Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari assumes leadership of PPP-Can the party remain united?

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) has named Benazir Bhutto's son Bilawal, an Oxford University student, as its chairman.
Asif Zardari Benazir’s husband will act as co-chairman. PPP vice president Makhdoom Amin Fahim and the party's Punjab province president Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi will serve on an 'advisory council' for the new leader.

This decision is fraught with difficulties. Bilawal is only 19 years old and lacks maturity and political experience for such an onerous task. To all intents and purposes it appears that Zardari is the new de facto leader until such time as Bilawal is groomed to assume the leadership. Zardari has numerous critics in Pakistan. He is unpopular amongst large sections of the electorate and probably lacks the magnetism necessary to woo sceptical voters. Can he work with the advisory council? It is doubtful if the party can remain united in the long term.

51 years old Sanam (Benazir’s) sister is popular amongst PPP members but is unwilling to take over the leadership. She is probably best equipped to maintain party unity.

Ireland-Willie O'Dea TD suffers from amnesia in his diatribe on virtual/ "Sat Nav" politics

Willie O'Dea in an article in to days Sunday Independent savages blogs and discussion forums. He conveniently forgets -that through the medium of his regular Sunday Independent column- he gets priceless publicity to vent political spleen on the opposition. Kilnascully in print. His columns are biased and skewed. Today -as usual- he lambasts the FG party. I see no right of reply in the Sunday Independent for FG . Whether Willie O'Dea likes it or not Blogs and Bloggers are here to stay. They play a major role in US politics and have brought to international prominence atrocities in Burma and elsewhere. Their influence will continue to grow.

Blogs and discussion forums are essential to ensure the maintenance of a healthy democracy. They provide alternative view points especially if these are excluded by the regular media. Politicians such as Mr O'Dea cannot muzzle them-once they adhere to the laws of libel. Hence the hysteria.

This is the politician who claimed that he was concerned at the loss of the Shannon to Heathrow service. In a Dáil debate on the issue O'Dea remained silent despite his continuous criticism of the Government decision in newspapers and on TV. He voted with the Government in the Dail to consign the service to oblivion. He forgot to include this in his opinion piece. He is obviously suffering from a loss of memory. Me thinks he doth protest too much.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Huckabee is a progressive conservative who looks to the future

Mike Huckabee supports the Fair Tax. A President Huckabee would be a tax cutter. The Fair Tax will instantly make American products 12 to 25% more competitive because the cost of those goods will no longer be inflated by corporate taxes, costs of tax compliance, and Social Security matching payments. The alternative is the status quo, which will ensure Chinese dominance within 20 years.

Huckabee faced a $200 million shortfall in 2002 in Arkansas. He left a surplus of nearly $850 million, which he urged should go back to the people in the form of tax cuts. Students made real achievement gains - not just on state tests but also the more challenging National Assessment of Educational Progress - during his term as governor. He worked hard to secure badly needed improvements to the state's highway and road infrastructure. Mike Huckabee was a Republican governor in a Democratic state, with a constitution that restricted the power he could wield on his own. He did exceptionally well.

Bob Novak criticized Mike Huckabee for a “47 percent increase in state tax burden.” But during Huckabee’s years in office, total state tax burden — all 50 states combined — rose by twice as much: 98 percent, increasing from $743 billion in 1993 to $1.47 trillion in 2005.[Source for this statistic –Dick Morris]

Read article titled Mike Huckabee is a fiscal conservative by Dick Morris at:

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Bhutto family -a family accursed?

Benazir Bhuttos mother, Nusrat-now 78 years old - has lost her husband, elder daughter and two sons in tragic circumstances. Just one daughter, Sanam, survives.

Benazir Bhutto was the eldest child of
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto . She had two brothers and one sister. Her father Zulfikar was prime minister of Pakistan in the early 1970s

Mr Bhutto was imprisoned by Gen Zia ul-Haq in 1977 following a military coup and charged with conspiracy to murder. Bhutto argued that the army had fabricated the evidence. Two years later he was executed.

His son Murtaza Bhutto fled to Afghanistan after his father's fall.
From exile in 1993 he won a seat in the assembly governing Sindh province. He returned home soon afterwards. On 20 September 1996 in Karachi, he was shot and killed along with six supporters during a clash with the police. Benazir Bhutto rushed to the city when told about the encouner. Begum Nusrat, mother of Murtaza, was in London.

Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan at the time of Murtaza Bhutto's killing. The brother and sister were political rivals at the time.
Ms Bhutto's husband, Asif Zardari has spent a total of 11 years in prison on various charges without ever being convicted.

The youngest of the four Bhutto children, Shahnawaz, was also politically active.
He was found dead in his apartment in southern France in 1985. He died in mysterious circumstances.

Benazir, the eldest Bhutto child, had already survived an attempt on her life when she returned to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile in October.
c 130 people died in the twin suicide bombings targeting her homecoming rally in Karachi. Finally the assassin murdered Benazir in Rawalpindi on December 27th and succeeded in destroying the Bhutto political dynasty . It is difficult not to argue that a curse has befallen the family.

Pakistan torn by Violence as Bhutto is Buried

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto -Video showing supporters reaction to the announcement of her death

Reuters Video-Murder of Benazir Bhutto

Assassination of Benazir Bhutto shocks the world

The murder of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in a gun and bomb attack after a rally in the city of Rawalpindi has shocked the world. She was killed by bullet wounds to the neck and chest. The suicide bomber then blew himself up. A suicide bomber killed nearly 150 people in an attack on Bhutto on Oct. 18 as she paraded through the southern city of Karachi after returning home from eight years in self-imposed exile. These attacks were probably the work of religious extremists though Bhutto supporters blame the Government.

It will of course be argued that Benazir failed to take sufficient precautions to ensure her security. Nevertheless she argued with some justification that that it was necessary reach out to the electorate. According to Pakistan Peoples Party supporters the Musharraf government failed to provide jammers. These would stymie suicide bombers. Musharraf now faces even greater international odium. This attack reinforces the impression amongst many in the international community that Pakistan is a pariah state. This is most unfair as the overwhelming majority of the electorate is moderate in outlook. Her charisma drove the Pakistan Peoples party forward. She was a symbol of moderation and modernity. Benazir is a martyr for Pakistani democracy.

Earlier today Thursday at least four people were killed ahead of an election rally that Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was preparing to attend close to Rawalpindi. Nawaz Sharif is leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (N). This attack has received little coverage but is also highly significant.

This is a dangerous time not alone for Pakistan but for world peace.
Serious questions arise:

  1. Can the Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) recover from this shattering blow?
  2. Will the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League (N) unite or collaborate strongly to restore democracy?
  3. Whilst both parties represent different constituencies can they sink their differences in the interests of Pakistani democracy?
  4. Could Pakistan plunge into civil war?
  5. If so will terrorists get their hands on some of Pakistan's nuclear weapons?
  6. Will the armed forces remove Musharraf?
  7. Will elections -due on January 8th- be cancelled?
  8. Was there collusion between some elements in the military and the terrorists?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Renée Fleming-O Holy Night

The power and beauty of Renee Fleming's voice as she sings this song which is an aria from an opera by Adolphe-Charles Adam written in the 1800's.

Oh Holy Night-Words and music by J.S.Dwight & A.C.Adam, 19th Century.

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;

It is the night of our dear Savior's birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining,

Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees,O hear the angel voices!

O night divine,O night when Christ was born!

O night divine, O night,O night divine!

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,

With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.

So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,

Here came the wise men from Orient land.

The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger,

In all our trials born to be our Friend!

He knows our need, To our weakness no stranger;

Behold your King!Before the lowly bend!

Behold your King! your King!before Him bend.

Truly He taught us to love one another;

His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother

And in His name all oppression shall cease.

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,

Let all within us praise His holy name!

Christ is the Lord,Oh praise His name forever,

His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim

His pow'r and glory evermore proclaim.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Beach Boys - Sloop John B (Original Video)

This is the original Black & White music video of Sloop John B with excellent sound quality.

Mike Huckabee-A True Progressive Conservative

Mike Huckabee is conservative on both social and economic policy. He has consistently opposed abortion. He supports the Fair Tax.

So President Huckabee would be a tax cutter. He would abolish the IRS. He has clearly thought out policies on all major issues. He has oomph. Great leaders engender enthusiasm in the electorate. Mike Huckabee empathizes with the voters. He speaks their language. He articulates their concerns.

He is a progressive conservative. The US is facing an increasingly assertive Communist China-a country which will threaten US economic and political leadership of the world. A fresh approach is needed on the economy. The Fair Tax has the potential to unlock greater economic creativity. The old ways no longer assure US dominance.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Ireland- Marian Finucane and the differences between Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism

Listening to Marian Finucane on RTE radio this morning I was amazed to hear her state that there was very little difference between Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism. She was speaking in the context of Tony Blair's conversion to Catholicism.

Whilst both religions have much in common there are some major doctrinal differences:

  • In relation to the Eucharist most Anglicans believe in the doctrine of consubstantiation. Roman Catholics believe in Transubstantiation. Concerning belief in the Eucharist the Roman Catholic position is " that the substance of the bread and the substance of the wine are changed into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ [at the consecration]. It is not simply a symbolic change, but a real and actual change so that the Blessed Eucharist is truly an object of divine worship and that it is Christ Himself we receive in Holy Communion." This contrasts strongly with "what is commonly known as the 'black rubric' of the Book of Common Prayer which reads '... the sacramental bread and wine remain still in their natural substances and therefore may not be adored." [See] However even within Anglicanism there are differences on the Eucharist.
  • The Roman Catholic Church does not accept the validity of Anglican ordinations.
  • Anglicans dispute Papal Authority.
  • Both Churches differ on the Virgin Mary.
  • The Roman Catholic Church has seven sacraments.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mike Huckabee- Roaring Entrance in Ames- Iowa

A crowd of over 350 in Ames, Iowa wishes the Governor a Merry Christmas and chants "Huckabee!" upon his entrance.

EU Restrictions on Brazilian beef-unanswered questions

The EU's Food and Veterinary Office in its missions to Brazil has encountered chronic abuse of production standards as has an IFA delegation. The US, Australia, Japan and South Korea have banned all imports of beef from Brazil yet the EU has only introduced a partial ban. Why is the EU insisting on higher standards of traceability from its farmers than from Brazilian farmers?

The EU Commission appears to have an agenda to restrict production by indigenous farmers and to sell out on agriculture. The Commission is determined to increase access to the Brazilian market for manufacturing industry. As a quid pro quo it will allow access to Community markets for Brazilian beef.

The EU has lambasted the US on its emissions of Greenhouse Gases. Yet the EU Commission is prepared to accept imports of Brazilian Beef from ranches in Amazonia. These ranches have been created through the burning of the rain forests. This practice continues and is increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Why has the EU Commission chosen to ignore damage to the environment caused by ranchers in the Amazon Basin?

Minister for Agriculture Mary Coughlan had refused to support a full ban on beef imports from Brazil. Then 24 hours before the EU announcement of a partial ban she called for a full ban. Why the about-turn?

Michael Creed the FG Spokesman on Agriculture has stated that "Brazil should face a total ban until it is meeting the production standards that Irish and European producers are obliged to meet and EU consumers are entitled to expect." In this he has been totally consistent unlike the Minister.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hillary Clinton's Christianity-The Contradiction

Increasingly Hillary Clinton has begun to use religion as a vehicle to enhance her election prospects. In The Christian Science Monitor Zac Wright, spokesman for Clinton's South Carolina campaign is quoted as saying that "The senator's faith is something that's very personal and dear to her, but it's reflected in all things she does and all aspects of life, so it's a natural part of the campaign." She states that she is a practicing Methodist.

She has begun to use a more sanitised approach to issues such as abortion. She is now attempting to muddy the waters. Speeches on the abortion issue are laced with compassionate expressions and phrases. Silken words cannot cloud the fact that Hillary Clinton supports abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice America gave her a 100% pro choice rating. Abortion is the destruction of the unborn child in the womb. This is the very antithesis of Christianity. The fifth commandment states that thou shalt not kill. Yet Clinton defends the barbaric destruction of the defenceless unborn child in the womb.

She speaks of prayer as battle against Satan, evil, and sin. Unfortunately Hillary's prayer does not extend to the evil of abortion. The pro abortion movement is an agent of Satan."No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matt 6:19-24 RSV)
Hillary has chosen to oppose God's will on abortion. Therein lies the contradiction in her Christianity.

A vote for Clinton is a vote for abortion. She is unworthy of the Presidency. Just remember that 45 million unborn children have been slaughtered since Roe v. Wade. Consider the excruciating pain that many suffer when they are torn apart. Remember Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party support this. Shame on them. They are the enemies of Christianity.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mike Huckabee-What Really Matters

Ireland- Embarassing u-turn by Government on schools water rates

Fine Gael Education Spokesman, Brian Hayes TD, has described as embarrassing the u-turn by Mary Hanafin on school water charges saying that he welcomes her belated recognition that schools shouldn't pay these charges until the crisis is sorted out. He said that the latest climb down is a fine example of Ballymagash politics.

Under the Government proposals primary schools were classed as "businesses" so they could be charged water rates.Yet schools neither manufacture nor sell goods or services for profit, nor register for VAT. The groundswell of opposition nation wide spearheaded by FG Labour and the INTO has finally shaken the Government out of its lethargy. It is probably safe to assume that Government proposals have been sufficiently neutered to ensure that the flat rate -now proposed by Bertie Ahern- will be of minor significance. It is estimated that under the original proposals up to €10 million would have been paid by a national school system which is already grossly underfunded.

This Government has become increasingly accident prone. The opposition has already scored direct hits on the cancer care crisis and now on the schools water rates issue and on the childcare subvention scheme which also saw a Government u-turn today. In times of economic boom the Government could increase public expenditure to smooth the sensibilities of the electorate. Public expenditure has increased in 2007 by 13%. This was sufficient to mollify a sizeable segment of the electorate.

Now however The FF/Green /PD Government is hoist by its own petard. The chickens are coming home to roost. Efforts to curb public expenditure and to impose stealth taxes will inevitably result in more serious political miscalculations.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Huckabee-Rock the Vote

This is a powerful video made by a Huckabee supporter. His charisma and substance shine through.

Green Party TD Paul Gogarty tries to have his cake and eat it on schools water rates issue

So Green Party TD Paul Gogarty is strongly opposed to the imposition of water rates on primary schools. Why then did he vote for the Programme for Government? He now seeks to distance himself from the inane decision by the FF/Green/PD Government to impose water rates on primary schools. The Green Minister John Gormley has remained strangely quiet whilst Mr Gogarty a supporter of the Government is adopting a stance which is close to the position adopted by FG and Labour. The Greens wish to deflect responsibility. Paul Gogarty seeks to act simultaneously as a Government TD and as an opposition TD. Unfortunately Mr Gogarty cannot have it both ways. He is either a supporter of the Government or he is not. He emphasized on RTE radio this morning that he had no intention of voting against the Government. By their votes in the Dail you shall know them.
Mr Gogarty endeavoured to criticise the opposition on Morning Ireland this morning. The opposition has come up with worthwhile proposals to resolve the issue unlike the Greens.

Joint Statement by FG Education Spokesperson Brian Hayes TD, and Labour Education Spokesperson, Ruairí Quinn TD.

Labour Deputy Ruairi Quinn and Fine Gael Deputy Brian Hayes have tabled a joint motion for tomorrow's emergency meeting of the Joint Committee on Education on and Science.
Government Party Chairperson, Paul Gogarty, TD has convened a emergency meeting of the Committee with representatives of the Departments of Education and Environment to explore ways out of this new budgetary fiasco.
The Taoiseach and Minister for Education and Science have attempted to blame the European Union for a new charge imposed by Minister John Gormley's Department, through the Local Authorities, on primary and secondary schools.
At an average cost of €5,000 per school this new stealth tax will gather €21,500,000 for Brian Cowen's tax raising budget.

Fine Gael and Labour are totally opposed to this dishonest and excessive tax charge. Our motion, if passed, will solve the problem in an environmentally responsible way.
The Government must act to solve this cash crisis for schools who have now been inundated with additional water charges.
Opposition deputies Brian Hayes and Ruairi Quinn will press their colleagues on the all-party Oireachtas Committee of Education and Science to move quickly to solve the surprise financial burden of new water rates which have fallen on schools across the country.

Text of Motion:
That this Committee acknowledges the current financial crisis schools are facing with mounting bills for water charges and calls on the Government to;

1. Recognise that the Water pricing provisions of the Water Framework Directive do not fully come into effect until the end of 2009,

2. Immediately instruct local authorities to defer payment for outstanding and pending water charge bills to schools in anticipation of a resolution of this matter,

3. Introduce such a new scheme only when a Water Meter has been installed in all schools,

4. Introduce a fair and equitable solution to the problem whereby each school is given an generous and realistic water allowance based on a per capita basis, and all water usage over that allowance be paid.

5. Introduce a once off capital grant to schools to allow for water conservation measures in schools and to prepare schools, in a fair way, for the introduction of the Water Framework Directive.
- Deputy Brian Hayes and Deputy Ruairi Quinn.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

UN Climate Conference fudge

The United Nations climate conference in Bali, Indonesia ended with a compromise deal to move forward on negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. No specific targets are included in the "roadmap" document. In reality this is a fudge which commits countries to negotiate. Under the deal it is proposed that a new treaty should be negotiated by 2009 to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

The portents for a new treaty are not good. Watery promises from China and India to tackle CO2 emissions mean little. At the conference China and India emphasized their determination to pursue aggressive economic development policies. Coal will continue to play a major role in power generation in India, China and Russia and the US. Yet all the emphasis is on the US as the villain of the peace. China appears to have overtaken the U.S. as the world's largest total emitter of CO2 because of its huge population, strong economic growth and heavy dependence on coal to generate electricity. China creates 25% of the worlds CO2.

Any new treaty- without binding commitments from China , Russia, India and Japan- is practically worthless.
Such a treaty must address the destruction of the Amazonian Rain forests. The EU must alter its hypocritical stance whereby it imports beef produced on ranches carved out of the rain forests. Perhaps Al Gore will now savage Chinese environmental policy. This is unlikely to happen as Gore is more interested in embarrassing the Bush administration.

Governor Huckabee and Bob Vander Plaats review the Iowa Caucus process and seek support

This fascinating Huckabee campaign video provides an insight into the operation of the caucus system. Republicans Independents and Democrats can vote in the Iowa caucus. This will be held on Jan 3 2008. If Independents or Democrats wish to vote they must register as Republicans on the night. Here they can show their support for Mike Huckabee who is the consistent conservative. He has focused on the issues and avoided name calling. As a social and fiscal conservative he will appeal not alone to Republicans but also conservative Democrats and Independents. Opponents have huge financial resources which are being used to distort the Huckabee record in Arkansas. It is time to vote against negative campaigning and support Huckabee who is a positive campaigner and a breath of fresh air.

Ed Rollins, best known for managing Ronald Reagan's sweeping 1984 presidential re-election is Mike Huckabee's new national campaign manager. For Republicans nostalgic about the Reagan era this provides further evidence that Huckabee has inherited the Reagan mantle.
"Ed is an unparalleled strategist," Huckabee said in a statement. "Ed's experience and track record of building winning coalitions within our party ... makes him a good fit for our campaign."

Friday, December 14, 2007

Al Gore and Global Warming Hypocrisy

Negotiations are deadlocked at the UN conference on global warming being held in NUSA DUA, Indonesia. At the conference Al Gore told delegates in a speech that “My own country, the United States, is principally responsible for obstructing progress here in Bali.” “Over the next two years the United States is going to be somewhere it is not now,” Mr. Gore said to loud applause. “You must anticipate that.” Gore is playing domestic US politics. He cannot resist a swipe at Bush and the Republican Party.

Gores approach is blinkered and hypocritical. China’s representative Su Wei said that there was absolutely no reason for China to do anything about its C02 emissions. He argued that China was a poor country with a large population and needed more time to develop economically. In essence the Chinese have told Al Gore to get stuffed. They realize that he is a wimp. The Russians and Indians are no more accommodating. If Gore were consistent he would have launched blistering attacks on China, India and Russia.

The EU is apparently unhappy with the US approach also and has threatened to boycott separate talks proposed by the Bush administration in Hawaii next month.This is a fine example of EU hypocrisy. The EU favours large scale importation of beef from Brazil. Expanding cattle herds in Brazil contribute to global warming. The Methane level increases. There has been large scale burning of Amazonian rain forests to make way for cattle ranches supplying the EU market. This increases CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Germany imports Russian gas. It cynically turns a blind eye to Russian excesses on the environment. At the EU conference it is a case of the kettle calling the pot black.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

EU Commission fudges on Brazilian beef - Creed

Fine Gael Agriculture Spokesperson, Michael Creed TD, has said the EU Commission is bending over backwards to give Brazil every opportunity to stay in the European market with its recent proposals.
Deputy Creed said this is in sharp contrast to how the Commission deals with European beef producers who breach EU production regulations.
"This is not equivalence in terms of production standards that Irish and European producers are obliged to meet and EU consumers are entitled to expect. This fudge does little to instil confidence in the Commission's handling of this matter as it appears there is one law for Brazil and another law for EU producers

Former PD Cllr Mary Mitchell O'Connor joins the Fine Gael Party

The PDs have long fostered the illusion that they were a distinct party. In reality they were a loose coalition of carpetbaggers, independents,anti Haughey FFers and some discontented FGaelers. They adopted the mantle of tax cutters.

Their main strongholds were Galway, Cork City , Waterford City, Limerick and parts of Dublin south of the Liffey. Throughout most of the country PDs were as scarce as icebergs in the Sahara.Gradually PD support melted away in Waterford Cork and even Limerick-home of PD founder Desmond O'Malley. The PDs resorted to drafting in high profile personlities to stand for the party. This damaged the slight prospects the party had of organic growth in some constituencies. The departure of Charlie Haughey removed another obstacle to future reunification with FF.

It is glaringly obvious that the PD party has been in terminal decline since the 2002 General Election. It got a temporary reprieve in 2002 when FG fought a very uncoordinated campaign. In desperation some FG voters drifted to the PDs to stymie FF efforts to secure an overall majority. After the election much nonsense was spouted by some journalists about a reverse take over of FG by the PDs.

To all intents and purposes Ireland was ruled by an FF government from 2002 to 2007. Both Harney and McDowell brought the party closer to FF. Prior to the 2002 General Election the PDs were part of a government, which cynically ratcheted up expenditure to unsustainable levels. This was the party, which supposedly favoured curbs on public expenditure and low taxation. After the 2002 General Election the FF/PD government introduced Stealth Taxes and failed to index tax bands and allowances. They supported the huge rises in public expenditure again in 2006 and 2007.-prior to the 2007 General Election. The FF/PD Government (2002- 2007) presided over huge waste in public expenditure. PPARs and the electronic voting fiasco are monuments to waste. The PD input was nil. FF had killed the PDs with kindness.

In the 2007 General Election the PDs dropped from 8 seats to 2. Party leader Michael McDowell- having replaced Harney as leader- lost his seat. Once more Mary Harney assumed the leadership in a temporary capacity. The party has been unable to find a credible leader. Ex TDs Liz O’Donnell and Tom Parlon saw the writing on the wall and departed.
Mary Harney will not stand in the next General Election and Noel Grealish has already had contact with FF. The PDs are now rudderless. Thoughtful PD councillors will move swiftly to join FF or FG . This would ensure that many of them would hold their seats in the Local Elections of 2009. The decision of Cllr Mary Mitchell O’Connor (Dun Laoghaire) to join FG was inevitable.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Huckabee surges in CBS News/ New York Times Poll

The huge upsurge in support for Mike Huckabee has amazed many political pundits.It is all the more remarkable considering the fact that his campaign is run on a shoe string. According to the CBS News/ New York Times Poll Huckabee and Giuliani are now neck and neck. This is in sharp contrast to the corresponding poll on 10/07 .
  • Giuliani 22% (-7% )
  • Huckabee 21 (+17%)
  • Romney 16(+4%)
  • McCain 7 (-11%)
  • Thompson 7 (-14%)

Huckabee has made huge gains among conservatives, white evangelicals and those who attend church weekly. Both Giuliani’s and Thompson’s standing among those voters has declined. Romney receives support from those who attend religious services weekly (43% of Republican primary voters), and ties Huckabee among this group of voters.


Huckabee's compassionate conservatism has struck a chord with GOP voters. Now some Democrat strategists fear that Huckabee's conservatism on social and fiscal policy could pose major problems for their candidate. He has the capacity to win African -American votes and also votes from Independents and conservative Democrats. Huckabee has clear cut policies on major issues. What you see is what you get. He supports the Fair Tax so he is a tax cutter. He is strong on the Federal Deficit. He is implacably opposed to abortion. He stresses the importance of God. Increasingly support from Fred Thompson appears to have gravitated towards Mike Huckabee.

Mitt Romney has targeted Huckabee. It is estimated that Romney is spending $85,000-plus a day on TV ads. Huckabee lacks the financial muscle to compete with this war chest. However he could win sympathy votes from an electorate which has become increasingly cynical about massive spending in electoral campaigns. Hopefully the Huckabee campaign can amass sufficient funds to counter negative advertising from opponents.

Renee Fleming sings "Ave Maria" by Schubert

This Concert at Mainz Cathedral was Conducted by Trevor Pinnock. The Choir Was The Mainzer Cathedral Choir ( Boyschoir) and the Orchestra was The Bremmer Kammerphiamonic Orchestra. Renee Fleming is an American soprano who sings mainly opera and jazz. She is one of the world's leading sopranos.Renée is famous for her high, floating pianissimos (the money notes).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Northern Lights

This video combines the song "The Northern Lights", by the band Renaissance, with images from the cartoon movie "Balto". Northern Lights, reached #10 in England during the summer of 1978. The single was taken from the album A Song for All Seasons.

Rugby Union-Will Deans coach Wallabies?

NZRU has reappointed Graham Henry as All Blacks coach for another two years. This is a rather surprising turn of events considering the bloodletting that ensued in the wake of the All Blacks failure at the World Cup.

Robbie Deans coach of the Crusaders was one of the favourites for the New Zealand position. He also won the New Zealand Rugby Coach of the year award in 2002. John Mitchell appointed Robbie Deans as his assistant when Mitchell became All Blacks coach in late 2001. Deans held the position until Mitchell was replaced after the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Under Mitchell and Deans the All Blacks won the 2002 and 2003 Tri-Nations titles, as well as the Bledisloe Cup in 2003. He has expressed a strong interest in coaching Australia.

The Australian Rugby Union’s manager Pat Howard has contacted him.The selection panel will interview Deans early this week. It is expected that the new coach will be chosen by next Friday. Other candidates include radio broadcaster Alan Jones, NSW coach Ewen McKenzie, Brumbies boss Laurie Fisher, Auckland's David Nucifora and Wallabies assistant coach John Muggleton .

If Deans is chosen he will become the first non-Australian to coach the Wallabies and will continue to coach the Crusaders in next year's Super 14 competition before turning his attention to the Wallabies.

Deans was a fine full back and won five All Black caps. He is regarded as a superb coach. There has been some criticism within Australia of the decision to interview him. At this juncture he appears to be the favourite to secure the position.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

EU-Africa summit-Merkel launches blistering attack on Mugabe

Today German Chancellor Angela Merkel launched a blistering attack on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at an EU-Africa summit being held in Lisbon. She told representatives from 80 EU and African states that "the current situation in Zimbabwe damages the image of the new Africa". She said that "the situation in Zimbabwe concerns us all, in Europe as in Africa. We don't have the right to look away when human rights are trampled on."
Mugabe sat impassively through her keynote speech. He is banned from the EU but has received a special visa from the Portuguese government to attend the summit. This followed pressure from African nations. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown boycotted the summit because of Mugabe's presence.

The decision to give Mugabe a special visa -to attend - was the correct one. He can gauge the strength of European public opinion which is nauseated by the barbarism of his regime. He has crippled the Zimbabwean economy. The eviction of the mostly white farmers has been largely responsible for Zimbabwe's worst famine in living memory. Zimbabwe was once the "bread basket" of Southern Africa. It is estimated that about two thirds of the 11.6 million people face severe food shortages. Hyper inflation has rendered Zimbabwean dollar practically worthless. Inflation runs at c15,000%. Many political opponents have been tortured and imprisoned.

Undoubtedly Mugabe will return to Zimbabwe and attempt to turn criticism at the summit to his advantage. He will argue that former colonial powers are anti African and hanker after their colonial past. He is impervious to criticism. In addition the opposition Movement for Democratic Change is riven by dissensions. All in all he is unlikely to be too worried by European criticism.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sweden's ABBA museum to open in 2009

According to the heraldsun
FANS of Swedish group ABBA can dance down memory lane when their museum opens in Stockholm, featuring costumes, instruments and rare memorabilia."We're going to open the ABBA museum from June 3 to 7 (2009). It will be an inaugural week," said Ulf Westman, who masterminded the world's first ABBA museum along with his wife, Ewa Wigenheim-Westman. "It will be an international museum with a lot of technological and multimedia aspects," he said, adding visitors will be invited to take part in various activities related to the group's heyday in the 1970s.

ABBA stars Bjoern Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Faeltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad became international sensations with hits such as Money, Money, Money, Waterloo, Fernando and Dancing Queen. All four members have given their backing to the project and will provide clothes, instruments and music, though they are not formally involved in the creation of the museum. Visitors will be able to take the microphone and record their own version of Take A Chance on Me or Voulez Vous in a model of the Polar Studio in Stockholm where the quartet recorded their hits. .........

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ireland -FF turns €4bn surplus into €2bn deficit in 3 years

FF has turned €4bn surplus into €2bn deficit in 3 years. To plug the gap Brian Cowen has resorted to borrowing and stealth taxes in budget 2007.

RTE has painted a very positive picture in relation to the budget. Its analysis is myopic. This budget is laced with booby traps.

It has marked similarities with the post election budget of 2002. Stealth taxes are back with a vengeance. The increase in Motor Tax represents a direct stealth tax of €82 million hitting every household and every family. This is painted as a green tax. It is nothing of the sort. It is a sly raid on the pockets of motorists who are regarded as soft touches. There is an increase in stamp duty on cheques. Tonight we had the announcement of a whole range of increases in health charges. Contrary to what the Minister states there is no full indexation of tax credits and bands in line with wage inflation. Consequently more taxpayers will pay tax at the higher rate.

As petrol prices have risen this year the Government has benefited strongly from the increased inflow of VAT and Excise Duties. It is well to remember that motorists have not benefited from EU membership.

Just look at the following examples. There is a price difference of c€3,000 between a Fiat Grande Punto in Ireland where the pre-tax price is €10,707 and Hungary (€7,756) and over €3,400 difference on the price of a Renault Megane (€10,683 and €14,103). An Audi A8 sold in Ireland last year for €65,000 pre-tax and in Britain for €56,450. Those who purchase a cheaper car outside Ireland will find the price difference disappears when they import it into the country, with punitive rates of Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) of up to 30%.
This is contribution enough to the environment by the Irish motorist. Green Ministers and Brian Cowen please take note.

Alterations in today’s budget further discriminate against wives who to choose to remain at home to rear their children. This inequity is so great that it threatens the family unit.

Business rates, water rates, waste charges will increase as Local Authorities are starved of an adequate government subvention.
Experts on RTE when analyzing the alleged benefits do not factor in stealth taxes and increased charges.

Health Expenditure is projected to increase by 8%. This is down from c13% for 2007. The health service is facing huge unrest in 2008.

Of course there are some good measures in the budget. The Government has finally u-turned on the Stamp Duty. Richard Bruton has been vindicated on this issue. This change of heart by the FF/PD/Green coalition has been six months too late to avert a housing crash. Social welfare measures are in many cases reasonable.

The budget fails to tackle the child care issue. Most of the promises in the Programme for Government have been binned. Stealth Taxes and increased charges will bite in 2008. The budget is skilfully constructed to conceal the booby traps.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mike Huckabee is the true inheritor of the Ronald Reagan mantle

Mike Huckabee balanced the Arkansas state budget every year he was governor. It is a requirement under Arkansas state law that the budget is balanced. He faced a $200 million deficit in 2002, but ended his term with a $844.5 million surplus. That's a billion dollar plus turnaround. It was his desire that this money was returned to the people as a rebate or as a tax cut.

Huckabee is the true inheritor of the Ronald Reagan mantle. He supports the Fair Tax. In the words of Ken Hoagland Americans for fair Taxation spokesman “anyone who advocates for the fair tax is definitely a tax cutter and a tax reformer.'' Mike Huckabee is a true fiscal and social conservative.

Here are his views on the federal deficit:
I believe that our massive deficit is not due to Americans' being under-taxed, but due to the federal government's over-spending. Achieving and maintaining a balanced federal budget is an important and worthy goal necessary to our long-term economic well-being. To achieve a balanced federal budget, I believe the President should have the line-item veto.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Early Show - Huckabee interview 12/3/07

The results of the poll in yesterday's Des Moines Register show Mike Huckabee leading Mitt Romney by 29 % to 24% and provide further evidence that momentum is building behind his campaign. Huckabee’s strong anti abortion stance has attracted powerful Evangelical and Catholic backing. His support for the Fair Tax has won him many new admirers. He is a most accomplished media performer (as this video clearly portrays). He has a clearly defined position on all major policy issues. Mr Giuliani scores just 13% in the Register poll. Mitt Romney holds a small lead over Mike Huckabee in other polls in Iowa. However at this juncture the trend is towards Huckabee.

Mr Romney - has spent $US7million ($7.9m) in the state on campaigning, against just $US324,000 by Mr Huckabee. The Huckabee campaign needs financial backing urgently if it is to succeed nationally.

newfoundland scenery

This video has a beautiful combination of scenery and song. The song refers to happier times when the fishing industry was strong. Newfoundland suffers from the curse of emigration especially since the collapse of the cod fishing industry. The music has Irish influences. Newfie music has undergone a major renaissance. Traditional Irish groups have toured Newfoundland.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Eoghan Harris-an FF/PD apologist

Eoghan Harris is no mean exponent of the pen. Unfortunately his political analysis leaves much to be desired. In his Sunday Independent column he is prepared to defend the indefensible if necessary as he strives to promote the Governments record on Health. He is rapidly developing into a political apologist for the FF/PD Government. Come back Pravda. All is forgiven.

In the Irish context he states that Mary Hanafin, Beverly Flynn and Mary Harney are courageous politicians. Interestingly all three are from the FF gene pool. He mentions Hillary Clinton. Obviously Harris knows very little about "Hillarycare." In the words of Mitt Romney: "She hasn't run a corner store. She hasn't run a state. She hasn't run a city. She has never run anything."

He then denigrates Dr James Reilly (FG). He conveniently omits to state that FG health spokesman, Dr James Reilly put down the question -at the Oireachtas Health Committee meeting- which elicited the response that 97 women who had breast ultrasounds at Portlaoise Hospital were to be recalled for surgical review. Harris should listen to James Reilly. He might actually learn something about the reality of life for women suffering from breast cancer.

He raises the issue of bi-partisanship on the health issue. The Government has a 13 seat majority(including Ned O Keeffe). Is this not sufficient to reform the Health Service? No Harris is concerned to protect the Government from flak ensuing from unpopular decisions in the Health Service. The Harris motto is: Tie in the opposition parties and insulate the Government.

There is now a strong opposition. It is the duty of the opposition to ask the hard questions. This is a sine qua non if our democracy is to flourish.

The last FF /PD Government -with Mary Harney as Minister for Health-established the HSE. It is a bureaucratic monster that is gobbling up valuable financial resources but cutting back on front line services. In the words of Harris : " Harney is fighting the good fight". Unfortunately this is of little benefit to seriously ill patients. Eoghan Harris needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

Newfoundland Scenic Tour -ljp

This video shows some of the stunning scenery of Newfoundland. Newfoundland is the most Irish part of the world outside of Ireland. Approximately 50% of the population is of Irish extraction-mainly from Co. Waterford, Wexford, South Tipperary, South Kilkenny, Carlow and parts of East Cork.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ireland-Exchequer Deficit Blues

Ireland will have a deficit of €1.62 billion this year, compared with an Oct. 2 forecast of €1 billion, according to the Department of Finance. This contrasts with a budget surplus of €4 billion just a year ago.

The Government must bear much of the responsibility for the deterioration in the public finances. In 2007 there has been a 13% growth in the rate of public expenditure as FF and the PDs wooed the electorate. This paid political dividends as the FF/PD government duly returned to power with the support of the Greens and Independents. Already many of the FF election promises have been binned. Prior to the 2002 General Election the FF/PD government allowed public expenditure to escalate out of control. In the immediate aftermath of the 2002 General Election FF Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy set about reigning in public expenditure and introduced a raft of stealth taxes. He failed to index income tax allowances thereby pushing large numbers of PAYE tax payers onto the higher tax rate. Prior to the 2002 Election FF and PD Ministers denied that there would be public expenditure cuts.

A similar scenario to 2002 has now unfolded in 2007. The Government will once more cut public expenditure and introduce stealth taxes. Over the next 2/3 years it will build up a a financial war chest. As the anticipated 2012 General Election approaches public expenditure will once more mushroom. Brian Cowen and Dermot Ahern -during the 2007 election campaign -strongly berated Richard Bruton(FG) Finance Spokesman when Bruton drew attention to both waste and rocketing government expenditure. He can now claim retrospective vindication. Many in the media have spoken of Cowen in messianic terms.

In less than two years the ECB has raised Euro interest rates by 2%. This has knocked some of the fizz out of the housing market. Stamp Duty receipts have slumped and lay offs in the building industry are increasing rapidly. This crisis has been exacerbated by the failure of the Government to reform stamp duty. House prices are falling and negative equity looms on the horizon. Mortgage debt in Ireland is now €136 billion. There is also an astronomical level of credit card debt.

New house starts may fall to c 55,000 in 2008. The huge slump in property tax receipts looks set to continue in 2008. In addition a tightening up of bank/building society lending policies will further restrict the amount of credit available to house buyers. For too long the government has been over reliant on taxes from the property market to boost public expenditure. One eighth of the workforce is employed in construction. 20% of private sector workforce depends on construction.

Rising energy costs will reduce economic growth.This has implications for unemployment which is already rising. Rising unemployment will further depress tax receipts and damage consumer confidence.

For FG and Labour this was the election to lose.