We’re having a very slow weekend for news. Ol’ Hambo has so little to write about that he’s re-cycling a clunker from five years ago that one of his speakers wrote, titled Does It Matter Where Cain Got His Wife? We ignored it when it first appeared, and we don’t have much to say about it now.
The subject of Cain’s wife really fascinates Hambo, because he wrote his own post about it a year ago, and that’s when we wrote Where the *BLEEP* Did Cain’s Wife Come From? Anyway, the subject is back on Hambo’s website once again.
Elsewhere on the internet, there’s even less going on, so once again we have to entertain ourselves. Therefore, we’re declaring another Intellectual Free Fire Zone. Are you happy with the political situation in America? Tell us about it. Or maybe you think Biden is the biggest idiot in the universe. If so, tell us about that.
Use the comments for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.
We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it!
Copyright © 2022. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.
Biden the biggest idiot in the universe? Really? Consider the competition!
I’m stil interested in the example of design, the James Webb Space Telescope.
Biden as president is absolute bliss compared to the previous four years.
I’m glad Trump decided he likes vaccines. He always liked them, so at least he can be honest about it now. Too bad the wingnuts only like things if they are lies.
We know, from recent experience, that he’s not the biggest liar in the universe.
The reviews on Trump’s speech Saturday is it was a lame collection of greatest hits. Hambo seems to be using the same playbook. Sooner or later it becomes obvious to even the fans. Even CS sounds bored with Hambo.
Having a smaller infestation of Creationists than the USA, here in the UK our attention is inevitably focused on the continuing train wreck that is Brexit. The final phase of the ‘transition’ officially ended on 1 January of this year—though of course ‘negotiations’ continue to resolve outstanding problems that are virtually insoluble by our present Tory government, cf. Northern Ireland. But at least the extent of the damage can be more accurately gauged now:
One in three UK business owners fear their company won’t exist anymore in a year as Brexit onslaught intensifies [17 Jan 2022]
But surely, it’s the pandemic to blame? Er, no: How Brexit and the pandemic changed UK trade in 4 charts
Strict new Brexit transport rules make UK businesses ‘give up’ on EU imports: ‘Simply not worth the hassle’
Post-Brexit scheme to lure Nobel winners to UK fails to attract single applicant
But there is an upside to Brexit—but not, alas, for the UK: UK exports to EU may drop by another 8 per cent as Finland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Greece benefit from Brexit
…Well, no need to continue on this: anyone wanting more need only Google ‘Brexit news’.
The Brexit referendum was won by a set of serial liars who currently form the government—but they have now rather fallen out of favour and are about as reputable as the Duke of York. As indeed has Brexit has fallen out of the very slim favour it ever had since the time of that referendum:
In hindsight, do you think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave the European Union?
The EU transition period ended on Dec 31st 2020. Since then, do you think Brexit has gone well or badly?
One year on, most voters say Brexit has gone badly
Next general election here is not until 2024, though at the moment it looks like Boris Johnson may be ousted by his own party before that time. Which will do nothing to begin the lengthy task of repairing the self-inflicted damage from Brexit; that will likely need more than one election cycle.
@ Our Curmudgeon: my post is awaiting moderation, though I can see it — and the initial link is faulty (but well within the powers of the Great Hand of Correction to fix, if that Benevolent Being would be so kind!)
Cain’s wife…no problem for evilution. For the Big Book of BS fairy Tales, well it is most likely a goat, where do you think Pan came from?
If you read the first chapters of Genesis without adding the story that everyone has been told. For example, there seems to be some strangers who Cain is going to live among.
TomS … According to the Big Book of BS fairy Tales A&E with their kids where the first, so where id ‘strangers’ come from??? He must have a bunch of sisters & brothers not mentioned. Or maybe he hooked up with Lilith, she was Adam’s 1st wife!
@L Long where does it say that A&E and their kids were the first? Or maybe there was a second pair that we aren’t told about?
Megalonyx: Sorry about your delayed comment. This new software makes things very difficult.
@Megalonyx: Thank you for the long explanation of the Brixit scrum. As a resident of a country recently the victim of a similarly ignorant leader, I sympathize. Oh, and I recently read that one of our elected leaders was ranting about how the government was deliberately scaring people with Covid testing, because you can’t test for something you can’t see. I think we should have a rule that no elected official could take office if they couldn’t pass a high school biology test.
Something that always baffled me about Brexit, how is a referendum with such serious consequences passed with a mere majority? Not only that passing it as a referendum rather than through parliament? What would stop them from doing another referendum to go back?
I have also entered a comment, in what I regard as moderate language, on the above issue. which is being held for moderation. I suspect that the coined word for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU is alone enough to trigger the filter.
There is not and never has been any provision whatsoever for Referenda in the British Constitution, and therefore they cannot be legally binding. They are nothing more than opinion polls commissioned by the government, and in modern times there have only been three (for a summary of history and status see Wikipedia on Referenda in the UK.
What follows is a cautionary tale on how an extreme political fringe can manipulate democratic systems to achieve its damaging agenda. If you live somewhere in which you believe ‘It can’t happen here,’ take note!
Britain joined the EEC (precursor of the EU) in 1973; this was after several previous applications to join (which had been vetoed by France), and was in accordance with the election promises of the then Tory government under Ted Heath. This is the standard process of British legislation.
There has long been a small political grouping opposed to UK membership in the EU. Ironically, this was originally a grouping chiefly of the far left, who believed (rightly, IMHO) that the EU was a bulwark of free market capitalism and that membership thereof would prevent the far-left’s agenda of building ‘socialism’ in the UK: specifically, that conforming to EU competition rules curtailed the ability of the UK government to take private companies into public ownership. They also feared (wrongly, as it has turned out) that EU membership would dilute worker protection, environmental, and product standards. There was also, on the far right of the political spectrum, a fringe of hyper-nationalists and xenophobes, who are ever with us.
In the 1974 general election, Harold Wilson led his Labour party to victory. Although he and the majority of his MP’s favoured European membership, he kept his left-wing fringe on board by including in his election manifesto a promise to hold a ‘consultative referendum’ (a first for the UK in modern times) on whether or not to continue European membership. The referendum was duly held, with all three main parties backing the Remain option, and the result was 67% Remain, 32% Leave.
Which put the matter to rest, at least as far as the Labour left was concerned. And the UK, which had been Europe’s basket case in the 1970’s, begin to instead prosper, in large measure thanks to its participation in a single market with its biggest trading partners which thereby eliminated tariffs, huge swathes of red tape, and ensured free movement of goods, services, and people.
But the far-right nationalist fringe grumbled on, as is their wont; a thorn in the side of the Tory party but having little direct impact on national politics. But that changed following the 2008 global financial crisis and the years of austerity that ensued. Labour lost the 2010 general election, which resulted in a hung parliament, that is, no one party having a majority of seats (326) in the House of Commons: Conservatives 306, Labour 258, Lib-Dems 57. So the Conservatives and Lib-Dems formed a coalition government, their combined 363 seats providing a working majority.
It was not a match made in heaven (the ideological gulf between the partners was huge), nor were they the best of times as the impact of the 2008 financial crash and continuing austerity meant prolonged freeze or even some decline in growth, wages, and employment—all factors ripe for exploitation by the far-right, of which the chief exponent was Nigel Farage’s populist UK Independence Party (UKIP), which consistently blamed the EU for all of the UK’s ills. And UKIP enjoyed some electoral success in some areas in local council elections, though they only ever won a single parliamentary seat. In Scotland, the SNP also grew in popularity (it had previously been a Labour stronghold), though they lost the local referendum there in 2014 on Scottish independence, and have consistently advocated that an independent Scotland would remain (or as now, re-join) the EU—but that’s a whole other story.
In any event, the 2015 UK general election presented an interesting spectacle whereby the two parties that had been governing in coalition would now be once again competing against one another for votes. PM Cameron, needing to woo back that part of his right-wing defecting to Farage’s UKIP, borrowed from Harold Wilson’s 1975 playbook and promised a referendum on EU membership if his Conservatives won the election. This stratagem successfully neutralised UKIP and also secured the Tories a parliamentary majority; the Lib Dems lost over half their seats. This, Cameron later admitted, was contrary to his own expectations: he had been confident that the Tories would not have been able to win an outright majority but would again be obliged to form a coalition with the Lib-Dems, and a condition for such a coalition would be dropping the campaign promise to hold a referendum on the EU.
But Tories now had to deliver on their election promise and deliver a referendum on EU membership, which they duly did in 2016. As there is no constitutional basis nor restraints on referenda, the government could have stipulated whatever conditions it wished, e.g., a two-thirds majority would be required. But no, Cameron (who had no desire to leave the EU) was so confident the whole exercise would be a simple rerun of the 1975 referendum, with the same result, and all for the sole purpose of neutralising the disruptive far right wing that was undermining the Tories.
[Let’s just pause for a brief moment here to remind ourselves how legitimate political programmes are carried out and implemented in the UK. A political party, while in opposition and during election campaigns, specifies a programme laid out in a detailed manifesto which it commits to implement via legislation if it secures a parliamentary majority (that is, forms the government) with which to do so. This is precisely what UKIP had been doing for years—and which had only ever, as I said, won them a single seat in parliament; that is the very definition of fringe. UKIP utterly failed to achieve its aims by the democratic parliamentary process of this country.]
The referendum campaign (again, with all three major parties backing Remain) unfolded in a very different political landscape than that of 1975. I have previously detailed, on earlier IFFZ’s on this blog, the numerous contradictions and outright falsehoods promulgated by the Leave camp and won’t belabour all that again; it is sufficient to recall that a number of prominent Brexiteers specifically claimed that leaving the EU did not mean leaving the single market or the customs union! And what, one must wonder, ever happened to the phantom EU Army that was claimed? All shameless lies—but hey, that’s populist politics for you! Trump, Putin, and even the Discovery Institute were among the Leave’s campaign cheerleaders!
So what did the 2016 referendum deliver? A slim majority (51.8% vs 48.1%) for the “Leave the European Union”, an option for which there was no agreed meaning, leave alone a plan or a government willing to implement such a plan had there been one (Cameron resigned days after the referendum). IOW: an absolute political shambles.
Legally, all that was required to ‘leave the EU’ was for the UK Parliament to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty, and 12 months later the UK would be entirely divorced from the EU, a third country with relations to the EU no different from Burkina Faso or Guatemala. That would have been an absolute cliff edge, with no provision in place for exchange of goods and services with our biggest trading partner—and, incidentally, re-imposing a hard border (in contravention of the international Belfast Agreement Treaty of 1999). Fortunately that was (narrowly) avoided. Instead, we had years of wrangling and political instability as successive governments have tried to figure out what Brexit actually means—which has been an exercise, still ongoing, on how to square the circle.
So we have the unhappy fudge of the moment, with the UK still threatening to disregard the NI Protocol that it had itself agreed at the end of 2019. The most conservative estimate I can find shows that Brexit has shaved 4% off our GDP for the foreseeable future, but that hardly begins to describe the long-term damage of this self-inflicted wound.
But there is always an upside! We can now have blue rather than burgundy coloured passports—except, as it happens, we could have always had blue passports as members of the EU. And we can re-introduce imperial rather than metric measurements—except, no one under the age of 45 knows what an ounce is rather than a gram. And to spend more than 90 days in the EU at a stretch, we get to apply for visas! Not to mention, we are spared the horrors of having the opportunity of working in the EU!
But for a comprehensive list of the wonderful benefits of post-Brexit Britain, let’s hear them from Boris Johnson himself: Brexit: Did the EU ban crown marks on pint glasses?