If I remember correctly, one of the major points Leo Tolstoy makes in War and Peace is that enormous changes that sweep a country or continent are rarely the doings of one individual, even if it is tempting to believe it. Obviously Tolstoy was talking about Napolean, and although things may have gone differently in France and Russia had the little Corsican not been heading the Grande Armée, he was simply the person pushed to the front by a combination of powerful forces in play at the time. Were it not him, it would have been someone else. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, as Julius CaesarShakespeareWinston ChurchillMark Twain an obscure cricketer once said.
I found this argument persuasive, and I’ve often thought people put the cart before the horse when it comes to highly influential public figures. I’m not denying they are influential insomuch as saying the situation was ripe for someone influential to take charge, and it happened to be the one we now all know. I’ve been saying this for a while about Trump, particularly in response to those who think if they could just get rid of him, the political attitudes that surround him would disappear and everything would go back to normal. Anyone who thinks Trump has created and is now leading a political movement is either dim or hasn’t been paying attention; the political movement was there already, and merely chose him as its head when he wandered onto the stage at the first Republican primary.
But the idea of an all-powerful individual is persistent among a population, especially with those of a left-wing persuasion. Look at the blame heaped on Thatcher, as if her policies were not the result of millions of British people being utterly fed up with the behaviour of the unions over the previous two decades. And yesterday I came across this Tweet:
What about jo cox? He caused the atmosphere which resulted in her death.
Leaving aside the actual circumstances of Jo Cox’s murder, the idea that Nigel Farage single-handedly “created an atmosphere” across a country the size of the UK is preposterous. What Farage did was tap into mass popular discontent with the EU which already existed, he didn’t whip it up on his own out of nothing. If this were possible, I’d be in charge and there would be an awful lot more bluegrass on the TV and radio. And supermarkets would still be giving away carrier bags for free. Blaming Farage for Brexit is like blaming traffic jams on Henry Ford.
Of course, this effect runs in the other direction too, with individuals being deified: Obama was portrayed as some sort of Messiah put on Earth to lead the rabble into a new, progressive era. In reality, his election was mostly down to people being fed up with neo-cons, wars, Republicans, and dynastic presidents. They wanted a fresh face and a new direction, and Obama offered that. Regardless of what happened afterwards, he was seen as the right man for the time. This penchant to view leaders as all-powerful individuals shaping events which are taking place anyway leads to personality cults and hubris in the leaders themselves who start to believe their own bullshit. I suspect this phenomenon arises because it is firmly embedded in human nature. It is remarkably persistent, at any rate.
(This is a version of the post I wrote here, re-written in a more formal manner in the hope someone might like to publish it. Anyone know where I could send it?)
Few would argue that the 2016 US presidential election went as planned. It was supposed to be a straight contest between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, both fully endorsed by their respective parties on the grounds that it was their turn. Bush would have been denounced as a Nazi early on, as happened to Mitt Romney and John McCain, and like his hapless predecessors he’d have spent the entire campaign issuing clarifications and grovelling apologies. Clinton would have been feted by the media as the natural successor to Barack Obama, ideally suited to continue his good works in taking the country in a more progressive direction. She would win by a handsome margin becoming the first female president, thus striking a blow for women everywhere. Eventually the Democrats would concede Bush wasn’t really a Nazi, but not until long after Hillary’s inauguration.
Only it didn’t work out quite like that. Nobody knows why Donald Trump decided to run for the Republican nomination. Was it because Obama mocked him at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner? Or did he simply want the publicity before launching a new series of The Apprentice? It doesn’t matter now. Shortly after entering the primaries, Trump found himself at the head of a political movement no-one knew existed. The alt-right, as they became known, liked what he had to say particularly around topics nobody else would mention: immigration, Islamic terrorism, and the plight of blue-collar America. The more he spoke the more outrageous he became, and the more the media and his Republican rivals reacted with righteous indignation. But at the same time his popularity grew because of, not despite, his willingness to ignore the established rules of political discourse. Before we knew it Trump had won the GOP nomination; party favourite Jeb Bush had withdrawn weeks before with less than 1% support. I suspect nobody was more surprised by this outcome than Trump himself. He had entered the race as a joke figure and emerged as the unwitting leader of a powerful, grass-roots movement he knew little about. But he quickly learned how to speak to them, and they listened, and so did he.
Against all expectations, the forces which secured Trump the Republican nomination propelled him into the White House, defeating Clinton in the November presidential election. Here we had a novice outflanking experienced politicians with the backing of both major parties to become president of the United States. His victory can be ascribed to one simple thing: when it came to voting, he had the numbers.
Since then there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Trump is a Russian stooge, a misogynist, a white supremacist, a danger to the world. Perhaps, but what matters is enough people voted for him. Trump showed that simply by saying certain things, millions of disaffected people sick of the status quo and sense of entitlement among the political elites who dominate both parties will vote a maverick into the highest office in the land. Note Trump didn’t have to tell outrageous lies and make too many unrealistic promises, but it wouldn’t matter even if he did. All he had to do was speak to the masses on issues which the established political classes refused to address.
Given how easy it was in hindsight to wrest the presidency from the grasp of America’s complacent political elites, we should perhaps reflect on how fortunate we are that it was a 70 year old multi-millionaire New York playboy that stumbled upon the gaping hole that led straight to the levers of power. Nothing Trump has done – or intends to do – should cause alarm among ordinary, sane people who accept that politics is a broad tent which needs to accommodate many people and sometimes your side doesn’t win. Yet we are subject to a loud and continuous refrain that Donald Trump is without doubt the worst and most dangerous president the United States has ever seen. His presidency is under attack from all sides, including what is supposed to be his own, in the hope that one way or another they can force him from office and things will go back to how they were. Most people in the world would cheer if this were to happen, as would many Americans.
But let’s take a step back a moment. So far, Trump’s main activities in office have been overzealous, ill-advised Tweeting, muddle-headed speeches, fighting with Republicans, and backtracking on his campaign policies. With what he’s up against I doubt he can achieve anything other than slow the decline for a few years at most. The few policies on which he has made progress consist mainly of rolling back Obama’s EOs and other instances of blatant executive overreach. If this is what has the entire world squealing in terror and applying epithets recently reserved for those who had actually committed genocide, they are woefully ignorant, lacking imagination, lying, or a combination of all three.
Consider for a moment who might have got in. What if it had been a young, charismatic unknown who harboured greater ambitions than Trump and a far more ruthless streak that appeared on stage and said all the right things? As Trump showed, it really didn’t take much to win when up against Hillary and a thoroughly corrupt Republican party that takes its voters for granted. Such a person wouldn’t get in, you say? Well, who had heard of Emmanuel Macron before he became president of France? That’s not to say Macron will become a ruthless dictator, but few bothered to find out much about him before voting him into office largely on how he looked and who he wasn’t.
Somebody far worse than Trump could have trodden the path he took to power, and Twitter outbursts and trannies in the military would be the absolute least of our worries. Hillary really could be in jail instead of flogging her book of excuses, and the leaders of Antifa and BLM lying in hospital contemplating life in a wheelchair. If you think the decency of the American people and the robustness of the political system would prevent such an outcome, think again. In an era of Executive Orders, a weaponised IRS, politicised appointed judges, and a president with a pen and a phone, there’s an awful lot resting on the decency of Trump. Now there’s a thought.
Alarmingly, the political classes haven’t learned anything and seem determined to compound their mistakes. If they succeed in their efforts to force Trump from office by fair means or foul, what lesson do you think future political leaders will draw from it? They will assume the game is rigged and merely winning an election is not enough to hold power, and will do everything they can to ensure they cannot be unseated in a similar manner. If you conspire to get rid of a fairly elected president simply because you dislike him, expect the next guy to be a lot more savvy and interested in self-preservation over and above everything else.
In 2016 Americans dodged a bullet they never saw coming, and are fortunate it’s Donald Trump that now occupies the White House instead of someone much worse. If they have any sense, they’ll allow him to see out his term and leave office peacefully. If they don’t, historians may come to view this supposedly dangerous white supremacist as one of the most benign presidents of the 21st century.
Regular reader The Manc left this comment under yesterday’s post:
Over the last few months three different people have posted something on my Facebook feed along the lines of “we needn’t worry about terrorism because far more people die in car accidents each day”. They are the kind of otherwise highly intelligent people that would pull that statement apart if it was posted in relation to anything else. I actually find it quite offensive, in the old fashioned sense of the word.
I might have said this before but I think that it’s difficult to respond to social media posts like that in case it ends up in a public argument in front of everyone you know with a bunch of people you have never met.
Political posts on Facebook are about as appealing as a Mexican karaoke night. I got so fed up with it I wrote the posted the following rant on my own account a few months back:
Can I just say something to all those people who post political stuff on Facebook?
Most of what is posted is of a quality consistent with that of a high school debating class, relying on third-hand opinions, anecdotes, and sources which lost their credibility back when The Spice Girls were popular. None of what I read is new: they are the same tired tropes wheeled out again and again, subjects which have been done to death on forums, blogs, and chat rooms since the day the internet was born. If any of this was posted outside of Facebook and subject to public scrutiny it would be torn to shreds within a matter of seconds and the author would be made to look so ill-informed and stupid they’d probably only do it once. The reason this doesn’t happen on Facebook is because family members and friends are too polite, and have too much invested in the real-life relationships, to risk upsetting them by challenging bullshit. Most people would roll their eyes and move on.
Unfortunately, a few likes and suddenly people think their opinions are popular and they’re offering valuable insight. But no, most people I speak to are beginning to realise how much politics on Facebook make their real-life friends and acquaintances come across as real dicks. I confess I have occasionally posted political stuff on here, but I ought not to have done. If anybody thinks their political opinions are worth listening to, put them in front of a public audience first: join a forum, start a blog, open a Twitter account. Thrash out the ideas first so at least you get some proper, unvarnished feedback before peddling high-school crap to friends and family who only connected with you because up until then you seemed all right.
Please, Facebook politics is the worst kind. It’s a terrible forum for it, and you’ll end up believing your own bullshit and losing friends.
It didn’t change anything. One person in particular is a gay man from an authoritarian, Muslim former Soviet Republic who went to New York on a tourist visa and quite deliberately overstayed so he is now living there illegally. His Facebook timeline is just a blur of re-posted anti-Trump articles, many pertaining to how homophobic he is. If I were American, I’d be fucking livid.
The fascinating social experiment which is the United Kingdom got a bit more interesting last week when a bomb was planted on the London Underground. Fortunately it failed to fully explode, but it burned a number of people as the carriage passed through Parsons Green tube station, leaving behind a smoking Lidl carrier bag with fairy lights and crocodile clips which people seemingly walked right up to and photographed. Obviously they didn’t know it was a bomb, which leaves me to assume they were merely outraged at carrier bags littering the tube, bags they thought had been banned.
The media are, as usual, doing everything they can to obfuscate over who planted the bomb. Check out this BBC report:
An 18-year-old and 21-year-old are being held over the explosion, which injured 30 at Parsons Green station.
The house being searched in Sunbury-on-Thames belongs to a married couple known for fostering hundreds of children, including refugees.
Friend Alison Griffiths said the couple had an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old staying with them recently.
She described Mr and Mrs Jones as “great pillars of the community”, adding: “They do a job that not many people do.”
Lots of people have 18 and 21/22 year olds staying with them. What we want to know is are these the same ones who planted the bomb? The BBC can’t quite bring itself to ask the question, let alone answer it.
When the British government decided to admit thousands of child refugees from Iraq, Syria, and everywhere else it was obvious that many were not refugees and an awful lot of them weren’t children. The authorities didn’t even bother hiding this, such is their contempt for truth and transparency. They were warned time and again that these people weren’t being properly vetted and, having come from a war zone, some of them could be Islamist nutters bent on waging jihad once in the UK. Nobody cared: not the government, and nor the population.
Sure, people made noises on social media but when Nigel Farage brought up the issue of refugees in the last General Election the middle classes howled in outrage and backed that nice man Corbyn instead. However you interpret the results of the GE, one thing is clear: the bulk of the British people seem quite unconcerned about refugees and mass immigration. Proof of this is the reaction of the media and middle classes to people on the continent like Geert Wilders and Marine Le Pen. They wrung their hands at these nasty, racist people and cheered when the Netherlands and France “rejected hate” by electing nice, reasonable people who avoided mentioning Islam, terrorism, and immigration as much as they could.
The British middle classes have gone into full-on meltdown over Donald Trump, with many wanting him banned from the UK and others openly calling him a white supremacist. The same people reacted with apoplectic outrage when the rather mild and reasonable Jacob Rees-Mogg said that, being a Catholic, he opposed abortion in all forms. Apparently there is no place for opinions like that in British political discourse, and he was branded a dangerous extremist. The chances of someone like Rees-Mogg, i.e. a genuine conservative being elected British Prime Minister are slim indeed.
What people want is the sort of wet centrist that Cameron personified. Looks like a nice young man, not especially bright, will say whatever makes people happy and won’t really try to change anything. He’s basically the nice-but-dim uncle your parents let run the kids’ birthday party, a safe pair of hands. They don’t want the other uncle who goes on anti-nuclear marches and everyone suspects is a bit of paedo, and nor do they want the one who’s been in the marines and swears too much. People don’t like Theresa May because she exudes soulless mediocrity and reminds people of the dinner lady nobody liked in school, not because her policies are stupid.
This smouldering bucket on the tube has proved that beyond doubt. The policy of admitting in unvetted migrants from the Middle East and passing them off as child refugees was central to the government of which Theresa May and Amber Rudd were part. Okay, perhaps the 18-year old was a child when he got admitted. It would certainly explain the amateurish bomb-making efforts. The instructions on Fisher Price detonators were always hard to follow. I digress.
My point is that anyone who had not been following politics for the past few years would think the British public would be going absolutely mental at this government and the last for pursuing this insane policy, which has bitten them on the arse in the very manner everyone said it would. But no, the media and middle classes are as muted as ever in the wake of an Islamist bombing, hands are being wrung about a possible Islamaphobic backlash, Sadiq Khan has requested the BBC play the same speech he did last time to save him the effort of repeating himself, and all focus is on how Boris Johnson isn’t fit to be Foreign Minister because he said some things Remainers don’t like.
One can only conclude from all this that the majority British public, and certainly the middle classes, are not unhappy with the situation. Economists have this wonderful term called revealed preferences whereby you watch what people actually do rather than listen to what they say. Well, I’ve seen the reaction of the British public to Wilders, Le Pen, Rees-Mogg, Trump, and Farage and I’ve also seen their response to a series of Islamist bombings aimed at killing as many Britons as possible. What conclusion am I supposed to draw?
My guess is most people live nice, comfortable lives. They have enough food, a warm dry bed, a roof over their heads and more luxuries than their parents ever had, including a second car, foreign holidays, and an expensive phone. By historical standards they are financially secure (nobody is going to evict them from their home, and they can always get another credit card), and most are raising one, two, or three absolute brats who give the mother that unconditional love she’s craved since her student days when she watched far too much telly. It’s not just material, they have spiritual satisfaction, too: in the absence of a religion they have taken to virtue-signalling, backing righteous causes such as banning carrier bags, and making the world a better place – by opposing nasty men like Donald Trump, for example.
One should never discount how much intertia resides in a population so satisfied. Let’s be honest, nobody wants to change anything very much while things are going so well. If a giant bomb went off in London next week killing dozens of people and a fringe politician came out of the woodwork and said “By fuck, enough’s enough, I’m gonna solve this!” the middle classes would shit themselves and would cheer the Met as they arrested him for hate speech and carted him away in a paddy wagon decorated with LGBT livery. The chances of any individual being blown up or mown down by an Islamist nutter in the UK are miniscule, and for most people it’s simply not worth rocking the boat by electing someone who’s willing to harbour robust opinions, never mind actually do something.
In other words, Islamic terrorism is an acceptable price to pay to avoid upsetting the material and spiritual status quo the middle classes enjoy. And that’s why nothing gets done about it.
Anyone want to come up with a better explanation?
(Incidentally, this isn’t just a British thing: the German election is about to see Angela Merkel rewarded for her insane immigration and refugee policies with another term, running against someone who makes her look sensible. Again, what conclusion am I supposed to draw?)
There are a few snippets I’ve read over the last few days which can be tied together with a common thread. Firstly, Mikhail Khodorkovsky in the NYT:
The challenge facing democratically minded Russians therefore isn’t simply to remove Mr. Putin from power; it’s to replace the authoritarian system he personifies.
The whole piece is an American liberal’s wet dream of a country which has never seen proper democracy simply seeing the light and embracing the sort of society readers of the New York Times claim they want to see. This was the same idiotic thinking which got people believing if only we bombed the shit out of Iraq and got rid of Saddam Hussein, democracy would flourish. I don’t know if democracy and a free, tolerant society can take hold in Russia but if it does it must come from Russians themselves, preferably ones who aren’t former robber-barons who spent a decade in prison before fleeing abroad. I don’t agree with the conviction of Khodorkovsky, but I doubt he had much interest in turning Russia into a liberal, open society until he fell foul of the regime and the New York Times and their ilk started paying him to promote one. Simply stating Russia needs to move away from a centralised, authoritarian system is a bit like saying if only Israel dropped Judaism things would improve. You’d need a new population first.
The second is a comment from Bloke in North Dorset under yesterday’s post:
Going back to Tim’s point about the media, especially the BBC. Part of their problem is they have spent years carrying out the Buddhist equivalent of beatifying Aung San Suu Kyi and now she’s turned out be just like any other leader in the region who is more interested in power than human rights, especially those of minority Muslims.
There are a lot of people expressing their disappointment in Ms Suu Kyi , presumably for failing to leap to the aid of the Rohingyas. I expect those who are disappointed don’t know much about the Burmese or Asians in general, and those who do aren’t surprised in the least. I confess I don’t know much about Asians and nothing about Burmese, but in that part of the world one’s race or tribe counts for quite a lot. From what I can tell, Ms Suu Kyi’s original beef was with the ruling militia which was oppressing ordinary Burmese, and she wanted things to change – for the benefit of Burmese. Did she care about other minority groups out of adherence to some universal standards of human rights? In hindsight, obviously not. Alas, the wet lefties in the west who wrung their hands for years as Ms Suu Kyi languished under house arrest simply assumed she was just like them. Funnily enough, being Burmese and not American or European, she isn’t.
The EU’s top court has rejected a challenge by Hungary and Slovakia to a migrant relocation deal drawn up at the height of the crisis in 2015.
In asking the court to annul the deal, Hungary and Slovakia argued at the Court of Justice that there were procedural mistakes, and that quotas were not a suitable response to the crisis.
Officials say the problem is not of their making, that the policy exposes them to a risk of Islamist terrorism and that it represents a threat to their homogenous societies.
Their case was supported by Poland, where a right-wing government has come to power since the 2015 deal.
Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto was furious, calling it “appalling and irresponsible”. He vowed to use all legal means against the judgement, which he said was “the result of a political decision not the result of a legal or expert decision”.
“Politics has raped European law and European values. This decision practically and openly legitimates the power of the EU above the member states,” he said.
“The real fight starts now.”
In a milder statement, Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said his country’s position on quotas also “does not change”.
The people and governments of Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have made it abundantly clear that they do not want refugees from the Middle East and Africa being settled on their territory. The powers that be in Brussels deem this unacceptable, and wish to force these countries to take them.
The thread linking these three stories is the one whereby the ruling classes in the west seem to loftily assume that everyone else in the world is just like them, and if they aren’t then they should be. That western liberals are western liberals because they are products of the west’s liberal culture doesn’t seem to occur to them; they think people who are from wholly different cultures bound by very different histories and geography are the same, simply because they wish them to be.
As an attitude, it’s all rather 18th century colonial, isn’t it? Christian missionaries telling the natives to take the bone out of their nose and stop eating people would fit in well with today’s establishment classes.
I’ve noticed a concerted effort on the part of the mainstream media over the past few weeks to get everyone interested in the plight of the Rohingyas, a minority Muslim group in Myanmar who are being hounded by the majority ruling Buddists.
I have also noticed that nobody seems to give a shit. It might be tempting to put this down to the fact that westerners don’t generally care about brown people being killed in far-off lands with no oil underneath, but I suspect there is something else at work as well: people in the west are getting a little bit tired of hearing how Muslims are suffering.
There is also a perception, one which is easy to understand, that various western political establishments pander too much to Muslims. Whether it be councils and police ignoring the systematic abuse of children in Rotherham, the British courts jailing a man for leaving bacon outside a mosque, Australian prime ministers taking part in Iftar suppers, newspapers promoting the likes of Linda Sarsour, or police charging people with hate crimes for making Islamaphobic comments on Twitter, there is a growing number of people in the west who believe Muslims are a minority who have got a large chunk of the state apparatus working on their behalf to the detriment of the majority. Whether this perception is valid or not scarcely matters: perceptions in themselves matter.
There is also the fact that most westerners have come to realise that nobody – least of all Muslims – give a shit if Muslims are being killed by other Muslims. The only time we get to hear about Muslims being massacred is if non-Muslims are doing it. And the last few years have also demonstrated that if Muslims are massacring non-Muslims – such as the Coptic Christians in Egypt or the Yazidi people who fell under Isis – the mainstream media and our elites aren’t much interested.
Finally, westerners have now firmly taken note of how unwilling Muslim governments, particularly those wealthy enough to buy football clubs and build skyscrapers in Europe, are to help their fellow co-religionists in their time of need.
It is therefore not very surprising that few people are showing much concern for the plight of the Rohingyas. It wasn’t always this way: back in 1999 when Serbia was persecuting the Muslim Kosovars, the western powers launched a war to protect them. This was partly to do with guilt over Screbrenica and perhaps also because it was in Europe, but also people had more sympathy for persecuted people then, Muslims or otherwise. Nowadays that sympathy has all-but evapourated. Notice how reluctant populations were to endorse their leaders’ desires to go to war in Syria, again on the pretext of protecting Muslims.
This is a situation entirely of our establishment’s making. They quite deliberately set about promoting and favouring certain minority groups in order to virtue-signal, humiliate the majority population, and further undermine the societies they detest so much. In this they have been very successful, only the side effect is now the majority are thinking far more along ethno-religious lines than they have done for decades.
It’s a pretty dismal situation, actually. By implying that Muslims in the west are fearing for their lives surrounded by Islamaphobic hordes, the media has ensured nobody is paying any attention now a Muslim group is being persecuted for real. It’s the old crying wolf once too often thing again. If every five minutes there’s a bloke on telly saying Muslims are suffering in London, New York, and Amsterdam when they’re clearly not, people will simply tune out. And when you need their attention for real, you can’t get it.
It’s probably not too much of an exaggeration to say if the Kosovo situation, or even Screbrenica, arose again today fewer people would care and intervention would be much less likely. But the real tragedy is the attitudes towards Muslims that have been brought about by the establishment’s behaviour, which continues to this day, is eventually going to make things like Screbrenica a lot more likely in future. The antipathy to the plight of the Rohingyas should be taken as a warning.
The BBC are so busy bashing Trump they overlook what is actually happening in American politics. Here’s their headline:
Bannon on Trump’s worst mistake ‘in modern political history’
Jeez, what mistake is this? Invading Iraq? The Bay of Pigs? Giving Hillary the nomination?
Ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon says President Trump’s firing of the FBI’s director was the biggest mistake in “modern political history”.
Mr Bannon told CBS News if James Comey had not been sacked, a special counsel would not have been appointed to probe alleged Russian election meddling.
Oh, right. If you say so. But it’s not the BBC’s repeating hyperbolic nonsense that’s so bad, it’s this:
Steve Bannon says he’s “going to war” with the Republican political establishment. For conservatives – and even President Donald Trump – that should be very concerning.
Why should conservatives be concerned that Bannon is going to war with the Republican political establishment? It’s hardly like the latter has any interest in the former, is it? Anyone who didn’t have their head buried in the sand could see that Trump’s election was in large part due to conservatives being fed up to the back teeth with establishment Republicans going along with Democrat policies and doing nothing to conserve anything. Since the election these feelings will only have got stronger, with establishment Republicans being more interested in scuppering Trump than representing their voters’ interests. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than their utter failure to repeal Obamacare, or even come up with an alternative having moaned and bitched about it from the opposition benches for seven years. I’d imagine most genuine conservatives are absolutely delighted somebody is going to war with the Republican political establishment.
And why should this concern Trump? He’s barely a Republican, let alone an establishment one.
Mr Bannon seeks to tap into the same anti-Washington resentment that has fuelled the grass-roots Tea Party movement since the early days of the Obama presidency.
The Tea Party’s contribution to the Republican cause, however, has been decidedly mixed.
While it helped sweep Mr Trump to the presidency, and brought new energy to a moribund political hierarchy, the scalps the movement claimed were as likely to come from the right as the left.
What? The Tea-Party helped sweep Trump into office? This was written by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News North America reporter. I can only assume he suffered a major head injury just before campaigning started and woke up from his coma last night. The Tea Party popped up in the early stages of Obama’s first term around 2010, and was quickly infiltrated by establishment Republicans who pretended to listen but only wanted their votes. By 2016 they’d been largely forgotten. If anyone can be credited with sweeping Trump into office it is the much-maligned alt-right.
The former White House chief strategist also turned his fire on Republican congressional leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.
He accused them of “trying to nullify the 2016 election”.
“They do not want Donald Trump’s populist, economic nationalist agenda to be implemented,” Mr Bannon told 60 Minutes.
“It’s obvious as night follows day.”
Well, yes. It’s telling that the BBC appears to have learned this last night when Bannon told CBS.
I spent a chunk of yesterday discussing Jacob Rees-Mogg on Twitter with a bunch of people who don’t like him. Their concerns appear to be as follows:
1. JRM doesn’t believe in abortion. This is in itself bad, because the UN has apparently declared access to abortion services a human right.
2. JRM has a history of voting against abortion rights. This is evidence that if he were to become PM, this would become the Tory party line and he would change legislation to ban abortion. Given his control over healthcare spending, he could even do this without changing any laws.
3. By voting against abortion rights, JRM was “imposing his personal views” on other people.
Where to begin?
Firstly, JRM opposing abortion is an abomination to the left. There was a time when dissenting views were tolerated, but now only absolute acceptance of today’s shibboleths is allowed (Helen Dale makes this point here, on a different subject). Secondly, that the UN has declared something a human right is meaningless. Much as though supranational outfits such as the WHO and UN enjoy trying to set domestic policies on a global basis, it is pointless unless the people who make up the various societies go along with it. But that’s a subject for another post.
The second point raises two issues. Is voting history as an MP a good indicator over which direction a PM will lead their party once in power? I suspect it is, provided they’ve toed the party line. If they’ve voted in dissent of the party line on highly specific subjects, like abortion, it probably isn’t. For JRM to become Conservative party leader he would need to be in-synch with the other MPs on most issues. His views on abortion are likely to be out-of-synch with most Tories (but not all), hence he would be voted leader because of his other qualities and views. In other words, he’d be a solid Conservative with some outlying views on abortion. Would he then be able to make banning abortion the party line? No, he wouldn’t.
Of course, this assumes that he’d want to. Lefties assume that a PM, once in power, will immediately set about making his own personal views the party line, because this is what lefties do whenever they get in power anywhere. Yes, there is an awful lot of projection going on in the criticism of Jacob-Rees Mogg. The right have traditionally been more interested in pragmatism than ideological purity and imposing ruthless discipline of the party line (which is why they’ve lost the culture wars). It is almost certain that JRM, should he become PM, would not risk tearing his party apart in order to foist his minority views on abortion onto them. The left don’t believe it of course, one chap even saying he would ban abortion and abandon secularism across the country “if he could”, based on his personal views and voting record. Again, that’s because this is what their side would do once in power. The idea that JRM might hold principles in his head to do with not imposing ones unpopular views on the citizens of a representative democracy once in charge is alien to them.
The third point was rather tedious to keep having to deal with. The UK is a representative democracy, whereby MPs are elected to represent their constituents in the drawing up of legislation and voting it into law. This is a messy compromise to avoid the leader of a nation standing accused of “imposing his personal views” on the citizenry. In order to beat JRM over the head, lefties have declared that his voting on various issues is in itself “an attempt to impose his personal views on others”, as if the entire legislative process with all the consultations and horse-trading that accompanies it never took place. I could understand if he was championing an anti-abortion bill, or insisting health bills contained anti-abortion clauses, but merely voting a certain way is imposing one’s personal views on others? Since when?
Since JRM popped up, that’s when. Naturally, lefties have no problem with the absolute mountain of legislation which is imposed on the long-suffering British population via activist MPs, lobbyists, health-fascists, and other special interest groups which do represent the personal views of a very few people. That much of this is railroaded onto the statute books without proper scrutiny or debate doesn’t bother them one bit, and this is all ignoring the giant, lumbering elephant in the room: the EU.
Of course, they don’t believe half this stuff they’re saying about Jacob Rees-Mogg. They’re just throwing words around hoping some of them will stick: “he wants to impose his personal views”, “he doesn’t respect women’s rights”, “he’s an extremist”, “he’s a deadbeat Dad“, “we can’t take a chance”. They’ve looked across the Atlantic and seen this is how their counterparts are behaving and copied their techniques. But they didn’t stop to notice that it doesn’t work and, if anything, is rather counterproductive.
The British left have spotted a young, very bright, ambitious Tory MP who appears to be gaining somewhat of a following and, despite his poshness, is somehow quite likeable. He also appears to have integrity and principles, and so naturally scares everyone else – including a very great many Tory MPs – absolutely shitless. Their response has been to seize on the rather insignificant (at least in the UK) topic of abortion in order to paint him as a dangerous extremist who will take the country back to the Middle Ages. I give it another week and he’ll be labelled a white supremacist Nazi. This is exactly what American liberals did to Trump, and all it did was get him elected. The more the left express their hysteria over JRM, the more people will take a look at him and either like what they see (for the most part) or be glad he’s upsetting the right people.
There is an infuriating but effective method of political campaigning employed by the British left which goes as follows:
1. Labour wins election in 2005. Raises spending on X in 2006, 2008, and 2009.
2. Labour lose power in 2010, Tories come in.
3. Tories propose cutting spending on X in 2012, which would take spending back to 2008 levels.
4. Lefties scream that spending is being slashed to where it was in 1882, conjuring up visions of starving children in Dickensian workhouses.
It’s known as the ratchet mechanism whereby spending can only ever be increased but never, ever reduced. The middle classes – who are enormous beneficiaries of state expenditure – suck it up without question, not even realising the expenditure will drop only to 2008 levels (and things weren’t that bad then).
There’s a similar thing taking place now in the US, only it’s not to do with spending. Yesterday I came across this superb video explaining the phenomenon of Mattress Girl, the Columbia University student who falsely claimed she was raped and responded to his non-prosecution by dragging a mattress around campus. It is 47 minutes long but worth watching if you wish to understand the Title IX row that’s going on in America.
For those who can’t be arsed to watch it, I’ll summarise:
1. Emma Sulkowicz, a student at Columbia University, had a friends-with-benefits arrangement with a fellow student, Paul Nungesser. They’d had consensual sex once or twice and, if her text messages are anything to go by, she fell for him pretty heavily. He wasn’t interested in a relationship with her, and she threw a wobbly and claimed he raped her. Anyone sane reading Sulkowicz’s text and Facebook messages to Nungesser after the alleged rape would conclude the sex was consensual and her actions thereafter were of a jilted lover seeking revenge.
2. She didn’t go to the police for various rather convoluted reasons, but complained – quite a while later – to the university authorities. They investigated (as best they could) and concluded Nungesser didn’t rape her.
3. She then begins a campaign claiming sexual assaults and rapes are rife on college campuses, and she is but one of thousands of “survivors” whose ordeals are being brushed under the carpet while the rapists are allowed to roam free to rape and rape again.
4. Feminists seize on her story and amplify Sulkowicz’s campaign, giving it national prominence. Article after article pushes her version of events uncritically, and unanimously refer to her as a “survivor”, implying Nungesser raped her. The campaigners set about digging up other rape “survivors”, and claim there is an epidemic of sexual assault and rapes going unpunished across America’s college campuses. According to their figures, Ivy League campuses present a greater risk of rape than the worst African war zones. The campaign gains the attention and support of feminists in or close to the Obama Administration – particularly New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand – who takes up the cudgels on behalf of Sulkowicz, swallowing her story whole and inviting her to the State of the Union address.
5. The feminist campaign, which is based on unalloyed fabrications, targets Title IX of the United States Education Amendments of 1972, which says:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
In response, in 2016 the Obama administration – which is stuffed full of deranged feminists and headed by a man who lacks the balls to control them – issues a 19-page Dear Colleague letter which contains the following instruction:
We recognize that sexual harassment represents unacceptable conduct, and those found responsible should be appropriately sanctioned. Some of us have witnessed the injustices resulting from institutions that downplay or ignore sexual harassment on their campuses, and we commend OCR for taking a proactive approach to this problem. In pursuing its objectives, however, OCR has unlawfully expanded the nature and scope of institutions’ responsibility to address sexual harassment, thereby compelling institutions to choose between fundamental fairness for students and their continued acceptance of federal funding.”
In other words, the Obama administration bought into the rape-on-campus hysteria driven by the feminist movement, and effectively instructed colleges to remove due process for male students accused of rape. The presumption of innocence would be removed along with other obstacles such as proving guilt. The onus was on believing the women without question and throwing men under the bus – all in the name of liberal feminist politics.
Many people, and not just white male rapists, were appalled at this development branding it a contravention of a person’s right to a fair trial under the Constitution. Once Trump got elected the feminists lost their influence over the administration, and he appointed the decidedly non-feminist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of State for Education. One of the reasons her appointment was so viciously opposed by the Democrats, especially women, was partly because they knew full well she’d roll back the more lunatic policies of the Obama era (the other was that she’s likely to upset the unions).
This week DeVos has started to rescind the Title IX guidelines issued in the Dear Colleague letter, and – predictably – the left have gone absolutely ballistic, accusing her of siding with rapists over their victims. But it’s not just demented feminists on Twitter. Consider this:
Twenty state attorneys general published a letter to Betsy DeVos on Wednesday, urging the Secretary of Education to maintain the sexual assault reporting guidelines for college campuses currently found in Title IX.
The letter was co-signed by state attorneys general from around the country including Pennsylvania, Iowa, Virginia, North Carolina, New Mexico and Hawaii.
“We’re calling on Secretary DeVos to listen to law enforcement and trust survivors of sexual assault by keeping these protections in place and putting student safety first,” lead author of the letter Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a press release.
This is nothing to do with justice or the rule of law and everything to do with the promotion of poisonous, divisive, liberal politics. Even the BBC manages to be fairly even handed, reporting that:
During a speech at George Mason University in Virginia, Mrs DeVos called the Obama-era guidelines a “failed system” that had done a “disservice to everyone involved”.
“Instead of working with schools on behalf of students, the prior administration weaponised the Office for Civil Rights to work against schools and against students,” she said.
She said the definition of sexual assault was too broad and that too many cases involved “students and faculty who have faced investigation and punishment simply for speaking their minds or teaching their classes”.
Mrs DeVos, however, noted that acts of sexual misconduct are “reprehensible, disgusting, and unacceptable”.
“Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” she continued. “These are non-negotiable principles.”
It’s clear that every piece of Obama-era legislation, no matter how wrong-headed and unconstitutional it may be and how little debate or even thought was involved in its writing and adoption, will be defended to the death by Democrats, Republicans who wish they were Democrats, activist judges, and unhinged protesters determined to override the wishes of the people and make America ungovernable. We saw the same thing earlier this week with Trump’s decision to overturn the 2014 DACA policy, which Obama signed off in his office without bothering to run it through Congress.
The good news is that I doubt most Americans are taken in by this squawking in the way the British middle classes are, in fact I think the opposite is probably happening. Like a torch shining on cockroaches, I think a lot of Americans are grateful that Trump’s actions are revealing the true nature of their political elites, and they’ll be taking a careful note of who said what come election time. The other good news is that this process is happening at all: had Hillary won, the Title IX guidelines would have probably been enshrined in law.
This article by Emily Yoffe in The Atlantic is long, but worth reading. Choice quote:
Its report for the latter half of 2015 included a new category: third-party reports in which the alleged victim, after being contacted by the Title IX office, refused to cooperate. These cases made up more than 30 percent of all undergraduate-assault allegations.
Mark Hathaway, a California attorney who has dealt with several no-complainant complaints, says that the zeal with which these complaints are sometimes handled can be wounding psychologically to both the accused and his partner. Hathaway represented a young man who was in bed with his girlfriend in her dorm room. They were fooling around but not having intercourse. In the next bed was the girlfriend’s roommate and a male student. They thought that the girlfriend had had too much to drink to be able to consent to sexual activity. They mentioned their concern to a resident adviser, who was obligated to report it to the Title IX office, which then opened an investigation. “The girl says nothing happened; it was all consensual,” Hathaway told me. “But the school still goes forward.”