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Happy St. Patrick's Day!

by Frank Schnittger Fri Mar 17th, 2017 at 12:34:48 PM EST

St. Patrick's day has never been a particularly big deal for me: more an excuse for a lie-in or a long week-end away after a long winter. Although almost every Irish town or city has a St. Patrick's day parade which attracts almost every group you can throw a uniform or costume at as well as large crowds of onlookers, it has never seemed to me to be much more than an excuse for a monumental piss-up afterwards. Shure it's no harm to have a bit of craic, might be a typical response.  We seem to be in the process of patenting craic as a uniquely Irish contribution to world civilisation.

In more recent times, however, St. Patrick's day parades have become a serious artistic endeavour and economic and political business. Costumes and floats have become ever more inventive and outrageous, the participants engaging in a mass performance artistic event worthy of celebration in its own right. Cities around the world mark the day with their own parades or the green-lighting of landmark buildings. As a promotion of a national identity and tourism, it has few, if any, equals. Friends of friends organised a very successful alternative St. Patrick's day parade in New York when the very conservative Ancient order of Hibernians refused to allow LGTB groups to openly participate in their parade, and were recently honoured by the Irish President for doing so.

At a political level the celebrations include the presentation of a symbolic bowl of shamrock to the US President by the Taoiseach in the oval office: an unequalled level of access to the American President for a small nation. Usually it is an opportunity to lobby the President and key figures on Capital Hill on the current areas of Irish concern, be it "undocumented" immigrants to the US, the future of FDI in Ireland, peace and stability in Northern Ireland, or the current concerns over Brexit and US EU relations.  Little matter that it generally involves cringe-inducing platitudes and leprechaun jokes.  Some serious business is often done.

This year outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny had to negotiate the minefield of widespread Irish disapproval of the Trump presidency, as expressed in Kenny's own remarks that that Trump's campaign rhetoric was racist and dangerous, and suggestion that voters had an alternative to vote for. It is also an uncomfortable fact that many of Trump's more extreme supporters and appointees are of Irish extraction. The gulf between Irish politics and many Irish-Americans in the USA has never been wider.

But St. Patrick's day is a day to celebrate "Irishness", whatever that may mean, and not a day to litigate differences.  Many have pointed to the hypocrisy of advocating for undocumented (= illegal) Irish emigrants abroad whilst maintaining a strict political asylum process at home which can leave refugees in limbo for many years. But keeping Irish American relationships in a positive space is not necessarily a bad thing at a time of increasing US EU tensions. I wonder if today's meeting between Trump and Merkel will generate similarly warm feelings.

War-mongers the world over depend on generating fear of the "other" to make their misadventures politically viable. Displays of public conviviality, however forced, can sometimes reduce tensions and create opportunities for better relations. Anything which helps to undermine the Trump/Bannon project of destroying the cohesion of the EU has to be a good thing. So the begrudgers can mock and scoff at the fake bonhomie of the revellers all they want: it is a modern version of the hippy "make love, not war" sentiment of the 1960's all over again.  At worst it is a harmless conceit that Ireland matters more than it really does in the real world. At best, it helps a lot of people have a good time, at least for a day. Happy St. Patrick's day!

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 17th, 2017 at 12:39:00 PM EST

Kenny Speech

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny used his time spent at the White House on St. Patrick's Day to issue a subtle rebuke to President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Speaking at the White House with Trump standing right next to him, Kenny relayed the long history of Irish immigrants who came to America and thrived there, despite being resented and hated by many.

"It's fitting that we gather here each year to celebrate St. Patrick and his legacy," Kenny said. "He, too, was an immigrant. And even though he is, of course, the patron saint of Ireland, for many people around the globe, he is also the symbol of -- indeed, the patron of -- immigrants."

Kenny went on to explain that in past centuries, the Irish were "the retched refuse on the teeming shore," who nonetheless "believed in the shelter of America, in the compassion of America, in the opportunity of America."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Mar 17th, 2017 at 10:36:26 PM EST
You beat me to it, Frank.  This was too good.
by rifek on Fri Mar 17th, 2017 at 10:58:49 PM EST
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St. Patrick's Day walk of shame ... - Salon.com.
Trump has no discernible Irish ancestry -- unlike, say, Barack Obama, who is descended on his mother's side from Ulster Protestants. But he has surrounded himself with the most Celtic-tinged presidential inner circle since John F. Kennedy. Vice President Mike Pence has at least two Irish-born grandparents, making him (like me) eligible for dual citizenship -- although he'd have to give that up in order to serve as a federal employee. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who depending on what day it is may or may not count as a Trump ally, has conspicuously celebrated his Irish roots, although those go back to the 19th century.

But the sunstroke complexions and Gaelic-derived surnames don't stop there when it comes to the Trump White House and leading congressional Republicans: Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, at the very least, all qualify as visibly Irish. (Some people are counting leading Trump donor and Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon, but that's cheating: Her husband Vince, the wrestling magnate, is certainly of Irish descent, but Linda's a WASP from North Carolina.)

by das monde on Sat Mar 18th, 2017 at 03:18:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Irish immigrants to the USA used to form part of the bedrock of the Democratic Party, with the Republican party seen as a preserve for WASPs.  But as they have moved up the economic ladder many have also climbed socially and politically, becoming country club members, business leaders, and hard right Republicans.

It is one of the reasons I have always been somewhat sceptical of Booman's claims that US demographics are on the Democrat's side.  Sure, young people and minorities vote overwhelmingly Democratic, and their numbers are growing.  But many may also switch Republican as they grow older, wealthier, and more "integrated".

Few Irish Americans are aware of how much their "home country" has changed, clinging instead to an early 20th. century notion of "Irishness".  We are too polite to disabuse them, most of the time. We want their tourism and FDI and good offices in relation to Northern Ireland, and the Clinton and Obama administrations were genuinely engaged and helpful.

But no one here seems to have any time for Trump and his minions. Calls for Ireland to align itself more with a mid-Atlantic UK/US axis post Brexit and away from the EU27 are very much in the minority - as yet. In some ways we are culturally, linguistically, and ethnically more closely aligned with that axis.  I hope that the EU 27 doesn't drive us away by being increasingly focused on eastern and central Europe.  Politically, Ireland is still one of the most pro-EU member states.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 18th, 2017 at 11:17:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trish Times
Taoiseach Enda Kenny's speech about the value of immigration in front of US President Donald Trump has gone viral and has been viewed more than 30 million times.

Mr Kenny's address, which he delivered at a St Patrick's Day reception at the White House last Thursday, made no reference to Mr Trump's policies.

However, it was interpreted in sections of the US and UK media as a thinly veiled criticism of Mr Trump's plans to ban immigration from certain Muslim countries and to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 19th, 2017 at 08:57:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ironically, despite this fairly direct criticism, Kenny's visit appears to be widely regarded as a great success, whereas Merkel's visit a day later is being depicted as an embarrassment for Trump. Perhaps by that stage Trump was more than a bit peeved at foreign leaders failing to lavish uncritical praise on his policies...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 19th, 2017 at 09:00:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Am I imagining things or has foreign correspondent syndrome gotten worse since Trump? Sort of a shared siege mentality?
by generic on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 08:38:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what data points you are referring to, but Trump has been pretty clear in designating the media and their "fake news" to be the enemy, singling out some for special treatment.  In that context it would not be surprising if the media were to develop something of a siege mentality, but the real paranoia seems to reign supreme in the White House.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 10:28:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of how unfiltered the "Merkel new leader of the Free World™" and Trudeau as anti-Trump ™stories landed in our papers. And the "fake news" story itself of course.
by generic on Mon Mar 20th, 2017 at 02:23:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We all have to contribute to the global culture shopping mall...

What is this 'Irishness' besides from the cliche of a people of drunk jerks?

Also, an Irishman I met a few years ago told me that the people in the US (Boston specifically) are "not Irish", that there was nothing Irish about them and they were completely American. But it's probably a small illusion that the diaspora hangs on to. I should know.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sat Mar 18th, 2017 at 02:15:34 AM EST
Watching the Ireland-England rhgby match, it seems likely that England will be deprived of their Grand Slam, though not of the Six Nations trophy. A better- looking match than the unbearable France-Wales that just (finally) ended after 100 minutes - a record for an international​ match, I understand. Despite the fact that France won in the end, I hope it's the end  of the referee's career - he was disgraceful. I feel sorry for the Welsh, he made them look like filthy cheats by not awarding a penalty try.
Anyway, go Ireland.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Sat Mar 18th, 2017 at 05:55:31 PM EST
Referee Wayne Barnes is the most hated ref in Ireland as he has cost of several key matches with controversial decisions. Every match he refs always seem to be all about him - he loves being the centre of attention - as if the crowd have come to watch him. It's not as if many of his decisions are necessarily wrong - he just tends to ref one side more strictly than the other, and more often than not Ireland end up on the wrong end of his whistle.  Statistically we always concede more penalties when he is in charge.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Mar 18th, 2017 at 07:02:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...It is worth recalling the degree to which British politics was divided and poisoned by fierce disputes over Irish independence for the whole of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, right up to the moment that Ireland achieved self-determination in 1921. What used to be called "the Irish Question" has now been reborn as an all-consuming issue by "the Scottish Question" and, whatever the timing and outcome of a second Scottish referendum, it is not going to go away. ...

Brexit, Nationalism and the Damage Done

It is worth recalling how many "economic refugees" of Eurasia fled war in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to "the land of opportunity."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 01:02:47 AM EST
Brilliant linked article by Patrick Cockburn who shows a real sense of what Brexit is all about.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 21st, 2017 at 11:49:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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