[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, listeners, this is your tropospherically genial host John Derbyshire bringing you the week's news, courtesy of Taki's Magazine and our noble proprietor Taki Theodoracopulos.
As usual, we are broadcasting to you from our state-of-the-art sound studio here on Taki's island estate in the balmy Aegean Sea. My staff of superbly-trained technicians and diligent researchers have left no tern unstoned in selecting the most significant and thought-provoking of the week's news stories, for your mental instruction and moral improvement.
OK, so … Er, Mandy, honey, would you mind doing that outside, please? The smoke goes to my head. Thanks. Right. On with the motley!
02 — Riots if Obama loses? There has been considerable speculation on the blogs about whether an Obama loss on November 6th will cause black Americans to riot. So, will it?
I'll take it apart into four pieces. First, some necessary qualifications on the subject as stated. Second, reasons to think there may be riots. Third, reasons to think there may not be riots. Fourth, my personal estimate of the probability. Off we go.
First, necessary qualifications on the topic as stated. Necessary qualification One: The topic rests on a hypothetical — Obama losing the election. As we go to tape here, there looks to be a good chance of this happening. As the saying goes, though, a week is a long time in politics, and we have two and a half weeks to go before voting. And as the other saying goes: There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip.
Necessary qualification Two: The population under discussion does not of course consist of all blacks, nor even most blacks. Bourgeois blacks like the pre-politics Obamas and well-socialized working-class blacks like Mrs. Obama's parents, do not riot. That's an obvious thing to say: But anything to do with race so enstupidates us nowadays, it is necessary to state obvious things.
Just to get things in perspective here, though, let me make the following prediction with utmost confidence: In the event of Barack Obama winning the election, white people will not riot. You can take that to the bank.
Reasons to think there will be riots. Reason One: Blacks are very riotous. Sure, other demographics occasionally riot: Just the other day there was a small riot by skateboarders in L.A., aggrieved that they couldn't get into a skateboarding movie. The 1969 Stonewall riots by homosexuals are credited with launching the modern Gay Rights movement.
For the big, neighborhood-wrecking, stores-burned-out, gunfire-heard, cops-overwhelmed riot, though, it's blacks every time. Everybody remembers the big ones: Detroit and Newark in 1967, the Rodney King riots in '92. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. Check out the Wikipedia page headed "List of Ethnic Riots."
Things may be getting worse. The other day I met Colin Flaherty, author of a book titled White Girl Bleed a Lot, which concentrates on black riots in the past few years, and the strenuous efforts of the mainstream media not to report them. As a journalist, Colin concentrates on the latter aspect, but the riots themselves make grisly reading, and there are an awful lot of them.
The currents of modernity aren't helping. Advanced economies have less and less use for low-IQ workers; and to the extent they have any use, the business interests who fund both major political parties prefer to import them from the Third World. Small brown people are easier to manage and more deferential than large black ones, and they settle for less money. So guess what? The unemployment rate for black men age 16 to 24 in New York City is 33 percent, and New York's not the worst case.
Reason Two: The website Infowars.com has been monitoring Twitter for threats to riot. They have found thousands. To be sure, the internet is full of empty bluster; but it's also a very good medium if you want to get a mob together at short notice. Some people have said that these threat-to-riot tweets are fake, and I suppose some small proportion is. Still, a handle like, to take one actual example from Infowars, "This Nigga @DickSlapYoMama" sounds authentically black to me.
Reasons to think there will not be riots. Reason One: For blacks, the bloom is off the Obama rose. He didn't deliver to them what they'd hoped for. He didn't fix the schools so that black kids all ace the SAT. He didn't bring down the proportion of jail and prison inmates who are black. He didn't pay black people's mortgages. Blacks are disappointed in him. Sure, they'll vote for him anyway — gotta show solidarity, gotta keep it real — but the passion has gone out of this marriage.
Reason Two: There are plenty of cases of black chief executives being unseated by white ones without riots ensuing. When David Dinkins lost the New York mayoral election to Rudy Giuliani in 1993, nobody rioted, in spite of the fact that racial passions were still high from the Rodney King case a year and a half previously.
Reason Three: The people who riot are young and uneducated, not a group much interested in politics. The typical black voter is older, more bourgeois, more educated — not a rioter.
My prediction. There'll be a few small-scale disturbances, which you'll have to watch on YouTube.com and WorldStarHipHop.com as the mainstream media won't report them. There'll be nothing on the 1967 scale, though. There's not enough black passion for Obama.
This one was much better spectacle than the first, as the candidates were allowed to roam around a large open space in front of the audience, displaying clear body language. The result was quite gladiatorial at times, though the two men didn't actually come to body contact.
If you'd asked me beforehand, I'd have guessed that when it came to body language, Mitt Romney, a large and confident guy's guy who's raised five boys, would easily best Barack Obama, a skinny introvert with a bossy wife and two daughters. In the event Obama did well, circling and open-palm arm-extending with much vigor. Pretty much a tie on body language, I thought.
On the issues, there was not much new. Obama kept returning to his class warfare line — "Asking the wealthy to pay a little bit more" — as if this had much to do with the country's situation. Romney leaned on energy independence and the importance of small businesses, matters that actually are consequential.
Set against the great issues we face, in fact, an awful lot of Obama's election points look picayune, while not many of Romney's do. Obama for example wants mandatory coverage from health insurance for women's contraceptives. Since a month's supply of female contraceptive pills can be got for the price of a potted plant, why is this worth talking about?
Obama also skewed facts about himself, in a way now so routine nobody notices it any more. "I was raised by a single Mom," he said, as he's said often before. We-e-ell: Obama was born in 1961. His mother was single from January 1964 to March 1965, a total of one year and two months. She was otherwise married until Obama went to college. It's true that his father wasn't around much. It's also true, though, that his mother seems not to have been terribly interested in him; Obama was mostly raised by his grandparents. All right, it's a small point, but irritating.
Not half as irritating, though, as Obama's habit of referring to human beings in the plural as "folks." I just went through the debate transcript counting occurrences of the word "folks." There were 22 altogether, with the breakdown: Obama 17, Romney 3, moderator 2. So Obama is nearly six times as völkisch as Romney. I'll leave you to research for yourselves the history of the völkisch movement.
Obama isn't alone with this usage. It's chronic among our politicians, and not just among the lefties. Pat Buchanan, for example, says "folks" a lot. Could you all cut it out, please? We understand it's meant to signal your solidarity with the common man, as you ride in your chauffered limousine from one 15-bedroom mansion to another, but it just comes over to me as condescending and phony.
04 — Second presidential debate: immigration. In this debate we did at last get some talk about immigration; but all it revealed was that neither candidate has thought about this topic beyond vapid clichés.
To pick a subtopic at random: What is the evidence that we need more skilled immigrants, as Romney claimed? We have 310 million people (or folks …) here, and are at or near the top of world comparisons in per-student K-12 spending and college attendance. Is it not in fact the case that we have, or easily could have, all the skilled people we need, but that our employers prefer foreigners because they're cheaper?
To pick another subtopic: Family reunification. Why should this not be restricted to spouse and dependent children? Why are naturalized citizens allowed to bring in parents, siblings — including adult siblings — and adult children, including married ones? It's not a trivial question: more than half of foreigners accepted for settlement are in those categories.
I could tick off a dozen other immigration subtopics that are key determinants of the country my grandchildren will grow up in. The "diversity" lottery, for instance, which makes no sense at all. Even pro-immigration types laugh and shake their heads when you bring it up.
Yet neither candidate in Tuesday's debate addressed any of these subtopics, any one of which weighs a thousand time more in the scales of national interest than insurance-company coverage of birth control pills. They just blathered on with the weary old clichés about, quote, "nation of immigrants," and, quote, "pathway to citizenship," and how they'd, quote, "fix the broken system."
If you could sum up the overall tenor of their remarks, it amounted to: "This is how I'd make the immigration system better for foreigners." My enthusiastic vote would go to the politician, if there even is one, who'd tell us how he'd make the immigration system better for AMERICANS. We're not electing the President of the World here.
Just a footnote here on Tuesday's debate: A number of listeners have emailed in to ask whether the moderator, one Candy Crowley not formerly known to me, is related in any way to my own talented and diligent research assistant Candy. I can assure you there is no blood relationship at all. In physical resemblance, too, the distinctly zaftig Ms. Crowley could hardly be more different from my svelte assistant, who keeps herself trim and lissom with strenuous sessions of zumba on the beach.
05 — Angela does Greece. We live a pretty uneventful life here on the island. The election for mayor of the village is in a quiet phase, with polls showing the incumbent, Mayor Papakonstantinou, well ahead of the challenger, Nikki Nicolaides, especially since the recent distribution of free cellphones by the Mayor, the so-called Papakonstantinouphones.
Other than that, and the occasional scandal involving a drunken peasant and a goat, the kind of thing that happens in any rural area, nothing much disturbs the even tenor of our lives.
On the Greek mainland things are different. Angela Merkel came visiting last week, with a large contingent of bodyguards. She surely needed them: Since Germany occupied Greece in WW2, Germans have not been popular here. However, Frau Merkel got out alive after delivering a speech. To understand the speech, you need a little background.
The story so far: Greek taxpayers, both private and corporate, have been gaming the system for years. The Greek economy is sluggish and uncompetitive. Every Greek's dream is to have a government job, and the government has obliged with a lot of bureaucratic make-work. Sluggish economy, overweight government: not a recipe for economic success. The national balance sheet wasn't balancing, so the Greeks borrowed heavily from European banks to make up the difference, advertising their creditworthiness to the lenders with a lot of phony statistics.
Now, the trouble with borrowing is, you have to pay back what you borrowed. When it became clear that the Greeks were hovering on the edge of default, that created a crisis for the lending banks, which created a crisis for the whole Eurozone. A bailout package was arranged, but of course it came with conditions. For each tranche of bailout cash — the next one is coming up in November — the Greeks have to cut back public spending some more.
The biggest chunk of the bailout cash is coming from Germany, so Greek-German relations are at the core of the Eurozone crisis.
The Greeks are going for emotional blackmail, reminding Germany that the austerity and unemployment of the Weimar years in Germany brought down democracy there eighty years ago. Meanwhile factions in Greek political parties, and one entire party, are arguing for the country to just renege on its debts and end the austerity regime. In Germany, correspondingly, there is serious fed-upness with the Greeks, seen by many Germans as lazy and corrupt.
Frau Merkel's visit was meant to pour some oil on these troubled waters. She cooed to Greek Prime Minister Samaras that, quote, "Although it's tough, this path will pay off for Greece," end quote. She compared the mending of Greece's relations with the Eurozone to East Germany's reuniting with the West after the Iron Curtain disappeared.
That's all very well, except for one critical fact: the Greeks are not Germans, not even East Germans. You have to think this won't end well. Demonstrators were out in the streets of Athens this week, lobbing Molotov cocktails at police.
06 — The case against Europe. And that's only a piece of the Eurozone crisis. For different reasons, more to do with private-sectors wages over-inflated by private borrowing than government jobs paid for with public borrowing, Spain and Italy are wobbling on the edge of the fiscal precipice.
Now top bureaucrats of the European Union believe they have located the fundamental problem behind the Euro-crisis. The fundamental problem, they have decided, is … there aren't enough EU bureaucrats!
They accordingly decided, on Thursday this week, to establish a single supervisor, a banking czar, to supervise all the banks of the 17 Eurozone nations. He will report to the EU. Actual national governments will be out of the loop. There is also talk of a budget czar, also reporting to the EU, to supervise public spending and taxes in the various nations.
The logic isn't bad under the present crisis conditions, but these ideas amount to a further draining-away of national sovereignty into the EU superstate. That's going to create problems.
All right-thinking Europeans have believed for sixty years that economic co-operation among European nations would lead to a politically integrated continent in which the dreadful wars of the previous age would no longer be possible. That was not a contemptible dream, and there is much to be said for the more easy-going Europe of today, as against the bristling hostilities that led to the world wars.
The Euro-dream was, though, at odds with certain human realities. With all its defects and dangers, the nation-state is a stable and comfortable structure in which people who feel kinship of language, culture, and history can work out their destinies in freedom. It is not clear that the nation-state model can be scaled up, not the way the Europeans have been trying it.
It is in any case implausible that the nations of Europe, with their hedonistic lifestyles and below-replacement birthrates, would go to war with each other as they used to. Until WW2, Europeans never gave a thought to military challenges from elsewhere. If you had told a thoughtful, well-informed European in 1930 that the Islamic nations would pose a major threat to world peace within the lifetime of his children, he would have laughed in your face.
Until 50 years ago, non-Europeans were a joke to Europeans: shuffling darkies, inscrutable orientals, barefoot Muslim fellaheen. Europeans, smug in their racial superiority, could expend their excess energies on shooting and bombing each other without worrying about the capital-O Other.
Nobody thinks like that now. Muslims are a terrorist and nuclear threat. Africans are a demographic threat, piling into boats to cross the Mediterranean. China and India are economic threats, out-manufacturing and out-selling the Europeans. Any European of today can see that a major European war would amount to race suicide. Not gonna happen.
So, what's the rationale for European Union? Why not stick with nation-states, if wars between them are now unthinkable?
07 — The Germans are German. Following on from that, why is Germany in a position to boss other Euro-nations around? What accounts for German success?
Contrary to common belief, Germans are not at all hard-working. The OECD statistical office puts out tables of average hours worked for the 34 OECD countries. Care to guess Germany's rank? They are number 33, with only Norwegians working less. An average American works 1,787 hours a year; an average German, 1,411 — 21 percent less. The average Greek works more than two thousand hours!
German work-hours are not even that productive: only $55 per hour worked, against our 60 and Norway's 82. (Though here Greece is way behind: $34 per hour worked.) So why are Germans so smug and prosperous? Because they organize their affairs exceptionally well, that's why. They don't work hard, but they work smart.
For example, note the following, from a BBC News report. Long quote.
More important still to Germany's industrial strength is the country's education system.
End long quote. So instead of fetishizing college education, instead of encouraging youngsters to go a quarter million in debt for a degree in lawyering or Art History or Grievance Studies, the German system tells them to acquire a useful practical skill in their mid-teens.
Can the U.S.A. learn something from this? No, of course not! Unthinkable! Everyone must go to college! It's a God-given right!
08 — New York goes up. New York City is in demand. Forbes magazine reports that the most expensive ZIP code in the U.S.A. to buy a home is now 10065, a neighborhood in the 60s east of Central Park. Median asking price: six and a half million dollars.
The demand is not only from rich home-buyers, either. New York is very popular with Muslim terrorists. The World Trade Center site makes the point rather obviously, but the popularity of New York with jihadists goes back further than that: to the World Trade Center truck bomb of 1993 and the Brooklyn Bridge shooting of 1994.
It didn't stop with 9/11, either. Since then there have been 14 terrorist plots against New York known to have been planned or attempted. That's the ones made known to the public, anyway. Goodness knows if there have been others we haven't been told about for good national-security reasons.
Well, this week saw another attempt on New York. A 21-year-old Bangladeshi, Quazi Mohammed Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, admitted to the U.S.A. on a student visa, planned to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank building downtown. The FBI somehow got on to him and put undercover agents in his way to "help" with the plot.
The explosion Nafis was aiming for would have been on the scale of the Oklahoma City attack in 1995. Aside from the physical destruction, the result might have had serious economic consequences: the Fed building holds 7,000 tons of gold belonging to various nations. That's about $350 billion worth at current prices.
Wednesday morning this week, Nafis parked his truck bomb in Liberty Street outside the Fed building, went to a nearby hotel room, and dialed the detonator number. Instead of setting off the bomb, though, his action only tripped an indicator in the truck proving that he'd tried to. He was promptly arrested and taken to federal court for arraignment.
It all sounds a bit comical when you read about it. This was a half-brained nitwit with very grand ideas. In a recorded conversation with the undercover agents this summer, he said, quote: "I want something very big. Very very very very big, that will shake the whole country … that will make us one step closer to run the whole world. I want to do something that brothers coming after us can be inspired by us." End quote.
It isn't really comical at all, though. We're not going to dodge every bullet. Sooner or later one of these Muslim lunatics will get lucky, and hundreds will die. Perhaps some of those who die will be people who paid 6½ million dollars for an apartment in ZIP 10065 uptown.
The solution is perfectly simple: Keep foreign Muslims out of our country, and encourage those already here to leave. That is of course unthinkable — even more unthinkable than putting our 15-year-olds into vocational training. It would be so unfair to foreigners.
Again, though, perhaps we should quit worrying so much about what's good for foreigners, and give more thought to what's good for Americans. Every single one of those 14 terrorist plots against New York since 9/11 was organized by Islamists. Is this an acceptable price to pay for the benefits of allowing mass settlement of Muslims in our country? And what exactly are those benefits, anyway?
09 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items. Very brief this week, ladies and gentlemen, as we're running out of time.
Imprimis: Let's contemplate the Japanese. Japan is kind of a non-country news-wise, the occasional earthquake or tsunami aside. They're there, though, and they are, among other things, cheap. As a fiscal conservative, I intend that as a compliment.
How cheap are the Japanese? Well, the blogger who calls himself Audacious Epigone crunched some numbers on the World Values Survey to come up with a table of nations listed by their generosity in the matter of foreign aid.
For the metric, people in various countries were asked what they thought of 0.1 percent — one part in a thousand — of their own country's national income being devoted to foreign aid. Zero point one percent: too low, or two high? The percentage of respondents saying "too high" was subtracted from the percent saying "too low" for what Audacious calls a Sucker Score. The higher your country's score, the more keen you are to see its wealth shoveled into the Swiss bank accounts of Third World dictators.
Japan was at the very bottom of the table with the only negative score, minus 1.6. Just above them at next to last, I am proud to say, was the U.S.A. … U.S.A.! … U.S.A.! … U.S.A.! …
Item: A related item here: The cable TV channel TLC this week started a new series titled "Extreme Cheapskates." Nothing to do with national comparisons, this program showcases individuals who practice extreme frugality.
They found a real doozy for the opening show: a New York City lady, a working accountant, who spends $15 a month on food, zero on clothing, and 17 cents a month on toiletries. That's for toothpaste: she uses no other toiletries, not even toilet paper. That's not as bad as it sounds: she cleans up in the shower, and also washes her clothes there.
She jogs to work, dumpster-dives for food, and socks away $5,000 a month in savings. Her name is, wait for it, … Kate Hashimoto.
Item: Just time here to note two remarkable achievements in the human realm. A 43-year-old Austrian, Felix Baumgartner, broke the sound barrier in nothing but a spacesuit, after free-falling from 24 miles up.
Meanwhile Keith Levasseur of Howard County, Maryland ran the Baltimore Marathon, the full 26 miles, in flip-flops. His time was not bad, either: 2 hours 38 minutes, placing him 29th of over 3,000 competitors.
Congratulations to both these gents, and I hope I got them in the right order. I mean, I hope the one guy didn't break the sound barrier in flip-flops and the other run the marathon in a spacesuit. Too late to check: we're way out of time.
10 — Signoff. So that's it for this week, ladies and gents.
If I may share a personal experience with you: A generous friend invited me along to the Metropolitan Opera to see Il trovatore on Wednesday. I jumped on a plane and flew right over. Il trovatore is a lovely romantic Italian opera, perhaps the romantic Italian opera: jealousy, vengeance, mistaken identity, and thwarted love. The bit that even non-opera lovers know is the anvil chorus from Act Two. Here's a bit of it, Zubin Mehta conducting.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Zubin Mehta, "Anvil Chorus"]