Radio Derb: Demography Is Destiny, The Death Of Reason, And Defenestrating O’Reilly, Etc.


00m47s — Small referendum in Turkey. (Not many dead.)

07m21s — Demography is destiny. (Mark’s pet theme, and mine.)

12m23s — The death of reason. (Top down or bottom up.)

23m23s — “Invade the world” is popular! (“To Hell With Them” hawkishness, less so.)

33m01s — Bill O’Reilly and Conquest’s Second Law. (Defenestrating the Big Mick.)

42m44s — Let slip the blogs of war. (Remember Sevastopol!)

49m14s — McAleenan update. (A really bad pick.)

51m28s — Our subs get redesigned. (To accommodate ladies.)

53m14s — Mrs May calls an election. (It’s a no-brainer.)

54m54s — Royal birthday. (The Queen gets two per annum.)

55m50s — Signoff. (When London was English.)

01 — Intro.     And Radio Derb is on the air! Greetings, listeners, from your militantly genial host John Derbyshire, bringing you news and views from hither and yon.

I have referendums and elections to report, news from the opinion polls, a defenestration, and some military titbits. Let us proceed.

02 — Small referendum in Turkey.     A lot of what gets printed or displayed as news is, let’s face it, dull. The old Fleet Street legend was that sub-editors at the London Times — sub-editors are the ones who write headlines and photo captions — one exceptionally slow news day, the subs held a competition to see who could devise the most boring headline. The winner was: Small Earthquake in Chile, Not many dead.

Well, we ink-stained wretches have to do the best we can with what the world brings to us down the newswires. And while this story or that story may look like a snoozer from its headline, it often happens that it is telling us something momentous — or rather, that it is describing some small further motion in a trend that will, cumulatively, turn the world upside down.

All that is preface to some remarks about the referendum held in Turkey last weekend. Small Referendum in Turkey, Not many dead isn’t very promising as a headline, but there are great slow movements taking place under the surface there. And not just there but also here — some of the same movements. So, at any rate, I’m going to argue.

The basic idea of the Turkish referendum was to move the country from a fairly open, European-style mode of government to something more authoritarian, on the Latin American style. The driving spirit was the Turkish President, Recep Erdoğan.

Erdoğan won his referendum by a narrow margin, so Turkish politics will move off in the general direction of Venezuela, though with an Islamic flavor — Erdoğan is a devout Muslim. More on that later.

My thoughts about this come in layers. The topmost, frothiest layer is of course sentiment. I’ve been vaguely well-disposed to the Turks for most of my life.

Some of that is just national character. The English as a nation rather like the Turks, without actually knowing much about them. Margaret Thatcher, who was as English as it is possible to be, was a Turkophile. I put it down to the English sporting spirit, which admires nations that beat England fairly in sport or war. For 20th-century Englishmen, the beating the Turks gave us at Gallipoli in 1915 set the mood.

The next layer down is a less sentimental, better-founded respect for the Turks as having done a great and remarkable thing in a short time.

The old Ottoman Empire was a classic instance of imperial-bureaucratic despotism, a permanent small ruling class enforcing a state religion while they tax-farmed a passive peasantry with no property rights — what Karl Marx called “The Asiatic Mode of Production.”

Then suddenly, following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WW1, the Turks abandoned that whole model and transformed themselves into a modern, secular, European-style republic. They established a new capital city far from the old imperial metropolis. They scrapped the Arabic alphabet for the Latin one. Men were to wear jackets and pants, women dresses. There were property rights and a free press, a parliament to legislate … and so on.

It was a tremendous revolution; and unlike most revolutions, it was revolutionary in a positive direction. Reading about it fired me up with the hope that if Turkey could accomplish such a transformation, then perhaps other old imperial-despotic nations could too.

China, for example. Back in 1989, in an article about Chinese dissidents, I wrote the following thing, quote:

Nothing is impossible when History means business. The Turks passed from a very “pure” form of oriental despotism to republican liberty, or a fair approximation of it, in 20 years. No one should think that the Chinese, with their great resources of national pride and historical consciousness, cannot pull off the same trick.

Now, 28 years later, that looks naïvely Whiggish. It turns out that when History means business, the business it means is sometimes a 180-degree turn back to the past.

Well, those are the top layers of my reactions to the Turkish vote. Let’s look deeper and see if there are lessons for the U.S.A.

03 — Demography is destiny, series 7,948.     In the commentary on Turkey’s referendum vote, Mark Steyn’s stands out.

In his Monday column, titled Who Lost Turkey?, Mark returns to the theme he worked over in his 2006 best-seller America Alone, the theme that demography is destiny.

Supporting his argument with some very cool maps, Mark explains that the old despotic-islamist order was not vanquished, only relegated to the boondocks. The Turks of the cities, especially in the Europe-facing western part of Turkey, were keen to modernize; the peasants of the hinterland, not so much.

Those people of the hinterlands, Mark shows, had an advantage over the urban Turks: their birth-rate. Turkish nationalism simply out-bred globalism. Turkish Islamism out-bred secularism. It took 94 years; but in the long run, yes, demography is destiny.

This is probably right. The difference of attitude between city and country, between urbs and rus, is as old as civilization itself. I caught a flavor of it in its Turkish form twenty years ago, I remember.

I was working for an investment bank. One of my colleagues was a Jew from Turkey. I thought this was interesting. What’s it like, I asked him, being Jewish in Turkey? He said it was all right, he’d never had any trouble. But then he added: “Mind you, I lived in the city all my life. Out in the countryside, things are way different.”

Well, the Turkish countryside voted last weekend, and you can wave goodbye to secular, open, tolerant, western-oriented Turkey.

Digging deeper now through the layers, I’ll pose the following question. Does the Turkish referendum vote belong in the same basket — you know the basket I’m talking about [Clip:  Hillary cackle] — does it belong in the same basket as last year’s Brexit vote in Britain, the election of Donald Trump, and the rise of nationalism in Europe? Was it another victory for the Deplorables?

I’d answer with a partial and qualified “yes.” The modern liberal order, in which I think Turkey’s great experiment of this past 94 years has been a component, has brought many blessings; but it’s had a downside, and as the decades have advanced, the blessings have tailed off while the downside has grown bigger and more visible.

Here we come to my favorite theme: the fate of the left-hand side of the Bell Curve. What’s going to become of those without the ability or temperament to thrive in a liberal, metropolitan environment?

Put my theme together with Mark Steyn’s — which, to remind you, is that demography is destiny — and you have some clue as to where the world is headed.

The left-hand side of the Bell Curve may not have the intelligence or inclination to trade financial futures, found software startups, or build media careers, but they can still make babies.

Conversely, metropolitan elites may know which is the hottest new restaurant, the trendiest designer label, and the coolest new smartphone app, but they’re not breeding.

As mathematicians say: “The result follows.”

04 — The death of reason.     So yes, there’s some parallelism there; but now come the qualifications.

First note that I’m sliding towards a contradiction. I myself am a Deplorable. I supported Brexit and voted for Trump. Shouldn’t I therefore, to be consistent, be cheering on President Erdoğan and the Turkish Deplorables who gave him his referendum win?

Listen carefully: I shall leap free with a single bound. Before I do, though, let me take a detour. I shall get back to the main point: trust me.

For my detour, I’m going to plagiarize from Steve. On Wednesday Steve put up a blog post about Pomona College, an institution of higher education in Southern California, and a sister college to Claremont McKenna, where Heather Mac Donald was shouted down recently.

The President of Pomona College had put out one of those mealy-mouthed college-president emails about how “troubled” he was over that unpleasantness, and how dedicated to free speech he is, free speech even for hate-filled goose-stepping, cross-burning Nazi bigots like Heather.

That email didn’t satisfy all of the student body. In response to it, an open letter to the college president was signed by 27 black students. That letter has to be read to be believed.

The whole thing is more than a thousand words, so I can only give you a mere flavor. Quote:

The idea that there is a single truth — “the Truth” — is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples.

End quote. That is actually one of the more coherent passages in the letter. Much of it is simply illiterate gibberish. The authors here are students at an expensive private college, annual tuition $65,000, endowment two billion.

Reading that letter, I felt I was staring into the abyss. And yes, Nietzsche fans, the abyss was staring back. That dreck like this letter could come out of an institution of higher education tells us something terrible about the current course of history. This is the death of reason.

The authors of that letter have traded in the world for the word: the world of facts for the aery babble of shamans, truth for juju.

The spirit of free inquiry, of a disinterested pursuit of truth, of an open and tolerant society, that spirit is under mortal threat, here as well as in Turkey. The big difference is that here, the threat comes from the top, from our elites at places like Pomona College. In Turkey it comes from below, from Turkey’s Deplorables.

I’m guessing, though I don’t know enough about Turkey to know, I’m guessing that Turkish universities don’t produce stuff like that Pomona letter. The big threat to reason there is bottom-up, not top-down.

Supposing I’m right, what accounts for the difference? Again, I’m just guessing, but my guess would center on two factors.

First factor: religion. Christianity, leaving aside occasional episodes like the Counter-Reformation, has never been much of a hindrance to the development of open societies or modernism. The mid-20th-century United States was very religious; but we put men on the Moon. Heck, even the astronauts were religious.

Islam is a different story, for reasons I’ve written about elsewhere. The metaphysics of Islam is occasionalist: Whatever is, is good, because God wills it. Where that kind of thinking takes hold you end up with a stifling obscurantism, hostile to all openness and free inquiry.

Second factor: mass immigration. In Western countries, the hostility of urban elites towards their countries’ native Deplorables has expressed itself most noticably in policies of mass immigration.

In Western countries the elites, rather than have those horrid white proles doing the drudge work for them, have imported great masses of Third Worlders. These immigrants are cheaper; and, in the first generation at least, they are more obedient and harder-working. Their exoticism also plays into the modernist esthetic, which, as Eric Kaufmann says in his book The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America, quote: “values the new and different,” end quote.

In France, as Christopher Caldwell describes in a brilliant article in the current City Journal, the urban elites have even pushed native proles out of the big public-housing projects built for natives by post-WW2 socialist governments. Those projects are now full of North African Muslims.

Similarly with the gentrified big cities of America; although here the native white proles are long gone. Current elite strategy is to push out native blacks to suburbs like Ferguson, Missouri so that elites and their immigrant allies can further colonize prime city real estate.

Turkey hasn’t historically been much of an immigrant nation. Foreign migrants going to Turkey are mostly on their way to somewhere else — Western Europe for preference. Those who do settle come mainly from the Middle East, which makes them co-religionists, or from the Turkic republics of Central Asia, which makes them co-religionists and co-ethnics. So the dynamics are all different.

Possibly the flood of Syrians into Turkey this past six years has riled up native Turkish proles; I don’t know enough to say dispositively. Certainly the numbers have been tremendous: close to three million into a Turkish population of eighty million. It must have had some effect, but I don’t know what.

So we have enstupidation, the killing off of free inquiry, from the top down, urban elites imposing their dogma on the rest of us. Turks are getting it from the bottom up, deplorables from the hinterlands, fortified by co-religionists and co-ethnics from even more backward places, demanding a new Sultanate under institutionalized Islam.

If, while our own elites are gibbering about “supremacy” and “oppression,” the Turks are trading in open expression and free inquiry for Islamic occasionalism, then we are all headed in the same direction by different routes, down roads that lead to ignorance and barbarism.

Might it be that Peak Reason has come and gone, reaching its highest point sometime round about 1960? That Atatürk’s modern, secular republic was carried aloft on that rising wave, as were our own great achievements through the middle of the last century? And that the tide is now receding?

It might. For the sake of my kids, I hope not.

05 — “Invade the world” is popular!     A Radio Derb listener, emailing in, believes he has caught me in a different contradiction. Quote from him:

Mr Derbyshire:

You have been very hard on our President for the strike against Syria. You have accused him of “cucking” us.

Yet back in 2006 at National Review you identified yourself with the faction called “The ‘To Hell With Them’ Hawks,” the faction that argues for striking our enemies but not staying around to get further involved.

You even coined the phrase “Rubble Doesn’t Make Trouble.” Well, we rubbled that air force base in Syria, didn’t we? Why do you have a problem with that?

End quote.

My listener is referring there to a column I wrote in March 2006 in response to Rich Lowry, in the print issue of National Review, arguing against the position of us “To Hell With Them” Hawks. My column had a title I was rather pleased with, quote: To Hell With The “To Hell With The ‘”To Hell With Them” Hawks’ Hawks”.

See, people like me, who think that trying to convert barbarous nations to Jeffersonian democracy is a fool’s errand, just want to teach them a lesson so they won’t bother us. We are the “To Hell With Them” Hawks. The Rich Lowrys and George W. Bushes, out there on nation-building crusades, say to hell with us, to hell with the “To Hell With Them” Hawks. And they’re hawkish about it, making them the “To Hell With The ‘To Hell With Them’ Hawks” Hawks. I was riposting by saying to hell with them. See?

Never mind. I was writing a math book at the time and got carried away with recursion. It’s really amazing I lasted as long as I did at that magazine.

Well, what about my listener’s complaint? I’d say what I said last week and the week before: Syria did nothing to us, our people, or our interests, so we had no business destroying their property.

To say that the Syrian leader is a mean person who does nasty things is neither here nor there. The world is full of such people. As I also said last week, on a reasonable scale of governmental nastiness, Bashar al-Assad is less mean than Xi Jinping, current capo di tutti capi of the Chinese Communist Party, with whom our President was yucking it up at Mar-a-Lago the week before.

If some foreign dictator does kill our people or break our stuff, I assure you I will swing into “To Hell With Them” Hawk mode right away, and call for some serious rubbling to teach them the price of tugging on Superman’s cape. Absent that, I cleave to my minimalist foreign policy: Bribe ’em, nuke ’em, or leave ’em alone, with a strong preference for leaving ’em alone.

Naturally I regard my position on this issue as sensible, wise, and irrefutable. I am therefore a bit dismayed, if not borderline distressed to see that it has no broad base among my fellow Americans.

Right after the Syria operation, over the weekend April 7th to 9th, CBS polled 1,006 adults nationwide to ask what they thought. Fifty-seven percent of Americans approved of the airstrike. Among Republicans, eighty-four percent approved.

Who are these people? Well, a great many of that latter figure, that eighty-four percent, are Trump voters. How do they square “America First” with rubbling the property of a nation that had done nothing to us?

Reading further down that CBS poll, I see that moral psychology is in play. Forty-five percent said that Assad’s presumptive use of chemical weapons was immoral and a threat to the U.S.A. A slightly smaller number, forty-two percent, said it was immoral but not a threat to us. The numbers for Republicans there were sixty-one percent (it’s immoral and a threat to us), and thirty-one (immoral but not a threat).

There are two ways to read this, an un-charitable way and a charitable way. I’m going to go with the charitable way, desiring as I do to think well of my fellow Deplorables as I enter the sixteenth year of my U.S. citizenship. However, I’ll present you with the un-charitable explanation first, so you can make up your own mind.

The un-charitable hypothesis, then: in very short, stupidity.

Here’s another poll, this one taken by Reuters much earlier — actually from mid-December to mid-January, so this is not only pre-strike, it’s pre-Inauguration. I’m obliged to the blogger Audacious Epigone for bringing it to my attention.

Poll question: “How much of a threat does Syrian President Bashar al-Assad pose to the United States?” You have to pick one of three possible answers: He’s a threat, he’s not a threat, I’m not sure.

Respondents saying Assad is a threat, overall, 71 percent. Among Trump voters, eighty-one percent. Clinton voters: 74 percent.

As the Epigone says, this is pretty discouraging. Sour quote from him:

Maybe America First, no more being the world’s police force, making our allies pay their fair share, etc. works in the abstract but the invade-the-world specifics remain reliable winners. After all, letting God’s babies be gassed is not “who we are.”

End quote.

That’s the un-charitable hypothesis. Here’s the charitable one.

Barack Obama was an ineffectual President. When he told Assad to get rid of his chemical weapons or else, Assad gave him the finger and used them anyway.

Americans don’t like an ineffectual President, and they don’t like getting the finger from fifth-rate dictators like Assad. Without bothering much with the details of a particular case, they are cheered by seeing our President act quickly and decisively against a guy who had dissed us.

That CBS poll also asked: Should the President get authorization from Congress before any further action against Syria? Sixty-nine percent overall said yes, he should. A majority of Republicans, fifty-three percent, said so.

So there’s a reservoir of good sense and respect for the Constitution here. Let’s hope the President takes notice.

06 — Bill O’Reilly and Conquest’s Second Law.     While I’m trawling in my archives, I may as well give a mention to this column from February 2001: a modest, qualified appreciation of Bill O’Reilly, to whose show on Fox News I had become mildly addicted.

That was sixteen years ago. The addiction wore off; but I’ve checked in with the Big Mick from time to time, when eight o’clock comes around and I have nothing much else I feel like doing. It’s easy watching and sometimes interesting.

It was, I should say. As no doubt you all know by now, Fox News has dropped O’Reilly.

The cause of the dropping is given as sexual harassment on Bill’s part towards female staffers. I’ve totally lost touch with what the phrase “sexual harassment” means nowadays, so I browsed some of the news stories.

Here’s one of O’Reilly’s accusers, Perquita Burgess, who was a temp at Fox News some years ago. How many years ago? Nobody seems to know, but it was some time prior to 2010.

Samples from Ms Burgess, as reported in the newspapers. Quote:

Three to four weeks after she was hired, they were on the elevator alone. She says he let her off the elevator first. As he was walking in front of her, he said, “Looking good there, girl,” which was the first time he spoke to her.

End quote. Oh, the humanity!

Second quote. I should say that Ms Burgess is a mulatto, or possibly a quadroon. Quote:

Burgess claims that when she was eating lunch outside one day, O’Reilly saw her and said, “Hey, hot chocolate,” as he walked past her without looking at her. She was “mortified,” she told The View [that’s some kind of TV program] and took it as a, quote, “very plantational remark.”

End quote, end quote.

Earlier this month the New York Times reported that Fox News and O’Reilly between them had paid out $13 million to various women accusers. That report prompted advertisers to pull out from O’Reilly’s show, though his viewership actually increased.

What to make of all this? Color me skeptical. In the first place, if Perquita Burgess’ stories are representative, Bill was no more than boorish, a thing women knew how to deal with when I was doing office work. Heck, they had a whole repertoire of ways to deal with it, ranging from the icy stare to a knee in the groin. Trust me on this.

What happened to “I am woman, hear me roar?” I thought women were supposed to be powerful and defiant nowadays, modeling themselves on the fearless little girl facing down the bull on the Wall Street traffic island. With Ms Burgess it’s more a case of “I am woman, hear me whimper.”

And the guy’s 67 years old. Do younger Americans have any idea how tiresome it is, trying to keep up with social decorums that change week by week? I honestly did not know that saying “Looking good there, girl” to a female office colleague is insulting. How much time does Ms Burgess spend dressing and putting her makeup on in the morning in order to … look good? Next week I suppose a breezy “Good morning!” will count as sexual harassment.

Things seem to be headed in the same direction they’ve gone in Britain, where elderly gentlemen with distinguished careers in show business and the public service are humiliated and bankrupted because some neurotic female claims he put his hand on her knee back in 1973.

I don’t know the truth about what Bill O’Reilly did, and neither do you. It looks to me, though, like a lawyers’ ramp. Bill O’Reilly and Fox News have deep pockets. In the mental atmosphere of today, when there is no greater glory than to declare oneself a Victim-American, especially if your victimizer is a white male, and doubly especially if he is a conservative, this stuff will naturally come up, like crabgrass on a springtime lawn.

It goes without saying, of course, that the Social Justice Warriors hyperventilating about Bill O’Reilly complimenting some broad’s looks, were cheering on a different Bill, Bill Clinton, when he was banging interns two at a time across the Oval Office desk. What lying hypocritical scum these people are!

Well, Bill’s gone and I’ll miss him … a little. He had a screen presence that not many TV presenters have. Something about the guy kept you watching. I’ve tuned in to the Factor a couple of times this week, when Dana Perino’s been hosting. She’s fine: speaks clearly, asks intelligent questions, doesn’t embarrass herself. At the risk of ending up in the next prison cell to O’Reilly, I’ll add that she’s easy on the eye. And yet … no presence. After ten minutes watching I feel an irresistible urge to go hammer some nails into wood.

If some of the news reports are to be believed, what O’Reilly’s defenstration actually represents is, an instance of Robert Conquest’s Second Law of politics. Just to remind you, Conquest’s three laws are:

  1. Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.
  2. Any organization not explicitly and constitutionally right-wing will sooner or later become left-wing.
  3. The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.

Fox News is falling victim to the Second Law. New York Daily News, April 19th, headline:

Rupert Murdoch’s sons’ progressive wives helped oust Bill O’Reilly from Fox News Channel.

Rupert Murdoch, the Fox News supremo, is 86 years old, and presumably just as tired as you or I will be at that age. His fortysomething sons, James and Lachlan, are both metropolitan sophisticates with trophy wives who are even more so. You can imagine how icky they find an older white guy like O’Reilly, with his neanderthal opinions and 1970-ish social habits. Eiuw!

Fox News is not, so far as I know, “explicitly and constitutionally right-wing.” Conquest’s Second Law therefore decrees that it will become left-wing, like the rest of the legacy media.

Tucker Carlson, watch your back.

07 — Let slip the blogs of war.     Two weeks ago on Radio Derb I noted the centenary of our entry into WW1. That brought me a lot of interesting email, including several recommendations for WW1 memorials I might visit. Thanks to all who wrote, and apologies as always that I can only reply to a fraction.

There was also this one, which I thought nicely eccentric. The writer argued his case passionately and at length, so I’ll just give it in a condensed form here. Quote:

That wasn’t the First World War. The whole system needs renumbering.

The real First World War was the Seven Years War of 1756-63, known here in the colonies as the French and Indian War.

The real Second World War was the 23-year struggle against revolutionary and imperial France, from the Battle of Valmy to the Battle of Waterloo.

So the 1914-18 affair was really the Third World War.

End quote.

That’s all very reasonable; but I am a strong proponent of not hoping for too much reason in human affairs. Once in a while someone proposes a total reform of English spelling, which is full of illogicalities. Those proposals don’t go anywhere; neither will attempts to renumber the great wars. Once everyone’s got used to a thing, if it’s not doing any actual harm, leave it alone.

Come to think of it, you can juggle with the dates of the wars, which are always given in Eurocentric form. World War Two, we’re told, began when Hitler and Stalin jointly invaded Poland in September 1939 …

Well, actually, that’s not precisely what we’re told. Progressive and CultMarx types, whose parents, grandparents, and college professors taught them that Stalin was a cool guy, usually leave out mention of him in this context.

Nineteen thirty-nine is the date, though. Why not 1937, when full-scale war between China and Japan broke out? Or 1931, when Japan invaded Manchuria? But you can’t tidy up history.

Continuing the war theme: Wars are such tremendous things, we measure our times by them. I was born right between VE Day and VJ Day, so I grew up listening to adults swapping WW2 stories. Older adults, like my own father and my mother’s father, had served in WW1, so I got plenty of that, too.

Among the oldest generation of adults in 1950s England were veterans of the Boer War, fought from 1899 to 1902. That wasn’t a full-mobilization war — there was no conscription — but it left a big impression on the Brits.

The impression was not totally positive. It was the Boer War of which Kipling wrote, quote: “We have had no end of a lesson, it will do us no end of good!” Kipling was wrong, of course; the Brits learned nothing from fighting the Boers. To learn anything from a war you have to lose it really decisively, like the Axis powers in WW2.

Back further, beyond the event horizon, was the Crimean War of the 1850s. I suppose it’s actuarially possible that there were Crimean War veterans still around a hundred years later when I was learning my multiplication tables, but I never met any.

The Crimean War had left a mark in popular consciousness, though, and not just because of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Streets in the working-class quarters of English towns were named after Crimean War battles: Inkerman, Alma, Balaclava, Sevastopol. The knitted woollen head-protectors our mothers made us wear on cold days were called Balaclava helmets.

What caused the Crimean War? British historian Orlando Figes has written a book about it. Here’s a quote from him. Britain’s war aims in 1855 were, quote:

To reduce the power of Russia as a rival to British imperial interests in the Levant; and to secure a firmer hold on the pro-Western reformist government of the Ottoman Empire, which struggled to control the Islamic nationalisms of the Middle East.

End quote. How about that! Russia a power rival; and a pro-Western government in Turkey, threatened by Islamic nationalists. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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

ImprimisLast week I noted President Trump’s appointment of Kevin McAleenan to be the head of CBP. That’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency within the Department of Homeland Security in charge of guarding our nation’s borders.

There’d been a report on Breitbart about how unhappy border agents are with the pick. I hadn’t been able to find much on McAleenan’s record, though, so I just mentioned this in passing, without a full rant.

Well, I’d missed an April 4th posting by Federale on his own website, filling in some of the background.

When CBP was created following 9/11, Federale tells us, the legacy Customs agency and the legacy INS, the Immigration and Naturalization service, got into a nasty turf fight. The Customs people won, and they dominate the CBP. That’s a problem for border agents, because Customs types are oriented towards administrative paper-shuffling, with an institutional disdain for the grubby physical work of immigration law enforcement — which, in any case, neither the Bush nor the Obama administration had any real interest in.

McAleenan, says Federale, came up through the Customs service with that same attitude, and that’s why the border agents are disgruntled.

If I’ve understood him right, this is another really bad pick by Trump. If I haven’t, I hope Federale will clarify the issue here on VDARE. Any listeners with insights are welcome to email them in, too.

ItemI’ve mentioned before that a low point for me, in the struggle to go on believing that we are a serious country, was when women were allowed to serve in submarines.

That was seven years ago. Today, quote: “About 80 female officers and roughly 50 enlisted women are now serving on subs, and their numbers are expected to climb into the hundreds over the next few years,” end quote.

That’s from a story in the Navy Times, April 19th. Telling us that is not the main point of the story, though. The main point is, that all our submarines are being redesigned to make them more girl-friendly. Quote:

As anyone who watches war movies knows, submariners are always turning valves, whether to operate machinery, redistribute water between tanks or isolate part of a system that has been damaged.

On the Columbia-class boats, valves will generally be placed lower … Sometimes there will be an extension handle, and some will be easier to turn.

End quote.

Isn’t that sweet? I hope the navy contractors will be installing fainting couches, just in case any male submariner should tell a female she’s looking good.

Item:  A couple of items from the Mother Country. First item: Britain’s lackluster Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap general election for June 8th.

This was a no-brainer for her. Lackluster she may be, but the Labour Party, Britain’s traditional other big party, is melting away before our eyes. May as well get that electoral mandate in while the getting’s good. Mrs May, remember, did not become Prime Minister as a result of a general election. She stepped in when David Cameron resigned.

Under the leadership of old commie Jeremy Corbin, Labour has travelled the path that our own Democratic Party is treading; but they have gone much further down that path. Labour is now the party of gentry liberals, cat ladies, homosexuals, blacks, and Muslims. Working-class Brits, formerly the backbone of the party, want less and less to do with it.

They’re not enthusiastic about Mrs May’s Tories, either; but she’ll do until a British Donald Trump comes along to raise the nationalist banner. Let’s hope that happens before demography has worked its magic, as in Turkey, and Britain becomes an Islamic Republic.

Item:  Finally, a very happy birthday to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, 91 years old today. Her mother lived to 101, so Betty probably has a few years to go yet.

I should explain that this is Her Majesty’s actual birthday. She has an official birthday in June, when the weather’s better so she can throw a garden party. British monarchs have been having two birthdays like this since the 18th century. I guess if you count birthdays instead of just years, that makes the lady 181 years old.

Whatever: Congratulations, Ma’am. I wish I’d kept my coronation mug.

09 — Signoff.     That’s it, ladies and gents. Thank you for listening, and thanks to all who have written in with suggestions and corrections.

For sign-off music, I’m way behind on commemorative snippets. I haven’t yet gotten around to commemorating Chuck Berry, who passed away March 18th, and who certainly deserves a tribute. And then, this coming Tuesday is the hundredth birthday of the late Ella Fitzgerald, one of the great 20th-century popular-music voices.

And then there’s Dame Vera Lynn, still with us at age 100. I mentioned her two weeks ago, and urged you to buy her new CD. I had already done so, and have been playing it with great pleasure.

So Chuck and Ella are going to have to wait, which I doubt will be very distressing to them in their present location, or locations. Here’s Dame Vera Lynn with one of her best: a very lovely song about London, back when English people lived there.

There will be more from Radio Derb next week. Take it away, Ma’am.

[Music clip: Vera Lynn, “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.”]