[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your acoustically genial host John Derbyshire, broadcasting to you from TakiMag's private island in the sunny Aegean.
I should actually say moony Aegean. It's a lovely warm evening here, the moon is almost full, so I have brought some essential recording equipment out into the olive grove behind the studio for an al fresco broadcast. That faint rustling you hear is a light breeze stirring in the olive trees, occasional voices in the distance are those of young couples from the village strolling together under the moonlight, and you may, if you listen very attentively, catch the gentle susurrations of waves breaking on the beach nearby.
And yes, my diligent and faithful research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy are out here with me, monitoring the recording levels, keeping my glass topped up, and making sure my equipment doesn't get damp. Right, girls? [Girls: "Of course!"]
Excellent. Let us proceed.
02 — Meet the Donorist Party! The American Worker Displacement Bill, otherwise known as the Billionaire Further Enrichment Bill, otherwise known as the Schumer-Rubio Elect a New People Bill, otherwise known as the Amnesty and Immigration Surge Bill, continued its progress through the U.S. Senate this week, like some great implacable beast. There are a few more spears sticking in its thick hairy hide, but they haven't slowed it down much.
So the monster lumbers on forward, with Harry Reid saying he wants a vote in the chamber before the July 4th recess. Big news this week was a report out of the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, evaluating key aspects of the bill.
Mention of the CBO usually comes prefixed with the Homeric epithet "nonpartisan." Whether the CBO is as nonpartisan as it's advertised to be, and what exactly "nonpartisan" means anyway on an issue where both big parties are on the same side, I shall leave for you to ponder.
The CBO report sure seems to have given pleasure all round. It gave pleasure to supporters of the amnesty bill by claiming that the bill's effect will be to reduce the federal deficit by $200 billion over the next ten years, and by another $700 billion over the following ten. The federal deficit, just to remind you, is the excess of federal spending over federal revenues — $1.1 trillion dollars in fiscal 2012, so the ten-year reduction they're talking about is two percent a year.
For opponents of the bill, the report gave pleasure by confirming what we all knew anyway: that adding an instant 12 to 20 million legal workers to the labor force, and then supplementing that further by big increases in legal immigration, will depress the wages of citizens who have jobs and make it harder for those who don't have jobs to get one. Lower- and higher-skilled workers will be affected worse than those in the middle, says the report. Not sure what that means: I guess something like, if you drive a forklift truck or program computers, get ready to see your lifestyle go off a cliff, whereas if you shuffle papers for the Department of Administrative Affairs, you won't feel more than a mild bump. Anyway, not to worry: the CBO says these negative effects will abate by around the year 2025. So that's all right then.
OK, hands up those students who give any credence at all to numbers out of Washington predicting what the nation's fiscal and economic circumstances will be in twelve and twenty years' time? Anybody? No? Oh ye of little faith!
The CBO report gives some further satisfaction to enemies of the bill by admitting that only about 25 percent of future illegal immigration would be halted by the bill if enacted. That would mean seven and a half million new illegal immigrants over the next 10 years, giving us a whole new population to amnesty down the road.
Possibly reacting to that, two Republican Senators, Hoeven of North Dakota and Corker of Tennessee, have fudged up the border security provisions in the bill so that it promises, cross our hearts and hope to die, to build the 700 miles of border fence that Congress promised, cross their hearts and hope to die, to build back in 2006, but never did. This fell a bit flat when Chris Crane, President of the union representing immigration law-enforcement officers, said it would make no difference unless we tackled interior enforcement, which nobody much is talking about.
It is ever more clear that this bill is being driven forward by business and ethnic lobbies who (a) very much want amnesty of illegals, and (b) very much do not want enforcement of immigration law at any level above the present very feeble one.
If you thought there were two political parties in the Senate, Republicans and Democrats, you were wrong. There is only one party, the Donor-ist Party. When Sheldon Adelson and La Raza crack the whip, members of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body jump into line.
03 — O Rubio! One interesting sidebar story to the immigration bill's is the deflation of Marco Rubio, who once upon a time was the rising star of the GOP, the nonthreatening Hispanic who would deliver the Latino vote.
The Rubio blimp lost a whole lot more gas this week when The New Yorker magazine published a long insider analysis of the immigration bill by reporter Ryan Lizza. The key passage comes three-fifths of the way through Lizza's piece. He's describing some maneuverings back in March. Key players here are Leon Fresco, an aide to Senator Chuck Schumer, and Enrique Gonzalez, an aide to Marco Rubio. Longish quote:
Fresco and Gonzalez helped to unlock the deal with labor and the Chamber of Commerce. The two biggest sticking points were wages for foreign workers (the unions wanted them to be higher) and the objections of the Building and Construction Trades union, which argues that plenty of Americans are looking for this kind of work. Rubio sided with the Chamber against the construction workers. [Inner quote]: "There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can't cut it," a Rubio aide told me. "There shouldn't be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can't get it, can't do it, don't want to do it. And so you can't obviously discuss that publicly." [End inner quote.]
End quote. How did Rubio respond when that came out? Defensively. Quote from his spokescritter, quote: "We strongly objected to the magazine including that background quote in the piece because it's not what Sen. Rubio believes or has ever argued," end quote.
Hearing that, Ryan Lizza — that's the reporter who wrote the New Yorker story, remember — Ryan Lizza published the full transcript of his conversation with that Rubio aide. Alas for Rubio, it was even worse than the edited extract Lizza had put in the magazine piece, and it wasn't just one rogue aide saying the unsayable.
After the Rubio aide had uttered those words about Americans not being star performers, a second aide present had chimed in with, quote: "But the same is true for the high-skilled workers." And then aide number one had chimed back with, quote: "Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything."
I haven't heard Senator Rubio's comeback to that. Possibly he's gone to ground in the Okefenokee Swamp somewhere. If you'd like to call his Senate office to ask his people what they say, the number is 202-224-3041.
This whole episode fortified the impression we've all been getting the past few weeks, that Rubio is not very bright and Schumer is playing him for a patsy.
Possibly so. As an opera fan, I can never see Rubio's name without thinking of the last scene in Tosca, the fake fake execution scene. Tosca, the heroine, watches her lover, Cavaradossi, get executed. She's OK with it because she cut a deal with the chief of police to have him fake the execution just for public show. When the show's over, she and Cavaradossi can flee to safety. Unfortunately the chief of police has double-crossed her. The execution is not fake, it's real. Tosca doesn't realize this until she goes to her lover lying there after the executioner's departed, and tells him, "Up, Mario. Quickly. Come, come. Quickly."
When Tosca realizes she's been double-crossed, she is, quite understandably, somewhat distraught. Listen to Maria Callas.
[Callas: "Mario, su presto! Andiamo! … Su! … Ah! Morto! Morto! O Mario! …"]
Please don't imagine I wish any harm to Senator Rubio. I think he's done a shameful thing, helping to push this appalling bill in the Senate, but I think he's done it from stupidity, not malice. And as a matter of fact I think that Rubio, unlike Cavaradossi, will survive his current troubles and have a bright future. Stupidity is no bar to political advancement — How do you think we ended up with Joe Biden?
The numbers bear me out. In a Quinnipiac Poll released this Wednesday, 51 percent of Florida voters approved of Rubio's overall performance in office, versus 35 percent disapproving. Among Republicans, Rubio's overall rating is 81 percent favorable and only 5 percent unfavorable.
Quite the star performer, you might say.
04 — Whistleblower pushback. I've been getting some push-back from listeners on my comments last week about Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower … or, if you prefer, traitor.
Here's what I said, after some on-the-one-hand, on-the-other ruminations:
[Clip: "So yes, put me down as anti-Snowden. I don't want the guy boiled in oil, though. If I were the presiding judge in his case, I'd give him five years, with time off for good behavior, for violating the agreement he signed."]
That, please note, was on the way to my main point, which was: If we exercised more common sense about who we allow to settle in our country, and in particular denied settlement rights to Muslims, our government would have much less excuse for snooping on us.
Listener A objected to my comparing eavesdropping and data-mining technology to nuclear-weapons technology and saying that we had to master it because unfriendly powers will. There's no existential threat to us here, said Listener A, as there was with nukes.
I disagree. I think in fact we're close to a new doctrine of MAD — that's M-A-D, for "Mutual Assured Destruction." Nukes are so 20th-century. If you want to destroy a nation nowadays and kill tens of millions of its people, there's a cheap and clean way to do it. The Israelis showed the way with the Stuxnet computer virus that crippled several industrial installations in Iran two years ago, including one that processed nuclear fuel. It's not a giant step from there to disabling a nation's entire power generation and water supply software.
This is today's technology; snooping and counter-snooping is a key component of it; we need to be masters of it. We don't need to be using it against our own people, though; or at least we wouldn't, if we stopped pretending that anyone at all, from anywhere at all, becomes one of our people in any sense merely by the fact of taking up residence here.
Listener B hit me with some sturdy libertarianism. Our government, he said, is too strong to be safe. Quote: "Slaughter and mayhem seem to follow government everywhere it goes," end quote. Well, I can only restate my position: Libertarianism in one country. Maximum scrutiny at the borders, maximum liberty within the borders.
And even then there are things government must do, including unpleasant things. Bertrand Russell went to Lenin's Russia in 1920, then the next year to post-imperial China. Comparing the two experiences, he wrote: "I found the Russians suffering from too much government, the Chinese from too little." Just so. There is a proper point of balance.
05 — You cannot be Syrias! Cast your mind back seven hundred years to the seige of Béziers, in the south of France. This was during the crusade against the Albigensian heresy. The heretics held the city: the Pope's forces attacked it and broke in. The problem now arose: Obviously the heretics had to be killed, but how could you tell who was a heretic and who was orthodox? The crusaders asked Abbot Amalric, the Pope's main man on the spot. The Abbot famously replied: Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius — "Kill them all. God will know his own."
Sarah Palin was channeling Abbot Amalric the other day at the downtown Marriott in Washington, D.C. This was at the conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a Christian conservative group. Quote from the lady, in reference to the Syrian civil war, quote:
Until we have a Commander-in-Chief who knows what he's doing, well, let these radical Islamic countries who aren't even respecting basic human rights, where both sides are slaughtering each other as they scream over an arbitrary red line, 'Allah Akbar,' I say until we have someone who knows what they're doing, I say let Allah sort it out.
End quote. I entirely concur, although I wish Mrs. Palin had followed up with a warning about the flood of Syrian refugees that would inevitably follow a U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war. Just to remind you from last week's broadcast: of the 80,000 Iraqi refugees we've brought in, 67 percent are unemployed and 95 percent are on food stamps.
It's more than ever clear that the Syrian civil war is metastasizing into an intra-Islamic confessional war, Sunni versus Shi'a, with all the nations of the region sticking their oars in, at least diplomatically. Bashar Assad's little Alawite sect is seen as Shi'ite, so Iran is supporting him, so is Iran's cats-paw in Lebanon, Hezbollah. On the Sunni side you have the Saudis and all their hirelings, the Turks if they can spare time from their own domestic troubles, al Qaeda and their affiliates, and the Muslim Brotherhood rulers of Egypt. Israel is more vexed by Hezbollah, whose bases are just across Israel's northern border in Lebanon, than they are by any of the Sunni factions, so you can put them in the Sunni camp, too … which probably goes some way to explaining our preference.
Which is for the anti-Assad rebels. This week our President declared that we would be helping the rebels with arms and supplies, maybe even a no-fly zone to protect them from Assad's air force.
All right; but who are these rebels exactly? Well, here's a June 19 report from Reuters whose headline tells the tale, quote: Syria's Islamists seize control as moderates dither. Yes, the rebels contain moderate factions — not-very-religious social democrats in suits and ties. Our administration seems to think that by helping them, we can guide Syria into the sunlit uplands of parliamentary democracy. As the Reuters report tells us, though, the rebels include Sunni fundamentalist groups about whom the report has this to say, quote:
During a 10-day journey through rebel-held territory in Syria, Reuters journalists found that radical Islamist units are sidelining more moderate groups that do not share the Islamists' goal of establishing a supreme religious leadership in the country.
End quote. So we're betting on the moderates even as the extremists take control. It's a common enough mistake, speaking historically: A French King and a Russian Tsar come to mind. Never underestimate the power of wishful thinking.
A confessional civil war, then, metastasizing through the region. We don't, as my friend Andrew Stuttaford memorably said, we don't have a god in this fight. Mrs. Palin got it right: Let Allah sort them out.
06 — Endgame in Afghanistan. Tuesday this week was a big day in Afghanistan. It was the day we formally handed entire responsibility for fighting the Taliban over to the Afghan army. Quote from The New York Times, quote:
After Tuesday, these are supposed to be the rules everywhere: While American units may sometimes be close by, Afghan forces must operate without American air support, medical evacuation helicopters or partnered combat units. If they get in trouble, NATO will not be riding to the rescue, except in the most dire cases … From Tuesday on … the American military has decreed that no air support be available to Afghans unless an exception is approved by an officer holding a general's rank — and already, the anecdotal evidence indicates that such exceptions have been rare.
End quote. Hmm, wonder how that'll shake out? Hard to guess …
Also on Tuesday, the White House announced that we shall be going into direct talks with the Taliban, as Radio Derb has been urging for years. The talks, we are told, will go ahead without the preconditions we have attached up to now — mainly, that the Taliban foreswear any future support for al Qaeda. A formal rejection of al Qaeda by the Taliban leadership will now be a, quote, "negotiating aim" rather than a precondition for talks. We shall also seek a commitment from the Taliban to end its insurgency in Afghanistan and recognise women's rights in the country. [Laughter]
Still on that same day, Tuesday, the Taliban opened their office in Qatar — the office where negotiations with us will take place. Presiding at the opening ceremony, head muzzie Mohammad Sohail Shaheen said that the Taliban will continue to attack U.S. targets in Afghanistan while talks go on.
To reinforce his point, still on that same day, Tuesday, Taliban forces directed mortar fire into Bagram Air Force base, killing four American soldiers. Nice. You just know those negotiations will go really well.
President Obama, visiting Berlin to strike a JFK pose, allowed that, quote, "There were going to be some areas of friction, to put it mildly, in getting this thing off the ground. That's not surprising. They've been fighting there for a long time. There's enormous mistrust."
Yep, they've been fighting there for a long time. Now at last they've won. 2,149 Americans have been killed, sixteen hundred of them on Obama's watch. Nearly eighteen thousand have been wounded, some of them crippled, blinded, or maimed. All this, to no significant purpose.
Now we drift away. Karzai scuttles off to his palace in Dubai, the Taliban takes over, Afghanistan chalks up yet another victory over meddling foreigners, and we give refugee visas to fifty thousand or so Afghans, perhaps only a few hundred of them Islamist fanatics who detest us.
What a fiasco. What a waste. What a crime.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: A jury has been picked for the conviction — oops, sorry: I mean the trial — of George Zimmerman. It's comprised of five white women and one black-Hispanic woman.
I'm not clear how this is a jury of Zimmerman's peers; although I do feel pretty sure that if the jury had been all-male, we'd never have heard the last of it.
If I were Zimmerman, I don't think I'd be too happy about this. I mean, I think I'd want a couple of people on the jury who had some experience of close quarters fighting, if only at the level of a schoolyard scrap. Let's hope his lawyers know what they're doing; though with that black lady on the jury, it'll be a hung jury at best … just not very well hung. Sorry, sorry.
Back in 1957 there was a great movie with Henry Fonda and Jack Klugman, 12 Angry Men, about a homicide jury. I guess the 21st-century remake will be titled Six Diverse Women. You know, the remake is never half as good as the original.
Item: Make way for the next victim group: the uglies. This is one of those stories that make you wish you'd studied harder and got a job as a research academic.
A team from Michigan State University has done a study and concluded that ugly people — they actually say, quote, "people who are considered unattractive," end quote — are more likely to be belittled and bullied in the workplace. Whoever would have thought it?
In even more breathtaking news from this cutting-edge social science research, the Michigan study found that disagreeable and unfriendly workers were also treated more harshly than their co-workers. Quote: "Our findings revealed that both personality and appearance matter." Who knew?
I await the calls for affirmative action for uglies, establishment of the NAAUP — that is of course the National Association for the Advancement of Ugly People — and a demand for a retrial following George Zimmerman's conviction on the grounds there were no uglies on the jury.
Although, of course, the word "ugly" is way too harsh for the delicate sensibilities of our time. A nation that suffers nervous collapse when someone says "fat,""retarded," or "homosexual" is not going to stand for "ugly." We'll have to gentle it down to, perhaps, "homely."
So let's get that affirmative action for homely Americans going. Next time we need a Supreme Court Justice, for example, let's try to get a Homely American on the court. Oh, wait …
Item: Here's one from China. China's social policy generates a lot of mixed emotions among conservatives. On the one hand, it's intolerably intrusive into people's private lives, in a way Americans could not, and should not, stand for. On the other hand, you read one of these stories, shake your head in disapproval for a minute or two, then hear a little voice in your head saying: "Hey …"
Case in point: The city of Wuhan, in central China, is considering draft legislation to impose drastic fines — up to $25,000 — on women who have babies out of wedlock. That's about six times the annual disposable income in Wuhan. Some other Chinese cities and provinces already have similar regulations.
On the one hand of course that's a terrible imposition on low-class women and their families. The actual result will surely be more abortions, infanticides, and abandonments.
On the other hand, that report appeared just a few days after this one out of Richmond, Virginia, headline: 60 Percent of Richmond Families are Single-Parent. Among blacks the figure is eighty-six percent.
You can do a little arithmetic here. There are about 40,000 families in Richmond, about half of them black. Eighty-six percent of twenty thousand is seventeen thousand; sixty percent of forty thousand is twenty-four thousand; so seven thousand of the twenty thousand nonblack families are single parent, a nonblack rate of thirty-five percent.
Appalling. Thirty-five percent is appalling; eighty-six percent is beyond appalling: it's catastrophic.
See what I mean? I have actually lived under ChiCom rule, and believe me, the U.S.A. is way preferable. Still, at least the ChiComs are doing something about this horrible plague of bastardy, albeit in a crude, bludgeoning way. What are we doing?
08 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gents. Once again, I apologize for the outdoor effects; the moonlight was just too lovely to resist.
Having given you a brief clip of the great Maria Callas back there, I may as well let her do an encore. Here is the lovely aria, also from Tosca, titled Vissi d'arte: a woman in distress crying out, "Why me, God?"
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Callas, Vissi d'arte]