‘Nations stumble upon establishments, which are indeed the result of human action,
but not the execution of any human design.’
Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

10 April 2020

Update on future DMI posts

Anyone looking for a writer in politics or economics on the East Coast? (I am currently based in Nova Scotia.) Or know of opportunities in writing or politics? I find myself in need of new financial opportunities mid-April, with no time to waste. Details and contact information can be found at this Facebook post.

Incidentally, I will be offline sine die and will be unable to post notices of any future published wires. Interested readers may go to my Muck Rack journalism account, that is updated automatically.

And join the conversation with DMI on Facebook.

Your support in past years is appreciated.

~ Stephen MacLean

24 February 2020

On the Record | Brexit Britain Must Ally with America

Please see my February 22nd wire for The American Spectator, ‘Brexit Britain Must Ally with America’:

Is it conceivable that Brexit passions are spent in Westminster? Have political exertions of the last four years — of devising stratagems and repelling Remainers — exhausted the fervor for independence? For while some MPs may be world-weary, rank-and-file Brexiteers are only beginning to feel their oats.

Brexiteers are not content merely to take back power from Brussels. They want to take back power from Westminster, too. They want what is rightfully theirs: self-government, in their politics and in their persons. “Oppressions and dissatisfactions being permitted to accumulate — if ever the governed throw off the load,” John Dickinson wrote of popular disaffection, “they will do more.” To wit: “A people does not reform with moderation.”

If Brexiteers are gung-ho, why is their prime minister gummed up? Last week’s Cabinet shuffle suggested Boris Johnson, satisfied with taking Britain out of the European Union, is less eager to follow British independence to its logical conclusion: downsizing Whitehall. Instead, as Breitbart London’s James Delingpole reports, the Government’s focus is becoming, “Are you with us or against us?”

The Brexit baffle now threatens to impact Britain’s global agenda. The prime minister postponed a planned February meeting (itself pushed back from January) with President Donald Trump, rescheduled to the G7 summit meeting in June at Camp David.

Downing Street responds that a pressing domestic agenda, plus the need to marshal resources for global trade deals — let alone finessing the EU for December’s trade deadline — requires the prime minister to prioritize. One official used a Lord of the Rings analogy to explain the prime minister’s reasoning to the London Sun. “When the Eye of Sauron is off the Whitehall machine,” the Sun was told, “things stop working.”

More ominously, Britain’s decision to award Huawei a major role in structuring the UK telecom industry has dismayed the Trump administration. Breitbart London reports Trump “slamming the phone down” with Johnson, angered by Britain’s failure to heed warnings from the United States (and other allied countries) about the security threats posed by the Chinese company. Johnson is anxious not to antagonize the president, but ignoring him is not the route to realizing imperative U.S.–UK cooperation.

Confronting such condemnatory consensus, Johnson would be wise to reappraise his Huawei decision. But neither American nor British conservatives must be diverted from their larger objectives. The leader of the rightist European Reform Group in Parliament, Steven Baker, is adamant. “We need to be negotiating with the U.S. now,” Baker asserts. “Time is running out with our best ally as we head to a presidential election.”

Securing a free trade deal with America is clearly a priority. Leaked elements on Brussels’ trade scenario with Britain — in comprehensive fields of finance, fisheries, tax, and regulatory policy, to name but a few — leave no doubt the EU plans to humiliate the UK. A U.S.–UK deal is ever more vital, both as a means of forcing an EU “rethink” and in the likely event no compromise from the Continent is forthcoming.

“Reinforcing” the radical Anglo-American agenda to upend the statist status quo is another reason why comity between Trump and Johnson is so vital.

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.


My thanks to editor Wlady Pleszczynski of The American Spectator.

On the Record | Brexit Britain Betrayed

Please see my February 16th wire for The American Spectator, ‘Brexit Britain Betrayed’:

There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour.

~ Benjamin Disraeli

Barely two weeks since Brexiteers celebrated Britain’s exit from the European Union, already alarms are being raised that Britons’ ultimate independence is still under siege. Not from Brussels, but from Westminster. Oh, say it isn’t so. Still, few are unsurprised, if nevertheless saddened, that Boris Johnson fails to live up to expectations.

Brexiteers were always skeptically optimistic about the prime minister’s prospects. As European correspondent for the London Telegraph, Johnson was solidly dismissive of the burgeoning EU superstate. Yet as London mayor, his record was unremarkable for its adherence to conservative principles — a record unchanged as prime minister. Some men “count it a bondage to fix a belief,” Francis Bacon believed; while James Delingpole surmises that “Boris’ problem (one of several) is that he is a man of no certain political principle who likes to be liked.”

The Brexit brief is no less blemished. While a member of Theresa May’s cabinet, Johnson resigned as Foreign Secretary when Theresa May’s Chequers Agreement (July 2018) alluded that UK–EU negotiations would achieve a Brexit in name only.

Then, when the prime minister’s Withdrawal Agreement came before the House of Commons in the early months of 2019, Johnson voted no against the agreement twice, only to acquiesce on the third attempt to pass the bill. He rationalized his reversal on the justification that worse was to come if Remainers prevailed.

In the face of overwhelming opposition from all sides in the Commons, May resigned the premiership in June. Boris Johnson was the presumptive favorite. Other challengers for the Conservative leadership were as strong (if not more so) proponents of Britain’s independence from the EU, but none shared his charisma or popular appeal — both vital if Brexit was to make it over the finish line. So “up to the top of the greasy pole” Boris went and into Number 10.

The new prime minister enjoyed no more respite from Parliament than his predecessor. Even his prorogation to bring in a fresh parliamentary session was overturned by a suspect UK Supreme Court — an affront to prerogative that ensnared Elizabeth II along with Johnson. Finally, in October, he reached a deal with Brussels to the angst of Brexiteers — an agreement many argued was even worse than that which May had achieved.

Regardless, the die was cast. Looking for solace where they would, Brexiteers reasoned that as bad as Boris’s deal might be, there was wiggle room moving forward. Only Brexit had to be won first or else all was in vain. And the prime minister was still their ace card against the range of Remainers rising up to revoke Brexit.

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.


My thanks to editor Wlady Pleszczynski of The American Spectator.

11 February 2020

On the Record | Brexit Success Will Inspire Envy for EU

Please see my February 10th wire for The American Spectator, ‘Brexit Success Will Inspire Envy for EU’:

There is a dayspring in the history of this nation, which perhaps those only who are on the mountaintops can as yet recognize,” Benjamin Disraeli wrote of England. “You deem you are in darkness, and I see a dawn.”

Since January 31, when Britain regained political independence from the European Union, Brexiteers occupy those “dizzying” heights as they contemplate the potential before them. Opponents of breaking free from the bonds of Brussels, meanwhile, remain very much in the dark. For them, it is not the dawn of a new day but the sunset of their hopes to partake of a Euro superstate.

Premier Boris Johnson rallied the nation from 10 Downing Street. “This is not the end, but a beginning,” he said. (Who now denies that Johnson is the heir to Disraeli?) “This is the moment that the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act in our great national drama,” Johnson enthused, “a moment of real national renewal and change.” Echoing Disraeli, the prime minister promised, “This is the dawn of a new era.”

The work of Brexit is only just begun. Britain remains in a “transition” period, still under EU partial jurisdiction until the end of the year, when it successfully negotiates a trade agreement with its former EU colleagues or strikes forth on a “clean break” Brexit and trades with the EU on World Trade Organization rules.

For all Johnson’s optimism, the prospects of arriving at amiable terms with the EU are grim. Its leaders are demanding “alignment” on matters of trade and regulations, and a “level playing field” with respect to UK’s future taxation and welfare policies. Brussels’ aim is to curtail any economic advantages that cutting taxes and regulations may give to Britain, while simultaneously slipping in a “poison pill” to kill off UK trade agreements on the global stage, principally with America.

Britain, regardless, should consider itself lucky. EU leaders are planning worse to come for the remaining EU-27 member countries.

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.


My thanks to editor Wlady Pleszczynski of The American Spectator.

05 February 2020

On the Record | For a Full Brexit, Get Government Out of the Way

Please see my February 4th wire as Brexit diarist for The New York Sun, ‘For a Full Brexit, Get Government Out of the Way ’:

The early 1920s epitomized economic growth and employment opportunity. Good things in themselves, but especially so when “progressive” thinking at the end of the Great War argued that if nations wound down their “warfare-state” programs of government interventions, price controls, and deficit spending, a period of massive unemployment would ensue as soldiers returned from the front and public expenditures shrank.

Anything but happened, especially in America, where the laissez-faire Warren G. Harding replaced the Big State of Woodrow Wilson. One reaction of this was to put the lie to the statist sympathies of one Herbert Croly. An early progressive, Croly, later a founder of “The New Republic,” was the author in 1906 of “The Promise of American Life.” One of its prescriptions was to marry the power of the state to realize human fulfillment.

Or the idea of using “Hamiltonian means to achieve Jeffersonian ends.” Only disciples of the strong central government ideas of Alexander Hamilton could cheer this prospect. Who can deny the benefits of meeting your full potential? Yet the means to achieve it were antithetical to limited-government Jeffersonians: redistributive taxes, social welfare programs, and the requisite “big state” to make it all happen.

Now comes Britain’s exit from the European Union. It holds out the promise of something different, or something that hasn’t been tried in recent years. Its promise is independence. Ostensibly, the objective is for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union. That, though, is but the beginning. The promise goes, and will need to go, beyond simply leaving one arena of over-government. Don’t Britons deserve a “full Brexit”?

“Hell, yeah!” Brexiteers will proclaim. And Boris Johnson, iconoclast, bon vivant, and Brexit cheerleader-in-chief, is just the man to do it. He can adapt Croly’s phraseology to fit the new Brexit paradigm. He can “make Britain great again,” not by using the levers of State power but by lifting the dead hand of government from the economy and unleashing human potential.

Read more . . .

Remarks are welcome on DMI’s Facebook page.


My thanks to editor Seth Lipsky of The New York Sun.