»  Radio Derb — Transcript

        Friday, September 14th, 2007

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

01 — Intro.     Radio Derb is on the air. Yes, Listeners, this is your one-stop source for all the news that matters, brought to you from National Review's glittering state-of-the-art sound studio here on the 95th floor at Buckley Towers in the heart of Manhattan.

My research team have submitted their copy; a staff of bright young editors has collated and polished it; they've skillfully transcribed it all onto the teleprompts; a crew of sound engineers are at their consoles; the producer has given me the countdown; and we're ready to go!

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02 — Iraq report: no surprises.     Well, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker went to the hallowed halls of Congress to give their reports.

Guess what? Our military is doing what they're asked to do and doing it superbly well. There's no sign of Iraqi political progress and there is no prospect of us leaving Iraq anytime soon, in any kind of orderly fashion, leaving any acceptable situation behind. The surge will end next year. There isn't really any choice about that: The troops we sent this spring will finish their tours of duty and it's hard to see how they could be replaced. The military and National Guard are at full stretch.

So we're no wiser this week than we were last week. Does anyone know how much of the reduction in violence just consists of militias and criminal gangs waiting out the surge? Does anyone think that the tribal sheiks we have, quote, "won over to our side" in places like Anbar, does anyone think they have anything in mind other than using us to strengthen their position against their enemies in a post-occupation Iraq? Does anyone think that Iraqis are within five hundred years of being able to govern themselves in a rational fashion?

What a horrible mess! As a patriot, I don't want to see my country humiliated, so a complete withdrawal at this point is a very unattractive prospect — the more so if you consider the collateral consequences: a flood of Iraqi refugees into the U.S.A., for example.

What I'm asking myself is, is that prospect more unattractive than another four years and another couple of trillion dollars spent flailing away at mosquitoes out there in the desert? Is it? Well, yes it is, but not by much.

Perhaps the choice is really one between slow national humiliation and quick national humiliation. If that thought gets traction with the U.S. public, we'll be out of there within a week.

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03 — Brush up your Chhokey.     You know, sometimes you find yourself reading something that makes you think: Is this for real, or was it taken from one of J.R.R. Tolkien'snotebooks?

Example: I'm reading the Wikipedia entry for a certain country. Quotes:

Several principle ethnic groups may be distinguished … The second dominant group is the Ngalops, a Buddhist group based in the western part of the country. Their culture is closely related to that of Tibet. Much the same could be said of the Sharchops, the dominant group who are associated with the eastern part of the country, but who traditionally follow the Nyingmapa rather than the official Drukpa Kagyu form of Tibetan Buddhism … The national language is Dzongkha, one of 53 languages in the Tibetan language family. The script is called Chhokey, identical with the Tibetan script …

And so on and so on. Now, what country is that? Hands up if you know … Yes, that boy in the back? Right, it's Bhutan. Bhutan, up there in the Himalayas.

Well, Americans, you'd better brush up your Chhokey and make sure that you know a Sharchop from a Ngalop because as many as sixty thousand Bhutanese refugees will be settling in the U.S.A. soon.

That's according to a decision reached by the International Organization for Migration, officials from the government of Nepal, which is next door to Bhutan, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Yes folks: Sixty thousand polygamous Himalayan goatherds will be adding diversity to a town near you, courtesy of the U.N.

What's that you say? You want the actual American people and their actual representatives to have some say about who gets let in to our country? [Laughter.]

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04 — Mexico claims Azerbaijan.     If the United Nations wants to dictate to us who we should allow to settle in our country, they better get in line behind the Mexican government, which pretty much has a lock on this particular kind of audacity.

In a speech on September 2nd, Mexican President Felipe Calderón attacked U.S. immigration policies and promised to fight harder to protect the rights of Mexicans in the United States.

Quote from the President: "Mexico does not end at its borders." End quote.

I hope I made it clear that it was the President of Mexico who said that, okay? The President — and this is still the President of Mexico — the President added: "Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico."

Wow. Well, we've got a ton of Mexicans here on Long Island, so I guess I'm living in Mexico.

This isn't oddball stuff by Mexican standards. Calderón got a standing ovation for those remarks. It's a plain fact of Mexican psychology that Mexicans, up to and including the President, believe that they not only have a right to their own country, they have a right to ours, too.

I don't know how many other countries Mexicans believe they have a right to. Perhaps the authorities in Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, … [Fade out, snoring sound, fade in] … Uganda, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe should check with President Calderón. Perhaps he thinks their territories also belong to Mexico.

This attitude the Mexicans have must be a great boon to the makers of atlases and World Globes down there south of the border. They don't need a whole palette of different colors to distinguish one country from another on their maps. They just need blue for the sea and pink for everything else. Heck, it all belongs to Mexico, doesn't it?

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05 — Iran stands for friendship and love.     Over in Iran, the Poison Dwarf's been pontificating again.

In an interview with Britain's Independent TV News Li'l Squinty assured us that Iranians do not believe in war and are, quote, "against bombs." Further quote: "We do not need a bomb, actually."

The Mad Midget went on to say that he is sorry that British soldiers had been killed in Iraq. Quote: "We want friendship. Friendship to all we love all nations and all human beings. Anyone who was killed, we are against it."

Well, I'm glad we've got that cleared up. Iran is just a peaceful nation that hates bombs and is against people being killed. But, er, what about Israel? Isn't the Cross-eyed Creep on record as having said that Israel should be wiped off the map? Oh, that can be done without violence, squeaked Squinty. You just have to let all the people of Palestine vote. Problem solved!

Meanwhile, in a Washington, D.C. court, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled for a group of eight hundred lawsuits related to the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon. He found that Iran was responsible for the bombing and he ordered the Iranian government to pay 2.6 billion dollars to the families of victims.

I guess Judge Lamberth needs to be brought up to speed on how Iran hates bombs and killing and all that bad stuff.

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06 — Invade, invite.     Osama bin Laden, meanwhile, made a video in which he praised the 9/11 terrorists.

He particularly singled out for praise a fellow named Waleed Al-Shehri. There was a clip of Al-Shehri before the attacks saying in reference to Americans, quote: "How could we design anything other than your killing, when Our Lord has ordered us thus?" End quote.

Well, yes: When the Lord tells you to do something, you'd better get on it.

Bin Laden said that Al-Shehri was a, quote, "champion."

A Bush administration spokesman responded to the video by saying that the United States will capture bin Laden. "The President," said spokesman Tony Snow, "has said all along, we are going to find him."

Would that be before you find Judge Crater, Ambrose Bierce, and Amelia Earhart, Mr. President, or after?

The White House also averred in a separate statement that, quote: "We are fighting violent extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan and across the world so that we do not have to fight them on American soil." End quote.

Wouldn't the easiest way to avoid having to fight these terrorists on American soil be to not let them into the country?

I mean, what's actually being said here that if we pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq, jihadis will be lining up at our embassies in Kabul and Baghdad to get U.S. student visas. How about we just don't let people from these countries come into the U.S.A.?

Or do Afghans and Iraqis and Saudis have an unqualified right of entry to the U.S.A. like Mexicans and Bhutanese refugees?

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07 — Erasing Buddha's footprints.     "Who, or why, or which or what, is the Akond of Swat?" wondered Edward Lear. Well, I can tell you, thanks to, yes, Wikipedia.

Quote from Wikipedia:

The Akhund of Swat, Abdul Ghaffur, 1794 to 1877 was a Muslim saint who exercised great influence and authority over Muslims in large parts of Central Asia. His residence in the mountainous country of Swat, Pakistan, was the destination for numerous pilgrimages to consult him on questions of every kind.

End quote. There, now: See how much you learn listening to Radio Derb.

Well, the Akond of Swat may have gone to his heavenly reward, but Swat is still there and it's been in the news.

Swat, which by all reports is a place of sensational natural beauty, was Buddhist until the Ghaznavid Turks showed up around A.D. 1000. This was in fact part of the zone of Greco-Buddhism, where in the centuries immediately B.C., the Greek kingdoms established by Alexander at the furthest eastern edge of his conquests became influenced by religious ideas from India.

Just as another bunch of Hellenized intellectuals in Palestine turned Judaism into Christianity, these Greco-Indians up in the Hindu Kush worked some similar magic on Indian Buddhism, sending the result off along the Silk Road to merge in with Chinese Buddhism.

Well, fast forward to A.D. 1000. Along came the Ghaznavids and Swat became Muslim. Not Muslim enough for today's jihadis, though. Even after a thousand years, the district is still famous for Buddhist statues and relics. The Buddha's actual footprints are in the Swat Museum. How they got there, I can't tell you.

This is all very irksome to the glittery-eyed soldiers of jihad. Inspired no doubt by the Taliban rulers of next door Afghanistan, who used the Great Stone Buddhas of Bamiyan for artillery practice back in 2001, local terrorists snuck up on some 2000-year-old Buddhist statues carved into a rocky Swat hillside and tried to blow them up with dynamite.

They didn't do a very good job and these ancient statues are pretty much as intact as they were before the jihadis showed up; which, to judge from the photographs, was not actually very intact in the first place.

The Pakistani authorities need to track down these vandals and arrest them before they try again. Perhaps they should send in a SWAT team.

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08 — Swiss immigration rules discriminate!     Switzerland's having a general election next month. How's that for an interest-killing intro? If your finger didn't make it to the off button yet, let me elaborate.

The lead party in the polls coming up to this election is the People's Party. That's the Schweizerische Volkspartei or SVP, if you're a Swiss of the German-speaking persuasion, which most of the party's supporters are.

Best known, it says here — I'm reading the Wikipedia entry: what on earth did we do before Wikipedia? — best known for opposing Swiss membership in international organizations such as the EU and the UN, and for its campaigning for tougher immigration, asylum and penal laws.

"The party …" I'm still reading from Wikipedia here, "The party is socially and fiscally conservative, but secular in outlook. It is in favor of traditional family values, deregulation, and reduced government spending, except in the areas of domestic security, the military, and agricultural support. The SVP supports the Swiss traditions of private gun ownership, armed neutrality, and the national militia army, and opposes most forms of international security cooperation." End quote.

Wow, what a bunch of reactionaries! Thank goodness we don't have any political parties like that over here.

Anyway, not all Swiss people like the SVP. One group that doesn't like them a bit is the country's Federal Commission on Racial Discrimination. What particularly irks the Commission is the practice, under Switzerland's current system, of foreigners who want to become naturalized citizens having to get approval from their local town or village.

The way it works is, a foreigner seeking naturalization has to appear before a citizenship committee in his community and answer questions about his desire to be Swiss. After that, he must be approved by the entire voting community in a secret ballot or a show of hands.

Did you ever hear of anything so primitive? Who knows how many wonderful foreigners that would have been a tremendous asset to the Swiss nation have been denied citizenship by this barbaric procedure?

Naturally that Federal Commission on Racial Discrimination is calling for reform. In a report they've just issued the Commission cites the case of a disabled man originally from Kosovo. Although fulfilling all the legal criteria, his application for citizenship was rejected by his community on the grounds that his disability made him a burden on taxpayers, and that he was a Muslim.

The commission's report recommends that decisions on citizenship should be decided by an elected executive and not by the community as a whole.

Well, of course it should. Our own immigration and naturalization procedures are firmly in the hands of our elected executive and they are the envy of the world.

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09 — Miscellany.     OK, here's a miscellany of brief items.

Item:  Sex Day. Sex Day came and went in the Russian district of Ulyanovsk. September 12th was actually officially called Family Contact Day, but the authorities made it clear what kind of contact citizens were expected to engage in. Anyone who gives birth nine months on, which would be next June 12th, will win a prize: a TV set or, quote, "a Russian-made all-terrain vehicle."

A Russian-made all-terrain vehicle … wouldn't that be, like, a tank?

Anyway, observers reported that September 12th was very quiet, considering that this was midweek. That tells us that either Ulyanov's women are exceptionally self-controlled, or that Ulyanov's men took the day off as an excuse to follow the immemorial Russian custom of drinking themselves into a stupor.

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Item:  The British Association for the Advancement of Science held its annual jamboree over there across the pond with many wonderful advances reported.

Chocolate is good for you, one group of scientists told us; at any rate dark chocolate, which is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids: chemicals that, quote, "help to relax blood vessels and cut the potential for blood clots to form."

Another bunch of eggheads has come up with biodegradable chewing gum, possibly heralding an end to those unsightly splotches of old gum on sidewalks all over the world … except of course in Singapore.

Quote: "Most commercial chewing gums contain the same polymer you would find in car tires." That's the chief egghead on the chewing gum project. "That is what gives it its elasticity and some of its adhesion properties."

Euiew! See, you're better off eating chocolate.

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Item:  Rosie O'Donnell used to break her own limbs with a baseball bat when she was a child, according to an autobiography she's written titled Celebrity Detox.

Well, heck, don't all kids do that? I used to drive bamboo splinters under my fingernails. My own kids went through a phase where they attempted to gouge out their eyeballs with rusty scissors.

We cured them of it by telling them that if they persisted, we'd call the big fat TV lady who's always angry to come and babysit. They were quiet and well behaved as little kittens after that.

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Item:  Every time I go trawling through the news sites for suitable items to bring to your attention, gentle reader, the name of Google comes up.

I don't mean just because Google is one of the things I use for my trawling, though of course it is, but also because Google seems to be expanding its operations into every area of human activity.

Just this week I found:

Item A: Google's head of research, Peter Norvig, speaking at a conference on learning technology, proposed "setting children free to develop their own learning with a teacher taking on the role of assessor at the end of the project," end quote.

And then, item B: "Google is offering a thirty-million-dollar prize to private firms that land a robot rover on the moon," end that quote.

There's something odd about all this. Here's Google pushing for private enterprise in education, which I'm all for, and private enterprise in space exploration, which I'm totally all for.

On the other hand, a friend of mine who runs a website marketing American history and constitutional memorabilia claims that he's constantly finding his site being downgraded by Google's search engine recently when he was trying to sell some cards commemorating Constitution Day — which, as every Radio Derb listener no doubt knows, is September 17th.

So are the Google people anti-American or not? Are they pro-private enterprise but anti American, like, say, Vladimir Putin or Hu Jintao?

We should be told, since there is apparently no sphere of human endeavor in which Google does not have, or soon will have, an interest.

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Item:  The poor old dollar's fading away. If you wanted to buy a euro this week, it would have cost you about a dollar thirty-nine.

The British Pound, which has been wobbling around a dollar sixty or a dollar seventy ever since recovering from a trough back in the 1980s, would have cost you two dollars three cents this week.

Even the stinking Renminbi — that's communist China's currency — is at a record high. One of those little renminbis will cost you thirteen cents nowadays, up from 12 … although there are guys in corduroy jackets and sunglasses in the back streets of Shanghai who'll give you a better rate.

What's going on? Well, financial traders figure that the Fed will cut interest rates to help out our housing market. Lower interest rates, easier mortgages, you see?

Lower interest rates make any kind of U.S. asset less appealing to foreigners, though, including ultimately the poor old greenback itself.

Don't worry, the sky isn't falling. We still have a few trillion in the bank to spend building things in Iraq so that terrorists can blow them up. We still have billions of dollars for illegal immigrants to ship home to Mexico and South America. And yes, we can still find the odd half billion to spend on a shuttle launch so that we can find out how jerbils react to weightlessness.

America still has plenty of money for all the essential things. Don't worry!

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10 — Signoff.     With that, Radio Derb listeners, I leave you.

I'm sorry to have left out the campaign news. It's not that I've totally lost interest in the election campaign. Heaven forbid you should think that! It's more that the leading Republican candidates are all starting to blur together in my mind.

I guess it will all get exciting at some point between now and next November. I guess one or other of them will say something interesting or memorable. I'm sure they will, and I'm sure that when they do, I shall stop having these wicked subversive thoughts about sending a hundred bucks each to Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, and Ron Paul.

In the meantime, this is your genial host John Derbyshire, signing off with yet another of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.

Back on the air next week with more news you can use from Radio Derb.

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[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]