Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dearlove treats the courts with contempt

Last week two individuals gave evidence in the High Court. Mohamed Al Fayed and Richard Dearlove (the former head of MI6). Of the two Dearlove's evidence was the more incredible. Al Fahed repeated his conspiracy theory, larded with colourful abuse of the Windsor family ("vampires", etc), some of it, frankly, bang on the money (is there any doubt that "Prince" Phillip is indeed a racist?). But Dearlove took the biscuit. In 38 years of working for MI6, he said, he was never aware of the agency killing anyone. Not once, from 1966 to 2004. One can, of course, believe that if one wants to. To me, it is not reassuring that Dearlove should treat the courts with such obvious contempt. As for Di, MI6 were perfectly capable of killing her; and one must assume they had her under surveillance (also denied by Dearlove), but there just does not seem to be any real evidence that MI6 did kill her, and an accident seems plausible. Then again, one never knows. But of the two men - Fayed and Dearlove - the one who gave the preposterous evidence last week was not Fayed. (I suppose some of this stuff is "contracted out" - private is after all, always best! - but some of it must be "in-house").

The privatisation fetish

Simon Jenkins, in Wednesday's Guardian, argued that "privatisation is a concept whose usefulness to British government has reached its natural limits". He recounts some of the absurdities of the privatisation fetish: it took around 400 bureaucrats to run the railways when they were publicly-owned, now it takes more than 4,000, and the railways recieve 5 times the subsidy; the failed privatisation of the London underground cost around £500 million in consultancy fees; and of course there are the many scandals involving useless and hugely costly IT projects. He points out that in place of "the old arms-length public corporations" a morass of what in Latin America are called para-statals ("profitable enterprises whose boards are stuffed with retired politicians and generals" such as the defence contractor Qinetiq) have sprung up. How ironic, also, that the super-privatisers turn to the government - and nationalisation - to bail them out when they run into trouble, as in the case of Northern Rock. I doubt however if Jenkins argument will carry much weight with New Labour, for whom privatisation is a kind of religion.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fermanagh declares independence

The Republic of Fermanagh has just declared independence. George Bush has immediately recognized the new state. So has the European Union. It has a new flag; a Europeanish logo with stars and an Irish shamrock. Thousands of NATO troops are there to protect the new state just in case the Brits think of invading. Er, no, not really. But why not?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

In defence of supermarkets

Jay Rayner argues in The Observer that supermarkets have made our lives better. It is a odd thing to say, but I think he has a point. Politaholic is no spring chicken. I can remember a time when most shopping was done, certainly in the working-class area in the city where I grew up, in corner shops. This was before the rise of the super and mega markets. In those days if you asked the corner shopkeeper for parmeson cheese he would have looked at you as if you were mad. An avocado? I didn't know what one looked like until I was in my 20's. Wine was for posh people; and was expensive (now one can buy a reasonably quaffable bottle for around a fiver). For that matter Politaholic is not overly impressed by the farmers markets we are told we should patronise. The one on Saturday at Piccadilly Gardens (Manchester) seems to sell stuff that is very expensive and the quality is not that much better. Yes, I know supermarkets abuse their market position; I know that a lot of what they sell is crap; I don't like the remorseless "Tescoisation" of everything; I wonder how these supermarkets get planning permission so easily (and how many local councillors are in receipt of large brown envelopes); and I don't like the retail market being dominated by too few superstores. But let's be honest: in the local supermarket there are avocadoes, kiwi fruit, artichokes, aubergines, courgettes; there are all kinds of pasta, several types of rice, all kinds of herbs and spices. When I look back across the vast chasm of time to when I was growing up, well, most of these things were, to me, unheard of. I guess in the posh part of town, familiar with Elizabeth David and the unfairly neglected Raymond Postgate, the delights of "foreign food" were more familiar. But not round my way. Now, and in parts thanks to supermarkets, they are available to all. Of course, it's capitalism: "The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country...In place of the old wants, satisfied by the productions of the country, it finds new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes...".

Clinton/Obama battle helps Republicans

The Observer reports that Democratic Party "elders" - including Al Gore - are worried by the stalemate in the Clinton-Obama contest. If neither candidate lands a knock-out blow in the forthcoming primaries (Texas, Ohio, and, later, Pennsylvania) it could be still unsettled by the time of the party Convention in Denver. It will then be settled by the "super-delegates". (Clinton is arguing that these "super-delegates" are not bound by the vote in their states; Obama that they should vote as their states did). One problem is that if the "super-delegates" decide the outcome it would look like an old-style back-room "fix" (giving the Republicans a PR gift) and also that if it drags on through the summer Clinton and Obama will have damaged each other so much, that it will be impossible to present a united front against McCain. The Republicans will already be preparing for the November election; while the Democrats are still slugging it out to see who the candidate is. Even so, I can't see either Clinton or Obama standing down; so long as either has a chance they will stay in the race. Clinton is also arguing that Florida and Michigan be re-instated; which will be another bloody battle. Politaholic has a terrible feeling about all will be a McCain presidency in 2009.

The Saudi Taliban

The revelations coming out of the high court vis-a-vis Saudi Prince Bandar are truly astonishing. Bandar told the government that unless the Serious Fraud Office's investigation into illegal payments to Bandar was halted, the Saudi's would withhold intelligence on terrorists. The Guardian reports that: "Investigators said they were given to understand their would be "another 7/7" and the "loss of British lives on British streets" if they carried on delving into the payments...". (Remarks which suggest that the Saudi's may know more, and be more complicit, with these terrorists than one might suspect). The response of Blair? To roll over and say: OK, Bandar, anything you say. The context, remember, is that almost all the 9/11 highjackers were Saudi's; Osama Bin Laden is Saudi; Saudi is promoting its extreme brand of Islam around the world; and the Saudi's are beheading, amputating, and stoning like nobody's business (and flogging young women for the terrible crime of - er, being raped). Bandar's action was clearly that of a hostile power and should have been treated as such. How much sense does it make to declare a "war of terror" in which the terrorists are jihadists, and then have as an ally a country which harbours and nurtures the self-same jihadists? To wage war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and turn a blind eye to the Taliban in Saudi Arabia? Not so long ago these people wre feted at Buckingham Palace, and Kim Howells bleated about having "shared values" with the Saudis? What shared values? Shared values with people who say they would not alert us to an attempt to murder people on our streets? Isn't it astonishing that on the part of Blair and his government there seems to have been no sense of outrage that Bandar should dare to speak to the government in this fashion?

Friday, February 15, 2008

America's Heroes

One of Hillary Clinton’s supporters is Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska (not to be confused with Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts). Several years ago Kerrey published a memoir, in which he gave his, not entirely frank, account of his role in the Thanh Phong massacre in Vietnam in February 1969. Soldiers under his command entered a house, cut the throat of an elderly man, then proceeded to do the same to a woman and three small children. They then went into the village itself and rounded up and slaughtered a lot more women, children and elderly men. For this Kerrey was given the Bronze Star (after filing a false report claiming the victims were “VC” – “Vietcong” – who were “killed in action”). According to The New York Times (16/12/07) following his endorsement Hillary Clinton described Kerrey as “the embodiment of patriotism in action”. The Vietnamese government have, by contrast, called him a war criminal; which seems spot-on to me.

It is Bob Kerrey who sparked controversy by saying things like this about Barack Obama:

“Look I - I look at Barack Obama. I think he does have substantial experience in areas that matter to me, personally. For example, he's addicted to nicotine. He's trying to kick the habit. You got a million adolescents every year in America who take up smoking. So he’s gonna be able to lead in the area. Second he's black. And you know, some black leaders are saying he's not, but he's black. And he can speak to youth in America, as he did in Selma, and tell them, that look, I'm for civil rights, I'm for more money in health and education, but if you don't work harder, if you aren't a good parent, if you choose self-destructive behavior there is nothing I can do to help you. And finally, I love that his name is Barack Hussein Obama; that he was educated for a while in a secular madrassa. I know the right wingers are saying that he's, you know, a sort of an Islamic Manchurian candidate, but he can speak like no other candidate to a billion Muslims on this earth and say we're not your enemy unless you make us so”.

Clinton’s supporters say: (a) what Kerrey said is actually complimentary, and (b) in any case the Republicans will say the same things if Obama gets the Democratic nomination, and without the kid gloves. Obama’s supporters point out that what Kerrey said may sound complimentary; but that it is really a disingenuous attempt to gently remind voters that Obama is black, his father was born a Muslim, that his middle name is Hussein. What is said and its intended effect are different. I suspect Obama supporters are right about this; but it is certainly true that if Obama gets the Democratic nomination we can expect a lot more of this sort of thing from Republicans between now and November.

On the other hand, Obama has his own Vietnam Vets on board. He is endorsed by Colin Powell – who played a key role in the attempt to cover-up the Mai Lai massacre (not in the massacre itself). Powell is also the man sent by Bush to lie to the UN in February 2003. And Obama is also endorsed by John Kerry, another vet ready “to report for duty”.

And John McCain, who will certainly get the Republican nomination, is a man who can stand unembarrassed while he is described (repeatedly) as a “hero” (so was Kerry, of course; none of these guys seem to have heard of “self-effacing modesty”). I am willing to believe that McCain showed courage while a guest of the Vietnamese; but let’s not forget his job was to drop napalm on them. I am not sure how “heroic” that really is.

Still, I have to say that of all these, Kerrey does strike one as a deeply unpleasant character. Questioned about his role in Thanh Phong he typically oozes self-pity, as though he were the bloody victim and all that matters is his “trauma”. But then that is America to the core, is it not?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Obama Girl: "just another acting job"

The Obama Girl videos are getting millions of hits on YouTube. But here Obama girl admits that it is "just another acting job" and won't say whether she really supports Obama. (She didn't vote for Obama in the New Jersey primary, preferring to party in Manhatten instead). Ah well. "Super Obama Girl" is my favourite.

Elite Sport and Drugs

There is a brouhaha in the press at the moment vis-a-vis the selection of "drug cheat" Dwain Chambers to represent Britain at next month's World Indoor Championships. Politaholic has some sympathy for him. Drug taking is endemic in athletics. I suspect that most do not take drugs in order to cheat. It has gone way beyond that. The choice an athlete faces is to seek chemical assistance, or else be at a competitive disadvantage, given that so many of the others are pumped full of drugs. Taking drugs doesn't give one an advantage; it just levels the playing field.
Politaholic also thinks that there is massive hypocrisy about this. I suspect many of those loudest in their denunciation partake or partook, and I suspect this is true of many of those retired athletes who are most venerated and honoured. Once retired, and out of the game, they are "safe" and can adopt the "holier than thou" pose which, if honest to themselves, they know to be bollocks.
One root case of this sorry state of affairs is the philosophy that "winning is everything". And while on the subject, that little squirt James Purnell announced last November (when he was Culture Secretary) that the philosophy of "sport for all" was to be de-emphasised and that instead henceforth more and more money will be channelled into training "elite" athletes. Purnell, according to the Guardian (25/11/07) said that the priority is not "encouraging participation" but rather "sporting excellence". This to Politaholic is quite the wrong approach: that we should all sit on our arses watching "elite" athletes compete for high honours, fame, and money. And if winning really is everything, why not resort to steroids? But, hey, if they do win Purnell and his ilk will have an opportunity to wave the Union Jack. Which is what "elite sport" is all about: vulgar displays of national chauvinism. Personally, rather than watch some other guy run, I'd rather have a quiet cycle through the countryside (Denmark this year, I think); but that (as Purnell says) is not "sport".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A lesson in contemporary morals

Private Eye's "Street of Shame" has a truly wonderful item about a Sunday Mirror interview with someone called Kerry Katona and husband Mark Croft (from context I infer that they are "celebrities" of some kind). Croft is angry about a story his mother sold to a rival tabloid: "I won't speak to her anymore and she won't see her grandkids again if she can sell me out for 10 grand. What's 10 fucking grand?". The interviewer points out that his mother-in-law has also sold a story to the tabloids. "That was for 70 grand though", he muses, "It's not nice, but mine did it for 10 grand".

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

John Edwards Feeling Pretty

Who says politicians are vain?

It's not black and white

Michael Tomasky's article in yesterday's Guardian argued that Obama's fate depends on the white working class. Obama has the black vote, and seems to be favoured by college-educated middle-class Democrats, but white blue-collar workers tend to go for Clinton. Why is this? Tomasky suggests that white workers are "less moved by Obama's soaring rhetoric". Elsewhere in the Guardian Ewen MacAskill says that the "one blemish of the week-end for Obama" was "the imbalance of his support among African-Americans and whites in Louisiana". OK. This is going to be misunderstood, but the Guardian on Febrary 6 reported that, according to the Super Tuesday exit polls, 40% of whites voted for Obama (although he did less well among white women). Obama also won the support of 80% of black voters. Now the difference between Obama's level of support among whites and blacks may have several explanations:"soaring rhetoric" is perhaps part of it, the unwillingness to vote for a black candidate may also be part of it. But there are two sides to this story. Look at the black vote. Why does Obama clean up black votes? Are black voters judging both candidates on the basis of "the content of their character"? It is obvious, is it not, that black voters are voting for Obama in such huge numbers because he is black. Indeed, looking at these figures, black voters are much more likely to judge a candidate on the basis of the colour of his/her skin than are white Democratic voters. I'm sorry. I know how this sounds. I am a life-long lefty and hate racism. But look at the figures. It's not as if Hillary Clinton is a Republican. It's not as if she is a life-long opponent of affirmative action, and Barack Obama a life-long supporter of it. There is no basis in policy for such a huge discrepancy. Maybe Obama is the better candidate. But 80% (and higher in some of the primaries)? I don't doubt that white voters, even Democrats, harbour racist attitudes, and maybe this is more so for those without a college education, and on below average incomes. I am quite ready to believe it. But this is not a black-and-white story. And the absolutely overwhelming preference among black voters for Obama, for no other reason than the colour of his skin, is something that leaves me a little uneasy.

P.S. Further on this Associated Press are reporting that the white Democratic vote broke fairly evenly between Obama and Clinton in the Potomac primaries (although Clinton took more white women). But Obama's share of the black vote was even higher: 9 out of 10.
I suppose one could argue that - if there was nothing to choose between the two candidates - it would be better to opt for Obama, to make the historic breakthrough to a first black President. But what difference would that, in itself, make? After all, there have been two black Secretaries of State (one still in office), a black Attorney-General, black members of the Supreme Court. I can't see that, in itself, it changed anything. And is affirmative action a proper basis for choosing a President? Maybe Obama is the best candidate. But can 9 out of 10 really, truly, honestly, think this, judging both candidates on their merits? 9 out of 10?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Normal For Norfolk

Phil Woolas has warned of the dangers of in-breeding within the Asian community (the arranged marriage of first cousins). One's first reaction is that he has gone off his head. He should turn his attention to the Windsor family (those jug ears don't come from nowhere). But the Daily Telegraph reports some figures which, if true (I say if) do suggest that Woolis has a point: 55% of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins, British Pakistani children account for one-third of birth defects although they are only 3% of all UK births. The Telegraph doesn't say where these figures come from. It could be cobblers. But if these figures are accurate, Woolis is quite right to point them out (of course accusations of racism and Islamophobia will routinely follow). Woolis is not my cup of tea. He is a Blairite isn't he? But I wouldn't have thought he was a racist. We are not talking Ann Winterton here.
My assumption is that the MP's from Norfolk will prudently sit out this controversy.

Markets are not always best

John Gray in the Observer laments the "creeping authoritarianism" and "endemic disorganisation" of the British state. He argues that there "was a time when British Government worked"; for half a century after the Blitz. The great change came with Thatcher, who professed an intent to roll back the state but, as Gray argues here and Simon Jenkins argues elsewhere, actually led to an extension of central government and its greater intrusion into our lives. Gray says that "how we arrived at this state of affairs" - a less accountable, more intrusive, incompetent, distrusted central apparatus of government - is "a tangled tale". But " strand sticks out - the belief that markets must be injected into every corner of society". Absolutely. This is the dogma that has driven every government - Conservative and Labour - since 1979. It has led to greater inequality, the ghettoisation of unemployment (long-term and inter-generational) and the exclusion of those at the bottom of society from public concern, to billions being squandered on PFI projects, consultancy scams, and dodgy IT projects. Gray concludes that: "We should junk the idea that state-services should always be run as businesses; this has left public services struggling with debt and fixated on targets. It would be better to hive off some functions from the state altogether while accepting that others should be managed on non-market lines". Market is not always, universally, best; private is not always better than public. Speak it softly, for it is the deepest heresy.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

The greedy Wintertons

What a shabby pair the Wintertons are. She is notorious for retailing racist jokes and for not holding a constituency surgery for 21 years. He is a Tufton Bufton buffoon. Now it turns out they are claiming expenses from Parliament to pay rent on a house they own, having put it into some sort of trust. I dare say this is what Tories regard as a clever ruse. Despite the Cameron polish, all you have to do is turn over a rock to see Wintertons scuttling around.

Were they right all along?

Politaholic has been brooding on something for a long time. It is difficult to admit. Why? Because I have no time for Blair or the Blairites. But here it is. I suspect they were right all along. Gordon is not the stuff of which Prime Ministers are made. We all know why, so I won't go over it again now. The straw that broke the camel's back, and forced Politaholic to this unsavoury conclusion, was the Caroline Flint stunt (to which Gordon presumably gave the go-ahead, although now - in typically Gordonian fashion - there is much wobbling). Of course, I should have known: PFI, the London underground, etc. What I didn't expect was all this bloody incompetence. So there it is: the bastards were right.

Hello President Huckabee?

Super Tuesday seems to have settled things for the Republicans. Now that Mitt Romney has pulled out McCain is certain to get the Republican nomination. I expect McCain to tack right and it is being suggested that he will choose Huckabee as his vice-Presidential candidate. Here is the nightmare scenario: McCain chooses Huckabee as his running mate, the Republicans win in November, and McCain - 71 - pops his clogs. Hello President Huckabee. Another 100-carot fruitcake in the White House (he opposes abortion, even in cases of rape and incest; is apparently agnostic as to whether the earth is a mere 6000 years old or not; is an NRA gun-nut, etc, etc). If McCain chooses Huckabee the Democrats should adopt the following slogan: "McCain is 71. Huckabee is his running-mate. Vote (either Clinton or Obama)".
The Democratic contest is uncertain. Clinton still leads so far as the delegate count is concerned, but the Obama bandwagon rolls on, he continues to enjoy an easy ride from the media, and he is raising big wads of cash faster than Clinton. Obama has "the big Mo", and the upcoming primaries and caucuses (including Louisiana which votes today) favour him, since black voters are opting for Obama by, well, 90% in Georgia. I suspect we will have to wait for Pennsylvania in April, and it may even go as far as the Convention. Clinton will try to get Florida and Michigan re-instated; and both will vie for those super-delegates who have not declared yet. Just like the old days, except the rooms will be smoke-free.
I don't know exactly what it is I don't like about Obama. I suspect it is a generational thing. I don't like "celebrity culture" and I'm not keen on "celebrity politicians". I prefer the Attlee-type: no charisma at all. I can't stand the endless chanting of "Yes, we can", rather like a football crowd. And the idea that "he is the change", well, sorry, that ain't good enough. I don't like the way he runs as the black candidate when it suits him (playing the Martin Luther King card against Clinton, who was absurdly accused of denigrating King by the Obama people) and as the "candidate of no colour" when that suits him. I don't like the way he plays dirty against Clinton ("Vote Different", "on the board of Walmart", "can't run the White House if you can't run your own house", the MLK card, etc) without this causing any adverse comment, while the Clintons are constantly being attacked for negative campaigning (Bill Clinton has been virtually accused of being a racist for pointing out that in the past Jesse Jackson won the South Carolina primary. Given that Obama took over 80% of the black vote in that state it doesn't seem an unreasonable observation to me).
One underlying theme of this is how segmented the USA is: Democrats in Georgia opt for Obama, but Republicans in Georgia opt for Huckabee; blacks go for Obama, women and Latinos for Clinton; the young for Obama, older folk for Clinton; blue-collar white Democrats for Clinton; white college-educated and well-to-do Democrats for Obama. Another interesting thing is that the opinion polls seem to be wonky; not just in New Hampshire, but in California too (both states were won by Clinton, although opinion polls had Obama ahead). Clinton didn't cry in California. Is this "the Bradley effect"?
Predictions: I think Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, and especially if Huckabee is McCain's running-mate I think she will win in November. But whether it is Clinton or Obama, if Huckabee is on the Republican ticket, I hope to God the Democrats win.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Flint's startling discovery: there are unemployed people living on council estates

What a brilliant idea! Let's make the unemployed homeless as well as unemployed. That should appeal to Daily Mail readers. Caroline Flint, whose web-site describes her as the "New Labour MP for Don Valley" in south Yorkshire, want's to be able to evict council house tenants who are judged to be not actively seeking work (they can already have their benefits withdrawn). She is shocked, shocked, to discover that so many council tenants are unemployed. Either Don Valley is a very posh place and she has never left it, or she has spent the years since 1979 with her head stuck up her own arse. It takes a Tory - God help us all a Tory, what is going on? - to hit the nail bang on the head. In a letter to the Guardian Justin Hinchcliffe (chair of Tottenham Conservatives) - describes Flint's announcement as "a nasty gimmick designed to appease 'red top' newspapers and others concerned about 'moral decline'". Once upon a time Labour saw it as its role to speak out for the disadvantaged, but those days have long gone...The delightful Caroline is pictured (well, not really).

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Embezzlement rewarded

Let's see if I have this right. Tory MP Derek Conway used his parliamentary expenses to fund his son's party life-style. The Conway brat was given £45,000 over two-and-a-half years while "studying" full-time at Newcastle University (and it seems a second son has also been recieving wads of cash). Now the House of Commons has ordered the MP to pay back £13,161. So, if I steal £45,000 of taxpayers money and get caught, will I only have to pay back 29% of it? Come to think of it, if I stole £45,000 I rather think I would now be sitting in a police cell.

Friday, February 01, 2008

In praise of...the Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative

Politaholic is the proud new owner of a Dawes Ultra Galaxy, bought just before Xmas and now with 587 kilometres on the clock. A wonderful machine. It cost me a thousand squid, a few hundred cheaper than the shop price because I ordered it directly from the Cyclists Touring Club (CTC). Now here's the thing. Many bicycle shops will not repair bicycles that have not been bought at that shop. The EBC do not follow that policy; they will repair any bicycle, and have already helped me out with some teething problems I had with my Galaxy. Not only that, but many bike shops - including those of high reputation in Manchester (but I will name no names) - are prone to looking down their nose at the ordinary cyclist and talking gobbledegook. Anyone who can recall the "woofers" sketch from Not The Nine O'Clock News (see below) will know what I mean. I have frequently had this "woofers" treatment in bike shops; I sometimes think that unless you are young, tall, thin, covered in Lycra, a veteran of time trials, and well-versed in bicycle-engineering-jargon, then you are not really human so far as some bike shops are concerned. The EBS aren't like that; they speak English. They have time for the "utility cyclist" (to-and-from work) and the "leisure cyclist" (touring, holidays) who are not perhaps over-competent when it comes to mechanical things. I think this is commercially shrewd. They all seem ridiculously young from where I stand, but are friendly and helpful even to a old guy like me, whose figure is wholly unsuited to Lycra. Honestly, I have no shares in the company, no axe to's a great bike shop (opposite Whitworth Park).
Click on this to see the Not The Nine O'Clock News Sketch:

Why does Obama get such an easy ride?

The Barack Obama love-in continues: in the Guardian Michael Tomasky describes him as a "less unifying enemy" than Clinton for the Republicans; and Jonathan Freedland describes him as the candidate who can appeal "beyond the party and win over the unconverted". Over at The Times William Rees-Mogg is musing on whether Obama is "the next JFK", comments on his "youth, idealism and style" and says he "could have a message for us all". Con Couglan in The Telegraph says his slogan "Change We Can Believe In" has "touched a nerve among ordinary Americans". Also at the Telegraph Liz Hunt describes Michelle Obama as a "formidable asset" and commends her for standing up to "attack dog Bill" who "played dirty" on race. Gavis Esler in The Daily Mail - the Mail, for God's sake - cannot contain himself: "talent", "charisma", "sets American hearts beating", "extraordinary life story", "electable, articulate, funny, educated and young", and so on. Very little if anthing about Tony Rezko (now behind bars after his bail has been revoked) or that house. If Obama does get the Democratic nomination my bet is that we will hear an awful lot more about this between now and November. Obama's "Tony who?" strategy works for now, but will not withstand the Republican attack machine. For God's sake, Rezko is a propery shark in Chicago (a city with certain traditions). Why does Obama get such an easy ride? His constant harping on "change" without telling us particularly what it is he wants to change from and to is open to derision, but it gets none. My theory is this: liberal criticism is stayed by political correctness, conservative criticism by brute calculation vis-a-vis November.