Sunday, February 10, 2008

Choose Wisely

As a country we are currently hip deep in the pre-election campaign of "he said, she saids". We as voters are individually challenged to sort the fact from the fiction and determine who is best suited to run our country for the next 4 years.

Right now, I find myself getting annoyed with the respective candidates speeches and the negative spins associated with them. And after a while it all starts to sound like white noise. But when it gets too much, I have to remind myself why we vote to begin with and why we currently have the system we have. Because despite all of its imperfections, we still find ourselves living in one of the best countries in the world. And during those times when I forget this fact or take it for granted... all I have to do is talk to a few of my friends who live in other parts of the world to remind me of just how lucky I am to be where I am.

For example, if you were living in South Africa right now...your power company
ESKOM would be telling you that they are no longer able to cater for your power needs, nor the needs of the rest of the current population. To make matters worse, ESKOM would then refuse to take responsiblity for this problem- despite being the sole energy supplier for the entire Republic of South Africa. Rather, they will suggest that there wouldnt be an issue to begin with, if people were more conservative with their power usage....and then try to spin the idea that the "booming" South African economy is somehow to be blamed (despite ESKOM cutting power to the goldmines and undermining the very same economy they refer to).

Unfortunately... ESKOM forgets that it was told in 1997 that South Africa was headed for this very serious problem. Not only that..but it was also predicted that if things were not corrected by the year 2007 they would be in crisis. And guess what? It seems that the predictions were correct... because as things stand right now, the people of South Africa are experiencing something called "rolling blackouts". This means that at pretty much any given time during the day their power will be shut off for up to three hours at at a time... and theres not a thing they can do about it

So I naturally have to wonder what the American response would be if they were told the very same thing? Can you even imagine a power company for one of our States telling us we would have to do without power for up to three hours a day, every day? This would pretty much mean no traffic lights. No power for hospitals. No power for schools. No power for grocery stores... and of course plenty of opportunity for crime.

Which brings me to my next point. As a nation we are not without crime, but over all this country is still a relatively safe place to live. Especially when compared to South Africa, which is currently averaging about 55 deaths a day. But dont be fooled- these deaths are not due to accident or illness. These are deaths due to violent crimes such as murder, rape, car jacking or robbery. A sum total that equates to around 20,000 fatalities a year. Which, when you consider the size of South Africa and its population... is disturbing to say the least. Its even more so when you realize that in 2006 the deaths due to crime in South Africa and the deaths due to the war in Iraq were almost equal in number.

So yes, we may not like all the candidates before us in this election. I will even admit that as a rule, third party candidates do not fair as well when it actually comes to winning an election. But in this country if you have a strong enough platform on which you campaign, you can be taken seriously as a potential candidate for the highest office in our government. Our history proves this.

But if you lived in South Africa...thats not neccessarily so. Why? Because democracy there is still in its infancy, so the candidate who is the leader of the dominant political group is pretty much guaranteed to be the next in line for the Presidency, with very little political opposition to stand in his way. Sounds good for the dominant political party, but it is actually a very bad thing for everyone else. Because for South Africa, it means that Jacob Zuma who in December 2007 was elected to lead the African National Congress (the former freedom fighting movement and current ruling party in South Africa) will succeed State President Thabo Mbeki, with very little to stand in his way and prevent him from doing so.

For those of you that don't know, this is the very same Jacob Zuma that before even stepping into Office has already been brought up on charges of rape.

This is the very same Jacob Zuma that admitted to having sex with a house guest- but denied raping the alleged victim whom he knew to be HIV postive at the time. This is the very same Jacob Zuma who was the head of the South African AIDS Council at the time of the alleged rape. The same Jacob Zuma that would later admit to having unprotected sex, and then attempt to justify this by claiming the shower he took after intercourse lessened the likelihood of contracting the deadly disease.

I personally had no idea that a hot shower was enough to prevent the spread of Aids. Apparently Mr Zuma knows something about this we don't.

But it gets better. Mr Zuma is a Zulu. And apparently in Zulu culture, leaving a woman sexually arroused is the equivalent to rape. Zuma stated that he knew the young woman in question wanted sex because she came to his house wearing a skirt and then said goodnight wearing nothing but a "kanga" (a traditional south african full length wrap) . He then claimed in court that "he had to" have unprotected sex the alleged victim due to cultural obligations and duties.

Lucky for South Africa, this fantastic political candidate was aquitted of all charges and was free to sing a song called Lethu Mshini Wami (bring me my machine gun) to the crowd outside.... at least until it was announced that he would be and is currently being investigated for the massive US$5.5 billion arms deal corruption scandal.

Hardly ideal Presidential candidate material is it?

Compared to Jacob Zuma some of our candidates (past and present- heres looking at YOU Bill) are probably looking pretty good right now. And at least we have a more realistic and relative choice. In fact we have so many choices that sometimes its hard to know which choice is the right one for our country.

But admittedly, we are not perfect. And no, our system isnt perfect either. But can you look out into the world and find one that works better? Another one that offers you the same freedoms of choice that ours does? That allows you to have the standard of living we have come to take for granted and enjoy? I dont think so.

So YES, the choices we make when we step into that booth do count. They dont just count for us....they have a ripple effect that can be felt in other places in the world.

Your vote, your decision, your choice is important...


Saturday, February 02, 2008

Feeling Smarter Already

The following was an email I recieved from a friend. It made me laugh and I thought you might enjoy it as well. Im feeling smarter about you?

(On September 17, 1994, Alabama's Heather Whitestone was selected as Miss America 1995.) Question: If you could live forever, would you and why? Answer: 'I would not live forever, because we should not Live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, Then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, Which is why I would not live forever,'

-- Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest .

'Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids All over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love To be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and Death and stuff.'
--Mariah Carey

'Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very Important part of your life.'
-- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become Spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign .

'I've never had major knee surgery on any other part Of my body'
-- Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward .

'Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the Lowest crime rates in the country'
--Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .

'I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through Our papers. We are the president.'
-- Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of Subpoenaed documents.

'That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death By a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it.'

--A congressional candidate in Texas .

'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's The impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
--Al Gore, Vice President
'We are ready for an un foreseen event that May or may not occur.'
-- Al Gore, VP

'Half this game is ninety percent mental.'
--Philadelphia Phillies manager, Danny Ozark

'I love California . I practically grew up in Phoenix .'
-- Dan Quayle

'We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much Clean air do we need ?'
--Lee Iacocca

'The word 'genius' isn't applicable in football. A Genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.'
--Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback & sports analyst.

'We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exclude Certain types of people.'
-- Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor .

'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'
--Bill Clinton, President

'Traditionally, most of Australia 's imports come From overseas.'
--Keppel Enderbery 'Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that You passed away. May God bless you. You may Reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.'

--Department of Social Services, Greenville , South Carolina

'If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack In at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their Heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when They wake up dead, there'll be a record.'
--Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman