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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Greetings once again, ladies and gentlemen. Radio Derb is on the air, broadcasting to you from our lavishly-equipped sound studio here on the 95th floor of Buckley Towers in the heart of Manhattan. This is your transcendentally genial host John Derbyshire with the week's news.
Well, how are you enjoying this post-racial presidency? Isn't it wonderful? We elected an African American as chief executive, and now we don't have to think any more about that tedious, divisive old race business. What a relief, eh? After two hundred years of rancor we can at last relax, sit back, and look each other in the eye, citizen to citizen, judging each other on nothing but the content of our character. [Laugh]
02 — Shirley Sherrod. Victim of the week, certainly in her own mind and the minds of the leftist commentariat, was Department of Agriculture functionary Shirley Sherrod.
This all started when speakers at an NAACP convention accused the Tea Party movement of hostility towards black people. Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart thought he'd counter that by showing hostility to white people on the part of NAACP speakers — not a sensationally difficult thing to do, given the NAACP's name and stated purpose. Breitbart posted a video clip showing Ms. Sherrod admitting to an NAACP audience that many years previously she had failed to give a white farmer all the help she could give him. The audience was murmuring and chuckling their appreciation.
Then we learned that this admission was part of a longer narrative, not made clear in the Breitbart clip, in which Ms. Sherrod described herself awakening to the fact that poor blacks and poor whites are alike victims of capitalist oppression.
In other words, Ms. Sherrod is a revolutionary radical; and like all revolutionary radicals, she believes that the fight against the oppressor trumps all other considerations. Racial, national, and sectarian animosities are just distractions from the true struggle.
Revolutionaries always talk like this. Karl Marx's view of national rivalries was that: "The proletariat has no homeland." Lenin liked to quote Bebel's remark that "Antisemitism is the socialism of fools." The Irish Republican movement has a revolutionary wing who deny that the Ulster conflict is between Protestant and Catholic, or Irish and British; it's a class struggle, they insist — just an episode in humanity's long march up into the sunlit high pastures of socialism and true brotherhood. Ayatollah Khomeini famously said he didn't care if Iran burned, so long as the cause of a worldwide Islamic revolution was advanced.
These remarks are all of a piece, and Ms. Sherrod's little address to the NAACP belongs with them. It was a call to revolutionary brotherhood. See, white people only act racist because the rich folk who secretly run the world have planted racism in their minds, to keep them down. Forget about black and white, she's saying: Let's eat the rich!
A look at Ms. Sherrod's background fills out the picture. She and her husband Charles are far-left radicals from way back. Charles Sherrod was an associate of Stokely Carmichael and Bill Ayers back in the 1960s. In recent years the Sherrods have turned their efforts to Obama-style "community organizing" — in their case, shaking down the Department of Agriculture for money on behalf of black farmers, including themselves, who they say suffered racial discrimination at the hands of department bureaucrats. The Sherrods themselves have received $300,000 of public money from one of these shakedown campaigns.
So: while you're forming opinions on whether Andrew Breitbart did due diligence, whether the NAACP shot themselves in the foot, whether the White House ordered Ms. Sherrod's firing, whether Bill O'Reilly committed journalistic malfeasance, and the other issues in the case, please don't lose sight of this key fact: Positions at all levels in the federal bureaucracy — positions dispensing power, patronage, and huge sums of public money — are being filled by radical revolutionary leftists like Shirley Sherrod.
That is a terrible and dismaying thing. Regardless of the nuances of this case, I hope Ms. Sherrod stays fired. I hope she never again controls the disbursement of public money or patronage power over public-sector jobs. People with her views, background, and connections should not be employed by the federal government.
03 — Is the Tea Party racist? Meanwhile, what about the NAACP's charge? Is the Tea Party movement ill-disposed towards black people?
Well, there are very few black people in the Tea Party movement, that's for sure. The reasons are not hard to figure. The Tea Party movement seeks to arrest the growth of government. It's a small-government outfit.
That's not a popular position among black Americans. Most black Americans like a big, paternalistic government. There are several reasons for this, a major one being that black Americans are mostly Radio Derb fans. They have thoroughly absorbed my message that one's main purpose in life should be to Get a Government Job.
The government is anxious to accommodate them. We learned that three years ago, when the U.S. Office of Personnel Management put out a report showing massive over-representation of African Americans in the federal workforce. All federal departments have hiring targets for minorities based on numbers in the workforce at large. That 2007 report showed that in the previous year, quote, "all 23 independent federal agencies exceeded their racial quotas for hiring blacks by dozens or even hundreds of percent," end quote. The record for any department was Court Services and Offender Services, who employed 808 percent more blacks than their affirmative action target. NASA came in last, but even they exceeded their black hiring quota by 49 percent.
So for this and other reasons, black Americans like big government. They also like Barack Obama: Gallup shows their approval rating of the president steady at 90 percent, even as approval among white Americans drops below 40 percent. The Tea Party movement is hostile to Obama's policies. So: What with one thing and another, it's no surprise there are few black people in the Tea Party movement.
It does not follow that the Tea Partiers are ill-disposed towards black people, though. Probably the majority sentiment among Tea Partiers towards the race issue is the one that is the majority sentiment among all white Americans: that fussing about race is bothersome and pointless and asking for trouble.
Tea Partiers see race as just irrelevant to the aims of their movement. Tea Partying just isn't about race, not even peripherally. Asked for an opinion on race, the strongly preferred answer of the Tea Partiers would be: "No opinion!"
Ah, but in the U.S.A. today, you are not allowed to have no opinion about race. You must have an opinion! And it must be the correct opinion! To have no opinion, no desire to have anything to do with the issue, would itself be racist!
And so the Tea Partiers are doing the full race grovel, appointing a black guy, David Webb, to head up the National Tea Party Federation and expelling radio host Mark Williams after he posted a very mildly offensive spoof piece about black people on his blog.
Now we hear that David Webb's subgroup, Tea Party 365, wants to have a meeting with the NAACP. He's got together a group of 13 Tea Partiers for the meeting; nine of them are black. I can hear the NAACP sneering already: "Why only nine?"
Doesn't anybody think this is all getting a bit out of hand? Where is it written that we all have to fall to our knees and bang our heads on the ground when some NAACP buffoon yells "racist"? What's the message here: That if your organization doesn't have a black person up front leading it, it must be a branch of the Klan?
The Republican National Committee did the same full-court grovel, putting Michael Steele in charge. How's that working out? Got African Americans flocking to join the Republican Party, did it?
How about Tea Partiers and Republicans just put their most capable people in charge, regardless of race, sex, or religion? What a revolutionary idea. I must be crazy even to suggest it.
04 — Government jobs. Having mentioned that Office of Personnel Management report, I may as well segue straight into Radio Derb's traditional exhortation to Get a Government Job.
The following snippets are all from the New York area, in fact they all appear in last Tuesday's issue of America's Newspaper of Record, the New York Post; but I think it's safe to say that similar stories can be found in any other state of the union.
First up, the school district of North Salem, 40 miles north of New York City. Small place in the far-outer suburbs, around 1,300 students in the school district. Some employees of the school district don't live in the district, so the district has no obligation to educate their kids. They've been educating them anyway, at a per-student expense to the taxpayers of $28,000 a year. There's a proposal up before the school board to stop this perk, and naturally it's being protested. Along the way we learn that more than half of the district's employees take home salaries over $100,000 — plus, of course, great pension and health-care benefits, that twelve-week summer vacation, and so on.
OK, now up to Albany, the state capital, and home of one of the most dysfunctional state legislatures in the nation. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who's responsible for much of that dysfunction, and who supplements his Assemblyman salary with a humongous retainer from the state's leading firm of ambulance-chasing trial lawyers, Silver had a senior aide named Patricia Lynch. Ms. Lynch left a few years ago to start a lobbying firm, trading on her close association with Speaker Silver. That firm pulled in $8.5 million last year lobbying the state government. We now hear that Silver's spokesman, Dan Weiller, is leaving to join the firm. His salary when working for Silver was $120,000 a year, but for sure he'll make more in the lobbying industry. (Remember when "industry" meant making stuff?)
Now back down to New York City, to meet retired New York City firefighter Lt. John McLaughlin. Radio Derb introduced you to this gent two weeks ago. He retired in 2001 after 20 years on the force with a disability pension of $86,000 a year, the disability being "Diminished lung capacity." Lt. McLaughlin occupies his time running marathons. Well, he put in 70 hours at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks and has filed an extra claim on that account. He stands to get $62,000. Stands, runs, whatever.
So, one more time, everybody: get yourself a government job. Or, if you can't manage that, get a job with one of those firms like Ms. Lynch's, that become rich beyond the dreams of avarice by lobbying government. Should you ever feel the urge to get a job making something, or providing some service that has nothing to do with the government, have someone give you a good hard slap across the face.
05 — Ground Zero mosque. Sarah Palin has come out against the building of a mosque near the Ground Zero World Trade Center site in New York City. It's just insensitive, she says, quite correctly. The lady has sound instincts.
You can argue the Ground Zero mosque issue from a number of viewpoints: Freedom of religion and assembly, the libertarian principle that government shouldn't stop anyone doing anything that isn't demonstrably harmful, and so on.
All well and good; but the Constitution is famously not a suicide pact. You may think the Ground Zero mosque is a harmless exercise of religious freedom, but to Muslim zealots around the world, it is a potent symbol of Islamic triumphalism, broadcasting for all to see the weakness and cowardice of Western civilization.
That's how they see it; that's why they're funding it. What, you thought the thing was to be paid for by nickels and dimes from pious widows? As if. We don't actually know where the funds are coming from, as the advocates for the mosque won't tell us; but we do know that Imam Feisal Rauf, the prime mover of the mosque project, is close to the Saudi religious establishment, and that's enough of a clue for me.
The World Trade Center attacks were, among other things, a gross insult to our nation. The Ground Zero mosque compounds the insult. That's the entire intention of the mosque promoters and their Saudi backers.
Freedom of association be damned; the authorities of New York city and state should stomp on this project.
06 — Home-grown terrorists. Speaking of Islam, I'm looking at a story on the ABC News website. Here are the names of the principals in the story: Zachary Chesser, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Faisal Shahzad, David Headley, Najibullah Zazi, Colleen LaRose, Bryant Vinas, Michael Finton. Here are their nationalities, in order: American, Jordanian, American, Nigerian, American, American, Afghan-born U.S. permanent resident, American, American, American.
That's what the story's about, headline: "American-Bred Terrorists Causing Alarm For Law Enforcement." Yes, we're growing our own Islamist terrorists, U.S. Grade A jihadis. How on earth did this happen?
The first name in that list, Zachary Chesser, is the latest to be charged in court with aiding terrorists. He's an all-American from northern Virginia, 20 years old, with a wife and child. Chesser seems to have converted to Islam two years ago. He's been trying to get to Somalia to join al-Shabab, the people thought to have carried out the Uganda bombings two weeks ago.
You can understand the appeal of militant Islam to the Hasans, the Shahzads, the Headleys — Headley took his mother's name; his Dad was from Pakistan — and the Zazis, who come from Muslim families with roots in Muslim nations, but what's the appeal for the Chessers, LaRoses, Vinases and Fintons? It's not a race thing: Chesser and Finton might be part African American, to judge from their pictures, but LaRose is blonde with green eyes, and Vinas has an Argentine father and a Brazilian mother.
It won't do to just say "alienation." The U.S.A.'s been turning out alienated youngsters for ever. Most work out their alienation in harmless personal ways, as the current president's mother did, but it's always been the case that a tiny minority turn to revolutionary violence. Philip Roth wrote a novel about it, American Pastoral.
But Islam? What's the appeal there? You have to learn Arabic, read the world's most boring book, and hang out with people whose habits, diet, and customs are wildly unfamiliar. Why would any American kid go to all the trouble?
A lot of them are, according to this news story. The FBI says there are more than ten thousand jihadist websites, 80 percent of them on U.S. servers.
Whatever the appeal is, this phenomenon would be a lot easier to deal with if we just stopped issuing visas to people from Muslim countries, revoked the visas of non-citizen Muslims and asked them to leave, and offered bribes to Muslim citizens to renounce their citizenship. All this is well within the range of normal, humane, and legitimate policy for a nation that wants to protect its citizens from harm. It is also politically unthinkable because it directly violates the ideological cult of "diversity."
Ideology trumps sensible policy. That's the sad, foolish condition we have gotten ourselves into.
07 — Federal unemployment benefits extended. If you've been out of work for more than six months and lost your state benefits, here comes Uncle Sam with an extension of federal behefits.
This is one of those you-can't-get-there-from-here scenarios. To pay for these benefits, the government takes money in the form of taxes from workers, savers, investors, and businesses. All that damps down the generation of new jobs, which aggravates the problem of joblessness.
The only way to break the vicious circle would be to slash taxes, stop benefits, curtail regulation, and enact tort reform. That would let loose the animal spirits of American business, and the economy would soon be roaring.
Unfortunately we have an administration that believes we are under-taxed, under-regulated, and insufficiently litigious, so none of the necessary things will get done, and the U.S.A. inches a little closer to the fiscal cliff edge. Public-sector employment is being kept up by the stimuluses, the private-sector jobless have unemployment checks from Uncle Sam, the national debt swells by another $34 billion, and socialism marches on to the destination it always reaches sooner or later: chaos and national ruin.
08 — Journolist helped Obama get elected. Well, well, who woulda thunk it: Key journalists in major media outlets were collaborating to rig the news to help Barack Obama get elected in 2008. Amazing. I could never have imagined.
This is the report on the website Daily Caller, who got their hands on an email group called Journolist, which is made up of several hundred journalists, academics, and lefty activists.
One thrust of this collaborative effort was to smother the Reverend Wright story. In April, 2008 there was a TV debate on ABC News, with Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos lobbing gentle little softball questions at Obama, some of them concerned with the ranting reverend. Sample from Gibson: Why had it taken Obama nearly a year to dissociate himself from Rev'm Wright? Sample from Stephanopolous, exact quote: "Do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do?"
This sugary sycophancy struck the Journolist cadres as unspeakably hostile. Richard Kim of The Nation called Stephanopolous, quote, "a disgusting little rat snake." Thomas Schaller, a columnist for the Baltimore Sun, proposed coordinating a statement expressing disgust at the questions Gibson and Stephanopoulos had posed to Obama.
Just to remind you here: Jeremiah Wright is a white-hating antisemitic proponent of race-obsessed Black Liberation Theology. Obama had sat in his pews for twenty years, given lavish donations to his church, and used a line from one of his sermons as the title of a book. And these journalists thought it outrageous that candidate Obama should be asked about any of this.
A candidate for president admires and praises and funds a preacher who says things like "White folks' greed runs a world in need," and it's not proper to ask him about the association?
The Journolist news manipulators had their way, of course, with much assistance from Republican candidate John McCain, who, jigging and jumping to the tune played by the lefty journalists, likewise ruled Rev'm Wright out of bounds as a proper subject for discussion. Brilliant strategic move there, John.
Sometimes our public life just looks really, really strange.
09 — Serpentine. The state of California has a $19 billion deficit hole it seems unable to plug … but never mind that. Tha California legislature has a much more pressing matter to deal with: the state rock.
Yes, California has a state rock — serpentine, a rather pleasant greenish form of magnesium silicate. Serpentine, however, sometimes contains traces of asbestos, and that makes the state rock politically incorrect, as asbestos, to the immense enrichment of trial layers, is implicated in a lung disease named mesothelioma.
The bill to strip serpentine of its title is in fact being put forward by a trial lawyers' front organization. Their idea is that once the serpentine-asbestos link is well established, there will be more people for them to sue.
Banks, for example. See, the greenish color of serpentine resembles the green of banknotes. For this reason, it's been a favorite rock from which to make bank counters. The last time a teller slid a few benjamins to you across the counter, they were likely sliding on polished serpentine. Perhaps they picked up traces of asbestos, who knows?
So now, if you get mesothelioma, you can sue the bank! It sounds far-fetched, but trial lawyers know their business, and they'll beat a path to your door. Willie Sutton robbed banks because, he famously explained, that's where the money is. Trial lawyers feel the same way.
Time was prospectors flooded into California seeking rocks with veins of gold in them. That's all past now. The rocks that will enrich you nowadays are the ones with veins of asbestos. [Clip of "Sacramento."]
10 — Signoff. I'm afraid we've run out of time here, listeners, so we must forgo our closing miscellany of brief items. I apologize for the lapse in efficiency. We're a bit short-handed this week as Ahmed, our sound engineer, has had to go over to Waziristan on legal business. I told him there are plenty of lawyers in New York, but Ahmed told me he wants to get help from his own kind. That's understandable, I guess.
OK, more next week from Radio Derb!
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]