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Samizdata quote of the day

The news around Europe is that the Dutch have formed a government after a record 208 days of negotiations; Austria has elected an anti-immigration leader in a notable lurch rightward; and the Czechs have chosen a Eurosceptic as a prime minister (h/t Adam for the roundup). You’d have thought this would be a major point of discussion in the British media especially with the ongoing Brexit negotiations, but what was the BBC’s main headline yesterday afternoon? This one:

Widow of dead soldier hits out at Trump

Never mind European populations swinging to the right and voting Eurosceptic politicians into office, what is important is who is saying what about Trump on Twitter.

Tim Newman

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43 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Thailover

    The BBC is “Fake News”.

  • Chip

    I’m in Canada where the CBC receives $1 billion a year to provide Canadian content and perspectives.

    And yet its news cycle is entirely dominated by Trump. At the gym yesterday, the CBC playing on the TV spent half an hour on the widow. Half an hour on a lurid, fundamentally pointless story even for Americans.

    They’re nuts. And they peddle their nonsense with taxpayer money.

  • RRS

    American media diseases are highly contagious.

  • Because the beeb gets almost all its US news from hard-left friends in the US, Trump’s ability to drive the mainstream media lefties nuts extends across the pond.

  • Mr Ed

    Is it me or is the BBC news increasingly resembling what one would expect from the thought processes of a recent graduate Guardian-reader stereotype who seems to think that the world works at the level of debate of a University Student Union?

  • Going back to the formation of the Dutch government. They took so long to get formed largely because they will not involve themselves with the Party for Freedom (PVV) run by Geert Wilders.

    This has led to a ludicrous coalition of the unwilling which holds an effective majority of just 1. Their platform includes idiocies such as the removal of the right of the populace to support peoples referenda (since this undermines the opposition parties for whom referenda were a key component and they don’t want to provide a mechanism for the Netherlands to withdraw from the EU aka NExit) as well as other idiocies on refugees and dual nationals.

    The lack of any cohesive answer to the problems of immigration, excessive welfare costs or rising crime in the Netherlands inner cities is effectively ignored for the sake of multi-party unity within the government, indeed the issue of immigration was a key stalling point preventing a coalition with the Greens (probably thank god should be added at this point)

    In doing so they have effectively guaranteed that their tenure will be brief and another election will be required sooner rather than later.

    It seems likely that after the next election it will be impossible to form a government without the PVV. What will the other parties do then?

  • Mr Ed

    Wilders, aka Warwick, the King-maker, but never the King. Perhaps they will change the electoral system to prevent him getting anywhere near power before the next election.

  • @Mr Ed, I wouldn’t put it past them. The right winning isn’t democracy so democracy will have to be destroyed to save it. Stands to reason.

  • Alisa

    BTW, it’s about time we had a SQotD.

  • RRS

    You have to read the whole thing to see where it fits the BBC reference (and concern), but Martin Gurri’s 10/24 post of his Hannah Arendt Lecture at Bard College is pertinent.

    https://thefifthwave.wordpress.com/

  • Snorri Godhi

    Very good SQotD. (I could have said it countless times, but this is probably the 1st time i did.)

    Do people here agree with me that the BBC has been going downhill pretty fast? when the Iraq War started, less than 15 years ago, i could barely notice that the BBC was anti-war; nowadays i start the day by looking at the BBC news, but never click on any article even remotely related to Trump.

  • Do people here agree with me that the BBC has been going downhill pretty fast? when the Iraq War started, less than 15 years ago, i could barely notice that the BBC was anti-war; nowadays i start the day by looking at the BBC news, but never click on any article even remotely related to Trump.

    No. I saw this back in the late 1970’s with the anti-Thatcher BS between becoming party leader in 1975 and the 1979 election. It isn’t new, all that has happened is that the bias has gone from being obvious (but denied) to being total. The lies denying bias and claiming political neutrality are a record so often played it is scratched beyond all recognition. It is beyond a joke.

    There used to be some old-style establishment types (the Queen and Country brigade), but nowadays, if you aren’t completely left wing, Che supporting AntiFa-type you can’t even get in the door.

    The only reason why Jeremy Clarkson and crew were there until recently was because they had come in under the wire (Cars? Who cares about Cars?), into an area that the BBC Marxists didn’t care about. That would never happen today, he would have been labelled a sexist / misogynist and out of the door at the first snide remark.

    None of this is new, indeed it’s not even recent. Only the totality of control is relatively recent. The lies have become thin as veneer, delivered with a contemptuous smile.

  • when the Iraq War started, less than 15 years ago, i could barely notice that the BBC was anti-war (Snorri Godhi, October 25, 2017 at 6:17 pm)

    Regrettable, the lost of the first year or two of the biasedbbc blog archive, of which which Natalie was an editor long ago, and to which I and others occasionally contributed back then, prevents my illustrating how blatantly and dishonestly the BBC spun Iraq war news in the Greg Dyke era. There has been a very slight improvement since then, and BBC and ITV news have changed places as to which is the most extreme, but, like John Galt above, I’m a bit surprised anyone could think it markedly more biased now than then.

  • morsjon

    Reuters website is quite good for proper ‘news news’. Also a nice app.

  • How many governments have to flip to euroskeptic before the whole edifice comes down? Is there a list, a countdown, an “earliest possible” date?

    I can’t tell without a program and nobody seems interested in printing one.

  • How many governments have to flip to euroskeptic before the whole edifice comes down? Is there a list, a countdown, an “earliest possible” date?

    Since the EU has various mechanisms to bypass and nullify the effect of elected politicians (both at home and in Brussels), then I doubt that the pro or anti-EU position of any country has any material effect on them.

    Whenever the EU faces a crisis (regardless of the cause or effect), the answer is always “Further and Faster Integration”, since they understand that until the EU has a genuine life of its own, rather than just a petri dish of each nation in a “rainbow alliance”, then it cannot control its own destiny.

    All the trappings of “A country called Europe” are irrelevant until the EU has a significant income that is independent of the constituent countries and an army / police force which is directly paid for and controlled by the EU itself.

    Britain has always put the kibosh on these things because the British understood that the turning point from multinational treaty organisation to Federal superstate was always a matter of sovereignty.

    Thus BRExit might be the only change that is required.

    As for what could bring it crashing down? Probably only the withdrawal of German political and financial support, since that would likely cause a domino effect of equivalent action from the other member states.

    Chances of DExit or GERout? Probably not high, but not zero either and still rising…

    As to when? It’s difficult to say as there are a lot of barriers to break. My guess has always been that the various stages of the EU would mirror the Soviet Union’s collapse, so based upon 69 years as a target (the EU is essentially 60 this year), then 2026 would be my guess.

    Sounds fair to me…

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    And how has the country managed without a government?

  • Roué le Jour

    I think of it three generations. Socialism works for first because they still have the work ethic. The second realises they still get the benefits whether they contribute or not, and the third asks “Why are we puting up with this exactly?”

  • I think of it three generations. Socialism works for first because they still have the work ethic. The second realises they still get the benefits whether they contribute or not, and the third asks “Why are we putting up with this exactly?”

    There might be some merit in that argument. Around the world there are numerous variations of the saying “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” or “The father buys, the son builds, the grandchild sells, and his son begs”.

    Why shouldn’t the same apply to putative Federal superstates?

  • bobby b

    The BBC may well be lame, but here in the USA for the past year or so, when following a link to a story about something that either makes Trump look good or a Democrat look bad, I find myself at the Daily Mail site.

    I have to go to out-of-country media to get news about my own country. No one here does news anymore.

  • JadedLibertarian

    The agenda of the media had become so painfully obvious that there’s no longer any truly trustworthy news source. Even Guido Fawkes seems to have spent rather too much time in Westminster and has started to go native. The more popular his website becomes, the more he loses his edge and starts to look like a shill for certain interests in the conservative party.

    I bet the anti-trump media really regret starting the whole “fake news” thing, because he weaponized it and turned it on them big time. But the thing is they’re all fake news these days. They don’t want to report the news, they want to write it. They churn out article after article of what they wish happened, hoping to make it true by sheer volume.

    On a given issue I usually read the Guardian, then Breitbart, and then take a weighted mean (favouring Breitbart because at least their writers aren’t actually mad) and conclude that’s probably close to the truth.

    What_actually_happened = (Guardian*0.35) + (Breitbart*0.65)

  • But the thing is they’re all fake news these days. They don’t want to report the news, they want to write it. They churn out article after article of what they wish happened, hoping to make it true by sheer volume.

    One advantage of this is that it makes my decision to ignore the entirety of the Mainstream Media en masse, since they do little more than spin their worthless opinions of the situation in hand rather than dealing with the presentation of facts in a neutral manner.

    Opinions are like arseholes. Everybody’s got one and they all stink.

  • bobby b (October 26, 2017 at 2:50 am), yes, thank God, we may have TV news that competes to out-left each other but not all papers are on the same page.

    That said, a few years ago, when (as one example of many) the fact that Sarah Palin was still liked by 25% of the US (even in a media-spun poll) was offered in the left-wing press here as proof of the subnormal intelligence of you and your countrymen (I am summary-quoting here!), it was also no unusual thing to see a report of US news in an intellectual-Tory ‘right-wing’ paper – e.g. the Telegraph – that was obviously originally written in hopes of appearing in the New York Times and had instead (or could it have been, as well?) been sold across the pond to us. The beeb is far more biased when it reports US news, exploiting our relative ignorance but also indulging its own. I’ve seen the effect more widely, including,it may be, to the mere ignorance of subeditors in nominally right-wing papers.

  • John Galt (October 26, 2017 at 7:03 am), thinking all opinions the same and deserving of equal respect or disrespect is just like the PC mantra that all cultures are the same. The worst cultures and opinions benefit from such equality, the best suffer.

    This would be true even if “all cultures are equal” were meant, not merely a cover for “western culture is vile, and has wronged all other cultures.”

  • Mr Ed

    Regarding the BBC, the rot goes back all the way to it starting, it ought never have been contemplated that there be legal privileges or State funding for a broadcaster. However, a concrete example from the Falklands War was given by Squadron Leader Jerry Pook DFC in his book on the Falklands War and his part of it, in-amongst the numerous tirades about the Royal Navy, who almost seemed to be the main enemy, he states at page 107:

    Thursday 27 May 1982
    In the early hours the BBC committed a disgraceful act of treachery by broadcasting that British troops were approaching Darwin in preparation for an attack.

    Why did the Ministry of Defence censors let the BBC get that message through? Because they are cut from the same cloth.

  • TomJ

    As I recall, the alleged uselessness of la Palin was evidenced by he being jolly worried by the eminently friendly Russians who were clearly of no concern as they had been presented with a relationship reset button…

  • John Galt (October 26, 2017 at 7:03 am), thinking all opinions the same and deserving of equal respect or disrespect is just like the PC mantra that all cultures are the same. The worst cultures and opinions benefit from such equality, the best suffer.

    You’re missing the point.

    My point is that the aspect of the modern mainstream media that I despise the most is the move from reporting the facts to spouting opinions, which inevitably end up being either an attempt at telling me how I should think or simply expressing the inherent prejudice / bias of the journalist / editorial staff.

    In that respect I believe my view of all MSM opinion being worthless is justified.

    As to the value of one persons opinion over another, that is entirely subjective in almost every case. I don’t argue matters of taste as these are personal preferences / prejudices.

  • the other rob

    @ TomJ: Precisely. When Russia went actively hostile again, I said to SWMBO “Who called it? Me and Sarah Palin called it!” Poor grammar, I’ll admit, but in my defense I’m both a Geordie and a Texan.

  • lucklucky

    Media companies that exist due to forced contributors like BBC have no legitimacy.

  • Jed Clampett

    Yes the BBC should stop obsessing over the comings and goings of irrelevant politicians in obscure little backwaters like Washington DC. Surely none of their viewers want to hear about what’s happening over there.

  • I’m an American, and I think we should be treating politicians like the hired help, and not like solons on whose every word we should be hanging.

  • Eric

    And how has the country managed without a government?

    That’s what I was wondering. If you can go that long without a government, chances are it’s mostly a show for the tourists and your country is run by bureaucrats you’ve never heard of.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I prefer a congressional two-term limit, the second term being in a maximum security prison!

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    October 26, 2017 at 7:44 am

    ” . . . the fact that Sarah Palin was still liked by 25% of the US (even in a media-spun poll) was offered in the left-wing press here as proof of the subnormal intelligence of you and your countrymen . . . “

    I was just thinking about her recently. Believe it or not, positively.

    McCain was such a slug that it was all a moot question anyway, but even though Palin turned out to be unelectable, I still think she would have been an excellent Vice President, and I wouldn’t have had unbearable worries based on McCain being Methusela’s dad.

    When I go back on youtube and listen to her nomination acceptance speech, I remember that this was a person I could support on several levels. It was only after the Dems finished their character assassination of her that she became the dim frontier slob who could see Russia from her toilet.

    They just savaged her. There are many things I can never actually forgive Dems for, and she’s one of them.

  • bobby b

    Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray
    October 27, 2017 at 3:50 am

    “I prefer a congressional two-term limit, the second term being in a maximum security prison!”

    Walter Mondale was a US Senator from Minnesota for two six-year terms, and then the US Vice President for four years.

    I had several conversations with him after his VP term ended, and he used those exact words – a maximum security prison – to describe the life of an ex-national-politician. So, someone’s been listening to you.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes the BBC are leftists – like all other television stations in Britain. and nearly all in the United States.

    But what of the Permanent Government in the United Kingdom? The system that demands the BBC Tax (the “license fee”) and de facto forbids (with its “broadcasting standards”) and non leftist television station. Electing a Conservative Party government makes no difference to this – or to the leftist dominated “Education System”, far from ending taxpaying subsidies for the leftist brainwashing of the universities the elected government has recently been grovelling in apology (and attacked by the media – including the “Conservative” Spectator magazine) for a minister even sending a letter to universities asking them who in these vile places is teaching courses on British independence and what they are teaching.

    Cut off funding for the leftist brainwashing that makes up the education system? Oh dear me no – even sending a letter to the Frankfurt School dominated universities asking questions is unacceptable. End the BBC tax? No the conditioning must continue. Allow pro freedom television stations? No – that would violate “broadcasting standards”.

    Well at least we know who is in charge in Britain – and it is NOT the elected government.

    As for the United States – people who detest CNN (and so on) are still forced to pay for it (“bundling” influenced by government regulations), as our people who hate the leftist brainwashing of the education system.

    Donald Trump is no more “in power” in the United States than I am.

    “Democracy”?

    Where is there democracy?

    Certainly not in Britain or the United States – as, whatever way we vote, the left (the permanent government) rule. They go from the universities to the Civil Service and to the management of establishment companies.

  • They just savaged her. (bobby b, October 27, 2017 at 3:57 am

    Indeed. It went beyond the planned and intentional into the kind of hysteria we are now very familiar with but which they had usually managed to conceal better in the decades before 2008. For a brief period after she was chosen, the polls flipped. Soon after, a right-wing US work colleague told me that “for the first time this year, I think my side could win this”, while a left-wing US work college with a slight connection to the opticians trade told me that “glasses like the ones she wears are just walking off the shelves” (i.e. were selling like hot cakes). So for a brief moment, the left suddenly thought she might steal their adored ‘first black president’ moment from them. Intense hysterical hatred of her was born in that moment.

  • Watchman

    And how has the country managed without a government?

    A government is not necessary for day-to-day business, since previous governments have existed and set out the rules. In practical terms (aka Belgian experience) a government’s absence gets increasigly noticed over time as no-one can approve new budgets and therefore projects and programmes start to roll up or be taken over at a local level.

    Also the lack of a government in a democracy does not mean (other than during elections) the non-existance of a parliament, so decisions can still be made – that is why presiding officers are not government appointees. You might argue a parliament without government is actually a better way of running things, as any idea has to get consent on whatever basis it can.

  • Snorri Godhi

    And how has the country managed without a government?

    Perhaps people in the Anglosphere are not familiar with the concept of “caretaker government”. What happened in the Netherlands (not for the 1st time; and it regularly happens in other countries, eg Belgium, Italy) is that the government in power before the election, remained in power after the election, even without a majority, until the new Parliament can agree on a new coalition.

    The power of a caretaker government is limited … but what is wrong with that??
    Except in a state of war or similar national crisis, in which case a new coalition can usually be agreed upon pretty quickly.

    Coming to think of it, the best way to think of Italian governments after Mussolini and before the 1990s, is that all of them were caretaker governments. (Although there were, almost always, several governments between an election and the next.)

  • Deep Lurker

    I prefer a congressional two-term limit, the second term being in a maximum security prison!

    It’s not Congress that needs to have term limits imposed, but the civil service bureaucracy. We might even want to go so far as to bring back the old Spoils System.

    Of course everyone knows that the Spoils System was dangerously corrupt, and it was a vast improvement to put in the modern “professional” civil service. We know this because we were taught it in government schools – schools ultimately controlled by that modern civil service of career professionals. The Progressives won that war, and went on to literally write the history textbooks.

  • Snorri Godhi (October 27, 2017 at 12:02 pm), in the UK we certainly have the term ‘caretaker government’ but it is usually of very short duration. If a government loses a vote of confidence, or otherwise loses its majority so much as to require an election, the queen will maintain existing ministers (or conceivably appoint) as needed to run the country till the election. Formally, this is little different from any other circumstance where, the parliamentary mandate being unclear, the monarch has a slightly more substantive “who gets first refusal” choice to make.

    I think the US is unusual in its very detailed arrangements for emergency succession. I believe it has this in its constitution because the founders were aware of the challenge that monarchists could make: “The king is dead. Long live the king.” is an easy rule to follow. If terrorists let off an atomic weapon in London (e.g. as in the film The Way I live Now) and all 600plus MPs were gone, then the queen, or her nearest surviving relative, would still be the lawful head of state, able to appoint a prime minister and/or ministers, proclaim laws, etc., until a fresh election were to occur.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall: you are right, of course, about caretaker governments between a vote of no confidence and an election. Although the last time a UK government lost a vote of confidence was with Callaghan in 1978 iirc; and i do not follow as closely the politics of English-speaking countries other than the US and the UK.

    Let me rephrase the first sentence in my comment:
    Perhaps people in *much of* the Anglosphere are not familiar with the concept of a caretaker government *in place after an election*.
    I added “much of” because Ireland and New Zealand might have experience of difficulties in forming coalitions, for all what i know.

    As for your earlier comment (and John Galt’s comment) about the BBC not being as neutral as i thought it was during the Iraq War: admittedly i am not the most qualified person to comment on that, because i experienced a paradigm shift/Gestalt switch as late as 2006 in the way i read the news, as a consequence of the Cartoon Jihad.

  • lucklucky

    “And how has the country managed without a government?”

    Democracy will not survive if the people can’t choose the scale of its Politics. For example void, blank votes and abstention should mean empty seats in Parliament.
    Today we are increasingly in a Totalitarian Democracy period.

    Edit: Another way is having Conscientious Objection at tax level.

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