‘Tis the season…

U.S. President Barack Obama is seen in the Oval Office through a window as he addresses the nation about the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq at the White House in Washington, August 31, 2010. Obama declared the U.S. combat mission in Iraq ended on Tuesday, but said the U.S. commitment to Iraq has not ended as he urged its leaders to quickly form an inclusive government.  REUTERS/Jim Young  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CONFLICT MILITARY)392939 02: Martin McGuinness, chief negotiator for Sinn Fein, speaks to reporters August 7 2001 in Belfast, Northern Ireland as the region''s political leaders discuss the Irish Republican Army''s promise to disarm. (Photo by Hugh Thomas/BWP Media/Getty Images)
So anyway, I’m in a Barcelona hotel lobby on a brief stop-over before returning to the corner of Ireland that time but not Britain has forgotten. And  since I haven’t read a newspaper in nearly two weeks I pick up a copy of the global edition of the New York Times and I read this article by Paul Krugman.  You’ve probably been reading Krugman since you were an infant puking over  your mother’s knee but I discovered him only a couple of years ago. He does have a habit of cutting to the heart of the matter.
This article of his was called ‘It’s witch-hunt season’ and it was all about how someone like Rush Limbaugh, the right-wing radio lout, is considered a part of mainstream US Republicanism. Krugman says Americans shouldn’t be surprised that Limbaugh is rabidly anti-Obama: the Clinton years should have taught them how such people think.  Response to the Clinton presidency showed that “a significant number of Americans just don’t consider government by liberals – even very moderate liberals – legitimate. Mr Obama’s election would have enraged those people even if he he were white. Of course, the fact that he isn’t, and has an alien-sounding name, adds to the rage”.
So I sat in that Barcelona hotel lobby and I asked myself “Now why does that sound familiar?”  and in a trice, my thoughts had google-earthed across Europe to dear old Ulster. There, a significant number of unionists (I’ll come back to that) don’t consider government by Sinn Fein – even very moderate Sinn Fein people – legitimate. Maybe you’re old enough to remember the gasp of horror that went up when Sinn Fein nominated Martin McGuinness to be Minister for Education?  There are those who’d claim that had to do with Mr McGuinness’s paramilitary past. Except the vitriol directed at his successor, Caitriona Ruane, is if anything more intense.  And have you checked recently the rage-levels recorded at the idea of Mr McGuinness becoming First Minister?
Krugman talks about ‘a significant number of Americans’  being irrevocably opposed to liberals  and seethingly opposed to a black liberal like Barack Obama. I hate to say it, but it’s at this point that  the parallel between the situation in the US and the situation in the north of Ireland breaks down. Because it’s not a significant number of unionists who detest Caitriona Ruane and it’s not a significant number of unionists who see a red mist descend at the very idea of Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister. It’s all of them.  Like the marching season here, the witch-hunt season is a year-round affair. 

6 Responses to ‘Tis the season…

  1. Jim Lynch September 1, 2010 at 4:59 pm #

    I know there's a great fear that scientists will someday clone humans. Horrible as the thought may be, maybe they already have.
    Over here on this side of the Atlantic when I read about the 'jokers' at Fox News ( I never watch Fox News on TV ) spew their garbage I wonder if they have been cloned from composites of DUP bigots, in what is erroneously called Ulster.
    Rush Limbaugh is not the only moron; we also have Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck and Greta Van Susteren a.k.a Great Van Braun. ( That's a joke by the way. )
    Unionists for years have had, what we call a captive audience. Now that we have better communications such as the internet, they can't hide their bigotry any longer.
    Keep up the good work, Jude.

  2. hoboroad September 1, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    The intensity of Palin’s temper was first described to me in such extreme terms that I couldn’t help but wonder if it might be exaggerated, until I heard corroborating tales of outbursts dating back to her days as mayor of Wasilla and before. One friend of the Palins’ remembers an argument between Sarah and Todd: “They took all the canned goods out of the pantry, then proceeded to throw them at each other. By the time they got done, the stainless-steel fridge looked like it had got shot up with a shotgun. Todd said, ‘I don’t know why I even waste my time trying to get nice things for you if you’re just going to ruin them.’ ” This friend adds, “As soon as she enters her property and the door closes, even the insects in that house cringe. She has a horrible temper, but she has gotten away with it because she is a pretty woman.” (The friend elaborated on this last point: “Once, while Sarah was preparing for a city-council meeting, she said, ‘I’m gonna put on one of my push-up bras so I can get what I want tonight.’ That’s how she rolls.”) When Palin was mayor, she made life for one low-level municipal employee so miserable that the woman quit her job, sought psychiatric counseling, and then left the state altogether to escape Palin’s sphere of influence—this according to one person with firsthand knowledge of the situation. The woman did not want to be found. When I finally tracked her down, her husband, who answered the phone, at first pretended that I had dialed the wrong number and that the word “Wasilla” had no meaning to him. Palin’s former personal assistants all refused to comment on the record for this story, some citing a fear of reprisal. Others who have worked with Palin recall that, when she feels threatened, she does not hesitate to wield some version of a signature threat: “I have the power to ruin you.”

    Taken from Vanity Fair

  3. hoboroad September 1, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    Sometimes the children rebelled. A campaign aide remembers that one of the Palin children found her mother’s public displays of piety especially grating. Though Palin prayed and read the Bible every night, aides never saw the family join her for devotionals. “You’re just putting on a show. You’re so fake,” one of the children said when Palin made a point of praying in front of other people. “This is not who you are. Why are you pretending to be something you’re not?”

    Taken from Vanity Fair

  4. hoboroad September 2, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    “A dozen former reporters said in interviews that hacking was pervasive at News of the World. 'Everyone knew,' one longtime reporter said. 'The office cat knew.'
    One former editor said Coulson talked freely with colleagues about the dark arts, including hacking. 'I’ve been to dozens if not hundreds of meetings with Andy' when the subject came up, said the former editor, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The editor added that when Coulson would ask where a story came from, editors would reply, 'We’ve pulled the phone records' or 'I’ve listened to the phone messages.'

    Sean Hoare, a former reporter and onetime close friend of Coulson’s, also recalled discussing hacking. The two men first worked together at The Sun, where, Hoare said, he played tape recordings of hacked messages for Coulson. At News of the World, Hoare said he continued to inform Coulson of his pursuits. Coulson 'actively encouraged me to do it,' Hoare said.”

  5. Ryan Hayes September 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Hmm perhaps Jim Lynch is right…bigotry really is only a unionist thing. Or…
    Perhaps he's wrong. Perhaps there are two types of people in this part of the world (which I'll refrain from calling Northern Ireland or the north of Ireland and just call 'here'). The problems 'here', it would seem, continue not because some are unionist and some are nationalist (sorry, that's become something of an inadequate word in these circles – republican, I should have said), but because the two predominant groups are (1) bigots and (2) moderates. Thing is though; moderates, by their moderate nature, tend not to get heated up to the point of eruption about it all, and that bigots, in turn, tend to find things to be at odds about. To argue about. To fight about. Dare I say it…

    Anyway. I can't imagine any reader who's willing to accept Barack Obama and Martin McGuinness as any sort of legitimate comparison will give a fiddler's about what I have to say. I just don't see it. I think it's absurd on any level. It's like comparing Craig and Carson to Washington and Adams. Let's not.

    And as for Caitriona; Caitriona Ruane could don an orangeman's sash, wear a Professor's gown, or turn to the Oracle of Delphi and none of these could make her any less incompetent in her handling of education. I'm not talking about her policy or her grand plan (for they are a matter for different and reasonable debate); I'm talking about her sheer incompetence in governing the education sector and making sure it's 'fit for purpose' (to adopt a popular phrase from within education).