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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. A momentous week for the republic, ladies and gentlemen, as our nation's first Latina Supreme Court nominee heroically survived a ferocious grilling from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Congress unveiled a healthcare plan that will give us all speedy access to medical attention, but unfortunately only after depriving us all of our jobs, and the Vice President of the United States told us that the federal government has to spend more money if it is to avoid bankruptcy — which is just what I tell my wife about the family finances.
Radio Derb here with your weekly update, and this is your congenitally genial host John Derbyshire with all the grisly details.
This week's broadcast really does get grisly, too — stick around.
02 — Sotomayor hearings. The hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court got going on Monday. To those of us for whom the only sight uglier than a "diversity" hustler trying to browbeat white males, is the sight of white males allowing themselves to be browbeaten, the opening statements were heartening.
Jeff Sessions let Sotomayor have it with both barrels, throwing her record at her, and reminding us of how she has positively boasted of her partiality. John Cornyn spoke up for the Takings Clause, the Commerce Clause, and the Second Amendment. Lindsey Graham spoke up for Miguel Estrada, a wise Latino who, as Senator Graham pointed out, had no chance to sit on the Supereme Court by virtue of having the wrong politics. John Kyl delivered some well-placed kicks to President Obama's absurd "empathy" standard for judges.
Pretty good stuff. The Democratic members of the committee just slobbered, of course.
It was downhill from there, though. Quota Queen Sonia bobbed and weaved at the questioning, only taking a few small hits, as when John Kyl asked her to identify the precedent she claimed to have applied in the case of the New Haven firefighters. Naturally she couldn't, there being no such precedent.
That won't prevent her being confirmed, of course. There's an old Irish legal joke about a case in County Limerick, where juries were notoriously partial to defendants. Said the judge to the accused in his closing remarks, quote: "You have been acquitted of this charge by a Limerick jury, and leave this court with no other stain on your character."
Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed to the Supreme Court by a committee of twelve Democrats and seven Republicans, and will leave the committee hearing room with no other stain on her character.
The only stains resulting from these hearings, in fact, will be the boot-polish stains on the tongues of Senators Schumer, Specter, Durbin, Feinstein, Franken and company. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse told Judge Sotomayor he got goosebumps thinking about her heroic struggle to rise from the near-slavery of a working-class neighborhood in New York City to a dazzling career in American jurisprudence. I thought he'd follow up by telling us he got an electric tingle up his leg, but that was some other lefty talking about some other hero of multiculturalist socialism.
Goosebumps, tingles — with Democrats, it's all about feelings, wo wo wo feelings, isn't it? And to hell with the Constitution and all that boring old 18th-century stuff.
03 — Paying for Obamacare. The old quip about nationalized health care is: If you think health care's expensive now, wait till you see how much it costs when it's free. Well, this week we found out. Both the House and the Senate extruded health-care bills. The House bill was 1,018 pages, the Senate bill 615 pages.
So there you are, citizens: 1,633 pages for your weekend beach reading. The proposed costs are in proportion: $600 billion over ten years for the Senate plan, $1.5 trillion for the House plan.
You've got to feel the Senate wasn't really trying here. A federal spending program isn't really worth anyone's serious attention nowadays unless it has the word "trillion" in its cost estimate. No doubt that will all get fixed in committee. Perhaps they'll just add the two bills together, for a total of $2.1 trillion, or $1.3 billion per page of legislation — say three million dollars a word.
Who's going to pay for it all? Well, let's see. The rich are going to pay, for sure. If you're an individual with income higher than $800 thousand, or a couple earning over a million, your income tax will go up five and a half percent.
But hey, who cares about the rich? Obama won the election, didn't he? And he's a redistributionist leftist, isn't he? So what did you expect?
All right, who else takes a hit? Businesses with more than 25 employees, or more than $250 thousand in payrolls. Well, that should kill off the incentive to expand your business. And of course, if you work for a business with 28 employees, there's a, let's see, three-in-28 chance that you'll be seeing a pink slip in your future.
Who else is going to find himself on the downside here? Quote from Senator Chris Dodd on the Senate bill, quote: "If you don't have health insurance, this bill is for you."
Hmm. If I remember my propositional calculus correctly, that seems to imply that if you do have health insurance, then the bill is not for you. Is that right, Senator? … Senator? … Hello, Senator? … Hello? …
04 — CIA targeted al-Qaeda! You really don't want to be working for the CIA nowadays.
Now, there is a case to be made for not having a Central Intelligence Agency. The case goes something like this: We, the United States of America, are the most morally pure nation that ever existed on the face of the earth, and it would be better for the United States to perish in a sea of flames than that we should engage in any actions that would leave a spot or a stain, however small, on our conscience.
Since the CIA exists to steal our enemies' secrets and frustrate their knavish tricks; and since such things cannot be done without compromising our snow-white moral purity, we should not have a CIA.
That's the anti-CIA case — a jolly good one, if national suicide is your ideal. For that dwindling minority of us who would like the U.S.A. to go on existing for a few more years in more or less its present form, the case is not compelling. We like having a CIA, and we'd like it to carry out its spying and covert-ops work with a maximum of efficiency and a minimum of public exposure.
Alas for us! Item: Attorney General Eric Holder, who has no problem at all with uniformed Black Panthers armed with night sticks supervising voting in Philadelphia, is upset that CIA agents during the previous administration might have used torture against terrorist suspects — the word "torture" being used here, you understand, to refer to any disciplinary procedure that would be out of bounds in a girl scout troop. Holder wants to appoint a special prosecutor to harass and bankrupt — oh, I beg your pardon, I mean of course to investigate — agency employees.
Meanwhile, the nation has learned to its horror that the CIA has been considering a program of targeted assassination of al-Qaeda personnel. To be exact, they've been considering it for eight years without doing anything about it.
When the new administration came in, the CIA asked if they couldn't please send out operational squads to kill Osama bin Laden and his pals. The entire administration swooned at their desks when they heard this, and extra supplies of smelling salts had to be flown in from Utah.
When Leon Panetta, the new CIA boss, had been revived, he screeched: "Assassinate al-Qaeda people? Over my dead body!" He ordered the program scrapped, and an investigation launched into why congresscritters hadn't been told about it.
There is, of course, a nonzero probability that the administration's stern approach to CIA operations will be implemented over our dead bodies, the dead bodies of Americans murdered by those al-Qaeda operatives left un-assassinated by administration policy. Our consolation, of course, will be that we shall die in an atmosphere of moral purity.
As you hurl yourself to your death from that burning building, citizen, take comfort in the fact that at least you die a citizen of a nation that no longer squirts water up people's noses.
05 — America welcomes AIDS patients. Here's another example of the new administration's determination to lift our nation to a higher level of idealism and moral superiority.
As you may know, the jackbooted thugs with bullwhips and fire hoses who have presided over our immigration service this past eight years have enforced a cruel, oppressive rule that prohibits people with AIDS from entering the U.S.A. The absurd and preposterous justification for this heartless policy has been, that AIDS is "a communicable disease of public health significance."
AIDS is of course not a communicable disease — who ever thought so? As for it being of public health significance — why, if it was of public health significance, then activist groups would have been loudly and publicly declaring that AIDS is the most serious public-health issue of our time, and lobbying for public funds to be spent on finding a cure, wouldn't they? And of course they haven't, have they? Of course not.
Now once this hateful, mean-spirited rule has been done away with, the U.S.A. will be open to all those wonderful people with vibrant, interesting lifestyles from all over the world, to further shame us dull conservative bourgeois types for our ignorance and prejudice and starched-collar, small-town lack of imagination.
And with Obamacare fully implemented, the five thousand dollars worth of retroviral drugs these people need every day to keep themselves alive, will all be paid for by the good old American taxpayer. Who but a twisted bigot could possibly object?
At last — at last! — our nation is living up to the high ideals of its founders, the ideals inscribed right there on the plinth of the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to get free medical treatment for the entirely foreseeable consequences of their transgressive lifestyles."
Isn't that what it says? Of course it is.
06 — Seasonal workers. Enlightened Radio Derb listeners will all know that one foreigner is worth ten Americans.
Americans, we all know, are lazy, ignorant, rude, and unreliable. So why bother employing them, especially when you'll be getting hit with new employee taxes to pay for Obamacare?
Here's the solution, businessmen of America, from a website called www.jobofer.org. (That's "jobofer" with just one "f.") Quote from them, quote:
Are you a business based in the US with a need for entry-level employees from May/June to September/October of 2009? You can benefit from covering your seasonal staffing needs by hiring hard-working international students with a J1 Visa who speak English and are willing to work in the States. Exchange students from Europe and Asia coming to USA under The Work and Travel USA Program are fully authorized to work by the US Government. Fully qualified, tested and covered by medical insurance, these foreign workers will match the needs of your business during the busy season just perfectly! [Exclamation point there. Continuing …]
Wow, that's some deal! How can the businessmen of America resist? Especially now that your foreign summer employee might be a person with AIDS, thereby adding to the diversity of your workforce!
Meanwhile, some listeners might be wondering about the prospects for those actual American-citizen students who want a summer job. Let me address those listeners.
You are nativist, selfish, mean-spirited, homophobic bigots, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Don't you want the U.S.A. to fulfill our high ideals of extending a welcome to all the peoples of the world? Why, you're practically standing in the schoolhouse door! For shame!
In any case, no red-blooded American kid would take summer work at anything less prestigious than a Goldman Sachs internship. Didn't Karl Rove speak for all true patriots when he said back in February 2007 that, quote, "I don't want my 17-year-old son to have to pick tomatoes or make beds in Las Vegas," end quote? He surely did.
We're Americans. We don't have to do that scummy seasonal work. That's what God put the other six billion people on earth for.
07 — Apollo 11 anniversary. As a green-eyeshade fiscal conservative, I disapprove of all government spending extravaganzas, most especially those with no very obvious purpose in advancing our national interests or preserving our liberties.
On the other hand, as a space- and science-fiction addict from childhood, I have to admit that the most stirring and thrilling public spectacle of my lifetime was the Apollo 11 landing on the moon, forty years ago this weekend.
I'm therefore in a state of acute psychic stress about the whole thing. It doesn't help that the Apollo 11 landing came at the tail-end of the old, confident, can-do U.S.A. that we Boomers recall with such nostalgia. Can you imagine any such project being carried out in the America of today — the regulation-choked, lawyered-up, diversity-whipped, ACLU-patrolled, environmentally-squeamish U.S.A. of George W. Bush and Barack Obama? I sure can't.
From President Kennedy's announcement of the Moon landing as a goal, in a speech he made on May 25 1961, to the actual Apollo 11 landing, was a span of eight years and 56 days. Eight years and 56 days on from the 9/11 attacks puts you at November 6 this year. We haven't even managed to rebuild the World Trade Center site. Heck, we haven't been able to find Osama bin Laden.
The United States of forty years ago was still a nation that could accomplish things. We could even accomplish things with government spending, whereas nowadays the money our federal government spends goes into the pockets of lobbyists, agitators, and lawyers.
At least the big government programs of forty years ago actually worked. Who believes that Obamacare will work? Or the stimulus? Or government management of General Motors? Or the war in Afghanistan? Not me.
Face it, listeners, our government has seized up. We could no more put a man on the moon today, in eight years from a standing start, than we could raise the dead. It would take eight years just to get the diversity quotas and environmental-impact statements worked out.
Not that I should over-state the efficiency and competence of the federal government even in the 1960s. We just got this news item from Reuters that the original recordings of the Apollo 11 landings were erased so the tapes could be re-used. Federal government incompetence is a universal constant, like the speed of light.
Forty years ago, though, they still got some things right; and even that bit of incompetence was in the cause of saving money. Now the government gets nothing right, and saving money is not on their priority list.
The whole system has seized up. We are doomed. (You're going to be hearing that a lot from Radio Derb.)
08 — Absimilation. A little Latin lesson, listeners, if you'll just bear with me.
The English word "assimilation" derives from the Latin prefix ad-, which indicates a moving towards something, and the verb simulare from that same language, which means "to cause one person or thing to resemble another." You can make a precisely opposite word using the prefix ab-, which marks a moving away from something.
Many immigrants of course assimilate to American society. I think I have. I hope I have; I've tried to, anyway. Many others, however, especially in the second and following generations, ab-similate.
Case in point: Abdifatah Yusuf Isse of Seattle. Known as "Abdi" to his classmates at Seattle's Roosevelt High School and Eastern Washington University, where Isse was sociable and popular. "No one is more surprised than I am to learn of his arrest," said Isse's academic advisor at the university.
What was he arrested for, this charming young American lad of Somali parentage? You'll be shocked to learn that the charges are terrorist-related. Isse had gone to Minneapolis on a school break. While there, he had fallen in with a crowd at the Abubakr as-Saddique mosque, the largest Somali mosque in Minneapolis, and apparently a center for recruitment into the jihadist movement.
The FBI says that as many as twenty young men of Somali origins have disappeared from the Minneapolis area in the past two years, and at least three of them have turned up dead in Somalia. They include Shirwa Ahmed, an American who blew himself up in a suicide bombing against U.N. forces last October.
Absimilation: With a generous immigration policy, most immigrants will assimilate, but some will ab-similate.
Which immigrants are more likely to do the one, and which are more likely to do the other? That, of course, is impossible to guess in advance. There is simply no way. No Sirree, no way at all. Completely impossible. You can never guess. There is simply no basis for assuming anything. Absolutely not! No way of knowing. None at all …
09 — Miscellany. Here is our closing miscellany of brief items.
Yes, folks, we're over in France, where Tuesday last was of course Bastille Day. In the center of Paris, there was the traditional parade up the Champs Elysées. Out in the projects that surround the city, there was the traditional burning of cars by … let's see, who was burning the cars? oh yes — youths.
Quote from Agence France-Presse, quote:
Disaffected youths from bleak suburban housing projects around major cities use Bastille Day to express their frustration with high unemployment rates and what they see as France's failure to integrate ethnic minorities.
This year's tally of burned-out cars was 317 — up 6.7 percent on 2008. So at least the youths of Paris are increasing their productivity.
Just trying to look on the bright side there, mes amis.
Item: Sacha Baron-Cohen's life work of getting back at everyone who was ever mean to the Jews by making horrendous movie caricatures of them, moved into its Austrian phase this week with the release of Brüno, his latest mövie … sorry, I mean movie.
Baron-Cohen started out as Ali G, a mock-Muslim who said outrageous things in mock interviews with unsuspecting subjects. He then became Borat, who was supposed to be from Kazakhstan but in fact was lampooning ignorant, antisemitic Slavic peasants. Now it's the turn of the Austrians — you know, the nationality that produced that Hitler bloke.
Baron-Cohen is in a race against time here. Can he get back at all the people who have ever been mean to the Jews before he runs out of gullible subjects who are unaware of his shtick?
Since pretty much everyone has been mean to the Jews at some point in history, it's not likely, but you have to give the guy credit for trying.
Item: The United States military is developing a battlefield robot that can fuel itself by consuming organic material, from grass to furniture or even dead bodies, it says here. The gadget is called, with the exquisite good taste characteristic of military nomenclature, EATR — Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot.
The company developing the robot tells us that about 150 pounds of vegetation could provide energy to drive it 100 miles. Yeah, but it's not the vegetation that got our attention, guys. It's the other thing. Dead bodies? Are we quite sure it'll be able to distinguish between dead and wounded? Or for that matter, dead and live?
I must say, though, military applications aside, I could use one of these things to help with the garden work. It would save me putting out bags of garden waste for the garbagemen. And if the occasional neighborhood teenager were to go missing — well, officer, the machine's still in a developmental stage …
Item: Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, and Effi Briest were ill-served by the societies they lived in. Here's a website they could have used, if they'd been born a century or two later: AshleyMadison.com, based in Toronto and dedicated to helping adulterous men hook up with adulterous women — or, if you want to get into the Sotomayor spirit by pressing button two, adúlteros with adúlteras.
The website's founder, a chap named Noel Biderman, tells us business is booming. Apparently with the recession, married couples can't afford to divorce, so they are just fooling around instead. Office romances are also in decline, because they can lose you your job.
In a recession, people who would otherwise consider divorce, just cheat instead. What you think of this depends on which you dislike more, divorce or adultery.
I dislike both rather a lot, so I won't be endorsing Mr. Biderman's product. The fact that there's a demand for his services, tells us something about our times — something unpleasant, in my opinion.
Item: News from Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town. The Sears Tower, tallest building in the city, and in fact the fourth tallest structure in the world, has been renamed the Willis Tower, having passed into the hands of an insurance brokerage name of Willis Group Holdings.
A good many Chicagoans are outraged by this; and since this is the city that gave us Al Capone, John Wayne Gacy, Theodore Kaczynski, Chris Farley, Hugh Hefner, Ron Blagojevich, Hillary Clinton, the Daley dynasty, Tony Rezko, and the career of Barack Obama, I think it's fair to say the inhabitants don't outrage easily.
In my opinion, it's the most deplorable takeover of a large building since GM neadquarters in New York City became a toy store. No more Sears Tower; and pretty soon, if I'm reading the financial pages correctly, no more Sears.
These are the End Times, listeners.
Item: President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan is creating an inland sea for his water-starved little Central Asian republic.
Scientists are pretty unanimous that the scheme won't work: The sea will be sucked up by the highly permeable soil of the region, they say, or will evaporate, and what is left will be poisoned by fertiliser from the local agriculture.
Why am I telling you this? Mainly because I like saying "Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov." Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov. OK, got it out of my system.
Item: News from the world of science: "Swearing reduces pain." Keele University, over there in the mother country, found that volunteers who cursed at will could endure pain nearly fifty percent longer than people who curbed their tongues.
Perhaps there's a cost-saving measure for Obamacare in there somewhere. Instead of handing out expensive pain-killers to citizens who've spent two years on the federal waiting list for arthritis surgery, just tell them to vent their feelings with some four-letter words.
Although, come to think of it, they'll probably have been doing that anyway.
10 — Signoff. There you are, listeners: no pain, no gain; but more [bleep], less pain. Is that plain? Or should I try to say it again?
Tune in again next week for more of what's inane, more that's insane, and more urbane disdain from Radio Derb.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]