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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. Greetings, ladies and gentlemen. Radio Derb here, with your weekly ration of news seen through a prism of reactionary skepticism.
This is your peripatetically genial host John Derbyshire, fresh in from a four-day trip to the midwest. Let's see what's been happening in my absence.
02 — Sandra Fluke testifies. The big story of the week was a secondary one arising from testimony at a Congressional hearing two weeks ago, February 23rd. The testimonialist at that hearing was one Sandra Fluke, a law student at Georgetown University.
Georgetown, let's note before we go any further, is in the top 14 law schools on U.S. News & World Report rankings. It's only just barely in the top 14, actually at number 14, but that's good enough. It's widely understood that the top 14 law schools are the ones that feed the judicial elite. Graduates of Georgetown, as presumably Ms Fluke will soon be, have a ticket to great wealth and power.
So two weeks ago here was this Sandra Fluke dame testifying to a bunch of congresscreeps — Elijah Cummings, Carolyn Maloney, Eleanor Holmes-Norton, and Nancy Pelosi in the chair.
The main thing Ms Fluke wanted to tell them was, that contraceptives should be free to Georgetown's female law students.
To put it another way, these Georgetown law students, on a fast track to jobs with high six-figure salaries in corporate law or state and federal judiciaries, should have their birth control paid for them by plumbers, roofers, subway motormen, schoolteachers, ranchers, Wal-Mart greeters, systems analysts, fast-food franchisees, fighter pilots, airline check-in clerks, and opinion journalists.
Watching Ms Fluke give her testimony in that creaky affectless voice you hear nowadays from those in, or aspiring to, the upper-middle-classes, it occurred to me that we are in Paradise. Our society, I mean, has reached a state of perfection, or something very close to it.
When I was a kid, the social injustices we heard about were serious stuff. Down in the slums there were rats and head lice and outdoor toilets. Men doing physical work, which was most men, got disabled & couldn't get compensation. Women were shut out of professions. There was real discrimination, some of it legalized: against Catholics in Northern Ireland, against Protestants in Southern Ireland (I know, you never heard about that, but it's true), against blacks in the U.S.A.
The oldest generation of people I grew up amongst could remember much worse: child labor, poor people dying because they couldn't afford medical treatment, malnutrition and vitamin deficiency in kids, coal miners locked out when they asked for better wages, helpless old people freezing to death in parish work-houses.
Well within living memory, Western society has been seriously unjust.
And now, what do citizens have to complain about in front of congressional committees? That they are expected to pay for their own contraception, that's what. At a Catholic university! Which they are attending in order to launch themselves into careers among the high elite!
If that is the measure of social injustice in a.d. 2012, I say we've reached Paradise.
Be that as it may, Ms Fluke's testimony was absurd, filled with lies and exaggerations, all much worked over by commentators since. I'm sure you've heard the commentary by now.
Sample: If getting birth control devices or medication on a college's insurance policy is your aim, why on earth would you enrol in a Catholic college?
Sample: Polycystic ovarian syndrome can be treated in many ways that don't involve contraceptives.
Sample: Three thousand dollars for three years of birth control is a ridiculous price: Planned Parenthood sells condoms at four cents per item. If it's pills you insist on, a pharmacy near the Georgetown campus sells a month's supply for nine dollars.
Sample: And in any case, unmarried students should be studying, not fornicating … Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Incredibly, it seems to me, Ms Fluke's entitled whining, so easily exposed as the fatuous gibberish it was, was taken seriously, by no less a person than the President of the United States. The POTUS actually phoned the woman and they wept together about the cruelty and injustice of trainee elites having to pay for their own sexual precautions.
I can't connect with this at all. Sandra Fluke seems to me to be some kind of space alien. It is astounding to me that anyone — much less the President of the United States! — regards her as having made some kind of contribution to the national conversation.
Watching Ms Fluke's testimony, I just wanted to yell at the screen: "Shut up, you pampered brat! Get back to the library and do some studying!"
She tells us that Obama, in his phone call to her, told her her parents should be proud of her. Am I the only American who thinks that her parents should be dragged through the streets in chains behind wagons and pelted with rotten fruit? Probably.
Am I really this old? When did this strange race of creaky-voiced self-important whingeing, emoting creeps take over the nation's attention? Why on earth should anyone be expected to pay for another person's carnal pleasures? Especially when the other person is training to enter the high elite?
I feel disoriented. This is America? This?
03 — Rush apologizes. Sorry, my blood was starting to boil there. Well, Sandra Fluke's testimony was actually the backstory. It happened two weeks ago, commentators chewed over it, and it faded into the background noise.
Then Rush Limbaugh picked it up. Rush is the host of a radio program, and therefore a competitor of Radio Derb's … though not, in our opinion, a very serious one, though I'm sure Rush does his best.
On February 29th, that's a week last Wednesday, Rush said the following thing to his small but loyal audience:
[Clip: Rush, "What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex …"]
The next day Rush went further:
[Clip: Rush, "If we're going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch …"]
By this time all the feminist victim whiners, and in fact the entire political left, was lined up behind Ms Fluke. They got up a campaign to get Rush's advertisers to pull their support. Many advertisers dutifully did so — more than two dozen last time I looked, including big names like Allstate, AOL, and Sears.
The Left can do that. A downside of capitalism is that companies hate being associated with anything controversial. If a controversy splits the population in two, one half on each side of the controversy, then a commercial company associated in the public mind with one side of the controversy will lose the other side as customers. Losing half their customers is not a thing companies strive for.
And who gets to decide what is controversial? Why, the Left of course. They control the public discourse. Any outlet that depends on advertising knows this.
That's why the Right often seems so timid. If you're a right-wing media outlet and you depend in any degree on commercial advertising, there are places you can't go — places defined by the political Left through their own outlets: big national broadsheet newspapers, all the major TV networks, NPR, the universities, the schools, the judiciary, the churches, the United Nations … the list has no end.
Imagine a left-wing commentator who aroused the ire of some right-wing group — right-to-lifers, for example. Now suppose the right-to-lifers start working the phones trying to get that show's advertisers to pull out. You think they would? No way! Right-to-lifers couldn't possibly get the noise level up to where the Left can get it, because they don't have the megaphones. The Left has them all.
The condition we're in, in fact, is that the Left can say anything they like, and they can tell us what to say. Let me tell you, as a guy who writes for conservative outlets — outlets that carry mainstream advertising, I mean — my editors tremble in their boots at the thought that something they say might tick off Rachel Maddow or MediaMatters. If they do that, they're ground beef, and they know it. That's the power of the Left.
Now, do you think CNN or MSNBC or CBS or the New York Times or the faculty of Harvard University walk around on tiptoe for fear that one of their employees might offend Michael Savage or National Review? Do you think?
Bill Maher gets a pass for talking about Sarah Palin's family of, quote, "inbred weirdos." David Letterman, also on Palin, speaking of her, quote, "slutty flight attendant look": did anyone notice? When Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a slut, was any advertising pulled?
Or check out Michelle Malkin's March 7th column, "The War on Conservative Women." It's there on her website, MichelleMalkin.com — which does not carry advertising, not so's you'd notice anyway.
Michelle runs through some of the things she's been called by big-name lefties: by Keith Olbermann, for instance, who back in 2009 called Michelle, quote, "A big mashed up bag of meat with lipstick on it." Nice. Did any of MSNBC's advertisers pull out? D'ya think?
Oh, I should note that Olbermann recently tried to weasel out of having made that remark about Michelle. What he actually said, he told us the other day, was … Well, let the man speak for himself:
[Clip: Olbermann, "I said Ms Malkin was animated by, quote, 'mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk fascistic hatred without which Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.'"]
See, Olbermann didn't say that Michelle is a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it. No no no! What he said was, if she weren't a morally bankrupt fascist, then she would be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it.
Now that's what I call a graceful apology. I bet Michelle feels so much better after hearing that.
Well, last Saturday, with advertisers fleeing his show in droves as the leftist goons flooded their switchboards, Rush issued an apology to Sandra Fluke. Game, set, and match to the pampered victimological lefty whiner who wants you and me and waitresses and nurses and coal miners and filing clerks to pay for her sex romps while she heads for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
You don't often see elite arrogance right out in the open like that, naked and unashamed, but we saw it when Sandra Fluke testified to congress. And she got away with it, and now she's a national heroine, praised and admired by that other elite law school product, Barack Obama.
(Tell me, doctor: Why do I have this recurring vision of fleets of B-52s raining big iron bombs down on our elite law schools? Why, doctor?)
Well, that's the country we're living in. The Left controls all public speech. They don't want any disagreement heard outside narrow limits they define. If you tick them off, they'll shut you up, because they can. If they tick you off, you can't do a thing about it. There is no way for you to do anything. They can say what they like.
The Left can say anything they like, because they run the show. It's their world, we just rent space in it, and we're expected to follow the house rules, as written by them.
04 — Sex at college. Here's a young lady Sandra Fluke ought to be able to recruit to the cause: Laura Sidla, age 22.
Last year Ms Sidla was a senior at Stonehill College, a Roman Catholic liberal-arts school in Easton, Massachusetts. For that senior year, her assigned college roommate was Lindsay Blankmeyer, same age.
Ms Blankmeyer is suing the college. She claims that Ms Sidla engaged in uninhibited sexual congress with her boyfriend, in the room, while she, Ms Blankmeyer, was trying to sleep a few feet away. She further claims that when she asked the college to resolve the situation by giving one or other of them a different room, the college did nothing.
Ms Blankmeyer further alleges that Ms Sidla would engage in sexually inappropriate video chatting when Lindsay was in the room; and that Ms Sidla stayed up late with the lights on, Skyped with her boyfriend at all hours and helped herself to Ms Blankmeyer's belongings.
The New York Post describes Ms Sidla, with no irony I can detect, as, quote, "a vivacious, popular honors student and nonprofit worker from Rhode Island."
Yes, she certainly sounds vivacious; and it's not hard to think of circles in which she might be extremely popular. I hope the phrase "nonprofit worker" also covers her dorm-room activities: I wouldn't want Rush Limbaugh to get any ideas.
Excuse me, but does anyone at our colleges do any, you know, studying?
My impression that I myself am hopelessly antique, and that public morality did a 180-degree turn when I wasn't paying attention, was fortified by reading the comment threads on this story. Commenters mostly took the view that the plaintiff, Ms Blankmeyer, is a repulsive prude with unresolved sexual problems, and that the lawsuit is just sour grapes on her part because she is not being rogered at anything like the heroic pace maintained by the admirably sporting and obviously well-adjusted Ms Sidla.
Trying to get on board with this new morality, I have forwarded Sandra Fluke's email address to Ms Sidla, in hopes Ms Fluke will be able to pressure Stonehill College to cover Ms Sidla's contraceptive requirements. If $3,000 is the contraceptive bill for an average Georgetown Law student, I imagine Ms Sidla's much more active schedule must be running her up a five-figure tab, at least.
05 — Bin Laden's wife trouble. Speaking of discord among women sharing living quarters, here's a nice segue into world affairs.
Remember that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where SEAL Team Six finally cornered Osama bin Laden last May? Well, we have learned from a Pakistan army source that bin Laden was sharing the house with his three wives.
Those three wives were: Khairiah Sabar, whom he married 27 years ago, and so presumably is in her forties; Siham Sabar, whom he married a couple of years later, so presumably is also forty-something, and Amal Sadah, married twelve years ago, and so quite possibly still in her twenties.
Guess which one was his favorite wife. Yep, got it in one.
So bin Laden was sharing a bedroom with twenty-something Amal. Second wife Siham Sabar lived in a different room on the same floor. She seems to have been an easy-going sort. If she had any of the issues that plagued Ms Blankmeyer in the previous segment, she didn't make a fuss about them. Number one wife, Khairiah Sabar, had been living elsewhere since 9/11.
Then in February last year, Khairiah showed up at the Abbottabad house. So all three wives were then in the house. That made a lot of trouble for bin Laden.
That oldest wife, Khairiah, was a bit of a handful — in more ways than one, if my own observations of middle-aged Saudi women are any guide. Associated Press tells us that she was bitterly envious of Amal, the youngest wife. One of bin Laden's sons thought she was planning to kill bin Laden.
Bin Laden himself was unwell and just wanted peace and quiet. He advised the other two wives to leave before Khairiah turned really nasty, but they wouldn't. Then, after ten weeks of this, SEAL Team Six showed up, and bin Laden's domestic problems were no more.
It would all be a bit sad, if bin Laden weren't such a loathsome person. I think it makes the case for monogamy, in fact. Imagine: three women in daily competition for the attentions of an alpha male …
That reminds me: I gave my research assistants Mandy, Candy and Brandy a few minor tasks to do in the file room while I'm broadcasting. Let me just see how they're getting on. Excuse me a moment.
[Footsteps … knock on door … door opens … sounds of catfight … door closes]
Oh dear. Where's SEAL Team Six when you need them?
06 — Obama and Bibi do AIPAC. Sunday through Tuesday last week was the annual policy conference of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful foreign-policy lobby in Washington, D.C. by their own boast.
The conference was held in Washington, D.C., and was favored with addresses by both Barack Obama, on Sunday, then on Monday by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who's been doing a North American tour.
There was only one thing on everyone's mind, and that was Iran's nuclear program. Netanyahu had had meetings with Obama prior to the conference speeches, and talked up the U.S.-Israel alliance. We're on the same page, he said. "Containment is definitely not an option," he said. America and Israel both are determined to prevent Iran going nuclear, Obama and Netanyahu both said.
Well, maybe. Ehud Barak, Israel's Defense Minister, was also in town prior to the AIPAC conference, and also had a meeting with Obama. There was also a little love-fest going on between Obama and Israel's President, Shimon Peres.
Barak and Peres are both old Labor Party stalwarts, in fact both served as Labor Party Prime Ministers, so there's some ideological daylight between them and Netanyahu … Though that comes with the usual warnings that Israeli politics is a lifetime study and defies simplification.
Whether Barack Obama knows that, whether he is trying to play nice with what he perceives as different factions in Israel, and whether they are in fact different factions, are questions I'll leave open.
A question I will not leave open is what Obama wants in his dealings with Israel. What he undoubtedly wants is a smooth ride to and through the November election, undisturbed by any unpredictable military events in the Middle East, especially since such events might impact gas prices here in the U.S.A., which is shaping up as one of his biggest electoral liabilities.
Obama wants to get re-elected in November: all else is secondary. The degree to which he thinks beyond that is unclear. My guess would be: not much.
That the devotion to Israeli security Obama voiced in his AIPAC speech comes from the heart, is highly improbable. After a youth and young adulthood spent among Bill Ayers-type radicals in meetings where the presence of at least one Palestinian Arab in a checkered head covering was de rigeur; after sitting for twenty years in the pews at Trinity United listening to Jeremiah Wright fulminating about the Jewish bloodsuckers; that all of that background left our Barry with a heartfelt commitment to the State of Israel, seems to me improbable in the extreme.
A career U.S. politician does not mess with AIPAC, though; and on top of that there's the lurking fear that a ticked-off Israel might do something wild just to vex us. So Obama was mighty nice on Sunday, speaking out strongly against Iran.
Netanyahu, who is smart, well-informed, and devious, of course has Obama's number, and most likely came away the winner in the U.S.-Israeli chess game that was played out behind closed doors last week.
Everybody is indignantly denying rumors that Netanyahu got an Obama promise that Israel would be given some of our state-of-the-art super-duper bunker-buster bombs for use against Iran, in return for a Netanyahu promise not to upset the apple-cart before November; but it strikes me that's exactly the kind of deal Netanyahu would have been looking for, and was probably smart enough to have got. I suppose we'll find out.
This dance between us, Israel, and Iran — and you can probably throw the Saudis in there too, as highly interested parties — is the knottiest and most dangerous thing going on right now in geostrategy. Nobody should underestimate either the difficulty or the importance of it; nobody should take it lightly.
My paleocon friends, along with GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, want us to keep out of it, and mind our own affairs, which goodness knows are serious enough. I'm temperamentally sympathetic, but I think things have gone too far for lofty detachment to be practical.
What things have gone too far? Well, a couple come to mind easily.
One has been letting semi-barbarous places like Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran get anywhere close to nuclear capability. I have a feeling that our grandchildren, a few decades from now, will shake their heads in wonder that we didn't go in and blow up the facilities at the first sign any of these places were heading towards nuclearity. Pre-emption was probably the way to go, though now of course it's too late.
The second one was permitting mass settlement of Muslims in Western nations. There was never any need for this. These are our countries; we can decide who gets settlement rights and who doesn't. Of course lots of Muslims are very pleasant, worthy, and useful people; but as the numbers get into the millions, the tiny percent of bad apples gets into the thousands and ten thousands, and you have a real problem.
No offense to any person, but this was really dumb policy, based on nothing but romantic fantasies of human universalism. No Muslim country would allow Christians — let alone Jews! — to settle in huge numbers in their territory; and in that respect, they are wiser than we are.
The mistakes have been made, though, the sauce is out of the bottle, and the game will have to be played out. How it will end, I don't know, and nor does anyone else. That it will end well for the U.S.A., I seriously doubt. Stupid policies yield bad results.
07 — Signoff. I'm afraid I must break off there, ladies and gents. I have been on the road all week, visiting the lovely and hospitable Hillsdale College in Michigan, and had not enough time to do my essential news-gathering, or to supervise my research assistants properly, with the results you heard a few minutes ago.
We shall get our house in order and bring you a fully-formed edition of Radio Derb next week. Meanwhile, here is another one of Franz Joseph Haydn's Derbyshire Marches.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]