Friday, 20 January 2017

First impressions....

....courtesy of a clearly somewhat aghast Emily Maitlis during Donald Trump's inaugural speech:

Inauguration Day Open Thread

Something is apparently happening in Washington today and it seems as if quite a few BBC journalists are there. 

If anything strikes you as being biased about the BBC's coverage of the inauguration of Donald John Trump as the US's 45th president, please let us know. 

So out goes 'Blessed, handsome and crooked' (Barack Hussein Obama: Barack being Swahili for 'blessed', Hussein being Arabic for 'handsome', and Obama being Dholuo for 'crooked')...

....and in comes 'Ruler of the world, God-loved drummer' (Donald John Trump: Donald deriving from the Gaelic name Domhnall means 'ruler of the world', John deriving from the Latin Johannes which comes from the Hebrew y'hohanan meaning 'Jahweh has favoured', and Trump deriving from the Middle High German word trumpe and means 'drummer')

Twitter spat

Here's an exchange you may have missed on Twitter between the BBC's World Affairs Editor and the Daily Mail's Peter Oborne:
John Simpson: Senior British diplomat: 'I feel deeply let down by Boris. The FCO used to be the best in the world.  Now he’s made it absurd.’ 
Peter Oborne (to John Simpson): 1/ Not job of BBC World Affairs Editor to recycle anonymous smears against Foreign Secretary. What's happened to BBC impartiality? 2/ If Mr Simpson wants to go into politics he should quit his job with the BBC. 
John Simpson (to Peter Oborne): Seems to me to be a matter of public interest. Disappointed you think that things you don't like shd be censored. 
Peter Oborne (to John Simpson): News Many FCO officials admire Johnson. To refresh yr memory, here are the BBC impartiality guidelines:

Thursday, 19 January 2017


Musings all her own, though with the BBC's brand name plastered all over them...(courtesy of the ever-watchful DB):

BBCexit: Should the BBC leave the UK?

Let me tell you that not everyone who appears to be vacantly staring into space is ‘doing nothing’. 
Some of us are merely lost in thought. Not all such thoughts amount to zero; some are fruitful and multiply.

While idly browsing Brexit-related blogs the other day I came across one by John Redwood where the btl comments were so hostile to the BBC that it suddenly occurred to me that the BBC would be better off if it joined the Bremoaners and the SNPs and unilaterally divested itself from the UK. 

Bye now!

This inner rant was distinctly Philomena Cunkbut when (if) you read on, don’t let the comedy Northern accent get in the way. It goes something like this: 

I understood that a referendum - our referendum - was a yes / no kind of thing. In or out. We were given a chance to gen up on the ins and outs of the In and the Out, then we were entrusted with the vote.

It wasn’t supposed to be a general election, with constituencies and elected MPs. In the referendum the majority rules OK, end of. Like it or lump it.

Whoever decided that it was a good idea to broadcast the results ‘constituency by constituency’ made a big mistake. It gave entirely unwarranted and unintended cohesion to pockets of dissenters, who could band together in groups and moan that not only did they dislike the outcome, but they jolly well weren’t going to accept it. 

Identifying clusters of Bremainers and legitimising them as a demographic illustrates the value of the secret ballot. 

Nicola Sturgeon, who had just about learnt to accept the result of her own In-Out referendum, now had an excuse to reignite the issue all over again. 
I don’t think the idea of Scottish independence makes much sense at a time when their natural resources are drying up, but the other day she mentioned that she didn’t like the thought of “London” making laws for the Scots. You’d think, in that case, she’d understand why the British don’t want Brussels to make our laws, but even more to the point, why on earth does she think the Scots wish Brussels to make their laws for them? 

Nicola Sturgeon certainly has the gift of the gab. She’d make a cracking barrister, but she’s wasting her talents on a bad cause. 

However, by treating the referendum like a general election and presenting the result 'constituency by constituency,' therefore facilitating a 'divide and rule' tactic that enables the dissenters and refuseniks to self-identify as a movement, the BBC (as a demographic) might as well go the whole hog and voluntarily leave the UK.

What do you think?

The soft bigotry of low expectations

As if it wasn’t dispiriting enough to witness the ease with which Al Jazeera persuaded the British media that there was a dreadful Israeli plot to bring down the UK government, we now learn that it wasn’t just the Qatari channel that orchestrated the whole thing.

 H/T to ‘Lucy Lips’ on Harry’s Place for spotting this group photo on Clayton Swisher’s Twitter feed. (Clayton Swisher was the presenter of Al Jazeera’s much hyped series  “The Lobby”.) 

It would be no understatement to say that Swisher’s Twitter feed, or timeline or whatever it’s called, is a lobby all by itself. The whole thing practically consists of anti-Zionist tittle-tattle. All the usual characters are in there. Jeremy Corbyn features prominently. 

Corbyn is either being pressured by Seumas, (or perhaps he doesn’t need much persuasion) to get an inquiry going. An inquiry into the Israeli plot to undermine our parliament, no less.  Bit ironic that poor Jeremy has to fend off accusations of antisemitism in his party by instigating a sham inquiry at almost the same time as attempting to initiate another inquiry in the opposite direction. Hopefully it will fizzle out, or perhaps Shami will see to it.

What’s surprising really is the gullibility of the entire British media. How could they not tell that the revelations in the documentary were nothing more than a damp squib? All it amounted to was - wait for it -  ‘the existence of a pro-Israel lobby’ . 

Much worse, apart from missing the fact  that this hyped-up firestorm was nothing but a spark, they failed to grasp that the whole thing was orchestrated by a much more sinister and pernicious lobby, the anti-Zionist lobby if you like.  This is the lobby we should be far more concerned about because it  has direct connections to the UK parliament through the Labour Party, and in particular its director of strategy and communications and as you'll see, Jeremy Corbyn features in Swisher’s tweets and reTweets. Bigly.

The Guardian’s Ewan MacAskill, that’s another beauty. See him on YouTube with The Donald, who realised at once that he is “A very nasty man.”  

So, when we assumed “The Lobby” was just another example of the same old same old tiresome propaganda from the usual Islamists and Jew-bashers, we were expressing  ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations.’ 
Yep. We take it as a given that they will lie, invent and manipulate. A bit racist, maybe, but there you are. Now, we must sit up and take notice. It’s in the Labour Party, it’s in our education system, it’s in the media. Watch out. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Margolyes on Women’s Hour

I heard Miriam Margolyes on Woman’s hour this morning. She appeared as a guest on one of those ‘chain’ interviews, where one speaker links to another (like a chain.)

I’m just a little uncomfortable with her constant need to push too much information at us, (“This is Radio 4!” warned a wary Jenni Murray) but I can sort of understand why she feels compelled to recount detailed toilet related and sexual anecdotes. It’s almost defensive. Or preemptive.

I can also understand why a Jewish, only-child of an overbearing mother and an unassertive father, who describes herself as “fat and a show-off” might have been attracted and flattered at being accepted by a large academic, strongly Arabist family, that of her university friend Elizabeth Hodgkin. 
If I am right in assuming this was the opposite of her own family, it all sounds slightly self-hating and self-denying, but I’m sure the therapist and his fat, show-offy, provocatively lavatorially-mouthed, lesbian, thespian client would have explored all that in depth.

You’d think having a distinctive, honey-toned voice with the precise and cultured enunciation of a kind one rarely gets to hear nowadays would be enough of a professional asset for anyone without having to test how many insinuations and rude utterances she can get away with.

Whenever you hear Miriam Margoyles speaking about herself  (My autocorrect, rather aptly, keeps changing the ‘M’ to a ‘G’) you’re always waiting to see how long till she mentions Israel. 
She duly did so at the end of her interview - introducing the aforementioned university friend, her choice for the upcoming link in the chain, saying proudly that this family and this friendship showed her how to be “Not a Zionist” and citing the Tonge-like phrase “the way the Israelis treat the Palestinians”. 

I don’t think she has given much thought to the way the Palestinians treat the Israelis, not to mention what they would do with them if only they could.

I happen to know some academic, aristocratic and (temporarily) military Arabists who had spent time hobnobbing with “Johnny Arab” in the old days. I must say I was alarmed at their tendency to laugh affectionately at the superstitious, volatile and unpredictable nature of some of the gun-toting characters they encountered back then in some Godforsaken area of the Maghreb.

Although Miriam’s friend’s family may not be anything like that, I would imagine that they would know enough to advise Miriam that the Palestinians they’re so fond of might not approve of the homosexuality she talks so incontinently and openly about. 

More about Laura

A quick update on our semi-collaborative post: ”We have to talk about Laura.” 

The BBC breached accuracy and impartiality rules with a News At Six report by Laura Kuenssberg on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, its governing body has ruled.
An item, which aired in November 2015, inaccurately represented the Labour leader’s views on a shoot-to-kill policy in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, it found.
The complaint, by a member of the public rather than Mr Corbyn himself, was rejected four times previously under the BBC’s own editorial standards policies, before the Trust finally ruled against the programme. 

BBC executives immediately moved to protect Kuenssberg, going public to say they disagreed with the finding and did not see any grounds to discipline their political editor.”
But the report ends with:
“Trustees agreed they had seen no evidence of bias. However, the Committee decided on balance that because of the breaches of accuracy as a consequence, the item was also not duly impartial."

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Statements of the bleeding obvious

What did you think of Theresa May’s speech, then? 

Of the ‘early responders’, one of the first off the blocks was Guido. When I quickly looked on his website there were but a few dozen comments from the below-the-line reception class .They were mostly enthusiastic. 

Peter Walker in the Guardian said:
“The more vehement Brexiteers are, as you might expect, generally very happy with May’s speech”.

(therefore Guardian / BBC probably not)

The pundits kept referring to the ‘meat’ and ‘flesh’ in the speech, but I’m afraid I can’t for the life of me see anything particularly new or unexpected in there, apart from the slightly worrying promise that MPs will have a chance to scupper the deal by voting on the final terms, once they have been reached. 

Most of her carefully worded speech sounded somewhat motherhood-and-apple-pie. I mean it’s all very nice setting out what ‘we’ want, but surely the bottom line will depend on what “they” want.

The BBC had Tim Farron on, as they would. Poor Tim looked even more woebegone than ever, and completely taken by surprise that Brexit means Brexit.

Norman Smith must have missed the bit where she said  - for obvious reasons - she was not prepared to give a blow-by-blow account of the negotiating strategy, because he was still complaining that she hadn’t set it out. That’s quite annoying.

Anyway,  She did have a dig at the remoaners, and perhaps the press.

“ this is not a game or a time for opposition for opposition’s sake.” 
“…………….Because it is not my job to fill column inches with daily updates, but to get the right deal for Britain. And that is what I intend to do.”

By jove I think she’s got it.

It’s a bit too soon to get a full picture of the BBC’s reaction. Craig? What do you think?  Anyway, let's see how things pan out.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention. One of the commenters at order-order criticised Theresa May’s appearance, saying “At least she could have brushed her hair” 

What rubbish! She’s going to be in Vogue! It looked to me as though the image-tweakers and right-on hairdressers had already been busy - creating a flattering tousled look.  It was a good hair day, and I thought she looked great, even though she had that old Black-Watch tartan pants suit on again; the white open-necked shirt looked fine, especially without any of those burdensome clumpy necklaces. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Why bother

I’m getting fed up. I can’t be bothered to write about many things that have been in the news recently, such as the ‘fake sheikh’ type sting, crafted by Al Jazeera to look like an Israeli government plot to sabotage UK parliament .

Even the Guardian’s Michael White, famous for  announcing: “In Israel they murder each other a great deal” Tweeted that it looked to him like a cheap entrapment job, (With a Twitter timeline like that how does he find time to do anything else?) which, amusingly, led to a few fanatical Israel bashers accusing him of being a Zionist.
I can’t even bring myself to mention the decision of a German court that  “Torching a synagogue is not antisemitic”  and I don’t know how (or if) the BBC reported that, but they did mention the Amber Rudd hate incident. Andrew Neill savaged the poor Oxford professor (of physics) who dreamt up that ludicrous allegation. 
I know everyone loves Andrew Neill, but in this case the victim seemed too much of a soft target, like a rabbit in the headlights really, who, for all I know did this out of a misguided desire to stand up for the underdog. If you see what I mean.

I won’t even bother to mention “On Your Farm”, aired early on Sunday morning when we were all half asleep. It brought us a Halal farmer, whose religious beliefs were alluded as a kind of ‘given’. You know, PBUH and midday prayers were woven into the conversation as though they were common parlance. The normalisation of Islam by stealth.

I can’t be arsed to mention Radio 4 this morning, which had more than the absolutely necessary quota of Islam-related content and a good dose of overt Trump-bashing. (I wonder if the level of BBC Trump-bashing will continue after the inauguration?)

I won’t even try to tackle Yolande Knell’s reporting about the Paris summit, but I did wonder if Yolande Knell knows anything at all about history pre 1967? I mean who does she think Israel stole captured the West Bank from? And how did she think they came by it?  

One thing I will just mention is the Holocaust remembrance edition of the Antiques Roadshow. Of course it was nice that the BBC chose to feature this on a long-running programme such as this, and I thought Fiona Bruce was rather good, her ‘say-it / act-it-out’ style was suitably reined in for once. 
However, I will remind you that the BBC has always been fond of recounting tales of the suffering of Jews, as long as it’s purely holocaust-related. One of the artefacts in this episode was a pair of striped trousers. The actual ones. Cynicism aside, it was a very moving film.

One particular artefact struck a chord. In fact it was Fiona’s favourite. It was a board game, a kind of cross between Snakes and Ladders and Monopoly, where the object was, through lucky throws of the dice, to round up the most Jews and cart them off to the police station. The cone-shaped pieces were painted with ugly faces to represent Jews. Fiona Bruce was shocked that this popular game was designed to inculcate Jew-hatred into German children. 

I wonder what Fiona Bruce’s reaction would be if she knew about the Jew-hatred that is being inculcated into Palestinian children as we speak. Through UNRWA, funded by foreign aid. The similarities are undeniable. I’m shocked, aren’t you?

So I won’t mention any of that. Instead, for sentimental reasons, I’ll tell you about quotes and recitations that my father often came out with, (when he was alive) the general theme being absurdity. 
One that tickled him came from an old ‘music-hall’ routine by Wilkie Bard:  “I want you to notice my leggings”. 
Mad. I think he adapted some of the words.
Another favourite was from Samuel Beckett: 

My father’s simplified version just went:
“Why did you engender me?”   “I didn’t know it’d be you”
I do like a bit of the absurd, as you’ll guess.