»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, January 19th, 2024

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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, dobro guitar version]

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners. That was a bit of Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 played on the dobro guitar and this is your incessantly genial host John Derbyshire.

I have an unusually long list of things to comment on this week. Either the week was exceptionally eventful or I have been exceptionally attentive to the news. I'm betting the latter.

Whichever may be the case, I have a lot to get through, so let's dive in.

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02 — Election prospects.     The Iowa Republican Party caucuses dominated the week's news, especially the early part of the week. Pundits were squinting at the results to see what they portend for November's presidential election.

The answer may be: not much. If you scan back through the history of these caucuses, they have not been very predictive. Ted Cruz won in 2016; Rick Santorum in 2012, Mike Huckabee in 2008. In 1980 Poppy Bush won the GOP caucuses while Jimmy Carter, the incumbent President, won the Democrat ones. Neither was sitting in the White House the following year.

The winner of the Democratic Party caucuses in 1992 got 76 percent of the vote, a huge landslide. His name was … Tom Harkin. Remember Tom Harkin? No, me neither. He was a favorite son, had represented Iowa in Congress — House and Senate — for seventeen years. So, yeah.

Watching the candidates talking their way up to these caucuses, in fact, you can't help wondering — well, I can't help wondering — what percentage of them really expect to end up with the Presidency. My guess would be around thirty percent of them overall. The other seventy percent are just looking to rise another couple of steps on the staircase of public office: to a cozy cabinet position or agency headship, or just maybe the Vice Presidency.

As I'm sure you know, Donald Trump won this one with 51 percent of the vote. Ron DeSantis was second with just over twenty percent, and then Nikki-tikki-tavi with just under twenty percent.

Turnout was low, the lowest for many years, mainly because of the awful weather on Monday. Only one in seven of Iowa's registered Republicans voted; but, yeah, over fifty percent of them voted Trump. He won 98 of Iowa's 99 counties, and only lost the other one by a single vote: 1,270 to 1,271.

Claremont fellow Jeremy Carl did a good breakdown and posted it on X. All three lead candidates — yes, including Trump — did better with women than with men; only Ramaswamy did better with men. Age-wise, DeSantis and Ramaswamy together took almost half of the under-30 voters; Trump swept the over-30s … and so on.

As you can tell, I'm hesitant to draw any large conclusions for November. Only two things can be said for certain. One is that Trump is very much in the running with a big popular base. The regime will have to seriously ramp up the lawfare if they want to kill his chances of being on the November ticket, which of course they do.

The other thing certain is that Vivek Ramaswamy is out of the race: he made it official Monday night, suspending his campaign and endorsing Trump.

Of all the candidates, Ramaswamy gained the most from running. He went from being a name nobody had heard or knew how to pronounce, to being a national figure.

I'm glad for him. He is smart, articulate, young, and America First. His only weakness is lack of executive experience in government — which is, as Trump discovered seven years ago, not at all the same thing as executive experience in business. In that respect DeSantis is better. I'd happily take either of them as Vice President on Trump's ticket, but with a preference for DeSantis.

Ramaswamy has a lively sense of humor, too. Wednesday this week he posted the following thing on X concerning our current Vice President. Post:

Kamala is in charge of AI policy right now. In a debate, I'd challenge her to see if she can spell "AI."

I'd bet on the same blank stare I got from Nikki when I asked her to name 3 provinces in eastern Ukraine.

End post.

Indeed. It's hard to believe that we shall be looking at a Biden-Harris ticket this Fall. I mean, really? A nation of a third of a billion people, and this is the best we can bring forward?

Biden's been a figure of mockery for as long as I've been settled here, nigh on forty years. He's a walking, talking advertisement for term limits — although nowadays, in his dotage, poor guy, more of a stumbling, mumbling one. Plus we now know things we didn't know forty years ago: that he is shamelessly corrupt, bone idle, and a chronic liar.

And then, Kamala Harris? Good grief!

Are the Democrats really going to run these two fifth-raters again? I don't believe it. The regime has some kind of plan. Surely, surely …

Even more astonishing and depressing is that Americans will vote for them. Mid-week, in fact, after those Iowa caucuses, two very respectable polling firms came out with numbers favoring Biden over Trump by a slight margin: 40 percent to 38 percent in one poll, 44 to 43 in the other (with different wording).

Two out of five of my fellow citizens would cast a vote for Joe Biden. Despair I know is a sin, but sometimes it's hard to fend off.

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03 — Biden's Mexico deal.     One heartening result from the Iowa caucuses is the one noted at length by our own correspondent Washington Watcher II on Tuesday: the salience of the immigration issue as a top concern among Iowa caucus goers, and among Republican voters in general, nationwide. The gross excesses of the Biden administration's Open Borders policy have stirred deep resentment all over.

That's certainly good; but there are cautionary points to be added.

One is straightforwardly political. The regime can read the numbers just as well as we can. They know that the border chaos and the lesser chaoses it has spawned all over, especially in blue-state "sanctuary cities," will be a negative for the Democratic Party in this year's elections.

There are things they can do about this. Most obviously, they can reduce the numbers of Third World settler-colonists coming in to the U.S.A.  A great many voters have little or no political memory. By the end of Joe Biden's fourth year in the White House the excesses of his first three years will be a fading memory.

OK, but how to reduce the incoming numbers? The administration could of course just apply our immigration laws strictly, as intended. They could, for example, return to granting parole for noncitizens only to cases of, quote, "urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons for a person to be in the United States," end quote, instead of handing out parole certifications like birthday candy.

Strict application of the immigration laws is, though, the last thing the regime will consider. What else we got?

Well, since most of the illegal settlers come over the border from Mexico, why not do a deal with the Mexican government to prevent illegals reaching the border in such large numbers?

That is the path our federal government has taken. Last month Biden's Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas flew down to Mexico to meet with that country's President López Obrador, popularly known as "AMLO."

Newspaper reports following the meeting told us it was a big nothingburger. The December 28th New York Post, for example, reported that, quote:

The resulting "Joint Communique" from that parley reveals Mexico City has no interest in assisting an administration that won't secure US borders.

End quote.

That "Joint Communique," on closer inspection, turned out to be worse than a nothingburger — a negativeburger, in fact. Fox News January 2nd reported it saying, quote:

The delegations also discussed the benefits of regularizing the situation of Hispanic migrants who have been undocumented for several years and the DACA beneficiaries, who are a vital part of the US economy and society.

End quote.

"Regularizing" is of course open-borders code for amnesty.

Yet strangely, the numbers of border crossings from Mexico have dropped dramatically since then. Border Patrol was reporting daily encounters of twelve to fourteen thousand in late December. Latest figures show a big drop, to four or five thousand.

How strange! Could it be that the December meeting was a nothingburger only in appearance? That some deal was made behind the scenes, a deal that Washington would prefer go un-reported?

It certainly could. Journalists, notably Mary Anastasia O'Grady at the Wall Street Journal dug around in Mexico's own news outlets and connected the dots. Yes, Mexico's President AMLO cut a deal with Washington.

On his side of the deal, AMLO has agreed to round up would-be invaders in Mexico's north and ship them to Mexico's south. There they can either proceed to go home to Guatemala, Nicaragua, etc., or else dwell for years in bureaucratic limbo waiting for travel permission from the Mexican authorities.

There have been other measures, too. A huge, longstanding camp of would-be invaders, just across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas, has been bulldozed. Deep anti-pedestrian trenches have been dug around it to prevent re-population. Railyards all over Mexico are being blockaded by Mexican military to stop invaders riding north on their locomotives.

Hence the reduction in numbers. Four and five thousand a day is still a lot, but it's way fewer than before. With appropriate instructions from Washington to the regime media, come November the horror scenes of the past three years will be a fading memory with the American electorate. That's the hope.

So AMLO has done a major favor to Biden and his party. What did he get in return?

Well, he got money, of course. This is Latin America we're talking about. Quote from the New York Post today, January 19th, quote:

AMLO has called for $20 billion dollars to be shared among his country and some others, for starters, according to media reports.

End quote.

That's U.S. taxpayers' money, of course — your money and my money.

And then, there's the hope that by helping Biden AMLO may spare himself from the rigors of another Trump presidency. Trump took a hard line with Mexico, threatening trade tariffs and such. AMLO can reasonably hope for a better deal from a Biden second term.

There is ideology in play, too. According to the aforementioned Mary Anastasia O'Grady at the Wall Street Journal, AMLO really really hates the rhetoric coming out of Washington, from Kamala Harris for example, about the "root causes" driving the invaders north — poverty, corruption, and insecurity in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba.

Quote from Ms O'Grady, speaking of AMLO, quote:

He's also a nationalist with a strong authoritarian streak who is trying to centralize power. The last thing he wants is a coalition of democracies in the Americas, led by the U.S., pressuring him to respect human rights and the independence of institutions.

This explains his defense of the military dictatorships in the region.

End quote.

So that's the deal: cozy up to Mexico's President, stuff some money in his pockets, promise better treatment than he'd get from Trump, stop saying unkind things about Latino dictatorships. In return we get less horrific numbers coming across our Southern border.

If Biden wins a second term, of course, the whole deal will likely unravel. AMLO will demand more billions, Washington will ignore him, and the big rush will be on again. Eh, the things you have to do to get elected …

And I started this segment, after noting with approval the salience of the immigration issue with voters, I started by saying, quote, "there are cautionary points to be added." The deal with Mexico is one of those points.

Another is the immigration romanticism that still has a strong grip on our collective imagination. Nation of immigrants! Statue of Liberty! Huddled masses yearning to breathe free! You know the script.

Here at VDARE.com we are not "anti-immigration." Heck, I am an immigrant, my wife is an immigrant, Peter Brimelow is an immigrant, and so on. We are fine with immigration. We just think it should be discussed, debated, and conducted rationally, as a policy, like farm supports, interstate commerce, healthcare provision, and other issues of general concern. How many more settlers do we want? From where? With what preferred attributes and skills? It's policy, not a romantic dream.

Living in the suburbs of New York City, my TV evening news has been running regular stories about illegal aliens pouring into that city — tens of thousands now in city care. Hotels, parks, even schools have been given over to the needs of the illegals, at a cost to the city of billions.

So on those news clips we see disgruntled New Yorkers complaining about the associated disorder — homelessness, begging, crime. As often as not, though, the citizen being interviewed qualifies his complaints by adding something like: "Of course, I understand they are just seeking a better life …" or "It's not that I don't want to help them …"

That's the immigration romanticism kicking in. That's when I yell at the TV set: "Hey, a guy who robs a bank is seeking a better life!" or "Hey, if a Venezuelan needs help, his first call should be on his fellow Venezuelans, IN VENEZUELA!"

Immigration isn't a romantic crusade, it's a policy, like figuring how many aircraft carriers to build, or whether to issue permits for oil drilling. It's a policy.

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04 — Congress border bill .     As a sidebar to all that, what are our federal legislators doing about the invasion?

Nothing much. Last May the House of Representatives passed a bill, H.R.2, that would firm up our immigration system where illegals are concerned: compulsory E-Verify, strict asylum rules, build a wall, and so on. It does nothing on legal immigration. The bill got zero votes from House Democrats and two Nay votes from House Republicans. It has since gone nowhere, of course.

In the U.S. Senate, meanwhile, work has been proceeding on a so-called Border Security bill. Given that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have now fused into a single biological entity, Chitch McSchumer, I was not surprised to see that the bill, whose details were leaked last Saturday, is wall-to-wall amnesty and actually expands legal immigration. Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, who is said to be supporting the bill, has been cowering in his basement all week from enraged conservatives.

So nothing significant on immigration  — certainly nothing to warm the hearts of immigration patriots — is going to happen legislatively until next year, if then.

Immigration issues may have attained salience with America's voters, but our federal legislators — well, too many of them — are much more interested in Ukraine. Immigration? [Snoring sound.]

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05 — The progressive package.     A thing I've seen quoted half a dozen times on social media in recent weeks is this, apparently from Arnold Kling's 2019 book The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides, which I confess I have not read. I keep seeing the quote, though. Quote:

Liberals see the world as a battle between victims and oppressors.

Conservatives see the world as a battle between civilization and barbarism.

Libertarians see the world as a battle between freedom and coercion.

End quote.

That's a pretty good first approximation. It needs a lot of qualifying, of course — I guess that's why the guy wrote a whole book around it. I really should read the book.

One qualification that I'd make is that what Kling calls "liberalism," but which I think has now mostly morphed into radical progressivism, is much more of a package than are conservatism or libertarianism. I mean, a package as in "nicely, securely wrapped up, with nothing left hanging outside."

Radical progressives buy into the whole package: anti-cop, pro-abortion, open borders, DEI, the whole deal. You can't pick and choose. Conservatives and libertarians are somewhat looser. Plenty of self-described conservatives couldn't care less about abortion — me, for example, and I think Ann Coulter (please correct me, Ann, if I'm wrong) — but "pro-life progressive" is not a creature that walks the Earth.

A side-effect of that, assuming I'm right, is that progressives can be passionate about subjects they don't actually know anything about. Their passion is for the package.

I saw a neat illustration of this at the TRIGGERnometry vlog the other day. Last weekend there was a huge pro-Palestine demonstration in London, inspired by the British and American air strikes against Yemen. Why those strikes are anything to do with the Palestine issue, I'm not clear. I guess Palestinians and Yemenis are all victims, with Brits, Yanks, and Israelis the oppressors.

Yes: anti-Zionism is now, since last October, a part of the progressive package. If you want to be anti-cop, pro-abortion, anti-white, pro-LGBT, etc. then you have to be anti-Zionist. It doesn't make much sense in light of the fact that the Zionists of the early 20th century were all radical socialists, the original kibbutzim little socialist communes with property held in common, and so on; but it's the package, the package.

For a more up-to-date contradiction on display in the London demonstration, how about this, from the Daily Mail report, quote:

Just Stop Oil protesters in fluorescent orange vests also joined the action, sharing a video of their activists clutching large banners walking alongside other activists.

End quote.

Does negativity about drilling for oil really sit at ease with support for Yemen, though? According to the Wikipedia article on Yemen, quote: "petroleum production represents around 25 percent of GDP and 63 percent of the government's revenue." End quote. So … maybe not. But hey, it's all part of the package.

Back to the issue of progressives being passionate on subjects they don't actually know anything about. Konstantin Kisin of the TRIGGERnometry vlog attended the London march for Yemen and Palestine. He posted interviews with some of the young British progressives marching under pro-Palestine banners and placards. Here's a clip from that vlog.

ClipKisin, reading the placard that Demonstrator A is holding up: You're "the New Workers' Party, a socialist alternative to [inaudible] for a socialist intifada …"

Demonstrator A: Yeah.

Kisin: What's a socialist intifada?

Demonstrator A: If I'm being honest with you, I just got this at the stand over there …

Kisin: Okay …

Demonstrator A: Er, I don't actually know the definition of the word "intifada"

Kisin: Okay …

Demonstrator A: … but, I mean …

Kisin: Do any of you know the definition of the word "intifada"?

[Silence.]

Kisin, to Demonstrator B and a placard he's holding: And what about that one?

Demonstrator B: [Unintelligible.]

Kisin: Yeah. And what does that mean?

Demonstrator B: Er … Well, it means to … the … [laughs nervously] …It's … uh …

Kisin: "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free," what does that mean?

Demonstrator C: Well, it's quite self-explanatory. It needs to be …

Kisin: But it's a little more complicated than that, isn't it? Because it's … I guess what I mean is, how would that come about? What would happen to the Israelis?

Demonstrator C, after long pause for thought: I don't … I don't know …

Demonstrator D: I'm trying to think of how to word it. [Pause for thought.] Isn't it just as self-explanatory as the area of land? It's Palestine's land.

Kisin: So when you say "Palestine," which bit do you mean?

Demonstrator D: Yeah: the Gaza strip, the West Bank, … Yeah [Giggles nervously].

Kisin: That's it?

Demonstrator D, giggling: I don't know. Is there another …?

Kisin: I thought it was self-explanatory. I'm getting confused now. I thought it was self-explanatory. [To two other demonstrators.] What about either of you?

Demonstrator E: [Unintelligible] question.

Kisin: It's a bullshit question? Why? Tell me why is it a bullshit question?

Demonstrator E: I'm not fucking getting involved in this, but it's, so, like, inflammatory … Yeah, it's just really inflammatory

Kisin: It's inflammatory. Why is that?

Demonstrator E, turning away dismissively: I'm not getting involved.

Kisin: OK. All right.

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06 — Rumors of war.     Are we heading for World War Three? There's trouble all over: Europe, the Middle East, the West Pacific.

Srdja Trifkovic over at Chronicles magazine thinks we may be. In the January 16th issue of that splendid magazine he starts from last Saturday's election in Taiwan, when Lai Ching-te won the presidency, although with only forty percent of the vote, two other parties sharing the opposition.

Lai belongs to the Democratic Progressive Party, the DPP, of all Taiwan's main parties the one most closely associated with Taiwan independence from mainland China. His election must have annoyed the ChiComs.

That need not necessarily be consequential. I explained the issue in my July 2016 Diary, just back from a visit to Taiwan. Permit me to quote myself. Quote:

The young Saint Augustine asked the Lord to give him chastity and continence, "but not yet" (sed noli modo). Taiwan's approach to its National Question is Augustinian in that sense.

One of the big two political parties, the KMT, favors union with the mainland — but not yet! The other, the DPP, favors Taiwan becoming an independent nation — but not yet!

End quote.

Things have shifted some since then. As I noted, there is a big new third party in play, the Taiwan People's Party, sharing opposition with the KMT, Chiang Kai-shek's old party, whose origins go back nearly a hundred years.

The DPP and KMT remain locked in that Augustinian ambiguity I noted in 2016; but the rise of the TPP complicates things somewhat, so that things are not quite what they were before.

Small changes like that to a long-familiar scenario are what start landslides. With the ChiComs now in charge of major, serious military power while the USA is busy trying to recruit transgender fighter pilots, any raised level of uncertainty anywhere is worrying.

Trifkovic chews over all this in the Chronicles piece, with of course some commentary on the Middle East and all that's happening there. He concludes with this, quote:

Coupled with the looming defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, likely followed by a major Russian offensive come summer, the global mix is becoming volatile in the extreme. Dealing with it demands prudence, wisdom, and strategic clarity. None of this is present in Washington, D.C., in either party. The best we can hope for is that 2024 will not be remembered as a tragic replay of the Guns of August 110 years earlier.

End quote.

Trifkovic doesn't even mention North Korea, which has been giving me nightmares for forty years. It's a nuclear power with long-range missiles run by a clique of power-crazed totalitarians.

That should be cause for worry at any time, but this may not be just any time. I keep up with the Norks by reading the website 38north, which for years has been delivering well-informed opinion on the place.

Here were seasoned North Korea observers Robert Karlin and Siegfried Hecker, posting January 11th at 38north. Opening paragraph, quote:

The situation on the Korean Peninsula is more dangerous than it has been at any time since early June 1950. That may sound overly dramatic, but we believe that, like his grandfather in 1950, Kim Jong Un has made a strategic decision to go to war. We do not know when or how Kim plans to pull the trigger, but the danger is already far beyond the routine warnings in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo about Pyongyang's "provocations." In other words, we do not see the war preparation themes in North Korean media appearing since the beginning of last year as typical bluster from [North Korea].

End quote.

Trifkovic probably filed copy before the news came out midweek about exchanges of air strikes between Iran and Pakistan, on Iran's Eastern border. Military operations between a nuclear power and an almost-nuclear power: you're still not worried? (And Iran's strikes came a few days after Iran struck Iraq, on its Western border. The mullahs are really feeling their oats.)

I used to console myself that a Third World War would not be possible because all the nations with anything on the ball militarily, with the exception of Israel, have fertility rates below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. They are just not producing enough young men to sacrifice on battlefields. Then the Russia-Ukraine war burst that little bubble: Russia's fertility rate 1.5, Ukraine's 1.2. They're still bashing away at each other after two years. So much for consolations.

There is always refuge, of course. Thursday this week the Daily Mail published a curious little piece attempting to answer the question: What are the safest countries on Earth if World War 3 starts?

Their answer, in alphabetic order: Antarctica, Argentina, Bhutan, Chile, Fiji, Greenland, Iceland, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, Tuvalu.

I have serious doubts about that list. Is being fried by a nuclear blast really worse than freezing to death in Antarctica? Iceland: haven't they had volcanos erupting all over the place? And South Africa? Isn't the homicide rate there some multiple of our? Yes it is: 45 per hundred thousand against our six, giving a multiple of seven and a half.

New Zealand, I'll take. Some time in my early teens I read John Wyndham's 1955 sci-fi novel The Chrysalids, which is about North America after a nuclear holocaust. The main characters end up at last in New Zealand, which escaped the worst of the war.

I've had a longstanding ambition to visit New Zealand anyway, for family reasons. Plus, when I wrote about this back in 2009 New Zealand still had very sensible immigration rules: they had just refused a settlement visa to a British woman on the grounds that she was too fat.

Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who I have met a couple of times, took out New Zealand citizenship twelve years ago, apparently with refuge in mind. He purchased a big spread out in the countryside there, planning to build a doomsday shelter. I thought I'd check up on him to see how that went, hoping that on the very tenuous basis of our two encounters I might beg a room down there if things go nuclear.

Alas: when I checked I brought up this news item from a year and a half ago. Headline: Billionaire Peter Thiel's $13.5M dream home in New Zealand is doomed, end headline. Apparently the plan collided with environmentalist objections.

Bad luck there, Peter. If you do get the doomsday refuge shelter project going somewhere else, I'd still like to talk about it …

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07 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  January 6th 2021 was of course a day that will live in infamy. It was on that date that, we have been told on the authority of the president himself, that the USA came closer to annihilation that at any time since the Civil War.

Yes: on that January 6th insurrectionists demonstrated noisily on Capitol Hill, knocked down some fencing, broke some windows, and got themselves admitted to the Capitol building itself, where they walked around taking selfies. The very foundations of our republic trembled. Three years later, arrests are still being made.

Well: Last Saturday, January 13th 2024, there was a similar demonstration at the White House. The demonstrators here were billed as Palestinians, although I suspect a lot of them were American college students, cat ladies, and other progressives who could tell you no more about Palestine than those idiots in London in the segment before last.

Nobody broke in to the White House grounds, but that wasn't for want of trying. We are told that DC police and Secret Service had to rush to one part of the security fence to prevent it being broken down by the mob.

The fun reading here was of course in the comments and comment threads. The phrase "mostly peaceful" was prominent. My favorite, though, was this one, from Whiskey Tango Foxtrot commenting at X, quote: "Have any unarmed women been shot to death yet …?" End quote.

[Permalink]

Item:  Our states and cities are of course being swamped with illegal aliens. Things are particularly acute in Massachusetts, which is a popular destination for the settler colonists.

Alone among the states, Massachusetts has an actual law obliging the authorities to provide, and pay for, shelter and housing for homeless families. The state's housing system is already overwhelmed, though. What to do?

Breitbart reported January 14th that Massachusetts' Governor Maura Healey is asking private homeowners to take in the illegals.

For the time being this scheme is voluntary; I haven't seen any suggestions of coercion. This is a very progressive state, though, so nothing would surprise me. And it's not clear to me that if the state decides to start forcing citizens to take in wetbacks, there is any constitutional objection to their doing so. The Third Amendment specifies only that soldiers can't be quartered in my house without my consent.

These illegals are of course un-vetted. They could be carrying nasty Third World diseases; they could be criminals; they could be here for the purpose of setting up terrorist cells … and so on.

The winning comment here is from Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr, as reported at Breitbart, quote: "Can the residents of, say, Dover or Weston choose between a MS-13 gangbanger and a member of Los Trinitarios?"

[Permalink]

Item:  The genius of great acting is to put yourself across to an audience as someone unlike yourself to at least some degree. The late great Burt Reynolds, who came across as pretty much the same in all his movies, made a self-deprecating wisecrack on that theme, quote: "I may not be the best actor in the world, but I am the best Burt Reynolds in the world." End quote.

Ah, Burt, you were born too soon. The casting Directors of today want authenticity. So at any rate I deduce from the news that the Royal Shakespeare Company from now on will allow only disabled actors to play Richard III.

Just to remind you: Richard III was deformed. He introduces himself to us in the play as, quote:

Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up

End quote.

He was traditionally reckoned to have been a hunchback. Hence Dr Johnson's famous put-down of the acting profession to Boswell:

Boswell:  "We respect a great player, as a man who can conceive lofty sentiments, and can express them gracefully."
Johnson:  "What, Sir, a fellow who claps a lump on his back, and a lump on his leg, and cries 'I am Richard the Third'?"

Since the monarch's bones were dug up from a parking lot in eastern England twelve years ago, however, expert opinion has shifted to scoliosis.

So how close to Richard's actual disability should an actor be? Will any kind of disability be OK with the Casting Director? Or does it have to be precisely scoliosis? The dilemmas of woke authenticity.

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08 — Signoff.     Well, well, I didn't cover half as many stories as I wanted to, and now I've crashed up against my time limit. Sorry, Davos. Sorry, Daniel Penny. I'll try to cover youse next week.

To play us out, here's one for my beautiful daughter Nellie, who had a birthday a few days ago. Happy belated birthday, sweetheart.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week.

[Permalink]

[Music clip: Joe Hickerson, "Hang on the Bell, Nellie."]