Sunday, February 24, 2008
The privatisation fetish
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Fermanagh declares independence
Sunday, February 17, 2008
In defence of supermarkets
Clinton/Obama battle helps Republicans
The Saudi Taliban
Friday, February 15, 2008
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
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
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
It's not black and white
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
My assumption is that the MP's from Norfolk will prudently sit out this controversy.
Markets are not always best
Saturday, February 09, 2008
The greedy Wintertons
Were they right all along?
Hello President Huckabee?
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.