Categories
Politics Sport

Ireland 16 – New Zealand 9. A New Metaphor for Brexit.

God, we needed that.

For so many reasons we needed to beat New Zealand but not least, may I submit, as an antidote to all this Brexit bullshit we’ve been enduring for what seems like the last fifty years.

We needed our boys to make a statement on that field at Lansdowne Road — I will never use the A-word when referring to that place — and by Jesus they stood up and gave the world a big, loud message.

It’s over. We’re no longer satisfied with being second. We’re here and it’s time to get used to us.

Oddly, this is the same message we’ve sent out in regard to Brexit, to the utter incomprehension of the smug, superior Tory toffs who have been goading Britain over the cliff edge for the last two years. How ironic that this is  the centenary of the bloodbath when the Brexiteers’ antecedents goaded poor British people over the walls of the trenches in France and Belgium to be slaughtered.

Our message to them? Precisely the same: We’re here, it’s time to get used to us and no, we don’t do what you tell us. Ireland’s victory in rugby demonstrates a different kind of independence. A new, self-confident freedom that doesn’t rely on anyone else to define it and that doesn’t exist in opposition to anything.

New Zealand’s captain, Kieran Read, to his credit, came straight out after the game and said “They were better than us”. No bullshit. No messing around. Just a straight acknowledgement that a superior opponent prevailed on the day.

Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Fromage, the cheesy con-man of Europe, on the other hand, trapped in a centuries-old bubble of incomprehension, aren’t quite able to process the ugly fact that the annoying neighbours refuse to do as they’re told, no matter how plummy the vowels one adopts.

Can you believe that Nadine Dorries (MP!!!) is today complaining that Theresa May’s deal with the EU means Britain will no longer have any MEPs or EU commissioners?

That is the  level of stupidity that exists within the British governing party.

Imagine leaving the EU and having no MEPs. Who’d have guessed?  That is the level of crass ignorance we have to endure every day in this country when we listen to the ruling party of our nearest neighbours and that is something we have finally decided to stop engaging with.

We have decided to move on, be the adults in the room and let the toddlers at the other end of the playschool slap each other. Let the parents take over. They’re not our problem.

Yes, they’ll leave a mess, but we’ve cleaned up messes before and we’ll get this place nice and tidy too, when the playschool management decide enough is enough and they’re no longer prepared to put up with ill-mannered brats.

There’s too much talk these days about existential issues. When I was a lad, existentialism was all about trying to look moody and interesting while reading French authors you didn’t really understand or enjoy. But these days, everyone likes to warn us about existential crises and I don’t like it. An existential crisis should involve being unshaven, wearing a vest and smoking a Gauloise. It should not be about countries collapsing.

Let me make a prediction, which as everyone knows, will probably be wrong, but why break the habit of a lifetime?

I predict that even if the Tories completely fuck up Brexit and crash out of the EU, we here in Ireland will be just fine after a bit of a bumpy ride.

Britain will try, disastrously, to trade on WTO rules, the only country in the world to do so.

They’ll quickly run out of Mars bars and mushy peas.

Spain will send all their train robbers back home.

Provence will eject all their authors manqué.

And then, after a few months of food riots, they’ll apply to rejoin an EU they didn’t understand in the first place, even though it was their idea.

They’ll be refused of course but we’ll welcome them into the new Irish Commonwealth, as long as they accept our rules. And they’ll have to wear a green shirt when they play New Zealand.

We’re decent like that.

Categories
Politics

Brexit, the Christmas Panto

I’ve decided to resign as Brexit Secretary.

And yes, before you point it out, I realise I never had the job in the first place. It’s just that so many people are resigning from it, I was feeling a bit left out. Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t I?

It’s like those pointless interrogations you got from your parents when you did something stupid.

Why did you do that?

Tommy did it first.

Did he now? And if Tommy resigned from Theresa May’s cabinet, would you do the same?

It’s not easy to be serious about this Brexit nonsense. The neighbours are at it again and Ireland does its best not to twitch the curtains as they squabble, but it’s hard to muffle the sniggering at their antics. Don’t annoy them, though, or they’ll be back over here starting fights like they used to do in the past, and they’re no strangers to a punch-up. Best to just wave politely and compliment their mangy pit-bull when they kick over your wheelie-bin.

Nice doggie.

Who could ever understand the role of this Raab fellow in the latest debacle? As the Secretary for Keeping Johnny Foreigner Out, he seems a little conflicted, given that he himself is the son of a refugee fleeing persecution, but besides that, what exactly has he been doing all this time? Did he not know what his own officials were negotiating and agreeing? Where was he during all these talks?

Was the shock of discovering that Britain does quite a lot of trade with the EU a bit more than his delicate constitution could bear?

What happened? Did some Foreign Office functionary hand him a briefcase marked Top Secret Draft Agreement With Johnny Foreigner? And when he opened it, did a spring-loaded clown jump out and punch him on the nose?

Seriously. How is it possible to be the Secretary in charge of an agreement on Brexit and at precisely the same time, not know what’s in the fucking agreement your officials have drawn up after months of effort?

Why didn’t Dominic Raab resign weeks ago when he first got wind of this heinous betrayal of all he stands for? Oh, wait. Stop. He’s a Tory. There was a time when they used to stand for things – some of them pretty horrible things, but at least they were things. Ah, but that was long ago. That was before Boris invented bendy bananas. That was before Moggy named his sixth son Sixtus, nestled snugly, no doubt, between Quintus and Septimus. That was before a putrefying sack of medical waste somehow fermented, began to speak and became Nigel Farage.

Gah!

What a crowd of idiots these condescending, supercilious Tories are.

I urge my fellow Irish citizens not to be provoked by the patronising tone of people like Jacob Rees-Mogg. Let us rise above their jibes and their sneers and instead let us remember our countless friends among the ordinary British people who have nothing in common with Beano characters like Moggsy and Boris who stand to make billions from a collapse of the British economy.

Let us stand by our British friends and guarantee that if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead, we are ready to send those food parcels and those medical supplies.

We will accept refugees. We’ll pick them up in the sea, wrap them in tin-foil and feed them emergency rations of mushy peas.

We will not be found wanting.

And as for our Northern brethren, we won’t be bitter. Even when they travel to Dublin for a soccer match, waving a flag of the Parachute Regiment, we’ll rise above it.

We’ll feed them on confectionery of two kinds. We’ll offer them the cake they don’t want to have even though it’s better than the cake everyone else is getting because, you know the people of Ulster …

And if they don’t like that, we’ll offer them the cake of gay marriage.

Hold on. The Roman Catholic South must be dominated by gay-hating, anti-abortion religious extremists.

Isn’t  that right, Sammy?

Aye, Stratton. It is, surely.

Well, maybe not, boys but never mind.  We’ll find a pair of knickers for Sammy next time he goes wondering on a beach, sans culottes. We’re good like that.

Let me be honest with you. It would be a lie if I claimed we’re not enjoying a sense of schadenfreude at our neighbours’ discomfiture, but who wouldn’t? Suddenly, the UK has turned into the Jeremy Kyle show on a world stage and who doesn’t like watching dysfunctional families beating each other up on afternoon TV?

Come on. Brexit is even funnier than Trump and that’s not an easy act to pull off, but if Brexit is the panto, who’s the Dame? There’s no shortage of candidates, from Boris Johnson to Jacob Rees-Mogg, but I’ll tell you one thing. When the children shout Look out behind you, just hope you don’t turn around to find it’s Farage gurning at you while waving a pint of best British beer.

 

Categories
Politics

Candidates, Clowns and Ambition — What Really Motivates Peter Casey?

In a fit of whimsy tonight, I fell to pondering on the origins of terms like ambition and candidate, two words that are very much to the front of our minds in recent years.

Naturally, of course, we can’t help thinking about the current clown show that we in Ireland laughingly refer to as a presidential contest, but let’s not forget the procession of dangerous buffoons cavorting in the Big Top of the world’s circus these days. Compared to these mountebanks, our own transitory pretenders might seem like nothing but shabby court jesters, fit for little but to free a blackbird from a pie or to wring a grudging scowl from some trouser-patched monarch of piss-stinking back alley, some lord of mangy scrapyard hounds, some king of half-wit drunkards.

Forget them, you might snort, and it would be hard not to disagree with you.

After all, we have genuinely evil clowns to fear and with good reason, but I don’t need to tell anyone that. Even without the orange buffoon in Washington and his collection of fawning sycophants, there’s plenty left to go around, from Boris the Tousled to Viktor Orbán in Hungary,  the sort of clown who files his teeth and lurks in rainwater gulleys under streets. We have AfD in Germany, we had actual Nazis in Sweden running for government and we have another real-life Nazi as Austria’s prime minister. Besides that, let us not forget Kaczynski’s puppet government in Poland. The Law and Justice party  — a bunch of populists who have completely forgotten the lessons of history, or perhaps learned them too well.

They’re everywhere and they’re all trading on a seductive cocktail of fear, lies and populism. Everywhere except here, isn’t that right? Everywhere except the sainted isle of Ireland.

Sainted? Didn’t we legalise same-sex marriage in the face of bigotry from the likes of the Iona Institute?

We did indeed, fair play to us.

And didn’t we get rid of that pernicious constitutional ban on abortion, foisted on us thirty-five years ago by a sanctimonious bunch of statue-nibblers?

We sure did, to the great surprise of many, including myself. I thought we’d be another half century defeating these god-botherers.

What’s more, aren’t we about to eliminate the crime of blasphemy, thereby exorcising the malevolent ghosts of John Charles McQuaid and his satanic master, Paul Cullen?

Correct. It’s true. We are, and just before Hallowe’en at that. McQuaid’s chains must be rattling in whatever foul cave his shade inhabits.

Why then the word sainted?

Well, you see, it seems to me that in ridding ourselves of the old shackles, we’re in danger of clamping new ones on our wrists and ankles. Indeed, it seems to me that we’re busy introducing the New Blasphemy, a prohibition on thought and expression that will be policed just as ardently by our tolerant, liberal, well-meaning friends and colleagues as the old blasphemy ever was by angry young thugs in clerical cassocks or by grumpy old Civil War fossils in the Dáil. And yes, I know nobody has been prosecuted for the Old Blasphemy, but it’s also true that Ireland has only recently emerged from a cultural blockade as severe as anything Hoxha imposed on Albania. And it’s true that anyone who failed to conform to the old authoritarian Ireland was ground down and silenced.

It’s inevitable that the pendulum will swing the other way, but we need to be on our guard unless we inadvertently open the door to demagogues, hate-mongers and right-wing opportunists waiting for a toe-hold in this country, just as they have done everywhere else. Let’s not clap ourselves on the back just yet. Instead, take a look at what has happened to reasonable, tolerant Denmark before telling ourselves it couldn’t happen here.

We have made a mistake by rendering some issues taboo and in doing so we have left the door off the latch for those who lurk in the bushes.

It was plain stupidity to call Peter Casey a racist for articulating what a lot of perplexed people in Ireland were asking: is a stable for your horses really a human right? Casey should never have been given the space to present himself as a victim, but that’s what the New Blasphemy achieved, by shutting down reasonable voices who were reluctant to draw condemnation on themselves or risk being branded racists. That’s what happens when a subject is off-limits: the field is left open to fear-mongers who care nothing about being branded as bigots.

This has always been the modus operandi of extreme intolerance. Begin with a proposition that many people are in tune with to some extent and escalate from that point to the outrageous in gradual, incremental steps, each time pushing the limits of outrage until decent people become accustomed to something they would have found abhorrent not so long ago.

That’s what Trump is doing right now and who can say where he’ll finish?

I mentioned at the start that I was thinking about the origins of terms like ambition and candidate.

In ancient Rome, ambitus, from which we get the word ambition, was a crime. It meant trying to influence the results of an election, either through plain bribery or by other means, and was severely frowned upon. It was his ambition that led to Julius Caesar’s murder by Brutus and his co-conspirators if my hazy memory of the great play is correct. In truth, it meant nothing more than ward-heeling, clientelism and cute-hoorism. If Caesar was in Irish politics today, he’d be having a quiet word with the Council about your over-sized extension, promising to get that bathroom for your uncle and tipping you off about the new by-pass in case you were planning to sell that parcel of land too soon.

Who would that remind you of?

Of course, on a larger scale, it meant Gallic wars, Rhine-crossing, invasions of Britain and eventually, Rubicon-crossing. Not to mention becoming dictator for life. Who does that remind you of?

Now, a candidate was an ambitious fellow who went around his ambit, perambulating, so to speak while wearing a candida, or white robe, signifying purity. Somebody with nothing to hide. A perfectly candid candidate who wouldn’t dream of lying or manipulating anyone.

Not much changes over the centuries, and so, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, we arrive back at Peter Casey.

Peter is not a fool, whatever else you might think of him and therefore the first word that jumps to mind is Why?

Why does a man who has only 2% approval in the polls insist that he will win the Presidency?

Why would he agonise about pulling out of the race over the hurtful accusations of racism thrown at him but then relent, having consulted  his advisers (whoever they might be)?

Why would someone who claims to be a man of action, a doer, a decision-maker, wish to occupy a role that is largely ceremonial, with no executive power and little enough hard responsibility?

I can think of no logical answer unless Peter Casey’s ambition exceeds his candour. Unless he is simply testing the political temperature of Ireland, calibrating the right-wing gauge by seeing how much bounce he can achieve in the approval ratings as a result of mud-slinging and fear-mongering.

It’s hard to see what purpose this ludicrous campaign could serve other than to act as a feeler for the sinister authoritarian movements currently flexing their muscles all over Europe.

Why would Ireland be any different?

 

Categories
Politics

Presidential Campaign

Miggledy is going to win.

Let’s get that out of the way before we say anything else.

Miggledy has this wrapped up and the clown show that’s opposing him can do nothing about it, so what’s left to talk about?

Well, I suppose we could talk about the assorted no-hopers who somehow persuaded themselves and various county councillors that anyone would care what they had to say. We could talk about what drives people like Sean Gallagher, Peter Casey and Gavin Duffy.

Is it cynicism? Is it as tawdry as wanting this on their CVs next time they go hustling for business in the USA? Presidential candidate.

Or is it something else? Something that might be called ambition but should probably be called crass stupidity.

It’s hard to know which of the three male candidates is most irritating.

Sean Gallagher seems to have a natural gift for looking annoying, like some overgrown chest-burster who’s just gnawed his way through a crew-member’s ribcage in a spray of blood and offal, screeching empty platitudes at anyone foolish enough to stray too close to those razor teeth. Will he grow into a nine-foot killing machine with molecular acid for blood? Only time will tell.

Sean hand-delivered a letter of complaint to Miggledy in the Phoenix Park the other night, dripping saliva in the bushes outside the Áras as Miggledy paced his study floor, reciting stanzas from his favourite Inuit poet in an impressive assortment of accents. A candelabra cast his heroic flickering shadow on the blinds while Sean chewed on a small furry mammal, grunting foul imprecations as he hefted the half brick his letter was wrapped around.

What a shame nobody told him about this thing called a postal service. But Sean believes his own bullshit.

michael d higgins

Gavin Duffy, on the other hand, doesn’t quite carry such an air of tight-sprung menace. He looks more like that genial guy you used to know in school. That lad whose father put up the money to buy him a pair of record decks because books weren’t really his thing and it was either that or get a real job. The next time you met him, he was fronting a night-club for some rich alcoholic, leasing a second-hand BMW Z4 and sporting a brand-new accent that he caught in a tanning parlour. Nowadays he does some sort of property consultancy and he mixes with the social elite, or what passes for a social elite in your town: auctioneers and fast-buck money advisers. They all have the sunbed accent too.

Gavin would remind you a bit of that guy. The grin, the patter and most of all, the fact that he believes his own bullshit.

Peter Casey is harder to figure. He seems to be a genuine businessman and he seems to have made actual money for himself, which isn’t an indicator of anything in particular, I realise, except some primitive instinct to make money. But on the other hand, he seems to be as ill-informed about the nature of the Presidency as his two fellow Dragons, and equally prone to mouthing aspirational nonsense about what he would do if elected.

Casey, apparently, doesn’t believe in feminism. He spent a long time in America and thinks we have somebody called the First Lady. He says that when he’s in the Áras he’ll put his wife in charge of women’s things while he gets on with the important man-things, presumably things like jump-starting the presidential limo and whipping the flunkeys for failing to polish the silver.

Peter doesn’t like being challenged. He’s quick to tell interviewers how insulted he feels at their impertinent questions, which would lead you to give thanks for two things. First, our President has no power to have anyone lined up against a wall and shot, but second, and more important, Peter hasn’t a snowball’s chance of getting elected, which at least gives him something in common with the other two bozos.

And just like the other lads, Peter believes his own bullshit.

I don’t know what drives Joan Freeman. She founded Pietà House and seems like a well-meaning soul, although it is a bit strange that she can’t remember ever having had anything to do with the Iona Institute, despite the fact that half her family seem to be members, two of them prominent campaigners for a No vote during the Eighth Amendment referendum campaign. Joan believes she was once miraculously cured of eczema at the Knock shrine. Joan also seems to believe that the Presidency should be about supporting mental health, thereby showing the same level of understanding as the three lads, though at least she does believe in something, unlike them.

Worryingly, Joan is Mattie McGrath’s preferred candidate and yes, I realise this is very shallow of me, but if Mattie McGrath was in favour of apple pie, I’d be ordering the rat salad.

At least Liadh Ní Riada of Sinn Féin has a coherent political agenda, even if it isn’t one that unites all of us.  Liadh says she’d wear a poppy, for the common good, even if some of her fellow party members don’t approve, which is very decent of her, though one uncharitable thought did cross my mind. Isn’t it a pity those Sinn Féin members who hold seats in Westminster didn’t take a similar view on the common good and use their votes to sink Brexit?

Without that economic and political calamity hanging over us, maybe we’d have more patience for the seven-year shit show that the presidential election cycle has turned into.

As we speak, the also-rans are at each other’s throats over some empty-headed tosh Casey uttered about Travellers and there are of course the predictable calls for him to drop out of the race, which would be a shame. After all, they’re diluting each other’s votes nicely here, although Casey’s 2% will hardly make much difference one way or the other when he’s ignominiously kicked out on the first count. He can go back to his millionairing, Gallagher can go back to eating people’s rib-cages, Duffy can go back to selling tickets for debs’ balls, Joan Freeman can go back to Iona and Liadh can go back to pretending we still have Articles 2 and 3 and wishing she’d never heard of the HPV vaccine.

Miggledy can go back to the Áras he never left and we can go back to pretending this didn’t happen.

Again.

___________________

[Seven years ago, this was the official Bock view on presidential elections.]

Categories
public transport

Bus Éireann dispute based on false business premise

Bus EireannWhy do we expect Bus Éireann to be a commercial entity?

After all, we don’t expect the fire brigade to generate a profit.

We don’t require our national police force to make money.

We don’t insist on the Coast Guard recording a handsome return year after year.

Why?

Because these are public services and we all agree that they exist for the common good, for the benefit of our society.

Why, then, would public transport be any different? Why are we talking about Bus Éireann, the company in danger of insolvency, instead of Bus Éireann, the grossly mismanaged public service?

And why do we focus on striking staff instead of looking closely at the antediluvian management practices that keep Bus Éireann and CIÉ as a whole, locked in the 1940s?

Yes, Bus Éireann is dysfunctional, and not just Bus Éireann but the entire CIÉ family. Anyone who has shivered at a November bus-stop knows about its casual disregard for timetables. Anyone who has raged on discovering that the bus left early understands the contempt some Bus Éireann staff have for the customers who pay their wages. Anyone who has been baffled by the fact that there’s only one way on and one way off a Dublin bus can see immediately that something fishy is at work here.

Why, almost uniquely in Europe, is it not possible to board an Irish bus without negotiating with the driver? Why are there no card-reading machines on our buses? Why can’t we board via a second door?

It’s insane, just as it’s insane that Bus Éireann’s customers, in an age of satellites, geo-tracking and downloadable apps can’t track the location of their next bus and find out at the flick of a phone how long they’ll have to wait.

Why?

Why is this?

Explain please.

One plausible explanation is that the old CIÉ attitudes pervade everything that happens in Bus Éireann.

It’s true that the drivers are militant and it’s true that their unions have always dominated the company and impeded every initiative tending to increase efficiency. But on the other hand, what is to be gained by management actively creating a crisis by presenting the workers with an ultimatum, based on a spurious premise? The company is not and will never be permitted to become insolvent. This is a State-owned company and it will not go broke, nor should it.

If the State could bail out banks that engaged in highly dubious activities, endangering the very foundations of our democracy, why would it not bail out a company that provides a public service to those who require it? Furthermore, if our commitment to the environment is to be credible, should we not be doing all in our power to offer an alternative to the private car?

It’s all nonsense.

Bus Éireann workers are on a cushy number and we can’t deny it. They’re well paid, but the answer is not to crush them. The answer is to mould an efficient transport system using the best logistical techniques available. If that means trampling on some cherished, established practices, well and good, but let’s not demonise the workers or the unions, even if those same unions treated the public with contempt by calling a lightning strike.

And let’s not allow Bus Éireann management to hold a gun to the heads of their employees when they themselves would not withstand professional scrutiny if subjected to examination by an external agency.

Finally, let us consider again our attitude to public transport.

Why does everything have to be subject to market forces? After all, it isn’t so long since those same forces threatened to destroy our country.

Categories
Politics

US President Donald Trump to set up European HQ in Ireland

Donald J Trump has accepted an invitation from Enda Kenny to visit our country in his capacity as president of the USA, as opposed to simply being some random boorish clown who happens to own a golf club.

I know. It’s dispiriting, but what are we to do about it?

Actually, the answer is surprisingly simple. We should show Trump’s office the sort of respect he himself doesn’t understand. We should show him the kind of dignity he has no experience of. We should demonstrate to Trump what it means to be a fully-functioning human being.

In other words, we should greet him as we would greet the leader of any foreign country. Needless to mention, that doesn’t include green-clad maidens playing harps at the steps of his plane nor any government minister dancing attendance, as Michael Noonan embarrassingly did long before Trump’s handlers managed to hijack the White House, when he was still just a two-bit hustler working with a big bag of roubles.

No. We should greet the Leader of the Redneck World with a multicultural musical ensemble as he descends from Airforce Wad. We should invite the leaders of all major denominations to greet him. Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim.

We should invite the children of immigrants and of those who fled from oppression to present him with flowers. Syrian children. Libyan children. Afghan children. Iranian children.

Welcome, Mr President.

Of course, if we’re to have any credibility, we’ll have to do something about our appalling Direct Provision system, our unique Irish gulag archipelago capable of swallowing up entire families for decades, depriving them of normal human existence, refusing them even the possibility of preparing a family meal together. And we’ll have to do something about those appointed to hear appeals from the residents of the Direct Provision camps. Some of those highly-respected professionals have never granted one solitary appeal, despite being paid large amounts of money to sit in judgement over desperate people. What are the chances that not even one application has any merit?

Well, them’s the breaks, as they say. Tough.

But never mind any of that. This is modern Ireland and nothing like the old days, when remote authoritarians sat in judgement over unmarried mothers and jailed children convicted of being orphans.  Ignoring the plight of children confined to Direct Provision camps is nothing like ignoring the children locked up in industrial schools or the women locked up in Magdalene Laundries. These days, we lock them all up together and eventually, when the children become thoroughly Irish, become fluent Irish speakers in school, with no connection whatever to their parents’ home place, we send the whole lot of them back to Africa.

We’re good like that in this land of missionaries. We’re really great.

Of course, Enda made a big pitch to the Oompaloompa-in-Chief about Irish illegals in the USA. And yes, they are illegal, not undocumented. And yes, it would be great if they could all get green cards. And yes, I’m all in favour of it.

But why do we think there’s something special about us as Irish? Why do we always reach for the fool’s pardon? Why do we participate in this annual festival of paddywhackery with the likes of Paul Ryan slurping a badly-poured Guinness and Trump slurring his way through a Nigerian poem, thinking it’s an Irish proverb?

Why do we acquiesce with such bullshit instead of having some dignity? Why do we roll over and let our bellies be tickled?

The latest we hear is that Trump is going to base his European headquarters in Ireland and some of us wonder what it all means.

After all, Trump is the President of the USA. He has one HQ and that’s in Washington. The USA does not have a European headquarters and yet the Irish papers slavishly reported this nonsense as fact.

What’s the alternative? Simple: Trump, in violation of US statute, continues to operate independent business interests across the globe and proposes to set up an illegal offshore operation here in Ireland to evade Federal law.

Isn’t that what it amounts to? Will we facilitate Trump to engage in activity that would be illegal in the USA?

Is that in our long-term interests?

Never mind growing a pair. Isn’t about time we grew a brain and realised that this man is determined to destroy the European Union if he can? Isn’t it about time we realised where our long-term interests lie and isn’t it about time we stopped sending our Prime Minister to the White House for Saint Patrick’s Day like some performing monkey for the enjoyment of Irish-Americans who are less Irish than my cat?

Categories
Politics

Donald Trump’s behaviour is that of a closet alcoholic.

Much has been made of President Donald Trump’s aversion to alcohol and yet his behaviour is that of a man who drinks heavily at night, alone.

His tweets speak of it. His rages speak of it. His tantrums speak of it.

Trump behaves exactly like a man with a serious alcohol dependency, despite his very public claim to be a life-long teetotaller.

What are we to make of this?

Anyone who drinks, anyone who has been drunk, knows what it is to go on social media and say something utterly stupid, something so cringe-inducing you want to jump around like Basil Fawlty with your head tucked between your knees. Aaarrrggghhh!!!

But what if you don’t possess the ability to be embarrassed?

What if you have the sort of character that is incapable of shame?

And what if you happen to be a pathological liar?

In addition, what if, much to your surprise, you happen to have become President of the USA?

You find yourself in the chocolate factory and you can do whatever you want, or at least, that’s what you think.

What would you do if you were a pathological liar with no sense of shame, no sense of dignity and with a serious reliance on alcohol?

What would you do if your chief strategist and personal Svengali also happened to be a heavy drinker?

I suppose you’d claim to be a teetotaler.

I suppose you’d sit up all night surfing the internet and tweeting insane accusations at imaginary enemies.

I suppose you’d be Donald Trump.

Categories
Policing

Maurice McCabe persecution – frankly disgusting

There’s nothing new about the Garda attempts to destroy Maurice McCabe using false accusations of sexual abuse. Indeed, this technique is such a normal part of Garda procedures that they don’t even realise it might be wrong. And of course, due to the flawed recruitment structures of our national police force, all senior Gardai started out as junior Gardai, carrying with them throughout their careers the lessons they learned in their teens and twenties . Their attitudes were formed in the quasi-monastic environment of Templemore, their certainties were reinforced in the daily drudge of street-duty and the message they learned is a simple one: It’s Us against Them.

Since there has until recently been no induction from outside, there is no cleansing of the water. All the senior management are former grunts who paid their dues by pounding the beat. They all ate the doughnuts and they all had their hawks. Because nobody from outside has ever been appointed to lead the organisation, there has been no possibility of introducing a new vision, uncontaminated by the stale, cynical thinking of the past.

What are the chances, then, of a Garda Commissioner being shocked by some of the shadier practices ingrained in the force? Why would a Commissioner coming from this gene pool not consider it perfectly legitimate for members of the force to smear a perceived enemy with foul sexual slurs?

Some years ago, I was friendly with a Garda, and we shared many enjoyable jugs of ale together. He was a nice guy but with a tendency to be indiscreet, and he told with great glee the stories of how they searched the homes of suspects.

Well, you see, when we were going through the place, we’d bring a few filthy magazines and we’d just happen to find them while his wife was watching.

Any honest Garda will admit that this is the culture of the force.

Maurice McCabe broke the ultimate taboo of any police force anywhere. He violated the omerta that motivates all policemen, by being stupid and naive. Maurice McCabe just assumed that honesty, integrity and decency are essential elements of policing, and how wrong he was.

By exposing petty corruption concerning speeding tickets, he has been falsely smeared as a sex offender, described as disgusting by a Garda Commissioner and placed on a sex offenders register by another state agency.

Maurice McCabe’s problems started when he made a legitimate complaint that led to a colleague being disciplined.

Not long after that event, his colleague used his own young daughter as a pawn in a vindictive game to accuse McCabe of inappropriate behaviour. Even the gardai who submitted the report to the DPP confirmed that the complaint had little substance, while the DPP observed that the behaviour complained of was probably not even an offence in the first place. Otherwise, we’d all be in front of a court for chasing children in a birthday hide-and-seek game.

The complaint was dismissed out of hand and so it rested until an unnamed counsellor, we’re invited to believe, submitted a report to Tusla, the child protection agency, alleging that Maurice McCabe had raped a child.

Let it be said now that this complaint was entirely false.

The counsellor responsible for this false allegation later acknowledged that it was a mistake. An administrative error.

Somehow, a vicious allegation of the worst kind had been accidentally copied and pasted from another file into the file — of all people — of the same  man who stood in severe conflict with our national police force.

What are the chances?

What are the chances that a counsellor would have two documents open at the same time on a computer? One file would be that of a client sexually abused as a child, and the other would be an old file, long-closed and discredited. And yet, somehow, details of the most vile abuse are somehow copied and pasted into the document relating to a blameless man. Furthermore, the professional who made this clerical error failed to read over the final document and check its accuracy before transmitting it to the Gardai. What are the chances of that?

And if Brendan Howlin is to be believed in his statement to the Dáil, these horrible calumnies were being repeated by the incumbent Garda Commissioner even after their author had admitted they were false. If Brendan Howlin is to be believed, the current Commissioner was actively urging certain journalists to publish these lies.

There are many questions to be answered about this, among them the following.

First: how did Maurice McCabe’s closed file just happen to be on the counsellor’s computer when this accidental copy-and-paste took place?

Second: why did the counsellor send this information directly to Tusla instead of following established reporting procedures?

Third: why did Tusla not investigate these extremely serious allegations?

Fourth: why was there no Garda investigation of this alleged crime?

Fifth: why was Maurice McCabe not informed of this life-destroying allegation?

Sixth: on what authority did Tusla open files on the two children of Maurice McCabe who were adults at the time of the false allegation?

It’s about time the Gardai were examined in depth. It’s about time we asked ourselves if we have a police force fit for purpose. After all, how many police forces refer to their employees as Members?

Hard questions need to be asked about the relationship between an Garda Síochána and Tusla. Did somebody talk to somebody about Maurice McCabe?

These are not questions that can be answered by an insider. These questions need to be asked by somebody who has no connection to Irish affairs.

We are talking here about something fundamental to our society because this is all extremely sinister. What happens to Maurice McCabe today can happen to you and me tomorrow.  This is an attack on our democracy. Even seeking a benign interpretation of events, this looks sinister. There is no innocent interpretation of what has been done here.

If the government fails to address this attack on our democracy head-on, that government must collapse.

 

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Previously on Bock

Guerin inquiry report on Garda handling of McCabe allegations

All Garda-related posts HERE

Elsewhere

Fintan O’Toole on the McCabe scandal

 

Categories
government Politics

Trump to O’Reilly: “You think our country’s so innocent?”

Did I ever think I’d be agreeing with Trump about anything?

If Trump called me at midnight to tell me the time was twelve o’clock, I’d check my watch, my phone and my sundial, which admittedly wouldn’t be much use unless I lived in Norway, but besides all that, I’d still think he was lying.

If Trump said “hello”, I wouldn’t believe him.

If he offered me a bag of chocolate-covered George Washingtons, I’d waterboard them to find out the truth.

And yet, here he is answering Bill O’Reilly’s rather silly statement about Putin: But he’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.

Trump replies, There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think – our country’s so innocent?

Overlooking his lie that he was against the war in Iraq from the beginning, Trump is right about this narrow point, though not for any benign reason.

O’Reilly seems to inhabit that peculiar netherworld where carpet-bombing civilians, murdering elected heads of state and blasting villages with drone strikes isn’t killing.  It’s a Disneyfied view, straight from the Lion King where the apex predators are benevolent, wise rulers who would never dream of killing anyone. Even though Trump is a thoroughly detestable, revolting individual, he inhabits a different fantasy land from O’Reilly, and this time he blurted out something which is nothing more or less than the truth.

Of course Putin is a killer, just as Tony Blair is. Just as Clinton is. Just as Bush is. Just as Obama is.

I agree with what Trump said, but that doesn’t give me cause for hope. It just means that he thinks killing is perfectly natural and he doesn’t see why anyone would object to it.

That’s why I’m simply irritated by O’Reilly’s self-righteous Disney version of America but terrified by the bleak, paranoid, Orwellian wasteland Trump conjures up from the dark corners of his mind. Or what passes for a mind in a man so unhinged.

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Previously

Trump: number of days without craziness, zero.

Breitbart. The parasite that has taken over America’s brain.

 

Categories
government Politics

Trump: number of days without craziness, zero.

We need a new name for the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump.

After all, we can’t keep calling him That Idiot, That Clown or the Tangerine Tosser, but luckily Donald has provided the answer with his threat to invade Mexico.

Yes. That’s correct.

Mexico.

El Trumpo Grande is going to invade Mexico unless they deal with their, wait for it, bad hombres.

Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on that.

All right then. Let’s not pause. Instead, let’s reflect on a world dominated by such a self-absorbed, inadequate man.

Anyone who has been a parent will understand the early years of a baby. Anyone who has raised children will tell you what a horror it is to look after a helpless creature with no understanding of anything apart from its own immature needs and demands.

Well guess what. We’re all Trump’s parents as this seventy-year-old toddler screams and kicks its feet in the air unless it gets what it wants.

Trumples attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast, an event attended by every American president for the last forty years. 

Let us set aside for a moment our views about the National Prayer Breakfast.

Hush, I say to you. Stay your hand just this once. Say nothing. In America there is a thing they call the National Prayer Breakfast and let it be so. Just let it be. That’s America.

All presidents until now have delivered a sober and worthy address at the National Prayer Breakfast. All presidents, that is, apart from the Trumplet, who used the opportunity to boast about his Celebrity Apprentice ratings and to mock Arnie Schwarzenneger.

That’s how classy the 45th President of the United States is.

El Trumpo has also threatened to attack Iran and has hung up the phone on the Australian prime minister.

In other words, el Trumpo is behaving like some tequila-crazed pistolero on the El Paso borderline.

Send for the Federales quick, before this hombre loco shoots somebody.