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01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your surgically genial host John Derbyshire, here with some highlights and lowdarks from the week's news.
02 — Congress ♥ NATO. As I noted in my December Diary, this year is unusually rich in anniversaries.
Here's one. Seventy years ago this April 4th — which is to say, on April 4th 1949 — the U.S.A. signed the North Atlantic Treaty. That was the beginning of NATO. Eleven other nations joined with us. Since then NATO has grown; it now includes 29 member nations.
Under Article 5 of the treaty, an attack against one is an attack against all. So if, say, Albania, or, say, Montenegro were to be attacked, we'd have to ride to their defense.
What's that you ask? What are our obligations if Albania attacks Montenegro? I have no idea; you'll have to read the fine print.
In 1949 the U.S.A. was the world's greatest industrial and commercial power by far. Western Europe was a heap of smouldering rubble; Eastern Europe had been overrun by Stalin's USSR. The idea of NATO was to deter him from overrunning Western Europe while they recovered from the war.
Here we are seventy years later. Stalin's been dead 66 years; the USSR disintegrated 28 years ago. The nations of Western Europe, if you don't notice a few soft brown spots like, well, Albania and Montenegro, Western Europe is rich and stable. It has three and a half times the population of Russia and a GDP five times as great.
So why do they need us committed to their defense? They don't, of course. If a group of nations that rich and populous, two of them nuclear powers, if they can't arrange their own collective defense, then, as Carson Robison would have said, there's something cockeyed somewhere.
Under the circumstances it's a bit odd that the the ruling class in the U.S.A. has such a fierce determination to keep us in NATO. In mid-January both the House and the Senate considered motions to prevent President Trump's withdrawing us from NATO, as he has muttered about doing.
The Senate's motion was actually a Joint Resolution sponsored by Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia. It was passed and sent to committee.
The House wrote full-dress legislation, the NATO Support Act, sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Panetta, Democrat for California's 20th. That's the lush little coastal area south of San Francisco, median annual income $73,000 against U.S. overall $52,000. Panetta's bill passed the House overwhelmingly on January 22nd, 357 to 22, the 22 all Republicans. It has now been forwarded to the Senate.
So this is what our federal lawmakers have been doing. These are their priorities. Never mind the entire population of Central America decamping to come live in the USA; never mind Portland, Maine filling up with sub-Saharan Africans — did you read about that? — the Number One priority for congresscritters is to stop President Trump withdrawing us from NATO.
So what's the correlation of forces here, and what are the prospects? Next segment.
03 — Another case for Executive action. There may be some Constitutional niceties involved in our pulling out of NATO.
Article II of our Constitution gives the President the power to make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate. Article III puts treaties under the authority of the federal courts. There's nothing specific in the Constitution about the President's power to pull us out of treaties, so of course Constitutional-law blogs are having a field day chewing over the issue.
Here's a positive-sounding quote from one such, quote:
There have been well over 100 treaty terminations and withdrawals during the 20th and early 21st centuries and almost all of them have been carried out unilaterally by presidents. Moreover, almost none of these presidential actions has generated constitutional controversy.
End quote. Yeah, well; I'm willing to bet not one of those hundred and something withdrawals was carried out by a guy named Donald Trump. Actions that previous Presidents were given a pass on are suddenly huge constitutional issues when Trump tries them.
Our current Presidency is special, and everything this President does must be challenged, re-challenged, re-re-challenged, and so on, until everyone gets tired and goes home.
The federal judiciary is stuffed up to the lid with graduates of our far-left law schools. The principle governing Trump's executive actions is: It ain't over until every Hillary-voting federal judge in the fifty states has issued a restraining order.
We shall see. The foremost question is of course not whether the President constitutionally can pull us out of NATO, but whether he has the stones to actually do it, and sufficient attention span to follow through. Only after that will the lefty judges be lining up to scotch it.
In the meantime, just pause to recall the party affiliations on display in those Congressional votes.
Both the House and the Senate sponsors were, as I noted, Democrats. Nowadays I need to be a bit more specific than that: Senator Tim Kaine and Representative Jimmy Panetta are both old Democrats. I don't mean biologically old: Tim Kaine's 60, Jimmy Panetta's only 49. I mean they belong to the old kind of Democrat, the kind currently tormented with existential anxiety as new Democrats out of the diversity pen are storming the party's ramparts.
Kaine and Panetta are both white heterosexual males. They are both Clintonites. Tim Kaine actually ran as Hillary's Vice-Presidential candidate in 2016; Jimmy Panetta is the son of Leon Panetta, Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff. These are old Democrats, legacy Democrats, utterly bereft of diversity, paralyzed like deer in the headlights as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar come barreling down the political highway towards them.
And look at the party split on that House vote to stop Trump pulling us out of NATO. Of members who voted, all 209 Democrats voted aye — that is, to keep us in NATO. Of Republicans, 148 of the 170 voting joined them; that's 71 percent.
It's strange enough that our Congress overwhelmingly supports our membership in an alliance that ceased to have any point a quarter century ago, that costs us seven hundred billion dollars a year, and that commits us to actions which, I'm pretty sure, American voters would by large majorities prefer we not be committed to.
It's double strange that representatives from the Democratic Party are the most fiercely committed of all, voting unanimously to keep us in the fool thing. What happened to the Peacenik faction of the Democratic Party?
And what explains this level of support for NATO? If you ask around among NATO skeptics, as I've been doing, you get four common replies.
I dunno. On number one: If corporate donors really swing that much weight, how did Trump ever get elected?
On number two: There's nothing pro-Israel about NATO. NATO includes Turkey, for example, which is hostile to Israel; and France, Spain, and Greece, who aren't much better-disposed. I guess Europe's closer to Israel than America is, so our having troops in Europe is comforting at some level to some Israelis. From my occasional exchanges with Israelis, though, my impression is they are confident they can look after themselves militarily and couldn't care less about NATO.
On number three: Are there really that many NATO-dependent iron rice bowls in DC? Enough to swing a unanimous vote from House Democrats? Hard to believe.
On number four: Reflex hostility? Really? Including from 71 percent of his own party in the House?
So I guess I'm not understanding the opposition here. It seems to me that this is another case, like birthright citizenship, where the President should just act, and let the judicial, congressional, and constitutional chips fall where they may.
Will Trump do so? I seriously doubt it.
04 — High-trust societies are easy marks. One key aspect of the great American neurosis about race is the taboo on honest talk about the stupendous rates of crime among blacks.
Second to that, I think, is the taboo on honest talk about black corruption. I take the New York Post to read over my breakfast oatmeal, and it's a rare week that goes by without some corruption scandal in the city government, almost invariably involving blacks. This, in a city that's only 25 percent black.
It's the same at the state level, although New York State is only sixteen percent black. There's been a particularly egregious case recently involving a charity called the Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, Inc. — that's state legislators, of course — whose stated mission is to empower, quote, "African American and Latino youth through education and leadership initiatives" by "providing opportunity to higher education," end quote.
An investigation by the Post revealed that in fiscal year ending September 2016 the group raised over half a million dollars from big companies like AT&T and Time Warner Cable. Total amount spent on those scholarships for needy students? Zero. That's from the federal tax filings.
The Post tried to get tax documents for 2016-17, which under federal law should be available. The so-called charity refused to provide them, but the Post is pretty sure that nothing was spent on scholarships that year, either.
If they aren't spending half a million a year on scholarships, what are they spending it on? Partying. They have an annual bash called Caucus Weekend. The one in 2016 laid out $128,000 on "food service," $36,500 on music, $56,494 on "equipment rental," and $6,000 on limos.
No-one who follows events in Africa or the Caribbean, or among blacks in Britain, will register any surprise at stories like that. To be fair to blacks, though, there are nonblack manifestations of the same pathology.
Our own James Fulford posted one at VDARE.com the other day. That story was from the city of Birmingham in England, where recently, to quote James's source, quote: "six [city] councillors were found guilty of running the most corrupt electoral campaign in Britain for well over a hundred years," end quote. I won't read out the full names of all six councillors, I'll just give you their forenames: Shafaq, Shah, Ayaz, Mohammed, Muhammed, and Mohammed. These are Pakistani Muslims.
Northwest Europeans in general, and Anglo-Saxons in particular — all right, if you insist: Anglo-Saxon-Celts — have, over the centuries, developed high-trust societies, in which we can take it for granted that most people will be honest most of the time.
From researches like those of economic historian Gregory Clark you have to suspect that population genetics is in play here; but if it makes you easier in your mind, by all means put the high-trust/low-trust difference down to "culture," while bearing in mind that, to judge from Gregory Clark's work, that culture is awfully sticky from generation to generation.
Genetic or not, the high-trust/low-trust business isn't strictly racial. Those Pakistanis in the Birmingham story are West Asian, not black; and trust varies mightily among European populations. Albanians are European; and with absolutely no offense at all to any listeners of Albanian stock, I'm just recalling that old Albanian recipe that begins with: "First steal two eggs …"
Whatever the underlying causes, there are populations that have, across centuries, accustomed themselves to living in high-trust societies; and there are populations that haven't. Import masses from the second kind into settled populations of the first kind, and you get stories like the two I've given you.
As Lady Ann has said somewhere or other, our society has no immunity, no antibodies, against these low-trust kinds of pathology. We are easy marks.
05 — Asylum for victims of microaggression? If you want further evidence of what easy marks we are to people from low-trust societies, I offer you our asylum and refugee policies.
If you've been following the troubles at our southern border you'll know that asylum is a key issue. Up to a couple of years ago there was a curious difference in news reporting between the U.S.A. and Europe. American news sources referred to people breaking into our country as "illegal immigrants," but in English-language stories from Europe the usual term was "asylum seekers."
I used to wonder about this difference, although I never wondered enough to hunt down the cause. Now I understand it.
The Africans and Middle Easterners breaking into Europe knew that Europe's asylum laws were lax; and they knew that there was much sympathy in Europe for people fleeing the endless wars south and east of the Mediterranean. So they gamed those asylum laws to get residence and welfare.
Because there aren't any actual army-against-army wars going on in Central America, it took the folk down there longer to grasp that U.S. asylum laws are just as flimsy as Europe's. Now they've got it, so now we, too, have "asylum seekers."
Without those wars, though, what are Central Americans seeking asylum from? What constitutes a valid asylum claim? If you're fleeing a war or a pogrom, fair enough; but what else might you be fleeing from to make a valid claim?
Believe it or not there is a school of legal thought that argues you can be fleeing "a culture of machismo." That would get you asylum, say these people.
I don't think that school of thought currently prevails, but it seems to have been in force at the Board of Immigration Appeals from 2014 until Jeff Sessions tightened the rules last year. Jeff Sessions is now gone, alas, and the lawyers are wrangling over the issue.
Given all the administration's backsliding on immigration matters, don't be surprised if that standard comes back, and living in "a culture of machismo" is again grounds for claiming asylum.
Given the state of our national culture, in fact, especially the academic culture from which these lawyers graduate, don't be surprised if, before long, being the victim of a microaggression is grounds for asylum.
06 — Don't learn to code! "Learn to code!" That's become a meme this week, did you know that? A bad meme, so far as Cultural Marxists are concerned.
What's happened is, there was a big bump in layoffs from media companies. CultMarx online websites like BuzzFeed and Huffington Post were especially hard hit. BuzzFeed cut 15 percent of its staff; Verizon Media Group, which owns HuffPost, cut seven percent across the board.
Quote from lefty tech site The Ringer, January 29th, quote:
Beginning Friday [i.e. last Friday, January 25th], Twitter was flooded with messages from freshly laid-off journalists, as well as condolences from their former colleagues.
Well, Newton's Third Law kicked in. There was a reaction to all the weeping and wailing by the laid-off legions. The reaction was coming, of course, from Trumpists and Dissident Right types who think lefty journalists have far too loud a collective voice in our national conversations and are glad to see the volume turned down a bit.
A prominent feature of the reaction was advice to the laid-off journalists to "learn to code" — that is, to train up for productive work as a software developer. It got to be a meme, described on a meme-monitoring website called KnowYourMeme.com as, quote:
An expression used to mock journalists who were laid off from their jobs, encouraging them to learn software development as an alternate career path.
End quote. The phrase "learn to code" was showing up so much on Twitter that Twitter administrators, who of course lean heavily CultMarx, started banning it. Twitter denied there was an overall ban, but they denied it in a lawyerly, convoluted way that left us little the wiser. Controversy rumbles on.
This little spat got my attention because I actually did learn to code, back in 1969. I made a living from coding and managing coders for 32 years. I therefore say the following with some authority: "Learn to code" is lousy advice.
For one thing, coding isn't for everybody. My wife learned to code, and hated it. As soon as she was able to, she found a different line of work. Among the liberal arts and Grievance Studies types who write copy for HuffPost and Buzzfeed, I'd guess very few would enjoy coding or be much good at it.
For another thing, this isn't 1969. Coding is not a promising career path today. If you have considered learning to code, I urge you first to read the ur-document on this topic, posted by the blogger Half Sigma twelve years ago and still up on the internet, title: Why a career in computer programming sucks. "Computer programming" is the old way of saying "coding."
Half Sigma tells you at length, under five headings, why a career in coding sucks. I direct your particular attention to heading number three: "The foreignization of computer programming." Even back then in 2007 American citizens were being driven out of coding work by cheap imported labor.
Writes Half Sigma:
Because there is no reason to think that the trend of foreignization will reverse, this will ensure that the future of the industry will be lower salaries.
End quote. He got that right. Hopes that the Trump administration might reverse the foreignization process died with the President's January 11th tweet promising citizenship to H-1B guest workers. And the corpses of those hopes now dead are being stomped into the mud by Jared Kushner and his best buddies the Koch brothers.
American coders who have been outsourced or laid off by the H-1B racket, many of whom endorsed Trump in 2016 and appeared on the platform at his rallies, are bitterly disappointed in him. They told Breitbart reporter John Binder that they have gone from being star exhibits in the Trump campaign's America First road show to being persona non grata in the White House.
Binder's January 28th report on this closes with the following sentence, quote:
The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.
End quote. That might end up as a suitable epitaph for Trump's Presidency.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: In last week's Radio Derb I had a segment on Smirk-gate, the bogus story about Kentucky schoolboys and an obnoxious aborigine. My segment included these words, quote:
Smirk-gate is already dwindling in the rearview mirror. The nation enters a lull in the storm of outrage, until the next story about heartless, arrogant, privileged white men committing crimes of cruel disrespect against soulful brave people from the Designated Victim classes.
End quote. Well, that didn't take long. This week's outrage was inflicted upon a TV actor named Jussie Smollett, who is black and homosexual and so far as I know unrelated to the 18th-century Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett.
This Smollett claims that in the wee hours of Tuesday morning in Chicago, where he lives, he was assaulted by two white men who knocked him down, kicked him, insulted his blackness and homosexuality — apparently they recognized him from TV — then put a noose around his neck.
You've got to be highly suspicious of all that. The noose is kind of a tell. Nooses are a black obsession; the rest of us go from one year's end to the next without thinking about nooses.
And then there's the business about recognizing him from TV. These assailants must be the only two white men in the U.S.A. who watch the blackety-black show Mr Smollett appears in.
I'll allow, though, that it might have happened, probability in the range two to five percent.
Among those outraged, or believing it prudent to feign outrage, was our President, quote: "That's horrible … there is nothing worse, as far as I am concerned."
Sure, it's pretty bad, if it happened. From a strictly moral point of view, though, is it really worse than taking betrayed American workers under your wing for campaign purposes — people fired and replaced by cheaper indentured foreign labor — and then, once you're reached the White House, kicking them under the bus to please your son-in-law and his billionaire pals?
Is it, Mr President? I'm just asking.
Item: Here's my favorite story about Tobias Smollett — the 18th-century novelist, not the homosexual black guy. I can't remember if I got it from one of his novels, or from some biography of him I read, but it's stuck in my mind.
At one point in his life Smollett was a ship's surgeon with the Royal Navy. For that job, at that time, the job interview proceeded as follows.
Job applicant: "I'd like to sign on as ship's surgeon."
Item: Extremely belated congratulations to Alexander Stoddart, who was appointed to the position of Her Majesty's Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland … in December 2008.
The reason I'm so late with those congratulations is, I've only just learned from a friend that there is such a position as Her Majesty's Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland.
This is one of only two arts positions in the Royal Scottish household, the other one being Her Majesty's Painter and Limner. Current holder of that position is, wait for it … 87-year-old Dame Elizabeth Blackadder.
Don't you sometimes think that the British monarchy and all its ceremonial positions must have been invented by Jonathan Swift one night when he was drunk?
08 — Signoff. That's my contribution to the national conversation this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and welcome to February Fill Dyke.
I have just been idly browsing on the invaluable Daily Mail website a story about the things that particular nations are notable for. Did you know that Cameroon has the most exploding lakes of any country in the world? Something to bring up next time there's a lull in the dinner-table conversation.
That got me thinking about lists of things, of which there is an amazing number on the internet. One of the shorter lists is for pop-music hits with titles in Latin.
Where am I going with this? To my sign-off music, of course.
In my January Diary, now up at VDARE.com, I had occasion to mention the words of Julius Caesar following some battle or other: Veni, vidi, vici — "I came, I saw, I conquered." No sooner had I typed the words than I heard, inside my head but seeming to come across a great distance, the 1950s pop hit of that title by the Gaylords. I of course remember it from the British cover version by Ronnie Hilton; and Ronnie, like the Gaylords, preferred the ecclesiastical pronunciation for Latin.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Ronnie Hilton, "Veni, vidi, vici."]