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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. Thanksgiving is upon us, NRO fans, and with it comes a special Thanksgiving edition of Radio Derb for you to listen to while watching the Turkey defrost.
Put your feet up, pour yourself a glass of sherry, and give thanks along with me for all the wonderful variety and strangeness of this world … and all the follies of its human inhabitants, which supply me with a living and all of us with endless entertainment.
Here are a few random scenes from the passing parade.
|02 — The Stupid Party regroups. As the old saying goes: If you keep doing
what you're doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting.
House Republicans seem not to know that saying. Having had their guts handed to them on a plate by the electorate on November 7th, House Republicans have decided to stick with the leadership they've got: Jim Boehner and Roy Blunt.
The logic was that Boehner hasn't yet had time to make a proper pig's ear of his job, having only been in it since February; and Roy Blunt is — actual quote from an actual Republican congresscritter — "a great vote counter."
Hey, can I get that job? I know how to count.
Asked to explain themselves further, House GOP members muttered, "competence, not ideology." And the evidence of House GOP competence is, what? That they got hammered in the midterm elections?
I guess this is why they call us the Stupid Party.
|03 — Judicial restraint in New York! Pigs might fly and the age of
miracles may not yet have passed.
New York State's Court of Appeals has overruled a trial judge who had ordered the taxpayers of this state to pony up six billion dollars a year in new school funding. That trial judge was wrong, said the Court of Appeals. School funding is a matter for the state legislature and the state executive, not the courts.
Can you believe this? Judicial restraint in New York? It's as if San Francisco City Council were to declare Flag Day a public holiday. Amazing.
Not that we New Yorkers have any illusions that we're off the hook education-spendingwise. The education cartel is one of the great powers in this state, the other one being the hospital porters' union. Our Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer has already made it plain that when the teacher-union moguls say, "Jump!" his response will be to enquire politely: "How high?"
Well, to be precise, what he actually said was, quote:
We must provide more statewide funding than the constitutional minimum so that all of New York's schoolchildren have the opportunity to thrive in the 21st century workplace.
Why New York's children would not have the opportunity to thrive at the current level of funding — which is already one of the highest in the nation — is not clear.
One of the iron laws of liberal politics — which is the only kind of politics we practice here in the Empire State — is that whatever level of school funding you currently have is inadequate to a degree that most likely violates the state constitution.
|04 — Law enforcement = racial discrimination. Not that all of New
York's judges have been suddenly struck sane. Here is one judge, Colleen McMahon — actually a federal judge, but ruling on a case
concerning the village of Mamaroneck, New York.
Day laborers, mainly illegal immigrants, have been congregating on the streets of this little village — where, by the way, I got my first ever American speeding ticket — waiting to be picked up by local employers. Everyone concerned here is of course breaking federal law: the day laborers by crossing our borders without visas, and the employers by hiring them. But, of course, federal judges couldn't care less about any of that.
Well, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is one of those well-heeled illegal alien lobbying groups with which our nation seems to be infested nowadays, filed suit on behalf of six illegals, four from Guatemala and one each from Mexico and El Salvador.
The suit claimed that Mamaroneck police were practicing racial discrimination by asking the day laborers to move along. Now the village has to pay a million dollars or more in legal fees, and the local police have to sit in their patrol cars with their arms folded while the streets of the village clog up with illegal immigrants and cruising contractors.
Another great victory for civil rights.
|05 — Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, and Derb. Henry Kissinger's still around,
83 years old and still a player, or at least a guy whose opinions make news.
Henry's most recent opinion is that the Iraq war is a bust. Asked if military victory was possible, Henry said this:
If you mean by military victory an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control, in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don't believe that is possible.
Henry then added that the U.S.A. will have to make some kind of deal with Iraq's neighbors. That would be Iran and Syria, which means Iran and Iran, since Syria seems to be slipping contentedly into the role of Iranian stooge.
Iran looks to be the big guy on the block over there now, and the poison dwarf who runs the place is rarely photographed nowadays without a great big smile on his pockmarked little face. He looks like the cat that ate the cream.
I'm consoling myself as best I can with the thought that Li'l Squinty may find Iraq as hard to cope with as we have. They all know we're on the way out, anyway, and they're maneuvering for advantage when we're gone.
What a disaster the Iraq war has been! And no, that's not just me saying that. It's actually a British prime minister, Tony Blair, in an interview on Al Jazeera.
Challenged by interviewer Sir David Frost that the Western invasion of Iraq has, quote, "so far been pretty much of a disaster," the Prime Minister said: "It has."
Yes, it has. I'm not thrilled to find myself on the same page as Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair, but facts are facts.
|06 — W goes to Vietnam (at last). With everybody bailing out on an
increasingly unpopular war, this really wasn't the best time for our President to go to Vietnam for a summit of Pacific Rim national leaders.
Comparisons of Iraq with Vietnam and of George W. Bush with Lyndon Johnson were swirling around the media like leaves in a full windstorm. The President didn't make things any better by letting himself be photographed in a silly costume, some kind of traditional Vietnamese robe.
At this point, Mr. President, you should be holding on desperately to as much gravitas as you still have left, what with the election defeat and everybody dissing you on Iraq.
The President met with Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Hu Jintao at the Vietnam bash, but it's not clear if anything was accomplished other than a lot of vague windy declarations of intent to co-operate on this and that.
It's going to be a long two years.
|07 — The new Seven Wonders. Mr Bernhard Weber, who runs a foundation of
some kind in Switzerland, has asked people to offer nominations for a new list of Seven Wonders of the World.
More than twenty million people have so far voted. He says the nominations are pretty predictable: the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and so on.
I'd make a nomination myself, but I can't decide between John Kerry's ego, Pam Anderson's bust, and O.J. Simpson's chutzpa.
|08 — Celebrity poshlust. The late Vladimir Nabokov introduced us
to the Russian word poshlust, which means something like
"trashiness dressed up with bogus elegance." "The falsely important, the falsely beautiful, the falsely attractive," said
You don't have to go far in the modern world to find instances of poshlust. Case in point: The recent wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
The venue was the medieval castle of Odescalchi in Italy. A big clutch of celebrities was present. Famous tenor Andrea Bocelli sang, and the entire castle was lit by thousands of candles. A minister from the Church of Scientology conducted the ceremony.
If the castle were able to express an opinion it would probably prefer to have been stormed by a Mongol horde. The ancient stones, however, were mute. And no, that's not a reference to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, neither of whom was present — proving that at least someone in the celebrity world has taste.
|09 — Chutzpa from the dock. Did I mention chutzpa a
little way back there? Some sort of all-time award for chutzpa should go to Mr Raza Ul-Haq Aslam, who, as you have no doubt inferred from his
name, is an English bloke from the historic old English city of Bradford.
Mr Aslam has got himself into a spot of bother with the police. To be exact, he's on trial for murdering a female police officer.
This lady policeman, and a colleague who was shot but survived, had the impertinence to interrupt Mr Aslam and two friends while they were engaged in robbing a travel agent's office. Mr Aslam's accomplices, you might care to know, bore the fine old English names Hassan Razzaq and Muzzaker Imtiaz Shah.
I'm going to resist the temptation to pass a comment about the enriching benefits of Third World Immigration and pass directly to the chutzpa issue.
So here's Mr Aslam on trial for murdering a policewoman. Well, the police had announced a reward of £100,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case. Hearing of this, Mr Aslam had telephoned the police and gave them information about the murder weapon — which of course he was very familiar with — and the whereabouts of one of his accomplices.
He is now, from his position in the dock on trial for murder, claiming his reward.
The prosecuting counsel asked: "Do you believe you're entitled to it?" Mr Aslam replied: "I would like £100,000. I haven't done nothing wrong. Why shouldn't I have it?"
He has a point. You're innocent until proven guilty. Why shouldn't an innocent man claim his reward money?
Now that is chutzpa.
|10 — Signoff. That's the news, folks, at Thanksgiving 2006. I trolled
around the free sound clip websites in hopes of being able to bring you a real Turkey gobble, but the best I could find was this. [Weird poultry
sound.] I swear it sounds like Nancy Pelosi celebrating the election results.
Whatever. Forget your troubles — and America's — for a couple of days, get together with family and friends, give thanks for the pleasures and freedoms that haven't yet been outlawed, and tuck into a really traditional American meal.
Radio Derb will be back on the air next week. This is John Derbyshire signing off and wishing a very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]