Bulgarians with knives found in forest, Trump to blame.

This article appeared in my Facebook feed, and is a good example of how not to do journalism:

NEAR MALKO TARNOVO, Bulgaria — Figures in camouflage and ski masks gather at a fishing lodge. Many are armed with long knives, bayonets and hatchets.

The 35 men and women are on the hunt in Strandzha Massif, a forested mountain range on Bulgaria’s border with Turkey. Migrants trying to cross into Europe are their prey.

Patches on their irregular uniforms — a coat of arms bearing a snarling wolf’s head framed by Cyrillic text — proclaim them to be members of the Bulgarian National Movement Shipka, abbreviated in Bulgarian as “BNO Shipka.”

Okay, I’m hooked. Sounds like a right nasty bunch. From here I expect to read about what they have done, what effect they’re having on the migrants in the area, perhaps even an interview with some of the migrants who have encountered these vigilantes. I’m sure there are some good stories to be had there. Has anyone been killed? Wounded? Forced to seek an alternative route into Europe?

Ah wait, I’m being awfully old fashioned, aren’t I? This is the real story:

Members of the paramilitary organization form into ranks as their leader, Vladimir Rusev, speaks. A former colonel who says he fought in Chechnya as a volunteer alongside Russians, Rusev declares his support for a man they admire: President Donald Trump.

“The CIA is trying to undermine Trump,” said Rusev, a compact 58-year-old with a neat mustache and short-cropped hair. “They want to destroy him. We offer our support to him.”

Trump’s hard-line stance on immigration and vocal criticism of Islam finds an appreciative audience here.

This was the journalist’s brief: go and find these nutjobs in the Bulgarian forest and see if you can get one of them to say something positive about Trump. Presumably had Hillary won, this whole situation wouldn’t be happening.

Most BNO Shipka members are friendly, courteous and open.

It’s funny how often this happens, isn’t it? Lefty journalist meets with supposed right-wing nutjobs and finds them rather agreeable. Didn’t Laurie Penny have one such revelation recently, and then found herself pilloried for “humanising” Trump supporters? Contrast the description of the BNO Shipka members above with those protesting on US campuses, for example.

“I’m not nationalistic or anything like that. I’m just a patriot,” said Nikolai Ivanov, a 34-year-old who was one of the group’s founding members in 2014.

“Many of these immigrants are not just some guys who are trying to run away from war. They are from age 17 to 35, with good physiques and training,” Ivanov added. “It’s not a problem that they are Muslims. The problem is it’s a different civilization. They don’t think like us, they have a totally different view about life, about everything.”

Why, it’s almost as if when politicians, the media, and other branches of the establishment refuse to allow discussions on such matters as immigration and Islam, vigilante groups form. But hey, let’s blame Trump.

Suicides in Canada

The BBC attempts to tackle the subject of young women committing suicide in Canada, and does so in typically garbled fashion. Let’s take a look.

Suicide amongst young women is on the rise. When it comes to mental health, is gender the elephant in the room?

That’s a good question. Let’s see how the BBC answers it.

Across the country, suicide amongst teen girls and young women is on the rise, while male suicide in the same age group declines, according to data released by Statistics Canada on Thursday.

Health experts have long been concerned with the prevalence of suicide amongst young men. It has been called a “silent epidemic” and for good reason. In 2013, men were three times as likely to kill themselves as women, the latest data shows.

But while men are still much more likely to kill themselves in Canada, young women are starting to catch up. Over the past decade, the suicide rate amongst girls has increased by 38%, while male suicide decreased by 34%.

So while men have been killing themselves at three times the rate of women for decades, it becomes a “gender elephant in the room” if the statistics start to converge slightly? Uh-huh.

The growth has helped level out the gender-gap, with women accounting for 42% of all suicide deaths under 20 in 2013. In 2003, they accounted for just over a quarter.

Hmmm. Some absolute numbers would be good here. Has the number of male suicides stayed the same, or dropped? And why cite data from 2013 in an article published in 2017. Updated suicide data can’t be that hard to get hold of. Some proper journalism would be nice.

A 2012 report by the Public Health Agency of Canada urged researchers to look at why suicide had declined in teen boys since the 1980s, but not in girls. With the government expected to earmark considerable funds for mental health in the next annual budget, due in mid-March, health experts are wondering if Canada needs to rethink the role of gender in suicide prevention.

If men are offing themselves, then fuck them and fuck the patriarchy. If the female suicide stats start to pick up a notch, then health experts suddenly become interested in the role of gender. Somebody wants to get their mitts on those funds, don’t they?

“It definitely warrants some really dedicated attention to why there has been such an increase, particularly when we are seeing children and youth dying by suicide,” says Renee Linklater, director of Aboriginal community engagement at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

Ms Linklater says she’s been concerned about growing suicide rates amongst young indigenous women for some time, and limited data suggests they are more vulnerable than non-indigenous girls. Data obtained by the BBC for 2015 shows that indigenous women are more likely to kill themselves than non-indigenous women.

Could that be cultural, do you think? Surely this is more worthy of further research than the role of gender?

Women made up more than half of all indigenous suicides in 2015, compared to the non-aboriginal population where women made up just one quarter of all suicides. Between 2006 and 2015, the number of female suicides climbed 1.5 times faster in indigenous women than it did for non-indigenous women.

So being an indigenous woman sucks big time and it’s getting worse. Is this more related to gender or culture or a combination of both? Either way, I think the BBC has got its headline wrong.

Ms Linklater says we should be paying more attention to this disparity, and the affects that gender and colonialism have on young indigenous women, whom she says experience “double oppression”.

Colonialism? That doesn’t explain the increase, does it? Or is the colonisation of Canada’s First Nation peoples proceeding apace and nobody told me?

Researchers in Canada and abroad are not sure why suicide is rising amongst young women. Some have suggested it could be because women are using deadlier methods. Others say it might be because coroners are reporting female suicide more.

Random bloggers in Paris suggest filling their heads with third-wave feminist garbage leaving them confused, conflicted, and depressed might have something to do with it.

In Canada, women make three to four times as many suicide attempts as men do. Studies indicate that there is a strong link between a history of sexual abuse and suicide attempts.

If this paragraph appeared a little earlier it would imply that indigenous girls are more frequently subject to sexual abuse. “Let’s not put that there,” said the BBC editor.

Yet gender is rarely discussed when we talk about youth suicide, says Ms Oockay, who works in suicide prevention in Woodstock.

That’s because it’s mainly been men who kill themselves, and who gives a fuck about them?

Arielle Sheftall, a researcher at the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the United States, says that more research is needed into the role that gender and age play in suicide prevalence.

“Research has shown that the age of puberty is getting younger, and the age of onset for psychiatric disorders especially depression, is highly correlated with the age of puberty,” says Ms Sheftall.

Women go through puberty earlier than men, yet is is men who are killing themselves at far higher rates. Still, let’s give Ms Sheftall some taxpayer funds anyway.

Another culprit might be sexism, research into suicide in developing countries suggests. Dr Suzanne Petroni, the senior director for gender, population and development at the International Center for Research on Women, believes that lack of opportunity and rigid gender roles may be to blame for the high rate of young female suicides in developing countries, like India.

Eh? Have gender roles become more or less rigid in places like India over the past few decades? My guess would be less so. In which case, women are more likely to kill themselves as traditional gender roles are relaxed. Would any feminist like to comment on that?

“Rampant sexism, harmful gender norms, perceptions of girls not being valued as anything other than a wife and a mother, very likely is contributing to mental-health problems and suicide,” she told the BBC.

Maybe, but what this has to do with ultra-liberal Canada is anyone’s guess.

These harmful stereotypes, or “visions of what they should be, but aren’t”, have only been amplified by the spread of social media around the globe, Dr Petroni says.

It’s not every day you hear a “senior director for gender, population and development at the International Center for Research on Women” parroting the lines of ultra-conservatives regarding the dangers of exposing “traditional” women to the depravities of the West.

Although Woodstock is far from the developing world, this explanation rings true to Ms Ookcay, who teaches suicide prevention.

“Our youth live in a world that the pressure and stress is way different than it ever has been. I see high levels of perfectionism and the need to be on it all the time, and be the best at everything you do,” she told the BBC.

So Millenials in Ontario are just as oppressed as peasant women in Burkina Faso, only differently. Right.

Quota Met

Today’s BBC anti-Trump front page quota is met by this story:

The father of a US Navy Seal killed in a raid on a suspected al-Qaeda compound in Yemen last month has said that he refused to meet US President Donald Trump when his son’s body arrived home.

“I’m sorry, I don’t want to see him,” he said he told a chaplain at the time.

The raid on 28 January was the first such operation authorised by Mr Trump.

Bill Owens, whose son William “Ryan” Owens was killed, told the Miami Herald that “the government owes my son an investigation”.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why?” he said in an interview with the newspaper published on Sunday.

“For two years prior, there were no boots on the ground in Yemen – everything was missiles and drones – because there was not a target worth one American life. Now, all of a sudden we had to make this grand display?”

A father who has recently lost a son in a military operation has every right to grieve and to be angry. Such a reaction is expected and one can’t blame him for the words he’s chosen, and I hope he finds comfort somehow. That doesn’t mean that he is right, though. This article is a good demonstration of why quoting people who are in states of high-emotion is neither informative or good journalism.

It is a certainty that the raid in question would have been planned before Trump’s inauguration, including an assessment of the risks versus its benefits. This would have been done (one would hope) in a manner which is independent of who sits in the White House or politics in general. Yes, Trump authorised the raid – as Commander-in-Chief he has to – but this was about as much as he’d have had to do with it. Trump cannot be expected to second-guess the military planners on issues like this so soon into his tenure, and if he would have done so he would (rightly) have been accused of interfering in things he didn’t yet understand. It is perfectly normal that things like military operations are carried out with the expectation of continuity between different administrations, and that was surely the case here.

The rights and wrongs of this raid, and the reasons why the US is carrying out such operations in Yemen, are important and worthy of investigation, but the failings associated with it cannot be pinned on Trump. But this being the mainstream media, such an opportunity to bash Trump can’t be passed up. The SEAL’s father seems to be convinced that Trump changed policy in order to make a “grand display” and this got his son killed. This is demonstrable bollocks, but as I said we can forgive him for pretty much anything right now. The behaviour of the media in exploiting him in this way is less forgiveable.

And of course:

The raid – approved by President Trump just six days after he took office – is believed to have killed several civilians, including children.

The BBC just had to make sure the words “approved by President Trump” appeared in a sentence about the killing of children. And they wonder why Trump’s administration is excluding them from briefings.

Bubble Spotted

Every so often the mainstream media run a story which inadvertently reveals the yawning chasm between them and the rest of us. Usually it takes the form of a situation which the Establishment Classes in the media think is appalling but comes across quite differently to those people forced to live in the real world.

Take this BBC article for example:

Mexico has condemned new guidelines issued by the United States, under which almost all illegal immigrants can be subject to deportation.

The new rules include sending undocumented people to Mexico, even if they are not Mexicans.

Okay, fair enough. This is questionable and worth reporting on. But this:

The Obama government focussed on deporting immigrants convicted of serious crimes.

Now, the new priorities are broad enough to apply to almost any illegal immigrant, including anyone who has been charged with a crime, misrepresented themselves, poses a risk to public safety, or “abused any programme related to receipt of public benefits”.

Note how the BBC attempts to portray this as some sort of hardline policy brought in by Trump in contrast to the caring, gentle approach of that nice man Obama. Only pretty much every ordinary person who has a functioning brain would look at these “new priorities” and think “It’s about f*cking time! What the hell were we doing up ’til now?!” Whole swathes of the country will be wondering why they’re not deporting illegal immigrants who haven’t committed a crime on the basis that they have entered the country illegally. Trying to provoke outrage over a policy that would see illegal immigrants deported if they scam the benefits system or commit a crime is one of those things which can only seem sensible in a left-liberal bubble.

Right beside that article is another:

Donald Trump’s government has revoked guidance to US public schools that allowed transgender students to use toilets matching their gender identity.

The guidance, issued by his predecessor Barack Obama, had been hailed by as a victory for transgender rights.

Last May, Mr Obama’s justice and education departments instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom corresponded to their gender identity.

I think people will look back and use this transgender bathroom issue as an example of what happens when the Establishment Classes get too detached from those who they govern. I suspect most people of my generation and younger are more or less fully accepting of gays, something that probably couldn’t have been said a few decades ago. Even those who opposed the SCOTUS gay marriage decision for various reasons probably shrugged their shoulders, muttered something about the world going to the dogs, and accepted that most of the population isn’t bothered by it. The SJWs then seized on this “victory” and decided that the general public either would be or should be as accepting as transgender people up to and including them being able to decide which gender they are on any given morning. Somehow they then persuaded the Federal Government to enshrine this in law via the back door, when almost the entire country was thinking “Now hang on a minute…”

The ZMan had a post up yesterday that explains this disparity between the Establishment Classes and everyone else:

Now, it is possible that Progressivism is on its death bed. Unlike Europe, the American Left has never been about economic equality. It was always about spiritual equality. The radicals on the Continent were always obsessed with busting up the class structure. The radicals in American have always been focused on saving the immortal soul of the nation. Economic equality was never anything more than a a political tool for the reformers to use as a way to get control of the culture in order to impose their moral vision on the nation.

In order for this to work, the Left has always needed victims and oppressors, saints and sinners. In the 20th century, they could champion black civil rights and women’s issues. Then it was onto gays and now foreigners. The trouble is, they are running out of victims to champion. Black guys getting pushed around by rednecks at the polling booth make for sympathetic victims. Mentally unstable men in sundresses wanting access to the girl’s toilet are not good victims. They are ridiculous and championing them makes the champions look ridiculous.

There are several reasons why Hillary lost and Trump won, and that is one of them.

Idiots Reporting On Idiots

Okay, we all know that Amnesty International got captured by the militant left years ago and went from a group fighting for the release of prisoners of conscience to a run-of-the-mill political lobby group masquerading as a charity. Anyone who took them seriously after their general secretary said the US prison at Guantanamo Bay was “the gulag of our times” in 2005 is an idiot. Naturally, this means those at the BBC take them seriously, hence an Amnesty report singling out Trump for special criticism is front page news:

Politicians who have used a divisive and dehumanised rhetoric are creating a more divided and dangerous world, says rights group Amnesty International.

Its annual report singles out President Donald Trump as an example of an “angrier and more divisive politics”.

There’s a spectacularly odd notion out there that Donald Trump is a divisive President, implying he approached a unified country and split it in two via “dehumanised” rhetoric. Hopefully there is at least someone out there besides me who thinks Trump’s success was born of the fact that America was already deeply divided long before he threw his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination.

But it criticises other leaders, including those of Turkey, Hungary and the Philippines, who it says have used narratives of fear, blame and division.

It would be easier to list those politicians who don’t employ such narratives. Or are we to believe that the vitriol being poured onto those Brits who voted to leave the EU by the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker and the anti-English bile spewed by Nicola Sturgeon is somehow different?

The group also says governments are exploiting refugees for political ends.

By importing them by the million as voting-fodder and (laughably) to shore up collapsing government finances?

The report, which covers 159 countries, cited a rise in hate speech across the US and Europe targeting refugees and said the reverberations would see more attacks on people on the basis of race, gender, nationality and religion.

Alas, the Amnesty Report doesn’t say what they mean by “hate speech”. What’s the betting their definition includes a mere questioning of the merits of unfettered immigration?

“Instead of fighting for people’s rights, too many leaders have adopted a dehumanizing agenda for political expediency,” Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“The limits of what is acceptable have shifted. Politicians are shamelessly and actively legitimizing all sorts of hateful rhetoric and policies based on people’s identity: misogyny, racism and homophobia.”

Yes, identity politics is an awful thing, isn’t it? Causes all sorts of rifts and divisions. Just the sort of divisions a man like Trump could come in and exploit, actually. Only he didn’t create them, did he?

The group made special reference to Mr Trump’s executive order last month that banned refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the US.

It said Mr Trump put “his hateful xenophobic pre-election rhetoric” into action by signing the measure.

Whereas Obama’s decision to end the policy of America accepting Cuban refugees doesn’t warrant a mention. Here’s what the report does say about Obama and Cuba (page 25):

Notable events during 2016 included US President Barack Obama’s historic state visit to Cuba, which put the two countries’ human rights challenges – including the ill-treatment of migrants in the USA, the impact of the US embargo on Cuba’s human rights situation, and the lack of freedom of expression and the repression of activists in Cuba – in the international spotlight

It does also say this, though (page 12):

[Trump’s] predecessor, President Barack Obama, leaves a legacy that includes many grievous failures to uphold human rights, not least the expansion of the CIA’s secretive campaign of drone strikes and the development of a gargantuan mass surveillance machine as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Not that the BBC included this snippet in their article. For reasons of space, presumably.

The Overgaming of Milo Yiannopolous

Back in the days when he was writing about “game” – the art of male seduction of females – Roissy over at Château Heartiste mentioned something called “overgaming”:

Overgaming is usually poison to a pickup when the girl is very high value. Hot chicks experience the pleasures of smooth alpha operators more frequently than do lesser girls. Your clever retorts and masculine lack of punctuation are nothing new to the hot chick. She will enjoy it and place it in her mental pile with the rest of the suave suitors. You need to bring something more to the table, and that something is *escalation*. Escalation is what separates the men from the dilettantes.

Girls want to be played, but they don’t want to be sloppily overplayed like a marionette. She will balk if she thinks you have assured yourself she is an easy mark, and her ego will reassert itself, even at the expense of losing a mating opportunity with a higher value male.

Overgaming kills attainability, and male attainability is a necessary (but not sufficient) precondition for female surrender. Sharing a self-effacing story designed to humanize you will establish your attainability, and draw her closer to you.

Roughly, “game” in this context is the process of gaining a girl’s attention and getting her interested in you sexually. This is achieved by adopting certain mannerisms, vocabulary, body language, and other attributes designed to make you stand out from the crowd and win her affections. In the early stages of flirtation this normally involves being cocky, aloof, and a bit of an asshole (which, even if you don’t buy into the whole “game” theory, is undoubtedly better than being a complete drip who can’t look her in the eye). But what a lot of wannabe pick-up artists miss is that “game” is a means to an end, not an end in itself. The end is to get laid, preferably more than once. “Game” is merely the means with which to get there.

That is what Roissy means by “escalation” in the first paragraph: at some point, when you have secured her interest and are holding her attention, you must move beyond the witty banter and flirtations towards meeting them in person or initiating physical contact. Roissy’s post highlights the fact that some people don’t know how to stop “gaming” when its usefulness has (at that point) been exhausted. What they need to do is dial back the “game” a notch and start being normal and nice for a bit.

I was reminded of the concept of “overgaming” this morning when I read that Milo Yiannopolous has had his much-hyped book deal cancelled by his publisher Simon & Schuster. Milo burst onto the scene a year or two ago with the aim of garnering as much publicity as possible with his flamboyantly gay style and outspoken opinions. His notoriety has gone from strength to strength as Twitter first unverified him and then kicked him off completely before he embarked on his Dangerous Faggot tour of the US which culminated in riots outside UC Berkley last month which were reminiscent of the Vietnam War protests.

Whereas it is hard to deny that Milo hasn’t been extraordinarily successful in promoting himself (hence landing that $250k book deal in the first place), I did wonder at the time of the Berkely riots where all this was heading. Garnering fame and notoriety is good in the early stages of a career when you want everyone to know who you are, but what is the end game here? When you have the BBC running front page articles on you and coverage of the riots protesting your talks are making headline news, it is fair to say the “game” side of your campaign is done. But what comes next?

I know what Milo’s goals are: he wants to destroy political correctness, restore the principles of free speech, and make SJWs cry. All laudable aims, and I understand he used inflammatory language and controversial behaviour to get people to listen to him, but once he had the world’s attention it was time to take it down a notch and start portraying himself as a serious, mature individual who beneath the act is really worth listening to. Instead he stuck with the jokes about sucking black dicks, “feminism is cancer” remarks, calling Trump “Daddy”, and others, all of which were crucial parts of his early “game” of getting attention but made him look as though he was never going to be serious about anything and was purely a professional attention-seeker. As Ben Shapiro said:

“Being a provocateur just for the sake of being a provocateur is worthless.”

I don’t think Milo is only an attention-seeker, I do genuinely believe he is trying to do some good out there. But he got caught up in his own hype, and started to resemble those that he was attacking: he was fond of issuing writs against publications that called him a white supremacist or a Nazi, which was somewhat at odds with his stated belief that freedom of speech should be absolute; and he was increasingly playing the victim and complaining he was being treated unfairly and called nasty things, when he’d spent his entire career to date telling SJWs to suck it up because feelings don’t matter. In doing so I think he started to alienate some of his natural supporters. The “feminism is cancer” thing never sat well with me: there are better ways to oppose feminist stupidity than implying cancer is preferable, and it is inevitable that this would not go down well with those of us who have lost close friends and relatives to the disease. But this could possibly be overlooked given he needed to say outrageous things in order to get noticed, which I presume is why he saw fit to give an interview last year in which he implied that some 13 year old boys might be able to consent to having sex with adults:

Another man says: “The whole consent thing for me. It’s not this black and white thing that people try to paint it. Are there some 13-year-olds out there capable of giving informed consent to have sex with an adult, probably…”

The man says, “The reason these age of consent laws exist is because we have to set some kind of a barometer here, we’ve got to pick some kind of an age…

Milo:You know, people are messy and complex. In the homosexual world particularly. Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents. Some of those relationships are the most -”

It sounds like Catholic priest molestation to me, another man says, interrupting Milo.

Milo: “And you know what, I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”

The surfacing of this interview, and the outrage it is causing even among his supporters, is looking as though it will finish Milo off (at least for now). He is backpeddling furiously, issuing clarifications left and right, and is scheduled to hold a press conference in New York this afternoon. None of this will help. The actual topic under discussion isn’t that bad: it is perfectly legitimate to acknowledge that the age of sexual consent is arbitrary and some individuals might find themselves on the wrong side of that line. And what Milo says in the second paragraph might well be true, but just because something is true it doesn’t mean that it should be endorsed. He would have been better off just stating that this happens and leaving it at that.

But that wouldn’t be Milo, would it? He just had to go and say that final paragraph, which puts a completely different slant on things by making it look as though he is endorsing the sexual abuse of minors. The whole discussion is on the edge to begin with, which is fine. But by stepping over that line with that sentence, Milo alienates the tens of thousands of men and women who believe in free speech and hate feminism in its modern form but really, really don’t want their 13 and 14 year old sons – gay or straight – to fall into the clutches of an older male authority figure who “helps them discover who they are” and “provides them with love” which takes the form of oral sex.

I’m assuming this video didn’t get much attention at the time because not many people saw it, but now the MSM has dug it up it is impossible to ignore. Simon & Schuster, who stood by Milo through all his latest controversies, have finally pulled the plug as they don’t want their brand to be tarnished with this sort of stuff. It is a colossal tactical error, and Milo ought to have known better.

There was a time not so long ago when Milo would appear at campus talks with serious social commentators like Christina Hoff Sommers. She no longer shares a platform with him. When he first entered Twitter he benchmarked himself against Ben Shapiro and even briefly enjoyed more followers than him, but Shapiro – who also gets banned from campuses and has protesters shouting him down – portrayed himself seriously with the odd clownish moment, and now seems to have carved out a career for himself. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ran for office in some capacity in the future.

With Milo, it was difficult to see what he actually wanted to do with his success and had he some idea he might have conducted his interviews with a bit more care. It was serious tactical error to say those words, but the error came from having no clear strategy. It was all “game” and he didn’t know when to stop.

Accuracy in the Daily Mail

According to the Daily Mail:

The Royal Navy has banned posters of glamour models so as not to offend women sailors.

New rules have been brought in after women complained of feeling intimidated by the soft porn.

Sailors can no longer pin up nude pictures of their wives and girlfriends on board surface ships, submarines and at shore bases.

Did sailors actually do this? Put up nude pictures of their wives and girlfriends? Sure, they’d put up nude pics of women, e.g. glamour models. And they’d put up pics of their wives and girlfriends. But nude pics of their wives and girlfriends? I doubt it.

Flynn’s Sacking Explained Simply

Having read people’s reactions on social media to Trump’s press conference yesterday, it is amazing how few understand what Trump said regarding Mike Flynn:

No, I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence. Very simple. Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So, it certainly would have been OK with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it.

Ben Shapiro’s response was not untypical:

I suspect so many commentators are struggling with this because so few of them have worked in a business environment before. Shapiro is a lawyer/writer/public speaker. The relationship he has enjoyed with his superiors in these professions, insofar as he has any, will be a lot different from the manager-employee relationship most ordinary people experience in the corporate world, especially towards the top when things get a lot more cut-throat.

For me, it is completely plausible that somebody could be doing his job as instructed but, for reasons unknown only to himself, decides to mislead his manager regarding some aspect of it which results in the manager making an arse of himself. In fact, I can’t believe there is anyone who has worked for more than a few years in a modern corporation that hasn’t seen this scenario crop up at least once.

An example. An Engineering Manager asks his Piping Designer if he has finished those drawings. The Designer says “Yes, they are done.” The Engineering Manager calls the Construction Manager and says “Yup, they’re done. We’ll send them to you first thing in the morning.” The next morning the Engineering Manager asks the Designer for the drawings. Turns out they are not completed after all, they’re only at 90% and they need another day’s work. For whatever reason, the Designer lied. The Engineering Manager now has to call the Construction Manager, who has a welder on standby ready to start fabricating, and tell him they drawings are not ready after all. The Engineering Manager looks like a dick who can’t run a department properly, and the Designer is going to get bawled at as an absolute minimum. He might even get fired. But that doesn’t mean that the Designer was doing something he wasn’t supposed to, far from it: he was doing his job just fine, even if the drawings weren’t ready it would have been no big deal. But he lied to his manager and put him in a very bad position. In any organisation, this is unacceptable.

The fact that most of our media commentators, even smart ones like Ben Shapiro, don’t understand this speaks volumes about how little real-world experience that sector has between them.

Not the News but the Narrative

It wouldn’t be a day at the BBC without a front page article bashing Trump, would it? Their latest effort is entitled Will Trump’s Russia crisis be bigger than Watergate?

The answer, of course, is no. If you follow the link you find not a story about Trump’s alleged “crisis” but a story about former news anchor Dan Rather speculating with a desperate hopefulness that Flynn’s resignation is similar to Watergate.

Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather has compared the controversy over links between members of President Donald Trump’s team and Russia to the Watergate scandal.

This is what the British Broadcasting Corporation considers front page news.

Rather, who was for decades one of the best known and most trusted figures in US journalism, said in a Facebook post: “Watergate is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime, until maybe now.”

What the BBC doesn’t tell us is that this “most trusted figure” saw his career come to an abrupt end when he was fired by CBS for pushing a false story about George W. Bush’s service record which was based on forged documents.

The post has been shared more than 88,000 times and has generated nearly 200,000 reactions.

Rather also promoted his post on Twitter, generating more than 13,000 retweets and 22,000 likes.

Because volume of shares and likes on Facebook and Twitter is an excellent basis for promoting news to the front page.

This is not a political story at all: it is a non-story regarding the reaction on social media to speculative comments made by a former news anchor with a history of false reporting. But hey, let’s run it anyway because The Narrative.

Trump and Russia

The BBC is showing no signs of letting up on its anti-Trump propaganda campaign, perhaps believing that if enough middle class Brits get upset he will resign or something.

Today the topic of choice is Trump’s alleged links to Russia:

Throughout the confusion of Donald Trump’s campaign and the chaotic events of his early days in the White House, one controversy has clung to the Trump train like glue: Russia.

Except this isn’t quite true, is it? Russia only became the albatross of choice with which to hang around Trump’s neck when all others were laughed off: misogyny, racism, fake news, etc.

The sudden departure of Michael Flynn from his role as national security adviser on Monday was the latest in a string of controversies tying the administration to apparent Russian interests.

More accurately, it is possibly the one genuine story in a whole string of non-stories which the media has been peddling for all it’s worth since election day.

Mr Flynn resigned after misleading the president, and Vice-President Mike Pence, over whether he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador in the weeks before Mr Trump took office – which would violate a law that prohibits private citizens from conducting diplomacy.

So Trump is maintaining discipline within the ranks. Why this merits front-page news at the BBC is anyone’s guess.

It was back in May 2016 that the first reports emerged of hackers targeting the Democratic Party. Over the next two months, the reports suggested US intelligence agencies had traced the breaches back to Russian hackers.

This was less of a hack than lapse security by dimwitted Democrats, and there was never any evidence provided that Russians were responsible nor that they specifically targetted the Democratic Party. But leaving all that aside: what has this got to do with Trump?!

In July, on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, Wikileaks published 20,000 internal emails stolen by the hackers. US intelligence officials said they believed with “high confidence” that Russia was behind the operation, but the Trump campaign publicly refused the accept the findings.

Most of the world publicly refused to accept the findings of US intelligence officials over WMDs in Iraq.  Does this mean they were in cahoots with Saddam Hussein?

Instead, at a press conference, Mr Trump caused outrage by inviting Russian hackers to target Hillary Clinton’s controversial personal email server, saying: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing”.

Erm, no. Hillary’s server had been compromised years before that remark. Trump was assuming the Russians, along with everyone else except seemingly Hillary and the FBI, already had the emails taken from the now-destroyed server. The outrage, insofar as there was any, was whipped up by Hillary’s supporters who didn’t like the subject rearing its head during her ill-fated campaign.

About the same time the hacking scandal was beginning to unfold, Mr Trump’s then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was accused of accepting millions of dollars in cash for representing Russian interests in the Ukraine and US, including dealings with an oligarch with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

I have no idea whether Manafort actually did receive millions of dollars from people representing foreign interests, but we all know Hillary did via the Clinton Foundation. Why are unproven allegations of dodgy dealings by a campaign manager seen as worse than actual corruption by a serving Secretary of State?

While Mr Manafort was running the campaign, the Republican Party changed the language in its manifesto regarding the conflict in Ukraine, removing anti-Russian sentiment, allegedly at the behest of two Trump campaign representatives.

So Trump’s campaign disagreed with mainstream Republicans on Russia and Ukraine. Along with pretty much everything else.

Mr Manafort was investigated by the FBI and quit as Mr Trump’s campaign chairman. Like Mr Flynn, Mr Manafort, a political operative with more than 40 years’ experience, was supposed to marshal some of the chaos and controversy around Mr Trump, but ended up falling prey to it.

Yet Trump still won and Hillary lost.

In October, the US intelligence community released a unanimous statement formally accusing Russia of being the perpetrator behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

It would have been better if they’d released evidence. But again, what’s this got to do with Trump?

Mr Trump continued to argue against the finding, claiming in a presidential debate that it “could be Russia, but it could also be China, it could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds”.

Which happens to be true: the DNC security was so poor that John Podesta’s emails were hacked via a simple phishing operation.

The same day that the intelligence agencies released their finding, the explosive “Access Hollywood” recording emerged of Mr Trump’s obscene remarks about women in 2005. An hour later, Wikileaks began dumping thousands more leaked Clinton emails.

What the hell has Trump’s remarks about pussy-grabbing got to do with Russia?

Mr Trump continued to refuse to acknowledge the consensus that Russia was behind the hack.

Would that be “consensus” in the global warming sense?

In December, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security published a report of the US intelligence findings linking Russia to the hack.

Which, if memory serves, relied heavily on a Wikipedia article.

In response, President Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats and levied new sanctions on Russia. The world awaited Mr Putin’s response but he chose not retaliate. Mr Trump, by then the president-elect, sided with the Russian president, tweeting: “Great move on delay (by V. Putin) – I always knew he was very smart!”

So Trump thinks Putin, who showed admirable restraint in the face of pure petulance by the outgoing Obama, did the right thing by not retaliating and doesn’t think Putin is stupid. Is this supposed to be controversial?

Mr Putin’s decision not to respond in kind struck many as a canny PR move, but reportedly set off suspicions among US intelligence officials that Russia was confident the sanctions would not last.

Or that he might finally get to deal with an adult in the White House in a few weeks.

The same month, Mr Trump picked Rex Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state, arguably the most important job in the cabinet. The biggest hurdle for Mr Tillerson’s confirmation? Close ties to Mr Putin.

As CEO of the ExxonMobil oil company, Mr Tillerson cultivated a close personal relationship with the Russian leader, leading many to speculate on whether he was fit to serve as America’s most senior foreign diplomat.

There’s a lot of speculation in this piece, isn’t there? One would have thought with this spaghetti-like network of ties between Trump and Putin somebody would have been able to produce some evidence of one by now.

In January, Buzzfeed published a dossier compiled by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence official and Russia expert, which alleged that Moscow had compromising material on the then-president-elect, making him liable to blackmail.

Among the various memos in the dossier was an allegation that Mr Trump had been recorded by Russian security services consorting with prostitutes at a Moscow hotel.

Mr Trump dismissed the claims as fake news.

You mean the BBC thinks it is real?!!

CNN revealed that President Obama and President-elect Trump had been briefed on the existence of the dossier by intelligence officials, and Buzzfeed went one further, publishing the entire thing.

The document went off like a hand grenade tossed into the already febrile political scene and generated a backlash against Buzzfeed for publishing what were essentially unverified claims.

Which the BBC is nevertherless happy to include in an article on Trump’s supposed Russian connections.

In February, the most concrete and damaging Russia scandal finally surfaced, months after suspicions were raised among intelligence officials.

A Washington Post report said Mr Flynn had discussed the potential lifting of Mr Obama’s Russia sanctions with the Russian ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, before Mr Trump took office.

Mr Flynn, who had appeared regularly on Russian propaganda channel RT and once attended dinner with Mr Putin, resigned as Mr Trump’s national security adviser, saying he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador” late last year.

It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy.

It’s also illegal for the United State security services to conduct surveillance on a private citizen without a warrant.  See Streetwise Professor for more details on that. But either way, this looks more like a matter of internal discipline of the Trump administration than proof that Trump is a Russian puppet.

Mr Trump has made no secret of his regard for Mr Putin and his desire to establish closer ties with Russia. But the more pressing question, and one which the president just can’t seem to shake, is just how close those ties already go.

On the basis of what’s in this article, not very far at all.

Look, if Trump had a tower with his name on in Moscow or a casino in Vladivostok then one could raise legitimate questions over his connections to Putin. But he doesn’t, and nothing I have seen suggests Trump ever had any business or other interests in Russia aside from him having a quick look-see back in the 1990s or early ’00s and deciding, quite sensibly, that it wasn’t worth the hassle. Has Trump actually ever been to Russia in person? Has he met Putin? I’ve not seen any evidence he’s done either, and if it existed surely we’d have seen it by now. This whole obsession with Russia is nothing more than the latest in a line of pathetic attempts to cast doubts on the legitimacy of Trump’s Presidency and shore up the narrative that he is not acting in the interests of America. The media, including the BBC, needs to put up or shut up.