More Civil War Revisionism

Lately there has been a lot of historical revisionism surrounding the US Civil War, the latest of which is outrage over General John Kelly’s remarks that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War”. This led to howls of outrage from people who believe the only words anyone is allowed to say on the subject are “Slavery is evil!” over and over until our brains melt, but Streetwise Professor has done us all a service by pointing out that what Kelly said was factually correct and would make sense to anyone who knew what they were talking about.

This group would probably not include the author of this thread which I came across this morning on Twitter:

Now I understand that a lot of the pro-Confederate views in the South were a reaction to the Civil Rights movement, but that notwithstanding, what is this chap on about? “Black people were thrown under the bus of revisionist history?” Were they? How? By whom?

And the South was allowed to keep it’s “pro-slavery culture and institutions”? Well, other than having their institutions as well as homes and property utterly destroyed by the Union forces and slavery being abolished along with the economic system the South relied on, presumably.

What he means, of course, is Southerners were permitted to live and express their opinions rather than being forced to adhere to the narrative of the victors. Actually no, scratch that: he means they weren’t forced to adhere to the narrative of modern-day SJWs bent on historical revisionism a century-and-a-half later. I don’t know a lot about the Reconstruction of the South, but I understand it was a period of considerable hardship and humiliation for those involved. One doesn’t need to sympathise with the South to point out this is hardly compatible with a cosy compromise which allowed them to carry on as before, as this chap implies.

Even assuming this compromise is what Kelly was talking about – and it wasn’t – what were the options open to the US at the time? They fought a horrific war to prevent the Confederate states seceding, and somehow had to reincorporate them and the population back under the Federal umbrella. Other than mass murder or repressions along Soviet lines, what choice did they have other than to reach a compromise? The only people who have had that demanded of them were the Germans after Nazism, and look how that’s turned out: seventy years they’re so lacking in confidence they’ve voted to replace their own population. Even the Japanese weren’t required to hang their heads in shame in perpetuity, and nor have they paid much more than lip service (and financial reparations) for what they did in Manchuria and Korea before and during WWII. What this man is demanding is the descendants of everyone who fought for the South to grovel at the feet of the Permanently Aggrieved to atone for holding the wrong opinions about events long in the past which few seem interested in understanding any more.

And this amused:

Pa Smith has been telling Sonny Boy that their family is so woke they knew slavery in the US was wrong and would have fought against it, even though they were living in Lithuania at the time. That any Lithuanian migrant drafted into either army would have had the first idea what they were fighting for is laughable, let alone the suggestion that their opinions on blacks and slavery would have aligned perfectly with abolitionists – or contemporary SJWs.

What’s more worrying is idiots like this believe it is they who have the solution to the widening rifts in US culture, whereas they are more likely to send the US headlong into serious civil conflict.

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Fake Outrage, Fake News

Perhaps it’s because I know a lot of soldiers that I don’t find this particularly worthy of outrage:

US President Donald Trump has said a lawmaker’s claim he made a soldier’s widow cry is “totally fabricated”.

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson said she was shocked by the president’s comments to the bereaved wife of a fallen soldier.

The Democratic lawmaker claimed he told the widow: “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.”

Ms Wilson told WPLG, a Miami TV station, she heard the president’s “so insensitive” remarks to the widow on speakerphone in a limousine.

Naturally, everyone is falling overt themselves to condemn Trump for a single sentence in a conversation being relayed to us secondhand by a politician of the opposition party who overheard it. The BBC, as usual, is gleefully running it as their headline story.

Context is important, and so is nuance. The way the media is presenting it, Trump rang up the widow, said those words, and hung up. But acknowledging that the young man knew the risks, said in the right way, could be comforting. For example:

I know you can’t see it this way now, but he died doing what he loved, serving his country. You should feel immensely proud of your boy, putting himself in harm’s way to secure the freedoms of others. He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway.

It’s a bit clumsy, but then this is Trump (and Obama wasn’t much better once you took away his teleprompter). Unless and until we know the full transcript and the tone in which the words were delivered, this outrage is simply fake news.

Ms Wilson told the Washington Post that the widow, Myeshia Johnson, who is expecting the couple’s third child, broke down in tears after the conversation.

“He made her cry,” Ms Wilson said.

The world’s combined media seem unable to entertain the possibility that she would cry after talking about her recently deceased son regardless.

“Yeah, he [President Trump] said that,” Ms Wilson said. “To me, that is something that you can say in a conversation, but you shouldn’t say that to a grieving widow.

But turning the whole thing into a media circus is just fine, presumably.

“And everyone knows when you go to war, you could possibly not come back alive. But you don’t remind a grieving widow of that.”

Well, actually you might. It is probably of some comfort to a widow that her late husband died as a volunteer who knew the risks rather than some poor sod drafted in against his will.

The full context of the conversation is not known. Ms Wilson said that when she had asked Ms Johnson about the exchange, she said she could not remember.

It sounds as though Ms Wilson has more of a problem with what Trump said to Ms Johnson than Ms Johnson does. Has anyone got her opinion, or does she just wish the media circus would leave her alone to grieve in peace?

The alleged remarks sparked angry comments on social media, with Ms Wilson saying on Twitter that Mr Trump did “not possess the character, empathy or grace to be president of the United States”.

Perhaps sensibly, the US chooses presidents on voter preference and doesn’t disqualify them on the basis of a psychological assessment made by an opposition politician after eavesdropping on a phone call.

This is not the first time Mr Trump has found himself in an imbroglio over US veterans.

He also engaged in a racially charged feud with the parents of decorated army captain Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004.

A feud that was kicked off when Khan’s parents were wheeled on stage during the Democratic National Convention and his father promptly attacked Donald Trump. Strangely, the BBC left out that part.

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Trump is a Puppet of [Insert Country]!

From the Washington Post:

Erdogan’s government began cultivating Donald Trump’s team before the election. Michael Flynn, then a campaign aide, was hired as a pro-Turkey lobbyist, and his firm continued to receive Turkish money during the transition. After Flynn resigned as national security adviser in February, the Turks began working with Rudy Giuliani, a close Trump adviser.

So, having utterly failed to turn up a shred of evidence of collusion with Russia, those who don’t like Trump move the narrative effortlessly onto collusion with Turkey.

Is anyone sane still listening to this crap?

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What Passes for Journalism

Two examples of shoddy journalism that irked me.

The first, described on Twitter as being an example of “Tory values”:

In a bid to crack down on so-called ‘health tourism’, 20 NHS trusts across the country have taken part in a government pilot scheme to trial identity checks for patients. The results of the pilots are due to be published later this year, but doctors, patients and health organisations have spoken to Politics.co.uk to raise serious concerns about the impact they have had.

“One of the worst cases involved a pregnant French woman who was of Asian descent,” one doctor says. “She arrived for a routine scan and was asked by reception staff if she was eligible for free care. She told them that she was French and had never needed to provide ID before. The receptionist told her that she didn’t ‘seem French’ and called the Paying Patients department to question her further.

“The woman was so upset by what was happening that she had a panic attack. I was called to check her over. I had to tell the Paying Patients department to leave the room because they had upset her so much.”

Sorry, but this doesn’t pass the smell test. Firstly, French people habitually carry ID with them everywhere and I doubt it’s a habit they ditch when they move to the UK unless they’ve been there many, many years. And to access the healthcare system in France they need to produce a separate carte vitale, which most French people carry in their wallets alongside their ID. It is therefore highly unlikely a pregnant French woman went to a hospital expecting treatment without bringing some form of ID. It is even less likely she had a panic attack on being asked for some.

Secondly, I have a hard time believing a hospital receptionist said she didn’t “seem French”: this isn’t the 1970s, and even the NHS would have given their receptionists some rudimentary training as to how to deal with those without ID. According to the journalist who wrote it, the doctor witnessed the whole thing – yet later she says he or she was “called to check her over”. Did the doctor stand idly by as this woman went into a panic attack, waiting to be called over? And who called her? Or was she actually out of earshot when the “didn’t seem French” remark was made (which I suspect is more likely) in which case who are we relying on for the quote?

This whole thing looks to me like an embellished story fed to a gullible reporter by an anonymous doctor who doesn’t like the policy. As a piece of journalism, it fails to establish key details of the story and doesn’t make sense even on a superficial level.

The BBC, reporting on the withdrawal of subsidies to health insurance companies, doesn’t do much better:

US President Donald Trump will end subsidies to health insurance providers designed to help low income households, as he continues his attempts to dismantle Obamacare.

The White House announced the move hours after Mr Trump signed an executive order allowing the sale of health insurance plans which are exempt from some of the law’s regulations.

The announcements come after Congress repeatedly failed to repeal Obamacare.

They were instantly criticised.

Democratic Party leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement denouncing the end of subsidies as a “spiteful act of vast, pointless sabotage” which would harm the poorest citizens.

Meanwhile, critics of the initial announcement argued it could de-stabilise the Obamacare market by encouraging healthy consumers to leave their current plans, prompting a spike in premium costs for older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions.

According to a statement from the White House, the subsidies, which run into billions each year, were not legal.

This might come as a surprise to the BBC, but rulings on legality are not made in the White House but in courts. As the Washington Post reported last August:

Republicans have long protested the payments, and in late 2014 the GOP-led House filed a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration, contending that the subsidies were unconstitutional because Congress had not made a specific appropriation for them. Last year a federal district court ruled in the House’s favor, and the Obama administration appealed the case to the D.C. Circuit.

All Trump has done is stop the appeal. The illegality of the payments is therefore not a matter of a White House statement, implying its merely Trump’s opinion, but something ruled upon by a federal court. It’s yet another example of Obama deciding to do things on his own without consulting Congress, as he was constitutionally obliged to do. Not that you’d know that if you relied on the BBC for information.

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More on Harvey Weinstein

Commenter Stephen K responds well to my previous post on Harvey Weinstein:

Contra our host’s idea that this will be big, I think it will blow over. Nothing will happen. None of Weinstein’s (former) fans and enablers will change their views (at most they will go a bit quiet for a while, until they can change the subject). Hollywood will use this as the opportunity to bravely make films about sexual abuse in which they bravely depict conservative/ traditionalist men as abusers. These films will be highly praised as topical and (of course) brave. It is a matter of days, if not hours, before someone writes an article explaining that “the Weinstein scandal is all the more reason why we must redouble our resistance to the misogynistic regime of Trump” which will get retweeted a million times. We have seen it all before.

I agree with this of course, mainly because it is already happening. Today Newsweek asks:

Who hates women most? Pence, Trump, or Weinstein?

And there was some woman on the BBC this morning whose take on the whole thing was that misogyny is everywhere and needs to be rooted out, presumably to the benefit of women like her who, if her remarks were any guide, would be out of her intellectual depth sweeping floors in the local chippy.

As Stephen says, we’ve been here before, and sleaze in Hollywood is nothing new. There is a reason why actresses are the butt of crude jokes involving bishops and seen as one rung above prostitutes, and why no self-respecting father would let his young daughter anywhere near a film studio let alone the hotel room of a fat, greasy producer. You’ll note that books are filled with stories of women who ran away from home to seek fame and fortune in Hollywood, and didn’t let their parents know where they were going.

However, back then actresses were not pretending to be the conscience of the nation as they now are. Had an actress in a previous era attempted the sort of self-righteous posturing Meryl Streep engaged in at the last Oscars, the laughter of the men in the room would have been heard around the world. Actors like DiCaprio would have fared no better, either. One of the things Friends got spot on was portraying Joey Tribbiani as actors are: nice looking, good at speaking words someone else has written, but otherwise rather dim. The Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! made the same point as well.

But actors and actresses spouting political nonsense wouldn’t matter so much had the Democrats not wholeheartedly embraced them and taken their vacuous endorsements seriously. At times it looked as though Democrats with ambitions of high office were taking their leads from air-headed celebrities, seemingly star-struck in their company.

But even that wouldn’t matter so much had the Democrats not made women’s rights, sexual assaults, and misogyny a central issue on which to attack their political enemies. But they have, and now any criticism coming from liberals on the subject can be countered by simply saying “Here’s a pic of you and Weinstein, and you knew full well what he was like.” Sure, they will say that Trump and Pence and everyone else are just as bad, but all that does is put them on the same footing and liberals can’t fight from there. Without a moral high-ground to posture from, liberals can barely muster an argument.

Following Trump’s win, the Democrats have lurched even further towards the loony-left end of the political spectrum, with centrists (assuming there are any left) ceding the floor to nutters like Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Worse, Hillary simply won’t shut up and go away and nor will Obama, making it impossible for anyone sensible to rally the handful of sane Democrats left and mount a challenge for the 2020 election. Although it’s tempting to believe that all female Democrat voters are deranged lesbians or single women in Brooklyn who own a lot of cats, there are plenty of normal women who vote that way too. I’m sure a good portion of these will be appalled at the hypocrisy and enablement of sexual abuse that is on display here, and won’t be persuaded by the excuses and whataboutism pouring forth from those compromised. These women will have been put off voting for Trump because he’s a sexist pig, and that portion who don’t put politics above absolutely everything else will be pretty unhappy that their own party is behaving the same way or worse.

What the Democrats need is a proper house-cleaning that gets rid of the Clintons once and for all, puts the Obama era behind them and drags the party back into the realm of electability leaving Warren and her ilk ranting harmlessly from the sidelines. That means tackling some of the issues that drove people to vote for Trump – jobs, immigration, terrorism – but also getting shot of the lunatics that stop these issues being talked about. The Democrats will always need the media but they can be tempered; they don’t need batshit insane Hollywood celebrities with failed marriages, bad tattoos, and cocaine habits.

On this blog it was Bardon (who else?) who asked:

I think the question is why now, and why was it the NYT that took down this Godfather at the top of the power structure?

My guess would be that a faction in the Democrat party looking to move it towards the centre has decided to use Weinstein’s abuse of women to strip the Clinton and Obama factions of credibility, clearing the way for them to take charge. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the NYT has played their role, having been approached by this new faction well in advance of the interview that started the ball rolling. Let’s see if they run any articles calling for “reforms” or “pages to be turned” and “new eras to be embraced” by the Democrat party in the coming weeks and months.

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California’s HIV Laws

I think by now everyone knows Californians are batshit insane, but this still surprised me:

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday that lowers from a felony to a misdemeanor the crime of knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV without disclosing the infection.

“Today California took a major step toward treating HIV as a public health issue, instead of treating people living with HIV as criminals,” Wiener said in a statement. “HIV should be treated like all other serious infectious diseases, and that’s what SB 239 does.”

Supporters of the change said the current law requires an intent to transmit HIV to justify a felony, but others noted cases have been prosecuted where there was no physical contact, so there was an argument intent was lacking.

I think what makes HIV different is that it is one of a very few transmittable diseases which is absolutely incurable and results in the death of the recipient in every instance (yes, the anti-retroviral drugs prolong life almost indefinitely nowadays, but without these death is 100% certain; nobody has so far proved immune or recovered on their own).

HIV has been the only communicable disease for which exposure is a felony under California law. The current law, Wiener argued, may convince people not to be tested for HIV, because without a test they cannot be charged with a felony if they expose a partner to the infection.

This says something about the assumed morality of Californians: they would prefer to infect a partner with a deadly, incurable disease than risk being charged with a felony. And the idea that requiring carriers of this deadly, incurable disease to disclose their condition to partners is “treating them like criminals” is a rather interesting interpretation. Presumably the rights of Californians to not be infected with HIV by irresponsible, immoral partners are subordinate to the feelings of those carrying the disease.

The measure also applies to those who give blood without telling the blood bank that they are HIV-positive.

This is stupid, but probably not as serious as it sounds. I have been told that blood banks screen for HIV in batches, meaning people’s blood is combined and the whole lot tested. If it comes up positive they have to bin the whole batch, which would mean the clean blood mixed up in it is wasted. It’s unlikely HIV-infected blood will get through these days: while false positives are common in HIV testing, I understand false negatives are unheard of. Still, that this law is necessary shows there are people out there willing to give blood while knowingly infected with HIV who have a problem disclosing it.

California, eh?

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The NRA Responds

From the BBC:

The National Rifle Association has called for “additional regulations” on bump-stocks, a rapid fire device used by the Las Vegas massacre gunman.

The group said: “Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

Republicans have said they would consider banning the tool, despite years of resisting any gun control.

Lawmakers plan to hold hearings and consider a bill to outlaw the device.

The NRA called on Thursday for regulators to “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law”.

This is odd. Before the echoes of the shots had ceased ringing around the buildings that line the Las Vegas strip, reputable newspapers and reporters were confidently telling us the NRA would vociferously oppose any attempts to change existing gun legislation. Could it be they were talking shite?

The NRA’s strategy for responding to the Las Vegas mass-shooting is now coming into focus.

By recommending that an executive branch agency conduct a review of the legality of bump stock devices, the extremely influential gun rights lobby is seeking to direct efforts towards administrative, not legislative, solutions.

This is BBC speak for: the NRA is actually responding in a calm, mature, and responsible manner that we didn’t expect, so we now need to resort to semantics to downplay it as much as possible to avoid us looking foolish.

If Congress were to start drafting new laws, the process may be more difficult for the NRA to control.

The NRA has called for additional regulations. Apparently these are wildly different from new laws.

Democrats, who have been clamouring for the opportunity to debate new gun-control laws, could have their chance. Republican congressional leadership may try to clamp down on the proceedings, but there’s a chance other proposals -like limits on magazine capacity, military-style rifle features and new background check requirements – could come up for consideration.

Ah, so the NRA wants to regulate or ban the precise equipment used in the shootings, whereas the Democrats simply want to use the incident to ram through firearm restrictions which are wholly unrelated. Is that it?

These types of provisions are popular with the public at large but vigorously opposed by the NRA and their supporters in Congress.

As if the NRA is ten guys in a dingy backroom instead of a body representing 5 million members of that same public at large.

The White House and many congressional Republicans are pledging to have a “conversation” about the issue and “look into” the details. That, for the moment, is a far cry from action.

The NRA is now suggesting an alternative route.

There appears to be at least one adult in the room, and it isn’t the media.

In the same statement the NRA urged Congress to pass their longstanding pet proposal to expand gun rights nationwide, so-called right-to-carry reciprocity.

The lobby group wants gun-owners with concealed-carry permits from one state to be allowed to take their weapons into any other US state, even if it has stricter firearms limits.

I presume the gay lobby is fully supportive of this proposal? This is the argument they used prior to the SCOTUS ruling to get states where gay marriage was illegal to recognise their marriage from permissive states.

A bill to ban bump-stocks was submitted to the US Senate on Wednesday by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein.

I bet she’d never even heard the term before Monday, and I’d bet even more she couldn’t competently describe what one is or how it works at the time she submitted the bill.

One of the most popular manufacturers of bump-stocks, Slide Fire, said they had sold out “due to extreme high demands” since the Las Vegas shooting.

And that’s the problem in a nutshell. A running joke during the Obama years was that his portrait adorned the walls of gun shops beneath the words “Salesman of the Year”, meaning his continual threats to enforce stricter gun controls caused millions of Americans to go and buy more guns and especially ammunition. I read an account the other day of guys complaining they couldn’t buy their standard few dozen rounds of ammunition because all the stores had been cleaned out by people stockpiling. America is awash with guns and ammunition, and now it appears bump stocks also. These things are not biodegradable, and confiscating them will be nigh-on impossible. And even if these devices were all destroyed, somebody would come up with a legal work-around within days. That might be why the NRA is happy to see them regulated or banned: it won’t make any difference to its members.

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Jimmy Kimmel’s Crocodile Tears

A day or two after the massacre in Las Vegas, American talk show host Jimmy Kimmel went on stage with a passionate plea to “do something”. Political commentator Ben Shapiro took issue with this, and made a video dissecting Kimmel’s words. Below is Shapiro’s video which includes clips of Kimmel speaking. I’m not going to ask anyone to watch the whole thing unless they’re really interested, but please look at it between 1:10 and 2:30.

Shapiro says he believes Kimmel is sincere, but I think he’s being rather generous: to me it looks like bad acting, hamming it up for the camera.

Since I’ve been living in Paris there have been two gun-massacres: Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan Theatre. Both were shocking and induced a numb, almost surreal atmosphere in the place but neither reduced me to tears. Now Kimmel was raised in Las Vegas since the age of nine, but still, I don’t think news of a shooting in Pembroke would have me blubbering in the office. Now if Kimmel lost close friends and acquaintances in the attacks, I would understand. I’d also understand if he was there at the time: the trauma of being involved in these things can reduce ordinary people to a gibbering wreck. Now perhaps Kimmel listened to or read the accounts of the survivors just before walking on stage: they can be both harrowing and heartbreaking, even decades after an event, but even then I doubt they’d make him cry in the middle of doing his job.

That’s not to say men don’t get emotional. I lost my best friend last year and talking about him still brings me out in tears, that’s just the way it is. And I occasionally find myself choking up at a particularly moving scene from a film or book: the writers of the Toy Story sequels had an exceptional talent for this. A scene where Woody’s horse is told he can’t go with his master is emotional manipulation on a scale that ought to banned outright. My point is not that men don’t get emotional, it’s that men don’t get all teary over the murder of people they don’t know and didn’t witness. Women might, but then women cry over damned near anything. Men, when faced with news of a terrorist attack or mass murder, get angry not upset. They want to go out and exact a terrible revenge, not weep in public. Kimmel has gone on stage without deciding whether he wants to be upset or angry which suggests he’s neither, he just wants to score political points and virtue-signal.

Earlier this year Kimmel’s newborn son received life-saving medical treatment, which he used as the basis of his opposition to the Trump administration’s healthcare reforms:

During his opening monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday, host Jimmy Kimmel cried openly.

His eyes welled up first, as he described the recent birth of his weeks-old son. And then Kimmel struggled to speak, as he recounted how, within hours of Billy’s birth, a nurse noticed that he was purple and whisked him away for observation.

“Now more doctors and nurses and equipment come in, and it’s a terrifying thing,” Kimmel said, the emotion obvious in his voice. “My wife is back in the recovery room, she has no idea what’s going on, and I’m standing in a room full of worried-looking people—kind of like right now.” The team discovered Billy had a congenital heart defect. He was rushed into emergency surgery.

Now it is perfectly normal for a man to get emotional and cry when talking about the near-death of his newborn son. Whether it is appropriate to do so on national television in order to make a political point is less certain. I’d say no, frankly. That sort of stuff should be kept private unless specifically related to the subject at hand, and especially not wielded as a political club.

I reckon after the episode about his son, Kimmel thought it made him look better – more “passionate”, “vulnerable”, and “human” – and so he’s decided to make it his shtick. Now it might be popular among women and the legions of rather wet men that inhabit the modern west, but most men ought to be retching over the back of the sofa at this performance. I wanted to slap his silly face and tell him to pull himself together. Men don’t cry over this sort of thing, and if they do – well, God help us.

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The Strange World of Hotels

Several people have asked the question as to how the lunatic who carried out the massacre in Las Vegas was able to stockpile so many guns in his room without staff at the Mandalay Bay hotel noticing. Well, that’s an easy question to answer: hotel staff are conditioned not to see stuff.

Even the finest hotels can be the venues for quite dodgy goings-on. Consumers of amateur porn might have noticed that an awful lot of it takes place in hotel rooms (which must be nice for the next guest), and if Hollywood films are any guide so do most major drug deals. The splendid book Hotel Babylon, an inside view into life in a upscale London hotel, gives several examples of strange things which happen in hotel rooms with alarming regularity. The author explains that people often go to hotels to commit suicide: it saves the family having to find the body and clear up the mess afterwards.

When I worked in a fancy hotel in Manchester (there’s your contradiction in terms for the day) we used to share stories of what we’d seen during our shifts. A receptionist told us she’d checked in the same middle-aged couple regularly for a number of years when one day the man turned up with a new woman in tow. A mistress, perhaps? No, the new woman was his wife. One of the shift managers said he’d brought breakfast to a rather respectable middle-aged woman only to find her in bed with another, equally respectable-looking woman, who’d checked in separately into a different room. Neither batted an eyelid and, more importantly, nor did he. Hotel guests expect discretion from the staff, and they usually get it.

There are some countries that immediately cast suspicion on anyone staying in a hotel. You must show your passport in the UAE for example, and I was rather surprised to find that the Belgian police require hotels to collect a copy of the ID of each guest. Unless things have changed since I stayed in American hotels, there is no such requirement stateside. You can be sure the Mandalay Bay had every inch of the hotel monitored by camera – it is a casino after all – and had anyone banned from the gaming floor been found wandering around they’d have been ejected within minutes. But nobody is going to pay attention to a white bloke in his fifties going in and out with a lot of luggage (I’m going to assume he dismantled his guns and put them in a holdall or suitcase, and didn’t just stroll in through the front door with a heavy machine gun and a thousand rounds of link over his shoulder, even if the cretinous European media would believe you could do this and nobody would notice). That said, if anyone from housekeeping or room service entered his room and found weapons lying everywhere, they’d tell their manager straight away and they’d keep an eye on him. My guess is he hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door and left it there, and the staff paid him no attention.

That’s not to say hotel staff aren’t observant, though. Several years back I was on a business trip to Paris and stayed in the Sofitel in La Defense: this was in the days of $100+ oil, nowadays we’d be given a horse-blanket and told to cuddle up to a tramp beneath a railway bridge. Anyway, by coincidence a friend arrived in town from London on the same morning and we met up in the afternoon. In a moment of quite spectacular dimness she’d come to Paris to stay with a friend without actually telling them in advance; when she arrived and tried to call, their phone was switched off. As the afternoon wore on it became increasingly clear her friend was out of town and she had nowhere to stay. Generous chap that I am I let her stay in the Sofitel with me: the beds are the size of tennis courts and the room is set up for two anyway. The next morning we went down for breakfast and the female maître d’hôtel sat us in a corner. She was a tall, dark woman with a long pointed nose, perhaps half-Arabic and extremely efficient and professional. I’d seen her every time on my previous business trips, so she was long-term employed and I dare say she’s still there. Anyway, we had breakfast and my friend got her act together and went back to London.

The next morning, a Monday, I come down for breakfast and the maître d’ leads me to a particular spot. With a slight grin she says:

“Zere you go, sir. Ze same place as wiz madame yesterday.”

If the Las Vegas police want to know about the movements of this headcase in and out of their premises, they probably just need to find the equivalent of this woman. Every hotel has one.

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The Massacre in Las Vegas

In the wake of a gun massacre in the United States one thing is absolutely certain: sensible commentary is almost impossible to find, particularly in the mainstream media.

An exception is this excellent thread doing the rounds on Twitter:

It is worth clicking the link and reading the whole thing. Judging by the noise and the scale of the carnage, the lunatic in the hotel in Las Vegas was using a fully-automatic weapon of the sort that has been banned from being sold new since 1986. Yes, you can buy ones that pre-date the ban, but you’ll have to pay a lot of money and be subject to a rather thorough background check by the FBI. As I understand it, this is a federal law and is not affected by differing gun laws across the states.

It would have been nice if at least some of those now shooting their mouths off understood all this, wouldn’t it? The Independent had this to say:As if a man massacring people with what is almost certain to be an illegal weapon has anything to do with gun laws. I’ve written at length about gun control in the US here, and I haven’t got much more to add on the subject. It is going to be extremely interesting to see what weapons this monster used and where he got them, though.

The hatred of the NRA is also an interesting one. The sort of people who complain about them usually have no problem with the thousands of other lobby groups who conspire against the general public in order to benefit a sometimes very small number of people. And the one thing that can be said about the NRA is that it does represent a lot of people, around 5 million or so. Okay, that’s nothing as a percentage but it’s a lot in terms of raw numbers, and far more representative of a lot of special-interest groups that lobby politicians. Also, the amount it spends isn’t that much either:

In federal elections, the NRA typically ranks among heavyweight outside spending groups. For the second cycle in a row, it has earned a place in the top ten. But 2016 was a unique year for the organization, owing to the fact that many super PACs, like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads GPS, which spent roughly $115 million to elect Mitt Romney in 2012, declined to back Trump. The NRA stepped in to fill the void, putting at least $30.3 million on the line to help elect the real estate mogul, more than any other outside group — including the leading Trump super PAC, which spent $20.3 million.

So let’s call it $30m. Sure, that would pay off my Sakhalin bar bill but when we consider that Trump received $408m in campaign funds and Hillary $795m, it’s a bit of a stretch to say the NRA has America by the balls. I think what liberals really hate about the NRA is that it’s seemingly immune to the SJW infiltration that has seen pretty much every other large organisation descend into ever-more ludicrous levels of virtue-signalling and political correctness. The NRA has stubbornly stuck to its guns – literally – and represented its members interests faithfully as it was set up to do, and refused to bend to the latest emotionally-driven campaign orchestrated by people who would never belong to them anyway. No wonder they’re hated so much.

The other thing that annoys me is foreigners weighing in on how they don’t understand why anyone would want or need to own a gun. Well, I have no idea why anyone would want to go and pray in a mosque but quite a large number of people do. I’ve recently reached the conclusion that people who hail from places which differ from Pembroke politically, culturally, socially, geographically, ethnically, and historically might think differently from me and want different things. And so it is with Americans: they are different, and for whatever reason they like carrying and using guns. If Brits or anyone else can’t understand that, who cares? It’s not their cross to bear, frankly.

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