»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, December 11, 2009

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]

01 — Intro.     Welcome listeners to our weekly broadcast of Radio Derb. This is your insouciantly genial host John Derbyshire with the news of the hour. I don't mind telling you it's been a stressful week here at Buckley Towers. There have been some tense multilateral negotiations between myself, our corporate counsel, my research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy, and representatives from a certain supermarket tabloid. I believe we have come to a satisfactory resolution of the matter, but it's going to be a penny-pinching Christmas chez Derb this year. That's the price of celebrity, I suppose. Meanwhile Ahmed, our latest diversity hire, has been called away on some urgent family business in Pakistan; and my factotum Pépé, who you may recall is of the transgendered persuasion, is pressing for the company health plan to cover some kind of elective surgical procedure he's set his mind on. We keep telling him to wait till the public option kicks in, but Pépé won't listen. You don't want to hear my problems, though. Let's see what's been going on in the world.

02 — Copenhagen climate summit.     This week's news has had a sort of Scandinavian theme. There was the climate summit at Copenhagen; then our president went to Oslo to collect his peace prize; and in the background were stories about a certain Swedish lady and her marital troubles. I haven't had any reports from Helsinki or Reykjavik yet, but something might come in before the end of the broadcast. Let's start with Copenhagen. [Clip of "Wonderful Copenhagen"] Yes, thank you, Danny. OK, what's going on at the climate change summit? Well, let's see. On Day One, the Danish hosts gave an opening show of their own national culture, young ladies dressed as mermaids reading Hans Christian Andersen stories while handing round sweet sticky pastries. Then the representative from Saudia Arabia got up and said the global warming stuff was all nonsense, and there is no reason we shouldn't all burn as much fossil fuel as we can afford to buy. Can't imagine why the Saudis would take that line. Then some U.N. honcho got up and said the Saudi guy was all wet, and the West had better pony up a few trillion dollars or else we shall all die in an inferno of blistering heat. Day Two was dominated by something called the Danish Text, put together by the hosts as a suggested resolution, but not liked by the poorer countries. Far as they're concerned, the whole point of this conference is to squeeze more guilt money out of the West, and apparently the Danish text doesn't give Third World leaders enough cash to keep their palaces air-conditioned and their presidential Gulfstreams flying. On Day Three the rift yawned wider, with the LDC and AOSIS nations uniting against the Danish Text. That's the Less Developed Countries and the Association of Small Island States, the LDCs and the AOSIS. I tell you, you're lost in this climate change business if you don't know your acronyms. The difference between AWG-LCA and AWG-KP is critical, as of course are those between SBI and SBSTA, CAFOD and BASIC, GISTEMO and REDD. Acronym-wise, the climate change folk are worse than the military. On to Day Four, when the evil rich Western countries got lectured on their wickedness by representatives from the nations of Grenada and Lesotho, wherever the hell they are. Bottom line here, listeners: Climate change is just another shake-down of people who create wealth by people who don't. In short, a community organizer's dream. President Obama will feel right at home when he addresses the summit next week.

03 — Obama accepts Nobel Peace Prize.     Now let's go up the Kattegat and down the Skagerrak to Oslo, where President Obama showed up on Thursday to accept the Nobel Peace Prize for all that peace he has generated this past eleven months. The president gave a speech, of course, though a short one by his standards: a mere 4,200 words — just clearing his throat, really. What did he say? Well, first he expressed his feelings of unworthiness — feelings which, if he sincerely felt them, should have led him to reject the prize. Then he gave us a history of war. He cited Martin Luther King a lot and gave Albert Schweizer a mention, along with other Peace Prize laureates like Aung San Suu Kyi — though not, unaccountably, Yasser Arafat, Henry Kissinger, or the Dalai Lama. He did praise Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan — wow! — and gave a defense of necessary war that must have had his former friends and associates on the radical Left screaming and tearing their hair, those of them who didn't get all their hair burned off in bomb-making accidents. To soften the effect, he poured on a lot of treacly stuff about "expanding our moral imagination." He rejected the choice between realism and idealism, as George W. Bush did. Perhaps this is now a compulsory component of speeches by presidents of any party, just another meaningless bit of presidential diction, like references to the Pilgrim Fathers, or saying "suasion" when you mean "persuasion," or forming the future tense with "shall" instead of "will." The idea is that we can promote our interests without sacrificing our values. No more grubby compromises with friendly dictators! No more of that deplorable stuff about "he may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch"! No more of cynicism! No more shadowy dealings! From now on there will be — oops, sorry, I mean of course "there shall be" — no such unsavory associations to sully the purity of our national soul! Interesting to notice, in that context, that the only actual. grubby dictatorships Obama identified by name were Burma, Zimbabwe, Somalia, North Korea, and Iran — four no-account sinkhole nations and one that's been our sworn enemy for thirty years. Not a word of criticism for China, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan. Oh, and the president said he wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons — you know, those nuclear weapons that have kept peace between major powers for 64 years now. The president then declined an invitation to visit Oslo's Peace Center. I don't blame him a bit on that one. I can't think of many things that would drive me to commit a suicide bombing, but a room full of preteen Scandinavians waving flowers and singing Kum-ba-ya might do it. However, the president also declined a lunch with the King of Norway, which ticked off the Norwegians. But hey, Obama's the most wonderful person in the world, so I guess he can do what he likes.

04 — Tiger Woods' troubles.     On now to Stockholm, from the global warming hockey stick to the golf clubs wielded so deftly by Elin Nordegren, wife of Tiger Woods. Ms. Nordegren is reported to have purchased herself an island hideaway near the Swedish capital, reachable only by ferry. There she sits, scarfing down meat balls, viewing old Ingmar Bergman movies, and taking tennis lessons from Bjorn Borg, while Tiger himself is hunkered down in his Florida mansion, watching his endorsements drain away. At the time of recording, the woodwork has yielded twelve rent-a-bimbos claiming to have played a few holes with Tiger. A bunch of phone texts and emails surfaced, but they proved about as interesting to read as reports from the Copenhagen climate summit — about as interesting, in fact, as the average person's private exchanges with his wife, mistress, girlfriend, or catamite. A person can be sensationally good at one particular thing, without being interesting in any other way. To be honest with you, listeners, I'm not feeling any human interest here. Tiger's a tremendous golfer, and all glory to him on that account. The world is not so full of excellence that we can afford to ignore any. Golfing aside, though, Tiger doesn't seem to be much of anything else — certainly not much of a husband. His wife must be mad as hell; but with the money she's got, she can be mad as hell in more comfort than most of us will ever know. The kids are too young to understand what's going on — the older one's only two. I say let the guy play golf. When someone's as good at anything as Tiger Woods is at knocking balls down fairways, let 'em get on with it.

05 — Al Gore's poem.     If Tiger Woods had a bit more depth to his soul, instead of texting stuff like "Quietly and secretively we will always be together … when was the last time you got laid?" he might have risen to something more lyrical. Something like this, perhaps:

One thin September soon
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun

Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
Neptune's bones dissolve

Yes, that was Al Gore, the conscience of humanity, on page 28 of his new book, Our Choice. Oh, you like it? You want more? No prob:

Passion seeks heroes and friends
The bell of the city
On the hill is rung

The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools

So far as I know, this is the former Vice President's first engagement with the poetry muses. Let us pray it will be the last. The old joke about courts martial is that "military justice is to justice, as military music is to music." Well, politicians' poetry is to poetry as politicians' promises are to promises. Jimmy Carter already proved this several times over; we don't need any more demonstrations, thanks all the same, Al.

06 — Second generation terrorists.     Here's a recurring feature of our times: young men from immigrant Muslim families, born and raised in the West, heading back to their ancestral countries to make jihad. Last week Radio Derb reported on the suicide bombing of a college graduation ceremony in Somalia, where 22 people were killed, including three cabinet ministers. Now it turns out that the bomber was from a Somali family in Denmark. He'd been taken to Denmark as a child, lived there for twenty years, then gone back to Somalia a year ago. His parents still live in Copenhagen. [Clip of "Wonderful Copenhagen"] Oh shut up already, will you? We've already reported on the young Somali men who keep disappearing from their homes around Minneapolis. Now here's yet another case, quote from the Associated Press, dateline Islamabad: "Pakistani police yesterday arrested five American men believed to have gone missing from the Washington, DC area last month … Three of the men are of Pakistani descent, one is of Egyptian descent, and the other is of Yemeni heritage." Turns out these five guys had made contact with some jihadis on the internet, then gone to Pakistan on spec, hoping for a chance to scatter their body parts over some marketplace or graduation ceremony to the glory of Allah. Alas for the hopes of frail humanity, they were disappointed. When they finally presented themselves to Al Qaeda for training, they were asked for references, just as you were when you went for the internship at Goldman Sachs. Seems fair enough to me. If you want a shot at those million-dollar bonuses, you'd better have a letter of recommendation from the local Rotary Club chairman in your bag. Why should it be different if you want to try for the 72 sloe-eyed virgins? The overall phenomenon here bears thinking about, though. First-generation immigrants glory in the opportunities for work, prosperity, and fair treatment under the law, things they never knew back home. To their children, "back home" is seen through a veil of nostalgia, dreams, and family reminiscences, while the country they are actually growing up in is, according to their schoolteachers and priests and Facebook buddies, the most wicked that ever existed, with countless historical crimes on its record. That adolescent passion for justice kicks in, and they're off to the jihad. The key to a successful immigration policy is a successful assimilation policy. When assimilation fails to work, for whatever reason, the results can be dire.

07 — The refugee rackets.     With that in mind, and our ten percent unemployment rate, our collapsed housing market, and our tottering banking system, and with citizens lining up in Home Depot parking lots with illegal immigrants for a shot at a day's work, what are our political masters doing to strengthen the nation and fortify the economy? Why, they are bringing in more settlers from the Third World. The official designation is "refugees," but it's an open secret that the refugee program is addled with fraud, and the refugee families being moved into federally-subsidized housing in your town are very often not refugees at all, but just folk who have gamed the system. And it's not even our system they've gamed. The refugees pouring into the U.S.A. are picked by the U.N., not by anyone representing us. And that word "poured" is no exaggeration: the U.S.A. takes in three times as many refugees as the rest of the industrial world combined — tens of thousands every year. The moving spirits here are so-called "refugee contractors," organizations that usually have the word "charity" in their names, but are in practice mainly taxpayer-funded. A leader is Catholic Charities, with a $3.6 billion budget, two-thirds of which comes from government sources — which means, of course, from your pocket and mine. The way it works is, the U.N. sends us a couple of thousand people from, say, Ethiopia. Once they're here, the refugee contractors take over, see to their housing and welfare — oh, did I mention that refugees have full access to welfare services from the day they arrive? — and then hand them off to community organizer groups. Before long their community is well and truly organized. Then the U.S.A. has a new ethnic lobby, demanding settlement visas for relatives and people pretending to be relatives, taking over neighborhoods, shrieking about "discrimination," and getting lawyered up for affirmative action slots in colleges and public jobs. And sometimes sending its young men back to the mother country to make mischief. All part of the gorgeous mosaic of modern American life. [Kumbaya clip]

08 — Doomed — education.     Here's another in our series of readings from the greatest Christmas present of all time, We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. The following is from Chapter 6, where the topic is education. I have just got through debunking the notion that you can improve schools by throwing money at them, with the great Kansas City fiasco as my prime example, where two billion dollars was spent over twelve years under the orders of federal judge Russell Clark, to no effect at all. Here we go.

this dismal story has mainly been flushed down the memory hole by education theorists. They would rather not have it mentioned. A decade after the whole thing collapsed in grisly and obvious failure, politicians and edbiz bureaucrats are still routinely calling for more money to be spent on schools as a way to improve student achievement.

Barack Obama, for example. On the 2008 campaign trail, the day before the Martin Luther King birthday holiday, Obama told a swooning congregation at King's old church that: "We must push our elected officials to supply the resources to fix our schools … We can't pass a law called No Child Left Behind and then leave the money behind."

Money is the answer! More money! That'll fix the schools! That'll close those pesky gaps!

Education theorists are great forgetters, and were even before Judge Clark came along. The first of the big modern government-sponsored papers on school reform, James Coleman's 1966 report titled "Equality of Educational Opportunity" (but almost always referred to as "the Coleman Report") surveyed 645,000 students in over three thousand schools nationwide. Coleman found almost no relationship between school quality — spending, newness of facilities, teacher credentials — and student achievement.

If you rank schools from worst to best by these measures of quality, then work your way up the ranking from low to high, logging student achievement as you go, once you get above a tiny proportion of really, really bad schools, nothing much changes. A truly excellent school with terrific facilities does somewhat better by its students than a mediocre school, but the difference is not great. What makes the difference is family background.

All this was discovered, at considerable effort and expense, in 1966. Apparently nobody told Judge Clark. Who knows? — perhaps some future government will commission some new study to find out how student achievement relates to school quality. Then, a decade later, perhaps some new federal judge will order some new spend-a-thon, beggaring the taxpayers of his state to no effect at all. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It is not quite true that there is nothing new under the sun, but there is nothing new in education theory, ever: just the same truths, revealed again and again, then pushed down the same memory hole by the same lying careerists, the same wishful-thinking fantasists, and the same parrot-brained politicians.

09 — Miscellany.     Here's our miscellany of short items to close out the show.

Item:  New Delhi, the capital of India, will host the Commonwealth Games next October. To help spruce the place up, the city fathers have begun a campaign against antisocial behavior. Large billboards are going up featuring three characters intended to shame New Delhians into behaving themselves. The three characters are: Mr. Thu-Thu Kumar (the spitter), Mr. Kuda Kumar (the litterbug) and Mr. Su-Su Kumar (the person who urinates in public). No mention of Mr. Yak Yak Kumar, who talks incessantly into his cell phone in public. That's the guy I'd be targeting.

Item:  Democratic Congressman Joe Baca of California's 43rd district in San Bernadino, has announced that he's giving up on his effort to award Tiger Woods a Congressional Gold Medal. The award would have been for promoting good sportsmanship and breaking down barriers. A dispassionate observer might say that for all his extramarital misdemeanors, Tiger deserves the medal at least as much as Barack Obama deserves his Nobel Peace Prize. Here's one guy that would disagree with that: Representative Ron Paul. Back in May, the House voted 422-1 to award the Gold Medal to Arnold Palmer, and Dr. Paul was the one. He thinks it's unconstitutional to use taxpayer monies in this way, and I bet he's right. As if anyone in Congress but Ron cared about the Constitution any more.

Item:  The president's health-care bill looks like it will get through the Senate before Christmas. The noble Senators are just waiting for the latest sheet of cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. If they can spin the numbers as deficit-neutral — and you bet they can, having had decades of practice — we'll get Senate approval, then we get the act of conception, when the Senate egg meets the House sperm, and a vast new entitlements program comes into being. That's how nature takes its course, when a bunch of politicians with fantasies of themselves as the new FDR, have their way with the American public … You know, sometimes you get started with a metaphor, then wish you hadn't. I'm going to bail out of this one.

Item:  Just a further note on the matter of the second generation from immigrant parents. The Washington Post on December 7 ran an interesting article about second-generation Hispanic immigrants. Quote: "Largely because of the growth of this second generation, Latino immigrants and their U.S.-born children and grandchildren will represent almost a third of the nation's working-age adults by mid-century, according to projections from U.S. Census Bureau data … And so far, on nearly every measure, the news is troubling. Second-generation Latinos have the highest high school dropout rate — one in seven — of any U.S.-born racial or ethnic group and the highest teen pregnancy rate. These Latinos also receive far fewer college degrees and make significantly less money than non-Hispanic whites and other second-generation immigrants." End quote. Surprising stuff to read in a broadsheet newspaper. They even include a quote from our own Mark Krikorian. Not to worry, though; these problems will all disappear as soon as Congress passes "comprehensive immigration reform."

Item:  When the teacher unions say "jump," your well-adjusted Democrat politician responds: "how high?" Barack Obama is no exception, as was proved when he didn't lift a finger to stop Congress killing off the school voucher program in Washington D.C. The program gave an element of choice to poor parents who didn't want their kids attending sinkhole schools. Congress's killing of the voucher program was an embarrassment, none the less, and raised a lot of protests. Now the Congresscritters, with of course the edbiz lobbies pulling their strings, have struck a compromise. Students currently enrolled in the system will be allowed to stay in, but no new students will be enrolled. Instead of killing the voucher program with an axe, in other words, they are just going to starve it to death. Less honest, but much quieter.

Item:  Finally, from the wonderful world of technology, Virgin Atlantic has unveiled what they're calling the first commercial spacecraft. SpaceShipTwo won't actually get you into orbit, just throw you out of the atmosphere for a couple of hours, with about five minutes of weightlessness at the peak of your trajectory around 65 miles up. For this, apparently, a lot of people are willing to pay $200,000. Well, it's a start. An a sworn enemy of NASA and a champion of private enterprise space travel, I'm heartened. Let's keep things in perspective, though. The first of these suborbital flights will put private-enterprise space travel where the government-funded variety was in 1961, when Alan Shepard rode the first of the Mercury Program flights. That's nearly a half-century lag. I'm hoping the entrepreneurs will close the gap some, but make no mistake, market-based space travel will be a long-time a-coming.

10 — Signoff.     You can be sure that when it does come, though, Radio Derb will be here to report it. Like the mighty cathedrals of old Europe, our work here at Buckley Towers is for the ages, in seculae seculorum, nothing transient or ephemeral here. In fact we have begun plans to train up a new generation of Radio Derb presenters and researchers. We shall be accepting applications for internships from promising youngsters just as soon as our attorneys have finished drawing up the confidentiality agreements … which they tell me, in view of our recent problems, may take some time …

[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]