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Shared Sacrifice


UNLV student Daniel Waqar resents that Hillary Clinton will receive $225,000 to speak at his school in October. He writes at The College Fix:

If the former secretary of state speaks for 90 minutes, that would be $2,500 a minute, about the cost of a semester’s tuition for a UNLV student. Lost in the partisan rancor of her speaking fee was this question: Who needs the money more, hardworking students buried in student loan debt paying for their education, or a seasoned politician raking in six figures on a regular basis?

True Confessions from Cat World


Even though I am basically National Review’s official Crazy Cat Person, I have never enjoyed reading books or essays about cats. I can — like, judging from pageview stats, hundreds of millions of other Americans — spend hours upon hours watching cat videos. But people’s writing about cats leaves me cold; it seems as dumb and uninvolving as the typical family’s Christmas letter. (Yeah, I get it: Your cat knocked the coffee cup over onto the keyboard. I guess you had to be there.)

Well, Feline World may finally have its Poet Laureate. A fellow named Tim Kreider has an essay in the New York Times titled “A Man and His Cat,” and it is a riot. A sample:

Childless people, like me, . . . tend to become emotionally overinvested in their animals and to dote on them in a way that gives onlookers the creeps. Often the pet seems to be a surrogate child, a desperate focus or joint project for a relationship that’s lost any other raison d’être, like becoming insufferable foodies or getting heavily into cosplay. When such couples finally have a child their cats or dogs are often bewildered to find themselves unceremoniously demoted to the status of pet; instead of licking the dinner plates clean and piling into bed with Mommy and Daddy, they’re given bowls of actual dog food and tied to a metal stake in a circle of dirt.

. . .

[My cat and I] collaborated on my foot-pedal pump organ to produce The Hideous Cat Music, in which she walked back and forth at her discretion on the keyboard while I worked the pedals. The Hideous Cat Music resembled the work of the Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti, with aleatory passages and unnervingly sustained tone clusters.

. . .

I admit that loving a cat is a lot less complicated than loving a human being. Because animals can’t ruin our fantasies about them by talking, they’re even more helplessly susceptible to our projections than other humans. Though of course there’s a good deal of naked projection and self-delusion involved in loving other human beings, too.

The piece is only some 2,000 words long, but I wanted to quote five or six other passages from it in this post. Suffice it to say: If you have a thing for cats, or if you simply enjoy witty, engaging prose, you should read it.


Republicans Could Catch the Wave Even in Hawaii This November


Hawaii may be about to turn out of office the man who was once known as Barack Obama’s favorite governor. Neil Abercrombie, an often pony-tailed 76-year-old relic of the 1960s who knew Barack as a little boy, was swept into office in 2010 after Obama cut a TV ad touting his old friend as an “inspiring leader.”

Since then, both men have floundered in office and seen their approval ratings dip to around 40 percent. Abercrombie saw his tax increases rejected by the Democratic legislature and managed to alienate labor unions as well with his abrasive style. A new poll taken for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser shows him trailing state senator David Ige in Saturday’s Democratic primary by 18 points.

If Abercrombie survives his primary he will be a distinct underdog against former GOP lieutenant governor Duke Aiona, who lost to Abercrombie in a landslide in 2010. But this year, Aiona leads Abercrombie by 45 percent to 30 percent thanks to the presence in the race of independent Mufi Hannemann, a former Democratic mayor of Honolulu. But even an Ige primary victory may not save Democrats in the fall — the Star-Advertiser poll has Republican Aiona beating Ige by 41 percent to 34 percent because a quarter of the state’s Democrats would back a GOP candidate. 

Aiona insists he is “not a party person,” and he would no doubt govern in the moderate style of former GOP governor Linda Lingle, whom he served for eight years. But any Republican serving statewide in Hawaii would be remarkable and would mean some reduction in the influence of the state’s powerful public-employee unions. In the last 38 years, Republicans there have won precisely two elections for governor or U.S. senator — the two terms won by Lingle in 2002 and 2006. 

Web Briefing: August 21, 2014

Obama Thinks Ex-Im Supports Free Trade


President Obama thinks that the tea-party opposition to the Export-Import Bank contradicts the conservatives’ traditional support for free trade.

“There is no doubt that a thread has emerged in the Republican Party of anti-globalisation that runs contrary to the party’s traditional support for free trade,” Obama told The Economist in an interview published Saturday.  “How the Export-Import Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) became targets for Tea Party wrath is a little strange to me. But I do think there remains a consensus within the American business community that ultimately we benefit from trade. I am confident that we can get AGOA reauthorised and refined, given the lessons learned from the first round of AGOA. And the truth is that the amount of trade between the United States and Africa is so small relative to our overall economy that in no way should it be perceived as a threat.”

Obama equates globalization with free trade; conversely, he regards opposition to Ex-Im as protectionist. It’s as if he thinks that the North American Free Trade Agreement only includes the words “free trade” because it also mentions North America, i.e., multiple countries. 

The president doesn’t seem to understand that it’s “free” because the government isn’t interfering with it. Or maybe he thinks that it’s “free” because the government is helping the business make a deal, rather than imposing a rule that explicitly impedes trade. (In short, he thinks that being pro-business is the same as being pro-free-market — something he rarely states so explicitly, given his preference for accusing Republicans of trying to “rig the system for those at the top.”)

The paradox of Obama’s position is made even more explicit in question posed by The Economist interlocutor, who seems to think that China can do a better job of engaging in free trade — so much so, that it ends in a joke about how nice it would be if Obama were a dictator:

The Economist: The other advantage the Chinese have is they don’t have Congress. Well, they have a congress but it’s somehow more compliant, to use your word this morning. We could both agree that one of the great things would be to have more free trade in Africa if you could push people. But you face the danger that Congress may give up on the Export-Import Bank and may also get in the way of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). These could frustrate your policy.

Mr Obama: There’s no doubt that—

The Economist: You’d rather be a dictator. (Laughter.)

Mr Obama: Let’s just make sure that we note that that was not my quote. (Laughter.)

What the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney suggested for Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012 is still true: “Instead of merely attacking Obama for redistributing wealth, [Republicans] could point out that Obama often redistributes it upward, to the drug companies with their double-digit profit margins and to the likes of Boeing and General Electric. A Republican who believes in free enterprise has a great opportunity, thanks to Obama’s corporatism.”


It’s the Law


Slate offers an example of how dumb laws effectively get ignored out of existence. Those of you who have been to Miami will be amused to know that a local law makes it a crime to “knowingly sell to, serve, or allow a homosexual person to consume alcoholic beverages, or to knowingly allow two or more homosexual persons to congregate or remain in his place of business.”

In Miami, this is. A municipality that offers domestic-partnership benefits to public employees. Miami, where the local gay-business directory lists at least 17 gay bars, a half-dozen gay gyms, pages of gay hotels, a gay bathhouse, and a gay bicycle shop. 

Like Obamacare, it’s the law.

Connect the Dots


A new poll shows that in constituencies that look set to be a close fight between Labour and Conservative in the 2015 general election, 31 percent of UKIP support comes from voters who voted Tory at the last general election, and only 18 percent from those who voted Labour. 

As a reminder, a three percent showing from UKIP in 2010 was enough to doom the Conservatives’ hopes of an absolute win.

Meanwhile, in the Daily Mail, Simon Heffer (a journalist very much on the right), notes:

Facing the nightmare prospect that Ed Miliband will win next May’s general election – partly because hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of former Tory voters are so disillusioned by Mr Cameron’s style of government and by his version of Conservatism that they plan to vote Ukip – the party’s grandees will, I am convinced, make a humiliating U-turn. Although they have doggedly refused to entertain the idea, they will have to consider an electoral pact with Ukip, or face at least five years out of government. The man who, I believe, will have to tell Mr Cameron is his increasingly powerful adviser Lynton Crosby. Already, the pressure is mounting, with the Tories’ electoral prospects looking increasingly grim.

First, the voting system is skewed in favour of Labour after Nick Clegg disgracefully broke a promise to support overdue reform of parliamentary boundaries. Second, the continuing strength of support for Ukip, with most of its backers being disgruntled Tories, greatly enhances Mr Miliband’s chances of getting into Downing Street. Indeed, Ukip is registering 14 per cent of support in some voter surveys, and one poll this week suggested that Mr Miliband could become PM if just 9 per cent vote for Ukip.

It will take even less than nine percent to achieve that.  Will there be a UKIP/Conservative pact in 2015? I doubt it. Too much bile has passed under the bridge. The electoral calculation is also more complicated than Heffer suggests (“Together, the two parties polled more than 51 per cent of the vote in May’s elections, against 25 per cent for Labour. This proves that, at heart, we are a right-of-centre nation.”): a Conservative/UKIP pact would please many supporters (or potential supporters) of both parties, but it would antagonize quite a few too.

And now, what’s this? Why, Boris Johnson, the Tory mayor of London, is shambling onto the scene, a Brutus, possibly, to Cameron’s Caesar (no, that’s too kind: Caesar actually won things) with this (reported in the London Sunday Times):

Boris Johnson will warn David Cameron this week that he must be prepared to leave the European Union if he wants to get a better deal from Brussels.

In what will be seen as a throwing down of the gauntlet, the mayor of London will say the UK should “not be frightened” of quitting the EU. Johnson’s position is in stark contrast to Cameron, who has repeatedly insisted that he wants Britain to stay and is prepared to lead the “in” campaign during the referendum expected in 2017. With expectation growing in Tory circles that Johnson will announce a return as an MP next year, he will on Wednesday endorse a report by his chief economic adviser, Gerard Lyons, which has concluded that quitting the EU would be much better for Britain than remaining in on the current terms.

Johnson will back Cameron’s plans to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Brussels before an in-out vote and he will argue that the UK can secure a good deal. But Tory sources say the mayor has privately told Cameron that he needs to give himself more “ammunition” to get what he wants out of the renegotiation by leaving the door open to an exit from the EU.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Lyons said: “The UK can only achieve serious reform if it is serious about leaving. It can only be serious about leaving if it believes this is a better outcome than the status quo of staying in an unreformed EU. This report concludes that that is the case.”

Delightful that Johnson’s advice to Cameron that the bottom line in any renegotiation has to be a willingness to quit is described as “private”. Sure, Boris, sure.

My own view continues to be that any renegotiation with the EU will be a fruitless and destructive exercise, of use only (perhaps) as a vivid demonstration to British voters (undoubtedly still nervous about the consequences of a Brexit) of the extent to which their country is loathed by its EU ‘partners’ some of whom it helps fund and, in many cases, defend. Nothing will be better for the UK relationship with its neighbors than to end its participation in this toxic union once and for all.

Meanwhile the hard-line eurofederalists over at the Financial Times have taken a look at the report that Johnson has commissioned, and begin their report thus:

London could lose more than a million jobs if Britain quits the EU….

Before adding a rather important qualifier:

…and fails to adopt more outward-looking trade policies, according to a report commissioned by London mayor Boris Johnson.

One of the reasons, of course, for quitting the EU is, of course, to enable the UK to, well, adopt more outward-looking trade policies, rather than to be forced to follow the course of those now still set—as the appointment of Juncker (a stale, broken-down apparatchik who would have no place in any system where democratic accountability was worth a damn) reminds us—on steering the EU faster and further down its course of continuous economic and political decay.

The FT has the honesty to include this (my emphasis added):

Mr Lyons, a former chief economist at Standard Chartered bank, said that leaving the EU was “definitely a viable option”. He pointed to modelling by Volterra, an independent economics consultancy. Volterra predicted that London’s GDP would grow from £350bn to £640bn by 2034 if Britain stayed in a reformed EU, against just £495bn if the UK remained in an unreformed bloc. But if Britain pulled out and adopted an open trading regime, the capital’s economy could still grow to £615bn over the next 20 years, only slightly less than under the first scenario.

And as there is no realistic possibility of meaningful reform…

Rubio: Immigration Reform Will ‘Never’ Pass in One Comprehensive Bill


Comprehensive immigration reform will “never have the support” to pass, and an alternative approach of passing reform in stages may be a better solution, Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) suggested on Fox News Sunday. While there may be differences on how to address the issues facing immigration, there is consensus in what needs to be address: border security, modernizing the immigration system, and deal with the immigrant in the country illegally.

“We’re not debating what to do — we’re debating how to do it,” Rubio said. “I’m just telling you we will never have the votes necessary to pass in one bill all of those things — it just won’t happen.”

Rubio, who was a member of the “Gang of Eight” who worked on the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill, would not directly say if he was advocating for the new approach to reform, but offered up the reality of such a bill’s chances.

“Our choices are we can either continue to beat our head against a wall and try a process for which we will never have the support, or we can try another way that perhaps we can make progress on,” he said.

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

Morell: Upcoming ‘Torture’ Report Interviewed Not a Single Person Involved


CIA deputy director Michael Morell says that the soon-to-be-released report on the United States’ use of “torture” against enemy combatants following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has a major methodological flaw: “Not a single person who approved the programs, or who was involved in the programs, were interviewed by the committee, not a single person.”

Morell, appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation, offered a striking analogy: “If a reporter filed a story without doing a single story, I think they would be fired.”

How could this happen? asked guest host Norah O’Donnell. Morell’s pointed response: “I think that is a good question for the committee.”

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

Democratic Rep.: I Voted Against Iron Dome Funding to Achieve Cease-Fire


Representative Keith Ellison (D., Minn.) justified his recent vote against additional funding for Israel’s missile-defense system as part of an effort to reach a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

“Because a cease-fire is what we should prioritize now,” he said when asked to explain his vote on Meet the Press. “A cease-fire protects civilians on both sides — it doesn’t just say, ‘We’re only concerned about people on one side.’”

He pointed to the devastation he witnessed during his trips to Gaza.

Additionally, Ellison penned an op-ed in the Washington Post earlier this week calling on Israel to “end the Gaza blockade.”

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

Bloomberg: In Israel’s Situation, What Would America Do?


“Can you imagine if one of the contiguous countries to America were firing rockets at America?” asked former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on CBS’s Face the Nation. “The same people who are criticizing the Israelis would be going crazy demanding the president does more.”

To guest host Norah O’Donnell’s question of whether Israel’s latest attacks on Gaza had gone too far, Bloomberg responded: “Israel cannot have a proportional response if people are firing rockets at their citizens.”

“Unfortunately,” said Bloomberg, “if Hamas hides among the innocent, the innocent are going to get killed.”

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

Remnick: Obama Admin ‘Rather Light on Executive Orders’


The Obama administration has been “rather light on executive orders,” says David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker.

Because of that, “this business about a lawsuit and talk of impeachment is pathetic,” added Remnick, a panelist on ABC’s This Week. “It is a very sad spectacle, and history will look back on this Congress with a very, very critical eye.”

Later in the show, Remnick insisted that it was shameful that a majority of the Republican party was in favor of impeachment.

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

Democratic Rep. Confronted about Dems’ Efforts to Impeach Bush


There’s merely chatter about some Republicans wanting to impeach Barack Obama, but congressional Democrats actually took legislative steps towards impeaching Republican president George W. Bush, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace pointed out to Representative Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.).

Jeffries argued that then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table, but Wallace noted that John Boehner did the same earlier this week when he called impeachment talk “a scam started by Democrats” and said House Republicans had no plans to do so. Jeffries brushed those comments aside, saying that Boehner has no credibility.

Representative Steve King (R., Iowa) jumped into the discussion to pointed out that prior to Jeffries’s time in Congress, and during the Bush presidency, the Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee held hearings about impeachment against Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

Steve King Brings Up the ‘I’ Word


Representative Steve King (R., Iowa) didn’t actually say the word “impeachment,” but outlined that executive action on immigration should be a trigger for Congress to consider the process.

“None of us want to do the thing that’s left for us as an alternative,” King told Fox News Sunday. “I think Congress has to sit down, have a serious look at the rest of this constitution, and that includes that ‘i’ word that we don’t want to say.”

He clarified that he hopes the president doesn’t put Congress in a position to explore the possibility of impeachment. “I only say that now on this program because I want to encourage the president, ‘Please don’t put don’t put America into a constitutional crisis — please don’t do that,’” King said.

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

Pfeiffer: ‘The President Has No Choice but to Act’


The failure of Republicans to pass comprehensive immigration reform and other immigration measures means that “the president has no choice but to act,” says White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Pfeiffer criticized opponents of the president’s potential executive action for perpetuating “uninformed speculation.” According to Pfeiffer, the president has not yet received from advisers information about what immigration actions are available to him under the law. “Let’s wait and see what those are before we judgments,” said Pfeiffer.

Whatever the president does, adds Pfeiffer, “will not be a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform.”

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

Pfeiffer: ‘Boehner Has the Gavel, but Ted Cruz Has the Power’ — in the House


White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer might need a civics refresher. “In the House of Representatives,” he said on ABC’s This Week, “Speaker Boehner has the gavel, but Ted Cruz has the power” — senator Ted Cruz, that is:

The remark came in response to host George Stephanopoulos’s query about the possibility of impeachment. Stephanopoulos noted that it is primarily Democrats, not Republicans, who have been stirring up impeachment talk — something National Review Online’s Andrew Johnson observed recently, as well.

To Stephanopoulos’s point that multiple Republican leaders — including the Speaker of the House — have insisted they are not considering impeachment, Pfeiffer parried that just before last year’s government shutdown, House leadership had insisted that they would not allow the government to shut down.

Tags: Sunday Shows August 3 2014

‘A Time for Choosing’: Sessions on the Looming DACA Fight


Here is the statement from Jeff Sessions last night on the border action in the House:

I applaud the hard work of House Republicans in putting together this package, and in particular would like to recognize the steadfast and unflinching efforts from members of our Alabama delegation.
The border bill has been substantially improved, and provides a marked contrast to the Senate Democrat bill—defeated on a bipartisan basis—that would have deepened the crisis.
Most importantly, the House has taken a firm vote today to block the President’s plan to provide unlawful executive amnesty and work permits to 5-6 million illegal immigrants. They have again acted to protect U.S. workers. President Obama’s suspension of immigration law created this crisis and his new plan, if implemented, would escalate that crisis to an unimaginable degree.
While the Republican House has voted to protect our constituents and our Constitution, Senate Democrats have abandoned both in the face of this clear and present danger. Indeed, last night, all Senate Democrats except one voted to thwart the Republican effort to stop the President’s illegal actions. All but one Democrat voted with their Senate leader instead of the people who sent them here.
But the fight in the Senate is only beginning. Now that the House has passed this measure to block the President’s unlawful actions, we will demand that every Senate Democrat be held to account. We will fight, and keep fighting, for its passage. I appeal tonight to all Americans: ask your Senators where they stand on President Obama’s executive amnesty. Ask them where they stand on protecting unemployed citizens from a plan which will give work permits and jobs to millions of illegal workers.
Senators face a time for choosing: to be complicit in the nullification of our laws, or to end this lawlessness and create an immigration policy we can be proud of. Mr. Reid: you and every single member of your conference will face this choice. On the defining issue of our nation’s laws and sovereignty, there is nowhere to hide.

A New Calvary, a Good Man, and a Sense of Place


The new movie Calvary, which opened on Friday, is reminiscent of the best works of Graham Greene — and not just for the obvious reason that its main character is a Catholic priest who has a drinking problem and is being threatened with a violent death. On a much more fundamental level, it belongs in Greeneland because it’s about how man copes with the evil that has been a fundamental part of the human condition.

It’s a highly unusual movie, in that the priest is depicted as a very good man. In recent years, because of the sex-abuse scandal and also because of other political agendas, there have not been many works of popular culture in which clergymen or -women have been treated as positive role models. (I understand that Mindy Kaling, on her sitcom that I have never seen, had a boyfriend who was a Lutheran minister and a good guy. If there are other exceptions, please let me know!) In this case, the priest is a big, rangy, earthy, and warm-hearted fellow (well played by Brendan Gleeson) who tries to offer spiritual consolation and encouragement to his small flock in an Irish seacoast village.

In the film’s first scene, the priest is sitting in his confessional, where he is confronted by a decidedly non-penitent man — who says he was the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of another priest when he was a boy, and that, in retaliation, he will kill our hero seven days hence. The film then follows the priest through his weekly labors, as he tries to do his regular tasks and figure out how to deal with his impending appointment in Samarra. The village is populated with a colorful and engaging cast of supporting characters, who collectively give him plenty of work to do.

The movie is called “Calvary” because its theme is sacrifice as the way of coping with sin and the damage that sin causes. (To solve the problem of crime, the guilty are punished. To solve the problem of sin, in the Christian understanding, it is the innocent who is punished.) Yes, it’s a movie about serious issues, but it’s lively and fast-paced; and one of its great revelations for me was the beauty of County Sligo, Ireland. One of the most beautiful women I have ever met was from Sligo; she was a waitress at the Irish Times bar near Union Station in Washington, D.C., about 25 years ago. The Sligo shown in the film is a lot like her: simultaneously picturesque — even pretty — and rugged; sparkling on the surface, yet with a very tough, dense core. I have not seen many films with such an accomplished, thoroughgoing sense of place that they evoke reflections on real people who might belong in the frame. In other words, the film’s Sligo is not a setting in the sense of a backdrop; it is a place, one that real people can believably come from. (In contrast, it is easy to watch, say, The Untouchables and not think for a moment that a place called Chicago actually existed, or that one might have encountered people who come from there; and the Dan Brown movie adaptation Angels and Demons doesn’t make one think of the real Rome or of actual Romans one has met.)

I was skeptical about this movie because, frankly, I have already seen too much cultural product about the priest-sex-abuse crisis — and too much of it cookie-cut to serve predetermined agendas. This is a movie with a much broader subject. In the climactic scene, the main characters talk about Moby-Dick, and the reference seems quite appropriate. This is a film about sin, the damage done and the price paid.

Something Wicked This Way Comes


Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Allister Heath frets that Jean-Claude Juncker, the sleazy Anglophobic mediocrity who will shortly be taking over the EU’s bureaucracy, is going to take a run at the UK’s financial sector:

 Enough is enough. The City of London is Britain’s most important industry and we can no longer allow the European Union to trample all over it. Over the past few years, we have all too often turned a blind eye to the EU’s increasingly vexatious attacks on financial firms, largely because few politicians had the self-confidence to be seen to be taking the side of bankers. But with the Brussels machine now gearing up for an intensification of the hostilities, it is time for the British Government to become much more forceful in its defence of our economic interests.

There are two immediate dangers; both require a considerably more vocal response from the Government than we have seen so far. The most worrying development by far is that Jean-Claude Juncker, the incoming European Commission president, is considering the creation of a powerful new financial services directorate that would oversee the City.

Given that David Cameron sought and failed to block the appointment of Mr Juncker, a man who has frequently expressed his disdain for traditional Anglo-American capitalism, this should be seen as payback time for the UK. Rather than seeking to make the financial system more robust, while promoting free trade in services (which was the single market’s original justification), the new directorate is bound to concoct endless new schemes to weaken the City, hitting British growth and jobs. It will be run by people who neither understand nor value markets, who will be ideologically hostile to financial capitalism and who will be seeking to get their own back on the UK.

This settling of scores will be about more than Mr. Cameron’s humiliatingly unsuccessful attempt to block Juncker’s appointment. Juncker, one of the architects of the single currency that has wrecked the lives of millions of Europeans, has never forgotten or forgiven the way that free markets eventually showed up the euro for the reckless and destructive gamble it always was.  He won’t want to risk a repeat.

Back to Heath:

The EU has long contained two opposing intellectual forces: a socialist, corporatist and inward-looking strand, which sees the European project as a vehicle to protect the Continent’s welfare states from globalisation; and a classical liberal, pro-competition tendency that seeks to use the single market to enhance efficiency. It is clear that the first side has emerged victorious, at least when it comes to financial regulation. Mr Juncker’s new directorate will institutionalise the European Commission’s war on the City and will epitomise all that is wrong with the EU.

Heath is too kind. The corporatist strand has “won” in many more areas than financial regulation, as it was almost certainly always bound to. The classical liberal side was not a natural fit for the EU: it was a graft that in the end could not take, and (in retrospect) was probably never going to.


One of the great lessons of the financial crisis is that bank bosses and regulators need to be experts who can actually understand the difference between a credit default swap and a collateralised debt obligation. We have learnt that lesson; Brussels hasn’t. The result will be that growth will be reduced and business will gradually migrate to rival financial centres such as New York or Singapore. For Britain, this will be a disaster. The financial services industry and its employees paid £65 billion in tax in 2012, 11.7 per cent of total receipts, according to PwC, the accountants.

The industry’s contribution to the public coffers is huge: without it, taxes on the rest of us would have to soar or public spending would have to be slashed. As long as they are prudently and honestly managed, we need more banks, insurance companies and hedge funds, not fewer, and we need them to employ as many people as possible in the UK. Britain’s decision to allow the EU so much control over the City was an act of extreme foolishness for which we risk paying the price for years to come.

Britain accounts for 61 per cent of the EU’s net exports of financial services. Yet we have just 72 out of 736 seats in the European Parliament and only 12.3 per cent of votes in the Council of Ministers. We can easily be outvoted and therefore cannot defend our most important industry, even if we were minded to do so. Our pusillanimity in this area has been pathetic, and stands in stark contrast to the way other countries have fought for their national interests.

Pusillanimity. Good word. But sadly something even more dispiriting than that is at play: David Cameron has repeatedly failed to demonstrate that he either understands or cares about the threat that the EU poses to Britain’s national interests or, for that matter, what’s left of its democracy.  And even if he does change his tune, there are good reasons for doubting that he has the sophistication, guile or toughness needed to fight his country’s corner against its ‘partners’ in a perverse enterprise in which Britain is the second largest net financial contributor, but is treated like a pariah. Business as usual should be off the table. Scorch some earth: Veto, obstruct, and never, never, never give up (as someone once said).  Throw in some linkage too. To take one example, Britain’s military resources have dwindled dramatically, but they still count for something in a region where many countries have replaced their armies with faith in the supranational order and expressions of ‘grave concern’. The UK should not therefore do more than the bare minimum under its NATO obligations to help those of its supposed allies who, in an EU context, prove to be anything but.

The best outcome continues to be for Britain to quit the EU, using the Article 50 exit procedure provided for by the EU Treaty to engineer the reasonably civilized divorce that would be the best way to drain the poison out of the UK’s relationship with the continental neighbors who ought to be its friends. This won’t be easy, but it is a more realistic option than the ‘one leap and we’re free’ approach argued for by far too many euroskeptics. Sadly, Cameron shows no sign of taking it. 

House Passes Revised Border Bill


House Republicans passed the the revised border bill 223 to 189. 

The vote fell nearly along party lines: one Democrat, Texas Representative Henry Cuellar, joined the Republican majority. Four Republicans — Representatives Thomas Massie (Ky.), Stephen Fincher (Tenn.), Paul Broun (Ga.), and Walter Jones (N.C.) — voted against the bill.

The House will vote on language freezing the DACA program later this evening.

Gutiérrez: Migrant Kids Are Confused About DACA


Children coming into the United States are confused about whether they qualify for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to Representative Luis Gutiérrez  (D., Calif.), who said that criminal enterprises are enticing children with false promises of a “permiso.”

“I have 15-year-olds in my office today, who came to my office today, and you know what we told them? ‘You don’t qualify for DACA.’ Why? Because they came here four years ago, when they were 11, and they weren’t here by 2007,” Gutiérrez told reporters Friday evening as the House prepared to vote on a border supplemental bill and legislation freezing the DACA program.

Gutiérrez continued:

You had to be like seven or eight in 2007 to be 15 today to qualify for DACA. Look, here’s what I do believe happened: the criminal enterprises that exist in El Salvador and Guatemala said, ’Hm, let’s confuse the people. Let’s use lies and falsehoods to entice people to pay me $6,000 under a false premise and a false promise.’ I mean, if I ask you for $6,000 just to get you to the border, you might say, ‘maybe;’ if I say, ‘hey, by the way, once I get you there you get permiso, a permit, it’s a very different thing. And what they’re talking about — a permit is really, I believe is, you’re required to show up under the law. I think that’s what they’re talking about. I don’t know, I’m not a part of the criminal enterprise, but you can imagine. So do I think that there is some of that going on? I think there is some of that going on.

That’s very similar to the analysis offered by Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) and other immigration hawks at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Gutiérrez.

“Ninety-five percent said ‘we are coming  because we’ve been promised amnesty,’” Cruz said in early July. “‘We are coming because if we get here, we were told that we are allowed to stay, that we will have a permiso.’”

Gutiérrez denounced the freeze on the DACA program championed by Cruz and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), describing the legislation as a sop to “the very extreme, right-wing, xenophobic faction of their party.” 


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