Tag: EU

The New Issue of Touchstone Is Out…

 

…and I’m in it. This would be Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity. The article in question is here: Not with Their Children by John D. Martin | Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity (touchstonemag.com)

The magazine is well worth your time. We subscribed for years before I began contributing. Yes, the article is behind a paywall. I encourage you to subscribe or donate to support The Fellowship of Saint James which publishes it or do both if you can.

Join Jim and Greg as they offer a rare compliment to the European Union for sanctioning China in response to Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong. They also discuss why voting by mail this year could be a gigantic mess and why President Trump musing about delaying the election is also a big mistake. They roll their eyes as Dr. Fauci suggests covering them with goggles or face shields to protect from COVID. And they remember successful businessman and 2012 presidential candidate Herman Cain, who passed away after a battle with COVID.

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I think it’s fair to say that no foresight about the pandemic was involved in the vote and slowly impemented Brexit process….but what a coincidence of history that Brexit got firmed up just as the virus arrived. I’ve been looking for whether the citizens now think with hindsight (and with the EU in another internal […]

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Party in the UK: Happy Brexit Day

 

I wrote this less than 10 hours before the UK officially left the EU. Hooray! For most Americans, who have seen the political and social havoc that Brexit has wrought from a distance and at intervals, I’m sure this seems like the inevitable, albeit, long conclusion to a rocky process. But living on the ground, even compared to the experiences of the most well-informed non-Brits, is an entirely different experience.

In lectures, tutorials, and railway stopping protests, Brexit has been continually hashed out over the last two years. Every time a cabinet minister or prominent MP comes to visit our uni Tory Society, he or she is bombarded with Brexit related questions, to almost the exclusion of domestic policy. Bringing high school friends to Parliament last summer came with a man wearing a Boris mask and a Union Jack leotard shouting about the French, and a troop of be-started pro-EU protests singing about trade policy. We’ve watched two prime ministers be felled, hosted contentious debates from the highest placed on both sides at Union, and seen the pound flail in value. In short, it has been an exhausting and deeply divisive two years.

And now I’m left to wonder about the direction that the UK will take once it is free from the EU’s grasp in a few hours. At 11 pm, Boris Johnson will speak, no bells will toll and then … I don’t think that the UK will fall in the brave new post-European world that it has created for itself. It was dragged kicking and screaming into the ever-increasing treaties and blocs that formed the EU over decades, and its dictates did much to offend traditional British political and social mores. There will be trade deals and immigration upset on the horizon to be sure, and negotiating the precise nature of Britain’s relationship will be a challenge, but life will go on here. The bigger curiosity is to see how the UK responds as it turns inwards politically and farther outwards in commerce and alliances.

Are You Clamoring for an Electric Car?

 

(With my apologies to Gary McVey, prepare for one of my incendiary posts.)

Is a Tesla or a Chevy Bolt, or a Nissan Leaf on your Christmas list this year? Can you hardly wait to ditch that gas-guzzler in the driveway and replace it with a vehicle that you can “fill up” from an installation in your garage, at a lot less than a tank of Regular?

Well, if that’s what you see in your future, so do most of the world’s car manufacturers. There probably isn’t a car manufacturer who isn’t working on designing and building an electric car, either purpose-designed or just replacing the internal-combustion engine in a model they already build with a big battery. General Motors has already announced their coming “All-electric future.” The European Union is mandating more and more strict emissions rules for vehicles sold there, and their carmakers like BMW, Renault, Daimler, Fiat, and Volvo are all touting their electric vehicles.

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Potential carbon tariffs have been an active topic at the United Nations climate conference that wraps up this weekend in Madrid, where nearly 200 nations have been at odds over how to counter the continued global rise of greenhouse gas emissions. And some diplomats say it’s inevitable that governments will turn to trade barriers in […]

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 Our old friend, Claire Berlinski, has a very good piece in the City Journal about a communist festival she attended last Fall. In classic Berlinski style, she captures the fist in the air punch with all its Marxist glory, using her funny/serious, tongue-in-cheek writing style. It’s a snapshot of the mindset of current zombie European […]

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An Open Letter to Mitt Romney

 

Dear Mr. Romney:

I read your opinion piece in The Washington Post under the interesting heading: “Democracy Dies in Darkness”. You called it: “The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short.”

You say, “A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.”

Dennis Prager on the Self-Righteously Suicidal West and False Morality

 

For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had nationally syndicated radio host, columnist, author of numerous books, teacher, film producer and co-founder of PragerU, Dennis Prager, on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • How Dennis Prager ended up a conservative as an Ivy League-educated Jewish intellectual from Brooklyn, New York — contrary to so many of his peers
  • How perceptions of human nature divide Left and Right
  • Whether government has filled the void of religion for the increasingly secular and progressive American coasts
  • How the good intentions that underlie Leftist policy prescriptions lead to horrendous outcomes — and emotion versus reason on the Left and Right
  • The false morality underlying European immigration policy with respect to the Muslim world, and Prager’s criticism of Jewish support of mass immigration consisting disproportionately of Jew-haters
  • The self-righteous suicidalism of the West
  • The Leftist bias of social media platforms and PragerU’s legal battle with YouTube/Google

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, download the episode directly here or read the transcript here.

Richard Epstein uses the recent push for independence in Spain’s Catalonia region to consider the question of when separatist movements are justified in pursuing independent statehood—and how they should go about it.

Hoover senior fellow Russell Berman, a specialist in the study of German literary and cultural politics, takes us through the aftershocks of the French presidential election. Is German chancellor Angela Merkel breathing a sigh of relief or, despite the nationalist setback in France, does her future and that of the European Union remain in doubt?

Theresa May Officially Announces Snap Elections

 

First, the big news: Parliament is happily dissolved! Less than a year after the amazing Brexit vote, snap elections have officially been scheduled for June 8. That’s within a year of a new government: and within two years of the previous general election.

The last time the British electorate voted twice within four years was 1974: Labour beat the Tories twice that year. That, of course, led to the ouster of the Tory loser and the rise of the Great Lady to Tory leadership. If you believe statesmanship is called forth in such troubled times, you might see Theresa May as the confident warrior this time around. At any rate, three important elections in two years add up to a good show of both British moderation in politics and the seriousness of the political changes. It is hard to disagree with the PM: This is the most important election in her lifetime.

Brussels Gets Brexit Wrong — Again

 

Theresa May, the British prime minister, recently sent a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, announcing that the UK would withdraw from the EU under the procedures set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Her letter noted that, even though withdrawal was irrevocable, the UK seeks to forge the closest and most cooperative arrangement possible with the EU moving forward. Although Article 50 prevents the EU from blocking Brexit, it offers little by way of guidance on how the exit negotiations should proceed.

The treaty provides that if the parties fail to reach an agreement within two years, the EU treaties “shall cease to apply” to the UK unless both sides agree to an extension. If not, all relations under the EU are severed, even if other obligations, such as those under the World Trade Organization, remain in place. Still, Article 50 of the Treaty contemplates that withdrawal from the EU need not constitute a clean break, given that in working out the terms of withdrawal, the parties may take into account “the framework for [the UK’s] future relationship with the Union.” The treaty also provides that the EU will entrust its side of the negotiations to the head of its negotiating team, who in this instance is Michel Barnier, a French politician. At this point, everything is up for grabs.

The Brexit process has now been launched, and the different attitudes taken by the two sides to the negotiations are, indeed, striking. In her well-crafted letter, Prime Minister May sought to preserve good relations with the EU after the breakup. There was of course no denying that the UK left Brexit because of its unhappiness with the dominant position that the EU Commission in Brussels held over economic and social matters in Britain; the Commission has the ability in many important areas, such as employment law, to require each member state to harmonize its laws with the EU’s directives. That direct control from the center was in stark contrast to the earlier plan of a smaller European Economic Community, which stressed four freedoms involving the movement of goods, services, capital, and people across national boundary lines. In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU in large measure to avoid the Union’s control on matters of economic regulation and the movement of people, especially immigrants, across national boundaries.

The End of Fantasy Europe

 

First off I would like to say that I have not read James Kirchick’s The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age. Frankly I have better things to do with my time, like reading about the previous dark ages that supposedly befell Europe. However, I have read @Claire Berlinski’s article and will be moving forward to address the issues mentioned there.

I am going to first address my biggest problem with this book and its title. It’s not the end of Europe which is being addressed. It’s the end of the European Union. Whenever Europe is mentioned I will likely be referring to the EU or as I like to call it Fantasy Continent.

Unlike Kirchick or Claire, I am writing to the people of Ricochet. People who elected Trump, people who didn’t vote for Trump. But people for the most part I don’t think have their heads in the clouds. People who live in what I like to call the real world. The one we live in and not the ones that fantasize about the way they wish the world works. Just people.

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Listening to the most recent Newshour program from the BBC World Service, I was bombarded by shellshocked reporters and Eurocrats tearing their hair and beating their breasts about what to do about – you guessed it – the Trumpian Menace. Given the newsreaders’ and reporters’ open sympathies with the EU, one would think “BBC” stands […]

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Canada and the European Union have been negotiating a free trade agreement (CETA) for the past few years. However, on Friday Canada’s negotiator walked out of talks with the Walloon region of Belgium. This article from the National Post newspaper explains some of the challenges:  Perhaps CETA might yet be salvaged. There has been a […]

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One motivation for Brexit which I hadn’t read before: the UK had recently overtaken France as the fifth-largest economy in the world, and is expected to surpass Germany within the next two decades.: But until Brexit, Canada [and other non-EU nations] was shut off from this economic powerhouse, our only path to profitable U.K. trade wending […]

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Trade and Immigration After Brexit

 

Border control chaos at Heathrow airport's terminal 5, LondonNo matter what happens next, last week’s stunning “Leave” vote on Brexit has permanently disrupted the status quo ante. Both the Conservative and Labour parties are facing major leadership changes; Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned, and Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has been besieged by his shadow cabinet for his tepid support of the Remain option. Stock markets worldwide continue to tumble and the British pound has taken a beating. The Sunday New York Times lead story took a somewhat hysterical tone when it announced that the Brexit vote “is already threatening to unravel a democratic bloc of nations that has coexisted peacefully for decades.” And the strong supporters of Remain are now determined, it seems, to predict the worst, perhaps in the hope that Great Britain will take the opportunity to “reconsider” its decision in light of the global economic hit that occurred the day the Brexit vote was announced.

As I recently argued, the Brexit vote was complicated, given the pros and cons on both sides. But now that the voting has occurred, the correct response is to put the fear-mongering aside and to think hard about the two major issues, so central to the Brexit debate, which will continue to vex Britain and the EU — trade and immigration. On this score, it is important to realize that those two issues are distinct. The argument for free trade is pretty clear — but with the much murkier issue of immigration, it is virtually impossible to come up with a knockdown argument in favor of either fully open or fully closed borders.

Let’s start with free trade. Here, the basic economic principle of comparative advantage works with equal force in both domestic and international markets. The most efficient form of production comes through a division of labor in which all parties provide those goods and services at which they are, relatively speaking, better at producing than anyone else. Thus, even if nation A were better than nation B at all forms of production, it hardly follows that nation B should remain idle. Instead, it should produce in that area in which it has the smallest disadvantage relative to nation A. So long as trade between the two nations remains open, both nations should on balance be better off than they would have been if each kept tariff walls high against any imports. The mutual exchange produces higher outputs across the board, and thus fuels growth in both nations. The principle is scalable, so that the more nations that come to the table, the greater the gains from trade, in both the international and domestic arenas. The substantive goal is to make the borders among sovereign nations porous.