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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. Another week, another dollar. Still haven't done my bloody taxes. Estonian citizenship is looking pretty good right now — they have a flat tax in Estonia.
Oh, well. Radio Derb here, ladies and gents; and this is your host, John Derbyshire, ready to span the world looking for all the news you need to know. Let's get started.
|02 — A-G fires prosecutors. All right, I've done my best with the
Gonzales business — you know, him firing all those federal
prosecutors — but I really can't get excited one way or another.
The U.S. Attorney General seems to have been a bit free with the truth, and he seems to have encouraged his officials to be likewise in their dealings with Congress. Or, as Gonzales himself expressed it in his lawyerly way, quote: "Incomplete information was communicated or may have been communicated to Congress," end quote.
Children, do not try this at home. If caught fibbing about who took the last cookie from the jar, do not say "incomplete information was communicated or may have been communicated to Dad."
Well, well: Federal prosecutors are really just politicians at one remove — that should, in fact, be "one or fewer removes" — and who cares what happens to politicians?
Gonzales strikes me as a deeply unimpressive character with about as much clue as to the meaning of conservatism as my dog has.
Look on the bright side though: He's not Janet Reno. And she fired 93 federal prosecutors.
|03 — China and her discontents. Is China going to be the next
I hear two different China stories. The first story says: Yes, China is building a glittering modern state, all working like a well-oiled machine — a huge version of Singapore, highly educated and prosperous, ready to kick the poor old U.S.A. off the sidewalk ten or twenty years from now.
The second China story I hear is that the nation's levels of corruption, political helplessness, and environmental degradation just keep getting worse, and there will be some sort of horrible crash in the near future.
The first story I mostly hear from foreigners who've visited China. The second I mostly hear from Chinese people returning from trips over there. There's always more to China than meets the eye.
Well, last week in Zhushan, a town in central China, there were riots involving 20,000 people. The riots started when a local entrepreneur took over the town bus company and doubled all the bus fares.
This is the tip of the iceberg. There are disturbances like this all the time in provincial China, most of them not reported.
Are they just growing pains, the inevitable stresses that occur when different parts of the country get rich at different rates? Or are they symptoms of some deep systemic problem that will get worse and worse until something gives way?
Your guess is as good as mine. Plainly, China is not going to be another U.S.S.R. It won't necessarily be another U.S.A., either, though. Perhaps it will end up as another Brazil.
|04 — U.S. President grovels to narco-state. George W. Bush issued a moving
and heartfelt pledge to the people and the government that he will, quote, "work as hard as I possibly can to pass comprehensive immigration
Oh, did I mention that the people and government he's pledging to are the people and government of Mexico? This was at a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderón the other day.
Calderón put Bush on the carpet, scolding him for not doing enough to help Mexico export its criminals and surplus peasants to American cities. "Migration can't be stopped with a fence," Calderón lectured our president.
Well, let's see, shall we? A fence seems to me like a pretty good start. If it doesn't work, we can move onto other things: minefields, patrols of Apache helicopter gunships, and so on.
Instead of telling Calderón to go boil his head, Bush groveled and pledged like a schoolkid up before the principal.
I don't know who we're going to elect as the 44th president in 2008, but I really hope it will be someone who cares more about America, American working people, and American interests than he does about the corrupt and dysfunctional narco-state to our south.
|05 — Congress mulls immigration. Meanwhile, there are encouraging signs
that our system of representative government may actually be willing to do a bit of representing in the matter of immigration policy.
While the administration goes through the motions of enforcing immigration law, with one crackdown on an employer here, another one there, the U.S. Congress is mulling the much-advertised "comprehensive immigration reform."
As our own Mark Krikorian pointed out on NRO the other day, both political parties are in a bit of a bind here. The Republicans' traditional concern for law, order and patriotism has crashed headlong into their other traditional concern for business interests, who naturally prefer cheap workers to expensive ones.
On the other side, the Democrats' traditional concern for ordinary American workers has collided with their more recent passion for pandering to racial-grievance lobbies and love-the-world sentimentality.
The AFL-CIO is demanding that guest-workers be paid the same as Americans, which from the point of view of employers makes the whole guest-worker racket a bit pointless.
Mark holds out the hope that these contradictions might keep the whole amnesty-and-open-borders programs stalled for the rest of this Congress and Presidency.
I wouldn't be so optimistic myself, but the more time voters have to find out about the open-borders lobbies and their tactics, the fiercer will be public hostility to the whole idiotic project.
|06 — Israeli Ambassador's hands are tied. The trouble with being an Israeli
diplomat is you don't get invited to many parties. It's lonely representing a pariah nation, and the Devil makes work for idle hands.
Back in 2000 the Israeli ambassador to France died from a heart attack in a Paris hotel room while entertaining a woman not his wife.
Then in 2005, there was the scandal about a member of Israel's mission in Brazil publishing pornographic pictures on the internet.
Last year the Israeli ambassador to Australia got recalled for publicly observing that Israel and Australia are kin because both are located in Asia yet their peoples don't have, quote, "yellow skin and slanted eyes."
Well here comes Tzuriel Refael, Israeli's ambassador to El Salvador. The other day His Excellency was found in the embassy compound, bound and gagged, wearing nothing but some minimalist sadomasochistic accessories.
Refael was able to identify himself to police, but only after a rubber ball had been removed from his mouth. He seems to have been somewhat the worse for drink. Let's hope that was kosher champagne he was drinking.
The newspapers had great sport with this, indulging themselves in a lot of predictable jokes about Moses having led the Israelis out of bondage, etc., etc.
For goodness' sake give these guys something to do.
|07 — Buggery in the barracks. General Peter Pace, who is the Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Chicago Tribune that, quote, "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that
we should not condone immoral acts," end quote. This was in response to a question about the military's policy of not asking and not telling the
sexual orientation of servicepeople.
As little as twenty years ago this remark would have been unexceptionable and you would have had trouble finding anyone to disagree with it. Now just about everybody — notably Senator John Warner, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee — just about everybody is furious with General Pace for saying such a horrible thing. Which just goes to prove that the common understanding of morality is awfully mutable.
I confess I'm all over the place on this. On the one hand, I'd like my military leaders to be conservative on basic social issues, since custom and tradition are good binding forces and a military that isn't tightly bound isn't going to perform well. Furthermore, I think I have some kind of a clue how men work together in military combat units, and I find it really hard to see how homosexual affections could be fitted into that.
On the other hand, outside the combat arms — and by the way, I think all servicewomen should be placed outside the combat arms — outside the combat arms, I can't see that a person susceptible to homosexual affections could do much harm. So "don't ask, don't tell" seems pretty sensible, so long as the policy is coupled with strong deterrents to keep homosexuals out of combat units.
General Pace was careful to say that it's the acts he objects to, not the orientation. Again, it seems to me that the military has a right to prohibit certain acts if it collectively believes they hinder good military discipline.
The military isn't like the rest of society. It's there to do an extraordinary thing: mass collective violence against our country's enemies. To do that thing well, the military needs to be to some degree walled off from the practices and concerns of the rest of society.
If my boss tells me to do something and I don't do it, he can hand me a pink slip. If an officer tells me to do something under fire and I don't do it, he can shoot me; and it is right that he should have that authority.
Different rules, see? It has to be that way.
|08 — Cheap labor: the mother lode. Last week there was a terrible house
fire in New York city. It killed ten People, nine of them children.
There were 22 people living in the ordinary-sized house, 17 of them children. The fellow who owned the house and who lives there with his two wives was an immigrant from Mali, which is a dirt-poor country in West Africa. This man lost five of his nine children in the fire. Four other children survived, as did both of his wives, though one of the wives was critically injured. The other adult male in the house, also an immigrant from Mali, lost all four of his children and his wife too.
Commentary on the story has been very restrained out of proper respect for the sufferings of the bereaved. The story does though, touch on a number of current obsessions.
The second man, the one whose wife and four children all died, was an illegal immigrant. He's taken the bodies of his loved ones back to Mali for burial, but waivers have been given by the immigration authorities so that he can return to New York.
Everybody involved in this story is Muslim.
Now, I'm just as horrified by this dreadful event as anyone, but I do think it gives us a peek into the future.
Forget about Mexico. If our President really wants to match willing workers from anywhere at all with willing employers, Muslim West Africa will be a major source of immigrants over the next few years.
The median age in Mali is 16 years; in the United States it's 37. The birth rate in Mali is 50 births per 1,000 people; in the U.S. it's 14. For cheap labor, Africa is the mother lode, and 22 people crammed into an ordinary-sized dwelling place is a thing which you'll be seeing much more of.
Quote from the Daily Telegraph over in London, quote:
At least 2.2 million migrants will arrive in the rich world every year from now until 2050, the United Nations said yesterday.
|09 — One cheer for Elaine Chao. With Donald Rumsfeld gone, the last
remaining member of George W. Bush's original cabinet is Elaine Chao, the Secretary for Labor.
You don't hear much about her and I'm willing to bet that not one American in three could tell you what the Department of Labor actually does. I was one of the other two until a half hour ago when I looked up the Department's website.
What do they do? Well, they enforce a bunch of laws relating to fair wages, disability and unemployment benefits, and the like. This is the kind of stuff that makes economists squirm, at least the kind of economists favored here at National Review. Probably no-one would notice if the Department of Labor were abolished.
Because of the insane American system of tying health coverage to employment, the Labor Department has a finger in the healthcare pie too; and because of the universally-recognized need to undercut American wages by importing foreigners to do our jobs more cheaply, the Department of Labor has stuff to say about immigration policy too.
What Mrs Chao has actually said about these things has never deviated by more than a millimeter from the White House policy line, which I guess is why she's still with us.
She seems like a decent sort though, if you discount some pro forma multiculti whining about so-called discrimination against so-called "Asians and Pacific Islanders" — as if a Pakistani, a Mongolian, and a Samoan have anything in common.
Furthermore, she doesn't seem to have done any actual harm, which for six years in a cabinet position is pretty noteworthy all by itself.
I offer my tepid congratulations to Mrs Chao on having survived those six years in the Bush White House. I hope she'll survive two more and that her cabinet department will then be abolished forever.
|10 — Miscellany. Just a couple of brief items to end up with.
Item: Hillary Clinton told a howling, swooning, weeping, keening crowd of Clintonites in New Hampshire that yes, Virginia … well, I guess that should be "yes, New Hampshire," yes, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy.
Poor Hillary's sucking for breath here, Barack Obama having cleverly removed all the air from the room.
Keep trying, honey. Instead of watching with terror as Hillary ascends to the nation's highest political office, we may find ourselves watching with glee as she slithers down ignominiously to the bottom of the heap.
This campaign might be fun after all.
Item: The Association of Social Anthropologists, an academic society over in the U.K., has ruled that the terms "primitive" and "stone age" may no longer be used to refer to peoples who are, well, technologically challenged.
Explained the Guardian newspaper: "If you call someone 'stone age' or 'primitive,' it sounds like you think they are inferior to you."
Well: No thoughtful person ever did use the offending terms to refer to someone, only to some societies. And a society that sustains itself by grubbing for roots with stone implements, supplementing its diet with cannibalism from time to time, is indeed primitive and stone age. What else is it?
A society that chews on human flesh is indeed inferior to one that eschews human flesh, isn't it? All men are created equal, but all societies are not — not unless tribalism, despotism, slavery, ritual sacrifice, and cannibalism are just as good as law, liberty, the eucharist, and veal parmigiana.
Well, that's pretty much how I recall it from Herodotus.
Herodotus is of course a dead white male and therefore an ignorant fascist. And this movie is a gross offense to multiculturalism.
I hope it makes a billion dollars.
Item: Media mogul Ted Turner remarked the other day at a speech in San Francisco about global warming that, quote: "The Chinese are very smart. Just think: Have you ever met a dumb Chinaman?" End quote.
You can imagine the howls of horror and outrage. I mean for Heaven's sake: Next thing you know, Ted will be saying that Chinese people are clean and articulate.
When will these insults be outlawed? And when will Ted Turner stop hanging out with Israeli diplomats?
Perhaps we could get Elaine Chao on the case. She's Chinese and therefore smart, so she'll know what to do.
Item: The British government has just put out a report complaining that British people throw out 3.3 million tons of edible food every year.
The report does not tell us what Britons do with the inedible food … but I think we know, don't we?