jump to navigation

Efficiency and rhetoric: or why you can’t run an administration on rhetoric alone March 14, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.


Listening to the Slate political podcast John Dickerson made what I thought was a good point. Noting the departure of Trump’s fourth (count ‘em – fourth) Communications Director, Hope Hicks this last week he suggested that a basic problem for the US administration is that there’s a deficit in terms of its ability to attract people to it. And why would that be? Well Dickerson asked a question which answered itself:

Why would anyone in their right mind want to work in a WH which is described as a place of constant chaos?

And another week and another departure with the hapless Tillerson shown the exit. The irony that it was Trump who selected him for the role – one he clearly was unsuited to is almost neither here nor there. Richard Wolffe’s overview is fairly stunning in its own way detailing his inadequacies.

I was aware that the situation at the State Department was a disaster, with resignations, few hirings and many positions unfilled, but I hadn’t realised he had twice slashed the budget. And for frankly the most stupid reasons possible. Still, he was, for all his myriad faults, a sanish voice on the Iran deal. That will be missed (and as to the new Secretary and the head of the CIA – well, let’s just say there’s no grounds for optimism regarding Pompeo or Haspel).

I really hope that this White House is neatly and quietly skewering the idea that those who are in business are somehow uniquely well suited to run states. Because while it may well be that Trump is a master businessperson, and I suppose the simple fact he has held together that which he inherited and added somewhat to it is an achievement of sorts, those skills appear unsuited (to put it at its kindest) to be translated much further afield (I supposed on could make a case that the Tillerson firing was chosen as a means of deflection from rising Dem hopes in elections but even still that’s a function of push-back rather than triumph).

I’ve no doubt that for many in business his rhetoric was engaging (where it wasn’t alarming) and effective in its own way. But then running a business is very different to running a state. The inputs and outputs are so fundamentally distinct, the necessity for collaborative engagement well beyond one’s area of expertise, the reality of others actions having profound impacts and so on. And then a further point. Statecraft is – quite literally – a matter of life and death in a way that relatively few business concerns are.

And because of that one can get away with business practices, and approaches, that just isn’t true of state management and administration. This is not to deny chancers and the mediocre and the downright inept aren’t evident in political and legislative areas, but rather that they are constrained by systems. But Trump is sui generis because he is at the apex of the system. This doesn’t offer him unlimited power, it doe however allow him greater room for movement and for shaping what happens further down the pyramid.

It was grim to see his responses to the Florida shooting and then the clawback by the administration, because it was so characteristic of this administration. The rhetoric is simply that – even in the context of multiple deaths. The reality is something quite starkly different.

And the US tilts ever more right-wing.

Populism and public health March 14, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
add a comment

It was mentioned in comments the other day about the Five Star Movement being particularly weak on vaccination. This article here from Time.com will do nothing to allay fears on that score.

In the meantime FSM has supposedly ‘moderated’ its antagonism, saying it’s pro-vaccination but against making them compulsory. Which is a nonsense (and don’t get me started on this reification of parents as the sole arbiters of what is good for children).

What is interesting is the manner in which class has functioned in all this….

Vaccine skepticism in Italy dates back to a debunked 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield that linked the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) shot typically given to children after their first birthday to autism. The discredited idea took hold among an “intellectual fringe” in Italy, says Andrea Grignolio, a medicine historian at the La Sapienza University of Rome. The skeptics tend to be “rich and older parents,” he says, “who are susceptible to both alternative treatments, like homeopathy, and conspiracy theories.”

I’ve seen something of this too here where a small minority of what one could broadly describe as middle class parents have seemed unusually, almost vehemently, anti-vaccination whereas parents who are working class seem a lot less, well frankly, gullible. And this driven by conspiracy theories in my experience.

That this has actual real world implications that are deeply serious for children is extremely troubling. In Italy…

It shouldn’t be a huge surprise, then, that measles has made a troubling comeback in Italy. Cases jumped nearly six-fold from around 870 cases in 2016 to more than 5,000 cases last year. In the last six months of 2017, Italy was ranked sixth-highest worldwidein measles cases after India, Nigeria, the Ukraine and China. The mandatory vaccine legislation, nicknamed the Lorenzin law after the country’s health minister Beatrice Lorenzin, was introduced last year to combat the troubling increase.

One thing that is essential is that people get some grasp of statistics and math in this in regard to risk. Actually that goes for near enough everything.


Old news and new news March 14, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Reading the latest issue of the Phoenix this fortnight there was a most interesting profile of President Michael D. Higgins. But one thing that really caught my attention was the following:


Before the November 1992 general election, the then socialist minded TD, Emmet Stagg, was on his wait of the ILP in disgust at Spring’s determination to enter coalition with either FG or FF. Stagg entered negotiations with Democratic Left to form a new party and while Spring would have been happy to see Stagg exit he was aghast when he heard that Higgins was also on the verge of leaving to become leader of the new party.

Got to be honest, while Stagg was indeed close to jumping to join DL (not form a new party) and there were rumours of others talking (though I don’t recall MDH’s name at the time),  I never heard anyone mention Higgins being mooted as ‘leader of the new party’ and if new party there was was that a successor to DL or DL itself. In Kevin Rafter’s book on DL while mentioned there’s no flesh on the Higgins rumour and in The Lost Revolution only Stagg is discussed.

One other aspect of this, apparently in the mid-1990s Senator Brendan Ryan was in talks about joining DL. They never came to anything and eventually he joined the ILP.



UCU Strikes – no agreement. March 14, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Thanks to the person who forwarded this…

University strikes remain on as UCU rejects proposals

13 March 2018

University strikes remain on as UCU rejects proposals

UCU has rejected a proposal drawn up at talks between the union and Universities UK (UUK) to end the university pensions strike. UCU representatives from the universities where staff are on strike over plans to cut their pensions met at the union’s headquarters today (Tuesday).

The union is calling for urgent negotiations with the universities’ representatives Universities UK aimed at resolving the dispute. The union said the strikes and action short of a strike remain on, and it would now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period.

Last week the union said that universities would be hit with a second wave of 14 strike days targeted at exams and assessment if the dispute was not resolved.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘Branches made it clear today that they wanted to reject the proposal. UCU’s greatest strength is that we are run by and for our members and it is right that members always have the final say.

‘The strike action for this week remains on and we will now make detailed preparations for strikes over the assessment and exam period. We want urgent talks with the universities’ representatives to try and find a way to get this dispute resolved.’

Very impressive to see people holding fast.

What you want to say – 14 March, 2018 March 14, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

As always, following on Dr. X’s suggestion, it’s all yours, “announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose”, feel free.

There are no words… March 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

A woman convicted of aggravated murder in El Salvador after suffering a stillbirth has been freed from prison, the second such release in the space of a month.

Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín, 34, had her sentence commuted by the ministry of justice and was released on Tuesday after serving almost 15 years of a 30-year sentence.

The court said it considered the sentence to be excessive and immoral.

El Salvador has had a total ban on abortion since 1998. Since then dozens of women have been accused of having illegal terminations after experiencing obstetric emergencies, and later have been convicted of homicide.

Too close for comfort. March 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
add a comment

In reference to the Brexit referendum I thought Andrew Rawnsley had a useful point well worth expanding on in the Observer a week or so back when he wrote:

Those who fondly imagined – yes, I am talking about you, David Cameron – that a referendum would settle the Europe argument and resolve decades of Tory civil war have been doubly disappointed. The narrowness of the 52/48 result in June 2016 guaranteed that. A big margin of victory for one side or the other might have put it to bed, though even then I am doubtful. The tightness of the verdict on a question that arouses such intense passions guaranteed that the referendum would have a long and bitter aftermath. That has been compounded by the fundamental design fault of trying to deal with such a complex issue by plebiscite: the result left entirely open what form of Brexit should be pursued. It gave an instruction without furnishing a mandate. This was bound to mean months – no, years – of ferocious dispute about how to interpret “the will” of an extremely divided people.

Of course it is not inevitable that closely fought and closely won referendums lead to sustained conflict. The 1990s divorce referendum in this state was even closer on 50.28% in favour and 49.72% against, but something had shifted and there was no appetite and no political momentum behind forces who disagreed with the outcome.

And that’s the key thing. In the UK the result was in some ways the worst of all worlds. Too close to allow space for victory to be uncontested, patchy and going different ways in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Driven by a party split between enthusiastic remainers and vocal and die-hard Leavers. And worse, and unlike the divorce referendum here, with a wording that allowed for multiple interpretations as to what constituted its essence. Rawnsley as can be seen above touches on that, but it really is the central problem. What did people in the UK vote for when they voted for leaving the EU. Because that lack of nuance has, at least so far, holed the concept of membership of EEA/EFTA, and/or the single market/customs union. It has been a gift for those wedded to the hardest exit and arguably to those who seek a remain.

And it points up that some issues may be irresolvable. At least in the short term.

Workers News: Union recognition  March 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.


Depressing to see this too… a report in the SBP that TK Maxx have been told to recognise Mandate by the Labour Court. But troublingly:

The Labour court recommendation notes that the company did not meet with the union, and that it did not attend the hearing in February.

Gerry Knight of Mandate told the SBP that this was an example for the ‘growing and creeping tendency of employers not to engage with the state’s industrial relations machinery’.


There’s worse:


As a consequence of not attending the hearing, the LC’s recommendation is not binding on TK Maxx.

How can that loophole be allowed to persist?

And as always, for those worried about the company’s financial situation – last year it paid a €20m dividend to its US parent company.

Workers News: Bad weather leave days March 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.



Depressing to see this. Dawn Meats unwilling to pay staff for the day and a half lost during the snow earlier this month 

A Dawn Meats spokesman said: “Following the advice of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group, production was suspended across all Dawn Meats sites in Ireland from Thursday afternoon and through Friday of last week.

“In respect of this downtime – enforced by weather events outside our control – team members have access to normal annual leave arrangements and scope to work additional hours as we replenish supplies for our customers in the coming days and weeks. These arrangements are in line with norms in the food-processing sector.”

Apparently not – according to Siptu organiser Michael Browne.

I’ve heard this sort of stuff before. Some companies force employees to take holiday days when they are ill. That this can hardly increase morale appears to worry them not at all.

And fear not for Arrow Group, owner of Dawn Meats for as the Independent notes:


Pre-tax profits at the Arrow Group, one of the largest meat processors in the country, last year increased by 53pc to €37.73m.

New accounts show that the Co Waterford-based group achieved the sharp increase in pre-tax profits in spite of revenues dipping by 2.4pc from €511.65m to €499m in the 12 months to January 1 this year.

The group achieved the sharp rise in profits after the business’s administrative expenses reduced by 48.5pc from €51.25m to €26.35m.

They’re clearly not going to starve. Good to see a union standing up for its members. Less good to see a company so indifferent to the welfare of its workers.

And interesting to see this spread more widely.  No surprise that ISME are pleading inability to pay… 

However, the small business lobby group, ISME warned that many businesses simply could not afford to pay staff when they had lost revenue due to closures.

ISME Chief Executive Neil McDonnell said hundreds of millions of euro worth of trade had been lost during Storm Emma and a lot of small and medium enterprises who had lost turnover would have difficulty paying staff and traders before the end of March.

He also warned that legislation would not resolve the matter as new laws would not address where there was simply no money to pay.

On the referendum campaign trail March 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Any reports from people who’re out there knocking on doors? This piece in the IT by Kitty Holland struck me as interesting detailing how PBP canvassers found a very mixed response in upper middle class areas whereas:


In the nearby, and less wealthy, Irishtown and Ringsend the reaction is predominantly pro-repeal.

Talking to people close who are canvassing and campaigning there’s a mixed set of responses. Some are getting very positive feedback, others not so much.

And this thought that was communicated to me really struck me as telling – that being that on Saturday last thousands were happy to march through Dublin supporting an anti-abortion stance, and the distinction between that and the marriage equality referendum was stark, that this was not a context where that could simply roll into this, that to be against marriage equality was something very few would admit to, let alone march openly about.



%d bloggers like this: