Let’s all be friends…

20 02 2008

I hadn’t really thought about it before. Not until I saw the news today at any rate. And I really should have.

For Obama and Clinton, winning is everything. There will be no place for the runner-up. Seriously. The pair, I think, are growing less and less fond of each other as the days pass and Obama gathers momentum. The public smiles when gathered in the same place seem to mask the very private dislike the pair have of the other. Of course I could be wrong, but with Hillary losing her grip very quickly (Obama has just won in Wisconsin, and seems likely to take Hawaii too), the feeling of antipathy between the pair seems to be growing.

Both have been critical of the other during their campaigns, and I am left wondering, given they are still on the same side, whether they could ever really work together after this race is over, regardless of the outcome. More importantly than this is whether they would want to work together. Both, it must be noted are able politicians, they both have some good policies, and they both have some bad policies. I feel that they could work well together, had fate not pitted them against each other in this contest. For the failed candidate, will it be the end of public recognition? Those Republican candidates who have fallen by the wayside seem to have disappeared from the public eye. Thompson, Romney and Giuliani have all declared their backing for either of the two men left in the fight, but apart from that, little, certainly on this side of the pond, has been heard from any of them.

I suppose this is where the issue lies, media coverage. The media concern themselves with the real news, that is, those people who still are important, be it Clinton or Huckabee, Obama or McCain. The others are yesterdays news, chewed up, thrown around and rejected by in favour of the continuing process.

I return therefore to my initial musing. What will happen to either Obama or Clinton when they lose this race. To my mind, I am less fearful for Hillary. She has a reputation attached to being a former president’s wife, and a Presidential nominee. She, I think, will be fine. For Obama though, the future would be less clear cut, certainly from a public perspective. He would, like many before him, drop out of the public psyche and float around for a few years, until one day he releases a film about how cows are bad for the world, and claim the nobel prize for it.


To Blog or not to Blog?

18 02 2008

That is the question.

I was having a discussion with one of my weird housemates last night about the nature of blogging. The implications which he made about the ‘arrogance’ of bloggers startled me somewhat. That blogging was a pasttime which served to reinforce a bigoted opinion of oneself served to make me consider my own approach to blogging. Why do I do it? What do I hope to achieve, and why should anyone care what I think about issue x or y?

Honestly, I do not buy into the whole idea that bloggers are arrogant. I maintain that, in a society which champions free speech, blogging is but another tool in which this should be allowed. If the medium is there for me to talk about things, then why should I not use it? This does not make me arrogant, it makes me opinionated. Obviously there is a difference.

Moving on then to the issue of why I blog. Honestly, I do not care who reads what I write, I would love there to be some form of discussion about the topics I blog about, but being only small fry at the moment, this is obviously limited. I blog because I want to. I express myself far better ( in my opinion) in written word than I do in spoken word. Blogging gives me a way of expressing my own opinion fluently, and in a careful and considered manner. It is rather like a public diary, my thoughts, and opinions on the crazy world in which we live.

So to my weird housemate (in the knowledge that he will read this at some point), let us into your realm. Why and where do you blog? Let us in and engage with us about the random stuff that happens in your blog.

We stand and salute…

18 02 2008

I am, by my ‘word origin calendar’, reliably informed that today is Presidents’ Day. This is meant to be, according to Wikipedia at least, a day where the former Presidents are celebrated and remembered. It is meant to be a public holiday and was, initially a celebration of George Washington (Remember him? The guy who fought Jebediah Springfield in The Simpsons? Yeah, that one.) but now has grown to include all Presidents (unless you are from Massachusetts).

In honour of this jovial day, I propose a toast.

Will you all rise and raise your glasses to our great and esteemed former-leader…

President Blair.

How ya Bin?

17 02 2008

Justin Webb’s comments on the situation regarding the world’s public enemy number one make for interesting reading.

I am inclined to think there is only an element of truth in what he says. Bin Laden and Hussein were, for so long, high on America’s most wanted list. They ‘got’ the latter and promptly ensured he was executed. But is the former becoming less important? I’m not sure, although the rhetoric on him has seen a drop in more recent times.

More important than that suggestion is the implications that has for those soldiers in Afghanistan. If we run with the suggestion that Bin Laden is no longer as important, then does this mean that for all those troops still positioned in Afghanistan (and still undergoing what appears to be heavy fighting), are they employed now solely in a peacekeeping role?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought the invasion of Afghanistan was a clamp-down on the Bin Laden-led Taleban.  The Taleban, in case you need reminding, are still very much an active force in Afghanistan, with recent news suggesting they are far from going away. Bin Laden still hasn’t been caught, and I for one doubt he ever will be. But if the implications made by Webb are to be entertained, then this would mean that the mission in Afghanistan has become either

a) unnecessary or

b) something different to the original plan.

If however we maintain, as America are likely to do, that the main objective is still the capture of Bin Laden, there is much more of a reason to keep the troops in the country. That reason, other than to save face, would still be to capture the worlds public enemy number one.

It is here where I think the issue is. America needs to save face. Those in the big white building need to keep it looking like they are hunting terrorist HQ so as not to really piss off all those anti-war folk. As well as the families of the troops who continue to die over there.

Of course, it is not just America, but, like sheep to the shepard, Britain still maintains her interest in the country, if only because America says so. That, if I’m correct, is a whole lot of people who the higher powers need to keep happy. If there is some form of justifiable cause (like the hunt for Bin Laden and the threat of terrorism) then these people are much more easily appeased, even if they still do not fully agree with the cause.

Personally I think that the emphasis has very much shifted from capturing Bin Laden and the Taleban to improving the country savaged as it has been by war, cultural and poltical strife. In a similar manner to Iraq, the hunt for one man was only ever likely to be part of the story. The rest of it, as with Iraq, is the hope that the future of the country can be rescued, and made into a less contentious place. That is why America and Britain still have an interest there. I’m not so sure Bin Laden is the issue anymore.

But is this wrong? Surely trying to rebuild a country before you have permanently sorted out the problem is putting the cart before the horse? Surely the emphasis should still be on capturing Bin Laden and the Taleban? Surely America should still be really keen to ‘get’ him? It strikes me though that for the Allies, getting Bin Laden would be a happy addition to what they are trying to do. Much like chocolate sauce on your ice-cream. It isn’t strictly necessary, but it would be nice.

Bin Laden therefore is chocolate sauce.


Smoking through the tape…

15 02 2008

Now I dislike red tape. A lot. It largely unnecessary, especially in the quantities in which it is seen in todays society. Yet this story is strangely satisfying. Maybe it is just because I really dislike smokers. Maybe it is because I think people should take better care of themselves. Or maybe it is because I actually like red tape when it affects me positively.

What ever the reason for it, I strongly approve of this suggestion. I am fed up of smokers moaning about ‘infringment of rights’, ‘victimisation’ and all that sort of rubbish. Smoking is wrong on so many levels that it’s painful (literally in most cases). And yet millions continue to do it. Facebook, the great social indicator of our time, reliably informs me that almost twice as many people are in favour of the smoking ban as are opposed to it. However, there is still a shoking number (23,000) of people who feel they need to insist upon filling bars, pubs and clubs with smoke.

The argument that the ban is victimising smokers is, quite frankly, rubbish. I, as a non-smoker, feel victimised by smokers who insist upon blowing smoke all over me as I walk into a pub. I, as an asthmatic, am more conscious of the effects of second hand smoke than some. Yet there are still some ignorant people (really resisting the urge to swear at this point!) who think that it is a good idea to be allowed to smoke.

The basic argument that smokers have is it’s my life, screw everyone else. The trouble is, that is exactly what they are doing. By smoking, they are by definition screwing everyone around them through passive smoking.

I will stop this rant here because there is so much I could say, but I want to refrain from using ‘colourful’ language. When it comes to smoking, I am firmly in favour of more and more red tape, just so my life is not affected by those ignorant, arrogant prats who feel they have been ‘victimised’ because they have been sent outside to kill themselves.

Let us learn…

14 02 2008

Whilst trawling through the quite frankly petty debate that is occurring on both the BULS and BUCF blogs, one thought occurred to me more than anything else.

The sheer triviality of it all.

There was one quote though that stitched me up: “I will walk the streets until I am without shoes to ensure that a Conservative Government remains a thing of the past and never a thing of the future”. Right.

Yes. For the time being the Conservatives are a thing of the past. However, it is a fools hope that they will stay that way. Whether it be in a year, five years or ten years, I can predict with complete confidence that the Conservatives will be the governing party of Britain again. Just like I can predict that Labour will be in power again in the future too.

It’s called cyclical history. These things come round. If they didn’t change then we surely would have had the same government since the 1700’s. And as this is such a silly idea, I’m not going to entertain it further.

Holding out the hope that Labour can, effectively, monopolise the government to the stage whereby the Conservatives cannot ever hold out the hope of coming back into power is a painfully funny suggestion. Such a proposal, if to be taken seriously, would mean that we have a Labour controlled dictatorship (albeit a warped one whereby they were elected and there was a freedom of choice amongst the voters).

The petty fighting that is going on amongst the two groups- the future of each party nonetheless- is indicative of the way the politics is going. Personality politics is too much of an issue nowadays, and it detracts from the more important issues of exactly what either party can offer the people of Britain. And it is here where the problems lie. Neither side has anything ‘new’ and ‘substantial’ to offer voters. Labour, as the party in government, are churning out ‘common sense’ bills and laws, and are not (other than losing lots of data and mismanaging money) doing anything to really hack off the public. Consequently, the Conservatives are not able to offer anything to compete and they are stuck between a rock (of offering the same as Labour, albeit with a more charismatic leader) and a hard place (of offering more radical policies which may alienate the fickle middle ground voters).

This isn’t a healthy way for the country to be, I don’t think. But it was something of an inevitability of our party system (which, for all intents and purposes is a two party one) since the dawn of mass politics.

I’m left hoping that both sides will get back to trying to work out some sort of policy, rather than playing the personality card.

Blackadder: “We in the Adder party are going to fight this campaign on issues, not personalities”

Interviewer: “Why is that?”

Blackadder: “Because our candidate doesn’t have a personality”

Is this the way politics should really be?

Just another reason…

14 02 2008

My dislike of the american police force is growing daily. This, from yesterday’s news, just takes the biscuit though: