Can We Arrest Property Speculators Now Please?

Quality and Cost of Services Concerns
Investors to sue Financial Regulator for recklessly letting them do whatever they wanted to do.

“An organisation representing property investors and developers is to take a class action in the High Court against the Government, the Financial Regulator and the banks over their roles in the collapse of the property market.” ~ The Times again.

I’d be all for suing the banks. If we weren’t all liable for their debts now, making it just a little self-defeating. But how do property investors get to sue them? These were the ones trying to make money out of house prices magically going up forever. The only people they should have a right to sue are their parents, for breeding them too stupid to breathe and tie their shoes at the same time.

Ah, because the banks lent recklessly. True – though this does overlook the fact that the people they were lending recklessly too were the property investors who were borrowing recklessly. It’s the alcoholic’s justification: they didn’t drink too much. They were over-served.

Having destroyed our economy with their bare-bollocked, dribble-soaked avarice, property speculators have decided that they were the real victims here. So once we’ve finished selling our hospitals to pay off foreign banks, they want whatever’s left.

At what point does it become legal to hunt these people down with dogs?

Libyan Rebels ‘Undemocratic’

History of Fine Gael

Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin thinks that the rebels in Libya should not be supported because, as quoted in the Times, they “did not follow democratic means. They took up arms against their leader.”

I will allow you a moment to take that in.

The rebels against Gaddafi should not be supported because they… are rebels.

Fine Gael, the party of obedience.

I wonder what democratic means she supposes are open to the inhabitants of a dictatorship – other than the one of mass protest, which I think we can safely say was exhausted when he started shooting them.

There are many clear reasons to be against intervention in the Libyan uprising, and they must be weighed against the good it might possibly do. I outlined what I think is the most important one days ago. There are even reasons why it might be wrong to rise up against Gaddafi. But his being the legally constituted dictator for life according to the constitution which he wrote personally, that is not one of them.

You idiot.

Save The Senate

This is a photograph of the Seanad chamber, Le...
What our Senate might look like with the useless scum removed

There could be no better image of all that’s wrong with the Senate than Ivor Calelly contemptuously abusing the house to save his own political career. No wonder the public has no respect for it when so many of its denizens were dumped there, in what the parties seem to think of as long-stay parking.

This is a great shame. Though as presently constituted the Seanad is, let’s face it, a pustule, what we need in this country is more oversight of the executive, not less. It may be little better at this than the rubber-stamping Dáil, but it is a little.

The Senate has some great strengths. You can get into it without really being a career politician, without being slave to the party whips. We could use more of that, you know. The Senate has – or had – people like Shane Ross and David Norris.

Want a simple way to reform the Seanad? End the Taoiseach‘s right to stuff it with useless lackeys. Skim off the political pond scum.

Save The Senate

This is a photograph of the Seanad chamber, Le...
What our Senate might look like with the useless scum removed

There could be no better image of all that’s wrong with the Senate than Ivor Calelly contemptuously abusing the house to save his own political career. No wonder the public has no respect for it when so many of its denizens were dumped there, in what the parties seem to think of as long-stay parking.

This is a great shame. Though as presently constituted the Seanad is, let’s face it, a pustule, what we need in this country is more oversight of the executive, not less. It may be little better at this than the rubber-stamping Dáil, but it is a little.

The Senate has some great strengths. You can get into it without really being a career politician, without being slave to the party whips. We could use more of that, you know. The Senate has – or had – people like Shane Ross and David Norris.

Want a simple way to reform the Seanad? End the Taoiseach‘s right to stuff it with useless lackeys. Skim off the political pond scum.

The Right To Employ People

Differences in national income equality around...
Inequality - Apparently There's Not Enough Of It

I just heard someone called Jackie Lavin on the Pat Kenny radio show say that unemployment benefits interfere with “the employer’s right to employ people”. That’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? I remember when right-wing lunatics used to just call social welfare an interference in the sacred free market. Now it’s an abrogation of their rights. They are actually being oppressed by social welfare.

I hadn’t known that the wealthy had any special rights – at least not officially – but according to her, one of them is to have other people be poorer so that they’re more affordable. That’s kind of mind-blowing, isn’t it? The rich have a right to poor people. It makes a strange Zen-like sense.

This Jackie Lavin is on the radio because she’s a “Business Personality”, best known for appearing in the Irish version of The Apprentice as mentor to her real-world business and life partner Bill Cullen. Also, for appearing in and writing for glossy Hello!-style magazines, like the one owned by Bill Cullen. He’s an entrepreneur, Fianna Fáil donor and I suppose our nearest equivalent to Donald Trump. These are important people then.

Why not apply this entertainment paradigm to the country as a whole? If the unemployed don’t shape up, we can fire them from their homes – from the whole country indeed. ‘Firing’ is much sexier than that dated emigration idea.

I mean. Fuck this.

Michael Lowry Is A Corrupt Politician

Esat Digifone logo
"Jesus But Didn't We Make Some Money"

There, it felt good to say that. Of course he is far from alone, it almost seems unfair to single him out, but because of our wealth-favouring libel laws it’s not often you can actually come out and name one of the bastards.

Today I can, because a judicial body, the Moriarty Tribunal, says it is beyond doubt that Michael Lowry, when Fine Gael minister for transport, energy and communications, gave “substantive information to Denis O’Brien, of significant value and assistance to him in securing the licence”.

The licence they speak of was for the country’s second GSM mobile phone network in 1996, the biggest contract ever awarded by the State to a private company. Denis O’Brien’s Esat consortium won, even though by proper procedures their bid would have come third. In a transaction which the Tribunal concludes was not unrelated, Minister Lowry was given a huge wad of cash. And when that licence was later sold to British multinational BT, Denis O’Brien made more money than you will ever even be shown a picture of.

Lowry CartoonInterestingly, while the Tribunal’s report calls this “a cynical and venal abuse of office”, it doesn’t actually call the act corrupt. I refuse to be so mealy-mouthed. If he cynically and venally abused office, if he received money in consideration for bending the rules to favour the giver, then Michael Lowry is as crooked as a snake with stomach cramps.

Moriarty does use the word corrupt with reference to an unrelated deal between Lowry and another tycoon, Ben Dunne (most famous for giving an unexplained million or two to former Taoiseach C. J. Haughey). Dunne reacted with outrage, saying that if they wanted to call him corrupt then they should put him in jail.

Denis O’Brien likes to emphasise how much money the State has wasted on trying to catch him. The Irish Times puts the final costs of the Moriarty Tribunal at over €100,000,000, though O’Brien has set up his own site to lie about and exaggerate the figure. It’s even got a picture of the gates of Dublin Castle on it, so it gives the impression of being official. That’s how crap the man is.

He is right though. As is Ben Dunne. The money spent on the Tribunal has been wasted. It will remain wasted until he and his fellow corrupt and corrupting businessmen are safely behind bars, along with the politicians they paid for.

Paddywackery – or, How Comics Changed My Life

The local shop I mentioned is a goldmine. Today I found that they sell a thing called paddywack. As a dog food. What the…?

It turns out the original meaning of “paddywack” is the large ligament that runs down the back of a grazing animal’s neck. The word is from the Old English paxwax, meaning something like “hair grow”. Because longer hair grows along the neck ridge of some animals, perhaps? By being highly elastic, this ligament makes it easier for the beast to raise its head. When dried, it makes a chewy treat for dogs.

So a whole other meaning for a word I thought of merely as a mild ethnic slur – that at least was my impression since childhood, when a strip of the same name in the British Comic Cheeky Weekly used to encourage readers to send in their Irish jokes. The whole comic indeed was packed with race and gender stereotype gags – and what’s worse, pointlessly awful puns. Such were the 1970s; vertiginous now to see that stuff again.

I didn’t find most of this funny even as a child. And yet, I liked the comic. It had a vivacity you didn’t see before, it messed with conventions and introduced elements of metafiction. Each issue had a single framing story, with characters commenting on the other strips, even moving in and out of them. And I guess it helped that it featured a sexy crossing guard called Lily Pop; I was getting to that sort of age. If Barry Cryer had written a kids’ comic – albeit on a bad day – it might have come out something like this.

Now that I look this stuff up I’m reminded that Cheeky Weekly had an even weirder progenitor, Krazy comic. I don’t think most of the strips in Krazy worked really. As the name suggests it was self-consciously way-out and wacky, and kids are quite sensitive to straining for effect. What compensated were the interstitial gags packed into it – comments between panels or as background graffiti, flick-book animations in corners. It was aiming I think to be something like a junior Mad magazine.

And I think this in turn may have been partly inspired by the comic that influenced me the most – Sparky. It was not an outstanding example perhaps, but it had one thing that really got me: the flat-out metafiction of a strip about the people who supposedly created the comic. They were in it… But making it… In it… The contradictions beguiled my mind. My own first comic strip, started I think while I was still 11, was pretty much a straight rip-off of this idea, and it must be at least partly responsible for a lifelong fascination with philosophical concepts like self-referentiality, recursion and nested realities. My mature (?) comic strip work rarely resisted opportunities to tell stories within stories – or indeed, stories within each other. My first long strip, which was also my degree dissertation, took place within a reality that only existed in the mind of God – but within which, God existed.

Come on, I was in college.

Well that turned into an unexpected ramble; from doggy treats to comic theology. It seems though that in the process I’ve accidentally written a response to this lovely blog post by Lisa “SwearyLady” McInerney. Yeah, comics were an important early influence in my life. For me it’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, and The Sparky People.