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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 1, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your equivocally genial host John Derbyshire, reporting to you from my quarantine station here in the wild back-country of Long Island.
Not much doubt about what's been leading the news stories this past week. As with other deeply, scientifically controversial issues like global warming, Radio Derb assumes a position of lofty detachment.
If you want to get down in the weeds with the science here, and are intellectually equipped to do so, the internet offers a shelf-full of 80-page reports by credentialed experts arguing the details; accompanied, not infrequently, by a different 80-page report by a different credentialed expert arguing the opposite thing.
Good luck to them all, and may the best man win. I restrict myself to commenting on the social and political consequences of whatever it is we are going through; and also to reminders that, pandemic aside, there is other important or comment-worthy stuff going on in the world.
02 — Pandemic anxiety, blue v. red. A pose of lofty detachment is always, of course, to some degree bogus — see index references to "United States Supreme Court." We all have our inclinations and tendencies, deriving ultimately, I suppose, from genetic predispositions.
If you ask a non-expert — a person whose general outlook you know — for an opinion about this current pandemic, be ready not to be surprised by his answer. I was, for example, deeply unsurprised to see that Lady Ann published a fine spirited skeptical piece on March 25th here at VDARE.com, sample:
We'll get no BREAKING NEWS alerts for the regular flu deaths (so far this season, more than 23,000, compared to 533 from the coronavirus).
And in fact the opinion cut about the pandemic — red v. blue, gentry v. proles, cloud people v. dirt people, Tutsis v. Hutus — is as plain as it can be. The best evidence of this is a graph produced by the polling company Civiqs, reproduced in the March 21st New York Times.
A podcast is of course the worst possible place to try to explain a graph, but this one isn't too hard to fathom.
The graph shows the proportions of people, broken out separately by Democrat and Republican, who are, quote, "extremely concerned," end quote, about a coronavirus outbreak. It shows the proportions for each state, from late February through to late March.
So there are 100 lines on this graph: fifty for Democrats, fifty for Republicans, one line per state in each case.
All the lines trend upwards, with both Tutsis and Hutus getting more "extremely concerned" through the month. What jumps out at you, though, is that the fifty red lines, for Republicans in the fifty states, are bunched down in the five-to-fifteen-percent zone; while the fifty blue lines, for Democrats, occupy a totally separate space up in the twenty-to-sixty-percent zone. Democrats are consistently, in every state, way more worried than Republicans.
The most worried state for both Democrats and Republicans, was Washington State: 62 percent of Democrats on March 21st, 20 percent of Republicans. I'm amazed the pollsters could find any Republicans up there in the Tutsi heartlands of the Northwest. The least worried Democrats were in Minnesota, 42 percent; the least worried Republicans in Arkansas, eight percent.
I'll confess that my own temperamental leaning is towards skepticism. After all these years of observing and commenting on Western society, it's hard not to see the news as just a succession of hysterias.
We live in a hysterical age, the more so since social media came up. When suddenly something new is filling the airwaves — MeToo, Russian Collusion, Black Lives Matter — my default response is: "Oh, here's the latest hysteria. Who's whipping up this one?" The answer in every case, of course, being the Tutsi power structure.
However, I try at the same time to be a good empiricist, holding firmly to the belief that some things are true even though the enemy says they are true. I live just thirty miles from Elmhurst Hospital in New York City, tagged on Wednesday this week by the city hospitals administration as, quote, "the center of the crisis." That was after thirteen people died there in a 24-hour period. We're getting harrowing reports from medical staff in the city.
As best I can judge from the mess of data, and making due allowance for the level of hysteria that underlies all news reporting nowadays, we are looking at something unusually nasty here, and the extreme social distancing being urged on us is justified.
It'll be a whole lot more justified if we can localize and refine it; but for that we need a better quality of data than we've had so far. The people in charge seem to understand this; so after a couple more weeks of one-size-fits-all lockdown, we'll move to something more targeted and loose. I hope.
This one trundles along — some ups, some downs — in the zone between a quarter and half a million, breaking through the half million number briefly in the 2008-2009 recession, then gently declining through the late-Obama and Trump years to around the quarter-million mark.
Then last week, a colossal spike — 3.28 million claims, more than four times higher than ever before recorded.
That's an economic catastrophe for millions of Americans. The federal government is printing money to help us out, but that can only be a one-off.
With these sensational levels of unemployment, an immigration moratorium is essential. I'm surprised politicians all over aren't calling for it. Does immigration romanticism really have such a stranglehold on the national psyche? Is donor cash from the cheap-labor lobbies really driving all our national policy-making?
"That's not Who We Are!" you'll hear if you propose a moratorium. Really? I hope that Who We Are is, we are a nation whose rulers take care of their own citizens first. With three million Americans signing on to the dole in one week, it is inexcusable to be bringing in guest workers from abroad. It is just as inexcusable to be settling bogus "refugees" and admitting bogus "asylum seekers" with court dates they won't show up for.
While we're turning off the guest-worker, chain-migration, and refugee-resettlement spigots, in fact, we should be doing what we can to make sure that whatever jobs become available go to our own people — American citizens — not to foreign scofflaws. Let's have universal compulsory E-verify.
Every politician — every congresscritter and federal officer — brought up on a TV program to talk about the pandemic should be asked: With millions of Americans suddenly unemployed, what is the case for bringing in guest workers and visa-lottery winners? What is the case for continuing to tolerate the employment of illegal aliens?
Let's get the bastards on record with this. In an economic crisis, we should be looking after our own people. That's who we are.
04 — Viruses round the world. How's the rest of the world coping? Pretty much the way we are; some better, some worse.
The Southern Hemisphere bears keeping an eye on. There is a general expectation up here that as the weather warms through April, the virus will quiesce, perhaps bouncing back again in the Fall. That's a Northern Hemisphere-supremacist point of view, though. As our hemisphere warms up, the folk down in Argentina, Chile, Australia, South Africa, etc. are cooling off into their fall and winter. The next few weeks should give us a clearer idea about how much this new coronavirus minds the weather.
It looked for a while as though Brazil might offer us a test-bed for total government inaction. Jair Bolsonaro, the president of that country, is an extreme virus skeptic, out there with Lady Ann. On March 20, he called COVID-19, quote, "a little flu."
Brazil's politicians and health officials, though, beg to differ. They seem to be going with the international consensus of quarantines, social distancing, and the rest, in defiance of their president.
(Reading that report on Brazil's response, my attention got snagged on this sentence, quote:
On March 24, Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta announced the government would start to roll out a plan that will distribute 2.3 million testing kits to states across Brazil. The Ministry also plans to import over 1 million rapid tests from the United States in April.
So, the U.S.A. is sufficiently over-supplied with testing kits we can export a million of them to Brazil next month. Good to know.)
What Radio Derb listeners really want to know, of course, is how they are coping in Turkmenistan.
I can report that Radio Derb's good friend and supporter President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of that country has been characteristically ingenious. Along with the usual array of measures — travel restrictions, lockdowns, etc. — President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has taken a leaf from the book of our own Social Justice Warriors.
It is an article of faith with Western progressives that where some fact about the world is inconvenient to their machinations or offensive to their tender sensibilities — facts about black crime, for example, or sex differences — the authorities should simply suppress all public discussion of those facts.
That has been a feature of President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's uniquely bold approach to the coronavirus pandemic. Quote from Radio Free Europe's Turkmen service, edited quote:
The authorities in Turkmenistan's capital Ashgabat have started arresting people for discussing the COVID-19 coronavirus in public … Plainclothes informants of the security services are being used to eavesdrop on people's conversations in the streets.
As I said, a bold approach by Turkmenistan, right out of the CultMarx playbook. If you can't talk about it, you can't think about it. You can enjoy peace of mind!
Long live the subtle and ingenious President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov! Long live the noble people of Turkmenistan!
[Clip: Turkmen national anthem.]
05 — The Cuomo menace. In case you've forgotten, we have an election for our own Presidency coming up in November. How's the pandemic playing into that?
So far, pretty well for President Trump. In a Gallup poll published Tuesday, sixty percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing in handling the crisis. On approval of the job Trump's doing as President overall, 49 percent approve — as high as the number has ever been.
Meanwhile poor old Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is floundering. His recent TV appearances have been disasters. True, it's hard to compete when the President is coming on all boss-man-in-charge during a national crisis, but Joe doesn't even seem to be trying. As Jay Cost opined in the New York Post today, quote:
Trump didn't make Biden look like a fool this week. Biden did that to himself, all by himself.
The logical thing for the Democrats to do at this point would be to bend all their efforts to dumping Joe in favor of someone who can put a verb in a sentence. Bernie Sanders is the name that comes to mind; but the Democratic Party establishment hates him, and nobody thinks he's nationally electable.
Have the Democrats got anybody else? Well, there's … [Clip: Hillary cackle] … but I don't think so.
Michelle Obama has a little cheering section, and generally heads up the Most Admired Woman poll. That's just gestural, though, and Michelle heads up the poll with only ten percent of the write-in vote. I doubt anyone at the DNC thinks she's a credible candidate.
This past few days, however, there's been talk of a serious contender who might, if events break his way at the Democratic Convention, whenever it happens, walk off with the nomination. That's New York State governor Andrew Cuomo.
Cuomo's been getting a lot of air time, holding daily televised press conferences, and coming across as a forceful, can-do executive. He's even been nice about President Trump, praising the President for being, quote, "very creative and very energetic." We are told by insiders that Trump appreciates Cuomo for that. Bipartisanship in a crisis!
Trump needs to tread carefully with Cuomo. If he comes over as petty and personal — which he all too often does — while Cuomo is posing as above the fray, national interest at heart, generously intent on just solving the problems, that's not a good contrast.
So what are Cuomo's chances for the nomination? "Improbable but not impossible," says the Daily Caller. The math of delegate counts, the movements of Bernie Sanders, events between now and the convention … all sorts of things could scupper Cuomo. He's in there with a chance, though.
For us National Conservatives a Cuomo Presidency of course doesn't bear thinking about. Cuomo is a ruling-class Tutsi progressive out of central casting. Open borders? Check. Sanctuary jurisdictions? Check. Gun control? Check. Open the jails? Check. Climate change fanaticism? Check. We don't know Cuomo's views on missionary wars, but we can expect the worst.
There are some negatives in the background that might derail Cuomo. The biggest one is, that he is widely disliked by everyone who has to work with him. That, at any rate, is what we New Yorkers hear on the Albany grapevine. His political talents are considerable, but not always sufficient to counter the personal antipathies. That may be why Cuomo didn't line up with the other twenty Democrats jostling for the Presidential nomination last fall. Political talents aside, the guy is an obnoxious jerk.
We famously got a glimpse of that side of Cuomo six years ago, when some Republicans in the state legislature opposed the governor's very strict gun-control measure. Quote from him:
Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are and they're the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that's not who New Yorkers are.
Presumably, then, if Andrew Cuomo gets elected President, anti-abortion activists, Second Amendment supporters, and believers in the institution of marriage as it was universally understood until five years ago, will have no place in the U.S.A.
We have been warned.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: I'd originally planned to do a full segment on the thesis that, just as the case for a patriotic immigration policy has never been stronger than now, as our unemployment numbers swell, the case for complete withdrawal from our innumerable pointless and expensive foreign military entanglements has likewise never been stronger.
Then I read Pat Buchanan's Thursday column, and saw that Pat has beaten me to it. Far be it from me to compete at length with the master.
It does need repeating, though, and I'll repeat it here in brief: The two great planks of Donald Trump's 2016 platform, the two that drew us National Conservatives to his candidacy and fired up his base, were patriotic immigration reform and repatriation of our troops. This current crisis offers a real opportunity for Trump to begin honoring those campaign promises, assuming he can remember having made them.
There's an opportunity in particular to put an end once and for all to infuriating headlines like this one, from Monday's Guardian. Headline: US to cut $1bn of Afghanistan aid over failure to agree unity government, end headline. The story concerns Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's surprise trip to Kabul in hopes of getting Afghanistan's fractious politicians to unify against the Taliban.
The aid being cut there is a $4.5bn package agreed for 2021. By all means read the details of Pompeo's visit for yourself; my eyes glazed over.
For goodness' sake, Mr President: Cancel that aid, pull out all our troops forthwith, and leave these barbarians to their squabbles, which are of absolutely no import or interest to Americans. Why would you not do this? Why, after three years of dithering, would you not just pull the plug on this useless, worthless, hopeless trashcan of a nation?
Item: One more on the coronavirus, just as a reminder of how little we yet understand about the darn thing.
As you probably know, Switzerland is divided into cantons, most of which speak either German, French, or Italian. According to a report logged on Twitter — I don't have the source — quote:
So far COVID-19 is more than twice as likely to kill patients in French-speaking Switzerland cantons than in German-speaking cantons, and about three times as likely to kill patients in Italian-speaking cantons than in French ones.
The report might be fiction, I suppose; but it comes with impressive-looking bar charts and maps. Note that it talks about fatality rates, not infection rates, so saying that Italians hug each other more than Germans do, isn't an explanation.
We've a way to go yet understanding this thing.
Item: Back in November I suggested that the British monarchy would be wise to follow the example of the later Ottoman emperors and keep cadet members of the royal family in close confinement out of public view until their services were required.
They should have listened. Some weeks ago two Russian pranksters somehow got hold of Prince Harry's mobile phone number and placed two calls to him, one on New Year's Eve, the other in late January. They posed as teenage Swedish nuisance Greta Thunberg and her father. The pranksters of course recorded the calls, and two weeks ago posted them on the internet.
Oy oy oy. At one point Harry was tricked into offering to help a fictional island called Chunga-Changa, which the pranksters said was being exploited by mining companies close to President Trump. "Chunga-Changa" is actually the name of a Russian children's song.
The monarchy will probably survive, but my suggestion is still out there. Build an extension to Buckingham Palace — spacious, roomy, comfortable, some nice gardens, lots of servants — and shut them up there sealed off from all outside contact, until one of them is needed to ascend the throne, or be traded off in a dynastic marriage. It worked fine for the Ottomans.
07 — Signoff. That's all I can offer you this week, ladies and gentlemen. Sorry this week's show was shorter than usual; I'll be offering a generalized apology in my March Diary, to be posted on site sometime next week. In the meantime, thank you for listening, and keep your peckers up!
To help you with those peckers, here's Gracie Fields to sing us out.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Gracie Fields, "Sing As We Go."]