Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

politics and religion

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Conservative thinker, writer and blogger Andrew Sullivan today posted a fantastic analysis of the impact of religionism and specifically christianism on the current Republican party. He states where it has been a force for good and a force for not so good in clear and rational terms (easy for me to say because I agree with him on it). Well worth a read.

google bomb

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

You may be familiar with the term “google bomb” – it’s basically where people manipulate the ranking of certain web pages by linking to words on that page, thereby making it more likely that a Google search will return that page. Examples in the past meant that googling “liar” would return links to pages about Tony Blair.

And here’s one from today – a search for “failure” (click picture for a clearer view):

George Bush Failure

bigotry update

Monday, March 19th, 2007

There’s an article on the BBC today about opposition politicians in the UK accusing the government of “rail-roading” the legislation banning discrimination by businesses or services against gay people. These enlightened rules have caused considerable outrage from the Roman Catholic Church (as noted on this site previously) who say that it will cause them problems:

[T]he Catholic Church says it will have to shut its [adoption] agencies, which handle some of the most difficult-to-place children, after that – rather than go against its beliefs.

Well I for one am glad to see that their beliefs against gays would be more important than their beliefs of looking after children (and why do they say that they handle the most difficult-to-place children?) Nice call, Roman Catholic Church! Hooray for you!

poverty in india

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

One of the first things you notice when you arrive in India is the poverty – it hits you very hard. Associated with that is the crumbly infrastructure – even as you get off the plane you don’t see the sleek new air terminals you might expect from news reports of a country which is an economic powerhouse, instead there is flaking paint, confusing signage, haphazard security and dimly lit hallways. After a day or two you could get blinded by the more modern facilities – the hotels, offices and restaurants I went to while I was there appeared to be extremely clean and new, but there’s always the catch and the things which remind you that you are most definitely in a still-developing country.

So I was interested to see this article where the Indian Finance minister aims to “end poverty by 2040″. Obviously that’s a highly laudible goal, and I hope that they make progress in this area. However just “ending poverty” I don’t think is as easy as making sure everyone has more money. With that we’re likely to see more and more people wanting cars, bringing even more congestion on the roads, if such a thing were possible; more people wanting more space to live in; resentment as the country continues to be “new” and lose touch with the past; and more use of energy and therefore more pollution. So it’ll have to be done carefully.

Then there’s what is in my opinion one of the hugest hurdles of all – the quality of water. The reminders I alluded to at the end of the first para of this post were mainly around water. As a visitor you’re constantly being reminded not to drink tap water, keep your mouth closed in the shower, use bottled water for brushing your teeth, don’t eat food which will have been washed (such as salad or fruit you wouldn’t peel). I would guess that locals are more used to the water than occasional visitors, but even so surely water-borne disease must be a huge impact on the health and economic viability of individuals, local communities and the whole country.

non discrimination

Monday, January 29th, 2007

I read with approval today that Tony Blair has firmly stated that faith based groups will not get an exemption from anti-discrimination laws, specifically as they relate to adoption by gay couples in the UK. I’m obviously not a gay person living in the UK, but it seems to me that for all their flaws the Blair government have done more to legislate for the rights for gay people in Britain than any previous government. I’m sure there’s still a long way to go, but the view from afar seems like it’s a lot better than ten years ago, and certainly than the situation in America.

I also appreciate that he sent a strong message to the Catholic Church (and an implicit slap-down to the UK Anglican Church’s bizarre support of the Catholics here). I see no reason why a group (faith-based or otherwise) should have an exemption from anti-discrimination laws of a country. If the Church or, say, a business wanted an exemption from tax laws or labor laws or whatever we wouldn’t stand for it would we? So why should they have gotten an exemption in this case?

she slimed him

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

It’s not often I feel sorry for President Bush. But this video of extra-right-wing harpy and generally unpleasant Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann clutching, stroking and pretty much head-locking the President is quite repulsive – the woman behaves, as our local paper described it, like a schoolgirl. Yeuch.

taken to task

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Today’s White House Briefing in the Washington Post is a litany of Bush-bashing in the media. Once again I say: for all the people outside of America who think that Americans are all for the current president, read the article. Pretty sour stuff.

On the plus side it contains a great simile: “Vice President Dick Cheney, looking as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”

prints charming

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

My friend Robin has just fixed his blog feed so you can read it from your blog reader of choice. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying catching up on his news.

However, one thing I took slight umbrage (yes! umbrage!) to his description of a visit to the US and the security there. I do agree with his points about the social impacts of over-security and the scary implications of so much data (including fingerprints) being stored on people. He describes all this as “the brutal, hostile reception Americans give visitors”. Allow me to suggest that this is a tad strong. I wasn’t with him when he had his bag checked at the New York Met museum, so can’t vouch for that kind of brutality or hostility, but I like to think that on the whole Americans are generally welcoming to visitors (at least visitors from Western Europe who don’t have dark skin).

But generally this is a cultural thing and a matter of what you’re used to. There are certain things I’ve experienced in Britain which come as a bit of a shock after being away and then returning. For example when you go into a shop in the UK it’s very rare for the store assistants to greet you or even acknowledge your existence, let alone offer to help you buy stuff. Also when I’ve paid for things, it’s been very common for checkout staff to examine my money for fake bills, holding the paper money up to the light, using counterfeit detection pens etc. I’m not suggesting that these things are in any way brutal (although how brutal can you be when you’re checking someone’s bag in the entry to a museum?) but they do come across as being hostile and over-suspicious to someone not used to them.

more election stuff

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

One of the reasons I’m feeling the way I am about yesterday’s election is that the electorate are finally taking their legislators to task for their performance: Exit polls: Bush, Iraq key to outcome. Yes it’s been a while coming but it has finally happened.

A thing to note about the magnitude of the change in hands in Congress – the congressional district borders are generally updated every 10 years to reflect changing populations. One of the reasons incumbents are so rarely unseated is that the ruling party has major sway in setting these borders, so you see some very strangely shaped districts, reflecting established voter types. For example urban, generally liberal voters will be kept away from diluting suburban more conservative voters. The fact that the Dems overturned over 28 seats (needing 15 to take a house majority) indicates that the change in political feeling is very much across the board.

election round-up

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Sort of a round-up, maybe a collection of random thoughts:

On the whole, Minnesota went very Democrat. Our pick for senator, Amy Klobuchar, won in something of a landslide (and is the first elected woman Senator from this state). We elected Congress’s first ever Muslim representative. The state house and senate, after being Republican three years ago, are now both solidly Democrat. Our Republican governor won by a squeak, but that’s probably a good thing for checks and balances. We did elect a raving loony fundamentalist, literalist Christian, creationist, anti-gay Republican congresswoman, but my take is that this isn’t so bad, because she’ll now be out of Minnesota most of the time, and will be trying to make noise in a big town as a member of a national minority party, so she won’t be around to try to push for state constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage.

I was shocked to see that our neighboring state, Wisconsin, passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, even as they elected a Democrat governor and senator.

An amusingly sad stat of the night – we noticed that in one state-level race, with 100% of the ballot counted one candidate had no votes at all. This means that for some reason he didn’t even vote for himself, and nor did his mom. Is this maybe how Bush is feeling today? Breaking news is that Donald Rumsfeld has finally resigned: