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[Music clip: Gracie Fields' Sing As We Go]
01 — Intro. Just thought I'd try to be upbeat for once. People complain that I'm too gloomy. My usual habit is to refer such tiresome people to the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7, Verse 4, but just this once I thought I'd accommodate them. The heart of the wise may indeed be in the house of mourning, but the hearts of us radio megastars are in the house of ratings, so everybody gets thrown a bone now and then. Well, another week on the campaign trail, only two more to go. [Clip of Hallelujah Chorus].
02 — Money. Let's start of with a quiz period, shall we? This is one of those quizzes where I give you a list of four numbers, and you have to match each number to its correct description. You ready? These numbers are all dollar amounts. A—112. B—605 million. C—850 billion. D—150 thousand. OK, now you have to match those four numbers to the following four descriptions, which are of course in a different order. One—Cost of Sarah Palin's campaign wardrobe. Two—The federal bail-out for over-leveraged banks. Three—Current balance in Barack Obama's campaign account. Four—Value of your 401K plan on election day. Go on, give it a try.
03 — Party of the Rich. I mean, boy, is Obama pulling in the money, or what? Well, it's only to be expected. One of the great political turn-arounds of the last few years has been that the Democrats, who your grandad told you were the party of the little guy, are now the party of the rich. The super-rich are of course solidly Democrat: You wouldn't catch Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or the Hollywood star of your choice, voting Republican. What if the servants found out? Nowadays, though, even the mildly rich are Democrats. The New York Times told us all about this on Tuesday, in a curious little article headlined "An Outpost in the Blue Sea of Brooklyn." The Times sent a reporter to Park Slope, a tony, gentrified, yuppified area of Brooklyn, New York, where a two bedroom condo will set you back around a million bucks, an actual house somewhere in the 5 to 10 million range. To make your way down one of those streets you need a machete to hack out a path through the thickets of Obama signs. Well, the reporter found four of the old-time residents still there in Park Slope, left over from the pre-yuppie era. These folk had lived there since the 1960s, when, quote, "most everyone on the block seemed to be Roman Catholic and have six or eight children, supported by a paycheck from the Fire Department, the Police Department or another city agency," end quote. These four old-time working-class Catholic families were the only people in their block with McCain signs. The only working-class people; the only Republicans. Fortunately for them, the surrounding yuppies are too busy doing whatever it is that yuppies do, to have time to break their windows or burn crosses on their lawns. You know they want to, though. I sympathize with these people — the Donohues, Dixons, and Olsons. (We don't get the name of the fourth family.) Of course, they're all in their seventies. Pretty soon they'll be gone, and Park Slope will be uniformly Blue. That is, of course, if New York City, without Wall Street to pay all the bills, is still inhabited at that point.
04 — Joe the Plumber. And this was the week of the Joes. The one we were all talking about was Joe Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. "Joe the Plumber." You'll recall that Joe Wurzelbacher was playing football in his front yard with his son when Barack Obama stopped by. Joe told Barry he was getting ready to buy a company that makes 250 grand a year, and Obama's plan would tax him more. Obama reeled off his usual wonkish b-s about how his tax credits this and his health care credit that, yada yada, blah blah, as if we don't all know perfectly well that we'll be taxed till we bleed by whoever the next President is, to pay for the boomer entitlements. Then he said, quote: "It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too … And I think that when we spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody," end quote. In other words: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. Where does that come from? Oh right — Das Kapital. Having flashed that bit of Marxist ankle at us, Wonder Boy scampered off out of there to another Beverly Hills fundraiser. Joe the Plumber probably figured he'd had his fifteen minutes of fame, and that was it. Wrong! Before he knew it, the Obamarrhoids were sifting through his garbage can, looking up his credit history, checking local police files, the full probe. Did you know that although Joe does indeed work as a plumber, he's not a licensed plumber? And that he once got over a thousand dollars behind on his income taxes? And — oh, listen to this, this tells you exactly what kind of low life this guy Joe is! — that once, in seventh grade, he forgot to feed his goldfish and it died? That just shows you what kind of creep it is that talks back to the Lord's Anointed. By last weekend, Joe's mutilated corpse was being dragged around the walls of the city behind Obama's chariot while a howling mob of liberals threw rotten fruit at it. Serves him right for making Obama look a fool. Anyone else who tries to stand in the way of history, a.k.a. the Senator from Illinois, will get the same treatment.
05 — Non-filer Syndrome. As to not paying income tax, well, here's a story from the Empire State about exactly that. The culprit here is not a plumber though, licensed or otherwise. He's chief of staff to our Democratic Governor, Dave Patterson. Charles O'Byrne is his name, and being the Governor's chief of staff is a nice little earner — current annual salary $178,500, plus a big fat expense account, of course, and endless opportunities to have dinner bought for you, or other favors done, by people who want the ear of a guy who has the Governor's ear. Well, it turns out that our pal Charlie didn't file his income taxes for five years, 2001 to 2005. True, that was before Charlie went to work for Dave in 2006; but still, it's a lapse of attention that needs explaining in someone as highly placed as that. It would be like, well, perhaps like someone running for president who'd attended a racist, anti-American church for twenty years without ever listening to a sermon. Anyway, Mr. O'Byrne wants you to know that there is a very good reason he didn't pay his taxes for five years. According to his attorney, he suffers from "non-filer syndrome." That is a health problem, a form of mental illness that incapacitates the sufferer for purposes of tax filing. "Non-filer syndrome." You'll find it in the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual, down there with "non-sermon-listener syndrome," "non-ACORN-repudiator syndrome," and "non-terrorist-avoider syndrome."
06 — Biden. And then there's the other Joe, the one Obama picked to add some gravitas to his ticket. [Laugh] Joe Biden made some news recently when he stated — twice — that Barack Obama will be tested by a major international crisis within the first six months of his presidency. He compared the potential test to that faced by JFK during the Cuban missile crisis, although he also hinted that he may have been referring to a financial meltdown. He suggested that it would be a deliberately created crisis designed by adversaries to, quote, "test the mettle of this guy." Hard to know what Joe has in mind. Note that he didn't specify a military or diplomatic crisis. He might have been thinking of some huge new fissure being opened up in the world trading and financial system. Reluctant as I am to take Joe Biden seriously on anything at all, I found these remarks a bit worrying. Bear in mind that both candidates are getting regular national-security briefings now, probably containing material from the daily threat assessment briefings the President gets. Joe's also Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, let's remember. He has this stuff rattling around in his head, and it may have been at the front of his mind when he was speaking. It's been all quiet on the Western Front since 9/11, but there's no reason to suppose that will continue. So get ready for a fun 2009: China invading Taiwan, Iran testing a nuke, Russia taking back the Ukraine, oil at $200 a barrel, who knows? Not to worry, though: with ol' Capability Joe by his side, President Obama will handle any crisis that comes along with the cool good sense he displayed in handling all the other crises he's faced in his life, like [crickets] and [crickets].
07 — Powell. And here comes former Secretary of State and retired general Colin Powell, declaring his support for Barack Obama. Hm, let's see. John McCain — career military background, left-of-center Republican, bagfuls of government experience. Colin Powell — career military background, left-of-center Republican, bagfuls of government experience. Made 4-star general by Ronald Reagan; made head of Joint Chiefs by Bush 41; made Secretary of State by Bush 43. Barack Obama — no military background whatsoever, far-left Democrat, experienced at running playgroup with a bunch of urban radicals and wheedling favors out of crooked property developers. Well, it makes perfect sense, doesn't it? I mean, why would Powell not go for Obama? The suggestion that there might be some quality Obama has that John McCain doesn't have, some quality that Colin Powell finds irresistibly attractive — that's just nonsense. I mean, what quality could possibly be involved there? Perhaps we could ask Oprah Winfrey, Louis Farrakhan, or any of the, what is it? 94 percent of black Americans who support Obama. Some mysterious quality there, obviously — some shining uniqueness of character the rest of us just haven't spotted yet. What can it possibly be?
08 — Fear of Obama. So the odds are on President Obama. How scared should we be? Well, let's slice it up. There are two obvious things we might be scared about: the economy, and defense. We could have another Great Depression, or we could start losing cities to rogue nukes. On the first, Obama doesn't scare me. Neither he nor a President McCain would have much elbow room economically. Either one will be running a system seriously strapped for cash. The coming entitlements crisis and the continuing debt crisis will drive any president, as opposed to he driving them. Economically, "events, dear boy, events" will be in charge for a while. Defense-wise, I'm also blasé. Coming from the Old World, where nations with ancient enmities and well-matched resourses sit right next to each other, and you grow up listening to your parents and grandparents telling you about mass slaughter in trench warfare or city-flattening bomber raids, the U.S.A. seems wonderfully safe and remote. I'd hate to see us lose a city, and I hope the authorities can prevent it, though I privately doubt they can. Still, that wouldn't be the end of America, and we have sufficient firepower to inflict condign punishment on anyone involved. President Obama will be getting the security services' Daily Briefing and Threat Assessment reports, he'll soon figure out how much danger we're in. I'm not losing sleep over this. What really worries me about an Obama administration is its effect on the culture. There are an awful lot of slots to be filled in the federal bureacracy, and Obama will fill them with his cultural-Marxist pals. Remember Bill Lann Lee? Norma Cantu? Deval Patrick? Remember Janet Reno? [Scream] There will be a lot of those types setting agendas, issuing directives, prosecuting dissidents, pushing "hate crime" laws, imposing PC standards on speech, publishing, broadcasting. I'm a writer, so that is what I lose sleep over when I think about an Obama administration — that we shall lose key freedoms. Under that engaging smile Barack Obama has the heart and soul of a totalitarian enforcer — the kind of people who have filled our colleges and universities up with speech codes, oppression studies, Chief Diversity Officers, and all the rest of the poisonous cant of soft smiley-face totalitarianism. Barack Obama is totally on board with all of that. This won't be a free country any more. That's what scares me.
09 — Miscellany. Just a quick round-up here.
Item: Crystal Gail Mangum, the stripper whose unsubstantiated testimony launched the Duke Lacrosse Case of 2006, has written a book, title The Last Dance for Grace. Amazon's offering it as a two-book discount deal with O.J. Simpson's long-awaited memoir If I Did It. In fact the original title for Crystal's book was If They Didn't Do It, but the publisher changed their minds on that.
Item: An item here on airport security: the European Union has postponed the introduction of X-Ray body scanners for airport security on grounds of, quote, "privacy and health." Why would anyone mind having their naked body displayed on a screen to one of those bored, unresponsive, 75-IQ airport security employees? Hard to figure.
Item: Over in Italy — or, as we say here on Long Island, "Iddly" — a court has prevented a couple naming their son Venerdi, which means "Friday." In case you're wondering, it's a PC thing. The court said that Man Friday in Robinson Crusoe was a figure of, quote "subservience and inferiority." I'm just glad to know that someone still reads classic literature.
Item: What happened to Ron Paul, readers keep asking me? Well, Ron hit his high point with that counter-rally in Minneapolis while the GOP convention was going on. Since then, Paulism has pretty much fallen apart — you can read the sad details in Dan Larison's piece in the October 20 issue of American Conservative. Dan points out correctly that Ron was the only candidate speaking out with a real critique of, and alternative to, the Federal Reserve's stealth inflation policies. Everybody rolled their eyes and passed on by … and here we are with a world financial crisis. Ron, you can say "I told you so," which is more than McCain or Obama can say.
Item: Seventh Grader Ashleigh Jones down in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, wore a McCain-Palin T-shirt to school and got called "racist" for her trouble.
Item: In the same zone, Lewis Diuguid, a columnist for the Kansas City Star, had a frothing fit when he heard John McCain call Barack Obama a socialist. "Socialist," sputtered Mr. Diuguid, is an ancient code word for "black." That would have been news to the old Communist Party of South Africa, who back in the 1920s used to march under banners saying Workers of the World Unite for a White South Africa. Yes, they really did.
Item: Oh, just one last thing. Could we please retire the phrase "you betcha"? Not just for the sake of us Palin fans, but because I've heard it around two thousand times too often — Pat Buchanan just used it in a column. For goodness sake. It was cute for a week or two, but now it's way overdue for the cliché cemetery. Can it, please, Pat, everybody — not for Sarah's sake (she can take care of herself) but just as a matter of linguistic hygiene.
10 — Signoff. Well, I think I covered all bases there: Joe the Plumber, Sarah the Clothes-horse, Barack the Beatific, Colin the contemptible, and John-John the Clueless. That sucking sound you hear (to borrow a phrase from some previous candidate in some election long ago) is the sound of hope draining away from the Republican Party, as it drained away from conservatives back when John McCain secured the nomination. Hope, as the old saying goes, makes a good breakfast, but a lousy supper. Well, it's getting close to supper time. Still, since I'm trying to be upbeat this week, I'm not going to diss Hope. Matter of fact, earlier this week I heard one of the loveliest expressions of hope ever to show up in Western culture: the aria "Un bel di" from Madam Butterfly, sung by Patricia Racette at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. I had to reach for my hanky — "Un bel di" gets me every time. In case you don't know the story, Butterfly's husband sailed away three years ago, and she's expressing her faith that he will return "one fine day." She sees it all in her mind's eye: a wisp of smoke on the horizon, his ship sailing into the harbor, its cannon booming a signal, then he himself emerging from the crowd, coming up the hill to her. Oh boy, I'm misting up here just telling the story. Well, here is Renata Tebaldi to tell it properly. I'd tell you what happens to Butterfly's hopes, but it would spoil the upbeat mood I've been at such pains to generate here. You can read about it on Wikipedia. This is Derb the Blogger signing off for Radio Derb. Here's the diva.
[Music clip: Tebaldi's "Un bel di"]