»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, April 15, 2011

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]

01 — Intro.     Radio Derb, on the air! This is your skeptically genial host John Derbyshire with highlights from the week's news. First, the budget.

02 — Obama-style deficit reduction.     Wednesday this week the president talked deficit reduction. We have a deficit because the federal government takes in much less than it spends — this year, over 1.6 trillion dollars less. There are two obvious solutions to this: spend less, or take in more. Guess which one Obama went for?

Yes, Obama wants to raise taxes. What a surprise. He said his goal is to reduce the national debt by 4 trillion dollars over the next twelve years. He pretty much lost me right there, and I had to struggle to keep paying attention. Nobody has a clue what the fiscal landscape will look like twelve years from now — nor even, in present circumstances, twelve months from now. And yes, the same applies to Paul Ryan's 4.4 trillion debt reduction in ten years.

Politicians who talk about doing this by 2021 or that by 2023 are just blowing smoke. We all know politicians can say anything they like about about 2021 or 2023. Anything they say today will be long forgotten by then. In the case of the president, he won't be in office ten or twelve years from now. He'll be out on the golf course or the lecture circuit, or trousering funds at some benefit bash for his memorial library. What the hell do pols care about 2021? We'll be the poor saps trying to make a living, we and our kids.

Cast your mind back to 1999. Did you have a clue that we'd be looking at 1.6 trillion dollar deficits and 14 trillion dollars of national debt in 2011? Of course you didn't. Neither did I, and nor did any of these fool politicians. Ten years, twelve years — an infinity of things could happen between now and 2021 or 2023. It's absurd for the pols to talk like this. How stupid do they think we are? Stop insulting our intelligence.

All right, what's the substance of Obama's proposal? One trillion from extra taxes, three trillion from spending cuts. Whoa — spending cuts? Obama?

On closer examination that's b.s. too. The spending cuts turn out to be 400 billion off the military budget, 770 billion of non-security cuts vaguely defined as "trimming" Medicare and Medicaid, and lower interest payments on the national debt because, you know, the tax raises and trimmings will lower the debt burden so much.

I'm ashamed to be reporting this nonsense. We're heading for an almighty crash this year or next, and the president is blathering about 2023.

As if that wasn't enough of an insult to our intelligence, he laid into the Republican budget plan, which is only a tad more credible than his, to tell us that autistic kids will be wandering the streets helplessly bumping into utility poles and granny will be dying homeless in a snowdrift.

"That's not the America I know," sneered Obama. What a damn nerve the man has. What is the America he knows? Harvard Yard? The man's a college professor, for crying out loud. He's never done a day's real work in his life, or contributed a nickel to the creation of our national wealth. He's never lived anywhere but in upper-middle-class neighborhoods full of academics and bureaucrats. Even when he was "community organizing" in Chicago, he didn't live in the communities he was organizing. Heaven forbid! He lived in the University precincts of Hyde Park and South Kenwood — neighborhoods so exclusive they have their own private police force! The America you know, Mr President? The America you know is the America of faculty lounges and tastefully-furnished upper-class living rooms crowded with leftist agitators and Tammany Hall bagmen.

From this cocoon of privilege, Obama lectures us about our collective responsibility to the less fortunate. We don't spend enough on them, Obama tells us; and if we go for Paul Ryan's 4.4-trillion-in-ten-years apple pie in the sky instead of the president's 4-trillion-in-twelve-years cherry pie in the sky, we'll be betraying them. All right, let's put that to the numbers test.

03 — The way we were.     My graph of the week comes from the website of a statistician, William M. Briggs, who does a blog mostly on scientific topics. You can see the graph yourself at wmbriggs.com.

Briggs plots per capita federal outlays year by year since 1900. Per capita outlays just means how much our federal government spends per head of the population. This year, for instance, the feds will spend about 3.8 trillion dollars on revenues of 2.2 trillion — the difference being our 1.6 trillion deficit. Divide that 3.8 trillion dollars spending by the U.S. population, which is 310 million, and you get 12,320 dollars. That's per capita federal outlays. For every one of us, man, woman, and child, the feds spend 12,320 dollars — say $35,000 per taxpayer.

How does this compare with times past? Ten years ago spending was less than $10,000 a head, adjusted for inflation. In 1973, when I first made landfall here, it was only $5,000 in today's dollars. In the 1950s it was two or three thousand. Well within living memory, in the late 1930s, it was under one thousand.

All right, we don't want to revisit 1937. How about ten years ago, though? Or twenty years ago? How about 1973? Were thing so unbearably awful when the government spent a half, or a third, or a quarter of what it spends now? Were old folk dying in snowdrifts? Were autistic kids un-cared for?

When I first came here in 1973, I didn't have two nickels to rub together. I was working as a dishwasher and kitchen help around New York City. The tools of my trade were mops and scouring pads. I lived in rooming houses and single-room-occupancy hotels — the low life. That was the first America I knew — an America in which per capita federal outlays were a third of what they are today. It was a pretty nice place. There was work for anyone who wanted it, everyone was well-dressed and well-fed, even in the flophouses. I can't honestly say I was acquainted with any grannies or autistic kids, but I sure didn't see them roaming the streets begging for a crust of bread or dying neglected in snowdrifts.

For goodness' sake, we could halve the federal budget, and this would still be a terrific country — probably a better one, in fact. I know this because I lived it. I saw it. It was the America I knew: not an America of tony private schools and faculty lounges, of affirmative action slots for smooth suck-ups born the right color, of lefty revolutionaries and crooked Chicago pols in cahoots to shovel public money into ACORN chapters and "civil rights" law firms and race guilt shakedowns and Tony Rezko-style real estate rackets. I didn't get to know that America, and I'm glad I didn't, because I don't think I would have been able to stand the smell. The smell of a clogged grease trap or a bucket full of last week's food slops, I can handle; the smell of corruption and self-serving sanctimony brings up my breakfast.

Sorry: I'm losing it here. Let's get back to the cold numbers.

Here are the basics of budgeting. The government estimates how much it will take in. It figures to spend that, plus a little more, which it can borrow on the bond markets. Congress cuts up the pie, and all the revenue gets spent, and then some — unless revenue turned out to be more than estimated, which rarely happens.

Much the most usual thing is for revenue to be less than estimated, because politicians have pre-promised that money to their client groups, and if it doesn't look as though the money's going to be there, they'll just wish it there, for budgeting purposes.

That's why we're 14.3 trillion dollars in the hole — 46,000 dollars per citizen, 129,000 dollars per taxpayer. because the whole budgeting process is a sham and a fraud, perpetrated on us by fools and crooks. And of course by you and me, as I keep reminding you. We do this to ourselves. The fools and crooks are our representatives. You, and me, and he, and she all belong to one of those client groups the pols are schmoozing: some union, some industry group, some PBA, some AARP, some health or disability lobby.

They're doing it to us, all right, but it's not as though we don't want it done, huge numbers of us.

I can feel myself starting to lose it again. Let's turn to something lighter for relief. Something to cheer us up. What have we got?

04 — Donald throws his hair into the ring.     Donald Trump, that's what! Yes, the Donald has thrown his hair into the ring.

At this point Trump isn't actually technically running. "Exploring a presidential bid," is the media phrase, which I guess means dipping a toe in the water. He says he'll come to a definite decision by June. He might run independent, but says he'd prefer the Republican nomination if he can get it. So what are we to make of the Donald and his prospects?

First off, the prospects aren't negligible. Numbers released Tuesday by a very respectable polling outfit showed Trump tied with Mike Huckabee as the 2012 favorites among Republican voters.

The professional politicians were quick to pooh-pooh the poll, pointing out that these guys both have high name recognition because of popular TV shows, and when voters drag themselves away from TV and concentrate their minds on their citizenly duties, they'll soon realize how much wiser and more competent are the sober, experienced professionals in our legislatures and governors' mansions.

I don't know about that. The negativity I feel towards our political classes. and which I can barely keep under control in these broadcasts, is very widely shared. A lot of it is unfair, as I keep telling you. The pols are doing what we want them to do; or what some powerful lobby that we have failed to restrain wants them to do. Human beings must blame somebody, though, and blaming one's own sweet self has never been a thing we're much inclined to do, so right now we're seriously down on the pols. Here comes a non-pol, Donald Trump, and naturally he puts a smile on our face. Hey, he might do something different.

And he might. In a TV interview Monday he picked out our recent trade agreement with South Korea, saying it was a "joke" with insufficient benefits for the United States. Quote from the Donald: "We go over there, we protect them, we protect them with our ships … Did anyone pay us for this? No!" End quote.

Hold up there a minute, Donald. You mean to say you'd conduct U.S. foreign policy in our own national interest? Not in the interests of foreigners? Now that's radical!

If the Donald can have thoughts as radical as that, maybe he could even have a thought as radical as this: Since South Korea has a vigorous modern economy and a huge, well-trained, and well-equipped modern military, while North Korea has no economy and a military of half-starved peasants manning patched-up Soviet-era equipment, maybe the South Koreans should take care of their own national defense, and we should withdraw the thirty thousand troops we have stationed there.

Once you start to have subversive thoughts like that, others come thick and fast. If we don't need those thirty thousand troops in South Korea, then, hey, maybe we don't need the 36,000 we've got stationed in Japan, either. It may even be — you might want to sit down for this one, it's way out radical — it may even be we don't need to keep 52,000 troops stationed in Germany, or the ten thousand in Italy, or the nine thousand in Britain. It's real nice for those countries to have us protecting them, but how is it good for us?

Once you get into this frame of mind, in fact — the frame of mind that says U.S. policy should be conducted in the interest of U.S. citizens, and of no-one else on earth — you can't hold back the crazy ideas. They just keep coming. Maybe we should stop importing cheap foreign labor to undercut American workers. Maybe a nation of 300 million plus, spending more per capita on education than any other country ever has in all of human history, maybe we could produce all the computer programmers we need and drop the H-1B visa system. Maybe African countries, after a half century of independence, could run their own AIDS-prevention programs, instead of us spending billions of dollars teaching them how to use condoms. Maybe we should tell Mexico to take steps to improve opportunities for its poorest citizens instead of shoving them across the border to us.

Maybe we should tell China to float its currency like a grown-up nation, or else we'll stick a suitable tariff on Chinese imports. Hey, the Donald actually did say that one!

Our politics is very formalized and stylized, though, and a guy who hasn't mastered the kabuki arts and proper diction, the words and gestures we've come to expect, is attacking our comfort level. Trump hasn't helped himself by signing up with the birthers. There is no sound reason to think Obama was born anywhere other than Hawaii, and we've all figured out that his caginess about his precise birth documentation is due to the big sharpie check mark against the word MUSLIM that we'd see. Since nobody thinks Obama is a pious Muslim, or a pious anything, nobody much cares about this. We've got more important things to worry about.

If Donald would drop the birther stuff and just hammer on that theme he raised Monday, of conducting U.S. policy in the interest of [shriek] U.S. citizens, I say he'd be in with a chance. At least he's lived in the real world — the world of business, of hiring and firing, of keeping the government at bay and creating wealth. As background for a Chief Executive, that beats community organizing by a mile in my book, and if Trump is the GOP candidate, I'll vote for him.

What if he runs as an independent? I'll get back to you on that.

05 — The bogus budget deal.     Just going back to the budget deal Congress agreed on last Friday, averting the government shutdown: It turns out that a lot of the deficit reduction in that deal is smoke and mirrors.

At least, that's what I'm getting from this Washington Post story, April 12. Quote:

More than half of the $38 billion in spending cuts that lawmakers agreed to last week in the 2011 budget compromise that averted a government shutdown would hit education, labor and health programs … But some of the worst-sounding trims are not quite what they seem, and officials said they would not necessarily result in lost jobs or service cutbacks. In several cases, what look like large reductions are actually accounting gimmicks.

End quote. Note in passing that adjectival "worst-sounding." Worst-sounding to whom? Well, to the lefty journalists at the Washington Post. Cuts in federal spending on education, labor, and "health" — "health" there being a code word for abortion and the AIDS lobbies — sound just fine to me; but then, the Washinton Post would relocate their operation to Burkina Faso before they'd give me a job.

That aside, the story comes under the heading "depressing but not surprising." If you didn't know that any fiscal measure coming out of Congress is loaded up to the gunwhales with accounting gimmicks, you've been sleeping in a cave in the Hartz mountains for nine hundred years.

Further quote:

The legislation includes $4.9 billion from the Justice Department's Crime Victims Fund, for instance, but that money is in a reserve fund that wasn't going to be spent this year. Crime victims would receive no less money than they did before the deal … It eliminates funding for four Obama administration "czars": the "health care czar," "climate change czar," "car czar" and "urban affairs czar." But those positions are already vacant …

End quote. So actually nothing got eliminated there. Nice work, guys.

The Post story does allow that, quote:

Republicans were able to terminate more than 55 programs in the areas of health, labor and education, resulting in a total savings of more than $1 billion.

A billion! That's zero point one percent of a trillion! Sorry … continuing the quote:

The bill would cut U.S. contributions to the United Nations and international organizations by $377 million, and to international banks and financial institutions by $130 million.

Well, that's good news. At least the thing isn't a total bag of nothing. We'll be going over the lip of the waterfall 35 seconds later than we otherwise would have, but at least that will give us time for a prayer. More quote:

It also would prohibit pay raises for foreign service officers, although other federal employees would not be affected.

Of course they wouldn't be. On the Washington Post's scale of moral turpitude, prohibiting pay raises to federal employees is way down there with clubbing baby seals to death. Prohibiting pay raises to federal employees? Perish the thought! Not even the wild-eyed Republican wreckers in Congress will go that far!

I'll go out on a limb here and speculate that even those advertised savings will be fudged by the accountants somewhow, and that not a living soul in this republic will receive less federal money than he did before the deal, nor a living soul in any of the hundred-odd foreign countries we give money to.

I'll go even further out on that limb and speculate that not one U.S. serviceman will be withdrawn from any of our 27 military bases in Germany — the ones from which we defend Western Europe against the Soviet menace. No, not from Ansbach, nor from Bamberg, nor from Baumholder or Darmstadt or Dexheim or Garmisch-Partenkirchen or Germersheim or Gonsenheim or Grafenwöhr or Griesheim or Heidelberg or Hohenfels or Illesheim or Kaiserslautern or Lampertheim or Landstuhl or Mainz-Kastel or Mannheim or Miesau or Mombach or Pirmasens or Schweinfurt or Schwetzingen or Stuttgart or Vilseck or Wackernheim or Wiesbaden.

Our government can't stop spending money. They can't cut anything. They can't shut down any program, or refuse a dole to anyone, anywhere in the world, who has his his hand out. It's a systemic problem; spending can't be cut. Even Paul Ryan and his pals are just faking it with, quote, "accounting gimmicks."

Repeat after me, please: We are doomed.

06 — Will the South Rise Again?     As the pathologies of our political system get ever harder to ignore, the secession option is on some people's minds.

As of course it should be, this week being the 150th anniversary of the last secession attempt. That one, as we all know, didn't work out very well for the seceders. Sympathy for them is still surprisingly widespread, though.

Opinion Research Corporation did a poll last weekend asking people about the Civil War. Here's one of their questions, quote: "When you think about the Civil War, if you had to choose, would you say that you sympathize more with the northern states that were part of the Union or the southern states that were part of the Confederacy?" To that question, 23 percent sympathized more with the Confederacy, 67 percent with the Union. 23 percent is a lot of people. And that's nationwide; in the South it was 38 percent.

A more comprehensive Harris poll last month turned up even stranger numbers. Harris offered people some suggestions for, quote, "an appropriate way to remember the American Civil War." One such way on offer was designation of a Confederate History Month. Nationwide 47 percent thought that would be appropriate. In the South it was 49 percent; but get this, when they break the results by region, the East — which I guess excludes the Southeast, the East has 52 percent approving — more than the South!.

From these results it seems as though fed-upness with federal bungling is so widespread, even the Confederacy, with all its sins, is looking good, and by no means only to Southerners.

And nowadays, if some region did decide to secede, they'd probably get away with it. Does anyone think the modern federal government could summon up the will or capability to stop them? This is an age of secession. Sudan split into two countries just a few weeks ago. Belgium's about to do the same. The Czechs and Slovaks parted company, so did the Serbs and Croats, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and all the bits and pieces of the old U.S.S.R. Iraq will do the same when we pull out. Iran and China are held together by brute force: The Tibetans and Uighurs and Kurds and Azerbaijanis would be out of those countries if they could.

Personally I'd be sorry to see the U.S.A. break up. If we can't accomplish some real systemic reform of the federal government, though, I'd say there's likely to be secession in our future.

Nations come and go; and nations that don't care about their sovereignty come and go the more easily. Do we care about our sovereignty, when we hand out U.S. citizenship like candy, leave the borders wide open, shut our workers out of jobs in favor of cheaper foreign labor, and waste our military strength on futile interventions in Third World tribal squabbles?

07 — Judges vs. law enforcement.     Here's an old story, you know how it goes.

Citizens in a referndum, or their elected representatives in a properly constituted legislative body, vote in some law that withholds some right from illegal immigrants. The cheap labor and ethnic-identity lobbies and the Mexican government and its shills swing into action. "Jump!" they say, and left-wing judges all over the U.S.A. squeal back: "How high?"

The law is suspended before the ink's dry on the Governor's signature. In the matter of protecting illegal immigrants, keeping them on the roads in their uninsured cars, helping them steal social security numbers, maintaining their access to free medical care and schooling, keeping the food stamps flowing to their anchor babies, in these matters there is no democracy. Laws and referendums count for nothing. The people of California learned this in the nineties; now the people of Arizona are learning it.

This week a three judge panel upheld an injuction against enforcement of provisions of Arizona's Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, the infamous SB1070 — the state law that allowed local law enforcement, under stringent constitutional protections, to look into the immigration status of people they were investigating, and detain people living illegally in our country.

SB1070 never went into effect. It was suspended right away by another judge's order — again, as is usual for laws of this kind. The Obama administration has sued Arizona over the law, and you may be sure the court challenges will go on till the crack of doom. The race and business lobbies will never, never allow a law like this to go into effect.

For once this latest court action raised a voice of common sense from the U.S. Congress. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Republican from Texas, said this, quote: "Arizona has taken a reasonable, constitutional approach to compensate for the administration's dereliction of duty. Every state has a duty and a right to protect its citizens. I find it ironic the administration has sued Arizona for enforcing the law while [federal officials] largely ignore it." End quote.

The weirdest aspect of the ruling came from Judge John Noonan, one of that three-member panel. Judge Noonan argued that there is, and can be, no such thing as immigration law, because immigration is an aspect of the nation's foreign policy, which is the property of the executive, not the legislature. How'd ya like that? I didn't make it up. Here are Judge Noonan's own words, quote:

I concur in the opinion of the court. I write separately to emphasize the intent of the statute and its incompatibility with federal foreign policy … Federal foreign policy is a pleonasm. What foreign policy can a federal nation have except a national policy? That fifty inividual states or one individual state should have a foreign policy is absurdity too gross to be entertained. In matters affecting the intercourse of the federal nation with other nations, the federal nation must speak with one voice.

End quote. The one dissenting judge of the three, Judge Carlos Bea, said that Noonan's logic would give a, quote, "heckler's veto" to foreign powers over U.S. immigration law. Which, of course, is precisely what our Mexican overlords want.

The third member of the panel, Clinton appointee Judge Richard Paez, a long-time ethnic activist, scoffed at this, sneering that Judge Bea had, quote, "resorted to fairy tale quotes and other superfluous and distracting rhetoric."

Before ascending to the 9th Circuit court, Paez was the first Mexican-American to sit on the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, where he distinguished himself with efforts to kill the initiative to end racial preferences in California — what he referred to as "the proposed anti-civil rights initiative."

So there you are, citizens — if you'll pardon my using such a shamefully exclusionary word. You can agitate and organize all you like, work within the system like your civics teacher told you to, get laws passed and signed … you can do all that stuff to your hearts' content, but it won't make a damn bit of difference. The race lobbies and the business lobbies and the Mexican government and all their bought and sold stooges in the federal judiciary and the Justice Department will stomp on your silly law, and spit on it, and mock it, and toss it in the garbage.

They call the shots, and they will never allow our nation's immigration laws to be properly enforced, nor new ones to be written.

08 — The re-nationalization of Europe.     Here's Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi speaking last weekend, quote: "Either Europe is something that's real and concrete or it isn't. And in that case, it's better to go back to each going our own way and letting everyone follow his own policies and egotism." End quote.

Strong words there from the Prime Minister. He's suggesting, at least rhetorically, that if Europe can't act together, it would be better to go back to just being a bunch of independent countries, each managing its own affairs.

But what got Berlusconi into such a negative frame of mind about the European project? The bailout of Portugal? Failure to agree on Turkish membership? Global warming? Nope, none of the above. Berlusconi was on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, coming face to face with the floods of African refugees trying to get across the Mediterranean into Europe.

And this might in fact be the issue that finally kills off European unity. Of the major European nations, Berlusconi's Italy is the one most affected by the refugee tsunami. Since the North African troubles started in January, 23,000 Africans have arrived on Italian soil.

Italy's been issuing temporary residence permits to the refugees. Under the rules of the European Union, though, a legal resident of one European country can legally travel to others without any hindrance at national borders. Italy's asking France and Germany to honor those rules. France and Germany are saying they won't.

France is turning back African refugees at the Italian border, and France's interior minister has announced an increase in border patrols. Germany's saying they won't let them in either, and criticizing Italy for giving the refugees legal residence. Lesser European nations are taking the same line. Hence Berlusconi's remarks.

The first wave of refugees was North African Arabs and Berbers. The later batches, however, include a lot of sub-Saharan Africans from Libya. Gaddafy liked to pose as a leader of all the African peoples, and recruited a lot of mercenaries from further south into his security forces. Now the anti-Gaddafy rebels are chasing them out.

Furthermore, while Gaddafy was playing nicely with the rest of the world, one of the things he was doing for the Europeans was to block sub-Saharan Africans from heading north into Europe. Chances are he won't be doing that any more. In fact he's already threatened to let loose new floods of Africans on the European countries that, as he sees it, have betrayed him. He knows that's what the Europeans fear above everything else.

Euro-skeptic, immigration-restrictionist parties are polling well in Europe. In France, Marine Le Pen's Front National got 40 percent of the vote last month in those precincts where it reached the runoffs. Mlle Le Pen is now more popular than French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and there's a presidential election next year. Italy's Northern league is actually part of the government, and in the Netherlands Geert Wilders Party of Freedom is propping up a coalition government there, as is the People's Party in Denmark. In Germany, Thilo Sarrazin's nationalist manifesto Deutschland Schafft Sich Ab ("Germany Abolishes Itself") is still at the top of the best-seller lists and is the most popular book on politics published in Germany for twenty years. Finland goes to the polls on Sunday and even up there in the frozen wastes, nationalism is selling well: the euro-skeptic True Finns party is expected to win a lot of votes, and may end up in government.

Between the refugee crisis and the financial crises, we may be looking at the re-nationalization of Europe. It couldn't happen to a nicer continent.

09 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Item:  In the matter of refugees, our own government manages things so much better. Within our federal government there is an Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since we taxpayers need to see how our money is being spent on refugee resettlement — it's two to two and a half billion dollars a year — the ORR puts out a very comprehensive and informative annual report. I'm looking at the 2007 report; it runs to 147 pages. Good work there, you people at the Office of Refugee Resettlement! But wait a minute, why am I looking at the 2007 report? Shouldn't ORR put out an annual report to the people who are paying their salaries? Yes they should. Matter of fact, they are required by law to do so — it's in Section 413 subsection (a) of the 1980 Immigration and Nationality Act. For any fiscal year — and as Radio Derb listeners all know, fiscal years go from October to September, this being fiscal year 2011 — for any fiscal year, ORR is required to send a report to Congress by January 31st of the following fiscal year. So where are the legally-required reports for 2010, 2009, and 2008? Nowhere, is the answer. They haven't appeared yet. So the Office of Refugee Resettlement is three years behind with its reports? Boy, I bet our representatives in Congress are furious about that. [Laughter]

Item:  People in the news: Crystal Gail Mangum. You remember her: she was the star of the Duke lacrosse rape case five years ago, the hooker who claimed that three Duke University lacrosse players raped her at a party. The lefties were all over the case, and the rest of us all had to take time from work to attend Two Minutes Hate sessions against the unspeakable evil hate-filled lacrosse players who'd raped the poor girl just because she was black and they were white. It eventually turned out that Ms Mangum made it all up, and the prosecutor who'd pushed the case was disbarred for, quote, "dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation." Well, Ms Mangum's been in the news again. She was in court back in December on charges of property damage, arson, and abuse and neglect of minors. She got off the hook on that one with a hung jury, but now here she is yet again, accused of stabbing her boyfriend with a kitchen knife. That was "assault with a deadly weapon," and the lady who was America's favorite victim five years ago has been sitting in a Durham jail cell. Now the poor guy's died and the peelers say they'll be upgrading Ms Mangum's charge to Murder One. Given the lady's track record, you have to wonder why any guy would be dumb enough to be her boyfriend … but perhaps the deceased was just another lacrosse player taking advantage of a helpless young woman.

Item:  Just to briefly resurrect the thread about the lack of any looting in the Japanese tsunami disaster, CNN reports that not only was there no looting, there's actually been a sort of anti-looting: citizens turning in stuff they've found in the disaster zone, including lost cash, and even safes. Apparently the Japanese are at all times great turners-in of lost property, and every police prefecture runs a huge warehouse filled with unclaimed items and money. I guess the phrase "finders, keepers" does not translate into Japanese. In related news, some readers have asked me what I thought of my colleague Mark Steyn's piece in the April 4th National Review, arguing that, quote from Mark, "looting is a young man's game, and the Japanese are too old." Well, with all due respect to Mark, I'd like to point out that Sendai, the worst affected big town in the tsunami zone, has long advertised itself as Japan's youngest city, with a median age of 38. By way of a reference point, the median age in the U.S.A. is 37. Pinning the lack of looting on Japan's demographics is like pinning it on Japan's high mean IQ, which some other people did, not Mark, and which I also didn't buy. Even a nation with a high mean IQ has lots of dumb people; even a nation with a low fertility rate still has a lot of young people.

Item:  Finally, France's new anti-burqa law went into effect this week. Radio Derb's burqa policy has been stated often before: We favor people being allowed to wear what they like within the restraints of customary modesty, but want strict immigration controls on countries that subject women to things like the burqa. Here's a guy who disagrees with me: reporter and immigration romantic Donn Esmonde in the Buffalo News. Let's shuffle over to Buffalo to see what he says. Buffalo's been emptying out, but now some of the emptiness is being re-filled with immigrants from the Middle East and Pakistan. Esmonde likes this. Quote: "On a half-dozen blocks, Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and the Middle East are carving an immigrant oasis from a ghetto. Most of the women you'll see on the streets … wear burqas. Within walking distance are three mosques, two Muslim grade schools and a couple of Muslim-owned corner stores …" Our intrepid reporter runs into a chap named Abdul, from Pakistan. Quote: "A century ago, his name was Antonio or Stanislaus or Hans or Patrick," end quote. And their wives wore burqas too, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

10 — Signoff.     There you are, pilgrims. Another week of misery, malfeasance, and mayhem. Another week bereft of research support here at Radio Derb, too; but signs are this may be about to improve. High-level negotiations have been under way between Buckley Towers and the presidential palace of our dear friend President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov over there in Turkmenistan. I can offer no more than hints at this stage; but if the dulcet tones of Mandy, Candy, and Brandy were to be heard wafting across the studio here quite soon, I wouldn't be at all surprised. Stay tuned!

[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]