JOHN DERBYSHIRE: The Coming Null-T Annulment?
Print Friendly and PDF

[Adapted from the latest Radio Derb, now available exclusively on]

Back at the beginning of the Biden administration—the very beginning: I’m looking at my podcast dated January 22, 2021, two days after the inauguration —I tried to float a meme. That’s a thing I have tried many times to do, with no success; but hope springs eternal.

The idea here, like an embarrassing number of my ideas, had its deep origins in the science fiction reading of my young-teen years. I gave the necessary background in that January 2021 podcast.

Back in the Golden Age of science fiction seventy-something years ago there was a novel everyone read, title The World of Null-A. It was about a future planet Earth that had moved on from simple Aristotelean logic to something more subtle. So the ”A” there stood for Aristotle.

Even then, in just the third day of Joe Biden’s Presidency, it was clear that the main motive principle of his administration was to undo everything Donald Trump had done.

Trump had made this easy for him. Essentially none of Trump’s accomplishments had been legislative, Trump not having the faintest shadow of a clue how to impose his will on Congress, not even on a Congress controlled for two years by his own party. Almost everything Trump did he did by—as Barack Obama was wont to say of his own governing style—by pen and phone; that is to say, by Executive Order.

So all Biden had to do was to rescind, revoke, cancel, and annul Trump’s executive orders. Biden had a further advantage, as I noted back then: ”Nothing he does will be contested by the Kritarchs of our Woke federal judiciary.”

I was already able—and this was, remember, just the third day of Biden’s Presidency—I was able to list four of these negations already accomplished.

Biden had:

That was all I had noted on a quick trawl through the previous two days of news. I’m sure there were others I’d missed.

”Trumpism,” I said with a literary flourish, ”is evaporating like the morning mist in a valley.” Then I summoned up the memory of that 1948 sci-fi novel and launched my meme, closing the segment with ”Welcome to the World of Null-T.”

I made later attempts to propagate the ”Null-T” meme. In August of that first Biden year, for example, in my August 20th podcast, I said:

Remember those pictures from back then in January of Biden at his desk in the Oval Office, working through a big stack of Trump’s executive orders, canceling every one? Do you think he paused to read them? Do you think that now and then he thought: ”Wait a minute: this one makes sense … maybe we should keep it”?

Nope: He just plowed through canceling every one. If Trump did it, it’s bad: Cancel it! The World of Null-T.

Now, three years and twelve days into Biden’s Presidency, we are well and truly in the World of Null-T. The Brookings Institution regulatory tracker shows 116 changes to federal regulations for the period from November 2021 to November 2023: 39 of them are flagged as ”Overturning Trump,” ”Overturning and replacing Trump,” or ”Delaying Trump.” That’s 33.6 percent, better than one in three.

To be absolutely, impeccably, perfectly fair to Biden, I surmise that the tracker for years two and three of any administration taking over from the other party would show them annulling some of their predecessor’s executive orders. But… one in three?

And I only started there in November 2021, when the first triumphant flush of Nullification would have passed.

Now, however, things are going into reverse. We are seeing a trend to the Nullification of Biden’s Nullifications of Trump orders—we are seeing Null-T annulment.

When the business with the Houthi bandits in Yemen shooting at our ships started up recently we learned that Trump had designated the Houthis a terrorist organization in January 2021, actually the day before Biden was sworn in [Trump Administration Moves To Brand Houthis In Yemen A Terrorist Group, NPR, January 11, 2021]. But then Joe Biden went Null-T and de-designated them on February 16th that year [Biden administration to lift blacklisting of Yemen’s Houthis, Al Jazeera, February 12, 2021].

Now of course they are back on the Terrorist List, de-de-designated, Null-T annulled [U.S. to Put Houthis Back on Terrorist List, by Vivian Salama and Daniel Nasaw, Wall Street Journal, January 16, 2024].

Same with this week’s news that UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, was involved in the Hamas border raid on Israel October 7th. This was no surprise to anyone acquainted with the U.N. and its works. But the Biden administration, along with at least nine other countries, have paused their funding of UNRWA pending further investigation[UNRWA funding pauses come amid uncertainty over Gaza aid future, by Adam Taylor, Washington Post, February1, 2024].

The Trump administration had stopped funding UNRWA in August 2018 [Trump administration to stop funding for UN Palestinian refugee program , by Adam Wise, The Hill, August 31, 2018]. Biden restored funding in April 2021 on the Null-T principle [Biden restores $200m in US aid to Palestinians slashed by Trump , Guardian, April 8, 2021]. Now funding is suspended again—another de-de-designation, another Null-T annulment.

It’s almost as if the World of Null-T is an inhospitable place, even for the people who created it.

I still like my ”World of Null-T” meme, but it never did get airborne. I guess 1948 sci-fi is just too esoteric for 2024 meme consumers.

Eh: dum spiro, spero.

John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him.) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He has had two books published by com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT II: ESSAYS 2013.

For years he’s been podcasting at Radio Derb, now available at for no charge. His writings are archived at

Print Friendly and PDF