Wednesday, July 06, 2016
After the Referendum: Sorting through the Rubble
As Libertarian Sean Gabb sees it:
What more to say about the past eight days? They began with a referendum vote that sent a shock across the world. They have now settled into something like business as usual. The shape of the British Constitution will be determined by the internal politics of the Conservative Party. Here, then, are some thoughts on how things might proceed between now and Christmas.
First, we shall most likely leave the European Union. A margin of four per cent is a less than solid mandate for the biggest constitutional change since the Parliament Act. Going in was nothing compared with coming out. As a whole, the ruling class would like us to stay. Membership is a useful veil for hiding the lines of accountability. But leaving suits the Conservative leadership. It will end the longest and most nagging split in party history. Virtually all the party members and most Conservative voters want to leave. The Europhile wing in Parliament will be leaned on to vote as told. The result will be a united Conservative Party facing a fractured Labour Party and a non-existent Liberal Democrat Party. Indeed, more people voted to leave than ever vote Conservative. There is a sectional opportunity in view that probably trumps the overall interest of the ruling class.
The Scotch voted to stay in. But they are a long way off and all in one place, and they are probably not brave enough to vote for independence. Their historic record is to obey the English and spend the next few centuries whining about what a hard deal they got. If they do otherwise now, that will be a problem for next year or the year after, and it will have little impact on English politics.
Yes, we shall most likely come out.
Second, the leaving terms are largely unimportant. I would like a free trade agreement and nothing more. If British companies want to export to the European Union, they will need to obey the various product regulations – just as British cars sent to America drive on the right hand side, and just as British jam sent to Turkey is labelled in Turkish. But there is no reason why these regulations should apply in our own market unless we wish them to. However, it will not be the end of the world even if we agree to the whole of the Acquis Communautaire and continued budget contributions. Inside the European Union, these things have the force of domestic law, and they are difficult to evade and impossible to change. Once we are out, they will be treaty obligations, and treaties can be renegotiated or repudiated as we find convenient. A clean break would be best. A dirty break will make no difference in the long term.
Third, and bearing in mind the above, the choice of next Prime Minister is largely beside the point for how and when we leave the European Union. But here is when those of us who share that inclination must put our libertarian hats on again. Leaving the European Union will be useful. It will allow our ruling class to move to a less compromised form of economic liberalism than has so far been possible. Politically, it will make the source of ultimate power over our lives less ambiguous than it has been since 1973. But it is not the European Union that made us into a chaotic police state. The European Union never forced us to employ armies of feral social workers, or to unleash the police, or to abolish freedom of speech and association, or to tear up the common law safeguards in criminal trials. It did not give us laws against drugs and pornography that would have made David Maxwell Fyfe rub his eyes with astonishment. It did not push us into those unjustified and lost wars. Our own rulers did all that – by themselves or on orders from their American overlords.
I have no doubt that leaving the European Union will eventually give us a set of trade and fiscal and regulatory policies more in keeping with our national interest. It will not in itself make our country free again in the traditional sense. That remains decidedly unfinished business, and is something that will occupy the minds of libertarians and conservatives for a long time to come. If, last Thursday week, a page was turned in our national history, it remains for us to ensure that we have some guidance over the hand that writes it.
I may be wrong in this analysis. Since I was wrong about the result of the Referendum, I have no right to claim any unusual power of seeing into the future. But, just over a week after the votes were counted, some important facts do seem to be drifting out of the mist, and these, rather than the details of when and by whom Article 50 will be invoked, may have the strongest claim on our attention.
When Actors Hate Racist America
There are those boorish moments when a celebrity takes to the stage at an awards show to deliver leftist political drivel. We can't decide which is worse: the predictable America-hating garbage or the journalistic hosannas that inevitably follow.
The other day, "Grey's Anatomy" star Jesse Williams launched into a Black Lives Matter-like sermon at the BET Awards when he won an award for his "humanitarian" work. When accepting the honors, Williams broke out the radical-leftist claptrap about this "invention" of abusive whiteness, exploiting all the creative blackness.
"We've been floating this country on credit for centuries," he lamented, "and we're done watching and waiting while this invention called whiteness uses and abuses us, burying black people out of sight and out of mind while extracting our culture, our dollars, our entertainment, like oil, black gold, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations then stealing them, gentrifying our genius and then trying us on like costumes before discarding our bodies like rinds of strange fruit."
How has whiteness abused Williams? Maybe we should ask his mother — who is white.
Williams can also relate to the downtrodden. To think his reported net worth is a mere $8 million.
Imagine for two seconds a white actor standing up at an awards show proclaiming, "This invention called blackness uses and abuses us, burying white people out of sight, ghettoizing and demeaning our creations." The press would metaphorically put a white hood on his head. His career would be kaput.
But ABC hailed it a "powerful speech about race." On CBS they called it "an impassioned call to action," and co-host Gayle King said, "Jesse Williams, I thought, stole the night." NBC quoted other valentines. Sheinelle Jones said, "Twitter reacted instantly, one person writing, 'Jesse Williams. Genius. Polarizing. Political. BLACK. Greatest acceptance speech I ever heard.'" News anchor Tamron Hall proclaimed: "Social media...across the board commenting and celebrating his words...a powerful speech. You should follow him on social media. He's always just a very engaged person."
Williams isn't the only leftist America-hater to draw media adulation. Comedian Aziz Ansari was granted space in The New York Times to explain "Why Trump Makes Me Scared for My Family." He began by recalling when he told his mother: "DON'T go anywhere near a mosque. Do all your prayer at home, O.K.?" She replied, "We're not going." He then announced: "I am the son of Muslim immigrants. As I sent that text, in the aftermath of the horrible attack in Orlando, Fla., I realized how awful it was to tell an American citizen to be careful about how she worshiped."
He protested Trump's remark that Muslims aren't doing enough to notify authorities about potential terrorists and claimed, "By Mr. Trump's logic, after the huge financial crisis of 2007-08, the best way to protect the American economy would have been to ban white males."
This man would be better served not using the word "logic" in his commentary.
Media company Upworthy called the piece "a must-read for every American," proclaiming that "It's filled with heart, common sense, and cold, hard facts." CNN, Vanity Fair and Entertainment Weekly all raptly quoted the piece. At Mediaite, Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah hailed how Ansari isn't religious at all, yet "Trump has brought the Muslim out of Ansari."
It doesn't matter that no one can recall a Muslim being violently assaulted or shot inside a mosque in the years since 9/11. Wait, we stand corrected. It made The New York Times when a mosque in Tucson was apparently "assaulted" by nearby college students on party nights. "A shower of crushed peanuts rained down on the mosque."
America is apparently such a horrendously racist place for black and brown people that you are celebrated by all when you announce how horrendously racist it is, especially when you're free and very rich.
The Left's Different Approach to Rights That It Opposes
I have an idea. The federal government needs to compile a list of women who shouldn’t be allowed to get abortions. The criteria for getting on the list must be flexible. If an official at, say, the NIH or FBI think that a woman should be a mother for some reason or other, he or she can block an abortion. Maybe the woman has great genes or a high IQ or the sorts of financial resources we need in parents. Let’s leave that decision where it belongs: in the hands of the government.
Heck, there’s really no reason even to tell women if they’re on the “no abort” list. Let them find out at the clinic. And if they go in for an abortion only to discover they are among the million or more people on the list, there will be no clear process for getting off it, even if it was a bureaucratic error or case of mistaken identity.
Sound like a good idea?
You probably don’t think so, particularly if you took part in the celebratory riot of good feeling in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down Texas abortion regulations. In the case of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the court ruled that Texas could not raise the required health and safety standards of abortion clinics to match those of other “ambulatory surgical centers.” The reforms were implemented in the wake of the Kermit Gosnell scandal in which the Philadelphia abortionist’s abattoir was revealed to be more like the setting for a “Saw” movie than a decent medical clinic.
The court held that abortion is such a fundamental constitutional right that minimal health standards are an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion, even if they might save women’s lives.
There’s a deep and perplexing contradiction here. If abortion is just another aspect of “women’s health” — currently the preferred euphemism for the procedure — why have higher health and safety regulations for dentists than abortionists?
But that’s just the first of many contradictions. The court allowed Whole Women’s Health to sue in the first place, even though the company has no right to an abortion, and third parties aren’t supposed to have standing to sue for someone else’s constitutional rights. The left loves to say “corporations aren’t people” — unless they’re suing for abortion rights. Then the new mantra is: “Corporations are people, but human fetuses aren’t.”
The contradiction I find most glaring and galling is that the euphoric hysteria from the left over the court’s decision occurred right in the middle of a conversation about guns and terrorist watch lists.
In that conversation, many of the same voices on the left argued that the federal government can — nay, must! — have the unilateral power to put American citizens on a secret list barring them from exercising two constitutional rights: the right to bear arms and the right to due process when the government denies you a right. (Both, unlike abortion, are rights spelled out in the Constitution). Congressional Democrats even staged a tawdry tantrum on the House floor about it.
Never mind that the Orlando slaughter — the event that set off the House sit-in — would not have been prevented if the Democrats had their way.
Writing for the majority in the Hellerstedt case, Justice Stephen Breyer argued that the Texas statute was unnecessary because “determined wrongdoers” like Gosnell wouldn’t be deterred by new laws given that he was willing to violate existing laws.
Maybe so. But isn’t that exactly the NRA’s position on gun laws? Murderers, never mind terrorists, by definition don’t care about the law.
It gets even crazier. President Obama, who hailed the court’s decision, desperately craves the unilateral power to keep a list of people to whom he wants to deny guns without due process. But he also insists that known terrorists, particularly those held at Guantanamo Bay, have a constitutional right to due process (though presumably not to buy a gun).
Yes, there’s a lot of deviltry in the details, but the basic truth is undeniable: Those on the left — in all three branches of the federal government, along with their cheerleaders in the media — believe that the rights they like are sacred and the rights they dislike are negligible inconveniences at best and outrageous cancers on the body politic at worst. As Justice Clarence Thomas put it in his Hellerstedt dissent: “The Court employs a different approach to rights that it favors.”
In this, the court is not alone.
Tony Blair may be impeached
A dramatic attempt to impeach Tony Blair for misleading Parliament over the Iraq war could be launched in the wake of the long-awaited Chilcot report into the conflict.
MPs have begun to build support for an attempted prosecution of the former Labour Prime Minister after the 2.6million-word report is published on Wednesday.
A cross-party group is considering using an ancient Parliamentary mechanism to bring him to trial in Westminster.
They say Mr Blair should be forced to answer claims he duped the Commons over the war, which cost the lives of 179 British troops.
The MPs believe they can argue that the ex-Labour leader should be impeached over allegations he breached his constitutional duties as Premier.
The power has not been used since 1806 when Lord Melville, a Tory minister, was charged with misappropriating official funds by the Commons. He was acquitted.
Mr Blair, who made claims about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction that were contradicted by his own intelligence assessments, is expected to be heavily criticised in the Chilcot Inquiry report.
One Westminster source said: ‘Impeachment is on our minds but we will need to digest the report. There is definitely a feeling that Blair must be properly held to account for his actions in the run-up to what was a disastrous war.’
One MP can trigger the process by proposing a motion. He or she would need to present evidence to support their case and this would form the basis of a document called the Article of Impeachment, drawn up by a committee of MPs.
If the impeachment attempt is approved by MPs, the defendant is delivered to Black Rod ahead of a trial. A simple majority is required to convict, at which point a sentence can be passed, which could, in theory, involve Mr Blair being sent to prison.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.