Archive for September, 2009



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.

02
Sep
09

Lisbon and nutjobs

It seems Fianna Fáil’s Lisbon II campaign has begun in earnest. This I can tell as the FF press office has been cramming my inbox with spam since 7:00 yesterday evening. I suppose I should find this annoying, but in all honesty it’s kinda flattering that they apparently give a fuck about me. I even got an invite to this morning’s press conference launch with Cowen. I didn’t go. It wasn’t worth the trip, but it was nice to be asked.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this John Burke lad. He’s the cattleman (sounds like a rejected concept for a west Irish superhero) who’s suing the Taoiseach and the state as he claims a second referendum is unconstitutional. I can understand why Mr Burke might feel peeved, having (presumably) voted no only to be told he must have another go. Nonetheless, it’s ridiculous that this has reached the High Court. None of the articles I’ve read on this said if Burke has hired a solicitor or if he’s presenting the case himself, but he must have gotten some legal advice. Surely somebody in the know must have said this is a bad idea.

Now I’m no lawyer and my reading of the constitution has been brief at best, but surely there nothing in it that states a rejected constitutional reform cannot be tested again at a later date. The Constitution aside, precedent allows for a second vote.

There are hundreds of gobshites like John Burke out there infuriated by some perceived injustice. Aren’t there some mechanisms in place to prevent these guys from wasting the state’s resources?