It’s all society’s fault, m’lord

We have thousands of laws, most accumulated over centuries, though some 60 per cent of the new ones have been kindly bestowed on us by the EU.

Since, fingers crossed, we’ll soon be ineligible for such charity, we’ll find that we need no help from the EU to destroy the best legal system the world has ever seen.

Yes, we have thousands of laws, big and small. But that whole sprawling structure rests on relatively few supports, the underlying core principles whose removal would bring the whole structure down.

You know, things like presumption of innocence, double jeopardy, the right not to give self-incriminating evidence (called the Fifth Amendment by Americans, most of whom don’t realise that the English concept predated the US Constitution by some 600 years), habeas corpus – and equality of all before the law.

It’s this last support that has been wantonly kicked out by the Sentencing Council led by Lord Chief Justice Thomas. The Council has issued new guidelines, according to which criminals from racial and other minorities should receive lighter punishments. This is the first time in our legal history that race is officially declared a mitigating circumstance.

I can’t think off-hand of a more subversive measure and one that can do comparable long-term harm. Actually, take that back. There have been a few similar developments lately.

During the tenure of John Major, the concept of double jeopardy was for all intents ditched. The right not to give self-incriminating evidence (and not to have the refusal to do so treated as an admission of guilt) suffered the same fate under Tony Blair.

Neither presumption of innocence until proven guilty nor habeas corpus is doing so well, considering that any number of (admittedly hideous) British subjects have been held at Guantanamo for years without a formal charge.

And now m’lords are burying the sacred principle of equality of all before the law, obviously not realising that the legal buttresses of the realm are being dumped into the same hole.

The new rules tell the courts to give lighter sentences when young offenders have ‘deprived homes, poor parental employment records, low educational attainment, and early experience of offending by other family members’.

Now it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to suggest that few criminals are classically educated youngsters coming from cultured well-to-do families run by successfully employed parents who’ve never as much as received a speeding fine. TV crime dramas may give the impression that tweedy middle-aged gentlemen commit many, if not most, crimes, but reality is alas dramatically different.

However, should such a gentleman now commit a crime, he’d be treated more severely than a ghetto black or a representative of some other minority. Sounds discriminatory, doesn’t it?

I wonder if I qualify for preferential treatment. Hope so. If I ever murder a BBC Radio 3 presenter, this will be my line of defence.

Is this coz I’s from Russia, Your Honour? If you read my book How the Future Worked, you’ll find that, in addition to being an ethnic minority, I grew up in a poorer family than any existing in Britain, lived in a smelly communal flat where six families shared the same loo, bathroom and kitchen, and suffered discrimination throughout my life there. I simply had to strangle that objectionable woman mouthing pseud nonsense in that giggly, plummy voice – it’s on account of my childhood, Your Honour. It ain’t me who done it, it’s the deprived child inside me. Seen The West Side Story? I’s like them criminals there, depraved coz I’s deprived.

According to the guidelines, “There is also evidence to suggest that black and minority ethnic children and young people are over-represented in the youth justice system.” You say children, I say vicious criminals. But yes, the statistical observation is true.

So what? And why do those feral children commit a disproportionate number of crimes? Could it be because of the prevailing liberal mindset waging war on the notion of individual responsibility for one’s actions? Because of the inverse racism of those who believe that blacks must be mollycoddled because they can’t possibly live up to the normal standards of civilised behaviour?

Then Lord Justice Treacy uttered the words that in one fell swoop mocked the millennia of the Judaeo-Christian moral tradition, according to which all individuals are moral agents, rather than puppets whose wires are pulled by society.

“Children,” he declared, “should not be blamed for factors beyond their control.” That denies those ‘children’ their fundamental humanity, with the implication that the crimes they commit are all society’s fault. What about law-abiding, hard-working people from the same backgrounds? How do you suppose they feel? I’d be offended if I were them.

What are the functions of custodial sentences? First, justice: meting out a punishment commensurate with the crime. Second, restoration of social tranquillity: justice is seen to have been done, and respect for the law grows. Third: deterrence, making sure others will think twice before breaking the law. A distant fourth: rehabilitation, making the criminal a better person coming out than he was going in.

The new guidelines fail monumentally on all four counts. And that’s the least of their problems. They attack the very essence of our civilisation, than which no greater crime exists.


Fanny lends Clara a helping hand

The discovery that the rather mediocre Easter Sonata, wrongly attributed to Felix Mendelssohn, is actually by his sister Fanny has poked the feminist hornet’s nest yet again.

Out flew the old insects ably led by the BBC, flapping their wings and buzzing the usual politicised inanities about the gross injustices suffered by women composers throughout the ages. The implication is that swarms of female geniuses have only been held back by flagrant discrimination.

Until now Clara Schumann has been the biggest inscription on the banners of musical feminism. It has been suggested, or sometimes actually said outright, that poor Clara had her composing genius suppressed by a regiment of Teutonic MCPs led by her husband Robert. But for such sharp practices, the world would realise she was at least her husband’s equal.

There was a brouhaha about this in 2015, when it was discovered that the A-level music syllabus covered 63 composers, all of them despicably male. Clara’s name was held up as the greatest omission.

Now Mrs Schumann herself, one of the best pianists of her time, didn’t consider her compositions to be significant. They were mostly little nothings she knocked off for her own recitals, as was a common practice then. Essentially Clara wasn’t even a minor composer – she wasn’t a composer at all.

And yes, perhaps in the nineteenth century there existed some prejudice against professional women, although that didn’t diminish Mrs Schumann’s success in something she really was good at, performance. Yet, at a wild guess, women’s rights were even a smaller priority in the twelfth century, when the sublime composer Hildegard von Bingen plied her art unimpeded.

Hildegard’s works survive to this day not because she was a woman composer, but because she was a great composer. Which Clara wasn’t, and neither was Fanny, as her hundreds of known works demonstrate vividly to anyone whose ears aren’t blocked by ideological plugs.

This category demonstrably doesn’t include the BBC and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, who have embarked on a widely publicised search for ‘lost’ female composers.

They have their work cut out, for, according to the BBC, there are at least 6,000 of those lost sheep, waiting to be found for the delectation of music lovers who’ve had their fill of MCPs like Bach and Beethoven. The suggested number is nothing short of staggering. Let me spell it out for you: SIX THOUSAND.

Now, at the risk of sounding immodest, I know music rather well. My wife, a concert pianist, knows it much better. This morning we put the 6,000 number to the test by compiling our own list of male composers, ranging from sub-minor to minor to major to super-major.

Admittedly, we only spent half an hour on this exercise and, had we spent the whole day and used some reference literature, we could probably have done better. As it was, we barely got to a hundred, scraping the bottom of the barrel, where some 18th century Russian liturgical composers reside next to the lesser known Dutch and English polyphonists of the Elizabethan era (or whatever it was called in Holland).

Now it’s fair to assume that – due to discrimination only! – male composers must have outnumbered female ones at least 100 to one throughout history. Hence, accepting on faith the 6,000 figure put forth by the BBC, there must be more than 600,000 shamefully masculine composers languishing in the dark dungeons of history, waiting to come out and see the blinding light of fame.

I hope you realise that we’re no longer talking just about ignorance, stupidity and tastelessness. The toxic ideology of feminism has poisoned the brains of our culture vultures, rendering them certifiably mad.

Edwina Wolstencroft, BBC Radio 3’s editor, confirmed this clinical diagnosis when announcing plans to broadcast works by female composers, emphatically including Fanny Mendelssohn. I hope, said Miss Wolstencroft that “the live broadcast contributes towards Fanny’s recognition as a musical genius.”

Right. Fanny is ‘a musical genius’. So what term shall we use to describe those MCPs Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert? Since the verbal scale of human artistic attainment doesn’t really go higher than genius, we can only assume one of three things.

Either those gentlemen were demigods, sitting at the right hand of Apollo atop the musical Olympus, or Miss Wolstencroft et al. genuinely believe that Fanny is every bit their equal, or this lot care not about music but ideology expressed through music.

Dismissing the first assumption as sheer paganism, we have to accept some combination of the second and third ones as the likely cause.

Then we realise what a subversive role the BBC and likeminded institutions play in our culture, of which music is the salient representation. They are the enemy within, cancerous cells gradually eating away at everything that’s healthy and genuine.

As such, they cause even a greater harm than pop excretions. At least no one seriously considers those as the acme of the human spirit. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if Miss Wolstencroft does.

When does it stop being funny?

I have a confession to make: I like puerile and even prurient humour, provided it’s funny.

Of course what’s funny to me may be offensive to you, tasteless to him and ought to be against the law to them. Fair enough.

But I’d rather a joke were puerile and even prurient than anodyne. Too many times have I been left feeling like a pariah in the company of clubbable gentlemen. One of them would tell a joke sounding as if he’d left the punch line out. All around me would be in stitches, while I’d be unable even to crack a polite smile.

Alternatively, I’d also feel like a pariah when, in a similar company, telling a joke I found hilarious and everyone else present felt like having me arrested.

Sometimes, when I’ve had a good night’s sleep, I can even come up with a decent one-liner myself. I recall some 30 years ago, when I had just moved from New York to London, talking about the race situation in America to the very embodiment of a clubbable gentleman (for the outlanders among you, ‘clubbable’ means fit for membership in a Pall Mall club, not someone you’d like to club, although the two may well go hand in hand).

Anyway, I remarked that most American blacks tend to be left-wing. “They are left-wing because they are black,” suggested my interlocutor. “It’s the other way around,” I replied. “They’re black because they’re left-wing.” (I’ll spare you some of my jokes that fall into the puerile and prurient category.)

This lengthy preamble is an attempt at self-justification. For I have another confession to make: I like Jimmy Carr, the comedian most of my friends find beyond the pale. Obscene, tasteless, foul-mouthed, is what they call him. All true. Yet, to me, also funny. Sometimes.

The other day he appeared on Desert Island Discs. For the outlanders among you, this is a radio interview show first broadcast in 1942. A guest is asked which eight recordings, one book and one luxury item he’d like to have as a castaway.

His selections say a lot about the man. For example, though I still have enormous respect for Enoch Powell, I took it down a notch when, back in 1989, most of the politician’s musical selections were by Wagner. One has to be mad, I thought, to want to listen mostly to Wagner his whole life, or for that matter at all.

What interested me about Jimmy Carr’s appearance wasn’t his selections, but the subject touched upon in the interview. Is there anything he wouldn’t consider a laughing matter?

Obviously the latitude Mr Carr allows himself is practically limitless, as some of his material shows: “They say there’s safety in numbers. Go tell this to the six million Jews.” Or, “My girlfriends keep telling me they’re pregnant. I say, hey, I’m not made of coat hangers!”

He defended such irreverence on the show: “Because people are offended, does not make them right. Nobody should be drawing a line…” No line at all?

Oh well, there’s one exception: the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, when 94 people were crushed to death at a football stadium: “You could never joke about Hillsborough, as it’s a tragedy that’s touched people in a very specific way, and I cannot imagine anybody coming up with a joke about that.”

So Mr Carr does draw a line, but he draws it in funny places. Why just Hillsborough, appalling as it is? Why not Dunblane? The Holocaust? Our mutilated soldiers in Iraq (“We’ll have a f****** good Paralympic team,” he once quipped.) Why just Hillsborough?

One can only guess at Mr Carr’s motives, although PR probably has a role to play. As a Cambridge alumnus, he’s seen as rather posh, which nowadays is a failing in need of counterbalancing. It’s conceivably to that end that Mr Carr loads his jokes with swearwords more than do many comedians who only ever went to the school of hard knockers.

It’s conceivably for the same reason that he elevated football fans, generally seen as downmarket, to secular sainthood, putting them off limits for jokes. God isn’t afforded the same exemption.

When offered the Bible as one of his books for the island, Carr said he’d burn it “to help start his fire”. That’s what made me think about humour and its limits.

I hope you won’t think me solipsistic if I again refer to my own experience, that of a lifetime wag. As I grow older, I find that the areas open to my wisecracks are getting narrower. At times I don’t even deliver a funny line because I’m scared of offending. Not so much my immediate audience – I fear offending God.

As a lapsed Catholic and now an atheist, Mr Carr is clearly immune to such concerns. I just hope, for his sake, that before tossing the Bible in the fire, he reads one verse:

“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”

Then, to be on the safe side, he may have a Pascal wager with himself – one never knows. Meanwhile, have you heard the one about…

Russians storm the Reichstag again

Suppose for the sake of argument that the Navy Seals have joined our own SAS in fine-tuning their urban warfare tactics on a mock-up of the Kremlin. At the same time, Western intelligence services are conducting a full-blown electronic war aimed at paralysing Russia’s infrastructure and disrupting her political process.

How do you suppose the Russians would react? Don’t know about you, but even as we speak I’m hearing hysterical shrieks about the rebirth of Nazi belligerence, Nato’s far-reaching imperialist designs, Russophobia and taking the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust.

In parallel, I can hear the likes of Peter Hitchens assuring us that the Russians have a point, that they’ve been surrounded by Western enemies throughout their history and are therefore understandably sensitive and, well, yes, Nato is imperialist and, if the Russians respond with ICBMs, we’ll have only ourselves to blame. Unless, or perhaps even if, this happens, we’ve nothing to fear from the strong, Christian, conservative leader Putin we wish we had.

Well, this situation isn’t at all hypothetical, except that the boot is on the other foot. Russia’s defence minister Shoigu has announced that the army is building a full-scale model of the Reichstag for training purposes. In other words, Russian troops are going to practise storming the building of Germany’s parliament.

The initiative has touched a chord in the mysterious Russian soul directly linked to a much-touted superior spirituality. Thousands of cars around Moscow are tastefully decorated with bumper stickers saying ‘To Berlin!’, ‘We can do it again!’ and ‘If you don’t like talking to Lavrov [foreign minister], you’ll talk to Shoigu’.

Drums are rolling and bugles blowing throughout the Russian press, with enough din to bring down the walls of Jericho – or of the Reichstag if you’d rather.

Compared to the hypothetical situation I outlined above, the Germans reacted to the real one rather nonchalantly. The word ‘provocation’ was mooted, but not too loudly, while the government spokesman dismissed the whole thing with a shrug of the shoulders: “This development is unexpected, speaks for itself and requires no comment”.

Yet even that limp-wristed response enraged the Russians. The defence ministry spokesman thundered: “Such attacks by German politicians not only cause extreme consternation but also make one ponder their real convictions as regards the ‘builders’ of the Third Reich in 1933-1945.”

Quite. The Germans’ mild dismay at seeing their parliament building used for storming exercises proves they are crypto-Nazis longing for world conquest and Auschwitz.

One wonders how the Russians would feel if Berlin were inundated with a profusion of bumper stickers saying ‘Wir Schaffen das Nochmals!’, ‘Drang nach Osten’ and ‘Sieg Heil!’. My imagination doesn’t stretch that far.

When it comes to the Russian threat, we don’t have to stay in the subjunctive mood for long. The present features non-stop Russian cyber attacks against Western institutions and infrastructure.

To me, there’s only a distinction without a difference between bombing a command centre and jamming its communications – or between slandering a Western politician into resignation and assassinating him. Both are acts of war.

Critically, this observation is shared by General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, deputy supreme allied commander in Europe. Gen. Bradshaw isn’t averse to treating electronic warfare as cause to invoke Article 5 of the Nato charter, in which an attack on one member state is an attack on all:

“Well Article 5 is when it’s declared to be Article 5… It is a political decision, but no, it is not out of the question that aggression, blatant aggression, in a domain other than conventional warfare might be deemed to be Article 5.”

Gen. Bradshaw emphasised that: “We require the ability to defend our vital assets from aggression in any area.” He then added a remark phrased in the only way the Russians understand: “Do not mess with Nato. You set foot in one of these countries… you’re taking on Nato with all that that implies… so woe betide a nation that does that.”

One wishes that Nato commanders spoke in this fashion when they aren’t as close to retirement as Gen. Bradshaw is (next summer). And that their statements were backed up with resolve on the part of Western governments.

Such resolve should be expressed not just in words but in tangible measures, of which a sizeable increase in defence budget is the most obvious and immediate. Say what you will about Trump’s affection for the Russians, but he seems to understand this, as his announcement of a seven per cent increase in US defence spending testifies.

Yet it’s not all about beefing up the military. It’s also – mostly – about beefing up the resolve to use it should this become necessary. History shows that wishy-washy ambiguity on the part of Western governments serves only to embolden wicked aggressors. The Second World War followed Munich not only chronologically but also causally.

Are we capable of learning the lessons of history? The French poet and thinker Paul Valéry doubted that: “The only thing one can learn from history is a propensity for chauvinism. There are no other lessons.”

Unless we prove him wrong by learning the lessons of the 1938 appeasement, we’ll invite similar consequences. Actually, given the technological advances of which modernity is so proud, the consequences may be far worse.

Is that a promise or a threat, Sir John?

John Major isn’t the sharpest chisel in the box – in fact, he resembles the box more than a chisel. But at least the box used to be seen as solid and sturdy, if dull-grey.

Yet the man who signed away Britain’s sovereignty and then engineered the ERM disaster, costing the taxpayer £3.4 billion, has gone barmy. As one symptom, he has lost touch with reality.

The other day Major fulminated against Mrs May, Brexit and all the fools and/or knaves who had voted for it. This was followed by the customary litany of disasters to befall a Britain no longer governed by Angie the Merkin and Jean-Claude Junk.

Brace yourself, for the future is gruesome. We’ll have to “change Britain’s economic model”. Now make sure you’re sitting down: we’ll have to run a low-tax, low-regulation economy.

You know, the kind that has proved a stratospheric success everywhere it has been tried. For example, that’s how all those Asian lambs turned into tigers, how Germany produced her post-war economic miracle (snappily called Wirtschaftswunder), how Britain herself had become a global empire before the likes of Sir John took over.

So why is it such a bad thing? Well, you see, “We cannot move to a radical enterprise economy without moving away from a welfare state”. Crikey. No welfare state, fancy that. How did Britannia ever manage to rule the waves without it?

And, a catastrophe of all catastrophes: the NHS will have to be dismantled. Let’s see. The NHS kicked off in 1948. Major signed away Britain’s sovereignty in 1992. How did the NHS manage to survive for 44 years in the interim? It did soldier on, with no Maastricht Treaty yet in sight.

One wonders what part of sovereignty Sir John doesn’t understand. All of them, by the sound of him: “…people who voted to leave Europe in the belief that it might improve their lives… their expectations will not be met and whole communities will be worse off.”

Well, I didn’t vote for Brexit in the expectation of a better life, at least not economically. It’s just that, for historical, constitutional and moral reasons, I want to live in a sovereign Britain, not one bossed by Angie the Merkin and Jean-Claude Junk. And from what I’ve heard, many share my feelings.

Reducing the whole thing to economics is missing the point – even when done by people who understand the discipline, a category that emphatically doesn’t include Major.

His limp grasp of economics was amply demonstrated during his tenure as chancellor and then prime minister. He doesn’t seem to know that these days cutting taxes and regulations isn’t just the best but the only known recipe for prosperity.

Nor does Major have the moral sense to realise that continuing to brainwash people about the NHS is appalling demagoguery. Or rather it’s not just morality that he lacks but also the ability to think sequentially.

Forgetting for a second that, like all giant socialist projects, the NHS was designed to serve not the people but the state, let’s look at it from a practical viewpoint.

Let’s start with the unassailable assumption, born out of empirical evidence, that civilised countries provide adequate medical care one way or another. Though these ways differ from country to country, they fall into three broad groups: wholly or predominantly socialist (Britain), wholly or predominantly private (US), a balanced mixture thereof (Western Europe).

The NHS is therefore not the end but a means, to be weighed against other means. Such a weighing exercise will show that wholly or predominantly socialist medicine is by far the worst possible way of looking after people’s health.

That’s why no other Western European country, some of which are in general more socialist than Britain, has chosen it, relying instead on a mixed system. And medical care in, say, France and Germany is provided more efficiently.

What they have may not be ideal, but the French don’t have to wait three weeks for a GP appointment, nor three years for a hospital bed. We do, which suggests that socialism doesn’t work in medicine any better than anywhere else.

Yet, following 70 years of relentlessly stupefying propaganda, the British attach sacramental significance to the NHS. It’s off limits for criticism, just as God is to believers. And this is the fallacy that Major is exploiting in his fear-mongering.

Tackle Tory hardliners, he hectors Mrs May, or it will be the death of the NHS. Is that a promise or a threat, Sir John?

Supposing, against all available evidence, that Britain regains economic sanity following Brexit, does this mean people will die in the streets with no medical help available? Of course not.

Medical care will be provided, and in a better way. Why, we may even increase our number of hospital beds to a pre-NHS 400,000, from today’s puny 140,000. We may even start building hospitals at the 1930s rate, a decade in which 10 times more hospitals were built than in the seven NHS decades.

Sir John ‘Edwina’ Major ought to be ashamed of himself for appealing to false idols so blatantly. But he won’t be. Shame isn’t something his kind can feel.

Dubya, he don’t like Donald

Throughout the Obama presidency, George W. Bush stoically refrained from uttering a word of criticism. His respect for the institution of the presidency was so strong that he wouldn’t douse it with the cold water of negativity.

Now either his stoicism has eroded or his respect for the office has diminished, but Dubya has decided to take a swing at the president from his own party.

A cynic might suspect Dubya of waging a personal vendetta, for the Bush clan has a bit of previous with Trump. During the campaign for the Republican nomination, Trump destroyed not just Jeb Bush’s candidature but probably his whole political career.

He took savage and highly effective swipes not just at Jeb, whom he mockingly called Bush III, but at the whole dynasty. The dynasty closed ranks, and now Dubya has lashed out.

He started out by demanding answers to the questions on any contacts that Trump and his men may have had with Russian intelligence officers, which isn’t an unreasonable request. I’ll repeat what I’ve said many times before: any illegal contact of that nature isn’t just an indiscretion but a capital crime.

But, as with any crime, the alleged perpetrator is innocent until proven guilty. So let’s sweep that accusation under the rug for now and see what else has made Dubya break his vow of silence.

We shouldn’t, he said in a thinly veiled reference to Trump’s immigration policy, prosecute people for their religion: “One of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to…”

This proves that Dubya has read the First Amendment to the US Constitution, which is remarkable since he isn’t a bookish type. Neither is he a rigorous logician, for one doesn’t see any immediate link between prosecuting people for their faith and limiting for a while immigration from certain countries.

Since these days I’m given to homespun parallels, I’m not prosecuting my neighbours by not inviting them to dinner. Neither am I thereby suggesting even remotely that they shouldn’t eat anywhere else. I’m simply exercising my right to choose my guests.

“I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and that upholds the law,” added Bush, displaying yet again his only conspicuous talent: uttering meaningless platitudes.

How welcoming are we talking here? Indiscriminately? But America has never had an unqualified open-door policy, not in my rather long memory at any rate. Nor can America or any other country vet every migrant thoroughly, certainly not those millions coming from uncivilised – sorry, I mean differently civilised – countries. Hence vetting by category is unavoidable.

Anyway, if I were Dubya, I’d shut up about other people’s policies towards Muslims. His first reaction to 9/11 was to say that Islam is a religion of peace because not every Muslim is a terrorist. That’s like saying that Nazism was a philosophy of peace because not every NSDAP member gassed Jews.

His second reaction was to launch a criminally stupid war to promote democracy in tribal Muslim societies, while divesting of WMD those countries that were known not to possess them. It’s largely thanks to that criminal, neocon-inspired folly that the whole world is struggling to deal with the genie let out of the bottle.

But for Dubya’s well-documented inanity, his successors, not to mention Europeans, wouldn’t be trying in vain to keep millions of Muslims (guaranteed to include thousands of jihadists) off their immigration rolls.

“I don’t like racism,” explained Bush, implying that Trump’s meek attempts to reduce the number of potentially murderous arrivals are motivated by that deadly sin. No proof of that transgression was proffered.

How many Muslims would a politician have to admit to absolve himself? One million? Ten? Is racism the only possible reason for the reluctance to do so?

What else? Oh yes, Trump has responded tetchily to the media’s frenzied attacks the likes of which haven’t been seen since Watergate.

Though Trump’s response may have been ill-advisedly peevish, I’m man enough to admit that I probably wouldn’t have displayed greater patience under the circumstances. I’ve been known to tell people much worse things with much less provocation.

In any case, no averagely intelligent person would interpret what Trump said as an assault on freedom of the press. A man attacked has a right to defend himself, and no president has been attacked as vehemently and hysterically as Trump, before he has even had the chance to do anything.

Such considerations didn’t prevent Dubya from regaling us with more meaningless banalities. Freedom of the press, he kindly explained, is a good thing because: “Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power…”

Lord Acton once explained the corrupting potential of power more epigrammatically (“…and absolute power corrupts absolutely”), but then he was a clever man, which is more than can be said for some others I could mention.

As to the sly dig at Trump, does Bush think that talking back to the braying press constitutes a greater abuse of power than using false evidence to expose the world to the innate violence of the ‘religion of peace’?

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy,” was another Bush profundity. True. But politicians like him are deadly to it.