Archive for April, 2016

Bernie, Blockage and Brexit

April 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Sanders End?

There has been something inspiring about the Bernie Sanders run for President. A veteran Left-Winger runs for the Democrats as self-declared socialist. That’s pretty gutsy to start with. Sanders is speaking like a man a pre-Carter Democrat. There is carping, some of it justified, that Bernie is a carpet-bagger, hitching his bandwagon to the Dems. His supporters would turn around and say that he, and not Hillary, is the true heir to the LBJ Great Society, to the FDR New Deal and a necessary counterpoint to the DNC Democratic compromise of the mid 1980s to the present. No cynical triangulation for Bernie; he says what he means and means what he says.  But the Sanders journey may be coming to an end. While HRC is only 200 pledged delegates ahead, such is the sweep that the Vermont Senator requires between now and June 2016, Hillary may not even require the super-delegates to come out in her favour. Despite the enthusiasm, the sincerity, the lack of pandering to big interests, he may just have reached the end of the road. He will probably keep going, just as his opponent did in 2008 against the outgoing President. It may have been an impossible dream from the start. And it would be appalling if Trump were to sneak in as President because Bernie supporters decide to stay at home. US politics is broken in so many ways. Bernie Sanders tried his best to fix that. It has been a valiant run and he should be saluted for his passion and integrity in truly trying to make America great again.

Government Impasse

It looks like we might be heading for a new type of government in Ireland. Or then again, maybe we’re not. Such has been the tortuous path of negotiations between Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, most of the Independents and indeed with everybody else but Sinn Fein, that it is still impossible to say if these talks will end in a new type of politics in Ireland or another General Election. We just don’t do things like they do in mainland Europe; we can’t go months without an elected government as our institutions and local councils do not have enough autonomy and authority to survive for long periods without guidance and direction. The state rumbles on but for every week that there’s no elected cabinet, for every day there’s no Taoiseach, for every hour there aren’t ministers with sufficient democratic mandates to take executive action, the body politic becomes more and more weakened. The public may not take well to the behaviour of the two major centrist parties refusing to go into government together or even agreeing minimum supply and confidence measures. There’s so little between the two major parties on policy grounds that any contested discussions are more smoke and mirrors than differences of real substance. There is a real danger, if the two big parties put their heads in the sand, that a succession of elections could make Ireland ungovernable. There is a virtue in compromise. It can be reached. But the odds are on an election within three years and it will be quite an achievement to even make it to that length of time.

US opposes Brexit

Barack Obama is enjoying a well-deserved swan-song tour of Europe. He stated quite unambiguously while speaking in Britain that Brexit would not be in the interests of the British people. He said, quite rightly, that should the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union, then Britain would go to the back of the queue when it came to trade negotiations. Why this was decried by the motley right-wing crew who look like they could well succeed in forcing UK cessation from the EU is not surprising, They don’t like hearing the truth on this one. We simply do not know the level of economic shock and the duration of the same that will occur should the British in their wisdom decide to leave. There will be an immediate drop of several hundred points in stick markets across the world. The British would be entering totally uncharted territory. Never before has a constituent member of the European Union left the ‘club’. Despite what the Brexit proponents have suggested, the Berlaymont will not be rushing in with a plan B. The Plan B, such as it is, is scrambling for help and international goodwill which may be in short supply after the UK’s history of saying ‘non’ throughout their membership of the EU. This is a much bigger issue than Cameron’s survival as Prime Minister. He may win the vote with Labour Party votes. But he has brought this upon himself. Like Oedipus, he may be the master of his fate and the master of his downfall. President Obama was right to say what he did,

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