Thursday, March 06, 2008

"I lied"

Gordon Brown successfully prevented a British referendum on its relationship with the European Union despite an earlier undertaking by Tony Blair to do so. The Times reports that Brown insisted that the Treaty of Lisbon, which is substantially the same as the rejected EU constitution is technically not the same thing:

The result means that Parliament will decide whether to ratify the treaty, signed by EU leaders last December. ... Mr Brown insisted that Labour’s manifesto pledge to hold a referendum applied to Europe’s previous proposed constitution, not to the Lisbon treaty, and accused Mr Cameron of appeasing sceptics within the Conservative Party.

An opposition shadow minister, William Hague, "poured scorn on claims that the Lisbon treaty was fundamentally different from the constitutional treaty rejected in referendums in France and the Netherlands in 2005, calling such arguments 'weasel words to wriggle out of a commitment'. Mr Hague said the two were substantially the same."

The Independent claimed that even if the Treaty of Lisbon and the EU Constitution were one and the same there was no need to submit its contents to something as vulgar as a referendum.

The argument over whether the treaty is substantially different from the European Union constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters three years ago is never likely to be settled. But it should be quite clear to the objective observer that this treaty does not represent a shift in Britain's relationship with the European Union worthy of a referendum, no matter what the die-hard Eurosceptic lobby maintains.

And, even if that were the case, in Britain we have a parliamentary system. Our MPs are charged with voting on legislation and treaties. Those who complain loudly that refusing a referendum is a betrayal of democracy confuse democracy with the mere process of holding a public vote.

The Independent disposes of the fact that the Labor party promised to hold a referendum on the question of the British relationship with Europe by simply saying, "we lied".

An epic catalogue of folly, arrogance and cynicism brought us to this pass. It began with the vanity of various European ministers and the former French President, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, who insisted on making necessary reform of the EU's decision-making processes post-enlargement into a grandiose and overblown "constitution" project.

This was followed by Tony Blair's cowardly decision to promise a UK referendum before the last general election to appease the Eurosceptic press. This, in turn, resulted in Labour MPs going into the last election committed to a referendum on the constitution. There can have been few more obvious hostages to fortune in recent political history.

In other words the Independent thinks it unfortunate that the former French President called the public's attention to the fact that a political superstructure was being constructed over the nations of Europe and thinks Tony Blair was "cowardly" to promise he would consult the voters on it when the whole thing could have been handled so much more quietly in backrooms.

One of the sentiments Barack Obama has successfully tapped into is the long simmering popular suspicion that the political and media classes have morphed into a class apart, accountable to no one and answerable only to itself. And while Obama's motives for tapping into that discontent may be debatable, the discontent itself is probably quite real. The public disaffection with politicians of both parties with an unlimited capacity for making concessions to illegal immigrant lobbies, identity politics, oil sheiks, corporate interests and foreign bagmen is bottled up only by the lack of a clear alternative.

But recent events in Britain underscore just how powerful the backroom has become and how little words to the public mean. Despite Tony Blair's promises not to give up British sovereignty without asking Britons, the "fix" was in. Recently Barack Obama himself was accused of privately telling the Canadian government one thing about NAFTA while the public yet another. Although Obama denies talking out of both sides of his mouth, saying his staffers were misunderstood, the shadow of the backroom looms large over every public pronouncement. Maybe politicians don't represent the "people" any more. Just themselves.







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30 Comments:

Blogger Kevin said...

David Cameron is the current Opposition leader, not William Hague.

3/06/2008 01:24:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat@hotmail.com said...

Thanks Kevin,

I did know that but didn't realize that the words "opposition leader" could sound like he was the leader of the conservatives than just one of the leaders of the opposition. Have fixed.

3/06/2008 01:42:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Establishing freedom and democracy requires a revolution.

Restricting freedom and establishing socialism merely requires a bureaucracy.

Like entropy, socialism may be inevitable with the passing of time.

3/06/2008 03:55:00 AM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

"I let him go."

3/06/2008 04:45:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Replace socialism with authoritarianism, or more accurately liberal fascism, and I think you are on to something.

3/06/2008 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger talnik said...

And the irony is that Obama seems (to an Illinoisan) to be the most European-socialist style candidate. Unlike the Euro-elites he won't tell you what he'll do or when he'll do it. Either he doesn't know, or he is deliberately hiding it.

3/06/2008 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

One of the sentiments Barack Obama has successfully tapped into is the long simmering popular suspicion that the political and media classes have morphed into a class apart, accountable to no one and answerable only to itself. And while Obama's motives for tapping into that discontent may be debatable, the discontent itself is probably quite real. The public disaffection with politicians of both parties with an unlimited capacity for making concessions to illegal immigrant lobbies, identity politics, oil sheiks, corporate interests and foreign bagmen is bottled up only by the lack of a clear alternative.
///////////////
One big thing will be to get off dependence on foreign oil. The bad side of McCain looks to be that he will continue the NAU suppression of American sovereignty. The good side of McCain right now looks like he would push hard to make the USA energy independent during his term. Likely in doing so the USA would set the template for the rest of the world

"Ten minutes into a Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa, and John McCain has come out with one of the boldest statements of his campaign so far. He promised to make the U.S. oil independent within five years.

The Senator says he’ll make it happen quickly, with a program like the Manhattan Project. That was the big push the U.S. made to build an atomic bomb before Germany could get one."

3/06/2008 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger John Hawkins said...

A little over a century ago, the House of Lords, searching for a reason to exist in an era that was turning decidedly anti-aristocratic, latched onto the idea that they were a check on the House of Commons. If the Commons attempted to pass any legislation that would fundamentally alter the British way of life, it was the Lords duty to veto that legislation and force a Parlimentary election, which would be about the new legislation.
Essentially, the Lords would force a referendum on the proposed change. If the governing party won re-election, then the change could go through.

It seemed to me a good idea. But it was pooh-pooh'd by the progressives of the time who - correctly - realized it would hamper their agenda.

Perhaps, as the House of Lords finds itself backed into a corner today, this might be a good idea to ressurect. Acting as the last bastion of British Sovereignty might win the chamber a stay of execution from the British people.

3/06/2008 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

McCain's energy plan:
I don't want to disillusion you but Jimmy Carter did the exact same thing. Carter even boycotted Iranian oil imports and imposed wage and price controls. Oil prices quadrupled.

The actual solution to achieving energy independence would be more nuclear power and synthetic fuel from coal. Instead we're pushing for solar and wind power and fuel economy standards. What next, unicorn horns and fairy dust?

3/06/2008 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Here is a discussion in forbes magazine of the the richest men in the world. There has been a noticeable rise in the number of billionaires around the world especially in places like China India and Russia. Money talks. These are caste/nomenclature societies.

3/06/2008 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

McCain's energy plan:
I don't want to disillusion you but Jimmy Carter did the exact same thing.
//////////////
There is a profound consensus right now in the USA on both sides of the isle because of environmental/national security/supply&demand --concerns that the USA has get off dependence on foreign oil NOW. (McCain wasn't the only candidate who spoke about getting off foreign oil. They all have with varying degrees of urgency)

Historically, I don't think its a coincidence that the British empire started into decline in the early 20th century in the same years that the world went from a coal/steam powered economy --for which the brits had plenty -- to oil for which up until 20 years ago the brits had none. (now their north sea supplies are going into rapid decline.)

3/06/2008 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Gerald Ford made the same promise of energy independence back in 1974. That's 34 years of empty promises. I do not have much enthusiasm that McCain's promise is any less hollow.

I have read recently, however, that solar panel efficiency may soon increase dramatically while prices drop. That would be a good start...if it happens.

3/06/2008 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Martin said...

The UK has the EU constitution, the US has illegal immigration, same story.

Re Obama, all you non-Chicagoans out there need to understand that in addition to being a Chicago Democratic pol, he is a trained Saul Alinsky community organizer. He will never take a chance on revealing his hand when there are crowds to manipulate, and he has been well-trained in how to manipulate crowds, including virtual (media) crowds.

3/06/2008 09:47:00 AM  
Blogger Fred Farkle said...

Charles wrote: There is a profound consensus right now in the USA on both sides of the isle ..... that the USA has get off dependence on foreign oil NOW.

News Flash:

The only energy that consensus has ever produced is a Cloud of Hot Air. Unless the technology is there to put something else in my tank, then I need to buy gas to go to work. Even at 100MPG, I need gas.

The *only way* to even come close to getting off foreign oil in 5 years would be to extract our own from domestic coal. That is it. And that would be a HUGE undertaking.

Any other suggestion for alternate energy "NOW" is pure fantasy. All other suggestions for alternate energy, including nuclear, operate at the margins of our requirements.

Do the math. Do the math.

Here's a suggestion that's a bit less fantastic than 'energy consensus':

Right after Manhattan takes the inevitable suitcase nuke in the gut, then we simply annex Saudia Arabia. Shouldn't be too hard. Call it war reparations if you like. Then we won't be dependent on Arab oil - will we?

3/06/2008 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doc99 said...

Didn't McCain vote against drilling in ANWR? "Weaning America from its dependence on foreign oil" is nothing but an empty slogan. Note to the politicians, the whole cosmos is nuclear, so why are we still stuck on carbon?

3/06/2008 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Insufficiently Sensitive said...

John McCain has come out with one of the boldest statements of his campaign so far. He promised to make the U.S. oil independent within five years

McCain and all his predecessors in that promise are indeed full of hot air. They think political-speak trumps the real world, as Stalin did with the Belomor Canal.

Back off from the Narcissus-mirror, Mr. McCain. Your Annapolis degree included some engineering - use it. In your thundering oratory you must tell us:

How much imported energy does the US use? That's how many barrels of oil per day, if you've forgotten your units of measurement. And what does it cost in current daily dollars?

Where is the substitute for that oil-energy going to come from?

How much of that substitute will be required to deliver the same energy? What will it cost to develop that substitute prior to production of its energy? How will you overcome the hysterical (and well-organized and funded) political opposition to that development and production? And what will that new energy cost in current daily dollars?

With those few items clearly explained in your propaganda, convince us that its cost will be worth the inevitable sacrifices.

And if you haven't done the work to furnish that information, how is your platform superior to anyone else's bullshit?

3/06/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

To achieve energy independence at the personal level, I am currently designing a pair of very large "hamster wheel" electrical generators, one for each of my brother's two doggies.

One is a plumpish Collie-shepherd mix who anyway needs the exercise. The other is a smaller but no less lazy dingo-clone who seriously needs to start carrying her weight around here.

Just need to order the right dynamos from Edmund Scientific.

Oh, yeah, and a battery-powered cattle prod to encourage them.

My expectations are not unreasonable. I figure they should be able to power the television and the computer.

(Tee Hee.)

3/06/2008 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

hmmm. sounds like you guys are invested in oil in the same way the open borders crowd is invested in the argument that we can't seal the southern border from illegals.

(hint: the USA could seal the southern border in a heartbeat if there were the political will to do so.)

Watch your back. Even the Mexican Nationalists don't like you guys.

3/06/2008 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Mad Fidler:
I can solve the Energy Crisis and the problem of Child Obesity. Picture televisions and video game machines that require an exercycle with a generator to operate!

Back to the original subject: A Canadian leader wants to help pull the wool over the eyes of the American Public. At the very least, the Bush Administration should deliver a Strongly Worded Protest.

3/06/2008 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger always right said...

It is fascinating (Not Really) to watch these elitists simply go from begging a popular endorsement (put forth for a vote) directly to "I told you so. It's for your own good".

The not funny part is the Americans want to copy the method here wholesale.

3/06/2008 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger Chavo said...

Energy independence (or more precisely practical Alternate Energy Sources) in our lifetime is a pipedream. Anyone from either party telling you that they can initiate a "Manhattan Project" for energy is selling snake oil.

I've posted these links to Stephen Den Beste before, but for those of you who haven't read them, please read this, this and this. They're very informative.

3/06/2008 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Chavo said...

Energy independence (or more precisely practical Alternate Energy Sources) in our lifetime is a pipedream.
///////////
You're dead wrong.

But I understand it won't do to argue with you.


you just need to spend more time over at physorg.com & a couple other science sites to follow the flow of energy related research. It will give you a better feel for what's just over the event horizon.

Politics & business these days --more than most -- is driven by scientific R&D. And its moving very fast. And getting faster

3/06/2008 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chavo said...

Charles said: "But I understand it won't do to argue with you."

I'm not sure what that means.

I tell you what, I promise to look at the site you sighted (kinda clumsly but It'll do), if you promise to read Den Beste.

Essentially, we can have all the grand ideas in the world but it all boils down to engineering and cost.

Can we engineer it?

Is the cost to produce the energy cheaper than oil? If so, is it clean? Does it withstand the political smell test?

Does the technology require more input energy to produce output energy?

I DO feel we need to be free of ME oil, but that would entail hard political choices. Choices that no one seems to want to make.

3/06/2008 06:17:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

fred farkle said
"The *only way* to even come close to getting off foreign oil in 5 years would be to extract our own from domestic coal. That is it. And that would be a HUGE undertaking."

That's not quite right.

Synthesizing gasoline from coal is a pain though doable.
Making methanol from it is easier, but is hard on typical fuel system components.

I think space scientist Robert Zubrin is on to something when he pushes mandating flex fuel capability (including methanol as well as ethanol) for all new non-diesel cars instead of the blunt instrument of the CAFE standards. the technology is proven and would only add $100 or so to the cost of cars.

W/o directly picking winners (like the craziness of corn ethanol subsidies) its about increasing options on the demand side.

3/06/2008 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger Highrespectable said...

Really interesting! http://www.spymac.com/details/?2349694

3/07/2008 02:21:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Hillary has stressed the need for a significant increase in green research without being too specific. Sen. Barack Obama has called for
“serious leadership to get us started down the path of energy
independence.” All the republican candidates have stressed the need for
energy independence. Mayor Giuliani said
“that weaning the United States off foreign oil must
become a national purpose, that doing it within 10 to 15 years would be
a centerpiece of a Giuliani presidency. The federal government must
treat energy independence as a matter of national security,” he said,
comparing it to the effort in the 1950’s and ’60’s to put men on the
moon”

3/07/2008 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

This past December NanoSolar made good on their promise. Nanosolar
(as recorded in Popular Science Magazine) is now producing solar cells
for about $1 a watt. That’s their sales price. Their manufacturing cost
is $.30 @ watt. It costs another $1@watt to plug in all the pieces for
the solar panel. To understand these numbers its helpful to understand
that the cheapest way to produce electrical power currently is by coal
and that comes to $2.1 a watt–plus transportation and clean up. Once
full production starts this year, Nanosolar’s plant will create 430
megawatts’ worth of solar cells a year—more than the combined total of
every other solar plant in the U.S.–and about the output of a medium
sized coal plant. All production is booked for the next 18 months. Its
easy to see that photovoltaics at Nanosolar price points will make it
easy to get financing to scale up to 50-100 plants just like the one
now in production. Anyhow this is a good read at the NY Times.

Judging by the research — photovoltaic costs will fall much further in the next couple years.

3/07/2008 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

I looked at Den Beste. His posts date from 2002 & 2004. Notice the difference between what he says about solar and what I posted about nanosolar.

Much the same thing is happening in a couple more energy verticals.

3/07/2008 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/07/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

3/07/2008 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

PeterBoston: Gerald Ford made the same promise of energy independence back in 1974. That's 34 years of empty promises. I do not have much enthusiasm that McCain's promise is any less hollow.

Permit me to remind you that science has made stupendous strides during the intervening years. 1974 might as well be horse and buggy technology in comparison to now.

I have read recently, however, that solar panel efficiency may soon increase dramatically while prices drop. That would be a good start...if it happens.

Solar panels cannot power a steel mill. That is the true standard of energy generation. Nuclear and, eventually, fusion power are the only answers.

For the interim, hydrogen or whatever else it takes to get us off of the oil teat remains a political Holy Grail. If McCain truly dedicates his potential administration to this single goal, he could quite possibly go down in history as one of America's greatest leaders.

Depriving the MME (Muslim Middle East) of America's wealth would go a long way towards choking off global terrorism. McCain has also seen enough of war to understand that halting food shipments to the MME could just a quickly bring about its downfall.

Let's all hope that such lessons are not lost upon him. They surely have been with the democrats.

3/10/2008 12:03:00 AM  

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