Classic ‘slow news day’ story on RTE.ie does little more than stoke northside v southside and public v private sector conflicts

THE ISSUE

Maybe as well as talking about ‘Fake News’ we should also be coining a term like ‘Hate News’?

THE MEDIA

Article by John Kilraine – ‘Dublin Correspondent’ on RTE.ie on January 24, 2018

Row over ‘inferior’ planter boxes on Dublin’s northside

“To me this just epitomises an attitude in the city council – a northside/southside divide,” he said.

THE COMMENT

When a comment by one independent councillor is considered a ‘row’ by a major Iriish news source, you know it’s a slow news day.

This is the comment I saw on Facebook that accompanied the link to this complete non-story…

Oh FFS!!!
This is what our public servants who get paid with our hard earned taxes, spend their time bleating about!! With all that needs doing in the city! Give me strength!!

Personally I’d be more concerned about our hard earned TV licence money that’s going to our national broadcaster.

#IANWAE

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Trump has done nothing but shut down key parts of government since he took office but you wouldn’t know it listening to Democrats and media

THE ISSUE

Whether it’s through stupidity, unwillingness or incompetence, the Democrat leadership cannot get across the simple message that Donald Trump’s agenda of racism, misogyny and pro-corporatism is bad for the American people, and the mainstream media isn’t much better.

THE MEDIA

YouTube clip by Dan Rather on The Young Turks on January 22, 2018

The Government Shutdown Ends With a ‘Promise’ For DACA Vote From the GOP – The News With Dan Rather

“…if most of the media ignore the year-long slow-motion shut down and if Democrats don’t raise enough stink about it, maybe it’s because too many of us have signalled that we’re on board”

THE COMMENT

Shortcomings with relief efforts in Puerto Rico.  Throwing millions off their medical insurance by hacking away at Obamacare.  Going after Medicare and Social Security.  Gutting the staff at the State Department.  Rescinding regulations for the sake of it.

Those are just some of the actions Donald Trump has taken since being sworn in just over a year ago, yet in recent days he has been able to frame the word ‘shutdown’ as meaning something that is only harmful to the US military, which already receives more funding than any other nation by a long, long way.

At first I was annoyed at myself for not realising that what the President has done since taking office is effectively a massive shutdown in itself, but I’m not involved with politics and government on a daily basis – the point is so simple and obvious that we have to wonder why his primary opposition, namely the Democrats and, as he calls them, ‘The Fake News Media’, haven’t been highlighting it all weekend?

Thankfully we have people like the legendary Dan Rather to get the message out there.  And as he points out, it’s possible that the general public is also complicit to an extent.

As I recently pointed out here on FPP, the likes of Chuck Schumer with his ‘bowl of Jello’ and Nancy Pelosi with her ‘poop Sundae’ simply don’t have the charisma necessary to deliver the kind of soundbites needed to combat Trump’s twitter tirades.  Meanwhile we have Dick Durbin gleefully using the word ‘bipartisanship’ as if it also necessarily means ‘fairness for the American people’.

Besides…if anything should have clinched the message battle for the Democrats re the latest shutdown it should have been that absolutely disgusting ad which suggested they would be responsible for any future murders by illegal immigrants.  That was nothing short of Hitler-esque propaganda [script most likely written by Stephen Miller] which speaks volumes for the intelligence levels of the demographic at which it was aimed.

The party badly needs new leadership.  Whether or not Mitch McConnell keeps to his word on DACA by February 8, the Democrats have left themselves wide open for negative press between now and then for having caved far too easily over the spending bill.

And there I was, very close to writing a post here praising them for finally showing a bit of fight.  Why do I allow myself to get so deluded?  JLP

#IANWAE

PS – As I’m about to publish, Trump has tweeted this :

I rest my case.

 

Ruth Coppinger TD highlights Government delay in carrying out recommendations of its own Citizens’ Assembly #RepealThe8th

THE ISSUE

Despite advice from both the Citizens Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee to proceed with a straight Yes/No referendum on Eighth Amendment Repeal, the Virtual Coalition Irish government of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the so-called Independent Alliance continues to drag its feet on setting a date.

THE MEDIA

Dáil Speech by Ruth Coppinger TD on Oireachtas.ie on January 17, 2018

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FRuthCoppingerTD%2Fvideos%2F1569784969778805%2F&show_text=0&width=560

“…this Dáil set up the Citizens’ Assembly in an outsourcing fashion and assumed it would come back with a much more minimal recommendation. There is always a danger when we entrust ordinary people with important decisions. They might actually listen, engage and fact-check the evidence they hear. They might come up with essentially compassionate and pro-choice recommendations. The recommendation of 12 weeks on request came from the Citizens’ Assembly.”

[full text of speech at the end of this post]

THE COMMENT

I can’t make a comment that’s any clearer than Deputy Coppinger’s statement to the Dáil and those of like-minded TDs.  We need a date for straight repeal referendum now.  Only then can the true debate begin.  JLP

#IANWAE

I am sharing time with Deputy Bríd Smith. I welcome the people who are in the Gallery for the debate but there are hundreds of people outside, members of the Strike 4 Repeal movement, in freezing cold temperatures, listening to the debate. Young people in this country are watching this issue like no other political issue and it will be the biggest political and social issue in 2018 and for many years to come. The people outside are waiting to hear the response of the Dáil to the all-party committee report and the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly, and an action plan from Government outlining what will happen and when it will be implemented.

The nub of the issue is that people want a simple repeal referendum by late May because that is the optimal time for the maximum participation of young people. Lest anybody be under any illusion, young people are the people most affected by this decision. This Dáil is not made up of young people but of a very unrepresentative sample of society in many ways. They want a referendum that will lead to change and real abortion legislation.

At the very minimum, that legislation must provide for unrestricted access to abortion up to 12 weeks. If anybody thinks that repeal can be avoided or that we can put it off until the autumn or until next year, if that was even contemplated, there would be a revolt among young people. If anyone thinks we can have a repeal referendum with very little change following it, that would also lead to a huge reaction. The tide cannot be held back on this issue any longer.

I have spoken on the issue of abortion a lot. I am tired of listening to myself, never mind what other people are tired of listening to. This is for a reason. It is because the idea of bodily autonomy is an absolute for young people. Abortion rights are what people want – not on this or that ground, not a “deserving” abortion. The concept of abortion rights is what most young people and a growing section of the population now believe in. Political parties cannot just hide behind repeal and think they can sail through the referendum without saying what will follow it. They cannot try to pretend they stand for things that they may not stand for. They can cut that out as well because—–

Deputy Simon Harris: We are not doing that.

Deputy Helen McEntee: We are not doing that.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: I am talking to the whole Dáil. In effect, this will be a referendum on abortion rights. In a sense, that is only natural. I do not think that this Dáil has the guts or the composition to bring in abortion legislation without a massive public endorsement and a push to do so. The concept of 12 weeks will be key in the referendum.

Solidarity-PBP is obviously pro-choice. It was the only fully pro-choice formation in the Dáil up until recent times. Hopefully, that will change. We have played a lead role in arguing this case and in the active movement for repeal. Solidarity-PBP recognises that these are historic recommendations. It is only four short years since the very same parties, arguing for change, voted in a 14-year jail sentence for women. That is a fact. What has brought this change about? We have heard many on the committee and others saying they were on a journey. The phrase has become very well worn and they have decontextualised it from the actual reality. People may have been on a journey but they were pushed to go on it, in many cases kicking and screaming. Change has been forced from outside. The evidence that was heard at the committee was very important. I played a role in arguing and advancing some of that evidence, very importantly in the case of the abortion pills, which are a crucial factor in the decision that has been reached and which have been cited by many people. The civil disobedience that was undertaken with regard to the abortion pills was also hugely important. The use of the abortion pill tripled in about three years, since particular actions were taken by organisations like ROSA and others. We need to be honest about where the change has come from.

We also need to be honest that this Dáil set up the Citizens’ Assembly in an outsourcing fashion and assumed it would come back with a much more minimal recommendation. There is always a danger when we entrust ordinary people with important decisions. They might actually listen, engage and fact-check the evidence they hear. They might come up with essentially compassionate and pro-choice recommendations. The recommendation of 12 weeks on request came from the Citizens’ Assembly. I also want to put on record that socioeconomic reasons up to 22 weeks unfortunately was not agreed by a majority of parties and groups but it was advanced by a strong minority. It was a bit of a cop-out, to be honest. Many women will not be able to fall in to a 12-week timeframe for many reasons and usually they will be the most vulnerable, the poorest and the youngest. All we are doing is continuing travel outside the State.

The other question I want to address is disability and severe abnormality. It is quite clear that people who are anti-abortion are going to use very emotive arguments about disability, Down’s Syndrome, etc. We have heard them already throughout this campaign. It is the case that the committee did not take a majority position of support in respect of severe abnormality. I take no moral lectures from anybody about a woman who would make a decision on those grounds. It is not a cake-walk bringing up a child with a severe disability. I refer particularly to parties and individuals who have done nothing to make their lives better and who have voted for cuts in disability services, etc.

The response of a huge number of Deputies has so far been to run for cover. A huge number have still not declared where they stand on this. If examining one’s conscience was an Olympic sport, numbers of Irish Deputies would be winning gold medals. There was a great play made around the time of the marriage equality referendum that everyone held hands in the Dáil and walked out and won the referendum. That was not the case and it will not be the case here because parties will not be united. There is not a party whip. The winning of the referendum will be down to huge numbers of active people, young people, women and communities.

For politicians who are feeling troubled, it is very simple. The two questions they need to ask and answer are these: first, whether they support abortion being legal or illegal, because it will continue regardless and, second, whether they actually support forcing people to remain pregnant who do not want to be pregnant. That is the logic of supporting a ban on abortion. People say there are extreme views on both sides. I do not think I have an extreme view. My view is that the person involved ultimately should make the decision. I think that is a humane view.

We need to give huge credit to the active campaigns like those from the people who are outside the House this evening. The protests have mushroomed in the last years, with the repeal jumpers being worn, people taking part in repeal protests and the strike for repeal. Women have themselves defied the unjust ban by ordering abortion pills online and we have seen events like the abortion pill train, bus, etc. that I mentioned. The recommendations of the committee arise from those social movements that have taken place on the ground.

Many people have invoked 1983 and 1984, the year that followed the eighth amendment, the crass hypocrisy around Ann Lovett, the Kerry babies, etc. There is now a growing movement for gender equality. We have seen it with Trump and with the #metoo movement. The movement taking place outside on repeal is the exact same. It is a movement for bodily autonomy and for abortion rights. The time is up now for politicians to be hiding on this issue. There is no hiding place left. Young people will not accept any further procrastination or restrictions.

I ask the Minister to state the date of the referendum. It has not been set. That is a key demand and question in the minds of people outside. The information we got from the Tánaiste earlier that the Government is not going to move a repeal Bill until early March is leaving it extremely tight. We need at least six weeks plus 30 days’ grace before the referendum can be called. Maybe the Minister would clarify that. To be clear, it has to be repeal simpliciter. This was debated by the committee. I do not have time to go into it. We will then need a complete scrapping of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

Irish Times lets Fine Gael off the hook big time in end-of-year love-in, er, I mean, podcast

THE ISSUE

The Irish political conversation is dominated by a narrative that insists the electorate’s only two options for government leadership are the so-called ‘Civil War’ parties.

THE MEDIA

Podcast by Irish Times – Inside Politics : ‘The Year In Politics’ on Tuesday, December 26, 2017

‘…people feel they can relate to these people more because they feel they have lived the same experiences they have…’

THE COMMENT

Over in the US, Donald Trump and his Republican-led government are constantly moaning and groaning under the weight of repeated challenging reporting from publications like the New York Times.  Too bad its Irish namesake doesn’t give our own recently-appointed political leader similar treatment, if this ‘end of year’ summary is anything to go by.

Essentially the all-male panel has given Leo Varadkar & co a free Party Political Podcast.  Wherever these are recorded, I pity the poor cleaning staff because they’ll have their work cut out removing all of Fine Gael’s 2017 political woes that have been swept under the carpet.

Apparently we are meant to have forgotten that this is the party that had to admit defeat on the water charges.  Well, when I say ‘admit’ defeat, I actually mean grudgingly concede it.

Apparently we are meant to have forgotten the fact that Varadkar rose to power under an electoral process within his party that was chronically tilted away from the grass roots members, meaning all he had to do was shmooze his way through his fellow TDs to get the nod.  This weighting method is very similar to that which saw Hillary Clinton controversially secure the 2016 Democratic nomination at the expense of Bernie Sanders.

Apparently we are meant to forget the homeless crisis still prevalent in the Republic, simply because the Taoiseach says so.

And apparently we are meant to forget the disgraceful whisteblower controversy which nearly sparked a Christmas election and ultimately cost the Tánaiste her job.

Nobody expects the mainstream media to completely ignore a government’s positives, but what this IT podcast has done is to summarize the Irish year in politics thusly…’Sure isn’t it great that our top cabinet members are all so young?‘ [paraphrase]

And as one of the leading bits of ‘evidence’ of the effects of having such youthful leadership, the ‘lads’ cite the Eighth Amendment debate.

Despite the fact that Fine Gael’s own Citizens Assembly recommends repeal and legislation, and despite the fact that the Oireachtas Committee recommends repeal and legislation, the government position at the time of this podcast was that a decision is yet to be made on how to proceed.  No guarantee has been forthcoming that a straight yes or no choice on repeal will be offered to the Irish public.

Yet somehow the panel twists this state of affairs into one that represents a sweeping generational change.  Well, for this conservative jurisdiction that may be true to an extent, but given that Fine Gael are the country’s most conservative mainstream party [just about ahead of Fianna Fáil], do we think these ‘young pretenders’ have reached their current positions by cultural revolution or because the elder statesmen ahead of them on the ladder gave them a helping hand along the way?

And the final insult for me from this podcast came when they made the most ludicrous segue from the potential impact of FG’s boy wonder on the Irish electorate to the ‘youthquake’ experienced in Britain’s general election campaign that brought Jeremy Corbyn extremely close to Number 10.  I had to switch it off after that so you’ll have to listen yourself to find out what they said after that.

Here’s to a 2018 where Ireland’s political establishment, both in Leinster House and the media, are called to account whenever they ignore at best, or put down at worst, progressive issues.  JLP

#IANWAE

Of course there is racism in Ireland

Like many articles on TheJournal.ie, the real reading is not in the actual text, rather below in the comments section.

Take this one titled “‘People throw bananas at you or tell you to go back to your country just for asking to see a ticket’“.  The inspiration for the article is a campaign run by the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Transport for Ireland and Dublin City Council to promote “a message of zero tolerance” towards racism in Ireland.

Of course this debate is particularly timely what with President #DoubleDownDonald having one of his classic press conference meltdowns where he tried to suggest that not all those who protested the statue in Charlottesville were neo-Nazis.  By the way, in that tirade, the president alluded to something he called the “alt-left” which proved the very point I made a couple of days ago about false equivalency.

But returning to Ireland, the Journal article cites numerous experiences of racism by public transport drivers of various origins.  It’s not all violent, most of it isn’t.  But particularly in an area like this, ie racial hatred, the violence is the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and to understand where it comes from you first must acknowledge what lies beneath the water, and there are several examples in the comments section of this piece, much as we’d expect.

The first category, and the easiest to dismiss, is captured by this one…

Yawn!! The Journal is really laying it on today. Its endless. Are they being cynical and using it all for clickbait? Can you not see it just a quango justifying it’s continued existance (and big saleries) by portraying a subjective and selective number of allegations. Whether they are true or not doesn’t really matter as it is about the above. The Journal also love these type of press releases as they get a lot of comments.

Spelling atrocities aside, this is classic conspiracy theory nonsense…much easier to blame those calling out the racism than to acknowledge it.

Next we have the soft denier.

Sadly, we have racists in Ireland but I like to think that the racists are a minority. Of course, one would have to be of a different race to know the reality in everyday life. The actual lived experience is the most revealing.

Did I miss something?  Has anyone suggested that racists were in the majority?  But at least this person appreciates that they haven’t experienced this kind of racism personally, unlike this final genius of a commenter, a “hard” denier if you will…

The poor foreign taxi men will be on next telling us all how hard their life is and what a bunch of racists us Irish are… Give me strength… If your gonna work dealing with the public especially on crammed public transport your gonna have to listen to a bit of crap every now and again whether your black, white, orange, Irish, Polish, Russian or whatever.. That’s the nature of human interaction, mostly good but sometimes bad, that’s never gonna change no matter how many posters you put up so either accept that your in a foreign land and a minority of people aren’t going to like you, either get used to that fact or get a job in an office…

There is racism all over the world.  But it’s not a bloody competition.  We can’t justify what happens on our own shores because of what happens elsewhere.  We stand up and call it what it is whenever we see it.  And like I said earlier, it’s not just the violent incidents we need to call out.

Ever been on a bus when a driver was verbally abused?  Or in a shop when it was an employee?  Or in a taxi when an Irish driver was telling you stories about scary activities by black drivers?  Or at a family gathering when an elder relative used the ‘n word’?  I have.  And I’m ashamed to say that too often I failed to speak out.  I’m actually part of the problem, I freely admit.

Of course I’m not saying we should put ourselves in any danger when out and about but the simple fact is that if we do nothing at all, it will continue.

But one thing we can definitely do is accept that it’s happening, and that will cost us nothing.  JLP

#IANWAE

Trump’s #Charlottesville reaction highlights the need to stop using ‘left’ and ‘right’ to describe political spectrum

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”

Before I start on the theme of this article, have you ever seen a US president more obsessed with his predecessor?  It has gotten to a stage where he just throws his name into his statements without any real context.

Anyway…you have no doubt read volumes on what happened in Charlottesville and it is not my wish to delve too much further into the horrific events, at least not here.

What I want to point out is something I feel is crucial for the progressive platform to gain more followers, and it is a very simple one.

Rumour has it that human civilisation once believed premises like the earth being the centre of the universe, or at other times that it was a flat plain as opposed to a spherical planet.  Maybe such misconceptions don’t effect people’s everyday life, but then again it’s hard to have a philosophical grasp on existence when you don’t even have the fundamentals correct.

So what I’d like to challenge is the way we label political ideologies as ‘left’ and ‘right’, because it suggests some kind of balance between the two.  On the most basic level, what we call the left represents a society that is fair to everyone while the right does not.

But to properly understand where the conflict comes from you first must appreciate how it started.  Whether you believe in evolution or creation, there must have existed a time when the human race had no elitism.  Then as it became clear that certain resources were more valuable than others, some people took control of them and were selective about those with whom they were shared.

Over time those who had control over the resources got better and better at holding on to that power.  Countries with tyrannical leaders simply run roughshod over their opposition, while those which claim to be democracies use a variety of tools to make sure elections go the way of the ruling classes.

Donald Trump became president on the back of one of these tools, ie supporting a specific group of voters he felt could help get him elected; in this case middle to lower class white men who felt that the civil rights movement had somehow discriminated against them.

Because this movement provided votes for the Republican party, it is considered to be on the ‘right’.  And because the obvious racist and fascist leanings of this movement, it has become fashionable to label them as ‘alt-right’.  Even with this distinction though, the fact that it is called any kind of ‘right’ seems to lend it equal status to whatever is called the ‘left’.

As the mainstream media fully supports the left-right paradigm, the President can claim, however wrongly, that he is being fair to ‘all sides’.

What we who have been shoved on the ‘left’ of this pseudo-spectrum must do is renounce it.  A society that purports to be fair to all citizens is not half the argument.  It is the only one.   Of course we won’t all agree on how it is to be achieved, but given we believe in fairness, chances are the discussions are going to be devoid of such words as ‘fire and fury’.

Anyone who feels they have to ‘tone down’ their views to somehow ‘be fair’ and ‘not exclude the conservative opinion’ is basically validating the very argument that conservatives want.

The white men who marched on Charlottesville are bigots.  Nothing they feel was ‘taken from them’ was really theirs in the first place.  To offer them any sense of legitimacy is not being fair, it’s not being balanced.  It is turning back the clock on American society to a time when the ruling classes needed only the crudest, most basic tools to hold on to power, as opposed to the more intricate ones they use today.

Progressives need to stop allowing themselves to be defined by a scale that doesn’t really exist.

#IANWAE

 

 

Corporate Dems vow to do things ‘better’ – let’s hope that includes listening

Whatever you might think about Donald Trump and his administration, their tenure in the White House, a shade over six months old now, has been a rollercoaster ride with something new to report each and every passing day.

The biggest drawback to this obsession with the latest Washington shenanigans is, of course, the fact that although Trump & co might provide us with easy one-liners and online memes, there is also a very serious side to the story in that we are talking about the government of the most powerful nation in the world.

It’s all very well to ridicule the man in power right now – but it’s pointless unless you can suggest a reasonable alternative.

That alternative is the broad tent that is the Democratic Party, and the 2016 campaign in particular has divided it into two distinct factions….the “corporate wing”, essentially those in the most senior positions in Washington right now, and the “progressive wing”, ie those who follow the social equity platform of the likes of Bernie Sanders.

Here is a recent quote from the Washington Post to ponder…see if you can guess which side of the Democratic tent it came from…

“When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself. So what did we do wrong? People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that.”

Obviously I want you to think that’s a Progressive, when in actual fact it’s one of the most senior corporate Democrats, Minority leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer.

Ever since the election, Schumer and his counterpart in the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi have been as much under attack  from their left as from their right, probably more so.  And most of it was deserved.

But there has to be a point at which even progressives realise that the Schumers and Pelosis still represent the front line of the resistance to the current terrifying incarnation of the Republican Party, and once and a while they need to be given a bit of slack, especially when they are making noises that sound like they come straight out of the Bernie Sanders playbook.

I’m not one to give the Democrat leadership too much praise – the best thing that be said about the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is that at least their corporate policies aren’t as bad as their opposition.  What I would rather do is change the narrative – it’s not about how much or little we appease the wishes of the “one percent”, rather it’s about formulating policies that are fair to everyone whether it benefits the rich or not.

To promote this mindset I fully understand the need to hold big-donor politicians to account no matter what their stripes.  But what do we do when they start using slogans that reflect our agenda?

“A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”

Of course it’s natural to be sceptical when they start to look as though they’re drinking the Bernie KoolAid.  But care must be taken to ensure healthy scepticism doesn’t morph into petulant rejection.

For now anyway, I am willing to give the likes of Schumer a chance.  After all, it can’t have been easy to keep 48 Democratic senators united against Trumpcare – you can be sure one or two of the “Blue Dogs” (more right-leaning Democrats) were courted by the GOP and none have budged.

If the Democrats really want to adopt progressive values to their platform – remember they did at their convention last year only many feared it was empty promises on paper – they need to be supported, voted for, and put under pressure when there are any signs of them failing to deliver.

After all, that’sq what being a ‘Democrat’, with a large or small d, is meant to entail.  JLP

#IANWAE