Too Much Politics Before Bed?

31 03 2010

I didn’t sleep well last night and then, when I finally did doze off, I had the weirdest dream. In my dream I woke up and, as usual, turned on BBC for my morning dose of world news… only we didn’t get BBC anymore. That displeased me. The only news I channel available was FOX and the anchors there were a buzz with news from DC. Apparently, the Secretary of State had pissed off the world – I mean the WHOLE world – and we were waiting to see if the administration would do something to try to fix things or we were most definitely going to war… with the world. Israel was the only country not ready to take up arms against us, but not because they supported us, they were just waiting until Passover ended. Oh, by the way, The Secretary of State was John Bolton.
Yep, that John Bolton.

I was well aware that at some time in the recent past I had fallen asleep and it had been a far safer planet and the two-toned walrus was not in any position to cause any international catastrophes. I have no idea who the president was in my dystopia, but they were obviously a moron. I tried to search for some information online to figure out what had happened between then and now and for how long I’d Rip Van Winkle-ed, but when I tried I got a message saying something to the tune of ” due to you questionable patriotism, you can’t search this site.” Now I was an enemy of the state too?! I decided that this was all far too ridiculous and went back to bed pulling the covers over my head. Then I woke up.

I have my problems with the administration. I have my problems with the policy and actions of the current Secretary of State, but at least I’m not going to get blown to Kingdom Come due to anything Hillary Rodham Clinton has said or done. All things considered, I’d rather have her on the job

than him.

And so concludes Story Time in C# Minor.





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – The Secretary of State – Flirting for World Peace

26 03 2010

There are plenty of words that come to mind when I think of our current Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton – intelligent, successful, tough, wealthy, …headbands, …pantsuit, …Bubba, ect… Anyway, one that I never thought of was “flirt” – until she became Secretary of State. Now she’s cuddlier with her colleagues than she is with her husband. Sorry, Bill!

A look at all the Secretary’s men.

Joe Biden, the current Vice President, is the person within this administration who I most enjoy hearing about on the news. Why? Because when you hear “Vice President Joe Biden” come out of a news anchor’s mouth, there’s a 93% chance that what will follow it will be amusing to one degree or another and with so much unhappy news out there I like it when a story makes me smile. He meets regularly with the Secretary of State and, apparently, they get alone quite well. I read someplace that they’re actually close friends. Whether or not she’s flirting or being flirted with is up for debate, but every time there’s a photo of the two of them, they look like they’re having a good time.




David Miliband is the British foreign minister and much has been made of the “crush” between he and the Secretary of State ever since she gushed over him in the US edition of Vogue. The Secretary of State is obviously very committed to maintaining the “special relationship” between the UK and the US.




The other special relationship, between the US and Israel, has also received some extra attention, though once again I’m not sure if Secretary Clinton wasn’t simply the recipient of the flirtation in this instance. Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, gave her flowers and a few kisses when she visited Israel in March 2009.

She seems to have a good time with many of her male colleagues. I’m not sure if it’s her celebrity status or if the reports we’ve been hearing for years of her being aloof and frigid are all wrong, but they seem to really enjoy her company.


Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister


Javier Solana, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy


Wouldn’t you love to know what was so funny?

Most recently, and most overtly, Secretary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi shared a laugh and a near-snuggle after a bilateral meeting at the State Department.

Makes one wonder what was in her glass. Also, when you think about it…

…after a few vodka tonics… he might sort of looks like…

Put the glass down, Madame Secretary! We don’t need a nuclear-armed sex scandal! Finish up your work and go home where – depending on the day of the week, state of the world, and appearance schedules – someone just might be waiting… maybe.

**** I like the last picture because, while is isn’t the best shot of either of them, it seems more genuine than many other shots taken of them. I also think it’s interesting that one of their more “candid” pictures was taken in a huge crowd of people. For those of you who disagree with my original picture choice, and since I was trying to be complimentary, here’s a better picture.****

And I just found these.





Beware the Righteous Indignation of Asshats – When “Tea Party” Meets WWF

22 03 2010

Ok. At 11:something pm Sunday, the healthcare reform bill passed the house 219-212. That isn’t in any way an opinion or me being an evil, liberal, ideological, [insert string of politically motivated invectives here], it’s a fact. I like some things about the bill. I don’t like some things about the bill. That’s not what I’m here to fuss about at the moment. I’m here to fuss about wingnut asshats, however, I feel I must first define the term asshat. This definition is from Wikitionary.com and can be found here

Asshat – n. From the slang expression having one’s head up one’s ass, thus, wearing the ass as a hat.

Now that we all know what the word means, let’s look at some current events. Vandals broke windows at the offices of some Democratic Representatives and one Democratic Committee headquarters in New York’s Monroe county. In one of these incidents, a message tied to the brick used to break the window quoted Barry Goldwater’s 1964 speech at the GOP convention – “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” I don’t know about you, but I find that statement frightening, not patriotic. Also, there are reports of racial and anti-gay slurs being directed at democratic members of Congress and the Senate. Apparently some of the representatives were spat at as well. Let’s hear it for civil discourse. While I’m on the topic of civility, I have to also point out the misdeeds of the left as well for the sake of fairness and because this is equal to the others in terms of the capacity this story has to leave me asking “what the hell are people thinking?” Back in September, at a healthcare bill rally in Thousand Oaks, CA, a anti-healthcare bill had his fingertip bitten off during a fist fight with one of the bill’s supporters. I do believe in the right to protest and that dissent is the highest form of patriotism, but spitting, biting, and busting out windows are things I can not condone. That is not dissent. That is not protest. It is pure thuggery committed by hyper-political, over zealous asshats. I do hope that incidents like these stop, but I’m not overly optimistic. Knock it off, people!





My Quest for Books…

18 03 2010

… is unending and increasingly difficult. Allow me to explain.

I like books NOBODY reads.

Life would be so much more simple if I enjoyed those ever-present romance novels with the half-naked, kilt-clad, long-haired men on the cover, but by and large, I’m not a fan. Don’t get me wrong, every now and then I’ll pick one up, but I really have to be in the mood for a paper-thin plot and gratuitous euphemisms for body parts. I prefer more substantive reading – philosophy, biographies – most of them international political figures and even more of them liberal in ideology, and fiction thats plot can’t be summed up in diagrams. This all sounds easy enough to find and it was until I decided to complicate my life by reading in Italian and French. I’ve studied French, though not very seriously, for many years and I have a reasonable amount of skill with Italian – mostly thanks to my study of music but I did take some classes. If, and given my current financial status that is a huge if, I ever have the slightest hope of furthering my educational goals by studying for my Master’s and possibly even contemplating a Ph. D in my chosen field of music history, I have to be able to read and understand German, French, and/or Italian. Teaching myself German – the written language and grammar as well as the spoken word – seems like too much to ask, so I’ve decided to continue with what trained teachers have started. I have always been better at reading than writing and worlds better at both of those than I am at speaking, so this task is not as hard as it sounds. I had talked about my musically based goals with Tony Amato, the artistic director of the Amato Opera Company, before it closed and he suggested that, before spending a bunch of money to relearn things I have already been taught, I should buy a few books – even if I have to start with children’s books – in Italian and French and read them. He said that, at the very least, I would be able to better gauge my skill level so I didn’t sign up for the wrong class. That all sounds great, but there’s one problem with this blissfully simple plan – where do you find books in the US that aren’t in English, Spanish, or Japanese?
English and Spanish are spoken everywhere and Japanese is “the cool language” to study, (Yes, I have heard it described that way.) but finding books written in French and more so with those in Italian – even on Amazon.com – is a lesson in patience coupled with a dose of luck. Once you find them, they’re also expensive which is no fun. Amazon.fr (French Amazon) is well-stocked and has good prices, but shipping costs are kind of high since it’s an international order and it takes a while. I found one site – IBS.it – that specializes in Italian books, but it’s expensive and also an international order. In short, this is proving harder than I’d first anticipated. That’s why my quest is now a blog post. I figured that if anyone happens to read this, maybe that someone might be able to point me in the direction of some livres and romanzi. Let me know if you have a possible source.

I’ll also see if there are any well-stocked international bookstore in Manhattan that carry French and Italian contemporary fiction – my quarry of choice. I can think of three Japanese bookstores, but none that stock any western european languages other than Spanish which, as I mentioned before, is everywhere. I would love a trip to the city and books are as good an excuse as any.





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – the Good, the Bad, and the WTF of Political Photos – Part 1 The Good

18 03 2010

A politician’s image and appearance has been important ever since the 1960 “Great Debate” between JFK and Richard Nixon. Now we live in a world with a constant stream of news on every possible topic. More and more getting involved in politics means giving over nearly every aspect your life to the prying eyes and scrutinizing words of the public at large. Occasionally, a photo comes into existence, whether from an organized shoot or a well-timed candid, the makes you look so fabulous it almost hurts. Then there are those with make you wish to burn every copy of a newspaper within miles and somehow instigate a cable strike. Finally there are those rare gems that are so blatantly bad for your image that even you have to throw your head back and laugh because they are that funny.

Incidentally, yes this was meant to be one big post – the good, the bad, and the WTF – but there was too much good material out there. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. Also, I’m trying to be nice (for a change) and post at least one good picture of anyone I’m posting bad ones of later.

THE GOOD

Looking Like a Leader
Usually these photos involve flags, a sturdy and well-ornamented desk, official seals, government buildings, or some combination of those items. It works best if you’re really photogenic, but even if you’re not you might get one good one. I don’t really have much to snark at with these photos. Don’t worry. You won’t be without my witty repartee for long.


Barack Obama


Ronald Reagan


Bill Clinton


David Miliband, current UK Foreign Minister


Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under George W. Bush


Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State


Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton


Rahm Emanuel


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (He always looks scary!)


George W. Bush – known on this blog as “Dubya”

Looking Like an Affable Everyman/woman
If you don’t necessarily have the camera’s love on your side that doesn’t mean that your political career is over – in fact it’s often said that politics is show business for ugly people – you just have to find your look. To be honest, the “everyman” or “everywoman” isn’t so much a look as it is a required persona. Think about it. Just look back at the 2008 presidential election and point out the “average” candidate. None of them were middle class by any stretch of the imagination. They’re all rather wealthy to one extent or another. Many had been in national politics for decades. None of them are average or “normal” and yet that is how they have to look, so they show off their spouses, children, and pets, get photographed in t-shirts, baseball caps, and jeans, and say and do thing they think the rest of us say and do – with varying degrees of success. Think of Michelle Obama’s (very successful) fist-bump. When in doubt, hold someone’s baby. That usually works and I’ve expounded upon here


Not much to say really. It’s adorable.


Talk about familial! Nancy Pelosi with her husband and her new grandchild. So sweet it could give you a cavity.


The presidents Bush leaving a small church after services with their wives.


This is Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. While he certainly doesn’t look like an “everyman”, he does look very affable.

What is it about a dog that makes the person with it look so much better than they otherwise would.

Joe Biden and his puppy make a much better picture than the Vice President does on his own.


Is Nixon actually smiling?! Maybe it’s just gas.

There’s a line one has to tread carefully with regards to taking pictures with one’s spouse because you want to appear loving, like Tony and Cherie Blair, and generally want to avoid looking too sexy…

unless your last name is Clinton, apparently.

That’s bordering on too hot for the evening news! I know now that it was taken by Harry Benson but I don’t remember when that picture came out, so when I found it, it took me a minute to figure who was in the picture. I still have trouble believing that woman is Hillary Clinton.

I found this picture from 2004 vaguely reminiscent though (thankfully) far less deserving of a “Do not disturb” sign.

And there they go again. What’s stranger yet is that they’re either like this or awkwardly patting each other on the shoulder.

Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni are known for being very affectionate in public, but they are also French, so I think the rules of political PDA are different for them. This shot is very nice.

Commander and Chief
Visiting military personnel makes most politicians look good.


That’s Gordon Brown, current UK Prime Minister.


This is Angela Merkel, current Chancellor of Germany.


Yes, this is a bit older than the photos I usually use, but it’s a bit of family history. My dad was one of the sailors there. I’m not sure if he’s in the shot or not – I’ll have to ask him. I just thought it was cool.

It’s All About the Beauty of the Moment
Occasionally, some photographer will come along and, even if you are not in the least bit photogenic, they will work their magic and you will look fabulous. Sometimes it’s a big moment, a state dinner or something, but sometimes it’s just the way the light hits you. When something like this happens there is nothing to do but thank your lucky stars.


Bill Clinton is a man who tends to fairly look good in photos. His wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, does not share his luck in that department and never has. She usually looks mediocre at best, but it’s not all bad news though because, when she does take a good photo, it’s a really good one.


I love this so much about this shot – the candles, the lighting, the serene yet intense look she has on her face. It’s really lovely. This one it good, too. She looks so young in this picture. If I hadn’t found it today, I’d have thought in was from her time as First Lady.


This was all about the moment and the words. Ronald McDonald could have been there and it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference as long as the speech was the same.


Think what you want to about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but that picture is great.


What is it with Joe Biden? He can even get Hillary Clinton to loosen up… a little. Can’t we put that skill to use for the good of humankind?


This is current British Foreign Minister David Miliband. I think he’s kind of cute in a nerdy way so, since it’s my blog, I’m posting another picture of him.

I like him better with glasses. Just my opinion.

It’s usually a good thing to stand out in a crowd and a few politicians, usually women, take that quite literally.

Secretary Clinton

Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine
Sometimes the guys do get in on the act, though.

US President Barack Obama, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev definitely stand out.


These are just good shots.


She looks tough, but tough is good sometimes. I’ve got a list of world leaders to whom this picture should be emailed to.


It looks like Chancellor Merkel “gets” the modern art in this exhibit in honor of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s always good to look like you “get” it.


Remember how I said that there was a saying about politics being show business for ugly people. Well, it’s not just for ugly people. This is former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

and this is former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin.


It blows my mind that Nancy Pelosi is pushing 70 and her husband’s around that age too. Even with some surgical assistance, it’s hard to believe.


One shot where he looks more like a leader and less like a character on That Mitchell and Webb Look

Black & White
Sometimes a black and white photo can make you look better than any color one can.


Yes, black and white can make you look great…

… but it can’t work miracles. Yeah, I’ve had enough of being nice, it’s time to laugh at these people.





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – The Delicate Dance of Politics Part 2: The Presidential Edition

13 03 2010

Whatever the president does, it will be scrutinized, analyzed, and hypothesized about to death. Such is life in a post-Watergate world – the presidency will never be looked at like it was before that ever again. That’s a fact. So, with all eyes on him, you’d think the president would be a fairly anxious to avoid unnecessarily embarrassing himself. Well, no, they embarrass themselves in countless ways from the benign to the scandalous. Since I’m still not very confident about talking serious issues even though nobody reads this thing anyway, I’ll stick to fluff for now – like dancing. There are many of us, myself among them, who do their utmost to avoid dancing in public, so some credit must be given for trying. Some obviously did better than others.

It’s a little early to judge our current president, but I found this picture of Barack and Michelle Obama at their inauguration and thought it would get the whole thing started.

So here we are – spanning nearly thirty years – the presidential dance-off.

Fourth Place – George H. W. Bush President from 1989-1993.

The first Bush couple to inhabit the White House were rather understated when it came to hitting the dance floor.


1989

Aside from this picture from one of the inaugural balls, I couldn’t find any more pictures – let alone video – of President Bush the elder dancing with anyone. I suppose it is best to know the limits of your talents when the press is around and sit back like the rest of us and enjoy the antics of those who have yet to figure that out.

Third Place – Bill Clinton President from 1993-2001.

President Clinton took office and the age of 46 making him the second youngest president ever elected and with that distinction came a certain amount of expectation that he and his wife would look good. Well, we all know they never rivaled the Kennedys, but their dancing wasn’t too bad even though it often looked contrived. Then again, if I were being investigated for everything under the sun, I doubt I’d be feeling very relaxed and spontaneous, either.


As the new president-elect in 1992.


At an inaugural ball in 1993

1993

Not dated

This photo was taken on St. Thomas in 1996 and its release sparked controversy, just like everything else having to do with the then-First Couple. Was the photo staged as an attempt to depict the Clintons as happily married or was this the work of journalists who had sunk to the level of skulking paparazzi? Who knows, but, no matter whether they knew about it or not, I’m sure that the current Secretary of State wishes it had never been taken.

At an inaugural ball in 1997

1997

We all know what happened next – scandal, impeachment, perpetual divorce rumors, a first lady became a senator, the senator ran for president and became Secretary of State – and, for reasons known really only to themselves, they’re still dancing with each other in the same old, un-spontaneous way nearly two decades after the world began watching.


Posted for stacyx

Second PlaceRonald Reagan, President from 1981-1989.

I found plenty of pictures of President Reagan dancing with his wife, Nancy. Reagan, having had a previous career as an actor, tended to do well with this element of presidential theater. It all seemed so unrehearsed – even Harry Benson’s famous photograph from 1985 which was, I believe, shot in a studio had a very natural, unscripted, and genuine feel to it.


1981
<a
1984

At one of the inaugural balls. 1985

1985

This was taken by Harry Benson in 1985.

1987

President Reagan also did the diplomatic dance in 1984 with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

And now it is my pleasure to present out presidential dancing king, the one and only …

DUBYA! George W. Bush – President from 2001-2009

Now I know how shocking it is that Dubya has come in at the top of any political list of mine, but let me explain. While he certain isn’t the best dancer, he is very comfortable being the bad dancer that he is and never passed up an opportunity to show off what one kind reporter described as “his unique moves.” Also, thanks to sites like YouTube, all of his dancing antics are preserved on the internet for our children and our children’s children to reference for history projects. For supplying the world with laugh-inducing clips for the ages, George W. Bush wins the award for “Best” Presidential Dancer.


At an inaugural ball in 2001.


At an inaugural event in 2001.


At an inaugural ball in 2005.


2006


2006


2007. Does this make anyone else think of Thriller?


2008


2008

I would love to say my next post will be more meaningful and thought-provoking … but I’m sure it won’t be.





Because Life is Funny and I’m in a Laughing Mood

9 03 2010

I love History of the World Part 1 and LOVE this clip.

Very few things can make me laugh about unemployment, but that’s one of them. Of course, if it’s just a generic laugh I’m looking for, there are plenty of sources. I’ll look up a few.

UPDATE
WARNING – Beware of falling F-bombs!

I think Eddie Izzard is hysterical and I wish he’d do more stand up. Anyway, Here are some of his clips that I think are great.


(Note that the person who posted this video cut it to exactly 4mins. 20secs. Nicely done!)

Robin Williams is another favorite. Here are some highlights.


Yeah! Jack Nicholson 2012!

Hope you’ve enjoyed these clips.





Happy International Women’s Day

8 03 2010

March 8th is International Women’s Day. It’s a bigger deal in other countries – sort of like Mother’s Day but inclusive of all women. I found this statement made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (Remember? 1995 Beijing. “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”) and thought I’d post it. I will be the first to say that, for me, her words ring pretty hollow because I don’t see much that indicates she’s doing anything to help any women anywhere except have her picture taken with them, but that said, the State Department has yet to ask my opinion of anything. I suppose these things take time. Maybe she’ll bring women’s issues more to the forefront as her tenure continues? It’s only been about a year after all.

If I find more statements from other leaders I’ll post them as well.

UPDATE

Found two more videos. This one is from NATO and, just so you know, the music’s abysmal.

This one is from the UN.

I’ll keep looking for more.

UPDATE

Ok, so I know Women’s Day was yesterday, but I thought I’d post the White House’s statement, too.

UPDATE – I think I was a little harder on the Secretary of State than was really called for. The Secretary of State does not make policy and, in such a capacity, can’t go off and do their own thing no matter how noble that thing may be. Whatever her personal feelings might be on any issue, the Secretary of State is the diplomatic face of the Obama administration and nothing more or less.





Childhood Innocence Indeed

7 03 2010

I am in the midst of another installment of “Great” Moments in Modern Politics but found this pic and had to share it with the one or two of you who will read this post.

I know how awful this sounds, but I really want to know what he’s yelling and what could have possibly made a child this young that angry.





“Great” Moments in Modern Politics – EPIC FAIL!!!!

4 03 2010

I was trying to put together a serious post about Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. I might write one at some point, but today was not that day. Why? Because, in my search for photos for a post about Secretary Clinton I found this… (It’s also discussed HERE in case you’re interested.)

FAIL!

Diplomatic FAIL!

…and thought it was too funny to pass up. Apparently, this guy fully intended to get to the bottom of things! How does one say “Get your hand off my ass!” diplomatically?

Cheap jokes, I know! Sorry.

Now, I realize that these types of photos are usually not as they appear – camera angle, lighting, ect… – but this one is certainly one of the more convincing ones not to mention it’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone having the nerve to stand next to Secretary of State Clinton and cop a feel. On the off-chance this did happen, I’m sure it was accidental, but it’s still amusing. Also, I don’t find this the slightest bit sexist. I think it would be just as funny if the butt-pat recipient were a guy. If it were Bill Clinton, news anchors the world over would be laughing about it for months.

In case you’re wondering, the fellow in the picture’s name is Brian Cowen and he is the Prime Minister of Ireland. Here is what he looks like from the front.

Is it just me or does he look a bit like Peter Griffin?

Still, if there is an upside to this for Secretary Clinton, it’s that the US press could not have cared less about her in October, when this occurred, and she was therefore spared the chore of being the butt (no pun intended) of the late shows’ jokes. Sorry, David Letterman. Sorry, Jay Leno. Better luck next time! I’m sure former president Bill Clinton had a good laugh at it, though, if he saw the photo. He doesn’t strike me as much of the jealous type.