Donald Trump has just won the election. I am more baffled by this election result than I’ve ever been, by far. I might disagree with the people who voted for Reagan or W., but I understood plausible rationales for those decisions. I don’t in this case. I spent my entire childhood in Oregon (HRC 51½%) and my entire adult life in California (HRC 61½%), and I don’t even understand how these two states didn’t end up in Hillary Clinton’s camp by much larger margins. I must be in a bubble inside a bubble, and I don’t know how to communicate with those outside.
Not long before the referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU, there was a plebiscite about what to name its newest oceanographic research vessel. To the amusement of the rest of the world, the winning name was ‘Boaty McBoatface’. However, that election result was not enacted, whereas the UK government is treating the Brexit election result as binding. The rest of the world, at least as judged by its various stock markets, was not amused.
On the news there’s been a lot of talk about the so-called ‘regrexit’ theory that many Britons who voted ‘Leave’ were casting ‘protest votes’: expecting that ‘Remain’ would win by a significant margin (despite the polls), they felt their votes wouldn’t affect the election’s result, so even though they wanted ‘Remain’ to win, they voted ‘Leave’ as a signal of their dissatisfaction of the status quo. So, what if the UK government had enacted the earlier vote? If the British had had to put up with having their premier oceanographic ship being named Boaty McBoatface to the derision of the rest of the oceanographic community, that would have been a lesson that votes do matter. If the regrexit theory is correct, then the English are learning that lesson with the very consequential Brexit vote, and it’d have been much better if they’d have learned it from the vote about the boat.
However, it’s worth considering the possibility that the regrexit theory is wrong and the English aren’t as dumb as they look. Sure, the finance sector is going to see a lot of its jobs move to Paris, Dublin, Brussels, etc., but most Britons don’t work in finance, and I’m betting that majority thought they would like the consequences of a weaker pound: British goods now appear cheaper to the rest of the world, so British manufacturing will see a boost, and that’s enough reason to vote ‘aye’ on the Exit. This argument doesn’t get much traction from economists, but those who believe it are sincere in their ‘Leave’ votes — even if you can easily counter it, it’s by no means a frivolous argument.
OK, the economic ramifications of the Brexit can (and surely will) fill a book, but what about the political ramifications? I find it stunning that one of the most powerful positions in the world, the prime minister of the UK, is now one which seemingly no-one wants! David Cameron has announced that he’s going to resign. Boris Johnson, Brexit’s most prominent cheerleader and Cameron’s expected successor, has said he’s not going to run. I expected him to be waltzing his way to 10 Downing St. on rhetoric of how Brexit was the first step to Britain’s upcoming new golden age. Nigel Farage, head of the UKIP, who has just led that party to the achievement of its primary raison d’etre (huge success!), is resigning his post. Regrexit appears to strike these politicians hard. Why aren’t Johnson and Farage, the ostensible winners here, riding their chariot in a victory lap? Instead they’re slinking off as if they lost. I do not understand this.
(Yeah, my drawing could apply to anything the UK’s ever done wrong, but this looks to me like it’s the most applicable act in my lifetime.)
Somehow, the massacre in Orlando wasn’t enough to galvanize most of Congress into even discussing substantive gun reform. WTF?
Somehow, it wasn’t enough to even get some far-from-adequate band-aid measures proposed by Connecticut senator Chris Murphy to the vote. (Yes, the Connecticut in “mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012”, that Connecticut.) I call the measures inadequate because they would not have hindered in any way Newtown shooter Adam Lanza nor Orlando shooter Omar Mateen in obtaining the assault rifles they used in their killing sprees.
So, Sen. Murphy mounted a filibuster to get his ineffective and inadequate bills to a vote, and staffers arranged a supporting social media campaign around the Twitter hashtag
#enough. And that worked to get a vote scheduled on Sen. Murphy’s stupid bills.
So, we keep on killing ourselves with these weapons, and spend all of the political energy these mass murders produced on measures which, had they been in effect, would not have even kept the guns the killers used out of their hands.
What is wrong with us?
Dianne Feinstein, my senator, has been making waves as of late after discovering the CIA had been spying on her congressional staff. The waves are not so much on the merits of the charge, but due to the history of the person making them: Sen. Feinstein has until now been a vociferous booster for the US’s intelligence agencies, and their intelligence-gathering operations, both foreign and domestic. She was, for example, perhaps the Democrat most vocally in favor of granting the phone companies unqualified immunity for participation in bulk wiretapping of their customers. Had that immunity not halted the lawsuits back in 2008, part of the scope of the intelligence community’s bulk domestic spying would have come out in discovery long before Edward Snowden popped up on the radar, and perhaps the CIA, NSA, etc. would not have been so bold these last six years in exceeding their authority under the FISA.
So now Sen. Feinstein has gotten bit, and is indignant that it’s from the very snake she has been feeding and protecting. My surprise is that this is to Feinstein’s surprise! There’s an old saying — just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side. Seems my very honorable senator is rapidly becoming acquainted with the application of that proverb, somehow managing to get into the US Senate without having been!
And may your new year be private.
Ten years ago, M.P. Col. Terry Carrico became the first commander of Camp X-ray, the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. Now out of the military, he talks to the media about the camp he opened.
Carrico also says plainly that he believes it is wrong to keep people indefinitely without trial based on secret evidence.
America should be a nation where this never happens. That we will not imprison people without trial should be woven throughout our identity of what it means to be American. Gitmo is an open wound, self-inflicted, on our very national identity. It’s been bleeding for ten years. We must close it, or lose what being American is.
More: Story from an innocent who spent over 7 years at the camp before being released via habeas corpus. This is what we’ve done. Let’s change. Ten years is long enough to know that this experiment has failed.
While visiting family over the Xmas break, I came across this article from the New York Times republished in the Sacramento Bee.
BAGHDAD – The Obama administration is moving ahead with the sale of nearly $11 billion worth of arms and training for the Iraqi military despite concerns that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is moving to consolidate authority, create a one-party Shiite-dominated state and abandon the U.S.-backed power-sharing government.
While the United States is eager to beef up Iraq’s military, at least in part as a hedge against Iranian influence, there are also fears that the move could backfire if the Baghdad government ultimately aligns more closely with the Shiite theocracy in Tehran than with Washington.
Well, how about that. Just substitute Obama with Reagan, al-Maliki with Saddam Hussein, and swap Shiite for Sunni and enjoy the déjà vu.
That is one awesome response letter. Hard to believe it came from a bureaucracy. I just hope the Board in Frankfort can exert more influence over the schools than Line the Hart County local.
Did you read about the recent dispute about Britain refusing to admit athletes from the Nationals into the UK to play in the world lacrosse championship? (NY Times)
The Nationals represent Haudenosaunee, the Iroquois Confederation, and travel on Haudenosaunee passports, which Britain refused to recognize, saying it didn’t recognize them as a country, that land being divided between the US and Canada, while the nationalistic Nationals refuse to travel under those passports, especially with the historical mistreatment of Native Americans by those governments.
Well, this seems like a normal enough snafu, you can’t expect other countries to go along with the US and Canada’s fiction that these tribes are separate nations. We have treaties with them, after all, and other countries don’t. But then it occured to me, Canada has treaties with the Iroquois, but Canada hasn’t been independent from the UK for all that long, surely the treaties must predate Canadian independence and so it was Britain treating with Haudenosaunee as if it was indeed a state — and lo, the Treaty of Fort Stanwix was between Britain and Haudenosaunee, a few years before even the American Revolution, and I doubt it’s the only treaty between them.
Interesting wrinkle, or just a bit of trivia?