Archive for September, 2009

28
Sep
09

A season for strange telly ads

Is anyone else bothered by those ads for the Referendum Commission? They pride themselves on being independent and interested only in informing us on the Lisbon treaty, but I find myself wondering if this is entirely true. The points they chose to exemplify in the ads seem to specifically counter claims made by the No side.

I suppose it could be argued that they are obliged to make particular reference to the No side’s claims, as they have been the chief instigators of mistruths in this debate. I’ve certainly been making similar claims here. However, I don’t this a reasonable explanation for these ads. The purpose of the commission is to serve as a resource for people seeking accurate information. If they’re taking it upon themselves chase down perceived untruths, then in naturally follows they have an agenda.

There’s also the downright strange role played by the commission last year. I recall some higher-up claiming they were free to take a side should one camp start taking the piss. In once sense this might be reasonable, but it hardly speaks well of their claim to be independent. I was told too of a press conference they held where one journalist asked a particularly challenging question, and they didn’t have a clue. They spent a good ten minute desperately leafing through books and leaflets. “It was a joy to behold,” was how the journalist who told me about it described it.

I’m not accusing anyone of being biased here. I’m just saying it all seems a bit odd to me. This aside, you know what other ad is bothering me? That Cadbury’s one with the giant anthropomorphised cocoa bean, with its distinctly Africanised features. Now perhaps I’m being over-sensitive, but it seems to me that they’ve gotten a bunch of dancing, slack-jawed black people and stuck them on my telly, seemingly with the expectation that I’d be ok with laughing at them.

27
Sep
09

The “buy Mary a cinema ticket to fix the government” plan

Have you ever encountered such incompetence that you wonder if they’re doing it on purpose? This was my reaction to Rody Molloy’s golden handshake, and the excuses that followed. It’s as if these guys are going out of their way to give the impression they’re bad at being the government, so we’ll happily welcome a European super-state. Or maybe they’re acting like court jesters so that it’ll distract from the shitty economy and help restore consumer confidence. This may sound ridiculous, but is it any more ridiculous than accepting they’re actually that stupid.

It seems Dermot was on the radio yesterday claiming they signed off on the pension as it benefited the taxpayer. And Dubya bombed Iraq for peace. What little faith they have in their own strength that they couldn’t risk a legal battle with Molloy. Brian was today desperately trying to put an end to the story by saying it was all simply in accordance with legislation. The threat of legal action by Molloy is certainly an interesting angle, but more so in my opinion was Cowen’s earlier claim that the payout was within public sector norms. This in the same week he was complaining that public service wages are too high.

No amount of spin will change the popular belief that this was yet another entry to the long list of Coughlin blunders that have embarrassed Cowen’s government. It hasn’t been a good week for Mary, though at this stage it’s impossible to imagine what “good” week for Mary might entail. Still, at least it wasn’t as embarrassing as last week, when she regaled the IDA with the story of how Einstein wrote the Theory of Evolution, truly a comment worthy of the now missed Bushisms. Well, rather than simply whine on the internet, I actually going to help. Conveniently, a Charles Darwin biopic is playing in the cinemas. A ticket is currently making its way to Mary’s office, courtesy of the Unemployed Blog. If it makes this government that bit less incompetent then I’m happy to do it.

22
Sep
09

Bertie’s conscience

I have recently developed a recurring nightmare. I’m sitting in Fagen’s having a chat with Aer Thaoiseach. For some reason I’m trying to elicit from him some personal or scandalous info on Celia, but he suddenly cuts me off, informing me how his conscience is %100 clear regarding the recession and how stoney broke he is these days.

My patience breaks and I cry, “Conscience? Broke? This is madness!

To this Bertie calmly responds, “Madness?” before exploding, “THIS IS DRUMCONDRA!”

He then kicks me in the chest, and I fall backwards into that little snug near the small bar, or something.

This is what I’m on about. Via Simon at Irish Election.

19
Sep
09

Thank heavens for Joe Higgins

As arguments for a No vote go, this is surely the feeblest. There are placards dotted around Cork stating the EU will impose carbon taxes us. “On your business. On your farms. On your families,” is the claim. The thing is, we have to pay taxes anyway, on our businesses, farms and even (if indirectly) our families. And if the Greens are to have any effectiveness in government, we’re all going to be paying carbon taxes soon, regardless of anything that happens in the EU. To many, if not most, paying carbon tax is a good thing.

It is this level of argumentation that I think is giving the Yes camp the edge in the polls. People are sick of the irrelevance and downright deceitfulness of the No side’s arguments. I am aware this is happening on both sides of the fence, but it seems to me the Nos have been dominant in this regard. It is for this reason that I’m genuinely delighted by the presence of Joe Higgins. It is only because of Joe that we’re having a proper debate at all. I’ve remarked before how Joe Higgins has usurped Declan Ganley as the No side’s mascot in this referendum, and this has proven to be a good thing. Unlike Ganley, there’s no ambiguity about why he wants us to vote no. There’s no questioning his motives. He’s a socialist in comment and deed, and regardless of how you rate his opinions there’s no denying he’s stands up for what he believes in. Bertie once described Higgins as a failed politician (actually, what he said was failed person, but let us suppose that was said in the heat of the moment and what he meant was failed politician). Well, at least Joe’s failures didn’t take the rest of us down with him.

As boring is this campaign has been, at least we’re having a debate. Last year we were preoccupied with microchipped babies, enforced abortions and super-army conscriptions. Many on the No side have made much of the fact that we’re voting again on the same treaty, cheerily ignoring that the second referendum is largely their fault. If we had rejected the treaty on its own merits last year, rather than get distracted by Cóir’s bullshit and Ganley’s questionable vested interests, then the EU wouldn’t have been able to pass it off with legal guarantees. This time it’s the affect Lisbon will have on workers that’s the focus of debate, and for that we have Joe Higgins to thank.

I’ve spoken here previously about Higgins in a manner that was perhaps more sarcastic and mocking that was warranted, but I for one am glad he’s campaigning. I’m not convinced by his argument. I’m still voting yes, but I’m grateful there’s someone of Joe’s integrity asking me to consider voting no. I’ve been reading Nick McGinley’s 100 Reason to Vote Yes to Lisbon II, an reasonable yet hardly definitive call for a yes vote. Reason 97 is “Joe Higgins will have to engage constructively with the EU institutions”. I’m sure he finds it repulsive that he has been personally tagged as a reason to vote yes, but I’m sure we can agree that we’re better off having an MEP like Joe working on the inside for us.

13
Sep
09

Irish Election Literature

I received an email from AJ of Irish Election Literature asking me to promote the blog. I’m happy to do it as it’s an incredible resource. There’s something here for casual and hardcore political anoraks alike.

11
Sep
09

You lie!!!

Have you guys seen this? I missed it when it happened (been concentrating on the Lisbon stuff). I just found it now while surfing the Huffington Post. Basically a Republican congressman yelled “you lie” during an Obama speech on healthcare reform to Congress.

More details are here. Also, I got a kick out of Craig Ferguson’s views on the subject.

11
Sep
09

Sorry, just kidding. LOL

Do you remember as a kid when an uncle or some non-authoritative adult figure might be giving you a spin someplace? You’d approach the car only for him to pull away suddenly. You’d whine for a bit and he’d promise not to do it again. He probably meant it, but when you’d reach the car again temptation would prove too much, and the foot would fall on the accelerator once more. Hilarious stuff.

The interview I mentioned at the end of this post went quite well. I wasn’t getting my hopes up, but I figured I had a chance. At around 8:00 this morning I got a call from the rep who had arranged the interview telling me I am to be offered the job. Big news! I immediately began contemplating everything this would entail. It requires a move. Indeed, a move to another country, but this was the primary reason I was interested in the position. I wondered too about this blog, and how I’d continued now that I’m working proper. That seems quite pathetic now, but what can I say?

About an hour later I decided to check my email, and found I’d received a message from the girl whom I’m to replace (one of the interviewers). She’s returning home and I was to discuss with her the contract and visa details and so forth. However, the content of the message was not what I’d been lead to expect.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do the interview I really appreciate it. I’m really sorry but unfortunatley we won’t be able to offer you the position.

As you can understand, I’m quite pissed about this. To be told my interview wasn’t successful would have been disappointing but nothing I’m not used to. To be told, however, that I am getting the job – only for that to be taken back – is downright infuriating. I’ve sent many emails this morning trying to find out where I stand, but so far nobody has gotten back to me.

Perhaps my judgement is clouded as I’m still quite angry, but right now I’m certain this is the worst thing that anyone has ever done to me.

11
Sep
09

Wheel spinning hamster dead

I see our Alan has a new webcomic (clicky). I like it. The humour is similar to Looseville (which is a good thing), but it has a very different, and very fresh, style. I like the title too (In all honesty, I was never sold on “Looseville”)

09
Sep
09

Lies and the liars who tell them

I was in the Post Office this morning when I happened upon a remarkable piece of literature. It’s a newspaper titled The Sovereign Independent (which strikes me as a bit redundant), and just to give you an idea as to its content, the splash story is headlined: “The vote to end ALL VOTES.”

Yes, this is a paper dedicated to highlighting the evils of the Lisbon treaty. “Creating fear” is the charge the splash article levels at proponents of the treaty, claiming, “in the midst of the economic crisis, they are confident that people are afraid enough to vote on something they haven’t read.” Just to remind you, the headline of this article is “the vote to end all votes”, suggesting this is not a referendum so much as the plot to The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer. There’s only one side that can be accused of creating fear here.

The totalitarian talk continues within. There’s a piece on the prevalence of the EU flag. Apparently it’s “popping up like swastikas”. On our cars and on our money! “This is just another example of tip-toe totalitarianism.” I could go on but you get the idea. The best part for me is the back page, which contains a piece explaining the paper’s purpose. “We are a non-partisan newspaper and we only publish facts and not personal opinions.” Yes, much like the facts I’ve just highlighted.

It goes on: “We are at the most important historical point in all Irelands history, indeed in the history of the world – because we are being presented with the biggest assault on our liberty since independence.” You might recognise this as opinion, not fact, and might I add lousy, lousy grammar. The next paragraph tells us: “The vast majority of the European people do not want to live under the Lisbon Treaty any more than the Irish do.” How do they know? Did they ask them all (this really is Michael Rimmer stuff)? Again, opinion, not fact.

Here are some more facts. The front page story also says of the Yes side: “These are the same politicians who encouraged borrowing, who created the housing bubble, and who recently bailed out the banks at the tax-payer’s [seemingly just one tax-payer] expense.” Yes, except the housing bubble was a blunder of the FF-PD coalition. All major parties excluding Sinn Féin are supporting the treaty, and the shinners are simply reverting to the standard anti-EU stance, so we might easily exclude them. Also, this is a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, not a survey on how well the government handled the economy.

This is why I’m voting yes. I look to the No side for a rational argument and I see science fiction plots instead. Cóir have put up posters in my town (I assume they’re elsewhere) stating: “€200 million lost in fisheries. Farming is next.” Notice the absolute language used. They don’t even bother employing the Fox News trick of posing it as a question: “Is farming next?” Either Cóir are somehow privy to the EU’s agricultural plans, or they’re just trying to scare us into voting no.

Anyway, to change the subject completely, I’m off to bed now as I have an early start. I have an interview in the morning. An actual interview! I’d almost forgotten what those are.

07
Sep
09

I’m voting No ’cause Lisbon won’t sort out that rattling sound in my engine

With the Lisbon II campaign officially under way, it’s been interesting to see who’s been crying for a no vote, and why. First off, there are a lot of empty seats at the back. Amazingly, the bauld Ganley has seemingly kept his promise to stay out of it should Libertas do badly in the European elections. I didn’t expect that. I thought we’d have every media outlet in the country saturated with his opinions (if perhaps through proxies). Perhaps working with Libertas really was a miserable experience for all involved.

Also marked by his absence this time around is Kevin Myers. Not a word has he devoted to Lisbon in his Indo column; odd given is highly vocal objections last year. I don’t recall all his arguments, but I happen to know his main objection was the possibility of Turkey (ie, a Muslim country) joining the EU. I know this because he told me so in conversation (I interviewed him for my thesis). Now he didn’t say it was ok to quote him on this, but he didn’t indicate he was speaking off the record either so I assume he doesn’t mind me repeating it here. Given recent tirades against immigration, one must assume he hasn’t changed his mind. There’s time for him to speak up yet.

Other no-shows include Ulick, seemingly rendered too shy in the presence of Sinn Féin supporters. As such, the campaign for a No vote has been largely left to the Shinners, those wicked cunts in Cóir and Joe Higgins’ socialists. There are others of course, such as Unite breaking ranks with their fellow trade-unions, but for the sake of clarity let’s say these three are the golden trinity of naysayers. Of these Joe appears to have adopted the mantle of the No side’s grandmaster. Last year he was waxing lyrical about Europe’s military industrial complex. I saw him at a public debate in Trim with Ganley and Dick Roche and a few other vested interests. When it was Joe’s turn to speak he banged on with is best Jim Larkin impression, shoutin’ and roarin’ like a mad thing about profits made by European arms manufacturers, and getting only nervous sideway-glances in response. This time his argument is more measured, complaining that anti-worker rulings by the European Court of Justice will be copper-fastened under the treaty.

His claim seems to have formed the No side’s central argument. And honestly, I don’t have the wherewithal to challenge it. I’ll allow more learned men to fight this case. However, I must challenge Higgins’ apparent concern that “the reality is that Lisbon grants no new rights for workers”. Why would it? We might as well complain that it doesn’t say anything about fighting pollution, it doesn’t control John O’Donoghue’s spending, and it doesn’t force a videogame company to release Duke Nukem Forover. The Lisbon treaty’s charge is surely the numerous organs of the EU, ensuring they work efficiently together. It is these organs that ensure workers rights, and Lisbon facilities that. Now we can complain about ideology and ECJ rulings ‘til the cows come home, but if we take the EU as a whole I think most will agree Irish workers have benefited from it.