Anxiety driven ideation

Anxiety driven follow up.

It just takes corruption in five states; FL, NC, and GA are super easy. Then there would be lawsuits which the Supreme Court would shut down to Protect a Divided Nation, much like Scalia did in 2000. We just can’t keep counting! Yes, that decision was explicitly said not to be a precedent, but, hey! Now it could be! Why not! And they’ve already shown their hand with Wisconsin. Counting votes? We can’t just “count” “votes”! Who even knows what “count” and “votes” even mean! Originalists can cherry pick whatever 18th cent text they want to write a decision they don’t even need, frankly, except for form’s sake. What’s anyone going to do? Disapprove?

And if one conservative justice clutches their pearls, they have enough anyway. Gorsuch and Roberts would have to team up with the liberals, which they’re not likely to do. Play ball, your kids get jobs. Look at Scalia’s son.


I think a lot about patriotism. In the way a blind person might muse about colors or an autistic person might wonder about facial expressions.

I find anthems stirring and flags have an effect on me. So do cathedrals and organ music, but they don’t make me believe in a god. What I conclude from that is that there are feelings that can be induced by certain visual and aural stimuli. There, that’s the lesson, the whole lesson.

I remember an old acting teacher of mine, John Stix. He said that dialog, the words we speak, are the ruffle on the edge of the dancer’s skirt. A minor side effect of the main action. So if someone does something heroic or incredibly generous, or something horrible and murderous and selfish, the fact that they utter religious or patriotic words as they do it is of little interest—the action is the thing. If you see a nature show with seals on the beach, all cavorting and barking and squealing, you can tell which are courting or competing or fighting — you don’t need to understand what the barking means. Same with us. Religion and patriotism are the noises we make as we follow our subconscious urges and do what we wanted to do anyway. We just make noises as we do things—big deal.

Likewise, I don’t think any country has a monopoly on … well, anything. I’m safe and can prosper in some countries at some times, but not at other times. And certain ethno/religious/national groups may be more comfortable in some places at some times than in others. The trick is not being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
There is a museum in Paris, the Musée Nissim de Camondo, which is some dead rich guy’s house; a Jewish banker, as it happens. He had great taste and was a collector of nice things. He had been a banker in Turkey. Things got dicey there for all the reasons things can get dicey for rich Jews (some gentile wanting their money is the usual thing), and he left. If I remember, he basically bought himself and his family Italian passports, and then French. They settled in this grand mansion in 1911. His children ended up rounded up by the Vichy regime. I think they died in the camps.

We thought we were going to see nice furniture and china, and ended up weeping. Now, that’s a museum. Highly recommended.

So if I moved to France or Germany, I would certainly worry about the Front National or Alternativ für Deutschland. Actually, more the latter than the former. The FN has learned the Republican trick of making nice with Jews as partners against a) atheist Communists and b) insufficiently atheist Muslims to inoculate themselves against claims of religious intolerance (though they haven’t learned the next trick of referring to “Judeo-Christian” values; I guess laïcité makes that awkward). AfD seems to be keeping its anti-semitic powder dry for now, but they tolerate it in their followers, much like the Republicans do.

As I muse about patriotism, I think about the Good German–the unimpeachably ‘Aryan’ person who had no particular beef with Jews (some of their best friends…), but was in no personal danger (if a guy, might have been drafted… let’s say he’s too old or has a club foot). What should they do? Keep their head down and wait for better times as they think about Eternal German Values and how they’ve been distorted This One Time? Should they emigrate? Should they join the Resistance and sabotage the war effort at tremendous personal risk? We might have mild contempt for the first, understand the second, and admire the third. What would you do? I like to think I’d be the cunning resistance fighter, but I’d probably be the coward who does the easy thing. If family history gave me a second passport, I certainly might leave, even if I weren’t in personal danger.

These are tough questions. I can send money to various movements, BLM and such. I might even protest were it not for Covid and my and my wife’s age and vulnerability.

Or I could leave, if it were not for family and the weight of property.

Consider the odds

Yes, there are many imponderables. People kept away at the polls at the last minute, mail-in ballots diverted, maybe a Black person shot by police in Philadelphia to provoke unrest and drive more iffy Republicans to the polls to protect Their Way of Life™, which, apparently, requires streets paved with dead Black bodies.

Oh, wait. That last thing just happened. I can check that box. The bloody cherry on top.

I’m reading a book called The Drunkard’s Walk about probability and statistics, which I find soothing. The writer is Leonard Mlodinow, who co-wrote A Brief History of Time. So he’s, you know, Good. If you ever thought you should know more about prob and stat, but thought it would be too boring to bear, this is the book. He’s a sparkling writer. And I find having a dispassionate take on the odds can have a calming effect. Combine that with the 538 Politics Podcast, where Nate Silver talks in his very slightly Aspergerish way about odds, what they tell us and what they don’t.

Of all the things that scare me, such as heavily armed gangs of excited goyim, I think I was most frightened by the redefinition of “elite” to mean people with education, rather than people with money and influence. So an adjunct professor of history who makes $40k is elite, while the owner of a chain of exterminators who makes $500k and plays golf with your congressman is not. That takes us one more step toward Pol Pot and putting people with eyeglasses into work camps.

Oh well. Living in earthquake country, it’s always been a good idea to have a Go Box, with important documents in it. Of course, when they give a Proud Boys lieutenant my house and paintings, I don’t think showing my deed to the house to the authorities will have any effect. Deepfake!

Rootless Cosmopolitans

When I was working in Lyon, the team would have lunch together and talk politics and religion. One dude was complaining about immigrants or hijabs or something, and I said something like, Did you enjoy your empire? This is the flip side. You liked the parades and the military dudes with medals and tanks? Congratulations, they’ve brought you les banlieues. Getting rich off of Africa means that Africans are going to be your neighbors.

French cultural note — that was perfectly OK office lunchtime banter.

I feel the same way about the US and Central America. Those people are fleeing chaos we created. Not that chaos doesn’t happen for many other reasons, Zinn and Chomsky notwithstanding, but this particular chaos, in Guatemala and Honduras for instance, we own that. We should take their refugees, no questions asked, until the end of time.

I suspect that it’s hard to have been an empire, even if the empire was in the year 900. Faded memories of greatness are a burden we are not intended to carry. We just don’t do it well… it makes us mean and stupid. I think France carries it off a little better than many, and I give La Revolution credit for that—an awareness that the villain is the rich guy and the cleric. That probably-not-Diderot quote is salutary: La Révolution n’est pas fini jusqu’à ce que le dernier roi est étouffé avec les boyaux du dernier prêtre. Or something like that. And if Jews have any advantage in their culture, it’s that, if they had an Empire, it was thousands of years ago under David. But still, Jews all over the world read about that every day. And now they have control of a nation again.

My family is the ultimate “blood and soil” bugaboo; we are all proud rootless cosmopolitans. I don’t think any of us ever came to America for “liberty”. My great grandfather came to San Francisco for the gold rush, my grandparents went to Hollywood for showbiz, my father went to New York for publishing. My mother, too, came to New York, specifically. Not Sioux City, where, presumably, there’s just as much Liberty™ as NY. But she was fleeing the small town for the big city, not Canada for the US.

And if my grandparents had given up on Hollywood dreams, they could have stayed in London instead of getting on that next boat. Or they could have gone to South Africa where, as Jews, they would have been considered conditionally quasi-White and had plenty of Liberty (and cheap domestic help). Or Palestine where they would have had Liberty, but the kaffee mit schlag would have sucked. But Hollywood was where the action was.

The Shrinking Majority in a Democracy

If you are in a world of Kings and Monarchies, you might take it for granted that Royalty is in place for (perhaps) Divine reasons. God made it so, and so it must be. And if Royalty misbehaves, that’s God’s will and we should be clever in not being noticed by them, lest we incur their displeasure.

If you live in a colony founded by Royal Decree, and you are far away from the displeasure of the dreaded Royals, you might start to Think Differently. It seems arbitrary and capricious that people, of highly variable talents and character but who are of a particular bloodline of someone who won a war a long time ago, get to be rulers Just Because.

You might, if you were a somewhat Deep Thinker, wonder about what gives a Government the Right to Govern. And you might conclude that it is the Consent of the Governed.

Okay. And that gets us to the Enlightenment and the Age of Revolutions.

Now, say you live in a World of Democracies. You are a member of an Ethnic or Cultural Group and it seems to you as if the Interests of your Ethnic or Cultural Group keep being ignored or denigrated by the Democratically elected Government. If you are in the Minority, you try to get everyone in your Group to vote. If that is not sufficient, you try to persuade members of other Ethno-Cultural Groups to vote with you. Perhaps you need to increase suffrage, perhaps you need to persuade disenchanted members of your Group to have Hope and to behave Optimistically. Perhaps you need to tell your Story in such a way that other Groups see themselves in your Story.

So far so good.

Let’s say you are in the Majority while this is happening. Normally, things Go your Way because you’re in the Majority. You have the Power to dictate How Things Go. Any Minorities that want to Live a Good Life can vote with you. You get to decide which Minorities are OK and which are Not-OK.

But a new consensus is forming and your numbers are shrinking and suddenly Democracy seems to bring other people’s and groups’ interests to the fore.

What is the Former Majority to think about Democracy now? Suddenly it doesn’t look so obviously Good.

In many countries, Syria and Russia, for instance, minorities govern. There are sham Elections, because Elections Are Good, but those who support the interest of the Minorities Always Win. Right-thinking people scorn those systems. The Sacred Vote! One Man One Vote!

As someone clever said about the Arab World: One Man, One Vote, this one time.

In America, far-Right White Supremacists have always been deeply suspicious of our Sacred Constitution. After all, it never mentions White people. It does have the 3/5ths business, so, OK, but it does not guarantee that White Men shall always be In Charge.

Looked at that way, from the Point of View of disenchanted White Men, Democracy and universal suffrage could be seen as an insult, just a sneaky way to take their (God-Given) privilege away and give it to the Less-Deserving.

Yes, it all sounds depressingly familiar.

If you are a member of an Ethno-Cultural Group that enjoyed Dominance in a Democracy, but your numbers are dwindling, it is conceivable that Democracy might seem to have Worn out its Welcome. Yes, it was a wonderful, and Philosophically Satisfying, way to have power in the land, but now there must be Other Ways. So maybe deny others the vote, make it harder to vote, have Judges who declare that maybe “voting” is not something absolutely everyone needs to do. Get Intellectuals to Opine on the topic.

After all, nobody is being oppressed by a King, that’s a long-ago battle. Now we are just grasping at power.

And that’s how it ends.