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LQD - Fighting in the Infotainment Wars

by ATinNM Sun Feb 26th, 2017 at 05:22:37 PM EST

The Neurobiology of the article is simplified but the practical is spot-on.  We on the Left keep bringing a research paper to a gun fight and then wonder why we lose.  Human Decision Making, which includes deciding to act, is completed by the brain's Affective Processing systems.  Affective Processing is necessary and sufficient to arrive at a decision, Cognitive Processing is neither.

Read more... (16 comments, 72 words in story)

Long serving EU Prime Minister to resign

by Frank Schnittger Thu Feb 23rd, 2017 at 04:45:54 PM EST

Enda Kenny, one of the EU's longest serving Prime Ministers, is set to resign in the aftermath of his St. Patrick's day visit to the US and the UK's formal declaration of Brexit under Article 50 next month. Opposition to his leadership of Fine Gael, the largest party and incumbent Government, has been growing since their disastrous campaign and results in the General Election last year. He is perhaps best known for his forthright condemnation of the Vatican in the aftermath of the child sexual abuse scandals which have come to light in recent years: Wiki

On 20 July [2011], Kenny condemned the Vatican[ for its role in the scandal, stating that the Church's role in obstructing the investigation was a serious infringement upon the sovereignty of Ireland and that the scandal revealed "the dysfunction, disconnection and elitism that dominates the culture of the Vatican to this day". He added that "the historic relationship between church and state in Ireland could not be the same again".

Read more... (10 comments, 1210 words in story)

Creeping Despotism Log #2

by THE Twank Mon Feb 20th, 2017 at 06:45:43 AM EST

Tues. (2/14/17) Rachel Maddow Show ...  Flynn "resignation/firing" is the big deal; getting to the bottom of the Trump/Putin connection is hot; the Congress investigating the whole mess ... right. But ... here's the biggie ... some historian bigwig thinks we can sleep well at night because "the last cold-warrior" will come riding to the rescue.  Kids, if that's the best you got, old worthless Sen. McCain, kiss it goodbye.

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Creeping Despotism Log #1

by THE Twank Mon Feb 13th, 2017 at 07:53:40 AM EST

This series is part of my last stand as the U. S. of A. sinks into grinding despotism, long overdue given how "we" rain hell upon other societies while watching sports matches on TV with ads for alcoholic beverages followed by drug treatment centers.  Humorous, actually.

Read more... (15 comments, 748 words in story)

Will European Social Democrats regain some mojo?

by Frank Schnittger Mon Feb 6th, 2017 at 04:55:53 AM EST

One of the secular trends in European (and global) politics in recent decades has been the gradual erosion in the influence of social democratic parties and a rise in centre right parties promoting market led globalisation and austerity policies. The more recent backlash against globalisation and austerity has not resulted in a swing back to social democratic parties, but rather in a swing even further right as exemplified by Trump, Brexit, and the rise of far right nationalist parties in Europe.

There may be many reasons for this:

Read more... (68 comments, 1108 words in story)

The Nemesis

by Luis de Sousa Fri Feb 3rd, 2017 at 01:18:22 PM EST

This is a translation into English of an article originally written in  Portuguese for BomDia.eu.

I had in a previous career a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there's another union that needs a little taming.

It was this way that Theodore Malloch described the functions he will soon take by the EU, as ambassador of the USA. This is in no way a lapsos linguae, but rather a symptom of an overt drive by the USA to dismantle the EU. The support provided by the US government to euro-phobic politicians, or the announced arrival to Europe of BreitbartNews (an extreme right propaganda medium whose director integrates the new US government) are other pieces of the same puzzle.

Irrespectively of the credibility one may lend to personalities like Theodore Malloch, it is important to understand the root of this threat to the European Union.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (100 comments, 753 words in story)

Trump calls out Germany over the Euro

by Zwackus Thu Feb 2nd, 2017 at 12:29:12 AM EST

This is interesting.

Trump's trade advis​​er says Germany uses euro to 'exploit' US and EU

The relationship between Germany and the Euro has long been one of interest here. Let's discuss.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (58 comments, 686 words in story)


by Drew J Jones Wed Feb 1st, 2017 at 12:55:29 AM EST

Please don't ever tell me -- ever again -- about the virtues of the salt-of-the-Earth/HeartlandTM/white-working-class types ever again.

This isn't some kind of "common sense" type shit.  This is making Idiocracy look optimistic.

And, please, when the nuclear holocaust comes, if any of you ever find my body and could carve something into a dead tree or some shit, I'd like my epitaph to read, "Yeah, but emails."

Comments >> (23 comments)

Austria: No new elections

by generic Mon Jan 30th, 2017 at 02:17:31 PM EST

Since Christian Kern has succeeded the chancellorship there have been non stop rumors of early elections. First came the CETA theater where the socialists stated concerns and the conservatives insisted. The only product was a legally non binding document, popularly derided as a "Beipackzettel", the common term for usage advisories packed with medicine. Entirely unrelated there is apopular petition against CETA and TiPP closing today that is expected to give a strong showing.
Still there were voices that insisted that only the delay in the presidential elections stopped Kern's diabolical plans for new elections.
Now the coalition partners have produced a document that is supposed to be the base for the next 18 months. I skimmed through it below the fold.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (7 comments, 475 words in story)

My Brick

by Drew J Jones Mon Jan 30th, 2017 at 12:47:32 AM EST

I posted the whole bit about what I observed the day after Election Night 2008.  I hopefully conveyed the joy and pride it filled me with.  I'm a son of the South in America.  It is probably the proudest moment of my life.  The history that, aware of though I try to be, I can't begin to comprehend.  The knowledge of the sheer brutality that heroes of mine -- MLK, John Lewis, Rosa Parks, and so many others -- endured.  To be able to sit there, as Atrios would periodically post, and say, "Deep Thought:  The President of the United States is a black man named Barack Hussein Obama."  I can't even really explain that.

I'm sitting here watching the results of Trump's executive order on immigration.  And supposed "progressives" embracing it and playing the "both sides" game.  "Obama killed somebody with a drone in Yemen, so it's fine to stop some Iraqi grandmother from seeing her kids in San Antonio.  And it's totes fine to detain a god-damned 18-month-old at LAX, because she might..." -- what, throw her fucking Cheerios in the fucking engine?

Fuck them.  With rusted-assed, AIDS-soaked rakes.

I was furious on Election Night 2016.  I'd never been so angry.  Utterly, violently angry.  Not for myself in some sort of self-interested sense.  (Rest assured the Trump administration means fuck-all to me in any pure economic sense.)  No, for my friends and family. And my fellow human beings.  For my grandma, who fought her ass off to see that day we all endured defeated.  For my mom and my sister, who followed in grandma's footsteps.  For my friends' daughter, because I wanted to see her watch the night the first woman -- who, for all her flaws, worked damned hard for the people of this country -- was elected president of this country. And be able to be in the group that was able to say, "See that? Many people literally gave their lives for this moment. And for you. Don't ever let somebody tell you that you can't be anything you want."  A highly-qualified woman.  A hard-working woman.  Who, as is so routine in this world, was passed over for a bloviating, fascist cunt.  

A hundred thousand shit-kicking yokels stole that from us. And unleashed Hell on us all.

And I'm as angry as I've ever been.  I've made peace with the likely truth that I'll never stop being angry.  Fine.  But people were supposedly fed-up.  And wanted nastiness.  And so they did this.  To my country.  And to my president.

Cool.  You're gonna fucking get it.  

Every. God. Damned. Day.

((Comments closed permanently!))

Comments >> (85 comments)

Open Letter to Attorney General and Minister for Foreign Affairs

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jan 28th, 2017 at 01:06:10 PM EST

Ireland Should Appeal UK Supreme Court Decision to ECJ

I publish, below the fold, the content of an open letter I propose to write to the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charles Flanagan T.D., and to the Attorney General, Máire Whelan SC.

In it I lay out my case that the Irish Government should appeal the decision of the UK Supreme Court that the people and Assembly of Northern Ireland need not be consulted on any decision by the UK Government to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

I am not a lawyer, but believe I have made a solid case - and one which I have not seen being made by anyone else.  I would be grateful for your advice and feedback on the argument, particularly from those of you with a legal background.

Should the Irish Government take my advice and succeed in its action, the effect would be to prevent the UK Government from taking Northern Ireland with it out of the EU without the consent of the people and Assembly of Northern Ireland.  

This would be an application of the provisions in the Good Friday Agreement whereby the signatories agreed that the Constitutional status of Northern Ireland could not be changed without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement was created to provide parity of esteem to both the Nationalist and Unionist traditions in Northern Ireland. It protects the Unionist tradition by guaranteeing that they cannot be dragooned into a United Ireland without the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland.

Equally, it protects the legitimacy of the  Nationalist tradition by guaranteeing their identity and aspirations of  being part of Ireland. Being part of the EU is now an integral part of being an Irish Citizen and the rights of EU citizenship are indivisible from being an Irish Citizen.  Ergo, without the consent of a majority in N. Ireland to a change in its constitutional position, N. Ireland must remain both a part of the UK and the EU.

Under this scenario, the position of Britain will become analogous to that of Greenland - outside the EU and yet part an entity (in that case Denmark) which is within the EU.

Read more... (13 comments, 1148 words in story)

LQD: Brexit as a game of Chicken

by Gag Halfrunt Fri Jan 27th, 2017 at 03:12:34 PM EST

Drawing on the negotiating theory work of economist Thomas Schelling, Tim Harford argues that Theresa May is trying to play Chicken with the EU27 to compel them to offer a free trade agreement without any freedom of movement obligations. But, Schelling wrote, "compellence" (forcing someone to do something actively) doesn't work in the same way as deterrence.

Brexit as a game of Chicken | Tim Harford

It's easy to see why both sides are behaving like this -- it's the logic of Chicken. But the eventual result may be something no sane person wants: a car crash. In May's recent speech, she set out her willingness to risk such a crash by saying she might walk away without a deal. That does make some sense: it's how you act if you want to win a game of Chicken. But there are games of Chicken that nobody wins.

That leads to a second insight from Schelling: the difference between deterrence and what he called "compellence". Deterrence dissuades action, but compellence means persuading or threatening someone so that they do act. In his 1984 book Choice and Consequence Schelling pointed out that deterrence is easier. A deterred person does nothing, so need not admit that the deterrence worked, but a compelled person must visibly acquiesce.

Unfortunately, the process specified under Article 50 leaves the UK in the awkward position of trying to achieve compellence. The default option is the car crash, a disorderly fracture with the EU. Anything else requires all 28 countries involved to take prompt constructive action. May and her chancellor Philip Hammond have made some (faintly) threatening noises about how the EU should play along, but such threats can only work if they compel an energetic and active response. That's far from certain -- compellence is hard.
(via BoingBoing)

Comments >> (4 comments)

Can an Article 50 invocation be revoked?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jan 27th, 2017 at 01:50:23 AM EST

Much attention has been paid to the recent UK Supreme Court ruling that the UK Government must gain the approval of Parliament to invoke Article 50. That ruling also found that the devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland need not be consulted on the issue. More on that anon. But perhaps an even more significant case is about to come before the High Court in Dublin:

Dublin High Court case to establish if Britain can halt Brexit

A number of Green Party leaders in Britain and Northern Ireland have been named as plaintiffs in a case before the High Court in Dublin to establish if Britain can halt Brexit after it triggers article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Lawyers will file a plenary summons to start proceedings on Friday, hoping for a hearing in March or April.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales; Northern Irish Green Party leader Steven Agnew MLA; and the Green Party MEP for the South East of England, Keith Taylor, will join Jolyon Maugham QC, a leading British barrister, as litigants in the case.

They are seeking a referral from the High Court to the European Court of Justice of the European Union to determine whether article 50, once triggered, can be unilaterally revoked by the UK government without requiring consent from all other 27 EU member states.

Mr Bartley said the case was about giving people in the UK a legal safety net after Brexit negotiations begin and to offer clarity about whether Britain can change its mind if the negotiations go badly.

"The government claims that it can't revoke article 50. But if it is wrong, the British people would have a safety net that could allow them a real choice in a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal. They would be able to choose between accepting Theresa May's vision of extreme Brexit or rejecting it."

Read more... (12 comments, 1112 words in story)

The Charge of the Brexit Brigade

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 08:09:30 PM EST

Some observers have been puzzled at how the UK's Brexit stance has grown gradually more hard line, even before the beginning of formal negotiations, and as their expectations of EU disarray and confusion have failed to materialize. Brexit campaigners were quite explicit that the UK wouldn't be leaving the Single Market or Customs Union during the referendum campaign. Now both are becoming unchallengeable Government orthodoxy even though the people were never asked to vote on that basis. Even the Labour opposition has meekly accepted this moving of the goal posts.

Fintan O'Toole has a perceptive and amusing take on this:

Brexit resurrects the English cult of heroic failure

Listening to Theresa May's big Brexit speech last week, I remembered that the English have a taste for heroic failure. Their favourite poem, Rudyard Kipling's If, says that triumph and disaster are the same thing. It also enjoins the English to "lose, and start again at your beginnings/And never breathe a word about your loss."


Brexit is a perfect vehicle for this zombie cult. It fuses three of the archetypes of heroic English failure.

There is the last stand, exemplified by Gen George Gordon at Khartoum, another fiasco that quickly became a byword for heroism in the face of inevitable disaster: Brexit is imperial England's last last stand.

There is the suicidal cavalry charge [as in the Charge of the Light Brigade]: May hilariously threatened Europe that if it does not play nice, she and Boris will destroy its economic artillery with their flashing sabres.

And there is the doomed expedition into terra incognita to find a promised land. This kind of heroic failure is exemplified by Sir John Franklin's fatal search for the Northwest Passage in the 1840s.

Read more... (38 comments, 843 words in story)

"The Great Liberation Of France"

by marco Tue Jan 24th, 2017 at 02:16:46 PM EST

Just caught this article by Buzzfeed:

"Inside The Private Chatrooms Trump Supporters Are Using To Manipulate French Voters - Welcome to "The Great Liberation Of France.""

Just as I was starting to hope that the left was catching up with the right in terms of online-to-offline mobilisation, reading this article gave me a reality check.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (15 comments, 656 words in story)

Will Northern Ireland elections be non-sectarian?

by Frank Schnittger Sun Jan 22nd, 2017 at 01:57:20 PM EST

The Northern Ireland Assembly, one of the key institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement, has been dissolved and new elections are scheduled for 2nd. March.  The last elections had been held as recently as May 2016. The proximate cause of the election is the resignation of Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in protest over the "Cash for Ash" Renewable Heat Incentive scandal and the refusal of First Minister Arlene Foster, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to stand aside whilst an inquiry is held.  

Arlene Foster had been responsible for overseeing the scheme as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.  The scheme, which could cost taxpayers as much as £500 Million, basically paid users more to use wood pellets to heat their properties than the pellets cost in the first place. There were reports of farmers heating empty barns just to make a profit on the scheme and that the families of some prominent DUP politicians benefited from it.

In one sense you could claim that the dispute marks a welcome change in Northern Ireland to a political dispute over a bread and butter issue rather than on purely tribalistic, sectarian lines. As usual, in Northern Ireland, the reality is more complex.

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Words or something

by Drew J Jones Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 05:16:16 PM EST

I remember the moment David Gregory said on MSNBC to the interviewee, "Ohio has gone for Obama," and thinking, "Oh my god, this is going to happen."  Jen and I were sitting in our dumpy little studio apartment in Alexandria.  I had the window cracked open, chain-smoking, in hopes of not alerting the landlord (since we weren't supposed to smoke in the apartments but I didn't want to have to take the elevator down 16 floors every five minutes).  They called Virginia, where I lived at the time (EuroTrib's own MareckNYC a part of the crew who made that happen), and Florida, where I'm from.  Being a liberal white guy from the South, with all its history, I could not have been prouder.  I remember Olbermann getting choked up as he said, "Barack Obama has been elected the next president of the United States of America."

I remember seeing this cartoon by Tom Toles in the Washington Post, on my way on the Metro through Southeast DC -- the heart of the black working class in America -- to the Census Bureau, and seeing the looks on the faces of black Americans, many of whom probably thought that day would never come.

Read more... (34 comments, 329 words in story)

LTE: Irish Confederacy

by Frank Schnittger Sat Jan 21st, 2017 at 09:41:40 AM EST

The Irish Independent, the largest circulation daily in Ireland has published an edited version of my Letter to the Editor.  At 269 words, it is an edited version of my letter which in turn was a severely summarised version of my 3,000+ word blog A Brexit doomsday scenario. It all reads a bit stark and unqualified, with no supporting argument, but the gist is there. Perhaps it will start a more balanced discussion than what appears in UK dominated media...

Letters to the Editor: Irish Independent (Scroll down page)

Irish confederacy is coming

So far we have only heard one side of the story: what the UK says it wants. The EU response won't become clear for months - perhaps not until after the French and German elections in May and September.

Talks will break down, and there will be no substantial Brexit agreement, with the UK drifting off into transatlantic space with no lifeline to the EU.

Donald Trump will get involved, and make a complete mess of it, alienating both sides further. A trade war will result. British firms requiring access to the single market will relocate here. We will survive.

Ireland will hardly feature on the geo-political radar except when it refuses to implement a hard Border - effectively retaining the North within the Customs Union.

If Fine Gael tries to implement a hard Border, it will be brought down by FF/Sinn Féin. So we will have a stand-off with the EU. Then a deal will be cobbled together whereby customs controls will be carried out at air and sea ports and the odd random customs check on commercial vehicles within Ireland.

Smuggling on minor roads will be rampant and everyone will turn a blind eye. An Irish solution to a European problem.

Much later, when the North has finally been dragged into the abyss by an economic collapse in the UK, a marginal majority will come to the view that they had better make their peace with the only state that actually cares about them, and a Confederal Ireland within the EU will result. Let's hope not too many lives and livelihoods will be lost in the meantime.

Frank Schnittger

Blessington, Co Wicklow

Discuss.  For those of you who want a more detailed argument and justification, please read A Brexit doomsday scenario.

Comments >> (11 comments)

The UK falling back to the WTO

by Luis de Sousa Fri Jan 20th, 2017 at 11:16:36 AM EST

Frank Schnittger has been a proficient writer here at ET on the exit of the UK from the EU. One of the questions he has been raising is the assumption that the UK will automatically fall back to WTO rules if it leaves the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA). The UK is a member of the WTO by virtue of its membership of the EU, if it leaves the union how can it still be member of the WTO?

With the UK government indicating to the press that indeed it wishes to extract the country both from the political and economic unions, the WTO question becomes pivotal. Days ago I raised this issue in the Financial Times commentary box and got an elaborate reply from a reader that seems far more acquainted with the subject. It is rather worthy of reproduction in this forum.

An important and under reported issue: Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (7 comments, 738 words in story)

German Election Early News Roundup

by Zwackus Thu Jan 19th, 2017 at 03:51:23 AM EST

I know next to nothing about German politics, but I can paste links with the best of them. Here is what I have found. Please add context and content as interested and available.

Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger

Read more... (11 comments, 920 words in story)
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News and Views

 15 - 21 May 2017

by Bjinse - May 14, 109 comments

Your take on this week's news

 8 - 14 May 2017

by Bjinse - May 8, 48 comments

Your take on this week's news

 Open Thread 15 - 21 May

by Bjinse - May 14, 21 comments

Shake your business up & thread it

 Open Thread 8 - 14 May

by Bjinse - May 8, 25 comments

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful threads are the cultivated

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