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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb is on the air! This is your jurisprudentially genial host John Derbyshire with all the news that's fit to submit to lossy data compression.
The federal behemoth grows daily more ravenous and arrogant, ladies and gentlemen. This week it shamelessly bared its yellow fangs at us.
02 — Arizona law judgment. It is ever more clear that all the major institutions of our society — political, judicial, commercial, academic, and the media — are profoundly hostile to the idea that immigration and settlement should be regulated by laws. The utter lack of interest on the part of the federal apparatus in enforcing the current laws in those zones, is the most obvious manifestation of this hostility.
Arizona, which has been particularly plagued by illegal immigrants from Mexico, and which for the last 18 years has been getting lessons in what can be done from its own Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Arizona has passed its own carefully-crafted law to permit local law-enforcement officers to inquire about a suspect's immigration status, and report him to the federal authorities if he is resident here illegally.
Anticipating a constitutional challenge from Washington, the drafters of the law carefully tailored it to mirror federal law. Unlike the shameful policies of the "sanctuary cities," which spit on federal law, yet to which the federal authorities seem to have no objection at all, the Arizona law allows local law enforcement to assist constructively in the location and apprehension of illegal immigrants.
Apprehension of illegal immigrants is the very last thing that anyone in Washington wants, under either Democratic or Republican administrations. What they want, they bleat at you when asked, is, quote, "comprehensive immigration reform" that will, quote, "fix our broken immigration system."
Listeners, there is nothing broken about our immigration system. It allows some people to settle permanently here; it allows others in as guest workers, in at least a dozen categories ranging from fruit pickers to brain surgeons, and it allows still others to enter as non-working visitors or refugees. The only thing broken about the immigration system is the will of the authorities to operate it properly. Immigration law does not need "comprehensive reform"; it needs enforcing.
Well, this week as expected, the federal authorities won a small victory in their efforts to strike down the Arizona law. A federal judge, Susan Bolton, ordered several key provisions of the law suspended. The arguments presented in her ruling were ignorant and illiterate, as we have come to expect from the federal judiciary. For example, Judge Bolton seems not to know that federal law already requires alien residents and visitors to carry proof of their legal status, or that visitors from visa-waiver countries like Britain and Australia get their passports stamped on entry. She seems to think that for police to detain and question a suspect who may turn out to be innocent, is a violation of the Constitution — which, if it were the case, would bring all police work to a halt nationwide.
Most hilariously, she is worried that enforcement of the Arizona law might cause too many illegal residents to be found, overwhelming federal facilities. Sheriff Joe Arpaio long ago solved that problem with his "tent cities," but apparently that's another item in the very long list of immigration-related facts that Judge Bolton never heard of and could not be bothered to inform herself about. In any case, what on earth kind of constitutional argument against a law is it to say that the law might be too successful?
From the incoherent babblings of administration stooges like Susan Bolton, we see all too clearly that federal jurisprudence has little to do with the law, and everything to do with centralized enforcement of a state ideology — an ideology that privileges foreigners over citizens, criminals over police, law-school suck-ups and Washington bureaucrats over elected representatives. In rulings like this we see the the insane, nation-wrecking dogmas of "diversity" and open borders stomping gleefully on the most fundamental, most elementary principles of sovereignty, patriotism, citizenship, and national security.
This fight will go on and on — the fight between our elites, grimly determined that our laws not be enforced, and masses of ordinary citizens, who want our nation's borders watched and lawless squatters expelled. On the outcome of the fight will depend the future of our country — the country our children and grandchildren will live in.
03 — Charlie Rangel. With the recent departures of Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd for warmer climates, the title of chief poster boy for congressional term limits has fallen on the well-tailored shoulders of Representative Charles Rangel.
After 36 years in Congress, in 2007 Rangel ascended to the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for originating all tax legislation. He turned out to be not the ideal congresscritter for that particular position, as he had failed to pay taxes on rental income from property he owned in New York and the Dominican Republic. He'd also failed to fully report his income on financial disclosure forms to Congress, and violated numerous other House ethics rules when soliciting funds for a college facility named after him, and gamed the New York housing market, using his influence to dissuade civil suits against him by those at the receiving end of his gaming.
In a nutshell, the guy with more influence over national tax legislation than any other, is a sleazy crook. Well, Charlie's sins have been catching up with him. Earlier this year, as the coming November tsunami became visible on the horizon and the distant rumbling of it began to be audible, congressional Democrats began panicking. Charlie's sleazy ways were one focus of their panic. The genial, back-slapping Charlie used to be every congresscritter's friend; now they dodge behind pillars when they see him coming, leaving Charlie to roam the empty halls alone, lamenting, like the Elizabethan poet, that: "They flee from me that some time me did seek."
'Scuse me while I brush away a tear. There, that's better.
Under this pressure, Charlie took an indefinite leave of absence from his chairmanship of the tax committee in March. That did nothing to still the discontent. Last week a House ethics subcommittee declared that Charlie had violated a whole slew of rules and would have to face an ethics trial. Next thing we heard, Charlie was "dealing" — basically, trying for a plea bargain, where he'd admit to some things but not to others, sparing him some fines and humiliation, and sparing House Democrats the ugly spectacle of an ethics trial just as the November tsunami comes daily closer to shore.
As Radio Derb goes to tape, we hear that the plea bargaining has fallen through and Charlie will go to trial, probably in September, on 13 charges of ethics violations. Undoubtedly Charlie's Democratic colleagues would much rather he just resign a.s.a.p. so there will be time for everyone to forget about him before November.
Charlie's a fighter, though — he fought very bravely for his country in the Korean War — and it seems he wants to go down swinging. What does he care? The guy's 80 years old. And what do I care? If it hurts the Dems, I'm fine with it. Go get 'em, Charlie.
In related news, just 11 percent of the American public hold a positive view of Congress, a record low. You've got to think that even that 11 percent didn't understand the question correctly. Perhaps they thought were being asked about sexual congress, who knows?
The usual argument against term limits is that unelected but experienced bureaucrats would run rings around the permanently-inexperienced congresscritters. At this point, I'm ready to take the chance. How much worse could it possibly be?
04 — Chelsea's wedding. The big event here in New York state this weekend is the Clinton wedding. Chelsea Clinton is getting married to Marc Mezvinsky in Rhinebeck, up the Hudson River a ways, where the daughter and son-in-law of billionaire lefty George Soros have a spread.
The guest list, though not made public, is said to include a raft of lefty celebrity types: Barbara Streisand, Oprah Winfrey, Ted Turner, Steven Spielberg, Fidel Castro, and the like.
I did not get an invitation to the wedding, probably because of lingering hard feelings over a piece I wrote some years ago suggesting that the nation would be improved if all Clintons everywhere were to be hunted down and torn to pieces by wild dogs. People can be so sensitive. Come on, Chels: statute of limitations, you know?
The groom, Marc Mezvinsky, is the spawn — oops, sorry; I mean the son — of two congresscritters, both of the scaly, swamp-dwelling variety. His Dad, former representative Ed Mezvinsky, was convicted in 2003 on 31 charges of bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud. Fortunately Mr. Mezvinsky was released from federal prison in April 2008, so he'll be on hand to attend his son's nuptials.
The bride is of course the daughter of former president Bill Clinton, who was impeached for lying under oath, and Hillary Clinton, formerly a successful trader in commodity futures and world-renowned expert in legal billing procedures, and currently Secretary of State.
Thus the bride and groom both come from entirely political families, weaned and raised on public funds, none of their parents ever having done any kind of useful work or generated any wealth, and both their fathers having scoffed at the law.
Well, well, none of us is responsible for the characters of our parents, and both bride and groom seem to be gainfully employed, with no obvious intentions to inflict themselves on the public fisc, so I'm willing to be charitable. Good luck, Chelsea and Mazel Tov, Marc.
I would just say, though, to the Soros family who are apparently playing hosts to the happy couple, that when the guests have gone, you might want to count your spoons.
05 — Finance Bill poison pills. Two weeks ago we reported on the passing of the Finance Bill to add new regulations to the buying and selling of loans and securities.
We quoted the estimable Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, to this effect, 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.
Senator Shelby wasn't kidding. The more we learn about this bill, the more it looks like a combination of leftist redistribution racket, massive government-jobs program, and a further assault on credit standards.
It's all dressed up in the soothing language of "diversity" and "fairness," of course — what federal power-grab isn't nowadays? — but it's plain that what the bill is really all about is robbing Peter to give Paul a handout or a government job, or forcing Peter to give Paul a loan at unrealistic rates when Paul falls into some favored demographic category.
On the jobs front, the key language was put in by crazy bomb-throwing leftist Maxine Waters. It establishes an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion in every federal agency and sub-agency, responsible for, amongst other things, quote: "Partnering with organizations that are focused on developing opportunities for minorities," end quote. In plain language, listeners, the bill seeks to make the U.S. Treasury a wholly-owned subsidiary of ACORN.
The finance bill also contains innumerable other "diversity"-themed poison pills. It provides, for example, that the U.S. Treasury can liquidate banks that pose a threat to financial stability … unless the bank is minority or female-owned, or has the community-organizer stamp of approval from ACORN. Investors Business Daily, reporting on this, wittily but accurately called it "the 'too P.C. to fail' clause."
When Republicans on the Finance Committee tried to get this language removed from the bill, they were shouted down by Chris Dodd, and later by Barney Frank. Said Dodd, quote: "The same arguments were made against the Community Reinvestment Act," end quote.
So here's this Confederate general a few months after Gettysburg planning to advance his infantry in the open against heavy Union fire. When someone objects to the plan, he brushes them aside, replying scornfully that the same arguments were made against Pickett's Charge.
The people who said the Community Reinvestment Act would lead to disaster were right, Senator Dodd. It did lead to disaster. It was a major cause of the subprime meltdown. And now Congress is going to do it all over again!
As before, it's all in the name of "diversity." Mary Tudor said that when she was dead they'd find the word "Calais" engraved on her heart. When Chinese archeologists sift through the ruins of the U.S.A., they'll find the word "diversity" on every lump of fire-blackened concrete.
War is Peace
[Clip of "Internationale"]
06 — Afghanistan's diversity. Yes, diversity is our strength. It's also the Afghans' strength.
Afghans — that would be the inhabitants of Afghanistan, where we're fighting that vitally important war in defense our key national interests, like [crickets chirping] and [more crickets]. Well, here's an Associated Press report from Heidi Vogt, an imbed with allied forces in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Army, says Ms. Vogt, is still, after nine years and untold billions of dollars, made up mostly from the peoples of northern Afghanistan: Tajiks, Hazara, and Uzbeks. The Taliban are mostly Pashtuns from the South.
Ms. Vogt did a headcount of the 40 Afghan Army soldiers supporting the unit she's imbedded with in southern Afghanistan. Only two were Pashtuns, and one of them was the cook.
The C.O. of the unit says he wants to feel that the Pashtuns with whom he serves are trustworthy, but he's suspicious that any Pashtun might have ties to the Taliban. He hopes he won't always feel this way, Ms. Vogt tells us. Quote from him, quote: "Maybe someday the Pashtun people won't say 'We are Pashtun,' and the Tajik people won't say 'We are Tajik.' Instead everyone will say 'We are Afghan.'" End quote.
But that would be terrible. There'd be no diversity! Diversity is strength! If the Afghans lose their diversity, they'll lose their strength. They'll become just boring homogenous Afghans. Their nation will become weak, helpless, poverty-stricken, riven by discord, the plaything of foreign powers and religious extremists.
Let's all hope that the C.O. will be proved wrong, that the Afghans will hold on to their precious, strength-giving diversity.
07 — WikiLeaks. Last weekend some outfit called WikiLeaks, a sort of internet clearing house for whistleblowers and people who want to leak classified information, made public a huge document dump they called "Afghan War Diary." It included 91,000 emails and other reports concerning the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to the present day.
There are intelligence reports on the inner workings of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, diplomatic exchanges concerning our relations with the Afghan and Pakistan authorities, and lots of low-level military dispatches, some of them describing screw-ups and civilian casualties.
Those last have gotten the most publicity; but that's because the ones doing the publicizing so far have been left-wing newspapers like the New York Times and the London Guardian. The people chuckling gleefully over the WikiLeaks are in fact all America-hating lefties, so a patriotic conservative knows something deplorable has happened here.
The extremes of conservative anger so far have been expressed by Ralph Peters, who points out that the document dump includes names and addresses of Afghans who have helped us, sometimes secretly, and a wealth of information about our tactics, procedures, special-forces locations, and operational weaknesses. Once the jihadis have sifted through it all, the WikiLeaks will be costing Afghan and American lives, says Colonel Peters, correctly I believe.
Julian Assange, the Australian guy who founded Wikileaks, pooh-poohs all that, but Ralph Peters and other security experts seem to me to have a solid case. Somebody should go to jail here. I'm just as opposed to the Afghan war as some of these lefties, though for different reasons — and so, come to think of it, is Ralph Peters, though for other different reasons — but as long as we have guys there in harm's way, anyone who deliberately raises the harm risk needs finding and prosecuting.
Politically, the WikiLeaks don't help the Obama administration. The main strategy of the administration has been to let the Afghan war drag on, so long as it doesn't cause any distracting ripples in our domestic politics — as, for example, a swift withdrawal would do. Just let the fool thing rumble on, say the Obamarrhoids. Sure, it's pointless, but as long as nothing dramatic happens over there, we can get on with our domestic programs, which are what we really care about. And sure, it's expensive, but so what? We control the Treasury printing presses, don't we? What's another trillion or two? And sure, we lose a dozen or so soldiers every week; but they knew the risks when they signed up, didn't they?
This, I'm sure, is how the Afghan War is thought of by Obama and his people. Just let it roll along till we can pull troops out quietly; or, failing that, till the next administration comes along to deal with it.
The WikiLeaks disturb the quiet tranquillity of all that, though; and their consequences are unpredictable. Tranquillity — good. Unpredictability — bad. The Left may be chuckling over these leaks, but I bet the Obamarrhoids aren't happy. Not because of dead Afghans or dead Americans, you understand, but because the Wikileaks disturb their political calculations.
08 — Miscellany. In our closing miscellany, just the merest handful of brief items.
Item: A partial set of Winston Churchill's dentures was sold at auction in London for $24,000. We learn that the dentures were specially made to preserve that distinctive Edwardian lisp Chruchill affected; so for a politician to give fine-detail attention to his image is by no means a new thing. It's not just politicians, either. Like Churchill, I have had my own dentures specially made to preserve the mellifluous diction Radio Derb listeners know and love. If I take my dentures out, I sound totally different. I'll show you … just a minute while I take them out … [Obama clip] Isn't that amazing?
Item: There's been much to-ing and fro-ing this past few weeks about how bad things really are in the Gaza Strip. According to one faction, the evil Israelis have reduced the poor Gazans to beggary, denying them not only luxuries but even the essentials of life, leaving them naked and sick, grubbing for roots in a windswept wasteland of Israeli-caused devastation. Other reports have said that things are actually pretty good in Gaza. Here's a report in that latter category, and the newsy thing is, it's from an Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram. Now, the Egyptians are blockading Gaza, too, so you want to take this with a modest pinch of salt, but it does agree with reports from more disinterested observers. Says the Egyptian journalist Ashraf Abu al-Houl, quote: "A sense of absolute prosperity prevails … the sight of the merchandise and luxuries filling the Gaza shops amazed me," end quote. Of course, nobody actually works to generate this prosperity. It's fallout from the United Nations aid rackets and Hamas smuggling operations. The wealth isn't evenly spread, either. Most of it goes to the Hamas honchos and U.N. middlemen. Gaza is, in other words, a pretty standard Arab state: half gangster racket, half welfare slum. What a surprise.
Item: Nothing's as newsworthy as a good disaster. We all enjoy it when the news makes our flesh creep. The end of the world is at hand! we murmur to ourselves gleefully, relishing the thought that we won't have to pay next month's mortage or go to that boring conference in Cincinnati. The world's a big place, though, and for all our gadgets we're still a pretty puny species. Not altogether surprising, then, that 100 days after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the water around the Gulf is almost entirely clear. Nobody can find any oil in the water. Quote here in Time magazine from Marine scientist Ivor van Heerden, who is not a BP employee, quote: "There's just no data to suggest this is an environmental disaster … There's a lot of hype, but no evidence to justify it." It's a good thing then that we did not take the advice some were offering a month ago, to nuke the borehole. As a geologist friend of mine pointed out, the seabed in the Gulf is limestone, which is to say calcium carbonate; so if you nuke it you get quicklime and a whole lot of carbon dioxide. Quicklime is nasty dangerous stuff: the British Navy once destroyed a French fleet with it. So a nuke would have turned the sea bed to dangerous poison and the sea itself to seltzer. Not a good move. Well, thanks to Mother Nature for clearing up another one of our messes. That's what mothers are for, to clean up kids' messes.
Item: Birthday news: Daniel Radcliffe, the Harry Potter actor, is 21, Monica Lewinsky is 37, and singer Tom Jones just turned 70. 70! Remember when he used to sing "What's New, Pussycat?" and all the girls in the audience would throw their knickers at him? Seems like yesterday. Eheu fugaces, Postume, Postume, labuntur anni, nec pietas moram rugis et instanti senectae adferet indomitaeque morti. Or to put it colloquially: We are doomed.
09 — Signoff. There we have it, folks, another week slipped away. Summer too is slipping away, and fall will soon be upon us. I hope to see some of you on our post-election cruise in November, I believe we still have some cabins available — you can check on the website. Several readers have asked whether my research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy will be coming along with me. I did originally plan to bring them, but a close family member persuaded me against the idea. [Chinese female voice] Yes, Honey, I'm almost through here …
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]