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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. Radio Derb is on the air! Somewhat flustered this morning, I must confess.
When my modest stretch limo pulled up outside Buckley Towers this morning, here in the heart of Manhattan, we found the sidewalk blocked by an unsightly crowd of demonstrators.
To judge from the signs they were displaying and the slogans they were shouting, the demonstrators are apparently some kind of anarchists, or possibly anarcho-syndicalists. The signs said things like Radio Derb — Tool of Capitalist Oppression, and among the chanted slogans I caught the refrain:
It was all most intimidating. Not that I harbor any fear for my own safety, of course. As a true-born Englishman and naturalized American, I laugh at danger. However, my research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy were in the limo with me, having spent the previous evening lucubrating and collating for me in my private library at the Derbyshire estate out on Long Island. It was naturally my duty as a gentleman to protect them from harm. I fear their tender sensibilities had already suffered offense from some of the demonstrators' signs, which I am sorry to say were worded in a very coarse fashion.
I was about to tell Beauregard my chauffeur to drive on to my club where I could ponder a suitable course of action. Then fortunately the Buckley Towers security staff appeared wielding cudgels and cattle prods, and soon cleared a path through the riff-raff so that I and the girls could disembark and cross the sidewalk to our lobby.
Still, it was all very disorienting, and we have not yet altogether recovered our composure. Brandy still looks quite flushed. They are so sensitive, these girls — products of very expensive and exclusive private-school educations.
[Aside: "Are you all right, my dear?" Brandy: "Whatever."]
Duty calls, however, so here am I, your gallantly genial host John Derbyshire, with a round-up of the week's news.
02 — Occupy Wall Street. So what are these "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations all about? A number of things.
First, they're about idealistic-but-ignorant young lefties kicking up the dust. My daughter attends college in New York City. She tells me one of her classmates was planning to go join the protestors. Quote from her:
He didn't seem to have much idea what they were protesting about, but he thought it looked like fun.
So that's one element: Kids at play.
And as I said, the kids are idealistic but ignorant. They're idealistic because they think the world's an unfair place, and they think they know how to fix it. Well, they're right, the world is an unfair place. The good suffer, while the wicked prosper in their wickedness.
Some of that unfairness is built in to the structure of existence, and can't be fixed. Some of the rest results from human malice and folly, and a good portion of it can be fixed … but not by methods these protestors have in mind.
To judge by their published lists of demands, they want socialism. That has been tried, in a very wide variety of climates, environments, and cultures, and it has never fixed anything.
The protestors don't know that. How could they know it? From where would they have learned it? Not from the media, which is dominated by leftists — by graduates, in fact, from the last generation of young protestors, the sixties generation. Not from their schooling, which likewise has little to say about the 20th century's experience with socialism, being too busy teaching the kids about the sinfulness of their own nation and their own ancestors.
Another component here is rich leftist puppet-masters pulling the strings. Affairs like this need organizing and supporting, and that costs money. If you don't think big rich lefties — movie stars like George Clooney and power-freak ideologues like George Soros — if you don't think they're feeding cash to the organizers, you're not paying attention.
And then there's the union angle. We know the SEIU, that's the Service Employees International Union, we know they're involved because they've told us so.
It's hard to figure why they would be, as doing anything at all to slow down the business of Wall Street is suicidal for public-sector unions. That's what SEIU mostly is: It represents workers in health care, which with Medicare and Medicaid propping it up, might as well be public sector, and municipal employees and retirees. New York City, where these demonstrations are going on, is chopping two and a half billion dollars from the municipal budget the next two years.
This past four years of financial troubles, the city has kept going by drawing down an eight billion surplus we built up in the years before the crash. That money's now gone, and I wouldn't be looking for any more bailouts from Uncle Sam. Wall Street's laid off 4,000 workers since May, and everyone knows that's just a start.
Taxes on Wall Street revenues are the city's budget. If Wall Street sneezes, the municipal budget gets pneumonia, and that means big layoffs of municipal workers. How hard is that to figure out? Too hard for the SEIU bosses, I guess.
And to be fair, there's another component to these demonstrations — a populist component, which leftist politicians like Nancy Pelosi, who is by no means as dumb as she often sounds, have latched on to.
Look at these kids. They're middle-class kids from middle-class families — practically all white, by the way, though I'm not holding my breath waiting for anyone to call them racist.
The middle class has been taking a big hit this past few years. The U.S. Census Bureau has just released estimates showing national household median income down seven percent — that's $3,800 — since 1999, and the median is still declining.
That's the national figure; in some places the decline is dramatic. For the state of Wisconsin, it's 14.5 percent.
And while their incomes have been falling, stuff the middle class has to pay for — most notably, health care and college education — has been soaring.
Kids don't know much, and what you hear from them is mostly what they've heard from their parents. The middle class is getting screwed by lousy and stupid government policies — ever-expanding regulation and taxation, bloated federal bureaucracies getting in everybody's way, uncontrolled mass immigration, cockeyed judicial decisions, and foolish wars.
Socialism isn't the solution, as these idiot demonstrators think; but that doesn't mean there isn't a problem.
03 — Cupertino shooting. Another mass shooting by a crazy gunman, this time in Silicon Valley of all places — Cupertino, California, to be exact, home of Apple Computers, a big Hewlett-Packard installation, and numerous other software firms.
This wasn't a rogue computer programmer doing the shooting, though, vexed because his upload wasn't going fast enough. Cupertino is also home of the Lehigh Southwest Cement Permanente plant and quarry, and that's where the shooting happened.
One of the Lehigh employees, 49-year-old Shareef Allman, came to a 4 a.m. meeting on safety at the quarry. He left the meeting, then came back with a rifle and handgun. He used a rope and piece of plywood to jam shut a door and trap his co-workers in the trailer where the meeting was going on. Then he opened fire, killing two and wounding seven, one of whom later died in hospital.
Allman then ran off and tried to hijack a car in a parking lot at the Hewlett-Packard plant a mile away, shooting the car's owner in either the leg or the arm, depending which report you read. He made a call back to his co-workers, telling them he was coming back to finish them off. What a nice touch!
He didn't go back to the quarry, though. He evaded a police manhunt for the whole of that day and night. They finally cornered him the following morning, shooting him dead in what sounds, from the news reports, like suicide-by-cop on Allman's part.
So: another mass killing by a crazy guy. What makes this more newsworthy is some of the extremely weird commentary it has aroused.
For example, while Allman was still on the loose, some of his friends made a video urging him to turn himself in. Quote from Pastor Lee Wilson, quote: "His children need him, the community need him," end quote. That would be the community of crazy murderers, I guess.
Other commentators bent their efforts to coming up with excuses for Allman. A different Wilson, described in the Los Angeles Times as "community activist Walter Wilson," hinted darkly that Allman had been stressed at work. Quote:
He talked about his job in the past, on several occasions, that people were trying to do things to undermine him. He did feel that there were some people there who were doing systemic discriminatory practices.
The San Jose Mercury-News tells us that Allman had indeed filed a discrimination complaint with federal regulators a month ago. Also that Allman had recently had a three-week suspension because his truck had hit an overhead power line while dumping a load.
As more news and interviews came out, it became more and more clear that Allman was a terrible employee. His fellow workers were constantly complaining about the dangerous situations he caused with his reckless driving. He'd turned over a truck on another occasion.
It got to the point where Allman's union rep, Mike Ambrosio, who was one of those wounded in the shooting, had told Allman a week ago that he would no longer represent him in conflicts with the company. Company managers had told other workers to document Allman's accidents and carelessness, presumably having it in mind to set up a legal defense for when they fired him and he sued, as he inevitably would.
Yet outside the company nobody had a harsh word for Allman. Rev. Jethroe Moore, the head of the Silicon Valley NAACP, said Allman was always well-dressed and well-spoken. He ran a cable-access TV show in which he pressed other African American men to be strong, honest leaders, said Pastor Moore. He spoke out against domestic violence. He raised a son and a daughter by himself, and encouraged others to follow his example.
Another quote from Pastor Moore, quote:
He talked about how as black men we need to take responsibility for our families and raise them.
So here we have a guy who was a stand-up gentleman & all-round good citizen in his own African American community, liked and respected, a model parent and mentor, but a disgruntled and dangerous employee among his co-workers, all of whom were apparently white or Hispanic. (The three co-workers Allman killed were John Vallejos, Mark Muñoz, and Manuel Piñon.)
This story's trying to tell us something, if we could only figure out what. Perhaps the Tea Party's to blame.
04 — A slow week in politics. Speaking of which, what's going on in national politics?
Not much this week. Barack Obama's doing the only thing he knows how to do — campaigning. The thing he's actually campaigning for is of course his own re-election next year, but Obama's dressed it up as pitching for his 450 billion dollar jobs bill.
The country can't afford to go another half trillion in the hole, and nobody outside the left wing of the Democratic Party believes that the federal government can create private-sector jobs anyway, but the bill is a convenient hook for Obama to hang his rhetoric on. See, he's trying to save the country, and those stubborn Republicans in Congress just won't let him do it, they just won't pass his nation-saving legislation.
To the credit of the U.S. electorate, the pitch seems not to be working — the President's poll numbers are at new record lows.
Over at the Justice Department, Black Panther Party front man Eric Holder is on a sticky wicket over Fast and Furious, his gun-running operation to Mexican drug gangs. He told Congress back in May that he'd only heard about the operation, quote, "For the first time over the last few weeks." The congressional committee, however, turned up top-level Justice Department memos from almost a year before detailing the operation — memos that, if Holder saw them, prove that he lied to Congress, and if he didn't see them, prove that he's an extremely negligent Attorney General.
Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Rick Perry's still trying to get up off the canvas after that disastrous September 22nd debate, Rick Santorum's working the state of Iowa for all he's worth, and Michele Bachmann is regrouping, promising to come up with a new battle plan.
Mitt Romney's announced his shadow national security council to advise him on foreign policy: a list of thirty-odd names who, guess what, are every one of them neocon retreads from the George W. Bush administration, so that should work out well.
My man Herb is busy selling a book & can't be disturbed.
Oh, what's this news item in the Friday New York Post? Quote:
Prominent New York Republicans endorsed Mitt Romney for President yesterday.
Well, that should seal the deal. When were prominent New York Republicans ever wrong about anything? Look how they've held on to their state.
Mention of the week in politics wouldn't be complete without mention of the controversy over a hunting preserve maintained by Rick Perry's family that bore as part of its name the most abominably offensive word in the entire history of creation, a word so unspeakably unspeakable I dare not speak it.
As I said, a survey of the week in politics wouldn't be complete without mention of this story. So there, I mentioned it.
05 — Alabama's immigration law. The state of Alabama's new immigration law went into effect this week.
At least, most of it did. Some sections have been placed under preliminary injunction by federal judge Sharon Blackburn. However, the section that allows state authorities to question people suspected of being in the country illegally and to hold them without bond, that went into effect; so did the section that lets officials check the immigration status of students in Alabama public schools.
Both those sections have already brought forth results. Under the first, in fact, we already have an arrest. Quote from a report by WSFA Montgomery, quote:
A man identified as Yemeni national was arrested after he could produce no immigration papers. Twenty-four-year-old Mohamed Ali Muflahi, was taken into custody in Etowah County during a drug raid Friday. The Sheriff's Office also seized illegal weapons and other items deemed dangerous.
So this new law, which is still under fierce attack by Eric Holder's Justice Department, may have spared us a nasty terrorist outrage in its very first week on the books.
Even more encouraging, some 2,000 Hispanic students didn't show up to school in Alabama on Monday, according to state education officials. That amounts to about 7 percent of the state's Hispanic student population. NPR reports that many of Alabama's illegals are moving to other states.
That's rough on the other states, but it puts the lie to the line you hear from open-borders types about how you can't deport twelve million people. If you have the right laws, and enforce those laws, people will self-deport.
The news that the people's laws are actually working caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the professional Left. Here's Father Jack Kane, director of Hispanic Ministry for the Archdiocese of Mobile in Alabama, quote:
Everybody is suffering and the children are suffering the most. It is a dark day for Alabama and for America when politicians praise a law that dehumanizes people and pushes children out of school.
In the financial circumstances our nation's in, Father, and with nine percent unemployment, a lot of us think it was a dark day when we declared our willingness to educate other nation's children at our own expense.
Much more in accord with my own sentiments was Alabama Representative Mo Brooks, a Republican, who told the Politico website that the new law is doing exactly what the legislators intended it to do. Quote from him:
Those are the intended consequences of Alabama's legislation with respect to illegal immigrants. We don't have the money in America to keep paying for the education of everybody else's children from around the world. We simply don't have the financial resources to do that. Second, with respect to illegals who are now leaving jobs in Alabama, that's exactly what we want.
On Rep. Brooks' last point, an official in Alabama's Marshall County, name of Chuck Ellis, told Fox news that unemployment in the county has dropped a tick, from 9.5 percent to 9.3 percent. Quote from him:
A lot of meat-packing plants that have been using migrant workers are beginning to be more stringent in checking things.
Rule of law — how sweet it is! Ah, if we could only get the federal government to enforce its laws. But that's just idle dreaming, I know. Forget I even said it.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: The speed of light in vacuo is, as British schoolchildren delight in telling each other, one point eight billion furlongs per fortnight, a universal constant known to physicists as c. (The precise number is 1.8026175 billion furlongs per fortnight, and that's a British billion.) Under our current understanding of physical laws, no two objects possessing mass can move relative to each other at this or any greater speed.
There has therefore been much interest in a result from CERN, the big European particle-physics lab in Geneva. The CERN researchers have been firing showers of neutrinos through the earth to a detector 450 miles away in Italy and measuring their speed of travel to high precision. The neutrinos consistently clock up speeds greater by a few parts in a million than c.
So is our physics all wrong, then? That can't be ruled out. The neutrino, however, is a very elusive little devil, as can be seen from his ability to slip through hundreds of miles of solid rock without so much as swerving.
After checking and re-checking their results, the CERN boffins have thrown up their hands and, in the true scientific spirit, asked other physicists to scrutinize the data and offer suggestions.
The best that anyone's come up with so far is that in passing through the gravitational field of all that massy rock, the neutrinos have been able to take short-cuts through some of the extra dimensions of spacetime predicted by some of the more advanced physical theories.
That would be pretty neat; but the math gets real complicated there, so we'll have to wait to see if the boffins can work it out.
Item: Yet more news from the wonderful world of science. Global-warming skepticism has gained another recruit: Norwegian-born American physicist Ivar Giaever, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1973.
Prof. Giaever has resigned from the American Physical Society (of which he was a Fellow), citing his longstanding unhappiness with the Society's assertion in a 2007 policy statement that, quote, "The evidence is incontrovertible: global warming is occurring." End quote.
In science, says Prof. Giaever, nothing is incontrovertible. We-ell, that is somewhat hyperbolic: The Sun is incontrovertibly bigger than the Moon, for example. Given our incomplete understanding of this planet's exceedingly complex climate, though, and the politicization of the topic, the APS statement was arrogant and unwise, and ought to be modified.
Before we hoist Prof. Giaever on our shoulders and parade him round the field, let it just be noted that he is not a climatologist and has never published on the subject. Also that he was a keen supporter of Barack Obama in 2008, one of 70 Nobel Prize-winning scientists who signed a petition endorsing the candidate.
A physics Nobel Prize honors, quote from the Nobel website, "important discovery or invention," not general wisdom. Prof. Giaever has since, like many another, registered disappointment with the President.
Item: More Nobel Prize winners, this time the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. It's been awarded to three women from the Third World for their efforts on behalf of women's rights.
Two of these women are from Liberia in West Africa, the other one is from Yemen, a poor and chaotic Arab country.
I can see Radio Derb listeners rolling their eyes at "women's rights"; but when you're through with the eye-rolling, just pause to consider that where you have an advance in women's rights, you have a decline in birth rates.
Total Fertility Rate in Liberia is 5.13 children per woman; in Yemen it's 4.63. For a steady-state population you want 2.1, and practically the entire developed world is below 2.
So if you don't want your grandkids to live in a world whose population is wellnigh all Third World, raise a cheer for these Nobel Peace Prize winners: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakul Karman of Yemen.
Item: Yet another Nobel Peace Prize story: The Dalai Lama got the prize in 1989. It didn't help him when he recently applied for a visa to enter South Africa so he could attend the 80th birthday party for his fellow Peace Prize laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Why would South Africa not give the Dalai Lama a visa? His visa application was "incomplete" says the government. What, he forgot to dot the "i" in "Dalai"?
It wouldn't, would it, be anything to do with the fact that Communist China is now South Africa's largest trading partner? Perish the thought!
And spare a thought for Communist China's very own Nobel Peace Prize laureate, dissident writer Liu Xiaobo. How's he doing?
It's hard to say. He's still in the same jail he was in a year ago, when he got the prize. His wife apparently has been able to visit him, but she can't tell us anything becuse she's been cut off from all communication with the outside world, in spite of not having been charged with anything. She's under house arrest, and her phone and internet connections have been cut. Her apartment is surrounded by secret-police goons, and anyone who tries to approach is turned away.
Why don't the ChiComs just go the whole distance, pass a Stalin-type law making it a crime to be the wife of an Enemy of the People, and hustle Mrs Liu off to a labor camp? I guess it must be the influence of that liberalizing faction in the ChiCom leadership I keep reading about.
Item: On Fox and Friends the other day, Hank Williams Jr. compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and John Boehner to Bibi Netanyahu. One or other of those comparisons, I'm not sure which one, caused ESPN to drop Hank from his gig introducing Monday Night Football.
I'm going to cleave to the 11th Commandment here and not criticize a fellow Republican. Say what you like about Hank Jr., I've always had a soft spot for the guy and never really believed the wild hillbilly act. Just a nice middle-class boy with a drink problem, was my point of view.
Anyway, on a country music scale of values, getting dropped by ESPN is a bagatelle compared with Hank Senior getting fired from the Grand Ole Opry in 1952. Hank Junior's going to be all right. Good luck there, Hank.
07 — Signoff. And that's it, good people. I guess there's not much doubt who'll be singing us out this week, is there? More from Radio Derb next week, and over to you, Hank Jr.
[Music clip: Hank Williams Jr., "All My Rowdy Friends."]