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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. The midterm elections are almost upon us, Radio Derb listeners. Are you excited yet? I guess it mainly depends on what's happening in your area.
Me, not. Even aside from the fact that I'm going to end up with left-liberal congresscritters representing me whatever I do, the performance of this Republican Congress has not been inspiring.
You know the list: runaway spending, open borders, earmarks, Abramoff, No Child Left Behind, and so on.
At times like these Hilaire Belloc's little quatrain always comes to mind.
The accurséd power which stands on privilege
|02 — Midtern voting dilemmas. To vote or not to vote, that is of course the
Well no, it's not really the question. Living out here in deep blue country where the electrical choices on offer to me range from squishy Left to Pol Pot, it really isn't worth the trouble. The real question for a chap of nation-spanning, election-swinging influence such as myself is whether to advise you to vote or not.
I'll admit I'm pretty much at a loss. Of course, if your local ballot includes a candidate who might actually vote against making it a federal offense to pick your teeth, or a candidate who does not walk bow-legged under the weight of all the lobbyist money in his pockets, or a candidate who thinks that what's good for Americans ought to be far, far more important to our government than what's good for foreigners, or a candidate who delivers all his speeches in the same language our Constitution was written in, or, heck, just a candidate who likes this country … Well, if you have one of those on your ballot, I hope you will go out and vote for him or her.
I'm not so lucky here in Patakistan, though I'll probably drag myself to the polling place anyway as there are a couple of decent types running for town and county officers. One of them I'm told is actually married to a person of the opposite sex and speaks English!
Nowadays you have to take what you can find.
|03 — Oz imam calls Western women "uncovered meat". Let's
take a trip down under and meet Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali, billed in the London Daily Telegraph as, quote, "Australia's most prominent
In a sermon marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan the Extremely Reverend al-Hilali told worshipers in Sydney that women who display their bodies were like, quote, "uncovered meat." He went on to say that women should stay hidden at home or else wear burkas in public.
Quote: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street or in the garden or in the park and the cats come and eat it, whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?"
For a little context here: There have been race riots between Australians and Muslim immigrants, and there is a high-profile trial under way involving a group of Muslim teenagers accused of gang-raping Australian women.
Assuming that this al-Hilali dude is not just another Borat-type comic putting us on, the question arises: Are we at the point yet where it is reasonable to wonder whether Muslims in large numbers can live at peace in Western countries, like … ever?
I've been resisting this thought myself, but I've got to confess my resistance is starting to wear thin.
|04 — President signs unnecessary, unfunded border fence act.
President Bush has finally signed the Secure Fence Act authorizing seven hundred miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Everybody was very polite at the signing ceremony, pretending not to notice the skid marks on the floor from when our President had been dragged to the signing desk by two teams of wild horses. Four congressmen gripped the President's wrist firmly and moved it for him so that the signing was accomplished at last.
Said the President, smiling through clenched teeth: "Forgive me, Vicente! ¡Perdóname! They made me do it!
No, no, I'm kidding. Of course that's not what he said. What he really actually said was, quote: "Unfortunately the United States has not been in complete control of its borders for decades and therefore illegal immigration has been on the rise." End quote.
"For decades," please note. That includes this President's entire first term and nearly half of his second.
And if I may spoil the party yet further, this bill was completely unnecessary. It instructs the Secretary of Homeland Security to construct a fence, a thing that no law of the United States prevented him from doing if he'd felt inclined, and if the President had let him.
But wait a minute: Isn't congressional authority required so that funds can be appropriated for this fence? It sure is; but the Act doesn't actually provide that funding, though a recent Homeland Security bill allocated a small part of it.
So this Act orders the Executive to do something it should long ago have done on its own initiative, without providing any funds for the doing of it. And the topic here, just to remind you, is securing the borders of our country five years after 9/11.
|05 — Virginia is for buffoons. The Virginia Senate race looks set fair to
go down in the record books as the silliest political contest ever.
First, there was the "macaca" business where Senator George Allen used a nonsense word to a South Asian reporter. Nobody knew what the word meant, but since the person that it was used at had brown skin, everyone was pretty sure it must be racist.
Sure enough, diligent research among the languages of the world revealed that macaca in one of the lesser known medieval Tibetan dialects meant a person who fails to wash his hands after milking the yak, and Allen stood condemned as a racist.
Then someone alleged that he had heard someone say that they thought they'd been a rumor that it had been alleged that back in 1970, George Allen might have said something unflattering about Australian aborigines.
Then the Allen people counter-attacked by alleging that Jim Webb had been heard to deny that the Tailhook shenanigans back in 1991 were the greatest atrocity against the female sex since the rape of the Sabine women.
Latest development: The Allen people have spotted some sex passages in fiction written by Jim Webb, who writes fiction.
Yo, guys: Fiction is stuff the author has made up. It's not real. It's fiction.
What next in this barrage of buffoonery? Charges that Senator Allen picks his nose when he thinks no one's looking?
Did someone mentioned issues — war, taxes, immigration, entitlements? No, no, no, nobody cares about any of that stuff. Macaca!
|06 — Iraq fiasco needs metric. "I'm trying to figure out a metric that
says things are getting better," President Bush told a group of conservative journalists, referring of course to Iraq.
I'm trying to think of a way to interpret the President's statement — "to figure out a metric," you might say — that doesn't leave me weeping in despair.
What our President seems to be saying there is that is every measure of how things are going in Iraq, every measure we've so far been able to devise, tells us that things are going really, really badly. If only we could find a measure that doesn't say that!
Well, Mr President, perhaps the reason we can't find such a metric is … oh, never mind.
Any patriot looking at the mess in Iraq must feel anger, humiliation, and despair. We have a tiger by the tail over there. It's possible the tiger will get tired of thrashing around so we can let go at last. It's much, much more likely that we'll get tired of holding on and end up getting eaten, or at least badly mauled.
If you can figure out a metric that measures out a path to some third alternative, you're smarter than I am; and come to think of it, you're smarter than any of the commentators I've read.
What a horrible mess! What a ghastly blunder! The newspapers are saying that the Iraq War is at the front of voters' minds and that it might sink the Republican Congress and the Bush Presidency.
Can you put your hand on your heart and say that those calamities for Republicans would be undeserved? I can't and, hell, I supported this fool war.
If we go down to defeat because of this war, it'll be a defeat we deserved. Now figure out a metric to deny that.
|07 — Know your deficits. Is the U.S. economy in good shape or not? It depends
who you talk to; and it also depends how deep you look.
Most of us feel bad about the economy when gas prices go up, or when house prices go down, or our mutual funds flatline. To the guys who do heavy-duty economic analysis, however, these are just transient surface phenomena, no more likely to mean what you and I think they mean that to mean the opposite of what we think they mean.
These guys — I hang out with them from time to time and I get little seminars on economic science — these guys swat around much more technical terms — like, for example, "current account deficit." That is very approximately a measure of the difference between how much we import in goods and services versus how much we export.
What's it telling us? Well, it's the biggest it's ever been. It reached eight hundred billion dollars in the first eight months of this year.
The budget deficit, on the other hand — that's the difference between what the U.S. government spends and what it brings in in taxes — the budget deficit has been declining.
Are you getting this? Current account deficit: huge and swelling. Budget deficit: modest and declining.
What does it all mean? Well, my economist friends tell me that the first thing will lead to, quote, "currency adjustments," with the greenback losing value internationally so that all those imports are more expensive, and then the deficit declines. The downside is that you'll be able to afford less stuff and consumer spending will stagnate and the economy will tank.
The other one — the dwindling budget deficit — is nice, but, they tell me, strictly temporary, and it will go bad again as soon as retiring Baby Boomers start making demands on the Treasury.
Listen, I'm just telling you what they say, and pointing out that this stuff is probably a whole lot more important to you and your family than macaca.
|08 — Same-sex marriage by judicial fiat. New Jersey's State Supreme Court,
it says here, has opened the door to homosexual marriage. I guess that must be the back door.
The robed sages of Trenton warned us peasants that we are horrible, horrible people for persisting in believing what pretty much every human being on earth has believed for ten thousand years.
They then warned the state legislature that if they didn't get moving with putting into law a complete overhaul of customary morality and the English language, then the philosopher-kings of judicial wisdom would be forced to take matters into their own hands, and God forbid the people of New Jersey should have anything to say about it.
This is a matter of civil rights, don't you know? And when some dude in a black robe utters the words "civil rights" you snap to attention and say, "Sir! Yes, Sir!" Don't you know that these people run the country?
What's that you say? You thought we citizens ran the country. [Prolonged laughter.]
|09 — Signoff. That's all for this week, folks.
The midterm election is next week. Vote early and vote often, if you can find anyone worth voting for; and if you can, I envy you.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]