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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was a snippet of Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 and this is your whimsically genial host John Derbyshire with commentary on the week's news.
One name in the news this week was … mine! Yes: I am pleased, proud, flattered, and gratified to announce that I attained a new level of recognition on Wednesday when my name appeared in the Congressional Record for, I believe, the very first time.
It's a long story, so I'll spread it over two segments. First segment: some background on the origins of covid.
02 — Origins of covid. One of the key documents on that subject — the origins of covid — was published two years ago in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The author was veteran science reporter Nicholas Wade, who has had a long career — more than fifty years — as a writer and editor for prestigious outlets like Nature, the lead general science journal in Britain, Science, the U.S. equivalent, and the science supplement of the New York Times.
At that point in time, mid-2021, there were two general theories about covid's origin: One, that it had developed among animals in the wild and then jumped to human beings, as diseases sometimes do, and two, that it had leaked from a Chinese lab where researchers, funded in part by our own National Institutes of Health, had been fiddling dangerously with existing viruses.
At the time Nicholas Wade published his article prevailing opinion favored the first of those theories, that covid had a natural origin: that it was, to use the scientific term for pathogens that leap from animals to humans, a zoonosis.
Wade, however, in his long and carefully reasoned article — it is over eleven thousand words — made the case for a lab leak. Since that was a minority opinion at the time among experts, Wade's article was scientifically controversial.
It was also politically controversial. For one thing, Donald Trump seemed to favor the lab-leak theory, so that our Trump-hating national elites — this was early in the Biden administration — felt obliged to rally to the opposite side. Of course very few of them understood the kind of detailed science Nicholas Wade had presented, any more than Trump did; their opposition to the lab-leak theory was entirely political.
For another thing the lab-leak theory implied fault on the part of the ChiComs. That's probably why Trump favored it.
ChiCom money is a significant force in U.S. business and politics, though, especially Democratic politics. The Biden family, for example, have done very well from it. So outside Trump circles there was this additional financial incentive to scoff at the lab-leak theory.
And on top of that, with our NIH having supplied some of the funding for the Wuhan lab, there were people in the federal government who much preferred that the lab-leak theory be buried good and deep with those millions of covid fatalities.
That was two years ago, however. As the months ticked by, scientific opinion turned away from the zoonosis theory towards a lab-leak explanation. Political opinion shifted some, too, as the clumsy strong-arming efforts of the ChiComs against, for example, the World Health Organization were exposed.
Last October, a U.S. Senate committee concluded that the covid pandemic was, quote, "more likely than not," end quote, the result of a lab accident. Now, just last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray told us that his agency is of the same opinion. So both scientists and politicians have swung round to the lab-leak hypothesis.
Should we be happy about finding ourselves on the same side of any issue as the FBI Director? No, of course not. Christopher Wray is a shill for our ruling class and an enemy of our liberties.
As George Orwell was wont to point out, though, some things are true even though the Communist Party — or in this case the Uniparty — says they are true.
And while my only acquaintance with Christopher Wray comes from reading the news, I do know Nicholas Wade, both the works and the man. I have reviewed at least three of his books (here, here and here), was a keen follower of his science journalism when he was writing regularly at the New York Times, and have socialized with him.
Nicholas Wade is a smart, well-read, scientifically well-informed, witty and very good-natured English gentleman. Christopher Wray be damned: I am happy to find myself on the same side as Wade.
Knotty scientific problems like the origins of covid can be full of surprises, though. I wouldn't stake any large amount of money on any one hypothesis.
Or sub-hypothesis: there are at least two schools of thought on the lab leak. Were the researchers doing potentially life-saving investigations on how to counter covid-like infections? Or were they doing potentially life-destroying work to develop new bioweapons?
And if the latter — so we're getting down to sub-sub-hypotheses here — if it was all the accidental product of biowarfare research, how much did our own government know about the work they were helping to fund?
With the ChiComs of course being deeply unhelpful and our own federal government far gone in lies and corruption, it's not likely we shall have a definitive answer soon. We may never have one.
Still, as annoying as this uncertainty is, it offers irresistible opportunities for politicians to practice their skills at grandstanding on their pet issues. The House of Representatives is seizing those opportunities. That's how I got my name in the Congressional Record.
03 — Unresisting imbecility. Yes, the House of Representatives has established a Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic. That committee had its first hearing on Wednesday.
The task assigned to this subcommittee is, I should allow, less silly, pointless, and vindictive than most of what Congress does <cough> … January 6th committee … <cough> The coronavirus pandemic was a nasty business. The disease killed several million people, including two known to me personally. Of course we should strive to find out how it got started and spread, what the origins of the virus were, and so on.
That said, I hold no great hopes that a bench of innumerate congresscritters will bring us any answers. If they come to any definite conclusion at all it will most likely be one of the following: (A) It was Donald Trump's fault, or (B) It was Vladimir Putin's fault, or (C) It was caused by white supremacy.
At least one member of the committee seems to favor (C). That is Rep. Kwesi Mfume, an anti-white mulatto representing the noble city of Baltimore, Maryland. Rep. Mfume, called to speak on Wednesday, lost no time at all in bringing forward race as a central issue.
You might wonder what race has to do with the origin of covid. If you do wonder that, permit me to enlighten you. To race grifters like Rep. Mfume, everything is about race, otherwise their lives have no purpose and they themselves have a much-reduced income.
So how did Rep. Mfume pull this off, and where did my name come in?
One of the witnesses before this committe on Wednesday was … Nicholas Wade, presumably because that article of two years ago arguing the probability of a lab leak had caused such a stir.
When Rep. Kwesi Mfume was given his five minutes of committee time to question the witnesses he first opened with some bland remarks about the importance of the committee's inquiries, then he turned and bared his dentures on Nicholas Wade.
[Clip. I am a bit appalled that this hearing now gets layered over with the issue of race in a very strong way with the presence of Mr Wade. And, Mr Wade, I have read your book, and I'm appalled by it. And I would hope that giving you this platform does not paint or taint the issue that we're trying to get to and deal with here.]
Which book is Rep. Mfume talking about? Well, it's Wade's 2014 book A Troublesome Inheritance, subtitle: "Genes, Race, and Human History." I reviewed the book here at VDARE.com on March 14th that year.
A Troublesome Inheritance is a mild, cautious summary of the state of our knowledge in population genetics ten years ago, a perfectly sane and respectable work of popular science. To the best of my knowledge, no new findings in this past ten years have falsified anything the book presents as settled science.
What is it in A Troublesome Inheritance that so appalled Rep. Mfume? Let him tell us.
[Clip. In your book The Troublesome Inheritance [sic] you talk about a number of different things; and David Duke talks about it and says that he really endorses your position on blacks and Jews.
Rep. Mfume then wandered off into promotional stories about the selfless sacrifices he has made in pursuit of racial justice. Looking him up on the internet, I see that his sacrifices have indeed been so selfless that his net worth last year was a mere five million dollars.
I'd offer a detailed critique of that last clip if I hadn't linked you, a few weeks ago, to Dr Johnson's put-down of Shakespeare's play Cymbeline, quote:
To remark the folly of the fiction, the absurdity of the conduct, the confusion of the names, and manners of different times, and the impossibility of the events in any system of life, were to waste criticism upon unresisting imbecility, upon faults too evident for detection, and too gross for aggravation.
I shall not waste criticism upon unresisting imbecility, although I will register doubt — very serious doubt — that Rep. Mfume has read Wade's book, or indeed any book at all; and I will marvel that he managed to extrude so many words without a single mention of Emmett Till.
(I shall also note, having been alerted to the fact by my colleague James Fulford — I confess I missed it — that in the couple of sentences there where my name is mentioned along with David Duke's, Jared Taylor's, and Steve Sailer's, Comrade Mfume is reading — or trying to read — more or less verbatim from the hatchet job on Wade's book that was posted May 2014 at the website of the far-left but fabulously wealthy Southern Poverty Law Center.)
So there I am in the Congressional Record: John Demmonchire. I sympathize with Rep. Mfume having been faced with a three-syllable word to pronounce.
And I don't actually mind "Demmonchire." Seen in print, it looks like the name of a character in Trollope. On balance, though, I'd rather the editors of the Congressional Record used the correct spelling so that when my children and grandchildren go looking for it they won't be disappointed.
And just one more point on the onomastics here. "Kwesi" is an Ashanti name meaning "Sunday." The Ashanti people of West Africa name their children according to the day of the week they were born on. Rep. Mfume was indeed born on a Sunday: October 24th, 1948. His actual birth-name was Frizzell Gray; He changed his name to an African one to help the grift.
So what's my point? Just that I was born on a Sunday, too; so in Ashanti, Rep. Mfume and I share the same forename. How about that!
04 — Goodies for illegals. Inflation is real, isn't it? I keep getting surprised. Yesterday I grabbed a quick snack at the local McDonald's, not a thing I do very often. It was a minimal snack — single cheeseburger and french fries. I vaguely supposed it would cost me four or five dollars: they hit me for more than eight.
Meanwhile I'm still trying to get my taxes sorted out, both my kids need financial help, and Mrs Derbyshire is lobbying for a vacation we can't afford. I'm getting that feeling — you know the feeling — that I'd like to go live in a hut on a mountainside somewhere for a few months.
Oh well, at least I can console myself with the knowledge that illegal aliens are doing fine.
Here in New York the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, is faced with a tab that it's estimated will reach $4.2 billion dollars by mid-2024 to house, feed, medicate, educate, and find employment for these scofflaws.
Not to worry, though; His Honor is on top of the problem. This week he announced the creation of a whole new city bureaucracy, the Office of Asylum Seeker Operations.
Workers at this new agency will, the Mayor told us, focus on helping adult migrants file the paperwork needed to get federal work permits, in addition to providing them and their families with food and a safe place to sleep. Actual quote from the Mayor, quote:
Our goal is to help them to become self-sufficient as soon as possible. That is the No. 1 goal.
What will be the cost of this new agency to New York taxpayers? The cost is, the New York Post told us on Wednesday, quote, "unclear," end quote. Right.
Just in case anyone thought Mayor Adams was shortchanging the illegals, on Thursday the Post told us that one of the programs that will be overseen by this new agency will be free tuition and living expenses for illegal aliens to attend college. No kidding. Quote from Thursday's Post:
Adams plans to provide as many as 100 migrants with 12 months of classes, room and board in upstate Sullivan County — and the project could continue indefinitely … The cost to taxpayers hasn't been disclosed but will likely exceed $1.2 million in the first year.
But let's be fair here. Which is better for the U.S.A.: a hundred illegal aliens with nothing but high school diplomas, or a hundred illegal aliens with degrees in Latinx Studies?
Notice that this is free college tuition. That's an advance on the in-state tuition fees being offered to immigration scofflaws in the state of Massachusetts, as reported the other day on VDARE by my colleague Hank Johnson. The Massachusetts deal just gets an illegal an in-state tuition rate of $16,000 as against the rate of $37,000 for out-of-state students.
Also in Massachusetts … Well, I'll just read this one off the website of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River, in that state, this post dated March 7th. You need to know that the Massachusetts fiscal year runs from July 1st to June 30th and this is fiscal year 2023. Quote:
The Massachusetts State Legislature and Governor Healey are on the verge of passing a fiscal year 2023 supplemental budget. One of the line items in the budget would provide funding to expand emergency shelters and related educational costs for the fast growing population of migrants flowing into the Commonwealth over the past several months. The proposed eighty-six million dollar expenditure is critically needed as the state deals with this humanitarian crisis.
The illegals are, says the Diocese, coming to Massachusets in unprecedented numbers from Cuba, Haiti, Venezuela and Nicaragua as well as Afghanistan and Ukraine.
And, oh yes, what have we got here? In Minnesota on Tuesday this week state Governor Tim Walz signed a bill into law that will allow illegal aliens to get Minnesota driver's licenses.
Minnesota's by no means the first to do this. Eighteen states, along with Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, already allowed wetbacks to get driver's licenses. So now it's nineteen plus two.
The Minnesota law stands out none the less because it's a step backwards. It restores the situation that existed prior to 2003. Those nice midwesterners had been handing out a driver's license to anyone who showed up since … well, since driver's licenses were invented. Then, after the 9/11 attacks, Minnesota's legislators passed a law banning illegal aliens from applying.
This is the kind of thing that breaks the hearts of us arguing for sane immigration policies.
When we struggle to make progress in the direction of patriotic immigration reform, and year after year we don't see any progress, that's bad enough; but when we see a major state heading backwards from a sensibly restrictionist policy to an earlier, looser one … that's when we throw up our hands and head to the liquor cabinet.
05 — China news. The ChiComs have been having their Two Sessions. This is a major political event that happens every Spring.
One session is of the National People's Congress, the NPC, which is billed as the nation's legislature — its congress. The other, slightly smaller one, held simultaneously, is a session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the CPPCC. Both gatherings are humongous by comparison with any U.S. chamber: more than 3,000 seats for the NPC, around 2,500 for the CPPCC.
The latter session, the CPPCC, is a bit more interesting than the NPC. It doesn't have any legislative powers; but then, neither does the NPC, so-called "national legislature." The NPC just rubber-stamps decisions made by the Party bosses, with occasional minor staged dissents to give an appearance of authenticity.
The CPPCC is supposed to offer suggestions and, to a very limited and cautious extent, air grievances. It's a bit broader-based than the NPC, with business people, academics, military and intelligence members, and so on. The Party keeps them all firmly in line; but occasionally someone in the Inner Party uses the CPPCC to float an idea that ends up being voted on in the NPC.
The chatter among my Chinese acquaintances has all been about the NPC, where the nation's Prime Minister for the last ten years, a chap named Li Keqiang, has been cast aside for a replacement named Li Qiang.
Why? Quite possibly the Capo di tutti Capi, the Boss of Bosses Xi Jinping, just thought that ten years was enough and it was time for a change. Or possibly he perceived Li Qiang as more doggedly loyal than Li Keqiang. Unquestioning loyalty to Xi is, the experts all tell us, the prime qualification, perhaps the only necessary qualification, for rising anywhere in the ChiCom power hierarchy.
You may have noticed that the two names are identical except for the kè in the first name. That's true in the written as well as the spoken forms of the two names. That character kè has several meanings, as Chinese characters often do. The second meaning listed in my Chinese-English dictionary reads, quote: "overcome, subdue, capture (a city, etc.)," end quote.
On that basis, Li Keqiang should have overcome, subdued, or captured Li Qiang. Instead the opposite thing has happened: Li Qiang has overcome Li Keqiang and sent him into retirement … if he's lucky.
For some reason Chinese people find this hilarious. They're all chuckling about it. I don't think I'll ever understand the Chinese sense of humor.
In other China news: Older listeners may remember hearing about Quemoy and Matsu. These are two tiny archipelagos off the coast of southeast China, opposite but not at all close to Taiwan.
Technically they belong to Taiwan. The ChiComs tried to get them under their control during the Formosa crises of the 1950s. When the U.S.A. showed serious resistance to the idea, the ChiComs gave up.
Nowadays both territories are in political limbo, although doing well economically as gateways for Taiwan businessmen to get easy access to the mainland China market. There's also been considerable tourism from the mainland; the islands are picturesque, easy to get to, and comparatively unspoiled.
The ChiComs want them back, though, as much as they want the rest of Taiwan. Taking their cue from whover-it-was that cut the Nordstream gas pipeline, the ChiComs have severed the underwater cables that give the islands of Matsu their internet. The 14,000 residents have been without internet since early February.
They've been taking the situation in their stride, improvising pretty well. One local, the owner of a bed-and-breakfast place, told the Daily Mail reporter he'd gotten used to it. Quote:
[Inner quote.] "From a life perspective, I think it's much more comfortable because you get fewer calls" [end inner quote], he said, adding he was spending more time with his son, who usually is playing games online.
Ah yes, I remember those pre-internet days. Spending time with the kids, being more connected … Oh yes …
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just a shout-out here to James Buckley, older brother of the late William F. Buckley, my sometime employer, who died in 2008.
Jim Buckley is not "late." He's still with us, and celebrated his hundredth birthday on Thursday. Congratulations, Sir!
Back in 2010 I had dinner with James Buckley and his older sister Priscilla, who died in 2012. I wrote up that event for National Review. Here's an extract, quote:
This man had an extraordinary career. He served at a high level in all three branches of the federal government: as a U.S. senator, as an undersecretary of state, and as a federal appeals court judge. Somewhere along the way he also had careers in private law, business, and the military. James Buckley is one of those people who leave most of the rest of us feeling we have frittered our lives away to not much purpose.
I cherish the memory of that dinner, that warm May evening at the country club in Sharon, Connecticut, with two highly civilized and good-natured people from the generation before mine.
Civilized and also pious. When I remarked to Jim that I thought things looked bad for the U.S.A., he responded, quote: "Without divine intervention I see no way out."
Having just the year before published a book in praise of pessimism, I couldn't disagree.
But look, Jim, we're still here. May we — both of us — still be here many years from now.
Item: I take a childish delight in seeing words oddly juxtaposed. That tiny thrill was vouchsafed to me the other day when I saw this headline from the March 1st New York Times. Headline: "Whiskey Fungus Fed by Jack Daniel's Encrusts a Tennessee Town."
Whiskey fungus! Just let me roll it around on my tongue a couple of times: Whiskey fungus, whiskey fungus.
The headline's not quite right. The afflicted place seems to be not a town but a county: Lincoln County, Tennessee. The Jack Daniel's company has several warehouses there full of whiskey aging in wooden barrels of charred oak. Vapors from the whiskey enable or encourage the growth of a certain fungus — whiskey fungus! — which is now coating homes, cars, road signs, bird feeders, patio furniture, and trees in Lincoln County.
The Lincoln County locals are mad about it and they've gotten themselves lawyered up. Jack Daniel's says the fungus is not hazardous to human health and doesn't damage property, so … wash it off, why don't ya?
This show could run and run. Whiskey fungus!
Item: Wednesday was of course International Women's Day. Among the festivities was an event at the White House where eleven women from various parts of the world — mostly the Third World — were honored with Women of Courage awards by first lady Jill Biden, who is herself a woman, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, because the thing is international, see?
One of the awardees, Alba Rueda of Argentina, is in point of fact a man. He customarily wears women's clothes, and did so for this ceremony. He gave Jill Biden a kiss on the cheek.
God help us all.
07 — Signoff. That's all I have, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, for your time and attention, and for your many thoughtful emails and kind donations.
For signout music, let's have something light. Light … light … rhymes with "spite," right? So let's have something that's light and full of spite, preferably against something anti-white.
The target of my spite here is the Disney Corporation. That Disney is a cold-eyed, ruthless enemy of all that is good, true, and American will not be news to followers of VDARE.com. Eight years ago we were reporting on the shameless way Disney laid off middle-class American workers in Information Technology so they could replace them with cheaper guest workers from India.
Much more recently, less than one year ago, I alerted VDARE readers to Karey Burke, the president of Disney General Entertainment Content, who had been apologizing because there weren't enough homosexual lead characters in Disney's stories.
I concluded that report by pointing out that Ms Burke and a lot of people like her at Disney, are shaping the minds of rising generations. I added, quote:
I'm assuming, of course, that she and they are actual people — not space aliens planted among us to soften up the human race for eventual colonization and slavery.
Nothing has changed at Disney since then, except perhaps that Ms Burke and her fellow Red Guards at Disney are ever more bold in their efforts to teach American children how evil their grandparents were and how ashamed they should feel to be American, especially if they're white.
Latest news on all that: Disneyland — that's the California park — announced this week that the "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" tune will no longer be played in Disneyland's daily park parades because something racism something something white supremacy something.
The "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" tune will be replaced by a tune from Disney's new film version of Peter Pan. If you're wondering how woke that movie is, a trailer was released March 1st that tells us. When Wendy arrives in Neverland and meets the Lost Boys, it turns out that some of them are girls. Oh, and Tinker Bell is black.
In light of Ms Burke's apology last year, it would be interesting to know Peter Pan's sexual orientation, but I can't find any data on that.
Hence my yearning to commit a petty act of spite against Disney. So here he is: that fine actor James Baskett singing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" from that enchanting 1946 movie Song of the South.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: James Baskett, "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah"]