Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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Great movies you should see no.1: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

Posted by Jason O on Dec 30, 2010 in Just stuff

Oooh! Big Shiny Robot! We're in trouble now! The 1951 version I’m talking about, not the 2008 version where Keanu Reeves stares blankly (for a change) at people. The movie tells the story of an alien vistor and his giant robot who land in Washington DC  to deliver a message to humanity. Michael Rennie (Who has a touch of Ryan Tubridy As Elder Statesman about him) plays Klaatu, the alien messenger.

What is most interesting about the movie is that it was written when the anti-communist scare was just beginning to take off in the US, and yet dismisses rabid anti-communism as just a parochial human concern which is missing the big picture. The film is best remembered for Klaatu’s final speech to a collection of world scientists (The world’s leaders refused to meet him!) where he clarifies humanity’s options in stark terms. It sounds almost like an anti-Neocon polemic, or curiously like George Bush Senior’s Gulf war policy. Basically, you can do what you want, but interfere with other countries and you’re toast! I’ve posted it below if you don’t mind me ruining the ending of the movie.

 

Klaatu’s speech:

 ” I am leaving soon and you’ll forgive me if I speak bluntly. The universe grows smaller every day and the threat of aggression by any group anywhere can no longer be tolerated. There must be security for all or no one is secure. Now this does not mean giving up any freedom, except the freedom to act irresponsibly. Your ancestors knew this when they made laws to govern themselves and hired policemen to enforce them.

We, of the other planets, have long accepted this principle. We have an organization for the mutual protection of all planets and for the complete elimination of aggression. The test of any such higher authority is, of course, the police force that supports it. For our policemen we created a race of robots. Their function is to patrol the planets in spaceships like this one and preserve the peace. In matters of aggression we have given them absolute power over us. This power cannot be revoked. At the first signs of violence they act automatically against the aggressor. The penalty for provoking their action is too terrible to risk.

The result is we live in peace without arms or armies, secure in the knowledge that we are free from aggression and war, free to pursue more profitable enterprises. Now, we do not pretend to have achieved perfection, but we do have a system, and it works. I came here to give you these facts. It is no concern of ours how you run your own planet, but if you threaten to extend your violence, this Earth of yours will be reduced to a burned-out cinder.

Your choice is simple: join us and live in peace, or pursue your present course and face obliteration. We shall be waiting for your answer. The decision rests with you.”

 
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A task for the new government: Reassure us over our natural resources.

Posted by Jason O on Dec 30, 2010 in Irish Politics

I recently posted comments about the Corrib Gas controversy, and got some very useful remarks back from readers. The reason I raised the issue was because I’ve noticed in recent times people raising the issue, and not just the usual suspects either. It seems to me that there is a uneasy disquiet about how our natural resources are being handled.

What I would suggest as a way of settling the matter would be for the government to appoint an individual of integrity, possibly from outside the country and the energy industry, to commission a short, straightforward report outlining what the actual situation is, how the decisions were made that got us here, and who made them, and the comparisons to other countries. I’m not looking for a multi-million euro report or tribunal, just a straight, believable text that  explains the situation.

That is surely not a lot to ask for to ensure national peace of mind over the matter? 

 
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Ireland needs a Statement of Entitlements and Responsibilities.

Posted by Jason O on Dec 30, 2010 in Irish Politics

I can recall every general election from 1987, and I can recall a common factor about nearly every single outcome of those elections. Within two years of each election, an air of cynicism and betrayal, of being let down by the new government, tended to permeate the political environment. This tended to be caused by two driving forces: The first was incoming politicians campaigning on such a vague platform as to mean that it was emotionally and psychologically impossible for that government to satisfy the high expectation barriers it had set.

Fianna Fail in 1987 campaigned on the phrase “Heath cuts hurt the old, the sick and the handicapped. There is a better way. ” which was, it has to be admitted, a shockingly barefaced de facto lie of a promise because it gave the impression that these were things that Fianna Fail were against. The truth is, when FF siad “there is a better way” they actually meant “there is a better way of hurting the old, the sick and the handicapped.” Even if Fianna Fail had been sincere in making the proposition, it would have been impossible with the best will in the world to deliver on the promise, a reversal of all health spending cuts. Hence the electorate’s bitterness and subsequent reduction in Fianna Fail seats and votes at the 1989 election.

The second factor tends to be an electorate that has no real idea how to measure success. The Labour Party, the Progressive Democrats and the Green Party have all been sucessful in delivering significant parts of their policy agendas, yet all have suffered at the hands of subsequent electorates who either were unaware of those achievements, or discounted them against a larger less tangible failure on the part of the parties.

A new incoming government needs to heed this lesson, especially in this time of finite resources. As part of that, a new government should commit to providing each citizen with a specific written declaration, each year, of what they will pay in direct taxes and VAT and local and car taxes, and what specific services they can expect to receive in return. And when I say specific, I mean specific. None of your “We pledge a world class health service” crap. I mean how long you will wait on a waiting list for an operation. How long you will have to wait to see a doctor in A&E. And who you call and how much you get compensated by if you don’t get what you are pledged. How much dole you will get if you lose your job, and for how long.

If we are to create a political system where there is trust between the governors and the governed, this country needs a period of clear promise delivery, where our leaders words actually mean something, and where a word given, if only to promise a very modest promise, is a word honoured. If this country is to recover, then honour has got to mean something.

 
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Berlusconi apologises for being seen with plain overweight woman.

Posted by Jason O on Dec 30, 2010 in Not quite serious.

Ciao bella!Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appealed to the Italian people for forgiveness after he was photographed on a date with a rather ordinary looking woman. Addressing a hastily convened press conference, the 82 year old Italian billionaire (Looking at least 20 years younger having undergone plastic surgery and other surgical enhancements of a more private nature)  pointed out that this was a error of judgement and that normally he was involved with stunningly beautiful women. To emphasise the point, he pointed out beautiful women in the press corps with whom he had slept with, including top Italian anchorwoman Carla Luennzi.

“ I did have sexual relations with that woman, Ms Luennzi.” Berlusconi insisted.

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