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[Music clip: Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.]
01 — Intro. That was my pal Franz Josef Haydn, one of his Derbyshire Marches, and this is your genial host John Derbyshire with this week's edition of Radio Derb. Top of the billing this week: Clint Eastwood. Go ahead, Clint, make my day.
02 — Eastwood-Lee spat. Have you been following the tiff between Clint Eastwood and Spike Lee? This has been about Eastwood's recent movie Flags of Our Fathers, which tells the stories of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima in World War Two's most famous photograph. Spike Lee's problem with the movie is that there are no black people in it. He pretty much accused Clint Eastwood of racism. Eastwood defended the historical accuracy of Flags of Our Fathers, noted that his 1988 movie biography of black musician Charlie Parker had a mostly-black cast. Having made his point, Eastwood said that Lee should, quote, "shut his face." Lee countered by playing a slavery card. Quote: "We're not on a plantation." So the logic here is, if a guy makes a movie with no black people in it, he's no better than Simon Legree. Who would you be if you made a movie with no white people in it? Robert Mugabe? Or perhaps just Spike Lee. Anyway, Clint Eastwood has history on his side. There were a few hundred black troops on Iwo Jima, often under fire. They were in support roles, though, kept from front-line combat by the social and military ethos of the time. That was unfair, but it's not Clint Eastwood's fault.
03 — Heterosexual AIDS threat officially over. Was there ever a disease more heavily politicized than AIDS? For years — for decades, in fact, by this point — AIDS lobbyists have been clamoring for government funds, educational programs, international relief efforts, legislation, immigration waivers, victim-group status, and all the other boondoggles that go with being a protected class. A key compnent in their lobbying was the warning that if we didn't do this, or pay that, or teach kids this, or legislate that, then AIDS would escape from its bases among male homosexuals and needle-using drug addicts into the general population. Yet somehow it never seemed to happen. Writer Michael Fumento pooh-poohed this whole idea in his 1993 book The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS but the lobbyists called him a liar and went right on trying to scare us into giving them more money and favors and privileges. As they did so, year after year, the great break-out of AIDS into the heterosexual population went right on failing to happen, except in sub-Saharan Africa, which has its own peculiar problems. Well, it now turns out that Michael Fumento was right, according to no less an authority than the World Health Organization, the WHO. The head of the WHO's HIV/AIDS department is named Kevin de Cock, and last week Mr. de Cock admitted that, quote: "It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries," end quote. Mr. de Cock means other than sub-Saharan African countries, which, as I said, are highly special cases here. Mr. de Cock doesn't seem to have been very happy about making this admission. He hedged it around with all sorts of warnings and qualifications, stressing for example that the factors driving HIV were still not fully understood. Quote: "The impact of HIV is so heterogeneous. In the USA, the rate of infection among men in Washington DC is well over 100 times higher than in North Dakota, the region with the lowest rate. That is in one country. How do you explain such differences?" End quote. Wow, that is a difficult thing to explain. It's certainly got me beat. What a mystery!
04 — Gas Prices. How about those gas prices, eh? Naturally, this being election season, everybody's got a plan. Chuck Schumer wants to threaten the Saudis, so they'll pump more oil. If they won't, says Chuck, we should stop supplying them with weapons for their armed forces. That's bound to work because, as everybody knows, there are no other nations in the world willing to sell arms to Arab nations, only us. Some members of Congress want to sue OPEC. Congress, please recall, is composed largely of lawyers. When you have a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail, and when you're a lawyer, the solution to every problem is a lawsuit. Barack Obama says the solution is to, quote, "put more money into people's pockets" and, quote again, "encourage the market to adapt to these new circumstances more quickly, particularly US automakers." If anybody can explain to me what any of that means, please write it out on a postcard and mail it to me care of National Review. In fact, make that a standing request for anything Obama says about anything — I can never make sense out of his pronouncements. Over on the Republican side of the presidential race, Yosemite Sam wants to give us a summer gas-tax holiday, followed by the status quo ante. What nobody wants to do is start drilling for the two or three trillion barrels of oil that lie under the United States and our offshore waters. Nor does anybody want to build any new refineries to turn our oil into gasoline. No, that would be wrong. For Saudi Arabia to keep its oil in the ground is sinful and cruel, when American Hummers and SUVs are panting for gas. Let's show the Saudis who's boss here! For us to keep our oil in the ground, on the other hand, is virtuous and environmentally sensitive. Similarly, for the Chinese to drill for oil in the waters off Cuba is fine — just what you'd expect a country to do when it's developing fast and needs lots of oil. For American oil companies to drill on our own continental shelf 60 miles away, would be an outrage. Yep, U.S. energy policy makes perfect sense … to a parrot.
05 — Identity theft. A thing you really do not want to have happen to you is identity theft. It's a huge and growing problem. Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission from citizens who've had their identity stolen shot up by sixty percent from 2006 to 2007, to over a quarter of a million. What's driving the increase? Illegal immigration, that's what. Steven Malanga, reporting in City Journal, gives some of the horror stories. A Texas man was arrested for a crime committed by an illegal alien who'd stolen his identity. The IRS hit a woman with a million-dollars back-tax bill, even though she was a stay-at-home mom. An investigation later found that 218 illegal aliens were using her Social Security number. A Los Angeles police detective — who, ironically, worked in the department's fraud bureau — was unable to buy a house because of bills piled up by an illegal immigrant who stole his Social Security number … And so on. And those horror stories, those quarter-million complaints, are likely the tip of the iceberg, because the Social Security numbers that illegals really like to get are those belonging to children. A child's number is pretty inactive, so you're much less likely to be discovered. Your kids' social security numbers might be in use right now — how would you know? The feds have a theory that health-care and hospital employees with access to children's files are being bribed by organized gangs that trade in illegal documents. Malanga quotes a police officer in Phoenix, Arizona, quote: "We have a major problem with workers in medical offices stealing patients' identities, selling them and making a direct profit." End quote. What fools we are to put up with this! Every year hundreds of thousands of American lives are turned upside down, untold thousands of hours of police and prison work are put in, billions of dollars of public money are spent, crime rackets proliferate, all so that members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can pay sub-minimum wages, Wall Street Journal editorialists can get cheap domestic help, and stupid politicians can pander to the Hispanic lobbies. Illegal immigrants should be rounded up and deported en masse, the way President Eisenhower did it. Why isn't this done? Because we are fools, the fools of the world, that's why, and our politicians are even bigger fools than we are.
06 — Obama on Education. Barack Obama gave a big education speech on Friday last, just a tad too late for Radio Derb to comment on at the time. As you can imagine, the subject of education throws Obama into full hot-air mode. Get your gas mask on and listen to some quotes from the speech. Quote: "I don't want to just talk about how great teachers are. I want to be a president who rewards them for their greatness." Translation: I'll be a poodle for the teacher unions. Quote: "That starts with recruiting a new generation of teachers and principals to replace the generation that's retiring and those who are leaving." Whoa! Teachers are retiring? Who knew? Better elect Obama quick, or there'll be no new teachers to replace them! Quote: "I'll create a new Service Scholarship Program to recruit top talent into the profession and begin by placing these new teachers in overcrowded districts and struggling rural towns, or hard-to-staff subjects like math and science in schools all across the nation." Er, excuse me, Senator, what authority does the president have to, quote "place" teachers anywhere? And if you do manage to recruit someone who's a, quote "top talent," and he doesn't care for the environment in the overcrowded school you've, quote "placed" him in, how you going to stop him defecting to a pleasant, under-crowded suburban school? Quote: "I will create more Teacher Residency Programs to train 30,000 high-quality teachers a year." You see, listeners, there are all these high-quality teachers out there, just waiting for the right program, just waiting for a president who will vacuum them up, away from their dull, pointless, low-paid jobs in investment banks and software firms, into a Service Scholarship Program or a Teacher Residency Program, then place them in an overcrowded ghetto school where they can work miracles with kids who are hungry, hungry, for knowledge. It'll cost a fortune, of course, but what does that matter when America's children are desperate to learn, stagnating in neglect and darkness, pining for a savior who will use the infinite powers of the presidency to lift them up into the college places and well-paying jobs that everybody, every one of us, all deserve, and should all have as our birthright! [Handel clip]
07 — Canada's Human Rights Commissions. One reason to be thankful we live in the U.S.A. is the Constitution's guarantee of free speech. We forget how rare it is — wellnigh unique, in fact. Last week in France — that's the country of Voltaire, the guy who said: "I disagree with what you say, but I'll fight to the death for your right to say it" — in France the sometime movie star Brigitte Bardot was fined 20,000 dollars for criticizing the way Muslims slaughter sheep. Meanwhile up in Canada the hearing against Maclean's magazine rumbles on in front of a Human Rights Commission. That's one of the bodies set up in Canada to punish anyone who says or writes anything that hurts someone else's feelings. Most of the people whose feelings get hurt, in Canada as in France, and indeed pretty much everywhere, are Muslims, whose personalities are so fragile, and whose skins are so exquisitely thin, that a single wrong word can plunge them into months of agonizing depression, whose pains can only be relieved by a successful lawsuit. National Review's own Mark Steyn is involved here, as Maclean's magazine quoted an extract from Mark's excellent book America Alone. The plaintiffs — and I use the word "plaintiffs" loosely, as this is not a court case, not even a libel action, but a summary bureaucratic proceeding outside the normal legal system with those tiresome rules of evidence and procedure — the plaintiffs particularly object to Maclean's quoting Steyn quoting Mullah Krekar, a radical imam living in Norway, as follows, quote: "We're the ones who will change you. Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children … Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours." End quote. Note that this is a Muslim imam that Maclean's is quoting Mark Steyn quoting, from an interview the imam gave to a Norwegian newspaper in 2006. Apparently you can't even quote a crazy person's own words against him, if the crazy person is a Muslim. You think this totalitarian shutting-down of free speech couldn't happen here? It could, and it will, and liberals will be leading the charge. Anthony Lewis, a bigfoot liberal who wrote unreadable Op Ed columns in the New York Times for about a hundred and forty years, has a new book out, title Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment. Sounds nice, but apparently, according to the International Herald Tribune, Lewis thinks we have a bit too much freedom of speech. Quote from Lewis: "I think we should be able to punish speech that urges terrorist violence to an audience, some of whose members are ready to act on the urging." End quote. I wonder who'll get to define what is, and what isn't, "terrorist violence." I suppose we'll need Human Rights Commissions to do that for us.
08 — Miscellany. A handful of short items to see us out.
Item: "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" asks Nicholas Carr in Atlantic Monthly, in an article with that title. Quote: "Over the past few years I've had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn't going — so far as I can tell — but it's changing. I'm not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I'm reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I'd spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That's rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I'm always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle." End quote. I know what the guy means. You should read it, it's a great article. At least, the first few paragraphs were. That was as far as I read. Then I got distracted and started reading something else.
Item: I'm not a guy to blow my own trumpet, you know I'm not, but I can't resist telling you about an award that came to me recently. Well, it's not an actual award, just a distinction really, but it fills me with pride just the same. What happened was, I got listed on Hatewatch, the Southern Poverty Law Center's website for, quote, "Keeping an eye on the radical right." What had I done to earn this distinction? Well, in my NRO Diary last month I wondered aloud how National Council of La Raza gets away with their name, the last part of which means "The Race," though they keep it coyly hidden behind the language barrier. This irked the SPLC witch-hunters, who while inducting me into their Hall of Hate instructed me that, quote: "'La Raza,' … doesn't mean 'The Race' at all. In fact, the term is much more commonly translated as 'the people' or 'the community' and it is intended to be inclusive, encompassing the blending of European, African, and indigenous peoples in the Americas." End quote. Hm. What about un-blended types like, well, me? Are we part of La Raza? But all right, all right, I don't want to offend the Southern Poverty Law Center, they've got more attorneys on staff than the Church of Scientology, and have a long track record of trying to shut the mouths of people they don't like by means of legal harassment. In order to placate them, from now on I shall no longer translate "La Raza" as "The Race." I'll find some more suitable translation. How about "Das Volk"?
Item: The International Astronomical Union, meeting in Oslo, seems finally to have cleared up the issue of whether Pluto is a planet, a dwarf planet, a planetoid, an asteroid, a Kuiper Belt Object, or a baloney sandwich. So what is it? It's a "plutoid"! Any further dwarf planets found beyond the orbit of Neptune will also be classed as plutoids in future. Interesting. What a good thing the Roman god of the underworld didn't have the name "Hemerrh."
Item: Now, I know you all want to hear about the "panties for peace" campaign. They have a website, www.pantiesforpeace.com, that explains the whole thing. You see, the horrible military junta that rules Burma can be brought down if enough women around the world mail a pair of panties to their local Burmese embassy. According to the website, Burmese men harbor a, quote, "superstitious fear that contact with a woman's underpants will rob them of their power." End quote. So when they see the mailman staggering up the driveway with another sackful of knickers, Burma's drooping dictators will cry "Enough! Give us back our manhood!" and dive out through the back windows, leaving the nation open to democracy. Well, it's no more far-fetched than an Obama education plan, and costs a couple of trillion dollars less, so let's give it a try. We need to recruit a few showbiz celebrities to get the thing started. How about Sharon Stone?
Item: I have mixed feelings about the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling on the Gitmo detainees. On the one hand, I have have read Andy McCarthy's excellent pieces arguing the logic of keeping these characters within the scope of military justice. On the other hand, it seems to me they are not prisoners of war in the sense in which that term has formerly been understood. You go to war; you take prisoners; you win the war; you send prisoners home. But at what point is anyone going to say that the War on Terror has been won? When there are no more terrorists? That's absurd; there will always be terrorists. So were we just going to keep these guys in detention, like, for ever? Or what? The whole thing was never really thought through, was it? The Left was bound to win this one eventually — they always win everything eventually — so why leave ourselves open to them? In future, can we please just go to war against countries, countries that have attacked us or our interests; and defeat them, and repatriate their prisoners after we've defeated them?
Item: I reported in a previous Radio Derb about the problem they were having up there on the International Space Station with a malfunctioning Russian toilet. Well, after two weeks of bathroom blues, I'm glad to report that the problem has been fixed. A space shuttle flight brought up Russian plumber Oleg Kononenko with his roto-rooter kit. After a couple of hours work Mr. Kononenko emerged from the John — though since the equipment here is Russian, I guess it should properly be called "the Ivan" — er, Comrade Kononenko emerged, flushed with success, to declare that the cosmonauts' convenience was in full working order again. Everybody was … relieved. A shuttle launch costs upwards of $450 million, which is about the same as plumbers charge out here on Long Island for two hours work, so NASA got a bargain here.
09 — Signoff. There we are, ladies and gents, another week of a world run by the sad, the bad, and the mad. Those dwindling few of us who are happy, good, and sane should brace ourselves for seven more days of trying to hold on grimly to our liberties. I hope Radio Derb has helped. Until next week, cherish your liberty, cherish your family, and don't take any wooden nickels.
[Music clip: More Haydn.]