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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Yes, it's Radio Derb on the air. This is your tempurpedically genial host John Derbyshire with a glance at the week's news.
Some listeners have asked how I'm coping without my research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy, who are on secondment to our friend President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov in Ashgabat, helping him with one of his top secret research projects over there. Well, I admit it's difficult, and I've been posting some ads seeking temporary help. Here's a letter from one applicant, quote:
Dear Mr. Derbyshire,
… and I can't quite make out the signature there. Lindsay something, is it? Anyway, she sounds promising, has enclosed a very acceptable photograph, and there's a phone number attached, so let's get her in here, OK? Thanks
Right, on with the show.
02 — Making a book on Egypt. Egypt, at the end of this week, is a commentator's worst nightmare — a totally open situation, in which nobody has a clue what is going to happen. Even the experts, the guys we lower-level scavengers plagiarize our own commentary from, even the experts are foxed. Last night I watched two straight hours of punditry on TV — Ralph Peters, Newt Gingrich, and guys with Arabic and Persian names and natty little Middle Eastern mustaches — and it was plain they knew no more about it than my Jack Russell terrier does. It's awful.
On last week's Radio Derb I opened a book on the likely outcomes, offering evens on a fundamentalist takeover, 2-1 on regime survival, and 5-1 on an army coup by some bright young opportunist army officer. We've revised the odds and I'll be giving you this week's book at the end of the segment, but really, anyone's guess is as good as anyone else's at this point.
Here's Griff Witte wrting in the Washington Post, quote:
While rich and poor alike have joined the call for democracy, the movement has been led by the professional middle class — lawyers, doctors, university students and engineers. Many of the poor, who constitute the majority in Egypt, said they mistrust demonstrators' motivations and are concerned that the movement has a hidden foreign agenda.
The first part of that seems to be right. One of the reports this week was of lawyers coming out on strike. Imagine that! I only wish we could get our lawyers to down tools — that would really kick-start the U.S. economy. Hard to see the advantage for Egypt, though. The place doesn't have much of an economy. It's a desert, except for that strip along the river. Nobody's driving an Egyptian car, or carrying an Egyptian smartphone, or watching Egyptian movies, or breathlessly waiting for the next release of some Egyptian software. Commercially the place is of no consequence, other than that it has the Suez Canal and a lot of antiquities.
Let's go looking for some data points. Here's one from the World Values Survey, 2008. Ninety-three percent of Egyptians say they are religious. Fifty-six percent attend religious services at least once a week: 87 percent of men but only 23 percent of women.
I'd guess the 87 percent of Egyptian males who attend services once a week or more is pretty much congruent with what Griff Witte calls "the poor." So they're fine with Mubarak, but they're very pious. What does that portend — regime survival, or a fundie takeover? Beats my pair of jacks.
The Iran precedent is getting thrown around a lot. It is a precedent though, and not exactly a stellar one if you're a Middle East Muslim looking for a better government. Let's see: mass purges and flight of the middle class; total economic collapse prevented only by possession of huge oil reserves, which Egypt does not have; a ten-year war with a neighbor seeing off millions of your sons, with no significant outcome … Hard to see why anyone in Egypt would want that. But who knows what they want? Not me.
The demonstrators you're seeing in the Cairo streets are mainly middle-class urban types. It's easy to feel some sympathy for them. They're a lot like you and me: educated, computer-literate, worldly, easy-going about relations between the sexes, and so on. That's not Egypt, though. That's not the 87 percent of men who attend religious services at least once a week. That's not the army brass cheerfully pocketing the $2 billion a year in subsidies we send them. There are other Egypts there we're not seeing, and one of those other Egypts will likely have the last word.
How's that for a no-commentary commentary? To judge from the stuff we've heard from U.S. intelligence-services front men this week, they don't know any more than me, Ralph Peters, or Jack Russell here. The smart thing for our administration would be to zip lips, get the Cairo embassy staff filling sandbags, and wait to see what turns out. Time for a little Taoism, a little watchful inaction. "By doing nothing," said the sage, "everything can be accomplished." Well, at least we might avoid unpleasant helicopters-off-the-embassy-roof scenarios.
OK, here's this week's book. I'll give you regime survival at 5-4 on, military coup 4-1, Islamist coup 5-1, and 12-1 on a friendly takeover by Google Corporation. That follows the news that Wael Ghinim, head of Google Egypt, has been released from detention, become a figurehead for the protest movement, and got involved in negotiations with the Mubarak government. The Egyptians could do worse. At least they wouldn't keep losing the Internet.
03 — Spending weenies. Our country faces a $1.5 trillion budget deficit this year. Learning of this, John Boehner and his girly-men on the House Republican benches charged into battle brandishing their weapons and uttering their war cry. These being establishment Republicans, the weapons were wet noodles and the war cry was: "Let's not do anything that CNN might call conservative." After a few heavy lunches with their lobbyists they staggered back to the House and proposed a motion to cut $74 billion from the president's budget.
Let's see: $74 billion out of $1.5 trillion, that would be [tap tap tap] not quite five percent. Yeah, I think you should be OK with CNN and the New York Times, guys.
The girly-men aren't having things all their own way, though. There's a new draft of freshmen in the House with Tea Party backing, and five percent of a trillion and a half didn't work for them. Boehner, after hiding in his office for a while and blubbing his way through an entire box of Kleenex, buckled a bit and raised the cuts to $100 billion. That's almost seven percent!
To a veteran of the George W. Bush spend-o-rama years it must have been heartbreaking. I imagine Boehner had visions in his head of lobbyists' children going barefoot to school while their grannies die in the snow. To a patriot who wants to see his country get back on an even keel, it was heartbreaking in a different way. Seven percent! That's aspirin against bubonic plague.
Rand Paul was closer to the mark with his budget plan, cutting $500 billion. That's still only 33 percent, though — nothing like enough, as Senator Paul admits, just the outer limit of what might be politically possible.
Here's Radio Derb's prescription. Let's have a Sputnik Moment here. Sputnik went into orbit October 4, 1957. OK, let's take that as our Sputnik Moment. Let's abolish all federal cabinet departments that did not exist in 1957. That would be, let's see, that would be the departments of
The U.S.A. got through wars, civil wars, Indian wars, economic crises, a world depression, mass immigration, Prohibition, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and the demise of the ten-cent cigar, without the assistance of any of these racketeering bureaucratic circuses. Let's send 'em packing, find some honest work for the bureaucrats to do, and leave the lobbyists to have lunch with each other. Then let's start on the regulatory agencies. How many of those did we have in October 1957? A Sputnik Moment! — yeah, let's go for it.
All right, having vented there, I'm going to backtrack just a little. I have fun sneering at the congresscritters, which is as much fun as you can have as a commentator except when you get called to do a hot tub interview with Alessandra Ambrosio. Let's face it, though, listeners: the fault is not in our congressweenies, it's in us. Why is there no political will to cut spending? Because we're a democracy, that's why. Because we the people don't want spending cut; or rather, we want the other guy's spending cut, but not our own.
Public opinion polls tell the story. We don't want to cut Social Security; we don't want to cut Medicare; we don't want to cut Medicaid; we don't want to cut defense. That's most of the federal budget right there. The only thing you can get a majority for cutting is foreign aid. I'm totally on board with that — heck, I'd make the buggers pay us for guarding their sea lanes and handing out AIDS drugs all these years — but it doesn't lay a glove on $1.5 trillion.
So I don't see much prospect for real cuts: certainly not Senator Paul's half trillion, probably not Weepy Boehner's tenth of a trillion, maybe five, ten, fifteen billion — max one percent of the deficit. Obama will grudge even that; and so, to judge from those opinion polls, will the voters.
Since Congress isn't going to be able to raise taxes either, we shall go on spending money we don't have. That means borrowing it from elsewhere, or printing it. Borrowing it means higher levels of debt service, and so even bigger deficits; and anyway, past a certain point the lenders get antsy. I'm betting we'll mainly just print the darn money. Welcome to Argentina!
04 — Sputnik Moments. While I'm at it, just a little historical perspective on that original Sputnik Moment, the theme Obama touched on in his State of the Union speech.
NYU political scientist Robert Weissberg, writing on the American Thinker website, points out that in his conception of a Sputnik Moment, the president has got education policy bass-ackwards.
The main outcome of the actual Sputnik Moment back in 1957 was the National Defense Education Act of 1958, which allocated money to states for testing programs to identify the intellectually talented and encourage them to attend college and study science and mathematics. Student loan programs targeting smart kids were established in some 1,200 colleges. By today's standards the approach was staggeringly un-egalitarian.
Quote from Professor Weissberg: "Military and civilian notables including the irascible Admiral Hyman Rickover quickly assembled world-renowned scientists (not professional educators) to fix American education," end quote.
If the Admiral could hear Obama talking about the Sputnik Moment, he'd be turning in his grave. All Obama's talk, indeed all of modern education talk, is about lifting up the bottom, throwing resources at the "disadvantaged." If you dare to suggest in public that some kids are smarter than others, and we ought to nourish those smart kids — throw some resources at them — you'll be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.
Another Weissberg quote: "Make no mistake: everything in Obama's 'Sputnik moment' is about uplifting the bottom. And to exacerbate the sham, everything has failed, and repeatedly so, over many decades — untold billions down the rathole." End quote.
Our schools should of course strive to give every child as much education as the child can take. No more than that, though. Kids who are educable, who display some hunger and aptitude for learning, are a terrific national resource, as they proved when they got us to the moon and back. That's the lesson of the original Sputnik Moment. Nobody has any idea how to turn lazy or dumb or unmotivated students into rocket scientists, and we should stop pretending we do and let those kids find non-bookish paths through life. In an age of dwindling public resources, let's concentrate our educational resources where they'll do our country the most good, on kids who are able and eager to learn.
05 — Cameron vs. multiculti. Anti-multiculturalism is bustin' out all over. Last October Angela Merkel, the bodacious Chancellor of Germany, told a gathering of her party's youth wing that the whole guest-worker deal had gone sour. Quote: "We kidded ourselves a while. We said: 'They won't stay, [after some time] they will be gone,' but this isn't reality. And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side by side and to enjoy each other … has failed, utterly failed." Mind if I do it in German? This kind of thing sounds so much better in German. Quote: "Multikulti hat Deutschland in die Irre geführt, Multikulti ist gescheitert." Well, she got a standing ovation. A public opinion poll taken a few days previously by a respectable German think tank turned up thirteen percent of Germans saying they'd welcome a Führer. Ah, the bitter fruits of multiculturalism.
Then last weekend up spoke David Cameron, Britain's Conservative [laughter] Prime Minister — in Munich of all places, on a public panel discussion with Angela Merkel of all people, she of the formidable Teutonic embonpoint. Quote from Dave: "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong." End quote.
Now for the trifecta, up limps Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France, to explain it once more. Quote from him, in a TV interview this Thursday, quote: "If you come to France, you accept to melt into a single community, which is the national community, and if you do not want to accept that, you cannot be welcome in France … We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him," end quote.
Unfortunately Angela, Dave, and Nick are all dancing around the main point. If you import millions of people from a very different culture into a modern welfare state, under modern conditions of cheap travel and instant communications, there isn't much reason for them to assimilate into the national culture. There is doubly no reason when the high panjandrums of the national culture seem not to like it very much themselves, and go around wringing their hands and apologizing for the nation's past misdeeds.
So of course large numbers of your imported guest workers are going to settle happily into permanent ethnic enclaves and give the finger to the national culture, except when it's time to draw a dole. Here's another quote from Cameron on that same occasion, quote: "Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism."
Yes we do; but why do we? Britain used to be famous for passive tolerance. It used to be the nation of all nations in which the citizen could pass through his whole life without bothering much about the state. Where is the state in the novels of Jane Austen or Thomas Hardy? The reason Britain could be like that was that it was ethnically homogenous; and that remained true well past the middle of the last century. When I was growing up in the English Midlands fifty years ago, we thought a Scotsman was exotic.
Now Britain's multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-racial, and multi-religious. Not just a seasoning, like the salt in your stew — any healthy society has always had that — but great blocks and slabs of alien-ness. And Cameron's right: in a modern state with minorities that large and that different, passive tolerance won't work. Or to put it another way, Britain can't be Britain. Out with passive tolerance, in with "muscular liberalism." Out with the state leaving citizens alone, in with ever more of the state bossing citizens around. Out with liberty, in with enforced political correctness.
All this could have been foreseen, and was foreseen by statesmen like the late great Enoch Powell. The British and the French and the Germans went ahead anyway, filling up the slums of their cities with people who don't like them and who see politics in terms of zero-sum ethnic games. Multiculturalism may be the greatest single act of mass folly since the Children's Crusade. What a pity it's taken these dimwit politicians half a century to notice.
06 — Subverting France. Here are some people who still haven't noticed — who are still gung-ho for multikulti, diversity, affirmative action and all the rest of the dreary bound-to-fail nostrums that Merkel, Cameron, and Sarkozy are timidly beginning to repudiate.
We're in France again. Quote from the key document:
[W]e will continue and intensify our work with French museums and educators to reform the history curriculum taught in French schools, so that it takes into account the role and perspectives of minorities in French history.
We will create or support training and exchange programs that teach the enduring value of broad inclusion to schools, civil society groups, bloggers, political advisors, and local politicians.
Boy, that's "muscular liberalism" all right! But what's the document? Who's issuing these declarations of resolve to transform French society into a multicultural paradise? Why, it's the American embassy in Paris! No kidding: those quotes are from the Wikileaks pile, from a cable sent out from our Paris embassy to cultural attachés and the like in provincial consulates around France. Here's another quote, a long one:
A Minority Working Group will integrate the discourse, actions, and analysis of relevant sections and agencies in the Embassy. This group … will … evaluate our impact over the course of the year, by examining both tangible and intangible indicators of success. Tangible changes include a measurable increase in the number of minorities leading and participating in public and private organizations, including elite educational institutions; growth in the number of constructive efforts by minority leaders to organize political support both within and beyond their own minority communities; new, proactive policies to enhance social inclusion adopted by non-minority political leaders; expansion of inter-communal and inter-faith exchanges at the local level; decrease in popular support for xenophobic political parties and platforms.
End long quote. You thought the job of a U.S. embassy in a foreign country was to safeguard U.S. interests, offer protection to U.S. citizens, and issue visas to the natives? How naïve! No, the job of our embassies is to empower minorities in France and stamp out xenophobia among the French.
Just to remind you: this is the United States embassy in France, a sovereign nation, declaring America's intention to agitate and propagandize for multiculturalism among the French. Incredible.
I presume this cable has become known to the French. On that supposition, the fact that French mobs have not yet burned our Paris embassy to the ground and transported the inmates in tumbrils to the guillotine is conclusive evidence that Europe has sunk into apathy and decline.
07 — The Muslim who beheaded his wife. ["You can't chop your Momma up in Massachusetts …"] No you can't. Furthermore, in Buffalo, New York you can't stab your wife forty times with a hunting knife then hack off her head. They just don't allow it. It's against some local ordinance up there.
That was the charge against Muzzammil Hassan of Buffalo, New York. Mr. Hassan was found guilty this Monday. Sentencing's set for March 9.
Hassan was the founder and CEO of Bridges TV, a network he started in 2004 to counter the stereotype of Muslims as homicidal wife-beating psychopaths. This was his third wife; the earlier two had both divorced him for severe and violent abuse.
The third wife had filed for divorce too. Hassan had moved out; but his wife was still doing her domestic duties. She brought clean laundry for him to the TV studio he ran — you know, the one he set up to enlighten us infidels about how modern, tolerant, and peace-loving Muslims are. Seeing his wife with the clean laundry, Hassan said "Thanks, honey, just put them over there," then he got to work with the knife.
A neat little sidebar story here is that CAIR, C-A-I-R, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, gave Hassan an award a few months before he decided that Mrs. Hassan had one head too many. The award was for Hassan's efforts at portraying Muslims in a positive light to American and Canadian audiences.
CAIR carried a picture on their website of Hassan receiving his award from CAIR functionaries Iftekhar Hussain and Parvez Ahmed. That picture has now been removed from the CAIR website, understandably I guess. I'm told that Mr. Hassan has also lost his Muslim of the Year reserved parking spot at CAIR headquarters. Better luck with your next awardee, guys.
08 — CPAC. CPAC, the big annual gathering of conservatives, has been going on in Washington, D.C. It's been the usual rancorous, fissiparous, rambunctious display of political energy — a wonderful distraction from the snoozy opportunism of Capitol Hill and the sinister iron-fist-in-velvet-glove creeping totalitarianism of the Obama administration.
Homosexualists and Muslims were key points of rancor. A homosexualist group called GOProud — it starts with G-O-P, see? — has been allowed as one of the sponsors of this year's CPAC, and social conservatives are unhappy about that. For the record, Radio Derb's unhappy too. I bet there have always been homosexuals at CPAC gatherings, and I bet there always will be, and I'm fine with it: but they have no business advertising themselves as a group and telling us how proud they are of their very private inclination. You mind your own business, please, and observe civilized discretion. We don't want to know.
Then there was a panel on faith and religious liberty sponsored by a group called Muslims for America, which was likewise objected to by people, again including this person, who wonder what benefit mass Muslim immigration has brought to the U.S.A. Quote from a BBC news report, quote: "Some conservatives continue to harbour a post-9/11 mentality that is deeply suspicion of Muslims." Goodness gracious, do they really? What on earth could account for that?
It occurs to me that CPAC might have scored some big news points by organizing a tag-wrestling match between the Homosexualists and the Muslims: two falls, two submissions, or a knockout to decide the winner. That might have proved a tad too colorful even for CPAC, though.
GOP presidential hopefuls skipped and hopped around this minefield as best they could, except for Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin, who didn't attend, for stated reasons that nobody believes, and un-stated reasons all too easy to understand.
09 — Geert Wilders' new trial. What have we got time for here, one more? OK, may as well stay with the Muslim theme.
Here's Geert Wilders, in another European country, the Netherlands. This is the guy who wants to end all immigrtion from Muslim countries — a position that Merkel, Cameron, and Sarkozy may get around to in another fifty years — and who made the 2008 short movie Fitna, F-I-T-N-A, which you can view for yourselves on YouTube. Fitna argues that Islam is irredeemably violent and hostile to Western Civ.
The story so far, just to remind you: Wilders' views have made him very popular, so much so he now leads the third largest political party in the Netherlands, the Party for Freedom. That has irked the leftist establishment in the Netherlands, and two years ago they began a prosecution against him for inciting hatred and discrimination. After some appeals and counter-appeals and some judicial shucking and jiving, the trial finally got going last fall. Then it was stalled on another appeal, and now it's just got going again under a new set of judges. At any rate, there were some hearings this week to decide when to have more hearings to decide when to have more hearings to decide when to have more hearings to decide when to have more hearings to decide when to have more hearings to decide when to have more hearings about when the trial might start. Dutch lawyers seem to be even better at log-rolling than ours are.
Wilders made the following statement at the hearing. Long but stirring quote:
The lights are going out all over Europe. Anyone who thinks or speaks individually is at risk. Freedom loving citizens who criticize Islam, or even merely suggest that there is a relationship between Islam and crime or honour killing, must suffer and are threatened or criminalized. Those who speak the truth are in danger.
End long quote. I don't see much to argue with there, though no doubt there were some coffee cups hurled angrily at the wall in our Paris embassy.
At the very least you have to admit that when Wilders says "Those who speak the truth are in danger," he knows what he's talking about. He's accompanied by armed state-provided bodyguards everywhere he goes. He is moved to a different location every night, and can only receive visitors who've been screened and frisked. He can only meet his wife once a week, and her identity has to be kept carefully secret. The fruits of multiculturalism. And the government of his country is prosecuting him. I guess that's what Dave Cameron means by "muscular liberalism." Coming soon to a North American republic near you.
10 — Miscellany. I've run out of time here, so the closing miscellany will be brief indeed. I'll just pack the items up into one portmanteau item.
More ideas about improving education, this time from across the pond. Authorities in Britain want state schools to teach kids about homosexuality in math, geography, language, and science lessons. This new homo-friendly curriculum will begin at age four. Suggestions include, quote, "teaching statistics through census findings about the number of homosexuals in the population," and, quote, "studying animal species where the male takes a leading role in raising young, such as emperor penguins and sea horses," and, quote, "using gay characters in role play scenarios, and teaching 'LGBT vocabulary'." Look for our president to take up this theme in next year's State of the Union speech. Instead of a Sputnik Moment, a … no, this is a family show, I'll leave you to supply your own rhymes here.
What else? A man in California was killed by a rooster. An armed rooster: this was a fighting bird, with a sharp blade attached to one of its limbs. 35-year-old José Luis Ochoa of Kern County got in its way, the blade severed an artery, and exsanguination did the rest. Police suspect fowl play. [Groan] Mr. Ochoa's friends, however, say he was just a victim of bad cluck. [More groans].
And one more unfortunate death in the news: Miss Claudia Aderotimi, a London resident of Nigerian parentage, age 20, sought showbiz fame and fortune. She believed, however, that her assets were inadequate. To be precise, she felt that her glutes required augmentation. A flat posterior is apparently a negative indicator for success in a career on stage and screen. My advice would have been to change her name to Claudia Pitt and promote herself as the Bottomless Pitt [Groan] but Miss Aderotimi decided to seek surgical enhancement instead. Seeing a suitable advertisement on the Internet, off she went to Philadelphia for some ad hoc cosmetic surgery at a budget hotel near the airport. There an unlicensed practitioner injected silicone into her rump, her rump, her lovely lady lumps. Alas, the operator used industrial silicone — the stuff you caulk window frames with — instead of medical grade silicone, the stuff you boost butts with. Miss Aderotimi developed chest pains and died twelve hours later in hospital. An arrest has been made, and some cell block in some Pennsylvania state house of correction will soon have the best-caulked windows in the Union.
11 — Signoff. OK, there we have it, ladies and gents. Misery and mayhem all around, and the snow piled deep on the Derb estates. There's a fire in the hearth, though, and whiskey in the jug, so let's carpe diem and keep our peckers up as best we can. Where's Gracie?
[Music clip: Gracie Fields Sing As We Go]