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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 explosively genial host John Derbyshire, podcasting to the world from VDARE.com's sound studio out here in the bosky Long Island suburbs.
Many thanks to listeners who emailed in about last week's podcast. My last item there, about public performers dying while on stage or screen, excited particular interest. I'm not sure why that should be, and hope it has nothing to do with my own performances here …
I shall ponder the topic further, and incorporate as many interesting things as I can find to say about it in my September Diary, due a week on Monday. In the meantime: dum vivimus, vivamus, et podcastamus.
02 — Juicing up the baizuo vote. No need to tell you what this week's headliner has been. As often happens with a weekly commentary, the fuss over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh having copped a feel from a high-school girl 35 or 36 years ago blew up just after last week's Radio Derb went to tape, so most of what can be said about it has been said, and I'm sure you don't want me to say it again.
My own first reaction, when I heard the accuser's account of what happened, was: "They're making a fuss about that?"
We really have bred up a generation of snowflakes; and snowflakery is such an appealing approach to life for some elements of previous generations — in this case, the generation of Kavanaugh and his accuser, which I think classifies as late-Boomer or early-Gen-X — trembling, fearful snowflakery is so appealing to some of these folk, they've retconned their own lives to incorporate it.
I can certainly testify that for my generation, the earliest Boomers, the encounter as alleged would not have moved the needle on anybody's outrage dial. For one thing, a 15-year-old girl attending a house party with no adults present and booze flowing, would have been assumed to be a bit sluttish, so that the normal reserve and respect we accorded to all females would have been diminished somewhat. No, not abandoned, but diminished.
For another thing, I definitely — actually, quite vividly — recall that in my own teen years, my female coevals had sharp little fists that could give you a nasty black eye if you got out of line. Presumably teenage girls suffered some collective atrophy of the muscles in the twenty years between my house-partying and Brett Kavanaugh's, leaving them defenseless against giggling drunk 17-year-old males trying to grope them.
That was my first reaction. My second reaction was that Democrats really know how to play politics, while Republicans really don't.
The Democrats' political aim here is to juice up the baizuo vote. Baizuo is a loan-word from Chinese, literally "white left." It's used by Chinese bloggers to make fun of our Social Justice Warriors, whom they regard with somewhat baffled amusement. Baizuo has two less syllables than "SJW," so I use it in a spirit of syllabic conservation.
Mid-term elections are coming up November 6th, six weeks next Tuesday, and Democrats want to energize their base, the baizuo. The most numerous cohort in the baizuo is women; so what better way to energize them than with a sexual-assault scandal, however minute and implausible? That's really the beginning and end of it; that's what this business is all about.
As I said, though, I'm impressed with the skill of the Democrats here, especially the timing. It's really been pretty darn clever.
The Republicans, contrariwise, reveal themselves once again to be the Hopeless Party. Far from being any good at the political game, they're hardly even bothering to play it. "Well, of course, in all fairness, we have to listen to what she has to say," they are murmuring.
No, actually you don't. An out-of-the-blue accusation with no supporting evidence, timed for maximum disruption, against a man who has already been background-checked up the wazoo? The correct response by the Judiciary Committee would have been: "With all proper respect, Ma'am, if you believe you have been wronged, the law has remedies. By all means go ahead and seek those remedies. Meanwhile, we shall proceed with our hearings, as prescribed by the Constitution."
There is no escaping politics, of course. Still, formal constitutional proceedings should be conducted with a firm dignity and dispatch. They should not allow themselves to be derailed by such transparently political stunts as this one. Does no-one in the Republican Party understand this?
03 — SLOTUS — The Supreme Legislature. Over and above the particular issue of Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, there is a meta-issue. Why are Supreme Court nominations now such central events in our country's political life?
We all know the answer to that. SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States, has become SLOTUS, the Supreme Legislature of the United States. We look to the Supremes to make our laws. The great transformations in our national life these past few decades — the national legalizing of abortion and buggery, racial preferences, public services for illegal aliens, the radical re-definition of marriage — were effected by the Court, not by Congress.
The foremost characteristic of American government in our age is in fact the utter uselessness of Congress. If the U.S. Capitol fell into a vast sinkhole while Congress was in session, would the national life be changed in any way? For the worse, I mean — hey, come on.
The latest estimate I have seen for the money cost of the wars fought by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama is 5.6 trillion dollars. That's a mighty lot of dollars; yet Congress never declared war on anyone, as the Constitution says it should.
Nearly two years ago we elected a president whose signature campaign promise, enjoying very wide public support, was to build a wall along our southern border. Has Congress approved federal funds for that, as the Constitution says they should? Nah. The Senate Majority Leader, stifling a yawn, has said they might do some talking about it after the coming mid-term elections … maybe … possibly … you know, if there's room in the schedule.
I'm reminded of the late Irish comedian Dermot Kelly, when an interviewer asked him whether the Irish language had any expression equivalent to the Mexican Eh, mañana. "Why, to be sure," replied Kelly, "we do have such a term; but it doesn't carry quite the same sense of desperate urgency."
[Added when archiving: I got the wrong Kelly there. The comedian was David Kelly, who played the O'Reilly character in Fawlty Towers.]
Congress is a waste of space. Serious legislating is done by the Supreme Court, by SLOTUS. That's why it's so all-fired important.
Yet this is not what the Founders intended. The September 15th issue of The Economist laid this out in a brilliant and forceful leader.
Yes, yes, I know: The Economist, cucky globalist Trump-hating open-borders flapdoodle … I have made regular contributions to our feature called "Economist Watch" here at VDARE.com, jeering at The Economist. Yes, yes; but stopped clocks and so on — sometimes they get things right, and they got this right. Sample quotes, edited:
The judiciary, wrote Alexander Hamilton in Federalist Paper 78, [inner quote] "may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment … [It] is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power." [End inner quote.] For much of American history, politicians saw the Supreme Court as a backwater. John Rutledge, one of the first justices appointed by George Washington, resigned to become chief justice of South Carolina. Not until 1935 did the court have a building of its own. Today it occupies a central and increasingly untenable position in American life …
End quote. The Economist suggests some sensible reforms, term limits and the like, then concludes with this, quote:
What better way for Americans to start finding a path back towards civil politics than reminding themselves that bipartisan institutional reform remains possible?
End quote. That's very nice and upbeat — very Economist, in fact — but is bipartisan institutional reform possible?
I have this mental image of an automobile that drastically overheated, the pistons welded into the cylinders; and the guy from The Economist pulls over to help, and says: "First thing you need to do is drive it off the road …"
Institutional reform requires Congress to do something. There's your problem right there.
04 — She who must be believed. "The woman must be believed!" the baizuo tell us.
That is pernicious and poisonous, totally contrary to the spirit of objective inquiry and judgment by evidence. There is no-one in the world who must be believed. Human beings say untrue things for all sorts of reasons. We get our memories confused; we invent things then forget they are inventions; we mis-read situations; and yes, we tell deliberate lies from malice.
There is no person we should automatically believe without reservation. There is certainly no entire class of such people. And if there were such a class, it would not be women.
Please, ladies, don't get me wrong here. Of course men tell whoppers too. Whoppers, though, like everything else in creation, can be categorized. There are lies about money; there are lies about sporting attainments; there are lies about one's ancestry or provenance; there are lies told to preserve one's career or social standing. Men are amply represented in all categories, and then some.
Men tell lies about their interactions with women, too, either to other guys as a way to boost their status in their male peer groups, or to women they're cheating on.
Thinking about this just now, though, casting my memory back over a long life and a wide experience of other human beings on three continents, I must say, the first variety there, guys telling boastful lies about their sexual conquests, is less common than you'd think — much less common, I'm sure, than women think. I can recall a few cases, but it's been single digits over several decades. A man's degree of sexual success, or lack thereof, is generally obvious and well-known, whether he says anything about it or not. If you lie about it, people will just laugh at you.
The other style of male lying about sex — lying to women for purposes of cheating — is of course very common. It's characteristically male. Sure, women do it, too, but way less than men, just because:
If there is a distinctly, characteristically male kind of lying about sex, though, is there a correspondingly distinct, characteristic female kind too?
You bet there is. It runs all through human history, literature, and folklore, in all times and places. It's implicit in the words carved deep into the English language 300 years ago by one of our playwrights:
Heav'n has no rage like love to hatred turn'd
The literary tradition goes back a lot further than that, though: three thousand years further, to the story of Potiphar's wife and Joseph in Chapter 39 of the Book of Genesis.
Potiphar was one of Pharaoh's high officials; Joseph ran his household for him. Joseph, the Bible tells us, was "a goodly person, and well favoured," i.e. a hunk. Potiphar's wife begged him to sleep with her, but he wouldn't. Furious at his refusal, she accused him of raping her, and Joseph was sent down on a felony rap.
Here are the relevant Bible verses, quote:
That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice:
End quote. That lifting up of her voice, that cry, echoes down the centuries, doesn't it? … except that it never happened.
Potiphar's wife at least had some physical evidence to support her story. At their last encounter she had grabbed at Joseph's garment, and kept some portion of it after he'd fled. "See? He left this in my bed …"
If you want to draw a line from Potiphar's wife down to the present, look up the Mattress Girl. I was just reading about her in Heather Mac Donald's excellent new book The Diversity Delusion — which you should buy, if you haven't already.
Executive summary: The Mattress Girl, name of Emma Sulkowicz, was a sophomore at Columbia having casual sex with a fellow student six years ago. When the guy lost interest, she peppered him with emails and texts begging to get together again. When he failed to show any further interest in her, she took inspiration from Potiphar's wife and accused him of rape. Columbia investigated and cleared him. Emma spent the rest of the year toting a mattress with her around campus.
Now of course I'm not saying that all women do this, any more than all men cheat. I am saying, though, that this particular style of lying about sex is much more a female thing than a male thing; and that, on the literary and historical evidence, it is not sensationally uncommon.
I am also not saying that Brett Kavanaugh's accuser is pulling this stunt. I am saying that to figure out whether she is or not, there needs to be a close, impartial examination of any evidence anyone can find, if anyone can find any. In fact, as we see from the case of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, even physical evidence can be ambiguous or faked. There needs to be supporting cross-evidence.
Those evidentiary standards are the foundation of our law and civilization. It's astonishing and deeply depressing that a commentator needs to restate them.
"Always believe the woman!" is not a standard at all, just a stupid and barbarous venting of emotion, a primate yelping. It has no place in the public conversation of a civilized people. Those who put it forward should be laughed out of the public square and sent to play with the chimps.
05 — The myth of civilian trauma. Just one more point on the narrative put forward by, and on behalf of, Brett Kavanaugh's accuser.
We are told that she was traumatized by that encounter thirty-odd years ago; that it permanently marked her life, her psyche, her behavior.
This is very improbable. Physicist-turned-geneticist Greg Cochran, who runs one of the best human-science blogs, recently posted about PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll just quote Greg's opening paragraph, quote:
You know, it shouldn't exist. Human history and prehistory is crammed with all kind of mayhem and trauma: infant mortality, infanticide, genocidal fights with neighboring tribes. You routinely lost family and routinely killed enemies. Childbirth hurts a lot. What's the adaptive strategy, in all of these situations? Get over it.
End quote. Greg's saying that from the point of view of evolutionary biology, a predispositon to be permanently psychically disabled by witnessing or inflicting death or by witnessing, inflicting, or suffering pain and violence, would have been a Darwinian negative. That predisposition would have left you less likely to pass on your genes, so it would have faded out from the gene pool.
Greg and his commenters chew over the possibility that there is such a thing as PTSD, but only under conditions of modern war. The new factor here, which our remoter ancestors never had to cope with, has been high explosive, like the endless shelling men were exposed to in WW1. (And no, says Greg, gunpowder doesn't count as high explosive.)
It is plausible that being close to high explosive when it detonates could cause a type of brain damage never before experienced. "Shell shock" is what it was called when it was first noticed in the early 20th century.
That you can suffer permanent trauma from commonplace life events — commonplace, I mean, down back through the deep history of our species — seems to Greg not probable. I think he's right.
In the course of my travels I've known people with truly horrific stories to tell. In Southeast Asia forty-five years ago I knew a Chinese fellow in his sixties, a storekeeper, whose wife had been raped and killed by Japanese soldiers, and their children all killed too. He'd run for his life and nearly starved. After the war he remarried and raised another family. When I knew him he was a cheerful and well-adjusted soul, successful in his small way, popular with his neighbors, fond of a smoke and a glass of beer, but not twitchy or maladjusted in any way I could detect during many hours chatting idly with him. As Greg would say: He'd got over it.
Greg's closing words, edited quote:
Psychology in the 20th century looked for social/environmental causes of mental problems — toilet training, "refrigerator mothers," "absent father/overprotective mother," "double binds." And of other social problems: school could make you smart or dumb, kids were "depraved because they were deprived," blah blah.
End quote. Permanent trauma from a fumbling teenage tit grab 35 years ago? Gimme a break. This is snowflakery gone into orbit.
The law punishes assault, battery, molestation, rape, and homicide. It should; I'm glad it does.
It doesn't punish those things because they leave permanent psychic scars, though. It punishes them because they violate our persons, and advantage the strong over the weak. It punishes them because they are antisocial; you can't have a harmonious society that allows human flourishing if such acts go unpunished. It punishes them because the only known alternative to public justice is private vendetta, which soon metastasizes into Thomas Hobbes' war of all against all.
Is there something in the Kavanaugh case that deserves punishing? I'd say it's highly unlikely, even on the accuser's account. If there is, though, let's prove its existence and punish it. I'm totally on board with that. But please, spare us the vapid psychobabble about "trauma."
06 — Midterms: Another Hutu uprising? It is, as I said, all about goosing up the baizuo vote for the mid-terms.
What can we Trumpists hope for from the mid-terms?
My guess is: not much. Let me come at this indirectly.
It's no news that we are a seriously divided nation. I have referred to our division as the Cold Civil War, and identified the combatants as Goodwhites versus Badwhites, with other races kept on hand as auxiliaries to feed the horses.
Some other commentators, on the same general wavelength as myself, use different terms. The Z-man says "cloud people" and "dirt people," which I like a lot, though of course not as much as my own coinage.
Here's another way of describing the situation. I've lifted it from a post I made here on VDARE.com five and a half years ago. I was quoting a person I know only as Doug, a commenter at EconLog. Long quote:
Let's say you were to immigrate to a new country which is essentially divided between two hostile tribes engaged in perpetual low-intensity warfare. We'll call them Hutus and Tutsis. You have no previous allegiance or affiliation with either tribe.
End long quote.
That, I think, describes today's U.S.A. reasonably well. It was posted, as I said, in February 2013.
Three and a half years later, Donald Trump was elected President. In the terms of Doug's framing, this was a Hutu uprising. Trump's Republican primary opponents were pretty solidly Tutsi. You might make an exception for Ted Cruz, who had some Hutu tendencies; but Trump was the only candidate who was clearly, unashamedly Hutu. Mrs Clinton and her Democrats were of course wall-to-wall Tutsi.
The problem with the mid-terms — the problem, I mean, for us Hutus — is the dearth of Hutu candidates. Trump isn't running for office, and he hasn't succeeded in making the GOP a Hutu party. There is no Hutu Party, although there may be a Hutu candidate here and there running on the GOP ticket.
The Hutu uprising of 2016 got us the White House. Even there, though, it only really got us the Oval Office. The rest of the White House is infested with Tutsis.
So my expectations for November 6th are low. Even if Donald Trump was running for office anywhere, I think a lot of people who voted for him two years ago would stay home. He hasn't done the one big thing he promised to do: secure our borders. We're still fighting pointless, expensive wars; we still belong to pointless, expensive alliances. Congress, for all I can see, pays no attention to the President: it's a House of Tutsis doing their own Tutsi thing.
Tutsis are still in control. They still run the government, universities, the media, the corporations, the churches. The Hutu uprising was fun, but it didn't change anything. What's the point of voting?
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Race realism comes with a price, of course. If you're known to be a race realist — to believe that the human races differ biologically, like dog breeds — you can suffer social ostracism. You may even lose your job.
Race denialism has a price, too, though. Here's a news story from this week that puts an actual dollar value on that price in one instance.
This is from the New York Post, September 19th. Headline: City may have to pay out $1.7B over biased teaching exam.
The city is of course New York. Up to 2004, if you wanted a teaching job in New York City you had to take The Liberal Arts and Sciences Test, eighty multiple-choice questions.
More than 90 percent of whites passed the test, but only fifty to sixty percent of blacks did. For Latinos — which in New York means Puerto Ricans and Dominicans — pass rates were even lower than blacks'.
That's what a race realist would expect. For race denialists, though, it was an outrage. So — Lawsuit!
Suit was filed, a federal judge found for the plaintiffs, and there was a ruling this summer that blacks and Latinos who'd failed the test were entitled to $420,000 per.
Since around 4,000 people are eligible for the payout, there you go: $1.7 billion — the price of race denialism.
Item: Just going back to The Economist for a moment: Last week the magazine held its Open Futures Festival of opinionating here in New York. One much-anticipated event was the face-off between former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Zanny Minton Beddoes, The Economist's Editor-in-chief.
Ms Beddoes came across as an exceptionally unpleasant specimen of Tutsi womanhood: self-righteous, moralizing, gasping and sputtering at Steve's praise for Viktor Orbán and Matteo Salvini.
Steve himself, though, I thought, was a bit lackluster. Here, for example, was the lady preaching about the economic benefits of immigration.
[Clip, Ms Beddoes: "If you look at this country, foreign entrepreneurs create 25 percent of new companies in this country. More than half of America's big tech companies are founded either by immigrants or the children of immigrants … by cutting legal immigration you are cutting a source of growth and prosperity …]
Steve responded with some race-denialist blather about there not being enough black and Latino students in engineering schools.
I would have thrown the lady's moralizing right back in her face.
So, you think it's a right thing to do, a moral thing to do, to go strip-mining the intellectual and entrepreneurial talent from other countries, just to make America richer? You think that's the right way for a country to behave towards other countries? Why shouldn't those entrepreneurs cultivate their own countries, lift up their own countries, and leave us to cultivate ours? By what right do we deprive them of their stock of native talent? …
Jiu-jitsu, Steve. Throw their moralizing cant right back at them. Sure, it's insincere: We couldn't care less what happens to Brazil, or Russia, or Nigeria. It'd get the smug bitch flustered, though.
Item: In last week's podcast I mentioned the fuss over mathematician Ted Hill's paper on the Greater Male Variability Hypothesis — the hypothesis, that is, that on lots of important traits, males vary more than females. There are more males out at the extremes of these traits, both the positive and negative extremes; women are more bunched together around the average.
My pal the Audacious Epigone, one of the best quantitative bloggers in bloggerdom, posted some interesting research he'd done in this area, using data from the General Social Survey.
The usual measure of variability, as I explained last week, is the standard deviation. Smaller standard deviation: the population is more bunched up close to the mean. Bigger standard deviation: It's more spread out, with more individuals in the extremes.
Well, Audacious worked out the actual numbers, the actual standard deviations, for a handful of traits — eight, actually.
For six of those traits, men did indeed show higher standard deviation than women. The six traits were: political orientation, height, educational attainment, certainty of God's nature, intelligence, and wealth. The biggest difference there was for educational attainment, men eleven percent more spread out than women.
For the other two traits, women had higher standard deviation than men. They were: weight, and physical attractiveness. Women are more spread out on those variables; men more bunched around the average.
See, that's why we have the quantitative social sciences: to tell us things we already knew.
08 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for your time and attention: now get out there and rake some leaves.
I have been a bit remiss about marking the WW1 centenary. Let me put that right. Here's a WW1 recruiting song, as incorporated in Richard Attenborough's 1969 movie Oh! What a Lovely War.
That movie was based on Joan Littlewood's 1963 stage production, which I saw as a fresh-faced 18-year-old undergraduate in London. There were actually explosions on stage there. They didn't use real high explosive, though, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't permanently traumatized.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. [Explosion] Heh, made you jump …
[Music clip: From Oh! What a Lovely War, "We Don't Want To Lose You But We Think You Ought To Go."]