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]

When dangerous fantasies come true

Famously, while Nigel Farage was debating Nick Clegg in April 2014, the latter said that the idea of an EU army was a “dangerous fantasy”. Ed Miliband repeated the line a year later.

Three days ago, the man who was the EU’s Brexit Guy – the EU Parliament’s former Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt MEP – tweeted,

BREAKING — Conference on the Future of Europe approves radical overhaul of the EU: end of unanimity, abolishment of veto’s, launch of Joint Armed Forces of the Union, transnational lists and many other reforms…

Now, just because the Conference on the Future of Europe says a thing, that does not necessarily mean it will come to pass. Wikipedia describes the Conference thus:

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a proposal of the European Commission and the European Parliament, announced at the end of 2019, with the aim of looking at the medium to long term future of the EU and what reforms should be made to its policies and institutions. It is intended that the Conference should involve citizens, including a significant role for young people, civil society, and European institutions as equal partners and last for two years. It will be jointly organised by the European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission.

In other words, the usual cheerleaders duly led the cheers. Nonetheless the very fact that the “young people, civil society and European institutions” who took part in the Conference were pre-selected for their obedience means that when they say they want an army that means that the leaders of the EU now want an army.

Discussion point: Watching Clegg and Farage spar over Vladimir Putin’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine, does anyone feel a newfound sympathy with Clegg’s position? These are dangerous times. It is no longer a matter for us in the UK to decide, but maybe the EU does need an army.

If it is OK to hit someone who insults your wife, is it OK to hit someone who insults your religion?

The controversy on Will Smith hitting Chris Rock after the latter made a distasteful joke about his wife’s hair loss is interesting because it cuts across party lines. Though most politicians have made statements disapproving of Smith, some traditional conservatives and radical left wingers have both spoken in support of him. To take but two of many examples:

– Representative Ayanna Pressley (D) said, in a now deleted tweet “#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults.”

– Simon Hoare MP (C) said, “I’d just hope if someone thought it in good taste to make a joke at the expense of a medical condition of my wife then I’d get up and lamp him.”

Me, I support Rock. His joke was cruel. Smith had a right to be angry. But I would rather not set the precedent – or rather go back to the precedent – that words justify violence. For why, see the title of this post.

Gun rights are women’s rights

Terrifying moment an off-duty female police officer shoots dead an attempted robber who leapt out of a car and charged at her while she was walking alone in Brazil.

Three years ago yesterday.

Found via Some Welder on Twitter, from whom I also borrowed the title of this post.

“The attacker was shot dead by a passerby”

“Four people killed in Israeli stabbing attack”, reports the Times:

At least four people were stabbed to death in southern Israel today before the attacker was shot dead by a passerby, in one of the deadliest such attacks in the country in years.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in Beersheba, the largest city in the Negev desert. Israeli media reports identified the attacker as an Arab citizen of Israel, who is claimed to be a former high school teacher who had previously been imprisoned over alleged links to the Islamic State.

“It appeared to be a single terrorist who went on a stabbing spree,” Eli Levy, a police spokesman, said on Channel 13 TV. “A civilian took the initiative and shot and killed him.”

The presence of that armed civilian saved many innocent lives.

If a similar Islamist or other terrorist stabbing spree were to happen here in the UK tomorrow – and who is to say that it will not – then the odds for the defenders are much worse. If they are lucky there might be something like a narwhal tusk handy. If not… I have often thought of the last brave moments of Ignacio Echeverria:

At around 10pm on Saturday 3 June 2017, Echeverría, carrying his skateboard on his back, was skateboarding with friends in London. Near Borough Market, they saw a man attacking a police officer lying on the ground. When the man left the body of the officer and began to assault a woman (a French citizen who survived the incident due to Echeverría’s actions) Echeverría used his skateboard to strike the attacker, diverting his attention long enough that several people were moved to safety. He subsequently attacked a second terrorist who was also attacking a police officer. He was then stabbed twice in the back by two attackers, causing his death.

The Guardian finds a few, a very few, Christians it likes

Christians in MP Steve Baker’s seat pray for him to quit role on climate thinktank

Protesters gathered in High Wycombe on Friday to implore their MP, Steve Baker, to quit as a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a thinktank that has been accused of being one of the UK’s leading sources of climate scepticism.

When it says “protesters gathered”, we are not talking about the First Crusade. The gathering process probably took less than three seconds.

Those assembled, including local children and members of the local Lib Dem, Labour and Green parties,

I see something missing there.

said they hoped the MP would be voted out at the next election if he did not change his mind on net zero. Baker currently has a majority of 4,000, which means his seat could be marginal.

The MP, who is a member of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group and has called for the government to rethink its policy of decarbonising the economy using renewable energy, came out to

Smite the idolaters?

join the gathered protesters in prayer and answer their questions.

All very civilised, and these doubtless well-meaning folk, all fifteen of them, have every right to make their protest, and I am glad that Mr Baker smote them not.

But if we’re gonna be doing political prayers, here’s mine. Oh Lord, open their eyes: we need fracking and nuclear power for the sake of the poor and the peace of the world.

As Andrew Neil writes in the Mail,

While Putin was making these painful preparations to withstand sanctions, what was Europe doing? Why, increasing its exposure to Russian energy, of course.

In 2013 the European Union bought 135 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas. Six years later, despite indisputable evidence that a revanchist Russia was on the march, annexing Crimea — a 21st-century Anschluss — and occupying parts of Georgia and eastern Ukraine, the EU had managed to increase its purchase of Russian gas to 166 billion cubic metres.

Despite pouring billions of euros into wind and solar energy, the EU has also managed to import a lot more coal from Russia.

And, of course, it just can’t get enough Russian gas, hence the German enthusiasm for a new gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, from Siberia through the Baltic Sea to Germany (currently suspended — but not abandoned — in the wake of the invasion).

In a very real sense, the EU has paid for Putin’s Fortress Russia defences. With oil prices spiking at over $100 a barrel, $700 million a day in oil revenues is pouring into Kremlin coffers. Germany’s dependence on Russian energy is close to complete: 50 per cent of its coal imports, 55 per cent of its gas, 35 per cent of its oil — all from Russia.

Added later: From Tipp Insights, “Anti-Fossil Madness Funds Putin’s Ukraine Aggression”

Come to think of it, comrades, I do want Jones back

George Orwell, Animal Farm:

“Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?”

Once again this argument was unanswerable. Certainly the animals did not want Jones back; if the holding of debates on Sunday mornings was liable to bring him back, then the debates must stop. Boxer, who had now had time to think things over, voiced the general feeling by saying: “If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right.” And from then on he adopted the maxim, “Napoleon is always right,” in addition to his private motto of “I will work harder.”

(Credit to, um, www.marxists.org actually, for providing the link.)

The Times yesterday, “Donald Trump praises Vladimir Putin’s ‘genius’ move on Ukraine”. The headline worked; there are more than a thousand outraged comments about how Trump is “supporting Putin”. I knew before I read the first line that the point he was actually making would be something along the lines of this:

He claimed that Putin, 69, would not have dared invade had he still been in the White House, rather than Biden. “This never would have happened with us,” he said, dismissing Biden as a “man that has no concept of what he’s doing”.

He told the radio show: “Had I been in office — not even thinkable. This would never have happened. But you know what the response was from Biden? There was no response. They didn’t have one for that. No, it’s very sad.”

The BBC, this morning:

BBC LIVE: Russia launches invasion of Ukraine

How long before we see “Deinsulate Britain” protestors?

“Insulation was supposed to save us money… but it ruined our homes: Millions crippling repair costs after botched green upgrades”,writes Chris Brooke in the Daily Mail:

Getting Britain’s homes insulated is the cornerstone of the Government’s green energy policy and an obsession for road-blocking eco-protesters.

But the scale of damp-related problems linked to cavity wall insulation is so serious that an MP is calling for an independent inquiry to improve protection for householders.

One expert has estimated that up to two million homes may have problems as a result of insulation being pumped into the cavity between outside and inside walls.

In some extreme cases, the resulting problems of damp and mould inside the house have rendered properties worthless and unsellable.

If the Lockdown Frolics of Downing Street had never been revealed to the public (I must admit to a twinge of admiration for the fact that they kept the secret for well over a year), I believe this issue would have brought Boris down eventually. The insulation issue is just one bomblet within the incoming political clusterbomb that also contains the energy price crisis, and the fact that forcing millions of people to pay thousands of pounds to replace gas boilers with heat pumps is about as welcome as Dominic Cummings popping up between Carrie’s designer sheets.

Net Zero will become so unpopular that the next election will be won by whichever political party promises to stop it. (Edit: Or gives the impression of being most likely to break their promise to keep it.) There is scope here for the Tory post-Johnson redemption arc, if they change course in time. I can see it. You can see it. Why can’t they?

Would you let him out of the box?

Yesterday’s Sunday Times carried a story to break your heart: “‘Life in a box’: young autistic man confined in hospital’s former file room”.

The first thing to say is that the headline is clickbait. It gives the impression that he’s locked in a cubbyhole. In fact quite a lot of money has been spent by the state to construct a purpose-built apartment with bedroom, bathroom, “snug room”, lounge, an unlabelled room, and a garden. It is not a dungeon. But it is a jail – this young man, referred to as “Patient A”, is has been confined there alone for years. In terms of lack of privacy his “secure apartment” at Cheadle Royal Hospital is worse than a conventional jail: he is monitored by closed circuit TV at all times.

Behind a serving hatch with a small Perspex window, a figure of a young man shuffles into view and reaches out to receive a pizza box being pushed through the hole by his mother.

“Mum, please, put me in the car and take me home,” the 24-year-old says. “I don’t want to be here any more.”

His mother, Nicola, 50, does her best not to cry. “I would if I could,” she replies. “I’m trying my best.”

Patient A, a young autistic man, has been confined to his small secure apartment in a hospital since September 2017.

A Saturday night takeaway pizza, pushed through the hatch by his mother and eaten alone in his room, is the highlight of his week.

Why is he imprisoned? Because he is violent. After a relatively happy and normal childhood his behaviour began to deteriorate in adolescence, until…

Eventually he was admitted to a unit for patients with severe mental illness at the Countess of Chester Hospital, where his behaviour was put down to “neurodevelopmental difficulties”.

There, he was restrained for the first time by clinical staff. The experience left him terrified. He stayed on the ward for three weeks, losing half a stone. He was prescribed risperidone and sent home — but the attacks continued.

“He would just constantly want to hit you,” Nicola said. “He would want to run at my mum. Run at my dad. All of us. You couldn’t stop it. I’ve never seen anything like it. He would open his eyes, and the moment he woke up he was on us.”

The Sunday Times report is much better than its irresponsible headline would suggest. It goes on to describe in depressing detail the failure of various treatments. The young man continues to attack the hospital staff, with the result that they are no longer willing to play football or computer games with him. Ever more isolated, he gets worse.

It’s horrible. But what would you have them do? His mother wants him to be released into supported housing in the community. This was due to happen, but at the last moment the care provider lined up for him pulled out. “They said his behaviour had become too challenging,” Nicola [his mother] said. “But his behaviour is challenging because of where he is.” I hate to say it but her second sentence, while undoubtedly true, does not solve the problem described in the first. Can an organisation be forced to take on the care of someone who constantly attacks their staff? To an extent, that is what is happening now at Patient A’s secure apartment at Cheadle Royal Hospital. The state does what it is obliged to by law. But care in the community for a potentially violent patient requires more intelligent and responsive supervision than keeping someone in prison. No company providing paid care is willing to provide that level of supervision for Patient A. It has been established that his family cannot do it; part of his mother’s torment is that she herself was the person who started his imprisonment by calling the police while her son attacked his grandmother.

In any case, though supported care in the community has transformed many lives for the better, it can go horribly wrong. One of the comments mentions the case of Jonty Bravery. He was the man who threw a six year old boy from the roof of the Tate Modern gallery because he wanted to be on the TV news. He caused the child life-changing injuries. Before the attack Bravery had been living in just such a placement, with two-to-one care, no less.

Back and forth the arguments go…
“Mum, please, put me in the car and take me home.”
“He would open his eyes, and the moment he woke up he was on us.”

I was going to ask, “What is the Libertarian solution to this?”, but forget Libertarianism – what is any solution to this?

Tomorrow I will wish peace and goodwill to all men

Today, however…

Though I did kind of like the contemplative thief at 08:16.

Meanwhile back in the EU

Old rules die, new ones are born.

Belarus border crisis: EU suspends asylum rules to speed up deportations

Omicron variant: EU should encourage compulsory vaccines, says Ursula von der Leyen

Both Times reports are behind a paywall, but the headlines make the point well enough.

As the late Brian Micklethwait – I still cannot quite believe that I am writing that – said in a post called “On the future of photography in public (and on what I think of the EU)”:

The way the EU works is that at any one time EU-ers propose a million laws, and the winning laws are the ones that nobody objects to. If anyone at all persuasive does object to any particular law, then the plan is dropped, with a charming smile, and put to one side for another go in a few years time. No no no, you misunderstood entirely what we were talking about. We never had any intention of doing what we previously did intend to do if nobody had complained! Fuss about nothing! Europhobic scaremongering! Why do you hate foreigners?

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.

Steal Labour’s clothes, look like Labour

Britain’s electricity supply is in peril. On Monday (20 Sep) the Financial Times reported,

Peter McGirr wanted to modernise the British consumer energy market when he founded Green three years ago, building a customer base of more than 250,000 households. Now, with the sector in meltdown, he says it is “incredibly unlikely” the Newcastle-based supplier will survive until Christmas without government intervention.

Five smaller suppliers have collapsed in the past six weeks, with four or five more expected to join them in the next 10 days as the industry is battered by unprecedented surges in wholesale electricity and gas prices.

Observers are predicting as few as 10 suppliers will make it through the winter, implying 40 could go bust. Some executives have privately suggested the sector could go back to a big four, five or six companies.

How did this happen to us? I know who to blame for setting the UK on this disastrous course. On Tuesday 24 September 2013, eight years ago tomorrow, the then Leader of the Labour party, Ed Miliband, gave his big speech to the Labour party conference in Brighton. One item was particularly popular:

“If we win the election 2015 the next Labour government will freeze gas and electricity prices until the start of 2017. Your bills will not rise. It will benefit millions of families and millions of businesses. That’s what I mean by a government that fights for you. That’s what I mean when I say Britain can do better than this.”

The response from the Tories was immediate and scathing:

As the Guardian reported,

Energy minister Greg Barker attacks Labour’s plan to cap energy prices

In response to Ed Miliband’s announcement, the energy minister says capping energy prices would have catastrophic consequences for investment in the UK

Figures from the gas industry chipped in:

The lights could go out if Labour introduces its 20-month freeze on energy prices, Ian Peters of British Gas said. “If we have no ability to control what we do in the retail prices” and wholesale prices suddenly go up within a single year “that will threaten energy security,” he said. Asked if that meant the lights would go out, he replied: “I think that is a risk.”

But Mr Miliband’s policy had equally vigorous defenders. On 25 September 2013, the day after Mr Miliband’s speech, Alex Andreou of the New Statesman thundered:

Ed Miliband’s critics think his energy pledge will make the lights go out. They are wrong

The critics were wrong. Ed Miliband is innocent OK! It was not his pledge that a Labour government would limit energy prices that has brought us so near to having the lights go out.

The Conservative manifesto of 2017 included energy price controls, duly introduced by Prime Minister Theresa May on 1st January 2019.

And here we are.