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It’s like heroin, baby

17 Jun

It’s all over the news. The oil spill. More like an oil deluge. We all feel bad. We all sit at our desks, working, typing away while watching the latest news unfold about it. We shake our heads and place the blame—BP.  “This is their fault.” “They need to do something about it.”  We say things like “what a tragedy” and go on with our lives. The world watches and places more blame. From Obama to the little guy trying to do his job to fuel the world. To the people who lost their lives. We all place the blame. But we don’t stop to think who is really to blame:

OURSELVES

That’s right. You heard me. We are the ones to blame. Our big SUVs, trucks, cars, the constant need to drive everywhere even it is just down the street.  We have become dependent on oil. We consume it like candy.    It is our drug of choice. We spend money for it. We buy accessories for it and spin around in parking lots for it. We drive on sunny days for hours to show off.  We defend the use of it. We are even killing for it—each other, animals, the environment. It’s the worlds drug of choice.  We are addicted. It’s like heroin. We need more and more. We can’t get enough. Eventually, it will kill us. We reject the rehabilitation plans. We don’t think there is a problem. We think Ed Begley, Jr. is a nut case because he drives around in an electric car while we freely give our money to the the drug lords. We worship at their feet and beg for more.  We accept their excuses for price increases because we need their products

As much as I want to blame BP and other companies like them, it isn’t just their fault.  So go ahead and place the blame if it will make you sleep better at night. If it will help you forget about the lives that have been lost, the animals that are dead,  the environment that is ruined. If it will help you forget about the oil guzzling machine you drive 3 blocks to work. Just remember,  when you get in your big ass SUV and drive home from work or to the grocery store; that mess in the gulf? It’s your fault too.

Hazel Blears says ‘newspapers no substitute for town criers’

3 May
I took this picture of Hazel Blears in March 2...Image via Wikipedia

“In a clear reference to the prime minister, who has been ridiculed for his appearance on YouTube, the strongly Blairite cabinet minister says such use of ‘new media’ by politicians is far less effective than old-fashioned campaigning. ‘YouTube if you want to,’ she says in an article in today’s Observer. ‘But it is no substitute for knocking on doors or setting up a stall in the town centre.’ “
Hazel Blears savages Gordon Brown over ‘lamentable’ failures – The Guardian

While I agree with the central point Ms Blears is trying to make – that politicians need to reconnect with voters – I do think she is denigrating the use of new technology unnecessarily. As other politicians have shown, it can be a valuable tool in the political process. And it’s one that will only become more so.

Every year thousands of teenagers who don’t really remember a world without social media become eligible to vote. Of course, talking to them is incredibly important. At the same time, given the choice between reading a pamphlet handed out in the street, or watching a video on YouTube, they are nearly always going to choose the latter. The same is true of many older people who make up a significant percentage of users on many networks. A leaflet is easily discarded, if someone has gone to the trouble of clicking a link they are likely view at least a small part of the content the page contains.

To dismiss new methods of campaigning as less effective is very short-sighted; in effect it’s giving up the chance to reach people who would not have accepted a leaflet, or talked on their doorstep. It would negate their chance to make an informed vote by denying them the opportunity to hear a range of opinions. While some might argue that these people should take advantage of more traditional methods, I disagree. If they expect us to make the effort to vote for them, politicians should reach out to us using the mediums of our choice!

To come back to my earlier statement; I can see Ms Blears’ point, but if new media has proved ineffective, it is not because people don’t want to engage with it. It’s because it has been used ineffectively.With the exception of some governmental and political Twitter accounts and the e-petitions site, Labour-style new media has been all about them talking at us, there is little interaction which is contrary to it’s whole ethos. It’s supposed to be a conversation, but I haven’t noticed much dialogue.

Obama and Hillary in Pennsylvania

22 Apr

The Obama/Clinton machine rolls onto a much sought pugilistic moment, the April 22 Primary in Pennsylvania.

Could Clinton have ever imagined having to fight this hard, so late in the race for the Democratic candidacy? She thought she was a lock, and would have it all wrapped up by Super Tuesday if not before.

Could Obama have imagined that he would get soft soaped by the media just long enough for his inspirational message to resonate with American voters?

And even now, as the two candidates twist and turn, name calling and underwriting why one another are not capable of holding the highest political office in the world (which is why this is relevant for people like myself, an African), one has to ask: has it been worth it?

Has the Democratic Party of the United States done itself any favours by allowing this battle to rage on?

Admittedly the media exposure has been great, and the campaign war chest has been phenomenal, probably far larger than anything a single candidate could have raised in battling John McCain.

But with the race and fight turning bitter (there is THAT word again) and nasty to ever increasing degrees by the day, will either candidate be able to present their platforms as something fresh and positive come election day in November?

All this time, the Republican election machine is able to study and collect ‘mind bullets’ to fire at either candidate once one is chosen. Is it still too late to ask for a compromise candidate, like, let’s say (since its Earth Day and all…) Al Gore? To really throw this election into the cement mixer of chaos?

Democracy is a funny thing, and American democracy is a very 18th century version at times. Perhaps the Democratic candidates have engorged themselves too much on the blood and fat of the cable news channels. Americans think that they know John McCain, as they think they know the Democratic candidates, but only once the two party race begins, after the Democrat horse trading has ended, will the true dirt get dug up on all sides.

As for today… the polls say Clinton has it.

I can’t help wishing there is a surprise on the day, if for no other reason then to end this primary race by letting Obama take it. I’m tired of the opening comedy act, someone please bring on the band!

Self awareness

22 Oct

According to the BBC

A senior US state department official has said that the US has shown “arrogance and stupidity” in Iraq.

Oh really? Do you think? This at least shows the beginnings of hope flickering. Acknowledging one’s mistakes is the first step on the road to putting them right.