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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes listeners, this is your Brythonically genial host John Derbyshire with news from far and wide.
All is quiet here on Taki's private island in the sun-kissed Aegean, so let's proceed directly to the week's triumphs and disasters, glories and humiliations, zeniths and nadirs.
02 — Crashing disappointments. I've been remiss in keeping you up to date on the IRS scandals — the allegations that when the Tea Party movement came up in the middle of Obama's first term, the IRS gave them a hard time, delaying approval of their nonprofit status, subjecting them to unnecessary audits, and demanding ridiculous document dumps from them.
I gave you detailed coverage of the business last year in our May 18th broadcast, offering the opinion that neither Doug Shulman, the IRS commissioner at the time of the alleged malfeasances, nor Lois Lerner, who ran the nonprofit section of the IRS, was responsible. Neither had any track record in Obama-style lefty activism; both in fact were George W. Bush appointees. I blamed the permanent bureaucracy — the government people who have every reason to hate small-government lobbies like the Tea Parties.
The following week Ms. Lerner pleaded the Fifth Amendment before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, taking some of the shine off my opinion. Ms. Lerner was placed on administrative leave and resigned last September. By that time I had eaten crow here on Radio Derb — it's not bad, with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
Investigation into the scandals has continued. Last week the IRS told that same House Committee that there'd been a major hard drive crash on the relevant IRS computers in the summer of 2011, wiping out two years' worth of data. The Tea Party movement came up early in 2010, so those two years bracket the period of the scandal rather neatly — a bit too neatly, for those with suspicious minds.
All right, said the Committee, after taking technical advice; but an email has a sender and a receiver, and data can be recovered from nonfunctioning hard drives. Could we get the hard drives, please? And could the counterparties in these email exchanges with the IRS — which basically means the EOP, the Executive Office of the President, under the White House Chief of Staff — could they deliver up any emails they got in that critical period?
So sorry! said the IRS, those hard drives were destroyed, and we have no record of any backups. So sorry, said the White House on Wednesday. Actual quote from White House spokes-reptile Jay Carney, quote, "We found zero emails, sorry to disappoint, between Lois Lerner and anyone within the EOP during this period," end quote.
So: Nothing to see here, people, move along, go back to your homes.
03 — Data security 101. Just as a wee sidebar to that: When I was back in the U.S.A. earlier this year, I did a little spring cleaning at the Derbyshire estates on Long Island, and found a pile of old computer equipment that needed throwing out, including a complete desktop.
My Long Island township has a dump, and in the dump is a big open shipping container where you can leave electronic stuff you're throwing out. I drove my old desktop over there and was lifting it out of the car trunk to put in the container when I had a thought. I put it back, closed the trunk, and went over to the guy in charge of the container. What happens to all this stuff? I asked him.
"Oh," he said, "It's sold to some firm in the Far East — Taiwan, I think. They extract all the rare elements and reusable components. The township has a contract with them."
I drove home with my old desktop still in the trunk. An hour later I brought it back to the dump. By now it's in Taiwan … but minus the hard drives, which I took out and put on a shelf in my basement until the next time we have a bonfire. You can't be too careful nowadays.
Mind you, none of that erases my email trail. For years now I've been using gmail, which lives in the cloud. Does our federal government know about the cloud? Probably not. I bet they're still using PROFS. (That's an old mainframe-head joke. Those who understand, will understand.)
04 — The installed base. Speaking of mainframes, I made my living on those old beauties for thirty years, as a programmer and systems developer. Here are the two most dreaded words you can utter to a system developer: installed base.
Designing computer systems from scratch is a breeze. I can do it in my sleep. You don't have an inventory system or an Accounts Payable system? No prob.: I'll cook one up for you before breakfast tomorrow.
Alas, I hardly ever got to design a system from scratch. Usually when you're hired in to build a system, the company already has one. They want a better and more efficient one. The one they currently have is all there, though, snarling and baring its fangs at you like the Creature from the Black Bog, with all its twenty-year-old work-arounds and kluges, all its records in some no-longer-supported database format, all its managers and clerks and operators who are used to the way it works and would rather be left in peace with what they know. That's the installed base.
Ancient system developers' joke:
Q — How was God able to create the world in only six days?
What brought that to mind was reading about the IRS scandal right after reading a book titled America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century by James Bennett and Michael Lotus.
The authors offer prescriptions for getting us out from under the rotting dinosaur corpse of federal power towards a freer, happier, more productive, and more prosperous America. Right up at the head of the list: Abolish the Income Tax. Here's an edited quote from the relevant passage, on page 197. Quote:
The skewed incentives created by the loopholes in the income tax code misallocate resources in the economy, and the very large amount of time and expense needed to … comply with income tax disclosure requirements is not merely misallocated, but entirely wasted, as far as genuine economic productivity is concerned.
The authors go on at some length in this vein. I don't agree with everything in their book, but this passage is irrefutable. The IRS is a menace, and needs abolishing. I know, you've heard it before. You heard it from Ron Paul in the last two presidential election campaigns. It belongs in the category of things that can't be said often enough, though, so here I am saying it again.
The problem is of course that income tax is the installed base. It's hugely wasteful, grossly intrusive, shamefully unfair, and in its method of operation surely unconstitutional. However, we're all used to it and replacing it will be a major disruption. It'd be worth it in the long run, but … politicians don't concern themselves much with the long run.
05 — Iraq is the new Yugoslavia. Iraq: What can one say?
I should perhaps be a little more careful about what I say. Eight years ago on National Review Online I volunteered the following thought, quote: "The spectacle of Middle Eastern Muslims slaughtering each other is one that I find I can contemplate with calm composure," end quote.
That had dowagers swooning and clutching their pearls from Pasadena to Poughkeepsie. It took me, oh, days to live it down.
So I shall not repeat that thought, except to the degree I just did. Instead I'll offer this one.
What we see over there is a bogus nation, a random collection of big groups of people who, for various reasons, hate each other's guts. It was held together for several decades by a skillful and ruthless dictator. When he was gone, it fell apart in communal bloodshed. Most likely it will eventually reconstitute itself as several smaller, but ethnically homogeneous, states.
Yes, Iraq is the new Yugoslavia. Let's hope the ethnic disaggregation proceeds apace, so that the peoples of the future Kurdistan, Shi'itistan, and Sunnistan can get on with some kinds of lives in peace … although by that time I'll probably be telling you that Libya is the new Iraq.
And while we're hoping that, let's also hope that our own damn fool elites will take a lesson from Iraq and stop telling us what a wonderful thing diversity is.
06 — Hillary: lead balloon … Samuel Johnson, I am sure my listeners all know, wrote the great Dictionary of the English Language back in the 18th century. It took him nine years. In those days a writer worked at home, scratching away on paper with a quill pen. When he finished a page he handed it to a little boy, an employee of the publisher, who would run off with the page to get it set up in type, then come back and wait for the next page.
When Johnson finished the last page of the Dictionary he handed it to this runner, said it was the last page, and told him to come back and report what the publisher said — the publisher was a Scotsman named Andrew Millar. Boswell records what followed, quote:
When the messenger who carried the last sheet to Millar returned, Johnson asked him, "Well, what did he say?" — "Sir, (answered the messenger) he said, thank God I have done with him." "I am glad (replied Johnson with a smile) that he thanks God for any thing."
End quote. Johnson was a religious man — Church of England, of course.
When Hillary Clinton finally retires from public life, my reaction will be similar to Millar's: Thank God we have done with her! She's still around though, like the IRS, and I have to deliver to you the news about her doings.
Fortunately this week's news is good — heart-warming, in fact. At any rate, I came away from it smiling and chuckling.
Hillary has a new book out, telling us all how wonderful she is, and what a great job she did as Secretary of State. The good news is, that the book is being greeted with well-nigh uncontrollable apathy. First week sales are about one hundred thousand. That's one-fifth of the first week sales for Sarah Palin's book back in 2009. By midweek Hillary's book was being beaten in the Amazon sales rankings by a book titled 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse: Lose Up to 15 Pounds in 10 Days!
Hillary hasn't done much better on the TV talk-show circuit. She got two big prime-time interviews on cable news Tuesday evening, but ratings were lackluster.
Looks like people don't much want to hear what Hillary has to say. Perhaps we're getting close to Millar time — that blessed day when we can say: "Thank God we have done with her!"
07 — … Or Great White Hope? There has been an interesting little counter-current in the Hillary talk recently, though. The argument is, in a nutshell, that Hillary is skilfully positioning herself to reap the white working- and middle-class vote in 2016.
One thing that got this counter-current flowing was a remark she passed in one of those cable TV interviews on Tuesday. Here's the interviewer asking whether these Central American illegals should be sent back:
[Clip: AMANPOUR: So, you're saying they should be sent back now?
Sure, it's all dressed up in qualifying clauses so she can weasel out of it later; and sure, it all came prefaced with a lot of furrowed-brow, hand-wringing fake concern for the kiddies, the dear little kiddies — in fact these illegals, to judge from the phtographs, are mostly teenage gang members — but it's still amazing to hear a Democrat politician with presidential ambitions say yes, send 'em back.
And several of the more cynical kinds of commenters, recalling the Elián González business, have observed that Mrs. Clinton apparently supported the deportation of that illegal-alien minor.
Lloyd Green at the Daily Beast picked up the theme, and did a nice piece pointing out that women are actually a majority of the electorate, and that among white voters, Hillary only trails among evangelicals — a fairly static and localized group.
I'd add to that the observation that to the degree left-liberalism handicaps a Democrat with working-class whites, Hillary will benefit from coming after Obama, by comparison with whom she looks almost moderate.
Lloyd Green says the following thing, quote: "If the GOP cannot capture working-class votes outside of the South, it will again face defeat."
I think that's right. So what are the odds the GOP can do that? Next segment.
08 — Clueless Old Party. So here's the question: Can the GOP capture working-class votes outside of the South?
Here's the answer: No, not unless they undertake some really radical changes in their personnel.
Exhibit A: Mitt Romney. You know the story here. In 2012 Romney was the candidate of the GOP donors: The bankers, Chambers of Commerce, Business Roundtable, the cheap labor, open-borders lobbies in Silicon Valley and the hotel and casino industries. That got him lots of campaign cash and TV ads, but not much in the way of enthusiastic foot soldiers manning the phones and ringing the doorbells. On election day the white working-class either stayed home or voted for Obama. With the blacks, the Mexicans, the Asians, the homosexuals, the public-sector worker cartels, the media, and guilty white liberals from the college towns, that put Obama over the top.
Well, a poll of likely Republican primary voters in New Hampshire the other day turned up 25 percent favoring Romney as the party's candidate in 2016, making him the front-runner.
That's not quite as bizarre as it seems. For one thing, 25 percent of Republican primary voters is one in ten of the electorate. A third of GOP voters polled were undecided. For another, all but one of Romney's main competitors in the poll are just as locked in to the big-money donors as Romney is: I'm talking about Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Ted Cruz. The outlier is Rand Paul, who people seem to think is some kind of maverick. I don't believe it. To judge by Paul's shucking and jiving on amnesty, the donors have him surrounded and unhorsed.
Exhibit B: Kevin McCarthy. As Radio Derb gloated last week, House Majority Leader and Mitt Romney clone Eric Cantor went down to defeat in his Virginia primary to college lecturer David Brat, who had hammered him on the amnesty issue. Cantor, I should say, took his defeat without blaming or complaining, as indeed Romney did in 2012. Policies aside, Eric Cantor's obviously a grown-up and a gentleman. I wish him good luck in his future career, and peace of mind and good health too.
Following his defeat Cantor resigned his House leadership position, so the GOP members elected a new Majority Leader: Kevin McCarthy, a fourth-term 49-year-old white male from Bakersfield, California. McCarthy is even more of a donor shill than Cantor was. On immigration issues, for example, his NumbersUSA grade is F-, the lowest possible. Cantor was a C+.
Writing up McCarthy's election in The Hill — that's the Congressional newsletter — reporter Russell Berman says this, quote: "In swapping the buttoned-up Cantor for the sunnier McCarthy, lawmakers say the major change will not be policy but personality," end quote.
So instead of a buttoned-up tool of the Chambers of Commerce, Wall Street, Sheldon Adelson, Bill Gates, and the Mexican government, we now have a sunny tool of the Chambers of Commerce, Wall Street, Sheldon Adelson, Bill Gates, and the Mexican government. Isn't that special.
Here's my suggestion for the Republican Party, nicknamed the GOP for "Grand Old Party." In the interests of honesty and transparency, why not change your name to the Donorist Party, and your nickname to COP? — for "Clueless Old Party."
09 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Further to my comments about Iraq up there, may I just register my irritation at reading, time and again, that so and so many "British" or "American" men have gone to join the jihadis fighting in the Middle East.
Here's a sample headline from the Mail Online, for example, June 17th, quote: More Brits signing up to fight with jihadist militants in Iraq and Syria than for the UK Army Reserve.
It's not as if these are chaps named Grimsdyke and Fortescue in tweed jackets or Manchester United T-shirts, carrying jars of Marmite in their backpacks. These are Muslims, whose loyalty is to the Umma, not to Britain.
I recall thirty years ago, walking around a district in Birmingham, England that I'd known in my childhood thirty years earlier as working-class English. It had been totally colonized by Muslims; there was hardly an English person to be seen. I recall thinking to myself: How can this possibly be a good idea? Will these people assimilate?
Now I know the answers. Was it a good idea to allow mass settlement of Muslims? No, it was a dumb, stupid idea. Did they assimilate? Many did, many didn't.
Item: It's not just Britain, either. Two 23-year-old men in Austin, Texas have been arrested and charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. One of them, Houston native Michael Todd Wolfe, a convert to Islam, was arrested boarding a plane, apparently to go join the jihadis in Syria. The other one, Rahatul Ashikim Khan from Bangladesh, has been recruiting U.S. Muslims to go over there and fight.
The State Department responded to the arrests by ordering a total moratorium on issuance of visas to persons from Muslim countries. Nah, just kidding. That would be wrong because, you know, diversity, and, you know, racism.
Item: It's been a while since we had any news from Bulgaria, so let's see what's happening over there among the vulgar Bulgars.
What's happening is that like the rest of Europe, they're getting invaded by swarms of illegal immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. Instead of just letting it happen, though, the Bulgars are — oh my goodness, you'd better sit down for this, it's awful — they are pushing the illegals back across their border, back into Turkey whence they came.
This has brought Bulgaria to the attention of Human Rights Watch, an organization of leftwing lawyers. Human Rights Watch has put out a 76-page report scolding the Bulgarians for defending their territory against the invaders. Quote from novinite.com, an English-language Bulgarian outlet, April 29th, quote:
The document speaks of how in recent months Bulgarian border police have summarily returned people, who appear to be asylum seekers, to Turkey without proper procedures and with no opportunity to lodge asylum claims. Bulgaria should end summary expulsions at the Turkish border, stop the excessive use of force by border guards, and improve the treatment of detainees and conditions of detention in police stations and migrant detention centers, the report said.
A word of advice to the Bulgars. Guys, what you do, as a not-very-rich southern European nation with not many jobs and not much spare cash for welfare benefits, what you do is, you shunt the illegals right through your territory, north and west, and out the other side, so they can head off to Britain and Scandinavia, where the benefits are plentiful and any natives who complain are arrested for racism.
That's what you do. That's what gets you of the hook with the Human Rights busybodies. Heck, that's what Italy, Spain, and Greece are doing. Looks like the Turks have it figured out, too …
Item: Finally, a handful of very brief items.
On a Cathay Pacific 15-hour flight from Newark to Hong Kong, a passenger trapped his middle finger in the washroom garbage disposal and had to stand there in the washroom for the last hour of the flight and the landing. Here's a little sound effect to console you, Sir [ker-ching!] and just be glad it was only a finger.
The Soccer World Cup is under way in Brazil. The latest score I can bring you is: Brazilian soccer hooligans — 1, English soccer hooligans — nil.
Finally, our President, Barack Obama, has met on the South Lawn of the White House with a 17-foot high talking robot giraffe. Quote from the Dallas Morning News, quote: "The neck and head undulated slowly. The mouth opened and closed. The neck swayed gently side to side. Ears flapped." End quote. That doesn't seem like a very respectful way to talk about our Chief Executive … but perhaps I'm reading it wrong.
10 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gents: another collection of snapshots from the passing pageant.
Some readers have grumbled to me that following my mention last week of the 50th anniversary of that splendid movie Zulu, they expected me to sign off with the battle song that the Welshmen in the 24th Foot sang as the Zulu impi approached. Instead, my listeners grumbled, they got some incomprehensible thing in Gaelic.
I hate to think of listeners going away dissatisfied, so here's the song. However, I don't like grumblers; so just to spite you for grumbling, I'll give it to you in Welsh. By all means sing along if you know the words.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: David Keith Jones, "Wele goelcerth wen yn fflamio / A thafodau tân yn bloeddio…"]