Friday, October 31, 2008

A young lady and 1,000 open mouthed men

....And on Songs of Praise as well.

It all happened at Truro cathedral and is broadcast this Sunday.

I mention it because one of the Burble brothers is amongst the
men, and features on the right of this trailer snapshot (right).

I love it when a plan falls apart

This is very entertaining. The Tory C Team.

I love it when a plan falls apart

This is very entertaining. The Tory C Team.

Give us a ray of hope, cock

So said Tom Baker to Vince Cable on Have I got news for you - a classic.

Psst....fancy a bargain?

I would heartily recommend keeping a weather-eye open at Lidl. Their stores across the country are offering 500ml bottles of Wychwood and Shepherd Neame beers (such as Bishop's Finger and Hobgoblin) at £1 a throw.

That's £1.14 a pint for an excellent beer - compared to well over double that in a pub.

As always with Lidl, though, blink and you'll miss it. We've just bought an excellent guitar set for £30 for a Chrimble present for a loved one (it's alright - she never reads this rubbish). But it was one of the last two on offer at our local store.

Obama's strategic masterstroke

One of the most important strategic developments of this year's US Presidential campaign has been Obama's "50 state strategy".

As the target states reduced over the summer, there was much criticism of this strategy.

However, today John McCain is having to visit his own state of Arizona in order to shore up the vote there. And we see the Obama campaign doing well in states previously considered off-limits to Democratic presidential campaigns, such as Indiana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Montana, Virginia and Georgia.

This is obviously making it difficult for McCain. He's been spending a lot of time in states which should have been a shoe-in for him - thus missing important opportunities to spend time in more crucial states such as Ohio and Florida.

Most importantly, by widening the scope of his campaign beyond the focus on Ohio and Florida of recent elections, Obama has motivated volunteers and donors in states which normally don't get touched by the Democratic campaign for President.

As a bonus, Obama's strategy will probably trickle down to win the Democrats some congressional seats which they would otherwise not have won.

So, all in all, the strategy is proving very fruitful.

There is much historical backing for a flexible state strategy. It is tempting to think of the Presidential state map from the last couple or so elections as being relatively fixed: The Democrats win California, the north-east and New England. The Republicans win Texas, the mid-west and the south. Ohio and Florida are the ding-dong battlegrounds.

But if you look back at previous elections, the map has always been changing. Indeed, if you go back to the election of the Republican William Taft in 1908 (below from, the map of the states he won, versus those won by his Democratic challenger William Bryan, was almost the complete reverse of the prevailing map from the last decade or so. Taft won California, the north east and New England. Bryan won Texas and the south.

If you look at the 1960 Nixon/Kennedy map (below), that is quite topsy-turvy, compared to today's conventional picture. Nixon won California. Kennedy won Texas. Obviously, Nixon had been governor of California and Lyndon Johnson, Kennedy's VP nominee, swung his home state of Texas. But you still see Kennedy swabbing up much of the south, while Nixon takes Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, which are currently relative Democratic sinecures.
Even as recently as Jimmy Carter's election in 1976, the map (below) looks rather weird when compared to today's political landscape. (This is, in part, explained by Jimmy Carter hailing from Plains, Georgia). Carter cleaned up the south, including Texas. But Gerald Ford, his Republican opponent, won California and north eastern states which are present-day Democratic strongholds, such as Michigan, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Conneticut.
By the way, Google have an excellent interactive map of the states and counties, and how they have voted in recent elections.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama's masterpiece

I've just viewed this "infomercial" for Obama (below), which was watched by 30 million Americans last night.

It is a masterpiece.

One thing I'd say is that if Obama's political career blows up, he could have a lucrative career as a voiceover artist. He's got a great narrator's voice.

McCain: Now it's getting embarrassing

Have a look at this (below). Notice anything? Nearly all the audience behind McCain are kids. That's because 4,000 of them were bussed in to make up the numbers! And the other hoot is that McCain announces his hero Joe the Plumber and asks him to come up on stage and's no Joe the Plumber there!

Is the "Bradley effect" going to kibosh Obama?

The wonkosphere has turned it's attention to the role of the undecideds in the US Presidential election. With the polls showing a stable trend, with perhaps a little tightening, and with McCain forced to run robocalls in his own state and dodgy adverts on C&W stations in Virginia, the picture is in Obama's favour.

However, the one remaining mystery area is the undecideds. In each poll there is around 7% of the little devils. If they all break for McCain (which wouldn't surprise me) Obama is going to have great difficulty getting to 270 electoral votes.

In the Salon yesterday, Bill Greener argued, based on the supposed "Bradley effect", that most of the undecideds will go for McCain, leaving Obama on shaky ground.

There are a number of difficulties with Greener's argument.

1. It is arguable that the Bradley effect didn't actually exist in the first place. The polls on the actual election day showed Bradley heading for defeat anyway.

2. All Greener's examples of Bradleyesque effects can be offset, I suspect, by other examples of where African Americans have been elected according to the polls.

3. If the Bradley effect were, for the sake of argument, a 3 percentage points phenomenum, then it could well be offset by a 2-3 point "mobile phone" effect going the other way. It has been pointed out that pollsters are consistently going for landline voters while ignoring mobile phone owners, who overwhelming go for Obama.

4. Obama isn't black. He is of mixed race. He straddles two cultures. His upbringing in Hawaii in the care of his (white) grandparents does, I suspect, offset many Bradleyesque effects in people's minds.

5. It is 26 years since the Tom Bradley election. US voters have moved on.

6. Greener's theory is based on the sweeping and unsubstantiated supposition that the remaining undecideds have already seen enough of Obama and don't like him. However, today I have seen some ultra-wonkish figures which demonstrate, reasonably authoritatively, that the undecideds will split about 54-46 in Obama's favour.

To read more about this and actually drown in wonkishness, read Mark Blumenthal in the National Journal Online here.

Are we a nation of hypocrites?

I see that the Jonathan Ross has been suspended, with no pay, for three months and the head of Radio Two has resigned over the Brand/Ross affair. I think that is right, and the BBC Trust's strong statement is welcome. (I don't think Brand's resignation was necessary but he behaved in a very dignified way in offering it - and probably did his long-term career a favour by doing so - he is an off-the-wall comedian not a middle-of-the-roader).

If we stand back and compare this to the Andrew Gilligan/David Kelly "Today" episode, the two controversies are very different.

Andrew Gilligan did a live two-way broadcast from his own home at 6.30am in the morning and went over the line. We know the rest.

On this occasion, the broadcast was actually recorded. It is quite breathtaking to consider this. The BBC brass had time to review it and call Andrew Sachs to ask him if he was all right with it being broadcast. The problem was that they played the recording back to Sachs over a mobile when he was standing by traffic, and he actually said, when asked if he was okay with it being broadcast: "Not really".

So this wasn't a broadcaster error, although Ross and Brand should obviously take their share of the blame. It was a producer error.

And then that begs the question: If you leave a 25 year old producer in charge of Ross and Brand in a studio - what do you expect ? And apparently the producer checked it "upstairs" and was given the OK.

So this whole charade is a question of broadcasting management, primarily. So, I think the Radio Two head's resignation is justified.

But let's reflect on other aspects of this strange affair.

Two people complained on the day the broadcast was made. It was only after exposure on competing media outlets that the complaints started racking up.

How many people who complained thought that Sach's grand-daughter was a teenager in pigtails? Probably a large number, I suspect. Perhaps if they considered the following, some of them wouldn't be quite so outraged:

Georgina Baillie, the grand-daughter, is a 23 year-old whose Bebo page describes her hobbies as "pole dancing and luvv". She appears (below) on the page in skimpy underwear. She is in a dance troupe called the "Satanic Sluts Xtreme". Someone has commented on her page as follows:

A few days ago Georgina Baillie was boasting about being mentioned on the show and not upset at all! There is a link to the clip on the Satanic Sluts myspace page posted by them that say's "Russell Brand gives the Satanic Sluts a mention" so it clearly didn't upset her if she was happy to have links to it.So at the time she was clearly proud of it then and the stuff he was saying to her grandfather didnt bother her at the time for her to post a link to it. She was just glad her dance troupe got a mention.

Indeed, over the last couple of days we read and seen quite a lot of Ms Baillie in the Sun.

This doesn't excuse what Brand and Ross did. But it does explain it a little.

There is some hypocrisy here. Millions watch and listen to Brand and Ross. Like many comedians, they cross the line so much they have chalk dust all over their shoes. So do Graham Norton, Chris Moyles and Paul Merton. So did Chris Evans in his previous incarnation. If any number of clips of all those comedians' shows were to be plastered over the Daily Mail and played on News at Ten, the BBC would be inundated with complaints.

For example, a few months ago Paul Merton said that the Duke of Edinburgh had set fire to the Cutty Sark. If that clip had been splattered all over the place there would have been hordes of complaints. He was, of course, joking.

The point is that the BBC should not sack Jonathan Ross altogether unless there is a complete reassessment of comedy broadcasting in this country and we, as a nation, suddenly decide that we want to be complete hypocrites and ban what we, well er, actually quite like.

Tennant's camp followers

Can anyone explain why, when David Tennant announced he was leaving Doctor Who, he was flanked by two rather butch-looking (some might even say "camp") types in 18th century army garb who looked as though they had escaped from a Barbara Cartland novel?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The best ad so far?

This latest ad (below) from the Obama campaign is, I reckon, one of the best from the whole election period. It is very subtle, yet goes for the jugular on McCain's two of main weaknesses: the economy and his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate.

McCain, meanwhile, is airing a fascinating radio ad in deepest Virginia, on Country and Western music stations. It says: "Just as you suspected, Barack Obama's wrong for you." - An interesting choice of words, where "suspected" is arguably inter-changeable with the word "prejudged", which of course is the past particple of the noun "prejudice". Mind you, if McCain needs to spend money on changing the minds of people who listen to country and western music stations in Virginia, six days before election day, then he is already deeply enscounced in what George H W Bush calls "deep doo doo".

One "not a lot of people know that" fact: Barack Obama's birthday is on August 4th, the same day as the Queen Mother was born (although in a different year, of course). I mainly noticed that fact because my birthday is on August 5th and I got used to the dear old Queen Mum celebrating her many birthdays the day before mine.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A few words in defence of Kerry Katona

There's been a bit of a hoo-ha this week about Kerry Katona's appearance on ITV's "This Morning", when some reckoned she looked "drunk".

She wasn't drunk. Yes, she slurred her words. She very honestly explained this by the fact that she was taking night-time medication, which she, very openly, named.

But you can tell (video below) from the very quick, controlled pace of her words, her perfect appearance and the fact that her body language seems entirely controlled, that she was, in fact, stone cold sober.

If she had been drunk, her body would have been wobbling (it wasn't), her hands would have flailed about uncontrollably (they didn't) and she would have had difficulty stringing a coherent sentence together (she didn't - she was remarkably lucid if you take away the slurred speech).

Her body language and coherency were entirely sober - her speech alone was slurred.

The best way of describing her demeanour is that she was like someone who had had a very strong injection at the dentists and, as a result, couldn't get the words out unslurred, but whose command of language was completely intact.

Give old Ferny and Philly-boy their due. They pressed their questions with great tact. They haven't lost their nose for a good story, albeit somewhat over-hyped.

But the woman wasn't drunk and she deserves a break.

I will be buying a bag of chips at Iceland (she does their adverts) this weekend in solidarity with the girl.

Her husband explained:

Due to the TV commitments Kerry had last night, Kerry was four hours late in taking her medication for an ongoing bi polar condition.
One of the side effects of her drugs is slurred speech and as Kerry took the drugs late and was up early it was particularly bad today. Kerry would like to categorically state for the record that that the only thing she drank before the show was cups of tea.
Having answered the questions to the best of her ability, Kerry was upset at the insinuation that she was on anything other than the prescription drugs which she has always been honest about taking.

A little respect, or at least consideration, for someone with bi-polar disorder would be appropriate. "This Morning" now deserve a return visit from Katona, supported by Stephen Fry (fellow bi-polar disorder sufferer), to give them a good old grilling.

A bit of a theory....

I am developing a little theory. I might even call it the "Burbler's Rule" - if I am stupid enough.

I am thinking ahead to US Election night. Yes, I am counting chickens, I know. And there could still be that major national security alert which "No drama" Obama manages to up-cock and John McRage manages to resolve without one of his impulsive shenanigans.

If, like me, you sometimes find it difficult to master all the names of the states and their political leanings (I always get Wisconsin, Missouri and Minnesota mixed up for some reason - and let's face it, even Russ on "Friends" couldn't remember all 50 states), you might want a little easy rule of thumb. So here is one. Well, it's not that easy actually.

If Obama wins a state with a vowel at the end of it, he's doing well.

The exceptions are California, Hawaii, Minnesota, Delaware and District of Columbia, all of which he should win anyway (oh dear that's an embarrassingly long theory-shattering list isn't it?). And Maine. Oh dear - it's not that good is it?

Not brilliant. But it works quite well for Florida, Indiana, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio and Missouri - all of which are on the tied, barely or weak Obama list.

I wish I hadn't started....

Basically the results come in from east to west. So for the first roughly 20 results if you ignore Maine, Delaware and District of Columbia, if the state has a vowel at the end and Obama wins it, he is doing well.

Pass the revolver...

Now it is getting silly.....Even Marlboro Man is moving to Obama!

A Montana State University Poll shows Obama leading by four points over McCain in Montana.

An AP poll the day before showed McCain ahead by one point and RealClear Politics averages McCain's lead in the "Treasure State" as 3.3 points.

This is a state which Bush won by 20 points in 2004!

(The reference to Marlboro Man is explained here - Montana was always the backdrop to the Marlboro Man ad photos)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I wanna be ELECTED

It seems a very opportune time to dredge up this old classic. IMHO it represents the apotheosis of Alice Cooper. It beats the dreaded "Schools Out" by a country mile.

Another potential Alaskan surprise on the horizon...

For the second time in two weeks, many are waiting for the oputcome of an ethics case involving an Alaskan politician. This time it involves US Senator Ted Stevens, previously famous for repeatedly describing the internet as "TOOBS".

The jury is out in the court case involving Stevens. As Votemaster notes: If he "is found guilty of having accepting lavish gifts and then concealing them on his Senate disclosure forms, his career as a senator will surely be finished."

After the shocks of the Palin saga, a guilty verdict would not bode well for the Republican party in Alaska. And it'll probably produce another precious US Senate seat for the Democrats.

More on Nick Clegg's thoughts at precisely 10.04pm on Monday

Now that I am reunited with a decent network connection, I can quote more fully exactly what Nick Clegg was thinking at 10.04pm on Monday (see below). Why, you might ask, was some journo oik phoning up the Cleggster to ask him what he was thinking at such a precise time? Well, apparently it is the precise moment of the day when we are at our most creative (as opposed to 6.25am when, apparently (So I am told), male hormone levels are running riot at their most bullish - but that's another matter).

So a Grauniad scribe assembled the 10.04pm Monday thoughts of a host of the great and the good, including our beloved leader. The Cleggster alleged that he was thinking about some high-falutin' economic/environmental cross-matching-type scenario. Some of the other "great and the good" types were thinking less uplifting thoughts.

For example: Alex Kapranos was discussing ladies' silk underwear. Shami Chakrabarti was having a "tortured and mundane conversation" with her husband about their Christmas holidays. Sebastian Faulks was deciding whether or not to open another bottle of wine. Sharon Horgan was thinking about an episode of "Katie and Peter".

Here's the Cleggster's input:

I was coming back from a dinner with economic experts. I began to think about the danger of the environment being left behind as the economy worsens. High energy bills are an environmental problem as well as an economic one. We have to think creatively. Why is it that people are charged more for the initial amount of energy they use? Turning this tariff structure on its head would encourage people to use less energy and help the poorest who use less already. Now there's a simple idea all economists can surely agree on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What Nick Clegg was thinking at 10. 04pm on Monday

...High energy bills are an environmental problem as well as an
economic one.

We must be most grateful for this insight into our revered leader's mind.

Read the rest in today's Guardian 2.

Via baked bean can&string

Sarah Palin still doesn't know what the Vice-President does

Oh dear. Sarah Palin still doesn't have a clue what's in the US Constitution about the role of the Vice-President. It's enough to make a grown man weep:

Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is “in charge of the United States Senate“:

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”

PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

Indeed, while Palin suggests that questions about what the Vice President does is something only her daughter Piper would ask, Palin herself asked this very question on national television in July. Apparently, she still hasn’t learned the correct answer.

Article I of the Constitution establishes an exceptionally limited role for the Vice President — giving the office holder a vote only when the Senate is “equally divided”:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

Moreover, the U.S. Senate website explains that the modern role of Vice Presidents has been to preside over the Senate “only on ceremonial occasions.” ThinkProgress contacted Senior Assistant Paliamentarian Peter Robinson, who also disputed Palin’s characterization of the Vice President’s role:

In modern practice the Vice President doesn’t really control the Senate. … If anyone has a responsibility to try to govern the Senate, it’s the responsibility of the two leaders.

Obama's Hawaii trip - could have been written into the script by his campaign manager

Call me an old cynic if you like. But I don't think that Obama taking off 36 hours to see his ailing grandmother will be do his campaign any harm. Indeed, it will help it and already has done.

Think of what we have seen in the last 24 hours: The news cycle dominated by news that Obama is prepared to take time off to fly all the way to Hawaii to see his dear old grandmother (Trivia alert: This must surely be the first time a major US party presidential nominee has visited the proud state of Hawaii two weeks before the election).

Most of all, we have seen photos of Obama's grandmother flashed up on the media (causing, I would suspect, paroxysms of delight in the Obama campaign control tower).


She's white!


So, the Bradley effect takes a bit of a bashing. The ratings go up for "shares our values" and any McCain shenanigans with Jeremiah "God damn America" Wright videos will now look like very bad form - very mean-minded.

Of course, I don't for a moment suggest that any of this is anything but coincidental, and it is very sad that Obama's grandmother is very ill. I just don't think any of Obama's campaign team will worry about their candidate going AWOL for 36 hours for that reason.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

John McCain craps himself

I mean that in the card playing sense. (McCain is a keen craps player after all.) He is "betting the farm" on winning Pennsylvania. Just look at the state polling graph below (from - you can drive a bus through Obama's lead there. John Kerry won it by two points.

Votemaster explains:

McCain Concedes Colorado, Iowa, and New Mexico

CNN is reporting that McCain is making those tough decisions that politicians love to talk about. According to CNN, McCain is abandoning Colorado (9 EVs), Iowa (7 EVs) and New Mexico (5 Evs). If Obama wins these three he gets 21 EVs. Add these to the 252 EVs Kerry won and he has 273 and becomes President. McCain's strategy at this point is to win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, and--get this--Pennsylvania. The first six are arguably swing states, but our three-poll average puts Obama 12 points ahead in Pennsylvania. McCain is effectively betting the farm on a state which looks like an Obama landslide. It is a strange choice. Colorado looks a lot easier than Pennsylvania. James Carville once famously said that Pennsylvania is Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama sandwiched in between. Maybe McCain is going to go all out to win the white working class men in the Alabama section of Pennsylvania. McCain can't possibly do it on the economy. What's left? Maybe run against the Wright/Ayers ticket? Any way you look at it, this has to be a desperation move.

Get ready to hear "God damn America" non-stop

McCain campaign manager, Rick Davis, has been thinking aloud about "using" Rev Jeremiah Wright. It's bound to happen. The McCain campaign used 10 different messages yesterday alone, so this one's got to come. Standby to hear the clip below multiple times in the next few days. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A double political orgasm

I have long been a fan of Colin Powell. His eloquence and good judgment are obvious. This endorsement interview (below) really had me in raptures. The bit which particularly moved me is when Colin Powell described how he was moved by a photo essay which ended with a photo of a grieving mother at Arlington Cemetery by the grave of her son who had died in action in Iraq and been awarded the Purple Heart and several other honours. The picture showed the crescent and star of the Islamic faith on the gravestone. Powell contrasted this to some comments from members of his own Republican party. Very moving. To have this great figure endorsing another marvellous politician was just.....(see title)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Joe the plumber - a story of fuzzy maths

Of all the stories coming out of the 2008 US Presidential Elections, the one about Joe the Plumber is potentially the most fascinating one.

This guy (who is called Samuel Wurzelbacher) went up to Obama last Sunday. "Wurzelbacher told Obama that, after 15 years of working as a plumber, he's now preparing to purchase a company that makes more than $250,000 a year. "Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" he asked."

Look at the man (left). Now consider that Obama's tax increases don't cut in until someone is earning more than $250,000. Something's not right is it? Knowing that he is a plumber, one is bound to ask: does this man really earn over $250,000? Does he have a chance of purchasing a firm that would provide him with salary and profit in excess of $250,000?

It turns out that the answers to those questions are: No and no.

He earns an estimated salary of around $48,000 currently.

The firm he wants to purchase would provide him with earnings of about $6,000 on top of that. So, Mr Wurzelbacher, even if he bought the firm, would be about $200,000 under the threshold at which Obama's tax increases start. Indeed, he would get a bigger tax cut from Obama than he would from McCain.

Why all the confusion? Well, dear old Joe was getting his numbers a bit mixed up. The company he wants to buy has a gross worth of $250,000 but annual sales of only $100,000 with estimated profit after salaries of $6,000.

So, in essence the whole saga has blown up because of an error where either Joe's earnings were multiplied by a factor of five, or Obama's tax rise threshold was divided by a factor of five.

Andrew Romano has the full and fascinating details here:

This presents us with an interesting--and illustrative--case study. Whether or not Wurzelbacher buys his business, he's guaranteeed to get a larger tax cut from Obama than McCain--and yet he still prefers McCain's plan to Obama's. Ultimately, then, we end up with two potential voting blocs. First there are the people who earn less than $250,000 and want the largest possible tax cut for themselves--a group that doesn't include Joe the Plumber OR Joe the Small-Business Owner. Then there are the people--like Joe--who earn less than $250,000 a year, but are willing to turn down the bigger tax cut for one of three reasons. Some are trickle-down/free-market adherents who believe that larger tax cuts for those richer than themselves will best serve the economy. Others simply don't trust Obama to keep his word. And then there are those who identify with the wealthy, believe they're bound strike it rich someday and don't want to pay higher taxes when they do.
Both groups--Group Joe and Group Non-Joe--have valid positions. But the question facing McCain--who
hopes to make taxes the centerpiece of his closing argument--is which group is bigger. All told, voters making less than $250,000 a year represent 98 percent of the electorate, so they'll be picking the next president. Traditionally, many of these folks resent the idea of having to pay more money if they ever become part of the other two percent, so they side with Republicans on taxes. After all, that's why George H.W. Bush closed the gap with Bill Clinton in the final days of the 1992 race. McCain may still benefit from a similar shift. But one has to wonder whether the traditional GOP message on taxes has lost some of its luster amid a financial crisis that suddenly makes it significantly easier for people like Joe the Plumber--if not Joe himself--to picture themselves earning much less in the future, not much more. In which case Obama--who offers more people more money more quickly--would stand to gain.

Viewers complain to BBC about Pestonmania and that blinking red graph

I'm not going mad. Yet, it seems. I have been getting increasingly annoyed by the BBC. In fact, at times watching their news, I am what the Americans would call "fit to be tied" over all their hysterical panic over the stock market crisis.

For example, the other day, we had Hugh Edwards saying that the New York stock market was in "melt down". I then checked what that day's position was. The Dow had gone down by 2%. That is not "melt down". It is still higher than in 2003.

Then we had Sophie Raworth this week saying inflation is "soaring". RUBBISH. It is at 5.4%. Talk to Zimbabweans if you want to know about "soaring" inflation.

Then there is that blessed pulsating downward red graph line then show all the time (above). ARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHH

Then there is the canonisation of Robert Peston - complete with flailing arms and staring eyes. You can rely on him to make a drama out of a crisis.

Anyway, I am delighted that other BBC viewers share my feelings on this. Today's BBC Newswatch was saturated with viewers going on about it. One viewer, a financial expert, described the Pestonmania situation and concluded that he fully expected Robert Peston to have his own Christmas special show complete with dancing girls and fireworks.

Another viewer pointed out the red downward graph line and asked: Why, on days when the stock market is going up, is the graph line still going down?

Good question.

The importance of a Colin Powell endorsement

Colin Powell is appearing on the telly box tomorrow. It is potentially conceivable that he just might possibly endorse Barack Obama. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza on The Fix explains why this would be so important:

1. Turnabout is Fair Play. Powell is best known for his most recent job in government -- as the secretary of State for President George W. Bush. The idea that a high-ranking cabinet official in a Republican administration would come out for the Democrat is simply too juicy a story for the media to ignore. That it would be someone as high profile as Powell would only add to the titillation.
2. The Most Popular Man in America? Powell, unlike almost no other official with ties to the Bush Administration, has retained remarkable popularity ratings. In an August Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll, more than three-quarters (76 percent) of voters viewed Powell favorably while just 13 percent saw him in an unfavorable light. A large part of Powell's appeal is his perceived bipartisanship -- a direct result of his decision to repeatedly turn down overtures to run for president in his own right. For a certain (not insubstantial) portion of the electorate, when Powell speaks, they listen. The Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll reinforces that fact; more than one in three voters said a Powell endorsement of Obama would make them more likely to vote for the Democrat. (Hat tip to Jon "The Numbers Man" Cohen for the polling data.)
3. Iraq, All Wrong. Powell, thanks to his immense popularity, was the Bush Administration's choice to
make the case in front of the United Nations for the invasion of Iraq. Powell has since called that incident a "blot" on his record, and made clear his disappointment with the prosecution of the war. An endorsement of Obama, who built his candidacy on his early opposition to the conflict, would mark a clean break with the Bush Administration on the war and would add significant heft to Obama's argument that he alone possesses the judgment to lead the U.S. in a dangerous world.
4. The Final Straw. With polling -- both in the key battleground states and nationally -- showing that voters trust Obama more than John McCain to handle the current economic morass, one of McCain's last hopes is that the the election turns back somehow to a foreign policy focus. If Powell does endorse Obama, it would shore up the Illinois senator even if that eventuality occurred; it would be hard for McCain to slam Obama's approach on the war if the Democrat had a Powell endorsement sitting in his back pocket.

Friday, October 17, 2008

McCain's weird face and Joe (sic) the Plumber (sic)

Those were the two main features of the third US Presidential debate, which I have now watched on CNN.

Not every network showed as much "split screen" as CNN. But McCain's face was really odd. The split screen showed Obama as fairly normal while McCain looked just, well, weird. See below. He seems to think he has to smile all the time. It's perfectly ridiculous. Almost frightening.

Dave Gergen put it very well. He said that the debate was an exercise in anger management for McCain.

As for Joe the plumber, he isn't called Joe and he isn't a licensed plumber. (McCain showed as much care in choosing his hero as he did in choosing his running mate). Votemaster summarises the facts that have been unearthed by some simple media enquiries:

(1) his name is Sam, not Joe, (2) he does not have a plumbing or contractor's license, items required by city ordinance, (3) the taxable income from his plumbing business would qualify him for a tax cut under the Obama plan, not an increase, and (4) he has an outstanding lien for over $1000 in backtaxes he owes.

Cameron's ludicrously hypocritical criticism on the economy

In his speech this morning, David Cameron said:

...what we need is responsible free enterprise, regulated and supported by responsible government....(Brown) stood aside as our households racked up over a trillion pounds of personal debt.
So when the boom did turn to bust and the value of assets fell our financial system was hit harder than most.
The Government couldn’t complain about financial institutions lending too much money because the Government itself was borrowing too much from them.
Added to this was a regulatory mistake that I believe history will judge as one of the most irresponsible.
Rather than trying to restrain lending, in 1997 the Government removed the Bank of England’s historic ability to ensure that banking credit was kept within responsible limits.And the failure to regulate public and private debt in Britain was a British failure.
It was a failure Gordon Brown was warned about time and again.

Oh. Brown was warned about this "time and again" was he? So as you are so clever, Mr Cameron, you will no doubt be able to point us in the direction of instances when you warned about this "failure to regulate" won't you?

So when did you warn about this, Clever Cammysticks?

Was it in your 2006 annual conference speech? Oh no! Whoops! You actually said: "We need to...Deregulate our employers and wealth-creators"

Was it in your 2005 annual conference speech? Oh no! Whoops! You actually said: "Everyone knows that business need deregulation to compete with China and India. Who is standing in the way? The great regulator and controller, Gordon Brown."

So, in 2005, Cameron was saying that Brown was regulating too much - "The great regulator" he called him - and now he is saying that he (Brown) hasn't been regulating enough for the last ten years, and that Brown was warned about this. Well, if some were warning him, it certainly wasn't you, David Cameron, and indeed - quite the opposite - you were telling him to deregulate!


Conservatives: We are the party of regulation

Yes, it just looks ridiculous doesn't it? Forget Margaret Thatcher and Cecil Parkinson's "Big bang" in City deregulation. Cameron would like us to believe that if the Conservatives had been in charge they would have been tightening up on regulations on debt management.

It is just so laughable that we should all now take a break to laugh.

Stomach hurts.

Cameron says that Brown has been mishandling the economy terribly and shouldn't have let all this debt happen.

OK. So let's look back at a random time in the last couple of years when Cameron, the Great Soothsayer, could have warned about the economy and all this debt and laid into Brown's fiscal management.

OK. Let's pick....for random......Cameron's speech to the Conservative conference in October 2006.

Any mention of the word "debt"?

Any mention of the word "mortgage"?

Indeed, the passage on the Economy in the speech is a bit of a "blink and you'll miss it" scenario. Here is the sum total of Cameron's words on the economy in his big speech of 2006:

George has also rightly said that we need a broad-based economic policy, not just a tax policy. We need to strengthen our pensions system. Deregulate our employers and wealth-creators. Invest in education, skills, the potential of our people. Build a modern transport system. And we need to do more to promote British trade and investment. In this age of globalisation and fierce international competition from India, China, Brazil, we cannot afford to sit back. We have to fly the flag for British business.

Er...that's it.

And did you notice a little word there? "Deregulate". Yes. This Great Soothsayer who now says Brown should have been regulating, in 2006 actually told him and the country that we should "deregulate".

Now look at his main conference speech from 2005. No mention of "debt", "mortgage" or "deregulate" but, oh dear, look what we have here:

Everyone knows that business need deregulation to compete with China and India. Who is standing in the way? The great regulator and controller, Gordon Brown.

Oh dear. What an embarrassing acrhive of speeches Cameron has. He must wish he can delete it from the internet.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Terry Wogan reads out an email from me this morning

Dear Sir Tel read out an email from me this morning. You can hear it here on iPlayer at 11:28.

Over the last couple of years I have sent in a few emails to Our Tel but used my real name. Now I have finally succombed and used a "funny name", like everyone else on the programme. But he read out my real name anyway and I was extremely honoured that he did a genuine "Radio Two link" to a mention for a concert in memory of the late Paul Walters, his excellent producer for many years.

Mr Angry is SOOOOOOOOOOOO ANGRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here's a bit of fun from You Tube, based on the various McCain facial contortions from last nighht's final Presidential debate. As one commentator said, it's "Grumpy Old Man" versus "Cool Hand Luke":

Looking on the bright side #934

Not a lot of people know this.

The price of oil has more than halved in the last three months.

Yes, Brent Crude was $145 a barrel at the beginning of July.

It is now $71 a barrel.

Isn't funny how when the price goes up, the pump rpice goes up quickly, but when the oil price goes down, the prices at the pumps can be rather stubborn in not heading south very quickly.....although fair play to BP, Morrisons and Asda ?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I have voted for Ros

I have just voted for Ros Scott as first preference to be Party President and, as second preference, for Chandila Fernando.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


John McCain is behind in North Carolina, which would normally be a state which votes for the Republican candidate.
Have no fear, however.
Old McCainny is not to be outwitted and he has recently visited the state for the first time in ages and is bombarding it with adverts.
Only one slight snag....however. Since he turned his attention to the state, the polls have got worse for him with vital independent voters (presumably turned off by his negative ads):
The McCain campaign has just recently started to really contest the race here, with the candidate making his first appearance in the state in five months yesterday. He has also ratcheted up his advertising, which seems to be having a mixed effect on his poll numbers. Independents, who may be turned off by the negativity of his campaign, have moved more toward Obama in the last week. What was a 46-40 lead with them is now a 52-37 advantage for the Democrat.

I am in the right party after all

Gavin Webb has been reinstated as the PPC for Burton!

Back of the net! Trebles all round!

Gavin says in a mail to friends:

I can happily inform you that my suspension from standing for the Party for three years has now been dropped by the West Midlands Regional Party as they acknowledge they didn't follow the proper procedure whilst investigating the original complaint against me. Therefore, I am now reinstated as PPC for Burton. Thank you all for your continued support throughout this process.

I think this is so important. It is vital that we continue to have free thinkers like Gavin in our party, or we cease to be a proper liberal party.

Monday, October 13, 2008

McCain: I'll whip Obama's "you know what" in debate John. You're supposed to lower expectations, then everyone says you've done a fantastic job afterwards. If you raise expectations.....oh dear...what's the point?

Now let's get ready for the real problem....

Cecil Parkinson was the father of the "Big Bang". I remember this point being put to him in an interview once and he agreed, without any obvious concern for a potential paternity suit.

So that was...deregulation of the city...let the devil take the hindmost...big bonuses....trebles all round...London rules the world.

And how has it ended?

I have noticed a lot of ordinary people being worried recently. Don't be. The whole tiswas of the last few weeks boils down to dodgy plumbing. Banks didn't want to lend to each other and the LIBOR (London Inter-Bank Offered Rate) went sky high, thereby seizing up the system.

In one sense, this had nothing to do with any actual value-add activities in the real economy. Activities that produce products or services (aside from loaning money). That sort of thing.

But of course, it was starting to impact the real economy through scarcity of loans.

So we were in danger of disappearing down an economic black hole - all for the want of a financial plumber to stick his squeegee down the drain and sort out the faulty ball cock in the banking system.


And so, we've now had, if Will Hutton is right, the largest spate of nationalisation in British history (Hutton said on BBC News that what is being done now is far greater than what was nationalised in any one year of the forties under Atlee).

So, Socialism bails out capitalism. On the other side of the Atlantic, George Bush ought to be wearing a beret and shouting "Power to the People!". He is, after all, now the most socialist President in US history, with the arguable exception of FDR.

So, now let's get ready for the real problem.

When the oil runs out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The low-down on dodgy dealers: Keating, Ayers, Rezco, Singlaub, Davis

This Fact Check from AP helps us cut our way through the thicket of "dodgy dealers" which have emerged in allegations and counter-allegations in the US Presidential election.

Hockey mom booed at Hockey game

Oh dear, a bit of a puck-up.

When Sarah Palin dropped the ceremonial first puck at the Flyers’ opener on Saturday night at the Wachovia Center, she was greeted by resounding (almost deafening) boos. Ed Snider, owner of the Flyers, had her introduced to the crowd more as a hockey mom than as the Republican candidate for vice president. She was flanked by Scott Gomez, the Rangers center, and Mike Richards, the Flyers center.
While Philadelphia fans are known for not being shy about voicing disapproval,
the question has been raised — including by me in an earlier version of this post — whether the appearance was appropriate at a sports event like this.
(writes Lynn Zinser of the New York Times.)

The Wilmington News Journal says: seemed like there was an avalanche of boos when she walked out -- boos that were almost immediately drowned out by blaring, bombastic music.There is no doubt in my mind that that the music was ordered up to help tamp down what could have been an even more embarrassing moment.The weirdest part of it was that Palin, who had to know she was going to be booed, walked out with her cutie pie 7-year-old daughter, Piper.Why do I have a feeling that poor Piper will be discussing being booed by thousands with a therapist in about 10 years?

'Alaskan Independence Party: The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel'

Robert F. Kennedy Jnr has written an excellent article comparing the McCain camapaign's negative attacks with Sarah and Todd Palin's long association with the Alaskan Independence Party, which appears to be getting "lost in the mix":

..if McCarthy-era guilt-by-association is once again a valid political consideration, Palin, it would seem, has more to lose than Obama. Palin, it could be argued, following her own logic, thinks so little of America's perfection that she continues to "pal around" with a man--her husband, actually--who only recently terminated his seven-year membership in the Alaskan Independence Party. Putting plunder above patriotism, the members of this treasonous cabal aim to break our country into pieces and walk away with Alaska's rich federal oil fields and one-fifth of America's land base--an area three-fourths the size of the Civil War Confederacy.
AIP's charter commits the party "to the ultimate independence of Alaska," from the United States which it refers to as "the colonial bureaucracy in Washington." It proclaims Alaska's 1959 induction as a state "as illegal and in violation of the United Nations charter and international law."
AIP's creation was inspired by the rabidly violent anti-Americanism of its founding father Joe Vogler, "I'm an Alaskan, not an American," reads a favorite Vogler quote on AIP's current website, "I've got no use for America or her damned institutions." According to Vogler AIP's central purpose was to drive Alaska's secession from the United States. Alaska, says current Chairwoman Lynette Clark, "should be an independent nation."
Vogler was murdered in 1993 during an illegal sale of plastic explosives that went bad. The prior year, he had renounced his allegiance to the United States explaining that, "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government." He cursed the stars and stripes, promising, "I won't be buried under their damned flag...when Alaska is an independent nation they can bring my bones home." Palin has never denounced Vogler or his detestable anti-Americanism.
Palin's husband Todd remained an AIP party member from 1995 to 2002. Sarah can be described in McCarthy-era palaver as a "fellow traveler." While retaining her Republican registration, she attended the AIP's 1994 convention where the party called for a draft constitution to secede from the United States and create an independent nation of Alaska. The McCain Campaign has reluctantly acknowledged that she also attended AIP's 2000 Convention. She apparently found the experience so inspiring that she agreed to give a keynote address at the AIP's 2006 convention and she recorded a video greeting for this year's 2008 convention. In other words, this is not something that happened when she was eight!

This is, seriously

This puts me in a tricky situation. It is, of course, outrageous to use anti-immigration laws to seize the assets of Icelandic banks in the UK. It turns out that the assets are worth £4billion, and they will therefore come in handy in helping to persuade the relevant Icelandic authorities to return the £3billion owed to individuals, councils and charities in the UK.

In an off-guarded and sanguine moment, I might absent-mindedly regard that seizing action of the UK government as showing some prescience and, even, chutzpah. A snigger might even emit from my person in a solitary moment. (Perhaps even a "way to go, Gordie", if I was in my cups).

But that, of course, would be terrible. So I will quickly straighten my face and say that it is, of course, outrageous that......continued on page 97.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Troopergate Day ends - report published

As I write, Troopergate Day is just coming to an end in Alaska (they're nine hours behind us).

So I am just in the nick of time to say that Troopergate Day was aptly named, distinguished as it was by the publication of this legislative investigator's report which says (see snapshot below):

Finding Number One

For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaskan Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides:

"The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and that any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust."

AP summarises:

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- A legislative committee investigating Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has found she unlawfully abused her authority in firing the state's public safety commissioner. The investigative report concludes that a family grudge wasn't the sole reason for firing Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan but says it likely was a contributing factor.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Troopergate day - update!

McCain's campaign is obviously nervous. They've released their own advance Troopergate whitewash report. Meanwhile, the New York Times gives an enticing glimpse of what may be in the investigator's report:

The Times’s Serge F. Kovaleski also looked into the matter and, under an Anchorage dateline, writes:
Ms. Palin has denied that anyone told Mr. Monegan to dismiss Trooper Wooten, or that the commissioner’s ouster had anything to do with him. But an examination of the case, based on interviews with Mr. Monegan and several top aides, indicates that, to a far greater degree than was previously known, the governor, her husband and her administration pressed the commissioner and his staff to get Trooper Wooten off the force, though without directly ordering it.
In all, the commissioner and his aides were contacted about Trooper Wooten three dozen times over 19 months by the governor, her husband and seven administration officials, interviews and documents show.

Is your council stuffed?

Sky have this handy list of councils in hock to the Icelandic banks:

Barnet £27m:: Bassettlaw District Council £8m:: Bolton Council £6m:: Braintree District Council £5m:: Breckland District Council £12m:: Brent £15m:: Bridgnorth District Council £1m:: Brighton and Hove City Council said it suspended transactions:: Bristol City £8m:: Bromley £5m:: Buckinghamshire has £5m:: Burnley Borough Council £1m:: Caaerphilly County Borough Council £15m:: Canterbury City Council £6m:: Carmarthenshire County Council £4m:: Ceredigion County Council £5.5m:: Cheltenham Borough Council £11m:: Cherwell District Council £6.5m:: Cheshire County Council £8.5m:: Chorley Borough Council £2m:: Cornwall County Council £5m:: Cotswold District Council £2m:: Daventry District Council £8m:: Derwentside District Council £7m:: Dorset County Council £28.1m:: East Ayrshire £3-5m:: East Lindsey District Council £4m:: East Staffordshire Borough Council £1m:: Exeter City Council £5m:: Gateshead £4.5m:: Gloucester City Council £2m:: Haringey:: Havering £12.5m:: Hertfordshire County Council £17m:: Hillingdon Council £20m:: Ipswich Borough Council £2m:: Kent £50m:: Kinross £1m:: Kirklees Council £1m :: Lancashire County Council £10m:: Lancaster City Council £6m:: Lewes District Council in East Sussex £1m:: Monmouthshire County Council £1.2m:: Moray Council £2m:: North Ayrshire £15m:: North Ayrshire Council:: North East Lincolnshire £2.5m:: North Lincolnshire £5.5m:: North Somerset Council £3m:: Northumberland Council £23m:: Nottingham City Council £41.6m:: Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council £3m:: Oxfordshire councils £28.5m:: Perth and Kinross Council £1m:: Plymouth City Council £13m:: Powys County Council £4m:: Redcar and Cleveland £6m:: Restormel Borough Council £4m:: Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council£3m:: Rushmoor Borough Council £2m:: Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council £3m:: Somerset County Council £25m:: South Hams District Council £1.25m:: South Lanarkshire £7.5m:: South Ribble Council:: Stroud District Council £3m:: Surrey County Council £20m:: Sutton £5.5m:: Tewkesbury Borough Council £1m:: Transport for London £40m:: Wakefield Council £9m:: West Lindsey £7m:: West Sussex County Council £12.9m:: Westminster City Council £17m:: Wiltshire County Council £8m:: Winchester City Council £1m:: Wirral Council £2m:: Wychavon District Council £1.5m:: Wycombe District Council £2.5m

Obama buys 30 minutes prime time on 2 national networks a week before election

This is what I call thinking big:

Barack Obama has purchased a half-hour of primetime television on CBS and NBC, sources confirm.
The Obama campaign is producing a nationwide pitch to voters that will air on at least two broadcast networks. The ad will run Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. -- less than a week before the general election.
The direct purchase of such a large block of national airtime right before an election used to be more commonplace before campaigns began to focus their endgame strategies exclusively on battleground states. Such a move is not without precedent in modern presidential politics, however -- Ross Perot did a similar purchase in 1992.
The special is a smart move for the Obama campaign, said Larry Sabato, a political analyst and director of the Center of Politics at the University of Virginia.
"Obama's theme is not just change but unity, so he's appealing to the whole nation rather than a handful of tossup states," Sabato said. "He wants to win the popular vote by a good margin, which will enable him to govern."
And he's got the cash for it.
"This is another indication, if there needs to be any more, that Barack Obama's got more money than [available] television time to buy," said Evan Tracey, COO of the Campaign Media Analysis Group in Arlington, Va.
Whether John McCain's campaign will do the same remains to be seen, though there's one big thing moving against it: money. Unlike Obama, who rejected public financing of the presidential campaign, McCain is accepting it. That means the McCain camp is limited in the amount of money that it can spend and raise, and in its TV buying has been limited mostly to ads in battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Florida.
"There will be no second-guessing the Obama campaign on decisions involving resources," Tracey said. "He's not doing this and pulling down [ad] buys in Florida. This is not an either/or decision. They've got 25 days and unlimited amounts of money."
Neither Sabato nor Tracey could say whether the McCain campaign could buy its own time on the networks, even if it wanted to, because of the cost involved. The networks are obligated to offer the similar time and the same price to McCain.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


This cloud of my blog posts for the last 35 days tells us:

1. Yes, I am obsessed with Sarah Palin.
2. I am even more obsessed with John McCain.

Direct from deep inside the Obama camp in Michigan.....

This exciting up-to-the-minute report comes direct from an insider working deep inside the Obama campaign in Michigan!

The campaign has been incredible so far. There are so many people helping out and really enthused! I have met families with 3 generations helping out! That is something special.

The other thing that is so exciting is the number of new people who are registering to vote. In Michigan voter registration ended this Monday, so up to that point there was a huge push to get as many people registered as possible. In the end we (as a state) managed 25,000 new people registered in a week!

On the first day I got here I went to register people outside a local supermarket. It was pretty cold, but everyone was so nice and friendly that it didn't matter at all! The security guard at the door even brought me out his sweater! Everyone I met - members of the public, store employees and activists were great.

That night it was the highly anticipated vice-presidential debate. The experienced and statesman like Joe Biden Vs the very much inexperienced ("I've only been at this 5 weeks") Sarah Palin (If you haven't seen it already check out some of the interviews she has given and the Tina Fey comedy sketches!). It was great to watch the debate with so many enthusiastic supporters!

But something even better happened, the cherry on top! Michelle Obama turned up and made a great speech! She really has talent, her speech was moving and did a great job of energising the crowd.

Well, I don't think any of my future days on the campaign could top that (I'll let you know!). Another crazy thing happened on that day. The rumour went around that McCain was pulling out of Michigan. I just couldn't believe it. Why would he pull out of one of the most marginal states? But it was true - reports in the papers the next day confirmed that he was supposedly going to pull his campaign ads.

Now since then I have seen lots and lots of McCain's attack ads so I think we have to take it with a pinch of salt. Supposedly the decision was based on some polling which showed things just weren't going McCain's way. It then came out that Palin was not happy with this decision - she has commented that she would be happy to come back to Michigan, and the local republicans are trying very hard to get her back!

Perhaps it's just a ploy to try to catch Obama activists out. Whatever it is, it's a very odd move!

Another thing that''s odd is McCain's decision to move his strategy away from the economy - clearly THE MOST IMPORTANT issue to ordinary people - and onto nasty attacks.

It's certainly been interesting.

Another Palin gush is due

As the Norfolk Blogger says:

Oh what a joy Sarah Palin is. She's the candidate who just keeps giving.

Yes, indeed. Just when you think the great Palin Fun geyser might dry up, another gush comes everyday like "Old Faithful".

I am officially declaring tomorrow "Troopergate Day"

The Troopergate report is coming out!!!! (Subject to a few legal technicalities being ironed out)

Let joy and celebrations be unconfined!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is John McCain cracking up?

In this clip, recorded today at a venue not in, adjacent to or, indeed, anywhere near a prison, he says:

"Across this country, this is the agenda I have set before my fellow prisoners"

Hello? Nurse, he's out of bed again.

Sarah Palin: Palling around with secessionists

I've mentioned Palin's links to the Alaskan Independence Party before.

This very effective video pulls together some pretty damning evidence about her connection with the movement:

Hasn't McCain got a home to go to?

I first took interest in a US election campaign when Hubert Humphrey took on Richard Nixon. That was 1968 when I was nine. I was interested in that election because of the shape of Hubert Humphrey's head (left). He looked a bit like a funny cartoon charcter.

I have particularly watched in great frustration as Gore, then Kerry, failed to "win" the Presidency (the former case being highly debatable, of course).

One thing I have noticed, because it has frustrated me greatly, is that once the TV debates are started or over in October, very little changes. Indeed, studies have shown that the debates only shift things by a point or more.

So McCain, it would seem, is either at "drinking up time" at Last Chance Saloon or, indeed, he is at the stage of "haven't you got any home to go to?"...."my wife doesn't understand me"....that sort of stage.

So the question is: Is it time for the Obama family to start choosing the colour of the drapes in the White House?

Of course not. They'll be blue anyway, I suspect.

Too much effort and energy has gone into the campaign to have a breather now.

But with Obama showing leads in the polls in states like Virginia and North Carolina, it is very difficult to see what McCain can do to shift the momentum, besides detonating a dirty nuclear bomb in Starbucks in Des Moines, Iowa and blaming the Iranians.

Last night's debate was described as a "wipe out" by Andrew Sullivan - i.e McCain got wiped out. The snap polls showed a clear win for Obama from undecided voters and the CNN Ohio uncommitted voters live graph was off the scale with positives for Obama and down in the dumps of negatives every time McCain spoke. Summary: they like Obama and they don't like McCain.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Well done, Nick Clegg!

Order of the brown nose to be sent in a plain brown envelope to Paul Walter, 9 Acacia Avenue......

Well done to Nick Clegg for bringing back the members of the shadow cabinet who voted for the referendum on the EU Treaty. This is an excellent act of leadership....letting bygones be bygones. All the MPs involved are excellent liberals and I am glad they are back in the shadow cabinet.

At the risk of getting oodles of comments from Rusty, I saw the EU Lisbon Treaty/referendum furore as (in the words of French and Saunders) "a lot of stuff and nonsense".

But, I will don flak jacket and tin hat as I know many people felt strongly about it. I just thought it was one of those things and that Clegg acted quite rightly and very strongly during the whole episode.

Tax professors agree: Sarah Palin's Tax returns are wrong

From TaxProf Blog (oh, the rarefied reaches of the web I explore to feed my Palin-habit!):

Jack Bogdanski (Lewis & Clark) & Bryan Camp (Texas Tech) have independently reviewed the tax issues raised by the release of Gov. Palin's 2006 and 2007 tax returns and financial disclosure form, as well as the remarkable opinion letter issued from Washington D.C. tax lawyer Roger M. Olsen. Jack and Bryan conclude that there are serious errors in Gov. Palin's returns as filed and that she and her husband owe tens of thousands of dollars in additional taxes.

But then again, it's not patriotic for wealthier Americans to pay higher taxes is it? Of course not. Silly me.

As Votemaster explains very well on Electoral Vote:

When Sarah Palin accepted John McCain's offer to be his running mate, she probably didn't fully realize what being in the national spotlight meant. For example, your tax returns get to be analyzed in public (for free) by miscellaneous tax experts. Gov. Palin actually lives in Wasilla, a suburb of Anchorage, but the state capital is in Juneau, 500 miles away as the crow flies (assuming they have crows in Alaska). On the many nights she stayed at home, she claimed to have been away from the capital on business and was reimbursed $17,000 by the state for this "travel." Being paid a per diem for staying in your own home is ethically dicey but probably legal since "away on business" is probably defined as "not near your office." However, Palin was also paid $25,000 to reimburse her husband and children for being away from "home" (Juneau) which she did not list as income. A D.C. tax lawyer and two law school professors specializing in tax law have concluded that if the State of Alaska wants to pay the governor to take her family on "business trips" that is its good right, but the money received is taxable income under the internal revenue code and the Palins should have declared it and paid tax on it, which they did not.

McCain repeats his mistakes

This is required viewing for all students of the US Elections (below). It's an online documentary on John McCain's role in the Keating scandal.

CNN's FactCheck comments:

The Verdict: True. McCain did push to delay regulations that would have cracked down on savings-and-loans practices and intervened on Keating's behalf, although he was cleared of wrongdoing in the "Keating Five" case.

Cost of the scandal to the US taxpayer: $3.4billion

And McCain is repeating the mistakes. From

The Keating scandal is eerily similar to today's credit crisis, where a lack of regulation and cozy relationships between the financial industry and Congress has allowed banks to make risky loans and profit by bending the rules. And in both cases, John McCain's judgment and values have placed him on the wrong side of history.

Red sky at night

Taken at 18:20 tonight

US election links

Here are my favourite links for keeping up to date with the US election:

Taegan Goodard's Political Wire is superb, for its main page and its breaking news aggregator. This is the first place I go when I do a check on what's happening in the US. In fact, I probably visit this site a bit too often for the good of my health.

The Politics Home USA page is also an excellent way to keep abreast of events and articles.

Electoral Vote has an excellent projection map and daily commentary.

The Huffington Post, or Huffster as I call it, always seems to have the cutting edge on the latest buzz.

Daily Kos is great, especially when you feel depressed. There's a great community there.

BBC News is good especially Mr Justin Webb who often makes sense of things when others don't or haven't yet.

CNN have a great politics site but it is usually a little on the "lagging" side

CNNFN - good for the latest on the stock market

YouTube - good for getting the latest ads and speeches

Daily Show with Jon Stewart - always manages an hilarious take on events

Saturday Night Live - the weekly opening sketch is a must-see at campaign time