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Rmoney and Ryawn: Bain & Pain Inc.

by Frank Schnittger
Mon Aug 13th, 2012 at 08:28:58 AM EST


Twitter/BooMan23: Ryan probably sealed his selection when he wet his pants while shaking Romney's hand

The US economy is growing at what Americans consider an anaemic 1.5% - a rate most Europeans can only dream about. President Obama is languishing in the polls at a 46% job approval rating (49% disapprove) and at 39% - 53% disapproval on the Economy. And yet he leads Romney by a fairly consistent 2-3% average in the polls, and more in most of the critical swing states which determine the outcome of the Presidential election college.

Romney has been running what has been quite possibly the most incompetent political campaign in the history of US Presidential elections and yet remains in with a 28% chance of winning largely because of record donations from his billionaire and millionaire backers to "Superpacs" which market him as a brand rather than attempt to engage in any kind of rational political or policy debate.

And now Romney has nominated as his Vice Presidential running mate a man who has built his reputation on proposing budgets which give massive tax breaks to millionaires whilst turning Medicare into an insurance voucher programme and privatising social welfare: proposals which poll some way south of chlamydia in popularity whenever explained to the electorate. Indeed Booman has been arguing for some time that the Democrats chief problem up until now has been in convincing voters that the Ryan Budget plan could actually contain such wildly unpopular elements.

So what gives?

Read more... (108 comments, 1843 words in story)

Re-thinking Ireland's strategic relationship with Britain

by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jul 14th, 2012 at 05:57:34 AM EST

A number of things have been happening over the past few years which are beginning to have an impact on the relationship between Ireland and the UK, and may go on to have profound implications for the future of the EU, or at least Ireland's place within it. In the past an historic enmity between Ireland and Britain arising from almost a thousand years of invasions, wars, colonial occupation, famines, economic exploitation and neo-colonial struggle led the nascent Irish state to adopt an almost "anybody but Britain" attitude to foreign affairs: staying officially neutral during the Second World war and enthusiastically adopting the EU project as a means of reducing its economic dependency on the UK. The ongoing troubles in Northern Ireland merely added fuel to these flames.

However the success of the Northern Ireland Peace Process, the emergence of a much more self-confident (not to say arrogant) Irish Republic during the Celtic Tiger years, and the modernisation of the economic infrastructure and social attitudes as part of the European project has softened what tensions remained. Now even the Queen has visited Ireland; Martin McGuinness, former IRA Chief of Staff and now Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister has shaken her hand, and the Irish and UK Governments are increasingly allied on all matters of foreign policy - and especially so in relation to the EU. In particular, the seemingly endless Eurozone crisis is leading to a re-evaluation of whether closer ties with the UK may not be such a bad idea after all.

front-paged by afew

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The fields of Athenry

by Frank Schnittger
Sat Jun 16th, 2012 at 10:25:55 AM EST

Irish supporters are our best ambassadors | Frank Schnittger: Irish Examiner

Far from being disgraced by losing 4-0 to an outstanding Spanish team, the Irish team fought to the end, and the Irish supporters were simply magnificent.

Too bad the Irish supporters can't represent Ireland in the Eurovision song contest.

Angela Merkel may think the Irish should be at home working, but instead we have sent out 40,000 ambassadors to prove that sportsmanship and solidarity in Europe is not dead.

There has been some cynical comment about the Irish being glorious in defeat once again; about how pathetic it is to be singing songs in the wake of a comprehensive trashing by the World Champions. But the spirited rendition of The fields of Athenry in the final minutes and long after the match had ended had to be seen and heard to be believed: How often is it that boos, catcalls and various missiles greet a defeated football team long before the end of a match. How often does sporting defeat lead to wanton vandalism and violence on the part of so called supporters.

To quote an Englishman: G. K. Chesterton

For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad

Read more... (8 comments, 1059 words in story)

The Manufacturing of Consent

by Frank Schnittger
Wed Jun 6th, 2012 at 10:08:02 AM EST

So Fear triumphed over Anger and the Irish referendum on the Stability Treaty was passed by a "resounding" 60:40 margin on a 50% poll - more or less as predicted by the opinion polls and close to the average turnout for similar stand alone referenda in the past. Not much of interest here; time to move on to the Greek elections and Spanish banking crisis if the MSM are to be believed.

The government has been quick to spin the result as an endorsement for its austerity strategy and as a positive message to send to the rest of Europe (and the global investment community) of Ireland's unequivocal commitment to the Euro. Sure, there have been the usual noises about the need to promote a growth strategy for Europe and to revisit the "sovereigntising" of private banking debt and the hope that any new strategy devised for Spain involving more direct European bailing out of Spanish banks will be retrospectively made available to Ireland.

Quite how a YES vote was meant to advance that agenda is less than clear. German responses to Irish pleas have already been dismissive: Revisiting the sovereigntising of Irish banking debt would send out a "negative signal" apparently...
Kenny admits immediate bank debt deal unlikely

...but senior German officials dispute Mr Kenny’s interpretation of Ireland’s fiscal treaty vote as a “message to European Union leaders” for a “just” debt deal. “We see no need for movement at the moment,” said Martin Kotthaus, spokesman for finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble.
Indeed. The German Government clearly knows what the Irish people are thinking better than the Irish Government itself...

front-paged at last by afew

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The balance of anger and fear

by Frank Schnittger
Thu May 17th, 2012 at 05:14:45 AM EST

I've been away out of the country for a while and out of touch with the referendum debate raging in Ireland concerning the Fiscal Stability Treaty. So a seminar in Trinity College Dublin on the topic led by a lawyer, an economist and a sociologist seemed like a good way to get back into the topic. The speakers were:
  1. Dr. Gavin Barrett, School of Law, University College Dublin (Voting YES)
  2. Prof. Terrence McDonough, School of Business & Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway (Voting NO)
  3. Trinity's Head of School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, Prof. James Wickham (my old Sociology Prof. voting DON'T Know).

Dr. Barrett's main points were that there is very little in the Treaty that is not already contained in previous Treaties and Council decisions, and that the Treaty, through the establishment of the ESM, provides Ireland with an insurance policy in case we needed further funding after the current Troika led "bail-out" expires at the end of 2013. Ireland needs to roll-over c. €18 Billion of debt in 2014 alone, and may not be able to achieve that funding on the sovereign debt markets or from the IMF in the absence of ECB/European Commission goodwill and support.

In a subsequent question I noted that many Irish voters might regard external restraints on Government borrowing as a good thing in itself given the experience of two Fianna Fail led administrations in the late 1970's and from the late 1990's onwards, which effectively bought their way to power on the promise of tax reductions and public expenditure increases at a time when the economy was already growing rapidly. The resulting booms led to rather painful busts which Irish voters will not wish to see repeated.

So why all the fuss, and why is there a real possibility the Treaty will be rejected?

front-paged by afew

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Irish European stability treaty referendum vote in the balance

by Frank Schnittger
Sat Apr 21st, 2012 at 06:13:31 AM EST

Undecided voters hold key to outcome of referendum
The outcome of the European stability treaty referendum on May 31st is wide open, according to the latest Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll which shows the result is in the hands of undecided voters.

Asked whether they were likely to vote Yes or No to the treaty, 30 per cent of voters said Yes, 23 per cent said No, 39 per cent were undecided and 8 per cent said they would not vote. When undecided voters, and those who won't vote, are excluded the Yes side is ahead by 58 per cent to 42 per cent but the outcome hinges on the attitude of the currently undecided voters.

A real worry for the Government is that at a similar stage in the first Lisbon Treaty referendum campaign in May 2008, the Yes side had a much bigger lead but the measure was rejected by the electorate in June of that year by 53 per cent to 47 per cent.

However, the Yes side can take heart from the fact that support for a No vote has halved since the last Irish Times poll in October, which asked people how they were likely to vote if EU leaders agreed on a treaty to deal with the fiscal crisis.

At that stage 28 per cent said they would vote Yes, 47 per cent No and 25 per cent were undecided.

The details of today's poll show that the Yes campaign has strong backing from middle-class voters and farmers but working-class voters are opposed to it by a large margin.

There is also a significant gender difference, with men more supportive of the treaty, while almost half of women voters have yet to make up their minds.

The Irish referendum on the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) treaty is scheduled to take place on 31st. May, and there has been some criticism that this allows inadequate time for a public information campaign and debate. The domestic political landscape has been dominated by controversial new household taxes, water charges and septic tank charges that the Government, allegedly under Troika pressure, is trying to introduce in order to broaden the tax base. The run up to the campaign has also been complicated by efforts to restructure the Anglo-Irish Bank Promissory notes which have so far been stonewalled by the ECB.

front-paged by afew

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White hole

by Frank Schnittger
Fri Mar 30th, 2012 at 08:09:41 AM EST

RTE Radio 1 are running a flash fiction competition. I don't read much fiction and write less. I had never even heard of flash fiction which, in this case, is a challenge to write a story in less than 500 words. Even I must be able to do that methought. So here goes below. Attempt #1.

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Bertie Ahern was lying

by Frank Schnittger
Fri Mar 23rd, 2012 at 07:18:29 AM EST

The laws of libel are very strict in Ireland. Damages and legal costs for defamation can be ruinous. The Irish Times is a conservative bastion of the establishment. And yet they can print this:
Martin and Fianna Fáil can spare us the act, we don't want to hear it now
SPARE US your indignation, Micheál Martin. Button your disgust, Fianna Fáil. We don't want to hear it. You had your chance and you chose to do nothing. So don't pretend to be shocked now.
Just do us that much. We won't buy it.

If the tribunal were to take another 15 years to deliver its findings, you'd still be sitting on your hands.

I sat through all of Bertie Ahern's evidence. It was appalling.

Hilarious? Frequently. Pathetic? Often. Infuriating? Utterly. Embarrassing? Completely.

I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now.

And, unlike the clever people entrusted by us to run the country at the time, I didn't have to wait years for a tribunal of inquiry to tell me.

But did it matter? Well yes, it did, because this man, grinning in the witness box, was our taoiseach.

He wasn't a corner-cutting property developer. He wasn't a millionaire builder, doing what you have to do to close a deal. He wasn't an amoral middle-man or a small-time councillor on the make.

Bertie Ahern was the prime minister of our country, holder of the highest office in the land.

That's supposed to mean something.

And he was lying through his teeth. Anybody with half an ounce of wit could see it.

Reporters detailed his ridiculous explanations for the huge amounts of money washing through his myriad accounts, and resting in his office safes. The most cursory of examinations of the daily transcripts would have shown up his risible stories for the twaddle that they were.

But throughout, his government and party turned a blind eye; squirmed and twisted and gave every manner of excuse to avoid the blindingly obvious taking place in full public view in a State-established inquiry.

He was lying.

Read more... (53 comments, 752 words in story)

The best laid plans on mice and men...

by Frank Schnittger
Wed Feb 29th, 2012 at 11:38:36 AM EST

O woe is me! Despite all attempts at avoiding a referendum in Ireland on the "fiscal compact", the Attorney General has ruled that "on balance" one will be required to amend the Constitution to accomodate the pact...

Referendum to be held on European fiscal compact - The Irish Times - Tue, Feb 28, 2012

The Government is to put the revised European Union fiscal compact treaty which tightens controls on member states' budgetary decisions to a referendum,  Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil this afternoon.

The compact, agreed at special EU summit last month, proposes tough new budgetary discipline on each euro zone state, including near-zero public deficits. Twenty-five of the European Union's 27 countries have signed up to the new treaty, with only Britain and the Czech Republic opposed.

Mr Kenny told the House that the Attorney General's advice at this morning's Cabinet meeting was that "on balance", a referendum was required to ratify it. Scheduled Dáil business was interrupted for the statement.

The Taoiseach said that he intended to sign the treaty at the weekend with all the heads of the EU in Brussels. In the coming weeks, he said the Government would finalise the arrangements and the process leading to the referendum, leading to the establishment of a referendum commission. No date was given for the poll.

Read more... (43 comments, 1418 words in story)

Counter Reformation?

by Frank Schnittger
Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:41:46 AM EST

Vatican row a storm in a teacup | Irish Examiner Tuesday, February 21, 2012
For the last time, can we please put an end to this nonsense about the Vatican embassy?

Our diplomatic relations with the Vatican have not been sundered. Our ambassador is merely resident in Dublin, as is the Papal Nuncio.

Neither has our embassy in Rome been closed. It is just that our former embassy to the Vatican, the Villa Spada, now houses our embassy to Italy.

The only reason our ambassador to the Vatican is now resident in Dublin is because the Vatican has a unilaterally imposed policy of not allowing ambassadors to Italy to be also accredited to the Vatican.

As a direct consequence of this, many countries accredit their ambassador in some other European country to the Vatican. We do not generally tell other countries who they can and can not accredit to Ireland as their ambassador.

Neither should we. Except in extreme circumstances.

If the Holy See would only return us this courtesy, we could accredit our ambassador to Italy to the Vatican as well, saving us the cost of two embassies in one city, and putting an end to this needless controversy.

Perhaps this is the "leaner" compromise referred to by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin before a liturgical reception for the new papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles J Brown last Sunday.

Frank Schnittger
Blessington
Co Wicklow

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Obama wins GOP Primaries (to date)

by Frank Schnittger
Wed Feb 8th, 2012 at 07:10:51 PM EST

In The Political Paradox of US conservatism I argued that whenever Romney looked like tying up the Republican nomination, some other more conservative candidate popped up to steal the lead. First it was Sarah Palin, then Michelle Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain and then Newt Gingrich who led the polls. And then Rick Santorum appeared from almost nowhere to win the first caucus in Iowa.  Romney recovered to win New Hampshire but was then trounced by Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. Romney then won Florida and Nevada only to be trounced by Santorum in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

For all his money, organisation, endorsements and establishment support, the Republican base just can't get to like Romney. Next up is Michigan, which is unlikely to vote Romney (even though his father was a popular Governor there).  The reason? Romney's New Yourk Times' Op ed piece "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" is unlikely to play well there even amongst conservative GOP voters. Clint Eastwood's "Half time in America " ad during the Superbowl final couldn't have come at a worse time for Romney. Eastwood, a lifetime Republican voter, didn't explicitly endorse Obama.  But he sure endorsed Obama's message that the Auto bail-out worked.

So as Romney, Gingrich and Santorum continue to savage one other with attack ads containing accusations so negative that even Democrats haven't dared to throw at their Republican opponents there has been one clear winner to date: Barack Obama.

Read more... (17 comments, 523 words in story)

Strange Fruit

by Frank Schnittger
Sat Feb 4th, 2012 at 06:59:51 AM EST


(Version by Nina Simone)

Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the popular trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter cry

Read more... (14 comments, 257 words in story)

The Political Paradox of US conservatism.

by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jan 2nd, 2012 at 08:26:19 PM EST

Having written almost 40 diaries on US politics in and around the time of the last US Presidential Elections, I decided to leave it to the experts to comment on US political developments since then. However despite trying to keep up to date by reading Booman and a few other US media sources, I have become increasingly puzzled by the direction of the US politics since then, and particularly by the Republican Presidential candidate nomination process. Perhaps people with more expertise than I on US politics can help me out.

Mitt Romney seems to be the candidate all conservatives Republicans love to hate, partly because of his perceived flip flopping on conservative wedge issues like abortion and public health care, but also perhaps because of his Mormonism and alleged "robotic" personality. Thus, although he is the most experienced, best funded, and best organised candidate, he has failed to achieve more than c. 25%  support from the Republican faithful. The Republican establishment have overwhelmingly backed him as the only Republican candidate to regularly defeat President Obama in opinion poll match-ups.  But the Republican base just can't get to like, never mind love him

And so we have had a plethora of NOT-MITT-ROMNEY (NMR) candidates seeking to achieve a plurality of support from the remaining 75% of Republican primary voters. So long as that 75% of the vote is shared amongst a number of candidates, Mitt Romney can stay in the lead.  However if any one of the rest can become the Conservative standard bearer, it seems that Romney is doomed for all his money and establishment support. But what has been extraordinary is the poor quality of the alternative candidates, so much so that each has collapsed within weeks of having soared into the lead once they become subject to increased public scrutiny.

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Liberalism or anti-Catholic Bigotry? [Updated]

by Frank Schnittger
Tue Nov 8th, 2011 at 10:09:01 AM EST

I have a letter published in the main Irish daily, the Irish Independent, today (below the fold) where it is preceded by a letter making the argument that those holding my views are "liberals" and anti-catholic bigots.

You decide.

[Update] Further follow on letters also published and added below the fold...

Read more... (43 comments, 962 words in story)

Irish Presidential Election Result (Updated)

by Frank Schnittger
Sat Oct 29th, 2011 at 02:49:15 PM EST


Michael D. Higgins celebrates victory with his family

Michael D. Higgins, Labour candidate and long time civil rights advocate has won the Irish Presidential election by a wide margin.  Opinion polls, up to last Sunday, were showing Sean Gallagher, former Fianna Failer, reality TV star and dodgy businessman with a strong lead. Public perceptions changed dramatically following a Presidential debate on Monday where Gallagher was exposed as a "bagman" or senior fundraiser for Fianna Fail and also raised questions about his business ethics which were never satisfactorally answered.  The worry is he came within a week of being elected - the power of positive re-branding and the desperation of the electorate for a new face almost led to the election of someone with a very shallow CV.

The table below shows the dramatic swing in public voting intentions in the last few days of the campaign by comparing opinion poll results with the actual outcome:

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The protestantisation of Ireland?

by Frank Schnittger
Fri Oct 21st, 2011 at 10:11:14 AM EST

David Adams, in a misguided but perhaps tongue-in-cheek piece in the Irish Times, seeks to cast the lambasting of Dana and Martin McGuinness in the Irish presidential election campaign as a reflection of the "fact" that southerners hate northerners and are just as comfortable with the partition of Ireland as his own northern Unionist and Loyalist community.

Reality is us northerners are not liked down here

It has become crystal clear during this campaign that people "down here" don't like us northerners very much. Not in any individual sense - I'm sure lots of southerners could think of a likeable person from the North, if they tried hard enough - but in an abstract way. To the southern mind, we're too abrasive, overly aggressive and, when it suits us, pigheadedly literal (the grating accent doesn't help much, either). And that's not the half of it. Ultimately, we're seen as outsiders - if not quite foreigners - poking our noses into a polity that's none of our business.

The shock on the faces of Dana and Martin as the harsh reality of southern partitionism sank in has been something to behold. Dana's previous outings coincided with the tide of goodwill that swept Mary II into the Áras and, a couple of years later, herself briefly into the European parliament. Dana must feel like she's landed on a different planet from 2004 Ireland. As for Martin (who can only be cursing himself for not being more suspicious of Gerry opting to stand in a Border county, rather than run for president), his taken-aback demeanour has, to me at least, often suggested the previously unimaginable: "Good God, these people make even the unionists seem friendly."

So along with everything else, and contrary to some gloomy predictions, the presidential election has, in its own fashion, even helped with mutual understanding in Northern Ireland. Pity there couldn't be one every year.

One can understand his joy, as a northern Loyalist, at northern nationalists being savaged by the "southern" media in a manner which would never have happened in Northern Ireland - in a still divided community sensitive to the risks of reopening a sectarian divide. However he provides no evidence for his assertion that 'southerners hate northerners'. The reality is that all of the presidential candidates have been criticised almost equally, and what we are seeing is "politics-as-normal" in a maturing, functioning, democratic polity. This is a case of Dana and McGuinness being slated for being old style catholic nationalists, not northerners.

Far more interesting is the fact that the election campaign can also be understood as a "protestantisation" of Ireland. Protestant, with a small 'p', to be sure, but nevertheless a seminal movement away from the catholic nationalist certainties of yore. One could also use the less controversial term of 'secularisation' of course, but many Catholics are no less religious in their outlook: They have just lost faith in their church hierarchy and in the conservative nationalist political forms that Catholicism has traditionally been associated with.

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Ireland a Trojan horse for the USA within the EU?

by Frank Schnittger
Fri Oct 7th, 2011 at 11:48:42 AM EST

Dana Rosemary Scallan is one of 7 candidates for the Presidency of Ireland in an election to be held on the 27th. October. It has now been revealed that she became a citizen of the USA prior to her previous run for President in in 1997 and she has the chutzpah to claim that her US citizenship will help her to better perform her duties as Irish President.

Dana says US citizenship an 'advantage' in Áras race

Ms Scallon became a US citizen prior to putting her name forward for the 1997 presidential election but a decision was taken not to inform the electorate, her sister told a court in Iowa in 2008 during a legal case involving ownership of some of  the singer's recordings.

She disputes the above account and claims not to have become a US citizen until 1999 although she has also claimed that no one asked her about her citizenship during the 1997 campaign and thus it was never an issue. To become a US citizen she was required to swear the following oath of allegiance:

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

As a devout and militant Catholic, she can hardly claim that an Oath before God is a mere technicality - as she now appears to be trying to argue. She cannot even claim, as some Irish Bishops did when they withheld evidence of child abuse from the civil authorities, to have exercised a "mental reservation" in swearing her Oath of Allegiance to the USA, as this is specifically ruled out in the wording of the oath.

Read more... (43 comments, 775 words in story)

A record 7 candidates for Irish Presidency

by Frank Schnittger
Thu Sep 29th, 2011 at 05:25:01 PM EST

The Irish Presidential campaign finally enters its formal campaign phase with the deadline for valid nominations closing at 12.00 noon yesterday. Polling day is the 27th. October. A record 7 candidates have managed to reach the minimum threshold for nomination - the support of 20 members of either house of parliament or four county councils. The office of President itself is largely a ceremonial one so the campaign focus is on personalities and on social/moral/value issues which tells us much about how Irish voters see themselves and want to see themselves represented in Ireland and beyond.

The three most significant events in the lead up to the campaign were the failure of Fianna Fail - the major party of Government since the founding of the state - to nominate any candidate; the nomination by Sinn Fein of Martin McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland; and the resurrection of the campaign by David Norris who had earlier withdrawn his candidacy in the face of a controversy surrounding letters he had written to the Israeli High Court in support of a clemency plea for his former partner on a charge of statutory rape of a Palestinian minor.

The campaign seems destined to be dominated by controversies surrounding McGuinness' former role as an IRA commander, and Norris' judgement in supporting a former partner on statutory rape charges. However the range of candidates on offer is likely to confer a significance to the campaign out of all proportion to the importance of the Office of President itself. The seven declared candidates (in order of their level of first preference support in a recent opinion poll in brackets) are as follows:

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A new Treaty for the Eurozone?

by Frank Schnittger
Wed Sep 14th, 2011 at 12:03:39 PM EST

Angela Merkel has several times remarked that a new Treaty is required to prevent a recurrence of financial crises like the current one. Many economic commentators point to Eurobonds as an essential part of any solution. The German Constitutional Court appears to have ruled out the issuance of Eurobonds without specific approval by the Bundestag.  This implies that the issuance of Eurobonds is beyond the scope of current European Treaties as such Treaties are subject to adjudication by the European Court in Luxembourg, not the German Constitutional Court.

Not so long ago we had an attempt to create a new Constitution for the EU.  This eventually boiled down to a much reduced Lisbon Treaty which was ratified, not without some difficulty, by all member states. The Lisbon Treaty was at first rejected by the Irish electorate in a low turnout referendum in 2008.  After much political manoeuvring, it was eventually passed by a second referendum in 2009. Opponents castigated it for representing the thin end of the wedge of a new European Superstate.

In reality, the Lisbon Treaty represented no such thing. It made some minor adjustments to governance rules to reflect the fact that the EU had expanded to 27 Member states. In fact, even before it been ratified, it was rendered almost entirely irrelevant by the global financial crisis which erupted in 2008. What difference have the new powers for the European Parliament made? The power of Petition contained in the Treaty has not even been implemented. Has the European Council become any more effective with the appointment of a full time President of the Council?

Instead we have seen the usual fragmented, uncoordinated, shambolic lurching from one phase of the crisis to the next with European institutions largely sidelined whilst a dysfunctional Merkel/Sarkozy national leadership partnership struggles to achieve any kind of coherent policy analysis, never mind an effective solution.

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Samantha Power, the Monster, and the Libyan Intervention.

by Frank Schnittger
Thu Sep 8th, 2011 at 10:02:21 AM EST


[Update] First published Thu Mar 31st, 2011.

I thought it might be useful to republish this diary now that the Libyan intervention appears to be entering the end game phase of regime change. As expected "protecting civilians" morphed into regime change, but a major deployment of "boots on the ground" was avoided. We still don't know what the new Libya will look like or precisely how the transition will be accomplished. Have the interventionists like Samantha Power been vindicated by the outcome to date?[End update]

Samantha Power is Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the Staff of the National Security Council. Born in Ireland in 1970, she emigrated to America with her mother aged 9, and went on to study at Yale and then Harvard. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her book A Problem from Hell, a study of the U.S. foreign policy response to genocide and then wrote a second book called Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Nations Special Representative in Iraq who was killed in the Canal Hotel bombing in Baghdad.

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