[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]
01 — Intro. Welcome, listeners. Radio Derb is on the air once again, and this is your genial host John Derbyshire bringing you all the news you need to know. I have several of you favorite characters here today: Hillary, Britney, Barack, Princess Di, Larry Craig, and a host of others, so let's see what they've all been up to.
02 — Campaign (Dems). It's been a most enjoyable week on the campaign trail. The very high enjoyability factor this week was of course generated by the spectacle of the Democratic Party eating its own flesh over the issue of race. Bill Clinton passed a comment about Barack Obama's Iraq War voting record. Hillary Clinton passed some different remarks about civil rights progress depending on strong presidential action, such as she would take. Both comments, pretty innocuous in themselves, quickly got spun into insults against the black race. Barack Obama rose above it all, as befits a living saint, but he benefited anyway, with black voters now fleeing away from Hillary. This ought to be galling for Mrs Clinton, whose husband was, as we all know, the nation's first black president. I say "ought to be" because there are signs Hillary is actually pretty insouciant about it all. For one thing, Hillary has got the Hispanic vote sewn up. It's not as big as the black vote, nor as solidly Democratic. Hispanics cast six percent of ballots in 2004, compared with twelve percent for blacks; and Hispanic voters vote Democrat in only a two to one ratio, while blacks do so at nine or ten to one. Still, Hispanics are now more numerous than blacks, with a higher birthrate, and it won't be long before those facts show up in the voter rolls. And Democrat Hispanics are increasing their numbers faster than Republican Hispanics — the only really reliable Republican Hispanics are Cuban exiles, whose numbers aren't increasing at all. There is also a dynamic going on between Hispanics and blacks that we're not supposed to talk about, but that Hillary's advisers are perfectly well aware of. Here's a quote from one of those advisers, Sergio Bendixen, in the January 21 issue of The New Yorker, quote: "The Hispanic voter — and I want to say this very carefully — has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates." End quote. I shall leave you to decode that for yourself, noting only that Mrs. Clinton does not hire idiots to advise her. There's even a gender split among blacks that Hillary can work with, many black women preferring Hillary to Obama. Bob Novak reports that after Oprah Winfrey endorsed Obama, her website was flooded with angry emails from black women. Do you sometimes get the impression that black women don't like black men very much? Whatever, Hillary's playing tricky pool here, with lots of bank shots. With a huge bloc of white women, solid Hispanic support, and some good number of black women she can peel off, Hillary has probably figured she can do without the rest of the black vote. Wait a minute, what am I saying? Would the candidate for the party of caring, multicultural inclusiveness and exquisite racial sensitivity really indulge in these kinds of cynical identity-politics calculations? Surely not! [Hillary laugh]
03 — Campaign (GOP). On the Republican side, meanwhile, all is confusion. Huckabee won a big one; McCain won a big one; Romney won a big one. The little ones count some too, of course, and Romney's been quietly adding to his delegate count. At the time of recording this broadcast, Romney has 42 delegates, Huckabee 32, McCain 13. Every one of those numbers is a long way from the twelve hundred you need to get the nomination, though, so it's still wide open. The result will be decided by four big factors: Money, Stamina, Events, and Flubs. Romney has all the money he needs; nobody else really has enough, and contributions dry up fast when a candidate starts to look like a loser. These guys seem pretty good on stamina, though you have to worry about Fred Thompson. You can run a laid-back campaign against one guy, Fred, but if you're laid back in a crowded field like this, they'll just trample you. Events are hard to forecast, though a recession seems to be setting in — good news for the guy with a good track record at running businesses and turning them round. And then there are the flubs, which are impossible to predict. It's amazing what can help sink a candidate: Nixon's five o'clock shadow, Dukakis's tank, Gerry Ford's dumb comment about Poland, Ed Muskie's tears … Who knows? All I know is, I'm sure not going to get what I want. Thirty-five years ago, when Britain's Conservative Party was going gung ho for entry into the European Community, to the disgust of many traditionalist conservatives, Anthony Lejeune wrote a famous article in the London Spectator with the title: "We Homeless Conservatives." Well, that's how I feel. If I can't get Ron Paul or Fred Thompson, I don't much care who we put up against Al Gore in November.
04 — Psychoanalyzing Obama. There hasn't been that much freelance psychoanalyzing of Barack Obama — not as much as you'd think, I mean, when you consider that he's written two books about himself. Steve Sailer has read those books, and tells us that Obama comes across as a nice middle-class American white kid who happens to be black. This, says Steve, manifests itself in some inner tensions. Barack really wants to be black; but the poor guy never lived in a 'hood, never chilled with his homies, and I am willing to bet, never wore sneakers without laces, or those pants with the crotch around knee level. Trying to relate here, I guess Obama feels a bit like an Englishman who never ate Stilton cheese, never played cricket, and has all his teeth. Well, for Obama and any other citizens like him who fret about not being black enough, here is some wonderful news from the world of science. Quote from the BBC science news website, quote: "The 'darkest ever' substance known to science has been made in a US laboratory. The material was created from carbon nanotubes — sheets of carbon just one atom thick rolled up into cylinders. Researchers say it is the closest thing yet to the ideal black material, which absorbs light perfectly at all angles and over all wavelengths. The discovery is expected to have applications in the fields of electronics and solar energy." End quote. So there you are. Solar energy, see — this stuff is not only black, it's green! The lab that created this amazing super-black stuff is in Troy, upstate New York. I suggest Barack Obama get himself up there asap and see if there's some way he can get those carbon nanotubes incorporated in his metabolism. Then he will never again have to worry about not being black enough.
05 — Mideast policy proposal. A bomb went off in Lebanon, killing four people and wounding 16. It seems to have been meant for a U.S. embassy vehicle, though it missed. Groups linked to al Qaeda were blamed. Last week a different bomb went off in Lebanon, aimed at some U.N. peacekeepers. Groups linked to al Qaeda were blamed. Here's a prediction: Next week some other bomb will go off in Lebanon. Groups linked to al Qaeda will be blamed. I did like the wrap-up sentence in the BBC news item, though, quote: "Newspapers here have predicted the crisis could drag on for weeks, with the latest attack underlining the dangers of further violence." For weeks? Are they kidding? Listen, the newspapers have been running stories about "Crisis in Lebanon" since I was in short pants. The hell with Lebanon. The hell with the Middle East. Here's a policy for the Middle East. Let's say to the buggers: "Look, if you mess with us we'll really hurt you. If you leave us alone, we'll leave you alone. And if blowing each other up is what you like to do, we're fine with it. Just don't even think of trying to do it on our soil." Can someone please tell me what's wrong with that as a Middle East policy? Oh, right: We have a God-given mission to bring them constitutional government, mature nationhood, and enterprise capitalism. Sorry, I forgot about that.
06 — Malaysian malaise. Some unhappy signs from Malaysia, usually one of the happier places in southeast Asia. Malaysia's been one of the more successful examples of diversity management this past thirty years. The current population is 27 million, total fertility rate 3.0 (which is modestly above replacement). Life expectancy 73, GDP per capita $13,000, Gini coefficient 46 (that's a measure of income inequality — the USA is 45). Half the population is Malay, which is to say of the Polynesian race, related to the Maori of New Zealand and the islanders of the South Pacific, as well as to the majority groups in Indonesia, across the water there. Half of the rest — that is a quarter of the total — is overseas Chinese. There's been trouble in the past between the Malay half and the Chinese quarter. There were some grisly ethnic riots back in 1969, with hundreds killed in the capital city, practically of them Chinese. Following that, the Malaysian government implemented a strong program of affirmative action for the Malay majority. It's worked, at least in the sense that it has prevented further race riots. Malays now hold plenty of professional positions — a quarter of doctors and dentists are Malay, for example, up from three or four percent at the time of the riots. The Malays of course dominate politics and government jobs — majorities tend to do that. The Chinese are still dominant in business, though, with seventy percent of the country's market capitalization in Chinese hands. It's been a pretty frank division of the spoils. Malays and Chinese have come to an understanding, though they still don't mix much — the rate of intermarriage is close to zero. OK, so far so good; but now, among the quarter of Malaysians who are neither Maly nor Chinese, there's a big contingent of Indians — around eight percent of the total population — and they are very unhappy. They have been in Malaysia for ever, or at least since the 19th century; they are Hindus, while the country is majority Muslim, and they were never included in the racial spoils system. So they're stuck at the bottom of society, and unhappy about it — more unhappy recently, as Muslim fanatics have been trashing their Hindu temples. They staged a huge demonstration back in November. The government crushed it and threw the leaders in jail, where they remain. Then the government issued a ban on entry of workers from India; then, when the Indian government protested, back-tracked and denied having ordered the ban. Ah, diversity — isn't it wonderful?
07 — Track star wants hijab. Meet 17-year-old Juashaunna Kelly of Washington DC. Don't be misled by that name: Ms. Kelly is not of Irish Catholic ancestry. Fact, she's a Muslim. She's also a high school track star. Now, Muslim gals have to wear headscarves all the time. That's written somewhere in the Koran, which you know young Juashaunna has read from cover to cover. At a track meet the other day, Juashaunna was prevented from competing because her headscarf violated the organizers rules for running attire. The poor girl burst into tears. I know your heart bleeds for her, as mine does, but don't worry: She's got lawyered up and there'll be a big fat "discrimination" award in her future. Pretty soon track meet organizers around America will figure out that the only sure way to get themselves off the hook for cases like this is to make everybody wear a headscarf when running.
08 — Bank bailouts. Merrill Lynch has posted a eight billion dollar loss for 2007, due to having bundled up a few too many of those really bad mortgages people have been defaulting on, and pretending that the bundles were a kind of money. This follows similar mega-losses elsewhere: Citigroup, UBS, and Morgan Stanley. Like those others, Merril Lynch has turned for rescue funds to those countries that actually make or produce things that other people actually want to buy: to China, Korea, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Folk over there have plenty of cash from all the stuff they've sold, and they're glad to put it to good use by buying an interest in big financial players. All well and good. The mortgage crisis isn't over yet, though. Here's a report from Reuters about how it's not just at the bottom end of the market that homeowners are in trouble. Reuters reports on a wealthy Chicago suburb, average house price well over a million dollars, where people can't meet their mortgage payments. You didn't have to be poor to buy yourself too much house, back when everyone thought prices could only go up. It isn't even just house loans. Here's a little item from the Los Angeles Times about car loans: the average amount financed is no $30,738, up ten per cent on a year ago. These aren't the traditional three-year loans, either: auto makers are writing seven and eight-year loans. Quote: "Today's average car owner owes $4,221 more than the vehicle is worth at the time it's sold." Ladies and gentlemen, the country is living beyond its means. Worse yet, we've all got used to living that way, and will expect to go on living that way after we retire. That expectation is going to come crashing up against the fact that there isn't enough money in the federal treasury to support us in the style we've become accustomed to, and nobody will be writing 30-year loans to 70-year-old geezers. Not to worry, though: the presidential candidates all have terrific plans to deal with this coming fiscal asteroid strike. Don't you, guys? [Crickets chirping]
09 — Miscellany Just a quick roundup of some brief items here.
Item: Fidel Castro said Wednesday he is on the mend, but not yet healthy enough to speak to the people of Cuba. What, no more of those four-hour public speeches? Cubans must be really upset. They just loved standing out there in the hot sun for hours at a stretch while the Jefe harnagued them. In related news, sales of adult diapers in Havana have plunged.
Item: A spacecraft has visited the planet Mercury, the first since the Ford administration. It still looks pretty much the same as it did then — rocks, craters, and so on — which is a bit galling for those of us who remember the seventies, and who don't look at all same as we did then. Oh well.
Item: The ACLU has filed a brief in support of Senator Larry Craig. You may recall that Larry got caught soliciting sex from an undercover cop by groping under the partitions in a public restroom at Minneapolis airport last June. The ACLU brief says that, quote: "People who have sex in public bathrooms have an expectation of privacy." Let me just go over that again: public … privacy. OK, not quite getting it. If they want privacy, why don't they go some place whose description down not begin with the word "public"?
Item: John Edwards. [Laugh track]
Item: It's a well-known fact that the return of Western Europe to the Umma — the world Muslim community — has been spearheaded by the British Royal family. Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, should be embarking on his hajj any day now, and is probably trying to get Camilla into one of those burkas that only have a slit for the eyes — which would be a great relief for everyone. The late Princess Diana seems to have been leading the charge here, having shown a strong preference for Muslim men in her later dating habits. It wasn't just Egyptian Dodi Fayed, but also a Pakistani heart surgeon named Hasnat Khan. This didn't sit too well with Diana's mother, the late Mrs. Shand-Kydd. Diana's butler, testifying at the inquest, reported that Mrs. Shand-Kydd, quote: "Called the Princess a whore and said that she was messing around with effing Muslim men, and she was disgraceful." End butler quote. Great to see that the fine old aristocratic British virtues of tolerance and noblesse oblige lived on into the late 20th century.
Item: Finally, Britney Spears. What would a news roundup be without a mention of our favorite Mouseketeer? Furthermore, this item follows very naturally from the last one. It comes from a tabloid newspaper in Bangkok, so you know this is solid reporting. The newspaper says that Britney is determined to marry her current squeeze, photographer Adnan Ghalib, and convert to his religion — which is, wouldn't you know it, Islam. What is it with these Muslim men? With 72 Miss Rights waiting in paradise for them, you'd think they'd be able to keep their hands of our princesses and pop stars down here on Earth. And given the position of women in traditional Islamic society, it's hard to see the attractions to a girl of converting to Islam. Has someone told Britney she'll have to give up her driver's license? That should make the roads around L.A. a lot safer, anyway.
10 — Signoff. There you are, Radio Derb listeners — another week of inanity and insanity, brought to you by me, your master of urbanity, with only the merest hint of profanity, here on National Review Online. More vanity, inhumanity, and, er, subterranity next week from Radio Derb!
[Music clip: More Haydn.]