Politicans and world leaders making news and in the news, and spouting hot air
AS it says: THE SeriousPolicy Game sets the player on a mission to win Treasury funding for a new policy. Players can get advice from Tony Blair, get on Alistair Darling’s nerves, or get congratulated by the PM. Along the way you wander through a virtual Members’ Lobby, pop into a simulated Treasury and are summoned to a stunningly realistic digital Number 10. A Paris Hilton look-alike provides some light relief and the MC has more than a passing resemblance to Keira Knightly.
But this isn’t satire. It’s designed as an example of how computer games can be put to serious use – for both citizen engagement and education. This game aims to:
- Demonstrate how political processes and decision making can be brought to life in a fun and interesting way through a virtual world
- Highlight to players, whether they be citizens or policy makers, the importance of public engagement in the decision-making process
Got a gun for this shoot ’em up? (Only joking)…
“We may have our political gross-out moment of the year already, with the Democrat-Republican group hug that followed the GOP debate”
Politicians hugging each other; kissing each – what happened to kissing babies and nannies?
The story of the young man and his spudhead began in 2004, when Green inherited the toy from his dying grandfather. Grandpa Robert had kept the faux spud on his bedroom shelf, Green says, and treated it like nothing more than a decoration. Green, however, wanted to show the toy around. So wherever he went — and Green’s traveled quite a bit — so went the spudhead. To the Statue of Liberty, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the Marine Corps War Memorial.
His parents and younger sister have a three-word explanation for this.
“That’s just Andy,” says his mom, Jenny Green, a secretary at Clinton Community College.
He reserves his most intense reactions for Obama and Clinton, both of whom he’s seen face-to-face a few times.
Clinton, Green says, seemed “distant,” “cold,” “fake.”
“Look at her photo with Mr. Potato Head. She’s really smiling, but it looks like a really forced smile. It’s only because I told her she’s one of the last ones to have her photo taken.”
Meanwhile, Obama, Green says, was “engaging,” “open,” “just like one of us.”
“Look at his photo with Mr. Potato Head. He got into it. He’s really having fun.”
DIZZY looks at nuclear power:
The Independent on Sunday has a rather interesting story about the development of nuclear energy policy from the Government. They say that the Government is about to publish their White Paper recommending we build more nuclear power plants (now there’s a surprise!) and part of it will include what it is calling bribes for local community to accept greater dumping of nuclear waste in their areas.
What is interesting in this whole sage is that there is also an article in the Sunday Times which accuses Brown of running an 18th Century-style family clique at the top of Government. As I read it, before the Sindy’s article, I thought to myself how they had missed the Nuclear Family Affair at the top as well.
Most people know that consultation on nuclear was a sham designed to make money for yet more of Gordon’s friends and produce an already known outcome. Now, it seems that, just in case anyone gets a little upset, they’re going to throw cash at people to keep them sweet instead.
HILLARY Clinton – why don’t they like me?
THE Highways Agency’s handy traffic forecaster goes back to the future:
THAT’S “Tory buffoon” Nicholas Soames riding a quad bike with “a youngster” perched on the back.
The Mirror (“QUAD AN IDIOT”) looks on and notes that none of the youngsters (three in all) are not wearing crash helmets, parachutes, stab-proof vests or replica football kits. An eyewitness says the vehicle can go at about 20phm. This witness is “gobsmacked” at what he sees.
Says Soames: “Come on, we were following the hounds…I was only on a public road for few hundred yards and is hardly the M25.”
Soames make his point. Gobsmacked readers may well agree. Other gobsmacked readers may hear the word hunt and wish a lingering an unpleasant death upon Soames.
But it is all about context. The Mirror notes that less than a week ago seven-year-old Elizabeth Cook was killed riding a quad bike. She was riding it on her own along an Essex Road. No foxes or “BILLY BLUNDER” MPs were involved. But the point is being made. Context is provided
Soames then ratchets it up. He wants it placed in a still bigger context. “What with Darfur, Pakistan and Kenya, it’s hardly the biggest scandal of the moment,” says he.
The Mirror then places the event in the context of education and class: “This is proof…that any expensive education is no substitute for common sense.” Soames is fat. The incident is placed in the context of the obesity epidemic.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents puts it in the context of a massacre. Talking through the grid of the organisation’s official helmet, the spokesperson says: “All those children and adults are in danger. Even a minor collision would send them flying all over the road”.
Context is all. And the argument will go on until all parties agree that in the current context of global warming it is a deep tragedy…
IN the new advert, Presidential runner Mitt Romney opines:
In the next ten years, we’ll see more progress, more change than the world has seen in the last ten centuries.
Now that’s optimism…
BENAZIR Bhutto is murdered and Gordon Brown makes a stand:
Gordon Brown: “Knowing, as she did, the threats to her life, the previous attempt at assassination, she risked everything in her attempt to win democracy in Pakistan, and she has been assassinated by cowards afraid of democracy. This is a dark day for everyone who believed in a stable and democratic future for Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto may have been killed by terrorists, but the terrorists must not be allowed to kill democracy in Pakistan. And this atrocity strengthens our resolve that terrorists will not win there, here or anywhere in the world”
No surrender. Unless…
Gordon Brown And The Taliban: “Spies from Britain’s MI6 are thought to have held at least six meetings with key Taliban figures in order to negotiate a peace deal in Afghanistan’s south-eastern Helmand province. The revelations are an embarrassment to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who just a fortnight ago denied in the British Parliament any such talks were taking place”
Fearless stuff. Benazir Bhutto is missed…
“If it means sacrificing our lives, if it means sacrificing our liberties to save Pakistan, then we are prepared to risk our lives and we are prepared to risk our liberties, but we are not prepared to surrender our great nation to the militants” – Benazir Bhutto.
Says Chiles: “So, our former leader has spent his first Christmas as a Roman Catholic. Oddly enough, so have I.”
Why this should be odd, we are not told. Only: “I became a Catholic last Easter. Be honest, when you read that you started thinking I’m, a bit of a nutter, didn’t you.”
Well, no. Honest. Cross our hearts and hope to die. A nutter is someone who smashes up a church, blows himself up on a crowded train, or converts to Islam or Judaism.
A poll of readers at Anorak Towers reveals that over half think Chiles is just someone wearing his religion on his sleeve, while the other half confesses to not giving a monkey’s if Chiles worships cargo planes, Satan or Gonks.
“And I’m not bothered if anyone thinks I’m barking,” says Chiles. Well, if you’re not bothered, then we can all move on…
“The truth is hunters are the ones who preserve the species,” says he. “In many cases extinction comes from not having some level of hunting. It’s the hunters who actually keep the wildlife alive. A lot of people think that when you hunt you’re destroying the wildlife.”
He adds: “See that’s what happens if you get in my way.”
Over here the BBC reports that the Boxing Day hunt attracted over 250,000 participants. Hunting with dogs was banned in 2005. Under the ban, dogs can still be used to follow a scent – but cannot be used to kill the fox. People still hunt, but now with the added thrill that they might be breaking the law.
Since the ban came into force, no foxes have been saved. But new Labour found a cause it could win, and it won. It showed the world that it was radical – more radical than all Labour politicians that had passed before. Ban the bomb? A referendum on a united Europe? A paedophile amnesty? No, what we really wanted was to ban fox hunting.
Here was something that would play out well in the media. Save the cuddly fox. Kill the fat upper-class twit on his horse. Kill the horse, the collaborator.
The protestors besiege the House of Commons. It looks good on the telly. One PR stunt in head on collision with another. This is no uprising. The purpose is to be heard. It is the kind of narcissism that causes disgruntled dads to wear Spiderman pyjamas and under the banner Fathers 4 Justice (“when there is a banner) make public nuisances of themselves.
Ban foxhunting. Save fox hunting. Kill germs. Save the germs. Would The League Against Cruel Sports mind if we killed wasps? Wasps are not as cuddly as foxes. But, then, have you ever cuddled a fox, a creature that looks like a maiden aunt’s coat with sharp teeth and a shifty, narrow stare.
So Huckabee shoots a pheasant and looks tough. And Tony Blair saves the fox and looks tough. And the dumb animals nod…
THE White House’s Christmas video starring the President’s Scottish Terrier, Barney, features a guest star. File under Beyond Parody:
BARBARA BUSH: Hey Barney, did I hear that you and Miss Beazley are trying to become Junior Park Rangers?
JENNA BUSH: That’s great. We love the national parks. Remember, I got engaged in one.
(Barney and Miss Beazley picture themselves getting married in their finest clothes. And then they are off to play outside. Together, they run out of the South Portico to play in the snow on the South Lawn. Barney and Miss Beazley play with their favorite balls in the snow. Then the two come rushing back into the White House and check on more decorations going up. Running around the White House, Barney, Miss Beazley and Kitty chase ornaments and inspect the trimming. After seeing all the decorations go up, Barney and Miss Beazley dash up the red carpeted stairs to see Mrs. Bush. With Miss Beazley in Mrs. Bush’s lap and Barney on the sofa beside her, Mrs. Bush reads a book about Park Rangers to them.)
MRS. BUSH: Barney and Miss Beazley, look at all the exciting things that Park Rangers do. Park Rangers are scientists and historians — they do everything – from law enforcement, to fire management, to search and rescue. Our national parks are so important.
(Barney starts daydreaming about becoming a Junior Park Ranger with Miss Beazley.)
MARY BOMAR (Director, National Park Service): Barney and Beazley, you are great supporters of the National Parks Service and you have shown tremendous commitment to our national parks. Let’s raise your paw — kids you too.
I hereby name you both Junior Park Rangers.
(Applause erupts in the background. The daydream continues with country music star Alan Jackson and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair congratulating them.)
ALAN JACKSON (country singer): Junior Park Ranger? Okay Barney, now you’ve gone country.
FORMER PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: Congratulations Barney and Miss Beazley on becoming Junior Park Rangers. Well done.
As someone born in Edinburgh, Scotland, it’s always good to see the Scots doing well.
(Barney looks at the camera, tilts his head and a “boing” sound effect is heard. Barney’s daydream ends and he’s sitting with Miss Beazley on Mrs. Bush’s lap in front of the Christmas tree in the Blue Room.)
MRS. BUSH: Barney and Beazley, I’m so proud that you all wanted to become National Park Junior Rangers. Our national parks are so important. And in fact, the lawn where you play is part of our national parks.
President Bush and I wish everyone a very happy holiday.
Catch Tony and Cherie Blair in 101 Dalmatians, at the Pavillion Thatre, Bournemouth
Writes the Guardian: “By the time she had realised her mistake – that as one of Germany’s top communists she should probably not be seen eating lobster – it was too late.
“There was no time to switch from the £16 “rich man’s dish” to a more modest platter of kippers, because Sahra Wagenknecht had already been caught on camera in the act of betraying her own political ideals.
And how did Comrade Wagenknecht react? She told an aide to get the camera and erase the images.
Says Wagenknecht: “I don’t do anything that I say others shouldn’t do. On the contrary, I’m fighting for a society in which everyone can afford to eat lobster.”
And why did she erase the pictures? Says she: “I didn’t like them.”
Lobster for me, lobster for you – forward with lobster!
A SEASONAL message from Burma’s military junta to Rangoon diplomats: “WE MUST CONSTANTLY BE STRIVING TO KEEP NATIONALIST FERVOUR EVER ALIVE AND DYNAMIC TO OPPOSE COLONIALISTS AND NEO-COLONIALISTS AND THEIR MINIONS AND LACKEYS”
ANORAK’s Christmas message, as told by George Bush, George Clooney and Osama bin Laden:
As delivered to Current Super News.
Firstly, says the reporter, “Anything in the prime minister’s life can cause huge attention, huge fuss and Tony Blair wanted to avoid that”
Tony Blair converts is the lead news item on the TV news; “Tony Blair joins Catholic Church” is the lead item on the BBC news website.
So why did he convert now..?
Gordon Brown has sent a “personal letter” (Star) to the Welsh singer Rhydian. For purposes of identification, and national pride, Gordon Brown is as Scots as X Factor winner Leon Jackson and Rhydian is Welsh.
Dear [insert name here] “I see great talent being given a chance to develop itself,” says Gordon.
It is in no way thanks to Gordon Brown’s premiership that talent can evolve on its own. Gordon might have created a culture in which Welsh reality TV singers can dream of success and make a real fist at achieving it. But this is Rhydian’s time.
Should Rhydian wish to thank Mr Brown for his letter then he is free and able to do it in this democratic land watched over by a benign Gordon Brown.
As Gordon Brown says… (continues until General Election)
The Mail spots “deep furrows” in her brow, “eyelids drooped” and “the lattice of lines around her eyes and mouth”.
And this “just three weeks before the first crucial vote in Iowa on January 3.”
And here’s Steven Glover in today’s Mail: “Blair and the terrible lessons of choosing politicians for their looks.”
“NEW LIB DEM BOSS: I DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD,” says the Mirror.
The new leader of the LibDems is, of course, Mr Nick, and what Nick actually says is: “I am not an active believer but the last thing I would do when talking or thinking about religion is approach it with a closed heart or a closed mind.”
Religion in always a tricky issue for politicians both here and in the US. And we tune into a new TV ad from Republican Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist preacher.
Huckabee tells us that what truly matters this holiday season is not politics but the birth of Christ. “And on behalf of all of us, God bless and Merry Christmas,” says Huckabee.
Behind Huckabee there appears to be a white cross, which he says are just shelves. But is Huckabee sending out a subliminal message, engaging in dog whistle politics?
It was former Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey, a supporter of Hillary Clinton, who opined: “It’s probably not something that appeals to him, but I like the fact that his name is Barack Hussein Obama, and that his father was a Muslim and that his paternal grandmother is a Muslim. There’s a billion people on the planet that are Muslims, and I think that experience is a big deal.”
Dog whistle politics. Bringing up a “bad” fact and saying it’s good. Innuendo. But does any of it matter? Do voters care what religion their elected leaders hold true?
Quote: “Putin joke: Putin goes to a restaurant with [his chosen successor] Medvedev and orders a steak. The waiter asks, ‘And what about the vegetable?’ Putin answers, ‘The vegetable will have steak too.’” Adi Ignatius, in Time’s cover story.
Figure of Speech: antanaclasis (an-ta-NA-cla-sis), the boomerang figure. From the Greek, meaning “rebound.”
Time just named Russian strongman Vladimir Putin its Person of the Year. In the must-read story dyslexically titled A Tsar Is Born, correspondent Adi Ignatius covers Putin’s plan to remain in power for — well, forever, maybe. Forbidden by the Constitution from running for a third four-year term, Putin (Figaro affectionately calls him “Vlad the Impaler”) has named a loyal functionary, Dimitri Medvedev, as Head Puppet.
Hence today’s anataclasis, a figure that repeats a word with a different meaning. (“You said you wanted to be president in the worst way, Mr. Bush? Well, you were. In the worst way.”)
Russians express their zeitgeist through jokes, and this one is a classic, tying up an issue in one cynical package: take-charge leader, controlling the dialogue. Spineless sidekick. And what would Putin possibly eat but steak?
We’re pretty sure he eats it raw.
Snappy Answer: “He does look steamed.”
John Edwards is the Presidential candidate with the smooth hair and decent teeth. He cannot fail.
But now the Enquirer reports that his winning look, allegedly, worked on one blonde named Rielle Hunter. She is more than six months pregnant — “and she’s told a close confidante that Edwards is the father of her baby!”
For his part, Edwards has denied having an affair with Rielle. And where is she? The magazine says Rielle has “gone into hiding” – “living in an upscale gated community near political operative Andrew Young, who’s been extremely close to Edwards for years and was a key official in his presidential campaign.”
And now married father Young says he is the father of Rielle’s baby.
Says Rielle said: “The fact that I am expecting a child is my personal and private business. This has no relationship to nor does it involve John Edwards in any way. Andrew Young is the father of my unborn child.”
End of story. Says a source: “Rielle told me she had a secret affair with Edwards. When she found out that she was pregnant, she said he was the father.”
Says the Enquirer: “Rielle loves Edwards and will do anything to protect him, the source says.”
And Enquirer reporter confronts her. Says she: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Why is she living in Young’s gated community? Says she: “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
Who fathered her baby? Says she: “I have no idea who you’re talking about or what you’re talking about.”
When asked if there was a string in the back of her body that can be pulled to make her talk, Rielle replied: “I have no idea what you’re talking about…”
NICK Clegg has been elected leader of the Liberal Democrats and Graham Watson, Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for the South West of England, notes in a press release: “X knows better than any other UK party leader how to harness the benefits of EU membership for the good of Britain.”
As soon as we or the Times have discovered X’s identity, we’ll let you know.
To add a dash of reality to this story, the newswires state that Sarkozy and Bruni were “photographed together at the Disneyland theme park near Paris”.
Politics has long been talked about as showbusiness for ugly people. But that is now revealed to be a British saying, as the small but neatly formed Sarkozy and the taller leggy Bruni step out.
We confess to an ignorance of how they do things in France, but if this were the UK and Gordon Brown were dating Caprice the tabloids would show some interest.
Would the politician take to lounging on exotic beaches, using his clothes as an expression of his greater self and reveal the ‘real’ him in a magazine interview? And would the model attempt to be all things – mother, vixen and homemaker – a kind of superwomn?
And would we hanker for the more innocent, less showy days of Tony and Cherie Blair?
Says George Bush on ABC news, as overheard by the Sun: “I doubt I’d be standing here if I hadn’t quite drinking whisky and beer and wine and all that.”
Alcohol can affect you perceptions, your understanding of reality. Had Bush continued to drink he may have never entered the real world, getting no closer to what passes for reality than an episode of Big Brother and Washington DC.
Bush went “cold turkey”, notes the Sun. And readers may recall Bush holding a plastic turkey he carried around for the cameras at a Thanksgiving dinner for the troops in Iraq. It was cold.
And for alcohol, there are drugs. Bush tells a girl he understands her struggle. “I wanted her, this young girl who’s struggling with drug addiction, to know that others who might be famous have the same issue – that’s she’s not alone.”
The Sun understands. Like Bush it goes out of its way to explain to any struggling readers that they are no different to Amy Winehouse, Kerry Katona, Michael Barrymore, Lindsay Lohan…
While Hillary Clinton’s procession towards November 2008 has appeared mostly a foregone conclusion, the Republican competition has looked anything but certain.
Indeed, with just weeks to the Iowa Caucuses, the Republicans appear splintered as ever. The latest New York Times/CBS poll shows that no single candidate has performed sufficiently to impress a large enough bloc of Republican voters.
It’s hardly surprising considering the frontrunner, Rudy Guilliani, has a gaping hole in his credentials as a family man, while his two closest rivals are a Mormon who just a few years ago passionately defended abortion, and a former Governor who supported tax increases and appears soft on immigration.
But in the past few days, Anorak in New York has found itself focusing more and more on the Democratic race.
True, the same New York Times/CBS poll that paints the Republican race as wide open suggests that Clinton is still the frontrunner by a long way.
But the odd thing about Clinton is that very few Democrats AiNY has spoken with in the past few months seem to like her. And at least three-quarters, if not more, support Barack Obama.
None of these Democrats seem to believe Obama will secure the nomination. And all will no doubt vote grudgingly for Clinton when the time comes around.
But does this mean that Obama has a realistic chance of winning?
Also, if Hillary does go on to fight the election, and win, what kind of a presidency will it be when many, if not most, of the people who voted for her, never really liked her in the first place?