The Phileas Club 125 – Deep Fried Phileas Club

On this episode we talk about:

  • Scottland/UK: Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit
  • US: No collusion!!
  • France: more Gilets Jaunes stuff
  • Bonus: Universal Basic Income
  • And more!

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  1. Matthias Keller says:

    I have to say I’m amazed at how calm and rational Bruce talked about this completely absurd real life satire simply dubbed “Brexit” and the impending doom this might bring for a lot of British citizens. It is getting so absurd even comedians are finding it hard to make jokes about it anymore. And whenever I hear the notification sound of the news app on my phone these days the first thing I think is: “What did London do now…?”. But I guess it all fits in these strange times we currently live in.

    While I applaud Bruce’s optimism and hopes for a better society, he forgot one thing when he mentioned his visions: Before we get to first contact and the “ideal” world of Star Trek we have to go through World War III first. But according to cannon we still have 7 years left until then. And we can also look forward to the Irish unification of 2024. Maybe they even predicted Brexit without knowing about it when they wrote the script almost 30 years ago… 😀

    Anyway, I wanted to add some details about the “accidentally falsely cast votes” during the copyright reform session in the EU parliament. There were indeed a rather large number of MEPs that changed their votes after the fact. While this would not have mattered for the final approval of the reform, which ended 348/274 in favor of the proposal, it would have allowed the previous vote on individual amendments (like the proposal to delete Article 13) to pass. This vote ended 312/317 (so it was lost by 5 votes) and 10 MEPs changed their vote to “yes” after the fact (while two changed to “no” and one to “abstain”). While this would not have guaranteed, that the controversial articles 11, 12 and 13 would have been stricken, it would have at least had a chance. And judging by the votes there were still a lot of concerns left.

    In the aftermath there were a lot of discussions why so many MEPs chose the wrong buttons during the vote and there are a lot of plausible explanations. Some claim that there was a lot of confusion during the vote and that some simply misunderstood which way they were voting (which is apparently not that uncommon in the European Parliament because the subjects are often highly complicated and votes are often changed after the fact). Unfortunately these changes after the fact do not have any effect on the outcome, because the change is only for the protocol. And this has sparked another explanation (which might admittedly be a bit in the realm of conspiracy theories, but it doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable): Maybe they changed their votes after the fact so they can go back to their constituents and say “See, the protocol says I voted against this” while still making sure it passed for the lobbyists. And considering the amount of protests and pressure there was on the MEPs in some countries, it doesn’t sound completely unreasonable. But again, it doesn’t change things and we now have to face the consequences. That is unless there is a miracle and the German government changes their vote in the final council meeting and prevents this from becoming law. But unfortunately this is highly unlikely…

    And as Patrick mentioned there are a lot of problematic things involved with this reform. But we can take solace in the fact, that no matter how dumb this whole thing is, it’s still not as dumb as Brexit. 😛

    • patrick says:

      I won’t comment on Brexit, it’s just too depressing a story… 🙂
      But on the EU votes, I really think it’s being overblown as a “potential cancellation” for the offending articles, when really it would just have forced the parliament to vote on them, and as they are the key parts of the whole directive which largely passed, I don’t see how there would have been any possibility at all for them to be rejected. I like fantasy as much as the next guy, and that scenario is pure fiction. Still, I understand the issue with voting being confusing (if it is, it’s definitely something that should be addressed), and I kind of like your conspiracy theory; it does sound almost plausible indeed!

      Also, as I said on Twitter, your last paragraphe is now my moto for considering anything terrible that is happening… 😀

      • Matthias Keller says:

        I’m glad I could give you a new motto in these… interesting times. Maybe you should also add the good old “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity” for good measure 😉

        It sure is moot to discuss what might have been, if the first vote in question would have been won (especially since we don’t know what possible amendments there would have been). But I think it is fair to say that the close result shows that there would have been a need for more discussion.

        Meanwhile, we know that the council will vote on the final version in the Agriculture and Fisheries configuration, which means that our Minister for Food and Agriculture (Julia Klöckner, CDU) will have to approve it. So there goes the last chance for a miracle. The German government will vote for the reform even if they themselves wrote in their coalition treaty, that they don’t want any upload filters.

        And while our politicians here in Germany are unwilling to hear the millions of people protesting all over Europe, the Swedish government seems to listen. Because they are now planning to vote against the reform in the upcoming council session. That is still not enough to reject the proposal (because of the special voting system within the council), but it is a step in the right direction. Go Sweden!

        But all of this highlights another interesting issue (especially in the context of the Phileas Club): The perception and the media coverage of European politics and issues on a European level.

        There are hundreds of thousands taking to the street in Austria, Germany and Poland and there is a downright war fought in the media and by/against politicians over here. Meanwhile, the general acceptance for this reform seems much higher in countries like France (or at least that is what I heard in a radio feature from a journalist from France). Still the media and the public in some other countries didn’t really know about the issue either way. I remember asking you as well as Marleen and Bart if this topic was even an issue in your respective countries media and you all said that it wasn’t. Even though a lot of important topics and regulations are now being decided in Brussels and Strasbourg, the Media and their coverage are still very nation-centric (with only a few exceptions) and we lack an overarching media landscape (apart from some small exceptions) and a general public in Europe. That is definitely something that has to change, if the EU wants to succeed. And yes, I know that this is not a new realization, but is again becoming very apparent to me at the moment.

  2. Bill Burd says:

    Phileas Club 125 is another great episode. Very engaging, but unfortunately not sexy :-). Tony absolutely nailed it when he compared Brexit to Texas post-election sour grapes. It reminded me of what I heard from a coworker a while back: “I always knew they were building that fence of the wrong side of Texas.”

    Regarding your search for reasonable conservatives: the fault line is Donald Trump.

    Reduced to the utmost simplicity, there are only two groups of people in the USA at present. One group sees Trump as an amoral, dishonest, ignorant, mentally unbalanced, racist misogynist, and is appalled. The other group sees Trump as an amoral, dishonest, ignorant, mentally unbalanced, racist misogynist, and is largely untroubled.

    Nobody has any illusions any more. It’s all about how one reacts to widely agreed-upon facts. People who like some of what Trump provides (filling the federal courts with right-wing judges, cutting taxes for the wealthy, reducing regulations protecting the environment, the economy, and minority and LGBT rights, removing millions of people from health insurance, creating chaos at the southern border or in international trade, weakening international institutions, or simply “owning the libtards”) are likely to be less Trump-averse than the general population.

    I expect you will not be happy with the commentary of conservative Trump supporters.

    Here are a few conservatives worth your time.

    Jennifer Rubin, who writes the Right Turn column for The Washington Post.

    David Frum, of The Atlantic magazine. This article has me examining my own opinions on immigration.

    Max Boot has left not just Trump, but the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

    Also see Steve Schmidt (worked on John McCain’s last presidential campaign) and Matthew Dowd (Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign).

    On another subject, it’s really not “proven” that raising the minimum wage destroys jobs (as suggested by Economics 101). Or, rather, it’s been both proven and disproven, depending on the studies you examine. Here’s a review.

    I wonder whether the differing results might be related to economic conditions where the wage hike takes place. Maybe in places where the economy is strong, the impact on business is small, and/or can be absorbed or passed on to consumers, and in places with weaker economies, the consequences can be more severe, with the expected job losses. Just a thought.

    Thanks also to Bruce for his discussion of Brexit. Even (especially?) if there is no second vote on Brexit, Bruce seems to expect a second vote on Scottish secession, with a different result this time, followed by Scotland joining the EU. This seems plausible to me. But I’m intrigued by what might follow that. Caravans of English people heading north to the Scotland? Construction of a wall on Scotland’s southern border? Nicola Sturgeon demonizing the would-be immigrants? The mind boggles.

    • patrick says:

      Thanks for your comment Bill. I think this is a perfect summary of the way people regard Trump:

      > Reduced to the utmost simplicity, there are only two groups of people in the USA at present. One group sees Trump as an amoral, dishonest, ignorant, mentally unbalanced, racist misogynist, and is appalled. The other group sees Trump as an amoral, dishonest, ignorant, mentally unbalanced, racist misogynist, and is largely untroubled.

      I never considered it quite like this, but I think you’re right…

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