»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

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

01 — Intro.     John Derbyshire here, NRO fans, with all Hell breaking loose in the news pages this week.

There's a constitutional crisis a-brewing in Washington, the Earth's oceans are boiling away, illegal immigrants are being appointed as federal prosecutors because Americans won't do the work, and Britney's out of rehab and on the loose again.

If you have a well-provisioned bomb shelter, go to it — but not until you've heard this week's installment of Radio Derb.

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02 — Message from Planet Al.     Al Gore, high priest of the global warming cult, was on Capitol Hill to address the House Energy Committee.

"The planet has a fever," thundered Big Al. "If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor."

Well, that's an interesting line of thought. Will our planet break out in a rash? Does it need burping? Shall we have to change its diaper? There's a thought.

In fact, while your average baby is a little helpless thing, I suspect that our planet is pretty well able to look after itself. Earth's climate has never been stable and has occasionally been very dramatically un-stable without any assistance from us. Think of the Ice Ages, for Heaven's sake.

The wise course for humanity is to practice adapting to global fluctuations, since they are going to occur anyway, whatever we do. And that is even setting aside the conservative conviction, which I share, that anything we do — or, more precisely, anything we delegate our governments to do — will in all probability end up making things worse.

There is a whole political category of people who believe that God put them on earth to boss the rest of us around. The mid-20th century was a golden age for these types, what with command economies, socialism, the welfare state, and the rise of the U.N.

The successes of capitalism and the failures of internationalism in recent years have left these folk feeling a bit shut out, though. They need a new cause to rally to, and global warming is it. I doubt they will end up doing as much harm as the socialists and communists did, but it won't be for want of trying.

Closing quote from Al Gore, quote: "There is a sense of hope in this country that this United States Congress will rise to the occasion and present meaningful solutions to this crisis." End quote.

Boy, does this guy live a sheltered life! U.S. Congress, meaningful solutions? What color is the sky on Planet Al? Perhaps we should send a space probe.

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03 — Feds kill border enforcement, one agent at a time.     I'd guess that Radio Derb listeners are familiar with the case of Border Patrol agents Compean and Ramos, sentenced to long prison terms for shooting at an illegal immigrant drug smuggler as he tried to flee from them back into Mexico.

The federal attorney who brought that case was Johnny Sutton. His principal witness was the Mexican drug-runner who was given immunity to testify and who was apparently carrying on his business while testifying. Well, U.S. Attorney Sutton has been busy again with the people's business.

Deputy Sheriff Guillermo Hernandez of Edwards County, Texas shot out the tires of a truck full of illegal immigrants as it fled after trying to run him down. One of the illegals claimed to have been struck by metal splinters.

When the Mexican government heard about that, they yelled, "Jump!" and Johnny Sutton yelled back, "How high?"

An investigation had already cleared the deputy of wrongdoing, but that counted for nothing with Attorney Sutton. He couldn't find a lowlife drug dealer to testify and he had to make do with ordinary illegal aliens.

He got his conviction, though not the six years jail time he wanted. Deputy Hernandez has to serve a year, pay over $5,000 to the illegal alien, pay another $5,000 in fines, and serve three years probation.

Given the general attitude of the Bush administration to border enforcement, I guess that if current U.S. Attorney General Gonzales does get fired, as many are speculating, Johnny Sutton is a good bet to take his place. Then he'll be in a position to really destroy U.S. border enforcement efforts.

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04 — Democratic nomination contest gets down & dirty.     There are few things that gladden the heart of a conservative more than watching liberals fight.

There promises to be plenty of that in the coming Presidential campaign, with two strong candidates looking for the Democratic Party nomination.

We got a sweet taste of the pleasures to come with the incident of the anti-Hillary, pro-Obama clip on YouTube the other day. The clip showed Hillary lecturing an audience of zombies from a huge screen, in the style of Big Brother in that old movie of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. An athlete comes in and smashes the screen with a hammer. The text says: "On January 14th the Democratic primary will begin and you will see why 2008 isn't going to be like 1984." Then the clip signs off with "BarackObama.com."

Senator Obama has been pushing himself as the candidate who's going to rescue us from all that unpleasant political snarling and sniping, lift us up to a higher level of national consciousness, unite us in glorious harmony, purify our national life, cure the common cold, and all the rest of that kind of political claptrap that will get you sixty percent of the female vote and five percent of the male one.

This kind of uplift is not available to Mrs Clinton since everyone would laugh out loud if she tried it. We all know, and she knows that we know, that a Clinton would kick old ladies off the sidewalk if it would win votes.

With all that in mind, I assumed that the offending video was planted by the Clinton people to take some of the shine off Obama's lofty purity. Nope. It turns out that it was an Obama guy who did it, though without the senator's authorization, the senator tells us.

So instead of dirty tricks versus noble purity, the fight for the Democratic nomination looks like descending into dirty tricks versus dirtier tricks. This is going to be fun.

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05 — Puritans and libertines.     A couple of seniors at Harvard University have launched a student group named True Love Revolution to promote sexual abstinence on campus.

This is, of course a counter-revolution, not a revolution, and a ray of hope to those of us with daughters who will be setting off to college in the next few years.

This group isn't even faith-based. They're just students who refuse to sign on to the rampant sexual libertinism on the Ivy League campuses.

The group is, of course, being savagely mocked by campus conformists and the students involved in forming the group will probably end up being expelled, if not actually in jail for heterodox thinking — a terrible crime on university campuses nowadays.

One campus feminist sputtered that, quote: "It's a symptom of that culture we have that values a woman on her purity. It's a relic."

I think she means the culture we used to have.

Meanwhile casting has begun for a new reality-TV show called Virgin Territory. The idea is to get a bunch of male virgins together in a house and bombard them with sexual stimulation — dirty movies, lap dances, and so on. The grand prize will be a night with a female porn star.

I'm not clear how you get to win that grand prize, and on the whole, I think I'd rather not know.

The New York Post's ineffable columnist Andrea Peyser profiled one of the aspiring candidates thus, quote:

Meet herb. Herb is a 23-year-old cheesecake distributor who lives in the attic of his parents' house in Yonkers. Herb is a champion at trading Pokemon cards, and a master at playing with his Yo-Yo.

End quote.

Did you get that, listener? Do you still want to call yourself a South Park conservative?

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06 — Emmett Till, sexual harasser.     Back in the summer of 1955 a 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till was murdered in the Mississippi Delta town of Money.

This was the Jim Crow era. Till was black and he had offended local mores by whistling his appreciation of a pretty white woman. The outrage at not just the murder, but the speedy acquittal at trial of the obviously guilty murderers by a jury of twelve white men, was one of the events that got the Civil Rights movement off the ground, leading eventually to the end of Jim Crow in the following decade.

Now you'd think that the Emmett Till story would be just the kind of thing to teach to American kids during black history month. A teacher named Marisol Alba thought so, and she got her students to work up a presentation on the Emmett Till case. That was at Celerity Nascent Charter School in Los Angeles, where the student body is 80 percent black and 19 percent Hispanic.

The administrators of the school quashed Ms Alba's presentation and reprimanded her. When she protested, they fired her.

What was their problem? Well, go back to the Emmett Till case. The lad was murdered for whistling at a white woman. And that, you see, is sexual harassment. We can't have the kiddies celebrating a sexual harasser, can we, even if the poor guy did get killed for his impertinence.

One parent who complained to the school about the firing of Ms Alba — and by the way, also another teacher who protested the administration's action — this parent said that the school principal used the term "rude" to describe Emmett Till's actions.

Well, that of course was also the opinion of the guys who murdered Emmett Till.

Like the Worm Ouroboros, political correctness consumes its own tail.

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07 — Sympathy for Chiang.     You have to feel a teeny bit sorry for Chiang Kai-shek, one of the great losers of the 20th century. He had his brief moment in the late 1920s when it seemed that he might be able to unify China and pull it together into some kind of modern country.

Then Japan invaded, Chiang lost a couple of key warlords, the Communist Party got its act together, and poor old China went into total horror mode for half a century.

The U.S.A. tried to help the Generalissimo in World War II, but he wasn't an easy guy to help. As Joe Stillwell remarked: "The Communists got the General, we got the issimo."

Chiang eventually lost mainland China and went off and sulked in Taiwan, massacring any Taiwanese who objected. The worst massacre was on February 28th, 1947, so the 60th anniversary of that incident has just been marked in Taiwan.

One way it has been marked is by a systematic Plutoing of Chiang, a de-Chiangification, with the Generalissimo's statues being removed, things named after him getting renamed — notably Taipei's main airport — and some talk of removing old Peanut Head's portrait from Taiwan's coins.

Chiang was, if anyone wants my opinion, a nasty piece of work, though I'll allow that he was a patriot who did his best for China by his own very dim lights, and against the obstruction of his own cross-grained personality, not to mention the rapacity of his wife and her relatives.

Still, while he may have been an s.o.b., he was our s.o.b. and he didn't murder anything like as many Chinese people as Mao Tse-tung did, so a twinge of sympathy is in order. 勝者為皇敗者為賊 say the Chinese: "If you win, you're the king. If you lose, you're a bandit."

The war between communists and nationalists in mid-century China was not the great moral struggle some Americans believed it to be at the time. It was more like a fight between two bandits. The worse bandit won, though, and China lost thirty years of progress and tens of millions of souls as a result.

As I said, a slight twinge of sympathy for Chiang Kai-shek is in order.

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08 — Illegal immigration and the nasty stuff.     Here's a story that tells you a wealth of things about the state of law and order in our country.

Two years ago an 18-year-old woman named Natasha Ramen, an immigrant from Guyana, was lured into the house of Hemant Megnath, also an immigrant from Guyana. Megnath proceeded to rape the girl. He was duly arrested, charged, and released on bail of $5,000. He was supposed to show up at a pretrial hearing on April 9th this year. That's how long it takes to get a rapist to court here in New York City.

And in case you thought it was a bit callous of the authorities to let this guy walk around free for a couple of years after raping the girl, I should say that they issued an order of protection which told Megnath that if he tried to contact the girl they would be really, really angry.

Well, plainly, Megnath feared that Natasha would testify against him much more than he feared the wrath of New York's incompetent and inattentive court system. He made threatening phone calls to her family last Fall, saying that he'd kill the lot of them, including small children, if Natasha testified against him. Apparently these calls didn't violate the protection order, nor his conditions of bail.

The family started to file a criminal complaint but they didn't follow through because, according to the New York Post, they were illegal immigrants who didn't want to bring attention to themselves. Megnath finally got everyone's attention last Thursday by coming up behind Natasha and cutting her throat.

Whether Megnath himself is an illegal immigrant, we are of course not allowed to know. It's a terrible story and it illustrates just how often you look at something really nasty that's going on in this country and find the issue of illegal immigration looking right back at you.

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09 — A Minsky Moment in the housing market.     I learned a phrase from Economics the other day: "A Minsky Moment."

Here's the idea. Hyman Minsky was an economist who died in 1996. Minsky said there are three kinds of borrowers.

  • The first kind can meet all debt obligations — principal and interest — from their cash flows.
  • The second can meet current interest, but needs a spot or financial engineering to roll over his principal obligations.
  • The third kind of borrower can't even meet current interest unless the price of his assets keeps rising at a good clip.

Well, a lot of economists suspect that the U.S. housing market has bumped into a Minsky Moment. That is, it has got itself a little too dependent on the third kind of borrower, the one who can only stay afloat if prices keep rising fast enough, which unfortunately they no longer are.

There are optimists here and there are pessimists, and the pessimists come in two flavors.

Optimists of course think it will all shake out after a few mortgage lenders have jumped from high windows.

Pessimists of Flavor One say the troubles will ripple out from the riskier kinds of borrowing to affect the whole housing and construction market.

Pessimists Flavor Two say that the troubles will ripple all the way out into the economy at large, causing a recession.

Well, who's right? The Wall Street Journal canvassed sixty economists about the current troubles in the home mortgage markets. A little over half declared for pessimism and only a third are downgrading their forecasts for the economy at large. The consensus was of a 25 percent probability of a recession this year, slightly more optimistic than Alan Greenspan's estimate of 30 percent.

To put it another way, there's a one in four or one in three chance we'll go into election year 2008 in a state of recession.

Now, isn't that a cheery thought for Republicans?

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10 — Signoff.     Well, that's a pretty grim line-up this week, folks. Off to the fallout shelter with you, now. Don't forget to take the family pet; he'll come in handy if food supplies run low.

Recommended Homeland Security procedures permit you to emerge briefly at weekends to catch the latest from Radio Derb.

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[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]