High Hills

Via Mike in Switzerland, this story:

Shocking photos of Congresswoman Katie Hill are revealed as she’s seen NAKED showing off Nazi-era tattoo while smoking a bong, kissing her female staffer and posing nude on ‘wife sharing’ sites.

Amusingly, she’s into polyamory:

The then 22-year-old began a throuple relationship with Hill and her husband Kenny Heslep shortly after she started working for Hill in 2017

All that’s missing here is a trip to Burning Man. She’s a complete degenerate, meaning she’s representative of the core Democrat constituency these days. Beats me why anyone thinks this is a problem.


From Russia with div

This morning I listened to the Joe Rogan podcast with Edward Snowden, the former NSA technician who blew the whistle on illegal US government mass surveillance programs.

According to Snowden, Barrack Obama really only wanted to do what’s best for the country but the Deep State convinced him to maintain these programs in the interests of national security. Trump, meanwhile, has harnessed the intelligence community to go after groups he doesn’t like, and as such is much more dangerous than anyone.

My guess is his lengthy exile in Russia has made him a little fond of the bathtub vodka. What other explanation is there for issuing dark warnings of the unaccountable power of rogue intelligence agencies but think they’ve been working on behalf of Trump? The man’s an idiot; I expect he was hoping Hillary would win, and then pardon him. She’d be more likely to pull the switch while he’s strapped in the chair.


Part break bridge

Tim Worstall alerts me to an update on the bridge collapse in Florida, which I wrote about here and here.

A doomed design was the “probable cause” of the horrific collapse of a pedestrian bridge in Miami last year that killed six people and injured 10, the National Transportation Safety Board found Tuesday.

A peer review that failed to detect the calculation errors by designer FIGG Bridge Engineers – and an engineer’s failure to recognize the importance of cracking before the collapse – contributed to the tragedy, the board said.

My initial thoughts when I heard about the collapse were:

A lot of companies have subcontracted out the actual work – designing, building, manufacturing, operating, maintaining – and instead busy themselves with “managing” the whole process. This involves lots of well-educated people in nice clothes sitting in glass-fronted office buildings sharing spreadsheets, reports, and PowerPoint presentations by email and holding lengthy meetings during which they convince one another of how essential they are.

In such an environment, it is inevitable that the quality of work suffers, errors go unnoticed, and – occasionally – catastrophes occur.

So I got the errors going unnoticed part right. I also said:

I’d be willing to bet a hundred quid the calculations and finite element modelling were done outside the US to save money, or subcontracted to another company, and supervision – which involves expensive Americans – was at nowhere near the levels it should have been. Regardless of where they were done, I’d also be willing to bet the company spent more manhours on progress meetings and overly-detailed weekly reports to let the management know what was going on than they did checking the engineering calculations.

Here’s what the article says:

NTSB staffer Dan Walsh said the construction was “high-risk” because of the complex design of the bridge. But he added that the school was overseeing the project, and the state Transportation Department was not required to have an inspector on site.

“Our recommendations address this issue, that FDOT should have more authority on this type of project,” Walsh said.

Uh-huh. The school awarded the job to MCM, perhaps on the basis of a glossy brochure on how committed they were to diversity and inclusion, and MCM handed the bridge design work off to FIGG and didn’t bother to supervise them or make sure their calculations were sound. Nor did they think anything was wrong when FIGG started tensioning the bridge trusses over live traffic, which would have had me blowing whistles and waving red flags without knowing the first thing about bridges. Result: collapsed bridge and dead people.

The board issued several recommendations to ensure that additional guidance will allow designers to better determine loads; that plans will undergo peer review by a qualified independent firm.

This doesn’t happen already?! When I got a crane built for an oil company in Nigeria, I used a specialist crane design company in the Netherlands and then got the entire design, including the calculations, verified by an independent third-party certification body. The same outfit also witnessed the load test and signed off on it. I thought this was standard.

FIU President Mark Rosenberg lauded the project when the section was dropped into place days before the tragedy.

“FIU is about building bridges and student safety,” Rosenberg said. “This project accomplishes our mission beautifully.”

If an accident happens on an oil and gas construction site resulting in fatalities, the oil company is ultimately responsible because they own the job and they are obliged to use competent contractors thus ensuring the safety of all workers. They aren’t permitted to just point at the engineering and construction contractor and say “nothing to do with us”. This is why BP got clobbered for the Deepwater Horizon accident more than Transocean who owned the rig. Perhaps it’s time this ownership principle was extended to civil works in public places?


The crimes they are a-changin’

In the context of yesterday’s post and the prosecution of Bruno Dey, comes this series of tweets:

I suppose being born in the post-war era in western Europe it’s hard to imagine what it’s like living under a murderous, totalitarian regime and therefore it’s easy to kid ourselves that we’d have been the Chinese guy standing in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square. I suspect those who lived through the Soviet Union, occupied France, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq don’t hold themselves in such high regard, though.

I’ve written before about the appalling binary choices the Nazis forced on people, and while I’m not going to say Dey is much of a victim (especially considering those on the other side of the wire) it’s unlikely teenage draftees into the Wehrmacht had a whole lot of say about their career paths. There are claims that guards didn’t have to serve at concentration camps and could request a transfer. Even supposing this is true, transfer to where? Stalingrad? Or perhaps it was true in theory, just as the Soviet constitution guaranteed a fair trial. This chap on Twitter presumably thinks Dey should have disobeyed orders and been shot instead, but what if he had others to think about, such as a family who might face repercussions? For all the fear of non-existent Nazis in contemporary society people seem to have forgotten how the real Nazis operated and how much the Gestapo was feared by the population. In my 19 years of corporate life I’ve barely met anyone brave enough to disagree with their boss, yet we’re supposed to believe our generation would face down a Nazi officer in 1944? Please.

Thinking about this last night, what Germany is doing by prosecuting this man is signalling to everyone they take Nazis and the Holocaust seriously in order to deflect attention from the fact that anti-Israeli sentiment runs strong across German politics and, largely thanks to Merkel’s immigration policies, antisemitism is on the rise. The decision to prosecute is therefore political, as is the hounding of British troops who served in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. You’ll note that the politicians who sent them there and the senior officers who commanded them aren’t being hauled into courtrooms 45 years after the events in question, it’s just the squaddies, NCOs, and junior officers who are having their lives ruined at the hands of treacherous lawyers and spineless politicians. Those really responsible are either dead or off-limits, which is why these prosecutions are happening only now.

The irony is this Ian Noble chap is an ex-soldier who served in Kosovo. He says he went there to prevent genocide and maybe he did, but he was there without a UN mandate and many Serbs (and probably a lot of Russians) would have every reason to think he was an accessory to war crimes. Bear in mind he was sent there by Tony Blair, a man who ordered Britain into an unsanctioned attack on Iraq, and if by some strange turn of events Russia ends up wielding clout on the international stage in 40 years time he might find himself yanked from his retirement home and asked to explain why he was murdering innocent Serbs. And he was no draftee. This chap probably doesn’t think it’s possible and nor do I, but I wouldn’t want to bet on some future British government not seeking to burnish its progressive credentials by punishing soldiers who took part in the Iraq War – or maybe even the Kosovo War – once the people responsible are safely dead. Who knows what form the British government will take in another generation? We already have an overt IRA sympathiser as leader of the opposition, and the demographics don’t look good if it’s favourable views of the Iraq War we’re after.

The fact that every German who served in the Wehrmacht wasn’t a genocidal Nazi was well-understood at the time, even by those who fought them. My Austrian friend from my MBA has grandparents who fought in the German army because – surprise surprise! – that’s what Austrian men of that age were forced to do. There’s a good chance they might have done some pretty unpleasant stuff while in the uniform too, because that’s what happens when men go to war across an entire continent. Their contemporaries on the winning side hanged the leadership then moved on, and never sought to punish the rank and file. But the ever-so-clever modern generation who weren’t there and have never seen their country attacked let alone occupied by a foreign army know better. In the same vein they’ve convinced themselves that every American who fought for the South was a racist who hated black people and took up arms only to prolong slavery, while those who fought on the Union side could be assistant editors at The Huffington Post. And somehow they think Abraham Lincoln fought the war to free the slaves. Unfortunately there are no ex-Confederates left for liberals to put in jail so they have to be content with tearing down their statues instead.

It’s hard to know what’s worse, the ignorance, the revisionism, or the opportunism. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with justice.


Beating Kurds and Away

A couple of days ago Turkey decided to send its army south over the border into Syria and start massacring Kurds. Apparently this was Trump’s fault, as he’d withdrawn the couple of hundred US special forces who’d been helping the Kurds fight ISIS, and many people saw this as giving a green light to Erdogan. I’m going to take the lazy blogger’s option of simply repeating what I said last time this happened back in December:

I have a lot of sympathy for the Kurds. They seem less insane than anyone else fighting in Syria, more organised than anyone trying to manage territory in Iraq, and they are well-disposed towards America and their allies. They’ve been screwed over by the major powers on several occasions, suffered terribly at the hands of Saddam Hussein and ISIS, and been oppressed by the Turks. I would like to see their lot improved, and I will be deeply unhappy if the Turkish army move into Syria and start massacring them. If somehow they find themselves in possession of advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry with which they can inflict heavy losses on their enemies, I’d not be too upset.

However, let’s get realistic here. The US was never in Syria on behalf of the Kurds. US forces on the ground may have formed informal alliances with Kurdish groups, but there was never a US policy of protecting Kurds in Syria, at least that I’m aware of. To begin with, what do people mean when they say America should not abandon “the Kurds”? Do they mean the Kurds in Syria fighting Assad and ISIS? The Kurds in Iraq, who run a peaceful, semi-autonomous region subordinate (in theory) to the government in Baghdad? The Kurds in Turkey? And with whom should the alliance be made? The PKK? The Peshmerga commanders?

I asked a few people on Twitter who the Kurdish leaders were, what were their names. Nobody knew. When people talk of Palestinians we know they fall under the leadership, however flawed, of the PA and Hamas. We know the names of the leaders and what their policies are, and these people regularly attend meetings with the large powers and mediators to discuss their aims. But who represents “the Kurds”? What do they want? If Trump is “betraying an ally” this suggests an alliance was formed and promises given. Okay, but when, and by whom, and with what authority? Did any Kurdish leader meet Trump or a member of his administration? Did they meet any of Obama’s? Nobody who is screaming “betrayal” can answer any of these questions: they want war to continue indefinitely in support of an alliance they can’t describe on behalf of people they know nothing about. If this is what passes for political wisdom in the US these days, it’s little wonder they’ve been neck-deep in unwinnable wars since I left university. Fighting a war used to be a serious undertaking, now it’s something advocated on a whim to spite one’s domestic political opponents.

If Americans want to fight a war on behalf of the Kurds, they need to first come up with a clear strategy. What are the objectives, and over what timelines? And on behalf of which Kurds are they fighting? If they attempted to draw up such a plan, they would see why they need to give the matter a wide berth. The Kurds are not some homogeneous bloc, they are fractured along several lines and were they somehow to get their own state it would likely be completely dysfunctional as the various groups squabble among each other. There’s also the small matter that the most capable Kurds are invariably socialist; I get the impression a lot of Americans don’t know that. If America were to support the Kurds in any meaningful sense it would entail severely distabilising the national government in Iraq, as well as taking on Turkey in a big way. I’m not saying these are necessarily bad things – I’d like to see Turkey booted from NATO and Erdogan put in his place – but they need to be part of an overall strategy which the political classes in Washington simply lack the competence to put together, let alone pull off. Hell, they can’t even agree to protect their own borders.

Most of the meltdown we’re seeing from the American political classes is yet another example of Trump doing X and therefore they must oppose it. The rest is from people who think American soldiers should be sent to fight and die in pointless, century-old sectarian feuds in the Middle East because otherwise the country’s reputation will be tarnished – as if it’s currently held in high regard.

The most moronic take is that Turkey’s assault on the Kurds plays into Putin’s hands, as if Russia gives a damn about either of them. If anything Russia would prefer Turkey stays out of Syria, given they’re firm backers of the Assad who, presumably, would like to run things without interference from his neighbours. We’re at the point where if Trump exploded a thermonuclear device over Moscow during rush hour, half of America would say he was acting on Putin’s orders.

To my knowledge, Congress never approved sending US troops into Syria so they have no business being there in the first place. If the Europeans carping from the sidelines feel so strongly about the Kurds, they are free to send their own soldiers to protect them, assuming they have any, their guns work, and they can get there. And all those ISIS prisoners in Kurdish jails? Well, why were they still breathing?


Court and Rolled

I’ve often written about the parallels between Brexit and Trump’s election, and another has revealed itself over the past few days.

I haven’t followed the story too closely, but it appears the American Establishment is going into meltdown over a phone call Trump made to the Ukrainian president. Their Russian collusion narrative having failed, they’ve effortlessly switched to trying to impeach Trump over this phone call to Ukraine. In many respects, this is hardly news: the insane wing of the Democrats – which is most of them – have been banging on about impeaching Trump for months. They have no idea what for, and nor do they care; they just want to force him from office. The only newsworthy bit about this story is that Nancy Pelosi has finally been browbeaten into getting on board with it.

When it comes to Trump, the American ruling classes threw out the rule book a long time ago. The joint intelligence community and Democrat attempt to prevent him being elected and then unseat him after the event would have resulted in lengthy prison sentences or executions in pretty much every other country at any point in their history. They lied through their teeth about the Russia collusion and activist judges are ensuring every move he makes gets blocked. They don’t care about the law, nor who sees it. All they care about is removing Trump from office and they’re prepared to bring the whole house down on themselves to do it. In many respects, the rule of law no longer applies in Russia.

On our side of the Atlantic, our political classes are doing much the same thing. The other night the supreme court judges upended the British constitution to declare Boris Johnson’s proroguing parliament was illegal because they couldn’t think of a reason why he did it. If we cut through all the bullshit, a handful of judges – who are very much members of the ruling classes and share their interests – decided to kill off another attempt to deliver the Brexit which was decided via referendum in June 2016. So Britain now has a politicised supreme court like in the US, one which considers itself above the monarch. The ruling classes aren’t even pretending any more. They might as well come out and say Brexit isn’t happening because they don’t want it to. It would at least be more honest, and they might avoid adding a string of appalling precedents to the one they’ve already set by refusing to enact the result of a free vote. As with the US, Britain is no longer a country of laws. It is ruling class free-for-all.

With each passing month, the barriers between peace and violence get torn down one by one. There is only one place at the end of this road, and that is the sort of political violence you see in failed states with politicians, judges, policemen, and journalists all fair game. I don’t think it will happen soon, though. Instead, we’ll enter into decades of being ordered around at the whim of the ruling classes, who take ever more brazen liberties while tightening the noose around our own. And then a generation will arrive who won’t stand for it, and the blood will start flowing.

It won’t be Nancy Pelosi or Brenda Hale who pay the price of their contempt for the people and the law, nor even AOC or Gina Miller. It’ll be their grandchildren, assuming they have any, who will inherit their privileges but not their protections. Those clowns hanging onto the words of Greta Thunberg are right to be worried about their children’s futures, but not for the reasons they think.


Fossil Fool

A couple of days ago I listened to Joe Rogan’s podcast with Bernie Sanders. The thing with Sanders is he’s actually pretty good at identifying genuine problems. In 2016, what he was saying about blue collar America wasn’t much different from Trump’s message, which is partly why so many of the Bernie Bros couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary. However, Sanders’ solutions to the problems he identifies are terrible, consisting of top-down authoritarianism presiding over a command-and-control economy, much like what he saw in the Soviet Union on his honeymoon. Take for example his proposals for tackling climate change around the hour mark of the podcast:

Sanders has bought wholesale into the nonsense that we have 12 years left to save the planet, but his solutions are even more daft. His proposal is to “tell the fossil fuel industry that their short term profits are not more important than the future of the planet”. He then goes on to say “you cannot keep producing a product which is destroying the planet.” Rogan asks him whether this means he will tell the fossil fuel companies to stop selling their products, and Sanders replies that yes, “this is the bottom line”.

It’s hard to know where to begin with such stupidity. The only major oil and gas companies the US government would have some degree of control over should it issue such an order are ExxonMobil and Chevron. While most international oil companies work overtime not to fall foul of the US government in ordinary circumstances, faced with what amounts to closure orders from a President Sanders they’d cease all cooperation immediately. Sanders talks about the need to work with Russia and others but it’s hard to imagine Gazprom and Rosneft shutting down production because a septuagenarian multi-millionaire from Vermont deems it necessary. Although if Theresa May were still British Prime Minister you could well imagine her closing down BP in order to seal her “legacy”.

But the impossibility of implementing the policy isn’t even the most stupid part. Sanders speaks as though the fossil fuel companies sell products with no utility, as if they don’t underpin the entire way of modern life. He seems to think they’re luxury products we can do without if only the right leadership is shown. I see this with a lot of people: they think cars should be electric, and electricity generated by solar, wind, and hydro power and therefore we don’t need fossil fuels any more. What staggers me is the ignorance among the general public about what fossil fuel products are actually used for. Even making the ludicrous assumption we could switch our cars to electric and generate all electricity from renewables, how do we power planes, ships, and tractors without fossil fuels? Even my erstwhile environmental engineer friend didn’t seem to understand that a demand for fossil fuels will likely remain until the very end of human existence. She didn’t seem to consider the economics of her preferred policies at all, let alone the effects at the margins (i.e on the poor), which puts her in good company with Bernie Sanders and most of the public who subscribe to swivel-eyed environmentalism. One minute Sanders is bemoaning the difficulties low-paid workers face in America, the next he’s saying we should make basic energy products as expensive as diamonds.

As I’ve said before, I have a theory that when a certain number of generations have taken the bottom two levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for granted, the society starts to self-destruct. A critical mass of people simply lose connection with the foundations which prop up their society, start meddling with them, and eventually call for their destruction. I’ve tried to think of a similar instance from history, and the closest I can find is China’s decision in the 15th century to destroy their ships in an effort to isolate themselves from the perils of free trade. And even that doesn’t come close to ordering a halt on fossil fuel production. What’s that saying that whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad? We’re here, folks.


The Sunshine State

I’m now back in Annecy, my return flights from the US via Heathrow having passed without so much as a minute’s delay. I finally managed to get to sleep around 3:30am last night, having spent the previous afternoon desperate to go to bed.

Other than New York in 2016 I’d not been to the US in years, and had forgotten how big it was. When my brother said he lived in Miami I assumed he actually lived in Miami, not a town called Weston 40 minutes away by car. The Russian I was meeting was staying in Pembroke Pines, which when I looked on Google maps appeared to be just next door to Weston, possibly within walking distance. It turned out it was a 20 minute drive down a 5-lane highway. When you visit the US you need to seriously recalibrate distances in your mind, especially if you live in a medieval town in the French Alps.

Miami wasn’t what I expected. For a start, we didn’t really go there. We spent some time on Hollywood beach, which was really nice, but that isn’t Miami. Miami itself seems to be a collection of high-rise office blocks and the Miami you see on TV is on a huge sandbar called Miami Beach. That consists of a rather ordinary grid of concrete streets filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops which I am told turns pretty wild at night, alongside a beach which is much like any other in Florida. We spent a few hours there overheating and getting lost before visiting the Vizcaya museum and gardens. Built around the time of WWI, this is what passes for an ancient monument in Miami. The other thing about American cities is there is often no city centre, or at least one you can wander around in. Outside of the North East they seem to be a collection of buildings and if you want a particular one – be it a restaurant, office, or shop – you drive to it, park outside, and go in. The only place you can park the car and wander around is inside a strip mall. This is convenient, but doesn’t make it easy when you’re tasked with entertaining a Russian for an evening, especially if she’s the one driving.

As planned, I rented a car and started driving north on my way to Pensacola. American hire cars don’t come with satnavs so I had to use Google Maps on my phone. I’d never used this before and it worked perfectly, but because I’d first used the phone in Nigeria the default voice was Nigerian English and it turned out to be harder to change than you’d expect. So for 20 hours worth of driving all my directions were delivered in a heavy Lagos accent. Once again the sheer size of America became apparent with instructions such as “Merge onto I95 and continue straight for the next 272 miles”. I drove from Fort Lauderdale airport north on I95 and stopped the night somewhere near Cape Canaveral after 3 hours of driving. The next morning I drove due north to Jacksonville then turned 90 degrees left and drove due west on I10 for 5 hours. The 700 mile drive from Fort Lauderdale to Pensacola involves a single, solitary left hand turn. Little wonder Americans think autonomous cars are feasible. The Florida panhandle is dull in the extreme – mile after mile of forests of tall, thin trees – on a dead straight road. Fortunately the experience of driving on American roads (in an underpowered Nissan) was new enough to keep things interesting. I am amazed by what Americans are willing to tow along the highways at speed. I passed pickup trucks doing 70mph in the middle lane towing giant boats behind them. I passed at least three accidents where more than 4 cars had piled into the back of one another like a concertina. I don’t think I’ve seen more than one of them the whole time I’ve been in France. Either American brakes are rubbish, they don’t understand stopping distances, or they spend a lot of time not paying attention.

I had a good time in Pensacola with my friend “Leisure Suit” Larry, who is quite a character. We met in Kuwait in 2004 and got on like a house on fire, despite him being 25 years my senior. As a teenager in the sixties, he’d joined the US army as a paratrooper “in order to raise hell”, serving in Vietnam, Okinawa, and the Dominican Republic. Now retired, Larry was an old-school maintenance man, and had worked in almost all the US states, and visited them all. In addition, he was working in Iran when the Revolution happened, Syria when Reagan slapped sanctions on the country, Basra when the Iranians bombarded it and Algeria when the US bombed Libya back in 1986. Diplomats soon learned that if Larry turned up to work in their country, the regime’s days were numbered. He’d turned up in Venezuela to be a plant manager only to later discover the chap who was supposed to be doing the job had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom in the jungle. His boast was he’d never been around at the start of any project: he only got called in when it was in the shit and all the money had gone. In Pensacola I stayed with he and his wife, to whom he’d been married for 53 years. That’s some effort.

We spent a morning at the nearby museum of naval aviation, Pensacola being the home of the US Navy’s air arm and the Blue Angels display team. This was impressive, filled with just about every aircraft that’s ever been used by the USN and models of each class of aircraft carrier. Here’s a pic of an 8 year old boy in the cockpit of a Phantom, which was surprisingly comfortable.

I was also surprised by how big the F14 Tomcat is: it’s not a small plane.

That afternoon we met up with one of Larry’s sons, a former US Army Ranger, on Pensacola beach and had a swim. Entering the Mexican Gulf is like taking a warm bath. The weather up there is a lot better than in south Florida: less humid and without the interminable thunderstorms which wreck the plans of tourists every afternoon in the summer months. In the evening we went to a extraordinarily popular Irish bar which was about as Irish as I am. The steak was good, though. Before I left Pensacola for the long drive back down south, Larry and I got a picture together.

Fifteen years is a long time, but in many ways not much had changed. I always meant to go and see old Larry again and finally I did. It was well worth the trip.



Unsurprisingly, people are rather upset about this:

Goaded on by the president, a crowd at a Donald Trump rally on Wednesday night chanted “send her back! send her back!” in reference to Ilhan Omar, a US congresswoman who arrived almost 30 years ago as a child refugee in the United States.

But it’s important to remember this didn’t come out of a clear blue sky.

If someone who looks, dresses, sounds, and acts foreign stands up as an elected member of the US Congress and continuously slanders millions of ordinary Americans as white supremacists, what do people think is going to happen? That they’ll just take this abuse on the chin? There is no population on earth which would put up with such a person for very long, and Omar and her ilk seem determined to see just how far the tolerance of the American public can be pushed. She’s playing a very dangerous game, and she’s at least half-responsible for making “Send ’em all back!” a slogan in American politics, something which would have been unheard of even two years ago. As I’ve said before:

America has been fortunate so far that white nationalists have tended to be grossly incompetent. This is because there’s been no future in subscribing to it, it’s a dead-end losers’ game. But if Somalis in headscarves are going to spend their time denouncing white people from congress, while at the same time you have a tens of millions of disenfranchised right wingers who happen to be white, an avenue of opportunity might open up. And then instead of the bunglers some competent people arrive on the scene who’ve carefully observed how the ruling classes behave, know how to evade their counterattacks, and form a movement which suddenly becomes too big to shut down. And then the fun really begins.

This has gone far beyond Republicans versus Democrats. The American ruling classes need to get a handle on this woman, and fast.


Class Struggle

This tweet provides an interesting insight into the mindset of Britain’s ruling classes and those who support them:

To Britain’s Metropolitan professional classes, this shows how beyond the pale Trump is. To me, it shows how catastrophically authoritarian Britain has become. I don’t know what Americans think about it, but I suspect they’re rather glad they’re an independent nation with a constitution which prevents citizens being prosecuted for unapproved speech. In fact, reading this tweet is probably the only thing which would make Americans glad they have the lawyers they do. That’s some achievement.

This story is not unrelated:

Scotland Yard performed a climbdown on Saturday following accusations it had attempted to use the furore over the leaking of comments by the British ambassador about President Trump to silence the British media.

As criticism mounted steadily over the Met’s warning to editors that they faced prosecution if they published leaked government documents, assistant commissioner Neil Basu issued a statement clarifying that the force did not want to stop the press from publishing stories.

His reassurance appeared to represent a U-turn from a statement Basu had issued less than 24 hours earlier in which he warned the “media not to publish leaked government documents that may already be in their possession, or which may be offered to them, and to turn them over to the police or give them back to their rightful owner, Her Majesty’s government”.

The reason the Met performed a U-turn is because it generated howls of outrage from the press, for example:

But you’ll notice that when ordinary people were being prosecuted for off-colour jokes, posting rap lyrics, and mean tweets the press was utterly silent. There’s a reason for this. The ruling classes, for which the mainstream media is simply a propaganda machine, believe they are harbingers of truth whose duty is to inform the plebs on what they must say, do, and think and as such their freedom of speech must not be curtailed. But the plebs are plebs, and who knows what harm they may cause if they’re allowed to go around saying what they like? Therefore, we need rules on allowable speech to keep them in line.

The truth is, free speech is dead in Britain, assuming it was ever alive. What we have here is a fight between different sets of the ruling classes and those who hope to join them over who gets to control the language, while both agreeing that the oiks should be chucked in jail for saying the wrong things.