»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, May 2, 2008

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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]

01 — Intro.     John Derbyshire here, ladies and gentlemen, with your weekly fix of Radio Derb. Excuse me being a little breathless, I just got back from Rev'm Wright's seminar on rhythmic clapping. [Clapping] I'm not there yet, but I think after a few more lessons I may get it. 'Scuse me while I just practice a little. [More clapping]

02 — Rev. Jeremiah Wright.     Boy, how about that Jeremiah Wright, eh? He's sure changed a lot this last twenty years, hasn't he? When I was attending Trinity United Church of Christ way back when, Rev'm Wright was preaching nothing but tolerance and brotherly love. Why, I recall him once chiding a parishioner for having referred to Clarence Thomas as a Tom. "There are no Toms in this church," Rev'm Wright scolded him. "We are all brothers and sisters in Christ." Sometimes after services Rev'm Wright used to take us all uptown in hired buses, and let us out in the business district, and have us hug the first person we met, regardless of color. That didn't always work out too well. One time I tried to hug this East Asian guy just stepping away from an ATM. He turned out to be a Jeet Kun Do black belt, and he wasn't really in tune with the message we were trying to convey. That's why I have all this bridge work on the left side of my jaw here. But hey, these misunderstandings are bound to occur now and then as we strive for multicultural harmony. I accepted what happened in a spirit of Christian forbearance, as the good Reverend told me to, and Trinity helped me out with the dental bills. Well, that was the Rev'm Wright that I knew, and that was also the one that Barack Obama knew way back there in, when was it? Yeah, in 2007, when Barack donated $26,270 to Trinity United. And even further back in 2006, when Barack donated $22,500 to Trinity. Course, that was a long, long time ago, I'm relying on my memory here. But you know, time can change a man. Yes Sir, Rev'm Wright certainly has changed a lot over the years. Months, whatever. Now Barack, he hasn't changed a bit. Still the same Barack I always knew. Solid as a rock. Nothing wishy-washy about Barack Obama, no Sir. What a pity our Rev'm Wright has somehow morphed into this … what's the word? "bitter"? … person.

03 — Sean Bell shooting.     I'm very glad to see that the Rev'm Al Sharpton and I agree about Senator Obama. Quote from Al: "None of that is going to change my vote. There's no difference between what Barack Obama said he believes in today than when we first heard him four years ago at the 2004 convention." Yes, Sir, that's our Barack: steady as a rock. None of that twisting and turning to the winds of expedience that we see in Rev'm Wright. Meanwhile, I've been having an unsettling thought about Al Sharpton. You won't like the thought, and I don't like it much myself, but bear with me here. We got a verdict this week in the trial of three of the New York City cops who shot Sean Bell a year and a half ago. Bell was sitting in a car with two friends when five plainclothes cops challenged him. Bell responded by driving the car at the cops — twice, according to forensic evidence. The cops opened fire. The number of rounds fired by each of the five officers, most to least, were: 31, 11, 4, 3, and 1. Since these are 9mm concealable handguns, the cop who fired 31 shots must have reloaded at least twice. He and two other cops were indicted for manslaughter and reckless endangerment. The prosecution's best bet was to prove that the cops had not properly identified themselves. Prosecutors failed to prove that, so the three cops were acquitted this week, though they are still under a police department disciplinary investigation. Well, Al Sharpton's outraged, of course, and we're hearing "No justice, no peace," threats to shut down the city, all the usual Sharpton shtick. It doesn't seem to be having much effect. For one thing, two of the acquitted cops were black. For another, most of the prosecution witnesses had rap sheets of various lengths (as did Bell himself), and they contradicted each other in their testimony. For yet another, New York's police department has been scandal free for years, and by the standards of U.S. cities has a very low rate of police firing their weapons. The police department of Philadelphia, for instance, has a fatal shooting rate ten times New York's. That's where my unsettling question pops up. Could it be that all that grandstanding by Al Sharpton, all the marches and demonstrations he's staged — could it be that they have been a factor in the New York Police Department having become so exceptionally self-controlled and reluctant to fire their weapons? The other side of that question, of course, is that the cops may have become too self-controlled, yielding the advantage to the bad guys. Our own Jack Dunphy, who is himself a police officer, notes that the Queens South Patrol Bureau, the policing district where Sean Bell died, has had twenty murders so far this year. Would that number have been bigger, or smaller, without Al Sharpton's efforts over the years to inhibit and persecute police officers? I don't know the answers, I'm just asking the questions.

04 — Summer employee shortage.     OK, get your Kleenex out, this story will bring tears to your eyes. We are facing a shortage of summer temporary workers. Quote from the Associated Press, quote: "Employers around the country who thrive on seasonal business are preparing to lose thousands of foreign workers they've hired in past summers to work in restaurants, hotels, landscaping and other industries. New visa controls are cutting the number of temporary foreign workers eligible to return to the country, so employers are scouring job fairs for replacements, lobbying Congress for help and bracing for staff shortages they say will make business tough." End quote. O-kay, let's take this slowly. Economics 101: There is no such thing as a shortage, there is only a clearing price. You can't get those dirt-cheap summer workers from Bulgaria to staff your resort hotel? Try hiring an American. What's that you say? Americans aren't interested in doing the work? If you raise the pay, they'll be interested. There is some wage level at which I will clean hotel bathrooms. There is some wage level at which Warren Buffett will clean hotel bathrooms. Sorry? If you had to pay higher wages, you'd have to charge higher prices, and business would drop off? Well, you just described the workings of the free market, which is what we operate here in the U.S.A. Excuse me? You don't like the free market? You're off to lobby Congress? Well, that's probably a smart move. They don't like the free market either.

05 — Bolivia breakup.     Here's a news story from Bolivia … and the first person to say "I don't bolivia" can go stand out in th corridor for the rest of the lesson. What's happening in Bolivia is interesting because it illustrates the collision of two large trends. Trend One is the leftward turn South America has been taking in recent years. Colombia is now pretty much the only nation down there that does not have a socialist, anti-American government. Trend Two, which is larger and world-wide, it the slow ethnic cleansing that has been going on everywhere for decades now. Most of this ethnic cleansing has been voluntary. There is something about modernity that makes people not want to live among people they think of as different. Countries have actually broken up over this: Cyprus and Yugoslavia most sensationally, but there are strong sentiments for ethnic break-up from Belgium to Lebanon, from Scotland to Hawaii. Well, here's Bolivia, with a left-wing government under Evo Morales. Like most of the people in the western, mountainous part of Bolivia, where the capital is located, Morales is a Native American, He's pushing a new constitution that will give privileges and preferences to Native Americans, and entrench socialism. Over in Bolivia's eastern lowlands, where the population is much more European — and where, to add an economic twist to the situation, most of the country's oil and natural-gas reserves lie — they are not keen on Morales and his new constitution. This Sunday, May 4,the biggest of these eastern provinces, Santa Cruz, with 26 percent of Bolivia's population, is holding a referendum on autonomy. There's a certain amount of gamesmanship involved, Santa Cruz hoping to pressure Morales away from his plan for constitutional reform. There is still that strong ethnic undertow, though, and it's a feature of our age. Bolivia isn't Cyprus or Yugoslavia, and none of the analysts think the country will actually break up; but there's something going on in the world here, and we shall hear much more of it.

06 — Texas polygamy cult.     I passed a brief comment on the Texas polygamy business in last week's Radio Derb, just wondering aloud why all those children had to be taken away from their homes and parents. The more I read about this, the more disturbed I get. The Texas authorities went into that compund, on a highly dubious phone tip, and took 463 children away from their parents. 463 — and 130 of those children were less than five years old. You can think what you like about this polygamy cult; and if laws have been broken, by all means let's see prosecutions, with evidence presented in the courts. Still, 463 kids? Now the story is getting a little bizarre, though. Fifty of the children are in custody at a Methodist children's home in — where? can you guess? — Waco! Waco, Texas. Well, let's hope Janet Reno doesn't get to hear about it and come down there with flamethrowers, like she did last time. It was Ms. Reno, you'll remember, who established the government policy that it is better for a child to be burned alive than to run even the slightest risk of being abused. Well, back to that Methodist children's home in Waco. Bobby Gilliam, who runs the place, was asked if any of the children in Waco were pregnant. Gilliam said the children there are much too young but said that doesn't mean they didn't escape abuse. Quote: "You have to remember that some of these children have already had things happen to them much too young for their age range before coming." I suppose he means "too old for their age range." And that's right, of course. These little kids have endured something no young child should have to endure. They have been snatched from the mothers who cared for them, from the place and the playmates they knew, and put in care of state bureaucrats and foster parents. Not to worry, though; only four children died last year in the care of the Texas state authorities. I don't have any data on whether any of the four were burned alive, but if they were, that would certainly have been preferable to suffering abuse at the hands of women wearing unfashionable clothes.

07 — "Jihad" banned.     Remember a few years ago in the Rumsfeld era when the administration decided that the expression "war on terror" was too harsh and divisive? Donald Rumsfeld floated an alternative, something like "regrettable disagreement with persons whose methodological approach to issues of intercommunal conflict incorporates elements of unlawful coercion." It never caught on, I can't imagine why. Well, our administration, ever striving for the highest standards of political correctness, has been at it again. "Under guidelines …" I'm reading here from an item in the New York Post; "Under guidelines issued for all federal agencies by the Department of Homeland Security and based on recommendations from American Muslims, terms like 'jihad' and 'mujahedeen' are now off-limits in referring to Islamic extremists." End quote. The rationale here is, according to the DHS, that using words like "jihad" glamorizes terrorism. You see, far too many young people in the Muslim world have got the notion that "jihad" means showering your body parts all over some market place, when in fact the real meaning of "jihad," as Muslim clerics all over the world strive to make clear to their congregants every day, is inner struggle with one's personal demons, conducted alone in one's chambers in a state of deep meditation. It has absolutely nothing to do with conquering the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia, India, Indonesia, and Spain. That was all just a misunderstanding. The expression "Islamo-fascism" is also now taboo, though on different grounds: it is, says Homeland Security, quote: "offensive to many Muslims." So if an actual, certifiable style of fascism were to come up in the world built around a core of Islamic faith and values, we'd have to think of a different name for it. Fortunately such a thing could never happen.

08 — Voter ID upheld.     The Supreme Court has upheld an Indiana law obliging people who turn up at polling stations to vote to show some kind of identification. This has shocked and horrified the Democratic Party, which depends on voter fraud for several of its congressional seats and governorships. The left-wing Sacramento Bee compared the ruling to Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 decision that allowed racial segregation. They pretty much accused the Supremes of stomping on the faces of old ladies. Here is one of those issues where left meets right, though. Libertarians fret a lot about the prospect of a national ID system, and Jim Harper over at Cato.org vented some of this on the Indiana decision. The key phrase here is: "Your papers, please!" which every well-trained libertarian can say with a scary German accent. Well, I'm libertarian on plenty of things, but voting's a privilege of citizenship, and the devaluing of citizenship has gone much too far. I waited seventeen years for my citizenship, and I wouldn't mind too much if there was a federal requirement that anyone wanting to vote had first to complete the Marine Corps Parris Island assault course under live fire and pass a three-hour written examination on constitutional jurisprudence. This is a Supreme Court decision I can happily live with.

09 — Miscellany     A handful of short items to see us out.

Item:  You still worrying about global warming? If so, you are way behind the curve. The latest climate model from some German scientists, reported in the journal Nature, says that worldwide temperatures will stay the same for the next few years, but then start to rise by about 2020. So you can quit worrying yourself. You may want to get your kids worrying, though. It's never too early to get them started with climate anxiety.

Item:  Quote from BBC news: "Campaigners on the Greek island of Lesbos are to go to court in an attempt to stop a gay rights organisation from using the term 'lesbian'." End quote. See, this modern usage of the word "lesbian" is derived from the poems of Sappho, a Greek lady who wrote erotic verse about other Greek ladies back in the ancient world B.C. Sappho lived on the island of Lesbos. The present-day islanders are fed up with the connection, and they want tourists to come and view their many other attractions, including a lot of very picturesque ruins and structures from the classical period. I understand that they are particularly proud of their ancient dykes.

Item:  The inventor of the hallucinogenic drug LSD has died. Sixties survivors will remember LSD, all those hours spent staring fixedly at an ashtray which seemed somehow to contain within itself the whole secret of creation. Well, this Swiss guy Albert Hofmann invented the stuff back in 1938. He accidentally swallowed some, and the world got a whole new perspective on ashtrays. Hofmann was 102 at his death, which is a pretty good inning, especially considering all those stories they used to scare us with about climbing up on the roof and trying to fly after swallowing half a tab. Dr. Hofmann leaves behind numerous children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and a lot of iridescent purple spiders.

Item:  Your tax dollars at work: Everybody knows that the most important country in the world, the hinge of history in our time, is Iraq. Our government has confirmed Iraq's immense importance by building a vast new embassy complex there. The 21 buildings in the complex cover 104 acres, comparable in size to Vatican City. The new compound cost $740 million to construct and will cost over a billion dollars a year to operate. Ah, the glories of empire! Is it bad of me to wonder if they made the embassy roof strong enough for a helicopter to take off?

Item:  Come on, be honest, had you ever heard of Miley Cyrus before last week? This is the 15-year-old lass who showed her bare back in Vanity Fair magazine recently. Here's my position, as the father of a 15-year-old lady myself: I favor a federal law that girls of this age should be photographed for the public prints only when wearing dresses made and approved by the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints. (That's one you're going to need to think about a little bit.)

Item:  The love of liberty is not yet quite dead in the U.S.A. Ron Paul's book, title Revolution: A Manifesto, is number one on Amazon.com. Congratulations to Dr. Ron. Meanwhile the anti-matter analog of Ron Paul, John McCain, is promising billions of dollars in giveaways and new spending programs: new cuts in personal and corporate taxes, a new mortgage refinancing program for homeowners, a new and more extravagant student loan program, suspension of federal gas taxes for the summer months, a new veterans' health benefit, and lots of cool new wars and 100-acre embassy complexes. Yes, my friends, Santa Claus is on the campaign trail. Given a choice between Ron Paul's call for liberty and self-support, and federal handouts from Santa's sack, which will Republicans go for? Well, I think we already decided that, didn't we?

Item:  Here's a scoop: A lump of fossilized dinosaur dung, 130 million years old, has been sold at auction for $960. The lucky buyer was a gentleman from Ohio who owns a company that sells products to treat dog and cat waste. Quote from this gentleman: "Poop is a big business in the pet industry." End quote. Not just in the pet business, Sir. The corresponding substance from bulls is a staple of our political life, and presidential candidates pay a lot more than $960 a piece for it.

10 — Signoff.     There you are, listeners, that was the week that was. To give you one last thought to go away with, here is a quote from Ron Paul's fine book, page 79, quote: "Abolishing the income tax on individuals would cut government revenue by about 40 percent. … In order to imagine what it would be like to live in a country with a federal budget 40 percent lower than the federal budget of 2007, it would be necessary to go all the way back to … 1997." End quote. Buy the book. Vote for the man, if you live somewhere you can. Conservatism is not dead yet.

[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]