By Tim Pat Coogan
Blogland here I come!
Embarking on the journey to Blogdom is a fascinating undertaking.. I hope to have the time to explore this new world thoroughly, not merely for the intrinsic interest of the project, but because it gives me the opportunity of thanking the great number of people who have written to me at my web site. I seem to have got e-mails from everywhere. Not merely from Ireland and the obvious countries of the Irish diaspora, England, America, Canada and Australia, but from places like Russia, Eastern Europe, Africa, Greece and Latin America.
In contrast to what they try to tell you in some universities interest in Irish history is widespread and seemingly growing.
I have not always been able to answer all the queries and comments which land electronically on my desk at “Eventually”, the name of my house. My hope is that eventually I will manage to reply to everyone individually, but for the moment may I be allowed to use this first blog to say a collective “thank you.”
Writing on the morning after the McCain Obama debate, in the midst of a global economic crisis triggered by the sub-prime debacle, with wars raging in Afghanistan and Iraq, I find that concerns on all these issue overshadow the thoughts and preoccupations a writer would normally be expected to have on the eve of the launch of their memoirs (On Tuesday next, September 30th)
I feel as though America, the leader of the democratic family of nations, the country I know and love, has been taken over by an incompetent, murderously inclined clique who should be facing trial as war criminals. Apart from the loss of some four thousand American lives in Iraq they have been responsible for close on six hundred thousand Iraqi casualties in a war begun in a fog of lies and deceit to make the world safe for Haliburton. The marionette’s glove has Bush’s face on it but the hand that manipulated it was Cheney’s and behind him the greedy world of Corporate CEOdom that has created a world crisis.
During their eight years in the White House the Republican leadership, the representatives of what is traditionally viewed as the party of business, have devalued the dollar and set at serious risk not merely the economy of the people who elected them, but those of countries all round the world. For some years now, looking on, as China and Russia grow inexorably stronger I have felt increasingly that I was re-living the Fall of the Roman Empire.
The dull thud last Friday as Bush’s financial czar, Paulson, went down on his knees in the White House Cabinet Room to unavailing beg for the passage of the $750 billion dollar bail out package on which America and the world’s financial system depends, heightened that feeling.
It doesn’t seem credible that a Republican candidate for the said White House could still be in there with a shout, but there’s John McCain still moving forward with the Floozie with the Uzi by his side. Should anything happen to the seventy two year old, badly traumatised war veteran, Sarah Palin, who once campaigned that Alaska be separated from the US, likes machine guns, and taught her children to shoot moose, will be sitting on the seat now warmed by George Bush’s bottom
Not a pretty thought but, given the available evidence of George and Sarah’s thought processes, that could probably be construed as a symbolic meeting of minds. Meanwhile, of course, back on the ranch the Irish Celtic Tiger economy has become not so much striped as scarified. Much of the pain is self-inflicted, an over-reliance on the building industry and “excessive leveraging”, the corporate newspeak used to describe the unlovely offspring born of insatiable coupling between licentious borrower and irresponsibly bandoned lender.
Now the banks, which gave out umbrellas all round as the economic sun shone, are taking them back again as the storm clouds break. Firms, particularly US multi-nationals, are either closing, or packing up and departing towards sweat shop economies, Further departures are feared in the not too distant future. And there’s a hole the size of the Grand Canon in the Government’s tax receipts estimates.
Accordingly, though I admire John McCain’s personal virtues, ironically those praised by the ancient Romans, courage, loyalty and self-sacrifice, politically he’s a different matter. I found it very hard, in the midst of a recession triggered by his party, to hear him during the presidential debate, extol the virtues of the low Irish corporate tax rate and extend it as a model for America.
This is the sort of Republican spin doctor rubbish we associate with the Karl Roves and his like. It obscures the political reality of the erosion of American civil liberties, the freedoms which George Bush claimed to be upholding as he bombed his way into control of Iraq’s oil.
If John McCain is that impressed by the Irish tax system it would be helpful if he would pass on his views to the boardrooms of the multi-nationals now exiting, or planning to exit, Ireland’s shores.
Anyhow, as I said earlier it is literally the morning after ( the debate) so maybe my deression will lift as the hours pass and the book launch nears. The memoir has just hit the shops and already the response has been very encouraging. Thanks once again to everyone who e-mailed my web page and stand by for further, and, I hope, frequent excursions into the Wonderful World of Bloggers.