Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cruising the Web

With some Britons advocating ignoring the Brexit referendum, it's appropriate to remember that the EU has a history of ignoring popular opposition to the EU.
"Respect for the outcomes of referendums is perhaps not the most prominent feature of the sorry history of the E.U.," said Philipp Genschel, a Professor at the Schumann Center for Advanced Studies. "However, the standard way not to respect the outcome of a referendum is not open defiance [...] but the repetition of the referendum until it yields the ‘right’ outcome."

In fact, the European Union as we know it today was built on a series of rejections of public votes. When the Danes in 1992 declined to accept the Maastricht treaty — which paved the way for a more integrated political union — the European Union made some concessions and then staged a second referendum in which voters finally approved of it. The same happened in 2001, when the Irish rejected the so-called Nice treaty as the bloc expanded eastward, and in 2008 when they opposed another treaty over further E.U. integration.

Last year, Greek voters rejected bailout conditions proposed to the country by the European Union. But the leftist government in Athens ended up agreeing to most of those conditions anyway.

Earlier this year, the Dutch voted against closer ties between the E.U. and Ukraine — a decision which was interpreted as a backlash against the hard-line stances of many E.U. governments toward Russia. The Dutch government is now considering to simply ignore the outcome of this referendum.
An organization that was formed by agreements among leaders without any attention paid to what citizens of each country might have wanted doesn't care what any vote says. The elites know better and everyone should just shut up and obey.

Dennis Prager notes how so many on the left have contempt for referenda.
One would imagine, therefore, that if anyone would welcome referendums it would be the left.

So, what gives?

The answers explain a great deal about the left.

First, the left cares about "the people" as much as the Soviet Communist Party cared about the workers. For the left, real people are either political fodder or, when they support the left, useful idiots.

The left loves power, not people.

Repeat: The left loves power, not people.

If that is not understood, the left is not understood.

The European Union is a perfect example. It is a left-wing exercise in controlling people -- in this case, entire nations. That great source of societal damage -- the faceless and nameless bureaucrat, in this instance located in Brussels, Belgium -- seeks to control as much of every individual European's life as possible. There is no limit to the number and extent of rules the EU passes.
I find it ironic that those on the left who disdain the American Founding Fathers' concern about checks and balances in government do share the Founders' worry about the tyranny of the majority. It seems to be the one place where the left today is on the same side with James Madison.

While the leading Scottish politician, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, is pushing for a new referendum on Scotland leaving the UK, it might not be such a slam-dunk as the support Scottish voters had for Remain might indicate.
In 2014, nationalists forcefully argued that Scotland’s plentiful oil reserves in the North Sea would provide a stable basis for the independent nation’s finances, and would allow Scotland to become a Norway-style petrostate-cum-social democracy. That was a strong case in 2014, but now that the bottom has dropped out of the oil market and prices have collapsed, it doesn’t sound remotely as convincing as it once did. Add to that the fact that an independent Scotland would no longer receive payments from the U.K. government, and the financial case for independence looks like a tough one to make indeed.

Then there’s the question of whether an independent Scotland would even be allowed into the European Union. This seems to be taken as something of a given right now, but it shouldn’t be. Accession to the E.U. requires the unanimous assent of all current member states — all of the E.U.’s now-27 countries would need to give their okay to Scotland’s accession. But some countries are currently grappling with their own secessionist movements, and letting in the Scots after their own secession might send a positive signal to secessionists around Europe. In Spain, for instance, Scottish independence could embolden and set a precedent for the Catalonian secessionist movement, which has gathered momentum in recent years. And, it’s worth noting, the Spanish prime minister has recently expressed his opposition to negotiations with Scotland over its E.U. membership.

The greatest impediment to Scottish independence, though, may be the simple fact that the Scots cannot declare independence unilaterally. In the United Kingdom, Parliament is sovereign, and Parliament must grant its approval to a referendum for one to be held.
Don't look to Parliament to grant any such referendum on secession especially in the wake of the tremors after the Brexit vote. And Scots might want to wait and see how things shake out over the next couple of years as the UK works to extricate itself from the EU.

Daniel Henninger argues that the Brexit vote represents people's rejection of the administrative state.
It was the British people saying that the compact has been broken, not by them but by the administrative and political elites who dropped their side of the bargain.

The only way the bargain can be sustained is if the administrative state produces, or at least allows, sustained national growth. It now slows economic growth, which like a slow poison has weakened feelings of national well-being. Anti-immigrant resentment is a subset of this failure.

The creators of the European Union signed the enabling Maastricht Treaty in 1992 because they recognized that the economic underpinnings of the social compact were disintegrating. Everyone knew the purpose of this big step was summarized in a single, typically dry formulation: Each member would maintain “sound fiscal policies, with debt limited to 60% of GDP and annual deficits no greater than 3% of GDP.”

It didn’t work. Nearly all the members cheated on the benchmarks, economic growth weakened, and youth unemployment became chronic, driving France’s young men and women to London for jobs.

The “administrative state” hasn’t been a phrase known to drive people into the street. Until now. What we are witnessing is a global government fail—across Europe, the Middle East, in Beijing, Delhi, Tokyo and Washington, D.C.

If votes were held today in Italy, Spain, France or Norway, many would vote to abandon the long postwar consensus on letting the bureaucracies decide how to simultaneously produce economic strength and social justice.

No better symptom exists of the compact breaking apart than the European Central Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan. They epitomize the exhaustion of elite administrative intelligence. For seven years, they failed at restoring even average economic strength, disappearing now into a black hole called negative interest rates.

The Obama presidency has been an American version of the European Commission from which the Brits fled. Except that U.S. courts still review, rather than rubber-stamp, the Obama Commission’s executive orders ranging across labor, the environment, the internet, financial institutions and universities.

Had U.S. courts not pushed back against many of the Obama government’s rules and “guidance” directives, the famous “pen-and-phone” authority, this presidency would have come close to putting the states in the same relation to Washington as that between the once-sovereign states of Europe and Brussels.

If Woodrow Wilson was the American godfather of this transformation, Hillary Clinton is its handmaiden. She knows the drill. With four more years of an Obama-Clinton presidency and possibly Democratic control of Congress, the 100-year-old progressive goal of making the 50 American states obey one set of administrative specialists who reside in a single city will be close to complete.

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Chris Cillizza is throwing shade on Hillary Clinton's lies about her email server. He's building on the research done by the Associated Press about the nearly three dozen emails that Hillary and her aides deleted before they turned them over to the State Department.
Remember that Clinton and a small group of people working for her reviewed all of the emails she sent from her private server and made the decision about what was solely personal and what was work-related. She handed over the work-related email and permanently deleted those that she and her team decided were purely personal. She wound up deleting more emails than she turned over to State....

That these emails never saw the light of day before Monday — or before a conservative legal advocacy group petitioned for their release — opens up the possibility that there are plenty more like them that Clinton chose to delete but shouldn't have. And it provides more fodder for the Republican argument that Clinton appointing herself as judge, jury and executioner for her emails was, at best, a very, very bad decision and, at worst, something more nefarious than just bad judgment.
Ya think? But wait, that's not all!
Then there's this quote from a newly released March 2009 email between Clinton and her top aide Huma Abedin about the email setup: "I have just realized I have no idea how my papers are treated at State. Who manages both my personal and official files? ... I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want."


Remember that Clinton said that her main/only reason for using a private email server while at State was "convenience." She didn't want to carry around multiple devices for email, she explained.

But this email to Abedin — which came at the start of her four-year term in office — suggests a bit more active agency than Clinton has previously let on. "I think we need to get on this asap to be sure we know and design the system we want," doesn't strike me as Clinton simply wanting convenience and following the instructions of her IT people on how to make that happen. It reads to me as though Clinton is both far more aware of the email setup and far more engaged in how it should look than she generally lets on publicly.
As the AP reports, Hillary was very clear that she didn't want to use the official State Department email system.
The audit also cited a then-unreleased copy of a November 2010 email Clinton sent Abedin in which the secretary discussed using a government email account, expressing concern that she didn't want "any risk of the personal being accessible."
It's rather clear from AP's audit that, contrary to Hillary's claim that she and her lawyers only withheld personal emails, that she also withheld emails that demonstrated that she knew fully well what she was doing with her own server was in violation of State Department regulations and that she was determined to do it anyway. How convenient that emails that inculpated her just happened to be among those she didn't turn over.

As IBD writes, Clinton's attempt to cover-up has been worse than the crime.
The Clinton campaign's reaction to these revelations has been to tweak her claim about providing over all her work-related emails. Now the claim is that she turned over all those emails that were "still in her possession" when the request came in. But this makes no sense, since those emails, like all the others, would have been backed up on her server.

Sure, these missing emails could be brushed off as a minor snafu, and they don't appear to contain anything hugely damaging to national security. Except there's the fact that Clinton appears to have been lying about turning in all her work emails, when she obviously didn't, potentially exposing her to a perjury charge.

Remember that saying after Watergate, the one about how the cover-up is often worse than the crime?
This is not the first time that Hillary has been mentioned in the same breath as Nixon. Such comparisons have even become a popular meme. How ironic considering she got her start in Washington as an aide on the House Watergate Committee.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Republican candidate had the ability to focus attention on Hillary's mendacity and corruption besides just making cracks in his speeches? But while he's being hammered by the Democrats in advertising, he's invisible. Rich Lowry notes these swing-state ad spending numbers from June.
Colorado: Team Clinton $2.9 million, Team Trump $0
Florida: Team Clinton $7.3 million, Team Trump $0
Iowa: Team Clinton $1.6 million, Team Trump $0
North Carolina: Team Clinton $2.3 million, Team Trump $0
New Hampshire: Team Clinton $1.2 million, Team Trump $0
Nevada: Team Clinton $2.5 million, Team Trump $0
Ohio: Team Clinton $5.6 million, Team Trump $0
Virginia: Team Clinton $2.4 million, Team Trump $0
Total: Team Clinton $25.8 million, Team Trump $0
Now that's a winning strategy. It's a sign of how awful a candidate Hillary Clinton is that she isn't ahead even more.

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Since Republicans are doing all they can to evade appearing at the GOP convention in support of Donald Trump, he is resorting to sports celebrities to bring watchers to the GOP show in Cleveland.
Many Republican leaders are declining to attend the convention in Cleveland next month, and few have expressed interest in appearing on stage. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who withdrew from the presidential race in May, has not yet made plans to attend the convention in his home state. Bloomberg News reported Tuesday that the Trump campaign is lining up figures including former boxer Mike Tyson, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, and former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight, among others, to be a part of the convention program.
A few celebrities are fine, but it will be very noticeable if GOP politicians all decline appearances.

Though now Mike Ditka doesn't want to appear.

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John Podhoretz sees the parallels between how the Obama administration responded to the Benghazi attacks and the massacres in Orlando and San Bernardino.
For example, at 11:23 p.m. on the night of the attack, Hillary Clinton emailed her daughter, Chelsea, to say, “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an Al Quedalike [sic] group.”

The next morning, she said, “We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault.”

Sound familiar? Of course it does. After the attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando by home-grown terrorists, administration officials made a point of refusing to name the enemy publicly — in this case, ISIS, which had not yet come into existence at the time of Benghazi.

On the day following Orlando, the president himself said we had yet to discern “the precise motivations of the killer,” even though everyone knew by that point he had called 911 to swear his allegiance to ISIS while he was killing people.

Two weeks after the Orlando shooting — two weeks — Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “I cannot tell you definitively that we will ever narrow it down to one motivation. We will look at all motivations.”

With Benghazi, as with Orlando, the reason for these evasions is to make mystery and ambiguity a part of the narrative in order to buy the White House and the administration time and space — the time to control the story and the space to impress upon its supporters the impracticality and uselessness of responding to these acts of war....

Due to the Benghazi committee’s efforts to secure the facts of the case, the world came to learn about Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of public email — an irresponsible and reckless act that more than anything else jeopardizes her presidential ambitions.

But when it comes to radical Islam and the Obama administration, the truth is always the first casualty. Hillary is hoping her presidential bid isn’t its last.

Keith Hennessey responds to Trump's economic ignorance in calling for more tariffs such as one on steel. Hennessey reminds us that George W. Bush imposed a steel tariff in 2002, probably to increase his support in Pennsylvania. Later in 2003, the tariff was ended because it caused more economic problems than it solved.
Steel is an intermediate good. When you raise protectionist barriers against imported steel as Mr. Trump threatens, you temporarily help U.S. steelworkers. You also raise input prices for American firms that use steel to build bridges and buildings and make cars, and trucks, trains and train tracks, appliances, ships, farm equipment, drilling rigs and power plants, and tools and packaging. Higher input costs hurt American workers in those factories and on those construction sites.

Mr. Trump should ask the workers who make dishwashers at Whirlpool’s plant in Findlay, Ohio whether they’re in favor of more expensive steel. Or he can ask the John Deere workers who use steel at their factories in Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Or the auto workers at almost any U.S. car and truck assembly line. Raising prices for imported steel hurts all of these American workers.

Yes, the Chinese are selling steel in the U.S. at a low price, called “dumping.” Yes, this hurts the owners and employees of U.S. steel manufacturers. It also helps many other American workers and even more American consumers. And the Obama Administration is using the tools in current law to respond to the Chinese actions.

Trump: “A Trump Administration will also ensure that that we start using American steel for American infrastructure. … We are going to put American-produced steel back into the backbone of our country. This alone will create massive numbers of jobs.”

No, it won’t, and the downside is it would cost taxpayers more. Put another way, any given amount of tax dollars will build less infrastructure. We’ll repair fewer bridges but, by golly, the fixed ones will have ‘MERICAN steel. I’d rather get the best value for every tax dollar we spend on infrastructure, thus ensuring we fix as many bridges as possible.

Mr. Trump’s lines may sound good in steel country, but his policies would harm other American workers, drivers, and taxpayers. On the whole Donald Trump’s steel policy would be bad for America.

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Where has common sense gone in our schools? The police were called to interview a nine-year old boy because he was talking about...brownies.
A third grader had made a comment about the brownies being served to the class. After another student exclaimed that the remark was "racist," the school called the Collingswood Police Department, according to the mother of the boy who made the comment.

The police officer spoke to the student, who is 9, said the boy's mother, Stacy dos Santos, and local authorities.

Dos Santos said that the school overreacted and that her son made a comment about snacks, not skin color.

"He said they were talking about brownies. . . . Who exactly did he offend?" dos Santos said.

The boy's father was contacted by Collingswood police later in the day. Police said the incident had been referred to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The student stayed home for his last day of third grade.

Dos Santos said that her son was "traumatized," and that she hopes to send him to a different Collingswood public school in the fall.

And she wants an apology. She said she graduated from Collingswood High School and has two other children, a 21-year-old who also went through Collingswood schools, and a 3-year-old. Her husband, the third grader's father, is Brazilian, dos Santos said.

"I'm not comfortable with the administration [at Tatem]. I don't trust them and neither does my child," she said. "He was intimidated, obviously. There was a police officer with a gun in the holster talking to my son, saying, 'Tell me what you said.' He didn't have anybody on his side."

The incident, which has sparked outrage among some parents, was one of several in the last month when Collingswood police have been called to look into school incidents that parents think hardly merit criminal investigation.

Superintendent Scott Oswald estimated that on some occasions over the last month, officers may have been called to as many as five incidents per day in the district of 1,875 students.

This has created concern among parents in the 14,000-resident borough, who have phoned their elected officials, met with Mayor James Maley, blasted social-media message boards, and even launched a petition calling on the Camden County Prosecutor's Office to "stop mandated criminal investigation of elementary school students."

The increased police involvement follows a May 25 meeting among the Collingswood Police Department, school officials, and representatives from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, where school officials and police both said they were told to report to police any incidents that could be considered criminal, including what Police Chief Kevin Carey called anything "as minor as a simple name-calling incident that the school would typically handle internally."

The police and schools were also advised that they should report "just about every incident" to the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency, Carey said.

Previously, the school district, following the state's Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, had only reported incidents it deemed serious, like those involving weapons, drugs, or sexual misconduct. Both Carey and School Board President David Routzahn described the protocol set forth after that May meeting as a significant change in procedure.

"It was a pretty clear directive that we questioned vehemently," Oswald said. directed us to do," Oswald said. "It went way above what that MOA says." (link via Katherine Timpf)
This whole story is just amazing to me. I've been a teacher for over 25 years in middle and high schools and have only seen police called into a school when there was a question of a law broken such as a student bringing a weapon or drugs to school. The job of a teacher or an administrator is to deal with minor disagreements or issues with students. If they can't deal with one student being offended by talk of a snack food, why do they have their jobs? Why would police want to be wasting time and manpower to investigate what a nine-year old said at snack time? And from the newspaper report, it seems like the police were called based on what another child complained about rather than what an adult might have heard. This sounds like an incident that could have been wrapped up in a few minutes of conversation with a sensitive teacher. Even if he had actually said something racist, that is still an episode that a teacher or administrator can resolve. That's their dang job!

Instead we have a nine-year old who is traumatized and doesn't want to return to school. And I don't blame him. It must be pretty scary for a third-grader to have to talk to the police and they didn't even call in the parents to be present. And you can imagine how other kids might tease a kid after that incident. And the parents now have to worry about their child being referred to Child Protection and Permanency. Does this make any sort of sense?

Now that there is all this negative publicity due to the parents going public, all sides are trying to disclaim responsibility. The school board is saying it's not their fault, but the blame lies in the Memorandum of Agreement between Education and Law officials which now requires that every "potentially criminal issue" be referred to the police. How a child's possibly racist statement is a criminal issue is beyond me, but the school is complaining that the prosecutor's office is over-defining everything as a potentially criminal issue. But the Officials are saying that the school has misinterpreted the agreement.