Sunday, July 31, 2016

Another Baltimore Treasure Crumbles

My home town of Baltimore does not have a great track record when it comes to historic preservation, especially when it comes to theaters.  Many were bulldozed out of existence years ago, and most of the ones that are left have been adaptively reused out of existence.  Happily, there are a handful of exceptions, and I had hopes during the past few years that the Mayfair Theater on Howard Street (where I saw "Bonnie and Clyde" and "The Godfather" many years ago) might join the ranks of those exceptions.

Sadly, it is not to be.  The city-owned building has been allowed to deteriorate over decades, and now, except for the facade and the lobby, it is by now probably gone, if this story is correct.

Baltimore, a city with troubles piled on top of troubles, doesn't have the resources to properly care for priceless resources like this one.  The city government should have solicited bids for its re-use a long time ago, but historic preservation occupies a very low rung on its ladder of priorities.  Still, it had a stage house as well as a screen, and could easily have been re-used by one of the many performance groups taking root in the city.

If only all 50 states could join New Mexico in taking the lead to preserve historic theaters!  Perhaps, one day, it will happen  Hopefully, it won't be too late for most of the other endangered buildings like the Mayfair.

Once Again, The Cheerleading Corporate Media Miss The Boat

It isn't surprising that it took Web outlets (check here, here, here, and here) to uncover the real substance behind the WikiLeaks dump of DNC e-mails that revealed DNC staffers exploring ways to give Hillary a campaign advantage in the primaries.  For the record, Bernie Sanders says that he lost fairly to Hillary and still supporters her.  That didn't matter to the corporate cheerleaders at the legacy broadcast and cable outlets, who, at the bidding of their masters, kept the Hillary-vs.-Bernie story going for as long as possible.

Until the Web outlets noted that the leaked e-mails had apparently been run through Russian servers. Meaning that the hacking of the e-mails was done by the Russians.  Meaning, of course, that it was done at the behest of Vladimir Putin.  "Worse than Watergate," indeed; a foreign government attempting to influence the outcome of a presidential election.  It's been no secret that American conservatives admire Putin greatly, and (in the case of Trump) have connections to him.  Now, we have proof that the admiration and the connections may threaten the existence of this country.  Still think there's a false equivalency between Hillary and Trump?

But what else would you expect from the corporate cheerleaders?  They're still so puzzled by the seeming disconnect between Obama's rising popularity and the fact that most people still think the country's on the wrong track.  News flash, guys and gals:  The Republicans control Congress and a majority of state governments!  There's your wrong track.  And, as long as you keep missing the real news, the country's going to ride that track right off the rails.

Paging Mr. Stewart, Mr. Jon Stewart ...

In Praise of Incrementalism

The DNC Convention?  The best one ever, and I've been watching them since 1968.  The best speeches.  The best starpower.  And, in the end, about as much party unity as you could have possibly hoped for, going into last week.  Granted, the unity was far from perfect.  But I'll take it over the fiasco the previous week that called itself the Republican National Convention, where most of the party's major political figures refused to show up, and the best star power available came from Scott Baio (i.e., not very much, and those of you who listened to him speak know what I'm talking about).

So, we launch into the fall campaign.  And what are my immediate thoughts?  My immediate thoughts are about incrementalism.

I have an actor friend, with whom I appeared a number of years ago (no need to mention how many) in a play.  He has been a die-hard Berniecrat for the better part of the past year, which, as far as I'm concerned, is perfectly O.K..  Of late, however, as evidenced by his Facebook page, he has gone off the deep end with his support by promoting the Hillary-is-the-devil-herself point of view and suggesting that a Trump presidency would be no worse than a Clinton one.  Recognizing the obvious--that Bernie is no longer an option--he has cast his lot with Jill Stein of the Green Party.  In his view, everything that is good and righteous from a progressive perspective needs to happen right now, and, should you disagree with him, you are guilty of the crime of incrementalism, and deserve to be unfriended by him.

Well, it's a free country and, to each, his or her own.  I can find a number of reasons for not jumping on the Stein bandwagon, one of which is that I like my children vaccinated (and find it appalling that a physician would even suggest anything to the contrary).  As I indicated last week, Trump = Hillary is the falsest equivalency there is.  You can believe every conspiracy theory there is about her, and Trump is still, as Hillary described him "a man you can bait with a Tweet," and therefore not "a man you can trust with nuclear weapons."  Sorry, buddy, case closed.

But, in any event, incrementalism is how things get done in a nation in which both the people, and their system of governance, is factionalized by design.  To point out the painfully obvious, while wishing that our schools went back to teaching civics, we live in a federal system of government, in which certain powers are reserved for the national government, certain powers are reserved to the states, and leaders at both levels are free to test the range and limits of those powers in the course of exercising them.  Then too, at both the national and state levels, government is divided into three branches:  legislative, executive, and judicial.  Finally, as a matter of both history and necessity, we are a nation of peoples from all over the globe, with different experiences and expectations.

In such a system, conflict and compromise are the only way to accomplish anything at all.  Not peacefully.  Not violently.  At all.  If, for example, my friend somehow envisions some kind of giant uprising that will make all of the conservatives in this country wake up the next day and realize how wrong they were, it's never going to happen.  People with strongly-held views do not change them overnight, and they aren't going to change them just because you have the power to change everything in the nation around them.  If in fact you have that power, and choose to exercise it, it's more likely than not to make them even angrier.  And, therefore, more dangerous.

We did not get ourselves into our current Dickensian state overnight.  It has happened over the course of four decades, engineered by conservatives who, whatever else can be said about them, understand the distribution of power in this country, and who were therefore willing to submit the welfare state to the death of a thousand carefully-timed sword cuts.  In short, incrementalism got us here.  It's way past time for those of us on the progressive side of the fence to learn how to make incrementalism work for us.  Hillary understands how to do that; Bernie, for all of his well-thought-out and well-stated positions, does not.

Sadly, as my friend exemplifies, neither do many of his supporters.  I am hoping and praying that changes dramatically over the next 100 days.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

James Comey And The Search For The Non-Existent Center

James Comey, the Republican but well-respected (by both parties) director of the FBI, cleared Hillary Clinton of any criminal wrongdoing in connection with her use of a private server for her e-mails as Secretary of State (a use made by both of Clinton's two Republican predecessors).  However, unlike most well-respected law enforcement officials, he did not let the matter rest there; instead, he took it upon himself to offer his personal opinion of what he considered to be Clinton's reckless behavior with regard to the use of the server.

Why?  I suspect that, like any good Beltway insider, he was attempting to pass the investigation camel through the eye of the bipartisan needle.  By clearing Clinton legally, while rhetorically shaking his finger at her (Bad Hillary!  Bad, bad, bad!), he was hoping to keep himself immune from political pressure coming from either side of our great political divide.

Except that it didn't work.  All it did was give Congressional Republicans another opportunity to exploit, for political purposes, what should have been a closed case.  And they used Comey to do so, by having him testify on Capitol Hill.  By doing so, they undermined the very rule of law they claim to be so important to them.  And Comey did much the same thing himself, by failing to respect past procedures in Justice Department investigations and failing to preserve Clinton's own right to a fair investigation of her conduct.

Which just goes to show that, in politics as in the rest of life, there's something more important that trying to be "fair and balanced."  It's called telling the truth.  Without fear or favor.  And without editorializing for the sake of keeping your own job.  Whatever respect Comey has earned over the years, it certainly wasn't justified by this investigation.  And it did nothing to pull America toward a "center" that seems to have vanished for good.

Good Riddance To Roger Ailes

The departure of Roger Ailes, the man who helped package Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush for the American voting public, and who then, in conjunction with Rupert Murdoch, helped to complete the process Murdoch began in the 1970s of transforming all American journalism into tabloid journalism, is at best a belated cause for celebration.  It would mean more if there was some easy way to undo what Ailes did to destroy our national political discourse through Fox News.  But I suspect there isn't.  When people have to go to Comedy Central just to get a complete picture of the day's events, that gives you some idea of how little is left of the Fourth Estate, in the wake of Murdoch/Ailes and their transformation of what was once almost a world of public service into just another consumerist way of tickling itching ears.

Besides, Ailes leaves behind him legions of acolytes who could conceivably take his place and continue the harm he's inflicted on the rest of us.  Take Sean Hannity, for example.  He easily has Ailes' ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth when he needs to do so.  Actually, reading recently how Hanitty tried to strike back at Jon Stewart's take-down of him on last Friday's "The Late Show" was pretty pathetic.  He accused Steward of the crime of --gasp!--making money! Outrageous!  If you're not a Republican, that is.  And then, he accused him of not giving to charity. Which is outrageous in a difference sense, when you consider this.  Or this.  Or this.  Or this.  Shall I quit now, Sean?  Or will you admit that I don't have to take you prisoner, because you're already dead?

So, what's my takeaway from Ailes' departure?  Apart from profound sympathy for his victims, I have to ask:  why do men who look like Jabba the Hut think that power makes them so alluring?  I have some advice for you, Roger.  Look at yourself in the mirror some more when you step out of the shower.  That should give you some idea of what women see when the see you.

Top Ten Reasons NOT To Vote For Trump (With A Bonus Reason To Vote For Hillary)

Last Friday night, after the orgy of horror called the Republican National Convention was finally over (and bravo to the great city of Cleveland for surviving it intact), there was a pleasant surprise on Stephen Colbert's "The Late Show"; his friend and former Comedy Central colleague, Jon Stewart, made a surprise appearance to (a) help Colbert celebrate the decline and fall of Roger Ailes (more on him in another post), and (b) offer his take on the aforesaid orgy of horror.  He did this largely by using the transparent hypocrisy of Sean Hannity (more on him in the aforesaid other post) to skewer Trump, a man who begs to be skewered and thereby produce more sizzle than any of his self-named steaks.  Needless to say, it was hysterical (and don't take my word for it; just take a look here).

Now that Trump's nomination is official, and polls show very little if any statistical space between Trump and Hillary Clinton, I'd like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Colbert's predecessor, David Letterman, and list my top 10 reasons for NOT voting for Trump.  These are not necessary in any particular order; frankly, I think any one of them are bad enough.  Taken together, in any case, they illustrate why this pathetic excuse for a man shouldn't be president of a restroom, let alone the nation.  And, since it's a Letterman tribute, I'll start counting backwards.

10.  Donald Trump is a racist.  Not someone who occasionally says racist things, such as his Mexican diatribe at the beginning of the campaign.  Not someone who occasional acts in a way that could have a racist meaning or context.  No, when it comes to racism, Donald Trump is the real thing; a person who uses all of his resources to effectively declare war on people of color.  I could easily give you a typewritten list, but Nicholas Kristof has spared me the trouble.

9.  Donald Trump is a sexist.  Again, not someone who occasionally does or says questionable things with reference to women.  Someone who is the proverbial real deal.  Again, this is not just me saying this; to borrow a phrase from "The X Files," the truth is out there.  Personally, I think that his three marriages are bad enough.  They reflect the planning of a man who uses women for specific reasons.  The first marriage was for children, the second was the consequence of an affair he had to keep his middle-age fears at bay, and the last was to have arm-candy for corporate purposes.  Poor Melania!  Bad enough that she was given someone else's words to say, but what was worse is that she was clearly uncomfortable as a public speaker.  What kind of man forces his wife to humiliate herself that badly for the sake of his ego?

8.  Donald Trump is a child abuser.  Only a man who needs to be treated as an unquestioned authority would put his children in charge of his campaign, with no one else given input.  What child is seriously going to question the word or decision-making of his father?  No child should have to do that, not even if the child has been raise to be a cog in his or her father's machine.  And there's no evidence that Trump's children were raised for any reason except to flatter Trump and make him feel powerful.  And I don't just mean politically powerful; what decent father puts his hands on his grown daughter's hips in public?  The same father who "hit" on the same daughter on his overrated prime-time TV show.

7.  Donald Trump is a thief when it comes to his creditors.   When it comes to his business dealings with the powerful and the powerless, Donald Trump treats them both the same way:  he steals mercilessly from both.  By his own admission, he has used bankruptcy law as a vehicle form defrauding hundreds of creditors, destroying businesses, families and lives in the process.  And again, folks, I'm not making this up:  it's all right here.  And here.  You know where Donald's national debt reduction program is coming from, folks?  Right out of your Social Security checks.

6.  Donald Trump has wasted his own assets.  Like so many Republicans, he was born on the financial equivalent of third base.  Had he done little more than put his inheritance in the stock market, he would have created more jobs and income than he has through all of his misguided adventures in self-promotion.  Again, I'm not making this up.  There's just one problem:  had he done this, no one would ever had heard of Donald Trump.  And that's the point.  Do you want a President who puts self-interest above the national interest?

5.  Donald Trump has done 7. and 6. with the help of public officials.   He likes to brag about how business thinking needs to be used to combat government waste and cronyism.  He's not so upfront about admitting how much of that waste and cronyism he's generated himself.  Take a look.  A classic state capitalist, much like--well, I can't mention his name without being considered an extremist, but I'll put it this way:  a celebrated Broadway musical celebrated his "springtime."

4.  Donald Trump is a destroyer of his home town and its historic buildings.  The construction of overpriced, overrated, ugly buildings for the 1% was the beginning of turning New York from a city that made things possible for everyone into a city that made them possible only for billionaires. And, in the process, he destroyed valuable parts of New York's architectural and cultural heritage. I'll take the Bonwit Teller building and the Commodore Hotel over the buildings that replaced them any day.

3.  Donald Trump is an open formentor of civil unrest and physical violence.  Listen to his rhetoric about Mexicans.  Look at the footage from his rallies, and see how protesters are treated. And listen, if you can do it without having your stomach turn, to his so-called acceptance speech, in which he deliberately lied not only about crime statistics but about the source of gun violence.  It's about easy access to guns, stupid!

2.  Donald Trump is an unrepentant, pathological, serial liar.  See my previously-cited reasons.

1.  In short, Donald Trump is a world-class narcissist and bully who can’t be trusted with the nuclear button.  He'll become frustrated with having to deal with an entire country full of people who won't bow down to him, just because he's Donald Trump.  So, he'll either walk away from the job, if we're lucky (and leave us with Mike Pence, which makes us no-so-lucky), or he'll change the national conversation by starting random wars.  Perhaps even nuclear ones.  Don't forget:  he's a real estate developer.  To him, nuclear war is just another form of site-clearance.

And the bonus reason for voting for Hillary?  SHE'S NOT TRUMP!  Maybe she is the lesser of two evils, but there's still an argument to be made for voting for that.

Enjoy the saner convention that starts tomorrow.  And remember:  NEVER, NEVER, EVER TRUMP!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Beautiful Use Of Land-Use Law

Every once in a while, even a paper as conservative as the New York Post can appreciate the impact that public policy can have on the private sector.  Like real estate, for example.

This article, which discusses the impact of New York's "setback law" on skyscrapers built in the early part of the last century, illustrates how laws that have an aesthetic aim as well as a quality-of-life aim can also lead to the creation of landmarks that can serve more than one purpose over the course of their lifetimes.  The "setback law," which was designed to prevent New York from becoming a metropolis of monoliths that shut out light, also let to the creation of beautiful office buildings in Lower Manhattan.  Now, those same buildings are becoming luxury residences, with the setback upper floors becoming popular penthouse conversions.

This is just one of many illustrations of how overrated an unregulated economy can be.  Good regulations that thoughtfully respond to the real needs of citizens can often have multiple benefits. And landmarks that are created as a result, and then protected, create a unique sense of destination, something that matters to a city like New York that depends so heavily on tourism and foreign investment.

Sometimes, I think we all need to be reminded that the American Revolution was not a revolution against government, but a revolution against government that didn't serve the needs of the people. The latter is the kind of government we need.  Hopefully, soon, we can begin to work together so that we can have that kind of government again, at all levels.

And THAT'S Why You Don't Throw Away A Billion Dollars

In federal transportation dollars, that is.

I have written previously about the foolishness of Maryland's current mistake for a governor, Larry Hogan, in halting the Red Line cross-town transit project for Baltimore, which had the potential to begin the process of building what Baltimore and Maryland desperately need:  a true metropolitan rail system that could link Charm City with the nation's capital and create, in the process, an economic powerhouse on the scale of New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles.  Foolishness, in fact, even by Republican standards:  his former mentor, former Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich, consistently stressed the need to capture every federal dollar available.  (I should know:  as a then-State employee, I was at Board of Public Works meetings and heard him say it.)

But somehow, good ol' Larry thought that he could then come back to Washington and request more than ONE-FOURTH of the money available to the ENTIRE NATION for two transportation projects, one of which just happens to benefit a cushy real estate development.  And what a surprise:  Uncle Sam said no.

And now, generations of Baltimoreans and Marylanders will have to pay the price for Hogan's opportunistic, short-sighted attempt to look like a big-budget cutter.  Why didn't he do with the Red Line what he did with the Purple Line:  ask Baltimore to assume a bigger share of the cost?  Or scale down the size of the project, to make it more affordable?

Nah.  That would have been way too reasonable.  Better to stick the budget knife into the urban corpse of Baltimore.  Folks there aren't going to vote for you in 2018.

Well, guess what?  No one else should, either.  Because we all lost something when you killed the Red Line, Larry.  People will figure that out in two years.  And then, we'll see if you're popularity still hovers at 70%.

And, Speaking Of Double Standards ...

... we have it's close cousin:  the false equivalency.

S.E. Cupp recently provided an example in a column in which she blamed both Democrats and Republicans for practicing the politics of division.  That might sound very fair-minded, especially coming from a commentator who generally leans to the right.  Only it isn't.

Republicans have been practicing the politics of division at least since the end of World War II, when they realized they didn't have to advance anything that benefited the American people, so long as they could get away with calling their opponents "Communists."  Democrats spent decades trying to talk over the GOP's ad hominem diversions and talk about issues instead.  But it got them nowhere. And it got the American people nowhere either:  the Republicans who got elected as a result of all this saddled the nation with war, debt, and scandal.

It has taken a new generation of Democrats to wise up and understand that, sometimes, you can only fight fire with fire.  Especially when Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama offer Republicans more than half a loaf (welfare reform, Obamacare), and the GOP sits back and demands the whole thing.

We didn't start the fire, S.E.. But we would welcome help from your side in putting it out.

Once Again, It's OK If You're A Republican (Justice)

Antonin Scalia may be gone, but his legacy lives on, in myriad and perverse ways.  For example, during his lifetime, it was not uncommon for him to comment, sometimes at length on political issues, thus exposing himself to the possibiliy of having to recuse himself from ruling on a case before the Supreme Court.  Not, mind you, that he would ever actually do that, even in a situation that all but demanded it.

But let Ruth Bader Ginsburg speak her mind about a man who's never going to be President of the United States (not if there's enough sanity left in this country), and she's all but forced to her knees by the not-so-liberal press.

And, of course, it really doesn't matter that Scalia is a conservative and Ginsberg is a liberal, right? Of course not.  Republicans love being held to high standards.  As long as it's double.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Dallas, And The Turning Of The Gun Worm

Like what I hope and pray are most people, I mourned the five slain police officers in Dallas, every bit as much as I mourned the two slain young African-American men in Minneapolis and New Orleans days earlier.  Every bit as much as I have mourned every victim of every senseless gun-violence tragedy that has occurred in the nearly eight years since the nation decided to elected its first African-American President.

There, I did it.  I acknowledged the 800-pound gorilla in the nation's living room.  Then again, how could I avoid it.  We now have conservatives openly blaming the violence on Barack Obama's Presidency.  In one sense, it's the most astonishing confession I've ever heard.  "He did it!  He should have known how much taking orders from an [N-word] would anger us!  If it hadn't been for that, we wouldn't have had to make it so easy to shoot his own kind!  And his supporters among our own kind!"  (See, e.g:  Giffords, Gabby.)

More about this in a moment.

So, while I mourned all of the victims (and I haven't named any only because there are simply too many to name, and it's overwhelming enough writing this post as it is), I'm not surprised about the news from Dallas.

Let me be very clear about what I am saying.  Blue lives = black lives = all lives.  None of these deaths are justifiable.  All of them are unjustified taking of precious lives.  All of them diminish our collective lives and our fundamental humanity.

But it is a fundamental lesson of human history that, if one segment of society has declared war on another, it is only a matter of time before the other segment becomes desperate enough to fight back. And that is all the more so if a member of the other segment has been trained by our government to kill and our government has done little or nothing to re-acclimate that member to civilian life.  (Memo to conservatives:  wars have consequences, even when they're over.)

That's not me fomenting violence.  That's me describing reality.

So that's why I, believe it or not, do not think the New York Post was out of line with this.  I'm sure they're ascribing blame to the wrong aggressor.  But they're otherwise right.  Extremely right, just like the NRA, which will defend to its last breath the rights of gun manufacturers to make profits. Just like Cleveland during the Republican National Convention, where toy guns will be banned but real guns will be just fine.  And just like this idiot, who loves gun rights more than he loved his son and the future his son might have had, but for his violent narcissism.

What is it about guns in America in the first place?  If this is really all about the Second Amendment, then maybe we need to understand its history, which is after all our history.  And that history does not say that  the Second Amendment was created to guarantee an individual right for everyone to bear arms at all times.  Nor does it give much cover to the idea that it was created to facilitate state militias.

What it does support is the view that it was created to keep slaves in line. That's right. Racism is embedded in our history of so-called gun rights.  It's always been about keeping them in line.  That explains the lack of objections from white America to gun violence.  Except when they're the victims. And, most of the time, they are not the victims.

Thank G-d that people are finally waking up to this.  The majority of us.  Our courts.  Even Newt Gingrich, for crying out loud.

I pray it's enough to prevent any more senseless victims.  White, black, blue or otherwise.

After Brexit: Great Britain Is Neither

Much has been written about the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and much of what has been written has been to the effect that a great empire cannot fall from without until it has fallen from within.  Up until recently, Great Britain was a different example of imperial decline:  long after it lost its ring of colonies around the world, it nevertheless maintained its political, cultural and economic importance as a great power.  Britain was still great because, like its American cousins on the other side of the proverbial pond, it had learned how to preserve the essential aspects of its national character while adapting to the changing world surrounding it.  It welcomed its Commonwealth subjects as citizens, it listened to Elvis and gave us the Beatles, it sought new opportunities for investing its capital and found many such opportunities here in the U.S, and it joined its Continental neighbors in providing an expanded safety net for its citizens.

All of that lasted until the beginning of what we can now call the Thatcher-to-Cameron era.  And, if there's a useful way to sum up the feelings of Britain, now that it is over, it might be this:  Screw adaptation!  We want our white world back!

That's not the sort of tone I try to strike in this blog, but it's hard to talk civilly about Britain in the wake of Brexit.  Perhaps the closest I can come to being civil about it is to say this:  after Brexit, Great Britain is neither great nor is it really Britain anymore.

Let's begin with the fact that the pro-Brexit or Leave vote was an English-Welsh vote, with Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to remain in the European Union.  The latter vote was so overwhelming that there is already talk of a second referendum on Scottish independence.  Even more amazingly, there is talk of Northern Ireland not only leaving Britain, but becoming part of a united Ireland.  To my surprise, there is already a legal framework for making such a union possible.  This ought to give anyone familiar with Irish history cause for pause.  If the Irish on both sides of the bloody religious divide value EU membership so much that they are willing to put centuries of Protestant-Catholic enmity aside for the sake of sharing EU benefits, what does that say about the British ideal?  And does anyone have any doubt about the outcome of a second Scottish referendum?

Even if a unified Ireland and an independent Scotland did emerge from the Brexit rubble, its hard to imagine that the core English voters, the ones who live outside the cosmopolitan island of London, would care very much.  Unlike their upper-class fellow Tories, they don't define being English in any institutional sense, whether the institutions in question are the House of Lords or the stock markets. They define it in the crudest way possible:  by the color of their skin.  They are not even bound by the traditional English appreciation for civility protected for centuries by unarmed bobbies.  They openly foment violence, even when they deny that they are doing so.  And they are unmoved by the possibility that their actions may lead to economic chaos.

If there is anything that could be said to link voters on the Remain and Leave sides of the Brexit vote, it may be an exhaustion and frustration with the fruits of laissez-faire economics, the hallmark of the Thatcher-to-Cameron era.  This, of course, is an exhaustion and frustration shared by Americans, who have had their own taste of this misery in the Reagan-to-Bushes era.  An economic policy that promised freedom and opportunity for all has been, over time and in both nations, to be a con game run by the investing class.  Anger at this is legitimate, but responding to it with bigotry is not.  All that does is pit one set of victims against another, with the one-percenters laughing as they count the money we continue to funnel to them.

That is what British and American conservatism now have in common:  each is a mix of wealthy cosmopolitans and poor bigots.  They are houses divide against themselves, and as such neither can stand any longer.  It may be unfair to criticize David Cameron too much for this:  like Nicholas II and Egon Krenz before him, it may simply his fate to have been the last man standing at the end of a historical charade.

Then again, perhaps the British themselves are weary of a national identity that seems no longer able to provide them with peace and prosperity, regardless of who is in charge of government. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of all of this is how few people really cared about a vote on an issue that clearly dictated the fate of the nation.  Many people voted with their feet, by staying home.  It may be the case that they just took Britain for granted, and only cared about the outcome once it was too late.

Or, it may simply be the case that they no longer cared if the majority of their fellow Britons no longer cared about anything other than being English and white.  In that case, perhaps the fate of the British Empire does mirror the fate of its Roman counterpart.  It did not fall apart from without; it fell apart from within.