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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Banana Republic mk 2

We've been thrown our bone.

Brian Cowen said something had to be seen to be done, and hence now we're getting some token action months after it might have been relevant.

The Gardai, at the instigation of the Financial Regulator (the new one, not the utterly incompetent one who quit and swanned off into the sunset with a big swagbag of a golden handshake), have gone into Anglo Irish Bank yesterday evening seeking evidence of wrongdoing.

They follow the path beaten by the Fraud Squad only a day earlier.

There is now a faint outside chance that some of the gobshite criminals responsible for the mess that we're in will actually face criminal charges.

But it's only a bone. The time for all this activity was four months ago not now. You can shred a lot of incriminating evidence in four months.

Don't forget, we still live in a Banana Republic. For those of you who forget that we had a country before the Celtic Tiger hallucination, here's a little bit of Bob to remind you:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Don't posture for me, Argentina

Apparently Argentina has kicked out a Catholic bishop who has questioned the scale of the mid-20th century European holocaust.

And all without any hint of irony.

I've no intention of defending Bishop Williamson, who by all accounts is a very arrogant man. But I have previously pointed out that the way to combat holocaust deniers is with facts and debate, not by trying to shut them up, lock them or hope they go away.

Instead, I'm animated by the pointless posturing of it all. Booting Williamson out of Argentina won't change his views or those of anyone else, I suspect.

And it's not as if Argentina was one of those countries adversely affected by that holocaust. If anything, it greatly benefited from immigration as a result.

And of course, we should not forget how Argentina was one of the foremost destinations for many Nazis who fled justice after World War II. In fact, it now seems clear that they came at the invitation of Juan Peron, who then employed many of them in his government.

But the most compelling reason why this is an utterly hypocritical stance for Argentina to take is the fact that they themselves had their own mass murder of citizens, during the military junta period.

The mothers of the disappeared still gather in Buenos Aires to ask what happened to their relatives and demand clarity and answers which they still don't get. Around 30,000 desparecidos still remain unaccounted for. And the vast majority of those guilty still walk free.

It's long past time that Argentina owned up to its own crimes against its own humanity, and quit this hypocritical posturing about a holocaust that happened long, long ago on a continent far, far away.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Frank Fahey needs to come clean

... or the government will fall.

Rumours have been rife for some time now of a Fianna Fail TD being a member of the so-called 'Maple Ten' investors who bought Anglo Irish bank shares with Anglo Irish's own money, pretty much unsecured, which then helped Anglo prop up their share price last Autumn.

Those rumours continually name only one TD - Frank Fahey (image courtesy of the ever marvellous Green Ink). Now, firstly it must be said that there is currently no evidence of wrongdoing by the Maple Ten. They haven't benefited from their investment since the bank was subsequently nationalised.

Secondly, I must also add that I have no knowledge of any of the ten investors involved. The Sunday Times has named four people they allege are involved and suggest heavily about the identities of two more. Frank Fahey's name is not among them, nor is that of any other TD, Fianna Fail or otherwise.

I am therefore not saying that Frank Fahey is involved in this, and even if it transpires that he is, that in itself is not currently evidence of any wrongdoing.

I personally see the identities of these ten as a sideshow. The real issue with Anglo is whether banking officials themselves were breaking the law, in relation to this deal which appears only to have served the purpose of propping up the share price and misleading the market, and also in relation to directors' loans.

There is a wider issue about whether the government, the regulator, or indeed the people of Ireland were misled when they nationalised Anglo Irish. And that issue is the most important of all, since that bank could now cost us - the people - over 5.3 billion euro in bad debts alone, never mind the piddling 300 million that these particular ten individuals have had written off.

But all last week in the Dail, Fine Gael, who may well have heard similar rumours as me, pushed the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance to assure the house that no government TD was involved in the ten.

And the Taoiseach offered such assurances.

If it subsequently transpires that Frank Fahey, or any other Fianna Fail TD, was involved in this contrary to the assurances of the Taoiseach, mere sacking from the party won't contain the anger of the public.

With a Fianna Fail Ard Feis next weekend, the Government majority party could possibly find themselves facing a very angry crowd of protestors anyway as they go for their annual booze up at CityWest.

How much angrier might that crowd be if it had emerged that one of the ten investors in Anglo was, contrary to the Taoiseach's assurances, a Fianna Fail TD? I genuinely think the government would fall as a result.

Fahey does attract ire in certain quarters. People are unimpressed with how he was involved in the Rossport affair at the outset, and some question his amassing of a massive international property empire at a time when he was expected to be representing those who elected him.

Therefore, it is now incumbent on Frank Fahey to come out and state categorically whether he was in any way linked to or involved in this investment, if he actually cares about his party, the government of which he is a member, and the nation at large.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


The next big non-thing thrown up (literally, quite possibly) by teh interwebz is, as I'm sure you all know by now, Twitter.

I'm not going to link to it because it's already ubiquitous.

Basically, it's a retrograde medium which reduces the expansive capacities of the world wide web and mobile communications technology to the paucity of a phone text message.

Now, while 140 characters is just about sufficient to let the other half know you're running late in the car, it's clearly not that big a canvas for people to generally communicate to a wider public in any meaningful fashion.

The mobile texting experience might have implied this anyway, but nevertheless that seems to be the appeal to many, oddly enough. People are hanging out of Twitter, updating frantically every few minutes with admittedly brief inanities.

It's the internet equivalent of when a child starts narrating in the present tense, with their limited capacity to communicate meaningfully.

"Mummy, I'm running! Mummy, look at how high I can jump! Now I can reach the branch, Mummy. Look at me, Mummy!"

Yet it appears to have sucked in punters like Jonathan Ross, George Hook and various Hollywood celebs, but since they're all just shills with careers to promote and products to sell, that is only to be expected.

What isn't to be expected or welcomed is when journalists crawl so far up their own arses while using it that they start demanding other people communicate with them using only this vapid medium.

Clearly the prick involved lost sight of his own actual importance (not a lot - he edits a Business website, for crying out loud) a long time ago.

But while you might sympathise with his clear and utter hatred for the oxygen thieves who earn a living in public relations, by demanding that people only access him via Twitter, he's outted himself as a complete twat.

Ironically, he announced his twattish decision in an email - not a tweet (seriously, people, they're letting you KNOW that this is akin to birdsong in terms of relevance).

If there's any sense left in the world, people will respond to him in kind, by refusing his phone calls and emails too. That way, he should be out of his job by, ooh, Monday lunchtime.

If this is where journalism is going, it's even baser than I thought already.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

You sick ghouls

I appreciate it doesn't exactly encourage readership of this blog to accuse my readers of being sick, mentally ill, perverted voyeuristic ghouls.

But today, and for much of the past fortnight, that's what many of you are.

This site has been deluged by traffic from people searching for naked images of Jade Goody, the erstwhile reality show 'celebrity' who is now confirmed as suffering from terminally ill cancer.

I don't have such images on my site. I wouldn't want them on my site. I don't find the poor woman attractive in the slightest, and in any case I don't have naked pictures of the women I do consider attractive on this site either.

It's not that type of site. As it used to say in the former strapline up above - rude, not nude.

So if you came to this site seeking a quick wank over pictures of a dying woman, what you need to do is turn your PC off and go and think about what sort of depraved life you're actually leading, and I mean that with the utmost of seriousness.

I have little time for Jade Goody, or her vapid reality celeb ilk. But I'm not going to glory in the death of a poorly-educated mother of small children who had a rough upbringing and sought to use any means available to her to enrich her soon-to-be motherless offspring.

And I'm certainly not going to endorse thousands of ghouls coming here in search of a stomach-churning wank without letting you know that you disgust me.

And you should disgust yourselves. That's all.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Why aren't we billing people who irresponsibly go to sea or climb mountains in bad weather?

We've already heard of the surfers who went out to surf in 40 feet surges, only to demand that their rescuers, risking life and limb to save them, bring their boards onto the helicopter too.

Now we've got another flurry of idiots, as predictable as the inclement weather, hiking into difficulties that can only be resolved by their deaths or extremely expensive rescue operations which put the emergency service personnel themselves at risk of life and limb.

According to one rescuer, visibility was down to five feet due to freezing fog, with snow knee deep. Seriously, what the fuck were those morons doing, going up there in the first place, during a cold snap, in Winter?

Twats who go sailing around the world and end up seeking help to stop themselves drowning are, in many parts of the world, subsequently billed for the cost of their rescue. Often this is even covered by insurance policies which acknowledge and reflect the danger/stupidity (delete as you feel is applicable) of their endeavours.

That should apply to all such rescues. If you want to hike up mountains in Winter, then go get very expensive insurance, and let the state bill you for the cost of hauling your moron ass back to safety.

We're in an economic meltdown, for crying out loud.

Emergency services should be for genuine unforeseeable emergencies, not to act as an expensive taxpayer funded safety net for the rash thrill chasing of morons who don't check the weather forecasts (or indeed notice the snow belting down) before gallopping up mountains unprepared.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The truth is out there

According to the best guess of astrophysicist researchers, there is somewhere between 361 and 38,000 intelligent alien civilisations in existence in our galaxy.

I would have thought this was self-evident. The proof that intelligent life exists in our universe is that not one of them have seen fit to come near here:

Or here:

Or here:

Or here:

Or here:

And especially not here:

You have to admit, those aliens, wherever they are in the galaxy, have demonstrated impeccable taste in avoiding this planet.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Bankrupt of ideas, bankrupt of money

Ireland is bankrupt financially and its government is bankrupt of ideas on how to solve the problem.

This is to be expected, disastrous though it may be. We are now reaping the property whirlwind that laughably went by the title of 'Celtic Tiger' for the past decade or so.

We were warned, repeatedly, but wouldn't listen. Specifically, we bought into the idea (metaphorically and literally) that there was a property 'ladder' we had to climb, even as prices went up indefinitely and spectacularly.

We bought into the idea that rent was dead money, and that we should all mortgage ourselves to the hilt in the hope of making ever greater returns as prices rose forever.

We know now that it was all a 'Ponzi scheme', a pyramid selling project designed to enrich the developers, who as we know from the tribunals, were backhanding a proportion of that cash to prominent members of Fianna Fail.

Now the credit crunch has happened, and there is a threat of the entire country going to the wall, as Iceland just did.

Our government's response? Raid the pension reserve fund to buy zombie banks that lent money to the developers. Plough hundreds of millions into 'affordable home' schemes, which would be better titled 'developer bailouts'. Then slash public services and public sector pensions (but not ministerial pensions or car entitlements, of course.)

So we're in a series of laughable positions after yesterday's mini-budget (the first of a series, I predict.)

We hand over nearly a billion euro in overseas development aid annually, even as we're expensively BORROWING the money that we then hand over to African despots for vanity projects that achieve little in sub-Saharan Africa.

And this on the same day that the latest exchequer figures came out indicating that we need to find 600 million euro MORE than we thought we needed back in October! (Which is why there will inevitably be more mini-budgets, since this government is incapable of working from up-to-date figures.)

We'd be better off sacking Irish Aid in its entirety and cutting a cheque to Oxfam or Goal, who are at least efficient and responsive to the needs of the communities they work in.

Or we could accept both the argument that we're skint and the argument that Africa does not benefit from the aid we send, and cut our borrowed losses.

But that's just one billion out of around 20 we have to find from somewhere. Sure, cuts are necessary, especially in the public sector. Actual staff cuts are needed, to weed out the Tetris-playing chaff. And pay cuts too, though that sort of happened yesterday.

What's most frightening about the position we find ourselves in is that clearly the government, such as it is - a village solicitor who inherited both his parliamentary seat and the Taoiseachship, a rural housewife as number two, a moustachioed gun-toting idiot in the jump seat and a collection of failures, ne'er-do-wells and shysters as supporting cast - haven't the foggiest notion what to do.

They should quit is what they should do. They should go to the country and seek a mandate to reverse the damage they have inflicted on this country over the past decade. They won't get that mandate, of course. Instead, they'll be slaughtered at the polls. But it would show good grace, respect for democracy and that rare thing in Irish politics, penitence for their mistakes.

But they won't quit. They won't even admit to doing wrong. Last night, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern told the nation that our current economic plight was no one's responsibility. Wrong, minister. It is YOUR responsibility, and that of your government.

Fianna Fail historically has always been a shallow organisation when it comes to principles, and they are beloved of playing government and opposition all at the same time. Instead of policies, they fly kites to guage public opinion, backing down if pensioners march on Leinster House, or pushing ahead if the public sigh heavily and accept another bitter pill.

But at this point in time not only are Fianna Fail bereft of ideas, they have also bankrupted the country quite spectacularly.

It's time for them to go. Those who created the problem cannot be trusted to resolve it. Especially since they are Fianna Fail, who can never be trusted with anything anyway.

Every day, every hour until they leave office is another day, another hour where the possibility of recovery is postponed or delayed further.

And while that continues, while they take 160K flights to America and swan about in 150K Mercs driven by Gardai on 70K euro a year, things will keep getting worse for us, up and until the point where the International Monetary Fund is called in.

We're really not too far from that vista right now, and if it comes about, the pain will be unimaginable - Russia in the late Yeltsin era, Argentina a few years back, that sort of national, hard to forget, deprivation.

We can't let it come to that. The bereft bunch of chancers on the government benches today looked guilty and sheepish and most of all tired. They should go, for their own dignity's sake, but primarily because every second they stay they hurt this country more.