»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, April 9, 2010

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]

01 — Intro.     Greetings once again, ladies and gentlemen, from Radio Derb, your one-stop source for all the news of the hour. This is your dispassionately genial host, John Derbyshire, and before we get to the other news items, I just want to set listeners' minds at rest. Following the ructions in Kyrgyzstan this week, Radio Derb has been inundated with letters and emails from listeners expressing anxiety about our friend Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, charismatic president of nearby Turkmenistan. My young research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy have been working late into the night trying to respond to you all; and I have sacrificed many precious hours of family time to stay here with the girls in the office after hours, urging on their efforts with many hearty words of encouragement and appreciation, and an occasional friendly poke to keep them awake. Well, I am glad to be able to report that as we go to tape President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is still securely in power in Ashgabat. Some minor disturbances in Urgench and Tunb, instigated by malcontents and trouble-makers, were easily suppressed by forces loyal to Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, and all is now calm. In related news, the International Scrabble Foundation has announced a change of rules in the noble game of Scrabble: you may now use proper names. So Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is now a legitimate move in Scrabble. It has of course been a legitimate move inside Turkmenistan for many years — in fact, a compulsory one … but you may now employ it outside the republic, too. All hail Turkmenistan! All hail the wise and beneficent Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov! Could we have a few bars of the Turkmen national anthem, please Ahmed? Come on, join in, you all know the words: "Turkmenbashin guran beyik binashy / Berkarar döwletim …" [Turkmen national anthem]

02 — Presidential loquacity.     President Obama visited a factory in Charlotte, North Carolina. At a meeting with local people there, he took the following question, quote: "In the economic times that we have now, is it a wise decision to add more taxes to us with the health care plan? — because we are over-taxed as it is." The president's answer went on for 17 minutes and 14 seconds. It ranged over health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, capital gains tax, the Iraq war, home repairs, history, theology, ontology, psychology, the Peloponnesian War, and the Heat Death of the Universe. Before he was through, people were hurling themselves out of the hall through high windows. Now, as a long-time admirer of the great Calvin Coolidge, I know something about Presidential brevity, so perhaps the president won't think it too impertinent of me to offer some pointers. There was an occasion when Coolidge had agreed to be present at a ceremonial tree planting. After the emcee had introduced him, Cal stepped forward, took the ceremonial shovel, and turned the ceremonial first clod of earth. There was an uncomfortable silence. The emcee prompted him: "Mr. President, perhaps you'd like to say a few words …?" Cal looked down at the clod of earth he'd turned up, pondered for a moment, then said: "That's a mighty fine fishworm." Learn from a master, Barack.

03 — Losing your health insurance.     If you just look a the U.S. health-care system from the outside, the nuttiest thing about it is the business of people getting health-care through their jobs. What's having a job got to do with health-care? The relationship is actually an inverse one: the sicker you are, the more in need of health-care you are, the less able you are to do any useful work. And when you change jobs, you have to uncouple yourself from one health-care plan and sign up for a different one, like quitting one job and starting another isn't stressful enough. Health-care involves three parties: the consumer, the provider, and the insurer. How did the consumer's employer get mixed up in it all? Well, it started in WW2 as a way for employers to give incentives to employees, when they weren't allowed to raise wages. WW2 ended 65 years ago, but nobody told the federal bureaucrats yet. Among those who seem to understand how supernaturally daft it is to have employers as middle-men between health-care consumers and the actual middle-men (i.e. the health insurers), you can probably include the Obama administration. Here's a report in the Christian Science Monitor, headline Health care reform: What will it mean to employers and employees? Story, quote: "We've updated earlier estimates of how the various subsidies in the health reform law affect the insurance market for both employers and workers. And the results remain quite dramatic," end quote. They're not kidding. Once federal money starts flowing into these insurance exchanges, it will be to the advantage of both employers and workers to switch from employer group coverage to the exchanges. It's most of an advantage to low-paid workers: the point of diminishing returns is when an employee earns $84,000. The employer, however, will be looking at the deal as a whole, covering all his employees from the mail room to the board room. On a rational cost basis, employers will be dumping company health-care plans faster than a Chinese toymaker dumping shipping containers full of Tickle Me Elmo dolls on WalMart. Oh, but wait: Didn't the Dear Leader promise us time and again that anyone who wants to keep his present employer health-care plan would be able to? Yes he did … [bus sound] oh, here comes the bus.

04 — Kyrgyz coup.     Now that we know President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is safe and sound in his presidential palace, it's hard to summon up interest in the coup in nearby Kyrgyzstan. As a full-service news station, though, Radio Derb is obliged to just bring you up to date. Here is what has happened so far. A faction in the politics of Kyrgyzstan has for years been agitating to have the name of the country changed, arguing that having only one vowel in ten letters diminishes them in the eyes of other nations, and makes the thing so difficult to spell, there are perennial problems with international mail delivery. The government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has maintained that "y" is so a vowel, and has been promising to send cadres of cultural attaches out to all the nations of the world, to establish institutes where people can study how to spell "Kyrgyzstan." These promises have remained tragically unfulfilled though. This week frustration boiled over, and President Kurmanbek Bakiyev had to flee the capital, Bishkek, for the loyalist stronghold of Kishbek. Rebel forces responded to this by capturing the town of Osh and publicly executing the mayor, whose name was Pish. Loyalist general Kush then marched on the strategically important city of Besh, laying waste to the provinces of Nish and Tush as his army advanced. The conflict is by no means one in which the United States can stand by as a disinterested neutral observer. By way of supporting the vitally important war in Afghanistan, the war in which we have been fighting for nine years in defense of vital national interests like [crickets chirping] and [more crickets], we have an air force base at Doosh. The administration is on the case, though, never fear. C-130 transport planes are being loaded up ready to fly out to Kyrgystan with massive supplies of the one cargo guaranteed to restore order in Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Trashcanistan, Iraq, or any other troublesome Middle Eastern or Central Asian sandpit — the one cargo of which the U.S.A. possesses a blessedly infinite supply, more than sufficient to quell the disorders of Osh, Besh, Nish, Tush, and Doosh. That is, of course, Cash. Thank goodness we'll never run out of that!

05 — Tiger, Tiger.     "Higamus, hogamus, woman is monogamous / Hogamus, higamus, man is polygamous." So said William James. Another great and wise man, with an office not a million miles from Buckley Towers, here in the heart of Manhattan, name an anagram of "John Shirederby," put it somewhat differently, quote: "Women are bourgeois, men are bohemian." Well, the latest incarnation of these melancholy truths is the golf star Tiger Woods. Just before proceeding here, I want to assure you that what follows contains absolutely no sophomoric puns about score cards, playing holes, ball markers, bump and run, stroke play, poor lies, and the rest. None whatsoever. We don't stoop to that kind of thing here at Radio Derb. So here was Tiger with a firm grip on his wood out there at the Masters, with legions of fans cheering him on. Personally I couldn't care less about golf, but I am hopeful that we shall now be spared any more of those squirm-inducing interviews where Tiger tells us how terribly, terribly sorry and ashamed he is for having had so much fun with hookers and how sick, twisted, and wayward he was for doing what some large proportion of 35-year-old males in top physical condition with unlimited amounts of money to spend, naturally do. After watching a couple of those, I must say, I'm certainly willing to take it on faith that Tiger Woods is a very great golfer indeed; but I hope he never thinks of taking up a career in acting. We all have our particular gifts, Tiger. In fact … [ethereal voice: "John"] … What was that? It sounded like a voice from the spirit world. A familiar voice … ["John"] … Dad? Is that you, Dad? ["I wanna find out what your feelings are"] Never mind that, Dad — is there something you want to tell me? … Dad? ["Yes, son."] Dad, do you have something to tell me, something from the other world? ["Yes, son."] Tell me, Dad! Tell me! You're getting fainter. Please, Dad, what is it you want to tell me? ["Just this, son. GET A GOVERNMENT JOB!"]

06 — Nuke treaty.     You can never have too many nukes. If a thousand nukes is good, two thousand is twice as good. Two thousand warheads is about what the U.S.A. currently has, and it's not enough. (I'd better note in parentheses here that that's the number of warheads; the number of bombs is greater, as a single warhead can carry several bombs.) Well, it's two thousand too many warheads for love-the-world, trust-the-world, open-your-borders-to-the-world, give-the-world-everything-it-wants-and-then-apologize-that-it-isn't-enough Lefty kumbaya chanters like those we elected into federal office in 2008. In Prague last year, Barack Obama promised to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons, a declaration that helped get him the Nobel Peace Prize. Last week the administration put out its Nuclear Posture Review, telling the whole world the circumstances under which we will use nuclear weapons, so long as we still have them. This misses the point that the whole purpose of nuclear weapons is to make one's enemies nervous, not knowing whether you'd use them or not. Will we go nuclear if China invades Taiwan? Will we go nuclear if Iran attacks Israel? Will we go nuclear if Russia marches back into Estonia? How about if some terrorist lets off a nuke in Seattle and we trace it to North Korea? When, where, and how will we go nuclear? Let 'em guess. The wise policy here is the one followed rigorously by Israel, which not only won't tell anyone their nuclear strategy, they won't even admit to having nukes, though everyone knows they have a couple of hundred stashed away. The image of a nuclear-free world flickers and shimmers on the horizon like a mirage, though, luring idiot Lefties like Barack Obama ever onward into self-deceiving folly. I was just seven weeks old when the first atom bomb went off. I'm still here, and the terrible city-flattening wars of the twentieth century between civilized nations, with millions of dead, have never been repeated. Nuclear weapons keep the peace. I'm deeply grateful for them. Getting rid of nuclear weapons means going back to Waterloo and Gettysburg, Verdun and Stalingrad. I don't want to go back there. Nukes keep the peace. Let's keep the nukes. If any country in the world has ten of them, let's have a hundred. If any country has a hundred, let's have a thousand. If any country has a thousand, let's have ten thousand. And let's shut up about if and when and how we'll use them; let the world guess.

07 — Rand Paul.     Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul, is polling well for the upcoming Republican primary in Kentucky to see who gets to carry the GOP flag in the November contest for Jim Bunning's Senate seat. Rand Paul, the conservative candidate, is polling ahead of Trey Grayson, the candidate of Washington establishment Republicanism. They both have plenty of money in the bank, and with only six weeks to the primary, the Grayson people are starting to get nervous. They're running TV ads trying to portray Paul as a kook, and they've actually put up a website titled randpaulstrangeideas.com. Sample: Rand Paul thinks that Arabs are mad at us for having armies parked on their land. Er, isn't that exactly what Osama bin Laden said he was mad about? Sample: Rand Paul doesn't want federal laws on abortion and gay marriage, he thinks these things should be left to the states. If that's a strange idea, then the Tenth Amendment is a strange idea, quote: "Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," end quote. Sample: Rand Paul is on record as saying that, quote, "I believe our greatest national security threat is our lack of security at the border." This is certainly at odds with establishment Republicanism, which tells us that there is no-one coming across our border but good-hearted people trying to put food on their families, and that the greatest threat to our national security is posed by goatherds in the Hindu Kush. Which of those points of view is stranger, I'll leave you to discuss among yourselves. Sample: Rand Paul launched a vicious attack against establishment Republican par excellence Mitch McConnell, the other senator from Kentucky. Well, that doesn't sound very collegial. What did he say? Quote from randpaulstrangeideas.com, quote: "When I asked Rand Paul last weekend if the vote for Republican Leader in the Senate came down to Kentucky's Mitch McConnell or South Carolina conservative Jim DeMint, who would he support? He opted not to answer." That's it? He opted not to answer? That's the "attack"? Well, not quite. Further quote: "When I went back to Paul on Thursday to ask him again, he opted not to choose one or the other, again." Wow, that's some attack. Mitch McConnell must have staggered away from that attack bruised and bleeding. Politics sure ain't beanbag.

08 — Miscellany.     Finally, our closing miscellany of brief items, prefaced this week with a rebuttal. The rebuttal is to an impertinent listener who emailed in to tell me that I pronounce "miscellany" all wrong. I'm putting the acc-ent on the wrong sy-la-ble, this patrolman of the pronunciation police wants me to know. He wants me to say "misc-ell-an-y," which sounds to me like a character in some Tennessee Williams play. To this obnoxious pedant, and to any others who care to challenge the impeccable phonetics of Radio Derb, I say pshaw! and feugh! and fiddlesticks! OK, on with the misc-ell-any.

Item:  There's sorcery in the air. Authorities in Saudi Arabia have sentenced a man to death for witchcraft; and Father Gabriele Amorth, the Vatican's chief exorcist, said that the New York Times coverage of Pope Benedict's actions on pedophile priests, was, quote, "prompted by the Devil." That the New York Times is a limb of Satan, is no news to anyone here at Buckley Towers. From the 95th floor here we can look out across Manhattan to the Times building and see the Eye of Sauron flickering away there above Eighth Avenue. It's hard luck on the guy in Saudi Arabia, though, who was just doing a little fortune telling.

Item:  Viral video clip of the week was Congressman Hank Johnson questioning Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the United States Pacific fleet, at a House Armed Services Committee meeting. The congressman was concerned that a proposed influx of Marines and their families into Guam would cause the island to tip over and capsize. That's absurd, of course; it could only happen if the Marines all settled on one side of the island, when in fact they are being carefully distributed. There is, however, a very real possibility that the continental U.S.A. might tilt up and slide beneath the waves if we elect any more politicians as dumb as Hank Johnson to Congress.

Item:  The Apple iPad came on the market at last. It can't multitask, doesn't have a file system you can manage, doesn't have a DVD drive and isn't compatible with the Netflix viewer, doesn't have a keyboard, plays music no better than gadgets one-hundredth the size, and you can't program it. It does make a nice breakfast tray though.

Item:  Jaime Escalante died, the guy who got the smartest kids in a ghetto school to pass AP Calculus. Nowadays this would be considered a disgraceful thing to do, and Escalante would likely be drummed out of the teaching profession. Indeed, that was pretty much what happened to him. The educational establishment — teacher unions and administrators — is totally locked in to the idea that it is disgracefully elitist to assume that some kids are smarter than others, and that teachers should bend all their efforts to lifting up the slowest learners, leaving the so-called "smart" students to shift for themselves. Teacher unions haven't yet proposed killing off the smart students, but we're probably only a few years away from that. Every day we advance closer to Idiocracy. It's a blessing that when it finally arrives, Jaime Escalante won't be here to see it.

Item:  Justice John Paul Stevens, nominated to the Supreme Court by Gerry Ford in 1975, has announced his retirement at age 90. If you never heard of Justice Stevens, don't feel bad: the Washington Post reported that, quote, "in a poll taken last summer, only 1 percent of Americans could summon his name," end quote. Stevens was a lefty, but he was an old-style, FDR-era lefty, who loved his country and had some notions of liberty, civility, and compromise. We don't know yet who Obama will appoint to succeed him, but we can be sure it will be someone much, much worse — some snarling grim-faced product of the postmodern legal tradition, determined to use the court to sweep away the last vestiges of that evil, oppressive, patriarchal America that has been the source of all the evil in the world in modern times. Ward Churchill, perhaps. The newspapers are making light of this retirement, saying that a liberal will be replaced by a liberal. I fear what we'll actually get is an old patriotic liberal with some shreds of sense being replaced by a crazy America-hating liberal in a Ché Guevara T-shirt. We'll soon find out.

Item:  Just the briefest of the brief, to wind up with. Speaking of briefs, a man in the northeast of England has set a new world record by putting on 211 pairs of underpants. A Muslim lady in Australia was accidentally strangled to death by her own burka when it got caught in machinery at an amusement park. Researchers at Berkeley have developed a robot that can fold towels; and zoologists on the Philippine island of Luzon have discovered a species of lizard that has two penises. Quote on that last one from the zoologists: "One reason the new lizard has gone undetected is that it never leaves the forests of its native Sierra Madre mountains," end quote. Hm, too busy perhaps?

09 — Signoff.     There we are citizens. From the savannahs of Turkmenistan to the pleasant hills and meadows of the Bluegrass State; from the unlucky fortune-teller of Saudi Arabia to the quite exceptionally lucky and well-endowed lizards of Luzon. We span the world to bring you just the news you need to know. Tune in again next week for more truth, wisdom, and foresight from Radio Derb!

[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]