Samir’s Selection 12/11/2015 (p.m.)

  • tags: PrivateEye IanHislop profile biography UK culture satire JeremyCorbyn DavidCameron

    • He became editor of Private Eye nearly 30 years ago, taking over from Richard Ingrams, who shaped the magazine as the place where the British elite told tales on one another, often getting sued in the process, and poked fun at everyone else.
    • The magazine is private but highly profitable, with a paid circulation of about 230,000 copies, and it gives very little away online. Like the French satirical weekly “Le Canard Enchaîné,” it is printed on cheap paper and looks like a comic book. “The world is changing a lot, but we are now selling more copies than we were 20 years ago, and we have largely bucked the digital trend by not going digital,” Mr. Hislop said.
    • “My only idea has been, don’t give away content for free,” he added. “That’s been my single contribution, and it’s worked for us. And also I’m just very old-fashioned about paying people.”
    • Like its French counterpart, Private Eye combines very funny jokes, many of them unashamedly adolescent, with serious investigative journalism of the kind most British papers no longer do. The trick, Mr. Hislop said, involves the readers, who provide leaks about what they know and love to settle scores.
    • “Professional gossip is really what drives this magazine,” he said. “It’s an insider job, Private Eye. People say, ‘Well, why do you get such good stories?’ and I always say, ‘Well, look who’s reading it.’ These are the people who know, and they tell us. So if you want to find out what’s going on in the Health Service, there are plenty of disgruntled doctors who will tell you. We’ve got people there who know, and M.P.s, and you know how leaky journalism is, so that’s not a problem. Lots of scores to settle.”
    • But he knows the magazine really sells because of the jokes. “It’s expanded in terms of numbers of columns, numbers of areas we look at, but the essential mix is still the same,” he said. “Jokes, journalism. That’s it.” In that order? “Yeah.”
    • Mr. Hislop is an unusual mixture of Scottish skepticism and English faith in tradition, civic virtue and some sort of deity.
    • And he has a streak of little Britain, fascinated by the railways, Scouting and the Victorians, while castigating those who violate the norms of ethical social behavior.

      Satire, he says, has always been about exposing “vice, folly and humbug,” but vice seems to bore him, and he quickly got rid of the magazine’s gossip columns.

    • It is humbug that seems to infuriate him the most. He views Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour Party leader, as the stale politics of the early 1980s. “It all becomes a joke, the idea that this is a new kind of kinder, fresher politics, but it’s exactly the same people with exactly the same background,” he said.

      Some call Mr. Corbyn a pacifist, “but actually he’s only a pacifist if it’s the West. Armed aggression on behalf of other groups he doesn’t have a big problem with,” Mr. Hislop said. “If you point out those sorts of contradictions it’s just reminding people of the things they don’t want to hear about, and they get cross.”

    • “If you want something disgusting the PM has done, there’s loads of it,” he said, citing a new tax on subsidized housing. “It’s all about a pig when he was 20. How about being really appalling when he was 50?”
    • If you have gone to an elite school like Eton, Mr. Hislop said, “you know who Cameron is — he’s very accomplished, very smooth, very confident, not overly diligent,” an intelligent coaster, “clever enough, but you don’t ever feel he’s read any of the detail on anything, none of the footnotes. Which is why he started in public relations, which is not an accident.”
  • tags: Krugman USpolitics France extremism conservative racism fear

    • But why are these voters making themselves heard so loudly now? Have they become much more numerous? Maybe, but it’s not clear. More important, I’d argue, is the way the strategies elites have traditionally used to keep a lid on those angry voters have finally broken down.
    • it looks as if Europe’s establishment has tried to freeze the xenophobic right, not just out of political power, but out of any role in acceptable discourse. To be a respectable European politician, whether of the left or of the right, you have had to accept the European project of ever-closer union, of free movement of people, open borders, and harmonized regulations. This leaves no room for right-wing nationalists, even though right-wing nationalism has always had substantial popular support.
    • Even admirers and supporters of the European project (like me) have to admit that it has never had deep popular support or a lot of democratic legitimacy. It is, instead, an elite project sold largely on the claim that there is no alternative, that it is the path of wisdom.
    • And there’s nothing quite like sustained poor economic performance – the kind of poor performance brought on by Europe’s austerity and hard-money obsessions — to undermine the elite’s reputation for competence. That’s probably why one recent study found a consistent historical relationship between financial crises and the rise of right-wing extremism. And history is repeating itself.
    • What I am saying, however, is that this ugliness has been empowered by the very establishments that now act so horrified at the seemingly sudden turn of events. In Europe the problem is the arrogance and rigidity of elite figures who refuse to learn from economic failure; in the U.S. it’s the cynicism of Republicans who summoned up prejudice to support their electoral prospects. And now both are facing the monsters they helped create.
  • tags: DonaldTrump USpolitics ChrisCillizza

    • Over three hours in Alexandria, Luntz lobbed dozens of Trump-seeking missiles. All 29 in the group had voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. All either supported Trump, or had supported him earlier in the year. To Luntz’s amazement, hearing negative information about the candidate made the voters, only a few of whom gave their full names to the press, hug the candidate tighter.
    • The broader conclusion to be drawn here — and the Luntz focus group reaffirms rather than reveals this reality — is that the people who are for Trump will almost certainly not be peeled off of him no matter what is thrown his way over the coming weeks and months. That’s amazing.
    • At the moment, there is simply no scenario that I can conceive of in which Trump loses a large number of his supporters. Nothing he says. Nothing that is said about him. Nothing.

      That means there is absolutely zero that establishment Republicans can do other than hope fervently that Trump’s momentum slows or stops on its own or, somehow, he collapses under his own weight.

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