Category Archives: Media Criticism

Brexit

James Bennett proposes a CANZUK union to replace the UK’s membership in the EU.

Meanwhile, it looks as though the permission of the Scottish Parliament and Ulster may be required to leave:

We asked Sir David whether he thought the Scottish Parliament would have to give its consent to measures extinguishing the application of EU law in Scotland. He noted that such measures would entail amendment of section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998, which binds the Scottish Parliament to act in a manner compatible with EU law, and he therefore believed that the Scottish Parliament’s consent would be required.83 He could envisage certain political advantages being drawn from not giving consent.

We note that the European Communities Act is also entrenched in the devolution settlements of Wales and Northern Ireland. Though we have taken no evidence on this specific point, we have no reason to believe that the requirement for legislative consent for its repeal would not apply to all the devolved nations.

Stay tuned.

[Update a while later]

“Citizens of the World?” Nice thought, but don’t hold your breath:

The inability of those elites to grapple with the rich world’s populist moment was in full display on social media last night. Journalists and academics seemed to feel that they had not made it sufficiently clear that people who oppose open borders are a bunch of racist rubes who couldn’t count to 20 with their shoes on, and hence will believe any daft thing they’re told. Given how badly this strategy had just failed, this seemed a strange time to be doubling down. But perhaps, like the fellow I once saw lose a packet by betting on 17 for 20 straight turns of the roulette wheel, they reasoned that the recent loss actually makes a subsequent victory more likely, since the number has to come up sometime.

Or perhaps they were just unable to grasp what I noted in a column last week: that nationalism and place still matter, and that elites forget this at their peril. A lot people do not view their country the way some elites do: as though the nation were something like a rental apartment — a nice place to live, but if there are problems, or you just fancy a change, you’ll happily swap it for a new one.

[Update a few minutes later]

Brexit’s complicated aftermath:

For a long time, Britons who wanted their country to leave the European Union were regarded almost as mentally ill by those who wanted it to stay. The leavers didn’t have an opinion; they had a pathology. Since one doesn’t argue with pathology, it wasn’t necessary for the remainers to answer the leavers with more than sneers and derision.

Even after the vote, the attitude persists. Those who voted to leave are described as, ipso facto, small-minded, xenophobic, and fearful of the future. Those who voted to stay are described as, ipso facto, open-minded, cosmopolitan, and forward-looking. The BBC itself suggested as much on its website. In short, the desire to leave was a return to the insularity that resulted in the famous—though apocryphal—newspaper headline: fog in the channel: continent cut off.

And then there’s this:

One possible reason for the success of the Brexit campaign was President Obama’s ill-conceived intervention, when he threatened that if Britain voted to leave the Union, it would have to go to the “back of the queue” as far as any trade agreements are concerned. This sounded like bullying, and was not well-received by much of the British population, which had already been subjected to quite a lot of such bullying from others. If I were an American, I shouldn’t have been pleased with it either, for Obama spoke not as a president with a few months left in office, but as a president-for-life, or at least one with the right to decide his successor’s policy.

Yes, the arrogance would have been stunning, if it hadn’t been typical. And on that last Nigel Farage agrees:

Obama certainly has that reverse Midas touch. Recall his efforts to secure the Olympics for Chicago that ended in embarrassing failure.

After nearly eight years in the White House, President Obama can’t understand that the influence he has as president is a precious resource not to be wasted unless he is sure that he can make a difference. That includes efforts to influence domestic as well as foreign policy.

Have any of his ham-handed attempts to influence events overseas not backfired on him? I can’t think of any.

The Navy

Fundamentally transformed:

First, there was no navigation brief, a major violation of Navy protocol. When any Navy ship gets underway, even for something as minor as shirting berths from one pier to another, it is standard for a Navy crew to conduct a navigation brief discussing issues such as hazards to navigation or, in this case, an Iranian base near the planned course.

Second, the chain of command was not well defined on the two boats. While a young lieutenant was the highest-ranking individual on either of the two 50-foot boats, when the order was given to evade the Iranian forces, the helmsman refused the order.

Third, defense officials tell Fox News the Navy had become too complacent with the its treatment by Iranian forces in the months leading up to the January capture.

“The story here is these guys had gotten so used to Iranians doing stupid s—, having weapons pointed at them all the time, they didn’t know they were being captured until the Iranians boarded their boats,” one defense official said describing the lack of situational awareness by the Navy crew. “They messed up pretty bad.”

I guess I should be happy that at least people were relieved of their commands. But it makes you wonder how they got them in the first place.

I had beer in Seattle with a career Air Force colonel who’s about to retire. He said that, in his thirty years, he’s never seen morale in the military so low.

The Washington Delusion

Ben Domonech responds to Jonathan Rouch’s lunatic dispatch from inside the cocooned Beltway:

Square Rauch’s frame with the Benjy Sarlin report this week on the people who elected Trump, which is also quoted below. You can’t, because the latter offers actual data to show why people supported Trump, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s not because they’re angry about the lack of earmarks. It’s not that people believe their leadership class is corrupt – it’s that they know they’re stupid. It’s not that people are angry because a parking garage didn’t get built, it’s that they’re angry because the FBI can’t keep track of a terrorist’s wife.

Sarlin’s piece illustrates, in clear data-driven reporting, the real basis for the breakdown of our Cold War era political reality: an utter collapse in the belief that our elites, elected or otherwise, have the capacity to represent. They no longer believe our elites will ever look out for the interests of an anxious people. The “he can’t be bought” frame for Trump’s rise is best understood as code for “he’ll look out for me, not [pick your group]”.

This is not about ideology. If people trusted elites and institutions they defend to look out for them, in a non-ideological sense, the breakdown of our systems would have been mitigated or confined. The fact that it is so sweeping is due to a generation of elites who didn’t do their jobs well, or pretended things weren’t their job for too long.

We have breakdown, chaos, and upheaval in our politics today not because the people are “insane”, as Rauch writes, but because they are sane. They know the leadership class which held power for the past generation has not looked out for them.

We should never refer to them as “elites” without the scare quotes: There is nothing “elite” about them, in terms of intelligence, probity or even basic competence. Sadly, Trump would be no better, but he is what their arrogant fecklessness has delivered.

Blaming Guns For Orlando

…is like blaming Zyklon B gas for the Holocaust.

Yup. And the only real purpose of that stunt in the House yesterday was to divert attention from the fact that the massacre was committed by a Muslim member of the Democrat Party.

[Update a while later]

Yes, I agree: Paul Ryan should have sent down a shipment of juice boxes and stuffed animals. I’d have loved to see the media reaction to that.

Top Space Influencers

I’d be more gratified by being in this stratosphere if I could see more things happening that I’m actually influencing. But maybe I’m being too impatient. I also wish that being an influencer paid better.

[Wednesday-morning update]