Radio Derb: 2020 Coming, House Votes To Crush US Workers, Equal Justice (Not!), Etc.
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01m06s  Prospects for 2020.  (Post-debates review.)

06m50s  House votes to crush American workers.  (Why not supply & demand?)

13m48s  Equal justice under law, a fading memory.  (Life under Jim Snow.)

22m56s  The Indoor Relief for Trial Lawyers Act.  (Zadroga lives!)

31m09s  Storming the Panthéon.  (The beginning of Europe's end.)

32m55s  Metropolitan/provincial (1).  (No sex in the city.)

34m29s  Metropolitan/provincial (2).  (Cosmopolitan/communitarian?)

35m36s  Beto O'Rourke's ancestors owned slaves.  (British ones!)

37m02s  Zimbabwe hyperinflates.  (Again!)

38m43s  Remembering Apollo 11.  (Some reading matter.)

40m46s  Signoff. (You can so put ice in bourbon!)

01 — Intro.     Welcome, fellow dissidents! This is Radio Derb podcasting on behalf of, your one-stop source for all the topics our ruling class would prefer you not think about. That was one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches played on the organ of Derby cathedral, and this is your eponymously genial host John Derbyshire.

Yes: It's a Derb, Derb, Derb, Derb world. Here are some of its most recent absDerbities … sorry, I mean absurdities.


02 — Prospects for 2020.     A month ago, in my June 21st podcast, I took an early swing at guessing the result of next year's Presidential election. After carefully hedging myself around with warnings about how it was much too early to be making such guesses, I made one anyway. Trump, I said, will lose.

That was the week before the first Democratic candidates' debates. A very common email query I've been getting from listeners asks me whether, given the quantity of way-out-in-left-field weirdness on display in those debates, I still think Trump will lose.

Short answer: After those debates, I am less sure he's going to lose. When I made that June 21st podcast I thought he'd lose with probability 60-40. After the debates, I've ratcheted that down some. Fifty-fifty? Yeah, maybe. This early on, though, prediction really is a mug's game.

As I said back then, the biggest factor in Trump's defeat or victory will be the quality of the opposition. Watching the debates, the quality looked to me to be dismal.

That's me, though; and like you, like every other viewer, I brought my own biases to the armchair with me when I sat down to watch the debates. For calm prediction you have to try discounting for your biases.

I think, for example, that mass immigration — including mass legal immigration — is a simply terrible idea. That's a minority opinion, though. Wednesday this week Pew Research published some poll numbers on that. Here are a couple of opposing statements they put to respondents.

Statement 1:

America's openness to people from all over the world is essential to who we are as a nation.

Statement 2:

If America is too open to people from all over the world, we risk losing our identity as a nation.

Got that? First statement: concentrated immigration romanticism. Openness! Who we are! Second statement: concern about losing our national identity.

Which statement did Pew's respondents prefer? The first one, by 62 percent to 33, nearly two to one, "don't knows" not counted. Democrats went 86 to 11 for immigration romanticism; among Democrats, concern for our identity as a nation is pretty much a lunatic-fringe position. Even among Republicans, 37 percent went for the Who We Are flim-flam … although that is at least better than the result from the same poll last year, when Republicans were majority immigration romantics, 47 percent to 44. Signs of some awakening there, perhaps.

So the biases I brought to those debates are not widely shared. It follows that my overall reaction to the debates — something along the lines of, "what a bunch of crazy losers!" — was likely not the majority reaction.

And even among those crazy losers, there were degrees of craziness; and the babbling of the seriously deranged candidates like Marianne Williamson and Beto O'Rourke made the less-deranged ones look almost normal by comparison. I agree with Peter Thiel that Elizabeth Warren is dangerous; and I'm still keeping a wary eye on dark horse Amy Klobuchar.

And then, of course, there may be even darker horses out there. When my high-school bulletin board listed players for the next weekend's rugby game there was one name that showed up more than any other. He seemed to be listed as a player in darn near every game. The guy's name was of course A.N. Other.


03 — House votes to crush American workers.     Mass legal immigration, yes. I may think it's a terrible idea; but as that Pew poll shows, the nation at large doesn't agree with me.

Neither does Congress … which I guess you could argue is at least authentically democratic, small "d." July 10th the House of Representatives passed H.R.1044, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.

The adjective "high-skilled" there is misleading — intentionally so, of course. The immigrants being favored by this act are lower-middle-class drudge workers, mainly computer programmers, most from India and China. They know languages like JavaScript, which anyone with above-room-temperature IQ can learn in 24 hours, or PHP and C++, which I'll allow are harder but which a few months in trade school will get you capable at. We're not talking about Alan Turings here.

I know whereof I speak. I spent much of my working life doing the kind of work — commercial computer programming — that these immigrants are being brought in to do. It is, indeed, not rocket science.

The point of H.R.1044 is of course to provide cheap foreign labor to employers. You have no doubt heard the stories about big U.S. companies like Disney and Con Ed forcing employees to train their cheaper foreign replacements. H.R.1044 will swell the number of those replacements, further reducing the job opportunities for American college and trade-school graduates.

Demographically, it will also swell mightily the number of Indians settling in the U.S.A. Once upon a time we had a system of guest-worker visas to fill gaps in the workforce. When the visa expired, the guest worker went back to his home country. In fact, just to get the visa you had to show "nonimmigrant intent" — you had to show the visa officer that you didn't intend to stay in the U.S.A. permanently.

That's ancient history now. The rules have been relaxed so that it's easy to parlay a guest-worker visa into permanent residence — the Green Card — and thence to citizenship.

There are still currently, though, limits on the number of visas that any particular country can get in a given year. H.R.1044 eliminates those country caps. The incoming workforce, taking jobs that American college graduates should be taking, will be even more overwhelmingly Indian and Chinese.

The U.S. Senate is now mulling a bill of its own along the same lines. It's not altogether clear how this will go. Republicans still hold the Senate; and even among Democrats the flyover portion of the country, the portion I sometimes call Inlandia, is better represented in the Senate than the other portion, Coastal-stan.

These floods of cheap foreign techie labor are great for Coastal-stan, but they tick off a lot of Inlandia voters — voters in states like Kentucky, whose senior Senator is … who is it? … let me check … oh, yes: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

So while the eagerness of Republicans to lick the boots of their big-business donors and shaft American workers should never be underestimated, the outcome here is not a foregone conclusion.

In the general matter of bringing in foreign labor, I limp up once more to offer my proposal that we submit the whole process to the Law of Supply and Demand. Visas for guest workers in any line of work should be issued only when there is a clear and persistent shortage of native workers, signalled by a dramatic and prolonged rise in the wages on offer to such workers.

Even then I'd want a decent time to let Americans take up the slack. As I said, speaking as a person who has actually done computer-programming work, and hired and fired programmers, a few months in trade school will get any American with an IQ over 110 up to speed in PHP or C++. If wages for programmers are going through the roof, so will trade-school and Community College applications.

Only if that doesn't fix the supply problem should we bring in foreign guest workers; and even then, I can't see why we should offer them permanent residence.

We have north of 300 million citizens; so on a normal distribution around seventy million of us have IQ north of 110. Even if you discount for infants and seniors, there's plenty of coding talent there for Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, if the pay is right.


04 — Equal justice under law, a fading memory.     Marc Thiessen had an op-ed column this week poking fun at all the stern pronouncements we've had from senior Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Elizabeth Warren that, quote, "no-one is above the law."

They are speaking in reference to supposed misdeeds by President Trump, of course. Meanwhile, from the other side of their mouths, they are hyperventilating about how cruelly barbaric it is — "a crime against humanity," according to Kamala Harris, to enforce the people's laws on immigration.

The notion of fair laws impartially administered is one of the great glories of Anglo-Saxon civilization. As a reminder of how things go elsewhere, I refer you to an article written by President Xi Jinping of communist China, published over there February 19th, actual quote:

We must never follow the path of Western "constitutionalism," "separation of powers," or "judicial independence."

End quote. Mockery quotes there around those three terms.

That's what he said: I checked the original Chinese: 决不能走西方 "宪政"、 "三权鼎立"、 "司法独立" 的路子.

Our own ruling classes seem to agree with President Xi. Those lofty ideals of judicial independence and equal justice under law are looking pretty ragged in the U.S.A. right now. Illegal alien scofflaws enjoy the favor and protection of the most powerful people in the land. Violent anarchist gangs own the streets of Portland, Oregon, and no-one in authority wants to prosecute them.

Equal justice under law? Consider the case of James Fields, the young man charged with driving into a crowd of leftist protestors in Charlottesville two years ago. One person died and several were injured. Monday this week Fields was sentenced to life plus 419 years on state charges. That comes on top of last month's sentence of life imprisonment on federal "hate crime" charges.

To see the state of affairs in early 21st-century America, compare the case of John Harris White, which happened just down the road from me in Long Island, the only reason I remember it. Probably there are scores of similar cases nationwide.

John Harris White is black. So is his son Aaron. Back in August 2006, Aaron, then 19 years old, was thrown out of a party by other teens who thought, mistakenly he said, that he had threatened a girl.

Aaron went home, but some partygoers followed him in two cars. They made a scene in the street outside White's house, and seem to have trespassed into his driveway. White came out with an unlicensed handgun and confronted the teens. Daniel Cicciaro, 17 years old at the time, and white, was being particularly obnoxious, so John Harris White — who, remember, is black — shot him in the face, killing him.

White said the gun had gone off by accident. He was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and unlawful possession of a weapon. In March 2008 he was sentenced to two to four years imprisonment, which is way less than the 15 years maximum for second-degree manslaughter. He was then freed on bail pending an appeal.

The appeal dragged on for over a year, but in July 2010 White was finally locked up. He served just five months, then outgoing Governor David Paterson commuted his sentence, leaving him a free man. Did I mention that Governor Paterson is black?

Quote from CBS News at the time of the governor's commutation, quote:

Paterson said the five months John Harris White has served was enough time for the emotion-fueled 2006 shooting death of Daniel Cicciaro, 17. Paterson said everybody connected with the case had suffered enough, and White was released Thursday.

End quote.

Isn't that touching? Five months enough jail time for shooting a disorderly white teenager in the face. Everybody has suffered enough! It was emotion-fueled!

But if, panicked by a screaming mob, you drive into the mob and cause one to die, you get two life sentences plus 419 years. Nothing emotion-fueled about that situation! No governor is going to commute your sentence, certainly not the current Governor-weasel of Virginia.

Plus, the feds will hit you with a shelf-full of "hate crimes" charges, a thing John Harris White didn't have to worry about. The whole concept of "hate crime" is probably unconstitutional; but, like President Xi Jinping, we no longer "follow the path of Western 'constitutionalism.'"

Comparing the two cases, James Fields and John Harris White, it's hard to say the phrase "equal justice under law" without vomiting.

To be sure, there are plenty of ambiguities in both cases. The ambiguities in the James Fields case have been spelled out by Nicholas Stix here at In the matter of John Harris White shooting Daniel Cicciaro: the business of the gun going off by accident is fishy, and I don't think it was ever proved that Cicciaro was actually on White's property when killed. So, ambiguities all over.

None of that matters in the Who-Whom? world of current jurisprudence. John Harris White is black; the boy he killed is white; the governor was black. Five months.

James Fields is a neo-Nazi — he really is, although it's not illegal — while Heather Heyer was a "progressive," like Virginia's governor. Two life sentences plus 419 years.

Equal justice under law? [Laughter.]


05 — The Indoor Relief for Trial Lawyers Act.     It's a pretty good rule in the legislative life of our nation that any law bearing the name of some individual person is most likely a scam on behalf of the Trial Lawyers' Association. With that in mind, let me ask you: Does the name James Zadroga ring a bell?

Probably not, after all these years. Mr Zadroga got a law named after him: the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, signed by then-President Barack Obama in January 2011.

The Act honored Mr Zadroga posthumously: He had died five years before Obama signed the Act into law.

Mr Zadroga was a New York City police officer who had helped with recovery work on the ruins of the World Trade Center following 9/11. He subsequently developed some kind of constrictive lung condition, with a nagging cough and difficulty breathing. He died, as I said, in 2006, aged 34.

The actual cause of his death is much disputed. New York City's chief medical examiner concluded that it was nothing to do with the work at Ground Zero, contradicting the previous finding of a private pathologist.

The James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act got passed anyway, and federal and state legislators have been busy ever since with laws compensating persons claiming to have suffered health consequences from 9/11. Just last Friday the House of Representatives passed a bill that authorizes $10.2 billion for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.

When this bill came to the Senate, though, it hit a speed bump. The Senate has a rule, the Unanimous Consent rule, that allows a bill to pass through the chamber more speedily, proceeding to vote without a debate. Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York asked for this unanimous consent on Wednesday this week.

Not so fast, said Senator Rand Paul, the other Senator from Kentucky. Quote from him:

It has long been my feeling that we need to address our massive debt in this country — we have a $22 trillion debt, we're adding debt at about a trillion dollars a year … And therefore any new spending that we are approaching, any new program that's going to have the longevity of 70, 80 years, should be offset by cutting spending that's less valuable.

End quote.

That reference to "70, 80 years" relates to the re-authorization of the James Zadroga Act in 2015, which extended coverage to 2090.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah seconded Rand Paul's position, although not on the Senate floor, telling us he is, quote: "seeking a vote to ensure the fund has the proper oversight in place to prevent fraud and abuse," end quote.

This whole area is somewhat fraught. On the one hand, of course Americans at large owe a debt of gratitude to first responders — police and firemen — who dealt with the 9/11 aftermath. Some people might say it's mean-spirited to deny them anything they ask for. And then there are non-first responders: ordinary citizens who happened to be around when the air was filling with dust and smoke. It's possible in both cases that people suffered lung damage.

On the other hand, it's hard to see how a causal connection between being around Ground Zero and having a lung condition years later could be established. Mr Zadroga's case would be, you'd think, among the easiest to make that connection for: but professional pathologists couldn't even agree on that.

If I show up at some attorney's office eighteen years after the event with a nasty cough, and claim to have been a couple hundred yards away from Ground Zero the week after 9/11, should I get compensation?

And going back to first responders: Thanks once again, guys; but you belong to big, powerful public-sector unions who are endlessly generous with benefits and disability packages at, of course, the general public expense.

When James Zadroga retired from the police force with his nasty cough he got standard benefits from his twelve years on the force — nothing to do with any 9/11 fund, these were standard benefits — of around ninety thousand a year, inflation-proofed, all medical expenses covered free of charge … for life. He was 33 years old at this point.

Similarly, exposés of the sensational retirement, disability, and benefits packages for New York City firemen are a regular feature of the city's popular press.

Disability scams based on claims of conditions related to 9/11 crop up regularly. There was a huge one five years ago, the news reports decorated with pictures of supposedly disabled victims behaving very energetically. Quote from the New York Times on that one:

Former police officers who had told government doctors they were too mentally scarred to leave home had posted photographs of themselves fishing, riding motorcycles, driving water scooters, flying helicopters and playing basketball.

End quote.

So sure: Thanks yet again, in all sincerity, to the first responders — most especially to those who lost their lives when the Twin Towers came down — but on this week's events, I'm siding with Senator Rand Paul.


06 — Miscellany.     And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.

Imprimis:  The Panthéon is a grand 18th-century building in Paris where notable French people have been interred since the Revolution. Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are there; so are mathematicians Lagrange and Condorcet, novelists Victor Hugo and Émile Zola, physicists Pierre and Marie Curie, and many other notables of French national culture.

It was therefore very shocking to see a mob of several hundred young men rioting in the Panthéon last Friday. These were all blacks, illegal aliens from West Africa, demanding legal residence in France. After several hours they were removed by police, with 37 arrests made.

Listeners: Go to YouTube, put the phrase "black vests" in the search box — that's what the rioters call themselves, "black vests" — and watch the storming of the Panthéon. Then go to one of those Steve Sailer posts where Steve ponders what he calls "the world's most important graph."

Then give me your odds on European civilization surviving this century.


Item:  A couple of points on the metropolitan / provincial dichotomy. First point: If this got your interest, there's an article at The Atlantic by Derek Thompson, July 18th, title: The Future of the City Is Childless. Sample quote:

Today's cities … are decidedly not for children, or for families who want children. As the sociologists Richard Lloyd and Terry Nichols Clark put it, they are [inner quote] entertainment machines [end inner quote] for the young, rich, and mostly childless. And this development has crucial implications — not only for the future of American cities, but also for the future of the U.S. economy and American politics.

End quote.

I bet it does. Not only are cities becoming child-free zones, Thompson tells us, they're becoming sex-free zones. "No sex in the city." I leave that expression out there for some enterprising TV producer to pick up.


Item:  Second point on the Derb Dichotomy: A listener has alerted me to a forthcoming book out of Cambridge University Press, title The Struggle Over Borders: Cosmopolitanism and Communitarianism.

This is one of those academic books gathering up essays by different scholars on a single topic. The chapter headings are suggestive. Sample: "Why Are Elites More Cosmopolitan than Masses?" It looks like the book's Cosmopolitanism / Communitarianism distinction maps pretty well onto my metropolitan / provincial.

The book's not out yet, but I've pre-ordered it and shall report back when I've received and read it.


Item:  Beto O'Rourke has been weeping and flagellating himself over the discovery that his ancestors owned slaves.

Given that Beto's ancestors were presumably Irish, this is no news to me. Here is historian John Morris, writing about the British Isles in the early fifth century, when Irish warlords were raiding mainland Britain, quote:

After each expedition, some Irish captains settled in Britain, but many more came home, accompanied by young warriors enriched by slaves and other booty. The Irish word for slave-girl, cumal, became the normal standard of value, equivalent to three cows.

End quote. Yes, Beto, your ancestors had slaves — British slaves. Someone over there in Britain should be lobbying for reparations.



[ClipLady Bracknell: "To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, might be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."]

Just so. In a similar spirit, to suffer one bout of hyperinflation might be a nation's misfortune — in the aftermath of a devastating war, perhaps, as was the case with Germany in 1923. To then, a handful of years later, succumb to another bout of hyperinflation looks like serious fiscal incompetence.

That's what's happening in Zimbabwe. I have here among my curiosities a hundred-trillion-dollar bill from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. That was from back in 2008, when the country was undergoing serious hyperinflation.

They got out of that by the simple expedient of dropping the national currency and permitting commerce in foreign currencies, including but not limited to the U.S. dollar.

Now the government's reversed that policy — or just run out of foreign currency, I'm not sure which — and inflation is back to 100 percent a month.

Look on the bright side, though, Zimbabweans: At least you don't have to put up with white people bossing you around, like in the bad old days.


Item:  Finally, I cannot of course forbear noting the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing this weekend. I don't have anything original to say about the event, so I'll just direct your attention to some reading matter.

First, the best book I know of about the Apollo program is the one by Charles Murray and his wife Catherine, which I've been promoting since I found out about it early last year. At that time it was long out of print and you could only get beaten-up used copies. Now there is a spiffy new edition out, and an audiobook.

And then, some stuff of my own, written or posted at various times. On the fortieth anniversary I wrote my where-I-was-and-what-I-was-doing reminiscence for National Review: Go to my website, Opinions, The Straggler, and it's number 80. There's at least one other opinion piece too: "The End of a Dream," under Opinions, Math & Science, April 2011.

And speaking of that latter piece: I still, in idle moments, search image and newspaper websites, trying to find that news picture of me at the Soviet Embassy in London, February 5th 1964, greeting Valentina Tereshkova. If any listener with better internet search skills can locate the picture, I'll pay for a slap-up dinner for you and your significant other at the restaurant of your choice.


07 — Signoff.     That's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; and if, like the Derbs, you are in the track of this weekend's heatwave: brace yourselves!

Signout music, let's see … heat, heatwave, what comes to mind? … Well, ice comes to mind. Gonna need lots of ice to see us through this one. But then, thinking about ice, I have a spasm of guilt over my preference for putting ice in my bourbon. Among serious bourbon drinkers, that's a no-no.

Imagine my delight and relief, therefore, when a friend directed my attention to the YouTube channel In their July 13th posting, Rex and Daniel give their blessing to ice in the bourbon — with many conditions and qualifications, of course. They even tell us the best bourbons to drink with ice.

In gratitude for your having thus cleansed my conscience, guys, I know you won't mind if I borrow your signout music as a small tribute.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week.


[Music clip: The Chords, "Zippity Zum."]

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