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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your merrily genial host John Derbyshire, this Christmas Day 2020.
Yes, yes, I know: You are most likely listening to this on Boxing Day, if not later. Your body clock is telling you that Christmas is past and gone: the presents all opened, the carols all sung, the fruit cake and the eggnog all consumed. You are probably sinking into post-Yule depression, even if you don't have an almighty hangover.
I am actually recording on Christmas Day, though, and so still filled with the Christmas spirit. You should remember, in any case, that Christmas formally lasts for twelve days: Christmas Day is only Day One (or Day Zero, depending on your precise confession). So however depressed and hungover you may feel, remember it's still Christmas!
Although, on the other side of things, there is much to be depressed about this Christmas season. And where things to be depressed about are concerned, you know you can depend on Radio Derb.
02 — Our legislators at work. Most depressing this week was the United States Congress passing on Monday the COVID relief bill.
That's what everybody's calling it: the COVID relief bill. Its proper title is The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. You can read it for yourself at the rules.house.gov website.
If you want to do that, set aside plenty of time for it. The bill is 5,593 pages long. That's a million words, give or take a few — about thirty percent more words than there are in the King James Bible. At a normal reading speed of 250 words per minute, you'll need about 67 hours reading time to read the whole bill, say eight and a half full working days if you don't break for lunch.
And no, this isn't a one-off monstrosity. It happens every year. This so-called COVID Relief Bill is in fact the omnibus spending bill I grumbled about at length last week. I grumble about it every year. Just to reprise:
So this behemoth of a bill is no extraordinary phenomenon. It's S.O.P., the way things get done in Congress. I see people on Twitter asking why, if Congress wants to give each of us $600 from the public fisc, they don't just pass a law that says so. How naïve!
I've seen someone else propose a constitutional amendment to the effect that no legislation passed by Congress should be more than five printed pages long. That just underestimates the ingenuity of our legislators. If such an amendment were to be ratified, Congress would just switch to nanoscale printing, so that you'd need an electron microscope to see what a bill says. I hope I'm not giving them ideas here.
It goes without saying that nobody in Congress has actually read this bill. It's hard to see how anybody could have. Sixty-seven hours? The bill wasn't available for reading until 2pm on Monday. The House passed it at 9pm; the Senate two hours later.
So if you're wondering how your $600 of coronavirus relief got mixed up with funding for gender reassignment surgery in Cambodia, there's your explanation. It's how things work in Washington, DC. And yes, you can assume quotation marks around the word "work" there.
03 — Immigration: could be worse. Are there favors to the open-borders and illegal alien lobbies in the omnibus spending bill? Actually, not that many.
As noted in last week's podcast, the massive giveaway to foreign white-collar workers didn't make it into the bill. This wasn't because of some access of conscience by the congresscritters suddenly deciding that they should not, after all, give middle-class citizens the shaft. It was only that the House version of the legislation and the Senate version couldn't be reconciled in time.
For this relief much thanks, although of course the thing will be tried again as soon as the 117th Congress has settled in next month. The appetite of our capitalists for cheap indentured foreign labor is a mighty force that can only be thwarted by permanent watchfulness.
If white-collar jobs will remain open to U.S. citizens for a while longer though, the same isn't true for blue-collar jobs. There are two guest-worker visa types in play here: the H-2A visa for agricultural workers, and the H-2B for every other kind of low-skilled labor. The omnibus bill has nothing about H-2As, but it authorizes Homeland Security to nearly double the number of H-2Bs.
Hey, it's not as if blue-collar workers have been laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic. Waiters, landscapers, dry-wallers, ski-lift attendants, meatpackers, … They can all work just as well from home, can't they?
And then ICE, the immigration police, has been part-defunded. Its budget has been cut by $431 million, a reduction of six percent. That'll teach 'em not to go around arresting undocumented workers!
Also on the topic of illegal aliens: They won't be getting those $600 checks, but their family members legally present here will. That of course includes the anchor babies of illegals.
So it's bad, but not as bad as it might have been. Let's be thankful for small mercies.
04 — Frog-boiling for dummies. The omnibus bill aside, there have been interesting developments on the immigration front.
It seems to have dawned on Joe Biden's team that as righteous as it would be to throw open our nation's borders and cease all enforcement of our immigration laws right at midday on January 20th, the resulting tsunami of people flooding in might not be a good look for the new administration. This, they seem to have concluded, is a frog that needs to be boiled s-l-o-w-l-y.
It'll be interesting to see if Joe Biden carries out his promise to give permanent residence to the DACA illegals on Day One of his Presidency. That's what he promised he'd do back in June; but with a new, more cautious approach, that promise may get broken.
(DACA, just to remind you, was an executive order from Barack Obama in 2012 to shield a big class of illegal aliens from deportation and give them work permits.)
If Joe's promise does get broken, there'll be a pleasing symmetry there. Donald Trump, you may recall, on the campaign trail in 2016, promised to terminate the DACA boondoggle on Day One of his Presidency if elected. Of course, he did nothing; although in Trump's case the inaction was a result of sloth and inattention, not calculated political caution.
Concerning the flattering things people have carved on the tombstones of deceased friends and relatives, Dr Johnson remarked that, quote, "In lapidary inscriptions a man is not upon oath." The same thing is true of politicians' campaign promises. We all know this of course, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded.
05 — Australia shows the way! And one final point on immigration. You may recall that seven years ago Australia, fed up with illegal aliens arriving by sea, launched Operation Sovereign Borders. The boat people were returned to their country of origin; or, when this couldn't be done, interned in grungy camps on remote islands until they got fed up and repatriated themselves.
Then in 2016, as one of his final flourishes of virtue signaling, Barack Obama cut a deal with the Australians to import 1,250 of these illegals languishing in island camps into the U.S.A. They would be counted as "refugees," placed quietly in U.S. towns and cities, and put on welfare. These are mostly young Muslim men from Afghanistan and the Middle East.
The indefatigable Ann Corcoran at her Refugee Resettlement Watch website has been doggedly tracking this issue. Posting on December 14th, Ann reveals that, believe it or not, these bogus refugees have a lobby in the U.S.A.
It's called Ads-Up, and of course it has a website: Go to ads-up.com. Ads-Up was co-founded by two activists, one based in New York and the other in Washington, DC. On the website they boast that, quote:
We've recruited over 300 Australian supporters in the United States to help hundreds of refugees from Manus and Nauru who are starting new lives in a new country.
End quote. Manus and Nauru are two of those islands where the Australian government parks illegals.
Here's Radio Derb's suggestion. The U.S.A. has all the love-the-world gentry progressive busybodies we can use. We don't need to be importing more, like those 300 Australian supporters the Ads-Up website boasts about. They should all be sent back home to Australia to improve the quality of social justice down there.
Or, if they don't want to go, we have plenty of remote and inhospitable islands of our own — in the Aleutians, for example — where we could intern them until they change their minds.
Australia shows the way!
06 — Racism, the patriarchy, and Rushton's Rule of Three. You have surely heard the phrase "systemic racism" recently. What is it, though?
A friend has directed my attention to a speech by Derrick Johnson, President of the NAACP, back in June in the heat of the George Floyd riots … I beg your pardon: the George Floyd mostly peaceful protests.
Mr Johnson defined systemic racism as, quote: "systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage African Americans." End quote.
If that's systemic racism, then I guess all the "systems and structures that have procedures or processes that advantage African Americans" — affirmative action, government set-asides, huge over-representation in advertising and show business, endless excuse-making for black failure, rewriting of history to make white Americans the villains — I guess all those things must be "systemic anti-racism." Why don't we hear that phrase more often?
In the same news story another respondent, Glenn Harris, president of something called Race Forward, offered his definition, quote: "the complex interaction of culture, policy and institutions that holds in place the outcomes we see in our lives … Systemic racism is naming the process of white supremacy." End quote.
If you can make any sense of those, you're smarter than I am. I think Razib Khan got much closer to the truth in a December 23rd tweet, tweet:
the west had the lord god on high.
That's right. Systemic racism is a metaphysical principle, universal and all-explanatory.
There are some problems with it, though. Why is it only blacks getting disadvantaged? I'm looking here at a long piece on the Quillette website, December 22nd, by Rav Arora. He notes that newly released statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor for the third quarter of 2020 show that Asian women now have higher weekly earnings than white men: median figures $1,224 for Asian women working full-time against $1,122 for white men. That puts the Asian gals ahead of us white guys by nine percent.
As the author points out, that doesn't raise issues just about the "systemic racism" narrative, but also about the so-called "patriarchy." If whites are so maliciously oppressing other races, and men likewise oppressing women, how do we get numbers like these?
Arora has some nifty tables with numbers for economic success by ancestry group. Here's one from the American Community Survey showing ancestry groups with median household income higher than white Americans: Indian, Taiwanese, Filipino, Indonesian, Pakistani, Iranian, Lebanese, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Israeli, Korean, Syrian, Vietnamese.
Here's another table: Median earnings by full-time year-round female workers, so this is ladies only, again by ancestry group. In descending order of earnings: Taiwanese, Indian, Turkish, Iranian, Chinese, Lebanese, Japanese, Korean. The lowest figure there, for female Korean-Americans, is a tad over sixty thousand dollars. White male Americans? A tad over fifty-seven thousand.
That's a lot of people doing better than us white folk. How does systemic racism make that happen? Why didn't our white supremacy kick in?
I wondered if Mr Arora would venture into race realism, but of course he didn't. It's culture, you see, just culture — a concept hardly any more substantial, far as I can see, than "systemic racism."
If you subtract out the effect of recent and highly selective immigration, which accounts for the Indians, Turks, and Israelis — and also, come to think of it, for recent black African immigrants, who also do well — you're left with Rushton's Rule of Three: the principle stated by the late John Philippe Rushton that on a whole host of physical, psychological, and behavioral traits, you can rate East Asians, whites, and blacks as high, middling and low.
I don't think Rushton's Rule of Three rises to the level of metaphysics; but as a good first approximation to the way the human world is structured, it's not bad — way better than "systemic racism," and much more interesting.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Nicholas Christakis, who we all remember being shrieked at by snowflakes of color on the Yale University campus four years ago, has a book out: Apollo's Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live. It sounds like fun. I've ordered a copy but haven't taken delivery yet.
Apparently Prof. Christakis predicts in his book that the 2020s will repeat the pattern of the 1920s, which also followed on a world-wide pandemic. We shall, says the author, according to the New York Post, we shall get a reprise of the Roaring Twenties, humanity once again plunged into an era of vice and indulgence. Hey.
I dunno, Prof. That sounds to me like an instance of the fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc: the Roaring Twenties followed the Spanish Flu pandemic, therefore they were caused by it, therefore COVID-19 will cause something similar. I shall read the book, though, and report back.
I note from the book's Amazon page that Christakis now, quote, "directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale University," end quote. A Human Nature Lab — that's a concept I really like. Didn't Yale University get the memo that there is no such thing as human nature, that it's all socially constructed? Perhaps academia isn't a total wasteland after all.
Item: Here's a nice wrinkle on cancel culture.
In Britain there is a journalist named Julie Burchill, now 61 years old. I say "now" because I dimly remember her from the 1980s as an interesting lefty, by which I mean a lefty who couldn't stick to the party line and sometimes said things that made you stop and think — a sort of female Christopher Hitchens, though not as smart.
Well, Ms Burchill has also written a book. It's about cancel culture, title: Welcome to the Woke Trials: How #Identity killed progressive politics. The inspiration for it was one of Ms Burchill's articles getting retracted by a respectable British newspaper because people claimed it was "transphobic."
The book was due to be released in March next year. However, Ms Burchill just recently got into a public row with a Muslim journalist named Ash Sarkar. In the course of some exchanges, Ms Burchill referred to the Prophet Mohammed as a pedophile on account of his having married his third wife Aisha when she was nine or ten years old.
When the book's publisher heard about this, they canceled publication.
You get it? A book about cancel culture got canceled. Talk about a revolution eating its children!
In fairness to the publisher, I should note that they have agreed (though not without some prodding from free speech advocates) to pay Ms Burchill's advance in full.
And don't shed any tears on the lady's behalf for having lost a publishing opportunity: the Daily Mail reports that five different publishers have offered to take on the book. With that much competition, I'm betting the advance she ends up with will be better than the original.
Ms Burchill's comment on the whole business was, quote:
I've been upsetting bourgeois bed-wetters since I was 17. Now I'm 61 and nothing has changed.
I think I'm in love.
Item: Anarcho-tyranny watch.
Listeners may remember the name James Fields, the young man sentenced to a life sentence plus 419 years for driving into a mob of anarchists at Charlottesville, Virginia following the Unite the Right rally in 2017. One of the anarchists died as a result.
There was a similar assault in Vancouver back in September. This is the American Vancouver, the one in Washington State, not the Canadian Vancouver. An Antifa activist named Charles Holliday-Smith had been harassing some Proud Boys who were standing smoking in a parking lot. Then he got into his own vehicle and drove off.
As he did so he hit one of the Proud Boys, Shane Moon. Moon wasn't killed, but he suffered brain damage. Holliday-Smith was arrested and then released on $100,000 bail.
Now we've heard that Holliday-Smith has been exonerated with no charges filed, pending further investigation. His bail has also been exonerated, whatever that means.
Granted, the two cases — James Fields and Charles Holliday-Smith — are different. The person James Fields hit died; Shane Moon didn't, though he was badly injured.
On the other side, however, Fields was plainly in fear for his life; there's no evidence that Holliday-Smith was.
So sure, there are differences. The differences, however are nothing like as great — nothing like as great — as the difference between 419 years plus life and no-charges-filed.
We all understand, of course, that the real difference here is that Charles Holliday-Smith holds political opinions the ruling class approves of, while James Fields holds political opinions they don't approve of.
The difference, in other words, is Who? Whom?
The video shows a vet and his assistant who were called to an animal park in Thailand to administer an enema to one of the elephants, who was constipated. The enema was successful — too successful: the vet got showered with the contents of the elephant's colon.
I laughed along with everyone else. There is, however, an element here of nature imitating art.
The art in this case is the comedian's art. There is an old joke about a man who gets a job with the circus. They assign him to, yes, administer enemas to the circus elephants. Like the vet in the video, he gets showered with elephant poop, day after day.
The guy's wife, after putting up with the smell for a while, at last says: "George, for Heaven's sake, get another job."
To which George replies: "What, and quit show business?" [Drum roll, applause.]
08 — Signoff. That's all I can offer, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and I hope you enjoyed a Christmas full of good cheer with family and friends, as I am doing.
As I opened by saying, you may, listening to this on the 26th or 27th, with the partridge in his pear tree, the turtle doves cooing, and the French hens a-clucking, you may feel that Christmas is over, or at any rate past its peak; but I beg to differ. So to see us out, here's a carol from the Chapter House Choir of York Minster.
There will be more from Radio Derb next year!
[Music clip: Chapter House Choir of York Minster, "Ding Dong Merrily on High."]