Brexit Denial

A number of articles out there citing the fact that the Brexit referendum wasn’t actually, technically legally binding are arguing that, therefore, it won’t actually happen. Most of this, I think is wishful thinking. The UK still has a tradition of more honorable politics than most places—though Jeremy Corbyn refusing to resign appears to be defying that.

But what I find the most odd thing is that commentators on both sides of the Atlantic are trying to batter the side that won with immigration->racism as the issue. Even David Cameron told the EU that that was the motivating factor of the referendum.

But that’s not entirely correct. Exit polls show that a significant portion of the electorate voted on the issue of sovereignty. And why not? The UK has the world’s oldest functioning constitution. It’s a legitimate issue. And something like 25% of Leave voters cited that as their reason. That’s more than enough to change the outcome if you remove them. So, it is a necessary, though not sufficient cause.

Because there is no single sufficient cause, you cannot logically isolate one thing as the cause of Brexit. The combination of factors—Britain’s independent streak, the EU’s blunders with austerity, the Euro crisis, and, indeed, the refugee crisis, and perhaps a series of other more minor issues like the Lisbon Treaty—all have to be assigned part of the blame alongside immigration.

So why give the immigration issue this much power? Why make it a self-fulfilling prophecy? Because the Remain folks want to be right and they want to bludgeon the winners more than they want to break the fall at this point, and that’s sad.

I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but, yes, Boris Johnson has it right. The UK should end up in a Norway-like agreement with free movement preserved. But asserting that the will of the people is entirely expressed in the immigration issue makes this result seem undemocratic.

Poorly played.

The Rout Is On, For Now.

A new series of polls show Hillary Clinton with a huge lead over Trump, including one showing her with 51%. Berniecrats are coming over faster to Hillary than 2008 Hillary supporters did to Obama despite Bernie’s continued presence in the race.

Trump is trying to #unskew the polls on Twitter by complaining about failure to weight by party ID, but ask President Kerry about that.

To consolidate these gains, Hillary needs to continue to present Trump’s lack of qualification, pick a solid running mate, and start talking about the economy. So far, her advisors haven’t failed to pick the right course.

US Danger in Brexit Lies In Liberal Reaction

Social media is full of Americans sighing that “fear won” in the Brexit vote. “They voted against their best interests.”

It’s true, but a vote is a vote. The same can be said of Trump voters (and to an extent Sanders voters). Fear about trade deals and immigration doesn’t disqualify you from a vote.

The British reaction from Remain folks (noticeably absent of claims of it being “rigged”) along the lines of “old people shouldn’t vote” betrays the totalitarianism lying beneath people who think they are “right.”

The problem with Brexit isn’t that it will destroy the world order the way an article in Vox claims; rather, that it’s likely a fraud, at least partially. To the extent it was driven by resentment of Intra-European immigration, the most likely outcome is that the UK, as part of the EFTA or EEZ will still have intra-European free movement of peoples. Of course not everyone voted on that issue alone, but maybe 3.8% did.

In other words, I’m skeptical much will change for a UK already not in the Eurozone or part of the Schengen agreement.

However, I must say I think that the EU is a failed institution and its imposition of austerity post 2008-crisis is what drove this at its core—along with the refugee crisis.

Anyway, the lesson is, you can be “right” but still lose elections. You could be “right” about refugees and the people who are “wrong” will still vote. Too much immigration is always going to spawn nativist resentment. Americans retain their complaint about Latinos, but Latinos have always been here and already have established communities that aren’t shocking the conscience the way Muslim immigrants are. Granting, of course, that most Muslims are closer to “model minorities” than it appears, fears are irrational and as long as they are there they will create votes.

Going forward, Hillary must be very careful to understand the difference between being “right” and winning or else UK out will pale in comparison to Trump in.

The Inverse Politics of Supreme Court Decisions

There are exceptions to the rule, but in the short term, it is usually the loser of a Supreme Court case that accrues political momentum. I guess this is because grievance motivates better.

Today there were two decisions. Affirmative action lives another day and immigration reform is held back.

The likely politics of this? Latino voters get the message loud and clear once again that a vote for Republicans is vote against them. To be honest, I’m not even sure how much this pushes the margins since Latinos who will vote will already likely vote against Trump, but it may help with turnout and/or downballot.

But Republicans will be allowed to continue their assault on affirmative action, which, while a bit stale and perhaps not as personal as the immigration reform issue is, still plays into the politics of white grievance.

To be clear, I’m not talking about what the good outcomes were or ought to be. I’m looking at everything through the lens of the Presidential election. Which, though perhaps a bit cynical, is relevant here since the winner will tip the balance on the Court itself.


Wow! Dems Just Did Politics!

I’ve been harshly critical of wimpy Dem politicos over the years. Especially, during the Fear Years, they were downright pathetic and spineless in their opposition to the Bush Junta.

Today, perhaps coincidentally, the House Gun Violence Sit-In knocks Mr. T’s big anti-Hillary speech off of the lead and all to put forward the proposition that it should be not so easy for terrorists to buy guns.

For once, pretty good Dems, pretty pretty, good.

Crime, cont.

It’s not a coincidence that the context of the Clinton Crime Bill is lost on younger folks. After all, they have enjoyed a massive drop off in crime since (coincidentally or not) the time of that bill. They don’t remember what the older generation remembers and apparently dismiss what they read in books about it as the construct of a racist system.

The problem is not addressing crime, I would contend, is more harmful to more minorities. You see, they are disproportionately the victims. This is why so many black leaders, for example, not only pushed for Clinton’s Crime Bill but for the higher sentences for crack versus powder cocaine which later came to be seen as racist. There is simply no denying that the crack epidemic was like setting bombs off in inner cities. The fact that more of the offenders were minorities was secondary to the problem.

The same could be said of guns. I imagine if there is a major crackdown on guns, that too will come to be seen as having a disparate racial impact even though we associate “gun people” with working class whites.

It would be helpful to look not only at who is impacted by penal measures but who is helped. In the end, is there any denying that the dramatic drop in crime that has revitalized so many cities served to benefit those city’s residents the most?

On lower crime, not so fast

One of the interesting debates in the Democratic primary that needs a thorough post-mortem is the issue of crime. It came up when somehow Sanders was able to attack Hillary Clinton for Bill Clinton’s crime bill—which she couldn’t vote for but Sanders did vote for—and has been a theme for a while. We hear about “mass incarceration” and “militarization of the police” among other things.

This debate has always struck me as a sure way to give the Republican Party a lifeboat when they should be thrown an anchor. While it’s true that crime has declined since 1993, no one is really sure why. This interview today talks more about culture and dismisses the abortion and lead theories. This means that letting lots of people out of jail, especially violent offenders, and worrying too much about “militarizing” the police should lead to a rise in crime rates. There are already some incipient evidence that crime rates are going up in response to taking our foot of the gas on crime.

It sure sounds to me like a classic case of “if ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

My Dark Horse VP Pick

I got three syllables for you… Joe Biden. He has all the necessary chops… can be Prez if “god forbid,” doesn’t distract from the top, can debate and campaign, knows how to get shit done on the Hill when needed, and hell he’s already done the job. Team Obama likes him. The Berners have never gotten into a hissy fit snit about him, although they’ll probably grouse no matter who Hillary picks.

There is nothing that could more make HRC’s effort to run for Obama’s third-term more definitive or obvious. Of course, he may not want the job or may want to retire. And there would be some argument that Hillary is not choosing her own person. But if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. For those of us that just want to vote for Obama again anyway this is the next best thing.

My VP Pick.

What do you want in a running mate?

Some of the things that have gone into the decision in the past include regional balance or ideological balance, but there have also been cases of doubling down on perceived strengths. Sometimes you want an attack dog. During the primaries, everyone always talks about the top two candidates teaming up, but that rarely happens (Kerry/Edwards is really the only recent example).

People need to feel that the running mate fills the most important role of a Vice President: ready to be President in a crisis. Everything else pales compared to this.

Only in desperation have candidates picked a history-making choice such as first woman. John McCain and Walter Mondale both faced uphill climbs and rolled this dice picking a woman to try and give some extra mojo to their campaigns. McCain’s pick may have cost him the presidency, though he still lost by a lot. It’s hard to tell if anything made a difference for Mondale.

But in both of those cases, the risk was run of taking the focus off the top of the ticket. Lloyd Bentsen polled stronger than Michael Dukakis after his debate performance against Dan Quayle. Ferraro was more interesting to follow than Mondale who was always going to be blown out.

Someone who understood these dynamics well was Barack Obama. He understood that his role in history as the first black president was a story. He tried not to make it the story, but no matter what he or his campaign did, that was always going to be a factor. A little revolution is usually enough for most people. Perhaps the best reason not to bring Hillary Clinton in as Obama’s running mate in 2008 was that it would have drained energy from the top of the ticket and done little to make people feel comfortable about relative inexperience, since, standing on her own two feet, Hillary only had four years more of Senate experience. Joe Biden, on the other hand, brought decades of experience.

And let’s be honest. A white man next to Obama actually right-sized his narrative instead of making it all about race or identity politics in a way that primary voters don’t want to acknowledge but that in an election where you need some nervous Republicans to cross over to get the result you want might be indicated.

So, even if I thought Julian Castro and Tom Perez were qualified to be president, and I don’t think they are, I would say first that the story needs to be about the history-making aspect of Hillary, not her running mate. Second, more cynically, I would say is there really anything that can be done to bolster Latino turnout this election that Donald Trump doesn’t already provide? Also, Perez and Castro speak terrible Spanish.

I also don’t believe in ideological balance. Any daylight between the candidates becomes a story, just as it would when they’re in office. Elizabeth Warren also has very thin chops to claim being ready for the nuclear codes. Remember, we’re going to try and emphasize the risks of putting a rookie like Trump in charge. A first-term senator doesn’t bolster this argument no matter what anyone says or how smart her policies are. This is also why I wouldn’t want Sherrod Brown. I don’t believe that regional balance is a factor anymore. Brown wouldn’t be a decisive factor in delivering Ohio.

Two who are qualified to be president are Xavier Becerra and Tim Kaine. Kaine has been a governor and speaks actual fluent Spanish. He’s a boring old white man. He’s qualified to be President. He won’t steal the spotlight. If you really think running mates can deliver states, Virginia is almost as good to have as Ohio. Becerra would take some of the spotlight off of Hillary because he’s not a national figure, isn’t a senator or governor and therefore might be seen as a pick based on his demographics.

So, by process of elimination of all of those rumored to be on the list, I would most strongly support Tim Kaine and very much be against Castro. Everyone else falls in the middle.

Sanders Missed His Point Of Maximum Leverage

Bernie Sanders is the first candidate since the major reformation of the primary system to persist even though he lost. And he’s doing it on the pretense of winning some concessions at the convention. The problem is that he doesn’t have the leverage to do this even though he did and that he doesn’t realize this just underscores why the problem was less with his far left ideas than with the man himself and his terrible strategic decisions.

Who is the most influential member of the Obama administration that ran against him in 2008? It would be tempting to say Hillary Clinton, who became his secretary of state. But that’s because you forgot that Joe Biden ran in 2008 as well. Joe Biden got the maximum result by dropping out early. This is the counterpoint to the Clinton/Obama scenario.

Sanders doesn’t need to stay in the race to be influential. He has influence. Simply staying in the race to win some on-paper concessions on the platform is a waste of his time and his supporter’s time. But outside of his speeches, the news reports hint at a darker reason. Sanders appears to be seeking personal revenge against Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Barney Frank, and Daniel Molloy, the Connecticut governor, as his top priority. His second priority? To change the primary rules that he thinks defeated him. All of these noble progressive policy planks seem to be a distant third in what he hopes to achieve.

This is yet another disgusting act by a man that has been given all kinds of plot armor by a horserace hungry press and an idealistic youth who is on a spin cycle between admiration for the fan based on his ideas and then ideas based on the man, having completely lost sight of where it all started. Only in such a vortex of personality could idealistic lefties excuse a flip-flop on Superdelegates, the data theft then blame the victim dance with the DNC, or the continual denigration of progressive heroes who didn’t support the “revolution” meme.

Another thing not on Sanders’s list? Gun control. Neither in his Thursday night speech nor in his reported lists of ransoms did he list gun control. Since he was apparently so butthurt by Clinton’s attacks on him for his record on guns that he broke his vow about negative campaigning, you’d think he’d try and do something especially in the wake of yet another horrible incident.

And that’s not even the icing on the cake. The icing on the cake is that this man, who has come to take literally the polite language included in the eulogies for his campaign, could have had an awful lot of these things if he was smart enough to identify the point of maximum leverage with any precision.

That moment came when Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee unexpectedly quickly, received the backing of the party unexpectedly quickly, and narrowed his polling gap with Clinton quickly. In that moment, Sanders could have had his ransom. But by persisting with the result of being destroyed in California, he lost it. In that same stretch of time, Clinton has opened a 10-point lead over Trump, a lead wide enough to obviate the need for state-level polling.

Only the most paranoid Bernie cultists are following him down this march of lemmings. Hillary Clinton is going to win this election with or without them. If it’s without them, and with the help of moderates, the progressive agenda will be even more irrelevant to the incoming administration as she looks to be reelected with the same coalition.

Chances are this is what will happen. The victim/martyr/purity complex of this group will be better served by that result anyway. They are constitutionally incapable of being part of the people in charge anyway.

Some precedents for gun regulation

Alcohol can only be bought from state-licensed vendors. Some states give these licenses easily, others reserve a monopoly. This is allowed under the U.S. Constitution.

Airplanes can only be flown by pilots who pass 40 hours of instruction a written and solo flight check and a medical exam that grounds them for life if they have taken any psychiatric medication for more than just a little while.

The Military is subject to a separate legal code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

So, if you’re going to rely on the excuse of a “well regulated militia” to own a gun, you should have to buy it from a government monopoly after an exam on par with a pilot’s license (or at least a drivers license, which is still harder than the existing rules for guns) and your behavior when using it as part of the militia should be subject to the UCMJ.

The Boring Pointlessness of The Post-Shooting Dialogue

Someone will attempt to shame someone else for “politicizing” the shooting, itself a political attack. Conservatives will somehow explain that this means we need more self-defense and repeat ad nauseam that this is a problem with Muslims. Liberals will explain that guns are the problem and Islam is a religion of peace.

None of this will be thought out at all and most it is knee-jerk reactions. Guns, bad. Muslims good/bad.

The first mistake is confusing Islam and Muslims. Islam the religion is irrefutably homophobic just as the Christian Bible is. Anyone who denies this is out of their minds. That a majority of Muslims might not act on this is an entirely separate question.

In an environment where liberals want “safe spaces” free of “hate speech” it is disgustingly ironic that they champion a religion that itself is replete with hate speech against gays. Why? Being anti-establishment is why. There’s no logic to it.

Conservatives will tie themselves in a similar knot trying to defend the availability of assault weapons to, well, to anyone who isn’t a Muslim. And privately have a good chuckle about Muslims killing gays.

And it’s these very obvious, very ridiculous contradictions that will not only fail to move the political stalemate on this issue but entrench it any deeper. Why should conservatives accept this liberal contradiction about gay rights and Islam? Why should liberals accept the contradiction about who should have guns? Neither will. Nothing will happen, and we will just keep having these happen.

The Danger of Trump Is Incompetence, Not Fascism

Even many Republicans have called Trump names like Mussolini. But the thing is, it’s not entirely clear that Trump is some kind of mob fascist. It’s without doubt that many of his followers want him to be, but other than a guy who will say anything, it’s hard to know what Trump will do, exactly, precisely since he is constantly changing what he says. Muslim ban? It was a suggestion! He’s flip flopped on climate change, on the Clintons, on being a Republican, and, since the beginning of the campaign on wars, abortion, and all kinds of other issues. We just don’t know what he would actually do. This isn’t to apologize for  what he’s said—it’s actually disgusting how cynically he is manipulating his voters.

Would he be tightly handled by Republican elder statesmen? It doesn’t seem like that’s even possible at this point. Is that a risk we want to take?

The real decision in this election isn’t between some kind of Clintonian Third-way centrism and neo-fascism. It’s, quite frankly, between someone who knows what she’s doing and someone who doesn’t. At the end of the day the Hillary Clinton administration is likely to have as many compromises in it as the Bill Clinton administration for the simple fact that there is likely to be a Republican Congress—at least a Republican House. Bernie Sanders couldn’t have made that much different either. In fact, it’s quite possible that on some issues, Trump is to the left of Hillary. At least as it’s currently defined, Trump does appear to be to her left on trade.

For those too young to know, it was never Bush’s right-wing governing that brought him down. He won re-election after appointing right-wing judges, cutting taxes on the wealthy, and launching a war of choice. It was when his administration’s incompetence after Hurricane Katrina was exposed that he really began to fall down.

Now imagine that literally everything the executive branch touches becomes a Katrina. That’s a Trump presidency for you. And the damage to our credibility as a nation will be worse than any errant right-wing policy.

So while Lindsey Graham is right to say that there will come a point where love of country must trump hatred of Hillary—for Republicans—there will come a point for independents and Democrats where love of left wing policies will have to be trumped by love of country and we’re going to have to accept less than perfect policy outcomes to avoid a total disaster.

What do I mean by this? I mean I think it would be irresponsible for the party to try too hard to shoot the moon on control of Congress this year if there is any doubt at all about the presidential race. If every poll shows Hillary up by double digits, that’s one thing. But if it’s anything like the last 4 elections, then we need to—as Obama said—run scared.

Bernalph Snaders?

All right, Bernie. Ralph Nader could have just remained a gadfly in the late 90s and left an admirable legacy of anti-corporate activism and followers. A nice The Subject of College Entry Essay sort of remembrance. Instead, Darth Nader’s entry in the Book of Life begins and ends with Generalissimo Bush. Say what you will about Gore running a shitty campaign and that he should have won. That means precious little to those needlessly killed while the Bush junta was asleep at the wheel on 9/11, to say nothing of thousands dead or maimed in Iraq, or those that died but shouldn’t have after Katrina and, well, just read the archives of this blog.

Similarly, Bernie could leave a legacy on being ahead of the time on so many issues that eventually became popular; of, indeed, taking a more pure approach —  and that is meaningful as example if not in the workaday grind of progress. All of this could be capped by a stupendous presidential run that attracted millions of new and, importantly, younger voters to the Democratic Party. The future of the party could well be a hybrid that favors more of Sanders’ Indica than Clinton’s Sativa. One could see a Tulsi Gabbard strain running for President in eight years.

That is, if Bernie does the right thing and concedes graciously a few days after Tuesday’s votes are cast.

Conversely, if Bernie contributes at all to a bitter, quixotic anti-Clinton campaign then his legacy may begin and end with Donald Trump.

That is, if there is anyone left to record legacies.

Be a mensch, Bernie!