Friday, September 29, 2006
Ahern going under
Exactly a week ago I commented on the biggest crisis of the Taoiseach's political career as he faced questions on payments he receieved from wealthy businessman. Now, a week on, the crisis hasn't gone away. In fact, it's become much worse.
Akin to a drowning man flailing about wildly in the ocean, Ahern has been busy scurrying about trying to repair the damage he caused due to his need to accept cash from his 'friends in high places'. You could see the desperation etched in the face of Ahern as he gave an interview to RTE over the scandal where he stated that a group of his friends made two separate payments to him in 1993 and 1994 totalling IR£39,000.
The drowning man has other problems to contend with too.
The Opposition have smelled blood as well as panic. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said it was a 'very grave' situation for Mr Ahern, and that questions on ethics and tax arose as a result of the interview. Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said it was 'stretching credulity' to describe the payment as a loan. He claimed that that it in reality it was a gift which raises taxation questions. Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said Mr Ahern had misled the Irish people by saying the reported figure of €50,000 to €100,000 was 'off the wall', when in fact it was accurate while Sinn Féin's Sean Crowe said the amount involved was very large, and could have bought a house in 1993.
As this wave of controversy descends on the drowning man plunging him further into the depths of despair, Fianna Fáil's coalition partners, the PDs, have offered no help. Like trepid onlookers from the shore, they have been content to observe Ahern's frantic efforts to come through the ordeal without extending a hand of help. Asked about the controversy over the payments to the Taoiseach, Mr McDowell today said:
"We want to see our programme for Government implemented."
Ahern is on his own
Then again, can anyone really blame the PDs for not wanting to rush to Ahern's aid? After all, would you assist a drowning man who would pull you under in the process?
That is the reality of this situation and why Ahern must feel utterly isolated. He has been abandoned to cold, shark-infested waters, while all the while he is faced with fresh waves of controversy that toss him about and leave him disorientated and in disarray.
As he gazes out on to the shore he witnesses the band of uneasy onlookers anxiously waiting for him to go under for good.
I feel they won't have to wait long.
See Borat's film or he'll be executed...
Natives of the central Asian republic however don't seem to appreciate Cohen's satirical take on their country and have even shut down his website there.
I think they need to lighten up. After all, as Wilde once put it, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Check out this classic clip below of Cohen's Ali G character offering his take on the political situation here in Ireland. The bit with the DUP's Sammy Wilson is pure gold.
Ali G: "So is you Irish?"
Sammy: "No I'm British."
Ali G: "So is you 'ere on holiday?"
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Europe beats the USA!
Europe cruised to a 18½-9½ victory as Captain Ian Woosnam's team proved too much for Tom Lehman's men.
Once again Irish golfers played a part and surely the best part of the victory was NI's Darren Clarke getting a rapturous reception as he defeated America's Zach Johnson.
Clarke of course tragically lost his wife Heather to cancer last month and needed a captain's wildcard to make the side. Woosnam and US star Tiger Woods embraced Clarke following the win. Said Clarke:
"This is as good as it gets.
"My team has been unbelievable and the support the Americans have shown me has been incredible.
"The support from the crowd is something that I will cherish forever."
American captain Tom Lehman added:
"I need to tip my hat completely to the European team. Our team came very ready, but maybe we weren't ready enough."
Picture says it all
This event had been eagerly anticipated here in Ireland and I think it can be regarded as a success, despite the best efforts of the weather to put a dampener on things.
On another note I must say that I enjoy seeing Irish, English and other European nationalities working together for the common good. Funny how it almost always works smoothly in sport but yet not in politics.
This is something I don't often say but well done Europe!
Saturday, September 23, 2006
They should egg the lot of 'em
In his new book, journalist and TV presenter Jeremy Paxman has claimed that the Prince of Wales is so fussy about his soft boiled eggs that his staff cook several for him.
Writing in On Royalty and quoted in The Guardian, Paxman writes:
"If the Prince felt that number five was too runny, he could knock the top off number six or seven."
The eggs are said to be laid out in an "ascending row of hardness" so the Prince can ensure his snack is cooked to perfection.
Journalist Paxman claims his source for the "extraordinary" story is "one of the prince's friends".
Paxman himself says in the book - which he partly researched by staying at royal residence Sandringham - that there would inevitably be doubts over the egg claims:
"Although it came from one of the prince's friends, it seems so preposterously extravagant as to be unbelievable.
"And yet so many jaw-dropping stories have emerged of the way in which his household is run that it can sound credible. "
'I need my eggs done perfectly'
Justify the status quo to this person
Sure enough, as Paxman predicted, the Royals are denying the story with a spokeswoman for Clarence House saying the claim was "totally untrue".
I do not doubt the claims myself since, as Paxman pointed out, we've heard bizarre stories such as this in the past.
It's fairly obvious that if you put human beings up on a pedestal purely because of their bloodlines and swamp them in fantastic wealth and extravangant luxury that they will begin to engage in this sort of odd, disturbing, self-centred behaviour.
The British have only themselves to blame really. They should do something they should have done a long time ago and serve these sponges their notice. Send them out into the real world to fend for themselves just like the rest of the human race.
If they don't, the British taxpayer will be left with egg on their faces whilst Charles will continue to be left with egg in his belly - cooked to perfection of course.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Has Bertie been a bold boy?
It seems Bertie Ahern is getting a bit hot under the collar after huge question marks were raised over his personal finances. Oh what fun it was to see Mr Popular (if you believe the polls) squirming as he was bombarded with question after question regarding claims he received between €50,000 and €100,000 from businessman David McKenna, and perhaps others, in 1993.
The Mahon Tribunal is examining four payments made to the Taoiseach in December 1993, some of which were in cash. If you have read today's papers, you will see the latest story doing the rounds is that Bertie took the money to pay for his legal separation from Miriam Ahern. Tut-Tut Taoiseach!
I find this delightful particularly since earlier this month, in a Sunday Tribune poll when asked who they wanted as Taoiseach, exactly 50% of the electorate opted for Bertie Ahern. Even more worrying, an Irish Examiner/Lansdowne poll found that Ahern commands a greater degree of public confidence than his potential successor Enda Kenny. Perhaps these morons who have backed Ahern will now reflect on their foolishness in light of recent developments...
So what's been Bertie "I am not a crook" Ahern's response to the questions on his finances? Well in regard to how much he was paid:
"[This] allegation is just an unfair, unjust leak."
"I'm not answering what I got for my holy communion money, my confirmation money, what I got for my birthday, what I got for anything else."
Well unless you went knocking on the doors of wealthy powerful businessmen for your communion and confirmation, we don't actually care about that Bertie. What we care about is you being honest with the electorate. So who gave Ahern money? Well according to the Taoiseach...
"What I got personally in my life, to be frank with you, is none of your business."
Oh is that right? I'll be sure to make a note of that when the next general election comes round in nine months.
'The money was just resting in my account'
This is the biggest crisis of Ahern's political career and it couldn't have come at a worse time for him. Hopefully those Irish people who are deeply embedded up the man's rear end will pry their eyes out from that dark abyss and instead join the rest of us in seeing the light - that Fianna Fáil's gangsterism hasn't gone away.
I'm so sick of my country's political figures going around acting like characters in The Sopranos.
"Hey Mr Minister. I got a very pretty package comin' your way."
"I appreciate that Tony."
"Forget 'bout it!"
Well hopefully the Irish public won't forget about it but instead keep a close eye on the goings on in the Mahon Tribunal.
We all remember how earlier this year every main political player in the country fell over themselves fawning over Charles Haughey upon his death. The man who bent over to every businessman that looked at him with a twinkle in their eye had his sins apparently cleansed from memory as his murky past was allowed to go unacknowledged in a wave of brownnosing bullshit.
This kind of ridiculousness can't be condoned. Every Minister, be they a humble backbencher or the highest office-holder in the land, must be answerable to the electorate. It is the essence of democracy and of a republic.
Ahern of course was one of those who poured words of praise upon Haughey at his funeral.
I'd hate to think there was a deeper significance to that outpouring...
"History will have to weigh up the credit and the debit side more dispassionately than may be possible today but, I have no doubt its ultimate judgement on Mr. Haughey will be a positive one." - Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, June 2006.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Pope's remarks row rumbles on...
I must admit I'm disturbed at the way so many Muslims have gone absolutely ape-shit over remarks that Pope Benedict XVI made in a speech this past week in Germany.
The Pope quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and an educated Persian, on the truths of Christianity and Islam:
"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war."
"He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"
Now when I read the remarks myself a few days ago I sensed there would be a backlash. As a Catholic, my take on this is that the Pope made comments that were ill-advised. Thus I was pleased to hear Pope Benedict XVI come out and say he was sorry his speech offended Muslims. In a statement read out by a senior Vatican official, the Pope said he respected Islam and hoped Muslims would understand the true sense of his words.
What pisses me off though is how leading Islamic figures are saying that they are still not satisfied and how they seem to want to engage in conflict over this issue. Whatever happened to robust debate eh? Egypt has since come out and warned the Pope's remarks could incite violence between Muslims and Christians. What are you kidding me?
This whole controversy is strikingly similar to the Danish cartoon controversy from a few months back. Several Muslims get offended by what they perceive to be a negative, stereotypical view placed on themselves as people who are bloodthirsty and violent. Their response? To live up to this very stereotype by coming out with comments that seem to support the spilling of blood and violence.
Anyone else see the inherent problem with this approach?
Apparently 'sticks & stones' is not a concept these guys are familiar with...
In Pakistan, Pope Benedict was universally condemned and in Turkey, the ruling party likened him to Hitler and Mussolini and accused him of reviving the mentality of the Crusades. At least they haven't overreacted or anything...
In Egypt about 100 worshippers demonstrated after Friday prayers at Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque, the Sunni Arab world’s most prominent institution, chanting, "Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the Pope!"
Many attributed the Pope’s comments to a larger political bias against Muslims:
"This is part of the whole war against Islam. Whenever we close a door on evil, they open another door," said an Egyptian man who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
"These Christians are all infidels. Benedict himself is an infidel and a blind man. Doesn’t he see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places were waged by Christians?" another worshipper said.
As you will have noticed, apparently it's OK for all Christians to be branded as "infidels" but it's the final horror if all Muslims are tarred with the same brush. A bit of consistency wouldn't go amiss.
I'm really getting sick and tired at the way the Muslim world seems to be spoiling for a fight with other religions based upon the words or actions of a few. Yes the Pope made remarks that are hard to defend but he apologised for them.
Can we not move on now from all of this or must we have a holy war?
Heaven help us.
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