A Chilling Coincidence

Today we have lunch with a man who was telling us his memories, from being ten years old, of Krystalllnacht.

This afternoon, I saw this photo and article in the Guardian, showing how the Brexit referendum has authorized not just racism, but violent racism.  Headline:

‘A frenzy of hatred’: how to understand Brexit racism

Please look at the photo.  Looks just like Krystallnacht.




Brexit Contrarian Thoughts #2: The Result is a Consequence of Massive Political Campign Malpractice on Both Sides

Usually, in the days after an election, the winner does all they can to maximize the claims of mandate.  Here, you see the opposite, with the Boris Johnsons of the world basically denying everything.  If I were a leave voter, I am no longer sure what I have voted for.  So good campaigning is about getting a result without promising things for which you will be held to account.

The sins on the Remain campaign side are much worse.  In a proper campaign, techniques of micro-targeting would have caused every interest group to know about the specific grants that would be lost, the road and infrastructure projects that would be abandoned, the jobs that would be at risk.  Yes, even British plumbers would know of the risk — and British homeowners (particularly those who enter into home improvement contracts) would know of the likely increase of plumbing costs.  (I know that UK election rules are different from the US, but right now, at least, its hard to argue that they are better!)

Moreover, the absence of vision in either campaign was astonishing.

So, this suggests that no-one is qualified to lead the battle to reverse the result.  But is also suggests that a properly run campaign has every chance of winning, provided a way can be found to make it seem legitimate.  The question is whether the Liberal Democrats can summon the energy to do it right. A least they have the legitimacy.

I would point out only this.  At the time of the earlier referendum, there was no provision in the treaty for secession.  So the will of the 1975 voter, for a final non-reversible judgement, is being thwarted by this vote.  Anyway, if politicians are allowed to change their minds, why not voters?





Trump Should Learn from Monty Python, and Launch an “Other-Other Operation.”

I love this juxtaposition:

On Politico today,

With the convention less than a month away, POLITICO contacted more than 50 prominent governors, senators and House members to gauge their interest in speaking. Only a few said they were open to it, and everyone else said they weren’t planning on it, didn’t want to, or weren’t going to Cleveland at all — or simply didn’t respond.

While, also today, on the New York Times,

[The Trump campaign and the RNC] are employing hard-nosed tactics, warning delegates that attempting to undermine Donald J. Trump’s claim to the nomination violates party rules, and threatening to deny speaking slots to Republicans they deem disloyal for not backing him.

Can I suggest that Trump and the RNC should learn from Monty Python and announce that any delegates that undermine the campaign will have long videos of them shown at the convention, demonstrating their participation in the same party as Trump.

This could be  “the turning point” starting on this clip from the Monty Python Dinsdale sketch at 3:00, for about 45 secs.)


Contrarian Reponses to Brexit #1: Why Such a Big Deal?

There is such a massive world media response after the vote because the result was so inconsistent with Britain’s long-term image, and self-image, in the world.

As one brought up in a country that still believes that “[limted] executive power derives from some farcical [non-aquatic] ceremony,” I sometimes find it hard to remeber how distorted the UK image in the world is.

We (meaning all including the UK here) think of the UK as educated, intelligent, witty, tolerant, calm, principled, classy, well-governed, and above all as living in the world so well portrayed in what my family has long called “Master-Race Theater.”  At its core has been the idea of Britain “standing alone” against Nazism.  At some level, we all thought we could rely on the UK, if not to save the world again, at least to act as a real anchor against chaos.

But last week forced that image into conflict with the reality of a small, short-sighted, disunited, unpredictable and selfish island with a non-functioning political system.  In other words, it is not so different from the rest of the world.  It is a bit scary.

Now indeed the world wonders if “standing alone,” was less about principled “standing,” and more about being “alone.”  And, let me tell you, British exceptionalism may be more self-deprecatory (at least for some of the people, some of the time), but it is a far more subtle, pervasive, and deeply ingrained version than, for example, the American one.

US exceptionalism, in an idea-driven  pluralistic country, is more about the specialness of the country as a whole .  But British exceptionalism, in a country that all too often still thinks of itself as racially unique, is at least as much about the special character of all its citizens.  That is impossible to budge.  Changing it would require asking people not to think about the world differently, but rather to think about themselves differently.

So the rest of the world, disabused of its faith in the reliability of Britain, is not only disoriented, but a little frightened, as the whole world seems to change in its orbit.


Forced to Choose, In Spirit I Become a European-American Today, Rather Than a British-American

Watching the results last night, I started to realize that I now feel more European then British.  If, as a result of the referendum, I am offered the choice of a British (UK) passport or a general European one, I think I would take the European one.  As a US dual passport holder, who has not lived in the UK since the beginning of 1968, I am not here renouncing my UK rights, but given that choice, that’s my feeling today.  It does not help that I did not even have the right to vote in the UK referendum, even though it is likely to result in the loss of my UK-based right to live and work in the EU.  (By the way, at the end of World War II, many people faced complex changes in citizenship, with hard to make choices.)

I, like many expats, have extensive family links in the EU, in my case in Poland, so that impacts my feelings.  I might even have rights to EU citizenship through Poland, Ireland, or even Scotland (assuming they leave the UK and join the EU, through ancestors.  But, that’s the point, we are European citizens, rather than UK or English ones, just like we are American, rather than Maryland citizens.

I am strongly influenced by respect for the German response to the refugee crisis, which is literally orders of magnitude better than the American.  (Germany has a bit more than a quarter of the US population, but is admitting 200 times the number of Syrian refugees, for a  multiplier of close to 800 times the US per capita rate).

But above all, Europeans have been far more forceful in promoting the European Project, while the latest vote is only the latest manifestation of British ambivalence going back to the 1950’s.  That was reflected in the appalling campaign, that was all, on both sides, about appeal to selfish interests.  (There’s a long history of this.  The Tory election slogan in 1959, inevitably reflecting Britain’s class realities, was “You’ve Never Had It So Good.  Note the “You.”)

In a positive campaign, the challenges Europe is facing would be a reason to stay and help, not one to flee and, literally, closing the UK (or probably just parts of it if) off.  I nearly typed “reason for us to stay and help,” and then realized that I do not feel “us” any more.

I suspect that many, but far from all, UK expats are feeling some of this today.  Even though the EU Project may be able to move forward, at least in the long term, better without the UK, it will ultimately be a less valuable project without my birth country.


ITV on C-SPAN Brexit Coverage Includes Fascinating Twitter/Facebook Analysis

The British ITV Network is being carried live on C-SPAN, and worth watching.

The media consensus is that is very very close, with major impact on the currency markets.

What is interesting is that we have been seeing execs from Twitter and Facebook coming on and both reporting and analyzing the data on their feeds.  This is almost substituting for the exit polls to which we are used.

I expect that we will see similar analysis during our debates (assuming that Trump does not dodge them.)

Lewandowski, CNN, and the Trump Confidentiality Agreement

So now we know, 1)Trump fired Lewandowsi, 2) Lewandowski signed a confidentiality agreement, presumably incuding a “nnon-disparagement” clause, 3) he has since been nice, about Trump, and 4) he is now being paid by CNN to express his opinions.

I am lost.

How, when he is bound by such an agreement, can his words means anything?

Indeed how are they anything other that the utterly predictable words of a spokesman pretending to be commentator — and getting paid by the journalistic platform?

How can CNN claim anymore to be a journalistic news entity?

How can they be surprised when the public distrusts the entire political elite?

Somebody, please explain.

And, please, don’t say that everybody does it.  That’s the standard defense of any corrupt system — indeed any corrupt person.