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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air, with our first podcast of the new decade. Greetings to all from your realistically genial host John Derbyshire.
The end of the holiday season is in sight, says your host with no small measure of relief. The season goes on a bit longer than usual in the Derb household. After New Year there is January 5th, our daughter's birthday, then Chinese New Year, which this year falls early: January 25th. It will be the year of the rat, in case you're wondering. After that it's a pretty clear run through to July Fourth, unless people remember my own birthday in June, which on the whole I'd rather they didn't.
OK; what's the mood this first week of the Twenties? My own mood is of deep TDS. That's Trump Disappointment Syndrome. Permit me to expatiate on that.
02 — Latest moves in the Great Game. As a member of Donald Trump's voter base in 2016, I was hoping for two things from him: one, an overhaul of our immigration system to favor ordinary Americans, not foreigners and billionaires as is currently the case; and two, an end to the imperialist world-saving expeditions of the Clinton, Bush and Obama years.
The past three years have seen some small hopeful movements on the first item: Some improved border fencing, as I have been dutifully reporting, some associated leaning on Mexico to co-operate in controlling the flux from Central America, some slight trimming of our extravagant guest-worker programs, … I'll have more to say later.
We're still playing world-saver, though, instead of minding our business as a commercial republic, as the Founders intended and as most Americans would prefer. NATO is still going strong, ready to repel the Soviet tanks as they storm through the Fulda Gap. We are still committed to the defense of South Korea against an adversary with a population half the South's and a GDP one-fiftieth.
And of course we're still in the damn stinking filthy wretched worthless Middle East, as if their endless tribal bickering was any of our business. Speaking of a similarly messed-up region 140 years ago, Otto von Bismarck opined that, quote: "The Balkans are not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier." I feel the same way about the Middle East, though with G.I.s in mind, not Pomeranian grenadiers. Where the heck is Pomerania, anyway? Never mind.
We've all heard about the latest eruption over there. A mob under Iranian direction stormed our embassy in Iraq, in retaliation for something we did to them, which was in retaliation for something they did to us, which was in retaliation for something we did to them, which was in retaliation for something they did to us, which … [Audio speeding up to repetitive gabble.]
If you follow that chain of causation back far enough you come to George W. Bush's destruction of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, which the cretins in charge of our government imagined would usher in a cordial Jeffersonian democracy there. What it actually did was hand over Iraq to Iran, strengthening the Shia side of the Sunni-Shia regional divide and firing up the resentment of the dispossessed Sunnis.
I'll admit I did not foresee this at the time, not knowing or caring a damn about Iraq. Much more to the point, apparently none of our highly-paid career foreign-policy and military strategists foresaw it either. No wonder Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bolton, and the rest have since been total outcasts from society, forced to live in camouflaged huts in the remote mountain West for fear of assaults from outraged citizens. [Laughter.]
So here we are as at Friday afternoon, playing chicken with Iran. If you want to read a thoughtful, well-informed analysis of the situation, I recommend David Goldman's column over at Asia Times.
David's writing from the Great Game point of view, sample quote:
After 5,000 dead, 50,000 wounded and trillions of dollars in expenditures in Iraq, the US had succeeded in turning a former counterweight to Iranian ambitions into an Iranian satrapy. The embassy attack was intended by Iran as a public act of ritual humiliation, and the United States had no choice but to respond.
Fair enough, if you think we have to keep playing the Great Game. My own preference would be to tip over the chessboard and walk away. Three years ago I would have called that a Trumpian move. Now I am wiser. Trump doesn't have that kind of audacity. Nor any other kind, really. He's just another damn Republican …
Trump Disappointment Syndrome … where did I put my medication?
We lost 17 servicemen to enemy action in Afghanistan last year, 14 Army and three Marines. For the previous four years, working back from 2018 to 2015, the numbers were 13, 11, 9, 10. Seventeen is nearly double nine, so you could re-phrase the data as: Our Afghanistan combat deaths in Donald Trump's third year were almost twice what they were in Barack Obama's last year.
Of the Army fatalities, three were paratroopers, like my son. Junior left the service when his four-year term was up in 2017, without having been deployed. If he'd re-enlisted, he'd have been in Afghanistan last year with those other paratroopers.
What's keeping us in Afghanistan? What's in it for the Deep State types? When I ask that about Iraq or Syria, friends and colleagues tell me it's all the Israeli and Saudi money sloshing around in Washington, D.C. No doubt that's something to do with it; but what do the Israelis and the Saudis care about Afghanistan? What does anyone care about the damn place?
Normally at this point I'd launch into a rant about the criminal folly of our Afghanistan policy. I have to confess, though, that on this topic, after so many years, I'm all ranted out. I refer you to my December 13th coverage of the SIGAR report, which I concluded by calling for public hangings of those responsible for our Afghanistan policy.
My opinions since then have changed slightly. I'm now against public hangings. Instead, I want these people publicly boiled alive.
04 — Eternal recurrence in legal immigration. Here's an immigration-related headline. This one's from Axios.com, December 29th, headline: U.S. companies are forcing workers to train their own foreign replacements.
Whoa, hold on … Did I check the year on that? Was that really December 29th 2019? Yes, it was. Wasn't this an issue back in the 2016 election? Yes, it was. Didn't candidate Trump promise to address it? Yes, he did.
[Clip: It's very bad for our workers, and it's unfair for our workers, and we should end it. Very importantly: The Disney workers endorsed me, as you probably read. And I got a full endorsement, because they're the ones that said — and they had a news conference — they said, "He's the only one that's going to be able to fix it, because it is a mess" …]
That was a GOP candidates' debate in March of 2016, close to four years ago. The villain in today's story is not Disney, it's AT&T. Quote from the Axios report:
AT&T is poised to send thousands into the new year hunting for new jobs after assigning them to train their own foreign replacements, according to conversations with current and former workers and documents obtained by Axios.
On the issue of mega-corporations using guest-worker visas to bring in cheap foreign labor, replacing American workers, the phrase "eternal recurrence" keeps bobbing up in my mind. It's like the war in Afghanistan. I can look back at commentary from five, ten, fifteen years ago; nothing's changed.
On this one, in fact, things may be about to get worse. VDARE.com's Washington Watcher tells us that Senate Bill 386, full title the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, may pass the Senate by unanimous consent next week, without any public hearings. This is the bill that, to put it in a nutshell, fudges up the difference between a temporary guest-worker visa, like the notorious H-1B, and a permanent residence "green card." The effect of passing S386 will be, to quote Washington Watcher:
The new bill increases the immigrant impact by no longer forcing guest workers to leave. Now an American has to compete with low-paid guest workers who can stay for as long as it takes to obtain a green card.
As I mentioned earlier, there has been some trimming of the number of H-1B approvals. Put that together with this S386 green-card handout, the administration is giving with one hand while taking away with the other. Not what we voted for on immigration, not at all.
And still, nothing, no action at all, on birthright citizenship, E-Verify, visa overstays, chain migration, the green card lottery, or the uniquely horrible CPT and OPT programs — that's Curricular Practical Training and Optional Practical Training, basically back doors from student visas, of which we issue far too many, to H-1Bs. I call them uniquely horrible because they not only help to displace American workers, they also shovel funds into the higher education rackets that are already bloated with cash.
We need a bold Chief Executive who will take a flamethrower to the whole rotten, corrupt system of legal immigration — while simultaneously, of course, dealing with illegal immigration by strict enforcement of the people's laws. If only we could get someone like that in the White House.
05 — Bail is unfair! There's a big nationwide trend of easing up on people who've been arrested for the lesser kinds of crime — easing up on them in the early stages of the criminal-justice process, that is.
A reminder of those early stages, ignoring some slight variations state to state.
At a wrong-doer's first encounter with the police, one of two things happens: either, (a) for the most minor offenses, he's given a written citation — a signed promise to appear in court when summoned — then let go, or, (b) for something more serious, he's taken to the station house for booking, where cops take his picture and prints, look him up on their computer, go through his pockets, then lock him in a cell.
Then comes a bail hearing. The decision to be made here, by a judge, is: Should the guy be let go, on his own recognizance, with a promise to appear at court when summoned; or should he only be let go after depositing a sum of money, that sum to be forfeit if he doesn't show up at court; or should he not be let go at all, but returned to the cells until his court date?
That court date, the one we're all hoping the guy shows up for, is his arraignment, the first episode of the courtroom drama to decide guilty or innocent.
Those are the early stages of the criminal-justice process. The easing-up trend is mostly on the bail hearing. My own state of New York passed a law last year, taking effect this week, to abolish bail altogether for misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. In anticipation of the new rules taking effect, local judges have been letting people go free who would formerly have been required to post bail.
This has led to a rash of lurid stories in local tabloids about perps who are obviously crazy dangerous but were set free at their bail hearings. Steven Haynes, who sucker-punched a cop and wrestled him to the ground last Thursday was back on the street Friday, notwithstanding a felony assault charge and 24 prior arrests.
The poster gal here though is 30-year-old Tiffany Harris. Ms Harris slapped three Orthodox Jewish women in the street last Friday while yelling antisemitic obscenities at them. She was arrested and booked, but set free at her bail hearing Saturday. Sunday she ambushed another Jewish woman out walking with her 3-year-old and a baby. Ms Harris punched this woman in the face. Monday she was set free again, with instructions to report to a social worker. Ms Harris did report to the social worker … and promptly assaulted her. She is now being held for psychiatric evaluation.
Superficially, there is a case for dropping bail requirements. If you're rich, bail is not a problem; if you're poor, it may be. In practice, though, bail is not often arduous, and there are bail bondsmen to help you out. Also, as Seth Barron has pointed out, quote from him:
Advocates describe a picture of hopelessly poor families, unable to scrape together a few hundred dollars to get their loved ones out of [jail]. They don't talk about families tired of dealing with relatives perennially in trouble with the law; some may decide that they'd rather see the troublesome relation stay in jail.
A big element of what's going on with these reforms is white race guilt. Here are two Assistant District Attorneys in Chapter Five of Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, quote:
Every assistant D.A. in the Bronx, from the youngest Italian just out of St. John's Law School to the oldest Irish bureau chief … shared Captain Ahab's mania for the Great White Defendant. For a start, it was not pleasant to go through life telling yourself, "What I do for a living is, I pack blacks and Latins off to jail." Kramer had been raised as a liberal. In Jewish families like his, liberalism came with the Similac and the Mott's apple juice … And even the Italians … and the Irish … who were not exactly burdened with liberalism by their parents, couldn't help but be affected by the mental atmosphere of the law schools, where, for one thing, there were so many Jewish faculty members … So it made the boys uneasy, this eternal prosecution of the blacks and Latins.
I think some of that uneasiness has crept into these new rules for bail. Both the people mentioned above, Steven Haynes and Tiffany Harris, are black. These new rules are part of the never-ending quest for some kind of unfairness causing the massive disproportion of blacks, and the somewhat lesser disproportion of Latinos, in our jails.
It can't possibly be that there is something intrinsically different about these groups. That is unthinkable! So there must be some kind of unfairness skewing the numbers. We have to find that unfairness and root it out!
06 — The Times editorializes on antisemitism. I mentioned Tiffany Harris slapping and punching Jewish women. There's a lot of that in the streets of New York. Well-nigh every day in our news outlets there is some story of blacks attacking Jews. It's gotten so bad the New York Times has editorialized about it.
That editorial, in the January 3rd edition of the paper, is a gem of race denialism. Someone should engrave a copy on some durable material and seal it in a time capsule so that people of the future can see what lying cowards the early 21st-century American ruling classes were.
The editorial mentions some of the crimes, quote:
In Crown Heights, a section of Brooklyn, in August, a Jewish man in his 60s was hit in the face with a brick, breaking his nose and knocking out his teeth.
Look at the diction there. You either get the passive voice — "was hit," "were assaulted" — or else you get "three boys."
A bit later we are told that, quote:
In France last year, thousands took to the streets to protest a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents.
Goodness! What could explain rising antisemitism in France? Beats my pair of jacks.
There's passing mention of the December 10th murders at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City when, quote from the Times editorial, "a man and a woman killed three people."
"A man and a woman." It's all so generalized and racially non-specific. Why not go full-bore non-specificity and write "two featherless bipeds"?
Race does get an oblique mention, mind. Quote:
Other incidents appear to have been carried out by young people, sometimes in neighborhoods with long histories of tensions between Jewish and black and Hispanic New Yorkers.
It's "tensions," you see: like two people pulling opposite ends of a rope. Tensions: the Jews are mean to the NAMs, the NAMs are mean to the Jews. Tensions.
And of course there are sinister outside forces stirring up this violence. Quote:
Some people, as always, are seeking to exploit this moment of deep pain. If we allow them to, they will divide us, pushing New Yorkers further behind the tribal lines that have always run through the city.
In the online New York Times the word "some" in that last quote, "some people," has a hyperlink to a tweet by … Rudy Giuliani. See, it's all the fault of white people!
In New York, a city of immigrants and refugees, anti-Semitism is a threat to everyone. Just like white supremacy, it flourishes like a plague when cynics and bigots inflame painful divisions and spew hate for political gain.
That first sentence there doesn't make sense. How is anti-Semitism a threat to everyone? It can't be much of a threat to anti-Semites, can it?
And who are the "cynics and bigots" who "inflame painful divisions and spew hate for political gain"? Why not name the evil ones? I got that link to Rudy's tweet in the online Times; but how are readers of the paper version supposed to figure out who's being referred to? As if they don't know …
It should come as no surprise, then, that violent hate crimes against other Americans — black, Hispanic, Muslim, transgender — have also been on the rise in recent years.
"Black, Hispanic, Muslim, transgender," huh? Do other Americans get victimized by people with group hatreds? Christians? Old ladies in nursing homes? Asians? Normal non-sexually-confused white people? I guess not.
All together now, repeat after me: Diversity is our strength!
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Two weeks ago I mentioned the late Representative John Dingell, the longest-serving ever member of the House. He held his seat, representing suburban Detroit, for 59 years. Now his wife Debbie holds it. President Trump had a little spat with Debbie Dingell; that was the occasion of my comment.
I didn't know the half of the Dingell story. Before John Dingell held the seat, his Dad John, Sr. held it for 22 years. This has been a Dingell seat since 1933.
The Dingells are the American equivalent of hereditary aristocrats. They've done well by it, too: When Debbie took over the seat from John, Jr. in 2015, her net worth was $3.6 million. Where'd it all come from? Check out Daniel Greenfield's December 23rd piece at FrontPageMag. He gives all the grisly details.
After laying out some of the corruption and thuggery of the Dingell clan, Greenfield concludes that, quote:
America didn't need a single Dingell in her House. It certainly didn't need three.
Historian Anton Howes has reminded us that the eighteen-twenties were pretty nifty, too. Technology-wise, I've noted in a previous podcast what an engineering marvel the Erie Canal was, opened in 1825. That same year, over in England, saw the first working steam railroad. Øersted discovered electromagnetism and Faraday laid the groundwork for electric power generation.
It can't be altogether a coincidence that both the 1920s and, in Europe, the 1820s came right after times of war: WW1 in the former case, the Napoleonic wars in the latter. Perhaps here we have the answer to the Seinfeld question: "War, what is it good for?" Perhaps it's good for bringing forth a decade of fun and creativity.
Item: If we needed any further evidence of the utter worthlessness of the Republican Party, we've been getting it in the spectacle of Republican state governors, one after another, lining up to defy President Trump and bring so-called "refugees" into their states.
If you're concerned about thousands of Third World grifters being settled in your state, you should follow the fearless Ann Corcoran at the website Refugee Resettlement Watch. Ann's been posting for years on the refugee-resettlement money scam, which has very little to do with giving a helping hand to the wretched of the Earth and a great deal to do with lining the pockets of phony non-profits like the Conference of Catholic Bishops, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and other reassuringly churchy-sounding outfits all sucking on the taxpayer teat.
The Trump administration, to its credit, has been trying to starve the beast, but it's been meeting a lot of opposition from state governors. Democratic governors, of course: unemployable Third Worlders are future Democrat voters. GOP governors are also siding with the racketeers, though: 18 of them at Ann's last count.
Here are the cucking states: Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia.
If you live in one of those states, call your governor's office and tell him you have all the Third World moochers you need. Genuine refugees, where there are any, are best and most economically helped in countries neighboring their own; and if churchy organizations want to do good, they should raise funds from their own congregants, not from tax revenues.
Item: If you think abolishing ICE is crazy, you don't know how crazy things are getting. The latest fad among the Woke is to abolish the police.
Yep, you heard it right. Chris Rufo at City Journal has a fascinating piece on it. Sample quote:
In Seattle, socialist city council candidate Shaun Scott, who ran on a "police abolition" platform, came within 1,386 votes of winning elected office. During his campaign, he argued that the city must "[disinvest] from the police state" and "build towards a world where nobody is criminalized for being poor."
How would this work as actual policy? Chris quotes Richard Putz, writing in Socialist Worker. And yes, that's the guy's name, Putz, P-U-T-Z. It's not my fault, that's his name. Mr Putz says that cities must, quote, "help people resolve conflicts through peace circles and restorative justice programs." End quote.
Peace circles … Restorative justice … Paging Marianne Williamson, paging Ms Williamson …
Item: Financing healthcare is one of the greatest challenges in modern statecraft. Here is a new angle on the issue, one I haven't seen mentioned before.
This is from the website IFLscience. Headline: Goldman Sachs Says Curing Diseases May Not Be Economically Viable. The gist of it is, that if we can completely cure chronic diseases, as is increasingly the case, the revenue stream to the company marketing the cure stops with the cure. Worse yet: If it's an infectious disease, once you're cured you won't be infecting anyone else, so soon there will be no more curing required.
On the other hand, drugs providing long-term management of a disease — not curing it, just keeping it managed — are much better for the company balance sheet.
All this is from a report sent out to clients by Goldman Sachs, a firm that knows a thing or two about finance.
If there is a way to square provision of healthcare with a free-market economic model, I haven't yet seen it.
Item: Possibly related, but definitely a leading candidate for the title Headline I Never Thought I'd See is this one from the L.A. Times, December 25th, headline: Americans are retiring to Vietnam, for cheap healthcare and a decent standard of living.
The Americans in the story are mainly Vietnam vets, I guess because they are the ones who know at least some of the language. The appeal of Vietnam? Quote: "Inexpensive housing, cheap healthcare and a rising standard of living." Also a pretty nice climate, I would guess.
As Germany and Japan surged ahead economically in the 1950s and 1960s while Britain sank into post-imperial stagnation, the British adults I grew up among griped that winning a war wasn't as good a deal as you'd think it would be. As Vietnam now surges ahead, while the streets of America fill up with homeless bums and drug addicts, winning their war against Uncle Sam seems to be working out nicely for the Vietnamese.
Item: Every morning I trawl through news websites, bookmarking items I might use in the podcast. Most of them don't get used, but they hang out there in my bookmarks until I clean them up at year end.
Doing the clean-up this week, I spotted this one, and wondered why I hadn't used it. It is so Radio Derb. I think I'm going to make it my Story of the Year for 2019.
This is from Associated Press, September 24th. Headline: Woman Bites Camel's Genitals to Escape Enclosure at Truck Stop.
Venue: a truck stop with a petting zoo in Iberville Parish, Louisiana. A Florida couple were at this truck stop with their pet dog. Dog got into the camel's enclosure; woman crawled under fence to retrieve dog; camel sat on woman; woman used her teeth on camel's nether parts to free herself.
Final graf from the news report, quote:
Deputy Louis Hamilton Jr. said the couple provoked the camel and cited them for a leash law violation. The woman also had to be hospitalized and the camel is doing fine.
08 — Signoff. There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening, and a very happy New Year to one and all.
Radio Derb's sympathies and best wishes to the people of Australia, who are enduring some horrendous heat, drought, and brush fires down there. I know I have listeners in Australia. To all of you, please, be safe, hang in there, do what you can to help your neighbors and fellow-countrymen.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Here to sing us out is a great Australian, Peter Dawson.
[Music clip: Peter Dawson, "Auld Lang Syne."]