Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Anglo Irish, Matrix Churchill & Unanswered Questions.....


Remember Matrix Churchill, the Arms to Iraq trial that collapsed in 1992? 
The charges laid against Anglo staffers today may lead to just the same defence though not perhaps to the same resounding collapse.

Sean Quinn didn't just bet on Anglo Irish Bank, he attempted to take it over by a back door method by betting the shares would rise in value- taking out Contracts for Difference. 

He got it wrong. 

The shares fell continuously in part because the combination of his bet becoming known & the early revelation (by Merrill Lynch analyst Phil Ingram) of the bank's likely parlous financial state and partly because share buyers & analysts were incresingly dubious about the banks hitherto stellar performance. 
Quinn was either woefully ill advised or wonderfully autocratic. The Contracts for Difference contained no stop loss, no end point where the deal was off. The more the shares fell, the worse Quinn's position became. Short selling, a normal market mechanism where borrowed shares are sold & bought back at a lower price, was accelerating the fall. 

In the end the only solution was to buy out the shares.
To do this Quinn needed to borrow money from Anglo Irish itself. If this was done it was strictly illegal under company law.

Quinn could not hold the massive block of shares for long and that was obvious to the markets. The prospect of a massive unloading was depressing the already bad share price & threatening the bank's capitalisation. Thus this overhang became a concern to all of the authorities: the Banking Regulator, the Central Bank & through the Department of Finance, ultimately the Minister for Finance.


Anglo solved the problem.

They solved it by loaning money to ten customers, the "Golden Circle", to buy a large body of shares of the shares. These loans, if they occurred, were strictly illegal under company law.
This leaves a number of questions which have been asked but never answered about the role of the The Banking Regulator, The Central Bank, Department & The Minister Mr Cowen.

  1. When did Mr Cowen as Minister for Finance become aware of Mr Sean Quinn's enormous contracts for difference exposure on Anglo Irish Bank Shares?
  2. What effort did Mr Cowen or his Department make to clarify the ownership of Anglo Irish Bank in the first three months of 2008 given that there were strong indications that the Quinn Group or Mr Sean Quinn had built a considerable stake in the bank through a combination of CDFs and direct share purchase?
  3. When did Mr Cowen become aware that the positions held by Mr Sean Quinn on Anglo Irish Bank Shares was untenable and needed to be unwound?
  4. Did Mr Cowen, or officials at the Department of Finance, the Financial Regulator and the Governor of the Central Bank express any concern to either Mr Sean Quinn or Anglo Irish Bank management or board at the short selling of the banks stock resulting from the rumours about the size of Mr Sean Quinn's CDF position?
  5. When and by whom was approval given, as is required by law, for either Mr Sean Quinn or the Quinn Group to own ten per cent or more of Anglo Irish Bank?
  6. Did Mr Cowen discuss such approval with the Central Bank or its Governor?
  7. If such approval was given then why were the public and other shareholders not informed?
  8. If approval was not sought and given then why & by whom was the law flouted?
  9. When did Mr Cowen become aware that the twenty five per cent stake that resulted from this unwinding of Mr Sean Quinn's position was beyond Mr Quinn’s capacity and thus overhung the market, threatening a catastrophic slide in Anglo Irish Bank's share price, capitalisation and very existence?
  10. What contact did Mr Cowen, or officials at the Department of Finance, the Financial Regulator and the Governor of the Central Bank have with the board and management of Anglo Irish Bank on the issue of this shareholding and its implications for the bank in March and April 2008?
  11. Did Mr Cowen, officials at the Department of Finance , the Financial Regulator or the Governor of the Central Bank indicate in any way to Management or Board at Anglo Irish Bank that the bank should place its own shares?
  12. Did Mr Cowen, officials at the Department of Finance , the Financial Regulator or the Governor of the Central Bank question how ten business people were induced to buy shares in a bank whose share price had been in steep decline for several months and barely one month after the bank had suffered a near fatal catastrophic sell of on March 17th?
  13. Did Mr Cowen, officials at the Department of Finance, the Financial Regulator or the Governor of the Central Bank ask or were aware from where the €451,000,000 used by the ten businessmen came?
  14. Did Mr Cowen discuss or become aware in 2008 that Anglo Irish Bank had loaned these monies to the purchasers of the Quinn ten per cent ?
  15. What effort was made by the financial regulator, the Governor of the Central Bank and Mr Cowen to check if this stake was in anyway financed by loans from the bank itself?
  16. Did Mr Cowen discuss the matter of the purchase of Anglo Irish Bank shares with Mr Brian O Farrell, a member of the Golden Circle that bought the Anglo Irish shares, at the fundraising dinner in the Shelbourne Hotel in March 2008 at which Mr Farrell was one of only 13 payed-up invitees?
  17. Did Mr Cowen discuss the purchase by ten businessmen of Anglo Irish Bank shares from the Quinn tranche when he attended a dinner for himself and his top Department officials at the bank headquarters on April 24th 2008?
  18. These questions have never been answered. Questions 9-16 go to the heart of not just this trial but the also to the heart of the worst, most expensive financial scandal ever to occur in Ireland.
  19. There is for the Dublin & London Exchanges where Anglo was once listed another question, not pertinent to the trial but to fate of the other shareholders in early 2008, a group ill served by company management, the stock Exchanges & the regulatory Authorities:
  20. Did the shareholding of Mr Sean Quinn or the Quinn Group in Anglo Irish Bank reach or exceed thirty percent at any stage during his purchases and the unwinding his CDF position?

The Matrix Churchill trial collapsed because the directors of the precision engineering firm had been advised the the Government on how to sell the arms with which sale they were charged. 

We need to how much of the Anglo/Quinn share debacle was advised by government or its agencies.It is time that those who wielded power, who were paid magnificent salaries to guard our interests & who have retired on annual lottery winnings of pensions should start telling the truth. 

4 years & €70 billion later, that is not an unreasonable request. 

Monday, 23 July 2012

Quota Sows: Making Women Second Rate Canditates

Last week the Oireachtais in it's wisdom made every female candidate for a political party a second rater & the politicians did this in the firm belief they were "helping" women. With friends like that ...


There has been a bubbling background complaint culture that women were "under-represented" in the Dáil, a view of representation that divides humans into warring classes & insists that any difference on an outcome metric is obviously the result of discrimination. We know where that thinking originates & it is not a healthy place. By a piece of wonderfully selective thinking the complainers believe that one may only be properly represented by ones own gender while believing that gender has no effect on choices/ambitions/non-sexual desires. 


Gender is massively important until they say it's not.


Internal party politics is merely the politics of an odd subset of Irish life. Each party has it's own shibboleths & key phrases but essentially all share a common ground of purpose. This informs the choices where members are allowed make electoral choices. Mostly they are so allowed because party bosses know that this is the most effective way of keeping campaigning canvassers on board. For their own twisted reasons the proponents of Gender Quotas insist that sexism is endemic among those ordinary Irish people and using the metric of Women in Politics they have what they consider to be proof. After all if the world was fair would women not make up 50% of EVERY metric....... 


As a county director for elections for a large (the largest as it turns out) Irish Political party I was privileged to work with five successful County Council female candidates (their gender was irrelevant to me: I had thirteen people to get elected) all of whom were selected by their fellow party members for being the best, most electable, able available. That will never happen again. Now female candidates are to be selected because the know-betters say the must be selected. The wonderful, capable, savagely organised ladies with which I worked have been demoted by affirmative action to a form of  gender politics serving handicap. 


Gender Quotas demean women, turn them not into candidates but second class candidates, there only by grace of legal fiat, not talent. ideas, or persuasionThe intention was to have women taken seriously, instead this law merely turns women's candidates into a must have accessories, baubles to be brought along to the political party. Ordinary party members are expected to give their time & effort but not have decide for whom to apply that effort. .This is perfectly in line with the infantilising & demonising of ordinary people by the Knowbetters.


Any new woman standing for a political party will now be tainted by this patronising nonsense.  When, as the proponents intend it will, the quota is set at 50% of candidates all of the female candidates will be Quota Sows, not standing on their merits but on gender & bad law.



Saturday, 21 July 2012

Same Sex Marriage- Neither Compassionate nor Logical

There are few ways as guaranteed to get yourself into trouble as by opposing Same Sex Marriage.

It is far worse than the cliché of the Stealers Wheel song, neither jokers nor clowns but beset on one side by fascists intent on silencing any debate on an issue they have decreed closed but on the other by the last of the disgusted in Wicklow, sick that they once shared a conservative platform with me.

The Yeuch! factor has ceased to matter other than as a personal irritant. The tiny, dwindling minority whose social politics are informed by their disgust at gayness ("they kiss in public and as for what they do in private Mavis!") have neither power nor influence and forfeit their influence as soon as they reveal their prejudice. Yeuch! factor argument that has best been expressed by Michael Cook, editor of mercatornet. Cook believes that homosexual sex is so intrinsically wrong, so morally disordered that the decision to decriminalise homosexulaity is to admit to a false equivalence in law with heterosexual sex which makes Same Sex Marriage impossible to oppose. One might ask why male homosexual acts should be so threatening of the social order given that female homosexuality was never a crime in the first place?

That argument is a bad version of slippery slope-ism. It appeals to the state to uphold a particular sexual morality to prevent social breakdown & must do that by extending the state’s power into every bedroom. This argument/rational is  incapable of of promulgating a rational socio-legal view of marriage because it denies the need to do so, ignores the intrinsicality of homosexuality (allying with those who see gender as a construct) & insists that gays are a danger to the social order.

Worse, many, like Mr Cook, seem to believe that making an aspect of human behaviour illegal removes that behaviour completely from effect. This touching & simplistic faith in the efficacy law to alter behaviour & the belief that legal & coercive interventions in moral  behaviours are themselves moral are best regarded as merely confused. Yeuch! factorists, however articulate, do not make a persuasive argument against or mount a useful defence against Same Sex Marriage.  

It was the tactics of proponents that made me question the orthodox dogma on Same Sex Marriage.

If everyone from, the faux-conservative David Cameron to every publicity seeking show-biz hustler, is for same sex marriage why the anger, the immediate & ferocious bullying of any opposition? Why if the case is so incontrovertible for Same Sex Marriage must opponents be labeled bigots & silenced with such ardor?

Big changes need big debate.

Instead of debate on this huge redefinition of marriage & its significance for society we have a mob enforced silence, platitudes & pusillanimous agreement.

In any case we no longer really have debates but a culture war with battles run as Yu-Gi-Oh! contests, the Equality card trumping all others & ending the contests. Debates allow light to shine on issues & people to make up their own minds based on free choices, Yu-Gi-Oh! duels confirm existing positions without any exchange of information or knowledge.

Debates demand free speech & a willing search for truth, but the interplay of ideas is tainted by Marxist concepts of class & exploitation & by underlying Marxist or post-Marxist sociological assumptions about cultural hegemony, role of free speech & the nuclear family as an exploitative association to the point that these taints & assumptions are implicit, normalised & force real debate to start with a massive ground clearing exercise.

Equality is the great shibboleth of the this tainted order. Outcomes must be the same, end results non-divergent, numbers equal across each & all metrics or the secular sin of discrimination has been committed. So pervasive & unquestioned has this nonsensical idea become that in the US legal system evidence of different outcomes for any artificial class ( all classes are artificial but forgive the tautology) across any metric is evidence ipso facto of discrimination.

There is no popular movement for Same Sex marriage, no crusade, not even from gay men, for its ratification, but Same Sex Marriage has become the litmus test for compassion & with-it-ness. Compassion & with-it-ness are vital to intellectually & morally bankrupt politicians in a world impervious to their efforts. Cameron can't run Britain but he can appear all warm, fuzzy & fashionable by advocating Same Sex Marriage. Fianna Fail & the Irish Labour Party, a pair of bankrupt political movements going nowhere, have seized on Same Sex Marriage for the same reason. Other politicians, believing nothing, heeding nothing but the next headline & next poll will follow suit.

In Ireland we have become so used to public figures saying nothing at great length that the curt dismissal of any answer that takes more than fifteen seconds to deliver has become routine & acceptable. Unfortunately serious debate cannot be had in ten-second-sound-bites & the pattern of our public discourse now deprives us of any useful dialectic in the public sphere. Vincent Browne does not want considered, layered informed answers; his is an audience for light entertainment. The definition of entertainment is elastic.

In a debate about arguments are central, not the speakers personae. In the truncated Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel fought on Same Sex Marriage it is about cards and the speakers sexuality is a central one.

I am queer & I have suffered is a card that sits just around the Ace of Trumps & Equality card in value. In response I am forced to play the sexuality card just to stay in the duel: stick your mantras, I am a gay man and I oppose Same Sex Marriage. I'm not opposed to clear legal arrangements for gay people nor opposed on the grounds of disbelief in our capacity as humans to love & for that love to be as transcendent & durable as that between heterosexual couples. I oppose the complete, utter re-definition of marriage as a shocking intrusion by the political state and a grave danger to society.

In the un-debate about Same Sex Marriage proponents strive to create a class who are oppressed by the current cultural hegemony, a group against whom the sin of discrimination is committed. In truth no discrimination exists. Only by re-defining marriage as an institution in which gender is irrelevant (marriage should be gender neutral) & whose social purpose is the gratification of adult's needs for romantic gesture (I am not allowed to show my love) & community affirmation (my relationship is devalued by our not being allowed marry) can discrimination be alleged.

It is hard to think of a bigger change to the significance of a social institution than the proposal of Same Sex Marriage and that change, that sweeping redefinition & repurposing of marriage should concern everyone, gay, straight or undecided. Marriage is the basic building block of society, essential to our human lives. It's redefinition affects society in which we all have a stake. The glibly hypocritical “If you don't like gay marriage don't have one” is a massive untruth: under this re-definition of the institution everyone gets a gay marriage.

The family predates the state & the state has little business reordering it for some current fashion. Same Sex marriage is an intrusion into the social meaning of family & marriage by the state, not some compassionate crusade by the powerless. The State could get out of marriage altogether, by adopting the libertarian view that marriage is best handled (like everything else) by private arrangements in civil society, allowing any group the marriage of their choice & neutralising the need for any debate on the appropriateness of a one size fits all policy. Since the argument of proponents is that the change to Same Sex Marriage is irrelevantly tiny this argument is certainly not on their agenda. It may yet surface from opponents of the move.

Marriage is not about the whims of adults, nor is it based on their romantic entanglements. Marriage, as a social institution, is centrally about the creation, rearing & socialising of children. That is its meaning to society. Couples & individuals may enter marriage for all sorts of reasons, even intending NOT to have children but the social meaning of the institution, not its meaning to any one couple or individual, is what matters.

One central barrier to rational debate on these issues is the widespread & unshakeable belief that relationships only have the meaning we ascribe to them ourselves, with no wider implications or meaning.  

The purpose of marriage is different from individual conceptions or reasons for marriage so too is it separate from the accidental. Spouses die, or are unfaithful, what was intended as a long term or even lifetime contract is abandoned, maybe even on whim. These are individual failings, not purposeful nature or function of the institution.

In the culture war has become a destructive article of faith & therefore an unmentionable heresy to question, that all family models are equal.
The nuclear two parent family was radioactive to all totalitarian movements of the 20th century & the needs of Nazi's & Marxists to destroy private life have spilled over into a fundamental dislike of the nuclear family in a public discourse polluted by Marxist ideological tropes.

Outcomes are not the same across all models: children do best when reared in a two parent father & mother model family. David Blakenhorn put marriage’s advantages for children most succinctly “Marriage is the planet’s only institution whose core purpose is to unite the biological, social and legal components of parenthood into one lasting bond.” No amount of anecdotal evidence (my nephew was a the child of a single mother) or appeals to personal offence ( I'm a single mother & I find what you say offensive) outweigh the masses of data collected in almost all countries. Shifting the legal definition & social purpose of marriage away from that model threatens the very basis of life & society but just as our public discourse is now stripped of the knowledge of how classical liberalism created prosperity & widespread technological progress, so too has it been denuded of even trace knowledge of a social order more complex than we can understand.

Children, whether it pleases the activists or not, are the product of heterosexual sex. Children, biologically, have a father & a mother. We can either acknowledge and celebrate who we are or do as the Same Sex Marriage proponents would have us do: reducing a man to a sperm donor/sperm inserter & a woman to convenient tank incubator in our central family law. This this reductionist notion of human sexuality is disrespectful of our humanity, distorts the law & can only be disastrous for society.

Same Sex Marriage puts at the heart of family law an implicit endorsement of that form of prostitution that is surrogacy. Wombs-for-rent are in the main a third world phenomenon as the desperate use the only marketable item they have to achieve some kind of gain. As a libertarian/minarchist I have argued that the state ought not be in the business of forbidding & preventing “capitalist acts between consenting adults” (Nozick) but the concept of consent must be distorted by the enormous financial abyss between the surrogate mother & rich westerners. If prostitution is an evil here surely trans-national prostitution aimed at some of the world’s poorest women is questionable? It is not a trade to place at the centre of the meaning of family law.

Biology has meant that for all of human history parents were of both genders. That essential gender difference is vital in the rearing & socialisation of children. Neither parents nor parenting are gender neutral . Children need & are entitled to a father & mother. Nothing comes before a child's right to that essential human construct. Enshrining Same Sex Marriage in law requires that right to be written out & dismissed. Even to bring up the family as a rights issue is to invite the invective of cadre of activists for whom the nuclear family is is a culturally created prison-camp.

The argument's from children's rights has been up-ended & looking-glassed by Same Sex Marriage proponents in a hideous way: arguing that because Gay couples have children not allowing Same Sex Marriage discriminates against those children. In fact it is the exact opposite: those children must not be deprived of their origin. No child is the product of homosexual union, always there is a father & mother nor can any good come from enshrining an asexual, de-gendered model of the family in law.

The penny-dreadful Barack Obama took that argument to a risible level when he reasoned that he had to support Same Sex Marriage because his children could not understand why the gay parents of their friends could not marry. In effect Mr Obama was arguing to be allowed construct a society based on the beliefs & comprehension of his children. Deliberately constructed societies are dangerous since society is much more complex that we understand, to reduce social construction to that which White House teenagers could understand is beyond comment.

If children, their genesis, rearing & socialising are not at the centre of the socio-legal meaning of marriage then the State has no reason to forbid marriage to any two people. Since the progeny outcome is irrelevant restrictions on incestuous or any other union not now regarded as licit, are merely based on personal disgust, not rational grounds. Such grounds could not be used as a continuing basis for regulation. Same Sex Marriage is viable as an idea only when the meaning of marriage itself is collapsed.

It is, said the lamp merchant to Aladdin, the smallest, least important of lamps. We are inveigled with the same words concerning the minuteness of the proposed change but a change that alters the meaning of the institution, enshrines a absurdly reductionist notion of human sexuality & a denial of of the natural rights of children at the heart of family law is too large a lamp to hand over easily.

The fundamental changes required by this genie’s lamp necessarily create a cascade of changes which have neither been questioned nor thought through.

Massive linguistic engineering must take place not just to re-order the language surrounding marriage but centrally to give effect to the state’s intrusion into the family. While the Nick Clegg proposes abolishing the terms of husband & wife, Canadian law has been overhauled to remove the word parent: the state defines the relationship between child & “guardian”.

Since Same Sex Marriage creates one social institution of marriage for all couples discrimination, in the sense of recognising a distinction or differentiating, will not be possible. The first implication is for religious freedom. The issue of whether Churches will be forced to celebrate Same Sex weddings against their wishes (Nick Clegg intends that the Established Church in Britain will) is, like many of the issues implied, not possible to yea or nea without the legal changes becoming embedded into jurisprudence, but like Mr Clegg, many Same Sex Activists are clear that for churches or other institutions to refuse will be “discrimination”: an ominous word given that even private individuals are subject to lawsuit in many jurisdictions for minor refusals to cooperate with Same Sex Marriage ceremonies.

The terrifyingly totalitarian ending of Catholic adoption agencies in the UK, closed by Labour’s equality law, shows the dangers of placing dubious equality concepts in all embracing law. Catholic (or any, the law was non sectarian, merely pro the new Anti-Discrimination creed) adoption agencies could not  discriminate or choose, all couples had to be equal. The end of the Catholic agencies demonstrates the evil perpetrated in the name of doctrine & the inability of this new totalitarianism to allow competing or alternative institutions.

Religious freedom is not merely the freedom to worship but to engage in the full practise of faith. Where only non-religious institutions are permitted to exist for any reasons then religious freedom no longer exists. Closing Catholic adoption agencies, forcing Christian & other churches to act against their essential beliefs is a direct & intense attack on religious freedom.

None of this is to say that gay people themselves inherently make bad parents: always the central issue with Same Sex Marriage are the socio-legal changes to the central social institution & the implications of those changes but we must beware of being trapped into pretending that we know enough to equate gay families with those founded by heterosexual couples.

Mark Regnerus’s[link] study of gay parenting is flawed both the possible selection by gay couples of children heterosexuals would not take & the fact that natural children of individuals in homosexual couple adoption had already been through traumatic family disintegration. Outcomes for both groups could only be poor. Regnerus’s sole contribution may be to mark the issue of stability & relationship length for further investigation. The 2005 official brief on same-sex parenting by the American Psychological Association (APA) suffers from mirror-image faults by being selective only of a small sample of prosperous stable couples. No evidence can be adduced either way from flawed, conflicting studies. There is however the issue of what is best for the child. Children are not experimental subjects and arguing that all couples must be treated the same for adoption purposes ( As British law now so treats) ignores the unknowns as a non-risk in favour of religious creed of selective Anti Discrimination. Discriminating or choosing on the basis of children’s potential welfare (all adoption choices are about potential or future happenings) is not just reasonable but necessary. A child is not in this sense, a right but a privilege. Gay people ought not be excluded from adoption, merely in the interests of children given our current state of knowledge, married couples should be given preference.

Gay couples are entitled to give legal effect to their love & partnerships: needless cruelty is not the mark of a well ordered society. Hardships inflicted on gay men & women whose relationships had no legal basis, the terrors inflicted by legal exclusion from deathbeds, funerals or finances of partners served only to demean rather than strengthen the social order. No case can be made for treating gay couples in any way differently from a tax, pension or benefit point of view.

There is within the current flawed Civil Union law the core of a real gay social institution, one that reflects the needs & realities of gay people’s lives. Developing this would be much more useful than the misguided, failing Same Sex Marriage efforts.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

No excuse for RTE

There is no excuse for RTE.

No excuse for the rotten journalism, the political cadres, the embarrassing home produced output or the brutal, coercive theft that is the license fee.

Once, in a poorer Ireland, in a time when statist nonsense was still believed, the Government felt it necessary to own the single monopoly TV station and extort money from us to pay for their broadcasting choices. Who can forget the dreadful Jacob's Awards, when the luvvies from the Government Monopoly TV & Radio gave themselves awards and then broadcast the award's ceremony at our expense? We are indeed a quiet people.

The monopoly is gone but the extortion continues.

Programmes cost money & in the limited home market that is Ireland it is difficult to make a return on investment. Fast, nimble, imaginative modern production methods should make it possible to produce home programming of quality but the station (it is ONE station with two bad channels) has adapted to changing technology with all the gusto & ability of a socialist to reality. Why should it adapt? With no market discipline & the right to steal money directly from the public Government agencies NEVER adapt.

RTE the station is undead, a vampire corpse sitting on expensive real estate, employing an over-paid over-unionised restrictive-practise paralysed workforce. Yes, it keeps broadcasting at our expense but the pretence of relevance, of utility has been stripped away.

The imported series, even those snatched away from the independent channel with the loot of the license fee, are merely re-runs, seen already either on other British Channels or, as increasingly the case, on the internet.

The net has slain the beast, freeing us of the choices of patronising Government know-betters & the sluggish bureaucracy of RTE.

In the near future Pat Rabbitte, the veteran of student politics & unabashed Marxism who has settled into a a semi respectable middle age as the Labour Party's most self regarding bully, proposes to institute a "Broadcasting Charge" to replace the license fee.

Rabbitte believes we are obliged to pay RTE for the privilege of avoiding it by internet. Rabitte believes a lot of very stupid things.

There is no excuse for RTE, no excuse or any kind of moral justification for either the license fee or a "broadcasting charge" to fund the collection of leeches that it is. No moral case can be made that coercion is valid but even those who accept state coercion have failed to make a case for coercive financial support for RTE. In our own homes we are free to watch what we will: we owe nothing to Rabbitte & absolutely nothing to RTE or the decisions it has made.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Proud of What? The Shame Season

It is that time of year again, the Pride Season.

Every city & borough must have a Gay Pride March or risk being consigned to the second rate & terminally provincial. In a world of near absolute individual freedom where being gay, far from being a a black mark on one's social copy book is instead a passport to cool, it is hard to see what point or purpose these marches hold.

I have been uninterested in these public displays. A distrust of over-exhibitionist displays made me question why precisely participants needed the marches. A happy Saturday spent with a prince (who, afterwards turned into a particularly noxious frog) at the Dublin Pride at least surrounded the parades with a certain romantic glow.  
No amount of freedom can stop young people struggling with identity, working out who they are & what their path is. What effect on young men, struggling with identity, a parade of gyrating near naked males herded by drag queens has is not measurable. That it is no help and may even may be damaging is fairly obvious, but this will not stop the professional queers.

For the professionally gay, sexuality is the ultimate achievement. Gay is what they are, the entire circumference of their persona. Sexual identity is all. Gay makes them interesting & justifies their lives. That we are more than our sexual identity was the reason for liberation from vicious legal prejudice: now we seek imprisonment within that single dimensional id.

The epitome of that thinking was the appointment as Grand Marshall of the Dublin Pride March a man without any obvious achievement to his name except that he dresses as a women, or rather as a gay man's version of a woman. Drag has always seemed to me to be a cry for help, a public display that exhibits rather than masks the pain beneath, an evidence of personal problems rather than reason to celebrate.

If the march is about pride it must be possible to find a gay person for which there might be reason to be proud, a person who has achieved beyond the ordinary. Peter Thiel is neither Irish nor available but how many of the organisers of these nonsensical parades even know who he is? Unfortunately, for the victim culture steeped professional gays, Miss Panti Bliss is a high achiever: professionally gay to the utter extreme.

I can no longer be uninterested in Pride Marches. These parades are a source of shame, an embarrassment to any gay person who thinks himself, as I do, fully equal. They reek of ghetto, victim culture & rank intellectual laziness. It is time not just to re-evaluate but to stop in the name of real equality.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A Speech too Dangerous


Earlier this year I went to The Fine Gael Ard Fheis to attend the debate about Same Sex Marriage. Incredibly the motion to to prioritise the consideration of allowing same-sex marriage at the forthcoming constitutional convention was not debated: only speakers IN FAVOUR of the motion were allowed contribute by the session chairperson Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.


 I am a secular blasphemist, opposing SSM, my sin made worse by my being a gay man. That day blasphemy was not allowed rear its ugly head!


If being silenced was not galling enough Catherine Byrne TD added insult to injury by praising the motions proposer for his "courage". My response to that piece of outrageous nonsense is below  here but this is the speech I would have given had I not been silenced.

"Chair person,
Minister,
Deputies,
Friends.

I am the third generation of my family to campaign for this great party but as the last gay man arrested under the vile 1861 law, a 21 year old entrapped & terrorised by an under-employed member of the Vice Squad, I had to wait over twenty years to shake Alan Shatter’s hand & thank him for his role in preventing a division & frustrating Fine Gael attempts to vote against the 1993 Norris Act.
Now, this time in public at an FG Ard Fheis, thank you Mr Shatter.
My sexuality should be irrelevant in a debate on same sex marriage but we are NOT having a debate and this motion is part of that forbidding, excluding & silencing.
Instead of open discussion we have the equivalent of the fascist thuggery we saw outside this convention centre today, where to express any doubt at our headlong rush to redefine marriage is to become a target for vicious, vile abuse as Lucinda Creighton discovered last year.
If this is such a small change why enforce it with such jack boot tactics? If Same Sex Marriage is such a good idea why can we not all debate it within Fine Gael instead of sending it to this elitist “Constitutional Convention”?
I’m a gay man committing secular blasphemy: I oppose gay marriage & I oppose this motion because it removes the debate from this democratic party.
Yes individuals enter into marriage for various reasons but at the heart of this debate, if we are allowed to have one, are not individual choices but the meaning of the institution of marriage itself.
Marriage is centrally neither about love nor about adults. Marriage is protected & privileged because it is in families that children are born, raised & socialised. The proposal of Same Sex Marriage aims to put adult’s needs & gratification & the heart of marriage & bases marriage on some notion of romantic love. That is bad enough but in order to give Same Sex Marriage the force & power it is claimed it must have, the state necessarily reaches its sinister tentacles into the legal basis of all marriages, all families & all relationships.
In British law there will be neither husbands nor wives & if that piece of marvellous linguistic engineering does not chill consider the fact that to empower Same Sex Marriage Canadian family law has been thoroughly revised to remove that offensive term……… “parent”. Only guardians are permitted, family ties exist purely at the behest & grace of the state.
Guardian for father/mother, partner for wife/husband are not just different words for old identities but an effort to erode & eradicate deep seated symbolic & actual meanings, to profoundly change how we regard ourselves & our family relationships. Terms that mean everything to everyone inevitably mean nothing to anyone. We should demand that campaigners for Same Sex Marriage are honest & upfront about this profound re-definition of marriage & family.
Try as I might I will never get my boyfriend pregnant.
Children are a born of two opposite sex parents. Reducing a man to a sperm donor/sperm inserter & a woman to convenient tank incubator is disrespectful of their humanity, distorts the law & can only be disastrous for society. Yet at its heart that is what Same Sex Marriage will & must do.
It should be neither controversial nor odd to restate the truth that children do best raised in a stable union with a mother & father but sadly in this insane culture-war that truth is a red rag to the fantasy land bulls.
Mothers & fathers men & women, are gendered, those real, basic gender differences matter in the rearing of a child. Can gay people be good parents, off course we can and are. Do heterosexuals sometimes make bad parents? Is Enda Kenny a card carrying Fine Gael member!
That should not change our social & legal preference for children to have a father and mother raise them, as is their birth right. 


Pretending that gender is merely a construct or that outcomes for children are irrelevant may work in a Gender Studies MA thesis but this is the real world with real children & need real Mammies & Daddies. Great claims require great evidence but no one whit of real evidence has been advanced to prove that gender neutral rearing benefits children. A mish-mash of adolescent complaints & appeals to the great God equity do not amount to evidence.

Same Sex Marriage is presented, like many bad ideas, as both progressive & caring.

Pretending that Same Sex Marriage is part of some historical progress is just deluded: history has no narrative, no storyline, just the actions of people. We should rigorously interrogate parties or people that describe themselves as “progressive” on exactly what progress, what narrative, which road. From Marx to Pol Pot narrative pre-ordained history has justified to much misery to be tolerated as an argument.
It is not uncaring to reject damaging ideas, nor is it bigoted to see gender as mattering or to want the best for the nation’s children.
Fianna Fail has voted for same sex marriage. Fianna Fail are in opposition & if there is justice in the world & a smidgen if self-preservation in the electorate they will remain in opposition until they rot.

They know that promissory notes given at their Ard Fheis will never have to be paid, unlike the ones they so liberally disbursed while in government.
We on the other hand are the largest party in government & the ties we bind, bind ministers, bind government, and ultimately bind Ireland. Our promises should not be given lightly & not without thorough debate


I lived through an era of shocking legalised persecution, real discrimination & it makes my blood boil in this free Ireland to have the word discrimination tossed about thoughtlessly with no understanding of its meaning. That real discrimination I faced in the 80s made me learn courage, I’m asking you to have the courage today to reject this motion & let us really debate Same Sex Marriage in this party."

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Fast, Furious & an Un-Scrutinised President

Elections have a pattern. Those patterns are based on the weaknesses of people & their ignorance of the real ability of the elected politician to improve their lives. No candidate or party gets votes by telling voters that their own efforts in a free market will do more for their prosperity than any politician or government fiat. The competition is to promise that government will do more, extend its hand into new areas faster & more convincingly than the alternative candidates.

Facts that government decree cannot decree wealth, free markets protect consumers & sellers with an efficiency that no bureaucracy can match are unspeakable blashphemy. With Government lies wisdom, prosperity & the great modern witch-word, fairness. Democracy has become deliberately ignorant of how it became wealthy, the enemy of its own very prosperity.

Journalists & editors are no wiser than the rest of the electorate & it may be cogently argued,not even be as wise. Group think & selection are more rigorous in media outlets than machine shops if only because machine operators only have to show dexterity with tools, not the received ideas & tropes of the age. Few come to journalism un-tainted by a university education & it is in the universities that the failure of free market advocates is the most pernicious. The left offer compassion, action & a framework for analysing the world, free market capitalists merely freedom & individual responsibility both for oneself & ones relations with others.

That desire for that wise governmental benevolence  saw it's zenith in the 2008 US Presidential election. The previous incumbent,George Bush, inarticulate at the best of times, looked overwhelmed by economic disaster & as a prisoner of his neo-con conversion post 9/11, embroiled in a sequence of bloody, protracted, un-winnable wars. Although Bush was not the Republican candidate, it was next to impossible for John McCain, a decent man with a heroic Vietnam war record, to escape the administration's shadow or mistakes.

Barrack Obama caught the public imagination not just in the US but internationally. Young, articulate but most importantly, black he was the embodiment of promise. And did he promise! Not alone would he symbolise a new post-racial America but he would put government at the service of every citizen. The campaign slogan Hope & Change allowed every voter their own wish in this modern electoral paradigm of unlimited government.

The fourth estate played their part by giving the relatively unknown first term senator an examination of of cotton wool reverence. Obama was taken at his own unquestioned word.   The real news-story that now emerges from the lies & deceit of his auto-hagiography "Dream from My Father" is not the his ridiculous portrayal of himself as the persecuted scion of a brave & persecuted line but the complete failure of journalists to examine his claims & career. If the Birthers are crazy their madness has a root in the frustration at how little documented facts either existed or tallied with Obama's own story. He arrived in the Oval office the least scrutinised president  in a century: Harvard Law Review Editor who had forfeited his bar license, radical on social issues & maybe even on socialism,much of his past mysterious.

Obama came to power saddled with the hopes he had engendered & the promises he had made. Nothing short of a divinity could have lived up to those expectations but the Obama that came to power was a creature of both his own & his supporters imaginations. The reality, a man saddled with beliefs he never had to rigorously defend & with no experience of executive office, could but disappoint.


All of this serves as a prelude to the scandal that is shaping the dying days of his (first? only?) administration. 


Eric Holder, Obama's AG, had a record of involvement in questionable decisions both as Deputy AG under Clinton (pardon of the Boricua Popular Army & Marc Rich) and as AG (dropping voter intimidation law suits) but none compared with Gun Walking.


AFT had used the tactic of "gun walking", allowing guns to be purchased for export to Mexico to identify both the straw purchasers & the criminal purchasers in several cities under various code names in order to catch higher level criminals.. The supposed strict policy of the AFT as understood by agents was that guns would never reach Mexico, law enforcement officials would interdict any weapons in the programme before they left US jurisdiction. At least twice, in 2006 and on a smaller scale in 2007, this policy failed miserably with Guns reaching Mexican criminals & no high level gang members caught.

Operation Fast and Furious,begun in late 2009 was both bigger & had the strange policy change of not interdicting guns. As the operation progressed AFT agents became more & more concerned that huge amounts of guns were reaching dangerous Mexican drug gangs. So called straw buyers continued to purchase guns (from legal gun dealers co-operating with the AFT) for over a year while agents of the bureau were not allowed intercept those guns.

So bizarre was the policy that in an effort to explain or make some sense of it some have latched on to Holder's previous Gun Control sympathies & speculate that he was trying to provoke an a backlash to gun s & gun ownership.

This insane policy came to an end after the murder in December 2010 of a US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Although the bullet that killed Terry could not be forensically linked to a particular gun, two Fast ans Furious guns were found abandoned near the shooting. Mexican drug criminals abandon any gun used in a killing.

AFT agents no longer were prepared to stay silent, informing not just a senator but leaking information into the blogosphere.

Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has been investigating Gun Walking and pursuing Holder. The fact that much heavier, military grade weapons which were almost impossible to purchase from the co-operating legal gun dealers surfaced in Mexico in caches of Fast and Furious weapons meant that Fast and Furious had deeper roots & more greater scope than the stated AFT operation.

Obama's March 23 2011 TV appearance denying that either Holder or himself authorised Fast & Furious is widely available on the internet. In May that year Holder testified under oath that he did not know who authorised it.

Last week the clash between Issa's investigation & Holder's determination not to divulge about the operation his department of Justice had run reached a crisis. With over seven thousand pages of documentation turned over, Issa held to his demands for another  known one thousand three hundred pages on the threat of holding the AG in contempt. In response the President placed an Executive Immunity order on the unseen documentation relating to Fast and Furious.

Holder went from denying all knowledge of the operation to sheltering the Fast and Furious from oversight under Executive Privilege. Next week Congress will vote on whether to hold him in contempt.

Up to now the over one thousand guns out standing in criminal hands, even the presence of military grade weapons from the operation, were at worst, a bad mistake by the AFT & US Attorneys. Everyone is dispensable & even Holder could have been thrown under the bus. Now Holder is merely a surrogate for Obama himself who has linked himself to Fast and Furious if only in the cover-up.

The President who came to power with such hope & goodwill faces into an election hiding the details of an insane, deliberate policy of arming Mexican Drug Cartels. Over two hundred men, women & children  in Mexico with and US Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry were murdered as a direct result of a policy which may have been a criminal conspiracy. 


The cover up, the arrogant belief in his own righteousness all part of the Obama pattern. This time, the veneer worn thin & citizen journalists parsing every piece of information, Obama will not escape scrutiny.

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