My two cents on North Carolina’s recent amendment vote.

Image snatched from FCKH8’s Facebook page. www.facebook.com/fckh8com

On Politics

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you saw the image/link I shared. It’s from Anti-Rebuplican Crusaders by the way of Re-Elect President Obama and shared by someone on my friend’s list. The image features a picture of and quotes George Clooney. The quote goes:

I’m disillusioned by the people who are disillusioned by Obama, quite honestly, I am. Democrats eat their own. Democrats find singular issues and go, ‘Well I didn’t get everything I wanted.’

I’m a firm believer in sticking by and sticking up for the people you’ve elected.

If (Obama) was a Republican running, because Republicans are better at this, they’d be selling him as the guy who stopped 400,000 jobs a month from leaving the country. They’d be selling him as the guy who saved the auto-industry. If they had the beliefs, they’d be selling him as they guy who got rid of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ who got Osama bin Laden. You could be selling this as a very successful three years.

– George Clooney

Now, let me start by setting something straight: I’m not an anti-Republican crusader. I’m certainly not a Republican, either. On the contrary. But as the old quote goes: I may disagree with you, but I will fight for your right to have your beliefs/opinion/etc.

But I do think that Clooney has a point. I think that there is way too much mudthrowing in politics these days (also in Denmark) instead of acknowledging the actual accomplishments – and it overshadows the actual accomplishments. I honestly think that if the oppositions spent their energy on what they stand for and cooperate on what they actually agree upon (environmental issues, anyone?) instead of denying that there is actually something they agree with their opposing parties upon (12 minutes extra per day, five days a week or an extra hour per week of labor? Anyone?) or trying to trip their opposing parties in order to maintain their own or get (back) into a position of power, politics would be so much more effective as well as attractive. So much more would be done, and people like myself wouldn’t give up on political activity as easily or find the news so uninteresting and discouraging.

To be honest, I am one of those who was quickly disappointed after the latest election in Denmark (efterløn – anyone at all?). But I tend to forget three of the initial and instant accomplishments of that election:

  1. We elected our first female Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
  2. We changed the political color, thus having a left-wing government after a decade with a right-wing government.
  3. Every time I start feeling the disappointment sneaking in, I always think of what the alternative could be, and think that at least we’re going somewhat in the right direction by now.

Win-win-win!

Another thing I just realized was that they haven’t even been governing for 100 days yet (although we are almost there – the election was on September 15th), and I remember being puzzled by the people criticizing Obama for not accomplishing what he set out to accomplish before or about the time when his 100 first days had gone by. So this is also a note to self about just taking a step back, chill out, and give the politicians a bit of space to do their thing.

I do see the point that there sometimes may be a need for “watchdogs”, but there is a difference between keeping people to their word and throwing mud at them. Parts of that difference are respect, reason, and common sense. And may I add to that that it takes more than 100 days to get through some things and more than one electoral period to get other things through? Just sayin’. With the risk of coming off defensive, I can also inform the uninformed that the Danish system isn’t just bipartial (although it’s usually the leader of the Social Democrats on the left and the leader of the Liberal Party on the right who goes head to head for the position of Prime Minister); the Danish system is multipartial, meaning that a government usually consists of at least two parties who have to agree upon a government platform to govern from – thus naturally compromises have to be in the mix. As for now, we have the Social Democrats, lead by Thorning-Schmidt, flanked by the Social Liberals on the right and the Socialist People’s Party on the left having to govern from their platform while the Red-Green Alliance are yanking their chain from the far left. This also gives me reason to think that we might have to add about a week or so to the 100 days, as that was the time it took the three parties to agree upon a mutual platform to govern from.

You’re asking who I voted for? Well – that’s for us all to know, but for me to write a separate post on. If you know me well you already know, if you know me and the Danish parties you may be able to guess, and frankly I don’t think my confused pile of evenly confused thoughts on that subject fits into this post.

Parliamentary Election – finally!

http://politiken.dk/newsinenglish/ECE1372153/election-september-15th/

So the Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has called for parliamentary (general) election about 2½ hours ago. The election is on Thursday, September 15th – thus only three weeks from now.

There has been press meetings with both PM Løkke and the leader of the opposition, Helle Thorning-Schmidt of the Social Democrats. Thorning-Schmidt had some beautiful points in her speech, generally centered around finding common ground and cooperating across the middle. There has been comments from a lot of politicians, and I find that the best comments have been from politicians from the left wing.

But there still is mudthrowing. I’m not 100 % certain whether or not it’s because I haven’t followed the news as well as I could, but it seems like several politicians are throwing mud at the opposition, thus making them look bad enough to have the voters not wanting to elect the opposition. But listening to politicians from the opposition, I have heard some of them do the exact same thing. In periods it just seems to be throwing mud and pointing fingers across the board – which is the very reason why I can’t take politics seriously and don’t always trust politicians, even within my own party.

As it is right now, the present government believes that they have the responsible solution for our economy – and the opposition will only leave us in uncontrollable debt. But the opposition seems to think the exact same thing: that they have the responsible solution, and the present government will only ruin us in the end.

I have no idea who is right. I’m not an economist. Personally I think it’s very unpredictable (I find that the most trusworthy understandable/agreeable statement on that point came from Bertel Haarder (V) – yeah, I know, that’s actually a surprise coming from me – that, as I understood him, we can’t know whether to invest now or later, depending on whether the economic crisis continues or not). But I think that the statements and comments from the left wing seem to be the most uplifting.

To those who know me, it’s not surprising that my vote will be placed somewhere on the left wing (thus indirectly to Thorning-Schmidt as the first female PM of Denmark). I agree that we should all take part the load – and those who have more should give more. When the present government made their tax cuts, I suddenly had 500 kr. (≈US $97/GB £60/€67) extra available per month – and that’s a lot to a student. But I would go without them in an instant if it meant paying off national debt and better conditions for those who have less than I do (and remember that taxes in Denmark pay for neat stuff like free education and free health care, thus free visits to the doc and the hospitals).

I genuinely do hope for cooperation across the line – I find that the entire block politics, mud-throwing, finger-pointing thing is ridiculous. It’s seen that two parties of each their color have similar opinions of what to do, and instead of focusing on cooperation, people focus on one party stealing the policy/ideaology of the other. I only have two things:

  1. Socialist People’s Party or The Red-Green Alliance?
    I’m a member of the former, but find that they have moved towards the middle, thus away from where I stand. Populist much? Oh well. At the same time, though, will the Red-Green Alliance get enough votes to matter? I do want to have a leftist PM!
  2. Villy Søvndal as Minister of Foreign Affairs?!
    Villy, honey, you’re the leader of my party, and I have a deep affection for you, but you need to practice your English.

If you want to know what I’m talking about, watch the following video. The speech itself is actually pretty good, and I do think that he gets his point through – but I have seen worse than this (although I’m not certain where).

Follow Friday #3: President Medvedev

On Follow Friday this week:
1. Introduction
2. Twitter: Pres. Dmitry Medvedev of Russia
3. Drop Me a Line.

I haven’t been as thorough this week – I don’t have too much to show, but I do like what I found!

You remember how I think it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the leaders of the World?

A couple of days ago, I discovered through @joshgroban (and essentially also through @BarackObama and @whitehouse) that the President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, has joined the Twitterverse. I copy/pasted two tweets I really liked to show here:

“Russia and the US are working to improve global security, but the goal of this visit is to improve our economic relations.
The decision of major American companies to come to Russia and invest shows that we can agree on more than just missiles.”
– @KremlinRussia_E on June 24th around 22:00/10 PM.

As you can see, you can find him at @KremlinRussia_E – but if you know Russian, you can also find him at @kremlinrussia.

There’s a news story on Medvedev’s homepage on creating the accounts – you can find it right here.

Suggestions? Reactions? Comments? Leave a comment/reply!

Loosely on the US Healthcare Reform

Possibly part one of many.

Today is the day of Obama’s Healthcare reform. I’m celebrating this, hoping it will be passed, by looking back on an old blog post from my days at Blogger.com.

I was reacting to a video by The Resident:

– and was writing on the wellfare state model we have over here (the universal wellfare state model), also mentioning the healthcare:

[…]

We also have free healthcare; visits at the doctor and the hospitals are for free.

[…]

Imagine having all of this as a US citizen. The security it is to have. Yes, [citizens/residents of Denmark] pay a shitload in taxes (approximately 35 – 60 %, all depending on your income) – but we don’t have to worry about spending money on healthcare and tuition fees. And if you wonder about how little things cost in Denmark if we can afford living with such taxes: Our minimum wage is just above 100 kr. (€13/£10/$20) per hour – as far as I remember, the US minimum wage is around $7-8.

Either way, someone is going to pay for the hospital visit. Pay the doc. Pay the school. Support the unemployed, students, sick, and elderly (if they are being supported, that is – because they may not be!). So why not do it through taxes and get it overwith already?

You may not have a kid to put through school, but don’t you think another kid could benefit from that?
You may drink a lot of milk and have strong bones (well done!), but don’t you think that someone with osteoporosis could benifit from that?
You may be physically strong/healthy, but don’t you think someone with cancer or a weak heart could benifit from that?
You may be an unfertil man, but don’t you think a pregnant woman could benifit from that?
Your parents may have saved for their retirement while they could (or passed on to a better place), but don’t you think someone who has been forced to retire early or had too little money or otherwise have been unable to save could benifit from that?

I’m not saying that it should be put directly into work in the US – it took us two World Wars to decide to get the point, and we have a significally longer history than the US as a nation – but it would be nice to see some baby steps towards something similar in the US.

Obama promised change, and I do hope some of these baby steps are included when the financial crisis is over and done with.

I’m still hoping for change like this – not only for the weakest – but for all, for equality in the US.

The original post can be found right here.

Christianity and Socialism

This is one of those entries where I just vent and rant out of frustration, getting all hotheaded. Of course, I do understand that one can feel slightly stupid when working one’s butt off, only to risk having 60 % of one’s personal earnings taken away (the basic rates were – at least until Dec. 31st, 2009 – app. 35-40 %, depending on the municipality of your residence; additional rates are put into work if you earn a higher amount of money).
Still, knowing that it could save the weakest in society, that I can save someone’s day/education/basic economy/life/etc. (also referring to the blog entry I mention in the end of this one), I’m okay with it. I’m aware that some individuals may take advantage of it, but still – they don’t represent the rest of the lot.

Btw, Graham – I think it’s an amazing step you’re taking. Amazing, awesome, and admirable. Congratulations to the both of you!

Christianity and Socialism
Written in post-Christmas December, 2009.

Yet again, the darling Graham has sent me right up on my soapbox (or just right back behind the keyboard of my computer, quickly entering my dashboard, and adding a new post) with an entry on family matters.
Yes, I have been inspired to write a blog entry by one of his earlier entries, but reading another of his entries had me pausing, thinking for a moment (yup, I’m easily distracted every now and then. But, Graham, Canada?! Wowsies!!!), and the entry ended up as a draft only. It may just be reviewed, polished, and presented on a later occasion (but don’t hold your breath – at least breathe while you stock up on canned goods).

Let me just start with saying that I generally agree with Graham on family/friendly matters; he just reminded me of my opinion on Christianity and socialism – and the handful of reactions from the US I’ve seen on TV. I just started writing in the Comment box, and in the end it seemed to me to be more of a blog entry for my own blog rather than a comment for Graham.

I remember watching something on TV – a sort of news story or somesuch – about a family from the US. It was connected to President Obama and the health care reform.

Not specifically in that news story, but in news from the US in general, socialism seems to be a bad word in the US; something created by the Devil – only one thing seems to be worse (to those it’s not equal to): Communism.

The specific news story in question showed a married couple – I think with one or two children – who were opposed to public health care. They and their children were all covered through their places of work, so they had no need for anything public (apparently). A useful fact for the following is that they are Christians and attending a local church.

They were asked what would one should do if one wasn’t as fortunate as them and couldn’t afford health care. Their answer? They should go to their church for help.

And my reaction? Heck yeah, I got pissed. How about those not being Christian? Not attending church? Not being ABLE to go? Don’t they deserve to be taken care of?

I live in a society based on socialism/social democracy/reformism, and being born and raised here with a universal welfare state, I’m used to high taxes – and through that the right to receive free health care, free education, to receive student grants never to be paid back, to receive social security, pension, etc. from the State, paid through the beforementioned high taxes, no matter my religious and ethnic background, skintone, etc.

Being a Christian, raised by Socialists, listening to sermons about “loving thy neighbor” (and may I just add: “as thyself”!), and having a Reverend (the very Rev from Brorson’s ChurchChurch Sanctuary and all that) re-telling the Parable of the Good Samaritan whenever he gets the chance, it’s beyond me how Christians can’t approve of money being redestributed through a universal welfare state, making sure that everybody are “home” safe.

Yes, I’m a socialist – and I believe that since a country asks people to be legal, good, responsible citizens with legal passports and various other official ID (varying from country to country), paying taxes, the country also has a responsibility to keep its citizens safe; even going as far as to get them home if something serious (illness, harm) happens to them abroad (yes, this USED to be a part of the package in my country).

*sigh* If I didn’t get all of my bitterness out right here, an old blogpost may be dusted off and republished right here on this very blog. Nope, this subject never gets old to me.

Follow Friday #1!

On Follow Friday this week:
1. Introduction
2. Podcasts: Danish version (one in English) (feat. Rosenkjær-foredrag, De Sorte Spejdere and Det Nye Talkshow, Clement Kjersgaard).
3. Twitter
4. Next week on Follow Friday
5. Drop me a line.

Yeah, I know, I know. Late again. Forgive me for posting this on a young Saturday!

I think I already introduced the concept back when introducing the Music Monday this week. Anyway, here’s a quick intro again:

Twitter have tags on basically anything – mainly, I believe, because the users of Twitter are able to create them themselves – and two of these tags are #musicmonday and #followfriday. This has inspired me to blog on who and what I listen to and follow online; be it music, blogs, podcasts, RSS, Twitter…

First of all, I’ll take a look at podcasts. I know a couple of missionaries, of which I’m sure at least one of them want to keep up their Danish after they return to the US – and since I have a few favorite podcasts in Danish, I think it’s a good place to start! I know that there is a good bunch of excellent podcasts at the website of Denmark’s national broadcasting corporation/public service radio and TV, Danmarks Radio – you can find them right here.

I think I should start with introducing the first podcast I remember subscribing to (at least in Danish, since Jamie Oliver could have beat it to it): the Rosenkjær lectures with Dr.Med. Peter Lund Madsen.

The Rosenkjær lectures are the consequence of receiving the Rosenkjær award. The Rosenkjær award is given to an individual (scientist or cultural personality) being able to communicate difficult and heavy stuff to the public. The award is named after Danmark Radio’s first chief of lectures, Jens Rosenkjær. The position of chief of lectures was founded to have someone to keep track of the lectures being aired; not only when and where, but also who and what. The lectures were often of heavy scientific matter which can’t be made understandable by just anyone – let alone being understood through the radio, ie. with the listeners not having the ability to SEE exactly what was going on.
The recipant of the award holds the right (or rather: duty) to perform a number of lectures, which are then recorded and aired on the radio. You can also check out the rest of the Rosenkjær lectures.

I think that part of the reason why Peter Lund Madsen got the award is the first show he made with his younger brother, Anders Lund Madsen (they made three shows in total up until as I write). They’re both extremely entertaining. While Peter is highly academically educated (dr.med., scientist, professor (I believe, don’t hang me up on it) within the brain, and now educating himself within psychiatry – oh yeah, he’s as much a braniac as unhumanly possible. Litterally!), Anders is quite the unconventional journalist. He DOES have formal training, but he’s unconventional. If you want to check Anders out, take a chance on De Sorte Spejdere (The Black Scouts – Peter has had a couple of appearances through the ages) and the video podcast Det Nye Talkshow (The New Talkshow – which is the only show so far which hasn’t finished yet. Peter has had an appearance on here, too, on the New Year’s special).

Another journalist worth mentioning is Clement Kjersgaard. He may not have the same appearance as Anders Lund Madsen, but is equally entertaining. Kjersgaard has academic degrees from the University of Copenhagen, the University of Oxford, and United World College of Hong Kong. He is critical to just about every single one of his guests, no matter who they are, whether he likes them or not, etc. – one podcast worth checking out is Ugen med Clement (The Week with Clement), another one (which is predominantly in English) is Clement i Amerika (Clement in America).

Receiving the news of Stephen Gately’s death, all media mentioning his last Tweet, I quickly got on to following @theREALboyzone, @ronanofficial, @stephenofficial, and @MRMIKEYGRAHAM. Of course, I DO realize there’s not much point in following Stephen Gately nowadays, but still.

Anyhow, to mention some constructive following (yeah, so sue me for being eclectic enough to like some of the boyband music out there!), I believe that we should keep an eye on the country leaders around the World is doing. Now, I only have a minor handful of them on my following list, but here are some:
@BarackObama
@DowningStreet (the office, not a specific Prime Minister)
@LarsLoekke (the Danish prime minister)
@SFpolitik (my party)
@Christiansborg/politikere (a list of Danish MPs).

I’m not too sure of what I’ll be rambling about next week, but I’m thinking music, languages, or travelling. Whaddyathink?

Suggestions? Reactions? Comments?