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Friday, April 25, 2008

Is the Indo systemically anti-Muslim?

Certainly, some Muslims seem to think so.

As far as I'm aware, there have been at least two complaints to the Press Council and Ombudsman from Irish based Muslims about articles that appeared in the Irish Independent.

One was a somewhat inflammatory piece by commentator Kevin Myers, whose flights of fancy I've previously examined here.

The other complaint apparently relates to Ian O'Doherty (airbrushed above), whose otherwise interesting and light-hearted column I-Spy is regularly marred by his blinkered defence of all things Neo-Con or Israeli, and his blanket demonising of Islam.

After yet another crack about Shariah law in Ireland from Ian, a large number of Irish Muslims finally had enough and collectively wrote a letter to the editor, which was published in today's edition.

What I found intriguing, though, is that the grammar of the letter was sporadically abysmal. Not consistently so, just sporadically so, almost as if errors had been deliberately inserted to make the writers look stupid.

What errors JC, I hear you ask with my now well-known superpower of being able to hear your thoughts over the interweb?

Errors like: "Let us start with Saudi Arabia as an example quote by himcountry in the world named after a family..."

Or "We would also like to point out to yourMuslims were unmatched in the advances in the fields of mathematics..."

Or "It is similar to what the British didthe IRA was bombing Britain."

Now, some of the signatories included at least two consultant surgeons, not to mention other doctors, as well as 'students, shopkeepers and housewives.'

Either we are to believe that they took it in turns writing a line each, which might explain why a letter that is otherwise coherent and eloquent could include a series of incomprehensible grammar clangers.

Or we could assume that the Indo butchered the letter for their own impenetrable reasons.

I wonder which it is? Could the Indo be so systematically anti-Muslim as to deliberately make a community of Muslims out to be illiterate?

Monday, April 21, 2008

The American presidential election digested

From the inimitable Fred Reed comes the most succinct summary of the choice America faces in the forthcoming months about which leader to choose:
We’ve got Obama, an empty suit with a good line of patter and a past few write about, and McCain, a pugnacious senile temper tantrum who can’t remember whether Al Qaeda is Sunni or Shiite.
Not too promising.
That leaves Clitler, a strange visitor from another planet probably and crooked as kite string in a ceiling fan, but neither stupid, ignorant, nor crazy.
Needless to say, he's a Hilary supporter by default. Though given he resides in Mexico, she's unlikely to benefit from his vote.

He's pretty good on current and former presidents too:
Bill Clinton was said to be the first black president. W is the first kinky president, which is a whole new approach to democracy.
All sorts of countries torture people, because intelligence agencies naturally attract cowboys, assassins, incorrigible juveniles, and sadists.
But W’s S&M operation in Gitmo is a first. Whipseys and Cheneys. It’s because he’s a Christian. Poor Jesus.
His followers act like the Marquis de Sade—torturing, burning old women at the stake, turning water into water boards. I’d love to know what movies you might find on hard drives at the White House
There you have it - the five minute lesson in US presidents past, present and future. Perhaps they should lure Fred back across the Rio Grande and stick him in the White House. Not that he'd do it, of course. He knows Washington too well:

Washington is a curious city, separated from most of the rest of the United States by a gaping cultural chasm. It is probably the nation’s best educated town, and it is certainly a place where people know the score.
The population consists of politicians, reporters, beltway bandits attached to Uncle Sucker’s well-worn mammaries, wonks from policy shops, or outfits supplying all of them with one thing or another.
In a country that doesn’t, they travel.
It doesn’t make them better people than others. It means that they know it’s all a game, a matter of whose rice bowl gets filled by what contract and who gets re-elected how.
Things are dirty and rigged and one either hides things from the public or misrepresents them to gull the rubes. This of course is no secret. It doesn’t have to be. It works anyway.

But if Fred was, somehow, to assume the reins of power, he does have a plan, a single idea to put an end to the war in Iraq. I like his plan. It's neat, and it just might work:
I will strap the mothers of the graduating class of Harvard to the front bumpers of Humvees in Baghdad, and see how long support for the war lasts.
I couldn't have put it better myself.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Political leaders and mental illness

What is it about political leaders and secret mental illnesses?

I don't mean, why do they keep them secret. That's fairly obvious from a self-preservation point of view. But how come so many political leaders have them, and why aren't we the people informed?

People have made a big deal about John McCain's health in the US Presidential race. His ticker may not be the best, or some such.

Frankly, I'd be much more interested to know if he's secretly nuts or not. I think his state of mental health is way more important.

Let's look at the latest politico to out themselves as a loon: John Prescott, formerly number two in the UK, has now owned up to being a bulimic.

That's got to be one of the strangest admissions yet. He has my sympathy for his condition, but equally, I'm a bit annoyed as to why he didn't mention this BEFORE seeking to run the country for a decade.

He's not the first nutter to conceal their mentalism until after they'd left office either. It's now patently obvious that both parties to the famous Eighties 'special relationship' between Britain and the US were actually suffering from dementia.

Both Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were subsequently diagnosed with degenerative dementia symptoms - Alzheimers in Ronnie's case, general demented mentalism in Maggie's.

These symptoms are progressively degenerative - that's medicalese for saying they don't happen overnight. They develop over a long time. In other words, both Maggie and Ronnie were nuts while in power. Explain a lot in retrospect, doesn't it?

I'm beginning to get concerned over who will be the next to reveal a psychiatric condition.

Will Bertie Ahern admit to compulsive kleptomania?
Will Ian Paisley own up to listening to scary voices in his head?
Will Mary Harney explain her constant hallucination that she is part of a national political party?

It's not good enough, and the public deserve better than a hand-wringing revelation long after the politico has left power.

I think all people elected to public office should have to undergo a full medical, including a psychological assessment, reviewed annually.

They're running the country, for goodness' sake. We have a right to know if they're secret loonies or not.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

So what's this Lisbon Treaty thing about?

This just in from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious: Most Irish people haven't a clue what this Lisbon treaty malarkey is about.

Why is that, do you think? Might it have something to do with the fact that the document is so difficult and complex to summarise that everyone just gave up trying to explain it?

That seemed to be EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso's position this week when he visited Cork and deigned to take a few questions from a hand-picked selection of langers.

But it's not that complex: here's a nice, simple (pro-EU) summary of what the treaty will do, from Auntie Beeb.

Then again, it might be because the Lisbon Treaty is just the failed EU Constitution rehashed. That constitution failed because the good people of France and Holland rejected it in referenda.

So this time around, the EU mandarins have made two clever changes: firstly, they're not calling it a constitution, and secondly they're not allowing any referenda.

So basically, whatever the people of Europe might think or want, their governments are not permitting them to decide for themselves. Unfortunately for the EU mandarins, that doesn't fly in Ireland. Our national constitution DEMANDS that a referendum has to be held.

So what will Lisbon bring if we vote for it? Well, some of the scary NO people would have you think it will bring in abortion on demand, bio-chips in your babies, an EU army with a draft during wartimes, and all sorts of other nasties.

That's not strictly true. But what IS in the treaty is scary enough without people having to make shit up.
  • There'll be an EU parliament that can overrule the Dail.
  • There'll be an EU army, albeit without a compulsory draft (for now.)
  • There'll be an EU government in the shape of a beefed-up EU Commission.
  • There'll be an EU Foreign Minister implementing foreign policy on a Europe-wide basis, overruling national foreign policies.
  • There'll be a Europe-wide justice system, in the shape of a beefed-up European Courts of Justice.
In short, if Lisbon succeeds, you will cease to be a citizen of Ireland in any meaningful legal sense, compared to how you will be a citizen of Europe.

Lisbon is a charter for a federal Europe. But to admit that would be to see it defeated, so the mandarins have been terrifically careful to avoid the F-word.

Of course Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour all like Lisbon. It's a charter that creates new levels of politics and power and bureaucracy.

But it's not something that's good for the people of Ireland or the people of Europe.

Why else do you think that diplomats and civil servants were seeking to delay bad news from Europe until after the referendum?

Why do they believe you will vote whatever way Irish politicians tell you to, and why do they think the treaty is 'largely incomprehensible' to the lay person?

The answer lies here, in the embarrassing email the British Embassy in Dublin sent to London after a secret meeting with Irish civil servants about the Lisbon Treaty.

Basically, it's a con that they're inflicting on us, because they think we're stupid and easily led and because they think we won't read the damn thing. I hope we prove them wrong on all of their arrogant counts.

Unfortunately, it's up to us and us alone to pull the EU back from the brink of a Federal Europe and all that entails.

So vote sensibly. Vote against the Lisbon Treaty if you believe in national sovereignty, if you believe in democracy in Europe and if you believe in Ireland.

Vote NO to Lisbon.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dads have fewer rights than lesbian lovers

Irish fathers be warned.

According to a court ruling yesterday, the one third of you who are not married to the mothers of your children have fewer rights than a lesbian in a relationship with your child's mother.

In a preposterous ruling that has massive implications for 30% of Irish fathers, Mr 'Justice' John Hedigan ruled yesterday that a family of two women and a child was no less of a family than an unmarried man and woman with a child.

And then he ruled against permitting the father of a child guardianship of his own flesh and blood, because of the poisonous relationship between the father and the two lesbians.

Let's just tease this one out, because the implications are rather profound.

In Ireland, if you are not married, and you father a child, you have no de facto rights. You are obliged to seek those rights of guardianship, access and custody via the family law courts, which are held in camera, meaning that what is said in those courtrooms cannot be repeated, either in libel cases or in other formats like the media.

In other words, you could go to court to gain access to your child, only to be called for example a paedophile or a drug addict with no basis in reality, and be denied a relationship with your child.

And now, thanks to the most recent ruling yesterday, you can be denied a relationship with your child because the mother has shacked up with another woman and they don't want you involved!

This story will inevitably be spun as some sort of victory for equal rights for gay couples. It isn't. It's a defeat for fathers.

It's the story of a father denied a relationship with his son, a child he fathered, made up of half of his genes, because of the caprice of a lesbian couple and the blind stupidity of the Irish family law system, which favours everything and everyone over father's rights.

And it's the story of a little boy denied a relationship with his male parent because his mother is vindictive and because courts are shit-scared of doing anything that could remotely be spun as homophobic.

Conclusion: It's alright to deny human rights to people as long as they are children or fathers in Ireland.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Is Michael O'Leary the biggest cause of misery on Earth?

I know it's a hard call.

After all, malaria kills up to three million people and infects over 500 million every year.

Fundamentalist religious beliefs not only cause repression among those who espouse them, but also lead to the oppression, usually by violence, of those who don't.

But of all the evils incomprehensibly permitted by God to ravage this poor planet, is there any greater cause of human misery than that rip-roaring cunt Michael O'Leary?

We are informed by experts that experiencing misery is an essential part of truly comprehending happiness in life.

But surely there is absolutely no excuse, no lesson to be learned, no mitigating factor in the unremitting evil that is Michael O'Leary and his army of hellspawn?

By now you may have gathered that I broke a vow I made to myself, the promise that NEVER EVER AGAIN would I subject myself to the Auschwitz conditions of a Ryanair flight.

I had to get to Cork and back. There really weren't many options. Driving and the train would take too long. Aer Arann, who also ply the route, were asking for a truly silly amount of money.

So I made the mistake of booking a flight with Ryanscare. (You know, a fright with every flight.)

Firstly, the flight down to Cork was largely uneventful. It nearly arrived on time (and of course, an annoying tannoy message erroneously informed us that it had done when we landed.) That lulled me into a false sense of security.

The next day on the return leg, things were different. Despite checking in online already, the scum wanted another 4 euro of my money to check in. What???

Then to add to my confusion, and their blatant thievery, they demanded that I pay 18 euro more to check in my hand luggage.

"No thanks," I said. "It's my hand luggage."

They insisted it was too big, or the wrong shape, or too fragile or some such bullshit to be allowed in the cabin.

I informed them that it had been perfectly permitted by the same alleged airline on the way TO Cork, only a day previously. Nothing had been added or taken away from the bag in the meantime.

But they insisted, like the jobsworth cretins they are. And what can one do, in Cork airport at ridiculous o'clock in the morning, as a queue of other harrassed people grows behind you and starts mumbling, only give in to Ryanair's preposterous larceny?

"You can write to Ryanair's head office and complain," suggested a Servisair monkey who was insisting that it wasn't her fault that she was demanding my money for no good reason.

Yeah. I've tried that before. They don't answer. You have to take the scumbags to court to make them take your complaint seriously. And then they really try to treat you like shit on O'Leary's leather loafers.

Don't believe me? Remind yourself how they treated THIS poor woman.

I'm not going to write. Instead, I'm going to ignore O'Leary, and address myself instead to the hundreds of grunts and minions who man his evil empire.

Dear Ryanair Staff:

Are you proud of what you do and who you work for? Are your parents proud?

Is harrassing the public something you aspire to achieve in life? Is there truly nothing else you could do to make a living?

Just because your name badge says Servisair doesn't mean that you're not a Ryanair employee.

Just because O'Leary's memo told you to treat the public like lepers does not mean you are obliged to.

Just because it says in your contract that you should, at every possible opportunity, attempt to steal money from the public to line O'Leary's capacious pockets with, is not reason in itself to do so.

Have some fucking self-respect. Do something useful with your life instead.

Become a student, even. Sign on if you must.

Try prostitution or drug dealing.

Torture Zimbabwean democrats for Robert Mugabe if the inkling grabs you. Suppress Tibetan freedom protesters with Chinese special forces if you're so inclined.

Whatever you do, it's bound to be more useful to society, create less misery on this Earth, than working for that butt-munching goblin O'Leary and his Empire of Evil.

You can give it up. And if you start, others will follow. Eventually, the whole thing will collapse.

It can be done. Start now. Resign your Ryanair job, or your proxy Ryanair job with Servisair and their equivalents, and begin to live a decent life.

You know you want to.

P.S. Has anyone else noticed that Ryanair's staff are some of the ugliest people on Earth?

I remember when the vocation of airline hostess was one almost entirely populated by amazing, gentle, kind, generous women with model good looks. That's still the case with proper airlines like SAS and Singapore Airlines.

But Ryanair seem to do their recruiting down dark alleys late at night, in the rougher parts of town.

Seriously, some of those trolley dollies make the Manchester United first team look attractive. I guess it's all part of O'Leary's masterplan to add misery at every turn.

Friday, April 11, 2008

JC Skinner's guide to quitting smoking

1. Pick a day to quit, preferably within a week.

2. Two minutes before midnight the day before you quit, smoke your last cigarette.

3. Throw out all the rest of your cigarettes, ashtrays, lighters and matches.

4. Don't smoke any more cigarettes, ever.

Simple, really. I don't know why I didn't do it a long time ago. Now you know how it's done, it's your turn next. Don't give the feckers in Phillip Morris and Reynolds your hard-earned cash and your health.

What finally gave me the courage to quit the addiction was watching an old Michael Moore TV show from the Nineties, where he took a bunch of laryngectomy patients to Reynolds' HQ to serenade the board members of that firm with Christmas carols. All the singers had voiceboxes, and all had smoked Camels cigarettes, made by Reynolds.

If you're still not motivated, why not have a look at this. It's the very segment I'm referring to.

The longer episode that was broadcast was even better. The company's directors came down the stairs and it was evident from their pearly whites and barrel chests, not to mention tailored suits, that they enjoyed a fantastic quality of life at the literal expense of the lives of their customers.

If tobacco firm directors aren't smokers, wtf am I doing feeding their profits at the cost of premature death? WTF are you doing still smoking?

So I quit. In 50 years time, people will look back incredulously and wonder how it took so long to ban such a blatantly and irredeemably negative product.

That's got nothing to do with Nazis, health or otherwise. Even guns and nukes have a peacekeeping purpose. Heroin is a useful painkiller. But tobacco has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Let's ban it entirely and consign it to history.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Bertie the martyr's STILL laughing at us

If you were to listen to some of the hagiography being spouted about Ahern at the moment, you'd think he was a cross between Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King.

The blessed one, betrayed and cast out unfairly by those he selflessly served for so long. But still beatific in his sacrifice.

In other words, us sentimental Irish are getting carried away again, and are spouting a load of cobblers about a man who, let us not forget, was described by the ultimate Fianna Fail crook Charles Haughey as 'the most cunning and devious of them all.'

By his actions let him be known, I say. Thumbs up for the Northern peace process. Thumbs down for lying to the nation, via Brian Dobson, about his shady finances.

And a middle finger for bringing another liar, Beverly Cooper Flynn, back into the Fianna Fail fold as his latest act.

Hopefully Cowen, who kicked her out of Fianna Fail in the first place, will have enough sense to keep her at a long arm's length.

If Fianna Fail are ever to turn a corner away from the taint of corruption, which is about as much as they can hope to achieve by sacrificing their electoral trump card Bertie, then they need to keep venal Bev as far away from power as possible.

Previously: They're laughing at us now.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Mugabe: the endgame

It's the endgame for Mugabe.

He may have been asleep at the wheel for years, ruling Zimbabwe via syphilitic spite and paranoid oppression as it collapsed into a downward spiral of economic and social disaster.

But no one's prepared to tell him to leave just yet.

Strange to think that this year, these few weeks actually, will have accounted for the passing of Ian Paisley, Bertie Ahern and Robert Mugabe. Historians will have fun making sense of that list in years to come.

At this point, of course, Mugabe, the great survivor, has outlasted the Irishmen. While the Western media, briefed by the MDC, are announcing that Zanu-PF have lost the parliamentary elections and Mugabe the presidency, it's worth looking at what the Zimbabwean media are saying.

They're saying
it's a hung parliament and that the presidency will require a re-run, as neither candidate surpassed 50% of the vote.

Of course the Herald is a government-run mouthpiece for Zanu. We know this. But that's why it is informative at this time when we're being informed of MDC victory by breathless foreign correspondents who are actually in Johannesburg and nowhere near the ground.

It's very likely what the MDC are saying is correct. It's most probable they did win both elections. It's certainly likely that Zanu sought to rig the results.

But if Zanu had really rigged the results, as they have done in the past, we wouldn't still be at this political impasse in Zimbabwe.

So what is really happening on the ground? What can we understand by this long, drawn out count, by these gnomic reports of ties from the government media?

Simply this: Zanu wants power-sharing in government, and none of them have the balls to tell Mugabe he's lost. They want a second ballot to confirm it categorically, but only after they have obtained concessions from Tsvangirai.

What concessions? The ones he has already offered. No witch hunts. No prosecutions. National unity.

And if they don't get them? Well, there's always force of arms.

But there is not the appetite for a civil war on any side. The country is too beleaguered, too ravaged by hyperinflation, unemployment, the collapse of the farming and tourism industries, by the madman's stubbornness.

Once he's gone, things can get better. Zanu are happy to dispense with him in order to have a say in restoring this beautiful land to something like its former prosperity.

It's just that no one yet has the balls to tell him he's got to go.

Previously: Everyone waits for the madman to die

Bye Bye Bertie

The most cunning, most devious of them all is gone.

From the steps of the government buildings plinth he fell on his sword, his lip all a-quiver with pent-up tears.

Well, Bertie was always one for the dramatic touch. Whether it was the yellow suit in the company of world leaders or the famous anorak as he stood in the floodwaters of Drumcondra, Bertie always knew how to hold a crowd.

Unlike Jack Lynch, Charles Haughey and Albert Reynolds, Bertie is the first Fianna Fail leader in living memory to go at a time of his own choosing.

Of course, perhaps it is more a time of The Mahon Tribunal's choosing.

Either way, the reign of the Bert ends on the 6th of May, following his address at the Houses of Congress in the US and, strangely, the visit of the Japanese Prime Minister.

And later, there is Taoiseach's questions in the Dail, when the invisible man Enda Kenny had planned to draw blood. That flush is busted for Fine Gael now, a small consolation for Bertie today.

Bertie was flanked by nearly all of his cabinet. Looking very out of place, John Gormley stood behind Bertie as he barely mentioned the Green Party in the lengthy list of shout-outs he gave to all who had ever supported him.

Whereas Mary Harney, who Bertie described as a 'good friend', had the sense not to appear on the plinth.

Cowen looked bored, looking over Bertie's shoulder at his speech as if trying to see how long Bertie was going to talk for. Behind him, stood Brian Lenihan, who in Bertie's absence may well be elevated to Minister of Finance when Cowen becomes Taoiseach.

Bertie said that his resignation had nothing to do with recent events. That's not the first untruth he's told in recent times. But it is one, perhaps, that he can be forgiven for.

There's no harm in letting the man leave with his dignity intact. But I still look forward to his appearing before the Tribunal to explain the hundreds of thousands of punts that washed through his bank account.

There is a sea-change in Irish politics. Bertie, whose sins compared to those of Haughey are venal, has had to resign, and those in Irish politics who are much more corrupt, much filthier than Bertie should now quake in their gucci loafers.

The clean-up has begun.