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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb is on the air! Yes, this is your iridescently genial host John Derbyshire with highlights from the week's news.
Before we begin this week's broadcast, let me just quash some ugly rumors you may have heard concerning the domestic help at my Long Island estate. The Derbyshire family has harmonious relations with all our domestic servants, from Andrew the butler down to the lowliest scullery maid. However, as befits a leading spokesman for traditional social order, I maintain a proper reserve towards the menials. There is absolutely no fraternization of an inappropriate sort. The sudden return of our long-serving senior housemaid Maria to her native Dominican Republic, along with her children, and the gift to her from an anonymous donor of a well-appointed house in her home village there, these events were as much of a surprise to me as to anyone.
I hope that will put to rest these shameful false rumors once and for all. Now, on with the show.
02 — All the way with DSK. Man of the hour is undoubtedly Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and a leading light of the French Socialist Party.
On a visit to New York last weekend, M. Strauss-Kahn was staying at the tony Sofitel hotel on West 44th Street. A maid came in to fix up his room, unaware that he was in the bathroom taking a shower
Emerging from the bathroom in his birthday suit, M. Strauss-Kahn saw the lady making his bed and was unable to restrain himself. According to the maid, he grabbed her and demanded certain optional room service extras, in particular one that rhymes with "floral decks."
When the 62-year-old banker was through asserting his droit de seigneur on her, the maid struggled free and alerted her supervisor, who called the gendarmes. While that was happening, M. Strauss-Kahn hastily dressed, packed, and headed for Kennedy airport.
Here's a nice little touch to fill out your picture of M. Strauss-Kahn's champagne-socialist lifestyle: He has a special arrangement with Air France that allows him to take a first-class seat on any Air France flight at any time. Pretty nice, huh?
Before the plane could take off, though, the forces of law and order showed up. They cuffed M. Strauss-Kahn and hauled him off to the station house, where he was booked for sexual assault, attempted rape, and being French. The story was all over our newspapers the next morning, cheering up a wet Sunday in New York. Within another day or two M. Strauss-Kahn was so famous he was being referred to as "DSK," like a terrorist mastermind.
The story got considerably juicier as the week wore on. The maid, it turns out, is a 32-year-old black lady from one of the Francophone West African countries. She lives with her 15-year-old daughter in an apartment building run by a nonprofit for people with AIDS. She's a Muslim, too, raising the interesting question as to whether maybe Sharia law standards should be applied, according to which it isn't rape unless there are witnesses.
So among the parties taking an interest in the matter you can include not just the feminists and "foreign aid" racketeers but also the race lobbies, the AIDS activists, and CAIR. That's not even to mention the gold bugs who hate the IMF and all us conservatives who hate limousine liberals like DSK.
Still and all, the betting has to be that DSK will get off. The lawyer he's engaged, Benjamin Brafman, is a genius in his line of work. He's the guy who won an acquittal for Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs in the teeth of testimony from dozens of witnesses. Claims by black women to have been raped by white men also linger under a cloud in which the names of Tawana Brawley and Crystal Mangum can be discerned. You may think that's unfair, but it's the kind of thing a skillful lawyer can figure out some way to remind jurors of. Well, we shall see. This story will run and run.
As well as the sheer entertainment value of the story, and the sweet thought of a senior official of the globalist order in the bottom bunk of a cell on Rikers Island, l'affaire Strauss-Kahn has a political dimension. In addition to being head of the IMF, DSK is also a big name in France's Socialist Party, currently the favorite political party to win next April's presidential election. Everyone's been assuming that DSK would be the party's standard-bearer against the unpopular current president Nicholas Sarkozy. If DSK self-destructs, that leaves a big hole in the French political scene.
A likely beneficiary will be Marine Le Pen, head of the National Front party, which is nationalist, euroskeptic, populist, immigration-restrictionist, and protectionist. The National Front currently polls in the 10 to 20 percent range, but in a political vacuum, with the current fuss over European borders and rising economic problems, and with the photogenic and politically savvy Mlle. Le Pen in charge, they might do a lot better. In particular, they might help accelerate the crack-up of the European Union.
03 — The EU's slow crack-up. As Radio Derb's been reporting, one side benefit of the ructions in North Africa has been to concentrate the minds of Europeans on the question of national borders.
Here at Radio Derb we're big fans of the nation-state. We think that people with a common history under one government on a common stretch of land have every right to run their affairs by the consensus among their people, without regard to what other nations might think. To do that, they need secure borders, and controls on who comes in for settlement, according to the wishes of the current population.
Obviously this administration and the previous three took a different point of view. The Europeans, too: a big part of the whole European Union project has been to eliminate border controls between EU member states. Most of the EU nations have abandoned border controls, forming the so-called Schengen Zone of free cross-border travel. Britain and Ireland are the main exceptions: they are not in the Schengen Zone.
The floods of North African refugees into Italy have upset the balance. The Tunisians are French-speakers and would like to move on to France. France doesn't want them, however, the French electorate inclining rather strongly to the opinion that their country has all the Arabs it needs, and then some. So French border gueards stopped a train full of Tunisians trying to come in from Italy.
In Denmark meanwhile, the government is trying to push through an austerity package, curtailing entitlements and so on. To do so they need the support of the Danish People's Party, which is strongly immigration-restrictionist. The DPP have demanded reintroduction of border controls as a quid pro quo, and the government has agreed.
Neither France's action nor Denmark's brings down the Schengen Zone, which has allowances for emergency loopholes. They have punched a few holes in the agreement, though. Leaders of the EU are meeting on June 24 to try to plug those holes.
My opinion is that they are, if you'll pardon the expression, standing athwart history crying "Stop!" The mood of the age is towards more nationalism, more respect for the integrity of the nation-state, not less, and the EU project of political unification will likely be the first major casualty of that mood.
04 — Right-wing social engineering. Newt Gingrich vs. Paul Ryan Everybody's piling on Newt Gingrich. Newt just announced his presidential run ten days ago; then on a Sunday talk show he trashed Paul Ryan's plan to voucherize Medicare.
Asked about the Ryan plan, Newt said: "I think that that is too big a jump." Then he went further, calling Ryan's plan, quote, "right-wing social engineering," which he said was, quote, "no more desirable than left-wing social engineering."
Paul Ryan is a big favorite with conservatives right now for actually having put forward a plan to deal with the spending crisis — you know, the one the mainstream media refer to as a "debt crisis." The Ryan plan was pretty timid in my opinion — I much preferred Rand Paul's. I also find Ryan's longstanding enthusiasm for open borders and amnesty hard to take. The immigration-restrictionist group NumbersUSA rates Ryan one of the worst Republicans in Congress on immigration enforcement and border security. Still, he did try to do something on spending, and I'll give him credit for that. Something is better than nothing, which is the administration's policy.
I'm also not a Gingrich fan, to put it very mildly. There's the border issue again — Newt has done way too much pandering to La Raza and the other sowers of discord in the Hispanic race lobbies. I'm also working here from a personal exchange, which was off the record, so I can't get specific. Let me just say that I came away from that exchange with a strong impression that Newt isn't anything like as smart as he thinks he is, or as a lot of Republicans seem to think he is, and that the breezy confident omniscience with which he speaks is mostly hot misty vapor covering up a lazy mind dotted with black muddy patches of utter ignorance.
Having said all that, I'm going to admit grudgingly that I think Newt's right about the Ryan plan. You won't hear this much argued in the public square, because he's right in part for reasons that are politically incorrect. I'll try to treat this delicately, but there is a bit of weapons-grade political incorrectness coming up, so if that offends you, just LA LA LA LA LA through the next minute or two.
Here's a thing conservatives have to get to grips with: Across-the-board entitlements are popular. Privatization, voucher systems, choices among plans, all sound great to wonks — the kind of people who were reading Hayek and Friedman when the other kids were playing wiffle-ball. What do they sound like to the rest of us, though? I'll tell you what they sound like: They sound like one more way for Wall Street slickers to make millions by skimming off from what is rightfully ours.
Newsflash: Citizens don't want to spend their retirement trying to figure out the pros and cons of complex insurance plans dreamed up by propellor-head quants in the research department of some investment firm. George W. Bush found that out six years ago when he floated the privatization of social security. Is Newt Gingrich the only one who remembers that?
Here's another newsflash. (This is the politically incorrect part.) First remember that notwithstanding those fairy tales you may have heard about a social security "lockbox," it's young people whose work and taxes support older people in retirement. With swelling numbers of old Americans and static or dwindling numbers of younger ones, we're heading into a generational conflict; and that conflict has a racial aspect. Older people are, and for many years will continue to be, whiter than younger ones. Retirees who aren't white are old-stock black, the descendants of slaves.
Thus anything we try to do to older people's entitlements has an element of racial conflict. You will, as older people see it — and indeed, as not-so-old people peering forward at their retirement prospects see it — you are taking something from the dwindling numbers of old-stock Americans — mostly white, but I'm guessing white and black both will see it like this — to give it to Hispanics and Asians. It doesn't help any that the feelings of resentment here will be reciprocated, younger and browner Americans working, as they see it, to keep older and mostly-white old-stock Americans in comfortable retirement.
I don't think I need to tell you which side of this conflict has the more Republican voters. That's why Newt is right, at least politically. I really believe that most retirees or people actively thinking about their retirement would even prefer a reduction in across-the-board entitlements to a voucherization that, as they see it, will put them at the mercy of smooth-talking speculators with yellow suspenders. I also believe they could easily be rallied against a Ryan-type plan by demands that Americans who've worked and paid taxes all their lives deserve to be heard before food stamp recipients or DREAM Act beneficiaries. And I believe they are right on both counts.
The polls I've seen so far say that Newt and I are correct. Majorities of Americans are against the voucherization of Medicare, even majorities of Republicans on some of the question formats. The Kaiser Family Foundation did a poll in April that turned up 46 percent of people who began by saying they favored a voucher system. When it was explained to them that a voucher system would mean putting private insurance companies in charge of Medicare, approval dropped like a stone, to 24 percent.
We don't call them "entitlements" for nothing.
05 — The SSI babies. After thirty years of freelance journalism, I'm pretty well attuned to what editors will and will not accept in copy, but I still get caught out occasionally.
It happened a year or so ago. I wanted to castigate some liberal or other as a ninny, a crybaby, a whiner, a person who could not cope with the real world of hard knocks and adult jousting, and so took refuge in temper tantrums and wishful thinking. I forget which liberal it was I was attacking. Does it matter? They're pretty much all like that.
I used a string of epithets to characterize and insult this person. One of the epithets I used was "bedwetter." My editor nixed that. You can't call someone a bedwetter, he said. It's over the line.
I could have pursued the matter, demanding to know why it's over the line, who gets to draw the line, where there's a reference source to tell me what's over the line and what isn't, etc., but I was busy and let it go. Freelancers need editors much more than editors need freelancers. That's one of those hard, knobby facts of life. If you can't handle it, you're a ninny, a crybaby, a … well, never mind.
I think I just found out why "bedwetter" is over the line. Here's a website: www.bedwettingabdl.com. It's mainly aimed at bedwetters, obviously. If you're wondering what the "abdl" is about, permit me to enlighten you. The "ab" stands for "adult baby"; "dl" is "diaper lover."
You getting the picture? Bedwetters are an identity group, allied with the International Brotherhood of Adult Babies and the Amalgamated Diaper Lovers Union — and as a matter of fact with yet another subgroup, "teen babies," who didn't make it into the website name. The bedwetters, ABs, DLs, and TBs are organized, they've got a website, and after enduring centuries of humiliation under the iron heel of drybeddist oppression and the cruel mockery of heartless diaper discarders like me, they want a piece of the victimological pie. They're getting their piece, too, as we shall see.
That website is run by a chap named Stanley Thornton, Jr., who seems to be a native of — surprise, surprise — Southern California. Mr. Thornton is 30 years old and morbidly obese — 350 lb. He sleeps in a suitably large and reinforced crib, which he put together himself. His "roommate," one Ms. Sandra Dias, feeds him with a bottle and changes his diapers.
Mr. Thornton is no recluse. He goes out, for example to the hardware store to get materials for household construction projects like that crib. When doing so, he wears ordinary street clothes rather than the Barney the Purple Dinosaur jim-jams he favors at home.
Why should you care about Mr. Thornton and his weird inclinations? Well, because you're paying his bills out of your federal taxes. Mr. Thornton claims that his eccentricities make him unemployable, so that he is technically disabled and so eligible for SSI.
That's Supplemental Security Income, a federal program started up in 1974. The idea was that people who could not get Social Security, or whose disabilities made Social Security inadequate to cover their necessities, would have this supplemental income. The federal program took over from state programs which were so variable in the levels of support they offered, it seemed unfair.
The typical SSI recipient, in the minds of people at that time, would be a man who'd suffered some disabling injury at work, but who wasn't yet at retirement age. That's how the program was sold, anyway. On that basis the need for SSI should have declined over the years, as the sort of hard physical labor that caused disabilities is done by far fewer workers now than in 1974. Yet in fact the SSI rolls have steadily increased, doubled in fact, from four million to eight million, while our total population has increased only 45 percent. As the SSI rolls have lengthened, a whole branch of the legal profession has come up to service them — to help them negotiate the SSI rule book. One such firm, Binder and Binder, advertises heavily on TV.
Stanley Thornton is in there among the SSI eight million. He's been getting SSI for ten years, since he was 20. His roommate, Ms. Dias, gets it too, presumably for looking after him. Mr. Thornton did work for a year as a security guard after leaving high school, but says his adult baby syndrome made it impossible for him to keep the job. He's been sucking on the public teat — pretty near literally — ever since.
This story's in the news because Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has asked the Social Security Administration to look into the cases of Mr. Thornton and Ms. Dias. They're just gaming the system, says Senator Coburn. He's right, of course. They're gaming the system like millions of others. Mr. Thornton has reacted by saying that if his SSI benefits are cut off, he'll kill himself. I have a short answer to that, but I'd better not make it, as my answer may not get past the editors.
06 — Haiti's new president, America's new Haitians. They had a presidential inauguration in Haiti this week. The inauguratee was former pop singer and night-club proprietor Michel Martelly, aged 50.
Mr. Martelly may be a diaper lover, like the aforementioned Stanley Thornton. At any rate we are told that in his stage act, during the pop singer phase of his career, Mr. Martelly sometimes performed wearing nothing but a diaper. On other occasions he wore even less than that on stage, which is to say nothing at all. Apparently this is considered highly creative in Haitian pop-music circles. Along with minimal clothing, Mr. Martelly's stage act featured maximal profanity.
Sixteen years ago, in fact, Mr. Martelly publicly joked that if he were ever elected President of Haiti he would dance naked on the roof of the presidential palace.
Well, in March this year Martelly actually was elected President of Haiti. The inauguration took place May 14. There will be no roof dance, though. The palace still lies in the ruins to which it was reduced in the great earthquake of January 2010. Much of the rest of Haiti is in a similarly distressful condition.
Not that Haiti has ever, in its 200-plus years of independence, been in an enviable condition. Last year's earthquake had been preceded by devastating hurricanes. It was followed, later last year, by a cholera epidemic. Fewer than one in four Haitians graduates from high school. The nation imports all its energy and most of its food; it exports only small quantities of textiles and minerals. Haiti's most significant economic activity is in fact the consumption of foreign aid.
The thoughtful, humane commentator hesitates to talk about Haiti because it's so hard to find anything positive to say; and saying something negative just seems like piling insults on misfortune — what my parents' generation used to call "mocking the afflicted," a species of gross bad manners. In a way, though, it's really Haiti that is mocking us, or at least mocking the fantasies of human possibility and human transformation nursed by our liberal elites.
Certainly Haiti has endured many misfortunes at the hands of Mother Nature. Other nations have too, though — most recently, Japan— and they don't present the spectacle of misery and destitution that was Haiti even before the earthquake.
We're supposed to believe that all men are equal, that all nations can rise to any level of civilization, given self-government and the opportunity to trade, create, and build. Yet there sits Haiti giving us the finger, mocking all such dreams, making a lie of the noblest liberal ideals and most cherished liberal beliefs.
We look, we pity, we commiserate; yet while looking, pitying, and commiserating, we can't altogether silence that subversive voice whispering in our heads, asking us whether, if the population of Haiti were to be swapped out for an equal number of, say, Koreans, the place would continue to be such a miserable slum. Or that other subversive whisper telling us that the sole and only proper objective of U.S. policy with regard to Haiti is and must be to prevent a mass exodus across the Caribbean to our shores, and that our politicians, for all their lofty humanitarian rhetoric, undoubtedly organize our Haiti policy around that imperative.
Still, while our pols know that the spectacle of a couple of million Haitians coming ashore at Miami would seriously impact their electability, their passion for diversity makes them not at all averse to settling Haitians in the U.S.A. a few ten thousands at a time, when it can be done by stealth.
At the time of the earthquake in January last year there were 48,000 Haitians here illegally, having either snuck in by boat or let their visas expire. Homeland Security gave them Temporary Protected Status, meaning they could not be deported. It only lasted eighteen months, though, so its term has almost expired. It might be good to send them back to help with the rebuilding of their country, except that nobody in our political or bureaucratic elites thinks like that.
So on Tuesday we got an announcement from Janet Napolitano of an extension for another eighteen months for this 48,000. Not only that, she also awarded Temporary Protected Status to a further ten thousand Haitians who've arrived illegally since the quake.
Give me a shout-out if you believe there is anything temporary about this Temporary Protected Status. Ready? Shout! [Sound of crickets chirping.] That's what I thought.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: Back to the DSK story for a moment. Since the accused here was head of the IMF, that organization has been on people's minds. What is it? Basically a machine for international socialism — international wealth-redistribution. You're a Third World country; you get in fiscal difficulties; you go to the IMF and ask for a loan. The IMF says OK, but you have to implement some particular policies — policies that seem sensible to a French champagne socialist. The money the IMF lends comes from rich countries, with the U.S.A. the biggest contributor at 17 percent of the total. So if you want a thumbnail sketch of the IMF, it's a mechanism for handing your taxes over to poor countries on condition they run themselves like France. You got a problem with that?
Item: Washington Post, May 16, quote: "The administration has accelerated direct talks with the Taliban, initiated several months ago, that U.S. officials say they hope will enable President Obama to report progress toward a settlement of the Afghanistan war when he announces troop withdrawals in July." End quote. Well, well, that's good news out of Afghanistan. If the Taliban want the wretched place, let 'em have it, so long as they understand that we'll carpet-bomb anything that looks to our spy satellites and drones remotely like a terrorist training camp. Since we could have done this nine years ago, it's sad to contemplate the waste of lives and treasure in this fool enterprise. But hey, it didn't last quite as long as Vietnam, nor kill as many Americans.
Item: Sometime on Monday morning this week the U.S. government reached the limit on how much it's allowed to borrow — $14.29 trillion. That means the feds can't issue any more bonds, bills, and notes this year, not unless Congress raises the feds' credit limit. Well, boo hoo: or, as Little Richard expressed it somewhat more memorably: [Little Richard clip]. Our Treasury Secretary, 14-year-old Timmy Geithner, has been warning Congress that if they didn't raise the feds' credit limit, monsters would rise from the deep, locusts would strip the land bare of vegetation, and the earth would crash into the Sun. When all of this failed to happen on Monday, little Timmy, like any other doomsday prophet, announced a new date for the apocalypse: August 2nd.
Item: For a clue as to why we've bust through that debt limit, here's a little specimen of the federal government's carefree approach to spending our money. President Obama has announced a new strategy for the Middle East. In future we'll steer our financial aid only to those countries that are making progress towards democracy. Egypt and Tunisia are first in line, with Egypt up for forgiveness on its $1 billion of outstanding debt, plus another billion in new loan guarantees. Billions and billions and more billions into the sinkhole nations of the Middle East. Here's my question: Since, before we can shower this cash on our dear friends in the Middle East we have to borrow it from China and Japan, why don't we just leave it to them to give money to the Arabs, and cut out the middle man?
Item: Donald, we hardly knew ye. In fact we know the Donald very well — well enough to not be surprised that he has dropped out of the 2012 presidential field. Did anyone really think he'd go the distance, all the way to the Convention? Nah. Or if we did, it was just wishful thinking — he sure would have livened up the Convention proceedings. Huckabee's out, too, another depletion of the entertainment factor in next week's election, but otherwise consequential only in turning the evangelical vote over to Michelle Bachmann. Are we looking at a Bachmann-Pawlenty ticket? I wouldn't mind a bit if we were. Meanwhile, though, Mitt Romney hopped on a plane to Las Vegas and came home with his campaign chest heavier by ten million dollars, and it wasn't from playing the tables. Things are warming up.
08 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The Republic has drifted another week closer to the maelstrom, lost another thousand feet of altitude as the pilots wrestle desperately with the controls, slid a little further down history's razor blade, … think up your own metaphors. Where there's life there's hope, though, so let's bring on the lassie from Lancashire to lift our spirits a little. Come on, Gracie.
[Music clip: Gracie Fields, Sing As We Go]