My Fascination With Other Cultures – World Peace Playing Itself Out On My Bedroom Wall

27 04 2010

As we grow up, we realize that some of the things we aspired to become as children won’t ever be possible for some reason or another. I am no different. I will never be a veterinarian because I’m terribly squeamish. I will never be a French teacher because, to be a French teacher you have to study copious amounts of French grammar, which I find no more interesting or enjoyable than sitting around studying English grammar. To put it another way, I’m thankful for many things – “spell check” is one of them. I have also determined that I will never become a diplomat, namely Secretary of State, as I wanted to be when I was young. Madeleine Albright is someone whom I have admired since she became Secretary of State. I was very young during the 1992 election but watching the campaign (the first one I really remember) got me thinking about “running for” First Lady as Hillary Clinton had. I didn’t realize that Hillary Clinton’s behavior during that election had a whole lot more to do with her as a person than it did with how one becomes First Lady. Ah, youthful naiveté. Once I realized that the only qualification for First Lady was marrying some guy who was elected president and when I saw how a First Lady was treated, I quickly decided that was not for me. The Secretary of State didn’t seem to get kicked around as much and it was a position which could affect real change in the world. Making the world a better appealed to me greatly. It still does and I’ve always taken quite an interest in politics, world events, social anthropology, and foreign policy but I’ll never have the qualifications or connections needed to be appointed Secretary of State. I mean, I have a B.A. in Theater and Media Arts – that’s not exactly dripping with diplomatic potential. There is also the fact that I’m not one to hold my tongue. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be a better choice than, say…

John Bolton - Two-Toned Walrus

him, but I don’t think I’d be at the top of anyone’s shortlist for the position.

 

Despite all of that, my interest in other cultures (and their politics) persists unabated. I suppose, all things considered, that I shouldn’t be surprised that my little paintings are taking on a multicultural feel. I blame it on Ovation TV running the entire art history miniseries This Is Civilization last week. (Yes, I am that much of an arts geek, thank you very much!) The first was a mhendi design

– not this one, but a mhendi design – a staple of my doodle repertoire – which I’ve already sketched out. But then islamic geometric patterns,

and Israeli hamsas,

and african designs (this one’s from Mali)

all looked quite inspiring. I’ve decided to do more looking into designs from different cultures and there is so much out there for me to enjoy and glean ideas from. The final project – all the little canvases together like a patchwork quilt on some sort of mounting which has yet to be designed – will be an interesting blend of modern and traditional styles… provided, of course, that I don’t ruin it or give up.





The Unbreakable Bond Between Bullshit and Politics

27 04 2010

Here in the US, it has become popular to deride the government as a haven of overpaid, out of touch, ignoramuses who are, rather than doing the good, honest work for the interests of those who elected them, spend their days in DC taking whatever piece of… cattle excrement… which is currently popular with their buddies on the same side of the political aisle, polishing it up ’till it’s all bright and shiny, and attempting to pass it off to the voting public as something far better than the pile of crap it really is. This is the sentiment driving the teaparty-ers, and, for that matter, the left-wing activists as well. Actually, if we’re honest, haven’t we all felt that way about the government at least a little bit in the recent past? Many politicians promise to “clean up Washington” and many have been elected on that platform. So many of us would love to see a bullshit-free political sphere.

But is that actually possible? I think not. In fact, I’m willing to go so far as to say that we need a little bullshit in our politics for it to function properly – sort of like DC’s very own yin yang theory.
I mean, how would anything get done without a little bullshit – “No, really, I’d loved to support this bill, except it was written by someone who’s not from my party, so that makes it entirely unacceptable and generally evil.” As much as we hate DC politicking now, it would be exponentially worse without all of the meaningless platitudes, forced smiles, paper-thin bipartisan partnerships and all of the other bullshit they do to make it look like they really are trying to work together. Nobody would be even close to electable. Take away all the “charisma” – a synonym for being able to bullshit the masses with ease – and politicians, by and large, are very much like overgrown, spoiled children – like that girl, Veruca, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

only older, greyer, and wealthier.
If, through some miracle, anyone was elected to any public office without the aid of bullshit, they’d have a hard time getting the public to buy into any legislation because they wouldn’t be able to hide the fact that nothing in life is free like they can now. We would plainly see all the good and bad and where the lobbyists had worked their magic and so on. Who would be able to stomach it? All of this is nothing more than the usual business. It’s gone on as long as this country has – deal-making isn’t a 21st century thing after all – but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a messy business indeed. I won’t even go into foreign policy sans bullshit. Diplomacy wouldn’t exist. Yes, without a little bullshit here and there, this country, and perhaps the world, would cease to exist as we know it. I therefore conclude that bullshit is an essential part of our political system.





My Idea for Israeli/Palestinian Peace Process – Uhhh, How ’bout Saying What You Really Mean?

17 04 2010

Let’s start off by clarifying a few things before you get all upset.

1. Am I “Anti-Israel”?
No. I don’t want to see Israel destroyed, but I also don’t believe that the Palestinian people have no right to exist.

2. Am I some dumb fool who believes that peace can happen overnight?
No. Peace takes a long time, so the sooner we get started, the better.

3. Since I’m not jewish or muslim, I obviously can’t care strongly enough about the issue and therefore have no right to an opinion, particularly one which I’ve made public.
This is the one that bothers me the most because I’ve had people – friends – say this to me in all seriousness and think that doing so is quite alright.

I'm not Hillary Clinton either, but I would strike the same pose at this point.

No, I’m not jewish. I’m not a muslim either, I’m agnostic. I don’t practice anything. I don’t have a problem with any individual who does until they start telling me what I do and do not have the right to think about and discuss. At that point, whether they know it or not, that individual and I have a big problem, and it has nothing to do with their religion and everything to do with their arrogance and pretension masked as piety.

Still not the Secretary of State. Just needed the pose again.


I hate to break this to them, but any sort of armed conflict in that region effects everyone and it doesn’t stop to make sure I have a personal stake in the matter before it messes with me. The way I see it, if the problems caused belong to everyone, the solution should too. Everyone should have a seat at the negotiating table whatever their religion or lack thereof.

So now that I’ve stated where I stand, what’s my idea?

HONESTY!

I don’t believe any of the public statements put out there by anyone – not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the US, not the UN, not anybody – and haven’t for quite a while. I would love for the Israelis, Palestinians, US, UN, League of Arab Nations, and any other groups involved in the peace process to meet somewhere and speak their minds. It wouldn’t be pretty, but we’d have a far better idea of how big a task the peace process actually is and who really wants it. For example, I don’t believe for one minute that Israel – the government, the people, all of it – wants a two-state solution. From a practical standpoint, they have no reason to want it. All they do is loose land. Many say they would gain an enemy, but I don’t see how. They’re already fighting the Palestinians, so the enemy would not be a new one. Speaking of the Palestinians, I think that they would like a two-state very much – it beats being a refugee in what was, at one time, your country – but they don’t want to appear weak by just talking over an agreement and then signing it. No, they want to fight tooth and nail for their peace. Unfortunately, no one has informed them that, to paraphrase an old expression, violence for the sake of peace is like promiscuity for the sake of virginity. It doesn’t work very well. The US and the League of Arab Nations are two sides of the same coin. Both have voices calling for peace within them, but there are strong loyalties within them linking the whole group to one side or the other. The Arab League of Nations will always back Palestine over peace and the US will never push for peace as hard as it pushes for Israel for a number of reasons, all political. The UN, if we’re honest, has lost much of its power. I wish it weren’t the case and I wish someone were able to put them on the path to becoming what they once were, but for now they serve one very important purpose – they condense, into one voice, world opinion and make that voice heard. While, traditionally, the world at large has had its issues with jewish people – that’s one reason why Israel was created in the first place – currently, the world voice is still calling for peace and a homeland for both peoples.

If everyone involved would say what was unpopular but true, maybe we’d get somewhere before the two sides start lobbing missiles at each other again. I’m glad we are still working on peace even though I complain about the process. We can work on disagreements, nihilism gets us nowhere.

If it’s news you’re after as opposed to my thoughts and opinions, this site follows the process very closely and does so fairly and honestly, I feel.





“Great” Moments on Modern Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the WTF of Political Photos – Part 2 The Bad – Beach Bum Edition

16 04 2010

It about that time again – bathing suit buying time and as many of us contemplate that torturous dressing room experience, here’s a little slice of schadenfreude courtesy of those people we’ve elected to public office.

Richard Nixon

Because it’s so easy to laugh at Nixon.

Winner of the award for Best Forced Smile.

Barack Obama

He borrowed the secret service guy’s shades.

Tony Blair

Hiding in the foliage?

Vladimir Putin

It’s funnier when you consider how sexy he thinks he is.

Nicolas Sarkozy

The only photo in which he’s taller than his wife… sort of.

Ronald Reagan

To be fair, he had to be at least 70 when this was taken. What’s Putin’s excuse?

Bill and Hillary Clinton

This was a stroke of Presidential genius. Why? Well, I don’t believe that nobody knew someone was taking pictures. I don’t want somebody to be able to get that close without permission without being tackled by a half-dozen secret service guys. If both Clinton’s weren’t aware, at least the President must have known and I can see why he would think twice about telling his wife. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt him, right? Still, he knows he’s a little fluffy around the middle so he turns to a flattering angle and uses his wife as, essentially, a human shield for his less-than-fit physique. Honestly, what would the pundits prefer to discuss – his tummy or his wife’s butt. Well done, Mr. Clinton!

Dubya

And that’s the closest I ever want to come to finding a photo of Dubya in a swimsuit!





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the WTF of Political Photos – Part 2 The Bad – Silly Faces Edition

10 04 2010

Enough with the nice stuff. It’s time for a montage of our world leaders not looking their best. There’s a wealth of material out there, but I’ve tried to be fair. I’ve tried to avoid, very successfully I feel, to avoid those dreaded “-isms” (sexism, ageism, there are so many -isms). If you find some “-ism” or other that I’ve missed, let me know. I posted good pictures of these people earlier. Now it’s time for some good-natured mockery. I’ve tried to be an equal-opportunity insulter, but people like the Clintons and Dubya had so many more pictures that it’s hard to not look like you’re bashing on them.

***I’m Smiling Because My Handlers Told Me To***
Every politician, no matter how nice they may seem, has a fake smile that they employ when they have to deal with throngs of people whom they do not know and will most likely never see again. So who has the best one?

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Somewhere along the way, someone told Hillary Clinton that she should smile like a cartoon character.

Apparently, they also told her to smile like a chipmunk. This is bad, but in an almost cute way.

Joe Biden

And remember, he’s just a heartbeat away from running the country. Does anyone else feel slightly less safe?

David Miliband

No comment. It’s just that bad.

Dubya

The Odd-Man-Out and no doubt on many levels.

Yulia Tymoshenko

Is anyone else reminded of The Sound of Music?

Rahm Emanuel

“A clue, Sherlock!”

Nicolas Sarkozy

“Je me sens joli. Ah, plus joli.” (Translation – “I feel pretty. Oh, so pretty.”)

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton: The Sometimes-Embarrassing Mom of US Politics.

And, my favorite,….
Dmitri Medvedev

сыр! (Translation – “Cheese!”)

***Pouting Is Such Sweet Sorrow***
Anyone who’s pouting looks funny. Political figures pouting is just that much more amusing.

Dubya

Door 1 : Dubya 0

Hillary Rodham Clinton

You know when someone says or does something dumb and you look at them and think “Idiot!” That’s the look.

Barack Obama

“What did the Vice President say now?”

Sarah Palin

That’s advanced level pouting. Nicely done!

Barack Obama

Pouty POTUS.

Angela Merkel

“Er hat gesagt was?!” (Translation – “He said what?!”)

And the King of the Political Pout…
Bill Clinton

Awwww, poor baby!

***Politics FAIL***
This is what happens when the mask of political poise slips just as you’re thinking “Oh, damn!”

John McCain and Ted Kennedy

John McCain and the late Ted Kennedy listening to Joe Biden.

Dubya

One “Bush-ism” too many in that speech.

Bill Clinton

The international gesture of “Not my fault”.

David Miliband

LOL. Just LOL.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

“Ok, I’m gonna grab Bill’s butt now.”

Barack Obama and Joe Biden

Facepalm in 3… 2… 1…

Gordon Brown and Tony Blair

I don’t know who said what, but it looks like it was bad.

Angela Merkel

This was almost my pick, but my choice for this category is…

Hillary Rodham Clinton

because it’s so bad it’s almost endearing and nearly almost cute which is an accomplishment considering the subject. “Cute” and “endearing” aren’t words usually used to describe her.

Un-curb Your Enthusiasm
Running countries and so on is important work, but it can also be tiring.

Bill Clinton

Somebody tell him that looking like that isn’t helping her.

Gordon Brown

I’m not sure if Prime Minister Brown is bored or if that’s his usual expression.

Bill Clinton

Is she holding his hand to keep him from escaping?

Vladimir Putin

Mentally counting up all the places he’d rather be.

Bill Clinton

He simply can’t sit still and be quiet for long periods of time, can he?

Dubya

Nap time.

Bill Clinton

This man has made looking bored an art form, but my favorite bored politician picture is…

Diane Feinstein

Stop talking and let the poor thing go home!

You Can See The Wheels In There Turning
It’s entertaining to watch those with power trying to not look confused when they are… and failing.

David Miliband

Secretary Clinton seems to have no trouble enjoying her maple taffy at a G8 meeting in Quebec Canada, but Foreign Minister Miliband appears to be have been completely flummoxed by the snack food.

Dubya

“Uhhhhhhhhh….”

Hillary Rodham Clinton

“I didn’t just forget my speech. Nope. Not me.”

Joe Biden

Forget something, Joe?

Hillary Rodham Clinton

The (momentarily lost) Secretary of State.

David Miliband

“Huh? Did someone say ‘banana’?”

Dubya

Dubya’s attempt at diplomacy.

David Miliband

“Hmmmmmm……”

Bill Clinton

“Hillary, Sugar, what was I supposed to say again?”

Joe Biden

Mental Vacation.

And now to crown the King of Confusion
Dubya

Honestly, who else could it be?

What?!
Because sometimes even they’re caught by surprise.

John McCain

This type of shot makes me nervous. We’re sure he’s ok, right?

Hillary Rodham Clinton

“What?!”

Nancy Pelosi

I didn’t think her face could show that much expression.

Nicolas Sarkozy

“Ce n’etait pas moi!” (It wasn’t me!”)

Dubya

“Naw!”

Barack Obama

That face is great!

Dubya and John McCain

CPAC unveils the Rush Limbaugh swimsuit calendar.

I can’t decide which of these photo I prefer, but the subject of both is the same.

Joe Biden

In all honesty, is there a more amusing person in DC?

Laughing With You
See? No hard feelings.

Dubya

David Miliband

George H. W. Bush

Bill Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton

Gordon Brown

Angela Merkel and Silvio Berlusconi

Joe Biden

Isn’t it nice to see everyone getting along?

Posted for Still4Hill.








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