barney

He used to drive me absolutely bonkers. Really. Just bloody crazy. The big fat purple blob called Barney the Effing Dinosaur. But there he was again. Singing the Barney theme song…

Barney is a dinosaur from our imagination
When he’s tall he’s what we call
A dinosaur sensation
Barney teaches lots of things 
Like how to play pretend
A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s
And how to be a friend
Barney comes to play with us
Whenever we may need him
Barney can be your friend too
If you just make believe him

Yeah… I would just like to “make believe” chopping his bloody head off. That’s what he “taught” me.

Remember his other “hits”? I Love You? Or maybe You Are Special? Okay Barney my mate… I don’t love you, but you are way “special”. Or maybe Barney Barney Go Away instead of Rain Rain Go Away? Do Your Ears Hang Low? No Barney, it’s just my mood dropping… The Bear Went Over The Mountain? Excellent! Why don’t you follow him? Are You Sleeping? No, I’m just praying that you would go away! The Itsy Bitsy Spider came down and sucked the life out of Barney. If You’re Happy And You Know It… Then just shut the hell up and keep it to yourself! The Wheels On The Bus is about to hit you and I am the driver. If I Lived Under The Sea I won’t have to see you or hear you!

You get the message… Barney used to drive me crazy. No sh*t Sherlock.

But we had to suffer through it. Day in and day out. Why? Because…

Because our oldest one had a her first crush ever on the purple blob called Barney the Dinosaur…

“Dad! Can you put Barney on for me please? Big pleeeeaaazzzeeee!”, was what we woke up to almost every single day. 6 am – just before the rooster woke up. Barney when she woke up and Barney when she fell asleep. And about another 60 hours odd of Barney videos packed in between waking up and falling asleep. Yes I know there is only 24 hours in a day, but you try and watch Barney again and again. And some more. And then again. One more time. How about a last time? It feels like a lifetime.

Of course there was all the Barney books to go with it as well. And coloring-in books. And tapes to listen to in the car. The the soft toys. Of Barney and all his friends. Baby Bop with her weird way of talking and even weirder blanky dependency. BJ the over-achieving sport star and older brother of Baby Bop (Is that a Red Sox cap he is wearing?) And let’s not forget Riff. The odd looking late-comer with punk hair and spots like chicken pox. Yeah. Real inspiring stuff.

The worst was the talking Barney. WTF? No. What the hell were we thinking? A talking purple blob? “Look dad! I just push his hand and he sings and dances with me. And if I hug him really tightly he talks!” Wow… I eventually did some “surgery” on him and removed his batteries. “Sorry girl. The batteries must have gone flat. I don’t think this is the type where you can change the batteries.” I had to do it. I could handle it during the day when I was at work. The nervous twitches subsided the further I moved away from blobbie Barney. But it became too much when you are deep asleep and she turns in her sleep and effing Barney starts talking or singing. He is bad at 2 pm. Try 2 am.

Of course it didn’t help even if you removed Barney when she is asleep. Prying it from her hands. Hoping she won’t wake up. You remove it slowly, making sure neither the little one or Barney wakes up. You slowly put him down amongst the other toys. You go back to bed and gently fall asleep again. And then you wake up in a cold sweat with “You are my best friend!” The bloody dog decided to go lie on the toys and accidentally sat on Barney. And not even our fat big-boned dog could keep that sound down. So I wake up in a cold sweat. The dog barks at the crazy toy and is about to go into attack mode. The cats go wild because of the racket. And the little one wakes up crying because Barney isn’t in bed. Good old days I tell you…

And did I mention that Barney is also a bit of a goody-two-shoes? Bloody charity clunk if you ask me. Subversive. People used to come visit us and our daughter would hand out toys left, right and centre. People didn’t even have to ask. She’ll just give them toys and insist they take it home. That they should have it. For keeps. Why? Like you really didn’t know the answer. Well, according to our daughter, “because Barney says sharing is a special way of caring dad!” I blame Barney for half of the poverty that we have suffered in our lives. I never saw him handing out Barney toys. Oh no, those you had to buy. Jeeze.

Oh, we went to the concerts and the plays. She had the outfit. The posters on the wall. You name it. Barney was bigger than Purple Rain was in the 80’s. Well, purple mullet blobbie Barney sold more stuff to our little household than Prince The Artist Previously Known As Prince Symbol “that guy” sold albums worldwide in the 80’s.

And then she met him…

That broke the ice a bit. Barney looked like Barney. He was pretty friendly. Signed her a nice picture of himself – the one he just gave her. Smiled for a photo with her (Okay, he always smiled. Like it was stuck on. Or as if it was a mask.) He gave her a big hug. A big old Barney hug. He danced a bit. Did the stuff she loved. But there was one tiny little problem. This Barney had a South African accent. Haha! Revenge! No more crushes. Or rather… Barney, feel me fists crush you! Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaa! (Dr Evil laughter in the background.)

After that came Horatio Hornblower. A television series about a swashbuckling Englishman roaming the seas. The guy she had the crush on is the same guy who played the stretchie guy in Fantastic Four. She never missed a program. Oh, he was a bit of a wimp really. An English toff. But he was better than her third crush…

Steven “Budda” Seagal… Yes, it was that bad. We left the television on by accident and didn’t realize that Under Siege was on. She walked past as Steven… I mean, Casey Ryback, was about to hit another guy into oblivion by just moving his thumb at lightning speed. Bam! The guy goes down and Steven takes another 30 guys down by flicking his hair back. You know how it goes. And my daughter was staring at the telly. And all she could say was, “Dad. Did you just see that? This guy is tough! Hey dad? Can you do that dad?” Thanks Steven. I think I still have problem with my left leg muscles in winter. I looked more like Spongebob Squarepants doing karate than Steven Seagal. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I know the dog never truly recovered. It was an accident. I swear.

I was really hoping her first crush would be Nelson Mandela. No luck. She loved him to bits. But he really isn’t much of a pin-up. She read his books, but no crush. Heck. I would have been happy with Bruce Springsteen. Hell, I played his music often enough. But no, she went with Purple Blob, Toff and the Fat Guy.

So that’s the stories of my oldest daughter and her first crushes. Now it is some smooth boy from High School Musical or something. Not sure. They change faster than I change my underwear nowadays.

Guess what? I think my youngest has got her first crush as well. Guess who?

“Dad! Look! It’s President Obama!” Yeah! I think she might just have a crush on him!

Or maybe it is me pushing my luck here. Maybe it is Mandela all over again. Maybe she really likes him. But more like a photo and a story. Nothing more. Maybe she’s got a crush on the dinosaur. Oh God please no. Not McCain…

It’s fun to watch the girls grow up. To see their crushes. Better than seeing actual boys visiting…

But tell me, who was your first crush? You want to know who was mine? You’ll never guess. I was just a little bloke. A laaitie as we would say in South Africa. You really want to know? Haha! You’ll be surprised! Go here and see for yourself. She was in all the movies late on a Sunday night back in South Africa. Once we got television in 1978.

I am just happy that she didn’t last long. Stevie Nicks and then Cindy Lauper were much better picks…

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

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

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At last a guy with some brains…

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

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

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

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

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Lastly…

FUCK YEAH!

and…

THANK YOU!

__________________________________

(Tomorrow we can go back to normal…)

This post was inspired by Monroe Anderson (I still can’t believe that he reads my blog. I am not worth the crossing of his t’s. He is the man.)

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The first shop I went to when we landed here in the US two years ago was a convenience store just down the road from us. It’s called Honey Farms. Just your run-of-the-mill convenience store like a 7-Eleven. Nothing much. Bread, milk, cigarettes, Coke and chocolates. Everything I need to get through the day if pushed. That’s where I met them. The people working at Honey Farms.

The first guy I met was this old guy that must been at least 65 in the shade. But still in excellent shape. He cycles to work and back. We just called him ‘the old guy’. My lovely wife knew who I was talking about whenever I told her I had a chat with the old guy at Honey Farms. He was the first American I had a just a normal general chat with. Good guy. Exceptionally good guy.

It started off like any normal chat for us foreigners over here in smaller towns. The accent. He loved my wife’s accent. Called it “the Queen’s English”. Well, she does have a pretty good English accent even though she is South African. He made her talk just so he could listen to her accent. And then he will just be like a little kid and be all giddy. And tell all the other customers to listen to her speak. Yes, I think he had a bit of a crush on her.

I didn’t get the same treatment. But then, my accent is a bit more harsh. Less exotic, more farmer. But what can you do? We did have many good chats – me and the old guy from Honey Farms. Anything really – and he was as funny as hell.

Whenever I bought my cigarettes he would offer me “free” matches. And he used to say that they are so committed to customer service that they are happy to replace the matches if I am unhappy with them at any time. Yes, they were free to start off with.

Or the time I walked in and asked if they had dish washing liquid or tablets for the dishwasher. He made a huge scene claiming that they have the best dishwasher liquid in the whole of downtown Natick – if not in greater downtown Natick. (You can’t buy or find it anywhere else in downtown Natick.) He went to tell me how good this dishwasher liquid is. His wife swears by it. And he has never had a customer come back to say it didn’t do the job. With a smile I asked him if he has ever used it. He shook his head and said no. Never used the stuff. He still washes his dishes by hand. And then laughed a bit more. Both of us.

Yeah, he was a funny guy. Always something funny to say or a smart comment to make me leave with a smile.

But it always bugged me. Why is he still working when he should be taking it easy? When he should be retired. So I asked him. I asked him why is he still working. And he stared at me for a little while. And then just uttered a simple little concept…

“healthcare…”

“Why healthcare”, I asked. Simple, he needs to be covered if something happens to him or his wife. Especially in their old age. And he needs the extra money to pay for it. As security for when they really need it. The government will help but it might not be enough. In his old age he has to worry about that. He never had to worry about it when he was covered when he was young and healthy and looked after.

He also told me that he got his daughter a job at Honey Farms. But that he had to make her stop working there and found her another job. He was worried about her safety. When she worked the late shift. When some of the rougher and drunker guys came around. Nothing ever happened. But it wasn’t good for her to be exposed. It was good enough for the old man, but not good enough for his daughter.

He left my Honey Farms a few months back. He got a better offer to actually run a Honey Farms in the town next to ours. We still walk into each other now and again. And we still have our chats then. He still makes me laugh. And he still cycles to work.

Actually, he is doing more than that. One of the many discussions we had was about American addiction to cars. Hell, people will drive 200 yards to Honey Farms to buy their stuff. But more than that, single drivers keep on driving to work and back or to downtown Natick on a beautiful day when they could be walking. It bugged him. And he decided to do something about it. A campaign. A campaign to get Natick people to cycle more.

This old man decided to do it on his own. He got a plan together that we spoke about a few times. And he took it to the local authorities to get their backing. And convinced them to support him. Not with money. But with communications – posters, notices, free bicycles etc. And off he went. His “cycle more” campaign. Good for traffic and good for your health. This old man that should be retired did it because it bugged him. Never made a cent out of it. It was all about getting people out of their cars and start cycling when they go to downtown Natick. Yep, he was an activist in his own way.

I really liked him. Still do.

He is America for me. Him and the other people I have met at Honey Farms. The other slightly less old guy who knows everything anybody ever wants to know about the history of coins – American coins. Or the gay middle aged woman who suffers from depression. Or the woman whose kids always come to visit her when she works the late shift on a weekend. Or the young black kid from the wrong side of Natick that is taking extra jobs to stay out of trouble and build himself a future. All of them. They have been America to me. Proud. Strong. Easy to talk to. Friendly as hell.

Yes, they might not know as much of the world as what the world knows of them, but these people are good decent people that I would be happy to call my own. I can see in their eyes why America is great. Because they are great people.

So why am I telling you this? Why is this even important? I’ll tell you why…

…McCain and taxes…

What?

Yep, McCain and taxes. McCain is attacking Obama for wanting to raise the taxes of the wealthiest of Americans. One key line of argument from McCain is that the top 1% of Americans will pay almost 35% of American taxes under the Obama plan. That just doesn’t sound right. That is just unfair. It isn’t just. Why should 1% pay so much of the taxes? Well… Because that same 1% also own almost 35% of America’s net worth. That’s why. Mr McCain.

If you own 35% then it makes perfect sense that 35% of the taxes will come from you. Easy economics. Not socialism. Just easy economics.

And before I forget. Just 10% of the population owns 71% of America’s wealth… I expect that 10% to pay 71% of the taxes…

I won’t even mention that “in a survey of 120 major cities, New York was found to be the ninth most unequal in the world and Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Miami had similar inequality levels to those of Nairobi, Kenya and Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Many were above an internationally recognised acceptable “alert” line used to warn governments”. I won’t go into that. Just saying that the distribution of wealth in America is beyond unfair. It ranks with the most unjust systems in the world…

Tell me why should the wealthiest not pay according to the share of wealth they have? Are they better than the old guy from Honey Farms? Do they mean more to America than the Honey Farms people? I don’t think that either group means more to America than the other. Or at least, I don’t believe that either group should mean more to America. CEO’s can be replaced as easily as the guy in Honey Farms. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. I work with CEO’s of some of the biggest American companies out there today. The biggest of the biggest. The best of the best. Make no mistake… I can count on my one hand how many of them are truly irreplaceable. And they generally earn a sh*tload of money. Way more than their counterparts from the rest of the world.

I get it that they earn more. I have no problem there. Maybe I have a problem with the extremes of what they earn, but I do get that they should earn a nice package to keep them in the job. But they are not more American than the old guy from Honey Farms. That much I know.

He has worked his backside off for this country. Never moaned. Never bitched. Never complained. When they ask him to serve he serves. When they ask him to sacrifice he sacrifices. He, and everyone else at Honey Farms, are the backbone of this country as much as what the CEO is. Without him there is no America. America is not a country of CEO’s. America is a country of Americans. And everyone should pay their share of being able to call themselves American. The old guy paid his dues. Through sweat and taxes. Even today in his old age. He kept that CEO in his job. Buying his stuff and protecting his rights. The CEO can afford to pay more taxes so that the old guy doesn’t have to work in his old age. Or that the woman suffering from depression can get good help even though she can’t afford it. She works her butt off. Each and every day. She doesn’t sit back and do nothing. She contributes. She pays taxes. According to what she can. Her share. Even though her share of the American wealth is nothing compared to the CEO. We can’t expect him to let it “trickle down”. It won’t. It never has. It’s a fallacy that Reagan tried to sell and we now know it doesn’t work. Mr CEO doesn’t buy from Honey Farms.

One more thing… Patriotism.

Conservative Republicans keep on saying that the American companies will take their business elsewhere if they don’t get the “breaks”. Can we then please question the patriotism of these companies? Who are they? Let’s all stop buying from them if they hate America so much. They made their money off the back of American sweat and American consumers. And now they want to leave? They made their American Dream come true through the hard work and money of other Americans. They made their American Dream off the back and sweat and hard earned cash of those Americans who defines the true American Dream – freedom, justice and liberty without the money attached. Let’s leave them alone if they don’t show the same commitment to America as the old guy from Honey Farms.

I like my old guy from Honey Farms. I like everyone who works at Honey Farms. They taught me about America. Not the CEO and his buddies that I have known for many years. They are also Americans. But they are not America. It was Honey Farms that made me realize what America is all about. The spirit. The belief. The patriotism. The people.

I earn more than the guy at Honey Farms. Way more. I don’t earn $250,000 p.a. (Not yet!) But I am willing to pay a little more to make sure that the old guy from Honey Farms can just ride his bicycle and not worry about the cost of his healthcare. He is America and I am willing to do what it takes to make that work. I am willing to pay my share according to the share I own and earn. That should be the American way.

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.

Dear John,

I know we haven’t spoken for a while. Not since I broke up with you a few months ago. You remember my Dear John letter? Did you even get it? Very rude of you not to write back. I mean really. Did you have to take breaking-up so seriously? Live with it John. It’s over between the two of us. But I thought we could still be friends… Not that I missed you or anything. Puh-leeze… I need you like I need another 100 years of war.

What have you been up to? No, don’t answer. I don’t really want to hear. I see and hear enough on telly. You are seriously messing up my Lost and Raising The Bar time. Talking about Lost, how’s the election going? That Obama dude is really Raising The Bar isn’t he. The audacity of the man. To actually stand for something. And something good as well. I know, it is just not on in politics. But hey, what can you do?

But I am here to help John. Wait! Really, I have a few tips for you. (Just ask Sarah, I gave her a few tips as well.) Things you can use as you try and scare enough people to vote for you. Trust me, it comes from the deepest part of my heart. You know, that part that belongs to only you. The deepest and darkest part. I give you these tips in the hope that you could use them as you move along in your life outside of politics. I mean as you move along to retirement.

Missus in a bottle...

Missus in a bottle...

1. Having a beer woman on your side gets you no points if you don’t share.

Come on John. Didn’t you learn anything from Barney they Dinosaur?  Remember what he said? “Sharing is a special way of caring?” Not sharing isn’t very nice you know. Do you know that people voted for Bush because they think he is the kinda guy they would like to have a beer with? I know, it shouldn’t really be a criteria for who you want to run the country. But hey, what are you going to do? You get what you voted for. But you can learn from this. These people don’t really care about wars and money and stuff. So don’t worry about trying to figure that one out. If you don’t have it or get it by now you really shouldn’t bother. But dude! You have a babe with over $100 million worth of beers on your side! Not fair for not sharing. Why don’t you just promise a free round for everyone? No! Not a free round of more wars you idiot. A free round of beers! Hell, people are losing their homes and the kids are fighting a stupid war in Iraq – They could do with a drink you know. Come on John, ask Cindy for a few beers to share around. I would take one as well. You know, to drown my sorrows if you win. It might just make me forget.

2. Flip-flops are shoes and not a policy.

Summer is almost over dude. You have to get rid of the flip-flops. Both. Yes, the shoes and the policies. I mean really. The shoes are only good for one season but the policies… They come back to bite you in the ass for years to come. Oh, you can have more than one pair of flip-flop shoes, but you should really try to stick to one set of policies. Treat it like you would treat your wife. Have one and stick to her. Oh wait… Sorry… But on the policy front. Pick a policy and stick to one. I don’t care what it is, just make up your mind. Sooner or later people will start noticing the closer we get to winter. And they will realize you still have your flip-flops on. But then, I guess it is better than thongs. The shoes and the underwear.

3. A chick that smiles at you isn’t always hot or a running mate.

Dude! Nice one! I see you got a chick to run with you. Unfortunately she wasn’t running away with you. Or even away from you. That would have been so much easier. But man, you gotta learn. Even at your old age. Not every girl you meet that smiles at you has got the hots for you. Or should be your running mate. Look she isn’t hot. And I don’t just mean her looks. I mean her baggage. All those rumors up there in Alaska. The firing of the Commissioner. The debt she left behind in that little town. She’s a bit lightweight isn’t she? Or as we would call it in South Africa – wet behind the ears. And she might be foreign to mainland US or far off or spaced out, but it doesn’t give her foreign policy experience. What the hell do you think Putin is going to do with her? Hey, he is second in command over there in Russia you know. Doesn’t quite compare now does she? I hear he loves barracuda for breakfast. Sorry John. You’ve been had. She isn’t hot – no matter which way you look at it. But at least you have something in common I guess. You both love flip-flops.

4. Hugging a man does not make you gay. Just stupid.

Come on John. Be honest with us here. You have a man-crush on him don’t you? I saw that look in your eyes. That big hug with your head resting on his shoulder. A sweet whisper in his hear. A brush of the cheeks. It made you feel all giddy didn’t it? It made you feel all warm inside. But don’t confuse that with love John. It isn’t love. It’s envy. You are just envious that a little man that couldn’t run a baseball team to save his life beat you back then, aren’t you? And that he started a senseless war before you could, aren’t you? And that he became the worse President before you could ruin it, aren’t you? I know John. It is difficult to take. But you don’t have to become him or love him to be your own man. Come on. You are a big boy now. You just look stupid trying to be a Little Dubya II. But you two sure look nice in that hug. Twins almost. I could hardly tell you apart. Almost like your policies. Ever seen the movie Dumb and Dumber, John?

I love your wars big fella

I love your wars big fella

5. John, you are not del.icio.us. DiggIt?

I know you are trying to be all cool and hip. But really, it isn’t working that well. You gotta get with it John. I know you don’t get “the Internets” and all that computer stuff. But you are not helping yourself here. Email has nothing to do with she-males from Taiwan. They are similar in that they can deliver a message. But it is a message we should rather not go into. And MySpace isn’t the Reagan space programme. FaceBook isn’t about you being on the cover of “Guns Daily”. Digg isn’t an oil policy. StumbleUpon isn’t the way to get a foreign policy or any policy for that matter. MicroSoft isn’t something that can be fixed by Viagra. iPod isn’t something used to escape from the Starship Enterprise (that’s fictional by the way). Apple isn’t what the doctor told you to have. HP isn’t a sauce for you meat. Del.icio.us isn’t Sarah Palin’s vetting process. LinkedIn isn’t about your relationship with Dubya. RSS Feed isn’t an official aid policy. TreeHugger isn’t a Gore family member (well, not really). FeedBurner is not about GM crops. Spock does not know Captain Kirk. PayPal is not a donor. And Twitter is not for the birds. But okay, you might be a Twit.

6. Say after me, “P” in POTUS stands for President.

It’s easy, I taught my kids to spell this way. Say after me… P.O.T.U.S. stands for President Of The United States. You knew that’s POTUS stood for that right? No, not POT-ASS. That’s something else. It stands for PRESIDENT of the United States. I know it is a big surprise. But there you have it. I didn’t make the rules. It does not stand for Pandering OR The Ultimate Sell-out. Or even Pathetic Overtures That Ultimately Suck. No-no, John. It actually means you have to have the balls to run this country. You can’t pander just to try and become President. You actually have to stand for something other than just becoming POTUS. Look at what happened the last time you went for the “Don’t-Know” option. Endless wars and an economy that is tanking. And you are owned by China and the Middle-East. Balls please John. Or else you will make the US into Please, Our Time’s Up Sir. How low can you take it John? We are pretty rock-bottom as we speak. And do remember that the POTUS is also FOR the United States. Not for McCain. There is no J or M in POTUS. You should do it for the country and not for yourself. You should want to be President for and of the US and not just to be called President McCain. So don’t just say anything to become President. Rather say something “just” to become President. Hum… that last “just” is like in righteous or truthful. We get it from a little word that might be foreign to you – justice. This isn’t about you wanting to be President. This is about being the President Of The United States. Putting yourself first is not what America needs. Putting America first is what America needs.

7. The comb-over is not even old school.

I know you are trying hard. Hard to be one of the cool boys. But that hair just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in the same way that you weak attempts at telling us nothing about yourself doesn’t work. No matter which way you comb it. You can brush it to the left or brush it to the right. We still know that it is a comb-over. Like we know you are anti-sex education, anti-choice, anti-peace and anti-everything in line with more of a typical Republican right-winger. It remains a comb-over and it sucked even in the 70s. But I guess it doesn’t suck as much as your policies and the party you stand for. Your comb-over isn’t “old school”. But your politics are old school. Straight from the books back then in the 60s (and even today) – control through fear. Shave your head McCain. It might look a bit cooler. Or hang your head in shame McCain and realize that people have freedom today. Of speech. Of choice. And of self.

8. Only Texans make more sense when speaking louder.

I have seen it before. People from Texas start speaking louder the further they get away from Texas. They have “Texan logic” to back-up their claim that people from a foreign country, like Massachusetts or France, will understand them better if they speak louder. But you are not Texan my friend. You don’t make more sense the louder you speak. You just create more white noise. A lie is a lie no matter how loud you say it. No matter how many times you say it. A lie remains a lie. No. Matter. How. Many. Times. You. Say. It. Take it from me. Slow down, speak softly and tell the truth. Like the fact that your tax proposal will actually increase the taxes I pay. And that you stand for… Hum… What do you stand for again?

9. Kool-Aid can be bad for your health.

I know you used to drink this stuff when you were a kid. But hey, we didn’t know about the problems with smoking or big fat hamburgers back then either. Kool-Aid is bad for you John. You shouldn’t drink it. The Kool-Aid that the economy is just fine. Don’t drink it John. And don’t sell it at your lemonade stand either. Or would that be a soap box? That Kool-Aid that drilling would make you energy independent. Don’t drink it John. Bad for your health. And bad for the health of the economy. That Kool-Aid that Iraq is doing just fine. Don’t drink it John. It’s not Disney you know. It’s Baghdad where the bombs still go off daily. Remember that walk in the market? Did you see they didn’t sell Kool-Aid? It’s because of the 100 troops on the ground, gunships in the air and armored vehicles on the roads that kept you in fresh Kool-Aid. That Kool-Aid should be left alone John. It’s no good for you and no good for America. And no thank, I don’t want any.

10. Please don’t scare the kids.

Last thing John. You really shouldn’t scare the children. You know how easily they scare. How easily they fill up with fear. Not nice John. Not nice at all. You should really let them grow up a bit. Let them decide for themselves. Tell them the truth. Tell them they are old enough to stand on their own two legs. I mean really. They aren’t even kids anymore. They are grown ups. Maybe you should share some truths with them. Tell them that America is a powerful nation. Tell them that America stands for something good. Tell them that not everyone hates America. Tell them that it is better to love as Americans than to hate as a world. Tell them it is better to talk first as America than to bomb first in the name of America. Tell them there are no monsters under their beds. Tell them that you might not know the future but that you stand for more than being anti-everything-Obama-says. Tell them that Obama was right about the withdrawel date in Iraq. Tell them that they will pay more taxes under you than under Obama. Tell them that you made a mistake in your first big decision by nominating Palin as your running mate. Tell them that you voted for the scary monster under the bed 90% of the time while he has been in the office. Tell them that your oil policies won’t get America an inch closer to energy independence. Tell them that you love big oil and anyone else who are willing to fund your run at the White House. Tell them that your senior advisers are all big lobbyist from DC and that they run your campaign. Tell them that you don’t need universal healthcare because you can afford you own private healthcare. Tell them you aren’t one of them because you are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Tell them you don’t worry about them losing their house because you have 7… 10… 12… Who knows and who is counting? Tell them that gas prices will remain high as hell as long as you sit in your big fat SUV with your big fat ego. Tell them that you will strip the forests to make sure that you have more paper to write your memoirs of pain. Tell them that you will continue to torture people in their name. Tell them that you want them to be at war for at least a 100 years and that they will suffer the consequences long after you are gone. Tell them who you are John. Tell them the truth. But then… Maybe not… Because that would be really scary and then they might know real fear.

 

There you go my boy! Ten easy tips even you can understand. I hope you have a fun time. Just look in the mirror and repeat after me John… “I must be better and more honest than what I really am. The truth will set me free. And I’ll just sit down and cry if that doesn’t work”. Repeat a thousand time and take an Aspirin.

John, John… John. What are we going to do with you? Or rather, where are you going to take us John? I’ve been there and it is not pretty. A country filled with hate and fear. We don’t need that John. We need love and hope. Give it to us or please leave the room.

Remember John, if you want to play this game of hate and fear then we’ll play the same right back at you! No more Mr Nice guy. You must be confusing me with some liberal. I am not. I am African.

Worst wishes, no love and hope to never see you again,

Angry African (on the Loose)

A bumper addition. Can’t help it. Too much news going around I guess. Lost in Africa. And guess what. I am not touching US politics this week! Okay, maybe just a little…

1. Fighting corruption the Nigerian way

Oh Nigeria… Good old Nigeria decided to fight corruption. At last. Get rid of this plague that has been haunting this beautiful country. But it didn’t go according to plan. This week Nigeria’s anti-corruption police had to sack 11 of its own officials. Why? Because most of them lied about their academic credentials and one for trying to defraud a suspect. Or as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) called it “forgery and other fraudulent acts”.  I can think of another word that also uses a “F” and a “C” that might be a better way to describe the Nigerian anti-corruption efforts. I think these guys used to work as consultants for Jack Abramoff’s and worked as Tom Delay’s special advisers.

2. Parliamentary priviledges the Zimbabwean way

What a big week in Zimbabwe. The newly(ish) elected parliamentarians got to go to parliament for the first time. And it was meant to be a changing of the guards. You know. The MDC won the election. Even after loser Bob “I-Murder-Before-Breakfast” Mugabe tried his best to get his party to win. And it was going to be a big day. They had to vote for the Speaker of Parliament. Guess what Bob “Crazier-Than-Bush” Mugabe did? He arrested opposition politicians as they entered parliament to be sworn in. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF hoped that enough opposition politicians would get arrested so that they (the ZANU-PF) would have enough votes to elect the Speaker. And how sad is this? They still lost the vote. Enough ZANU-PF members voted for the opposition MDC. So the new Speaker is from the MDC. I think that these people were the same people who organized the FEMA response to Katrina.

3. Mugabe is a “…”

We all want to say it. Hell. Some of us have actually said it. But you can’t do that in Zimbabwe. A guy got arrested in Zimbabwe for describing Bob “I-Have-No-Morals” Mugabe as a “female genital organ”. In all fairness, I would do it as well. Chuck the guy in jail. I mean really. It is an insult to… hum… “female genital organs”. Here is the clincher. Guess what was the guy’s name? And I am not joking. His name is Pinas. I think these were the same guys who worked for the main-stream media from 2001 to around 2006 in the US. They got fired and some journalist actually started developing a backbone again.

4. OMG! I just switched you off! LOL!

This one puzzles me a bit. The Kenya Power and Lighting Company has introduced new cutting-edge technology to communicate a very third world thing. They are going to text people to tell them that their electricity will be cut thanks to “supply interruptions” – read, we’re outa juice. Now here is the three things that puzzles me. Firstly, why can’t they introduce some new technology to keep the electricity flowing? You know? Buy some new cables instead of the latest iPhone. Secondly, where the hell do you get the electricity to charge your phone? Do you have a long extension cord to a neighboring country with a steady supply? Lastly, how the hell can you send a text if the electricity is down? You know, everything shuts down. Even the towers sending the signals. But then. Logic shouldn’t be part of it right? I think the guys who worked on this plan were the same guys who works on the US energy efficiency and oil independence policies.

5. A trial leading nowhere

Looks like the ANC is pulling the trusted “good cop, bad cop” treatment on the judges looking into Zuma’s corruption trial. First Blade “Short-Shit” Nzimande climbed into the judges for investigating Zuma. Do remember that Blade has a casual relationship with justice. I mean, as the leader of the Communist Party, he has a very old-school communist way of looking at justice. Then Motlanthe came out defending the judges. Okay, I won’t even try to explain it, but according to party leaders these two positions are not at odds with the party line. No idea how that logic works. I know these guys worked for the Bush administration. Why? Because in a Scooter Libby type move, Blade also said he is not going to rule out the possibility of an arms deal amnesty as a way forward. Hello Scooter.

6. Circumcision not a rip-off

And you thought I was joking! They actually found a new way to do circumcision. But, to quote them, “the question that arose was how the procedure could be rolled out universally. The new method is called the ShangRing. I think it is very unfortunate that this is a Chinese inventor. I don’t think anything to do with circumcision should have the sound of a knife as part of its name – “Shang” (can you hear the ring as the knife cuts through the… hum… you know…). How does it work? I am not going to tell you. But if you know what mulesing is… It is something similar. I like the fact that Dr Marc Goldstein said that “Shang promises to be faster, safer and more acceptable to patients than conventional surgical circumcision methods”. I am sorry. No “Shang” will be more acceptable to the guy getting his willy cut. And how about this one by Dr Howard Kim, “The beauty of this device is its simple, innovative design”. Sorry Dr Kim. The ShangRing is not an iPod or iPhone. It is never going to take off. No pun intended.

There is no foreskin toothfairy

There is no foreskin toothfairy

7. What’s in a name?

It seems as if the Thai people are getting fed up with the corruption that is so rife in their government. And like all good people pissed off, they decided to take to the streets. And they protested and ranted and threw their toys. All for democracy. The People’s Alliance for Democracy has drawn the line and want change now. No more corruption. And that is what democrats everywhere would want – a democratic government free of corruption. And with a name like that it is clear they want new elections. Right? Wrong! They aren’t protesting to get new elections. Nope. They are protesting for a “new coup”! They want the military to take over again. Either the Thais just don’t get this democracy thing or something got seriously lost in translation.

8. Canadians are weird

At last. At last they broke one of the major crime mysteries in Canada. A crime that has Canadians on the edge of their seats. Choking on their blubber because of the audacity of this crime. The Canadian version of Capone. The thief of all thieves. You could lock it but he always found a way. No chains could hold him back. But they got this man who terrorized communities all across Moose country. Free. Free at last. They got him. Him. The bicycle thief. Yes. The bicycle thief. But not just a run-of-the-mill bicycle thief. No. They found over 3,000 bicycles. 3,000 bicycles. What the hell was he going to do with 3,000 bicycles? I don’t know. But then, it is Canada. I think he was planning on starting their version of NASCAR.

Be afraid...

Be afraid...

9. Just don’t answer the phone

You sit there in your lounge and the phone rings. Bloody phone. Interrupting American Idol. And who called? The dreaded telemarketer. So you do what every proud American does at least once a week. You hang up on the idiot who phoned. That’ll teach them. You just sat down and settled in for some more Simon Cowell – to see how high he can pull up his pants this time. And the phone rings again. It’s the telemarketer again. But this time they have a message for you. “If you don’t want to get contacted if somebody wins, then don’t put your name in it.  That was just such a girl thing to do. Wimp,” yelled the telemarketer to poor old Randall Whited. And then slammed the phone down. One mistake though. The telemarketer must have forgotten that this is America. In England you just shake your head and say, “How rude.” And then go back to watch EastEnders. But this is the US. Here you will get your ass sued baby. And that is just what Randall is thinking about. I guess it could have been worse. If Randall was in England he would have been called by a telemarketer in India shouting insults at the British version of curry. And you know you should never touch an Englishman and his curry. Mind you, I don’t think they would have understood each other in any case.

10. When Obama is right…

Remember when McCain and Bush laughed at Obama and his plan to get American troops out of Iraq in 16 months? To get a timetable for the pullout of the troops? Well, it seems as if John “100-Years-In-Iraq” McCain has to eat some major humble pie. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called her bluff just a week after Condoleezza Rice said that America was only in Iraq on the invitation of the Iraqi government. And then the Iraqi government said, “Get the hell out”. And gave them a deadline. Come Condi, you said it yourself. You will leave when you are not wanted anymore. Message clear? Come on McCain? Get the message? You were wrong. And Obama was (and is) right. Now take a cue from the Iraqi pullout deadline and get yourself a pullout deadline. I call it November 2008.

Like I said. A bumper issue! Hope you had fun.