The Trucking Election

So Joseph McNamara, the guy who pushed his cement truck up to the front gates of the Dáil, says he’s going to run in Galway West. Fair play to him, he’s determined to get in there one way or another.

I’m really in favour of protesting candidates standing up and driving the party drones out of the next Dáil. People with real grievances should demonstrate that yes, they can do a better job than those idiots.

But dammit, bankrupt property developers are not exactly what I was hoping for.


Taoiseach Announces Decision to Not Make Decision

It was a very Irish event.

I got a text warning of Cowen’s press conference while driving, so by the time I could read it there was only ten minutes left. It sounds like almost sitcom contrivance, but both the stereo in the car and the sound card on my computer are out of action. My phone of course only gets radio when you haven’t lost the headphones. I had to find a pub with TV in the next small country town, fast.

The first two I tried were crowded with people watching sports on satellite channels. I didn’t fancy my chances of getting them to switch over to our glorious leader. The third though was empty. No customers, no TV – I wasn’t sure if there was even anyone minding the place. A big funeral was going on at the undertakers’ right next door, maybe they were all at that. But miracle of miracles, there was a little old radio on – a transistor radio, I almost want to call it. And the Taoiseach himself was speaking, though in such vague terms that I wasn’t able to tell at first whether I’d missed anything important.

Then out came the little old radio owner, a lady I could barely see over the bar. She asked me what I wanted and I told her I’d like a coffee. She couldn’t make out what I was saying so she started to turn the radio down. It took a while to explain that I’d actually come in to listen to it. Then she didn’t have any coffee. “Or anyone to make it,” whatever she meant by that. I asked for a Coke instead, so she took down a Pepsi and went looking for a bottle opener. As she hunted back and forth the FM reception faded in and out.

Two old lads came in from the funeral, eager to hear the speech too. They asked me if he was going or not. “Damned if I can tell,” was my reply. It was not until the announcer summed things up after that I finally got the gist. He’s putting a “Back Me or Sack Me¹” motion to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party on Tuesday. So the Taoiseach actually called a press conference to announce that there was no news and that he had not made a decision – a first that, surely. Instead it would be up to his TDs.

Could we not just vote instead? It would save an awful lot of time and trouble to skip to the inevitable conclusion. Ah, but that would mean Fianna Fáil leaving power before they’d finished sharing the country out among themselves. And what is politics for after all if not looting?

What amuses me is trying to picture FF’s internal machinations. Clearly just about every one of them wants Cowen to go in the hope that it will save their seat. (It almost certainly won’t, but it’s the only hope they’ve got.) However, there isn’t one among them who wants to lead the party into what is virtually certain to be its greatest ever electoral defeat. So they all want someone else to do the ousting. You can see them, can’t you? Furiously playing a game of Pass The Poison Chalice. This leads to political acrobatics of the first order, as prominent party members deny in public that they want the Taoiseach’s job, while hinting to their colleagues that they might be willing to take on the Taoiseach’s job, while secretly not actually wanting the Taoiseach’s job.

What strange times, when politicians are forced into inadvertent honesty. It would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so depressing. To cheer you up then, here is some footage of cats in space.

  1. “…Or Crack Me”, as someone on Twitter creatively added.

A Golf Game and a Massacre

It is an absurd conspiracy theory. I do not believe for a moment that any deal was made on a golf course between the Taoiseach and Sean Fitzpatrick of Anglo-Irish Bank. It’s ridiculous to hold up this chance encounter as the smoking gun that proves they were in cahoots.

You don’t need meetings to work out which side bread is buttered on. Cogs in a machine don’t have to talk to each other. Government had been working in the interests of Anglo-Irish in particular and reckless property speculation in general for years before that. That was where all the money was coming from. The money that was keeping them in power. Not to mention the percentage that was finding its way into their own personal lives, apparently by sheer osmosis. The reason we need to get Fianna Fáil out of government forever is not that Brian Cowen was a naughty boy. It’s because the whole FF political machine has become rotten to the core. There’s not much to add to that, so let us turn to the strange things going down in America.

Well I guess we’re not going to be using the phrase “grammar Nazi” so much in future.

When someone attempts to kill a Democrat Congresswoman, especially in this brittle political climate, the natural assumption is that they’re a gun-hugging Tea Party extremist. Confusingly however, Loughner appears to be just a plain nut. One must be careful not to blacken the name of the insane – he has not, it seems, ever been diagnosed with a mental illness – but his personal ravings have that familiar paranoid sound.

Which is sort of a disappointment really. When someone goes on a killing spree it would be nice to have an explanation. We want something bigger and more important than one young man’s distorted fantasies to share the blame. The weird upshot of this being that Loughner’s insanity actually seems to make him more personally responsible.

But as no one is obviously to blame, everyone is going to blame everyone. Loughner provided plenty material for this; his book collection covered the gamut from the Communist Manifesto to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, allowing any pundit of any stripe to construct the story of their choice. I have no doubt at all that someone is going to look straight into a TV camera and say that Loughner shot the Democratic Governor because he is a liberal. Probably on Fox.

Indeed if anyone other than the shooter himself can bear any of the blame here, it must be Fox News. Not because it’s the station that promotes right-wing demagoguery, but because it’s the station that promotes paranoia. Fox likes to claim it’s just responding to a liberal bias in the other television networks. (Funny how the didn’t seem liberal until Fox came along.) If they do have such a bias though, it is the one that most educated Americans have, invested in the progress and improvement of their own country. Rupert Murdoch’s investment is a financial one only. He came to the well of American public discourse and saw that he could make a buck out of poisoning it.

By the way, has it ever struck you how all of Fox’s main conservative hate-makers – Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity – have a Catholic or an Irish background? I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it disturbs me.

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