Thursday round-up

1. The UK court ruling on Brexit
For some reason, the ruling by the UK High Court that the British government cannot invoke Article 50 of the EU Treaty without explicit parliamentary approval has stirred up a hornet’s nest, with pro-Brexit politicians, commentators and media outlets pissing and moaning about the ruling, engaging in ad hominem attacks on the judges etc. etc.
This is all very puzzling on a logical level. Under UK law, a referendum cannot bind the government. It is only advisory. Everybody knew this before the referendum campaign even started. Parliament governs the country. What part of “this referendum is advisory” do the complainers not understand?
(That was of course a rhetorical question. The pro-Brexit complainers understand it perfectly well, but it is not in their interests to talk about it. Their interest is in insisting that parliament should immediately agree to invoke Article 50, since that is The Will Of The People).
As Ilya Somin points out in this article, if parliament has to approve Brexit, it is always possible that if the government delays or stalls on a decision, a differently constituted parliament (i.e. one formed after the next General Election) could elect to not pursue Brexit. It is likely that the next General Election will have Brexit as one of its major campaign and public policy issues, and a change in public opinion in the meantime could swing the new parliament from its current party political and Brexit attitude.

2. The Hillary Clinton email controversies
The media and many commentators, along with a lot of people out there on the internet who should damn well know better, continue to be obsessed with the whole lengthy saga revolving around Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
As Orin Kerr points out, the level of scrutiny being applied to any topic or event that contains the words “Clinton” and email is obsessive and excessive merely due to the fact that Hillary Clinton is running for POTUS.
I would be a lot more impressed if the people doing the complaining were showing equal concern about the endemic and long-standing use of private email and non-government email accounts and servers by other politicians at all levels. Here is a short list of Republican party politicians that used private email accounts.
The bottom line is that all politicians of any party, if given the choice between public transparency and private machination, will opt for the latter unless that results in them being tossed from office and/or jailed. Transparency is a bad idea in the current political climate, since it would expose the extent to which politicians at all levels are funded and influenced by groups and individuals other than their electorates.
So, if all people do is rant about Hillary’s emails, I will have to conclude that they are either only worried about Hillary, or that they are not paying attention to the broader issue that the use of private email is showing up. Either way, that reduces the credibility of their complaints and makes them look unserious.

3. Don’t pick a fight with Jon Stewart
Back in 2004, Jon Stewart went on “Crossfire” and engaged in a vigorous discussion with Tucker Carlson and his co-host Paul Begala. He bluntly and comprehensively eviscerated Carlson and “Crossfire” on prime-time TV. Not long after that, “Crossfire” was cancelled.
So when Donald Trump more recently tried questioning and mocking Stewart’s decision to change his name for show business purposes (ignoring the massive number of people of all faiths who have done just that in the past) he should have been much better informed if he thought he could win that sort of sniping contest. Stewart responded in kind and, being Stewart, engaged in comprehensive ridicule.
As a general rule, it is a bad idea for a politician to pick a fight with an author or a comedian. It is highly likely that in both cases, the result will be the politician appearing as an object of ridicule or a punch-line.

4. The School Of BullShit Electoral Communications
Fake ballot flyers in Florida.
no, you cannot vote by Text message.
Yes, there may well be a lot of bullshit websites being run from abroad that are seeking to influence the US election. You did know that the internet is international, right?


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