[Music clip: From Bach's Partita No. 6]
01 — Intro. That was a little bit of Bach's No. 6 Partita, just to ring the changes a little, and also in memory of Bill Buckley, who loved those partitas so much he named his boat after them. Well, here we are with Radio Derb once again. This is your ever-genial host John Derbyshire with the week's news, or as much of it as anyone should have to hear when sober. Masses of news stories from all over this week, so let's get on it.
02 — Left triumphalism. There's a kind of leftist triumphalism in the air. It's stupid and annoying. Here's James Carville with a book he's just written, title, quote: 40 More Years, How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation. And here's the columnist for The Economist, who writes about American politics under the pen-name "Lexington," quote: "The Republican Party is rapidly disappearing in whole swathes of America. The proportion of Republicans among 20-somethings has reached its lowest ebb since records began to be kept after the second world war." End quote. Then, writing about Arlen Specter, "Lexington" tells us that, quote, "Mr. Specter argued that he had almost no choice but to abandon an increasingly shrunken and hardline party." Hmmm. Would that be the party that ran John McCain for president last year? — John McCain as in, the most liberal Republican in the Senate after Arlen Specter? John McCain as in McCain-Feingold limits on free speech, as in McCain-Kennedy amnesty for illegal immigrants? If the Republican Party had been a little more hardline on fiscal responsibility, border control, regulation of mortgage lending, aggressive intelligence gathering, entitlements control, and a dozen other things, the country might be in better shape, and we might even have won the election last year. In any case, talk of a 40-year Democratic supremacy is absurd. It's a football game. The other side has the ball. Now they have to advance up the field. If they don't, then we get the ball. That's how it works. Given the performance of the Obama administration so far, I'll give them no more than another year of widespread public support. After that the ball's in play again. Democrats can't hold the field for more than a short time for one fundamental reason: their ideas suck. When Republicans mess things up, or pick a lousy leader for themselves — as we have a knack of doing — a lot of voters turn to the Dems, forgetting how bone-headed their philosophy is. Then, after a little while, the Democrats remind them …
03 — Jack Kemp, R.i.P. We lost Jack Kemp this week, at the age of 73. Kemp was a sunny character who cheered us all up for a while. He was also a good and honorable man, who did his best for his party and his country. His sunniness was unfortunately misplaced, though. David Frum caught the problem very nicely in his 1994 political classic Dead Right. Kemp is the leading character in Chapter 4 of David's book, and the title of that chapter is: "Optimists: Wrong but Wromantic." You couldn't dislike Jack Kemp, or begrudge him praise for the energy he put into doing what he tried to do. Unfortunately it couldn't be done, as Kemp was operating from wrong premises. In Kemp's world-view we are all rational actors. To improve the country, all that's required is to import the profit motive, the efficiency and the un-ideological pursuit of plain self-interest that characterize the private sector, into government services. Enterprise zones! School vouchers! Sell public housing to the tenants! It all sounded so cheerfully reasonable. But what if there's no unfulfilled desire to start a business, and the only thing an enterprise zone does, is cause nearby businesses to relocate into it to save themselves taxes? What if pleasant suburban schools don't want inner-city kids coming in on vouchers? What if the awful pathologies of the housing projects are not due to the fact that the tenants don't own their apartments, but are due to something in the tenants themselves? Policies based on wrong ideas about human nature are bound to fail, and Kemp's policies duly did. Still, on a scale of political sins, having a too rosy view of your fellow citizens and their capabilites surely ranks as very minor sinfulness indeed. Wrong but Wromantic — David Frum nailed it. But hey, a little romanticism in political life isn't such a bad thing, however wrong it turns out to be. Thanks for cheering us up, Jack.
04 — The MSM stand for something. Who says the mainstream media never stand up for anything? Well, a video surfaced on YouTube showing two presidential news conferences, both shot from the same place in the press seating area. In the first clip, President George W. Bush walks in, mounts the podium, and greets the assembled hacks. In the second, taken a year later, President Obama walks in and mounts the podium. This time the hacks all stand. The President graciously asks them to sit. Then he greets them. [Clip of "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus"] Yeah, I think that pretty much captures the spirit of the thing. Memo to President Obama: remember what they did to Jesus at last.
05 — Poets Laureate. Britain has a new poet laureate. It's a perfectly ordinary middle-aged heterosexual conservative white guy with two kids … Nah, just kidding, of course. That might have been OK for Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, Longfellow, and W.B. Yeats, but nowadays you can't be taken seriously as a poet unless you're transgressive in some way. Bourgeois white guys are out. Who's in? Well, Britain's new Poet Laureate is 53-year-old Carol Ann Duffy, who looks like a stevedore. I was not tremendously surprised to read that she's a proud lesbian. Quote from the British Council website article on her, quote: "Duffy's themes include language and the representation of reality; the construction of the self; gender issues; contemporary culture; and many different forms of alienation, oppression and social inequality," end quote. In other words, another self-obsessed whining gay lefty. Who else gets to be famous poets nowadays? I'm being a bit generous with the word "famous" there, as characters like Ms. Duffy have done such violence to the great tradition of English-language poetry with their solipsistic twaddle that no more than zero point one percent of the population bothers to read it any more. By no coincidence at all, the current United States Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan, is also a lesbian. So it looks like the message here, folks, is: If you want to be poet laureate of anywhere, be transgressive. Transgressive, that's key to artistic recognition. If you don't transgress, you'll have no success. A person who's straight, can't be Laureate. If you want your verses read, don't have a bourgeois head. Hey, I'm rhyming here! All I need now is to get myself a sex change operation, put on a hundred pounds, buy a motorbike, a softball mitt, and a set of golf clubs, and I'll be on my way to that Laureateship.
06 — Jacob Zuma. [Clip of "Lethu Mshini Wami"] I'm sure I don't need to tell you that that was a bit of the signature tune of South African politician Jacob Zuma. The name of the song is "Lethu Mshini Wami," and it translates as "bring me my machine gun." Well, Mr. Zuma got himself elected President of South Africa the other day, and it promises to be a colorful presidency. As well as the thing he has for his machine gun, he's been accused at various times of bribery, embezzlement, corruption, and rape. In all cases there was acquittal or dismissal of charges, for reasons mostly unclear. Zuma has at least 18 children, including one by the sister of the judge at his rape trial, which I guess clarifies that acquittal some. He has declared his belief that it is God's will his party should rule South Africa until the Second Coming. On the bright side, Zuma's opinions on same-sex marriage, which is legal in South Africa, are well to the right of Miss California's; and his party didn't get enough of a majority to push through constitutional change, so South Africa may go on not turning into Zimbabwe for a few years yet.
07 — Carrie Prejean. The public humiliation of Carrie Prejean, Miss California, proceeds apace. Carrie committed the monstrous crime of declaring her belief that the word "marriage" should properly be restricted to the union of a man and a woman. Most Americans, including — according to him — our current President, share that belief. Until about ten years ago, the number of people who did not share it was too small to show up in polls. Now suddenly same-sex marriage is a matter of civil rights, and if you're not on board with it, you're an evil bigot with a warped brain filled with hate. For the dwindling minority of us who have not been driven out of our senses by the multicultural zeitgeist, the true evil is visible, all too visible, in the sputtering, foam-flecked rage of the homosexual lobbyists railing against this very charming, sensible, and plain-spoken young woman. It can only be a matter of time before we hear that Carrie Prejean is being audited by the IRS. Then she will be charged with something or other and there'll be a show trial. If a law doesn't exist, Eric Holder will write one and the congress-sheep will pass it. In PC America, Carrie Prejean can't be allowed to walk free. Meanwhile, where are the homosexuals who believe in freedom of speech? [Crickets chirping] Perhaps our poet Laureate will write a poem in support of our national values. [Laughter]
08 — Rafael Correa. In other election news world-wide, and I'm afraid I am a little late with this one, Rafael Correa was re-elected President of Ecuador April 26. This strengthens Latin America's Axis of Leftism. Together with Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, Correa represents the wave of socialism fortified with racial grievance that has swept through those northern Latin American nations that have large indigenous and mixed-race populations — 90 percent in Ecuador's case. Colombia under President Álvaro Uribe is bucking the trend, while Alan García of Peru tries to hold the social-democratic line, and Lula da Silva of Brazil strains at the leash. Mr. Correa's Vice President is named Lenin Moreno. Will the winds of indigenous socialism blow northwards, to Central America and Mexico? Of course not. Couldn't possibly happen. No way. Absolutely impossible.
09 — Britain bars Savage. My fellow radio talk show host Michael Savage has been banned from Britain, joining Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. The common thread here is Islam, and the corrupting effect mass Muslim immigration has had on European countries. Britain is plagued by crazy Muslim extremists, most from Pakistan, many of them, because of insane British policies across forty years, being British citizens. The Brits can't do anything about the citizens, but they can try to keep out crazy Muslims who aren't citizens. Oooh, but wait a minute — that would be racist, since, as everybody knows, Islam is a race. The prime directive for any left-wing politician or government is never, ever to do or say anything that will cause you to be called racist. So how to escape from this dilemma? How to keep out the bombers and rabble-rousers without opening yourself to charges of racism? Easy: you just exclude a bunch of white guys too. Problem solved. The problem that has not been solved is how to stay a free country when you've allowed millions of people to settle who share none of your values, and many thousands of whom want to destroy you. To solve that problem, you'd have to give up multiculturalism, and that is unthinkable … at least until a few thousand more of your people have been murdered.
10 — Kenya sex strike. More news from Africa. My cultivated, classically-educated listeners will all know that in Aristophanes' play Lysistrata, the women of ancient Greece go on a sex strike in hopes of forcing their menfolk to end the Peloponnesian War. Well, this week saw a real-life Lysistrata strategy being acted out in Kenya. You may recall the disturbances that followed the election of December 2007 in that country. People believed that the election result had been rigged in favor of President Kibaki. Supporters of the losing candidate, Mr. Odinga, took to the streets. Hundreds died; hundreds of thousands were left homeless. Matters were patched up at last by a coalition arrangement, with Kibaki as President and Odinga as Prime Minister. It hasn't really worked, though, and Kenya's government has been at a standstill. So now Kenya's women have taken the initiative. Thousands of them have embarked on a week-long sex strike. Mrs. Odinga joined the strike — I don't know about Mrs. Kibaki. Since polygamy is legal in Kenya, the strike must have led to some interesting domestic scenes. In any case, let's hope it had some effect, and that Kenyans will be spared more troubles like those of a year and a half ago.
11 — Bird smuggler. A Vietnamese guy who rejoices in the name Sony Dong was arrested at Los Angeles airport and charged with trying to smuggle Asian songbirds into the country. Fourteen of the birds were strapped to his legs, hidden under his pants. Nice try there, Mr. Sony Dong. His traveling companion, Mr. Panasonic Wang, was released without charges.
12 — Plasticated cadavers. You can depend on the Germans to plumb the deepest uncharted depths of bad taste. Here's Mr. Gunther von Hagen, the guy who "plasticizes" human corpses and puts them on show. Well, his latest exhibition, which opened this week in Berlin, includes a tableau of two of these plasticated cadavers performing the conjugal act together. I'm going to leave it to old married guys to insert the appropriate joke here. Herr von Hagen insists that all the corpses he uses in his shows belonged to people who gave their consent while alive, but you have to wonder how this works with the couple in this particular tableau. Were they a married couple who both gave consent, then died at the same time? If not — if they're just a random couple of corpses — isn't there an act of technical adultery, or at least infidelity, going on here? I suppose it's old-fashioned of me to worry about this sort of thing. If I were fully in tune with the zeitgeist I'd be outraged that this couple consists of a man and a woman. Isn't that disgracefully heteronormative? It's so hard to keep up with things nowadays.
13 — Specter on Kemp. Speaking of plasticated corpses, here's Arlen Specter. The Republican renegade was explaining to an interviewer the other day how those evil hard-line Republicans murdered Jack Kemp. See, if we'd kept up Richard Nixon's war on cancer, instead of wandering off into these research-stifling crusades on behalf of stem cells, Jack Kemp might still be alive. Right, Senator: and without the scorn and contempt you've been heaping on conservatives this past thirty years, the Republican Party might be in better shape, too. You might want to get that phone call, Senator. It's from Gunther von Hagen.
14 — SCOTUS vacancy. The leading candidate to fill David Souter's seat on the U.S. Supreme Court has been Sonia Sotomayor. The case for Judge Sotomayor is as follows: (a) she's female, and (b) she's Hispanic. That pretty much seals the deal so far as leftist quota-hounds like Barack Obama are concerned. Unfortunately Judge Sotomayor has hit a few speed bumps. Last year the case of Frank Ricci and the New Haven firefighters reached the U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit. This is the case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, in which white firefighters who'd passed a promotion exam were not promoted because no black firefighters passed. Judge Sotomayor was on the 2nd Circuit bench. Her opinion in the firefighters case was characterized by a colleague as having, quote, "ignored the evidence and not addressed the constitutional issues raised." Judge Sotomayor ruled against the white firefighters, of course — I don't need to tell you that! Then it turned out that back in 2005, at a videotaped forum at Duke University, Judge Sotomayor said that it's her job to make public policy from the bench. Anyone who's done the fifteen-minute high school course on constitutional law knows that policy is made by politicians, not justices. This summa cum laude Princeton graduate apparently missed that class. Well, well: put together grade inflation, affirmative action, and patronizing liberal race guilt, and see what you get. Meanwhile liberal legal intellectual Jeffrey Rosen did a hatchet piece on Judge Sotomayor in The New Republic, hinting strongly that to really swing the Court back to full-bore liberalism, the left needs a justice who can do joined-up writing. Battle still rages as we go on air. Apparently being a twofer isn't enough to get you a Supreme Court job-for-life nowadays. Perhaps if Judge Sotomayor had been a three-fer she might have made the cut — if she'd been a lesbian, for example. Then, even if she didn't make the cut, at least she would have had a shot at Poet Laureate.
15 — Compulsory smoking. Since tobacco came into general use four hundred years ago, compulsory smoking hasn't been a prominent feature of civilized life. The only instance I know of was at English boys' boarding schools in the 1660s, when pupils were required to smoke because tobacco smoke was believed to be a prophylactic against the plague. A graduate of Eton College told the diarist Thomas Hearne that, quote from Hearne, "he was never so much whipped in his life as he was one morning for not smoking." Well, employees of China's Hubei Province are under a similar rule today, though for economic, not health reasons, and with fines in place of whippings. The provincial government has ordered everyone on its payroll, including teachers, to smoke locally-produced cigarettes, with a province-wide target of 230,000 packs a year. Work units that fail to meet their quota, or that are found smoking non-local brands, will be fined. Given the health costs of prolonged smoking, this is economic short-termism at its worst; but there's a lot of that about, and not only in China.
16 — The Big Three totter. Let's talk about the big old American auto makers — you know, those huge welfare and pension plans that run manufacturing operations on the side. When it became clear last year how much trouble they are in, a lot of us said, oh, let nature take its course — let them file for Chapter 11. Well, our political masters were having none of that — too many votes at stake up there in midwest auto-land. They sent federal agents round to raid our kids' piggy-banks so the auto-makers would have enough funds to keep going while they chased a fairy named "debt restructuring." Now guess what: GM just announced a cashflow of minus 10.2 billion dollars for the first quarter. Put it another way, all those dimes and quarters the feds took from little Timmy's piggy bank have gone swirling down the toilet, as anyone with half a brain knew they would. GM's going to end up in Chapter 11 anyway, if not Chapter 7. Chapter 11, just to remind you, is restructuring supervised by a bankruptcy court; Chapter 7 is liquidation. An orderly entry into Chapter 11 proceedings at the right moment might have saved GM. Now I'd say that the prospect of Chapter 11 leading, after a dismal couple of years of hopeless struggle, to Chapter 7, is about ten times bigger than it need have been. Meanwhile, our glamorous young President has found the solution to Chrysler's woes: he will rewrite the bankruptcy laws! Not Congress, you understand, but he himself, the Chief Executive. Perhaps he could call in Judge Sotomayor to help him. Then we could hold a big bonfire in the Mall, watch all our nation's founding documents go up in smoke.
17 — Swine flu came and went. You heard anything about swine flu this week? That sort of came and went, didn't it — like those internet fads I've given up trying to keep up with: MySpace, Facebook, Hulu, Twitter. Oh well, at least we won't have to agonize any more about all the delicate sensibilities being offended. It was bad enough that the thing started in Mexico, which is, you know, full of wonderful smiling people who talk with cute accents and work so much harder than us fat, lazy Americans. Then some religious group — Muslims, Copts, Scientologists, who knows? I can't keep track — objected to the word "swine" because … oh, I forget why. Our government changed the name of the thing to "H1N1," and Radio Derb was all ready to go with that, which we had decided, at our weekly corporate meeting, we would pronounce "heinie." That would have been good for a few chuckles. Now the darn thing has gone away, and it looks like flu deaths this year will be no more than the usual thirty or forty thousand. [Clip of Carson Roberson] That's right, Carson, you just can't depend on nothin'.
18 — Obama's budget. What's our charismatic President doing when not wielding his legal expertise on behalf of holders of junior debt? What do you think he's doing? He's a left-liberal: he's spending money. His new budget breaks all previous records — 3.4 trillion dollars, most of which will have to be borrowed from people who, of course, will be only too willing to lend it to us, seeing that our fiscal affairs are managed with such consummate skill, and our productive enterprises are in such glowing health. What's Obama going to spend all that money on? Oh, lots of good things! There's 1.5 billion for a new civilian aid program to Pakistan, for example. You know Pakistan: that's the country where Osama bin Laden's been living for the past seven years, and the security services would love to help us find him, but, gee willikers, they just simply can't figure out where he might be. The so-called government of this junkyard of a country has an Islamic insurgency on its hands. It also has a huge military establishment armed with nuclear weapons, but unfortunately they're facing the wrong way, towards India, so they're not much help. That's where your money's going, folks: 1.5 billion to civilian aid for Trashcanistan. Or, to put it more honestly, 1.5 billion borrowed dollars to be sluiced through to the Swiss bank accounts of Trashcanistan's corrupt elites. There's lots of other stuff in that 3.4 trillion budget, but it's all pretty much the same quality. But hey, money solves problems, don't you know? That's the core liberal belief. Got a problem? Throw a few billion dollars at it. Hasn't this worked so well for us in the past? Course it has.
19 — Cinco de Cuatro. As members of the elite overclass, the Obamas naturally need to know some Spanish so they can give orders to the servants. An occasional Spanish phrase dropped into a speech is also useful on the campaign trail, as a marker of one's multicultural sensibilities. Not that it matters for the Hispanic vote, which is mostly Democrat anyway, but it gets you some credibility with the Stuff White People Like crowd who've ridden in on their mountain bikes after a lunch of muesli and mung beans, just to hear you speak. You don't actually need much Spanish for these purposes, though. If the gardener doesn't understand what you say, a smack upside the head Basil Fawlty style will usually set him straight. Just how little Spanish an overclass type can get away with was illustrated at the White House Cinco de Mayo party last Monday. Cinco de Mayo, I'm sure I don't need to tell Radio Derb's multiculturally-aware listeners, is a Mexican festival, celebrating something or other that happened on the Fifth of May in Mexican history — nothing to to with the invention of mayonnaise, I'm pretty sure. With the laser-like attention to detail for which Radio Derb listeners are also known, you probably noticed that Monday was actually the Fourth, not the Fifth, of May. Barack Obama noticed that, too. Some wrinkle in White House scheduling forced them to have the party on the Fourth. So President Obama thought he'd greet the assembled Mexicans with a jocular reference to this anomaly, something like, "Welcome to our Fourth of May party!" Unfortunately he tried to do it in Spanish, and tumbled base over apex in the complexities of Spanish grammar. "Welcome to Cinco de Cuatro," was the President's greeting. "Cinco de Cuatro" means "five of four." Maybe it would sound better in Austrian. The assembled Mexicans just giggled. The same thought was going through all their minds, quote in a collective thought bubble, quote: "What a sucker. But hey, so long as we get amnesty and a Supreme Court justice, who gives a flying fajita if the guy can't speak Spanish?
20 — Signoff. Well, Radio Derb went a little over the top this week, I'm afraid. I hope the impact on national productivity was not too severe, but you know, the citizenry must be kept informed. Let's have a little more of Bach's No. 6 Partita to see us out — "John Sebastian in person," for all you Anthony Perkins fans. More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Bach's Partita No. 6]