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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air once again, for your pleasure and instruction. This is your breathlessly genial host John Derbyshire, and before we begin today I just want to share with you some wonderful news that has just arrived on the news service wire. My staff has had no time to prepare a digest, so I shall read the historic words just as they came to me from the wire. The dateline here is Ashgabad, October 26th. Quote:
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov was awarded Turkmenistan's highest state award … at a meeting of the Council of Elders of Turkmenistan in Ashgabad. The decree on conferring the title of Hero of Turkmenistan on the head of state and awarding him the Jubilee Medal was passed by the national parliament — the Mejlis of Turkmenistan.
End historic quote.
All hail the wise and beneficent President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov! All hail the noble republic of Turkmenistan! [Clip: Turkmen national anthem.]
02 — Occupy Oakland riot. Here in our own modest republic, politics is carried out in a more pedestrian style. We don't confer official tiles like Hero of the U.S.A.
If we did, though, my nominee for this week would be Howard Jordan, interim police chief of the city of Oakland, in California. Quote from him on Thursday, quote:
We are committed to allowing free speech, but the First Amendment doesn't allow violence or endangering the public or property.
That followed Tuesday night's riot in Oakland. Like our own metropolis here on the other coast, Oakland has been cursed with a rabble of leftists occupying its public places — in Oakland's case, they were camping out in the little park facing City Hall.
(The proper name of that park, by the way, is the Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, named after an American of Japanese parentage who got elected to the City Council forty years ago but was otherwise undistinguished. While I am sure Mr. Ogawa was an upstanding citizen like a hundred million others, and deserving of honor and respect thereby in appropriate measure, I have not been able to discover that he invented anything, established anything, reformed anything, or performed any noteworthy deeds. In the U.S.A. of our time, you can get large, prominent public places named after you without achieving any distinction at all, so long as your bloodlines meet certain conditions. This is the triumph of essence over existence … But I am telling you something you already know. Let us press on with this week's story from Oakland.)
On Tuesday morning the Oakland police dismantled that camp. This enraged the rabble. Tuesday night they staged a march back downtown. The police did what we pay them to do: they defended public property against people wishing to despoil it. Rocks and bottles were thrown at the police. The police responded with tear gas and beanbag rounds.
(I'm sorry to interrupt myself again, but here's a public service announcement from Radio Derb. Throwing rocks or bottles at people is a bad thing to do. It is in fact a crime in all jurisdictions, the crime of battery. Throwing rocks or bottles at policemen is a really bad idea. If you do this, and then shortly afterwards catch the tangy whiff of tear gas, or feel the impact of a beanbag round, you should not be terrifically surprised. End of public service announcement.)
The lefties are making much of the fact that one of those injured, possibly by police action, served in the U.S. Marine Corps until 2010. This was 24-year-old Scott Olson, veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq.
Mr Olson is a member of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War. A spokeman for the group, one Jose Sanchez, extruded the following little pellet of bogus indignation, quote:
I think it is a sad state of affairs when a Marine can't assemble peacefully in the streets without getting injured.
Leaving aside the grammatical issue of what sense, if any, can be attached to the concept of one person assembling — I'm going to assume that Mr Olson was all in one piece when he joined the marchers — I can't see the relevance of Mr Olson's service.
The Marine Corps is a splendid body of warriors, and you'll walk a long mile to find anyone with more respect for them than I have. There are a few bad apples in there, though, as any Marine will tell you: or, if you doubt it, just google "winchester atrocity."
Well, Chief Jordan at least said the right thing. Once again, quote: "We are committed to allowing free speech, but the First Amendment doesn't allow violence or endangering the public or property."
By that point, on Thursday, the politicians had taken over, whimpering and wringing their hands. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan had visited Scott Olson in hospital and made a weepy apology. Where's George Patton when we need him?
The protestors had regrouped, marched around the city, and started a new camp, again on Frank Ogawa plaza in front of City Hall. The police, on instruction from the cringing politicians, are practising "restraint" — which means they are not enforcing the people's laws.
Everybody's getting lawyered up, and there will be claims and lawsuits to the crack of doom, some of the protestors no doubt ending up with millions of taxpayer dollars in the pockets of their smelly jeans.
If Wikipedia can be trusted — always a necessary caution — six of the top ten employers in Oakland are federal, county, or city departments, or health-care outfits, which might as well be public.
Way out ahead of the pack are the offices of Alameda County, with ten and a half thousand employees, nearly twice as many as runner-up Wells Fargo. In fact the county offices are increasing their headcount at quite a fair clip: up 34 percent from '09 to '10.
So here's some advice to those protestors angry that no-one will hire them. Take a shower, put on a shirt and tie, and Get a Government Job. That's where the employment growth is in Oakland.
And if you want a government job with a bit of excitement to it, why not consider a career with Oakland Police Department?
03 — Crybaby culture. In case you doubted that we are raising a generation of sniveling crybabies, here's a representative sample: an Ohio University student group calling themselves Students Teaching Against Racism in Society.
Apparently having nothing better to do, these whimpering sissies have created a poster campaign to, quote, "highlight the racial stereotyping all too common in Halloween party dress." I'm just looking at the posters they've produced.
First poster: A young lady who looks to me like one of the southeast Asian hill people — a Lao perhaps, or a Hmong — with a sad expression and downcast eyes, holding up a picture of a Japanese Geisha girl. "We're a culture, not a costume. This is not who I am, and this is not OK," sobs the legend.
Well, no: It's 2,574 miles from Tokyo to Vientiane. The inhabitants of the two places speak languages of different families, practice different religions and folkways, and have nothing in common whatsoever. So what's your point, lady?
Second poster: A young black lady with an unsmiling but otherwise neutral expression — maybe a hint of attitude — holding up a picture of … what? It's not easy to tell. A different black lady apparently about to get a neck bite from a white guy. I really don't get that. Anyway, same legend as before: "We're a culture, not a costume …" Again, why not? You don't take vampire bites? There's something here I'm not getting.
Third poster: A young man with a reproving look — the look you get from people when you break wind in an elevator. I mean, I imagine that's the look you'd get. I have of course never done anything so ill-bred myself.
The picture he's holding is of a stage Mexican — droopy Zapata mustache, poncho, sombrero — sitting on a donkey. At least I think he's sitting on it: it's hard to tell, and perhaps best not to know.
I guess the young fellow is supposed to be Hispanic. Here you see the problem with illustrating diversity. I've expressed the opinion before that "Hispanic" is a bogus category. None the less, advertisers, the producers of college brochures, and everyone else involved in promoting diversity, they all have to try to present some figure that will make people say: "Oh, that's a Hispanic."
This is hard, because a Hispanic might look like any number of people — like Ricky Ricardo, like Vicente Fox, like Emiliano Zapata, like Joan Baez, like Los Paraguayos, like Jose Feliciano, like Charlie Sheen, or like an Aztec god mask or a Mayan bas-relief. What's a graphic artist to do?
Fourth poster: Another young chap, somewhat swarthy-looking — I would actually have taken him for the stereotype Hispanic. He looks very unhappy — about to burst into tears, I'd say. The picture he's holding up shows a grinning Arab in a burnoose, with sticks of explosive strapped to him, and holding a detonator. So I guess this lad is an Arab. Same text.
That's what our college students are up to nowadays: Showing off their carefully-nursed and petted narcissism for all to see, like old-time beggars displaying their sores.
These young ninnies live in the most prosperous, most tranquil, most pettily legalistic society that ever existed, and they imagine they are enduring insufferable oppression with no hope of redress. Poor, poor little things!
I submitted a poster of my own to Students Teaching Against Racism, in hopes of making some small contribution to wiping out the terrible scourge of hurt feelings. My poster shows me, with a tear running down my cheek to show my own exquisite awareness of my own victimhood, holding up a picture of a Halloween partygoer dressed up as Simon Legree, with a couple of snarling pit bulls on leashes, a bottle of whiskey in his pocket, a whip in his free hand and a spare set of manacles hanging off his belt.
My poster comes with the obligatory message, quote: "We're a culture, not a costume. This is not who I am, and this is not OK," end quote.
For reasons I am at a loss to understand, my poster was not accepted. Perhaps I spelled one of the words wrong …
04 — Chuck Schumer's homebuyer visa. Here's the latest wheeze from my senior senator, Chuck Schumer: a home-buyer's visa … Although there is shared responsibility here: Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican, is co-sponsoring the legislation, to his everlasting shame.
Under this proposed bill, a foreigner making a real-estate investment of half a million dollars or more would get a visa to enter the U.S.A. and stay for up to six months a year. The foreigner wouldn't be able to work: for that, he'd have to apply for one of the dozen or so guest-worker visas through the usual process already in place: an F-1 visa, or an H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, or a J, or an L, or one of the O or P visas.
So the first thing you notice about this new visa category, if you're a person who has a shadow of a clue about U.S. immigration procedures, is that it's exactly like the current B-2 tourist visa. That lets you come to the U.S.A. without permission to work; and having come, there is not, nor ever has been, anything to stop you buying property here. Matter of fact, you don't even have to come to the States for that.
The second thing that comes to mind is that this is a market fix. If our moronic politicians would just leave things the hell alone, the housing market would find a level where Americans who want houses could afford to buy them. Instead, Schumer and Lee seem to want to bid up house prices — get a new bubble going, in fact — by encouraging foreign buyers to enter the market, snapping up properties. Brilliant.
Then there's the notion that these foreign buyers would create jobs in the U.S.A. Well, to be sure, they'd need some illegal Guatemalans to mow the lawns of their new houses, but that's not what Schumer's thinking of. Or perhaps it is — down here in these lightless depths of political stupidity, anything's possible.
The people we shall in fact get taking up this visa will be Mexican drug lords, the idle offspring of Chinese Communist party bosses, and junior members of the Saudi royal family. So yes, jobs will be created … for drug mules, industrial spies, and casino croupiers.
If you detect a slight flavor of bile in these comments, you are not mistaken. My daughter has just started college in New York City. She is commuting daily from Long Island, an hour and a half each way. She really wanted to get lodgings in New York City, but try as we might we could find nothing we could afford.
New York City property prices are outrageous, and rising. Why? Making inquiries, I learned that a huge segment of the buyer side in New York property transactions are foreigners. This is even before Chuck Schumer's piece of lunacy goes into law.
If Schumer's bill ever does go into law, there'll be no Americans left in New York City at all, except a few thousand mega-rich.
Possibly that's the plan. Do you ever get the feeling that our ruling classes are waging a low-level war against the citizens of this country?
05 — Free speech under threat. There is a natural and inevitable tension between the principle of freedom of speech and the requirements of good manners. If I were to make it my habit, whenever anyone greeted me with a cheery "Hey, how are ya?" to reply: "I'm OK, thanks, other than a mild case of gonorrhea" — well, I would have exercised my freedom of speech, but I should soon find myself shunned by decent society, and quite rightly so.
In the larger arena of public affairs, good manners as our grandfathers understood the term involved, for example, not jeering ignorantly at a religion different from one's own, not committing libel or slander against one's political enemies, and not demanding special rights or privileges for one's own tribe or caste.
Unfortunately those good commonsense principles can all, with just a little stretching and tweaking, be deformed into the totalitarian forms of political correctness.
Not jeering ignorantly at the other guy's religion becomes a ban on saying anything critical at all; not committing libel or slander against one's political enemies becomes proscription of all frank and vigorous speech; not demanding special rights or privileges for one's own tribe or caste turns into its direct opposite — demanding such special privileges as compensation for real or imagined historical wrongs.
It all illustrates the problem of thinking too much. When good manners were a matter of common sense and internalized social habits, we had more freedom of speech and action. When the accurséd intellectuals took over and the relevant issues became the subjects of Ph.D. theses and the names of university departments, good manners got twisted up into speech codes, moral posturing, and specious jurisprudence.
Enough editorializing. Here's this week's case of political correctness run amok. An event titled the Preserving Freedom Conference was scheduled for November 11th at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The conference organizers are the Sharia Action Awareness Network, which describes itself on the conference website as, quote:
A coalition of individuals and organizations who are engaged in educating the American citizenry about how Sharia Law stands in opposition to Constitutional Law, and why that poses a threat to our American way of life.
Here are the titles of some of the sessions listed in the conference schedule.
Star speaker at the event is Robert Spencer, a real scholar who knows the Koran backwards and forwards — he's been studying it for decades — and who has written a shelf of books about Islam. I've engaged in some exchanges with Spencer myself, and found him a courteous and exceptionally well-informed debater.
Last weekend the owners of the Nashville hotel, Amerimar Enterprises of Denver, Colorado, announced that they were canceling the event's bookings. A senior vice president of Amerimar, name of Stephen Eckley, justified the cancellation as follows:
There were veiled threats that there were going to be protests that could easily erupt into violence.
The implied message here, going out loud and clear to every group of crazy fanatics in America, if not the world, is that if someone somewhere is organizing a conference of quiet, scholarly people to discuss issues you would prefer not be discussed, you can shut the whole thing down with a few whispered threats. Just pick up the phone!
A country in which that can happen is a country that has sold the pass on freedom of discussion. It is a country part-way down the road to totalitarian conformism.
And this hotel cancellation is no isolated incident. Last week the Hyatt hotel in Sugar Land, Texas, canceled a Tea Party event because one of the scheduled speakers was author Pamela Geller, who has written critically about Islam. The threatening phone calls here were threatening lawsuits, and were made by CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading enemy of our First Amendment freedoms.
In an even more disturbing case, a former Maryland state legislator, name of Saqib Ali, has published an open letter demanding that the Doubletree Hotel in Annapolis, Maryland cancel a conference of Maryland Conservative Action this weekend.
The conference is called Turning the Tides, and features a list of distinguished speakers, including Frank Gaffney, who worked in the Reagan Department of Defense, Ken Timmerman, who has written admirably on global affairs, ex-Congressman Fred Gandy, and British government adviser Lord Monckton.
This Annapolis conference isn't even particularly about Islam. The schedule promises talks on global warming, property rights, education, and the integrity of elections. It's just too conservative for Mr Ali and the co-sponsors of his open letter: the Council on American-Islamic Relations of course, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Islamic Society of Annapolis, CASA de Maryland, and a homosexualist group called Equality Maryland.
If these thugs get their way, any conference for the airing of any conservative viewpoint will soon by impossible in the U.S.A. The Tea Party, which to the best of my knowledge has not yet thrown a single bottle or rock at a single policeman, will have to hold its meetings in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Freedom of speech will be a fading memory in this republic.
Fortunately there are signs of resistance. The organizers of the Nashville conference are fighting back. The abrupt cancellation of their event has cost them tens of thousands of dollars.
An organization called Liberty Council, based in Orlando, Florida, has written to the aforementioned Stephen Eckley, spokes-weasel for the hotel chain, asking, quote:
Have you … informed the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice of these threats? Have you turned over all information in your possession to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for them to verify and investigate? If not, why not?
They follow up by pointing out that failure to report the alleged threats constitutes cooperation and apparent agreement with the threateners, possibly subjecting the hotel chain to, quote,
liability for conspiracy to commit civil rights violations, in addition to contractual liability for unjustifiable breach of contract.
I am sure that Liberty Council knows as well as you and I do that to look for any action in the matter from Eric Holder's Justice Department is about as realistic as expecting Kim Jong Il to hire in Ron Paul as senior economic adviser. Those aren't Eric Holder's "people" having their conferences wrecked, you see.
Still, the protest must be made, and all praise to Liberty Council for making it. Our freedoms are under dire threat, but they haven't yet been extinguished.
06 — Miscellany. Who's this who just came into the studio? Why, it's Miss Ellany — Our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: The European financial crisis turned a corner, though whether the corner leads to sunlit uplands or to a dark swamp, opinions are divided. I am naturally drawn by temperament towards the swamp side of the argument, but plenty of more cheerful souls agree with me.
This week's agreement was basically a massive trillion-dollar bailout to save the banks that had been dumb enough to extend huge loans to unproductive basket-case economies like Greece, Italy, and Spain. It will buy a few months of calm, and the stock market bounced up accordingly, but the underlying problems remain.
In fact a new problem has likely been introduced, in that some of that trillion dollars will come from China. Klaus Regling, head of the Euro bailout fund, was in Peking the day after the agreement. Quote from him:
It will be interesting to listen to them, like I listen to investors from many other parts of the world.
Jawohl, Herr Regling, I bet it will be interesting to listen to the ChiComs dictate terms.
So now Europe's financial future depends in part on a rickety, corrupt regime with major structural problems of its own and the world's most opaque financial system. What could possibly go wrong?
Item: Incredibly, there was no GOP presidential debate this week, unless there was one going on when Mrs Derbyshire wanted to watch Dancing with the Stars.
We did get some polls though. The main thing they show is that Herman Cain's appeal is more enduring than most pundits thought it would be. In some polls he is ahead of Mitt Romney — 24 to 20 in one I saw. A lot of this is Cain's sheer likeability; the rest is down to his not being Mitt Romney.
The other thing that's clear is that Rick Perry isn't making much of a recovery. That's cheering to me, as an immigration restrictionist, because there's no doubt that what holed Perry below the water line was that dumb remark in the September 22nd debate that people who don't want to reward illegal immigrants have no heart.
Subtracting out my own bias as best I can, though, I see there's more to Perry's continuing slump than that. He's the anti-Cain: He doesn't come over as likeable, and on the RINO scale he's way too close to Mitt Romney's end.
There's still a way to go, though, and Cain's weaknesses are showing — mainly his complete lack of interest in quite large policy areas. Cain tells us he's taken on a raft of advisers, but no amount of advice will make up for a lifetime's lack of interest.
Onward and upward to a likely Romney nomination. Hey, look on the bright side: at least he's not John McCain.
Item: Pat Buchanan's got a new book out: another one of those books that, as someone said of my most recent production, ought to be sold with a complimentary razor blade. Suicide of a Superpower is the title, and I heartily recommend it.
The book has been met with a lot of shrieking and sputtering from designated victim groups on account of Pat writes frankly about demography.
The victimologists are particularly outraged by the chapter heading, quote, "The End of White America." An outfit called Color of Change has launched a petition to get Pat fired from his slot as a commentator on MSNBC.
Who are Color of Change? Well, here's their mission statement from their website ColorOfChange.org, quote:
ColorOfChange.org exists to strengthen Black America's political voice. Our goal is to empower our members — Black Americans and our allies — to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone.
So it's an advocacy group for black Americans. And this group that exists to promote the interests of black people wants Pat Buchanan fired because he laments the declining influence of white people. Pure PC logic.
Item: News from the wonderful world of science.
Here's a thing you've always wondered about: Why don't woodpeckers get brain damage from using their heads as jack hammers? Well, wonder no more.
Quote from the BBC website, quote:
For years, scientists have examined the anatomy of woodpeckers' skulls to find out how they pull off their powerful pecking without causing themselves harm.
For years! How d'you get a multi-year grant for something like that? I'm in the wrong line of work.
OK, what's the answer? Quote:
The birds have little "sub-dural space" between their brains and their skulls, so the brain does not have room to bump around as it does in humans. Also, their brains are longer top-to-bottom than front-to-back, meaning the force against the skull is spread over a larger brain area.
There you go. Now we just have to train the little critters to box. [Clip: "Rocky" theme.]
07 — Signoff. That's it, listeners. After that last news item, our choice of closing music is a foregone conclusion.
There'll be more from Radio Derb next week; and in the meantime, I urge all of you — including you, Pat — to smile at misfortune, seek out those silver linings, and above all, keep your peckers up!
[Music clip: Gloria Wood, "The Woody Woodpecker song."]