01:07 The Defenestration of Tucker. (Now what do I do after dinner?)
12:23 Rest in peace, Bazza. (Remembering a great Australian.)
18:57 Democrats have a candidate! (But the party’s too far gone.)
23:36 Gesture politics on the national debt. (From both parties.)
29:45 Quantitative journalism at its best. (Heather Mac Donald’s new book.)
35:12 Striving for mediocrity. (It’s inclusive!)
37:25 The Singapore Stretch. (How to deal with drug dealers.)
39:01 Haiti in chaos. (When hasn’t it been?)
40:19 Wild Irish youth. (Fionn Mac Cumhail weeps.)
41:50 Mystery peacocks. (An ostentation of them.)
43:19 Signoff. (With a jailbird.)
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your ostentatiously genial host John Derbyshire, here with the 891st edition of Radio Derb, on the airwaves since 2004.
This week's Radio Derb has an unusual theme. It's not present in all my segments, but in enough of them to make it a theme, I think. Yes, this Radio Derb has an antipodean flavor.
Antipodean … let's see how it goes.
02 — The Defenestration of Tucker. We eat dinner at 7:30 p.m. in the Derb household. Mrs Derbyshire cooks, our son — who is single and lives a few blocks away — usually joins us, I say grace, and we dig in.
At eight o'clock, if we haven't finished eating, I excuse myself to go watch TV. That habit goes way back into the 1990s, when Fox News used to air The O'Reilly Factor at eight o'clock. I liked O'Reilly, with some qualifications. I spelled all that out in detail in a column I posted at National Review Online in 2001. Here's a sample from what I wrote those 22 years ago, quote:
O'Reilly is indeed an intelligent guy, but this is still TV we are talking about. As a commentator, he is no heavyweight. I would not claim for O'Reilly — I doubt he would claim it for himself — any great powers of insight or depth of understanding. His knowledge of history seems to be frozen in high-school clichés. In his book, for example, he describes the administration of Warren Harding as sensationally corrupt. This is a conventional judgment, but not a true one. Sure, Warren had a zipper problem, enjoyed a game of poker and a drink (the latter unfortunately illegal at the time) and made a couple of bad appointments. His administration was, however, not even approximately in the same league as Kennedy's, with its Paraguayan-style alliances between politicians, union bosses and the mob, and its naked nepotism. Even less could it be compared to the flagrant auctioning of national interests for cold cash that went on through the Clinton years.
In April 2017 O'Reilly was fired and Tucker Carlson took over the eight o'clock spot. I quickly got to like his show, with some reservations similar to those I'd recorded for O'Reilly. And hey, I could continue my evening dinner-and-TV schedule undisturbed!
As I said, this is TV, not a PPE seminar. O'Reilly and Carlson were entertainers. If you sat through an hour of their show without laughing at least once, they were falling down on the job.
Well, now Tucker's been fired. The reason for his firing is unclear.
My first thought was that this might be a case of a rich kid being more progressive than his wiser parent. The rich kid I had in mind was Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of the Fox Corporation since 2019. The parent was his Dad, veteran media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
I didn't actually know much about Murdoch, Jr. though. Reading him up, I found no support for my theory of regression to the rich-kid mean. Lachlan Murdoch seems to be pretty solidly conservative.
He doesn't much like the social scene here in the U.S.A., thinks it too sappy-liberal. Although born in London, he's settled in his father's native Australia, where he sometimes makes speeches that wouldn't come amiss from O'Reilly or Carlson, or even Derbyshire.
Sample, quote from The Washington Post, April 9th last year, quote:
In classic Fox style, he devoted significant time to bashing rival media outlets, specifically the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "To listen to our national broadcaster or much of the media elite is to hear about a uniquely racist, selfish, slavish and monochromatic country. The reality could not be more different," Murdoch said.
The communist website Daily Beast, two years prior to that, actually ran a piece headlined Lachlan Murdoch Is Even More of a Right-Wing Ultra Than His Old Man, comparing Lachlan unfavorably to his younger brother James, who is apparently more woke.
Here's a quote from that Daily Beast article — a quote I'm just going to plant in your mind, then leave simmering there until I return to it a bit later. Quote:
To really understand the Murdoch pathology — its genius and its darkness — you have to begin with its foundational culture, Australia. And the thing about Lachlan Murdoch is how deeply and unreservedly Australian he is, in an old-school and revanchist sense.
OK, but if my regression-to-the-rich-kid-mean theory is wrong, why did Fox fire Tucker Carlson?
The lead possibility is that he was fired for broadcasting things about vote-rigging in the 2020 election, things that he did not, in fact, believe. Those things — as broadcast by not only Carlson but also other Fox presenters — cost the network most of eight hundred million dollars in a lawsuit settled April 18th.
A closely related theory is that negative comments Carlson made about Fox management came out in the discovery process of that lawsuit, and it was those comments that got him fired. Sample comment, quote: "Those f***ers are destroying our credibility," end quote.
Counter to that, there was a gap of at least four days between the announcing of the lawsuit settlement and the firing of Tucker. These things usually proceed more swiftly in the world of corporate media.
Another theory, and a better fit for the corporate media swift-execution hypothesis, concerns an address Carlson made last Friday at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation in which he aired his religious feelings and asked the audience to pray for the country.
That, some people say, rubbed Rupert Murdoch the wrong way. It especially rubbed him the wrong way because Rupert Murdoch had, earlier this month, broken off his engagement to a handsome widow after only two weeks, apparently because he found her evangelical views too much to take.
Vanity Fair reported that in late March, Carlson had dinner with Murdoch Sr. and his fiancée. During the dinner, the lady — who is a big Tucker Carlson fan — pulled out a bible and started reading from it. According to the magazine's source, quote: "Rupert just sat there and stared," end quote. Murdoch broke off the engagement a few days later.
It's also been noted that Carlson's employment contract with Fox still has a while to run, either a year or eighteen months or two years, reports differ. So technically he hasn't been fired, just benched.
There's been speculation that there is some kind of plot to keep him quiet while the 2024 election gets going. Why would Fox want to do that? I have no idea; but the theory is going round.
So, plenty of theories. There's a lawsuit from one of Carlson's female producers, too, claiming an uncomfortable work environment — misogyny, antisemitism, and so on.
From what few details I've seen so far the forty-something lady plaintiff is just a neurotic snowflake, as so many women are nowadays, but I'll try to follow the legal proceedings and change my view if they show otherwise.
Added when archiving: I've since learned that the lady never actually met Carlson.
Meanwhile, what am I going to do at eight o'clock in the evening, after seventeen years of entertainment from O'Reilly and Carlson? I gave Brian Kilmeade a try but, meh. Kilmeade's a good reporter but not much of an entertainer. I watched the Monday night show for the whole hour without a single laugh.
Eh, I have a jigsaw puzzle I can do …
03 — Rest in peace, Bazza. As promised in the last segment, I'm going to return to that Daily Beast article. Here's that quote again, quote.
To really understand the Murdoch pathology — its genius and its darkness — you have to begin with its foundational culture, Australia. And the thing about Lachlan Murdoch is how deeply and unreservedly Australian he is, in an old-school and revanchist sense.
Here we are in the zone of national character. It's a fraught zone nowadays, unless you are a crazy-left website like the Daily Beast insulting the traditional Anglosphere.
Things haven't always been that way. There used to be a common understanding among English-speaking nations that foreigners are funny: funny-strange, yes, but mainly funny-comical.
I actually posted a column back in August 2007, again at National Review Online, with the title When Foreigners Were Funny in which I lamented the passing of that sensibility.
This wasn't Anglosphere snobbery. English-speaking nations found other English-speaking nations comical. In the column I just mentioned I included a link to the late P.J. O'Rourke's memorable 1976 article in National Lampoon titled Foreigners Around the World in which P.J., who was entirely American, unsparingly mocked not only Arabs, Chinese, Mexicans, and so on, but also Brits, Canadians, and Australians.
Here's a considerably edited version of what P.J. wrote about Australians, quote:
Violently loud alcoholic roughnecks whose idea of fun is to throw up on your car. The national sport is breaking furniture and the average daily consumption of beer in Sydney is ten and three-quarters Imperial gallons for children under the age of nine …
All Australians are bilingual, speaking both English and Sheep. Possibly as a result of their country's being upside down, the local dialect has over 400 terms for vomit. These include "technicolor yawn," "talking to the toilet," "round-trip meal ticket," and "singing lunch."
It is illegal to employ the aboriginal inhabitants as anything but toilets, and some of the peculiar forms of native wildlife have up to nine a**holes …
Reading that, I couldn't help thinking that P.J.'s reading matter, sometime in the previous few years, had overlapped with mine. It's not improbable: P.J. was only a couple of years younger than me.
The reading matter I'm thinking of was the Barry McKenzie comic strip that ran in the London magazine Private Eye in the late 1960s.
Barry McKenzie, the fictional hero of the comic strip, known to his friends and admirers as Bazza, was a young Australian on the loose in Swinging London. Bazza was a stereotype of the mid-20th-century Australian male: crude, boorish, ill-educated, alcoholic, and horny — the P.J. O'Rourke stereotype, near enough.
Brits of my generation, and I'm guessing some Americans, too — all read that strip. We all knew those 400 synonyms for "vomit": "liquid laugh," "park a tiger on the rug," "talk into the big white telephone," and the all-purpose verb "to chunder."
So whose brainchild was that comic strip? What hate-filled xenophobic Anglo supremacist supplied the dialogue?
Actually it was an Australian, Barry Humphries, who died last Sunday in Sydney, Australia at age 89. Believe it or not, back in the days before humor was outlawed as hurtful, English-speaking people didn't only laugh at foreigners, we laughed at ourselves.
Barry Humphries was better known in later years as Dame Edna Everage, but to us sixties survivors he'll always be first and foremost the progenitor of Bazza.
My first reaction on hearing of Barry Humphries' passing, was: "Strewth!"
Excuse me just a minute. I have to shoot through to the snakes house and point Percy at the porcelain.
04 — Democrats have a candidate! That's better. Now, what else has been in the news this week? Oh yes: Joe Biden announced he's running for re-election.
That's depressing. We have a third of a billion people in this nation. To represent us to the world, and supervise the affairs of our federal government, we seek out the best, wisest, most patriotic, most eloquent from among us, and we come up with … Joe Biden?
I can think of half a dozen people among my personal acquaintance who'd make a better Chief Executive and Commander in Chief than this mumbling, stumbling, semi-conscious, corrupt old fool. There's got to be something systemically wrong with our political system.
Doesn't the Democratic Party — Joe's party — have any authority here? My scariest thought is that there really is a Deep State, with an agenda all their own — anti-white, open borders, anti-free-speech, anti-gun, pro-war, pro-criminal, fiscal lunacy, and above all self-enrichment — and that they like having Joe in the White House because he'll say whatever they tell him to say and read whatever they put in front of him. He's the perfect string puppet for the crazy-progressive left.
To be sure there are other Democrats seeking their party's nomination next year. There's Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who formally announced April 19th. I don't know much about the guy, I must admit. I looked him up on Wikipedia and wasn't impressed: environmental justice … indigenous rights … renewable energy … uh-huh. Not my kind of candidate.
Friends who are anti-vaxxers tell me his 2021 book The Real Anthony Fauci is a must-read. They have actually gifted me a copy of the book, although I'm ashamed to say I haven't yet summoned up enough interest in the topic to read it. I swear I'll at least give it a browse when I have the time.
However that turns out, I can't see voting for RFK, Jr. All else aside, he's a Kennedy, for crying out loud. Have we run out of Bushes, Clintons, and Obamas?
There's also that lady Something Williamson. I know even less about her than I do about RFK, Jr. Gotta do more research here.
I won't be voting Democrat, though. The party's too far gone. April 20th the House of Representatives voted on a bill to prohibit men from competing in women's sports leagues. Not a single Democrat member of the House voted for the bill. That party's gone, far gone into the darkness.
Having nothing more to say about the Democratic Party and its prospects for the presidency next year, here instead is a message from our vice president.
[Clip: So … I think it's very important, as you have heard from so many incredible leaders, for us at every moment in time, and certainly this one, to see the moment in time in which we exist and are present, and to be able to contextualize it — to understand where we exist in the history and in the moment as it relates not only to the past but the future.]
Words to live by.
05 — Gesture politics on the national debt. My email of the month so far is from a longtime Radio Derb fan who works as a management consultant. Opening quote:
The other day my wife asked me, when discussing politics, how to characterize the "Obama Years," so I went back and read Radio Derb transcripts starting in the fall of 2008, currently up to 2011 now. What surprised me was all of the hectic wrangling over the debt limit and how alarmist so many pundits were when the national debt hit $14T.
Well, it's now DOUBLE that, over $31T! Incredible.
Incredible indeed. The debt limit is a limit on the amount the federal government can owe to its creditors, which principally means anyone who owns any kind of Treasury bonds: foreign governments, our own state and municipal governments, banks, retirement funds, private citizens. It is indeed currently a tad more than 31 trillion dollars.
That category of private citizens includes the Derbs: the Mrs and I each own one I-bond. A friend who we believe to be financially savvy recommended them, so we purchased one each. We're the merest microscopic fraction of the tad, but we're in there.
Even more incredible than the fact of the debt limit being $31T and change: our federal government debt has reached that limit. It did so on January 19th.
So, wait: if we reached the debt limit three months ago, where does it stand now? Aren't we over the limit?
No, we're not. Since we hit the limit the Treasury has been implementing what they call "extraordinary measures" — mostly accounting maneuvers involving special categories of bonds and federal-employee retirement funds. These are only a temporary fix, though, to stave off the inevitable.
When will the inevitable happen? No-one's really certain, but the best guess is sometime in July. Then the Treasury will run out of tricks and Uncle Sam won't be able to meet his financial obligations.
Nobody's quite sure what would happen then, although there's a consensus that it would be nasty to some degree. It would certainly take the shine off T-bonds, leaving foreign governments less keen to buy them.
It might quite possibly cause a catastrophic crash of the entire financial system — hyperinflation, bank failures, the whole deal.
Fortunately not even the Washington, D.C. congresscritters are dumb or irresponsible enough to let that happen. With a divided Congress, though — Republican House, Democratic Senate — it offers irresistible opportunities for symbolic posturing.
We got some of that this week. House Republicans passed a bill to raise the debt ceiling in return for the government reining in spending, which is wildly out of control.
Biden has said, or been told to say, that he'll veto the bill if it reaches him. That's more gesture politics, as there's no chance it will reach him: the Senate won't pass it. Congressional Republicans, when this is pointed out to them, say: "Yeah, yeah, but at least we've gotten some spending reductions out there on the table for discussion." Right, sure.
My emailing management-consultant friend points out that our government is doing two things that no sensible business corporation would ever do:
The assets in that second point are mainly human capital: increasing welfare benefits, outsourcing industry, mass immigration of low-skilled and poorly-educated people, and the destruction of meritocratic standards in education and the professions for the sake of DEI.
Wait, what did I just say? "The destruction of meritocratic standards in education and the professions for the sake of DEI"? That's a perfect segue to my next segment.
06 — Quantitative journalism at its best. I have been reading Heather Mac Donald's new book, When Race Trumps Merit. That is exactly its subject: the destruction of meritocratic standards in education and the professions for the sake of DEI. Or, as the book's subtitle spells it out, "How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives."
You probably know in outline some of what the author is writing about from occasional news clips and social-media posts. If the dumbing-down affects some one area you are particularly interested in, you may know a lot about its consequences in that area.
Heather Mac Donald covers all the bases: science, medicine, music, ballet, opera, the visual arts, law, and justice. She backs it all up with numbers, statistics. This is quantitative journalism at its best.
As good as the book is, though, it leaves one depressed at the scope and power of stupidity and negativity in current American society. Quote from Chapter Six:
Ultimately theatre itself may have to be segregated, since to claim that a white audience can identify with a black-themed work is another form of cultural appropriation. A recent play, lauded twice by the New York Times, asked white audience members to leave the theatre before the play's conclusion so that black attendees could experience undisturbed racial solidarity. (One account implies that this mandate was obeyed.)
Most depressing of all is the feebleness of the resistance. Mac Donald does have one chapter, Chapter Twelve, titled "Abstainers," but its examples — black conductor John McLaughlin Williams, Tulsa Opera, Long Beach Opera — are obscure and marginal.
And there's this, on DEI in the medical field, from the book's Conclusion, quote:
I asked the cancer researcher: when would white and Asian male scientists fight back? How much longer would they continue to allow their hard work and accomplishments to be disparaged and sidelined? His response, sent by email, explains why the disparate impact crusade has heretofore been unstoppable.
[Inner quote.] We value our jobs.
We need our jobs.
Our peers will turn on us.
Speak out, lose job forever, be quickly forgotten and abandoned.
I admire the bravery of those who speak out but they are being exterminated and will systematically be exterminated until they are all gone.
The system will have to rot from within and be reinvented, which will take 50-100 years. [End inner quote.]
And I can't leave Heather Mac Donald without urging you to read her April 25th article at City Journal, title "On Race and Crime, a Counterfactual Narrative." It's a devastating rebuttal, again all backed up with statistics, to our nation's current Big Lie: the fantasy that black Americans scurry around in terror of white supremacists seeking to harm them.
Thank you, Ma'am; and thanks to Heather Mac Donald's publisher DW Books and to City Journal for supporting her.
07 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Imprimis: Following right on from the themes covered in Heather Mac Donald's book, here's a news story from Tuesday's New York Post.
Olympia, which is the capital of Washington State up there in the far Northwest, of course has a public-school district. It includes twelve elementary schools.
The School Board Director for that district is a creature named Scott Clifthorne. In a meeting last week Mx. Clifthorne's board voted to eliminate band and strings for fourth-graders.
The motives given were to save money — the district faces an $11-million budget shortfall — and to fight racism.
Fair dinkum on the budgetary issue, although I'd like to know what the district spends on teacher DEI training. How does canceling music lessons fight racism, though?
Mx. Clifthorne explained that there are, quote, "folks in the community that experience things like a tradition of excellence as exclusionary. We're a school district that lives in and is entrenched in and is surrounded by white supremacy culture. And that's a real thing." End quote.
Do you get the logic? If a tradition of excellence is "exclusionary," let's replace it with a tradition of mediocrity. Everyone on board with that? You'd better be, if you don't want the Thought Police coming after you.
Item: Farewell, then, Mr Tangaraju Suppiah, a 46-year-old resident of Singapore, apparently a speaker of Tamil. On Wednesday Mr Tangaraju was hanged for conspiring to traffic about two pounds of cannabis.
Mr Tangaraju didn't actually handle the stuff but he was in cahoots with two men who did. It was apparently the conspiracy charge that got him hanged. The other two testified against him and were spared the rope, although one got 23 years in jail and fifteen strokes of the cane.
I would have hanged all three of them. If you know it's against the law, don't do it and don't mix with people who do it. Singapore is very intolerant of drug offenses. I've never been near the city but even I know that. These three surely knew it.
For travel expenses and a modest consultancy fee I'll fly over to Singapore and explain to the government there my penal principle that I call "One Strike and You're Dead." It sweeps criminality right out of the gene pool.
Item: Here's a different place with different ideas about justice and punishment: Haiti.
The place is in chaos, of course. When hasn't it been?
We got some grisly pictures the other day of a vigilante mob surrounding thirteen suspected gang members in a Port-au-Prince street.
It may of course have been a mob of gang members surrounding thirteen suspected vigilantes. In a country like Haiti, who knows?
Whatever it was, the thirteen surrounded were beaten to the ground, covered with gasoline-soaked truck tires, and burned to death. Cops were nearby but when they saw what was happening they headed the other way, to the donut shop.
Today, Port-au-Prince; tomorrow, Baltimore or Minneapolis. I wonder what's the wait time for a Singapore resident visa?
Item: Just ten days to the Eurovision Song Contest. Ireland's entry to the contest this year is Wild Youth, a rock group made up of four healthy-looking young men named Whelan, O'Donohoe, Porter and McAdam.
"Wild Youth"! These are tough young fighting Irish lads from the rough mountainsides of Killarney, right? Handy with a hurley stick, positively lethal with a shillelagh, right?
Sorry, that Ireland is long gone. This is the Heart of Wokeness we're talking about here. Wild Youth have just fired their creative director for Twitter comments he posted referring to transgender women as men.
Whelan, O'Donohoe, Porter and McAdam tell us that they stand for, quote, "unity and kindness," end quote.
That sound you hear is Fionn Mac Cumhail weeping in his tomb.
Item: Finally, mystery peacocks, just because I never spoke those two words together before.
This is a story from the old country, from the county of Norfolk to be precise. The town of Dereham in that county has been invaded by an ostentation of peacocks. Yes, that's the collective noun for peacocks: an ostentation.
It's a bit of a mystery where they came from, and how they made it into people's fenced gardens in Dereham. I'd always understood that peacocks can't fly. That brilliantly-colored tail plumage is sensational, all right, but it won't take you anywhere.
One of the townsfolk, who found eight of the critters in his garden, set me straight, quote: "After a few hours they flew off — or rather left with feather-assisted leaps." End quote.
Mystery peacocks, an ostentation of them. Always something new to report.
08 — Signoff. That's your ration for this week, ladies and gents. Thank you as always for your time and attention, for your donations and helpful emails.
For signoff music I shall return to my Australian theme, more precisely to the theme of mid-20th-century Australian adult males.
I just looked up some birth dates. Barry Humphries was born February 1934; Rupert Murdoch, March 1931.
Here's a guy older than either of them and still among us: Singer, entertainer, and sometime jailbird Rolf Harris, born in Western Australia, March 1930.
Yes, jailbird. After Harris had dispensed a vast amount of harmless pleasure across many years, a London court in 2014 sentenced him to five years nine months on twelve charges of indecent assault.
The most I could make of it all at the time — and having just read Harris' Wikipedia page, I still can't make any more — was that Harris had been handsy with young girls, including a couple under age, squeezing their bottoms and so on.
Whether there was an element of gold-digging on the part of the plaintiffs and their lawyers, I don't know, although I wouldn't be the least bit surprised. There most certainly was an element of Britain's New Puritanism, of which white men are of course the principal targets.
My best guess is that this was a case of a bumptious, careless mid-20th-century Australian male — a Bazza, in fact — crashing up against early 21st-century grievance culture.
Be that as it may, here's Rolf to sing us out. All those years of giving harmless pleasure to millions shouldn't count for nothing. Fair suck of the old sauce bottle there, Bluey.
There will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Rolf Harris, "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport."]