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01 — Intro [Voice of Michael Graham] This is Michael Graham and you're listening to Derb Radio on NationalReview.com — what Air America would be if it were funny and informative.
[Music clip: from Carmen, Act 1 Prelude.]
[My voice] This is John Derbyshire with news from the past few days.
02 — Anxious? Depressed? Government will help. The British Medical Journal reports that President Bush will unveil a sweeping mental health initiative next month. The initiative will follow the recommendations of the President's Commission on Mental Health, which issued a report last year.
Those recommendations included comprehensive mental health screening for consumers of all ages, including preschool children. Also more, quote, "community-based," end quote treatment of mentally ill people.
Now wait a minute. Isn't this going to cost a ton of taxpayer money? And open up the administration to yet more allegations that it is much too cozy with the pharmaceutical industry? And augment the numbers of smelly, mumbling, incapable and helpless people roaming our streets?
Yes, yes, and yes. But, as the President told us a few months ago: "When someone is hurting, government must act." Apparently this applies to psychic as well as physical pain.
03 — PEWSLAGO. There is an old schoolboy joke, much too indelicate for a genteel website like this one, so I'll clean it up for you.
The cleaned-up joke is: Why does a dog lick his tail? Answer: Because he can.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton must have heard this joke in his own schooldays, because when Dan Rather asked him why he got into his wretched affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Clinton replied: "For the worst possible reason — just because I could."
A flurry of theological debate broke out on the more earnest kind of websites about whether this was, in fact, the worst possible reason a person might do something reprehensible. Traditionally, the worst human motivations have been encapsulated in the Seven Deadly Sins, which I was taught to memorize with the acronym PEWSLAG: Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Lust, Avarice, and Gluttony.
It seems our lovable ex-President has added a new one to the list: Opportunity … but somehow it just doesn't seem to fit with the others.
04 — Saddam, Osama, just good friends. A staff report from the 9/11 Commission said that there was no credible evidence that Iraq and Al Qaeda co-operated on attacks against the United States.
That's what the report said. And then, those stern guardians of truth and rectitude who run our national broadsheet newspapers and TV networks promptly spun this into headlines asserting or implying that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were perfect strangers to each other … which is not what the Commission said.
It is also not what the Clinton administration said in 1998 when they brought an indictment against bin Laden charging, among other things, that he had an understanding with Saddam Hussein to work against the U.S.
Nor was it what ABC News said back in 1999 when they reported that Saddam had offered asylum to the bearded one, citing their, quote, "long relationship."
Stories of any understanding, co-operation, or collaborative relationship between our elite media and the Kerry election campaign are of course scurrilous fabrications.
05 — UKIP's triumph. In elections to the European Parliament the big political parties in Britain were humiliated by an upstart, the Independence Party, founded only eleven years ago, and a more or less single-issue outfit dedicated to getting Britain out of Europe altogether.
The U.K Independence Party captured twelve seats in the Europarliament. Tony Blair's Labour Party got 19; the Tories got 27.
Asked what he hoped to do in the European Parliament, the newly elected U.K. Independence Party leader Robert Kilroy-Silk said: "Wreck it! Expose it for the waste and the corruption and the way it is eroding our independence and our sovereignty."
Apparently a United States of Europe is some way away yet.
You might care to note that the Europarliament has 732 seats altogether, so the UKIP's twelve seats are proportionally equivalent to having seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives militantly opposed to the existence of the U.S.A. Hard to imagine, eh? Well, perhaps not all that hard.
06 — Domino Theory, Middle East version. Prince Abdullah of Jordan, who is the uncle of King Abdullah the Second of Jordan, attended the state funeral of Ronald Reagan in Washington. He returned home to Amman with a stack of Domino's pizzas.
This follows previous reports that the king himself brought a pile of pizzas back with him after his own visit to Washington last May — and then followed up by sending his private jet over for yet more.
As the Washington Post wondered at the time, he's the king of his country. Can't he open his own chain?
Ah, but Jordan has a large population of Palestinian Arabs, you see, and we know how they feel about pizza parlors.
07 — Brought to … justice? A civilian contractor from New Jersey was kidnapped and then decapitated by Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia. Pictures of his corpse were shown on an Islamicist website for the edification of the faithful.
Shortly thereafter Saudi police shot four people, saying that they were among those involved in the kidnap-murder. Given that this is Saudi Arabia, it is possible that the four dead were not terrorists at all, but just people the Saudi government had found inconvenient for some reason. Or perhaps they were just random unfortunates who just happened to be handy when the Saudis needed four corpses to show.
The U.S. government at any rate is taking the Saudis at their word. Look, they really do have a whole lot of oil.
08 — A toast to a sporting old WASP. George Bush, Senior, the former President, has celebrated his eightieth birthday by jumping out of a plane over his presidential library in College Point, Texas. He had an army parachute instructor strapped to his back, as weather conditions did not permit a solo jump.
Having a paratrooper hugging you from behind as you fall through the air at a hundred miles an hour robs the event of some of its dignity, we can't help thinking; but Poppy seems to enjoy it. "Just because you're eighty doesn't mean you're out of it!" was his post-jump comment.
Now, I have my quibbles with the conduct of his policy as President, but it's hard not to admire this sporting old WASP.
There was once a great British mathematician called John Littlewood who was toasted at his eightieth birthday party by a much younger colleague, who expressed the hope that he might be able to make the toast ten years on, at the old boy's ninetieth birthday. Responded Littlewood: "I don't see why not. You look perfectly healthy to me."
Well, here's a toast to Poppy Bush on his eightieth birthday, and looking forward to his ninetieth.
09 — A plea for gravitas. More Than We Wanted To Know Department.
John Kerry's wife, who has close to ten million dollars for every one of her sixty-five years, described herself as, quote, "cheeky" and, quote, "sexy" in an interview with CBS News.
You'd think that after sixty-five years in this world, Mrs. Kerry would have learned the following fact: "sexy" is not an adjective you use about yourself. It's an adjective you hope other people will use about you.
Am I alone in wishing the Presidential candidates and their wives would cut out these embarrassing pseudo-intimacies? We're electing a President, not a fertility god.
I blame Al Gore for a lot of this stuff, with those gross displays of studliness he used to go in for with his wife back in the 2000 campaign.
Gravitas, please, ladies and gentlemen. This is not Brazil.
And while we're on the subject, let's just pause to offer thanks for Laura Bush and her dignified reticence.
10 — Cue Martha and the Vandellas. In Baghdad a car bomb blew up a convoy of Westerners, killing at least thirteen of them.
Crowds gathered to rejoice over the attack, dancing around a charred body and shouting "Down with the U.S.A.!".
So I guess those prewar predictions that liberated Iraqis would be dancing in the streets were not so wrong after all.
11 — Free at last! The new Iraqi government which will take authority after June 30th wants custody of all prisoners in Iraq, including those in Abu Ghraib Prison.
Can't you just imagine the joy that Abu Ghraib prisoners must be experiencing, knowing that they will soon be transferred from under the iron heel of brutal, oppressive American guards to the gentle ministrations of their fellow Iraqis? How happy they must be!
12 — Nobody ever expects … Hey, look: I'm a Protestant, and the Inquisition is not really my cup of tea. I don't expect the Pope to agree with me, though, and of course he doesn't.
Now the Holy Father has some research to back him up. A Papal Commission into the Inquisition has reported that far fewer people were tortured and killed for heresy than was formerly believed. Of the 125,000 trials of suspected heretics in Spain, researchers found that only one percent were executed.
That's a mere 1,250 across three or four centuries.
Well, I smell a whitewash here, and I'm going to stick with Foxe's Book of Martyrs until I see evidence from a source less partial than the Vatican.
Still, it's all a bit quaint compared with the horrors of our own age. At the height of Stalin's purges in the years 1937 and 1938, the NKVD arrested about 1.6 million people and executed more than half of them.
Even if the Vatican guys are wrong by a factor of ten, the Inquisition was pretty tame stuff compared with the great 20th-century atheist despotisms.
[Music clip: more Carmen]