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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Thank you, Franz Josef Haydn. That was one of the Derbyshire Marches Frankie wrote for the Derbyshire Regiment during one of his visits to England in the 1790s. This is John Derbyshire, your preternaturally genial host, with another edition of Radio Derb. Rather a short one this week, I'm afraid, for a concatenation of adscititious reasons, so let's get right into it.
02 — Bam nixed missiles. There was a neat little conjunction of events and anniversaries on Thursday. Associated Press reported that the IAEA — that's the International Atomic Energy Authority — is pregnant with a report by experts all agreeing that Iran can now make nuclear weapons and is close to being able to deliver them by missile. Then our President announced that the administration will abandon plans to put anti-ballistic missile emplacements in Eastern Europe. Those plans have been fiercely opposed by Russia, which sees Eastern Europe as being in her sphere of influence, and which has been sorely vexed by NATO's expansion into that area. The idea of a surprise attack against Russia from Western Europe might seem bizarre to you and me, but it makes perfect sense to a lot of Russians. Then everyone remembered that this exact day, September 17, was the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland, following the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 24th. History weighs heavy in that part of the world, and Poland was the nation that had agreed to host our anti-ballistic missile deployments, with the Czech Republic being a base for the corresponding radar arrays. I'd better confess that in the matter of these anti-missile deployments, I'm somewhat off the reservation. so far as National Review is concerned. I'm a big fan of anti-missile systems in the generality. Why would we not develop anti-missile defenses if they make us safer? They represent a terrific improvement over Mutual Assured Destruction. And I acknowledge the upside of having those missiles in Eastern Europe: defend our allies in the region, give us early warning, and so on. I just don't see those upsides as being anything like strong enough to counter the downside though, which is of course, ticking off Russia in a major way. We have no interest in ticking off Russia. Russia is a part of European civilization; and if European civilization doesn't hang together over the coming decades, we shall be hanged separately. Pushing Russia into accommodations with crazy Muslim powers is not in our interests, or Russia's. Iran's nuclear missiles will be a bigger threat to Russia than to us, and a fact as obvious as that will dawn on the Russians soon. Their vision is clouded at the moment by atavistic fears of encirclement — seeing our armies in Iraq and Afghanistan, our missile bases in East Europe. Five years from now, with our troops gone from those countries, and Russians looking down the barrels of Iranian missile launchers, things will seem much different. I have to bite down hard on a pencil while saying this, but I'll say it: Obama's call, as crassly ill-timed as it was, and as naively unilateral, is the right call. It would be righter still if it were not rooted in the Left's dislike of anti-missile defenses in general, which is a wrong call. Anti-missile defenses? — yes please. Deployment of them in Russia's back yard? — no thanks. A recolonization of Eastern Europe by Russia is only a tad less improbable than an assault on Russia from the West. Poland and the Czech Republic will survive the absence of anti-missiles and radar. Western civilization will not survive everlasting rancor between Russia and the West. This is not 1940. There are different enemies now, and the West should unite to oppose them.
03 — Government work. Chris Edwards over at the Cato Institute has been crunching the latest numbers from the Bureau of Economic Analaysis on how much we all earn from our jobs. The phrase he deploys is "federal worker compensation advantage." Average pay for federal civilian workers, he finds, is nearly 80 thousand dollars; for people working in the private sector, less than 50 thousand. When he factors in benefits, the gap is even bigger. Average total compensation, including benefits, for federal civilian workers is 120 thousand dollars; for workers in the private sector, it's precisely half that, sixty thousand. That's a "federal worker compensation advantage" of a neat one hundred percent. Back in the year 2000 it was only 66 percent. Thanks a lot, Dubya. Quote from Chris — who, by the way, is the guy who coined a marvelous phrase to characterize the economy we are leaving to our descendants: "No Child Left a Dime." All right, here's the quote: "Members of Congress who have large numbers of federal workers in their districts relentlessly push for expanding federal worker compensation. Also, the Bush administration had little interest in fiscal restraint, and it usually got rolled by the federal unions. The result has been an increasingly overpaid elite of government workers, who are insulated from the economic reality of recessions and from the tough competitive climate of the private sector." End quote. For the n-th time, listeners: Tell your kids, first thing in the morning and last thing at night — GET A GOVERNMENT JOB! If you want to read the whole article, by the way, it's in the August 24th archive for cato-at-liberty.org. Read it and weep. Unless, of course, you work for the federal government.
04 — Jimmy Carter. Oh, Jimmy Carter. I have this nightmare that Jimmy Carter will one day pass away, as we all must, but that then, some weeks or months later, his shade will come back to haunt us, floating into TV studios to break in on some sensible discussion with his moralistic whining. I just find it hard to believe we shall ever be rid of this man. Well, some things you say once, then don't feel like working up a different way to say them all over again. So the rest of this segment is just a quote from a piece I wrote for National Review back in 2006, actually a review of one of Carter's books. It's a long quote, but it encapsulates what I have to say about the 39th President. Here you go.
As a foreign-born citizen, I have always felt a tad ashamed of my loathing for Jimmy Carter. He is, after all, a very American figure. No other nation but ours could have produced this particular combination of dogged industriousness, earnest religiosity, public spirit, and shameless self-promotion. In externals, there is even something admirable about the man. He served his country, in the military and in public life, very conscientiously. He practiced business with modest success. (I have never felt happy with Republican scoffing at Carter as "the peanut farmer." What is wrong with being a peanut farmer?) His rise to the highest levels of office was driven at least in part by an earnest desire to do right by his fellow citizens. He claims adherence to a studious and generous style of Christian belief. His private life has been spotless, his administration down at the low end of the corruption scale.
Very American. Yet it often happens that the purest breed of dog, with all the "points" perfectly developed, is sickly and ill-tempered in personality. So with Carter. Under stress, the industriousness collapsed into a futile busyness, the patriotism became inverted into bitter rage toward his country for not being what he wished her to be, the religiosity curdled into a narrow, spiteful self-righteousness. Probably Jimmy Carter was never a very nice person. "Humorless grind" was my own first impression of the man, when he showed up on the national stage. His exceptionally decisive rejection by the electorate in 1980 (with his own party controlling both houses of Congress before the election, Carter won only six states), the migration of his Evangelical flock away from theo-liberalism, and a quarter-century of brooding on those things have turned him into a very nasty piece of work indeed, a peevish liar filled with resentment against his country and those non-Carters she has stupidly chosen to elect.
Possibly there is an element of tragedy in Jimmy Carter's long fall. To engage with a tragedy, though, you must feel some initial warmth, some liking, for the principal character. Jimmy Carter is an awfully hard man to like.
05 — Healthcare for illegals. So … are illegals going to get health care at the expense of tax-paying citizens and lawful immigrants, or are they not? President Obama, in his big speech the other day, said not. South Carolina Representative Joe Wilson said Obama was lying. Well, was he? Basically, yes. As always with a slippery character like Obama though, you have to parse his words with utmost care, and compare what he says on nationwide TV to what he says in smaller, less-well-reported gatherings. In a health care speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Wednesday evening, the president said the following thing, quote: "Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken. That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else." End quote. Did you follow that? It's not easy. If you've tried reading Obama's autobiography, you'll recall how many times you had to go back and re-read a paragraph from the beginning to see what it meant. The stuff about the immigration system being broken is just open-borders cant. The immigration system would be fine if the federal government would enforce the people's laws. It is prevented from doing so by political pressure — pressure from cheap-labor lobbies and ethnic solidarity groups. What the president really means is: "No, I won't specify coverage for illegals, because if I get my druthers on immigration, there won't be any illegals. They'll all be legalized! Then what's the problem?" All God's chillun got wings, and all God's chillun have a perfect right to live legally in the U.S.A. As the signs at the open-borders rallies say: "Nobody is illegal." That's also the president's opinion. Since nobody is illegal, Obama can claim perfect truthfulness when he says illegals won't get healthcare. He can, and he will.
There's a footnote to all that. I'm glad Joe Wilson did what he did, and I didn't mind him doing it. Having grown up hearing members of parliament yelling at the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, and having read Gene Healy's fine book from last year, The Cult of the Presidency, I'm fine with seeing the President hear truth spoken to power. It should be noted, however, that Joe Wilson was one of 204 Republican Congresscritters who voted for George W. Bush's monstrous "Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003." That act quite explicitly, in Section 1011, provides federal subsidies for illegal aliens to get health care. So far as I know the only person to point this out has been Ilana Mercer at WorldNetDaily, and I urge you to read Ilana's September 18 column. It's titled "They all lie for someone," and I'm afraid that's all too true.
06 — ACORN. Poor old ACORN! They must be wondering what hit them. Until just a few days ago, ACORN was just as respectable as an organization can be. It's main line of business — shaking down guilty white liberals for cash — has been part of the American way for decades, heartily encouraged by the nation's political, academic, and media classes. Not just verbally encouraged, either: actual legislation has been passed to help ACORN do what it does. There is the Community Reinvestment Act, for example, first passed back in 1977 and amended, reauthorized, and improved many times since, intended to encourage banks to make loans to high-risk borrowers, which in practice means mostly minorities living in bad neighborhoods. Banks that didn't respond to the "encouragement" with sufficient alacrity found delegations from ACORN chanting in their lobbies and intimidating their customers. What could be more American than that? And, by forcing banks to make billions of dollars in "subprime" loans to people with poor credit records, the CRA and its ACORN enforcers did wonders for the U.S. economy, didn't they? I think we can all agree on that. As for respectability: Why, did not our president work at training ACORN staff in the 1990s? He sure did. More than that, Obama was funding them. In 1995, the Woods Fund, a charitable foundation in Chicago, substantially expanded its funding of ACORN. Obama was chairman of the committee that pushed for the increases. If you like Barack Obama, you gotta love ACORN. So how come this fine, charitable organization is suddenly out in the cold, even its federal funding cut off without so much as a by-your-leave? Well, ACORN got stung by a two-person hidden-camera team, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, posing as a pimp and a hooker, asking for advice on how to game the tax, immigration, housing, and employment laws. ACORN staffers gladly gave the advice, of course — that's what ACORN does. The poor old ACORN-ites don't know what hit them. The big talking point I've been hearing out here in the general public is, how inconceivably dumb the ACORN people were to be taken in by O'Keefe and Giles. O'Keefe looks about as much like a pimp as the chairman of your local squash rackets club. One of my friends remarked that O'Keefe, quote, "Just threw on a pimp stole over his Andover uniform." Giles got the hooker outfit approximately right, but her face doesn't have that left-out-in-the-rain look that a real hooker's face has. And where are her needle marks? Anyway, the sting worked, and O'Keefe and Giles have done magnificent service to their nation. We should put up statues to them somewhere. In Chicago, perhaps.
I have a footnote to this one, too. Having just mentioned all the wonderful economic consequences that flowed from the Community Reinvestment Act, the CRA, and its numerous amendments, and the nourishment it gave to shakedown groups like ACORN, I feel duty bound to draw your attention to a press release from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a sort of super-ACORN. Guess what: there's a new bill before the House titled "The Community Reinvestment Modernization Act of 2009." The aim of it is to expand the reach of the CRA from mere mortgages to small business loans and credit union loans. Apparently, forcing banks to lend more money to people who can't afford to pay it back, worked so well for America, we need to do more of it! Who's pushing this bill? Who do you think? Congressman Barney Frank, of course. Those whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first send a Barney Frank to legislate for them.
07 — Crimes. Crime round-up. For some reason, this has been a week for strange crime news. A 21-year-old student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore heard a noise one night behind the house he lives in. The student happened to possess a Japanese samurai sword. He grabbed it, went to investigate, and found himself face to face with a burglar, 49-year-old Donald Rice. The student did the obvious thing, with lethal effect. Police tell us that Rice, the burglar, had more than two dozen arrests for burglary, breaking and entering and auto theft. So it's fair to say that having lived by the crowbar, he died by the sword … leaving noncriminal citizens wondering why a guy with a rap sheet that long was out on the street at all. Then up in New Haven, Connecticut, a very famous university in that town lost a 24-year-old graduate student, Annie Le, to a peculiar crime — one for which, by latest reports, the police have evidence and a perp, but no motive. Lab technician Raymond Clark seems to have strangled Ms. Le and stuffed her body into a wall space, where it was found last Sunday, the day the young woman was scheduled to be married. Despite much speculation, and enough evidence to prompt an arrest, nobody can think of any reason why Clark would have done such a thing. He is perfectly normal, has no criminal record, lives in a stable relationship with a pretty girlfriend, and had only the slightest professional acquaintance with Ms. Le. "Work rage" is the best explanation commentators have been able to come up with. Our lives hang by a thread. Finally there was a young lady at Hofstra University here on Long Island, who claimed to have been raped by five men in a bathroom on campus. Four men were promptly arrested and held on stupendous levels of bail. Then one of the alleged perps produced a cellphone video of the entire event, showing that it was entirely consensual. Confronted with this, the young woman said: "Ha ha, I was just kidding," and told the peelers she'd thought up the rape story when her boyfriend heard about the bathroom tryst. This one leaves you wondering how many guys are in jail doing 25 to life for rape just because they didn't have a cellphone handy.
08 — Signoff. I'm afraid that's it for this week, ladies and gentlemen. Tune in again next week for more, on a full-service basis we hope, from Radio Derb. Over to you, Frankie.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]