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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners. This is your contrarily genial host John Derbyshire, reporting to you eleven days before the election. How do things look?
For National Conservatives, they don't look good. My first prophecy, sixteen months ago, was that Trump will lose his re-election bid. I cited three determinative factors:
In later commentary I added the demographic factors: young wokesters coming on the voter rolls at one end, conservative geezers dropping off them at the other, and low-wage immigrants becoming citizens.
So according to me, Trump has been facing a steep uphill battle; and this is a guy with poor mountaineering skills.
That Trump will lose is a common opinion among people who wish otherwise. It's not just me. I got an email from an old friend who is nine times smarter than I am, and a Trump voter. Quote from him:
On the side of the Democrats are: The FBI, the CIA, the federal bureaucracy, academia, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Hollywood, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, NPR, the NYT, every magazine on the shelf, BLM, Antifa, 50 million illegal aliens, and now, the Chinese Communist Party.
What mainly got my attention in last night's Trump-Biden debate was those poor mountaineering skills. If you'll excuse my mixing sports metaphors, Trump kept dropping the ball. Permit me to elaborate.
Why didn't Trump punch back good and hard when Biden said he would give citizenship to 11 million illegal aliens? The number is likely closer to twenty million; and with chain migration following, that twenty million would bring in another forty, fifty, a hundred million. Why didn't Trump say that?
And then, all the fluff about prison reform. Is this really a popular item with voters? Biden mocked Trump for having said, twenty years ago, "There's not enough people in jail." Trump was right; and I think a great many voters, most of them Trump voters, know that. Do we really want fewer people in jail? To judge from crime rates, we need to put way more people in jail.
Likewise with the business of separating children from their parents at the border. Trump did, to be sure, remind us that the Obama administration did this too. He could, however, kill the whole thing dead by asking the lefty moderator what she thinks should be done with children brought across the border illegally by their parents. Put them into adult jails with the parents? Just release parents and kids together into the population with a stern reminder to the parents to show up for their court hearing two years on? What would you do, lady?
The biggest ball Trump dropped, though, was the moral case. The U.S.A., as every foreigner notices, is an intensely moralistic nation. If you can make any kind of appeal from personal morality, that's a big plus. Trump can, but he doesn't, I don't know why.
These two guys on the debate stage, Trump and Biden, are both stinking rich. How did they get that way, though?
It's not a mystery in either case. Trump got a head start from his Dad, a successful businessman. However, he did not do the Prodigal Son thing and waste his substance with riotous living; he learned the commercial real-estate business and parlayed his Dad's gift into a huge fortune, creating hotels, resorts, golf courses, and such, for the convenience and enjoyment of his fellow citizens. Then he ventured into show business, and was successful there. Trump's fortune has been honestly earned.
Then, at a point in life where many of us get a good pair of carpet slippers and relax by the fire to read Trollope and bore our grandchildren, Trump transferred his energies to public service, offering himself to voters as a guy who could fix things that many of us thought were wrong with our country.
That's Trump. Now, how did Joe Biden get rich? From politics, that's how. He's been in politics for fifty years, well-nigh his entire adult life.
Politics doesn't actually pay that well, salary-wise. A conscientious politician, in the older Anglo-Saxon tradition of public service, will live decently well, but he won't get stonking rich. I gave a couple of examples in my book We Are Doomed, quote:
When Harry Truman left office in 1953, he had no income but his army pension of $112.56 a month. He had to take out a bank loan while negotiating a deal to write his memoirs. That was the way of things all over the Anglosphere. It was part of the tradition of modest Anglo-Saxon government. When Bob Menzies, Australia's longest-serving Prime Minister, left office in 1966 after 18 years in power, having given up a lucrative legal career for politics, he could not afford to buy a house in Melbourne.
Well, that was then, when notions of gentlemanly restraint and duty were still current. Ours is a cruder, coarser, more cynical age. Gentlemanly restraint nowadays would be hooted down as "toxic masculinity." A President who left office with nothing but an army pension to fall back on — and who, like Truman, would not accept offers of extravagant speaking fees or company directorships because it would demean the Presidency — would nowadays be regarded as a sucker.
So if Joe Biden didn't get rich on his politician's salary, how did he get rich? We've been getting some insights into that from these recent revelations about his hobnobbing with Russian and Chinese kleptocrats.
Even setting all that aside, though, being a U.S. Senator for 36 years and then a Vice President for eight can be mighty remunerative. You don't have to be sensationally crooked: A U.S. Senator has enormous influence, a Vice President even more, and the money will come looking for you. Absent the principled restraint of a Truman or a Menzies you just have to sit back and let the gifts, the fees, the favors, the "contributions," the stock options roll in.
So comparing these two guys, there is a strong moral case in favor of Trump. Why doesn't he make it? Poor mountaineering skills.
03 — The Fourth Industrial Revolution. Having been writing about China for forty years, I was naturally interested to see what Trump and Biden had to say about that place.
Answer: Nothing with any real insight or understanding. There was a lot of back and forth about whether this guy or the other guy was taking money from the ChiComs; then some bluster from both candidates about how tough they have been with China. Watching it, I thought I could hear from the far distance the sound of the ChiCom politburo rolling around on the floor hooting with laughter.
For a clue to my frame of mind here I refer you to David Goldman's October 19th article at Asia Times, title: Covid-19 launches the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Goldman describes in detail how the ChiComs have used the pandemic to advance their lead in AI (Artificial Intelligence). Closing paragraphs:
Computer science could not have devised a more useful dataset for the development of AI than the propagation of the Covid-19 virus. The exercise requires sophisticated real-time management of datasets involving impossibly large numbers of individual observations, and the ability to correlate locational, medical and demographic data with population sampling through forensic tests.
There is much more to be said about that. Goldman's observations agree with what I hear from my wife, who keeps in touch with her family and friends in China through social media. Yes, they tell us: Anywhere they go their movements, contacts, temperature and other health indices are constantly monitored and scanned. They are barred from certain places if they don't meet the right criteria.
It's total social control, backed by colossal databases and massive AI programs. It seems to have conquered the pandemic: Life is back to normal in China, and the third-quarter numbers for economic growth, just released this week, show almost five percent improvement over third quarter last year. The corresponding figure for the U.S.A. is negative ten percent.
Should we, like David Goldman, find this "troubling"? Well, yes, but with qualifications.
If, as Goldman argues, Big Data joined with AI is a "fourth industrial revolution," and if China is steaming ahead of us in those fields, then the U.S.A. will soon, for the first time in living memory — for the first time in 150 years, I think — be a second-rate technological power. That's going to be quite an adjustment.
However, if the price to be paid for addressing the problem is a Chinese level of social control, the price is too high. That would be the death of our traditional liberties.
One of my favorite words in the American language is "ornery." I like orneriness. I don't just like it, I think it's socially valuable.
I'm not very ornery myself by nature. I wear a face mask when I go shopping, just on the chicken soup principle: It can't hurt. Still, when I see two people in a yelling match because one of them isn't wearing a mask, I instinctively side with the non-mask-wearer. He's being ornery, and I like ornery.
In a country with China's level of social control, orneriness will get you ten to fifteen breaking rocks in a labor camp on the Qinghai Plateau; or, at the very least, confined to your apartment 24/7 because the algorithms won't let you go anywhere. I don't want to live in a country like that. Liberty! — especially the liberty to be ornery.
David Goldman is right none the less. China is roaring ahead of us into that Fourth Industrial Revolution, and we will become a second-rate technological power. That's not a disaster, and I don't myself mind it if it's the price of keeping our liberties; but it will need some big adjustments that our leaders show no signs they are prepared for.
In military matters, for example. If I had been moderating Thursday's debate, here's a question I would have put to both candidates.
Question: China's saber-rattling towards Taiwan has been getting louder and louder in recent months. There is a probability that the next President will, at some point in his four years in office, be confronted by a Chinese military assault on Taiwan. Based on your understanding of the situation there, what is your estimate of that probability? Twenty percent? Fifty percent? Ninety percent? How should the U.S.A. respond to such an assault?
End question, end of segment.
I'll just add as a footnote that David Goldman, whose essay at Asia Times I was quoting there, has a new book out, title You Will Be Assimilated: China's Plan to Sino-form the World. I recommend it. The thirty-page appendix is worth the book's price all by itself.
04 — World Series. Have you been watching the World Series? I confess I haven't. Not that I'm much of a sports fan. Sports-enthusiasm-wise, I'm down in the bottom decile, low down. I always try to catch the World Series, though; in part from the immigrant's desire to be fully American, in part from lingering sentimental recollections of the late-1970s New York Yankees, many of whose games I attended. I shared a house with a work colleague at that time. We jointly owned a cat named Thurman.
This year I haven't bothered, though. I didn't even know the Series was under way, or who was playing, until I read a story on Breitbart about the abysmally low viewing numbers the Series got for its first game on Tuesday — "the lowest number of viewers in recorded history," said the Breitbart report.
I don't think that's right, actually. The first televised World Series was in 1947, when there were less than 50,000 TV sets in the U.S.A. It's true that most of that 50,000 were in bars, restaurants, and clubs, so there would have been many people viewing each set. To get up to this Tuesday's viewership of 9.2 million, though, you'd have to have an average 184 people per set … which doesn't seem likely.
You could quibble over the phrase "recorded history," I guess. Nielsen didn't start counting viewers until the 1960s, so probably that's what Breitbart meant; but then, they should have said so.
Whatever: That 9.2 million figure was 25 percent down on last year, which was in turn a five-year low for Game One. This year's poor number is the more surprising when you think of all the people stuck at home bored because of the pandemic.
So what's going on here? It can't have helped that Major League Baseball started off this season with affirmations of support for Black Lives Matter and anti-white dogma in general. Baseball fans are overwhelmingly white. Some I suppose are social-justice ethnomasochist types who — as the saying goes — feel good about feeling bad about their whiteness, but I'd guess that a much bigger number are fine with being white and resent all the anti-white propaganda.
You're a lower-middle-class white baseball fan making $30,000 a year. How do you feel about some black baseball player on a nine-digit contract lecturing you about your "privilege"?
I doubt that's the whole story, though. The Breitbart writer, Dylan Gwinn, agrees. Quote from him:
Fans just don't care anymore. Politics — everything from the election, to Covid, to economic collapse, to China, and whatever the scandal of the day happens to be — has become better theater than sports.
It's common to hear people say that sport is a substitute for war. Have we moved into a historical epoch where public events are a substitute for sport?
I really hope not. Yankees fans and Mets fans may have regarded each other with scorn and derision, but those emotions were restricted to the game, they didn't affect any other aspect of life. Public events spread the emotions much wider. And war is a public event, the ultimate public event. We're better off with sport.
Perhaps I and the Breitbart guy are taking too dark a view. Sport is subject to fashions, after all. I have read somewhere that before WW2 the most popular spectator sports in America were horse racing and boxing. Where are they now?
A footnote here, for listeners who haven't been following the Series but now think maybe they should: It's between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays. All games are being played in Arlington, Texas, for reasons to do with the coronavirus. As I go to tape here Friday evening the Series is tied at one game each, with the third game about to start. Game Four tomorrow evening, Saturday.
05 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items. Lots of them! There was no closing miscellany last week, so I feel I should make up.
Imprimis: There has been some slight movement in the case against the four Minneapolis cops who tried to arrest juiced-up criminal George Floyd in that city May 25th.
You'll recall that the state Attorney General, communist black Muslim Keith Ellison, hit the four officers with nine charges, ranging from second-degree murder to the aiding and abetting thereof. Well, one of the nine charges has now been ordered dropped by a county judge.
This is the charge of third-degree murder against cop Derek Chauvin. Chauvin faced three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The third-degree murder charge has been dropped; he still faces the other two.
Second-degree murder in Minnesota law is intentional killing without malice; third-degree murder hovers between that and manslaughter — un-intentional but with a depraved mind. So third-degree, the charge that's been dropped, is less serious than second-degree.
It's not much, but it reminds us that there's a court case coming up here with serious implications for public order if these cops are acquitted, which they should be.
Item: In my opening segment I quoted an email from a friend, listing all the cultural and power centers on the side of the Democratic Party in this election. His list included NPR, National Public Radio.
In case anyone was in doubt about which side NPR is working for, NPR Managing Editor for News Terence Samuel removed all possible doubt in the station's weekly newsletter, responding to a question about their lack of coverage in the matter of Hunter Biden's laptop. Quote from Mr Samuel:
We don't want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don't want to waste the listeners' and readers' time on stories that are just pure distractions.
NPR's financing is a long and tangled story but it is certain that some of their $200 million revenues come out of taxpayers' pockets, directly or indirectly. That's a scandal. NPR should not be getting any funds from the federal government, or from any institution — universities, for example — that is itself in receipt of federal funds. Defund NPR!
Item: News from the intensifying war against white people.
The Board of Supervisors of San Francisco have unanimously approved a new law allowing blacks to sue white people who call 911 on them. The law is officially called the Caution Against Racial and Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act. Do you get that? The initial letters spell out CAREN.
Strictly speaking the plaintiff need not be black. Sex, age, religion, disability, gender identity, weight or height also count. There's not much doubt that the main point of the law is anti-white, though. It was introduced by Supervisor Shamann Walton, who is black, and whose introductory speech did not fail to mention Emmett Till.
Reading the story, I learned that these anti-white laws are proliferating, which I didn't know. There's already a similar one in New York: and civil lawsuits aside, in California it is already a criminal misdemeanor to hurt black people's feelings this way.
The Board of Supervisors has received written complaints from eight people named Karen, objecting to the way this law was named. Seems to me San Francisco needs a supplementary law to protect the hurt feelings of Karens. They could call it the Directive Ending Supervisors' Hate Against Womens' Names, or the DESHAWN Act.
Item: As we all know, the fiercest zealots of antiracism — our new state religion — have been pulling down and defacing statues of historical figures who were not believers. October 11th in Portland, Oregon they pulled down a statue of Abe Lincoln, presumably because he wasn't antiracist enough.
Scholars of the Christian religion in the Middle Ages had similar issues with what they called "virtuous pagans." The problem they wanted to solve was: What is the fate, in the Afterlife, of people like Aristotle and Cicero, who lived virtuous lives before the coming of Christ? Not having been able to receive Christ's message through having been born too early, they couldn't be admitted to Heaven; but plainly they didn't deserve the torments of Hell. They were virtuous pagans.
I don't know enough about theology to tell you what majority opinion among the scholars settled on, but I do know that Dante put these virtuous pagans in Limbo, the first circle of Hell. They weren't tortured, but they were sad and gloomy. Heaven was nearby, but they weren't allowed to enter.
Can't the theologians of antiracism come up with something similar for figures like Abraham Lincoln, who did their best to live good lives but couldn't come up to the woke standard because they lived before Ibram X. Kendi's revelation? Just a suggestion.
Item: Here's another suggestion, this one offered in a constructive spirit to the British government.
Britain is currently being invaded by illegal aliens from Africa and the Middle East crossing the English Channel from France in small boats. Numbers this year already exceed seven and a half thousand — more than four times the number for the whole of last year. There's speculation that this year's total will pass ten thousand.
The British government, which takes orders from open-borders globalists, is trying hard to ignore the issue, but public anger is rising. There have been demands to return the invaders to France — a perfectly safe country, of course — but the French won't take them. They can't be repatriated because they destroy their identity documents in mid-voyage, so no-one knows where any particular invader should be repatriated to.
Until recently the government has been putting up these invaders in hotels while it dithers about what to do with them. Now they've run out of hotel space, and are starting to use old army bases. The invaders make a nuisance of themselves to local people, though, especially women — these invaders are of course mostly young men. It's getting to be a major issue.
So here's my constructive suggestion: hulks. No, not green-skinned mutants with over-developed musculature. I mean hulks as in prison ships: vessels retired from the Royal Navy, permanently anchored along the banks of the River Thames and at seaports like Plymouth. From the 1770s to the 1850s hulks were used in place of jails. One of my great-great-grandfathers served seven years on the hulks back in the 1840s "for stealing 3 hen fowls & 20 chickens."
I dare say accommodations on the hulks were less than ideal; but at least the inmates couldn't harass law-abiding citizens. Out of sight, out of mind.
Item: A bank in Redwood City, California was broken into by two raccoons. An ATM customer spotted them in there and the Humane Society was summoned.
This story has a way-we-live-now angle to it. The news story I read came with pictures of the intruders taken by security cameras in the bank. My first momentary impression of the pictures was: "Good Heavens, those critters are Covid-compliant! They're wearing masks!"
They weren't, of course; that's just what raccoons look like. It goes to show how public controversies warp our perceptions, though.
Item: CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who is also a staff writer at the far-left New Yorker magazine, was caught out on a Zoom conference call romancing Mrs Palm and her five lovely daughters when he thought he was off-camera. He has been suspended from the magazine pending an investigation.
I think we should give Toobin the benefit of the doubt. It is so easy for misunderstandings to arise. Perhaps he had just previously made a pass at a lady who'd rebuffed him by saying, "Beat it, pal!" Or perhaps his magazine work had been falling below standard and the editor had told him to get a grip on himself. Who knows?
Mr Toobin has in any case shown courage in adversity, single-handedly taking on those mocking him, standing firm and proud — yes, holding his own. Good luck there, guy.
Item: In the same regrettable zone, last December on VDARE.com I advertised the charms of Finland's then-new Prime Minister Sanna Marin, age 34. I don't mean political charms, either: the lady is exceptionally easy on the eye.
Ms Marin makes no attempt to hide those charms. Just recently she did a photo shoot for a fashion magazine. In one picture she was wearing a very low-cut jacket, cut low enough to tell us that (a) she was not wearing a bra, and (b) has small but well-formed breasts.
Commentarial opinion has been sharply divided. On one side of the cleavage, there's a Grundy faction saying that as Prime Minister, Ms Marin should attend to the dignity of her office and not distract us with her secondary sexual characteristics. The more easy-going faction to which I belong counters that politicians take themselves far too seriously, so that any trace of normal human impulses, like a young woman showing off her bristols, is welcome relief.
For commentary on this episode with some intellectual depth, check out Ed Dutton, the Jolly Heretic, who is a very occasional VDARE.com contributor. Ed actually lives in Finland, and he introduced us to Ms Marin last year via his YouTube channel when she became Prime Minister. Ed bases all his commentary on evolutionary psychology.
Just today Ed has posted a vidcast at BitChute, the first fifteen minutes or so given over to an analysis of Ms Marin's career and boobs, which latter Ed describes delicately as, quote, "fried-egg standard" (11m37s). You have to not mind Ed's occasional lapses into Finnish and his rapid-fire delivery, much more challenging to the attention than my more leisurely style.
Item: Finally, in seasonal news, 26-year-old Nathan Garisto of Largo, Florida, was arrested Monday on a domestic battery charge for throwing a pumpkin at his girlfriend. He was, say police, "heavily intoxicated." Ah, the holiday spirit.
What we all want to know, of course, is: Did Mr Garisto yell "Trick or treat!" before hurling the pumpkin? Alas, the news reports don't tell us. Journalistic standards are not what they once were.
06 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and for your many emails.
Many, many: email volume has been increasing the past few weeks, I don't know why. Yes, we're coming up to an election, and everyone's excited about that. I haven't done much commentary directly about election issues, though, so that can't be it. Perhaps there's a rising general level of excitement, general enough to encompass the kind of mostly cultural and social commentary I do.
Whatever: the volume is way higher than I can reply to individually, except on occasional whim. I can only promise as always that everything non-abusive gets read, pondered, and, where appropriate, plagiarized.
OK, some signout music. Longtime listeners know my affection for the early-twentieth-century popular concert repertoire. Here is an old favorite from that genre, "Somewhere a Voice is Calling," sung here by the English and then Canadian tenor Hubert Eisdell. Wikipedia says the song was published in 1901, but it only really took off in World War One. Eisdell's recording is from 1916, and I apologise for the somewhat primitive sound quality. The lyrics are plain and minimal:
Dusk, and the shadows falling,
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Hubert Eisdell, "Somewhere a Voice is Calling."]