Category Archives: UK

Nobody Has The Luxury Of A Protest Vote

What have I been saying, people:

Less than 24 hours after the United Kingdom voted to “Brexit,” those who supported the referendum are already voicing their regret, saying they didn’t think their vote would matter.

The decision, which will remove the UK from the European Union, has already sent shockwaves through the British economy. Just this morning, the value of the British pound hit a 30-year low.

In an interview on BBC’s Victoria Live, one man who voted “Leave” said, “I didn’t think my vote was going to matter too much because I thought we were just going to remain.”

The man, who was introduced as Adam, said he is now “worried” because he assumed “Remain” would win. He added, “I think the period of uncertainty that we’re going to have for the next couple of months — that’s just been magnified now. So yeah, quite worried.”

And check out this News5 video:

Just a quickie sampling here. Mostly what I’m hearing from the “Regrexit” crowd is that they didn’t think their vote mattered, it was a foregone conclusion that Remain would win, they wanted to lodge a protest vote, yada yada.

The lesson learned here? You do not have a the luxury of a protest vote. Ever.

Every fucking vote matters, people. Always.

I hope the “Bernie or Busters” are listening.

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Filed under Current Events, UK

>Royal Pains

>I’m watching the royal wedding while drinking my morning coffee, enjoying all of the pomp and ceremony and ooohing over Kate’s gorgeous gown and tittering over the Beefeaters (who always make me think of a bottle of gin) and thinking what beautiful children these two are going to have, and I just know I’m going to catch shit from people who think the royal wedding is a silly waste of time. Those people have been all over Twitter and the blogs the past couple weeks, telling everyone the country has more important things to worry about than some superfluous monarch’s wedding, and while that may be true I just want to say to you folks: STFU.

I don’t know why we Americans love the British royals but we do. Maybe it’s a chance to live vicariously through our cousins across the pond, maybe it’s the fact that so many British ex-pats live here, maybe it’s just our American love of celebrity. But I have no problem setting aside all of the angst and agita and sniping and griping which has consumed us 24/7 and enjoy a real-life fairy tale for a few moments. In fact, I think we need it. We need to turn off the noise and think happy thoughts for a little while.

You know what strikes me watching this spectacle? Seeing hundreds of thousands of people crowd the London streets cheering, waving their Union Jacks, just proud to be British citizens. They’ve got their problems in that country too, but it’s nice to see them turn it all off and enjoy a moment of solidarity. They’re jumping in fountains, wearing funny hats, and expressing the pure joy of this historic moment.

Americans had a moment like that not too long ago. It was the inauguration of Barack Obama. Remember that? Remember the millions who descended on Washington D.C. to experience history in person? The millions more who sat glued to their television sets as the nation’s first African American president took the oath of office? Remember how proud we all felt that America had taken this extraordinary step, moved past its painful history and vowed to start fresh?

You know, it’s always been interesting to me that the Glenn Beck types want to bring America back to 9/12 — the day after we were attacked, when the nation was unified, yes that’s true, but it was in fear and sorrow. What does that say about them? If I had to pick a day it would be 1/21 when we were unified by hope and a desire for change.

Since then we’ve been dragged back into the same cesspool of sleazy politics and message manipulation and absurd attacks on the president’s legitimacy not to mention his policies. We’ve returned to business as usual.

Let’s hope the new royal couple fares better.

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Filed under politics, President Barack Obama, UK

>Why We Fought A Revolution

>Britain’s Lord Griffiths, who happens to be vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International, offers us a reminder:

Public must learn to ‘tolerate the inequality’ of bonuses, says Goldman Sachs vice-chairman

Bankers’ soaring pay is an investment in the economy, Lord Griffiths tells public meeting on City morality

One of the City’s leading figures has suggested that inequality created by bankers’ huge salaries is a price worth paying for greater prosperity.

In remarks that will fuel the row around excessive pay, Lord Griffiths, vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a former adviser to Margaret Thatcher, said banks should not be ashamed of rewarding their staff.

Speaking to an audience at St Paul’s Cathedral in London about morality in the marketplace last night, Griffiths said the British public should “tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity for all”.

He added that he knew what inequality felt like after spending his childhood in a mining town in Wales. Both his grandfathers were miners who had to retire from work through injury.

[…]

Griffiths said that many banks would relocate abroad if the government cracked down on bonus culture. “If we said we’re not going to have as big bonuses or the same bonuses as last year, I think then you’d find that lots of City firms could easily hive off their operations to Switzerland or the far east,” he said.

Goldman Sachs is currently on track to pay the biggest ever bonuses to its 31,700 employees after raking in profits at a rate of $35m (£21m) a day.

The idea that greed is good because somehow one person’s obscene pay will eventually benefit the masses is one made often by free market conservatives and tea party protesters here in the States. The irony that this is the same exploitive attitude found among British lords should be lost on no one.

Furthermore, the argument that people should just tolerate inequality because if they don’t, the bankers will take their toys and move to Switzerland is at best elitist and patronizing; at worst, it’s economic blackmail.

Does anyone really think Goldman Sachs will abandon the London market to its competitors? Does anyone else really think that the inequality created by bankers’ huge salaries will create prosperity for anyone other than that same privileged group?

It seems to me we fought a revolution over this kind of exploitation, the attitude that “you little people are here to serve us aristocratic foks.” The economic exploitation of colonies is a theme which runs deep through British colonial history, and one often hears the argument that this is what led to the fall of the British empire. How ironic these arguments are now parroted by America’s free-market conservatives, our own home-grown brand of elites who confuse greed with patriotism.

I don’t mean to dump on our British cousins. Here’s an idea from Lord Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority:

Lord Turner, who was also present at the meeting, called once again for a global tax on financial transactions. He said that such a so-called “Tobin tax” could redistribute bank profits to help fight world poverty and climate change.

See, they aren’t all bad.

I don’t see the argument that people must tolerate inequality for their own good as resonating anywhere in the world. The mere fact that such gross inequality exists pretty much negates your argument. If a group of bankers raking in mega-millions helped the rest of us, then we wouldn’t all be in such dire straights right now, would we?

If the idea that tax cuts spurred the economy and allowed wealth to rain down like pennies from heaven on the rest of us, we’d all have benefitted from the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 and poverty would not be at an 11-year high.

Face it, there are no free market fairies, and nothing trickles down on the people except misery. Telling people to shut up and let bankers have their giant bonuses because it’s good for Britain (or America) is not a winning argument.

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Filed under Goldman Sachs, UK

>Is There Anything We Won’t Do For Oil?

>Turns out it wasn’t humanitarian, compassionate reasons that prompted the British government to release Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi.

It was oil:

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

[…]

The exploration deal for oil and gas, potentially worth up to £15 billion, was announced in May 2007. Six months later the agreement was still waiting to be ratified.

On December 19, 2007, Straw wrote to MacAskill announcing that the UK government was abandoning its attempt to exclude Megrahi from the prisoner transfer agreement, citing the national interest.

[…]

Within six weeks of the government climbdown, Libya had ratified the BP deal. The prisoner transfer agreement was finalised in May this year, leading to Libya formally applying for Megrahi to be transferred to its custody.

For those who haven’t been following this story:

On Aug. 20, 2009, the Scottish government released him on compassionate grounds, saying that medical evidence showed he would die within months of prostate cancer. Mr. Megrahi, who served 8 years of a 27-year minimum sentence, was flown to Tripoli, Libya, and welcomed home as a hero, setting off angry protests in Britain and the United States.

I’m wondering just what, if anything, the West won’t do for oil.

We invade countries that were not a threat to us, killing tens of thousands of civillians.

We lie to our own people.

We poison our air and land and threaten the future of the entire globe.

We torture and indefinitely imprison people who, if they didn’t hate us before, surely do now.

And we release a convicted terrorist, who killed 270 people, to a hero’s homecomning.

It seems to me that oil is a pernicious thing, bringing us so much wealth and such a high standard of living over the past 50 years. But at what cost?

I ask you this: What good will it be for a man to gain the whole world, if he loses his soul? What price have we placed on our souls?

Is this it? Easy living, big cars, cheap food, big houses, nice clothes? Are we bought so cheap, then?

Surely the devil is laughing.

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Filed under Libya, oil, terrorism, UK

>Some Thoughts On The UK Terror Scare

>[UPDATE]:

Josh Marshall (via Atrios):
Scotland Yard detective John O’Connor described the botched UK bombings as “So incompetent as to be almost laughable,” and unlikely to be Al Qaeda.
———————-

First of all: to our friends in the UK: know that Americans are with you, praying for your safety.

Second of all: WTF?

Two Asian men slam a burning car into a building, causing a lot of panic but no injuries or deaths–except their own. Two car bombs in London fizzle out worse than a soggy Fourth of July firecracker.

Does this sound like the highly-precisioned, destructive attacks we’ve come to associate with Al Qaeda? This sounds like a slightly more competent group than the crackpots who wanted to take out the Brooklyn Bridge with a bunch of Bic lighters. It’s all extremely puzzling.

I have some questions:

1 – How impressive that within hours of the attacks, British counterterrorism officials had made five arrests. How many 9/11 planners do we have in custody? Where’s Osama? Just wondering.

2 – To Homeland Security’s Peter King, who favors racial profiling at airports: the Glasgow attackers were Asian. “Shoe bomber” Richard Reid was half-Jamaican, half-white. Australian Gitmo detainee David Hicks is white. This is why profiling “Middle Eastern” looking people doesn’t work. There is no Muslim body type. I know it would make things easier for you if you could make all Muslims sew a yellow crescent on their clothing, but we really don’t want to go down that road, do we?

3- To the media, especially you folks at Fox News, why are you ignoring all of the good news out of the U.K. today? Don’t you think you’re emboldening the terrorists? No?

4- I thought we were fighting them “over there” so we don’t have to fight them “over here”? You mean fly paper doesn’t work? I guess that explains why they invented DDT.

5- To the chest-thumping wingnuts who blather on about “nuking ‘em all,” please be more specific with your target. The Islamic world encompasses large parts of the globe. Unless you want to nuke a third of the African continent, the entire Middle East, and large portions of Southeast Asia, and deal with the subsequent fallout from that action, please STFU.

I realize fear is the media’s stock and trade, but I long ago decided to boycott fear. I’m just saying no. I’m going to have to trust that the people who are responsible for keeping us safe are going to do their jobs. This is a tremendous leap of faith, considering the incompetence of the Bush Administration, but there really is no alternative.

It sure beats being scared all the time.

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Filed under terrorism, UK