01m49s Triple lynching in Jim Snow Georgia. (My savage indignation.)
11m01s The case for complacent seat-warmers. (Biden makes McConnell look good!)
16m01s Supremely dumb. (Sotomayorian metaphysics.)
25m18s New York's mayoralty. (A corrupt-a-palooza in the making.)
30m03s The wisdom of The Talk. (A warning for Good Samaritans.)
35m46s Our gerontocracy. (Don't vote for geezers!)
37m33s Imaginary feats. (Joe Biden and George IV.)
40m22s Population clock mysteries. (A third of a billion…when?)
43m00s Remembering Colin Flaherty. (I could spell his name.)
43m50s James Webb Space Telescope news. (All good so far.)
44m57s Signoff. (Wokery at the Beeb.)
01—Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your presumptuously genial host John Derbyshire, here with VDARE.com's commentary on the week's news.
The great 18th-century satirist Jonathan Swift, the chap who wrote Gulliver's Travels, also wrote his own epitaph, as people sometimes do. "Here he lies," says the epitaph in Latin, "ubi sæva indignatio ulterius cor lacerare nequit"—"where savage indignation can no longer lacerate his heart."
I am nothing like as much of a misanthrope as Swift, thank goodness. As Radio Derb listeners well know, I cultivate geniality. Still, I am not a total stranger to savage indignation. There are times, blessedly few and far between, when I boil and seethe with righteous anger at the stupidity and cruelty of my fellow human beings.
This is one of those times.
02—Triple lynching in Jim Snow Georgia. Savage indignation, yes. That was my reaction to the sentencing last Friday of Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and their neighbor Roddie Bryan in the show trial over the death of Ahmaud Arbery two years ago. The two McMichaels were both sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. Bryan will be eligible for parole but only after he serves the mandatory minimum of 30 years in prison. He is 52 years old, so good luck there, guy.
These were three honest, hard-working citizens, none of whom had any criminal record. Both the McMichaels had in fact served in law enforcement. Their intentions in confronting Arbery were plain: to defend their neighborhood against a likely thief who, whether or not they knew it, did have a criminal record.
Travis McMichael shot Arbery in plain self-defense when Arbery was trying to wrestle away his gun. Gregory McMichael didn't shoot anybody—he was trying to call the police. Roddie Bryan wasn't even armed.
Now their lives have been brutally destroyed, along with the lives of Mrs McMichael (who has cancer), her daughter, Travis' five-year-old son, and Roddie Bryan's fiancée and their two children.
I can't think of any other way to see this monstrous act of state cruelty other than the way I saw it when the trial was under way back in October: as a ritual sacrifice to the dark gods revered in our weird, sick state religion of white self-hatred. Quote from me back then, following a reference to the Aztecs, edited quote:
When we offer up our sacrifices … We stage a show trial modeled on the actual trials that used to be conducted before our justice system was taken over by ideological fanatics. The verdict is of course a foregone conclusion. Then we lock up our sacrificial victim for decades in a place of humiliation and despair, parted for ever from his home, his family, and his work.
This is far more cruel than anything the Aztecs would have contemplated.
The McMichaels and Roddie Bryan were sentenced for being white. It couldn't be more obvious. Does anyone—does anyone —think that sentences like this would have been handed down if they had been black petty criminals and Ahmaud Arbery a white mechanic?
The spectacle is made even uglier by the sight of the usual hyenas hovering around. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton showed up at the trial, and a posse of rifle-toting black anarchists stood watch outside the courthouse. Ahmaud Arbery's mother was dabbing her eyes as she told us what a lovely person her son was, apparently having forgotten that she was so scared of him she'd called the cops at least once. His father Marcus showed up, although whether he had played any part in raising Ahmaud we have not been told.
Who cares? The ghetto lottery is the prize now—cash from civil lawsuits. Benjamin Crump is involved somehow, looking forward to his share no doubt. [Ker-ching!] For this, half a dozen white lives have been destroyed.
Not the least depressing thing about this case is that such a monstrous injustice has been protested by nobody at all of any prominence in the media or politics. Tucker Carlson, to the best of my knowledge, has not mentioned it. Greg Gutfeld seems to have approved the verdict. Someone told me Laura Ingraham has expressed approval too, although I can't find an online link and would be glad to know it's not true. Republican op-ed writers, congresscritters and ex-presidents? [Crickets.]
Out here on the Dissident Right we have been protesting: most eloquently Jared Taylor here at VDARE.com, November 26th and January 8th. Also our correspondent "Federale" on November 26th, and of course your genial host myself on October 22nd, November 19th, November 26th, and December 10th.
An email correspondent offers the opinion, which I think correct, that we now have four different legal systems.
I thought perhaps talking about this might soothe my savage indignation; but no, it's still lacerating my heart. I shall therefore stop here, except just, in the spirit of a public service announcement, to repeat the advice I offered in November. Back there I said, quote:
The video shot by William Bryan, which shows Travis McMichael and Arbery struggling for Travis's shotgun, was not known about until the defendants voluntarily gave it to the authorities, on the assumption that it would help prove Travis was acting in self-defense.
The lesson to be drawn, listeners, is, once again: If you are white and being investigated by public authorities, and there is a dead black person to be accounted for, do not co-operate in any way with the investigation. In particular, don't offer them anything that you think might help your case. They'll just find a way to use it against you.
03—The case for complacent seat-warmers. Joe Biden did a truly astonishing thing this week: He made Mitch McConnell look good!
It happened thus. On Tuesday in Atlanta Biden gave a speech at the Atlanta University Center about voting rights. The Center is in a part of Atlanta with a lot of historically black colleges. You can read a transcript of the speech at the White House website.
The gist of the speech was that if Congress doesn't pass legislation to impose federal rules on voting—rules that loosen up voting procedures even more than they were loosened up in 2020 to make sure Donald Trump didn't get elected—if Congress didn't legislate thus, George Wallace would rise from the grave and stand in the schoolhouse door. There'd be an end of Civil Rights, and black Americans would be back where they were in 1952, if not 1852.
I've been struggling to find an adjective to describe the speech. To call it "hyperbolic" would be to understate the matter. It would in fact be an example of litotes, which as every rhetorician knows is the opposite of hyperbole. The most apt adjective for Biden's speech is, I think, "unhinged."
The following day, Wednesday, Mitch McConnell made a speech in the U.S. Senate about Biden's speech. You can read the transcript of that at McConnell's senate website, mcconnell.senate.gov. The usually mild-mannered McConnell took Biden to pieces.
A President shouting that 52 Senators and millions of Americans are racist unless he gets whatever he wants is proving exactly why the Framers built the Senate to check his power. This whole display is the best possible argument for preserving the Senate rules that extend deliberation, force bipartisan compromise, and let cooler heads prevail. Nothing proves it better than this episode. It offers a perfect case study in why Senator Biden was right about the filibuster and President Biden is wrong.
I'm no fan of Mitch McConnell. He's been in the Senate for 37 years, been GOP leader in the Senate for six years, without much to show for it. There are some plain and obvious things that need doing at the federal level: most notably from the point of view of this website, things concerning immigration and citizenship. McConnell hasn't stirred himself to advance any of those things.
We live in wild times, though, with some wild people in power planning wild things, and a president who supports them, and wild destructive mobs to act as their enforcers. At such times there is something to be said for the old, complacent, rule-governed, transactional model of legislative power. That model doesn't get much done; but like ballast in a ship, it may stop the thing capsizing.
So yes: McConnell is a go-along, get-along milquetoast non-confrontational seat-warmer who is never going to do anything to challenge birthright citizenship, or end our imperial adventures, or ban public-sector unions.
Still, set right up against Crazy Joe like that, McConnell sounds like Pericles by comparison. Well done there, Mitch.
04—Supremely dumb. When first settling in to this country, I naively assumed that Supreme Court justices were chosen for being the wisest and most learned of all our multitude of legal scholars.
That was naive. I now understand, what I think Americans at large all understand, that wisdom and learning are very minor factors, if they are even factors at all, in the selection of Supreme Court justices. These justices are not chosen for their wisdom or learning; they are chosen for political acceptability.
We got two nice illustrations of this on Friday last week in debates over the constitutionality of the OSHA mandate requiring all employers of at least a hundred people to enforce vaccinations or regular testing. Well, perhaps not really two illustrations; maybe one and a half.
The half was Justice Stephen Breyer claiming that there were, actual quote, "750 million new cases yesterday," end quote. The population of the U.S.A. last Thursday was in fact 332 million and change, according to the Bureau of the Census' population clock.
Well, look: Obviously Justice Breyer meant to say "750 thousand." That "million" was a slip of the tongue, of the kind that we all make, although people as old as Justice Breyer—he's 83—make a lot more of them than the average. That's why I've only given him half a demerit.
I might have given him a totally free pass except that Justice Breyer also claimed, when working the numbers, that vaccines and masks would prevent a hundred percent of coronavirus infections. Not even the most fanatical proponents of masks and vaccines claim that. That is just ignorance.
The real depths of dumbassery, however, were plumbed by Justice Sotomayor. Sample question from her, addressed to an attorney arguing against the mandate, quote:
Why is a human being not like a machine if it's spewing a virus, blood-borne viruses?
In exactly what respects human beings are like machines has been vexing metaphysicians at least since the time of Descartes four hundred years ago. A hundred years after that, in 1747, the French philosopher Julien Offray de La Mettrie published his book L'homme machine—"Man the Machine"—which you can now read for free, with a parallel-text English translation, at the Gutenberg website.
I seriously doubt that Justice Sotomayor had metaphysics on her mind. I would be surprised, in fact, to learn that she has ever heard of Descartes, let alone Offray de La Mettrie. She is one seriously dumb broad, even by Supreme Court standards.
She demonstrated that in this same hearing by saying that, quote:
We have over 100,000 children, which we've never had before, in serious condition and many on ventilators.
The actual number of children hospitalized with covid as Justice Sotomayor was speaking was less than five thousand. I don't know where she got that hundred thousand from. Most likely she just made it up.
The world's most primitive people—hunter-gatherers in the Amazon jungle or the New Guinea highlands—are said to have words in their languages only for the numbers one, two, and three. Any quantity above that is covered by a word meaning "many." So they count: "one, two, three, many."
Innumerate people in civilized countries are something like that. They can count way past three, of course. They can count to a hundred or a thousand. Still, in their mental landscape, anything more than a few dozen is just "many." Five thousand, a hundred thousand, a million, … Eh, it's all the same, isn't it?
I have always known Justice Sotomayor is dumb, but I didn't appreciate just how dumb she is until I read Helen Andrews' book Boomers, which came out last year. The book's subtitle is: "The Men and Women Who Promised Freedom and Delivered Disaster," so you can see the angle Ms Andrews is approaching her subject from.
She honors six boomers with a chapter each of their own, and Justice Sotomayor is one of the six. The chapter on Justice Sotomayor is 26 pages long, and it's … withering. Sotomayor is, Helen Andrews tells us with a wealth of supporting quotes and instances, a narcissist, a bully, and intellectually mediocre.
That last defect is not unusual on the Supreme Court. Helen Andrews reminds us that Earl Warren, who was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1953 to 1969 was, quote from her, "as dumb as a post," end quote. That's not an isolated opinion: Andrews supplies supporting quotes from Warren's colleagues and legal peers.
Note those dates when Warren was Chief Justice: most of the fifties and all of the sixties, the years when judicial activism—legislating from the bench—found its legs and started running. As Helen Andrews writes, quote:
Earl Warren … changed America more than any single human being in the second half of the twentieth century … The decisions of the Warren court reshaped America dramatically.
All that from a guy Felix Frankfurter referred to as "that dumb Swede." In fact Earl Warren was only half Swedish; the other half was Norwegian. Nobody who knew him seems to have disputed the "dumb," though.
That's how our highest court went from interpreting the law to making the law. Justice Sotomayor is fine with it. Wisdom? Only in her own opinion. Learning? Nah. But look: she's female, and a Puerto Rican—just what the Supreme Court needs!
Dumb people making dumb laws. But wait: isn't that what Congress is for?
05—The Wisdom of The Talk: (1) Political Corruption. A little short of ten years ago—the precise anniversary is April 5th—I published a column titled "The Talk: Nonblack Version" at Taki's Magazine.
That was in the panic that followed George Zimmerman shooting Trayvon Martin in Florida. Black journalists had been publishing weepy articles about how they had to give The Talk to their kids, to warn them about the white-supremacist assassins who lurk around every corner in the U.S.A.
I pushed back with a talk that nonblack citizens might give to their kids, to warn them about black crime and antisocial behavior.
I thought I should include some cautions about political corruption, which you get much more of when blacks hold power.
So in my numbered list of advice items there were the following.
The voters of New York City should have paid attention.
I have passed some comments in previous podcasts about New York City's new Mayor, Eric Adams, who is black. My earliest comments, back in October when the election was under way, were not enthusiastc; but, willing to give a new guy a chance, I left open the possibility that he might work out OK.
Then, in mid-December, when Adams had been elected and was announcing his first picks for senior executives in his administration, I was still trying to be charitable. I noted that, while both picks announced to that point were black, neither was obviously crazy.
Now I'm thinking I was too charitable. One of those December picks, David Banks for Schools Chancellor, has a brother named Philip. Adams has named Philip Banks as his deputy mayor of public safety, notwithstanding Banks was named by the feds as an unindicted co-conspirator in a big corruption case when he was chief of the New York City police department.
Then, once settled into office on January 1st, Mayor Adams named his own brother Bernard, a retired city police sergeant, as a Deputy City Police Commissioner on an annual salary of $240,000. When people protested that this was nepotism, His Honor's response was that Bernard, quote, "will be in charge of my security, which is extremely important to me at a time when we see an increase in white supremacy and hate crimes." End quote.
For some reason that didn't still the protests, so the Mayor backed down some. Bernard would, he said, be given a slightly lesser post, as Executive Director of Mayoral Security on an annual salary of only $210,000.
And we're not even one month into Adams' mayoralty yet.
I'm going to throw charity to the winds and predict that Eric Adams' mayoralty will be a corrupt-a-palooza.
06—The Wisdom of The Talk: (2) Good Samaritans. In the previous segment I mentioned my April 2012 column titled "The Talk: Nonblack Version." I made particular mention of items (10f) and (10g) in my list of prescriptions, concerning black political corruption.
Right after those two items there came of course (10h).
Finding examples to illustrate that presented no problem at all. The news outlets are full of them. The great Colin Flaherty, who we lost for ever this week, provided a sheaf of them.
Here's another from this week's news.
Around half past eight Wednesday morning this week—when it was really, seriously cold—a 58-year-old white man was walking along Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan when he saw a homeless black guy lying curled up, apparently asleep, on the sidewalk with nothing covering him.
The white man took off his own coat and gently draped it over the other … whereupon the black man grabbed him, pulled him down, and took the wallet from his back pocket.
The Good Samaritan tried to get his wallet back; but the black guy punched him, knocked him down, kicked him, and ran off. You can see the whole thing on surveillance video at the New York Post website.
The perp was soon caught. We now know that he is 25-year-old Xavier Israel. It turns out he is a particular menace to Good Samaritans. Quote from the New York Post, January 15th, quote:
On January 8th he allegedly attacked a 49-year-old woman on 5th Avenue and East 84th Street after she saw him sleeping on the ground and tried to help.
That January 8th incident was just a few days after, on January 2nd, he'd been arrested for assaulting a man and a woman in Central Park. I don't know if the Central Park couple were trying to help him. If they were, and they were nonblack, and if the January 8th Good Samaritan lady was nonblack too, that would make Xavier Israel an item (10h) trifecta.
For both of those earlier incidents Israel had been given a desk appearance ticket and set free. For the one this Wednesday, though, where he assaulted and robbed the 58-year-old white male Good Samaritan who'd tried to give him his coat, prosecutors have ordered that Israel be held on $25,000 bail.
That has stirred angry protests from Brian Kennedy, Israel's lawyer. It goes totally against the memo issued by just-elected Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, as described by Radio Derb last week.
D.A. Bragg, whose campaign was financed by George Soros, wants detention only for homicide and a small handful of other serious crimes. Second-degree robbery, which is what Xavier Israel is charged with, is not serious enough.
So Israel should be turned loose, argues this Brian Kennedy, his attorney. Actual quote from him, referring to D.A. Bragg's memo:
If you're gonna make that kind of statement in the memo then you should abide by it. They didn't, [they] argued for bail when he should have been presumptuously released.
End quote. And yes, I double-checked that. He really did say "presumptuously," at any rate according to the Post.
I hope I won't be thought too presumptuous if I claim that "The Talk: Nonblack Version" is holding up pretty well coming up to its tenth birthday.
07—Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Having praised Mitch McConnell there, looking up the dates he's served in office I happened to notice that his eightieth birthday is coming up on the twentieth of next month. It's way early to wish Mitch "Happy Birthday!," but I do anyway.
Now I'm going to take the shine off that by grumbling that the guy is way too old to be in charge of the Senate GOP.
What on earth has happened here? We are ruled by geezers. Joe Biden 79, Nancy Pelosi 81, talk of Donald Trump running against Hillary Clinton in 2024 when he'll be 78 and she'll be 77 … McConnell's opposite number Chuck Schumer at 71 is a spring chicken.
Human beings are very variable, of course, but we really shouldn't take chances like this with the governance of our country. In the great majority of cases, the balance between youthful energy and elderly wisdom is at its optimum between ages 45 and 65. I'm going to make a personal vow not to vote for anyone in the most senior offices—President, Vice President, Senator, Governor—outside that age range.
Item: In his Tuesday speech the president dropped one of his habitual teasers about how, as a young man, he had been involved in the Civil Rights movement. Quote from the White House transcript:
I did not walk in the shoes of generations of students who walked these grounds. But I walked other grounds. Because I'm so damn old, I was there as well.
You think I'm kidding, man. It seems like yesterday the first time I got arrested. Anyway …
I've never seen any evidence that Biden was active in the Civil Rights movement, or that he got arrested. My guess is, however, that he's been telling these tales for so long, he believes them.
There is a precedent here. Britain's monarch through the 1820s was George the Fourth, one of the worst monarchs ever: vain, selfish, frivolous, and irresponsible. As the Victorian ditty went:
George the First was always reckoned
Vile; but viler George the Second.
And what mortal ever heard
Any good of George the Third?
When to Heaven the Fourth ascended
God be praised! the Georges ended.
The twentieth century actually turned up two more Georges, so the Victorians were being over-optimistic there.
Well, in his later years George the Fourth got it fixed in his mind that he had played a glorious part in the Battle of Waterloo, leading his own regiment of cavalry down a strategic hill towards the enemy. In fact he had been nowhere near Waterloo. Still, at a banquet where the Duke of Wellington was present, the king boasted of this imaginary feat, and appealed to the Duke to support his story. Was it not a steep hill he had charged down? The Duke famously replied: "Very steep, your Majesty."
Item: Concerning the Census Bureau's population clock, which I mentioned back there, I take its numbers with a large helping of salt. Do they include the tens of thousands of illegal aliens the Biden administration has been sluicing in? I'm sure they don't.
I am also puzzled to know why our population, as recorded there, has not yet reached a third of a billion. On the numbers for births and deaths presented there, in fact, I calculate the population counter will reach 333,333,333 around 6:14 a.m. on March 7th next year.
Here's a funny thing, though. In my monthly diary for October 2016 I did exactly the same calculation, using the same population clock from the Census Bureau. For the date when our population hits a third of a billion I came up with "sometime in the late evening of January 25th, 2020."
So we are way overdue—nearly two years overdue—for that third-of-a-billion mark, with a year still to go according to today's calculation.
When I did that calculation back in 2016, the rate of increase—births minus deaths plus net immigration—was shown as one person every twelve seconds. On the current clock it's shown as one person every forty seconds. That's a big slowdown, which I guess accounts for us being overdue on reaching a third of a billion.
That's assuming you believe the Census Bureau's numbers. Do I believe them? Well … I'd like to see an audit.
Item: Another footnote to the main commentary.
At one of my encounters with the late Colin Flaherty I impressed him by knowing the Irish spelling of his name.
In case you don't know, Irish spelling is even more eccentric and illogical than English spelling. "Flaherty" is spelt F-L-A-I-T-H-B-H-E-A-R-T-A-I-G-H. With Colin's passing, there is now one less person in the world who knows that.
Item: In my Christmas Eve podcast I looked forward with nervous anticipation to the Christmas Day launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Nervous, because this is an immensely complicated contraption and there were many things that might have gone wrong.
Nothing did, and the James Webb is now unfolded, intact, and well on its way to its stationary point a million miles from Earth where, after a few months of tests and calibrations, observations will commence later this year.
We are not out of the woods yet. There are still things that could go wrong; but hearty congratulations to NASA and their collaborators for getting this wonderful instrument this far in safety. Fingers crossed for the remainder of the mission!
08—Signoff. That's all for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you for your time and attention, and a very happy and relaxing Martin Luther King day to you!
One of the minor pleasures of living in England in the seventies and eighties was Radio 4, a BBC channel aimed at thoughtful, educated, middle-class types like your genial host. Along with serious stuff—plays, political commentary, and so on—they had programs that were fun, in a genteel kind of way. These were quiz programs of various kinds, none of them very serious, the guests usually celebrities of the minor sort.
One of these shows was titled "Quote … Unquote." It was all built around quotations. The chairman would offer a quotation and challenge the panel to say who or what was being quoted. Then participants would branch off with similar quotes, or contrary quotes, or anecdotes about whoever said it, … and so on.
My more bohemian friends scoffed at it as insufferably bourgeois, and even some non-bohemians thought it dull. I liked it, though, when I had nothing better to do.
It must have had some decent audience share: It ran for forty-six years with the same chairman, who was also the chap who'd thought it up in the first place, name of Nigel Rees. Some of the shows have been preserved on the BBC Sounds website, if you'd like to form your own opinion.
Rees wound up the show at the end of last year because of, yes, wokeness. The BBC is very woke, and he was finding it unbearably oppressive. The suits wanted him to have a diverse panel of guests, with their suitability to the show, as judged by Mr Rees, secondary.
One of the last straws was the suits' response when Rees had wanted to include some lines from Noel Coward's song "Mad Dogs And Englishmen," the lines
To move at all
Is seldom if ever done.
That, said the suits, wouldn't do, because it, quote, "reflected colonial attitudes," end quote. Shortly afterwards Rees quit, and the show came off the air.
Well, fie on the BBC and fie on all wokeness! Here is the second half of "Mad Dogs And Englishmen" where those shamefully colonial lines may be heard, sung here by Noel Coward himself.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Noel Coward, "Mad Dogs and Englishmen."]