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[Music clip: Ray Charles, "Busted."]
01 — Intro. Tell me about it, Ray. I'm busted, too. We're all busted. Radio Derb may have to sell its corporate jet. I'm telling you, times are hard.
While we have two nickels to rub together, though, Radio Derb will stay on the air to bring you all the news you need to know. This is your unshakeably genial host John Derbyshire with all the events of this last week of January 2009.
Here we go.
02 — Busted states: CA. Yes, I'm busted. We all are. The whole country is busted. Hardly any part is quite as busted as California, though. The Golden State is looking at a 42 billion dollar deficit, and will run out of cash altogether in late February.
What's to be done? Unlike the U.S.A., California has no power to print money, so "stimulus" and "bailout" are words the state politicans can't use as solutions to their crisis.
So you'd think, anyway. Yet as a matter of fact, a state can print money after a fashion, in the form of IOUs redeemable in dollars at some future date. California's State controller, John Chiang, has said the state may do just that. So California taxpayers, for example, may get their tax rebates in the form of IOUs.
Seems to me there's an arbitrage opportunity here for financial engineers. I mean, you just have to open up a secondary market in California state IOUs. A thousand-dollar IOU might be worth, say five hundred on the secondary market … though in the state's current condition, that might be somewhat generous.
It all seems a bit … intermediate, though, doesn't it? I mean, why not skip this IOU phase and proceed directly to a barter economy? California has plenty of things you could barter: beach condos, houseboats in Sausalito, slightly-used surfboards, slightly-used Hollywood starlets, …
03 — Busted states: NY. Meanwhile, over here on the right coast, things are just as bad.
New York state has been living beyond its means for years, relying on periodic Wall Street booms to pay the bills. Now that tumbleweed is bowling along Wall Street, getting snagged occasionally on the splattered corpses of self-defenestrated bankers and traders, New York has to find some other way to make a living if it's going to continue funding the nation's most cosseted state and city employees, most expensive schools, and most generous Medicaid system.
No, wait a minute, it doesn't have to. The federal government — which is to say, all you suckers in better-managed states — has included twenty billion dollars for New York in this latest stimulus package.
Hey, thanks, guys! Now we can go on doing what we've been doing! Party on, dudes!
04 — Stimulating. Are you feeling stimulated yet, listeners?
A few weeks ago George W. Bush's government hastily printed off seven hundred billion greenbacks to give to U.S. banks so they'd have enough money to continue the reckless lending that caused the financial crisis in the first place.
Not to be outdone, the Obama administration is pushing a plan to speed up the printing presses even more, churning out yet another 819 billion, a third of it to allow for tax cuts, the other two-thirds to get us back to work repairing bridges, renovating schools, and setting up wind farms.
I'm sure it will all work just fine, so long as those speeded-up printing presses don't catch fire.
Wait a minute, though — did I say they were just printing this money? That was wrong of me — wrong, wrong. (That's the sound of me slapping myself on the hand.) Of course, no modern government would be so irresponsible as to just print a trillion and a half dollars in four months, risking inflation, the destruction of savings, relentless price increases, and all the dislocations and discontent that come from a fast-depreciating currency.
Of course not. The money won't just be printed. In better times it might have been borrowed from foreigners by selling them Treasury bonds; but the foreigners are all busted too nowadays.
So where will this trillion and a half actually come from? Why, from the Dollar Fairy, of course! What did you think?
05 — BHO on Arab TV. President Obama gave an interview to Al-Arabiya, an Arabic TV station.
The interview confirmed my fast-growing impression that for all the hype about what a fascinating and brilliant man the President is, Obama has in fact never had an original thought in his life. The main danger the world faces from this new President is, he may bore us all to death.
In the President's defense, I suppose you could say that the problems of the Middle East have been with us for so long now, and have proved so resistant to any change, that this whole area is one of impenetrable boredom.
Speaking for myself, I must say, I find Middle Eastern affairs a well-nigh infallible insomnia cure. I only have to hear the names of Mahmoud Abbas or Benjamin Netanyahu and my eyelids grow heavy, the pencil drops from my fingers, I slump in my chair, and my nubile research assistants — Mandy, Candy, and Brandy — have to rush over and revive me with stimulating cups of coffee and neck rubs.
Well, back to Barack Obama and this Al-Arabiya bore-a-thon. Obama is the world's leading expert on saying nothing at all in two thousand words. This man could bore for his country, and it looks like that's what he intends to do.
When you can extract any meaning from Obama's words, the meaning is dubious. For example, when the Arab bloke asked the President about the Israel-Palestine business, Obama said, quote:
I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people.
For heaven's sake: If Palestinians care about prosperity and security for their people, why did they elect Hamas in 2006? Hamas isn't interested in those things, it's interested in destroying Israel.
Again, Obama speaks of Iran having supported terrorist organizations, quote, "in the past." There's nothing "in the past" about it — Iran supports Hamas and Hizbollah right now. Where does he think Hamas is getting all those missiles from?
Again, Obama said he wants to restore, quote: "the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago."
Hmm, let's see: Just about exactly twenty years ago, Libya blew up a U.S. passenger plane in retaliation for our having bombed Libya in retaliation for Libyan agents having murdered some GIs in Germany. Just about exactly thirty years ago, Iranian revolutionaries were parading U.S. diplomatic personnel around in blindfolds and terrifying them with mock executions.
These are the good old days Obama wants to get back to? Well, I don't know — perhaps hot air sounds better in Arabic.
06 — Bush's DHS favoritism for Obama's aunt. Meanwhile, new developments in the strange case of Barack Obama's aunt, a Kenyan citizen named Zeituni Onyango.
This lady had her request for political asylum rejected four years ago and was ordered to leave the country. Instead of complying with the order, she did what any resourceful illegal immigrant would do: she got herself an apartment in Boston's public housing, and a job paid out of public funds, and settled back in comfort to enjoy life on the American taxpayer's dollar.
Well, it seems that the Bush administration was worried that the immigration authorities might deport Mrs Onyango in the run-up to the Presidential election. I suppose they figured that if this happened, the voting public would take it as a below-the-belt strike at the Obama campaign by unscrupulous Republican operatives.
Whether the voting public would in fact have taken it that way, I don't know; but I'm absolutely certain that the mainstream media, in the full flush of their determination to get their darling elected, would have spun it that way.
In any case, the Bush people ordered the Homeland Security Department to issue an October 31 directive to the effect that no arrests of high-profile illegal immigrants be made without specific permission from senior department officials.
The directive is still in force. Mrs Onyango can sail on into her fifth year as a scofflaw trespasser on U.S. territory while continuing to live on the public fisc.
I'm sure Mrs. Onyango is a very nice lady; but she'd be just as nice living back home in Kenya, while our public funds go to the advantage of our own citizens, and our law enforcement agencies enforce the laws, impartially, without fear or favor.
07 — BHO's little blue book. Those of a certain age will recall the Little Red Book of Chairman Mao's thoughts, which every Chinese citizen was supposed to own and study back in the days of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in the late 1960s.
Here is a sample thought, quote:
The masses have boundless creative power. They can organize themselves and concentrate on places and branches of work where they can give full play to their energy; they can concentrate on production in breadth and depth and create more and more undertakings for their own well-being.
Stirring stuff, eh? People used to memorize the Little Red Book — I could introduce you to middle-aged Chinese who can still rattle it off. In fact the really keen Maoists used to memorize it backwards, so that the thought I quoted above would come out as:
Being-well own their for undertakings more and more create and depth and breadth in production on concentrate can they; energy their to play full give can they where work of branches and places on concentrate and themselves organize can they. Power creative boundless have masses the.
Perhaps that's where Yoda got his education. Anyway, now there is a Little Blue Book of Barack Obama's thoughts. The Amazon.com product description calls it, quote, "an anthology of quotations borrowed from Barack Obama's speeches and writings, intended to keep the momentum going for those inspired by his message of hope and change," end quote.
I did the little business where Amazon lets you peek inside the book for excerpts, and I got this, quote:
It is absolutely vital that we maintain a strong and active foreign policy, relentless in pursuing our enemies and hopeful in promoting our values around the world.
Hmm. I dunno, I sometimes wonder if we wouldn't be better off with a weak and passive foreign policy. Perhaps Obama's thoughts make more sense backwards:
World the around values our promoting in hopeful and enemies our pursuing in relentless, policy foreign active and strong a maintain we that vital absolutely is it.
No, it still makes my eyes glaze over. I think Chairman Mao's line about the boundless creative power of the masses has a bit more zip to it.
Now, people who have taken a closer look at the Little Blue Book tell me it's a spoof. I don't know. I couldn't say. Given the boundless creative power of the book-publishing masses, I suppose anything's possible. With the current level of media Obama worship, how would we tell?
In any case, to own this book, vital absolutely is it. [Clip: "The East is Red."]
08 — Obama raises test scores. As an example of the media's Obama worship, here's a report from the New York Times.
Researchers in the Social Psychology Department at San Diego State University gave 20-question tests to racially-mixed groups of students. They found a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on the test administered before Barack Obama's election victory; but the gap disappeared in a test given after that victory.
The researchers theorize that the inspiring role model that Mr Obama projected helped black students overcome anxieties about racial stereotypes, anxieties that normally lower black test scores.
The Times reported this with, so far as I could tell, a perfectly straight face.
You need to know a little about education theory to understand how bizarre this is. The test-score gap between African American and white students is a huge issue in ed theory, and has been for decades. I just googled "achievement gap" and got nearly 750,000 hits.
There have been no end of conferences, commissions, summits, and conventions about it; endless studies, researches, inquiries, papers, projects, reports, and books. The best quick introduction to the topic is Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom's 2003 book No Excuses, which runs to 350 pages.
The Thernstroms call the achievement gap "the most important civil rights issue of our time." This is a tremendous matter, that has vexed education theorists for forty years.
And now suddenly, with the election of Barack Obama, it's all been resolved? There'll be no more achievement gap?
George Orwell once said of something or other that it was so preposterous, only an intellectual could believe it. Here we have something so preposterous, only a New York Times editor would publish it.
09 — Free speech in Europe. With all our problems here in the U.S.A., we still have our First Amendment right to free speech. Hold on fast to it, citizens. One great lesson of the modern world is that diversity and free speech are not compatible. One or other of them has to give way.
In Europe, they've decided that diversity is such a transcendentally wonderful concept that freedom of speech has to give way. There have been two illustrations of this in the past few days.
The first was in Austria, where Member of Parliament Susanne Winter was convicted of "incitement" and of "humiliating a religion" because of anti-Muslim remarks she made. Frau Winter has been fined 31,000 dollars and given a suspended prison term of three months for talking about an "Islamic immigration tsunami," and for describing the Prophet Mohammed, who married a nine-year-old girl, as a pedophile.
Meanwhile, over in Holland, a Dutch parliamentarian named Geert Wilders has been indicted on charges of, quote, "inciting hatred and discrimination" for his film Fitna, which argues that the Koran promotes violence.
Don't think this couldn't happen here. The U.S.A. is well supplied with organizations like CAIR (the Committee on American-Islamic Relations), La Raza, and the Southern Poverty Law Center, whose employees go to work every day filled with the determination to stamp out the open expression of opinions they find objectionable.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance; and to judge from the European example, freedom of speech is one freedom that can easily be lost to the howling armies of "diversity," "inclusion," and multiculturalism.
10 — Miscellany. Here is our closing miscellany of short items.
Item: "Cuban President Raul Castro and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have reaffirmed their countries' close ties over a traditional dish of pig fat," it says here on the BBC News website.
How very comradely! Castro and Medvedev, says the Beeb, enjoyed a feast of vodka and salo — that's salted pig fat — at a hunting lodge in the forests west of Moscow.
If you've been wondering why Russians have the shortest life spans of any advanced nation, there's your clue right there.
Item: Also from the Beeb: A sculpture of an enormous bronze-coloured shoe has been erected in Iraq to honor the journalist who threw his shoes at ex-U.S. President George W. Bush. The artist says that it is not a political work, but, quote, "a source of pride for all Iraqis."
It would have been a source of greater pride, I should think, if the damn Iraqis had got rid of their own crazy dictator, instead of us having had to do it for them.
Meanwhile, the guy who actually threw the shoes at Bush, Muntadar al-Zeidi, is still in the custody of the Iranian stooge regime we installed in Baghdad. He is reported to be suffering from a broken arm, broken ribs, and internal bleeding, having repeatedly and recklessly hurled himself against the fists, boots and night-sticks of prison staff.
Item: One thing that made a lot of us conservatives reluctant to vote for John McCain was his extravagant pandering to the Hispanic race lobbies. The McCain campaign had a Hispanic outreach unit headed up by Juan Hernández, a rabidly pro-Mexican, anti-American race agitator, and in fact a Mexican government employee.
McCain went out of his way to alienate people who wanted our country's immigration laws enforced, and to offer the keys of the country to illegals. In his relentless Hispandering, McCain out-Bushed George W. Bush and out-Roved Karl Rove.
So his efforts brought about a huge increase in the GOP's Hispanic vote, right? Wrong. Latest figures from the November election show McCain getting 32 percent of the Hispanic vote versus Barack Obama's 67 percent.
For comparison, Bush got 39 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. Even if you discount for the fall-off in the Republican vote overall, McCain did slightly worse with Hispanics than Bush did.
The results of his massive pander-o-thon, the results of all Juan Hernández's tireless efforts, were zero, zip, zilch — slightly less than that, in fact.
Was it wrong of me to experience a twinge of malicious glee when reading about this?
Item: Regular Radio Derb listeners know that I try to keep you up-to-date on events in Bolivia, just because that nation illustrates particularly well the rising tide of racial socialism in Latin America.
Well, President Evo Morales' new constitution was approved by sixty percent of Bolivian voters on January 25th. Curiously, that is almost exactly the same as the percentage of Bolivians who, like President Morales, are indigenous Americans.
Even more curiously, the eastern departments of Bolivia, whose populations are mostly European and mestizo, voted solidly against the new constitution.
Yet another illustration of the indisputable fact that diversity is a nation's greatest strength.
Item: Twenty-one-year-old Melody Morales, who I assume and hope is no relation to the President of Bolivia, had a dream. Melody's dream, according to her, was to pour drinks for paying customers while wearing a skimpy bikini to show off her exceptionally well-formed figure.
Alas, Melody's dream was shattered by a manager at Hawaiian Tropic Zone, a restaurant in New York City's Times Square. Melody had applied for a bikini-waitress job at the place, but the manager turned her down because she was, he said, "too ghetto," and "didn't speak white." Said this heartless manager, quote: "I am not going to ruin my business with your Latin accent."
What a brute! — when young Melody had taken the pains to acquire a Latin accent.
If Melody won't mind me exercising my own Latin accent, I offer the following apothegm from Publilius Syrus for her consolation: Minus decipitur cui negatur celeriter — which, as Melody undoubtedly knows, but less well-educated listeners may not, means: "He is less deceived who is denied swiftly."
The young lady is now lawyered up and looking for a big fat settlement from Hawaiian Tropic Zone. If that doesn't pan out, Melody, I'm in need of a research assistant here at Buckley Towers, as Candy is leaving to take up a position (please don't ask me what position) in Washington DC, where so much hiring is going on right now in this newly robust economy of ours.
Candy's replacement must be able to take dictation, must be willing to spend a lot of time in the badly-lit, rarely-visited stacks of National Review's archives room, must look good in a bikini, and must have a decent Latin accent.
11 — Signoff. Well, that's it, listeners. I have to break off here to catch the dollar dump.
See, we got one of those notices from the U.S. Treasury that at a certain time today, government helicopters will fly over Manhattan dumping billions of dollar bills to stimulate us. We're all heading out into the street to get as much as we can. With imaginative programs like this, combined with the boundless creative power of the masses, I'm sure the economy will soon be humming along just fine.
Cheerio, everybody — and make sure you find out the times of the dollar dumps in your neighborhood. They're all posted on this new government website: www.hyperinflation.com.
[Music clip: More Ray Charles, "Busted."]