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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb is on the air! This is your paradoxically genial host John Derbyshire with news of the hour. Lots of stuff to comment on this week, so let's get to it.
02 — Congress passes Finance Bill. I think we all know the reaction of Edward Gibbons' patron, the Duke of Gloucester, when Gibbon presented him with the patron's copy of his tremendous book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, quote: "Another damned thick square book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh, Mr. Gibbon?" The Duke's patronage was entirely honorary: he was not a literary man.
No more am I a banking expert, so my judgment on Barney Frank's Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 would probably not be worth your trouble listening to.
With the bill weighing in at 2,300 pages, it would in any case be beyond my powers of endurance to stay awake much beyond the preamble. I'll just say, Duke of Gloucester style: "Another damn thick square bill! Always legislate, legislate, legislate! Eh, Mr. Obama?"
To a person of my kidney, who believes our nation has far too many laws already, and might benefit from a couple of congressional sessions just repealing stuff, the bill is a monstrosity just by virtue of its size.
Let's get the opinion of someone who actually has a clue what's in the bill, though. Here's Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, and, I have reason to believe, a pretty smart cookie, from a state where I have experienced some exceptionally fine American hospitality. Quote from Senator Shelby, quote: "This bill is a 2,300-page legislative monster that expands the scope and the power of ineffective bureaucracies. It creates vast new bureaucracies with little accountability and seriously, I believe, undermines the competitiveness of the American economy. Unfortunately, the bill does very little to make our system safer." End quote.
I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. The regulation of financial markets is the old hare and hound problem. The hare's running for his life, but the hound's only running for his dinner. Bet on the hare.
The financial regulators are plump bureaucrats running for their dinner, looking to retire at 55 on a comfortable but modest federal pension: the traders, fund managers, bankers, and speculators are sleek, super-smart whizz-kids looking to retire at 40 with a couple of billion and a 100-foot yacht. Place your bets.
03 — Obama vs. Osama. Well, al-Qaeda has finally got Barack Obama's attention.
On Sunday the Somali terrorist organization al-Shabab, generally thought to be inspired by al-Qaeda, if not actually affiliated with them, set off bombs at a club and a restaurant in the capital of Uganda, East Africa, killing 74 people who'd gathered to watch the soccer World Cup. Uganda has troops in Somalia supporting the official government of the place, which al-Shabab would like to replace with a strict Islamic theocracy.
Most of the people killed in the bombings were black Ugandans. That is what got the attention of President Obama. In an interview on South African television, Obama said the following thing, quote: "What you've seen in some of the statements that have been made by these terrorist organisations is that they do not regard African life as valuable in and of itself."
An unidentified administration spokesman, asked to clarify the president's remarks, said that the Ugandan attacks show, quote: "Al-Qaeda is a racist organisation that treats black Africans like cannon fodder and does not value human life."
Well, hey, we knew al-Qaeda isn't a humanitarian outfit, but racist? What is the evidence here?
Given that the Uganda bombings were carried out by Somali Muslims, who are black, the president seems to be saying that al-Shabab is just a puppet organization of al-Qaeda — dumb black Africans allowing themselves to be used as cannon fodder by smart Arabs. Leaving aside the fact that no security expert would agree with that analysis of the relationship, isn't that theory a teensy bit racist in itself?
Since the president's father and grandfather were both black and Muslim, he can't very well be saying that Islam is racist. And since the fundamentalist mosques in America and Europe that are sympathetic to al-Qaeda all welcome black congregants, the president can't mean that just fundamentalist Muslims are racist.
So what does he mean? My own theory is that the president, having no idea how to get out of the futile war in Afghanistan, has a desperate psychological need to find some reason to hate the people we are fighting there, and so by extension to hate al-Qaeda, who are friendly with them. In order to hate people, you have to believe they are wicked; and the only form of wickedness that Obama really believes in is racism.
Therefore evidence, however thin and questionable, that al-Qaeda is racist, comes as a deep relief to the president. Now he can hate them! If they weren't racist, why would anybody hate them?
04 — Al Qaeda magazine. For my birthday last month some anonymous well-wisher bought me a subscription to Inspire — that's this new glossy English-language magazine put out by al-Qaeda, name of the magazine is Inspire.
It's very well produced, I must say: glossy paper, good color pics, mostly well edited. The centerfold didn't really tickle my fancy, though. No offense to the lady, but when you've seen one burqa, you've seen them all.
Some of the articles strike me as a bit odd, too. This one, for example: "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom." I'm not sure about the grammar there. Sounds more like French than English — you know: "La bombe de mon oncle est sur la bureau de ma tante. La burqa de ma tante est dans la garde-robe de mon oncle." But perhaps that's just me.
Other articles useful for the aspiring terrorist include one on sending and receiving encrypted messages. Opening sentences, quote: "One such software is a program created by our brothers called Asrar al-Mujahideen 2.0. Here, we will discuss how to use this program, how to create your key …" End quote. Handy stuff.
Osama bin Laden himself contributed a piece on the threat of global warming, which he blames on the greed of western corporations. Having been newly sensitized by our president to the racism of al-Qaeda, I was looking for some exhortations to lynching or cross-burning, or at least an endorsement of the Tea Party movement, but I didn't spot anything.
Actually, the whole thing may be a spoof. The jihadist website al-Fallujah, to which I habitually turn for reliable insights into the most advanced kinds of Islamist thought, says that Insight is, quote, "the work of apostate hypocrite dogs who are trying to discredit the Mujahideen," end quote. Al-Fallujah once referred to Rahm Emanuel as "that cross-eyed son of a three-legged hunchback with no thumbs," so I figure they know what they're talking about.
If, on the other hand, Inspire is a genuine production, then presumably al-Qaeda thinks there's a market for glossy English-language jihadism among the magazine-buying Western public. Someone please remind me once again what advantage our nations got from permitting mass Muslim immigration? I keep forgetting.
05 — Oil Spill arrested. As Radio Derb goes to tape, we hear that BP has plugged the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico after twelve weeks of trying. Since this is a cap on the gusher, not a proper sealing way downhole, the danger remains, as described in our June 18 broadcast, that the high-pressure oil will be forced sideways through the walls of the borehole and come up through the surrounding seabed. Still, BP is making some nice confident pronouncements, and the share price just went up seven percent, so let's hope for the best.
Meanwhile, in a different gulf four thousand miles away, BP is gearing up to do some exploratory drilling. That would be the Gulf of Sidra, in Libya's territorial waters.
Libya … Libya … let's see … Libya — oh yes, that's the country whose intelligence service blew up Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland back in 1988, killing 270 people. The only person ever convicted in that atrocity was Libyan intelligence agent Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in Scotland in 2001. But then, you may recall, Al-Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds last August. Apparently he has prostate cancer. A British cancer specialist offered the opinion that Mr. al-Megrahi only had only three months to live.
Here we are a year later and al-Megrahi is doing the celebrity circuit over there in Libya and working on his golf game. And it turns out that the British cancer specialist was paid for his opinion by the Libyan government. And that al-Megrahi's name came up before his release in negotiations between Britain and Libya over certain commercial matters. That would be "Britain" as in "British Petroleum." which is what "BP" stands for.
That would be BP who are now setting up rigs in the Gulf of Sidra.
I dunno, I just don't seem to be able to connect the dots here …
06 — Iroquois Nation wants its own passports. When I pledged my troth to the United States of America eight years ago, I assumed I was becoming a citizen of a nation. How naïve! The depths of my naïvety were made clear to me this week by none other than our Secretary of State, Mrs. Bill Clinton.
The back story here is that a lacrosse team made up of Native Americans from upstate New York and Canada wants to play in the World Lacrosse Championships, currently being held in England. This team claims to represent the Iroquois Confederacy, an alliance of Native American tribes that ceased to exist in 1779, when it was smashed by General Sullivan on orders from George Washington.
It's somewhat as if I were to form a soccer team based on the old English kingdom of Mercia, which ceased to exist twelve hundred years ago — a pleasantly sentimental notion, but not to be taken too seriously, certainly not by comparison with matters of real weight, like national sovereignty and security.
These lacrosse players, though, do want us to take their defunct confederacy seriously. They have got on their home computers and powered up their $120 printers, and produced passports issued in the name of the confederacy, and are arguing that they should be allowed to travel to Britain with these passports. As one of their spokes-braves said, quote: "Why should we use U.S. and Canadian passports when we don't consider ourselves citizens of those nations?"
This raises a number of interesting questions. For example: If these people do not consider themselves citizens of the U.S. and Canada, presumably they do not accept any kind of aid, welfare, or subsidies from the U.S. and Canadian governments, or recognize U.S. and Canadian laws.
Be that as it may, Mrs. Clinton was fine with the fake passports. She said the lacrosse players could leave the U.S.A. and re-enter on their Toytown passports, homeland security be damned. Those horrid mean-spirited Brits, however, have balked. The British authorities want to see real passports before they let anyone into their country. Considering they have already let in half the populations of Pakistan and Somalia, you may think there is some inconsistency there; but I guess a nation has a right to let in or exclude whom it pleases, on how irrational soever grounds.
As we got to tape, negotiations are under way. The Iroquois lacrosse players still hope that by making proper gifts of wampum and buffalo hides, they may yet persuade the stiff-necked British palefaces to smoke a pipe of peace. Let's all hope so. Heaven forbid these proud tribesfolk should have to admit to being — ugh! — Americans.
07 — Kagan vote postponed. President Obama's second pick for a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan, resembles the previous one, Sonia Sotomayor, in many respects. Both justices are female, ethnic, New York-native, single, childless, 50-something, law-school lefties with a certain — how shall I put it with maximum delicacy? — a certain embonpoint.
Well, Elena Kagan has been facing the Senate Judiciary Committee in nomination hearings. Now, long before becoming a Supreme Court nominee, Ms. Kagan had gone on record, in writing, with the opinion that these nomination hearings are a waste of time because if a nominee knew what was good for him — a thing which, after the Robert Bork hearings, every nominee did know — he'd just stonewall the senators' questions or take refuge in vague, insubstantial answers.
Imagine our shock and surprise therefore when Ms. Kagan, up before the committee last week, stonewalled the senators' questions and took refuge in vague, insubstantial answers.
Perhaps that's not entirely fair. She did offer a clear opinion on whether Supreme Court proceedings should be televised. She said she thought they should. Arlen Specter said that was enough to swing his vote into her camp, though why anyone would want Arlen Borker … sorry, Specter … in his camp, unless the camp was suffering a dire shortage of spiteful, senile, supercilious old turncoats, I'm not sure.
Ms. Kagan also came down firmly in favor of Coke over Pepsi, butter over margarine, and boxers over briefs. This is the most information we've gotten out of a Supreme Court nominee since 1987.
The committee vote will take place next week, then the nomination goes to the full Senate. Kagan is pretty obviously a far-left stealth candidate — can I get the stealth candidate sound clip, please Ahmed? [Jaws music] Thank you — and the Senate vote should be, and may yet be, filibustered. The case for a filibuster was made very eloquently by Tony Blankley in his syndicated column, which you can find on Wednesday's NRO. The Supreme Court has all the far-left embonpoint it needs.
Meanwhile, rumor is that Arlen Specter, whose services the voters of Pennsylvania no longer require, is to be offered a job by the administration. No details on the job yet. My suggestion would be Toenail Fungus Czar, but the track record of Barack Obama's administration taking up Radio Derb suggestions is not good, so we'll have to wait and see.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: On Tuesday the lower house of the French parliament voted overwhelmingly to ban the burqa. Did I say "overwhelmingly"? The vote was 335 to 1. Admittedly the opposition Socialist Party walked out before the vote, but that was on a point of detail: they support the burqa ban, too, as do practically all French people. Radio Derb does not, and we are glad to take the opportunity to restate our position. Citizens should be allowed to wear what they like, within wide bounds of conventional modesty; but a nation that permits large-scale settlement from places with cultures wildly at odds with its own, is a foolish nation.
Item: In Haverhill (HAY'-vruhl), Massachusetts, a cop was in a shouting match with his girlfriend. A fellow cop, believing things were getting our of hand, tased the first cop. Both cops have been charged with assault, the first on his girlfriend, the second on the first. These taser things are all over now. I wonder if I can get one for when the kids get out of line? Oksana Grigorieva might want to look into getting a taser, too.
Item: The world produces around 25 tons of diamonds a year, half from Africa. That ought to be a nice little earner for the Africans, but it hasn't always worked out well. An egregious case was Zimbabwe which has one of Africa's biggest diamond fields, in a remote area of that country. Prospectors used to head out there, pick up the diamonds, which are just lying around in shallow soil, and sell them to smugglers. Well, a year and a half ago the government of Robert Mugabe sent the army in. The prospectors were massacred and Zimbabwe's diamond trade fell into the hands of Cap'n Bob and his friends and family. The United Nations grumbled about the massacres, and Zimbabwe diamonds were contraband for a while. Now it's all been patched up, and Cap'n Bob and his pals can sell diamonds legally on the world market, which I'm sure must be a great relief to them. Diamonds are for ever, and so apparently is Cap'n Bob's regime, now in its 23rd year as one of the greatest nation-wrecking projects of all time, right up there with the Kim dynasty's efforts in North Korea.
Item: On Thursday, Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Note the word "country" there. Homosexual can already marry in a few limited Latino jurisdictions. Mexico City, for example, allows homosexuals to wed. In fact, in a spirit of homo-solidarity, Mexico City has offered a free honeymoon package, as it were, to the first pair of Argentinian homosexuals to marry under the new law. The package includes air fares for the newly-wed couple and hotel and restaurant expenses. No mention in this news story of whether coyote services are part of the deal, so that Adam and Steve can come settle in the U.S.A., but no doubt if that happens our government will make them welcome. Undocumented and gay is after all a diversity twofer.
Item: News here just in from Turkmenistan. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has announced that, quote: "proposals for the founding of private newspapers and magazines can be prepared and work on this matter can be accelerated," end quote. Up to now all media in Turkmenistan have been state controlled. We applaud this decision by the noble, just, and sapient President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. National Review will be opening an office in Ashgabat as soon as travel formalities can be completed. There's a bit of a hitch at the moment as the staff member designated to go over there is insisting on traveling on a Dutch West India company passport issued by the authorities of New Amsterdam, but I'm sure this will be cleared up.
09 — Signoff. There we are, ladies and gents. Thanks to my crew here for their support efforts: my research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy, and my sound engineer Ahmed. What's that you're reading there, Ahmed? Oh, it's that al-Qaeda magazine, Inspire, isn't it? [Ahmed: "I just read the cartoons."] Ah, I see. Well, that's all we have for you, folks. Tune in again next week for more misery and mayhem from Radio Derb!
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]