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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2, dobro guitar version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your speedily genial host John Derbyshire, here with the news of the hour.
The main political event this week was of course Joe Biden's press conference Thursday. Just for once, in a spirit of commentarial dutifulness, I swallowed my loathing of politics and politicians and sat through the durn thing. How'd it go?
At a strictly personal level, it was of course a waste of my time. I'd have been more productively employed tidying up the garage.
I had actually been planning to go to the range. It was a lovely Spring day; but I was late getting through my morning chores and the presser was scheduled for one o'clock. The range is an hour's drive away and closes at 4:30, so I wasn't going to fit in a decent day's shooting.
So, grumbling and cursing, I dragged myself to the sofa and sat and watched our President for an hour. Here's my report.
02 — Joe meets the press. At the next level up from the personal, the level of affect, Joe did better than I'd expected. He only lost the plot three or four times, didn't fall down or drool or pick his nose, and actually uttered some structured sentences, with verbs and subjects. I'll score him a B-plus for affect.
Next levels up from that: form and content. I'll cover content in a separate segment.
The form of the thing was thoroughly scripted and rehearsed. Joe had a cheat sheet of the reporters present, with headshots so he could put name to face, and magic-marker numbers written in for the half dozen least likely to ask anything difficult. He also had a sheaf of notes with factlets he could produce at appropriate moments, to sound well-informed.
The magic-markered reporters chosen to ask questions were from, alphabetic order: ABC, Associated Press, Bloomberg, CBS, CNN, NBC, PBS, Univision, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post.
That's a pretty good line-up of the media-corporate complex: globalist neocons, anti-white America-haters, and Hispanic supremacists. Peter Doocy of Fox News was there, but of course not magic-markered for the President to call on. Probably whited out, in fact.
The furthest into the negativity zone that any of the press poodles went was Kristen Welker of NBC asking whether Biden hadn't perhaps moved too fast to undo Trump's policies at the southern border.
To that Biden replied that he would make no apologies for ending programs that, quote, "have an incredibly negative impact on the law," end quote. This is the guy who's so concerned for the law, he's stood down the agencies charged with enforcing the people's immigration laws.
At the other extreme from Ms Welker was Yamiche Alcindor of PBS saying, actual quote:
The perception of you that got you elected — as a moral, decent man — is the reason why a lot of immigrants are coming to this country and entrusting you with unaccompanied minors.
So, pretty much a lube job on the President from the fearless investigators of the press. What. A. Surprise.
03 — Loopholes, lies, and rhetorical blunders. Content-wise, the questions were mostly from the left, asking the President when he was going to implement this or that radical-woke policy, or why he wasn't moving faster on this or that nation-wrecking scheme.
A modal question was this one from Nancy Cordes of CBS. Actual quote:
Republican legislatures across the country are working to pass bills that would restrict voting, particularly, Democrats fear, impacting minority voters and young voters — the very people who helped to get you elected in November.
All the noise from the left about "voting rights" is of course an effort to keep open the loopholes that allow them to fix elections. The phrase "bills that would restrict voting" means "bills that would require voter i.d., stop ballot harvesting and mail-in voting, cut absentee ballots to the bare minimum necessary, insist on up-to-date voter rolls, and so on."
And of course Biden's people are worried that states closing those loopholes could hurt them in the mid-terms next year.
Biden himself, responding to the question, went full bluster. He called efforts to clean up the voting process "un-American." You could make a case, based on the long and colorful history of voting fraud in the U.S.A., you could make a case that he's right. I'll leave that for another day, though.
Voting rules are an unholy mess, as we saw last November, and they do need cleaning up. Our President's party is against cleaning them up. To judge from their latest bill on the subject — House Resolution 1, passed earlier this month — they want more loopholes, federally enforced.
Further along in his response to the voting-rights question the President opined that this effort by Republican state legislatures to curtail voting abuses, quote, "makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle. I mean, this is gigantic what they're trying to do." End quote.
That makes no rhetorical sense. An eagle's bigger than a crow, right? So if some proposal X makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle, that means Jim Crow looks way bigger than X. X is tiny compared to Jim Crow, not "gigantic."
The President should have said: "makes Jim Crow look like Jim Canary." But I guess it's too much to expect rhetorical dexterity from Blunderin' Biden.
A great deal of what the President said was flat-out lies. "We're sending back the vast majority of families who are coming" to the border, he told us. Er, no: We're sending back thirteen percent of them.
Trump left children to starve to death rather than let them in, the President told us. That sent me all the way back to my childhood.
"Eat up your greens!" our parents used to scold us back in the day. "Don't you know there are little children starving in Africa?" To which we cheeky dissidents-to-be would respond: "Name one."
In fact a lot of Central American kids were flown back to their home countries by the Trump administration, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.
So, content-wise, the best I can say is that some of it made sense. I mean, Our President was not totally incoherent. Small blessings.
There were sins of omission, though. What was the President not asked about? New segment.
04 — Sins of omission. The topics raised at the presser were, alphabetic order again: Afghanistan, bipartisanship, China, the filibuster, guns, illegal immigration, North Korea, re-election, and voting rights.
For clues at to what the ruling class, as represented by Biden's people who scripted this thing and the mainstream media reptiles who played along, for clues as to what they don't want discussed, let's look at a couple of things that were not raised.
First topic not raised: Legal immigration. A couple of weeks ago I offered the speculation that this mess the Biden administration has quite deliberately created at the southern border is four-dimensional chess, a distraction. Quote from self:
What the managerial class wants is of course to crush the American worker and replace him with a cheaper foreigner. The real money to be made there, though, is not with fruit-pickers, meat-packers, and children's nannies. The real money is with big tech corporations and their skilled employees.
I was only half-serious at the time, but I'm beginning to suspect I really was on to something. The complete silence about legal immigration in a one-hour press conference has raised my suspicion a couple of notches.
If we had a ruling class that gave a rat's arse about ordinary Americans and their interests, this would be a huge issue in the public forum. The media would be all over it.
Mass displacement of white-collar workers by cheap indentured foreigners on guest visas and bogus "training" schemes for foreign students? Chain migration, each tranche of immigrants being chosen by the previous tranche? Birthright citizenship for illegal aliens — break our country's laws, we'll give your kids citizenship? Poor American kids excluded from colleges in favor of foreign students paying full tuition, all in aid of bloating the colleges' radical-left administrations? And so on: If you read VDARE.com you know the charge sheet.
It all needs fixing — with legislation, not executive-order tinkering. This should be at the front of the nation's mind. It's our future, the nation our children and grandchildren will live in. Yet for the hacks in attendance at Thursday's press conference, it's not worth mentioning.
Supplemental to that: Mr President, why have you not raised the cap on so-called "refugees," as you vowed to do in February? You spoke against President Trump's cutback on refugee numbers, but you've taken no action. Why? Of course I don't want to see the cap raised, but it's strange he hasn't done it. You'd think these lefty reporters would want to know why.
Second topic not raised: Law, order, and justice. We're becoming a seriously disorderly nation.
I've just been reading about the situation with Echo Park in Los Angeles, billed in travel brochures as "a popular local beauty spot." Well, not recently it hasn't been. The park has become a campground for so-called "homeless" people: lunatics, addicts, alcoholics, hobos and such.
This week the city decided to clear them out, and sent police to do the job. The cops met opposition not only from the winos but also from a big mob of anarchists, screaming in their faces and throwing things.
There are stories like this all the time. Sure, I know, these are state and municipal issues, outside the scope of the federal government. A President should have something to say about them none the less; and a reporter at a press conference would not be out of bounds asking him whether something could be done. Whatever happened to vagrancy laws?
And in the matter of justice, the feds are already involved … on the side of the anarchists, of course. Does anyone doubt that if Officer Derek Chauvin is acquitted in his Minnesota state trial, Biden's Justice Department will yield to the mob and come down on him with so-called "civil rights" charges?
Third topic not raised: Imperial overstretch. Can the President tell us why we are defending rich, advanced countries perfectly capable of defending themselves, in alliance with their neighbors where necessary? Fifty-three thousand of our troops in Japan, 34,000 in Germany, and 12,000 in Italy 76 years after WW2 ended? Twenty-six thousand in South Korea 68 years after that one ended?
Fourth topic not raised: The U.S. national debt is at $28 trillion and heading up to thirty. Is this sustainable, Mr President? What number, in your opinion, would not be sustainable?
And more. So count me unimpressed with Joe Biden's first press conference. I awarded him a B-plus for affect back there, better than I'd expected. On form and content, I'll give C and D.
That D would have been an E, except that Joe did speak approvingly of more federal support for, quote, "pure research and investment in science." I'll thank him for that, if not for anything else.
All right, he's not my candidate and I hold the mainstream media in snarling contempt. Eh, I shoulda gone to the range.
05 — What will be the price of the biosecurity state? An issue that's getting more prominent, and which I believe will get a whole lot more prominent in the years to come, is: How much of our privacy and liberty are we willing to trade for good health?
In conversation with a Chinese friend some months ago, my friend posed this scenario.
You are walking down the street, minding your own business. Suddenly, with a screech of brakes, an ambulance pulls up just ahead of you. Two uniformed EMS guy emerge. They grab you, one at each elbow, and hustle you into the ambulance, which takes off at speed.
That scenario takes place in the near future, in China as my friend told it. Every citizen's vital signs will be monitored 24/7 by gadgets carried or implanted, transmitted via cellphone to central data-collection stations. Huge artificial-intelligence bots monitor this continuous flood of data, and alert EMS when something's wrong.
This scenario already has a name: "the biosecurity state." The Chicoms have it as a major public-health goal, and talk about it openly.
Here in the West we haven't so far heard much about it, but news stories are starting to pop up. London Daily Telegraph, March 25th, headline: Vaccine passports threaten to be just the start of a new biosecurity state.
The story is about a plan by the British government to get citizens using an app available from the country's National Health Service to send in their body temperature every day. This is causing controversy over there; but however it shakes out, I'm betting the term "biosecurity state" is one that'll soon be in general circulation.
Think about it. Specifically, think about that scenario my Chinese friend proposed. Would you mind that happening? Wouldn't you be glad to be spared a heart attack? I know I would.
But what's the price I'm paying for my gladness — for that extra security, and a few more years of life? What's the price in privacy and liberty? Might the price be too high?
I don't know the answer, but I'll bet we're seeing here the first green shoots of what will, in the next decade or two, become a major public-policy issue.
06 — The American fox and the Chinese hedgehog. I have touched on two of the three major crises that, I predicted in my January 15th podcast, the U.S.A. will face in the next year or two. Just to refresh your memory, the three crises will be:
How are we looking on that third one?
No better, no worse. Other people are saying the things I've been saying. The Z-man, for example, who tried to look on the bright side, quote from him:
I am not sure it is such a bad thing that the collection of time-serving hacks and criminals that is the Biden administration will be charged with managing our way through the minefield of 2021. Much of what lies ahead is the creation of the ruling class. Maybe they can more easily undo what they have wrought than a Trump team facing constant opposition. At the minimum, The Pretender can call off the BLM and Antifa mobs that have been running wild.
(And in reference to the Z-man, I should note that one of his commenters was ahead of me with the parallel between Britain-Suez-1956 and America-Taiwan-sometime soon. Great minds think alike … Although in this case, not much greatness of mind was called for. Someone with more googling patience than I have might try finding out who first stated that parallel. And I'll say again what I said in January: a Suez-type national humiliation is the good outcome of a Taiwan crisis. Far worse endings are imaginable.)
For a good deep take on the topic by a credentialed historian, I recommend Niall Ferguson's long piece at Bloomberg.com, March 21st.
Ferguson recycles a distinction first made by the Greek lyric poet Archilocus, brought into modern currency by the British philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin, famous quote: "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." End quote.
The fox-hedgehog distinction, says Ferguson, can be applied in the realm of great-power politics. Quote:
Today, there are two superpowers in the world, the U.S. and China. The former is a fox. American foreign policy is, to borrow Berlin's terms, [inner quote] "scattered or diffused, moving on many levels." [End inner quote.] China, by contrast, is a hedgehog: It relates everything to [inner quote] "one unchanging, all-embracing, sometimes self-contradictory and incomplete, at times fanatical, unitary inner vision." [End inner quote.]
Ferguson goes on to tell the story of Henry Kissinger's secret trip to Peking, just fifty years ago this summer, for talks with Zhou Enlai, the ChiCom Prime Minister. Kissinger had a lot of things he wanted to talk about, but he quickly learned that Zhou had only one: Taiwan. Another quote:
No matter what other issues Kissinger raised — Vietnam, Korea, the Soviets — Zhou steered the conversation back to Taiwan.
That's how they felt about it fifty years ago when China was poor, backward, and in the throes of their Cultural Revolution. That's still how they feel about it today; only today China is rich and technologically advanced, and it's we who are swept up in the rancor and disorder of a cultural revolution.
"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." Donald Trump, with all his many faults and weaknesses, at least seems to have understood the hedgehog mentality. He is reported as having told a Republican senator — I don't know which one — in 2019 that, quote:
Taiwan is like two feet from China … We are eight thousand miles away. If they invade, there isn't a f***ing thing we can do about it.
Does our own Deep State understand the hedgehog mentality? Do our military strategists at the Pentagon understand it? Does Joe Biden understand it? I wish I could think so.
Fox, hedgehog. America, China, Taiwan. It's not a question of if, but of when.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
The Spartans used to boast of the Spartan mother seeing her son off into battle, telling the lad: "Come back with your shield, or on it." Archilocus spoofs this to express the more laid-back Ionian approach to life. Quote:
Some lucky Thracian has my noble shield;
Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.
The organization under my scrutiny here is Freedom House, a think-tank that monitors freedom world-wide. They have just brought out their latest report. Quote from a story about it in the Daily Mail, March 25th, edited quote:
The United States has slumped below Mongolia and Argentina in a new ranking of freedom around the world … America has crashed down the rankings after a long series of political woes that culminated in a mob of Donald Trump fanatics rampaging through Congress in a doomed attempt to overturn an election result. The study by Freedom House also gives the U.S. low marks for racial inequality and growing restrictions on voting — with its overall "freedom score" falling to 83 out of 100 compared to 94 a decade ago.
Uh-huh. A decade ago, eh? Who was in the White House a decade ago? Oh, right.
Racial inequality? Well, they have a point there. Affirmative action is a disgrace; so is the smothering of all news about black violence against whites and Asians. Growing restrictions on voting, as I've already observed, is woke-speak for "growing restrictions on cheating."
Our actual ranking in this new freedom list is 61; just above Panama, but below Monaco. Number six in the rankings, I see, with a score of 98 out of 100, is Uruguay. I really must start working on my Spanish.
Item: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, has got a job! His employer is some nonprofit I never heard of, the Aspen Foundation. His title there will be Commissioner on Information Disorder. I'm pretty sure I can hear Jonathan Swift roaring with laughter down below there somewhere.
There's a funny article about this by Sam Leith at Unherd.com, March 26th. Sam observes that dim-bulb Harry probably thought he was exchanging the meaningless jargon and soul-crushing engagements of royal protocol for plain, clear business language and challenging assignments.
Sorry, pal (says Sam), the corporate world isn't like that. If anything, corporate HR jargon is emptier and more formulaic than what comes out of Buckingham Palace. Sam actually gives, as an example, the text Harry's flacks wrote for him to announce his new employment. I shall do my best to stay awake while quoting it. Quote:
As I've said, the experience of today's digital world has us inundated with an avalanche of misinformation, affecting our ability as individuals as well as societies to think clearly and truly understand the world we live in. It's my belief that this is a humanitarian issue and as such, it demands a multi-stakeholder response from advocacy voices, members of the media, academic researchers, and both government and civil society leaders. I'm eager to join this new Aspen commission and look forward to working on a solution-oriented approach to the information disorder crisis.
As eager as you may be, Harry, you're not as eager as I was to get to the end of quoting that meaningless boilerplate.
Item: As crazy as things sometimes get, we used to be able to rely on comedians, at least, to preserve a minimal level of sanity. Not any more.
Latest quisling here: Jay Leno. Some grievance outfit called Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) has been complaining for years that Leno was making jokes about Koreans eating dog meat. Jay has now buckled, and issued a groveling apology. "In my heart I knew it was wrong," whimpered Jay.
I'm going to cling desperately to the hope that Jay is being insincere, and just groveling to make these nuisances shut the hell up. I know, it's a thin hope; but if even the comedians are surrendering, the war is well and truly lost.
Item: Finally, get ready for the four-day week.
We forget that the five-day week is a 20th-century invention, with Henry Ford usually given credit for introducing it in manufacturing. It was slow catching on. My first job as a teacher in England in the late 1960s was at a tony boys' school still on a six-day schedule.
Will VDARE.com take up the four-day week? Will Radio Derb be going to tape on Thursday? So far I haven't heard anything, but you never know. Perhaps soon I shall be sighing along with the Spaniards and Indians: "Thank God it's Thursday!"
08 — Signoff. And that's all I have for you, ladies and gents. Welcome to Spring — a bright and lovely one so far, here on Long Island.
Living as I do on a lofty ethereal plane of pure intellection, I am not much acquainted with the trivialities of popular culture. For instance, I did not know until I read Charles Blowhard's column in the March 3rd New York Times that there was a cartoon character named Speedy Gonzales. I say "was" because this character disappeared from American screens sometime in the early 2000s on grounds of political incorrectness.
As Blowhard explains, Speedy Gonzales "popularized the corrosive stereotype of drunk and lethargic Mexicans." Well, that won't do, will it? Good riddance to him. Although strangely, according to Wikipedia, quote:
Despite such controversy over potentially offensive characterizations, Speedy Gonzales remained a popular character in Latin America.
However, although I missed Speedy Gonzales the cartoon character, I did grow up with a two-years-older sister who owned a record player. (If you don't know what a record player was, you could ask Joe Biden. [Clip.]) As a result, I got thoroughly imprinted in my teens with all the pop music of the late fifties and early sixties. One of my sister's favorites was Pat Boone — still with us, bless him, at age 86.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Pat Boone "Speedy Gonzalez."]