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

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.

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