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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, piano version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your ho-ho-homiletically genial host John Derbyshire, broadcasting to you five days before Christmas from Taki's private island here in the ever-sunny Aegean.
I hope you all have your yuletide stocks of refreshment in, your tree lit up, your Christmas cards arrayed on the mantelshelf, and a spirit of goodwill pervading your thoughts.
In a perfect world the news would co-operate with the season, offering us hope for human improvement and a diminution of strife. Unfortunately we don't inhabit that world. Let's take a look at the one we do live in.
02 — One more Caribbean slum to visit. Wednesday this week the President announced that we shall normalize relations with Cuba. We'll exchange diplomats and scrap travel restrictions.
I'll score this as good, with reservations.
It's good because not having diplomatic relations with a country, especially a nearby country, is a bit silly and petulant. That's true even when the country is unfriendly. Richard Nixon recognized that when he broke the ice with China in 1971. Heck, we had normal diplomatic relations with the U.S.S.R., so far as normal relations with the place were possible, all through the Cold War, when we and they had ICBMs targeted on each other's territory.
And normal relations with Cuba reduces the quantity of hypocrisy in American politics — always a good thing. The case against normalization, made and supported by Republican politicians for the past fifty years, has been that the Cuban regime is so uniquely beastly it would be immoral — immoral, I tell you! — to accord diplomatic recognition to them.
This was, as I said, hypocrisy. Cuba's a nasty little dictatorship, to be sure; but all through those fifty years we kept up diplomatic relations with countries just as bad, or worse, and you didn't hear any Republican politicians complaining. The real reason GOP politicians opposed normalization was to keep the emigré Cubans in Florida inside the Republican stockade.
Now the older generation of Cuban Americans is dying off, and the younger ones don't care so much about the old country. Cuban Americans just aren't that much of an asset to the GOP any more. Hence I anticipate a welcome falling-off in hypocritical talk about the unique wickedness of the Cuban government from Republican pols on the campaign trail.
Also on the plus side, of course, we shall get some good-quality cheap stogies, if the health Nazis will let us smoke them.
Now the negatives, a small one and a big one.
The small one is, I wish it wasn't Obama doing this. You just know that Obama and his circle have fond feelings for Fidel Castro and his rotten little despotism. New York City's communist mayors Bill de Blasio and his wife actually took their honeymoon in Cuba, going to considerable trouble to circumvent the travel ban in order to do so. I don't see much political daylight between the de Blasios and the Obamas. They like Castro, fundamentally, because he's anti-American, and so are they.
So I wish it wasn't Obama doing this. It's a sensible thing to do in itself; but coming from him, it's like he's poking a finger in the eye of conservative, patriotic America.
The big negative comes when you put the opening to Cuba into a pot and mix it with our stupid immigration policies. I'm speaking here of legal immigration, the stupidest aspect of which is the "family unification" provisions in the current law.
"Family unification" would be humane and sensible if it was restricted to spouse and minor children, as it should be. It's not; and if you're American, you can bring in adult children, parents, and siblings of any age or marital status. You can also bring in unrelated people claiming to be those things, if they can get suitable fake papers; which, in a Third World country, they easily can.
The Census Bureau showed the Cuban American population of the U.S.A. as 1.8 million in 2010. Allowing for natural increase, it's got to be nudging two million now. Presumably some high proportion have relatives in Cuba. Since Cuba is poor and America is rich, presumably some high proportion of those relatives will want to immigrate.
So be looking for a flood of Cuban immigrants this next few years. What kind of people shall we be getting, and how many?
Well, we'll get a lot of old people — parents of Cuban Americans, brought in from filial piety, and as legal immigrants eligible for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. We'll also get a lot of young people, born and raised under communism, and with correspondingly high expectations of state provision.
How many? Let's see: Two million Cuban Americans … Let's suppose each sponsors two relatives, which I think is conservative. That's four million immigrants. The current population of Cuba is eleven million. Add the two million Cuban Americans, that's thirteen million. Add those four million immigrants to the two million here, getting six million, bottom line: Of the 13 million people in the world identifying as Cuban, close to half will be living in the U.S.A.
That's not even to mention illegal immigrants, an unknown quantity but surely greater than zero.
Communism aside, Cuba is basically just another Caribbean slum country. I've been to those places; I've seen them. I used to go on National Review Caribbean cruises. The Caribbean's a slum. As one of my colleagues on the magazine — no names, no pack drill — as one of the National Review staffers memorably explained to me, it's the South Bronx with donkeys, once you get behind the glittery tourist façade and the scattered villas of the rich. Cuba's probably worse than average, as most of the productive and entrepreneurial people fled after Castro took over.
So opening to Cuba just adds one more source of low-quality human capital to the immigration flood. I can see why Obama and other haters of traditional America would be happy about that, and I can see why the big GOP business donors hungry for cheap labor would be. For the rest of us, it's a big negative.
03 — Peak jobs? Ah, a prophet is without honor in his own country.
Case in point: Here's me, five years ago, in my book We Are Doomed, Chapter 12. I'm commenting on the idea that America keeps re-inventing new kinds of middle-class employment. Long quote:
The first middle class … consisted of the yeoman farmers of the early Republic, who looked down on what Jefferson called "greasy mechanicals." Then those greasy mechanicals became the inventors, engineers and factory workers of the industrial boom, and a new middle class was born — people of the machine, who looked down on poor Bartleby the Scrivener scratching away at his ledger book in the counting-house. As industrial production automated and moved abroad, Bartleby in turn came into his own, and a third middle class of knowledge workers came up: the cube people of our own time …
End quote. Well, I'm not claiming any originality there. Other people had the same idea before me. Still, it's been the case for as long as I can remember that if you talk about jobs being destroyed by automation, some cheerful person with an economics degree will tell you about how all the 19th-century blacksmiths got jobs as auto mechanics, or some such. As old job categories are destroyed, new ones are created! he assures everyone breezily.
Unfortunately that is not a principle built into the structure of the universe, like the laws of thermodynamics. It's just something that has been the case, but might stop being the case. We might, as I suggested in my book, be at, or approaching, Peak Jobs. New job categories being created may not keep up with old ones being destroyed.
That has, as I said, been an unpopular minority opinion, briskly slapped down by economists. (How did economics get tagged as "the dismal science"? I find economists to be annoyingly upbeat.)
Then on Monday this week I found myself looking at this story on the front page of the New York Times. Headline: As Robots Grow Smarter, American Workers Struggle to Keep Up. Sample quote:
Over the … 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy's recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.
End quote. This New York Times report refers to a study by two professors at Oxford University in England, title: The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation? These eggheads list 702 job categories, with the probability of computerization for each one, calculated using a Gaussian process classifier, whatever that is.
Top of that list, the three job categories least likely to be computerized: Recreational Therapists; First-line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers; and Emergency Management Directors. Bottom three, most likely to be computerized: Telemarketers; Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers; and Hand Sewers.
Peak Jobs: You heard it from me first. Well, you did if you bought my book …
I do believe it. I spent the latter part of November making a table for my kitchen. Bought the wood, cut it, planed it, shaped and finished it, all the while thinking to myself that mine may be the last generation that will make tables. Our kids will just print them with 3-D printers.
All of which raises the interesting question: If we truly are at Peak Jobs, why in Heaven's name are we importing millions of low-skilled workers?
04 — High-IQ crazy thugs. The North Korean hack attack on Sony Pictures stirred mixed feelings here at Radio Derb.
On the one hand, it was hard not to smile at the leaked emails showing what a bunch of sanctimonious hypocrites the suits at Sony Pictures are: badmouthing their stars, saying racially insensitive things, bitching and backbiting and toning down their movie to appease North Korean sensibilities — unsuccessfully, it seems clear.
On the other hand, as a patriot, we bristled to hear that an American movie has been pulled from production because of the activities of North Korean hackers. Who are these people, the North Koreans?
Well, speaking as a person who's been observing North Korea for a third of a century — my first published article in a major outlet, back in 1983, concerned North Korea under Kim Il Sung, the present leader's grandfather — I feel qualified to pass an opinion on who they are.
Who they are is high-IQ crazy thugs.
Crazy-thug regimes are not uncommon: Africa has several, South America gets one from time to time, likewise the Caribbean and Central Asia, though of course our dear friend President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan should by no means be counted among the crazy thugs.
Those other crazy-thug places, though, have populations with low mean IQ and leaders with no interests or imagination beyond fattening their Swiss bank accounts, outwitting their rivals, and supplying their friends and relatives with jobs and cash. In North Korea you have a crazy-thug regime full of smart people: a crazy-thug regime with nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and — we now know — really good cyber-warfare capabilities.
That's worrying. I'm personally worried about it. Are our electricity grids, our water-supply networks, our financial-trading systems, our banks, our battleships, are they better immunized against cyber-attacks than Sony Pictures? You'd better hope so. Personally, having built a couple of those trading systems myself, I don't believe it.
Sony Pictures has come in for some criticism for caving to the Norks like that. I'd take a gentler line, as a capitalism purist. A company should serve the interests of its shareholders, that's all, and that I'm sure is what Sony Pictures believed they were doing. National security and national honor are the proper business of governments, not corporations.
I'd like to think that our government, the government of the U.S.A., is on top of this threat, and could give as good as Sony Pictures got. I'd like to think our hackers are better than North Korea's, and that we could take down their systems as comprehensively as they took down Sony's. I'd really like to believe that. I'd really like to …
Solipsism is the philosophical doctrine that nothing exists outside one's own mind. For many American blacks, especially elite blacks like the Obamas, nothing exists outside their own blackness. Their blackness is endlessly interesting, endlessly fascinating to them. They can never get enough of thinking about it, talking about it, reading and writing about it.
If they write a book, it's about their blackness: Barack Obama's Dreams from My Father, for example. If they write a college paper, it's about their blackness: Mrs Obama's Princeton thesis, for example, the seven words of whose title contain the word "black" twice. If they read a book, it's about blackness. I've spent many, many hours riding the New York subway. Sitting next to a black person who's reading a book, I take a peek: two times out of three it's some black author writing about blackness.
Black black blackety-blackety-black. It fills their consciousness and absorbs their attention. What on earth must it be like to so trapped like that, such a prisoner of your own skin? I can't imagine. I guess, just as the T-shirt slogan says: It's a black thing; I wouldn't understand.
The Obamas illustrated this depressing fact for us all over again this week in an interview for People magazine. Here is our President, quote:
There's no black male my age, who's a professional, who hasn't come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn't hand them their car keys.
Sorry, but I don't believe that. People, especially yuppies like the Obamas, dress up to go to restaurants. Valets wear jeans and sweaters, or uniforms. And when you're standing waiting for your car, you don't have the posture of a valet. This is just a blackety-black lie, a lie to fortify the concentration on one's own wonderful blackness.
Even if it wasn't a lie, would it really rise to the level of something any thinking person should give a fig about?
I shall pass discreetly over the innumerable instances — I'm sure it's a daily occurrence, at least, somewhere in the United States — where a nonblack American hands his car keys to a black American who is pointing a gun at him.
Then we get Mrs Obama, talking about a trip to a Target store. Quote:
Even as the first lady, during the wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf.
End quote. This is even a more obvious lie. The First Lady travels with a Secret Service entourage: a platoon of big guys in dark suits constantly scanning with their eyes and talking into their lapels. You can see her coming from ten blocks away; and you sure can't get close enough to ask her for help.
Again, even if it were not a lie, recall that Mrs Obama is 5'11", which is pretty tall. I'm tall too, and people often ask me to help them get something from a high shelf.
And yet again, is this anything worth five seconds of any thinking person's attention? A person, I mean, who is not sunk so deep in narcissism that the merest request for help is a wound to their ego?
Am I really supposed to shake my head and sigh in sympathy for these puffed-up, pampered, petted darlings of liberal guilt, who have been floating along effortlessly all their lives on the warm, perfumed waters of affirmative action? Really? I decline.
06 — Ways of making you talk. December 9th the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report on CIA interrogation techniques in the years following the World Trade Center attacks.
That needs qualifying. Actually they released only parts of the report — around ten percent. The rest remains classified. We are told that what was released is a fair summary of the whole report, but of course we don't have any way to check that.
What's Radio Derb's line on this? First, concerning torture in general, allow me to quote from a piece I wrote for National Review just a few weeks after 9/11. Sample quote:
The first thing to be said about torture, as a means of discovering facts, was said by Aristotle in Book 1, Chapter 15 of Rhetorica: torture doesn't work very well. Under physical torture, some people will lie; some will say anything to make the pain stop, even just for a while; and a surprising number will refuse to yield. Robert Conquest, in The Great Terror, gives a figure of "one in a hundred" for those who failed to confess under the methods used by Stalin's secret police. However, most of those pulled in by the NKVD were ordinary people guilty of nothing at all. Dedicated resistance workers, fanatical terrorists or revolutionaries would show better stats. In his memoir Nothing to Declare, Taki Theodoracopulos tells the story of a young WW2 Greek resistance fighter named Perrikos, who blew up the German HQ building in Athens on orders from Taki's father. Arrested and tortured to death by the Nazis, Perrikos revealed nothing, claiming to the end that he had acted alone, under no-one's orders. There were many such cases.
That's the first thing to be said about torture: As a way of getting intelligence, it's highly dubious. There are counterexamples — I cite one in that National Review column — but there aren't many. Brave people die under torture; less-brave people lie under torture. It's just not a great way to get intel. The Senate report actually says this; but it's true even though our government says it's true. Ryan Cooper made the functional case against torture — I mean, the case that it's mostly useless for its stated purpose — in The Week this week.
To the contents of the Senate report in particular, it strikes me as picayune stuff. Rectal feeding? Mock executions? Sleep deprivation? No, I'm not volunteering for any of that; but as torture goes, and has gone, and still is going in places like Zimbabwe and North Korea, this is tame stuff.
To pull a quote at random off my bookshelves, quote: "A man would be stripped naked, strapped to a table, and have his genitals lashed to pulp with heavy, soaking towels," end quote. That's from Nikolai Tolstoy's book Stalin's Secret War. If you want more of that sort of thing, I refer you to Chapter Four of Steven Pinker's recent book, The Better Angels of our Nature, which deals with torture in medieval Europe, and includes illustrations.
There's a line to be drawn, of course. Do I want salaried employees of my government dragging a detainee's 16-year-old daughter in and raping her in front of his eyes, as happened to Stanislav Kossior in the Stalin terror? No, absolutely not. How about sleep deprivation and rectal feeding? Meh. I doubt there's much point to it; but given the people we're dealing with, I really don't care. All right, how about just threatening to rape the guy's child, as the CIA did? Another "meh." A threat is just messing with someone's head, it's not raping his daughter.
Bottom line: I don't much care. In this day and age, there have to be better ways to get intelligence than pouring water up people's noses, and I wish the CIA would raise its game. Our agents are dealing with very hard people, though, willing to do terrible things to me and my country. If they knock out the occasional eyeball in the course of their work, I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
07 — Multiculti crackup in Europe. Interesting things are happening in Sweden. No, really: in Sweden. Pay attention, please; this is important.
Sweden, which is a parliamentary democracy, had an election this past September. No party came out with a majority. Worse yet: no coalition of parties had enough seats to form a majority.
There are 349 seats in the parliament. Half of 349 is 174½, so you need 175 seats to control the parliament. September's election gave the leftist parties 159 seats, the rightist parties 141. So the leftist parties had the biggest bloc, even though not a majority, and they formed a government. The rightist parties formed a bloc of their own, called the Alliance.
OK, so left coalition 159, right Alliance 141; add 'em up, you get 300 seats. I said there are 349 seats in the parliament. Who got the other 49?
The Sweden Democrats, that's who: a populist party opposed to continuing mass immigration. Sweden has taken in millions of Muslim immigrants, and like Muslim immigrants everywhere they have refused to assimilate, and have turned at least one major city, the city of Malmö, into a no-go zone for native Swedes. Hardly surprising, then that the Sweden Democrats enjoyed a huge surge in September's elections, going from 20 seats to 49.
Popul-ist they may be, but the Sweden Democrats are not popul-ar with the established parties, who call them nativist, racist, xenophobic, and so on. The leftist coalition of course won't let the Sweden Democrats join them; but the rightist Alliance won't either.
December 3rd things got interesting. Like any other legislature, including ours, the parliament has to pass a budget to fund government operations. The minority leftist coalition drew up a budget and presented it to parliament. Parliament voted it down. The smaller rightist bloc then proposed a budget; and Sweden Democrats joined in voting for it, defeating the left coalition.
In a parliamentary system at this point a number of things can happen. Theoretically nothing could happen: the dominant coalition is not obliged to win every vote. Or the leader of the coalition might resign, taking blame for the defeat on his own head. Or he might call another election.
That's what the leader of the leftist coalition, name of Stefan Löfven, did: he called another election. It will take place on March 22nd, and it will be very interesting to see if yet more Swedes shrug off multicultural orthodoxy and vote for the Sweden Democrats to keep Sweden Swedish, if it's not already too late.
The March 22nd election will, as Dominic Green writes in the latest Weekly Standard, be a referendum on mass immigration, in the nation that of all European nations has been most enthusiastic about it. Have enough of the Swedes had enough? We shall find out.
Resistance to mass Muslim immigration is rising all over Europe. The city of Dresden has seen massive demonstrations against the Islamization of Germany. The moving spirit here is a group named Pegida, which stands for Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, which means "Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West." Nine weeks ago Pegida got a demonstration together using Facebook: 200 people showed up. Pegida persevered, holding more demonstrations, the numbers increasing every time. Last Monday's crowd was estimated at fifteen thousand.
Now kindred movements have sprung up all over Germany. In Leipzig they have Legida; in Darmstadt there is Dagida; in Bonn, Bogida. These groups are tapping into widespread discontent. Polls show that two thirds of Germans think their government is not doing enough to control immigration.
Resistance to mass immigration of troublesome alien groups is rising all over Europe. Denmark has clamped down on bogus "refugees" from Eritrea, while individual Danish towns are refusing settlement to Chechens and Gypsies, possibly in defiance of Danish law.
All this is of course horrifying to the defenders of multicultural othodoxy. The United Nations has put its angry face on, and leftist newspapers like the London Guardian are freely deploying terms like "neo-Nazi," but what did they expect? Is it so surprising or shocking that Swedish people want to keep their nation Swedish, Danes want to keep their country Danish, and Germans want to keep their country German? It seems to me like a natural thing. It's the multiculturalists who have set themseves against common sense and human nature.
Here's a number that jumped out at me. A consortium of British polling organizations offered the following sentence to people, and asked whether they agreed or not. Here's the sentence: "The government should insist that all immigrants should return to the countries they came from, whether they're here legally or illegally." Twenty-five percent of respondents agreed. A quarter of adult Britons want all immigrants, legal and illegal, repatriated. Fifty-two percent, just over half, disagreed; but as the report points out, many of them want much stricter controls on immigration.
Multiculturalism in Europe is heading for a major crack-up.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Australia is one of the few Western nations to have shown some spine in turning back attempted illegal immigration. Boats that try to land illegals are towed away and their occupants interned in remote islands.
Australia none the less has its problems, especially of course with Muslim immigrants. A particularly nasty specimen, Man Monis, arrived from Iran claiming refugee status in 1996. In the late 2000s he got a rap sheet for harassing the families of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, then later for intimidating his ex-wife, then later still for 22 charges of aggravated sexual assault against seven other women.
Last week, while out on bail for his complicity in the murder of his former wife, he took 17 hostages in a café in Sydney.
After a 16-hour siege Monis got drowsy and nodded off. The café manager tried to grab his gun, but Monis woke and shot the manager dead. Police, hearing the shots, stormed the place, killing Monis. Another hostage, a 38-year-old mother of three young children, was killed in the firefight, probably by Monis.
Muslim immigration into non-Muslim nations: the worst idea of the 20th century, after communism.
Item: While that siege was still going on, a young Australian woman named Tessa Kum, K-U-M, started the Twitter hashtag #illridewithyou, apparently to forestall the anti-Muslim backlash she was sure must follow. The idea was for herself and like-minded people to ride on buses and trains with Muslims to show solidarity with them.
Given those aggravated sexual assault charges against Mr Monis, I think Ms Kum might want to be careful about who she's riding with, but hey.
Steve Sailer dug out Ms Kum's personal blog, and it turns out she is a crazy white-hater. Here's a sample extracted from around 10,000 words of similar, all written in coarse language with many obscenities. "PoC" means "People of Color": Ms Kum is apparently half white, half East Asian. Quote:
Having PoC friends does not add legitimacy to your actions, white person. You are still white. You are still benefiting from an imbalance of power and this will not change in your lifetime.
End quote. A true heroine of multiculturalism. I bet her phone is ringing off the hook with calls from universities offering her a faculty position … or maybe MSNBC wanting to give her a talk show …
Item: Mass immigration from the Third World isn't just bad for us, the receiving countries, it's also bad for them. Hence the headline in last week's MailOnline, quote: Sierra Leone struggling in fight against Ebola because so many doctors and nurses have left to find jobs in Britain, report claims.
The report they're talking about is from a British parliamentary committee. They found that a high proportion of the health professionals trained in Sierra Leone were now working in Britain; so of course they are not around to help deal with the ebola epidemic back home.
Sierra Leone was a sort of British Liberia, a resettlement colony for freed slaves. The population is all West African, either indigenous or returned ex-slaves. That means it doesn't have much of a smart fraction in its population, and the few smart people it does have tend to emigrate. What's left are the hopeless and the helpless, with some crooks and opportunists mixed in; which is why Sierra Leone, and other countries in a similar situation, are such a mess.
It might be better for them, and for us, to identify the smart people in these countries and pay them a Western-level salary to stay there, with a total ban on them immigrating into the West. Yeah, it's a bit implausible, I know; but surely somebody can think of something.
09 — Signoff. Not a very uplifting collection of commentary there for the Christmas week, listeners. I'm sorry for that; I just read the news as it comes in.
It's foolish to expect tidings of comfort and joy from public affairs, anyway. For that we look to our loved ones, our families and friends. That's where I'll be directing my attention for the next few days. I hope you will do the same.
For exit music this week we must of course have a Christmas carol. Here's one of the oldest: "The Holly and the Ivy," sung by the choir of King's College, Cambridge.
More from Radio Derb next week!
[Music clip: "The Holly and the Ivy,"]