Friday, June 16, 2006

Paranoid rantings, not mine for once

Guardian vs Daily Mail!

Writing for the Daily Mail is more or less a guarantee of admission to my "oh shut up" list, but Melanie Phillips winds me up perhaps more than average. I can't put my finger on specifics, but the general "the world is against me (and my carefully selected 'majority')" is as good a place to start as any though.

What particularly irks me, more and more in recent months, is the assertion that any questioning of Israel or Jews is Anti-Semitism. My studies in the Middle East are just beginning, and I know there's much more complexity I haven't got my head around yet. That said, I don't think Israel should be granted all of the special 'favours' it seems to rely on, in the proven lobbying of other governments, and in the allowances of behaviours we in the West would be forced to condemn from many of their Arab neighbours. Of course, I know those Arab neighbours haven't got the hottest track record when it comes to terrorism or outright aggression towards Israel either.

No side is without blame, and yet we're not supposed to challenge the 'rights' of Israel to defend itself. Defence is one thing. Outright aggression (Lebanon, anyone?) is clearly not the same. I question both sides, I want peace on both sides, less needless death and more co-operation. But it has to apply to both, or I'm not being reasonable. To question Israel is not Anti-Semitism, and comparisons to Nazi Germany shouldn't be bandied about simply for shock value.

I know that historically Jews have been poorly treated. As a Catholic (albeit lapsed) my heritage is fairly rife with persecution too. But I understand the magnitude of the Holocaust, how it must never happen again, how it is worse than even the imagination can stretch to. I hate the leaders of Iran and elsewhere who call for Israel's annihilation. And yet, part of me wonders how this wasn't the only possible result, after how Israel was created. Dispossessing another people of the land surely doesn't make them any better than those they fight against? To place oneself so firmly in the midst of hostility seems like bad planning. Were the Palestinians just supposed to take it? I know the arguments, I know most of the history, but wasn't there anywhere less contentious?

Still, history, politics and religion. Put them all together and how can you avoid trouble?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

It's getting so she doesn't even shock me any more

We're trying to 'understand' Ann Coulter again.

Oh she's just hideous. More often than not, my blood will be boiling before I get to the end of a sentence about her. Earlier in the week, I though her 9/11 widows comments were indeed beyond the pale. She's racist, xenophobic, trigger happy and so many other bad things on top of that.

What really riles me are her assertions that on a gut level many people agree with what she's saying. I usually find at least some glimmer of understanding in extreme arguments, but with her the revulsion stops it being close to possible.

I think the best approach would be not to rise to the bait. But with the coverage her smallest remark enjoys, it would just raise her profile if she were the only one shouting.

Still, a good slap wouldn't go amiss.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fighting vainly the old ennui

A man in woman's clothing?

Cameron is just like Blair; Blair's a Thatcherite wannabe. Capitalising on middle-class issues, education reform, save the Health Service... I'm losing track of who's on what side anymore.

This is my problem with British politics in the time of my own political consciousness: it's dull. And as a result I think the sweeping changes and landslides are more to do with boredom than enthusiasm. Did New Labour really promise everything society wanted, or were they simply not-the-Tories? And isn't Cameron's surge up the polls more or less attributable to a similar 'phenomenon'?

The lesser of two evils, the lesser of who cares? There is no viable third party or third way, this is what we're stuck with. I don't necessarily think Cameron is a revolutionary, I'm not even sure he believes in ANYTHING, but I'm less fed up of him than the other guy.

Is it a third-term curse? It's not like Mrs Thatcher had such a great time after win number 3. Should we follow the US Presidential model and stop complacency and public ennui setting in? But that rankles with my own belief that elections form term limits, we don't need to set a maximum in a democratic system.

Anyway, my bet at this stage is that Cameron and the Conservatives will pull it off. You know, whenever it's time for another election.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Inevitable, but sad

The report on Emergency Services' response on 7/7

I suppose the dust has mostly settled now, and thus the timing of the report. I know every official body has to be held to account, and only from admitting weaknesses can they improve.

It's still sad though, that this now clouds the initial impression of a responsive and efficent emergency plan. It shouldn't detract from the people who did such brave things that day, who went above and beyond. And it will make us better prepared for any next time, as much as we ever can be.

What is shocking is that LUL still have no provision for underground communications. The radios don't work in tunnels, and surely even on a basic operational level this is a huge risk? I don't know, can't communicate, can't have air-conditioning... not too pleasant down there now, is it? Sort it out, please.

The coat hanger state

Thanks again, South Dakota.

But it is the abortion rights opponents who seem most irked at Mr. Blouin, once a champion for their efforts. "He's a hypocrite," said Kim Lehman, executive director of the Iowa Right to Life Committee. "He says he's pro-life, and yet what he's really saying is that he is personally pro-life but would take no action that's pro-life. He's the worst kind of so-called pro-life. I don't think he has a right to call himself pro-life."

Oh my GOD lady, could you be missing the point any more if you tried. I have no idea who this Mr. Blouin is beyond the content of this article, but from what you've said there he seems to be the definition of a responsible lawmaker. He has his own beliefs, but will not use the legal system to impose them on an entire state (if he even had that power to begin with). What kind of wholesome pro-life action should he be taking? Harrassing young women, threatening doctors, blowing up clinics, that kind of thing?

The South Dakota change in the law relating to abortion absolutely sickened me when I first heard of it, and time hasn't really softened the blow. This is probably my limited understanding of US Federal Law here, but isn't this in some way a contravention of full faith and credit? I accept that the states have rights, and that there will inevitably be variances in legislation due to the different political climates, but how can they stop access in one state when it remains in the state next door? Isn't that somehow a curtailing of your rights as a citizen of the country? I know the people who support that law will be happier to see it go nationwide, but I honestly think there's a time when you're fifty states, but there are also times when you're just one nation. It's the same with the EU, you can't pass laws in one country that would prejudice the citizens of another member state.

I suppose it doesn't help that I basically just don't understand the pro-life movement to begin with.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

A little knee-jerk institutional bigotry

Thank God the Senate is there to stop runaway discrimination. Well, in theory. Until they can drum up the votes.

What absolutely enrages me is that this isn't simply a moralistic crusade, but also a matter of convenience, trying to divert attention from gross mistakes on both the domestic and international stages. Don't get me wrong, I understand that it's yet another abuse of power in a bid to impose a religious morality on a secular legal system, but why let trivial details like that interfere.

I don't actually crusade for gay marriage, I think civil unions and/or partnerships are completely sufficient, providing they allow the proper rights and benefits. The major irritation is the attempted subversion of what should be a normally unchanged structure, just to push an agenda. If Democrats tried this kind of grandstanding they'd be pilloried in the press for trickery and trying to shift the spotlight. When the President does it, it's just another "tactic".

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I've come home at last

The months of exile are over, I'm packing every last book into archive boxes and heading just north enough to re-enter civilisation.

Yes, London, I'm coming home. With me I'm bringing a renewed sense of confidence and something resembling enthusiasm. I have outlets for it, too.

Thus, GirlPolitico is born. I'm still working out exactly where I fall on the spectrum, trying to relate my interest in US Politics to the necessity of those in the UK, given that this is were I'll be living. Some truths are indeed self-evident: my unabashed love for Hillary Rodham Clinton; my hatred of kneejerk idealogues; my inability to ever close off all the options to me in an argument. Professional fence-sitting most of the time, but that's how I think I'll ever get to a conclusion on anything.

Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.