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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Yes folks, this is your obsessively genial host John Derbyshire, back in the sunny Aegean after an exhausting road trip.
I missed the Halloween party here at the studio. To judge from the empty ouzo bottles, fragments of half-easten moussaka, and random items of costume littering the premises, it was the usual bacchanalia, but I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Greece, after all, is the country that invented the bacchanalia.
Not to worry: I've put the place under lockdown and set the girls to work with brooms and scrubbing brushes, and we'll soon have everything back in order. Let's see what's been happening in the news.
02 — Hold the bunting. The Republican Party did well in the November 4th midterm elections, as everyone predicted they would. They took control of the U.S. Senate, fortified their majority in the House of Representatives, and increased their lead in state governorships by at least two, with two more undecided as Radio Derb goes to tape.
As I indicated last week, I'm not breaking out champagne, and my party hat remains in the drawer. The Democrats certainly represent an ugly problem for America, but it's not clear to me that the Republicans are the solution.
It's not as if we haven't been here before. Four years ago we had the Tea Party rebellion, when Republicans took control of the House halfway through Obama's first term. Republicans responded by climbing into Chuck Schumer's clown car: fourteen Republican Senators voted for Schumer's amnesty bill in 2013. Three of that fourteen were still around and up for re-election last week: they all won handily.
Heck, I'm such a graybeard I can even remember the 1994 midterms, the Gingrich Revolution, when the GOP took the House back after forty years of Democratic control. Sure, it slowed Bill Clinton down a tad, but here we are twenty years later with a radical-left President, a black supremacist Attorney General, an affirmative action Puerto Rican on the Supreme Court, 68,000 troops guarding Europe against a Soviet invasion, homosexual marriage, federal healthcare legisation nobody understands, foreign gangsters looting Medicare, wide-open borders, 21 guest-worker programs, stagnant median household income, and the Federal Register of regulatory rules at 80,000 pages and counting.
So no, I haven't been hanging out bunting. I'll do that when Forbes magazine's list of the ten wealthiest counties in the U.S.A. includes none from the Washington, D.C. metro area. The current count is six of the ten, so it'll be a while yet.
The Asian American vote bears watching. For the first time ever, I'm pretty sure, it favored Republicans, if only by the width of a noodle: 50 percent to 49 percent. That's a ten-point swing to the GOP from the last midterms in 2010.
It may be that Asian Americans are not after all going to turn out to be the new Jews — "earning like Episcopalians, voting like Puerto Ricans," as the saying goes.
Based on some informal polling of my own in that demographic, resentment at being shafted by affirmative action and reluctance to find themselves in the same political party as the urban underclass types who stick up their convenience stores and beat up their kids at school are significant factors.
Blacks seem not to have been much inspired by the Obama Presidency: They voted 89 percent for Democrats, but that's only one percent more than in 2010. Black turnout was 12 percent, also one percent more than four years ago.
Of the four choices offered as "most important issue facing the country," the economy and healthcare were easy first and second, with illegal immigration third and foreign policy fourth. The biggest gap there was on illegal immigration, with three-quarters of those voting for it being Republicans. How come these pollsters never ask about legal immigration — way less annoying if you like the rule of law, but demographically more significant?
The Gender Gap as usual turns out to be mostly a Marriage Gap. Married men were strongest for the GOP, followed by married women, then single men, then single women. Little change in the proportions here from 2010. All that hyperventilating from Democrats about a War on Women seems to have fallen on stony ground.
Education levels showed the familiar U-curve, the most and least educated voters trending Democrat, those in the middle — high-school graduates, associate and bachelor's degrees — more Republican. The top and the bottom against the middle. If you just cut by race and college, white non-college graduates are by far strongest for the GOP, 64 percent.
Voter turnout decreased overall from 2010, 37 percent against 41 four years ago. Voter turnout in presidential elections is in the 55 to 60 percent range. So, bottom line on turnout: Americans aren't that excited, even by low midterm standards.
The President gave us the usual boilerplate about how the American people want the folk in Washington, D.C. to get their noses to the grindstone, to buckle down and, quote "get the job done."
Is that really what we want? Personally I'd be happier if they'd all go home and watch TV for a year or two. When the D.C. people are busy, what they're busy doing is passing new laws, starting new programs, writing new regulations, hiring more bureaucrats. We, the American public, pay for it all with more taxes and fewer freedoms.
Leave things alone, for crying out loud. Enforce the laws we've got, collect the taxes we've got, and otherwise leave us alone. What would be wrong with that?
And then, for a dude who used to tech Constitutional Law, Obama sometimes sounds shaky on the fundamentals. Quote:
Congress will pass some bills I cannot sign. I'm pretty sure I'll take some actions that some in Congress will not like. That's natural. That's how our democracy works.
Well, not quite, Professor. The equivalency isn't exactly as you stated it. Congress has a bit more power than that. All spending, for example, has to be authorized by them. You may think you can do as you please; but if it costs the nation any money, Congress can refuse to fund it.
The President continued, quote:
But we can surely find ways to work together on issues where there's broad agreement among the American people.
Well, that's encouraging. As Radio Derb reported two weeks ago, quoting a Gallup poll, three-quarters of Americans — 74 percent — do not want immigration increased, and a solid plurality, 41 percent, want it de-creased. Does that count as "broad agreement"? You don't get opinion majorities like that on many topics.
I tried my best to parse what the President said about issuing an executive order to amnesty illegal aliens, but he was in full lawyer mode and it was hard to make much sense. Sample quote:
And I think that the best way if folks are serious about getting immigration reform done is going ahead and passing a bill and getting it to my desk. And then the executive actions that I take go away. They're superseded by the law that has passed.
So what does the President think about the school of thought — by no means a fringe one — that says we don't actually need any more immigration laws, just enforcement of the ones currently on the books? Or the related school of thought that says there's no point passing new laws under an administration that flagrantly refuses to enforce existing ones? What does the President think of those ideas?
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, now in line to be Senate Majority Leader, said that for conservatives, an executive order on immigration would be, quote, "like waving a red flag in front of a bull."
I don't know about that. If by "conservatives" McConnell means congressional GOP seatwarmers such as himself, I'm afraid it may turn out to be more like waving a red flag in front of a kitten. Indeed, for those of McConnell's Senate colleagues whose souls are completely in hock to cheap-labor donor lobbies — Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander, to name just two — Obama's executive order would be waving a bag of catnip in front of a kitten.
The President actually reached out to the putative new Senate Majority Leader, saying, quote: "You know, actually, I would enjoy having some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell," end quote. Then the President spoiled the effect of the joke a bit by adding: "I don't know what his preferred drink is." Don't worry, Mr. President: a glass of milk with some toast in it should do just fine.
If what you're getting from that is, that I don't trust Republican Senators to put the interests of working Americans ahead of the interests of their Chambers of Commerce donors, then I'm communicating well.
I should say, though, that for all the lawyerly flapdoodle, the President was calm and good-natured at the Wednesday presser, showing his better side for once. Michael Goodwin in the New York Post said, quote:
He seemed so resigned to the voters' verdict, I found myself thinking that defeat becomes him.
That was my impression too.
And hey, yeah, if defeat suits him, let's give him more of it.
05 — Luster-free 2016. Now, with the midterms out of the way, political types are turning their eyes to 2016. What do they see?
Nothing very sightly (assuming "sightly" is the opposite of "unsightly"). The Republican 2016 field is so lacking in luster, if it were a paint finish, it would be matte. If it were an astronomical body, it would be a brown dwarf. If it were a sport, it would be croquet. If it were a Roman Emperor, it would be Galba. If it were a constitutional amendment, it would be the Third … Oh, you get the idea. Lackluster.
Likely Republican voters mostly agree with me. Headline from the Washington Post, November 4th, quote: The GOP base doesn't love its choices in 2016. Yes, I know, the Post is a lefty rag, but this is not an Op-Ed, it's a report on some respectable polling.
The pollsters asked people about four Republican hopefuls: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rick Perry, and Rand Paul. Key quote from the text:
Among all four Republicans, more conservatives say they would not make a good President than say that they would. The gap is at a minimum seven points for Perry (30 would / 37 would not) and 12 points for Christie (30 / 42).
I share the general lack of enthusiasm. Jeb Bush thinks that illegal immigration is, quote, "an act of love." He's a big booster of education reform, which means spending scads of public money turning the schools upside down every few years with yet another futile scheme to make silk purses out of pig's ears. He's a tool of big business party donors.
Chris Christie hates guns and loves alien scofflaws. Rick Perry is fine with guns but loves illegals even more than Christie does. He also has difficulty getting nouns and verbs into the same sentence.
Rand Paul was kind of interesting when he was a libertarian goldbug who thought the 1964 Civil Rights Act was an assault on freedom of association — which of course it was — but lately he's been sounding like George W. Bush's less-smart younger brother. Yo, Rand, that seat's already occupied by Jeb Bush.
The only Democrat they polled for was Hillary Clinton. Seventy-seven percent of Democrats thought she'd make a good President, versus 17 percent not. That's just Democrats: In the sample overall, 51 percent liked Hillary — a breathtakingly large number, if you ask me, for a candidate whom no-one would have heard of if her husband hadn't been President, and whose four years as Secretary of State were … what's the word? Right: lackluster.
If Hillary's secretaryofstateship were a color, it would be teal; if it were a board game, it would be chutes and ladders; if it were a Protestant sect, it would be Unitarianism; if it were an opera, it would be Cavalleria rusticana, …
All right, it's early days yet. We may yet talk Jeff Sessions into running. Hope springs eternal.
06 — The Sharpton kakistocracy. Here's a word for you: "kakistocracy." That's an actual word; you can find it at Dictionary.com, where the definition is, quote, "government by the worst persons." From Greek kakistos, "worst," superlative of kakos "bad"; and if you suspect it's all somehow related to a common infantile expression for nasty dirty stuff, the lexicographers say you're probably right.
Be that as it may, public figures don't come much worse than the Reverend Al Sharpton. Having decided early on in life that while working for a living was all very well for the suckers in his congregation, it was not for him; and having further perceived that preaching the word of God wasn't going to provide the kind of lifestyle he sought for himself; Sharpton inserted his young swelling bulk into the zone where Mob bosses and drug money met the rap music business and boxing promotion.
That didn't end well. It ended so unwell, in fact, that Rev'm Al wound up wearing a wire for the FBI, after being caught in a drug sting. He thereupon changed careers to "community activist."
In that new career he attached himself to two rape cases: the bogus one of black non-victim Tawana Brawley, in which Rev'm Al slandered a County Prosecutor so flagrantly the prosecutor won a judgment against him, which the holy man never paid, and then the genuine one of the Central Park rape victim, in which Sharpton organized a mob to disrupt the trial of the rapists by shouting insults at the victim.
There followed further incitements of mob action, leading to arson and murder. Sharpton worked here with a very skillful touch, whipping up the black mobs against whites and Jews, then deftly withdrawing himself into the shadows when things got ugly.
You know the rest of the charge sheet. Doesn't pay his taxes, doesn't pay his rent. Parlayed a handful of cheap rhetorical tricks into a TV show on one of the Cultural Marxist channels — the trick, for example, of repeating someone's declarative statement in the form of a question. [Clip: Rev'm Al, "It's not divided at all … It's not divided at all?" etc.]
All right, Rev'm Al isn't the worst person in the world, nor even the worst person in the U.S.A. If you compute a ratio of prominence as a respected public figure divided by actual merit as a useful member of society, though, I'd restate my original claim that on that ratio, Sharpton is the worst person in our public life today.
And yet he wields great power, or certainly influence.
Example: New York City of course has a uniformed police force, and the police force has a Police Commissioner, name of Bill Bratton. Bratton has a second in command, official title "First Deputy Commissioner." This guy — his name was Rafael Piñeiro — retired end of October, so Bratton picked a new man, a black named Philip Banks.
Banks at first accepted, but wanted more power than actually goes with the second-in-command slot. He thought he'd get it because he had the support of Al Sharpton and Mayor de Blasio's wife, to whom the Mayor defers on anything to do with race — or according to some accounts, on anything at all.
Bratton denied him those powers, Banks retired from the force in a huff, and poor Mayor de Blasio faced the wrath of his wife. I tell you, New York City politics right now is more fun than reality TV.
Anyway, on Wednesday Bratton appointed a new guy to this second-in-command position — also black, of course. This is probably going to be an affirmative-action slot for all eternity now. Benjamin Tucker is the new guy's name.
Here's the thing to fix your attention on — the shameful, outrageous thing.
Mayor de Blasio signed off on the appointment, and called Al Sharpton to tell him about it. Quote from Sharpton:
Today I met for an hour with President Obama … about his plans for his fourth quarter. While entering the West Wing I talked by phone with Mayor Bill de Blasio about Commissioner Bratton appointing Benjamin Tucker.
Got that? Rev'm Al got a respectful call from the Mayor of New York while entering the White House to consult with the President. This ridiculous clown, who can't even speak English properly, who knows nothing, pays for nothing, and has been elected by nobody, this shyster who plays white liberal guilt like Yehudi Menuhin played the violin, is deferred to by the highest in the land. The real power is his — kakistocracy.
Charles Dickens describes two of his characters as men who lived by their wits. Then Dickens adds in parentheses: "or not so much, perhaps, upon the presence of their own wits as upon the absence of wits in other people."
That's Rev'm Al: Not a smart man in any conventional way, but by comparison with the cringing, guilt-crazed liberals he preys upon, a towering political genius.
07 — For whom the cat calls. Cultural sensation of the last few days was the video footage, posted October 28th on lefty website Slate.com, of a young woman walking through the streets of New York being catcalled by men.
The idea seems to have been to show male privilege in action — men behaving grossly towards a woman in ways women would never dare behave towards a man.
Unfortunately the whole scheme blew up in the producers' faces. Viewers were supposed to notice what heartless brutes men are. What in fact everyone noticed was that none of the catcallers was white, and that they were hanging out in the street doing nothing on a workday. That totally contradicts the Narrative. It's supposed to be white men who make all the trouble in the world, do all the oppressing, generate all the evil.
The guardians of the Narrative had to work overtime producing arguments to prove that even though the catcallers were nonwhite, it was still all white men's fault. Thus Hannah Rosin, also on Slate, October 29th, quote:
The men who are sitting in their offices or in cafes watching this video … might do things to women that are worse than catcalling, but this is not their sin.
I suppose they might, but where's the footage?
On the main point, that men are doing something to women that women would never do to men, I beg to differ. In evidence, I'm just going to read out a segment from one of the monthly diaries I used to write for National Review Online. This diary was for December 2007. I'm relating what happened when I went to the local unisex salon for a haircut. Here's the segment, long quote.
This was the week before Christmas. We all want to look our best at Christmas, so the place was full, and all the hairdressers were on duty. Every one was female, median age about 35, all I think married.
End long quote.
On the strength of that little episode, I must say, I think in the matter of catcalling, men have nothing to teach women.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: A good part of the news world is still revolving around Ferguson, Missouri, where black thug Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer he was in process of assaulting.
The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported November 4th that Michael Brown's parents will address a United Nations conference in Switzerland November 12th and 13th. The parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, will speak at the 53rd Session of the U.N. Committee Against Torture. A law professor at St Louis University has set up a donation website to pay their expenses.
Ms McSpadden may, however, be unable to attend, as Ferguson police have a few issues they'd like to discuss with her.
In the parking lot of a local fast-food joint on the afternoon of October 18th, Michael Brown's cousin, his paternal grandmother, and unspecified other citizens were selling "Justice for Mike Brown" merchandise. Some cars pulled up and discharged 20 or 30 people, who proceeded to attack the vendors. Among the attacking party was, yes, Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother, who was heard to scream "You can't sell this shit!"
The grandmother, according to the police report, was, quote, "repeatedly struck in the back of the head by an unknown subject and knocked to the ground." The report adds that McSpadden, quote, "then ran up and punched her."
The assailants made off at last with $2,000 in merchandise and cash.
If a cop shooting an assailant counts as torture, how about a woman punching the mother of her baby daddy and stealing her stuff? Perhaps the U.N. committee could give us a ruling.
Item: The World Trade Center's back in business. Not the original one, of course: That was taken down by the Religion of Peace in September 2001. Now there's a new building, officially named Freedom Tower, on the next-door lot. With 104 floors, it's the tallest building in the Western hemisphere.
This week the first tenants moved in to floors 20 thru 44. They are employees of magazine publisher Condé Nast.
Well, good luck to them. They have to be a tad nervous, though. You know this structure is known to glittery-eyed jihadis everywhere as Target One. Presumably there's state-of-the-art security on the place, but still the new tenants must feel awfully vulnerable up there.
So far only 60 percent of the building has been leased, which bespeaks a certain reluctance on the part of businessfolk to rent space there. With our borders wide open, hundreds of thousands more Muslims in our country than in 2001, and failed states multiplying all over the Middle East, it's hard to blame them.
Freedom Tower is a noble project in the right spirit, but I'd feel better about it if I thought we'd learned the right lessons from 9/11.
Item: Finally, it wouldn't be Radio Derb without a touch of grand guignol so here's a batch of three items to make you go "Euiw!"
In the northeastern Congo October 31st, a crowd of townspeople stoned to death a young man they suspected of belonging to a rebel Islamic group. After stoning him to death, they cooked him and ate him, possibly with some fava beans and a nice chianti, I don't know.
In related news from Britain, 34-year-old Matthew Williams of Caerphilly, south Wales, was in a hotel room peacably eating his girlfriend's face — chomping down on one of her eyeballs, to be exact — when police, who had been alerted to the situation, broke in and zapped him with a high-voltage taser. Williams died from the tasering; his date died from massive facial injuries. Williams, recently released from prison having served a sentence for violent assault, went by the nickname "Fifi."
Last of all, also from Airstrip One, to mark World Vasectomy Day, which was either October 18th or November 7th, depending on which website you read, a British chap had a vasectomy on live TV. The subject is known to us only as James, but to make up for not knowing his surname, viewers were given a full close-up of the relevant body parts.
And that's positively our last snippet of news this week.
09 — Signoff. There you have it, listeners. The republic has survived another election.
The accurséd power which stands on privilege
Let's have some closing music. I feel a little bit bad about having spoken slightingly of Cavalleria rusticana back there. It's not bad; but it's a short opera, commonly staged with another short opera, Pagliacci, and suffers by the comparison, since Pagliacci is much better, or at any rate more popular. This double bill is known to opera lovers as "Cav and Pag," a fact which has generated another bit of doggerel. This is your lucky week: two bits of doggerel in one podcast. Quote:
Cav and Pag, Cav and Pag
Well, here's a nice aria from Cav: Voi lo sapete, which means "Now you shall know," sung by the great Maria Callas.
More from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Callas, Voi lo sapete, o mamma]