»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, September 26, 2008

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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]

01 — Intro.     I know, listener, I know: your nerves are all on edge after the events of this week. Are you a retiree, depending on an annuity or stock dividends for your income? Are you a small business person in need of a loan, just learning the meaning of the phrase "the credit market's dried up"? Are you a Wall Street worker bee who just got a pink slip and two months pay? Or are you a humble blogger, living by your wits, with two kids to put through college and nothing but a dwindling sheaf of mutual funds to see you through your retirement? Did I say retirement? [Laugh] Yes, it's a rough old world. Nothing like as rough as it used to be, though. There would have to be an economic catastrophe far worse than any I've yet seen predicted, for me to end my life as poor as I was when I started it. So with a smile, a cheery wave, and, at the end of the show, a merry little song, here is this week's edition of Radio Derb, courtesy of National Review Online and your ever-genial host John Derbyshire. Let's keep our peckers up, shall we? That's the spirit!

02 — Financial crisis.     Who are the winners, who are the losers in this financial crisis? Well, the Democrats look like modest winners. Obama's poll numbers are up since the storm broke, though not by much. It's unfair, but a catastrophe gets blamed on the party in power, even when, as in this case, the roots of the crisis go way back into the previous administration. And perhaps it's not that unfair, as Republicans in Congress had their snouts in the trough along with Democrats, when they might have done something to forestall the crisis. And the man in the bully pulpit, though he's made some commendably critical remarks about lending practices from time to time, hasn't excatly been banging the big drum for restraint and reform. Other winners of course are the officers of these firms who drove them off the cliff, and are now snug in their twelve-bedroom mansions with a hundred million dollars in the pockets of their jeans. Nice going, guys. And I left out the foreigners there. You hear stuff, and what I'm hearing is, that Asians are pulling their funds out of the U.S.A. Seems to me that'll be good for banks and businesses in Asia. Losers of course are the folk who lost their homes, retirees who trusted everything to the markets, and the poor old middle class, who pay most of the taxes, and who will be paying this fiasco off for decades to come. The middle classes are the real fall guys, in fact. The bottom decile of the income distribution don't care. They'll get their welfare checks and food stamps anyway. The next quartile or so upwards, where the housing losses are heaviest, will get some kind of relief. The topmost decile are pretty well insulated from anything that happens. It's Joe Sucker Middle-Class who takes the hit every time. Pony up, Joe. You wouldn't want to be thought un-patriotic, would you?

03 — Suckers.     Making up my list of Suckers of the Week, Mr. & Mrs. Middle-Class Taxpayer are of course top of the list, but here's a bunch of people close behind them at number two. I'm reading this story that broke in the New York Times a few days ago about my local commuter service into New York City, the Long Island Railroad. See, there is this obscure agency of the Federal Government — that would be the government you're about to hand over your life savings to — called the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board. What this agency does is, hand out disability checks to railroad employees nationwide who have retired with work-related disabilities. Hard to object to that, surely? Well, perhaps not. The New York Times broke the story that practically a hundred percent of Long Island Railroad employees were retiring on disability, courtesy of Uncle Sam. Now an investigation's under way, and it turns out that the Railroad Retirement Board awarded disability to anyone who walked in the door — 98 percent of applications nationwide, not just on Long Island. Ninety-eight percent of railroad employees retire on a fat disability pension from the feds. So there's my number two slot on the suckers' list nicely filled, by the two percent of railroad employees who didn't apply for disability. What were they thinking of? Of course, you might disagree with my choice. You might think that the real suckers here are all those of us who didn't have the foresight to get a job on the railroad. Matter of opinion, I guess.

04 — New York blues.     Speaking of New York City, there, I mean here, is one huge loser from the financial crisis. Wall Street, it is pretty much agreed, will never be the same again; and Wall Street is far and away the biggest revenue-producer in the city — in New York State, in fact. Page eight of the New York Post — hey, where d'you think I get all my news stories from? — headline: "Wall Street Whizzes Look to Head West." Quote: "California's corporate recruiters are being inundated with résumés from finance executives looking for jobs. Younger people used to want the name Goldman or Lehman on their résumés. Now it's places like Google." Well, so it goes. There'll be tumbleweed blowing down Broadway, vultures will be perched on the Brooklyn Bridge, and my little house here in the New York suburbs will, if I sell it, buy me a parking garage in San Bernadino. It'll be like James Elroy Flecker said: "When the great markets by the sea shut fast / All that calm Sunday that goes on and on …" I shoulda gone to work for the railroad. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.

05 — Bailout payback.     What else on this bailout business? Here's a cynical reader in my email box. Quote from cynical reader: "I don't know about you but I get a feeling of déjà vu when I hear Bush warning us that the consequences of doing nothing will be much worse that than what he is proposing to do. I can't really put my finger on where I heard it before but it sure does ring a bell." End quote. For shame, Sir, for shame. As if our federal government would launch some trillion-dollar project without proper forethought! Well, let's see what America's Newspaper of Record has to say. That would be the New York Post, of course. Let's see, whadda we got. Cops in Nude Taser Slay. Wow. "Police fired a taser at a naked Brooklyn man armed with only a fluorescent light tube yesterday, sending him falling to his death from a second-floor ledge." Holy cow! Nothing to do with the bailout, I got the wrong page there, but a reminder of why I love the New York Post. OK, here we are, next page, quote: "President Bush last night invited John McCain and Barack Obama to the White House for an emergency economic summit today with congressional leaders." Phew! That's all right then! And you know that nobody at that meeting will have politics on his mind, just the welfare of the nation, right? The Post had some man-in-the-street reactions to the President's speech. A favorite passage was where the President said: "Money will flow back to the Treasury as these assets are sold, and we expect that much, if not all, of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back." People laughed when they heard that, but these were not laughs of pleasure and approval. Goodness, how cynical we have become. See, the President proposes to rip seven hundred billion dollars out of the pockets of Joe and Jane Taxpayer, but he promises to pay it back. Why would anyone be cynical about a promise like that? Hard to imagine. The heck with it — I want to go back to page four and read about the nude guy who got tasered and fell to his death. At least nobody's trying to kid me that one has a happy ending.

06 — Sarah's creationism.     A thing I get asked a lot is: Since I am a huge fan of Charlie Darwin, and of the modern biological science he begat, aren't I appalled at Sarah Palin's creationist opinions? No, I'm not. To the contrary, so far as science policy is concerned, I find the Democrats much more appalling. Our government spends a lot of money on science via outfits like the NIH, the National Institutes of Health. You can argue the rights and wrongs of that as a philosophical matter; but trust me: the government does this, and will continue doing it. A creationist takeover of the NIH is not even imaginable. I'm talking about howling resistance from the academic community, mass resignations, political humiliation, Supreme Court rulings, a perfect storm. Ain't going to happen. I haven't acually checked the credentials of all the directors of all the twenty-odd institutes under NIH, but I would be highly surprised to find a single creationist among them. On the contrary, I'd expect the majority to be Democrats sharing the common mentality of academic bureaucrats everywhere — cautious, unimaginative, and PC as all get out. So far as government science policy is concerned, these government-funded research centers are force multipliers for political correctness. And political correctness in the human sciences is a bad thing. It wastes public money and discourages research in important areas like population genetics and neuroscience that are scary to PC bureaucrats. That will all get much worse under a Democratic administration. Furthermore, Sarah Palin strikes me as a person who is creationist by default. I doubt she's ever given it much thought. She's a smart lady, and would respond quickly and easily to some basic science education. She lives close to reality — killing and dressing a moose is about as close to biological reality as you can get. Obama and Biden will shovel billions into futile programs like Head Start, which are based on bad science — on premises long since proven false. The mirror image of that would be Sarah Palin shoveling billions into the Discovery Institute. As I said, that is totally not going to happen. Nope, I'm still Sarah's guy. I forgive her her creationist sins, and I bet if I could be alone with her for a few hours, I could set her straight. Now there's a thought — alone with Sarah for a few hours … [Boing sound] Ouch! That was me getting hit over the head with a large cast-iron wok. Sorry, honey.

07 — Jihad Prevention Act.     Radio Derb reported last week on the Sharia courts that are now permitted in Britain, and are operating in five cities over there. Can anything stop the same kind of rot here? Well yes — Tom Tancredo can! Tom's attempt to get the National Question debated in this year's presidential race fell flat, because we ended up with two open-borders enthusiasts on the tickets. Hope triumphs over experience, though, and here comes dauntless Tom, introducing a bill into the House of Representatives to bar the entry of foreign nationals who advocate Sharia law, and also to make the advocacy of Sharia law by foreign Muslims already in the United States a deportable offense. Tom's bill is called the "Jihad Prevention Act." Quote from Tom: "We need to send a clear message that the only law we recognize here in America is the U.S. Constitution and the laws passed by our democratically elected representatives. If you aren't comfortable with that concept, you aren't welcome in the United States." The day that Tom unveiled his Jihad Prevention Bill, September 17, I tried to get a comment from the White House on it. Unfortunately our president was unavailable, because that was the day he attended the Iftaar dinner. That's the dinner that breaks the day-long fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Quote from our President: "One of the great strengths of our nation is its religious diversity." Yeah, but over in England it's tipped over into legal diversity, Mr. President. Tom Tancredo's bill aims to prevent that happening. In the unlikely event it reaches your desk, will you sign it? Mr. President? Hello?

08 — Obama-Ayers.     Publishing billionaire Walter Annenberg, the fellow who gave us TV Guide, had a pretty full life. In 1969 Richard Nixon appointed him ambassador to Britain, and Mr. Annenberg added much to the public stock of harmless pleasure over there with his peculiar style of speaking. Presenting his credentials to Queen Elizabeth II, in front of TV cameras, he was asked by the queen how he was coping while the embassy residence was being restored. Replied the Ambassador, famous quote: "We're in the embassy residence, subject, of course, to some of the discomfiture as a result of a need for, uh, elements of refurbishment and rehabilitation." We snooty Brits were giggling about that for weeks. Hey, make allowances — there's not much to giggle at over there. Well, the other thing Annenberg was famous for was philanthropy, especially educational philanthropy. He financed a foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, the CAC, whose stated purpose was to improve the quality of public schools in inner-city Chicago. The CAC was actually the brainchild of our best-known domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, and Ayers was co-chairman of the CAC's policy committee. With a guy like that running policy, it's no surprise to learn that what CAC actually did was promote radical politics. Quote from a report by our own Stanley Kurtz in the Wall Street Journal, quote: "Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (or Acorn)." End quote. Get the picture? Now, see if you can guess who was the first chairman of the board of CAC, and served in that position for four years, and remained on the board another two years? Yep, it was our pal Barry Obama. Naturally, Barry is proud of his achievements on the CAC board, in co-operation with Bill Ayers. Er, no, wait a minute, it seems he isn't. Kurtz tells us there's nothing about it in either of Wonder Boy's two — count 'em, two — autobiographies. As for Bill Ayers, Barry tells us that Ayers is, quote, "a guy who lives in my neighborhood," and, quote, "not somebody who I exchange ideas with on a regular basis." Whether that's really credible or not we shall soon find out, because the news media will be all over this story. Any day now. Just about the time that poor old Walter Annenberg, friend of Richard Nixon and eventually knighted by Her Majesty the Queen, stops spinning in his grave.

09 — Ahmadinejad.     Rosh Hashanah coming up, and who's this showing up at the United Nations to help New Yorkers celebrate the holidays? Why it's Li'l Squinty, all the way from Tehran, bringing a message of, quote, "peace and friendship for the American people." The mad midget gave a speech at the U.N., telling the assembled delegates that all the world's troubles were the fault of those pesky Jews. Then he did some media spots, joshing with Larry King on CNN Tuesday night. To the great relief of the show's producers, Larry did not confuse Squinty with the Dalai Lama or ask his where he bought his toupees. He did ask him how many kids he'd got. Three, said the demented dwarf, omitting to tell Larry that it used to be four, but the youngest daughter unfortunately had to be hacked to death after it had been discovered that she'd spoken to a man who was not a relative. Barack Obama issued a spirited statement objecting to Li'l Squinty's U.N. speech, quote: "I strongly condemn President Ahmadinejad's outrageous remarks at the United Nations, and am disappointed that he had a platform to air his hateful and anti-Semitic views." You won't catch young Barry sitting still without protest while someone airs hateful views about America, no Sirree. I've been trying to ascertain whether El Squinto took a walkabout in Manhattan after his speech, as visiting foreign digintaries sometimes do. I could have sworn I saw him scarfing down a bialy with gefulte fish at the Hebrew National deli on Delancey Street Wednesday morning, but possibly I was mistaken. Wait a minute — that nude guy with the fluorescent light who got tasered in Brooklyn … could it have been …? Where's my New York Post? … Nah, too tall.

10 — Signoff.     Well, that's it, folks. What a depressing week! Instead of that rather gloomy organ music I usually close the show with, how about something jolly? A Noel Coward number — yes, that's the ticket. See you next week … if there is a next week.

[Music clip: From Noel Coward's Bad Times Just Around the Corner]