Saturday, July 23, 2022

Every day is No-Deal Brexit Day

[This is entirely a recycling of material from 18 months ago, but then again, the traffic situation in Kent is a recycling of material from 18 months ago.]

Scene: The English camp on the M20 in Kent, bound for #Dover or #Folkestone, and on to France.


O that we now had here

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do work from home today!


What's he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:

If we are mark'd to tariff, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to trade,

The fewer goods, the greater share of quotas.

God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

By Gove, I am not covetous for turbot,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires:

But if it be a sin to covet control,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:

God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour

As one man more, methinks, would share from me

For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!

Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this traffic jam,

Let him depart; his passport shall be blue

And euros for convoy put into his purse:

We would not wait in that man's company

That fears his fellowship to be stuck with us.

This day is called the feast of No Deal Brexit:

He that outlives this day, and comes home ever,

Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,

And rouse him at the name of BROCK.

He that shall live this day, and see old age pension,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say 'To-morrow is No Deal Brexit:'

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his Kent Access Permit.

And say 'This paperwork I had on No Deal Brexit day.'

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,

But he'll remember with advantages

What lay-by feats he did that day: then shall our names.

Familiar in his mouth as household words

Boris the king, Gove and Dominic,

Priti and Nigel, Rishi and Arlene,

Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And No Deal Brexit Day shall ne'er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remember'd;

We few, we happy few, we band of lorry drivers;

For he to-day that looks for the nearest toilet with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition:

And gentlemen in England now a-bed

Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks

That queued with us upon No Deal Brexit day.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

Ferry Across the Hudson

New York Times culture reporter Dave Itzkoff interviewing British actor Mark Rylance, this is the final exchange after Rylance spoke about how to it was in some ways easier for him to learn about American popular culture in England --

Itzkoff: This makes me want to take a trip to England and learn what I’m missing about American culture. 

Rylance: You could just take a day trip to New Jersey and get the same thing.

Monday, May 02, 2022

The French politics theory of everything

Ross Douthat in the Sunday New York Times --

Six years ago, under the pressure of Donald Trump’s insurgency, the G.O.P. split into three factions.

He goes on to describe the 3 factions: party establishment, "True Conservative" / reactionary, and populist / pugilist. 

This certainly has descriptive power. But did it begin 6 years ago, and is it more general? The division is very easy to map into the famous classification by René Rémond of the French right into Orléanist, Legitimist, and Bonapartist. The first looks for an accommodation with constitutional change and pushes market-oriented policies, the second is reactionary and dwells on perceived loss to social change, and the third looks to go forward, under an inspirational but combative and authoritarian leader. 

Douthat looks at various plausible consequences of the factionalism and the complications caused by Trump's occasional drifting between them. But he doesn't focus on the ultimate outcome in French politics: the weakening of political parties and the evolution of parties into personal vehicles. It might be better to think of the Republican party has already having broken up and at this point more of a logistics vehicle for soliciting opinions. But that would need a different kind of political analysis than the American public gets. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Kevin McCarthy will be fine

Why has there been no reaction to Kevin McCarthy saying one thing in public and another in private, in this case about whether Trump should have resigned in January 2021 after the Capitol Riot? This is usually presented as "hypocrisy," per this New York Times analysis. 

In fact, the public assumes a divergence between public and private statements, and considers the private statements to be true. 

It's all in Niklas Luhmann

Monday, April 11, 2022

The Kinahans hit the big time

 Here's a link to the latest action by US Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) regarding the "transnational criminal organization" consisting of the Kinahan Organized Crime Group. It will be seen as somewhat embarrassing in Ireland and UAE that it's gotten to this point; noteworthy in particular is that the gang members appear to have been able to establish local residency and companies in the UAE despite general knowledge of their activities. Perhaps they can compare notes with the newly arriving Russian oligarchs on how to work around these inconveniences. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Sometimes a trade deal is just a trade deal

[Originally posted in 2014; reposting in light of Russian invasion of Ukraine]
Barack Obama, 10 November 2011 --

Russia’s World Trade Organization (WTO) accession would be yet another important step forward in our reset of relations with Russia, which has been based upon the belief that the United States and Russia share many common interests, even as we disagree on some issues. Whether cooperating to supply our forces in Afghanistan, securing nuclear materials, or achieving the New START Treaty, the United States and Russia have demonstrated the ability to produce “win-win” outcomes on security issues. Russia’s dramatic step today towards joining the WTO underscores our ability to cooperate also on economic issues of mutual interest.

[previous item in this series]

Peace through trade

[originally posted September 2016; reviving given the Russian invasion of Ukraine]

That was once the Obama Administration theory about how to get Russia onside. From Foreign Policy, May 2011; the context is that Russia was seeking to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO), but since admission of new members is by consensus, Georgia, which has territory occupied by Russia, could have blocked it --

... Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in France. A senior White House official told ABC News after the meeting that Obama has "personally been engaged in" the issue for months, and actually set up the Swiss negotiations and convinced both the Russian and Georgian leaders to attend. The senior official also compared the Georgians to the Palestinians, saying that, with regard to Georgia’s desire to end the Russian occupation, "[T]he WTO is not the forum in which to resolve this… like the Palestinians pursuing the vote at the U.N." "We think that Russian accession to the WTO will be good for the Russian economy, will be good for the U.S. economy, it will be good for the world economy," Obama said today. "And we are confident that we can get this done." There are also signs that senior administration officials have placed pressure on Georgia to make a deal ...

Bonus points for the Administration's then analogy between the Georgians and the Palestinians regarding how to resolve occupied territory!

Sunday, January 02, 2022


The Continental USA has a new winter storm according to the Weather Channel. It's named Frida. And here we go again. This "storm" is actually a weather system that is crossing the country on an approximately diagonal path. The weather conditions that it produces in a particular area depend on the ground and atmospheric conditions with which it interacts and there is no common thread except turbulence. But when you're competing with Covid case counts, you need a hook, and a named storm will have to do. 

Saturday, January 01, 2022


From the annual (if delayed) Maureen Dowd New York Times column where she hands the keyboard to her conservative brother Kevin --

That day was awful to watch because protecting the Capitol was our family business. My father was in charge of security for the United States Senate. He got summer jobs for me and all my four siblings at the Capitol when we were teenagers.