We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The big guy takes a big percentage

Back when Vice-President Joe Biden was in charge of US policy for the Ukraine, he weaponised his power over US aid. Later, he boasted of it.

“I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. I said, you’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. (Laughter.) He got fired.” (text and video link)

That Ukrainian prosecutor was investigating the company Biden’s son ‘worked for’. Except that Hunter Biden couldn’t have been working for them. Never mind trivia like Hunter’s knowing nothing of Burisma’s business. As a reformed addict explained, the timeline makes it impossible Hunter’s salary could have been for any services whatever that he himself rendered.

From my own experience, there is no such thing as a functioning cocaine addict. The worse it gets, the faster it gets worse.

A few years have passed, a few things have happened, Biden is again in charge of money voted for the Ukraine – and is again weaponising it. It’s $13.6 billion now, and these days even Biden’s ‘military aid’ includes actual weapons. However Biden is including it in other things – $1.5 trillion-worth of other things.

It was must-pass legislation, needed to keep the government operating and avoid the kind of partial shutdowns that have been seen in the past. But this one was not only huge — it was different from recent spending measures. The difference was that it revived earmarks, which are spending provisions put in at the behest of individual lawmakers. In the past, earmarks created a culture of runaway pork spending, which led Republicans to push for a ban successfully in 2011. Now, they are back.

Not back, because it was never gone, is MSM misreporting of it. For once, I think the New York Times’ phrasing,

To push the package through the Senate, lawmakers had to navigate a series of objections from conservative Republicans, who complained that they had little time to examine the legislation and pushed to prioritize emergency aid to Ukraine.

…may not suit Biden, and the cabal that gave him the presidency, quite as well as the way the Washington Post’s headline,

More than two dozen Senate Republicans demand Biden do more for Ukraine after voting against $13.6 billion for Ukraine.

…reported (or, one could say, avoided reporting) that a request to separate the aid-for-Ukraine bill from the earmarks bill was strongly made and was absolutely refused.

The WaPo’s headline is not wholly without information. If two dozen voted against, that tells us some other Republican senators voted for $13.6 billion for the Ukraine – along with a mere $1.6 million to assist “equitable growth of shellfish aquaculture in Rhode Island” and $800,000 to fund “artist lofts” in Pomona CA, and … and … and … (an earmark here, a thousand earmarks there – pretty soon you’re talking about real money). Whether they did this reluctantly, because they feel the Ukraine needs whatever fraction of that $13.5 billion it will finally get, or eagerly, because they feel they themselves need whatever fraction of that $1.5 trillion they will finally get (the 4000-odd earmarks were mostly for Democrats – but not exclusively so), I leave it to any readers who know those senators to speculate.

Meanwhile, here as elsewhere, the pro-Biden narrative and the pro-Putin narrative overlap. It was a Putin shill or dupe commenting way down a thread on this very blog who first told me it was Biden’s opponents in congress who “voted against aid to Ukraine”. Did he get that line from Russia Today or from the Washington Post? Who knows!

There’s nothing special to the Ukraine in all this, of course. All his political life, Biden has been exceptionally that kind of politician who demands his percentage of every transaction. It’s only noteworthy (and, let’s face it, it’s hardly surprising) that even now the Ukraine is fighting for its life, ‘the big guy’ still does.

The press big up Psaki to conceal that they are throwing the fight

When a boxer or wrestler who would normally be expected to trash-talk his opponent instead gushes about how strong they are, be suspicious. Here is the Jen Psaki story the press want to talk about:

“Jen Psaki Has Now Held More Press Briefing Than All Of Trump’s Press Secretaries Combined” – Jason Easley, Politicus USA. Mr Easley writes,

Biden and Jen Psaki have returned the government back to the people and restored accountability to the Executive Branch. The Trump administration consistently set records for days between press briefings.

This story about Psaki’s achievement in having done her job on two hundred separate days has been syndicated across the English speaking world. Jason Easley’s enthusiasm is matched by that of David Charter in the (London) Times: “Jen Psaki holds onto the White House job no Trump aide could handle”

For 14 months Psaki has earned a reputation for calmness under fire, no-nonsense put-downs and an ability to dodge most of the traps set by the more pugilistic members of the White House press corps. She has Facebook pages devoted to her including the Jen Psaki Fan Group, which recently discussed: “Are we seeing the next US president?”

I hope that Mr Charter remembered the stamped addressed envelope and the required four box tops from special Psaki-edition cartons of Rice Krispies when he sent off for his membership badge. He regales us with tales of her witty put-downs of Fox News reporters and Republican Senators. Only a spoilsport would say that the information revealed in the eleventh paragraph of the Times story, the one paragraph out of fourteen that had any news value, might have been given more prominence:

Psaki is also adept at evading well-aimed arrows. She was put on the spot about her tweet during the election campaign dismissing a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop as “Russian disinfo”. The New York Times finally conceded this week that emails from the laptop had been “authenticated”. Psaki’s response? “I’d point to the Department of Justice and Hunter Biden’s representatives. I’m a spokesperson for the United States; he doesn’t work for the United States.”

Emphasis added.

The New York Post’s October 2020 scoop about Hunter Biden’s laptop was censored by Facebook and Twitter, derided by the establishment media, and certified as “Russian disinfo” by “dozens of former intel officials”, according to Psaki. For some reason the Post wanted to talk about that rather than her 200th briefing: “Psaki won’t defend claim Post’s Hunter Biden laptop scoop was ‘Russian plant’”.

Samizdata quote of the pandemic

“I’m Not ‘Brave’; You’re Just a P—y !!” (Dr Naomi Wolf here, h/t instapundit, on which it has been linked repeatedly)

This is a companion post to Natalie’s one on ivermectin below. There is the pandemic science and the pandemic ‘science’ (the pandemic nonscience) – and then there is the issue of courage in science. I invite readers to put their comments about the science and the nonscience under Natalie’s post, and their comments about courage under mine – insofar, that is, as they can separate the two. The more our society indulges its desire to be safe, the more dangerous it seems to become.

(BTW, I don’t think Dr Wolf abbreviated her last word from the least cowardice to say it – she is rather clear in the essay that follows it – but only so the very people who most need to hear her say it were not protected from seeing her write it by their web-search engines. I refrained from the strong temptation to expand it again mainly from the desire to quote honestly but also for that reason.)

Courage is not just a virtue. It is the form of every virtue under test. Pontius Pilate was merciful – till it became risky. (C.S.Lewis)

Power in the U.S. – that doesn’t make the U.S. powerful

“If you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades, without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn’t want to answer.” (Monica Lewinsky, talking about Bill Clinton, in 2018)

If you want to know what power looks like, watch Democrat after Democrat safely, even smugly, say that Republicans intend to “put y’all back in chains”, to “go back to the days of enslavement and to the days of Jim Crow”, without ever worrying whether they will be asked which party backed slavery and Jim Crow back in the day. (Biden in 2012, Pelosi and others in 2022, lots in the decade between.)

Woke hatred of free speech transitions its proteges into what it forbids you to say

The problem is: I was wrong. Or, to be a bit more accurate, I got things partly right. But then, for the rest, I basically just made it up. In my defence, I wasn’t alone. Everyone was (and is) making it up. That’s how the gender-studies field works. But it’s not much of a defence. I should have known better. If I were to retroactively psychoanalyze myself, I would say that, really, I did know better. And that’s why I was so angry and assertive about what I thought I knew. It was to hide the fact that, at a very basic level, I didn’t have proof for part of what I was saying. (Confessions of a Social Constructionist)

Only in the light of this agenda does it make sense that so-called ‘sex education’ should be advocated to take place throughout the school years “from kindergarten to college” when it could not possibly take that much time to teach basic biological or medical information about sex. What takes that long is a constant indoctrination in new attitudes. (Thomas Sowell, ‘The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy)

It has long been said that nothing is ever true till it’s been officially denied. Today, nothing is ever truer until saying it has been made a thought-crime. Let’s look at an example of how that happens – and I do mean how that happens; what the cause and effect chain is. Before I am ready to explain in my own words, however, this post will take a longish trip though the words and experiences (including some genuine ‘lived experiences’) of others.

A very able friend of mine spent her working life teaching – latterly as headmistress of sizeable schools, some prestigious, others she intentionally chose to be very challenging – before retiring just a little before 2015’s trans-wokery kicked off. Speaking of several decades of secondary school intakes (some two hundred pupils annually), she said (the following summarises a much longer conversation):

In many years, there was a pupil in the 11-year-old intake who was not comfortable with their gender identity. In many years there were none. We never had a year with two. But in many years, there was one.

My policy was to be sympathetic and observant, to avoid making a big thing of it, and to help the pupil be aware that, over the next few years, more bits of their adolescent/adult nature would wake up – including more bits of their sexual nature; that they were going to learn more about themselves, not just about what we taught them, while they were with us.

Invariably, by age 16, these pupils were OK with their gender identity. Some (far from all) were gay. None still thought they were not their biological sex.

Of course, with a much larger sample size, or just the random chance of a different sample, I could be saying ‘almost invariably’ here, but my experience was that not one who thought their gender and body mismatched at age 11 still thought so at age 16.

Since 2015, many schools have been following an exactly opposite policy. Instead of sympathy and support, there is flattery and affirmation. Making a big thing of it is now demanded, not avoided. And you risk cancel culture, or even legal trouble, if you advise an 11-year-old trans-thinking pupil to expect their sexual nature and self-understanding of it to grow (let alone, to wake up) in the next 5 years.

With that for starters, let’s tour some related issues.

The wisdom of a policy depends on what you think the underlying probabilities are. Older readers may recall the Cleveland child-abuse diagnosis scandal back in the mid-1980s. An NHS paediatrician in Cleveland believed the feminist narrative – that patriarchal parents perpetrate lots of child-abuse. Her job was to examine infants of local families referred for the usual childhood diseases. Someone published a very preliminary paper speculating that certain genital signs were consistent with child abuse. She began examining every infant who appeared in her clinic for those signs – and reporting more and more of them as abused. Soon she was reporting every single infant she saw. At first, every case was investigated, every family ripped apart, but after she had reported a total of more than a hundred in the space of a few months, push-back called a halt – and then her left-wing defenders pushed-back against the push back (there were feminist ‘New Statesman’ articles decrying the ‘prejudice’ against her, etc.). In the end, most people in Britain assumed she’d gone nuts (those who did not say her examining of infants and victimising of their parents was itself abuse) but her defenders’ commitment to the narrative warred against that idea. If you refuse to question what the narrative says patriarchal parents do, then you train yourself never to see her rate of detecting child-abuse as absurd. What you think reasonable – and what you think absurd – depends on what you already believe. I did not think her or her supporters honestly mistaken, but I could see their errors were layered (layered in their minds, layered in how they were acquired over years), older absurdities protecting newer ones from looking crazy.

Next, let’s compare the experiences of Heather Barwick (Dear gay community, your kids are hurting) with those of Moira Greyland (The Story of Moira Greyland).

Heather (the original Heather of ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’) describes a caring childhood in which her ‘two mommies’ did not intentionally harm her. When she talked to them years later “but it seems like you’re not listening”, when she uses the analogy of a child whose parents would listen and understand if their child said (for example), “I love you – but your divorce hurt me terribly”, Heather is talking about being hurt by an ideology – ‘abused by it’ one could say – but she is emphatically not talking about abuse in the sense that word ordinarily conjures up.

By contrast, abusively is exactly how Moira Greyland was raised by her parents and their community of “aggressive gay pagans”. She was certainly abused by their ideology – that of the Californian society in which they moved easily, without question – but that takes second place to the fact that her well-connected gay father violated her at age five, at the request of her famous-author mother, who was determined to raise a lesbian child. (Moira describes the mother as significantly the more vile of the two! I’m glad I never took to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s books; it would be distressing in retrospect to have liked them.) Moira knows from her younger self how useful to perpetrators the ideology can be in the minds of its victims. As she grew up, she went through a phase when she utterly refused to see what was done to her as abuse, but was rendered furious by evidence of abuse to other children.*

As Moira grew older still, yet more aware of how her whole circle exploited their ‘anti-prejudice’ ideology to have fun with exploitably-vulnerable youngsters, her opinions evolved further.

What sets gay culture apart from straight culture is the belief that early sex is good and beneficial

Inside the circle Moira grew up in, they knew very well why they wanted this. “Don’t think they don’t know”, she warns (that statistically few children will grow up to lead an alternative lifestyle if left alone in their early teens**). “Don’t think for a second that they DON’T know”, she says, the value to them of

“providing a boy with sexual experiences BEFORE he can be ‘ruined’ by attraction to a girl.”

And she goes on to explain why she says, “Don’t think they don’t know how to”.

Moira also knows how useful to perpetrators the ideology can be in the minds of witnesses and those they talk to, not just victims – and she is not alone in having experienced how the ideology can be used to make a suspicion rebound on any who dare raise it. Patrick Courrielche’s wife was just one of a group of Hollywood wives who, comparing things their kids had said about sleepovers at a certain house, suddeny realised there was a pattern (a pattern, the Courrielches later discovered, that had also been noticed several years earlier by a quite separate group of Hollywood parents). “The impromptu story swap lit off a firestorm.” – at first.

But Mr. and Mrs. Creepy knew something my wife and I didn’t understand at the time – in Hollywood, there’s something more toxic than spooning in bed with other people’s kids. … Word was getting back to us that The Creepies, in a seeming attempt at deflection, were telling anyone that would listen that my wife and I were right wingers – unrelated intel anywhere but in La La Land. Within a matter of weeks, the spotlight had shifted from their creepy behavior to our politics. The turn was startling.

Moira, raised in this ideology, now rejects it wholly. Where Heather only regrets the ideology-caused harm of kindly carers, Moira now regards abuse as that lifestyle’s statistical norm.

So, with these detours done, with these contrasting examples and ideas in mind, what do I think? Here is one last distantly-relevant detour to frame the analysis. An investigator of fraud and theft at UK firms long ago told me:

We go into any case assuming that 30% of the employees are pure as the driven snow, 10% will steal if it is safe to do so, and the firm’s health depends on the other 60%. If the culture acts against crime and rewards honesty then the 60% rally to the 30%, the 10% know and experience being under the eyes of the other 90%, and thefts are rare. But if the culture signals that no-one cares, that it’s a mug’s game to be honest, and you can safely be light-fingered, then slowly, one by one, the 60% rally to the 10%, the 30% (those who don’t leave – or get punished for rocking the boat) learn to look away, and theft becomes the culture, restrained – but only occasionally and inadequately – by the need not to kill the goose. It takes time to reach 70% – but once you do, the journey back takes longer and is a lot harder.

Most people think sex crimes worse than thefts – but also find sexual desires stronger than financial ones. Just for this discussion, I’ll sometimes reuse these 90:10 / 30:70 percentages merely as labels, deferring the question of what the real equivalent percentages may be. As for the 30%, the 10% and the 60% between, let’s call them the uncorrupt, the corrupt and the corruptible.

It sounds like Heather was raised in a 90:10 society. “I know you have been hated”, she says of her carers, in assessing some of their temptations to “not listen”. It sounds like Moira was raised in a 30:70 society. “It looks like he’ll skate on all this”, she says of one member caught in peculiarly egregious activities, since they’ve been creating, promoting, defending and de-stigmatising this narrative for quite a long time. As it went from being twitter-risky, to being career-limiting for teachers and punishable for pupils, then career-ending for some dissenters and physically dangerous for others (even an L or a G or a driven-to-suicide-for-being-off-message T), then a hate-speech crime to question everyone’s right and duty to recruit the underage to the cause (and a hate crime accusation for heterosexual men or lesbian women to refuse sex to an M-to-F trans), it becomes safer to go further – and so the 10% gain adherents.

And that (finally! 🙂 ) leads into my thought for this post: the question “How apt is a given lifestyle to lead to pedophilia” has a non-binary answer.

People did not just fear to discuss whether islamicism could have any statistical relationship to grooming in Rotherham; they felt obliged to deny it and hide it. That fact, that cancelling and criminalising of free speech, explains much of how it was that a larger gang had victimised some 1400 girls, not a smaller gang some 14 or so, before people dared to say it was happening. Making it an islamophobic thought-crime to notice didn’t just delay discovering the crimes that an existing gang were committing anyway. It helped the gang grow and persist – helped more of the corruptible rally to the corrupt. It helped the crime rate grow – taught more of the law-abiding to look away. It made the very thing that it forbade you to say more statistically true – because it forbade you to say it. It ensured that Lord Ahmed of Rotherham (who was finally convicted last month of pedophile assaults on two boys and a girl) would be more representative.

It’s a pattern as old as the Bible. When the elders desired Susannah, each felt timid to be merely a peeping Tom at first, when alone, but they were bold to form a rape gang once they thought they could control the public discourse – till Daniel picked holes in their story. And it’s as new as CNN, who also thought they could control the public discourse – till Elon Musk said he was not perverted enough to appear on CNN.

This history echoes through today’s trans-genderism. Activists spend Scottish taxpayers’ money campaigning to lower the age of consent to 10. Across the pond, the modern age of Dem-endorsed sexual-identity consent is lower – try preschool. And over here (as over there), don’t tell the parents, let alone ask their consent – silence will help Scottish children “thrive”. The jargon-laden public-domain justifications of this may seem to make little sense, but they do teach a lesson – that swift promotion comes to a woman with a wholly faked identity, married to a child-molester, whereas dismissal awaits those off-message.

To dissenters, the lesson is “be afraid” – dissenting has risks, sufficient risks that nowadays, it doesn’t take a village to raise a child; only a child is unafraid to tell the virtual village that the self-identified Empress has no ideological clothes. But to the already-corrupt 10%, and the corruptible 60%, the lesson is “don’t be afraid” – the ruling ideology has your back. Why be a self-denying chump when it makes a pedophile safer to self-identify as trans – when a powerful ideology not only has your back but not-so-secretly thinks that “early sex is good and beneficial”.

Pedophilia does not need this kind of help to occur.

“Both Nicky and her brother Kevin later identified as gay” [the writer grants that, of course, they might have been so anyway]. “They were both troubled, and Kevin committed suicide. Maybe it was an identity crisis, or maybe it was that they were being fucked when they were children.”

But it is easy to foresee that, when the latter speculation is cancel-cultured, the crime will become commoner.

Unfortunately, foreseeing consequences is something the politically-correct have been bad at for a long time. Communism in Russia and China caused bad economic consequences, which caused the communists to punish those who complained about them, which meant few dared, which meant the unaddressed problems got worse, which meant temptations to grumble became stronger, so the communists imposed harsher punishments, so people grumbled about the punishments, and so on and on. The punishment of those who grumbled about the punishments is all most of us remember about Stalin and Mao; not many remember the earlier victims who grumbled about the famine that socialism caused.

Nowadays we have the word ‘transphobia’. Roughly half – that’s an official (FOIA-confirmed) half – of Scotland’s convicted, imprisoned trans are sexual offenders. That’s not 70% – but it’s a lot more than 10%, let alone than before legal changes made it not just ‘offensive’ but an actual offence to doubt an offender’s self-identity. Do locked-up rapists identify as trans because they feel like women? Or because they feel like raping women (both inmates and warders)? Do others identify as trans because they feel like women? Or because they feel like serving their sentences in the company of women? Political correctness requires you believe the first explanation. Political correctness requires you believe it is transphobic to consider the second explanation. And in Scotland, so do the official rules and the officials’ attitudes demand it even more stringently than similar officials in Rotherham demanded you avoid islamophobia. Down south in England, one might wonder (though AFAICS officially no-one does) if the headline “84% increase in female-perpetrated child sexual abuse” is related to over a third of them having only recently reclassified themselves as members of the fair sex.

Like the Cleveland doctor and her allies, if someone believes sex is just social construct, and destroying patriarchal indoctrination is merely exposing a long-existent reality, then it affects their understanding. Even if they let themselves notice people who identify as trans and thereby get a pension, a sports trophy or the darker advantages I mention above, they will assume such cases are unrepresentative, exceptions that prove their rule. But if you think the real incidence of a true trans state is very low – if, for example, you want evidence before thinking that the brain’s chance of diverging from its body’s sex is so very different from the observable chance of any other one organ in an otherwise normal-appearing body – then you’ll think the few real trans likely to be overwhelmed (in numbers and in the public eye) by people the woke indoctrinate into it and people who see the opportunities created by woke control of speech.

Remember the two quotes that head this post. Hating free speech may seem secondary to the woke, just a necessary means to enforce the dogma until its truth is grasped by the ignorant masses. But hating free speech will always become primary. Hating free speech determines who joins the movement and who leaves it. Hating free speech will determine the statistical make-up of the self-identified trans. Where this came from can be debated. Where it’s going can be deduced.

___

* When I first read of ‘dangerous faggot’ Milo Yiannopoulos a few years back, I saw an analogy with his state then. Milo had exposed three pedophiles, but gave an interview in which he nevertheless refused to regard the older man who initiated his own underage gay experiences as an abuser.

** Moira (unlike me) avoids weakening her writing style with the statistical qualifications I occasionally put in my summary of her post. As regards the inner thoughts of her own vile relatives and their circle, I suspect she is 100% right to do so – that is, she is right to describe them without qualification in the sense that they don’t care. And it would be the height of impertinence for the woke to complain that she applies this style more generally, given how they write. But Niall pedant Kilmartin inserted a couple for the benefit of Samizdata’s readers.

Why did the media choose to geld themselves?

From the late 1960s until about 2010 the “liberal” media of the English-speaking world were ideally placed to propagate their values. Sources such as the BBC, the “Big Three” American TV networks, the Times of London and the New York Times were widely seen as scarcely having any ideology beyond apple-pie sentiments about liberal democracy and an endearing pride in their own role. Newcomers such as CNN upset the balance of power but did not upset this perception that what they were providing was “just the facts, ma’am”, albeit with snazzier graphics. Then along came social media, Facebook and Twitter and the rest – another eruption in terms of technique, but they still saw themselves and were seen by others as media platforms. The very word implies a level playing field. They were all blessed with something like invisibility. To be able to mix your message in with the news and spread it without being seen to do so, without being seen as an actor in your own right at all – propagandists of past eras would have sold their souls to be in that position.

Now, of course, as Glenn Greenwald put it,

…we’re on a path where we’re going to have two of everything, depending on one’s political ideology: segregated websites, financial systems, even charitable giving, the result of systematically banning non-liberals.

Edit: ‘Tony in London’ comments with an interesting parallel,

Greenwald’s observation looks [like] the pillarisation that used to define Dutch society. Almost everyone identified with one of three pillars (Catholic, Protestant, Social democrat) and this would determine which school or university they would attend, which newspaper they would read, which radio station they would listen to, which trade union and political party would represent them etc.

The Wikipedia article about verzuiling in the Netherlands and Belgium is here.

Distrust is the inevitable result of censorship. Oh, and announcing Peak 2021.

Doctors Fiona Godlee and Kamran Abbasi, editors of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), have written an open letter from from the BMJ to Mark Zuckerberg:

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

We are Fiona Godlee and Kamran Abbasi, editors of The BMJ, one of the world’s oldest and most influential general medical journals. We are writing to raise serious concerns about the “fact checking” being undertaken by third party providers on behalf of Facebook/Meta.

In September, a former employee of Ventavia, a contract research company helping carry out the main Pfizer covid-19 vaccine trial, began providing The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails. These materials revealed a host of poor clinical trial research practices occurring at Ventavia that could impact data integrity and patient safety. We also discovered that, despite receiving a direct complaint about these problems over a year ago, the FDA did not inspect Ventavia’s trial sites.

The BMJ commissioned an investigative reporter to write up the story for our journal. The article was published on 2 November, following legal review, external peer review and subject to The BMJ’s usual high level editorial oversight and review.[1]

But from November 10, readers began reporting a variety of problems when trying to share our article. Some reported being unable to share it. Many others reported having their posts flagged with a warning about “Missing context … Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.” Those trying to post the article were informed by Facebook that people who repeatedly share “false information” might have their posts moved lower in Facebook’s News Feed. Group administrators where the article was shared received messages from Facebook informing them that such posts were “partly false.”

Readers were directed to a “fact check” performed by a Facebook contractor named Lead Stories.[2]

We find the “fact check” performed by Lead Stories to be inaccurate, incompetent and irresponsible.

— It fails to provide any assertions of fact that The BMJ article got wrong

— It has a nonsensical title: “Fact Check: The British Medical Journal Did NOT Reveal Disqualifying And Ignored Reports Of Flaws In Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Trials”

— The first paragraph inaccurately labels The BMJ a “news blog”

Do read the whole thing, which is quite an important step in both fighting censorship by social media and in fighting Covid-19. These aims are not in opposition. I stopped my excerpt there for what some may call a trivial reason: to leap to the defence of blogging. While I sympathise with the irritation felt by the editors of the BMJ at hearing their venerable journal, founded in 1840, described as a “news blog” I have to say that there are some blogs I would trust more than some newspapers, even some older than the BMJ. For instance I found out about this matter via Not the Bee.

Yes, that’s 2021, folks, when a link from the “truth is stranger than fiction” non-satirical spinoff of an American Christian satirical website (even as a Christian myself, those are weird words to put next to each other) takes me to an open letter from the editors of the august British Medical Journal in which they angrily respond to a so-called “fact checker” working for a social media site who thinks the best way to combat the conspiracy theory that “they” might be suppressing news about inadequacies in the testing of vaccines is to suppress news about inadequacies in the testing of vaccines.

ξ Who Must Not Be Named

As explained by the Wikipedia article on the official nomenclature for variants of SARS-CoV-2, the use of letters of the Greek alphabet to refer to the different variants of Covid-19 was chosen by the World Health Organization specifically to avoid referring to variants by their country of origin, as practised by certain naughty former US presidents. We have had the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta, Iota, Kappa, Lambda, Mu and Nu variants.

I guess the WHO didn’t anticipate the list would go past thirteen.

“Omicron variant reaches Britain”, reports today’s Sunday Times.

Only the fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet is not Omicron. It’s Xi.

Edit: In the comments TomJ says that actually two letters have been skipped. The variant all the papers were calling “Nu” the day before yesterday was hastily renamed “Omicron”. Allegedly they jumped over “Nu” because it sounds like “new” and they jumped over have “Xi” because it is a common surname, a story to which I might give an iota of credence if it came from someone other than the World Health Organisation. The excellent investigation by the Sunday Times Insight Team, China, the WHO and the power grab that fuelled a pandemic, is unfortunately behind a paywall, but here is an excerpt:

Our investigation reveals today how a concerted campaign over many years by Beijing to grab power inside the WHO appears to have fatally compromised its ability to respond to the crisis. It raises serious concerns about the extent of Beijing’s influence over the WHO and its director-general, and how this undermined the organisation’s capacity — and willingness — to take the steps necessary to avert a global pandemic. Its leadership put China’s economic interests before public health concerns. The results have been nothing short of catastrophic.

The Xi variant, indeed. Pity there isn’t a Greek letter called Pu.

The Scarlet Letter

Although Boris’ letter is written in the most friendly and amiable manner towards Emmanuel and the EU generally, and its references to earlier discussions between them are phrased in a very positive way, I can make a guess at why Boris thought continuing the discussion somewhat more in the public gaze was a good idea. I can likewise make a guess at why this allowing the public a look at what is happening made Macron furious enough to cancel today the meetings agreed to yesterday.

However that is not the point of my post (but commenters are welcome to spread themselves on that subject if they wish). I want to discuss the letter itself. Overtly, everything in it is about the wicked people smugglers and their poor trafficked victims. I was reminded of ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric, typically eager to focus blame on evil pushers, not victimised addicts.

In the war on drugs, that way of looking at things is not always and only spin.

– I knew a woman whose life took a very different turn from anything she’d expected. She chanced to encounter a young drug addict – let’s call her Moira (not her name) in this post – whose family and friends, after trying very hard, had finally despaired of her. It became indisputably clear to my friend that either someone would work a miracle or Moira would be dead within a few months at most. Where ninety-nine in a hundred would have walked by on the other side, my friend took Moira into her own house and gave her that unconditional love that is so very much more often preached than practised. A few months later, Moira was clean – and stayed so. My friend went back to her old life, thinking, “that was weird” – but less than a year later she was confronted by a family quite literally on their knees before her, begging her to do for their daughter the miracle she had achieved for Moira. They were not the last to do so. Thus, gradually, not intending it, she discovered her vocation was to redeem drug addicts, one at a time. She had her successes and her failures. In the end, she become someone whom social work directors and suchlike government figures consulted – though she seemed to feel her hard-won, very tough-minded experience was more apt to shock than to change their fashionable theories.

– For years, a former neighbour went with his evangelical church group into Glasgow on Saturday nights, offering coffee and food, and encouragement to get out of that life, to any hookers-cum-addicts willing to visit their bus. There were funny incidents – one girl (still in her hooker’s outfit) came to his church, threw her arms around him and kissed him, gushing about how he had (physically and morally) saved her. “Does you wife know about this kind of thing?”, asked a staid member of the congregation. There were horrible incidents. Week after week, one girl came to argue them down, to tell the other girls not to fall for all this Jesus stuff. Then, one evening, when others were momentarily elsewhere, she quietly told him, “I know you think I’m horrible and hopeless, but actually I am listening”. A week later, she was dead – murdered. She was a nobody in her world – but knew too much to be let leave it. Where my friend thought he’d been urging her to resist temptation and failing – actually, she’d been fighting the temptation to risk trying.

These of course, are the exceptions – the miracles. We all know who else populate the drug addict world: people who give convincing impressions of having sold their souls and paid up; misery that loves company and inflicts it with psychopathic indifference; people who stopped being victims long ago. In between, there are those who are simultaneously both. One Saturday night, an honest policeman asked my old neighbour, “Why do you waste your time on such people?” – and had no lack of illustrative examples.

It’s the same in the people-trafficked world. The trafficked are a complicit commodity – and you can place great emphasis on both those words. This guy came to the UK to loot the welfare state and steal the rest of what he’d promised to his traffickers – knowing that his family back in Syria were his traffickers’ security. When being caught delayed his ability to pay them, they pimped out his wife and kids – whereupon he gave a strong proof that he was genuinely upset about that. Like some German officer late in WWII, aware that too swift a surrender might be revenged on his family, or some Soviet cold-war agent of influence who knew with certainty what Stalin would do to his family if he defected, the trafficked can be simultaneously enemies of the UK and victims of its more powerful enemies.

With that background under our belt, let’s return to the letter. I don’t care for the cautious deference Boris’ phrasing shows to “right-think” (i.e. left-think), with all the blame thrown on the traffickers and none on the illegal migrants. But the letter does challenge the far filthier PC narrative of ‘asylum seekers’, with the true nature of this political, commercial and above-all criminal operation not even mentioned to deny it, but just insolently ignored. Against that, I welcome the publicity Macron’s tantrum will give Boris’ letter. It’s a step towards wider understanding; may it start a journey.

Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted

“Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty after fatally shooting two in Kenosha unrest”, the Guardian reluctantly reports.

Good. Not because it makes Guardian reporters cry, but because Mr Rittenhouse was quite clearly acting in self defence.

Most relevantly, scroll down this piece by Nellie Bowles, formerly of the New York Times, writing in the Substack account of Bari Weiss, also formerly of the New York Times, shedding light on what and when readers of that publication got to hear about the Kenosha riots:

A note on Kenosha in light of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Until quite recently, the mainstream liberal argument was that burning down businesses for racial justice was both good and healthy. Burnings allowed for the expression of righteous rage, and the businesses all had insurance to rebuild.

When I was at the New York Times, I went to Kenosha to see about this, and it turned out to be not true. The part of Kenosha that people burned in the riots was the poor, multi-racial commercial district, full of small, underinsured cell phone shops and car lots. It was very sad to see and to hear from people who had suffered. Beyond the financial loss, small storefronts are quite meaningful to their owners and communities, which continuously baffles the Zoom-class.

Something odd happened with that story after I filed it. It didn’t run. It sat and sat.

Now it could be that the piece was just bad. I’ve sent in bad ones before, and I’ll do it again. A few weeks after I filed, an editor told me: The Times wouldn’t be able to run my Kenosha insurance debacle piece until after the 2020 election, so sorry.

There were a variety of reasons given—space, timing, tweaks here or there.
Eventually the election passed. Biden was in the White House. And my Kenosha story ran. Whatever the reason for holding the piece, covering the suffering after the riots was not a priority. The reality that brought Kyle Rittenhouse into the streets was one we reporters were meant to ignore. The old man who tried to put out a blaze at a Kenosha store had his jaw broken. The top editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer had to resign in June 2020 amid staff outcry for publishing a piece with the headline, “Buildings Matter, Too.”

If you lived in those neighborhoods on fire, you were not supposed to get an extinguisher. The proper response — the only acceptable response — was to see the brick and mortar torn down, to watch the fires burn and to say: thank you.

Update: Within the last few minutes Bari Weiss herself posted this commentary on the case: “The Media’s Verdict on Kyle Rittenhouse – Why so many got this story so wrong.”

Here is what I thought was true about Kyle Rittenhouse during the last days of August 2020 based on mainstream media accounts: The 17-year-old was a racist vigilante. I thought he drove across state lines, to Kenosha, Wisc., with an illegally acquired semi-automatic rifle to a town to which he had no connection. I thought he went there because he knew there were Black Lives Matter protests and he wanted to start a fight. And I thought that by the end of the evening of August 25, 2020, he had done just that, killing two peaceful protestors and injuring a third.

It turns out that account was mostly wrong.

[…]

This wasn’t a disinformation campaign waged by Reddit trolls or anonymous Twitter accounts. It was one pushed by the mainstream media and sitting members of Congress for the sake of an expedient political narrative—a narrative that asked people to believe, among other unrealities, that blocks of burning buildings somehow constituted peaceful protests.

Another update: Glenn Greenwald tweets, “Just look at how many people were radically deceived about this case – and still are! – including people paid to follow and “report on” these matters for a living” and illustrates his point with a hilarious screenshot of the Independent‘s front page of a few minutes ago. Somebody must have told them, they’ve since corrected it. But, c’mon man, imagine the Independent‘s reporters of all people relying on the Independent as a source.

Why the tabloids are the choice of adults

The Daily Mail reports, EXCLUSIVE: Suicide bomber who died when his device blew up outside Liverpool hospital was pizza chef, 32, who fled Middle East and converted to Christianity at cathedral ‘he wanted to attack’ and was once arrested for carrying a knife

I was much taken by this comment from someone called “SorcerousSinner” on the normally left wing subreddit /r/ukpolitics:

The Daily Mail is the best news source for stuff like this because they have the least restraint and just publish all the info, and rumours. Footage of the killings. Fake news. Everything.

Broadsheet journalists are always concerned with carefully steering us, the dumb rabble, towards what they believe we should believe

So, the mail is the choice of adults who think they can handle the responsibility of getting all the info, possibly fake info.

Halleluyah! Antiviral drugs are coming (and remember, Don’t mention Ivermectin!)

Now the UK has approved an anti-viral drug, early treatment is on the official agenda (on this side of the pond at least). Also on this side of the pond is a Dr John Campbell, whose amiable video manner (like his bedside manner, I expect) avoids overawing his audience with the impression that he already knows everything, so need never be told anything. It’s a manner he seems to think some ‘fact-checkers’ could use. ‘Alternative Facts’ is the title of his video response to Facebook’s putting a…

Missing Context

Independent fact-checkers say this could mislead people.

…warning on the video he made last week about similarities between the pharmacodynamic mechanism of Ivermectin and that of the new Pfizer antiviral.

He learned of the ‘misleading’ fact-check (the misleading ‘fact-check’) from some followers who tried to share his earlier video on Facebook. After reviewing how, uh, ‘well’ qualified the fact-checkers were, he follows Natalie’s wise advice to brief his side properly, giving the fact-checkers a tick or half-mark wherever he can, before moving good-humouredly to reasons why it was nevertheless a bit arrogant of them to call it a fact-check.

To see the video, click this link and then the ‘Alternative Facts’ icon (second along in the list as of today). You can turn on auto-generated subtitles if you prefer reading to hearing, but if you like mild dry English humour you may be happy enough to listen to him.