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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. [Fast bimbo talk] … Er, OK, Brandy, I think we're on the air now. [Brandy: Whatever] Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sorry, our sound engineers brought us in a tad early there. I was just discussing some fine points of political science with one of my research assistants. Well, here we are again, heading into Christmas with Radio Derb. This is your seasonally genial host John Derbyshire with all the news of the hour, courtesy of National Review Online. Our splendid, state-of-the-art recording studio here on the 95th floor of Buckley Towers is all decked out with festive decorations — including, new this year, some balloons and lights for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha. Ahmed, our Muslim diversity hire, is still on leave of absence, attending to some urgent family business in north Pakistan, but his resident attorney Mr. Muhammed Muhammed al Muhammed, insisted on the Eid decorations, and we were of course happy to comply. Very happy. Very, very happy. Weren't we, girls? [Girls: Of course!] Right, on with the show.
02 — Govt. spend-a-thon. [Drunks clip] That was some actual drunken sailors. Here is the latest news on the fiscal front. On Wednesday the House of Representatives voted 218-214 to give the federal government the ability to borrow 290 billion dollars to finance its operations for just six additional weeks. That's about a thousand dollars per person in the U.S.A., men, women, and children. Next story: That very same House of Representatives, also on Wednesday, voted 217 to 212 to approve additional spending for shovel-ready construction projects, and more money to avoid layoffs of teachers, police and other public employees. So if you're an illegal immigrant looking for construction work, the government's got your back. Likewise if you're a government worker. The rest of us can go fish … after, of course, ponying up the 500 dollars per capita to fund that spending. Here's another spending story: President Barack Obama has signed into law a 1.1 trillion dollar bill that increases government budgets for health, law enforcement and veterans' programs by about 10 percent. Obama signed the bill privately at the White House on Wednesday, we learn. 1.1 trillion is about four thousand dollars a head. Get your checkbooks out, citizens. Uncle Sam needs your money. He'll spend it much more wisely than you could. What is he actually spending it on? Well, a lot of it's going to pay raises for government employees. Quote from USA Today, December 12, quote: "When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of 170,000 dollars or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above 170,000 dollars." End quote … but here's another one: "The growth in six-figure salaries has pushed the average federal worker's pay to 71,206 dollars, compared with 40,331 dollars in the private sector. We may have lost eight million jobs in the private sector, but up there in DC it's party time. [More drunks]
03 — Global warming fund. Course, not all that boodle is being shunted into the pockets of federal employees. No Sir; some of it's being put to good use. Our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, over there at the climate conference in Copenhagen [Danny Kaye clip] has signed us up to the Climate Protection Fund, budgeted at 100 billion dollars a year. The USA won't be paying the whole tab, but you can be sure we'll get stuck with the biggest part of it, just as we do with the U.N., and refugee programs, and every other one of these damn fool international initiatives. Meanwhile the Copenhagen talks themselves have got stuck. As revealed by Radio Derb last week, the whole climate-change business is fundamentally a shakedown of guilty liberals in rich countries by grievance-manipulators in poor ones. The problem here seems to be that too many not-so-poor countries like China and Brazil have joined the really poor ones in the shakedown. Western liberals are willing to hand over their cash — along with, of course, your cash and my cash — when they see pictures of starving kids in Ethiopia with big sad eyes and flies on their faces, but not so much when the person demanding the handout has an eight trillion DOLLAR gross domestic product and holds 800 billion dollars worth of your Treasury securities. The earth's climate itself added to the general air of anticlimax, dumping four inches of snow on Copenhagen Wednesday night. This is pretty unusual. Copenhagen hasn't had a white Christmas for 14 years, and only had seven in the whole 20th century. But, as we all know by now, global warming means a lot of global cooling. In related news, Oceania is at war with Eastasia. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.
04 — Healthcare bill. No matter how much of our money the federal government spends, it won't bankrupt the U.S.A. What will bankrupt the U.S.A. would be if Congress fails to pass health care reform. So, at least, the President told an interviewer on ABC News. If the healthcare reform package isn't passed, the president told Charles Gibson, healthcare costs are going to consume the entire federal budget. Hmm. I have a couple of issues with that statement, one philosophical, one mathematical. The philosophical issue is that the president's claim violates a fundamental law of nature: the one that says things that can't happen, won't. The mathematical issue is that since the federal budget is expanding so fast, it's going to be hard for expanding healthcare costs to catch up. Leaving those objections aside, where are the prospects for the healthcare legislation? Up in the air, that's where. The big news this week has been the flight of the lefties. [Flight of the bumblebee clip] Yeah, I know, that's the Flight of the Bumblebee, I couldn't find a clip callled Flight of the Lefties. Here's one of them, Howard Dean. [Dean scream] That's the guy. In a Washington Post Op-Ed Thursday, Deano spoke up for … whadda they call themselves? oh yes — progressives. Quote from him: "I know health reform when I see it, and there isn't much left in the Senate bill," end quote. Speaking as one lapsed Anglican to another, Deano, I know a leftie poseur when I see one. Deano's home state of Vermont is crawling with them. Here's another one: Bernie Sanders, Vermont's junior Senator, who's so far left he doesn't even bother to say "progressive," declaring himself frankly to be a socialist. Bernie took time out from polishing his collection of KGB belt buckles to tell journalists, quote, "As of this point, I'm not voting for the bill." Cannon to right of them, cannon to left of them, on into the valley of death rode Harry Reid and his valiant Light Brigade. [Clip of Charles Collingwood reading poem]
05 — Kevin Jennings. People, even the kind of thoughtful, cultured, well-informed, and perfectly-proportioned people who listen to Radio Derb, don't realize how many wild and woolly characters from the remote caves and gullies of the far, far, far left have been appointed to senior positions by Barack Obama. To mention a few at random: Regulatory Czar and media "Fairness Doctrine" advocate Cass Sunstein; Labor Policy Czar William Spriggs, who once expressed his disappointment that black immigrants don't feel sufficiently victimized; Science Czar John Holdren, who wants government mandated family sizes and the "de-development" of the United States; Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowski, whose career as Seattle police chief was crowned by a vote of confidence in him among Seattle police officers, in which 90 percent of the officers voted no. Tootsie Roll fortune heiress Karen Mills, appointed to run the Small Business Administration in spite of the fact that her own numerous attempts at running a business were all swift and comprehensive failures. What a menagerie! Ward Churchill, Louis Farrakhan, and Squeaky Fromme must be wondering why they were passed over. Well, here's another horse from the same stable: Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings. Did you know that the U.S. government has Safe Schools Czar? I didn't either. See, the Federal Department of Education, the Jimmy Carter administration's gift to posterity, goes from strength to strength, hiring more bureaucrats, opening more sub-departments, expanding its power and authority through countless offshoots. Among this demon spawn is one named the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. That office naturally needs a Secretary: hence the Safe Schools Czar. The person actually holding the title of Czar is the aforementioned Kevin Jennings, appointed in May by President Obama. What is Czar Jennings' notion of a safe school? Give you a clue. Before rising to high office, Jennings had devoted himself to an organization he had founded, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). The mission of GLSEN, to put it in a nutshell, is to teach public-school children that gay is just as good as straight. They send activists into schools to show the kids how to perform homosexual acts. That's not an exaggeration, it's what they do. They also push a recommended reading list of books they want K-to-12 kids to read. Reporters have been looking into some of those books. They are, again to put it in a nutshell, homosexual pornography, with graphic accounts of every kind of homosexual encounter, and very little else. These books are recommended for readers in the 7th to 12th grades. The GLSEN folk seem particularly keen to promote an activity so disgusting as to be unmentionable on a family radio show, but described in John Heidenry's 1997 book about the sexual revolution, title What Wild Ecstasy, as, quote, "the first original sex practice in centuries." So now you know what the Obama administration's definition of a safe school is. It's a school where adult homosexuals can safely proselytize buggery to 7th graders.
06 — NAFTA at 15. Remember NAFTA? It's 15 years old this year. On January 1st this year to be precise, but studies covering the first 15 years have just come out. Here's one from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The title of the study is: "Rethinking Trade Policy for Development: Lessons From Mexico Under NAFTA." So what do the Carnegie eggheads tell us? What has NAFTA done for Mexico? Precious little, apparently, in fact possibly less than nothing. Mexico's trade balance in 1994 was negative four percent of GDP. Before last year's crash it was even lower than that; and now of course it's lower still, around negative seven percent. Manufacturing employment was pretty much flat across the entire period to last year's crash, and now it's below 1994 levels — more of a problem than it sounds, as around a million Mexicans enter the labor force every year, and agriculture has shed over two million jobs in the period. NAFTA was supposed to help close the wage gap between Mexico and the U.S.A. Instead the gap has actually widened, from a ratio of 5.6 in 1993 to 5.8 in 2007. Quote from the report's executive summary, quote: "The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that Mexico's reforms, backed by NAFTA, have largely been a disappointment for the country." The premise of NAFTA, as of all trade-liberalizing policies, is that if obstacles to free trade and migration are removed, there is no reason why one country shouldn't do just as well as another. Wellnigh every economist in the world believes this theory. Well, the theory just had a 15-year field test right here in North America. Guess what: it's wrong. Now, of course, all the economists will abandon the theory. They will go back to their models and their databases and work up a new theory. That's what they'll do, isn't it? Of course it is. [Laugh]
07 — Arithmetic on the frontier. Every conservative should memorize Rudyard Kipling's poem "Arithmetic on the Frontier." The frontier in question is the northwest Indian frontier, the same place where we are now fighting against the Taliban. Kipling compares the relative cost of educating, training, and supporting a British soldier, compared with the cost of a local Muslim guerilla. Here's a sample. The word "jezail" that you're going to hear is a kind of musket favored by 19th-century Afghan fighters. The rupee is the Indian currency; ten rupees was worth three or four dollars in Kipling's time. Here we go.
A great and glorious thing it is
To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this,
Ere reckoned fit to face the foe —
The flying bullet down the Pass,
That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."
A scrimmage in a Border Station —
A canter down some dark defile —
Two thousand pounds of education —
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail …
With that in mind, let us compare the cost of a Taliban fighter with the cost of a NATO soldier. The C.I.A. has the numbers. They estimate that Taliban leaders and their associates had received $106 million in the past year from donors outside Afghanistan, with private citizens from Pakistan, Iran, and Arab nations being the largest individual contributors. On top of that, the Taliban make a lot of money from trafficking in opium, though estimates of how much vary widely, from 70 to 400 million dollars a year. Let's take the higher number to be fair. Taliban total income is then about 500 million dollars a year. There are about twelve thousand active Taliban fighters, so the cost per fighter is a maximum 40 thousand dollars a year. The United States has spent 234 billion dollars on the war over nine years, 26 billion a year. Divide that by our current 68 thousand personnel in field, it comes to nearly 400 thousand dollars a year. Bottom line: even in you don't factor in the expensive training and education, a NATO fighter costs at least ten times as much as a Talibani. There you are: arithmetic on the frontier, brought up to date. Of course, spending ten times as much per fighter, we're bound to win, right? Well, we should hope so. I think the Afghan war is stupid and pointless. As a patriot, though, I don't want to see my country lose a war, even a stupid and pointless one. Which was pretty much Kipling's position, as it happens. So back to Kipling. What did he think? Quote from the poem:
Strike hard who cares — shoot straight who can —
The odds are on the cheaper man.
08 — Doomed. Yet another in our readings from this year's Christmas blockbuster bestseller, We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism. Here we are in Chapter 9, where the subject is war. I have just got through a brief discussion of President George W. Bush's Second Inaugural address, the one with all those grandiose assertions about, quote, "ending tyranny in our world." I continue thus:
For anything equivalent to the wilder assertions in Bush's second inaugural, you have to go back not just to times of real war (or cold war) with real nations, but to liberal and "progressive" presidents fighting those wars. Woodrow Wilson told Congress in January, 1918 that: "The people of the United States … are ready to devote their lives, their honor, and everything that they possess" to vindicate "the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities." John F. Kennedy declared in his own inaugural that: "[W]e shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
Bush seemed to be dimly aware of the problem. After every proclamation of intent to "end tyranny," or to liberate Muslim women from "humiliation and servitude," there was a little escape clause. That ultimate goal of ending tyranny "is the concentrated work of generations." Phew! — so we don't have to get on it, like, right now. That call of freedom? "Liberty will come to those who love it." Oh, it's a sort of God-helps-those-who-help-themselves deal, so we may not have to do the heavy lifting after all. Liberating those gals from their burkas? "[W]hen the soul of a nation finally speaks, the institutions that arise may reflect customs and traditions very different from our own." Best not cut up those burkas for halter tops just yet, ladies.
That second inaugural showed that the president regarded foreign policy as another aspect of the principle he had offered us here at home: "compassionate conservatism," which my National Review colleague John O'Sullivan correctly tagged as "less a political philosophy than a romantic cult of sensibility."
I think even that is making too much of it. While "compassionate conservatism" began its life as a kind of orthodox-Catholic response to leftist Liberation Theology, as practiced by the Bush administration it was really just an outgrowth of Boomer hedonism. If it feels good, do it! And: If it sounds good, say it! Rational calculation of the national interest was barely present. The driving force here was feelings, wo wo wo feelings.
09 — Miscellany. And now, our traditional miscellany of brief items.
Item: A Mexican drug boss was killed in a shootout when his apartment building was raided by two hundred sailors of the Mexican Navy. This was in Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City, on Wednesday. Always good to see a gangster get his ticket punched, but the thing that caught my eye there was that the deed was done by the Mexican Navy. Who knew Mexico had a Navy? Not me. Well, things must be looking up down there. Next thing you know, they'll have an economy.
Item: Sylvio Berlusconi, said to be Tiger Woods' favorite Italian politician, was attacked by a lunatic in Milan. The lunatic whacked Berlusconi in the face with a small model of the local cathedral. Milan's cathedral is one of the spikier ones, so this must have hurt. Still, Sylvio should count his blessings. It might have been a Muslim fanatic with a model of a local mosque — the kind with lots of minarets. Not a thing the Swiss Prime Minister has to worry about, though.
Item: Annise Parker was elected Mayor of Houston, the first openly lesbian person to attain the office. The deeper lesson of the vote is not that Houstonians want a lesbian mayor, but that Houstonians couldn't care less who gets to be mayor: only 16 percent of the electorate turned out to vote. Radio Derb extends congratulations to Ms. Parker. We shall do our best to dispel some of the rumors that are flying around: for example, that city employees will now have to come to work by motorbike, that softball will be the city's official sport, and so on. False. all of them.
Item: Two stories this week on the continuing ethnic disaggregation of the United States, the process that will break up our country at last. The legislature and judiciary are of course fully on board with it, so that should speed things up. On the legislative front, the Akaka Bill has passed out of Senate committee and will go to the full House and Senate for votes. This is the bill that establishes Hawaiians as a legally recognized race, with race-based privileges and immunities. If Hawaiians can attain this status in federal law, I see no reason in logic or jurisprudence why other races should not: the Hmong, perhaps, or Irish-Americans, or Latinos. The bill has, it goes without saying, the whole-hearted support of President Obama.
Item: The grain of sand in the oyster here, the original sin from which all this granting of racial privileges will flow, is the recognition of American Indian tribes as self-governing nations. Really, the Hawaiians are just being made honorary Indians, as the Hmong, the Latinos, and other racial subgroups soon will be … though I suspect we British-Americans will be way at the end of the line. The lunacy of treating Indians as a separate, privileged class of citizens based on their race, went a step further here on Long Island last week, when the Shinnecock Indian tribe out on the east of the island were told they could apply for federal recognition. The 1,000 members of the tribe live on 800 acres — one and a quarter square miles — out by Southampton, where all the celebrities have their summer houses. The tribe claims great swathes of land out there, and plan to open casinos, this apparently being the only form of enterprise at which Native Americans can excel. The first thing — not the only thing, but the first thing — that Long Islanders will tell you about the Shinnecock is that their Indian heritage is highly theoretical. They are, in fact, mostly African American. Google up a picture of Randy King, the Shinnecock tribal chairman. He's blacker than Barack Obama. This business of tribes is a racket on at least seventeen different levels. How about we just all become citizens, with equal rights under the law? What a quaint idea!
Item: Finally, a new wrinkle on the diversity front. I know that Radio Derb listeners celebrate diversity and are keenly aware of the immeasurable pain and suffering caused by insufficient sensitivity to those differences that divide us. I mean, unite us. I mean … oh, whatever. Anyway, here's a new sin to bear in mind next time you go into the confessional at your local Temple of Diversity: gingerism. Tesco's, a supermarket chain in Britain (and a former employer of mine) sells a line of jokey Christmas cards for kids. One of them pokes fun at red-heads, with the message, quote: "Santa loves all kids, even ginger ones." This ignited the wrath of Davinia Phillips, who lives in York — old York, not New York — and is the mother of three red-headed children. She lodged a complaint with the authorities against what she calls "gingerism." Quote from her: "Maybe I'm just being naïve but they shouldn't be able to make fun of ginger children like that." No, you're not being naïve, Mrs. Phillips, you're just being the kind of hypersensitive, narcissistic, hysterical nitwit that modern Western society expects you to be. Tesco has now withdrawn the offending card and senior executives of the firm are walking in solemn procession through the streets of York, flagellating themselves and being spat on by passers-by for their shameful gingerism. One newspaper columnist over there referred to Mrs. Phillips as a "ginger whinger." Fortunately the authorities were alerted before this mean-spirited bigot could do further damage to the fabric of society, and he has been hustled off to a re-education camp in the Shetland Islands. Diversity is our strength!
10 — Signoff. Well, there you are, citizens. And when I say "citizens," I of course mean no disrespect whatsoever to resident noncitizens, diplomatic or consular officers, temporary visitors, aliens in transit, maritime crewmembers, persons of extraordinary artistic, scientific, athletic, or entertainment ability, treaty investors, holders of student visas, accredited representatives of international organizations, spouses, children, fiancés, attendants, servants, or personal employees of the aforementioned, or our brothers and sisters in the undocumented community. We are especially sensitive to that last category, aren't we, Pépé [Pépé talking] Yes, diversity-wise, I think we are covered here, or at least we shall be when Ahmed returns from that trip to Pakistan. Let's hope he gets back in time to celebrate Holiday with us.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]