Archive for american politics

So What’s The Problem With Sex?

Posted in People, Society and Politics, Scandalous! with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2010 by AF

What is all this fuss we make about sex? Something that JJ said in this excellent post on her blog (The Fifty Factor) confused me a little – well, it certainly made me question some things I previously took for granted, at least.

Listing some of what she does and doesn’t blog about, Joanna said this, Generally, I will not blog about… […] Sex. In the event that it could ultimately bite me in the butt should I decide to run for an elected office, I’ll keep this topic to myself.”

Now I don’t know how serious she is about that statement because she can be a very funny lady, but I suspect there’s at least some truth in it. I was… well, I was quite shocked, particularly in view of some of the things she does blog about (often in jest). My surprise was not due to what she said, but more by the realisation that she felt she needed to think that way.

I mean, what is our modern world about? We in the West, in reality if not in name, are currently fighting at least two major wars and suffering casualties; huge earthquakes are devastating whole countries, or so it seems; terrorism is everywhere; politicians appear to be less honest by the day as they steal public money, lie through their teeth about important matters under consideration by the administration in power and much more; huge debates are taking place in the US over healthcare for millions of Americans and (to an outsider at least) the rich v the poor battle seems to get daily closer to them killing each other in the streets, whilst still others are warning of the impending doom that awaits mankind because of global warming…

All that is going on and is just a small sample of the awful state of humanity and, if JJ is right, it looks like the public and their favourite media (and the Brits are just the same) are most concerned about who is sleeping with whom and what they like to do to each other in bed.

As I said once before quite recently, certainly in any sort of critical manner, I try to stay off of the twin dodgy subjects of religion and politics, but really… perlee-ease! How will humanity ever progress if sex is the factor that is going to be the most contentious and important in the world of politics, of all places? It has nothing whatsoever to do with it!

If politicians are screwing me financially, or bureaucratically, then it matters to me! But what they do of a sexual nature to each other, or any other consenting adult, is none of my goddamned business and, frankly, I neither care nor want to know about it!

A Question I Feel I Just Have To Ask

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , on January 24, 2010 by AF

This is a serious matter and I apologise right now if I’m going to offend any of the Americans who read my blog because I feel I “know” many of you (to a greater or lesser degree) and, as far as I can tell, you’re all nice, kind and decent people. Some of you are, of course, also gorgeous women (I’m sure you will know who you are) and that worries me even more, since it is not in my nature to intentionally insult any woman, particularly one who is both beautiful and adorable, however much I might disagree with her.

Nevertheless, I feel this question should be asked. Many of you got the President you desired (a heck of a lot of you voted for him) and you are mostly caring and responsible citizens. So, since Barack Obama is the USA’s knight in shining armour and unless it is just the way it appears to me (and a lot of others I’ve spoken to about it)… when do you think America might stop landing endless troops and military hardware on Haiti and do something more positive about organising and distributing the huge amount of food, water and medical supplies that are so desperately needed by the surviving population there and that is unquestionably readily available through the amazing international response that the disaster has produced?

If I’m out of order, or being overly cynical, then I will expect you to tell me, but (from what I’ve read, seen and heard on UK TV and other news sources) it does seem to me that the US perhaps sees this as a golden opportunity to finally take control of Haiti and quell its rebellious attitudes and maybe even to turn it into the fifty first state, but without any of the labour protection laws that mainlanders enjoy?

It’s just a question, but…

Addendum: Please let me make it plain here (since it may not be) I’m not criticising Americans, or even America, I’m simply questioning whether the military is so busy being military that it has lost sight of what’s paramount here and additionally I think it’s right to question the motives of some powerful factions of the US administration…

Save The Boobies Indeed!

Posted in People, Society and Politics, Scandalous! with tags , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by AF

A clever and so very funny post over on “girl du jour” caught my eye…

“So next Saturday at 4 PM Eastern Time, all American women are asked to walk out of their house completely naked to help weed out any neighborhood terrorists.”  (read the full post here – it’s worth your time)

Save the boobies – save it all! 😉

Is Bad Always Bad (and good always good)?

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2009 by AF

This question was inspired by a comment from the lovely PJ over on another great site – Let’s have A Cocktail. It’s just something entirely valid that PJ said, but that often worries me at times and that I wonder about.

PJ’s comment was something along the lines of, “How many times have we heard a racist joke and said nothing?” It’s a fair question and there’s also been a bit of a fuss over at the BBC in the UK about some comment made (off camera) by one of the professional dancers on Strictly Come Dancing. There was also an incident a while back involving Prince Harry and a friend of his. Apparently, in the UK, in each case someone was called a “Pakki” (I’ve no idea if that’s how you would spell it, but the meaning’s the same – it’s short for Pakistani and generally refers to anyone from the Indian sub-continent).

Now, I can understand that, if I call someone in the street, or in a shop or office, a “Bloody Pakki” that might well be offensive. Firstly, in such circumstances, my intention would undoubtedly be to be offensive and I can’t see how that’s particularly worse than calling him (or her) a “fat lazy asshole”, or worse for not doing his job properly and causing me grief, but apparently I’m entitled to do that, but not to refer to his race. The Australians have referred to the English as “Whinging Poms” for years and the Americans called us “Limeys”, and I can’t say I’m particularly offended by it. The whole thing seems pretty stupid to me, especially since there are real and serious racist issues that still need addressing.

More importantly, though, we’re not, as far as I’m aware, really talking about anything spiteful here, but about humour and largely between friends. If the friend in question isn’t offended, why the hell should anyone else be? To me, it’s simply political correctness gone madder than ever.

What worries me most is, where do we draw the line? What’s it doing to the richness of our language and our humour? I can see perfectly well that some things that some of these so called comedians say is offensive (whether there is racist, sexist, or whatever comment) and I rarely find them funny anyway. Mostly, to me, such people are just unpleasant. But the English and the Irish have been telling jokes about each other for probably ever and I have to say that most of it’s hilarious – in fact by far the funniest “Irish” jokes are sent to me in email by Irish people.

When someone falls over and looks pretty daft doing it, we laugh – even if they’ve sometimes hurt themselves somewhat. Some may find it offensive that we laugh, but that doesn’t stop us and it’s not sexist just because the person involved is a woman, or racist because the man or woman is not white, or ageist because the guy’s getting on in years, it’s just funny because it is and that’s life.

So, I suppose what I’m saying here is that it can be summed up as: whilst I think that racism, sexism, ageism and practically any other “ism” is not only undesirable, it’s also generally bloody unacceptable too, plee-eease can we keep a sense of proportion about what a normal person would find offensive and, above all, can we please try to keep our sense of humour intact? There are far more important problems in the world to deal with – including real racism and sexism!

Addendum: I tried to add an example here as an addendum and then removed it because it sounded awful! I couldn’t explain myself properly. The fact is, it seems to me that, without context, personal knowledge of all the people involved and hearing tone of voice etc., it’s almost impossible to tell if something said within a group (rather than completely publicly) is really racist, sexist or whatever, or not.

You Owe It To Yourself

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2009 by AF

This post over at the Mudflats begins innocuously enough…

“On my 21st birthday, I woke up in the morning and drove to Dairy Queen.  I got soft serve vanilla ice cream with strawberry topping and I ate it for breakfast.  Why?  When I was a child I asked once if I could have ice cream for breakfast, and my mother said, “You can have ice cream for breakfast when you’re 21.”  And so I did.”

But if you want to put some of the anger and hateful behaviour going on in America at the moment into perspective, then you owe it to yourself to take a few moments to read this post in full.


What Is It With These People?

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2009 by AF

I’m not American, so I tend to say little about US politics unless I feel it affects the rest of us and UK politicians just make me feel ill, so I don’t mention them much either. But there are times when I wonder just what this planet is coming to.

It’s a bit like when bureaucrats (oh, how I loathe some of them) get all officious in what is clearly simply an attempt to increase their own sense of self importance and in fact justify their own existence. But in this instance a small but significant number of apparently small-minded US citizens are playing constitutional Russian Roulette with their whole country – and that could affect the rest of us.

It may well be that President Obama is playing an astute political game of chess over his healthcare proposals and that what he finally expects to get is not what’s most obviously on the table at the moment. Furthermore, I think his policies are misguided in as much as, desirable though his ideas are in theory, reality rarely matches anything close to theory when any service at all is run directly by government. Basically, healthcare almost everywhere in the industrialised world requires a huge rethink, because most of us simply can’t afford to support a system that offers the sort of healthcare that is daily becoming more sophisticated and vastly more expensive.

Nevertheless, I really can’t see why seasoned politicians and activists (mainly on the right of the Republican Party) would even consider, let alone condone, the evil “rent-a-mob” actions that are clearly taking place at meetings designed to explain the proposals to (and discuss them with) ordinary people across America. What is the point of spreading the lies, filth and half truths that these people are using to cloud the issues they so violently disagree with? What happened to reasoned argument and sensible discussion? Furthermore, I find it absolutely disgusting that TV channels can buy into this vile behaviour in the manner that Fox News apparently is according to so many rational sounding posts on the Internet. Using the power of TV to spread that sort of hatred is entirely anti-democratic and, to me, totally abhorrent.

I think the worst thing about it all, though, is how far these people plainly are removed from reality. I can understand that things that I don’t give damn about are vitally important to others – that’s their right and mine too and they have a democratic right to hold their views and express them.

But politicians buying into this crap? Now that’s something else entirely and it shows a really frightening lack of understanding and caring for the good of the country. Such people can only be seen as chasing fringe votes – the votes of the nasty, bigoted minority who would brook no opinion other than the disgustingly vile opinions that they hold and wish to see forced onto all of us by any means they can achieve. That way lies pure dictatorship!

The right wing of the Republican Party does this time and again. They hounded Bill Clinton over Monica Lewinsky to the tune of millions of public dollars spent on a matter that, though possibly bureaucratically important, was entirely trivial to most Americans – which was proved when they re-elected him and showed quite clearly that they didn’t actually give a sh*t about his love life, or the spiteful values of the nut-jobs! More importantly, it all wasted an enormous amount of valuable time for themselves, their party, the presidency, the legislature and it severely damaged US standing in the world along with the wellbeing of the country and its citizens. Ultimately, because of America’s size, that affected all of us.

And now we have the Obama birth certificate thing…

Do most normal Americans actually give a toss? NO! Absolutely NOT! The fact is that a majority of the electorate voted him, the man they saw and connected with, into office and whether some ancient bit of paper may or may not have made him strictly eligible in bureaucratic terms is almost totally irrelevant now. The people wanted him, not even necessarily because they seriously expected he would be the Superman they hoped, but simply because he was a better bet than the sh*t that the Republicans put up as an alternative!

Republicans (and at heart I probably am more or less Republican in my outlook) get real! Wake up and smell the coffee! Instead of bogging yourselves and everyone else down in this mire of nonsensical crap, you need to work on getting the right people and the right policies in place for the next election, right now (note what happened to the Tories in the UK and the misery that has created for the Brits). Get rid of the wing-nuts! America – heck, the world – cannot afford for you to suffer such abject failure and obscurity as you are heading for at this moment!

Just for once, think of the people – think of your country first! All of it!

Information Technology is Great – Isn’t It?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 27, 2009 by AF

I sometimes wonder if the old saying that, “ignorance is bliss” wasn’t a lot truer than many supposed. It’s all very well us getting all this information, but in these days of tight schedules and sound bites it can get pretty confusing and occasionally dangerous.

The first difficulty comes from another quote which tells us that we (the UK and other English speaking countries) are divided by a common language – elevators and lifts, suspenders and braces, pants and trousers and so on… But it goes much deeper than that since, if you’re going to be bombarded with endless information, then you’d better make darned sure that you and the speaker attach the same meaning to the words, even if you’re all from the same country. Sometimes that’s down to what part of the country you come from and sometimes it’s also due mainly to the general level of education – or the lack of it, despite what it costs most of us!

For instance, take the word “pandemic”. Thesauruses tell us it’s an epidemic of a disease that is widespread, etc., but even that’s not strictly correct and it really only refers to anything (usually a disease or virus) instances of which occur globally, however infrequent or mild those occurrences may be – up to a point. To most of us though, when we’re told (endlessly on TV news and elsewhere) that Swine Flu is now pandemic, we instantly think of such diseases as the “Black Death” that wiped out something like two thirds of the human population of Europe several hundred years ago, or outbreaks of cholera, some past very virulent flu types and similar illnesses that threaten to spread like wildfire and destroy chunks of humanity.

In fact, although as with almost all viral diseases, it can result in serious illness or even death in those whose health is otherwise compromised and just a few isolated other cases that are not currently properly understood, the virus is, at the moment, often not that much worse than a common cold. That doesn’t mean it can’t kill those who are vulnerable, but it’s not that serious for most of us – particularly when correctly diagnosed, monitored and, if necessary, appropriately treated.

So, I don’t know how it went in other parts of the world, such as America and Australia, but the fact is that, because neither most politicians nor much of the media actually initially understood the true meaning of the word pandemic (and specifically how the W.H.O. uses it), they managed to create a huge amount of fear within the UK. Now, when the health authorities have failed abysmally to cope with the rush of people seeking diagnosis and treatment, they are telling us to calm down and not to panic!

Panic? You created it, guys! You deal with the consequences!

Zeitgeist – Schmeitgeist

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 21, 2009 by AF

My first reaction to Zeitgeist and the Venus Project is, “Yeah! Right!” and, in my heart, I stand by that, although, on the face of it, their aims are altruistic and beautiful and you can’t argue with that, can you? Or can you?

I do agree also that a new world order is essential if the human race is ever going to progress beyond its current somewhat unpleasant state. The thing is, though, we do progress – always – not necessarily in the right direction, but nothing ever stays the same, not really. And a new world order, if that’s what you want to call it, will only come about when humanity develops into something that is inherently “better” than it is right now – if it ever does.

However, statements like this (taken from their website) are what worry me…

“As an aside, it is important to point out that society today assumes a very negative posture towards humanity, retaining the belief that if human beings were not “required” to do something, they would just sit around, be lazy, and do nothing. This is absurd propaganda.”

This is totally idealistic and utter bullshit! Believe me, I wish it were not so, but it’s one of the major reasons why welfare, good business, decency and almost everything else desirable ultimately fails in the UK (and is patently doing so right now) and I’m certain it is inherently true in the US too – probably in fact throughout most, even if not all, of the world.

Without education and conditioning when young, we (humans) are no better than many apes and other animals and much worse than many. Without the need to do some kind of work to gain something, we WILL become lazy and do nothing. That will lead to boredom and hence to a further degeneration of our willingness to behave decently. Any other premise is simply fanciful poppycock. I actually observe this happening all the time – daily. I wish I could say it’s not true, but it is. Of course, not everyone is like that, but that’s because of the conditioning attached to people’s upbringing – like their education and parental guidance, particularly when very young.

To me, the suggestion that we are the creation of some super being is both fatuous and the absolute height of arrogance. Simple logic must tell anyone that, if it’s so, then he/she/it could only simply have created the means by which life can come about and has then sat back in disgust to watch the mayhem that has resulted – or maybe we’re all just a giant biological computer game that the somewhat evil masters of the universe manoeuvre into positions they find funny. To say that we are not worthy or able to understand the way God works is simply a stupid copout. Any superior architect would have done a better job and it’s quite obvious to me that there’s nothing very special about us – all life on Earth is nothing significantly more than an infinitely varied set of biological machines. If a god created us, then we are the version 1.1 prototype that failed miserably! In which case, maybe there’s a more successful model out there somewhere in another galaxy.

As we and some of the more intelligent species have become “self aware” we have changed to be both better and worse. We can see and talk about goodness, but we are also daily becoming capable of greater evil. When largely aimless and left alone to behave as other animals do, you can quickly see that we are just that – predatory mammals – and very bad ones, as it happens! If you don’t believe me, consider this: generally, it is only some of the more intelligent animals that derive pleasure from killing. Examples of those that do are orcas, humans, chimpanzees and some other apes and a few other species. There are exceptions, of course, there always are in anything, but most of the rest of the animal kingdom kills solely to eat or to protect themselves and their own, however misguidedly. We and those others I mentioned frequently do it just for sport – for the fun of it – particularly us humans! Some of the “higher species” are very caring, even loving and appear to be what we would regard as decent, but then most of them don’t live in a competitive environment and have evolved over hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of years without pressure because they are in a peculiarly unassailable position, or they were, until man figured out ways to kill them.

We are capable of great love and self sacrifice, but we are also capable of disgusting evil. Most of our existence, though, is about competition. That’s not the result of the environment we are in – we have created that environment because that’s the way we are and the conditions we enjoy most and thrive in. It gets hijacked by the assholes, of course, but it’s still basically a reflection of the way we are and what lies at the heart of humanity. Without the constant competition and striving to “better” ourselves and our lot in life materially, we stagnate and effectively die, or become worthless drifters, vagabonds and thieves without aim, caring or ambition.

We could force our species into being vastly better and more altruistic than we naturally are, but I doubt you’d recognise what we’d change into after a few tens of generations as being entirely human – possibly the species would fail entirely. There is, though, inherent good and bad in all of us and education is absolutely key to everything good that we want and believe humanity can be encouraged to become.

Civilised behaviour is no more than a veneer. When applied properly to a very young child and maintained in place right through into youth, a process akin to osmosis occurs, binding those values throughout that young person’s whole personality. Tacked on later, that veneer may stick, but subject it to any kind of adverse conditions or stress and it immediately starts to peel. If an overriding sense of decency, fair play and consideration for others is instilled into a child from soon after birth right up until about the age of eight or a little more, that young person will usually carry that underlying goodness in their character for the rest of his or her life. It can (and should?) probably be tempered by a necessary degree of self preservation which will otherwise be gained from bitter experience. That, though, is surely a good thing too, because if the good ones get endlessly crapped on and the bad ones prosper, then it’s obvious that’s no incentive to the next generation to be better still. Nevertheless, if you get a large enough body of instinctively decent people in the world, then that will gradually become the norm and take control of everything.

Try to change the system first and you’ll fail. Bad parents and bad schooling gets bad children who become bad adults. The reverse though is also true and there lies our hope for the future. Dilute that idea with misguided idealism, mumbo jumbo and hidden agendas and all the good in the world will fail. In the right circumstances, the world order will change automatically, if we allow and gently persuade people to grow intellectually and emotionally when young in directions that accentuate their good qualities and make them abhor and suppress the less desirable ones. Attempting to alter that world order first in the supposed belief that the human race will willingly change as a result is both futile and authoritarian in principle and I distrust what the Zeitgeist organisation is about with every fibre of my being.

If you’ve read H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” then you might think that I see what an uncompetitive and altruistic humanity could develop into as being similar to the Eloi, the small, elegant, sexless and childlike people that inhabit the light in a far distant era on Earth. Those childlike inhabitants are actually fodder for the pale, apelike Morlocks who live underground in darkness and effectively farm the Eloi by providing for them and controlling them and their environment. The Morlocks behave in a way that I see as the potential role for the distant descendants of the Zeitgeist Overlords. Whatever they claim, I see it as an, albeit somewhat covertly, hierarchal organisation and like any other there is always an ulterior motive. It’s my belief that this organisation is really no different from other pseudo religious “save the world” type cults. Scary stuff to me!

Given the opportunity, humanity will develop of its own accord! Educate and guide its members by all means since that’s pretty much essential to its advancement, but decentralise (always) and otherwise leave it alone to do its thing – for anything else is playing God and, if I’m wrong and (illogically) there is such an entity, then look what a crap job he (or she) has done thus far!

Well, I Resisted

Posted in People, Society and Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2009 by AF

I resisted the temptation for as long as I could, but the Sarah Palin thing turns up everywhere and it is a whole lot more important than a lot of people seem to think, so I caved in and wrote this.

I commented on a post on a political blog as follows:

Not that I’m advocating it, but with a dictatorship, what you see is more or less what you get.

With a democracy there is always danger. Some single thing happens and suddenly you can find yourself with a swing to extremism – be it to the left or to the right. If that occurs at something like election time, watch out!

Palin is all you say and, as many have commented here and elsewhere, she’s great media fodder and poking fun at her is almost a national sport at times. But she could be dangerous! The wrong event at the wrong moment and she and all her ilk would be swept to power. What would that mean for the world”

I think that judgment is more valid than a lot of people realise…

Sarah Palin seems to me to be a rallying point for a whole batch of the oft called “loony” right in the US – and that’s not good. When bigots and others with extremist views – does that make sense? Are all extremists not bigots by definition? But I digress – whilst extremists are a disparate bunch, they are often rather upsetting, but that’s life and they’re entitled to their opinions however unpalatable they may be to most of us, but they are little threat. Given a charismatic personality to follow, the nature of the beast changes (and she is charismatic, if somewhat brittle and given to faux pas on a grand scale – and she’s got tits too – rednecks go for tits). She is also very good at the sound bite thing as well.

Sarah Palin is the darling of a certain section of the American political right. Facts don’t get in her way. If it sounds good and will gain her more adulation, then she’ll say it. By definition, extremists don’t listen to reasoned argument. If a speech or even a phrase fits in with their prejudices, their ideology, then they’re not likely to let the inconvenience of mere facts spoil a good angle.

Like I said in my comment, it only takes the wrong event at the wrong moment and a big chunk of normally rational, considerate, decent people will swing towards something they would usually hate. Imagine if 9/11 had occurred a month before the US08 Presidential election – would Obama now be President, or would McCain and Palin be in the Whitehouse?

That scenario feels like George W on speed to me and fills me with horror. As I said, democracy is what we revere and believe in, but we should never take it for granted, because it can be very fragile and fraught with great danger!