[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]
01 — Intro. Er, excuse me, are my ears playing tricks? I could swear I heard something in the background of my intro music. Oh well, probably just a fig newton of my imagination. Well, here we are yet again, Radio Derb listeners, with a disgruntled conservative's take on the passing charivari. Here at home, we moved another week closer to the Gore administration. Abroad, all was mayhem and madness … but then, what else can you expect from foreigners? [Flanders & Swann]
02 — Bush endorses McCain. On the campaign trail, our President has endorsed John McCain. The GOP front-runner went to the White House the day after the Texas, Ohio, and Rhode Island primaries and the two guys did the decent thing, shaking hands, smiling for photographers, and saying nice words about each other. Quote from W, quote: "He understands that this is a dangerous world." I dunno about that, Mr. President. If John McCain understands that this is such a dangerous world, why is he so keen to have so much of it come and settle here? Quote from McCain, quote: "I hope the president will find time from his busy schedule to be out on the campaign trail with me." Well, you're certainly going to need all the help you can get, John; and Bush will probably be more of a positive, or less of a negative, in your vote-getting efforts than your other best pal, Ted Kennedy.
03 — Hillary wins some. Meanwhile, Hillary is all aglow over winning Ohio, Texas, and Rhode Island Tuesday. She was so pleased, in fact, that she told Bill's keepers to let him out of his cage for a couple of hours so they could do the hand-holding husband and wife photo-op thing that they used to do back in the day. Mrs. Clinton — apparently "Rodham Clinton" didn't test too well on the focus groups, so she's just Clinton this campaign season — Mrs. Clinton made much in the run-up to Tuesday's primaries of her foreign policy experience compared with Barack Obama's. Just to remind you, while Obama's knowledge of foreign affairs amounts to [crickets chirping], Mrs. Clinton's encompasses [same]. No, that's not quite fair: she was in the White House kitchen baking cookies while Bill racked up those tremendous foreign policy successes in Somalia, Haiti, and Serbia. Why, she was actually in the same room when he gave the order to drop a bomb on that aspirin factory in the Sudan! How much more foreign policy experience do you want?
04 — Obama on Hillary's ethics. Meanwhile, our fine Irish broth of a boy Patrick O'Bama has unsheathed his shillelagh, donned a fine new pair of brogues, and set out on the rocky road to Denver. Yes folks, it's no more Mister Nice Guy. Young Paddy O'Bama is fighting mad, and sure he's not going to take it any more. Quote from old Erin's finest, quote: "If the suggestion is somehow that on issues of ethics or disclosure or transparency, that somehow she's going to have a better record than I have and will be better able to withstand Republican attacks, I think then that's an issue that should be tested." End of o'quote. Ah begob, an' isn't it the bold lad ye are, young Patrick, to be sure! But what is it ye have in mind? No use to keep pressing Hillary to open up the Clinton tax returns. She's held off on that so long that nobody cares any more. In any case, by this time her accountants have probably figured out a way to massage out of sight that ten million dollar annual retainer Bill gets from the People's Liberation Army. So what's the Illinois leprechaun up to? Hillary thinks she knows. She said — actually, she had one of her spokes-critters say — that O'Bama wants to replay the Lewinsky scandal. Quote from the spokes-troll: "I for one do not believe that imitating Ken Starr is the way to win a Democratic primary election for president." End quote. Wait a minute: Wasn't Ken Starr that holier-than-thou, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth lawyer, whose friends portrayed him as devout to the point of saintliness, but whose enemies said he was driven by cold ambition? Why would anyone compare Obama with Ken Starr? Hard to figure.
05 — Russian election loser. Since foreign affairs have been mentioned, let's take a peek at that bizarro world beyond our borders, that strange place where all the foreigners live, at least until President McCain scraps the borders altogether so they can all come live here. What's happening in those misty realms across the sea? Well, they had an election for president in Russia. We're still waiting for some very late returns to come in from the Kamchatka peninsula, but it looks like the candidate from Vladimir Putin's party has squeaked back into power with just, let me see, only 70 percent of the vote. The punchline here concerns Gennady Zyuganov, the principal losing candidate. Mr Zyuganov complained bitterly that the vote was rigged, and that, quote: "The country is ruled by a criminal police state which cannot hold fair, truthful and democratic elections," end quote. OK, are you ready for the punch line? Mr Zyuganov is the candidate of — the Communist Party! The way they used to run things, there was just one candidate on the ballot, and he got 99.9 percent of the vote. What a falling off there has been! Mr. Putin himself was not eligible to run for president again under the Russian constitution, but the new president-elect, Mr. Medvedev, has promised to make Putin his Prime Minister. To translate that into American terms, it's like George W. Bush not being able to run for President again this year, so he gets Newt Gingrich to run instead, rigs the electoral college so Newt becomes President, then Newt appoints Dubya Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Something like that. Sort of democracy with Russian characteristics. [Clip of Internationale]
06 — Li'l Squinty visits Baghdad. What's up with Li'l Squinty, the impertinent imp of Iran? Well, he's been visiting his pals in Baghdad. That would be the government [laugh] of Iraq. If you watched the news coverage, you couldn't help but think that the Mad Midget was rubbing salt in our wounds. After all, who is the real big winner from the Iraq War so far? Iran, of course. Saddam Hussein, their deadliest enemy, is roasting on a spit in hell somewhere. His armies are destroyed and disbanded, all without the loss of a single Iranian grenadier. Iran's co-religionists, the Shi'as of Iraq, are running the Iraqi government, for what it's worth — and, given how much oil Iraq has, it's potentially worth a few trillion. The Sunnis of Iraq, who hate Iran, were granted four years to massacre each other in sectional feuds and play at being targets for American air strikes before some bright bulb in the Pentagon said: "Duh-uh, maybe we should do something or other so that there are a few Sunnis still left alive five years from now, instead of handing over the whole shebang to the Shi'as and their pals in Tehran, duh-uh." Iran's only serious regional rival, Turkey, was totally alienated from the U.S.A. by what they saw as our support for the Kurds who terrorize Turkey's eastern provinces, and so Turkey now has an Islamist and anti-American government with a major attitude. Plus, the Iranians, via their proxies in Iraq, got to check out every single piece of U.S. military equipment under combat conditions, and figure out how to counter us. And of course, of the close-to-a-trillion dollars Uncle Sam has spent in Iraq, you can bet a few tens of billions found their way somehow into Swiss bank accounts with the names of Iranian politicians and businessmen on them. No wonder Li'l Squinty's smiling. You'd be smiling, too, if you were as big a winner from the Iraq War as Iran has been. They pretend to hate us, but if the Iranians had any sense of gratitude, they'd be putting up 60-foot bronze statues of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in Tehran's public squares.
07 — Prince Harry in Afghanistan. All right, this is a request item. I will grudgingly, under protest, because people have asked me to, say something about Harry von Battenberg, a.k.a. Prince Harry of England and various other places, recently serving in Afghanistan. Look, I'm just not much of a royalist. My family were all Labour Party voters and small-r republicans. My Dad used to refer to the royal family as "those bloody Germans." English people haven't actually had an English monarch for a thousand years, you have to understand. This crowd are Germans, the previous dynasty was Scottish, the one before that was Welsh, then before that were French and Scandinavians. It's been a long thousand years for the poor English. Now, I'll admit I get a lump in my throat when I see the old Queen. The first public event of which I have any recollection was her coronation. Betty Battenberg has done her constitutional duty with dogged rectitude for 56 years, and her country owes her for that. I don't have much time for the rest of the royal family, who don't have any constitutional function, and seem not to be interesting people in any way — seem, in fact, to be exceptionally dull dogs, even by German standards. I will allow, though, that the royals keep up the spirit of noblesse oblige. The idea is, that from those to whom much is given, something is demanded. So here you have the two sons of the Queen's eldest son, both serving in the British armed forces. And really serving, too, in combat positions. Harry was in Helmland Province, in Afghanistan, under Taliban fire. The deal with the British press was, that they'd keep radio silence until Harry had finished his tour of duty, so as not to endanger his unit. Then Drudge blew his cover, and the Brits had to pull him out. Is it a shame? I guess it's kind of annoying to Harry, who was probably bonded with his unit and hated leaving them. My guess is, he'll get over it. A good-looking young guy with a guaranteed job for life and a big fat expense account isn't going to have any big problem finding consolations. I can't see why the rest of us should lose any sleep over this incident. I do, though, think that the noblesse oblige principle is a good one. It's a pity we don't see the children of our own ruling classes doing grunt duty in the armed forces. Well, to be fair, we see a few — but way too few.
08 — Title IX for science. You remember Rosie the riveter, right? Well, where are Phyllis the Physicist, Maisie the mathematician, and Emma the Engineer? Writing in a business magazine called The American, Christina Hoff Sommers — the excellent lady who wrote that fine book The War Against Boys — has a rather alarming essay on the attempt, by militant feminists, to get Title IX applied to math and science teaching in our universities. Just to remind you, Title IX is that clause in the 1972 federal Education law that says, quote: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex … be denied the benefits of … any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance." Up to now Title IX has only been applied to college sports programs. What typically happens is, some college has a wrestling program that is 95 percent male. The feminists complain; the college tries to get women into the program; they can't find any, because women don't want to wrestle; so to get the lawyers off their back, the college shuts down the program, or restricts the number of male participants to be equal to the number of females. Well, just like college sports, college math and science are dominated by male students. Some math and engineering classes are a hundred percent male. You might naively think that this is just because women aren't much interested in math and science, but you'd be wrong. The true reason is, that the evil forces of the patriarchy conspire to exclude women from math and science studies. Any time there is any kind of inequality of outcome, the only possible explanation must be, that bad people are doing bad things to pitiful helpless victims who are crying out for the federal government to rescue them from cruel oppression. That has been the dominant philosophy of the past half century. Well, here come the feds, and those bad people are going to have to mend their ways. The feminists are going to force colleges to open the doors of the math and science departments to all those women who have been hammering on them trying to get in. And if colleges persist in maliciously keeping the male-female numbers unequal in their courses, then why, those courses will have to be shut down, just like those stupid sports programs. Then all our students in higher education will be studying worthwhile subjects, challenging subjects, like English Literature, or journalism, or education, or hospital management, or hairdressing. The whole country will be better off — don't you know what a dire shortage of English Literature graduates there are? Who needs stupid old math and science, anyway? They're so, like, boring.
09 — Miscellany A miscellany of short items.
Item: The city of South Pasadena, over there in the Sunshine State, has designated the first week of March, this year and for ever, as No Cussing Week. They won't actually haul you off to the pokey if you use a bad word; it's one of those consciousness-raising things, where you're supposed to glare and frown if you hear a fellow-citizen cuss or blaspheme. Brings to my mind that Jackie Mason routine, where Jackie says: "All I hear around me lately is bad language, people cussing and swearing, it's like a plague. Even the kids are talking dirty. Why? What's going on? What's the reason for it? I asked my rabbi. He said: 'How the **** should I know?'"
Item: A little item from New Mexico — which, by the way, is the name of a state, not the politically-correct way to say "U.S.A." Well, the authorities in New Mexico are a bit miffed because the feds have announced they are pulling National Guard troops from border duties. You may remember that last year, when the president was still hoping to get his scofflaw amnesty plan through Congress, he moved National Guard troops to the southern border to show us rubes he really cared about criminal trespassers violating our sovereignty. Now those troops are to be withdrawn in July — which is six months early, six months before Border Patrol reinforcements are ready to be in place. The feds won't say why they're withdrawing the troops. Why should they? They're the government; they don't have to tell us peons why they do things. So now New Mexico has a big leaky border for six months — long enough for a couple million illegals to come in and get on the voter rolls for November. That should help John McCain.
Item: Some other border news here, from across the pond. Britain's government has been keenly observing the magnificent successes of U.S. immigration control, and has established a service of its own, called the Border and Immigration Agency. These border bobbies will protect Shakespeare's islands from people trying to enter without authorization. At least, they will from Monday to Friday. Weekends and public holidays, the British government would have had to give them overtime pay, and the government says it can't afford to. So the fearless officers of the Queen's border patrol said, right-o, we'll just work the weekdays then. You may laugh, listener, but the Brits are still in better shape than New Mexico.
Item: So you want to know what happened to those ructions in Kenya? Remember — there was a deeply crooked election, the losing party brought its supporters out on the streets, the argument split along tribal lines, and mayhem and ethnic cleansing followed? Well, Condoleezza Rice went over there and knocked heads together. Now the two factions have cut a deal. The guy who got to be president via that crooked election, stays president. The losing guy, who comes from the same tribe as Barack Obama's dad, will be appointed Prime minister. Hmmm, sounds like Russia, doesn't it? There's a slight drawback in that the Kenyan constitution doesn't say anything about the country having a Prime Minister, but nobody's going to worry about a little thing like that. Not in Africa.
Item: Remember James Mason's classic line in that wonderful movie The Shooting Party? "You were not shooting like a gentleman there, Gilbert." Gilbert, which is to say Edward Fox, had shot low at a game bird and hit one of the beaters by mistake. Well, championship golfer Tripp Isenhour is a Gilbert for our time, except that his shot was deliberate. And it wasn't a man he brought down, but a bird — actually a red-shouldered hawk, which is a protected species. And of course, it wasn't a round of shot that did for the bird, it was a golf ball. The hawk had been annoying Isenhour with its noise, so he started hitting off balls at it. One of them found its mark, and Isenhour is now deep in the rough with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who are prosecuting him in court. He got the critter from 75 yards, which I think is pretty impressive, when you think how small a bird's head is. Anyway, at the time the incident happened, our hero was with a film crew for a program called "Shoot Like a Pro." You were not shooting like a gentleman, Gilbert — but I'd say, to whack a bird with a golf ball at that distance, Isenhour was shooting like a pro.
Item: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wants mortgage lenders to, quote, "reduce loan amounts" to borrowers who have gone under water as the value of their homes falls below the amount of their outstanding debt. The thinking here is apparently that it would be a terrible shame if people who borrowed recklessly had to pay back what they owe. Well, I have a Coolidge story for you. After World War One, European countries were faced with paying back all the loans they'd taken from the U.S.A. Their economies weren't in good shape, and President Coolidge came under a lot of pressure to reduce or just forgive the loans. Here's what Cal said to that, quote: "They hired the money, didn't they?"
10 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gents — everything you need to know about what's happening in the nation and the world, all in one half-hour weekly package. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to the project I'm working on — lobbying for a job in the Al Gore administration next year. Gotta print up a few more resumes, make a few more phone calls. I'll be here again next week, on Pi Day — that's March 14, 3-1-4 you see? Until then, try to stay off too much fried food, keep one step ahead of the revenue man, and don't take any wooden nickels.
[Music clip: More Haydn.]