[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Sorry about missing last week's broadcast, Radio Derb fans. I was in the lovely city of Tucson, in the beautiful state of Arizona, attending some lectures on metaphysics. Life doesn't get much better than that.
Now, tanned, rested, and ready, here I am back at NRO's state-of-the-art recording studio here in the 95th floor of Buckley Towers in the heart of Manhattan, ready to bring you another edition of Radio Derb!
02 — Be kind to pirates. [Gilbert & Sullivan clip] Ah, yes, a little Gilbert & Sullivan there. That was "The Pirate King" from Pirates of Penzance, and incidentally the singers there were the U.S. Navy band and chorus.
Now, you may recall that the pirates in that opera are all pardoned and married off to the Major-General's daughters in the closing scene. What you didn't know is that this is now British government policy.
Well, letting pirates go free is government policy, I'm not sure about the Major-General's daughters. My guess would be that Britain no longer has enough Major-Generals to supply the required number of daughters.
That required number is sure to increase following the declaration, by the British Foreign office, that pirates captured on the high seas will no longer be returned to their home countries for punishment, as those countries might violate the pirates' human rights.
The British are thinking here of Somalia. The seas around the Horn of Africa are infested with Somali pirates, and Britain is one of many nations — including this one — with warships patrolling the waters down there.
So the issue is what to do with pirates when you catch 'em. Hanging them from the yard-arm has apparently gone out of style, which seems to me a pity. "The main thing," purred a Foreign Office spokes-ninny, "is to ensure any incident is resolved peacefully."
You know, just like last year, when 15 British sailors were taken prisoner by the Iranians. The jolly tars got down on their knees and begged the mullahs to give them a good thrashing, because that was what they deserved.
Those Gilbert & Sullivan productions were great comic operas in their time. Now they are blueprints for national policy, because Britain has become a comic-opera nation, obsessed with bogus human rights and the need to, quote: "ensure any incident is resolved peacefully."
I mean, heaven forbid anyone's feelings get hurt. Poor old England. They might as well pull Admiral Nelson down from his column in Trafalgar Square, and replace him with someone more representative of our age. A human rights lawyer, perhaps. How about Cherie Blair?
03 — Brigitte Bardot in trouble. I am old enough, heaven help me, to remember when Brigitte Bardot was cute. Boy, was she cute!
Well, old age isn't very kind to any of us, and the sex kitten of my fevered adolescent fantasies hasn't escaped that unkindness. Brigitte says she's having trouble getting around nowadays.
She hasn't escaped France's official enforcers of political correctness, either, and she'd better not be hoping they'll cut her any slack on account of her age and infirmity. A public prosecutor in Paris has just demanded that Brigitte — I hope she won't mind my using her first name; I feel I sort of … know her personally — the prosecutor has demanded that Brigitte get a two-month suspended prison sentence and a $25 thousand fine for inciting racial hatred in a letter to Nicolas Sarkozy back when he was France's interior minister.
Wow, that must have been some letter! What did she say — that Sarkozy is a perverted Hungarian midget?
Nothing so pardonable. What she wrote was, quote in translation: "We're fed up with being led by the nose by this population that is destroying us, destroying our country by imposing its acts."
What's the population she's referring to? See if you can guess. I'll give you a clue: It's not Hungarians.
The particular acts Brigitte objects to are the way that mystery population carries out ritual slaughter of animals for the table. The lady is an animal-rights campaigner from way back, you see.
This is Brigitte's fifth prosecution on similar charges. The prosecutor, a lady named Anne de Fontette, who I suspect is a descendat of Mme. Defarge, is furious with Brigitte's presumption. "She might as well write that Arabs should be thrown out of France," hissed this prosecutor, or prosecutrix. "It is time to hand out heavier sentences."
The guillotine, perhaps? Brigitte, if it comes to that, I'll be your Sidney Carton. Always fancied myself in that role. You can escape to England in disguise — I suggest a pirate outfit, that should get you through British Immigration with no trouble — while I go nobly to the scaffold murmuring: "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known."
See, Brigitte, you may be old and wrinkly, but you can still inspire a man to fantasies. Spit in their faces, honey.
04 — ChiCom organizers at work. Once in a while some official from a Chinese Communist embassy or consulate defects to the West. You might recall the cases of Chen Yonglin in Australia and Han Guangsheng in Canada a couple of years ago.
These people always have interesting stories to tell about China's massive espionage efforts, and about the way the Chinese government tries to control pretty much any organization of Chinese people in western countries, except the organizations they're trying to destroy, like Falun Gong. Chinese student groups, Chinese business associations, Chinese community organizations — according to these defectors, they are all heavily infiltrated by ChiCom agents, run from the nearest Chinese consulate.
I'm inclined to believe it, and I offer the recent running of the Olympic torch through San Francisco as evidence in support. You couldn't help but notice how much better organized the pro-Chinese demonstrators were than the pro-Tibetan ones.
One local Chinese organizer was overheard saying they had spent some $30,000 on food and water for the day of the torch run — wonder where they got that money from?
The pro-China demonstrators were also photographing people like crazy. These photographs will be sent to Peking for analysis, so that the government there can deny visas to anyone who might try demonstrating at the Olympics.
Americans are completely naïve about this stuff. They imagine that, for example, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association is merely, well, an association of Chinese students and scholars.
Is this the case, though? Their website doesn't give much of a clue. It's just announcements of volleyball games and ping-pong tournaments. On the other hand, they were lobbying mightily for the University of Washington president not to meet with the Dalai Lama when that gentleman vistited Seattle, which is just what the Communist Party would want them to do.
Have they ever have a single word of criticism for anything the Communists do? I don't know. Perhaps I'm being over-suspicious. Perhaps they really are nothing but an association of students and scholars, totally independent of the Chinese Communist Party. Perhaps they'll come out with a biting critique of organ harvesting or forced abortions or the harassment of religious believers or the rape of Eastern Turkestan.
Perhaps they will. My suspicion, though, is that what those defectors tell us is all true. In which case there's a chess game going on here, but only one of the players knows it.
05 — Chinese nationalism enraged. The other side of the Olympic torch business is the reaction in China, where there's been a huge surge of Chinese nationalism. The Chinese blogs have been on fire with denunciations of the West for daring to suggest that there is anything wrong with Chinese government policy.
The Western media are coming in for a lot of abuse, too. How dare CNN, the BBC, Agence France-Presse, and all the other Western media outlets — how dare they suggest that Tibet is not a part of China, when China's one hundred percent state-controlled media, who of course have no reason to lie, have made the truth clear to all?
Obviously all these foreign news media are marching in lockstep at the whispered commands of a cabal of China-haters, while the Chinese media, under the wise guidance of the Chinese Communist Party, are alone broadcasting the pure clear wine of truth to an indifferent world.
With this sinister worldwide conspiracy to prevent China from succeeding at anything, you can't wonder that things are getting ugly out there. Here is a furniture store in the small English town of Sheffield. The owner is a Tibetan sympathizer, so he put a Tibetan flag in his shop window. Two young Chinese men, calling themselves students, visited and made threats. That night the store windows were smashed.
This was in England, in a small town in the north of England. Or how about young Grace Wang, a Chinese student at Duke University here in the U.S.A. She was spotted by other overseas Chinese taking part in a Free Tibet protest. Ms. Wang then became the subject of a huge witch hunt on the Communist Party supported web portal Tianya, ending with her family home in China being attacked by a rock-throwing mob.
Whatever else the ChiCom Olympics accomplish, it's giving a lot of people in the West a whole new set of insights into the nature of modern Communist China. Are you afraid yet? You should be.
06 — Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. I was down in Tucson all last week, so here's a story from Tucson.
Mr. Lance Altherr, who is a resident of that fine city, and who can understand Spanish, happened to overhear his eight-year-old son reciting the Pledge of Allegiance … in Spanish. Investigating, Mr. Altherr discovered that his son's second grade teacher was requiring her class to recite the Pledge en Español, a thing not required by either the Tucson Unified School District or the State of Arizona.
Well, off went Mr. Altherr to the school, Gale Elementary, to tell them that he did not want his son reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in a foreign language. Stunned to hear this, the school administrators took prompt action.
So what did they do — fire the teacher responsible? [Laughter] No, they transferred Mr. Altherr's son to a different class, one in which the Pledge of Allegiance is recited in English, for those sad reactionary types who aren't yet up to speed on the glorious multicultural project.
I just looked up Gale Elementary on the GreatSchools.net website, which is a really good reference source. Student stats, let's see … 69 percent white, 19 percent Hispanic, 6 percent Asian, 4 percent black, 2 percent other.
That gives me an idea. Since 19 percent of the school is Hispanic, why not recite the Pledge in 19 percent Spanish? There are 31 words in the Pledge. 19 percent of 31 is, let me see … close to six. "The Republic for which it stands," that's six words.
So how about the K-5 kids at Gale Elenentary just say that bit in Spanish, and the rest in English?
No, hold on, we have 6 percent Asian here. 6 percent of 31 is, um, about two, so we better put two words into Chinese. Unless the 6 percent are south Asian, of course: then it would have to be Hindi or Urdu. Boy, this multiculturalism business makes you sweat, doesn't it?
07 — Food crisis. Back in December last year The Economist ran a cover sory under the heading: "The End of Cheap Food." That was the first I'd heard about the food crisis, but the Economist guys had been watching commodity prices, and noticed they were going nowhere but up.
Why? Well, world population's increasing, and it's also getting richer. Rich people eat more. They also eat more meat, which is really just a very inefficient way of eating grain crops like soybeans. Instead of eating quantity X of beans, you process a hundred times X through the metabolism of a cow, then eat the cow.
Also, all those extra people need somewhere to live, so agricultural land becomes housing developments.
And then there's the ethanol business. The U.S.A. had a record corn harvest last year, but 30 percent of it went for ethanol production. This is supposed to be environmentally progressive. The thing nobody had told us was that, according to The Economist, if you fill up an SUV's fuel tank with corn ethanol, you just used enough corn to feed a human being for a year.
A sidebar fact here is that American ethanol is a relatively dirty kind: we'd do better to import Brazilian sugar ethanol … but nobody thought of that, either. Those politicians of ours are really something, aren't they?
And of course, the subsidies to farmers in the U.S.A. and Europe have kept down world prices, putting Third World farmers out of business. So now the specter of old Dr. Malthus is stalking the earth, with food riots in Haiti, the Philippines, and Egypt.
Someone should tell my local public schools. Every lunchtime they wheel out mountains of food for the kiddies to eat. Three quarters of it goes untouched, and an hour later they're shoveling it into waste bins around the back. If we could take all the food we waste, and convert that to ethanol, we'd be drowning in the damn stuff.
08 — Akon's false résumé. Did you hear about this rap singer Akon?
Platinum-disk-selling Akon has some résumé. Quote from his publicity material:
Akon was incarcerated for a total of four-and-a-half years, including a long stretch for his role as the "ringleader of a notorious car theft operation" … He frequently escaped from cops in high-speed pursuits … His criminal empire collapsed after underlings … cut deals and ratted him out to law enforcement … While in prison, Akon fought almost every day, becoming a champion … who prevailed over both big and small inmates …
End quote. Wow, this guy is some hard case! Well, no. It turns out Akon made it all up. He does have a few blots on his record, and once spent a few months in County jail for a car theft, but it's nothing like what he's been telling us.
In fact Akon, real name Aliaune Thiam, was born in the West African nation of Senegal and moved to a middle-class suburban district of New Jersey at age seven. It was a long time before he assimilated properly into American life. Heck, he didn't even get arrested till he was 25 years old!
Are you as disappointed as I am? I mean, I know folk out there in the suit-and-tie world sometimes pad their résumés, but you expect something better from a hip-hop star.
Personally, I won't be buying any more of Akon's albums, and I'm sure you won't either. I feel I've really been let down. It's like learning that Britney Spears is a virgin.
I mean, for heaven's sake. You can't trust anyone nowadays.
09 — Bring back the Iron Cross! Longtime Radio Derb fans will know that I'm a bit of a Germanophile. Politics aside, and of course nothing to excuse the monstrous cruelties of the Hitler regime, I believe the world owes a lot to Germany.
Nineteenth-century German culture was one of the high points of human civilization, with stupendous achievements in music, science, mathematics, philosophy, and literature. There were German geniuses before that, of course, but the nineteenth century was a sort of golden age.
It all got started with Prussia's war of liberation against the horrible dictator Napoleon in the early years of that century. The Prussians realized that to beat the tyrant decisively, they'd have to liberalize and modernize their society, and they did.
Wilhelm von Humboldt's education reforms of 1809 were a model for the whole world: the United States system of public education is based on them, though he shouldn't be blamed for what's happened to it this past thirty years.
In 1812 Prussia liberated the Jews, removing all the legal disabilities against them. In 1813 Prussia instituted the Iron Cross as an award for valor in battle, of which there had been a lot in the wars against Napoleon.
The Iron Cross remained a treasured symbol of German military courage all through the century, and down into the stupid Kaiser's World War One, and then through to the Hitler period.
Hitler stuck a swastika in the middle of the Iron Cross, and ever since then it's been taken as a symbol of Nazism, which is pretty unfair to the heros of the 120 years from 1813 to 1933.
Anyway, the German army of today has no decorations for valor at all. This is getting to be an issue, as the Germans have put their post-WW2 pacifism behind them. 3,500 of them are fighting alongside us in Afghanistan. At least 25 have been killed there.
There's a move afoot in Germany to bring back the Iron Cross, though in its original form of course, minus the swastika.
Well, here's one voice in support. After fifty years of pacifism, and after setting a model to the world of economic recovery, orderly government, and peaceful reunification, let the Germans restore this little symbol from a glorious period in their history. Bring back the Iron Cross!
10 — Miscellany. A handful of short items to see us out.
Item. Maoists have won an election in Nepal. Nepal — Nepal, that's that wee country up there in the Himalayas, between India and Tibet.
Maoists! What is a Maoist nowadays? What are they going to do? Have a long march up Mount Everest? Promote backyard steel furnaces? Stage a famine? Take a swim in the Yangtse? Throw a few college professors down wells? Invade Tibet?
Well, that last one, quite possibly: they've already beaten up a lot of Tibetan protestors. My advice to the Nepal government would be, don't stage a bid for the Olympics, not till we see how it turns out for those other Maoists up there to your north.
Item. Meanwhile in Italy, Silvio Berlusconi has become Prime Minister for the third time.
Berlusconi is, come lo dite?, colorful. He has an easy ride from the Italian media at election time on account of the fact that he owns most of them. He is on record as believing that right-wing women are better-looking than left-wing women, an opinion I share. He is disliked by the bureaucrats of the European Union racket, a big point in his favor. He told one of them, a German, that he'd make a fine Nazi kapo. He holds some sort of world record for ticking off the Chinese Communists, having once accused them of eating babies during the Mao Tse-tung period. When they demanded an apology, Berlusconi admitted he'd been wrong. The ChiComs of the Mao era didn't actually eat babies, he said, they just boiled them up and used them for fertilizer on their fields.
Colorful. Well, he's a conservative, as Euro-politicians go, and pro-American, so we should cut him some slack. Congratulations, Mr. Berlusconi. Will you be attending the Olympic opening ceremony?
Item. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he has abandoned hope that troop levels in Iraq will drop to 100,000 by the end of the century …
Er, sorry, I misread that: it's by the end of the year. By the end of the century troop levels should be well below 100,000, or at least appreciably below, or at any rate a bit below. Or, if not actually below, not very much higher.
Meanwhile the civil war among Iraqi Shi'ites is going our way, with the Maliki government winning a couple of rounds against the Sadr brigades. Since Maliki and his people are pro-Iranian, while the Sadrists are anti-Iranian, and given that Iran is supposed to be our big enemy in that area, you might think this is a negative for us. Well, that just shows how little you understand about Iraq.
Item. The town of Oldham in England has opened that country's first Islamic pub.
No alcoholic drinks, of course, only fruit juice, but everything else is traditional pub style. There's a dart board, a juke box, and a friendly barmaid to pass the time of day with, if you can hear what she's saying from under the burqa.
Of course, you don't want to get too friendly with her, or else her brothers and cousins will have to hack her to death.
So there you are. Next time you find youself in Oldham, up there in the north of England, drop in to the Halal Inn for a glass of camel juice. Just try to remember, when someone's bought a round of drinks, not to say "Bottoms up!" That's the signal for Friday prayers.
Item. The federal government, just like any big corporation, issues credit cards to its employees to be used for official purchases.
I know you'll be as stunned as I was to learn that our federal public servants have been abusing those cards. Hard to believe, I know, but yes, those dedicated bureaucrats that you and I support have been on the take, racking up bills for liquor, limousine services, fancy clothes, and consumer electronics, all on Uncle Sam's credit card.
One employee of the U.S. Forest Service used these facilitiess to funnel more than $640,000 over seven years to a live-in boyfriend, who spent the money on gambling, car expenses and mortgage payments.
This is all according to a GAO report requested by Senators Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Carl Levin of Michigan. Quote from Senator Coleman: "Too many government employees have viewed purchase cards as their personal line of credit." End quote.
Come come, Senator, isn't that a bit harsh? I mean, this is not real money we're talking about here, only, like, government money.
Item. Some very short items within the short items.
A landscaper named Eli Estrada in Cerritos, California found $140,000 in the street, and turned it in to police. He got a $2,000 dollar reward from Brinks. His Mom said it should have been ten percent, and I agree with her.
Scientists with the European Space Agency have succeeded at growing marigolds in soil made from crushed moon rocks.
A first draft of Charles Darwin's notes on evolution has been put online. Ben Stein is going to make a movie to protest this.
Our ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez can't find a job. No big law firm wants to hire him. If you have a job for Mr. Gonzalez, please contact us at National Review and we'll forward a résumé.
The European Commission issued a safety report saying that the most dangerous goods in Europe are those imported from China. The Chinese government promptly denounced the report as, quote, "a plot by the evil Dalai Lama clique and their willing accomplices in Brussels."
Oil's at $115 a barrel, a baby in India was born with two faces, Robert Mugabe is still in power in Zimbabwe, Russia did something beastly to the Georgians, and a lot of people killed each other in the Middle East.
[Music clip: More Haydn.]