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]

REVEALED!

Revealed: Tory MPs and commentators who joined banned app Parler

Why do Americans think the media might be hiding things from them? Let’s try asking Tony Bobulinski on Twitter.

“Why does the US fall for conspiracy theories?” asks Daniel Finkelstein in the Times.

QAnon, the online conspiracy theory to which many Trump supporters subscribe, is like fan fiction, with endless riffs on Trump and increasingly bizarre plots about the skulduggery of his enemies. The contributors to this script have the pleasure of being the heroes of it, setting out to cleanse the nation. Like Matt Damon in The Bourne Identity, they have woken and are gradually peeling away layers of deception. The deep state behaves as it does in every film but will prove no match for the hero.

The deep state behaves as it does in every film – As an aside, that, the endless stream of conspiracy thrillers put out by Hollywood, will do as Explanation No.1. The scriptwriters of these movies were unable to conceive of the cabal of senior people in the US government, the CIA, the FBI, and the military as anything other than right wing, but the imagination of the American people is not so limited.

A personal best: I have digressed even before I began. The main point of this post is… ah, **** it, I already said it:

By censoring the Hunter Biden story the MSM has destroyed its ability to convince Americans there was no vote fraud.

By censoring the Hunter Biden story the MSM has also hampered its ability to convince Americans there is no “cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats, Hollywood celebrities and billionaires” which “runs the world while engaging in pedophilia, human trafficking and the harvesting of a supposedly life-extending chemical from the blood of abused children.”

It has also hampered its ability to convince Americans, and not only them, that they should be vaccinated against coronavirus. Hitherto the English-speaking countries plus the Nordics have been somewhat less prone to vaccine conspiracy theories than people in most of Western or Eastern Europe. I expect that to change, and that change will kill people. That is what happens when the boy cries wolf too many times.

Lord Finkelstein (Note for foreign readers: I make no political point; he is a life peer) continues movingly:

The second thing this analysis provides is a warning. Next week Granta will publish a book called The Fatherland and the Jews. It consists of two pamphlets published in Germany by my grandfather Alfred Wiener in 1919 and 1924. He alerts his readers to the danger posed by conspiracy theories, giving as an example the falsehood that the Kaiser had been a Jew because a (non-existent) affair between Queen Victoria and a doctor called Wolf allowed Jewish blood to enter the royal family. One day, he believed, such theories would lead to violence.

In the same way, the blurring between fiction and reality is a terrible danger to Americans. As the Holocaust historian Timothy Snyder puts it, “post-truth is pre-fascism”. For years the mob shared conspiracy stories with each other and then, no longer able to distinguish between fantasy and reality, they used guns and violent incursion to provide their own denouement to the plot.

Yes, false conspiracy theories are dangerous. One of the best defences a polity has against them is a reasonable level of trust in the authorities and the media. In the long run the only way to gain this trust is to be worthy of it, i.e. not to lie and not to hide the truth. By their promiscuous propagation of any story, however baseless, that might harm the Republicans and their enthusiastic censorship of any story, however credible, that might make the Democrats look bad, the American Woke Media, old and new, have lost this trust. As a result reality ensues, to quote TV Tropes. Or if you prefer the same truth in an older format, take your quote from William Caxton’s summary at the end of his retelling of the fable of the boy who cried wolf, “men bileve not lyghtly hym whiche is knowen for a lyer”.

The intellectivore

I want you to observe two things about this piece by Simon Jenkins in today’s Guardian:

“Why the Democrats should not impeach Donald Trump”

1) It is quite reasonable, yet Simon Jenkins wrote it.

2) It is obvious that something is consuming the commenters’ reason.

I should have known. Simon Jenkins ate their minds. His opinion pieces are no more than the bait by which he ensnares unfortunate denizens of the mundane universe, who are driven by some primaeval attraction like that of the moth to the flame into commenting at the Guardian website. Once they are thus fatally linked to him across the dimensions, he, or rather it, feasts upon their intellects, leaving them as mindless husks blind to their own political interests who can only repeat with idiot vindictiveness whatever slogan last caught their attention.

Either that or Guardian readers were like that anyway.

A land battle and a sea battle – in a book about Beethoven

I’ve been reading a three-volume fictionalised life of Beethoven, by, of all people, John Suchet, whom most people probably know only as a television newsreader.

The way Suchet tells the story, Beethoven was an oddball from the start. I recall doing a posting here about how Beethoven’s deafness prevented him from having a normal life, as a star pianist, but Suchet’s Beethoven was always set on getting shot of being merely a talented performer, and on becoming a great composer.

Beethoven’s friends and supporters had to put up with a lot at the hands of the irascible genius. They took all the angry insults and demands because, when it came to it, they shared Beethoven’s high opinion of his musical genius, and because they knew also what miseries Beethoven himself had to contend with.

Beethoven’s deafness was no mere inability to hear all the sounds he was surrounded by. It was also the presence of other often very loud sounds inside his own head, often painfully so.

And just to put a tin lid on everything, throughout a lot of Beethoven’s adult life, he had to contend with the consequences of war. Napoleon’s armies took possession of Beethoven’s city of birth, Bonn, and then of the city where Beethoven was based for most of his adult life, Vienna. Quite aside from the usual deaths and disruptions this inflicted upon the Viennese, this played havoc with Beethoven’s various plans to get rich and thereby achieve the freedom he yearned for to just compose his music.

In connection with some of this fighting, Suchet, like the journalist he is, quotes a couple of stories that the Wiener Zeitung published, on a particularly black day for Vienna, in October 1805.

The first concerned the disastrous battle of Ulm:

OUR BRAVE FORCES FACE IGNOMINY!

On 20th October 1805, outside the city of Ulm in southern Bavaria, some twenty thousand of our brave Imperial soldiers, fighting for the honour of His Imperial Majesty, stood and faced the forces of the French imposter Bonaparte, His Excellency General Mack von Leiberich in command.

By an entirely dishonourable manoeuvre, against all the rules of war, the French succeeded in surrounding the Imperial Austrian army.

It is our sad duty to report that General Mack was forced to surrender his army of twenty thousand to the French, handing over the illustrious colours of our brave forebears. The French have taken forty-nine thousand prisoners, whose release His Imperial Majesty is making strenuous efforts to secure.

The latest intelligence from the battle front is that the French are marching east towards our border.

We call on all able-bodied citizens to make preparations to resist the army of the French. The same Bastion which resisted the Turkish invader a century and a quarter ago is being made secure and our civil forces are drilling on the Glacis in readiness to repulse the invader.

John Suchet then adds that at the bottom of this one page, that being all that the Wiener Zeitung could manage on this particular day, there was, in considerably smaller print, a briefer item, which was, Suchet says, “largely ignored by the people of Vienna”. This concerned an insignificant sea battle, somewhere or other off the coast of Spain:

One day after the ignominy suffered by our forces at Ulm, a Franco-Spanish fleet was defeated by a British fleet under the command of His Lordship Nelson off the Cape of Trafalgar.

So, good news, surely. But the Wiener Zeitung cannot force itself to deceive its readers:

This victory for the allies, inglorious and shameful as it is for the enemy, will have no effect on the progress of the war on land.

There you have it. The Continental European attitude to the relative importance of sea power and land power. It took quite a while for that little sea battle to result in the undermining of Napoleon’s power, but it definitely had consequences.

The Samizdata world view is more than a mere preference for navies over armies. But that contrast is definitely part of the story.

I don’t think a German or Austrian author, writing about Beethoven, would have pointed up this particular contrast the way Suchet does. And does, I think you will agree, rather gleefully, despite him ending his chapter with that second quote.

I am shocked, shocked to find that there has been a political riot in the US

Biden victory confirmed after deadly attack on Capitol

Note the convenient unidirectionality of the word “deadly” in that BBC report.

A writing challenge for you: how would these events be reported if those who stormed the Capitol had been doing it in support of Black Lives Matter?

Up like a rocket, down like a stick: a Covid tale from the BBC

2.3 million people have listened to Matron Laura Duffel’s alarming account of a system overwhelmed:

2:00 PM, Jan 1, 2021.

BBC Radio 5 Live
@bbc5live

“It was minimally affecting children in the first wave… we now have a whole ward of children here.”

Laura Duffel, a matron in a London Hospital, tells Adrian Chiles about the Covid situation in hospitals.

The tweet in reply sent at 8:21 PM, Jan 2, 2021 by Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health saying, “As of now we are not seeing significant pressure from Covid-19 in paediatrics across the UK” has garnered less interest, though that may change. It includes a link to this article on the BBC website:

Doctors have sought to reassure parents that there has been no increase in the severity of Covid-19 cases among children because of the new variant.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said children’s wards are not seeing any “significant pressure” from Covid-19.

It comes after London hospital matron Laura Duffel told BBC Radio 5 Live that wards were full of children with coronavirus.

Doctors have denied this is the case.

Professor Russell Viner, president of the RCPCH, said: “Children’s wards are usually busy in winter. As of now we are not seeing significant pressure from Covid-19 in paediatrics across the UK.

“As cases in the community rise there will be a small increase in the number of children we see with Covid-19, but the overwhelming majority of children and young people have no symptoms or very mild illness only.

“The new variant appears to affect all ages and, as yet, we are not seeing any greater severity amongst children and young people.”

Dr Ronny Cheung, a consultant paediatrician at Evelina Children’s Hospital, in London, added: “I’ve been the on-call consultant in a London children’s hospital this week. Covid is rife in hospitals, but not among children – and that is corroborated by my colleagues across London.”

Prof Calum Semple said that he spoke to colleagues on intensive care units and “not one of them has seen a surge in sick children coming into critical care and we’re not hearing of a rise in cases in the wards either”.

“We’re not seeing a different spectrum of disease in children, certainly we’re not seeing a surge in cases,” Prof Semple told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

Dr Liz Whittaker, a consultant paediatrician at St Mary’s Hospital London, said “only small numbers” of children who test positive for Covid develop severe disease and these are “within expected levels” at the moment.

“I continue to worry for my elders, not my kids,” Dr Whittaker added.

Meanwhile, Dr Lee Hudson, from Great Ormond Street Hospital, said that none of his paediatric colleagues at hospital across London were reporting higher rates of sick children because of Covid but said that parents should never be afraid to seek medical help if they are worried about their children.

The Daily Mail says, “Ms Duffel is a vocal campaigner for nurses who has appeared on Good Morning Britain on a number of occasions”.

Edit: Having seen some of the comments made against Ms Duffel on Twitter, I want to add that I very much doubt she intended to misinform people. It is far more likely that she saw a local spike in children getting Covid-19 and mentally leapt to generalise it because oncoming catastrophe fitted her model of the world.

Enraged is not a good way to end the year

So I will post this without comment:

The New York Times Helped a Vindictive Teen Destroy a Classmate Who Uttered a Racial Slur When She Was 15

May better times lie ahead for all reading this. It is a relief that Brexit is done. Boris’s deal is far from ideal, but there were times during the last four years when I would have counted us lucky to get the referendum vote honoured at all.

Happy New Year!

This proves what I always said about Brexit!

Says absolutely everyone.

UK faces Brexit limbo after talks deadline missed

Britain risks weeks without trade transition plans from 1 January after missing EU parliament Sunday deadline

– The Guardian last night.

Europe shuts door on Britain over fears of mutant virus

• Countries ban UK travellers as Covid cases rise by 50% in a week • Health secretary admits new strain is ‘out of control’

Britain’s border with France was closed last night with all travellers and lorry drivers blocked from leaving and the EU ready to ban all arrivals to the bloc.

Fears were mounting of gridlock on roads in Kent as the Channel Tunnel said that its services would be suspended at 11pm yesterday amid an international scramble to quarantine Britain over a faster-spreading variant of coronavirus.

Flights, ferries and trains from Britain are expected to be banned by Brussels after a wave of European countries including Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland implemented bans on arrivals. Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany and Sweden also announced travel bans. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, said no flights from the UK would be allowed to land for 72 hours, a move which came into effect at midnight.

– The Times this morning.

“Hey, Brexshitters, Macron just proved that being a member of the EU does not mean you lose control of your borders. This just proves how idiotic your “sovereignty” argument was.”

“Hey, Remoaners, all the awful things you said were going to happen if we left the EU without a deal are happening anyway. Might as well make it official.”

P.S. This proves what I always said about Covid, too.

The interim director of Liberty comes near to defending liberty

While Gracie Mae Bradley does not go all the way, her opinion piece in the Guardian, “How the British government is trying to crush our right to protest”, does get close to an actual defence of liberty.

In 2020 each of us has faced criminalisation for leaving the house without a “reasonable excuse”. Police have used surveillance drones to shame people walking in national parks. And countless people have been wrongly criminalised under the rushed and draconian Coronavirus Act, which also contains powers to force people to quarantine, close our borders, and even postpone some elections. And in all of this, parliament has been sidelined, with some lockdown laws, which have regulated aspects of our daily lives to a minute degree, coming into force at the stroke of a minister’s pen, with parliament given an opportunity to vote only weeks later.

Here is the moment when she defends the right to protest of those with whom she disagrees:

Across the board, the response from the government and police has raised cause for serious concern. Scores of people have been arrested for taking to the streets to protest against lockdown restrictions.

It was never going to last. The brief encounter with libertarian principle over, she marks her return to respectability by reciting the names of the holy things.

We could be disheartened, but instead we should look to the many powerful protest movements that have persisted nonetheless – from school climate strikers, to opponents of the exam “mutant algorithm”, to people fighting for racial equality. It’s up to all of us to protect our hard-won freedoms: 2021 is going to be hard enough for the government – it should drop this protest bill before it sees the light of day.

Indeed it should. But one does not have to agree with the climate strikers or BLM to think so.

His offence is “failure to condemn”

“Tory George Eustice fails to condemn Millwall fans who booed players for taking the knee”, the Mirror reports.

A Tory Cabinet minister has failed to condemn Millwall fans who booed players for taking the knee in support of black people’s rights.

George Eustice said people who express a view on fighting racism should be “respected”, but stopped short of directly condemning the outburst at Millwall’s ground The Den yesterday.

Millwall FC today said it was “dismayed and saddened” after some fans booed players who briefly took the knee at the start of a match against Derby County.

The gesture has been followed by footballers up and down the country in solidarity with black people and the Black Lives Matter movement.

But Tory minister Mr Eustice today said Black Lives Matter was “actually a political movement” which is different to “standing up for racial equality.”

The Times report on the same story is behind a paywall, but the most interesting thing about it is not the report itself but the readers’ comments. An early version of the story was posted on the Times website last night. That version contained the words,

A cabinet minister has ignored majority opinion by describing Black Lives Matter as a “political movement”

Of the twenty most popular comments, ten questioned that now-vanished statement and all twenty supported Eustice. In fact one would have to scroll past a lot more than twenty before finding anyone who did not agree with Eustice. The twenty-first most popular comment was by someone going by the name of “Bogbrush” who asked, “Do all footballers now have to do this before every game, forever?”

Another commenter, “Middlesbrough Man”, said that, “Interestingly my team does not ‘take the knee’ on the recommendation of our captain, who recommends community action not political gestures”. Middlesbrough’s captain is Britt Assombalonga, who also plays for the national team of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

By censoring the Hunter Biden story the MSM has destroyed its ability to convince Americans there was no vote fraud

As they say on TV Tropes, “Nice job breaking it, Hero!”

In 2018 Christine Blasey Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh of committing sexual assault approximately 36 years previously, when he was a teenager. There were no witnesses to the alleged assault. We have only her word for it that the two of them ever met. The people she said she had talked to about it at the time said they had no such memory. She could not say in whose house or even in which year the alleged assault had happened.

The mainstream media devoted thousands of hours to her story.

In 2020 Tony Bobulinski accused Joe Biden of having lied when he (Joe Biden) said that he was not involved in the business dealings of his son, Hunter Biden, and had never even discussed them. Tony Bobulinski is unquestionably Hunter Biden’s former business partner. There are thousands of emails exchanged between them on Hunter Biden’s laptop. (That it was Hunter Biden’s laptop has never been denied by the Biden campaign.) The accusation relates to events only a few years ago. Tony Bobulinski has specified to the hour the exact occasions when he says that he spoke with Joe Biden about Hunter Biden’s business deals in China and the Ukraine.

The great names of the mainstream media refused to even look.

The Managing Editor for News of America’s National Public Radio spoke for American journalism when he said,

“We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions.”

The tabloid New York Post which broke the story was censored by Twitter and Facebook.

First thousands, then millions of people from America and around the world went to look at the NYP story and found their way blocked. Those who tried to share it got the message, “Your Tweet couldn’t be sent because the link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Visit our Help Center to learn more.”

Now, as some of you may have heard, the Americans have held an election. The outcome is contested. There are claims of voter fraud. Project Veritas has videos. This comment by Shlomo Maistre contains seven links to tweets discussing strange events at counting sites across the US. He says other tweets he bookmarked have disappeared. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole… “Some or all of the content shared in this Tweet is disputed and might be misleading about how to participate in an election or another civic process. Learn more.” “In line with the exceptional measures that we are taking during this period of heightened tension, we have removed the Group ‘Stop the Steal.’” One blogger even found himself abruptly banned from Facebook for sharing links about dubious fact checkers in a private message.

The mainstream media in the US and their chums in the UK and elsewhere (the whole lot of them are practically one entity by now) would really, really like to convince Americans that there has been no vote fraud.

Yeah, right. I am sure that the press will investigate this story with all the fearless diligence it showed in investigating Hunter’s emails.

The BBC used to at least pretend to be impartial

The current BBC News headline is:

LIVE US vote goes to wire as Trump falsely claims fraud

The URL above is just the standard https://www.bbc.co.uk/news. The content to which it links will change. I have tried to insert a screenshot of the current headline below. I am very tired. My apologies if I have got it wrong:

How does the BBC know Trump’s claim is false? Has it carried out an investigation?

Not that I deny that the BBC has longstanding expertise when it comes to matters of fraud:

Princess Diana’s brother accuses BBC of ‘whitewash’ over faked bank statements that led to historic Panorama interview