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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your Olympically genial host John Derbyshire with some drive-by reporting of the week's news, courtesy of Taki's Magazine.
It's warm and sunny here on Taki's private island in the wine-dark Aegean, but I have been getting reports from my lady back in Long Island that they've been having one snow storm after another. I can't help but be a bit worried about her out there alone. Fortunately Miguel the pool boy volunteered to stay on and look after the estate through the winter. Mrs. Derbyshire tells me Miguel has been most assiduous at thawing out her pipes and keeping her boiler well stoked, so here's a grateful shout-out to Miguel — Thanks, amigo! Meanwhile the snow continues. Mrs. D. tells me she got nine inches last night. Just try to stay warm, Honey!
OK, let's see what's been happening around the globe.
02 — Boehner gets an earful. In the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith tells his diary that, quote, "If there is hope it lies in the proles." In that spirit, I did a piece for VDARE.com back in May last year titled "If There Is Hope, It Lies In The Comment Threads."
In support of that idea, a friend has alerted me to House Speaker John Boehner's website, which has a page headed "Draft Standards for Step-by-Step Immigration Reform," dated February 3rd. That page has a comment thread hanging off it, and when I looked at the page on Thursday there were well over six thousand comments. I read through the first few dozen of them. One or two were lukewarmly supportive of so-called immigration reform; all the others were angrily hostile.
The commonest themes in these comments were:
A lot of commenters are also keen for the U.S. government to secure the borders. I hope everyone understands that securing the borders should include a good entry-exit database for people who enter the country lawfully then overstay their visas. That's somewhere between a quarter and a half of illegal aliens, nobody knows exactly.
The sentiment on these comment threads is overwhelming. Where are the boosters of so-called "immigration reform"? Don't they contribute to comment threads? Or are they too busy stuffing wads of cash into the pockets of congressroaches? — you know, people like John Boehner.
03 — Winter Olympics anti-commentary. The Sochi Winter Olympics roll on, without any major incident so far … And thank goodness for that, as the phrase "major incident" in this context would most likely mean something horrible.
I gave over two segments to the Sochi events in last week's broadcast, so I'll be sparing here. I'll perforce be more than sparing, in fact. I know zilch about winter sports, said what I have to say about Putin's Russia last week, and lost interest in the whole shebang about halfway through the opening ceremony.
From what I saw of the ceremony, it wasn't bad — nothing like as dry-heaves awful as the London Summer Olympics, anyway.
I perked up when they did that thing about going through the Russian alphabet, as it gave me an opportunity to show off to the girls here, calling out the name of the next letter before it came up. This backfired a bit, as the Russian alphabet I memorized was of course the pre-revolutionary one, and the commies dropped a few letters. Where was і? Where were ѳ and ѵ? I tell you, it's no fun being a reactionary.
Something I've always wondered here: After the commies abolished those old pre-revolutionary letters, did Russian editions of War and Peace come out shorter? Just curious. Email in and tell me if you know.
After the opening ceremony, far as I am concerned it was all downhill … as it were. The girls prepared some stuff for me, but it just made my eyes glaze over. I don't even know what some of these sports are. Halfpipe? What's halfpipe? Sounds like something to do with illegal drugs. "Yah, I did a halfpipe of really good stuff last night, I was still a little high at breakfast …"
There's always race and sex to talk about of course. The race angle was covered by some nitwit in the Washington Post, an ethnomasochist white guy who whined that, quote, "this place is whiter than an episode of Downton Abbey," and then that, quote, "Aside from the large contingent of Asian athletes and a smattering of Jamaican bobsledders and Tongans, the Opening Ceremonies' Parade of Nations is as white as a von Trapp family reunion," and then that, quote, "it would be nice to see a country like the United States have its Winter Olympic team someday more accurately represent the diversity of its population."
To establish his credentials for scolding the Olympics over lack of diversity, the nitwit tells us that he, quote, "spent my formative years in a real melting pot: rural Oahu, Hawaii, where diversity in ethnicity and culture are part of island life," end quote. Hmm. He doesn't tell us which zip code in rural Oahu he was raised, so I looked a few of them up at random on the U.S. Census database. Zip 96792? 1.3 percent black. 96701? 1.7 percent black. 96717? 0.8 percent black. Wow; a real little tropical Harlem over there.
No, I don't have any theory as to why there are so few black Americans competing in the Olympics. Perhaps they prefer to stay home with their halfpipes, what do I know?
The sex angle was of course the Russian ban on homosexualist propaganda, which occasioned a few small protests and a lot of moralistic harrumphing in the American press. I'm with the Russians on this one.
No, I'm not one of those traditionalists who think Vladimir Putin is a white knight riding out to rescue Western Civilization from decadence. I don't think I have any illusions about Putin, a cynical ex-KGB desk-wallah. I do agree with homosexualist propaganda being banned, though. Homosexuality is unhealthy and antisocial, especially in a country like Russia with a too-low birthrate.
And notice please that as always I distinguish between on the one hand homosexuality, which is just a tendency that some people have, that they most likely can't help and ought to be free to indulge in private, jolly good luck to them; and on the other hand homosexualism, which is an ideology, an -ism, centered around the aggressive public promotion of homosexuality. I believe in liberty and privacy. Do what you like behind your own front door, but don't go out there propagandizing and advertising what ought to be kept private.
In this respect, anyway, Putin's a democrat, as respectable opinion polls — and there are now such polls in Russia — show that most Russians agree with him, and me.
04 — Death of an addict. Every so often I get a reminder of how clueless I am in matters related to showbiz and celebrities. This happened recently with the February 2nd death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman at the age of 46.
When his name showed up in the news, it totally failed to register with me. I consulted Mrs. Derbyshire, who is showbiz-savvy. She said I had seen Hoffman in some feature about Truman Capote. If she says so, it must be true, but I have no recollection of the feature.
So it was a bit disconcerting to see all the news coverage of the guy's death. It went on and on for days. When a person you never heard of is that famous, it may be time to retire to a hut in the mountains somewhere and practice yoga.
Apparently Hoffman was a heroin addict and died of an overdose. He actually had a needle stuck in his arm when they found his body. There was some commentary in the news stories about how the guy was, quote, "haunted by demons," and such, and about how we should feel sorry for him because addiction is an illness.
All of which leaves me thinking that we just don't have an agreed vocabulary for talking about addiction. Nobody believes in actual demons, of course; it's just a figure of speech, a way of saying he had a troubled mind. As for calling addiction an illness, that's absurd. What's the agent of transmission of this illness: a bacterium or a virus? All right, perhaps it's an illness like anemia or cancer, where the body's short of something, or cells are malfunctioning. What's the deficiency? Which cells are misbehaving?
Addiction is just a style of self-destructive behavior, with roots probably part innate, part environmental. Think of all the people like me who have never tried any serious narcotic. Some proportion of us, if we did try it, would become addicts, because of some predisposition in the genes that shape personality. The predisposition is the innate part; the opportunity to try it the environmental part.
That's the case for making it difficult and socially disapproved to even try narcotics — a case for keeping them illegal. I agree with that case so far as serious narcotics like heroin are concerned.
There are metaphysical issues here, too, to which the neuroscientists might direct their attention. In my book We Are Doomed I quoted Schopenhauer's remark about free will, quote: "We can do what we want, but we can't want what we want." You have a desire: you're free to act on that desire, or not to. Unfortunately you're not free to decide whether or not to have the desire. That's the addict's trap. He can stop taking the stuff — Hoffmann was apparently clean for years on end — but he can't stop wanting to take it.
Please don't think I'm without sympathy. I had a friend once, decades ago in England, who was a heroin addict. I asked him why. He said: "If you could take something that made you really, really happy, just not minding anything, not troubled by anything, for hours and hours, wouldn't you take it?" I said perhaps I would, but weren't the intervals between the spells of happiness pure hell? He said they were, but that just made you want another fix.
That's not hard to understand, but it's awful to see a person like my friend — intelligent and talented — destroy his life. Until the brain scientists can come up with some way to kill the wanting, though, the best we can do is keep the stuff as outlawed and inaccessible as possible.
I see they have someone in custody they think was Hoffman's dealer. Give the guy 25 to life, I say.
05 — Afghans on the make. I can't believe I'm still talking about Afghanistan. For goodness sake get our guys out of there. Their entire functional purpose at this point, indeed at any point in the past ten years, has been to shore up Hamid Karzai's Swiss bank account.
As if it wasn't bad and stupid enough that we're sending young Americans to get killed and maimed by towel-head fanatics to no purpose, our fool politicians compound the folly by shipping thousands of Afghans over here to our country as refugees. Here's a story about some of them.
First a quote from WNYT out of Albany, New York, February 4th. Quote:
Three people are arrested, accused of defrauding the Department of Social Services of $10,000 …
Those are all Afghan names there. So we've got a married couple and their son, all arrested for ripping off the welfare services. And the husband was a translator working for the Army at 3,000 bucks a week. So far, so good.
After arrest, the husband was processed and transported to the Albany County Correctional Facility pending his arraignment in Albany County Court. Here's what happened next, quote from the community website New York Citizen One, February 6th, quote:
His arraignment before the Honorable Supreme Court Judge Thomas Breslin unfortunately had to be postponed when Mr. Hayatullah requested an Afghanistan interpreter. His arraignment was rescheduled for today and he was arraigned on Grand Larceny Third Degree, and four counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree. At this time bail has not been set.
End quote. You get that? This guy, an Afghan translator working for the U.S. Army for 75 bucks an hour, wants an interpreter!
How about we save the taxpayer a few dollars here? Instead of wasting all this time and money on criminal proceedings and incarceration, how about 3 seats on a C130 back to the Hindu Kush?
06 — Solution to global warming: foreign aid! Here's a story that's all too revealing about the mindset of our globalist political classes, the lofty beings who dwell in an aery realm far above our petty, selfish concerns, and are ready to do anything at all — at our expense, of course — for any country at all, except their own.
The overlord here is a well-upholstered specimen named Eric Pickles. First off, stop sniggering about the name. In common with "Derbyshire" and a handful of others, Pickles is one of those surnames that marks an Englishman as distinctively northern. My people come from Lancashire; Mr. Pickles is from Yorkshire.
At present Mr. Pickles is a Conservative Member of Parliament over there, and holds a cabinet position in David Cameron's government. He's the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. I have no clue what responsibilities that involves, but it suggests some concern with the lives of ordinary citizens and their trifling, meaningless lives.
The background to this story is the catastrophic flooding that's been afflicting southern England and Wales the past few days. Whole areas are under water. Roads are impassable, railroads have shut down, power stations have ceased operating, farms have flooded fields and stranded livestock, homes and property have been destroyed. It's a real disaster.
There's an upstart political party, the U.K. Independence Party — UKIP — that wants immigration controlled, Britain out of the European Union, and other government policies directed at the interests of Britain's own people rather than foreigners. Commenting on these terrible floods, the UKIP party leader Nigel Farage said the other day that money should be diverted from Britain's foreign aid programs to help the people in flooded areas of Britain.
Sensible enough, you might think. Britain's foreign aid budget, like America's, is hard to read about without screaming and tearing your hair out. It just makes no sense. For example, Britain gives 400 million dollars a year in aid to India, a nation with a space program and nuclear weapons.
Foreign aid is, however, a major obsession with the globalist elites, the most cherished of their pet programs. They are all addled with guilt about the relative wealth of their countries — doubly so in the case of the Brits, who regard the British imperialism of the last century with shame and embarrassment. Radio Derb to the contrary sees British imperialism as a great civilizing force … which is one reason I never get invited to address the Davos Conference or the U.N.
So here was Secretary Pickles last weekend, asked on a TV program what he thought of the UKIP leader's suggestion that foreign aid money should be diverted to help his flood-stricken countrymen. Here was his response, actual let-them-eat-cake quote:
It's an easy hit, its [a] populist hit. We will be able to do all this without having to touch the aid budget. And if it is truly global warming, and our aid is sustainable aid, then aid that we are offering in other parts of the world will have an effect in terms of the things that happen in this country.
End quote. Executive summary: The way to help British people whose houses and farms are underwater is to send taxpayers' money to Pakistan and Tanzania, because that will stop global warming.
I don't know how you could pack the condescension, detachment from ordinary life, and love-the-world romanticism of our political classes into any fewer words than that.
For sure a lot of Britons are fed up with it. There was a special election for a safe Labour Party seat in Manchester this week. Turnout was miserably low — less than thirty percent. Labour held the seat, but UKIP came second, pushing the Conservatives into third place. A lot of people over there want their country back, and a government that puts the interests of its own citizens before the interests of foreigners.
07 — Big Oil embraces global warming. There may be something interesting happening on the global warming front, though I'm working here from a single data point.
The data point is an article by investigative journalist McKenzie Funk. Mr. Funk has a new book out, title Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming. Haven't read the book, but I did read this promotional article about it.
Funk's thesis is that the big oil companies are all converts to global warming and are figuring how to make money out of it. Sample quote:
One need only read Exxon's website to know that the company that once funneled tens of millions of dollars to climate skeptics has had a change of heart: "ExxonMobil believes that it is prudent … to develop and implement strategies that address the risks to society associated with increasing [greenhouse gas] emissions."
Some of this is just cynical calculation that since global warming hysteria seems to be pretty well entrenched in big-government and globalist circles, the oil companies may as well play into it. As the article says about Shell Oil, quote: "Ultimately, Shell's embrace of climate science comes from the same place as Exxon's: Realism is good for shareholders." End quote. And then, some of it has been awakened by the opportunities for drilling in newly-accessible Arctic territories.
By all means buy Mr. Funk's book and see what he has to say for yourself. Here's my thought. On the assumption, that I've always taken for granted, that a lot of the contrarian opinion about global warming is funded by the oil companies — those tens of millions of dollars Funk mentioned — if Big Oil really has had a change of heart, that funding should dry up and we should hear less from the contrarians. I'll be interested to see if this happens.
And just a footnote here on my own position. I defined it last week as affirmative on warming, agnostic on the causes, negative on alarmism and hysteria. I got a lot of email and read it all carefully. As a result, there's been a shift in my position. Hey, there's no disgrace in changing your mind in response to persuasive arguments.
I'm still affirmative on warming and negative on big globalist programs to counter it. I'm no longer agnostic on causes though. Yes, I'm persuaded that at least some of the warming is due to human activity. So instead of affirmative, agnostic, negative, now put me down as affirmative, guardedly affirmative, and negative.
Oh, and one more footnote: If you put McKenzie Funk's name into the YouTube search box, you can watch a 20-minute conference presentation he gave on his ideas. I'll warn you, though, that it's not a very good presentation. Mr. Funk really needs to work on his public speaking.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Jay Leno wound up his 22 years hosting the Tonight show last Thursday. If I were to tell you this touched me deeply, I'd be telling you an untruth. I couldn't swear that I've ever watched one of Jay's Tonight shows all the way through. I have often stayed up late enough to catch his monologue, though, and occasionally the next segment — the walkabout, or the headlines. I'm pretty much allergic to showbiz celebrities, so I'd switch off and go to bed when the guests came on.
To the slight degree that I care, though, I'd put myself down as pro-Leno, and sorry to see him go. For one thing, all the hip elites sneered at him. He wasn't edgy enough for them. What they're against, I'm instinctively for. In any case, they're missing the point. I'll chuckle at an edgy comedian if I'm having a night out at a comedy club, but that's not what I, or most other Americans, want in our living-rooms last thing at night.
The whole edginess thing is a bit of a fraud, anyway. "Edgy" means you kick at bourgeois values. If you kick at the values of the hip elites, you're not edgy, you're evil. You could ask Michael Richards about that.
And then, from what we know of his personality, Leno is a WYSIWYG guy — what you see is what you get. He seems like a decent, good-natured American regular guy with no hidden depths and a stable, happy private life. It makes you wonder what he's doing in showbiz at all.
So long, Jay, and thanks for the laughs. I hope you made a ton of money; I wouldn't begrudge you a penny of it. If you ever decide to take Mavis on an Aegean cruise, drop me a line beforehand, I'll show you round the studio. Goatburgers on me.
Item: Just one more on the Sochi Olympics. Last week I noted some signs that the Games might be a frost, which is to say a social failure. That seems to be the case. The extremely cool Daily Mail Online showed a whole battery of photographs of 99 percent empty stadiums. Quote from them, quote:
Photographs of Olympic venues show that entire banks of seats are practically deserted, while the one or two fans who did struggle out to see the world-class sporting events wrap up against the cold.
End quote. It seems to have been the outdoor events they were talking about. The figure-skating arena was jam-packed with Russians cheering on the Russian competitors.
Ah, it's not like the old days. Joe Stalin would have known how to fill those seats: Just have the Red Army round up a few thousand peasants, ship them to Sochi in cattle cars, and drive them into the stands at bayonet point. Say what you like about totalitarianism, but it doesn't tolerate empty stadiums.
Item: If you'd been able to choose where to be born, Norway would have been a pretty good choice. Norway is pretty, rich, and has a small population. The wealth comes from oil in the North Sea.
The Norwegian government's looking out for its people, too. They have used tax revenues from the oil to buy up around one percent of the entire world's stocks, along with bonds and real estate all over the globe. This is their sovereign wealth fund, now worth about $800 billion. Since the fund is under the common ownership of all Norway's five million citizens, that's $160,000 per head. If you convert to Norwegian Kroner, every Norwegian is a Kroner millionaire.
I really wish I could imagine a U.S. government showing that much prudent concern for the future of its citizens, but I can't.
There's an immigration dimension here, too. Shocking to report, Norwegians see no reason why they should share their good fortune with the whole world.
Last weekend the people of Switzerland voted in a referendum to limit immigration from other European countries now that Bulgarians and Romanians have free access to EU labor markets. (Switzerland is not in the EU, so they can do this.)
Responding to that, a spokesman for the Progress Party, which is part of Norway's ruling coalition, told a newspaper that Norway should likewise have a vote on restricting immigration. Quote from him: "I am quite sure that there is majority support for tightening immigration across Norway's political parties. The polls show that." End quote.
That's got me pining for the fjords …
Item: Finally, a delicious little item from down in Raleigh, North Carolina. As you probably know, the Democrats have been making a big fuss about laws requiring voters to show photo i.d. at the polls. This is a distant aftershock from the Florida vote cliffhanger in the year 2000 presidential election, after which the Democrats redoubled their efforts to get dead people, illegal aliens, and people too disorganized and feckless to own any photo i.d., all to the polls to vote for them. Voter i.d. laws work against all these efforts.
Well, last year the North Carolina state legislature passed a voter i.d. law. Last Saturday the NAACP organized a march through Raleigh to protest that law, among other things.
Ahead of the march the NAACP organizers sent out a flyer titled "Important Do's and Don'ts for Marchers." Halfway down the list of do's and don'ts came this, quote:
Do bring photo identification (driver's license, passport or other valid photo ID) with you and keep it on your persons at all times.
End quote. As the cliché has it: You can't make this stuff up.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents.
Going through the scripts the girls prepared for this week's broadcast, I tried as usual to think of some music clip to close with that I could key to one of my topics. I came up a total blank, so I'm just going to proceed by whim and give you a snippet of Edith Piaf singing "La vie en rose," (a) because it's my show and I can do what I like, and (b) because I think it's one of the half-dozen loveliest pop songs ever recorded.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: Edith Piaf, "La vie en rose."]
Quand il me prend dans ses bras
Il me parles tout bas
Je vois la vie en rose …
[When he takes me in his arms,
He speaks to me softly —
I see life in pink……]