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Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Barrack Obama: the great orator (?)
From time to time, a senior politician puts in an abysmal performance and gets away with ludicrous, or non-existent, answers. George W. Bush was 'a class act' in this respect. I particularly remember watching his televised news conference on 13 April 2004:
American President George Bush grimaced, sighed, rambled and chuckled under his breath on Tuesday, before saying he could not think of a single mistake he had made since the September 11 attacks.Here's how Reuters reported it.
Bush appeared a total buffoon, not for the first time.
Move on five years and we have a new US president who is hailed as a great orator. The contrast with The Shrub is, of course, quite marked but, faced with a similar, very well thought-out, question from the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson, did Obama do much better? I happened to watch the news conference live and I thought that, although he waffled for some time, Obama actually said very little. Here's the devastating question:
A question for you both, if I may. The prime minister has repeatedly blamed the United States of America for causing this [economic] crisis. France and Germany both blame Britain and America for causing this crisis. Who is right? And isn't the debate about that at the heart of the debate about what to do now?A pretty good probe, don't you think? It's clearly a question more of the Have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife-yet? type, to which there isn't a diplomatic answer.
Well, here's a link to an amusing transcript of Obama's waffled reply, together with the author's suggestions about what Obama is thinking while he is 'replying'.
This reminds me of nothing so much as George W. Bush at his best. According to many accounts, Obama has been well-received around the World, but the nonsense he talks about Turkey may come back to haunt him and, indeed, us all. Here are some Turkey facts: the country is secular, even though its 72 million inhabitants are more than 90% Muslim. For Obama to talk about the country as being part of the Muslim world is risible and dangerous: there are religious Turkish parties that want Turkey to become a Muslim state and Obama's words will only encourage them.
Several years ago, I had a discussion with a former Turk, now a naturalized Briton; he explained that, with such a large population, an attachment to 'The Nasty Religion', and exaggerated literacy rates, the country would not be a welcome member of the EU for many years. Monsieur Sarkozy and Frau Merkl well-realize this. That's why they oppose Turkish membership. For Obama to push this is a bit much: he doesn't seem to understand Europe at all.
The Turkish army is the one secular institution that 'can be relied upon'. They have made it clear that attempts to Mohammedanise the country would cause a counter-coup. As democrats, we don't want that, do we?
Obama has made a good start; by contrast to his predecessor, he's brilliant, but The Shrub wasn't much competition. If Obama, through ham-fistedness or over-concern for the American view when a guest in Europe, creates a Muslim Trojan horse, there would be the devil to pay.
If you don't understand, keep your trap shut, Barrack; you managed it pretty well with Nick Robinson's question, didn't you?
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Modernizing the Monarchy
I see that the 'The Palace' has been discussing some reforms to the position of the Crown under the 1701 Act of Settlement. One of the Act's provisions is to secure Protestant succession to the throne. Thus, (prospective) monarchs forfeit their hereditary rights should they marry a Roman Catholic, given Rome's strictures about mixed marriages which should, effectively be Catholic.
At the same time, the feudal precedence of male heirs, irrespective of their ages, in the matter of succession to the UK throne, is also under consideration. Public opinion in the UK is very much in favour of both sorts of reform. A BBC poll suggest that
89% of Britons are in favour of equal rights for women andIt appears that the changes, one day, will be made as a package. There is a possibility that the Vatican would lift its strictures about the upbringing of children only in the special case of those born to a reigning, or prospective, British monarch married to a Catholic.
You can read the BBC article here; so far, so good: it all looks pretty sensible, doesn't it? However, contrast this with the following.
A 9-year old Brazilian girl was recently given an abortion after years of abuse by her stepfather. The local archbishop excommunicated those associated with the surgical termination but not the abusing stepfather. Read more here.
Then, there's this:
One of the world's most prestigious medical journals, the Lancet, has accused Pope Benedict XVI of distorting science in his remarks on condom use. It said the Pope's recent comments that condoms exacerbated the problem of HIV/Aids were wildly inaccurate and could have devastating consequences. The Pope had said the "cruel epidemic" should be tackled through abstinence and fidelity rather than condom use.Read the full story here.
Richard Dawkins was reported in the Daily Telegraph as saying 'The Pope is either stupid, ignorant or dim'. Dawkins himself denies that he said that,
I did not say the Pope is "stupid, ignorant or dim" – I hope I would never say anything so repetitive. My exact words were "stupid, ignorant or wicked."That's a bit more like it! (See Comment 3.)
With respect to the changes sought to the 1701 Act of Settlement, even the most committed of feminists would, I suggest, forgo the primacy of the eldest female child if it meant associating the UK more formally with the Vatican's extreme and idiotic misogyny. My vote goes against changes to the status quo until we have a married, female pope.