“I will use my hulking great backside to shatter glass ceiling…”

A big tall glass of freshly squeezed opinion.

Student and Over-Seventies Protest

Last week’s protests have been welcomed from many quarters as a reawakening of the people’s spirit. The Irish Times reports, “There is a new engagement with the political system, a sense that politics and what happens in Dáil Éireann does matter and have an effect on people’s real lives.” In the Examiner, Paul Egan commends the government on its budget, for the sole reason that it infuriated people. By doing this, he believes they have given power back to the people.

“Even the normally complacent students and party faithful are protesting and the pensioners are harassing TDs. We are back to public meetings, protest marches and unavailable government spokespeople. It is marvellous that we have our pride back; we can only go forward as a nation. Forget the recession – they have achieved more in this for the people than bailing out the banks.”

According to Quentin Fottrell, “Charlie Haughey must be smiling down from above that his free travel pass came back to bite his political successors so spectacularly. Iarnród Éireann said about 1,000 pensioners travelled to Dublin yesterday on early morning buses and trains to protest.”

Medical cards

The government must be ruing the day they ever mentioned these contentious cards.

In the Irish Examiner, Kathy Sinnott wonders if it was the progress of the patients’ rights/cross-border directive that terrified the government. Under this directive, Irish citizens will have the right to seek treatment in another EU country, at the expense of the Irish government, if none was forthcoming here in Ireland. As Ms. Sinnott says, with Irish hospitals in the state they are in, it is not hard to predict a mass exodus. In this context the government may well consider automatic medical cards for the over 70s a huge liability.

Playing the Race Card

The Irish Times’ Charles Krauthammer is fuming as “scrupulous McCain is vilified over racism, while the Democrats happily play race card”. Obama’s supporters have been tireless in their search for racial undertones in McCain’s campaign, Krauthammer argues. A McCain campaign video, which compared Obama’s celebrity-like status to Paris Hilton’s, was decried by the New York Times as “an appalling attempt to exploit white hostility at the idea of black men becoming sexually involved with white women”.

Krauthammer is deeply disappointed by Obama’s warning at Missouri that “George Bush and John McCain were going to try to frighten you by saying that Obama has “a funny name” and “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.””

This is a pre-emptive charge against an innocent McCain, who had never said anything like that. “An extraordinary rhetorical feat, and a dishonourable one.”

Meanwhile in the same paper, Bryan Mukandi discusses the mistaken belief held in some Republican areas that Obama is a Muslim. When a woman at a Republican rally called Obama an “Arab”, McCain retorted that he was not, but that he was a decent family man.

“Why is it that the description “decent family man” can be thrown out as a counter to the suggestion that one is an Arab?” asks Mukandi. “Are there no Arabs who are decent men with families they love? Would a “no Ma’am, he is an American citizen” not have sufficed?”

“We elected them so it’s our own fault”

Jim Mullins of the Irish Examiner reminds us that “every country gets the government it deserves”. He bemoans the fact that “the dogs in the street knew for years we had an incompetent, wasteful Government as well as an inept opposition. Yet we did nothing to change that.”

An apathetic public who cannot stir themselves to the ballot boxes, and even if they do, vote according to family’s civil war affiliations, do our nation a disservice. He writes, “in a true democracy we would have an obligation … to elect only those who are capable of governing our nation for the common good.” Instead, we vote for a TD because “he or she helped to get planning permission for your daughter’s house or fix a pothole outside your door.”

Body Image and Ritual Humiliation

Hannah Betts writes in the Belfast Telegraph of the phenomenon that is self-help tv shows, and the presenters’ propensity to force their subjects to get naked.

Rather than being genuinely concerned with negative body images, these shows exploit exhibitionists “to create some sort of rolling freak show.”

Betts believes these shows reinforce, rather than reduce, low self-esteem, especially in women. She urges to fight back with feminism, saying “Think not: ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ but: ‘Fabulous, I will use my hulking great backside to shatter the glass ceiling.’”