Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dick Cheney meets Darth Vader

My sister, who works at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), recently told me about an excellent blog, constitutionally speaking. The guy behind it is a professor of law at UWC, Pierre de Vos. I've read a few of his posts and have found them most informative, well thought through and intellectually stimulating. His law expertise makes for intriguing angles on contemporary socio-political issues, especially from a constitutional viewpoint - from there the name of his blog, I suppose... His legal expertise, 'progressive' outlook (dangerous label...) and willingness to call a spade a spade makes his blog a must read in my opinion. I've added him to my list of 'other South African blogs' and subscribed to his news feed. Give his blog a look, I'm sure you may want to do the same...

In a rather trivial posting, relative to his average thought provoking entries, he yesterday featured a YouTube video that I found most entertaining (see below). One remark Pierre made in his latest posting does pack a lot of punch though. It deals with the fact that the political satire of the kind featured in the video below would be highly unusual in the current South African context. You may very well walk into a political minefield in South Africa if you did a similar piece of satire featuring a government minister, never mind the president or his deputy.

I have to admit that I felt uneasy at times watching the often hilarious clip. Some remnant of my Christian-nationalist upbringing protested at the fact that a vice-president could be ridiculed in this manner. My emotional gut reaction aside, I believe in the modern world of media spin by ruling parties the world over, this kind of satire may in fact be very necessary. The Apartheid Government got away with murder partly because of a blind respect for authority from Christian-nationalist supporters. Sadly the present government are often treated with kid gloves for the fear of being labeled unpatriotic, ant-revolutionary or -if you happen to be white- racist. We urgently need a mind shift in South Africa to realise that being outspoken in one's criticism of government is potentially more patriotic than keeping your mouth shut. In time the substance of your convictions will determine the value or otherwise of your utterances, not politically correct knee jerk reactions thereto.

Back to the video. To appreciate the video you need to be relatively up to date with American politics and more so regarding President Bush's neo-conservative ex-Halliburton-CEO Vice-President, Dick Cheney. If you're a bit ignorant on these matters have a look at the background below the video before watching it, without it you'll miss most of the humor.

UPDATE - OOPS - Comedy central pulled this clip from YouTube after my initial post. The content owners to Comedy Central's programming has forced YouTube through court action to remove all its content from the latter's servers. Thus, for the time being, this clip is inaccessible. I've tried unsuccessfully to locate the clip on Comedy Central's own website. Their site is terrible to navigate. I believe they actually got more exposure for their product on YouTube, granted minus the irritating ads... I'll try to sort this out soon!

Brief background on Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney, together with other hawkish neocons such as Donald Rumsfeld, was the main proponents of the 'case' to declare a pre-emptive war on Iraq. That is to attack Iraq, in the absence of an act of aggression from the later, based on their believe that it represented a 'clear and present danger' to American interests and lives - at least that is how they pitched it. Many of their non-American critics summed up their motives in one word: 'oil'. Others state that their model for spreading democracy through the barrel of a gun is naive and short sighted. Off-course conservative commentators hold a different view. As the war becomes ever more unpopular with the American public President George Bush relies heavily on his conservative deputy to talk up the 'progress' being made in the war. Cheney is the perfect candidate for this as he has no qualms in earnestly stating that the 'insurgency' is about to be defeated, while the majority of commentators believe that a de facto civil war is in fact raging out of control.

Cheney was involved in a hunting accident some time ago when he and some friends went duck hunting on one of the party's property. In what could only have been an 'honest to God' freak accident he managed to shoot his beloved friend in the face... Luckily the wound was not fatal or too damaging. However the American press had a field day after the White House Press Core did a very amateurish job of trying to keep the incident out of the national headlines. Accusations was made left and right - did the hunting party have the necessary hunting permits, did Cheney follow general hunting safety precautions, etc.

Cheney's daughter is a lesbian. Mary Cheney actively partakes in the organisation of her father's campaign work for the Republican Party leading up to elections. The Republican Party's take on homosexuality could probably be described as something between homophobia and intolerance. In the last two national election campaigns (presidential and mid-term) the status of especially homosexual unions ('same-sex marriages') was a big issue. One state in America, Massachusetts, recently started recognizing same-sex marriages. For a limited time gay couples streamed there to get legally married. The Party took a very strong view on the matter and President Bush even threatened to seek a constitutional amendment to bar the practice. I'm under the impression that for the time being same-sex marriages has been suspended in the state although I'm stand to be corrected on this. It is in this context that Cheney has been challenged on his daughter's sexual preference. The idea of challenging him on it makes my hair stand on end, as it smacks of homophobia. However in the above context, and in the absence of Cheney distancing himself from the Party line, I grudgingly concede that it probably a necessary action. John Stewart follows a very unapologetic approach to the matter and does so very effectively.

Cheney has a heart condition. Exactly what his heart ailment is I don't know. Suffice to say that it is a definite health issue. I honestly can't find a justification for satire on that specific topic. I suppose Jon Stewart has decided that anything goes...

President Bush introduced the phrase "axis of evil" in talking up war against Iraq, with Cheney's unconditional approval. Within the context of the current Administration's love affair with Christian-conservatives describing your target for occupation as 'evil' goes a long way to motivating your base for war. I suspect this is where Darth Vader enters the picture, a messenger from 'the dark side' (evil). If you're StarWars knowledge is slightly rusted, or non-existent, you can have a look at DV's bio here.


Attie Heunis said...

I adore Jon Snow. By the way you can see Jon Snow's Daily Show on CNN on Sunday. My fav episode is when he ripped Tony O'Reilly from Fox to shreds.

I heard that Dick Cheney and Wolf Blitzer from CNN went at each other. Would've loved to see that.

Attie Heunis said...

I mean Jon Stewart. Jon Snow is someonel else.