Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Pope John Paul II

KNTV FeedRoom at NBC has a live feed from the Vatican - there is quite a large crowd gathering at the bottom of the picture - the square would be completely shut off at this hour of the night. It is after midnight in Rome at the moment - I walked through the square Tuesday night and there was about 15 people in total there - obviously people are trying to find out what happened.
His lights are off - the top 3 on the right of the Apostolic Palace which is to the back of the building in bottom right of picture.

According to Sky, doctors are saying that he is "sick, very sick".

Lessons of a Pontiff's Twilight

The meaning of the Pope's suffering is something that Catholics are struggling with - George Weigel wrote an article a few days ago in which he talked about how the Pope "'is living his via crucis,' his way of the cross. It's not something the world has watched a pope do for a very long time. We should recognize it for what it is, and be grateful for the example. "

Peggy Noonan wrote about her meeting with the Pope a few years ago where she described meeting him like "meeting a saint at sunset". I was blessed to meet the Pope myself and receive his blessing a few years ago - I can still vividly remember the soft caress of his hand on my cheek - he was ill enough at the time - using a walking stick and was quite bent over - but was still a vital man, very engaged with the audience and very strong willed. And he possessed the quiet humility of a man who submitted all to God and lived firmly with His embrace.

Update - National Review has an article which quotes from the Pope's 1984 encyclical "On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering" - When the body is gravely ill, totally incapacitated, and the person is almost incapable of living and acting, all the more do interior maturity and spiritual greatness become evident, constituting a touching lesson to those who are healthy and normal.
How true his own words are - his living of them over the last few days is extraordinarily powerful.

Pope - Very Ill.

This blog has a friend in the Vatican who is saying that the Pope has died/very close to death and the announcement will be made when all the Cardinals arrive at St Peters.

I don't know what to make of this - he did receive the Last Rites and will not be hospitalised at the moment for a severe and sudden urinary tract infection.

UPDATE - This could be true - the Vatican has made very late statements - very unusual.
I have spent the last week in Rome and am just back in Ireland yesterday. I can't describe the emotion I felt standing in St Peter's yesterday, shielding my eyes from the midday sun, watching Johannes Paulus II, the only Pope I've ever known, struggle to speak - croaking helplessly into a microphone.
Sky - unconfirmed reports of Last Rites and also that Gemilli hosp are not preparing for an emergency admission.

UPDATE - 23.14 - I don't know how reliable the news is that the Pope has passed on, but our source is very much "in the know"
If he is dead - May the Lord have mercy on his soul
If he remains very ill - May he receive comfort in these difficult hours of suffering. In St Peter's Square yesterday a friend said that the closer one gets to God, it seems, the more one depends on God - this Pope has been long know for his charisma and articulate, multilingual oratory - in the last few days even the simple power of his voice has been stripped from him, leaving him more and more dependent on God. I also heard another friend in Rome describe Christianity as living and struggling for perfection in the world, falling all the time, but able to stand up secure in the knowledge that you're standing in God's arms. I sincerely hope and pray that the Pope feels this consolation in these hours.

UPDATE - 23.23 - The Cardinals have apparently all been called in to St Peters - this much is true though I can not find any reports on this. This could mean that either the Pope is very close to death or has died. He definitely is very very sick.

CBS Releases Schiavo Obituary

From BlogsforTerri - CBS releases a report on Terri Schiavo's death. It's always good to check the details of a story before printing them - especially when you're saying someone is dead when they're not. The original story is here.

Vincent Browne's article in yesterday's Irish Times touches on some of the thorny issues surrounding the ending of this poor woman's life.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

More Irish views on Terri Schiavo

The Freedom Institute weighs in.
John McGuirk puts it quite succintly -
"Ok, so the American courts have decided to agree with her husband that Terri Schiavo is not worth keeping alive (Even though her husband has not visited her for 10 years, has children with another woman, and stands to gain a substantial amount in life assurance if she dies). But considering that when those same courts sentence a criminal to death, every effort is made to save them pain, why is it that Terri Schiavo must die slowly of thirst over a week, while her parents stand and watch? This is euthanasia by the back door, and Mrs. Schiavo and her family are being needlessly forced to suffer."

Explosion in Texas oil plant - Al Qaeda to blame?

This could be a huge story. None of the American networks seem to be running with it yet, but the possibility of terrorist involvement can't be discounted at the moment. The next few hours will reveal a lot.

If it is Al Qaeda, it will show that they can still strike America, but it will also show that their capability has been severely downgraded. This won't have anything like the propaganda value of 9/11 in terms of illustrating radical Islam's ability to cause huge casualities to the Great Satan.

Alternatively, it could just be an accident.

Terri Schiavo

Atlantic Blog provides links to some bloggers and the Corner has been very busy reporting on this terrible case. What kind of society allows a husband decide to starve his wife of water and food, depsite her parents wish to care for her? Where are the campaigners on violence against women?
Slate has an excellent article by Harriet McBryde Johnson, a disability rights lawyer who has a neuromuscular disease. Well worth a read.
"I watch nourishment flowing into a slim tube that runs through a neat, round, surgically created orifice in Ms. Schiavo's abdomen, and I'm almost envious. What effortless intake! Due to a congenital neuromuscular disease, I am having trouble swallowing, and it's a constant struggle to get by mouth the calories my skinny body needs. For whatever reason, I'm still trying, but I know a tube is in my future. So, possibly, is speechlessness. That's a scary thought. If I couldn't speak for myself, would I want to die? If I become uncommunicative, a passive object of other people's care, should I hope my brain goes soft and leaves me in peace?
My emotional response is powerful, but at bottom it's not important. It's no more important than anyone else's, not what matters"

Senior Conservative rethinks stance on death penalty

Republican Senator Rick Santorum, of Pennsylvania, favourite target of left wing hate mongers, is reconsidering his stance on the death penalty. He says he was "inspired by the Pope's call to be consistently pro-life". Senator Santorum is a devout Catholic.

Senator Santorum is a staunch conservative, but he dirtied his bib with that conservative constituency over his support for liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter in a Pennsylvania Senatorial primary last year.

As an opponent of the death penalty, I welcome any new converts, especially from the Republican right. However, given polling data which shows him trailing to Bob Casey, a pro life Democrat, and another Catholic, I have my doubts as to the sincerity of his conversion.

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Terri Schiavo - Ward Case redux

Anyone familiar with recent Irish constitutional jurisprudence will recognise that the Schiavo case in the US is a rerun of the Ward case here: a woman in a Post Vegatative State whose next of kin (in the Ward case, the woman's family, in the Schiavo case, the woman's separated husband) wants her to "die with dignity". In the Ward case, the hospice caring for the woman objected to this desire, since it involved starving her to death. In the Schiavo case the woman's family have the same problem.

The difference? The political reaction. In the US, politicians and pundits have reacted with dismay to the spectacle of a woman being slowly starved to death. Here, the starving and dehydration was not dwelt on, and only pro life groups and the aforementioned hospice reacted with the appropriate outrage. In the US, this saga has run and run for months; the issue was barely noticed.

It looks as though Terri Schiavo's husband will get his way. His wife has been denied food and water for over 100 hours now. The cultural left seem to think this is fine. It is actually barbaric, but at least there are still enough people to make a stand for life in that country. Unlike here.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The strange death of the liberal West

Mark Steyn in today's Telegraph -
"Ah, the protocols of the elders of science. Odd the way scientists have such little regard for scientific progress. It's highly likely that many birth defects - not just the bilateral cleft lips - will be treatable and correctible in the next decade or two. But once you start weighing the relative values of individual lives, there's no end to it. Much of that derives from the way abortion has redefined life - as a 'choice', an option.
In practice, a culture that thinks Terri Schiavo's life in Florida or the cleft-lipped baby's in Herefordshire has no value winds up ascribing no value to life in general. Hence, the shrivelled fertility rates in Europe and in blue-state America: John Kerry won the 16 states with the lowest birth rates; George W Bush took 25 of the 26 states with the highest.
The 19th-century Shaker communities were forbidden from breeding and could increase their number only by conversion. The Euro-Canadian-Democratic Party welfare secularists seem to have chosen the same predicament voluntarily, and are likely to meet the same fate. The martyrdom culture of radical Islam is a literal dead end. But so is the slyer death culture of post-Christian radical narcissism. This is the political issue that will determine all the others: it's the demography, stupid."


Playgirl Editor fired for voting Republican

Drudge carries the report of Michele Zipp, editor in chief of Playgirl, who was fired after she wrote an editorial on why she voted for Bush. So much for the tolerance, diversity and freedom of sexual liberalisation and all that.

She has some interesting comments on sexual politics and the neocons.


Peeling A Grape - How a book review should be done

I love book reviews where the reviewer slaps the author over the knuckles with some hard evidence. Jonah Goldberg at the The Corner posted exercpts from WSJ's Brett Stephens' review of Nancy Soderberg's book "The Superpower Myth: The Use and Misuse of American Might".
As Goldberg said, he peels her book like a grape.

Begin with the simplest errors of fact. The aggregate value of global trade was not $4 billion when President Clinton took office; it was $4 trillion, according to the OECD. The Palestinians have not had "several" prime ministers since 2003; they've had two. Richard Perle has never been a member of the Bush administration. The Iraqi National Museum was not significantly looted in April 2003; Britain's leftist Guardian newspaper put paid to that legend in 2003. Israelis did not support the dovish Geneva Accords by 53.3%; the actual figure was 31%, while a plurality of 38% opposed them. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 not 1989. Trivia, really, but when Ms. Soderberg snickers about how candidate Bush struggled through a foreign-policy pop quiz in 2000, one is compelled to snicker back.

Next are larger, but equally basic, errors of analysis. "It is now believed that [Abu Musab] Zarqawi operates independently, and even in competition with bin Laden." She must have missed Zarqawi's declaration of fealty to Osama bin Laden in October. (Bin Laden certainly noticed it: He recently ordered Zarqawi to widen the scope of his efforts beyond Iraq.) "While [Ahmed] Chalabi was popular in certain powerful circles in Washington, he had virtually no support in Iraq." Funny, then, that Mr. Chalabi did well enough in January's elections to be in serious contention for the premiership. "The war in Iraq drew the Bush administration's focus away from Afghanistan during the critical two years following the overthrow of the Taliban, making the job there infinitely harder." Infinitely? Ten million Afghan voters missed that nuance.

And then there is the Soderberg Whopper: "The hegemons' experiment has failed in Iraq," she writes. "Whether other benefits of the war cited by the administration will materialize, such as promoting democracy and reform in the Middle East and a resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict, will take years to evaluate. Early signs indicate the war set back rather than promoted these goals." Early signs being...Palestinian elections? Iraqi elections? The Cedar Revolution? The "Kifaya" ("Enough") movement in Egypt? The end of the intifada? As the lady says, you can always hope that "this might not work."

Monday, March 21, 2005

Anti-Occupation/War Protests

Indymedia provides a few pictures of the anti-Iraq war and Palestine occupation march on Saturday in Dublin.
Unfortunately there aren't enough pictures of confused hand painted placards to giggle at but I am still bemused by this march and the sentiments behind it.
While I don't believe that Iraq is being occupied and that the news coming in from Iraq provides testament to the benefits of the Iraqi invasion, I respect some of the arguments against it. But I can't get my head around those who shout "end the occupation of Iraq" and then experience some kind of tic whereby every time they say "occupation" or "US" they are compelled to say "Palestine" too.
The Israeli-Palestine conflict is a complex issue and the line taken by these anti-occupation/war/US/Israel/capitalism/globalisation types (that all Arabs are so disgusted with Israel that they feel they have to become terrorists and give the US what it deserves) is not good enough and doesn't do analysis of either the Iraqi or the Palestinian situation any justice.

Twenty Major has a post on the Irish Palestine solidarity Campaign and their soccer match protests. His language is absolutely atrocious and takes from the point he's trying to make - basically that Jim Bowen, spokesperson for the IPSC has no interest in soccer and he wasn't aware that that the number 10 Israeli shirt, the one used in their poster, is Walid Badir's, a Palestine Arab and one of the most popular players in Israel.
You really don't need to read the whole post - the language is quite obscene.

CDs, MP3s and stuff

Bernie at IrishEyes has a post on the difficulties of buying CDs that will rip to Mp3 and play in all the various players that most of us have these days.
Hopefully Bruce Springsteen's new album "Devils and Dust" which has a cool cover and will be released as a DualDisc (both CD and DVD on the 1 disc) won't have this problem. I get excited just thinking about this album - the Boss returning to his acousticy roots, in the vein of The Ghost of Tom Joad (my favourite album ever) and Nebraska. Roll on 26th April.

Filesharing/itune-ing has become a way of life for most people at this stage.
I downloaded "talk" by Coldplay thinking it was a b-side (I don't own a single single so I wouldn't know) but as it transpires it is an unfinished mix from their new album X and Y and now they won't release it as part of album because it's been leaked. Fair enough. It's a really good song - I was a little worried when I heard the name "X and Y" (fairly boring) and thought the album might be in the same boring vein - given Chris Martin's creativity in naming his daughter Apple, X and Y sounds too mundane in comparsion.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Chrenkoff provides a quote from Mark Steyn in 2003 -
"Wolfowitz is a demonic figure to the anti-war types for little reason other than that his name begins with a big scary animal and ends Jewishly."

I haven't been following the World Bank story very closely but the Sunday Times have quite a good profile on Wolfwitz who isn't the one dimensional-terminator-monster type that many perceive him to be.

AP - Do you want that with or without bias?

Associated Press gives newspapers 2 options for a story a "traditional lead story" with just the facts and an "optional" which is an alternative
approach that attempts to draw in the reader through imagery, narrative devices, perspective or other creative means.'

From James Taranto's Best of the Web Today:
MOSUL, Iraq (AP)--A suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners Thursday, splattering blood and body parts over rows of overturned white plastic chairs. The attack, which killed 47 and wounded more than 100, came as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad said they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government.

MOSUL, Iraq (AP)--Yet again, almost as if scripted, a day of hope for a new, democratic Iraq turned into a day of tears as a bloody insurgent attack undercut a political step forward.
On Thursday, just as Shiite and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad were telling reporters that they overcame a major stumbling block to forming a new coalition government, a suicide attacker set off a bomb that tore through a funeral tent jammed with Shiite mourners in the northern city of Mosul."

As Taranto said - "That "almost as if scripted" is a wonderful touch--a confirmation that many journalists have their own bad-news script in reporting on Iraq."

This story reminded me of the Saw Doctors song "Good News" - will AP provide some happy stories for us regardless of the facts. Or maybe even provide us with the good news from Iraq...which Chrenkoff's Good News from Iraq does superbly.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Darwin and Larry Summers

A sensible feminist from the Guardian on the Larry Summers affair (the Harvard president whose remarks on sex differences had feminists reaching for their smelling salts)
"It is scandalous that educated women should be so profoundly ignorant of scientific and statistical thinking; even more scandalous that, rather than learn, they slam the door and sneak to the media; and more scandalous still that they do this in the name of feminism. It is not sex differences but sexism that is iniquitous. And it is not science but injustice that should be opposed. For how can we forge a fairer world if we lack a proper understanding of how the sexes differ? "

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bono snubbed

Paul Wolfowitz nominated for World Bank head.
I don't have any problems with his nomination especially now that my U2 Croke Park tickets are safe (as in Bono won't be otherwise engaged in June) but I can see the plumes of steam that many will have coming out of their ears already.

Where's the Justice?

"This raises an outrageous double standard. Dogs - our closest allies in the animal kingdom - can be shot for harassing wildlife or livestock. But free-loading cats are protected when they massacre birds for sport. Where's the justice?"

Jonah Goldberg on Cats on National Review Online.
I abhor cats - dirty smug creatures. And they kill lots of cute birdies too. Fox hunting bad. Cat hunting good???

The Onion's Irish-Heritage Timeline

This Irish-Heritage Timeline is probably more accurate than some Irish historians' versions of events (cough, Tim Pat Coogan, cough) and is definitely a lot funnier.
Hat tip Slugger. My screen cuts off at about 1950 and I only get a tantalising half glimpse of Frank McCourt's face. Perhaps that's part of the joke - us Irish are so miserable and with the rain in Limerick and all we can only afford half of McCourt's visage.

The things that prevent articles writtten on Sinn Fein

Anne Applebaum (author of the excellent "Gulag") in today's Washington Post on how, despite many reasons to write about Sinn Fein, she ended up discussing how Susan Estrich is bad for women.

In a ranting, raving series of e-mails last month, all of which were leaked, naturally, Estrich accused Kinsley of failing to print enough articles by women, most notably herself, and of resorting instead to the use of articles by men, as well as by women who don't count as women because they don't write with "women's voices."............
But now, thanks to Estrich, every woman who gets her article accepted will have to wonder whether it was her knowledge of Irish politics, her willingness to court controversy or just her gender that won the editor over.
This is a storm in the media teacup, but it has echoes in universities, corporations and beyond. I am told, for example, that there is pressure at Harvard Law School, and at other law schools, to ensure that at least half the students chosen for the law review are women. Quite frankly, it's hard to think of anything that would do more damage to aspiring female lawyers. Neither they nor their prospective employers will ever know whether they got there as part of a quota or on their own merits. There's nothing wrong with a general conversation about how women can be helped to succeed in law school or taught not to fear having strong opinions. But trust me, in none of these contexts do you want to start calculating percentages


Cuban Healthcare

Hat tip Instapundit.
This photo report should be required reading for all those Irish people who think socialised healthcare, like the fantastic service provided in Cuba, works. It doesn't.

A whole new definition of lobbying

From the FT via Slugger O'Toole on Sinn Fein
"It is difficult to share power with people when you do not know whether remarks such as 'I really don't think you should pass this bill' should be interpreted as useful political input or a threat to your kneecaps."


American punditry on the North

Some articles on Northern Ireland from National Review - "Sicily without Sunshine" by John Cullinan and David Frum

2 posts on their blog, The Corner are also interesting -
"RE: IRA [Shannen Coffin]
Ok, that's the second anti-Sinatra slur of the morning. It's an epidemic. On a more serious note, it is heartening to many Americans of Irish ancestry -- including this one -- that Gerry Adams got the boot this week from the White House. The legitimization of terrorist organizations like the IRA and the PLO over the last decade was one of the more detestable aspects of U.S. foreign policy. But as Mark Steyn properly pointed out in his syndicated column this morning, the Brits are as much to blame for that legitimization as anyone. But it is high time that we stopped glamorizing the thugs in Ireland simply because they supposedly practice the same religion as many of us in America. The days when Michael Collins tactics were thought necessary are long since gone, and the IRA should go with them."

The depravity of the so-called Irish Republican Army is now so apparent that even Ted Kennedy has noticed it!
Oh, it gets better -- I just read further: Even Rep. Peter King has noticed it!!!
Where were they when Gerry and his lads were blowing up Irish Protestants and London shoppers? Rattling the tin cup for Irish terrorists, that's where.
(Notice, by the way, that Rep. King still can't let go of his weasel words about Europe's most vicious and amoral terrorist gang. He says: "the IRA [have] made a series of poor decisions that had sparked anger in Irish-American circles." Translation: They are not bad people, just bad politicians. Rep. King is to the international terrorist movement what Frank Sinatra was to the Mafia.)"


Saturday, March 12, 2005

McGuinness refuses to comment on Groogan revelation

From "Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said today he didn't care who was in Magennis's bar the night Robert McCartney was murdered as long as they gave information to the authorities."

Okay Martin we're with you there...but Cora Grogan's own solicitor is hardly the "authorities" is it???
Sinn Fein have obviously never been given advice on what do when you're in a know something to with do leaving down the shovel and stop digging.


The Trauma of the O'Hara family

From today's Irish Times: "'I went over to the house last Sunday and it was like a morgue. It's one of the most traumatic things that can happen to a parent: to have your children taken from you when you've done everything you possibly can to help and protect them. You don't need to be found guilty of anything. That's the most frightening thing of all.'"

This story says an awful lot about the role of the State in family life and the role of the State in helping those with disabilities to reach their full potential in society.
Without any particular procedure or informing the family beforehand, the State can come and take the children into care, because they have deemed in their infinite wisdom that they know best and they have the children's best interests at heart. Despite the State's superiority in deciding what's best for children with autism the State is unable or unwilling to provide the necessary extra care that these children need.

This is the true scandal in the Department of Health this week, not the Travers report.
The Travers report is indicative of the bureaucratic and static culture in the DoH for years where middle manager posturing overshadowed the needs of patients. The quiet desperation of a Meath family in searching valiantly for the little extra care that their children need and deserve contrasts sharply with the opportunistic calls of the opposition for Martin's resignation over Travers when they should be screaming and shouting so no other family should spend a week like the O'Haras.

Sinn Fein candidate in McCartney murder bar

Sinn Fein candidate Cora Grogan was in Magennis's bar on the night of Robert McCartney's murder - she gave her statement to her solicitor - how big of her.
U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday rings particularly true in this situation - how long, how long must we sing this song.
Have Sinn Fein learnt nothing from the events of the last few months???

"Catherine McCartney today said she was astonished to learn that a Sinn Fein candidate had been present on the night her brother Robert was killed.
"She says she has given a statement to a solicitor but I would challenge her to give a statement to the police or the Police Ombudsman" Catherine McCartney said.
"Giving statements to solicitors is not really what is needed. The statement should be given to people with the proper investigative skills who can help to bring those responsible to court."


Friday, March 11, 2005

Support from SF grown among women

From Slugger O'Toole
I have been struck by the feminine steel shown by the McCartney sisters over the last few weeks and again by the quiet force and strength in the women interviewed on RTE's Prime Time last night - even though I don't buy the feminist political line that all women think the same about politics I would hope that the example set by these courageous women will resound with many.

Some rather bitter comments left on the slugger thread - I don't actually personally know any women who'd support Sinn Fein but I really hope they don't fit into either category described -
"There are two types of women who vote Sinn Fein, the 'little women' who always do what they ae told by their menfolk and the second kind who want to be their menfolk. The second kind can be seen at any Sinn Fein rally or event, dressed in combat gear, with shaven head, one earring and a scowl. There was plenty of the first kind at the Ard Feis this year, all dressed in nice suits and proper dresses trying to look as if they understood what was being said by the men.
I personally blame Gerry Adams, God be with the days when Maire Drumm ran Mna Na HEireann and women were content to bang dustbin lids. "


Labour 's still trying to buy votes with education

I admit that I'm probably 1 of about 3 students in Ireland who want free fees abolished. They are possibly the greatest burden on achieving educational excellence in this country.
Labour are now calling for "action on educational disadvantage".
The problems with third level education - lack of participation from those in low income areas as well as deficits in funding for more research, staff and better resources stem in many ways to Labour's cynical attempt to buy off middle class voters with free fees.
If Labour are serious about making the privilege of third level education a realistic aspiration for those in low income areas they need to start providing alternatives to achieving better primary education, school finishing programmes, etc. None of these can currently be dealt with satisfactorily due to the millions of taxpayers’ money siphoned off to pay for college education of thousands of students who can well afford it, and would go to university with or without free fees.
Fianna Fail and Noel Dempsey got all wobbly about the knees when faced with the terrifying prospects of a militant USI who did all kind of exciting things like marches carrying coffins to the Dail and backed off. Maybe Fine Gael could show some oppositional backbone and come with some creative proposals to halt the deterioration of the Irish educational system. But I doubt it.

France deletes Sartre's cigarette

The Belmont Club provides a few other examples of historical revisionism -

Who controls the past
Controls the future.
Who controls the present
Controls the past.

Has the Internet changed things all that much? Perhaps for most people born after today it will be a truism that Jean Paul Sarte didn't smoke; that Jean Paul Sarte never smoked.

Osama on the run?

Great story, if true. First known instance of Islamic clerics standing up to OBL. It'll be interesting to see if it is the last. While the statement fudges the issue of informing the police, even the fact of such strong disapproval being registered is highly significant. Maybe Islam will start to purge itself of its more unsavoury elements.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Squeezing them where it hurts

From Slugger - not only are SF MPs at risk of losing their allowances/expense account but SF MEPs are under a similar threat.
I don't know the full history of why SF can get away with not taking an oath to the Queen i.e. not serving as full members of Commons but still get an office/expenses.
It seems that SF continued to line their pockets without ever having to face the duplicity of a democratic mandate that is not materialised in actual democratic representation. This is perhaps a long overdue sacrifice for their politics of sectarianism.


The BBC's take on Dan Rather

From Biased BBC
BBC News Online reports on the final appearance of Dan Rather as anchor of CBS Evening News, US news anchor Rather signs off, noting that:
...his retirement has been marred by criticism he received over a recent report questioning President George W Bush's military service record.
And that's all they say about the circumstances of Blather's retirement - conveniently omitting to mention a) Rather's use of plainly forged documents; b) Rather stubbornly sticking by the story, attempting to prop it up for many days (including the infamous "fake but accurate" claims) in the face of mounting evidence before finally bowing, but never quite fully admitting, to the inevitable truth; c) the context of the scandal during the US Presidential Elections; or d) the direct link between the scandal and Rather's subsequent tarnished retirement.

Bye to the Dan

Michelle Malkin on Dan Rather's parting from CBS. Dan Rather would have remained outside my circle of interest if it wasn't for toddyunct and another friend of ours who is literally obsessed with him. This particular friend derived a huge amount of satisfaction and happiness from Dan's downfall - so much so that euphoria is still there months later - he texted at 12.30am : "The Dan is no more. He just signed off for the last time on CBS Evening News, We can all sleep a little easier". While the rest of us slept on as though nothing happened, it is heartening to know that a young man in Drumcondra had dreams filled with sunny meadows and rainbows, safe in the knowledge that the Dan is no more.

America on the IRA

The Belmont Club's take on the Rah - excellent.

Some bitter comments though -
I find it hard to believe that the IRA contributors here in suburban Boston would go along with anything President Bush wanted, regardless of how wise it might be. They are solid Kerry/Kennedy supporters.
Hopefully the Irish-American Boston Democrat community are a little more intelligent than that.

One poster links to this article from National Review Online 2002 entitled IRA+PLO=Terror. Recent revelations about al Qaeda training methods has been also identified as carrying some of the IRA's trademarks. If the EU and the Bush administration would unify their terrorist lists with "global reach" to include all terrorist organizations — including the IRA, Hezbollah, all Palestinian terror organizations, and the ELN — we might then have a better chance to win the war on terrorism.

Here's hoping that the axis of evil loses its Belfast cell.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Year of the Big Drought

Looks like an interesting project - a year without the drink.

Twenty Major's Irish blogs criteria

Twenty Major's pretty funny. I think we qualify. Given that we're Irish and that but I also got over 3 on his list. Begorrah aye.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards playing on RTE's The View now. Very annoyed with myself - bought her new album "Back to Me" on pre-release Amazon few weeks ago and got it last week and saw that she was supposed to play Tower Records this evening. I wrote it down in my filofax and everything but forgot to go. Guess I'll just have to wait for her gig in Whelans later this month. The boring arts commentary that preceded her on the View is erased by her performance.
It's an excellent album btw if you liked her first one "Failer" - she's a little like Lucinda Williams - but less country, more acoustic.
I also got Waylon Jennings's son Shooter Jennings's new album "Put the O Back into Country" - it's pretty good.

Media Coverage of Giuliana Sgrena's version of events

Biased BBC has a very comprehensive post on the various interpretations of Giuliana Sgrena's shooting by American soldiers.

Forget Oprah, Adams for Desperate Housewives

When I plopped myself on the couch for my weekly Desperate Housewives fix, I thought Annoying Susan's romantic antics would be the funniest thing I'd see on television tonight (yes, I'm a girl of embarrassingly low standards) but Gerry Adams pops up on News2 live from Navan. Maybe it's the air in Navan that produces comedy - Tommy Tiernan, Hector etc but Adams was priceless. When asked about the IRA's offer of condolences/compassion to the McCartney family (don't be getting upset love, we'll shoot them for you, no bother) and their apparent "ceasefire", Gerry talked about the "usual suspects sounding off in their usual sanctimonious way". In the manner of all great comedians, well Bruce Forsyth anyway, Gerry mentioned his own catchphrase "the British government" multiple times and looked all indignant standing on a damp street in Navan. He said some other really funny things, but RTE2 news is not available online and I'm not clever enough to remember them.Oprah has recently guest starred in a Desperate Housewives episode but I think Gerry Adams, especially after not getting the White House gig, should now try to connect with the American people by getting on Desperate Housewives. He'd fit in well on Wysteria Lane - he's used to spinning most of the storylines at this stage - mysterious disappearances (the annoying Christian one) , criminals in hiding (Bree's son who ran over Carlos's mother) , people with guns and cash in their kitchen presses (Mike, the cute plumber), people who launder money (Carlos...and then his wife burning his passport resembles certain recent infernos in Cork).
Then again, my brain could be fried from reading psychiatry lecture notes and watching television simultaneously all evening.

Monday, March 07, 2005


The Irish Human Rights Commission just released a report on CEDAW (Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) - I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing yet but as a woman I don't like CEDAW for a number of reasons
- it has been ratified by countries that treat women abominably - China (One Child Policy, forced abortion/sterilisation, etc) Iraq (Saddam the feminist), Saudia Arabia, Congo, Nigeria etc....none of them seem too concerned about its implications - why should we have to change our constitution??? (remember that Irish women have full and equal rights with men…..why do we need it?? )
- Throw away your Mother's Day presents - the CEDAW committee tried to stop Belarus from celebrating Mother's Day (apparently motherhood is one of the stereotypes that CEDAW frowns upon) - they also told us to stop promoting a stereotypical view of mothers in the home
- CEDAW type feminist dinosaurs want women to remain victims, continually harping on about wage gaps (which can explained by different career choices based on family focus) and reproductive rights (because vaccinations, basic medical care, food and water are mere luxuries for most of the world's women) without ever stepping back and realising that most women just want to get with living their lives, as individuals not as some giant sisterhood where we all have to think the same.
- CEDAW is essentially socialism - article 11 - The right to equal remuneration, including benefits, and to equal treatment in respect of work of equal value, as well as equality of treatment in the evaluation of the quality of work
- CEDAW is for discrimination against mothers, especially mothers who dare turn their backs on the workplace and decide to mind their children themselves at home - the IRHC is in full agreement on this - the reason why there are so few women in the workplace is because Irish women read article 41 and decided to become "desperate housewives".....when will these people ever exercise some common sense??
- Bizarrely, according to CEDAW, motherhood is bad choice to make but prostitution is not - China was asked by the CEDAW "expert" committee to decriminalise prostitution. As far as I'm concerned, you're not an "expert" on human rights, let alone women's rights, if prostitution is a more acceptable choice for a woman to make than full time motherhood.


For the Love of God....

I was half asleep when I heard Fr Sean Healy on Morning Ireland ranting on about the injustice of people buying second homes (holiday homes) when there are so many people on the housing was all so riduculous I thought I was dreaming (a very weird dream to have admittedly) but it's true - CORI are taking a firm stand against holiday homes. Apparently the infrastructure to support these houses is substantially subsidised by the tax-payer. Roads, water, sewage and electricity infrastructure are just part of this subsidy which goes, by definition, to those who are already better off as they can afford these second homes in the first place. In addition, the authors of the review point out that the huge growth in demand for second houses is eating up resources and militating against balanced regional development.
Fr Healy was challenged on giving up religious land for the development of social housing and he said that Irish religious orders have already given substanial amounts of land at low cost/free for social housing.
Like most sensible people, I believe in the right to own private property. So I don't think the religious should be forced to give up their properties in return for some secular goodwill given all the hospitals, schools and other vital services that were ran by the many hardworking and good religious over the years. But CORI can't tell us not to have a holiday home.
It's not as if all those on waiting lists in Dublin want to move to a cottage in the Burren or Leitrim anyway. Surely a little bit of free market economics and all that would lead to a more prosperous society which enables things like public-private partnership to build social housing....
I recently heard a priest talking about how CORI tended to anti-democracy, which was in his opinion (and mine too) wasn't a wholly Catholic position to take (not that the Church demands a position on economics)...he felt that CORI would much rather an benevolent socialist dictatorship than a thriving free market democracy.
CORI's stand on this and other economic policies are just silly - one presumes that as Catholics, they share the vision that man was made in the image and likeness of God and that man has a daily obligation, through his/her work to continue the work of creation. Creation of wealth follows from the ability to freely create as God intended - using our talents and gifts without undue restriction from the benevolent dictators in CORI.


Sunday, March 06, 2005

Winds of Change

Looks as though Syria is going to bow to international pressure and pull out of Lebanon altogether. Some people, such as Ed Kilgore of the Democratic Leadership Council, feel this has nothing to do with US policy, even though US policy in the Middle East since 9/11 has been directed preciselt in this direction. Here's a piece http://,,176-1512403,00.html explaining just why the US isn't trumpeting its role in the growth of freedom in the region; to do so would jepordise the phenomenon.

Despite their reticence, it is hard to believe that Syria would be pulling out of Lebanon, with the consequent damage to its morale and strategic position, without the US presence in Iraq. It's also hard to believe that W's commitment to democracy in the region and Egypt's newfound enthusiasm for contested elections are entirely unrelated. We will continue to watch developments with interest.

Hair Colour Watch

Time for the Grecian 2000, Gerry. Two great pieces from Liam Clarke in the Sunday Times.

Eoghan Harris on McCabe Killers in Sindo

Eoghan Harris is well worth a read - a farily comprehensive analysis of the Garda Gerry McCabe's killers release and IRA appeasement.


Update on Pennslyvania Senate Race

In relation to my post earlier on this US race Bob Casey is running for the Democrats unoppposed as Barbara Hafer has pulled out.
This is a chance for the Dems to have a candidate who subscribes to the "values agenda" that put Bush in office - should be interesting.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Melanie Phillips on Human Rights

Melanie Phillips on what she calls the "culture of human wrongs"....human rights no longer come from a belief in the inherent dignity of the human person but rather in making sure that every minority group has their whims catered for, regardless of how nonsensical or trivial they are - once they start using rights-language they can remain inside the bubble of comfrotable political correctness, immune from any form of reality....

" human rights culture means that anyone who can't read or write can break the law, and truth is anything you want it to mean. As a demonstration of my contention that the rights culture was destroying morality, justice and truth this hardly have been clearer"

Irish Bloggers

In relation to toddyunct's earlier post on Irish bloggers Richard Delevan's blogging "live-ish"(!) from the Shinner Ard Fheis.
Apart from Martin McGuiness's copious pain (both expressed and inflicted) the Shinners want to
motion 107: This Ard Fheis asks the Football Association to refuse to play in the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers against Israel.

Well done'd better update us all soon with the result of that fascinating and important motion.
While the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis has a renowned Dhisco (aiming for Culchie accent there) I wonder what sort of entertainment the Shinners are planning..the Wolfe Tones or something???

Friday, March 04, 2005

Middle East Democracy

Great stuff from Jonathan Freedland. Hat Tip: The Corner, Instapudit. Admitting that Dubya's policies have had some impact on the impressive scenes in the Lebanon, he warns against dismissing US achievements simply because they come from an unwelcome source.

"We cannot let ourselves fall into the trap of opposing democracy in the Middle East simply because Bush and Blair are calling for it. Sometimes your enemy's enemy is not your friend."

Fair play.

Gerry's Hair colour... going to start resembling that of Grandpa Simpson if things get much more dire for him and his party. Not only is he faced with a grassroots rebellion in his stronghold of west Belfast over the murder of Robert McCartney, yesterday UTV carried a report of the family of a Mr McGinley who was murdered by Republicans in similar circumstances. The McCartney and McGinley families were expressing solidarity last night at a vigil in Derry. If all the stories of IRA thuggery begin to be told, the Republican stranglehold on these areas will be broken. God speed.


Post Pluralism-Dutch style

Interesting article about the Dutch experience of immigration and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Even the left in Holland are beginning to ask questions about the knee jerk political correctness which seems to paralyse debate on questions of assimilation and multi-culturalism. Europe is not of one mind on this issue, and it is going to be a major debate over the next few years.

Irish blogging

There seems to be some discussion over on gavin's blog about the nature of the Irish blogosphere, and the need for a whole range of things, from a central Irish blog resource to the desirability for Irish bloggers to promote each other. Lovely. What's really needed is for one of us to take down a prominent political figure who isn't put under the spotlight by the mainstream media, such as RTE. Hard to see how that might happen in such a small country. But in order for the "Irish blogosphere" to be taken seriously, to paraphrase former Labour leader Rurai Quinn, we need a head. That's what has catapulted blogs into the public consciousness in the US. There, th news monopoly of liberal media has been dented by various bloggers, such as Powerline and Little Green Footballs, who have done genuine reporting rather than simply blow off steam.

It can be quite satisfying to have an online rant, but to make an impact we need reportage as well as opinion. Do any of our bloggers have the time?

Sinn Féin on banking etc.

This is over a week old, but I didn't realise it was on the net until now. From Newton Emerson's weekly IT column (check out his website it's a hoot) Hat tip; Slugger O'Toole.

From various Sinn Féin policy documents. No comment necessary.

'We need inventive ways of using the Irish banking sector' By Newton Emerson
In lieu of his usual column Newton Emerson this week offers the following excerpts from current Sinn Féin policy documents without further comment [Do I still have to pay him - Ed?]:

It has been clearly shown that the private and public banking companies have at times been active participants in systematic tax fraud.

- from the 2002 Sinn Féin pre-budget submission

When it comes to formulating tax policy there has been one question that successive governments have been afraid to ask. Who is paying tax and more importantly who isn't?

- from the 2003 Sinn Féin pre-budget submission

We need more inventive and positive ways of using the massive financial resources of the Irish banking sector.

- from the 2004 Sinn Féin pre-budget submission

It is essential to reform and re-weigh the taxation system in favour of the low paid and to increase the overall tax take by targeting wealth, speculative property and corporate profits. Measures should include:
End tax avoidance schemes.
Measured increase in Corporation Tax and increased Capital Gains Tax for owners of multiple residential properties.
Create a 50 per cent tax band for incomes in excess of €100,000.
- from the 2005 Sinn Féin pre-budget submission
Creating new businesses and helping existing ones grow does not happen in a vacuum. It comes about in the context of the supply of skilled workers with access to transport.

- from the 2002 Sinn Féin general election manifesto

Communities have often formed their own new co-operatives, local currency networks, social enterprise and development projects.

- from the 2001 Sinn Féin policy review Breaking the Cycle

There is widespread recognition throughout Irish society of the need to invest in the new communications technologies.

- from the 2001 Sinn Féin Westminster election manifesto

Private property has been and remains an instrument of oppression of people the world over.

- from the 2003 Sinn Féin submission to the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution

Sinn Féin proposes a tax on international financial speculation, with revenue to be used to promote development in the poorer regions of the world.

- from the 2002 Sinn Féin pre-budget submission

Sinn Féin believes that community economic regeneration and the partnership concept can act as catalysts for genuine socio-economic change if they are premised upon an ethos of inclusion and the principle of sustainable development at a local level.

- from the 1998 Sinn Féin policy overview Putting People First

Incineration and all attempts to impose incineration on communities against their will to be opposed.

- from the 2004 Sinn Féin local government manifesto

Poverty is a by-product of domination of the needs of profit over the needs of people.

- from the 2004 Sinn Féin discussion paper Eliminating Poverty

Society will pay greater costs in the future for the "free money" the politicians seek today.

- from the 2003 Sinn Féin policy document on private finance initiatives

We have a taxation system riven with systematic inequality, where vested interests are pampered and protected.

- from the 2002 Sinn Féin election document Building a Just Economy

It is to the continuing shame of recent governments that a large section of our high-income individuals have been able to pay tax at rates which are effectively below those of even the (lower) standard rate.

- from the 2002 Sinn Féin general election manifesto

Tax "loopholes" are indicative of the dominant culture of tax avoidance in which wealthy individuals and companies have grown accustomed to paying less than their fair share.

- from the 2002 Sinn Féin general election manifesto

Sinn Féin proposes to address both legal avoidance and illegal tax evasion as a high priority, confident in the knowledge that closing these gaps and effectively policing tax compliance will result in a dramatic increase in receipts taken.

- from the 2002 Sinn Féin general election manifesto

A rural investment bank needs to be set up that offers low-interest loans.

- from the 1998 Sinn Féin policy overview Putting People First

Everyone should have a meaningful role to play in developing the economy, particularly at a local level.

- from the 1997 Sinn Féin submission to the multi-party talks

The EU Council still meets and takes decisions in secret, without transparency or accountability

- from the 2004 Sinn Féin European election manifesto

Our view is that those who run the media should run it in public, and not behind closed doors.

- from the 2002 Sinn Féin general election manifesto

Government shall be accountable to the people and be based on openness, transparency and
effective freedom of information legislation.

- from the 2004 Sinn Féin discussion document Rights for All

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Adams suspends 7 members from Sinn Fein

Adams would want to be very careful...suspending members for mere "allegations" of criminal activity....
Someday he could up end with nobody at all.


Pennsylvania Senate Race

In relation to my earlier post on Andrew Sullivan dodgy analysis of "the abortion issue" as a barrier between Reps and Dems, current Pennsylvanian state treasurer Bob Casey is expected to announce his running for Dems against sitting Rep Rick Santorum.
Santorum was embroiled in a little right vs moderate conservativism battle, which I followed with interest on NRO in doing what politicians do – backing one guy over another – he backed Arlen Specter, who later disagreed with Bush’s position on pro-life Supreme Court justices, over pro-life Pat Toomey. Santorum has been one of the most outspoken pro-life politicians in recent history.
But much more interestingly, Bob Casey’s father, the late Robert Casey Snr, Dem Governor of Pennsylvania was denied the opportunity to address his party’s national convention in 1992 simply because he was pro-life.
Among others the Freedom Institute have reported that Barbara Hafer, a former state treasurer herself, supported by the pro-choice Emily’s List will run for the senate seat as well. The funny thing is that Casey Snr crushed Hafer in the 1990 governor election, she was a pro–choice Republican (now a Dem) – he won 66 of the state’s 67 counties and won by over 1 million votes. James Carville ran his campaign at that time and urged him to drop his pro-life views but Casey refused.
Abortion is probably the hottest of political potatoes right across the world and is particularly important post-W’s re-election – how this issue plays out in this particular campaign with all the partisan war thrown in will be very interesting. For more on pro life Democrats check out this article and Democrats for Life.
Robert Casey Snr spoke on abortion in 1995 at Notre Dame and spoke of the questions that abortion raises for America - “The silent figure at the center of our great cultural debate is the unborn child. For a generation now - over twenty years - we've lived with abortion on demand. It was sold to America, this idea, as a kind of a social cure, a resolution. Instead, it has left us wounded and divided. We were promised it would broaden the circle of freedom. Instead, it has narrowed the circle of humanity. We were told the whole matter was settled and would soon pass from our minds. Twenty years later, it tears at our souls. And so, it is for me the bitterest of ironies that abortion on demand found refuge .. found a home - and it pains me to say this - found a home in the National Democratic Party. My party, the party of the weak, the party of the powerless......
Since when does America, the strongest, the most powerful country in the world, abandon in despair an entire class of people - the most defenseless, innocent, and vulnerable members of the human family? How can we justify with our experience in this country - our tradition, our heritage, our history - how can we justify writing off the unborn child in a country which prides itself on leaving no one out and no one behind?"

These are questions that Ireland's party of the left, the Labour party, should perhaps ask themselves in the light of its pro-choice party platform.


Time - The Case for Compromise on Abortion

Andrew Sullivan makes the point, in relation to the Democrats seemingly reactionary turn around on the abortion issue, that pro-lifers are the ones dragging their heels on making abortion rare.
Apparently "the pro-life side is leery. A key part of their coalition is made up of conservative Catholics who oppose any kind of birth-control devices; others are hostile to any adoption rights for gay couples. Still others may fear that if the number of abortions drops significantly, their argument for making it completely illegal may become less salient.
But none of those arguments makes sense on its own terms. If abortion really is the evil that pro-lifers believe it is, they should stop at nothing to reduce its prevalence--now. Is it really better that someone should have an abortion rather than be on the pill? Is it really preferable for an unborn life to be snuffed out than to allow him to have loving gay parents? Those are the questions that pro-choicers should be posing to pro-lifers. Saving human life is the priority. Why are you so reluctant to do it? Call this position the pro-choice, pro-life compromise. If Democrats want to regain credibility on moral issues, it's a great way to start. And if Republicans want to prevent abortions rather than use the issue as a political tool, they can get on board. We have nothing to lose but trauma and pain and politics and death. And we have something far more precious to gain: life itself."

While I thoroughly agree with the sentiment of this article - if we believe we should provide better solutions than abortion, then there is an onus on society to do something about it. It is fantastic that the Democratic party are beginning to accept that if they want to sell themselves as the inclusive, big tent they will have to make room for pro-lifers.
2 points – I don’t think gay adoption is going to affect the abortion rate – women find it incredibly difficult to put their children up for adoption – this could well be something that could be looked at in reducing the abortion rate – open adoption with “letterbox” contact may make this difficult and heart wrenching decision easier to make.
His statement that this is some new pro-choice idea, with the Dems thwarted by Bible-bashing, gay-hating Republicans at every turn is just disingenuous. The pro-life side have been the ones agitating for a reduction in the abortion rate for years - check out the American Feminists for Life or the Caring Foundation for 2 examples of pro-life groups actually doing something about this – with results. Those on the pro-choice side have always stopped at contraception in the strategy for abortion reduction without looking societal attitudes and reactions that lead to the sense of desperation that many women with unplanned pregnancy face. And that’s just not been enough.
Here in the Ireland groups like the Pro Life Campaign have for years and years lobbied for 3rd way in the abortion debate – a focus on reducing the abortion rate. Prof Patricia Casey and Breda O’Brien organised the “5000 too many” conference in UCD and in 2002 the Crisis Pregnancy Agency was set up. Up to now they have been focusing on contraception provision (despite the fact that their own research says only 4% of 18-25 year olds don’t use contraception) hopefully they will soon turn their government funding to the more urgent aspects of achieving a reduction in abortions….
Pro-life feminists have been the lone voices for many years in calling for reductions in the abortion rate – check out these quotes -
"If women must submit to abortion to preserve their lifestyle or career, their economic social status, they are pandering to a system devised and run by men for male convenience. Of all things which are done to women to fit them into a society dominated by men, abortion is the most violent invasion of their physical and psychic integrity. It is a deeper and more destructive assault than rape.... Accepting short-term solutions like abortion only delays the implementation of real reforms like decent maternity and paternity leaves, job protection, high-quality child care, community responsibility for dependent people of all ages, and recognition of the economic contribution of child-minders." - Daphne de Jong
“Abortion is the destruction of human life and energy that does nothing to eradicate the very real underlying problems of women. The pregnant welfare mother begs for decent housing, a decent job and child-care or respect for her child-nurturing work. Instead, she gets directions to the local abortion clinic and is told to take care of 'her problem.' How convenient. Much less time and trouble than teaching her about authentic reproductive freedom and reproductive responsibility. Much cheaper than attending to her real problems: her poverty, her lack of skills, her illiteracy, her loneliness, her bitterness about her entrapment, her self-contempt, her vulnerability. After the abortion these problems will all be there and another one added besides: her guilt." - Cecilia Voss Koch


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Language of Media Bias

Biased BBC provide links to the BBC website discussing the unborn child and calling him/her a foetus when abortion is concerned but a baby when the mother wants the child like smoking effects on the unborn.

Media bias is not always a matter of time spent on one side of an issue versus the other, but of more subtle things like language.
David McWilliams is one of the few broadcasters in RTE that I'm aware of who demands more transparent language - yesterday on the Big Bite in a debate on pornography, Geraldine Moane, a professional feminist from UCD and a freedom from pornography campaign, called for sexually neutral porn based on sex based on negotiation - McWilliams asked the pertinent question - what is neutral sexual negotiation (it sounds awfully like the UN - perhaps that's what CEDAW is about!)....her stunned look before the fudge showed how empty these politically correct feminist niceties about language can be.
Also on the show, Mary O'Connor, RTE's favourite Irish sexpert, said porn is great for couples. I really wonder can the knowledge that your husband is turned on to you only by the image of an artificial airbrushed, one dimensional sexual plaything be empowering? She also said porn is a great and healthy way to live out your fantasties mentioning sexual domination and the like....have we learnt nothing from the child porn only satisfies for so long - especially porn based on creating sex outside of the context of human and interpersonal relationships. Violent porn won't contain violent sexual'll only keep them at bay until an opportunity to exploit a real woman comes along.


English ref whinge

The English are a remarkable crowd. One must admit they have many achievements. Shakespeare, the Steam Train, 1966 and the cup of tea (even though I hate tea). Losing gracefully, however, doesn't appear to be in their playbook at the moment. Their defeat on Saturday is being blamed on poor refereeing. As though they never had the benefit of generous refereeing in the past. As though no other sides have ever been on the other side of dodgy refereeing decisions.

They should ask the minnow nations of world rugby about refereeing, and see how often they get the benefit of refereeing decisions. Not often. Frankly it's pathetic. Defeat hurts, but they need to suck it up.