One of the choicest paragraphs, from a choice review of Bill Clinton’s autobiography: “That somehow a long, dense book by the world’s premier policy wonk should be worth that much money is amusing, and brings us back to Clinton’s long coyote-and-roadrunner race with the press. The very press that wanted to discredit him and perhaps even run him out of town instead made him a celebrity, a far more expensive thing than a mere president. Clinton’s now up there with Madonna, in the highlands that are even above talent. In fact, he and Madonna may, just at the moment, be the only ones way up there, problems having arisen with so many lesser reputations.”
If the Times link has expired, try here.

Cross-Border Labor Unions?

This piece from the Washington Post may be old news to our readers, but it was a new idea – and more importantly – new practice to me.

With two like-minded unions, the clothing-and-laundry UNITE and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (soon to become one union, UNITE-HERE, next month), the SEIU is embarking on a campaign to organize such multi-service global companies as Sodexho, Aramark and Compass Group — corporations that provide food, laundry and janitorial services in ballparks, schools and hospital cafeterias, as well as in Iraq. Combined, the three companies employ 1.1 million people globally and 330,000 in the United States. Sodexho has 110,000 workers in the United States, and the three unions are putting up $10 million and 80 organizers and researchers to unionize it. But the battle won’t only be fought stateside. In conjunction with unions in Europe, says the SEIU’s Tom Woodruff, who is running the campaign, “We are working for agreements in more than one country.” The U.S. unions seek company-wide recognition, while unions in, say, Britain, want access to Sodexho’s list of workers.

Companies have been global a long time. Why have labor unions remained national?

Prescience (and uninformed speculation)

It seems that Doug’s informant was correct as a deal has been made and the new EU Consitution has been agreed, while any decision on the next Commission President has been deferred for a few weeks. Bertie Ahern is saying that he hopes it will be resolved by the end of the Irish Presidency, though.

Chris Patten, Jean-Claude Juncker and Guy Verhofstadt seem to have ruled themselves out of the running for the Presidency, with the remaining candidates seeming to be Ahern, Portuguese Commissioner Antonio Vitorino, outgoing European Parliament President Pat Cox and perennial multinational contender AN Other. I have no information to back this up other than a vague hunch, but I suspect that the search will finally end with Ahern ‘reluctantly’ leaving Dublin for Brussels.

Anyway, feel free to use this as an open thread for your thoughts on the Constitution and the Presidency.

Update: Bertie Ahern’s statement on the agreement can be found here and the agreement itself can be found here (PDF document)

That Was Quick

A reasonably reliable source has given me some tips on outcomes expected from the current summit in Brussels:

* They will reach an agreement on the draft of the constitution. The European Parliament will have even more members, and the rules on qualified majorities will be sorted out.

* They will not agree on a successor to Romano Prodi as President of the European Commission. That decision will be put off until the third week of July.

A Little More about the Elections

So pretty much all of the incumbent parties got whacked, amidst predicted low turnout. The BBC has nitty gritty from all 25 member states. There isn’t an overview page, so the link goes to Poland, largest of the new members.

The SLD government there fell, by design, the day after Poland was admitted to the EU, and the parliament is still deciding whether to ratify the caretaker government or embark on an extended interregnum and early elections. The upshot is that the former governing party, the SLD (who are also former communists), placed fourth behind two parties I can’t find profiles of and a populist-to-wacko bunch called Self-Defense (Samoobrona, for those of you who like things in the original).*

Anyway, the parties across the continent largely have themselves to blame for the turnout. With a seat in Brussels largely viewed as a sidetrack or a retirement post, the parties don’t put their A team on the MEP election lists. Voters react accordingly.
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