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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. Ompama. Ompama. Did you know, listeners, that our President's name is written in modern Greek as "Ompama"?
There's some good reason for it — apparently the modern language doesn't have a "b" sound — but it still strikes me as strange. Ompama. Sounds like a brass band warming up: OM-pa-ma, OM-pa-ma, …
But here, I shouldn't be making fun of a man's name when he's down. And he is the President. Let's have a little respect, Derb — which I guess is spelt "Dermp" in modern Greek.
OK, this is Radio Dermp on the air, here to bring you all the week's news. This is your orthographically genial host, John Derbyshire, and here we go.
02 — Deficit Commission report. It is dawning on legislators and governments all over the Western world that the extravagant, ever-expanding welfare states of the baby-boom era are not sustainable in an age of sub-replacement fertility rates and healthy 85-year-olds.
Britain is slashing social spending, even considering denying welfare benefits to people who won't work — good grief! France is raising the retirement age for state pensions and laying off government employees. Ireland is cutting public-sector salaries and everything else too in an effort to prevent a bailout from the EU.
Even the Scandinavians are joining in the slashfest. In fact they're been ahead of the rest of us: Did you know that government spending in Sweden, as a percent of GDP, is now ten percent lower than it was in 1993?
Well, President Obama set up a bipartisan commission to seek ways to reduce our colossal budget deficit. They just delivered their report, with their recommendations.
Gradual raising of the retirement age to 69; double federal gas tax; increase Medicaid copays; eliminate the mortgage interest deduction; reduce farm subsidies; end congressional earmarks; close foreign military bases; cut the federal workforce.
Boy, they must have been listening to Radio Derb.
This stuff is so basic and sensible that there is of course no chance any of it will be done. When Nancy Pelosi saw the report she shrieked and jumped on a kitchen chair, clutching her skirts. After smelling salts had been administered, Nancy gasped that the commission report was, quote, "simply unacceptable."
Current administration policy is in fact for an across-the-board increase of 1.4 percent in the pay of all two million plus federal employees. That will go through in the lame duck session that starts on Monday, if Republicans can't stop it. Obama wants to be where Sweden was in 1993, even though the Swedes don't want to be there any more.
And yes, if you read the newspapers last week, you did indeed learn that the number of federal employees earning more than $170,000 was 994 in June, versus 214 when Obama took office; in other words, it's better than quadrupled in less than two years.
This is a long-term trend. Quote from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, quote:
Since year 2000, federal pay and benefits have increased 3 percent annually above inflation compared with 0.8 percent for private workers.
So nobody in the administration, and probably not many in Congress, gives a fig about this deficit-reduction report. Our government will just lurch forward like the proverbial drunken sailor till it falls off the dock. We'll just go on printing money and fudging the numbers somehow until we sink into some awful catastrophe — hyperinflation, probably. Then everyone will moan about how nobody saw it coming.
Well, here's me seeing it coming.
03 — Dollars for Palestine. As an example of the insouciance our public officials display towards our hard-earned money, here's Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, pledging $150 million to the so-called Palestinian Authority, a collection of gangsters and psychopaths who lie in bed at night dreaming of killing Jews.
That's an extra $150 million, by the way; we've already given these bandits $450 million this year, most of it sluicing straight through to their Swiss bank accounts.
What's the extra $150 million for? To help close their budget gap, according to Mrs Clinton. Quote from her:
It will support our work together to expand Palestinians' access to schools, clinics and clean drinking water in both the West Bank and Gaza.
Yeah, I'm sure they'll be so grateful. They'll really love us now. Isn't that what we all yearn for, to have all the crazy rabbles of the Muslim world love us? Even if it costs a few trillion dollars? Course it is.
Does Mrs Clinton know what kind of things they teach to the kiddies in those Palestinian schools she's paying for? The schools, I mean of course, that she's ordering you and me to pay for? "Schools, clinics and clean drinking water"? Those are basic services the Palestinians should be providing for themselves — and would be, if they weren't so busy making bombs, and if they hadn't been sapped of all productive energy by sixty years of sucking on the United Nations welfare teat.
Why should I and my neighbors pay for these things? What's in it for us? I've got my property tax bill coming due, to pay for schools and clinics in the town where I live. Isn't that pretty much the end of my obligation to pay for schools and clinics? And if I did pick on people in some foreign country to help out with their schools and clinics, why would I choose people who hate me?
This so-called Palestinian Authority is nothing but a welfare slum, populated by people who've forgotten how to work, and who hate us and our civilization, and who probably regard us, when they're not actively hating us, as the suckers of the world — a point on which they are quite correct.
These Palestinians are Arabs, aren't they? Well then, let their brother Arabs take care of them. The Saudis, Kuwaitis, and Gulf Emirates have more money than they know what to do with — let them support the wretched, useless, barbarous Palestinians. What business is it of ours?
To hell with the Palestinians. The more money we give them, the more they hate us. Let them shift for themselves and build themselves a nation, as the other peoples of the world have done.
We're closing their budget gap? Who's going to close ours? We've got a $1.3 trillion deficit: Are the Palestinians going to help us out with that? Is anyone?
The people of Hong Kong, who didn't even have a nation, created the world's most vibrant economy on a bunch of bare rocks that even has to import its water. Let the Palestinians do the same, if they can spare the time from rattling their begging bowls, firing rockets at Israeli towns, and whining about their misfortunes.
04 — Absimilation. Readers of that wonderful, sapient, and prescient book We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism will recall the author's attempt to float the word "absimilation." Quote:
The English word "assimilation" derives from the Latin prefix ad-, which indicates a moving towards something, and the same language's verb simulare, "to cause a person or thing to resemble another." You can make a precisely opposite word using the prefix ab-, which marks a moving away from something. Many immigrants of course assimilate to American society. I think I have. I hope I have; I've tried to. Many others, however, especially in the second and following generations, absimilate.
Well, here's a paper from Britain's Royal Economic Society on education, earnings and employment among first- and second-generation non-European immigrants in France, Germany, and Britain. Guess what: absimilation!
Employment gaps for men in Germany and the UK seem quite similar for first and second-generation immigrants but France has a number of groups in which the second-generation immigrants seem to be doing worse than the first.
This isn't, of course, the only evidence of absimilation. The spread of Islamic head-coverings, creeping Sharia, radicalization of young Muslims, the colossal dropout rates of Hispanics in the U.S., it's all telling the same story. Modern multiculural welfare states just don't do assimilation, probably can't.
Europeans at least are beginning to wake up. Horst Seehofer, who is the leader of the Christian Democratic Union Party (CSU) in Germany, part of the coalition government running that nation, told an interviewer last month that, quote:
It is obvious that immigrants from Turkey and Arab countries face more difficulty integrating into German society than other immigrants. We don't need additional immigrants from "foreign cultures"
That's right, pal. Democracy, multiculturalism, mass immigration — pick any two of three.
05 — George W. Bush's memoir. uesday this week saw the official release of George W. Bush's memoir Decision Points.
I'm going to admit right here that I find W hard to take. I supported him in 2000 because he was obviously a better choice for President than Al Gore. In 2004, by which time I was a citizen and could vote, I actually voted for W, but faute de mieux again, because he was so obviously a much better choice than the appalling John Kerry.
The negatives were already racking up by that time. The punitive strikes against Afghanistan and Iraq were turning into everlasting missionary endeavors; the 2003 Medicare Act had been muscled through in a cloud of lies about its cost; No Child Left Behind was turning U.S. education into a vast exercise in cooking the books; and Bush, in violation of his oath of office, was failing to enforce the people's laws on immigration.
From party loyalty — I was, and still am, a registered Republican — I did my best to summon up enthusiasm for the guy, but I found it hard, and it got harder. By 2006, when Bruce Bartlett brought out his book Impostor, accusing Bush of betraying conservatism, I was ready to agree, and by the time Bush stepped down in 2009 I was muttering: "Don't let the door hit ya on the way out, pal."
I haven't yet read Decision Points but from the advance notices it's not going to make much of a dent in my Bushophobia. A big theme of the book, apparently, is the way Bush's faith helped shape his policies. His push for global AIDS relief, for example, was inspired by his visit to a Ugandan clinic, which put him in mind of the biblical injunction that much is required from those to whom much has been given.
That's nice: but Bush seems not to understand the difference between private giving from one's own pocket, and the giving of other people's money that governments can do by taxation. So as a result of W's spiritual urges, which he was of course free to discharge on his own dime, the U.S. taxpayer is now on the hook for billions of dollars for ever in transfers to AIDs sufferers in poor countries — most of them people who got the disease from reckless sexual promiscuity.
I have no problem with anyone having spiritual urges, often wish I could have some myself; but a politician has no right to translate his spiritual urges into burdens upon his fellow citizens, for the benefit of irresponsible people in remote places. That's wrong; and Bush, in his smug self-righteousness, doesn't even know it's wrong.
As well as being very carefree about spending your money and mine, the man seems to have no sense of proportion. In an interview with Matt Lauer for NBC, Bush declared that the worst moment of his Presidency was when Kanye West called him a racist for not doing enough about Hurricane Katrina.
That is an astonishing thing to say. The Bush Presidency was bracketed by two tremendous disasters: the 9/11 attacks (which, let's remember, came less than a year after W, in a Presidential debate with Al Gore, called for relaxations of airport security to prevent "racial profiling" of Arabs), and the financial collapse of 2008. There were some lesser national calamities along the way. And the worst moment for George W. Bush was hearing some bubblehead pop singer call him a racist? Ye gods!
Any conservative in public life gets called a racist twice a day and three times on Sundays. Nobody with a lick of sense pays any attention to that stuff. Did Bush really not know this? Does he really, actually, give a flying fandangle what Kanye West thinks about anything? Does anybody? For crying out loud, W.
06 — Cameron defies the ChiComs. It was Veterans Day this past Thursday, known as Armistice Day in Britain, where it evokes much feeling.
Every nation has a special place in its heart for its bloodiest war. For the U.S.A. that would be the Civil War; for the Brits, it is World War One. Still today, 92 years after the guns fell silent, there's a steady market in Britain for books and TV shows about that war — "the Great War," as people of the older generation still call it. Kids in school read the poems of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon; and on Armistice Day every patriotic Brit wears a poppy in his lapel, a custom inspired by John McCrae's poem, opening lines:
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Now as it happens, British Prime Minister David Cameron spent Armistice Day on an official visit to Peking, the capital of communist China. He insisted on wearing his Armistice Day poppy, and this caused a diplomatic embarrassment of the minor sort. Poppy; opium poppy; Opium Wars; humiliation of China by Britain; you see?
The ChiComs told him to be a good barbarian and remove the poppy out of respect for Chinese feelings, which as we all know are exquisitely sensitive about things that happened 150 years ago. Far worse things that happened fifty years ago, like the great Mao famine, or forty years ago, like the Cultural Revolution, have been flushed down the memory hole.
I would have expected Cameron to cave, since he hasn't shown much evidence of possessing a spine up to now, but to the man's credit he held on to his poppy. Cameron just went up a few ticks in my estimation.
Mind you, if that had been me, I would have said: "OK, I'll drop the poppy, provided you let me wear a necklace of skulls to commemorate the sixty million or so Chinese people murdered by the Chinese Communist Party." I wonder how that would have gone over.
I would also have pointed out some historical facts the ChiComs leave out when using the Opium Wars to whip up nationalism among their people. The fact, for example, that opium was grown and consumed in China from as far back as the first century a.d., when Buddhist monks brought it in from India; that emperors of the Ming dynasty in the 16th and 17th centuries received an annual tribute of 300 pounds of opium from Thailand; that a great many Chinese merchants and officials got very rich helping the 19th-century British to bring in opium; and that Britain's objective in the Opium Wars was to open China to normal trade on a lawful basis instead of being stuck in opium trafficking, which was widely disapproved of by the increasingly moralistic British of the Reform era.
Well, a nod of appreciation here from Radio Derb to Dave Cameron for standing up to the mobsters of Peking.
07 — ChiCom gangsterism. If you think "mobsters" is too strong a term for the Chinese communists, here's a story from Oslo, Norway, where the award ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize will take place on December 10th.
You'll recall that the Peace Prize awardee this year is Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident currently serving eleven years in a camp because he publicly asked for a multiparty democracy and rule of law. When the announcement of the Peace Prize was made last month, the ChiComs called it, quote, "an obscenity."
Well, Oslo is the Norwegian capital, so that's where all the embassies are. Last week several of the European missions in Oslo reported getting letters from the ChiCom ambassador warning them not to attend the Nobel award ceremony. The letters explain that Liu Xiaobo is a, quote, "criminal." They snarl that there will be, quote, "consequences" for nations that, quote, "make the wrong choice."
So far I have not heard that any of them include the words: "Nice little embassy you've got here, be a shame if anything happened to it …" but the gangster mentality of the communists is in plain sight.
Since the Europeans nations are, as a general rule, even worse spineless snivellers than the British Conservative Party, I would have expected them to buckle. Again, I am pleasantly surprised. It seems they are taking a united stand, and will all be sending representatives to the award ceremony for Liu Xiaobo — who himself, of course, will not be permitted to attend.
In fact even Liu's wife won't be able to attend: she has been placed under house arrest, though a ChiCom spokes-goon, asked at a press conference, could not say what law she had violated. Mao Tse-tung would have had no trouble answering that one: Mrs. Liu is of course a "wife of an enemy of the people." The leopard doesn't change its spots, and the communists never change their methods.
For another insight into those methods, I note in passing the two-and-a-half year sentence just handed down on Zhao Lianhai, also in Peking. This is fallout from the Chinese milk scandal of 2008. Chinese milk producers were fortifying their product with industrial chemicals to raise the protein quotient. Many babies died, and others — including Mr Zhao's own infant — suffered permanent kidney damage. Mr Zhao started a website for parents of the victims, with advice on healthcare for the affected babies and strategies for trying to get compensation.
That was Mr Zhao's crime, starting a website. Two and a half years after a forty-minute court appearance for, to quote the actual charge, "寻衅滋事罪" — "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble."
This is the most powerful country in Asia and the most populous in the world. We have essential and important dealings with China. Let's not have any illusions about the kind of people that are running the place.
08 — Currency wars. For an example of those essential and important dealings, we can look over to the G20 summit meeting, held this week in South Korea.
The G20 consists of all the big economies, with the lesser members of the European Union counted together as one. The smallest economies in the G20 are South Africa, Argentina, and Saudi Arabia; the biggest are America, that European group, and Japan.
So there they are in South Korea, talking about what? Currency wars, that's what. A currency war happens when nations engage in competitive devaluation.
See, if my nation's economy is kind of sluggish, I can pep it up by reducing the value of my currency against the currencies of my trading partners. That makes my exports cheaper for foreigners to buy, because they have to swap their deutschmarks for my dollars in order to buy my stuff, and if they're getting more dollars for their deutschmark, they can buy more of my stuff.
Contrariwise, my own citizens now find imported goods more expensive, so they'll buy domestic products instead. As a bonus, they'll travel abroad less, spending yet more money here at home.
Bingo! — my factories are humming and my service industries are run off their feet. What's not to like?
Well, quite a lot, actually. Some things a nation has to import, oil being a common case; so when imports get more expensive, cost of living rises, and inflation looms. All those buzzing factories employing all those people might offset the rise, but then again they might not.
Foreigners won't buy your Treasury bonds with devalued coupons hanging off 'em, foreign firms won't invest their capital in your country for those devalued returns, and so on. And then, if your people are buying less imports, that affects international trade. Sure, they're exporting more, but the balance might again come out the wrong way.
So currency devaluation's a double-edged sword. In dire straits it looks pretty attractive as a fix, though, and in really dire straits, everyone might try to do it simultaneously, defeating the whole point and shutting down international trade completely. That's currency war.
This is one of those really dire times, and everybody's watching everybody else a bit nervously in fear of a currency landslide. In particular, everybody's watching the U.S.A., which is widely suspected of trying to devalue the dollar — suspected, for instance, by Alan Greenspan, who just wrote an op-ed in the Financial Times saying that's exactly what the administration's doing.
"No, no," says Timmy Geithner, our 14-year-old Treasury Secretary, "nothing of the kind! We want a strong dollar!" Meanwhile, over at the Fed, Ben Bernanke just created 600 billion more greenbacks out of thin air.
So who are we going to believe, Timmy Geithner or our lying eyes?
09 — It ain't over until the illegal alien wins. Jessica Colotl was in court Thursday in Marietta, Ga., accused of driving without a license and impeding the flow of traffic. She was found guilty on the first count, not guilty on the second.
Jessica is either 21 or 22, depending on which news story you read, and she's a senior at Kennesaw State University outside Atlanta. The court appearance is in a chain of events that began seven months ago when university police pulled her over. (Kennesaw has an enrolment of 24,000, so they have their own police force.)
Well, that pull-over back in March was when Ms Colotl turned out to have no driver license. The reason she had no license was, she was an illegal immigrant, brought here from Mexico by her parents when she was ten.
Cobb County is a 287(g) jurisdiction, so Ms Colotl was put in detention and ordered to leave the country. A soft-headed judge released her, the County Sheriff re-arrested her, she posted bail, and here we finally were in court seven months later for the traffic charges. Along the way it turned out that Ms Colotl was paying in-state tuition at the university, which she was not entitled to. Presumably she'd just lied on the application forms.
Meanwhile of course Ms Colotl had become a poster girl for the open-border shills. She was lawyered up in no time, benefit of the ACLU, La Raza, MALDEF, and the rest of the usual suspects.
The campaign to present her as a heroine of the resistance movement against AmeriKKKa ran into strong opposition, though. Since education at a public college even at out-of-state rates is a public benefit, a lot of Georgians are angry that she was enrolled at all, so much so the college Board of Regents has banned illegals from enrolling as of next fall. The opposition isn't just on the political fringe, either: Johnny Isakson, the junior U.S. Senator for the Peach State, has said Ms Colotl should be deported.
Strangely, the attorney handling Ms Colotl's traffic case says that, quote, "Following normal immigration procedure and law, she is now eligible for a work permit, she has a Social Security card now and she has a driver's license."
Say what? What is "normal" about that? The lady's an illegal immigrant. She broke the law, driving without a license. She belongs back in her home country. ICE had her in custody and should have deported her. What am I missing here?
Ms Colotl's other attorney, the one handling her immigration case, says that a federal judge has ordered her to leave the country after she graduates next spring. Anyone want to bet that she ever actually does leave the country? Can't we just enforce the dang law?
10 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: Some news here from the foam-flecked Left, otherwise known as MSNBC, home of such swooning Obamarrhoids as Chris Mathews, the guy who feels a thrill going up his leg when he hears the President speak.
Well, MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann, doyen of the limousine liberal crowd, for contributing to Democrat politicians. This, please recall, is the guy who told us two years ago that he doesn't vote because that would hurt his objectivity. [Laugh.] The suspension lasted just two days — hardly worth whining about, though Olbermann whined anyway.
Here's some insider stuff on Olbermann. Any time a bunch of conservative commentators are sitting round drinking, they eventually get to one-upping each other with boasts about how many times they've been Olbermann's Worst Person in the World. I've been on the list three times, which is sensational, and a source of great pride to me.
Item: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been visiting China. He took the opportunity to unbosom himself of some opinions about U.S. lawmakers. Quote:
If you look at the U.S., you look at who we're electing to Congress, to the Senate — they can't read. I'll bet you a bunch of these people don't have passports. We're about to start a trade war with China if we're not careful here, only because nobody knows where China is. Nobody knows what China is.
This puts Radio Derb in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, we yield to no-one in our skepticism concerning the cognitive abilities of our congresscritters. On the other hand, we nurse nothing but loathing and contempt for arrogant liberal elite jackasses like Michael Bloomberg. In our dreams, we would be ruled by smart conservatives, like … oh, like us here at National Review.
Smart liberals like Bloomberg are poisonous to the health of the Republic. The mix of dumb liberals and RINOs that has dominated Congress in recent years likewise does much harm.
In Congress, though, there are at least a few smart conservatives; and there will be many more in the new Congress than there are in the current one. I'm therefore going to come down on the side of Congress in this little spat. As rude as I am about them, and shall likely continue to be, the congresscritters have at least a few redeeming features, which is more than can be said of the Bloombergcritter.
Item: We had a pleasant, nostalgic trip down Memory Lane this week when it was announced that the guy in charge of all Russian spy operations in the U.S.A. was in fact a double agent working for us.
Known to us only as "Colonel Shcherbakov," the spy boss was the one who blew the cover of hot redhead Anna Chapman and nine other agents last summer. Damage to the Russian spy operation is said, by people who know, to be huge. Probably the entire Russian spy network in the U.S.A. has been rolled up.
Boy, I sure hope they've caught Rosa Klebb. That lady scared the bejasus out of me.
Yes, it's all very pleasantly nostalgic, but you have to wonder, now that Russia has gone from being an evil empire with plans for world domination to being a run-down alcoholic slum in demographic free fall, why they are spying on us — and, presumably, we on them?
In any case, Radio Derb hereby nominates Colonel Shcherbakov as the one person, of all the world's seven billion, least able to buy a life insurance policy.
Item: Finally, the top award at the Rome Film Festival last week went to a comedy about euthanasia. Titled Kill Me Please, this Belgian production took the prize for best film.
I guess if you're a follower of my colleague Mark Steyn and believe that Europe is in a demographic death spiral, you'll read the appropriate symbolism into this award. Personally I think there's life in the old continent yet, perhaps just not much in Belgium.
11 — Signoff. That's it for this week, listeners. Next week Radio Derb will be coming to you from the sunny Caribbean, where I shall be getting my knees brown with our guests on National Review's post-election cruise.
Back at Derb Manor I already have the servants packing up steamer trunks with appropriate habiliments: the seersucker suits and white bucks, my best smoking jacket for the evening festivities, the lightweight tux, a good shooting outfit, a decent selection of cravats, and of course my solar topee [Clip: "Mad Dogs and Englishmen …"] Yes, that's the ticket!
Some of the places we shall be visiting were originally possessions of the Crown, so I expect the happy natives, hearing my voice as I move among them, will take me for a representative of the Great White Queen across the water. Though I am in fact a U.S. citizen now, I shall be at no pains to disabuse them, and shall be appropriately gracious, distributing largesse among them and adjudicating their disputes on request before calling on the High Commissioner for tiffin and perhaps a chukka of polo.
Well, I shall be reporting to you on the picturesque customs and colorful traditions of these places … so long as their picturesque cuisines and colorful beverages do not leave me incapacitated …
Now, to see us out, in honor of Armistice Day, and with heartfelt thanks to all veterans everywhere, I'm going to indulge in some British World War One nostalgia. Here are the beautiful Beverley Sisters — Joy, Teddie. and Babs — formerly of my home town in England.
[Music clip: Laura Wright, "Keep the Home Fires Burning." Note when archiving in 2019: Couldn't find the Beverly Sisters version on YouTube.]