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Bits and pieces: The stuff there isn’t time to write about in any depth… this week – Presidential Campaigns here and there, Fintan O’Toole, Michael Taft on the time we all ‘partied’ and Conor McCabe to speak at Pearse Institute. September 30, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, The Left, US Politics.

There’s so much going on that it’s difficult to keep track of it. So let’s briefly consider a few of the issues of the day in almost no detail at all!

We have an US Republican Presidential candidate nomination process that continues to throw up the most intriguing possible Presidents. Many of these people make Mitt Romney look good, and that just can’t be right. But John Dickerson of Slate discusses the elusive quality of ‘leadership’ in relation to Obama and makes what seem to be some good points.

There’s our own Presidential Election where the field looks oddly diminished now we see them all as actual candidates rather than potential nominees. I was amused by Stephen Collins pointing to ‘Áras hopefuls McGuinness, Norris face tough questions’… which is a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever I saw one. But I wonder if it’s a very sensible tactic. Ascribing difference to those two marks them as distinct from the rest of the field. Not necessarily the line I’d be taking if I – for example – was keen that Mary Davis would win.

Speaking of which, Mary Davis without doubt has the most polished looking posters of the campaign so far. Top that Norris or McGuinness. And there’s Sean Gallagher who perhaps in an indication of his chances has decided to forego posters. A nation looks on – or doesn’t – bemusedly.

Worth a quick mention is the bizarre tangle Fintan O’Toole has tied himself up in over the McGuinness candidacy. It’s like one column in I got it, O’Toole doesn’t think McGuinness should be President. But two columns, the latter of which uses ever more baroque reasoning to say the same thing and continues to add an amazingly partitionist aspect to it?

Then again today John Waters tries, with no real conviction, to distance himself from his previous column on the Presidency.

On a complete tangent, anyone noticed how the Amazon Kindle can now access Public Library books in the US.

I don’t have a Kindle, but there’s something I like about the idea of this. Presumably as with any public library there will only be limited copies available of a book to readers and when they’re ‘checked out’ they’re not accessible, but while one can be concerned about the threat to printed books – though anyone who goes to the Central Library will see how that’s a threat that remains muted and for a variety of reasons, the fact that someone is thinking through the logic of ebooks and how they can and should be read not simply in a commercial context but with a sense of public good is oddly heartening. Surely, Amazon isn’t doing this purely for benign reasons, no doubt the calculation is that by approaching the problem in this way they’ll pull in more readers for their ereaders, but even so.

Meanwhile, here’s an important article by Michael Taft which uses data to support what many of us may have felt purely on a subjective level a regards our supposed ‘party’ in the early 2000s.

And an excellent point here in comments…

But – whatever the background to the figures – they do support what I feel should be the focus of the left in defending social welfare – we should argue in favour of equality and in support of a system into which everybody pays and everybody gains. When we focus on the poor and the so-called ‘most vulnerable’ we shift the focus away from a welfare state and back towards some modernised version of Victorian charity.

I think this gets lost in a lot of the discussion at the moment.

Also on matters economic, consider IBECs some parts sensible, some parts not, submission on growth in the economy. A lot to agree with, not least that they’re talking about growth, and some of their ideas seem quite interesting. I’m not sure I disagree with their thoughts on child benefit. But… this being IBEC as always they want more spending cuts, and that links directly into the quote above as regards the sort of social provision we’ll be left with after their approach.

This by the way is surely an hypothetical…

And still on the economic front, this here, The Dream of Europe and the Bailout of Greece – Planet Money Podcast from NPR is eye-opening as regards perceptions in Germany and the Greek bailout – which seem a world away from the caricatures one reads or hears in much of the news media of a resentful Germany unwilling to help others.

Here’s something anyone who hasn’t heard Conor speak before should try to get along to…THE RAY CROTTY MEMORIAL LECTURE 15 OCTOBER 2011 – PRESENTED BY DR. CONOR MCCABE


1. Terry McDermott - September 30, 2011

I fail to see how O’Toole is partitionist. Given that he actually clearly knows something about the subject puts him ahead of most commentators. If I’m not mistaken he was sharing a platform with Pearse Doherty two weeks ago, on the economic crisis, so it isn’t simply anti-SF animus either. Perhaps he has a brain and a memory.


WorldbyStorm - September 30, 2011

Partitionist in that he expects SF – and more specifically McGuinnes – to do its duty within the Executive and be fit for that, but not to be fit to be President of this state?

Sort of major inconsistency there, not least because one is an executive position and the other isn’t, and secondly because under the terms of the GFA the Executive can also share power with the Dublin Government [indeed effectively does in a limited range of areas], so it’s not about brains and memories, it’s about basic facts.


Joe - October 3, 2011

Here’s a basic fact which might make me a partitionist. The North is different.


2. Sean P - September 30, 2011

Anyone interested in the issues of publishing, ebooks, and libraries should check out Sarah Hougton-Jan’s blog: http://librarianinblack.net/librarianinblack/ . She’s a working librarian and a tech guru. Check out her post on “Questions we should be asking about Kindle Library Lending. Just saying


WorldbyStorm - September 30, 2011

Thanks I hadn’t read that… As I said above, Amazon surely isn’t doing this from altruism.


3. CL - October 1, 2011

It is not just Republicans, as John Dickerson suggests, who are saying that Obama is not showing leadership. The recent Ron Suskind book has a whole slew of Democrats expressing chagrin at Obama’s inability to make decisions.
“First, Suskind writes, the president brought in too many of the wrong people. Both Summers and Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s first chief of staff, were temperamentally unsuited to the jobs they were handed, Suskind says. He also makes it clear that Geithner was the wrong choice to run the Treasury Department, considering his sympathies lay largely with the banks.
Second, he writes, the president was virtually incapable of making a decision. When his aides fought over diametrically opposite policies, he persisted in seeking consensus.”-Nocera, NYT.

And because Obama has lost the support of his base the catastrophic prospect of a Tea Party president is now a distinct possibility.


WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2011

Emanuel seems to me to have been a key issue there, but also, as you allude a sense that Obama sought consensus. It’s sort of like the academic version of Clinton’s triangulation, but less successful.

I’m not so sure about the last part though, or rather I think that if – for example – the Reps picked Perry – the only serious TP supported candidate left in the running, they’ll lose. Romney I think is a much more substantial threat, but the Tea Party may not see him as sufficiently right wing. I think Obama/Perry and Obama wins because Independent votes will stick with Obama over Perry. Obama/Romney… well, farewell Obama most likely.


CL - October 1, 2011

Perry, the Great White Dope, certainly stumbled badly and incoherently in the last debate. But Romney is out-Tea Partying Perry on a number of issues such as immigration. And if nominated will be beholden to the Tea Party.
Its not that those who supported Obama last time will vote Republican. Its just that they won’t vote at all and allow the Republican, whoever it is, to win.
It could be that the Obama constituency, that base that put him in power, is tired of waiting for Obama. Waiting for go deo. And is switching towards non political party types of activity, such as Occupy Wall Street. Last night there was a massive rally here in NYC. And the unions and community groups are now offering support. It may be a sign of things to come or maybe not.


WorldbyStorm - October 1, 2011

Big time agree that Romney will be beholden to TP.

What do you think of Obama’s somewhat more combative stance. Too little too late?


CL - October 1, 2011

‘FDR became a great president because the mass protests among the unemployed, the aged, farmers and workers forced him to make choices he would otherwise have avoided. He did not set out to initiate big new policies.’-Francis Fox Piven.
Maybe this is the beginning of that protest movement.


4. CL - October 1, 2011

The situation is fluid and volatile. These two pieces capture something of the current (uncertain) mood.



CL - October 1, 2011

Obama is our leader so he might follow the crowd.

Mass arrests now on Bklyn Bridge.


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