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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, big band version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners. This is of course your presumptively genial host John Derbyshire with some reflections on the passing charivari.
Welcome in particular to listeners from the great state of Texas. Today, April 21st, is the 187th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, which freed Texas from Mexico, avenged the Alamo, and led to Texas becoming an independent republic, which it remained for nearly ten years before joining the U.S.A.
Having recently spent a very pleasant and instructive few days exploring Texas, I'm now following news from the Lone Star State much more attentively than I used to. I've been reading up on Texas, too: more about that in my April Diary at the end of the month.
For now let me just thank the good people of Texas once again for their hospitality (the Avis desk at San Antonio airport not included) and congratulate them on that famous victory and all that followed from it.
OK, let's see what's happening in our nation's politics and culture today.
[Clip of Trump speaking:
That was a prime piece of Trump-speak: snide, spiteful, vain, delivered in Trump's trademark more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger voice, garnished with bogus humility. "Hey, whaddo I know?" It was another reminder, as if I needed one, of how much I dislike Trump.
We're stuck with him, though. Of all the likely candidates for president in 2024, only Trump and DeSantis are taking any clearly anti-Establishment positions; and of the two, only Trump has a nationwide cadre of passionately committed supporters who will vote for him so long as he's on any ballot, anywhere — that "cherished and massive MAGA vote."
If Trump's on GOP primary ballots next year, that cadre will likely be enough to get him the nomination against any opposition, including Ron DeSantis. Unfortunately he is too widely disliked outside that hard core to win the general.
So the Establishment gets the White House and the U.S.A. gets another four years of open borders, devaluing dollars, save-the-world globalist posturing, and cultural decline, likely punctuated with a war or two. Heaven help us!
Of all the dozens — perhaps hundreds — of articles I must have read about Donald Trump, the one that has lodged itself most firmly in my mind as reflecting my own view was an op-ed by John Stossel, published in the New York Post April 7th.
Yeah, yeah, I know: Stossel is an immigration libertarian: not a Great Replacement fanatic, but globalist enough to annoy VDARE.com readers.
There isn't anyone I agree with about everything, and I don't agree with Stossel about immigration, or libertarianism in general — drug legalization, for instance. Reading that April 7th piece about Trump, though, I was nodding agreement almost all the way through.
Stossel starts off by deploring Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg's indictment of Trump, which was fresh news on April 7th. Quote:
This is a slippery slope to banana republic.
Then Stossel tells us all the many familiar ways in which Trump is, quote, "a horrible person," end quote: unpresidential, childish, vain, selfish, mean, untruthful, doesn't read, doesn't listen to advice from smart people … you know the charge sheet.
Then Stossel pivots again, quote:
Yet it would be better for America if he were president today, instead of Joe Biden.
Stossel then gives a detailed balance sheet on Trump, the good and the bad. Good: regulation, employment, judges, no new wars. Bad: spending, tariffs on China, petulance about his 2020 election loss.
Again, there's a libertarian slant to it all. Were tariffs on China really such a bad idea? And not a word about Trump's failures on immigration: his dithering about building a wall, his insouciance on legal immigration. All right: but for a guy who's told us he hates Trump, I think Stossel is commendably fair-minded about Trump's presidency.
And where Trump is concerned there's the ancient conundrum about whether a ruler should be likeable. Machiavelli's answer, which I think is the correct one, was: not necessarily. It's OK for a ruler to be feared, said the sage, it's just not a good idea for him to be hated.
A modest streak of mean, intelligently deployed, can be an asset. Richard Nixon had that streak and deployed it intelligently to advance his policies. Jimmy Carter, who was certainly very intelligent and of immaculate personal morality, didn't have it, so his policies went nowhere much.
The trouble with Trump as president was that his mean streak was not always intelligently deployed. Trump's extremely mean treatment of Jeff Sessions, for example, was not deployed in pursuit of advancing any policy, it was just personal spite. Its effect on Trump's declared policies was entirely negative.
We're stuck with the guy, though. He'll sweep the primaries if he's not in jail, even perhaps if he is. Then he'll lose to Joe Biden, or Gavin Newsom, or Chuck Schumer, or someone even worse … if you can imagine someone worse.
Another triumph for the globalist, open-borders, war-mongering, anti-white, anti-male, anti-American ruling class. Thanks, Don.
03 — Has Ron's presidential campaign been aborted? A great many conservatives would, like me, rather have Ron DeSantis on the presidential ticket next November than Donald Trump.
There has, though, been some muttering in the ranks since DeSantis, in his capacity as governor of his state, signed into law last week a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, with exceptions for rape or incest.
What the mutterers were muttering was that this was politically inept on the governor's part.
Many pointed to what had happened in Wisconsin the week before, when voters in that state elected a progressive-lefty candidate to the State Supreme Court, flipping majority control of the court from conservatives.
Wisconsin passed a total abortion ban after last year's Dobbs decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, and last week's vote for the state court was a protest against that, said the mutterers.
Whether it was or not has been considerably disputed. The abortion ban was in place when voters went to the midterm polls last Fall, the disputers say, yet Republicans didn't do badly in Wisconsin.
Whatever; there's a general feeling that a declared position on abortion is more trouble than it's worth for aspiring candidates outside deeply-conservative or deeply-liberal small localities.
When Americans are asked we break about sixty-forty: the sixty saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while the forty — it's actually a tad less than forty — think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases.
As any political analyst will tell you, though, there's an issue of salience here. A respondent will almost always give an opinion when pollsters ask for one, but it doesn't necessarily follow that he's going to vote based on that opinion. In a list of issues ranked according to how much he cares about them, some particular issue may be number seven, or number twenty-seven, or number seven hundred. Salience.
The political wisdom you hear from seasoned analysts is that it's best for a candidate to be as vague as possible about his position on abortion. That's the strategy Donald Trump is following.
But then, they say, if a candidate is forced to make a statement on abortion, he should favor a fifteen-week limit with exceptions for rape and incest.
That will lose him a small number of votes from people with very strongly held feelings at both ends of the spectrum, pro- or anti-, but not enough to cost him a race outside of those few deeply-conservative or deeply-liberal localities. The issue just isn't that salient — it isn't a deal-breaker — for most voters.
Ron DeSantis has made a statement by signing that six-week ban. I won't try to second-guess him on it. As governor, he has to juggle considerations of state politics as well as possible aspirations to national office. That ain't easy, and I don't know enough about Florida politics to offer an opinion.
Or it may be that, as a faithful Roman Catholic, DeSantis set aside all political considerations and just went with his conscience. That possibility actually bothers me more than the idea he made some kind of political calculation. Why? Because it brings Jimmy Carter to mind, that's why.
04 — Ron on immigration. Ron DeSantis's position on immigration has been getting some news coverage, too — especially since he's given signs of supporting some tough new laws on illegal aliens that the Florida state legislature is considering.
What will these laws do if they come into effect? Well, they'll:
They may also — it's not been definitely decided yet — eliminate in-state college tuition for illegal-alien students, including the so-called DACA cases who claim they were brought here as children.
That's all good obvious stuff. Should Florida cops help the feds to enforce federal law? Of course they should. Obviously they should.
The item preceding that one is even beyond obvious. Are there really people who think that illegal aliens should be allowed to practice law in their state?
Incredibly, yes there are. We have illegals practicing law here in New York State, with the approval of our state supreme court. Just one more reason to stay out of New York.
I'm trespassing in this topic, though. Here at VDARE.com our own correspondent "Washington Watcher II" covered the proposed Florida laws, and Ron DeSantis's positions on immigration, in depth and at length last Sunday. I recommend that piece to your attention if you haven't already read it.
Washington Watcher II argues correctly that while DeSantis is admirably tough on illegal immigration he shows signs of squishiness on the legal variety.
This is all the more surprising when you recall that Florida is home to the Disney Corporation and that Disney was, when the issue surfaced in the middle of the last decade, one of the more egregious instances of a company laying off American workers in favor of cheaper foreigners on guest-worker visas.
After that came out — with Disney by no means the only offender, I should say — it was an issue nationwide in the 2016 election and probably helped Donald Trump to win.
Given that Ron DeSantis
you'd think that Ron would be holding high the banner of restrictions on legal immigration.
As our Washington Watcher II points out, though, the Governor of Florida has a powerful and well-funded Cuban lobby to deal with. If, God willing, DeSantis makes it to the presidency, he may be able to ignore them, but … he's not there yet. He's still in Florida.
As a footnote to this, I have a comment on the dishonesty of the regime media in reporting about immigration.
Like Washington Watcher II, I used as my main news source here the April 10th news report — and yes, it was printed in the News section — offered by The New York Times. The author is Miriam Jordan, who the Times describes as, quote, "a national correspondent covering immigration," end quote.
Oh, she's covering it, all right — covering it with molasses and chocolate sprinkles. Sample paragraph, quote:
The legislative push [i.e. in Florida] runs counter to a trend elsewhere in the country to integrate the nation's existing population of undocumented immigrants, estimated at more than 10 million.
Leaving aside that weasely term "undocumented immigrants," which I think we're all inured to at this point, just fix your attention on the closing words there: "estimated at more than 10 million."
The regime media has been telling us for at least twenty years that the number of illegal aliens living in the United States is eleven million.
That it's been a stable eleven million — or a stable any number — for twenty years seems improbable in the extreme. I was hearing way back in the 2010s that respectable analysts had come up with twenty or thirty million.
I'm guessing that if I were to confront Ms Jordan with that, she'd reply: "So what's wrong with what I said? I said 'more than 10 million.' Well, thirty million is more than ten million, isn't it?"
05 — Not persuasion but humiliation. If you'll excuse me, I'm just going to recycle an old favorite of mine. That sneaky little "more than 10 million" in the New York Times piece brought it to mind: that, and the front page of yesterday's New York Post, which happens to be lying on my desk.
The Post front page is dominated by two words in very large print: BIDEN LIED. There's a picture of our president below that with, as background, a great crowd of illegals at the southern border wall.
So those were my prompts, reminding me of that old favorite. It's a little journalistic gem from forty years ago that I know I have quoted before more than once, but which bears re-quoting now and then.
This was Timothy Garton Ash, a writer with long experience of dealing with communists in Eastern Europe. Here he was writing in the London Spectator, August 13th 1983. Quote:
Imagine sitting round a table with four apparently sane and civilized men, the senior of whom suddenly remarks: "Of course, the Earth is flat." You expect the others to demur. But no. "Flat," says one. "Very flat," agrees his neighbor. "How else could we walk upright!" exclaims the third. And then they all smile at you, challenging dissent.
I had just returned to England after living a year in China when that came out, so I could relate to it with no difficulty at all. Yes, that was a common experience in communist countries, and no doubt still is.
The key background point was explained to us some years later by a different commentator, Theodore Dalrymple. Quote from him:
In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate.
Our own politicians have always lied, of course. They didn't used to lie any more than necessary, though; and their lies were furtive, and obfuscated as far as possible by tricks of language and presentation.
It seems to me that those older styles of political mendacity are now giving way to the more brazen communist style. Our politicians lie to us now, right to our faces, "And then they all smile at you, challenging dissent."
Dalrymple was right. Nothing is more psychologically painful, more destructive of the individual ego, than humiliation.
Joe Biden leads the way here, as that New York Post cover story makes clear.
Back in January, when the administration pretended to tighten up the rules for citizens of Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua, the president said, quote:
But if their application [for asylum, made online or at a port of entry] is denied or if they attempt to cross into the United States unlawfully, they will be returned back to Mexico and will not be eligible for this program after that.
As the New York Post story makes clear, that was a bare-faced lie. At just one of the seventy-odd checkpoints on our southern border, an average of 300 people a day from those countries are being waved through without process.
And how many times has Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas assured us, looking straight into the camera, that "The border is secure"? I don't know how many times altogether but I can tell you the most recent time: Wednesday this week.
And then there's U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the investigation of Hunter Biden's taxes and foreign business dealings. A federal grand jury in Delaware has been conducting that investigation since, according to the Associated Press, at least 2018.
Just savor that for a moment: a grand jury laboring away for five years on a matter mainly to do with tax evasion. Do the grand jurors have any lives outside the jury room? Do they have jobs to keep or businesses to run? I'd like to know.
Could it be that the Biden administration has, at any rate for the last two of those five years, been deliberately holding up the investigation? Which, I presume, for the prior three years had been stalled by the political power structure in Delaware, the Bidens' home ground?
Absolutely not! Comrade Garland told a congressional committee last month. No way! Impossible!
We are now hearing, however, that a whistleblower has emerged from the IRS to claim that Comrade Garland was lying. The whistleblower — actually his attorney — says he has evidence.
They lie. We know they're lying and they know we know. They don't care that we know. The object is not persuasion, it's humiliation — to break our wills and make us obedient subjects of the all-knowing, all-powerful state.
I might as well have stayed in China.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just one more on Ron DeSantis.
If you belong to the dwindling number of Americans who watch TV, you've likely seen those commercials put out by Trump's people to turn viewers off DeSantis. A key point they make is that when DeSantis was in the House of Representatives he voted to cut Medicare and Social Security.
It's a stretch; but yes, at various times in his political career DeSantis has voted for minor restructuring in the programs. A great many other Republican politicians have similarly voted, including Donald Trump's BFF Paul Ryan.
DeSantis was wise — if not politically wise, at least fiscally wise — to do so. These programs for older citizens are unsustainable as currently enacted, and need restructuring. And no, this is not some "OK Boomer" twentysomething saying this: I've been drawing Social Security for twelve years and plan to go on drawing it.
The problem here is one being faced by all advanced societies: swelling numbers of geezers, dwindling numbers of taxpaying workers. In France they're having major riots about it.
And, quote from Reuters, March 14th, quote:
Eleven of China's 31 provincial-level jurisdictions are running pension budget deficits, finance ministry data show. The state-run Chinese Academy of Sciences sees the pension system running out of money by 2035.
As I recall, 2035 is also the date usually given as when our own Social Security spigot will run dry. Be interesting to see who copes better with this, us or the ChiComs.
Item: Speaking of China, here are some people who may have an opinion on that last item.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that those crowds flooding over our southern border into the U.S.A. include a big contingent from China. As Xi Jinping consolidates his power ever more solidly, more and more Chinese people want to get out. Quote:
The Chinese migrants making dangerous treks through Latin America are a subset of the larger outflow of Chinese of all wealth levels. Under Mr. Xi, the private sector has been squeezed, forcing layoffs and driving away entrepreneurs. Others worry political repression will only get more suffocating as Mr. Xi embarks on his third term in power.
Longtime followers of VDARE.com will be familiar with the term "revealed preference." Never mind what people say; watch what they do.
For all the bitching we do here in the States — and yes, I do my share — there are people willing to make long, arduous journeys in the hope of getting here. That includes a lot of Chinese people.
So I guess I was right after all to not stay in China.
Item: A new frontier has opened up in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: vets. No, not military veterans; these are the vets who treat animals, veterinarians.
Yes, DEI has come for the veterinary profession. The Legal Insurrection Foundation, which monitors events in our ongoing Cultural Revolution, has learned that eight of the top eleven schools training vets have DEI on their curriculums; three of them have school-wide mandatory training in Critical Race Theory.
Presumably the idea is that bigoted white supremacists who don't want their pet cats, dogs, goldfish, or aardvarks treated by persons of color should be shown the error of their ways and brought into the 21st century.
Resistance is futile. Correct your thinking, comrade!
And if you don't believe there is such a thing as a pet aardvark, I have read of at least one example. His owners named him Emilion. Get it? [Sings] "Aardvark Emilion miles for one of your smiles …" [Boo, hiss.]
Item: That item was depressing for sure. And it brings to mind a question I have been asking recently.
Let's imagine — it doesn't seem at all impossible — that the trans-sexualism cult joins forces with PETA, the animal-liberation people to form a single united lobby. Would that kill off dairy farming? How about stud farms? I'm just wondering.
I wonder a lot about things like that. Here's another one of my questions, on a different aspect of our Cultural Revolution unrelated to veterinary DEI.
Question: If, as the climate-change fanatics insist, we shall no longer be using fossil fuels by … what is it? 2040? … what then will happen to air travel?
How far along have we progressed in the development of battery-powered jumbo jets? I'm just wondering.
07 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, for your time and your patience — also, as always, for your kind donations and emails.
Among the emails I got following last week's podcast was one from a friend who knows far more about music than I ever shall. He thought it a pity, following that item about golliwogs being purged from the English pub, that I had not offered Debussy's "Golliwogg's Cakewalk" as my signout music.
Better late than never, Sir. There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Debussy's "Golliwogg's Cakewalk."]