This has become a suicide pact. The UK had a great arrangement with the EU. They helped write the terms of the trade zone. They got to keep their own currency and manage their own immigration and visa system. The UK was a unique, powerful member of the Eurozone.. Now they are going to trigger an economic disaster, as well as lose Northern Ireland and Scotland. Simple as that. The Union is about to be broken, and they caused it themselves. And this Eton-Oxford elitist (who intentionally acts like a buffoon to disarm the UKs normally aggressive press) will go down in history as the man who killed-off the UK.
There's a revolution happening in Ireland, one of the last progressive nations left on earth. Ireland is coming together, while the UK is being torn apart.
After a century of relative stability following a Civil War, the Republic of Ireland is asking some big questions and making some big decisions. Same sex marriage is now legal. Divorce has now been legal for 23 years. And the Republic has taken the first step to legalize abortion for any reason a woman chooses.
This is a nation that has been closely aligned with the Vatican for centuries. A nation that served as a Catholic foil to England's Anglican patriarchy. A nation that, if the legend is to be believed, preserved Western European civilization during the Dark Ages.
But a new generation of Irish citizens do not fear the Vatican. They learned from their parents that upholding human rights is a cornerstone of Irish society. This nation of just 6 million people advocates for human rights from Yemen to Gaza to Syria to Burma and even the USA. And a disproportionate number of Irish people are members of Amnesty International. It was celebrity Irish Amnesty International members like Bono and Sinéad O'Connor who got me into human rights advocacy in high school. Watch sessions of the Irish parliament (Oireachtas Éireann) on YouTube or RTÉ and there's a good chance the term "human rights" will be spoken.
A fascinating awakening has occurred. Sometime between the late 1980s and today, the Irish people realized that they don't have to follow the Vatican in order to set a high standard for human rights. They are doing it themselves, in the secular sphere of diplomacy and trade. The latest generation of Irish adults are less religious than their parents. And slightly more of them speak the Irish language than the generation before them. We are witnessing an Irish awakening.
Which brings us to the elephant in the room - reunification. That process began with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. A lot of Irish Republicans feared that it would chill calls for reunification, and for a time it did. But just one generation later, the issue is in the spotlight again. The agreement allows citizens of Northern Ireland to easily apply for Irish dual citizenship. No one thought there would be a wave of Northern Irish applicants. Northern Ireland has better roads and infrastructure, some said, somewhat jokingly. Northern Ireland is just fine and stable, others said. But then in 2016, people began applying for Republic of Ireland passports in record numbers. This year, there have been 100,000 Republic of Ireland passports issued to citizens in the northern six counties. That's higher than the number of people who speak the Irish language daily in the Republic. It's a huge number, and it was set off by the 2016 UK European Union exit referendum ("Brexit").
And so the process to reunify has begun again. We didn't know it in 1998. We didn't know it in 2016. But it is happening now. It seems unavoidable. Even those who were once supporters of partition or the Ulster side.
Meanwhile, a hard UK exit from the EU appears likely. The Tories, in their downright bizarre quest to honor the misguided will of the people, have done nothing but destabilize themselves. Theresa May's government has been on the verge of collapse since June, and a hard Northern Ireland border with checkpoints appears likely, which would violate the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and accelerate the movement to unify Ireland. And on the UK side, an exit from the EU without terms in place would subject the nation to tariffs for just about everything, and would probably put an end to automobile manufacturing in the UK. Nissan, Land Rover, Toyota and others would move their manufacturing to the EU or China. Presumably, only Aston Martin would remain in the UK.
What the hell kept the Tories in power this long, two years after the disastrous EU exit referendum? There's no reason for a Tory government at Whitehall. Meanwhile, the Corbyn-led Labourites are in their predictable disarray. The whole British project, from the 1707 Act of Union, the installation of the House of Hanover in 1715, the creation of the United Kingdom and the mostly mythical Commonwealth, all look increasingly irrelevant, theatrical, even farcical. Let Scotland secede, the northern 6 counties finally reunite, and England and Wales do whatever the hell they think might work.
There's a weird but good line from Se7en (1995) when Detective Somerset asks Detective Mills:
"I wonder what exactly was the point of the conversation you were about to get into?"
I thought of that line when I saw Taoiseach Leo Varadkar publicly tell a story to Donald Trump in order to flatter the criminal, bigot president of the United States.
Fine Gael need to be voted out of power. Just what will it take to motivate the Irish to vote differently at the polls?
Splendidly, I see. When a minority party member delivers that much burn, you see just how outdated and terrible the DUP is. If anyone believes that Northern Ireland, in 2017, is "Britain," then he's really living in the past.
When the Conservative Party won the flash general election this past June, it was obvious that it will be difficult to form a stable government. The Tories, desperate to remain in power, had no choice but to let the Unionist tail wag the UK's dog. This deal with the backward Irish Orangemen promised to produce a hideous government in Westminster.
But as you might have seen today, the chances of that government holding together became more difficult. How a party looks can be just as important as how a party performs. That rule used to be true in the US, but it holds in the UK.
As you probably recall, back in the 1990's, peace was impossible in Northern Ireland because the British Tories were absolutely dependent on Ian Paisley's Unionist Party for their parliamentary majority. It was only when Labour won in 1997 that the Good Friday agreement became possible. Because Blair's government was not in need of Unionist votes, he could use Clinton's good offices to broker a deal in Belfast.
You may have heard back in June 2004 that an Irish journalist, Carol Coleman, was inturruptive and unfair to President Bush in an RTE interview held in the White House library. It was so unfair, in fact, it was never broadcast in the US. The transcript and video have been available on the Internet since June 2004. But it made its way to You Tube in November, 2006. And it is even better than it was originally described.
It is an incredible look at a man who is either brainwashed by his handlers or certifiably insane. This is George W. Bush at the peak of his arrogance, just months before his narrow reelection.
Watch it. Oh, and let the man finish, please. Finish away.
John Nichols: Pampered Bush meets a real reporter
By John Nichols
June 29, 2004
On the eve of his recent sojourn in Europe, President Bush had an unpleasant run-in with a species of creature he had not previously encountered often: a journalist.
He did not react well to the experience.
Bush's minders usually leave him in the gentle care of the White House press corps, which can be counted on to ask him tough questions about when his summer vacation starts.
Apparently under the mistaken assumption that reporters in the rest of the world are as ill-informed and pliable as the stenographers who "cover" the White House, Bush's aides scheduled a sit-down interview with Carole Coleman, Washington correspondent for RTE, the Irish public television network.
Coleman is a mainstream European journalist who has conducted interviews with top officials from a number of countries - her January interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell was apparently solid enough to merit posting on the State Department's Web site.
Unfortunately, it appears that Coleman failed to receive the memo informing reporters that they are supposed to treat this president with kid gloves. Instead, she confronted him as any serious journalist would a world leader.
She asked tough questions about the mounting death toll in Iraq, the failure of U.S. planning, and European opposition to the invasion and occupation. And when the president offered the sort of empty and listless "answers" that satisfy the White House press corps - at one point, he mumbled, "My job is to do my job" - she tried to get him focused by asking precise follow-up questions.
The president complained five times during the course of the interview about the pointed nature of Coleman's questions and follow-ups - "Please, please, please, for a minute, OK?" the hapless Bush pleaded at one point, as he demanded his questioner go easy on him.
After the interview was done, a Bush aide told the Irish Independent newspaper that the White House was concerned that Coleman had "overstepped the bounds of politeness."
As punishment, the White House canceled an exclusive interview that had been arranged for RTE with first lady Laura Bush.
Did Coleman step out of line? Of course not. Watch the interview (it's available on the www.rte.ie Web site) and you will see that Coleman was neither impolite nor inappropriate. She was merely treating Bush as European and Canadian journalists do prominent political players. In Western democracies such as Ireland, reporters and politicians understand that it is the job of journalists to hold leaders accountable.
The trouble is that accountability is not a concept that resonates with our president. The chief executive who gleefully declares that he does not read newspapers cannot begin to grasp the notion that journalists might have an important role to play in a democracy. And, if anything, the hands-off approach of the White House press corps has reinforced Bush's conceits.
Bush would be well served by tougher questioning from American journalists, especially those who work for the television networks. And it goes without saying that more and better journalism would be a healthy corrective for our ailing democracy.
Come to think of it, maybe one of the American networks should hire Carole Coleman and make her its White House correspondent. It would be Ireland's loss and America's gain.