What doesn’t work on Corbyn also doesn’t work on Trump

Following on from the failed efforts to shame Corbyn, I present to you this:

Trump’s opponents believe if they keep throwing out revelations about his womanising past, the voters will wake up and realise they’ve elected a sleazeball. They’re as deluded as the people who think front pages of The Sun detailing Corbyn’s friendships with Communists and terrorists will make a difference to his poll standings.

Ever since I can remember, long before he became involved in politics and even before he hosted The Apprentice, Donald Trump had a reputation as being a womanising New York billionnaire playboy with a preference for east European models whom he’d marry and then cheat on. There are pictures of him in the early nineties at parties with Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty with women hanging around them like flies. His reputation was well known before he ran for president, which is why the Access Hollywood tapes didn’t do as much damage as his opponents hoped.

It’s not that the voters didn’t know about this side of Trump’s character, they just didn’t care about it enough to stop them voting for him. Pointing out the same thing over and over in the hope that people will suddenly change their mind will never work, and this as true for Trump as it is Corbyn. Like the Conservatives, the Democrats have the answer to Trump staring them right in the face: don’t be insane. Like their British counterparts, they can’t seem to grasp the solution either.

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School Shootings and American Society

A couple of tweets from me in relation to the latest school shooting in the US:

It is understandable that in the wake of something as horrific as a school shooting, there are calls to “do something”. When you have tens of millions of people all calling for something to be done, it is tempting to pretend that what can be done is simple. Take this idiot, for example:

It’s not my intention to re-hash the difficulties of addressing American gun crime in this post, I believe I adequately covered them here. Instead, I’ll engage in a little speculation as to what other factors, aside from America’s gun laws, might be causing the rise in these sort of shootings.

From what I can gather, the profile of a school shooter seems to be a rather weedy, angry, young white male who doesn’t have many friends, can’t get laid, and thinks the whole world is against him. Rather than running around trying to ban middle-aged Oklahoma hunters from buying rifles, we’d probably be better off trying to figure out why these lunatics feel so alienated and how to spot them before they go and shoot up a school. I’ve been reading reports that the FBI received multiple warnings about this latest idiot, but didn’t do very much. Perhaps it’s very difficult to intervene without grossly infringing a citizen’s rights, but I’d be more inclined to cut the FBI some slack if they weren’t expending considerable efforts in trying to unseat the president having failed to scupper his election campaign. If there is one area worth spending serious time investigating, it’s how to identify disaffected young men in advance of them shooting up a school.

Why these losers feel the need to shoot up a school is perhaps more complicated, but the reasons probably can’t be decoupled from contemporary American society and their place in it. Western education systems have become almost entirely feminised, benefiting girls at the expense of boys. Boys are continually told they are a problem, and what used to be passed off as ordinary boy’s behaviour is now treated with drugs. I’ve seen people on social media speculating as to whether the over-prescription of drugs might be a factor here; rather than blame the drugs as a cause, I’m more inclined to think a society which feels the need to pump boys full of drugs to control their behaviour might, in other ways, be creating monsters. Correlation rather than causation, in other words. In an increasingly sexualised society where girls are encouraged to put out while still in school and amateur porn is easily accessible and suffers no shortage of volunteers, awkward young men might feel the pains of rejection even more than they did in previous generations. Perhaps a society in which people gain instant fame for achieving nothing of note drives it, in part? Maybe these boys don’t take kindly to being called racist simply for being white, or told they are basically rapists just because they are male. The number of overlapping and interconnecting reasons might run into the dozens.

Whatever the reasons, young men growing up to be very unsure of themselves and seemingly unable to handle the world around them is a real phenomenon, and in fairness has probably existed since Cain reached his teens. What we can say is that the behaviours we’re seeing from young men, at least in America and the west in general is different – and I’m not just talking about school shootings. Apparently young men aren’t interested in forming relationships as much as they were, and a substantial number uninterested in sex altogether. A lot of them, to put it bluntly, are an absolute bunch of wet nappies.

The other day I came across this article:

Most American parents hit their little children. And most believe that they are doing something both effective and right.

But they are wrong.

The scientific case against spanking is one of those rare occasions in which, over a span of 50 years or so, a scientific controversy actually gets resolved, as various programs of increasingly rigorous research converge upon a consensus conclusion.

And, you’ve guessed it, research has shown that spanking does in fact increase children’s stress levels, as well as their risk for a host of future psychological problems.

Well, perhaps this is what the data shows, I don’t know. But do children and yound adults have fewer psychological problems than in the days when they were spanked at home? It doesn’t seem like it. And here:

Spanking Children Promotes Antisocial Behaviour and Slows Mental Development

We’ve got articles confidently asserting that spanking makes kids antisocial and prone to violence written by people congratulating each other on having outlawed the practice. At the same time we’re all wondering why teenagers are running around massacring their classmates. If I’d written articles like this, I think I’d have had the self-awareness to maybe tone down the celebrations a touch.

I’m not trying to say that spanking kids will stop them shooting up their school when the pretty girl in class turns him down for a prom date. What I’m saying is that societies, and human behaviours within them, are incredibly complicated and can’t be reduced to simplistic, politically-driven soundbites such as “deadly gun laws” and “the spanking debate is over”. Part of the reason why school shootings are likely to be a regular feature in America for quite some time is that too many people will want to engineer society in the hope of eradicating them while failing to acknowledge the damage they may have wrought through decades of similar social engineering. The way things are heading they’ll end up tightening the laws on people with mental illness buying guns, but expand the definition of mental illness to include anyone with thoughts they don’t approve of. This will lead to further alienation and frustration, while the genuine psychos slide unnoticed through all the noise on the radar.

What they need to do is to put all their efforts into identifying the handful of youngsters who will go so far as to shoot up a school, and leave everyone else the hell alone and stop wasting valuable resources cajoling, bullying, and threatening them into political submission. They won’t though, so the shootings will continue.

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Ill-Judged

Two recent court rulings in the US have caught my attention. Here’s the first:

A federal judge has blocked President Trump from ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, saying the administration’s justification was not “legally adequate.” Under DACA, which Barack Obama created via executive order, young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children can apply for legal protections.

The judge in Tuesday’s ruling called Trump’s DACA decision “arbitrary and capricious,” and noted that while the administration had claimed that DACA’s implementation by Obama was unconstitutional, Trump’s tweets about revisiting DACA suggested that he thought the president was well within his right to use executive authority this way.

What the judge is effectively saying is that Barack Obama was quite within his rights to implement the DACA program via executive authority, but Donald Trump is not permitted to allow the program to expire using that same executive authority.

Many people, myself included, thought Obama’s use of executive orders to bypass congress set a dangerous precedent, because future holders of the office may not be quite so benign (as if Obama was). Happily, certain judges in the USA have found a solution to this problem by only granting executive authority to presidents they approve of.

This isn’t the first time a judge has blocked Trump on DACA. In January, a federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to again start accepting DACA renewal applications. Tuesday’s ruling goes farther, saying that the Trump administration must start processing new DACA applications.

This is not ruling on matters of law, this is blatant political sabotage. Note the judge’s references to Trump’s tweet. Since when has the personal opinion of the president been a factor in whether the actions of his predecessor were legal or not? The judge has passed this ruling as a matter of personal preference, confident he will have the backing of millions of people, the law be damned.

Here’s the second ruling:

On Monday, a New York judge awarded $6.7 million to graffiti artists who sued the owner of buildings they defaced because he tore down the buildings.

Federal Judge Frederic Block ruled against Long Island developer Jerry Wolkoff, who had permitted the “artwork” on his property, known as 5Pointz, for decades, stating that Wolkoff was not sorry he had painted over the graffiti in 2013, torn down the buildings in 2014, and begun construction for two 40-story residential apartment buildings in 2015. Block said the penalty he assessed would not have been so exorbitant if Wolkoff had waited for the judge’s permission and demolished the art 10 months later than he did; that would have allowed artists to retrieve their paintings from the buildings.

Apparently graffiti artists have greater rights to a building in New York than the owner.

Block was seemingly impressed with the aerosol artists; in November, during the trial triggered by a lawsuit from the 21 aerosol artists, he gushed abut how works produced by the artists “spoke to the social issues of our times.” He also stated that the “respectful, articulate and credible” artists testified about “striking technical and artistic mastery and vision worthy of display in prominent museums if not on the walls of 5Pointz.”

And there was me thinking judges were appointed to adjudicate on matters of the law, not serve as art critics.

Block said, “Wolkoff has been singularly unrepentant. He was given multiple opportunities to admit the whitewashing was a mistake, show remorse, or suggest he would do things differently if he had another chance. … Wolkoff could care less. As he callously testified.

Why should somebody who has altered his own property, breaking no laws, be repentant?

The sloppy, half-hearted nature of the whitewashing left the works easily visible under thin layers of cheap, white paint, reminding the plaintiffs on a daily basis what had happened. The mutilated works were visible by millions of people on the passing 7 train.”

Apparently the price of paint carries weight in the law. Who knew?

Block also asserted, “The shame of it all is that since 5 Pointz was a prominent tourist attraction, the public would undoubtedly have thronged to say its goodbyes during those 10 months and gaze at the formidable works of aerosol art for the last time. It would have been a wonderful tribute for the artists that they richly deserved.

Okay, that’s enough of that.

In recent times we’ve heard western journalists and politicians express outrage over judges being “replaced” wholesale in places like Russia and Turkey, particularly after they’ve thwarted some nefarious government scheme or other. In many parts of the world, the idea that a judge is some impartial arbitrator of the law and not just some servant of the ruling classes is preposterous (the Russian film Leviathan made this point rather well). This is why the outrage over judges being replaced is often more muted in the country concerned; the people simply view it as another round of shuffling the political pack. But westerners get all hot under the collar because they think judges are above politics, and serve as an an essential restraint on politicians’ actions.

The two rulings I refer to above suggest the USA might be well on its way to becoming more like the third-world than a beacon of law and order. To be honest, this is probably nothing new: the Supreme Court’s decision over gay marriage was a naked display of judges deciding not what the law actually said, but what they thought progressives wanted it to say, something that Antonin Scalia captured rather well in his dissent. We also had the pantomime last year of regional judges declaring Trump’s immigration policies unlawful, using bizarre and unprecedented justifications.

The one thing that prevents American judges being replaced in the manner they are in much of the world is the preservation of the notion that they are disinterested arbiters of the law and not engaged in politics or activism. For whatever reason, some of their number seem rather keen to demonstrate otherwise. I don’t know how deep this runs, but I think we’re already in dangerous waters. If my mythical despot should seize the reins of power, he will likely waste no time sacking judges likes these in large numbers, and a whole load of others to boot. The problem is, the current actions of these so-called judges will make such a move reasonably easy to justify. Wherever this is leading, it won’t end well.

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What shall we do with the dunken sailors?

Staying on the subject of deluded millenials:

Nikki Walsh, 24, and boyfriend Tanner Broadwell, 26, decided nearly a year ago that they were tired of working.

“How can we live our lives when we’re working most of the day and you have to pay so much just to live?” Walsh, who booked time-share tours for a living, said to The New York Post.

It’s just so unfair.

“Most of the work you do goes to your home. There has to be another option,” she added.

She has a point: house prices are ludicrous, almost everywhere.

So the Colorado couple sold all their furniture and their SUV and purchased a 49-year-old boat in Alabama to live on and eventually sail the world in.

Twenty minutes on a sailing forum would have told them that you would never, ever buy a boat that old unless you had a lot of money and only wanted it for some Sunday afternoon fun in good weather.

The couple moved onto the 28-foot boat, which was in the marina of Tarpon Springs, a town on Florida’s Gulf Coast, and lived there for months with their two-year-old pug, Remy, while they stocked up on food and supplies.

The article didn’t mention whether they spent much effort getting the boat sea-worthy and honed their sailing skills. These would seem equally important as getting in food, in my humble opinion.

“We were pretty prepared,” Walsh said, of gathering items to last them for their planned trip to the Caribbean.

You probably don’t want to be going sailing in the open sea “pretty prepared”. Did they even have any experience?

Nearly two days into their venture, the couple’s boat capsized in a channel of water called John’s Pass.

“We thought the channel was where we were going, but it wasn’t,” Walsh told the Post, telling the publication they were armed with GPS and paper navigation charts.

All the gear, no idea.

“We started freaking out because waves were coming, and it was tossing our boat back and forth,” Walsh recalled.

An unusual situation to find oneself in when sailing, I suppose.

Broadwell was at the rear of the boat, holding onto Remy when the trouble hit.

Other than the boat capsizing, we don’t actually know what happened.

Local boat captains say the sandbars often shift in John’s Pass, the Post reported.

Do shifting sandbars cause boats to capsize?

Before abandoning ship, Walsh said they grabbed some clothes and important documents, as well as things for their dog.

“I also grabbed Remy’s food and just about everything he needed,” said Walsh. “He doesn’t deserve to go without his favorite toys.”

This whole thing reads like it’s taking place in about three feet of water in a boating pond down at the local park.

Walsh admitted she and her boyfriend, who used to drive for Uber, were “new to sailing.”

Frankly, they’re lucky they’re alive to tell the tale. When I was sailing during the time I lived in Melbourne, I used to frequent some of the sailing forums and read a few books on the subject. One thing I quickly learned was that there is an enormous difference between pleasure sailing (which is what I did) and covering long distances in the open sea or ocean. I was surprised to learn that all boats leak, and leak badly: if you’re going sailing in rough waters for any length of time, expect to be cold, wet, and miserable. I also learned that you need to have a lot of experience to do proper sailing, which you build up by doing shorter day trips in different weathers and environments, then a few overnight trips, learning as you go for months or years before you attempt to take to the open seas. I absorbed all this information and promptly decided I’d stay well clear of ocean sailing. Have our two heroes learned the same lesson?

However, the couple, who has been left with just $90 in cash, no jobs and no boat insurance, say they are still hopeful for their world-sailing plans and have started a GoFundMe begging people to help them “not give up on [their] dreams.”

I’ve just checked the GoFundMe page: at the time of writing they’ve raised over $14k, no doubt thanks to national press coverage.

The pair are seeking $10,000 to rescue the ship, which sunk off the coast of Madeira Beach, FL. Walsh said raising the boat alone will cost at least $6,700.

Leaving $7k with which to refit the boat, head for the high seas, and promptly sink again. Giving these idiots money borders on criminal negligence.

Though the pair seem down and out, they still plan to “buy or salvage another boat” at some point and “try try try again,” Walsh writes on the GoFundMe.

“You only have one life. Why spend it doing what you don’t love. Money isn’t everything!” Walsh told the Post.

Money isn’t everything, says the couple who blew thousands on a boat they didn’t know how to sail, learning nothing in the process. I don’t think they’re quite as hard-up as they think they are.

“We have a lot of family helping us, but it’s hard when you’ve lost everything,” Walsh told The Post from Jacksonville, where the couple is staying with loved ones.

Uh-huh. When you get to the bottom of these stories of millenials who are suffering from poverty or some other catastrophe, you almost always find a paragraph alluding to a wealthy, middle-class lifestyle which likely contributed to the situation they’re in. Lost all your money through raw stupidity? Never mind, friends and family can step in and help out. The genuinely poor rarely have this option, which is why they have to weigh their decisions a lot more carefully. Their misfortunes also tend not to get covered in the national press.

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America is even luckier than I thought

Back in September I wrote:

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.

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?

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.

Now let’s consider the state of affairs implied by the infamous Nunes memo:

Perhaps this is hyperbole, so let’s look at what National Review has to say:

[The memo] does make a persuasive case – pending any detailed rebuttal by its partisan Democratic critics – that flimsily-corroborated Democratic Party campaign opposition research succeeded in influencing law enforcement to spy on a U.S. citizen involved in the political process at the height of a presidential campaign. That may not be an enormous scandal in size, but it is, if true, a scandal.

And Streetwise Professor:

But one thing that this entire sordid episode has demonstrated is that the bureaucracy generally, and the intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies in particular, consider themselves an independent power, a co-equal–superior actually–branch of government, the Constitution be damned. Trump is deemed the usurper.  Indeed, it is clear that many senior members of the FBI, DOJ, and the intelligence community considered it their right to intervene in the election in order to prevent Trump’s election, and failing that, to kneecap his presidency. And virtually all of the political class in the US is on their side. This is the real Constitutional crisis.

This is not the end.  This is at most the end of a beginning. For the acknowledgement that the FBI and DOJ–and the Obama administration–used under false pretenses a dossier paid for by a political campaign and assembled by rabid partisans to obtain permission to spy on an American just raises other questions. Who other than Page was spied on? Were their names unmasked? What use was made of the information obtained from the Page surveillance? By whom?

So far, Trump’s response to the combined efforts of the DoJ, FBI, Democratic Party, and apparently Barack Obama to derail his presidential campaign has been rather benign, preferring to let the wheels of justice turn slowly, assuming they’re turning at all. What few people are willing to acknowledge is that, if Trump were a lot more ambitious and as dangerous as people say, he would have a handy excuse to start rounding people up and throwing them in jail by the hundred, if not thousand.

When malevolent authoritarians take charge of a country, they often need to fabricate a reason to start arresting their political opponents en masse. Consider the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey which, whether it was genuine or not, handed Recep Tayyip Erdoğan the perfect excuse to jail thousands of opposition figures including politicians, journalists, judges, and military personnel replacing them with steadfast loyalists. Sure, this is mostly banana republic stuff but then so is what is going on in the USA. What else to call it? Imprisoning or murdering political activists is a lot harder to justify if they aren’t actively conspiring to overthrow a sitting president, or scuttle their election campaign using illegal methods. Once it’s been demonstrated that they are…well you’re taking your chances on the decency of the man at the top. Consider this:

How do you think Putin or Erdogan (or even Macron) would react to a challenge like this? If the FSB were brazenly threatening to bring down the Russian president, having been caught red-handed trying to stop him getting elected, heads would be rolling, the prisons would be rapidly filling up, people would be fired, and loyalists installed before the week was out.

I suspect the head honchos in the FBI, DoJ, and other branches of the “permanent government” or Deep State believe they can count on the loyalty of their members to oppose Trump on all fronts, sabotaging any attempt to bring about reform. If so, this puts them on dangerous ground. Trump is meeting resistance only because the people concerned feel safe to mount it; if they saw a few senior people being dragged away at the end of a gun and a new boss they don’t know immediately telling them to get in line or else, the resistance would melt like snow in the spring. How many activist judges or defiant mayors would remain once a few of their number had been arrested and replaced in the middle of the night, their families cast into the street? But they know Trump isn’t going to have anyone jailed or shot, so they act with impunity.

For anyone doubting whether Trump could conjure up a band of loyalists ready to do his bidding consider this: James Mattis inspires a loyalty and following which nobody in Washington could even hope to match. If he called on some former colleagues to take over as head of the FBI, DoJ, and any other branch of the government they’d crawl over hot coals to do so, and do exactly what they were told from thereon. Not that I think Mattis would go along with such a programme but again, we’re relying on the decency of Trump and his key staff members. Anyone who thinks Trump & Co. couldn’t find enough willing servants to do their dirty work should they want to is deluded. Hell, I’d bet 90% of those praising Obama would switch allegiance in a heartbeat if promised greater pay and prestige under a new regime which wasn’t taking any prisoners.

In my previous post, I made the point that the state of US politics in 2016 left the door wide open for some seriously nasty bastard to take charge. Now we’ve learned that the winner was not only handed a government structure thoroughly corrupted and open to obscene manipulation, but he was also provided with a rather tempting excuse to engage in a massive purge which would see hundreds of senior government figures in prison for life. Americans ought to be on their knees praying in gratitude that the person who stumbled into this was a billionaire New York playboy in his seventies with a supermodel wife and a penchant for tweeting and playing golf. Instead, most people seem to be labouring under the impression it was the worst outcome imaginable. This is why they might not dodge the next bullet quite so successfully. If they don’t, they can’t ever look back and say the warning signs weren’t there.

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The Undoing of Rose McGowan

It was the New York Times interview with the actress Rose McGowan that first brought Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour to the attention of the general public last October (it was common knowledge in Hollywood circles). This is why I had a vague idea who she was when I saw the video below, filmed during a book signing at a Barnes & Noble in New York:

The person who yelled at her is a transsexual woman who appears to have a rather dubious history of her own. Naturally, this being 2018, the organisers of the women’s march, the event where deranged women turn up in DC wearing pussy hats to scream en masse at Trump, have denounced McGowan and she is now becoming persona non grata:

So last week McGowan was a feminist heroine, a survivor of sexual assault and leading the fight against the Patriarchy. But having not taken any shit from a bloke in women’s clothes who stood up and abused her at her book signing, she’s now an outcast.

Here’s my view: these people are fucking insane. I have some sympathy with McGowan – the lunatic who accosted her should have been turfed out on her ear – but look at her reaction and overall demeanor, best seen in this video shot shortly after the incident:

She’s turned up to a book signing wearing what looks like gym kit, or an outfit she loafs around her flat in. She’s slouched in her chair able only to express anger littered with profanity, coming across as a moody adolescent who’s decided to copy TV portrayals of ghetto thugs when telling her parents she doesn’t want to clean her room. And people actually turned up to listen to this?

People are tempted to point to Harvey Weinstein and say this is what is wrong with Hollywood. Alas, I think the problems go way deeper, and have spilled over into whole swathes of the media and even politics. It is quite something to watch whole swathes of an advanced country go collectively insane.

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Opinion Presented as Fact

Here’s the BBC’s main headline at the time of writing:

Here’s the actual story:

The US House Intelligence Committee’s top Democrat has accused Republicans of amending a memo about claims of FBI surveillance at the 2016 election.

Adam Schiff said Republicans had changed the text after it was voted on.

So it’s an unsubstantiated claim by a political opponent. You wouldn’t have guessed that from the headline, would you? This wouldn’t be quite so bad were the BBC not in the habit of presenting Trump’s claims in deeply skeptical terms, even running whole articles attempting to debunk anything he says. These people are obsessed.

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When Towers and Trust Collapse

The BBC is running a story about 9/11 conspiracy theories:

On 11 September 2001, four passenger planes were hijacked by radical Islamist terrorists – almost 3,000 people were killed as the aircraft were flown into the World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. Just hours after the collapse of New York’s Twin Towers, a conspiracy theory surfaced online which persists more than 16 years later.

“Is it just me?” an internet user named David Rostcheck wrote, “or did anyone else recognise that it wasn’t the airplane impacts that blew up the World Trade Centre?

“I hope other people are actually catching this, but I haven’t seen anyone say it yet, so I guess I will. There’s no doubt that the planes hit the building and did a lot of damage. But look at the footage – those buildings were demolished,” he continued. “To demolish a building, you don’t need all that much explosive but it needs to be placed in the correct places… Someone had to have a lot of access to all of both towers and a lot of time to do this. This is pretty grim. The really dire part is – what were the planes for?”

Subsequent investigations made it clear that the tower structures were weakened by the inferno from the planes and felled by the weight of collapsing floors. However even now some people refuse to believe this version of events.

I watched the towers collapse on a television in the conference room of an engineering consultancy, surrounded by civil and structural engineers. None of us could believe what we saw, and many of us thought an airplane crashing into the towers couldn’t cause the towers to collapse as they did. A few months later some American TV station aired a program explaining exactly how they collapsed, someone recorded it, and we all packed into the same conference room to watch it. Everyone came away fully satisfied by the explanations given.

The video explained that the two towers fell in quite different ways. Their construction consisted of an inner steel core and an outer shell, held together by cross-braces made of light steel. Neither the inner core or outer shell could stand independently, so the cross bracing was essential. When the aircraft struck the impact knocked off a lot of the fire protection, and the subsequent fire weakened the cross bracing to the point the outer shell fell away, causing the entire tower to collapse. In one video clip you can actually see the core standing on its own for a fraction of a second before it too collapsed to the ground. The other tower fell differently. When the aircraft struck, the resulting fire weakened the supporting steel above the impact point so the entire (intact) tower section above slammed into the floor below, which gave way, and the process repeated through several floors bringing the entire structure crashing down. Although burning jet fuel is insufficient to melt steel, any increase in temperature beyond a certain point severely reduces its structural strength, and temperatures far exceeded that point.

There are many inexplicable elements to 9/11, but most have to do with the fact that this event was entirely without precedent. Nobody could possibly have predicted what would happen should two colossal skyscrapers come crashing down in sequence in the middle of a city, and the mechanisms it triggered in the immediate surroundings will never be properly understood. People say WTC 7 (or whatever) should not have collapsed in the way it did; well, nobody knows how a building is going to behave subject to forces of that nature, all we can do is look at the wreckage and try to figure it out. If the same thing was repeated half a dozen times we might get a better idea, but until then there will always be a lot of odd phenomena about 9/11 we can’t explain. This is what conspiracy theorists rely on when peddling their nonsense.

However, the point of my post is to highlight how much times have changed. When 9/11 occurred there was still some semblance of trust in the US government, and only demented conspiracy theorists believed it would be an inside job. Most people were even on board with the official explanation, which seemed to make sense to me. I certainly can’t see any reason not to believe the official version of events, at least those concerning the WTC and the Pentagon (the story of Flight 93 lends itself to some manipulation, not least because we don’t know for sure what the target was and how it was brought down). But public trust took a huge knock a year later when George W. Bush and co. started banging on about Iraq’s nuclear weapons and resorting to complete bullshit to make the case for war. Since then things have gone rapidly downhill: the Obama years saw the utter corruption of government agencies, flat-out lies concerning Benghazi and Fast and Furious, and since Trump’s election it’s been non-stop disinformation regarding Russia’s alleged interference in US politics. To cap it all, we had a gunman firing hundreds of rounds into a crowd in Las Vegas and after a brief period of feeding the public contemptible bullshit, law enforcement officials and politicians have decided they’re not going to tell anyone what happened, and the media aren’t in the slightest bit interested in finding out. The government’s reaction to this event was so remarkable that even normal, balanced people were convinced something was rotten about the whole thing. And we’re still waiting for answers, by the way.

So my point is that the 9/11 conspiracy theories are nonsense, but if 9/11 happened today the public would have every reason to think they were being told a pack of lies from the outset and they’d almost certainly be right. This collapse in public trust may prove almost as catastrophic as the collapse of the towers themselves.

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Threshold Identified

For those of us wondering what it would take for a government employee to get fired, we’re getting an inkling:

Two top civilian officials from Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency have resigned over the sending of a false incoming missile alert.

The 13 January message led to widespread panic and the authorities took 38 minutes to correct it.

The official whose identity remains unknown, was temporarily reassigned after the incident, but has now been fired from the agency by state officials.

The FCC said the employee had so far refused to cooperate with investigators beyond submitting a written statement.

A state report also released on Tuesday said the employee had a record of “poor performance” on the job.

Reports say he had been a source of concern for colleagues for 10 years, having confused emergency drills with real life incidents on at least two occasions.

So anything short of repeatedly confusing emergency drills with actual missile attacks will be casually overlooked, and even then you might just find yourself temporarily reassigned.

That said, I’m not convinced large corporations are much different. Being off-message or insufficiently compliant will get you hounded out far quicker than mind-boggling incompetence. There are enough examples of that kicking about.

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Fatty and Skinny

During yesterday’s press conference following the announcement of Trump’s clean bill of health, a reporter – who adheres to practically every stereotype Americans have of Brits – asked the following question:

Did you tell the current president about his predecessors’ exercise routine and does this president ask you about how he could follow his predecessors’ example to be as fit as Barack Obama was?

Leaving aside the pointlessness of the question – does he fancy Obama, or what? – there is an age gap to consider. Trump is 71, Obama is 56; when they entered office they were 70 and 47 respectively. That’s quite a difference, although their wives became First Lady at roughly the same age. For some reason, few reporters compare them physically.

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