»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, February 2nd, 2024


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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, fife'n'drum version]

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome. listeners, from your constitutionally genial host John Derbyshire with a forty-minute scan of the week's news.

One again I apologize for the sound quality of last week's podcast. I say "again" because I apologized in advance last week, having made some equipment changes. Yes, I needed a pop filter; and yes, I knew what a pop filter is — been using one for years. I was assured, however, that my new recording gadget was of a miraculous new type that doesn't need a pop filter. So much for assurances.

With that out of the way, let's proceed with Radio Derb number 929.


02 — Null-T annulment.     Back at the beginning of the Biden administration — the very beginning: I'm looking at my podcast dated January 22nd 2021, two days after the inauguration  — I tried to float a meme. That's a thing I have tried many times to do, with no success; but hope springs eternal.

The idea here, like an embarrassing number of my ideas, had its deep origins in the science fiction reading of my young-teen years. I gave the necessary background in that January 2021 podcast.


Back in the Golden Age of science fiction seventy-something years ago there was a novel everyone read, title The World of Null-A. It was about a future planet Earth that had moved on from simple Aristotelean logic to something more subtle. So the "A" there stood for Aristotle.


Even then, in just the third day of Joe Biden's Presidency, it was clear that the main motive principle of his administration was to undo everything Donald Trump had done.

Trump had made this easy for him. Essentially none of Trump's accomplishments had been legislative, Trump not having the faintest shadow of a clue how to impose his will on Congress, not even on a Congress controlled for two years by his own party. Almost everything Trump did he did by — as Barack Obama was wont to say of his own governing style — by pen and phone; that is to say, by executive order.

So all Biden had to do was to rescind, revoke, cancel, and annul Trump's executive orders. Biden had the further advantage, as I noted back then, that, quote from me: "Nothing he does will be contested by the kritarchs of our woke federal judiciary." End quote.

I was already able — and this was, remember, just the third day of Biden's Presidency — I was able to list four of these negations already accomplished.

Biden had:

  • Suspended all deportations of illegal aliens.

  • Canceled the "Remain in Mexico" policy.

  • Revoked Trump's ban on federal agencies and contractors imposing anti-white critical race theory training on employees.

  • Rescinded Trump's rule that if bureaucrats wanted to add a regulation to the seventy thousand pages of the Federal Register they first had to annul two existing rules.

That was all I had noted on a quick trawl through the previous two days of news. I'm sure there were others I'd missed.

"Trumpism," I said with a literary flourish, "is evaporating like the morning mist in a valley." Then I summoned up the memory of that 1948 sci-fi novel and launched my meme, closing the segment with, quote: "Welcome to the World of null-T."

I made later attempts to propagate the "null-T" meme. In August of that first Biden year, for example, my August 20th podcast, I said:


Remember those pictures from back then in January of Biden at his desk in the Oval Office, working through a big stack of Trump's executive orders, canceling every one? Do you think he paused to read them? Do you think that now and then he thought: "Wait a minute: this one makes sense … maybe we should keep it"? Nope: He just plowed through canceling every one. If Trump did it, it's bad: Cancel it! The World of Null-T.


Now, three years and twelve days into Biden's Presidency, we are well and truly in the World of Null-T. The Brookings Institution regulatory tracker shows 116 changes to federal regulations for the period from November 2021 to November 2023: 39 of them are flagged as "Overturning Trump," "Overturning and replacing Trump," or "Delaying Trump." That's 33.6 percent, better than one in three.

To be absolutely, impeccably, perfectly fair to Biden, I surmise that the tracker for years two and three of any administration taking over from the other party would show them annulling some of their predecessor's executive orders, but … one in three? And I only started there in November 2021, when the first triumphant flush of nullification would have passed.

Now, however, things are going into reverse. We are seeing a trend to the nullification of Biden's nullifications of Trump orders: we are seeing null-T annulment.

When the business with the Houthi bandits in Yemen shooting at our ships started up recently we learned that Trump had designated the Houthis a terrorist organization in January 2021, actually the day before Biden was sworn in; but then Joe Biden went null-T and de-designated them on February 16th that year.

Now of course they are back on the terrorist list, de-de-designated, null-T annulled.

Same with this week's news that UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, was involved in the Hamas border raid on Israel October 7th. This was no surprise to anyone acquainted with the U.N. and its works — more on that later — but the Biden administration, along with at least nine other countries, have paused their funding of UNRWA pending further investigation.

The Trump administration had stopped funding UNRWA in August 2018. Biden restored funding in April 2021 on the null-T principle. Now funding is suspended again — another de-de-designation, another null-T annulment.

It's almost as if the World of null-T is an inhospitable place, even for the people who created it.

I still like my "World of null-T" meme, but it never did get airborne. I guess 1948 sci-fi is just too esoteric for 2024 meme consumers. Eh: dum spiro, spero.


03 — Them vs. U.S.     I had never heard of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity until this week, when a reference to them showed up on X. Going to their website I see that they are a lobby for Supply-Side Economics and Reaganite politics. In what follows I'll refer to the Committee to Unleash Prosperity by its initials — C-U-P, CUP — just to save my breath.

The first three names I see on the CUP website as principals of the outfit are Steve Forbes the flat-tax guy, Arthur Laffer the Laffer Curve guy — lowering tax rates increases tax revenues — and Steve Moore, who Donald Trump wanted to make a governor of the Federal Reserve until Congress squashed the idea.

So: seasoned heavyweight economics gurus from the Legacy-Conservative side of politics promoting free markets over governmental meddling.

What's not to like? Nothing, far as I'm concerned, except the melancholy hum of nostalgia that I hear as I speak those names. I mean, is anybody listening to CUP? Anybody younger than me, that is?

Well yes, this week at any rate. That reference on X took me to a report that CUP put out last month, title "Them vs. U.S.," with the "U.S." spelled as U-period, S-period.

The report concerns a survey — it's actually two surveys, but they discuss them as one — that CUP commissioned last September from highly respectable polling firms.

Quote from the Executive Summary, quote:

The survey is a first-of-its-kind look at the views of the American Elite — defined as people having at least one post-graduate degree, earning at least $150,000 annually, and living in high-population density areas (more than 10,000 people per square mile in their zip code) — and compares them to what the average American thinks. The Elites represent one percent of the U.S. population but have an outsized voice on public policy in the United States, with their views seeming somehow to dominate the national conversation.

End quote.

Reading the thing, I paused there to see how far I am from belonging to the elite, to that one percent. Far enough, for sure. I don't have a post-grad degree, have never earned anything like $150K, and my zip code logs only fourteen hundred people to the square mile.

So I am Us, not Them. Heck, I knew that, but just wanted to be certain.

OK, what does this survey tell us? Some highlights:

  • "Only about 20 percent of all Americans say they believe their finances are getting better now. But among the Elite, that number more than triples to 74 percent who say they are better off. And among the Ivy League school graduates, 88 percent say they are better off."

  • "When Americans are asked if there is too much or too little freedom, Elites are three times more likely to say that there is too much individual freedom in America than all Americans. Almost six out of ten of the graduates from Elite colleges think there is too much freedom."

  • "An astonishing 77 percent of the Elites — including nearly 90 percent of the Elites who graduated from the top universities — favor rationing of energy, gas, and meat to combat climate change. Among all Americans, 63 percent oppose this policy"

  • "At most, half of Americans have a favorable opinion of lawyers, lobbyists, union leaders, or journalists. However, almost 80 percent of the elites hold a favorable opinion of this group of professionals, and nearly 90 percent of the elite college attendees do. As for members of Congress, 28 percent have a favorable opinion versus 67 percent of Elites."

Not a whole lot of surprises there, then. It's their world, we just live in it.

It has of course always been thus. Way back in the 1840s a character in one of Disraeli's novels observed that Queen Victoria reigned over not one nation but two, quote:

Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws.

End quote.

And on the matter of rich folks' finances getting better while poor folks' decline, a different person observed long before that, quote:

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

End quote.

So of course there have always been rich and poor, living somewhat different lives. The difference today is ideological, a deep difference of belief.

Disraeli's two nations both loved their country and regarded foreigners as inferior. Both accepted their monarch as lawful ruler and Christianity as revealed truth. Both willingly supplied manpower to their nation's armed forces, albeit in different ranks.

Today we have luxury beliefs to go with luxury lifestyles — beliefs like the Climate Change cult and The Psychic Unity of Mankind.

I'll leave you to look up the ultimate origins of those cults for yourself. This CUP report only says it knows how they are propagated in the present day. Quote:

Just over half of the Elites have a degree from one of the twelve Elite universities. These schools play a crucial role in defining the Elite culture and perspectives.

End quote.

I think that's right. It fortifies my belief that one precondition for the survival of our nation is the utter and total annihilation of the elite universities.


04 — Trans child kidnap.     I mentioned the Psychic Unity of Mankind back there. The basic idea goes back to the middle nineteenth century; but some of the offshoot ideas that have come up in our own time would have astonished — and, I think, horrified — those early thinkers.

The trans cult, for example, according to which your sex is whatever you think it is, regardless of any biological features you might possess. The trans cult isn't merely silly, it's evil. We've had evidence of this recently in this terrible story from Montana.

The story concerns a fourteen-year-old girl and her parents, who appear to be loving and responsible. The girl had mental problems: saying she had attempted suicide and telling the parents she thought she might really be a boy.

Child Protective Services got involved, bearing with them all the fakery and pseudoscience of modern psychiatry.

After the suicide-attempt story the girl was hospitalized. Some authority figure in the hospital talked to her about interventions to change sex, including a double mastectomy. This just amplified the girl's mental disturbance.

When she was back at home, CPS made follow-up visits recommending in-patient treatment for her sexual confusion at a mental health institution. When the parents were told that the only available institution was in Wyoming, they balked. Sex-change procedures for minors, like hormone blockers and surgery, are illegal in Montana, but legal in Wyoming.

CPS had reported the parents to the authorities as un-cooperative and not concerned with their child's health. So after the parents refused the transfer to Wyoming — just ten minutes after — CPS showed up at the house with a police escort and took the girl away to Wyoming.

Now she's a boy, or thinks she is. She is now living away from her parents in a Montana CPS residential-care institution for young people.

Governor Greg Gianforte of Montana issued a statement this week saying, inter alia, quote:

Our administration will continue to advance policies that strengthen our families and protect Montana kids.

End quote.

The main point of the statement, however, seems to be to dump responsibility for this horror on his Lieutenant Governor, Kristen Juras. And, further quote, "I have asked the Lieutenant Governor to continue monitoring the case as it progresses," end quote.

Governor Gianforte and Lieutenant Governor Juras hold graduate degrees, but not from elite universities. Gianforte has a net worth of at least nine digits. I can't find numbers for Kristen Juras; but she's had a long career as a lawyer and law lecturer so I doubt she has to clip coupons much. I can't find population-density numbers for their zip codes.

Oh, did I mention they are both Republicans?


05 — .     Early last Sunday morning three of our service members were killed and more than forty wounded in a drone strike on something called Tower 22, which is apparently a U.S. military base in Jordan, up by Jordan's border with Syria.

The drone seems to have come from Kata'ib Hezbollah, which, as I am sure you know, is an Iraqi Shi'ite paramilitary group financed by Iran.

I was being facetious there. You have, of course, never heard of Kata'ib Hezbollah before, any more than I have. Why should we have heard of them?

The Middle East is infested with these bandit gangs of crazy Muslims. Why is it any of our business? We don't need their oil, or at any rate we didn't when Donald Trump was President and we were self-sufficient. Let these savages slaughter each other. Why should we care?

Apparently we do care. We care a lot. According to this map I am looking at from the Washington Post, we have 3,000 service people in Jordan. We also have 2,000 in Syria, 6,000 in Iraq, 3,000 in Saudi Arabia, thirteen thousand each in Kuwait and Qatar, 7,000 in Bahrain, 5,000 in the U.A.E., and 600 in Oman. Oh, and 2,500 in Turkey.

That's a total 55,000 — almost a week's worth of illegals crossing our Southern border at the December rate.

Is our nation so settled, stable, harmonious, and secure we can send tens of thousands of our military abroad to get mixed up in the tribal squabbles of barbarians? Do we have so few problems here at home we can help shoulder the problems afflicting Jordan, Syria, and Kuwait? Is there so little here to engage our attention we need to know who the hell are Kata'ib Hezbollah? My answers are no, no, and no.

Close and seal the borders. Establish a strict-but-fair immigration regime for foreigners wishing to settle here. Bring home our troops from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Pull out of NATO and the UN.

Let foreign nations go to hell any way they choose while making sure our own territory is stoutly, formidably defended. Drill for oil and gas, then drill some more.

America first, by a l—o—o—ng mile.


06 — The United Nations racket.     Back in 2009 I published a book with the title We Are Doomed, subtitle "Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism." Prior to the book's publication the Economist magazine asked me to do an online interview about it with them, so I did. The interview is preserved at the Economist website.

One of the questions was: "Give me some examples of how conservative pessimism might translate into policy." I rattled off a whole list, quote:

Abandonment of [inner quote] "nation-building" [end inner quote] exercises. Abolition of the federal Department of Education. A 1924-style immigration freeze. Repeal of No Child Left Behind. End of all federal subsidies to [inner quote] "community groups" [end inner quote]. End of all federal subsidies to arts and culture. End of all foreign-aid programmes that are not plainly and obviously bribes for pro-American behaviour. Restart construction of neutron bombs. Full-bore federal-subsidised research on missile defense. Withdrawal from the UN, followed by razing of all UN structures on American soil and sowing the ground with salt. How many d'you want?

End quote.

That interview generated a comment thread which you can inspect at Archive.org (here, here, and here) and many emails. To my surprise, my negativity towards the United Nations caused considerable outrage. How could I be so reactionary, so heartless, as to want us out of the U.N.?

Even allowing for the fact that the Economist is a globalist publication, I thought the outrage was out of proportion. It's been plain to me for most of my adult life that the United Nations is a corrupt racket.

Look at the four nations with whom we share the distinction of being Permanent Members of the U.N. Security Council: China, Russia, Britain, and France. That's two lawless Asiatic despotisms and two has-been ex-imperial powers rapidly turning themselves into Afro-Islamic slums.

Or look at the General Assembly: a parking lot for the more troublesome nephews of Third World dictators and for C-list First World politicians like Nikki Haley, with enough popularity to need appeasing but judged useless for any important job.

U.N. peacekeepers are notoriously the worst thing that can happen to a nation. Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, their main contribution to the relief effort was, quote from a Boston University report, "the sexual abuse and exploitation of women and children," end quote.

So color me not at all surprised at this week's news that UNRWA — that's the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA — is up to its elbows helping Arab terrorists trying to destroy Israel, a member nation of the U.N.

Why is there a separate U.N. agency — funded, of course, by your tax dollars and mine — why is there a separate agency for Palestinian refugees? Why doesn't the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees deal with them?

Why, in any case, are there still Palestinian refugees, 76 years after they lost their homes in Israel? Even on the worst possible view of that dispossession — leaving aside, for example, the fact that a lot of the Israelis doing the dispossession had been kicked out of their own homes in Arab countries, Iran, and Europe — leaving that aside, it was a long time ago.

World War Two in Europe generated plenty of refugees: Germans and East Europeans fleeing the advancing Russians, for instance. How come they aren't still refugees under U.N. care 76 years later? They settled where they could and got on with rebuilding their lives.

"Ah yes," a Palestinian might say, "but we can reclaim our homeland! With the help of our Arab brothers we shall drive the Jews out! From the river to the Sea …!"

No you won't. If it looks as though you're about to, Israel will exercise the Samson Option and fry you and your Arab brothers with nukes, perhaps us too.

Are you just going to live for ever in fantasies of revenge, feeding on the charity of foreigners? Get on with your lives, as refugees elsewhere have done for centuries past — including plenty of Jewish refugees.


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

ImprimisI once opined — and shall now, with all proper respect to Steve Forbes, Arthur Laffer, and Steve Moore, I shall repeat — that it's not Economics that should rightly be called "the dismal science," it's Demography.

Within Demography, the demography of China is particularly dismal. Emma Waters of the Heritage Foundation just confirmed that for me with a good thread on X.

In my childhood adults spoke of China as a country just bursting with people. Everyone knew the "marching Chinese" story: If you got them all marching steadily past a wooden marker, the march would never end because in the time it took today's huge population to pass the marker an even huger population would have been born and grown up. (The sci-fi writer Cyril Kornbluth borrowed the idea for a story titled "The Marching Morons.")

In fact the birth rate was declining in the 1950s, and fell catastrophically at the end of that decade because of Mao Tse-tung's great famine, 1959-62. It quickly picked up after the famine, to the degree that the communist government got worried about overpopulation; so in 1979 they imposed the one-child policy.

That worked a bit too well, so in the middle of the last decade they raised the limit to two children per family; then in 2021 they dropped limits altogether.

Pretty soon, as Emma Waters describes, China was tangled in all the paradoxes and dead ends of population policy. Basically, nothing much works. Sample quote:

Artificial measures to conceive children, such as IVF or surrogate motherhood, is not a reliable course of action to overcome low fertility rates. In many cases, such technology seems to encourage the very individualistic attitude that countries are trying to overcome.

End quote.

To this day, in fact, I don't think anyone knows any method for increasing fertility on a national scale. The only thing we know that increases it on any scale is intense religiosity; but how do you implement that on a national scale?

So China, like the rest of us, is going to have to make her way as best she can in a future world teeming with Amish, Orthodox Jews, and Muslim fundamentalists … Unless, as one of Emma's commenters surmises, they resort to Brave New World-style hatcheries.

Which, knowing China — and I do know China — would not surprise me.


Item:  China death penalty.     At the other end of the human life cycle, here in Thursday's Daily Mail is a story about the death penalty in China.

They have it and they use it, a lot. The penal code has 46 capital crimes, 24 violent crimes and 22 non-violent ones. The annual number of executions is not known, but it's thought to be in the thousands — more than any other country.

Lethal injection and firing squad are both used. A interesting wrinkle is execution vans. If you've been sentenced to die by lethal injection, the authorities send a van round to wherever you're being held, lie you down on a bed in the back of the van, and give you the shot there.


The vans … are said to be a key part of China's organ trade, with a 2012 estimate suggesting 65 percent of donated organs came from executed people.

So many prisoners are executed in the vans, reports suggest, to meet the high demand for organs.

End quote.

Viewers of that Netflix series Squid Game will know where they are here.

I said last week, commenting on the execution of Kenneth Smith in Alabama, that I favor capital punishment. Reading this Daily Mail story, I almost has second thoughts. Almost …


Item:  We know the military is having trouble recruiting. The reasons aren't hard to figure.

  • Our 21st-century wars have all been futile, pointless fiascos that no American can regard with any pride.

  • Our last big, prolonged war in the 20th century, the one in Southeast Asia, ended with our defeat.

  • What was traditionally the biggest recruiting pool for our military — working-class white men, especially in the South — no longer wants to fight for a nation whose ruling class regards them with contempt as supremacist deplorables loaded with toxic masculinity

  • Too many of the youngsters who do show up at recruiting stations are too fat, dumb, or criminal to serve.

The only solution is to lower standards for recruits. That's what we're doing.

New York Post, January 28th, headline: Navy again lowers requirements as it struggles to meet recruitment goals. Notice that word "again."

The way it has been is that if you showed up at a Navy recruiting office, you had to have an education credential — high school graduation or a GED — to get in through the door. Then you had to take the AFQT, the Armed Forces Qualification Test, and get a passing score. The AFQT is scored zero to 99.

In December 2022 the Navy lowered the AFQT bar from 31 to 10 for high school graduates. Now they have dropped the high school graduation qualification altogether for recruits who score higher than 50.

There has been a lot of tasteless jokes — I've made one or two myself — about the Federal Aviation Administration lowering standards for pilots and Air Traffic Controllers. Don't be surprised, say the jokesters, if the plane you're sitting in unexpectedly meets another one, in the air or on the runway.

In the same spirit I think we should warn users of recreational seacraft that if you see a U.S. Navy capital ship anywhere near you, get the hell out of its way.


08 — Signoff.     That's all, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you as always for your time and attention, and for your emails, gifts, and contributions.

Kind listeners email in to ask how my broken ankle is progressing. The answer is: pretty well, as best I can judge. I'll be seeing the orthopædic surgeon next week for a professional judgment, but I'm moving around much better and have no pain.

These last few days, in fact, I've mainly been moving around with just one crutch. I'm quite used to that, now. It's like having an extra leg.

How do I know what it's like to have an extra leg? By being a Rolf Harris fan, that's how.

Rolf Harris was a great Australian entertainer, born in 1930, floruit 1960s-1970s, especially on British TV. He died last year at age 93.

Rolf really was a great natural entertainer, who made major additions to the public stock of harmless pleasure. He was himself perfectly harmless, so far as I can judge.

However, in the 2010s, when he was in his eighties, he got swept up in the "sexual harassment" hysteria driven by crooked gold-digging lawyers and did jail time for having been a bit handsy with young women. His reputation was ruined. I earnestly pray that the people who ruined it will all burn in Hell.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week.


[Music clip: Rolf Harris, "Jake the Peg."]