»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, August 31st, 2007

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

01 — Intro.     [Singing along to the intro music] Rumpty-dum-de-dum, dum-dum, da-da-dah … Yes, hello! Thank you, Franz Joseph. That was one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches. This is John Derbyshire and we are on the air once again with Radio Derb, National Review Online's weekly look at all the news that matters.

Let's see, what have I got for you here in the news folder? I've got a millionaire dog; a Chinese crook; a wacky astronaut; a dead princess; and a poster-girl for illegal immigration. First, though, I've got a wayward senator.

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02 — Senatorial adventures in the airport men's room.     Well, I always thought they were pretty staid people up there in the Midwest, but Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport seems to be the eye of the storm so far as social change in the U.S.A. is concerned.

First there was that business about Muslim cabbies at the airport taxi rank refusing to take passengers carrying bags of duty-free liquor. Now it appears you can't even do Number Two in the airport men's rooms without some U.S. senator passing a note under the door.

Larry Craig, the senior senator from Idaho — who seems from his Wikipedia entry to have never had a job, unless you count being a politician a job — Larry Craig has pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from an undercover police officer in one of those restrooms.

Having thus alienated every conservative Republican, the senator then proceeded to alienate every liberal Republican by denying that he is homosexual.

Here's Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, quote:

He may very well not think of himself as being gay, and these are just urges that he has. It's the tragedy of homophobia. People create these walls that separate themselves from who they really are.

End quote. Yes, just like the architects of public restrooms create walls between the cubicles so we can perform our necessary functions without being disturbed.

Ah, the tragedy of homophobia! Forty years ago it was the heartbreak of psoriasis that had us all crying into our beer. I sort of preferred that. I mean, you either have psoriasis or you don't. It's not like homophobia, which apparently you can have in between episodes of groping for strange guys' ankles under the partitions of men's room cubicles.

Now you might think it's a bit of a stretch for a guy caught propositioning other guys in restrooms to say, "No, I'm not homosexual." That just shows you're not thinking like a politician, though. Heck, Ol' Larry has years of having opposed pro-homosexual legislation to defend.

Well, having ticked off both Trent Lott and the Log Cabin Republicans, you might think there's not a Republican left standing willing to say anything at all in Larry's defense. You'd be wrong.

This Republican is guessing that Larry Craig is a seriously messed-up person with some deep issues to sort out. This Republican thinks the Republican Party would be better off without Larry Craig representing it in Idaho, at least until he gets those issues worked out. This Republican also thinks there's something wrong with a system that lets you go from grad school right through to Medicare without ever doing anything but politics — without ever having a real job or any contact with the real world of useful work.

However, this Republican also regards misbehavior in public restrooms, of the kind Larry Craig engaged in, as an essentially private matter to be dealt with like any other kind of incivility or nonviolent annoyance — to be dealt with privately. Don't Minneapolis police have anything better to do than sit in men's room cubicles waiting for someone to grope them?

Perhaps that cop hadn't been able to get a cab back to the station house.

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03 — Mrs Helmsley's interment impasse.     Hotel zillionairess Leona Helmsley has been taken up to that big deluxe suite in the sky, leaving behind untold thousands of cheering, whooping ex-employees and an eight-year-old Maltese poodle named Trouble.

Mrs Helmsley was very attached to little Trouble: so much so, she left the mutt twelve million dollars in her will. That's one million, seventeen thousand, eight hundred and twelve eight-pound bags of Purina Puppy Chow at the rate our local supermarket charges: enough to keep the little critter happy for a while — around ninety thousand years, I think, if he eats at the same rate as our pooch.

That wasn't the only provision for Trouble in Mrs Helmsley's will, though. She also wants him buried with her.

That has raised some issues. It's illegal in New York State for an animal to be buried in a cemetery meant for people, though why anyone should ever have bothered to pass such a law is a mystery to me. When the New York Post queried the policy, an official from the New York State Division of Cemeteries barked, quote:

Absolutely not. There's no question about it. A dog would not be allowed to be buried or interred in a cemetery.

End quote. Well, you can't blame the guy for being a bit rough, rough. That has to be a real dead-end job he's got there.

There might be a way out of this. You can bury animals and people together on private property in New York State, though the paperwork doesn't bear thinking about.

And then there's the suggestion floated by the New York Post itself: bury Mrs Helmsley in a pet cemetery. After all, the homeric epithet applied to her for years in the New York City tabloids was "rhymes with rich."

If I may offer a recommendation to Mrs Helmsley's executors, the Bideawee pet cemetery here on Long Island is a very pleasant place to inter your favorite poodle. Richard Nixon's dog Checkers is buried there. Yes, that Checkers. You couldn't ask for better company than that in the Hereafter.

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04 — Illegal alien family values.     Latest poster-person for the vibrant joys of mass illegal immigration is Elvira Arellano, whose deportation back to Mexico I reported here on Radio Derb last week.

Ms Arellano is a big star down there now. She's had expressions of support from the President, the Secretary of State, and the Senate. That is to say from the Mexican President, the Mexican Secretary of State and the Mexican Senate. The whole-hearted support Ms Arellano enjoys from our own President, Secretary of State, and Senate goes without saying.

You have to wonder though whether the open-borders crowd couldn't have picked a better person to represent them. We're all supposed to be wringing our hands and moaning in despair at the plight of good-hearted people bringing solid Latino family values, working hard to pump taxes into our economy and help bail out our Social Security system, while meanwhile assimilating like crazy.

Well, here's Ms Arellano. Family values? She has an illegitimate child whose father is apparently providing no support. Paying her share of taxes? Well, that child is being educated at U.S. taxpayer expense, and was very likely being fed and clothed the same way before his mom was busted by the migras. Social Security? This woman's main contact with the Social Security system was to steal some citizen's number so she could work illegally. Assimilating? After ten years in the U.S.A. — well, ten years that we know of — Ms Arellano apparently can't speak a word of English.

This is the poster-person? Ye gods!

To round off that great set of traditional Mexican values, Ms Arellano is stuffed up to the nose-holes with chutzpah. She has asked the Mexican government to appoint her as a Special Ambassador for Peace and Justice.

Hmm. Doesn't an ambassador have to present his credentials for approval by the country he's an ambassador to? Why on earth would we accept the credentials of this serial lawbreaker? What use would her Special Embassy be, anyway, considering that after ten years in this country, she still can't speak English?

Here's a better idea, Ms Arellano. Get yourself a job and a husband down there in Mexico where you belong. Bring your eight-year-old son down there too, so that you can be a proper mother to him.

Then try to accustom yourself to the fact that your fifteen minutes of fame are over.

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05 — Astronaut stalkerette detagged.     Everybody's favorite astronaut Liza Nowak has been allowed to take off the electronic tag she's been wearing on her ankle this past seven months.

Ms Nowak will be coming to trial someday soon for stalking a love rival. Pending her trial, she'd been ordered to wear the monitoring bracelet. She appealed this, saying that the bracelet was uncomfortable — a pretty striking thing to hear from a lady who drives nine hundred miles nonstop wearing diapers. Still, the judge agreed and ordered the ankle bracelet removed.

Asked for a comment, Astronaut Nowak said, quote: "I need a drink."

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06 — Hillary's bungler-bundler.     Hillary Clinton has suffered embarrassment of the minor sort through having received many, many thousands of dollars in campaign funds from a bundler named Norman Hsu.

Note that word "bundler." What is a bundler? I thought this might have something to do with old New England courting customs, but apparently it's something entirely different.

A bundler bundles up campaign contributions and feeds them to candidates. It's legal, apparently. At least we think it is. The regulations governing campaign finance are getting so dense and tangled, they're open to as many interpretations as the Book of Revelation.

Anyway, this Mr Hsu is a businessman from Hong Kong. As a businessman he's been a bit of a bungler with a "g" as well as a bundler with a "d." In fact he's a fugitive from justice, having failed to show up in a California courtroom for sentencing fifteen years ago following his role in a fraud scheme. The court assumed he'd fled back to Hong Kong, and they are now taking a lively interest in the fact of his still being on U.S. soil.

The rest of Mr Hsu's record is a string of failed business ventures. As a bundler, however, Mr Hsu has displayed a touch of genius. He has managed, for example, to bundle over two hundred thousand dollars from the Paw family — that's P-A-W, Paw, as in "cat's paw" — the Paw family of Daly City, California, even though the Paws live in a cheap house in a working-class neighborhood and the paterfamilias is a mail carrier.

It would of course be shamefully racist of anyone to suggest that Democratic Presidential candidates seem to be particularly prone to get into these scrapes with — how shall I put it? — folks with a more Far Eastern attitude to campaign financing.

Anyway, let's look on the bright side. So far it does not seem to be the case that Mr Hsu is a General in the People's Liberation Army.

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07 — Princess Di gush-a-thon passes ten-year mark.     The tenth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana arrived and was duly celebrated with mass weep-ins, gushing tributes, and mountains of flowers.

I'll admit to being anti-Diana, though her Dad was a neighbor of ours back home in Northampton.

I always found, in fact, that the hardest thing about being a Tory was the monarchism. I was all right with the Queen. She's a quiet and sensible lady with a constitutional role to fill; but I never had much patience with the rest of them, nor did I ever see why I should have them thrust on my attention. The younger royals seem to have got all the self-absorbed silliness of their own generation without the saving sense of duty and obligation that dignified the previous one.

By the time I left England for good in the mid 1980s, I was pretty much a small-"r" republican. I would have given Betty and Phil a nice house to live in and a modest state pension, but I would have left the rest to shift for themselves, and abolished the monarchy as an institution.

Now, nobody should die as young as Diana did, or as horribly. People do, though, and I don't know why her particular death should be mourned more than any other. She seemed to be a pretty ordinary post-boomer bubblehead, interested in pop music, celebrities, shopping, and the sappy end of the good-causes spectrum.

Not by any means a bad or deplorable person in herself, but representative of too many things I hated about the later 20th century and about what had happened to the country I grew up in and once felt great affection for.

Well, I guess I'm Americanized now. If anybody over here is weeping for Diana, then all I can say is that the battles of Lexington and Concord were fought in vain.

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08 — No business like ed business.     Ah, back to school! Or Independence Day, as it's known to parents across the land.

Our public schools are in a spot of bother, though, according to this report from the New York Times. Quote:

The retirement of thousands of baby-boomer teachers, coupled with the departure of younger teachers frustrated by the stress of working in low-performing schools, is fueling a crisis in teacher turnover.

The challenge of putting a qualified teacher in every classroom is heightened in subjects like math and science, and is a particular struggle in high-poverty schools where the turnover is highest.

Thousands of classes in such schools have opened with substitute teachers in recent years. Here in Guilford County, North Carolina, turnover has become so severe in some high-poverty schools that principals were hiring new teachers for nearly every class, every term.

End quote.

I suppose it's wicked of me to wonder what realities are lurking behind those genteel New York Times euphemisms: "low-performing schools," "high-poverty schools," and so on. There you are, though. I'm a wicked person. It's nurture, not nature, of course. I was raised in a bad environment.

Well, even in bosky suburbs like the one I inhabit, I perceive problems.

My daughter starts high school next week and we went along to an orientation session at the school. Everybody who was anybody on the school staff was there to greet us and to tell us what a great school it is: the Principal, her two Administrative Assistants, the Director of Guidance — who has five Guidance Counselors working for him — the Dean of Students, the Social Worker, the Chief School Psychologist, the Directors of the departments of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts, Mathematics, Special Ed, Science and ESL.

Lovely, wonderful people, all of them. But where were the, like, teachers? Perhaps some of these people teach? I tackled the math guy. No, he told me with a slight wince of distaste. He doesn't teach, he just runs the department. Oh.

Well, I hope somebody is going to be teaching my girl — assuming, that is, that my girl has any time left over from attending guidance sessions, running for election to class officer, being psychologized and evaluated, and participating in Habitat for Humanity, Make a Wish, the Gay-Straight Alliance, or any of the other thirty-odd activities helpfully listed on the orientation sheet.

But heck, what do they need teachers for anyway? Not to explain the class material for sure. Parents do that as part of the three hours we have to dedicate each night to helping with homework. "Didn't the teacher explain this to you in class, honey?"  "No, she just handed out the sheets."

Well, here's my question: Why would anybody not want to be a teacher? You only have to show up about six months a year to hand out homework materials for parents to sweat over. You can't be fired. The kids you're supposed to be supervising are mostly away being guided or psychoanalyzed. Your labor union has its very own cabinet department in the federal government, thanks to Jimmy Carter. And you have a pension plan bigger than the gross national product of Japan. What's not to like?

Well, of course there's the chance that you might get stuck in one of those, ah, "high-poverty schools." Still, kids in "high-poverty schools" all want to get out of poverty, don't they? So surely they work like crazy at their school assignments, urged on by their parents, right? So they should be real easy to teach.

Sounds like a dream job to me.

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09 — Signoff.     Well that's it, listeners: another week of … [Noise of plane rising to maximum, then fading.] … Oh, sorry about that. I should've explained that I'm on the road this week. I'm actually recording this session of Radio Derb on my laptop while sitting in a cubicle at the men's room here in Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. You know: It's a nice quiet place to sit while you're waiting for a flight, and nobody's going to bother you here.

In fact, I think that … oh, hold on a minute: something's brushing against my ankle here … Good grief! Someone's passed a note in under the cubicle wall. Just excuse me for a minute while I read this note. [Sound of paper unfolding.] "If you've got the resolution, I'm ready for a little filibuster." What does that mean?

Sorry, listeners, I'm going to have to deal with this. Radio Derb will be back on the air next week.

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[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]