Boris Johnson does not have a majority for “no deal.” But we knew that already. This is largely the same parliament that didn’t have a majority for any option. The changes that have occurred and are occurring can only make Johnson’s life more difficult.
In a column this Sunday, Johnson embraced the legacy of the American moon landing. If astronauts “could use hand-knit computer codes to make a frictionless reentry to the Earth’s atmosphere,” he wrote, “we can solve the problem of frictionless trade at the Northern Ireland border.”
There is exactly one way that analogy works: “You can’t BS your way into space.” And you can’t bullshit your way to a deal with the European Union either:
Now, under a Johnson government, Britain could crash out of the E.U. without a divorce deal in place this Halloween, unleashing untold horrors on the British economy. Westminster watchers puzzle over the profound impediments still facing Johnson in Parliament, the sharpening of knives by rivals within his own party and the probable humiliating concessions he may have to make to get European counterparts to consider renegotiating Britain’s terms of withdrawal.
But as it has been, the legal default is “no deal” and Johnson has indicated his government will be preparing for it while sticking to his magical thinking that there are alternatives to the Irish backstop.
And indeed, utterly unsurprisingly, Michael Barnier, the European Union’s chief negotiator has already vetoed Johnson’s plan. That doesn’t seem to have clarified matters for the true believers who continue to cling to their delusions, but it should for a lot of other folks in Parliament and for British subjects who will bear the predicted recession that follows from “no deal.” It certainly seems to have for Scottish politicians who are now looking to a second referendum on independence.
Rajeev Syal, “‘Summer’s day massacre’ may spell backbench trouble for Boris Johnson,” Guardian, July 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/24/philip-hammond-quits-johnson-fully-aligned-chancellor-gauke-stewart
Anna Mikhailova et al, “Michel Barnier rejects Boris Johnson’s ‘unacceptable’ Brexit plan,” Telegraph, July 25, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/25/boris-johnson-new-prime-minister-cabinet-parliament-brexit-latest/
My dissertation defense was not like that at all. It’s interesting to me that, I guess, many are. Academia is a weird place but the Human Science program I did my Ph.D. in was about honest scholarship and I remain profoundly grateful to Joann McAllister (erstwhile department chair and a member of my committee), Bob McAndrews (my advisor and committee chair), and other professors in that program, now still being “taught out,” but well on its way to being defunct, for their honesty and their brilliance. (My comments here would be incomplete without a similar acknowledgment of Marc Pilisuk, not of the Human Science program, but the third member of my committee, also brilliant, also honest, and to whom I am also profoundly grateful. I honestly cannot imagine having a better committee than the one I had.)
All in all, [Robert] Mueller’s low-key performance probably didn’t give either the majority or the minority what they might have hoped for. But the incomplete nature of his testimony was, in a way, the point. At the hearings’ end, [Adam] Schiff closed by noting the many things Mueller had not done: he had not told Congress whether he would have indicted the president in the absence of the OLC memo; he had not said whether the president should be impeached; he had not spoken to the findings of any counterintelligence investigation or of any investigation into corrupt financial dealings within the administration. In each instance, Schiff said, Mueller had acted properly; the responsibility was not the former special counsel’s, but that of Congress. Schiff’s remarks were a kind of mustering call for the House, an acknowledgement to Mueller that the former special counsel’s role was over and that he had successfully passed the baton to the legislative branch.
The consensus following Robert Mueller’s testimony is that it changed very little and that his performance was, well, as Jill Wine-Banks put it, “not made for TV.” The latter is a disappointment but the former was to be expected:
There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis, and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself.
The report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress.
An interesting legal argument for impeachment to emerge from the hearings is that Donald Trump would run out the statute of limitations on an obstruction of justice charge simply by remaining in office if re-elected next year.
Interesting but ultimately meaningless: Barack Obama demonstrated what the neoliberal party will do with executive branch criminality under a previous administration: Refuse to prosecute. The neoliberals will chant their mantra about healing a deeply divided country while human beings continue to suffer from the crimes committed against them, then embrace and extend that criminality. And we’ll all be supposed to sing Kumbaya.
One thing we won’t do is sing Kumbaya. It won’t work that way. It never does. But if there’s one thing neoliberals never do, it’s learn. Because learning would require them to abandon their oh so precious ideologies. And in this case, the precedent that would follow from such learning might expose one of their own should a subsequent Republican administration find that a neoliberal president was criminal, which they all are, but generally not in ways that any Republican would ever prosecute under any circumstances.
Another bit to emerge is that Mueller believes Russia is working to interfere in U.S. elections again in 2020 and that other countries are developing the capabilities to interfere in U.S. elections. Given the U.S. record in other countries, including Palestine with Hamas, Guatemala with a coup, what we’ve been trying to do in Venezuela for years, and many, many more, to be so disturbed about this is nothing short of absolute hypocrisy.
It’s the political science theory of realism at work, in which countries act not according to any high-minded principle but rather in their own interest. It’s an ugly and flawed theory, but many politicians, including Donald Trump, around the world take it as their lodestar: Other countries will interfere in U.S. elections, just as the U.S. does in theirs.
Finally, we should note that Mueller’s condemnation of Wikileaks, and Trump’s embrace of the organization while a candidate, was in part for exposing how Hillary Clinton had co-opted the Democratic National Committee, sinking Bernie Sanders’ bid for the 2016 nomination. Neoliberals really don’t want a full accounting.
Scott R. Anderson et al., “Mueller’s Testimony: The Baton Passes to Congress,” Lawfare, July 24, 2019, https://www.lawfareblog.com/muellers-testimony-baton-passes-congress
Politico, “‘A New Legal Argument for Impeachment,’” July 24, 2019, https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/07/24/mueller-testimony-legal-experts-analysis-227419
Maria Sacchetti and Spencer S. Hsu, “Federal judge in California halts Trump’s latest asylum ban,” Washington Post, July 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/federal-judge-allows-trump-administration-rule-restricting-asylum-access-to-continue/2019/07/24/eec83cfe-adba-11e9-8e77-03b30bc29f64_story.html
It turns out there’s a federal program to pay for those school lunches in poor enough districts. The Pennsylvania school district that sent those threatening letters and then initially refused donations to cover lunch debts qualifies.
The problem here for me is that I don’t care nearly so much about what somebody does after they’ve been shamed as I do about what they do before being shamed. There is no apology, no reparation, no restitution, and no explanation that makes what the Wyoming Valley West School District did acceptable or in any way excusable. These people should never be allowed any control over any children again anywhere. I still want their heads.
Susan Scutti, “Pennsylvania school lunch debt furor ends with an apology and an announcement: free lunch for all,” CNN, July 25, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/25/us/pennsylvania-lunch-debt-furor-apology/index.html