Radio Derb: Tornadoes, 2024, Our Lawless Society, More On Tornadoes, And NYC's New Black Mayor
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00m58s  Tornadoes are nobody's fault.  (Disaster in the Midwest.)

08m32s  2024 prospects.  (Please not Trump, not Biden.)

18m01s  Our lawless society, cont.  (A portmanteau.)

28m14s  Fall of the U.S.S.R., 30 years on.  (Worth commemorating.)

34m32s  More on tornadoes.  (Should we drive on the left?)

37m17s  New York City's new mayor.  (Not fanatical about equity.)

39m55s  Justifying justice for Jussie.  (Hardly criminal at all.)

42m51s  Signoff.  (Slow and soothing.)

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your pungently genial host John Derbyshire; and welcome to the antepenultimate podcast of 2021!

Politics, law, and international relations are on the menu this week. First, though, a segment that has nothing — well, very little — to do with any of those things.


02 — Tornadoes are nobody's fault.     This week's headliner was a natural disaster: the tornadoes that ripped through the southern Midwest Friday and Saturday. Six states were hit: Kentucky and Arkansas, Tennessee and Illinois, Missouri and Mississippi.

Kentucky seems to have gotten the worst of it. The latest death toll I've seen is ninety, 76 of them in Kentucky. Whole towns were destroyed, notably Mayfield, population ten thousand, and Dawson Springs, population 2,700, both in Kentucky. Bowling Green, population 72,000, also took a hit.

The disaster is all the more horrible for having happened just two weeks before Christmas. The cost in human lives is of course the worst; but you can't help but think of the lovingly-decorated Christmas trees and piles of presents lying scattered and destroyed in the wreckage.

Radio Derb offers sympathies and condolences to those afflicted by the disaster. If you want to help, or need help, Senator Rand Paul has put up a website,, with full details. Please help if you can.

Rand Paul is the junior senator from Kentucky, so he's just doing his job there, looking after the people of his state. One of the heartening things about this disaster has been the near-total absence of any politicking.

We've become accustomed to the filth and lies of politics affecting everything in our national life, distorting the law, education, sports, business, … every damn thing. I hope it won't be taken as disrespectful to those afflicted if I say that amid all the horror of these tornadoes, reading and listening to the news stories, it's been a relief to engage with something un-political.

Well, mostly un-political. Some cracks appeared when President Biden flew to western Kentucky Wednesday morning to see the damage. In his dumb, crass way he managed to make it about him, remembering out loud the phone call he'd taken when his first wife was killed in a car crash.

To be perfectly fair to the president, though, he gestured away from politics by saying, quote, "There's no red tornadoes and blue tornadoes," end quote, which of course is true.

And the other side of our nation's political divide also put a discordant word in. Actually three words: As the president got out of his SUV after the trip in from the airport, a small group of protestors started up a "Let's go Brandon" chant.

So there was a little politicking: but bad taste-wise, Biden versus protestors, I think it was pretty much a wash.

What I was anticipating, with eyes all set to roll, was some reference to the "climate change" falafel. The president did not disappoint. Quote from Biden amid the ruins of Mayfield, speaking from his deep base of understanding about matters geophysical, quote:

We got 99 billion of damage just this year just this year because of weather and climate change.

End quote.

The president's FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell — that's F-E-M-A, the Federal Emergency Management Administration, FEMA — had enlarged somewhat on that Sunday morning to a CNN interviewer, quote from her:

This is going to be our new normal, and the effects that we're seeing from climate change are the crisis of our generation.

End quote.

Like the climate never changed before evil white men came along with their beastly automobiles.

As it happens, that same Sunday morning my bathroom reading — oh, you know what I mean — was the Fall 2019 special issue of Scientific American magazine, all about human origins. Sample quote from page 13:

Just how wet things got is recorded in magnificent rock art drawn between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago by humans during the most recent wet period in North Africa. Art found across the Sahara depicts lush landscapes filled with elephants, hippopotamuses, giraffes, crocodiles and bands of hunters chasing gazelles. The Sahara was covered with grass and trees; lake basins, now overrun by sand dunes, were filled to the brim with water …

End quote.

And of course, nobody should be allowed to utter the phrase "climate change" without being asked for their opinion on nuclear power generation.

These were minor blemishes, though. For the most part the tornado calamity was dealt with sensitively and non-politically, as natural calamities should be. Just for once, a major event involving great human loss and suffering was not anybody's fault.


03 — 2024 prospects.     OK, politics. I grew up in a country where political campaigns for the highest executive office lasted three weeks if you were unlucky. I have never quite become acclimatized to the American style, where they are more or less continuous. I do my best, though, as a good immigrant should; so here are some comments about the 2024 presidential election, three years from now.

The two big questions under discussion are: (a) will Trump run? and (b) will Biden run? The current consensus among the pundits seems to be: Trump probably, Biden probably not.

My opinion: I hope neither will run. For one thing, they're both way too old. Elected in November 2024, stepping down in January 2029, Trump would be 82, Biden 86. I don't want people that old running the country. I'm getting up there myself, and I can clearly remember how much quicker I was mentally and how much work I packed into the day back in my fifties and sixties.

It's possible Trump could still be alert and effective at 82; but I wasn't much impressed with his recent presidency, and there are way better — and younger — Republicans out there. As tweeter Andrew Smith has observed, we could have Trump in '24 or, tweet:

Or we could have a nominee who's actually interested in governing with a conservative vision instead of someone who's shitposting all day and golfing at Mar-a-Largo on weekends while leaving the presidency in the hands of his beloved son-in-law and First Daughter.

End tweet.

Most notably, we could have Ron DeSantis, currently governor of Florida. Hardly a day passes that I don't see a news story about DeSantis saying something sensible and patriotic.

Last Friday he was on Tucker Carlson's show talking about policies he's putting in place to counter the Biden administration's surreptitiously relocating illegal aliens to Florida. Contractors involved in these operations, he said, will be barred from state contracts and forced to pay restitution to the state for the costs incurred by these illegals. quote:

We've got a lot of people in our state that need help, and we can't just have people who are from foreign countries displacing the needs of our own people.

End quote.

Monday a Washington Post columnist called this policy, quote, "cruelty to immigrant children," end quote. DeSantis' official spokesperson fired right back with, quote:

We might start taking the Washington Post seriously if they convert their enormous office building, in one of DC's most expensive neighborhoods, into a facility for unaccompanied minors.

End quote, and yee-haw!

Then on Wednesday I saw Governor Ron promoting his new legislative proposal to let parents sue school boards if their kids are taught critical race theory in a public school. In the fine old American tradition of silly acronyms for legislation, this one is titled the "Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act." Geddit? "Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees" acronymizes as "W.O.K.E.," so this is the "Stop the WOKE Act." Nifty.

Would a President DeSantis break our hearts? Might he, once elected, head off to the political center and end up just another globalist, amnesty-pushing, Chamber of Commerce RINO? Once transferred out of his natural habitat in Florida to Washington, D.C. — swamps to Swamp, as it were — might Ron DeSantis prove to be all safari cap and no oranges?

Sure, he might. There's no certainty in politics, only probabilities. DeSantis has put his legislation where his mouth is, though, and his mouth is in the right place.

Thanks to him, as of January 1st this year Florida is one of the 22 states requiring mandatory E-Verify for most employers. As president, he could make it federal law, cutting off illegal aliens from work opportunities. Could Donald Trump have done that? He could have tried. Did he? Nah.

For Donald Trump, the good and patriotic thing to do would be to follow the example of Lyndon Johnson in 1968, who was following the example of William Tecumseh Sherman in 1884. Quote from Sherman:

I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.

End quote.

At the end of his first term in January 2029, Ron DeSantis will be a brisk and experienced fifty, not a decrepit and burned-out 82. He will, in fact, be in fighting trim for a second term. I look forward to it.

As for Joe Biden seeking a second term: Perish the thought! It's not impossible, though.

There are two forces here pulling in contrary directions. One is Biden's own party. I doubt there is a sentient member of that party who thinks Biden could win in 2024. After a couple more years of blunders, bloopers, and flatulence, they'll be seeking a way — any way — to replace him.

Pulling the other way, though, is the Swamp: the permanent government in Washington, D.C. These people, the people who run the managerial state — the intelligence agencies, the defense and tech-company lobbyists, the Justice Department activists, the bureaucrats — these people love having Biden in the White House. They can do as they please, run things as they like, confident that Mumblin' Joe will put up no resistance. They've never had such a pliable puppet in the Oval Office. They will fight to keep him there.

So, it's going to be an interesting three years. As a part-time pundit, I guess I should be glad of the employment opportunities. Still, as a family man and a patriot with interests outside politics, I can't help wishing it was only three weeks.


04 — Our lawless society (cont.)     I've been banging on recently about how we have become a lawless nation. Here are some random updates on that.

When I got my Suffolk County pistol permit back in 2000 there was a three-month wait between applying and getting the permit. I just learned this week that the current wait time is a year and a half.

How did wait time for approval of a pistol permit go from three months to six times as long? I asked the police spokeslady. She, quote: "We're hopelessly backed up. Everyone wants a pistol permit nowadays." End quote.

I think that's what financial analysts call "a leading indicator." I shall have much more to say about it in my December Diary a couple of weeks from now.

[Added when archiving:  A reader with many years' experience as an officer in the New York court system tells me that a year-and-a-half delay is illegal. "The original NY Supreme Court decision gave police exactly 183 days (1/2 year) to show why a permit should not be granted, or grant it." I suspect, however, that anyone who protested this would find his application swiftly rejected. They'd find something.]

Next: There's a meme going round — I think it's a meme — from which I am deriving much quiet pleasure. Pedro Gonzalez from Chronicles magazine offered it on Twitter the other day.

Pedro starts from a letter dated December 9th to the leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives in D.C.: Schumer, McConnell, Pelosi, and McCarthy.

The letter is signed by 21 members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, representing big chain retailers like Best Buy, Foot Locker, Nordstrom, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and so on. These retailers beg the congressfolk to do something or other about the current outbreak of flagrant looting that is mostly going unpunished.

Above the link to that letter Pedro tweets the following, tweet:

Virtually every CEO here supported Black Lives Matter amid last year's riots while people got killed and small businesses got ruined.

So they *deserve* to have their stores wrecked. These looters are just giving CEOs what they deserve, good and hard.

End tweet.

As I said: much quiet pleasure.

Now this one from the New York Post, December 9th. Headline: Beverley Hills residents arming themselves with guns in wake of violence.

Yes: all those affluent liberals in 90210, like the inhabitants of my own humble county, are arming up.

They feel terrible about it, of course. Or not so much terrible as in denial: the Post quotes Vera Markowitz, a former 1960s radical who was a member of Students for a Democratic Society, a far-left group, before moving to Beverley Hills. Quote from her:

I think I'm still radical, but I'm radical in the middle. I'm just not on the extreme of anything. I've always believed that when you believe in something, you fight for whatever it is.

End quote.

Yeah, whatever, Vera. Just make sure to plant your feet in a good firm stance before taking aim.

Here's a different kind of lawlessness: the lawlessness of high government officials.

As we all know, many of the January 6th Capitol Hill protestors are still in jail after almost a year, in spite of not having been convicted of anything, or even brought to trial. The precise jail they are in is the Washington, D.C. Central Detention Facility, the CDF. Deputy Warden of the CDF is one Kathleen Landerkin, a fifty-something white lady.

Ms Landerkin, it has turned out, is a raging, screeching leftist with a very advanced case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. She has a Twitter trail of crude, savage attacks on Trump supporters, sample, quote, "I can't wait until you're all extinct," end tweet. She had such a Twitter trail, I should say: Ms Landerkin has now deleted her Twitter account.

Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene and thirteen other Republicans have sent a letter to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser calling for the immediate termination of Ms Landerkin.

Given that this is the same Mayor who, following the death of lowlife junkie hoodlum George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, declared her support for Black Lives Matter terrorism, and who actually ordered the words BLACK LIVES MATTER painted in huge yellow letters all across 16th Street near the Trump White House, I doubt the letter from MTG & Co. will have any effect, but it's good to see our congresscritters taking a stand for what's right.

Finally in this portmanteau segment, here is a follow-up to my remarks last week about the Kim Potter trial in Minneapolis. Ms Potter, you'll recall, is the white police officer, now ex-police officer, who shot black-ish Daunte Wright back in April. Wright was another urban lowlife in the tradition of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin, with a warrant out for armed robbery.

A Radio Derb listener emailed in to tell me that with Daunte Wright's lawyers suing the city and county for a George-Floyd-sized civil settlement, a law firm representing Daunte Wright's victims is suing his estate for a nice big piece of that settlement.

As of November 29th there were three of these lawsuits against Daunte Wright's estate.

  • One filed in May accusing Wright of shooting then-16-year-old Caleb Livingston in the head outside a gas station in north Minneapolis in May 2019.

  • A second one filed in June alleging that Wright and an accomplice robbed and carjacked Joshua Hodges, a 20-year-old Black man, just weeks before Wright was killed. The accomplice allegedly opened the driver's side door of Hodges' parked car in north Minneapolis and shot him in the leg, causing "massive bleeding" and fracturing his fibula.

  • A third civil lawsuit filed November 29th accusing Wright of assault and battery, sexual assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress related to the attempted robbery at gunpoint of a young woman — the incident that led to there being an arrest warrant out for Wright at the time of his death.

So when Benjamin Crump, who is representing Daunte Wright's family against the city and the county, gets a nice big fat settlement like the $27m he got for George Floyd's family, this other law firm will swoop in for a share of it to distribute to Daunte Wright's victims.

Since Crump will have his contingency fee safely in the bank at that point, I doubt he'll care.

Ah, the ghetto lottery!


05 — Fall of the U.S.S.R., 30 years on.     A thing that seems to me worth commemorating, but for which I see no evidence of any upcoming commemorations, is the end of the Soviet Union thirty years ago next week.

There are some finicky points of definition there. The U.S.S.R. didn't end with a single sudden clap of thunder. Its disintegration was a multi-stage process. There was a coup that failed; Gorbachev resigned as the general secretary of the Communist Party; the Party itself was banned; various of the Soviet Republics declared independence at different times; then on December 25th 1991 Gorbachev resigned the presidency. The following day, December 26th, the Supreme Soviet voted both itself and the Soviet Union out of existence.

Wikipedia tells us that, quote:

This is generally recognized as marking the official, final dissolution of the Soviet Union as a functioning state, and the end of the Cold War.

End quote.

The end of the Cold War? You'd never know it. Our relations with Russia are as fraught now as they were in the late 1980s. The fact that this is so, when neither of our nations has any territorial claim on the other, nor even on any of the other's formal allies, is the greatest failure in U.S. foreign policy this past thirty years — and that's saying a lot.

Why is it so? If you ask foreign policy types you'll be told it was Russia's takeover of the Crimea in 2014 and the constitutional shenanigans of the years that followed. Come on, you say, relations were sour before that, weren't they?

Oh yes, your foreign policy guy will say: Well, there was the war with Georgia in 2008, and the crushing of the Chechens before that. Hoo-kay; but so far as I can figure, the Georgia War was Georgia's fault, just reactive on Russia's part. And the Chechens were drifting off into Islamic lunacy, so the Russians did us a favor there. Neither thing was any direct business of ours, anyway.

Now your foreign policy man is looking at his watch and fidgeting. He mutters something about moralistic distaste for the corruption and lawlessness of the Yeltsin years in the nineties. Sure, but we could have helped with that, couldn't we? Yeltsin's people would have appreciated some help, I'm sure.

Some deft diplomacy in the nineties might have positioned us as a friend of Mother Russia; but deft diplomacy seems not to be something we do.

You'll hear it said that over-representation of Jewish Americans in the State Department is a key factor. People like Victoria Nuland, the theory goes, grew up hearing about great-grandad's tales of Cossacks storming through the village, and inherited this atavistic image of Russians as the archetype of the persecuting goy.

The problem with that is that while great-grandad may have been hearing the hoofbeats of the Cossacks, grandad and grandma — or Mom and Dad, in older cases — were likely pro-Soviet leftists. Vivian Gornick, born 1935, opened her 1977 memoir The Romance of American Communism, with the sentence, quote:

Before I knew that I was Jewish or a girl I knew that I was a member of the working class.

End quote.

Pro-Soviet is not the same as pro-Russian, of course, but it's a short step. Victoria Nuland studied Russian literature for her B.A. degree at Brown. So how did she get from pro-Russian to anti-Russian?

OK, the other party will say if you get this far in the conversation; OK, then perhaps these Jewish-American red-diaper babies are mad at Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin for giving up on the communist dream.

I guess that's possible. But then, why aren't they just as mad at Deng Xiaoping and his successors for making communist China the nation with the second-largest number of billionaires, behind only the U.S.A.?

At that point everyone gets fed up and breaks for coffee.


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

Imprimis:  I said back there in my first segment that tornadoes are not anybody's fault. That may not be a hundred percent true.

Many years ago — at least fifty years ago — I recall reading in some science magazine that tornadoes may in fact be the fault of whoever it was that decided we Americans should drive on the right.

In Britain, the argument went, they drive on the left, and tornadoes are extremely rare in Britain. In the U.S.A. we drive on the right and tornadoes are quite common. Why is this?

The writer argued that with millions of vehicles constantly zipping past each other in opposite directions, each driver seeing the other vehicle zip on his left-hand side, the atmosphere over the U.S.A. is roiled by corresponding millions of little counter-clockwise vortices — micro-tornadoes, caused by all that zipping.

Under certain atmospheric conditions, many of these micro-tornadoes will merge together to form a full tornado, with an assist from the Coriolis force — the natural tendency of large fluid masses in the northern hemisphere to go into counter-clockwise rotation.

For the Brits, driving on the left, all those micro-tornadoes are rotating clockwise; so even if a lot of them merge together to full tornado size, their rotation will be killed off, not fortified, by the Coriolis forces.

My question is: Why can I still remember dumb articles like that one from a magazine in some dentist's waiting room around 1965, when I can't remember where I left my car in the supermarket parking lot twenty minutes ago? The mind is a mysterious thing.

[Added when archiving:  Our editorial researcher tells me the suggestion that cars driven on the right cause tornadoes is, in fact, only 45 years old. See here. So my memory is shot … OK.]


Item:  New York City, in whose outer-outer suburbs I dwell, has a new mayor taking office on January 1st. This is Eric Adams, a black guy, about whom I expressed some qualified reservations in my October 29th podcast.

Adams has been building his executive team. His choice for Schools Chancellor is David Banks, another black guy, although lighter than Adams.

Then on Tuesday this week we saw Adams' pick for city Police Commissioner: 49-year-old Keechant Sewell, a black lady. Ms Sewell seems decently well-qualified for the job. Her current position is Chief of Detectives for Nassau County, the suburban county abutting New York City on the east.

Neither of these picks has any record of expressing belief in preposterous things. Both seem, in fact, by the admittedly crazy-left standards of New York City, to be somewhat right of center.

Ms Sewell spoiled the effect somewhat by holding her first press conference as Commissioner-in-waiting in front of a huge gaudy mural depicting a reverential pantheon of black American radicals, terrorists, and murderers: Nat Turner, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Huey Newton, and Joanne Chesimard. Still, she doesn't appear to be as homicidally antiwhite as they were, or are.

So thus far New York City's black Mayor-elect has picked two black people for key positions in his administration. New York City is 22 percent black.

Just a word in your ear, Mr Mayor-elect. The word is: equity.


Item:  Some listeners have grumbled — and in one case, sputtered — over my expressing sympathy for Jussie Smollett last week.

To be fair to myself, I did describe Jussie as, quote, "an idiot … and a deeply unattractive human being," end quote; but that was after expressing the opinion that his case should have ended when charges were dropped in March 2019 in return for payment of some minor penalties. This later trial was, I said, a waste of everybody's time.

I certainly agree that Jussie Smollett's behavior was very deplorable. How criminal was it, though?

It was hardly criminal at all. Nobody's pocket was picked; nobody's leg was broken. It was a trivial offense deserving of trivial punishment. Those penalties — a ten-thousand-dollar fine and sixteen hours of community service — seem to me to have been quite appropriate.

But isn't it against the law to promote an outrageous blood libel against the white race? No, it isn't. To the contrary, it's a road to wealth and fame: ask Robin DiAngelo or Ibram X. Kendi.

What about the waste of public resources, those 3,000 police hours that Chief Johnson complained about? Chicago has civil recourse and they are taking it, suing Jussie for $130,000, which they say is the cost of the police investigation. Jussie's two Nigerian butt-buddies are also suing him, I can't be bothered to figure out why.

My guiding star here is a nineteenth-century British jurist — whose name unfortunately escapes me — who was getting into his carriage one day to go to the Old Bailey just as a neighbor passed by. "Ah," said the neighbor, "I see you are off to dispense justice." Replied my hero: "Certainly not. I am off to dispense the law."

[Added when archiving:  This story was told of Oliver Wendell Holmes by Learned Hand. I heard it told of some British jurist, though. Possibly it has been told of more than one jurist; possibly it was actually said by more than one; possibly it is entirely apocryphal; or possibly the person who told me it was muddled …]


07 — Signoff.     That's all I have for you this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for your time and attention; and if you feel moved to help those whose lives have been upended by the tornadoes last weekend, the website once again is That's one of them, anyway; I'm sure there are others.

For signout music, I'm in the mood for something slow and soothing. Here's one of the slowest and soothingest pieces I know: the intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana, performed here by Britain's National Philharmonic Orchestra under the late great operatic conductor Gianandrea Gavazzeni.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Take it away, maestro.


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