The Digest – Dec 13 2009

The weekly round-up. Last week’s here.


How I missed this one last week, I don’t know; Fergal’s excellent piece on the social dynamics, misconceptions and misinterpretations of fascism, and around the word ‘fascist’.

Watch out, The Guardian; Elaine Byrne is looking for help investigating the accounts of a 1940s Irish politician.

Nyder O’Leary with the most thought-provoking piece I’ve read on the Budget, and wider economic thinking, anywhere – blogs or newspapers.

It was suggested several times that a third tax rate on high earners should be applied. This was rejected on the basis that it wouldn’t raise any real revenue, and that many of these people would probably up and leave the country (like, say, the owner of Newstalk). This is, quite probably, true. The tax wouldn’t be any great economic benefit; and yet it would set an entirely different tone to who we value most in our culture. It would have told the wealthy that a significant responsibility for the country’s well-being lay with them. It would have said that we don’t judge the worth of an individual in monetary terms. It would have sent a message that, if a rich individual felt they had no duty to society and wanted to retreat to a tax haven, then they could fuck right off and we’d be happy to pay for their ticket; that this super-class are due no more respect than a care assistant or street-sweeper.

John McGuirk in stirring-up-lefties shocker; “The Sickest part of Green Culture”

Ehem. Marc Colemanwrites in The Indo on Brian Lenihan;

Heroism is not an overstatement to describe the man’s achievement. But the Greeks do tragedy as well as mythology.

Like many other high achievers, Lenihan is a Belvedere boy. One of the few private schools on Dublin’s northside, Belvedere boys are known for their lack of snobbery, their decency and their charity to others. But they have a flaw: they have a sense that they alone are always right. And often, this is true.

“Hero; A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life: soldiers and nurses who were heroes in an unpopular war.”

Might have to ask The Frontline Alliance about how they feel about ‘Fianna Fail ministers for finance’ being added to the definition.

Anyway, onto…


In Bulgaria parliamentarians may be immune from prosecution but they are prepared to give up that immunity voluntarily when faced with arrest. The Sofia Echo reports the Prosecutor-General is to press charges against two opposition MPs.

Hardly a week goes by without a prominent Rwandan official going to jail, they’re getting tough on corruption there, according to The Telegraph.

“A corrupt country cannot break free from poverty as the money trickles out. And when corruption becomes a way of life, it discourages hard work – that’s why it’s dangerous,” said the country’s ombudsman.

The New York Times‘ Week in Review outlines the ethics reforms being considered in various US states.

Ethics advocates acknowledge that the reforms they have won recently in statehouses are little more than baby steps — small concessions from a political class that is worried, but perhaps not yet worried enough to inflict on itself the kind of wholesale changes produced in earlier eras of reform. Before citizens can get better leadership, some say, they may need to elect a whole new class of leaders.

A county manager in Miami faces jail for taking a golf club membership in exchange for contracts (amongst other things). What would we call that here? Good business networking?


Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic on the responsibility that comes with reporting or writing about another person.

Do not confuse an argument for sensitivity with an argument for a soft touch. It’s the opposite, in fact. So if you think someone–like say Desiree Rogers–is fucking up, you should do the hard work of figuring out how and why, and then credibly communicating that to readers… When you write about someone, in a specific way, their life is in your hands. I believe you should treat them with the respect they deserve, whether that means praising their idiosyncrasies, or burying them beneath the pile of bullshit they’re attempting to foist on the public

Lastly, this is what a well-researched (talented) television journalist can do to a bullshitter interviewee. Rachel Maddow just destroys this gobshite claiming he can (and should) turn homosexuals straight – a lesson in polite interrogation.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Glenn Greenwald, my favourite media analyst, has some good commentary on the interview here. Some Irish political correspondents could do with taking a moment for a quick read…

The point in which I’m interested here is how rare it is for interviews like this to be conducted by establishment journalists with people who have real power. Could one even imagine, for instance, Tim Russert’s having questioned Dick Cheney this way prior to the Iraq war, or any of the standard array of pompous, blowhard Senators being treated to an interview like this by any standard Sunday morning TV host?

Bulgarian prosecutors press charges against two opposition MPs