02:45 Stalinesque extravaganza. (SOTU, of course.)
08:33 Normal v. Crazy. (The shape of our Cultural Revolution.)
14:56 Articulate the metrics! (Our Vice President speaks.)
17:16 Ireland rebels. (Dissent in the Heart of Wokeness.)
25:06 Gendering for Godot. (Sam Beckett hits the gender wall.)
27:20 The ChiCom balloon. (It's an illegal alien!)
28:03 Death of Hollywood. (We lost Vaudeville, now movies.)
30:24 Equity in the judiciary. (A federal bench nominee knows squat.)
33:43 ChatGPT is woke. (Which may be a good thing!)
36:13 Signoff. (With some Vaudeville.)
01—Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your normally genial host John Derbyshire, here with your weekly dose of news commentary from a Dissident Right point of view.
First allow me to direct your attention to a website named FeedSpot, an aggregator for thousands of blogs, podcasts, and YouTubers. They just recently put out a list of the 60 best news podcasts; Radio Derb is number 48 on the list. Thank you, guys!
This means all the more to me since just about a month ago I was in a room with twenty-odd movers and shakers—journalists, academics, lawyers, financial types—discussing topics of the day. Listening to them talk, I started to notice how often the word "podcast" occurred. "My podcast …" "your podcast …" "Jack's podcast …" It got to the point where I was thinking of asking anyone in the room that did not have a podcast to raise his hand, just to see if anyone did … but then dinner was announced and it slipped my mind.
There are a lot of podcasts out there. To be distinguished among them in any way is an honor.
I'd like to know, but can't figure any way to find out, how many podcasts there are as old as Radio Derb. We're coming up to our nineteenth birthday in May. Nineteen years, four presidents, several wars, and a cultural revolution. Any competitors in longevity there?
They've tried, but they can't keep Radio Derb down! [Applause.]
02—Stalinesque extravaganza. Another year, another Stalinesque extravaganza. Yes, it's the State of the Union address.
I know, I know: I raise the same grumble every year. I do so in the faint hope that one year, someone may at last pay attention. Here's my stock quote, from my spacetime-sundering 2009 best-seller We Are Doomed, Chapter 3, quote:
The "annual message" (as it was called until 1945) was not in fact a speech at all for most of the republic's history. Washington and John Adams made a speech of it, but Jefferson—correctly, of course—thought this too monarchical. The annual message was thereafter delivered in writing to Congress until Woodrow Wilson reverted to speech mode in 1913. There was partial re-reversion to the written presentation by the more modest presidents of the immediate post-Wilson era (Harding, Coolidge, Hoover), and then occasionally since (Truman's first and last, Eisenhower's last, Carter's last, and Nixon's 4th), but for most of this past three-quarters of a century the President has delivered a speech.
And we—I mean, we poor devils who comment on the news—have to listen to the damn thing.
In fairness to the president, he didn't do too bad a job of delivery. He didn't fall down, address the Vice President as his wife, drool, or poop his pants. We don't think he pooped his pants, anyway; presumably Kevin McCarthy would have signaled the fact if he did.
Everyone assumes that the president was jacked up with a month's supply of Adderall, and I'll go along with everyone on that: approvingly—it made the show a bit easier to bear.
There were only two or three lapses from coherent speech; this one, for example:
[Clip]: Make no mistake. If you try anything to raise the cost of srisizhiumjubs, I will veto it! (Wild applause.)]
There was also one exceptionally brazen moment—so brazen it generated general laughter. At any rate, I can't believe it was just Republican congresscritters laughing. This was when Biden told us about his dealings with the big oil companies.
[Clip]: And when I talk to a couple of them they say, "We're afraid you're going to shut down all the oil wells and all the, er, oil refineries anyway, so why should we invest in them?" I say: "We're going to need oil for at least another decade and aren't going to exceed … (much laughter) … and beyond that (more laughter) we're gonna need it (more laughter) … production. If they had in fact invested in the production to keep gas prices down. Instead they used the record profits to buy back their own stock, rewarding the CEOs and shareholders. Corporations ought to do the right thing.
Corporations rewarding their shareholders: what depths of infamy! And this is of course the guy who, on the campaign trail in 2019, told his supporters that:
[Clip]: But, Kiddo, I want you to just take a look. Okay? You don't have to agree, but I want you to look at my eyes. I guarantee you, I guarantee you, we are going to end fossil fuel and I am not going to co-operate with (inaudible) (cheers, applause).
It's also the guy who canceled the Keystone XL pipeline, stopped issuing licenses to drill for oil on federal lands, did everything he could to discourage oil production and refining; and who then, when gas prices went roaring upwards, went crawling on hands and knees to the despots of the Middle East, begging them to increase their oil production.
Yes: Biden's brazenness was good for a laugh, but it should be a bitter, hollow laugh. How on earth did our lovely nation, with its many, many thousands of smart, talented, and patriotic citizens, elect this lamebrained corrupt nincompoop, this mendacious mediocrity, to our highest federal office? There is something really, seriously, systemically wrong here.
Oh well. At least we got a firm assurance that the cost of [clip: srisizhiumjubs], whatever that is, won't be raised. I was getting worried about that.
03—Normal v. Crazy. There is no constitutional requirement for a rebuttal to the State of the Union Address, and in fact we only started getting them in the Lyndon Johnson administration. This time around it was delivered by Arkansas' new governess, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Mrs. Sanders is just 40, the youngest governor in the country, a pointed contrast with our octogenarian president. I'm willing to cheer just on that account. I know what I could do twenty or thirty years ago and I know what I can do now. I do not want people my age running the country.
I thought Governor Sanders did a decent job of the rebuttal. She leaned hard on the Cultural Revolution and the determination on the part of our ruling class to enforce the new revolutionary standards by, as the saying goes, any means necessary. Quote from the governess:
The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left. The choice is between normal or crazy.
Yes it is; and thank you for saying it, Ma'am.
And that's increasingly what our Cold Civil War looks like: Normal versus Crazy.
Normal versus Crazy, that's our Cold Civil War; and all the powers of the state and nation, all the media and universities and schools, all the judges and bureaucrats are on the side of Crazy.
04—Articulate the metrics! Aside from that promise that the cost of [clip: srisizhiumjubs] won't be raised, It was hard to get much sense of direction from Biden's speech. Most of it was empty boasts and spiteful jibes.
For something more substantial, our Vice President can always be depended on, so I turned to her.
[Clip]: Our meeting today includes not only the work that we intend to do going forward but working together to talk about how we can measure the success we have had thus far and continue to improve on the works we've done. For many who were at the original table you'll know that it has been built in to our approach that we will devise metrics and be very clear, and I thank the university and Michelle for the work that has been happening to help thus articulate the metrics by which we will then measure our success in real time: not waiting for years down the line but in real time measure our success so that we can regroup, analyze where we are, and as necessary improve our approach.
Words to live by. And they say the art of oratory is dead!
Seriously, though: Isn't it remarkable how a person who has never done anything you or I would recognize as work, who has spent her entire adult life being wafted effortlessly aloft through state and national politics on warm updrafts of racial and sexual favoritism, isn't it remarkable how fond the Vice President is of the word "work"? "Work" and its derivatives showed up four time there in 128 words, a frequency of better than three percent.
Hey, lady: if you're so all-fired fond of "work," my house gutters need cleaning …
05—Ireland rebels. The Cultural Revolution rolls on, crushing all before it under its mighty wheels: nationhood, meritocracy, Christianity, freedom of speech and association, equal justice under the law, … all the props of Western Civilization.
We normies watch the juggernaut roll, hoping and praying for some sign of counter-revolution, for evidence that ordinary, not-very-political citizens will not go gentle into the good night of high-tech anti-white authoritarianism. We have been getting some encouraging signs recently from Ireland.
The Cultural Revolution has been proceeding much faster and more ruthlessly in that country than elsewhere. In part that's because Ireland had further to go. I myself have been writing for years about how the Ireland of fifty years ago, then perhaps the most culturally conservative white nation, transformed itself into the Heart of Wokeness after joining the EU in 1973.
It's not very surprising under the circumstances that Ireland has bought into the open-borders aspect of globalism. It's even less surprising when you recall that for three hundred years there Ireland, with its poverty and high fertility, was a poster child for e-migation to Britain, the U.S.A., Australia, and New Zealand.
Well, things may be changing. The last few days have seen major demonstrations against Ireland's open borders. Wednesday this week VDARE's own correspondent Pádraic O'Bannon gave us a great montage of Twitter clips showing ordinary Irish people fighting back against their demographic replacement.
For a deeper dive into the politics of the situation—and I speak here as one who has been doing political commentary about Ireland for more than twenty years—I recommend Peter Ryan's Thursday column over at Unherd.com. Sample quote:
Grassroots anti-migrant protests are sweeping across the country, rallying around the slogan "Ireland is Full." There were 307 anti-migrant protests in 2022, while 2023 has already seen 64. At the latest demonstration in Dublin, on Tuesday, more than 2,000 protestors took to the streets. ["The rise of Ireland's anti-migrant protests" by Peter Ryan; Unherd.com, February 9th 2023.]
As here and in Britain, the political establishment is determined to do nothing at all about the inflow, and to slander, harass, and when necessary arrest those who demonstrate against it. This has been easy for them as Ireland has been under Uniparty rule for a hundred years.
Two big political parties have held power across that long span. Fianna Fáil is very approximately the U.S. Democratic Party, with more working-class support; Fine Gael is more business-friendly, like our GOP. That's highly theoretical, though. In practice there's been no daylight between the two parties for decades. They are now united in globalism, determined to keep the borders open, and full of angry denunciations of the "far right." Sound familiar?
A great curiosity in this situation is the minority party Sinn Féin. Twenty-three years ago I was describing Sinn Féin—correctly, of course—as, quoting myself, "the only plausible nationalist-patriotic party in Ireland," end quote.
Sinn Féin was so nationalist-patriotic they were at one point arguing for Ireland to leave the EU. They were so nationalist-patriotic they served as the political front for the terrorists carrying out bombings and assassinations in British-ruled Northern Ireland. Nationalist-patriotic? Oh yeah.
So Sinn Féin is leading the counter-revolution against open borders and the destruction of Irish nationhood, right? Er, no. The current party leadership is totally at one with the Uniparty, supporting open-borders globalism. The current president of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald, is a middle-class female social justice warrior.
She represents a working-class constituency in Dublin, Ireland's capital. None of the news stories and commentaries on this week's demonstrations failed to notice that, to quote one of them, quote:
[Sinn Féin's] failure to provide a nationalist stance on these issues means they are often the most hated by protestors; a placard picture of Mary Lou McDonald bearing the word "traitor" was lustily booed at the original East Wall protest. ["A Total Loss of Narrative Control" by Conor Fitzgerlad; Substack, February 8th 2023.]
Could a genuinely nationalist party come up in Ireland, a nation that was once ardent in protection and preservation of its national identity? Well, one already has: the five-year-old Irish Freedom Party.
The IFP hasn't made much of a mark yet and they've suffered from all the weaknesses and personality issues that always afflict small new parties; and of course Ireland's ruling class will do all it can to crush them. They're out there, though, and not throwing bombs or shooting cops Sinn Féin style. Let's see what develops.
Ireland, as I wrote all those years ago, is interesting, a place worth watching.
06—Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Investigating the demonstrations in Ireland, one tweet I turned up showed a crowd of demonstrators in Dublin marching over Samuel Beckett Bridge.
Did the old boy really get a bridge named after him? Yes he did, and it's a rather striking structure.
Hearing Beckett's name took me back to my twenties, when I had somewhat of an infatuation with the man and his work.
You should pause now and read my 2006 appreciation of Beckett, title "Sculpting with Dust." It's on my personal website under "Reviews … Considerations."
Done that? Good. As it happens Samuel Beckett has been in the news on a different topic this week. A university in Holland was planning a production of Beckett's 1949 play Waiting for Godot next month. However, they canceled the production on hearing that the director was only auditioning male actors for the play's five roles.
The director has a point. It's plain from the play's script that the five roles are all male. Beckett himself explicitly stated that the play should be performed by five men, and his estate—he died in 1989—strictly adheres to his wishes, with lawsuits when necessary.
It seems to me the solution here is pretty simple. The director just needs his five guys to identify as women for the duration of the production. I'm a woman if I say I'm a woman, right?
Item: The ChiComs sure created a fuss with that spy balloon, didn't they? I'm surprised no-one has figured out what our ruling class is up to here.
What are they up to? Opening a new front in their campaign for open borders, that's what. The ChiCom balloon is an illegal alien—or as they would say, an "asylum seeker." If you object to it you are a bigoted racist semi-fascist white supremacist.
Item: Styles of public entertainment change. They come and they go. Fifty years ago senior citizens were still lamenting the Death of Vaudeville.
The lamentations today are for the Death of Hollywood. Movies are going the way of Vaudeville.
I won't personally be shedding any tears. I've never been much of a movie buff. I have a few favorites I remember with affection—on Groundhog Day last week I mentally fondled recollections of the 1993 Bill Murray movie, as I'm sure a lot of you did too.
If there have been any movies that good this past five or ten years, though, I missed them. I've been reflecting for a while that if I go to the grave without ever watching another movie, I won't mind a bit.
It's not just me. Here was Barry Diller, sometime CEO of Paramount, quoted in Los Angeles Magazine on Monday this week in reference to the Oscars, quote:
All awards ceremonies were based on this hierarchical process of a movie going to a theater, building up some word of mouth if it was successful, having that word of mouth carry itself over. That path no longer exists … I used to be in the movie business where you made something really because you cared about it … The very definition of movie is in such transition that it doesn't mean anything right now. ["Barry Diller: The Oscars Are Over and the Movie Business Is Finished" by Lauren Abunassar; February 7th 2023.]
These are the strange currents of culture and technology. It's no use grumbling about them—which, as you can see, in this case I'm anyway not inclined to. I do wish I'd been around for Vaudeville, though.
Item: Yes: in key areas of employment, objective standards are being thrown out of the window in favor of "equity"—making sure that as many blacks, women, and other favored groups as possible get the most jobs.
There was a quite stunning illustration of this on January 25th, when the Senate Judiciary Committee was holding confirmation hearings for a new tranche of President Biden's appointments to the federal bench.
The particular job applicant here was Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren, billed as a black female, although she doesn't look very black to me. An octoroon, perhaps.
Judge Bjelkengren is nominee to serve as district judge for the Eastern District of Washington State. Note that if appointed she'll be serving as a judge in a federal trial court—the first black woman so to serve in Washington State, we were told when Biden nominated her.
Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana had a couple of test questions for the lady.
Sen. Kennedy: "Thank you, Mr Chairman, and congratulations, er, to all of you. Um, Judge, on the far end. Er, tell me what Article V of the Constitution does."
Judge Bjelkengren: "Article V is not coming to mind at the moment."
Sen. Kennedy: "Okay. How about Article II?"
Judge Bjelkengren: "Neither is Article II."
Sen. Kennedy: "Okay."
I can't improve on Senator Kennedy's remark in a follow-up interview, after telling the interviewer he wouldn't support Judge Bjelkengren's appointment, quote: "Look, if you want to be an auto mechanic, you got to know what a spark plug is." End quote.
Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, supplied the rebuttal, quote from him: "I think you have to take the life experience circumstances of each of the nominees in consideration. And she's clearly qualified to take this job." End quote.
Ah, those "life experience circumstances"! All those years of being praised and flattered, petted and excused, given a pass on every kind of objective assessment, being waved through to the next level as a trailblazing black female … Yeah, she's qualified all right, in all the ways that matter to the ruling class.
Item: People have been telling me about this ChatGPT Artificial Intelligence assistant that is supposed to talk back to you, answer questions, and so on like a human conversationalist.
Checking around, I turned up this tweet from February 4th. The tweeter first asked ChatGPT, quote: "Can you list me 5 things that white people need to improve?" End quote. Then he asked the same thing for black people.
For whites, the chatbot came up with five areas as requested: "Understanding and acknowledging privilege," etc. etc. For blacks, however, it huffed that, quote:
No, I cannot provide a list of things that a specific group of people [inner quote] "need to improve" [end inner quote]. Such language reinforces harmful stereotypes and is not productive or respectful.
Get it? ChatGPT is a tool of the anti-white establishment. Don't touch the filthy thing with a ten-foot pole.
Wait, though. A colleague has pointed out to me that these woke chatbots may take over opinion journalism in the mainstream media altogether. They're much cheaper than warm bodies, after all.
So all those staff writers at the big broadsheet newspapers and magazines like Atlantic and The New Republic will be out of a job!
We Dissident Right opinionators, on the other hand, will be quite safe in our jobs, as marginal and ill-paid as they are. Nobody will want to build a chatbot loaded with our shocking, hateful opinions. So maybe ChatGPT is a good thing after all. Hey!
07—Signoff. That's it for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for your time and attention, and bless you for the many, many kind emails asking about my recovery from last week's operation.
I'm fine. I have an interesting array of scars across my abdomen, I suppose from where they tried inserting the laparoscope before settling on the ideal place. They even seem to have gone in through my belly button. It's all healing nicely, though, and I plan to resume my workout schedule in our home gym this weekend.
There is one after-effect that has me puzzled, though: I've put on girth. Jeans that used to fit nicely around my waist are now too small. This is certainly not from overeating: those five days in hospital I ate almost nothing at all.
Whatever the cause, it brought to mind one of those silly songs I like from the days of Vaudeville. Title of the song: "I Can't Do My Bally Bottom Button Up."
The singer here is Ian Wallace, who is remembered by older-generation Brits as a star panelist on the BBC Radio program My Music, but who was actually an accomplished opera singer. I assume that the button he's singing about is the bottom button on his vest or jacket.
The word "bally" is a euphemism for "bloody." A hundred years ago, when this song was current, respectable people did not say "bloody" in public. Instead they signaled it with euphemisms like "bally," the way someone nowadays would say "freakin'" or "effing" for the f-word.
The "b" barrier was broken in April 1914 when a character in George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion uttered the b-word on stage, but it went on being unrespectable for some decades.
The f-word followed a similar trajectory in Britain half a century later. The writer Kenneth Tynan uttered it on BBC television in November 1965, but polite Brits still say "effing."
See: with Radio Derb you get some social history with your news commentary.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Meanwhile, have a bally good time doing whatever you enjoy doing.
[Music clip: Ian Wallace, "I Can't Do My Bally Bottom Button Up."]