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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, ladies and gents, from your reluctantly genial host John Derbyshire, here with your weekly dose of cold realism from the bosky slopes of Long Island's north shore.
This week's big-ticket item was President Trump's State of the Union speech; except that it wasn't a State of the Union speech, just an address to Congress. I'm darned if I can figure out the difference.
I shall chew over that, and some of the content of the speech, in segments one and two. Then we'll go spanning the world, to see what's going on in those strange places beyond our nation's borders — which I think we are now allowed to mention without causing embarrassment — to see what's going on out there, and whether we should be bothered about any of it, starting from my default position of: "No."
The TV talking heads were careful to explain to us that this wasn't a State of the Union speech. I confess I don't really understand why it wasn't. Article II, Section 3 of our Constitution says that the President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Isn't that what he was doing?
Whatever. President Trump made a speech in the staged format we've come to expect in recent years. I strongly dislike the whole show. In my 2009 book We Are Doomed I called it a "Stalinesque extravaganza," and I vent my disgust about it every year on Radio Derb. It's just un-republican, small "r."
In my 2014 vent I went so far as to offer my firstborn child to any Presidential candidate who promised to fulfill the Constitutional requirement in written form, which is how the State of the Union message was delivered for most of our history. Quote from that 2014 vent, quote: "no more than two single-spaced pages, copies mailed to the Speaker of the House and the Vice President at the Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. 20515," end quote.
I'm dreaming, of course. The extravaganza has settled in, and we're probably stuck with the filthy thing, complete with all its gassy rhetoric, the applause from the President's party after every couple of sentences, the Vice President and Speaker basking in their screen time on the dais, the judges and generals in solemn array — although nobody can tell me what they are doing at a Presidential presentation to Congress — and the Lenny Skutniks in the gallery for us to be inspired by … We're stuck with it all until the robots take over some time around mid-century.
Having got that off my chest, I am now going to pack my spleen away, turn against the Radio Derb denunciations of past years, and grudgingly allow that there may, in exceptional circumstances, be a case for the President showing up in person to deliver the Constitutionally mandated information.
Consider, for example, the following circumstances. Suppose the President is faced with a Congressional opposition that is fiercely, ferociously hostile to him — not merely at the normal level of partisan rancor, but believing the President to be an abomination, a violation of the natural order as they have come to understand it. Suppose further that significant factions in the President's own party feel the same way, with various degrees of openness.
Suppose yet further that ninety-five percent of the news media and ninety-nine percent of the entertainment media are in complete agreement with this opposition, and will do all in their power to obstruct the President and to seek opportunities for his destruction.
Suppose still further that this bitter opposition also includes major sections of the federal bureaucracy and judiciary — even perhaps factions in the military. Let's add in the entire administrative and professorial staff of all educational institutions.
Under those circumstances, might it not be a good move for the President to show himself to the people who've put their trust in him, to state his case firmly and clearly over the heads of the opposition, and to prove himself undaunted by their massed legions?
I'm going to concede —grudgingly, warily — that it might.
Thus, for the first time in the long and distinguished history of this podcast, I am going to record the fact of my not minding the State of the Union address as it has come to be staged.
I won't go so far as to say I approve of it; but in extraordinary political circumstances such as the republic currently finds itself in … in which the republic … whatever: In today's circumstances, it's pardonable. Not pretty; not small-"r" republican; still Stalinesque; but forgivable.
That all said, how did the President's speech actually go? Next segment.
The opening was not one of the good parts. "As we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation's path toward civil rights and the work that still remains to be done," said the President.
Sorry, Mr. Prez, that was a cucky pander. Black History Month is a licensed occasion for the ramping-up of anti-white rhetoric. If your gonads were as dimensionally impressive as we were led to believe, you would have issued an Executive Order renaming February as "Hate Whitey Month" in federal establishments.
And what, exactly "remains to be done"? What civil rights does anyone in the U.S.A. not have? I'm assuming a rational interpretation of the phrase "civil rights" there. For male highschoolers to take showers with female classmates is not a civil right, not on any rational basis I can understand.
The President followed that with a condemnation of, quote, "hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms," end quote, with special reference to the recent vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries.
Well, fiddlesticks to that. Saying "hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms" is just conceding rhetorical ground to the enemy.
This is their language, the vocabulary of smug Goodwhite virtue signaling. Spokes-critters at the Southern Poverty Law Center and other Goodwhite propaganda outlets have made the word "hate" toxic by using it indiscriminately to refer to any position contradicting CultMarx dogma. Even where the word "hate" might have some proper application in its dictionary sense, as here, it should be avoided.
The vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries is certainly disgraceful; but the history of so-called "hate crimes" in recent years suggests the following likely perpetrators, in decreasing order of probability, from most probable to least probable:
So, not a good start. It got better, though, with some good stuff on the National Question. Most resounding, quote:
[Clip: Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people, and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America.]
"Sometimes," said Orwell, "the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." This is one of those times, and we should thank the President for thus showing us his intelligence. Just those three frank sentences reminded me why I voted for this guy, and shall vote for him again.
The rest was mostly uplift, without much policy substance. Here and there it wobbled on the edge of Peronism, promising everything to everybody, with a suspicious lack of specifics about how it all gets paid for.
Actual Peronism was paid for at last with chronic hyperinflation and serious, lingering economic distress. Sure: today's U.S.A. is way bigger, richer, and more stable than 1950s Argentina. We're not invulnerable, though.
Healthcare is the eye of the storm here. This can-do nation of ours has a curious cultural blind spot: We think we can't do socialism. Actually, when we decide to do it, we do it quite well. Our Social Security system, which I have interacted with, works very well. We have to be dragged kicking and screaming to socialist solutions, though.
That's not a bad thing. It accords with America's general spirit of liberty and distrust of government that I personally like very much. Too much socialism is indeed a nation-killer. The 20th century demonstrated that many times over.
Some things, though, are natural utilities that only government can do. By failing to face this when it has to be faced, we end up with a half-assed mess — a system that is eighty percent socialized, but that everyone pretends is free market.
That's what we have in healthcare: big overtly socialized sectors — Medicare and Medicaid — lots of subsidized covert socialism — tax breaks for employer-based insurance — and boxcar-loads of paperwork for hospitals and clinics to struggle with.
Socialize the whole damn thing. Universal basic coverage at a moderate level, financed from general taxation, with an open free market in health insurance for anyone who wants something faster or better, and can afford the premiums.
There were some other soft brown spots in the President's speech. He spoke up for, quote, "an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children," end quote.
Again with the pandering. How, exactly, are black and Latino kids any more disadvantaged than other kids? — other than by having lower mean IQ than other major subpopulations, which nobody can do anything about.
And if it's school vouchers the President is talking about, someone should give him a copy of Peter Brimelow's book about teacher unions, with the key quote about voucher systems that I put into the education chapter of We Are Doomed, re-quote:
The voucher movement's fundamental and unspoken problem … is race. Government schools in wealthy suburbs are already de facto private schools — and they are de facto segregated, by class if not completely by race … It may well be that a perfectly rational way of delivering government services is permanently crippled in America because of the country's profound demographic division.
It didn't help that the Lenny Skutnik character the President's people had planted in the gallery for us to admire at this point was a young black lady who is, said the President, quote: "the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year, she will get her master's degree in social work." End quote.
Great; just what the nation needs — another social worker. They couldn't find an engineer?
All right, I'm picking nits there. The President did a thing that I think, reluctantly, he was justified in doing, and he did it well, to general approval even from some of the opposition. Well done, Sir.
04 — Russia: a modest proposal. Actually I'm not quite through picking nits with the Not the State of the Union speech.
[Clip: We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two world wars, that dethroned fascism … [Applause] … and a Cold War and defeated communism.]
Those were indeed noble deeds, bravely done. The dethroning of fascism took place 72 years ago, though; the defeat of communism, at least of Soviet communism, was accomplished 26 years ago. Why is NATO still around?
If the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious, the second duty is to question what goes unquestioned. The President, to his credit, wants our NATO partners to do more to finance the alliance. That's good; but why does the alliance even exist? Who's the enemy?
We're supposed to think it's Russia, but I can't figure out why. I keep asking, and Radio Derb listeners have been energetic in offering explanations, but nothing seems right.
I'm getting the feeling, in fact, that the current wave of Russophobia has been manufactured out of whole cloth as a stick to beat the Trump administration with. No, wait a minute … sticks aren't made out of cloth … oh, you know what I mean.
I got a chuckle from Steve Sailer's blog this morning. Steve had posted a video of Charles Murray being shouted down at Middlebury College on Thursday. The demonstrators were chanting: "Racist, sexist, anti-gay — Charles Murray, go away!"
One of Steve's commenters asked why they were accusing Murray of being anti-gay, when he'd come out in favor of same-sex marriage at CPAC four years ago. A different commenter replied to that with, quote: "Because it rhymes with 'go away.'"
I think that nicely encapsulates the vacuity of Social Justice Warrior reasoning. Perhaps it also applies to the Russophobia panic. Why are we all supposed to be against Russia? Because it rhymes with … I don't know … "Prussia"? "Flusher"? "Gonna crush ya"?
Latest target of the Russophobes is Attorney General Jeff Sessions. At confirmation hearings for the Attorney General job in January, Minnesota Senator Al Franken asked Sessions what he would do if if evidence came out that anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign had communicated with the Russian government in the course of the campaign. Sessions replied that he didn't know of such things, and that, quote, "I didn't have communications with the Russians," end quote.
Wednesday this week, however, the Washington Post reported that Sessions had spoken to the Russian ambassador twice during the campaign.
That unleashed a storm of pointing and sputtering among the anti-Trump legions. They just can't understand how Trump got elected when they are so obviously Good People and Trump is so plainly a Bad Person. As always in psychological crises of this sort, magical thinking takes over. There were secret conspiracies, invisible forces, poisonous vapors. The malevolent agency in this case was … Russia! Because it rhymes with "fussier" … or something.
Being obliged to exchange occasional pleasantries with the Russian ambassador is surely an occupational hazard for United States Senators. Probably Jeff Sessions, replying to Franken, assumed that such hallway encounters didn't rise to the level of, quote, "communicating with the Russian government" in the context of campaign shenanigans; and I think his assumption was a fair one.
The opposition is making hay with it none the less. Sessions has recused himself from Justice Department investigations into Russian interference in the election.
I'd say he's done himself a favor there, saved himself wasting a lot of time that he could much more profitably devote to reversing the anti-cop, anti-white, open-borders mindset that settled in at the Justice Department under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch.
Meanwhile, here's a modest proposal for the President. Sir, why not stick a big fat finger in the eye of the Russophobes with an Executive Order announcing that from henceforth, the Russian ambassador will be an honored guest at all cabinet meetings.
Does anyone think that would make one iota of difference to our national security and prosperity? I don't. What it would do is drive the opposition over the edge from their present merely unbalanced state into screeching, grass-eating, poop-throwing, running-through-the-park-naked insanity. Which would be great fun to watch.
05 — Endgame in North Korea? Our real geostrategic worries should be concentrated on the other end of the Eurasian landmass.
Something's going on in North Korea. I'm not sure what, and neither are any of the experts. The internals of the North Korean government are famously opaque.
My past prognostications about North Korea have been a lesson in humility. I published my first major-outlet article about the place in 1983. If you'd asked me then whether Kim Il-sung's dictatorship would last another decade, I'd have given you odds against.
Ten years later he was still there. He died of a heart attack in 1994, while his country's economy, such as it was, was under severe strain following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the end of their aid. His playboy son Kim Jong-il took over. When people asked, I gave him five years at the outside before his generals staged a coup.
Kim Jong-il lasted seventeen years and handed the throne to his son Kim Jong-un, who is still in charge six years later. I tell ya, North Korea is a heart-breaker.
So caution is called for here. It doesn't help that what little we do know about the situation in North Korea comes filtered through South Korean intelligence agencies, who of course have their own agendas. Still, I'm getting vibes, and so are some of the professional Nork-watchers.
Radio Derb reported on the February 13th killing of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia, obviously on the orders of his younger half-brother Kim Jong-un, the current dictator in North Korea. That was just three weeks after the dismissal of Kim Jong-un's secret-police chief. The two events have to be related, although in ways I can't fathom. Did the secret police chief balk at hearing of the plan to assassinate Jong-nam?
Very significantly, it seems to me, this secret police chief — another Kim, although not so far as I know related to the ruling family — this guy seems not to have been shot. That's very unusual. At the highest governmental levels in North Korea, you are either in favor with the boss, or dead.
That also applies when you are in the ruling family: Jang Song-thaek, Jong-un's uncle, was executed three years ago — according to some reports, stripped naked and fed to a pack of dogs. Given the common stereotype about Korean cuisine, that seems like a real reversal of the natural order … but that's what we're told.
Five of the chief's subordinates are in fact now dead, executed by anti-aircraft guns in late February. The chief himself is still alive, though, under house arrest in Pyongyang. It's peculiar. You have to think Kim Jong-un would like to reduce him to puppy chow but dare not.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and that applies to modern despots as much as to Shakespeare's kings.
It's not the case, either, that public opinion counts for nothing, even in the most rigorous dictatorship. The Asian press is full of stories about how outraged North Koreans are over Jong-un killing his half-brother. "Every citizen in Pyongyang had learned about the killing in less than 10 days" reports one source, quoting a North Korean defector.
This is still a Confucian society — one reason the Kims have gotten away with establishing a father-son-grandson dynasty. A good Confucian isn't supposed to off his older brother.
It's North Korea, and I'm long past laying odds on what happens there. Something's going on, though. Should it emerge, a month or six months from now, that Kim Jong-un has been sent off to Fat Camp in a remote mountainous area while some stone-faced general has taken charge of the country, you heard it here first.
06 — The Forever War. President Trump, in his speech to Congress, didn't give any specifics about our overseas troop deployments: about whether they are to be increased, decreased, brought home, or what.
He told us he's working on a plan to, quote, "demolish and destroy ISIS." OK, but how are we going to do that? By sending in the Marines? Ramping up drone strikes? Or what?
All he'd tell us was that, quote: "We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world." So shall they be doing all the fighting, while we do intelligence and arms supplies? Or what?
Although there were no specifics in the speech, there may be some in the President's desk drawer. It's reported that this week General Mattis submitted a plan to the White House covering Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. We should be looking for some indications these next few days as to what the Trump administration is actually going to do.
I'm particularly curious about the plan for Afghanistan. We still have eight and a half thousand troops there, all officially in support roles — training and advising — but still taking casualties. Two of our guys were wounded in a firefight with the Taliban mid-February in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is now our country's longest war — sixteen years and counting. General John Nicholson, our current commander in Afghanistan, is the 12th to hold that position. February 9th he told the Senate Armed Services Committee he needs more troops — "thousands more," he said.
Will that win the war? It doesn't seem likely. We had over a hundred thousand troops in Afghanistan at peak strength six years ago. The Taliban hunkered down and waited until we got bored, which we duly did. Now, we're told, they control fifteen percent more territory than they did a year ago. Our puppet government in Afghanistan controls 57 percent of the country, down from 72 percent.
General Nicholson put some lipstick on the pig for the Senate committee, but it's not hard to figure what's happening from reading between the lines.
"Ghost soldiers" and "ghost police" are a big problem, he said. There are, quote: "tens of thousands fewer soldiers in the field than reported." Uncle Sam pays the wages for all those ghost personnel, and Afghan military officers sluice the proceeds through to their bank accounts in Dubai.
That's his number two problem, said the General. His number one problem is, quote, "failure of leaders in battle." I translate that to mean that Afghan army officers, when not busy trousering U.S. taxpayers' cash, are running as fast as they can away from the sound of gunfire.
The whole place, in short, is stinking with corruption, and nobody wants to fight for us.
Sixteen years — sixteen blessed years! Two and a half thousand American dead, and a trillion dollars spent. And our side is losing territory.
At the February 9th hearing Senator Lindsey Graham wondered idly whether thirty thousand troops might do the trick. General Nicholson shrugged and said eh, he'd talk it over with his chain of command. You have to hope that wasn't some kind of opening bid. Perhaps we'll end up with a hundred thousand again — back to 2010.
A lot of us hoped, when Donald Trump was elected, that the mad ideology of "invade the world, invite the world" that has dominated U.S. policy for these past sixteen years might now come to an end.
Will it? Does President Trump have the self-assurance to stand up to these fool generals and their endless assurances that just a few thousand more troops, just a few billion more dollars, will get the job done? I hope so — I'm clinging on to that hope.
We shall find out when the administration's plans for Afghanistan are announced, sometime in the next few weeks.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: An update here to an earlier segment. While I was recording that second one, in which I pointed out that most so-called "hate crimes" are hoaxes perpetrated to keep the fires of victimology stoked up, news came out that a St Louis man has been arrested for phoning in bomb threats to Jewish centers.
What kind of St Louis man? Gotta be a crazy redneck bible-toting, gun-worshipping Trump supporter, right?
Not exactly. He's black and a Muslim, name of Juan Thompson. So what the hell: I'm going to go full stretch here and say black, Muslim, with a Hispanic forename. If he turns out to be transgendered, too, I'll go to sleep tonight with a smile on my face; but that may be too much to hope for.
Item: Last month astronomers discovered seven earth-sized planets orbiting a small star forty light years away. Forty light years is about 240 trillion miles, so while this star and its planets are close by in cosmological terms, they're still a billion times further away than the Moon.
The news stories are of course all about how one or more of these planets may have living things on it. We might learn more about that when the James Webb Space Telescope goes into orbit next year.
My advice would be, don't get excited about it. As noted in my February Diary at VDARE.com, I am a keen consumer of pop-cosmology books. I actually know one of the authors of such a book, retired astrophysicist Michael Hart.
Across the years I have noticed a strengthening of the opinion that reasoning, self-aware creatures like ourselves are very rare in the universe. The current consensus seems to be that we are probably alone in our galaxy of a hundred billion stars and may very well be alone in all two trillion galaxies of the observable universe.
An even stronger opinion, held for example by Michael Hart, is that life itself — not just intelligent life, but life of any kind: bacteria, slime molds, anything — may be exceedingly rare. We don't have good theories for how life gets going. We have theories, but not good theories.
Even when you get life, it doesn't seem that intelligent life necessarily follows. Dinosaurs were around for nigh on two hundred million years, but they didn't develop intelligence.
This is all circumstantial. Our actual knowledge in this zone is still threadbare. To the degree that there's a consensus, though, that is currently it: We are at least very alone, and may be way way alone.
So it's nice they keep finding planets, but don't be looking for any sensational surprises when the James Webb gadget goes up. I must say, though, as an old science geek, I think having a space telescope named after you is very nearly the coolest thing imaginable; only a tad less cool than having your name on a mathematical theorem.
Item: I'm sure we all remember Rachel Dolezal, the 39-year-old American lady of Czech, German, and Swedish ancestry who identifies as black.
Ms Dolezal served as President of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington until outed as white in June 2015. She then resigned her position. News reports say she has had trouble making a living since then; but she has a book about herself coming out March 28th, so perhaps that will restore her finances.
This week's news is that as well as being transracial, Ms. Dolezal has decided to be transnominal. She has legally changed her name to Nkechi Amare. I'm sure I don't need to tell Radio Derb listeners that Nkechi is the short form of Nkechinyere, which in the West African Igbo language means "Gift of God."
I'm not sure which god is in play there. The only West African god I know is Shango, from William Boyd's fine funny novel A Good Man in Africa. Looking him up in the online gods database, I see that Shango, quote, "leads a full red-blooded life and likes to party."
Well, that sounds West African all right — more fun than those boring old white people's gods, anyway.
I wish Ms Dolezal … I beg her pardon: Ms Amare; I wish her good luck with the book, and offer my thanks to Shango for bestowing her upon us as a gift. That's assuming it was actually Shango — there are a lot of gods out there — and assuming also that Shango didn't go transracial at some point in there and change his name to Apollo or Wotan or something …
Item: It's not just Americans who don't want illegal immigrants from Mexico: Mexico doesn't want them either.
So says Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray. If we try to deport Mexican illegals back to Mexico en masse, the Minister said last week, Mexico will just refuse to take them.
Leaving aside the hypocrisy here — Mexico is diligent about returning Central American illegals who cross its own southern border, usually after a salutary rape and beating — leaving aside the hypocrisy, Mexico is skating on thin ice here. President Trump has declared it will be a core principle of our immigration policy not to issue U.S. visas to citizens of countries that don't accept the return of illegals.
That's a pretty good policy. Mexico's position seems a bit unfair to the illegals, though. They trek across miles of desert in fulfilment of their own government's policy to take back the American southwest by colonization. Then, when the Gringos rebel and push them back, this is all the thanks they get from their government. Eh, no good deed goes unpunished.
When speaking in public they have to rein in the dirty words, but the dirty-mindedness comes out anyway.
Case in point this week: February 27th President Trump held a meeting in the Oval Office with leaders of historically black universities and colleges that had been invited for talks at the White House. Senior Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway took pictures of the meeting on her cellphone for the visitors, and texted the pictures to their own phones at their request.
To get a good angle on the gathering, she knelt up on the Oval Office couch, without taking off her shoes. When this was known it got the anti-Trump mob riled up, with denunciations of Ms Conway for disrespecting White House furniture, and demands for her dismissal. Some of the denouncers must have been the same people who defended Bill Clinton for the stuff he got up to in the Oval Office, which as I recall went way beyond putting his feet on the couch.
Congressman Cedric Richmond, a mulatto who represents the vibrant city of New Orleans, may have had the Clinton Presidency in mind when on Wednesday he told a public dinner in Washington, D.C. that, in reference to Ms Conway's couch abuse, quote:
She really looked kind of familiar in that position there. But, don't answer, and I don't want you to refer back to the 1990s.
Feminists and defenders of women's rights across the nation naturally rushed to Ms Conway's defense with angry demands that the Congressman apologize … Oh no, wait, that was in Bizarro World. What feminists actually had to say in the lady's defense was [crickets].
08 — Signoff. That's all the news for this week. ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and I hope to see some of you tomorrow at the Spirit of America pro-Trump rally in Hauppauge, Long Island.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Over to you, Franz Joseph.
[Music clip: More Derbyshire Marches.]