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[Music clip: Clip of schoolkids singing "Hooray, Mister President …"]
01 — Intro. Yes, folks, that was the Obama Youth Choir of Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, New Jersey, expressing their joyful gratitude to our Dear Leader, President Obama, for all the many blessings he has bestowed on us. Is there anything sweeter than the sound of little children's voices raised in song to our Community Organizer in Chief? Of course there isn't … except possibly the sound of Radio Derb bringing you the news of the hour. And let me hasten to add that I mean no disrespect to the President when saying that. I don't want to get our FCC license pulled. Well, listeners, this is your sycophantically genial host John Derbyshire here again with another broadcast from National Review's lavishly-equipped, state-of-the-art recording studio up here on the 95th floor of Buckley Towers, in the heart of Manhattan. There are of course no windows in a recording studio, but Jonah's office up there on 97 has a 75-foot picture window looking East across Manhattan to the United Nations building. We were all up there on Wednesday, looking out in awed anticipation as the President's motorcade arrived for his big U.N. speech. What did he tell them?
02 — Bam at U.N. The Democratic politician William McAdoo once described President Warren Harding's typical speech as, quote, "an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea." The typical Barack Obama speech deploys that same army of pompous clichés; but in Obama's case the army is not so much in search of an idea, as in search of someone to surrender to. The United Nations is of course just the place to go to if surrender's on your mind. So there was Obama up on the podium, gazing out at the U.N. General Assembly — a hall full of despots, time-servers, murderers, drunks, lunatics, clowns, child-molestors, and European hacks whose lives reached a zenith when they were elected chairperson of their college student union council. What the world needs now, Obama told them, is love sweet love — to be exact, quote, "a new era of engagement." There needs to be, he told them, quote, "a global response to global challenges." The General Assembly drones loved it because they knew exactly what it will all mean in practice: more U.S. taxpayer money into their expense accounts, more busybody U.N. agencies set up to mind other people's business, more make-work jobs with yet more fat expense accounts for their wive's cousins with their worthless degrees from Ouagadougou College of Shaking Down Guilty Western Liberals. Productive work doing useful things didn't figure in Obama's speech because it doesn't figure in his worldview, any more than it does in his résumé. What does figure in his worldview is shuffling around from one conference of expense-account world-improvers to another, with a retinue of yes-men in tow. And yes-women, too, of course — let's not be sexist here, and let's give proper credit to Mrs. Clinton, who was watching the speech with a face like Lucrezia Borgia wondering if she would ever get the chance to slip something into Obama's water jug. I shouldn't be too dismissive here, though. Our President went to the U.N. with a program, a plan of action. What was it? Let's take a look.
03 — Bam's Four Pillars. Here's the key portion of the President's speech, quote: "Today, let me put forward four pillars that I believe are fundamental to the future that we want for our children." OK, Mr. President. I'm just going to pause a moment to note the rhetorical confusion there. Pillars aren't things you put forward, they are things you erect. Nor can pillars be "fundamental," since a fundamental thing is a thing that lies at the bottom of some arrangement — from Latin fundus, fundi, "the bottom or base of anything," according to Cassell's New Latin Dictionary, which of course is always at my elbow or cubitum. Pillars in fact not only can't be fundamental, they need something fundamental to stand on — a plinth, pedestal, or socle — otherwise they are liable to tilt off from the vertical and eventually topple, causing whatever it is they are supporting to come crashing down in ruins. Am I being too pedantic? I'm sorry. Let's press on. What are these four pillars the President wants to put forward? Pillar number one: "non-proliferation and disarmament." All the nations of the world will join together to get rid of nuclear weapons. Well, that should be easy. I'm sorry to be irreverent, but it reminded me of Tom Sawyer in church, when the preacher talks about the lion and the lamb lying down together at the millennium and a little child leading them, and Tom thought to himself that he wished he could be that child, if it was a tame lion. On to pillar number two, quote: "the promotion of peace and security." Oh, thank goodness! — at last the U.S.A. has a president who wants to promote peace and security! After all those previous presidents who struggled so hard to promote war and danger! What's the third pillar? Quote: "the preservation of our planet" … which, you know, will drop into the Sun and be burned to a crisp if we don't set up a whole new raft of expense-account junkets for U.N. assistant deputy administrative assistant secretaries right now! And then the fourth pillar — here it comes, the president is pushing it forward — mind it doesn't topple over, Mr. President: quote, "a global economy that advances opportunity for all people." Well, what more could you want than that? With visions of endless jaunts to Geneva, Durban, and Kuala Lumpur dancing in their heads, and limitless job opportunities for their relatives, friends, mistresses, and catamites, and an infinity of treaties to be negotiated, resolutions to be hammered out, conferences to be organized, communiqués to be issued — with the joyful spectacle of all this international bureaucratic make-work spooling across their minds' eyes, the assembled representatives of all the world's nations rose as one to give the president a standing ovation. The applause was so loud, it drowned out the grinding of Mrs. Clinton's teeth. Meanwhile, what does it all mean for you and me, Mr. and Mrs. Average American Citizen? What do you think? Get yer checkbook out.
04 — Loonies. Well, if T.E. Lawrence could have his Seven Pillars of Wisdom, I guess Barack Obama's entitled to his Four Pillars of Internationalism. But now, what happens if some obstreperous nation, wilfully heedless of the noble sentiments expressed by our President, sees nothing in the Four Pillars of Obamaism for them, and decides to give the finger to our president's "new era of engagement"? What would happen to such a nation? The President is not shy to tell us. Quote: "Those nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences," end quote. Can't you just hear Kim Jong Il and Li'l Squinty Ahmadinejad scurrying for their bunkers? Well, Kim maybe, but Squinty was right there in the audience in Halitosis Hall, nodding along with the President's speech, which was being simultaneously translated into crazy-midget language for him. Later Squinty gave a speech himself, boasting of his country's, quote, "glorious and fully democratic elections," and pledging Iran's unswerving cooperation with all U.N. initiatives to cure strabismus, ban neckties, discourage daily shaving, and kill Jews. Squinty sounded almost sane by comparison with what had gone before, though. Right in between Obama and the Squintster came Colonel Gaddafi, President-for-Life of something called the Libyan Arab Jambalaya. Gaddafy, now in his 41st year as Libyan dictator, has not aged well. He used to dress quite sharply, favoring designer shades and crisp white military outfits with lots of gold braid, though to the best of my knowledge Gaddafy has never fought anything worse than an attack of shingles. Well, here he was at the U.N. on Wednesday in a Snuggy, and wearing something on his head from the Jackie Onassis line of pillbox hats, and wearing no shades at all, so that the whole world could see he had eyes like one of the meaner species of large cat on heroin. Since Gaddafy is known to have ordered the murder of 190 Americans and 80 other persons in the 1988 Lockerbie bombings, it's remarkable that he was permitted to enter the United States at all. His being allowed to set foot in our country, though, illustrates the problem with Obama's gaseous rhetoric about how, quote, "nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences." What consequences has Gaddafy ever faced for his serial acts of murder and terrorism? What consequences will he ever face? The British are fawning on him, sending one of his terrorists back home to the Jambalaya for a hero's welcome, so they can get oil and construction contracts from Gaddafy's government. If Obama can't stop Gordon Brown from driving an eight-inch spike through all his blather about "obligations" and "consequences," how will he stop Vladimir Putin, or Hugo Chávez, or Hu Jintao, or Robert Mugabe? He won't, of course. He can't. The man can't do anything but talk, and even then he gets his metaphors tangled. The world is what it is, and it will never be anything else. In the memorable words of George Orwell: "If someone drops a bomb on your mother, go and drop two bombs on his mother." That's how things work, Mr. President. Gaddafy and Squinty understand it, and you don't. That's why they are laughing up their sleeves at you and your stupid bombastic empty speechifying and your Four Pillars of Anti-Americanism.
05 — Mexicans want to come here. Here's a new report from the Pew Research center. They did a survey in Mexico, asking Mexicans if they would like to move to the U.S.A. Thirty-three percent of respondents said "yes." Eighteen percent said they'd move here even without proper documentation. Nearly 40 percent said they had relatives or close friends in the U.S.A. OK: the population of Mexico is about 112 million. Thirty-three percent of that is 37 million. That's how many Mexicans want to come live here today. Meanwhile, Mexico's oil production is falling off a cliff. Output from the Cantarell field, Mexico's biggest, has dropped 75 percent in four years. The Chicontepec field in eastern Mexico is not living up to expectations; in fact it's a bit of a bust. Mexico was our second biggest supplier of oil in 2007; by 2015 she will be supplying us with nada — may even be a net oil importer. Put it another way, Mexico's heading for a major economic catastrophe. So that 37 million Mexicans who want to come here will be 70 or 80 million in an election cycle or two. Seventy or 80 million desperate, ill-educated people, from a nation with zero civilizational achievement and zero history of stable, un-corrupt government. Can someone please explain to me why we are not building a hundred-foot-high wall along the border, patrolled by armed guards day and night?
06 — Afghan terrorist charged. I guess I haven't been shy about my opposition to the war in Afghanistan, which I think is perfectly pointless. One of my secondary talking points has been that no Afghan ever did anything to an American on American soil, so that it's hard to see why we have any more of a beef with Afghanistan than we have with, say, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt, or Yemen, whose nationals have committed terrorist acts on our soil — or for that matter with Britain, three of whose native-born nationals were convicted the other week for plotting to blow up American passenger planes. I'm going to emphasize that this has been a secondary talking point — I don't rest my entire case on it. Well, I've lost that particular talking point, thanks to 24-year-old Najibullah Zazi. Mr. Zazi, a legal immigrant from Afghanistan, worked as a shuttle bus driver for the airport in Denver, Colorado. Why the U.S.A. needs to grant settlement rights in our country to foreigners whose skills are limited to bus-driving, is a question I'll leave you to discuss among yourselves. It must be one of those jobs Americans won't do, I guess, even in a recession with unemployment at ten percent. Anyway, Mr. Zazi was indicted by a grand jury this week on charges of plotting with others to blow up passenger planes with bombs made from beauty-care products, a skill Mr. Zazi apparently acquired at an Al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. (So I guess there's more to Mr. Zazi's skill set than just bus driving, and I owe the immigration authorities an apology.) Two other men were arrested with Zazi, one of them his father, the other an imam at a local mosque. Both have been released, the clerical gent on a $1.5m bond. We know there are other suspects in the case, but their names haven't been made public. Perhaps if we were to squirt some water up Mr. Zazi's nose, he'd give us still more names — but of course that would be wrong. Anyway, there obviously are Afghans willing to commit terrorist acts on U.S. soil. Not very surprising, I suppose, since Afghanistan is chock-a-block with crazy Islamists, but a blow to my usual Afghanistan talking points, none the less. The Zazi case does suggest, though, that perhaps we should stop allowing foreigners from nations riddled with crazy Islamists from settling in our country, and ask those currently settled here from such nations, to leave. That would be even more wrong, though, since as is well known, everybody in the world has a perfect right to settle in the U.S.A., and to discriminate against prospective immigrants on any grounds at all would be unspeakably vile, and a total betrayal of our history and traditions, and barely distinguishable from burning a cross on someone's lawn. So when we get bored with the war in Afghanistan, or just run out of money to pay for it in devaluing dollars, we shall guiltily allow a couple of million Mr. Zazis to settle here. Then, a year or so later, when Pakistan goes belly up, we'll take in twenty or thirty million Mr. Zazis from there, too. Why wouldn't we? It will be only fair; and the U.S.A., as everyone knows, is suffering from a dire, crippling shortage of airport shuttle bus drivers. They'll be so grateful to us. What could possibly go wrong?
07 — McChrystal's report. Meanwhile, how are things going in Afghanistan itself? Not well, according to our top commander there, General Stanley McChrystal. As reported by Radio Derb, the August 20 election in Afghanistan, which returned President Karzai to office, was so crooked no self-respecting corkscrew would shake hands with it. That's pretty standard for a Third World rat-hole like Afghanistan, racked with tribal conflict and with large regions controlled by drug lords, but it doesn't show much for eight years of patient nation-building efforts by two American administrations. Perhaps another eight years will do the trick; or eighteen, or eighty. Who knows? For sure, nobody in the administration is in a hurry to hear what General McChrystal has to tell them. They are actually boasting of not being in a hurry. Presidential spokesman Geoff Morrell told us on Wednesday that administration discussions on Afghanistan were awaiting the return of Obama and other senior officials from the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York and then from the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh this week. Quote from Mr. Morrell, who paused to yawn, scratch his backside, and take a couple of cell phone calls while speaking, quote: "Once the President gets back to town the discussions will resume in earnest … but without rushing it," end quote. Well, heavens, we wouldn't want to rush it, would we? So in his own sweet time, the president will review General McChrystal's request for more resources, right? No, no, nothing as hasty as that! What the administration will be reviewing, after all that far more important work the president is doing giving speeches to U.N. seat-polishers, will be the outline assessment of the Afghanistan situation that General McChrystal sent to Washington four weeks ago. But what about the General's actual request for more resources? Well, McChrystal has been told to hold off on delivering that until he's asked for it. When the Washington Post asked this presidential spokes-sluggard why it even makes sense for McChrystal to send a resource request based on a strategy that the President can't make up his mind about, Morrell said the following thing, quote: "Any adjustments in the strategy may require adjustments made in terms of what's required to achieve the mission," end quote. Did you get that? I'll give it to you one more time, pay close attention now: "Any adjustments in the strategy may require adjustments made in terms of what's required to achieve the mission." I think that translates as: "We know we have to wee-wee or get off the pot, but we'd really rather not think about it today. We'll think about it tomorrow." You know, it's bad enough for a patriot to watch his country fight a pointless war, to watch our men being killed and maimed to no purpose, and our national treasure filched away by camel-jockey scam artists backed by drug traffickers. You would at least, though, think that our government might show a flicker of interest in the situation. I guess making long-winded speeches about collective responsibility to a hall full of clowns and gangsters is just more fun.
08 — NY state broke. California today, New York State tomorrow. Our Governor, Dave Paterson, warned us this week that the Empire State will soon have to start paying its bills with beaver pelts. The recession has bitten deeply into state revenues; but of course its effect on state expenditures has been to increase them. Less money coming in, more money going out, and pretty soon you're looking at a triple-Z bond rating — which increases your costs even more, as you have to offer a better coupon before anyone will buy your wretched bonds. The solution would be to cut state spending. If Paterson could persuade his legislature to do that, the beaver-pelt scenario might be avoided. Cutting state spending is unfortunately not a thing New York's legislators do, even at the best of times; and this is not the best of times, as Governor Paterson's chances of persuading state legislators to do anything at all unfortunately went swirling down the toilet last week when Barack Obama endorsed Paterson's competitor for next year's Democratic gubernatorial primary, the reptilian Andrew Cuomo. So our Governor is a lame duck thanks to our President; our state legislature will continue to spend and spend; the state's bond rating will drop through the floor and proceed on downwards all the way to the Earth's core, sleazeball liberal interest-group-whore Andrew Cuomo will get his cold, scaly hands on the levers of state government, Obama will have thrown another pal under the bus, and I'll be calling U-Haul and looking at the property pages for North Dakota. My advice to New York State beavers at this point would be, to get as deep in the woods as you can.
09 — Miscellany. Here comes the traditional Radio Derb miscellany of short items.
Item: Let me just develop that last item a little further: California today, New York state tomorrow, the U.S.A. the day after. Super-investor Julian Robertson, one of the inventors of the hedge fund concept, and currently toting a net worth of about a billion and a half, gave an interview to CNBC. Quote from him: "It's almost Armageddon if the Japanese and Chinese don't buy our debt. I don't know where we could get the money. I think we've let ourselves get in a terrible situation and I think we ought to try and get out of it." End quote. He added that we have to quit spending, start saving, and scale down the federal establishment. Oh, yeah, we'll do all those things, real soon now. I wonder if the Chinese will take beaver pelts?
Item: A little historical pop quiz here: Who was the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire? Give up? Well, it was a chap named Mehmet the Sixth, deposed in 1922 at the age of 61 when the Turkish Republic abolished the monarchy. Poor Mehmet was carried away to exile on a British warship, and died four years later. That wasn't quite the end of the Ottomans, though. How could it be, since they all had several wives and lots of kids? If the Sultanate had continued down to the present day, the Sultan up to this Wednesday would have been Ertugrul Osman. On Wednesday Mr. Osman died at age 97, last surviving grandson of the Red Sultan, Abdul-Hamid the Second, who as I'm sure you know was deposed in 1909. Osman had lived a colorless life, at any rate by comparison with his illustrious ancestors. The last 54 years of it were spent in a two-bedroom apartment over a restaurant on Lexington Avenue here in New York City. The apartment is rent-controlled at $350 a month, so that while fans of the Ottoman Empire may be mourning Mr. Osman's death, his landlord is likely throwing a celebration party.
Item: My own sweet princess is now coming up to 17 years old, way past the stage of playing with dolls. I don't know what she is playing with, and I'm afraid to ask. Anyway, if your little girl still is playing with dolls, you probably know about the "American Girl" line. American Girl is a whole family of dolls made by toy company Mattel and targeted at the pre-pre-teen set. Well, Mattel have just added a new doll to the line: Homeless American Girl. In the little biography booklet that comes with the doll, your tot will learn that Gwen — that's the doll's name, Gwen — Gwen and her Mom were abandoned by Dad. They lost their home and had to sleep in Mom's car. Well, I guess a child is never too young to learn that men are feckless beasts, women are helpless pawns, and toy companies are just as addled with political correctness as all the other institutions of our society.
Item: The day after Obama and Gaddafy addressed the U.N. General Assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez showed up to do the same. With that scintillating wit for which socialist dictators are so well known, Chávez said that the, quote, "smell of sulfur" around the podium had been replaced by "the smell of hope." That was an allusion to a previous appearance the dapper despot had made to the U.N. three years ago during George W. Bush's presidency, right after Bush himself had given a speech. At that time Chávez had said Bush was Satan and the podium smelled of sulfur. Well, "It doesn't smell of sulfur here anymore," Chávez said Thursday. I'd just take another sniff there, Hugo, before you draw conclusions. British newspapers tell us that when Tony Blair showed up at Gaddafy's tent in Libya to try to wheedle some favors out of him, Gaddafy showed his contempt for Tony by loudly breaking wind. Now Gaddafy was up on that podium for 96 minutes Wednesday, Hugo. So what you're sniffing there, even if it's not precisely sulfur, might not be precisely hope, either.
Item: A report here from the U.N.: Poor rainfall in the horn of Africa is exposing millions to hunger. The U.N. says its World Food Program is having trouble getting food to hungry people in Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. Wow — we'd better step up our contributions to the U.N. Before we do, though, we might take note of the fact that total fertility rates in those five countries I just named, according to the CIA World Factbook, are 4.6, 6.5, 4.7, 5.1, and 6.1. So feeding these people will ensure the survival of tens of millions of women so they can have average five or six children in their reproductive lifetimes. And who will feed those huge new populations twenty or thirty years from now? That, you're not supposed to ask, in fact it's shamefully mean-spirited of me to raise the issue. Just get your checkbook out again.
Item: Sarah Palin went to Hong Kong and made a serious, thoughtful, and well-received speech to a conference of bankers and investors. It might have been more entertaining if Obama had spoken to the bankers while Sarah addressed the U.N. … However, bankers and investors don't care for gassy rhetoric from an empty suit who knows squat about capitalism, and U.N. delegates wouldn't take seriously a person who struggled along for years with no expense account at all, so this probably wouldn't work out.
Item: A cop in Pennsylvania has been charged with sexually violating a cow. In somewhat related news, spaced-out hippie junkie Mackenzie Phillips accused her spaced out hippie junkie Dad, John Phillips, one of the Papas in the old Mamas and Papas group, of sexually violating her when she was 19, the night before she was supposed to get married. Asked for a comment, John Phillips mumbled, quote, "Far out, Man." Mackenzie's stepmother, Michelle Phillips, who was another one of the Mamas and Papas, said she thought Mackenzie was lying. Those of us old enough to remember the lyrics of Mamas and Papas songs, and old enough also to remember Michelle as the hottest babe alive in 1967, wept quietly into our Metamucil.
Item: What else has been in the news? Oh yes, something or other happened in Honduras. Which is somewhere down there past Mexico. Whatever it was that happened, I bet it was real important … if, you know, you're a Honduranian.
10 — Signoff. That's it, folks. Now comes the happiest time of the week, when I head back to my office for a rubdown from Pépé and then drinks and backgammon in the grotto with Jonah and the girls. You ready there, Pépé? [Sí, Señor] OK, I'll be right there. Just peel me a grape while you're waiting, there's a good fellow. Thanks for tuning in, listeners. More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]