Monday, June 27, 2016

Cruising the Web

In 1867 Benjamin Disraeli supported a reform bill to expand the suffrage to urban, working class men who had always been disenfranchised in Britain. Disraeli's Conservative Party had always opposed such reforms and Disraeli himself described the reform at the time as a "leap in the dark." This cartoon shows the Britannia taking that leap on a horse with Disraeli's face.
The vote on Brexit may seem like a similar "leap in the dark," but just as elites back then feared what would happen when ordinary men voted, elites today are outraged when ordinary citizens vote.

Fraser Nelson, a British editor for the Spectator and columnist for the Daily Telegraph, explains some of the reasons why so many Britons wanted to leave the EU. One reason why Obama's threat that Britain would move "to the back of the queue" didn't resonate, besides the offensiveness of one nation's leader instructing a foreign people how they should vote, was that the EU isn't all that great at negotiating trade deals itself.
That overlooked a basic point: The U.K. doesn’t currently have a trade deal with the U.S., despite being its largest foreign investor. Moreover, no deal seems forthcoming: The negotiations between the U.S. and the EU over the trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are going slowly, and the Brits involved in the talks are in despair.

Deals negotiated through the EU always move at the pace dictated by the most reluctant country. Italy has threatened to derail a trade deal with Australia over a spat about exports of canned tomatoes; a trade deal with Canada was held up after a row about Romanian visas. Brexit wasn’t a call for a Little England. It was an attempt to escape from a Little Europe.
While the EU would like to pose as the replacement for NATO, they certainly haven't been able to act that way for European crises such as wars in Bosnia and Kosovo or the Russians incursions into Ukraine.

Nelson covers how divided Britain is over the issue. The colored map of how different regions voted is striking and there is a strong division by age of how people voted with younger voters overwhelmingly for remaining and older voters for leaving. Also, there is a division between the working classes and the university-educated classes.
Here, the Brexit battle lines ought to be familiar: They are similar to the socioeconomic battles being fought throughout so many Western democracies. It is the jet-set graduates versus the working class, the metropolitans versus the bumpkins—and, above all, the winners of globalization against its losers. Politicians, ever obsessed about the future, can tend to regard those left unprotected in our increasingly interconnected age as artifacts of the past. In fact, the losers of globalization are, by definition, as new as globalization itself.

To see such worries as resurgent nationalism is to oversimplify. The nation-state is a social construct: Done properly, it is the glue that binds society together. In Europe, the losers of globalization are seeking the protection of their nation-states, not a remote and unresponsive European superstate. They see the economy developing in ways that aren’t to their advantage and look to their governments to lend a helping hand—or at least attempt to control immigration. No EU country can honestly claim to control European immigration, and there is no prospect of this changing: These are the facts that led to Brexit.

Peter Hitchens writes about those who voted for Brexit. It's an interesting coalition that should sound familiar to observers of American politics.
A wonderful alliance, which I have long hoped for, has been forged in this campaign.

It has brought together two groups who had never really met before. The first group are the social and moral conservatives, whose views the Blairised Tory Party despised, while it still relied on their money and their votes. The second are the working-class families whose votes the Blairised Labour Party relied on, while it dismissed and ignored their concerns.

It is not just mass migration that worries them. They are also distressed about the decline in their standard of living, the pressure to get into debt, the way good state schools are reserved for the rich and cunning, the shrivelling of opportunities for the young, the unchecked spread of crime and disorder, the ridiculous cost of housing, and the general overcrowding of everything from roads to hospitals.

If it weren’t for old tribal party labels, these two groups would long ago have realised they were friends and allies.

They would have combined in a mutiny against the PR men and hedge-fund types who lounge arrogantly on the upper deck of politics, claiming that none of these problems exist – because they don’t experience them themselves.

For instance I, and millions of Tory voters, have far more in common with excellent Labour MPs such as Kate Hoey or Frank Field than I do with David Cameron and the weird, obedient, meaningless quacking robots with which he has filled the Cabinet Room and the Tory benches in the House of Commons.
But the ossified party system kept them apart until now. They could not and did not combine to defeat their common enemy. And so at Election after Election, those who merely wanted to live their lives much as they had always lived them, and were baffled and pained by the unending changes imposed on them, had nowhere to turn.

The parties they thought of as their own were in fact in an alliance against them. Blair became Cameron and Cameron became Blair, and after a while it was impossible to tell which was which.
Doesn't that sound a lot like we've recently witnessed among Sanders and Trump supporters? It was a revolt against elites just as we've seen in the primaries. (Though I can never understand why anyone would see Trump as the spokesman against elites when he brags about how many he's bought off or socialized with, but that's another argument.) Hitchens recommends that the British media and leader go visit some of those areas that voted for Brexit and they'd have a better understanding of what led to that vote.

Glenn Reynolds writes along these lines as he compares London with Washington and New York City with recommendations for America's leaders.
America, of course, faces the same kind of division, as Dana Loesch writes in her new book, Flyover Nation: You Can’t Run A Country You’ve Never Been To. Every once in a while, she notes, a publisher or a newspaper from a coastal city will send a reporter, like an intrepid African explorer of the 19th century, to report on the odd beliefs and doings of the inhabitants of the interior. But even the politicians who represent Flyover Country tend to spend most of their time — and, crucially, their post-elective careers — in Washington, DC.

Over the past few decades, Washington has gone from a sleepy town with restaurants and real estate priced to fit a civil servant’s salary to a glittering city with prices that match a K street lobbyist’s salary. The disconnect from regular Americans is much greater. And the public expressions of contempt toward ordinary Americans — Loesch’s book collects quite a few — make things much, much worse.

America, too, is experiencing a populist upheaval, of which Donald Trump’s candidacy is more of a symptom than a cause. It seems unlikely that the political elites of Britain and the EU will take the Brexit vote as encouragement to raise their game. Will America’s political class do better? I hope so, but I’m not optimistic.
The whole history of the EU was one of elites making decisions while ignoring the opinions of the citizens within their countries, there should be less surprise now that, when voters got a chance to vote, a majority voted against the EU. The whole idea of a referendum was anathema to the bien pensants of Europe.

Arthur Herman explains why it was such a phony argument that Britons should fear being knocked out of the EU free-trade zone.
Again, one of the threats that Remainers pushed was that if Britain left, it would lose out on all the advantages of the EU’s free-trade zone. In fact, the EU is the enemy of free trade. It has erected one barrier after another against trade with the U.S. and also against agricultural producers in Africa; it stole away Britain’s right to negotiate its own trade agreements. It’s also imposed regulations that hurt Britain’s service sector, while its courts have overturned laws passed by its parliament. Now Britain can do what Switzerland, Japan, Norway, and the U.S. do: negotiate trade deals that reflects its interests, not those of the oligarchs in Brussels.

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Timothy Carney also sees the battle over Brexit as a tribal battle that the "cosmopolitan elite tribe" lost.
The arguments against Leave were strikingly materialistic. Leaving will tank the Pound! It will hurt stock prices! Those poor rural communities are idiots for leaving an EU which subsidizes them!

But man does not live on euros alone. Man is a political animal. Humans naturally want not only to live their own lives, but to shape the world around them. Self-determination was the impetus behind the American Revolution. It was behind the Magna Carta. Heck, it's what Occupy Wall Street and the 21st Century Tea Party were about.

The European Union was explicitly against self-determination. The editors of National Review put it well. A new government, based in Brussels, has slowly grown over the Brits, and:
their new government is one they can't vote out. The European Commission, which has a virtual monopoly on proposing European legislation, never submits itself to elections. It is an appointed body of unknown bureaucrats and failed national politicians. Nor can British, French, or German parliaments reject or amend the Commission's laws and regulations or the European court's decisions. Nor can their voters repeal them. European law is superior to what are still quaintly called 'national laws.' And if a national referendum (one of the few escape hatches in this panopticon) rejects a European decision, the voters are asked to vote again until they get it right. In short the EU's defenses against democratic accountability are pretty watertight.

Indeed, removing democratic accountability — stripping people of their role as political animals — was part of the point of the EU.
That's why we see the fears that people around the EU in places like France and Germany might also want to vote against their membership in the EU. Leaders thought they had eradicated the mere idea of nationalism, but it turns out that Europeans of today have some of the same love of nationalism as they did in the 19th century when nationalism sprang up across in Europe and resulted in the unifications of Italy and Germany and nationalist movements in much of eastern Europe as well as the liberation of much of South and Central America.
Everyone lives in a tribe. This is good and necessary. The EU moved political power further away from home. More power, more concentrated, benefited the tribes of cosmopolitan elites — whose tribal bonds were Twitter, Facebook, journalism and education.

The EU took power from the tribes that were more based on place and language and history. These latter tribes had been largely deprived of their ability to shape the world around them. The elite tribes, on the other hand, had actually seen their political capacities multiplied.

Now the elites of the continent have lost some power to change the UK, and the elites of the UK have lost some power to shape the continent. Meanwhile, the populace, by bringing power closer to home, has regained some of the power it naturally ought to have.
Interestingly, the supporters of nationalism in the 19th century were that era's liberals rejecting the monarchies exerting control over peoples believed to be united by a common language and heritage. Today liberals prefer the control of unelected bureaucrats over the voices of ordinary people.

And Remain supporters didn't help themselves by overtly expressing their contempt for supporters of Leave.
Cameron and the Remain campaign made a final mistake. At one point, Cameron’s pollster tweeted that virtually every intelligent person thought leaving the EU a stupid idea. After the horrible murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox, “Stronger In” became “Kinder In.” The implication was that people concerned about immigration or just not happy being governed from Brussels were narrow-minded, xenophobic, or worse. When you try to delegitimize somebody’s vote, you don’t change his mind, only his willingness to talk about it.

Glenn Reynolds quotes a great takedown by Richard Fernandez of young people complaining about the vote by older people for leaving the EU when they won't be around for the consequences.
Essentially people much older than you gave you what you now take for granted. They won World War 2, fueled the great boom, walked through the valley of the shadow of nuclear death — and had you.

You didn’t make the present, nor as you now complain, are you making the future. No children, no national defense, no love of God or country.

But that’s just it. You’ve brainwashed yourselves into thinking someone else: the old, the older, the government, the dead would always do things for you.

If you learn anything from Brexit, learn that nobody got anywhere expecting someone to do things for him.

One funny aspect of the Brexit vote is how astounded everyone is that the pollsters got it wrong. On the eve of the vote, most polls showed a slight, or even bigger, majority for Remain. Remember that last year the pollsters missed the extent of the Conservative victory in the Parliamentarian vote.
Mr. Kellner said one hypothesis was that the results may have been distorted by the sharp decline of people willing to participate in telephone polls, combined with online polls that reflected only the views of the people who had volunteered to participate. In the case of the vote for a British exit, or “Brexit,” he said the polls appeared to have underestimated the number of Labour supporters outside London, in England and Wales, who backed leaving.

He said that with the coming presidential election in the United States, the vote in Britain was raising an uncomfortable question: “Are the people who can be reached by pollsters like the people the polls can’t reach?”

Pollsters could perhaps be forgiven for their stumbles in this case, given the hefty challenge of trying to parse the intentions of voters in a highly unusual referendum. After all, Britons had not voted on their future in Europe in more than four decades, and comparative data was scarce. Moreover, 17 of the 35 surveys conducted this month showed the Leave side ahead.
Ya think that not having been able to vote in over 40 years about the whole European project might have been a problem?

Apparently, the UK is particularly difficult for pollsters to estimate turnout. We saw that with last year's victory for Conservatives which surprised the pollsters. But no one really knows what's going wrong with the polls.
Following that election, Patrick Sturgis, a professor at the University of Southampton, did a study on why the polls had failed. Mr. Sturgis found that samples were often unrepresentative of the voting public and geared toward younger voters, who are more prone to engage in surveys. That left out a whole chunk of the population that tends to vote for more conservative policies or parties, like Mr. Cameron’s Conservatives, and in this case leaving the EU.

Results also suggested that a random selection of people tends to work better, instead of one that uses quotas to hit profiles, such as on age, gender, social class and other categories. Other research has stressed that telephone polls work better than those conducted online.

But Thursday’s referendum dealt a blow to such conclusions, which now makes it harder to learn lessons for the next vote.

This time, it was online polls that came closer to predicting a vote to leave.
The conclusion is that it's better to average all the polls together and when they show the vote to be too close to call, as the average of polls on Brexit did, refrain from drawing conclusions. Oh, and don't put your faith in the betting markets which got it really wrong.
But given the recent record of polls, analysts and investors were already turning to betting markets ahead of Thursday’s vote. That, though, also didn’t work out. On Thursday night, bookies were forecasting a 90% chance of the U.K. choosing to stay in the EU.

“I can’t remember any time when the bookies were so wrong,” said Christian Gattiker, chief strategist at Swiss private bank Julius Baer Group AG.

Betting odds are assumed to convey the “wisdom of the crowds” and take into account a greater range of factors than the snapshot of opinion that a poll will offer.

In the closing stages of the referendum campaign Betfair Group PLC was amongst the bookies predicting a 90% chance of the U.K. voting to stay.

“In normal circumstances, when a market is showing this much confidence in a result, the probability dictates that it will happen,” Naomi Totten, a spokeswoman for Betfair said in a statement. “But this referendum market was as extraordinary as the result itself.”

Of course, despite the faults and errors, everyone will keep looking to poll results the next time there is a big vote here or abroad. We love the idea of certainty and polls give us the illusion of scientific certainty.

For all the gloom-and-doomers, here is a good explanation of what will happen now after the vote.

And if you've been awestruck at the number of people signing the online petition to hold another vote, note that the numbers might have been generated by pranksters who are now bragging about the bot they created to sign the petition with obviously fake addresses of people in places like Vatican City and Ghana. I think it's hilarious that people want to take the results of an online petition as having more validity than actual people voting. And for all those taking the report from Google that there was a surge in people in the UK searching for the answer to the question "What is the EU?" as evidence that ignorant people were voting, remember that there is nothing to indicate the age of those who were searching. And the surge of those question "What is Brexit?" was centered in places that actually voted for Remain such as Northern Ireland and Scotland which were asking about what Brexit is. So beware of making assumptions about how those making the searches were voting.

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Cheers to Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky who just freed hair-braiders from onerous regulations.
In Kentucky it used to take 1,800 hours of irrelevant training to become a natural, African-style hair braider. That was because hair braiders needed to obtain a cosmetology license to practice hair braiding. But yesterday, Governor Matt Bevin held a ceremony to commemorate the signing of S.B. 269, which exempted natural hair braiders in Kentucky from needing to obtain a cosmetology license.

“This is a victory for economic liberty in the Bluegrass State,” said Christina Walsh, Director of Activism and Coalitions at the Institute for Justice (IJ). “Something as safe and common as hair braiding has no business being regulated by the government.”

IJ’s activism team helped Kentucky hair braiders organize to demand reforms to the state’s cosmetology licensing laws. Prior to the bill’s signing, hair braiders in Kentucky were required to spend up to $20,000 on 1,800 hours of irrelevant training to obtain a cosmetology license to go into business. This put legal braiding out of reach for the Commonwealth’s braiders.
It always amazes me to see how politicians have performed the will of some powerful group like unions of hairdressers and cosmetologists in order to block ordinary people from making a living. And the laws requiring such onerous licensing qualifications strike particularly hard at minority women, many of whom learned as children how to braid hair and shouldn't have to spend so much time and spend so much money just to do what they learned from their mothers and friends. And bless the Institute for Justice for championing these women. They report on the regulations across the states on hair-braiding.
In the 39 states and the District of Columbia where braiders are required to obtain a license, the necessary hours range from six in South Carolina to 2,100 in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Here's a good catch by Jeryl Bier
in response to a message from Organizing for Action, the 501c4 group advocating for Obama's agenda. Apparently, Obama knows exactly how Judge Merrick Garland, Obama's nominee to fill Scalia's seat, would have voted on the President's immigration actions. Aren't nominees supposed to wait until they hear a question before making up their minds?

Wait! I thought this was impossible.
Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan Nasser Judeh says that ISIS is infiltrating Syrian refugees.

Larry O'Connor notes questions
that journalists should have asked the Democrats at their sit-in over gun control.
“Mr. Democrat Congressman, can you please tell me which other constitutional rights the government can suspend without the benefit of a day in court?”

“Will the suspected terrorists on the watch list be prohibited from freely attending their mosque or church so as to keep Americans safer?”

“Given the terror attacks in Orlando and the increased risk of mass shootings in America, shouldn’t everyone on the terrorist watch list be held in a jail cell so that the rest of us can be safe from their potential terrorist activities?”

“Could you give me the name of the person who was killed by someone who purchased a firearm while they were on the terrorist watch list?”
Of course, as O'Connor writes, these aren't the sorts of questions that journalists will even think of because they have an unquestioning support for what the Democrats were saying so they don't even think of such issues.

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Bad news for Charlie Rangel. His peers on the House ethics committee have found him guilty on on 11 of 13 ethics violations. Even Democrats found him guilty.

CNN staffers are not happy
over the network's recent hire of Corey Lewandowski.