Spirit: We are the Earth.

Spirit

A short documentary I made exploring our relationship with the land asking if that relationship has a spiritual dimension to it.


Congratulations Mr Karzai

The recent elections in Afghanistan were declared fraudulent by the US, Europe and the UN a short while ago, yet last week we saw Mr Obama, Mr Browne and the rest of the free world congratulate and accept Mr Karzai as duly elected leader of Afghanistan. How was this allowed to happen? Quite simply because the opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah pulled out of the new election claiming that not enough guarantees had been put in place to ensure the same fraud would not happen again the second time around. Astonishingly, this allowed Mr Karzai to claim victory in the election unopposed despite evidence of fraud on a massive scale. This shining example of the west’s passionate belief in the rules of democracy comes at a time when rising Taliban attacks are resulting in an increased number of allied casualties and must surely stick in the throat of any soldier who actually believes he or she is putting their lives and others at risk to further the cause of freedom and democracy in Afghanistan.

It also exposes a much deeper and much more troubling fact which is that the civilised west is only interested in democracy as long as it delivers the right result for the west and not the country it is supposed to serve. This has been evident for some time now and is a policy that has been used covertly for many years  in places like Latin America where democracy was replaced by murderous dictators and tin pot generals with the tacit encouragement and support of the Reagan administration, and overtly in Palestine with the refusal of the west to accept Hammas as duly elected leaders of the Palestinian people, despite them being democratically elected as such.

This corruption of the democratic process is indicative of how the west, and in particular America, will turn a blind eye to corruption, murder, and even genocide, to further the interests of the civilised west as opposed to furthering the cause of democracy. It also exposes the hypocrisy and double standards that lie at the heart of that great neo-con project of imposing democracy on errant states by the civilised west.

And who will pay the price for this corruption? Well you can bet your bottom dollar it wont be Mr Obama, or Mr Browne, or Mr Berlusconi. Being such courageous people they prefer instead to leave that to service men and women, and the innocent men women and children who through no fault of their own, find themselves paying the ultimate price for western corruption of democracy.

If the worlds self appointed policemen are themselves willing to be part of such corruption then how are we supposed to take anything they do seriously. The answer is that we cant. Nor indeed should we.


Tall Tales & Pony Tails



A short documentary on the Story Telling Festival and Horse Fair held in Mohill, Co Leitrim in Ireland every October Bank Holiday weekend. Produced and Directed by my good self.


The Politics of Hypocrisy

The actions of the New York Yankees in pulling tenor Ronan Tynan from his gig at their stadium over a passing and rather innocuous comment he made to a Jewish doctor, displays a sickening hypocrisy which is becoming increasingly endemic in our society. Apparently the incident happened when the 49-year-old Tynan met a real estate agent who was showing an apartment on his floor to a potential buyer, Gabrielle Gold-von Simson, a Jewish pediatrician from the NYU Medical Center. The real estate agent said to the tenor,

“Don’t worry they are not Red Sox fans,”

To which Tynan replied, “I don’t care about that, as long as they are not Jewish,” Von-Simson told NBC New York.

“Why is that?” the good Doctor asked of the singer.

Tynan replied that two Jewish ladies had been looking at the apartment before and they were “scary,” according to Von-Simson.

The singer now says the remarks were made in jest, a reference to the fact that the two women were very demanding and somewhat unfriendly, an opinion both Tynan and the Real Estate agent had formed on meeting them. The doctor chose not to see it that way.

“I didn’t know him at all so how could I take it as a joke,” said Von-Simson.

Tynan, for his part, apologised and claimed it was just a “misunderstanding”, however this did not prevent the NY Yankees from rushing to judgement and banning him from singing at their game, in an effort one presumes, to satisfy the Jewish community that the Yankees are not anti-Semitic.

This is the sort of hypocrisy and moral cowardice that allows Israel to slaughter thousands of innocent men women and children in Gaza at the beginning of the year in an orgy of butchery and crimes against humanity now being investigated by the UN, yet punishes a man who clearly does not hold, nor ever did hold any anti-Semitic views. It is the sort of hypocrisy that rails against the ruthless cowardice of a suicide bomber slaughtering innocents in a crowded market, yet finds nothing wrong with doing the exact same thing from a F16 bomber plane. It is the type of hypocrisy that sees our own Alan Shatter, Fine Gael’s Shadow ‘Minister for Children’, defend the slaughter, despite his and his parties long-standing condemnatory stance against IRA violence here in our own country.

It is the sort of hypocrisy that allows Dr Gold-von Simson turn a throwaway remark about two Jewish women to whom Tynan clearly took a personal, rather than racist dislike, into an anti-Semitic controversy when clearly there was no anti-Semitism meant or intended.

In short it is a hypocrisy that on  many levels sullies the names of those lost in the holocaust by its blatant misuse of their suffering to further a political and religious cause, something which Mr Von-Simson seems to have no qualms about in his rush to take offence and to accuse an innocent man of anti-Semitism.


The Beat of Mary Harney’s Drumm

The recent controversy over the 70,000 Euro bonus payment to the head of the HSE Mr Brendan Drumm, raises many questions, particularly over the role of Minister for Health Mary Harney. Her admission at the weekend that despite being paid nearly a quarter of a million euro a year as Minister of Health, and a further 750,000 in expenses, she has no responsibility over him or the HSE, is an astonishing, though totally true fact. It is also indicative of a grave fraud that has been perpetrated on the electorate, the taxpayer, and society in general who now find that Mz Harney has become nothing more than a very highly paid figurehead in one of the most important Government departments in this country. It is all the more astonishing to find that this ceding of power was brought about by none other than Mary Harney herself, with the full backing of the Government. Essentially, she passed all power and responsibility for our Health Service to an unelected professor complete with a wage tab of over half a million euro to boot.

One has to ask why, especially in a climate where we are all being told to become more competitive and cut wages, is Mz Harney still being paid her Ministers salary of nearly a quarter of million big ones? Why, if she now has no responsibility for Health, is she still being paid such a large salary and incurring such a huge expense bill also? Would it not be more efficient and more competitive to reduce her Ministers wages back down to the level of TD, given her much reduced responsibility and workload? This would have the effect of offsetting the very high cost to the state of employing Mr Drumm to run (or not run as some people claim) our health service. If Mz Harney has no responsibility for Health, why is she still Minister for Health? Why is she getting paid at all?

Hopefully one of our equally well paid journalists, might make room in their busy schedules to actually ask Mary Harney this same question at some point, or maybe they too have delegated that responsibility to someone else in this new ‘Banama Republic’ we seem to have created.


Taxman

If you drive a car I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat,
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Should five per cent appear too small,
Be thankful I don’t take it all.
‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
Yeah yeah, I’m the Taxman.

And you’re working for no one but me.

I was reminded of the above Beatles song while listening the other day to Joe Duffy on RTE’s ever popular Liveline in which a cash strapped small business owner told the nation how a 6,000 euro tax arrears bill, through penalties and interest, had quickly notched up to 16,000 in a very short space of time. The Revenue Commissioners it seems, cared little about his financial problems, were pursuing him for the full amount,  and had sent the Sheriff  to collect their money on a number of occasions.

One has to really question the Revenue Commissioners approach to this problem, especially in view of the current financial difficulties caused by the recession and credit crunch. Whilst their primary purpose is to collect taxes due to the state, they also have a responsibility to ensure that in doing so they do not damage the economy further.

Rather than penalising and taking such a heavy handed approach with taxpayers in arrears, why does the Revenue Commissioner not take a NAMA type approach to the problem? They could for instance adopt a policy of gathering the arrears over an agreed and sustainable payment period, as long as current taxes are being paid also. After all, the much put upon taxpayer, trying to survive a recession caused by banks, developers, and Government incompetence, sees their taxes going not to health, education, and other services, but to bolstering the finances of politicians expense accounts, bailing out bankers and developers, and rewarding incompetence and greed with large pensions and golden handshakes. If the Revenue Commissioner adopted a more pragmatic and conciliatory approach to these troubled companies, they could help alleviate the financial difficulties of many small business’s, maintain current tax revenues, and hopefully keep the jobs (and the tax revenues they generate) in these business’s long enough to be able to survive the recession which is crippling them through no fault of their own.

If the Revenue Commissioner does not already see that this makes good sense for our economy, and for our society, then should he/she be collecting our taxes at all?  Or should someone with a more sensible approach take over the role? Someone who realises that being a taxman or taxwoman is not just about collecting revenue, it’s also about ensuring our economy remains healthy and is able to maintain the revenues required to support services.

I can’t see where top heavy penalties, liquidations, business closures, and forcing people on to the dole queues will help that.

‘Cos I’m the Taxman,
Yeah yeah, I’m the Taxman.



Lisbon: Post Coital.

The Lisbon Treaty referendum which we just went through was a bit like sex for Catholics.  We wanted to do it, but was it right? In the heat of the moment, with Lisbon, beautiful Lisbon, spread before us and simmering with seductive promise, we gave in, and in one  lustful moment threw caution to the wind resulting in a Yes! Yes! Yessssss! And now, as we lie, exhausted, sated, and puffing ponderously on  the post coital cigarette, the first tinges of guilt and the prospects of regret begin to creep in.

The tinges of guilt will stem from the fact that perhaps the whole thing was kind of forced, that in our lust we just couldn’t take no for an answer, the prospects of regret perhaps coming from the knowledge that now that we have made our bed, we must lie in it and can only hope we don’t get the wet side.

And if we do get the wet side what then? As the pro Lisbon forces in the country danced ‘the seven veils’ in front of our eyes, tantalising us with the promise of better things to come, they risked raising our excitement and expectation to levels they might not be able to live up to. The promise of jobs, economic stability, and a voice at the center of Europe was at the heart of the Yes campaign’s seductive moves as they strutted their stuff in a sensuous political pole dance which ended with them having their way with us. But as we all know, relationships often change and after the memory of the climax of our yes vote has faded, if those promises are not fulfilled, will we look to our bedfellow with the same dreamy, lust filled eyes? Or, in the cold light of day, will we  begin to see imperfections in our partner? If the result of the seduction does not lead to an improvement in our economy, more jobs, and our voice being heard effectively in Europe, will we become more distant and more critical? Will our lust turn to resentment, anger and ultimately blame? Will we begin to see Europe as a mistake, and, as with all mistakes in relationships, will it eventually lead  to increased pressure for a parting of the ways? And what if the same unfulfilled promise results in similar ‘relationship difficulties’ for other countries who ratified Lisbon, many without being even allowed to vote? What then for this new post coital Europe?

Will we be sitting together around the table come breakfast time or will we prefer to quietly slip out of the bed, sneak down the stairs and scuttle off into the cold, lonely, dark of the night? The outcome of this relationship depends on whether the seed of our seduction bears fruit or falls on barren ground. It is an outcome which now lies firmly in the control of our seducer whose power over us has been greatly enhanced with Lisbon.

Let us hope it is a power and an outcome that lives up to it’s promise.

For all our sakes.


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