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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Greetings, listeners. Radio Derb is on the air, and this is your paradisiacally genial host John Derbyshire with news of the hour. Let's begin this week with some heroes.
02 — Heroes of the week. A million or so citizens of Missouri went out in 102 degrees of heat Tuesday to vote in primaries. Also on the ballot was a referendum on President Obama's health-care "individual mandate," the clause in the health-care bill that forces all citizens to buy health insurance. Seventy-one percent of Missouri voters told the president and Congress to stop dictating their health-care choices. Seventy-one percent of a million is 710 thousand, and those 710 thousand Missourians are my heroes of the week.
I'll add one more, an unlikely one I admit. This is Pat Caddell, lifetime Democrat, liberal, and former top aide to Jimmy Carter. What's a guy like that doing on a foam-flecked reactionary radio show like this? Well, he said some good stuff the other day, in exchanges with Martha MacCallum of Fox News, exchanges which I'm about to replay here for your listening pleasure.
I've squished down Martha MacCallum's side of the exchanges here. No disrespect to the lady, who is a good journalist and interviewer, a seasoned pro. I just want you to concentrate on what Pat's saying. There's just been mention of some new poll numbers. Roll the tape, please.
[Caddell] People are more pessimistic, more concerned about their own financial situation than they've been. It shows that 54 percent — a solid majority — believe that President Obama's policies have not helped the economy come out of recession And the thing I was stunned by: 39, only 39 percent say they agree that the president saved the country from the brink with his policies. That's the whole basis, that's the entire basis of this administration's policy …
I can't improve on that and I won't try. I'll just leave it ringing in your ears. I'll only add that you should indeed read the Dorothy Rabinowitz piece that Pat Caddell refers to. It's on the internet. Just google "Liberal Piety and the Memory," just do a google search with that phrase in quotes.
03 — Ground Zero mosque. One of my research assistants has just handed me the following press release from some organization calling itself Muslim Americans Against the Ground Zero Mosque. I'll read you the whole thing, long quote:
Muslim Americans Against the Ground Zero Mosque has been founded to represent the many thousands of Muslim citizens of the U.S.A. who oppose the building of a mosque close to the Ground Zero site in New York City. We understand that under the liberty that all Americans enjoy, private landowners and private organizations have every right to enter into contracts without government interference. However, we understand, as the movers of the mosque project seem not to understand, that it is not always wise to do something one has a right to do.
That's the end of the press release. [Pause] [Laughter] ["Just screwin' with ya …"] Yes, I was just screwin' with ya, listeners. I made it all up. There was no such press release, and there is no such organization as Muslim Americans Against the Ground Zero Mosque.
The reason there is no such organization is that there are no Muslim Americans against the mosque. Well, a few scattered individual voices have been raised, by Muslims like Shoaib Choudhury at the Hudson Institute and the gent quoted in Dorothy Rabinowitz's aforementioned article, but these are regarded as crazy heretics by their co-religionists. Muslims want the mosque; or, if this is not the case, Muslims opposed to the mosque are awfully slow making their voices heard. If, as we are told, the mass of Muslims are decent, considerate people who just want to live in amity with the rest of us, why do we never hear from them in situations like this?
OK, once again please: Will someone spell out for me the advantages Western countries have enjoyed by allowing mass settlement of Muslims?
04 — British poll on Islam. Few nations have been as hospitable to Muslims as Britain this past fifty years. There are more than two million Muslims settled in the U.K. and close to two thousand mosques.
How do the native British feel about this? Not very happy, according to a recent poll reported this week in the Guardian, a left-wing London newspaper. Quote: "Three-quarters of non-Muslims believe Islam has provided a negative contribution to British society, according to a new poll," end quote.
The study was done by the Islamic Education and Research Academy. They tried out statements like "Muslims are terrorists" and "Islam oppresses women" on ordinary non-Muslim Brits, and got hefty majorities in agreement. The Islamic pollsters manage to be upbeat about their results, though. They say that the poll should inspire Muslims to go out and proselytize more — to, quote, "a new realm of possibility for people to comprehend Islam."
Yeah, well, lots of luck with that, guys. The poll showed that 60 percent of those cloth-eared Brits said they preferred not to receive any information about religion, while 77 percent did not agree that Muslims should do more to teach people about their faith. Bottom line: Brits don't much like Islam, don't want to be forced to like it, and wish it would go away. One individual respondent, I am sure speaking for many, when asked how he felt about Muslims in Britain, said: "If I had my way I'd kick them all out of here."
This, please note, is after fifty years of indoctrination by the proselytizers of "diversity": of Muslim peers in the House of Lords, Muslim admirals in the Royal Navy, Muslim characters introduced into popular TV soap operas — everything but a Muslim Archbishop of Canterbury, and you've got to think that that's on some politician's to-do list over there.
Still, still, after all these decades of browbeating and propaganda, the Brits are telling pollsters they wish they'd been left alone with their comfortable Britishness. Boy, this multiculturalist project is working out well, isn't it?
05 — Homosexual marriage in California. Just as the Brits would much rather have been left alone with their familiar Britishness, without having two million people of utterly alien faith and folkways dumped on them, so Californians would rather be left alone with the familiar institution of marriage as a union of one man with one woman, as a well-tried social unit for the generation and nurturing of children.
Leaving people alone is not what we do in the modern progressive state. If we did, it wouldn't be progressive, would it? So here's this federal judge, Vaughn Walker, striking down as "unconstitutional" California's Proposition 8 banning homosexual marriage, passed by the voters in November 2008.
Just as Muslims, a minority regarded with some level of suspicion and mistrust by great numbers of their fellow-citizens, would be wise to show some sensitivity to majority opinions, so homosexuals, whose private behavior is disgusting to great numbers of their fellow-citizens, should try to avoid making arrogant demands on the rest of us, whatever they think their rights are in law.
As if! The rule of modern society is: The minority is always right, and if the majority disagrees, they are racists, or bigots, or some other nasty thing, and they all need to rectify their thinking.
This is not, when you think about it, a terrifically smart position for a minority to take; but it's the one they always do take, as minorities, according to current ideology, are exempt from all rules about restraint, forbearance, courtesy, consideration, and respect for other people's feelings.
06 — Judge Walker's ruling. Just take a close look at the language in Judge Walker's ruling to see the sneering arrogance of our ruling class.
Quote: "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians." End quote. The proverbial visitor from Mars, reading this, would assume that a right long enjoyed was to be abrogated by Proposition 8. People have been doing this for ever! Now you want to stop them doing it! Yet in fact, the "right" that Judge Walker says is being denied was not even thought of by any human being — well, excluding a few outliers like the Emperor Nero — until about 15 years ago.
If there is widespread moral disapproval of changes to a social custom that has served well for ten thousand years, wouldn't that be a "proper basis" for not changing the custom? That is of course a conservative point of view, not available to Judge Walker, who has been to law school.
Another quote: "Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples," end quote. Well, yes, but that's what most people actually believe: more exactly, we believe that opposite-sex couple-dom is more worthy of state recognition and protection than same-sex couple-dom, regardless of what we may think of any particular couple.
We also believe that monogamy is more worthy of state recognition and protection than polygamy, polyandry, group marriage, or zoophilia. On what grounds would Judge Walker oppose state recognition of those? Or, in the language he would prefer, how can the denial of rights to polygamists etc. be properly based on mere moral disapproval?
What currently unimagined rights will be found beried in the Constitution in the next fifteen years by these high priests of the state ideology? If Roman Emperors are to be our guide, well, one of Nero's predecessors married his sister. Would "moral disapproval alone" be an "improper basis on which to deny rights" to Californians who desired to follow his example? Whaddya say, Judge?
07 — Fourteenth Amendment fuss. There's a kind of glum satisfaction you get when an issue you've been interested in for years makes it to the headlines.
It took me seventeen years, 1985-2002, to get from H-1B visa to U.S. citizen. When you're involved in a process for seventeen years it gets your interest. By the turn of the century I was thoroughly familiar with the highways and byways of U.S. immigration policy, including the Anchor Baby business — tourists and illegal aliens having babies in the U.S.A. so they could claim birthright citizenship for the child under the 14th Amendment.
Contrariwise, native citizens of a country who never have to deal with its immigration laws usually have only the foggiest ideas about them. When you tell people about the birthright citizenship business they are surprised, and often very angry. Americans are proud of their country and treasure its citizenship. When they hear that foreigners can get that citizenship for their kids by a ruse, they are outraged.
Rasmussen took a poll back at the beginning of June, asking people if they thought the children of illegal immigrants should have citizenship. Fifty-eight percent said no. Only 33 percent said yes, which is the current position in law.
Well, with the prominence given to illegal immigration by the Arizona case, birthright citizenship is being publicly discussed, for the first time I can remember. In fact, Congress-wise it's a growth point. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip Jon Kyl have called for Congress to examine the issue. Sen. Lindsey Graham has said he may propose a Constitutional amendment to settle the matter, since the 14th Amendment didn't address it clearly, and immigration didn't even come up in the debates on the 14th, whose purpose was to secure citizenship for freed slaves. John McCain and Jeff Sessions have chimed in with support for a congressional inquiry.
You have to wonder about the sincerity of any of this. Birthright citizenship is an obviously lousy idea — other countries have been revoking it at a fair clip this past few years — but given the ambiguity of the 14th, and a legal environment patroled by leftist fanatics like Susan Bolton and Vaughn Walker, a Constitutional amendment probably is necessary. It's an awfully hard thing to do, though, and politicians who call for a Constitutional amendment on anything are usually just looking for cheap grace — easy points with supporters backed by the certainty they'll never actually have to deliver anything.
You have to be doubly suspicious when the names of recent warriors for amnesty and open borders are on the list: that would be McCain and Graham.
Here's what Radio Derb thinks. Instead of impossible hopes for a Constitutional amendment, just change the law to stop chain migration. That's the ability of citizens to sponsor foreign relatives for settlement. Without chain migration, the baby's citizenship is only worth anything to the baby. With chain migration, it has value to the baby's entire extended family. Chain migration for anything other than spouse and children is anyway a terrible idea. We should select foreigners for settlement on the basis that they will add something desirable to our country, not on the basis that they are somebody's parent or sibling. In a given year, two-thirds of settlement visas are issued to people who have no other claim but that they are related to a citizen. That's a really stupid way to select immigrants.
If you stop chain migration, obstetric tourism loses most of its point, and illegal immigration becomes somewhat less attractive. It can be done by law — no Constitutional amendment required.
Also by law, we could insist that if anyone here illegally has a baby in a U.S. hospital, she and the baby should be deported as soon as they are fit to travel.
Best of all, of course, would be not to let illegals settle here in the first place. For that, we don't even need new laws: illegal immigration is already illegal. Just enforce the people's laws.
08 — Middle class blues. There's been a tiny flurry of articles about the disappearing American middle class.
The one that was most read was Edward Luce's in the Financial Times. You can read it on ft.com, title: The crisis of middle-class America.
Luce goes visiting with two middle-middle American families, one in Minnesota making $70 thousand a year, one in Virginia making about eighty. Those incomes are actually pretty good: U.S. median household income was $52 thousand in 2008, presumably a bit lower now. Yet these folk are having trouble making ends meet. Mortgage payments on properties whose value has cratered; kids moving back home because even with jobs, they can't afford to rent; hopes of a leisured retirement fading away; worries over health care.
Worst is the stagnation. Nothing seems to get better. That median household income is barely any higher than it was in 1973, when I first landed on these shores. And whatever your income is, you're stuck with it: income mobility is now lower in the U.S.A. than in most European countries.
Here's another article, from the August 1st New York Post, title So Long, Middle Class. Basically it's just a list of depressing statistical factlets.
And so on, and so on. It's depressing stuff to read. The underlying reasons are a combination of big historical forces we couldn't do much about, and things we have done to ourselves through foolishness.
On the big-historical-forces side, fifty years ago there were a lot of things in productivity, ingenuity, and economic dynamism, that only America was doing. Now a lot of the rest of the world has learned how to do those things, and their workers are still a lot cheaper than ours. Garment workers in China make 86 cents an hour. In Cambodia it's 22 cents an hour. Is what you can do worth 120 times what a Cambodian can do? If you want $52,000 a year, it'd better be.
A lot of the decline has been stuff we've done to ourselves, though. Fifty years ago we had a comparatively small, efficient federal government, that didn't impose on the economy more than necessary. Now our federal government is just as bloated, corrupt, arrogant, and inefficient as everyone else's. In fact it's worse than many. Switzerland's median household income is eighteen percent higher than ours, in part because Switzerland has practiced true federalism, keeping its central government under control. Can you name the president of Switzerland? See what I mean? And then there have been some gross follies we've inflicted on ourselves through sentimental messianism, like the 1965 Immigration Act. It's surely no accident that the great stagnation started in the early 1970s, just as the consequences of that Act were beginning to be felt.
Things won't be getting any better for us middle class drudges. The U.S.A. is slipping down into a classic sort of Latin American model: a small class of super-rich, a vast, sullen mass of poor people, not much in between. I'm glad I was here in 1973, at the tail end of the American dream. At least I have memories.
09 — Miscellany. What shall we finish up with this week, listeners? I know — let's have a miscellany of brief items!
Item: Elena Kagan was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court on a full vote of the Senate. So we now have another dimwitted, paint-by-numbers Lefty on the court, a person who never had an original thought in her life, nor any other kind of thought that would be out of place in a New York Times editorial. Look for lots of wonderful new rights to be discovered buried in the Constitution — things that mysteriously escaped the attention of everyone for 221 years. Look for lots of ingenious new constitutional reasons to be found for the further expansion of federal power into the lives of citizens. Look for further judicial support for favoring foreigners over citizens, minorities over majorities, the freakish over the normal, and notions thought up last week over principles that have served us well for centuries. Oh well, look on the bright side: We might have got Bernardine Dohrn.
Item: Social Security will be in the red this year, for the first time since Alan Greenspan's 1983 overhaul. The system will pay out more than it takes in. Not to worry, though. Quote from the Washington Times, quote: "The deficit will last through 2011, then an improving economy will put it back into balance for three years, then it will dip back into the red in 2015," end quote. Oh yeah, I'd forgotten about that improving economy after 2011. Let's all look forward to that!
Item: News from Iran here: Someone tried to blow up Li'l Squinty. The poison dwarf was riding in a motorcade through a provincial city when someone lobbed something at the procession. Just what, exactly, is unclear. Arab TV stations reported a big bang and a lot of people wounded. Iran's own TV, though, claims that it was just a firecracker set off to celebrate Squinty's visit. During a speech a few days previous to the incident, however, Squinty had claimed that Israel had, quote, "hired mercenaries to assassinate me." Well, whatever this was, it wasn't an Israeli assassination attempt. When Mossad decides it's time for you to go, Squinty, you'll know it … just for a fraction of a second.
Item: Case in point: The killing in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a leader of the terrorist group Hamas. Radio Derb reported on the killing February 19th, calling it, quote, "a complicated and brilliant operation that left us terrorist-haters chuckling with glee," end quote. At least 30 people were involved in the rubout, traveling to Dubai by separate routes on forged passports issued by Britain, Ireland, France, Australia, and Germany. Britain and Australia have actually expelled Israeli diplomats thought to have carried out the passport forgeries. Now an Israeli citizen, Uri Brodsky, thought to have been involved in forging the German passports, has been arrested in Poland and is being extradited to Germany. Lots of luck holding him, fellas. Like I said, Squinty, when Mossad decides to get you, they won't be coming in with firecrackers.
Item: Now be honest: Had you ever heard of Wyclef Jean before this week? No, me neither. The only Wycliffe I knew was the bloke who translated the Bible back in the fourteenth century, and got excommunicated for his pains. His doctrines were so heretical, it was said they caused an earthquake. Anyway, this is not that Wycliffe, this is a fellow who plies his trade as a Hip Hop singer. Whatever Hip Hop is, a lot of people must like hearing it sung, because we're told that when Wyclef showed up to file election papers at a government office in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, dozens of supporters greeted him. See, Wyclef Jean is running for President of Haiti, the country of his birth. Why would anyone want to be president of Haiti, a crime-addled welfare slum prone to earthquakes much worse then the one that hit England in 1382? Let's see if we can find a clue in the BBC report. Quote: "If he wins, he will preside over the spending of billions of dollars in international aid for reconstruction." No, that can't possibly be anything to do with it. I'll have my research assistants continue looking.
Item: Here's an illegal-immigration story that's a couple of weeks old, but someone brought it to my attention and I can't resist is. The dateline says Shakopee, Minnesota. Yes, they have a problem with illegals up there on Route 169 in Gopherland. Who doesn't, nowadays? They've got gangs, and there was a gang-related stabbing. Following that, the local county attorney decided to tally up the costs imposed by illegals on taxpaying citizens and lawful residents in his jurisdiction. His prize exhibit so far: $50,000 of public funds spent to provide an illegal immigrant with a penis pump implant. Not sure what that is, not sure I want to know. What ever it is, the illegal immigrant was so pumped up by his success at scamming fifty grand from the U.S. taxpayers, he — I'm assuming this is a "he" — he subsequently committed a $27,000 identity-theft crime. What I want to know is, when we deport the guy, do we get our penis pump back?
10 — Signoff. Well, I hope that's left you all pumped up out there in listener-land. We're way over time here, so I'll sign off hastily, pausing only to assure you that there will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]