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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! But only just, listeners, only just.
Radio Derb, as regular listeners will know, comes to you from the outer-outer eastern suburbs of New York City, from the bosky environs of northern Long Island. The Derbs like it here. We have no wish to live anywhere else.
There is, however, a downside to boskiness … boskitude … boscagity … boscaciousness … whatever; there's a downside. The downside is, that when a storm with 60-mile-an-hour winds comes through, it creates havoc with the boscage. Big heavy branches from the trees come down; here and there the trees themselves come down.
When the boscage comes down it brings down with it the utility wires that, in defiance of the warning in my April Diary, are strung high along every street. Sometimes when the wires come down they bring the nearest utility pole down with them. Whether they do or not, you've lost power and cable service for however long it takes the utility repair guys to max out their overtime.
So it was on Tuesday this week as Hurricane Isaias paid a visit. I powered up my portable generator (that's the background hum you may be able to hear); but we get internet service from the cable company, along with TV and landline phone, and cable service was also down.
So, nothing much about the world outside coming into my house since Tuesday. For news this week my sole sources have been my daily delivery of the New York Post, car radio, and some scraps via my wife's & son's smartphones, which seem to work intermittently.
My apologies therefore that this won't be a full Radio Derb, even if I can file it on schedule, which is iffy as at early Friday evening, still with no power or internet service. We're doing our best here.
02 — Our last election? I'm starting to worry about this November's election.
I'm still guessing it'll be a win for the Democrats: either a total win, Senate and White House both, or a partial win, one or the other but not both — what we logicians call an "exclusive 'or'," and what we Latinists call an aut, not a vel.
A total win looks more likely, based on the polls and the fact that twice as many Republican Senators as Democrats are up for re-election. The least likely outcome seems to be complete Democrat defeat, Trump holding the White House and the GOP holding the Senate. That's my best guess right now.
All that is worrying enough, Heaven knows: some angry negress as Vice President, Attorney General Beto O'Rourke, Alexandra What's-her-name with the scary lipstick as Secretary of State, Bernie Sanders at Treasury, Surgeon General Marianne Williamson, … It's a nightmare, all right.
A Democratic win, total or partial, is my Number Two Worry, though. Number One is chaos.
Unless there is some really major change in the national mood, this will be a close election. It's also likely to be one with widespread mail-in voting. Put those two things together and the result in November may be no result — none that the nation can agree on.
Mail-in voting works like this. State election officials mail out a ballot to every registered voter. The mailer includes a pre-stamped return envelope. The voter marks up the ballot, signs it, puts it in the return envelope, and mails it back. When it hits the post office, they stamp it with a postmark that includes the date, then deliver it.
For the vote to be valid, that postmark has to be no later than Election Day. There is also some time limit — typically seven days — within which the ballot has to be received by the vote-counters.
You can already see possible problems. Check your last few items of mail. I dug out five; I could read the postmark date on four of them but the postmark on the fifth was too faint and smudged. And that was private correspondence from individuals: pre-stamped return envelopes from government offices often don't get postmarked at all.
As for a seven-day limit on the ballot being checked in at election HQ, that's dependent on (a) USPS and (b) the efficiency of state workers.
You see where I'm heading with this? To chaos, that's where.
This is no fevered worst-case fantasy, either. Here in New York we've been living with these issues since our Democratic primaries back on June 23rd. Mail-in voting was allowed. Thousands of those ballots have been disqualified — as many as a quarter in some precincts. Quote from the New York Post, August 5th, quote:
Some lacked a postmark or a signature or arrived late, even though voters mailed them with sufficient time.
This week a federal judge ordered a re-count of those thousands. So now, as with everything else in our public life today, it ends up in the courts. Further quote from the Post, quote:
The laws … are technical, complex, and hard to comply with, no matter how good the bureaucrats or how experienced the voters are with the system.
So six weeks after the vote, results are still up in the air. And this has just been one party's primary for a handful of congressional seats. Imagine this nationwide, in a full general election.
To assist your imagination, recall if you can the fuss over Florida's Presidential vote in the 2000 election. The phrase "hanging chads" mean anything? That dragged on for five weeks as I recall, and had to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court at last.
And there was just one result in one state at issue there. And that was twenty years ago, before the old WASP virtues of honor and forbearance were denounced as "toxic masculinity," before reasoned discourse in the public square gave way to screeching hysteria and statue-smashing.
Twenty years ago: back when a decent seasoning of conservatives could still be found in college and law-school faculties, in media outlets, federal bureaucracies, and corporate boardrooms. Cracks were visible twenty years ago, but we were still a grown-up nation, which is no longer the case.
If there is widespread mail-in voting and the race is close, there will be chaos: not just in Florida this time, and not for any puny five weeks. The nation's business will grind to a halt, probably for months.
At the end of it all, shall we still be a nation? Shall we still have a constitution? Will this be our last election?
I'm starting to worry.
03 — What's the matter with Kansas? The New York Post, though handy to skim through while I eat my breakfast, is still a tabloid, with not much deep detail about politics, or about anything. I therefore wasn't very surprised that they didn't run any news about Tuesday's GOP Senate primary in Kansas.
The interest here for National Conservatives was that Kris Kobach was running, in a tight race with an establishment Republican. Kris is one of us, so I had my fingers crossed for him.
My son checked for me in one of his smartphone's lucid moments on Wednesday. No, he reported: Kris Kobach lost.
That's a blow. Of course, holding National Conservative positions, especially on immigration, Kris was up against the entire GOP establishment and their financiers in the cheap-labor lobbies. Kris is smart, capable, and personable: but with all that donor money thrown into defeating him, it was an unequal contest.
What has happened here, though? Four years ago in the GOP Presidential primary, sixteen shills for the GOP establishment went up against one maverick saying National Conservative things — just the things Kris Kobach says. Republican primary voters gave a collective finger to the establishment bots and went for the maverick. Now they're voting establishment again, at least in Kansas.
The thing people were saying was, with control of the Senate on a knife-edge, Kobach as a candidate for Senator in the general would be too much of a risk. Primary voters would go with the safer choice, as apparently the Kansas primary voters did.
But why didn't that logic apply to the Presidential vote four years ago? Why weren't GOP primary voters back then muttering: "I like Trump and the things he says, but he's not going to win over any Democrats. Best stick with the RINOs." They weren't muttering that; they took a chance. Kansas GOP primary voters this week declined to take that same chance.
Why? Because the danger is greater this time, the Democrats crazier? Well, they are, for sure. Hillary Clinton is a model of good sense and sober judgment by comparison with any of the swivel-eyed opportunists and fanatics on Joe Biden's Veep list. By comparison with Biden himself, Hillary is Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Or was 2016 some kind of aberration? Is the old GOP, the GOP of George W. Bush, John McCain and Paul Ryan, the GOP of endless inconclusive wars, open borders, and trillion-dollar no-hoper social programs like No Child Left Behind, is that GOP back in style? Have the disturbances and distortions of the last few months — the pandemic, the Anrifa riots — left GOP voters yearning for earlier times, for what the great Warren Harding called "normalcy"?
I don't know the answer. I do know, however, that a nation that has no place in its legislatures for a smart, honest, principled patriot like Kris Kobach is a nation with some deep systemic problems.
04 — Immigration follies. Here's a couple of immigration topics from the Post.
First, a federal appeals court has upheld a decision last October by a local kritarch on non-citizen use of public benefits.
The issue here was a new rule, brought in earlier this year by the Department of Homeland Security, denying green cards — that's permanent resident-alien status — to aliens who use Medicaid, food stamps, and other types of public assistance. So this is part of the larger "public charge" issue. Should a foreigner who is going to be a charge on the public fisc be given permanent-residence status?
The common-sense reply to that is: Of course not. Why on earth would a country want to import welfare cases?
The kritarch, name of George B. Daniels, begged to differ, and this week's ruling from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals supports him. This new DHS rule, said the court, has already had an irreparable chilling effect on noncitizen use of public benefits.
My dictionary defines the word "irreparable" as "cannot be repaired or mended." Without thinking very hard at all I can rather easily come up with a course of action that would mend that chilling effect once and for all, and save taxpaying citizens a ton of money into the bargain. I guess I'm not cut out to be an appeals court judge.
And then, in the August 6th Post, there is a good op-ed by someone named Esther Raja, bylined as, quote:
A graduate of Xavier University School of Medicine and an advocate for America's unmatched medical graduates.
The word "unmatched" there refers to people who have graduated medical school but can't find jobs. You wouldn't think there could be such people, but there are — more than six and a half thousand of them, according to Ms Raja — 2,000 new ones this year alone.
The wrinkle here is, that before you can practice medicine in the U.S.A. you have to complete a residency — basically a form of postgraduate on-the-job supervised training, usually in a hospital. Those thousands of Americans Ms Raja is writing about completed medical school, got their MD, but can't find a residency so they can go ahead and become practicing physicians.
Meanwhile, guess what? Yes: Residencies are being handed out to foreigners on guest-worker J-1 visas: more than four thousand this year alone.
Why? Well, there are financial incentives for hospitals to take foreign doctors in as residents. Some foreign governments, the Saudis for instance, pay hospitals the cost of the residency. That's pure gravy for the hospitals
And then, to get his J-1 visa, the foreigner must also pay fat exam and certification fees to something called the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates. That outfit took in almost $90 million in 2018.
And then there's a sort of chain-migration effect. A lot of the administrators of hospital residency programs originally came in themselves on J-1 visas, and they favor their fellow-countrymen. What are the main offending countries here? See if you can guess.
The remedy for the second of these two styles of immigration-abuse is straightforward: Stop issuing J-1 visas to foreign MDs seeking residencies.
The remedy for the first — for the judicial nullifying of the "public charge" rule — is for Congress to pass some firm legislation on the issue. Since there is zero hope of Congress doing that, or of impeaching any of these out-of-control kritarchs, the only fallback is for the Executive, in this case DHS, to go full Andy Jackson and just ignore the damn judges.
I suppose there would be mighty constitutional ructions if the Executive did that, but this may be what it takes. With Congress sunk in uselessness, the legislators all bought and paid for by special interests, the battle for our rights and liberties is between Executive and Judiciary. I'm rooting for the Executive.
05 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: August 6th is of course Hiroshima day. Seventy-five years ago we dropped the big one on that city. Three days later we dropped another on Nagasaki. The Japs folded; the war ended.
The dropping of those bombs is one of those issues where there's a wide range of opinions held by highly argumentative people; not just opinions about the rightness or wrongness of the bombings, but even about their utility. Were they necessary to end the war? Some said, and still say, that they weren't; that continued conventional bombing, together with a good blockade, would have done the job eventually.
Others argue that it wasn't the atom bombs that pushed the Japanese to surrender; it was Stalin's declaration of war against Japan on August 8th that really scared them.
And so on. If you have what you believe to be an original theory to do with the dropping of those bombs, I can guarantee that some scholar came up with your theory, and probably wrote a book about it, at some point in the last 75 years. Please don't email in and challenge me on that; I'm pretty sure I've had all the theories argued at me one time or another.
If you want to brief yourself on the major points of view, I recommend the August issue of that excellent magazine Chronicles, now under the editorship of the learned and wonderfully opinionated Professor Paul Gottfried. This issue runs four good-length articles by four different writers, each stating a different point of view on the dropping of the atom bombs.
Where am I on this? The one of those four articles I found closest to my own view was number three, by Michael Scheuer. What's his position? Read the August issue of Chronicles and find out. Better still, take out a subscription; it's a very worthy magazine.
Item: What, actually, is the point of space exploration? people still sometimes ask. I'm happy to supply at least part of the answer. Here it is: penguin poop.
See, there has been an erroneous assumption about the number of emperor-penguin colonies in Antarctica. It had been supposed, based on reports from ground level, that the number was fifty.
Wrong! A European satellite called Sentinel-2 has been scanning Antarctica for tell-tale smudges on the ice that would indicate large amounts of penguin poop. They found those smudges for the fifty known colonies, and also for eleven more.
So the bottom line here, so to speak, is that there are in fact 61 emperor-penguin colonies.
I am quite sure that in more than sixteen years of reporting on the world's affairs, that is the first time Radio Derb has ever done a story about penguin poop. I just wish we could have gotten to it before the New York Post did. Then we would have had a scoop: a poop scoop. [Groan.]
Item: In last week's podcast I passed some comments about suburbia, and about the fad among 1960s lefties like Pete Seeger for mocking the dullness and conformity of suburban life. A friend, an ex-Brit like myself, emailed in to remind me of one of the strongest expressions of this sentiment. It comes from either the 1930s or 1940s, so the speaker was way ahead of his time.
This was Aneurin Bevan, one of the fiercest British socialists of that period — a Member of Parliament and the architect of Britain's National Health Service.
In 1952 Bevan published a book titled In Place of Fear, stating his political beliefs at length, with many quotes from his own speeches and writings. Historian David Kynaston, in Chapter Four of his book Family Britain 1951-1957, notes the following, quote:
One particularly striking pre-1945 passage — attacking suburbia as [inner quote] "an aesthetic monstrosity, an ethical crime, an economic nightmare, and a physical treadmill" [end inner quote] was in the event dropped from the book.
"An aesthetic monstrosity, an ethical crime, an economic nightmare, and a physical treadmill." If any higher level of vituperation than that has ever been aimed against suburbia, I'd be interested to hear of it.
Item: One more case of kritarchs run wild, this one concerning the Boston Marathon bomber, 27-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
You remember the story: the worst domestic terror attack since 9/11. This was at the Boston Marathon in April 2013. Two brothers, immigrants from Chechnya, let off home-made bombs near the finish line, killing three people and mutilating over two hundred others. When cops chased them down, the brothers threw pipe bombs at the cops, and shot one MIT campus security guy dead.
The older brother died in a police shoot-out. The younger was arrested, tried, found guilty on all charges, and sentenced to death in 2015.
Well, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals has just thrown out the death sentence along with three of the other charges this vermin was convicted on. The grounds for their doing so were nit-picky and technical — so much so, it took them two hundred and twenty-four pages to justify their ruling.
The bomber will stay in jail on life sentences from charges that weren't vacated, assuming those charges don't get annulled by some other panel of equally compassionate and punctilious jurists.
Tsarnaev's parents came here as tourists in 2002. They applied for asylum and were granted it, although subsequent inquiries have found no evidence they were under any danger of religious or political persecution where they came from.
I'd like to see Dzhokhar Tsarnaev executed. If that can't be managed, though — and under the present kritarchy it plainly can't — can we at least levy some penalty, not necessarily capital, against the damn fool federal employee who granted asylum to his parents?
06 — Signoff. I'm afraid that's all I can manage in my present straitened circumstances, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for listening; and should you hear of any 60-mile-an-hour winds headed your way, mind where you park your car. A neighbor of mine in the next street over had a tree fall on his.
I hate to grumble — you know I do — but I must say, so far I am not liking 2020. Riots; pandemic; a hurricane; and that worrisome election coming up.
I find myself at last in a mood of weary resignation; and of course I have just the song to go with that mood. Over to you, Carson.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Carson Robison, "Life Gets Teejus, Don't It?"]