»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, June 30th, 2006

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•  YouTube video

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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]

01 — Intro.     Well, ladies and gents, summer's here, the kids are home from school, and it's been raining cats and dogs. The roof of my tree house has been leaking something awful — almost as badly as the New York Times.

You don't want to hear my troubles, though. Let's see what's been happening in the nation and the world.

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02 — The Gitmo dilemma.     Let's face it: The Guantánamo Bay military internments were a really bad idea.

Yeah, I know, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Here were these people, no uniforms, no military affiliation, taken on the battlefield. If you shoot 'em on the spot, you're in a world of hurt. If you imprison them over there in Afghanistan or Iraq, that prison will be a major attraction for terrorist squads, and you'll need a whole big bunch of guys to guard it. And anyway some elected government might just release the prisoners. Military stockades on the U.S. mainland? Hmm: the letters A-C-L-U mean anything?

So there they are in Gitmo for the duration, which could be for ever. Not a happy situation.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has scotched the administration's idea to bring the prisoners up in front of military war crimes tribunals.

So the remaining choices are:

  • regular civilian trials,

  • formal courts-martial,

  • leave them at Gitmo un-tried for ever, or

  • let 'em go.

Every one of those four choices stinks. No, I don't have a solution at this point. I do have a suggestion for what our troops should do next time they encounter unaffiliated, un-uniformed irregulars on the battlefield. It's not a very pleasant suggestion, though, so perhaps I'll just keep it to myself.

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03 — We hate you, so we want to live among you.     What are the biggest obstacles to the prosperity and freedom of Muslim nations?

It depends whom you ask, according to a survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, conducted from Washington, DC during April and May this year, and covering thirteen different countries.

The answer they got from Western nations was: government corruption, lack of education, and Islamic fundamentalism.

People in Muslim nations have a different point of view, though. Can you guess what their answer is? Yep: It's all the fault of us greedy, tricky, arrogant Westerners.

Muslims don't like us, either. In Pakistan only one respondent in four expressed a favorable view of the West. In Turkey — that well-known bastion of sensible, non-extreme Islam — it was down to one in seven.

We just can't catch a break with those Muslims.

The really odd thing in the survey, though, was that even after 9/11, even after the train and subway bombings in Europe, and the cartoon riots, and the Paris car burnings, and the assassinations of Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, and all the hate talk coming out of the mosques — even after all that, most Westerners are still not anti-Muslim.

Fifty-four percent of U.S. respondents to the survey expressed a favorable opinion of Muslims, as did 56 percent of Russians. In France and Britain it was nearly two-thirds.

The most negative countries towards Muslims were Germany, 36 percent favorable, and Spain, 29 percent.

Bottom line: They dislike us way, way more than we dislike them, and they blame us for all their problems.

Funny how they still want to come and live in our countries.

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04 — Cut-and-strut?     I like the little word games that political commentators get up to.

You've all heard about the Dems and their cut-and-run strategy for leaving Iraq. Lately they — or at least some of them — have been trying to sound a bit more responsible: talking about "phased" and "conditional" withdrawal. And some wit in the blogosphere has called this a "cut-and-jog" strategy. See? Cut-and-run … cut-and-jog.

My original hope was that we'd just smash the place up, kill the leadership, and then march right out in good order, with drums playing and flags flying. So I suppose I was a cut-and-march guy.

What am I now? Well, I hate the whole war and I regret ever having supported it; but I'm too much of a patriot to contemplate the loss of national face involved in cut-and-run.

It's too late now for my original cut-and-march strategy, I understand that. I can't say I'm enthusiastic about cut-and-jog. How about cut-and-stroll?

I guess I don't really have any constructive suggestions at this point. I just wish there was some way we could pull off cut-and-swagger.

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05 — World's Unhappiest Country.     Do you know what the deadliets war since World War Two has been? Of course you don't, so I'll tell you.

Remember Zaire? Remember the Ali-Forman fight — the "rumble in the jungle"? Well, Zaire doesn't exist any more. It got renamed a few years back to Democratic Republic of the Congo. That's "Democratic Republic" as in "socialistic basket-case hell-hole."

In fact, even to describe the DR Congo as socialistic would be over-egging the pudding. "Socialist," "capitalist"; these words describe economies, and the DR Congo hasn't got one.

After everyone's favorite African dictator Mobutu Sésé Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga got his ticket punched nine years ago, it's pretty much been invasion, war, famine, and chaos for the DR Congo.

The country's had two leaders since Mobutu: Laurent Kabila, who was shot in a coup attempt, and his son Joseph Kabila, still in charge. It's also had two terrible wars, the second of which wins the title I started this segment with: deadliest war since World War Two.

Nearly four million died, most of them civilians, and eight other African countries were involved. DR Congo is a pretty good candidate for the title World's Unhappiest Country.

Still, DR Congo has a shot at normality. This week the official campaign season started for the first election since 1961.

We probably shouldn't hold out too much hope for DR Congo to turn into a sedate parliamentary democracy; but if all our President's high-flown talk about rescuing failed states and encouraging liberty means anything at all, we should care a little bit about DR Congo.

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06 — It's never too late to race-grovel.     I know you already think I'm eccentric for having brought you a story from Africa. Well, here's another story from Africa. Why not? Africa's a big place and a lot of people live there.

This story actually starts 450 years ago with Sir John Hawkins, one of those old English seadogs who enlivened the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First.

Sir John helped to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588. That's how he got knighted. He also introduced the potato into Europe, so you have him to thank for your french fries.

So far, so good. Before all that, though, Sir John was a slaver, running shiploads of African slaves to the New World.

Well, a chap named Andrew Hawkins, currently living in England and believing himself to be descended from Sir John, found out about this and decided to make an apology.

He went to the West African nation of Gambia. He walked through the streets of the Gambian capital in shackles to a sports stadium; and there he apologized to several thousand Gambians for the crimes of his ancestor. "It's never too late to say you're sorry," said Mr Hawkins.

No, it's not. Nor is it ever too early to stop cultivating agonized guilt over something a possible ancestor might have done four hundred years ago, and to get on with trying to tackle today's problems.

A lot of bad stuff's happened this past four centuries. If anyone descended from anyone who made that stuff happen is going to kneel and apologize, not many of us of any nationality or color will be left standing.

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07 — A world for the immature.     Okay, something from the human sciences.

Did you ever read a news item that just seems to explain about three-quarters of everything you see around you? This segment of Derb TV is basically just a long quote. My excuse for that is that it is just such a news item. Listen and learn.

The quotee here is Bruce Charlton, a Professor of Biology at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Professor Charlton has a theory. His theory is that we're all getting more immature, or staying immature longer. Here's the long quote.

From the mid-twentieth century, due to an increasing need for individuals to change jobs, learn new skills, move to new places, and make new friends, a child-like flexibility of attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge became an asset to humans. Formal education requires a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning and cognitive flexibility. When formal education continues into the early twenties it counteracts the attainment of psychological maturity which would otherwise occur at about this age.

In the more stable societies of our ancestors psychological maturity was probably achieved during a person's late teens or early twnties. By contrast, many modern adults fail to attain this maturity; and such failure is common — and indeed characteristic — of highly-educated, and on the whole effective and socially valuable people.

People such as academics, teachers, scientists, and many other professions are often strikingly immature outside of their strictly specialist competence, in the sense of being unpredictable, unbalanced in priorities, and tending to over-react.

Since modern cultures now favor cognitive flexibility, immature people tend to thrive and succeed, and have set the tone for contemporary life. The faults of youth are retained along with the virtues. These include short attention span, sensation- and novelty-seeking, short cycles of arbitrary fashion, and a sense of cultural shallowness.

End quote.

So next time you're watching an old movie and thinking to yourself: "How grown-up they all look and sound!" — well, that's why.

We've created a world that favors immature people. As I said, it explains pretty much everything, dosen't it?

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08 — Worse than combat.     Here's a follow-up story on U.S. Marine Corporal Joshua Belile, the guy who wrote that hilarious "Hadji Girl" song. Well, I mean, you know, it's hilarious if you're not a stiff-as-a-board, PC-whipped career government bureaucrat.

That description unfortunately fits Corporal Belile's superiors in the Marine Corps. Quote from an Associated Press report: "Marine Corps officials said on Tuesday that Belile had not violated military law. He could, however, face administrative action, which can include informal counseling." End quote.

Oh, this is too cruel! I think I could face combat in Iraq. I believe I could face Marine Corps boot camp training. But, counseling? Some "diversity" expert lecturing me in "sensitivity" for hours on end? I'm not sure I could face that.

Come on, USMC. We can only ask so much from our uniformed personnel.

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09 — ECUSA news.     Here are two titbits from that institution at the very cutting edge of our spiritual culture: the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.

Item:  The episcopopolists in solemn conclave have elected a new primate. No, that's not "primate" as in swinging through trees, chomping on bananas, and displaying a bright blue rear end in courtship. This is "primate" as in "head bishop," to preside over all the other bishops, of which the ECUSA has over a hundred.

Well, this new primate-elect is a woman, the first woman ever to get the job. Bishop Schori is — wouldn't you know it — a flaming liberal, and then some. Asked for a comment on the direction she would like the church to take under her leadership, she replied, quote: "Our primary emphasis needs to be feeding people, educating children, and looking for healthcare for everybody."

Of course it does! and never mind those dusty old gospels.

[Takes sip from glass of red liquid.] Communion wine.

Did Bishop Schori support the consecration of Gene Robinson, an open homosexual, as Bishop of New Hampshire three years ago? Is a bean green?

Before taking holy orders, Mrs Schori was a marine biologist, specializing in squids and octopuses and other creatures without backbones. That should come in handy in her new position.

Item:  The Diocese of Newark, New Jersey needs a new bishop, as the old one is retiring. The Diocese has nominated four candidates for the election in September. One of the candidates is the Reverend Michael Barlowe, another openly homosexual minister.

Will the last heterosexual male left in the Episcopal Church please turn off the lights?

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10 — Signoff.     All right, NRO fans, I have to go burn a couple of flags.

Tune in again next week for more news from the cranky-con perspective.

Here's old Franz Joseph Haydn to play us out. Haydn, says Harold Schonberg in Lives of the Great Composers, "developed slowly, in a straight line." He started out as pretty much a peasant, and ended up the toast of Europe.

He seems to have been the nicest guy you'd meet in a month of Sundays; and in a long life — he died at age 77 — he made not a single enemy.

This is one of the marches Haydn wrote for the Derbyshire Regiment while visiting England.

This is John Derbyshire, and I'll see you again next week.

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[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]