“Housing crisis? What housing crisis?” asks Irish mainstream

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“We continue to expand our macroprudential framework to ensure we have the right tools to manage potential risks to financial stability and the addition of the Systemic Risk Buffer will be an important tool for us in building a resilient banking system with sufficient capital buffers to absorb these structural shocks.”

[translation : “We want you to forget this mess is partly our fault by pointing to Brexit and using intentionally complicated economic jargon”]

Article in Journal.ie by Cormac Fitzgerald : “Hard Brexit could cause house prices to fall, Central Bank warns

TROLLWATCH : All Aboard The Mysogyny Express!!! 🙄

It’s trolls, WUMs and bots that give social media a bad name, so here at FPP we occasionally have a TROLLWATCH post to call them out.

If anything RTÉ did too much work in producing this particular clickbait.

All they needed to incur the wrath of the Angry Irish Straight Men Brigade was the (clearly deliberately unflattering) photo and a headline that read “Lesbian Footballer Complained about Something”.

On a personal level it was good to be back defending Rapinoe once more after my earlier post suggesting her White House comments were ill-advised.

Paul Vanderheijden Having achieved a modicum of notoriety, whether deserved or not I leave for others to judge, for her comments regarding the White House she now must consider she has some special status to level criticism.

Personally, I consider her as a very good player, with a foul disposition and a big “chip on her shoulder”.

Máirtín Ó’Riain God I am looking forward to this tournament ending. Sick of hearing about this team.

William Parker Her anger and hate over shadow her skill in the field 10 years from now all we will remember is that angry world cup player “what was her name”?

Aidan Mc Carron Will not be watching it no matter what day or time it’s on. Better drama on tv

Podge Foley I disagree with him

Brendan Ó Conchobhair wah wah wah….i think that was the quote

according to Facebook these were among the most ‘relevant’ comments

JL Pagano 99% of comments from men, 99% complaining about her complaining. And to everyone who thinks they’re hilarious by saying “him”, well, you’re not.

RTÉ didn’t exactly help using this photo either.

On the actual subject matter, she absolutely has a point. It’s all about the 24 hour news cycle these days and a senior World Cup final should have one all to itself.

My contribution

#IANWAE

Brid Smith TD addresses Drimnagh residents on the proposed ‘carbon tax’

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I could have been at home watching Manchester United v Barcelona.  But I made myself a promise that I would make an effort to get more involved in local politics, and given the amount of signs I have seen around the area for this meeting in St John Bosco Youth Club, a mere ten minute walk from my front door, to not go would be to break that pledge.

The meeting was held by local councillor Hazel De Nortúin.  Now when I say ‘local’, she hails from Ballyfermot, yet she represents me as Drimnagh has been curiously cut in two and my house falls in the ‘Ballyfermot/Drimnagh’ zone.  Still, the very holding of this meeting shows that the councillor is willing to be involved throughout the ward.

Her party is People Before Profit.  I confess to knowing little about them, save for assorted Facebook posts, but I do know that their name itself is closely aligned to my politics so it was a safe bet that I would feel at home in this company.

The principal speaker was Brid Smith TD and the theme was ‘Why Carbon Tax Won’t Stop Climate Change’.  She began by highlighting the protest by schoolchildren all over the country, but particularly outside the Dáil. where over 15,000 were reported.

Deputy Smith also pointed to a poll which found that 39% of Irish people saw climate change as one of the most important issues of today, adding that while some might think that was a low percentage, she was actually encouraged by it.

She has recently been sitting on a Special Oirechteas Action Committee which followed on from a Citizens Assembly.  She referred to it as more of an ‘Inaction’ committee because it appeared that the decision to level the carbon tax on ordinary citizens was already made.

She claimed that the supposed thinking behind the tax was that if people’s habits could be changed, ie if we can move away from carbon-intensive forms of energy, then supposedly this would influence (‘by osmosis’ as she ironically called it) the large corporations.

An interesting plan if true…especially given that when it comes to distributing wealth, corporations tend to favour things going in the opposite direction.  When it comes to the carbon tax, should we call their plan “Trickle up?”

She also pointed out that even if carbon taxes did have some positive effect, they would never be enough to tackle climate change on their own, yet once implemented the government could well consider them to be a ‘catch all’ of sorts.  ‘The one tool becomes the only tool’.

Next the TD covered the whole area of ‘Just Transition’ – when she explained it I knew what she meant though I had never heard it called that before.  Basically when a society moves from one form of energy to another, care must be taken that the existing workers in the old service are offered the opportunity to move into the new field.  Seemingly People Before Profit have been working with Bord Na Mona workers in this area.

Apparently three of the main political parties, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour, along with the Green Party, are in favour of pushing ahead with this tax, which probably means it is likely to go through.

In the interest of fairness I took some time to go over the websites of various parties to see how they presented their policy (if any) on carbon tax and/or climate change in general…

FINE GAEL – banner on homepage #TogetherOnClimate Climate Action – when you click it you see 16 links under heading of ‘progress’ none of which refer to carbon tax.

‘carbon tax’ search produced links on Special Oireachtas Committee

FIANNA FAIL – No search facility. No mention of carbon tax under section ‘tackling climate change’

LABOUR – ‘Labour’s clear preference is for ring-fencing funds from carbon taxes to pay for home retrofitting, including in local authority housing, and other ways of reducing energy poverty’

SINN FEIN – ‘Imelda Munster has criticised the agreement…to increase carbon tax four fold’

GREEN – Cuffe : ‘The aim of the carbon dividend, or carbon cheque, is to change behaviour. By placing carbon taxes and giving back what is taken to households it provides direct incentives for people to move to low carbon heating.’

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS – can’t find policy on carbon tax but policy section shows they are keen to reduce emissions
RIGHT2CHANGE 10-Point policy programme – ‘A Progressive Government will make protection of the rights of Mother Earth a Constitutional Imperative’

‘The IFA is up in arms over suggestions that people should eat less meat and drink less milk. No doubt carbon taxes will be pushed also as a key part of this debate.’

‘Women make up 70% of farmers world-wide yet only own 2% of land…they are responsible for 90% of the caloric intake of the average family’

SOLIDARITY – nothing on climate change on ‘what we stand for’ page

…just to be clear, my research for the above information was not exactly extensive.  There are so many parties in the jurisdiction that it isn’t easy to keep up with them all.

As you can see my attention was drawn most to the Right2Change platform – the quotes above were taken from the Facebook page of Joan Collins TD.  I like the way they constantly use phrases like “Under a Progressive Government Ireland can…” because while that may be extremely aspirational right now, if we don’t discuss and use such terminology regularly, it could remain so.

But that’s not to say I was completely turned off the PBP folks just yet.  They passed around a page for names and addresses – I offered my information though I fell short of ticking the ‘Join’ box for now.

When the meeting was over a chatted for a few minutes and then left.  I was first to head for the door and Deputy Smith thanked me for attending.

I’m glad I did, and I look forward to following the progress of the PBP’s resistance to the introduction of the tax.

Next on this site I’d like to start covering the various candidates standing for election to the council in May.

#IANWAE

 

“What, exactly, is a Progressive?”

“What, exactly, is a Progressive?”

I was asked this in an email recently and saw it as a challenge.  After giving it a few days’ consideration, this was my reply :

Wow that’s actually a very interesting question from the ‘How long is a piece of string?’ genre. I doubt many could tell you ‘exactly’ what it is but I definitely appreciate the opportunity to express what it means to me.

I only started being interested in politics & government during The West Wing years (1999-2005) and I only followed the non-fictional American version on a daily basis when Barack Obama first announced his intention to run for POTUS.  Still, that’s about 20 years overall, and my fundamental beliefs have not really changed too much in that time.

For starters, I think the most basic characterisation of political thought is flawed.  While pretty much every opinion can be described as ‘left’ or ‘right’ or somewhere in between, I disapprove of that framing because it falsely represents what the two sides stand for.  Seemingly the further ‘right’ you go, a smaller (or richer) subset of people get ‘priority treatment’ by the government. But if we accept the directional branding, then we automatically cede half of the argument to a group of people that by definition is a ‘minority’.

What words should we use instead? Damned if I know.  But if we MUST use an arbitrary two-dimensional axis, then I believe the Progressive movement should be at its true centre, or to put it another way, it represents a ‘median perspective’.

I understand it to be an approach to government that neither prioritises the corporate world nor rejects it out of hand.  It is essentially in favour of policies that promote equal opportunity for all citizens.  It is also for public ownership of, and government prioritisation in, key areas like health, education and first responders.

Then there’s the elections themselves. Progressives want them to be run without the influence of corporate donors and PACs because they only tend to produce corporate politicians, even in the Democrat Party.

And going back to the left/right thing, since Progressives would disagree with the so-called ‘centrist’ approaches of the likes of Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, they get branded as the ‘radical left’, as if their opinions are extreme, even though pretty much everything about the viewpoint is based on fairness.   This also suggests that they are somehow a direct alternative for those on the ‘far right’ and thus, bizarrely, an equivalent of sorts to Trump and his minions.

Of course the (mostly corporate owned) ‘mainstream’ media is complicit in all of this.  Using the ‘left vs right’ paradigm and assuming the Democrat Party fully represents the ‘left’ makes it easy for them to use a boilerplate approach to covering every issue.  “This is where the Dems stand, and this is where the GOP stand.  Now the issue has been covered, let’s move on to the next one.”

In these times when Trump has such a stranglehold on the Republican Party with views and policies that are at best radical and at worst downright dangerous, to equate giving them coverage with somehow being ‘balanced’ can only benefit the ‘right’, and that’s before we even consider that they have their own propaganda news network which has no place for balance whatsoever.

As far as I’m concerned, even the word ‘Progressive’ itself is an unfortunate choice.  We shouldn’t have to ‘progress’ to equality and fairness in society.  We should already have it.  Some might consider this assertion to be naive.  I believe it is naive to assume it is an unattainable goal.

But the reality is that the corporate world has become ‘the establishment’ after generations of false promises, spin and despite, at times, blatant austerity and discrimination.  I don’t believe the majority of people behind that world are necessarily ‘evil’, I just think they are preoccupied with looking down at the bottom line of a financial spreadsheet as opposed to looking up at the physical and social challenges faced by humanity.

If the Progressive movement can hone its message and get more people to look up, then perhaps one day we can have a new plane of political thinking led by ‘President Ocasio-Cortez’ or someone like-minded.

#IANWAE

 

Fox News evalutates the opinions of all American students on SCOTUS pick by interviewing five of them

THE ISSUE

Fox News might as well be renamed TrumpTV.

THE MEDIA

Clip by Fox News in YouTube on July 8, 2018

“Every person I spoke to all assumed Trump was going to pick a man.”

THE COMMENT

This clip is Fox News at its best.  Well, I really should say ‘worst’ but since they get such good ratings I suppose you could spin it as a positive.

In what is quite possibly the most unscientific vox pop ever put on the airwaves, a young guy goes on the streets of New York (probably not far from Fox News studio) and clearly gets the answers he wants from random people, with the ‘Students hate the SCOTUS pick that Trump hasn’t made yet’ narrative more than likely determined before he ever set foot on the sidewalk.

The premise of the narrative, of course, is highly disingenuous.  It is widely known that the shortlist for Trump’s Supreme Court choice was taken from a longer list drawn up by the ultra conservative Federalist Society (think Iona Institute and you’re in the ballpark) so no matter which judge Trump goes for, anyone of a progressive or ‘liberal’ mindset would be inclined to oppose the nomination.  For example, there isn’t a single judge on that list which would fail the ‘I will help abolish Roe vs Wade’ litmus test.

But why ruin a good narrative with the facts?  The already-brainwashed Fox News viewership don’t need much of a push to support the stereotype they have already been fed of ‘students’.  Once the answers from the vox-pop are selectively chosen and they spend more time in the studio mansplaining the responses than actually airing them (assuming the overall sample was actually bigger than the one they put on air that is), it only takes a clip of less than three minutes to get the ‘job’ done.

As I always say about entities like Fox News, it’s not its existence that is downright scary, it’s the fact that so many people actually believe content that is so blatantly skewed towards the Republican agenda.  And it has only gotten more blatant under this president.  JLP

#IANWAE

Shortage of water but no shortage of blame in Irish discourse

THE ISSUE

As the Irish heat wave continues, arguably the most contentious ‘establishment v majority’ issues in recent memory is anything but water under the bridge.

THE MEDIA

Article by Sarah Burns, Vivienne Clarke in Irish Times on July 3, 2018

Irish Water warns ‘nightmare scenario’ if no big rainfall in autumn

“We need sustained rain. Unless there is torrential rain we’re looking at a very dry autumn,” Irish Water managing director Jerry Grant said on Tuesday.

Article by The Green Party in GreenParty.ie on June 30, 2018

Greens: Heat-wave exposes the short-sightedness of Water Charge abolition

“Government capitulated to populism and now communities are paying the price…The reality is that as our climate changes, these water shocks will continue and we don’t have a plan to conserve, harvest or levy for the use of our most precious resource.”

Article by The Workers Party in WorkersParty.ie on July 2, 2018

Dublin water restrictions show up failure of Irish Water to tackle infrastructure

“The government wanted to use water charges to squeeze yet more money out of the same group of people – low- and middle-income workers. Once it became clear that was not going to be possible, the issue of upgrading our water infrastructure was conveniently dropped from the table.”

THE COMMENT

We normally base these posts on one piece of content but this time we have three to compare and contrast, and it’s on that old chestnut of Water Charges which was bound to rear its head with the spell of hot weather we’ve been having.

Given the Irish establishment was committed to toeing the EU line of introducing water charges for regular citizens, you’d imagine a water shortage followed by a heatwave would be the perfect opportunity for them to point the finger at the #Right2Water campaign.

But why should the government and/or mainstream media do this when they’ve the Green Party to do it for them?

As you can see by the above quote in the IT, they chose to simply report on a statement from Irish Water.  No comment, no pushback, no challenging questions, just your basic stenography article.

Now in fairness, you can see why the Greens would be in favour of charges, though I’d suspect that if they were the ones setting up Irish Water it would look much different and would tend to levy more responsibility on business than private users.  That said, I can’t say I’m happy with their ‘giving in to populism’ angle.

The #Right2Water campaign, as far as I’m concerned anyway, was about way more than water.  It was a bridge (pun half-intended) too far in a continuing government policy of austerity, and in the end public pressure won the day.  For now.

If Irish Water wasn’t set up to benefit the people instead of simply being another corporation for the government to cash in on down the line, there would still have been opposition to it but I reckon it would have been much more difficult to get such widespread support.

Unfortunately it’s all too easy to spin the ‘well we tried to do something, and the lefty public said no’ narrative, but while I’m hardly a fervent follower of the Workers Party, their quote seems to be the most accurate depiction of the situation.

Yes we need better water infrastructure, yes it has to be paid for, but until it’s done in such a way that the majority of citizens pay the bare minimum while the tab is taken up by citizens and companies that waste this valuable resource, I’m afraid the stalemate will remain.  JLP

#IANWAE

Have the Republicans stolen another Supreme Court seat?

THE ISSUE

The resignation during the past week of SCOTUS justice Anthony Kennedy allows President Trump to appoint a young, healthy, cons replacement who could guarantee pro-corporate and anti-sivil rights rulings for decades to come.

THE MEDIA

Article by Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman in New York Times on June 28, 2018

Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening

As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin.

THE COMMENT

A popular refrain whenever a new revelation emerges about ConManDon is : “What would he be saying if Obama did the same thing?”  This could be the most important one of all.

To my question in the title, ‘another’ refers to the fact that when Justice Scalia passed away in February 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a vote on confirming Obama’s pick as successor on the grounds that it was ‘too close to the election and the American people should decide’.  While this decision certainly did not break any laws, norms or protocols, it certainly established a new one.

Yet despite the fact that Kennedy has resigned much closer to a big election, namely the Midterms, it seems that Senator McConnell is suddenly much less concerned about whether or not the American people should weigh in.  Trump plans to have Kennedy’s successor nominated by the end of the week.

As you can see by the NYT article, there is much evidence that the Trump administration has gone to great lengths to prepare for Kennedy’s resignation, like rewarding all the justice’s clerks with appointments to district courts, and indeed two of his most favoured clerks are front runners to succeed him.

But of all the revelations in the article, the one that takes the biscuit is the fact that Kennedy’s son runs a division of the only bank that would loan money to Trump for property deals after he was turned down by other financial institutions due to his many failed business practices.

Oh and did I mention that Deutsche Bank is considered to be one of the ‘go-to’ banks for Russian oligarchs for money-laundering?

But of course it’s the ‘Failing New York Times’ after all, so I must be all ‘Fake News’.  To be fair though, the article itself doesn’t suggest that any seat has been ‘stolen’, those words are mine.  I still stand by them though.  JLP

#IANWAE