Friday, December 16, 2005 

Irrational paranoia strikes at Freedom HQ

See FI Fie Foe Fum for your latest Freedom Institute commentary.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 

Mark Steyn has left the building, folks

Knocking about the comments over at Back Seat Drivers recently, we were surprised to be told by Dick O'Brien that Mark Steyn has been MIA from his regular op-ed at the Irish Times for some while now (and we see that the IT gig has now disappeared from Steyn's CV on his own website).

Keeping our ear to the ground for further news, we came across the following in Pat Leahy's Any other business column in last week's Sunday Business Post:
Still with the Irish Times, it appears that differences have emerged between management gnomes and controversial colmnist Mark Steyn.

Apparently one of his columns was spiked and he gathered up his skirts in a sulk. The column hasn't appeared since, which has deprived countless letter-writers of the opportunity to be outraged.

We will continue our investigations into whether this was an outrageous stifling of free speech by the editor or a courageous decision on the grounds of taste and decency.

Could go either way at the moment.

As to the "stifling of free speech" vs. "taste and decency" debate, we're tempted to sit on the fence until we see what emerges in the fullness of time. Madam Editor did, indeed, infamously spike a John Waters column that had the temerity to question the generous remuneration IT bigwigs were awarding themselves (at the same time as telling everyone else to tighten their belts, inevitably).

On the other hand, Madam was the one who hired Steyn in the first place; and who also let Kevin Myers go ahead with his 'bastards' column without a murmur, then made this extraordinarily conceited apology. Given that brave Kevin has been given free rein for years to insult who he likes (especially the recently-departed, as in the late Captain James Kelly), we rather doubt the sudden outbreak of 'taste and decency'. So, we await the next few issues of The Phoenix with some interest, as the full tale will undoubtedly leak to His Nibs.

Reports that champagne corks could be heard popping in the Wicklow hills at the news of Steyn's white-feather behaviour cannot, alas, be confirmed as of this time. Unfortunately for his many wingnut fans out there, it appears that Mark Steyn just isn't manly enough to stay the course in a non-Conrad Black publication, unlike the heroic Colonel Myers (who has battled the great unwashed Irish public for years).

Stay tuned for updates as we get them in.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 

Chalk and Cheese

Kevin over at Disillusioned Lefty has a question:
"If we were to put one Fianna Fáil supporter and one Fianna Gael enthusiast into the same room, before instructing them to discuss their respective parties' policies, but ordering them not to name or make reference to their party, would the ten ordinary citizens - who we order to listen in - have any idea which person was aligned to Fianna Fail, and which to Fine Gael? I wouldn't be able to, and I'm fairly sure the majority of voters would struggle too."
We're game to put forward some stereotypes:

Fianna Fáil - GAA, overwhelmingly Catholic, the smaller farmers and businessmen, Christian/De La Salle Brothers, 'new money', Gaelic surnames.

Fine Gael - Rugger-buggers, a large Protestant minority (though still conservative), 'old money' pretensions and social airs, the bigger farmers and business types who find the PDs both too liberal and too Liberal, private-school education, Old English surnames.

Feel free to flame away, folks.

Monday, December 12, 2005 

One for the Christmas decoration veterans out there

We've got a set of chaser lights (basically, four sets of coloured lights going to a switch box) which die after a minute or two. One of the sets doesn't light at all.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


The Old Comrades Network falters

We see that Labour TD Liz McManus has set up a blog. Fairly anodyne stuff (as politicians' blogs can be) but one curiosity leapt out at us on her biography page:
"Political Career:

-Elected to Dáil Éireann in 1992, re-elected in 1997 and 2002
-Elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in 2002.
-Minister of State for Housing & Urban Renewal 1994-1997
-President of the Informal Council of Housing Ministers during the EU Irish Presidency in 1996
-Member of the Northern Ireland Forum for Peace & Reconciliation 1994-97
-Chair of the Task Force on the Needs of the Travelling Community 1993
-First Elected to Bray UDC in 1979 and Wicklow County Council 1995"
There's something rather important - and obvious - missing from this political resumé. And it's the same thing missing from those of Pat Rabbitte, Proinsias de Rossa, Joe Sherlock, Eamon Gilmore and Kathleen Lynch. The Stickies' penchant for historical revisionism extends to their former lives as leading members of the Stalinist Worker's Party, it seems.

And perhaps it's just as well (for the continued prosperity of Rabbitte & Co.) that all this disappears into the memory hole, as the dire straits of current Worker's Party leader Seán Garland make clear. Wanted by the Bush administration for an alleged Chinese-North Korean plot to flood Western economies with the so-called 'superdollars', Garland has fled to the Republic in an attempt to evade extradition to Guantanamo American custody. The current edition (sub. required) of Phoenix Magazine has more:
"[...]However [Garland] will get no support from the Labour Party leadership.
The Labour Party is now led by former comrades – the leader and deputy leader, Pat Rabbitte and Liz McManus, as well as its most impressive parliamentary performer, Eamon Gilmore and the party’s sole MEP, former WP president, Proinsias De Rossa. The studied and embarrassed silence from this quarter about Garland’s predicament when he was scooped by the Brits in Belfast was deafening.
At a time when even the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, pledged to raise his case with the American authorities – coupled with a neutral but benign statement from Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, that he was monitoring the situation – the Labour leadership remained mute. It was left to former Labour leader Ruairí Quinn to follow his constituency rival John Gormley – as he has begun to do in areas like the Shannon-US Army collaboration – in questioning the British extradition warrant of Garland.
Several other deputies spoke in support of Garland – including Labour’s Michael D Higgins, Jan O’Sullivan and Joe Costello – but there wasn’t a squeak out of Rabbitte or the other ex-stickies in Labour’s leadership. Such political cowardice might help to explain WP comrade Des O’Hagan’s speech, delivered just days after this parliamentary debate, in which he excoriated the same excomrades.


Garland is entitled to feel deeply betrayed by these midlife converts to social democracy. Rabbitte and company were comrades of Garland for many years but have remained publicly mute in the face of repeated accusations that their party was associated with the illegal fund raising operations of the OIRA. Rabbitte and the other former WP deputies can be accused of many things but stupidity and political naivete are not among them. Only when the Eastern block collapsed did the WP split and only then did the parliamentarians begin to voice their concern at rumours of illegality. And while Rabbitte has since been extremely vocal about the need for the Provos to decommission their weapons, he has never demanded that OIRA decommission its weapons."
Garland - guilty or not - has reason to feel sore that the "social democrat" opportunists pragmatists who split a decade or more ago have decided to pull a Peter on him, and that former Stickie strongholds in the Irish media are now putting the knife in (Update: more here). But others may feel that chickens have finally come home to roost, not least the former campaigners to free the unjustly-imprisoned Birmingham Six:
"Perhaps the best example of how Garland and the WP have isolated themselves from their own, natural peergroup came in a letter he sent to the moderate, non-Sinn Féin and most definitely non-subversive committee set up to assist the Birmingham Six to clear their name in the late ‘80s. Responding to the committee’s request for WP support for the campaign, Garland replied “It is our opinion that a committee such as yours, because of statements made by some of its members expressing support for the Provisional IRA terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland and in Britain, is more liable to damage the prospects these people have of securing any redress”. Garland had to retract and apologise for this statement against the committee members but still the WP did nothing to assist the campaign for the Birmingham Six (see The Phoenix, 22/3/1991)."
Nevertheless, we would judge the fundamental characteristic of justice to be that it applies to all, no matter how much we might personally enjoy seeing the old bugger in irons. As the Phoenix warns in conclusion:
"Now 72 years, with health problems and in danger of political extinction, Garland also faces physical extinction if Bush and the neo-cons get hold of him."
The Irish Government has so far done a piss-poor job of living up to our obligations not to act as an accessory to torture. It's not a defence to say that the rest of the EU were also allegedly party to a secret plan to allow this, too. Keep him home!

Sunday, December 11, 2005 

Some blog gossip

Waiting around for the fabled Irish Blog Awards to appear (only joking...!), we noticed that Joblog regular commenter The Troll has come to the attention of a certain (Christian) blog favourite of ours.

We see that Slugger is also up for an award as Best UK Blog (ahem) in these Weblog Awards. This affair is highly rightwing-skewed (courtesy of who's running it), so they could do with a few extra votes from South of the border, we reckon.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 

Alas, Poor Dilbert

Auds has noted this snarky piece by 'Dilbert' creator Scott Adams on blog debates, posted over at Adams' own blog.

It may clear matters up if we mention that he's been on the receiving end of a recent series of drubbings by Pharyngula's P.Z.Myers (over Adams' tolerance of Intelligent Design). This is probably Adams' last salvo in this particular exchange, one-sided as it turned out to be.


Some comments on the Feminism Debate

While busy with an (unexpected) house-guest and other things these past couple of weeks, we had time to at least keep some sort of tab on hot topics on the blogs. So we've been following the whole debate on feminism started off by this post with interest - not least because it tied into similar debate on US blogs a little while back about women piggy-backing on feminism yet disparaging it in public. (Predictably enough, it's Althouse. And do check out the comments to Echidne's post...)

We're (perhaps wisely) going to try to keep our noses out of it. But one graf from Auds at realitycheck(dot)ie we want to comment on, as it also concerns the male sex (on which point we claim inborn expertise):
"With the 60s and 70s a new wave of feminism emerged – the sexual revolution – a new “woman’s lib” which could have been as easily orchestrated by Hugh Hefner of the Playboy empire!
Freedom for the prosaic and stifling life of the home was promised through free love. The oral contraceptive pill effectively separated children from sex – irreversibly changing the perception of sex – from the procreative to the purely pleasurable changing the context of sex from within a loving, stable and committed relationship to a fleeting physical encounter and changing the expectation of sex for women – instead of mating with her husband for life who would father her children and enable her to fulfil her potential as a mother and as a woman to hoping that he won’t roll over in the morning and tell her that she’s crap in bed."
We feel the need to point out that for many (most?) men it historically has been a "fleeting physical encounter", as a simple matter of biology (and anthropology as well, we guess). The facts of life were that until recently, men didn't get pregnant but women could, so sex had vastly different consequences depending on your gender - witness the abandoned mothers, even today. The advent of the Pill merely extends this freedom (long enjoyed by men) to the female sex, and it shouldn't be begrudged.

And we rather think that the point at which feminism - and by that we mean the fight for equality of the sexes which Auds seems to slight - has succeeded is when the woman can be the one to roll over and as a matter of course speak up for her sexual needs. Not that we've ever had such complaint, you understand.

p.s. while Auds says of Madam Robinson "while I consider her radical, would not be viewed as a waaay-out-there radical feminist", we note that Freedom Institute object of worship David Horowitz considers her worthy of a place on his "Discover The Network" conspiracy blacklist. Though sadly, he has yet to discover the links between our former President and Osama bin Laden. A breach for Davey Vance to leap into?


American 'Peace Mom' Cindy Sheehan coming to Dublin

We note that anti-Iraq war campaigner and thorn in Bush's side Cindy Sheehan (mother of a dead GI killed in Iraq) is to come to Dublin this Tuesday 13th December to give a speech, courtesy of Socialist Workers Party front-group[1] the Irish Anti-War Movement. See her blog here.

Expect a Myers hatchet-job at about the same time, no doubt repeating some of the vile smears already trotted out against the woman in the US by the GOP.

[1] No, this isn't open to dispute.

"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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