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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Wow, look out the window there, Ahmed. Did you ever see a blizzard like that back in Waziristan? [Ahmed: Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.] Exactly … Oh, we're on the air. Greetings, listeners. This is your meteorologically genial host John Derbyshire with yet another session of Radio Derb, Long Island's answer to Al Jazeera. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays my dedicated staff of researchers and technicians from laboring to uncover the stories behind the headlines. Here are the fruits of their labors.
02 — Tea Party (1): Tom Tancredo. The Tea Party convention came and went. Tom Tancredo thanked God that John McCain lost the 2008 election. If McCain had won, said Tom, the USA would have continued the long drift to the left that started 80 years ago. Instead we got Barack Obama, and the Tea Partiers in reaction to him. Tom's basically saying: "The worse, the better." I don't know about that. "The worse, the better" is one of those things that works, except when it doesn't. When it doesn't work, a different rule kicks in: "The worse, the worse." We went from five percent illegitimacy rates to twenty-five percent, from one million illegal immigrants to twelve million, from workers protecting themselves against exploitation to the SEIU bossing the President around, from civil rights to affirmative action, from rock'n'roll to Hip Hop. D'you see any sign of "the better" showing up in any of those zones, after decades of "the worse"? No, me neither. Tom went on to tell us that voters who, quote, "could not even spell the word 'vote' or say it in English" put that "socialist ideologue," Barack Hussein Obama, into the White House. Hey, come on now, Tom. The guy can't help his name, and a lot of people who can spell helped elect Obama. Obama is in fact an emblem of the current great divide in U.S. society: in a nutshell, the top and the bottom against the middle. Here's a quote from a great American conservative, the late Sam Francis, quote: "Today, the main political line of division in the United States is not between the regions of North and South (insofar as such regions can still be said to exist) but between elite and nonelite … For the last 15 years, the elite, based in Washington, New York, and a few large metropolises, allies with the underclass against Middle Americans, who pay the taxes, do the work, fight the wars, suffer the crime, and endure their own political and cultura1 dispossession at the hands of the elite and its underclass vanguard." End quote. It's the top and the bottom in alliance against the middle, the elites and the underclass united against the poor saps who run the businesses and pay the taxes. Tom is surely right that some of the people who voted last November can't speak English; and that practically all of them were Obama voters. That's a scandal, but it doesn't explain Obama's election. Tom also suggested tests in civic literacy for voters. That's not a bad idea, though it has about as much chance of becoming reality as reform of the alphabet. And of course, those lefties who get their excitement in life from shrieking "racist!" at every slightest opportunity, shrieked "racist!" Tom's a patriot, who was right about illegal immigration and multiculturalism when most of his party was wrong, as in fact most of it still is. He's welcome at my backyard barbecue any time. Since he's out of active politics, though, I'd advise him to restrict his public remarks to written releases that he's had a little time to think about. Up on a podium, Tom gets a wee bit too excited.
03 — Tea Party (2): Sarah Palin. Star of the show was of course Sarah Palin. Her speech to the Tea Partiers was better disciplined than Tom's, but the ratio of length to substance was way too big for me. I lost interest about ten minutes in, and when I woke up my wife had switched to Bachelor. My feelings about Sarah are starting to get complicated, I'll admit. I like her a lot, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, I'm British, and we have a genetic predisposition to females in power. You know: Boadicea, Good Queen Bess, Victoria, Maggie Thatcher. And then there's Maggie Thatcher again, one of the greatest national leaders of the past hundred years, who — to use the psychological term — "imprinted" me at a key stage in my political development. And then there's Sarah's non-eliteness. Whether a nation can get along without some kind of elite, I'll leave you to discuss among yourselves. My own guess is that it can't; but even if that's the case, surely there's no doubt that the elite we actually have is not serving us well. Our politicians, our judges, our academics, our entertainers, give out a strong impression of not liking the USA very much and wanting to give it a thorough overhaul. Sarah doesn't belong to that elite, and it's wonderful to see someone from outside the charmed circle rise so high in public life. On the other hand, this now being a meritocracy, our elites are smart, and to outfox them, you need to be smarter. Just numbers won't do it. Middle America has numbers a-plenty. We probably outnumber the elite-plus-underclass alliance. That hasn't stopped them dominating and defeating us, herding us like sheep. Sarah's no dummy, but is she smart enough to prevail when push comes to shove with the entrenched elites of the meritocracy? And then, she is already showing some disturbing signs of going native on us. She has, for example, parroted the elite line that we can't deport 12 million illegal aliens, when of course we don't have to. If we enforce the law fairly and firmly, attrition will solve most of the problem. Her advisers, too, are a depressing bunch — mostly ex-Bush and McCain people. That's a bad omen. So is Sarah's announcement that she'll be campaigning for John McCain in this year's Arizona primary. Remember I reported in last week's Radio Derb that McCain [boos] is being challenged by J.D. Hayworth [cheers]. If Sarah wants to keep the interest of conservatives, she should be supporting the conservative there, and it ain't John McCain. Well, I suspend judgment. I wish the Tea Partiers well, and I wish Sarah well. If she's top of the ticket in 2012, she'll have my vote. I just have a dull sad feeling that she's not Maggie Thatcher.
04 — Gubmint work in Wisconsin. I know, you're fed up with me telling you to GET A GOVERNMENT JOB! but you should darn well listen. Here's a story from Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin State Journal, February 7, quote: "Madison's highest paid city government employee last year wasn't the mayor. It wasn't the police chief. It wasn't even the head of Metro Transit. It was bus driver John E. Nelson. Nelson earned $159,258 in 2009, including $109,892 in overtime and other pay. He and his colleague, driver Greg Tatman, who earned $125,598, were among the city's top 20 earners for 2009, city records show." End quote. So there you are, listeners: If you've been nagging your kids to go for that college degree, get that internship, or start that business, there's still time to change tack. Send 'em over to Madison with a big wad of hundred dollar bills so they can buy themselves a place in the line at Metro Transit — the line you stand on for a bus driver application form. It'll be cheaper than sending them to college. The benefits are likely better than anything they'd get in the private sector, too. Factlet: From 2000 to 2007, the average cost of benefits for state and local employees — this is excluding federal employees, mind — the average cost per taxpayer went up 69 percent in constant dollars. You know, there used to be a sort of understood social contract here: In the public sector you got great job security, but you weren't paid so well. In the private sector the pay was better, but no job security. Well, that's all gone out of the window. Nowadays our public employees get defined-benefit, inflation-adjusted pension plans and retire at 55; private sector workers get a 401(K) and then their jobs are outsourced to Bangladesh. One more time, citizens: GET A GOVERNMENT JOB!
05 — The Budget (cont.) Radio Derb reported last week on the warning by Moody's, the bond-rating service, that the USA is in danger of losing its triple-A rating if we don't get our financial house in order. Well, not to worry. Our Treasury Secretary, 14-year-old Timmy Geithner, assured us in an ABC news interview last weekend that this can't happen. Quote from him: "We shall work to rein in the deficit once the labor market recovers." Well, that's nice, Timmy. However, the entire point of that 800 billion dollar stimulus package a year ago was to pep up the labor market so that the administration could get to work on deficit reduction. How'd that work out? Let's see: unemployment's stuck at over ten percent, and this year's deficit is on track to be seven percent bigger than last year's. And let's remember that the president's budget still has to get through Congress — one of the most dysfunctional and irresponsible congresses our nation has ever been cursed with. The paradigm has always been that in a recession, government primes the pump with spending till the economy perks up, then switches its attention to deficit reduction to keep the confidence of foreign investors. What happens if the economy doesn't perk up, though? Newsflash here, Timmy: it hasn't. Oh, 'scuse me: I have to go bury some more Krugerrands in the back yard.
06 — New Jobs Bill. Meanwhile, the administration's making happy noises about its new jobs bill. We don't know the cost yet, but it looks to be worth around 15 billion, mainly in construction projects and tax breaks for small businesses that hire unemployed people. Well, those tax breaks will pick up some Republican support in Congress, but will they actually create any jobs? Nobody seems to thinks so. Businesses hire when demand picks up, not because they want a tax break. We've lost eight and a half million jobs this recession; the biggest estimate I've seen for jobs created by this new bill is a hundred thousand. That won't even move the needle on the unemployment dial. In any case, by the time Congress is through with it, the jobs bill will be just like every jobs program in the nation — like, in fact, the jobs programs Barack Obama worked on in Chicago twenty years ago: jobs for bureaucrats and "community organizers." Nobody in Washington cares about jobs in the private sector. They can't even imagine what they are. We have government of the bureaucrats, by the bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats. The rest of us can go hang.
07 — Iran's 30th anniversary. This week is the thirtieth anniversary of the revolution in Iran, the greatest reactionary revolution of our time. What they were reacting against — the grandiose social-engineering projects of the Shah — were not pretty, but even the Shah's regime was preferable to the barbarous, vengeful primitivism of the Khomeinists. Iran's a tough country to govern at the best of times — a mess of sects, ethnicities, and languages with no constitutional tradition, no binding force other than the old monarchy, and no necessity to develop a modern entrepreneurial economy, being cursed with great deposits of fossil fuel. Wallowing in oil revenues, Iran's rulers can afford to be irresponsible; fired up with Islamist zeal, their irresponsibility takes the form of hatred of the West, whose wealth and success have planted a burning inferiority complex in the heart of every pious Muslim. Iran will have to sort out its own political affairs one way or another. The pressing question for the West is whether we can stand by doing nothing while nations crazed with hatred and envy of us, get nuclear weapons. If the answer is No, we shall have to act. Ideally, the nations of the West would act in concert; but there is no hope of that; the feebleness of our individual wills just seems to shrivel even further when we contemplate joint action. Our leaders babble about sanctions, which of course would have no effect whatever, except to enrich a lot of crooks in Russia, Pakistan, and Iraq. Every military authority I've read or spoken to tells me that no conventional attack will stop Iran's nuclear advance. Since we don't have the stones for a nuclear strike, the book is closed. Iran will go nuclear. The hopes we're investing in the democracy movement are illusory; Iran has no track record of democracy, and the authorities are sufficiently well-entrenched to deal with the protests. We're stuck with a nuclear Iran, followed in short order by a nuclear Egypt, a nuclear Saudi Arabia, and a nuclear Turkey. Let's hope deterrence works with jihadis. How d'you say "Mutual Assured Destruction" in Farsi?
08 — Nigeria gets new Prez. Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, has a new president, or at least acting president, name of Goodluck Jonathan. The actual president, a bloke named Umaru Yar'Adua, is on indefinite sick leave with kidney and heart trouble. President Yar'Adua is a Muslim, along with half Nigeria's population, including the currently most famous Nigerian, Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. So when the president's health problems flared up last fall, he took himself off to a hospital in Saudi Arabia, and that's where he's believed to be right now. Nigeria is sensationally corrupt, so things move slowly there, politicians being so busy counting their cash they don't have much time for public affairs. However, the ruling party has finally got around to making Goodluck Jonathan the acting president. Mr Jonathan is one of the 40 percent of Nigerians who are Christian. He's going to need divine assistance in his new job: Nigeria is pretty much a failed state. It's propped up by oil money; but there's a nasty insurrection going on in the oil-producing region. There's also gross inequality of wealth nationwide, along with out of control crime, rampant tropical diseases, chronic and violent religious conflict, and that big smoggy cloud of corruption hanging over everything. So good luck to Mr Goodluck Jonathan. I notice that his wife's name is Patience. I'm guessing that Nigeria is past the point where patience will help much.
09 — Miscellany. Here is our traditional closing miscellany of short items.
Item: Good news here from China. ChiCom Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said on Wednesday that, quote, "There are no dissidents in China. We only manage our affairs according to the law, and so we only have a difference between criminals and non-criminals." Well, that's encouraging. Mr. Ma was responding to criticism of the eleven-year jail sentence given to Liu Xiaobo. Liu's appeal against the sentence was dismissed last week. Obviously Liu is a very dangerous criminal indeed. What did he do? He co-signed a document that was circulated among Chinese intellectuals a year and a half ago, calling for greater freedoms and democratic reforms in China, including an end to Communist one-party rule. You can't get much more dangerous than that.
Item: Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, has been trying to make herself useful in some non-controversial way, as First Ladies do. The issue she's settled on is childhood obesity — motherhood and less apple pie, as one commentator observed. I guess I'm all right with this so long as it's just hortatory. We can put up with a bit of nagging, and there are plenty of worse things she could be nagging us about. If it goes beyond that into the area of legislation, though, Michelle's going to have a fight on her hands. The health fascists and nutrition Nazis are entitled to express their opinions, but they can have my Cadbury's Milk Chocolate bar when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.
Item: News from the world of medicine: A young lady named Louisa Ball over in England has been diagnosed with Kleine-Levin Syndrome, a form of hypersomnia. That's when you sleep a lot. A lot: Ms Ball sleeps for two weeks at a stretch. I understand that the condition must be having a severe impact on Ms Ball's life, but I can't quite shake off the thought that this is one disease I wouldn't mind having. Ms Ball is a winsome 15-year-old blonde, so of course all the newspapers are calling her the Sleeping Beauty. Since this is happening in England, a place pretty well supplied with princes, you'd think one of them would step up and do the honorable thing, but perhaps princes don't do that stuff any more.
Item: Heading into Mardi Gras, New Orleans is doing well: Saturday last the city elected a new mayor, one who is neither crazy nor incompetent, and the following day the Saints won the superbowl, likewise a first. The election was actually the bigger upset of the two. New Orleans has for decades been run on the Malaysian principle: one race runs the business and professional life, the other one runs the local politics and the public-employment patronage networks. In New Orleans the money is white, the political power black. However, Mitch Landrieu, the new mayor, is white, and he won by a landslide — 66 percent of the vote, including 63 percent of the black vote. Encouraging to know that race is not yet destiny in our politics, at least not when there are characters like outgoing mayor Ray Nagin to concentrate voters' minds.
Item: I confess to a vague fascination with North Dakota, one of the half dozen states I've never been to. It's a sort of Tibet of the USA, isn't it? — remote, sparsely populated, and cold. There are two U.S. Senators and one congressman, all Democrats. The Governor, however, is a Republican. This is John Hoeven: a bit of a big spender, but with some good conservative positions on crime, the Second Amendment, and state rights. Well, now the Governor is running for Senator. See, the junior Senator, Byron Dorgan, is retiring, and John Hoeven aims to be the Scott Brown of the northern prairies. Good luck to him, and Governor, if you need any speechwriters up there, I'd really like to see the place.
Item: And still it's snowing. Kind of makes you wonder about global warming, doesn't it? What does Keith Olbermann have to say? [Olberman: Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin want to kill us all …] Really? You sure about that, Keith? I mean, if they kill us all, won't that impact their book sales? [Olberman: We're all going to die in nine years, anyway.] I see. Well, I hope before the Apoclaypse comes down, I can be your Worst Person in the World just one more time, Keith. I mean, come on … what do I have to say to get the Worst Person in the World award? I'm losing cred with my colleagues here.
Item: This report's been getting some air time. Britain's Medical Research Council, working from one of those long-range studies of life outcomes, tracked eleven hundred 55-year-olds in Glasgow, Scotland. They found that the best predictor of heart disease was, no surprise, cigarette smoking. The second best predictor was low IQ. If you want the top five risk factors they are: cigarette smoking, low IQ, low income, high blood pressure, and low physical activity. What nonsense! There is no such thing as IQ, everybody knows that. There's also no such thing as heart disease. I doubt if low income or high blood pressure really exist either. These things are just social constructs, you know.
10 — Signoff. That's it, listeners. Now, it's Valentine's Day this Sunday. Also Chinese New Year, so a double whammy in my household. Not only do I have to remember the card and the flowers and the sweet talk, I also have to wash dishes after the New Years' Eve banquet. Ah, well. Another nine years and we'll all be dead, according to Keith Olberman — killed off by Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin. May as well make the most of life while we're still here.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]