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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb is on the air! John Derbyshire here, your patriotically genial host, with the good news that our republic has survived another year. That's the good news. The rest of this broadcast will, as usual, be given over to the bad news.
02 — Obama immigration speech: the clichés. Hoo boy, I've got a big fat juicy target here. Barack Obama delivered a speech on immigration. My mouth was watering.
The president did not disappoint. Every weary old cliché of the open-borders lobbyists was in that speech. "Nation of immigrants"? Check. "Seeking a better life"? Check. "Broken system"? Check. "Impossible to deport 11 million people"? Check. "Breaking up families"? Check. "They must get in line"? Check. "E pluribus unum"? Check. "Statue of Liberty"? Check. "Emma Lazarus"? Check. This speech was a cliché-o-rama.
Now look: Immigration is important. It determines what our country will be like in the future — what kind of country we shall bequeath to our children and grandchildren. A topic that important should be prominent in our political life. It should be discussed honestly and openly, with regard to facts, pros and cons. Instead the whole topic is hidden in a great foggy cloud of sentimental b-s, mixed up with a lot of sly political calculation. The president's speech was perfectly illustrative of this mismatch between the importance of the topic, and the infantile dishonesty with which our politicians discuss it.
First off, let me deal with those clichés. "Nation of immigrants"? No we're not. The original settlers were just moving from one part of British or Dutch territory to another part. That's not immigration. If there had been no further inflows whatsoever since the founding of the Republic, natural increase alone would have given the U.S.A. a population almost half what it actually was by 1992, the date that demographer Campbell Gibson carried out the computation. So "nation of immigrants" is at best a half truth — kind of an insulting one for the other half of America, the ones who would have been here anyway.
Furthermore, immigration has always been a stop and go affair. For the quarter-century of the Napoleonic Wars, immigration into America practically ceased. It didn't really pick up until the 1840s. It peaked in the early 1850s, then dropped off during the Civil War. It picked up in the early 1880s, leading into the Great Wave that ended in the 1920s. Then there was a great lull until the late 1960s, a forty-year lull with very low levels.
If you pick out particular regions, the "nation of immigrants" cliché looks even sillier. New England had almost no incoming population for two hundred years, from the 1640s to the 1840s. "Nation of immigrants"? Pah! Lots of us are immigrants, and even more of us have parents or grandparents who are immigrants, but that doesn't make us a nation of immigrants; it only makes us a nation with immigrants.
And Barack Obama's assertion that, quote: "We've always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants," is just false. No we haven't. The phrase "nation of immigrants" was thought up by John F. Kennedy in 1958. To my knowledge, nobody in the previous 180 years of the republic's existence ever uttered that phrase. It certainly wasn't commonplace. Funny use of the word "always" there, Mr. President.
"Seeking a better life"? Who isn't seeking a better life? We all wish our lives were better. In a nation of laws, though, you're supposed to seek a better life by lawful means. I'm sure Bernie Madoff was seeking a better life when he bilked all those people out of their life savings. "Broken system"? The federal government is not enforcing the people's laws. That's not a broken system, that's a dereliction of duty. "Impossible to deport 11 million people"? Let's see: Here's a quote I've just pulled off the website of my state's education department, quote: "Approximately 2.3 million pupils, or ten percent of the nation's pupils, ride our 50,000 school buses each day." End quote. If that's just ten percent of the nation's pupils, then nationwide we have something like 23 million kids riding half a million buses. Every day! Except in the summer vacation! Which is going on right now! "Breaking up families"? Only if you forbid deportees to take their kin with them. So let's not do that. Who wants to do it anyway?
"They must get in line"? Yes; and the line forms outside the U.S. consulate in their home city, in their home country. That's where people go to stand on line when they're following our laws. "E pluribus unum"? That's nothing to do with immigration. When Charles Thomson put those words on the Great Seal in 1782, he had in mind the forming of one federal nation from many colonies. We know that because he told us so. "Statue of Liberty"? A gift from France to commemorate the centenary of the Declaration of Independence. Nobody involved had immigration in mind. It was thirty years before the statue began to be associated with immigration. "Emma Lazarus"? She was a Sephardic Jew from a family long settled here. We don't know what she thought about Somali Muslims, Dominican Catholics, Chinese Taoists, and Sri Lankan Buddhists, but we do know what she thought about East European Ashkenazi Jews, thanks to Albert Lindemann's book about modern antisemitism. Those Ashkenazi Jews were, quote from Emma: "an unappealing mass of semi-Orientals, Kabbalists, and Hassidim," end quote, who should not, in Emma's opinion, have been allowed to settle in America.
The president's speech was, in short, a tissue of clichés, all of them false or empty. The bits that are not clichés don't make any sense, either. Let's look at some of those.
03 — Obama immigration speech: the lies. Quote: "Our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols. It won't work."
Well, our border with Mexico, which is the one Americans would most like to see fixed, is a bit less than two thousand miles. Say ten million feet. If we stationed guys shoulder to shoulder there in three daily shifts, we'd need fifteen million guys, which is a lot. Nobody's suggesting that, though. Let's suppose you used thirty thousand guys — the number in the last tranche of troops sent to Afghanistan. On a three-shift basis, that would be ten thousand on shift at a time, or one per thousand feet. Given the near-perfect visibility in the southern desert, that's easily enough for each guy to see what's going on in his stretch. With a decent fence to slow down trespassers, and some elementary electronic aids — nothing state-of-the-art, just cameras and sensors — you could guard that border pretty effectively with a lot less than thirty thousand guys.
Speaking of Afghanistan, that nation's border with Pakistan is over 1,600 miles long, 84 percent the length of the U.S.-Mexican border. Why is the administration more concerned with that border than with our own nation's?
And what's with this despairing tone? The borders are "too vast", you say? "It won't work," you say? Whoa, what happened to "Yes we can!" What happened to stopping the sea levels rising, sending every kid to college, curing poverty, fixing health care, filling up the Mojave Desert with windmills and solar farms? And we can't build a fence? A fence?
Next, the business of importing talent. Quote from Obama: "The scientific breakthroughs of Albert Einstein, the inventions of Nikola Tesla, the great ventures of Andrew Carnegie's U.S. Steel and Sergey Brin's Google, Inc. — all this was possible because of immigrants." End quote.
OK, let's deconstruct that. First, a brief review of Albert Einstein's career. Special Theory of Relativity: Switzerland, 1905. First full professorship: Czechoslovakia, 1911. General theory of Relativity: Germany, 1915. Nobel Prize: 1921. Emigrated to the U.S.A.: 1933. Explain to me again how Einstein's breakthroughs were made possible by immigration?
Tesla, Carnegie, and Brin were immigrants all right: from Serbia, Scotland, and Russia. I suppose you could argue that they make a case for allowing settlement of 28-year-old trained engineers from Serbia, Scottish Presbyterians, and Jewish Russian mathematicians. The case for importing 40 million Mexican peasants, one-third the entire population of the Dominican Republic, and 60,000 Somali goat-herds, remains to be made. In my opinion.
Just one more. Here's the quote from Obama's speech, quote: "Immigration also means we have a younger workforce — and a faster-growing economy — than many of our competitors."
This is a favorite selling point of the immigration boosters. Japan, China, the European countries all have below-replacement birthrates, and so aging populations. Yes they do. However, since the earth must have some finite carrying capacity, the earth's entire population will max out at some point, and all nations will face these problems. The ones who face them first will be the ones most likely to solve them. And the aging problem is temporary. Once the baby-boom bulge has worked through those older cohorts, those populations will get younger. They will in fact be getting younger while ours is getting older, coming out at the other end of the tunnel just as we're going in to it.
04 — Immigration 101. Look: Here's the immigration issue in a nutshell. Let X be the number of people we — we, the people, as expressed through our democratic procedures — are willing to accept for settlement in this and the next few years. That's X: the number of people we are willing to give settlement visas to. Now let Y be the number of people, from among the seven billion currently alive on this planet, who wish to come and settle here. Y want to come settle; we're willing to take in X.
Let's assume that Y is greater than X — which, in the case of the U.S.A., it certainly is, by a couple of orders of magnitude. The two questions our immigration policy has to answer are, one, what is the value of X? and two, assuming X is greater than zero, how do we select the smaller number, X, from the larger number, Y? That's it. That's all there is to immigration policy in the large. The rest is details and fine-tuning. That's legal immigration, of course. Illegal immigration is a law-enforcement issue. Illegal residents just have to be identified and deported. Fuel up those half million school buses!
There is actually a case for deciding that X, the number of people we should accept for settlement, is zero. Do you actually feel that the U.S.A. is under-populated right now? Maybe I'm swayed somewhat on this — I have to drive the Long Island Expressway. We don't have to accept anyone for settlement if we don't want to. The nation belongs to us, its citizens. And certainly when unemployment is at ten percent, the case for zero immigration looks pretty good. Why would we take in new people for settlement when our own citizens can't find work?
If we collectively decide that we do want to take in immigrants, even in a recession, then discussion moves to the second of my two questions: How do we select the smaller number, X, from the larger number, Y? Say the number of people wishing to come settle in the U.S.A., worldwide, is a hundred million a year — one in seventy of the world's population. I should think that is likely an under-estimate, but let's suppose. And let's further suppose that we have decided to let in a million a year for settlement. How do we pick the million from the hundred million? How do we decide who's the lucky one, and who are the unlucky ninety-nine?
I'd guess that most Americans, if you asked them this question, would favor some kind of points system. So many points for education and work skills, so many for English fluency, so many for demonstrated talents in art, sport, or music; then negative points taken off for anything suggesting a burden on our public fisc — health problems, criminal record, old age, number of dependents, and so on.
There you are: I just worked out a rational immigration system. Do you think this is anything at all like what Barack Obama has in mind when he talks about "comprehensive immigration reform"? [Laughter]
Once you decide to let people settle in your country, everything else is a matter of human capital, which does matter. The president even said so in his speech — all those tributes to immigrant entrepreneurs and scientists. This is the hardest point for politicians to talk about honestly, though, since our current state ideology pretends that everyone is an Einstein — that people and nations don't differ at all in their human capital. This is idiotic of course, and nobody really believes it. The Institute of Advanced Study isn't going to hire me to do nuclear physics research. For some reason, though, we've all decided that we should pretend to believe it.
Consider the city of Maywood, California, which Radio Derb reported on last week. This is the city that laid off all its employees, disbanded its police and fire departments, and so on, because insurance companies wouldn't write the city any policies. Why not? Because the city was hopelessly corrupt and mis-managed. Maywood is 96 percent Hispanic. This being southern California, that means Mexican. Do you think, does even Barack Obama think, that Maywood would be in the trouble it's in if it was 96 percent Indian software engineers, 96 percent Scottish Presbyterians, 96 percent Jewish Russians, or 96 percent Chinese entrepreneurs? Human capital matters. It matters. If you pretend it doesn't matter, you end up with … well, Maywood.
05 — Jobs and debt. It's all too much. Too much unreason; too much sentimental gassing; too much hidden-agenda sleight of hand. Who doesn't know that the entire agenda for the Democrats is to get 20 million new Democratic voters on the rolls? Really — who doesn't know this? That all the lofty moralizing is just a cynical play for votes?
If I think about immigration too much, I may turn into a pessimistic old grouch. We wouldn't want that, would we? Let's think about something else. I know — the economy! What's up with the economy?
Oh dear, I wish I hadn't asked. Associated Press, quote: "Unemployment claims are up, home sales are plunging … and manufacturing growth is slowing," end quote. The country lost 125,000 jobs in June.
What about all that stimulus money? Isn't it stimulating anything? Sure it is. It's stimulating state legislators to ignore their problems for another year or two, in the blithe confidence that Uncle Sam will bail them out with stimulus money.
My own state legislature here in New York has just passed another budget bursting with pork and making barely a dent in the swelling problem of unaffordable public-employee pensions and benefits. Our Governor, Dave Paterson, has sworn to veto every single one of the pork projects — 6,900 in number, according to the New York Post.
In Illinois — whose fiscal problems you don't hear much about, but which in fact is in one of the deepest fiscal holes of all the states — in Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has raised the retirement age for state employees and capped the pensions, but only for new hires. The tens of thousands of current Illinois state employees will go on retiring at ages as young as fifty and collecting, in many cases, six-digit pensions.
In California, it's turned out that state-employee pension funds are short half a trillion dollars. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he's been pointing out the pension-funding problems for a year and more, but can't get state legislators to do anything about it. No doubt they assume Washingtom will send them a few box-car-loads of money. You know, from those big brass-bound chests full of money that the president keeps in the White House basement.
It's bad all over, folks, and nbobody is doing much about it, with the shining exception of Chris Christie in New Jersey, who just got through his legislature the lowest budget for five years. And for all Christie's guts and determination, that fight isn't a foregone conclusion. It's never enough for the leader to be ready to lead; the voters have to be ready to follow. If you want to see several million voters all mad as hell, try a teacher strike.
Make no mistake, listeners, we're in a real bind here. The states and the feds have spent far too much money, far too freely. Now the chickens are, as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright would say, coming home to roost. I wouldn't underestimate the ability of politicians to kick the can down the road a few more months; but just beyond that, the road comes to the cliff edge.
06 — Celebrity follies: Al Gore. Isn't there any relief from all this gloom?
Where then shall Hope and Fear their Objects find?
Well, yes, basically. But you know, there are always a few bright spots if you look hard enough. There are, for example, the follies of our showbiz celebrities to chuckle over.
Showbiz celebrity number one: Al Gore. Yes, that loveable old lunk has gotten himself in a pickle. Now admit it: You never imagined, in your wildest dreams, that you would see the name "Al Gore" in the same paragraph as the phrase "crazed sex poodle," did you? That would be like "John Derbyshire" sharing a paragraph with "sports-mad fashion plate celebrating diversity." Here's Al, though, fielding accusations by massage therapist Molly Hagerty that the Gore-bot grabbed her, kissed her, and rolled on top of her — ouch! — on a motel bed in Portland, Oregon four years ago. She says she's got video surveillance and DNA evidence, and the local District Attorney is conducting an enquiry.
It would of course be unfair to pre-judge the case, though perhaps not as unfair as spreading worldwide panic about climate catastrophe on dubious evidence, or claiming to have invented the Internet, or accusing New Jersey of having pioneered racial profiling. Tipper's recent decision to leave Al throws some circumstantial evidence on the scales; and I must say, the encounter as related by Ms. Hagerty does ring true. Al comes across as inept and clueless about the seduction business, which is what you'd expect him to be. Slick Willie would either have smooth-talked the lady into the sheets, or else, facing real resistance, just knocked her out, has his way, then told her to put some ice on her bruises. That's a real ladies' man. Obviously we had two horn dogs there at the top of the executive branch in the nineties; but one was a rottweiler while the other was a big, floppy, eager to please old Labrador puppy who got boisterous when his milk bone treat didn't show up on time.
07 — Celebrity follies: Mel Gibson. And still in showbiz, we get another performance from Mel Gibson. You may recall the last one, backs in 2006, which I immortalized in song at the time. Would you like to hear that again? Of course you would.
Jingle Mel, Jingle Mel, Jingle Mel rock,
[Applause] Thank you, thank you. Well, this year's Mel-o-drama featured his baby mama Oksana Grigorievna. Mel thought that Oksana was immodestly dressed and expressed himself in no uncertain terms, employing the n-word, the c-word, and the f-word, though not apparently the j-word on this occasion. By some miracle of chance, the rant was recorded, and Oksana is now suing Mel for a sum of money well up in the m-word zone.
Well, it all helps to lighten up these dark times a little, so let's be grateful. I must say, though, I'm finding this "n-word" business increasingly annoying. I mean the expression "the n-word," not the actual n-word itself. Likewise with the f-word and the c-word — I mean the expressions "the f-word" and "the c-word."
No, I'm not going to go Lenny Bruce on you here. I have no principled objection to a society having taboo words. If I had it wouldn't matter, as every society since the dawn of creation seems to have had them. The problem isn't the taboo words themselves, it's how we refer to them without actually using them. To say "the f-word" or "the n-word" sounds to me childish and schoolmarmish — like an elementary-school teacher addressing a class of tots. I feel I'm being talked down to.
So what's my solution? Well I say let's number 'em. Put up a website somewhere with all the taboo words listed, each one given a number. Then instead of saying, for example, "the c-word," you could just say "taboo word three," or "TW3." I'll admit this isn't very colorful; but if it's color you're wanting, use the actual word. At least my system is a bit more grown-up. And if you don't like it, frankly, I don't give a TW5.
08 — Black Panther case. Well knock me down with a feather! It turns out that Eric Holder's Justice Department doesn't think that civil rights and voting rights laws should be enforced on behalf of white people. Civil rights and voting rights are only for black people. That's according to J. Christian Adams, the former Justice Department attorney who quit his job to protest the administration's handling of the voter intimidation case in Philadephia, where Black Panthers in full dress uniform and carrying nightsticks stood at the entrance to a polling place snarling at white voters.
For goodness' sake, is anyone surprised at this? Barack Obama and Eric Holder are leftist black Americans with enormous chips on their shoulders about race. Obama's autobiography is full of racial whining. It's even there in the title: "A story of race and inheritance." Obama simply couldn't forgive all those pleasant, middle-class white people he grew up amongst for giving him such a pleasant, middle-class upbringing and education. Same with Holder, who grew up in New York City of the 1950s and 1960s, a city run by white liberals like Robert Wagner and John Lindsay, determined to give smart black kids every possible break in life. Hence Eric Holder's career: Stuyvesant High School, Columbia University, and easy access to plum lawyering jobs. These guys hate white America for being so damn nice to them.
Human nature's a funny thing. When black Americans really were cruelly oppressed they produced moral giants like Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. Once the cruelty ended and America at large started bending over backwards to make amends for it, we began turning out spiteful, whining creeps like Obama and Holder.
We'll put up with them, of course. We feel we have to. It all comes under the heading of the Slavery Tax, which the U.S.A. will be paying for ever.
09 — Miscellany. I went way over my time limit there deconstructing the president's immigration speech, so our closing miscellany of brief items is somewhat truncated this week. Here we go.
Item: The Gaza Strip, as everybody knows, is a hell-hole of hunger and desperation, groaning under the iron heel of Israeli imperialism. The poor devils who live there manage to occupy themselves somehow, though. Meet Mr. Abu Talal al-Najar, who is 82 years old, and something of a legend in the Strip. Mr. al-Najar has more than 30 children, and 430 grandchildren. With unemployment in the Strip at 40 percent, presumably some large portion of the 430 are being fed by the U.N., which means by you and me, mostly. The Gaza Strip has the second-highest fertility rate in the world outside sub-Saharan Africa, number one being Afghanistan. Gaza's population is growing by around five percent a year, which means, on the compound interest principle, it doubles every 14 years. Thank goodness the U.N. is there to feed them all. Mr. al-Najar, by the way, is still sprightly. He told the BBC News he thinks he could easily have another 10 or 15 kids. Isn't that nice.
Item: Nationalism got a bad rap in the 20th century, for reasons we all understand, but it's been making a quiet comeback this past half century, with multinational states breaking up either peacefully, as with Czechoslovakia and the U.S.S.R. … well, for the most part — or violently, as with Yugoslavia, Cyprus, and Pakistan. The next break-up, also peaceful, looks like being Belgium. In Belgium you have Flemish speakers in the north and French speakers in the south. Well, the other day they had a general election and NVA, the Flemish nationalist and separatist party, got 29 percent of the vote in the north, putting them well on the way to being the country's biggest political party. In the grand scale of things, the break-up of Belgium is around number 857 on anyone's worry list, but it's interesting none the less, especially with Geert Wilders' continuing rise in the Netherlands next door. According to the early 20th-century progressives, by this point we should all have been dancing round the maypole together in happy multicultural bliss, with nationalism a fading memory from the shameful past. Looks like the progressives got it wrong. But then, they got pretty much everything wrong.
Item: Britain's deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg asked British people to say what reforms they would like to the country's laws, and opened a website where citizens could post suggestions. By far the most popular suggestion was for capital punishment to be brought back. Most people everywhere favor capital punishment — and so does Radio Derb. Other suggestions were further off the beaten track. One citizens wants the right to marry horses. Quote: "I have been going out with a horse for seven — very happy — years now. Why oh why can we not marry?" I'm going to pass on the jurisprudential point here, but … "going out with"? What, like, to restaurants? The movies? Boy, I'm glad I got out of Britain.
Item: Google is going to pay homosexual employees more that straight ones for the same work. The logic here is that employee health insurance is tax free for married couples but not for homosexuals in civil unions. The difference, according to Google, averages a thousand bucks a year. There's been some angry bloviating about this on the blogs, people saying "Why don't we just kill off all the straight white guys and have done with it?" and such like. Personally I guess I'm all right with it. I just wonder what Google U.K. plans to do when an employee marries his horse.
10 — Signoff. [Party noises] Well, that's it. I can hear party noises wafting down from the 96th floor, so I guess Jonah's got the grotto lit up and the holiday weekend is under way. What do you say, Candy? [Candy: "I guess it's time to go."] Yes, I guess it is. We hope you all have a very relaxing weekend; take time for your family and friends, and go easy on the rum punch. Radio Derb will be back on the air next week. Happy July Fourth, everybody! Here's some suitably July Fourth music from the United States Air Force Band.
[Music clip: The Stars and Stripes Forever.]