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01 — Intro. Oh, yes: another day, another dollar — Canadian for preference.
Another week of staring at my mutual-fund portfolio and calculating that pretty soon the bottom line will just about get me a cab from the airport in London or Tokyo or Sydney.
And of course another week of chaos, hubris, and nemesis to report here on Radio Derb.
This is your host John Derbyshire, here to keep you smiling through the catastrophe. Let's see what we've got.
|02 — Running mate suggestions. One way to do election polling is to
ask not who will vote for whom, but who will no way vote for whom.
That of course brings us straight to Mrs Clinton. A new Gallup poll tells us that 55 percent of married men would not vote for Hillary, even if the alternative was a three-toed sloth. Among men at large, it's 50 percent.
Even 36 percent of women say they would never vote for Hillary. Overall, 43 percent of citizens will not vote for this lady. The main reason given was they don't like her.
That's the good news. The bad news is she still beats Rudy Giuliani in a one-one matchup.
Rudy's pitch is not that he is likable — I don't think anyone has ever accused Rudy of striving to be likable — but that he's capable and tough.
So we could be looking at two mean, unlikable people on next November's ballot, with the one disliked by married guys like me coming out ahead. Plainly, what both of these candidates need is a running mate with a big likability factor in each case.
Allow me to make some suggestions. Likability, let's see … Well, for Rudy, how about Fred Thompson as a running mate? Ol' Fred's not shaping up as much of a campaigner, but everybody seems to like him.
For Mrs Clinton, I suggest Rosie O'Donnell. Who doesn't like her?
|03 — Paki puzzles. It's just four years ago this month that President Bush
proclaimed a, quote, "forward strategy of freedom" to thwart Islamic extremism by spreading democracy to the Muslim world.
Well, the forward strategy of freedom took a step backwards last Saturday when General Musharraf of Pakistan suspended his country's constitution and declared emergency rule.
This was supposed to be because of a threat from Islamic extremists, but the people that have been rounded up under the emergency-rule decrees seem — like the protestors being dragged into paddy wagons on our TV screens the other day — to be mainly lawyers in suits.
Musharraf seems to be taking his cue from Shakespeare: "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Although, to be fair, he's not killing them, just packing them into jails along with media types and students and just possibly the odd jihadist.
What a funny business. The number of players here is bewildering: the army, the jihadists, the courts, the intelligence services — and they've got two of those — Mrs Bhutto and her supporters, and not forgetting of course the U.S. of A., who is chin-deep in this cesspit.
It would take a smarter person than me to sort it all out for you, and my private belief is that no one has a clue what's going on there. Whatever it is, it's costing us well north of a billion a year to keep the Pakis on our side so that we can go on spending a hundred billion a year fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq without having to watch our backs too much.
Still that billion or so must mean a lot to Musharraf. He took a phone call from our President on Wednesday night and the very next day declared his intention to restore the constitution, resign from his military position, and hold elections.
So that's all right, then. We are plainly in control of the situation, plainly — totally in control …
|04 — Into Africa. Meanwhile, worried that we are not deeply enough involved
in Third World hell-holes with politics we don't understand, our government has just announced the establishment of an Africa Command.
An Africa Command: to be known, with that imaginative flair for which military types are justly celebrated, "Africom." However, General William Ward, the officer commanding Africom, denies that it is a step towards the militarization of our Africa policy.
I didn't even know we had one, but there you are. No, it's not, no siree — no militarization here! says the General. He made this clear to a meeting of leaders of the African Union in the capital of Ethiopia, which is of course … you know, that city that they run everything from in Ethiopia.
Quote from the General, quote:
We don't come here and just do things because we want to do things. We come and do things to assist our African partners in increasing their capacity, their capability to provide a stable environment here in Africa.
Well, I have great hopes for that, don't you, listener? And if this costs us another billion or two a year, well, what's a few billion when we're increasing our partner's capability to provide a stable environment, like in … you know, Pakistan?
|05 — A problem South Korea does not have. There's been an odd little fuss
in South Korea over the government's decision to use the image of a woman on the country's bank notes for the first time ever.
It's not that it's a woman showing up on — actually it's the new fifty thousand won bills — but it's not that it's a woman, it's the particular woman they chose: a 16th-century lady famous mainly for being the mother of a great Confucian scholar.
No fair, say Korean feminists. The selection, says one of them, quote, "promotes the idea that mothers should stay at home and devote their lives to their children's education." End quote.
Aha. Well, let's see. If I go to the Wikipedia page titled "List of countries and territories by fertility rate," what do I find?
What I find is South Korea ranked at number 207 out of 222, with a fertility rate of 1.28 births per woman. That's a tad higher than baby-starved Japan at 1.23 but far, far below the U.S.A. at 2.09, and completely out of sight of philoprogenitive leaders like Mali at 7.38, Afghanistan at 6.64 or the Gaza Strip at 5.64.
One thing South Korea really does not have too much of a problem with is an excess of motherhood and children, to judge from the numbers.
|06 — The McCartney-Mills misalliance. If you want to get into something
even more convoluted and incomprehensible than Pakistani politics, try the Paul McCartney, Heather Mills marriage.
A year and a half ago 38-year-old Heather and 63-year-old Paul announced that they were separating after four years of connubial bliss. Shortly thereafter, The Sun newspaper, which is a London tabloid, revealed that Ms Mills, twelve years before meeting her Beatle, had been photographed for a German porn book. Should you decide to check out the book, its title is Die Freuden der Liebe, "The Joys of Love," and it is available on Amazon.de.
Should you decide to check out the book, there is no need to worry that it might tax your knowledge of the German language. The book's 112 pages contain many, many photographs of Ms Mills and a male companion, but not a single word of text.
With the pure prurience for which the British tabloid press is renowned, The Sun breathlessly warned readers that, quote: "Many of the images are too explicit to print in a family newspaper." It then went on to describe them in detail.
Understandably, Ms Mills has a bit of an animus against the press; and — still understandably, but now deplorably — she is trying to get legislation passed in the European Parliament to restrict the kind of reporting found in papers like The Sun.
She has also had unkind things to say about Paul, calling him a skinflint who hangs onto his money. As opposed to what? Sluicing it into the municipal drains? Going to the top of the Empire State Building and showering passers-by on 34th Street with it? Handing it over to Ms Mills in some huge divorce settlement, perhaps?
Meanwhile Sir Paul, now sixty-five, has got himself a new squeeze: forty-seven-year-old Mrs Nancy Chevelle, who, it turns out, is a second cousin of Barbara Walters.
Now I don't know the rights and wrongs of all this, so, as we all do in such situations, I'm just going to go with my prejudices. Paul was the Nice Beatle. Remember that? George was the Quiet Beatle, John was the Smart Beatle, and Ringo was the Dumb Beatle. Well, that's how I remember them and that's what I'm going with. Good luck, Paul!
As for you, Ms Mills, take the first decent offer the lawyers give you; then shut up, go away, and stop trying to gag London's tabloid press. What do you want? For the British papers to be as stuffy, dull, and pompous as our own mainstream media over here? Heaven forbid!
Although an honorable exception here should be made for cartoonist Sean Delonas of the New York Post, who has been plumbing new depths of bad taste by riffing on the fact that Ms Mills lost part of her leg in a traffic accident way before she met Paul.
Did you know, for example, why she doesn't care for Paul's music? She prefers hip hop.
|07 — Thank Islam for modernity! And back to Pakistan for another news
story. Who would have thought that Pakistan could generate so much news? What was that old quip about the Balkans? They produced more history than
they could consume locally.
Anyway, here we are back in Pakistan; in Lahore, actually, the fine city of Lahore, "known as the Paris of the East before the riots of 1947," says Wikipedia … after which I guess it was known as the Detroit of the East.
Well, here we are in Lahore at the Government College University attending a seminar titled Problems of Historiography in Islamic Science. The speaker is Professor George Saliba of our own Columbia University.
What does Professor Saliba have to tell us? That, quote, "all modern discoveries were made by Muslim scientists." He said that Muslim philosophy was the impetus behind botany, zoology, algebra, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, astronomy, physiology and mathematics in the pre-industrial era.
This kind of thing always brings to my mind the old unanswerable question, which I don't mind admitting I've asked myself a few times: If you're so smart, why aren't you rich?
If Muslim philosophy was so terrific it could come up with all that stuff, how come it wasn't terrific enough to, like, use it? How come it was us backward, dull-witted, knuckle-dragging old infidels who found out what algebra was actually good for? And how come you guys stopped doing mathematics — along with pretty much everything else — back in the twelfth century?
Still, Professor Saliba has got me thinking. It is a bit odd, you know, that so many of our breakthroughs have come from guys named Al-Something. The telephone: Al Graham Bell. Theory of relativity: Al Einstein. And then of course there's the internet.
|08 — Immigration follies. What have we got on the immigration front this
Item: Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Twenty-three illegal aliens, twenty-one from Mexico and two from Guatemala, have been arrested for using fake security badges to work in secure areas of the airport.
They were all employees of a contractor firm doing work for various airlines. According to U.S. Attorney Patrick Jay Fitzgerald, one of those people who seem to be everywhere, of the 134 security badges issued to workers from this company, 110 were bogus.
The discrepancies were first noted in March by an inspector from ICE, said Fitzgerald. In March — eight months ago. Isn't that reassuring?
Item: In Tucson, Arizona, a ninth grader who was obviously under the influence had his backpack searched by school authorities. They found some marijuana. The school called the police. The police called in the boy's parents. Once they arrived an officer asked to see their driver's licenses. The parents told officers they had been living illegally in the U.S.A. for six years, along with their three kids. The police called ICE who escorted the entire family back across the Mexican border.
Fair enough, you would think. No, there have been major protests. Whined an activist, quote: "Now you have people who are afraid to call the police when they have been robbed because they are afraid the police will come and instead of investigating the crime will ask them about their immigration status."
Okay, lady, let me explain. In a society under the rule of law, if you haven't broken the law, you have no reason to be afraid. If these people you talk about are afraid to call the police for fear their illegal status will be discovered, well, there's a very simple thing they can do to rid themselves of that fear — to remove it from their lives for good.
If you'd care to get in touch with me via National Review I'll tell you what that thing is. No charge! Free of charge!
|09 — Ugly and not funny. Politics, as we all know is show business for ugly
Well, show businesses is in a bind right now. The guys who write the jokes for your favorite comedian or late-night host to deliver have gone on strike.
Now, I don't know about real show business — the one for beautiful people, I mean — but in politics, it really wouldn't notice. The standard of humor in the Presidential race is dire. It's really bad.
Mike Huckabee is being promoted as the wittiest man alive for his quips. Sample, hearing a mobile phone ring in the audience while he was doing a forum in Iowa. Huckabee said: "That's probably Dick Cheney wanting to take me hunting, and I am not going with him."
Okay. I'll pause here for a moment, listener, until you've quit rolling around on the floor. [Pause.]
Then there was that dumb stunt that Rudy Giuliani did with his own cell phone, pretending to take a call from his wife in the middle of a platform address. For goodness sake!
Personally, I don't really want a stand-up comedian in the White House. If you feel you must go the humor route, guys, at least get yourself some decent writers. I mean, you know, when they're off the picket lines and back at work.
Meanwhile, just concentrate on telling us how you'd use the office of the Presidency to maintain the security, prosperity, and internal order of our country.
Take a leaf from Bobby Jindal's book: Promise us you'll be boring. Showbiz is for beautiful people. Thanks.
|10 — Signoff. There you have it, listeners: forty-six shopping days to
Christmas, forty-six weeks to Iran's first nuclear test, and forty-six years till the last American soldier leaves Iraq.
Spend those dollars while you've got them; or better yet, exchange them for those much healthier Canadian dollars.
In fact, come to think of it: with gold at eight hundred dollars an ounce, forget about paper currency altogether and go the Ron Paul route: buy yourself a few ingots of the shiny stuff.
Until next week this is your genial host John Derbyshire signing off for Radio Derb.
Oh, did I mention I'm going to see Norma on Monday? No, not Norma the massage therapist, the other Norma — this Norma.
[Music clip: Maria Callas, "Qual cor tradisti."]