April 8, 2019

Brexit Countdown

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Britain’s opposition Labour Party said on Friday that talks with the government on a last-ditch Brexit deal had made no progress, as EU leaders said Prime Minister Theresa May had not convinced them that they should let Britain delay its departure next week. May wrote to Brussels asking European Union leaders to postpone Britain’s exit from next Friday until June 30.” Reuters

See past issues

From the Left

The left is critical of Theresa May’s leadership and maintains that Brexit was a bad idea to begin with.

“The U.K. is a harried student begging a teacher (the EU) for one more day after pulling an all-nighter to finish an essay—and failing. And the teacher, after taking a look at the state of the paper, replies: ‘How about you take a week. Trust me, you’ll need it.’”
Elliot Hannon, Slate

“In the American system, the White House and the legislature are often controlled by different parties—Donald Trump has to sit down with ‘Chuck and Nancy’ on a regular basis if he wants to pass anything through Congress. In the U.K., the party controlling Parliament also controls the executive, and can usually rely on its own votes, sometimes with a coalition partner, to pass legislation…

“So the prime minister sitting in a room haggling with the leader of the opposition to pass her bill—as Theresa May did with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn [last] week—is not how things are supposed to work. It’s even weirder when the governing party’s official position for the past four years has been that the leader of the opposition is an anti-Semitic Stalinist who poses a grave threat to national security. But with the prime minister’s party terminally split over Brexit, that’s where we are.”
Joshua Keating, Slate

Many argue that “Brexit is a right-wing culture war conducted in populist terms. It is not really about the E.U. It is about people’s sense of who they are. It is about wanting a world of walls, separating people and ideas and political structures from one another. But it is not just a desired outcome: By now, it is also a way of doing things. The Brexit mind-set does not compromise or accept caveats. It is politics in primary colors. There is victory or national slavery, and nothing in between…

“But what’s terrifying about the closing days before the latest deadline for Britain to crash out of the E.U. with no deal, this coming Friday, is that such puritanism is no longer restricted to the government benches. It is now present among the opponents of Brexit, too. Labour MPs who support the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum refused to back proposals for a softer Brexit on Monday, as did the moderate Liberal Democrats party. Even the Independent Group, a newly formed collection of former Conservative and Labour MPs who say they’re willing to work across traditional tribal loyalties, refused to support them… Unless MPs quickly rediscover Britain’s tradition of pragmatism, things are about to get very ugly indeed.”
Ian Dunt, Washington Post

“The economic concerns regarding immigration [cited by Brexiteers] were unfounded and incorrect. A report from the London School of Economics found that EU immigrants to Britain were more highly educated, younger, more likely to be working, and less likely to claim welfare benefits than the UK-born. Forty-four percent of these EU immigrants had achieved some level of higher education, compared to only 23% of native-born Brits. The parts of Britain that received increased EU immigration did not suffer greater decreases in jobs and wages of UK-born people. Finally, EU immigrants paid more in taxes than they consumed in benefits and in their use of public services.”  
Sam Natapoff, Salon

But “even in the event that Brexit is cancelled, the EU cannot pretend that the last three years didn't happen… The European Social Survey, a non-partisan research project that tracks the views of Europeans, asked citizens from other member states how they would vote in a similar referendum to the one held in the UK in 2016. The numbers should still alarm europhiles… while the UK is an outlier, ‘with around a fifth of those in a number of other member states willing to support an EU-exit of their own it would be wise for those supportive of the EU project to listen carefully to their concerns’... If they are not addressed soon, European politics could find itself in an even bigger mess.”
Luke McGee, CNN

“By declaring that the United States will respond with airstrikes to any attacks on American targets or assets, Mr. Trump is drawing a bright red line that Iran cannot cross. And yet, Iran relies on a network of proxy actors from Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Must they all respect Mr. Trump’s red line? There are plenty of hotheads in those proxy forces that will be incensed by the assassination, the same way young men with weapons and minimal discipline often are… Mr. Trump can’t keep an entire region from crossing his red line, making violent conflict all the more likely if the president holds to it…

“It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind Mr. Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires and keep Mr. Trump from stumbling further into war with Iran.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is critical of the way Brexit has been handled, but still supportive of leaving the EU.

From the Right

The right is critical of the way Brexit has been handled, but still supportive of leaving the EU.

“Several national parliaments in Europe are now dominated by ‘grand coalitions’ formed not to handle a national emergency but as a semi-permanent tactic to resist election results that have returned new outsider parties with Euro-sceptic tendencies… It’s easy to see this kind of politics emerging in Britain through May’s evisceration of Brexit. The mystery is why. The answer can’t be that this new political structure has produced either political or economic success…

“The EU has had a relatively low rate of growth for about 30 years compared to the U.S., Asia, and the non-EU countries in Europe. Its greatest achievements are not establishing peace in Europe — that was done by the U.S. and NATO — but establishing the euro without the fiscal institutions to make it workable, to introduce the abolition of internal EU borders without firming up the external borders to make [visa-less travel] workable, and to spend 40 percent of the EU budget on an agricultural policy that intentionally keeps food prices high.”
John O’Sullivan, National Review

At the same time, “the ‘hard Brexit’ cadre of the Conservative Party has massively overplayed its hand. Refusing to support Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal deal with the European Union, they have enabled a ‘soft Brexit’ alternative… it's clear that the soft Brexiteers are the winners here. After all, the Labour Party is largely supportive of a Brexit along terms of a continued formal customs union with the EU. This, unsurprisingly, has the hard-liners very upset. They feel betrayed and are saying as much. But they're delusional. It was always clear that ignoring May's halfway soft-hard Brexit deal was risky. It opened the political space to those who either oppose Brexit entirely or oppose anything but a softer Brexit.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“Either of the ‘extreme’ ends of political opinion on Brexit make sense: repealing Article 50 and staying in the EU on existing terms or leaving without a deal, exiting the single market and customs union in the process… What doesn’t make sense, on the other hand, is any option which falls between these two extremes. The 57 varieties of soft Brexit on offer all come with the same problem: they would leave [Brits], to a greater or lesser extent, subservient to EU law without any say in how those laws are made.”
Ross Clark, Spectator UK

“Brexit seemed to provide the opportunity of a lifetime for policy entrepreneurs. Nearly one-sixth of the laws on the United Kingdom’s statute book come from Brussels. And so, theoretically at least, Brexit provided an opportunity to examine the regulatory books and decide which of these 12,000-plus regulations proved useful and would be copied back into the law by Parliament, and which could be altered and adjusted…

“[But] the Brexit opportunity is being wasted because the class of politicians, civil servants, and diplomatic personnel who would need to prize this opportunity, to let it fill them with renewed purpose and vigor for serving the public in a time of extraordinary change, simply aren’t interested in the project at all and not-so-secretly hope it goes away. Brexit had won the referendum, but there was no Brexit party to implement it.”
Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review

The EU “has taken a hard line on Brexit: You’re either in or any access we grant you to the European ‘single market’ comes with no say in decisions that affect your lives in important ways. Now, take it or leave. I wonder when the point comes at which the British say, yes, a no-deal Brexit is a leap of faith, there are uncertainties and there will be costs. But to hell with it. We are a proud, independent-minded people that has been through much worse together. True self-government is worth a little less GDP. Let’s stop fiddling and get on with it.”
William Watson, Financial Post

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

On the bright side...

‘Ninja' rat kicks snake in midair in amazing slo-mo video.
National Geographic

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