Radio Derb: The War on the Suburbs, Election Prospects, Barr Testifies, and Herman Cain RIP, Etc.
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01m22s  Affirmatively Furthering the war on suburbia.  (From LBJ to Trump.)

08m06s  The one great everlasting problem.  (Suburbanites have votes, too.)

13m43s  Election prospects.  (Logging the unknowns.)

20m49s  Congressional report.  (Fun time in the Halls of Uselessness.)

26m10s  Herman Cain RIP.  (Would have been better than Romney.)

28m08s  A close shave in South Korea.  (End of a fracas.)

29m57s  Covington kid collects.  (Jolly good luck to him!)

32m53s  Another morsel from the President.  (And Mutti is mad.)

34m51s  Signoff.  (From deep in the 60s.)

01—Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! That was Franz Joseph Haydn's Derbyshire March No. 2 and this is your conventionally genial host John Derbyshire with reflections on the passing scene.

This week's podcast starts and ends in the 1960s. I'm sorry about that; I can hear your eyes rolling all the way across town. Yes, yes; It was in the sixties that our country went off the rails in some key respects, and many of us aren't sure we ever got back on those rails.

Those who forget the past, however, are condemned to repeat it. I do have some points to make about current political events, and the sixties are a handy hook to hang them on. Let's see how it goes.


02—Affirmatively Furthering the war on suburbia.

[Clip:  Pete Seeger, "Little Boxes."]

That was old-style lefty Pete Seeger mocking the suburbs back in 1963. The suburbs, according to the songwriter (a different old-style lefty, not Pete), the suburbs were just breeding farms for the bourgeoisie, a wasteland of conformist middle-class values: doctors, lawyers, golfers, and—oh my God!—nuclear families, who drank their martinis dry and sent their kids to summer camp.

Pete's recording of the song was a big hit. There was a market for mocking the suburbs in the sixties: not just songs, but movies like The Graduate and novels like those of Updike and Cheever. The Boomers were looking for something more exciting, more spiritual, more life-affirming than the routine drudgery of middle-class life.

This being America, there was of course a race element to anti-suburbanism. The people in those little boxes Pete Seeger was sneering at were far too white; everyone understood that.

This was the Civil Rights era, so government action followed. Five years after Pete's hit, in 1968 the Lyndon Johnson administration gave us the Fair Housing Act, bringing the power of the feds to bear on race discrimination in those lily-white suburbs. Federal agencies were required, quote: "affirmatively to further" the purposes of the Act, which included diversifying residential neighborhoods.

Fast-forward 47 years. Someone in the Obama administration plucked those words out of the Fair Housing Act and brought forth the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, ordering the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to withhold federal funds from localities that weren't sufficiently diverse.

Some shameless cynics like our own Steve Sailer suggested that Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing—which, Steve observes, sounds like something Daffy Duck might say—that AFFH was really just a scheme to move poor blacks out of the inner cities. This would open up more prime urban real estate for gentrification, for the benefit of hip young Obama-voting urban types with outlooks formed by TV shows like Friends and Sex in the City; and perhaps, coincidentally of course, perhaps also to the benefit of urban real-estate developers like Obama's pal Tony Rezko.

The poor blacks being shunted out of the inner cities would have to go somewhere. So where? To the suburbs, of course. Suburbanites might grumble at having inner-city blacks and their problems dumped on them; but hey, suburbanites are mainly racist white people with way too much white privilege, so it serves them right.

Well, July 23rd the Trump administration announced they are dropping the AFFH rule on the grounds that, quote from HUD Secretary Ben Carson:

Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community's unique needs.

End quote.

Under the AFFH rule, said Carson, local jurisdictions were forced to comply with complicated regulations that require hundreds of pages of reporting, to very little practical effect. Which I believe is true—both parts of it.

That started off what news outlets call a "firestorm" of indignation from social-justice outfits like The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, who sputtered that dropping the AFFH Rule was, quote, "a full-frontal assault on the rule of law."

President Trump stoked the flames by tweeting out on Wednesday this week that, tweet:

I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood …

End tweet.

What does Radio Derb think about all this? New segment.

03—The one great everlasting problem.     First off, I was never on board with the anti-suburb sentiment, even in my lefty college days. I've always liked the suburbs. I've been living in this one for nigh-on thirty years, and have no desire to live anywhere else.

One of the first opinion pieces I wrote for an American magazine was in defense of suburbia. That was in reaction to an initiative out of the Clinton administration with the almost comically moon-booted bureaucratic title: Building Livable Communities for the 21st Century. I opened my opinion piece with the ringing declaration that, quote:

I shall give up my lawn mower when they prise it from my cold dead fingers.

End quote.

That Clinton initiative—the year was 1999—was not in fact explicitly anti-suburb, just a play for more federal control over zoning and transportation. I don't think it was anti-white, either. The really open, aggressive anti-whiteness we're all used to now wasn't much in evidence in the nineties, before the Great Awokening. It took another fifteen years of leftward drift before Obama came right out into the open with AFFH.

I think Steve's probably right that there were ulterior motives behind AFFH. It's hard to watch someone as sanctimonious as Barack Obama without glimpsing the dollar signs flickering on his eyeballs. Probably there was also racial revenge in play. How dare white Americans monopolize those pleasant leafy suburbs, leaving blacks stuck in smelly, crowded, crime-addled inner cities?

I'm going to give benefit of the doubt, though, and assume that there was some element of genuine altruism in there, too. Let me explain that.

The one great everlasting problem of American society is the problem of poor blacks. There are poor whites, too, of course; but because of race differences in ability and behavior, there are proportionally more, way more, poor blacks.

I raise again my analogy of a man dragging a sack along the road. If the sack is not too big in proportion to the man, it's a nuisance, but he can keep moving. That's the situation of whites in relation to their own poor, antisocial element.

If the sack is too big in proportion to the man, however, it's really hard for him to make any progress. That's how it is for the Talented Tenth of blacks—and indeed for the rest of us, too—in relation to the black underclass.

But that's a race realist point of view. If you're a race denialist, there's a solution to what I just called our one great everlasting problem. The solution is: magic dirt! Just move poor blacks out of the inner cities where they are concentrated and scatter them out into the suburbs. The magic suburban dirt will cure them of antisocial behaviors and have them crowding into Advanced Placement classes in no time. Problem solved!

I've no doubt there are people who sincerely believe in Magic Dirt Theory. That's the element of altruism I just mentioned.

However, a great many suburbanites—including Talented Tenth black ones, and probably a lot of white liberals whose enthusiasm for social justice goes no deeper than virtue signaling—a great many of us don't believe the Magic Dirt Theory and don't want to live around poor blacks. When we hear the phrase "low-income housing" we think of crime, disorder, welfare mommas, and discipline problems in schools.

Was President Trump's Wednesday tweet a bare-faced appeal to us—a "dog whistle," as the media lefties say? I bet it was, but so what? We suburbanites have votes, too.


04—Election prospects.     Votes, yes. We are, what?, I make it fourteen weeks away from the November election. It's a weary cliché by now, but true none the less, that this will be a very consequential election. What are the prospects?

There is a vein of commentary saying that his one is really hard to call. Even just fourteen weeks out, say these commentators, there are too many unknowns.

  • The virus. Will it make a comeback in the fall, throwing us right back to the generalized panic of February and March?

  • The economy. The second-quarter GDP figures just came out. Our economy contracted a horrendous 9.5 percent. That's an annualized rate of 32.9 percent; so if we go on like this, a year of pandemic will swallow one-third of our economy. Shall we go on like this? No-one really knows.

  • The riots. Who will November voters blame for all this social unrest: the Democrats who encourage and support it, or the administration who aren't doing anything much about it? There are respectable polls—I've just been looking at one published this Tuesday from Gallup—reporting strong public support for the anarchists. Ninety-five percent of Democrats support them, says Gallup, and even 22 percent of Republicans. Among whites, 59 percent support; among 18-to-29-year-olds, eighty-seven percent. Good grief! There might be a Bradley Effect in there—people giving Gallup the socially-approved response rather than an honest one—but I feel like I'm clutching at straws there.

  • Trump. Does he actually want to run? Will the GOP bosses let him? There's been speculation for a while that Never Trumpers in the party will sabotage him—James Carville, who knows a thing or two about retail politics, has made this case. I see signs—like Trump's ham-fisted suggestion Thursday the election might be put off—that he's stopped giving much of a damn. With his poll numbers in the tank, Biden refusing to debate, and coronavirus putting the kibosh on his energizing rallies, Trump may feel that all the fun has gone out of campaigning. Why bother? Retirement might be looking pretty good right now.

  • Biden. Will he run? If his poll numbers hold up, I bet he will. If they go against him for some reason, though, or if he takes a nasty fall, as people his age are liable to do, or if some major figure in his party turns against him, maybe not.

  • Biden's Veep. As Radio Derb goes to tape here we are waiting to hear the name of the lucky lady. Given Biden's condition, this is the most significant Veep choice ever.

  • Events, dear boy, events. Will China make the move on Taiwan? Will China and India go to war? Greece and Turkey? Something no-one's thought of?

I'm sticking with my prediction of a Trump loss. As those Gallup numbers show, what pollsters call "low-information voters" are a mighty legion. Most people don't engage much with politics; they take their lead from the media, who are of course going all out against Trump.

And then, immigration. Not the political issue, but the sheer overwhelming consequence from fifty-five years of high immigration levels. I've just been re-reading a piece from The American Spectator last October by James Delmont, title: Is Mass Immigration Killing Two-Party Democracy in the U.S.? Yes it is, says the author. Sample quote:

The demographic tidal wave of mostly Third World immigrants who vote heavily Democrat is now running legally at a million a year, an all-time record, and is turning red states purple and then blue. Arizona is going, Colorado and Georgia are going, Virginia is gone, North Carolina is tipping, and Florida is a dead heat but the immigration trends (south-of-the-border Latinos and Puerto Ricans) are against the GOP. Even Texas is drifting leftward as Latinos bid to become a solid majority there.

End quote.

Just as we've been telling you all these years: California is the future. The Republican Party has been digging its own grave for thirty years now, and the job is pretty much done.


05—Congressional report.     From the Halls of Uselessness — which is to say, the United States Congress—we have at least been getting some entertainment value this week.

Attorney General Bill Barr put up a spirited defense of the administration Tuesday in a five-hour hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. At least, he tried to: The Antifa members of the committee … I'm sorry, I mean of course the Democrats on the committee did all they could to prevent him getting a word in edgewise.

Barr took it all with good humor for the farce that it was, and scored at least one point against the toad-like Jerry Nadler:

[Clip:  You're a real class act, Mr Chairman …]

While I enjoyed the Attorney General's performance there and appreciate his refusal to be baited by the congressreptiles, I can't help wishing he was a bit more forceful in carrying out his other duties.

Where has he been on the wretched DACA business, for example? All right, it's Homeland Security's bailiwick; but the legality of DACA is a Justice Department issue too, and neither Jeff Sessions nor Bill Barr have been shy about expressing their opinions on it.

As our own correspondent Federale has urged, the administration should cut through the Gordian Knot with DACA—placing DACA recipients in deportation proceedings, starting with those who have criminal records. They're illegal aliens, aren't they? Fiat justitia ruat caelum; and as the guy in charge of justitia, Barr should be active here.

There has also been some grumbling that federal attorneys are going easy on arrested rioters. People arrested and charged with federal offenses earlier this month in Portland were released pending trial on condition, imposed by the judges, that they not participate in any public demonstrations or public assemblies while on release. Oregon newspapers report that this condition has now been dropped. Rioters are free to re-riot while awaiting trial. Wha?

In Bill Barr's defense, however, people tell me he's up against an entrenched leftist establishment among his judges and prosecutors. Like President Trump, he's fighting the Swamp.

To add to the entertainment, on Wednesday a subcommittee of that same House Judiciary Committee, a subcommittee on commercial and antitrust issues, had a videoconference hearing on Big Tech. The CEOs of Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon all testified. Questions focused on whether they are running monopolies and whether they are putting their big fat thumbs on the scales to influence the November election. We already know the answers to both questions, so not much light was shed.

I've recently been reading up on the issues involved here. I was dismayed, although honestly not very surprised, to see that the congressrodents hadn't. The general level of knowledge on the committee's side of the exchanges was dismal. All right, not everybody can be an expert on everything; but don't they have staff to boil things down to bullet points for them?

I respectfully suggest to the congresscritters that before further hearings on Big Tech issues they at least take time to read Yuval Harari's article "Why Technology Favors Tyranny" in the October 2018 issue of The Atlantic. There are huge issues here—issues of privacy, personal autonomy, state power, and the democratic process—that will be of major importance to us all in the decade we've just entered.


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

ImprimisBack in our July 3rd podcast I noted that 2012 GOP Presidential candidate Herman Cain had come down with COVID-19. I confessed to having had a soft spot for Herman back in that campaign, and sent Radio Derb's best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Alas, on Thursday this week Cain passed away at age 74. I was very sorry to hear the news. From my one encounter with him I judged him a smart and likeable man who would probably have made at least as good a President as the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.

Cain was seen without a mask at a Trump campaign rally in Tulsa last month. There's speculation he might have caught the virus there, so that his death has been an issue in the sub-political debate between maskers and no-maskers, which I think is regrettable—and, in the case of some snarky jeering on Twitter, disrespectful.

For the record, I have the same disgracefully low level of interest in the mask controversy as I have in the whole pandemic business. I wear a mask when I go out just from sheer chicken-soupery: it can't hurt.

Good night, Herman. I look forward to discussing ODEs with you in another place.


Item:  Back in my January Diary I recorded the strange little fracas about Harry Harris, our Ambassador to South Korea: precisely, about his mustache.

Ambassador Harris was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and American father, so he looks sorta-kinda Japanese. And has a mustache. That rubbed the Koreans the wrong way, as mustaches sometimes do. Korea was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945, and several Japanese leaders at the time—including Tojo, the wartime Prime Minister, and Hirohito, the Emperor—had mustaches. I know, it sounds kind of silly, but the Koreans were riled up about it.

Some deplorable spirits in the comment threads suggested that Ambassador Harris trim back the 'tache to just the Hitler style, but our man decided to go all the way. July 25th he went to a barber shop in Seoul and had the whole thing shaved off.

The Ambassador put out a cover story, telling reporters that the mustache, together with a face mask, was making him feel too hot and uncomfortable. That was just shaving face, though … sorry, I mean saving face.


Item:  Hearty congratulations from Radio Derb to Nicholas Sandmann of Park Hills, Kentucky. Sandmann is the best-known and most-abused member of the student group from Covington High School who were in Washington, DC in January last year for an anti-abortion rally.

Sight-seeing after their rally, the students, many—including Sandmann—wearing MAGA hats, were accosted and taunted by a black-supremacist group, then by a Native American activist. They responded with some good-natured chanting of school sports songs. Sandmann himself just stood smiling through the whole thing. It was all reported by the press, however, as racist white-supremacist teenagers threatening and insulting a harmless old Indian.

Sandmann sued eight media outlets—The Washington Post, CNN, ABC, CBS, The Guardian, The Hill, NBC, and Twitter—for defamation, asking for a total $800 million in damages. In January this year he came to an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount with CNN. Now we've heard that on July 24th, which as it happened is his 18th birthday, he got another settlement from The Washington Post, amount likewise undisclosed.

Addressing the sinister Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, Sandmann tweeted that, tweet:

The fight isn't over. 2 down, 6 to go. Don't hold your breath @jack.

End tweet.

I certainly hope the fight isn't over. All strength to you, Nicholas. Radio Derb is cheering you on. Out-of-court settlements in cases like this are way smaller than the amounts being asked for, but I'm betting Nicholas Sandmann will come out of this with enough for a very nice car, perhaps a new house for his Dad and Mom. Jolly good luck to him!


Item:  There were two things we Trump voters hoped for above all others if our man got elected President. One was of course a firm, strict enforcement of the nation's laws on immigration, with some new laws to reduce the numbers coming in. The other was an end to, or at least a major scaling back of, our overseas troop deployments.

We didn't get much of either, but we didn't get nothing; and on that second item, Trump just threw us another morsel. Our troop numbers in Germany, currently at 36,000, are to be reduced by 12,000. Now there will be only 24,000 Americans there when the Soviet forces come charging through the Fulda Gap.

It's better than nothing, I guess; and Mutti Merkel is mad as hell about it, which is a bonus. I still can't figure why we have any troops at all in Germany, though, 75 years after WW2 and 30 years since the Warsaw Pact disbanded.

To add to my puzzlement, I read that only half of the 12,000 being withdrawn will return to the States. The other half will be re-deployed to … Italy. You know, just in case Mussolini rises from the grave.

Oh well; thanks, Mr President … I guess.


07—Signoff.     That's all I can offer you this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and be sure to catch my July Diary, to be posted on the website sometime in the next few days.

I started off this podcast with Pete Seeger mocking us suburbanites. That was definitely a thing back in the sixties, although I have to say Pete Seeger's sappy leftism wasn't much to my taste.

Here to play us out is something along the same lines that was to my taste; although I'll admit, listening to it again now after a lapse of several decades, I'm a bit embarrassed to say so. If you were around in the sixties you can probably relate; if not, you'll think it's deeply weird. By all means decide for yourselves.

Yes: It's Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, from their 1966 debut album Freak Out, Side Three (it was a double album). Don't blame me: I didn't make the sixties happen, I just report them.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week.


[Music clip: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, "It can't Happen Here."]

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