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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb on the air, and this is your incandescently genial host John Derbyshire with the week's news.
Not much going on in the world as July crumbles into August, but let's see what we can scrape up.
02 — Costing Obamacare. We have a really unlikely hero of the week here, listeners: the CBO. That's the Congressional Budget Office.
The United States Congress, I'm sure I don't need to tell you, legislates for the federal government. The CBO's job is to estimate the cost of that legislation.
In theory the CBO is apolitical and objective, just working out the financial facts and presenting them to congressional committees. In fact its senior staff are all elite Washington insider types, with Ivy League degrees and the standard-issue New Class set of prejudices and preferences — in other words, liberal as all get out.
Furthermore, the Director of the CBO has to be appointed by someone, and you won't be surprised to learn that it's someone from Congress, though I don't see any logical reason why it needs to be.
The current Director, Douglas Elmendorf, was actually appointed by Nancy Pelosi and Robert Byrd. Doesn't that fill you with confidence about the CBO Director's ability and impartiality? Almost as much confidence as comes surging up when you recall that the Senate health-care bill bears the names of Edward Kennedy and Chris Dodd?
So the CBO looks like a fox-guarding-the-henhouse deal, right? Well, surprise: on Saturday last, Elmendorf sent a letter to Congress telling them that on the CBO's analysis, the White House's latest band-aid on the disintegrating health-care reform legislation wouldn't save anything like as much as had been claimed. Quote from that letter, quote:
In CBO's judgment, the probability is high that no savings would be realized … but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized. Looking beyond the 10-year budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis.
Got that? Bearing in mind that this is coming from Elmendorf, a left-liberal who probably believes that beyond the Beltway lies nothing but swamp and prairie, this cautiously downbeat language can be taken to mean that this latest fix on the health-care bill will cost a couple of trillion dollars a year.
Obama's own point man on budget issues, Peter Orszag — who, by the way, was previously Director of the CBO himself (that swishing sound you hear in the background is a revolving door) — Peter Orszag scrambled to recover, saying the White House had never really intended this latest band-aid as a cost saver.
Yet in fact the whole point of it, clearly advertised at the time, was to throw a cost-saving bone to antsy Democrat congressmen who fear the health-care reform will send government expenditures through the roof.
Elmendorf's letter to Congress came just a week after he'd testified to the Senate Budget Committee that Obamacare would not stop the rise in government health-care expenditures. When the committee asked him point-blank whether or not he felt the bill represented a successful effort to reign in the long-term costs of health care, Elmendorf answered "No."
My recommendation to Mr Elmendorf at this point is that he buy one of those mirrors on a long handle that you can use to check for bombs under your car. Might want to hire himself a food-taster, too. These are Chicago guys he's messing with here.
03 — Sarah Palin steps down. I've liked Sarah Palin since she first showed up. She's an American original, and that has great appeal to us non-native-born Americans. You just don't find successful female politicians anywhere else in the world toting shotguns, speaking in tongues, with beauty-pageant trophies on their desks, and with daughters knocked up by guys who can shim a starter motor but don't know a latte from a cappuccino.
Some of my metro-con friends grumbled that Sarah's not smart enough to be President. Well, I say the hell with that. This is a commercial republic. We need a capable manager with a truckload of common sense, not a damn philosopher-king.
The whole idea of the U.S.A. is that it has a sufficiently simple and hands-off federal government that the Chief Executive just needs to stay sober in daylight hours and utter sonorous nothings at public events now and again. Philosopher-kings are for despotisms: this republic of ours can get along fine under intellectual mediocrities — as, indeed, it mostly has.
I'd like us to get back to Presidents like Benjamin Harrison, who, according to his White House usher, never worked after lunch; or the immortal Calvin Coolidge, who took a four-hour nap in the afternoon.
Enough of these hyperactive control freaks. Palin did a darn good job as governor — a better job than Barack Obama did running that playgroup in Chicago.
So count me as pro-Palin. I was therefore sorry to see her step down from the Alaska governorship last Sunday. Her reasons are still not clear, at any rate not to me, but I'm going with the assumption that Sarah wants plenty of time to build up a national base for some future run at the Presidency.
Good luck with it, Ma'am; and if there's anything I can do to help, give me a call care of National Review.
04 — Brits ban Michael Savage. When the British government banned Michael Savage from entering their godforsaken Islamo-socialist slum of a country, a lot of us out here on the foam-flecked Right were ticked off. Not at the insult to Michael — he can take care of himself, no worries about that — but because we weren't on the exclusion list, too.
How come Michael's banned and I'm not? What, my opinions aren't outrageous enough? Maybe I should try harder.
Anyway, Michael and his attorneys have been squeezing information from the British government about the reasons for his ban. Turns out it was a little exercise in multiculturalism. The bureaucrats over in London reponsible for the exclusion list took a look at it and realised it wasn't inclusive enough. It didn't have diversity.
See, everybody on the list was named Abdul, Aziz, Tariq, Waleed, Mohammed, Mohammed, Mohammed, or Mohammed. Not diverse! It was like when the college advertising brochure comes back from the printers and the trustees realise with gonad-shriveling shock and horror that in the crowd of happy students pictured on the front cover, there are no black faces!
In the case of the college brochure, a quick job with PhotoShop usually takes care of the problem, but the Brit bureaucrats were looking at names. How to balance out all those Mohammeds, to make the list more appealing to the glorious mosaic that is multicultural Britain?
Obviously what was needed was a Jew. It so happens that Michael Savage's birth name is Michael Alan Weiner. Michael had offered a guess, when the news of his banning first came out, that the British government had, quote, "plucked my name out of a hat because I'm controversial and white."
Well, Michael was close. They plucked his name out of that hat because he is controversial, white, and Jewish. That's how bureaucrats think nowadays. Gotta be diverse.
I'm still ticked off that I didn't get banned, though. Would it help if I reveal that my birth name was actually Benny Goldfarb?
05 — Stuff going on in Honduras. Honduras. Small country down there in that jigsaw thing south of Mexico. Something's been happening down there.
I still don't have a quarter so I still can't call someone who cares … if there is anyone who cares. Other than, you know, Hondureneans, Hondurasnians, whatever they call themselves. Down there in … Honduras.
Are you getting the impression I can't summon up any interest in the Hondurese and their problems? Well, listener, you are completely and totally WRONG! Not only am I fascinated by Honduras, my fascination has such a grip on me, I have written a poem about the place. Would you like to hear it? [No!] All right then, I shall read it to you.
There's stuff going on in Honduras.
06 — NY firefighters judgment. Three hundred and forty-three New York City firefighters died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in and around the World Trade Center. They were heroes, right?
Wrong! They were nothing but beneficiaries of racial discrimination and bias — basically just Klansmen who'd traded in their hoods for helmets. So we learned last week from Federal District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, delivering a judgment — not a verdict, a judgment, since the judge apparently thought no trial was necessary — in the case of the United States Government and some named plaintiffs versus the Fire Department of New York.
The plaintiffs — it was actually the George W. Bush Justice Department under leftist race hustler Alberto Gonzáles — the plaintiffs asserted that, quote:
From 1999 to 2007, the New York City Fire Department used written examinations with discriminatory effects and little relationship to the job of a firefighter to select more than 5,300 candidates for admission to the New York City Fire Academy. These examinations unfairly excluded hundreds of qualified people of color from the opportunity to serve as New York City firefighters.
The judge's 93-page ruling did not tell us what was unfair about the tests. It didn't tell us anything about the tests at all. Not one test question was reproduced in the entire 93 pages. Fortunately the New York Times has put the tests online so that we can read them: google on "New York City Firefighter Examinations" and the links come right up.
Here's a sample question, actually Question 18:
A firefighter has responded to a gas leak in an apartment building and has determined that the leak is coming from the furnace in the basement. The firefighter should shut the gas off at the
That's Question 18. Did you ever hear anything less related to firefighting work, or more obviously biased against black and Hispanic test-takers? Who on earth would think that firefighters need to know stuff like that?
Well, don't worry, New Yorkers: In future, they won't. There'll be no more of those stupid, biased questions about gas leaks. In future the FDNY tests will have questions that are strictly job-related and race-neutral.
In future, when you smell a gas leak in your building and call the Fire Department, you won't be getting some arrogant white supremacist who got the job because he had some weird, freakish ability to sit up late at night memorizing boring stuff about valves and meters. No Sir, you'll be getting someone diverse.
Here's a sample future question from the Firefighter Examination.
A citizen is walking along the street when he sees a passenger plane crash into a tall building. Fortunately the citizen has a cell phone. Whom should he call?
07 — Black Panthers intimidated voters. While the Bush Justice Department concentrated on dumbing down the New York Fire Department, the Obama Justice Department is trying to make voting places safe for ACORN.
Recall that back in June, Justice banned the state of Georgia from verifying that people registered to vote are U.S. citizens. Justice said that verifying citizenship discriminated against racial minorities. Why a member of a racial minority is less able to prove his citizenship than anyone else is baffling to me, but what do I know? I never went to law school.
Well, then came the case of the Black Panthers at that polling place in Philadelphia last November. You probably saw the video. If you didn't, just go to YouTube and search on "Panthers." There they are, standing in front of a polling station, wearing paramilitary uniforms and brandishing nightsticks. Witnesses said they were yelling racial insults at white voters. Nice, huh?
Well, the Justice Department got on the case. The Justice Department, just to remind you, has staffs of career attorneys headed up by a handful of political appointees who rotate after each change of administration.
The career lawyers labored away for five months on the case. In December, still under the Bush administration — though thank heaven without Alberto Gonzáles by this time — in December the career attorneys filed a complaint against the New Black Panther Party and the party members involved. None of the defendants bothered to respond to the court, so the Justice Department won the case by default.
By this time, though, we're in Obamaland, and the Justice Department is in the hands of Eric Holder — you remember, the guy who told us we're cowardly about race.
In a demonstration of how to be bold and fearless about race, Holder dropped all but one of the charges against the Black Panthers. In that one remaining case, the leader of the Panthers' Philadelphia chapter was hit with the following punishment, quote:
Not being permitted to brandish a deadly weapon within 100 ft. of a Philadelphia polling station until after the November 2012 elections.
That was the guy's punishment. Draconian, or what?
The other defendants got no punishment at all.
Why did Justice drop the charges? Virginia congressman Frank Wolf tried to find out. He wrote three letters to Attorney General Holder. In a further display of bold courage, Holder ignored all three. He also forbade career Justice Department attorneys from testifying to congressman Wolf.
Well, it emerged this week that the decision-makers here were two Obama appointees at Justice, Assistant Attorney General Loretta King and Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli. A Justice spokesperson said that, quote, "facts and the law did not support pursuing the claims" against the Black Panthers.
I guess those career attorneys at Justice were all wrong, then. And I guess those YouTube videos were just faked.
Oh well: at least that one guy got punished. I bet he's crying into his beer over not being allowed to brandish a deadly weapon closer than 100 feet from a polling place. Yessir, that poor guy is feeling the full crushing weight of the law.
08 — Treasury auction. Radio Derb has been asking for months where the money's going to come from for all these trillions of dollars in government spending. Since direct government income from fees and services is minuscule, the only possible answers are: taxes and borrowing.
Raising taxes in a recession doesn't seem like a good idea even to the Obamarrhoids, so debt is the way we'll go. Unfortunately, you can only borrow money if you can find someone willing to lend it to you; and this simple truth applies just as much to governments as to persons. Hence the naughty question Radio Derb keeps asking: What if they held a Treasury auction and nobody came?
Let's look at the trend lines. There were three Treasury auctions this week, with mixed results. An auction of two-year notes on Tuesday faced lackluster interest from bond buyers. Wednesday the Treasury managed to unload $39 billion in five-year notes, but demand was very weak. Quote from Bill O'Donnell, head of the Treasury desk at a big securities firm in Greenwich, Connecticut, quote:
It was just a horrendous result. It was the weakest bid-to-cover since September 2008, and by my numbers it was the biggest tail since February 1993. It was just a very, very weak result.
You don't need to know the trader jargon there to get the point.
Thursday things looked up a bit. Demand was brisk at a sale of $28 billion in seven-year notes. Why seven-year notes were hot on Thursday while five-year notes were frostbitten on Wednesday, nobody can explain to me, but at least there are still people out there willing to lend us money.
The logic here is, though, as the Wall Street Journal said, convoluted. If people are willing to lend us money, that means we can go on running humongous deficits, and that's bad for the dollar, which is indeed weakening.
At any rate, the dies irae when nobody shows up to buy our bonds has been postponed for a while, and we can go on spending like drunken bond traders. Whether that's good news or bad news, I leave you to discuss among yourselves.
09 — Miscellany. OK, here's our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: A 78-year-old lady in Carroll, Iowa, has sold her two TV sets because, she says, she is sick of seeing President Obama on them all the time.
Quote from the lady, whose name is Deloris Nissen, quote:
I just got tired of watching him on every channel. I thought, my gosh, does he ever stay at the White House?
You might want to cancel your subscription to Time magazine, too, Deloris.
Item: John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, thinks it's ridiculous to expect congresscritters to read a thousand-page bill. Quote from him:
What good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?
Quite right, Congressman. You guys, just vote on the darn thing, don't try to read it. It's written so no-one can understand it anyway.
Item: News from the wonderful world of science: A defense contractor in the U.K. has developed a line of fire-fighting robots. Quote from the BBC news site, quote:
The robots range from a nimble, stair-climbing reconnaissance unit to a diesel-powered robot with a large claw.
Fire-fighting robots — well, perhaps that'll put an end to all the damn lawsuits about qualifying tests.
Item: Michael Moore, who has got stinking rich by scoffing at capitalism, obscenely fat from warning us about junk food, and who flies round in a private jet to protest global warming, has got a new film out.
This one is actually called Capitalism — that's the title, Capitalism — and he's over in Europe where his film is competing for the Jimmy Carter Take-A-Dump-In-Your-Own-Living-Room movie award.
In related news, the Omaha World-Herald reports that local ambulance crews are increasingly challenged by having to cater for obese patients. Lloyd Rupp, a battalion chief in the Omaha Fire Department, said his crews encounter a 400-pound-plus patient every several days now, whereas it was a rare thing just ten years ago.
This is what we reporters call a portmanteau item, see? — I got Michael Moore, obesity, and a fire department all in one item. Unfortunately nobody's being sued and everyone's the same race, but look, I'm doing my best.
Item: President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov of Turkmenistan has not been doing anything much this week, thus giving me no real excuse to say "Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov" … but I've said it anyway. Twice.
Item: The Taser company of Scottsdale, Arizona has unveiled a new model that can stun three people at the same time. They say it will be a great boon to law enforcement officers trying to subdue unruly suspects.
In related news, Cambridge police sergeant James Crowley met on the White House lawn with President Obama, Vice President Biden, and professional black guy Henry Louis Gates.
Hmm, a cop facing three potentially uncooperative citizens, eh? Seems to me this would have been a great opportunity to test out the new Taser, but alas, all they did was drink beer and pretend to smile.
Item: Fifty-year-old Rodell Vereen of Conway, South Carolina, is being held on $10,000 bail after video surveillance caught him in an act of sexual congress with a 21-year-old filly named Sugar. That's literally a filly — Sugar is a quadruped of the equine persuasion.
Vereen is a repeat offender; he was on probation for a buggery conviction stemming from a previous tryst with Sugar. That's why Sugar's owner had her stables fitted with with surveillance cameras.
A word of advice to Mr Vereen: Just marry the creature, save yourself a lot of trouble. And if marrying a mare is not legal in your state yet, stick around — it soon will be.
10 — Signoff. That's the week's news, America. I'm off for my morning workout in Buckley Towers' lavishly-equipped gym, under the stern eye of Igor, my personal trainer. Then a light lunch in the grotto with Jonah and the girls, followed by a grueling afternoon arguing with Mark Steyn about the proper placement of semicolons.
Meanwhile my tireless staff of researchers will be toiling away behind the scenes to bring you another edition of Radio Derb next weekend.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]