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Post Thoughts on Upcoming Brexit Vote
Created by John Eipper on 06/18/16 5:14 AM

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Thoughts on Upcoming Brexit Vote (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 06/18/16 5:14 am)

On Thursday, June 23rd, Great Britain will vote on whether or not to remain in the EU. This vote is one that could fundamentally remake the European geopolitical environment, and it will surely impact the global economy. As an unconditional EU supporter, I am interested in the outcome and I am particularly puzzled by what might motivate the British to leave the EU. This question reminds me in many aspects, in a more regional context, of the issue of Catalonian independence from Spain.

Opinion polls have been close, but recently Brexit seems to lead. According to most recent polls the margin is 6% for leaving the Union, and the main concern for British voters is 1) immigration, and 2) the economy, in that order. Either way, with Brexit or Brimain, the UK and the EU are set for a period of political confrontations, volatility and uncertainty.

Many things have been said about consequences of a Brexit. What is really at stake for European Union and for the UK?. The economy, immigration, independence from the EU's so-called interventionist bureaucracy?  What would be the potential economic or business impacts? I believe these are questions that are hidden from the British or the EU public behind populist political campaign clichés. I have been following the debate, and it seems to me it has not been informative or illustrative. So what are the real reasons the British people have to support the Brexit?

Arguments in favor or against Brexit have been published. Independent organizations such as the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Institute of Economic Affairs, The Economist, other British and European institutions and media, have clearly argued that there are not sound economic reasons to leave the EU.




In the event of a Brexit, apparently, the British GDP would fall up to 6%, and the Pound will be devalued at least 15%. Though this might be good for exports, the probable loss of import duty privileges in the EU zone will be more substantial. Independently of the result, UK will be obliged to comply with more than 700 international commercial and financial treaties. One of the principal export products of the UK are its financial services, which probably will lose competitiveness. The UK is a major receptor of EU of foreign investment that most likely will be tempted to leave the country because of the uncertainty. There will probably be an immediate tax increase for the population and corporations. Pension and education budgets would be also be affected, etc.

Other economic arguments have been mentioned by objective experts. Even assuming that only a small number of these expected outcomes actually occur, they should be of great concern to the people. Of course, there are also important negative impacts of the EU. The question is not which party will be the loser; this should not be a win-lose contest. As I believe Margaret Thatcher once said, "The UK is just as important to the EU as the EU is for the UK."

Anyway, even if we put aside the economic reasons, then the question of immigration comes into consideration. But again the reasoning seems very weak. Other countries, such as Norway, Switzerland or Sweden, do not belong to the EU and still they have to face the immigration problem. One British friend, a Brexit supporter, was telling me today that her expectation for the UK's status is to become like Norway. This is a very legitimate hope but it is mistaken for many objective reasons.

The third possible question, regarding the EU's arguably interventionist bureaucracy, might be partially true. The EU was not born to impose political and social norms and strict guidelines on its members. As I said in the past, the main reason for the EU's creation was economic, to guarantee free trade and the free transit of people among members, to eliminate duty barriers, with the important consequence of reducing the risk of repeating Europe's twentieth century's wars--namely, expansionist ambitions and territorial disputes. The current Brussels bureaucrats need to reduce their own power ambitions, which seem to erode the sovereignty and national feelings of the general population. In any case, I doubt this justification is the cause for the general population. It is likely that most people do not perceive the policies that come from Brussels.

I apologize for my next opinion if it sounds intrusive, but it seems that what is left for those who support Brexit is a purely emotional process, manipulated by a recalcitrant Euroscepticism, motivated by the illusion to regain a control that has never been lost, or to regain lost sovereignty. There is the false belief that being out of the Euro zone and Schengen gives Britain the best of both worlds. Brexit supporters also have an uncertain aspiration to control illegal immigration.

I wonder if the unfortunate murder of the British MP Jo Cox, a supporter of the Brimain, might be another emotional factor that comes into play.

At the end I hope the referendum outcome is to remain in the EU.

JE comments: The Brimain movement has found its martyr--the young and dynamic MP Jo Cox. Can anyone in the UK give us a report on how the assassination has influenced the polls?  I would presume that Ms Cox's blood has sealed the defeat of Brexit.

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  • Sweden and EU (Paul Levine, Denmark 06/18/16 7:09 AM)

    A quick correction to José Ignacio Soler (18 June): Sweden, unlike Norway and Switzerland, is a member of the EU. But like Denmark and the UK, it was smart enough to stay out of the Eurozone.

    JE comments:  Several responses have come in to José Ignacio's post.  Don't touch that dial.

    Paul:  what's the buzz in Denmark about Thursday's Brexit vote?

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  • June 23rd is Almost Here: Brexit Vote (John Heelan, UK 06/18/16 7:30 AM)
    On Brexit, the problem is that there are no empirical facts, only speculations.

    There is a Remain myth that 90% of the world's economists say it would be bad for the UK. The usual rebuttal is that the so-called "independent" observers each have their own motives for wanting the UK to stay in the EU. The IMF (and Lagarde in particular) is heavily exposed to a default of the Eurozone overall and especially Greece and a potential breakup of the EU following a Brexit. The IMF has been criticised for its wrong projections post-2008. The OECD also has been self-critical of its quality of forecasting after the 2008 economic crisis. For its part, the Fed sees an impact on the US economy from a Brexit.

    When one tracks the funding of "independent" UK economic think-tanks, one usually finds close relationship with the UK government and Treasury--e.g. the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) that in turn is funded by the government Ministry of Business, Innovation and Skills. Wall St. and US banks not only are similarly exposed to a eurozone default, but also salivating at the privatisation of European public assets being demanded by the IMF and unelected Eurogroup Working Group as part of the European Stabilisation Mechanism and the unelected European Central Bank. (As I have commented before, it seems that most European central banks, including the ECB and the Bank of England, are managed by Goldman Sachs alumni.) See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/what-price-the-new-democracy-goldman-sachs-conquers-europe-6264091.html

    The motivations for the Brexit group are not much better. The main proponents have their eyes on political promotion with Boris Johnson wanting to be PM one day. This is unlikely to happen (thank goodness), as in a post-Brexit bunfight within the Conservative party, the betting is on Theresa May (current Home Secretary, who has been busily gathering control of the intelligence services, the police and soon the fire services). Much of the Brexit propaganda is as unbelievable as the Remain's "Project Fear."

    As to propaganda, the fight has been reduced to two easily remembered soundbites: (Remain's) "It's the economy, stupid!" and (Brexit's) "It's uncontrolled immigration, stupid!" The UK public is not as stupid as our politicians hope, and usually make the right decisions for the long-term health of the country.

    Interestingly, today's El Pais launches a character assassination on UKIP's leader, headed "Hitler was Right" referring to a comment that Farage is alleged to have said to Jewish fellow students when he was aged 13. Perhaps it is no accident that the article appears on the same page as El Pais's report on the gathering of EU ultranationalist parties in Vienna recently.

    It is also worth reading Christine Lagarde's speech in Vienna:


    See also the Wikileaks report of a discussion between IMF officials: https://wikileaks.org/imf-internal-20160319/transcript/IMF%20Anticipates%20Greek%20Disaster.pdf

    A further useful reference is an article printed in The Spectator (hitherto a fervent supporter of the Conservatives) entitled "Out--and into the world: why The Spectator is for Leave. We were right in 1975, and we're right again now."


    I suspect that the 23 June Referendum will be swayed by different generations. Older generations voting for Brexit, some younger generation voting for Remain. (A straw poll in my own family suggests that the adults will vote for Brexit and only one grandchild will vote for Remain.)

    The UK is in shock with the murder of the MP Jo Cox (young mother of two small children). Both campaigns have called a halt out of respect, although somebody in the Brexit camp has been heavily criticised for trying to forge a link between the murder (apparently by a mentally challenged person) and Brexit's arguments.

    I suspect that the UK public is getting Referendum fatigue and will be glad when 24 June arrives. (I shall!)

    Finally, this Pew report is worth reviewing:


    JE comments: John Heelan has done an excellent job of keeping us informed.  Just think:  less than a week from now we'll have closure.  Financial markets hate the unknown, so a Brexit "yes" will probably erase a trillion or two of the world's wealth.

    I cannot fathom any way the pro-Brexit camp could spin the Cox assassination to its advantage, unless it suggests some sort of "false flag" or conspiracy from the Remain movement.

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  • Brexit Vote (Angel Vinas, Belgium 06/18/16 11:32 AM)

    I couldn´t be more in agreement with José Ignacio Soler (18 June). Today´s Le Monde published a very interesting interview with an English novelist, Will Self, arguing why he´s going to vote against Brexit. Highly recommended.

    I hope colleagues won´t resent me if I state, as a former Brussels bureaucrat, that the way the EU bureaucracy is usually portrayed in the English-speaking media is wide off the mark. The Brits have been at pains and successfully so in bending the European Commission to follow the lead of the Council. It means that most if not all the regulations and directives issued from mythical Brussels have been given the blessing by the Council and the European Parliament which are the ultimate decision-makers. And who are also the key holders to the decision-making process?  The Member States, with Britain often at the forefront.

    Management of the euro has proceeded on an intergovernmental basis, with nationalistic-minded Germany in the lead. Dealing with the immigration crisis has also been intergovernmental. If you want to look for "culprits" for the mismanagement of the EU, I would submit that the key actors are the Member States and not the faceless bureaucrats of the Commission (as faceless this is to say as the bureaucrats at Whitehall). The Commission is at fault for having failed to do its duty--i.e., provide a reasonable scenario for EU developments taking into account the lessons learned from the past.

    I belong to those who think that the Brexit campaign has been dishonest, full of lies and stereotypes, and unable to provide a blueprint for the UK outside the EU. However, all this neither here nor there today. This coming Friday we´ll know what the Brits have decided. From then on several scenarios can be projected. He who laughs last, laughs best.

    JE comments:  John Heelan forwarded this Guardian article.  Proponents of Brexit are trying to deny any political meaning for the Jo Cox assassination:


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    • Brexit Vote (Paul Preston, UK 06/18/16 4:34 PM)
      I agree totally with Ángel Viñas (18 June) that "the Brexit campaign has been dishonest, full of lies and stereotypes, and unable to provide a blueprint for the UK outside the EU."

      What makes it worse is who is telling the lies. The campaigners who claim to want to save money in order to give it to the NHS and other public services are politicians who have been at the forefront of depriving those services of funding. As one journalist put it the other day, not content with pissing down our leg and declaring that it is raining, now blame Brussels for the weather. The money they claim that they will save, even if it were devoted to the NHS, is a trivial amount.

      Where I cannot agree with Ángel is that there is anything to laugh at.

      JE comments:  Money that a nation "saves" has a knack for going down the proverbial rat hole.  Remember the post-Cold War "Peace Dividend"?

      I'm going to remember that uro-climatic metaphor, Paul.

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      • Real Victim of Brexit Vote: Public's Trust in Politicians (John Heelan, UK 06/19/16 5:34 AM)
        Paul Preston (18 June), as usual, hits the nail on the head. The real loser in this whole Brexit/Remain debate is the public's trust in politicians.

        The "economies with the truth" are told by both sides in Remain's overstated "Project Fear" and Brexit's unsubstantiated "Jam & Jerusalem Tomorrow."** This debate has shone a strong light on the hypocrisy of the Westminster Bubble to the extent that few people now believe anything either side says. Hence their reducing the problem to propaganda soundbites easily remembered at voting decision time in the polling booths.

        **National Federation of Women's Institutes | Why was Jerusalem chosen as the WI's anthem?


        (I too will remember and adapt as necessary Paul's uro-analogy.)

        JE comments:  Have the Brexit proponents revived slogans from the Great War?  This is my understanding of the "Jam and Jerusalem" reference.  Can John Heelan elaborate?  I have long argued that WWI set the cultural and political tone of the 100 years that followed.  Is my sweeping claim over the top?

        But John:  did the UK public have trust in its politicians before the Brexit referendum?

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        • Trust in Politicians: UK (Robert Whealey, USA 06/20/16 10:19 AM)
          In response to John Heelan (19 June), in 1913 the public in the UK had much trust in one of the three parties--Conservative, Labour, Liberal. World War I is the great catastrophe from which the UK, US, France, Germany, Austria, and Russia have still not yet recovered. From 1919 to 1938, trust in the three parties in the UK declined. The Liberals were the first to die (George Dangerfield).

          Churchill slowly revived trust in the Conservatives from 1938 to 1945. Trust in the Conservative party suddenly collapsed in July 1945, because of the many resentments people had built up in UK since 1935.

          Today the British public has little trust in their parties. But Americans with little history are the most confused people among all the great powers about the problem of politicians.

          JE comments:  We're still living the political and cultural legacies of WWI, but I'd say most if not all of the major combatants have "recovered."  I can confidently say the US has.

          Out of curiosity I Googled "Countries where politicians are most trusted," and this Guardian piece came up.  Using 2012 data, "government" was trusted most in (gulp) China, Singapore, and the UAE.  Government and politicians are not exactly the same thing, and I'm not sure what to make of this.  That people prefer autocracy?  Or when there are no meaningful political choices, do citizens just grin and bear it?


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    • What About UK Pensioners in Other EU Nations? (Bienvenido Macario, USA 06/19/16 7:23 AM)
      Right now, an estimated two million British pensioners are living abroad in EU nations, where the cost of living is such that their monthly pension goes a long way further than if they retired in the UK. This is why it will take at least two years before a full UK exit could be completed.

      Where in the UK will these 2 million retirees live? With interest rates at rock-bottom levels, how could these pensioners even afford the high cost of living in the UK?

      Unless we are now seeing the rise of British Isolationism, once the monopoly of the US, the issues the Brexiters have raised are no longer valid after David Cameron successfully lobbied for a Reformed EU on February 19, 2016.

      The most important concession of all is that the UK could pull out of the EU at any time, unilaterally. The agreed reforms or changes were fashioned to be legally binding in international law, and will be deposited at the UN. No EU member state could revise any of the reforms without the unanimous agreement of every EU country, including the UK.

      So why quit now when you could give the EU one last chance and if it still doesn't work, the UK could unilaterally quit, with a clear conscience?

      If Brexit is wrong, how do you correct this mistake? Rejoin the EU? Will they let the UK rejoin the EU?

      But if staying in the EU is wrong, the UK could always leave, Brexit any time and unilaterally. Brexit is bad for the UK if it leaves without even trying life in a reformed EU.

      Without the UK, Germany and France will have great difficulty making the EU work. Unscrupulous governments of the EU have always used the Nazi-Hitler card when called to make good on their commitments. This is why the UK is indispensable to the EU's success.

      JE comments:  That the UK can unilaterally leave the Union is precisely the point of Thursday's referendum...right?  Bienvenido Macario's other point is worth further discussion:  how would a Brexit make life more difficult for British expats in Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere?  I anticipate no expulsions, but there would be new legal and financial obstacles, as well a possible backlash from the general population of the host nations.

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      • UK Expats and Possible Brexit (Angel Vinas, Belgium 06/19/16 10:27 AM)
        In response to Bienvenido Macario (19 April), issues concerning UK expats living in the EU would have to be addressed in the negotiations for delinking the UK from the EU.

        The concessions negotiated with Cameron were accepted on the understanding that the referendum would take place according to the UK legislation on the date stated. The Lisbon Treaty acknowledges that any member state may hand in a request for separation at any time. In such cases Art. 50 would apply. This would also happen with the UK.

        Needless to say, Art. 50 was designed in such a way as to deter any member state from having recourse to it. Should the UK opt out for the delinking, the framework for negotiations is likely to be set up in such a way that no danger of contamination arises. The British Government is well aware of this and has publicly stated this presumption. In my humble understanding, they wouldn´t be disappointed.

        However, let´s hope that the delinking doesn´t take place.

        JE comments:  By "contamination," does Ángel Viñas mean contagion, a "Brexit Domino Effect" of sorts?

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        • UK Expats and Brexit Vote (Paul Preston, UK 06/20/16 5:19 AM)
          Another element of PM Cameron's irresponsibility was not to give these British citizens who live abroad the vote in the Brexit referendum.

          JE comments: How was this denial justified--or do UK citizens abroad never get the franchise?  Wouldn't Cameron, who has staked his political career on Brimain, benefit from the expat vote, which would presumably lean against Brexit?

          I need a lesson in British Civics.

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      • David Cameron and EU Reform; "Jam and Jerusalem" (John Heelan, UK 06/20/16 4:45 AM)
        Bienvenido Macario wrote on 19 June: "David Cameron successfully lobbied for a Reformed EU on February 19, 2016."

        Please forgive me for guffawing!

        The House of Commons research paper "Looking at the new Settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union agreed at the European Council on 17-19 February 2016," suggests a different interpretation:


        "But even if the Decision binds the parties under international law, it does not bind the EU institutions, and is not necessarily legally enforceable under either EU or domestic law.

        "It could be problematic if either the Court of Justice of the EU or a domestic court found an inconsistency between the Decision and the EU Treaties.

        "The Decision probably cannot be reversed without the consent of the UK. But it cannot guarantee all of the outcomes envisaged in it. This is because some depend on factors outside the control of the parties to the Decision, such as national referendums on Treaty change."

        Then there is the problem of gaining agreement of the other Member States. If one plays with the EU's Voting Calculator (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/council-eu/voting-system/voting-calculator/ ), one finds that if the Member States that are net beneficiaries vote against a change, that change is rejected irrespective of whether the UK votes for the change and if France and Germany also vote against the change or abstain.

        A Brexit would means less funds available to be distributed to the net-beneficiary Member States, with a greater burden being placed on the contributor Member States. As our US cousins say "Turkeys don't vote for Christmas."

        On "Jam and Jerusalem," this refers to the a nostalgic description of the UK-wide Womens Institute movement that symbolises a village-style patriotic England of yesteryear (we have three WIs in our village alone).

        Finally, John E asked if the UK electorate trusted its politicians before the Brexit referendum. I remember reading a survey that placed their reliability for truth below that of real estate agents and second-hand car salesmen.


        JE comments: The last time I bought a used car, I actually (sort of) trusted the guy who sold it to me.  The "veracity index" at the link immediately above is very entertaining.  I'm pleased by how we teachers are the second most trusted, trailing only physicians.  Ranked at #5 in the UK:  hairdressers.

        Returning to the EU reforms of February, John Heelan argues that they are mostly toothless concessions.  Am I correct that the common UK perception is that the Member States who feed at the EU trough are quite happy with the status quo?  They would be, wouldn't they?

        So this is the week.  Brexit...or (as Sartre might say) No Brexit?

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        • PM Cameron Compared to Chamberlain (John Heelan, UK 06/21/16 5:30 AM)
          "Brexit...or (as Sartre might say) No Brexit?" (Or was it Hamlet?)

          As to respect for politicians in the UK, Brexit media is chortling about Cameron having a rough time in a live Q&A session on TV Sunday night. At one time he suffered ironic laughter and jeers while being compared to Neville Chamberlain. (Huffington takes a bit more balanced view)


          It is perhaps a mark of the waning respect for UK politicians that a serving PM can get so treated in public.

          JE comments:  Being called the "C-word" (Chamberlain) is as harsh as it gets in British politics.  Given Sir Neville's crime (submitting to Hitler), could we consider this a variation of Godwin's Law--the Chamberlain Corollary?

          To complete the analogy, who is the Hitler here?  Merkel?  The faceless bureaucracy in Brussels?

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          • Would Bremain "Correct" the Treaty of Versailles? (Bienvenido Macario, USA 06/22/16 10:20 AM)
            I look at the still-to-be implemented reforms of the EU as amendments to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which failed to prevent WWII. The onerous Treaty of Versailles was the principal cause of the rise of Hitler and the start of WWII.

            Let us say there is a Brexit, the EU collapsed and the new UK finds Scottish nationalists reviving the secessionist movement. Where is the danger? Don't you think this scenario would be the best opportunity for Putin to revive the USSR, with a new "Berlin Wall" in Ukraine? Putin could always cite Napoleon's and Hitler's invasions of Russia. Putin could pretend to be paranoid and preempt the West at its weakest moment.

            So for once, Putin could be a very useful incentive to make the EU work.

            JE comments:  Didn't World War II "correct" the errors of Versailles?  (Goodness, I've been cranky of late with my comments!)

            I wonder how many UK voters will let Putin sway their vote tomorrow.  Probably very few--immigration and the economy are the main issues.  Moreover, the referendum is not about NATO, but the EU.

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          • Cameron and Chamberlain (John Heelan, UK 06/22/16 10:43 AM)
            JE asked on 21 June: "Who is the Hitler [in the Cameron-Chamberlain analogy]? Merkel? The faceless bureaucracy in Brussels?"

            The British stiff upper-lipped version of "pundonor" is offended by the reflected shame of one of its leaders being exposed to the world's gaze as having been conned into believing promises that are unlikely ever to be fulfilled. Popular belief is that Cameron's "Concessions I have won from the EU" falls into the same category as Chamberlain's "Peace in our time."

            JE comments: Fool me twice, shame on...me

            Well, WAIS friends, this is the final evening before the Brexit vote.  Any eleventh-hour thoughts?

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            • Brexit Vote: A Prediction (Timothy Ashby, Spain 06/22/16 4:22 PM)
              I predict that the Remains (of the Day?) will win narrowly. Boris Johnson will bounce back, but Osborne (he is intensely disliked by his peers) will never succeed Cameron as leader. Bets are on Theresa May in that regard.

              Rosemary and I will watch the Referendum returns tomorrow night from from the Carlton Club--the Tory gentlemen's club on St. James's St. (I am a member!)

              JE comments: I'll second Tim Ashby's prediction, although I'll be getting the news in a much more plebeian fashion. Probably on WAISworld's MacBook One, via a Google search.

              Tim:  if it's not considered bad taste, I'd love a report on the Vote Night atmosphere at the Carlton.  Presumably it will be a house divided.

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              • Referendum Day (Nigel Jones, UK 06/23/16 2:50 AM)
                Well, the big day is here at last, and in a few hours we will know whether Britain's people have bravely voted to defy the mass groupthink of Establishment elite bullying, or have chosen to opt for freedom and democracy by leaving the corrupt and collapsing European Union.

                Personally I have taken an active part in the campaign with speeches and debates, and pro-Leave articles in the Telegraph newspaper.

                Now that it is over, here are my thoughts and forecasts. It has been an extraordinary vituperative campaign, which has split the ruling so-called Conservative party down the middle. The amount of venom spat by our despicable Prime Minister David Cameron in particular has been amazing. It is difficult to see him lasting long even if he wins. If he loses, I think he will have to resign at once.

                And it looks distinctly possible that he will lose. The eve of poll opinion polls are neck and neck, and much will depend on turnout and factors like the British weather! It looks rainy, which may discourage younger voters and hence help the Leave side. Sadly there may also be electoral fraud, with forging of postal votes by the Remain campaign.

                On the Remain side are ranged the Establishment, big business and finance, all main political parties (though the Tories are evenly split); and half the media, especially the BBC. So it should be an easy win for them. But it won't be.

                Because we Brits are in the grip of one of those rare moments when we rebel against our rulers and give the collective national finger to them. The white working class in particular, sick and tired of mass migration, are overwhelmingly for Leave. Ditto the older population who remember how it was when Britain was proud, free and governed itself.

                Whichever way the vote goes, it will not be the end of the story. The European Union is so fundamentally flawed that it cannot endure. Detested by increasing numbers of its own people, not just in Britain, it is doomed. I hope today's vote will haste that deserved demise.

                JE comments:  Great to hear from Nigel Jones, who has been arguing for Brexit since long before the word even existed.  The UK polls close at 10 PM, which translates as 5 PM US Eastern, 2 Pacific.  Before that time, there will be no projections.  It is possible we won't know the result until early tomorrow morning.

                Watch this space--but not quite yet.  In the meantime, UK WAISers, get out and vote.

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                • Report from the Polls: Isle of Wight (John Heelan, UK 06/23/16 4:09 AM)
                  Nigel Jones (23 June) makes a good point, in that some analyses of the potential Referendum vote suggest that 18-24 year range will vote heavily for Remain while the 65+ range will vote for Brexit. Moreover, the older demographic is more likely to vote.

                  Living in "God's Waiting Room" as the cynics call our village, I have not found any person of my age group preaching the Remain mantras. There was a queue of 65+ people at my local polling station this morning waiting to vote. UK currency and stock markets are surging at the moment, fuelled by the neck-and-neck polls and bookies' odds, despite the news that the eurozone continues to fail--bad news for the EU Commission and the IMF. (See http://www.wsj.com/articles/france-slows-eurozone-economic-rebound-amid-brexit-uncertainty-1466673092 ).

                  This is despite the Goldman Sachs man at the top of the European Central Bank is printing money so that the finance industry can buy corporate bonds to inject some investment in a failing market.

                  JE comments:  If the UK markets are surging, doesn't this suggest a confidence that Remain will carry the day?  Markets hate many things, but uncertainty tops the list.


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                  • Brexit Wins; Cameron Resigns (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/24/16 4:07 AM)
                    Congratulations to Nigel Jones, to England and to all the peoples of Europe. From now on Europe shall be properly reformed.

                    JE comments: This is the most significant morning news we've had in years, and very few saw it coming. Even WAISdom's Brexit proponent Nigel Jones (congrats to you, Nigel) went on record only that a Brexit victory was a "distinct possibility."

                    The British pound has tanked 8% against the US dollar, and markets worldwide are having a very bloody day. My "dog in the Brexit fight" was like that of most Americans--the retirement portfolio. This morning's result just added another couple of years to my teaching career!

                    Might the outgoing Mr Cameron have been right about one thing: a Brexit victory would cause an "diy recession"?  Ladies and gentlemen, get out your toolboxes; it's home improvement time.

                    So will Boris Johnson take over the Tories? Who would have thought it possible, even 24 hours ago?

                    One final question, what of UKIP?  Now that its goal has been realized, what next?

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                    • Thoughts on Brexit Victory (John Heelan, UK 06/24/16 7:19 AM)
                      What has been encouraging about the Brexit Referendum has been the record turnout of voters (74%), far better than previous general and other elections.

                      PM Cameron has bought himself some time with his postponed resignation. The catfight among those seeking to replace him has already started. My betting is on Theresa May who, controlling the Intelligence Services, Police and Fire Services, knows where all the political bodies are buried. Despite the bookies' odds, I do not think that Boris Johnson will replace Cameron. His Trumpish buffoonish persona does not give him enough gravitas.

                      In the Opposition ranks, I suspect Corbyn's role has a limited shelf life, owing to his not delivering the Remain verdict that his funding trades unions demanded. Blair is hovering at the edges, perhaps hoping to replace Corbyn with his New Labour acolyte, David Milliband. The LiDems are still licking their wounds and trying to rebuild their party--2020 might come too soon for them. UKIP's Farage, if he survives a possible palace coup, could go one of two ways. His one-policy party might disappear from sight now that the UK electorate has shot his EU fox (politics is a cruel game), or he could use his charisma (of which there is a dearth in today's UK politicians) and EU success to build a different ultra-right-wing populist party, perhaps linking with other nationalist parties in the EU seeking their own Brexits.

                      By the way, the "tanking" of the GBP/USD rate (and soon the Stock Market) is a direct result of the market's reliance on a poll yesterday that predicted a Remain win. As a result the FX and stock market soared. A more canny trader remarked, "The higher it climbs the further it will drop if Brexit wins!" Greedy traders exacerbated their problem by delaying taking their day's trading profits for as long as possible and are now scrabbling furiously to make up for lost time by having a fire sale.

                      We live in interesting times.

                      JE comments: The fire sale is on!  For the very strong of stomach, there are bargains out there.

                      A parallel thought:  Imagine an Anglosphere, one year from now, controlled by the Twin Coiffures of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump.  Yesterday this was an impossibility.  Now we are about 33% there.

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                      • The Day After: Who Will Replace Cameron? (Nigel Jones, UK 06/24/16 1:21 PM)
                        John Heelan (24 June) is quite wrong about who will succeed Cameron. I will wager John any sum he cares to name that Boris Johnson will replace his old Etonian, old Oxonian rival as Prime Minister by October 1. John's suggested successor Theresa May is a non -starter. She is a coward who did not dare back what turned out to be the winning side. She is ill and tired and has zilch public appeal.

                        Boris's more likely rival, Michael Gove, a fellow outer, also has limited public appeal.

                        Boris, despite or because of being a serial womaniser, has charisma, even though I believe his late conversion to the Leave cause was insincere and fuelled by ambition. It took guts to gamble on what looked like a losing cause, but it has paid off and Boris will be PM.

                        On a personal note, I have soft spots for both Boris and Gove. Not only because they will be replacing the despicable David Cameron and George Osborne, but also because when editors at The Times (Gove); and Spectator (Boris) they took articles from me purely on the strength of me cold-calling them! They take risks and that is a sign of courage.

                        On the referendum itself, I can hardly believe that Britain's angry and shat-upon underclass have had the testicular fortitude to ignore the bullying of their rulers and fire the first bullet into the bloated and decaying body of the EU. Other nations will surely follow us out and within a decade the EU will just consist of Germany and a couple of her hangers-on.

                        For the third time in 100 years it has fallen to Britain to thwart the Reich's dreams of European hegemony. It is a sunny day here on our first independence day.

                        JE comments:  Once again, my congratulations to Nigel Jones on this red-letter day.  For those of us who fund their own retirements, alas, it's been a red-ink day.

                        What nation, if any, is next to go?  Many fingers point to the Netherlands--Nexit.  Spain will likely stay, so expect no Sexit.

                        Brexit will present 1001 details to work through, but one thought for now:  Will the status of English take a hit in Europe's institutions, especially in Brussels?  Shouldn't German stand to gain ground as the Continent's language?

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                        • Brexit Debate and Language (Angel Vinas, Belgium 06/29/16 4:48 AM)
                          I would like to add my voice to David W. Pike´s regarding the language used by Nigel Jones and the adjectives applied to some British politicians who happen to disagree with his views.

                          The choice of words is never innocent. I may use foreign words in an improper way for which I am always ready to beg for my readers´ understanding. However, I know how to use my own language, which is Spanish. I am not too familiar with the language now used in Spain in political confrontations. Perhaps it is in some fora like Nigel´s but I´m not aware of that in the chats or social media I´m used to.

                          With apologies to other colleagues and John Eipper in particular, I think that Nigel Jones´ language is utterly improper for this chat.

                          JE comments:  Nigel Jones never pulls punches, especially with adjectives--the "despicable" and "slippery liar" David Cameron, as recent examples.  The UK journalistic tradition enjoys a spirited brawl more than in the US.  Presumably this applies to the European Continent as well.

                          As for my role as moderator, I always cringe when one of my beloved WAISers says something critical of another.  In ten years my skin has thickened somewhat.  Give me another decade.

                          It just so happens that the next post is from Nigel Jones, with a response for Ángel Viñas on Scotland.

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                          • Brexit Debate, Language, a Gala...and Putin (David Pike, France 06/30/16 5:39 AM)
                            In my WAIS post of June 24, I wrote that Nigel Jones had lost none of his vindictiveness. This term was censored by our Editor, who replaced it with "none of his combative spirit." I admire combative spirit, as anyone who knows me would agree, no less than I deplore the vindictive language of Nigel Jones. "Despicable" is the term he favors for those he disagrees with. "Venality and cynicism" is the term used today in the New York Times in response to the backtracking of Johnson and his allies.

                            Johnson complains that Cameron should have taken the time to prepare a Plan B in the event he lost, a plan that would have been helpful to Brexit in easing the pain of transition. In the same way that Churchill in 1940 should have had a Plan B to ease the pain of transition in the event that the UK lost the Battle of Britain.

                            Nigel Jones wrote (June 24) that "it has fallen to Britain to thwart the Reich's dreams of European hegemony. It is a sunny day here on our first independence day." If ever a phrase was fatuous, it's "UK independence day." I look forward to June 23, 2017 to know what it will look like. As for the "Reich's dreams of hegemony," what kind of term is "the Reich," and what idea could be wider of the mark? Does Nigel Jones think that Brexit reduces the power and influence of Germany?

                            On a lighter vein, or maybe on a heavier vein. Last week the Press Association in Paris had its annual gala at the American Embassy. The British and American Ambassadors are co-presidents of the Association ("whether you like it or not," as one American president of the club once put it to an American ambassador). The presidency of the Association rotates, from British Commonwealth to American, and the galas rotate similarly, from one embassy to the other. These happen to be next door to one another, on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, which makes things easier.

                            Each year both ambassadors take part, and each speaks. The new American Ambassador Jane Hartley was joined by the new British Ambassador Sir Julian King. In the speeches, vagaries were the order of the night. These were forgivable, but less so the length of Sir Julian's address. He was speaking in her house, and his antennae failed to warn him that he was speaking longer than she had spoken. That was poor manners, but what followed on French Television Channel 2 was humiliation. Sir Julian was invited to speak on Brexit, alone in a panel with Daniel Cohn-Bendit and hosted by Laurent Delahousse. Lady King, were she Calpurnia, would have warned Sir Julian, "Don't go. These two are heavyweights." Sir Julian spoke first, and long, of the need for calm, and calm was all he could suggest. Would anyone who witnessed what followed deny that this was no fair fight, that Delahousse plays in another league, belongs to a higher intellectual class? As for Cohn-Bendit, the look on Sir Julian's face told it all. How much he wished he were anywhere else than here, up against the unbridled force of Danny the Red, no longer red, and probably the first that night to express the consummate truth: "And now, let's turn to the happiest man in the whole wide world: Vladimir Putin."

                            JE comments: If there's a possibility that a post can be construed as an ad hominem attack against a fellow WAISer, I err on the side of caution.  I hope this is not interpreted as censorship.

                            I agree with David Pike that Brexit will probably only increase Germany's power within the rump EU.  The French, above all, must be nervous about this.  And yes:  these internecine Eurosquabbles must be very pleasing to Mr Putin.

                            Next up:  Ángel Viñas.

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                    • Brexit Vote by Age and Region (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 06/24/16 8:25 AM)
                      I am sorry that Brexit succeeded yesterday. As for the objective economic impact that is being felt already, in the long term I do not believe the result is good for Great Britain or the EU.

                      However the result would have no immediate effect, except for the currency and global stock markets, because the real process of separation will stretch out for two or more years.

                      The real concerns are the political consequences that will be perceived soon. The EU will be weakened, populist Europhobic and nationalist parties will be strengthened, probably Scotland and other regions in Great Britain would feel motivated to insist on independence; and a likely domino effect is expected in Holland; thousands of European citizens living in GB or British living in the EU are now concerned about their future. In short, instead of bridges between societies, walls have been raised.

                      Anyway, the results are there and I believe a very interesting aspect is worth mentioning: Brexit has been decided by grandfathers and grandmothers, despite their grandchildren's desires and expectations. In other words, the old generations have mortgaged for a short margin the future of the youngsters.

                      This was not a surprise. The voting distribution shows the following facts:


                      Age Group

                      Age Avg



                      Average number of years they
                      have to live with the decision (life expectancy)






















                      It is also interesting to mention that Remain was successful in most of the major cities, particularly London, Leeds, Glasgow, Liverpool and some others, and importantly in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Only in England and Wales did Brexit win.

                      I would like to think in a positive way that this outcome will be a chance to strengthen the EU. Maybe it is only a wishful thinking?

                      JE comments:  José Ignacio Soler (like Yours Truly) was certain that Remain would prevail.  The demography of the vote is very telling, with a direct correlation between age and support for Brexit.

                      It is a day of many questions, but here's one at the top of my list:  whither Scotland?

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                      • Brexit and Russia (Tor Guimaraes, USA 06/26/16 8:54 AM)
                        Mr Putin must have a wide smile on his face with the Brexit vote.

                        While we all know the proponents of Brexit have some good reasons to be negative about the EU, I can't help but be sad about the departure. My two biggest concerns are, first, the potential domino effect where stupid nationalism takes over and the EU experiment falls apart, reverting to the good old days of military confrontations rather than political/diplomatic conflict.

                        The second is a corollary, where global corporations would find much easier to manipulate individual national governments than a unified EU. As a possible hypothesis, younger people seem to have a better understanding of these hidden forces at work worldwide today. The older generations like to live in the good old days when you could trust (God forbid) your local/national politicians a little more.

                        The day after the vote I had some questions for the wise of WAISdom: What will happen to NATO if the EU falls apart? Assuming NATO dies or weakens, how can Russia benefit? Because that is where Putin will go and we better get ready. I have a feeling the US military-industrial complex is also smiling broadly about Brexit.

                        Today the probability of a EU breakdown seems to increasing. Some people whose opinions I respect agree in general that the EU is headed for further uncertainty and political risk regarding the survival of the EU experiment. Brexit is likely to awaken other anti-European forces within the Union.

                        According to my sources, political opposition to the EU idea in general and to specific issues, is already intensifying efforts toward further European dis-integration. A few cited examples are parties in the Netherlands and Austria, which are considering their own referenda. The German government was bracing itself for the possibility of at least 5 more countries including Italy, where the populist Five Star Movement may rise to power.

                        To EU sympathizers, there is some hope that the next two years will provide ample time for a potential redesign of the EU which eliminates the more controversial issues and enhances the benefits from union.

                        For the EU disintegrators, I still have two questions: What will happen to NATO if the EU falls apart? Assuming NATO dies or weakens, how do we relate to Russia?

                        JE comments: Tor Guimaraes echoes two questions raised earlier today: whither NATO? And what about the Russia factor?

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                        • Brexit and Russia, Falklands/Malvinas (John Heelan, UK 06/27/16 5:49 AM)
                          Tor Guimaraes (26 June) raises good points. Brexit could be contagious in other dissatisfied member states. As a result, I expect the EU to accelerate the UK's exit via Art. 50 to limit that contagion. It could happen as soon as next week at the Council of Ministers.

                          Tor's corollary that "global corporations would find it much easier to manipulate individual national governments than a unified EU" is more doubtful. It is likely that those big corporations can bribe the smaller, more financially stretched member states in a variety of ways, ranging from promises of direct investment to lucrative short-term trade deals (as well as the traditional contents of brown envelopes).

                          I suspect that NATO will survive if the EU eventually collapses. It is too important to the US (especially its military-industrial complex) for its geostrategic defence against other emerging superpowers (Russia, China and maybe the Indian sub-continent). Hence my prediction of a US push to include Israel, Turkey and Egypt to the NATO umbrella.

                          Regarding John E's observation on the Falklands and fishing rights, perhaps the English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish fishing industries can recover the ground they lost over the last years due to EU regulations that allow overfishing of traditional UK fishing grounds by EU member states.

                          JE comments:  Will the Royal Navy begin to patrol these fishing grounds, to evict EU poachers?  This could lead to conflict.  Remember the Cod Wars between UK and Iceland?  (Today there will be a rematch, but on the soccer field.)

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                    • Thoughts on Brexit Victory, Boris Johnson (Massoud Malek, USA 06/25/16 4:29 AM)
                      The European Economic Community (EEC) was created in 1957 with six members: Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg (BENELUX), France, Italy, and West Germany.

                      In 1961, General de Gaulle saw British membership as a Trojan horse for US influence and vetoed its membership. I remember well that until the end of his presidency, he accused Britain of a "deep-seated hostility" towards European construction and warned France's five partners that if they tried to impose British membership on France, it would result in the break-up of the community.

                      On June 23, 2016, British voters ignored President Obama's advice and decided to free themselves from the chain of a corrupt European Union. Unlike the EEC, this artificial union mixed the original members, with Britain and 21 other countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal, and Romania.

                      Unlike the fifty states of the United States of America, these 28 countries don't have anything in common. Citizens of Germany, and a few other rich countries were, are and will be forced to bail out some of these bankrupt countries of the union.

                      The European Union is as artificial as if Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia would become a union with common monetary unit and common laws governing them.

                      I congratulate our colleague Nigel Jones, but I don't think the out-of-touch racist and homophobic Boris Johnson, who calls Ugandans "piccaninnies with watermelon smiles" and gay men as "tank-topped bumboys," would be a good choice to run the country.

                      PS: The piccaninny stereotype was the common way that White Americans pictured little black children in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

                      JE comments:  Piccaninny (Wikipedia prefers "pickaninny") is from the Portuguese pequenino.  I always thought it was from the Spanish pequeño, but the Portuguese etymology makes more sense.  Either way, this is not the language of a statesman.

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                    • Brexit and the Economy; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 06/25/16 4:53 AM)
                      Ric Mauricio writes:

                      Oh, I was wrong on Brexit; I guess I could blame the bookies, but no, I take full responsibility for my prediction.

                      But fortunately, in the week preceding the vote, it appeared I was correct and on the winning side. The day before the vote, though, I decided that the rule that one can be a bear or a bull in the market, but never be a pig, must apply, so I closed out the speculative position. Granted, I was also following another rule: risk management. The rule is that you don't risk more than you can bear to lose. For example, if you cannot bear to lose more than 3% of your investments, then you should not speculate with more than 3% of your investment. In other words, never, ever bet the whole farm.

                      Another investment rule is diversification. Now this does not mean that one buys 200 different companies and feel that they are diversified. You see, even if you are diversified against one company in the portfolio melting down, you are not diversified if the entire market goes down, the so-called systemic risk. One needs to diversify among asset classes. Asset classes are categories of investments that do not correlate with other asset classes. Different asset classes could be stocks (US or international, the entire global stock market is tied closely to each other now; not so much in the past, which is what your friendly financial advisor tells you); real estate; commodities (which includes natural resources and precious metals); fixed income and currencies.

                      So here I am, glancing at the markets now and then, watching the news pundits describing the "plummeting" markets ... oh, the sky is falling. It's going to get worst. Pity the poor Brits. Sorry, but a 3% drop is not a plummet. And the Brits will carry on. Hey, they survived the Blitzkrieg. But then, as the markets closed, I took it upon myself to take a look at my portfolio to assess the damage. And I was shocked. My stocks went down, but my real estate investments went up and my fixed income stayed the same. My calculation is that I lost .29%. Yes, that's less than a third of one percent. Woohoo! Not only can I buy more investments on sale, but I can go to Europe for 2.41% less; the UK for 8.76% less, or Mexico for 3.78% less. Much the same for other countries except for Japan, which will cost me 3.72% more.

                      USD vs CUP (Cuban peso) $US 1 = 26.50 Cuban pesos and it rarely changes. Does that mean the Cuban peso is pegged to the US dollar? As for retirement plans, diversify and you will SWAN (Sleep Well at Night).

                      JE comments: Ric Mauricio is famous for his great financial advice, and his excellent acronyms.  No ugly ducklings here; embrace the SWAN!

                      Thanks, Ric.  You bring serenity to the Forum, and to my portfolio.

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                    • Thoughts on a Post-Brexit EU: Politics and Security (Luciano Dondero, Italy 06/25/16 6:49 AM)
                      Brexit could be an opportunity for Europe, and for the European Union.

                      Unfortunately, it would require the kind of bold leadership which seems to be lacking.

                      If such leaders existed, what could they do at this point?

                      First of all, establish a firm core nucleus of countries intent on pursuing the job of creating a real and effective "Union," something a bit more like the United States of America, that is a "United States of Europe," possibly starting by taking a few steps forward.

                      Like, for one, offering any country which is doubtful about their membership in a new, stronger and more cohesive Union, a chance to leave now, in the footsteps of Britain.

                      Then, establishing a few European-wide institutions with real teeth, beginning a European anti-corruption investigative body with its own European "FBI," also in charge of anti-terrorism and all the other things that various American Federal agencies are involved in, like the ATF, the Secret Service (money counterfeiting), and so on.

                      Take a number of steps toward joining into one single European Army all the national armies of the EU members states. This is obviously complicated by France being the only remaining nuclear power in the EU at this stage. It's hard to see how they would let any decision involving their nuclear subs be adopted by non-French commanders. Nonetheless, either the EU/Europe move forward or else, the only other alternative being that of imploding sooner rather than later.

                      A number of political statements would have to be issued.  First of all, asserting the renewed intention of strengthening the EU, and moving toward a real "US/E," inviting other European countries to join in--I'm thinking of Switzerland, but also of Russia--and possibly extending this invitation to other neighbouring countries as well, like Israel and Egypt--and leaving the doors open for Britain to reconsider in a few years' time.

                      Then, a simple but extremely difficult (and bold) statement to the effect that while the alliance with the US is strategic and not negotiable--in other words, you can't be in the EU with a mind to changing that kind of alliance--at the same time the US leadership is not infallible, certainly it did err in the past and possibly in the future could do the same. The EU leadership is not bound to have to agree with the US on every single step or comma or whatever.

                      For instance, EU/Europe does not have to bow to the Arab/Muslim oil cabal--a few countries did already develop quite a significant nuclear power industry of their own and we don't have to follow the US in preparing some kind of capitulation to Islamism under the guise of "cultural pluralism," "political correctness" and other such silly notions.

                      However, these or similar kind of steps, which might sound like a "Putin strategy," are not a plot to get closer to Russia, and subordinate EU/Europe to it--on the contrary, they should move us in the opposite direction, namely, getting Russia to integrate itself with the rest of the continent toward a more powerful and peaceful Europe. Not to mention, more democratic and respectful of individual and collective rights than it has been so far.

                      For countries like the former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe, it should be obvious that the only way to handle Russia is to incorporate it into a pan-European project and not pursue absurd and "quasi-1950s" ideas of building an Iron curtain between a US-prone Europe and Russia.

                      If NATO is not be be dissolved, there should be a renegotiation on how it could function, if and when a EU Armed Forces cooperate with the US military on a basis of parity, and not, as it is now, with dozens of individual Forces all de facto subordinated to the US.

                      Would anybody in Brussels, Berlin, Paris or Rome dare?

                      JE comments:  Yes, this would be a bold re-think.  Brussels right now is licking its wounds, and will probably err on the timid side for the short term.

                      Luciano Dondero brings up the Putin factor.  He (Vladimir Vladimirovich) probably sees Brexit as an opportunity to win greater influence on the Continent.  Will the "rump" EU be as likely to stand up to Russia?  I would think not.  Will it even embrace Russia, as part of an eastward "pivot" away from the Anglo world?

                      I never realized this before, but France is now the only nuclear-armed EU nation.

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                      • Post-Brexit EU (John Heelan, UK 06/26/16 5:53 AM)
                        Luciano Dondero (25 June) raises some interesting speculations about the shape of a post-Brexit EU.

                        Already there is a proposed meeting between the leaders of Germany, Italy, France and the EU President (well one of the three). Some will recall that the last time such a thing happened (pre-EU and pre-Vichy France), the Axis was formed. However, in his thoughts, Luciano appears to have missed out the necessary rescue of the economically failing eurozone. For some years the US has been arguing to bring its Middle East vanguard, Israel, under the umbrella of NATO. To do so with Egypt and Turkey would strengthen the United States' geopolitical position in the Middle East. Maybe the cost of rescuing the eurozone could be the clinching argument for the expansion of NATO and the signing of TTIP.

                        JE comments: John Heelan turns our attention to NATO, and I hope we can continue on this topic.  Before June 23rd, the status quo was more or less the idea that NATO was the same thing as the EU with the addition of the US (and Canada--and, well, Turkey). Now the balance has changed, but how?

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                        • Post-Brexit EU; Thoughts on the Axis (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/27/16 6:18 AM)
                          I believe that John Heelan, 26 June, may have some good ideas to further strengthen the geopolitical position of the Empire by enlarging NATO to include Israel and Egypt (unfortunately Turkey is already in) plus signing the TTIP.

                          But that would be the strengthening only of the Empire of the big corporations and banksters with the complete enslavement of the European peoples with a speedy marching, head on, toward wars including WWIII.

                          Probably John when speaking about Turkey means the entrance of Erdogan's nation into the EU. This will mean the end of what remains of the European Greco-Roman-Christian civilization.

                          Furthermore, regarding the meeting of the leaders of Germany, Italy and France, I do not understand John's comment, "some will recall that the last time such a thing happened (pre-EU and pre-Vichy France) the Axis was formed."

                          Frankly I do not know of such a meeting, Mussolini met Laval in Rome in January 1935 but then France on 4 June 1936 had an antifascist government with Leon Blum. Italy signed the Axis in October 1936 (many understand this as a reaction to the hostile policy of Blum and the "misunderstandings" with British FM Anthony Eden). When presenting the accord Mussolini said: "The vertical Berlin-Roma is... an Axis around which all European States, animated by the will of cooperation and peace, can collaborate." The poor deluded guy was still hoping for the "Spirit of Stresa," April 1935, involving Italy, France and the UK.

                          Finally, beside the fact that NATO is obsolete as it was theoretically conceived as a defensive pact of democracies against the adventurism of USSR Imperialism, Egypt and Israel do not seem to be genuine democratic states.  Well, maybe Israel (leader Netanyahu) can be considered a democracy Apartheid-style, just something worse than the one envisaged by Pieter Willem Botha.

                          JE comments:  The word "Axis" was a Mussolini invention.  Of course, in the Allied world it quickly took on the meaning of a cabal of nefarious states, which is largely the meaning it has today (Axis of Evil).

                          But don't forget Jimi Hendrix's "Axis:  Bold as Love."

                          To my mind, enlarging NATO to include Israel and Egypt would only complicate matters.  How reliable an ally to the "Empire" is Egypt, in any case?

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                          • Post-Brexit: NATO, Israel, Egypt, and...Iceland (John Heelan, UK 06/28/16 6:06 AM)
                            For Eugenio Battaglia's clarification (27 June), could I just repeat my earlier comment on June 25 that "For some years the US has been arguing to bring its Middle East vanguard, Israel, under the umbrella of NATO. To do so with Egypt and Turkey would strengthen the US' geopolitical position in the Middle East." Further, having Turkey join the EU would allow NATO to place its missiles and Early Warning System radars on Turkish soil. (Of course, as with the UK during the Cold War, it would make Turkey a candidate for first-strike attacks in a nuclear interchange.)

                            So I was suggesting my interpretation of a probable US geopolitical defence strategy, not recommending it.

                            JE reminded us of the Cod Wars between UK and Iceland, and of the "rematch" that was held on the soccer field yesterday. There has been a petition lodged on a parliamentary website to rerun the Brexit referendum signed by apparently some 3 million people. There is another one asking that should England lose to Iceland, that the match be replayed. As there are some 13 million soccer fans in the UK, the second initiative might have a better chance of success of being launched without challenging the concept of democracy--only the rules of international soccer competitions.

                            JE comments: John Heelan sent this comment before yesterday's match, which handed England its second "Brexit" in less than a week. Who could have imagined tiny Iceland defeating the land that invented football?

                            I'd also like to congratulate Chile for its win over Argentina in the Copa América.

                            For sports and politics, this is the year in which odds and common sense go out the window.  So who will win the World Series this year?  The Chicago Cubs, of course.

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                            • Iceland Defeats England (John Heelan, UK 06/28/16 10:49 AM)
                              Iceland fully deserved to beat England yesterday. The England team was lacklustre and appeared unable to outflank the Icelandic defence. The England national coach resigned after the game--soccer management is even more cruel that politics.

                              JE comments: In these United States, humiliated coaches (and politicians) always wait to be fired (or recalled/impeached).  I admire the British way of falling on your sword.  It's old-school, honorable, and honest.

                              Regarding Iceland's victory, I'm trying to think of a Viking quip, but the creative juices aren't flowing.  Any suggestions from WAISworld?

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                      • Thoughts on a Post-Brexit EU (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 06/26/16 6:38 AM)
                        Brexit could have some really wonderful outcomes.  For example, the return of Northern Ireland to the motherland Ireland, the independence of Scotland, and a new relation Gibraltar-Spain ending the last colonial status (or equivalent) in Europe.

                        But we should not forget the Malvinas.

                        Fishing is the main industry (beside the potential oil industry) of the islands. The Kelpers export 73% of their product, with practically 60% of their GDP to Italy and Spain. Until just a few days ago this trade was unhindered, but now they may find EU quotas with bad consequences. Furthermore Spain and Italy are not obliged any more to support the UK (better to say England and Wales) against Argentina. As such, the two nations may finally shift their loyalty and support to their Argentinian brothers, compelling the Kelpers to reach a compromise with Argentina.

                        Another news item: The 12th meeting of the Wikipedians is being held on Lake Como (Italy). They are staying in hotels but also in private homes.

                        JE comments: My first thought is that a post-Brexit UK would be even less motivated to reach an agreement on Gibraltar and the Falklands. But Eugenio Battaglia points out that the Malvinas may feel real pain with its fish exports.  Still, Britain will want to save face, and I assume it will send as much support to the islands as necessary.

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                    • Brexit: What Would The Bard Say? (Patrick Mears, Germany 06/27/16 8:08 AM)
                      Here are some quick, Bard-inspired observations on Brexit:

                      1. "By the pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes." I suspect that for people in our age bracket, the biggest concern is whether the drop in the global stock markets will continue and worsen, as it did in 2008-2009. My gut feeling is that the markets will recover in relatively short time, but who knows what might happen in this highly interconnected world with free flows of capital.

                      2. "The PM is of a free and open nature That thinks men honest but that seem to be so, And will as tenderly be led by the nose As asses are." Clearly, David Cameron made the biggest blunder by a British PM since Neville Chamberlain waved his umbrella at the London airport and reported that the British and German people will "never go to war with one another again." Cameron should have never agreed to hold the referendum in the first place, and he was warned about this "leap in the dark." His second mistake, it seems to me, was not to impose some sort of party discipline by granting the Tory MPs license to freely express their opinions about Brexit to the populace. That just spurred Boris Johnson on to take a stab at becoming PM by means of the campaign. Johnson, who effectively played the role here as "Honest Iago," has the reputation of being a more persuasive politician than Cameron and clearly overshadowed the PM in the campaign. Interestingly, both he and Johnson were rivals in public school and/or university years ago.

                      3. "Wherefore art thou, Scotland and Northern Ireland?" Brexit will likely result in another referendum on Scottish independence at some point in the near future. Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, said yesterday that, because of the anti-Brexit vote in Scotland which expressed Scotland's strong desire to Remain, such a vote is "on the table." Northern Ireland also voted to Remain, but with a smaller majority than Scotland. Now, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness (Deputy Minister of NI and Gerry Adams' comrade-in-arms) and Declan Kearney are arguing that the conditions have been met for a referendum on Northern Ireland's connection to the UK--that there are indications that a majority of Northern Irelanders want to join the Republic. That position has been rejected by Arlene Foster and Theresa Villiers, members of the NI government, whose party, the Democratic Unionist Party, supported a Brexit vote. In any event, Brexit will hurt both the Republic and NI. The border between the two states is almost invisible now, but will likely need to be controlled upon Brexit and this will cost money and hurt trade. Moreover, the weakness of the Pound Sterling will make exports from the Republic, priced in Euros, more expensive in NI (and in Scotland, Wales and England).

                      4. "There is a tide in the affairs of the European Union, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune..." Because of Brexit's electoral success, there are now calls by populist politicians in France (Marine LePen), the Netherlands (Geert Wilders) and others, who now sense that this is the time to have their own countries exit from the EU and not remain forever in the shallows. Since national elections are scheduled to take place in France and the Netherlands soon (sometime next year, I think), LePen and Wilders will now make these calls a main part of their party platforms. And if they win these elections, these new national leaders will undoubtedly and promptly schedule those polls. This could very well lead to further breakup of the EU and, if France and Netherlands (members of the Original Six states in 1957) vote to leave, the EU would likely be viewed as a rump state dominated by Germany, which could lead to more disaffection and national exits. This overall state of affairs has been noted by many commentators as a consequence of the EU's expansion in 2004 as "too much, too soon." Clearly, some reforming is in order in the EU towards a more closer union that sets comfortably on all EU member states.

                      5. "The quality of mercy is not strained..." Before the vote, some politicians (most notably the always-irascible Wolfgang Schäuble) have stated publicly that, if GB voted to exit, they would be shown no mercy in the exit negotiations, which process could last for 2 years or even more. After the vote, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, had some tough words for Cameron and Britain, saying that the negotiations for separation, which are governed by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, should begin immediately and not wait upon the Tory Party Convention in October, which is when Cameron wants to invoke the constitutional process. On the other hand, Obama's statement yesterday was restrained and confirmed that the special relationship between the US and the UK will continue, notwithstanding the vote and his warning made to Britain a few weeks ago that, upon a Brexit, the UK would have to go to the "back of the queue" to negotiate a separate trade deal with the US. We will see how these dynamics play out in the coming weeks.

                      6. „Oh, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, That has such people in't." "Tis new to thee." Finally, there is the overriding uncertainty as to how the "brave new worlds" of Great Britain and the European Union will be shaped when Brexit is accomplished. Will the EU shatter and become a spent force, a historical anomaly, like the Holy Roman Empire? Will the UK suffer the loss of Scotland? Northern Ireland? Will "the Troubles" return to Northern Ireland? Will the financial center of London relocate to Frankfurt or Paris and thereby seriously wound England's economy? All of these questions are scary ones and admit of no easy predictions.

                      Horatio: „You from the Polack wars, and you from England,

                      Are here arriv'd, give order that these bodies

                      High on a stage be placed to the view;

                      And let me speak to the yet unknowing world

                      How these things came about: so shall you hear

                      Of carnal, bloody and unnatural acts;

                      Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters;

                      Of deaths put on by cunning and forc'd cause;

                      And, in this upshot, purposes mistook

                      Fall'n on the inventors' head: all this can I

                      Truly deliver. . . .

                      Of that I shall have also cause to speak,

                      And from his mouth whose voice will draw on more:

                      But let this same be presently perform'd,

                      Even while men's minds are wild: lest more mischance

                      On plots and errors happen."

                      With apologies to the Bard.

                      JE comments:  Brilliant.  Pat Mears originally sent this to me off the record, but I insisted on sharing it with the WAISitudes.  Thanks, Pat!

                      Three questions for now.  1.  Might historians eventually come to praise David Cameron for yielding to the forces of democracy?  He is a loser in the Machiavellian sense, but perhaps a winner when it comes to integrity and keeping one's word.  Was Cameron "led by the nose as Asses are," or did he do the leading?  2.  What are the chances of Edinburgh, already the UK's #2 financial center, becoming a new European finance capital--given the possibility of an independent Scotland?  Finally, #3:  Whither British industry?  With a devalued pound, exports will be cheaper, which should bode well for national manufacturing.

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                      • Would an Independent Scotland be Accepted into EU? (Roy Domenico, USA 06/27/16 1:14 PM)
                        Like everybody else, I watched in astonishment the British developments of the past few days and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this all works out with a minimum of fallout.

                        The Bard, via Patrick Mears (27 June), asked "whither Scotland" and I came across an interesting article, I think it was in The Telegraph, that Scotland shouldn't count on acceptance into the EU because of probable vetoes from Spain and Belgium who don't favor breakaway nations--for their own obvious and internal reasons.

                        JE comments: That's an important point--although Spain and Belgium could add a proviso that no secessionist state from another EU member state can gain EU membership.

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                        • Whither Scotland? (Angel Vinas, Belgium 06/28/16 2:37 PM)
                          I've been traveling and I continue tomorrow. No time to comment on Brexit and its consequences. I promise I´ll write something next by July 10.

                          However, let me tell you something about Scotland. My daughter went to University in Glasgow (so did I for a postgrade which I didn´t finish because of illness) and is now living in Edinburgh. She voted in favor of remaining in the UK two years ago. She will vote for independence if there is a new referendum. I support her. I´d do the same if I could.

                          JE comments: I'm curious whether those of Ángel's daughter's mind would vote out of loyalty to the EU, or of Scottish resentment about being kicked around by England. A bit of both? Neither?

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                          • Scotland and Brexit (Nigel Jones, UK 06/29/16 5:22 AM)
                            Angel Vinas's post (28 June) goes a long way to explain why Britain voted to leave the EU. It is the sheer nastiness, the petty parochial, the "if you don't do what we want we will punish you" attitude that has pissed us off.

                            As for the canny Scots voting to leave the rest of the UK, well we shall see. Most of Scottish trade is with the UK, it will not want to join the Euro disaster and the price of oil is still sinking. 40% of Scots joined the rest of us in rejecting the EU tyranny.

                            JE comments: I read nothing nasty in Ángel's post--merely a statement that in the wake of Brexit, his daughter in Edinburgh would now vote for independence.  John Heelan (next) has a further thought on "Scoxit."

                            I'm curious about the word "canny." We Americans use it only in the negative (uncanny). My dictionary says that in Scotland and Northern England, it also means pleasant and nice--a "canny lass." A second definition is shrewd in business and money matters, which fits more with the Scottish stereotypes.

                            What was the cheapest US car you could buy in 1957-'58? The Studebaker Scotsman.  That marketing strategy wouldn't fly today.

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                            • Brexit and the "Parochial" (Angel Vinas, Belgium 06/30/16 6:45 AM)
                              Well. Perhaps Nigel Jones (29 June) would allow me to disagree about his use of the term "parochial."

                              According to the Oxford dictionary, parochial means "having a limited or narrow outlook or scope." I share, perhaps, this outlook with the millions of British citizens who in the UK didn´t vote for Brexit. Indeed, even with many Tories and most of the UK Government. On the other hand, I´ve known British politicians who traveled around the world without apparently moving ever out of the confines of the UK and, more specifically, England. In one of my books I´ve illustrated this experience with names.

                              Nobody forced the UK to join the the EEC. The transformation of the EEC into the EU has been a process which was carried out with the support of UK Governments of every hue. Even under Mrs (later baroness) Thatcher. When the UK Government of the day didn´t like any aspects in the Treaty (primary legislation), it negotiated opt-outs. On the other hand, a number of initiatives which required consensus were systematically blocked by London. Some of them are still on the table. In internal negotiations the British were always tough partners. Some may not have liked them. I admired them as excellent professionals, particularly in the Foreign Office and the Treasury. I learned much from them and I´m sorry to see them go. I wish them good luck because, in all likelihood, they will need it.

                              I promise to write something about my perceptions of the Brexit when I come back from France, Spain and Germany.

                              JE comments:  I'm still curious about the language question.  Will the status of English be diminished in the New, "lean and mean" EU?  This is probably one of many subjects that must be hashed out in the coming weeks and months.

                              Sheesh, it's already been a week since the Brexit vote.

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                          • Scoxit: A Challenge to US WAISers (John Heelan, UK 06/29/16 8:37 AM)
                            Like Ángel Viñas (28 June), I have spent a lot of time in Edinburgh on various major projects and came to love the city and its surroundings. That said, I find it strange that Scotland's bid for independence from the elected UK government is hailed, while the UK's similar bid for independence from the unelected EU bureaucracy is decried.

                            Perhaps an acid test for US WAISers would be to consider whether they would accept the terms of EU membership that the UK is required to do. While I admire the political skills of Nicola Sturgeon, her threat to "veto" Brexit is an empty one, as Westminster still has sovereign control of the UK (apart from the incursions by EU laws, directives and regulations). Further, if Scotland won independence in a second referendum, I would like an English/Wales/N Ireland Referendum asking whether and independent Scotland should remain part of the UK.

                            JE comments: John Heelan asks why Scoxit should be hailed if Brexit is condemned. One really should be in favor of both--or of neither. One might counter that the "plurality Scot" who recently voted to remain in the UK, and now voted to stay in the EU, at least is consistent in his/her views.

                            Another factor is the belief that Scottish independence would be the self-determination of a historically marginalized people, while Brexit is an attempt to revive the British Empire--Perfidious Albion and all that.  Admittedly, this perception could have little or no basis in fact.

                            Next up:  Texas seceding from the US?  We already have a word for it:  Texit.  Then Florida:  Flexit.  How about New Mexit?

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                            • Scotland and Brexit (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 06/30/16 4:59 AM)
                              Statements of Nicola Sturgeon, to the effect that Scotland is not obligated to follow the rest of the UK out of Europe, together with grandstanding appeals to the EU Parliament to support Scotland in this, show the extent to which the UK has been playing with fire, in the matter of Scottish independence.

                              It's actually of a piece with Brexit itself--sovereignty is imposed, inherently, by force--that's what it is. It seems to me that a fundamental naiveté about the nature of sovereignty is rampant in the Europe of our era. In reality, anything which is voluntary, is not sovereignty. If at any moment any community or group of people can decide whether or not they are subject to it, then the sovereign ceases to be a sovereign. My ancestors died on the fields of Antietam and Gettysburg quarreling about it.

                              Brexit is the logical result if an entity like the EU attempts to exert sovereignty, even in a very limited form, when the subject of that sovereignty is not obligated to accept it. In my opinion, the EU has gone down a dead-end road, trying to achieve political union gradually, and by pretending that the member states are not giving anything up. In our Constitutional system, the "people" (an abstraction, but bear with me) are sovereign, and the State, which is merely the agent of the "people," has no right to give away any part of this sovereignty to anyone. In order for the US to join an organization like the EU, the people would have to consent to it through the process of a constitutional amendment, which is much more rigorous than a one-time referendum passed by a simple majority of the electorate as it exists in one point in time. As it is, the people of EU member states are subject to lawmaking by various EU bodies, subject to little to no democratic control, but these same people continue to elect their national governments, who can invoke Article 50 at any moment and pull out. All it takes is one really fundamental issue for the whole thing to fly apart.

                              And some leaders of Scotland seem to think that being part of the UK is the same kind of deal, and don't mind saying so, loudly, and in public. This threatens the whole integrity of the UK as a state, and needs to be brought under control. It should be made clear to the Scottish leadership that they can't have it both ways--either in, or out. Once Scotland is in the UK, decisions of Parliament on matters within Parliament's powers, are binding on the whole country, including Scotland.

                              As to the EU, I agree with many thoughtful leaders of EU member states who are now saying that fundamental reform is needed. In my opinion, the political union is a dead end, in this form, and needs to be rolled back. If political union is desired by the member states--and certainly there are some good reasons why a United States of Europe as in Winston Churchill's dream could be a good thing--this needs to be achieved by a serious and conscious act of the peoples involved, to throw in their lot together, and give up forever the right to go scurrying back to their national governments, as soon as they don't like something the Union is doing. For this to have any legitimacy, the EU would have to be structured in a completely different way, with serious democratic institutions, and with a decision-making process which, contrary to what exists at the moment, is not insulated from democratic forces.

                              JE comments:  Cameron Sawyer points out a fundamental flaw in the EU:  it gradually imposes its sovereignty over the Member States, who still at any time can withdraw via Article 50.  In short, unless it becomes more difficult for States to leave, the edifice is doomed to collapse like a house of cards.  The only thing that can ensure EU survival in its present form is a belief by a plurality of voters in all the MS that the Union works to their advantage.  This is a tall order.

                              What's the buzz in Germany?  I hope Pat Mears will send a comment.

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                              • Brexit and the German Perspective (Patrick Mears, Germany 06/30/16 8:09 AM)
                                John E asked for my comment on the mood in Germany after the Brexit vote. Right now I am in Chicago, attending a smallish international insolvency law conference, so I am a bit out of touch with current events on the ground in Germany. However, there are a few Germans here with me, one of whom is a university professor and the other is a judge of the Bundesgerichtshof (the German Supreme Court, not to be confused with Germany's constitutional court, both of which courts sit in Karlsruhe), and so I might have more to report later.

                                You probably have read the news stories that Angela Merkel declared a day or two ago that the EU should be patient in working through the Article 50 process in order to "get it right" and not rush to eject the UK and get it wrong. That comment seemed to capture the general mood in the country that produced Walter Hallstein and Konrad Adenauer. Perhaps she is hoping against hope that there will be a change of heart in the UK or, more realistically, a softening of demands for free-fall exit.

                                Dramatic events seem to keep popping up in the meantime: Boris Johnson dropped out of the Tory race, Jeremy Corbin seems to be on the ropes but still clinging onto them, and the EU member states' ministers announced that a waiver of "freedom of movement" will not simply be offered to the UK in Article 50 negotiations "à la carte."

                                I appreciated Cameron Sawyer's post of 30 June, and his analogy to the American "War Between the States" and sovereignty. That is an important aspect of this entire scramble which puts the events into fine and understandable perspective for Americans.

                                JE comments: Great to hear from you, Pat! Your note is the first news I've heard about Boris Johnson's withdrawal. What could explain this other than some sort of closet skeleton we don't know about?

                                Nigel Jones has cited the "limited appeal" of Michael Gove, who is an announced candidate for Tory leader. Most observers point to Theresa May, although this is not a year for conventional wisdom.

                                I've been thinking all week about Brexit and any possible analogies with the Secessionist states of 1860-'61.  The eleven states of the CSA probably thought they were invoking their own "Article 50" equivalents--and the United States was (were) arguably no more a "nation" in 1860 than the EU is today.  Or arguably it was:  consider the US national army, its central executive, common language (if not common culture), mobility of its people, etc.

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                                • Boris Johnson and Michael Gove (John Heelan, UK 06/30/16 1:47 PM)

                                  Perhaps reality has dawned on Boris Johnson after being politically stabbed by his friend and co-Brexiteer, Michael Gove. Politics is cruel sport. One comment that I have read is that maybe Boris--popular though he is--has recognised that given the Establishment's like of Mary Poppins nanny figures like Thatcher in days of turmoil--Tory MPs are likely to run to hide behind the skirts of Theresa May.

                                  JE comments:  Who is this gentleman?  (See below.)  I'd venture that in the US, 98% of the respondents would answer:  "I do not know."

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                                • Boris Johnson's Skeletons? (Patrick Mears, Germany 07/02/16 5:12 AM)
                                  With respect to the question John E asked earlier about Boris Johnson's "skeletons in the closet," there are some interesting articles in the July 1st issue of The New York Times about the personalities of political leaders involved in the Brexit campaign.

                                  One of these articles is an abbreviated portrait of Boris that describes his irreverent antics over the years which, in many respects, have endeared himself with the English public. The article notes that Boris was born in the US but surrendered his American citizenship because of his unwillingness to pay US taxes--but that is not much of a skeleton. The NYT piece also mentions that Boris has fathered two children out of wedlock. If there are any other Boris-related skeletons hidden about, I am not aware of them. Maybe some of our UK members can provide more detail.

                                  JE comments:  I knew about one of Boris's "love babies"--but didn't that scandal play itself out a few years ago?

                                  In the US, a child out of wedlock will more or less do you in politically.  But this doesn't appear to be the case in Europe--and certainly not in Latin America.

                                  Remember the one about Obama's 19 year-old illegitimate son Luther?  It made the rounds in the 2012 elections, and was taken as gospel by more than one publication:



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                                  • Boris Johnson and Gravitas (John Heelan, UK 07/03/16 7:29 AM)
                                    Regarding Boris Johnson (see Pat Mears, 2 July), I suspect that it was his regular appearances on a weekly comedy news programme "Have I Got News For You" in which he regularly appeared to be an upper-class buffoon, a populist persona he has adopted that hides his true intelligence. His alleged priapic episodes came later. A flavour can be found in:


                                    Also watch the one following this video where he is questioned about an alleged fraudulent friend.

                                    Not the gravitas needed for a future statesman?

                                    JE comments:  Entertaining clips, although some of the humor is "insidey" for the American palate.  Lacking in gravitas?  I'd trade Boris for the dyspeptic political fare we're presently being served over here.  And he's US-born...

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                                    • Boris Johnson (Patrick Mears, Germany 07/04/16 8:27 AM)

                                      Responding to John Heelan's comments on Boris Johnson, I have to confess that although I was aware of him earlier, I didn't really become familiar with Johnson's superior intelligence and sharp wit, as well as his foibles until the Brexit campaign. His YouTube videos are well worth watching, especially this biography that charts his course from childhood to just a few years ago.


                                      In addition to pursuing his political career, he has written books on topics as diverse as the Roman Empire, Winston Churchill, the City of London and, this November, his biography of William Shakespeare will be published.

                                      In the recent International New York Times article that I mentioned in my previous post, "Charm fails for politician who built a career on it" (page 1, column 5 of this past Weekend issue), the author concluded his piece with the following account:

                                      "Before now, Mr. Johnson has rarely been confronted with a situation he could not maneuver his way through. But a harbinger came in March, when he was summoned before a House of Commons committee and forensically interrogated by its Javert-like Tory chairman, Andrew Tyrie, about a series of statements he had made over the years about Europe.

                                      "Mr. Johnson tried his normal humorous approach. Asked, for instance, about his assertion that the European Union has a law saying that balloons cannot be blown up by children under 8 (it doesn't), he deflected the question, saying, 'In my household, only children under 8 are allowed to blow up balloons.'

                                      "He continued in this vein throughout the session, as Mr. Tyrie peered unsmilingly at him, acid in his voice. 'This is all very interesting, Boris,' Mr. Tyrie said at one point. 'Except that none of it is really true, is it?'"

                                      JE comments:  Today especially, we rebellious Colonials should butt out of British affairs, but let me ask one question:  why do Tory politicians have a better sense of humor than their Labour counterparts?  Or am I simply wrong?

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                                      • on Boris Johnson; UKIP Leader Nigel Farage Resigns (Nigel Jones, UK 07/04/16 3:06 PM)
                                        Patrick Mears (July 4th) has called Boris Johnson correctly. Boris is what used to be called "a card." A witty intelligent man who makes people laugh, feel optimistic and good about themselves. A great quality in a politician, especially when most of them are miserable men in grey suits. He added colour to the landscape. And that's why people in Labour-supporting London backed him, a Tory. Come to think of it, the analogy is having Donald Trump running for mayor of New York--and winning.

                                        The downside, of course, is that Boris, learned man that he is, is a bit lazy and fuzzy on detail. He is also personally untrustworthy (not just to his wives). Anyway his downfall has been a Caesarian tragedy (as a classicist with a Latin tag for everything, he would appreciate the allusion) with his erstwhile chum Michael Gove playing the Brutus role. Gove has achieved the distinction of ending in a single week the political careers of two of his bestest buddies (no longer I fear)--Cameron and Boris. Not that it has profited him : he is now irretrievably branded as a serial killing political Typhoid Mary and his bid for the Premiership is doomed.

                                        At present the contest for the Tory party leadership, and therefore the Prime Ministership also, looks like being between two women: Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom. May is a cowardly opportunist who came out for Remain but did nothing for the campaign. Leadsom is a bright cookie with a financial background and a keen Brexiteer. Naturally I favour her and believe she will win when vote goes out to the 150,000 Tory grassroots party members who will effectively choose our next PM. But what do I know? A week ago I bet John Heelan on WAIS that Boris Johnson would be the next PM. Thank the Lord he did not take me up on the wager, otherwise I would be homeless now.

                                        Incidentally Patrick mentions the dry chairman of the Commons Finance committee, Andrew Tyrie. He happens to be my new Member of Parliament and I am thinking of challenging him if there Is an early General election. He is desperately dull.

                                        Oh, I almost forgot: my party leader Nigel Farage has just quit too.

                                        Britain owes this man so much: almost single-handed he brought this Referendum about by making our party such a threat to the Tories that Cameron was forced to hold an election to appease his own increasingly Eurosceptic party. Now, exhausted after 20 years of untiring struggle to reclaim our independence, he has understandably quit to get his own life back. For all the mud hurled in his direction, I salute him as the greatest living Englishman. And he also shares with Boris the qualities of humour, cheerfulness, eloquence and wit. He also has amazing energy and bravery, which I think Boris lacks.

                                        British politics will be much poorer and less colourful without them, though I cannot believe we have heard the last of them.

                                        JE comments: Nigel Farage has pronounced UKIP's political ambitions as achieved, so his work is done in a very real sense. This raises a larger question: what do single-issue parties do after their goal is met?

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                                      • Labour Party Wits: Michael Foot (John Heelan, UK 07/05/16 5:53 AM)
                                        In response to John E's question, Labour has had its fair share of comic quips. My favourite is by Michael Foot in the House of Commons when David Steel, the youthful leader of the Liberals, proposed to vote with the Conservatives and against the Labour government.

                                        Foot commented: "What the Right Hon. Lady (Thatcher) has done today is to lead her troops into battle snugly concealed behind a Scottish nationalist shield, with the boy David holding her hand." Steel, he added, had "passed from rising hope to elder statesman without any intervening period whatsoever."

                                        "The Boy David" tag dogged Steel's political career for a very long time and is still remembered.

                                        JE comments:  Michael Foot, who died in 2010 at the age of 96, was a proponent of British withdrawal from the EEC--a Brexit avant la lettre.  I just learned this from Wikipedia.  Can anyone elaborate?

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                              • Germany and Brexit; Who Will Succeed Cameron? (Nigel Jones, UK 06/30/16 9:58 AM)
                                Never mind the buzz in Germany--it is the only country still rooting for the doomed EU as its the only one to profit from reducing the rest to serfdom.

                                The buzz in Britain--the nation that opened the gates of liberty for Europe--is that our two major parties are in utter chaos because of the Referendum decision to leave the EU which both opposed. Outgoing PM David Cameron will be succeeded by one of five candidates, Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has been voted out by 80% of his own MPs but clings on with support of many of his ordinary party members.

                                But thank God we are out and free at last.

                                Ángel Viñas (30 June) thinks that Britain will need luck in the big wide world outside the crumbling EU. Maybe so, but the EU will need even more luck.

                                JE comments:  To think that the UK, as well as Spain and the EU in general, are presently without governments.  Perhaps no government is the wave of the future?

                                Nigel wrote me off-Forum from the Somme, which tomorrow will observe the centennial of the bloodiest day in British military history.  I hope we'll dedicate tomorrow's WAISing to this grim anniversary.


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                                • Somme and Brexit Compared; Thoughts on Tory Leadership Contest (John Heelan, UK 07/01/16 4:49 AM)
                                  On this 100th anniversary of the UK attack on the Somme, John E asked for parallels with the Brexit vote. Perhaps there are some in newspaper headlines ranging from the (probably apocryphal) "Fog in Channel: Continent Cut off," to the charge that the Tommies in WWI were "Lions led by donkeys." Unlikely as it is, should Parliament approve a rerun of the Brexit referendum, there could be another one: "Mother of Parliaments denies democracy!"

                                  Regarding the new Tory leader, to me all the runners for that election, other than one, have flawed political backgrounds. Fox resigned because of flawed judgement about one of his advisers; Stephen Crabb (who he?); Michael Gove, who in some people's opinions has screwed up UK education by privatising it, and has had a chequered stay as Justice Secretary; Andrea Leadsom (did well in Brexit debates but another banker and fund manager); Boris Johnson (enough said already); Jeremy Hunt, who has screwed up the National Health Service and as a result his surname as slipped into cockney slang; Nicky Morgan, another Education Minister bent on privatising UK education and failing UK students of all ages; George Osborne, whose political day is done and about to retreat to his baronetcy of "Piddling-in-the-Bog in the County of Waterford"; John Barron: another nonentity.

                                  The likely winner is perhaps more to be feared by the other runners because, due to her control of MI5, MI6, police and other emergency services, she probably knows where all the political bodies are buried, in the UK, the US and the EU.

                                  JE comments: Theresa May, I presume? If she's got the dirt on her rivals, then John Heelan is no doubt correct.

                                  "Lions led by Donkeys" could not be a more apt description of sending thousands of Tommies (and Canadians and French) to their deaths in tidy rows, each laden with 30 kilos of gear. Try running around with 66 lbs of stuff on your back--never mind the barbed wire, shells, and bullets.  Chin up and carry on, lads:  one more thrust should do it...

                                  I have noticed, however, that Douglas Haig's reputation among historians has experienced something of a renaissance.  He practiced the brilliant idea of attrition--"Obviously, the greater the length of a war the higher is likely to be the number of casualties in it on either side."  This is sickening, but like Grant in the US Civil War, the strategy worked.  Nothing succeeds like success.  Had Haig or Grant lost their respective wars, each would be vilified as a butcher.  (I do like to think of Grant as more humane and more human than Haig.  My American bias?)

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                                • 1 July 1916: My Father Was There (David Pike, France 07/01/16 5:25 AM)
                                  JE wrote (30 June) that the UK and Spain are both at present without governments. Spain, yes, but UK, no. It even has Cameron as prime minister until he resigns. Nothing else has changed. The government remains in the hands of the elected Conservative Party.

                                  I read today the post of a fellow-countryman in our WAIS organization boasting of our country's place in history. I am fully aware of it, and deeply proud of it, but I wince at any expression of vainglory. I had the good fortune to attend one of those prestigious British public schools. I received a classical education in which the Greek ideal of modesty was instilled. I was taught what Kipling wrote, never to look too good, or talk too wise.

                                  Among the things that have made me truly proud of my country was an editorial by a Spanish Republican minister in the leading Spanish Republican newspaper in France after the liberation in 1944. He had surmounted the deep bitterness felt by Spanish Republicans toward the UK in the way it had allowed the Republic to be defeated. Instead he wrote, on the day of Allied victory: "England has covered itself in glory in this century."

                                  Today commemorates the opening of the first Battle of the Somme. That very day my father, in the Seaforth Highlanders, celebrated his 19th birthday. There were 60,000 British and Canadian casualties before the sun went down. My father came out among the walking wounded.

                                  JE comments: What a way to spend your birthday, but David Pike's father had a higher power (guardian angel, luck) looking over him. How many other 19 year-olds on the Somme never saw their 20th?

                                  Thank you for this wisdom, David. Never look too good, or talk too wise--perfect WAIS wisdom. (This is why we don't have a flashier website!)

                                  David:  do you have a photo of your father during the Great War years?  WAISers would be intrigued to see it.  (Were the Highlanders still fighting in kilts by mid-1916, or had they switched to trousers?)

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                                  • Cameron's Resignation (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 07/01/16 11:31 AM)
                                    Today David Pike wrote: "JE wrote (30 June) that the UK and Spain are both at present without governments. Spain, yes, but UK, no."

                                    It seems they both might be wrong, unless a new definition of government is in place. If they mean a "new elected government," then UK and Spain are both without governments.

                                    In Spain, there is an official "government in functions" which is perfectly institutional and functional, a transitional government if you like, until a new one is negotiated under coalition terms, or not, but this is far away from being an almost chaotic state without government as the statements seemed to suggest.

                                    In the UK Mr Cameron just resigned, yet he still is officially in power until next October, I believe. New elections for a "new elected government" will surely take place, and what is left of his term might be a also called a "transitional government."

                                    However the interesting questions to me about Mr Cameron's resignation and this transitional period, is why does he want to be part of the story as the Prime Minister who officially requested the UK separation from the EU, and why it is necessary to wait several months for that? What does he expects to achieve in a few weeks?

                                    JE comments:  "No government" in a functioning democracy is always an overstatement.  Belgium went 589 days with no government in 2010-'11, and nobody noticed.  (Perhaps that is an overstatement, too.)  Conversely, many states have real governments with no effective control over their nations.  (Think of Afghanistan.)

                                    So who can answer José Ignacio's question:  why such a long lame-duck period for Mr Cameron?  Is there anything beyond the administrative "orderly transition" stuff?

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                                    • Timing of Cameron's Resignation, Departure (John Heelan, UK 07/02/16 5:46 AM)

                                      In response to José Ignacio Soler (1 July), David Cameron's resignation has more to do with the timing of the annual conference of the Conservative Party. He wanted to give time for the Leadership election processes--nomination, campaigning and voting--to take place so that the new Leader could be announced at the forthcoming Conservative Party conference so that healing could commence for the party that has been tearing itself apart for the last six months.

                                      The conference is scheduled for 2-5 October 2016, with the Leadership election to be completed by 9 September. This would give the new Leader time to formulate policies to present at the conference and plan for a snap election to get public support if necessary. Already, ministers supporting Theresa May are politicking to give her a free run on the first ballot as a "unity candidate."  For the next few months, both Labour and Conservatives will be inspecting their respective navels rather than running the country.

                                      JE comments:  Thanks, John!  Never know what you'll find in there...

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                                    • Details of the Brexit: The Norwegian, Swiss, or "Point Zero" Path? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 07/03/16 11:46 AM)

                                      In my post of July 1st, about the transitional governments in Spain and the UK, I posed a question at the end, which was probably was misinterpreted by John E. The question was : "why does [Mr Cameron] not want to be part of the story as the Prime Minister who officially requested the UK separation from the EU, and why it is necessary to wait several months for that? What does he expect to achieve in a few weeks?"

                                      Apparently Mr Cameron has clearly stated that he does not want to be the one making the request and that mission will be left to his successor.

                                      I believe this question is not shallow and probably not easy to answer. The Brexit referendum was successful, but effective separation still has not been formally requested. Why is necessary to wait for the British to invoke the EU´s Article 50?

                                      I dare to answer myself some hypothesis. It might be related to Mr Cameron's personal and politically affected effort to save face; or maybe the fact that there is not a clear road map for a successful UK separation, and a workable time strategy needs to be formulated. Most likely, the Brexiteers did not have a clear vision for the next steps of separation. Perhaps it is a combination of those. It looks like no one was really expecting Brexit to win the referendum.

                                      So the question remains: What would be the options for the UK's successful separation and why would the process take longer than many in UK and the EU would expect? Recently I have been following many intelligent newspaper articles about this subject. None give clear answers.

                                      From an outsider's perspective, besides Mr Cameron´s resignation which will become effective months from now, I have been reading about the turmoil among the UK's Labour and Conservative parties for leadership, the Scottish Prime Minister's opposition to Brexit, as well as the apparently manipulative campaign messages and promises for Brexit. Many other news items seem to suggest that in fact there is no a clear road map to follow for the UK.

                                      On the EU side, there is a similar discomfort dealing with the situation. Apparently there are conflicting interests among France, Italy and Germany as the main leaders of the EU. On the one hand they want to speed the process to reduce the risk of contamination, while on the other hand, they hope to reduce the potential negative impact of a immediate separation. In any scenario both parties have a lot to lose.

                                      So then what are the options? Well, beside the oft-mentioned "Norway path," which seems to be what the Brexiteers had in mind, there are other options. For Instance the "Switzerland path," the most logical but unlikely road, or the "Zero-point path," which seems to be the easiest but most painful and time-consuming.

                                      The Switzerland path is based on more than 120 particular treaties--economic, trade, financial, immigration, etc., negotiated over the course of many years, decades, and with uncertain and unsatisfactory results for the EU, which makes it hard for them to deal again along these lines.

                                      The "zero-point path" means starting from zero, negotiating a full new bilateral treaty, similar to the TTIP that US is presently negotiating with the EU according to the rules of the WTO, and accepting trade duties and restrictions. This option would be the simplest, but also the most economically painful for the UK in the short and medium term. Experts say it has advantages but at a high price. They would obtain more freedom, British markets would be more openly available for competition but perhaps there would weakened competitiveness in many sectors; besides, they say, from the standpoint of British public opinion, voting for Brexit was emotionally motivated by a less open, or more protected, society model, at least with regards to the circulation of people and immigration.

                                      The Norwegian path, or Iceland or Lichtenstein path for that matter, is probably the one that eventually will be negotiated, or some similar sort, but this one also has pros and cons to deal with. Let me try to summarize the important facts and possible consequences.

                                      --Norway is not an official member of the EU, but it has access to the common market. It belongs to the European market, but not to its political space. UK is today one of the EU leaders in both aspects.

                                      --Norway is obliged to accept most of the European legislation, including the free circulation of people, capital and services, without participating or influencing in its decisions, and without voting rights. That would be difficult to accept for Brexit supporters.

                                      --Norway accepts European citizens who wish to live and to work in the country, as much as the UK would have to accept.

                                      --Norway ineffectively controls illegal immigration, as much as the UK probably will.

                                      --Norway also makes important contributions to the EU budget, though less than a full rights member such as the UK.

                                      Do the British people knew precisely what the "Norway path" means vis à vis the EU?. Are they willing to agree such terms?  I doubt it. These are all items to negotiate of course, but it remains to be seen if the UK´s citizens would be willing to accept the same status as Norway.

                                      JE comments:  I did inadvertently change the meaning of José Ignacio Soler's original post--the multiple negatives threw me for a curve.  Sorry, José Ignacio!

                                      The Norwegian model doesn't sound as attractive in practice as it does in theory.  If I follow José Ignacio's description above, Norway is obliged to follow many EU directives but has no voice or vote.  What, then, are the advantages?

                                      Is Nigel Jones a proponent of Norway or of the "Point Zero" path?

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                                  • Letter from the Somme (Nigel Jones, UK 07/01/16 1:58 PM)
                                    Like David Pike (July 1), I had an English Public School education. And like him my father was a veteran of the First World War. Indeed I am writing this from the heart of the Somme battlefield on the centenary of the beginning of that battle.

                                    But the similarities stop there.

                                    For I draw very different conclusions from that conflict and indeed from the Second World War that followed. For me these were wars fought for democracy, and the principles enunciated by Lincoln at Gettysburg. They were fought by Britain to prevent a cruel and overweening power--Germany --achieving hegemony over Europe by brutal conquest. I see Britain's Brexit vote in the same light.

                                    In an earlier post David asked why I referred to Merkel's Germany as a "Reich." The best English translation of that word is "Empire," and that is a completely accurate term for what the Fourth Reich is trying to do to Europe economically where its predecessors attempted militarily. Germany dominates central and eastern Europe, and has ruined southern Europe by imposing the Euro in order to export its products. That project is now manifestly failing.

                                    In the wake of the Second World War Europe's political leaders made a catastrophic error by attempting to impose an undemocratic, Soviet-style dictatorship super state without the consent, and even without the knowledge of its subject peoples. This project is now in its death throes, and as so often in its history Britain has set an example to Europe by voting for freedom against the advice of its arrogant, condescending so called elites.

                                    I glory in the people's victory and look forward to many more as the misbegotten EU, rotten from its foundations, collapses.

                                    I have been arguing and campaigning for this for years, and I am entitled to feel pleased and proud of my country. And if David Pike finds this "vindictive" or "vainglorious" well, that's just tough.

                                    JE comments: The lessons from the Great War are the lessons of Brexit, but not everyone draws the same lessons. Nigel Jones sees WWI as a war for freedom and for Britain. For David W. Pike, it was a war for Europe, for humanity.

                                    Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality was the event that drew Britain into the war.  Now with Brexit, the UK is sending Belgium (Brussels) off packing.

                                    Nigel:  Please send us a report on the Somme centennial ceremonies.

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                                    • The Somme (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/03/16 5:25 AM)

                                      Let me to join voices with Nigel Jones (1 July) to pay tribute to all soldiers who fell on the field of duty and honor at the Somme, but also to all soldiers, no matter which flag or if victorious or defeated, who fell with honor for their countries.

                                      I agree with most of Nigel's post; however I strongly object to the claim that Britain, in the last century, fought for democracy and freedom for other peoples.

                                      Like any other nation, Britain fought for its national interests.  The great claims that "we fight for democracy, freedom, peace, etc.," are just rhetoric to convince the domestic front. All sides in a conflict make the same claims.

                                      Oh, by the way, the invasion of a neutral country is a very good excuse to go to war when previous chances were missed on the beaches of Agadir in 1907. Remember the great admiral John Fisher saying, "It seems a golden occasion to fight Germany," or on the avenidas of Madrid in 1880.

                                      JE comments:  Wasn't the principal crisis in Agadir (Morocco) in 1911?  Either way, it was one of the several times the Anglo-Franco-German showdown did not occur.  World War I was prevented every time, until "peace became intolerable."

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                                  • My Father at The Somme (David Pike, France 07/11/16 7:12 AM)
                                    Our editor JE wrote (July 1) asking me to send WAIS a photo of my father in the Seaforth Highlanders in the First World War, so I send two.

                                    In the first photo, in trousers, he is standing. As I may have said already, the Battle of the Somme opened at 05:30 on his 19th birthday, and by close of day (or close of play, as they say in cricket, because the game resumes the next morning), the British Army's score on that opening day rattled up to 19,240 dead, including 60% of the junior officers. My father rarely spoke of it, except to say that it was a crime on both sides against youth, against ordinary men.

                                    John Eipper also asked whether the Highlanders were still fighting in kilts. The order indeed came down that they were to switch to trousers. It's the only case I know in the British Army of disobedience going unpunished. The Highlanders responded, "We fight in kilts. If we don't wear our kilts, we won't fight."

                                    Some people think I must be a Scot, but ours is a naval family from Plymouth. My father's only sibling was his brother in the Royal Navy who died a slow death in the sinking of submarine H47. The Seaforths' training base in Stranraer is the farthest possible distance from Plymouth. A case of the desire of youth to try something different.

                                    JE comments: What a dashing young warrior.  Thank you, David.  I have a number of questions:  how common was it for Englishmen to join Highlander regiments?  Wouldn't they have experienced discrimination, hazing, linguistic alienation, or what have you?

                                    Didn't mustard gas (1917) accomplish what High Command could not, regarding kilts?  Pride and tradition are one thing, but you don't want mustard gas going up your kilt.

                                    Finally, David:  any information about the dog?  S/he appears to be stuffed, or else really good at posing.  Portraiture with Fido seemed to be something of a trope in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

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                              • Churchill and a United Europe (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 07/01/16 8:50 AM)
                                Lately Cameron Sawyer and others have reminded us of Churchill's so-called dream of a United States of Europe. Fine, but he did not want the UK to participate in it.

                                It looks like that he wanted the Union for the "poor semicolonial peoples of the European Continent," so they would not quarrel any more among themselves and would be a good ally (cannon fodder) and a defense for the UK against the USSR. Do not forget that Churchill nurtured the idea of attacking the Soviet forces on 1 July 1945 [Operation Unthinkable--JE].

                                On 11 May 1953 in the British Parliament Churchill said:

                                "Where do we stand? We are not members of the European Defence Community, nor do we intend to be merged in a Federal European system. We feel we have a special relation to both. This can be expressed by prepositions, by the preposition 'with' but not 'of'--we are with them, but not of them. We have our own Commonwealth and Empire. One of the anxieties of France is lest Germany, even partitioned as she is now, will be so strong that France will be outweighed in United Europe or in the European Defence Community. I am sure they could do a lot, if they chose to make themselves stronger. But, anyhow, I have always believed, as an active friend of France for nearly 50 years, that our fortunes lie together."

                                The UK has always asked for privileges in order to be "with" the EU but never being "part" of the EU. So, please forget the old imperialist Churchill and be happy that England is out according to its long-standing historical wishes.

                                The pain in the neck is Frau Merkel. Frankly I still believe that the crazy Hitler was a more loyal ally, but her rule too will come to an end. Of course the new Union should be really independent from the Empire and have regular ties, as already mentioned by Luciano Dondero, with Russia.

                                JE comments: Curiously, Churchill fought strongly against a "United Europe" of sorts--one under the boot of the Reich.

                                The more you study Churchill, the more of an enigma he becomes. There are WSC quotes to support just about any viewpoint--good or bad. Need an egregiously racist Winston? Check. A jolly advocate for self-determination? Another check. A butcher, as in Gallipoli? Check...

                                Just think:  had the Unthinkable been unleashed, today would be a doubly significant anniversary:  71 years since the beginning of WWIII (or WWII-a).

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                            • Calexit, Cannabis, Gun Control; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 06/30/16 7:02 AM)
                              Ric Mauricio writes:

                              And to add to John E's list of "-exits," perhaps we should mention Calexit, the 8th largest economy in the world.

                              Just announced is that the initiative to legalize the recreational use of cannabis is on the California ballot. Not being a smoker, of tobacco or cannabis, this does not affect me directly, but I realize that people find their pleasures in many different ways. The arguments against recreational cannabis is illogical at best, since imbibing of alcoholic beverages is very similar in nature. And one does not need to pass another law for those who abuse the substances. DUI means Driving under the influence, and that influence could be alcohol or drugs. Me, I tend to get high from great friendships and family, good music, admiring the natural wonders of the universe and man-made wonders of man (Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge at night, etc.), so never had to rely on any ingestion (or inhalation) to get high. I have been trying to garner my fifteen minutes of fame by taking prescribed medicinal marijuana as a deduction on California tax returns. I know exactly where to input it (very few tax pros know this technique), if only I can find a client gutsy enough to try.

                              The issue with Calexit is that the government in Sacramento is just as mired in bureaucracy as the federal government; even more so. Our Franchise Tax Board (how do they come up with the names of these agencies?) is terribly frustrating to deal with. But we have been especially lucky to limit really crazy politics to the City and County of San Francisco. My county of San Mateo does cooperate with ICE. But here's a question for WAISers. Why is it that politicians insist on fixing current laws by placing another layer of law upon the current law? For example, we had a very famous rape case involving a Stanford student/swimmer where he raped an unconscious woman. Now there is a bill to establish a minimum sentence for those who rape unconscious victims. To me, it would seem that rape is rape, whether the victim was conscious or unconscious and that a minimum sentence should encompass all those convicted of rape.

                              Another idea being floated, especially after the Orlando shooting, is gun control. Obviously, the shooter did pass gun control regulations; the gun store owner did his due diligence and background checks. Why do we then need more gun control? Why not execute the current gun control regulations correctly? Same idea with immigration control (or the Great Mexican Wall). Why spend countless money and energy in building a Wall, when we already have regulations that limit the work and benefit opportunities for undocumented immigrants?

                              Why not execute the current regulations correctly?

                              JE comments:  Legislators can claim a "win" when they pass a new law.  Enforcing an existing one doesn't garner the same press.  Such is the stuff of Big Organizations.  Or am I too cynical?

                              Fast forward ten years or so:  I can imagine a world in which smoking pot is socially acceptable and legally sanctioned, but tobacco use is an absolute taboo.

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                              • California's Rape Laws and Stanford Case (Edward Jajko, USA 07/01/16 7:53 AM)
                                A point of clarification in response to Ric Mauricio (30 June): While I agree in general with the proposition that there is just too much lawmaking, on the matter of the sexual assault by former Stanford student Brock Turner perpetrated upon the body of an unconscious woman, the moves in the California legislature to change the law are not because the victim was unconscious.

                                Turner, at the time a Stanford student and member of a fraternity which had a party at which the woman became intoxicated to the point of insensibility, was caught in the act of digitally penetrating the near-naked woman as she lay on the ground outside the frat house. Under current California law, penetration by other than the sexual organ is sexual assault, not rape. While sexual assault as described can get one put on the list of registered sexual offenders (and Brock Turner's name has been or will be added to the registry), the assault is not rape and carries a lesser jail punishment.

                                In this case, Turner was sentenced to six months in jail plus probation as well as becoming a Registered Sex Offender. His jail term is effectively three months.

                                The circumstances of this case and written statements presented to the court, notably a moving and eloquent letter by the victim, which has been published in newspapers, read on the floor of the legislature, read on cable TV by Ashley Banfield, and even read into the Congressional record by a team of members of Congress, as well as a morally obtuse letter by the perpetrator's father, and the slap on the wrist sentence have led to outcry against Santa Clara County Superior Court judge. Aaron Persky and a move to have him recalled. Jurors have refused to serve in his court in other cases and in one, the district attorney had a case withdrawn from Persky and assigned to another judge. Just yesterday, 200,000 signatures on a petition to have Judge Persky removed were delivered to the California Commission on Judicial Performance. These are in addition to the more than one million who have signed other petitions. Unfortunately Judge Persky ran unopposed in the recent primary election and will be reelected to another term on the bench.

                                I have read that California law without regard to logic adjudges sexual assault on an unconscious person as a lesser offense than if the victim is conscious. There is obvious need to rectify this. But the movements in the legislature to change the law are not because the victim was unconscious. Rather, their intent is to define actions like those committed by Turner as rape rather than sexual assault. Punishment would include time in a state prison rather than county jail.

                                Curiously, there are those who oppose this on the grounds that California prisons are full to the point of overflowing and can't take the additional convicts.

                                JE comments:  Wikipedia has an extremely detailed article on People v. Turner.  It is interesting how Turner originally benefited from privilege, but now the public outrage seems to stem precisely because of how he benefited from privilege.  In other words, People v. Turner would not be such a high-profile case if the incident had happened at a second- or third-tier institution.

                                And why did no one run to unseat Judge Persky?


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                                • Update on Stanford Rape Case and Judge Persky (Edward Jajko, USA 08/29/16 2:13 PM)
                                  Further to my posting of July 16 on the rape laws of California and the notorious slap-on-the-wrist penalty imposed by Judge Aaron Persky. Today's San Francisco Chronicle reports that some 200 proposed laws await Governor Brown's signature. One is AB701, which defines rape as unlawful penetration by any object. The matter of relative gravity, of an act on an unconscious person being not as serious as one on a conscious person, seems not to have been addressed.

                                  Recent newspapers have reported that Judge Aaron Persky, who sentenced Brock Turner to six months in county jail for his crime, remains a target of a recall vote. He is unopposed on the Nov. 8 ballot, so even if there were a fairly successful protest against him and if the voters of Santa Clara County managed to withhold their votes from him, if even one sympathizer voted for him he would be elected. However, the recent news is that Judge Persky asked the presiding judge to reassign him to civil cases only. Potential jurors had refused to serve in his court, a prosecutor had pulled a case out and taken it to another judge, and Persky had made the headlines again with his treatment of another student athlete.

                                  More on this when Brown acts.

                                  JE comments: I'm still baffled. Why didn't anyone run against Persky?

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                                  • Stanford Rape Case (Bienvenido Macario, USA 08/31/16 4:57 AM)
                                    My understanding of the Stanford case is that the victim was "sexually assaulted digitally" while unconscious. There was no sexual intercourse involving male and female sex organs. The legal definition of rape is sexual intercourse without consent. I read that by law the accused should be charged with sexual assault, not rape. But the community wanted a sentence more than just six months in jail. A pound of flesh?

                                    In meantime, US Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte lost his lucrative endorsement deal(s) when it was revealed he lied about being robbed in Rio de Janeiro by men posing as policemen. However, security footage revealed Ryan and three other men were questioned by security for vandalizing a restroom in a petrol alley.

                                    Why can US politicians get away with, and even prosper, in their careers while lying, conniving and misrepresenting their constituents, while Olympians are ruined for doing a bit of exaggeration? Maybe Ryan Lochte should go to Washington DC.

                                    Finally, congratulations to our esteemed editor on the start of his 11th year as WAIS editor.

                                    JE comments: The answer to Bienvenido's question is that politicians don't get fat endorsement deals.  Gotta protect the brand.  I'm confident that Speedo would revoke its contract with Anthony Weiner too, if it had one in the first place. (!)

                                    Thank you, Bienvenido, for the anniversary wishes.  Ever since we met in 2001, I've considered you a good friend and one of WAISworld's most loyal citizens.  I wouldn't be here without your support.


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                                    • California Rape Laws: No Means No (Deborah Dupire-Nelson , USA 09/01/16 4:21 AM)
                                      In response to Bienvenido Macario (31 August), sexual intercourse is most certainly not required as an element of rape. Any vaginal or anal penetration, with any object whatsoever, in the absent of consent constitutes rape. (Only "yes" means "yes." When in doubt, don't.) Oral penetration without consent by a sexual body part also constitutes rape.

                                      While I write from California, it should be noted that rape laws may vary somewhat from state to state.

                                      JE comments:  Greetings to WAISer Debbie Dupire-Nelson.  It's always a treat to hear from her--although I'm sorry the context here is so disturbing.

                                      The debate in California is centered on changing the legal definition of rape, so that there won't be a repeat of the lenient six-month sentence imposed on the Stanford student.  The case has met with so much public outrage because of the belief that the elite often go unpunished for their crimes.  Would Brock Turner have received a longer sentence if he went to Foothill College? 

                                      Here's WAIS Synchronicity II for September 1st:  Guess who is scheduled to leave jail tomorrow?



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                      • Brexit, Scoxit, NIxit, The Bard, and The Somme (Edward Jajko, USA 06/30/16 1:13 PM)
                        Juliet did not ask "Where are you, Romeo?" even though so many people mistakenly read her lines so (Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?). She asks, "Why art thou Romeo?" So, to the non-Bardic question Patrick Mears posted on June 27th, "Whither Scotland and Northern Ireland?"--I've always wondered, not the where but the why. Of Northern Ireland, not of Scotland.

                        I'm not sure which Irish leaders will be rolling in their graves at the possibility of the unification of the whole island. As for Scotland, I wonder if there is a Stuart pretender out there, some Bonnie Prince (or Princess). Someone or other who may make a claim on the throne at Holyrood. And if Wales decides to split off as well, what happens to the Prince?

                        If Great Britain comes apart as a result of Brexit, will Scotland be invited to join the Commonwealth?

                        On Monday I was at my regular weekly afternoon music class, the last of the year. One of the other people in the class is an Englishwoman of a certain age, who, since she is English, is of course a Buddhist. She has lived in this country for many years, for quite a few of them as a faculty wife in Oklahoma but maintains ties with relatives back home in the Midlands. On Monday she was positively gleeful. I'm not sure what her opinion on Brexit was, but what brought her great cheer was how what she described as a little island in the North Sea had acted in such a way as to affect the world and to be in all the news.

                        As for another woman of a certain age, Angela Merkel, the news of the past couple days has carried reports of her warnings to the UK that its split from the EU must not be delayed and TV news has shown her presiding cheerfully over meetings of her fellow EU wizards. As an amateur observer, it seems to me that other than David Cameron, the one who is most responsible for the Brexit result is Angela Merkel, thanks to her Y'all come refugee policy.

                        The centennial of the first Battle of the Somme should serve as a reminder to members of the EU that Britain is part of Europe. So much English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish blood is part of the soil of Europe. France at the very least should acknowledge that price paid, even if it may make Merkel's Germany uncomfortable.

                        JE comments:  I'm trying to reconcile Brexit with the Somme of almost exactly 100 years earlier.  Are there similarities?  Send your thoughts.  Keep in mind that 20,000 British troops gave their lives on one day (July 1st), together with 7000 French and 8000 Germans.  One of the worst casualty rates (90%) was the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.  July 1st is Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, although it's Canada Day elsewhere in the nation.

                        Somme and Brexit:  High Water Marks of British pluck?  The common Tommy in the Great War came to call July 1st the Great Fuck-Up.  Let's hope the parallels with Brexit don't go that far.

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                  • Brexit Vote, Opinion Polls and Your Wallet; from Ric Mauricio (John Eipper, USA 06/24/16 4:52 AM)
                    Ric Mauricio writes:

                    Ah, many people scoffed at my analysis of the Brexit/Bremain vote utilizing the odds of Ladbroke's, but the truth is Ladbroke's betting is much like the markets themselves; people putting money where their mouths are. It is not just a poll where anyone can say anything with no consequence on what they say.

                    But I hope that many of you were able to take advantage of this opportunity and place your bets on the markets starting a week ago. But for traders, it is buy on the rumor, and sell on the fact.

                    Many WAISers are fond of asking "what ifs" for past events in history, but what if we can look forward and perform a "what if" for a future event. And now that the UK referendum is almost over, we shift our focus to the 2016 US presidential elections. My analysis came up with some surprises. First surprise was that amongst the voting Democratic/Republican totals, the Republicans outvoted the Democrats 51% to 49%. I guess being in California, where being a Republican is a minority, we tend to develop a mind bias that there are more Democrats than Republicans. Another interesting statistic: in the popular vote, Clinton got 27% of the popular vote, while Trump got 23%, with everyone voting for other than Clinton/Trump at 50%. Talk about not liking either of the top candidates. And of course, this is not counting all the independents.

                    And now onto the what ifs: If Clinton and Trump keep all their votes and added no votes from anyone else, the electoral college totals would make Clinton the president 63% to 36%. But if Clinton kept all her votes and added 50% of those Democrats who voted for another and Trump kept all his votes and added 50% of those Republicans who voted for another, Trump would win the electoral college 54% to 46%. Another scenario is if Clinton kept all her votes but added 75% of those Democrats who did not vote for her and Trump kept all his votes and added 50% of those Republicans who did not vote for him, Clinton would win 55% to 45%. Yes, a good illustration of every vote counting.

                    The states where it could go either way and where it matters the most are Texas, with 38 electoral votes, Virginia with 13 electoral votes, Wisconsin with 10 electoral votes, and drum roll please, Michigan at 16 electoral votes. This is why I think that Trump will pick Cruz as his running mate. And Clinton will have to pick Warner of Virginia or Julian Castro from Texas. Is there someone in Michigan that would make a good running mate?

                    JE comments: Anything "Castro" is a political liability in the United States, but Hillary picking a Texan could possibly swing the state to her column.  Imagine eight years from now, with (then) 49 year-old Julián and (then) 93 year-old Raúl heading their respective nations.  Fidel in 2024 will be 98.  

                    Would Ted Cruz lock up Texas for Trump?  Probably--but keep in mind that Cruz is far more popular with Tea Party conservatives nationwide than in his home state.

                    Is there VP fodder, D or R, in Michigan?  Can't think of any.  Ohio could yield two picks:  Gov. Kasich for the Republicans and Sen. Sherrod Brown for the Democrats.  (What kind of name is "Sherrod"?)

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                    • Sen. Sherrod Brown (Robert Whealey, USA 06/24/16 3:26 PM)
                      John E mentioned Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown as a possible VP pick for Hillary Clinton.  I have no idea what kind of name Sherrod is, but I have met him a half dozen times.

                      I first met Brown in 1988 when I asked him to support Dukakis for President. Brown was born in West Virginia and came to Ohio after getting a Political Science degree in Soviet Studies from Yale. The name "Brown" is well known in Ohio. Better than "Kennedy" in Massachusetts.

                      He won his first office in Ohio as Secretary of State on Governor Celeste's coattails. In 1988 he backed Governor Babbitt of Arizona on environmental issues. Babbitt was one of the first Democrats out of the Primary in 1988. Brown married a Lutheran journalist who writes for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

                      His # 1 issue today is fair trade over "free trade."

                      JE comments:  I misspoke earlier today:  Ohio has three "VPworthy" politicians.  David Duggan wrote to point out the other senator, Rob Portman, as a possible choice for the GOP.  Sen. Portman is a Dartmouth grad, together with David and me, and has a law degree from U Michigan.  When it comes to education, it's hard to beat the Dartmouth-Michigan combo.

                      The rub:  throwing your lot in with Trump could end your political career--unless, of course, you win.

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                • Peter and Paul; Nigel and Nigel (David Pike, France 06/24/16 4:35 AM)
                  Nigel Jones (23 June) has returned to WAIS after a long silence, and I note that my countryman has lost none of his combative spirit.

                  He complains that the referendum campaign has been vituperative, without a word about his own contribution. He writes of possible voter fraud "by the Remain campaign." He speaks of "the venom spat by our despicable Prime Minister David Cameron."

                  I am reminded of a favorite saying of our founding president, no doubt remembered by those from Stanford's Bolivar House. I heard Prof. Hilton say it elsewhere, in Toulouse and later in Paris: "What Peter tells us about Paul tells us more about Peter than it does about Paul."

                  I leave Nigel Jones to enjoy life in the cultural sphere of Nigel Farage, which I am mercifully spared.

                  JE comments: I sense David Pike's frustration, but today is a day of triumph for the Nigels. Our own Nigel (Jones) happens to be in France at present, reconnoitering the Somme for Historical Trips.


                  Besides basking in victory, what political future awaits Nigel Farage?

                  A question for David Pike: do you anticipate any Anglophobia rising in France?  How will Brexit impact the financial and legal status of the British living there?

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