Trump in asylum

The official letter comes from the Foreign Office:

“Dear Mr Trump, your current troubles are a cause of concern, and so the British Government will offer you political asylum in the United Kingdom. I asked the Permanent Secretary where we would hope to see  you: he replied “asylum”, so we will offer just that.

Being guilty as hell has never been a bar to the grant of refuge here. And if sacking the American Capitol were considered a shocking act, we would have to tear down a number of stautes to our heroes of 1814.

Your forthcoming trip to London, ostensibly to attend the High Court, is a good cover.

(I should warn you about what to expect in the High Court. A dispute between two Americans over an American contract for an event in Moscow is not unusual, but may raise eyebrows. It is understood though that the world brings its disputes to London as its courts insist on impartial justice and will not allow the lawyers to behave as if they were overacting in a low-grade Hollywood movie.  You will find that quite a contrast with the courts you have been spending all your time in.)

You are entitled to take up British citizenship when you arrive, as your late mother was a British subject. There is, I understand, a small cottage where she was born, and you would be welcome to take up residence there, in the Outer Hebrides – indeed we would be glad if you do.

According to the polls, you are likely to be beat Sleepy Joe easily and be elected as President of the United States next year. At that time you will still be  a wanted criminal in several states and so will need to stay in Britain. You need not worry – the American Embassy to Battersea  was  completely fitted out to function as a replacement White House for when a president is displaced by foreign or domestic enemies.  All we would ask is that you do not use this to imply British support for anything you do, and that you do not check too carefully in the flowerpots by your desk or behind the covfefe machine.

You may still speak to your supporters from Cyberia – until we get a Labour government, in which case expect frequent power cuts.

On your arrival I will personally ensure your safe conduct to the asylum system.

Constitutionally guaranteed despotism

Americans are proud of their Constitution protecting liberties, but it leaves Americans much less free than other nations.  They are the least free of the Anglosphere (Trudeauean Canada excepted). This blog recently praised John Stuart Mill’s insights, but on America he was naïve in his optimism: they have tied themselves into a habit of despotism. The Constitution is a conspirator in this.

Mill wrote with rather too much hope than sense that:

let them be left with out a government, every body of Americans is able to improvise one, and to carry on that or any other public business with a sufficient amount of intelligence, order, and decision…. No bureaucracy can hope to make such a people as this do or undergo anything that they do not like.

In practice, this means that there are, in the United States, endless layers of government, each with its own bureaucracy, each making new rules to pile on top of rules. While the British legislature is one Parliament that has to cover the manifold needs of the whole realm, from which it is burdened, barely ever able to act swiftly, America has endless little parliaments, each one a village Napoleon, demanding obedience to the alleged will of the people.

Even in the Stepford-Wives streets, much of America has Home Owners’ Associations, with private rules unburdened by the Constitution, commanding eve the very length of grass in a front yard and the position to the inch at which a car may be parked.

If there is no relief from the layers or lawmakers trying to flex their powers, it can be no wonder that American are burdened by more laws that any other English-speaking nation.

It goes deeper though. The Constitution lays down limits beyond which government may not go.  The limits are broad: they do not prescribe every action. A shard of government may be tempted t determine that if the Constitution does not forbid, then there can be no objection to any outrage. That is wrong. On this side of the ocean, Parliament is free to trample on any liberty, but is restrained more effectively by protest from the back-benches than by any laws.

(There is also the other consideration:  one liberty not permitted to our people is a liberty to carry guns, as a result of which Britons can walk freely in the streets without fear.)

The Americans have many advantages unavailable to our islands – they have almost unlimited land, which is therefore cheap , and with it the ability for enterprise to flourish. A gigafactory can be plonked into the desert – here we have to scour the land to find anywhere big enough and desperate enough. In this, Americans will always be freer.

Land though, while a blessing, is also under a curse.

A frequent outrage we read about in America is the light way they have with private property.  Those who were drafting a Declaration of Independence first includes as the trio of basic rights ‘life, liberty and property’, but withdrew the latter at the last minute, as it might prevent necessary forced acquisition for roads – and now every petty layer of government freely indulges in ’eminent domain’ to seize whatever they want.  In Britain, compulsory purchase is a burdensome, slow process and so rarely used – thank goodness for that. It may slow down every major infrastructure project, but better that than to lose our homes and fields and businesses to the whim of a passing council official. Our liberty of property is understood: we consider these right to be so self-evident there is no point writing them down. If we did write them down, they would be weakened rendered as mere paper, with an edge, not a principle written upon the very understanding.

I would love to see America becoming actually the land of the free they sing of. It will take though a major change of outlook and unwonted restraint by may layers of eager politicians, or by voters.  There is no sign of it now. That is a pity.

See also



Liberty for Puerto Rico

‘Puerto Pobre’ would be nearer the mark. The island could be wealthy, but on the Fourth of July, several of the complaints of the Thirteen Colonies against Britain could be made by Puerto Rico against the United States, and they have bankrupted it.

It is not out of malice and not irremediable, but is damning, and of the same origin as the thoughtless errors which sundered the Thirteen Colonies in the 177os.

Today, Puerto Rico is thoroughly American, washed in American culture and expectations, with local quirks and customs and language, but as American as anywhere can be. It is not about to rebel, and unlike the Thirteen Colonies it cannot stand alone if it did, but those causes which drove the American Revolution in 1776 must be dealt with as they are beggaring the island.

It is relative, it must be said: Puerto Rico is wealthier than many of its neighbours, but only because they are likewise impoverished. Puerto Rico has the capability to live up to its over-optimistic name, with sunshine, resources and access to a culture which has hitherto been a byword for enterprise.

In the 1770s as the crisis with America rose, British ministers believed that they were treating the colonies properly, but they were not there to see and feel. The story is well known – colonists had liberty in their home colonies, more indeed than the average Briton had at home, but there is more to liberty than paper laws, the King’s ministers in London could not see it from three thousand miles away.  The colonies’ populations were swelling and yearned to spread west over the empty continent, to turn fresh, untilled land into farms and homes, but were forbidden from stepping beyond a line. They were treated as British subjects, but forbidden from trade abroad: these are crucial constraints Adam Smith observed in that fateful year of 1776. There was taxation, with no opportunity to be heard, nor any opportunity to be heard when the ‘Intolerable Acts’ were passed in response to disquiet.

Nearly a quarter of a millennium later, the United States have their own colonies, and of these Puerto Rico is suffering and bankrupt. Its bankruptcy is the result of its own elected misgovernment following American norms, and impositions by the American federal government:

  • It has heavy taxation, and taxation without representation;
  • Its trade is strangled by the Jones Act just as the colonies were stifled by the Navigation Acts
  • It has had imposed on it a stifling excess of federal laws, imposed on the mainland for an urban culture which does not apply on the island. In Texas  and the prairie states they can get by though ignoring the  worst of the laws, but that does not work on a tight little island.

This is much the situation the colonies found themselves in when they burst forth with resentment against thoughtless impositions.  Puerto Rico in contrast has drink it up and imposed their own, by all I read. They cannot now even take a begging bowl to Uncle Sam for relief from their crushing debt, as the USA is itself on the brink of debt default.

Free trade is the first key to prosperity in any state or island. In the Georgian Age, the Navigation Acts forbade any foreign ships from trading with the colonies, and American merchants suffered.  Today, the Jones Act forbids any ships from plying between Puerto Rico and the United States unless they are American-owned, American-flagged and even American-built: even the Navigations acts did not go as far as regulating the shipyard. This makes for a cosy monopoly and for higher prices on the island, which the mainland does not suffer. Puerto Rico imports most if its food and supplies, at monopoly freight prices.

Those celebrating the Revolution today should take a lesson and repeal the Act or be accused as hypocrites.

In the Colonies, a monopoly imposition led to the Boston Tea Party.  What today could be hurled into the harbour of San Juan?

Laws too which were designed to employ armies of public servants and create local cabals are unaffordable in a territory which does not have the billionaires that the states have.  That bankruptcy should be no shock.

Taxation, without representation, designed by a distant government for a society with millionaires to pay it, grinds a struggling economy onto the dirt. Is there no memory of the fate of the Stamp Act?

‘I rejoice that America has resisted’, said William Pitt the Elder; ‘Three million of people so dead to all feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest.’ It is good for Americans to celebrate that resistance. It was  hurtful cleaving of the British nation, regrettable but necessary given the abuse they had suffered, and a great nation arose from it. They should not be so great nor so confident in the virtue of their origin that they commit the same abuse of their own colony.

See also


Deathly rights

Weird, deadly American politics. Democrats believe children should be murdered in the womb; Republicans they should be murdered in the classroom.

It is incomprehensible to those of us in the old country. Two political parties have monopolised all, and come to assert in absolute terms positions their members would not naturally believe.

The latest confected outrage across the pond is about a rule not found anywhere in their Constitution, but once imposed by judges anyway. The energy expended on this suggests more symbolism than substance, and its suggests to the rest of us a fatal decay amongst Americans in the very concepts of law and of democratic rule, which perhaps is now being put right. Of more immediate substance is something which is in their Constitution as a principle of freedom but the effect of which is to eliminate freedom: the right to bear arms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

I would not be seen as an enemy of guns as such – I happen to be an accomplished shot. It is the flooding of society with the means for murder at one remove, conscienceless murder, which is impossible to bear. In Britain and in Europe, guns are heavily restricted and we can walk free with little fear: the United States are awash with them and in many places fear is the natural state.

There are long debates about what the framers of the Constitution meant, seeing the war-begot historical background and asking how to pair the first half of the sentence, concerning the need for a militia, with the second. The plain words remain though that “the right to bear arms shall not be infringed”.

Many commentators have run through the historical background, which goes deeper than the mood in 1789. The Constitution and its first amendments were written by thinkers and lawyers schooled in the over-optimism of the Enlightenment, and in the afterglow of a war that seemed to them to be a war between the old world and the Enlightenment itself (though in truth the new learning was just as much a cause of the British ministers’ inability to be flexible).  In such an atmosphere the idea would be irresistible that a people who are armed will better defend liberty. A hundred years before, in 1688, King James II had been overthrown by rebellions in England and in New England, and Parliament declared in their own Bill of Rights that the Crown may not disarm the people (or in fact, may not disarm Protestants while arming those with allegiance to Rome).

If the Enlightenment idea of man’s ultimate goodness were true, then maybe there would be justification for trusting “the people” with the means to end others’ lives in a moment without effort.  That idea is not true though: Hobbes showed  this, and so has human history at every stage. Mankind’s truest reflection is seen in those who in bestial fury slew millions in their Lebensraum, in Armenia, in the camps, in the gulags, the lao gai, and in Rwanda, and in the cities of today’s America.

The American Constitution does not command the massacres it has overseen, but it is an accessory to murder.


If political debate made sense, there could be a broad spread of opinion across America’s political parties. There is no reason why one political party would across its membership have a rock-solid, extremist position on the issues, and the opposite on the other side. The two main parties are relics of the Civil War in any case, their raison d’être of each lost long since – when the Democrats stood for slavery and the Republics for abolition. That is all gone.  The politicians all live in one society and can take broader views. They all have families like everyone else. No one should have to fear whether their children will survive the school day.

The mythology of the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights has a sacred place in the American understanding underlying all their understanding of liberty. Any trespass upon those rights may be seen as sacrilege and the beginning of the end of all liberty. They are at the heart of what it is to be American, an identity artificially cultured over two and a half centuries. Having placed the right to bear arms in the Bill of Rights, it is within that temple.

Those who hold to that opinion need to step back and take a deep breath.  The ‘Founding Fathers’ are the secular gods of the Republic, but they are not actual gods, and are not infallible, nor are their words holy writ.  Where a provision in the Bill of Rights actually decreases freedom, by making citizens live in fear, it is the enemy of what the Founders wanted.


Gun control measures do not work – at least not those tried to date. There is no statistical evidence they work. Tests and cooling-off periods before purchase are useless, and have never stopped any murderer from getting his hands on a gun.  It is ownership and possession of a gun that matters, and this cannot be interfered with while the Constitution says what it does.

The Constitution is not unamendable. It is hard to amend, and requires a political consensus, but it is not impossible.  Reformers may take a lesson from the National Temperance League a century ago: it would have been unthinkable to call for the Constitution to be changed to ban alcohol across the nation, but they had the audacity and a slogan: National Constitutional Prohibition, which any politician had to declare himself for or against. They succeeded. They should not have, but they did. A measure more modest and more beneficial might too. It would first though have to undermine from beneath those solid political positions, to become the cry of the popular voice in every party.

One leading American jurist suggests amending the Second Amendment to add a rider to the right to bear arms “when on militia service”. That would do the trick.

There is an alternative.  I am not American and may be dismissed by those who are, especially lawyers, but bear with me.

When the Bill of Rights was passed, it bound only the Federal government and Congress, not the states. Even the First Amendment, the foundational injunction to freedom of speech is “Congress shall make no law…”, not the states. States and towns used to restrict the bearing of arms (it was enforcement of such an ordnance in Tombstone that led to ‘the Gunfight at the OK Corral’.) Only in the 1920s, so I read, did the Supreme Court imply its application to bind the state authorities too, using a strained interpretation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments on equal rights and due process. It is then just one judgment away from being overturned.

Not every Amendment in the Bill of Rights has been held to bind the states. An article specifically on Federal procedures would not, presumably.  Here then is an opportunity:  an Amendment could declare that the Second Amendment is not binding on the states: that way the states can make their own laws on the possession of deadly weapons. It could to be excluded in federal jurisdiction in the territories and District of Columbia too.

The land nevertheless is awash with guns – more guns are owned than people to own them. They cannot be abolished as criminals will continue to bear arms whatever the law says. It should be possible though to empower the police to stop the appearance of potential murder on the street, and make young men pause before taking that fatal step.

See also


Texas weeping for her children

Incomprehension must not be a reason to stop thinking but a spur to try to understand, nor mourning a reason to put off the day’s work, but to redouble it. We want to say we do not understand the evil that strikes death at children, because otherwise we admit to what humanity is.

To all, we would hope, children are precious, inviolate, a joy to all, and everyone in society has a sacred duty to protect them and see them nurtured, because we were protected and nurtured when as vulnerable, and they are the future of society and all its hopes and dreams.

When a man enters a school and shoots at children, as has happened many times in America, and once n Britain too, it is alien; utterly beyond what we can contemplate. Yet it happens.

I said “to all in society”, but what of the man who has torn himself out of society?  We see in children that boundless joy they have and a remembrance of our own childish joy – what if that man never had that joy or has driven it out of his memory – what if he is enraged in jealousy of that joy?  We see children as the new growth of our towns and nations and humanity – what if he declares all mankind to be his enemy, to be cut off at the root?  Brevik on Utøya slew the playing children because he thought it would cut off the next generation of a political party at its root: imagine the man who wants to kill the whole human race. We see children as sacred – what if this is an invitation to the worst revenge against a society he sees as his enemy?  We know children are vulnerable – what if he takes that as an opportunity to exercise godlike power? Such a mind is twisted by hatred, with a horrible logic behind it.

This is speculation – we cannot see what happens inside the head of a man who would do such acts, and those who have done so end up dead by a police bullet or their own hand. We can though see what has been done even in our age by tyrants and demagogues and mobs. They too have murdered the weak and vulnerable, even children, and it is that latter aspect which raises the worst horror of them in the mind.

We know who those guilty men were and we call them monsters, but they were, are, human beings like the rest of us; they were all sweet, vulnerable children once playing joyfully; and all grew up in society as we all do. The tyrant murderer could have been like the rest, but for the lust for power, which is the primary motivation of man, and the achievement of power creating a promise of liberation from the constraints of social bonds – it may be political power or the personal power felt by holding a gun in the hand, with all it can unleash – that may be enough to be the difference between a normal man and a monster.

The monstrosity is not an abnormal defect but part of the lurking natural Caliban nature. If we choose not to understand it, we cannot counter it.  If we know where to find it, maybe those with pastoral care and political power can mould their response accordingly, but otherwise they yield the floor to the killer and we will weep many, many times more.

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