June 6, 2018

A View of Brexit - From Britain

Now that a majority of Britons have voted to leave the EU, Britain's government is down to the business of carrying out the directive. The simplest avenue is referred to over there (I know this because I just returned from a weeklong tour of London and the countryside to its west) as a "no-deal Brexit." Anti-Brexit forces are lobbying for side deals which effectively maintain EU membership in certain regards. See: Camel. Tent.

During my travels I witnessed Pro-EU activists lobbying in the street market areas of both Oxford and Bath. I didn't have time to engage with them but could imagine the scenarios they painted for those who did.

Conservative MP Daniel Hannan penned an op-ed on their efforts yesterday, which I was able to read in the print edition while waiting at the Heathrow boarding gate last morning.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to a leaked document by Whitehall officials, supermarket shelves in remote parts of Britain will empty within days.

The RAF will have to carry medical supplies to stricken areas. Petrol will run short. (They have forgotten the invasion by giant man-eating squirrels.)

We went through all this during the ­referendum. Precisely the same mandarins told us that, if we voted Leave, unemployment would rise by 500,000 within two years. In fact, it has FALLEN by that amount.

They told us that the Stock Exchange would collapse, wrecking our pensions. In fact, it has RISEN to record levels. They told us that France would end our bilateral deal, and that the Calais migrant camp would move to Kent. In fact, France has renewed the deal and the Calais camp has been DISMANTLED.

Yet here they go again with their childish threats. Who do they think they’re kidding?

It's almost as if these Britons don't believe their nation can succeed on its own, without the collective might of the EU. Hannan disagrees:

We are a G7 country, a nuclear power, and a permanent member of the UN ­Security Council. We have the best universities in Europe, the most innovative tech companies, the best audiovisual sector. Our capital is the greatest city on the planet. Our language is the world’s common tongue. If we can’t succeed on our own, who can?

Indeed. Sir Winston is face-palming in his grave.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:35 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Brexit has been fun to watch. I hope to be forgiven for reducing the post-Westphalian sovereignty of the cradle of liberty to so much reality-tv, but it is like watching their President Trump. The elites are outraged and refuse to accept electoral results.

On the merits, I have been a soft "leave"-er. It is decentralization -- an alloyed good, and as you quote, the idea that they require Brussels is pretty laughable.

Yet, it interferes with trade and immigration, like a certain other election. And like a certain other, it fuses honorable intentions of personal liberty with less-honorable populist and nationalist sentiments.

You talk of camels' noses -- I wonder if they will ever successfully evict the rest of the animal. Can't they (aren't they?) delay, litigate, miss deadlines and keep the status quo until a new election makes it official?

Posted by: jk at June 6, 2018 5:58 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes - delay until there's a new election to return to the previous order of things - I think that is the strategy being employed.

Posted by: johngalt at June 7, 2018 6:32 PM

October 2, 2017

The Welfare State Strikes Back

Selected passages from the UK Telegraph write up of Catalonia's landslide independence vote (all emphases mine):

On a day marred by clashes between police and voters, 2.26 million people took part in the referendum, regional government spokesman Jordi Turull said. That represents a turnout of 42.3 percent of Catalonia's 5.34 million voters.

Few things are more dangerous than 2-plus million rampaging voters.

In violent scenes beamed around the world, officers in riot gear fired rubber bullets into crowds and beat would-be voters with batons as they queued at polling stations.

And some say that American police are dangerous.

Violence broke out across Catalonia as armoured police moved in to break up the vote.

Video footage showed officers from Spain's national police - 4,000 of whom had been brought in by the government to help quash the ballot - fighting with elderly voters, some of whom were left bleeding, and dragging young women away from polling stations by their hair.

Amid tense scenes, uniformed Catalan firefighters appeared to act as human shields to protect voters from advancing lines of police.

Renegade, lawless firefighters - where will it end?

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last night said: "We did what we had to do", describing the ballot as a "premeditated attack on the legality of the Spanish state faced down with serenity by the forces of order".

Making no mention of the large number of people injured in police charges outside polling stations, Mr Rajoy said: "Democracy won today because the Constitution was upheld".

Is this what a victory for democracy looks like? National police trying to disrupt the most democratic act there is - voting?

Finally, here's how the EU weighed in:

The European Commission, the EU's civil service, has repeatedly backed the Spanish government and constitutional court's stance that the vote is illegal.

Yesterday the EC told The Telegraph it had nothing to add a statement made by Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday, when he backed "the rule of law" in Spain.

King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I could not be reached for comment.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:02 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

I confess to having not watched closely. Reason, fairly unsurprisingly, is with the separatists.

The minarchist in me worries that long-term separatist decentralization produces more Hobbes and less Locke. I join Brother Keith in rooting for the Kurds. And I am nominally a Brexit fan. But Catalonia, then the Basques, I am not certain
that ends well.

Posted by: jk at October 3, 2017 12:23 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And California. And Northern Colorado. YAAAAAAAHHH!

The point is that there is widespread pushback against overreaching national governments. When those governments refuse to negotiate with their "subjects" then free men will do what free men do.

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2017 2:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I just read the short Reason piece you linked. It is excellent, and gives a better description of what I alluded to in my last paragraph: "By contrast, devolution of power has given regions like Scotland, with strong cultural identities of their own, more ability to chart their own course. In turn, that has often lowered interest in independence movements."

But I was even more interested in Krayewski's second paragraph:

The right to self-determination is enshrined in international law and is core to democratic norms. In a democratic society, people have the power to choose their leaders, and that requires having the power to choose who you choose leaders with.

No, I'm not here to quibble about democracy vs. republic, it's the other thing. The last sentence: "...and that requires having the power to choose who you choose leaders with."

I'm not sure I've heard that before. Or thought it. Or where it comes from save the author's assertion.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he justify restrictions on immigration right there? In the pages of Reason?

Posted by: johngalt at October 3, 2017 3:03 PM
But jk thinks:

First, point of order: here is a perhaps even better and still short piece on separation.

Methinks you're stretching to equate drawing borders with enforcement of their crossing. But I have stretched on occasion, too.

Posted by: jk at October 4, 2017 11:41 AM

June 8, 2017

Trump is Undiplomatic, Ignorant, [and Viscerally Hates Immigrants] But "There's a Lot He Gets Right"

Briton, historian, and columnist for UK Daily Telegraph Timothy Stanley writes, as reprinted by CNN, on Europe and terrorism: There's a lot Trump gets right.

The free world was led for eight years by the sublimely intelligent Barack Obama, who left office with things in pretty much the same disorder. The promise that Trump holds out is to be honest about the situation and take the steps necessary to change it. Where he oversteps the line, the law will hopefully restrain him -- as the travel ban illustrates.

But he is right about the need for a Western-Israeli-Saudi alliance against terrorism. He is right about the basic need to restore control to migration. He is right to project an image of the West that is tough and unashamedly Western. The West should cease apologizing for what it is.

The British Conservative government stands by the President in part because it needs him: Britain voted to leave the EU, and now Trump is Britain's closest diplomatic partner.

The situation recalls Voltaire, asked on his death bed if he'd renounce the devil; he replied: It's a bit late in life to start making enemies.

So, the state visit will go ahead, and there will be protests. But if Trump could only get off Twitter for five minutes and focus on the essentials of the Western alliance, he'd discover that Europe is edging closer to his way of thinking on the most important issue of our time. There is, increasingly, more agreement between us than disagreement.

UPDATE: I have revised my title because, as my blog brother points out, POTUS Trump does have one more important failing.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:03 PM | Comments (8)
But johngalt thinks:

I continue to be at a loss over the reaction to Trump's TEMPORARY "travel ban." It's for ninety. freaking. days. During which, recommendations are to be made for new procedures to use when travel. resumes.

End of Civilization! Fascist police state!


Posted by: johngalt at June 9, 2017 11:13 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I dunno, maybe I'm just so used to presidents who get, at best, half of what they do right or, at worst, almost nothing. A guy getting everything right except one, despite being a troglodyte, kinda makes me want to say, "Hell yeah!" I scarcely thought I'd live to see the day. And I'm an optimist.

Posted by: johngalt at June 9, 2017 11:18 AM
But jk thinks:

You're right and I hope you hear my begrudging acceptance. If you built a time capsule and visited 2016 me with the news that Sen. Rand Paul had been elected and had accomplished the list I just enumerated, then I'd've been a happy boy. "Just kidding," sez you, "that was President Trump!" I'd need a Valium.

But nossir, I am not restricting the entire dangerous side of Trumpism to "a temporary travel ban." He's pulled us out of TPP and directed his folks to look at Nafta, Two GOP legislators have drafted a very restrictive restriction on Visas. Fed funding for "Sanctuary Cities" is threatened and ICE enforcement is way up.

The net effect will be far fewer visas, refugees, trade deals, and a large reduction in immigrant labor. Carrier and Ford have been carrotted-and-sticked to rework production plans. These results are not only not commensurate with liberty, but they are deleterious to prosperity.

Posted by: jk at June 9, 2017 11:53 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I do hear your begrudging acceptance. And it deserves explicit approbation, which I have not yet given. But how to give it? The main theme of this post and the linked article is, "Hey, that completely useless buffoon has done so many things right that maybe, just maybe, it is through knowledge and foresight and not mere accident." I guess I can only say, I congratulate you for setting aside enough personal vitriol that you are able to recognize said fact. (Which is no small feat given that so many hyperventilating partisans of the left are still not convinced that Hillary Clinton is not the rightful POTUS.)

To your points:

TPP and NAFTA are not unmitigated goods for American prosperity. For the most part since the end of The War (WWII) America has negotiated treaties with the other nations of the world from a position of benevolence. Sort of a built-in Marshall Plan Clause that all such treaties came to always be expected to contain. Hey, you know what? Europe has been rebuilt. Canada and Mexico are fully functioning economic powers in their own right. They may not be as big and as prosperous as America, but they can become more like America if they follow the right policies. Obtaining favorable trade treatment from The Great Satan is no prerequisite. If it were, how did America become the biggest and most prosperous without its own favorable treatment from some other benefactor?

Sanctuary cities are immoral outlaw regimes and should be opposed at every turn. Withholding federal jack is the very least that should be done. ICE enforcement is also long overdue. Most if not all of the consequent hardships are only so sad because of the incredible laxity of enforcement for decades prior. The law exists and should be enforced until it is changed. There is a process for changing laws. I think it's even written down somewhere, for handy reference.

I'm pro-individual, which means I'm also pro-immigration. I'm also pro-safety and anti-redistribution, which means all the laws have to apply to all the people equally. Being outside of "the system" is one more way of rigging it.

Posted by: johngalt at June 9, 2017 1:58 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, I have been insulted before, but I never thought I'd be compared to a CNN reporter. The nerve.

I do not say "that useless buffoon has done some good things," rather "that man of questionable grounding in the principles of liberty has produced outcomes favorable to liberty." And I think I have heard similar tones from you.

It's a vexing conundrum.

I typed the letters T P P and thought that we'd end up discussing individual issues which may not be productive. Yes, TPP has many flaws and is hated by many libertarians and free-market types. However, I do not think those reasons overlap with the President's objections.

One side line worthy -- some sunny day -- of further discussion is Sanctuary Cities. That smells of local control and federalism to this nose. You might not like the outcome, like states vowing to continue Paris Accord goals, but the decentralization is refreshing, nicht wahr?Sheriffs refusing unconstitutional gun laws?

Side chatter. But do know I do not consider the President "a buffoon" though his style is not one I'd program into a Sim Candidate. He has exceeded expectations in some important areas. But his ungroundedness rightfully inspires some skepticism, and just because his opponents are deracinated lunatics, I reserve the right keep my distance and judge each policy and action on its own merit.

Posted by: jk at June 10, 2017 11:50 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for answering my comment - I was concerned I had laid it on so thick as to harm a friendship (even though I know you can take anything I dish out.)

The "useless buffoon" construct was aimed specifically at the author of the linked post. Others swept up with the broad brush were linked only by their disapproval of POTUS Trump.

I never suggested that the man is a consistent, philosophical American hero, merely that he is the right man for the job America needs done at this moment - to call into question every aspect of our nations governing methodology, from top to bottom. The administrative, or "deep" state is so entrenched that some china must be broken before things can be put on a proper rights-respecting course, for Americans and for the rest of the world. I truly believe this.

And for all his failings I think even the most skeptical observer has to admit, he's purdy good at breaking china.

Posted by: johngalt at June 11, 2017 12:32 PM

December 9, 2016

"Hate Speech" Show Trial

"Putting this son of a bitch in jail is suicide. He has to sign or we'll never get that metal."

"No, we need an example, not a martyr."

"We can't set a precedent here. Not with this man."


Those are the pivotal lines in this scene from the movie adaptation of a favorite book. The end of the scene came to mind when I read about the verdict in the just completed trial of Geert Wilders on the charge of "hate speech."

Populist anti-Islam Dutch MP Geert Wilders has declared that he and his voters are not racist, despite being found guilty on Friday of discrimination against Moroccans.

He was acquitted of hate-speech in a closely watched trial ahead of next year's key election.

In their verdict, the judges said 'the inflammatory character of the way in which the statements were made have incited others to discriminate people of Moroccan origin.'

But they added that there was 'insufficient evidence' that his words at an election rally in 2014 amounted to incitement to hatred.

The judges also dismissed the prosecution's request to impose a 5,000 euro fine on the far-right MP, whose Freedom Party (PVV) is eyeing an upset victory in the March 2017 polls.

'In this case, the most important question is whether Wilders has crossed a line. This judgement has answered that question,' the judges said in their verdict.

'Therewith, the chamber finds that justice has been done. Consequently, no punishment is imposed.'

"Not a martyr" indeed.

Wilders, 53, immediately gave notice that he intended to appeal his conviction, as he believed it was 'a big loss for freedom of speech.'

The most recent opinion polls predict the PVV will top the vote, saying it could seize 34 seats in the 150-seat lower house of Dutch parliament, some 10 seats ahead of his nearest rival, Prime Minister Mark Rutte's Liberals.

Rather than hurting the controversial lawmaker, observers say his trial has boosted his popularity among Dutch voters, worried about the influx of immigrants and driven by eurosceptic sentiments.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2016

'es a 'oss!

Nigel Farage, being hosslike (and having some kind words about Mister Trump).

Posted by John Kranz at 5:23 PM | Comments (0)