Chief Correspondent

The New York Times is advertising for a Nairobi Bureau Chief:

Our Nairobi bureau chief has a tremendous opportunity to dive into news and enterprise across a wide range of countries, from the deserts of Sudan and the pirate seas of the Horn of Africa, down through the forests of Congo and the shores of Tanzania. It is an enormous patch of vibrant, intense and strategically important territory with many vital story lines, including terrorism, the scramble for resources, the global contest with China and the constant push-and-pull of democracy versus authoritarianism.

The ideal candidate should enjoy jumping on news, be willing to cover conflict, and also be drawn to investigative stories. There is also the chance to delight our readers with unexpected stories of hope and the changing rhythms of life in a rapidly evolving region.

The NYT puts itself out there as the journal of choice for American progressives, yet its view of Africa seems to be based on an encyclopedia printed in 1910 combined with the Instagram postings of some teenage airhead deployed with the Peace Corps. Unsurprisingly, Africans on social media aren’t too impressed and through them I found this rather amusing article: How to write about Africa.



The Independent, perhaps forgetting it’s supposed to report news, runs an advertorial on behalf of Michelle Obama, the feminist icon who would be completely unknown were it not for her husband holding high office.

The former first lady juxtaposed the Donald Trump administration to Barack Obama’s presidency during a wide-ranging interview on Sunday to promote her autobiography Becoming in London, venting her frustrations at the president’s decision to radically overhaul her husband’s legacy.

There was a time when former presidents – and by implication, their wives – refrained from criticising their successors. Michelle Obama doesn’t only criticise the current president, but she goes on a world tour to do it, whining about her husband’s “legacy”. I’m not seeing a lot of that “class and grace” here.

Ms Obama took aim at the billionaire property developer in a series of jibes during which she did not mention him by name. “For anyone who had any problems with Barack Obama, let’s just think about what we were troubled by – there were never any indictments,” she told a crowd of around 15,000 at the O2.

Which is more a reflection on the African-style corruption your husband brought to the US Department of Justice and security services than his behaviour in office.

The Chicago native, who was interviewed by US late-night host Stephen Colbert, jokingly compared the US with Mr Trump in the White House to being a teenager.

I see. “When they go low, we go high” has become “I’ll go low to make some money.”

“We come from a broken family, we are a little unsettled,” Ms Obama said. “Sometimes you spend the weekend with divorced dad. That feels like fun but then you get sick. That is what America is going through. We are living with divorced dad.”

This is an interesting analogy, and I have an idea why she picked it. Barack Obama is a living, breathing, example of what happens to a boy when his dad walks out on the family. From the desperate hunting for an identity with different names and an ever-changing backstory to writing whole books about him in the hope of gaining approval, not to mention the pettiness of many of his actions in office, I think Michelle might be projecting just a little bit here.

Ms Obama, who has been married to the former president for 27 years, said her family’s life had been profoundly different before entering the White House – describing them as a “normal family” who had no time to “adjust to the rarified air of politics” when they arrived in Washington.

Which explains the entourage of taxpayer-funded servants and lackeys which made the global tours of Diana Ross look frugal by comparison.

“We were always ourselves – the presidency does not change who you are, it reveals who you are,” she added in what appeared to be another dig at the current president.

For a supposedly smart woman she’s really bad at commentary. Donald Trump hasn’t changed one jot since entering office: he was a jerk before and he’s a jerk now. Nobody who knew Trump while he was a household name for three decades has noticed any sea-change in character; indeed, the only thing which seems to change is his wife. Whereas what did Obama becoming president reveal about him? That for all his hopey-changey rhetoric he was miles out of his depth, unable to make the leap from community organiser to statesman and from campaigning to governing, leaving behind a country torn apart by identity politics.

“I don’t know if there has been a president who has been accused of not being born in this country? Who has been asked to show his transcripts? Who has been accused of being unpatriotic? There was a lot of stuff that had not happened before that happened to us.”

I don’t know if there has been an American president subject to a rearguard coup by the outgoing administration. Once again, this is more the type of thing you see in Africa. Did you write about that in your book, Michelle?

“For eight years, the president they saw in their country was Barack Obama. He was somebody who people thought was smart and would do the right thing.”

Yeah, and look what happened instead. Michelle Obama is living proof that the left really need cult leaders in their lives, telling them what they want to hear while painting a comforting alternate version of reality. It beats me why they ever stopped going to church.


A Sunday during Lent

Yesterday Michelle Berdy, an American journalist working in Moscow who I believed was half-way sensible retweeted this video and words to the effect this is the “latest from Trump”:

It’s fake news, of course: the video dates from May 2018 and he’s referring to MS-13, not asylum seekers generally. So I pointed this out to Berdy, and this is how the subsequent conversation went today:

The problem with far too many modern journalists is twofold. Firstly they spread fake news. Secondly, when called out on it they resort to sneering (“sounds like a pose not a position”) and go on the attack (“do you think it’s all right for Trump to lie”). So Berdy deleted her original tweet and replaced it:

Note the sneer at the end? Then this happened:

And suddenly I’m dealing with a petulant child. Like I said, it’s not just that journalists peddle fake news but they are incredibly thin-skinned and aggressive when called on it.

As I’ve said before, I have no idea why professional journalists go on Twitter. This was an interesting defence:

Journalists aren’t just on Twitter to have fun, they use it to promote their professional work and attract readers, linking to their publications. Yet they think readers should make a distinction between these posts and their “personal” tweets, and not draw any conclusions about the standard of their professional work from their peddling fake news. It’s like a doctor caught doing backstreet abortions using dirty equipment thinking this has no bearing on his position at the local hospital. Journalists don’t seem to understand the slightest thing about brand protection. Little wonder they like Twitter’s block feature so much.

No other profession would behave like this, and this stems from the fact that for decades journalists had the luxury of a one-way conversation. Now the world’s changed and they don’t know how to have a two-way conversation with people from outside their clique. This is why traditional media is collapsing, print journalists are fumbling about on Twitter, and the likes of Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson, and Joe Rogan have audiences in the millions. The thing is, I’ve been reading Michelle Berdy since about 2004, always liked her work on Russia and have interacted with her positively in the past (which is why I took this up with her; I was disappointed). But she’s willing to lose the trust of a long-time reader for the sake of fake news about Trump, and scoring a few petty points when I object. I expect she thinks she has plenty more readers. That’s what they all think.


Utrinque Paratus

A video has emerged of soldiers of the Parachute Regiment firing pistols at a picture of Jeremy Corbyn, causing the chattering classes to wring their hands:

What reputation would that be, then? I’ve written before about the habit of certain Brits to assume foreigners share their elevated opinion of themselves, and I suspect the same applies here. No foreigner other than Irish republicans will give a damn about this video, and if Peston thinks it undermines a reputation of Britain being a peace-loving country where things are settled by debate rather than violence, he might be surprised to learn the Iraq War put paid to that. As one of my followers on Twitter said:

Sometimes people high up in our society talk as if they are the adminstrators of the wayward province of an empire.

Certainly, their idea of what foreigners think of Britain appears to be uninformed by talking to any. Our media continually tell us we’re a laughing stock because of Brexit, but fail to appreciate it is not those who voted leave who are mocked but the incompetence of the political classes. And where do you think this video sits alongside politicians flatly refusing to honour the results of a referendum in a ranking of things which damage Britain’s reputation overseas? Old Robert Mugabe must be chuckling to himself as I type.

As another of my Twitter correspondents noted, the Mother of Parliaments is now a laughing stock; the Parachute Regiment isn’t. I find foreigners’ impressions of the UK vary greatly, but quite a few wonder why we appear to be committing suicide by opening the borders to all and sundry. Their tone suggests they used to believe Britain to be a serious country run by serious people, but no more. Our chattering classes would also be surprised to find what many foreigners – particularly those from the Middle East – think of London having a mayor named Sadiq Khan. While we insist it’s a sign of our tolerance, they see it as abject surrender. My point is if our reputation abroad mattered as much as people say it does, we’d be doing things very differently.

As for the video itself, well, what can I say? Jeremy Corbyn supported the IRA when they were murdering members of the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland, so what do you expect? Yes, we can talk about professionalism and worrying precedents but if these are the topics of the day, the Parachute Regiment can take their place a long way down a list which includes politicians, parliament, the police, the courts, the CPS, the immigration service, and pretty much every branch of government I can think of. Let’s talk about their professionalism and the precedents they’re setting before launching inquiries into what paras get up to when on the range. If they murder someone or commit atrocities then let me know, until then I’m content that single men in barracks don’t turn into plaster saints.

Of course, elements of the right have responded to the video by doing what they do best: talking earnestly about propriety and principles, as if these mean anything on a battlefield which the left hold every square inch of in large part because to them they don’t. So the MOD at the behest of a Tory government will identify and sack these soldiers, the right will refuse to defend them, the left will celebrate, and their Culture War trophy cabinet will groan a little more under the weight. I get that people on the right don’t want to defend the soldiers, but they could at least remain silent and not do the left’s job for them. I’ve written before about how the right needs to stop defending their enemies; they also need to stop punching right at every opportunity (as they do whenever Tommy Robinson’s name is mentioned). The country is dividing, old alliances are crumbling and new ones forming. If the centre right wants to wrest back control of the country, they’d better start demonstrating to potential allies they are serious about it. Right now, that means being on the side of these soldiers of the Parachute Regiment, or at the very least saying nothing.


Pick a Colour

One of the things which separates Western Europe/North America/Australia & NZ from the rest of the world, and makes these places infinitely better, is politics is not divided along racial lines. Even with the legacy of slavery and the civil rights movement, US politics has never been divided into white parties, black parties, Hispanic parties, etc. The idea British political parties could divide along racial lines is so absurd you’d have to explain it a few times before anyone would understand what you even meant.

This isn’t the case almost everywhere else. In Nigeria, it is generally expected that presidents – who are elected via a pretty free and fair process – will alternate between one from the north and one from the south. The northerners are generally Muslim and look quite different from the generally Christian southerners, and each side wants one of their own in charge. I also happen to be friends with a chap from Trinidad, and he told me the politics of Trinidad & Tobago are split along ethnic lines between Afro-Caribbeans and those of Indian descent. When it comes to voting, everyone votes for a candidate who shares their ethnicity. Whenever I stumble into some information about an election in Africa or Asia, the candidates’ ethnicity or tribe is always mentioned because it lets you know who their supporters are.

Back when I was in university, the only time term “white nationalists” got used was in documentaries on American prison gangs. When I saw the film American History X with a bunch of fellow students, the whole concept of white nationalism seemed absurd. Twenty years later however, and we are told that white nationalism is “on the rise” and “a growing threat”. Until recently, I was quick to dismiss this as nonsense, but I’m slowly coming around to the idea it might be true. The trouble is, white nationalism is being promoted by those very people who have brought the term into everyday use. Here’s an example:

The idea that Trump is a white nationalist is preposterous, but if we have a Somali congresswoman wearing a headscarf bellowing from the rooftops about white nationalism in chorus with hundreds of other prominent figures, people are first going to start getting used the idea and then wondering if there may not be something in it. The Obama years saw America’s racial fault lines widen substantially, a process not helped by the president himself (and that’s putting it charitably). Since Trump’s election, it has become routine for Democrat politicians to openly campaign along racial lines, all with one thing in common: whites are there to be denigrated. Accusations of white supremacy are simply a tool political charlatans deploy to hobble their political opponents, but it appears to be an effective one. But a consequence of ethnic minorities playing divide and silence along racial lines is that, sooner or later, whites will start to play the same game. It’s not the extremists like the Christchurch murderer that people need to worry about as much as ordinary people who hadn’t even heard the term five years ago being slandered as white supremacists by grifters who want to make everything about race. They will start to think, and indeed are starting to think, if minorities are voting along racial lines and using any obtained power to launch attacks on whites, they should recalibrate how they see the future of politics.

The response by the ruling classes to such fledgling opinions has, as usual, been precisely the wrong one. Take this for example:

Facebook has said it will block “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” on Facebook and Instagram from next week.

The company said it had deemed white nationalism an acceptable form of expression on a par with “things like American pride and Basque separatism, which are an important part of people’s identity”.

But in a blog post on Wednesday it said that after three months of consultation with “members of civil society and academics”, it found that white nationalism could not be “meaningfully separated” from white supremacy and organised hate groups.

So while our benevolent rulers and their media stooges wax lyrical about the importance of letting ISIS barbarians return to civilised society, governments – via tech giants and “members of civil society and academics” – have decided white people discussing what might be best for them is to be banned. So I have a question: do you think this will make it more or less likely that white people will consider voting along racial lines in future?

Here’s another story:

Austria’s government has said it may disband a far-right group that received a donation from the main suspect in the New Zealand mosque attacks.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the government was investigating whether the Identitarian Movement Austria (IBÖ) was a “terrorist organisation”.

Prosecutors confirmed that the group’s leader, Martin Sellner, received about €1,500 (£1,290) from Brenton Tarrant.

Mr Sellner confirmed the donation but denied any ties to the suspect.

“I have nothing to do with this terror attack,” Mr Sellner said, arguing that his organisation was a peaceful anti-immigration group.

He said investigators raided his flat in Vienna on Monday and seized his phone, computer, and other devices.

Here’s another question: do you think designating this organisation a terrorist group because it received a donation from the Christchurch murderer will soften or harden attitudes to immigration in Austria? One would also have thought that Austrians of all people might have paused before wielding a law which can so obviously be abused in future should the wrong people come into power. Hell, Sebastian Kurz is already way to the right of every other political leader in Europe; if he’s having to resort to this to stop himself being outflanked further to the right, who knows who could find themselves propelled to power on an anti-immigration platform?

Had this blatant race-baiting not occurred in American and (increasingly) British and European politics, white nationalism would be confined to the Aryan Brotherhood behind three rows of barbed wire fence and a concrete wall. Now it’s being advertised as a political movement, and people are showing an interest. If someone out there wanted white people to vote along racial lines, this was a good way to get the ball rolling. If that does start happening in large numbers, things will get ugly indeed.


Holdin’ on for a hero

A few days ago an Italian of Senegalese origin attempted to set fire to a bus full of schoolchildren in retaliation for the government’s immigration policies. It took a while for the mainstream media to get around to reporting on it in any depth, presumably because it took time to identify the sort of hero they’re after:

No, not that sort of hero. This sort:

It’s funny how the media always finds the right sort of hero when covering these events, isn’t it? And when do we all dress up as pizza slices?


Slow Rogan

I do like Joe Rogan’s podcasts, mainly because he is able to get the best out of the many interesting guests he has on. I reckon he’s able to do this because he’s a genuinely nice, friendly bloke, but also because his guests are usually a lot smarter than him (Bari Weiss being an obvious exception). This means he asks a lot of questions but doesn’t get into lengthy arguments.

However, I’ve noticed his opinions tend to drift between shows, aligning with those of his guest, and he is infuriatingly unable to connect dots. He frequently lambasts Trump’s comments about Mexico and his proposed wall, and appears to be in favour of large scale immigration. Two weeks back he had on a chap called Ioan Grillo, a journalist who has spent years in Mexico reporting on the drug war, cartels, and accompanying savagery. Rogan once again mentioned Trump and the wall in a negative context, before Grillo told a few stories about the cartels which sounded like something out of Game of Thrones. Rogan then said words to the effect of:

“Isn’t it strange this is all happening just over the border from Texas, which is as safe as can be? It’s as if there’s an imaginary line in the sand across which everything just changes.”

Well yes, it’s almost as if Mexico is an altogether different country than the US populated by people with a very different history and culture. Taking this radical idea a little further, one might argue that it might be a good idea if this separation was maintained by a robust border – maybe a wall? – which would keep the populations apart and stop Texas and the wider US becoming more like its southern neighbour.

He’s also fond of asking why the US government doesn’t declare war on decrepit housing projects and miseducation in the ghettos (meaning, sort out African American problems) by spending millions of dollars in a targeted campaign. None of his guests has yet pointed out that billions have been spent trying to do just that for decades, to absolutely no avail. He genuinely thinks it’s never been tried.

Like I said, his podcasts are great but he can be infuriating at times.


Kitchen Sink

Few things look more obviously fake than millionnaire politicians doing a photoshoot to show they’re really just like us. In 2015, then-Labour leader Ed Miliband did a photoshoot of he and his wife relaxing in their kitchen:

Which raised a few eyebrows given the house was worth about £2m. Turns out it was a second kitchen used for preparing snacks, and the real kitchen would have been rather more grand. Oddly enough, holding a photoshoot in the butler’s pantry to demonstrate his earthly connections didn’t work out too well for Miliband.

A couple of days ago Democrat presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand invited photographers into her large, pristine Washington, D.C. kitchen to watch her prepare the family meal.

Unkind Twitter users were quick to point out the sharp crease in her apron, freshly bought for her that morning. Others wondered what the hell she was trying to do with that fish. Don’t you normally cut it before putting it in the frying pan? The lit gas burner with nothing on it didn’t go unnoticed, nor did the solitary mushroom looking rather lost beside the steaks, wondering where the others might have got to. I think the dog’s face tells us what we already know: this woman has never cooked before in her life.

Is there anything more cringeworthy than fake attempts to appear down with the masses? One of the most endearing things about Jacob Rees-Mogg is he’s uber-posh and wears top hats and is utterly shameless about it. One of the reasons Trump gets away with so much is he behaves exactly like you’d expect from a brash, New York billionaire. At least you know what you’re getting. People might not like posh or rich, but they really hate insincerity and, as Miliband and Gillibrand attest, faking sincerity is hard.


Cryin’ Lyin’ Zion

I see the Somali woman who has somehow become a US Congresswoman is once again fending off accusations of antisemitism following a series of tweets which suggested American politicians defend Israel because lobbyists pay them to.

This prompted a Twitter thread by a British contributor to The Economist on the practice of disguising antisemitism as anti-Zionism, and the similarities between its adoption by hard-left American politicians and what we’ve seen in the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn. It’s actually not a bad thread, but here’s how it ends:

It seems a lot of Jews in the media are incapable of speaking about antisemitism without an obligatory swipe at Trump and other right wing politicians who hold unapproved views. I’ve written about this before; it’s a common phenomenon. Trump is the most pro-Jewish president America has ever had; he had absolutely no problem with his daughter converting to Judaism and marrying her Jewish boyfriend, who Trump fully embraced. He’s also the most pro-Israeli American president for a long time, motivated by such concerns as security and sovereignty. This ought to have Jews on both sides of the Atlantic turning cartwheels in celebration, but it appears their concerns over antisemitism are outweighed by a desire to remain popular in left wing, liberal circles and keep those dinner party invites flowing.

Trump is racist only by the insane definition of metropolitan newsrooms and western academia. What Orban is supposed to have done that is not part of Israel’s founding policy I don’t know. And I bet this Pfeffer chap took his views on Bolsonaro from an article some know-nothing, idiot journalist wrote from an office in London. Hell, it was probably a colleague at The Economist with a pencil neck and an English degree from Oxford hanging over his desk. Ilhan Omar, on the other hand, really is racist and the same goes for a good portion of those allowed to settle in the UK under successive governments. If the likes of Pfeffer can’t bring himself to differentiate between them and Trump, is the problem as grave as he makes out? Personally I think it is, but if Jewish journalists aren’t going to take it seriously, why should I? He should be looking to recruit allies and build bridges with those (like me) who have no skin in the game. Ordinarily I’d side with British and American Jews over racist Somalis, but if their spokesmen are going to spend time bashing Hungarian and Brazilian politicians and virtue-signalling about how much they despise Trump, maybe I’ll just sit on the sidelines and say nothing. What’s my incentive to get involved?

I’ve written recently about how American Jews are going to have to decide whether they want to join the ranks of white deplorables or continue to stoke the fires of identity politics which enable those who truly detest them. British Jews are similarly going to have to decide whether they want to enlist the help of ordinary, decent people in opposing antisemitism or continue to paint themselves into a corner because maintaining their social status is more important than ensuring their safety.


Hacks Off

It appears nobody wants to pay to run adverts alongside pieces denouncing all men as violent, racist, scumbags, much less pay to read them:

That someone in modern journalism should cite 10 years wittering on about gender politics and a PhD in romantic comedies as achievements explains a lot about why these redundancies are being made. Here’s another (via Rita Panahi):

Note that all these gender politics reporters insist on living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan, or other expensive liberal cities. Perhaps if they’d moved their operations to Colonsville, KY they’d feel less financially shafted? And I’m sure this helped:

While it’s poor form to mock those who’ve just been made redundant, I am not too concerned about these people. The only way to get a job in New York writing about gender politics is to have wealthy parents who can fund the lifestyle your salary won’t support. Indeed, full-time jobs in media companies filter out those who don’t have wealthy parents by first stipulating a period of unpaid internship. And who do you think paid for that PhD in romantic comedies? I doubt this lot have been financially independent in their lives, and getting booted from what is effectively a paid hobby won’t change that. Their egos might take a knock though, so spare a thought for them as you kneel to pray this evening.