Tag Archives: politics

Ding dong

I went to see a Pieter Dirk Uys live performance last night.  Pieter Dirk Uys is a brilliant South African performer who uses satire to comment on current social and political issues.  He is greatly loved by South Africans because of his brilliant humour and the fact that he’s never shied away from pointing out injustice, hipocrisy and incompetence, no matter who the target is.  He was openly critical of the Apartheid government, which was known for silencing critics through any means, and he is openly critical of the incompetencies and corruption in the current government.  He is well known for his impersonations of politicians and other dignitaries, including PW Botha, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.

In last night’s show he brought back many favourite characters, including Margaret Thatcher.  His impersonation of her is splendid; he gets the voice and accent just right.  To introduce the character, he sang “Ding dong, the witch is dead.”  This is a song we’ve been hearing a lot lately in connection with her passing.  There has even been a campaign to push it to the top of the music charts.

I confess that I am a little taken aback by all this vitriol being aimed at a dead woman.  I understand that many people don’t agree with what she said and did, and that some of her policies were very controversial.  But she was not an evil, malicious or selfish person.  She didn’t become a politician because she wanted to be rich and famous, and she didn’t use her office to enrich or in other ways benefit herself, as so many other politicians seem to do.  She was an honest, hardworking individual who loved her country and dedicated her life to making it a better place for everyone.

Not everyone agreed with her policies, but people seem quick to forget that the British economy was basically dying when she took office, and she pretty much saved it.  From the way people were dancing in the streets after her death, you could be excused for thinking she was some kind of monster dictator who ruined the country before being overthrown, rather than someone who was elected to her post three times through a transparent democratic process.

This New York Times article does a better job than I could of listing her many accomplishments.  I am a Liberal at heart, and don’t agree with many of the things she believed.  I certainly don’t approve of everything she did.  But I look at her life and I see someone I can admire, someone who lived her life with passion, dignity, courage and honour and who changed the world in many ways, many of them for the better.  I would much rather celebrate her life than her death.

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Go read this, it’s hilarious

I came across this awesome piece by Ron Hauge in the New Yorker.  It’s about what the Garden of Eden would look like if it were run by Republicans.  My favourite bits:

In the beginning the LORD created the Heavens and the Earth, featuring a handful  of small but helpful lands offshore. On the sixth day He built Adam by Himself,  requiring not any government assistance.

Woman was made vice-president of Man’s corporation and for her an office was  constructed with a ceiling made of glass.

Eve was condemned to a lifetime of painful childbirth with no exception for the  health of the mother.

Being better

Sitting in a restaurant in an upmarket area of Joburg with a friend last week, she made the comment that we seemed to be surrounded by rich people, and that it was making her feel intimidated.  Why do we feel like having more money makes you a better person?

What does it mean to be better than someone else?  I think this is a meaningless concept.  Someone can be richer than you, more attractive than you, more intelligent, more charming, have more friends, be more virtuous, etc. but does any of these qualities equate to being somehow better, or more worthy?

The all-too-easy to forget fact is that while people like to believe they are responsible for their own success, this is seldom true.  Most of us are simply a product of the opportunities available to us as a result of the time and place we were born in.  I am healthy, intelligent, attractive, educated, well-read and well-travelled.  For this I have to thank my parents for the gift of their genetic material and for being white, educated and middle-class in a time and place when being so meant you could raise your children to the life I am currently living.

Although I didn’t squander my opportunities, I also cannot boast to have made the best possible use of them.  I did not rise from the middle classes to become a captain of industry, a ground-breaking scientific researcher, a famous novelist or artist.

The same can be said of most of the people we meet.  I wish someone would tell the Republicans, the Tories and the Conservatives that.

Don’t worry kids, I have the solution right here..

Apparently the ANC Women’s League feel that women aren’t ready to lead out country.  At least, so says Clara Ndlovu, Mpumalanga provincial secretary.  She used this statement to justify the Women’s League’s support of President Jacob Zuma for another term as ANC president.  Spokesperson Troy Martens, trying to put Ndlovu’s comments into context, promptly proceeded to add insult to injury:

“We say the time is not right currently, not because we don’t have capable leaders, and we believe South African society is maturing to a point where being led by a woman is acceptable.  However, the women’s league currently needs to assist in healing and unifying the organisation and we believe at this point continuity will assist in achieving this goal, rather than bringing another candidate to the fore and creating further rifts in our organisation.”

Some people may find this to be a depressing sign of just how long a way women still have to go in this country.  I say, nonsense!  Why do we need women when we can have cats?!?  Look at Hank the Cat, who came third in the Virginia Senate race.  Hank decided that in these troubled times he had no choice but to stand for office.  Hank has always been a fighter:

Born to a single mother living on the streets, Hank, his mother, and his siblings were taken to an animal shelter and sat on death row.  Shortly before their execution, Hank and the rest of his family were saved by an animal rescue group called Animal Allies.  Hank was adopted to a loving family, and was raised by his adopted brother Sammy. 

Being from the streets and having nothing, Hank learned the value of hard work.  Putting himself through school while working, Hank was simply too stubborn and driven to let his disadvantages dictate his future.  After graduating with honors, Hank quickly entered the business world and brought himself up to start and run a number of successful local companies.

Hank’s story and dedication have inspired all who know him, and he realized that his ideas and unique life experiences could help his community, his state, and his country.  After much encouragement, Hank decided to enter the race for US Senate.

Hank even managed to garner the essential celebrity endorsement – on 30 August Homer the Blind Wonder Cat, star of the New York Times bestseller Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, endorsed Hank for senate.  Not surprisingly, Virginia dogs felt so threatened by his bid that they moved to form a dog super-PAC, which wasted no time in releasing the obligatory attack-ad:

Hank, an independent, won 6,000 votes, coming third after Democrat Timothy M Kaine (1.9million votes) and Republican George F Allen (1.7million votes).  Hank’s website is worth a visit.  He blames his defeat on Duverger’s Law, the first part of which states that “a plurality-rule election system tends to favor a two-party system”.  Yes, Hank is no one’s fool, and his site is well worth a visit for the articles.

The good news is that I have two little home-grown candidates right here.  They are sleeping down by my feet at this very moment, in fact.  If we can’t get a half-way decent candidate to stand for office in this country, and let’s face it, we haven’t managed it yet, then I say it’s time to look to our cats!  At least then the worst we’ll have to look forward to will be the inquiry into where the dead mouse that’s stinking up the house was hidden.

Four more years!

I burst into tears this morning while listening to Romney’s concession speech.  And then again while listening to Obama’s victory speech.  It was like the world was breathing a collective sigh of relief all day long.

I keep on telling myself the Republicans won’t be able to win another election after this, not unless they do a complete 180.  They’ve completely alienated women, people of colour, lgbt people, anyone, in fact, who is not an old white man.  And I don’t think they can win them back.  Let’s hope.

Getting really real

David Frum, formerly special assistant to George W Bush, has a must-read piece at CNN.  He discusses the abortion debate currently raging in America from a point of view that I’ve neve heard anyone else talk about before.  If American law-makers want to force women to have a baby they’ve been impregnated with against their will (and many of them seem to be leaning this way), are they going to pay for it?  Is the state going to pay for the massively expensive pre-natal care and birth?  Are they going to support the child financially?

The point is an excellent one and is compounded by the fact that American women do not enjoy the same work-place protections many of us in the rest of the world take for granted.  So after being raped, many unfortunate women can look forward to losing their job and having to pay for the medical care of their attacker’s offspring.  I’m struggling to think of anything quite as monstrous right now.