India's cotton exports could fall to 4.4 million bales in 2018/19, down 4.3 percent from the previous estimate as production dropped to its lowest level in nine years, a trade body said on Wednesday. Lower exports by the world's biggest cotton producer could support global prices which are trading near their lowest in 3-1/2 years and help rivals such as the United States, Brazil and Australia increase cargoes to key Asian buyers such as China, Bangladesh and Pakistan. India is expected to have produced 31.2 million bales in the current marketing year ending on Sept. 30, down 14.5 percent from a year ago, the Cotton Association of India (CAI) said.
(Bloomberg) -- Follow @Brexit and sign up to our Brexit Bulletin. Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost a Scottish court ruling on the suspension of Parliament, throwing the deadlocked British political system into even greater confusion ahead of the Oct. 31 Brexit date.The court, in a short ruling, said that the purpose of the Prime Minister’s move was to unlawfully “stymie” Parliament. The unanimous decision Wednesday by a panel of Edinburgh appeal judges will set up a showdown in the U.K. Supreme Court, which will take up the issue next week.“My message to Boris Johnson is you are playing fast and loose with the law,” Ian Blackford, a Scottish member of Parliament, said in a tweet. “You have acted in an anti-democratic manner and need to respond by recalling Parliament.”While Johnson had suffered several political defeats in Parliament, until now he had fared better in court with victories in London and at a lower court in Edinburgh. The threat of prorogation galvanized Labour politicians and a group of Conservative rebels into passing a bill requiring the prime minister to push back the date when the U.K. leaves the European Union if he can’t get a deal in Brussels.A group of more than 70 lawmakers had argued that the prime minister’s move -- which took effect Monday night -- was unconstitutional because it curtailed debate in the run-up to the deadline for Britain’s exit from the EU.“I have never been able to contemplate the possibility that the law could be that our sovereign Parliament might be treated as an inconvenience by the Prime Minister,” Jolyon Maugham, the attorney spearheading the Scottish case, said after the ruling. “I am pleased that Scotland’s highest court agrees.”The three judges didn’t issue an interim order on whether Parliament can sit in the meantime, but Maugham said he believed that lawmakers could convene immediately.Johnson’s move to prorogue was unlawful, the judges said, because it was motivated by the “improper purpose” of stymieing Parliament.“This was an egregious case of a clear failure to comply with generally accepted standards of behavior of public authorities,” Judge Philip Brodie said in the ruling.The government said it was disappointed with the decision and would appeal the case to the top court.“The U.K. government needs to bring forward a strong domestic legislative agenda,” the government said in a statement. “Proroguing Parliament is the legal and necessary way of delivering this.”The legal action now moves to a hearing before the country’s top court on Sept. 17. The panel of nine Supreme Court judges will need to reconcile a different judgment from London last week.The full ruling from the London case, issued by three of England’s most senior judges, focused on the lack of clarity around rules for the suspension of Parliament.The London court, in contrast to their Scottish counterparts, also said that Johnson’s motivation wasn’t an issue.Even if prorogation was “designed to advance the Government’s political agenda regarding withdrawal from the European Union rather than preparations for the Queen’s Speech, that is not territory in which a court can enter with judicial review,” the judges said in the full text of the ruling released Wednesday after a short initial judgment was issued Sept. 6.A court in Northern Ireland is also set to rule on the matter on Thursday. The Belfast case also involves the question of whether a no-deal Brexit would violate the Good Friday peace accord.(Adds Supreme Court panel makeup in 10th paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Alastair Reed in Edinburgh at email@example.com;Jonathan Browning in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The Hong Kong Stock Exchange has bid almost £32 billion for its London rival in a shock move Wednesday to bring together two of the world's largest financial hubs in Asia and Europe. The blockbuster proposal including debt, worth $40 billion or 36 billion euros, is dependent on the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) scrapping a proposed $27-billion takeover of US financial data provider Refinitiv. In reaction, LSEG said it would "consider the proposal" but stressed that it "remains committed" to buying Refinitiv.
When sued in civil court, the natural human response is to say, "Let's sue them back." It's rarely a good idea to give in to that impulse. The lawyer representing Patriots receiver Antonio Brown has yet to give that advice to his client; instead, attorney Darren Heitner seems to be embracing the idea of exercising [more]
Almost anything can happen in three years, except taking a nation out of the European Union. Even one with its own currency, a major financial capital, and one of the largest national economies in the world.As the vote came in for Brexit in the summer of 2016, I expressed skepticism about the EU respecting a national plebiscite that goes against its long-term plan of a federal superstate Europe. They have more than I expected. I said that I didn’t think the United Kingdom’s political class would fight for a good deal. This turned out to be true. I also predicted that Nigel Farage would be finished by a Brexit. And he would have been. But Brexit hasn’t happened, so Farage is back.I can’t say my predictions have been all that great. Ahead of the vote, I accepted the conventional wisdom and thought Remain would win somewhat comfortably. As events changed, so did my views. I thought the convert faith that Theresa May expressed made Brexit more likely. Then I thought that the snap election result in 2017 potentially doomed the whole project.Now the United Kingdom sits within a constitutional crisis. Why? Mostly because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act of 2011, which was meant to keep the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition together. It used to be that once the prime minister and his government couldn’t get their business through the House of Commons, an election would happen almost automatically. Now, because of the FTPA, a two-thirds majority is needed to call a snap election. And so a majority of Remain and anti–No Deal parliamentarians can keep Boris Johnson in as prime minister and vote against him. With the connivance of an unscrupulous speaker of the House, they can send plainly unconstitutional legislation through, attempting to marionette him. Journalists are making a great big deal that Johnson is the first prime minister ever to lose his first five votes in the Commons, as if this were his fault, and not the newly malfunctioning rules of Parliament itself. Johnson has tabled a motion for an election, but the opposition would rather imprison him as prime minister than run against him.Why? Because he’s likely to beat them in an election.So, if we were betting today, would you bet on Brexit happening? I’m torn.The case for Brexit happening boils down to this: Boris Johnson is prime minister, and his political career depends on effecting Brexit. And not just his, but the Tory party’s survival would be imperiled by the failure to Brexit. Nigel Farage is waiting with his Brexit party, ready to eat the decaying carcass of this one dominant political body. Working in Johnson’s favor is that he is significantly more popular than Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party who cannot be thrown out, but whom hardly anyone seems to want to make prime minister. When an election comes, and it must, a Johnson-led majority would owe its position to a prime minister who has a mandate to take the U.K. out. European patience for Brexit is also running short. Uncertainty threatens to bring about recession in a weakening German economy. Emmanuel Macron wants to push an ambitious vision for the European Union, and a long-term vegetative-state Brexit is a threat to them.Then again, maybe not. Think about it. Why did Boris Johnson have to expel 21 Tories from his party? Were they not sufficiently motivated by the threat of the Brexit party to act, and act swiftly? Can they not read the polls? Of course they can. But they read their personal email, too. And overhear dinner conversations.The structural problem isn’t just that there is a different sentiment reigning in Parliament than among the people, as if the previous election were a mere accident that will be corrected by another. No, the problem is that Britain’s political and larger metropole elite class is much more in line with Remain than with Brexit. The increased pace of defections is a sign that this class is increasingly polarized against the Brexiteers. Johnson’s demand that his party get on board with his brinkmanship in a negotiating strategy is straining the relationship of elite Tories with their social set, including their families.The prime minister’s own brother defected, broadcasting his displeasure. The tolerance of this metropole class for brinkmanship against Brexit is effectively endless. Hence we have seen the speaker of the House become the toast of London for wrecking the traditions and impartiality of his office. The metropole class is able to reward this Remainer’s peevishness with media appearances, prestige, possibly seats on important social and corporate boards, jobs, and money.And so it is going to be a close-run thing. Johnson for now has public desire to “get on with it” at his back and seemingly enough poll support. But it’s quite possible that his party can select new candidates, run as a Brexiteers' party in a few weeks or months, and still discover that it has resisters popping up in it, gumming up the works.It’s very, very hard to get a political class to do something it doesn’t want to do. People choose the approval of their powerful friends over those of the voters when they are forced to choose. Brexit is a time for choosing.I think it’s a toss-up.
Washington, D.C. — More than two dozen Republican congressmen gathered in the Capitol on Tuesday afternoon to host the minority’s first hearing this Congress before a full crowd of observers, convening a panel of experts to discuss the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.Representative Ann Wagner (R., Mo.) introduced the bill in the House in early February, and Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) introduced it in the Senate, on the heels of comments from Virginia governor Ralph Northam suggesting that in some cases infants could be left to die from lack of medical care when delivered alive after an attempted abortion procedure.Unlike the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 — and which defined as legal “persons” infants born alive after attempted abortions — this bill would create criminal penalties for doctors who allow born-alive infants to die rather than providing them with medical care. The born-alive bill mandates that newborns delivered in abortion clinics be transported to a hospital and that health-care practitioners report violations of the law. It also grants the woman on whom the abortion is performed civil cause of action against the abortionist and protects her from prosecution.When the bill came to the floor in the Senate in late February, 44 Democrats blocked it, claiming that the legislation would “unnecessarily restrict doctors from making case-by-case decisions about what is best for infants and mothers.” Some opponents of the bill have suggested that the legislation would compel doctors to perform unnecessary procedures on premature or sick infants.To the contrary, the bill doesn’t mandate any particular standard of care; it merely requires that physicians “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” In other words, “unwanted” infants must be treated the same way as any other newborn of the same age and health condition.And yet, with the exception of three Democratic senators, the party united to ensure that the legislation wouldn’t pass the Senate earlier this year. In the House, meanwhile, Democratic leadership has blocked no fewer than 80 Republican requests to bring the born-alive bill to the floor, preferring instead to pretend that the legislation doesn’t exist.In early April, House minority whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) filed a discharge petition, which, if signed by a majority of members, would allow the GOP to override Democratic obstruction and bring the bill for a vote. That petition currently stands at 201 signatures, with only three Democrats on board: Dan Lipinski of Illinois, Ben McAdams of Utah, and Collin Peterson of Minnesota.“The way to stand up for these babies who are born alive outside the womb is to ask your member of Congress to sign the discharge petition so we can pass the Born-Alive Act and get it signed into law by President Trump,” Scalise said at the hearing.Bringing attention to the bill and the petition, despite Democratic objections, was the purpose of today’s hearing. Scalise chaired the hearing and told the crowd that, even though more formal committee rooms were standing open and unused elsewhere in the Capitol building, House speaker Nancy Pelosi had denied GOP requests to use those spaces.The panel of experts featured Dr. Robin Pierucci, a clinical neonatologist; Dr. Kathi Aultman, a board-certified OB-GYN, former abortionist, and former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.; Jill Stanek, a nurse; and Tessa Longbons, a research associate at the Charlotte Lozier Institute.Several of the panelists emphasized the importance of refuting the notion that the born-alive bill is unnecessary because infants are never left to die. Their experiences suggest otherwise.Stanek, for instance, related having witnessed a newborn infant left to die after a failed abortion at a hospital near Chicago. “How far will doctors go to comfort themselves for letting abortion survivors die?” she asked rhetorically, before explaining how her hospital later created a “comfort room,” which she described as> a small, nicely decorated room, complete with a first-photo machine, in case parents wanted professional picture taken of their aborted babies; baptismal supplies, in case they wanted their aborted babies baptized; and a foot-printer and baby bracelets in case they wanted keepsakes of their aborted baby.Aultman noted that, while abortion-rights supporters claim that abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation occur only in medical emergencies, a nurse named Julie Wilkinson, who assisted late-term abortionist Warren Hern performing abortions through 26 weeks’ gestation, recently told her that “the vast majority of the abortions he performed were done for convenience, not for fetal anomalies or maternal-health problems.”Longbons cited Centers for Disease Control data suggesting that at least 143 newborn infants died after attempted abortions over a twelve-year period from 2003 to 2014, a statistic that the CDC acknowledged likely was an underestimate. Currently, only two-thirds of states have laws protecting born-alive infants. Fourteen states have considered legislation creating or strengthening those protections this year; in only five states, bills were passed by the legislature, and only two of those five were signed into law.“It is time for Speaker Pelosi to stop blocking protections for born-alive babies. It’s time to allow a vote on this vital bill,” said Representative Jackie Walorski (R., Ind.). “This should not be partisan. It’s simply the right thing to do. . . . We’ve got to stand together against this radical and inhumane agenda.”But even though more than three-quarters of voters, including 70 percent of Democrats, say they support the born-alive bill, Democratic leadership almost certainly won’t consider the legislation this Congress — unless 15 more members sign the discharge petition and force the issue.
A man at a Kamala Harris rally last weekend described the president’s agenda as “mentally retarded.” Harris laughed, twice calling the man’s remarks “well-said.”She insists now that she “didn’t hear” the comment, lucidly made into a microphone before a quiet audience that seemed to have no such trouble hearing it. Indeed, mere seconds after he described the president as “mentally retarded,” his fellow attendees broke into uproarious applause.Harris maintained that she is “sorry.” “I didn’t hear the words the man used in that moment, but if I had I would’ve stopped and corrected him. I’m sorry,” she told a CBS reporter. She does not seem sorry enough, however, to tell the truth about what happened. Watch the video. There is no conceivable way she “didn’t hear” the remark.Harris’s “apology” included an invocation of her “long-standing relationship with advocacy for our disability community.” “Advocacy” and holding a tangential “relationship” thereto apparently cover a multitude of sins. That Harris has interacted with self-appointed “advocates” — who deign to speak on behalf of all persons with disabilities even as they lend their indignant support to legislation that would harm the most profoundly impacted among such persons — is presumed to be exculpatory. She has a “relationship with advocacy,” so who cares if she cackled in delight as a man mocked the developmentally disabled at her rally?Harris went on to cite the fact that her campaign has “a whole policy proposal” dedicated to the disabled — a whole policy proposal! — “that we rolled out weeks ago.” It sounded promising. What’s in it? Among other things, it includes support for the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, which would amend Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). Waivers available under Section 14 (c) have historically allowed businesses to hire persons with mental or physical disabilities at a rate commensurate with their output, even if that rate of output falls below the federal minimum wage. They were made available in an effort to ensure that persons with severe disabilities were not priced out of the labor market and resigned to perpetual joblessness. If, as Harris advocates, Section 14 (c) is amended to eliminate the FLSA’s disability exemption, pockets of the population with profound intellectual disabilities will be displaced from their current special work programs and rendered permanently unemployable. She also wants to ban plastic straws, utensils which many people with physical and developmental disabilities rely on to drink or eat (if they require a pureed diet for dysphagia) in public.Harris maintains that she could “never condone anyone using” the word “retarded;” her “long-standing relationship with advocacy” has taught her that no person of goodwill could use the term — let alone laugh along with or publicly congratulate those who do so! “Mental retardation” has taken on variously demeaning and derogatory connotations since it first replaced “feeble-mindedness” and “idiocy” as the demotic term for what is now called intellectual or developmental disability. But not all parents and loved ones of persons with severe disabilities agree with Harris — one parent I spoke to, who has two children with severe developmental disabilities, tells me that “both [her children] have mental retardation — that is the term that most accurately describes [their condition].” She worries that other terms do not adequately capture the profundity of their challenges. Another parent, Carole Sherman of Arkansas, finds “mental retardation” descriptively necessary: Her son is “a large, mobile, and nonverbal man who functions on the level of a young toddler and who has slight or little awareness of danger.” She tells me that the “lack of specificity” inherent in the “intellectual disability” euphemism has cost families like hers “the ability to accurately and quickly describe our loved ones and their realities.”These sentiments aren’t necessarily indicative of the majority opinion of families with disabled members; when the federal government solicited comment on its proposal to change “mental retardation” to “intellectual disability” in all federal statutes, 71 letters were written in favor with a mere five in opposition. I do wonder, though, what moral authority Kamala Harris has to lecture those five people — and the thousands of Americans in the same position who share their feelings — about the relative propriety of the term they use to describe the medical conditions of their loved ones.Particularly if she herself laughs at that term when it’s employed to mock her political opponents in public.
In the summer of 1704, English philosopher John Locke began writing a response to a critic of his controversial treatise on religious freedom, A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). It was, in fact, the third letter from Locke addressed to Jonas Proast, a chaplain at Oxford University, who insisted that government coercion in religious matters was necessary to preserve social order. Locke fired back: “Men in all religions have equally strong persuasion, and every one must judge for himself,” he wrote. “Nor can any one judge for another, and you last of all for the magistrate.”Locke died before finishing the letter, but his revolutionary voice is being heard once again. A manuscript titled “Reasons for Tolerating Papists Equally with Others,” written in Locke’s hand in 1667 or 1668, has just been published for the first time, in The Historical Journal of Cambridge University Press. The document challenges the conventional view that Locke shared the anti-Catholicism of his fellow Protestants. Instead, it offers a glimpse into the radical quality of his political liberalism, which so influenced the First Amendment and the American Founding. “If all subjects should be equally countenanced, & imployed by the Prince,” he wrote, “the Papist[s] have an equall title.”Here was a visionary conception of equal justice for all members of the commonwealth, regardless of religious belief — a principle rejected by every political regime in the world, until 1787 at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. “Locke was willing to contemplate the toleration of Catholics in a fashion which others would never countenance, and he did so with startling impartiality,” write independent scholar J. C. Walmsley and Cambridge University fellow Felix Waldman, who discovered the manuscript. “The tone is emollient, and nowhere replicated in Locke’s works.”They have it half right. The attitude of English Protestants toward Catholicism in Locke’s day was shaped by over a century of religious conflict. To the Protestant mind, the advance of “Popery” and “priestcraft” represented a temporal and spiritual threat: ranks of religious believers loyal to a foreign potentate, blinded by superstition, hungry for arbitrary power, and latent with schemes of papal domination. Protestant sermons routinely identified the pope with the Antichrist. Locke’s career coincided with the Restoration (1660–88), when Catholics were excluded from public office and their rights of religious worship were severely restricted. By the 1660s, the rise of Catholic France under an absolute monarch, Louis XIV, instigated a fresh round of anti-Catholic fervor. In this acrimonious climate, Locke’s plea for political equality for Catholics was remarkably egalitarian.Yet — contrary to Locke’s modern interpreters — it was consistent with his views about Catholics and other religious minorities throughout most of his political career. As an assistant to Sir Walter Vane, for example, Locke’s first diplomatic mission in 1665 took him to the Duchy of Cleves, in modern-day Germany. In one of his reports, Locke admits that> the Catholic religion is a different thing from what we believe in England. I have other thoughts of it than when I was in a place that is filled with prejudices, and things known only by hearsay. I have not met with so many good-natured people or so civil, as the Catholic priests, and I have received many courtesies from them, which I shall always gratefully acknowledge.Locke also records his surprise at the social harmony between Calvinists, Lutherans, and Catholics, who each practiced their faith in relative freedom: “The distance in their churches gets not into their houses. . . . I cannot observe any quarrels or animosities amongst them upon the account of religion.” It was his first encounter with religious pluralism, and it left a deep and lasting impression.In his first major treatise supporting religious liberty, An Essay Concerning Toleration (1667), Locke constructs an argument, a defense of the rights of conscience, that he will build upon for the rest of his life. He argues that magistrates have no right interfering in religious beliefs that pose no obvious threat to the social order: “In speculations & religious worship every man hath a perfect uncontrolled liberty, which he may freely use without or contrary to the magistrate’s command.” The challenge of accommodating different religious traditions, including Roman Catholicism, is front and center. “If I observe the Friday with the Mahumetan, or the Saturday with the Jew, or the Sunday with the Christian, . . . whether I worship God in the various & pompous ceremonies of the papists, or in the plainer way of the Calvinists,” he wrote, “I see no thing in any of these, if they be done sincerely & out of conscience, that can of itself make me, either the worse subject to my prince, or worse neighbor to my fellow subject.”It was an extraordinary claim for an Englishman of his era: that Catholics, Calvinists, Jews, and Muslims alike could all be good citizens and good neighbors. Twenty years later, in the throes of another season of anti-Catholic anxiety, Locke delivers the same argument, yet even more forcefully.In A Letter Concerning Toleration — now considered foundational to the Western canon — Locke insists that the equal protection of civil rights for all religious groups is “agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the genuine reason of mankind.” He uses Catholicism as a test case for explaining why religious doctrines should be of no concern to the magistrate: “If a Roman Catholic believe that to be really the body of Christ, which another man calls bread, he does no injury thereby to his neighbor.” Locke applies his argument not only to Catholics but to the most despised religious minorities of 17th-century Europe. The best way to safeguard the rights of conscience, he concludes, is “to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion.” The American Founders took note.Nevertheless, Locke has his critics. Political progressives find his religious outlook — he considered the pursuit of God’s gift of salvation the “highest obligation” facing every human being — outdated and offensive. Many conservatives are also ambivalent or even hostile. Catholic thinkers such as R. R. Reno, editor of First Things, not only take Locke’s anti-Catholicism for granted, they view it as evidence of animus toward biblical religion, underwritten by a contempt for the sources of “traditional authority.” In Why Liberalism Failed, Notre Dame’s Patrick Deneen faults Lockean liberalism for “the destruction of social norms” and the “untrammeled expansion of private identity.” Others, such as Yoram Hazony, in The Virtue of Nationalism, denounce Locke’s entire approach to politics as “a far-reaching depreciation of the most basic bonds that hold society together.”We are entitled to wonder whether these critics have the slightest idea of the actual political and cultural catastrophe that had engulfed Western society when Locke made his most famous arguments for human liberty. The sources of “traditional authority” wistfully recalled by these writers — the state churches and social hierarchies of European society — had transformed much of Europe into a violent, sectarian battlefield. Under the banner of the cross of Christ, the “basic bonds that hold society together” — such as compassion, forgiveness, and mutual respect — were being shredded without a twinge of conscience.It was Locke’s moral outrage over the widespread abuse of power, reaching another crescendo in the 1680s, that drove him to compose his Two Treatises of Government (1689) and A Letter Concerning Toleration. English society was in crisis: riven by a brutal crackdown on religious dissent, by the return of political absolutism, and by the growing threat of militant Catholicism. “The idea of a Counter-Reformation design against English Protestantism was far from absurd,” writes historian John Coffey, “and we should resist the temptation to treat Protestant fear as irrational paranoia.” The Dutch Republic, where Locke was living in political exile, was absorbing thousands of religious refugees fleeing Catholic France. The reason: On Oct. 22, 1685 — a few weeks before Locke began composing his Letter — Louis XIV invalidated the Edict of Nantes. France’s brief experiment in religious toleration of its Protestant (Huguenot) population had come to an end.And a bloody end at that. At least 200,000 Protestants fled in the first wave of persecution. Locke met and befriended many of them. It would have been impossible to ignore the reports of Protestant children taken from their parents, of churches demolished, of ministers beaten, imprisoned, or executed because of their faith. Princeton historian Jonathan Israel describes the mounting Catholic–Protestant tensions thus: “The resurgence of anti-Catholic sentiment, in reaction to the persecution of the Huguenots in France, pervaded the entire religious and intellectual climate of the Republic.”Despite all of this, Locke defends the civil and religious rights of Catholics in his Letter, as part of a broader argument for freedom of conscience. “I will not undertake to represent how happy and how great would be the fruit, both in church and state, if the pulpits everywhere sounded with this doctrine of peace and toleration.” It is a curious doctrine coming from a man supposedly hobbled by anti-Catholic bigotry.Why, then, do Locke’s critics conclude that he opposed equal protections for Catholics in the commonwealth? Because in his Letter and other writings, Locke objects to tolerating those who teach that “faith is not to be kept with heretics” or that “kings excommunicated forfeit their crowns and kingdoms.” Such views were a matter of Catholic policy, and it seems clear that Catholic leaders were the chief subjects in Locke’s mind.Yet Locke makes a crucial distinction between Catholics who pledged loyalty to the political regime under which they lived and those who sought its overthrow — a fifth column “ready upon any occasion to seize the government.” Locke’s detractors fail to acknowledge the machinations of the Catholic Church, in England and elsewhere, in which the Holy See acted to destabilize political authorities or condemn them as heretics and see them toppled. What Locke found intolerable was not Catholic theology per se but rather the agents of political subversion operating under the guise of religious obedience. As he put it in the newly discovered manuscript: “It is not the difference of their opinion in religion, or of their ceremonys in worship; but their dangerous & factious tenets in reference to the state . . . that exclude them from the benefit of toleration.” On this point, Locke could be as tough on Protestants as he was on Catholics.Today we take political stability and civil order for granted; we do not exist in fear of sectarian forces sweeping away our liberties. But no one living in Locke’s tumultuous times enjoyed this luxury. Some ideas threatened the moral taproot of civil society; they could not be tolerated. In Locke’s world — as in ours — the constitution must not become a suicide pact. Political philosopher Greg Forster insightfully observes that Locke “towers over the history of liberalism precisely because virtually everything he wrote was directed at coping with the problem that gave birth to liberalism — religious violence and moral discord.”Such is the world as we find it. If prejudice taints Locke’s political legacy, perhaps it is the prejudice of those who prefer false and comforting narratives to difficult moral and historical realities. Locke’s critics have blinded themselves to the bracing nature of his democratic vision: “But those whose doctrine is peaceable, and whose manners are pure and blameless, ought to be upon equal terms with their fellow-subjects.” Here is the only tenable solution to the challenge of religious diversity: equal justice under the law for people of all faith traditions.No political doctrine has been more integral to the success of the United States, for no nation has been so determined to regard religious pluralism as a source of cultural strength. America’s experiment in human liberty and equality is profoundly Lockean. It is also, in some important respects, deeply Christian. Locke believed that the gospel message of divine mercy — intended for all — implied political liberalism. The founder of Christianity, he wrote, “opened the kingdom of heaven to all equally, who believed in him, without any the least distinction of nation, blood, profession, or religion.”It would be hard to conceive of a better doctrine on which to build a more just and humane society. A revival of Lockean liberalism would do much to tame the hatreds now afflicting the soul of the West.
Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times has a dream, a dream in which about half of the American people are deprived of an effective means of political representation, a dream of one-party government in which the Democrats are the only game in town — “Dare We Dream of the End of the GOP?” her column is headlined — which also is a dream of visiting vengeance upon those who dared to vote for their own interests as they understood them and thereby schemed “to stop the New America from governing.”That quotation is from a new book by Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg bearing the title R.I.P. G.O.P. Greenberg himself has a new column in the Times on the same theme. “The 2020 election will be transformative like few in our history,” he writes. “It will end with the death of the Republican Party as we know it . . . [and] liberate the Democratic Party from the country’s suffocating polarization and allow it to use government to address the vast array of problems facing the nation.”We might understand the Goldberg-Greenberg position as “the divine right of Democrats,” who apparently have an eternal moral mandate to rule for reasons that must remain mysterious to those outside the ranks of New York Times columnists.Goldberg and Greenberg should at least try to take seriously their own metaphor: polarization.The American polity, like a magnet, is polarized because it has two poles, for which the Republican and Democratic parties are rough proxies. Why does the United States have two political poles? Because it has two major political tendencies. Goldberg and Greenberg write of polarization, but they do not believe in it. They do not understand the United States as having two legitimate competing political camps but as suffering from a kind of infection in the form of the Republican party, which inhibits the normal and healthy — meaning Democrat-dominated — political life of the United States. They believe that something they call the “New America” has an unquestionable natural moral right to rule and that the Republican party is not a competing pole but a blockage. To write as Greenberg does that the Democratic party is to be liberated by the practical elimination of the Republican party, and hence able to operate unencumbered, is to embrace not only the end of the GOP but the end of ordinary political opposition. It is not beyond imagining that the Republican party should decline into corporate incoherence and irrelevance: Its leadership is self-serving and feckless, and many of its subdivisions (including many state and local Republican-party units) are corrupt to varying degrees, and too often stupid where they are not corrupt. (This is not a universal condition; some of them are both corrupt and stupid.) But imagine the GOP being vaporized tomorrow by the political equivalent of a kind of neutron bomb in reverse, eliminating the infrastructure and real estate but leaving the people. What would be left behind? For one thing, there would remain an American electorate that was almost evenly divided (+/- 2 percent) about whether Donald Trump or Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a more desirable president — with the pro-Trump side comprising a majority of the people in a majority of the states. It would include a country in which there are more Americans who believe that immigration should be reduced than who believe it should be increased; in which a large majority of the population supports restrictions on abortion and more than 80 percent support a ban on late-term abortion; it would include a country in which work requirements for welfare benefits are overwhelmingly popular; it would be a country in which about half of the people still oppose the Affordable Care Act.Restrictions on immigration and abortion, conditions on welfare for the able-bodied, lower taxes and lower spending — these are not positions associated with the Democratic party. But millions of Americans, in some cases majorities and even large majorities, hold these views. They are entitled to political representation, irrespective of the future of the Republican party as an organization. And they will have that representation, whether it goes by the brand name Republican, Liberal, Whig, or Monster Raving Loony (RIP Screaming Lord Sutch). Eliminating the Republican party would not relieve the country of the “polarization” — meaning opposition — that annoys the Goldberg-Greenberg camp.The only way to achieve that would be through the political suppression of those with dissenting political views.Which, of course, is the Left’s current agenda, from deputizing Corporate America to act as its political enforcer by making employment contingent upon the acceptance of progressive political orthodoxies to attempting to gut the First Amendment in the name of “campaign finance” regulation — it is the Democratic party, not the moral scolds of the Christian Coalition, that proposes to lock up Americans for showing movies with unauthorized political content — to grievously abusing legislative and prosecutorial powers to harass and persecute those with nonconforming political views (“Arrest Climate-Change Deniers”) and declaring political rivals “domestic terrorists,” as California Democrats have with the National Rifle Association.Which is not to say: It is not only the Republican party as a political grouping they dream of eliminating: It is Republicans as such and those who hold roughly Republican ideas about everything from climate change to gun rights, groups that Democrats in agencies ranging from state prosecutors’ offices to the IRS already — right now, not at some point in some imaginary dystopian future — are targeting through both legal and extralegal means.The Democrats who are doing this believe themselves to be acting morally, even patriotically, and sometimes heroically. Why? Because they believe that opposition is fundamentally illegitimate.Eliminating the ability of those who currently align with the Republican party to meaningfully participate in national politics is not only wishful thinking in the pages of the New York Times. It is the progressive program, from Washington to Palo Alto and beyond.
The Hong Kong stock exchange wants to buy its storied London counterpart in a move that could gain leverage from the uncertainty that Brexit is creating for British companies and for the U.K. capital as a global financial hub. The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. said Wednesday it is looking at a deal that would that value the London Stock Exchange Group at 29.6 billion pounds ($36.6 billion), but has not yet made a firm offer. A tie-up, it said, would provide the London firm with a key opening to Asian markets and offer big savings.