“That side is in opposition to the violent, authoritarian thugs of the right and of the left. If we regain our faith in what we already have, there’s no reason to choose between rival siblings competing to rule over the ruins of everything that’s worthwhile on behalf of their illiberal family.”
“Sooner or later… one has to take sides—if one is to remain human,” Haider writes, quoting a character from Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. “The liberal center has to heed the same warning,” Haider adds. But the character Haider quotes is a member of Vietnam’s Communist party—which killed “probably about 1,040,000″ people in the post-Vietnam War period, after it came to power over the united country, as estimated by the late Prof. R. J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii…That’s an unpalatable side to pick in any situation.”
That’s the argument that British economist Andrew Lilico made recently in an interview with Vox’s Timothy Lee—that while Britain has gained from being part of the EU, both entities will be better off apart, and that the split, while upsetting to markets in the short term, will ultimately pave the way toward long-term gains for both, with the EU becoming stronger and more unified in a way that it simply couldn’t with Britain attached. Britain, in this thinking, helped set EU culture early on, but was simply too independent to ever fully integrate with the continent. Post-Brexit, basically, the EU is free to become the United States of Europe.
I’m a little less confident that this scenario will play out. Britain’s exit from the EU is just as likely to lead to more sovereign squabbling and a further breakdown of the EU. But ultimately even that might be better in the long run, as the EU as it stands is a deeply dysfunctional governing body that has consistently proven itself unable to effectively respond to the challenges it faces. The design of the EU is inherently awkward: Its monetary union is undercut by its lack of a fiscal union, and its attempts to maintain some level of national sovereignty are undercut by its power imbalances andanti-democratic elements. The structure is inherently unstable.
Regardless of which way it goes, the Brexit vote is likely to spur the EU to take action and move beyond its current unstable equilibrium. It’s as clear a sign as any that the EU can’t go on doing what it’s been doing. It’s a wake up call, basically. So while there are certainly risks to a dramatic move like this, that’s a good thing overall.
In the meantime, Britain is probably better off no matter what. If the EU moves toward becoming the smoothly functioning super-state that Lilico hopes for, then Britain will have helped make that possible. And if the EU continues in its dysfunction, or breaks up further, Britain will have extricated itself, protecting its own interests.
Brexit might spur U.K. reforms.
So now in Baltimore, which has the nation’s seventh-highest violent crime rate, the nonracial word “thugs” is banished as racist — even when spoken by a black mayor. Thus the degradation of the public discourse proceeds.
Meanwhile, Rawling-Blake’s forced walk-back was nothing compared to the self-mortification of Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, two gay hoteliers in New York who hosted a small reception for Senator Ted Cruz on April 20. The business partners, longtime backers of gay-rights causes, strongly disagree with Cruz on same-sex marriage, but share his views on foreign policy. They invited a dozen guests to meet the Republican presidential hopeful over dinner for a discussion of politics. Apparently they were under the impression that in America it is permissible, even admirable, for voters to talk to politicians, exchanging thoughts on a range of issues.
They know better now.
Gallup doesn’t ask people if they are libertarian, but fortunately other polls have asked that question in various ways. In 2006 the Cato Institute commissioned Zogby International to ask 596 voters this question: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?” Fully 59 percent of the respondents said “yes.”
Then Zogby asked the same question of the same number of voters, but this time they added the “L” label: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian?” David Boaz recounts the results:
The addition of the word “libertarian” clearly made the question more challenging. What surprised us was how small the drop-off was. A healthy 44 percent of respondents answered “yes” to that question, accepting a self-description as “libertarian.”
For the second year in a row, the Associated Press has analyzed just-released federal data and declared that the Obama administration has set new records in withholding access to government files and censoring the information it does provide:
The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.
It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.
Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000.
There is also the issue that people are filing more FOIA requests than ever, too, costing more than $400 million to deal with. One could make the argument that the increasing scope of the government and the increasing number of rules and regulations directly lead to the increased request for records as people try to keep track of all the different tentacles of the gigantic federal kraken.
What sorts of things are being censored out of documents? The government is only supposed to redact personal information, but here’s what the AP found:
Both warned the world of mortal dangers that others ignored, in hopes that those dangers would go away. In the years leading up to World War II, Churchill tried to warn the British, and the democratic nations in general, of what a monstrous threat Hitler was.
Despite Churchill’s legendary status today, he was not merely ignored but ridiculed at the time, when he was repeatedly warning in vain. Knowing that his warnings provoked only mocking laughter in some quarters, even among some members of his own party, he said on March 14, 1938 in the House of Commons, “Laugh but listen.”
Just two years later, with Hitler’s planes bombing London, night after night, the laughter was gone. Many at the time thought that Britain itself would soon be gone as well, like other European nations that succumbed to the Nazi blitzkrieg in weeks (like France) or days (like Holland).