President


pw_botha

This is going to be a long post – sorry. But it is about two people I met that made me rethink my definition of what evil might be. Two guys I always thought were the definition of evil. But I met them both briefly (and “stalked” one) and that made me question the meaning of evil. So I have to tell you about them to get to my story. Sorry – be patient. You know I am not into short blogs in any case!

———————————–

The Big Crocodile (1991):

One of the most evil men in the history of South Africa was PW Botha – Pieter Willem Botha. He was the last Prime Minister of the Apartheid Regime – and their first President of power. Oh man he was bad, bad news. Under his “command” more than 2,000 people died at the hand of the “security forces” (Security? As if they were protecting anything valuable). And more than 25,000 people were detained without being charged and often tortured (this last one sounds oddly familiar to recent US policies – except for the number of people). While he was Prime Minister in South Africa he also started the South African secret nuclear weapons programme with Israel and established the notorious police counter-insurgency unit – Koevoet (Crowbar). Yes, he was bad, bad news.

He was a racist to the core. Here, read this and see what you think. In his own words, “Blacks look like human beings and act like human beings do not necessarily make them sensible human beings. Hedgehogs are not porcupines and lizards are not crocodiles simply because they look alike. If God wanted us to be equal to the Black, he would have created us all of a uniform colour“. I hope you don’t need more convincing that PW stood for “Pure White” or “Pretty Wretched”.

He wasn’t just a racist and killer though. He was also a coward. Of sorts. He started his career by supporting the South African Nazi movement in WWII. But then changed his mind when he saw that they were going to lose. So he is cowardly in his warped convictions as well. Just a bad man all together. As evil as you can get. But to the Afrikaners who supported him during Apartheid – he was their bread and Botha. He meant everything to them because he kept them in power. And kept them “safe and seperate”. With a strong hand on the rifle. Of course you won’t find any of them today. It’s like asking the school class who had the “accident” in the bathroom – no one is willing to admit that it was them in public.

We called him “Groot Krokodil” in South Africa. Meaning Big Crocodile. Mostly because he will take a bite at everything and his skin was as thick as the skin of a crocodile. And he was pretty ugly as well. Just like a crocodile. We didn’t shed any crocodile tears when he died on 31 October 2006. No tears for him. He was a bad dream from our past. A past we didn’t want to be reminded of. And I met the man. Briefly. But I was also a bit of a stalker in my own way.

My wife’s father used to own a local car dealership in the town close to where Groot Krokodil lived. And he used to come and buy a new car there every few years. And with our luck we were there when he came the last time. My wife was working at the garage during the university break and I came up to visit her. And I worked at the garage as well. Worked at the forecourt – or petrol pumps. Yes, he owned both a car dealership and a gas station. All I did was sit in the forecourt and enjoy the scenery. Filling up cars as they came back from the beach or taxis taking people home. It was fun. I sat outside in the summer sunshine and enjoyed working there. I got to see my future wife often enough – and that was a major bonus.

I went inside to say hello – she was working the telephones. And we hang out – not to make out. Not with her dad there! I had my own nickname for him – but not for public consumption! He is an unbelievably nice guy. I really love and like him. Good guy who always pulls the mickey out of me. Hey, I took him to his first Bruins game (and mine) when they came to visit. But, again, I digress.

I was hanging out with her when he walked in. PW. He was old. Really old. This was back in December 1991. The ANC was unbanned and Mandela was free – but we were still negotiating the terms of our new democracy. It sounds odd – the terms of our democracy. But back then the Apartheid ruling party, the National Party, still believed that democracy was too good to share with everybody. PW wasn’t in charge anymore. He suffered a mild stroke in January 1989. He resigned as leader of the National Party in February, hoping that his hand-picked man will take over. But the National Party elected FW de Klerk as the National Party leader in February and as President in March. PW Botha refused to go. Typical. But by August he was completely alienated and forced to go. Oh man, you should have heard his speech. It was full of hatred for everyone – especially those in the National Party leadership. But he was history by now. A few months later FW would free Nelson Mandela and unban the ANC. PW was a bitter old man by the time he walked into the dealership.

He came in to service his car. My future wife and I walked into my father-in-law’s office and we walked right into PW. They knew how I felt about this guy so there was no way we were going to hang out with him! My father-in-law introduced us and PW started asking my future wife what she was studying. He studied at the same university as us when he was young – Stellenbosch University. My wife looked at him and gave him a little knowing smile (her I-dare-you-to-go-there smile). And then she said slowly, “Political Science”. He blinked and pulled his head back even further – as if he smelled something bad. He stared at her for a little while and then said quietly, “Another cat amongst the pigeons”.

I knew that look in my future wife’s eyes. It was a challenge. A challenge saying – come-on-you-want-some-of-this? You think I am the Angry African? Ha. Don’t piss her off. She is the tough one. I knew that it was time to get her out. He was an old old man. And a stupid man. An easy target. And he would underestimate her and get his backside kicked. So I made my excuses and got her out of there. But it wasn’t the end of me and PW.

I knew where he lived. Every now and again we would drive there and stop a bit down the road where he lived in a quiet dead-end road. Dead-end road made sense for a dead-end human being. And I would wait in that car to see him come out for his daily walk. Security police and all. Him, his wife and their dogs. Little brakkies en mat-kakkers. Little dogs – useless dogs for a guy like him. And we’ll sit in the car and stare at this old man, his wife and their dogs walking down the road. He was getting really old now. Walking with a walking stick and slowly moving along. Playfully patting the dogs and his wife with his walking stick. Like any old man just taking a walk knowing that it is one of those last pleasures left in life. Just an old man walking the dogs and loving his wife with the sun shining on his back. He wasn’t much of a crocodile anymore. Just a slow shuffle of a walk like a wounded crocodile trying to get back into the water. But a toothless one.

The Guguleto 7 (2002):

We were down at the beach at Betty’s Bay with our friends. They had a place there. Or rather, her dad had a place there that they used. We had fun. The girls were playing on the beach looking for shells and playing in the little pools. We had a few beers and some crayfish and a braai. It was fun. Just the perfect weekend. Away from the craziness at work. Just the six of us hanging out and talking crap. Yes, Oosie and me knew how to talk crap. We were very different – me an activist and him a cop, but we could talk crap for hours and hours. Amuse ourselves with stories that just kept on piling up with the sh*t we spoke. My wife and his wife would just look at us and laugh at the nonsense we could talk without any signs of slowing down. But it was time to go and stock up. So we took a drive to Kleinmond (“Small Mouth” refering to the mouth of the river) – a town just a few miles down the road.

I love Kleinmond. I have good memories of it. My ouma (grandmother) used to live there and I remember going there to visit. And she used to make me roosterkoek (type of bread) on the open fire. She made the best roosterkoek ever. With butter from the farm melting as she took it off the fire and broke it open with her bare hands. I was young when she died. But I remember her. This fragile old woman who used to smell like fresh bread and hugged me when she gave me those roosterkoek. I loved my ouma. Again, I digress.

We drove into Kleinmond and bought our “things” (beer and… hum… more beer. Oh, and wood for the braai). Oosie decided to take us for a drive through town. Down to the beach area to show us where they fish. We drove slowly as there were loads of people hanging around. Oosiestopped the car as an older guy walked up to the car waving. He looked like a typical newly retired guy. A wide open friendly face with not a worry in the world. They spoke and laughed a bit about some guy they both know who got into trouble with the fisheries inspector again and shared news on how their families were doing. I was between Oosie and the guy leaning in the window talking. I can remember his face well. He had laugh lines all over his face. He looked like a guy I can sit and have a beer with. And share crap stories with. He had shorts, an open buttoned checked shirt, socks with sandals, and a fisherman’s hat on. Typical South African though – he had a paunch from the beer and meat – what we call a boep. He could be anyone’s dad. He just looked and sounded like a really good guy. A family man with friends and stories to share around the fire.

Oosie and the guy said goodbye and we drove off. Oosie knew my politics, but we hardly spoke about it. We didn’t share the same views on everything. But then, I never let politics alone define my relationships and friendships. If I did I would have very few friends left in this world. Anyway, Oosie was quiet for a bit while we drove off. After a bit he asked me whether I knew who the guy was. I said no – but obviously a friend of Oosie’s family. He looked at me and said, “He was in charge of the Guguleto 7 hit squad”. Oh man, it was like a ton of bricks hit me. Stunned.

The Guguleto 7 were 7 guys from the ANC who got brutally murdered by the a secret police hit squad in South Africa in 1986. This police hit squad operated from a secret location called Vlakplaas. The most evil things happened there. Murder, executions, torture, rape – you name it and they did it. It was the centre of all things evil under Apartheid. The Guguleto 7 were ANC supporters who got lured in by the hit squad and were brutally murdered. For ANC supporters (including myself) the Guguleto 7 became a rallying cry for the murdering of our people to stop. It united people against Apartheid. And hardened the resistance to Apartheid. And this guy was in charge of the hit squad who murdered the Guguleto 7. He was what I saw as the epitome of evil. Leading a hit squad. And now I knew who he was.

That was the problem. I thought he was a good guy. Someone I can hang around with. Someone to sit with around the fire and share a few beers and talk crap. How do you hate someone you liked 5 minutes ago? But the same someone who you hated for 16 long years?

PW and the nameless monster (I never wanted to know his name). The two of them taught me a lesson on evil. People do evil, evil deeds. But somehow they still manage to look in the mirror and believe in themselves. Bigots yes. But they are not the woman beaters, serial killers, child abusers or rapist we think they are. Evil people are people who do the same things we do. They are never the obvious bad people that stand out in a crowd. Or who we hope they are. They love and live their lives in very similar ways we do. Talk crap with friends while having a beer around the fire. Taking their loved ones and the dogs for a walk. Loving their kids and wives and enjoying retirement. Enjoying the sunshine and open spaces. Evil people are normal people. They are around us and they are in us. You will walk past them in the streets without looking twice. They can sit on the other side of the table and you might never know. They can lean in and talk to you with a genuine smile on their face. And that makes it hard to hate. And knowing that they live lives just like us. When you have met them and stalked them. And when you have liked them. That makes it difficult. How do they do it? How do they sleep at night and still laugh and love. How do they do it when they do the things they do? And how do we hate them when we see their other side? It’s not that easy…

I knew the grandson of PW. I knew him before I knew who his grandfather was. He was at university with me and although not an activist we still shared friends and good times. And even when I knew who his grandad was it didn’t change our relationship. Just every now and again I would rant against PW and his evil ways and he would go quiet and say in a whisper, “But he is still my grandad”. That’s the thing. We can hate the sin. We must hate the sin. But it is difficult to hate the sinner. Especially if you know them and have seen them live their lives the way we all do. It takes a special person to hate those they know. Evil. Evil is evil. But just not always expressed the way we expect or hope.

I don’t know. I don’t know much about handling evil. But I know we walk with crocodiles everyday. We just don’t always know it. And they don’t always look like crocodiles.

Advertisements

A while back I wrote about my memories of Reagan and Thatcher – The blunting of the blood. (You don’t have to read it as this piece is based on that one.) How some of us now have such fond memories of those leaders of the 80’s. Yes, our memories take on such lovely scenery when we think of the days of yesterday. The good old days. Those photos of their smiling faces. When we still had crap music and even crappier clothes. I am so not going to talk about the hairstyles… We can laugh at how silly we were. But we can never allow ourselves to look back at those days and think that they were okay. They weren’t.

But all this reflection and softening of views make me turn to the current leader of the free world. G.W. Bush. Sorry, President G.W. Bush.

Let me be clear about this piece. Very clear. I don’t want any misunderstanding. I don’t want to be accused of something that isn’t there. No misreading please. This is not a reflection on America or the American people. I love America and Americans – and everything this country and the people stand for. I will back them till death do us part. This is one hell of a country and more important than most Americans will know. I am proud of the fact that my daughters have to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. But I won’t go into that today. Let’s just leave it at that. This is about President G.W. Bush and what he stands for and what he has done. I respect the office of the President of the United States and what it stands for – but I don’t respect President Bush and what he stands for. This is about never forgetting and never forgiving. This is about the memories we will have when we look back at the time President G.W. Bush ruled the free world.

__________________________

neverforget_500

I am shocked, or rather surprised, by a few people close to me who mentioned that he looks like such a good dad. He looks like a good guy. Maybe a bit stupid, but a good guy you know.

No I don’t.

I was shocked by my first immediate reaction when the person said that they hated what he has done but that he seems like such a good dad and that it looks like he really loves his wife. My reaction?

“Well, Hitler loved Eva Braun.”

I did regret saying it but it was an immediate reaction. Like the one second rule in self defense. I didn’t think about it – it just popped out.

I regret saying it because I did not mean in any way that Bush is like Hitler. Not in any way. What I meant was that loving someone does not mean I have to have any compassion for you. Or that I should in any way view your actions as okay. It’s not.

You loved someone. So what? There are a shit load of people out there you didn’t love.

You had good intentions? Well… We know about that road and good intentions…

You are better than Hitler. So what? It’s not really a yardstick to measure anyone now is it? I can only judge you on your own actions. And for that reason there will be no forgetting. No forgiving. No favorable views. No good memories. No blunting of the blood.

I can’t look at him and think that somehow there is a good man hidden inside. I can’t read minds. I can’t see his soul. I can only judge by the actions I see. And the bodies in the street.  

I can’t wipe away the bad that happened yesterday. The pain doesn’t actually feel less important. Time does not heal the dead left behind. I can’t blunt the memories of those who suffered. 

Can we look at Bush and think that he was a good guy who loved his country and not remember the warmongering? I don’t doubt or question his love for his country. A great country. It is worth loving. And it is worth defending. But the love for his country does not make him a good guy. It doesn’t change the lies of WMD’s. It doesn’t change the lies of victory never achieved in his time. The empty promises of war and vengeance.

Can we look at Bush and think that love ruled his life before anything else? Even though he never spoke out against terrorists of human rights in Saudi Arabia. He didn’t fund them. But he never spoke out against them. You are judged by the company you keep. And they weren’t nice people. And he wasn’t a nice guy. Sitting on a horse for the cameras or chopping wood for the reporters are called acting. Not real life. How many people died because of his policies? How much blood must he have on his hands before you look at the man and say he was fundamentally flawed? And remind yourself never to forget that this is the man who ruled and not the guy we want to remember as the one who loved.

Can we remember Bush as the President who amused us with his silly words and stupid remarks? Can we laugh at how much fodder he gave the late night shows and comedians? No we can’t. We can’t forget how he slowly but surely strangled the last line in Pledge of Allegiance. “…liberty and justice for all.” How the freedoms and rights and liberties and justice were slowly eroded under his watch. The Patriot Act was sold as the car with the latest safety measures and gadgets. And all we got was a second-hand salesman selling us a car that guzzled gas and made us more addicted to foreign oil. Guantanamo Bay was the victim of the hit-and-run accident that involved that car.

And I won’t forgive or forget his favorite side-kick either. Tony Blair… How can we forget his wishy-washy attitude about the war that was against the popular wishes of his own people. Now hiding behind his religious beliefs as if God send him to go into a senseless war. His willingness to follow Bush to the graves of the innocent. Like Thatcher and Reagan. So was Blair and Bush. Different sides of the same coin. He was bad. They are bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.

I am sorry. I can’t look at Bush and his stupid smile and feel any warmth. I can’t see his love for those close to him. All I see is the people dying in the streets and the erosion of rights. And him not speaking out against the terrorists of human rights. People dying senselessly. Blood on his hands. No forgiveness. No love. Nothing.

I am sorry. I can’t. I can’t… I can’t forgive if the person doesn’t ask for forgiveness. I can’t look at him and see a “good guy”. I can’t. I see him and I see the look of Reagan and Thatcher in the 80’s. He has given leadership a bad name. Because he did bad things. Blood on his hands. No love. No forgiveness. No good memories. Nothing.

I see his fake smile and teary eyes when he realizes his time in charge is over. And then I see his deeds. The blood on the streets. Rights ripped to pieces. Honor gone to shit. Ideals flushed down the toilet. I see him selling me shit but calling it sweets. You didn’t fool me then. And my memories won’t fool me now.

I won’t let time fade my memories. I won’t. No blunting of the blood. You ask for forgiveness and I will forgive. But not an inch until then. I won’t do it. I will honor the dead of yesterday. And I will honor the dead of today. I will honor them by not forgetting them. And not forgiving you.

You should have known better. You should have known better. You ruled the free world. It came with a responsibility. An oath to walk the straight and narrow. A promise to be the shining light in our dark world. And you snuffed it out like it was a single candle in a storm. Without a blink. Without regret. Without a moment given to the dead lying in your path. Without a moment of asking forgiveness. Because you didn’t care. You only cared about yourself. You were selfish and self absorbed.

Wash your hands and turn your back. That’s what you will do. Like they did then and you will do now. I don’t feel sorry for you. I don’t think you were a nice guy. I have nothing for you. You are empty. Meaningless to humanity. You have meaning only in the blood you left behind in the streets. The rights lying in the gutters of life. And the blood etched in our memories.

I don’t give a damn about what the terrorist and the fucked up coward in the cave did. I don’t give a damn about what Saddam did. I don’t give a damn about what the Taliban did. They deserve death beyond comprehension. But I don’t care about their deeds. I expected them to be evil. It was in their bones. In their blood. They were in my face. They were bad. And we knew it. We know it. We heard their hatred and saw their murdering ways. Like Hitler they were.

But you. You were supposed to be the promise keeper. The good one. The fair one. The just one. The one who would fight for us. Be on our side. On the side of the innocent. The bystanders. And you spat on us and those who suffered. And gave us a fake cowboy smile and a gun to our heads.

I won’t let my memories be blunted by the troubles of today. Today is today. Yesterday was yesterday. You were bad yesterday. And you remain bad today. I won’t let them say “he was really a good guy who loved his family”. I won’t let them think of you as being out of depth and maybe a little stupid. I won’t let you get away with it. I won’t. You weren’t stupid. Your mistakes were made by you. Knowingly. I won’t forget. Not while the blood is still on your hands. Not while the rights and freedoms and liberties and justice are lying shattered at your feet. Not while I still have my memories of the dead. Not while you forgot to ask for forgiveness.

No blunting. You let us down. You have blood on your hands. You. Are. No. Great. Leader.

No blunting.

Never forget. Never forgive. Don’t let it fade.

No blunting. Of the blood.

bush-faces

Yeah! America… Meet your new President! Barack Obama!

060922_barackobama_xtrawide

Meet the new A-Team. Obama and Biden! You go boys! Go kick some butts!

obamabiden

At last a guy with some brains…

barackobama

You’ve come a long way my man… Can I call you boet?

obama

A very, very long way since you took that swing…

obamaphotosr2_468x403

I am a Happy African today. And how better to express it than by giving you a Madiba smile.

large_mandela_at_90_meye

And let’s not forget Martin Luther King Junior. Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

mlk

Lastly…

FUCK YEAH!

and…

THANK YOU!

__________________________________

(Tomorrow we can go back to normal…)

You think I am going to climb into Sarah Palin? You betcha! Not! I’ll leave Palin with the letter I wrote her. I thought this was going to be all about Palin. But it wasn’t. This was all about Biden.

I haven’t seen much of him because of the love/hate affair the media has had with Palin. Biden has been left behind. But tonight I saw why Obama got him as Vice President. Because Biden is the right person to be Vice President.

He knows what he stands for. It is clear. You don’t have to agree with him. But what you saw was what you get.

He convinced me that Obama is the right guy for the job. Not because Biden said so. But because Biden is the person Obama picked to be his Vice President when (not if) he becomes President. It told me that Obama can see what he needs to help him become a great President. A true “maverick” who will whisper in his ear when he does not agree with him. A person who knows enough about bipartisan politics to create the change that Obama has as his vision.

What do I want from a Vice President?

I want a Vice President that will lead the conversation to justice and fairness. Someone who will vigorously debunk and fight every right wing conventional wisdom on the economy and wars that has trapped the US in the quicksand of stagnation. Who will not only fight like hell to make sure that America is living up to the grand ideals that made America great but also someone who knows what it takes to get there. A fighter who has fought from nothing to get where he/she is today.

I want a Vice President who not only talks about change and being a maverick, but who knows how to make the system in Washington work to create change. A Washington insider who can bring the change we believe in. But an insider who has always been on the outside. Someone who embodies the type of bipartisan and honesty and integrity that is needed in Washington.

I want a Vice President who knows that it isn’t easy to make difficult decisions. That knows it takes guts to fight against a war even when your own son is fighting in the war. Who loves the troops, but not the war. And that sometimes we have to compromise and change ourselves. Someone who knows that we can’t always be right and be willing to change ourselves. And who will do it because his/her country is more important than their own ego.

I want a Vice President who will help inspire people everywhere to be better than what we are today. No matter where they live – from Washington to Warsaw and from Boston to Bamako. Who will challenge each and every one of us to take on the difficult things we have run away from. And someone who will make us believe in hope instead of fear.

I want a Vice President who knows that he/she must represents the people of the United States of America, but must never forget the people of this world. Who will fight for every person to help make the world a better place for all of us. Someone who won’t stop at challenging corporate interests in the US, but everywhere in this world of ours as well. Who will make companies work with and for us. And help those who do and not those who don’t.

I want a Vice President who will make friends before making enemies. Someone who will stop the foreign policy madness of making friends with some dictators and fighting others. Who will make the United States of America a true beacon of hope and not a vehicle of fear. Who will bring hope to everyone no matter where they are by being just and honest. A beacon of light for those who wants to make their own country better.

That’s what I want in a Vice President. And so much more. But you get the idea.

Joe Biden showed me that he is that Vice President. And Obama showed me why he is the right President. Someone who made his first and most important decision as a Presidential nominee the right decision. That Joe Biden should be Vice President. Joe Biden would be a Vice President who would make America proud. And a Vice President who would make America be better than it has been. Joe Biden will make the world proud.

 

Joe, if only I could vote mate…

Some people are arguing that the Vice President isn’t that much of a deal. That it isn’t that important. I beg to differ. The second most powerful person in the US government and you don’t think it is that important? Let me put it another way… Do you want to run your company with a good Chief Executive Officer but a Chief Financial Officer who knows nothing of how finances work? Or a Chief Operating Officer who knows nothing of commerce? Maybe not. If you do… Can you say “sink” baby?

It’s a pretty easy question. Who do you think would be best able to do the job when the President isn’t there?

Or ask yourself… Who do you think would be best able to help the next President do what he promises to do?

And a last one… Who do you want to represent your country (to friends and threats) if the President isn’t available?

Only one answer… Joe Biden.

It’s time that I remind myself what I think of Zuma. The most likely person to become President of South Africa next year. He won his battle with Mbeki. He got Mbeki to resign as President. Okay. Technically it was the ANC who got a little help from their friends the Three Stooges – COSATU, ANC YL and the SACP. But Zuma is Mr Idiot. And that’s putting it mildly… Will someone close the door when he is done? Or at least wipe the rim? I wrote this a few months back when the battle started. It made it into the Mail & Guardian in South Africa and for some reason not everyone was pleased. To those who say I only bash Republicans. Read on. You’ll see I come down hard on any political leader who does’t hold his or her side of the bargain. Let’s bitch…

How did we get to this, Arch?

How did we get to this, Arch?

Don’t bitch about Bush – you got Zuma

I am extremely proud of being African and South African. What we have managed to do over the last 15 odd years have been unbelievable. From the most despicable Apartheid regime to a stable democracy and sound economic growth. From the bottom of the world pecking order, to the leading global voice on justice. A leading light in a world at war. We have shown the world how everyone can live in peace and harmony – and celebrate differences instead of letting it divide us. The region I come from has shown the world how Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Jew can all live together, celebrate our differences and enrich our lives in this melting pot we call home – instead of trying to wipe each other out.

Yes, like all other countries we have challenges. Crime, poverty and HIV/Aids being the biggest. At the heart is poverty – or at least the lack of shared wealth. Too much is still in the hands of a small group of umlungu’s. We have the systems in place to start addressing this – affirmative action will help, but we have lots more to do to address wealth distribution. But as a start affirmative action policies have been integrated into our procurement system in innovative ways, as well as in the workplace. At the same time the government has brought electricity, running water and housing to millions of people. And so much more that still needs to be done. We are very much a work in progress. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless. Change doesn’t happen overnight.

We have won the Rugby World Cup – twice! Unfortunately, we continue to suck big time in soccer, but will show the world how to party in 2010.

We have shown how democracy can be a powerful way to bring real benefits to all people in South Africa. Since 1994 we have experienced mostly all the good and great things of having a democracy.

And then there was Zuma.

Zuma has just been elected as the leader of the ANC – the political party I have always supported and voted for in South Africa. He is now in a perfect position to become the next President of South Africa. The ‘Comrades’ at the ANC Congress last month celebrated his win as proof that democracy works and that anyone can be elected as a leader in a free and fair election.

But lets be clear about something. Zuma is an idiot. I have met him a few times and he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. He has the charisma of a damp dishcloth. And the morals of a rat. He didn’t deny sleeping with the young girl that was not only HIV positive, but also a family friend. Whether there was consent or not is irrelevant. You would expect more from someone who is supposed to be a leader we look up to – who should be a shining light for us to follow. And the fact that he took a shower afterwards to ‘ensure’ he doesn’t ‘catch’ HIV speaks to his intellect. And I am not even going to go into the corruption charges. How the hell can the ANC Women’s League justify supporting this guy during the election? And when I was a unionist in South Africa we all saw Zuma speak at the COSATU Congress – how could you even think for a minute he would be a leader for the workers or the people?

I know that people don’t like Mbeki, but you don’t drink cyanide just because you don’t like Coke. Pick something else that won’t kill you. Okay, cyanide will kill you quicker than Zuma, but the outcome will be the same – Zuma will drag everything that Madiba and all our great leaders have worked and fought for through the mud. We will be the laughing stock of the world. Mbeki is a statesman respected across the world for not bending to popular demand, but sticking to what is just and right. Well, most of the time – he is fallible (read his HIV/Aids policies). Hey, I don’t even like him that much. But Mbeki is a giant compared to Zuma.

What really gets to me is the fact that these same ‘Comrades’ will be the ones bitching and moaning about Bush and other world leaders , but especially Bush. As they used to say at union meeting – ‘Comrade, you are out of order’. You lost your right to criticize the democratically elected leaders from other countries when you elected Zuma as your leader. Bush might be an idiot with policies we don’t like or agree with, but he was democratically elected (twice) by his people. Okay, he IS an idiot – just like Zuma. So, stop your bitching about Bush or Brown – or even Mugabe – you got Zuma. YOU just moved us from standing on the moral highground to crawling in the mud. YOU voted him in. YOU are responsible. YOU will be the laughing stock of the world. YOU just lost your right to bitch.

I really don’t know where this post is going. It’s about heroes. But not sure… Let’s see.

I was doing the dishes tonight. Cleaning up after I had a fight with the barbeque. Oh I lost alright. The chicken burned and I ran out of gas midway. But that’s not the story.

I was doing the dishes and my lovely wife called me to say one of my favorite telly guys just won an Emmy. Stephen Colbert. Wish you could all see this guy. As sharp as a knife. Remember what he did to Bush in 2006 at the White House Correspondence Dinner? Go have a look here if you get the chance. (It is in three parts so please go look for part 2 and 3. It was worth it. I promise. And what the hell was Bush thinking Stephen Colbert was going to do?) Anyway… That took balls. In the lion’s den and he really went for it. And his show won again.

So I stopped doing the dishes and sat down on the couch to have a quick look at Stephen Colbert. I was slightly disappointed that he didn’t make a stronger political statement – he did it later when he joined Jon Stewart and they had a bit of a go at McCain. The old prune. I was about to get up when Steve Martin came on just after Stephen Colbert. I felt like having a laugh so stayed to watch him. And he introduced me to a new hero.

Tommy Smothers. Or Thomas Bolin “Tom” Smothers III as he is sometimes known. I won’t go into details of who he is. (Go here to see more on Wikipedia.) I didn’t know who he was. I was just watching Steve Martin make funny references about this guy. This guy who was going to get an Emmy for a show that hardly lasted more than a season back in the late 60s. Steve was funny, but I was about to get up when he did he speech and introduced the guy. For some reason I decided to stay and listen to what the guy had to say.

Well, maybe I stayed because Steve Martin told us how the show got cut because this guy got a little bit too political on his show. And how the guy didn’t want his name on the Emmy nomination back in the 60s because he thought that the other writers will stand less of a chance to win because of him. Honorable. And then he became my hero.

Just like that. This guy who could have had an easier life if he just kept quiet and did his show the way they wanted him to do it. Who could have had a much more successful career if he just kept his politics to himself. But he didn’t. He stood up for what he believed in. And he still does today.

I give you my new hero. And the words that made him my hero…

“It’s hard for me to stay silent when I keep hearing that peace is only attainable through war. And there’s nothing more scary than watching ignorance in action,” he said, dedicating his award to “all people who feel compelled to speak out, and are not afraid to speak to power, and won’t shut up and refuse to be silenced.”

That’s a hero. Someone who knows that there are easier ways. But only one right way. And a hero is someone who picks the right way.

Artists aren’t heroes. They are just celebrities. I like watching people like Colbert and Stewart. But they are paid do say what they say. They are good at it. They entertain me. But will they stay the same if the chips are down? Not all of them will. Bill Maher did. And he lost his job before everyone realized he was right. I don’t always agree with him. But he doesn’t pull punches. And never took the easy route.

But celebrities are just celebrities. Pretty people or funny people or “serious” actors. There to entertain us. Do they have a right to use this media for politics? Of course. They have an opinion and can use their medium just like everyone else. Like me. Like all of us. Just like NewsBusters and other right-wingers. I have no more knowledge than anyone else, but I use “my” medium to say what I want to say. And they have their medium. Some CEO’s use their mediums to influence politics. Why can’t actors? Charlton Heston did. And he is (was) loved by Republicans. Or rather by the pro-gun Republicans.

Hey Ronald Reagan was even voted into the office. And the role he was remembered best for was with a monkey. And no, I am not talking about Bush Sr, although I am sure he met Jr at some stage. And you know how I feel about Reagan. I didn’t like him then and I won’t start liking him just because he is dead. I saw the blood that came because of him. But this isn’t about Reagan. This is about heroes. And he wasn’t one.

After watching Tommy Smothers I was reminded of those other heroes I don’t know. That I haven’t met yet. Those men and women who defend the rights of Tommy to say what he wants to say. The soldiers. Yes. They are my heroes.

They do what is right. What they signed up for. To defend this great country when asked to defend it. To go into war when asked. Not questioning the war. Just doing what they said they would do. And staying true even if they don’t like it or agree with it.

Make no mistake. I hate war. And I especially hate the war in Iraq. There is nothing just about the war in Iraq. But they were asked to go into war by a weak President. And they did. Because that is what they signed up for. To defend this country. Even when the definition of defending is warped through lies and weakness and phantom enemies created by a President who ran away from war when it was his turn. The soldiers didn’t define what it means to defend. They only execute the decision by the leader who makes that decision. And the leaders who support that decision. They are heroes. Even when those who send them to fight a stupid senseless war are anything but heroes. President G. W. Bush is not a hero. The soldiers who fight his stupid war are.

It’s a shame they are not fighting a war to keep us safe. It is a shame that they are just fighting a war someone got them into. A war that has not made the US any safer than before 9/11. All it has done is to raise the possibility of them having to defend this country from more enemies than before. And one man wants them to fight some more wars no one can justify. “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.” Yes McCain. It might be funny to you. But to real heroes it is real and not funny. But don’t worry. These heroes will fight your stupid wars if you make it to the White House. While you sit in your nice cosy home – any of them. And when you sit there and laugh how you “got” the other guy.

These heroes will die for this country. To defend Tommy and everything he stands for. And they will die for McCain and everything he stand for. They will just do it. Because that is what makes them right. And because that is what makes them heroes. Those soldiers are heroes. Each and every single one of them. Even when I don’t agree with the war they are involved in.

But I also learned something else while washing the dishes. Heroes don’t always stay heroes. Tommy stayed a hero. He only became my hero tonight. But in truth… He has always been my hero. Because he always did what was right. Even before I knew him. That is a true hero. Someone who stays true no matter what. Even when it is tempting to take the easy route. Even when they could make more money or become more powerful if they took the other route.

So tell me Mr McCain… When did you stop being a hero? When was that moment that it happened? Or was it a gradual thing. Did doing the right thing slowly wash off you like a bad childhood memory? Or were you never really a hero? But we met you as a hero. When you took every single thing they threw at you when they tortured you and just stayed true. Stayed a hero. For more than 5 years while a prisoner of war. You were a hero. What happened?

John Sidney McCain III. How did you stop becoming a hero? How did you turn into what you have become? How did you go from hero to Nero? Willing to lie to become more powerful. Willing to torture others when you were tortured. Willing to smear anyone else who stands in your way. Putting yourself above what is right. Putting yourself above those who are willing to defend your rights. When did you become like those who held you prisoner for more than five years? When did you stop being a hero?

Heroes… Heroes never give up. Heroes never stop. Heroes never think of themselves first. Heroes stay true no matter what. To Tommy. You are a hero. To those men and women who stay true to what is asked of them no matter what. You are heroes.

McCain. You are not. You are a hero lost. And maybe that is the saddest part of it all. You could have been one…

Okay, so I stayed away from blogging on politics for a week. But it doesn’t mean that I stayed away from politics for a week. I had another little act up my sleeve. Twitter… Yes, I used Twitter to tweet (write) on the Twit… I mean McCain.

You know Twitter? If not, here is a rundown. Twitter is what they call “mini-blogging”. You have 140 characters to say what you want to say. So keep it short is the angle. So not me. But anyway… You follow people and see what they tweet and people follow you to see what you have to tweet. Issues are random. From what you are doing to a random thought to saying what you are watching live. Anything goes really. Go and have a look. It’s an interesting concept. I know some of you use it as we already follow each other over there. Oh, and you can do it from your mobile phone in some places.

So I used Twitter during this period to throw a few shots at McCain and Pale-One. Here’s just a few highlights of my tweets and why I said it. Just a few highlights. Not all of them!

1. Just an insight on how I rate Sarah Palin…

2. Trying to understand why some Americans would vote for McPain…

3. The reason why I get so worked up about McCain and Palin

4. Reacting to a friend who refused to share a “juicy” piece of political rumor…

5. Not blogging on politics started to get to me…

6. Commenting on Palin seeing Russia from her house and claiming it makes her a foreign policy expert… (well, almost)

7. More commenting on her seeing Russia…

8. Not a funny one. Can you believe McCain did this?

9. And Palin did the same? See the difference? I don’t…

10. Got this one from the lovely wife…

11. Palin being pro semi-automatics for hunting? WTF?

12. McCain making Bush look good…

13. How low can you go…

14. Actually, he said it on the day I made this tweet…

15. Two “insightful” comments on McCain wearing flip-flops…

That’s it. I left out a number of tweets – especially those where I was having a “discussion” with a few other people. (Read: argument.) Not fair to raise them here. They are “Twitter” friends and not here to defend themselves.

See? I didn’t blog. I mini-blogged. Because McCain is just a mini-me of Bush. A mini-man. With mini-politics. And mini-ethics. I retract that. No ethics.

Oops… Did I just do a political blog? Damn.

Next Page »