»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Thursday, July 2, 2009

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]

01 — Intro.     Radio Derb here, ladies and gentlemen, and this is your unassuagably genial host John Derbyshire with the news of the hour this July Fourth weekend. I mentioned last week that we had received emails grumbling about our intro music, which is taken from Franz Josef Haydn's Derbyshire Marches. Ever eager to please, I called for suggestions to replace Haydn. The nation rose up in indignation at that, with emails running nine to one in favor of Haydn. After consulting with my producers and the suits from upstairs, I have decided to square the circle by keeping Haydn as our main theme music, but varying it from time to time with guest appearances from Beethoven, Richard Strauss, Fauré, John Philip Sousa, and the other replacements readers kindly suggested. The only suggestion that will definitely not be introducing Radio Derb is the song "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from the movie Monty Python's Life of Brian. That would be totally at odds with our mission statement here at Radio Derb, which is, to leave the listener in a state of unmitigated despair. Life may indeed have a bright side — I couldn't say — but don't be looking for it in these purlieus. Our theme at Radio Derb is one of inspissated gloom.

02 — Ricci decision.     This week the U.S. Supreme Court decided Ricci v. DeStefano, the case of the promotion test for firefighters in New Haven, Connecticut, that was thrown out by the city of New Haven because no black firefighters passed it. Now, you might think that Radio Derb would depart from the gloom track on this one, and celebrate a blow against discrimination — in this case, naked and open discrimination against white firefighters, since nobody this side of Alpha Centauri thinks that the test would have been thrown out if no white firefighters had passed. We decline to celebrate, though. Justice Ginsburg's remark in her dissent that, quote, "The Court's order and opinion, I anticipate, will not have staying power," is, we believe, correct. The tribalization of America is advancing too fast to be stopped now. A decision like Ricci, while good in itself, is merely a speed bump on our nation's road to ethnic disaggregation. The logic of "disparate impact" is that, since all human groups are perfectly equal in all capabilities, it should be possible to devise a written test of knowledge in which all groups deliver the same performance statistics — the same average scores, the same standard deviations. Unfortunately nobody has yet been able to come up with such a test, in forty years of trying. This rather strongly suggests that the "disparate impact" doctrine rests on a false premise. None of our Supreme Court justices has the guts to say this out loud, though — though Clarence Thomas came close — and liberals like Ginsburg will cheerfully tear up the Constitution before they admit it. In conversation with a friend, when we got to this point he said: "Perhaps after another forty years the liberals will have no choice but to admit it." I replied that after another forty years our tribalization will likely have advanced to the point where each race has its own Supreme Court, so the issue will be moot.

If you look closely at the Ricci case, you see the politics of ethnic spoils. Being a firefighter is certainly dangerous and demanding work. It's well compensated in most of the nation's cities, though. Like cops and corrections officers, firefighters have pretty good packages, allowing them to retire early on generous pensions. Ethnic lobby groups look at that enviously and say: "Hey, we want our piece of that. Where's our piece?" That is practically the slogan of a spoils system: "Where's our piece?" It's how spoils systems operated in the corrupt big-city machines of the 19th century. "Where's our piece?" It's the question being asked in the Ricci case by the Reverend Boise Kimber, one of those "community leaders" — that title "Reverend" gives you the clue — whose life's work is to advance his own people against any and all interests of the citizenry at large — in this particular case, the interest in having competent firefighters to pull us out of burning buildings. Reverend Kimber was actually on New Haven's board of fire commissioners until he resigned after being heard saying that he wouldn't hire certain recruits because, quote, "they just have too many vowels in their name."

How do you crush this kind of spoils-system politics? By instituting rigorous and impartial procedures for hiring and promotion, including written examinations. Those are the two choices you have, there are no others: either a spoils system built around bullying, intimidation, and the question  "Where's our piece?"  or  a rigorous civil service selection system involving written exams. That's the choice. Take your pick. The liberal justices showed very plainly that they prefer the spoils system. The prevailing justices seem to prefer rigorous selection procedures, but didn't have the guts to do what needs to be done to reinstate such a system. The liberals have therefore won by default, even while losing this one judgment. I say again: Justice Ginsburg is surely correct when she writes:  "The Court's order and opinion … will not have staying power." The future of America is a tribal spoils system. It's what the liberals want, and they own the commanding heights of American society, so it's what we shall get.

03 — Stimulus.     Having just spent three days being lectured at by professors of economics, I am naturally attracted to economic news items. Here's one from Bloomberg. Headline: "Payrolls Fall More Than Forecast, Unemployment Rises." Main point: Nearly half a million jobs lost last month, more than anyone expected. With the unemployment rate still rising and wages stagnating, there's no sign that the Obama administration's stimulus package is having the desired effect. As those egghead economists at the seminar told us, though, this is a glass half empty, glass half full scenario, as practically everything is in the dismal science, with pro-stimulus economists arguing that things would be way worse without the stimulus, and anti-stimulus economists jumping up and down and saying: "See? We told you it wouldn't work." There are, by the way, Nobel prize winners on both sides of that argument. Reflecting on this, I'm ashamed to have used the phrase "dismal science." If economics is a science, then so are the offerings of Madame Blotsky, my local psychic. Whatever kind of mess we have gotten ourselves into, I'm not looking to economists to get us out of it. I did learn this much at the seminar, though: What's going on here is nothing like as bad as what happened from 1929 to 1933. Nine point five percent unemployment? Try twenty-five percent. Fifty-six bank failures? Try nine thousand. Industrial production down fifteen percent? Try fifty-two percent. [Background clip: "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life"] Oh, wait a minute — I think I can hear that Monty Python song playing in the distance. I'd better stop here for fear of violating Radio Derb guidelines.

04 — Al Franken to the Senate.     Democracy throws up some strange results, and "throws up" seems like precisely the right way to describe the election, ratified this week after months of wrangling, of TV comedian Al Franken to the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. Not that the skill sets are all that different, Senator and comic. Juvenal wondered how Democritus, the laughing philosopher, would have been able to hold back his mirth if confronted with the bogus gravitas of Roman power, "the Praetor uplifted in his lofty car," etc. I don't know about that, but if Democritus could have seen the U.S. Senate, with Harry Reid holding on to the podium to keep even himself awake, and Robert Byrd drooling quietly off in a corner somewhere, when Al Franken rides in in his clown car to pour a bucket of water over a squealing Barbara Boxer, I don't see how he could have survived. Anyway, here's Al, ready to, quote, "hold down health costs by making sure people have access to nutritious food, places to exercise and havens from violence," end quote. I have a pretty nice haven from violence out here in the 'burbs, Al, and a safe full of guns to defend it if I need to. What I'm looking for is a haven from liberal politicians trying to live my life for me, after first taking my money and giving it to their pals in the spoils system. Mind you, Al, I'm always up for a bit of humor. If your next book is titled "Arlen Specter is a Duplicitous Toad," I'll buy a copy.

05 — Sinkholes.     News from the backward, hopeless, sinkholes of the world: Local security in Iraq is being given to the Iraqis, so they can find themselves a new dictator — someone who puts so much fear into the various ethnicities of the place, they won't dare start up a civil war. We could probably have done this ourselves six years ago, but for reasons I don't understand, felt we had to go through the motions of elections, parliaments, and so on. With any luck we'll be out of the stinking place in a year or so, and the Iraqis can return to their traditional folkways. [Gunfire sounds alternating with cash register sounds.] In Afghanistan, where we're fighting that terrifically important war to ensure … I mean, with the aim of … you know, so that [crickets chirping], a U.S. soldier has been captured by whoever it is we are fighting there. After eight years with nothing to show, the war in Afghanistan is on track to go for another eight years, after which we shall get fed up and go home, leaving the Afghans to recommence killing, cooking, and eating each other in their time-honored fashion. In Iran, Li'l Squinty has canceled a scheduled trip to Africa, perhaps mindful of the fate of African leader Kwame Nkrumah, who back in 1966 left his country on a trip to China, only to find when he arrived in Peking that he was no longer leader of anything. What else? Oh yes, something happened in Honduras. If anyone has a quarter, I'll call somebody who cares.

06 — Mexico's troubles.     Here's news from a nation that is important to the U.S.A., though you'd never know it from the press coverage. That would be Mexico, population 110 million — which is not far short of Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran combined — and with a two thousand mile border with the U.S.A. What's the news? All bad. The Mexican economy is set to shrink six percent this year, remittances from Mexicans working in the U.S.A. are down twenty percent because of our recession, tourist revenues are down sixty percent because of swine flu, and the Mexican oil reserves show every sign of having peaked, with declining production to go with stagnant prices. The only bright spot in the Mexican economy is the drug business, which is flourishing, along with its feeder industries — murder for hire, arms smuggling, corruption of police and border officials, and so on. Things really aren't going well down there south of the border. Still, the great project of importing Mexican civilization into the United States must go on. Tucson Medical Center, a major hospital down there in Arizona, is advertising — I say again, they are advertising — a package for wealthy Mexican women to come into the U.S. as "obstetric tourists," to have their baby here, thereby giving the baby automatic U.S. citizenship under the current, lunatic interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Tucson's maternity package costs $2,300 for a vaginal birth with a two-day stay and $4,600 for a Caesarean section and a four-day stay, assuming no complications. That includes exams for the newborn and a massage for the new mother. There is a $500 surcharge per additional child, in case you deliver twins. U.S. citizenship for sale, courtesy of the world's gretest health-care system.

07 — Signoff.     Folks, it's a truncated Radio Derb this week, on account of us having squinched in the recording of it between my economics seminar and the long holiday weekend. My tireless research assistants Candy, Mandy, Brandy, and Pepe, did their best with the week's news, but they are so exhausted by their efforts I told them to take the rest of the day off, go keep Jonah company in the grotto. I'll be up there with them very shortly, relaxing with a bottle of Chateau Lafitte, a bowl of truffles, liberal supplies of baby oil, and some patriotic music. This great republic has struggled through another year and may yet make it through the decade. Fingers crossed, anyway. Happy July Fourth, everybody. OK Pepe, I'll be right there.

[Music clip: From U.S.A.F. band, Stars & Stripes Forever]