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Friday, December 16, 2016

DEMOCRAT DENIAL AND OTHER FORMS OF HEAD INJURY

Well, the exit polls from the election have told us “who” voted for whom but the post-mortems on the actual “cause of death” of the presumptive winner are filling the pages of the internet journals and the liberal press which are essentially an echo chamber of the distraught Left.  Now “we know” why the would be “first woman president” grabbing for the golden ring on the election merry-go-round snatched only air and fell off her wooden horse. 

From the Democrats: Take your pick: Hillary lost because:

FBI Director Comey’s letter to Congress said he was investigating additional e-mails found on the Weiner’s computer. But: FBI Director Comey’s second letter to Congress said the first letter didn’t turn up anything.

The Russians hacked into the electronic polls and changed the outcome because Putin loves Trump and hates Hillary.  But:  the Obama Administration said there was no evidence of any Russian hacking of the polls and that the Administration stood by the election outcome.

Now it turns out that the CIA and FBI knew that Russian hackers had penetrated the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems several months before the election and the FBI warned officials of that organization. This resulted in enormous e-mail dumps made public by WikiLeaks which the Democrats claim, “caused” Hillary to lose a “tainted” election.  
But: The e-mails were actual communications between Democratic officials.  The Trump campaign wasn’t involved and since the e-mails were genuine, the media treated them as news and made them public.  Sometimes “the truth hurts” and there is no evidence of this information affecting anyone’s voting decision. 

WikiLeaks “unfairly” cast doubts about the integrity of the Democratic National Committee’s relationship to Hillary’s campaign.  But: Hillary’s campaign didn’t deny the veracity of the leaks, and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz had to resign over her roll in manipulating DNC influence in favor of Hillary vs. Bernie Sanders. Then her successor, Donna Brazile was exposed as acquiring and forwarding presidential debate questions to Hillary’s campaign.  And, the texts of Hillary’s $250,000 speeches to Wall Street Bankers which she had refused to release suddenly were made public.  It seems the Democrats who were irate because Trump wouldn’t release his tax returns have a new message,  “transparency for thee but not for me.”

Then there’s this claim: The mainstream media was biased against Hillary and didn’t “get her message out”.  But: the mainstream media, and most of the web based media, campaigned tirelessly for Hillary and against Trump for months prior to either one being nominated and then were consistently supportive of Hillary until election night and after. Hillary’s message was out but it was politically flawed.  The campaign over relied on social issues aimed at their perceived demographic advantage provided by women and minority groups. 

The allegedly “trumped up” private e-mail server and classified content scandal uncovered by the FBI was of course was real.  But: Hillary lied about it in a series of claims until each revelation was proved to be authentic. And then she was given a pass by the same Director Comey who her campaign later accused of handing the election to Trump.

Then, of course comes the hate filled repetitive cacophony from the liberal media parrot cage:
Trump is  “squawk. . .racist, squawk. . .misogynist, squawk. . .homophobic and xenophobic.”
These nefarious traits  “of course” energized millions of similarly flawed “deplorable” individuals to come out of the darkness and vote for Trump. Alas, the defeat of virtue by evil.

  But: polls show that large numbers of Trump’s voters were former supporters of Obama in 2008 and 2012. Trump also won 54% of white women, effectively taking the claim of legions of “misogynist” voters off the table. Interviews of former Obama voters who switched to Trump by the liberal New York Times found that they were none of the “ists” or “phobics” claimed by the Left, but just ordinary working class citizens who were primarily concerned with their economic futures which they felt Hillary didn’t bother to address.

Trump also won 29% of the Hispanic vote, putting a dent in the broad claim of racism amongst the voters, not withstanding the simple fact that Mexicans aren’t a race at all but a multi-racial nationality, similar to the false claim regarding Islam which isn’t a race but a multinational, multi-racial, religion.  

So what is apparent is that the most visible part of Democratic support, the liberal political establishment, the mainstream media and internet journals, are so steeped in the supposed superiority of their rigid ideology and were so convinced that Hillary was going to win that they can’t comprehend that she actually lost. Thus they claim that she actually didn’t lose because she won the national popular vote.  But: this of course is irrelevant because the U.S. doesn’t conduct a national election for president.  The federal election system we use has been in place for the life of the Constitution and all presidential campaigns, including Hillary’s, build their campaign strategies accordingly.  Trump won the popular vote in 30 of the 50 states and thus accumulated the necessary 270 electoral votes necessary for victory. 
The Democrats didn’t address any supposed unfairness in the Electoral College system prior to the election and now are engaging in hopeless attempts to manipulate the system simply because their candidate lost.   Hillary acknowledged the legitimacy of the system herself by her election night concession call to Trump and her address to supporters the next day. 

The post-election rationales listed above try to explain the “injustice” of her “unfair” loss by focusing entirely on her opponent or outside entities with little discussion or analysis of Hillary herself and her failed campaign.  But the simple truth is that there were only two viable candidates on the ballot. While some individuals chose to cast a protest vote for one of the fringe party candidates, and others chose to protest the lack of acceptable candidates by leaving the top of the ballot blank or not voting at all, over 120 million citizens looked at the candidates, some briefly, others more seriously, and made a choice between them.  So Trump’s voters did not make their choice based solely on his claims or personality, but also in comparison to his competitor.  It is this evaluation, made by millions of voters, that the Left cannot endure.  Hillary was judged and came up as the “lessor of two evils” by many and  just the “lessor” by many more.   

How this will play out over the next few years or maybe over Trump’s entire term of office will be important. A virulently divided society will tend to de-legitimize the entire political process and the public policies that flow from it. There will be few broadly applied federal policies that aren’t evaluated in terms of “oppressors” and “victims” by the Left. A sense of national identity already under assault and which is part of the cultural glue that binds the nation together, will be further diminished with unfortunate consequences.  

Trump has been routinely denounced as a demagogue by his angry critics on the Left but these same critics are using their unearned access to the public themselves to incite raw hate.  There are many such individuals using the opinion pages of the national press and web based media. Perhaps the worst example is Charles Blow, of the New York Times.  Here is a brief example of months of his tirades on the pages of what was once a proud international paper.

“To president-elect Trump”:

“You are an aberration and abomination who is willing to do and say anything — no matter whom it aligns you with and whom it hurts — to satisfy your ambitions.
You are a fraud and a charlatan.”
“I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.”

  “I’m thankful to have this platform because as long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.”

“I’m thankful that I have the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.”

“No, Mr. Trump, we will not all just get along. For as long as a threat to the state is the head of state, all citizens of good faith and national fidelity — and certainly this columnist — have an absolute obligation to meet you and your agenda with resistance at every turn.”

“The demi-fascist of Fifth Avenue”

“Time’s man of the year is, by words and deeds, more of a madman of the year.”

These personal insults are far worse than any that Trump has been criticized for directing at individuals.  And the hypocrisy is only exceeded by the remarkably inflated level of self-importance which Blow displays. Blow is going to subject the soon to be President to his “withering gaze” and he has “the endurance and can assume a posture that will never allow what you represent to ever be seen as everyday and ordinary.”  

The utter pomposity of these disgusting claims makes Blow’s screed absurd on its face but because the New York Times enables his narcissism  he and others like him will spread the seeds of hate to the befuddled ideologues of the Left and help create the political climate of dysfunction that they crave.

The political Left seems determined to use the Senate hearings on Trump’s cabinet appointees
as revenge for his winning the election.  Prolonged harsh scrutiny is promised where personal attacks will be prominently combined with the “sins” of each nominee’s conservative philosophy in an effort to discredit both them and the new President.   

Donald Trump is indeed a political anomaly; unpredictable, demonstrably head strong, and unfortunately has a personality that too often relies on personal attacks and blatantly offensive language. He lacks the dignity and qualifications voters have come to expect in presidential candidates but many, if not most of his supporters acknowledged these traits but were willing to overlook them when contemplating the alternative.  Thus despite his obvious flaws, Trump was elected fairly according to the rules of the American system and will be the President.

 A prolonged vicious assault of the nature utilized by the Charles Blows of the world will harm the nation both domestically and internationally. This of course is of no concern to those whose smug sense of moral and intellectual superiority was served a harsh dose of reality on November 8th.

What the next few years will look like is very uncertain. The pages of the liberal media are filled with hysterical doomsday scenarios; the “end of democracy”; “war with China” or “war with Iran”; “the collapse of the U.S. economy”; a dystopia of brown air and green water caused by unparalleled drilling and pipeline construction, and now Russian domination of the U.S. because Trump doesn’t demonstrate the necessary fear and loathing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a new found animus on the part of liberal Democrats since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s own naive and failed “reset button” with the Russians.  

Essentially, Trump’s election is a gamble, but not necessarily one without merit. Four additional years of “more of the same”, from a reliance on  big government solutions; an emphasis on divisive social issues and identity politics which excluded the economic concerns of a significant portion of the citizenry; unconcern with expanding federal deficits and debt; and a celebrity style of weak, hesitant and politically correct leadership at home and abroad, represented a continuing decline in America’s economic and security interests.

 So far, in post-campaign mode Trump has not provided the raw material for the doomsday predictions, and the basic nature of the American democracy with its divided government, checks and balances and judicial review which mitigate the possibility of executive overreach, seem to be beyond the understanding of the hand wringers from the Left.

In any event, the next four years will be “interesting times” and hopefully will disprove the commonly accepted but apocryphal Chinese curse which defines the term as instability and discord.   



Monday, November 14, 2016

THE ELECTION: WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT NOW?



It will take weeks or perhaps months for detailed examination of exit polls and voting precincts to provide a complete picture of the dynamics which caused one of the biggest political upsets in modern American politics.  Still, there are a few early indicators available which can start the conversation.  However, it would be a mistake to follow the lead of the activist element in political commentary who tend to identify a single dominant cause for the behavior of over 60 million individuals spread across the entire country.  

Racism? Misogyny? Xenophobia?  Hillary’s e-mails? FBI Director Comey’s letter to Congress?
These are eye catching, pulse stimulants for commentaries with an ideological or partisan orientation but are insufficient to explain a human intellectual behavior even as simple as making a ballot choice.  

Certainly with a sample in excess of 59 million, these tendencies are bound to exist as components in the political calculations of some but not as broad brush motivations for the group as a whole.  Also simply looking at Trump voters for an explanation of the outcome ignores important aspects of Clinton’s personality, character, and behavior as well as the effectiveness of her campaign strategy.

But any analysis should start with the political context of the election.  It has been a common assertion for several years that the nation was irreconcilably divided.  The divide most mentioned was simply partisan; “right wing” Republicans vs. “left wing” Democrats, with “moderates” being virtually extinct and “independents” sitting quietly on the side lines.

With this narrative in place, the electoral “strategies” simply boiled down to the “enthusiasm” factor; which party would be able to stimulate the most members to actually vote. By itself, this would represent a failed strategy for the simple reason that those not registered with either major party i.e. “Independents” represent a larger group than either Democrats or Republicans. While many Independents tend to “lean” towards one of the major parties the percentage of those who do not acknowledge definite loyalty to Democrats or Republicans stands at 33 percent as of early 2016.

None the less the Hillary campaign focused on the winning coalitions of the previous Obama campaigns in 2008 and 2012 as models for victory.  These included racial minorities, young voters, and college educated women. But this was a “get out the base” strategy mentioned above.  Working class white voters, in suburban and rural areas and especially men, were mostly de-emphasized as already in the Republican camp and unnecessary for victory as they were for Obama.  

But while the context of partisan hostility was acknowledged by the Clinton campaign, polls consistently showed her to be ahead of most of the Republican primary contestants and almost always ahead of Donald Trump who was charging through the primaries like a rogue elephant, leaving outraged Republican “ establishment” figures in his wake as well as the promise of a hopelessly divided Republican Party. He was thus seen as  an easy opponent in the general election for the Clinton machine.

But the signs of what was to come could have been read in these same primaries.  Trump, the political outsider, the street fighter with all the attendant behavioral flaws, was stirring the passions of the Republican base, the white working class.  

An important aspect of the wider political context was lost in the smoke of the chaotic Republican primaries.  Along with the frequent polling on the most important concerns of voters in both parties i.e. the economy, terrorism, race relations, the environment etc. was a question related to “The Direction of the Country”.  The question was simple: “Is the country moving in the “Right Direction” or “on the Wrong Track”. 

In January, 2013, at the beginning of Obama’s second term, 56.4 percent of responders felt that the country was on the “wrong track”. It got worse from then on.  The average response for the next four years of Obama’s presidency was that 61.47 percent felt that the country was on the “wrong track”.  In November, 2016, just before the election, 61.9 percent of responders still agreed that the country was on the “wrong track”.  

Since responders to this question would evaluate the nation’s prospects through the lense of their personal circumstances, both current and projected, this enormous level of personal dissatisfaction overlaid  the general feeling of political alienation among middle and  working class voters.  Some would blame the Republicans; some would blame the Democrats, but as it turned out many blamed the “establishment” which included both parties in Washington, and  there was only one candidate in the presidential election who identified closely with the establishment.  In fact Hillary had been a member of the of the Washington elites for more than two decades as a Senator, member of the Obama Administrations and two time presidential candidate. These, and her eight years as “First Lady”, were broadcast as “accomplishments” and “credentials” while the anger and despair of the white working class especially those concentrated in rural an suburban areas of historically “blue states” was ignored.

The Clinton campaign strategy of relying on the Obama demographic failed.  While minorities, “millenials”, and college educated women all supported Hillary, their numbers were down.  With respect to minorities, former White House communications director and Democratic strategist, Anita Dunn offered this significant understatement after the election: 
“The emerging demographic majority isn’t quite there yet”.

With respect to the Hispanic vote, 27 to 29 percent voted for Trump.  This was essentially the same as the vote for Romney in 2012 (27%). Although Hillary won 65% of the Hispanic vote her percentage was down significantly from Obama’s total of 71% in 2012.

Columnist Reuben Navarette who writes almost exclusively about Hispanics in the U.S. explained these voters as follows:

“They didn’t trust Hillary Clinton, and they couldn’t relate to her in any way.”
“They were just as fed up with the establishment as other Americans, and just as easily seduced by an outsider like Trump.”
“They were sick of politicians who don’t offend anyone because they don’t say or do anything consequential.”
“They agreed with many of Trump’s ideas and policy proposals, and they were willing to overlook the wacky ones.”
“When Trump portrayed Mexican immigrants as violent criminals, they weren’t bothered because they just assumed he wasn’t talking about them.”

“Many are ambivalent about undocumented immigrants anyway, and, in fact, some look fondly
 on concrete walls, tighter borders, and more deportations.”

Thus nearly a third of Hispanic citizen's who voted on November 8th views closely resembled those of the Trump core, the white working class and middle class.  

The Obama factor:

Obama’s job approval rating has been up in the last few months but over most of his administration it has hovered around 47.5 percent. It’s rise at the end of his presidency might be a “nostalgia effect” since he is leaving office, or it might simply be that compared to the personal and hate filled nature of the presidential campaign, his calm demeanor set a higher standard.  In any case, Hillary chose to adopt his presidency as a model for her own if elected. She said would “go further” with his executive orders with respect to illegal aliens; she promised big spending programs and their attendant big budget deficits; an emphasis on soft immigration reform that relied on expansion of technology at the borders, and empty platitudes about “fighting for the middle class”.  But third consecutive terms for the party in power are difficult in any case and in a context of 2/3 of voters saying that the country has been on the “wrong track” over Obama’s second term, she would have been better served by proclaiming a “new day” with innovative ideas independent from the past.  

There is no question that during both the primary and general election campaigns Trump presented himself as a quasi- emotionally unstable individual at worst and a hostile boor at best. For this he was consistently and viciously excoriated in the press and social media. But Hillary’s self imposed e-mail drama, Trump’s insulting characterization of her over it, and the frantic responses made by her supporters as well as the “negative research” on Trump’s past social transgressions, real and contrived, became the Clinton supporter’s dominant narrative for the election.  Hillary’s 3-5 percent advantage in the polls was consistently close to, or within, the statistical margins of error for such polls and provided a weak measure of predictability for her success.

Meanwhile Trump ventured into “blue states” and rural and suburban areas of those states which Clinton de-emphasized as “safe” based on historical voting patterns, especially in Obama’s two previous successful campaigns.  While Hillary’s e-mail subterfuges were a political disaster as a diversion from her “message” and contributed to the widely accepted belief that she couldn’t be trusted, Trump’s basic assault on both the Republican and Democratic establishments was attracting support.  His social flaws and extremist comments made many uncomfortable but again, there were only two candidates with a chance to win and for many, his populist message overcame the discomfort in the face of Clinton’s “more of the same” promises and platitudes”.

White voters, outside of those with specific issues i.e. gays, environmental extremists and self described “progressives”, were tired of being accused of being racists, sexists and homophobes in what appeared to be a long standing  exercise in moral superiority by the political Left.  This became a specific point of emphasis when Hillary described “half of Trump’s supporters” as being “a basket of deplorables” with these specific character flaws. They were tired of political correctness; hyphenated Americans; pampered college students telling them they were “privileged”; and the political emphasis being put on the plight of refugees while their wages and economic opportunities languished.  They felt left out of the political system from which benefits come and even left out of the political debate. Trump promised to let them back in. 

There is no question that Trump was a flawed and unlikely candidate by normal presidential standards.  But while more conventional, perhaps too conventional, Hillary was also flawed and though Trump’s victory was by slim margins in most of the “blue states” and “toss up states” that he needed to win the contest, his message worked.  

Hillary was also faced with a significant enthusiasm gap.  She lost the white vote 58% to 37%.
She won 80% of the black vote but this figure was down significantly from Obama’s 93% support. Although she made much of the “breaking the glass ceiling” meme, she lost the white female vote by 53%-43%. She won the total women’s vote which included minorities by 54% to 42% but this was off set by Trump’s advantage in the total male vote of 53% to 41%.

Essentially, Clinton won by small to moderate percentages in groups that represented small to moderate numbers of voters i.e. college educated voter 52% to Trump’s 43%.  But this group consists of only 33% of the population.  Trump won the non-college degree vote by a similar margin, 52% to 44% but this group consists of 67% of the population, giving him a clear numerical advantage.  Clinton won “young voters” (18-29) by 55% to 37% but Trump won the over 65 aged voter by 53%-45%.  The final results showed that Clinton won @ 6 million fewer votes than Obama in 2012.

So what were the major elements of Clinton’s defeat?  A failed strategy that relied to heavily on a statistical analysis of Obama’s elections.  This caused her campaign strategists to ignore the fact that Obama’s race generated significant support that Hillary’s gender couldn’t match.  Also, the strategists failed to campaign vigorously in the rural and suburban areas with significant white working class voters, relying instead on the large urban areas with their higher percentages of minorities and reliable liberal voters. She never voiced a compelling reason or rationale for why she should be the President, what is commonly called a “vision for the nation”.  Instead it was a self-centered campaign built around the notion of inevitability and an alleged stature as the first woman president.

Her failure to deal with th e-mail controversy forthrightly reinforced the notion that she was untrustworthy. Her strategy consisted of a series of denials followed by admissions as the facts came out and then weak apologies and claims of innocent “mistakes” which prolonged the process and took her off message.

What will come now is uncertain.  Trump has a steep learning curve in many aspects of governance.  He doesn’t seem to know what he doesn’t know so he will have to be willing to accept the guidance of advisers who ‘do know’.  He has already come under assault by the Left, both the purveyors of hate in the media and the naive protest class in the streets.  His first political exercise, the filling of his cabinet, will be fodder for nose counter diversity gurus who will demand “fair” representation of minorities, gays, women, vegans, and yoga instructors. Then the “hard” work will begin.  His leadership skills are untested.  He will find the Republican controlled  majorities in the Congress are themselves divided.  The cooperation of any in the Democratic Congressional caucuses is unlikely.  His most extreme campaign promises will find significant opposition from ideological and practical points of view.  He cannot let himself become bogged down in extended political controversies over a multi-billion dollar border wall, a logistically impossible attempt to identify, arrest and deport eleven million illegal immigrants and a legally questionable policy of banning all Muslims from entry into the U.S.   He should concentrate on doing the “doable”, which will be difficult enough, and accept the fact that he will never gain even the modest support of the hard Left.  All of this will take time and a genuine effort among the Republicans in Congress to unify behind reasonable conservative policies.  

Trump’s history shows him not fitting the commonly accepted description of a Republican.  He is a former Democrat and currently has a Libertarian streak.  He has a lesser inclination to the use of military force in foreign policy than the so called neo-conservatives, and a tactician’s sense of avoidance of ideological rigidity.  Trump needs to grow.  He needs to transition from Trump the campaigner to Trump the President.  It will be a difficult passage. He has made a modest start however.  He has said he will not repeal ObamaCare before having a replacement in place. He has also said that the replacement will retain the inclusion of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and for young adults living with their parents. 

In the mean time the nation will be forced to endure the hysterical anger of those so ideologically committed that they are beyond reason.  The street and campus protests are driven once again by the heavily naive and the lightly educated.  For some, who are simply quasi- anarchists or self important college crusaders, protest is a sport that provides the opportunity to gather in the safe anonymity of a crowd to rage against authority and “the system”.  It also provides cover for petty criminals who arrive on the scene to loot and burn.  These protests are foolishly tolerated by some fearful city officials as “first amendment rights”.  This despite the fact that blocking traffic, breaking windows, assaulting police officers and setting fires are obvious criminal acts.  Because of the attention given them by the liberal media, and the underlying glee of many in that group who seek revenge against the voters who didn’t agree with them, and against the winning candidate for whom they have raw hate, the protests will continue until they quit from exhaustion.  But that, as in the Progressive supported and equally nonsensical Occupy protests of a couple of years ago, will happen.

In general, the control of the three branches of government by the conservative party should mean that the liberal agenda to turn the United States into a giant multi-cultural Sweden will at least be slowed.  A reconstituted Supreme Court will play an important role as will a unified Republican Congress if it can avoid counter productive, divisive, social issues like abortion and gay marriage which are settled law, in favor of the important public policy issues of federal spending, debt, border control, health care and common sense environmental solutions.  
Based on long term Republican advocacy in the Congress, initiatives on tax reform including simplification and lower rates, a reduction of anti-business regulation, further modernization of the military, and reduction in federal spending, should be expected.  Trump has already put revocation of most of Obama’s executive orders, rejection of new free trade agreements, more border security and health care reform on the schedule.  The next session of Congress should be very busy. 

 Much is being made about the fact that Hillary won a narrow victory in the popular vote and people are decrying the existence of the Electoral College system.  But this is a common occurrence “after” each presidential election.  These same critics were aware of and accepted, the system “before” the election and if Clinton’s and Trump’s positions were reversed there would be no outcry from the Left.  There are arguments for and against the Electoral College.  But in all but two cases in the modern era, the Electoral College outcome has followed the popular vote outcome.  Also, it would take a constitutional amendment to do away with the current system. That would require a 2/3 vote in a closely divided Congress and a 3/4 vote by the state’s legislatures.  If successful the immediate result would be that small population states would be consigned to irrelevance in presidential elections which could theoretically be decided by only the ten largest population states which currently hold 52% of the U.S. population. Politically, however this is almost an impossible scenario to accomplish since the small population states out number the larger population states in both the Congress and in state legislatures.  Democrats are of course eager to give their population advantages in California and New York and the crowded eastern seaboard the opportunity to elect presidents without bothering with “fly over country” but it’s not going to happen.  

Unfortunately, the Hollywood and pop star millionaire protectors of the downtrodden, who promised to punish the electorate if they dared to elect Trump by flying off to Canada have changed their minds.  There have been no reports of private jets being loaded with insulated boots and fur (fake of course) parkas. This in spite of the fact that laughing Trump voters have asked them to live up to their threats. Life will go on as before for most people, but it will be a very interesting four years.

Monday, September 5, 2016

OBAMA'S UNFINISHED BUSINESS


The end of the Obama experiment is nearby.   It was an experiment because the American presidential electorate opted for a candidate with none of the usual required entries on his resume’ and focused on the “hope and change” slogan which seemed to resonate with those “hoping” that the first black president could simply by his election victory, dispel much of the racial hostility narrative from the Left and cure racial attitudes in the nation.  But the President of the United States has much greater responsibilities, both global and national, than changing social attitudes at home and by these standards, no matter how well meaning Obama may have been, he was simply not up to the job and the experiment has failed.

 The future is fraught with danger as Obama’s presumptive successor, Hillary Clinton, seems to offer the same lack of any president’s most important quality, leadership skills. 

Obama will leave Hillary a list of important tasks which he did not have the leadership qualities and/or the knowledge and experience or the motivation to accomplish during his eight years in office.
Nonetheless, his core of apologists and knee jerk supporters offer a list of his “accomplishments” which is a good place for Hillary to start a remedial job description.

At the top of this list is usually found the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, now commonly called “ObamaCare”.

ObamaCare, signed into law in March, 2010, was an ambitious and comprehensive overhaul of American health care and the American health insurance industry.  The goal was to significantly reduce the number of uninsured Americans, lower insurance costs, and expand the coverage of individual health insurance.  The law is highly complex but after six and a half years the general parameters of its failure are apparent.

 Insurance companies, large & small are getting out of the exchanges because they are losing money. Their losses are the result of several built in defects in the law.  One is that participating insurance companies must offer the broadest possible coverage in all policies.  These include such things as comprehensive pre-natal care, birth control medications, mental health care including drug and alcohol treatments, breastfeeding support/supplies, domestic violence screening and counseling for tobacco use and healthy eating.

This “any problem you’ve got, government will fix” philosophy has resulted in losses for the participating health insurance companies in spite of higher premiums for policy holders as well as a lack of participation by individuals, especially  the young and single who don’t want to pay for coverage which they don’t need; single men don’t need “breast feeding support and supplies” and “domestic violence screening and counseling.  These individuals are opting to pay the penalty (2.5% of adjusted gross income) for non-compliance instead of the exorbitant premiums. This leaves the insurance companies client base weighted towards the older, less healthy segment of the population.

With the larger companies withdrawing from the ACA markets, there will be significantly fewer choices for those in the system and for future policy holders.  This in turn will create fewer choices for health care providers as the remaining insurers restrict their coverage to the least expensive doctors and hospitals in spite of Obama’s famously false statement that, “If you like your doctor or hospital, you can keep them.”

Individual customers who don’t have employer based coverage and who don’t qualify for the low income government subsidies, will be hit the hardest as insurance premiums dramatically rise.  This is a large group as the subsidy cut-off point is $47, 500.00 for a single person and $64,080.00 for a couple. The premium problem will be exacerbated in 2017 when the government’s annual subsidy to the insurance companies ceases.

Overall, the success of the program hasn’t met expectations as the participating pool of participants is much smaller than predicted with as many as 27 million people remaining uninsured. 
Hillary has said that she wants to improve, not replace or repeal, the ACA but she has few choices that don’t inflict severe economic pain on either  the insurance companies, the policy holders, the non-participants, or the tax payers who foot the bill for the premium subsidies. 

The ACA is an out of control Frankenstein monster  probably fundamentally and permanently flawed, but repealing it before designing a far less ambitious pseudo copy of a Canadian style single payer plan which was the goal of the Democratic congress in 2009, would cause health care chaos and be a political disaster which Hillary will not accept. But intransigent Democrats in the new congress will probably oppose any meaningful changes and the Republicans will oppose any increases in subsidies and or penalties, for non-participation.

Foreign relations:

One has to search hard and grasp at proverbial straws to find a “legacy” quality Obama foreign policy that doesn’t present a major problem for the next President.  Of course, her four years as Secretary of State creates a shared responsibility for the mess she inherits.

The Middle East still cries out for a strategy.  The Syrian civil war which overlaps the Islamic State terrorist’s war on the West is going nowhere as the Russians and Iranians have an independent agenda, and the European states, the victims of horrendous terrorist attacks and lacking American leadership are reluctant to play too aggressive a role.  Russian President Putin, emboldened by his annexation of the Ukraine’s Crimea, has filled a strategy void in Syria, unfortunately on the wrong side. Obama has been content to hand off this problem to his successor and simply engage in “targeted” air strikes and pleas to Russian president Putin to cooperate with him to negotiate a ceasefire in Syria which would benefit civilians but would represent nothing but a pause, not a strategy, to bring the conflict to an end.

Obama has abandoned the Palestinian/Israeli conundrum and brought American/Israeli relations to a historic low with the undisguised and mutual hostility between himself and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.  While maintaining the politically sensitive economic and military aid program with Israel, his public comments on the conditions for a successful settlement came without consultation with Netanyahu to whom they seemed arbitrary and lacking in understanding of the fundamental problems. 

The Iran nuclear deal, which Obama sought as a legacy accomplishment and a new relationship with the Islamic Republic has been exposed as seriously flawed and since its initiation the Iranian regime has been outwardly hostile to the U.S., even engaging in provocative military actions against U.S warships in the Persian Gulf and continuing its participation in the Syrian civil war against the U.S. backed rebel forces opposing the government of Hafez Assad.

In pursuit of a “legacy” breakthrough with the Iran, the nuclear deal disregarded Israel’s security interests.  The Israeli government considers a nuclear armed Iran as an existential threat and was ignored in the negotiations .

Obama’s response to the deepening instability and violence in the Middle East was to announce an “end to the wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq as far back as November, 2011 as a prelude to a “tilt” in foreign policy priorities towards Asia.  This hasn’t worked out well as the wars continue to this day and the Chinese government, which is the major power in Asia, is undeterred in a strategy to extend its influence and indeed domination in the South China sea thus stimulating a serious conflict with Japan over control of remote islands in the area and security concerns in numerous other Pacific nations. 

Obama’s Asian “tilt” has had no effect on the hostility of the seemingly irrational policies of North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un who has persisted in conducting nuclear weapons tests and who recently fired a submarine launched missile near Japan.  He has claimed that his country now has the capability to attack the west coast of the U.S. with nuclear armed missiles. While this is probably a gross exaggeration, it is destined to become a reality.

The TransPacificPartnership (TPP) which is another Obama “legacy” project, offered a difficult but less adversarial component of “the tilt”.  This is an international “free trade treaty” which has been in negotiations  for seven years and the proposed membership is comprised of twelve Pacific nations including the U.S., Mexico, Peru and Australia.  The U.S. Congress has given Obama “fast track” authority for ratification which means an up or down vote with no amendments but the vote has been put off until after the presidential election. The presidential “heir apparent”,  Hillary, as Secretary of State, supported TPP and called it “the gold standard” of trade agreements.  However strong opposition by Bernie Sanders and his followers during the primary elections led Hillary’s support to “evolve”, and she now opposes the successfully negotiated agreement which probably means that barring another, post-election  “evolutionary experience”, Obama’s legacy will take another hit, and without U.S. participation, the TPP will lose significance and may well fail.  The best hope for Obama’s legacy is for the project to be delayed while Hillary’s minions try and renegotiate certain elements to give her cover to declare that the treaty is “fixed” and allow a vote in a new Democratic controlled Senate.

The U.S. Economy

Much has been made about the weakness of the U.S. economy in the 2016 presidential campaign.  Unfortunately, the discussion conducted by the two final candidates has been characterized by promises without feasible solutions related to “middle class incomes” and “inequality” in wealth.

President Hillary will be faced with serious structural economic issues, the most critical being the federal debt and the annual federal deficits that contribute to its rapid growth.  Current U.S. government debt is 19.5 trillion dollars or 105% of the U.S. economy (GDP). Federal spending is @ 3.853 trillion dollars while federal tax revenue is @ 3.274 trillion which means an annual addition to the federal debt of 579 billion, not counting the annual interest on the debt, which in 2015 was 223 billion dollars at historically low interest rates.  These rates are projected to rise beginning late this year.

In spite of the prospects of continued out of control federal debt, Clinton’s campaign has largely ignored the issue, instead outlining a number of new spending programs as she tried to match Bernie Sanders’ self -described  “democratic socialist” economic agenda. This effort has produced the Clinton version of Bernie’s free college education program.  Those eligible would be students who attend in-state public institutions whose families make less than $125,000 annually. 

Her health care plan would offer local subsidized clinics offering primary care to those who can’t afford basic health care, although she has said she want’s to reform ObamaCare and retain it. Her reformed system would no doubt retain the federal subsidies for low income individuals buying health insurance from the government exchanges.  She would also allow individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 to “buy into” the Medicare program but has offered few details for this new version of a system that is already projected for insolvency.

But those are just two of Clinton’s spending proposals.  It is reported that Moody’s the investment analysis and financial company, estimates that  “Clinton would spend about $300 billion more on infrastructure over the next 10 years, $700 billion more on education, $300 billion on new worker leave policies, and $200 billion more on new economic development programs.  Combined with eliminating the sequester cuts, Clinton’s plan would increase spending by about $2.2 trillion.”

This, in spite of her “plan” to pay for it all by . . .”taxing the rich”.  One such program would start with a 3.8 percent tax on investment income for the “rich” making at least $200 thousand a year.  The truly rich, those making more than $1 million annually would face a 30% tax increase and those rock stars, athletes, and charitable foundation owners (?) making more than $5 million annually would get a another 4% surcharge.  Then everyone would face a “reform” (increase), of the capital gains tax and the inheritance tax. 
Race Relations:
According to a New York Times poll, sixty-nine percent of Americans say race relations in the U.S. are “generally bad”; the highest number since the 1992 Los Angeles race riots.  The Black Lives Matter protest group which has highlighted the deaths of several blacks during confrontations with local police agencies, is the focal point of the tension. Seventy-seven percent of American blacks agreed with the group’s claims as compared to only 37 percent of whites.
The “first black President” hasn’t helped the situation and has arguably made it worse with his public interference and bias in local police matters involving blacks. He claimed that the Cambridge, MA police were “stupid” because the asked Obama’s “friend”, Harvard historian Henry Louis Gates for identification when his neighbor reported two men breaking into Gate’s home. Gates, who had lost his house key refused to furnish ID to investigating officers and became irate when pressed for it, leading to his arrest.  
Obama tried to influence the jury in the Travon Martin/George Zimmeman case by sympathizing with Martin who was shot while attacking Zimmerman. Obama famously opined that if he had had a son he would have looked like Travon Martin.  Zimmerman was found not guilty under Florida law in what former Harvard law professor and civil rights attorney Alan Dershowitz described as a political trial. 
Obama’s lack of objectivity, and leadership in the Martin case and his claim that black shootings at the hands of arresting police officers was “a national issue” laid the foundation for Hillary to use the issue as a campaign tactic, claiming before a black audience in South Carolina that the nation was mired in “systemic racism”.  It thus does not appear that a change in the occupant of the White House and owner of “the bully pulpit” will exercise the leadership necessary to lower the temperature of the racial conflict in the country. 
Immigration:
This emotional, cultural, national security and economic issue has become a verbal war between the presidential candidates, the media and the voters. Hillary, pandering to the Hispanic voters has said will go even further than Obama’s illegal executive order to ignore immigration laws and grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens currently in the country. Without her commitment to enforce the border with Mexico she will have great difficulty in getting immigration reform passed in the Congress unless the Democrats gain majorities in both houses which are currently under control of the Republican Party. 
In sum, eight years of the Obama experiment have left the nation with most of the problems that confronted it in 2008. The economy, as measured by inflation, unemployment, GDP growth and the stock market has improved as is the case in the self-correcting nature of free markets, aided in this case by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulative monetary policies, but the federal debt and continuing deficits in federal spending are enormous issues mostly below the political and electioneering radar.

It is possible, however unlikely, that the second President Clinton will take off her campaign hat on January, 20, 2017 and put on a presidential hat with the broader responsibilities that come with it.  However, if she simply wants to be the president of the Democratic Party and ignore the problems of, and solutions for, the nation as a whole, then Obama’s “unfinished business” will remain unfinished and Hillary will leave office with her own legacy of important unresolved issues. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

BLACK LIVES MATTER: CONTEXT AND CREDIBILITY

It is difficult for white Americans or perhaps even many black Americans in upper socio-economic classes to fully evaluate the claims of “systemic racism” in the U.S. or more specifically, racist motivations on the part of the nation’s police forces.  Within the context of the thousands of police officers in the country there are undoubtedly individuals with racial prejudice.  The case that this is wide spread enough to be described as “systemic racism” still has to be proven beyond the anecdotal evidence on which the Black Lives Matter movement relies. Also the nature of the Black Lives Matter movement itself raises some doubts in this regard.

 Black Lives Matter is indeed a movement, not an organization.  It is made up of disconnected sub-groups without any central leadership.  It is essentially an internet/social media based movement which allows a variety of self-appointed “leaders” to organize protests on the local level.  The common thread that connects the localized groups is the claim that blacks are the victims of race based police brutality often leading to deadly confrontations  in which the offending officers face no accountability. 

However, in spite of Hillary Clinton’s pandering use of the term in heavily black South Carolina, the lack of attention to context on a national scale weakens the argument that the incidents most often cited are evidence of a “systemic” and racist lack of justice for blacks.

The Black Lives Matter movement was started in 2013 by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, all of Los Angeles, CA,  who cited the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida and the acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman, as the source of their personal outrage.  This incident was followed in 2014 by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City.  Both died at the hands of police officers who were attempting to make arrests.  Individuals in the movement then began monitoring police interactions with blacks across the nation and making assumptions about these incidents that supported their narrative that is based on the belief that police departments everywhere are inherently racist and motivated to kill blacks. 

Through 2016 the list most often cited is up to twelve and  these few individual cases offer the only specifics relevant to the broader claims. Some context relating to the national situation is informative.
In 2013, the FBI reported that there were approximately 764,000 commissioned full time and part time law enforcement officers serving in 11,951 agencies in the nation. A Justice Department survey based on 2013 data showed that 12.2 %  of these officers were black, close to the total percentage of blacks in the U.S. population (13.2%). The percentage of all racial minorities in the national police survey was 27.3 %.   In 2014 the FBI reported that these officers made 10,291,896 arrests.   Of the 8,730,665 non-drug arrests, 69.4% of the arrestees were white and 27.8% were black.  109,891 arrests were made for on illegal weapons charges.  Of these 57.3% were white suspects and 40.7% were black.  Arrests for murder and non-negligent manslaughter comprised 46.3 % white suspects and 51.3% black. 

With respect to the individual cases cited by Cullors and subsequently by Black Lives Matter proponents, Trayvon Martin was not killed by a police officer.  He was shot while sitting on the chest of an armed civilian, George Zimmerman and pounding Zimmerman’s head into the pavement.  Zimmerman was indicted and tried for second degree murder by a state’s attorney. 

Noted liberal and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said that the charges should never have been brought, that the trial was a political exercise and the state’s attorney should be fired for bringing them. Under Florida law, Zimmerman was legally armed and justified in using deadly force in self- defense and he was acquitted of all charges.  Thus the foundational case for the Black Lives Matter movement did not involve a police department, did not involve a white vs. black scenario since Zimmerman is of mixed ethnicity, and was fully, if inappropriately, according to Dershoweitz, adjudicated.

The case of Michael Brown is well documented and the circumstances do not fit the “murder by police” narrative.  Brown was contacted by a police officer shortly after shop lifting at a convenience store and roughing up the clerk.  The six foot-four and  @240 lb. Brown assaulted the police officer in his patrol car and attempted to steal the officer’s weapon.  After walking away and being followed by the officer he turned and approached the officer in a threatening manner and was shot.  Witnesses verified the officers description of the facts and after an extensive investigation, a grand jury declined to indict the officer.  

The Obama Administration’s Justice Department led by black Attorney General Eric Holder, conducted an extensive civil rights violation investigation and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to bring federal charges against the officer.  Brown’s race had nothing to do with his being stopped regarding the shop lifting event and nothing to do with the officer’s need to defend himself. 
The case of Eric Garner in New York City was a case of tragic circumstances involving Garner’s decision to resist arrest and his serious health problems.  He was not shot, nor intentionally killed. He had been arrested without incident for the same minor offense several times before. 

In this case he did resist arrest and because of his large size, 350 lbs., was subjected to a “choke hold”, which was identified as against police department policy.  The coroner’s report cited complicating health issues related to  “acute and chronic bronchial asthma, obesity, and heart disease” which contributed to his death. No evidence was presented that indicated that Garner’s race in any way caused the confrontation or the deadly result.  One of two department supervisors who was present at the scene, Sergeant Kizzy Adonis, is a black woman.  A federal civil rights investigation has stalled for the last two years as some officials in the Justice Department feel that there is insufficient evidence to gain an indictment of the primary officer involved.

  Regarding “white supremacy” it should be noted that the New York City’s NBC affiliate reported in 2010 that 52.5 percent of the New York City police department officers were racial minorities.
With regard to accountability, of the nine cases which are the underlying substance of the Black Lives Matter movement, an officer was indicted and tried for 2nd degree murder in the death of Jonathan Ferrell which occurred in North Carolina and which resulted in a hung jury.  In the case of Laquan McDonald who was shot in Chicago, an officer was indicted for 1st degree murder. In the Tulsa, OK case of Eric Harris, an officer was convicted of 2nd degree manslaughter.  In the death of Walter Scott in South Carolina, an officer was indicted for murder and a federal charge of civil right s violations.  Samuel Debose was killed in Cincinnati, Ohio.  An officer was indicted for murder and voluntary manslaughter.  The case of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA is currently the subject of a federal civil rights investigation.
 
In the widely reported case of the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, MD, six officers were charged with various offenses, none of which involved the use of firearms.  Three of these officers were black including the one subject to the most serious charge.  The first three trials of the officers were “bench trials” i.e. no juries.  In each of the three, the judge who is  black, acquitted each officer. The prosecution subsequently dropped the charges against the remaining three.  Professor Dershowitz described the young black prosecutor’s criminal charges as “crowd control”, not justice.

Black Lives Matter relies on several dynamics.  One is the underlying anger of black citizens, mostly in lower socio-economic classes, with the police departments charged with enforcing the law in their communities.  These communities have disproportionately high rates of crime and the police departments dealing with them are disproportionately non-black.  Additionally, a broad based social movement which requires nothing more than a click of a mouse or tab on an I-phone and asserts the hot button topic of racial victimization, attracts support from well meaning, if ill informed individuals willing to accept the claims at face value. The ever racially sensitized and controversy seeking media, and of course the political class who see political advantage in joining a movement claiming social justice, are also active participants.

The protests themselves, like their counterparts on college campuses, offer an outlet for anger, and an opportunity to reject authority and gain a feeling of self-importance from the relative safety afforded by the anonymity of the mob.  While “freedom of assembly”, the right to “petition the government” and “freedom of speech” are constitutionally protected, protests by themselves offer little once they have achieved the basic goal of “raising awareness”. The media and politicians fearing charges of “racism” are reluctant to criticize these protests based on this common sense reality.
 
To his credit, President Obama wandered briefly from his view that racism in police departments is a “national issue” and made this case:
            “The goal of protest isn’t just to protest for the sake of protesting.  The goal of protest is to then get the attention of decision-makers and sit down and say, ‘Here’s what we would like to see,’ and have a negotiation, which over time can actually lead to improvements in the system.”

            But so far, the various ad hoc “leaders” of the protests seem to be more interested in the manifestation of anger, and the media status that goes with it.  Comments from media and public officials have been careful to describe these protests as “peaceful”.  But the events in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland have been serious exceptions.
 
Essentially, few large social protests are “peaceful”.  They are almost always confrontational with respect to the police presence deployed to keep order, frequently block the free movement of pedestrians and vehicular traffic, and present the danger of encouraging actual violence as was the case in Dallas, Texas.  The ubiquitous signs carried which threaten “No justice; no peace” offer a strong counter point to these descriptions by sympathetic observers.

Thus, overall, the Black Lives Movement, is based on a premise that lacks credibility.  Using 2013 FBI statistics  as a benchmark, 
@ 556,000 blacks are arrested each year.  The "twelve" cases occurred in  the 3.5 year period of 2013-2016.  Of these, four of the suspects were armed or thought to be armed (Tamir Rice was holding a fake look-a-like semi-automatic pistol).  Seven of the suspects were resisting arrest prior to being shot.  In five of the cases, police officers involved were charged with murder or manslaughter. Two others are still under investigation. Sandra Bland, who was arrested for assaulting a police officer after a traffic stop in Texas, committed suicide in her jail cell.

The research on fatal police shootings has significant reporting weaknesses.  However, most research agrees that many more white individuals than blacks are killed by police.  It is also agreed that a higher percentage of black men are killed than whites based on respective population percentages. This figure is related to the higher percentage of black men engaged in violent crimes as cited in the FBI statistics.   However, in spite of the notoriety generated by deadly outcomes of black men, the existing reporting also shows that the real numbers and the percentage of anyone, of any race, being killed by police is extremely small as can easily be seen by the arrest statistics cited above.

It’s time for Black Lives Matter to take President Obama’s advice and use better fact based analysis as a basis for political solutions to their grievances. It would also help if, as President Obama suggested, they   said “. . .this  is what we would like to see”, and gave up their list of  provocative “demands”.   Such solutions will require an improvement in overall race relations which continued protests and hostile (and racist)  hyperbole  such as “white superiority” and “genocide” diminish.  Patrisse Cullor’s threat to get what they want or "Until then we're gonna shut shit down". is an arrogant path to chaos.





Friday, July 8, 2016

BREXIT: THE CATASTROPHE THAT ISN'T, WASN'T AND WON'T BE

The June 23, 2016 British referendum which rejected continued membership in the European Union has predictably caused much hyperventilation, despair as well as doomsday predictions among an assortment of supporters of what is still and international experiment even after sixty years.  The “exit” and “remain” sides in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe and in the pundit and investor classes in the U.S., generally broke down along lines that resembled the broad political divisions of “liberal” and “conservative”,  the major exception being the “remain” position of the head of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister David Cameron. The loss of his position on the issue was essentially a “no confidence vote” by referendum and the result was his decision to step down as Prime Minister in October of the current year.  

A less politically centered analysis would find the division characterized as “internationalist” and “nationalist”.  Financial interests, international businesses, banking and investors, who derived specific economic benefits from the EU single market structure obviously supported the “remain” position for less ideological reasons.

The immediate reaction was one of “over reaction” as British, European and American stock markets suffered large sell offs.  This of course made little actual sense and simply reflected the reaction of speculators and fund managers who were anticipating what other speculators and fund managers would do in a kind of emotional feed-back loop.  The conventional wisdom among EU and British officials is that the process of withdrawal will take up to two years so any actual non-speculative economic impact either in Britain or abroad, including the U.S,. certainly did not justify a mini-panic the day after the vote.  This obvious conclusion has since sunk in to the faint of heart as the markets have bounced back from their stunning declines the day after the Brexit result.

CNN Money reported July 4, 2016 that “Stock markets are extending their post-Brexit recovery as the pound steadies and government bond yields hold near record lows. After a firm Asia-Pacific performance, the pan-European Stoxx 600 is up 0.3 per cent with London’s FTSE 100 climbing 0.4 percent to a 10 month high.”
“New York’s S&P 500, the equity gauge that tends to set the global tone, closed . . .just 30 points shy of its record level, 5.6 per cent above the intraday low hit a week ago in the wake of the UKs decision to leave the EU.”

Of course there will be a period of economic adjustment for Britain and those who do business with British firms and banks but the nature of the new relationship with the EU institutions and  EU members states is still unknown as well as is the long term economic impact that will result. 
The new relationship between Britain and the EU will also depend on willingness of the political leadership of the member states, organized as the European Council, to create one that is mutually beneficial.  Once emotions level off the current attitude of anger exhibited by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel should diminish and she and French President Hollande who are the dominant players in the EU should accept the reality of the political situation and work to save the benefits of the integrated economies while reforming and accommodating the push back of large portions of the various member states populations to the loss of national sovereignty imposed by remote Eurocrats in Brussels.

Merkel’s petulance was exhibited by her statement that Britain cannot expect to enjoy the benefits of the EU without accepting the responsibilities. Thus she was announcing a policy of retribution designed to discourage other member states from following Britain’s path.  But it is exactly the “responsibilities”, not the trade relationship which led to the British withdrawal and which have encouraged similar movements in several other member states.
The “responsibilities” include and onerous immigration policy which is flooding the healthy economies of Western Europe with migrants from the poorer Eastern nations and is exacerbated by the Merkel led acceptance of millions of migrants from the Middle East and North Africa. When these immigrants, mostly from North Africa and Syria, are granted citizen ship in EU nations, they will join the influx from previous years. 
In 2014 out of the 889,139 citizenships granted by EU states, 89 per cent went to non-EU citizens.  In round numbers, 92,700 Moroccans, 41,000 Albanians and 37,500 Turks were granted citizenship by EU nations. Others included large numbers of Indians and Pakistanis.  Under the EU’s “free movement of people” with EU passports, all of these migrants were eligible to travel to Britain, which is more attractive than many of the other EU states because of its economy and the liberal benefits currently awarded to migrants.
Even before the current migration problems however, the responsibilities defined by Merkel were acquiescence to thousands of EU regulations on every aspect of governance from environmental rules to civil rights; banking and trade; taxation and transportation, agriculture and more.  It will not be enough to simply punish Britain through isolation and move on. The structural issues and lack of accountability of EU bureaucrats and politicians to ordinary citizens in the member states has generated political reactions in Austria, Sweden, Netherlands and France itself where the conservative National Front Party is gaining seats in regional bodies and whose leader Marine Le Pen will be a candidate for the Presidency in 2017.  

It is highly unlikely that populist political movements could bring about exits in most nations where they exist because the economies of most are more dependent on the benefits of EU membership than Britain, and unlike Britain, many are using the common currency of the Eurozone. However, their continued existence creates dangerous political instability in the member states and in the EU. 

Essentially, the integrative process of the nations of Western Europe and through inclusion in more recent years, of Eastern European states, has been too ambitious and too ideologically driven.  The process started in 1951 with the European Coal and Steel Community which sought to bind the war making capabilities of the major states to an international common market to control these essential military resources.  It was a response to the centuries of European conflict which culminated in World War II.  This six nation organization then led to the European Economic Community which was a customs union and free trade area established in 1958.   

But the leaders of the larger economies, France and Germany,  then pursued a model of political and economic integration that went far beyond the customs union/free market concept and through a series of treaties and expansion of membership culminated in the establishment of the European Union in 1993 by the Maastricht Treaty. The Treaty of Lisbon in 2002 updated and reformed the legislative procedures of the Union and furthered the political integration which exists today.

In view of the current concerns with a loss of national sovereignty it could be said that essentially, European political leaders over time outran the general populations of the member states who accepted their leadership without fully understanding the intrusive nature of the EU’s organizations. These are the European Council made up of the heads of government of the member states; the executive branch, the European Commission; the European Court of Auditors; the legislative branches, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament; and the judicial branches, the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. In addition the European Central Bank has attempted to dictate monetary policy for the eighteen economically diverse nations in the single currency Eurozone. 

The European Union will not dissolve and will not go back to the less intrusive, less integrative, simple free market and customs union status of its earlier history.  But the political elites now in office will have to address the issues, of complexity, lack of accountability, and overreach which are threatening the foundations of the organization or those elites will change after national elections in response to the populist unrest in their home countries and the threat to the organization will become more severe.
 
With respect to Britain’s withdrawal, a policy and attitude of accommodation should be the choice versus one of isolation. The British economy is the fifth largest in the current EU.  Britain’s trade with the EU is an important component  in both imports and exports.  Britain’s position as a world financial center is of utmost importance to the EU and the wider world.

A procedure to avoid unnecessary negative outcomes for both the EU and Britain is readily available and already in place with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, none of which are EU members.  Instead all have association agreements through the European Free Trade Association which give them access to the EU market and vice versa.  Under these specific arrangements they have agreed to the single market requirement of “free movement of workers” holding EU passports to cross national borders.  However, since this is one of the reasons why British voters opted for independence from the EU it would not be unreasonable for EU leaders to negotiate a similar deal that fits the needs of the British electorate and avoids major disruption of trade which benefits no one. There is also no reason that Britain cannot negotiate bilateral trade agreements with individual EU states, and of course Britain and the EU are both members of the World Trade Organization which works to facilitate low trade barriers between its 164 members.

As mentioned above, leaders of some EU members, apparently with Germany and France in the forefront, will argue that such an accommodation would encourage other populist groups in other member states to seek similar withdrawals.  But most EU members receive more economic benefits from the EU than does Britain.  The EU derives significant income from the value added taxes on the sale of goods and services assessed by each EU member.  Britain’s value added tax is 20%.  These funds are redistributed as development and subsidy funds to the neediest regions in the member states under programs called Structural Funds and Cohesion Funds.  The stated goal of these funds is “to reduce regional disparities in income, wealth and opportunities”.  Thus, unlike Britain, member states that receive more from the EU than they contribute would not have a strong incentive for withdrawal. In 2015 Britain paid the EU $8.5 billion British Pounds more than it received or 23 million Pounds a day.
Of course there will be consequences, especially in the short to medium term.  Financial markets don’t like instability, or the unknown. British industries with significant export markets will suffer a loss of confidence and drag the broader markets down during the period of reorganization.  While some are predicting recession in the British economy due to cutbacks in these enterprises, the British market for EU exports should eventually stimulate some sober thinking among the currently angry EU leaders to work with the new British leaders to bring about a productive alternate relationship.
Still, currency markets are already affected and may continue to be until longer term trends in the British and EU economies are apparent.  In the shorter term the British pound will lose value against the U.S. dollar as will the EURO. This will make U.S. exports to these areas more expensive but will make British and EU exports less expensive which will help offset the loss of duty free markets for Britain.

Essentially what British voters were saying was they were not ready to give up their British national identity, national sovereignty (self rule) or British culture to a growing federal system run by unaccountable foreign bureaucrats.  They are not alone in these thoughts and the fact that French president Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel know this is demonstrated by their initial reaction to punish Britain as a deterrent to populist movements in other EU states.