[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome … and of course to our listeners in Turkmenistan, Hoş geldiňiz!
This is your irrefragably genial host John Derbyshire with all the news guaranteed to send you to your bedroom alone with a bottle of bourbon and a loaded revolver. Yes, these are dire times in the Republic. They do say that every dark cloud has a silver lining, but none of "they" is employed here at Radio Derb. Our job is to get you staring into the abyss. So, settle down for a half-hour's staring.
02 — Two cheers for Rand Paul. Here's my hero of the week: Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Listeners, if you haven't already done so, go over to YouTube and type "Rand Paul response" in the search box. The clip is less than five minutes, and it'll be time well spent.
The Senator from Kentucky has put forward a plan to lop half a trillion off our one-and-a-half trillion deficit. If you do the arithmetic there, that's just one-third of the deficit, so this is a modest proposal, as Paul himself admits. By the mealy-mouthed standards of current debate, however, it is breathtakingly radical — so much so, there is zero chance of it being adopted in the current Congress, let alone of any of it being signed by our Social-Worker-in-Chief.
Interviewing Rand Paul on CNN, Wolf Blitzer treated him like an alien life form. Did Paul not realize, Blitzer asked, that 100,000 federal employees would lose their jobs under his proposal? Paul fielded the question very well — he's a really good interview — just pointing out that the choice is between bad today or worse tomorrow, and we should bite the bullet. I would have been harsher: I might have told Blitzer, for example, that we give residence permits to a million foreigners every year to settle in the U.S.A., so cutting that figure by just ten percent would sop up 100,000 jobs for those laid-off bureaucrats to take. I'm not going to second-guess Paul, though. He's too good.
Blitzer also asked Paul incredulously if he really wants to stop all foreign aid. Paul pointed out that most of it just gets stolen anyway, and that 71 percent of Americans were with him on this when polled recently. Blitzer doubled down, hurling the I-word javelin at the senator: Would he stop aid to Israel, too? The javelin bounced right off Achilles' shield. Paul observed, what is quite correct, that we give almost as much to Egypt as we do to Israel, so that we are basically just fueling an arms race in the Middle East, using money borrowed from China to do so. Game, set and match.
Quote from Paul: "We could have a precipitous calamity unless we make tough decisions now." He's right of course; but who believes those decisions will be made? Great Society Democrats control the Senate and the White House — not to mention, as the example of Wolf Blitzer illustrates, the media. There are a few glimmers of sense among Republicans, but for the most part they continue to be the Stupid Party, locked in to the crazy and nation-destroying Diversity cult, lapdogs of the cheap-labor business lobbies, dedicated to trillion-dollar missionary adventures abroad, and scattering like roaches in sudden light when any media loudmouth accuses them of straying from PC dogmas.
Anyone who thought this new House Republican majority would take any real measures to address the coming crisis need only look at John Boehner's smug silly face to be disabused. Or consider what happened to Iowa Representative Steve King, who is a Tom Tancredo-style hawk on illegal immigration — he wants an electrified border fence, though without the minefield that I would like included. King has been the ranking member on the House immigration subcommittee since 2007, and so was the first in line for the chairmanship this year. The immigration subcommittee is controlled by the Judiciary Committee, though, which is in the hands of Boehner-type RINOs — comfortable time-servers who know how high to jump when the Chambers of Commerce and Latino lobbies crack the whip. King was passed over for the subcommittee chairmanship.
I don't, therefore, believe that the coming catastrophe can be averted. Our Mississippi river-boat is steaming straight forward to the lip of the waterfall. The Democrats are shoveling coal into the boilers. The Republicans, most of them, are playing pinochle in the lounge. A few bold patriots like Rand Paul are yelling for us to reverse paddles. Nothing of the sort will be done; but bless the man for at least telling America the truth, clear and plain.
The only question left hanging here, in my mind, is: Assuming the U.S.A. is still around in 2012, which ticket should we hope for: Paul-Palin or Palin-Paul?
03 — The Tunisia-Rand Paul connection. Tunisia has been in the news recently, for the first time since the Third Punic War twenty-one and a half centuries ago. As Radio Derb reported last week, the Tunisian dictator had to flee to sanctuary in Saudi Arabia with his wife, who barely had time to stash the nation's gold reserves in the presidential jet before they departed.
The whole Tunisia thing is, I'll admit, kind of boring. I mean, really, who cares? Well, I didn't either until, noodling around the internet the other day, I turned up a Tunisia-Rand Paul connection.
Since I was still swooning with admiration at Senator Paul's speech, this got my attention. It needs a little explaining, though. Here's the explanation … And I should offer a tip of the hat here to the immigration blogger who calls himself "Federale," who seems to be an employee, or ex-employee, of the Department of Homeland Security.
The key news item here is a report in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday this week headlined: Border authorities arrest controversial Muslim cleric east of San Diego. The controversial Muslim cleric is a bloke named Said Jaziri, a native of Tunisia. That's the Tunisian connection right there. I'll get round to the Rand Paul connection is a moment — patience, please.
Mr. Jaziri took a flight from Tunisia to Europe, then another flight to Belize, in Central America. Belize has a border with Mexico, which Mr. Jaziri seems to have had no trouble crossing. He took a bus to Tijuana, made contact with a coyote, jumped the fence at an unwatched spot near Tecate, and hiked through the back country to a pickup spot on Route 94 east of San Diego. An American people smuggler, name of Kenneth Robert Lawler, was waiting there in his BMW. Mr. Jaziri climbed into the trunk of Mr. Lawler's Beemer and they headed off to San Diego. So far so good — just a regular immigrant experience.
Unfortunately some firefighters had spotted Mr. Jaziri getting into Mr. Lawler's trunk and alerted the Border Patrol, who pulled the car over a few miles down the road. Mr. Lawler's looking at a charge of people smuggling and Mr. Jaziri's looking at the inside of a cell at the federal detention facility near Yuma, Arizona.
This is not Mr. Jaziri's first visit to North America. He was deported from Canada in 2007. He'd been living in Montreal for many years. Before that he lived in France. The reason Canada deported him in '07 was the discovery, by Canadian authorities, that when applying for asylum in Canada some years earlier, he had failed to disclose that he'd done jail time in France for assaulting an opponent of his jihadist activities.
Neither in Canada nor in France was Mr. Jaziri shy about being a jihadist. He'd led protest marches at the time of the Danish cartoon controversy; called for Shariah law in an interview on Canadian radio; and boasted of his prowess in converting Canadian women to Islam.
OK: so an antisocial Islamist nutjob got himself deported from Canada and then smuggled into the U.S.A. What's the Rand Paul connection?
Just this. Mr. Jaziri is home and dry. There is zero chance he will be deported from the U.S.A. He's already claimed that if returned to Tunisia he will be tortured there. We can look forward to years of lawsuits and appeals, with the ACLU and CAIR paying his bills. The rule here is: It ain't over till the immigrant wins. Meanwhile he will be released from custody, since he has committed no terrorist acts in the U.S.A., nor indeed in Canada: he is merely a vocal supporter of terrorism. For icing on the cake, he is within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the most liberal judicial authority in the country, unless you count Eric Holder's Justice Department. I'd say Mr. Jaziri has got it made.
OK, OK, the Rand Paul angle. What are the prospects that Mr. Jaziri will at least be under surveillance by Homeland Security? Answer: not bright. Where surveillance of national security risks is concerned, we know the DHS priorities. We know them because on February 20th 2009 the DHS helpfully spelled them out in a strategic report they put together in cooperation with the FBI. The report, titled The Modern Militia Movement, was meant to help law enforcement identify terrorist threats. One of the red flags, it told law enforcement officials, was a Ron Paul bumper sticker.
So no, the DHS won't be bothering themselves much with Said Jaziri during the many, many years of U.S. residence he can confidently look forward to. They'll be concentrating on the real terrorists — the people with Ron Paul bumper stickers. And if they see a Rand Paul bumper sticker, do you think they'll care about the difference?
"Come out of the vehicle slowly with your hands in plain sight …"
04 — The states act while the feds sleep. Speaking of the DHS brings to mind Janet Napolitano, our burly Secretary of Homeland Security. It is curious to recall now that Napolitano was Governor of Arizona just two years ago. She served one and a half terms in that position, stepping down to take up the DHS position when Obama came in.
Napolitano is an advocate of "comprehensive immigration reform," which of course means amnesty and open borders. During her time as Arizona Governor she was energetic in opposing any and all measures in the state legislature to deal with the problems arising from mass illegal immigration into the state. Nowadays, of course, Arizona is foremost among the states in legislative action to authorize state agents to help apprehend illegals.
It's not just in Arizona that the worm has turned. State legislatures all over the country are passing laws to cope with the illegal invasion. Wednesday this week the Texas state senate approved a bill tightening up voter I.D. Voters will have to show photo I.D. at the polling place and there will be mandatory jail time for vote fraud. Now the bill goes to the state lower house, which, since last November's midterms, is two to one Republican. Democrats in the state legislature are fighting tooth and nail against the bill for the simple reason that the Democratic Party is the one that benefits more from voter fraud, particularly voting by illegals.
The important thing here is not the Texas voter I.D. law itself, but the slow rising tide it represents of local anger at illegal immigration. Arizona led the way here back in 2004 with their Proposition 200, which included voter I.D. provisions. The proposition was passed by Arizona voters in the teeth of opposition from the then-Governor — yes, that would be Janet Napolitano — and of course Senator John McAmnesty. The 9th Circuit Court struck down much of that law last year, but Arizona moved forward in the interim, last April passing SB1070, the strongest measure yet by any state against illegal immigration.
That one too is being fought against by all the scofflaw organizations and open-borders lobbies — including, to the administration's shame, the federal Justice Department — but where Arizona led, others have none the less followed. After Arizona's Prop. 200 in 2004, Georgia and Indiana passed similar laws in 2005. Now Texas has started down the road and North Carolina, Minnesota, and South Carolina are right behind them with their own voter I.D. legislation.
New voter I.D. rules were the first wave. The second wave, also pioneered by Arizona, has been SB1070-type measures to make it an offense to be in the state without proper documentation, and to empower state law enforcement to act in support of federal law. I've lost count of the tally of states cooking up SB1070 laws, but you can get an idea of the way things are going from Maine. Republicans made a clean sweep of the Pine Tree State legislature last November, and Tea Party-backed candidate Paul Le Page won the governorship. Almost the first act of the new governor was to sign an executive order requiring state agencies to check the immigration status of applicants for social services. Now state Representative Kathleen Chase has introduced an SB1070-type bill into the Maine House, to much screeching and caterwauling from leftists.
The third wave is already in sight: State legislation against birthright citizenship. Obviously this is largely gestural, as the states can't legislate about U.S. citizenship, only about state citizenship, which is a bit of an abstraction. It sure is a gesture worth making, though.
The opposition to all this reform is fired up and of course controls big power centers — the media, the courts, the schools. There will be some defeats. In fact there was one this week, when a Wyoming SB1070-type law died in committee. The states are stirring, though, and trying to do what a hopeless, clueless, dysfunctional federal government does not want done. The federal government will do nothing whatever about illegal immigration for the next two years, so there is no point watching them. Watch the states; that's where the action is on immigration restriction.
05 — Dominos in the Muslim world. Back to Tunisia. The word "dominos" has been showing up in a lot of the commentary of Tunisia's recent ructions. Demonstrators have been out in the streets in Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, and Algeria. A crowd of 30,000 came out in Amman, Jordan, chanting "Freedom now!" Even Libya had a protest, though a small one, in the city of Benghazi.
So is my somewhat cynical dismissal of the Tunisian revolt misplaced? Is Jeffersonian democracy at last about to break out in North Africa and the Middle East?
Well, possibly, but that's not the way to bet. Certainly there's a revolutionary mood in the air. Revolutions, however, offer open situations that all sorts of people can take advantage of. Jeffersonian democrats, sure, but also other, less scrupulous people and movements. The French and Russian revolutions started very hopefully, but ended up with Napoleon and Lenin. Most of the dictators that these protesters are protesting against came to power with popular support against tired, corrupt dictators or monarchs. The expression "Shah of Iran" mean anything?
Sure, people can get democracy. The East Europeans got it after the Soviet Union fell; but then, they'd had it before. Japan and Germany got it after 1945; but then, they had some very chastening experiences to point them the right way — their cities flattened and their armies annihilated — and they were under firm military occupation by the biggest of all Jeffersonian democracies. Taiwan and South Korea got it; but then, they are East Asian.
Is there any way to guess who is likely to get democracy and who isn't? Obviously this is not going to be an exact science. There is no cultural or biological difference between South Koreans and North Koreans, but the first lot have democracy and the second lot don't. Can we make informed guesses, though? Can we, for example, identify some necessary conditions for a nation to sustain democracy? A necessary condition, just to remind you, is one that must pertain if you want the result. If it does pertain, you still may not get the result; but if it's not there, then no way will you get the result. To read Virgil in the original you need to have mastered first-year Latin; that's a necessary condition. You can master first-year Latin and still not be able to read Virgil, though. It's necessary, but it's not sufficient.
Political scientists have tackled this issue. I have on my desk here, for example, a 2009 book from the National Policy Institute, title The Limits of Democratization, by Tatu Vanhanen, a professor of political science in Finland. Professor Vanhanen works up an Index of Democratization and computes the index world-wide for 2006. No great surprises in his tables. Up at the top are places like Belgium at 44, Denmark at 43, Switzerland at 41. Down at the bottom are places like China, North Korea, and oh Lord!, Turkmenistan — must be some mistake there, surely — scoring zero.
The good professor then tries to find correlations between this index and variables like mean temperature, mean national IQ, and resource distribution. He gets correlations all right, but they are not strong ones, and there are lots of outliers. Barbados, for example, with a mean national IQ of 80, is more democratic than Russia, where the mean is 97. The correlations are there, though, and suggest that human capital, as measured by intelligence tests, is a factor, one factor, in the prospects for democratization.
Mean national IQs for Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Libya, and Yemen are 83, 81, 83, 84, 84, 83, and 85 respectively. That puts them in there with a chance. Their drawbacks are a complete lack of historical experience with democracy, low-grade economies dominated by peasant agriculture and resource extraction, and the presence of ruthless Islamist groups.
I'd bet against any of these countries getting rational government any time soon. These disturbances will more likely deliver either a new round of non-ideological dictators somewhat more clever and less cruel than the last crowd, and in any case at least fresher on the job, or Iran-style fundamentalist takeovers. It's not against the law to hope, of course, and I'd hope along with the rest of you if I could. Anyway, read Professor Vanhanen's book and see if you still feel hopeful.
06 — Lang Lang shows his patriotism. The young Chinese pianist Lang Lang got into trouble when he played a Chinese patriotic tune at the White House reception for Hu Jintao and his fellow commissars. The tune comes from a 1956 movie about the Korean War. There were words attached in that original movie, though Lang Lang just played the tune. The words spoke of smiting the enemy, which of course was mostly us.
I'll admit I'm a bit blasé about this kind of thing. For one, my late father-in-law, a man I liked and respected, had fought with the People's Liberation Army in the Korean War as a young volunteer. That's what happens in wars: patriots sign up to fight for their country.
For another, while all of the five or six Chinese people I consulted knew this tune, none of them knew the words to it, and one claimed not to know there were any words. These, by the way, were all people a generation older than Lang Lang, who is 28.
I seriously doubt Lang Lang has a political bone in his body. He was born and raised in China, though, and loves his country, as he should. He is not a U.S. citizen, though he spends a lot of his time in New York. He's a Chinese citizen, a resident of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Zone.
I therefore would not fault Lang Lang for playing that tune. The people I would fault are the Obama administration and White House staff, who must have suggested Lang Lang as a suitable entertainer for the ChiCom goons.
Why? The normal thing when the leader of country A goes on a state visit to country B is for his hosts in B to put on a display of B culture. When Richard Nixon went to China in 1972 the ChiComs made him sit through a performance of the Red Detachment of Women, an extremely long, boring and sentimental "revolutionary ballet," set to the kind of music you could cut off and sell by the yard. [Sample]
We should repay the compliment when ChiCom leaders come a-calling at the White House — give them a taste of modern American high culture. A performance of The Vagina Monologues perhaps, or a Chris Rock stand-up routine. Or if it's music they're wanting, how about Lady Gaga in person? I'm sure she'd oblige.
None of that would ever occur to the Obamarrhoids. Foreigners, so long of course as they are not white Europeans, are to be bowed to, pandered to, and deferred to. The ChiComs still qualify, just about, as Third Worlders, and therefore morally superior to us, with our appalling history of slavery, colonialism, oppression, and opium-peddling. It would be in the worst imaginable taste to inflict our horrid imperialist culture on them. Best get one of their own people in to entertain them. Besides, we owe them nine hundred billion dollars …
07 — Afghanistan, for crying out loud. Last weekend our Netflix rental was the movie Restrepo, a documentary about our troops in Afghanistan.
Restrepo follows the fortunes of a U.S. combat unit in the Korengal Valley, a Talibam stronghold. I found it quite heartbreaking. Here are brave, patriotic young Americans — smart, articulate, capable, and superbly well-trained — flailing about in a pointless mission under the orders of halfwit politicians.
I scandalized a table full of conservatives recently by telling them that if I were an Afghan, I'd be fighting with the Taliban. Of course I would be. They are Afghans. It's their country. Sure, we have a beef with them. Didn't we work that off in 2001, though, when we killed several thousand of them, brought down their government, and drove them into the mountains? What on earth are we still doing there ten years later?
In the movie you get footage of our guys sitting around with Afghan village elders — fine grave old geezers in turbans and long beards. You can't help but wonder what they're thinking. Some I suppose are thinking: This American seems like a nice young fellow. What's he doing so far away from home? Others are thinking: We'd better try to soothe these damn foreigners. We don't want them dropping bombs on us again like they were five years ago. Some others are thinking: [ker-ching]. Most of them, though are surely thinking: What a nerve these foreigners have, telling us how to live and how to arrange our affairs! What do they know about us? We have our way of life and they have theirs. Why don't they leave us alone?
Who in the U.S.A. supports this fool war? Well, some people do; Senator Marco Rubio for one. He published an article right here on NRO, full of neocon blather about, quote, "helping that nation establish lasting security and a viable state," and, quote: "As I reviewed Afghan National Army training exercises last week, it was clear significant progress has been made." [Laughter]
"Significant progress," after ten cotton-picking years. What shall we have after twenty years, Senator? "Very significant progress"? "Extremely significant progress"? And then after thirty years, what? — "Truly remarkable progress," perhaps.
The comment thread on Rubio's piece spoke for itself; it was ninety percent hostile. This is conservatives and Tea Party types, the people who read NRO. Outside the Crawford ranch, the offices of The Weekly Standard, and Senator Rubio's Washington office, nobody much is buying this "nation-building" baloney any more.
Even if it were a wise thing to do, which it isn't, we can't afford it. We're broke, Senator. As citizens watch their income swallowed up by inflation, ten-dollars-a-gallon gasoline, boomer entitlements, and interest payments on fourteen trillion dollars of debt, the prospect of continuing to shovel their tax dollars into the Karzai extended family's Swiss bank accounts is going to become deeply, deeply unpopular. Trust me on this, Senator.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: Girl Scout cookies. What could be more American? The selling season's coming up, and there are changes. The Girl Scouts are trimming their product line. The five most popular cookies make up 77 percent of sales, so they're going to rationalize and get rid of all but six types of cookie. I'm glad to report that my own favorite, the Samoans, are among the favored six. I'm even gladder to report, (though I know it's wicked of me) that diversity has taken a hit. Quote from the Wall Street Journal report on this pressing topic, January 27, quote: "Dulce de Leche cookies, inspired by the classic confections of Latin America, were created to go along with the Girl Scouts' diversity initiative," end quote. Well, Hasta la vista!, Dulce de Leche. That's great. I'm just looking forward to my Samoans … and wistfully recalling my childhood in England back in the dear innocent 1950s, when Girl Scouts used to go door to door offering to do odd jobs for a modest remuneration. As you opened the door to them they lisped: "Please give a shilling to a girl who is willing." Ah, you don't get that kind of service nowadays.
Item: Get out! — It's gonna blow! Except that if this thing blows, we won't be able to get out. This thing is the star Betelgeuse, which forms the right shoulder of the constellation Orion. Betelgeuse is a giant star, ten or twenty times more massive than our Sun. The alarming thing is, it's losing mass quite fast, which means it will soon collapse in on itself in the horrendous stellar explosion known as a supernova. Fortunately it's 300 light-years away, so the effects on us won't be dire, though for a while it will glow bright enough to be seen in daylight and cast shadows at night. Also fortunately, the word "soon" in astronomical parlance comes with a margin of error about a million years wide, so no need to stock up the basement with canned food just yet.
Item: Back in our December 10th broadcast we reported on President Obama's signing into law H.R. 4783, which pays compensation to black farmers who claim that the Department of Agriculture discriminated against them back in the 1980s and 1990s — the so-called Pigford settlements. The whole thing is, as we pointed out, and as the splendid Representative Michelle Bachmann has been hammering away at, an appalling scam against the U.S. taxpayer, with essentially no standards of proof required from claimants, and the number of claimants exceeding five times the actual number of black farmers. Well, we now learn that U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop, who has held Georgia's 2nd District since 1993, was in on the scam. Liberal reporter Lee Stranahan, working on a documentary for conservative Andrew Breitbart — go figure — interviewed three Georgia farmers who all testified that in a meeting with Congressman Sanford they told him about fraud in the Pigford claims, and that Sanford replied that they should shut up their mouths or the whole thing would fall apart. Confronted with this, the Congressman — a Democrat, natch — responded by suggesting the farmers had been drinking.
Item: Let's see, what else. Anything else happen this week? Hang on, let me look through mu notes … No, nothing much … Oh, the President made some kind of speech. Didn't bother myself, but you can probably find something about it in the newspapers if you're interested.
09 — Signoff. There you go, folks. The U.S.A. is … What is it, Big Bill? [Big Bill Broonzy: "Another day older and deeper in debt"] Yep, that's what we are. I hate to leave you all in this atmosphere of inspissated gloom I've generated, though, so here's Gracie Fields to sing us out. If you still feel downhearted after that, buy yourself some Girl Scout cookies.
[Music clip: Gracie Fields, Sing As We Go]