Category Archives: smut peddlers

Pro-forma Profuma

My recollection is the only times I have read the Daily Telegraph systematically was during the Great Profumo crisis. I’d extend that to the the trial of Stephen Ward for “procuring”, and the subsequent Denning Inquiry.

At this distance my post-adolescent salacious interest was the Telegraph had more detail than other London sources available in Dublin. There was a patient expectation to see when the Irish censors would step in. Yet, this was about when the Dublin evenings could have boards on the lines of:

Car crash at Naas
Nine Dead
Horrific scenes
FULL PICTURES

— so the censorship board was definitely loosening up.

Yogi Berra, as ever

Today It’s déjà vu all over againThe most surprising thing there being the lad from St Louis, MO, accentuating his — pardon me! — French so expertly.

Yes, indeedy: John Dennis Profumo gets another notch on his bed-post:

John Profumo, the Conservative minister who resigned over an infamous 1960s sex scandal, had previously had a long-running relationship with a glamorous Nazi spy who may have tried to blackmail him, newly released MI5 files reveal.

Gisela Winegard, a German-born fashion and photographer’s model, met Profumo in Oxford in 1936 when he was an undergraduate and kept in contact with him for at least 20 years during which time she ran a Nazi secret information service in occupied Paris, had a child with a high-ranking German officer, and was imprisoned for espionage on the liberation of Paris in 1944.

At the height of the 1963 sex scandal when Profumo was forced to resign after misleading the House of Commons about his brief affair with Christine Keeler, MI6 sent MI5 a letter and files detailing the Tory minister’s connection with Winegard (née Gisela Klein).

“Although it is not particularly relevant to the current notorious case, Geoffrey thought you might like to have for your files the attached copy of a report for our representative (redacted) dated 2nd October 1950, which makes mention of an association between Gisela Klein and Profumo which began ca. 1933 and had apparently not ceased at the time of this report,” wrote the MI6 officer Cyril Mackay to MI5’s head of investigations, Arthur Martin.

Not exactly a knee-trembler, but — as always, the cover-up is more deadly than the original fart:

The security services historian Christopher Andrew, commenting on the release of the files at the national archives, said: “Had the media been aware of the contents of the MI5 file in the current release, the conspiracy theories would have been even more extravagant.”

Infamy!  Infamy! They’ve all got it in for me!

Professor (Emeritus) Andrew is under-rating the extravagance of conspiracy theories (with any number of names) spun in bar-rooms at the time. Nor did the “extravagance” lack foundations — though the commoners were not allowed to know anything beyond Denning’s whitewash.

Here, for a single example, is a small snippet from Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy (page 249, and not in this abbreviated text):

The end of the trial and Ward’s dramatic suicide swept the Profumo scandal off the British scene. It was as if one moment the newspapers had been full of only that and the next moment there was nothing.

Precisely. And cui bono?

But allow Knightley & Kennedy to continue:

There had already been some tidying up of loose ends. Over the weekend of 27/28 July a well-dressed man had walked into the Bloomsbury art gallery which was selling Ward’s drawings. (It sold 123 for a total of £11,517, which at that time meant Ward would have been financially quite comfortable).

You better believe it. Ward had a speciality in “advanced” drawings of the social élite and the lady-friends of the rich-and-famous. Against his posthumous £11k+, I left TCD a couple of years later looking for an annual whack of £800. Back on the main drag:

The man selected every drawing of the Royal Family on show — including those of Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, the Duchess of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent — declined to give his name, paid with a bank draft for £5,000 and took the drawings away immediately.

 

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Filed under Daily Telegraph, History, politics, smut peddlers, Tories.

Be sure your s(k)in will find you out

Those years sitting as a boy-chorister in the stalls of St Nicholas, Wells-next-the-Sea, laid their marks upon me. For one example, I know this is from the Book of Numbers. Admittedly, I had to check to find the precise reference:

Then Moses said to them: “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the Lord for the war, and all your armed men cross over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies from before Him,  and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you may return and be blameless before the Lord and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LordBut if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out. Build cities for your little ones and folds for your sheep, and do what has proceeded out of your mouth.” [Numbers, 32, 20-24]

There’s some decent guidance there for a modern political campaign:

  • don’t go in too early, but choose your time;
  • but do strike when the opportunity is timely;
  • and then get on with exploiting your expected victory and building the new society.

Now let’s consider the current state of Trumpery

My, my: the man has some problems —

Conceivably, by the end of another day he will have added more to the charge sheet.

Meanwhile Hillary seems to have jumped at least five opinion-poll points, and even her “unfavourable” numbers aren’t significantly worsening. While Trump’s could and should well be.

Shameless?

Last Sunday’s Observer had a piece by Gaby Hinsliff, Twitter Wars. It includes this:

The chilling thing about Trump isn’t just the casual racism and sexism, the breathtaking indifference to whatever is stirred up. It’s the niggling worry that he’s lighting fires under American life not because he can’t stop himself, but as a coldly calculated means to an end. Lacking an established political machine behind him or a war chest for TV advertising, Trump has been reliant on saying ever more incendiary things to keep his name in the news – which may be why the real jaw droppers have a knack of surfacing when he most needs free publicity.

“The norms have completely gone,” says a US strategist who has worked on the last three Democrat campaigns. “I remember in 2012 we’d try and call Mitt Romney a liar for basically telling lies and David Axelrod [Barack Obama’s chief strategist] would say: ‘Change that to falsehood.’ Trump doesn’t have any of those rules whatsoever. I mean, ‘Delete your account’ was pretty much outside the limits of what Hillary would have done four years ago, but you can’t even compare that to someone who’s retweeting white supremacists and Nazi memes.

“To get free media, he has to say stuff that’s reportable, and the level of extreme language is directly linked back to that. They took a conscious decision to make a remark about Mexicans being rapists for his launch to throw a spanner in the works of the other launches. I suspect he doesn’t even particularly have a worldview; it’s driven by a need to feed this publicity machine.”

All true and good. But I note in that the even more “chilling thing”. The Trump campaign has gone beyond pushing the acceptable limits of political discourse out of “indifference”. There is a “coldly calculated” intent to coarsen the debate, in the same way an aerial bombing campaign deliberately demolishes, degenerates and dislocates enemy infrastructure before the land-based assault. If Trump can reduce the political dialogue to his gutter level, he has won.

News management

Tim Fenton, the Guru of zero-street, was yesterday puzzling over the last item of that above bulleted list: why has Melinda Trump’s “modelling” career come to the attention of the New York Post at this precise moment? Except Tim sees it in a broader perspective:

Has Murdoch Abandoned Trump?
Trump still has one formidable backer in the shape of Rupert Murdoch, who has stood by while Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse) has been The Donald’s main cheerleader, with hosts such as professional loudmouth Sean Hannity falling over themselves in their efforts to grovel before The Great Man. Then came the forced resignation of Fox News head man Roger Ailes. And that may have changed things.
That Rupe may be experiencing buyer’s remorse is hinted at as the New York Post, a Murdoch tabloid with the same subtlety level as the Sun, splashed an old photo of Trump’s current wife Melania on its front page yesterday. She used to be a nude model. The caption could have come from Kelvin McFilth himself: “THE OGLE OFFICE … Exclusive Photos … You’ve never seen a potential First Lady like this!” Yeah, phwoar, eh?!?!?
One argument the other way is: that was then, this is now. After all, wannabe UK royal princesses can now be papped in degrees of déshabillé and the world keeps turning. The ubiquitous camera/mobile phone ensures that no public embarrassment, no “wardrobe malfunction” can escape the likes of a Daily Mail‘s “sidebar of shame”.
In the matter of Mrs Trump I noticed that, as the New York Post were unveiling the object of the Donald’s affection, the man himself was going all coy and demure. Betsy Woodruff made her play for The Daily Beast:
Playboy Cover Model Donald Trump Pivots On Porn, Signs Pledgetrump-playboy

Businessman Donald Trump posed on the cover of Playboy. GOP nominee Trump has a very different take on porn. 

A day after his team praised the nude photos of his wife that the New York Postpublished, Donald Trump promised to be tough on internet pornography.

The mogul signed a document called the Children’s Internet Safety Presidential Pledge, bemoaning “unfettered internet access by youth.” In signing the pledge, Trump also promised to “[g]ive serious consideration to appointing a Presidential Commission to examine the harmful public health impact of Internet pornography on youth, families and the American culture and the prevention of the sexual exploitation of children in the digital age.”

Wheels within wheels?

I find myself deploying a nano-second, factoring in the “other who and why”.

Who and why pointed the NY Post in this direction? After all, the Post — especially at week-ends — is not an obvious reserve of investigatory journalism.

So something very odd going on.

After the plagiarised speech, there was the sudden taking-off (there’s a lot of it going on, in this context) of the claim from the lady’s own web-site that she had a degree in design and architecture, earned in Slovenia. This claim appeared in the Republican National Convention program.

Whoops! On 19th July CBS demolished this, and asserted that Melania Knav (afterwards, that became “Knauss”) had dropped out after just one year of the course. The soft-core backstreet snappers of Milan and getting-her-kit-off offered a quicker a better, quicker deal for “Melania K”.

For a summary, I defer to Martha Ross, mross@bayareanewsgroup.com, and this — please note — in the “Local Sports” section:

Trump’s sanguine response raises more questions: notably, whether he or someone in his campaign helped make sure the photos were published.

After all, the photos were published in a newspaper that has endorsed him and might be inclined to gain some P.R. leverage.

And, what would Trump himself have to gain?

Gawker and the Huffington Post have some theories. A.M. Mitchell with the Huffington Post believes the publication of the photos was timed by Trump or his people to “plant a red herring into our political news cycle.”

Mitchell drills down on the timing. The photos went online after the Republicans had a pretty disastrous convention the week before and after Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination on Thursday … And after Trump this past week incited outrage over his various comments about NATO, Russian hackers sabotaging Clinton, Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine … And after he launched his controversial and lacerating criticism of the Muslim-American parents of a slain army captain.

What’s disturbing, Mitchell said, is that by publishing the photos, “Donald Trump and the Post are hanging Melania out to dry in a culture which is still, at its core, puritanical. … They are counting on her being retributively shamed by liberals who are hungry to avenge sexist slights against Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton in order to gain what? A couple of points in the polls?”

She continues: “Donald Trump is complicit in allowing a publication which has endorsed him to victimize his own wife. If there is any story worth talking about here, that is it.”

Trump’s sanguine response raises more questions: notably, whether he or someone in his campaign helped make sure the photos were published.

After all, the photos were published in a newspaper that has endorsed him and might be inclined to gain some P.R. leverage.

And, what would Trump himself have to gain?

Gawker and the Huffington Post have some theories. A.M. Mitchell with the Huffington Post believes the publication of the photos was timed by Trump or his people to “plant a red herring into our political news cycle.”

Mitchell drills down on the timing. The photos went online after the Republicans had a pretty disastrous convention the week before and after Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination on Thursday … And after Trump this past week incited outrage over his various comments about NATO, Russian hackers sabotaging Clinton, Vladimir Putin and the Ukraine … And after he launched his controversial and lacerating criticism of the Muslim-American parents of a slain army captain.

What’s disturbing, Mitchell said, is that by publishing the photos, “Donald Trump and the Post are hanging Melania out to dry in a culture which is still, at its core, puritanical. … They are counting on her being retributively shamed by liberals who are hungry to avenge sexist slights against Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton in order to gain what? A couple of points in the polls?”

She continues: “Donald Trump is complicit in allowing a publication which has endorsed him to victimize his own wife. If there is any story worth talking about here, that is it.”

Cue Mrs Merton:

You know what comes next:

Let’s imagine the aftermath of the Trump/Knauss encounter at the Kit Kat Club, 124 W 43rd StNew YorkNY 10036,  (no relation), in 1998:

  • “So, the Donald, what first attracted you to the pneumatic (and subsequently enhanced) Miss K?”
  • “So, Melinda, who first attracted you to a billionaire, a quarter of a century older than yourself?”

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Pishmonger

There are nasty nodules of the net where only the brave should venture.

Nowhere more so than those involved in “politics”. And the most viperous dank holes there involve gun-toters, nazi-apologists and (recently added) Scots Nationalists. Those, of course, are not mutually exclusive.

In passing, Carl Hiaasen’s recent column on concealed-carry on Florida campuses should be a must-read.

One particular vile toad is the ““: reverend simply because he is self-ordained (it’s one of those American mail-order jobs). Campbell’s Scottish connection is a quarter-century past: his present is in that Caledonian idyll more usually recognised as Bath, Avon, England. Anyone who hasn’t encountered his festering swamp, Wings Over Scotland, is well-advised to stay away: it’s declared off-limits by the politburo of the SNP.  Think Guido Fawkes without its occasional sources, or even the most basic wit. The Wings-over-Scotland window-licking commenters exceed any bounds set by Fawkes or the Daily Mail.

Here’s one recent example of the genre:

Pishmonger

One sentence. One crashingly-banal error. Can an established “fact” be “questionable”?

That used to be task one in the comprehension test of English GCSE papers: “Quote one fact from the passage”. The National Curriculum, you see, is quite hot on determining “fact” and “opinion”.

And, as of my clipping that, 130 cybernats had piled in to comment on it. All, it seems, ignorant of a basic distinction.

Evo

 

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Filed under Carl Hiaasen, education, smut peddlers, SNP

The cess-pit bubbles over

Yesterday Murdoch’s überTory scandal sheet, The Sun, was offering inducements: Sun190 That should be considered in parallel with Electoral law: Electoral Commission Doubtless a well-paid corporate lawyer will have established why a “case study” doesn’t soon became a barrister’s brief.

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… until they bite your finger off

Ferrets can look quite pleasant. They are evil little buggers.

Ferret

Keep away. Don’t stroke. Your digital extremities are at risk.

Similarly with journalists. You cannot, must not trust them. Ever.

I mean, there was I, quite confirmed by the Daily Mail on the object of today’s Two Minutes’ Hate — that wicked Anglophobic minx, Nicola Sturgeon. I was ready to do my bit for the cause!

Oh, c’mon, you know the routine:

It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Records Department, where Winston worked, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for the Two Minutes Hate.

So, I slipped out for a pub lunch. A hour with a burger and today’s papers.

I came back, and … Lo! … the world had changed. The Daily Mail ferret was being reversed. Consider before and after:

Mail3

For long-standing chromosomic reasons, I now know I can never be nominated as the Mail‘s “most dangerous woman in Britain”. It’s not an honour anyone ever holds for more than an edition or two — sadly there’s always another coming down the primrose path to tabloid perdition. Still, I had hopes that one or other of my daughters might qualify. The Pert Young Piece was, and may yet be the prime contender. After all, she is in party politics, and a party which the Mail holds in deep distaste.

That would be appropriate, because (we have reason to believe) she and her sisters are in direct descent from Sir Richard Rich (1496-1567), who celebrated the millennium by being nominated by the BBC History magazine as the most evil man in English history.

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British journalists, political bombshells and forgeries

I used to ascribe it to Hilaire Belloc, because I have a liking for Belloc’s epigrams. It was, in fact Humbert Wolff, a civil servant with the Ministry of Labour, a translator and writer.

You cannot hope to bribe or twist, thank God! the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to.

Good Friday

Which leads us to this extraordinary business when a secret document, presumably via the Foreign Office (prop: the Rt Hon Philip Hammond, as in very Right and oh-so-honourable), finds its way to the Daily Telegraph.

The Daily Telegraph has seen the official British Government memorandum which includes details of a private meeting between Miss Sturgeon and Sylvie Bermann, the French Ambassador to the UK. 

The memorandum which was written by a senior British civil servant, dated March 6th, states: “Just had a telephone conversation with Pierre-Alain Coffinier (PAC), the French CG [consul-general]. He was keen to fill me in on some of the conversations his Ambassador had during her visit to Scotland last week. All of this was given on a confidential basis.” 

It continues: “The Ambassador….had a truncated meeting with the FM [Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister] (FM running late after a busy Thursday…). Discussion appears to have focused mainly on the political situation, with the FM stating that she wouldn’t want a formal coalition with Labour; that the SNP would almost certainly have a large number of seats… that she’d rather see David Cameron remain as PM (and didn’t see Ed Miliband as PM material).”

The thought has to be “just too convenient”. Note the incriminating fingerprints:

  • the Torygraph has “seen” the document;
  • it is then a “leak” of a memo of a telephone conversation and all at third hand — Bermann☞Coffinier☞unnamed UK official;
  • the information was “on a confidential basis”, so its revelation is an embarrassment to both national governments;
  • rashly, an adverb one might not ever readily apply to Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister got personal, down and dirty;
  • the document emerges late on a Friday, a Bank Holiday Friday, when government officials have departed for a long weekend. Fridays play quite a rôle in what follows.

And we can, of course, trust the Torygraph?

Well, let’s consider how George Galloway was stitched up. You’ll find the term “forgery” twenty-one times in that account. It’s a long read, so I’ll leave you to enjoy. One thought before we swiftly pass on: even were the document no forgery, there remains the further oddities of how the Torygraph got it, and used it with malevolent intent. We need not speculate on why. And, in the present case, we have confirmation: Private Eye And the Daily Mail is an impeccable source? MailwailA bit self-regarding, don’tcha think, of the Mail to harken back to 1924 — for, ahem, there is the small matter of the Zinoviev letter, presumably concocted by White Russians, and deployed by the Tory Party at a convenient moment in the 1924 General Election. And published by … the Daily Mail. I like this one because it has a parallel existence to the Sturgeon canard. The language that Gregor Zinoviev uses (27 October 1924) almost echoes Sturgeon’s denial. Compare and contrast:

The letter of 15th September, 1924, which has been attributed to me, is from the first to the last word, a forgery. … The forger has shown himself to be very stupid in his choice of the date. On the 15th of September, 1924, I was taking a holiday in Kislovodsk, and, therefore, could not have signed any official letter.

Friday, bloody Friday

The exchange between Coffinier and the unnamed British official took place on a Friday (a French official at his desk on a Friday?) Sturgeon sent a public tweet: Sturgeon

… to the Telegraph’s Scottish political correspondent Simon Johnson read: “.@simon_telegraph your story is categorically, 100%, untrue…which I’d have told you if you’d asked me at any point today.”

Johnson didn’t reply to the First Minister.

The French Embassy has since backed up Sturgeon’s version of events in a statement.

It read: “While the ambassador and the First Minister, some time ago, have discussed the political situation, Ms Sturgeon did not touch on her personal political preferences with regards the future Prime minister.”

Which has more of the “look-and-feel” of the canny Scots lawyer we know Sturgeon to be.

The Tory game-play here mirrors the Zinoviev letter: then the target was the wavering third-party Liberals, now it’s the third-party SNP.

And further back, does another event come to mind?

Ah, yes! The Grand-daddy of them all — The Times and Richard Pigott’s forgeries of Charles Stewart Parnell. The original articles are here.

For and on the present kerfuffle:

Nicola Sturgeon has demanded a civil service inquiry into the leaking of a memo which claimed she privately wanted to see Conservatives remain in power following the May 7 General Election. 

The Scottish National Party leader described the allegation as “100% untrue” and said she had written to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood to demand a Whitehall probe into how the account of her conversation with the French ambassador was obtained by the Daily Telegraph. 

She said the story was a sign of “panic” in Westminster over the surge in support for the SNP, and issued a challenge to Labour leader Ed Miliband to state publicly that he would work with the SNP to “lock out” David Cameron from Downing Street in the event of a hung parliament.

 Only around the tenth to twelfth paragraph, even in this “updated” version, do we get to the caveats and Nicola Sturgeon’s firm denial. Odd, that.

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Filed under Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., crime, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, sleaze., smut peddlers, SNP, Times, Tories.

Monstering 2

We are currently spectators at a massive monstering. Today’s Daily Mail is a prime example.

Mail monitoring

We have the classic formula: a “most wanted’ list, and then the distortions.

Compare the on-line version:

Mail monstering 2

Of course Shaun Wright’s position as Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire is untenable. “Untenable”, not because he has failed in just two years at PCC for South Yorks, but because he had been defenestrated from Rotherham Council, and found a safe nook, over just this whole scandal.

Then there are at least three gross distortions there already:

1. Ged Fitzgerald is clearly identified as “Councillor”. #Fail. He was Chief Executive of South Yorkshire for just two years (2001-2003) of the decade-and-a-half in question. A simple fact check would have established that. Or even — perish the thought — a reading, let alone an understanding, of Professor Jay’s report.

2. The headline is perverse. It wasn’t “1,400 Young girls”. Professor Alexis Jay is clear:

Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1400 children were sexually exploited over the full Inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013.

Note: “children”, not just “girls”. But that lacks the sexualising of young girls that is a consistent Mail trade-mark. More on that here and here.

3. What about the assertion that child rapists are mainly of Asian origin?

What’s a bit of racism between consenting adults?

That has been another chronic #Fail throughout the whole of this horrible saga. It began, and continued from Andrew Norfolk’s original piece for The Times. Not to put too fine a point on it, Norfolk’s stories for The Times seem obsessed with proving the malignity and rapaciousness of Asians. Try it and see.

The whole focus, not just by Norfolk, has been on “gangs”, with the clear insinuation that the problem involves Pakistani men preying on vulnerable white girls. We may trace that one back to Jack Straw in January 2011:

Jack Straw has said that the “fundamental failure” in the Rochdale case, in which dozens of girls were groomed for sex by a group of men of Pakistani origin, lay with the police and social workers who failed to take action to protect them.

But, the former Home Secretary added, there was an added “issue here about colour,” in cases in which Asian men took advantage of white girls.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, he said: “There is an issue of ethnicity here which can’t be ignored.

“It is true that if you go into the sex offenders wings of prisons there are proportionally more white men than Asian men. But there’s also the separate issue of group grooming in the Asian community.

“In terms of group grooming, there is an ethnic dimension to this which is Asian men and white girls, and that has to be faced by the Asian community.

What Straw said, even as there reported by the Daily Telegraph, was almost balanced. What others read into it was definitely not. As with Sky News:

Former home secretary Jack Straw has sparked a row after claiming there is a problem with young Pakistani men grooming and sexually abusing vulnerable white girls.

The Blackburn MP talked of a “specific problem” involving Pakistani men who were “fizzing and popping with testosterone”.

He added that a minority of these young men considered vulnerable white girls as “easy meat”.

Same story; less nuanced.

Suzanne Moore made the case against this simplistic, even casual racism:

… when young myself and working as a residential care worker… [i]t was my duty to report a child missing if he or she did not come back to the home at night. For some girls, that was most nights. The police and my co-workers cheerily referred to these girls as “being on the game”.

If you want to know about ethnicity – as everyone appears to think this is key – these girls were of Caribbean descent, as were their pimps. The men who paid to rape these children, they said, were mostly white.

That was London in the 80s, so the whole “child protection is in tatters” number is not news.

Again, any nuance is unacceptable. Things must be seen as they are, in strict racial terms. So Dan Hodges, again for the Telegraph, channels his inner bigot:

The final attempt at exculpation is being constructed around the straw man of power. Suzanne Moore again leads on this today. “The bigger picture is not, as the right claim, about ethnicity but systematic abuse of girls and boys by powerful men”, expounds the subheading above her piece. “Our untouchables turn out to be little girls raped by powerful men,” she claims.

But they weren’t. Our little girls were raped by Kashmiri cab drivers. Yes, powerful men were involved in the Rotherham abuses. But they weren’t the ones doing the raping. They were the ones turning a blind eye to the rape. And why were they turning a blind eye? Because of the ethnicity of the rapists.

I had to read that twice to get the full splenetic spittle: Our little girls, forsooth. For Hodges (a reformed Lefty himself, but naturally) and his like, all detestable power has to be of the Left. The Guardian has to be monstered as part of the deal. If a bit of male-chauvinist monstering of a female columnist comes along, Steely Dan is up for it.

And that bit of nonsense is where I go to next.

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