Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

The Cutbacks: What are you willing to sacrifice?

Posted by Jason O on Jan 31, 2009 in Irish Politics

Adrian Weckler over at Yourtechstuff.com has posted an interesting survey here.


Great movies you should see: Good night, and good luck.

Posted by Jason O on Jan 31, 2009 in Movies/TV/DVDs

When principles mattered. Although the media picked up this movie as a George Clooney (He directed, co-wrote and plays a supporting role in it.) vehicle, Good Night and Good Luck is carried by a superb David Strathairn as veteran broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.

The story centres on the battle between Murrow and Senator Joseph McCarthy in the context of acute paranoia about communist infiltration of American society.

It’s easy to lampoon the times (And McCarthy) now, but at the time, it was a battle between the calm and principled rationalism of people like Murrow who wanted to defend the fundamental rights of people who may or may not have been communists, and an exceptionally popular “Man of the People” who had the ear of a great mainstream section of society. In fact, when you watch the footage of McCarthy, you can’t help but be surprised at how reasonable he could sound.   

It was a close run thing, and more to the point, would Murrow have won today, or been removed by advertisers opposed to his “unpatriotic” questioning?

In fact, put it another way: In 2004 the American people had to chose between President Bush, out of his depth but with an emotional message that rang true, and a clearly intelligent and thoughtful Senator John Kerry who was regarded as “Too smart” by many voters. Look who they chose.

Well worth watching, with the support of Frank Langella, Patricia Clarkson, and old television favourite Ray Wise (You’ll know him when you see him.)


British workers should be kicked out of other EU states?

Posted by Jason O on Jan 30, 2009 in Lisbon Treaty

It cuts both ways. I can understand their frustration, but is that not the logic of what is being suggested here?


Taxes: An Opportunity?

Posted by Jason O on Jan 30, 2009 in Irish Politics

From my wallet to a hotel suite in Malibu. Brian Lenihan has suggested that we need to broaden the tax base. He’s right, and that means we should finally look at the issue of local government taxation……no wait, don’t go, it’s a short post, I promise! 

We should have a local tax, probably based on income, set by an directly elected local Mayor. It would mean that he/she would be held to account for spending it wisely, and we could fire the bastard directly if he/she spent it on a town twinning trip to Malibu. It would also mean that the Council Tax would be the big issue at local elections, and candidates would be forced to have opinions on the rate and how it should be spent. I know, for some councillors whose biggest achievements seems to be to smell of stale wee that’ll be hard, but that’s politics.

Who sets the local business rates now that are crucifying business? Councillors? The County Manager? As with everything in Ireland, there is no one who actually puts the hand up and says yes, I made that decision.

Until that happens, say No to local taxes.


Music you might like: Andy Lewis

Posted by Jason O on Jan 30, 2009 in Movies/TV/DVDs

With just the right amount of wacka wacka guitar. Right, let’s get it out in the open. My friends have passed the following comments about my tastes in music:

” Awful ” 

” What’s that shite you’re listening to? Now That’s What I Call Lift Music?”

” What the fuck is that? The music from the Milk Tray ads?”

I have, shall we say, eclectic tastes in music, with a hankering for the Burt Bacharach sound. Jazzy, orchestral, 70s wacka wacka and a terrible soft spot for the odd bit of  lounge and soundtrack music. There, I’ve said it. I’m out of the closest. I don’t think someone who can appreciate the odd bit of  Henry Mancini or Roy Budd should be beaten to death with a Girls Aloud album. Sorry.

Andy Lewis has put together a very varied album, with all of the above. Funky, and worth having a test dabble on iTunes.


Politicians out of touch? No, they’re too much in touch. That’s the problem.

Posted by Jason O on Jan 29, 2009 in Irish Politics

A spine, a spine, my republic for a spine! The truth is, our political system isn’t up to it. In a global crisis, when leaders with vision and technical ability are needed, what have we got? Local panderers, that’s what. We have over 1000 elected officials in Ireland, of whom less than 45 have any personal daily ability to make a decision that effects people’s lives in a meaningful way.

Strangely, that’s how we like it.  Take local government. Every party’s councillors complain about the county managers being able to overrule councillors. Yet nearly every party has been in government, and none of them have changed it. Why? Because deep down they feel that if the people of  Leitrim or Dublin Fingal were actually let run the county with the quality of councillors they elect, they’d thrash the gaff. Look at Noel Dempsey and waste management. When he gave councillors the powers to run their own affairs, they actually refused to make decisions. Refused! Because they wanted to be councillors but not actually be responsible for stuff!

It’s a uniquely Irish thing, a throwback to the Dublin Castle mentality, the idea that we vote and elect councillors, and they become councillors, and yet neither of us is actually responsible for those actions, as if it is all the doing of “Them up there.”  

So what do we do?

Here’s a thought: 

When a candidate calls for your vote in the next five months, ask him or her this question:

“What do you think will be the most unpopular decision you will make as councillor?”

If they won’t answer, they’re dodgy panderers, and shouldn’t be councillors.

If they can’t answer, they haven’t put any thought into it and don’t deserve to be councillors.

If they do answer, well, maybe there is hope. A real leader does not fear unpopularity, and to paraphrase a line in “Gladiator”  we don’t need Men of the People, we need Men for the People.


Who the f**k was Wendell Wilkie?

Posted by Jason O on Jan 29, 2009 in Just stuff

A liberal Republican? Huh?I know, I know, talk about obscure subjects for a post, but bear with me. This guy was fascinating.

Wendell Wilkie was an American businessman who, having never held elected office, won the Republican nomination in 1940 through sheer force of personality, having performed brilliantly in a series of radio debates.  He opposed parts of the New Deal because he felt that it was unfair for business to have to compete directly with government, but on balance was liberal, progressive, believed in desegregation way before it became fashionable (Addressing the NAACP in 1942), where he declared that ” The desire to deprive some of our citizens of their rights—economic, civic or political—has the same basic motivation as actuates the Fascist mind when it seeks to dominate whole peoples and nations. It is essential that we eliminate it at home as well as abroad.”

He supported a world government, writing a best selling book about it, One World, and even allegedly bedded the wife of the dictator of China Chiang Kai Shek!
He eventually founded Freedom House with Eleanor Roosevelt.

Watch this. With a slight hint of Jed Bartlet about him, imagine if more Republicans sounded like this.  


Great books you should read: Last Light by Alex Sparrow

Posted by Jason O on Jan 29, 2009 in Books

DIsturbing, Oil say. When I’m not reading historical biographies, political tracts or the history of obscure TV shows ( I know, I know.) I enjoy the odd thriller. Normally, even though I enjoy them, I wouldn’t go so far as to recommend them because I appreciate that they are a very subjective genre.

Having said that, I would recommend Alex Scarrow’s (Great name for a James Bond baddy. “Expect me to talk, Scarrow? No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die. Mwahahaha!) Last Light   primarily because it scared the bejaysus out of me. Not because of the dramatic tension, or even the plot, but because of the concept. Basically, what happens when the oil suddenly runs out?

What is so disturbing is the picture of absolute collapse of civilisation Scarrow paints, about how reliant we are on oil and not just for transport. You’ll find yourself pondering the topic long after you’ve finished the novel, and googling “Peak Oil.”

This isn’t Philp Roth but worth throwing into the bag for a holiday read.


Can you buy unemployment insurance off Fianna Fail, I wonder?

Posted by Jason O on Jan 28, 2009 in Irish Politics

Safe as houses!Have a look at this. I’m sure they’ll look after your house as well as they look after the country!


52 jobs created by Irish language.

Posted by Jason O on Jan 28, 2009 in Irish Politics

Flag creates jobs! According to Fianna Fail MEP  Sean O’Neachtain over 50 jobs have been created by making Irish a working language of the EU, and another 100 could be created if Lisbon is ratified.

Isn’t it extraordinary that no entrepeneur managed to make money out of the obvious demand for EU and Irish legislation to be translated into Irish? I mean, even at election time, there must be hundreds of candidates, who all support this policy, and aren’t great at Irish themselves, crying out to get their election literature translated.

Of course, I never get any all-Irish election material. Could it be that the same people who laud spending taxpayer’s money on such a pursuit are somewhat cooler on spending their own money on it? Surely not!

I mean, when you go into Sean O’Neachtain’s own website there’s a few sections in Irish, but most of it is in English. Maybe he doesn’t know?

To my shame, I’m brutal at Irish, and it’s my own fault.  Curiously, the Irish language lobby don’t seem to worried about the likes of me, as they seem very busy ensuring that those positions in Brussels are filled with competent, professional people.  None of whom have anything to do with the Irish language lobby, of course.

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