Brexit April Fool’s day joke could be nearly over

I haven’t been following closely enough but my previous comments on Brexit since June 2017 seem to have held up reasonably well:

https://c21stleft.com/category/brexit/

Latest development is that the Tory party no confidence vote to remove Prime Minister May and replace her with nobody in particular has of course imploded. I didn’t predict that because I didn’t predict there would be such a vote. The reason the minimum required 50 letters to trigger a vote were not submitted long ago, despite far more Tory MPs than that having no confidence in May was that if she won, no further attempt could be made for another 12 months. This is intended to ensure such votes are called only when there is a clear replacement available with majority support (in which case the party leader would usually resign anyway). It was intended to avoid the recent shambles in both parties in Australia. Since May was appointed as a stop gap after Cameron blundered into the Brexit referendum and there is no plausible replacement I had no reason to expect that the 50 letters would suddenly appear.

Since she won by about a two thirds majority it is either yet another example of sheer irrationality and tactical ineptitude making the situation too unpredictable for analysis, or else some clever tactical maneuver that was intended to create the current situation. Given that the European Court of Justice had just announced that Britain does not need EU consent to end Brexit it could be certainty on that point has increased resolve among Tories who want to get it over with so they signed some of the 50 letters.

The level of understanding of these issues in “The Australian” is indicated by a report from Ticky Fullarton:

“Yesterday came news that the European Court of Justice ruled that Britain could delay Brexit beyond March 29. Were Johnson or any other alternative to take over they will need such a delay.” (p29 Tuesday 2018-12-11)

This of course is nonsense. The announcement was that Britain can unilaterally cancel its withdrawal notice under Article 50. It cannot unilaterally change the 2 year delay specified by Article 50 that was triggered by Britain’s unilateral notice. The impact is to reinforce that it is either the ridiculous deal offered, a “no-deal” crash from Brexit or “no Brexit” and it is entirely up to Britain to make its choice. This did not help Johnson or anybody else wanting to have their cake and eat it.

Ok anybody could make a mistake about the implications of news that is only a day old. But the same nonsense was repeated the next day, so nobody noticed.

Anyway, the current situation looks to me like this:

1. May cannot be replaced as Tory party leader until long after the current March 29 deadline. Johnson et al are now visibly irrelevant.

2. No deal that the EU could accept can be accepted by the current UK Parliament. There is no reason to expect the underlying reasons for that would change after a general election.

3. Nobody with any real influence wants the UK to have just crashed out with no serious preparations on April Fool’s day. This will now be admitted by everybody except those with no influence. Most support for Brexit was in fact based on the assumption that the UK could have its cake and eat it. Only a small fringe really want a well prepared Brexit with no deal. Pretence at preparations will cease and the bluff will no longer be available as a “negotiating tactic” so further pretence that the UK has anything to negotiate with will become pointless, which need not prevent such negotiations being vigorously pursued and solemnly debated, but does mean the negotiations won’t get anywhere.

4. The EU has no reason not to graciously allow a postponement of the deadline while the UK sorts itself out and both sides stop wasting resources on preparations for “no deal”. The whole point of most of the maneuvering has been to reduce the damage from hysteria whipped up by lying Brexiteers screaming “betrayal” to distract attention from the sheer absurdity of what they mendaciously promised and a majority of voters temporarily fell for. Refusing a postponement would only help the hysterics.

5. The EU also has no reason to let the farce of the past two years go on until after the next scheduled fixed term UK election 5 May 2022 or while people still governing the UK are threatening to crash out without paying their bills and with no deal. So the postponement will either have to result in:

5.1. A vote for an early election by a two thirds majority of the House. This would require a large number of Tories to support a vote for losing their seats earlier than they currently hope. There is no obvious reason why they would do this given that the outcome of such an election could not fundamentally alter the current situation.

5.2. A no confidence vote in the House that results in Corbyn forming a minority government. Possible if a much smaller number of Northern Ireland DUP and other Tories simply abstrain so that the Labour party gets stuck with the mess while the Tories sort themselves out. They would prefer a minority Corbyn government to the risk of a majority Corbyn government. Whether heading a majority government formed by election or a minority government, Corbyn could either put up a pretense of attempting to negotiate some other form of Brexit in Name Only – BRINO or “put it to the people” by holding another referendum.

5.3. Attempts by May to negotiate another form of BRINO, again ending up with “put it to the people”.

6. It would be theoretically possible for either Corbyn or May or somebody else to negotiate something similar to EFTA membership like Norway. This would do no great damage to the UK or EU or global economy but just reduce “Great Britain” to a similar importance to Norway in EU affairs, bound by the same rules, including free movement of labor, but with no vote. It would not defuse the hysterics about “betrayal” and would leave its supporters looking foolish. The EU might not object to such a BRINO since it would remove British obstructionism slowing down the ever deeper union. But Norway might not welcome it in the EFTA. So I would say, possible but less likely than the only other alternative – “put it to the people”.

7. My guess is that there is nobody stupid enough to call another referendum until the result is quite certain. So there will be lots of carrying on until a convincing majority are committed to ending Brexit.

8. No way to tell how long that will take but I think it could soon become reasonably obvious that this is the direction and the “negotiations” will most likely end with the end of Brexit rather than any BRINO.

9. It certainly doesn’t seem to be obvious to most of the media now. Strongest confirmation for my expectation that “no deal” is no longer a significant danger and “no Brexit” is now far more likely than any BRINO comes from Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of “The Australian” with the diretly opposite view:

“Although I would trust no one’s forecasts on this – least of all my own – it would seem that the no-deal Brexit or the no Brexit at all are about equally likely.” (p12 Thursday 2018-12-13).

Greg Sheridan has excellent reasons not to trust his own forecasts as he never has a clue. But this level of self awareness is something quite new. He used to be confident as a reliable echo of whatever the US State Department wanted Australians to think. Since there are no coherent briefings coming from the US these days, “analysts” like him have been left completely floundering in “a deep miasma or newilderment and uncertainty” as he said of the stock market last Saturday (p20):

“No one in British politics — no one — knows what’s going to happen.”

“May’s crisis is just one part of a broader crisis across the Western alliance that makes the global strategic environment more fluid, more uncertain, potentially more dangerous, that at any time since at least the end of the Cold War.”

In the absence of State Department briefings all he can do is echo British media that is divided between expecting a “no-deal Brexit” and “no Brexit at all” just as the “Stubborn May Crippled by Bexit Monster” (p12) said before winning a two thirds majority confidence vote.

Notes on Trump 39 – Democrats on about obstruction of justice and Russia again

I was wondering whether Trump getting Session’s resignation refuted my previous claim that Trump was deliberately playing up conflict with his Attorney General so liberal media would rally behind the Attorney-General that ends up prosecuting somebody. It was certainly strong evidence that I was wrong as the Democrats didn’t seem to make much of a fuss after having claimed any move to replace Sessions would be obstruction of the Mueller inquiry and a constitutional crisis.

Despite Trump’s best efforts the Democrats did not carry on much about Russia during the mid-terms and seemed resigned to the fact that the Mueller inquiry doesn’t look like delivering them from Trump.

But now it looks like they are falling for it AGAIN:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-22/donald-trump-jeff-sessions-mathew-whitaker/10517430

Scheduling acting appointments during vacations to avoid obstruction in the Senate is a long established practice. Obama needed it a lot because of a hostile Senate. If there was to be any replacement of the Attorney-General it was certain to be during the vacation after the midterms as even some GOP Senators had indicated they would hold up confirmation of any replacement. But I didn’t think there would actually be a replacement.

Now it turns out that Democrats have found a way to help Trump’s effortless maneuvers to get them to keep digging that hole.

There are over a 160 instances where a vacation appointment has promoted a replacement who has never been confirmed by the Senate for any office at all. So three Senators are asking the Supreme Court (which no longer has a liberal majority) to declare the latest such appointment unconstitutional.

If they succeed, they will have driven home the message that Jeff Sessions should be treated as trustworthy. That could be embarassing if he gets reappointed to fill the vacancy.

But there is little danger of them succeeding. The point is simply to make a fuss and carry on about the vital need to protect the Mueller inquiry thus further embarassing themselves when it winds up without saving them from Trump. Looks like they are committed to keeping the Trump obstructing justice “Russia thing” in the news just as Trump keeps begging them to. What I didn’t guess was that the way to ensure they kept digging that hole would be to follow up months of threatening to sack Jeff Sessions with actually doing it after merely repeating the threat had worn thin.

Brexit danger fading

Looks like danger of serious disruption of globalism from Brexit is fading.

1. Current “deal” would be BRINO (Brexit In Name Only) and has no chance of passing.

2. All but a tiny minority of rabid Brexiters agree that crashing out with no deal would be a disasterous accident and was just a negotiting bluff that did not work. This report indicates there will be sufficient votes to block legislation needed now for dealing with that possibility.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/18/labour-keir-starmer-force-amendments-block-no-deal-brexit

3. If such legislation is indeed blocked that leaves only the options of holding a referendum to drop Brexit now or forming a new government that can attempt further negotiations.

4. New Government could be formed in 3 ways. Different Conservative Prime Minister, minority Labour Prime Minister Corbyn or general election after 2 weeks with no government. EU would happily delay current March deadline to allow that to be sorted out.

5. None of those three possible outcomes could plausibly lead to either crashing out with no deal or a deal that seriously weakens EU or globalism. More likely some arrangement like Norway or Switzerlnd, or simply remaining in EU after a referendum.

6. The liars in both UK media and Australia who supported this bullshit are now focused on blaming Theresa May for not achieving the impossible so as not to admit, even to themselves, that they were advocating and promoting an absurdity. This may work. But it undermines rather than strengthens them for future attempts at disruption.

7. May has successfully put the anti-globalists in a weaker position for stirring up hostility and resentment towards other nations when this effort fails.

Notes on Trump 38 – midterm results

Final results not yet in but looks pretty much as expected.

Wikipedia on Republican factions is hopelessly out of date but it seems clear Trump now has a large party in Congress, including many GOP incumbents who will do as they are told because they will lose primaries if they don’t. That is all he needs to get bipartisan legislation through that will help Trump win in 2020.

Democrat side far more seriously divided into factions that will not be able to unite on tactics or strategy.

https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/progressive-caucus-new-dems-blue-dogs-prepare-growth

Here are two reasonably perceptive articles from party apparatchiks, Matthew Yglesias warning against helping Trump on infrastructure and Ezra Klein warning against opposing Trump blindly on popular issues. First Matthew:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/9/18075086/house-democrats-trump-infrastructure-deal-trap

Matthew makes the brilliant tactical suggestion that Democrats derail infrastructure programs by insisting on a “visionary” program of “clean energy generation” and “carbon-cutting transportation”. I said it was reasonably perceptive and tactically brilliant as it conceivably might appeal to enough Democrat senators not facing re-election to block the 60% majority needed for an infrastructure program that would help Trump get elected. I am not aware of any other proposed maneuver that could prevent something bipartisan from emerging. But it won’t be very helpful for 2020 as most Americans are not likely to be impressed by posturing about “clean energy” and “carbon cutting”.

Now here’s Ezra, also from “American Prospect” and so in roughly the same liberal/progressive faction:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/12/18065602/trump-pelosi-house-democrats-investigations-impeachment

His report of various competing views also shows some real insight and a more realistic expectation that Democrats are not going to be capableof any sort of disciplined approach and will in fact go for endless investigations of Trump (which is one thing all factions and their entire base coud agree on, against the sound advice of their apparatchiks).

But despite this insight his solution is directly opposite to Matthew’s. He wants Democrats to come up with realistic “progressive” policies and actually believes that Trump will be stuck because he is intimidated by traditional GOP opposition to those policies. Perhaps more of a journalist than an apparatchik. Didn’t notice that Trump defeated the GOP before he defeated the Democrats.

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/12/18065602/trump-pelosi-house-democrats-investigations-impeachment

As well as the identity politicians and the impeachers, there was the expected increase in “moderates” from “purple seats” who won primaries because they were more likely to defeat incumbent GOP candidates, especially in better off suburbs. This has a double effect in tightening Trump’s grip on GOP by removing old guard incumbents while also weakening Democrats ability to resist deals that help Trump get elected again in 2020.

With the old GOP crushed there will be clear majorities for improved healthcare and infrastructure spending.

There was also the expected increase in “progressives” who will have a double effect in being noisy enough to help consolidate Republican voters while also helping push through the massive deficits Trump needs, even if other Democrat factions try to “resist”.

As shown by the midterm campaign, Democrats are not going to fight Trump on isolationism or protectionism and they won’t be effective opponents on immigration either.

Wikipedia on Democrat factions not updated yet but worth checking after final results in:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Factions_in_the_Democratic_Party_(United_States)

Perhaps its still too early to tell whether they can agree on a plausible strategy after getting hit by reality, but I see no sign of such agreement even within a single faction let alone among several with far less in common than those two.

Notes on Trump 37 – midterms almost over

For what it is worth I still assume most pundits are right in guessing slightly increased and more Trumpist majority in Senate and small Democrat majority in House.

But “small” is really too close to call either way for House.

Daily voter approval polls currently fluctuating around 50% for and against Trump:

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/trump_approval_index_history

I would have expected both sides to try harder to avoid having majority in House.

Cannot tell whether Democrat pathetic campaign is intentional or they just cannot help themselves.

GOP focus is on Senate but they could still end up with another 2 years of majority in both houses plus Supreme Court and President. That would make it harder in 2020 to blame Democrats for Trump not having achieved much.

Trump doesn’t seem able to focus hard on losing while Democrats can do that by instinct. Though he has managed to not say as much about economy as he would if he actually WANTED more GOP and less Democrats in House because he does need the opposite for ease of pre-2020 deficits infrastructure spending and healthcare plus still being able to rant about building wall and he DOES know it. Just cannot put his heart and soul into losing.

Meanwhile John Stewart has some sound advice for liberal journos, but they don’t seem capable of getting it, let alone acting onn it:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/31/media/jon-stewart-christiane-amanpour-interview/index.html

Notes on Trump 36 – media gives up?

On Thursday, like many other days, President Donald Trump boarded the presidential plane Air Force One. But eagle-eyed onlookers noticed something unusual was tagging along for the ride: a bit of paper stuck to the president’s left shoe.

The gaffe occurred during the president’s trip to Minnesota where he held a rally in Rochester on Thursday calling upon his supporters to reject what he called Democratic attempts to “destroy” his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

In the video, which has been widely shared on social media, Trump exits his vehicle and makes it all the way to the top of the steps, paper in tow. After he turns to wave and enters the plane, the piece of paper is dislodged.

Trump is soon followed by four men in suits, the last of whom actually bends down to pick up the paper.

The faux pas has sparked speculation about what exactly was stuck to Trump’s shoe. Many Twitter users wondered why none of his staff alerted him to the issue.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/10/05/trump-air-force-one-paper-stuck-shoe/1534322002/

Perhaps this is a reporter’s rebellion against being assigned to report twittering?

Or perhaps they have figured out that they will actually be even worse off if Democrats win the House in mid-terms than the mere catastrophe of Trump pressing home victory. It the sort of “gaffe” and “faux pas” and “speculation” that one might write about if ordered to actively campaign for liberals to stay home in despair.

That does seem to be the message from CNN:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/06/politics/donald-trump-presidency-supreme-court-economy/index.html

But it its hard to believe anybody could coordinate a campaign to cover this “news” about a piece of paper stuck to a shoe that would include:

WAPO:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/05/trump-toilet-paper-video-president-boards-air-force-one-with-what-appears-be-toilet-paper-stuck-shoe/?utm_term=.55e9e12392bc

Trump boards Air Force One with toilet paper in tow. (Or was it a napkin?)

October 5 at 9:32 AM

“Excuse me, Mr. President, I believe you have some toilet paper stuck to your shoe” — said no one.

Alas, President Trump made an embarrassing climb into Air Force One on Thursday with what appeared to be some sort of paper product attached to the bottom of his shoe.

Video showed him step out of a limousine in front of the aircraft at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and start up the staircase with a couple squares of toilet paper or, perhaps, a napkin, billowing in the wind with each step. What about the dozen or so people surrounding him? (Bueller? . . . Bueller?)

As he reached the top, the president — seemingly oblivious — turned around and waved goodbye.

Historically, toilet paper and shoes have gone together much like humiliating faux pas and deep, tear-inducing belly laughter.

Those who had the privilege to see it happen — either live or later on while watching videos on social media — couldn’t help but share it.

CNN political commentator Ana Navarro posted a clip on social media. “Starting the day with a little comic relief,” she wroteFriday on Twitter.

… [yes there’s more]

Here’s the worldwide “related coverage”.

I haven’t read any more of the first one hundred stories but its well worth scanning the headlines to get a sense of the collapse.

My guess is they really have just given up.

Meanwhile it seems the West has also given up on dealing with the rather serious issue of the Russian state use of novichok.

I wrote here earlier:

If, as is plausible, somebody with access to illegal Russian stockpiles did this without authority one would expect the Russian government to try to evade responsibility while being extremely cooperative and anxious to help establish the facts so as to ensure any culprits were found and stopped from seriously damaging Russian as well as other interests.

Instead Russia is churning out the usual stuff from Sputnik and threatening retaliation.

If that is the result of ineptitude on the part of both the British and Russian governments that is not terribly unusual.

But there is the other alternative that the Russians were deliberately testing Western responses. So far those responses are completely inadequate if based on a firm conclusion that the Russian government is either complicit in testing Western responses or unable to control its security personnel who decide to do so without authority.

I also wrote here:

The latest reports suggest that Western governments are comfortable with merely mocking the bumbling incompetence of GRU clowns:

https://www.economist.com/europe/2018/10/04/the-west-indicts-the-gru

I feel rather less comfortable about the Russian State not being able to manage its own agencies that are equipped with nerve agents.

If they weren’t clowns they would know how to remotely monitor WiFi networks instead of sitting in a car with the equipment

While enjoying the collapse of mainstream politics I would have thought there would be some insistence that the clowns with nerve gas be dealt with rather than ridiculed. Is nobody functioniing?

Notes on Trump 35 – Democrats brilliant #MeToo wins over Never Trumpers…

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/never-trumpers-unite-to-back-trumps-battle-for-kavanaugh

Wins them over to Trump of course.

Despicable Democrat treatment of GOP establishment judicial nominee has convinced important never Trumpers to back Trump for 2020.

Looks like there won’t be much of a split in GOP, while a Democrat majority in House will be split with culture wars while also passing huge deficits, infrastructure, health care, protectionism etc together with Trumpists against any remaining GOP rump.

On the other hand its getting so bad Rasmussen polls currently give Trump 50% approval so there is some risk he will be stuck with a GOP majority in House if Democrats enthusiasm for grotesque stupidity wanes and they don’t turn out as previously expected.

My guess is he’ll have to go all out on fresh outrages to ensure enough Democrats do turn out for mid-terms.

Could be a fascinating month.