[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches, organ version]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, from your euphemistically genial host John Derbyshire. Today, Friday the 12th, finds me in an unusually buoyant mood. I'll explain about that in due course. First, though, I need to lay down a small rhetorical marker. The headliner in the news as Radio Derb goes to tape here is President Trump's reported remark yesterday, Thursday, concerning certain of the world's nations. Our President, who thought he was speaking off the record, is said to have characterized those certain countries with a word it would not be proper to repeat on a family podcast. To further confuse the issue, the word is somewhat ambiguous. Did the President mean it to refer to a bodily orifice, or to a primitive type of privy? The best way to resolve that point is to look at what foreign translators have done with the word.
As far as I can discover, they have all taken the privy option. The Japanese media, for example, translated the President's expression to mean "countries like toilets." Other nations' translators left the second syllable of the offending word to shift for itself, concentrating on the first. So the French favored pays de merde, "countries of poop." The Germans I think retained some of the English ambiguity with Drecksloch. Loch is given by Cassell's German-English Dictionary as, quote, "hole, opening, cavity, orifice, aperture," end quote; but with a note that it is also a vulgar expression for the human heinie. One of the sample phrases offered by Cassell's is: aus einem anderen Loch pfeifen, literally "to whistle out of another hole," meaning to change one's tune. Dreck, however, embraces any kind of muddy or sludgy filth, not only excrement; so some ambiguity has been added there. Well, I leave curious listeners to pursue these linguistic byways for themselves. My only responsibility here is to find a workable euphemism on the assumption, which seems to be a fair one, that the President was referring to sanitary facilities, not anatomical features. Sharing a house as I currently am with a recently demobilized soldier, my first thought was to use "field latrine" as my euphemism. It's a bit cumbersome, though; and in our un-military age, not everyone might have a good mental picture to match the phrase. At last, after many hours of deep cogitation, I have settled on "outhouse." It's not totally satisfactory, I admit. An outhouse is a structure, with walls, a roof, and a door; the President's reference was to the main interior feature of an outhouse, not the whole structure. Still, it's the best I can do, and it does have the advantage of possessing the same number of syllables as the original. If you can come up with something better, by all means email me with it, and should there be need to refer to this incident in future, I'll replace my euphemism with yours. With that out of the way, let's look at the news, and at my currently buoyant mood. [Permalink]
02 — Temporary Protected Status, for ever. That rather long preamble was of course in reference to the President's supposedly having said on Thursday this week, reported quote: "Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They're outhouse countries … We should have more people from Norway." End quote. In a later remark, the President supposedly included Haiti on his category of outhouse countries.
The context here was the TPS program: Temporary Protected Status for foreign visitors stuck here when there exist, to quote the precise statute:
conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately
End quote. I covered TPS at length here on Radio Derb back in November. Nationals of ten countries currently enjoy TPS: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. To take Haiti as illustrative: There was a big earthquake there in 2010. As a result, 60,000 Haitians in the U.S.A., including many here illegally, were given TPS. Their TPS status was extended, extended, and extended until back in May last year, when General Kelly was running the Department of Homeland Security. Gen. Kelly announced that Haiti, after seven years and billions in foreign aid, was sufficiently recovered from the earthquake that TPS was no longer appropriate. He gave the Haitians another six-month extension, to January 22nd 2018 — i.e. ten days from now. The Haitians would be expected to go home by that date. Then the President moved Gen. Kelly to be White House Chief of Staff. The DHS was temporarily leaderless while a new Secretary was nominated and approved. During this intermission, the Deep State, in the person of a career bureaucrat named Elaine Duke, took it upon herself to extend TPS for Haitians to July 2019. We do now have a DHS Secretary again, and she announced this week that the July 2019 deadline is final. No more TPS for Haitians after that date. The same deadline is being applied to El Salvador. Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans goes back to their earthquake of 2001 — sixteen years. Sixteen years; and there are two hundred thousand of these Salvadorans. As I said in my November commentary: Peace is War, Freedom is Slavery, Temporary is Permanent. So that's what was under discussion at the White House on Thursday. As I told you last week, this week's big political feature has been the President meeting with a raft of congresscritters to talk about immigration legislation. Some of the critters want to give citizenship to these Temporarily Protected aliens. That's when our President reportedly made the offending remark about outhouse nations. I'll cover that White House meeting in just a moment. First, though: Was the President's remark fair? Let's investigate. I'd better issue a trigger warning here: The next segment deals unblinkingly with the issue of Third World sanitation.
Several bloggers unearthed a report from the NPR (National Public Radio) website, dated July 29th last year, headline: You Probably Don't Want To Know About Haiti's Sewage Problems, describing the state of sanitation in Haiti in fascinating detail. Samples from the NPR report:
You get the picture. I've spared you the more graphic details; but if you sometimes think you have the worst job in the world, by all means go read that NPR report, which describes the work of the latrine-cleaning guys. "Outhouse country" isn't a bad description for a nation of eleven million people with one poorly-maintained sewage treatment plant struggling to stay in operation. It's the same in black Africa. Ghana, for instance, is one of the more stable and peaceful nations in West Africa, a self-governing independent nation for more than sixty years. Here's a quote from a UNICEF report dated July 2016, quote:
Ghana has a very low coverage for wastewater and faecal sludge treatment … The national average for sewerage coverage is as low as 4.5 percent. Tema is the only municipality with a comprehensive sewerage system. Accra [that's the capital] has a sewerage system covering the State House and ministries area and parts of the Central Business District … The treatment facilities for both the Accra and Tema systems have broken down and [are] not in use.
End quote. That's Ghana, which as I said is a poster boy for development and progress in sub-Saharan Africa. I just did some cursory checking on the situation in Nigeria, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Check them yourself, if you have the stomach for it. Outhouse countries? I'd say President Trump nailed it. [Permalink]
The initial meeting, on Tuesday, was televised — an unusual thing for a gathering of this kind. The general assumption was that the President wanted to show himself chairing a big event like this knowledgably and authoritatively, putting the lie to Michael Wolff's book with its stories about how ignorant and indecisive he is. Whether that was the reason for televising the thing, and whether, if it was, the ploy succeeded, is a matter of opinion. I watched Tucker Carlson and then Sean Hannity back-to-back Tuesday evening. Carlson was not happy. His brow furrows were so deep you could hide quarters in them. The President, he implied, had been totally rolled by the congressweasels. He'd given the cheap-labor and open-borders lobbies everything they want, in return for nothing at all. Hannity on the other hand was upbeat. The President, he told us, was totally in control of the situation. He'd just been pretending to defer to reptiles like Diane Feinstein. Actually he was playing four-dimensional chess. My own take on the meeting was closer to Carlson than Hannity. The President seemed clumsy and ill-informed. The bit where he was about to hand the keys of the store to Feinstein until Kevin McCarthy stepped in and warned him not to, was seriously embarrassing. The President, or his advisors, tried to repair the damage afterwards, putting out stern-sounding statements; but if the President's performance on-camera was a sample of his negotiating skills, his next book should be titled The Art of the Kneel. Who were they, these legislators in the room with Trump, the new DHS Secretary, and three White House staffers? Well, there were 25 of them: 16 Senators, 9 Representatives. That's nicely Pythagorean, for a hypoteneuse of five … sorry, sorry. Checking their grades for immigration at NumbersUSA on the recent voting records, 2015 to 2018, I see three As, three Bs, three Cs, seven Ds, and nine Fs. Six of those nine Fs are F-minuses, including two Republicans: Lindsey Graham, of course, and Miami Representative (and Steve Sailer doppelganger) Díaz-Balart. That gives you a median grade, across all the congressroaches present there, between D and D-minus. These are the people who are going to reform our immigration laws. [Laughter.] It doesn't look good. So … why am I buoyant? Shouldn't I be sunk in despair, like Tucker Carlson? [Permalink]
05 — Say not the struggle naught availeth! Well, I have no great hopes of real patriotic immigration reform from this Congress and this President. I'm sticking to my prediction that Congress will throw Trump a small bone — an end to the "diversity visa" lottery is my guess — in return for a mass amnesty of illegals. The whole thing will of course be dressed up with promises on border security and enforcement — promises that will never be kept.
Taking a longer view, though, I think there's been some kind of breakthrough here. Fifteen years ago I wrote a column arguing that there was something in the national psyche of the U.S.A. that prevented Americans from thinking seriously about immigration. Even quite prominent opinionators used to be clueless about immigration issues. My long-time favorite example was Bill O'Reilly quacking that what the country needed was a guest-worker program — when, as I got weary of pointing out, we already had twenty-odd guest-worker programs, covering everything from fruit pickers to opera singers. Now it seems like every time I turn on the TV someone's talking about immigration; and the general level of knowledge among the talking heads is higher than it used to be. Tucker Carlson has really done his homework; he's light years ahead of where O'Reilly used to be. I believe I'm noticing a similar improvement among ordinary Americans. In conversation with a not-particularly-political neighbor yesterday, I was surprised to hear him pour scorn on the fuss about the President's referring to outhouse countries. "If those countries are not outhouses," my neighbor said — I've bowdlerized slightly — "why should these illegals [I'm just quoting him, the TPS folk are not all illegals] mind going back?" That's a very obvious point to those of us who've been working the immigration beat for years. To hear it from a layman, though, was striking. There flashed through my mind the joyous thought: We're getting through! As I said, I'm taking the long view here. You may say — and Ann Coulter, for example, does say — that taking the long view isn't much use; that if we don't get this fixed now, the whole country will go the way of California: traditional America, its laws and customs, drowned beneath a tide of aliens. I think we have more time than that. As Peter Brimelow and Ed Rubenstein argued here at VDARE.com five years ago, the GOP could be alive and well in today's California even if no blacks or Latinos voted for it. It's California's whites that have turned the state blue. To the nation at large that applies a fortiori. We just need to wake up white Americans somehow — white women especially. Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I believe I do see early signs of that awakening. Say not the struggle naught availeth! [Permalink]
06 — Counting beyond one. A key front in the struggle is numeracy. The wisest thing ever said about immigration — I quote it at pretty regular intervals, three or four times a year — is: "Numbers are of the essence." That's a shame, because the way the human mind is structured, most of us have great difficulty thinking about big numbers.
There are functioning human societies whose language contains no words for numbers at all. Even among civilized peoples who know their multiplication tables, the main reference number for everyday thinking about human affairs is usually "one." So if you get a conversation going with Joe Q. Public about immigration from Central America, you'll hear something like: "Well, I have this guy from Guatemala who comes in to look after my garden. He's great — a really hard worker!" And Joe's thinking about the immigration issue stops around there. Again, our recent public conversations have done a lot to improve understanding here. Respectable people, politicians and TV talking heads, have been discussing chain migration. As a result, it has sunk in to a lot of American heads that while a million immigrants isn't many among our population of a third of a billion, the million quickly swells to tens, then hundreds of millions. I really do think there's an enlightenment going on: or rather, as I wrote three years ago when I got my first glimpses of it, an Entzauberung, a de-magicking or de-sacralizing of the immigration topic. Immigration no longer carries the high moral charge it once did. People are coming to understand that it's just a policy, like farm price supports or interstate highways maintenance. And this administration is doing some quiet good work at enforcing the people's laws on immigration. Even if this current round of argumentation between the President and Congress comes to nothing — which is quite likely — there's an immense amount that can be done with the laws we already have. Example: Here's a posting at Reddit.com by an IT developer cutting code at some big corporation. Ninety percent of his colleagues are from India, he tells us. Quote:
The typical scenario is that every year, a stack of visas goes in for renewal and about a week later they come back stamped [APPROVED] … At the start of this year, instead of coming back approved, each application came back with a huge list of questions and requests for documentation about why the applicants were being paid so little. The lawyers were confused and assembled a huge pile of documentation for each applicant and sent it back. Every single application then came back with either more questions or a denial. EVERY SINGLE ONE is either in limbo or denied … As a result of this, our company's HR department has quietly decided … to no longer hire employees that need sponsorship.
End quote. That's just one candle in the darkness. Here's another: Wednesday this week, quote from the Detroit News:
Immigration agents descended on dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores before dawn … to begin checking on employees' immigration status … Agents targeted about 100 stores nationwide … Twenty-one people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally were arrested.
End quote. I tell you, things are looking up. Yes, I'm feeling buoyant. [Permalink]
Imprimis: Today, January 12th, is the 54th birthday of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com. Coincidentally, this seems also to have been the week in which Mr Bezos' net worth crossed over from eight digits to nine. His personal wealth is now over a hundred billion dollars. You'd think, wouldn't you?, that having had the great good fortune to grow up in the U.S.A., where it's possible to rise by honest means from humble beginnings to wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, you might think that Bezos would want to give something back to his country: some kind of fund or scholarship program for poor American kids, perhaps. If you did think that you are pitifully naïve about the modern centibillionaire's interest in nation-states, citizenship, or sovereignty. Bezos is a citizen of the world, who scoffs at patriotism and respect for our laws. He has indeed established a 33 million dollar college scholarship fund … for illegal aliens. As well as being a sneering slap in the face to his fellow citizens this is also, as several commenters have pointed out, a violation of federal laws against giving aid and assistance to illegal aliens. How wonderful it would be to see this traitorous toad being led to the dock in an orange jumpsuit. Are we a country of laws, or of men? [Permalink] Item: Speaking of birthdays: This past Monday, the eighth, was Charles Murray's 75th. A very happy birthday to Charles, whom I regard as an American treasure. It's true that he is afflicted with an unfortunate and apparently incurable case of Midwestern Niceness; but that's undoubtedly genetic, and so not his fault. Charles marked his birthday by stepping back from his position as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute to emeritus status. I think that means he'll still have an office at AEI but won't be required to do much actual work. Charles has been having dark thoughts recently. At the birthday bash held for him on Monday at AEI, he told a packed house that, quote:
You are, I fear, akin to a remnant, sheltering the idea of human freedom in an ignorant and authoritarian epoch.
End quote. He qualified that, though, with the prediction that the social sciences are about to be revolutionized by findings in neuroscience and genetics. I'll give the last word here, with my hearty approval, to Matthew Continetti, reporting on the birthday event at The Weekly Standard. Quote from Matthew:
What he is far too modest to observe is that this youthful remnant of social scientists toiling away in the dark will have something Charles Murray did not: the power of his example.
[Permalink] Item: I get regular requests from listeners for updates on events in Turkmenistan, that Central Asian nation which, under the wise leadership of President-for-life Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, offers to the world a beacon of hope for peace, progress and prosperity. So here's the latest. President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has banned black cars — some reports say all dark-colored vehicles. The President's own favorite color is white. He lives in a white palace and is driven to and fro in a white limousine. The Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, has been wellnigh rebuilt all in white marble at President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's direction. Dark-colored cars are being impounded, their owners allowed to retrieve them only after paying for them to be repainted white or silver. Earl Scheib franchises are said to be springing up all over Turkmenistan. I confess I don't totally understand the logic of this, but I have no doubt it is for the betterment of Turkmens, and of humanity at large. All hail the noble nation of Turkmenistan. Onward and upward with President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov! [Anthem.] [Permalink]
08 — Signoff. And that's it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening; and for just one more note on birthdays, I hope you will join me on Monday in solemnly celebrating the birthday of a great American.
I am referring of course to Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb, born January 15th 1908 in Budapest. Professor Teller left us in 2003, but his legacy remains. You may think that the world would be better off without hydrogen bombs, and you may be right. Given that the darn things exist, though, it is humanity's great good fortune that they were first brought into existence by Americans, with Edward Teller a key player. And if you want to tell me that Prof. Teller's achievements make a case for immigration, I can only agree. By all means let's bring in more genius-level Hungarian physicists. OK, now let's get silly. There isn't half as much silliness in the world as I'd wish there to be. I worry that the U.S.A. in particular — the nation that gave the world Larry, Curly, and Mo, Pee Wee Herman, Mork and Mindy, and Spongebob Squarepants — is in danger of turning into a stern-faced puritanical silliness-free zone. I am quietly proud to think that the nation of my birth surpasses all others in the production of silliness. I cherish, for example, a radio program called I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue, which consists entirely of people being invited to do silly things: for example, to sing the words of some familiar song to an equally familiar but different tune. So here is Tony Hawks singing the words of Gangnam Style to the tune of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy." If you survive listening to that, there will be more from Radio Derb next week. [Music clip: The words of Gangnam Style to the tune of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy."] [Permalink]