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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! This is your supernaturally genial host John Derbyshire with all the news that's fit to listen to while you work the elliptical trainer. Come on, add a little more resistance there.
02 — Wisconsin: Yee-hah! Hallelujah! Can I get a few soaring chords there, Ahmed? [Soaring chords.]
We won one! One political contest, that is; and "we" being small-government types, people who think our public authorities at every level, from municipal to national, have far more power than is good for them, or for our ancient liberties.
I am speaking here, of course, of Tuesday's vote in Wisconsin, in which governor Scott Walker easily fought off a recall challenge spearheaded by public-sector unions whose power he had promised to curb.
I have been ranting against the menace of public-sector unions for as long as I can recall. In fact I don't have to recall: If I ask Google Advanced Search to search my archived journalism for the phrase "public-sector unions," I see that I first ranted on the topic January 17, 2002, better than ten years ago. That was just in passing, I'll admit, and in the context of praising Second Amendment activists, but it bears repeating now, so I'll quote myself from ten and a half years ago, quote:
When we can fight the taxers and regulators, the affirmative-action and illegal-immigration lobbies, the trial lawyers and the public-sector unions, the arts-subsidy crowd and the multi-culti America-haters, the language police and the thought police, the agressive promoters of unrestricted abortion, homosexual "marriage," bilingual education, slavery reparations and all the rest of the Left's project to lead us forward, sheep-like, into a radiant future of universal harmony — when we can fight all that with the same energy and intelligence the Second Amendment folk bring to their particular corner of the battlefield, then we'll have some chance of rolling back the creeping socialism of the past thirty years. Join a local gun group and see how they do it, even if you don't care about guns. You might learn something.
End quote. I'll claim that that advice is as good today as it was when George W. Bush was just entering the second year of his presidency. Heed it, please.
An interesting feature of the Wisconsin vote was that 38 percent of Scott Walker's votes came from people whose homes include union members. Try as they might to make it an issue of "the unions," the leftists couldn't fool actual private-sector union members, who know that a private-sector union is as different from a public-sector union as a glass of tomato juice is from a bloody mary.
The extra ingredient is politics. The wages and benefits of public-sector workers are decided ultimately by politicians; so if a public-sector union can raise enough funds from its members to buy a few politicians, then the sky's the limit on their wages and benefits. At last, though, someone has to pay for it all; and this week the hard-pressed, cash-strapped private sector workers of Wisconsin said they're tired of paying.
Good for them; good for Scott Walker; and may he show the same bold energy and political skill in the remaining two and a half years of his term as he's shown in this first year and a half. Congratulations, Governor.
03 — Wisconsin: smugness and hyperbole on the left. A secondary pleasure of following the Wisconsin vote has been watching the Left fall flat on its face in the mud.
They were smugly confident pretty much down to the wire. Someone put together this 90-second compendium of liberal smugness for YouTube. You'll catch some familiar voices there: Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, … [Clip.]
You can't blame them for their smugness. These lefty liberals run the country and control the discourse. Power has gone to their heads: though with so many crazy, antiquated, and just plain wrong ideas in those heads, I'm surprised power could find enough room to take up habitation.
Along with the smugness went some astounding hyperbole. A particularly rich selection of that hyperbole was on display at a June 3rd rally in Milwaukee. Here for example was Larry Hanley, head of the Amalgamated Transit Union, comparing Scott Walker's reforms with the 9/11 attacks. No kidding. Quote from him, longish quote:
I want to just take a minute here and remind everybody about an event that happened here in the United States eleven years ago. We were attacked. Consider this in the context of what happened here in Wisconsin — and around the United States over the last two years: the attack on government workers … On September 11, when we were attacked, I didn't see any bankers running up the stairs to save lives … I looked really hard to find somebody from Wall Street only a few blocks away from the trade center who would run over and save a life. I couldn't find any. There were none. It was the public workers … And now we have watched people including some politicians in this state turn public employees into a worse enemy than Osama bin Laden.
End longish quote. I suppose if you wanted to take Mr. Hanley's analogy seriously, which I really don't, you could observe that there also weren't any schoolteachers, sanitation men, or DMV clerks running up those stairs either.
The guys who were running up the stairs were firefighters, a category of public employees that Governor Walker very wisely left out of his restructuring legislation. Firefighters are pretty conservative by nature anyway. In fact, Dean Gonzalez, vice president of the Milwaukee firefighters union, publicly supported Scott Walker, as did his opposite numbers in the police union. That pretty much makes a hash of Larry Hanley's whole argument, if you can make a hash out of something that was a hash to begin with.
Star speaker at that June 3rd rally was Jesse Jackson. For Jackson, of course, it was all about civil rights. Quote from him: "Wallace did it in Alabama and now Walker in Wisconsin — trying to take back access to vote." End quote. That would be George Wallace, of course. For Jesse, it's always 1965.
The Weekly Standard informs us, by the way, that Jesse Jackson showed up to rally the shoeless proletariat in a Mercedes Benz S550 (starting price around $100,000), and that his escort vehicle was a Cadillac Escalade ESV (starting around $75,000). That reminds me of an ancient joke about how many words of French Jesse knows; but I think I've already exceeded my quota of political incorrectness for this year — quite possibly for this century — so I'd best not repeat that joke.
04 — Who's the criminal, Zimmerman or Corey? The most evil person in the world, as we all know, is George Zimmerman, the racist vigilante who hunted down and shot winsome teenager Trayvon Martin February 26 for no other reason than that Martin was black and Zimmerman is a, you know, racist.
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey, assigned special prosecutor in the case, charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder back on April 11. On April 20 Zimmerman was freed on a $150,000 bond.
Well, last Friday that bond was revoked and Zimmerman ordered to return to jail within 48 hours. See, Zimmerman had told the judge at the April 20 bond hearing that he had limited funds on account of he wasn't working and his wife was a student nurse. In fact Zimmerman had raised $135,000 from supporters on the internet. I'd be proud to tell you that I was one of those supporters; but I was having some issues of my own at the time.
Fair enough on the bond revocation, I guess. Zimmerman should have told the court about those funds. Once again, I get the impression he could really benefit from a set of new lawyers.
As dimwitted as Zimmerman appears to be in his own defense, though, he is no match in dimwittedness for Angela Corey, the special prosecutor. She is in a class of her own.
Prosecutor Corey's strongest critic has been Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz — who, by the way, is a self-described liberal Democrat. Three weeks ago on Fox News, Dershowitz laid into the special prosecutor. Sample quotes from Dershowitz on that broadcast:
Well, prosecutor Corey isn't taking that lying down. Lying, very probably; but lying down, no way. This week we heard from Dershowitz that Corey had called Harvard Law School and threatened, in the course of a 40-minute rant, to sue the Law School, to get Dershowitz disciplined by the local Bar Association, and to file charges against him for libel and slander.
Dershowitz's response, which you can read on Newsmax, June 5th, is withering. Small sample quote, quote:
In her motion to revoke his bail, Corey argued that Zimmerman "intentionally deceived the court" by making "false representations." The same can be said about prosecutor Corey. She too misled and deceived the court by submitting an affidavit that relied on a review of photographs and other reports that showed injuries to Zimmerman, without disclosing the existence of these highly relevant injuries.
End quote. In other words, the offense for which George Zimmerman has been sent back to the slammer — deceiving the court by omitting key facts in testimony — can also be charged against Angela Corey, according to seasoned law professor Alan Dershowitz.
I began with this case wondering who was the aggressor and who the victim, George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin. What I'm wondering now is, who is the criminal: the guy who just went back to the Bridewell, or the lady in the prosecutor's office.
05 — Israel: a light unto the Gentiles. Israel continues to lead the world in her determination not to be a soft touch for illegal immigrants.
This week a law came into effect giving Israeli authorities the power to detain illegal immigrants for up to three years. The law also provides prison sentences of between five and 15 years for anyone helping illegals or providing them with shelter.
On Sunday last, the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv published an interview with Interior Minister Eli Yishai. The minister unbosomed himself of the following thought, quote: "Muslims that arrive here do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man." He later added the following, quote: "I will continue the struggle until the end of my term, with no compromises. I will use all the tools to expel the foreigners, until not one infiltrator remains." End quote.
Now that's what I call a robust attitude to illegal immigration. Israel leads the way — a light unto the Gentiles, you might say.
06 — Holderization in the Department of Agriculture. This next one is one of those stories you'll need to concentrate on to follow the course of events. I've taken it from the June 4 Washington Times. Here we go.
Back in 2011, in Olympic National Forest up there in northwest Washington State, a Forest Service officer encountered a Hispanic couple who he said appeared to be illegally harvesting plants on the federal lands. The Forest Service, which comes under the federal Department of Agriculture, is responsible for supervising the national forests.
Well, when the Forest Service officer tried to investigate what the couple was doing, he found they couldn't speak English. He couldn't speak much Spanish, so he called the Border Patrol to translate for him. Olympic National Park, which contains Olympic National Forest, is right up against the Canadian border, so this was a commonsense thing to do.
When Border Patrol showed up, though, the couple ran. The woman was apprehended, but the man jumped into a river and drowned. The Border Patrol took the woman into custody but released her several days later on humanitarian grounds.
Enter the federal Department of Agriculture. You'll recall that the Forest Service, which is largely white guys in boots driving four-wheel-drive vehicles over rugged terrain, reports to the Agriculture Department, a bunch of politically-correct seat-warmers in Washington, D.C.
I need to pause here to explain that the Department of Agriculture has within itself an Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. The current Assistant Secretary is Dr. Joe Leonard, Jr., described on the office's website as having, quote, "a strong academic, legislative and working history in civil rights." Before joining the Department of Agriculture, the website further informs us, Dr. Leonard was Executive Director of the Congressional Black Caucus. Prior to that he was Executive Director of the Black Leadership Forum, quote, "an umbrella organization of 32 member groups that together work to develop and implement progressive public policies for social change," end quote. He has also been the Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief of Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/ PUSH Coalition.
So we know where we are with Dr. Leonard. Suffice it to say that under this administration, the Department of Agriculture has been thoroughly Holderized.
Back to that Hispanic couple in the forest. An outfit called the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project complained to the Agriculture Department about their treatment. You know, of course, that any group with "immigrant rights" in its title would not lift a finger to help me, who is certainly an immigrant; its entire purpose is to make a nuisance of itself on behalf of illegal Mexican immigrants.
That complaint went through the bureaucratic machinery, and this week we got a ruling from Dr. Leonard's office. Ruling: The Forest Service violated the Hispanic woman's civil rights by calling the Border Patrol to translate for them. It was, said the office, "humiliating" to Hispanics and furthermore was an illicit way to capture more illegal immigrants, which of course nobody in our federal government wants to do.
Got that? If a law enforcement officer from one Federal agency calls for assistance from the Border Patrol, which of course is another federal agency, someone's civil rights just got violated.
This makes sense to the federal government in the Age of Obama.
07 — Cannibalism: Zombie invasion or news fashion trend? What's up with cannibalism? Suddenly it's all over the news. You can't open a newspaper or news website without being confronted by flying fragments of human tissue.
So what's going on. Is there a trend here? A zombie invasion?
Having had some close acquaintance with the news business, I think it's more likely that news editors are just having a little feeding frenzy — if you'll pardon the expression — on gross cannibalism stories, calling their staffers and saying, "Give us more cannibalism! Cannibalism sells!" I doubt there's any more cannibalism going on than there was this time last year; but news outlets are the playthings of fashion.
If I'm right, and there's no more or less cannibalism now than there ever was, that's a scary thought in itself. What with flesh-eating bacteria and face-eating criminals, I'd say, hold on to your body parts, and keep checking they're all where they should be.
08 — A despot's long shadow. Where you have absolute power, you will have a lot of people willing to be toadies to it.
That melancholy truth got illustrated this week in China.
Students of Chinese communist history all learn about Mao Tse-tung's famous address to Party intellectuals in May of 1942.
Mao and the core of the Communist Party were at this point holed up in Yan'an in China's far northwest. They'd arrived there after the Long March six years earlier. During those six years, the idealistic intellectuals present in Yan'an had become very critical of the Party leaders, who they said had amassed privileges and mistresses, and become arrogant and narrow-minded, especially in regards to women's rights. Some also said the leadership was taking care to keep itself at a distance from the Sino-Japanese war that was then raging all over China.
Mao Tse-tung did not take kindly to criticism. On May 23rd 1942 he assembled the Yan'an intellectuals and made a long speech to them, later published prominently in his Collected Works, explaining their place in the Communist scheme of things, which was, basically, to do what the Party told them to. Sample quote:
Intellectuals must conclusively destroy feudal, bourgeois, petty-bourgeois, liberalist, individualist, nihilist, art-for-art's-sake, aristocratic, decadent, pessimistic, and other kinds of creativity that are alien to the popular masses and the proletariat.
End quote. There followed a purge. Its principal victim was a writer named Wang Shiwei, who had been particularly critical of the Party bosses. Wang disappeared. Five years later he was shot. You can read all about Mao's speech, and related incidents, in Jonathan Spence's book The Gate of Heavenly Peace, an essential primer in 20th-century Chinese culture.
Well, to mark the 70th anniverary of the speech in May, the ChiComs produced a commemorative book. The country's most famous writers were asked to copy out sections of Mao's 1942 speech by hand. The vast majority of them, to their everlasting shame, meekly accepted, for a reported fee of $150.
Hu Jintao, China's president, described Mao's horrible speech as, quote, "a classic document" that laid down, quote, "the basic principles of Marxism and the practice of Chinese revolutionary art and literature."
Just keep this story in mind for the next time someone tries to tell you that China is no longer a totalitarian dictatorship. Though keep in mind also that a small number of brave dissident writers refused to participate in this nasty little homage to brute despotism.
09 — Miscellany. OK, now for our miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Oh, that presidential election thing? Mitt Romney went decisively over the top in the convention delegate count May 29, so now it's officially Obama v. Romney. Romney is being steady and careful, his approach more like tennis than boxing — relying, I mean, less on his own strength and stamina than on his opponent's mistakes. He still lacks luster, but he knows it, and isn't attempting to fake qualities he doesn't have. He'll be a decent president, would be my guess. I'll vote for him, anyway. Whether I slouch to the voting booth with leaden footsteps and resignation in my heart, or whether I skip there joyfully, now depends on Romney's choice of running mate. Marco Rubio? Leaden footsteps. Rand Paul? Skipping joyfully. Hey, I can dream.
Item: Top of the bestseller charts is something called Fifty Shades of Gray, apparently some kind of female porn with a lot of bondage. One side effect of the book's success has been an uptick in hardware store sales of rope, cable ties, and masking tape. Quote from the news story, quote: "Lidia Bonilla, a Brooklyn-based banking compliance consultant, said the book has helped broaden her sexuality." End quote. A banking compliance consultant … Who knew? Well, good luck with that, Lidia. Fortunately there is no hardware store here on the island. In any case, I doubt my research assistants Mandy, Candy, and Brandy have any interest in such matters. Right girls? Girls?… Where are they? … Sorry? … Gone on a shopping trip to the mainland? … Well, I wish I'd known, I need some new light bulbs …
Item: A couple of items on the diversity front. First, an opinion poll in Britain covering 2,000 adults, 88 percent of whom classified themselves as "White British," found that one in three said yes, they were racist. One really interesting thing here was the age breakdown. Respondents over 55 were most likely to admit to racism; but the next most likely group was young adults, age 18-24. You could interpret that as telling us that the r-word never really had much purchase with the older crowd, gained maximum potency with the thirty- and forty-somethings, and is now fading in its power among younger Brits. Or possibly something else, I leave you to ponder.
Item: Second diversity item: American Sociological Review, a respectable scholarly journal, looked at how many Americans who moved house within their own metropolitan areas between 1977 and 2005, how many moved into diverse neighborhoods. A diverse neighborhood is defined to be one that is at least ten percent black, at least ten percent Asian or Hispanic, and at least forty percent white. So how many people moved to these diverse neighborhoods? Not many, was the answer: 17.7 percent of blacks and only 5.6 percent of whites. Bottom line: Whatever people tell you, most of us, black and white, like residential segregation.
Item: I suppose I should give a nod to the Royal jubilee. My basic line on the monarchy is, there's way too many of them. I'm OK with Betty and Phil, but the rest should be kept in a barracks somewhere until the monarch passes on. Then one of them gets to be the new monarch, and the rest are ceremonially garotted. Well, that's how they did it in the Ottoman Empire, and that show lasted six hundred years, so they must have been on to something. All right, not much of a monarchist here. I do like Betty and Phil, though, just for sentimental reasons — they've been around for as long as I can remember — so a half-hearted wave of congratulation to them across the pond there.
Item: And the United States has a new poet laureate, 46-year-old Natasha Trethewey, taking over from 84-year-old Philip Levine. I don't know any more about Ms. Trethewey than you can find on her faculty website at Emory University. I did listen to an interview she did on NPR, which you can find linked from that website. The main things I got was that she's from Mississippi, she's biracial — black Mom, white Dad — and her mother got murdered by her stepfather when Natasha was 19. She got the Pulitzer Prize for a cycle of poems mostly about the Civil War. I promise to read some of Ms. Trethewey's poems and report back.
10 — Signoff. That's it for this week, folks. I pause to note the passing of Ray Bradbury, a great favorite of my teen years, who gave me my first strong impressions of the American midwest: Big old Victorian houses occupied by very strange people. A real American original, and a natural short story writer. His novel, Fahrenheit 451, is not very good, so naturally that is the Bradbury book our cloth-eared schoolteachers like to ram down students' throats. Students of America, resist! Demand The October Country instead.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]