01:38 Local elections. (Republicans don’t like their party.)
09:57 Lawn Guy Land goes red. (Radio Derb’s home turf.)
15:28 Miami debate. (Much border talk.)
21:14 Trump in Hialeah. (The crowd liked it.)
32:56 The Trump show trial. (Giggling judge, gloating A-G.)
40:07 Hope for the rule of law? (AI bots negotiate a contract.)
41:17 Barbra scolds Siri. (Watch that alveolar fricative!)
42:30 Putin declares candidacy. (It’ll be a nail-biter.)
42:52 A nation humiliated. (Muslims ruin Remembrance Day.)
45:30 Black women at the top. (In high demand.)
46:58 The King’s Speech. (U.K. to ban fags.)
48:08 Signoff. (For Gov. Ron.)
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Welcome, listeners. That was a blues guitar version of Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 and this is your sturdily genial host John Derbyshire with commentary on the week's news.
The news this week was dominated by politics. On Tuesday there were nationwide elections for state and local offices; Wednesday evening we got the third GOP presidential candidates' debate in Florida; there was a concurrent speech, also in Florida, by former President Donald Trump; and there were developments in the New York show trial of Trump, which is of course an entirely political event, nothing to do with law or justice.
That's been a lo-o-o-ot of politics — a bit too much for my stomach, to tell the truth. I shall do my best with it, though, so here goes.
02 — Local elections. First, the results from Tuesday's state and local elections. "Clearly disappointing for Republicans," said the Washington Post; and even discounting for the Post being left-liberal, it's hard to argue with their judgment there.
The biggest disappointments were in Virginia, where the GOP lost the lower house of the state legislature and failed to capture the upper house; and then Kentucky, where Daniel Cameron, that state's first black Attorney General, failed to defeat the incumbent Democrat for Governor. That Kentucky incumbent Democrat actually increased his vote lead over the one in his 2019 victory.
It's a bit odd that the GOP should suffer these disappointing results when, by all national polls, the nation's Democratic President and administration are unpopular and there is widespread public dissatisfaction on issues like the cost of living, uncontrolled mass immigration, and federal spending. It's especially odd in a "red" state like Kentucky. (Atlantic magazine this week actually called Kentucky "deep red.")
The abortion issue is taking a lot of the blame. That Kentucky challenger Daniel Cameron, who lost to the incumbent Democrat, had a strong anti-abortion record.
For those of us who couldn't care less one way or the other about abortion, and who believe that on a list of deal-breaker issues for a rational voter it should rank around number 47, it is annoying that this issue has such prominence in our political life.
Plainly, though, a lot of Americans care much more than we do, either on one side or the other, and they have every right to vote accordingly. Since the Dobbs decision two years ago put the matter in the hands of state legislatures, where it properly belongs, abortion has become a major issue in state and local elections.
Will it go on being that way? Or shall we, after a couple more years, reach an equilibrium where all fifty states have settled the issue, each to the general satisfaction of its citizens? Or will one or other of the activist sides somehow raise it to a subject for federal legislation?
Time will tell. Wherever it goes, we of the couldn't-care-less demographic will just have to deal with it.
Meanwhile, a minority of voters would like a total ban on abortion — at the extreme, even in cases of rape or incest; while another minority want abortion without limits — at the extreme, up to and even after birth. The majority of Americans, like me, think abortion should be lawful up to some reasonable point in pregnancy — twelve or fifteen weeks sounds about right.
The moderate majority dislike the first minority view (the ones who want a total ban) more than they dislike the second (no limits at all). A charitable interpretation of this is that the majority see it as an issue of personal liberty, a cherished value for Americans. A less charitable explanation might be that anti-abortion activists match too easily to the stereotype puritanical religious scold, a stock villain in the modern American imagination, while pro-abortion activists don't summon up anything much from folklore.
Whatever the explanation, the fact that the moderate majority dislike anti-abortion activists more than they dislike pro-abortion activists is an issue for Republicans, as anti-abortion activists are invariably Republican. A candidate known to be strongly anti-abortion will lose more of the moderate middle than one strongly pro-abortion; so there are more lost Republican votes in the issue than lost Democrat votes.
That's the state of affairs we currently have to deal with, while of course exerting whatever powers of persuasion we have in favor of the moderate majority view.
I think there's more to Tuesday's disappointments than the abortion issue, though. The blogger Z-man nailed it in a post on Wednesday. Quote:
The Republicans have been vexed by one primary complaint for close to a decade. The people they want to swindle into voting for them do not like them very much. In fact, they went so far as to vote for the one guy the party said was off-limits in 2016, Donald Trump. Despite the party's best efforts to rid themselves of this troublesome man, the rank-and-file voters still prefer him over whatever the party offers as an alternative.
I think that's a key insight. Democrat voters like their party more than Republican voters like theirs. It's true for me: I've been a reliable Republican voter for as long as I've been a citizen, but I don't much like the Republican Party. It's just the lesser of two evils: the more tolerable wing of the Uniparty.
Here's a little thought experiment you might try. Imagine a Democrat equivalent of Donald Trump: a noisy outsider running for President on the Democratic Party ticket, detested by the Party establishment — not to mention the media, the academy, etc. — triumphing over all the Party regulars.
Can you imagine that? I can't. Democrats like their Party regulars. Republicans don't much like theirs.
03 — Lawn Guy Land goes red. Tuesday's news wasn't all bad for Republicans. One particularly bright spot was right here on Long Island, where stands Radio Derb's magnificent state-of-the-art recording studio.
Just to remind you of the terminology: Long Island is an actual geographical island, stretching 120 miles from west to east. The western thirteen percent of it, however, is part of New York City, the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, looking further west across the waters to the rest of the City.
In common usage, unless the speaker is being obviously and explicitly geographical, the phrase "Long Island" refers to the other 87 percent of the actual, physical island. The inner-suburban county of Nassau occupies twenty of those 87 percent and Suffolk county the rest.
If someone tells you he lives in Long Island, it's highly un-likely he's a New York City resident. Almost certainly he lives in Nassau or Suffolk. If he's from Brooklyn or Queens he'll say he lives in New York City.
Your genial Radio Derb host lives in Suffolk County, just over the border from Nassau. This part of Suffolk is outer-suburban. Further out east, Suffolk is more spacious and rural. There are working farms, both corn and horn, and wineries, and a busy fishing industry.
So that's the setting. What happened to Long Island, those two big suburban-and-rural counties, in Tuesday's elections? We went solid Republican, that's what. Quote from Tuesday's New York Post, quote:
Republicans painted Long Island completely red Tuesday night with the party's candidate Ed Romaine winning a landslide victory against Democrat David Calone to become Suffolk County executive.
The GOP now occupies all the countywide seats in Nassau and Suffolk Counties — both county executive seats, the district attorney and comptroller's offices, as well as all four congressional seats.
Romaine sailed to victory with 56 percent of the vote, beating Calone by more than 26,000 votes …
Longtime analysts of Long Island politics said they could recall only one brief period in the last 60 years when the GOP was this dominant.
Ed Romaine is our first Republican county executive for twenty years.
Analysts tell us that the Biden administration's open-borders policy was a factor. New York City Mayor Eric Adams hasn't succeeded in dumping any big number of his illegal aliens on us here in Nassau and Suffolk; but suburban folk closely watch what's happening in the big city and they know he'd like to.
Mayor Adams is a Democrat; so is Kathy Hochul, New York State's Governor; so of course is President Biden. The stupendous mess they've made with their open-borders and "sanctuary city" lunacy is all too visible this close to New York City, and it's turned off a lot of Democrats.
That, and the cost of living in a place that's already pricey, and Long Island Republicans being more moderate on abortion than their Bible Belt colleagues, did the trick.
I suspect, although it hasn't been much talked about, that October 7th was also a factor. The proportion of Jews here is a lot higher than the U.S.A. average. The antics of the congressional Squad, and Joe Biden's declaration of war on Islamophobia, can't have gone down well with them.
This was the third of these debates. Watching the first one back in August I recorded the following, quote:
Watching that televised debate for the GOP candidates last week, for a moment I had the thought that I was watching something irrelevant; the acting-out of some formal ritual that no longer has any actual significance, from which nothing of any consequence will follow.
I've gotten the same vibe from debates number two and three. In the case of this one, though — number three — the vibe was somewhat muted. The reason for that is that this one was less of a circus than the previous two; and the reason for that is that there were only five candidates on stage, as against eight in the first debate and seven in the second.
My overall impression was that these five candidates played the same roles as before, but amplified. DeSantis was even more the normal guy; Haley even more the neocon world-saver; Christie even more the light relief; Scott even more the likeable no-hoper; Ramaswamy even more the obnoxious teenager.
As before, I pulled up a transcript and keyed Ctrl-F on "i-m-m-i-g-r." Only two hits, down from six in the last debate. One of the two was a debate moderator asking a question about Venezuela, nothing directly to do with immigration.
The second was Ron DeSantis replying to a question about — guess what — abortion! He told an uplifting story about a Florida Supreme Court judge he'd appointed. The judge was an immigrant from Jamaica. Her mother, who was poor, had contemplated abortion but decided against it. Uh-huh …
OK, Gov. Way to skip around the abortion question. We get that you're disposed against abortion. What we want to know is: If elected President, will you try for federal legislation on abortion, or will you leave it with the states, where Dobbs put it and where it belongs?
Having struck out with Ctrl-F on "i-m-m-i-g-r.", I fell back on Ctrl-F "b-o-r-d-e-r." That was more fruitful: 39 hits, only four from moderators. Of the 35 mentions by candidates, Senator Tim Scott was out ahead with eleven, DeSantis and Ramaswamy eight each, Haley and Christie four each. Representative samples, with occasional comments from me.
So, some good feisty talk there from the candidates. If any of these people were to make it to the White House, I imagine we'd get some good feisty executive orders, as we did when Trump made it in 2017.
Shall we get any legislation, though? This is the Republican Party, remember — the party of Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham, the party that elevated Paul Ryan, dumped Jeff Sessions, and sidelined Kris Kobach and Steve King.
I tried a couple more Ctrl-Fs: "Birthright" and "E-verify." No hits on either.
Leaving aside world-saver Nikki Haley, who for all our sakes should be kept as far away as possible from the nuclear football, this was not a bad cast of candidates. Perhaps one or two of them could beat the Democrats next year. The question is, though, can any of them beat the Republican Party?
The rally was actually in Hialeah, a working-class suburb of Miami that is 95 percent Hispanic. Almost all of those Hispanics are of Cuban extraction; a high proportion are Trump fans. There just seems to be something about having lived in Cuba, or having family members who lived there, that makes you a Trump fan.
Trump's rally was a big success. He spoke for an hour and twenty minutes; often rambling inconsequentially, as he often does, but keeping the crowd's enthusiasm alight.
He came out particularly strong on illegal immigration. Rather than tell you second-hand what he said, I'll give you the man himself. Here's three minutes of Donald Trump at Hialeah.
[Clip: On Day One I will stop the invasion of our southern border. We will stop it.
One-point … think of this: One-point-five million people in my opinion are coming in every two months. I think the number's going to end up being not three million people, not five, not seven, not ten that you hear; the real number, you know, talking about gotaways … you know, the gotaways are many, many times the ones they catch — I think the number's going to be more than fifteen million people, which is larger than New York State. [Cheers.] Thank you.
Under Biden the U.S. has become the dumping ground of the world. Inmates are being emptied out of their prisons, insane asylums, and mental institutions, and they're pouring into the United States.
Think of it: empty insane asylums. That's a bad word. My people say: "Please don't use those words, Sir." Why? "Because it's so nasty." Well, that's true. Now an insane asylum is Silence of the Lambs. Anybody ever hear of Hannibal Lecter? [Voices from crowd: "Yeah!"] He was a nice fellow. But that's what's coming into our country right now.
And mental institutions, which is a couple of degrees below that. And prisons and jails — there's a little difference. And they're coming in in levels never seen before — probably never seen before in any country. There's never been anything like this. Our country is being invaded! This is an invasion. It's an invasion.
A few months ago right here in Florida a sadistic illegal alien in Lee County was charged with kidnapping a woman from a night-club, dragging her into the woods, beating her, raping her, and leaving her with what were called "bone-chilling injuries" so bad that she's still trying to recover. And she's still very close to death.
In Alabama a previously-deported illegal alien was charged with savagely murdering, just absolutely murdering, a 34-year-old woman and her 14-year-old son before dismembering their bodies while holding captive the woman's 12-year-old daughter, who watched.
This is the kind of monstrosity you'd expect from terrorists in the Middle East, but it's happening right here because of crooked Joe Biden. It's right here, Florida; in our country, all over our country.
On Day One I will terminate every open borders policy of the Biden Administration. [Crowd cheers.] And we will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history. [Prolonged loud cheering.] So sad we even have to talk about this. Wouldn't it be great if we could just talk about fixing our country and making it great without having to do all this? But we have no choice.]
As I said, some rambling, and not always coherent. Is there actually a difference between "insane asylums" and "mental institutions" — the latter, according to Trump, "a couple of degrees below" the former? Beats me.
The crowd liked it, that's the main thing.
It might not be just empty bluster, either. You may remember Radio Derb reporting to you a few months ago that there had been a small flurry of news stories — The Economist, The New York Times — telling us that, quote:
Trump and his people today, with think-tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the America First Policy Institute in the lead, are making sure that a second Trump term will hit the ground running, policies and policy-makers all set to go.
The premise there was that Trump and his people had entered 2017 totally unprepared for office, and his term had suffered accordingly. They determined not to repeat that mistake.
Well, the BBC News website last Sunday posted yet another of those "What a Donald Trump second term would look like" prognostications. That was the actual title: What a Donald Trump second term would look like. Sample quote:
For those wondering what Mr Trump intends to do if American voters send him back to the White House in 12 months, the former president is laying it all out.
It's there in bite-size chunks on his campaign website, it's heard at his rally speeches and it's documented by people he has entrusted to work on his second term preparations.
They call the plan Agenda47 — a reference to Mr Trump becoming America's 47th president if he wins.
So presumably that's what we were hearing from Trump there in Hialeah Wednesday evening: some nuggets from Agenda47.
Trump sounds like he's blowing out hot air, the same way he sounded back in 2016. This time, though, there is some serious preparation behind it. So say the BBC, The New York Times, and The Economist. I hope they're right.
Our ruling class seems determined to ensure that neither is the case. A prime exhibit here is the trial currently being conducted in New York City, supposedly over Trump having inflated the value of his properties for financial advantage.
The remarkable thing about this trial is how brazen it is. There is none of the rigor and solemnity of a proper judicial proceeding. The judge — there is no jury, I don't understand why — the judge is a clown, grinning inanely and wisecracking as court business proceeds.
Frequently present in the public section of the courtroom is New York State Attorney General Letitia James, gloating at the fruition of her four-year vendetta against Trump and his family — fulfilling a promise she made when campaigning for the A-G position in 2018. Quote from The Washington Post, December 19th that year, quote:
During the campaign, James, a Democrat, said she intends to aggressively investigate Trump's businesses and finances. On the night of her victory, she stood in front of supporters in Brooklyn and all but declared a war against Trump: [Inner quote.] "I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn." [End inner quote.]
Note that the A-G intended to "aggressively investigate." If there had been any civil or criminal complaint against Trump, the Post doesn't mention it.
This seems to me very shocking. If there's a complaint, the A-G should of course investigate it; but can she really "aggressively investigate" where there's no complaint? On what grounds: that she heard a rumor? Had a dream? Read it in her horoscope?
But I'm just revealing my own naïvety here. Reading further down that Washington Post article, I come to this, quote:
James's bluntness about Trump is not unheard of, as Democratic and Republican state attorneys general become more partisan and use their office to file lawsuits against the other party, said Paul Nolette, a Marquette University political science professor. Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott (R), for example, often joked that when he was attorney general, he would get up in the morning, sue President Barack Obama and go home.
So a state Attorney General doesn't even have to pretend to initiate litigation impartially. He can be as partial as he pleases.
So much for the dignity of the law. Letitia James is a particularly repulsive specimen of the politicized state A-G, but she is not at all unique, if the Washington Post can be believed.
Here's a question for someone with better research skills than I have. We have two instances of Letitia James "aggressively investigating" people and enterprises against whom, so far as I know, no formal complaint has been lodged. The two instances we have are (1) Donald Trump and his family and businesses, and (2) VDARE.com.
So, my question: Does Letitia James have any aggressive investigations ongoing against people or organizations that are not active on the political right? Does she have anything ongoing against Black Lives Matter? Bill de Blasio? the Southern Poverty Law Center? Bernie Sanders?
To ask the question is to answer it.
Is there no remedy for this? Are our property and our very liberty held only at the whim of powerful state officials? Sure, Trump will appeal whatever sentence this jeering, capering judge awards him. How long will that take, though? And how much will it have cost?
This is nothing like the law as I have always supposed it to be. Earlier this week, after Trump had vented about the brazen unfairness of the process he is being dragged through, Judge Engoron stopped sniggering for long enough to tell Trump's lawyers they should control their client, adding that, quote: "This is not a political rally." End quote.
As Michael Goodwin observed in Tuesday's New York Post, quote from him:
He's right — it's a political trial, not a rally.
Over in London, England two Artificial Intelligence bots have negotiated a contract. This was accomplished at a firm named Luminance, described as "a lawtech firm," whatever that means. Quote:
The AIs went back and forth over the details of a real Non-Disclosure Agreement between the company and proSapient, one of Luminance's clients.
The contract was finalised within minutes and the only time a human was required was to add their signature.
How soon can we get one of those AI bots elected New York State Attorney General? Can't be soon enough for me.
This came to light when the lady overheard Siri, who is the computerised assistant in an Apple smartphone, render her name as Strei-zand, with the second alveolar fricative voiced. It should be unvoiced: Strei-sand.
Ms Streissssand was so upset by this she called Apple CEO Tim Cook to complain. Mr Cook of course hastened to correct Siri's pronunciation.
Yo, Tim: it's "DAH-bi-shuh," not "DER-bee-SHY-er." Can you fix that, please?
Item: Vladimir Putin has decided that he will be a candidate in Russia's presidential election next March, running for re-election.
That should be a real nail-biter. They'll be glued to their TV sets all over Russia.
Item: Tomorrow, Saturday, is Remembrance Day in the U.K., when Britons remember those who died in the line of military duty. It's a solemn occasion, which Britons take seriously. Quote from me, writing about this 22 years ago, before I got naturalized, quote:
I think every country reserves a special place in the collective memory for her bloodiest war. For the U.S., that was the Civil War, which killed more Americans — from a smaller population — than all other wars since, combined. For us English, the Great War was WW1, and to this day we wear poppies in our lapels on Remembrance Day. The Flanders poppy was a symbol of all those who died on the western front in 1914-18, immortalized in the poem by John McCrae (who was actually a Canadian):
[Inner quote.] In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place … [End inner quote.]
However, the Muslims who have flooded into Britain this past fifty years, and who now occupy entire towns, will be having a mass demonstration against Israel in central London tomorrow, in defiance of legacy Brits conducting themselves in solemn remembrance of their ancestors' courage and sacrifices.
There may be counter-demonstrations by legacy British patriots; but if there are, the police will arrest them for disturbing public order, while smiling benignly on the shrieking Muslims. That's how bad things are over there now.
I weep for the country of my birth.
Item: Reading the news about our universities taking the side of Hamas after October 7th, I was a bit surprised to see that the President of Harvard University is a black woman.
I really shouldn't have been. Black women zoomed to the top of the status ranks when I wasn't paying attention. Educated black women are in terrific demand; every organization wants one. President of Harvard? Oh, definitely — got to be a black woman.
I don't want to be a wet blanket, but … isn't there an issue of supply and demand here? As the demand for black women in prestigious positions soars heavenwards, might the supply run out? I'm only asking.
Item: Tuesday this week Britain's King Charles delivered his first King's Speech at the opening of Parliament in London.
"King's Speech" is named that way only because the King delivers it. None of the words or thoughts in it are his. The majority party in Parliament, the party of the government, writes the speech: the Monarch just reads it. It outlines the government's legislative program for the coming year.
One item that caught my eye in this year's speech was proposed legislation to implement a gradual ban on smoking. Under the proposal it would be illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone born after January 2009.
Didn't anybody learn anything from Prohibition?
Next week is a tranquil pause between this week's elections and Veterans' Day observances, and Thanksgiving the week following. Enjoy that pause and start your preparations for Christmas and the New Year. And fellow suburbanites, get raking those leaves.
As I hope is plain from my comments earlier, I remain well-disposed to Governor Ron DeSantis and would not mind at all if he were to become our nation's next President. My signout music is intended in a good-humored spirit; I hope the Governor will accept it in that spirit. It's an old favorite of mine, the great Peter Dawson singing words by the great Rudyard Kipling, and I just couldn't resist it.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Peter Dawson, "Boots."]