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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, traditional instruments version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners, from your arithmetically genial host John Derbyshire with news of the hour.
Well, sort of. The political news of the hour is dominated by the regime's vendetta against Donald Trump, which seems to have gone to a new level this week with the Georgia indictments.
I'm in two minds about this — about anything to do with Trump, really. On the one hand, I hate all the people who hate Trump — I mean, the established elites who are going to chase him out of public life if they can — warmongers, world-savers, wealthy progressives with contempt in their hearts for what one of them revealingly called the "Deplorables."
My enemy's enemy is my friend; so since I hate all the Trump-haters, I should be Trump's friend. I'm not, of course; although I might try giving him a call next time I need a loan.
Let's just say I'm not ill-disposed towards him. I was glad to see him win in 2016; if he's the GOP candidate next year and there's no-one I find appealing on an independent ticket, I shall vote for Trump.
He was a weak and ineffectual president, though, so I'd vote without much hope. I want Trumpism — the Trumpism of the 2016 platform — but I don't want Trump. I hope the GOP can persuade him to get out of the race before next year's primaries start. He'd be doing his country a service, as a patriot should.
That's all I have to say about that. Now let's talk about immigration.
02 — Open Borders: islands of linguistic stasis. In a post on Tuesday this week here at VDARE.com, I included a segment titled "Fight Newspeak!" In that segment I used an extract from an opinion article by Adam Ellwanger, Professor of English at the University of Houston. Professor Ellwanger tracks the way we have, across the years, most commonly referred to illegal aliens.
We started by referring to them as, duh, "illegal aliens," a straightforward and precise term used in federal legislation. However, it turned out that some high proportion of Americans thought that the word "alien" was a synonym for "bug-eyed monster," so we switched to "illegal immigrant."
But hey, no human being is illegal! Only acts can be illegal: larceny, forgery, assault, etc. So we switched to "undocumented persons." That prefix "un-" is kinda negative, though … so after wrestling with our national conscience a few more years we ended up, in the Obama administration, with "migrant workers."
A "migrant" is just someone who moves around, and Americans highly value freedom of movement. But what are they doing while they move around? Working! The Protestant work ethic that has been at the core of American identity insists upon the virtue of hard work. Thus, the "illegal alien" is reconstituted as a paragon of industry and individualism. Is it any coincidence that as we softened and neutralized this terminology, and thereby valorized the persons to whom it referred, our nation became less and less able to meaningfully address the problem of illegal immigration? Rhetorical manipulation is a power that the Left has applied to issue after issue, and it is a gambit that we need to grow more courageous in resisting.
That's a powerful and important piece Prof Ellwanger wrote, reminding us that
There is something to be said on the other side, though. Yes: those with authority in the public sphere will steadily shift and twist the language of public discourse to make the positions that they favor sound more agreeable — more just, moral, and proper.
However, when they have got the language the way they want it, they will carve it on slabs of stone, never to be changed.
Sure, the fluidity of political language is nicely illustrated by that wandering track from "illegal alien" to "migrant worker"; but in among all that fluidity there are islands of stasis — words and phrases held to be sacred across the years.
Here is one of those islands of stasis: the phrase "our broken immigration system." If you are at or near a computer that has a search engine installed, just type in that phrase and hit Enter.
I just did it with Google Chrome. I got "about 97,800" hits, just short of a hundred thousand. The earliest of them was dated January 31st 2001, a few days into the first George W. Bush administration.
So that phrase, "our broken immigration system," has been on the tongues of politicians and opinion-formers for at least 22 years, through four presidencies.
[Added when archiving: My indefatigable editor James Fulford, who knows his way round the internet much better than I do, did a deeper dive. James:
And it still has legs. If I limit my search to just this last week I get 30 hits, with a note from Mr Google telling me these are only the 30 most relevant to my query.
Quoted using the phrase were: U.S. Senator Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director for America's Voice, U.S. Representative Adam Smith of Washington State, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the American Hotel & Lobby Association, Jay Ruais, who is running for Mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. Representative Michael Lawler of New York, … and other politicians and opinionators from all over: Democrats, Republicans, an Independent, and Unknowns.
Did I say that the phrase "our broken immigration system" has legs? It's a frickin' centipede.
There are other similar phrases carved in stone and not to be doubted. There is, for example, the phrase "eleven million." For how many years have we been hearing that given as the number of illegal aliens among us? I'm pretty sure it's at least twenty years.
And it's still current: a Google search brought up dozens of references dated as late as August 4th this year. Truly amazing that the number could be so stable across twenty years.
Going back to the phrase "our broken immigration system," though: What does it mean? What's actually broken about our immigration system?
As you may have divined, I've taken a deep dive into this. I've read several thousand words about that phrase and its meaning.
Here is the most concise answer I have found to the question I just posed. It's from an opinion piece by Byron York at the Washington Examiner, dated August 27, 2014 — just nine years ago next week. Here are the relevant two paragraphs, quote.
Of all the arguments made in the long and contentious debate over immigration reform, the one heard most often, from all sides, is that our immigration system is [inner quote] "broken." [End inner quote.] President Obama, John Boehner, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Chuck Schumer, John McCain, Dick Durbin — just about every politician who has ever weighed in on the issue has said it.
That really sums it up. I doubt that Byron York and I would agree on what our country's immigration needs are, but we have a system that manages legal immigration, as defined by law, approximately well, whatever you may think of the actual law. Illegal immigration, however, is not managed at all, because no power center — no-one of any political weight — wants it to be.
Illegal immigration means entry to our country, or stay in our country, contrary to federal laws — laws passed by the people's elected representatives in Congress assembled. We can read the laws for ourselves, they are on the internet.
Here, for example, is Title 8 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part VIII, Section 1324. Among many, many provisions there is one in Subsection (a), Paragraph 3, Subparagraph (A), that says, quote:
Any person who, during any 12-month period, knowingly hires for employment at least 10 individuals with actual knowledge that the individuals are aliens described in subparagraph (B) shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.
The "aliens described in subparagraph (B)" are of course illegal aliens.
So you can be fined or imprisoned for up to five years for employing illegal aliens. Yet we all know that illegal aliens are widely employed. Every landscaping firm on Long Island employs them. Why aren't there prosecutions?
Well, let's see. Here's a document dated December 7th 2011, the third year of the first Obama administration. It's a, quote, "Memorandum of Understanding," end quote, which is to say an agreement. It's an agreement between the federal Department of Labor and the federal Department of Homeland Security, signed by principals of both departments.
What was it the two departments agreed to back there in 2011? Well, the Memorandum is five pages of officialese, but the gist of it is that the DHS, actually its enforcement arm ICE, will not take any action against a firm accused of employing illegal aliens until the DOL has conducted a thorough inquiry.
At the speed federal departments move, that DOL inquiry will take a couple of years; by which time the firm under investigation is well aware of it and has sent all its illegal workers back to cadging cigarettes in the Home Depot parking lot.
Here's another document from the feds, this one much more recent: September 30th 2021, a few months into the Biden administration. It's a memorandum from DHS Secretary Mayorkas to Tae D. Johnson, the Acting Director of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Subject: Guidelines for the Enforcement of Civil Immigration Law.
Mayorkas' memo leans hard on the issue of prosecutorial discretion. Sample sentence, quote: "The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen therefore should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them." End quote.
The gist of the thing is, that ICE should not enforce the law on employment of illegal aliens — assuming, that is, that the 2011 agreement with the DOL gives them the chance to — they shouldn't enforce the law unless someone's assembling nuclear weapons or running a major international drug ring.
So yes: the people's elected representatives in Congress assembled write and pass laws. Then federal government agencies subvert those laws to make sure they won't be enforced.
Doesn't that make the people's elected representatives mad, that their designs have been thwarted?
Not at all. They knew they would be. In fact, they help the process. I'm reliably informed that that 2011 "Memorandum of Understanding" between the departments of Labor and Homeland Security was pressed on the DHS by congresscritters as a condition of DHS getting the funding they wanted.
OK, OK, but I talked about "power centers" back there, and referred to "the people's elected representatives." Aren't we, the people a power center? If our elected national legislature passes a law, presumably because we want them to, and then colludes with federal agencies to subvert that law, shouldn't we be mad as hell?
To that, I'm afraid the only response I can give is some words I wrote twenty years ago in a column about my own experience as an illegal alien. Quoting myself, March 24th 2003:
Nations, like individuals, have their own ineradicable quirks of personality. It is a peculiarity of Americans that they cannot be brought to think seriously about immigration. The two best immigration-restrictionist books of recent years have been by Peter Brimelow, who is an immigrant from England, and Michelle Malkin, daughter of recent Filipino immigrants. If you have been through, or sufficiently close to, the immigration experience, you think about it a lot. Otherwise, you don't think about it at all, and can't be made to. Take it from me, a sometime illegal immigrant: getting this nation to concentrate on immigration reform is going to be hard work all the way.
03 — Open Borders: Fake morality. I think I did sufficient of a number there on Open Borders diction. Here's a segment on Open Borders morality.
Open Borders morality is bogus, of course, in several different ways. One of the ways it's bogus is in its pretended concern for people in other lands, places poorer than the U.S.A. If we bring them here they'll be so much better off! And with the remittances they send back, their fellow-countrymen will be better off, too!
Well, let's see. Here's a country worse off than us: Nigeria. Real GDP per capita: $4,900. Median age: 14.8 years. Total Fertility Rate: 4.57 children per woman. Population growth rate: 2.53 percent (which means the population will double in 28 years).The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Nigeria 150th most corrupt nation out of 180.
But hey, it's what they're used to, right? Nigerians on the whole are OK with their country as it is, right?
Apparently not. Quote:
All told, 73 percent of Nigerians in 2021 wanted to go, according to the Nigeria Social Cohesion Survey, which was up by 41 percentage points on the previous one, in 2019. With corruption and physical insecurity rampant, annual inflation at 23 percent, and 63 percent of adult Nigerians deemed "multidimensionally poor," it is no surprise that the japa syndrome is stronger than ever.
The what syndrome? Japa is a verb in the Yoruba language meaning to run, flee, or escape. I learned that, and took the foregoing quote, from an article about Nigeria in the August 12th issue of The Economist. Japa is a current buzz-word in Nigeria, says the article, referring to people fleeing the country to live abroad.
The japa problem is especially acute in the medical field. Nigerian doctors and nurses are escaping the country in the thousands every year, mostly for jobs in the U.S.A., Britain, and Canada. There are only 24,000 doctors left in Nigeria to serve a population of 220 million — one doctor per 9,000 citizens. In the U.S.A. the ratio is one doctor per 310 citizens.
Isn't it worth it for all those remittances sent back, though? I doubt it. The Economist says remittances run about $20 billion a year — less than ten dollars per Nigerian head.
And things are going to get worse. This article quotes something called The Association of Resident Doctors — resident in Nigeria, that is — as saying that 85 percent of doctors still in the country are planning to emigrate. And, quote: "Many thousands of other talented Nigerians are trying to leave," end quote.
That's an aspect of our immigration policy — ours and Britain's and Canada's and the oil-rich Gulf States — that you don't hear much about. We're strip-mining the Third World of its Smart Fraction.
Do world-saver globalist progressives ever talk about this? Not that I've heard.
04 — Open Borders innumeracy. Underlying a lot of our immigration problems is widespread innumeracy.
Take for example New York City's Mayor Eric Adams. Just exactly a year ago — August 19th 2022 — Adams announced Project Open Arms, defined as, quote:
A comprehensive plan to support families seeking asylum and ensure children are provided a full range of services to start their New York City public education on the first day of school next month. This multi-agency plan highlights wraparound services to ensure asylum-seeking families and their children will have access to critical academic, social-emotional, and language-based supports needed to be successful in New York City public schools.
Mayor Adams himself heralded the announcement by saying, quote: "Our city has been, and will always be, a city of immigrants that welcomes newcomers with open arms," end quote.
Does His Honor know the current population of the world? It's well over eight billion people. How many of them are of the same frame of mind as the 73 percent of Nigerians who want to japa?
Well, I'm sure it's less than 73 percent. Plenty of places are much nicer than Nigeria. But then again, plenty are worse — plenty of countries in Africa, South and Southeast Asia, South and Central America, the Caribbean, …
Let's rule out completely the three billion people in China and India, the half billion in Europe, and another half billion in decent countries elsewhere. That leaves four billion living in crappy countries. And let's suppose that the proportion who would emigrate if they could is not Nigeria's 73 percent but only a third of that, say 25 percent. Twenty-five percent of four billion is one billion. And most of them have heard of New York.
Did Mayor Adams do any arithmetic like that before opening his fool mouth? If he had, he might have saved himself the humiliations he is now undergoing at the hands of New York State's dimwitted governor and our nation's dementia-addled president.
I went through the arithmetic because I'm a numbers guy, always have been. I discovered the number one million shortly after learning to read, and disfigured all my books by writing millions in the margins: one million, two million, five million, … I thought numbers ending with comma, three zeroes, comma, three zeroes were simply fascinating.
The fascination survived into my adult life. As a schoolteacher in my twenties I wanted my class to see a million. I got some graph paper ruled in centimeters and millimeters. With scissors and paste and some backing board from a business store I constructed an array one meter square, a million square millimeters, that the kids could gawp at. "That's a million," I'd tell them. "Try to keep the image in your mind. And try counting them …" They soon got the point.
All right, I'm a bit eccentric about numbers. That beats being innumerate, though. When I attain supreme power I shall order that every government office in my domain shall display a board like the one I made for my class, showing a million one-millimeter squares. Public officials need to know what a million looks like: a million people, a million dollars, whatever; they need a daily visual reminder.
If Mayor Adams had had one of those displays in his office it might have spared him saying the dumb fool thing I just quoted him as saying.
And if the Mayor of New York back in 1981 — that would have been Ed Koch — had had one in his office it might have prompted him to fight with every means at his disposal against the infamous city Shelter Law that obliges New York to provide safe, clean shelter with beds for anyone that asks for it.
That law was the poisonous fruit of the late-1970s panic over homelessness. It needs repealing right now. Does Eric Adams have the guts to repeal it? Nah, he doesn't have any guts at all, only a mouth.
[Clip, extract from "Rich Men North of Richmond":
Yes, that's the song you've been hearing about, Oliver Anthony's working-class protest song. Rather than bite deeper into his royalties, I'll just read you the lyrics. Here we go.
I've been sellin' my soul, workin' all day
Then the chorus:
Livin' in the new world
And then the chorus again.
Anthony's been getting it from both sides for that. Right side: Yes, that's the authentic voice of the Trump-voting resistance. Left side: What a loser.
Which side does Radio Derb come down on? I'm straddling.
I totally see the point of the right side. North of Richmond is Washington, D.C. and the lush suburban counties round about it.
Five of the top seven counties in the U.S.A. ranked by median household income fall under that description, and that's a national disgrace. The federal government is far too big, far too rich, far too well-paid, and far too localized in one small zone. And yes, "they all just wanna have total control."
And yes again: If you're eating on a welfare dollar you should be getting basic nutrition, nothing more. And yes, our governments have been sending young men off to die in futile missionary wars — disproportionally young men from the same kind of background as the singer here, not young men from prosperous families in those lush counties of Loudon, Falls Church, Fairfax, Howard, and Arlington, north of Richmond.
The song is kind of whiny, though. We come into the world with a stock of gifts, of talents — most of us, a very small stock. As life proceeds, some of us will end up better off than others. A few of us will be in the ruling class. Some of us will be doing drudge work for low wages.
Those things have been true since the beginning of time. Sure, if you think the country's being mis-managed, say so. I do, all the time. If you didn't end up where you hoped to, though, that is not likely any fault of the government, unless you were one of those poor souls killed or maimed in one of their pointless wars.
Play the cards you've been dealt, as best you can. Find what satisfactions you can and don't complain.
Executive summary: I see where Oliver Anthony's coming from and I'm not totally unsympathetic; but I don't much like his attitude. I don't find victimology appealing.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Go woke, go broke. Anheuser-Busch learned it earlier this year when they hired Dylan Mulvaney to promote Bud Light beer. Mulvaney is a trans woman, which — let me get this right — means a guy who wants to live as a woman. That turned beer drinkers off for some reason, and sales of Anheuser-Busch took a hit.
Now it seems that the chain store Target is learning the same lesson. Target made a big issue of Pride Month, formerly known as June. They had those ridiculous garish flags out all over, and extravagant displays of things like gender-neutral swimsuits.
So Target took a hit. As of this Tuesday's close, their stock is down sixteen percent on the year. Ouch!
Quote from Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, quote:
The retailer said it expected sales to decline again in the current quarter and lowered its profit goal for the full year. Executives said they would still mark Pride Month next year but with a more focused assortment of merchandise.
The last sentence in that quote sounds like some kind of appeasement. The thing I hear is that what's driving these dumb decisions is lower-level employees with IQ in the dimwit-to-midwit range lobbying their bosses to show proper respect to the prouds, so the executives have to give the floor employees something, but not too much.
Item: You may have heard that there's trouble in Niger, a no-account country just south of the Sahara Desert in Africa, principally famous for having the world's highest Total Fertility Rate: 6.73 children per woman.
I couldn't tell you what the nature of the trouble is, and can't be bothered to find out. My sympathies here are with Sir Winston Churchill, who was once heard to grumble, quote: "I have lived for seventy-eight years without ever hearing of bloody places like Cambodia," end quote.
I did, though, spot a tweet on Twitter — or an X on X, whatever Musk wants us to say now — showing an aerial photograph of a big military base in the desert there in Niger, which the tweeter says is ours and cost the Pentagon $100 million to construct. He further says that a thousand American troops are stationed there.
I'd ask what the hell we're doing in Niger spending all that money, but I know there's no point. Globalists gotta globalize, world-savers gotta save the world. I'm just hoping next year's elections will give us the chance to send the world-savers back to their basements playing Call of Duty, which is what God created them for.
Item: Remember 9/11, twenty-two years ago next month?
Oh, let me put down a marker before I proceed. If you are a conspiracy theorist who believes that the World Trade Center was brought down by the Jews, the Freemasons, the Rosicrucians, white supremacists, space aliens, or the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, please don't email in to tell me what a pathetic gullible dupe I am for thinking that the deed was done by a gang of crazy Arabs. That's what I really do actually think.
Well, we've had five of those lunatics in custody at Guantanamo Bay since 2006. They have not yet gone to trial and no trial date has yet been set.
Let me just say that again: These vermin conspired to kill three thousand people and destroy two of our landmark buildings. We've had them in custody for seventeen years without trial.
This week's news is about a plea deal being considered by the Biden administration. The deal seems to be that the five crazy Arabs will be spared the death penalty, in return for … what? We haven't been told. Perhaps in return for them telling us they're really really sorry.
These five should have been given a summary trial the day after capture, then taken round the nearest corner and shot. Instead we allow lawyers to dither and babble and fuss over them for seventeen years … so far …
Item: Back in June I gave a mighty boost to Vivek Ramaswamy's presidential campaign by declaring him the Radio Derb candidate, although with reservations on legal immigration and our continuing membership in NATO.
Catching sight of him now and then on TV chat shows and YouYube interviews, I haven't seen anything to change my opinion. Ramaswamy is smart, well-informed, and talks more sense than an average three candidates together.
He still hasn't said much more on legal immigration than that it should be strictly meritocratic, and the visa lottery eliminated. Nothing much on NATO either, other than a firm determination not to let Ukraine join the alliance.
And the fantasies being aired on Twitter and elsewhere of both the U.S.A. and the U.K. having leaders of Hindu origin are not likely to attain reality. If Ramaswamy wins the primaries and then the general, he'll be inaugurated as president at the end of January 2025. As it happens, under British rules Prime Minister Rishi Sunak can call an election any time he likes, but not later than January 24th 2025.
Since Sunak's Conservative Party will almost certainly lose the election, there's not likely to be any two-Hindu overlap. I agree, though, that their joint portaits would look nice on a celebration coffee mug.
07 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thanks as always for your time and attention, for your emails and donations. Special thanks to the two friends who dropped by last weekend for an evening of vigorous, intelligent conversation.
Wednesday this week was August 16th. To those of a certain vintage that brings to mind an earlier August 16th; and who that was alive and sentient will ever forget where he was and what he was doing when he heard the sad news. Good night, sweet King, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Elvis, "Loving You."]