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.


Israel is not an island. by underground

As if contestants in the TV show survivor, Israeli soldiers have been granted immunity from prosecution by their prime minister for participating in the last game show challenge.

From the BBC:

In Israel, Prime Minister Olmert told a weekly cabinet meeting that soldiers who had put their lives on the line for their country need not fear prosecution for war crimes overseas.

“The commanders and soldiers that were sent on the task in Gaza should know that they are safe from any tribunal and that the State of Israel will assist them in this issue and protect them as they protected us with their bodies during the military operation in Gaza,” he said.

What is Olmert saying here? That international law does not cover Israel? That, theoretically, an Israeli soldier could rape, massacre, torture, in fact do anything they desire,  safe in the knowledge that their PM will not allow them to be held accountable? Does this not encourage the crimes we have heard reported from Gaza in the past conflict? Why concern oneself with abiding by international conventions when you are exempt from their consequences?

Olmert expects the international community to condemn and punish Hamas criminals for violating international law, rightly, however will not play ball and allow his own forces to be held accountable for their actions. In insisting their troops are outside of international law, with the assistance of the US, Olmert and his predecessors are allowing and even encouraging Israeli soldiers to violate human rights. So when kids on beaches are shelled, when homes are bulldozed with the occupants still inside and marked UN buildings and refugee camps are fired upon, Olmert and his associates are as culpable as the commander who gives the order to fire. Perhaps the next time he is outside of his country’s borders, Olmert should be held accountable to the international laws he flouts and be tried at the Hague.

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!

So is capitalism dead too? by underground

Alright, I don’t understand economics. I got 32 per cent in fifth form economics. I was happy with the grade. I spent the year copying off a girl who got 19 per cent. Anyway, teenage memories aside, what’s with all these investment companies and banks going under? I don’t understand the ins and outs of what has happened, but I kind of get the gist. Excuse my ignorance, but I cannot help but find it ironic that the government that espouses neo-liberal capitalist ideology the most religiously has now assumed ownership of a private enterprise. Has capitalism been undermined?

The Herald’s Brian Fallow wrote this morning:“Capitalism requires enterprises to be allowed to fail and their owners – whether reckless, inept or just unlucky – to lose their money.” Continue reading

The McCain/Bush… Oops! I mean McCain/Palin ticket by underground

Obama has rightly caught out the Republicans trying to divert attention away from policy debate by perverting comments he made likening John McCain’s promise of change to putting lipstick on a pig.

“You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It’s still going to stink after eight years. We’ve had enough.”

McCain’s team then accused Obama of sexism, twisting the comment as a dig at McCain’s running mate, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin. Palin, a self-confessed ‘hockey-mom’ had previously commented that the only difference between a hockey-mom and a pitbull was lipstick.

Sarah Palin is not a pig with lipstick on. She is George Bush in a skirt. Continue reading

Diplomacy: Can’t we just talk about it? by underground

Death of a nation – Part Three: Diplomacy: Can’t we just talk about it?

Behind the scenes, whilst condemnations are conveyed, grand speeches made and newspaper columns are scribed, negotiations are taking place to try find a solution to the Zimbabwe problem. The international community, led mainly by Britain and the commonwealth, Europe and the United States, are attempting to pressure Mugabe’s regime into submission, and criticised China and Russia for not supporting moves against Mugabe. Within Africa, Botswana, Kenya and Zambia have been the most vocal against Mugabe, and are eager to get other African countries to oppose the regime more openly. The African Union, and in particular South Africa, are trying to negotiate with Mugabe and mediate between the two parties. These talks have not been without their critics. South Africa has been at the thick of both the diplomacy, and the criticism. Continue reading

Sanctions: Can we starve this disease? by underground

Death of a nation – Part Four: Sanctions: Can we starve this disease?

Attempts to bring sanctions in against the Mugabe regime failed recently at the United Nations, with Russia and China using their Security Council vetoes, claiming the situation in Zimbabwe did not threaten international stability. South Africa also opposed the motion saying the sanctions would interfere with their attempts to bring about a national unity government. South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki also claimed the sanctions could provoke a civil war. Burkina Faso’s ambassador, Michel Kafando, who voted for the motion said, “As a means of exerting pressure, it could help”. Both Britain and the United States, who put forward the motion, were disappointed China followed Russia’s move to veto the sanctions, with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband saying “it will appear incomprehensible to the people of Zimbabwe”. Continue reading