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—————————[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, dobro guitar version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners, from your jauntily genial host John Derbyshire.
Before we begin, a couple of follow-ups from last week's podcast, which brought in an unusually heavy email bag.
First, a friend in Israel takes issue with my saying that American-Jewish immigration romantics like Max Boot, John Podhoretz, David Brooks, Bret Stephens, and Michelle Goldberg only object to goy nationalism while not minding Israeli nationalism.
Au contraire, says my friend: Bret Stephens, for one, recently wrote a piece defending Israel in which he felt compelled to point out that one of his few criticisms of that country was that it is trying to stop illegal immigration and deport the illegals.
This same friend also tells me that when, in an exchange with John Podhoretz, he criticized Israel's government from the right, J-Pod threw one of his hysterical tantrums. These guys' globalist, open-borders ideology, he says, trumps everything at last.
Second, a listener thanked me for signing off with the Polish national anthem, but observed that the lyrics are even more fiercely nationalist than they sound if you don't know Polish. They were written after 1797 when Poland had ceased to exist, being partitioned up among its neighbors Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Sample translation:
Poland has not yet perished,
Now that's the nationalist spirit! Best wishes once again to the Poles and Poland for their next century of independence.
Okay, let's see what's in the news.
02 — Re-Obamaizing refugee admissions. It's getting more and more difficult to maintain any enthusiasm for the Donald Trump Presidency.
Here's a news item from last week. To introduce it, I'm afraid I have to dumpster-dive deep into the federal bureaucracy. Here we go.
The federal government has of course a State Department. Within the State Department is a Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, PRM for short, with a staff of 130. PRM is divided into nine offices — you keeping up with me here? — one of which is the Office of Refugee Admissions.
This office, which oversees admission of refugees to the U.S.A., has a chief. As of November 19th, the chief will be Larry Bartlett … who was removed from that very same position last December.
Nobody at the State Department, then under Rex Tillerson, vouchsafed to us the reason for dismissing Bartlett in December. The universal assumption was that it was a part of moving Obama's people out and Trump's people in.
Certainly Larry Bartlett was one of Obama's people. He'd run the office under Obama for six years and ushered in tens of thousand of foreign refugees every year — most of them of course bogus, as Ann Corcoran has been doggedly documenting over at Refugee Resettlement Watch.
As Ann tweeted following Bartlett's re-appointment: Personnel is policy. So why is an Obama hardliner back in charge of refugee policy? The only way to make sense of this is to suppose that the President is (a) not very attentive to National Question issues, and (b) an easy mark for Deep State bureaucratic manipulators.
PRM has only existed since 1980. The Republic got along for two hundred years without it. A President as bold as we all supposed Trump was going to be, would just have abolished the fool thing and left those 130 paper-pushers to find work in the productive economy.
Instead, as of last week PRM has been re-Obama-ized. With Larry Bartlett back in charge, the Office of Refugee Admissions will probably be hiring more staff to handle the increased caseload. If you're out of a job, keen to get those federal job benefits, and good at pushing paper, time to get your application in.
03 — The A to Z of Trump's first two years. I opened with that fairly minor instance of Presidential insouciance regarding National Question issues to make the point, yet again, how disappointing this administration has been for those of us who engage with those issues.
Trump just doesn't seem inclined to do anything much. Where, to bring up another example, is the executive order on birthright citizenship Trump offered us in the run-up to the mid-term elections? How long would it take the President to sign an executive order?
Sure, we all understand that the federal judiciary would immediately stamp all over the order, howling with malicious glee as they ban its application. Battle would have been joined, though. Lindsey Graham has a bill ready to go, so the fight could move to Congress. We might get to hear the thing debated by our elected representatives — see where they stand and what arguments they can put forth.
That's how things are supposed to work in our system. If the President does nothing, though, then nothing's going to happen.
It is of course the same with the border wall we were promised two years ago, that Mexico was going to pay for. Whether Trump could just, as Commander-in-Chief, direct our military to build a wall is debatable. Ann Coulter, who knows a great deal more about constitutional law than I do, says he can; others disagree. Again, though, if you don't fight, you won't win.
And getting Mexico to pay for the wall is a lot easier than building the wall: we just need to tax remittances. Why won't the President act on this? As with the birthright citizenship order, the most plausible explanation is: He can't be bothered.
I get the impression that Ann Coulter, like me, is holding on to hope in the Trump Presidency by her fingernails — which are, to be sure, considerably longer than mine. She still posts regular tweets logging progress on construction of the border wall, tweet: "Today's BORDER WALL CONSTRUCTION UPDATE: Miles completed yesterday — Zero; Miles completed since Inauguration — Zero." End tweet.
Ann is in fact at one of the extremes of my mood swings on the Trump Presidency. She's at the "A" end, the end where we cling to hope. The other end, the total-despair end, is of course the "Z" end, represented by the Dissident Right blogger who goes by the handle Z-man. That's the range, A to Z.
I got in trouble with some readers back in March for quoting the Z-man's judgment that Trump is, quote, "just a stupid bullshitter who got very lucky." In the long dark watches of the night, though, I wonder if perhaps the Z-man was right. Perhaps we — those of us who toil in the National Question vineyards — were just conned by an empty suit who has no real interest in issues that are critical to our country's future.
That's the range of my disappointment with Trump: from A to Z, from Lady Ann at the clinging-to-hope end to the Z-man at the lucky-bullshitter end.
04 — Would Hillary have built the wall? When I get to this point in a private conversation with fellow spirits, someone always says: "Well, hey, at least Hillary's not in the White House. We dodged that bullet, didn't we?
Did we? I'm inclined to believe we did; but the contrary is not totally unthinkable.
Hillary was one of three left-liberals interviewed by the far-left British newspaper The Guardian this week, in a series the paper is doing on present-day populism. The other two were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Italian ditto Matteo Renzi.
In her interview with The Guardian Hillary said the following thing, edited quote:
I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the [populist] flame. I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message — "we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support" —because if we don't deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic.
End quote. She added, in reference to Britain's 2016 vote to leave the European Union, that Brexit, quote, "was largely about immigration," a point pollsters have found to be true, but which is still unmentionable in polite circles in Britain.
Hillary's observations were all dressed up with self-justifying squid ink about the stupidity of populists and the threat of authoritarianism; but through all that you can see clearly that National-Question-wise, she gets it. Huge swathes of Western electorates are fed up with mass immigration. She understands that.
That got me wondering if perhaps a Hillary administration might have done a Nixon-to-China on immigration — stealing Trump's nationalist clothes, such as they are. Stranger things have happened in politics.
Mrs Clinton has the advantage of being perfectly without scruples. If anyone on the liberal left could have performed that particular cartwheel, Hillary could have. Heck, she might have built a wall!
05 — The judicial independence hoax. Well, it's always fun to play around with alternative history. I know what you're going to tell me, though: "Sure," you want to say, "but at least with Trump we get conservative judges on the Supreme Court."
Yes, I'll concede that; although given the tendency of Supreme Court justices to drift leftwards, I'd discount it somewhat.
Even when conservative-inclined Justices don't drift leftwards, they are creatures of the zeitgeist, steeped in Ivy League establishment cuckery.
We got an instant of that this week when Chief Justice John Roberts scolded the President for expressing his — the President's — irritation at his initiatives constantly being blocked by leftist judges. Honked Roberts, honk:
We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.
Yeah, right! What a dumb thing for a supposedly smart jurist to say! Dumb, and historically illiterate. Of course Presidents try to stuff the federal courts with judges whose political views correspond to their own. If this is not the case, why all the fuss about the appointment of Justice Kavanaugh?
Why, on any kind of contentious cultural issue before the Supreme Court, why can we predict with high probability that Justices Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will come down on one side, while Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan will come down on the other?
That federal judges operate in some aery realm of pure intellectual abstraction far above the petty political squabbles of the day is a childish fantasy. Jurisprudence is not mathematics. Some judges think that two plus two makes four; others think the answer is five. They vote their prejudices.
And, as Senator Chuck Grassley reminded us, Justice Roberts had nothing to say in public when Barack Obama attacked Justice Samuel Alito in his State of the Union speech eight years ago.
Of course he didn't. Like any other upper-middle-class mediocrity of his generation, Roberts is fully invested in the sacralization of blacks. To talk back to a black President would have been blasphemy.
06 — Inflaming the non-flammable. President Trump's irritation with the federal judiciary is surely justified. Observers much less flammable than our President are being driven to frustration by judicial overreach.
Here's one of the least flammable people I know: Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies. You may have seen her on Tucker Carlson's show.
Jessica is not flammable at all. She is always calm and collected, soft-spoken and erudite. You can't imagine her losing her temper. Yet even Jessica was driven to sarcasm on Tuesday this week by judicial overreach.
The topic here is H-1B guest-worker visas, which are a way for big corporations to replace well-paid American workers, typically software developers, with cheap indentured labor from abroad, especially India.
Big corporations of course love H-1Bs. Since Trump came in, however, companies' applications to bring in H-1B guest workers have been scrutinized by USCIS — that's Customs and Immigration Services — much more rigorously than ever before. Many applications have been denied, many more than under previous administrations.
The corporations, indignant at being denied their supply of cheap labor, have begun suing USCIS over these denials. Honda, for example, had an H-1B from India working for them. They applied for his visa to be extended for another term. USCIS denied the application. Honda has appealed the denial. Pending the result of this appeal, the worker should, by the rules, have had to return to India.
At this point the federal courts got involved. Monday this week a District of Columbia federal judge quashed the USCIS denial. The worker can stay and work here lawfully, said the judge, while the appeal goes through. I guess this judge is going to issue the guy some special kind of visa he's written out himself on his legal notepad.
That's what inflamed gentle Jessica. Tweet from her on Tuesday:
Now federal judges are getting involved in H-1B visa petition denials. Why don't we just swear them in as benefits adjudicators and consular officers, and while they're at it, they can decide what I have for dinner too.
End tweet. By Jessica's restrained standards, that's practically a screaming fit.
The President's right. The federal judiciary is out of control. If any of them are listening, my choice for dinner is the lobster bisque, but of course I will bow to their wiser judgment.
07 — The progressive synopticon. Essay of the week for my money was Victor Davis Hanson's offering at American Greatness on Sunday, title "The Progressive Synopticon."
Just to get the word "synopticon" out of the way first. I think the opposite word, "panopticon," is better known. A panopticon was a structure — a prison or an asylum — so designed that one person could watch many.
The cells of a prison, for example, could be arranged in a big circle, so that a prison guard from his office at the center of the circle could look out and see what every prisoner was doing in his cell. He couldn't watch all of them all the time, of course; but every prisoner knew that he might be being watched at any time, and that was a restraint on his misbehaving.
The telescreens in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four were a panopticon. I've used the word here at Radio Derb in reference to the way the ChiComs watch their citizens.
That's a panopticon: one person, or a small group, watching many.
A syn-opticon is the opposite thing: the many watching the few. That gets us back to Victor Davis Hanson's Sunday article, "The Progressive Synopticon."
That, says VDH, is what we are living in: a progressive synopticon. Sample quote:
Conservatives have lost entirely the culture and establishment wars. The result is that they are besieged by a circle of hostile progressive, but quite establishment institutions that are relentless.
End quote. This is one of the most relentlessly pessimistic pieces I've read for a long time, so naturally I enjoyed it very much. VDH shows us the synopticon in all its aspects: the media, the internet, the corporations, pop culture, sports, Hollywood, the schools, the foundations, … There is no escape!
When I published my book We Are Doomed, my friend Paul Gottfried said the publisher should include a free razor blade with every copy so the purchaser could slit his wrists after reading it. I felt the same way about VDH's essay.
Professor Hanson is a curious study. He's not really Dissident Right; more of what the Z-man calls an "edgitarian." That is, he goes right up to the edge of what it's acceptable to say in public, then stops. His 2003 book Mexifornia was a surprisingly frank blast against mass immigration from Mexico, published when any critical discussion of immigration was out of court.
Ten years later — so this is 2013, just a few months after National Review dropped me and Bob Weissberg for speaking frankly about race — VDH published a piece at the National Review Online website under the title "Facing Facts about Race," some parts of which read eerily like the article I had been dropped for writing.
VDH told us, for example, that his Dad had warned him, quote: "When you go to San Francisco, be careful if a group of black youths approaches you." End quote. After some life experiences, wrote VDH, quote again, "I offered a similar lecture to my own son," end quote.
The piece didn't cross the line into biological race realism — VDH has no discernible interest in the human sciences, or any other sciences — but it was remarkably frank none the less.
Here at VDARE.com we wondered aloud whether VDH would get Derbyshired.
He didn't, of course. He still writes for National Review. Based on the unrelenting pessimism of last Sunday's "synopticon" piece, though, I'll be watching his future development with interest.
08 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: That was an odd little story about the young Vancouver guy who was killed by the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island in the Indian Ocean.
The guy's name was John Allen Chau. Given that he came from heavily-Chinese Vancouver, and that his surname is not spelled in the mainland pinyin style, I assume his family is from Hong Kong or Taiwan. He was a graduate of Oral Roberts university, and apparently a strong Christian, who conceived the idea of bringing the Bible to the North Sentinelese.
That would have been quite a challenge. The North Sentinelese are one of the last uncontacted hunter-gatherer peoples in the world. Their island technically belongs to India, but the Indian government forbids outsiders to land there, knowing that the islanders might easily be wiped out by diseases they have no immunity to.
The North Sentinelese anyway defend their isolation very vigorously. They are, you might say, the ultimate nativists, totally hostile to outsiders. After the tsunami of 2004 the Indian government sent a helicopter to see if they were OK. The North Sentinelese shot at it with bows and arrows.
There won't be any prosecution for Chau's murder. Instead, seven people from nearby islands who helped Chau get there have been arrested. It's not clear whether the authorities will recover his body, assuming it hasn't been eaten.
Isn't China supposed to be a communist country, founded on Marxist-Leninism? Shouldn't the ChiCom rulers be encouraging their young intellectuals to read Marx?
Eh, not without guidance. Sacred texts are dangerous things. There have been periods in the history of Christianity when lay people were discouraged from reading the Bible. There were excellent reasons for this in societies like those of medieval Europe, always hovering on the edge of disorder, with no police or standing armies. Some literate layman would read the Bible, draw his own conclusions from it — conclusions different to those preached by the clergy — then go out street-preaching and raise a mob, next thing you know they're storming the bishop's palace.
The current ruling class in China are about as far removed from orthodox Marxism as the Borgia Popes were from Jesus of Nazareth's teachings. They hold the power, though, and they have no intention of giving it up. Marxism is what they inherited, so they'll go on promoting it — in their version.
The Chinese anyway are hopeless at ideology. As I noted when reviewing Paul Midler's book about China earlier this year, quote from me: "Maoism was a cheap Chinese knock-off of Marxism-Leninism." The latest version, Xi Jinping Thought, is even shallower and flimsier: I refer you to the article about it in the November 10th Economist.
Item: The word "snowflake" is way overdue for retirement as a way of scoffing at the exquisite sensitivity, the gleeful eagerness to take offense, that is smothering all humor and good sense in our society. It's hard to keep it out of mind, though, when you read the news.
In the Mississippi run-off Senatorial election, incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith praised one of her supporters, saying, quote: "If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row."
This is Mississippi, where they used to lynch people. Sure, they lynched whites as well as blacks, but you're not supposed to remember that. Hyde-Smith's opponent Mike Espy says he's black, though he looks to me no more than an octoroon, if that. Never mind; snowflakes are melting all over Mississippi.
It's the same in Britain. In the House of Commons over there, a Labor MP was giving a speech when a member on the other side of the House interrupted her in a tiresome way. The Labor MP's colleague, seated behind her, mocked the interrupter by making a gun with his fingers, sticking it in his mouth, and simulating suicide. Shock! Horror! Snowflakes melting from Cornwall to Caithness!
I didn't even get the reason for the outrage here. Apparently the gesture was disrespectful to suicide victims, though I shouldn't think they're in any position to take offense; or perhaps to failed suicides, or relatives of suicides, or some damn thing.
The outrage makes even less sense in Britain, where handguns are well-nigh unavailable, than it would here. With no handguns, and very tight rules on prescription medications, suicides in Britain are limited to the rope, the razor blade, the swan dive off London Bridge, or the Anna Karenina at Paddington Station.
Just one more of these, also from Britain. There is a village in the southwest of England named Wool, W-O-O-L. That's its name. That's been its name for a thousand years.
Well, the animal-rights group PETA has written to the Parish Council of Wool complaining that the name is unkind to sheep. They've suggested the village change its name to Vegan Wool. No kidding.
Snowflakes. If you're not looking for something to be offended about, you're not fully participating in modern society.
Item: Here's my choice of Headline of the Week, from — where else? — the Daily Mail Online. I offer it to you without comment, except to note that the pounds here are pounds sterling, units of currency. The Daily Mail is a British paper.
09 — Signoff. That's all for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening. I hope you all enjoyed the holiday, and offered up appropriate thanks to be living among the peace and plenty that we all too often take for granted.
In last week's podcast I retailed a rumor that the Miss BumBum Pageant, which has now ended its run in Brazil, might relocate to Britain. If they do so, I suggested, an ideal theme tune for the relocated Pageant would be The Londonderry Air.
A listener pointed out to me that perhaps an even more suitable theme tune for the Pageant would be that 1950s classic "Mister Sandman." I do see his point, and am very much obliged to him for bringing it to my attention; and, bringing the song up on YouTube, I liked it so much I shall sign off with it.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: The Chordettes, "Mister Sandman."]