Wednesday, October 26, 2005 

Happy Fitzmas!

No doubt Irish political obsessives are eagerly following the Plame investigation, which recently dragged in the New York Times via the questionable past activities of reporter Judith Miller.

A few may also remember the forged Niger yellowcake documents which the Bush administration miraculously produced to 'prove' that Saddam was looking to develop nuclear weapons, and hence take the United States to war against Iraq. Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has been investigating the story behind the yellowcake forgeries when most of the mainstream press wouldn't , and has uncovered a good deal about what looks like an operation originating within the ranks of Neo-cons within the Bush administration itself. Quelle surprise! as they say.

And now that this sordid little tale seems about to intersect with the Plame investigation in an explosive way, TPM is most certainly the blog to keep an eye on over the next weeks and months. This is going to get 'interesting'.

Sunday, October 23, 2005 

"Partition is the consequence of failed colonialism."

So says Shahin M. Cole, via Juan Cole in a post on the civil war now being set up by a Bush administration eager to jettison the mess it's created (more details from Al Jazeera, by way of Richard Delevan). This has more than an air of familiarity to an Irish audience, as it no doubt does to Indians and Palestinians - the imperial power swiftly departing an alien land, leaving with its final act of callousness a political figleaf doomed to bloodshed.

The Bush 43 years have brought into power PNAC and their scheme for what amounts to an American empire, with latter-day apologists for the old British one (following their high-priest, Niall Ferguson) lining up to bestow their blessing on the whole enterprise. The White Man's Burden, and all of that. They would do well to be careful what they wish for, in case the effort at a second Englishman's Empire ends in much the same protracted humiliation as the first.

We'll end with some relevant W.H. Auden, concerning the British retreat from India:


Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on his mission,
Having never set eyes on the land he was called to partition
Between two peoples fanatically at odds,
With their different diets and incompatible gods.
"Time," they had briefed him in London, "is short. It's too late
For mutual reconciliation or rational debate:
The only solution now lies in separation.
The Viceroy thinks, as you will see from his letter,
That the less you are seen in his company the better,
So we've arranged to provide you with other accommodation.
We can give you four judges, two Moslem and two Hindu,
To consult with, but the final decision must rest with you."

Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day
Patrolling the gardens to keep the assassins away,
He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate
Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date
And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect,
But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect
Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot,
And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot,
But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided,
A continent for better or worse divided.

The next day he sailed for England, where he could quickly forget
The case, as a good lawyer must. Return he would not,
Afraid, as he told his Club, that he might get shot.


More 'Good' News from Iraq

From the Sunday Telegraph, of all places:
"Millions of Iraqis believe that suicide attacks against British troops are justified, a secret military poll commissioned by senior officers has revealed.

The poll, undertaken for the Ministry of Defence and seen by The Sunday Telegraph, shows that up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one per cent think Allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country.

Andrew Robathan: Government policy 'disastrous'
It demonstrates for the first time the true strength of anti-Western feeling in Iraq after more than two and a half years of bloody occupation.

The nationwide survey also suggests that the coalition has lost the battle to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, which Tony Blair and George W Bush believed was fundamental to creating a safe and secure country."
Various 'wingers (both Yankee and native) in the Irish boggersphere have spent the last couple of years denouncing the "MSM" as having been responsible for the lack of of public support for George and Tony's Excellent Adventure; however, we doubt that there's much of a Guardian or New York Times readership in Iraq to blame this particular mess on.

Perhaps (in keeping with the times), it could now be laid entirely at the feet of one Scooter Libby?

Saturday, October 22, 2005 

A good Nordie blog is an interesting and very well-written blog that we've recently come across, which concerns itself with the North and with the GAA. Go check it out, well worth the visit.

From a recent post (we're presuming here that the 'response' is his) on a letter to the Belfast Telegraph:

"Concerned's cod-anthropological “insight” that “you Gaels seem to have a need to socialise” suggests a residual colonial mindset. It’s a truism that people the world over are social beings. This revealing remark is redolent of a Kipling-era colonialist commenting on the “surprisingly advanced” social habits of “the natives”. Who knows, give us a few hundred more years of direct rule, and we’ll all be using knives and forks."
And maybe a couple of centuries after that, "Ulster Unionism" might finally drag itself out of the seventeenth century and let the Catholic Irish sit at the dinner table, too.

Friday, October 21, 2005 

Fr. Reid's remarks

Recently we've had to listen to a good deal of manufactured outrage over Fr. Alec Reid's comments, comparing the historical treatment of Catholics in NI to that of the Jews in Nazi Germany (Jon Ihle has covered Fintan O'Toole's acrobatics over this). We have a few comments on this business:

(i) while the comparison is certainly grotesquely out of proportion, and he should (and has) apologised for it, there is a small nugget of justification in what he said. It's not politic in these days of reconciliation to say so, and it's not going to be appreciated by those who've had loved ones killed by the PIRA, but there it is.

(ii) if you watch the video of what happened at the Methodist Hall, it can clearly be seen that Father Reid said what he said in the course of a stand-up row with Willie Frazer, of the so-called "victim's group" FAIR, who was present in the audience and presumably (given his MO) there to cause trouble.

Yes, Reid's remarks were out of place and offensive, and he needed to withdraw them and apologise. But he was clearly provoked by Frazer, who pops up in strange company in all sorts of strange places, and whose occupation seems to be that of professional provocateur, like our old friend 'Lord' Laird. He (Frazer) certainly lost no time in rushing to his local police station with a solicitor in tow (who turned out to be none other than UUP renegade and now DUP member, Arlene Foster) in an attempt to have Fr. Reid prosecuted. It needs to be said that if we were to approach Frazer's own writings and utterances with the same malicious intent, we'd find no end of material to take him to task on.

Taking from just one (particularly pertinent) recent example off the FAIR website:

...Indeed if Mr Reid needs to point the finger of Nazism he should look no farther than the role of his own church and its leadership during the Second World War. As for me and my family we answered the call to fight fascism and my family along with thousands of unionists fought and died to defeat terrorism. Perhaps if Mr Reid, his church and community had become more involved in their years VE/VJ commemorations they would have realised the role played by the protestant community its churches and organisations such as the Orange Order in the war effort.
It is no surprise that Mr Reid has been referred to as the PROVO's Priest, as his Republican credentials and mindset are clear. His position in Clonard monastery an institution which played a pivotal role in the creation of the Provisional IRA is no coincidence. Indeed at that time as the PIRA engaged in its first acts of terrorism in the grounds of Clonard monastery its Superior P.J.Eagan spoke to the people of the area saying " …the defence of the area was left to a handful of teenagers. They did a great job. We were proud of them…." Another senior priest later admitted to the Scarman tribunal that he gave armed terrorists permission to stay and use the monastery as a base for their operations. The clergy of Clonard have blood on their hands as it was they who sanctioned and supported the use of violence and by both acts of commission and omission were instrumental in the creation of the PIRA. They have continually glorified the terrorist acts of those days and created a myth that the PIRA and its weapons are needed to 'defend' their areas and indeed monastery.
There's no real excuse to what Fr. Reid said, but there is context (provocation by a determined troublemaker).

Meanwhile, Belfast Gonzo (who has turned off his comments for this post. Tsk, tsk.) over at Slugger has a post up on this subject, and this to say:
Anyway, if unionists are Nazis, how come the BNP has decided it ain't worth their while to set up shop here?
Perhaps because their natural constituency is already so admirably catered for with the Loyalists and the Orange order? Just a thought.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 

Irish Blog Awards

Should be fun (we see Damien has set up a home for it).

Plus, it's quite a bit more transparent than a certain other self-proclaimed "Irish blog awards" of recent infamy...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 

Digital Rights Ireland launches

See here. We wish them the very best of luck.

This is important work, affecting our rights and liberties in this digital age - the corporate b*stards haven't gone away, you know.


A Brass Neck

Some out there may be familiar with Fox News nutjob star personality Bill O'Reilly - if not, you're missing pure comedy gold. We'd highly recommend this Newsday interview with the man himself as an introduction to a clearly-deranged individual. A paranoid, racist, homophobic bully given to pathological lying, Bill's a shining example of the conservative media pundits to be found preaching to the so-called Bush base.

Among the many (believe us on this) choice quotes:

"Gauging the animus against O'Reilly has always been a rough art, but by his own estimation "it's gotten worse. Now it's so bad that I spend an enormous amount of money protecting myself against evil."

One usual suspect behind this rising tide of hatred, he says, is the Liberal Media Establishment, infuriated because it "can't marginalize me." But whatever the reason, almost exactly a year since he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with former Fox News producer Andrea Mackris - the anniversary is next Thursday - the embattled life of O'Reilly has become an increasingly strange and scary one.

As O'Reilly puts it, here are the facts: There are death threats. He has to hire bodyguards. He can't check into hotels with his family. People on the street with cell phones are stealth paparazzi, capable of snagging a picture one minute, then posting it on the Web the next. He adds that during the past year he's had to "even get more stuff to make it more difficult for people to get through the wire. Who wants to live like that?"

And as a direct consequence of the lawsuit - which was settled for undisclosed terms and which both parties agreed to never speak of publicly - O'Reilly must have a third person present whenever he conducts a rare interview like this one, or talks to someone on the phone. (Dave Tabacoff, executive producer of "The O'Reilly Factor" is the minder on this early fall day.) "Anyone can accuse me of anything and [then] it's on a Web site.""
Indeed. If you enjoy Falafel, we'd strongly recommend that you not follow this link (warning: definitely not work-safe) to find out exactly what Bill's referring to.

p.s. more O'Reilly goodness from the dependable P. O'Neill.


Academic Standards

Michael Berubé appears to have resolved one of the great questions of our time:
"And yes, I know I was finishing this book last fall and then again last spring. But this time I’m really finishing it. Just you wait and see. This is gonna be the most finished book I’ve ever finished.

Of course, it would have been easier to write books the Jonah Goldberg way (the link is to Brad DeLong, because for some reason this item is no longer available in the NRO archives):

WANTED: HERBERT SPENCER EXPERT [Jonah Goldberg] I’m working on a chapter of the book which requires me to read a lot about and by Herbert Spencer. There’s simply no way I can read all of it, nor do I really need to. But if there are any real experts on Spencer out there—regardless of ideological affiliation—I’d love to ask you a few questions in case I’m missing something.
But I just couldn’t go that route, dear friends. As you know, I have dedicated much of my life over the past two years to solving the mystery of why there aren’t more conservatives on college faculties. And I think I may, at long last, have discovered an important clue."
We reckon he has, too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005 

Hiatus Part Deux

Free Stater will be pulling down the shutters for a while, starting tonight. Normal service will resume in a week or so. In the meantime, please visit the usual suspects we've got listed along the right-hand side. Also, in an attempt to atone for the male-domination of our blogroll, we'll direct people to three additional 'Irish' female bloggers we've recently discovered: Mental Meanderings, Verbal Collage and Maman Poulet. Interesting blogs, all.

(Meta-comment: I see that Free Stater has exceeded 4,000 hits. Pretty astonishing, and a poke in the eye to a certain Freedom Blogger who told me not so long ago that "no-one reads your blog anyway". A very big thank you to the people out there who keep coming here to read these meagre scribblings)

Tuesday, October 11, 2005 


Go see in your local cineplex. Great entertainment (made on a shoestring budget, too).


Freedom of Speech, China-style.

Maybe our Government could pause for a moment to consider this, before they next wine and dine Chinese officials on behalf of Mammon.


Teachers now being executed in Iraq

Five Sunni teachers were dragged out of their school two weeks ago and shot to death by insurgents. Now, it's happened again.

I blame the MSM, who just won't report the good news from Iraq, like the schools we've rebuilt that we destroyed in the first place.

Monday, October 10, 2005 

Carole Coleman on the Bush interview

Irish people won't need to be told which interview we're talking about. Carole Coleman (the former Washington Correspondent for Irish national broadcaster RTÉ) was gifted with an exclusive interview with Dear Leader President Bush in advance of his trip to Ireland last June, during the Irish EU presidency.

What ensued was probably the one and only time that Dubya has actually faced a real, live political reporter (and not the poodles in the White House press corps) and led to rare glimpse into the petulant bully that's the real Bush. See here for the RealPlayer video (beginning at 15:25). Bernie Goldbach has a transcript here.

Well, Ms. Coleman recounted her side of story in an RTÉ Guide interview which appeared shortly afterwards, and was notable mainly for the predictable tidbit that Dubya's aides try to carefully pre-screen what questions are to be asked. Now, however, Carole has given a more in-depth account in the Sunday Times (of all papers). The whole article is worth reading for an insight into BubbleBoy's carefully-insulated universe, and the efforts taken to maintain the illusion of a 'great man' for the American people:
"At the studio I handed over the tapes. My phone rang. It was MC, and her voice was cold.
“We just want to say how disappointed we are in the way you conducted the interview,” she said.
“How is that?” I asked.
“You talked over the president, not letting him finish his answers.”
“Oh, I was just moving him on,” I said, explaining that I wanted some new insight from him, not two-year-old answers.
“He did give you plenty of new stuff.”
She estimated that I had interrupted the president eight times and added that I had upset him. I was upset too, I told her. The line started to break up; I was in a basement with a bad phone signal. I took her number and agreed to call her back. I dialled the White House number and she was on the line again.
“I’m here with Colby,” she indicated.
“You were given an opportunity to interview the leader of the free world and you blew it,” she began.
I was beginning to feel as if I might be dreaming. I had naively believed the American president was referred to as the “leader of the free world” only in an unofficial tongue-in-cheek sort of way by outsiders, and not among his closest staff.
“You were more vicious than any of the White House press corps or even some of them up on Capitol Hill . . .The president leads the interview,” she said.
“I don’t agree,” I replied, my initial worry now turning to frustration. “It’s the journalist’s job to lead the interview.”
It was suggested that perhaps I could edit the tapes to take out the interruptions, but I made it clear that this would not be possible.
As the conversation progressed, I learnt that I might find it difficult to secure further co-operation from the White House. A man’s voice then came on the line. Colby, I assumed. “And, it goes without saying, you can forget about the interview with Laura Bush.”
Clearly the White House had thought they would be dealing with an Irish “colleen” bowled over by the opportunity to interview the Bushes. If anyone there had done their research on RTE’s interviewing techniques, they might have known better."
This is pretty much what was known before; but what hadn't come out until now was what happened the day after:

"I thought about the interview again as I climbed up the steps to RTE’s live camera position at Dromoland Castle to account for myself on the 6pm news next day. By now the White House had vented its anger to the Irish embassy in Washington. To make matters worse for the administration, the interview had made its way onto American television and CNN was replaying it around the world and by the end of the day it had been aired in Baghdad.
Had I been fair? Should I just have been more deferential to George Bush? I felt that I had simply done my job and shuddered at the thought of the backlash I would surely have faced in Ireland had I not challenged the president on matters that had changed the way America was viewed around the world.
Afterwards I bumped straight into the taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, who was waiting to go on air.
“Howya,” he said, winking.
“I hope this hasn’t caused you too much hassle, taoiseach,” I blurted.
“Arrah, don’t worry at all; you haven’t caused me one bit of hassle,” he smiled wryly.
I don’t know what he said to the president, who reportedly referred to the interview immediately upon arrival, but if the taoiseach was annoyed with me or with RTE, he didn’t show it."
That's our El Berto - whatever else he may be, an unflappable class act.

Sunday, October 09, 2005 

Free Enterprise returns to Iraq

Who says that no good news ever comes out of Iraq? Tom Griffin has required reading on an outfit called Heritage Oil, which is busily at work in Kurdistan.


'Irish Blog Awards'

Damien Mulley suggests that the Boggersphere is at the stage where we might consider setting up an annual Irish Blog Awards. Which is a good idea which the Free Stater blog is more than happy to endorse. There is, however, a dark cloud on the otherwise sunny horizon, as Damien has noted:
"But this idea isn't unique. Seems that bastion of balance - the Freedom Institute came up with their very own Irish Blogs Award 2005, way back in urm February. Not sure how the voting system worked. They officially called it the "Liberty Blog Awards for 2005" though, so maybe if another Irish Blogs Awards happened they wouldn't mind too much? And if they did it would only generate more attention for these awards. Even better."

A little investigation of our own shows that the 'voting' panel consisted of "Paul MacDonnell (Director of the Open Republic Institute), Paul Daly (Journalist) and Philip O’Sullivan (Freedom Institute Spokesperson)". Digging a little deeper, we see that Mr. McDonnell once referred in a Wall Street Journal article to Gaelic Irish being a "pseudo-aboriginal ethnicity", though we're not too sure if his fellow directors would agree (curiously, though the FI link to the ORI, it doesn't appear to be reciprocated). Mr. Daly we presume to be the same individual who popped up the previous year as a member of - you guessed it - the Freedom Institute. Mr. O'Sullivan is, we suspect, a certain pseudonymous contributor to the FI's blog.

Surely an independent panel unlikely to be hewing to the FI's right-wing, slavishly pro-UK/US ideological line in picking winning blogs.

Our Bushophile friends have referred to their gongs variously as the "Liberty Blog Awards" and the "Irish Blog Awards 2005". We would guess that the latter title was in much the same spirit as the Freedom boys declare themselves "Ireland's Centre for Social, Economic and Political Studies.". (Given the capitalist, nothing-in-life-is-free imprimateur which drives the FI, we suggest that Damien apply for the copyright on "Irish Blog Awards" post haste, just in case)

Taking a look at the Freedom Institute's "Liberty Blog/Irish Blog Awards", we note the following worthies:

  • Best Overall Blog Mark Humphrys
  • Best Political Analysis Blackline
  • Best Economic Analysis Atlantic Blog
  • Best Appearance Richard Delevan
  • Best Humour Richard Delevan
  • Best International Blog Little Green Footballs
(One raving nutter, one Freedom blogger, one former lecturer and Godfather to the FI, one bitter rightwing American ex-pat (and ex-Herald hack), and the vilest pit of snakes today running a blog. Need we say more?)

Back to Mr. Mulley's idea. We'd throw in the following categories as well:

  • Best American Ex-pat Blog
  • Best Political Blog
  • Best Technology Blog
  • Best Legal Blog
  • Best Group Blog
  • Best Commenter
  • Best Photography Blog
  • Best Personal Blog
Our final word on this is to enquire on the eligible constituency. We're not big on voting based on (blog) property, but we'd wonder if all of Peter Nolan's sock-puppets should really be allowed individual votes...

1st March 2009: changed now-defunct ORI link to Wayback archive of same

Saturday, October 08, 2005 

Farewell to the FCÁ

As Maca over at Raiméis notes, October 1st saw the end of the FCÁ (an Fórsa Cosanta Áitiuil) and the Slua Muirí, to be replaced by the new Reserve Defence Forces.

This is an unavoidable development, coming as it does in tandem with fundamental changes in the Defence Forces as a whole (these changes themselves driven by the progressing militarisation of the EU). The Second Line Reserve changed beyond recognition in recent years with the coming of increased professionalism and integration with the PDF. Several units have been amalgamated, and integrated elements have been created inside the establishments of PDF units. Equipment and training are also being brought up to PDF standards (goodbye to the Bren LMG!). Within the decade we will see the first official deployment of Irish military reservists abroad on operational UN service.

However, a lot of Irish people will be nostalgic for a quaint (and archetypically Irish) institution central to our formative years, which has now passed into history. It will be fondly missed.

(The Reserve Defence Forces Implementation Plan is here. Warning - 17MB Acrobat document)


Fisking Bush

Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog should be required reading for anyone looking to understand the war in Iraq, and the Middle East in general.

In a new post, Cole tackles Bush's high-profile speech last week. John over at Irish Eagle considers it a success, and that "the eyes are now back on the prize". Reading Cole's rebuttal, though, gives a whole different perspective, showing up the impossibility of taking any part of Bush's speech seriously. Too many commentators still have faith in an Emperor with no clothes.

How many times can Bush peddle falsehoods about al Qaeda and be given a free pass on it by otherwise smart, intelligent people? Why do clearly decent people still have confidence in a political leader who is either an ignorant fool or a compulsive liar?


Vienna - Open Source RSS reader for Mac

Pretty cool. I've started using it in the past week, and it's a vast improvement over using the RSS features in Safari and Firefox.

One particularly useful feature is that, because it uses components of Safari, you can keep interesting articles open in tabbed windows within the app. All in all, highly recommended.

(thanks to TUAW)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 

Winning Muslim Hearts & Minds

The Military-Industrial Complex shows how it's done.

(via Crooks & Liars)



This is interesting. And it looks as though the investigation into Conrad Black's appropriation of Hollinger money is still chugging away, too. (Kudos to Wolcott for both links)

All it needs now is for someone to uncover what really went on with the Waterford Crystal 'B' sample (I tells ya, the story with that nag seems like something out of a Mafia film) and I'd be in Schadenfreude heaven...


Some more completely realistic excuses on US torture

Fafblog (a long-time favourite) reels them off.


I checked to see that it wasn't April Fool's...

PNAC's latest stunt is this. In an Irish context, they'll probably find a fair number of Fine Gaelers and PD's ready to be useful idiots...

Monday, October 03, 2005 

Hitchens gets slapped around

Go read Juan Cole.

Whatever else he is, Hitchens isn't stupid; he's got to realise by this stage what a cock-up this has been. Hence the recent scrabbling around for new justifications (the Kurds - as if! - and his laughable deception about Zarqawi) in order to try to salvage whatever scraps of intellectual credibility he has left.


Heh. Indeed.

See this.


Some slight discrepancies on Iraq

A good question on some of the continual good news the Pentagon feeds us.


More on US torture

Scott Horton over at Balkinization has required reading for people not familiar with how militaries (in particular the US Army) actually work, and on the case for it being nearly certain that the highest levels knew about what was going on.


On Ice

Atrios isn't the only one who's going to have the champagne chilling. Free Stater notes that in a show of cosmic karma, Thatcher is about to be pulled into the downfall of Tom DeLay in the US.

Wonder if she'll 'do a Pinochet'?

Sunday, October 02, 2005 

Caption Contest

Schadenfreude ahead, me hearties. See FI Fie Foe Fum for the details.



Bali bombings

Saturday, October 01, 2005 

The Daily Mail is launching an Oirish edition

What he said. Though at least - once the novelty wears off - it'll make it easy to get a head-count on just how many West Brit, self-hating muppets there are in Dublin (outside of Myers, and the hacks on the Sindo).

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)


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