03:03 The politics of exasperation. (Incompetence and impotence.)
10:10 Spending our money. (The Halls of Uselessness.)
16:55 Simpering for Ukraine. (America's Number One priority.)
21:50 Steve suspended. (For tweeting hatefacts.)
28:05 Musk, me, and social media. (Has Elon found his inner Derb?)
33:07 Monumental follies. (One down, one up.)
40:49 Identical twins are kind of similar. (Score one for the human sciences.)
42:37 Getting nosey about Ngozi’s charity. (Dubious finances? Surely not!)
44:29 Mysteries of nature. (A hot-button issue.)
45:11 Signoff. (With Alma Cogan.)
01—Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was one of my favorite carols, O Little Town of Bethlehem, played there on handbells by the Chapter House Choir of York Minster. It comes with Christmas greetings from your tintinnabularily genial host John Derbyshire.
First I should apologize for the absence of a Radio Derb last week, our first absence from the Friday night airwaves since March of 2020. I was stricken by the flu.
My default attitude to minor illnesses of that sort is defiance. No damn fool pathogen is going to determine my work schedule! It is, however, an irreducible fact that in order to deliver a podcast you need to have a voice. At this point last week my normal speaking voice sounded like this. [Clip: Tuvan throat singing.] Er … wait … Sorry: I think I got my sound clips mixed up there. That is pretty much what I sounded like, though.
All is now well, I am glad to say. Thanks to the patient ministrations of Mrs Derbyshire and the sympathies and encouragement of numerous listeners—thank you!—I am back on the rails.
So let's take a look at the news. What have our nation's legislators been up to while I was lying there groaning on my bed of sickness? What, to put it in terms familiar to longtime Radio Derb listeners, what has been happening this past few days in the Halls of Uselessness?
02—The politics of exasperation. On December 13th I posted here at VDARE.com one of my monthly blogs titled "From Derb's Email Bag." In among the items there I mentioned the widespread failure in the commentariat to note the distinction between a Bill and an Act. That was in regard to what everyone was calling "the EAGLE Act," a piece of legislation designed to relax the rules on guest workers. Legislation only becomes an Act, I grumbled, when it's been passed into law. While going through the legislative process it's just a Bill.
An old friend of mine who keeps a close eye on Congress as part of his job emailed in to say, quote:
Bill? Act? Does anything Congress does matter anymore? As Gibbon wrote: [Inner quote.] "The senate of Rome, losing all connection with the Imperial court and the actual constitution, was left a venerable but useless monument of antiquity on the Capitoline hill." [End inner quote.]
My friend is a sensible and learned fellow with many years' experience of Congress-watching. Coming from him, such negativity made a deep impression.
Just a few days after that I read Robert Weissberg's December 21st essay at American Thinker, title: "America's Growing Political Impotence." Again, this is not some random commentator in off the street. Weissberg is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, with decades of teaching that subject in prestigious universities and a shelf-full of books to his name. So again, Professor Weissberg's essay made a deep impression.
Professor Weissberg's thesis is the ineptitude and incompetence of our governments, mainly of the federal government, and the consequent lawlessness. He walks us briskly through all the familiar examples:
And so on. Observing all this folly and incompetence of course arouses indignation and embarrassment in patriotic observers. That's not the worst consequence, though.
The worst consequence, says Prof. Weissberg, is that as public confidence in the Government's ability to carry out basic executive functions drains away, the government loses its legitimacy. And when constitutional government loses its legitimacy, the door is left open for un-constitutional solutions. We enter into a zone the good professor calls "the politics of exasperation."
Sixty-seven years ago a British journalist coined the phrase: "the smack of firm government." In a constitutional republic we of course want the smack to be administered lawfully, with proper constitutional authority.
However, when no smacks are heard at all—when foreigners wander into our country in the millions with no supervision, when robbers walk away smiling from brief court appearances, when rioters receive vocal support from senior public figures, when mentally ill vagrants poop in our streets, when statues of our national heroes are vandalized without penalty, when kids are taught in public schools that men can give birth—when these outrages continue year after year with no smacks at all, then citizens begin to long for the sound of smacking, constitutional or otherwise.
That's a great danger; but that, according to Prof. Weissberg, is where we are headed. I believe he's right.
03—Spending our money. It's not that the federal government is inert, doing nothing at all. It sometimes does big, bold things.
This week, for example, it passed a budget, laying out federal spending for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2023. Just to remind you: our Fiscal Year runs from October 1st to September 30th and is tagged with the calendar year in which it ends, so we are currently almost three months into Fiscal Year 2023.
Uh … Since we are already that deep into Fiscal 2023, isn't current federal spending according to the budget for that year? So that the budget for Fiscal 2023 already, like, exists? If the budget doesn't exist, how do the feds know how much they can spend, and on what?
Yes, there is supposed to be an orderly process like that; but because of the impotence and incompetence noted in the previous segment, it doesn't get followed. The last time we entered a fiscal year with a budget in place was, I think, back in the Clinton administration.
Nowadays Congress just passes ad hoc bills and resolutions whenever there's a danger that federal authority to spend will expire. That's what they did September 30th: passed a Continuing Resolution to keep funding the government through to mid-December.
So this week we needed a new spending bill to see our government safely through to next September 30th. We got one, and it's a whopper: 1.7 trillion dollars. That's a lot of dollars; so what's in the thing?
Most of it is basic stuff, funding federal departments. There's $39 billion for the Justice Department, for example. That includes extra funding so they can, quote, "support prosecutions related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol and domestic terrorism cases," end quote.
So if you were worried that the FBI might not be able to afford continuing to hunt down people who wandered into the Capitol two years ago, or might no longer have the funds to drag protesting parents away from school board meetings … set your mind at rest, Comrade.
There's a lot of silly and obnoxious stuff too, though. Reading the New York Post report on the bill my eye was stopped dead at seeing $200 billion for the Gender Equity and Equality Action Fund, a global program to stop men beating their wives in Pakistan. Whoa! Two hundred billion, really?
Actually no, not really. With tabloid sources it's always wise to check. That $200 billion is a typo for $200 million. Phew! Nobody could object to the feds spending $200 million on those Pakistani wife-beaters, but $200 billion's a bit of a stretch.
Head Start caught my eye too. That's a federal program to get educational and nutritional services to preschool kids from poor families, so that by the time they enter full-time schooling they're ahead of the game.
Head Start is the program that never dies. It's been on the road for 58 years now. Every so often a study is carried out to see if it has any long-term effects on kids' school performance. Every durn time the answer comes back, "no, no long-term effect at all," and every durn year Congress jacks up the funding. In this bill Head Start gets twelve billion, and that's not a typo. Twelve billion dollars more for a program that has been accomplishing nothing at all for nigh-on sixty years.
What about our immediate concerns, though? What about the crisis at our southern border, for example? OK, Ctrl-F "border," whaddawe got?
In total, the bill designates $410 million dollars for "enhanced border security" in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Oman. Jordan is guaranteed at least $150 million from the total allocation.
A hundred and fifty million for the border security of Jordan? What about our border? Oh yes, quote:
The spending bill also would extend a prohibition last year on using funds to construct border fencing in certain areas.
So that's an explicit prohibition on funding for our own border security. At this point you have to think that the congresscritters are just screwing with us.
04—Simpering for Ukraine. What about plucky little Ukraine? Is there funding for them in the omnibus bill?
You bet there is. Aid to Ukraine is one of the biggest single items in the bill: $45 billion dollars. That's more than 2½ percent of the total $1.7 trillion—better than one dollar in forty. Put it another way, that's $365 per U.S. household—just exactly a dollar a day.
How much of that $45 billion—which, by the way, is on top of $48 billion we've already provided—how much of it will actually help Ukraine fight off the Russian invasion and how much will end up in the Cayman Island bank accounts of Ukrainian oligarchs and foreign leeches like the Biden family, I do not know.
Once again: As a nationalist, and as a simple matter of international order and justice, I'd like to see Ukraine win this war. To do that, they are of course going to need a lot of help. That help should be coming from their fellow Europeans, who have three times Russia's population, five times Russia's wealth, and two nuclear-armed powers among them.
We are the U.S.A., a busy commercial republic in the Western Hemisphere, quote: "the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all … the champion and vindicator only of her own."
Have we really learned nothing from twenty-one years of futile missionary wars and playing world policeman while discouraging our own actual policemen from doing their job? Apparently so.
If further evidence of this were needed, our federal legislators eagerly provided it on Wednesday this week. That was when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed a joint session of Congress, our own Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi simpering and giggling on the podium behind him.
The congresscritters were simpering and giggling along with the ladies, or at any rate repeatedly standing and applauding through Zelensky's speech. Not all of them, mind; there was a handful of exceptions. Newsweek magazine counted seven, all House Republicans, who stayed in their seats during at least some of the standing ovations.
Oh, you want their names? Happy to oblige. The seven non-simperers were, according to Newsweek, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, Andrew Clyde, Diana Harshbarger, Warren Davidson, Michael Cloud, and Jim Jordan. All Republicans. Thanks to all of them for taking a stand … I mean, keeping a seat, against the general hysteria.
Which was of course bipartisan. Here in fact was Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republicans in the U.S. Senate, speaking on Tuesday, the day before Zelensky's address. He was actually speaking in reference to the Omnibus Spending Bill.
[Clip: Providing assistance for the Ukrainians to defeat the Russians—that's the Number One priority for the United States right now, according to most Republicans. That's how we see the challenges confronting the country at the moment.
The Number One priority for the United States right now, according to Radio Derb, is to avert the trend identified by Professor Weissberg: the remorseless trend towards a politics of exasperation.
05—Steve suspended. In my December 9th podcast I mentioned having attended an early round of Christmas parties that week, all of them in Manhattan. That was probably where I got the flu: not from the partygoers, but from riding into Manhattan on the Long Island Railroad, then across the city on the subway. Those durn viruses saw me coming.
Be that as it may: at one of those parties I met an old acquaintance from my National Review days twenty years ago. I'll call him Jeff; neither of the common spellings of "Jeff/Geoff" has any letter in common with his actual name.
Jeff wasn't a staffer at the magazine, nor even a very frequent contributor—he may have been an intern, but the recollection is vague. At any rate our paths crossed. We agreed about a lot of things, including things about which we dis-agreed with National Review's editorial line—he somewhat more boldly than me, I'm a bit ashamed to say.
Well, Jeff graduated law school, married a young lady I knew quite well, and is now, twenty years on, a family man with a very successful legal career.
I was glad to renew the acquaintance. We sat chatting for a while. It turned out that Jeff, like me, is a major Steve Sailer fan. We enthused to each other about Steve's work and agreed that, if this republic survives, there will one day be statues to Steve in its public squares.
I boasted, truthfully, that Steve once slept over at my house in Long Island. Jeff was impressed and surmised that might, in some enlightened future, make my humble dwelling a place of pilgrimage. Were we getting a little carried away there? I don't think so …
Jeff and I can't be the only Steve enthusiasts. There's a mighty host of them out there. All of us are grinding our teeth this week at the news that Steve's Twitter account has been suspended. Why? Because Steve posted a tweet saying, in its entirety, tweet:
Blacks suffer and perpetrate the majority of homicides/murders in the U.S., so any time there's a sizable change in the national trend, it's usually driven by changes in black behavior. During the BLM eras, black homicides and black traffic fatalities have trended together.
That's just a plain statement of empirical fact, fully supported by statistics from the CDC and the FBI. (Steve provides links at his blog.) He appealed the suspension, but they refused his appeal.
This is the degraded, enstupidated condition of public discourse about human nature and the human sciences in the West today. It infuriates me, and I hope it does you too.
Just to punch back against the enforced stupidity there, I'll read you what I said on the Acknowledgments page of my 2009 book We Are Doomed. After the usual thanks to my publisher, editors, and literary agents I added this, quote:
In writing this book, I have borrowed pretty freely from the online writings of my friend Steve Sailer. As well as some ideas, my borrowings include entire phrases—Steve is a master of the memorable phrase. "Invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the world" is one of his coinages. I took "Yale or jail" from Steve, thinking it was his, but he tells me he got it from education reformer John Gardner. I am sure there are other Sailerisms in my text. I have used some of Steve's data, too. He is a great quantitative journalist: I once heard him describe himself as "the only Republican that knows how to use Microsoft Excel" (which may very well be true). In a sane republic, Steve would have some highly-paid position advising the government, or a professorship in social science at some prestigious university. In the nation we actually live in, Steve can only be a guerrilla intellectual, emerging from the maquis now and then to take a few sniping shots at what George Orwell—Steve's greatest hero, and mine—called "the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls."
06—Musk, me, and social media. Did Elon Musk have something to do with Steve's suspension? I seriously doubt it. There aren't enough hours in his day for Musk to be engaged with Twitter at that level of detail. The probabilities are that either
I confess, though, that this is out of my zone of interest. I don't get social media. When Facebook first came up in the mid-2000s a friend showed me how to open an account, but I could never think of anything I wanted to do with it. Perhaps my account is still there; I have no idea.
I do have an active Twitter account. Everyone—including Steve Sailer—told me I should have one just to notify friends and followers when I post or publish something elsewhere. I dutifully do so.
As with Facebook, I can't think of any other way I want to be active with Twitter. I am, though, quite a keen passive user of the thing, reading the tweets of people I know. Occasionally I even tweet comments on them, so I guess I'm not a totally passive Twitter user. I sometimes use items I've found on Twitter as the basis for commentary here at Radio Derb.
With all that, I guess it's somewhat hypocritical of me to keep social media at arm's length. Perhaps I'm just being geezerish. I don't really get the early 21st century.
I still don't own a smartphone. We're now at the point when not having a smartphone is an occasional obstacle to getting some everyday task done. When I collide with that obstacle I borrow my wife's smartphone, or a friend's. More hypocrisy, you'll say, and I guess you're right.
Smartphone, social media, … I just don't like 'em. When I'm browsing Twitter there's a voice in my head saying: "This is a total waste of time, Derb."
When I walk down the street among people all staring at their smartphones, or doing the texting thing with their thumbs, or when I'm in a subway carriage full of people with not a book or magazine among them, only phones, or in a diner or restaurant where couples sit across from each other not talking, just each absorbed in the smartphone—I thought that was a joke when I first heard about it, but now I see it everywhere—when I see these things I get a big surge of negativity.
Am I trapped in some 1950s sci-fi dystopia? I want to scream at the people: "Look up, for goodness' sake! Look around you! It's called Reality! And it's great! …"
Malcolm Muggeridge wrote of his friend George Orwell that, quote: "He loved the past, hated the present, and dreaded the future." End quote. I'm getting that way myself.
My failure to engage much with the zone of smartphones and social media disqualifies me from commenting on those topics at any length, so I don't. I will just venture this, going back to Elon Musk.
Judging by his recent activities, I think Musk regrets ever having had anything to do with Twitter. It's a tar-baby he'd like to get unstuck from.
Or maybe, just maybe, Musk has discovered his inner Derb. He doesn't really like social media either, and thinks it's a waste of time.
07—Monuments: One down, one up. It was my immense good fortune that my Great Birthday Civil War Battlefields Tour took place in 2015, when the splendid Monument Avenue in the city of Richmond still had its monuments. I clearly remember strolling down that avenue admiring the monuments of Confederate heroes on display. It was beautiful, beautiful.
Our cultural revolution had not, at that point, really gotten up to speed. It wasn't until the George Floyd national hysteria of 2020 that Monument Avenue fell into serious disfavor. The city authorities removed the monuments one by one; Robert E. Lee's beautiful equestrian statue was removed on September 8th 2021. After removal it was cut into pieces and discarded.
December 12th this year, eleven days ago as I speak, the last statue owned by the City of Richmond came down. This one was not part of the Monument Avenue display, but at a traffic intersection in north Richmond. It was a statue of Confederate General A.P. Hill, who was killed at the Third Battle of Petersburg just a week before Lee surrendered at Appomattox.
The reason it took the Red Guards so long to get Hill's statue removed was that the Richmond statue actually marked the General's grave: Hill's corpse was interred beneath the statue's plinth. This wasn't the case with any of the Monument Avenue statues.
When the Richmond city fathers announced early this year that they were going to relocate the statue along with General Hill's remains, the General's descendants raised objections, so the removal was delayed by lawyering. Not all the issues have yet been resolved, but enough have for the city to remove the statue to storage and the General's remains to a cemetery.
Our own Paul Kersey did a fine indignant write-up of the event last weekend here at VDARE.com; I refer you to his account.
As one monument came down, another went up. In one of the nastiest symmetries I can recall in recent news, just one week after A.P. Hill's statue and remains were being consigned to oblivion in Richmond, Virginia a ceremony was taking place on 110th Street in New York City.
This was at the north end of New York's famous Central Park. One segment of 110th Street actually forms the park's northern perimeter. The park's northeast corner is where 110th Street meets Fifth Avenue. If you start from that corner and walk west, the next big Avenue, parallel to Fifth, is Malcolm X Boulevard. This is Harlem, see? The next two avenues you meet going west are Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard. Just so's you know where we are here.
So what was this ceremony happening last Monday at the northern perimeter of Central Park? It was the dedication of the Gate of the Exonerated.
So far as I can gather, there is no actual gate involved here; just a gap in the park's low wall, like all the other gaps that let you in off the street to Central Park's roads and footpaths. Alongside the gap, though, set into the stones of the wall, is a big eight-foot-long stone of different color inscribed with that name: THE GATE OF THE EXONERATED.
OK, so who are the Exonerated? They are the five teenage black and Hispanic hoodlums who helped beat and rape a white female jogger in the park back in 1989.
There is no serious doubt about the guilt of the five. I covered the essentials in a post here at VDARE.com three years ago, with many links to supporting information. Quote from that piece:
They were convicted by two separate juries and spent years in jail before crazy-liberal 90-year-old District Attorney Robert Morgenthau celebrated his retirement by vacating their convictions. New York City's communist mayor Bill De Blasio then awarded them forty million dollars from city funds.
The innocence of the Central Park Five is, however, an article of faith with the Red Guards, and probably with blacks at large. They were exonerated! Well, no, they weren't, not by any formal judicial process. They were set free, though, after just a few years in jail, and seem to have done well for themselves, or at any rate to have stayed out of trouble.
Their victim, Trisha Meili, is also still with us. She published a book about it all, and says she still has lingering after-effects from the brain damage her attackers inflicted. She was in a coma for twelve days after the assault.
So now General A.P. Hill, who fought and died in the service of what he sincerely believed to be his country, has lost his monument, and five teenage thugs who went out looking for solitary victims to rob, beat, and rape, have been given theirs.
Up is down, down is up, day is night and night is day.
08—Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Steve fans, and anyone interested in true facts about human nature, will enjoy this story from People magazine, December 5th.
Here are two identical twin sisters, Kayla and Kellie Bingham. Back in May of 2016 they were both second-year students at the Medical University of South Carolina.
They took an exam, sitting four or five feet apart but unable to see each other. A faculty member noticed that they fidgeted in similar ways, and that many of their incorrect answers to the exam questions were the same.
They were accused of cheating and their subsequent careers at the college went ahead under a cloud of distrust and gossip, to the degree that Kayla and Kellie both abandoned their hopes of a medical career and left the college.
In 2017 they filed a lawsuit against the college. At trial last month an expert on human genetics testified that the kinds of similarities that raised the accusation of cheating were normal for identical twins.
A jury found in the twins' favor and the court awarded them $750,000 each. Score one for the human sciences.
Item: Least surprising story of the week concerns the young black lady who took offense when an elderly white retainer, also a lady, at the court of the British monarch tried to engage her in conversation. Liberals all over were shrieking and fainting at the old lady's "racism."
The younger of the two parties in this story, the black one, runs a charity for, quote, "victims of abuse and violence within the African and Caribbean communities," end quote. So I guess this charity only caters to other black women. Is that legal in Britain? Apparently it is.
At any rate the charity gets government money from London's municipal government and other sources. They reported total income of £363,506 last year.
And all that money was spent helping poor battered black women, right? Apparently not. Questions have been raised, and the Charity Commission, which oversees charities in Britain, is undertaking an investigation.
A black-run charity with dubious finances … As I said, the least surprising story of the week.
Item: News from the fascinating world of zoology. Scientists in Australia have discovered that snakes, at any rate several species of snakes, have a clitoris.
I'm not sure I want to go any further with this story, but I am curious to know how the scientists found the durn thing. And then, follow-up question, how do the gentlemen snakes find it? Nature is full of mysteries.
09—Signoff. And that's your Christmas Radio Derb, ladies and gents. Thank you as always for your time and attention, also for your emails and, ah yes, Christmas Cards.
Concerning Christmas cards, my principal emotion at the moment is … guilt. I got way more cards than I sent out. A couple of weeks' illness didn't help; but to be honest, sheer disorganization is most of the problem—the failure to keep good year-on-year records. I'll try to do better.
In the meantime, on the universal and time-honored excuses that (a) something is better than nothing and (b) it's the thought that counts, here is an offering to anyone who sent me a Christmas Card but didn't get one from me.
The singer here is Alma Cogan, "the highest paid British female entertainer of her era" says Wikipedia, that era being the 1950s and early 1960s. Cogan died of stomach cancer aged only 34 and is now I think comprehensively forgotten, except, obviously, by me.
Although she was not sensationally gifted in any way, all through my childhood Alma Cogan sang bland, cheerful songs in a strong, pleasant voice that I remember with fond nostalgia—a sort of British Doris Day, but without the movie career. Here she was in a slightly scratchy 1954 recording singing about, yes, Christmas Cards.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Merry Christmas!
[Music clip: Alma Cogan, "Christmas Cards."]