politics

A reason to vote you may not have considered…

Ugh.

What’s up Mouse?

I’ve been a US political junkie since the early Bush years and, as a junkie, this election has proven to be my Requiem for a Dream. The thing I’m addicted to is making me ill and may quite possibly be killing me and I am just about ready for this rampaging shit-beast of an election to finally drag its filthy carcass over the finish line. But, with a mere five more days until November 8th, I feel it’s my duty to try and convince as many of my American readers as possible to…

Blaaaaaaaaaradhlakhsdjklahkjhasdjhasdjkhadsljha!!!!!!

I know. I know. I know. You’re sick of this. You’re sick of the constant reminders that “this election is different”. But here’s the thing. This election is different. Radically different. Why? Because this election can get you laid.

Go on…

Picture the scene. A few years from now you’re in a bar in Paris, or Rio, or Dublin, or anywhere else where legendarily beautiful people are known to congregate. You get talking to a particularly gorgeous member of your preferred gender and the conversation goes like these:

BEAUTIFUL FOREIGN HUMAN: So tell me about yourself Meester/Mademoiselle American, so that I may decide eef you are worthy of my beautiful time.

YOU: Aw shucks pardner, I’m just a simple American who likes apple pie and baseball and workin’ down on the ol’ farm.

BEAUTIFUL FOREIGN HUMAN: (silently deciding not to have sex with you) I see.

YOU: Oh yeah, and one time in 2016 I helped prevent a fascist takeover of my country.

BEAUTIFUL FOREIGN HUMAN: Zut alors! We must make love immediately!

YOU: Okay. My place or yours?

BEAUTIFUL FOREIGN HUMAN: No time!

BAR PATRONS: Ooh la la!

 

Guys, I don’t think you understand the gift that’s been handed to you. You get to stop Trump. You get to stop an actual fascist. This opportunity will not come again in your lifetime (dear Christ I hope it doesn’t). There is nothing sexier than defeating fascism. Look at the Greatest Generation, do you have any idea how much action those guys got when they got home?

HINT

HINT

(more…)

exit from the eurozone: golden star fallen from a blue wall

We were conquered by these people how exactly?

IDIOTS.

Sorry, I was going to do a proper, well-reasoned, nuanced reaction to the Brexit vote with references to the increasing alienation of the British working class in an age of globalisation and blah blah blah yadda yadda.

NO.

FUCK THAT. I have been drinking, my country’s economy has just been thrown into very real jeopardy and you Little England cunts have now threatened my daughter’s future. No no. You’re getting the lash. (This, by the way, is not directed at the forty odd per cent of Britons who voted to Remain. You get a big hug, I am so, so, sorry).

Apparently the number 2 google search in Britain right now is “What is the EU?”

Alice Facepalm

So let me explain. The EU was an utterly unique political union of 28 sovereign nations working together to promote free trade, democracy and human rights on the European continent that spent most of its fifty year history kissing your goddamn arse. You didn’t want to be part of Schengen? You didn’t have to be part of Schengen. Didn’t want  to adopt the Charter of Fundamental Rights? No problem, rude of us to even ask. You thought a single currency was a stupid idea? Well, you were right about that one in hindsight but the rest of us didn’t force you.

You had it all, you dumb fucks. You had the best possible deal. Now if Greece says they want out? That’s understandable. But you guys? What exactly about the absurdly preferential treatment you got was not to your liking? Were the handjobs not suitably vigorous, WHAT?!

Oh you’re having second thoughts? You didn’t really think your vote would matter? You’re starting to realise that the man leading the Leave campaign is a racist, lying ferret in a man-suit?

LET ME LICK YOUR FUCKING TEARS. OH! OH! THEY TASTE SO GOOD!

(more…)

Kang and kodos

A Tale of Two Republics

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Donald Trump where I called him mean names and mocked the size of his tiny, tiny hands. It was fun. We all laughed. Good times.

He’s now the nominee of the Republican party.

Shit just got real

Also, around a month ago I wrote a post on the results of the most recent Irish general election and how it was going to be damn near impossible to form a government. Let’s tie those two together almost as if that was my plan all along. *tents fingers*

Trump. What? FUCK.

Trump What FUCK indeed, amigo. There’s a whole squirming nest-of-naked-baby-rats mess of factors that have brought us to this point and account for the appeal of Donald Trump.

Like racism?

 Well duh

This is a big part of it, no question. Some of it is just the general home-grown racial tension that’s been apiece with the American cultural landscape since…oh, Columbus. But more specifically to this moment in history is the fact that vast swathes of white America is in full on demographic panic. Current US immigration policies have led to a huge shift in the size of the Hispanic population relative to non-Hispanic whites, something encouraged by both main parties. The Democrats, obviously, because Hispanics form a core part of their coalition, but the Republicans too because, while they make political hay from coded racist appeals to white voters, having more low skilled workers than there are low skilled jobs helps keep wages depressed which is good news for the Koch brothers and other corporate Republican donors. Throw in lingering post 9/11 Islamophobia and a candidate who promises to deal with all of the above in short order, and presto, you have a Trump rally.

So Americans are just racist and we can all go home?

No, and here’s where I think it gets scary. Because I think the rise of Trump means that we’re seeing the final days of American democracy as we know it.

To counterbalance the grimness of that last sentence, here is a picture of a kitten wearing a jaunty little hat.

Kitten

Now, I don’t mean that Trump is going to win (he probably won’t) or that once he won he’d abolish democratic institutions and declare himself dictator*. Any president who tried that (particularly one whose support in his own party is as tenuous as Trump’s) would very quickly find himself impeached, arrested or shot in no particular order.

No, the problem is built into how America actually votes. Sooner or later, Trump was going to happen.

(more…)

American Mouse

The Unshaved Mouse’s Presidential Endorsement: Apocalypse 2016 Edition!

The last time I gave a Presidential endorsement was October 2012, less than a month before election day. This year, with so much at stake, I feel it important to make my feelings known sooner rather than later. I am fully aware of the awesome responsibility that comes with this task. The quadrennial Unshaved Mouse presidential endorsement can and has swayed the course of the election before now,  even if the rank ingrate currently inhabiting the White House didn’t even deem it necessary to make a damn phonecall thanking me for pulling his nuts out of the fire.
YOU'RE WELCOME, BARRY.

YOU’RE WELCOME, BARRY.

It is for this reason that I have previously waited until the very end of the election season, carefully weighing the pros and cons before finally bestowing my imprimatur. This year, however, is different. Let’s not kid ourselves. The fate of the Western world is literally resting on this election. Which is why, after hours of prayerful contemplation, I have decided to make my endorsement for the Presidency of the United States a full ten months before polling day. The candidate I am about to endorse is, I believe, the only rational choice, a candidate with impeccable credentials and a history of public service literally unmatched by any of the alternatives. A face people know, a name people trust. And that candidate is:

(more…)

What if there was an election and nobody won?

Guys, if I can briefly distract your attention from the ongoing flaming six-train pileup that is the US elections I need you to take a look at what’s happening in Ireland right now.

What’s happening in Ireland?

We had an election, and nobody won.

What? How is that even possible? Did nobody vote?

On the contrary, turnout this election was a very healthy 60%, down from 2011 but still high for a country where voting isn’t mandatory.

So what’s the problem?

Okay, a little background. Ireland elects the Dáil (our parliament) with the Proportional Representation: Single Transferable Vote. It’s the system that most accurately reflects the views of voters and using it makes the Dáil one of the most democratic legislatures in the world. Compare that to our upper house, the Seanad, which isn’t even fully elected and is probably the least democratic legislature in the developed world. Ireland: A land of contrasts. Basically in PR:STV you are allowed to not simply vote for your favourite candidate but to rank all the candidates in order of preference. This allows people to vote for smaller parties that better align with their politics without worrying that their vote will help parties they disagree with (think, being able to vote for Nader without worrying that you’re helping Bush to win).

That sounds super complicated.

It’s really not. You put a 1 by your favourite candidate, a 2 by your second and so on. Easy peasy.

No, I didn’t mean the voting, I meant the counting the vote.

That is SUPER complicated, yes. It’s a Lovecraftian, nightmare inducing madness but hey, I just vote so it’s not my problem. Although if you’re interested, this video explains the whole process better than I ever could.

So what happened?

The people cast their ballot and at the end the vote looked like this:

Election

Holy shit that’s a lot of parties. What am I even looking at?

Okay, so the blue bar at the top is Fine Gael, currently in government in coalition with the Labour party (the lighter red bar). Second down is Fianna Fáil who’ve been the party of government for most of Ireland’s history but were banished to the land of ghosts and shadows in the 2011 election because the 2008 crash happened on their watch. They’ve bounced back in a huge way this election because apparently a quarter of the country suffered some kind of head trauma that effects medium term memory. The bright patriotic green guys three rows down are Sinn Féin who are ABSOLUTELY NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE I.R.A. IN ANY WAY AND NEVER HAVE BEEN.

Wink

And below them? That big long black 13%? The independents, just ordinary men and women without even a party who managed to collectively come in fourth over all.

(more…)

"Gesunheit."

#1 W.T. Cosgrave

Name: William Thomas Cosgrave
Party: Cumann na nGaedheal (Later re-named Fine Gael)
Terms served: December ’22-March ‘32
Ask any American, regardless of their level of education or political engagement,  who was the first President of the U.S. and they’ll be able to tell you it was George Washington. But ask an Irishman or woman who was the first Taoiseach and you’ll quite possibly leave them stumped. This is not because we’re all idiots (it’s a coincidence), but more reflective of the piecemeal, stop-start nature of Irish nationhood. In Shakespeare’s Henry V the Irishman MacMorris asks “What isht my nation?” and five hundred years later we still don’t knowsht. It’s not at all easy to say when “Ireland” first came into existence. I mean, there has been an island called “Ireland” and a people called “the Irish” since time immemorial. But when did the modern nation known as “Ireland” first spring into existence? Was it when Padraig Pearse stood outside the GPO and read the Proclamation to a tittering Dublin citizenry in 1916? Was it when Collins signed his own death warrant with the Anglo-Irish treaty? Or how about when DeValera brought in the new constitution of 1937 or when John A. Costello finally said “screw this noise” and declared a republic in 1948? Also complicating things is that if you said that the first Taoiseach was Eamon DeValera, you’d be technically correct.
"The best kind of correct!"

“The best kind of correct!”

Eamon DeValera was indeed the first person to hold a title of that name. However, as I mentioned in the introduction, the current historical consensus is to retroactively  count W.T. Cosgrave as the first Taoiseach.
"Gesundheit."

“Gesundheit.”

He is also, in my uninformed opinion, the greatest. Why? And if he is, why is he, if not forgotten, so often overlooked? Firstly, let me explain who W.T. Cosgrave was. And, as I know most of my readers are American, I’ll use an American historical allegory. I want you to imagine that you’re one of the founding fathers. Not one of the big guys though. You’re one of the no-names who’s always in the background of the portraits.

Founding fathers

To all the other Founding Fathers you’re considered dependable, but hardly exceptional. You don’t have a whole heap of legislative experience outside of a stint in local government. You run a tavern, that’s about it. You are, all things considered, a fairly normal Joe. The kind of guy who, when this is all over, will be lucky to get a footnote in some history book and maybe a school named after you in your home town.
So, the War of Independence kicks off and it doesn’t go as well it did in our reality. Oh, the Americans still win. But Britain manages to hold on to a few of the colonies. Washington, realising that the Revolutionary Army’s supplies of food and ammunition are running low, accepts a compromise with the British Crown that allows them to keep these colonies in exchange for independence for the rest. Jefferson, outraged, leads half of the constitutional conference in a rebellion against Washington and the newly freed colonies are suddenly plunged into Civil War.
So you’re thinking, wow, this got real bad real fast. But we’re still good. We’ve still got George Mo’Fuckin Washington and Benjamin “Lighting is my Bitch” Franklin on our side, how can we lose?
Then you wake up one day to be told that George Washington’s been fuckin’ SHOT, Benjamin Franklin has died in bed and, because half of the government went with that traitorous dog Jefferson, YOU, YOU anonymous tavern keeping, local government, back of the portrait guy, are now the President.
"Aw Crap."

“Aw Crap.”

Have fun, pally.
Now, what if, ten years later, it turned out that you managed to hold everything together? You beat Jefferson, united the freed colonies and managed to establish a stable, functioning democracy?  You’d have earned the right to feel a little smug, no?
W.T. Cosgrave was that guy.
He was just a minor member of the first Dáil who, following DeValera’s rejection of the treaty, the assassination of Michael Collins, and the death from illness of Arthur Griffith, found himself running a nation embroiled in a vicious Civil War. This explains why he looks so terrified in so many of his portraits.
"...help me.."

“…help me..”

Alright, I may have sold him a little short in that analogy. Cosgrave was actually one of the more experienced politicians in De Valera’s revolutionary government, having spent many years serving on Dublin city council. He fought in the Easter Rising and, like DeValera, just narrowly escaped execution. Upon his release from prison, he ran for election as a Sinn Féin candidate and won thanks to possibly the greatest election poster in the history of everything.

This country deserves a better class of criminal.

This country deserves a better class of criminal.

Remember back in the De Valera post I mentioned howSinn Féin were essentially able to create a parallel government to compete with Britain’s institutions? Well most of the actual sweat-work was done by Cosgrave in his role as Sinn Féin’s Minister for Local Government. (Pro-tip for any aspiring revolutionaries out there: Make sure you have a government set up to take over before you win. Don’t put it on the long finger). But still, the guy would not be your first choice to lead a nation through a civil war. In fact, he may have gotten the job purely because, at 42, he was the oldest member of the government (yeah, this was a young revolution).  He was a small, quiet, totally normal bloke.

He was also something that is vanishingly rare in politicians of every stripe and nationality: Competent. That, I think, is the word that sums him up better than any other. WT Cosgrave got shit done.

Under Cosgrave’s leadership the Free State triumphed over the anti-Treaty rebels and the Civil War drew to a close in 1923. Cosgrave then had to get down to the hard business of actually governing. This, incidentally, is where the story of former colonies who win independence usually goes sour. The occupying power is kicked out, the victorious side gets into power and starts enjoying the perks, divvying up choice positions and privileges to their supporters. Resentment builds, the government cracks down, freedoms are curtailed, military dictators rise and before you know it we have to do the whole dance all over again. One of Cosgrave’s most important gifts to the country was an apolitical Civil Service. Instead of a patronage system, new applicants had to pass an entrance examination, meaning that whether or not you got a job depended on what you knew rather than who you knew.
He also had to deal with the problem of an army that had to be significantly downsized now that the war was over. By the mid-twenties, Ireland had an army of 50,000, i.e. one soldier for every sixty people and, making it one of the most militarised nations on earth. Clearly, something had to be done. Unfortunately, the army were all “Point one. We like having jobs. Point 2. We have guns.” It was looking pretty hairy for a time but fortunately Cosgravestuck to his metaphorical guns and the army never used their not so metaphorical ones and the expected army mutiny never materialised.
Internationally, Cosgrave worked to set Ireland apart from Britain, claiming a seat at the League of Nations and becoming the first British Commonwealth nation to have its own representation in Washington DC. Economics was more of a mixed bag, Ireland at the time was an overwhelmingly agricultural nation so Cosgrave and his government focused most of their energies on that sector while neglecting industry. They did, however, set up the Electricity Supply Board, the first national electricity grid in Europe.
In the end though, nothing became WT Cosgrave’s time in power like the leaving of it. By 1932, a general election had been called and Cosgrave’s Cumann na nGaedheal party was facing Eamon De Valera’s new and energised Fianna Fáil.
Cumann na nGaedhael sensibly ran on the platform of “Hey, ten years ago no one thought this country would even still be here!” and on their record of honest and effective government. However, they made the mistake of trying to paint DeValera and Fianna Fáil as a crowd of rabid lefty communists. It was a mistake because, to this day, if you say the word “conservatism” three times in front of a mirror, the ghost of DeValera appears and slashes your welfare benefits. Fianna Fáil won the election, and Cosgrave now faced a very difficult question. Was he really going to hand over control of the nation to the man who had thrust it into a bloody Civil War? Was he going to let all his hard work, every painful sacrifice, every monumental achievement be put in jeopardy? Was he truly going to hand stewardship of the Irish Free State over to the man who had actively worked for its destruction?
And Cosgrave said: “Yes. Because that’s how democracy works.”
"Ya eejit."

“Ya eejit.”

Despite fears of violence (some Fianna Fáil TDs went into their first day of work armed in case shit went down) Cosgrave stepped aside and DeValera assumed the position of President of the Executive Council, which he would later rename “Taoiseach.”
"Gesunheit."

“Gesundheit.”

With this one action, WT Cosgrave set the nation’s future in stone. Whatever Ireland’s problems, whatever her failings, whatever disagreements arose between her children they would be dealt with in accordance with the rule of law and the will of the people. Ireland would no longer be a nation governed by the threat of violence but by the ballot box.
Ireland was now a democracy.
That is William Cosgrave’s legacy. There can scarcely be one finer.
Pros:
  • You want more? Okay, well, it bears remembering that WT Cosgrave was a democrat in a time when democracy in Europe was widely seen as being on its way out. He scrupulously defended the nation’s democratic institutions in a time when fascism and authoritarianism were far more intellectually respectable than they are now.
  • The Irish Free State also had full women’s suffrage six years before Britain, a fact that we are constitutionally required to remind them at every possible opportunity.

Cons:

  • Nobody comes through a Civil War with their hands clean, and Cosgrave was no exception. Despite being personally opposed to the death penalty (being on death row will do that to you), during the height of the conflict he ordered many executions, some almost certainly illegal as they were without trial. All in all, almost eighty republicans were executed before the war ended, far more than even the British had executed during the War of Independence.
  • Fathered Liam Cosgrave.

 

“Isn’t he your son in law?”

#2 Jack Lynch

Name: Jack Lynch
Party: Fianna Fáil
Terms: November ’66-March ’73, July ’77-May ’79
So remember when Michael Jordan quit basketball and became a baseball player as depicted in the documentary Space Jam? Imagine if, instead of being awful, he had gone on to become one of the best players in that sport too. Then imagine he ran for election and became one of the most popular presidents in US history. That’s pretty much Jack Lynch.
He was terrib;e

Also, instead of Bugs Bunny, Jack Lynch was aided by Daithí Lacha, Ireland’s first cartoon character. He was terrible.

(more…)

LEMASS

#3: Seán Lemass

Name: Seán Lemass
Party: Fianna Fáil
Terms in office: June ’59-November ‘66
Some professions just lend themselves to producing politicians. Liam Cosgrave, Charles Haughey, Jack Lynch and John A. Costello practiced law. Enda Kenny and DeValera were teachers.  Brian Cowen and W.T. Cosgrave were barmen.
Long before he was Taoiseach, Seán Lemass was an assassin.
Yup.
How did he go from professional homicide specialist to leader of an entire nation? And why do I consider him such a great Taoiseach? Well, that last one should be obvious.
Because I’m afraid of him.
*CLICK*

*CLICK*
“Gulp.”

(more…)