We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Even unto the 10th generation (depending on what the meaning of ‘is’ is)

Elizabeth Warren helped her academic career by claiming benefits available to members of a minority group – in her case, native american. Later it turned out she had no evidence of this. One of her ancestors was a soldier who guarded native americans on the ‘trail of tears’ but there was no traceable first nations ancestry – just (she said) a family legend.

Some people suggested it was fraud and hypocrisy to take minority benefits when you had no evidence you were one. And Donald Trump said he’d pay $1 million to any charity she chose if she could show she was.

Now she has taken a DNA test. As she supported the recounts in some states after he won, so likewise I would not in the least blame him for demanding a confirming second test supervised by agreed experts. Let us assume, however, for the sake of argument, that, just as those recounts did not change the outcome, so a second test gives either

a) a minimally-similar result: Senator Warren has a single tenth generation native american ancestor

or

b) an even better result: suppose, for example, that a more detailed check shows she has a single fifth-generation native american ancestor

Two questions arise.

The first, as a man once said, depends upon what the meaning of ‘is’ is. For the purpose of claiming minority benefits and status in today’s identity culture, does being a minority extend unto the fifth generation? How about unto the tenth generation? (And if, as the NYT reported in 2014, the average european american is 0.18% native american, are they all entitled to these benefits?)

The second is: did Trump just win a bet or lose it? I guess that would depend on what exactly he said and whether he later clarified it. If he said ‘any’ amerindian ancestry, I think he just lost. If he said ‘is’ amerindian, I think he just won. If he’d ever clarified it to, “Has a proportion of native american descent that is at least a full standard deviation’s worth above the mean for the US population” – then I’d think he (was being advised by a statistician and) may have won, but if he’d said “mode” instead of “mean”, could Warren’s charity be in with a chance? Should Trump pay a percentage of $1 million equal to her percentage of first-nations ancestry – or that percentage divided by the percentage that US universities typically demand when handing out minority benefits?

In this time of polarisation, I’d like to think at least a political bet could be settled. It would be a pity if, unlike presidential elections in the US constitution, this one proves not to have been well-enough defined beforehand.

The NYT article was about the difficulty the old south had defining exactly who was black and who was not. Everything old is new again.

Suicidal logic

Theresa May said the appointment of Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role [Minister for Suicide Prevention] will help tackle the stigma surrounding suicide. While suicide rates are falling, 4500 people commit suicide every year. (BBC Text News this morning)

Creating a new role to solve a problem that is diminishing anyway may seem like a clever move to a politician, but I’m not so sure. If Minister Jackie Doyle-Price removes enough of the ‘stigma’ surrounding suicide, might the rate start rising again?

Of course, that might not be so much of a problem, politically. Back in the 70s Labour appointed a Minister for Drought after a long spell of dry weather. The heavens then opened – and he was reappointed Minister for Floods. When Jackie Doyle-Price has removed enough of the stigma surrounding suicide that you can get euthanasia on the NHS, perhaps she’ll be reappointed the Minister for Assisted Suicide.

Meanwhile, what does one make of Theresa May saying that there are too many suicides so we must remove the ‘stigma’ surrounding it. Should I assume that in the past, when I thought she was “thick as a brick”, I really hadn’t grasped how stupid she was. Or should I, more charitably, assume the PM reads (and signs?) whatever her civil servants put in front of her without thinking about it, while worrying every day “How long have I yet to live?” (politically).

Putting the ‘social’ in socialised medicine

The NHS is trialling group consultations. Instead of seeing your doctor one-on-one, up to 15 people will be seen all at the same time. One’s experience of medicine (or rather, ten or fifteen’s experience of it) will certainly be more social under these plans – especially as these group consultations will apparently include such issues as erectile disfunction. This should help achieve the old marxist aim of ‘abolishing the private sphere of life’.

As usual, however, socialism’s compassionate attempt to provide

a “fun and efficient” way to carry out consultations with patients who shared the same conditions

is being resisted by some old-fashioned reactionaries who claim to feel

“incredibly uncomfortable” discussing personal matters with large groups of strangers

overlooking the fact that, since the average NHS GP serves a specific contiguous area, such groups will not always be of strangers – they may often include neighbours and acquaintances.

See something, say nothing, do nothing:
how the Grauniad became the Girthiad

Four decades ago, the Guardian newspaper dared not defy its then-powerful printsetting unions – so its morning editions often had unfortunate typos. Sometimes these were spotted by journalists at what would have been just-in-time moments before the print-run began, but woe betide anyone who dared alter the type with his own un-printsetter-unionised hand – or suggest that union-negotiated printsetter hours be disregarded.

The Guardian has been called the Grauniad ever since. (The unions are gone but the tradition lingers – in 2014, the Guardian reported that a crucial UN summit sought “a global agreement to find climate change before the end of the year.”)

When the chance timelines of separate stories resulted in last Tuesday’s front-cover, I think it likely some, even at the Grauniad, noticed something. In live broadcasts, I understand how unfortunate adjacencies in BBC news may juxtapose themselves too late to be avoided. But at the Grauniad, there must have been long minutes, if not hours, before the moment when the print-run began and the cover below also appeared on the web that is forever.

FightFatphobiaBeHealthy

But clearly, noone at the Grauniad dared say anything. It’s not just us who “can’t say that”; they also silence themselves.

(h/t David Thompson, well worth reading on this, via Instapundit)

No bible cake – fine; no trans cake – crime

Ironically, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission actually defended another baker who refused to bake a cake that would convey a message. In 2015, the commission declined to take up an appeal involving Azucar Bakery, which refused to bake Bible-shaped cakes with messages against homosexuality. The bakery’s owner, Marjorie Silva, said she refused to bake the cakes because the writing and imagery were “hateful and offensive.” Christian Baker Again Under Fire for Refusing Transgender Cake Despite Supreme Court Win

I’m all for there being as many articles as possible exposing the Colorado commission’s ongoing war on free speech, but I do not think the word ‘irony’ means what this article thinks it does. I see not irony but consistency. When the Colorado commissioners treat the supreme court’s ruling on them as a joke, but expect the bakery to treat their new case against it as no joke, they’re not being ironic. They are consistently pushing their freedom-hating agenda.

Now if this were to help Trump and the GOP in the midterms, that would be ironic.

(One other thought: the she-it-he person who demanded the bakery bake a trans cake has apparently also demanded that it bake a satanist cake, but AFAICS the commission has not taken action over that. Is the commission prejudiced against satanists?)

Finally, an achievable socialist goal

Abolish profit is the proclaimed goal of The New York branch of Democratic Socialists of America (they would also like to abolish prisons, cash bail and borders, but abolishing profit comes first). Normally, I think that, this time, socialism won’t work – because it didn’t last time, and the time before that, and the time before that – but for once, that logic points in the opposite direction.

Sure, I’m for social insurance, medical care and the rest, provided it’s given to the people from the profits which the State, as owner and operator of the factories, makes on them – the profits that formerly were made by the capitalists – and not from the earnings of the workers themselves. In that was the gist of the revolution.

But where are your profits? Your industry and your whole economy work at a loss. And we, the citizens, are forced to cover those losses.

Revolutionary socialist Andrei Kravchenko said that to his son, communist official Victor Kravchenko, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1936. Socialism’s ability to abolish profit was later confirmed by Mao, Mugabe and Chavez – and by a number of nationalised industries in the UK. So I believe socialism can do this.

Unfortunately, the DSA’s second goal – abolish prisons – is one that socialists have never achieved, since prisons are the means by which “we, the citizens, are forced to cover those losses.”

Unfortunate Adjacencies in BBC News

Yesterday, the BBC 10 o’clock news covered wicked Mr Trump’s treatment of immigrant children (which, it was implied, was very unprecedented, nor ever praised by the left). The beeb’s Washington correspondent told us that

“In a series of tweets that will further strain the transatlantic alliance”

Mr Trump asserted Germany’s immigrants were causing that country problems such as more crime,

“but that is false. Germany’s crime rate is lower than it has ever been.”

(The emphasis on the word false was in the original.)

Soon after came their coverage of Merkel’s woes. The beeb’s Europe correspondent told us that, instead of a cooperative pan-European policy (which, she seemed to be implying, was what had been needed), individual European countries had raised barriers (references to populism and stuff), so now Merkel was meeting with the Italian PM one day, the French president the next, in

“a race against time”

to salvage things in a Europe

“more disunited than ever.”

I can’t understand why Merkel doesn’t just point out to her German voters that crime in Germany is lower than ever now they’ve imported such vast numbers of people from areas where crime rates are notoriously low – uh, well, notorious, anyway. 🙂 If any wicked right-wing populist dared to question her own crime statistics, Merkel could point to the happy experiences of Austria or Sweden, and if that doesn’t do the trick, she can always quote the majestic authority of the BBC: suggesting an immigrant-related rise in crime is false.

I also can’t understand why the BBC’s correspondents don’t coordinate their narratives better. That emphatic false from the Washington correspondent at the end of his story really wanted to be further from the somewhat downbeat report from the Europe correspondent – like, in a whole different news broadcast.

[I wrote down the BBC correspondents’ words from memory immediately after the programme aired yesterday.]

The style is catching

(With grateful acknowledgement to the Continental Telegraph’s inspiring Aunt Agatha, whose insightful replies to the many problems of British establishment figures are a comic must-read.)

Dear Aunt Europa,
   we are retired British operatives who have been doing nicely over the last two years as the British end of an operation to help some American friends. Our job was to type up rumours about Mr Trump, and a couple of people briefly connected to his campaign, in the form of impressive-seeming intelligence reports that our US associates could convert into bugging authorisations and sinister-sounding leaks to the media.

At one time, this work brought us golden showers of payment and praise. Recently, however, our transatlantic buddies have soured on us. Apparently some of our inventions proved too baroque for the public’s credulity, and we were not discreet enough in our supportive leaking to US papers. Worse still, some of our friends now seem nervous that their conversations with us might themselves be bugged by leak investigators. So the payments and praise have both dried up.

Can you suggest another line of work for us (bearing in mind that it might not be prudent for any of us to visit the US just now).

      Yours as sincerely as we ever are,
            (You’ll forget our current aliases almost as
              soon as we will, so let’s just skip this bit)

Dear Retired British Operatives,
   it is always wise to play to your strengths, so I suggest you find a client on this side of the Atlantic who has the same eagerness for your existing skills and storyline. Long before Mr Trump said that his election night would be “Brexit plus plus”, a similar hatred of both on the part of a similar group of people over here was quite evident. There are many Remoaners on both sides of the channel who would instantly and fervently believe almost anything you typed up if you rejigged your reports to be about the Leave campaign. Although their list of wealthy backers was shorter than Remain’s, there is a reasonable chance that at least one of them has at least one investment with a Russian connection. And you might get lucky; maybe one of them has socialised with a Russian – or even married a Russian. To those with your experience, making this sound most sinister to Remoaner journalists and MPs should be child’s play.

I do suggest however that you avoid “golden showers” or similar inventions. I am astonished to learn that it is possible to lose credibility through underestimating the taste of the American public, but if that one proved too crude to be believed even over there then the British public (outside Remoaner circles) might not credit it either.

      Yours every bit as sincerely as you were being
            Aunt Europa

Politically correct v. formally correct v. actually correct: distant thoughts on the Tommy Robinson affair

Prime Minister George Grenville was the author of the 1765 stamp act – which led, in time, to the creation of the United States, but that was very far from his intent. In terms of mere formal law, Grenville had a good case for believing he could do what he did. In an obituary, Edmund Burke explained how a well-meaning man of some ability could cause so much trouble. After studying law, Grenville

did not go very largely into the world but plunged into … the business of office, and the limited and fixed methods and forms established there.

Men who only know the world of government administration are dangerously limited:

habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well, as long as things go on in their common order, but when the high roads are broken up, and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind, and a far more comprehensive understanding of things, is requisite than office ever gave, or than office can ever give.

As regards Tommy Robinson:

– Sending him to jail for 13 months was ever so politically correct.

– As discussed in the comment threads of a couple of posts below, it may well also be formally correct – not in terms of some new-minted ‘hate speech’ law but in terms of established UK trial precedents. We will not know for absolute certain till we hear more (including what – if anything – Mr Robinson can say for himself), but between those who wonder if he engaged in deliberate Gandhi-style law-breaking, those who wonder if he had a layman’s (mis)understanding of the law, and those who think he’s an idiot or worse, there is ample scope for it.

– Who thinks it is actually correct to send Mr Robinson to jail for 13 months while we have yet to hear of the Rotherham councillors (or any of their imitators elsewhere) serving 13 days? (Being ordered to apologise for what they did to whistleblowers does not quite compare.)

As Burke told the MPs who voted to tax the north american colonies,

All we have a right to do is not always wise to be done.

The analogy might strike the uninitiated as coming somewhat from a distance.

The strangest things remind the BBC of the evils of the west – and fail to remind them of the evils of socialism.

If you watch through the BBC’s ‘Why mums-to-be are fleeing Venezuela’ and then wait, you will see an earlier piece ‘Begging for food in Venezuela’. Watch that and keep waiting and you will see ‘Where a coffee costs wads of banknotes’ after which you’ll be offered ‘Venezuela indigenous group flees crisis’. Finally, having worked back to 2 August 2017, you will encounter ‘What’s going on in Venezuela?’, during which you will learn that in 2013, Chavez was succeeded by “fellow socialist” Maduro. This is the first – and AFAICS the last – encounter with the word socialist or any word resembling it.

If watching late-stage-socialism-reporting-that-dares-not-speak-its-name depresses you, you can cheer yourself up by watching Tony Robinson (Baldrick as was 🙂 ) in a series of programmes on Britain’s cathedrals. If cathedral architecture and history is your thing, these are perfectly watchable – he even comes across an actual baldrick at one point – with only occasional excursions into BBC-style history.

Liverpool Cathedral was built in the 20th century, funded by public contributions. Building began before WWI and was not yet finished when German bombers hit it several times without managing to flatten it in WWII.

– Did you know that the Earle family contributed £25,000 of its £500,000 building cost? Did you know that a full century and more before the first plans for Liverpool cathedral were drawn up, an ancestor of the Earle family made money in the triangular trade? Well, you would if you’d watched the programme on May 4th.

– Did you know that in the century between these two events, British people – possibly including an Earle ancestor and of-statistical-certainty including ancestors of other donors – made the slave trade and then slavery itself rare in the world. Well, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have learnt it from the programme.

I liked the cathedrals, though. And if you watched through all those Venezuela shorts then you would likely suspect that something that government was doing was unwise.

Did the boy who cried “Wolf” believe in wolves?

Obviously he did on his last day, as the wolves killed him. But earlier, when he enjoyed making the villagers run at his command, did the boy who cried wolf believe in wolves? Did he tell himself that every flash of a squirrel’s tail could be a wolf? Did he think all real wolves had been frightened off long ago? Was he just living in the moment, in the intoxication of his power, not thinking of the morrow at all? Or was he too sure that people would always come running when he cried “Wolf” – so they’d still come if there ever really were wolves.

My left-wing friends – those who discuss politics with me – are (obviously 🙂 ) willing to discuss politics with someone like me. They belong to that (dwindling?) band on the left who don’t think the right answer to every question is to call it ‘hate speech’. So they cannot answer easily this question:

do the people who believe in ‘hate speech’ believe in the hatred they say fills that speech? Do the boys and girls who cry ‘hate speech” really believe that anyone’s hatred but their own will ever cause more than willfully-indulged hurt feelings?

How would we know?

– We know what the ‘hate speech’ enforcers say in public (no right-winger can live in a bubble today – which is great for our cognitive diversity), but that just tells me that the boy who cries wolf is crying “Wolf”.

– We can talk to any left-wing friends who haven’t (yet) been cast out for knowing us. But all I know from mine is typified by the one who told me that, since the election of Trump, her west-coast liberal friends were ‘hysterical’ – true, I do not doubt, but more a description than an explanation.

Does anyone know more?

If you cross the river Halys, you will destroy a mighty empire!

Twitter’s CEO and its co-founder urge other left-wingers to consider a recent article explaining “Why there’s no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history — one side must win”. It’s a long read – but almost any excerpt indicates which side the author is sure both should and will win. Trump…

“has alienated most of America and certainly all the growing political constituencies of the 21st century. He is turning the Republican brand toxic for millennials, women, Latinos, people of color, college-educated people, urban centers, the tech industry, and the economic powerhouses of the coasts, to name a few.

For a long time, Republicans have been able to hide their vile inner selves…

through a sophisticated series of veils, invoking cultural voodoo that fools a large enough number of Americans to stay in the game.

It is therefore almost a relief to the author that

Donald Trump has laid waste to that sophistication

so that it’s now obvious to all – or almost all – that

The Republican Party is all about rule by and for billionaires at the expense of working people.

Whereas before…

The Republican Party for the past 40 years has mastered using dog whistles to gin up racial divides to get their white voters to the polls.

now…

Trump just disposes of niceties and flatly encourages white nationalists, bans Muslims, walls off Mexicans, and calls out “shithole” countries.

I confess to some doubts about this – after all, not one Mexican has been walled off yet, and I have the impression that few muslims have in any sense been banned – but the author brooks no denial. And speaking of denial,

“The Republican Party is the party of climate change denial. Trump is the denier-in-chief, but there are 180 climate science deniers in the current Congress (142 in the House and 38 in the Senate), and none of them are Democrats. More than 59 percent of Republicans in the House and 73 percent of Republicans in the Senate deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening, that human activity is the main cause, and that it is a serious threat.

If only I could trust the author’s counting ability – but since believers in his “scientific consensus” are believers in a statistical method that can extract hockey sticks from random noise, can I feel sure that the numbers of sceptics are growing as fast as he says?

The essence of Trump is that there’s…

No beating around that bush for the sake of appearances — Trump burned the bush down.

If only this were wholly true – but for once I’ll agree with the author: there is truth in it. The alternate realities of Scott Adams were never so vivid to me than at the moment I read these assertions of how Trump exposes the right while thinking that the very words I was reading showed how the Trump phenomenon exposes the left.

The author explains his simple and foolproof plan:

The way forward is on the path California blazed about 15 years ago. … reconfigure the political landscape and shift a supermajority of citizens — and by extension their elected officials — under the Democratic Party’s big tent. The natural continuum of more progressive to more moderate solutions then got worked out within the context of the only remaining functioning party. … Make no mistake: A reckoning with not just Trump, but conservatism, is coming.

In short, the author and friends have both a duty to reject all compromise and, now that Trump has exposed their enemies’ true nature, a 98.2% chance of winning this war they plan to hot up (or better – he doesn’t actually quote a percentage); after all, it worked in California. What could go wrong, since…

This is a civil war that can be won without firing a shot.

As Reagan once said, “It takes two to tango.” By contrast, a certain Adolf is merely the most infamous of many who have shown that it only takes one to start a war. Political correctness is all about ‘inclusion’ – except when it’s all about excluding more and more people for *isms and *phobias ever more broadly defined. If PC follows this advice to make US politics explicitly a conflict that “only one side must win”, then I predict that the prophecy will prove correct – but possibly also Delphic.