Brexit (for Americans)

First things first: I’m an American political scientist! I’m not, by any means, an expert in UK politics, European politics, or for that matter, economics, immigration, or parliamentary democracy. But if, like me, you woke up in one of our six time zones and are wondering exactly what the hell is going on over there, then I can help you out.

Cool? Cool.

What exactly did the UK do?

The UK held a nationwide referendum to either stay in, or leave the European Union. A referendum is a form of direct democracy; it gives everyone who votes a direct say in whether or not a law passes. Usually, decisions like this are handled through your legislative representatives: Parliament in the UK, Congress over here. Referendums in the UK are rare - this is only the third in its entire history.

The UK’s referendum is nonbinding, which means that the result of the referendum does not actually have the force of law behind it - Parliament still has to vote. More on this later.

Is it possible they thought they were all voting on a new, less boring flag?

What’s the European Union, again?

The EU is, at its most basic level, a collection of European nations that have all agreed to the same common system of laws and economics. On things like trade, economics, agriculture, development, and free movement of citizens throughout Europe, the EU has agreed to all play by the same rules (more or less). The aim of the EU is, essentially, a Europe united by trade, freedom of movement, a single currency, and shared citizenship.

The EU has its own system of government, not unlike the US or the UK. The Council of the EU and the European Parliament legislate and have control over the budget. The European Commission acts as an executive branch, and is responsible for implementation of the laws - it’s even led by a President. The EU has a system of courts, a central bank, its own system of auditors, a diplomatic corps - it’s basically a nation made of smaller nations.

The EU operates on a system of shared competence, which means that the member-states have given up their authority to make laws in certain areas that affect other member-states. So, for example - France, Germany, and the Netherlands are all beholden to the laws that the EU makes about fisheries. If their own legislatures suddenly decided that a fishery overhaul was absolutely necessary, then whatever law they made would be superseded by EU laws. On the other hand, the EU also agrees that matters of culture, industry, tourism, education, sports, and a whole swath of other issues are best handled by the member-states, and stays out of them - by and large, European member-states still mostly govern themselves.

What are the arguments for the UK leaving the EU?

There are a few of them, and they largely originate from one of two similar ideological camps: The nationalists and the anti-immigrationists.

Boris Johnson attempting to express the human emotion which we call “happiness.” Don’t give up, Boris! It’s hard! 

 The nationalist argument for leaving the EU, largely put forth by people like former Mayor of London and Trump Hairstylist Boris Johnson, says that the EU is a threat to British sovereignty. They are uncomfortable with the idea that they have to give up authority to the EU bureaucracy. They argue that the EU’s executive branch isn’t directly accountable to voters in Britain, and that there’s no way for your average British citizen to affect things that have a direct impact on their daily lives. Additionally, the nationalists have characterized the regulations the EU places on British businesses - things like “work safety standards” - as “burdensome.” They often cite things like power regulations for vacuum cleaners and toasters or an EU-wide ban on oddly-shaped bananas, which led the BBC to publish a compilation of debunked “Euromyths.” 

The anti-immigrationist argument for leaving the EU revolves around conservative insecurity that EU immigration policy is too lax, and that immigration to the UK is a drain on public resources. Anyone who has been paying attention to American politics recently will recognize a certain Trumpian aroma to this line of thinking. People like Nigel Farage, head of the very conservative UK Independence Party (UKIP), believe that the flood of immigrants from Eastern Europe has negatively affected the wages and job prospects for native-born British workers, and are crowding out already-scarce public resources like the National Health Service. This movement is, unfortunately, nothing new on either side of the Atlantic - immigration is a historically popular scapegoat for economic, political, and cultural distress. We’re seeing a lot of that over here this year, too.

Nigel Farage poses in front of an anti-immigration poster that invokes similar imagery from Nazi propaganda.

What are the arguments for staying in the EU?

There are a lot of arguments to remain. About three million UK jobs are linked in some way to the EU and will now experience a great deal of uncertainty. In the 24 hours since the referendum to leave the EU passed, the UK’s economy has experienced a significant shock, with the value of the pound sterling dropping to all-time lows and shares of British banks falling by as much as 30%. The European market is the UK’s biggest trade partner, and a lot of that depends on the free movement of goods from the UK to the continent. EU supporters also say that the severity of regulations are exaggerated, that the EU doesn’t actually care what the shape of your bananas are, and that the folks who use immigration as a scapegoat are being reactionary and xenophobic. Additionally, leaving the EU reduces the power and influence the UK has on the world stage and adversely affects its standing with the European community, of which it has been a part for decades. And to think that regulation would simply cease with Britain’s exit from the EU is ludicrous - the source of regulation would simply move one rung lower down the ladder, and the ire of conservative pundits would shift from Brussels back to Downing Street.

What now?

Well, so far, a lot of the Remain arguments seem to be playing themselves out. Economic markets all over the world are down, including our own here in America. David Cameron, the UK’s Prime Minister, who was a vocal supporter of Remain, has announced that he will resign in October, after he begins the process of overseeing Britain’s transition out of the EU. Chances are, he’ll be replaced by someone a good deal more conservative. Nigel Farage has already gone on record as saying that the UK deserves a Brexit Prime Minister, and that’s probably what they’ll get.

Turns out, allegedly having sex with a dead pig is only the second-most embarrassing part of Cameron’s political career.

Internationally, the UK may already be facing problems. As soon as the referendum to leave the EU passed, the Scottish First Minister began making noise about holding another referendum to secede from the UK - after all, membership in the EU was a huge deciding factor in the Scottish referendum in 2014, in which Scotland decided to stay a member of the UK. Additionally, Sinn Fein, Ireland’s oldest political party and political wing of the IRA, began talking about Irish reunification. This possibility is a good deal scarier for citizens of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and brings to mind the not-too-distant Troubles. It is also a less likely outcome; even though Northern Ireland on the whole voted to Remain, Sinn Fein is in the political minority and should probably not be taken as a consensus on the Irish view of the situation.

The last thing to keep in mind is that this entire referendum was non-binding - it didn’t have the force of law behind it. Parliament still has to vote to invoke Article 50 of the EU Charter, which is what officially starts the process of their exit. And if the 24 hours of economic turmoil and buyer’s remorse are any indication, there is a chance that Parliament may decide to go against 52% of the British public and vote to stay. But that process is largely up to David Cameron, who during the lead-up to the referendum repeatedly promised that the results would stick. The shock to the world economy that occurred today is only the beginning of a long period of uncertainty for the future of the United Kingdom and of Europe as a whole.

To my UK readers, of which I know I have more than a few: Stay safe.

For more information, The Guardian and The BBC have been running stories about this all day, and will continue to be doing so for the foreseeable future. For example: 

I found these extremely helpful, and if you want to learn more, I hope you will too!

As always, thank you for reading. If you have anything to add - I’m sure that I oversimplified a great deal, for example - feel free to shoot me an ask or reblog with your comments!

Humiliated Lawmakers Get Lesson In Treating Kids Like D*cks (VIDEO)

Humiliated Lawmakers Get Lesson In Treating Kids Like D*cks (VIDEO)

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As a general rule, state and federal lawmakers are used to doing whatever they please, and rarely being held accountable for it. But when New Hampshire state lawmakers turned a fourth-grade class project into a circus freak show, their actions came back to bite them in a big way.

Thanks to a segment on HBO’s Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, state lawmakers got a lesson in why you don’t treat…

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On Friday, March 18, 2016, in my city of Fayetteville Arkansas one of our city councilman Alderman La Tour entered a long-standing locally-owned business and harassed a respected employee, demanding she announce her gender for him.  During the exchange, he suggested he would prove his own gender by exposing himself in a public restaurant with children around.

Alderman La Tour’s disrespect for the image, staff, businesses and people of Fayetteville, and his deplorable public spectacle make him unfit to be our legislative representative.  We, the undersigned, demand his immediate resignation.

Sign this petition now:  https://www.change.org/p/alderman-john-la-tour-resign-from-fayetteville-city-council

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to take up a Texas case that challenges the way nearly every U.S. voting district – from school boards to Congress – is drawn. The case, in essence, asks the court to specify what the word “person” means in its “one person, one vote” rule. The outcome of the case could have major impacts on Hispanic voting strength and representation from coast to coast.

Ever since a series of landmark rulings in the 1960s, districts have been drawn “as nearly of equal population as is practicable.” (As Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote for the majority in Reynolds v. Sims, “Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests.”) The high court didn’t directly say what “equal population” meant, but states and localities have almost invariably used total population figures. And that population is determined by the decennial census.

However, the appellants in the Texas case, Evenwel v. Abbott, argue that districts instead should be drawn to have equal numbers of eligible voters. 

That’s a big distinction, because in many states, districts with nearly equal total populations can have dramatically different numbers of eligible voters.

And as the chart above, and map below, might suggest, there’s a strong negative correlation between share of eligible voters and share of Hispanic population.

Supreme Court could reshape voting districts, with big impact on Hispanics

Texas’ Strict Voter ID Law Goes Back To Court, With Half A Million Voters’ Rights At Stake
More than half a million registered Texan voters, the vast majority of them people of color, could be disenfranchised if the law is upheld.

One of the most conservative courts in the nation is hearing a challenge Tuesday to Texas’ voter ID law from from the state conference of the NAACP and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. These groups, represented by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, argues that the voter ID requirement suppresses the votes of people of color, who are much less likely to have a proper ID and much more likely to face barriers to getting one.


Despite loud warnings from many quarters—including foreign policy experts, the anti-war left and dissenting CIA analysts—that such a move could prove disastrous, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to approve $500 million in government funds to help arm, train, and support so-called moderate military forces inside Syria.

Approved earlier in the week by the House of Representatives, the legislation is now headed for President Obama’s desk where he is likely to sign it.

Obama has said that he does not think he needs Congressional approval for his overall strategy to confront the militant group known as the Islamic State (or ISIS) that has no taken over large swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria. Simultaneously, however, the president has tried to garner as many visible signs of support from lawmakers as possible. The votes this week offer him plenty of cover as the Pentagon continues to make plans for expected, though deeply controversial, airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Syria.


When is the American government going to learn about funding “Rebels”

Like do these fuckers not understand how history has played out for the past 5 decades?

BREAKING: Nineteen Lawmakers Urge NFL To Pay Cheerleaders Minimum Wage
In July, California became the first state to clarify its labor law to secure employment protections for professional sports teams cheerleaders.
By Lindsey Adler

Legislators representing eight states sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday urging him to implement a league-wide standard of classifying cheerleaders as employees – entitling them to minimum wage and other employee protections.

Currently, cheerleaders for NFL teams are classified as “independent contractors,” which allows teams to avoid paying minimum wage and impose a constant threat of being cut from the squad at any time. Few former and current NFL cheerleaders have spoken out about issue, and those who have brought lawsuits against their employers have spoken of being ostracized.

The letter from the lawmakers – representing California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania – addressed directly to Goodell, reads in part:

Over the past year, the National Football League has been making headlines due to a series of wage theft lawsuits that have been filed by professional cheerleaders against their respective teams. To date, cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals have filed lawsuits alleging minimum wage violations. These class action complaints outline a system of abuses against cheerleaders including but not limited to failure to pay in a timely manner, reimburse for mandatory expenses, adhere to the notice and record keeping requirements under state labor laws, and penalties for minor infractions with unlawful deductions from earnings.

As you may know, legislation has been signed into law in California and introduced in New York that addresses these widespread wage theft cases. We write to you as this rampant misclassification of professional cheerleaders has come to the attention of legislators across the country where the issue of “employee” vs. “independent contractor” has been brought into question in various workforce sectors.

In July of this year, a bill introduced by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez to clarify state labor law – classifying cheerleaders for professional teams as employees – was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. California is believed to be the first state to make this clarification, and Assemblywoman Gonzalez is one of nineteen signatures on the letter. New York Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and New York State Senator Diane Savino, both of whom introduced bills similar to Gonzalez’s in New York, signed the letter as well.

Gonzalez previously told BuzzFeed News that securing employment protections for all cheerleaders for professional sports teams could theoretically be accomplished by state-by-state legislation, but that the process would be unnecessarily tedious.

“The NFL needs to wake up and say they’ve been going about this the wrong way,” Gonzalez said in July. “They could fix this. The ball is in their court.”

The letter concludes with a reference to increased focus on the NFL’s handling of players accused of domestic and sexual assault:

“Over the past years, the NFL has had to address cases of sexual assault and domestic violence. Each of them resulting in negative headlines suggesting the League’s lack of support for women. With women currently making up 45% of the League’s fan base, it is clear that there is opportunity now to take a stance on issues that hinder economic and social progress in a nation that has come far in the fight for fair wages and equal rights.”

In an email to BuzzFeed News, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy avoided a response to the letter’s request: “We support fair employment practices. The clubs that have cheerleaders are expected to comply with federal and state wage laws.” McCarthy did not respond to a request to clarify further.

Currently, the wage laws referenced by the NFL are vague, allowing NFL teams to classify cheerleaders as independent contractors, rather than employees. If the NFL does not agree to change policy league-wide, legislators can introduce bills similar to the one passed into law by California in July to clarify and re-classify cheerleaders as employees of their respective clubs.

In response to the NFL statement on the matter, Assemblywoman Gonzalez told BuzzFeed News in an email that the NFL “clearly doesn’t understand the term ‘fair employment practices’ and there have been numerous examples where its franchises have not lived up to their supposed expectation that wage laws are followed. This disregard for fair pay laws is what led to lawsuits by current and former cheerleaders and why lawmakers like myself have authored legislation to crack down on teams that are ripping off their female employees.”

Don’t be apathetic this November

dismissing this election as “a joke” is such a lazy, apathetic thing to say.

upset with your options? fine, fucking learn about them, their policies, and how you can interact with them by working with state-level legislation. learn about your representatives. write them, petition them, join communities based on creating awareness of the political climate both in your area and on a larger scale.

but for the love of god, don’t be an apathetic dingleberry about this election. it means too much and will have far too great of consequences.

don’t be lazy. have a say in your future.

(also vote Hillary because the tangerine nightmare will be a disaster)