On winners and losers by underground

Like the sadist I am, sometimes I like to watch Fox News, cheerleaders of religious conservatism, where the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity make the most ridiculous assertions. According to Hannity, Obama is a socialist because of the US’s increasing deficit, despite George W Bush’s efforts to plunge the surplus he inherited into the red. Yesterday, I enjoyed Hannity slating the network’s opposition for their criticism of the Fox-endorsed anti-Obama “tea party” protests. While I believe it is part of the media role to often advocate a cause, organising anti-government protests is hardly fair and unbiased. And who are the people protesting? They are not the millions who took to the streets objecting to Bush’s illegal war and the erosion of civil liberties. They are tens of thousands of people who voted for the guy that did not win a democratic election last year. They are the sorest of losers, who supported a failed president for eight years and have written off the guy who inherited his mess; a troubled economy and a fractured nation. They are Hannity and Co.’s rent-a-crowd.

In New Zealand, the Left have had to stomach a National Government for six months and, even more difficult, the realisation that John Key is not as bad as previously believed. Key’s empty rhetoric and lack of substance pre-election concerned many, but his inclusive, measured governance has caused a re-think from many. There are indications unpopular policy may be in the pipeline and their pre-Christmas rush and their 100-day inaction may have given opponents some amnunition, but for the time being it’s plain sailing for the Government. The losers of the last election will need to regroup and consider their moves for the future. Let’s not see the pathetic sore-loser response shown by the tea baggers across the Pacific.


Obamania: Sickness or cure? by underground

I was bored today. That is the only way I can explain me watching Entertainment Tonight’s inauguration special. I now know what Barack, Michelle and the girls were wearing, who performed live, who thought what, when, why and how. Thousands of people were in the streets, celebrating as though World War Two had just been declared over. Everyone was so excited, every superlative exhausted, every glowing face crying tears of liquid patriotism. It was beautiful. It was history. It was mindnumbing crap.

On a level with perhaps only JFK, Obama is as much a politician as he is a celebrity. What he wears and who he is seen with is as important as what he says and what he does. For all some people seem to care, he could be a chart topping rapper. His number one single is “Yes we can” and his Gold selling album is “Change we can believe in”. People are going crazy over a politician. A politician!  Is this a good thing?

Is this a case of style over substance? Surely it is great people are inspired and interested in politics and ideals, but is Obama much more than slogans and great oratary skills? During the campaign he initially impressed me, particular during the Democratic Primaries, but gradually he has appeared to me as less of a deviation from the status quo as his slogans declare him to be. I was excited as anyone when he won the election, as excited as a non-American could (should) be, but I believe the hype is going over board. Is this man really the messiah? I’m not writing him off, I know he will be an improvement on his predecessor, but considering the mammoth tasks ahead of him I’m keeping my expectations low!

The question I am pondering, is will Obama get people who previously didn’t care about politics, society or the world to follow important issues with interest and participate actively in democracy, or is he simply a cult of personality, divorced from any substance, popular for who he isn’t, worshipped like a teen heart-throb?

I suppose I’ll know in four years time.

What I want from 2009 by underground
January 2, 2009, 12:01 pm
Filed under: Life, Philosophy | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Happy New Year! Another year has been completed and a fresh year is upon us. 2008 was a bad year for most people, particularly with the economic recession. I had a good one, obtaining a graduate diploma in journalism, making great new friends and moving to a small New Zealand town with my incredible girlfriend to work at a community paper. Life couldn’t be better. So what would make 2009 perfect?

I’m not a fan of New Year resolutions. You tend to forget about them by February 1. And I don’t think I need to change anything major. I might want to eat healthier or do more exercise, but I can take it or leave it. Maybe I could swear less. I think I expect from others than myself this year.

I want to see more people smile in the street. I want more people to say hi to strangers. I want to hear less racist insults. I want all religions to either cease to hate, or cease to exist. I want sweat shops to close. I want rainforest logging to stop. I want cluster bombs banned. I want secret detention prisons closed. I want the death penalty banned. I want children to stop being sexualised or turned on to violence. I want intelligence valued more than ignorance. I want battery chickens banned. I want SUVs off the road. I want whaling stopped. I want people to stop abusing children. I want people to stop treating other people like shit. I want people to stop treating themselves like shit.

I want Barack Obama to prove me wrong. I want him to come down hard on Israel, to stop arming the illegitimate state to the hilt and blocking every international attempt to stop them bombing and massacring Palestinians imprisoned in an impoverished land like shooting fish in a barrel.

I want John Key and the National Party to prove me wrong, to take global warming, workers rights, minority rights seriously and put the well-being of all New Zealanders above the wealth accumulation of a fortunate few. National’s pre-Christmas undemocratic rush indicate where there intentions lie.

I’m sure I’ve left a few things out.

I think 2009 may be disappointing…

Obama should not give Clinton the Secretary of State role by underground

During the democratic primaries there were two very different candidates on offer when it came to Barack Obama v Hilary Clinton. One area where this was certainly the case was on foreign affairs. Voters were given two opposing view points. In debates and TV commercials Clinton tried to play herself up as a tough hardliner, loathe to give an inch to America’s enemies and those the country has uneasy relationships with. In contrast Obama famously said he would talk to likes of Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Castro, favouring dialog and diplomacy as opposed to threats of violence and sanctions against innocent civilians. The proposed stance was slated by Clinton, the media and some voters, however many foreign affairs experts at the time said the policy was a promising move, particularly after Bush’s disaster years.

Part of Obama’s popularity was due to his policy on dialog, especially outside of America. Obama has been given the mandate by the electorate to explore this avenue. If it was good enough for Nixon to go to China, Obama should go to Tehran. The last America or the world needs is the continuation of Bush’s failed policies on foreign affairs.  Considering Clinton was at pains early this year to cast herself as a hardliner, she is not the kind of Secretary of State American needs to get back onside with the world and would only further inflate current problems with “rogue” states. Her vote for the invasion also shows her lack of judgment in this area. Barack, look elsewhere!

The good, the bad and the ugly – The ministers in National’s new government by underground

John Key has shown some promise, and left even his doubters reconsidering their opinions of the man, with the new ministers he announced yesterday. Of course those on the Left are never going to be happy with a National-led government, but there are some signals that, at least for the first term, National will be sticking to the centre ground. It is certainly a lot more pleasant than anything I could have imagined Don Brash coming up with had he won in 2005. The likes of Paula Bennett with the social development portfolio may temper National’s tendency to screw over those on the bottom of the heap, as will the inclusion of Tariana Turia and Peter Sharples from the Maori Party. Turia is minister of the community and voluntary sector and Sharples is Maori affairs minister, which must be reassuring for many Maori. National has given the Maori Party more than Labour managed, particularly when they dropped the ball siding with New Zealand First and Greens in 2005, shunning the more principled partners of the Greens and the Maori. National has trumped Labour in their post election arrangements here, although they have created a four-headed monster after warning of the perils of something similar from Labour. Another example of National Party hypocrisy, expect more to come! Continue reading

One day away from turning our back on all of this! by underground

Although the polls vary on who the next New Zealand government will in fact be, it appears as though the tide is turning on Labour and Helen Clark. Following the election in the US, voters are keen on some of that “change” action. Rather than an Obama-esque “change you can believe in”, it is more like “change for the sake of change”. And it isn’t going to be the sort of change most voters envisage. A National government will need the support of Act, so a change of government is a change in only one direction – Hard right. Remember Roger Douglas? Well he is who National will be buddying up to. Is that the change we need?

Besides, have the past nine years been that bad? Continue reading

Yay for Americans! by underground
November 6, 2008, 11:47 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , , , , , ,

No more calling yourself Canadians when abroad! Congratulations on electing Barack Obama, hopefully he can turn your country around and the world will stop hating you. Well done on not electing McCain and Palin, which would have in effect been seen by many as an endorsement of the past eight years. No doubt such a result would have led to America being further demonised by the world. And many of us just can’t believe you elected a black man to be president. Imagine that! Good for you, the world seems to be ready to give you a second chance. Now just don’t screw it Obama!