»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, January 19th, 2007


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

01 — Intro.     Greetings, Radio Derb listeners. This is your genial host John Derbyshire bringing you news and views from the past seven days.

If there is a note of frazzlement in my voice, that's because we have the builders in here at Derb Mansions. [Loud construction noises.] I said we have the builders here. [Noise ends.] Oh boy.

Well, if you've been following our conversations on The Corner you'll know that I have been pondering a change of career, perhaps taking over the construction work from Billy and Rob here and handing over the social commentary to them. If Radio Derb suddenly switches to a strange voice, that will be what's happened.

Meantime, on with the show,


02 — The Girly Chickenhawk Argument.     You know the old Chickenhawk Argument, let's call it the CA for short.

The CA says that if you haven't served in the military yourself — or, in one slight variant, if you haven't been in actual combat under fire — then you have no right as a politician to order our troops into combat, and no right as a citizen to pass any opinion on military matters.

Well, our nation's Girly Party, that would be the Democratic Party, has come up with a Girly version of the Chickenhawk Argument. Let's call it the GCA: Girly Chickenhawk Argument. The GCA says that a single woman with no children — like, for example, our Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — has no understanding of the sacrifices involved in war and therefore shouldn't be involved in running a war.

Since the Democrats are the party of militant feminism, this was a bit like calling down fire on your own position … if Senator Boxer will forgive the military metaphor.

I'd like to say that the general notion that you can't form a good judgment about a matter unless you are personally and emotionally involved is a very feminine point of view, but of course that would be disgracefully sexist of me, so I won't say it.

I will say that Senator Boxer, now in her fifteenth year in the Senate and with ten years in the House before that, must have voted on an awful lot of things that did not affect her personally, and so which — according to her own theory — she should have kept quiet about and abstained from voting on.

Expecting a career politician to keep quiet about anything is of course hopelessly utopian.


03 — Twin Cities Muslim cabbies.     Here is one of those conundrums that multiculturalism throws up.

Over in Minneapolis St Paul — which, let me remind you, has been picked as the venue for the 2008 Republican Convention — around 75 percent of the cab drivers serving the Twin Cities airport are immigrants from Somalia. Because they're strict Muslims they've been refusing to accept passengers who are carrying alcohol — which, what with duty-free airport stores and so on, many passengers do.

Now, what are the rights and wrongs here? Naturally, there's a lot of inconvenience going on. People arrive at the airport and want a cab. They can't get one. That's a problem.

On the other hand, I myself have a strong aversion to private-sector anti-discrimination laws. I'd repeal the whole lot.

Governments should treat all citizens impartially, but I can't see why a private employer should have to hire people he doesn't want to hire, or why a private landlord should have to rent to people he doesn't want to rent to, or why a storekeeper should have to serve people he doesn't want to serve. I make strenuous efforts to prevent Radio Derb from broadcasting to people I don't like.

Logically, then, I support the right of these Muslim cabbies not to take passengers they don't want to take.

On the other hand there's a question of public amenity here. If you arrive at the Twin Cities airport and you can't get a cab, it's a long walk into town.

So what's the solution?

How about our immigration service stops admitting so many Somali Muslims?

Oh my God — I just said something shamefully, er, discriminatory.

I'm going to give you a minute or two to spot the joke there.


04 — Boy Heaven.     Sean Hornbeck was kidnapped at age eleven while riding his bike near the country town of Richwoods, Missouri. Four years and three months later, now aged 15, Sean was found at the home of a guy named Michael Devlin forty-eight miles away.

He'd been living at Devlin's all that time — not chained to the wall of Devlin's basement, but free to come and go, and make phone calls. In fact he was left alone for hours on end as Devlin went to work each day.

Why didn't the boy just make a run back to his parents, who he knew were looking him? I don't know, and neither do you, though of course everybody's got a theory. The professional psychologists are out in force on the radio and TV shows, and their theories are naturally the dumbest of all.

Having the very low opinion of human nature that I have, it'll be no surprise that my theory is the cynical end of the spectrum.

I note that Sean didn't go to school the four years he was with Devlin. He seems to have slept late, watched a lot of TV, and played a lot of video games.

Sleeping late, watching TV, playing video games, not going to school: I have to tell you to a lot of boys aged eleven to fifteen, that sounds like Heaven.

Sean was found when Devlin tried to abduct another boy. This other boy, name of Ben Ownby, was quickly found and returned to his parents. Quote from the New York Post report of that joyful reunion:

The spiky-haired boy grinned as his mother said, "He immediately went to the computer to play video games."

Boys, computer games. Yes, yes, I know: I'm a raddled old cynic. But I have a boy and my boy likes to play computer games. If you were to ask me: "Hey Derb. If your boy were to be taken away from you and put in a place where he could sleep late, watch TV, play video games, and not go to school, do you think he'd want to come home?"

Well, if you asked me that, my answer would be: I'd rather not know.


05 — Is Barack Obama black enough?     Say what you like about Barack Obama, but he's a psychologist's dream.

Talk about conflicted. The guy learned all about being a black American while growing up with his white mom, Indonesian stepfather, and white grandparents in that very black state, Hawaii, and that very black nation, Indonesia. He then further steeped himself in the rhythms of African American life by attending a tony private college in California, followed by Columbia University and Harvard Law School.

Senator Obama is a huge hit with white liberals who love that he's black but not, you know, black. Actual black Americans should and will make up their own minds, but their self-styled leaders are displaying a distinct coolness towards the Illinois Senator.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson, the first black candidate ever to run for President declined to endorse Obama. Quote: "Our focus right now is not on who's running because there are a number of allies running." End quote. The Reverend Al Sharpton, who joined the Democratic primary race in 2004, said he was considering another Presidential run of his own. And Harry Belafonte went so far as to say that America needed to be, quote, "careful" about Obama. Quote: "We don't know what he's truly about."

What's the problem here with all these spokesmen for African Americans? Why don't they like Obama? It can't be that he's not liberal enough. To be any more liberal than Obama you'd have to be campaigning for taxpayer-funded affirmative action for gay abortionists supervised by Cuban teacher unions.

Is it perhaps because Obama forgot to call himself a Reverend? Has he not been sufficiently vocal about police brutality, differential incarceration rates, or slavery reparations? It's all a mystery.


06 — Five minutes to Doomsday.     The Doomsday Clock was reset to show five minutes to midnight. It previously showed seven minutes to midnight.

This is that clock face that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has been putting on the cover of the journal since 1957, supposedly warning us about the end of the world.

What a clock! … I'm sorry, I mean crock. Of course the world might end tomorrow. It might also go on for another million years.

The Middle East nutsos might start lobbing hydrogen bombs at each other; or they might suddenly twig to the delights of consumer materialistic hedonism. The ChiComs might decide that it's time to put an end to the dominion of the round-eyes once and for all; or they might take a good look at stable, prosperous, pacifistic Japan and say, "Hey, that's the way to go!" Some horrid disease might come up and wipe us out; or some genius in a lab might develop a pill that banishes all diseases.

Nobody knows the future. Nobody even has a warm clue. I spent my adolescent years reading pretty much nothing but science fiction, and guess what? Nowhere in all those hundreds of novels and stories did anyone predict the personal computer, or the iPod, or GPS.

Only one thing is sure: that you and me and our precious consciousnesses and all our memories and beliefs and desires and regrets will cease to inhabit this world at some point a decade or two, or five, or eight from now.

Until then, let's get on with life and give the finger to those worrywarts and their dumb clock.


07 — Compean and Ramos go to jail.     U.S. Border Patrol agents José Alonzo Compean and Ignacio Ramos started their 11- and 12-year jail sentences on Wednesday.

They were sent down for shooting at an illegal immigrant drug dealer as he fled back across the border into Mexico and then covering up the fact that they had done so for fear of administrative consequences.

That these two guys deserve some kind of reprimand or sanction is indisputable. That they are going to jail for over a decade each is outrageous.

The administration is putting out the buzz that Compean and Ramos need to do some jail time but that the President will pardon them after a year. Whether that's so or not a great many Americans, including this one, have been shocked and stunned by the immense amount of federal resources put into this prosecution by comparison with the pretty-much-no federal resources devoted to enforcing the people's laws on immigration and citizenship.

The impression has been reinforced that this is an administration to whom currying favor with Mexican elites and crooked campaign donors looking for a steady supply of cheap labor are far, far more important than the livelihood of low-paid citizens, the quality of life in our towns and suburbs, or the integrity of the American nation — not to mention the lives and careers of federal employees who goof up while trying to do their job.

The prosecution of agents Compean and Ramos is a huge black mark on the George W. Bush White House and the Alberto Gonzalez Justice Department.


08 — Miscellany.     Here is our closing miscellany, folks.

Item:  Al Franken is considering a run for one of the U.S. Senate seats for the state of Minnesota.

Quote from Al: "It's unknown how people will respond to a comedian running for the Senate. I need to figure out a way to let people know I'm extremely serious about Minnesotans and their lives."

Al Franken's a comedian? Who knew?

And lots of luck getting a cab from the airport there, Al.


Item:  Prince Charles is flying to New York to pick up an award for his work on preserving the environment.

Jug Ears and his entourage of twenty flunkies have booked the entire first class and business class sections of a jumbo jet — sixty-two premium seats in all for a party of twenty.

Let's hope that jumbo jet uses unleaded fuel.


Item:  A radio station in Sacramento ran an on-air contest to see which listener could drink the most water without going to the bathroom. The prize was to be the latest super-duper video game console.

A 28-year-old woman promptly drank two gallons of water and … died. Cause of death: water intoxication.

You can get intoxicated from drinking water? News to me. It sure kills off all those W.C. Fields drinking jokes.


Item:  Robert Redford has demanded that the George W. Bush administration apologize for the Iraq war.

This was at a speech opening the Sundance Film Festival, whose exhibits this year include … let me see … a movie sympathizing with the lefty demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic Convention, a movie about the shenanigans at Abu Ghraib prison, a movie about a bunch of illegal Mexican immigrants heading to New York, a movie about the rape of a twelve-year-old girl, and a movie about bestiality.

Speaking of which, I note that Redford himself still hasn't apologized for The Horse Whisperer.


09 — Signoff.     There you are, listeners: a walk on the dark side with Ol' Derb, National Review's house pessimist … although, looking back over the transcript, there was a note of cheerfulness peeping through there, I thought.

Anyway, there'll be more of the same next week if that Doomsday Clock doesn't strike midnight between now and then. And if it does, just make sure you've filed your income taxes before the fallout hits, okay?


[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]