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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 epidemiologically genial host John Derbyshire with news of the hour.
Much ground to cover this week so let's get down to it.
02 — The ebola tombola. Let's have a couple of segments on the ebola news to start with, shall we? [Yes!]
I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't be frivolous about a horrible disease, but the way our minds work, one word reminds you of another word with similar sound but totally different meaning. Here's a word I'm betting not many American listeners will know: "tombola." It's a British word, like "paraffin" or "spanner" or "crumpet" or "treacle."
A tombola is a sort of lottery or raffle, where you buy a ticket and maybe win a prize: perhaps a nice set of spanners, or a dish of crumpets smothered in treacle. It has a bit of class coloring to it, or at least it did when I was a youngster over there striving to escape from the lower-lower-middle class. You get a tombola at some upscale event like a hunt ball. You know what a hunt ball is, right? … Ah, never mind.
Anyway, the sound of the word "ebola" just brings "tombola" to mind. Not altogether inaptly: Catching ebola is kind of like winning the lottery, in of course a highly negative way. You don't want to win the ebola tombola!
Another person just did, though: Dallas nurse Amber Joy Vinson, 29 years old. Ms. Vinson was closely involved in nursing Liberian ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who died in her Dallas hospital last week. We are told that she, quote, "inserted catheters, drew blood, and dealt with Duncan's body fluids."
Last Friday, two days after Mr. Duncan died, Ms. Vinson flew from Dallas to Cleveland, Ohio, and traveled thence, I don't know how, to her home town of Akron, thirty miles away. On Monday she flew back to Dallas. On Tuesday she checked in at the hospital with a fever, and was confirmed as having contracted ebola.
Ebola lurks in your body for a few days before symptoms appear. Only when the symptoms appear is it contagious, according to the official line. So was Ms. Vinson displaying symptoms on Monday when she boarded the plane from Cleveland back to Dallas?
Apparently she was. The Centers for Disease Control tells us that Ms. Vinson called them, quote, "several times" before getting on that plane at Cleveland Monday. Her temperature was only slightly elevated, though — 99.5 — so they told her to go ahead and fly.
Now federal health officials are trying to track down and interview all 132 people on that plane.
So now two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital have caught the disease. At the risk of being ticketed for a second frivolity violation, I'm going to paraphrase Oscar Wilde's Lady Bracknell: For one of Mr. Duncan's nurses to get ebola may be regarded as a misfortune; for two of them to succumb looks like carelessness.
On whom do we pin the carelessness, though? Speaking as the son of a professional nurse, who grew up hearing nurse talk, I instinctively give nurses the benefit of the doubt. Even setting aside my personal prejudices, though, there is evidence that the nurses in this case took all the precautions they knew to take. The fact that Nurse Vinson called the CDC those "several times" before boarding the plane in Cleveland suggests she was being very professional.
She got ebola none the less. So who was careless? I was hoping for some enlightenment on this point Thursday, when both CDC director Tom Frieden and the HMFIC at the Dallas hospital, name of Daniel Varga, testified before a congressional committee in Washington.
Dr. Varga did apologize for mistakes the hospital made, but he seems to have been talking only about that first time Mr. Duncan showed up and was sent away with Tylenol. Frieden was as clueless as in his TV interview last week, repeating his line that it would be wrong, wrong, wrong to impose any travel restrictions.
So not much light was shed there. There was one exchange that was funny, in a macabre sort of way. After Frieden had passed some remarks about porous borders, committee member Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee asked, quote: "I want to be sure I heard you right. You just said to Chairman Upton that we cannot have flight restrictions because of a porous border. So do we need to worry about having an unsecure southern and northern border? Is that a big part of the problem?"
Replied Frieden: "I was referring to the border of the three countries in Africa."
Marsha Blackburn: "Oh, referring to that border, not our porous border."
Well, hey, it's funny in a don't-know-whether-to-laugh-or-cry sort of way.
03 — Race, the Great Enstupidator. In other ebola news, a poll published Tuesday October 14th from the Washington Post and ABC News included the question, quote, "In dealing with the Ebola outbreak, would you support or oppose restricting entry to the United States by people who've been in affected countries?" End quote. Sixty-seven percent of respondents — that's two-thirds — said they would support travel restrictions.
They might actually get them, in the teeth of hostility from the prevailing social narrative.
Because ebola is a West African disease, and the first ebola death in our country was a black man from that region, race comes into the ebola conversation and makes everybody stupid. That's what race does to any topic in the public square. Law enforcement, education, immigration,… The enstupidating effect of race is like a death ray to rational thought — like some deadly virus, causing common sense to bleed out from every mental orifice. Things that everyone knows can't be said; the stone obvious must not be noticed; news events that contradict the narrative must be flushed down the memory hole. Race is the Great Enstupidator.
For an extreme example of this enstupidation, I refer you to Jezebel.com, a website for lefty women — in fact it's one of the Gawker group of websites, so you know where you are here. On October 14th at Jezebel.com a writer named Stassa Edwards posted a piece titled "From Miasma to Ebola: The History of Racist Moral Panic Over Disease."
The main thrust of Ms. Edwards' piece is that worry about ebola springs from — can you guess? — yes: racism. Sample quote:
The discussion around Ebola has already evoked — almost entirely from Tea Party Republicans — the explicit idea that American borders are too porous and that all manners [sic] of perceived primitiveness might infect the West.
End quote. Ms. Edwards develops her argument by drawing ideas from a book not previously known to me, but which I shall hasten to add to my library: Dominique Laporte's 1978 classic Histoire de la Merde, which you can now buy in an English translation under the title History of Shit.
Not many of our public figures would speak as explicitly as Ms. Edwards, and I doubt whether any of them would, in a speech, refer their listeners to M. Laporte's ground-breaking (or perhaps ground-soiling) book. Most of them, though, have been avoiding the issue of travel restrictions out of an instinctive understanding that to call for travel restrictions would put them in the danger zone — the danger being, that someone might call them racist, thereby causing their future political prospects to bleed out through all their social orifices.
That was so up until a day or two ago. Then, emboldened by that opinion poll I quoted, some politicians did start calling for travel restrictions. I think Texas Senator Ted Cruz was the first, closely followed by Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, both speaking on Tuesday. Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner chimed in carefully, saying the President should, quote, "consider" a travel ban from the West African countries afflicted.
When even John Boehner [Clip: Johnnie Ray, "Cry"] feels the need to pretend he has a spine, you know the winds are changing.
And some countries have announced travel restrictions, apparently not afraid of the racism charge. St. Lucia, in the Caribbean, Kenya in Africa, Nigeria, also in Africa, … You get the idea.
Just as the United States of America can no longer get a man on the moon, it can no longer fight an epidemic. The two situations are, I believe, remarkably similar.
End quote. Let me first deal with the objection that turned up a couple of times in the comment thread to Dennis' piece: that the Apollo program was a pointless extravaganza, a waste of national resources.
Apollo was a glorious achievement, as glorious as Christopher Columbus' landing in the New World, which we have been commemorating this week, those of us whose brains have not been addled by political correctness. What happened on July 20th 1969 will be remembered for as long as the human race survives — long after Barack Obama and George W. Bush, never mind you and me, have been utterly forgotten.
And if you still want to carp about Apollo being pointless, just check the company you're in. I don't recall Al Sharpton addressing the topic, but I know what he'd say if he did. On the other side, the people who made the Moon landings happen were motivated by patriotism, by pride in their country and its flag, symbolized by that actual flag Neil Armstrong planted on the lunar surface, and by the red, white, and blue vest that Flight Director Gene Kranz wore in the control room.
We Came in Peace for All Mankind said the plaque on the Lunar Lander: but it was Old Glory the astronauts saluted.
Can you imagine such a thing nowadays? The Stars and Stripes, that symbol of racist, patriarchal, cis-sexual oppression? Man-kind? Excuse me? From inception to the Moon landing, Apollo ran nine years. Nowadays it would take nine years just to get the diversity quotas agreed.
Dennis is right: We can't do stuff any more. Go to the Moon, fight an epidemic: These things are beyond our capability now. Fifty years ago we were still a nation of engineers and adventurers; now we're a nation of Lawyers and sociologists.
Don't take my word for it. The current head of NASA, appointed by Barack Obama, told an interviewer four years ago that the foremost mission Obama charged him with was, quote: "to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering," end quote.
The U.S.A. used to be admired around the world as the Can-Do nation. Join two oceans; fill a city with skyscrapers; win a war; there seemed to be nothing Americans couldn't do.
The archetype here is Jules Verne's 1874 novel The Mysterious Island. An assortment of American men from the Union side in the Civil War are prisoners in Richmond. They escape by balloon, but the balloon gets swept far out to sea in a storm and makes landfall at last on an uncharted island. We get the usual inventory of possessions; but the balloonists threw most everything overboard to stay airborne, so all they have is the clothes they are wearing, one match, two watches, a metal collar on the dog they brought along, and one grain of wheat.
These were Americans, though, one of them an engineer. They have that island shipshape in no time, with a forge, a brickworks, a pottery kiln, and a glassworks up and running. When they need to remove a rock barrier to lower the water level of a lake, the engineer manufactures nitroglycerin, quote, "by means of the minerals which nature had placed at his disposal."
That was America as seen by a Frenchman 140 years ago: the Can-Do nation. What a falling-off there has been! Nowadays those castaways would have starved to death trying to get a Gender Studies program going.
When did we stop being the Can-Do nation? It went on for a few years after the Apollo program. I wrote in Taki's magazine recently about visiting the Alaska pipeline, built in the mid-1970s. Not really up there with the Apollo program, but a tremendous engineering achievement none the less. By private enterprise, too, not a government project.
That was the Can-Do nation. Nowadays we're well on our way to being the Can't-Do nation, as our response to ebola illustrates. Our spectacles are all fogged up with bogus social theories; our intelligence is compromised by willed ignorance about human nature; our hands and feet are tied by lawyers, accountants, and consultants.
As I said last week, I'm not losing sleep over an ebola outbreak in the U.S.A. As best I understand the science of the disease, at worst a few hundred, maybe a few thousand Americans will get infected, and a quarter or a third of them will die. It would have been nice to prevent that happening but it's not an existential catastrophe in a nation where 30,000 people die in traffic accidents annually.
With the next new pathogen, or the next, or the next, we may run out of luck. Without luck, we have only competence to fall back on. That's where I lose sleep. Do we still have the competence to deal with a major health catastrophe? Perhaps we'll have to send for help from the Muslim nations, with — what's the quote? — "their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering." Yeah, they'll save the day for us.
05 — The Republic of Nice. Are we too nice? This came up in a conversation with a friend the other day. We were speaking of a third party, a mutual acquaintance of mainly sensible conservative views but much too nice to support political measures like immigration restriction or travel bans.
We Americans are very nice. Everyone notices this. My old National Review colleague Florence King poked fun at it in one of her books, calling our country "the Republic of Nice." Have a nice day, Florence.
I come to this topic burdened with primeval guilt. When I was in elementary school, back in the Upper Paleolithic Era, we had a schoolmaster who was determined to get us unwashed street arabs speaking proper Queen's English. He had a particular prejudice against the word "nice." "It's a lazy word," he would say, "a word that doesn't need any thought. If you just said or wrote the word 'nice,' you should really have used something more exact."
George Segal took the same line with Glenda Jackson in that 1970s rom-com movie A Touch of Class. The two of them are getting dressed after a spell in bed.
[Clip: A Touch of Class
I'm going to ignore my schoolmaster's injunction and go on saying "nice" for this quality in Americans that, in just a moment, I'm going to blame for some of our problems.
Niceness has, of course, an individual dimension. There are nice people and nasty people everywhere. Even at the individual level, it's to some degree time-dependent: a nice person can be driven to nastiness, and a nasty person can be wooed to niceness, under particular circumstances.
Like every other human attribute, though, these things average out across populations. There is a pretty commonly accepted map of the world with contour lines drawn for niceness. I've never been to Korea, but I'm told Koreans are not very nice in the generality. People who've traveled a lot in the Middle East, including Zionists, have told me that Arabs are much nicer than Israelis. Up in Europe, the French have a reputation as not very nice, while the Scandinavians are nice, and the English of course are nicest of all.
That's in everyday peacetime contacts. If you read up the history of the British Empire, the Brits were not nice to their subject peoples. If anything, the French were actually nicer to theirs. The Anglo-Saxons didn't fight World War Two nicely, and we Americans didn't fight the Civil War at all nicely. There is a topic in military history: "the American way of war" — the late John Keegan wrote about it. I remember in the run-up to the first Gulf War, Keegan writing an op-ed in one of the London papers saying the Iraqis couldn't imagine what was coming to them: when Americans make war, he said, they don't fool around.
Yet here are all these nice Americans telling Guatemalan peasants and Somali goat-herds: "Come on in and take our country! Take as much as you like, we're not really using it!" Too many of us are too damn nice. Say what you like about Koreans and Israelis, they're not about to give their countries away to Third World moochers.
06 — The real Mayor of New York. I did a segment a couple of weeks ago about Rachel Noerdlinger, chief of staff to the wife of New York's communist mayor, Bill de Blasio. I mentioned how the city residency rules seem to have been waived for Ms. Noerdlinger based on some highly dubious statements she made, and how she is shacked up with an even more dubious boyfriend, a convicted murderer, drug-dealer, and loudly obnoxious hater of the police.
New Yorkers have been learning this past two weeks that things are even worse than that. As well as the false statements she made to get the residency waiver, when filling out forms for the background check prior to taking up her position, Ms. Noerdlinger did not disclose her relationship with the felon, as she was required to.
She is also a serial scofflaw, with a $28,000 tax lien from the IRS, $7,000 in unpaid E-Z Pass toll fees, and $900 in unpaid parking tickets. She didn't declare any of that in her background check, either, though she was required to. Last year she was sued for defaulting on more than $7,200 in credit card debt. She's been in eviction proceedings twice because of unpaid rent, most recently just last year. Oh, and three years ago she was a passenger in a car driven by her ex-con boyfriend when cops stopped him for driving on the wrong side of the street. The car interior, according to the police report, reeked of pot smoke, and there was a minor in the backseat, presumably Ms. Noerdlinger's son.
Not really a model citizen, then, and plainly guilty of several violations in those background checks. So why is Ms. Noerdlinger hanging on there in a sensationally well-paid make-work job as Chief of Staff to Mrs. de Blasio, who could probably manage her own Google Calendar if she had to?
Well, here's the thing. Ms. Noerdlinger's previous employer was anti-white agitator Al Sharpton, and she maintains friendly links with him. And Sharpton is the one running New York City nowadays: Bill de Blasio is basically just Sharpton's sock puppet.
This was on plain display October 1st, the date of the Al Smith Dinner, a huge social event for New York's movers and shakers. Smith was a Progressive-Era governor of New York State, and the Democrats' candidate for President against Herber Hoover in 1928. He was the first Catholic in the political major leagues. Every year there's this dinner in his honor, and if you want the Catholic vote in New York you darn well better be there.
So Wednesday, October 1st, the Al Smith dinner, and all the notables were there. However, the other Al, Al Sharpton, chose that same Wednesday night to throw his own 60th birthday party. That's somewhat suspicious in itself, as October 1st isn't actually Sharpton's birthday. However, he's such a big player that the politicians all had to split their evening, slipping out from the Al Smith dinner to attend the Al Sharpton one.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo showed up and made an emetic speech, sample quote: "He's no longer just New York's Al Sharpton. He's the nation's Rev. Sharpton — and the nation is better for it." End quote.
In case that didn't have you reaching for the barf bag, listen to the encomium from Bill de Blasio, quote: "This is a birthday fit for a king! Al Sharpton has been a blessing for the city, he has been a blessing for the nation. The more people criticize him the more I want to hang out with him." End quote.
It's a far and sad cry from the days of Rudy Giuliani, who banned Sharpton from City Hall, and on one occasion canceled a meeting when he saw Sharpton among the attendees. Michael Bloomberg took a kinder'n'gentler approach, just paying Sharpton off to keep the lid on race protests and not make a fuss about any of Bloomberg's pet projects. Paying Sharpton off was not a problem for Bloomberg, a multi-billionaire. It sure wasn't a problem for the Reverend Sharpton [ker-ching!]
Now Sharpton's running the city, and people who enjoy his favor, like Rachel Noerdlinger, are untouchable.
You have to grant this to the leftist nation-wreckers: They are awfully, awfully patient. A Giuliani can ban them: they'll wait him out. A Bloomberg can bribe them: they'll take the money and wait him out. When the soil is fertile again, ten or twenty years later, up they'll spring.
There is no sadder evidence of the depths of decay into which our political culture has descended than the supremacy, in one of our greatest cities, of a creature like Al Sharpton — a serial scofflaw, like his protegee Ms. Noerdlinger. Shame on Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio for toadying to this worthless mountebank; and shame on black Americans, including Barack Obama, for the praise and esteem they heap on him.
07 — The Talk: Why don't you listen? Speaking of mayors, a couple of years ago I attained fifteen minutes of worldwide fame with a column here at Taki's Magazine suggesting advice that nonblack parents might give to their youngsters about living among blacks.
One item that raised particular outrage among the PC ninnies was number (10f), quote: "Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians."
Every so often — well, actually, pretty much every day — I come across a story in my newspaper that fires off the thought: "Well, I got that one right."
So here. First story, from the New York suburb of Mount Vernon, where I myself lived briefly in 1973. Headline from the New York Post, October 14th, quote: Mount Vernon mayor faces 2 years after pleading guilty to income tax charges. From the story, quote:
Embattled Mount Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis faces up to two years behind bars after copping a plea Tuesday to knowingly failing to file federal income tax returns … Davis has been the subject of a Internal Revenue Service and FBI investigation since 2012 with federal agents reviewing charities and businesses he set up and 10 properties he owns in four states.
Davis is, yes, a black guy.
Over to Charlotte, North Carolina, headline from Breitbart.com, also October 14th, quote: Democrat Mayor Faces Prison Time for Accepting Bribes from Strip Club Owner.
The Mayor in this story is former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, another black guy, and there was at least $50,000 in those brown envelopes. And this story is particularly sweet for us Dissident Right types because Cannon was the creep who intimidated local hotels into shutting down the 2011 American Renaissance conference. Hey, Pat: You shoulda made better friends with Al Sharpton.
While I'm ticking off my warnings from two years ago, another one that caused much pointing and sputtering was my item (10h), quote: "Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway."
As I noted elsewhere, news stories on that theme turn up at least weekly. I once had the idea to collect a couple hundred and print them up as a book. I never found the time for that, but it could easily be done.
Here's a case from this week's news from Houston, Texas, also October 14th, headling: Man arrested in shooting death of good Samaritan in east Harris County. Story, quote:
Dondre Williams, 22, was arrested Monday morning and is charged with murder in the Sept. 12 shooting death of Mark Anthony Horton.
End quote. Dondre Williams is yet another black guy and the late Mark Anthony Horton, who obviously didn't get his life advice from Taki's Magazine, was white.
Why don't people listen?
08 — Miscellany. And here comes the lovely Miss Cellany with a round of mint juleps and some brief items to close with.
Imprimis: There's been a run on hazmat suits, fake hazmat suits, respirators, safety goggles, and protective surgical gloves and boottees. Why? Halloween!
Halloween costume site BrandsOnSale will sell you an "Ebola Containment Suit Costume" for $79.99. Boasts the site, quote: "You are sure to be prepared if any outbreak happens at your Halloween party. This will literally be the most 'viral' costume of the year."
"Viral," geddit? Right.
That's a little over the top for me, I must say. There'll be no displays of bad taste at our Halloween party here on the island. We'll be same as last year: me in my George Zimmerman mask and fat suit, accompanied by Mandy, who is the most zaftig of my research assistants, done up in blackface as Rachel Jeantel, introducing me to everyone as "creepy-ass cracker." It went down well last year; why change what works?
Item: A little light relief here. I mentioned the Alaska pipeline back there somewhere. For those of you who weren't around in the seventies, here's the Alaska Pipeline joke.
Three guys on the cancer ward are sitting around playing cribbage one afternoon: an American, a Frenchman, and an Italian. An angel suddenly appears to them.
"Guys," says the angel, "I have bad news. You're all going to die tomorrow. However, I'm an angel. I can do stuff. I've taken pity on you. For your last night on earth I can set each one of you up with the woman of your dreams. Anyone you like! Just give me the name, she'll be your companion tonight."
The angel turns to the American. "Who will be your choice?" she asks. This is the 1970s, remember, so the American goes for Raquel Welch. "It will be arranged," says the angel, and turns to the Frenchman. "I shall spend ze night viz Catherine Deneuve," says the Frenchman. "No problem," says the angel, and turns to the Italian. "Who will be your choice, Signor?"
Says the Italian: "I wann-a spend-a ze night wiz Alaska Pippalina!"
"I'm sorry," says the angel, "I'm not familiar with that name."
"Wass-a the matter you? You don't read-a ze newspapers?" The Italian guy pulls out a copy of the New York Daily News and points to a headline: 14 Men Killed Laying Alaska Pipeline. "That's-a the woman for me! Alaska Pippalina!"
Nineteen-seventies humor. You had to be there.
Item: If zaftig is to your taste, meet Maggie De Block, the most popular politician in Belgium. Ms. De Block could certainly block a doorway: she tips the scales at nearly 300 pounds.
What is Ms. De Block's position in Belgian politics? Minister of Health!
Quote from her: "I know I'm not a model but you have to see what's inside, not the packaging," end quote. Yeah, yeah, heard it before. I've been on blind dates.
Ms. De Block was formerly Minister for Immigration, in which position she distinguished herself when a bunch of illegal immigrants threatened with deportation went on hunger strike. Perhaps not comprehending the notion of a hunger strike, Ms. De Block deported them anyway.
So, my kind of politician after all. Can we get someone like her in charge of immigration here in the U.S.A.? Fat chance.
Item: Fifty-two-year-old Travis Micho of Hayden, Idaho has been arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge after assaulting care home worker Claressa Tharp with a burrito.
A neat little footnote there is that the last line of the news story reads, quote: "Stories about prior burrito attacks can be found here and here," end quote, with hyperlinks. Apparently there's a spate of these attacks.
Personally I'd steer a big circle around anyone named "Travis," whether or not armed with a burrito.
Item: Here's another hardy perennial you could make a book out of: The anti-violence rally broken up by a shooting.
This one was in Newark, New Jersey. A third-grader was giving a broadcast speech inside a community center in Newark October 11th when his words were interrupted by gunshots.
"Violence came as I was talking," said eight-year-old Nyeeam Hudson. Further quote from the CBS report, quote: "During Nyeeam's plea for peace, a young man was shot and killed outside. Nyeeam kept talking, but minutes later he was stopped by the roar of sirens," end quote.
Eh, probably some racist white cop gunning down an innocent young man with his hands up. Happens every day. Next item.
Item: Er … no, that's pretty much it. Oh wait, I've got one here: The viral video clip of the week is of our First Lady, Michelle Obama, dancing with a turnip. First Lady. Michelle Obama. Dancing with a turnip.
Hey, at least it wasn't a burrito.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents.
For signoff music, a wee trip down Memory Lane for Derb. The other day I was watching Don't Look Back, the DVD of Bob Dylan's 1965 British tour. That was my time: I was a college junior in London. The hook to Radio Derb here is the niceness theme. Dylan was not nice. Even when he's trying in that DVD, he comes over as perfectly charmless. We need more Americans like that if we're going to take our country back.
Anyway, you have to forgive a lot in the name of talent. Lord Byron was a jerk, too.
There's a bit in the DVD where Dylan and the British folk singer Donovan, who was nice, are noodling around on acoustic guitars. Donovan plays one of his sweet, light-as-air ballads. Dylan listens politely, or as close to politely as he's capable of. Then he takes the guitar from Donovan and plays this number. The contrast between mediocrity and genius has never been sharper. Poor Donovan looks like a crushed bug.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Bob Dylan, "It's all over now, Baby Blue."]