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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Please excuse my voice radio listeners. I am a little horse. [Horse whinny sound.] This is a consequence of last night's tenth anniversary party for National Review Online. A great time was had by all, but I did a lot of talking and my voice hasn't yet recovered.
The show must go on though, and here it is: this week's installment of Radio Derb. You wouldn't want to miss your weekly reminder that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, would you? Of course not.
|02 — How's the GOP doing? Conservatism means limited government,
traditional social values, patriotism, and a strong national defense. Well, that's what conservatism means to me anyway.
So how do our Republican national executive and our Republican legislature measure up on these points?
Well, not too badly for all the grumbling from people like … well, like me. The principle of limited government is looking a bit battered after the explosive growth in spending by our Republican congresses and the failure of our Republican President to veto any of the extravagance. That's a big black mark, there's no denying it.
Against that — I mean, to the government's credit — you can set the reduction in the deficit that President Bush justifiably boasted of last week; though even there it's not out of place to note that the deficit reduction would have been far more dramatic if Uncle Sam wasn't spending like a drunken sailor.
On traditional values and patriotism there have been no real outrages, though a lot of conservatives still think that holding the line just isn't good enough; and a lot more conservatives think that there is a dismaying lack of patriotism displayed in the administration's refusal to enforce our immigration laws.
On national defense the big negative is the Iraq war, which it is now plain to everyone except a few senior administration officials is a ghastly fiasco and is hindering us from dealing with more serious issues like Iran and North Korea.
All in all, it's hard for conservatives to feel happy about these last few years of Republican government. Of course, the alternative is worse; but a lot of us are recalling that, as awful as Jimmy Carter was, he was followed by Ronald Reagan, who would, in turn, have been followed by a further eight or sixteen years of Reaganite presidencies if the Bush family and Ross Perot hadn't shown up.
"The worse the better." Right now that looks like an awfully tempting slogan.
|03 — Tech dreams … and nightmares. North Korea set off a big
underground explosion and claimed it was nuclear.
There were calls for all sorts of things to be done, from the Chinese mildly asking the Norks to behave themselves, to me calling for the assassination of Kim Jong Il.
It is in fact unlikely that anything will be done. The Nork bomb, if it is a bomb, should be seen in its historical context as the raising of the curtain on a new phase of nuclear proliferation.
Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now pretty much everybody will have the bomb. Brazil, Burma, Burundi, they'll all have bombs. Hey, it's sixty-year-old technology. It's like valve radios or steam trains or X-ray machines in the shoe store.
It'll be a merry old world when every fly-specked Third World despotism has the ability to erase New York. Whether they'll be able to resist the temptation to do so, and whether we should be able to do anything to stop them, are very interesting questions.
My own guesses would be no and no. Imagined technologies usually arrive. They just don't arrive on the imagined schedule. Popular Mechanics-type magazines of 1950 or so featured personal helicopters, family vacations on Mars, videophones and stuff like that. The assumption was that these things would all show up about 1970.
Well they didn't; but videophones have finally arrived and private enterprise space travel is now getting started at last.
Likewise, the great nuclear scares of that time, when Americans were being urged to buy family fallout shelters, were not mistaken, they were only premature. Five or ten years from now the market in fallout shelters will once again be booming.
That would be my guess. Personal helicopters? Well, they would save us a ton of money on highway maintenance … but I'd want much stricter drunk-driving laws.
|04 — Where are D.C.'s eligible men? A few days ago a lady named Kelly
McTaggart had an op-ed piece in the Washington Post complaining that there aren't enough single men in Washington, D.C.
According to the Census Bureau (according to Ms McTaggart) the District of Columbia has the lowest — read, "the worst" — ratio of single men to single women in the nation. For every one hundred single women in Washington there are only 93.4 men. That's just over nine-tenths of a man for every woman.
The lady goes on to say: "Now, if you've been single for as long as I have in this town, nine-tenths of a man is starting to sound pretty good."
I suppose that depends on which tenth is missing, doesn't it?
This column drew a testy response in the Letters columns of the Post from one Marc Mauer of something named the sentencing project. Said Mr Mauer: "The District, like other cities with large low-income populations, incarcerates people at a rate three to five times that of many states." In short, the missing men that Ms McTaggart grumbles about are mostly locked up.
Why is that? Mr Mauer tells us that it is "a consequence of our failure to provide quality education while waging a war on drugs."
What he means is if instead of spending a bazillion dollars per student on inner city schools, as we currently do, we spent a bazillion gazillion, and if we let people smoke crack cocaine and shoot up heroin with no interference from the law, then there'd be lots of fine men for Ms McTaggart to date.
I hereby nominate Mr. Mauer's letter — it's in the October 12th Washington Post — I nominate Mr Mauer's letter to be buried in a time capsule as an exceptionally pure specimen of early 21st-century liberal insanity.
|05 — Dragging W to the finish line on a border fence. Tom Wolfe fans will
recall that scene from Bonfire of the Vanities where Sherman McCoy, who lives with his wife and infant daughter in a grand Park Avenue
apartment, wants to make a phone call to his mistress.
This being pre-cellphone days, Sherman goes outside to a public phone. As a pretext for doing so he tells his wife he's going to walk the dog. It's raining however, and the dog is desperately un-keen to be walked. He digs his little claws into the sidewalk. Quote from the incomparable king of contemporary fiction.
He gave the leash another jerk, and then he kept the pressure on. He was leaning like a sailor into the wind. He was getting hot inside his rubberized riding mac. The rain was running down his face. The dachshund had his feet splayed out on the sidewalk. His shoulder muscles were bulging. He was thrashing from side to side. His neck was stretched out. Thank God he wasn't barking, at least. He slid — Christ! you could hear it, you could hear his toenails scraping along the sidewalk! He wouldn't give an inch. Sherman had his head down, his shoulders hunched over, dragging this animal through the darkness and the rain on Park Avenue. He could feel the rain on the back of his neck.
Does this remind you of anything? What brought it to my mind was reading about our President's reluctance to tell us whether he intends to sign the Secure Fence Act, which provides for seven hundred miles of double-layer fence along our nation's southern border.
Not only would the President not tell inquiring journalists that he was willing to sign the Act, he seemed to be doing his best to confuse them, in some cases successfully — see page six of the October 7th issue of The Economist — to confuse them by making a big show of signing a routine annual Homeland Security appropriations bill that includes funding for about 150 miles of border fence.
This bill was not the Secure Fence Act, but the President was striving hard to pretend that it was.
In the matter of making our nation secure against unwanted intruders, George W. Bush is Sherman McCoy's dog — toenails trying to dig into the sidewalk as we pull him whining and screeching to fulfill his sworn Constitutional duty.
|06 — Celebrities save the world, one fad at a time. What do you get
for the man who has everything? went the old Christmastime question.
Well, if you have a rich movie or pop-music airhead on your Christmas list, the currently fashionable accessory for these folk is a cute little African baby. Madonna has just picked up one from Malawi. The infant cost her about three million bucks, apparently.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with a fourteen percent AIDS infection rate and about a million orphans among its twelve million population — proportionally equivalent to about twenty-five million orphans in the USA.
Madonna's adopting this infant follows Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie deliberately choosing to have their baby born in Namibia, another dirt-poor African country.
This fad for cute African babies or babies born in Africa is well intentioned, I suppose, but it's hard to believe that these dimwitted butterflies like Madonna and Pitt have any clue what to do about Africa's real problem, which is crappy government. It's also hard to imagine that the fad will last any longer than one of their marriages.
They came; they smiled their vapid, patronizing smiles; they flung a few dollars around; then they moved on to the next celebrity fashion statement.
|07 — New U.N. human rights panel, same as old panel. You remember the
scandalous old United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the one that regularly used to hand over its chairmanship to the likes of Libya, Cuba, and
Well, with the help of some pressure from Uncle Sam, this horrible Commission was scrapped earlier this year, replaced by a brand new outfit called the Human Rights Council under a completely different charter.
No more shoddy dictatorships overseeing the worldwide implementation of human rights, right?
Uh, not exactly. In fact, the new body is proving to be even worse than the old one.
Brushing aside attempts by Western countries to bring the massacres in Darfur and Uzbekistan to its attention, the new Council has issued six — count 'em: six — official condemnations of … Can you guess which nation? Ri-ight: Israel.
The problem is, seventeen of the forty-seven governments represented on the Council belong to the Organization of the Islamic Conference and they are calling all the shots.
Black Christian peasants massacred by the Islamic government in Sudan? Security forces massacring protestors in Muslim Uzbekistan? Buddhist nuns tortured in Chinese jails? White farmers driven off their land by beatings and murders in Zimbabwe?
Oh, never mind any of that! When trying to stop Hezbollah firing rockets at random into her cities, Israel killed some Lebanese civilians. What outrage could possibly compare with that? That's the message from the U.N.
Well, here's my candidate for the biggest outrage of all: that the United Nations and the corrupt verminous parasites who staff it are allowed to carry out their filthy work on U.S. territory. They should be expelled and the U.N. headquarters site should be burned to the ground and the ground should then be sown with salt.
The U.N. is an atrocity, an insult to all human decency and human values, and it should not occupy one square inch of U.S. soil.
Am I making my feelings plain here? I hope so.
|08 — The Empire State of brazen politicians. Now, you don't want to hear my
problems, but … you're going to.
Here's a snippet from my local community paper, David Wilmott, Sr.'s very excellent Suffolk Life.
Last year New York State took the usual extravagant amounts of money from state residents in the form of taxes, the highest in the nation.
Now, I am not one of those people who think that all politicians should be boiled in oil after first having had their finger and toenails ripped out and molten lead poured down their throats. No, I don't advocate that, not so far as politicians in general are concerned. I would make an exception, though, for the politicians of New York State.
|09 — Radio Derb golden oldie: one lump or two? Here's a Golden Oldie from
back in September 2005. It is one of my very, very rare comments on the pop music scene.
[Clip from September 22nd, 2005.] Pop music kind of left me behind round about, oh, 1975. I still from time to time take a peek to see what's going on in there though. So what's going on?
Well, a reader passed on some lyrics he came across while channel-surfing on his car radio and I thought I'd share them with you.
The following stanza is from a little number titled "My Humps," performed by a group named Black-Eed Peas. You Ready? Here we go.
Whatcha gonna do with all that junk?
Cole Porter, thou shouldst be living at this hour. America hath need of thee. She is a fen of stagnant waters … and lovely lady lumps.
|10 — Signoff. There you are, listeners. I made it through the broadcast
without my voice giving way completely.
I shall gargle diligently for the next few days and come back loud and strong next week with more Radio Derb.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]