[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Afedersiniz, Türkçe biliyormusunuz? Evet, biraz, ama Türkçem çok iyi değil … Oh, we're on the air? Sorry, you just caught me practicing my Turkish there. This is Radio Derb with our weekly broadcast, and I am your multilingually genial host John Derbyshire bringing you all the news of the hour.
I'd better explain about the Turkish. As the warm friendship between Radio Derb and the noble republic of Turkmenistan broadens and deepens — a process which, may I add in rebuttal of utterly false and malicious rumors, is entirely unconnected with our preferred shares in the Turkmenistan Broadcasting Corporation — as this friendship develops, I thought it would help if I were to acquire some knowledge of the Turkmen language. My dear friend President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov advised me that standard Turkish will meet the case, as the Turkic languages of Central Asia are sufficiently close to the Turkish of Turkey that I shall be able to make myself understood from the Bosphorus to Urumqi. Thank you, Mr. President — or I should say teşekkür ederim. Oh, and just one more note there: anything you may have heard about Radio Derb acquiring privileged bidding rights on oil and mineral contracts in Turkmenistan is likewise nothing but baseless rumors. I have many enemies.
Right, on with the show.
02 — Post-post-Tucson thoughts. First off, just a few random thoughts on the Tucson shootings and the extraordinary outburst of liberal wrath that followed.
There were some quite frank calls for restrictions on freedom of speech. Here, for example, was South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn, the third-ranking Democrat in Congress, speaking last Sunday, quote: "Free speech is as free speech does, You cannot yell 'fire' in a crowded theater and call it free speech and some of what I hear, and is being called free speech, is worse than that." End quote.
As has often been pointed out before, not only is there a right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, there is a moral obligation to do so when the theater is actually on fire. The theater might lose a few patrons trampled to death in a rush for the exits, but that's better than the entire audience being barbecued in their seats because nobody shouted "Fire!"
Similarly, honest patriots who sincerely feel that their country has taken a drastically wrong path have every right to yell and make a fuss. Everybody knows the catch-phrase "My country, right or wrong," but most people forget the second half, which goes: "If right, to keep her right; if wrong, to put her right." To put a country right, you first have to make yourself heard; and in a clamorous culture like ours, that means you have to yell at the top of your voice and bang pots and pans together.
The idea the left has been trying to put about, that our political conversations should be conducted in the murmured, genteel tones of National Public Radio, is just a way of trying to shut us up. You can talk the way the presenters talk on All Things Considered when you control the culture, and know it. The left controls the culture. When you own all the broadsheet newspapers, all the mainstream churches, all the colleges and schools and universities, all but one of the TV networks, the Civil Service, the municipal unions, even the Joint Chiefs of Staff for crying out loud — when the whole shebang is marching to your tune, you can afford to play the tune soft and sweet. Conservatives have to yell to make themselves heard.
And even with all those advantages, even with its thumbs firmly pressed against the national windpipe, the left isn't all sweetness and light. Watch a Keith Olbermann segment. It is my proud boast to have been nominated three times for Olbermann's "Worst Person in the World" feature. Now, we laugh and kid around about this, but just pause to recall Olbermann's demeanor when he's presenting that segment. Sweetness and light it ain't. He's not kidding: he really believes that I, or Bill O'Reilly, or Rush Limbaugh, are bad people — among the worst in the world. He believes it! He doesn't think we're mistaken, or ill-informed, or even cynical careerists: he thinks we are bad people. That isn't sweet reason, or any kind of reason: it's moral posturing. It's also of course bogus. If the town were to open a homeless shelter on Olbermann's street, he'd be out at front of the protest march.
Looking at this week's news, the latest development in the Tucson liberal anger-spasm has been a somewhat shamefaced realization, at least among some lefties, that they went too far. This realization is operating below the level of the conscious mind. No lefty is ever going to admit he went too far. The realization manifests itself as a sneering at conservatives for having taken it all so seriously. As Michelle Malkin notes, the left's strategy is: Attack 'em. When they respond, attack 'em for responding. Accuse the smear victims of playing the victim card. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it. Keep shouting, fellow conservatives. Keep banging those pots and pans. Above all, keep hitting them with humor. Mock them, make fun of them. They hate that, because they can't get it. A lefty's notion of humor is Bill Maher sniggering and smirking his way through a Pope joke or Rachel Maddow calling the Tea Party "tea baggers" [Crowd laughter] Don't let up. If we didn't know what the left is like before the Tucson shootings, we know now. Let's give as good as we get.
And let's hold on for dear life to our First Amendment rights, for make no mistake about it: All this bogus cant about "fairness" and "hate speech" and shouting "Fire!" in crowded theaters is all part of a grand strategy to shut up by force of law anyone who dissents from the transnationalist, multiculturalist, ethnomasochist bureaucratic mandarins. The theater is on fire. Jump up on stage and shout!
03 — China sends lifelike robot to Washington. Speaking of mandarins, the ChiComs honored us this week by sending over one of their very lifelike robots to fill a chair at a state dinner Tuesday. The ChiCombot was programmed to make reassuring noises in the manner and tones of one of those National Public Radio presenters, lulling everyone into a sort of drowsy opium dream of harmony and mutual respect.
The robot was powered down for the night while its handlers in Peking took time out to give a good beating to some jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner, break the kneecaps of a few Tibetan nuns, and shoo a few thousand peasants off the land they've occupied since the Tang Dynasty in order that some Hong Kong billionaire with Party connections can build himself a yacht marina.
Then the thing was powered up again to whisper some more sweet nothings about co-operation and peaceful development. Human rights? "There is much to be done," murmured the Golem. (Though this segment was not aired on TV news in China — possibly these words arose from a software malfuntion, like the one in Stepford Wives when Katharine Ross stabs Paula Prentiss with a kitchen knife: ["How could you do a thing like that? …"])
Indeed, there is more to be done by the ChiComs in the human rights area: More state terrorism against dissidents, more torture of middle-aged women practicing meditation, more disappearing acts arranged for young children believed by Tibetans to be reincarnations of Buddha, more Uighur districts to be flooded with Chinese colonists, more North Korean refugees to be repatriated to the loving embrace of the Dear Leader.
No, don't worry, I haven't gone neocon on you. I don't want to send an expeditionary force to liberate Inner Mongolia. I do, though, want our leaders to know who they're dealing with — basically, a gangster clique bent on expanding their turf. For all you hear about China's capitalist successes, for all Tom Friedman's progressivist burbling about how he has been over into the future and it works, these are still Leninists, raised and schooled in Leninist doctrine. Their notion of morality is Lenin's notion, which Lenin helpfully explained to us in a speech he gave to the Russian Young Communist League on October 2, 1920. Executive summary: Morality is whatever the Party says it is this week.
Let's deal with the ChiComs as we must, one nation to another nation, with a careful eye on our national interests. But let us always keep in mind what kind of people we are dealing with. These are sharks, who live only to kill and eat; and like sharks, they never sleep.
04 — Something happened in Tunisia. Something happened in Tunisia. No, no, don't switch off! Tunisia — who knows? It may be important. Yeah, I find it hard to believe too, but you never know.
So, Tunisia. What can one say? Not much. The last time Tunisia was in the news was 146 b.c., when she lost the Third Punic War to Rome's legions. At that time the place was called Carthage. Having had to fight three wars against Carthage, the Romans totally lost patience and after their victory razed Carthage to the ground and sowed the ruins with salt so nothing would grow.
I freely confess I don't know squat about modern Tunisia. With my childlike faith in numbers, my first move here is to go to the CIA world factbook and look up some stats.
Here we are: Tunisia, north coast of Africa, hang a left at Libya, former French colony, population 10½ million, 98 percent Arab, 98 percent Muslim, per capita GDP 9½ thousand dollars, ranking No. 82 in the world, in between Azerbaijan and Colombia, median age 30 versus the U.S.A. 37, Mexico 27. Total fertility rate 1.7, which is low — ranked 170 in the world. Economy is tourism and resource extraction, some manufacturing. OK, got the basic picture: a poorer version of Mexico but with cratering demographics and Islam.
So what happened there last week? Basically, a dysfunctional state happened. The big number here is unemployment, estimated at 14 percent. The economy's actually been doing OK growth-wise, but not OK enough to give jobs to the numbers coming in to the labor force — who of course reflect the robust Total Fertility Rate of 20 years ago, not the feeble one of today. A subproblem there is that Tunisians are over-educated, with more college graduates than the country needs. What, you think that a country can never have enough college graduates, that everyone should go to college, that there is no such thing as an education bubble? Stick around.
So … unemployment stuck high; too many college graduates; blowback from Europe's monetary problems (Europe being their main market). On top of that, a corrupt dictator, in power for 24 years, with a family a bit too careless in flaunting their power and wealth. Light blue touch-paper and retire to safe distance.
As dictators go, the one running Tunisia till last week, name something like Ali Baba, wasn't bad. He didn't torture and murder people any more than necessary to keep his family steadily shoveling the national wealth into their Swiss bank accounts. Economically, he was quite literate. It didn't help at last, though, with all that unemployment and corruption. Last weekend he finally gave up and took a plane to Saudi Arabia with his wife Leila.
Leila, I should say, is a piece of work even by dictator-wife standards. A former hairdresser, Leila owned at least 50 luxury automobiles and a private plane she used just for shopping trips to Dubai. Rumor is that before leaving for Saudi Arabia with hubby she looted the national bank of gold bars worth $56 million. Her 24-year-old daughter has taken refuge in Disneyland Paris with her husband and his pet tiger. Be nice to think they were inspired by Ronald Reagan: "We're going to Disneyland!" but more likely they just wanted to trade in one fantasy life for another.
Unemployment stuck at a high level; too many unemployed college graduates; a spendthrift government. Thank goodness I don't live in Tunisia.
05 — Bankruptcy for states? An interesting piece in the New York Times this weekend on possible legislation to allow states to declare bankruptcy.
We all know the problem here: a lot of states have far more in obligations that they can hope to pay off in any reasonable economic scenario over the next few years. That's the economic problem. Then there's a political problem and a constitutional problem. The political problem is to persuade citizens in well-managed states that the badly-managed states have to be bailed out with public money, including the money of folk in well-managed states. The constitutional problem is that the states are fiscally sovereign, but unfortunately not monetarily sovereign. If the states had their own currencies, as used to be the case before 1793, they might be able to inflate their troubles away, or at least make them into different kinds of troubles, but as things are they're stuck with asking Washington for bailouts, and Washington's stuck with not being able to refuse.
The states have two big blocs of creditors: Municipal bond holders, and retired state employees. In bankruptcy proceedings, who's going to have the first claim on state tax revenues? Well, bond holders can always walk away, and in fact have been doing so — the Times tells us that $25 billion has flowed out of Muni funds in the past two months. Nobody has to hold municipal bonds, but state retirees do need food and housing.
But then, a collapse of the Muni market is unthinkable, with big institutional investors — people like insurance companies — swirling down the plughole. Washington isn't going to let that happen.
So if state bankruptcies become a reality, it's the state workers who are going to taste cold steel. Future hires will certainly be given much less generous packages. It may even be that current workers and retirees will have to take haircuts, state constitutions notwithstanding.
All this will be in the larger context of a managed inflation, with the inevitable consequence of leaving us all much poorer in a few years time. The military equivalent of "managed inflation" would be "orderly retreat" — the most difficult of all military maneuvers, as any staff college lecturer will tell you. You just get one little thing wrong and suddenly the troops are throwing down their rifles and running for their lives in screaming panic. You can get the general atmosphere of such an event from Rudyard Kipling's poem about one, titled "That Day." sample lines:
I 'eard the knives be'ind me, but I dursn't face my man,
So … let's 'ope — I mean, let's hope: Kipling's infectious — let's hope the managed inflation is well-managed. Best case scenario here: bumping downhill for a while till we end up at a lower level, obliged to work till we drop. Worst case scenario: Apocalypse now. Fingers crossed.
06 — Reuters says immigrants steal jobs. This item and the following one both illustrate a shifting of the boundaries of American conservatism. These boundaries have always needed managing — Bill Buckley spent much of his energy patrolling them, laying down the law about where they should be, and expelling intruders. He didn't always get it right in my opinion; but he did his honest best, and anyone else doing the job would have faced similar disagreements. It's a hard thing to agree about, probably impossible.
The reason the boundaries exist and need patrolling is that a high proportion of people in any society are mildly crazy. This is especially the case with people interested in politics, who have a strong tendency to be bores, malcontents, neurotics, and monomaniacs — even on the political right. You can't keep 'em all out, and anyway a seasoning of wackiness keeps things interesting; but if you ever let them control the conversation, it soon descends into weird obsessions and personal vituperation, with no space left for actual issues.
OK, here's the first of my two stories illustrating the shifting of those boundaries. Reuters, which is a respectable news agency, commissioned a study by the Center for Labor Market Studies, a respectable economics research institute, at Northeastern University, a respectable institute of higher education, in Boston, the original and purest hearth-place of American respectability. The results of the study were published by Reuters this week. They show some facts so deeply un-respectable, even among conservatives, that if you uttered them out loud at an American Enterprise Institute or Heritage Foundation luncheon, you would be hustled from the room by armed guards.
Sample quote from Reuter's account of the report. Quote:
Over the past two years, as U.S. unemployment remained near double-digit levels and the economy shed jobs in the wake of the financial crisis, over a million foreign-born arrivals to America found work, many illegally.
That's more striking if you recall that the rate of legal immigration is running about a million a year. So if a million immigrants found jobs in those two years, that would only be half the total intake, even if there was no illegal immigration. Put it another way, of the two million immigrants who settled here lawfully in those two years, less than a million got jobs. What happened to the other million-odd? The report doesn't tell us. I'd surmise that some proportion were elderly parents of settled immigrants — people who will immediately plug in to welfare services, as Barack Obama's aunt has.
In any case, the main thrust of the report is that continuing mass immigration, much of it illegal, is taking jobs from American citizens, especially the poorest and least-educated of us. Quote: "Sum [that is, Andrew Sum, director of the Center] said the whole situation was creating a deeper domestic labor glut at the bottom of the workforce ladder, depressing wages and sharpening already widening income disparities." End quote.
Nothing very surprising to anyone acquainted with immigration issues. What is surprising is the respectability quotient of the context — the researchers, their university, and the reporting agency. Five years ago none of them would have touched this. American Enterprise and Heritage — let alone Cato! — wouldn't have touched it with a ten-foot pole. National Review might have touched it, but very warily. It just wasn't respectable to say anything negative about immigration.
Increasingly it is. Take birthright citizenship, for another example. This was a way-out fringe issue until recently, well outside the borders of respectable conservatism. When I raised it on our group blog, The Corner, four or five years ago, colleagues clubbed me to the ground, put duct tape over my mouth, and threw me in the box for a week without rations. Now birthright citizenship is being discussed, or at least raised, in the House of Representatives.
Five years ago the only people talking about birthright citizenship — other than me, of course — were VDARE and Pat Buchanan. It wasn't just that no-one was arguing against it: nobody on the respectable right was even talking about it. Now Congress is talking about it.
Who knows? — Perhaps after another five years even the New York Times will be talking about it. Perhaps it will be OK to ask out loud why, with ten percent overall unemployment, and the rate nudging thirty percent among Americans without high school diplomas, we are bringing in a million people a year for legal settlement, and permitting millions more, most of them utterly uneducated, to live here illegally.
07 — Wonks discover whiteness. Here's topic number two illustrating boundary creep in the respectable conservative movement.
This is from National Journal, which is a sort of trade magazine for policy wonks. National Journal isn't strong on opinion articles and doesn't have much of a political "line," but if you want to know who got out-maneuvered for a seat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, these are your guys. If you're not the kind of person who wants to know stuff like that, National Journal is an insomnia cure. You will be unable to stay awake through the average National Journal article.
We are of course deep in the respectability zone once again here. It was therefore doubly striking to see National Journal talking about ethnic disaggregation in the voting booth. This was not the average National Journal article. It's worth reading all the way through. Go to nationaljournal.com and search on the phrase "white flight."
I know I bang on a lot about ethnic disaggregation, so excuse me for returning to the subject. By ethnic disaggregation I just mean the drifting apart of ethnic groups everywhere, in countries where they have lived together in some kind of understanding often for centuries. From Czechs and Slovaks to Christians in the Middle East, from Flemings and Walloons to Hutus and Tutsis, from Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka to Scottish nationalists, Chechens, and the Saxons of Transylvania: something about modernity makes us less willing to share territory with people unlike ourselves. In the context of globalization, it's a paradox — one reason I'm fascinated by it. This is one of the defining features of our age all over the world, and it therefore seems peculiar to me that nobody much talks about it. Well, here's National Journal talking about it — another wee bit of boundary-shifting.
What do they have to say? Quote:
By any standard, white voters' rejection of Democrats in November's elections was daunting and even historic. Fully 60 percent of whites nationwide backed Republican candidates for the House of Representatives; only 37 percent supported Democrats …
End quote. They are analyzing exit polls here from the 2010 midterms. What the exit polls are showing is white flight from the Democratic Party — that's actually the name of the article, "White Flight."
Now of course the recent midterms were bad news for Democrats overall. Nothing new there: elections often show big swings one way or the other, and Democrats were at the wrong end of this swing. It's the ethnic differences that are striking. Republican candidates pulled in 60 percent of white votes, while Democrats got 73 percent of the minority vote, black, Hispanic, and Asian.
If you do more detailed breakdowns you get even more eye-popping results. Just taking House elections, in the South — the Democrat Solid South well within living memory — heck, well within my memory — Democrats won 24 percent of white votes, wellnigh a fringe group. In the Midwest it was 37 percent.
Polled on the President's performance there were similar gaps. Another quote from National Journal, quote:
First among those was Obama's performance. Exactly 75 percent of minority voters said they approved; only 22 percent said they disapproved. Among white voters, just 35 percent approved of the president's performance, while 65 percent disapproved; a head-turning 49 percent of whites said they strongly disapproved.
Again, as interesting as the results themselves is the fact that they are being discussed so frankly in a periodical so respectable, if it were able to drink tea it would lift its pinkie. If I wanted that kind of analysis five years ago I had to sneak into my office, turn the light off, lock the door, and read Steve Sailer.
Of course not Steve, not me, and not anyone else who's ventured outside the boundaries of what Bill Buckley called "the prevailing structure of taboos" is going to get any credit for having been talking about this stuff five years before Reuters and National Journal. European leftists in World War Two had a bitter little phrase that comes to mind here: they called themselves "premature anti-fascists." By the time German armies were marching through France and Russia it had been conveniently forgotten that large parts of the European establishment had been just fine with fascism in the 20s and 30s, didn't see anything wrong with it. Fascism was inside the boundary of establishment opinion. Leftists who opposed it were beaten up and jailed. The leftists had been anti-fascist, but too early — premature anti-fascists.
Well, I'm no fan of the left, but they do turn a nice phrase. I hereby declare myself, I hope not prematurely, a premature immigration restrictionist and a premature anti-multiculturalist.
08 — Miscellany. Who's this coming up the path? Why, it's our old friend Miss Ellany with some brief items to close with.
Item: Is multiculturalism a good thing or a bad thing? Well, you hear it from me every week: on a societal scale, it's a bad thing. Does anyone agree with me, though? Yes: there is, for example, George Clooney. No kidding. Here's George with Joe Scarborough on Thursday talking about Sudan, in which Clooney's taken an interest. Joe asked George if the main idea of this recent referendum in Sudan is to divide the country in two. Clooney, quote:
They're basically going to try to put it back the way it was. You know, as a lot of us who have colonized over the years have learned, you know, it doesn't necessarily work when you just draw something and say, OK, let's make a nice country out of these two groups who actually got along OK for a long period of time, but didn't particularly love each other and now suddenly they're one country.
End quote. I got that from Mark Finkelstein blogging on Newsbusters. Mark adds the following note, quote: "From the old Yugoslavia to Belgium, from Canada to Europe's problems with integrating Muslims, multiculturalism seems to struggle wherever it's tried. Perhaps the United States has been and can be an exception, but only if people come here with the desire to assimilate, and the country adopts policies encouraging this." End quote, which I second. Nice to find myself on the same side as George there. Hey, drop in at Buckley Towers for a drink, George — we'll comp you a subscription to the magazine.
Item: "Make love not war" we chanted back in the sixties, adding by way of explanation to anyone who asked that no-one was ever harmed by consensual sex, Fatty Arbuckle having been completely forgotten at that point, I suppose. Well, here's another counterexample to go with poor old Fatty's girlfriend: A 44-year-old Maori woman in Auckland, New Zealand, took a love bite on the neck. The love bite caused a clot to form in an important artery, and the woman suffered a stroke. She's OK now, but the attending physician, a chap named Teddy Wu, said, quote: "To my knowledge, it's the first time someone has been hospitalised by a 'hickey'." Indeed. It may in fact be the first time a 44-year-old woman has received a hickey, I don't know.
Item: Big mob roundup in New York Thursday, with more than 120 alleged wiseguys being collared by federal agents. The fun here of course is in the names. Who we got? We got Benjamin "The Claw" Castellazzo, Richard "Richie Nerves" Fusco, Joseph "Junior Lollipops" Carna, Dennis "Fat Dennis" Delucia, Simone "Sam the Plumber" DeCavalcante, and Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio. Music to my ears — the old, weird America still lives.
Item: Here's my favorite news story of the week, and I'm just going to read the whole thing to you from the pages of America's Newspaper of Record, the New York Post. Here we go. "A Connecticut man became so enraged when a woman at a party chided him for his repeated flatulence that he fatally stabbed a pal and injured three others, authorities said. Suspect Marc Higgins, 21, of Bristol, 'was farting throughout the evening' Saturday, prompting a female partygoer to slap him. The furious, red-faced Higgins stormed out, only to return with a butcher knife, another knife and a BB gun, officials said. He then allegedly fatally stabbed pal Matthew Walton, 21. Higgins also is also accused of stabbing two other men and a woman." That's the end of the story — a sort of modern-day Jack the Ripper, if you catch my drift. You cannot make this stuff up.
09 — Signoff. And that's it, folk. What did we cover there? Keith "The Snarl" Olbermann, George "Sudan" Clooney, Marc "The Cheese Cutter" Higgins, and Ali Baba and his forty family-member thieves. Not a bad crop for a week when, let's face it, nothing much was happening. The New York Post, which in the regrettable absence of my research assistants is my main source for material, has run the New York Jets — some kind of sports team, I believe — on the front page every day this week, I think. So, we're not living in interesting times. Long may that remain so. İyi günler!
Here's a wee bit of Turkish folk music to see us out. The words translate as follows:
Various flowers bloom and fade
[Music clip: Aşık Veysel Şatıroğlu singing Dostlar beni hatırlasın]