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Messages - xasop

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If the British wanted Johnson out ... they simply could have all voted Labour in the last election. He wouldn't have a majority and wouldn't be Prime minister.
What should they have done if they wanted him out in July 2019, 4 months before the last election took place? If he is so accountable to the electorate, how did he become prime minister with no election at all?

Who do you voted for, if you don't want Von Der Leyen in charge?
The same way voters influence the executive in every Westminster system around the world, including the British one. Vote for any party or independent belonging to any EP group that is not EPP Group, of which Ursula von der Leyen is a member. That group currently has the most seats in the EP, which is why their candidate for President of the EC got elected. You did bother to learn how this works before you decided how much you hate the EU, right?

Erm ... many countries run a two house system. Examples that jump instantly to mind are the USA, Germany and Australia!
How convenient that you have skimmed over the word "unelected" in my post. You might want to see an optometrist about that.

Please name another country that has contributed anywhere near as much to Western democracy ... so I can shake my 'fixation'.
Greece, France and the United States come to mind.

Because you won't concede that Boris Johnson can be voted out by his constituents
I don't need to "concede" that, because it's not relevant. Boris Johnson's constituents make up 0.15% of voters in the United Kingdom.

but that no one ever in any European election ever voted for Ursula Von Der Leyen.
Just as 99.85% of British registered voters did not have the opportunity to vote either for or against Boris Johnson in 2019. If 499 out of every 500 British voters wanted Boris out of Parliament, they could not do a thing about it. Is that what you mean by "accountable to the electorate"?

The English created the blueprint. Everyone else copied that. Maybe you don't know what mimicking means?
Most people who adopted the system have made changes of their own, usually for the better. That's why most modern democracies don't feature an unelected House of Lords. Your fixation on one of the many contributing nations to Western democracy is, frankly, ridiculous.

Can you decide you don't like Ursula Von der Leyen and vote in someone new?
No, Thork, that's not how a conversation works. We were just talking about this, remember? You can't just ignore what I said, wait a day or two, and then make the same point I already replied to.

The US constitution is based on the magna carta. So the US based its model on ... surprise surprise ... the nation from which the founding fathers had come from.
It's true that the English helped spread what we now recognise as Western democracy around the world, but that's not the same thing as every democracy mimicking the English.

Regarding things like law ... most nations including the UK inherit all their law from the Romans. Things like contract law and property rights for example is pure Rome in a bottle. But the Romans didn't do human rights. They'd happily feed you to a lion if you were becoming a problem. England gives you all your rights and privileges as a citizen such as the right to legal defence, innocent until proven guilty, the right to peacefully enjoy your own property, that kind of shit.

I've been exploring the European Parliament website some more. The MEP search lets you slice the 705 MEPs any which way you want — by country, by constituency (for countries with more than one), by political group or by membership in committees or delegations. Once you've found the MEPs you're interested in, you can see a list of all the speeches they've made in Parliament with a transcript and a video link. Very helpful when trying to decide whom to re-elect.

Also, there is the inaugural plenary of the Conference on the Future of Europe tomorrow morning at 08:55 CEST (Today at 06:55:00 AM your time, if your offset is correctly configured in the forum settings). I'll try to watch that, since it'll be my first chance to watch a plenary live.

The primary problem with the EU is that its structure heavily mimics the outdated and completely worthless UK parliamentary system (as do many other European nations).
What you're observing is not "mimicry" of the UK, but just how Western democracies work in general. As I pointed out in my OP, the EU is in some ways more similar to the US than to the UK, but that doesn't mean it's "mimicking" the US either.

The irony that the UK can't handle being part of a government that's nearly an exact replica of their own government because it's incompetent is completely lost on them.
As are many other ironies of Brexit, apparently.

??? These are examples of the EU deciding it wants to do something, people objecting to that democratically, and the EU ignoring that objection and repeatedly re-tabling the proposition until it passes.
No, that is not even close to an accurate description. They didn't ignore it, they made changes after discussing the reasons for its rejection with the representatives of the countries that rejected it. They didn't "repeatedly re-table" anything — in all cases, the amended treaty was passed with the second referendum. In case you are having difficulty counting, that is one re-tabling, even if you count tabling an amended proposal as a re-tabling.

I gave examples of when the EU didn't get its way and how it reacted. In every example, it acts like a tyranny.
No, that is not what you did. I provided a rebuttal to all your examples except one, which I conceded, so your score stands at one valid example. You cannot just count yourself a victory regardless of whether you have convinced your debate partner of your point of view; that is not how debates work.

Are you expecting me to list all examples of the EU not getting its way and it behaving badly because I'd be here for the rest of my life tapping out that post. It happens hundreds of times every single week. I just went for some of the more high profile examples.
Well, feel free to provide one more. It would raise your success rate by 100%.

All nations are supposed to possess the power of veto. But if they exercise it ... they are hit with legal action by a court biased of course to the EC and then they lose their voting rights.
You seem to be quite confused. The article you linked says nothing about a veto. According to the European Parliament website, MEPs only have a veto regarding "delegated acts", which doesn't apply to this situation.

Furthermore, in case you missed it the first time I pointed it out, this action was taken by the EP, not the EC. In fact, the article you linked says that "[t]oday’s ruling once again proves that the European parliament was right to overcome the European Commission’s inaction". Have you read your own source?

Republic of Ireland neverendums on the Nice treaty and Ireland again on the Lisbon treaty, Denmark on the Maastricht treaty ...
Those are all examples of objections being raised and adjustments being made accordingly. Are you offended by the idea of talking through disagreements and coming to a solution? If so, I may be starting to understand why you don't like the EU.

Greece comply or die with the troika ...
I can agree that that was handled less than ideally, but that's not what I asked you. Your claim was about all of the EU's goals, not a few isolated examples.

Oh and if you veto something they can also threaten you with the ECJ and take your voting rights off you ... and by extension your people.
This article is about the EP voting to do something you don't like. You were just talking about how powerless the EP is. Would you care to explain the apparent contradiction?

You can literally read all of Johnson's text messages in the news today if you like. He thinks the health secretary is hopeless. I'm inclined to agree.
I didn't ask you about Johnson's text messages, I asked you about his cabinet meetings.

You will vote for this MEP ... who has zero power to change anything. Unlike the British House of Commons, which you uncharitably compared the EP to, MEPs are not allowed to propose legislation.

The European Commission proposes the legislation. You can't vote for them, you can't vote them out.
The EP votes on the appointment of the EC. You are correct that I can't vote for who goes into the EC, just the same as you cannot vote for who Boris Johnson appoints Minister for Administrative Affairs. Most modern democracies do not feature direct election of the executive, but we don't call them dictatorships for it.

Imagine everyone in Europe wanted to legalise medical cannabis. Doesn't matter. If the EC never proposes it, it can never be voted on. So it will never happen, no matter which MEP you vote for. The MEPs can't propose it. You can only ever say no to something.
That's not really true. They can't propose legislation, but they can propose amendments. Their options are not simply "yes" and "no".

And if you do, they'll just ask you again ... and again ... until you vote the right way. All goals of the EU are an inevitable function of time. It just keeps asking in lots of different ways until you either make a misstep, are worn down, or you are financially compelled using weapons such as the ECB and the Troika to threaten you into compliance.
Do you have a citation for this sweeping generalisation?

False. The EC is formed by a system of horse trading between member states and some might trade a concession on a say in who is elected, in exchange for improved fishing rights or a lucrative pharmaceutical contract. It is as bent as an indirect democratic system can be.
The composition of the EC is proposed by member states, not formed. It is not formed until the EP votes to approve the proposal.

However, EC meetings cannot be watched online. The very meetings where all the important decisions are made are done so behind closed doors. Not even elected MEPs are allowed into these meetings or to even see the minutes of those meetings.
The same is true of every democracy I'm aware of, including your own. When was the last time you watched a meeting of the Johnson Cabinet?

Philosophy, Religion & Society / The workings of European democracy
« on: June 17, 2021, 08:14:14 PM »
I've never looked very deeply into the workings of the EU, as someone who is ineligible to vote in European elections. The system of numerous institutions spread across three different cities always seemed a bit daunting. However, I am almost certainly going to be eligible to vote in 2024, so I decided it is time to educate myself so I can decide who to vote for in a few years.

For those of you who are not European, and our British residents who still do not understand what they opted out of, I will provide a brief summary here. The EU is composed of seven institutions; of these, this discussion will be limited to the four that comprise the legislature and executive, as these are the ones voters can most directly influence. The other three — the judiciary, the central bank and the auditing body — are a topic for another time.

Despite much propaganda thrown around regarding the supposedly undemocratic nature of the EU, it strongly resembles most Western democracies in its structure. Where appropriate, comparisons will be drawn between EU institutions and the institutions of other democracies.
  • The European Parliament (EP) is comparable to the lower houses of many bicameral parliaments around the world, such as the House of Commons in the UK, or the House of Representatives in the USA. It is elected directly by eligible voters in each member state, although the exact criteria for voting eligibility vary by state, with an election held every 5 years. As the only institution directly elected by the people, this will be discussed in more detail below.
  • The European Council (EUCO) and the Council of the European Union (Council) are, taken together, somewhat analogous to the upper houses of many parliaments, such as the Senate in the Netherlands or (somewhat more loosely) the USA. (A comparison with the House of Lords in the UK would be too strained, given how undemocratic the British system is.) The purposes of these institutions are to represent member states, rather than representing the people directly. The EUCO is comprised of the heads of government of each member state, and the Council rotates its membership according to the topic under consideration — for example, when the Council is convened on environmental issues, it will be composed of the Ministers for the Environment of each member state.
  • The European Commission (EC) is the executive of the EU. It consists of 27 members, one from each member state, who are appointed through a process involving both the EUCO and the EP. One difference between the EC and the executives of most other democracies is that the EC need not be elected from within the ranks of the EP, but since the EC cannot be formed without the approval of the EP and it relies on the EP's continued support to do its work, it is no less democratic. The current President of the European Commission, analogous to the prime minister in most democracies, is Ursula von der Leyen.
I will now go into some further detail on the EP, as this is the most directly relevant institution to voters. Rather than the familiar party-based approach, the EP is organised into groups, which are groups of members (MEPs) with similar ideologies. This arrangement, as opposed to organising MEPs by the state they represent, facilitates cooperation between the representatives of different member states with similar political views. Generally, each group will be composed of the elected representatives of ideologically related European political parties, although there are exceptions where different members of a party have joined with different groups. European parties, in turn, are formed from cooperation between national parties of member states with similar ideologies.

This idea may be easier to grasp with an example. The largest group in the current EP is the European People's Party Group (EPP Group), made up of the eponymous European People's Party (EPP), along with some representatives from the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM). In turn, the EPP is made up of various national parties, including:
  • Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU) in Germany,
  • Partido Popular (PP) in Spain,
  • Platforma Obywatelska (PO) in Poland,
  • Νέα Δημοκρατία (ND) in Greece,
  • Fine Gael (FG) in Ireland, and
  • Christen-Democratisch Appèl (CDA) in the Netherlands, among many others.
So, if a German voter were to cast a vote for the CDU in an EP election, that would translate into a vote for the EPP, and their representative would ultimately sit as part of the EPP Group. Groups in the EP will generally have a leader who speaks for them in plenary sessions, as in this session from last year, where each group presents its response to President von der Leyen's proposed funding to recover from the pandemic.

This system results in some odd incongruences. For instance, I would not support either of the major parties (Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael) in Irish national elections (assuming that I were eligible to vote), but so far I like the Renew Europe (Renew) group, in which Fianna Fáil participates. Conversely, I like some of Partij voor de Dieren's positions in the Netherlands, but they have chosen to align themselves with the group The Left in the European Parliament (GUE/NGL), which is too left-wing for my taste, so I would not vote for them in a European election.

In order to facilitate clear communication between people of differing backgrounds, and to minimise the misunderstandings that come with language barriers, MEPs are permitted to speak in any of the EU's 24 official languages. A team of expert interpreters translates all statements into 23 of these in real time (Irish is presently excluded due to the difficulty in finding qualified interpreters), so that all MEPs can understand each other, and all European citizens can understand each session. EP sessions are available to watch, live or recorded, online in any of the 23 EU languages other than Irish.

This is all fairly new to me and I am still getting a handle on how it all fits together, but this is as good a summary as I can give of what I have encountered so far. As for the reason I began looking into this, my own views seem to fit somewhere in between the groups Renew and Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA), and the EP sessions I have watched so far seem to confirm this. I'm going to keep watching EP sessions and try to get to know the system a bit better so I can make an informed choice in a few years.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 15, 2021, 09:59:05 PM »
The Tánaiste has an interesting proposal.

“Our vision should be different. It should be one that has the best chance of carrying the greatest number of people with us, North and South.

“It should appeal in particular to that middle ground I spoke about earlier, to gain the support of people who identify as both British and Irish.

“So, unification must not be the annexation of Northern Ireland.

“It means something more, a new state designed together, a new constitution and one that reflects the diversity of a bi-national or multi-national state in which almost a million people are British.

“Like the New South Africa, a rainbow nation, not just orange and green.”

I have some reservations — the comparison to South Africa seems ill thought out, and the orange in "orange and green" represents the British in Ireland, so that is already a symbol of this kind of unity — but I can get behind the point he's trying to make. Hopefully it's not just hot air like Boris's speeches.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 14, 2021, 11:17:17 AM »
British trade and the G7 I am interested in. Northern Ireland ... don't care. You changed the subject. You made the thread interesting again.

You're the one who is veering off topic, which I would like you to stop doing. I was talking about Boris's comments on Northern Ireland specifically. You can read the thread title if that confuses you.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 14, 2021, 11:13:40 AM »
Stop picking the wrong side.

What happened to not being interested in this thread? I'm not going to let you waste any more of my time until you answer my previous question, otherwise you're just going to vanish again next time the discussion gets too uncomfortable for you.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: June 13, 2021, 03:42:55 PM »
Boris Johnson continues to be all flash, no photo.

But pushed further by reporters about the French president's alleged remarks, Mr Johnson said he and the rest of the government "make the point continuously that we are all part of one great indivisible United Kingdom".

Considering his government is the one who has divided the United Kingdom, this lip service from Boris is frankly more offensive than anything Macron said.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Coronavirus Vaccine and You
« on: June 11, 2021, 01:50:28 PM »
I received my invitation to book an appointment for vaccination today. Finally, this will all be over.

Update: I have made an appointment to be vaccinated. I'll have my second jab at the end of July.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trans athletes
« on: June 08, 2021, 04:09:39 PM »
Also, we're really over looking team sports here: low risk of injury (outside of American football) and based on team strength rather than individuals. I played on a mixed gender soccer team for a season and it was fine. I mean, our team was shit but that's because we had two guys who show-boated the entire time and never actually played as part of a team. Me and another guy even collided and went down but I didn't break any oh so fragile feminine bones under him or anything.
That may be the case most of the time, but given how biased public perception of gender-based violence is against men, I really wouldn't want to be the man who bumps into a woman and risks an accusation of assault. An accusation of being unreasonably physical from another man is far less damaging than an accusation from a woman. Until we fix that, I wouldn't be surprised if men don't want to be in mixed-gender teams with women they don't know well.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Trans athletes
« on: June 08, 2021, 02:18:18 PM »
Rather than argue about whether gender identity is valid, it may be more constructive to take it for granted and instead consider the goal of having separate sporting events for men and women. My understanding of the goal is that it gives women a fair chance to win events without competition from (on average) physically stronger men. That is, gender is not important per se, but rather the fact that half the population is not on a level playing field with the other half. If women were equal to men in physical strength, but brown-haired people were weaker than blonde-haired people, we would instead have sporting events segregated by hair colour.

If we accept, then, that gender is no more than an incidental part of the reason why we have women's sporting events, we can begin to consider what is significant. I can see a few options:
  • Abolish all gender segregation in sport and allow the best athletes, of any sex and gender, to win.
  • Establish some standard by which trans people can be medically certified as having transitioned to the point that they are of typical stature for their target sex, and hence permitted to participate in sport for that gender.
  • Base segregation in sport on sex at birth, and not gender, while acknowledging that these are now mixed-gender sporting events to accommodate trans people.
  • Abolish gender segregation in sport, but establish a tiered system where athletes compete against people of similar physical stature to them, regardless of sex or gender.
The first option would undoubtedly mean that men win most events, which would upset feminists and risk injury to women in contact sports, so it is not ideal. The second is extremely difficult to get right due to the fact that differences between the sexes are only broad averages, so whatever standard is chosen, it will do nothing to settle the controversy.

I therefore posit that the third and fourth options are the only workable ones. That is, we need a reform of gender-segregated sport. The question is whether to base the admission criteria on physical sex, or on some other means of classifying physical strength.

Technology & Information / Re: NFT my posts
« on: June 02, 2021, 08:29:23 AM »
I bid $1.
And it begins. I'd like a Lambo so dig deep guys.

I bid $1.01 CAD

I bid €1.02, on the condition that Thork accepts my payment in euros and doesn't require me to convert to any other currency.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 06:31:34 PM »
Honestly, we don't give a fuck about Northern Ireland. They chose to stay. We've been paying for them ever since. They contribute nothing.

Yes, you keep very loudly proclaiming how hard you don't give a fuck.

No, Brexit is just the cancellation of a trade deal. A bad trade deal. That is not grounds for sedition.

Please stop calling the EU a "trade deal". That is not even remotely close to what it is, and I suspect you know that. You are only making yourself look ridiculous.

Tell me, what is the difference between parts of Ireland disagreeing on whether to remain part of the UK, and parts of the UK disagreeing on whether to remain part of the EU?

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 06:18:16 PM »
That's not like voting to leave the union. That was voting on a trade deal with the EU.

No, it was voting on EU membership. Do you actually understand what Brexit is yet?

If people want to leave, they can leave.

I assume you mean to say they can leave after they start a war of independence and you commit a few crimes against humanity to spite them for it.

But they can't vote over and over on it until the result changes. Have a vote, respect the vote. But having political differences of opinion is not grounds for leaving every single time it happens. That way madness lies.

Losing EU membership was one of the primary arguments against Scottish independence in the last referendum. It is not a "political difference of opinion", it is a radical change to the context of the question that was posed.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Re: Irish reunification
« on: May 31, 2021, 05:23:07 PM »
So we never chopped Ireland in half. We left the half that wanted to leave leave, and let the half that wanted to stay stay.

That's weird. I could have sworn you said something just a bit earlier to the effect of

We don't just shatter the nation to bits every time parts of it vote another way. Democracy means we agree to the majority vote and we live with it.

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