»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, May 28, 2010

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]

01 — Intro.     That was one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches and this is your pontifically genial host John Derbyshire with a weekly update from Radio Derb. I am struggling hard to remain a proud citizen of the only prosperous, successful nation in history whose lawmakers gave a standing ovation to insults from the leader of a poverty-stricken failed nation with irredentist claims on our territory. Fleet Week has helped some. The streets of New York City are much improved this week by servicefolk in smart dress uniforms. Seeing them, the hope stirs in my breast that the Republic might somehow survive its current spell of masochistic insanity. "If hopes are dupes," said the poet, "fears may be liars." But enough of this vapid optimism; let's get on to the depressing news.

02 — Gulf blowout.     One of the great heroes of the later 20th century was Red Adair, the Texas firefighter who made himself the world's leading fixer of oilfield fires and blowouts. John Wayne played him in a movie, I recall. Red sold his business in 1994 and died ten years later, but we sure could use him today, with this huge blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. It looks as though 30 million gallons of oil may have spilled so far. That's a long way from the record — 140 million gallons, also in the Gulf, back in 1979 — but it's bad enough. Can the engineers plug the leak? I bet they can, though as Radio Derb goes to tape the thing is still gushing.

Political types have been doing their best to squeeze some advantage out of the spill. Kark Rove in the Wall Street Journal points out that this could be Obama's Katrina, and then some. George W. Bush was criticized for taking four days to show up in New Orleans; Obama took twelve days to show up on the Gulf coast. Furthermore, Rove points out, this oil spill happened in waters under federal jurisdiction, whereas federal responsibility under law in the Katrina case was only to supply assistance to the local governor and mayor. I'd be a bit more receptive to Rove's arguments if not that some of the worst decisions of the previous administration had his fingerprints all over them, but I suppose political folk must politicize.

Political whiffle-ball aside, I think we all know the underlyings here: One, as all the easy-to-get oil is used up and we get ever more desperate for the stuff, there'll be a lot more disasters like this. Two: No agency of the federal government could find its backside with both hands and a flashlight. Three: As bad as the federal apparatus is, it will get worse as the swelling debt crisis chokes off even those small, dwindling corners of the apparatus that are still capable of getting anything done. That will happen under any administration.

The most I'll concede to politics is, that it'll happen faster under liberals, obsessed as they are with putting ideological conformity and ethnic privilege above all considerations of expertise and competence. The cashiering of Jonathan Katz, the physicist dropped from the Gulf cleanup project for homophobia, tells you all you need to know about the future direction of federal government competence.

03 — Troops to the border.     Tuesday our president ordered the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops to the southern border. As soon as this was made public, the government of Mexico said "Jump!" to which our administration responded "How high?"

What actually happened was that Felipe Calderón, the president of Mexico, said he would be very angry indeed if these troops were used to interdict illegal immigrants crossing into our so-called country. The State Department hastily wheeled out a spokesman to assure our Mexican overlords that the troops won't be dealing with immigration issues at all, only helping stop the flow of guns and drugs across the border.

Well, thank goodness for the assurance. Using troops to stop people entering your country illegally would be like … it would be like … well, words fail me. What can I say? It would be like … Oh yes, it would be just like Nazi Germany! [Horst Wessel lied]

04 — Courageous restraint on North Korea.     Two weeks ago Radio Derb informed listeners about the Pentagon's new medal, to be issued for "courageous restraint," which basically means not firing back when you're fired upon. We offered the prediction that the award of this medal would be mostly posthumous.

Well, if foreigners are eligible, here's a nomination: I suggest we award the medal for courageous restraint to the nation of South Korea. After investigations by an international panel, it is now more certain than ever that the sinking of that South Korean ship back in March, with the loss of 46 sailors, was the work of a North Korean torpedo fired with lethal intent. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has promised to take, quote, "stern action" against the Norks, but to date he's been all courageous restraint.

Whether the Norks have been courageous in this incident I would not venture to say, but they certainly haven't shown restraint. Here is the Nork response to President Lee's promise of "stern action," in the official translation by the Nork news service, quote: "There is no need to show any mercy or patience for such confrontation maniacs, sycophants and traitors and wicked warmongers as the Lee Myung Bak group. The Lee group's call for 'resolute measures' is as foolish and ridiculous a suicidal act as jumping into fire with faggots on its back." End quote. Sounds a bit over the top to me; though I speak as one who has tried to rule out of his life completely any situation involving having faggots on my back.

What's going on here is the endgame phase of a succession struggle in North Korea, with Kim Jong Il maneuvering to continue his family's dynasty and his military chiefs either promoting a candidate of their own, or else putting out signals to Kim's designated successor that they are the real power in the land and he'd better keep the flow of goodies coming to them and their families. The sinking of the South Korean ship was just one side showing its toughness to the other. This could trigger another display of toughness back, and so on in a nasty cycle of brinkmanship.

An all-out war by the North against the South would end with the destruction of the North regime, though there is a difference of opinion among analysts as to whether all the big players in the North understand this. The South of course doesn't want war because of the economic consequences, and the damage to Seoul, whose municipal boundary is only 25 miles from the border. China doesn't want there to be a war either, because (a) they don't want a flood of Nork refugees into their northeastern provinces, which already have a big Korean minority, and (b) they like having anti-American buffer states on their borders. America doesn't want a war because the law-school lefties who make up our administration think military stuff is kind of icky and would prefer to cultivate "courageous restraint."

So unless the Nork leadership is crazier than most analysts think, there will not likely be a war. We can just sit back and watch the Pyongyang succession chess game play out. I must say, I find it quite compelling. However crazy the Norks are, it's high-IQ craziness; and that makes a refreshing change from both the dumb craziness of someone like Gaddafi and the high-IQ "courageous restraint" of we pampered wussies in the West.

05 — Slow motion Perónism.     [Shirley Bassey: "The Party's Over"] Here's a quote from the London Daily Telegraph. The speaker here is Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, quote: "Dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough, but at least there were public-sector balance sheets on to which the problems could be moved. Once you move into sovereign debt, there is no answer; there's no backstop." End quote.

The other problem with an insolvent nation as against an insolvent bank is that it's much harder to organize a bailout. The Europeans are finding out that it's even harder when default nations and bailout nations are united in a single currency zone; and it's a degree even harder than that when the nations sharing a single currency do not have a single government to manage their affairs; and it's, what? what am I up to? Triply? Quadruply? hard when half the nations in the zone have a stern ethic of working, saving, and following rules, while the other half prefer partying and avoiding taxes — Rosie the Riveter yoked in harness with Lindsay Lohan.

Meanwhile, over on this side of the pond, the president's Council of Economic Advisers is talking cheerfully about, quote, "injecting more oxygen into the nascent economic recovery." Translation: More stimulus money from the big brass-bound chests of gold coins kept in the White House basement. Let's just pause to admire the foresight of the Founding Fathers in placing those chests there, so that the federal government could help us out with money in a crisis.

Other government ideas: Extend unemployment benefits even further, so that people who aren't working can go on not working. Meanwhile, ramp up regulation to further discourage enterprise. To be fair, I should say "ramp up regulation even further and faster than George W. Bush did": Washington University's Weidenbaum Center has just issued a report showing a 75 percent increase in regulatory spending across the past decade, most of it under Bush of course. Oh yes, and stick businesses with even higher healthcare costs to make taking on new employees really unattractive.

Economist Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post calls it "the death spiral of the welfare state." That would include our entitlement state here in the U.S.: the difference is just one of words.

Sixty years ago there was a man in Argentina named Juan Perón, who made himself terrifically popular by promising everything to everyone: low taxes for businessmen, high wages for workers, political plums for the military, price supports for farmers, government jobs for intellectuals, state-subsidized health care for everyone … the whole nine yards. It worked! — for about five years. Then the bills came due, and Argentina's been bumping along the bottom ever since, the economic wreckage occasionally stirred by a coup or revolution.

The West has done exactly the same thing in slow motion. Our bumping along the bottom phase is about to begin. Let's hope it doesn't last too much longer than Argentina's — 55 years and counting. [More Shirley]

06 — Dunkirk anniversary.     The British are very peculiar people. One of the more peculiar of their peculiarities is the way they hold nostalgic commemorations not of their victories, but of their defeats.

Take World War One: any Brit can tell you about the retreat from Mons, the massacres on the Somme, or the fiasco at Gallipoli, but try getting him to name the great battles that broke the German armies in 1918. He can't.

Well, this week the Brits are celebrating the evacuation from Dunkirk 70 years ago. Over 300,000 men were rescued from the beaches of northern France between May 27 and June 4, 1940. Just about every boat of every size in southern Britain was drafted in for the purpose.

Here's a Dunkirk story my aunt told me. My uncle ran a haberdasher store in my home town, right near the railroad station. One day in May 1940, in the small hours of the morning, my aunt was woken by a strange sound in the street outside, "It was like the sound of the sea," as she explained it, though our town was far inland. "A sort of rhythmic swooshing sound." She listened for a while then got up to look out the window. She saw long lines of soldiers making their way up the street from the railway station in the direction of the town barracks. They were in good order, but had no boots. They'd left their boots behind in France, the better to wade out to the rescue craft. Somehow they'd been supplied with scraps of cloth to bind their feet. That was the sound my aunt had heard: a column of men shuffling along on cloth-bound feet. Seventy years ago.

07 — Law-hating lawmaker rear-ended by scofflaw.     New Yorkers cherish the memory of the late Judge Bruce Wright, who presided over criminal courts in the city thirty years ago. The judge was known to one and all as "Turn 'Em Loose Bruce" for his lenience towards the criminals who came up before him, releasing or setting very low bail even for violent offenders. One day Judge Wright got mugged in the street near his home. He was off work for a few days. It was a big story in the tabloid newspapers, and a lot of people were making jokes about it. When Judge Wright returned to the bench, he made a point of starting off that day's session with an announcement: "As I'm sure you all know, I was the victim of a criminal assault the other day. I want to make it clear that this experience will in no way change my sentencing policies on this bench!" As he paused to let this sink in, someone called out from the back of the courtroom: "Mug him again!"

Now here is this generation's successor to Judge Wright: Massachusetts state representative Mike Moran. Rep. Moran has been an energetic supporter of open borders and illegal immigration. He has enthusiastically supported the policy of governor Deval Patrick to prohibit Massachusetts police from making any inquiries about a perp's immigration status. Massachusetts is a sanctuary state, the anti-Arizona, and Rep. Moran is just fine with that.

Well, there he was sitting in his car at a red light the other day when he was rear-ended at 60 mph. The vehicle that rear-ended him was driven by an illegal immigrant from Mexico, 27-year-old Isaias Naranjo. Mr. Naranjo was driving without a license and was seriously drunk — blood alcohol level 0.25, which is over three times the legal limit in Massachusetts and corresponds to "severe motor impairment" on the AMA chart. He was charged with DUI, leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a valid license. According to the police report, when told of these charges, Mr. Naranjo laughed and said that nothing would happen to him as he would just go back to, quote, "my country."

You might think that Rep. Moran, having been rear-ended at 60 mph by a guy who then threw all Moran's stupid pandering right back in his face, would see the light. That, however, would be to reckon without the insane fanaticism of the open-borders ideologues. Interviewed by Fox News later, Moran was asked whether the incident had changed his views on our immigration laws at all. Here's his response. I've edited it slightly for length, but you can watch the whole video at www.myfoxboston.com, search on the phrase "hit by illegal." This quote starts at 3m 11s into the main video, quote: "I have been and will continue to be pro-immigrant and in some cases even pro-illegal-immigrant. It would be politically expedient for me at this point in time to change that. That should give you some indication of my commitment to immigration and immigrants, to tell you that even after being hit by one I will continue to advocate for immigrants and their rights as citizens in this country."

Just pause to savor those last few words: "as citizens in this country." Rep. Moran is concerned about Mr. Naranjo's rights as a citizen in this country. He has also declared there, in his capacity as a maker of laws for the State of Massachusetts, that he is, quote, "pro-illegal immigrant." Here is a lawmaker advocating the violation of the people's laws.

Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens, observed Schiller, and he was not wrong: "Against stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain." Wait a minute: I hear a voice calling from the back of the room: Rear-end him again!

08 — Miscellany.     Without fanfare this week [Fanfare] — oh stop — our closing miscellany of brief items.

Item:  A lawmaker advocating the violation of the people's laws. That's almost as insane as if the federal Department of Justice were to file a legal challenge to a state law requiring officers of that state to assist in upholding federal law. Oh, wait — that happened this week too.

Item:  As if Greece didn't have enough problems with collapsing state finances, the country has been afflicted with a plague of frogs. Now that's ominous. Chapter 8 of the Book of Exodus, quote: "And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt." Well, if history repeats itself, next up are a plague of gnats, a swarm of flies, a sickening of the livestock, and a plague of boils. Not a happy time to be in Greece.

Item:  If you want anecdotal stuff about the economy, I have plenty. Bottom line: Everybody's broke. I was hanging out with a roomful of chaps in New York City the other evening, and they were all grumbling about how broke they are. These were smart, successful people, and they're broke. Even the rich ones are broke. One poor chap was moaning about how he'll have to sell one of his two houses. That's the U.S.A. in mid-2010: everyone's broke. Just anecdotal, of course.

Item:  If you're one of the dwindling number of Americans who's not broke, you may be looking to buy a house. Here's one, being marketed as the biggest house in America. It's got 30 bedrooms, 23 bathrooms, its own bowling alley, a roller skating rink, three swimming pools (though alas only one is Olympic sized), a 20-car garage, a baseball field, two tennis courts, and an 80-foot waterfall. A snip at 75 million dollars, in Windermere, near Orlando, Florida. Nice to see that even in these gloomy times, the American genius for over-the-top conspicuous consumption is still alive.

Item:  Somehow I've made it to this point in my life without ever having been spat on. I've suffered most other misfortunes. I've broken limbs, been knocked out, collapsed a lung, and damn near drowned. I've been lost, broke, hungry, fired, beaten up, arrested, jilted, robbed, and suckered. Somehow, though, I've never been spat on. Apparently it's a thing that happens a lot to New York City bus drivers. How do they react? By taking time off to recuperate. From being spat on. Fifty-one bus drivers under investigation by the Metropolitan Transit Authority took off an average 64 days after being spat on, thanks to a clause in their union contract. That's better than two months per expectoration. Driver José Martinez took six months off after a drunk hocked a loogie on him. "I could never have gone back to work without those six months of counseling," whimpered the still-traumatized José. All together now: Get a Government Job!

Item:  Finally, there's some story here about the tennis player Venus Williams. I'm going to have to hold it over to another broadcast, though, as my researchers haven't been able to get to the bottom of it.

09 — Signoff.     I hope nobody thinks I was making fun of Ms. Williams there. This is a quality operation here at Radio Derb; we don't go in for those kind of cracks. In any case, there are FCC rules we must comply with; we wouldn't derrière … dare violate them. No, Ms. Williams is a real star in her sport, a lady of dignity and accomplishment, and should absolutely not be made the butt of jokes. In any case, whatever it was she did, I'm sure my valiant researchers will find out the truth … in the end. Isn't that right, girls? ["Of course!"] Of course.

Here, in honor of Fleet Week, is the Navy Hymn, sung by the incomparable Peter Dawson.

[Music clip: "Eternal Father, strong to save …"]