Posted by Jason O on Jul 15, 2015 in Fiction
, Irish Politics
, Not quite serious.
Supposing Bertie had tried to do the right thing…
REPOST FROM 2012
COWEN, BLAMING AHERN, CONCEDES DEFEAT AS KENNY OPENS NEGOTIATIONS WITH RABBITTE.
The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, has conceded defeat after tallymen said that FF senator Cyprian Brady would narrowly fail to be elected to the last seat in Dublin Central. This result confirmed that Fianna Fail’s loss of five seats in the general election meant that it was now impossible for the party to attempt to cobble together a majority with the remaining PDs and independents.
Cowen launched a blistering attack on his predecessor, Bertie Ahern TD, for his decision, following the 2002 general election, to restrict mortgage lending and tax breaks. He identified Ahern’s attempts to dampen down the property market as the key reason for Fianna Fail’s defeat in the general election. The decision to restrict lending was very badly received by first time buyers, who accused the government of treating them like children and not letting them borrow as much as they wished.
Ahern’s January 2003 RTE Prime Time interview, where he suggested that the banks and mortgage holders were piling debts upon themselves based on massively overvalued assets caused the Taoiseach to be savaged by the media, who attacked him (and not just in their weighty property supplements) of being alarmist and talking down the market. Ahern’s refusal to back down led to a gradual slow down and modest dip in property values, and following heated rows in heated tents in Galway with party supporters, finance minister Charlie McCreevy announced his resignation, accusing Ahern of lacking courage.
The policy led to a substantial drop in employment in the construction industry, with unemployment leaping from 3.1% to 5.1%, and demands for the Taoiseach’s resignation by some FF backbenchers. Fianna Fail suffered heavy losses in middle class areas in the 2004 local and European elections, with Fine Gael trouncing FF with a clear call to reverse Ahern’s restrictions. Polls showed clearly that Ahern’s interference in the property market was deeply unpopular with middle class and aspiring middle class voters, and in June 2006, following a sustained campaign in the media, Charlie McCreevey announced that he was challenging Bertie Ahern for the party leadership. Although he defeated Ahern in the vote, McCreevy was beaten in the subsequent leadership election by Brian Cowen, his successor as finance minister, who pointed out that he believed in the “traditional idea that the leader of Fianna Failer should be, you know, a member of Fianna Fail.” The new cabinet announced it was reversing Ahern’s restricting on lending and restoring the tax breaks to the building industry.
The incoming Fine Gael/Labour coalition has said that it does not believe the fact that the country is building over 80,000 housing units when Sweden, with double the population, is only building 12,000, to be a cause for concern.
In other news, the family of Capt. Edward Smith, the “mad” captain of the RMS Titanic who rammed an iceberg in 1912 and caused over a £100,000 worth of damage to his own ship, have petitioned the British Government to clear the captain’s name. Smith, who died disgraced in 1950, always maintained that if he attempted to turn the ship away from the iceberg it could have been badly damaged along its hull in such a way as to sink the ship, a theory that modern engineers have recently begun to suggest has merit. For years, the phrase “To Smith Oneself” was a derogatory naval slogan to describe a foolish action taken by a person who claimed that they were attempting to avoid a greater catastrophe.
The former luxury liner continues to be one of the biggest tourist attractions in London, where it is moored.
Posted by Jason O on Jul 3, 2015 in Fiction
, US Politics
The weapon, later identified as a 10 mega-ton former Soviet warhead, detonated just as the new Knesset began proceedings. In a flash, Israel’s administrative capital, political leadership and just under three quarters of a million Israelis died, along with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank.
The news was greeted in different ways. In the US, the president was rushed to the emergency national airborne command post, whilst the vice president and others were sent to the alternate national command centre in Mount Weather. US forces were ordered to def con 2.
In Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and Riyadh, spontaneous crowds gathered in grotesque displays of euphoria.
Posted by Jason O on Mar 29, 2015 in British Politics
, Irish Politics
A long post: you might want a cup of tea with this one.
When the Taoiseach was told the news by the British Prime Minister, they say that his heart actually tightened and he was short of breath. He could have been forgiven if it had been true. England, the PM announced, was pulling out of the United Kingdom. After Scotland’s withdrawal the previous year a wave of introspection had swept south of the border, and suddenly English taxpayers were asking why they were paying billions to a bunch of ungrateful paddies. Enough was enough.
The truth, the PM said, is that we would have pulled out decades ago if it hadn’t been for the IRA. There’s nothing in Ulster for us, but we just couldn’t be seen to give in to the Provos. You know, spirit of the Blitz and all that. But now most English people don’t give a toss. It’ll be like Hong Kong: flag lowered, soldiers in big hats saluting, and that’ll be that. You’ll be the man who united Ireland, the PM said. You can thank me later.
The Taoiseach actually vomited when he was alone. His first reaction had been to beg the Brits not to leave. Where the hell was he going to find €10 billion a year extra to fund the north? Increase USC by two and a half times? But he couldn’t beg, because he knew that both MI5 and the dark shades brigade in Harcourt Street were both recording the conversation, and a leak of the prime minister of Ireland begging the Brits not to leave would get him killed. In Boston, quite literally.
Posted by Jason O on Nov 25, 2014 in Fiction
, Not quite serious.
In late 1988 the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a woman named Winifred Ann Bartowski, who worked in the Pentagon as a personal assistant to the Secretary of the Navy.
Bartowski had the second highest civilian security clearance available, and was arrested after a Soviet defector had revealed that the KGB had an extraordinarily well-placed source in the Navy Department. After months of surveillance, federal agents had determined that Bartowski had in fact been removing classified documents from her office and leaving them at a drop for Soviet agents.
Upon arrest, agents had been surprised to find that not only was Bartowski not upset at her arrest, but was in fact annoyed at the fact that the federal agents did not seem aware that she was operating under FBI instruction. She was even able to present a document purporting to be issued by the Justice Department authorizing her to break her security clearance and provide the secret information.
This was a common tactic of the KGB at the time, to convince ordinary patriotic Americans that they were not working for the Soviet Union but another branch of the US government which was itself testing the security of their department or organisation, or hunting another alleged spy.
Bartowski agreed to be polygraphed, and during her questioning not only convinced agents that she believed she had been working for her own government, but that she had visited a fully functioning FBI office operating in plain sight in Washington DC, where she had been given her mission and even spoken by phone with Vice President Bush who had assured her about spying on her cabinet officer boss and thanked her for her efforts.
This detail greatly alarmed the agents, because a number of them had recently worked on another counter-intelligence case where a suspect in the Department of Energy had given the exact same details. He too claimed that he had been taken to an FBI facility and tasked by federal agents.
On hearing of this, the Deputy Director of the FBI, Charles Farnsworth III, had requested that a special unit be set up to confirm the existence of this fake FBI operation (designated Red Office)and deal with it. Absolute secrecy was paramount, with the bureau being well aware that if the existence of Red Office became known in Washington circles, other agencies would immediately cease cooperation with the bureau on its investigations. Among the agents assigned to Red Office were Richard Anderson and James “Digger” Farroe, two counter-intelligence specialists. Farroe was the most junior agent assigned, straight out of Qunatico, and had been eager to make his mark. As the investigation begun, agents pored over the details given by Bartowski and Thomas Mellor, the Department of Energy employee who had told a similar story, trying to pinpoint from their evidence a possible location. Both had been blindfolded, and both said that they had driven for at least forty five minutes before entering through an underground car park. Both recalled seeing the Capitol from an office window. Agents spent hours poring over aerial shots of the city and searching buildings within line of sight of the Capitol without luck.
Late one night, Farroe decided to try a different track, and worked with Anderson to identify comedians and impressionists in the DC area who did impressions of the Vice President. Both men compiled a list, and proceeded, over the following days, to visit the list in the slim chance of finding the man who had spoken to Bartowski. On the second day, Anderson discovered a struggling part-time comedian named Johnny Seary who included the Vice President in his radio impressions, and who had died the previous day from a hit and run.
A search of Seary’s apartment revealed $4000 in cash hidden, with no clear identity as to its source.
The investigation had run out of ground when a second Department of Energy employee, Steven Parker, contacted the FBI. He produced a document similar to Bartowski’s and reported that he had, by chance, heard a radio station that had hosted Seary replay an old sketch in honour of his passing. Parker immediately recognised the voice, and suddenly had doubts about his secret FBI recruitment. Speaking to Farroe, his story was almost identical to the first too, save for one detail. On his blindfolded trip to the Red Office, he recalled the vehicle stopping and the loud cutting of an electric saw into wood. He also remembered flashing lights so bright that they penetrated his mask.
Farroe wondered as to whether this had indicated a tree that had fallen on a main road and was being removed by emergency services, and using the date given by Parker, proceeded to question both the DC Police and the Virginia State Police. The VSP came back quickly, confirming that a number of trees had been brought down on a road leading from Washington DC to Harrisonburg.
Farroe, not willing to wait for his partner, proceeded to visit the road, coming across a facility protected by unidentified security officers. On identifying himself as a federal agent, the security guards detained Farroe at gunpoint.
When Anderson, searching for his partner, visited the facility, he was shocked to find a large warehouse with an underground car park that housed a de facto movie set of an FBI office with false windows and lighting. Farroe was unconscious but unharmed, which the FBI later attributed to an unwritten rule that neither the US nor USSR kill each other’s operatives.
The FBI were never able to determine how long the Red Office operation had been active, nor how many agents it had recruited. The facility had been forensically cleaned, denying the FBI even the fingerprints of possible visitors.
Three weeks later, White House FBI liaison Paul Harris, who had been briefed by Farnsworth, resigned quietly, after he realised, studying photos of the facility, that he himself had been a Red Office operative, and had inadvertently tipped off the KGB to both the search for the Bush impressionist and Special Agent Farroe’s search of Virginia. Harris only revealed this fact on his death bed in 1994.
He also revealed that he had been ordered to direct the FBI towards a CIA operative named Brian Kelley who was believed to be a KGB spy but was in fact totally innocent. It later emerged that the Kelley operation had been created as a deliberate distraction to protect the KGB asset in the FBI Robert Hanssen, who was uncovered in 2001.
Posted by Jason O on Oct 1, 2014 in Fiction
, Irish Politics
Last year I wrote “Sovereignty”, a radio play about a female Irish Taoiseach. You can read it here.
Posted by Jason O on Jul 24, 2014 in eNovels & Writing
*A warning to readers: this is a long, speculative short story. Cup of tea and a chocolate digestive recommended.
Lars Wentworth III was a right wing Tea Party supporting billionaire who thought that President Obama was a communist. Throughout his life, most of which was spent as America’s ninth richest man, he had funded right wing candidates who held such extreme positions that many of them would have been arrested had they opened their big yaps in Europe, or Canada or any of those countries where not letting poor people die from illness was not regarded as proof of Marxism.
However, acute observers of Wentworth would have noticed one surprising factor about the candidates that the billionaire generously funded. They all kept quiet on gay issues. Read more…
Posted by Jason O on Jun 10, 2014 in Fiction
, US Politics
President Nixon: Tragically Slain in Dallas, 1963.
PRESIDENT NIXON DEAD. SHOT IN DALLAS. VICE PRESIDENT CABOT LODGE SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT.
The murder of Richard M. Nixon on the 22nd November 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald brought a meteoric political career to a cruelly abrupt end. The man who had risen from entering Congress in 1946 to defeating Senator John F. Kennedy in the razor thin election of 1960 was almost certain to be re-elected in 1964, given his adroit handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis, tough line on Vietnam (remembering Truman’s “losing China”) and his hard-line on civil rights solidifying black votes into the Republican column. The death of the young, cheerful and endearingly awkward war hero president stunned America.
Vice President Henry Cabot Lodge easily defeated Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson, running on a thinly veiled racist (against his own better judgement, he admitted years later) states rights campaign the following year. As history now shows, the Republican landslide of 1964 was the last good thing to happen to the former Massachusetts senator. Read more…
Posted by Jason O on Mar 14, 2014 in Fiction
, Ireland 2020
, Irish Politics
Action Party Leader Suzanne Smith
The newly formed Action Party continues to lead in the recent Red C poll in the Sunday Business Post. Excluding don’t knows, the poll puts the AP on 38%, FF on 24%, FG on 18%, Labour on 6%, Sinn Fein on 13% and others on 1%. Sources in the FG/Labour coalition said that “the only poll the government is interested in will be on polling day.”
Political pundits have called the continued strong performance of the Action Party extraordinary, considering that it is only a year old and has no TDs or senators. Suzanne Smith, the well-known businesswoman and party leader, continues to lead in the polls as preferred choice for Taoiseach. Tom Haskey of the Irish Times: “What’s interesting is the level of enthusiasm for the party. People either love it or hate it, and let’s be honest, the National Guard is the source of much of that strong feeling.”
The local elections continue to cause mayhem in the constituency, which always makes me laugh when one considers the relative powerlessness of county councillors. They have the power to call for, urge, and yearn for things. All very Danielle Steele. Of course, let’s be honest: for the parties, the local elections are basically a taxpayer funded run out for the general election, and a chance to separate the doers, the talkers, the poseurs, and the actually insane.
In the Feckerstown ward convention last night, Cllr. William Jennings Hanrahan, a henchman for my constituency colleague, arch-enemy, all-round devious bastard and throbbing verucca on my political big toe, Senator Maurice The Gimp Mahaffy, was waxing lyrical about his devotion to the party. For 48 eight long laws-of-physics breaking minutes he went on about his devotion to Fine Gael, and how as a young man he’d fallen to his knees to remove chewing gum from Liam Cosgrave’s shoe during the 1976 Ballyfermot by-election, and how his wish, when The Lord Our God called him, that perhaps someone would sprinkle a handful of soil from Beal na Blath over his casket, so that he may rest if only slightly close to greatness.
When the ballots were counted, he missed the last place by 5 votes. He was out of his seat, big red pudding face on him, accusing all and sundry of conspiracies and agendas, jabbing a finger at the young woman who had won the nomination of “dangling her female wiles”, before announcing that the party could f**k itself, and storming out. He could be heard on the corridor screaming at a young crony for Lucinda Creighton’s mobile number.
Watching the various “campaigns” for the European Parliament, I pretty much reckon that most Irish candidates could happily be running for a seat in Hell: “Fianna Fail candidate Cian Browley has pledged that he intends to secure as much funding as possible from Hell and the various Satanic Development Programmes. “I’m confident that there is funding available for local projects including new changing rooms for St. Jude’s. Will we have to pledge allegiance to Satan and all his evil works? Ah, here, I’ve no interest in all that high falutin’ nonsense. All I know is that the young lads of St. Jude’s won’t be getting poison ivy from the bushes around their Careful Nows, and that’s all I’m interested in. Does it bother me that Hitler and Jimmy Saville are in the same parliamentary group as me? Sure, that’s a typical Irish Times question, that is. Typical. I can tell ye this: Hitler voted for the new interpretative centre in Feckerstown which will have all the tourists in the town, and that’s the main thing. No, I don’t remember if I voted for his motion supporting the extermination of Untermenschen. Mind your own feckin’ business!”
Hanrahan announced that due to the radical feminists and homosexuals who have seized control of the party of Michael Collins and Liam “Keep ‘em rollin’ in the aisles” Cosgrave, he has launched his campaign to put himself before the people as an Independent Cumman ns nGaedheal/League of Youth candidate. He announced this, from the basket of a hot air balloon he had borrowed from his brother in law, under a giant rubber balloon (he’s not short a few quid, Hanrahan) in the shape of his face. Although he hadn’t planned on becoming airborne, a gust of wind caught the balloon, lifting it up with the Cllr and his crony in the basket, leading to an string of expletives through the megaphone as the basket was repeatedly lifted and bounced off the main street as the wind dragged it along. The balloon proceeded to break free, and as it slowly deflated it continued down the street, the cllr’s giant facsimile twisting and buckling. Children, animals and senior citizens were sent screaming. A young child holding a puppy with a sore leg was snatched out of harm’s way by Lucinda Creighton who had turned up to watch the proceedings, and I’m pretty sure when she started running towards the child I could hear that de-de-de noise the Six Million Dollar Man used to make.
Anyway, the marauding orb was only stopped when a passing Garda Armed Response Unit skidded to a halt and deflated it with 48 rounds from a Heckler and Koch submachine gun. That’ll be a fun day in GSOC.
Arthur Henchy TD has represented Kildare East since 1981. He has occasionally turned up at Oireachtas committees having actually read the legislation. He also borrowed the odd book off Garrett, and read it too.
There are a lot of Poles moving into the constituency, and I’m having to thread carefully. Brogan, the editor of the County Bugle, is getting chummy with The Gimp, and has started running articles talking about floods of Poles, no jobs for the Irish, etc. I don’t like it one bit. Too no blacks, no dogs, no Irish for my liking.
It’s getting traction, all the same. Was buying tobacco for the pipe in Murphy’s and all I could hear was “Senator Mahaffy, this, Senator Mahaffy that.” Since Murphy got elected to the county council he’s been looking around for an issue, and I think this could be it. Doesn’t stop him taking money of Polish lads when they’re buying sandwiches in his deli for their lunch. Deli, that’s a laugh. Young Maurice asked for a bit of mustard on his ham sandwich, and Mahaffy reacted as if he’d asked for broiled lobster. Have to put my thinking cap on about this one. Went up to see Connie today. Miss her.
Put Murphy in his box today. Young Maurice came running in with a new parcel from the Department of the Environment, and pointed out a salient detail to me. It took me a moment to twig it, but sure enough, I was back down to Murphy later that afternoon.
Says I to him: “ I see you’re getting very excited about the Polish issue, Ernie.”
Says he to me: “ I am, Arthur. Our culture is under threat. Did we fight the tans so that a bunch of Godless communists could overrun the land of the blessed virgin?” The last I’d heard, his grandfather hadn’t as much fought the tans as sold them porter and rasher sandwiches, but that wasn’t the issue. He was sounding like Mahaffy. It was worse than I thought, and so I sprung it on him.
“Ernie, you’re a brave man, a braver man than me. To be putting your principles ahead of your seat on the council, with all those Polish citizens eligible to vote in the next local elections……”
“What was that?” He asked, putting down the lump of ham he was cutting into translucently thin slices for pre-made sandwiches. I thrust the dagger in. “The local elections. All EU citizens can vote in them. All them Poles can vote. Sure, if it were me, I’d be trying to reach out to them, but I’m not the man you are, Ernie.” His brow furrowed, and I bade him a farewell, quietly confident that I won’t be hearing much more on that issue.
Still, the politics of campaigning in a multi-cultural Ireland. Will have to give that some thought. I wonder what the Polish is for “I knew your father well.” Must remember to ask Irka.
You’re never too old to learn, I discovered today. Irka had been listening to young Maurice and myself discuss the problem of Brogan and the anti immigrant line he was taking in his paper. Later that evening, I took the two of them to a fundraiser for St. Mark’s in Hartigan’s pub. When I pointed out Brogan to her, standing in the corner drinking with the two knuckle draggers who put the paper out with him, she headed straight for him, high heels clicking on the timber floor like a Wehrmacht Colonel. When she reached him, she flicked her long blonde hair in that way that makes young Maurice shiver, and had the three scribblers with their jaws hanging open. “ You are Mr. Brogan of the newspaper?” she asked, in an English that was far more basic and uneasy than her normal pronunciation. He nodded, eyes wide. “Since I come from Poland, I read your newspaper. My English not good, I not understand everything, but I wish to thank you on part of my girlfriends and I, for making me, I am sorry, us, so welcome in your country and in your newspaper.” She then gave him a hug that lingered slightly longer than necessary, and a kiss on the cheek that left him in a sweat.
The following issue of the paper carried an editorial attacking those who would stir up racial tension in the county, and praising the hard working New Irish. It even invited Polish newcomers, especially the women, to submit news items to the newspaper. And I thought I was the only political professional in the office?