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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, listeners, from your unctuously genial host John Derbyshire, here with VDARE.com's weekly roundup from the news wires.
Not much good to report this week, I'm afraid. We're getting a budget bill with very little in it that National Conservatives can cheer about. The House passed a healthcare bill that further confused everyone, and will confuse them some more by the time the Senate's finished working it over. The nation's borders stay open, in fact are set to open somewhat wider. And Trump Derangement Syndrome continues to stalk the land. Oh, and I have some sports news!
Let's take a look.
02 — Budget basics. Once every couple of years I offer listeners a primer on the federal budget. This is dull stuff, I know, but it's important.
Here you have to mentally conjure up the kind of diagram called in Genetics class 101 a punnet square — a box with two headings along the top and two down the side.
There are things that are interesting, and things that are important. All four combinations are possible. Some things are interesting and important, like most of what you hear about on Radio Derb. Some things are interesting but not important, like the Heat Death of the Universe. Some things are neither interesting nor important, like the lives of people named Kardashian. And then there are the dull-but-important things, like the federal budget.
So, federal budget basics. The Feds' fiscal year runs from the first day of October to the last day of September. We are thus seven months and a bit into Fiscal Year 2017. Put it another way, we're a month and some into the third quarter of Barack Obama's last budget year. Yes: an incoming President is stuck with the previous guy's budget for eight months, in theory.
The custom is for the President to offer a budget for Congress's consideration by the first Monday in February, to apply to the upcoming fiscal year that starts in October. New administrations, needing time to settle in, are cut some slack on this; and for an outsider administration like President Trump's, a lot of slack is cut.
So we haven't had much of a detailed budget spelled out for fiscal 2018, which begins this coming October. The President wants tax reform, repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and increases to defense spending paid for with … what? Corresponding cuts to discretionary spending, said Trump's budget director at the initial rollout of the proposals late in February. No, no, said the President one day later: The defense increases will be paid for by all the economic growth his policies will generate.
Things firmed up a bit March 16th when the administration did publish a formal budget for Fiscal 2018. A bit, but not much: It was a sketchy budget even by new-administration standards. The administration promised something more substantial in May, so we live in hope.
We did at least get to find out from the March 16th release who won the argument about paying for defense increases. The accountants won: There'll be a 54 billion dollar increase in defense spending, paid for with an equal cut in non-defense discretionary spending. The only snag with that is that the cuts won't happen. Congress isn't there to cut anybody's spending.
Paying for defense increases by cutting non-defense, even though it won't happen, at least shows a better mentality than Obama's. His rule was that one dollar of increased defense spending had to be matched with one dollar of increased non-defense spending: not an offsetting decrease, a double-up increase.
These are the administration's proposals, remember: They are nowhere near being laws yet, and probably never will be. That brings us to last Sunday's agreement.
With budget proposals coming out February-March, giving Congress six months to chew over them and cut deals, you'd think there'd be a bright shiny budget ready to launch at the beginning of a fiscal year. That never happens. The chewing and the deal-cutting is continuous, and subject to major disruptions after an election, especially one that changes the color of Congress or the administration.
So we've been living not under a formal budget declared last year and effective last October 1st. We've actually been living under a Continuing Resolution passed in December by the old Congress, funding federal operations until the end of April. Hence the news from last weekend on a further agreement covering spending down to end-September. Absent an agreement the feds would have no authority to spend anything, and federal operations would shut down.
If you think this is a nutty way to manage the nation's finances, I can only agree with you. As a footnote to this segment, though, I'd add that as nutty as this procedure is, it at least shows a modicum of responsibilty. That's more than you can say for long-term thinking about the budget.
Is anyone actually doing that long-term thinking? Sure: We have an entire government agency doing it, the Congressional Budget Office. They put out a report at the end of March with a very gloomy prognosis: basically, swelling deficits as far as the eye can see. The federal debt right now is 77 percent of our Gross Domestic Product; by 2047, the Budget Office says, it'll be 150 percent.
Scary stuff … except that nobody's really scared by it. You've been hearing about unsustainable federal spending for as long as you can remember, right? And it goes on being sustained somehow. Our minds aren't structured to worry about things like this. Sure, maybe we'll go over a cliff in 2020-something. Or maybe the horse will sing. Who knows?
The issue for the present, budget-wise, is that the Trump administration seems unwilling or unable — or both — to defend its spending priorities in Congress. Let's look at that.
03 — Acuckalypse now. Three weeks ago I grumbled about what I called The Big Cuck — our administration, which we elected on a platform of America First, marching us back into the Middle East dung-heap, sending a carrier group to Northeast Asia, and swearing allegiance to NATO as a bulwark against the Soviet menace.
Then last week, when it became clear that the administration will do nothing to halt the inward flow of fake "refugees" or stop issuing work permits to illegal aliens, I upgraded my disgust. What was happening, I sputtered, was not merely a Big Cuck; it was a Cuck-o-rama.
Well, following the congressional budget deal announced Sunday night, I'm going to have to take it to the next level. Ladies and gentlemen, this is no transient, footling Cuck-o-rama: This is the Acuckalypse!
Recall from the previous segment that Congress — the old Congress, elected in 2014 — passed a continuing resolution in December to fund the government until the end of April. We therefore needed a new law, to fund federal operations through the rest of the fiscal year.
So the new Congress — which, to remind you, has a slightly reduced Republican majority in the Senate and a somewhat increased Republican majority in the House — put their thinking caps on and came up with an agreement.
What's it like? In short: not Trumpish. Not, I mean, much in line with the things we wanted from a Trump Presidency when we voted for the guy last November.
The big heart-breaker for Trumpists was the absence of any funding for a border wall.
I've had my doubts about a border wall, just because I don't think a wall is the best way to seal the border. A good fence is much better because you can see through it, and if necessary shoot through it. Nations that are really serious about sealing their borders —Israel, Saudi Arabia, Hungary — all go for fences.
I guess Trump, whose career in construction was much more walls that fences, just naturally thinks in terms of a wall. That's OK; I'll take a wall. And regardless of the relative merits of walls and fences, Trump's promise to build a wall was a major factor in his electoral appeal. It's quite likely what got him elected.
Yet there are no funds in this spending bill for a wall. Or are there? The bill does allocate $1.5 billion for increased border security. The President and his Budget Director have been claiming that some of that can be used to start construction on a wall. Sean Spicer said we shall at least have a bollard wall. That's what the guy said: a bollard wall.
Where I was raised that would be called a load of old bollards, or something close.
Nobody much is any more convinced than I am by administration excuses. What are convincing are the happy smiles and chortlings of glee from the open-borders lobbies.
Quote from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren't used to fund an ineffective border wall.
Quote from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:
The [budget deal] does not fund President Trump's immoral and unwise border wall or create a cruel new deportation force.
Note the word "minority" in the congressional titles of both Schumer and Pelosi. As representatives of the minority in both Senate and House, how were these reptiles able to get their way on a major issue in the Trump electoral agenda? What was the majority doing while the minority killed off the biggest vote-getter of the last election season?
What were they doing? Cucking, that's what. You remember that TV show Bowling for Dollars? Well, the GOP congresscritters are cucking for donors.
This is the system we have, listeners. I tell you: this is the Acuckalypse. Chuck Schumer l-o-v-e-s the smell of legislation in the morning.
04 — Cucking for donors. What, you don't believe that about the GOP congressvermin cucking for donors? Check this out.
Not only did last weekend's spending bill trash the wall, it also allowed a big expansion of H-2B guest-worker visas.
The H-2B visa is for low-skilled seasonal, non-agricultural workers. Landscaping firms use them, for example: not much landscaping work gets done in the winter. Logging companies, which don't count as agricultural, use them. So do summer resorts and amusement parks. National parks, too: If you stopped off for a snack at Yosemite Lodge Food Court last summer, that young lady from Kazakhstan who served you was on an H-2B visa.
A good alternative name for the H-2B visa would in fact be the Keep American Kids Out of Summer Vacation Jobs visa.
Apologists for the visa tell you they can't get American teenagers to do these jobs. I don't know which teenagers they're talking about. My son, who is not sensationally industrious, used to work landscaping in the summer vacation when he was at high school. His best friend's father owns a landscaping firm, so the two lads would work together for him. My boy greatly appreciated the few dollars he made landscaping. Is he really such an outlier among American youngsters?
Don't take it from me. Here's Daniel Costa of the Economics Policy Institute testifying before a Senate committee last June, quote:
Despite … claims from industry groups — other than employer anecdotes — no credible data or labor market metrics have been presented by non-employer-affiliated groups or organizations — let alone by disinterested academics — proving the existence of labor shortages in H-2B occupations that could justify a large expansion of the H-2B program.
A large expansion is what we just got, though. What's going on here is of course the same thing as with the H-1B for skilled workers. In a nutshell: Foreigners are cheaper.
This didn't come out of the blue. Congressional donor-puppets have been scheming to get H-2B expansion into the first available piece of spending legislation since the last expansion in 2015. Here's a report from Politico.com, April 14th, quote:
The H-2B Workforce Coalition, a lobby group that includes dozens of business associations, wants the visa total to rise again
Yes, you heard the word "bipartisan" in there. There is nothing in this world so bipartisan as a measure to screw American workers. H-2B expansion is, plain and simple, about importing cheap labor, and GOP congressroaches are totally on board with that.
A side benefit is of course to enrich lawyers. We mustn't forget the lawyers! Applying for H-2B visas is a long and complicated process — so much so, there are lawyers who specialize in that one visa. And because, as everyone knows, immigration is an unqualified good, and ours is a nation of immigrants, and American workers are lazy and useless, these immigration lawyers are doing God's work.
Here by the way is the next sentence from that April 14th Politico report, quote:
You might expect an "America First" President to oppose the H-2B program, but President Trump has steered clear of the issue so far.
I'm not going to trust myself to comment on that. I leave it there for your reflection.
Any time our government does something on immigration that seems to me disgraceful, I check my opinion against a guy who is (a) way better-informed than I am about immigration issues, and (b) milder and more temperate — yes: more genial — than I am on these issues.
The guy is Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies. What did Mark think about the immigration provisions in last weekend's spending bill? Alex Marlow asked him on the Breitbart News Daily radio show Wednesday. Replied Mark, quote:
I think it was a surrender on the part of the President. There's a good reason that Schumer and Pelosi are crowing about how they won on this because they did.
That's mild-mannered Mark's way of putting it. Here's my way: We've been cucked. Again.
05 — The healthcare confusopoly. In the hope of distracting our attention from all the cucking on immigration, the administration's been trumpeting — yes, trump-eting — the passing on Thursday by the House of Representatives of a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Color me unimpressed. I started reading about the actual provisions of the bill — state subsidies for premiums, individual tax credits, surcharges if your insurance lapsed, and so on — but my eyelids grew heavy so I went out and mowed the lawn instead.
Scott Adams the Dilbert cartoonist, on his blog has a term I rather like: "Confusopoly." A confusopoly is an industry that benefits by keeping consumers confused. Our healthcare system, says Adams, is a confusopoly. Who the hell understands it? I sure don't, and I have a degree in mathematics.
Here's a bill I got the other day from a local radiology outfit. They want $328.95 from me. Why? Well, I had a scan. I'm insured, though: insured twice over, in fact, once from my wife's employee plan, then again from Medicare. So why am I being dunned for $328.95? I peer at the statement. "Insurance disallowance," what's that? "Co insurance," what's that? I have no clue.
I guess I'll have to get on the phone with them and try to sort it out. Around half the time when I do that it turns out the billing department has made some mistake. I should only have been dunned for way less, or not dunned at all. The billers don't even understand their own procedures. OK then, thanks … but that's half an hour out of my life I'll never get back.
At this point I issue my usual challenge to the world, or at any rate to that portion of the world that listens to Radio Derb. Please name one political party, in any nation anywhere in the world, that is agitating for a healthcare system modeled on ours.
I'll save you the trouble: You can't. There isn't one. There are, I am sure, other confusopoly-type healthcare systems, but there are none as infuriatingly, metaphysically confused as ours.
Healthcare isn't difficult. Doctors need to be paid at a level that encourages sufficient numbers of people to take up doctoring. Likewise nurses, pharmacists, radiologists, and allied trades. Hospitals need to be rationally financed so they can pay for their staff, supplies, and maintenance. Drug companies need inducements to research and development. Citizens need to know that if they get sick, they'll get treatment, even if they are poor and the treatment is expensive.
It's not rocket science. Every civilized country has a system and every one of them delivers better healthcare outcomes at lower cost than ours.
Our system makes no economic sense. Why is my wife's employer providing her with health insurance? Why is her healthcare any obligation of an employer's? Even more baffling, why is her husband's healthcare any concern of theirs? Why am I on her plan? And then, the whole insane business of insurance for pre-existing conditions. How is that insurance? It's just not. Insurance is for things that haven't happened. A pre-existing condition has already happened. It's nuts.
Any thoughtful person can come up with a better system than ours. Here's a random example from my email box. Edited quote:
Congress passes a law that the individual states shall provide healthcare for their residents, financed by a dedicated sales tax.
I dare say you can find faults in that — argumentative people can find fault with anything — but it's plausible, and way simpler than what we have now. It's not a confusopoly.
Even some of our conservative pundits, the types who used to shudder at the phrase "socialized medicine," are coming round on this. I saw Charles Krauthammer on the Tucker Carlson show the other evening saying we are headed inevitably to a single-payer system.
Yes we are, and it can't come soon enough. I've been saying this for years. Nice to see Dr Krauthammer catching up with me. When will Congress get on board? I'm not holding my breath.
06 — Soccer hooliganism: the Chinese need to raise their game. How about a sports segment? I don't do much sporting commentary on Radio Derb, mainly because I don't follow sports. A lot of my listeners do, though; so here's one for them.
Born and raised an Englishman, I naturally retain some slight modest pride in my Englishness.
What's good about the English? Well, two things at least: imperialism, and hooliganism. I've suggested elsewhere that the two things are connected at some level … but I'll leave further discussion of that for another time. Here I just want to pass comment on a current news item, a sporting news item. (Hat tip here goes to British journalist Ed West, writing in the London Evening Standard last Friday.)
The news story is that a mainland-Chinese soccer team, Guangzhou Evergrande, was playing a game in Hong Kong April 25th against a local side, Hong Kong Eastern. The final game score was a 6-0 win for the visitors, if you want to know, but that's not the story.
The story is that a big contingent of mainlanders were in the stadium to support Guangzhou. At one point in the game these supporters unfurled a big banner saying 殲英犬、滅港毒, which being translated means: "Annihilate British Dogs, Extinguish Hong Kong Independence Poison." Please note in passing the great economy of the Chinese language: Six syllables of theirs translate into eighteen syllables of ours.
What's up with that? Well, what's up is, Hong Kongers and mainlanders don't much like each other. The Hong Kongers regard the mainlanders as uncouth rubes who blow their noses with their fingers and let themselves be bullied by corrupt officials. Mainlanders look on the Hong Kongers as stuck-up snobs who sold their souls to British imperialism.
These antagonisms work themselves out in sporting contests. Last year the Hong Kong soccer association was fined by FIFA, the international governing body of the sport, because spectators booed when the mainland national anthem was played at a World Cup qualifying match.
I have to take sides with the Hong Kongers here. British imperialism had its dark side for sure; but even at its worst it was way better than anything the Chinese have come up with in the way of governing systems. I lived in Hong Kong forty years ago, when the Brits were still in charge, and I have plenty of stories about corruption and social problems. At that time, though, over on the mainland they were hacking each other to death in the name of Mao Tse-tung's Great Cultural Revolution, and the main problem for the Hong Kong government was preventing floods of refugees from crossing into the colony.
Things are better in the mainland today, but the governmental system still sucks. That's why property prices in Western cities — San Francisco, L.A., Vancouver, London — are being jacked up out of sight by Chinese buyers. They want a safe place to park their money before rapacious officials get their hands on it; and they want a safe bolt-hole in case the Chinese Communist Party decides it's time for another Cultural Revolution.
Personally I think it's shameful that we let this happen. We should have restrictions on foreigners buying up property. Let them stay home and put their own country to rights, instead of pricing young Americans out of the housing market. You can call this "real estate nationalism" if you like, and add it to the "academic nationalism" I was promoting a few weeks ago.
That's by the by, though. Main point here: Chinese government really sucks. Anglo-Saxon government is way better, even in the reduced form Hong Kong's had since the Brits pulled out twenty years ago.
There was some implicit recognition of this in that stadium April 25th. The BBC report of the April 25th incident tells us that one Hong Kong supporter raised the old colonial-era Hong Kong flag, in which the British national flag, the Union Jack, is a prominent component. The people around him seem happy with it, but social media on the mainland are buzzing with rage.
Soccer authorities seemed not to mind the colonial flag, but they did mind the mainlanders' banner. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has charged the Guangzhou team with spectator misconduct.
My main takeaway here is that British football hooligans are far superior to the Chinese variety. This lot from Guangzhou had a nifty banner, but it looked as though it had been professionally made, and the whole demonstration had a sort of rent-a-mob quality to it.
Which wouldn't be surprising. The ChiComs badly want to crush the localist movement in Hong Kong; but they want to do it without the deployment of tanks or other unsightly displays, of the kind that brought them so much international obloquy when they crushed the 1989 protests in Peking. So for the time being at least they are restricting themselves to displays of intimidation. The April 25th event may have been organized by the ChiComs for that purpose.
The Guangzhou crowd in any case were not impressive as soccer hooligans. British hooligans would have been throwing bottles on the pitch, singing obscene songs, and having running fights with the police outside the stadium.
If this is the best that mainland China can do after four thousand years of social development, the British government should send some Millwall supporters over there to raise their game.
07 — Trump Derangement Syndrome roundup. I have mixed feelings over expressing my disappointments with the Trump administration. I voted for the guy; I'd vote for him again against any Democrat I can think of, and most Republicans.
And hey: We got Jeff Sessions at Justice, and a Supreme Court Appointee who isn't an anti-white, man-hating Social Justice radical. So I'm still hoping for the best.
And, I'll say this for President Trump: He's still hated by all the right people.
Boy, how they hate him! Trump Derangement Syndrome shows no sign of abating. If anything it seems to be getting more intense. Here's a roundup from the last few days.
First, New Yorker magazine, in the vanguard of the mob. I mentioned in my April Diary a 4,000-word anti-Trump philippic by the editor, David Remnick. A week later came the May 8th issue with a much longer piece — nearly ten thousand words — by staff writer Evan Osnos, title: Endgame: What would it take to cut short Trump's Presidency?
Mr Osnos stops short of calling for an assassination, but probably only because New Yorker doesn't want the FBI banging on their door. And as in the late Soviet Union, when physical elimination is bothersome, you can always incarcerate an Enemy of the People in a psychiatric ward.
So here's Mr Osnos discussing possibilities with Lance Dodes, a retired assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Quote:
Like many of his colleagues, Dodes speculates that Trump fits the description of someone with malignant narcissism, which is characterized by grandiosity, a need for admiration, sadism, and a tendency toward unrealistic fantasies. On February 13th, in a letter to the Times [that would be the New York Times, duh], Dodes and thirty-four other mental-health professionals wrote, [inner quote] "We fear that too much is at stake to be silent any longer."
End quote, end quote.
If you can't kill the guy and can't incarcerate him, you can of course try to impeach him. Much of Osnos's article is given over to that.
I read the whole thing with a sort of grim fascination. This is wish-fulfillment fantasy for Trump haters. They can't accept it, they just can't accept it, that a person with heterodox opinions got elected President, that 62 million Americans voted for him. Who ARE those people? They just can't get over it.
Then, here we were last Saturday evening at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in Washington, D.C. The President himself did not attend, perhaps unwilling, like Macbeth, to be baited with the rabble's curse.
Star performer at the dinner was 31-year-old comedian Hasan Minhaj, not previously known to me. Here are some samples of his humor.
• Sample: "Mike Pence wanted to be here tonight, but his wife won't let him because apparently, one of you ladies is ovulating."
• Sample: "The leader of our country is not here. And that's because he lives in Moscow."
• Sample: "Is Steve Bannon here? I do not see Steve Bannon. I do not see Steve Bannon. I do Nazi Steve Bannon. I do Nazi Steve Bannon."
• Sample: "Jeff Sessions couldn't be here tonight. He was busy doing a pre-Civil War reenactment. On his R.S.V.P. he just wrote, 'no.' Just no! Which happens to be his second favorite n-word.
That's Hasan Minhaj. My take: God, how I miss Don Rickles.
Mr Minhaj's parents are Muslims from India. Indian government isn't bad: not as bad as China's, thanks to British Imperialism — you're welcome! — but the place is still poor and corrupt. I'd guess those parents of his are very glad to be here. I wonder what they think about their son throwing infantile abuse at white American public servants.
Third: Stephen Colbert, one of those late-night smirkers who play court jester to the Social Justice Warrior set. Last Monday Colbert opened his TV show with an obscene anti-Trump rant. It was really coarse stuff, too coarse and crude for a family podcast.
I've noted before that this kind of thing comes from deep down in the reptilian brain stem. It's not properly thought or language, just a style of mindless emoting. Let me quote myself: Radio Derb, January 27th, quote:
Lefties love this kind of thing. Remember when the Tea Party came up, and progressives tagged it with the term for a strange practice that homosexual men apparently engage in with each other? They thought that was so witty. CultMarx types were still guffawing over it years later — probably still are.
So yes: Trump Derangement Syndrome continues to wax strong, with no sign of abating. I'm past disapproval and disgust, now into curiosity. How long can they keep this up?
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Foreigners who don't want to go to the trouble of acquiring an H-2B visa or some other guest-worker visa can just get a tourist or student visa and overstay it.
Huge numbers of foreigners do this. How many? In 2015, for the first time ever, the Department of Homeland Security tried to find out. In February last year they produced a report.
In that year, the year 2015, the report says that 45 million non-worker visas — these are tourist and business visas — 45 million visas expired. Of that number, more than 400,000 visa holders — a bit less than one percent — overstayed. Lead countries for visa overstays: Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany.
The problem here is crappy IT. Quote from a Daily Caller report, May 4th, quote:
Information on visa holders is held in 27 DHS information technology systems that can't communicate with each other.
Obviously the DHS needs to upgrade its IT. If they'll drop me an email here at VDARE.com I can put them in touch with a body shop in India that will be glad to send over as many IT programmers as they need on H-1B visas. Just let me know.
That's a lot of moolah for a one-hour speech. It's hard not to think there's an element of bribery here. Suppose the Obama administration had been really hard on Wall Street, which they could have been. Would Wall Street firms still pony up six-digit sums for a speech from the ex-President? Was he, or they, calculating this stuff while in office?
I can't say I'm much agitated myself about this; but I do think it's odd that when an ex-President can pull in so much money right after leaving office, we still pay them a public pension.
We never used to. It's actually quite a recent thing. James Monroe died destitute; Harry Truman had to take out a bank loan so he'd have leisure to write his memoirs. It was Truman's post-Presidency financial problems, in fact, that prompted Congress to pass the Former Presidents Act in 1958, giving ex-Presidents a pension and some other bennies. They didn't used to get anything.
Let Obama make his speeches and collect his fees, I say: but let's repeal the Former Presidents Act.
Reading pre-reviews of it in the newspapers, I don't think I'll be buying the book. All I wanted to know about Obama I read in Steve Sailer's 2008 book America's Half-Blood Prince. To judge from those pre-reviews, there's nothing in this new book that Steve didn't spot ten years ago.
Obama's a gassy narcissist, says Garrow. One of Obama's law-school students told him that, quote: "In law school, the only thing I would have voted for Obama to do would have been to shut up." I know the feeling. I bet several Cantor Fitzgerald employees know it too.
And yes, he dumped his white girlfriend to marry Michelle because he needed a black wife for advancement in Chicago politics. Steve covered that pretty well, and I doubt if it will come as a surprise to anyone — least of all, I imagine, Michelle.
One of the young Obama's friends told Garrow he never thought of him as black. Quote: "He just seemed like a middle-class white kid," end quote. Steve caught that aspect, too. It was Steve, in fact, I'm pretty sure, who nailed Obama most precisely by describing him as, quote, "a black wigger."
That's Obama exactly, precisely: He's a wigger, a middle-class white kid who desperately wants to be black … the strange psychological twist being, of course, that he actually is black.
Well, well: Good luck to Obama on the lecture circuit … just so long as no-one makes me listen to him, ever again.
Canova refers to Antonio Canova, an Italian sculptor who was famous in the early 19th century. In 1816 North Carolina commissioned a statue of George Washington from him. The statue was made and delivered. It sat in the state house in Raleigh until destroyed by a fire in 1831.
The point of the Frick exhibition is to show Canova's preliminary work for the statue, never seen before in the U.S.A. Before you sculpt a statue there are drawings to be made, draft sketches and so on. It's also helpful to make a full-size plaster model of the statue.
Here's the thing, though. Like many other sculptors, then and now, to get the posture and proportions of a statue exactly right, Canova would first make a nude figure out of plaster, then work out how to carve the stone version with clothes on. So this full-sized plaster model shows the Father of our Country in his birthday suit. It's a naked George Washington.
Washington was a big man: 6 feet, 2 inches tall, 175 pounds. He had, we are told, unusually large hands and feet.
"Canova's George Washington" opens May 22nd, 2018. The Frick Collection is at Fifth Avenue and 70th street. You might want to get a ticket in advance; demand might be heavy.
09 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and for your many suggestions and corrections.
Here to play us out is the American version of an old English song from the Civil War — England's Civil War, which happened a couple of hundred years before ours. I learned it to a different tune, and I used to sing it to my own daughter Nellie when she was little; but this version has its charms, too.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Joe Hickerson, "Hang on the bell, Nellie."]