alabama senate seat. Open-borders RINO Tommy Tuberville came first with 32 percent of the vote; Sessions got 31 percent. There'll be a runoff between the two of them March 31st.
Tweeted Trump, tweet:
This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed Attorney General of the United States and then doesn't have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt.
Surveying our President's life, career, and character the words "wisdom" and "courage" are not the first that come to mind.
Yes, I'll vote for Trump; but nothing can make me like him. Come to think of it: If he endorses Tuberville, I'm not sure I could bring myself to vote for him.
I had a very slight interaction with Dyson some years ago, when I was preparing my book Prime Obsession for the press. He has a walk-on part in the book where I describe him as "a renowned physicist" who, in 1972 "had not yet embarked on his second career as an author of thought-provoking bestsellers about the origins of life and the future of the human race."
I included a photograph of Dyson in the picture "well" at the middle of the book. When you do that, publishing protocols dictate that you check with the subject for permission to use his photograph. I accordingly emailed Dyson at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. I got a very nice email back saying that I was welcome to use the photograph of him in any way I pleased that was not disrespectful. He did not charge me for the rights, as some people do.
Dyson wrote a fine memoir, Disturbing the Universe, which I recommend. Rest in Peace, Sir, and thanks again for the picture.
Item: A very brief footnote to that. I just learned this week that the theory of supersymmetry in modern physics requires that ordinary particles like electrons and positrons all have supersymmetric partners. The supersymmetric partner of a positron is called … a spositron.
A spositron. Say it with care, and write your own jokes.
07 — Signoff. That's all I have, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening.
Sympathy and prayers from Radio Derb to those bereaved, made homeless, or otherwise had their lives disrupted by the terrible tornadoes that struck Tennessee Tuesday morning. For any listeners who want to help those affected, GoFundMe has set up a centralized hub showing all the certified fundraisers. You can find it at gofundme.com/c/act/nashville-tornado. Please help our fellow-citizens if you can.
If you read my February Diary, you'll be up to date on Basil, our newest family member. In Basil's honor, I thought we'd have a canine-themed song to see us out. Here is one of the classics.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Patti Page, "How Much is That Doggie in the Window?"]