Posted by Jason O on Jul 31, 2011 in Irish Politics
Norris: Guilty of poor judgement.
David Norris has serious questions to answer. The fact is, if a letter of the type that is now in the public domain had been written by any other candidate, especially a conservative candidate, liberals like me would be all over it, and Senator Norris has to be held to the same standard. And, it is relevant: In writing such a letter, the senator has shown loyalty to someone he cares deeply about, but also shocking poor judgement, and judgement matters. There are many people who would have been well disposed towards the senator who will now have doubts about voting for him.
But they should still have the choice to make that decision. It should still be up to the Irish people to decide who shall be their president, not the Sunday Indo and certainly not a foreign power. I am, on balance, a defender of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, but I’m somewhat sceptical as to why they have chosen now to interfere in an Irish presidential election. The goodness of their hearts? Do Mossad scour their files for every other country’s election, out of a fear that the electorates of those countries may not have the full facts? To be honest, I don’t believe in a conspiracy theory, after all, who would this help? Michael D, who is hardly a friend of Israel? Or maybe Gay Mitchell? But then, why would Israel want to help Fine Gael, unless, of course, somewhere in the government was an individual with a staunch record of defending that country. But that’s just ridiculous. Such people don’t exist in Irish politics, surely?
Posted by Jason O on Jul 30, 2011 in Jason's Diary
Well done to Senator Averil Power saying at the Magill Summer School here (35m in approx) what many Fianna Fail grassroots have been saying in private for years. But the question facing Micheal Martin is what is he actually going to do about it? Speeches are fine, but what mechanisms will he put in place to prevent future ethics abuses? I ask, because I remember the last time a young newly elected FF leader said that there was no room in FF for the loose ethics of the past. His name was Bertie Ahern. Actions, Micheal, actions!
I see Bord Gais are putting up prices again. I also see that we continue to have almost no debate on our future energy needs as a country. Except that we are anti-nuclear and support happy-clappy forms like solar panels and wind turbines as long as they are on other people’s houses and we can’t see them. We are now slowly walking into the energy version of our banking regulation fiasco, with a generation of politicians totally ignoring the issue in the hope that nothing bad will happen. But here’s the problem: We are at the end of nearly every major European energy supply chain. When things tighten, 500 million Europeans are ahead of us in the queue. Still, maybe Corrib gas will save us all.
Well done to my pal Andrea Pappin on her tour de force at Magill, where she confronted one particular cosy consensus about young people and politics.
My novel, “The Ministry of Love”, continues to make its (very modest) way in the Amazon world, with some nice reviews coming in. I was particularly grateful to Nick Barlow, a Lib Dem Councillor, for this review on his blog.
Posted by Jason O on Jul 25, 2011 in Irish Politics
You may have noticed that I have, in recent times, shifted the focus of this blog from Irish politics to other things.
There are two reasons. The first is that I’m beginning to find the “sameyness” of Irish politics to be tedious, to the extent that I am struggling to find different ways of writing about the same old political nonsense that occurs in this country. In some cases, as you will have noticed, I have recycled old posts, hardly having to change them at all. I’m also aware of becoming too preachy, and banging on about the same old issues that interest me. It’s not true that some things don’t change: They do. The problem is that too many things either don’t change or change so slowly that one would waste a life trying to change them. I have better things to do.
I’ve also noticed that when I write about non-Irish politics, books, TV, or life in general, my readership numbers actually go up. Whereas I always assumed that I was writing a blog predominantly about Irish politics, I’m not so sure now. If I write political “Yah-boo” stuff, saying that so-and-so is doing well or not so well, it gets a tribal response. But if I write about Irish political ideas (“What would happen if we did X?”) it’s tumbleweed city. It’s this lack of engagement on ideas that is most disappointing. Yes, there are some readers, on both left and right, who do engage, and I’m grateful to them, but most readers just say nothing.
What’s interesting is that if I do the same about the EU, I do get a lot of engagement, but nearly all of it from outside Ireland. Am I wrong in saying that the Irish don’t like discussing political ideas, as opposed to discussing who is up and who is down?
As you will know, from here, I recently dipped my toe into the fiction pond by publishing an eBook on Amazon. I don’t know how it is selling, as I have deliberately not checked because I’m currently finishing a second book. But people are engaging me on it, asking me questions, pointing out errors in it (for which I am very grateful) and it is much more satisfying. I also, to be honest, find writing about fictional politicians to be more interesting than writing about most of our real ones.
What do you guys think? Some of you, many of whom I know or have met since I started writing this, are political. But do you read it for the political insight, or do you come across some posts and think “Here he goes again!” What about the spread between political and non-political? This blog is nothing without its readers, just a guy typing in his study, and so I’m interested as to what readers think about this. Thoughts?
Posted by Jason O on Jul 22, 2011 in Not quite serious.
Good old Harley Davidson!
It’s true, his mates were impressed at first. I mean, just look at her! There was a lot of sucking in guts and trying to make her laugh and yes, let’s be honest, pure jealousy. I mean, just look at her! But as the weeks go on, the patience with the mates wears thin. They’re getting fed up holding their bellies in, and talking about celebrities and pop stars they’ve never heard of (and she’s never heard of Status Quo? The Quo? You must know The Quo?) and let’s be honest, she’s old enough to be babysitting the grand-kids. Then the wives turn up, and they cut her to shreds in that nice never-stop-smiling way, glaring at their husbands. It’s all very awkward.
And he’s getting tired of it too. Yes, he left the wife, and the sex was great but Jaysus he’s knackered and fed up with nightclubs and don’t get him started on Oxegen, where some young fella called him “Gramps” and nearly burnt the tent down. Then she starts dressing him, and his son, who’s a year younger then her, takes one look at his bulging Hollister top, and walks out of the room muttering to himself.
Three months in, he’s had enough. To hell with the short skirts and the high heels, he’s fed up traipsing around Dundrum dropping €500 every time. He’d rather be watching the golf.
He meets the wife, and begs to be allowed home. She lets him, and when she and the girls go to New York for the week and the credit card bill comes the following month with manual handling instructions attached, he wisely says nothing. Reparations, he tells the lads. The price of peace. What did she get up to in New York? Rumours come back to him from the other wives. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Sleeping dogs lie. Let the hare sit.
Falling asleep in front of the “The Eagle has Landed” after a wedge of Shepherd’s Pie and a glass of Wolf Blass on a Saturday afternoon. That’s what he really wants.
Now, where’s that Harley Davidson catalogue?
Posted by Jason O on Jul 21, 2011 in Jason's Diary
, Just stuff
A meteor, doing meteory stuff.
It occurred to be recently that I know quite a few young people (I’m deeming that to be under 40, by the way. Just shut up, right?) who are really beginning to shine in their given areas. I reckon you should keep an eye out for them, because all are on their way to being either household names or failing that, “That fella off the telly”.
Colin Scuffins, who is a writer and film producer (Independent movie “Prodigal Son”), and one of the funniest writers I have ever met. You will be hearing about this guy, just wait and see.
Ciaran Toland, barrister and expert in EU law? Expert, you say? Well, he just took the European Parliament to the European Court, and made them cry. On his way to being a player in Irish life.
Averil Power, Senator. The new face of Fianna Fail. Not on the take, liberal, and not afraid to actually read books. You’ll be hearing about this one, if you haven’t already.
John McGuirk, media commentator. A solid media performer coming from the eurocritical centre-right, and would cross the road to beat up a cosy media consensus.
Andrea Pappin, media commentator. The Anti-McGuirk. Appearing on everything from Newstalk to Tubridy to The Frontline to TV3. More likely to take a cosy media consensus out for coffee and say “Yes, but have you read this report?”. Check out her blog here.
Posted by Jason O on Jul 21, 2011 in Irish Politics
Sometimes, a man steps up.
“The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’. Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart” . . . the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer. . . . This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded. The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture…Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic . . . as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism . . . the narcissism . . . that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day…This is not Rome. This is the Republic of Ireland 2011, a republic of laws.”
I find myself getting quite emotional reading Enda’s speech, not because I want to bash the church, which I genuinely don’t, but because I never thought I’d see a day when an Irish Taoiseach would put republican values ahead of Rome.
Neither Bertie Ahern nor Brian Cowen did this. Enda did, and whatever else Enda does in his term of office, he should be thanked, and remembered, for this.
Posted by Jason O on Jul 20, 2011 in Irish Politics
, Not quite serious.
Please give generously.
One of the major accusations lobbed at the austerity programme is that whilst everyone agrees that there must be new taxes, everyone feels that they’re a special case, and that those who can afford new taxes should pay them, but not those who can’t. I’ve thought about this, and I have a suggestion for the government. A means for the public to play a role in controlling how much austerity they can put up with.
Make the new Household Charge voluntary. No household should have to pay it, but can pay a recommended amount, a share of it, or nothing at all. Whatever the household can afford. We can calculate, on a local authority basis, what each county council would have got if every household paid the recommended amount, and therefore we will know what the deficit will be in each county from people choosing to exempt themselves. That’s the amount the county council budget gets cut by, thus allowing central government to make savings on its subvention to local government, and no home to be forced to pay a tax they believe they cannot afford. This way, it’s the public who decide the level of cuts, and how much public spending they are willing to pay for.
What’s that? But local services will be cut? That’s true, but local people can’t afford them. If they could afford them, they’d surely pay the Household Charge, wouldn’t they? And anyway, some people will pay extra, because they can afford to. I have no doubt that most TDs will make an extra contribution, as will various Irish Times columnists and trades union and NGO leaders, and also simple decent people who want to provide extra local services. What’s the problem? Sorry? Other people should pay more? Other people in other counties? But they have the same voluntary right to not pay the charge too. Isn’t that fair? What’s that? You want the Household Charge to be voluntary, but only for you? Why? Because you pay enough in income taxes? Hmm. That’s a point. Maybe, maybe we should make income tax voluntary, on the same principle. After all, the Irish people are a decent, generous people, we are told. If they had to choose between cutting their own taxes, or volunteering to pay extra to fund social services, they’d pay extra, wouldn’t they? Wouldn’t they?
Posted by Jason O on Jul 18, 2011 in Jason's Diary
Mad Men: Smokin' and Drinkin' and Lyin' in the 1960s.
Have recently started watching the much ballyhooed “Mad Men”, about life in a 1960s advertising agency. Not quite sure that I’m willing to give it the standing ovation everyone else gives it, although I have to say that I will watch season two. I find it a little too ponderous. Having said that, the overt drinking, smoking and blatant sexism of the time is absolutely fascinating to watch. I suspect that Human Resources Managers could easily devise a drinking game based on the number of HR No-Nos committed every episode. It really is extraordinary how far we have come. Despite the slowness of the story, the cast is excellent.
Was invited onto Coleman at Large by that mastermind of the right, John McGuirk. Was quite nervous, but enjoyed myself in a lively discussion about Cloyne, Europe and immigration. You can have a listen here, after Lucinda Creighton, who was excellent.
The approach to water and household charges mentioned here continues to bug me. If local councillors were held responsible for setting the levy, to fund local services, they’d actually pay attention to how local money is spent, as opposed to badgering the county manager for ever more spending. Especially if, at the local elections, a councillor’s voting record on levies was actually on the ballot paper. But then, that would be outrageous, wouldn’t it?
As for the water charge: a question. If this new water company is set up, will all the people currently running our water supply lose their jobs, or transfer, or be made redundant on big money and rehired by the new company. We’ll have to watch that.
Posted by Jason O on Jul 16, 2011 in Irish Politics
In a week where child protection issues have been in the news, here’s a uncomfortable admission. If I was walking through a shopping centre, and saw a distressed child, obviously lost, I would do nothing. I’d shuffle past, maybe glance back to see if someone helped the child, and go on about my business, feeling shitty and ashamed for the rest of the day.
Disgraceful, you say? Look at it from my point of view. I’m a 38 year old overweight bearded man who lives alone. Now, supposing I spoke to the child, and, if not seeing a security guard in my immediate vicinity, did the next logical thing and took the child to the centre’s information desk, where a public announcement could be made. Very sensible thing to do, right? You would think so, except that supposing on my way I encounter the rightly irate and terrified mother frantically searching for her child.
What will be her response be? It might be gratitude, or relief. Or it might be suspicion or even a belief that the reason that she could not find her child in the first place was because a 38 year old overweight bearded man (ever notice how in photos, child abductors never look like Brad Pitt?) had taken the child. I could end up being questioned by police, who will of course find that I have done nothing wrong, except that I am now a person of interest who was questioned by police with regard to a child missing in a shopping centre. My name will be noted somewhere, “just in case”. If a child ever goes missing in the area I live in, my name pops up as someone perhaps worth talking to. See how this goes?
In the society we have created, I’m sorry, but I can’t take the risk, and I’m not alone. I even know of married men with children who would be weary of speaking to a stranger’s child unaccompanied. I have two younger sisters, both under eight. If they got lost in a shopping centre, of course I’d hope that someone would give a damn. But as long as we have a society where our media perpetuate the idea that there are far more strangers out there trying to harm your children than there are strangers who might intervene if one of your children is in distress, this is the way it is going to be. I have to walk on. I just can’t take the risk.
Posted by Jason O on Jul 15, 2011 in Not quite serious.
Spare a thought for the celebrities.
There now follows an announcement from the British Organisation of Nationally known Celebrities (BONC):
We live in difficult times. Businesses are closing, people are losing their jobs and homes, and families are struggling. In these challenging days, please spare a moment for the plight of a group of people whose suffering is not appreciated the way it should be.
Celebrity millionaires. As you are reading this statement, there are hundreds of millionaire celebrities sitting in their mansions in Essex going without a spot on a national talent show, or a show on a cable channel with “celeb” in the title. Some are just barely managing to eek out a public profile in ads for cosmetic products or downmarket supermarkets. Many are reduced to spending hours dressing up to go down to Iceland, getting a family friend to take pictures on their iPhone and sending it into the tabloids in the hope that they might get a fleeting mention.
It puts huge pressure on their families too:
“(name deleted) was devastated when she was no longer on a major national TV show. I tried to tell her that things aren’t so bad, she’s got five million in the bank, but there was no consoling her. She even went back to her adulterous husband, which got her back in the papers, I suppose. Hopefully he’ll smack her around a bit. Then she can be The Nation’s Victim again!”
So please, whilst you’re worrying about putting food in front of your children, or paying the mortgage or the gas or electricity, have a thought about people worse off than you. The 3am girls have never written about you. You’ve never had the opportunity to be outraged when The News of the World hacked your phone. You’ve never been photographed wearing a less than fashionable dress to a Harry Potter premiere.
With all due respect, you don’t know suffering the way celebrity millionaires do.