Friday, May 25, 2012

Do we need a 3rd option on the EUref ballot paper?

I don't use foul language as a rule. I prefer anything I write to be "PG" at worst. Yet, the more I think about the coming referendum the more one word keeps coming into my head and that word starts with an 'F.' I guess my problem is that 'Yes' or 'No' we are totally "stuffed" either way.

I don't think I'm alone in feeling this way. In fact, if the ballot paper included a third choice with this curse word as the third option along with 'Yes' and 'No' I think it might actually top the poll.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Only Merkel can beat Obama in November

I know I said it on Twitter, but that's like exhaling on a cold day. Your breath is only visible for a short time before it vanishes for good. Twitter posts are the same.

So, I'll say it again: only Angela Merkel can scupper President Obama's reelection. Yes that flies in the face of all the good vibes that those on the American right are sensing, but I don't think there's much Mitt Romney can do to beat Obama in November. Anglea Merkel can, however.

The G8 summit this weekend showed how important it is that Obama convince Merkel to open Germany's coffers to underwrite European debt and save the euro – for the rest of 2012 anyway. Obama desperately needs Greece to remain the euro.

If Greece left it would trigger all sorts of uncertainty that would have unpredictable knock-on effects. Would other countries have to leave the euro? If yes, which? Ireland? Portugal? Spain? Italy? Could the euro survive even if Ireland left?

In the end these effects might only have a minimal impact on America, but the uncertainty would last through the summer. That would be enough to put the November election in doubt. That's why Obama is working overtime on Cameron & especially Hollande to "isolate" Merkel. He needs 10 months of certainty and only the Germans can give him that.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Bridge - sort of worth watching

I know people were enthralled by The Bridge a few weeks ago, but I have to assume the decline in tweets about it indicate that many feel as I do: it's all right, but nothing special.

If it weren't for the DVR I wouldn't be watching The Bridge. The DVR is new to me and recording a series is so easy that I thought I'd record the BBC4 program that seemed to be all the rage on Twitter. I really enjoyed the first two episodes, but I think that was mostly because of the way the show looked and not because of the actual content.

I liked the dreary Scandinavian backdrop, but it sure as hell can't be doing their tourism any good. Other than the bridge that connects Malmo & Copenhagen - and that gives the show its name - is there anything attractive to look at here? I have to believe the two cities aren't as dreary as they're portrayed in The Bridge.

What are my main issues with The Bridge?
  1. Saga Noren. I'm supposed to believe this half developed human being is a top investigator. I don't see how that could be possible. She may be smart and good at thinking, but her complete lack of empathy would make her completely incapable of conducting an interview or even just asking basic questions. She's a cartoon character. Oh yeah, but we're supposed to get the idea that she may be learning how to understand other people now because she's exposed to Martin. Stupid.
  2. Martin's behavior with the rich widow was too indifferent to his job while he's on the case of a lifetime. And there is nothing about her that shouts irresistible. Too dumb, too senseless.
  3. It was obvious early on that the bad guy had access to their main communication systems, but somehow they seem surprised that he knew where to find a key witness after they talked about her over their internal comms system. {& what was she doing walking in a parking garage?}
  4. Daniel the journalist is also too dumb. I don't think for one second he'd go out clubbing, taking drugs. He'd be on a professional high. Less dumb than some of the above, but still seems beyond credible to me.
I like the insights it gives into life in these two European cities. I generally have no idea what language people are speaking. Swedish or Danish? I don't know, but I get the idea that Danes all understand Swedish, but the opposite is not quite true.

There are other little things that I like and things that have annoyed me. I'll keep watching, only it'll be like last night where I fast forward through stretches of it.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Michael D - causing drowsiness in the 'city that never sleeps'

Yesterday I checked around because I thought 'd like to see what sort of local coverage President Michael D Higgins was getting in NYC. The answer: not a lot. All I found was a blog post on the web site of a local Westchester County paper and an interview with WNYC.

The interview started badly - for the interviewer & his audience - and got worse from there. The first question was "How are things in your country today?" and Michael D was off. We're "coming out of a number of assumptions" ... unemployment is the biggest problem, people are "hurting from adjustments" to income and services, but "Ireland is doing well."

That was news to me. I thought we were still crippled with massive debts, beholden to our EU/ECB/IMF paymasters and basically looking at a decade of low growth and economic malaise, but no we're "doing well."

To be fair to Michael D (I swear I'd written Pres Higgins, but sounds so wrong) he qualified that by pointing out that we've "gone back to doing what we do best: agri-business, exports" and whatever it is "highly-educated young people can do." He then segued (without pausing for a breath) into "we had a very false version of economic growth for between 10-15 years."

He then waxed lyrical about the lack of bank regulation. He mentioned Glass-Steagall, but admitted our problems were caused by our own regulatory failures.

The interviewer, Brian Lehrer, played into Higgins' hands by asking him something about Ireland needing "a new set of values." Oh, did Michael D lap that one up.

Two things are happening on this score, apparently:
  1. We are "recovering sense of interdependency and the old decencies because you know during Celtic Tiger years we valued people by their possessions, properties." This all happened due to the overspill of the "assumptions of something that happened all around the world, that deregulation led to growth and less reg led to more growth." This was happening in an international atmosphere and within that you had the Irish property bubble. What he's concerned about, what he got a huge mandate for (in a way) was a program of inclusive citizenship. "I've been around the country and people are removing barriers to participation in a creative society... creative in everything we do, not just the arts." *

  2. We are also creating an Irishness we might be proud of, an Irishness that takes global responsibility e.g. soldiers in peace-keeping, aid workers
After that it was mostly stream of consciousness stuff. I was sure I heard Lehrer scratch his head, rub his eyes, stifle more than one yawn. When Michael D started quoting the Irish Constitution in response to a question (he had to interrput) about the Fiscal Compact Treaty I think I heard Lehrer put his finger to his head as if it was a gun. Or maybe that was just me. I'm not sure now.

Finally, around the 13th minute the interview ended. I bet Lehrer and his team were relieved. I know it's a public radio station, but even WNYC doesn't like to lose too many listeners, especially to simple sleepiness. That's a total no-no in New York.

* I did my best to faithfully reproduce what he said here. He moves very quickly.

{Listen to the whole interview. You'll be crying and laughing, sometimes simultaneously.}