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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 1, organ version]
01 — Intro. Welcome, listeners! That was a snippet from Franz Joseph Haydn's Derbyshire March Number One and this is your imperviously genial host John Derbyshire with the first Radio Derb of 2023.
The first headlines of 2023 were all about our House of Representatives trying to elect a new Speaker. Let's take a look at that.
02 — Who'll be Speaker? Tuesday this week the 118th Congress assembled in our nation's capital. The House of Representatives, as we all know, has 435 seats. The midterm elections in November divided them between 213 Democrats and 222 Republicans. Unfortunately one of the elected Democrats died November 28th leaving his seat vacant, so this week's balance is 212 to 222, Republicans with a majority of ten. That'll be nine after the vacant seat is filled in late February: it's a safe Democratic seat.
When the representatives-elect assembled on Tuesday their first job was to vote on a Speaker for the House. Kevin McCarthy of California was House Minority Leader in the last Congress so he was the obvious choice for Republicans. Democrats favored Hakeem Jeffries, a black supremacist from Brooklyn.
The vote for Speaker is usually a formality, but this one wasn't. Conservative House Republicans regard Kevin McCarthy as a lackluster Uniparty guy. They wanted a Speaker with more spine.
They most particularly wanted someone who might spare us another legislative atrocity like the $1.7-trillion omnibus bill that was passed just before Christmas with the help of nine House Republicans.
McCarthy was not one of the nine. In fact he had, to his credit, opposed the omnibus bill with a long and quite passionate speech. Conservative House Republicans, however, want changes to House rules to prevent such bills in future, backed up by enforcement measures. They want other changes to the House procedural rules, too, and McCarthy won't give them all they want.
So the vote went to three ballots on Tuesday without a result. Nineteen conservatives voted for someone other than McCarthy on the first two ballots; on the third, Byron Donalds of Florida joined them to make it twenty.
Wednesday and Thursday saw more of the same. Wednesday there were three more votes; Thursday, another five, bringing the total up to eleven. There haven't been eleven indecisive ballots for Speaker since 1821, when the issue was decided on a twelfth vote, so the congresscritters are making history here.
On the eleventh ballot there was one vote for Donald Trump, cast by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz. That was in spite of the fact that Trump had come out in favor of McCarthy on Wednesday. And yes, the vote was valid: the Speaker doesn't have to be an elected representative.
Today, Friday, saw votes numbers twelve and thirteen; still no result. Mid-afternoon the House adjourned until 10 p.m., by which time two absent members, both Republicans, should have returned to the House from a childbirth and a medical appointment.
I shall go ahead with the rest of the podcast. When I'm through, later this evening — Friday evening — I'll check back on the situation in Congress, record some suitable comments, and insert them in the sound file between the pips here.
OK: it's 11:15 p.m. Friday evening. On vote number 14 Kevin McCarthy was still one vote short of a majority so the House is voting on whether to proceed to a fifteenth vote or to adjourn until noon on Monday. It looks as though the vote to adjourn has failed, so this will be an all-nighter. I need to wrap up, so I'll leave it here. Stay tuned for the rest of the podcast.
03 — The 2016 hangover. All these ructions over the Speakership are part of the 2016 hangover.
In that fateful year the American electorate gave Leviathan the fright of its life by electing as President a total outsider, a guy with no Deep State connections at all. The Establishment, once they'd recovered from the shock, bent all their efforts to making sure that such an outrage would never happen again.
They ramped up politicization of the bureaucracy and federal law enforcement, rallied the media to their support, made clear to the big tech companies what was expected of them, and loosened up the voting rules. For long-term advantage they threw our nation's borders wide open, aiming to dilute the legacy-American population and its hateful dreams of liberty, law, and constitutionalism with a flood of grateful serfs.
They really needn't have tried so hard. Donald Trump proved to be not a very formidable opponent, easily buffaloed by generals and bureaucrats, with weaknesses of personality that could be leveraged to get rid of nuisances like Jeff Sessions.
Four years later Leviathan was back in control, the ship of the Managerial State back on an even keel and under full canvas, the leaks all plugged.
Yet the tens of millions who'd voted for Trump in 2016 hadn't disappeared. Some were disillusioned and turned back, in forlorn hope, to Establishment Republicanism for salvation. Many, though, still believed the Swamp might be drained, the troops brought home, government spending brought down, the FBI purged, the borders defended, criminals punished, race favoritism abolished, the old liberties restored.
A few of these latter got themselves elected to Congress. They are the ones holding up Kevin McCarthy's bid for the Speakership. They see him, and his Senate counterpart Mitch McConnell, as relics of the pre-2016 order, and don't want them controlling the business of our national legislature.
Radio Derb's sympathies are entirely with these dissenters. I wish them all the luck in the world. I doubt they can defeat McCarthy with all the support of Leviathan behind him, but it is brave and patriotic of them to try.
They might at least squeeze out some promises from him, promises on legislation and procedural issues. McCarthy will renege on those promises first chance he gets, of course; but at least by doing so he'll be exposing himself as an Establishment weasel, waking up more Republican voters to their true interests.
04 — Dismantling the meritocracy (cont.). In my November Diary here at VDARE.com I led off with the heading "Dismantling the meritocracy." I noted how big licensing associations for important professions — the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Bar Association — were de-prioritizing merit in selecting entrants to their professions in favor of race and sex quotas.
That is of course very bad, in fact dangerous. Aspiring doctors and lawyers should be admitted to training schools for those professions on the basis of knowledge and intelligence, as measured by competitive examinations, not because they fill out race and sex quotas. Those quotas are bad enough in college humanities departments; in practical professions like medicine, law, and engineering they might be lethal.
This dismantling of the meritocracy, I'm learning, starts much earlier than medical and law school admissions, at any rate in Fairfax County, Virginia. That's the location of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, "TJ" for short, a selective school currently ranked Number One in U.S. News & World Report's list of "Best U.S. High Schools."
There is an exam that high-schoolers can take called the PSAT, the Preliminary SAT. Nationwide about three and a half million high-schoolers, mostly juniors and sophomores, take this exam. Those who score highest qualify for National Merit Award scholarships; and that, says the Fairfax County Times story I'm reading this from, quote, "opens the door to millions of dollars in college scholarships and 800 Special Scholarships from corporate sponsors," end quote.
Of course a student has to know he's won this award in time to include the fact in his college application. It's turned out that TJ administrators — the Principal and the Director of Student Services — have for five years been withholding notification to the students until after their college applications have been filed.
Why would they do that? Diversity! The main factor here, as with well-nigh every other crookedness and malfeasance in the U.S.A. today, is race. Disproportionately many of those students winning National Merit Awards have been Asian; disproportionately few have been black. Not enough equity!
The Fairfax Times has also discovered that TF's Principal has engaged a black race hustler named Mutiu Fagbayi to supply her school with "equity training" at a cost to the school district of nearly half a million dollars. The goal of the training is, quote: "equal outcomes for every student, without exception."
City Journal, in a fuller report on the TJ scandal, tells us that, quote:
School administrators … have implemented an "equitable grading" policy that eliminates zeros, gives students a grade of 50 percent just for showing up, and assigns a cryptic code of "NTI" for assignments not turned in. It's a race to the bottom.
Indeed it is. It is also, as fans of Alice in Wonderland will recall, a caucus-race. Quote from Chapter 3 of that great children's classic:
However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out "The race is over!" and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, "But who has won?"
05 — DeSantis takes on the Academy. The year 2023 will be an exciting year for the University of Michigan. October this year will see the launch of the university's second Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Five-Year Strategic Plan, known around campus as DEI 2.0.
The academic year we are currently in, 2022-23, will be devoted to, quote from a U. Mich. website, a year-long evaluation process in which central and unit-level content and actions from DEI 1.0 will be thoroughly assessed.
As I said, exciting stuff, and this will be a busy year for the U. Mich. diversicrats. Mind you, there are enough of them to carry the burden: 126 of them when I reported on this last September, with a total salary tab of $15.6 million. That's for a public university with 31,000 undergraduates.
If you do the division there, that's a DEI cost of over $500 per undergraduate. That's going by last September's numbers, though. For the big push this year to, quote, "thoroughly assess," the, quote, "central and unit-level content and actions from DEI 1.0," end quotes, ready for the launch of DEI 2.0, more help may be needed, raising the DEI headcount and salary total.
But, hey, what does it matter? What's more important to the life of a university than Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion? Not teaching, for sure. College teaching assistants in the U.S.A. typically make around $20,000 a year; nobody on the list of Michigan University's DEI staff makes less than $40,000. Robert Sellers, the Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion, makes over $430,000.
The University of Michigan is as bad as it gets, but it's bad all over. An American college is now basically a huge administrative bureaucracy with some classrooms and a football team attached, and the biggest office complex in that bureaucracy belongs to the DEI staff.
So it gladdens the heart to see someone in a position of political power pushing back against this monstrous growth.
New College of Florida is a small public liberal arts college in Sarasota — very small: around 700 students. It's public, though, so the state Governor, Ron DeSantis, with his legislature's approval, has authority over it.
He has just exercised that authority by appointing six new members to the college's 13-member Board of Governors. All six are conservative activists, including Chris Rufo of the Manhattan Institute and Charles Kesler from the Claremont Review of Books. The Florida Board of Governors will appoint a seventh member.
The Governor told National Review that, quote:
It is our hope that New College of Florida will become Florida's classical college, more along the lines of a Hillsdale of the South.
In line with that the new Board appointees intend to dispense with the terms "diversity," "equity," and "inclusion" and replace them with "equality," "merit," and "colorblindness." So no more DEI; now it'll be EMC.
It would be nice to think that some of this common sense might percolate over to Michigan, but I'm not holding my breath for that. Still, baby steps, baby steps. It's good to see pushback against the DEI racket; and it's good to see more evidence that Ron DeSantis may be the guy we need in the White House if our republic is to be pulled out of its current nose dive into lunacy and authoritarianism.
06 — Washington Post does VDARE. VDARE, as you probably know, owns a castle in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Wednesday this week the Washington Post published a report on that: on the little town of Berkeley Springs and the fact of its most prominent feature, the castle, having been taken over by hateful haters seething with hate.
We had been forewarned about this. Peter Brimelow did an email Q&A with the Washington Post reporter, a young lady named Ellie Silverman who, we knew, had been taking guidance and instruction from Michael Edison Hayden of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Peter published that email exchange with Ms Silverman here on the VDARE.com website, December 29th. Sample:
She: Have you hired any local Berkeley Springs or Morgan County residents to work at VDARE or the Berkeley Castle Foundation? If so, who and in what capacity?
To be perfectly fair to Ms Silverman, her Qs were professional and non-abusive.
And Wednesday's article in the Post was quite restrained, considering the Post is a regime outlet. There were the usual cant words and phrases: "racist pseudoscience" for actual findings in the human sciences that contradict regime propaganda, and so on. The word "hate" is bandied about pretty freely, although mostly in quotes from speakers Ms Silverman interviewed.
Morgan County, where Berkeley Springs is located, went 75 percent for Trump in the 2020 election, but the town has a fair number of progressives, and Ms Silverman lets them speak. My own impression, from my visits to the castle, is that most of the townspeople couldn't care less about VDARE being there; Ms Silverman quotes some of them, too.
And it was nice to see Virginia Dare described correctly as "the first English child born in what is now the United States," instead of, as so often, erroneously as "the first white child …" The first white child was Snorri Portfinsson, a Viking; but our critics keep making the same damn fool mistake. Thanks to the Post for getting it right.
All in all not bad coverage from a ruling-class outlet. We've heard that one of those latter townspeople, one of those who didn't mind us being there, has had threatening phone calls, but there's been nothing worse than that.
All the negativity about this article, in fact, has been concentrated in the comment thread. Hoo-ee! And we are the haters?
Much scorn in those comment threads was heaped on the head of Peter Brimelow, who, like me, was born in England. An anti-immigration immigrant! Nyah-nyah!
I hope Peter won't mind if I point out to these numbskulls that the idea to purchase the Berkeley Springs castle was an inspiration of Peter's wife Lydia; that a great deal of the energy and imagination that keep VDARE aloft come from Lydia; and that the lady is American-born and, in all respects, as American as it is possible to be.
But I assume comment threads on regime media are heavily curated by a staff of midwit progressives under FBI supervision. I wouldn't be terrifically surprised, in fact, to learn that the comments are just made up by Washington Post staff, as was the case with the letters columns of at least one English tabloid newspaper.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Going back to the segment about Thomas Jefferson High School: I couldn't help noticing the Principal's name: Ann Bonitatibus. It is of course childish and wrong to make fun of people's surnames, which none of us can help. However, since Ms Bonitatibus has cheated some unknown number of students out of their shot at a college scholarship, I'll make an exception here.
What that surname brings to mind for us bookworms is the second-longest word in the English language, uttered by a character in one of Shakespeare's plays: "honorificabilitudinitatibus."
Whether "honorificabilitudinitatibus." actually is in the English language, as opposed to the Latin language, is a nice point. I couldn't find it in either my OED or Webster's Third.
You can't argue with Shakespeare, though; so here it is with an entry in Wikipedia, defined to mean: "the state of being able to achieve honours."
High-schoolers in Fairfax County are deemed to be in that state only if they belong to a race and sex approved of by Ms Bonitatibus.
Item: I've tried, I really have, to summon up some interest in Prince Harry's book, which officially comes out on Tuesday but copies of which have been finding their way out prematurely these past few days.
To judge from press reports, Harry has more than the usual number of grievances against his father, stepmother, and brother, and he nurses those grievances more passionately than most of us would.
Does that make him a nasty piece of work? I can't say I think so. Plainly he's a narcissist and not very bright; but having an idiot like Charles — now King Charles — as your father and losing your mother when you're only twelve are not things I'd wish on anyone. And Harry did see active service with his country's military in a war. True, it was a stupid and pointless war, but that wasn't his fault.
I won't be reading Harry's book, so I won't be offering an opinion on it. I will, though offer you a context for it.
British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore has a new book out, title The World: A Family History of Humanity. It's a history of the entire human race structured around stories of the families who made so much of the history happen: the Caesars and Medicis, the Rothschilds and Rockefellers, the Kennedys and Churchills, the Saudis, Castros and Kims.
Sample quote from the review at Daily Mail Online, quote:
The Assyrian king Sennacherib … was kneeling in the temple at Nineveh when his eldest son, impatient to succeed, hacked him to death. Families, eh? Jealousy and loathing have run through them since the dawn of time. "It is one of the ironies of power," writes Sebag Montefiore, "that kings of the world struggle to cope with their own children" — an observation that, with our own King Charles and Prince Harry, is as current and on the ball as you can get.
Item: Here's a little curiosity that got my attention. I found it on one of the BBC websites. It's dated January 9th 2022, so it's almost a year old. I've never seen it mentioned, though; so if it's new to me, it'll be new to a lot of listeners.
In the early 1990s a British historian named Roger Ekirch was gathering material for a book about the history of night-time. That book was eventually published in 2005, title At Day's Close. You can buy it at Amazon.com.
A thing that Ekirch noticed, looking through written records from the early Middle Ages through to the Industrial Revolution, was references to something called "first sleep." There's one in The Canterbury Tales.
It turns out that pre-modern people practiced something called biphasic sleep. They'd go to bed around 9 p.m., sleep for a couple of hours, then get up and do things until about 1 a.m. Then they'd turn in for their second sleep.
What did they do in those midnight couple of hours? All sorts of things, says Ekirch: socializing, praying, meditating, household chores, outdoor criminal activities, indoor sexual activities, … you name it.
Biphasic sleep. I really want to give this a try.
 "And slept her firste sleep; and then awoke." The Squire's Tale, Part Two, Line 21.
08 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you as always for your time and attention, and thanks to so many of you who have supported VDARE.com, and me personally, as donors this year just past.
One thing that happened in 2022 and that it was grievously remiss of me not to note in my podcast, was the passing of American songwriter Hal Bynum, who left us on June 2nd last year at age 87.
I say "grievously remiss" because I knew Hal very slightly. His wife Rebecca, a charming and busy lady, runs a web magazine called New English Review to which I myself occasionally contributed in the decade before last, when I had more energy than I have now.
Visiting Nashville some years ago my wife and I stopped by to visit Hal and Rebecca and enjoyed an evening of warm hospitality with them. Women are of course much better at keeping up acquaintances than we men are; I always get a Christmas card from Rebecca. That's how I found out Hal had passed away.
That brief encounter in Nashville left me with the impression of Hal as a gracious and witty American gentleman. I am sorry we have lost him.
Here to play us out is one of the songs he wrote in his prime: Nobody's Fool, rendered here by the great Jim Reeves.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Jim Reeves, "Nobody's Fool."]