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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your triply genial host John Derbyshire, here with our weekly roundup of commentary on the news from an immigrant perspective.
Back in mid-January I prophesied that the new administration would, with high probability, face three major crises in the next year or two. I listed those three crises as:
That was two months ago. I figure it's time for an update; so this week I'm going to check back on those three probabilities. First, two segments on the State of Minnesota vs. Derek Michael Chauvin et al.
02 — David versus Goliath in Minneapolis. Monday this week there began jury selection for the conviction … Oops, sorry: I mean the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin on charges that he murdered the Holy Blessed Martyr George Floyd in Minneapolis last year. As Radio Derb goes to tape here we are in Day Five of the jury selection, with half of the jurors selected.
I've been following Andrew Branca's coverage of the jury selection at the Legal Insurrection website, with side trips to Scott Johnson's coverage at the PowerLine blog. Branca is a seasoned attorney in Massachusetts — thirty years experience in cases mostly concerning self-defense and use of force. Johnson is also an attorney, in fact a Minnesota attorney, so he knows the judge and other courtroom names.
It's clear from the accounts of these experts that the trial is, as Scott Johnson has said, David versus Goliath. David here is Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson; Goliath is all the legal power of the state of Minnesota, plus some names drafted in from the Obama administration Justice Department.
David won that original bout, according to the First Book of Samuel, so wonders can happen. Still, while I don't know what the over-and-under was on Goliath back there in 1000 B.C., the betting has to be against Chauvin getting off.
And even if he isn't found guilty — or possibly even, as I've noted before, if he is found guilty — Kristen Clarke, the black supremacist dingbat who Joe Biden has nominated to run the Civil Rights division of his Justice Department, will come after him with double jeopardy charges. "OK, so you didn't murder him; but you did fatally deprive him of his civil rights! Ha! — got ya!" This is American jurisprudence in the 21st century.
The commentaries by Branca and Johnson open windows into the juror selection process, and indeed offer some interesting observations of general sociological interest.
In what follows you need to know that defense and prosecution can both use peremptory strikes to dismiss any prospective juror at all. The state gets nine peremptory strikes, the defense gets fifteen, of which they have used six as at Friday morning. On top of that, the judge in the case can himself dismiss a prospective juror for cause, and has been doing so.
Judge Cahill for example dismissed prospective juror #43 for cause. What was the cause? Well, last December, when the pool of prospective jurors was still being assembled, they all had to complete a 14-page questionnaire about their knowledge of the case, connections with the police, criminal record, favorite news sources, and so on. Juror #43 had responded to every question by writing: "No English." He also failed to return a form stating his citizenship or residence status. Pretty plainly he's an illegal alien. Minneapolis is a sanctuary city, so you'll be relieved to know he's not in any peril of deportation, but he's off the jury.
Of those prospective jurors who are legally resident in the U.S.A. and could understand English, most confessed some negativity towards the defendant, although juror #39, a male, allowed that he could imagine acquitting Chauvin if the defense succeeded in proving him not guilty. This man has apparently arrived in adult life without ever having heard the phrase "innocent until proven guilty."
Prospective juror #40, also a male, described himself as a music teacher, albeit one unable to play a musical instrument. Hmm. In that December questionnaire, #40 had written that he got a negative opinion of Officer Chauvin in part as a result of, quote, "seeing the look on Chauvin's face on the video," end quote.
So this fellow has arrived in adult life without ever having attended a performance of Macbeth to hear Duncan say, quote: "There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face," end quote.
Nor did he ever see the 1980s British TV show Minder, in one episode of which lead character Arthur Daley is elected foreman of the jury in a criminal case, and confuses one of the jurors by speaking Cockney rhyming slang.
I must say, juror #40's impression was contrary to mine. When I saw video of Officer Chauvin doing the knee restraint on Floyd, my impression was that Chauvin didn't look at all like a person doing something he should not have been doing. His defense will apparently be that he was restraining a seriously obstreperous perp, using a common and approved method of restraint, until EMS arrived. And that's exactly what it looked like to me.
Did he maintain the restraint for too long? Possibly. I guess that will be argued when the trial proper starts on March 29th. If he did though, that is still not murder. At worst it's negligent homicide, like knocking down a pedestrian with your car because you took your eyes off the road to kiss your girlfriend.
That juror, juror #40, was passed by Judge Cahill, who is a lefty, in spite of ample evidence that he was nowhere near fair and impartial, so that Chauvin's defense counsel had to use up another one of their peremptory challenges.
So it continues. As I said, half the jurors have already been selected, so the whole process should end next week. What we've seen so far doesn't reflect too badly on the juror selection process, but it does testify to the media's power to brainwash the general public into believing things that aren't true.
03 — What cops know. Here's a thing that isn't true: that cops pick on blacks, arresting them in proportions greater than is justified by actual black criminality.
What's my authority for saying that isn't true? The U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, that's what. January this year the BJS published a statistical brief, title Race and Ethnicity of Violent Crime Offenders and Arrestees, 2018.
There are two sources of data for this report. One source is the UCR, that's the Uniform Crime Reporting program, which is run by the FBI. The UCR gathers data on crimes logged by every kind of domestic law-enforcement agency: municipal, county, state, federal, even tribal and college security forces.
The other source is the NCVS, the National Crime Victimization Survey, which is of course a survey: a questionnaire distributed nationwide asking people aged 12 or older about crimes they have been victims of, with characteristics of both victim and offenders. The beauty of the NCVS is that it records crimes even if they weren't followed by any police or court action. It's also a very big survey: the 2018 data for this report questioned more than 150,000 households. The downside of it is, it doesn't include homicides. We haven't yet figured a way to get homicide victims filling out a questionnaire.
So if you compare the UCR to the NCVS you are getting the nation's crime statistics from both ends, from the law-enforcement end and then from the crime victim end. By comparing the two datasets you can see whether law enforcement is arresting and prosecuting in proportion as how crime is experienced.
They are. Sample quote:
Among the most serious incidents of violent crime (rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault), there were no statistically significant differences by race between offenders identified in the NCVS and persons arrested per the UCR. White and black people were arrested proportionate to their involvement in serious nonfatal violent crime overall and proportionate to their involvement in serious nonfatal violent crime reported to police.
There is some discrepancy in the case of Hispanics, but this is probably because ethnicity isn't as plain as race. If granny gets knocked down and her pocketbook stolen by someone who then runs off, she can be pretty sure of his race, but much less sure whether or not he's Hispanic.
So all the Black Lives Matter hysteria about cops prowling around looking for blacks to victimize, and of blacks terrified to venture into the streets for fear of being shot by rogue cops is a load of rubbish. A colossal national hysteria leading to billions in property damage and dozens of deaths is founded on … nothing at all.
Anyone acquainted with actual cops already knew this, of course. If you have no such acquaintance, I recommend reading Connie Fletcher's book What Cops Know. It has wonderfully gritty accounts by actual cops and ex-cops, all named in the book, of what street police work is like. It was published thirty years ago, but there are plenty of copies available at Abebooks, starting at less than four dollars, and I doubt street police work has changed much since 1991.
One of Steve's commenters over at Unz Review the other day captured some of the same flavor, quote from him:
[Cops] spend every day dealing with the scum of the earth like Floyd. People like Floyd, … aside from being thieves and addicts, are also fluent liars. Maybe when you are a young and naive cop you still believe them but after a while you realize that they are lying 99 times out of 100 and so you learn never to believe them. You realize that in most cases these people bring misfortune upon themselves and so you lose all sympathy for them. You learn never to trust them because if you extend any kindness, they will take advantage of the situation in any way they can. You become very cynical about human nature.
End quote. That commenter adds, reasonably and truly, that none of what he's said would excuse criminal conduct on the part of a cop, if such conduct can be proved to courtroom standards of evidence. Still, it adds context.
The blogger who calls himself "Inductivist" added the same context more succinctly over at Twitter on Thursday, tweet:
Cops don't dislike blacks. They don't even dislike criminals. They dislike assholes.
The fact of cops disliking assholes does not of course exclude the possibility that some cops are themselves assholes — we all have stories. It does, though, imply that it's unwise to exhibit extreme assholery when cops are trying to arrest you.
04 — Stimulating legislation. As you surely know, the federal government's stimulus bill cleared the Senate last Saturday, was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, and became law on Thursday. I shall apparently be getting a check for $1,400, Mrs Derbyshire the same, and each of our kids the same again.
Hey, we'll take it. We don't need it, though. This is helicopter money, showered on us indiscriminately. Way indiscriminately: even illegal aliens will be getting those checks. Ted Cruz tried to stick an amendment on the bill when it was up before the Senate, to stop the payments to illegals, telling us those payments would cost eight billion dollars, but of course Senate Democrats voted the amendment down as shamefully mean-spirited and probably racist.
I wonder, as I've wondered before, why the government doesn't apply some artificial intelligence routines to the IRS databases to see who needs a check and who doesn't. After I'd wondered that out loud back in January, a listener emailed in to explain that the feds don't do artificial intelligence; they do natural stupidity. Which I think is the correct explanation.
And as you also surely know, this stimulus bill is stuffed with measures that have nothing to do with stimulation, or with the economic difficulties caused by the covid pandemic … or by the States' and federal government's overheated responses to the pandemic, depending on your view of the matter. It's all loaded up like the previous one was — remember the previous one? You can be forgiven for not remembering, it was so long ago, all the way back in … late December. Yes, like that one, this new bill is all loaded up with grants to transgender collectives and green-energy initiatives in Uzbekistan.
I confess I am handicapped here by having only the most rudimentary understanding of economics. I'm still believing that if our government just prints trillions of dollars to shower on us from their helicopters, other things being equal, those dollars will buy less than last week's dollars did. Speed up the printing presses, you get inflation, right?
Always hoping to improve my understanding, I thought I should have another try at getting a grip on the essentials of national finance. For an instruction text I settled on Nicole Gelinas's review in City Journal of a new book about economics. The book is titled The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birthplace of the People's Economy. The author, Stephanie Kelton, is an actual Professor of Economics, so she surely has all the answers.
A whole 350-page book about economics is more than my metabolism could bear, but I thought I could probably survive reading a 1,500-word review, especially one by Nicole Gelinas. I've read a lot of her stuff in the New York Post. She's smart, knowledgeable across a wide range, and a clear, no-nonsense writer. So I embarked on this review.
Modern monetary theory, Ms Gelinas begins by telling us, is, quote, "the idea that the U.S. can print or borrow as much money as its elected officials desire," end quote. Really? Germany in 1923? Zimbabwe in the 2000s? That's modern monetary theory?
Well, no. Neither of those places was the U.S.A. of 2021, with people all over the world yearning to buy our Treasury bonds. Modern monetary theory apparently says — I don't guarantee I've got this right, mind — it apparently says that if a nation is in that happy position, and if it manages its policies on taxation and interest rates intelligently, then yes, as the title of Ms Gelinas' review says: "Money Printer Go Brrr."
The economist she's reviewing, this Stephanie Kelton lady, pooh-poohs what she calls "the household myth": the idea that, quote, "we should balance the federal budget the same way we balance our family budgets," end quote. Er, that's what I believe. So it's a myth? All this goverment spending is not causing inflation?
Uh, it kind of is. Quote from Ms Gelinas:
There's no doubt that the U.S. is experiencing asset inflation. The prices of stocks, bonds, and houses have risen far faster than any fundamentals, such as future corporate profits (to justify high stock prices) or future personal income (to justify high house prices).
So where does that leave modern monetary theory? Isn't "the household myth" kind of … true?
As always when I try to tackle economics, I end up baffled. I'd better close out this segment before I come across as even dumber than I feel. I'm sure the senators and congressmen are way smarter than me, and their two-trillion-dollar stimulus bill is a really, really good idea.
05 — China, India, America. Well, no, obviously, China has not yet made the move on Taiwan. I have, though, been reading some interesting things about the little spat they had in June last year with India up there in the Himalayas. Well, not so much reading as viewing: my information here is mainly from Chris Chappell's excellent YouTube channel China Uncensored.
Chris makes a case in his March 8th vidcast that China's casualties in last year's border clash were higher than China wants its people to know. India reported its own fatalities as twenty, and India held public funerals in tribute to their fallen soldiers. India's estimates of Chinese fatalities are all over the place, but the lowest figure they've issued is eight.
The official ChiCom figure for Chinese deaths is four. There are strong reasons to doubt that number, and some commenters on Chinese social media scoffed at it. The ChiComs were not happy. Arrests have been made all over China for the crime of "insulting or slandering heroes and martyrs." Yes, that's a crime in the ChiCom criminal code.
One skeptic was a Chinese guy living in Europe. He posted his skepticism on the internet. The ChiCom police couldn't arrest him, so they arrested his parents in China.
Bottom line here: The ChiComs are really, really touchy about the body count from that tiff in the Himalayas last year.
Small news in itself, I guess, but it got me thinking about India, which I've been doing more and more recently. There were those Indian novels I reported on in my diaries last October and November. And then there's the increasing — fast-increasing, it seems to me — prominence of Indian-Americans in politics and business. Kamala Harris is the foremost political example, with Nikki Haley and Tulsi Gabbard not far behind. In business there's Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, who is actually Indian-born — like Vikram Pandit, who was CEO of Citigroup last time I looked but is now somewhere else.
Does India see itself as competitive with China? You bet it does.
I have noted the following phenomenon before: If you find yourself in conversation with a smart young Indian immigrant, just casually mention that you remember reading somewhere how, at some future date, India's population will surpass China's. Unfortunately, you then say, you can't remember the exact date. Does he happen to know it?
Yes he does. Every time I have tried this the other party has immediately come back with a loud, confident answer, though it hasn't always been the same answer. It used to be 2024 or 2025; now it's more often 2026 or 2027, the latter agreeing with the latest estimate from the U.N.'s Population Division.
These exchanges sometimes head off in surprising directions. In one of them, at a dinner party two or three years ago, I voiced the cliché that while the 20th century was America's, the 21st will belong to China. My Indian interlocutor waved this away. "No," he said, "this century will be India's." How did he figure that? I asked. He smiled knowingly. "China and America will destroy each other in a nuclear war. The world will then belong to India."
I think that's a stretch; but India is a very big country, so there are probably half a billion or so people sharing his opinion.
Over on the other side of the Himalayas is China with her great literary tradition. One of the shining jewels of that tradition is the 14th-century novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, known at least in its main outline to all Chinese people and represented in innumerable movie, TV and stage productions.
The Three Kingdoms was an actual period of Chinese history, when China was divided into the three through much of the third century A.D. The novel was distilled from the official history of the period, as worked over by centuries of storytellers.
That novel is now so much a part of the collective Chinese psyche, I have to wonder whether perhaps the idea of a tripolar world is beginning to germinate in that psyche. If it is, that could spell trouble. The Three Kingdoms period was one of permanent warfare, with of course one of the kingdoms eventually dominating the other two.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Just going back to the Derek Chauvin trial for a moment. There's a widespread assumption, which I think is probably correct, that if by some mischance a recalcitrant jury does acquit Officer Chauvin, the ruling class will unleash their stormtroopers again — Antifa and BLM — for another season of burning, looting, and killing.
Related to that is a very good opinion piece by Michael Anton over at the Law & Liberty website, March 10th. Anton argues that the violent radicals of the 1960s have won. Big names of that violent-radical generation ended up in prestigious academic positions: Bill Ayers a Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, Bernadine Dohrn a law professor at Northwestern, Kathy Boudin an adjunct professor of social work at Columbia University, all now I think retired — honorably, of course.
Anton omits to mention Angela Davis, also now honorably retired after numerous academic posts at UCLA and elsewhere. He does mention Kathy Boudin's son Chesa Boudin, now implementing radically progressive policies as District Attorney of San Francisco County: criminals released without charges, no more demands for bail, no prosecution for shoplifting, and so on.
Yes, America loves its radical lefties, and rewards them handsomely for their efforts. Non-leftist street protestors, however — the Proud Boys, for example, who to my knowledge have never engaged in arson, looting, or bomb-making, are hunted down like mad dogs.
If this pattern continues there's a bright future ahead for today's anarchist mobs. In the U.S.A. of 2070, our colleges and universities will be staffed by graduates of Antifa and BLM. Perhaps they'll even be running the government. Although, really, given the ruling class admiration and support they already have, what difference would it make?
Item: This I call taking complaints about cultural appropriation a bit too far.
The culture at issue here is the Wessex culture, dominant in Bronze Age Southern Britain, roughly 2000 to 1500 B.C. We don't know a whole lot about the Wessex Culture. They were probably speakers of some Indo-European language, but they were not Celts. Celts didn't show up for another millennium or so. The main thing the Wessex Culture left us was Stonehenge, a huge circle of massive rocks on Salisbury Plain — a major tourist attraction.
Those rocks were transported somehow, probably by river mostly, from quarries in Southern Wales, more than a hundred miles away. Now there they stand in Southern England. And, yes, the Welsh want them back. Keeping the Stonehenge stones in England, say the Welsh, is cultural appropriation.
Considering that neither the Wessex Culture nor the one that preceded it and actually started the building of Stonehenge, the so-called Bell Beaker culture, considering that neither people were Celts, and so not related to the modern Welsh — at any rate, no more so than to the modern English — it's all a bit of a stretch.
After last week's story about Welsh gold, my suggestion would be for England to offer to sell the Stonehenge stones back to Wales for their weight in Welsh gold.
Failing that, they could just remind Wales what happened to past Welshmen who got ideas above their station: the rebel David ap Gruffydd, for example, who was hanged, drawn, and quartered by Edward the First.
My home town of Northampton, which was quite a significant place in the 13th century, was given one of David's quarters to display. I don't know which quarter we got, but the proud people of Northampton have been boasting about it ever since. Welshmen be warned! Don't mess with the English!
Item: Whale vomit. I don't think I have ever posted an item about whale vomit, so it's high time.
Lead character in this story is 49-year-old Siriporn Niamrin, a lady of Thailand. "Siriporn"? Sounds like some off-color messages from your smartphone assistant … Sorry, I got distracted there.
So Ms Niamrin, Siriporn, was strolling along the beach when she spotted a large smelly mass washed up on the shore. It was, yes, whale barf, otherwise known as ambergris. I quote from the Mail Online story, March 1st, quote:
Ambergris is produced by sperm whales when bile ducts in the gastrointestinal tract make secretions to ease the passage of large or sharp objects. The whale then vomits the mucilage which solidifies and floats on the surface of the ocean.
Siriporn's … I beg her pardon: Ms Niamrin's lump of whale chuck has been valued at $260,000. And here I've been, just another dumb chump putting my faith in Bitcoin. There's one of us born every minute, I guess.
07 — Signoff. That's all I have, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and don't forget to put your clocks forward this weekend.
Returning to the theme of cops and to Inductivist's wise comment thereon. Once again, quote:
Cops don't dislike blacks. They don't even dislike criminals. They dislike assholes.
Returning to that theme, there's been a whole genre of fiction about likeable crooks: that is, criminals, or just people who make their living around the outermost edges of legality, who are not assholes.
I actually touched on this back there with that clip from the British TV series Minder, which ran on the telly over there in the early 1980s, and which belongs to that genre of stories about likeable crooks. Minder has a Wikipedia page, so you can read about it if you're inclined. A lot of it is also on YouTube, if you actually want to watch an episode or two.
I sometimes do watch a Minder episode when I have an idle hour. It's aged surprisingly well. As my clip illustrated, you have to not mind a bit of Cockney rhyming slang. The telephone is the dog: "dog and bone," see? My drum is my apartment: "drum and bass" for "place." If we're told that a character is brown bread, you won't be seeing him around any more, unless they have a wake for him with an open casket. And so on.
In this spirit the lead character, a shady entrepreneur named Arthur Daley, really should call his marital partner "the trouble and strife," as I have been known to do. In fact Arthur departs from the Cockney norm there, always referring to Mrs Daley, who we never see on screen, as "'er indoors." I like that, as it's a close translation of an upper-class, but very old-fashioned, Chinese term for one's wife: nèi rén, "interior person."
This is all leading up to my signoff music of course. Watching those Minder episodes, I re-learned something I'd forgotten: that the intro music is a serious ear-worm. If you're willing to take the risk, here it is.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Dennis Waterman, "I Could Be So Good for You."]