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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, fife'n'drum version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, ladies and gents. This is your baroquely genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you news and commentary this penultimate week of August 2019.
For listeners who take a keen interest in politics: Get a life, for goodness sake! …
No, wait, sorry, that didn't come out right. Please let me try again.
For listeners who take a keen interest in politics, these few days before Labor Day are fraught with tension.
August is a slack season for politics, with tumbleweed blowing through the halls of Congress as our senators and representatives take their summer recess. Next weekend is Labor Day, and a week on from that, September 9th, the congresscritters reassemble, and the Halls of Uselessness will once again be ringing with the clash of partisan debate.
And then, this year has a number of the form 4N − 1, where N is of course an integer, so next year contains a Presidential election. After their exploratory forays in the spring, followed by regrouping and re-calculating over the summer, surviving Presidential hopefuls will be busily positioning themselves for the February primaries: Iowa on the 3rd of that month, New Hampshire the 11th, Nevada and South Carolina later in the month, all leading up to Super Tuesday, March 3rd.
So we are heading into a tense and busy time in our nation's politics. What are we likely to end up with? Let's take a look.
02 — 2020 prospects: going with my first guess. Back in my June 21st podcast, before the first Democrat candidates' debate, after some careful qualifications about prediction at that stage being a mug's game, I offered my first forecast for 2020. Trump, I said, will lose.
A week later, after the first two candidates' debates, I was feeling a little better, although I still thought that, quote:
It's going to be uphill all the way for [Trump], against massive bias in the media and social media, and his own disappointing failures, especially on immigration.
Three weeks after that, following yet another round of debates, I said I had revised my original estimate of Trump's chances from 60-40 against to an even fifty-fifty.
The reason for my little faint flush of optimism there was of course that the debates had given us a good look at how radically weird, and weirdly radical, most of the Democratic contenders are.
Donald Trump may have some disconcerting eccentricities of speech and behavior, but compared to these clowns, he is Joe Normal. Policy preferences aside, surely no large number of voters want a candidate who's barking crazy; and most of the people on display at those debates were barking crazy.
Now the polls are telling me that my optimism was misplaced. With nothing much of a major negative kind going on — I mean, we're not in a recession or a new war — Trump's poll numbers are dismal.
For Friday, August 16th the Fox News poll has Joe Biden beating Trump by twelve percentage points nationwide, 50 to 38. Joe Biden!
Bernie Sanders beats Trump by nine in that same poll; Elizabeth Warren beats him by seven; Kamala Harris beats him by six.
What looked to me like swivel-eyed lunatics on those debate stages look like acceptable Presidents to 45, 48, fifty percent of voters. Good grief!
I've been a schoolteacher and a college lecturer. I've marked a lot of exam papers — a lot — including many in multiple-choice format. I can tell you, as anyone else with similar experience I'm sure will confirm, a thing you learn from doing that.
What you learn is, that when a student checks one answer on a multiple choice, then goes back, unchecks that one, and checks a different one, his first guess was the correct answer three times out of four. Go with your first guess!
My first guess, back in June, was that Trump will lose next year. I'm sorry to have back-tracked on that, even by such a small amount. Now here I am going back to my first guess: Trump will lose.
03 — 2020 prospects: Trump's uphill battle. It's instructive to remember that in 2016, against a deeply unlikeable candidate, with the media still not quite sure what to make of his candidacy, Trump won election by the merest whisker.
It was in many ways a fluke. Can Trump pull off the same trick in 2020? The odds are all against it.
The media, for one thing — one very big thing — the media have got their act together. They are no longer baffled or amused by Trump: they just hate him, uniformly. He'll be campaigning into a stiff, unrelenting headwind of media negativity.
Remember that the biggest states — California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts — are a foregone conclusion. They will go Democrat.
Then remember that several of Trump's 2016 victories — Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina — were won by the slenderest of margins.
Did I mention Texas just there? Thirty-six Electoral College votes, more than any other state except California. If Texas goes blue, it's bye-bye, Trump. In fact, if Texas goes blue it's bye-bye, GOP.
And of course Texas is going steadily blue, due to the great turn-of-the-century immigration surge from south of the border — all those hard-working, law-abiding folk George W. Bush assured us just wanted to put food on their families. Now they are voters, and their kids are starting to be voters. The August 6th poll in Texas has Biden 51, Trump 49. Hey, thanks, W!
You shouldn't underestimate Trump Disappointment Syndrome, either. Those wafer-thin slivers of victory in key states were made up in part by voters who, while they didn't care for Trump the person, liked the things he said he would do.
Coming up to three years later, he hasn't done them. It's gotten to be a running joke, in fact. Trump is "considering" this; he's "looking at" that; he's "monitoring" this other thing; he has some other thing "under consideration."
Trump actually speaks or tweets out these weasel words, to much derision from people who likely voted for him in 2016.
Just the other day Trump told reporters at the White House that, quote:
We're looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby — congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen … It's frankly ridiculous.
Well, yes indeed, Mr President, it is frankly ridiculous. It was frankly ridiculous when you assumed office in January 2017, though. How long do you need to be "looking at" it?
These asseverations that something or other is being "looked at very seriously" or "considered" or placed "under consideration" have worn mighty thin. When they show up on Twitter they get a chorus of Bronx cheers. Samples, tweeters responding to the birthright citizenship remark:
Quote 1: "DO IT ALREADY"
Quote 2: "yeah, but we've heard this forever"
Quote 3: "Is 'Looking Into It' better than 'Thinking About' or 'Considering It'????"
Quote 4: "Stop looking and end it @realDonaldTrump!"
Quote 5: "Can't wait for him to not do anything about it."
Quote 6: "Odds of action: 0%."
Quote 7: "I won't hold my breath"
Quote 8: "How long has he been staring deeply into it? A year now?"
Quote 9: "Yawn....he looks into a lot of stuff but never does anything"
Quote 10: "I'm sure it is under consideration and will be monitored closely!"
And so on and so on. There's Trump Disappointment Syndrome all over. To a great many of us, it looks as though we voted for President Swamp-Drainer but got President Windbag.
It's not just birthright citizenship, of course. Back in June, June 17th, Trump tweeted that, tweet:
Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.
Here we are nine weeks later. How many millions of illegal aliens have been deported, Mr President? Two millions, is it? Five millions?
Compulsory universal E-verify; tax on remittances; curbs on the "refugee" rackets; the wall; … And it's not just National Question issues he's let us down on. Our troops, tens of thousands of them, are still in South Korea, still in Japan, still in Italy for goodness sake, still in Afghanistan for crying out loud to Heaven!
Yep, I'm saying 2020 is a long shot for Trump. It would still be long, but a bit less long, if he'd make progress — something more substantial than hot air — on the things we voted for back in 2016.
One thing you learn, writing for the public, is that anything whatsoever that you say about the Jews will be seen as virulently antisemitic by somebody, somewhere.
(A friend told me he thought George Orwell had written something similar. I was ready to believe it; it does sound like Orwell; and Orwell made such an impression on me in my formative years, I wouldn't be at all surprised to know I had quoted him unconsciously. However, when I went looking for it in the online Orwell library, I couldn't find it … although I did enjoy re-reading Orwell's 1945 essay on "Antisemitism in Britain," which has quite a good joke at the end.)
This is of course in relation to the tiny fuss about us here at VDARE.com using the word "kritarch" to mean a judge who thinks he's a legislator.
Last week someone in the Justice Department circulated a routine bulletin of news items about immigration. One of the items linked to, or referred to, a VDARE.com post by our own reporter "Federale." That post uses the word "kritarch." Some Justice Department bureaucrat took strong exception, quote:
The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic.
The grounds for "kritarch" being antisemitic are apparently that the Hebrew Bible — and, indeed, also the Christian Bible — includes in its historical section a Book of Judges, dealing with the two centuries between the Israelites' re-entry into Canaan under Moses and Joshua and their turning to kingship under Saul, David, and Solomon. During those centuries the Israelites were led by judges.
"Judges" is a bit of a misnomer: the lead characters in the Book of Judges were tribal leaders combining military, political, and religious functions, with jurisprudence way down the priority list. Everybody's favorite judge is Samson; although I happen to know that our James Fulford prefers Ehud in Chapter 3.
Quote from Paul Johnson's 1987 History of the Jews, quote:
[The Book of Judges] illuminates the essentially democratic and meritocratic nature of Israelite society. It is a book of charismatic heroes, most of whom are low-born, obtaining advancement through their own energy and abilities, which are brought out by divine favour and nomination.
So why anyone should think the word "kritarch" is "deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic" is a bit baffling.
Of course, what suited the Israelites of the later Bronze Age isn't necessarily good for 21st-century Americans, any more than the monarchy that the Israelites took up in their next phase of political development would suit us today.
We can frown at rule by judges just as we can frown at rule by kings and queens without either frown being antisemitic.
For the record, speaking as a firm anti-antisemite and well-wisher of Israel, after twenty years of associating with the VDARE.com people, I don't recall anything I would call antisemitism. Scanning down our list of contributors, I see a fair proportion of Jewish names: Benjamin, Epstein, Gottfried, Horowitz, …
We are immigration-restrictionists, though; and it's a plain fact that in America the other side of that argument — the side of open borders and immigration romanticism — is very disproportionately Jewish, for historical and psychological reasons. In several cases — Michael Bloomberg and Max Boot come to mind — American-Jewish immigration enthusiasm tips over into pro-immigration hysteria.
So we end up butting heads with a lot of influential Jews who are made angry, sometimes apoplectic, by the positions we take … and Derbyshire's First Law inevitably kicks in. Hey ho.
05 — Confronting the yapping street nuisance. Tom Main, a professor of Political Science at City University of New York — and with whom, I should say, I have some slight, and entirely cordial, personal acquaintance via a discussion group we both belong to — Prof. Main had an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times the other day.
Prof. Main, though well-mannered and engaging in person, and a diligent quantitative researcher, is a Goodwhite big-city college humanities academic out of Central Casting: totally committed to the Goodwhite narrative of sinister Badwhites seething with hate, plotting to establish a Fourth Reich of racial oppression and antisemitism, perhaps to annex the Sudetenland and invade Poland … I don't know.
In this op-ed he observes that after the events in Charlottesville two years ago there was a big fall-off in traffic to Badwhite websites like Daily Stormer, Occidental Dissent, American Renaissance, and 8chan. But now, he laments, traffic at such websites has recovered. He has gathered data on visits to ten of what he calls "leading alt-right web magazines," and found that the numbers are, quote, "up by about 47 percent since just before Charlottesville," end quote.
That's an interesting fact. I'd like to see his list of "leading alt-right web magazines"; but Prof. Main is, as I said, a capable researcher, and that 47 percent increase in traffic seems plausible to me on general grounds.
I should warn listeners, in case you go looking for the op-ed, that it's all written in the formulaic diction of Cultural Marxism. In Prof. Main's world Badwhite websites don't report, publish, or post things: they "spew" them. The manifesto of the El Paso murderer was a "screed." And of course, opinions outside the CultMarx narrative are driven by "hate," by hatefully hateful "hate."
He does not tell us that what happened at Charlottesville was an Antifa riot encouraged by politicians and assisted by police, as we have exhaustively documented here at VDARE.com.
His solution to the problem he thinks he has identified is frankly, unblushingly totalitarian. Quote:
Cesspools of hate such as 8chan must be shut down — for good, this time.
The killer phrase there is "such as." You don't have to subscribe to 8chan, whatever it is — I honestly have no idea — to nurse the very strong suspicion that the shutting-down Prof. Main urges would quickly expand to cover all websites not closely compliant with CultMarx dogma, surely including this one.
Prof. Main's op-ed can be assigned to a small but growing genre of commentary fretting that white Americans, especially young white Americans, are showing increasing interest in dissident ideas — ideas that contradict the approved narrative of "privilege," "institutional racism," "toxic masculinity," and such. It is of a piece with David Neiwert's CNN op-ed back in May, which Jared Taylor wrote about very eloquently here at VDARE.com.
What came to my mind when I read Neiwert's op-ed, and then again when I read Tom Main's, was the Hertz-Avis wars of the early 1960s. I'm guessing that I am the only person in America to have reacted in this particular way; I may, indeed, be the only person outside the community of advertising professionals who remembers the Hertz-Avis wars.
Hertz and Avis are of course car-rental companies. Hertz was at that time the Goliath in its field, the giant. "Hertz" and "car rental" went together like "Hoover" and "vacuum cleaner," or "Brinks" and "security truck." Avis was the underdog.
In a brilliant advertising move, Avis's ad agency jiu-jitsued the firm's underdog status, promoting Avis with the slogan: "When you're only No. 2, you try harder." It worked: through the mid-1960s, Avis got fixed in the public mind as the car-rental firm that tried harder, and its market share went from 29 percent to 36 percent.
Hertz for a long time just ignored the Avis promotions. Then, in 1966, they started to fight back. They ran ads with text like, quote: "For years, Avis has been telling you Hertz is No. 1. Now we're going to tell you why." End quote. This was successful; Avis's market share stalled at 35 percent and stayed there.
Why did those op-eds by David Neiwert and Tom Main bring to my mind this little fragment of advertising trade history? Well, because of something I remember reading at the time, an interview with a senior executive at Hertz.
Why, the interviewer asked him, had Hertz stopped just ignoring Avis's jibes and started punching back?
"Well," said the Hertz exec, "it's like this. You're walking down the street minding your business when this noisy little guy starts following you, calling out insults to get your attention. You put up with it for a while, not wanting to cause a street scene; but at last it's too damn annoying; so you stop, turn, and confront the guy."
I think we're seeing something similar today with American whites. After years — decades — of patiently putting up with hearing their race, their families, their ancestors, their civilization belittled and insulted, whites have had enough. Like Hertz in 1966 they are stopping and turning to confront the yapping street nuisance.
It's natural human behavior. Why is anyone surprised?
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: One of our recurring themes here at Radio Derb is the War Against "The." When I have nothing better to do I unleash a tirade against the idea that we are supposed to refer to certain nations using a name beginning with "the": The Czech Republic, The Netherlands, The Ukraine, and, yes indeed, The U.S.A. (which is some kind of fancy name for America). Radio Derb has declared war on the "The."
I am pleased to note that the War Against "The" may soon be getting judicial support here in America. Ohio State University, for reasons I cannot fathom, wants to be known as The Ohio State University. They want this so badly, on August 15th they filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the word "the." In support of the application, the university is offering a brand of clothing — T-shirts, caps, and such — emblazoned with the word "The."
A trademark attorney consulted by CNN believes the application will be rejected, and we must hope he is right. Our nation — that would be America — has enough problems. The last thing we need is a proliferating plague of superfluous definite articles.
Item: The protests in Hong Kong against mainland China imposing its system there have generated demonstrations and counter-demonstrations in Australia and Canada. The ChiComs are of course stirring the pot through their embassies and consulates, with pro-ChiCom demonstrators being paid $100 to attend, according to one Canadian source.
The moral here: If you import great numbers of people from some country with deep internal conflicts, you import those conflicts.
America learned this 150 years ago. Prior to the mid-19th century, immigrants from Ireland were predominantly Protestants from Ulster. Then, in the 1840s, came the Famine Ships, bringing masses of Catholics.
The Protestant Irish were pretty well entrenched by this time in, for example, the power structure of New York City. They held a big parade every year on July 12th to celebrate Protestant victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.
By 1870, though, the Catholic Irish population of New York was big enough and confident enough to challenge the Protestants. The result was the Orange Riots of 1870 and 1871, in which scores of people died. Michael Gordon describes the whole business in his 1993 book The Orange Riots.
Just another one of the consequences of mass immigration.
I am delighted to report that I spoke too soon. Not only is the Miss BumBum Contest alive and well, it has gone international! Up to last year it was held only in Brazil, where it originated. This year, however, it will take place in Mexico City on September 30th, with contestants from around the world.
Representing France, for example, will be the callipygian Rayane Laura Souza, whose qualifications can be inspected at barstoolsports.com. Ms Souza is described as a doctor, and tells us she wants to be the first college graduate to win the Miss BumBum crown. She is also described as "Brazilian born," so I don't quite understand why she's representing France, but I shall try to get to the bottom of it.
Item: Just one more. This is my Headline of the Week, from Breitbart.com, August 18th. Headline: "Woman Sentenced after Pulling Alligator from Pants During Traffic Stop."
That may in fact be my Headline of the Year, we shall see.
This was in Punta Gorda, Florida. The sentence, in case you're wondering, was 24 months probation, 200 hours community service, and a $500 donation to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The lady's pants, by the way, were yoga pants, which I think raises the whole story to another level of weirdness.
07 — Signoff. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for your time and attention.
Time now for some sign-out music. This week I'm going with Pachelbel, whose music you may have heard at the last wedding or funeral you attended.
Professor Robert Greenberg, in his lectures at the Great Courses company, the series titled "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music," is rather unkind about Pachelbel:
[Clip: Prof. Greenberg, "We turn to the ubiquitous Canon in D Major, composed around 1700 by Johann Christof Pachelbel, who lived from 1653 to 1706. For nearly three hundred years Pachelbel's Canon rested in frankly just obscurity, out of sight and out of mind. Then suddenly in the 1970s up it bobbed. It was arranged for strings and became overnight everybody's favorite easy listening classical music. I will tell you that my flute-player wife, who had to play this thing at countless weddings, still refers to it as 'Taco Bell's Canon.'"]
I do see the point Prof. Greenberg is making about baroque instrumental music, which, yes, sometimes sounds as though you could cut it off and sell it by the yard. At the same time, I share the general post-1970 enthusiasm for Pachelbel's Canon. I think it's lovely. This probably says something unflattering about my taste in music, but I don't care.
Here's a version performed on actual baroque instruments by the San Francisco Early Music Ensemble. You can sneer along with Prof. Greenberg if you like, or you can swoon along with me. It's totally your choice.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: San Francisco Early Music Ensemble Voices of Music playing Pachelbel's Canon in D Major.]