Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the Perfect Poster Child for Bernie Sanders' Millennials

Senator Bernie Sanders was the Pied Piper of socialism to a generation of Millennials. They sucked it up, hook, line and sinker. Free! Free! Free! is quite a siren call to many. The nascent Democratic-Socialist wing of the Democratic Party blossomed. Alexandria Ocasio-Castro, a community organizer for Senator Sanders, upset Congressman Joe Crowley on June 28 in the primary for the 14th New York Congressional District overlapping the Bronx and Queens. She quickly became the new media star of the Democrats and the poster child of the Democratic Socialists. She is young, 28. If elected she will become the younger woman elected to Congress. She is a fresh face in the Democratic Party. She is articulate. She is energetic. She is telegenic. Alexandria Ocasio-Castro is also smart, contrary to some internet bloggers She graduated fourth in the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University, with a dual major in economics and international relations. Her message resonates with many of Bernie’s Millennials: Free Medicare for all Free college tuition Government jobs for all workers Elimination of ICE Impeachment of President Trump Too many Millennials are graduating deeply in debt with majors that, at best, get then low paying jobs. They don’t feel the traditional American Dream. The Native New Yorker proved last week that she’s not yet ready for prime time, which makes her perfect for many Millennials. Her answers to many questions display a degree of ignorance of economics and history. That she was an econ and international relations major makes you wonder what she was taught in college. She parrots much of the tripe she was exposed to in college and within her circle. Many college graduates today lack the ability to engage in critical analysis and critical thinking. Sadly, too many of the young generation are young, gifted and uninformed. She said our country was not founded on capitalism: “When this country started, we were not a capitalist – we did not operate on a capitalist economy.” Of course, it was. 90% of Americans lived on farms at Independence. Farmers are the epitome of independent capitalists. The other early Americans worked as merchants and traders, shipbuilders, fishermen and whalers, and small industrialists, such as the fabled Paul Revere, who was a coppersmith. The Pilgrims had tried socialism. It failed. The free loaders were sapping the drive and initiative of workers. She must have missed the course in economic history, unless it was a course in Marxism. She explained the country’s low unemployment rate as “Well, unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs.” ??????? Common sense tells us that the more people with two jobs, the fewer jobs available for others. She continued “Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their kids.” “And so, I do think that, right now, when we have this no-holds-barred, Wild West hypercapitalism, what that means is profit at any cost.” Free! Free! Free! Someone has to pay for it. Her position is clear: Taxes! Taxes! Taxes! She said, appropriately on Comedy Central: “If people pay their fair share, if corporations and the ultra wealthy, for example as Warren Buffet likes to say, if he paid as much as his secretary, if he paid a 15% tax rate … If we reversed the tax bill but raised out corporate rate to 28%. If we do those two things and also close some of those loopholes that’s $2 trillion right there. That’s $2 trillion in ten years.” That wouldn’t cover college or free medical care. She wants to end fossil fuels, but added “Now, if we implement a carbon tax so that we can financially incentivize people away from fossil fuels, that’s an additional amount, of a large amount, of additional revenue that we could have.” Where are the carbon taxes coming from if she eliminates fossil fuels? President Obama spent 8 years raising taxes, and correspondingly freezing the economy. Liberals always demand people pay their “fair share”, but never define “fair share” because any amount is never enough, as long as it’s not them. She actually understands taxation, or did a few years earlier. After graduating from college, she got jobs as a bartender in Manhattan and a waitress in a taqueria. A significant step was joining the Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator. She established a business in 2012, the Brook Avenue Press, to publish children books based in the Bronx. She pled for lower taxes: “You really don’t make a profit in your first year. To get taxed on top of that is a real whammy.” She was a fledgling capitalist. Capitalism is tough on entrepreneurs. Many fail at their first endeavour, but learn from it in their later efforts. Others give it up. As a resident of New York City in New York State, she resides in one of the highest taxed cities in America and one of the highest taxed states in America. The high taxes have not solved the growing inequality problem, such as in her economically poor Congressional District. She should have noticed in recent ads the New York State ads trying to attract business to New York, a ‘business friendly” state, according to the ads. She continued the standard liberal rant against the military: “Then the last key, which is extremely, extremely important is reprioritization. Just last year we gave the military a $700 billion budget increase, which they didn’t even ask for, They’re, like, ‘don’t give us another nuclear bomb,’ you know?” Ignorance, talking points and tripe! The total military budget is $700 billion, a $18 billion increase. If President Trump made such a mistake, the media’s “fact-checkers” would have crucified him. President Obama spent 8 years shrinking the military and the military’s effectiveness. It’s just getting back to speed. If she wants Medicare for all, she should check out the failing Medicaid, a government health care program. If she believes in a single payer, government run healthcare system, she should check out the two existing federal health care systems, those of the VA and Indian Health Service. They are a national embarrassment. President Obama failed to fix them. A big oops was her statement on Israel. Anti-Semitism is growing globally. The left wing of the Democratic Party has joined the anti-Semitism craze. Many express it, not as anti-Jew, but as anti-Israel. President Obama was clearly anti-Semitic, but he carefully couched it as anti-Israel and its Prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. May 15, 1948 was a sad day for many Arabs. They were driven off their lands seven decades ago in Palestine, giving rise to the refugees living in Palestinian refugee camps. They demand the right of return with an international BDS Movement (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) spreading across the world and many college campuses. Weeks of protests were planned in Gaza near the Wall. May 14, 2018 was exceptionally violent. Hamas encouraged its supporters to storm the wall, falsely claiming it had been breached. The Israeli military finally resorted to firing live ammo at the crowd. 62 Palestinians died and over 1,200 were wounded. Hamas subsequently admitted 50 of the deceased were Hamas members. The soon-to-be-elected Congresswoman said in an interview on PBS Firing Line: “What people are starting to see, as least in the occupation of Palestine, is just an increasing crisis of humanitarian conditions.” She called it a massacre. She was asked about the word “occupation.” She explained it as a human rights issue, and quickly added she supports a Two State solution. She quickly realized “occupation” was a bad choice of words. She tried a walk back: “Yeah, I mean, I think I’d also just – I am not the expert at geopolitics on this issue.” I thought she had a major in international relations. She’s weak in global developments, not just with Israel. The Jewish vote is large in Brooklyn and Queens, but not in her district, which only has a 4.1% Jewish population. The district is 49.5% Hispanic and 50% immigrants. Whites only comprise 18.41% of the population. She hasn’t learned the lessons of the Soviet Union’s demise, Cuba, and Venezuela, as well as China, Vietnam, India, and Israel before they turned to capitalism to improve the lives of their people. She should study the recent history of England, whose post-World War II economic distress was worsened in the long term by Prime Minister’s Clement Atlee’s turn to socialism. It didn’t recover until Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reintroduced capitalism to the country and economy. Alexandria is of Puerto Rican ancestry. She should look to the economic poverty of Puerto Rico even before Hurricane Maria. She should check out the hapless San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, who complained of the lack of support by President Trump while standing in front of relief supplies. She obviously believes in the power of government to solve our programs. If she read the New York Times, she would have seen a series of major articles on the increasing breakdowns of the greater New York City transit systems – all publicly owned. She probably doesn’t remember Vice President Joe Biden referring to the Port Authority’s La Guardia Airport as a “third world airport. If she frequently drives she should note the decaying roads and streets in the area. She might discover the deferred maintenance at many of our parks. The new face of Democratic Socialism won only 15,897 votes in the primary in a turnout of only 12%. That is not a ringing endorsement by voters. She's perfect for the Democratic Socialists.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

VELCRO is a Four Letter Word

Civilization has developed a seemingly infinite number of fasteners and connectors. They include steel fasteners, staples, paper clips, duct tape, invisible tape, masking tape, Scotch tape, strapping tape, nuts and bolts, rivets, cables and chains, hoses, pipes, funnels, tubes, welds, (lead) solder, nails and screws, hinges, hooks, hangers and latches, spacers, dongles, sprockets, pins, cotter pins and safety pins, rope, string, (shoe) laces, clasps and clamps, knots, e rings and o rings, anchors and hawsers, bindings, thumb tacks, adhesives, glue, epoxy, coatings, straps, buttons, belts, wire, twist ties, zippers, rubber bands, washers, dowels, whatever IKEA uses, and even handcuffs. I include stitches separately because my mom was once stitched with cat gut after a surgery. She was allergic to cat hair. Not a good idea! We didn’t need anything else. If 3M hasn’t thought of it, we don’t need it. George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, was walking in his garden in 1941 when he became obsessed. Burdock seeds were clinging to his coat and dog in 1941. He spent over a decade with the obsession. Finally in 1955 he patented Velcro. We now have, thanks to the Swiss engineer, the great, late 20th Century invention of the ubiquitous Velcro, a combination of hook and loop fasteners made out of fabric. They are the original clingons, predating Star Trek’s Klingons.. You cannot avoid Velcro. They propagate like rabbits. I have now acquired a strong, personal animus to Velcro. The doctors told me to wear a orthopedic boot because of a torn tendon. The boot is inconvenient, but short term. Velcro is the problem. I still have a few older ankle braces with laces. The laces have been replaced with Velcro on the newer braces and boots. Why? The laces worked great. The boot has three large and two shorter Velcro strips. The big straps are 22”x2”, the shorter straps are 11”x2”, which equals 176” of frustrating, elusive slack Velcros. Velcros are very independent minded. Even an isolated six inch Velcro strip is barely controllable. The Velcros may appear as inanimate objects, but they have strong family bonds. View the Velcros as 22” snakes. A loose Velcro will seek out and find another Velcro. Soon you have a tight knot of Velcro snakes wrapped around each other. You pry a 22” King Velcro free, and its tail will be magnetically attracted to the knot. Pry is the operative word because the Velcro snake fights to stay attached. You have to pry the Velcro apart, but first you have to find an end, which has burrowed into another Velcro or the boot. Three hands are needed to attach the one Velcro, and keep it attached, with four more straps to go. Some black Velcros hide, carefully camouflaged in the black boot. One Velcro went missing two nights ago. Cats are not loyal, They disappear for two reasons: 1) They got a better offer up the block; or 2) The coyotes got them. Neither applies to the Velcros. My premise is that the missing Velcro wandered off on its own to find another young Velcro, and like many young animals, start a new family of its own. But who do you call on a missing Velcro. “Officer, one of our black Velcros is missing. Yes, it’s AWOL, MIA. lost in space, playing hooky, tardy, ran away from home, looking for the bright lights of Broadway or Hollywood, couldn’t afford the rent,may be hanging out in bad company I don’t know. It’s gone. Yes, Officer, I know it doesn't make sense. The Velcro lacks area and legs, and even a soul, but it has slinkered off somewhere. I don't know where. Who knows what a Velcro is thinking? Can you put a Bolo out for the missing Velcro?” The SPCV, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Velcros, is not yet in existence. Velcros are not cute. No one falls in love with them, except for the late de Mestral. He was obsessed with Velcro No one kidnaps Velcros and hold them up for ransom. Taking the boot off seems easy, but as you loudly, emphasis on loudly, rip the Velcro strap off, you worry if you’ve ripped the boot or strap. What a piercing sound! 2,500 employees work in England for Velcro. Maybe Brexit will put an end to Velcro. Velcro has become a four letter word

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Is the European Union a Foe of the United States? Commissioner Margarethe Vestager Is

President Trump last week said “I think of the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade.” The EU may or may not be a foe, but Margarethe Vestager, the EU Commissioner for Competition, definitely is. She says she likes the United States, but her actions speak stronger than her words. She assessed a €4,342,865,000 fine against Google a few days ago, Google’s “sin” was giving the Android operating system for free to cell phone manufacturers on condition they preinstall a Google suite of apps, including Google Maps, Gmail, and the Google Chrome web browser The manufacturers were free to install other systems on their phones. Similarly. cell phone could can load competing apps on their phones. She held: “This of course will free up the market to allow mobile manufacturers to use other Android systems.” The Commissioner said: “Google has used Android as a vehicle to cement the dominance of its search engine. These practices have denied rivals the chance to innovate and compete on the merits. They have denied European consumers the benefits of effective competition in the important mobile sphere.” Every user of an Android based cell phone has the ability to load other web browsers on their android phones. If they don’t, it’s because they are satisfied with their existing options. Ask Microsoft why it failed on operating system for cell phones. Apple has always used its own system offering consumers a choice: Android or IOS. Nothing prevents Samsung, the largest mobile phone manufacturer, from developing its own operating systems. High tech winners and losers change almost overnight in the marketplace. For example, such highflyers a few years ago, as Nokia and Blackberry, which had their own systems, are now history. Motorola, once a highflier and now owned by the large Chinese computer manufacturer, Lenovo, is a shadow of its past success. Apple and the IPhone, the smart phone, disrupted the existing market. Many companies were slow in adapting to the new market. Motorola even used the Android system early. She held on August 16, 2016 that Apple got an unfair tax advantage from Ireland, and was therefore fined €14 billion plus interest. She assessed Amazon with a €250 million fine for back taxes to Luxembourg. A U.S. Treasury official in August 2017 said the Commissioner’s Office was acting like a “supranational tax authority.” An Obama Administration official called her staff “a bunch of plumbers doing electrical work.” President Trump told her boss “Your tax lady, she really hates the U.S.” EU law, in her view, precludes the member countries from extending special tax schemes to specific countries. EU member countries are discovering that they have given much of their national sovereignty to unelected nameless bureaucrats in Brussels, one of the reasons many Brits voted for Brexit.. Margrethe is no longer an unelected, anonymous, nameless, faceless bureaucrat. She is being touted as the next President of the EU, the reward for smiting the United States, albeit still unelected. She currently has a 900 unelected, bureaucratic staff for whom she is the public face. She reflects the underlying problem of Eurosclerosis in a May 9, 2017 Bloomberg/Business Week article: “A well-policed economy yields the largest and most widespread benefits for society.” Much of continental Europe believes the government rather than the market is the source of economic success. England had Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations. The Continent historically chose statism. The Commissioner also said “If you want to do business in Europe, you must play by the European Rule Book.” What Rule Book? The only rule book is apparently what Commissioner Vestager wants it to be. No formula exists for assessing damages. It’s apparently up to her Ouija Board. She gave Google 90 days to change its behavior or Alphabet, Google’s parent company, would be fined 5% of its global revenues Her dictat was simple: “Google has to stop this behavior.” Her decisions have the impression of being legal, but she is the judge, jury and executioner. Her fines are effective immediately, albeit they can be placed in an escrow account pending an lengthy appeal to the European Court of Justice. The Google fine is not her first attack on American hightech firms, not even on Google. She fined Google €2.4 billion two years ago for giving preference to Its sites ahead of others. A third round is coming up against Google by the Commissioner. Google was not the pioneer in browsers. Remember Netscape, Internal Explorer (Microsoft), and Yahoo. Sergei Brin and Larry Page, two Stanford graduate engineering students, used Stanford’s algorithms to create a new web browser. They devised a new way of charging advertisers – pay by the click. They called the company Google. They beat out the existing web browsers by offering a superior product. Microsoft is down to 7.28%. Firefox (Mozilla), a non-profit is in second place with11.8%. The high-tech industry moves so fast that yesterday’s leaders are quickly condemned to the ashcan of history. Margrethe may think she’s wiser than the market, but she’s wrong. She fined Qualcomm €997 million in January 2018 for abusing market dominance in LTE baseband chipsets. The company is accused of paying Apple to use its chips on condition it doesn’t buy them from others, specifically Intel. Intel can take care of itself. Exclusive dealing contracts are very common in business. They often yield economic efficiency, and thus savings for consumers. A major purpose of antitrust law is protecting consumers against being gouged. The reality is that consumers have benefitted. If Apple thought it could save money elsewhere it would have done so. The EU added a new charge against Qualcomm three days ago. It is accused of selling chipsets below cost to drive Nvidia/Icera Corp. She fined Facebook €110 million in May 2017 for its acquisition of What’sApp. We have a proven anti-American animus on her part. Her predecessors were also antagonistic to American high-tech companies, taking off against the Wintel combination (Microsoft, Intel) Intel was fined €1.06 billion in 2009. Microsoft was fined €497 million in 2004 for anti-competitive activity. Microsoft had also run afoul though of antitrust law in the United States. There’s a wonderful video of Bill Gates’ oral deposition in which he came across as something less than brilliant. She explains her acts by saying “This is protecting European consumers. This is our mission, these are our vary basic values.” She said at a November 2017 tech summit in Lisbon: “We need to take our democracy back” from social media. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in her earlier life as a Danish politician, had upset an union. The union presented with a plaster hand with the middle finger extended in the universal one finger salute. She keeps it on office desk. The Finger has many levels of symbolism.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Complexities of Brexit and British Prime Minister Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May and the Complexities of Brexit 71.8% of United Kingdom voters went to the polls on June 23, 2016 in a referendum on the European Union. Polls strongly showed they would vote to stay in the UK and reject Brexit. Polls in the United States presaged an overwhelming victory for Hillary Clinton. The UK and US polls were wrong. Both ballots reflect a rejection of the status quo globalism of the establishment. British voters were motivated by three main concerns unaddressed by the establishment, overlapping those in the United States. First was economic. The professional class and finance industry in London were prospering, but the traditional working class was left behind and ignored. Second was the edicts and regulations, especially on employment and environment, coming out of Brussels. Anonymous, unelected bureaucrats in the EU were telling Britons what to do. England, which had successfully defended its independence since 1088, was losing its sovereignty. Third was the edict to accept masses of refugees. England, like France and Belgium, was overwhelmed by the refugees, some of whom engaged in terrorist activities. A backlash was growing throughout the EU over the refugees. The vote to leave was 51.9% to exit and 48.1% to remain. The British were dived. England (53.4% - 46.6%) and Wales (52.5% - 47.5%) to exit, while Scotland (38% - 62%) and Northern Ireland 44.2% -55.8%)voted to remain in the EU. Major divisions exist within the EU with the risk the Scots would opt out of the UK. The establishment, led by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, strongly pushed for retention in the EU. He resigned shortly after the vote. Theresa May, his successor, also opposed Brexit, but vowed to implement it. A complete break with the EU may sound easy, but it’s not 1776. Complexities exist. The first is the currently open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. That border would have to be closed under a total Brexit. Second is the custom free trade within the EU. Many UK manufacturers, such as the auto industry, depend on just in time inventories with parts imported from throughout the EU. The free movement of goods between the EU countries and lack of tariffs would end, causing supply bottlenecks and disruptions. The third is the problem of expatriates. An estimated 1.2 million UK citizens live in other EU countries and conversely 3.7 million EU citizens reside in the UK. Can they stay, who will continue to pay their pensions, and cover their medical expenses? The fourth is the European financial industry, which is currently centered in London, and is a large provider of jobs and economic wealth in the UK. The fifth is that of the 28 countries in the EU only three, Cyprus, Ireland, and the UK are common law countries. The other 25 are civil law countries. The laws and constructs vary greatly between the two legal systems. The sixth is that the British Establishment still opposes Brexit, and the Prime Minister is, at best, lukewarm about Brexit. The British are very upset with decisions by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), especially in terrorism cases. The ECHR though is based in Strasbourg, France and is independent of the EU in Brussels. A split with the EU would not affect the relationship with the ECHR. The European Court of Justice is part of the EU. She has been frightened by the Apocalyptical tales of economic disaster if Britain withdraws from the EU. She wants to keep the UK economy closely tied to the Continent’s. The Conservative Power, Tories, are split over Brexit. The establishment members are “Remainders,” remain in the EU. Then comes the hard Brexiters, for whom out means out. In between are the soft Brexiters, out for some purposes, in for others. A soft Brexit is not a full Brexit, perhaps a ¼ - ¾ Brexit, but probably closer to a “remainder.” The idea would be to selectively keep the best of the EU and ditch the rest. Article 50 of The Treaty on European Union requires a two year notice for countries to withdraw from Brexit, but is silent on the terms of withdrawal. Parliament gave notice. The UK will leave the EU at 11PM, London time, on March 29, 2019. Preliminary negotiations with the EU reached agreements on three points. 1) The amount the UK owes the EU- £39 billion; 2) UK expatriates in the EU and EU expatriates in the UK; and 3) Northern Ireland borders. In addition, an agreement was reached to include a 21 month transition period to December 31, 2020. Prime Minister May originally said “Brexit means Brexit.” She said she wanted “a clear exit.” She made a major political mistake by calling a snap election for June 8, 2017. She expected the Tories to increase their majority in the House of Commons. Instead, they lost their majority and rely on the 10 votes of the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland to form a coalition government. She expected to strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU. Instead she holds a weaker hand with reduced leverage. The Prime Minister summoned the Tories to Chequers, the country home of the Prime Minister, two weeks ago. She announced on Friday, June 30 an agreement by the MP’s. She had laid down the law to the MP’s. Either they were united in supporting her proposal for leaving the EU, or they could welcome Jeremy Corbyn, the Labor Party leader, to 10 Downing Street as the next PM. She basically said “It was her way or the Corbyn Way.” She proposed a soft Brexit, centered on keeping the UK in the EU single market and the EU Customs Union. She argued her plan was “the best way to honor” the Brexit vote. Prime Minister May proclaimed “it would take control of our money, our laws, and our borders.” She said the UK would no longer be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The Prime Minister called it a reasonable and credible proposal.” She has said to the British people “I will not let you down.” She exclaimed with her proposals: “They voted for us to take back control of our money, our law, and our borders. That is exactly what we will do.” Or not? The devil is always both in the details and what the EU will ultimately agree to.. Her plan includes a common rule book on industrial and farm products, but become independent in services. The common rule book for trade will not be from London, but from Brussels. She proposed a non-regression clause. The existing EU rules on climate change, environment, social and employment, and consumer protection will be adopted by law in the UK, subject to the right of Parliament to later change them. Defections quickly followed Unity was short lived. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, the flamboyant former Mayor of London and perhaps future PM, called it a “turd,” hardly a proper term for a high government official. Boris was one of the leaders of the Brexit campaign and a strong advocate for a full Brexit. He said the proposals amounted to a “semi-Brexit” with the “status of a colony. He added “The dream is dying, suffocated nu needless self-doubt.”” Boris Johnson and David Davis, Brexit Minister, quickly resigned from the Cabinet, as did several other hard Brexit officials. Ian Duncan Smith, a former Tory leader, stated “I voted to leave, not to half-leave.” The government subsequently issued a White Paper, “The Future Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union.” It proposes an “Association Agreement” between the UK and EU. 1) The UK will follow common rules on trade in goods; 2) The UK will collect duties at the ports on foreign goods entering the UK in commerce and duties on goods in transition between the UK and EU. The UK will thereby be a partial tax collector for the EU, with duties often different between the UK and EU tariffs. 3) Commitment to ongoing harmonization with EU regulations 4) UK-EU disputes will be decided by an independent arbitration panel 5) Payments to the EU It leaves open four areas for future cooperation: 1) An economic partnership between the UK and EU; 2) Security cooperation; 3) Future cooperation in areas, such as aviation and nuclear power; and 4) An “institutional framework to enforce the agreement.” A possible “reciprocal’ with the EU for payment of limited benefits and social security. Dominic Raab, the new Brexit Minister, called the White paper ablueprint for a “principled, pragmatic, and ambitious partnership between the U.K. and the E.U.” The Prime Minister said the White Paper “delivers on the Brexit people voted for.” She’s not putting it to a new referendum though. Many opponents of the PM’s proposals view them not at Brexit or soft Brexit, but as Brino, “Brexit in Name Only.” The strum and drang is not even about an actual bill. It is simple an opening negotiating proposal, for which the EU will respond. The “White Paper” is simply an opening offer to the EU. Rumors are that the EU powers are unhappy with it, but are holding off formally responding. They believe time and leverage are on their side. Prime Minister Theresa May wants to selectively pick and choose the parts of the EU she wants to continue. The EU officials may be quiet now, but they previously indicated that approach is unacceptable. The UK will not be allowed to pick the best parts and walk away from the remainder. Yet the U.K. has leverage. We should assume that in these troubled times for Europe that its leaders would not welcome the chaos involved in a hard, drop dead Brexit on March 29, 2020. The UK is too big an economic market currently integrated into the EU to ignore. The PM’s negotiating posture seems to be that of President Obama; 1) Start with strong words; 2) Follow them with a soft proposal; 3) Give them the money in advance, and not use as negotiating leverage; 4) Respond to objections by the other party to softening them more; and 5) Basically concede to the opposing party. Presidents Obama and Trump have unsurprisingly taken opposite positions on Brexit. President Obama received little criticism for intruding in the British electoral process, while President Trump, unsurprisingly, had been roundly criticized by the American media. President Obama warned the British voters prior to the Brexit vote that if Brexit passed, the UK would then be “at the back of queue” of future trade talks with the United States. President Trump criticizes the Prime Minister’s negotiating technique and warned that if her proposal is approved then there would be little chance of a bilateral trade agreement between the UK and US. He said her plan is not what Britons voted for. The British survived and proposed for 1,000 years, including building a great empire, by retaining its sovereignty independent of Continental Europe. Much of the global market lies outside Europe. The European Union is not a unitary body. Norway has an “association” participation and 9 of the 28 members, including the U.K., retain their own currency. Successfully navigating Brexit through both the U.K. and the E.U. would be a challenge for the greatest of politicians. It’s a long road to March 29, 2020. We will see if the Prime Minister is up to the challenge.

Monday, July 9, 2018

How Not to Spend the 4th of July in London: Have Your IPhone X Stolen

I gave a talk in Brighton, England Saturday. We came to London early to enjoy the greatness of the City How though do you spend the 4th of July in England? The 4th is certainly not a Holiday for the Brits. They do not want to commemorate the loss of their first empire in North America to some unsophisticated Colonials. They have a memorial in St. Paul’s Cathedral to General Cornwallis but it doesn’t mention his inglorious surrender at Yorktown. Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne, the bon vivant playwright politician general with four children by a mistress, lies in Westminster Abbey, which leaves out his surrender at Saratoga. England has so many heroes in the glorious history of its empire that it need not recognize the losers. The British are proud of their empire. They are proud that they peacefully granted independence to Australia, Canada, India/Pakistan, New Zealand, South Africa, Egypt, Iraq, and the scores of other colonies, dominions and protectorates. They are proud that most have remained in the British Commonwealth of Nations, and that a few have even stayed as British territories. They are not proud of having been kicked out of the 13 colonies and having the mighty British Army humiliated twice by the Americans, including Andrew Jackson’s crushing Wellington’s best at New Orleans in 1815. Yes, they kissed and made up, but they don’t forget. Jorge Carro, a Cuban refugee who became the Law Librarian at Ohio Northern and then at the University of Cincinnati, said many times in his inimical Cuban accent “Ye may forgive, but ye never forget.” The British have not forgotten. The 4th of July goes unmentioned by the Brits, even in their multitude of newspapers, on the 4th. Why discuss the 4th when there’s Wimbledon and the World Cup? We could go to the American Embassy for their 4th regalia and spectacular, but weren’t invited. So I got snarky. Why not wear a cap with the American Flag and the words United Sates? The Brits would not understand the meaning, but it was the 4th! I knew; my wife knew. Mistake, the Empire struck back against this non-British descendant colonial. To use a British phrase, “Blimey, my IPhone was pinched.” I realized it within 100 yards, but it was too late. It was already in use elsewhere with busy signals. Contacted Apple, contacted AT&T. The phone is now dead. Both were very helpful. They said to file a police report. The London Metropolitan Police were very sympathetic. I apologized for bothering them with a stolen IPhone when real crime is being committed. They wished me well with the remainder of the stay. It’s amazing the information they could pull up on this colonial. Went to the insurance company on line. Very helpful; a new phone will arrive once we return. It’s amazing what they could pull up about me online. Another manifestation of my warning to Torts students: “Very little is private today. The less privacy we have in the computer age, the more we desire.” We have become wedded to our cells. Yes, we feel naked without our cell, but the loss of a phone is only inconvenient, especially while traveling. It’s only an inconvenience – not tragic; a new phone became available in a few days. It’s a blimey inconvenience to change a ton of sign-ons and passwords, but that’s an inconvenience that should be periodically performed anyway. The real loss is the hundreds of pictures, which had not yet made it into the Apple Cloud. There’s still memories and photos on the Nikon. A lesson I learned today is that the dead phone had life after death, chewing up GB’s of usage. The Sim card was still alive in another phone. AT&T had not killed the Sim card! AT&T confirmed today that the activation of the replacement IPhone with a new Sim card killed the old sim.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Why the Kerfuffle Over the Supreme Court Appointment?

Roe v. Wade Pro-choice v. pro-life Roe v. Wade is the litmus test for Democrats. Other issues are affirmative action, environmental protection, immigration, labor rights, LGBTQ rights, police actions, social justice, and voting rights, but Roe v. Wade is the ultimate litmus test. No political leeway is allowed on that issue. The jurisprudential debate is simple. The liberals believe the Constitution is a living document, to be changed with the times - by judges if necessary. The plain words of the Constitution are no longer binding. They are activist judges. The conservatives follow the Justice Scalia perspective. It’s called originalism: follow the words and intent of the drafters to the greatest extend possible. The United States is governed by the Rule of Law, not the Rule of Man (Woman). If the Constitution means whatever five justices want it to be, then we are no longer governed by the Rule of Law and our liberties can easily disappear rather than expand. The path to changing the Constitution is through the Amendment Clause rather than by judicial legislation. The amendment process is very difficult; only 27 amendments have been ratified in 229 years. The amendments include freeing the slaves (13), granting citizenship to the feed slaves (14) and the voting rights to African Americans (15) and women (19) the right to vote, eliminating the Poll Tax (24), the direct election of Senators (17) and the first ten amendments, known as The Bill of Rights. The 18th Amendment, Prohibition, was a bad one, being repealed by the 21st Amendment. The 16th Amendment provided for the income tax. The 26th Amendment lowered the voting age to 18. The 22nd Amendment limited the President to two terms of office. The constitution is not a declaration of social justice, but justices, such as Justice Sotomayor believe it is. Thus it can be stretched and rewritten as they wish as long as they can win a majority vote of the panel, five out of four on the United States Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy was the fifth and deciding vote in many cases this year. The Warren Court dramatically rewrote the Constitution by creating new rights. Democrats realized that they could achieve through the judiciary that which is impossible legislatively for human rights, social justice,and victim compensation. Five Supreme Court justices can rewrite the Constitution as shown by a series of 5:4 decisions. Five Supreme Court justices can affirm the Constitution as adopted. A change in justices can turn a 5:4 decision into a 4:5 decision and vice versa. What goes around, comes around in politics. The Democratic Senate under Senator Harry Reid eliminated the filibuster for district court and court of appeals judges so that they could stack the lower courts with liberal justices. This Republican Senate under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has eliminated the filibuster for supreme Court justices. Thus Democrats have to mount a vicious full court press in an attempt to deny a ninth justice, a conservative justice to the Court even before they know who the nominee is. Justice Anthony Kennedy recently served as the swing vote in many critical decisions. Many thought he was unpredictable, but in fact he was a strong adherent of First Amendment Rights, personal liberties, and often the environment. Thus his strong support of Roe v. Wade and gay marriage. It is widely believed that Justice Kennedy would have joined the conservative block in striking down capital punishment. Elections have consequences. The last four Supreme Court confirmations did not change the composition of the Court: two liberals for two liberals and two conservatives for two conservatives. The sturm and drang was political posturing those times. This time the belief is that an appointment of another justice like Justice Neil Gorsuch will change the balance, perhaps for decades. The fear is also that another justice, probably one of the liberal justices, will leave the Court during the next 2½ years, giving President Trump an even greater chance of changing the Court. That works both ways though. Liberals are concerned that a majority of the Court will routinely reverse some of the liberal interpretations that stray from the meaning of the Constitution. The standard for Supreme Court appointments was deceptively clear not that long ago. The President would appoint the best qualified person, usually from the President’s party. That meant a white male Protestant. The Court is now diverse by ethnicity , gender, race and religion. In fact, the present Court has only one Protestant, Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic, but attends Episcopalian services. The standard now is the best politically qualified appointee who can most likely be confirmed. Conservatives do not want another Justice David Souter on the Court. He was billed as conservative, but was in fact liberal all the way. Someone did not do due diligence. President Eisenhower called Chief Justice earl Warren his worse appointment. He could also not have been too happy with Justice William Brennen. The odds are that President trump is not going to ask the candidates their view on abortion. Nor are they likely to volunteer it. They will probably talk about their judicial philosophy – that of Justice Scalia. My view on Roe v. Wade is that of Professor Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She liked the outcome, but believed it was wrong for the Court to do so. I believed then, as I believe today, that issues as contentious as abortion and the right to life should be decided by the body politic, be it by the legislature or a referendum of the people, as can be done by voters in California. Judicial legislation does not resolve these issues. A different problem exists in the Court reversing Roe v. Wade. The decision is based on Griswold v. Connecticut, which granted a right to privacy in the marital bedroom, and since been expanded. It will be difficult, but not impossible for clever jurists, to reverse Roe v. Wade without impinging on Griswold v. Connecticut. Even Judge Robert Bork in his confirmation hearings said he would not reverse Griswold v. Connecticut. His nomination was still defeated, with Senator Kennedy launching a vicious attack on him. The attacks on the distinguished judge became known as “Borking.” Their nominees will be closely scrutinized by both sides, looking for even a single word or past act that might endanger their nomination. This nominee, he or she, will be Borked. It will probably make the hearings on Justice Thomas seem mild. Too much is at stake for the Democrats. They must fight to the end on this nominee.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Explain the Country Known As England to Me: It Just Doesn't Make Sense

England should not exist as a country. It makes no sense. They can’t even agree on a name. Is it England? Britain? Great Britain? Little Britain? United Kingdom? UK? Isn’t England the UK? Five names for the same island nation? Or should be go back to Britania? They have several choices for a national anthem: God Save the Queen, Land of Hope and Glory, or the popular Jerusalem. Is England different from the UK? Is their flag the Union Jack while the Navy flies the St. George’s Ensign? England, back to England, has no constitution, but an unwritten constitution which Parliament can change at any time. The Monarchy is a constitutional monarchy, but there’s no constitution! The Queen, the Monarch, is the head of state, but can only approve legislation passed by Parliament. She can’t veto or change proposed legislation. The purpose of the Crown seems to be Pomp and Circumstance, dedications, a source of material for TV shows and movies, and marketing royal marriages to commoners. The Crown recently married off a Prince of the Realm to an older divorcee, who’s an African American actress. The country made it through centuries with no formal Bill of Rights, but has adopted the Human Rights of the European Union, which it is about to drop out of. Brexit? Are they in? Are they out? Are they maybe in or out, or partially in or out? Does the Prime Minister, who opposed Brexit but now supports it, even know? The country is similarly mixed up on measurements, sometimes using metric and sometimes Imperial Units. They speak English funny, drive on the wrong side of the road, drink warm beer, and enjoy a bland cuisine featuring fish and chips. They’re not even sure if Shakespeare was Shakespeare or even know if Robin Hood existed, but they fervently believe the Lock Ness Monster, “Nellie” as they affectionately call her, exists. They’re puzzled by Stonehenge, a collection of rocks. Their greatest hero, James Bond, has been portrayed by Australian, Irish, and Scottish actors. Fleet Street still publishes real, large size newspapers, an oxymoron in today’s world. They play a boring form of football, often ending in 1-0 scores. The women wear those gaudy hats, which look like they came out of a menagerie. Vangelis, a Greek, composed the theme to the The Chariots of Fire movie about their greatest Olympic champions, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell. They celebrate the 803 year old Magna Carta as the birth of British rights, but it simply resolved, temporarily, a tiff between lords and the despised King John. It had nothing to do with the rights of the common man or woman. Only three provisions have meaning today. Parliament is the ultimate law giver. It’s an historical anomaly. Power rests with the House of Commons, the elected lower house. The increasingly eviscerated House of Lords can delay but not block a bill. The Lords, once hereditary, now mostly appointed, can propose legislation and send back to the House of Commons, but that's it. Why keep the House of Lords? King Richard, the Lionheart, acclaimed as their greatest king, hardly ever sat foot in England after his Coronation at Westminster Abbey, probably couldn’t speak English, and is buried in France; yet a 30’ statute of him sits in front of Parliament. Parliament Square contains statues of famous Brits as well as foreign leaders. One is of Jan Christian Smuts, a South African leader who became commander of a large Boer unit during the Second Boer War. The British Army never defeated him. Smuts became Prime Minister of South Africa, a Field Marshall in the British Army, and an advisor to Winston Churchill. He lost reelection after World War II, just as Winston Churchill. Churchill's loss led to Britain's socialism and Smuts' loss tragically gave rise to Apartheid. British history has many great leaders starting with Queen Boudica in A.D. 60. The greats include royalty, prime ministers, and military. The greatest of all was Winston Churchill, who was only half British. His mom, Jenny Randolph, was American. The Brits claim a special relationship with America, a people who kicked them out on July 4. 1776, and then mauled Wellington’s best at New Orleans in 1815. They adore Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years as the British Empire reached its apogee. Yet when her husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861 she became a recluse. Scotland Yard is the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service. It has nothing to do with Scotland. Scotland Yard still can’t solve after 130 years the greatest cold case in its history: Jack the Ripper. England has several great universities. Two, Cambridge and Oxford, collectively known as Oxbridge, which sounds like a town in the Midlands, are always ranked among the world’s greatest. They don’t even make sense. They are both public and private universities, but their individual colleges are legally independent entities. You can’t even apply to both colleges for undergrad, and, if admitted, aren’t necessarily admitted to the constituent college of your choice. Bus drivers are in a league of their own. They love double decker buses, but the tour bus drivers seem to underestimate the height of low lying bridges, scraping the top off their buses. They sold London Bridge to Arizona and the Queen Mary to Long Beach. That's apparently a manifestation of the special relationship. Its great car marquees, Bentley, Jaguar, Range Rover, Rolls-Royce are foreign owned as is the world famous Harrod’s Department Store. On the other hand the country retains the non-marble Elgin Marbles and Gibraltar. How could a tiny island with a small population create a global empire covering ¼ of the planet and ¼ of world’s population – totally unfathomable How could a country of shopkeepers establish an global empire? How could the great empire exist in a country of rampant poverty. Obviously it was to see the world, to escape confinement on a dreary, wet island. Ironically while the natives fled the island, expatriates from the former colonies have flooded England. The Scot Irish in Ulster want to remain in the United Kingdom, but the Scots in Scotland want out. The country took 400 years to create the greatest empire in the history of the world, and dismembered it in a decade. Explain to me why ????? is a country