Nel's New Day

June 6, 2019

DDT’s Five-Day Invasion on Foreign Soil

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) and his entourage—including the whole family whether they’re in government or not—have left Britain, probably with many signs of relief from his hosts. It was preceded by an odd occurrence, even odd for DDT, when he wandered into a Virginia megachurch from the golf course. After praying for DDT, Pastor David Platt wrote a quasi-apology for his actions to church members who were “hurt” by Platt’s decision. He stated that he was not endorsing DDT, his policies, or his party. DDT stood on the stage during the prayer and then walked off without any comment. The day before the service, Franklin Graham, Billy Graham’s son, had called for Sunday to be a “Special Day of Prayer for the President.” The White House issued a statement that DDT had gone to pray for the Virginia Beach shooting victims, but no mention was made of them, and the pastor was asked to pray for DDT. A Christian and former DDT supporter called the appearance a “staged photo-op.”[DDT in full golf regalia including cleats.] 

But back to DDT’s invasion of Britain. A few highlights:

Before Air Force One landed, DDT called London Mayor Sadiq Khan a “stone cold loser.” (The term “loser” could refer to DDT’s 21 percent popularity with Britons.)

Prince Harry didn’t seem very chummy with DDT, perhaps because DDT called his wife, the Duchess of Sussex, “nasty”—and then denied what was obviously on video.

A huge disappointment for DDT in London was the lack of Fox network; the Brits watch CNN. His tweets called for a boycott:

”I believe that if people stoped [sic] using or subscribing to @ATT, they would be forced to make big changes at @CNN, which is dying in the ratings anyway. It is so unfair with such bad, Fake News! Why wouldn’t they act. When the World watches @CNN, it gets a false picture of USA. Sad!”

Historian Jon Meacham described DDT’s “behavior more commonly associated with authoritarian regimes, not democratic ones.”

Buckingham Palace is undergoing renovations so DDT had to stay with the U.S. Ambassador Woody Johnson at Winfield House. (The lavish Belgian Suite at the palace, where Barack and Michelle Obama stayed, wasn’t affected by the renovations.

Prince Charles’ lifelong passion is environmentalism, making on wonder about his conversation with DDT who calls climate change a “hoax.”

DDT commented that Boris Johnson would be an “excellent” replacement for outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May, but Johnson had no time to meet with DDT.

At Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner, revered final resting place and/or memorials for England’s literary legends, DDT looked at a white marble slab and asked what it was made from. He lost interest in the stones after five minutes and left.

“We are your largest partner. You’re our largest partner. A Lot of people don’t know that. A lot of people don’t know that,” DDT told May about trade. “A lot of people don’t know that” because China is the U.S.’ largest trading partner and Germany is the UK’s largest trading partner.

DDT promised that NHS would be on the table in U.S.-UK trade talks but changed his mind when he found out that NHS stands for National Health Services. Many in the UK oppose U.S. health firms coming into the UK with cost-cutting health services and sales of lower standard food such as chlorine-washed chicken. DDT called Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, a “negative force.”

Although DDT met with Nigel Farage, Fox guest and radical right leader of Brexit, he refused to meet with Corbyn before he accused Corbyn of not meeting with him.

Despite a crowd of 75,000 protesters against DDT in just London on a rainy Tuesday, DDT cried “fake news” about protests because he didn’t see any. He called the crowds “those that gathered in support of the USA and me.” He missed most protesters because he opted for a helicopter to travel the three miles from the palace to Winfield House. The streets where he traveled were mostly deserted.

DDT said that Britain should not pay the Brexit $50 billion bill and walk away from the agreement. (He hopes to get more trade from Britain if their ties to EU fail.)

Why did DDT dodge the draft during the Vietnam War? In an interview with Piers Morgan, he “was never a fan of that war” and because it was a country “nobody heard of” and so far away. He continued by saying that he’s making up for the draft-dodge because he’s making sure that the military has lots of money now. (DDT’s pre-nup agreement with Wife #2 maintained that child support would end before daughter Tiffany turned 21 if she enlisted in the military or the Peace Corps.)  

Asked about why people need AR-15s, he said, “Entertainment.” He followed that up by calling the man who killed 58 people and wounded 489 others in the Las Vegas mass shooting as a “smart guy” and “incredible.” 

In another part of the interview, DDT said that transgender people are banned from the military because they “take massive amounts of drugs” (not true) and falsely claimed that people in the military cannot take prescription drugs. When Morgan pointed out that the U.S. military spends more on Viagra for servicemen than transgender medical bills, DDT said, “Well, it is what it is” and repeated his lies.

Staunch Republican Kathleen Parker summed up DDT’s visit in her column, “Money Can’t Buy You Class.”

“What would one expect when New York’s most famous hillbilly drags his entire entourage to sup at the sumptuous table of the queen of England as though word had leaked of an all-you-can-eat buffet and free booze over at Lizzie’s Eatery? …

“As a descendant of generations of royals, [Elizabeth II] epitomizes the definition of proper behavior, rarely displaying emotion or affection, always stoic in the face of adversity. A far cry is she from the effluvious Donald and his bloviating histrionics. But there she was playing sober hostess to a reality-show president and his carnivalesque courtiers….

“The whole affair felt tawdry and cheap, joyless and stilted beyond the usual norms of pomp and circumstance….

“Money can’t buy you class, but it can sure buy loyalty. Trump’s court at the palace was essentially his family and the few remaining White House staffers still willing to tell the president that, indeed, his exposed derriere is absolutely rocking raiment of finest silk and gold.”

DDT’s three days with the Brits in a fast three minutes, thanks to The Guardian.

Departure from Britain inflicted pain on Ireland as DDT met with its taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, at the Shannon airport because Varadkar refused to act as a shill by meeting DDT at his golf course. DDT displayed great insensitivity about Irish politics when he proposed that Ireland build a Brexit wall with Northern Ireland, just as DDT wants on the U.S. southern border. The Republic of Ireland remains part of the EU no matter what happens with Brexit. Varadkar told the media that he had explained the border’s history and Troubles in his private meeting with DDT. Irish president, Michael D Higgins, also called DDT policy on the climate emergency “regressive and pernicious.”

DDT and his family can hide out at the golf resort before traveling to France for D-Day commemorations—and another round of embarrassments for the people of the United States. Fox’s Laura Ingraham made up for the missing DDT as she and contributor Raymond Arroyo laughed hysterically about Democrats using children as “pathetic political props.” In the seven-minute segment, they sat in front of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, a place where over 9,300 soldiers are used and usually reserved for solemn ceremonies. DDT matched Ingraham’s tone-deaf response to the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy (France) during an interview with Ingraham at the cemetery when he called Robert Mueller a “fool” and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disaster” immediately before the ceremony honoring military veterans and commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. Mueller is a decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War which DDT avoided with “bone spurs.”

Also in Normandy, Pelosi refused to respond to questions. She told CNN’s Jim Acosta that “I don’t talk about the president while I’m out of the country.” she told CNN’s Jim Acosta. “That’s my principle.”

Our former European allies will long remember DDT’s five days of indecency on their soil. 

February 9, 2019

Brexit, ‘Executive Time,’ More

The media has not released any jaw-dropping news about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) today, so it’s time for catch-up with outrageous happenings during the past few weeks.

With the ongoing disasters in the United States, including a 35-day government shutdown, many people ignore events “across the pond.” In 47 days, the United Kingdom is scheduled to separate from the European Union, and, like in many U.S. debacles, the UK has no plan for the separation. In a world-wide promotion of chaos, Russia “encouraged” people to vote in favor of Brexit, a British exit from the EU, a few months before the U.S. chaos resulting from DDT’s election. The deadline for departure, with or without a plan, was scheduled for March 29, 2019—which seemed a long time away in summer of 2016. As the deadline arrives in less than seven weeks, UK has no agreed-upon plan.

The UK has been bleeding industries and jobs since the vote, and the momentum is building. Companies are making up backup plans as well as stockpiling products and looking for new shipping routes, and international banks have shifted thousands of jobs from Britain to the EU. Of 1,200 surveyed business leaders, 16 percent already have relocation plans, and another 13 percent are considering moves. That’s in addition to the ones which have already gone. The Netherlands reported that its government is talking to over 250 companies about moving their operations from the UK before Brexit. Forty-two companies or branch offices moved 1,923 jobs from the UK last year. Britain’s economy is 2.3 percent smaller than if voters had agreed to stay in the EU, and investment in the automobile sector plunged by almost 50 percent in 2018.

The World Travel and Tourism Council warned Britain that leaving the European Union without an agreement could cost 308,000 UK-based jobs and another 399,000 jobs in the EU from loss of tourism. An analysis from the International Monetary Fund also projects a 7.7 percent decline in economic activity with a total cost to Europe of over £40 billion.

Recently, the HM Revenue and Customs told 145,000 businesses that without a deal between UK and EU, it won’t check goods from the European Union. The average trailer has 400 consignments, each requiring ten minutes for the 40-answer declaration, requiring nine people eight hours to process just one trailer. Ferry operators and Eurotunnel were ordered be accept the word of “reasonable belief” customers. To avoid traffic jams at 20 of the busiest ports, haulers can declare the loads later, and companies can postpone paying import duties for up to a year.

Some people envision security problems from this decision. UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid refused to disagree with claims that a no-deal Brexit would make the country less safe. The head of criminals records office, Rob Price said that dangerous criminals might be free in Britain if law enforcement cannot access European conviction records.

An indication of how frightening the Brexit may be for the UK comes from the report about plans for the emergency evacuation of Queen Elizabeth if rioting ensues. People in UK are already stockpiling groceries, medicines, and other supplies, and a possible lack of cash and imports could result in civil unrest. Compounding the problem is that Brexit disagreement is based on “identity politics” from white nationalism instead of economics.

Back in the U.S., DDT is in a rage about a recent White House leak. He raved about how much he liked “doing it” when asked if he would run for a second term, but  a White House leak shows that about 60 percent of DDT’s schedule since the midterm elections was “Executive Time,” even the month when he claimed he was working hard to reopen the government and facing crises in his cabinet and Syria. DDT’s first five hours in the day are “Executive Time” (aka down time) almost always in his residence “watching TV, reading newspapers and responding to what he sees and reads by phoning aides, members of Congress, friends, administration officials and informal advisers.” Salon’s Heather Digby Parton wrote, “Fox has become Trump’s de facto kitchen cabinet and unofficial communications office, creating a tight feedback loop between the far right and the White House.” Compared to this executive time, 77 hours of DDT’s time has been in meetings for policy planning, legislative strategy, and video showings.

Madeleine Westerhout, DDT’s personal secretary, tweeted about “the hundreds of calls and meetings @realDonaldTrump takes everyday [sic].” If she is right, why were all these omitted from an official schedule?

The DDT’s defense from Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

“[DDT] has a different leadership style than his predecessors, and the results speak for themselves.”

According to Sanders, DDT’s over 300 hours of unstructured time is “to allow for a more creative environment that has helped make him the most productive president in modern history.” Newt Gingrich went farther to defend DDT by comparing him to Winston Churchill.

Beyond the fact that DDT doesn’t work much—not a new revelation—is that a White House staffer is willing to release this information. DDT is frantically searching for the leaker. DDT’s schedules since the 2018 midterm elections have been published here.

DDT’s aides are also unhappy with their boss. A revolt against DDT’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Pascale, is imminent, especially after he misrepresented the DDT’s polling regarding the shutdown, representing them as a political winner for DDT. Corey Lewandowski, DDT’s first campaign manager in 2016, blames Pascale for the Democratic wins in the 2018 midterms.

Having destroyed two federal agencies and failing at his job as “acting” White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, unhappy with his current gig, wants to move on to ruin something else—either the Commerce Department, which already has a Secretary, or president of the University of South Carolina. Still the Office of Management and Budget director, Mulvaney briefly headed up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which may need to change its name to Corrupt Business Protection Bureau after a few months with Mulvaney. In a complete 180-turn from two years ago, Mulvaney said “nobody cares” about the deficit. Congress will be required to address raising the debt limit in March after over a $1 trillion deficit last year—at the latest in Summer 2019. Perhaps Mulvaney wants to be gone by then.

Deutsche Bank refused to loan money to DDT in 2016 when he was funding his presidential campaign and expanding his business at the same time, specifically asking for a loan against a Miami property to pay for work on the Turnberry golf course in Scotland. DDT still owes at least $130 million to Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas, and bank officials are concerned about DDT defaulting on the loan if he is elected as president. The choice would be losing the money or seizing assets of the President of the United States.

The EU is investigating Deutsch Bank for possible money laundering by Danske Bank’s moving cash abroad. Democrats in the U.S. are carefully watching this investigation as they follow the “Trump money trail.” Deutsche Bank has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for allowing Russian money laundering of massive sums. The bank also sold financial products to the Mercer family who bankrolled DDT’s campaign. The Mercers are now negotiating with the IRS because they used Deutsche Bank to dodge more than $6 billion in taxes to the United States.

Maryland prosecutors have subpoenaed financial documents about DDT’s golf courses in Scotland in their investigation a violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution as DDT profits from his businesses. An investigation into expenditures by DDT’s inaugural committee may do the same with the revelation that it paid $700,000 to DDT’s Washington, D.C. hotel for events over four days when other venues donated their premises for the inauguration.

A Russian-born lobbyist at the investigated Trump Tower meeting with Don Trump Jr. and others in June 2016 received half a million dollars in payments before and after the meeting. The large cash deposits to Rinat Akhmetshin were deemed suspicious transactions by bank investigators.

In a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, Commander Jonathan White, in charge of overseeing migrant children shelters, said he was unaware of the “zero tolerance” policy causing separation of children and parents until he saw the news on television after being told that the policy didn’t exist. Government officials say that children are still being separated, with situations such as lying to an eight-year-old boy who was told he would see his father at a shelter over 2,000 miles away. ICE gave the wrong baby to a mother who had lost all four of her children.

DDT may think that the border needs another 3,700 soldiers to confine a caravan of about 2,000 at the southern border, but New Mexico’s governor Michelle Lujan ordered the withdrawal of most of the National Guard troops deployed on the border. She declared the “crisis” to be bogus because the state’s border towns are some of the safest in the country. Texas has also sent 500 state troopers to the border. New law enforcement outnumbers the immigrants 2 to 1.

October 22, 2016

The Effects of Brexit

Volcanoes go quiet before the eruptions: the greater the calm, the more powerful the explosion. That’s the conclusion of volcanologist Diana Roman who reported that the length of the quiet time can be correlated to the volcanoes’ risks. Although not always, bad storms are also identified by preceding periods of calm. Tropical cyclones have an “eye,” a time of calm weather in the circular area before the other side hits.

This weekend feels like one of those periods of eerie calm as the nation comes off two tumultuous days last week—the presidential debate and the humorless “roast” at the Al Smith’s charity dinner when Donald Trump’s only “self-deprecating” statement was directed at his wife’s copying Michele Obama’s speech earlier this year. Hillary Clinton was funnier—she wasn’t frequently booed as Trump was—but several of her jokes had serious barbs.

Since those events, a subdued Trump lacks energy in his rallies. For the first time, he said that he might lose the election, and GOP politicians appear to be in a political malaise with no way out. The tension of an upcoming storm gives a feeling of danger, but even a short calm leaves us a chance to contemplate the issues that have been overlooked by the bombastic control of the GOP presidential candidate showman.

Brexit, for example, is making its presence known. For those who have forgotten, the Trumpian hatred toward minorities, government, and regulation across the pond led a frenzy of voting in the United Kingdom to separate the country from the European Union. The voters then elected conservative Theresa May as its prime minister. Her announcement to invoke Article 50 within a few months forces the UK to finalize its separation two years from then.

The divorce settlement between the UK and the EU is a bit fuzzy with no scheduled deadline. No one knows what UK’s constitution requires although May promised a bill to put EU laws into UK domestic law. A serious problem is negotiating new trade agreements until the divorce may be finalized in 2019.

Meanwhile, May is behaving like a woman forced to leave her husband with the intent to divorce but trying to keep all the rights of her marriage. This week she ordered the EU to not hold any more summits without the UK. May said, “I want the U.K. to play an active part…. I expect to be fully involved in all discussions related to the EU 28.”

EU leaders weren’t impressed. The remaining 27 had two informal meetings since last June when UK citizens voted in favoring of dumping the EU and plan another information meeting—without the UK—in January. May was allowed to give a speech about Brexit at the summit but given only five minutes at 1:00 am. EU leaders are also considering changing the official negotiation language from English to French, another bone of contention for May.

Gibraltar, where 96 percent of its residents voted to stay with EU, is just one problem that May faces. Their flourishing economy is dependent on easy commutes across its border, and Madrid would be delighted for Spain to regain sovereignty after three centuries. If Spain plays hardball with Gibraltar, residents would be dependent on boats or planes to leave the country, and intensified border checks would complicate their life as it did three years ago until the EU settled the problems. After Brexit, Spain can veto any trade deals with the UK—which also means Gibraltar.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that it is “democratically unacceptable” to force Scotland out of the EU because its citizens voted to remain. A second independence referendum for Scotland is now “highly likely,” according to Sturgeon. The impact in Northern Ireland would be “very profound,” according to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, and the island of Ireland should be able to vote on reunification. Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers ruled out the call from Sinn Féin for a border poll. UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, will meet this coming week with leaders of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland this week to essentially tell them  that she’s in charge and they will work for the entire UK—not just their part of it.

Another problem comes from reports banks are leaving the UK, the smaller ones by the end of the year followed by the biggest ones early next year. The flight comes from the threat that Britain will “pay the price” of leaving, as French president François Hollande and other EU leaders have promised in a “hard Brexit.” EU leaders could reintroduce tariff and non-tariff restrictions on British imports and exports, and banking is Britain’s largest export industry, according to Anthony Browne, head of the British Bankers’ Association. Up to 70,000 financial jobs could be lost if the banks flee the sinking island.

Despite these dangers, the UK Conservative party is more concerned about immigration than the country’s economy and has no plan regarding the UK and the EU. Businesses are at a loss because the government has provided no direction. The pound’s value has dropped to an almost 30-year low, meaning that it buys fewer euros or dollars, and experts predict the pound value to remain at least ten percent below what it was on the day before the June Brexit vote. All imported products—clothing, food, etc.—will stay more expensive than before the vote.

The Bank of England’s drop in interest rates from 0.5 percent to 0.25 percent—a record low and the first cut since 2009—is the same strategy that the U.S. used to fight its way out of George W. Bush’s recession, and lowering the interest rate may reduce the value of pensions.  Cost of government borrowing has gone up because Britain lost its top AAA credit rating.

Divorce from the EU covering thousands of subjects during 43 years of agreements and treaties must have the unanimous approval of over 30 national and regional parliaments across Europe, some of whom may want to hold referendums. At this time, the EU will permit the UK to be part of the single-market—including tariff-free trade—if EU nationals have the unchecked right to live and work in the UK. The UK doesn’t want to give up that control and declines to give a guarantee about EU nationals now living in the UK, but it wants the single market.

Travelers from EU and other non-EU countries in a group called the European Economic Area (EEA) may no longer receive state-provided medical help for conditions or injuries requiring urgent treatment if the UK severs ties with EEA.

Overwhelming popularity of Brexit is vanishing in the UK. In the Witney vote this week to replace former Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative Party percentage went from 60.2  last year for Cameron percent to 45 percent, Liberal Democrat vote increased from 6.8 percent to 30.2 percent, and the UKIP (Brexit supporters) went down almost two-thirds, 9.2 percent to 3.5 percent, now fourth place behind the Green Party candidate, Bernie Sanders’ brother Larry Sanders.

Brexit campaign manager and Vladimir Putin-supporter Nigel Farage has been a strong supporter of Donald Trump, coaching him for the town hall session with Hillary Clinton on October 9 and speaking at his rallies. Farage was heard praising Trump about his town hall performance on Fox. Although Farage took a small step backwards after hearing about Trump’s groping women, he still wants the racist, nationalist presidential candidate to win because of their similarities. Farage tells his U.S. audiences that Trump, despite his shrinking poll numbers, can still win because many people didn’t expect Brexit to win.

If people don’t vote for Clinton, Farage could be right, and the United States could be in worse shape than the UK if that happens. Even if Trump loses, the negative effects of Brexit will penetrate the United States, requiring a competent president.

Today I dropped off my ballot in Oregon. I wanted to make sure that no matter what happens to me in the next 17 days, I have voted to keep Donald Trump from become the Russian-supporting dictator of the country where I live.

Nels New Day is taking a hiatus and will return after Halloween. In the meantime, please vote early and vote sane!

June 27, 2016

Brexit Fails; So Will Trump

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 8:49 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The “Leave the EU” campaign has won, and it doesn’t seem to be working for them. Leading “Leave” politicians made failed promises:

“Leave” promise: EU cash will go to the National Health Service. The campaign even put the promise on its big red bus: The EU costs £350 million a week, “enough to build a brand new, fully staffed … hospital every week.” Politicians repeated the promise, but after the vote, Leave leader Iain Duncan Smith said that the campaign didn’t say “all” of the money, just “a significant amount of it.” After the vote Nigel Farage, another Leave leader, said, “No I can’t [guarantee it], and I would never have made that claim.” The UK gets about half that money back for farmers’ subsidies, research grants, and infrastructure funding.

“Leave” promise: We’ll take control of the UK’s borders. The claim was that the expected immigration to fall. “Leave” leader Nigel Evans said there had been “some misunderstanding” over the Leave campaign’s position on reducing immigration and that he didn’t say it would fall. The UK won’t separate from the EU for at least two years, and the UK may have to keep borders open to EU workers to freely trade with Europe. Boris Johnson, a leading Leave campaigner and wannabe prime minister, wrote, “British people will still be able to go and work in the EU; to live; to travel; to study; to buy homes; and to settle down.” If that’s right, Europeans—including immigrants—will enjoy the same freedom of movement.

“Leave” promise #3: The economy will be fine. Anti-Remain campaigners laughed at the “Project Fear” that maintained the UK would suffer financial and economic turmoil. Yet, the pound is at the lowest level in decades, UK bank stocks collapsed, and GDP growth forecasts have been slashed. Companies are calling off investments, and markets throughout the world have gone down drastically, including the Dow Jones in the United States which lost almost 900 points in two days of trading.

“Leave” leaders have absolutely no exit plan.

Comments about Brexit:

Philippe LeGrain at The New York Times:

“Brexit’s supporters are deluded when they argue that Britain could cherry pick what it likes about the European Union and discard the rest. Since exports to the European Union (13 percent of G.D.P. in 2014) matter much more to Britain than exports to Britain (3 percent of G.D.P. in 2014) do to the European Union, the European Union will call the shots. Other governments have every incentive to be tough, both to steal a competitive advantage and to deter others from following Britain out the door.”

Damian Carrington at The New Republic:

“The crashing financial markets will damage the huge investments needed to create a cleaner and safer environment and will dent the nation’s fast-growing green economy, one economic sector where the UK could lead.”

From a financial authority:

The aftershocks from the UK’s EU referendum results continue to persist. Last Friday saw exceptionally sharp declines in the major global equity markets, though the sharpest drops were recorded in the Italian and German equity markets, down 12.5% and 6.8% respectively, compared with 3.1% for the FTSE100 index, although UK bank stocks were ‘hammered’ on speculation as to how ‘pass porting rights’ to the EU might be affected, as well as a cut in the UK’s credit rating. The S&P500 index fell 3.6% and the US 10-year Treasury yield made a new low for the year at 1.40%.

In the currency market, the US Dollar to Japanese yen briefly dipped below the 100.00, and the Japanese authorities might be ready to intervene in order to stabilise the currency. The Chinese currency went in the other direction and made a new low for the year, with investors sensing that the Chinese authorities are set to countenance some slippage in the exchange rate to act as a shock-absorber for the economy.

Cable dropped sharply from $1.5000 to $1.3200 and continues its slide today, touching $1.3122. UK 10-year Gilt yields fell below 1.00% this morning for the first time ever. (The Bank of England was founded in 1694.)

From a political perspective, the referendum decision has divided the UK. “Remain” members of the Conservative Party want to stop Boris Johnston from being the next Prime Minister. In the opposition Labour Party, a series of resignations in protested Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership style. In Scotland, the SNP is looking to block the “Brexit” vote and call for a second independence referendum. The scope for a constitutional crisis is quite high, and the Brexit vote has exposed the fault-lines in British politics.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, said this morning that Article 50 of the European Union Treaty would not be triggered until October. Article 50 lays down the terms and conditions of the negotiation process between the UK and EU and the framework for the exiting country’s future relationship with the EU. Article 50 sets a 2-year deadline on talks that can only be extended by a unanimous decision of the other 27 EU countries. Once activated, Article 50 eliminates the UK from EU decision-making at the highest level. Article 50 is concluded by the European Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining consent of the European Parliament.

The EU Summit this week looks to push for very early negotiations, but it is the UK Government that has to decide when to invoke Article 50. At the moment, UK PM David Cameron remains in place until October when a new Conservative Party leader and PM are to be announced. This might be too distant a time and the pressure for an early settlement to the leadership question is likely to intensify. There is no guaranteed timetable as to how it all works out.

From the EU’s perspective, the risk is that “Brexit” contagion’ spreads to other countries and encourages voters to think of breaking away from the EU. The results of the Spanish elections (the centre-right People’s Party won with 137 seats) yesterday mitigated some of that risk, though there is a question whether the appetite for ever-increasing integration is still there.

Italy holds a constitutional referendum in October, but Italian voters might view “Brexit” as a way of expressing their view on the EU. The Italian economy has suffered a very low economic growth rate for some time, but it is the Italian banks that remain under-capitalised and have the potential to trigger another banking crisis.

Some forecasters are talking about a UK recession next year and perhaps an early cut in UK interest rates. In the Eurozone, the sharper declines in equity markets and concerns over the health of the banking system are likely to keep the European Central Bank’s accommodative monetary stance in place. However, German criticism of negative interest rates in terms of the cost to German banks and German savers is something that the ECB cannot afford to ignore.

Wider afield, the “Brexit” uncertainty gives the U.S. Fed every excuse to defer an increase in US interest rates. The key upcoming dates are the US non-farm payroll report on July 8. The Fed meetings after that are July 26-27 and September 20-21, which seems to be the last opportunity to raise rates prior to the US Presidential Election on November 8. A faltering US economy might require quantitative easing.

Why did UK voters favor “Leave”? Many of them probably didn’t even know the consequences. The two most Googled questions in the UK on the day after the vote was announced was “What does it mean to leave the EU?” and “What is the EU?”  John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight, had another funny, factual, hard-hitting piece about the vote. To the people who asked if they could change his vote, he emphatically said, “That was the f*cking vote! That was it!”

Although unlikely, Oliver might be wrong. The Brexit vote was not binding, and Members of Parliament could vote against it. Over 3.5 million UK residents have signed a petition demanding a second vote if support for either side was under 60 percent with a voter turnout under 75 percent. The turnout was about 72 percent, and the winning side had 52 percent of the vote. Scotland voted heavily to remain, and the Scotland Act 1998 requires the Scottish Parliament to approve measures that remove EU law from Scotland. The same might be true for Northern Ireland. The least likely scenario is that the EU could offer major concessions.

Yet the longer the uncertainty in a wait for the outcome, the greater the political and economic costs. The U.S. suffers from the same uncertainty as everyone waits for the outcome of the presidential election in a little more than four months with Donald Trump representing everything that the Leave campaign did—promises he cannot keep, an irrational xenophobia to turn the country white, and an untenable austerity approach toward the economy. The UK today could be the US this January.

June 25, 2016

Brexit Brings Buyers’ Remorse

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 1:26 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

brexit

Many people in the United Kingdom went to bed Thursday night feeling safe and woke up yesterday feeling they were in serious danger after the 52-percent vote for the UK to leave the European Union. EU leaders want Britain to move forward immediately to avoid further financial instability throughout the world, but leaders of the Leave campaign seem nervous about their win, perhaps because of the advantageous trade relationships between UK and EU.

Boris Johnson said that they’d rather not take any immediate steps, perhaps because he hopes to use the vote as leverage for becoming prime minister. He could even allow the UK to stay in the EU. People who voted for leaving the EU are now wishing they could change their vote, agreeing with one British voter who said she voted to leave but “I never thought it would actually happen.”

People who voted in favor of leaving the EU should feel remorseful. Predictions show a one percent drop in GDP, a fall of £19 billion equivalent to £720 (over $1,000 in US dollars) for each UK household. Each households could annually be £4,300 a year worse off by 2030. Prolonged uncertainty, reduced access to the single market, and decreased investment from overseas are joined by the banks’ loss of “passporting” rights to conduct business throughout the EU. In the hours after the vote was announced, the British pound’s 11-percent decrease hit a 31-year low against the dollar. A British recession seems likely because businesses usually defer spending during uncertain times. A bleak economy causes consumers to stop spending on big-ticket items. The collapsing pound will drive up inflation, cutting into incomes. Some jobs will disappear, and wage growth will fall.

The Cornwall area that soundly voted against staying with the EU is now worried about the annual loss of at last £60 million that it received in the past decade. European money provided infrastructure, universities, and broadband internet for them, and farmers and fishers had benefited from the EU policies. New trade deals between the EU and the UK mandate approval and unanimity by over 30 European, national, and regional parliaments that may be able to act only after national referendums. Goods leaving the UK will face tariffs, and everyone leaving the island will be forced to go through customs just to travel to Europe.

Both Northern Ireland and Scotland want to leave the UK in order to stay in the EU, and Spain wants to take back Gibraltar from the UK. After 95.9% of people in Gibraltar voted to stay with the EU, Spain renewed its claim that Gibraltar is its territory, something that Spain has declared for three centuries since the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. People living in Gibraltar are British citizens with British passports, but they also want to be part of the EU.

The economy of countries around the world started to take big hits. The world’s 400 richest people lost $127.4 billion yesterday, 3.2 percent of their total net worth.  In Canada, the loonie had its biggest drop in 18 months to around 76.8 cents. U.S. Oil fell by 3 percent. Asia’s stock market started the fall after the vote, followed by other main indices which fell by about 10 percent. In the U.S., Friday’s Dow Jones industrial average fell 611 points, causing a loss of $160 million in market value. Big corporations on the S&P index lost $627 billion–just yesterday. It could have been much worse, but this is only the beginning. The drops also hurt retirement funds. Tighter financial conditions makes it harder and more expensive for people and businesses to get money—less borrowing, less investing, and less economic activity.

Touting his new golf course in Scotland, Donald Trump saw the results through the prism of Donald Trump’s business ventures. The New York Times reported that his business interests “still drive his behavior, and his schedule. He has planned two days in Scotland, with no meetings with government or political leaders scheduled.” The Republican’s itinerary “reads like a public relations junket crossed with a golf vacation,” complete with “a ceremonial ribbon cutting.”

Trump didn’t even know that Scotland had overwhelmingly voted against leaving the EU: he said they were celebrating because “they took their country back.” NBC’s Katy Tur asked him whether he was traveling with any of his foreign policy advisors who talked to him about the vote. He said that he’d been in touch but that “there’s nothing to talk about.” Instead of talking about the vote, he talked about the golf course and its refurbished holes, plumbing, putting greens, and zoning. Asked about Brexit’s undermining the British pound value, he said that the decline is good news for him.

“If the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry, frankly. For traveling and for other things, I think it very well could turn out to be positive.”

People traveling from the U.S. may get a better deal for their dollars, but the U.S. economy can suffer depressed exports because of the weak English pound and the possible ramifications in the EU. U.S. banks said Brexit could force an overhaul of their business in the U.K. It doesn’t happen all at once, but the dominos are falling.

Trump’s business ventures in Scotland bulldozed through its elected officials and land owners, and Trump sued the Scottish government to break environmental laws and obtain property through eminent domain. Scottish officials allowed Trump to flatten a third of the Foveran dunes complex, a legally protected site of special scientific interest. Whenever he couldn’t get permits, he built anyway.

The neighbors of his golf courses roundly despise Trump because he tried to tear down what he called their “ugly” houses. He called their houses “ugly” and wanted to tear them down. When they refused to leave, he built a tall earthen wall that blocked their view of the dunes and beach and put up a locked gate that blocked the public road to reach the beach. Security staff sit in 4×4 vehicles watching all their movements.

Trump claims that the Scottish people “love” him, but 200-300 protesters appeared with a mariachi band during his press conference at the golf course and threw red golf balls with swastika symbols on the ground. In the background, neighbors of both his golf courses flew the Mexican flag in solidarity with other peoples who he has denigrated.

Many people in the UK had no idea what the EU was before the vote or what the connection between the UK and the EU meant to everyday people. Like Donald Trump, the Leave campaign scapegoated immigrants and created a culture of hatred because of economic inequality. They also accused the country’s leaders of being the elite and maintained that “experts” know nothing. The Leave slogan was “Take Back Control.” Since 2010, the austerity measures of the Conservative Party slashed the social safety net and left deprivation in its place.

As in the United States, British leaders are increasingly purchased by corporate and financial interests. Democratic rights, promised by the Leave campaign, were taken by the wealthy and corporations that control the country’s politics and economy. The loss of the EU will worsen the situation for workers who no longer guaranteed the EU rights, and Conservative Party control will only exacerbate their problems. Less regulated British corporations will cause more environmental damage and more mistreatment of employees and customers. Like the U.S., the media fed the paranoia and the fear.

Is “Texit” next? Daniel Miller, head of the Texas Nationalist Movement, hopes so. In his revisionist history that overlooks the area’s original Hispanic (and of course Native American) residents, Miller said, “We come from a heritage of people that carved an empire out of a wilderness.” The TNN calls for a referendum, as one in the UK, to vote on secession from the U.S. The “Republic of Texas” goes farther, maintaining that Texas never ceded sovereignty to the U.S. when it joined the union in 1845.

Steve Willliams wrote on care2.com:

“If there is anything that can be learned from the UK’s political fight over the past months, it’s that alienation, fear-mongering and a deep distrust of other nations can create a perfect storm of political action that can lead even usually reasonable people to go against compassion, unity and progressive causes….

“Americans who reject all that Donald Trump stands for will want to make sure that doesn’t happen in the United States come November and will hope that the UK can serve as a wake up call for Americans who felt disengaged from the political process.”

Brexit lessons for people in the U.S.:

  • One should never underestimate the forces of right-wing nationalism and nativism.
  • Successful far-right nationalist parties, leaders, and campaigns leave immediate consequences.
  • Centrist political parties will reap what they sow if they slyly invoke nationalist and racist sentiments for their own purposes.

Williams calls for another vote—perfectly legal—for those people who suffer buyers’ remorse. The vote to leave the EU is not legally binding, and the deal is not set in motion until Article 50 is invoked. Over 2 million people have already signed the petition on the official UK Parliament website for another vote, a number well over the mandatory 100,000-signature level to force a debate in Parliament. The high volume of traffic caused the website to temporarily crash. Ironically, the petition had been placed earlier by a Leave supporter who was afraid that the referendum would support staying with the EU.

If Trump is elected this fall, however, the U.S. has no way back. An ignorant, megalomaniacal dictator will be in charge. Those who think that one person cannot make a difference should ask people in Scotland.

More details about Brexit background and impact.

June 22, 2016

BRexit Vote Scheduled Tomorrow

BRexit—the vote is tomorrow. Most people in the United States aren’t aware of it, and even more may not care about it. Yet it may be the reason that the stock market is going nowhere and could guide financial markets for the world—including those in the U.S.–as they head down. I pretty much ignored the whole situation until I watched The John Oliver Show last Sunday. Because comedians such as Oliver and Samantha Bee on Full Frontal probably give more information than anyone other than Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, I started searching for more information.

BRexit is short for “Britain Exit,” the question of whether Great Britain will leave the European Union. All British eligible voters can help make this decision, and voting will be done by 2:00 PST tomorrow. Up to 80 percent of the people may vote, and the polls are too close to guess the outcome. As a Britisher, Oliver urged the people of the UK to maintain its EU relationship, but his program won’t be televised in the UK until after the vote. He’s in accord with most experts in saying that the EU can be awful but the ensuing instability would be disastrous if the UK tried to go it on its own.

Many British citizens are suffering from the same opinions as Donald Trump followers—dissatisfaction and distrust of all establishment including the political parties and the media. The “leave” people are also highly conservative, opposed to immigrants, labor, and environmental protection. They think that austerity will save them although it never has in the past. Like Trump, the pro-BRexit people reject any positions of experts—economists, scientists, military commanders, business leaders, etc. It’s the portion of the population who might think that an auto mechanic is a good choice to take out their appendix.

No other country has ever left the EU although Greece considered doing that. If this first-of-its-kind vote succeeds, Britain would spend at least two years to negotiate its departure from the remaining 27 countries which will not give Britain its current privileged access to member countries’ customers or financial markets. More years will be consumed while the UK works to find and negotiate trade deals for other export markets at a time of spreading deflation and rising protectionism throughout the globe. Adding the politics of disengaging British business regulations from those of the EU, and the process might last at least a decade.

Another problem with leaving the EU is the common fisheries policy and agriculture. “Leave” people complain about the fishing quotas set by EU to manage fish stocks and protect marine environments. Voting to leave, however, does not mean that the UK won’t have to deal with the EU. With the separation, the UK couldn’t change EU policy but would still be subject to its restrictions. The UK also receives a larger fishing area than it controls; renegotiating fishing territories gives no guarantee of a better deal for the UK.

EU membership provides some protection against unregulated global markets, and losing that will sacrifice the UK social safety nets in desperate searches for new trade and investment deals to compensate for the loss of markets on the continent. The UK is composed of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland is pro-EU and may decide to issue a new vote on separating from the UK in order to join the EU. Welsh ministers have also indicated their desire to remain in the EU.

A decision to separate from the EU could be disastrous for the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, an area of bitter bloodshed since the 1920s. Ireland would still be a part of the EU, and Northern Ireland would be forced out. The resulting dividing line between the two countries could eradicate the uneasy 18-year-long peace that belonging to the EU has assisted since 1998. Customs checks that disappeared in 1993 when EU membership caused free movement of goods and services could return. Cross-border trade in manufactured products on the island was worth an estimated 3 billion euros in 2014.

At this time, Protestants in Northern Ireland want to stay with the UK, and the Catholic minority wants to join Ireland. The UK leaving the EU could end up in an armed conflict between these two factions regarding whether Ireland subsumes Northern Ireland. If both Irelands, Scotland, and Wales stay with the EU, the United Kingdom would revert to being just England–and the only part of the island that isn’t part of the European Union.

Those who want to leave the EU also support the new Deregulation Act, slipped through Parliament last year with little debate and less information to the public. According to the new law, all regulators must now “have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth.” Any laws dealing with endangered species, speed limits, children’s health, wheelchair ramps, etc. must successfully show how they contribute to the GDP before being passed. As a result, Britain is becoming a place that launders money for drug cartels and terrorists who can keep their money there beyond police and tax inspectors. The “get-rich-quick” philosophy leads to problems that are then blamed on immigrants. Without votes, the prime minister made deals with the EU commission.

The current government has rejected science regarding insecticides, slashed renewable energy, and fights wildlife protection, but it can be worse. The EU has restricted UK policies to some extent. Without the EU, the UK would have carte blanche to destroy the environment. Leaving the EU would dismantle human rights protections, lead to a smaller labor and talent pool with tightening of borders for migrants, and lead to environmentally hazardous activities. The “Leave” backers also want to privatize and dismantle the National Health Service, leaving the country with uninsured people.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, right, listens as current Mayor of London Boris Johnson speaks at a mayoral election campaign rally for Britain's Conservative party candidate for Mayor of London Zac Goldsmith at a school in Ham, a suburb in south west London, Tuesday, May 3, 2016.   The Mayor of London election takes place on Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

boris johnson 2The face of the “Leave” campaign is former Mayor of London Boris Johnson (above left) who both behaves and looks like Donald Trump. If the UK leaves the EU, Johnson could become a leader in the right-of-center Conservative Party and perhaps even prime minister. Johnson even sounds like Trump, for example saying that this “part-Kenyan” had an “ancestral dislike of the British empire.” Although he’s fairly sure that leaving the EU would not cause problems, he said he would apologize publicly if Brexit caused a recession. [Above: Boris Johnson was invited to take part in a tug of war with the armed forces to launch Poppy Day.]

Clashes between the two sides in BRexit were largely verbal, but pro-EU Jo Cox of the Labor Party was shot and stabbed last Thursday. In the United States, killings with guns are an everyday matter, but this event shocked people on both sides of British politics. The tragedy was the first killing of a sitting British MP since the death of Ian Gow in 1990. The man charged with her murder said, “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” He had bought a manual on how to build homemade guns and explosives from the National Alliance, a U.S.-based neo-Nazi group.

Brogan Morris wrote a comparison between the upcoming elections in the US and the UK, between Johnson and Trump. He holds the media largely responsible for allowing these no-nothing hate-mongers to build their popularity. Imagine a world in which Trump is president of the most affluent country in the world and Trump 2—Boris Johnson—is prime minister of one of this nation’s closest allies.

Once again, I highly recommend watching the segment from The John Oliver Show about the negative affect of UK leaving the EU.

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