Global Media Wars

There’s a rather fascinating media war being fought these days between the established mainstream “dead tree” media and rival new upstart internet media outlets. Here’s the NYT/Boston Globe laying down a barrage on upstart Infowarrior Alex Jones:

Is Donald Trump taking his cues from Alex Jones?

By Jim Rutenberg NEW YORK TIMES FEBRUARY 21, 2017

Way back on Friday, President Donald Trump declared that several news organizations — ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, The New York Times — were “the enemy of the American people.” You know who’s not the enemy, in his book?

Alex Jones.

Jones, in case you aren’t aware, is the conspiracy-theorizing, flame-throwing nationalistic radio and internet star who’s best known for suggesting that Sept. 11 was an inside job, that the Sandy Hook school shooting was “completely fake” and that the phony Clinton child-sex trafficking scandal known as Pizzagate warranted serious investigation (which one Facebook fan took upon himself to do, armed with an AR-15).

Essentially it’s a war between the old media that was against (and still is against) Donald Trump, and the new media that was all for him. And since Donald Trump’s election as US President, the new media have been in ascendancy over the old media – an event comparable to the upstart motormouth Cassius Clay’s victory over Sonny Liston.

In this respect I have to say that in recent years I’ve become something of a devotee of the new media over the old media, in very large part because the new media are available free, and the old media are not. So I read ZeroHedge, Matt Drudge, Breitbart News, Daily Caller, and watch YouTube videos of Alex Jones’ Infowars, and listen to podcasts of talk  radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and Mark Levin. I don’t watch any mainstream BBC news at all, because I’ll have to pay the £155/year licence fee if I do. Recently I stopped watching the BBC iplayer catch-up service, because that has now been deemed to require a licence to view that too. Similar restrictions apply to the Times, Telegraph, and several other established media outlets (but not the Independent, Guardian, Mail, and Express).

The result is that I get all my news from free sources, and none of it from pay-to-view sources. And my opinions have been increasingly reflecting this. I’ve been a pretty avid Trump supporter over the past 18 months. And if I’d been an American citizen I would have voted for him in last year’s presidential election. I can well imagine that plenty of American citizens have a similar opinion profile: they read free stuff, and don’t subscribe to the New York Times – because they can’t afford to -, and they voted for Donald Trump because Alex Jones and Michael Savage told them to.

It’s not even that I’m a true believer in the new media. I’m not a 9/11 conspiracy theorist: I still think that the twin towers were brought down by a couple of airliners flown by people with names like Mohammed Atta. And I still think that a lot of schoolkids and teachers were killed at Sandy Hook. And I don’t believe that Bill and Hillary Clinton have been flying out regularly to Orgy Island (well, not Hillary anyway). But I tend not to believe everything I’m told, whatever the source. So when the mainstream media have been telling me that smoking is the cause of nearly every ailment known to man, and that if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels we’ll soon be facing catastrophic global warming, I tend not to believe them either.

I tend to run my Plausibility Meter over everything I read, asking myself: How Likely Is That To Be True? Is it really very likely that the twin towers were demolished by controlled explosions shortly after having large jet aircraft fly right into them? The needle on the meter moves up into the red Implausible region. But it’s not always like that. Everyone was being told by NASA and the media that the Chelyabinsk fireball of 15 Feb 2013 was completely unrelated to asteroid 2012DA14 that passed very near the Earth on the same day. But it seemed highly plausible to me that the two were related. In that case, the needle remained firmly stuck in the green Plausible region. And, since I constructed numerous orbital simulations, it actually seems a lot more plausible than it did back in 2013: the needle has been moving into the deep green Highly Plausible region of the dial. But I know that pretty much I’m  on my own in this.

But with the MSM calling out Infowars and Breitbart and others as “fake news”, and no less a person than the President of the United States calling out the New York Times as “fake news”, we’re in a major firefight between rivals fighting for legitimacy. Who’s going to win? Who do you trust? Who don’t you trust?

It’s a struggle between the recognised, established experts in every field versus upstart nobodies on the internet. It’s NASA versus Frank Davis. And it’s the UN IPCC versus an army of climate sceptics. And it’s the WHO Tobacco Control against billions of smokers scattered all over the world. It’s the New York Times against Alex Jones’ Infowars. It’s professionals against amateurs. It’s big battalions against guerrilla groups. It’s a whole bunch of Goliaths versus a whole bunch of Davids.

And if you’re someone who readily defers to established experts, you’ll tend to believe the professionals. And if you aren’t, you’ll be rooting for the amateurs.

Somehow or other, the recognised, established experts, that nobody would ever have dreamed of questioning 20 or 30 years ago, are increasingly coming into question. What else is likely to happen to the Roman Catholic church if many of its clerics are found to be paedophiles? What happens to the standing of atomic scientists when their nuclear power stations (Chernobyl, Fukushima) regularly melt down? In such circumstances, people start asking questions. And in the new media environment of the internet, with huge amounts of information available to everyone, it’s increasingly easy to ask questions and come up with new answers. And to tell lots of people about it.

I don’t know how it’s all going to pan out. But I do know that we’re in a global media war.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

An Epidemic of Chinese Restaurants

I’m interested in what people in Tobacco Control think. But it’s an alien mindset. And, I think, a completely mad mindset.

Simon Clark reports on ASH Scotland:

We hear that Forest is paying for a survey with the aim “to find out what smokers really think”.

This is a laudable aim – and chimes with an interest of ours. We don’t know enough about who smokers are, what they are thinking or how they perceive the actions of public health interests (or indeed commercial ones).

In particular there is a need to explore how views and desires vary amongst the 900,000 people in Scotland who smoke tobacco – why do some groups smoke more than others? What services or functions are people seeking from smoking? Why does a consistent majority say that they want to stop?

Sadly this FOREST survey will not help us with this.

I don’t think that Tobacco Control has any interest in what smokers really think. Why should they? Tobacco Control wants to eradicate smoking and smokers. So why should they be interested in what smokers think? If you have an infestation of mice or rats, do you want to know what the mice or rats think? Can mice or rats think at all? And who cares what they might think anyway? It is of no consequence at all.

For these people, smoking is a disease. They think that the world is in the grip of a “smoking epidemic”. It’s a disease because people can’t help doing it: they’re addicts. And Tobacco Control is “helping” them.

For them to want to know what smokers think is like wanting to know what typhoid or cholera or malaria sufferers think. Of what value is it to know what these people think? About what?

What Tobacco Control is doing is to take a well-established medical model of communicable disease – typhoid, cholera, malaria, etc -, and extend it far beyond the borders of medicine. They see smoking as a disease like typhoid. It’s a disease that kills people just like typhoid does. And it’s a disease that’s communicated much like typhoid, through advertising, glitzy packaging, peer pressure. From the Foreword of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (my added emphases):

The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic. The spread of the tobacco epidemic is facilitated through a variety of complex factors with cross-border effects, including trade liberalization and direct foreign investment. Other factors such as global marketing, transnational tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, and the international movement of contraband and counterfeit cigarettes have also contributed to the explosive increase in tobacco use.

It’s a bit like someone who’s a car mechanic seeing not just cars as needing servicing, but everything else as well, including trees, animals, people, bridges, houses. And so in absolutely everything they’re always looking for the nut that needs tightening, or the valve guide that needs replacing, or the oil that needs changing – in trees, animals, and plants. Such people take what knowledge they have of some subject – cars – and universalise it to everything else. They approach everything as if it was a car. And Tobacco Control is a mutant form of medicine in which everything is seen as a disease of some sort. “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail “(Mark Twain).

Because it’s not just tobacco that they see as an epidemic, but also alcohol, fat, sugar, salt, fast food. When they look at the world around them, they see rampant disease everywhere. If a new chinese restaurant opens up somewhere, they see it as part of a growing epidemic of chinese restaurants. They probably see Starbucks as a disease, an epidemic of coffee bars that’s spread all over the world from its origin in Seattle in 1971, with Patient Zero the first guy who walked into the shop and ordered a latte.

They’ve universalised the disease model. It doesn’t just apply to typhoid and cholera. It applies to everything. And now they’re trying to wipe out not just typhoid and cholera, but also smoking and drinking and chinese restaurants and Starbucks coffee bars.

Perhaps it even extends to the political world. Big Tobacco is a disease. And Big Oil too. And Capitalism is a disease, a sort of epidemic that broke out a few centuries ago, and has been raging ever since. So actually they’re trying to eradicate not only smoking and drinking and chinese restaurants and Starbucks coffee bars, but also Big Tobacco and Big Oil and Capitalism. They are all diseases. Global Warming too. And the presidency of Donald Trump as well.

Perhaps it’s why they’re all so health-conscious. Once you start to see disease everywhere around you, you start to take precautions. And when smoking became a disease, and smokers diseased people, then sitting in a roomful of smokers was just like sitting in a roomful of plague or typhoid patients. And not just smokers, but also drinkers and hotdog eaters and chinese restaurant goers.

It’s precisely because smoking is seen as disease that smokers are believed to want to stop smoking, and thereby recover from the disease. The idea that smokers might not want to stop smoking is as implausible as a cholera patient not wanting to recover from cholera. And to the extent that smokers can be persuaded that they are suffering from a disease, to that extent they are bound to want to be cured of it. Same with drinkers. And chinese restaurant goers. And golfers.

What’s deeply poisonous about the mentality underpinning Tobacco Control is that it turns everything into a disease. Smoking. Alcohol. Chinese restaurants. Big oil. Capitalism. It defames everything. Nothing is healthy. All is sickness and disease.

In fact, Tobacco Control is itself a disease. It’s a mental disorder that has reached epidemic proportions. It’s the disorder that comes of seeing everything as some sort of disease or disorder. It’s the disorder disorder.

It’s a mental disorder that reaches the highest levels of the WHO, as evidenced by the way they were holding a week-long conference on the global smoking non-epidemic while the very real Ebola epidemic was killing thousands in Africa. They’ve taken their eye off the ball, because they see everything as a ball of some sort.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Broken Dreams

‘Progressives’, it seems to me, are people who think they can see the future, and know the shape of things to come. They regard themselves as far-sighted. And they all seem to be agreed that the future will be some sort of planned, managed, socialist state. And that it will be “smoke-free”. And that it will be powered by sunshine and wind.

The rest of us are stunted, knuckle-dragging throwbacks, and all too often those worst sort of unenlightened retards: tobacco smokers.

The spherical surface of the Earth seems to be populated by tall, far-sighted progressives – who can see what’s coming over the horizon, just like look-outs posted in the crow’s nest at the top of a ship’s mast – while the short, stunted crewmen on the deck below can barely see over the next wave, never mind the distant horizon.

I have to count myself among the tobacco-smoking retards, I’m afraid. I’ve never had compelling vision of the future. I’ve never been working towards some future utopia. Nor even been trying to avoid some future, global-boiling dystopia.

It is our peculiar misfortune that we are unable to see the future. But that doesn’t stop us trying to predict it. My orbital simulation model of the solar system is a predictive model, based upon our knowledge of the elliptical orbits of the planets around the Sun. I can use it to foresee eclipses and planetary conjunctions. But if we can predict with great accuracy the future positions of the planets, we have no idea when or where the next Chelyabinsk will happen, as some asteroid impacts the surface of the Earth with the power of thousands of atomic bombs – because we don’t know where most of the asteroids are. We only know where some of them are. And we usually only find out when they have just sailed close by us. One of the odd things about the solar system is that what was once seen as the very expression of perfect clockwork predictability is gradually turning into something almost completely unpredictable, as the numbers of bodies in it have multiplied.

The political world is no different. We’re all trying to predict the future there too. Will Marine Le Pen become the next French President? Will the European Union survive its current crisis? Will newly-elected President Donald Trump be toppled, impeached, or assassinated? Last year, Britons were widely expected to vote to remain in the European Union, and there was shock and disbelief when they voted to leave. Also last year, Americans were widely expected to vote Hillary Clinton into office as the next President of the United States, and there was equal (or perhaps even greater) shock and disbelief when they instead voted for Donald Trump. Neither of these things was predicted. Neither was expected. And for many people the mismatch between what was predicted, and what actually happened, resulted in a sort of collective nervous breakdown. It wasn’t supposed to be like this!

It’s not as if I am myself immune from this sort of upset. I did not predict the UK smoking ban of 1 July 2007. I couldn’t even believe it was going to happen even when it was actually happening. The mismatch between this grim new reality and my idea of what congenial English pubs were like, and would always be like, was unbearable – and remains unbearable.

It’s like losing a girlfriend. Yesterday she was on your arm beside you, and today she’s stepping out with some other guy. Why him? Whatever can she possibly see in somebody like him? And you want her back. But eventually, after a while, somehow or other, it ceases to matter any more.

The ‘progressives’, with their carefully constructed fantasy future utopias, are always going to end up being disappointed and heartbroken, when the future doesn’t pan out the way they thought it would, expected it would, knew it would. And when that happens, they are likely to learn that they’re not actually as smart and knowledgeable and insightful as they thought they were. And that they can’t see any further than those dumbass morons down there on the deck  below.

But if none of us can predict the future, and we’re always seeing our expectations dashed, are we very much better at remembering the past? If the look-out in the crow’s nest can’t see very far over the horizon ahead, then he can’t really see much further over the horizon behind. Did the ship dock last week in Tangier, or was it Guadalupe? The ship’s log is said to record its movements, but what if you can’t read the handwriting in it, or understand its French or Latin or Greek? There are whole tracts of human history – anything more than about 5,000 years ago, for example – that we know next to nothing about. Its history has been lost, and its monuments are indecipherable.

Perhaps all we have is Right Now, and maybe a week or two ahead, and a week or two behind. And sometimes maybe just a minute or two ahead, and a minute or two behind. And both past and future have the character of dreams that are continually being shattered.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 26 Comments

The Shock Wears Off


…for a moment on Saturday, Trump went back into campaign mode with a massive rally before thousands of supporters at an airplane hangar in Melbourne, Florida where he revived campaign promises to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, reduce regulations and create jobs – and continued his attacks on the media.

Trump told the cheering crowd that he wanted “to speak to you without the filter of the fake news.”

The rally was put on by Trump’s campaign, not the White House. Trump told reporters he was holding a campaign rally because “life is a campaign.”

Trump, who held a rally in the same spot in Florida in September, clearly relished being back in front of his supporters, welcoming the cheers and letting one supporter up on stage to offer praise for the president. He also enjoyed reliving his surprise victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

And the president’s supporters welcomed the opportunity to see him. Kenneth Wood, a 45-year-old electrical engineer from Daytona Beach, said this is his fourth or fifth Trump rally.

“His bond with his supporters is really like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Wood. “They’re fun and Trump’s a hell of a showman.”

I thought this was remarkable. One month into his presidency, Trump was back in front of a crowd of his grassroot supporters.

Most politicians only speak in public when they’re campaigning for office. After they’re elected they mostly just talk to each other. But Trump clearly thinks that he needs to carry on speaking directly to the Americans that elected him. And if the “deep state” really is trying to topple him, he may need them.

He was speaking in Florida, but I now expect to see him periodically pop up in other states, and speak to similar crowds. Maybe he’ll even visit a few states that he didn’t visit during his presidential campaign – like California.

If he does this, Americans are going to love him. And he’ll build a deeper bond with them than he’s already got. And his numerous critics will start looking more and more like sourpusses.

According to some reports:

The majority of Americans seem to like what new president Donald Trump is doing as highlighted by Drudge Report which shows he has a 55% approval rating.

For a president who has sparked so much anger and outrage among certain sectors of the population (and media) his ratings are stubbornly strong.

While according to others:

Donald Trump’s approval rating a month into his presidency is at a historical low compared to past presidents, according to a new poll.

The US President currently has a 40 per cent job approval rating, the measure used to gauge a leader’s public popularity during their time in office.

It looks like opinion polls are as all over the place as they were before the election.

Some are suggesting that his hostile media may be punching itself out:

…the question is the media with the constant hysteria, with the constant sense of crisis, are they punching themselves out in the sense that they are undermining their own credibility?

And others that it’s time for the Democratic party to take a look at itself.

…Perhaps worse than the serial cheating itself was that it was all in service of coronating a candidate who — as many of us tried to warn at the time — all empirical data showed was the most vulnerable to lose to Donald Trump. So the very same people who bear the blame for Trump’s presidency — by cheating to elevate the candidate most likely to lose to him — continue to dominate the Democratic Party. To describe the situation is to demonstrate the urgency of debating and fixing it, rather than ignoring it in the name of talking only about Trump.

Here in the UK I’ve only recently gained the sense that, after the Brexit vote, the political class have finally accepted what happened, and aren’t going to try to undo it. But Brexit was 8 months ago. Trump’s election was less than 4 months ago, and he’s been in office less than a month. When something shocking and surprising and unexpected happens, it takes people a while to accept it. But the shock and surprise eventually wears off. In 4 months time, most of the Americans who once couldn’t abide the thought of a Trump presidency will probably be resigned to it, maybe even quite comfortable with it.

But sometimes shock and dismay never wears off. It’s coming up to 10 years since the UK smoking ban of 1 July 2007, and I’m no more resigned to it than I was 10 years ago. I still can’t abide it.

But why should I? Brexit and Trump are the products of popular votes in the UK and the USA. But the British people never voted for a smoking ban. The 2007 smoking ban was something deceitfully and tyrannically imposed on them. It should never be accepted. For to accept it is to accept tyranny.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

After Brexit

Yesterday’s big news was the ratification of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA:

“Trump is the only Republican who repeatedly promised to rein in EPA,” said Steve Milloy, an attorney with the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute, who served on the Trump transition team focused on the agency. “That’s going to be Scott Pruitt’s job — to rein in the EPA.”

The actions could be taken during a welcome ceremony for Pruitt said to be planned for Tuesday — mirroring Trump’s decision to sign two executive orders at the Pentagon during a Jan. 27 swearing-in for Defense Secretary James Mattis.

Other directives the Trump administration is expected to issue in coming weeks include one to suspend the government’s use of a metric known as the “social cost of carbon” until it can be reviewed and recalculated. Another would effectively nullify guidance from Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality that climate change should be factored into government agencies’ formal environmental reviews.

This is a bit like appointing a pacifist as an army’s commanding officer, or a Buddhist as Pope – someone more or less completely opposed to the organisation’s values. There are going to be a lot of casualties.

I’m just hoping that EPA tobacco regulations are casualties as well.

The other thing I came across yesterday was After Brexit: The Battle for Europe. Since it had a BBC person going round Europe interviewing people, I wondered whether a TV-licence-non-payer  like me was allowed to watch it without paying the £155 licence fee. But it was on YouTube, not BBC iplayer, so maybe it was perfectly legal for me to watch it. Although these days I wonder if you have to pay the licence fee to watch anything in which the BBC even gets mentioned. Or in which the letters B, B and C are seen adjacent to each other.

The presenter, Katya Adler, did a lot of walking around in high heels as she spoke to Beppe Grillo, Matteo Renzi, Yanis Varoufakis, Marine Le Pen, Martin Schulz, Guy Verhofstadt. While I was watching it I didn’t think it was particularly interesting. But, as often happens when I watch something somewhere, a day or so later something I heard comes filtering back into mind.

For example, the interview of Marine Le Pen that starts at 45 minutes in:

Marine Le Pen: “I think that the division between Left and Right is an illusion. It’s an artificial division sustained for years to hid the fact that there is another option. The true division is between patriots and globalists. I am on the side of patriotism. And many European leaders have been on the side of globalisation.”

This new patriot-globalist division is something I’ve become increasingly aware of in recent years – with the patriots being localists or “nativists” who are rooted in one country or other, while globalists see themselves as “citizens of the world”, and want open borders and single currencies. Donald Trump, for example, is an American patriot.

But I couldn’t see that this new division rendered the Left-Right division illusory. For me, the Left is all about top-down state control, and the Right is about free markets and free enterprise. You’re a leftist if you regard the state as essentially benign, and free enterprise as rapacious. You’re on the right if you see it the other way round (as I now do, since becoming a victim of the state-sponsored War on Smoking).

Marine Le Pen’s Front National is (or was) associated with antisemitism and xenophobia.

Katya Adler: “What would you say to the people saying that you don’t respect immigrants or Jews, that the Front National is a racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant party?”

Marine Le Pen (with a look of profound shock and surprise on her face): “Listen, those critics no longer exist in France. OK, so the English Channel separates us. But it’s not so big that this can’t get through to you. None of those insults exist in France any more. So we have to stop them in the UK. They’re the argument of people who have nothing to say about the substance.”

The Front National was founded by her father Jean, who was said to be antisemitic. But Marine Le Pen kicked him out of the party when she took over, and started re-branding it.

And then, at 57 minutes in, Martin Schulz:

Martin Schulz: “We should be proud of what we achieved. Your country, the United Kingdom, and my country, Germany, were enemies in that war and became friends. It was a 2000 year history of war. And since [seven decades] we have no war. In my eyes this is a success story.”

Several things bothered me about this passage. Firstly, you’d think from this that Britain had been at war with Germany for 2000 years prior to the formation of the EU. In fact, there have been many occasions – most of the time, in fact – during which Britain either at peace with, or was allied with Germany (e.g. when Prussia was fighting Napoleon Bonaparte).

And if he meant the general absence of war in Europe over that past 70 years, isn’t that very little to do with the EU, and mostly due to the fact that the USA (in the form of NATO) was for most of that time in an armed stand-off with the Soviet Union, across an Iron Curtain that ran right through the centre of Europe?

And also, if they’re all Europeans in Europe now, the borders dissolved, why did Schulz make the point that Adler was British, and he was German?

Somewhere in the middle of the programme somebody made an interesting point about the difference between eastern and western Europe, which was that after many decades of Soviet control, eastern European countries wanted to re-assert their nationhood – while in western Europe the nation state was seen by many people as one of the principal causes of conflict and war.

Last word, at 58 minutes in:

Katya Adler: “It could be that our national debate in Britain about Brexit turns out to be an irrelevance. Sooner or later the EU as we know it may no longer be there for us to leave.”

A point I’ve made myself a number of times.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Welcome To The Deep State

Just when I thought everything would calm down…

The Deep State. I’ve been hearing rumours about it on and off for the past year or more. But now it seems it’s become official.

Bill Kristol, the prominent Republican analyst who founded The Weekly Standard, wrote on Twitter, “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.”

Glenn Greenwald provides a definition:

GLENN GREENWALD: The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.

It makes perfect sense. In the UK the deep state would be the Civil Service and the intelligence agencies, many of whose mandarins work inside them for their entire lifetimes, the Sir Humphrey Applebys satirised in Yes Minister.

But if there’s a permanent deep state, there’s also a transient deep state that’s made up of political appointees from different administrations. There are some 4,000 of these, it seems, and Donald Trump nominees for these various posts are only slowly being ratified by the Senate, with the result that maybe less than 10% of them are in place.

Which means that 90% of those remaining are Obama appointees. And if they are also Obama loyalists, then they’ll still quite possibly be taking their cue (and maybe even their orders) from Barack Obama, who has bought a house in Washington DC, perhaps so as to be best placed to direct matters. It seems entirely plausible to suppose that, right now, Donald Trump has only got political control of 10% of the US government, while Barack Obama remains in control of the other 90% of it. Perhaps that explains why Mike Flynn’s telephone conversations have been leaked, along with Trump’s telephone conversations with the Mexican and Australian prime ministers. Trump, in his press conference yesterday, said that neither of these two conversations were particularly important, but asked what if they’d been about North Korea or something. Trump is hamstrung right now.

Trump seemed to think that he’d eventually get all his political appointments in place, and get rid of the transient population of Obama appointees. But that would still leave the permanent deep state inside the CIA and other organisations. Glenn Greenwald again:

…Trump’s agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted. Clinton’s was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they’ve been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him. There’s claims that they’re withholding information from him, on the grounds that they don’t think he should have it and can be trusted with it. They are empowering themselves to enact policy.

Greenwald said that he thought Trump was very dangerous (to the environment, Muslims, etc.), but there were legitimate ways in which he could be resisted, in the courts, in the House and Senate, and on the streets.

That isn’t what this resistance is now doing. What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, the CIA, with its histories of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup, where they take the elected president and prevent him from enacting his policies. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that. Even if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving. But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it. And yet that’s what so many, not just neocons, but the neocons’ allies in the Democratic Party, are now urging and cheering. And it’s incredibly warped and dangerous to watch them do that.

It certainly seems like Bill Kristol wouldn’t mind if US democracy was destroyed, if that’s what it takes to stop Trump.

Add to that:

More than 12,000 tweets have called for Trump’s assassination since the inauguration

Assuming that Trump does manage to take complete control of the US government over the coming months, I’m beginning to wonder if he’ll want some payback for what’s being done to him right now – and we’ll be seeing arrests and trials of some surprising people.

Not unrelatedly, Breitbart:

LONDON (AP) — The European Union is blatantly anti-American and President Donald Trump’s administration regards it with suspicion, a leading contender to be the U.S. envoy to the 28-nation bloc said Thursday.

Ted Malloch, whose potential appointment has prompted anger and alarm in Brussels, said he and Trump “have very similar views about Europe.”

He said the U.S. is “somewhat critical and suspicious” of the bloc, an economic and political union involving half a billion people.

“We would prefer, certainly in the Trump administration, to work with countries bilaterally,” Malloch said in an interview with The Associated Press.

James Delingpole has a podcast interview of Ted Malloch, who compares 2016 to 1968, and thinks Mount Rushmore will need a new addition.


Marine Le Pen is on course to be the next president of France, according to one fund manager’s big-data analysis.

perhaps because

Fillon: ‘My Voters Will Go Straight to Le Pen’

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

What’s So Progressive About Progressivism?

All ‘progress’, I was thinking this morning, seems to involve diminution. It’s something that’s perhaps seen clearest in modern architecture, where all – or almost all – ornamentation has been stripped away, and buildings are minimal boxes with windows in them. Or just glass boxes, with even the walls stripped out. And inside them, the interiors are equally devoid of ornament, with plain walls – usually white – and plain floors, and plain chairs and tables. And if there is any art inside these interiors, it is increasingly abstract and minimal and monochromatic: a green square with a red dot on it.

If the process continues, we may expect that architecture will completely vanish, and buildings will become invisible.

The same thing has been happening with clothing, that other form of architecture. Clothes have become simpler. And people wear less of them. Eventually, perhaps they will wear nothing at all.

A few days ago I saw a TV set which actually had vanished, and become a transparent sheet of glass when not in operation. Perhaps the final stage of this evolutionary process would be that it would remain transparent even when in operation: the minimal TV set would not only be invisible, but there would be nothing to see on it.

Perhaps the entire thrust of Western civilisation has always been one of simplifying and diminishing and minimising. Modern science attempts to explain the world with the fewest possible concepts – mass, length, and time -, and in so doing replaces elaborate systems of religious belief with something abstract and minimal.

And smoking bans entail a further diminution, entirely in keeping with the minimalist direction of progress. Smoke was another inessential item that could be stripped out, and so it was. In time, no doubt, they will also strip out the inessential wines and beers and spirits as well. And the music. And the quite unnecessary conversation. And finally they will dispense with all the inessential pubs and bars and cafes themselves. They will vanish.

Contrast that with the architecture of the Parthenon, with its sculpted frieze (now held in the British museum), or the Temple of Amun at Karnak, with its numerous sculpted gods and pharaohs, every inch of it covered in hieroglyphs. In the past, simplicity was only to be found in peasant dwellings and clothes: the rich wore elaborate costumes, and lived in sumptuous decorated palaces.

But as the inessential and unnecessary is stripped away, meaning is stripped away along with it. Modern art and architecture is increasingly meaningless, faceless, devoid of content. Smoke-free pubs lose their ambience.

So do smoke-free cinemas. Cinemas used to be social places in which people talked animatedly between shows, and ate and drank and smoked throughout, with the projection lights shining through a haze onto the screen. I stopped going to cinemas when, long before pub smoking bans, they introduced cinema smoking bans (and probably alcohol and talking bans). Cinemas were stripped down to their barest essential purpose, of watching movies. Everything else, including the slight thrill of anticipation that accompanied seeing any new movie, was excised.

Political progressivism also entails stripping away the inessential, and creating an administrative state in which people are simply kept alive, with the bare minimum of food and shelter and clothing. Our lives must be stripped of inessential tobacco, alcohol, fat, sugar, salt. We will live on bread and water in barren rooms inside faceless buildings. We will be prisoners.

What’s probably most disgusting to progressives about someone like Donald Trump is that he is quite unnecessarily rich, and flaunts his wealth in huge buildings, and large private jets (why can’t he have a little Lear jet, like other rich people?), and sprawling golf courses. He wears ties that are two unnecessary inches longer than everyone else’s. Most of the rich have learned to keep their wealth respectably out of sight, and to live lives as apparently minimal as everyone else’s. Not The Donald. He is a living affront to the ascetic minimalism of this progressive era.

But is this sort of ‘progress’ really progress? Isn’t it more like being gradually returned to a state of poverty? Isn’t wealth naturally expansive and loud and decorative? If we really were rich, wouldn’t we live in buildings as elaborately decorated as the Parthenon or the Temple of Amun, and wouldn’t we wear elaborate costumes, and eat and drink and smoke the widest variety of substances? Isn’t all wealth inessential? It is as if, as Christianity has lost its institutional hold over us, we have been invaded by a new army of secular, self-flagellating, self-denying monks preaching vows of poverty and chastity and silence.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments