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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your classically genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you commentary from a Dissident Right point of view on all the week's news you need to bother about.
Another week, another federal funding crisis, and another slew of proposals on immigration. I shall take a look at that. First, though, an unrelated story from the United States of Hysteria.
02 — Gloating from the bench. As regular listeners know, I have a newspaper delivered every morning to read over my breakfast oatmeal. It's nothing heavy, just the New York Post, which nicely straddles the borderline between too-good-to-check tabloid idiocy and the honking self-important ponderosity of the broadsheet press.
I don't read more than about ten percent of my morning newspaper. I have zero interest in sports or celebrities. I glance at the business section for old times' sake but rarely read a complete article (though John Crudele sometimes says sensible things about the nation's finances).
The latest story of municipal corruption or malfeasance generally takes up two or three pages, but when you've read one of those stories, you've read 'em all. The perp is some useless incompetent, almost invariably black, given a nice plum job in the New York City bureaucracy in return for supporting the mayor, or just as an affirmative-action gesture. The current flap about the head of the public-housing authority lying under oath is pefectly typical. You could write a computer program to generate these corruption stories. Perhaps the Post does that; I don't know or care.
So there isn't much in my morning newspaper I actually want to read. That's fine; breakfast doesn't take long and I have things to do. They did get my prolonged attention on Thursday this week, though.
The front page story was about the sentencing of Larry Nassar, the sports-medicine specialist at Michigan State University who'd been found guilty of molesting young female athletes, including Olympic competitors.
At the risk of coming across as prurient, or perhaps just over-inquisitive, I always want to know what the perp actually did in these cases. What Larry Nassar did was, he touched the breasts and private parts of young girls while examining them, including three who were younger than thirteen, and penetrated them with his finger, all against their will.
And these were state charges. Nassar was convicted just last month in federal court on charges related to possessing, creating, and destroying child pornography. For that federal conviction he got a sixty-year sentence, of which under federal rules he will have to serve fifty-five years.
Obviously this is a nasty creepy guy. There's no making excuses for Larry Nassar. The news story does, though, tell us something about our strange times, and about the disturbing level of unreasoning feminized hysteria in society today. If you don't know the etymology of the word "hysteria," I'll pause a moment while you look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls … okay.
First, the sentence. The state judge, name of Rosemarie Aquilina, gave Larry Nassar 40 to 175 years on the molestation charges. I'm not clear how that sentence is structured or how many years he is likely to serve, but it sure looks like decades. And that, according to the judge, is after he's served the sixty-year federal sentence.
Sixty plus 175 is 235. Two hundred and thirty-five years — longer than the entire history of our republic. You don't have to be a fan of pedophilia to wonder if that isn't disproportionate. Two hundred and thirty-five years? For crimes in which no-one was killed, maimed, battered or disfigured, and nothing was stolen? How much time does your average murderer serve nowadays, or arsonist, or rapist — a rapist, I mean, who employs more than his finger?
Again, I'm not making excuses for Nassar. He's a loathsome creep. He should certainly have been fired from his job, stripped of his medical license, and put on some federal register — I'm pretty sure there is one — to ensure that he could never again be alone with young girls anywhere in the U.S.A. Jail time? Yes; if I were sentencing I'd give him five to ten on all the charges combined. But two hundred and thirty-five years? Come on.
Reading the news story and looking at the accompanying pictures, it's clear that the courtroom was fogged up with estrogen vapours. The sentencing judge disgraced her profession, wrapping her sentence in a preening, gloating, vindictive diatribe. Here's the low point.
[Clip, at 0m55s here: Our Constitution does not allow for cruel and unusual punishment. If it did, I have to say, I might allow what he did, to all of these beautiful souls, these young women in their childhood … I would allow someone, or many people, to do to him what he did to others.]
Hey, what do we hire judges for, if not to let loose with their violent vengeance fantasies on nationwide TV?
The judge's theatricals were supported by a weeping, ululating Greek Chorus of women Nassar had molested. They'd spent four days sobbing their way through victim impact statements in the courtroom.
Once again for emphasis: Larry Nassar is a disgusting pervert, if we're still allowed to say "pervert," and I'd have sent him down for five to ten with a clear conscience. I just don't agree that what he did was as sensationally horrible as the court, and my New York Post, were making it out to be.
I know I'm a geezer and out of touch, but in my generation, unless you were spectacularly ugly, you didn't make it through childhood and adolescence without an occasional pervert coming on at you. It's not an uncommon thing in the world, and I'm dubious about the claims of permanent mental distress. That Greek chorus in the courtroom keening about their victimhood looked pretty healthy, when they removed their hankies from their eyes long enough for you to get a look at them.
But of course we are in a feminist moment, and keening about victimhood is what every red-blooded American girl is encouraged to do nowadays. I note that not only the judge but also the prosecuting attorneys were females; so was the judge in last month's federal case. Judge Aquilina of course did not bar males from the courtroom entirely, but you got the impression that she would have done so if she thought she could get away with it.
The judgette wrapped up her gloat-a-thon by jeering at Larry Nassar that, quote, "I've just signed your death warrant," end quote. By that point I was mentally composing a petition to repeal the Nineteenth Amendment.
03 — Back to basics. Speaking of the Nineteenth Amendment there brought to mind the late Justice Scalia's penetrating observation in the Obergefell case, the one that legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S.A., that if the U.S. Supreme Court in 1920 had had the conceit of itself it has today, there would have been no need for the Nineteenth Amendment. The Supremes would just have found female suffrage hidden in the Constitution, unnoticed for 150 years.
That prompted the further thought that our entire system of government has gotten seriously out of balance. The ideal is that Congress passes federal laws, judges rule on their proper application when there is doubt, and the Executive enforces those laws.
Nowadays federal laws are defied with impunity. Not just with impunity, in fact: as the current wrangling over DACA illegal aliens demonstrates, there is a widespread willingness to reward defiance of federal law.
And while federal laws go unenforced and we debate the degree to which defiance of them should be rewarded, radical new laws, like the legalizing of same-sex marriage, are handed down by the judiciary.
And while all that's going on, what is Congress doing? Damn little, for all I can see. They can't even perform their most important duty: passing an annual budget for the federal government.
It's all gotten badly out of balance. One reason to be thankful for the Trump administration is that they seem to be aware of this. The Trump Justice Department, for example, is moving against so-called sanctuary cities, threatening to file criminal charges against elected officials in those cities. It's timid stuff, and way too late, but encouraging none the less.
Jeff Sessions came in for some criticism from our side of the house just recently for reversing the Obama administration's easygoing enforcement policies on federal marijuana laws. Sure, it's kind of a sidebar issue, and there are more important things the A-G should be giving his department's time and energy to.
On the other hand it's good back-to-basics stuff. We have these laws; they were passed by the people's elected representatives in Congress duly assembled; we should enforce them. If people don't like that, they can agitate to have Congress change the laws. That's our system.
That's our system, and Congress is most of our problem. While the arrogance of the judiciary and the negligence of the executive during the Obama years are certainly components of our current malaise, it seems to me that the uselessness of Congress is at the heart of the matter. The Constitution after all gives Congress powers over both the other two branches, powers they can't seem to summon up the energy to use.
Going back to that most important duty of Congress: I know something about budgeting. One of the first big computer systems I designed, back in mainframe days, was for the general ledger and budgeting function of a medium-sized corporation.
Back in those days — this was the 1970s — there was a management fad for "zero-based budgeting." The traditional way for an organization to work up next year's budget had been to start with the current year's budget and make little adjustments up or down here and there. In the zero-based model, you tossed current year in the trash bin and started with a clean sheet of paper. What should we be doing, and how much should we spend doing it?
Like all management fads, sometimes it worked in practice and sometimes it didn't. It had the appeal of elegance and simplicity, though; and under forceful corporate leadership it made an end run around powerful entrenched departmental interests.
So that's my slogan for this week: Back to Basics — zero-based basics. To adapt a saying of Confucius': Legislators, legislate! Judges, judge! Executives, execute!
04 — Errata. I haven't done an errata segment for a while; so here I am putting on my humility cap and owning up to my blunders.
Did I really, asks a listener, did I really say that Jeff Bezos' net worth, in passing the hundred billion dollar mark, had crossed over from eight digits to nine? A hundred billion dollars has twelve digits.
Yes I did; and yes, I'm the guy who chides people for innumeracy. If this were a video podcast, you'd see me blushing.
And then the cowbells. Reporting last week on that Dutch lady living in Switzerland, whose application for Swiss citizenship was turned down on the grounds she is annoying, I mocked her command of physics when she said, quote: "The sound that cow bells make is a hundred decibels. It is comparable with a pneumatic drill. We wouldn't want such a thing hanging close to our ears, would we?" End quote.
In fact, as James Fulford and a couple of listeners pointed out, your Swiss cowbell is no mere tinkly toy thing. The Swiss want to hear their cows coming a couple of Alps away. These suckers weigh twelve pounds. Quote here from an article in Time magazine, quote:
A recent study at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology studied more than 100 cows carrying 12-pound bells at two dozen farms across the country, and found that the bells can lead to deafness in cows … The bells can create noise levels of up to 113 decibels …
End quote. That's why the Dutch lady, who is an animal-rights activist, was pestering the farmers about their cowbells. So her physics was right. I can't share the lady's concern for the cows, who we're just going to eat eventually anyway, but I confess my error.
Finally, an anti-erratum. That is, a listener thinks I'm wrong but I don't agree.
This listener accuses me, in a polite and friendly way, of rank hypocrisy when I said, in last week's podcast that we should ask the cheap-labor, open-borders racketeers, where the morality lies in strip-mining poor countries of their smart people. That was by way of buttressing my case against merit-based immigration.
Said my listener: "You don't really care about the moral aspect. What happens in Haiti is of no real interest to you. You don't care whether they keep their smart people or lose them. You're just pretending to care because you don't want them here."
To the charge of hypocrisy I plead not guilty. My listener is right: I don't give a fig about Haiti or what happens there; and yes, I want to keep Haitians, including smart ones, out of the U.S.A. I'm a moratorium supporter. I think we have all the people we need.
And I deplore the moralization of the immigration issue. As I said in We Are Doomed, quoting Mae West: Goodness has nothing to do with it. Immigration's just a policy, like how many aircraft carriers we need, to be debated in cold practical terms about what best advances us to the kind of country we want.
The open-borders cheap-labor crowd do moralize it, though. They gush moralization. So okay, I was saying, let's throw their moralizing back in their faces. Where is the morality in strip-mining poor countries of the small pool of human capital they have? Let the moralizers tell us, if they can.
05 — Rise of the Maybe Trumpers I know of course about my fellow Trump supporters, and I know about the Never Trumpers, some of my old colleagues at National Review prominent among them. I think, though, I am sighting an intermediate breed: Maybe Trumpers.
A Maybe Trumper is someone who started out as a Never Trumper but is, grudgingly and reluctantly, having second thoughts.
Here is a specimen of the Maybe Trumper species: British historian Andrew Roberts. Roberts is a Tory, a patriot and a conservative, but a neocon and former Never Trumper. During the 2016 election campaign he poured scorn on Trump, deriding him as, quote, "a clown."
Yet here was Roberts in the Daily Mail last Saturday telling us that Trump might very well win a second term.
Roberts' main point, for his British readership, is the folly of politicians from the opposition Labour Party, like party leader Jeremy Corbyn and London mayor Sadiq Khan, refusing to meet with Trump in the event of a Presidential visit to Britain. Along the way, though, Roberts makes some good points about Trump's successes and likely future prospects.
The tax cut was a good move, Roberts tells us; James Mattis and Steve Mnuchin are great picks for Defense and the Treasury; Trump's dealt effectively with ISIS; he was right to pull out of UNESCO and recognize Jerusalem; and, quote from Roberts:
If the US economy continues to improve, not least because of Trump's widespread deregulation, there is no reason why he could not be re-elected in 2020.
Roberts is still an invade-the-world, invite-the-world neocon. He pooh-poohs the border wall, cheers the failure to repeal Obamacare, and rolls his eyes at Trump's tweeting habit. He deplores Trump's bombastic approach to North Korea, though he allows that Trump is at least engaging with the problem — an improvement on Obama, who just ignored it for eight years.
Roberts' closing line, quote:
People you like can do things you don't, but we should remember that vice versa is also true.
End quote. Well, yes, of course. Scripture tells us that "joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance." I don't know that moving from Never Trump to Maybe Trump really counts as repentance, but I'm going to welcome Andrew Roberts on board anyway.
06 — Let's hear the m-word. Yet another set of proposals on immigration this week, this time out of the White House. This of course follows the government shutdown last weekend over congressional Democrats' insistence that any Continuing Resolution of the federal budget be yoked together with amnesty for alien scofflaws.
I predicted, in the run-up to one of the previous budget crises, that the Democrats would realise that shutting down the government on behalf of illegal aliens would not, to put it very mildly, be a winner with the voting public. Obviously I overestimated their intelligence, or the degree to which their obsession with importing Third World coolies as voting-booth fodder has deranged their senses.
So score one for our President, who was thereby emboldened to put forth this new raft of proposals.
I confess I'm losing track of all these proposals. Various organizations, PBS Newshour for example, have posted charts on their websites showing point-by point comparisons of the Gang of Six bill, the Goodlatte bill, the RAISE Act, the Hurd-Aguilar bill, the original DREAM Act, and the President's various proposals. This helps some, but it's still confusing.
This latest one out of the White House is nothing much to please us restrictionists. Yeah, there's funding for the border wall, an end to chain migration, and cancellation of the diversity visa lottery. That's good; but there's also amnesty for two or three million illegals — nobody knows the true number, of course, any more than we did in 1986, and there are big, well-financed interests intent on minimizing it.
I can't improve on the summary by our own Steve Sailer, quote:
Trump is offering a compromise in which the Democrats are being asked to give up some of what they really want — future immigration to tip the country to one-party rule like in California — in order to protect their Alien Minors.
Do these proposals, or any part of them, have a legislative future? The reaction of Democrats to them can only be described as foam-flecked. "Hateful" and "xenophobic," sputtered the American Civil Liberties Union; although I can't see what business it is of theirs, since no civil liberties are in play here … unless you consider the right of foreigners to enter the U.S.A. at will to be a civil liberty, which the ACLU probably does.
Given those reactions, it doesn't seem likely the President's proposals will find any favor with Congress. The boss here, Peter Brimelow, estimates fifty-fifty odds on either a disaster or a deadlock. By "disaster" he means another 1986-style mass amnesty in return for vague promises the promisers have no intention of keeping; by "deadlock," nothing getting done at all and the clock running out on the DACA recipients in March.
Again, though, it's wonderful to see immigration policy in the headlines and being debated so hotly on the TV talking-head shows. This is a great advance, and surely presages something or other being done in the way of patriotic immigration reform before too many more years have passed.
The one word conspicuously missing from all the debate is the m-word: "moratorium." Here I go back to my remarks about zero-based policy-making.
I've mentioned before on Radio Derb the 2008 book on immigration by Marty Schain, Professor of Politics at NYU. It's a comparative study of French, British, and American immigration policy, very handy for the history of the topic.
A couple of years ago I was at an event addressed by Professor Schain. In the Q&A I asked him the following zero-based question: "Why is there immigration? Why do we have it?"
The good professor stared at me blankly, as if I'd spoken in Ancient Sumerian. He continued staring for an uncomfortable few seconds. Then he blinked, shook his head, looked away, and took another question.
Well, why do we have it? What's it for? Do we really need more people? Is there some logical proof that we do, proceeding in properly rigorous Euclidean fashion from indisputable premises?
I'd like to see the issue discussed in those terms — zero-based terms — in some major public forum. We're still a long way yet from that point, though.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Having mentioned Andrew Roberts there, I'll tell you a story about him.
I was once at a dinner where Andrew was also present. One of the other dinner guests invited Andrew to say grace for us before we dined; not a common-or-garden English grace, but the Latin grace said at Caius College, Cambridge, where Andrew was educated. These Latin graces are very long, but Andrew had the whole thing memorized, and rattled it off very convincingly.
If you want to try it, here it is. [Clip: Caius college grace.]
See: At these old colleges, you can work up an appetite just saying grace.
Item: Just returning for a moment to the Larry Nassar molestation case, I'll add a couple of points without elaboration.
First point: Nassar was doing the stuff he was doing for twenty-five years. How'd he get away with it for so long? Part of the answer, I'm sure, is the same as the answer to the same question in the matter of show business sexual harassment.
In both cases there was a thing that the harassees wanted very, very badly — so badly that they, or in the case of younger victims, more likely their parents — might have considered that submitting to harassment or molestation was a price worth paying for that thing. In the showbiz cases the thing wanted was a movie part; in Nassar's case, a shot at competing in the Olympics.
I don't say that's the whole story, and I certainly wouldn't say that all the victims took that cynical view. Twenty-five years of silence needs explaining, though. I've no doubt that's part of the explanation.
Second point: One faction that comes out of these cases smiling, and with pockets stuffed with cash, is the trial lawyers. The classic 1989 Forbes article by Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer is relevant here.
True, Larry Nassar's not a rich man. Michigan State University, his employer, though, has an endowment of three billion dollars. That's quite a honeypot. It would be surprising for the trial lawyers not to have their eyes on it. I note that Lou Ann Simon, the MSU President, resigned on Wednesday.
Again, I'm not saying there's nothing here but a lawyer's ramp. I'm sure Nassar did the things he was charged with doing. I'm only saying that trial lawyers greed is one of the factors driving this feminist hysteria.
Item: In the sex chapter of We Are Doomed I warned readers that if we men don't start asserting ourseves, women will eventually kill, cook, and eat us all. For evidence in support of that prognostication I offer you the Women's Marches that took place across the nation last weekend.
As Nicole Russell observed at the Federalist website, the marches were for left-liberal women only, and most of the themes prominent on the marchers' banners and placards were, quote from Nicole, "openly hostile to the idea of motherhood and fertility," end quote.
It would be interesting to know what proportion of the marchers were lesbians. I'd guess the figure would be at least fifty percent, but nobody seemed to be taking a poll.
Apparently these Women's Marches are to be an annual feature — this is the second. The marches were uniformly and explicitly anti-Trump. The date, January 20th, is the date of President Trump's inauguration.
The thing that struck me, scanning pictures of these marches, was the coarseness and vulgarity on display. The f-word was popular on the marchers' signs and placards; so were drawings of uteruses, fallopian tubes, and so on. There were also of course some pussy hats in evidence. Is this the end point of the sexual revolution: Women parading coarse humor about their own body parts and functions? Yecchh.
Item: The people at Facebook have given us a new unit of time: the flick. A flick is 1.42 nanoseconds. It's relevant, in some way I can't be bothered to understand, to the coding up of computer video games.
This story brought to mind those old jokes about unofficial units of measurement. "Millihelen" is the one best known: that's the unit of feminine beauty sufficient to launch one ship. It refers of course to Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships.
Wikipedia has a whole page of these joke units, most of them not very inspired. They've missed one, too: the ignisecond. That was the time that elapsed between slamming your car door locked and realizing you'd left the key in the ignition — not a thing that happens with cars produced in recent years.
I'd like to suggest a new unit of time at the other end of the scale, a very long timespan. I'll call it the zuck, in honor of open-borders cheap-labor shill Mark Zuckerberg. One zuck is five billion hours: the amount of time wasted worldwide in any given day by people chattering pointlessly on Facebook.
Item: In hopes of warding off accusations that this week's version of the podcast is hostile to women, here is a woman I esteemed and admired beyond measure: the late Margaret Thatcher. Visitors to the Derbyshire homestead are always invited to admire my Margaret Thatcher mug, minted — or whatever the word is for mugs — in 1990 after the lady was pushed out of office by despicable cucks in her own party.
I mention this in part, as I said, as a protective amulet against accusations of misogyny, but also because of a book that's just been published across the pond. The author is Sir Patrick Wright, who was in charge of the British diplomatic service at the end of Mrs Thatcher's Prime Ministership. The book is his diaries from that time.
According to news reports — I haven't read the book — Mrs Thatcher disliked foreigners, especially Germans, wanted to push the Vietnamese boat people back out to sea, favored a white ethnostate in South Africa, and disliked men with moustaches because they, quote, "looked like hairdressers."
As the years pass, Margaret Thatcher only grows in stature.
Item: Finally, some sad news from Brazil. [Clip: "Miss Bumbum acaba em 2018."] Yes folks, this year's Miss Bumbum pageant will be the last.
I'm not too clear why they are shutting down the event. A kind reader in Brazil sent me the news story about it, but it's all written in Portuguese — or, as Barack Obama would say, Brazilian — a language I can't read. I fed the text through Google Translate and got only this, quote:
Despite guaranteeing that this will be the best edition of Miss Butt, Cacau Oliver [that's the impresario who dreamed up the Miss Bumbum pageant] confirms that the dream is nearing its end. [Inner quote.] "This will be the last year. The contest had seven wonderful editions, fulfilling its paper that was to throw names to the stardom."
End inner quote, end quote. Things get even stranger, though. The first competitor for the coveted title of Miss Bumbum 2018 has been announced, and it's a transsexual. This is 27-year-old Paula Oliviera who, and I quote again from Google Translate, "is a dancer and was born in Porto Alegre as Vinícius Oliveira, having undergone the sexual reassignment surgery for 6 years," end quote.
Well, jolly good luck to Paula; although I can't help wondering how, given the basics of human sexual dimorphism, anyone born male could acquire a booty big enough to be competitive in the Miss Bumbum pageant. I don't see how sexual reassignment surgery could broaden the hips sufficiently … but then, I'm not an expert in this zone, and don't want to be.
The fuss in the Brazilian media is not so much over Paula's change of sex as the fact that she, he, or ze was born in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, but will represent a different state in the pageant, Amazonas.
I can't see why this should be controversial. Isn't geography, like sex, just a social construct?
08 — Signoff. That's all for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; and should you be listening from Brazil, or be planning to relocate there, please note that the deadline for registrations in the Miss Bumbum pageant is January 30th, so don't delay!
I haven't played you any opera for a while, so here to see us out, courtesy of a listener who brought it to my attention, is a superb rendition of the closing trio from Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier, sung by Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade, and Renée Fleming.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Kathleen Battle, Frederica von Stade, and Renée Fleming — Der Rosenkavalier, final trio.]