Amid the sexual abuse, how much consensual sex is there?

Yesterday someone wrote one of those lengthy threads on Twitter which made the point, over and over, that despite the dozens of celebrities spilling tales of sexual harassment in Hollywood, nobody is naming names other than Harvey Weinstein’s. Perhaps they are afraid of a libel charge, but I doubt it: could all those allegations against Weinstein be proved now? Unlikely.

Via Tim Worstall, I now see that Christie Turlington has come out and said the fashion industry is full of sexual predators who prey on vulnerable young wannabe models. Maybe next week Scott Quinnell will come out and say rugby clubs were full of large, boisterous males who liked drinking and singing, and we’ll be equally surprised.

I have no doubt that sexual harassment and abuse is rife in the film and fashion industries, but what is being overlooked is that consensual sex is also rife. If disgusting fat film producers can proposition women for a part, you can be sure a lot of women are putting out for parts – many of them doing so quite happily. My guess is nobody is naming names because it will blow the lid on just how much consensual sex goes on in Hollywood, and how much of it is directly related to actors and actresses getting parts in a film. The moral standing of the pompous, self-righteous arses who presume to lecture us plebs at award ceremonies is already shaky; imagine what it would be reduced to should full details emerge of who they shagged and when – and, as we’ll be able to work out for ourselves – why. The underlying assumption people make of those complaining about Weinstein is they rejected his advances – yet never had sex with anyone else in order to advance their careers. That’s probably a big assumption.

Here’s something for the feminists to consider: if you want to stop men abusing positions of power in order to have sex, you also need to stop women having consensual sex with powerful men to advance their careers. It’s a two-way street, and it’s no coincidence that sexual abuse is more prevalent in industries where both men and women are able to sleep their way up the greasy pole.

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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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On Harvey Weinstein

I have a feeling that this Harvey Weinstein story is going to be huge. It’s not that he was a sleazy Hollywood producer with a well-worn casting casting couch; that sort of stuff has been going on for ages. Nor is it that lots of people around him knew it was going on but covered it up; that too has been going on for ages. It’s more to do with who covered it up.

Since as far back as I can remember, Hollywood in general, and particularly famous actors and actresses, have been fully supportive of liberal, progressive politics and openly hostile to Republicans and conservatism. They worshipped at the feet of Barack Obama and went into meltdown over the election of Donald Trump. They have portrayed themselves as the moral arbiters of the nation, leading the way into a progressive new world by adopting every trendy cause going: Leonardo DiCaprio on global warming, Mark Ruffalo on fracking, Shia LeBeouf on anti-Trump, God knows how many actresses turning up in support of Planned Parenthood and other feminist-driven organisations. This culminated with Meryl Streep’s excruciating Oscar speech in which she positioned Hollywood celebrities like her as the shining beacons of hope in a country which would otherwise be nothing but ignorant white men watching football.

The Democrats, of course, have welcomed this unquestioning support for years, happy to hob-nob with Hollywood stars at swanky parties in New York and LA and receive millions in campaign donations along the way. Hollywood, Democrats, and liberal politics have become so intertwined it is almost impossible to separate the two. Also entangled in the whole lot is the media, which is largely the publicity arm of the Democratic party, and hence also firmly in bed with the Hollywood moguls. When Trump ran for president, everyone on the left – Democrats, the media, and Hollywood stars – lined up to condemn his misogyny and ill-treatment of women when the Access Hollywood tape (several years old) was mysteriously leaked at a crucial point in his campaign. This triggered the feminist-driven anti-Trump movement which after his election organised huge protest marches in support of women’s rights which they claimed were being eradicated under an administration which wasn’t even a week old. Several prominent Hollywood celebrities spoke at these highly-political marches, more attended, and the media gave them fawning coverage.

Now it appears that these same people have not only been close friends with a serial sexual predator, but they have been actively covering up his activities for years. The dyke was breached when Ashley Judd spoke to the New York Times about Weinstein’s behaviour towards her early in her career. Ironically, Judd subjected the masses to an unhinged political rant at the Washington Women’s March last January; one wonders why she chose to attack Trump – who she’s probably never met – than lodge a complaint about the man who actually abused her. I’ll get to the answer later.

Since then, the floodgates have opened. Several more prominent actresses have come forward with tales of abuse at the hands of Weinstein and with it dozens of pictures of actors, celebrities, and Democrat politicians cosying up to him while showering him with accolades. This would be less damaging were everyone in the dark as to what he was up to, but evidence is pouring in that his demands for sexual favours from young women was Hollywood’s worst kept secret. It was so widely known that Seth MacFarlane even joked about it at the 2013 Oscars, and everyone laughed.

It’s hardly surprising that few of these young women came forward to report him, and tempting though it is to point out that Judd only went to the papers once her career was over and her money earned, it is unfair. Yesterday an audio recording emerged of an encounter between actress/model Ambra Gutierrez and Weinstein. The conversation was recorded as part of an NYPD sting operation into Weinstein’s behaviour, and Gutierrez – who had been groped by Weinstein the day before – made the recording on their behalf. Weinstein admits on tape to inappropriate behaviour the day before, but the New York District Attorney – one Cyrus Vance Jr – decided to quash the case. If police recordings weren’t enough to bring about meaningful intervention into Weinstein’s behaviour, the mere word of a young woman wasn’t going to. As a measure of Weinstein’s clout, I read an anecdote on Twitter last week regarding an incident that took place at a very public event in New York. Some reporter had upset Weinstein and he grabbed him around the neck and basically threw him down some steps. Despite the dozens of photographers and cameramen around, not a single shot of the incident was published: nobody would dare.

Of course, covering up is one thing, actively defending the guy another. According to today’s Independent:

It’s been alleged by The Wrap founder Sharon Waxman that she investigated the accusations of sexual misconduct against Weinstein 13 years ago while reporting for The New York Times in 2004.

She claims this piece was cut from the paper due to both The Weinstein Company’s presence as an advertiser and alleged meddling by major Hollywood players including Matt Damon and Russell Crowe.

We also have this report from the New York Times which really doesn’t make Brad Pitt look too good after his then-girlfriend Gwyneth Paltrow was propositioned by Weinstein:

She refused his advances, she said, and confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. Mr. Pitt confronted Mr. Weinstein, and soon after, the producer warned her not to tell anyone else about his come-on. “I thought he was going to fire me,” she said.

So Pitt knew about Weinstein since the time of this incident, which would have been around 1994, and said nothing. However, skeptics might point out that Paltrow wasn’t so traumatised that she couldn’t work with Weinstein afterwards in her defining role in Shakespeare in Love. Also in the NYT piece comes news that Weinstein also made unwanted advances on Angelina Jolie.

Okay, here’s the thing: I can understand why a young, unknown actress might not speak up about Weinstein, but Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow? Why are they only coming public with it now? Jolie has been one of the most powerful people in Hollywood for years, and Paltrow has been famous enough to brush off Weinstein for at least as long. Why did they not speak up sooner? And while we’re on the subject, why  haven’t these right-on Hollywood men responded to the Guardian‘s request for a comment:

The Guardian contacted more than 20 male actors and directors who have worked with the movie mogul over the years, some of whom have projects with Weinstein. All declined to comment or did not respond to inquiries about the accusations that the producer sexually harassed women over a period of nearly three decades.

The list of industry figures thus far remaining silent includes a number of male directors, such as the Oscar-nominated Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, the Hateful Eight) and David O Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, Flirting With Disaster), who have both made numerous movies with Weinstein.

The liberal film-maker Michael Moore, currently working with Weinstein on a documentary about Donald Trump, also did not respond to a request for comment.

Here’s why. Firstly, nobody gives a shit about one another in these circles. Actors and actresses by nature are narcissistic, selfish assholes and would happily stab one another in the back to get ahead. Ditto Democrats and most of the media. That vicious, vindictive, nastiness that is ever-present among public figures who champion liberal politics – particularly celebrities – doesn’t simply disappear once they’re around friends. They don’t have any friends, just people they can use for now. I see Weinstein’s wife has just decided to leave him, as if she had no idea what he was like before. The directors of his company have fired him only because the public found out about his behaviour, not because they did. Paltrow and Jolie and all the other long-term, highly-protected A-listers are speaking out because as of this week it became the smart thing to do reputation and career-wise. Before that, they were happy to stay silent as women were abused and propositioned just as they had been when younger. So much for female solidarity.

The second reason is politics. For all the talk about Republican and right-wing misogyny, nine times out of ten any public figure caught abusing women in America will be a Democrat or one of their chief supporters. The notable exception is Donald Trump, but sharp-eyed observers will point out that he was a big pal of the Democrats throughout the entire period any bad behaviour was alleged to have taken place (and I wrote about his supposedly excusing sexual assault here). Only once he turned Republican did his misogyny become an issue. One thing this unfolding story about Weinstein will prove once and for all is that Democrats, liberals and their media lackeys will ignore, accept, and defend all manner of disgusting, sexually-abusive behaviour from men provided their politics conform with theirs. We could mention Roman Polanski, or Antony Weiner, or Bill Clinton; provided they are on the liberal, Democrat side of politics, anything is acceptable. But if you’re a Republican and you say you wouldn’t have dinner alone with a woman who wasn’t your wife, the liberal establishment goes into hysterics about misogyny and marches in protest, accusing you of “attacking women”.

I don’t know why Judd finally broke ranks and spoke to the NYT, but now the cat is out of the bag even his politics can’t save him (although some are trying, and others are rapidly backtracking). The liberal mouthpieces have now smelled blood in the water, a chance to take down an old, white guy, polish their third-wave feminist credentials, and push the narrative than women everywhere are subject daily to horrific sexual exploitation by male bosses. Presumably they think nobody will notice they covered it up for years purely because he helped their careers and espoused the right politics.

Commenter Phil B asked me yesterday why I continued to fisk the nonsense that Laurie Penny writes, and this is my answer. In yesterday’s post I commented on how she is happy to remain friends with somebody with a history of sexually assaulting women because she approves of his politics. In the post the day before I recalled how she allowed her rapist to get close to her because “he was a fun-loving, left-leaning chap who was friends with a number of strong, feminist women” she admired. Yet Laurie has decided that it is ordinary, decent, conservative men that are the problem – just as Hollywood celebrities, Democrats, and liberals say it is.

This Harvey Weinstein story is not just about Hollywood, it goes to the very heart of left-liberal politics from the top to the very bottom, and you can be sure he’s not the only one behaving like this. Other names will come out in due course, all with a similar history. This is why I think it will be too big to shove under the carpet.

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More awful advice from Oliver Kamm

I’ve written before about the terrible advice Times columnist Oliver Kamm dishes out on Twitter. Here’s another example:

To which his interlocutor says:

Now I have no idea whether use of the passive voice is a good idea or not, and couldn’t even define what the passive voice is. What I do know is that writing can be both good and bad, and styles vary depending on the format of the piece and the subject. Contracts, for example, ought to be written in a different style from a romance novel. Does the passive voice suit every format? I don’t know, but one would suppose the people involved in writing and reading scientific articles have some sort of basis for their preference other than pure grammatical snobbery.

Kamm dismisses it of course, and doesn’t actually respond to Mr Ludwick – as is his wont. However, someone else he asked does:

So whose advice does one take on how to write scientific articles? A Times columnist who probably wouldn’t understand three-quarters of the terms therein, or an editor of scientific articles?

That’s what I find so pompous about Kamm. He’s a good writer – but only in one or two particular formats. I’m certain he’s never written a scientific paper, yet here he is dispensing advice which would put anyone following it on the wrong side of their editor.  To my knowledge he’s never written a novel either, and I suspect if he tried it would contain leaden prose that would make Lloyds Law Reports read like a James Bond. Anyone with a modicum of self-awareness might think “Wait a minute, this guy is writing for a very different clientele than I am, and perhaps there are good reasons why they don’t like the passive voice,” but no, it’s an airy “they don’t know what they’re talking about and should be ignored”. Now I’d have thought writing as per your clients’ or readers’ stated preferences was quite important, but apparently not according to Kamm.

I think I know what’s happened here. Back in the mid-00s Kamm wrote some decent political and historical articles on his blog, written to a very high standard. He was quickly drafted into the Times despite having no experience in journalism, but if you consider his family connections it comes as no surprise how he pulled that off. Kamm was a loud proponent of Blair’s foreign policy, particularly the “ethical interventionism” used to justify the Iraq War, even writing a book called The Left-Wing Case for a Neo-Conservative Foreign Policy. One could see back then why a metropolitan paper might want to get him on board, but since then Blairism and the neo-con foreign policy has been utterly discredited. However, Kamm never repented, sticking to his guns in supporting Blair – which he does to this day. This probably gave his employer a bit of a headache: is there really a job for a columnist who drones on about how great Blair’s foreign policies were? Not really. But they couldn’t boot him because that’s not how things work, especially with his family connections. So instead he got shoved in a corner to write about grammar and writing styles. That’s how we get gems like this:

Basically, aspiring writers should ignore all advice except that dispensed by Oliver Kamm. Some humility wouldn’t go amiss, would it?

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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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Russia Throws US Election for Republicans by Backing Democrat Causes

This whole Trump-Russia collusion thing continues to fascinate. At this stage I’m approaching the conclusion that those pushing the line are spectacularly thick, rather than merely conniving. I can’t remember the details because this story has had so many twists and turns, but a couple of months ago the MSM was going full steam ahead on the meetings between Trump’s people and Putin’s mob, when all of a sudden the fingers started pointing towards individuals who were well-placed within the Democratic party. The media dropped the story like a hot stone, but it raised the question of who was driving this narrative. Surely the Democrats would have known that any investigation would implicate them, but they went ahead with it anyway.

Then last week we got news that “Russians” had placed adverts on Facebook during the presidential election, paying in the region of $50k-$100k for them. As Streetwise Professor points out, Hillary spent $400 million on adverts. And she still lost. Whatever the causes of her loss, a hundred grand on Facebook adverts wasn’t it.

But common sense is in short supply in the MSM, and they continued to peddle the story anyway. Only no-one stopped to ask “What were the adverts?” before leaping to the conclusion that they must have been pro-Trump, coming from Russia an’ all. But now we discover this:

A social media campaign calling itself “Blacktivist” and linked to the Russian government used both Facebook and Twitter in an apparent attempt to amplify racial tensions during the U.S. presidential election, two sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

Both Blacktivist accounts, each of which used the handle Blacktivists, regularly shared content intended to stoke outrage. “Black people should wake up as soon as possible,” one post on the Twitter account read. “Black families are divided and destroyed by mass incarceration and death of black men,” another read. The accounts also posted videos of police violence against African Americans.

The page also publicized at least seven rallies and demonstrations around the country in 2016. The events ranged from the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party to a march in Baltimore commemorating the death of Freddie Gray. In several cases, it appears that the events were real, and were organized by other groups, but that the Blacktivist account was working to increase turnout.

“We are fed up with police violence, racism, intolerance and injustice that passed down from generation to generation. We are fed up with government ignorance and the system failing black people,” the page’s description of the march for Freddie Gray read.

In short, these paid Russian trolls simply repeated the same stuff Black Lives Matter spreads around, amplifying one of the main causes of the Democrat base. Lest we forget, Barack Obama met with Black Lives Matter representatives at the White House.

Of course, Russians seeking to publicise and exaggerate the issue of racial tensions in the US is as old as the hills, and was a key staple of Soviet propaganda whenever the US questioned their own human rights abuses. But the point the media and their lackeys are missing is that these divisions which Russia is supposedly seeking to exploit were not created by them: they existed already, and if anything were made an order of magnitude larger by the White House’s previous occupant and his wife. The idea that Russia has unduly influenced American politics by spending a hundred grand on Twitter trolls and Facebook adverts and peddling the central message of Obama’s supporters is laughable.

The irony is that the Russian propaganda may have had some effect, but not in the way the Democrats and media think, and acknowledging its real effects would destroy their own narrative. They want us to believe that Russia paid for trolls to back Trump and criticise Hillary, and the electorate fell for it. What actually happened is Russia tried to exploit the existing chaos caused by Obama’s policies and his open support of outfits like Black Lives Matter, and did so by amplifying the divisions those policies encouraged if not created. When ordinary Americans saw what had happened to their country, they turned away from the candidate who sought to govern in the same manner.

As I said, a hundred grand and fake Twitter accounts wouldn’t have had any impact on the US election, but there is a delightful irony in the fact that if they did, it would have been by supporting and amplifying the causes that core Democrat voters hold dear. So did those pushing the narrative not think somebody would eventually find out what the adverts were for, or did they just trip over themselves to publish a story about Russian trolls throwing the election without bothering to find out? Whatever the case, I think we’re simply dealing with people who aren’t very bright. Perhaps that’s been Trump’s game all along, simply feed them enough rope to hang themselves. Where the MSM goes with the Russia collusion story now is anyone’s guess, but I’m wise enough by now to be certain they’ll not drop it. At this stage, what else do they have left?

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Facebook Politics

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.

I’m going to start unfriending people soon.

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Motes & Beams

Sorry, I know I promised, but this is just too easy.

Laurie Penny talking about Donald Trump, September 16th:

Two days later:

Calling Donald Trump a white supremacist as a matter of course is something to be encouraged. Applying wholly inaccurate labels to Laurie Penny is beyond the pale. And of course, this professional attention-seeker has a disorder to disclose on the internet. Is MHD something real, or one of those trendy middle-class disorders?

As for this:

Try being less abusive yourself, perhaps?

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Another Era

This is somewhat ironic:

The East German secret police went to extraordinary lengths to track down people who wrote letters to the BBC during the Cold War. One of those arrested and jailed was a teenager who longed to express himself freely – and paid a high price.

Today the BBC is the last place you’ll find people expressing themselves freely, and the employees these days would make the Stasi’s job a lot easier by dobbing him in at the first opportunity.

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