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Friday 31 October 2008

When to switch off next Tuesday

Nate Silver with Dan Rather. 'If Virginia goes for Obama'.

Say that again

Kiwi designers DDB created this cool billboard for New Zealand's National Foundation for the Deaf (NZNFD).

You take your headphones out of your ears and hold them against the large image of an ear printed on the billboard. If the ear goes green, you're safe. If the ear goes red however, the volume of your headphones may be permanently damaging your hearing.

The NZNFD say seven out of ten under 30-year olds are experiencing symptoms of permanent hearing damage after listening to loud music – yet do nothing to prevent it.

HT: Etre

Tuesday 28 October 2008

The end of Matt Drudge?

This hasn't been a good election for Matt Drudge. Not only has he lost his primacy to the Huffington Post, not only is the MSM no longer reporting his threads, not only has he backed the wrong horse twice, not only has his 'news' seemed increasingly - well - nuttily out of reality but he's had a major, career destroying disaster with the Ashley Todd 'black Obama man wrote a B in my cheek' story.

This though takes the biscuit. A bizarre, unlinking headline typed out last night.

Even madder, his page title is now 'DRUDGE REPORT 2009®'.

Developing ...

HT: crooks and liars

Really cool Google Analytics video

Motion Charts add sophisticated multi-dimensional analysis to most Analytics reports. Select metrics for the x-axis, y-axis, bubble size, and bubble color and view how they interact over time.


Monday 27 October 2008

Could Obama lose?

Robert Kennedy Jr. on Rachel Maddow talking about the systematic and nationally organised blocking of the right-to-vote almost always from Democrats and poor people.

This expands on the article he wrote with Greg Palast in the current Rolling Stone, which Palast did a film for for the BBC's Newsnight.

Gary Younge did a very good roundup of all the bad stuff which has been reported in The Guardian today:
In short, come next Tuesday, the issue may not so much be who votes for whom, but who gets to vote and whose votes get counted. A recent CNN poll showed that 42% of voters are not confident their vote will be accurately cast and counted - almost three times the figure four years ago. With the record numbers of newly registered voters will be a record number of lawyers on both sides. If it's close, the courts may once again pick the winner.
This is a joke from the Simpsons, but it's actually happened.

Says Younge:
In Jackson County, West Virginia, people have been hitting the touch-screen for Barack Obama and finding they have voted for John McCain.
I've yet to see anywhere which is tallying up the likely electoral effect but going on the voter purge numbers suggested it's not actually enormous in a likely 130 million vote election. Significant, dirty and illegitimate - but not enormous.

[Though there are plenty of sites watching voter suppression such as
the Voter Suppression Wiki, SourceWatch’s Election Protection Wiki, the Election Fraud Blog and the Video the Vote project.]

The other demon to raise its head - all the time in BBC coverage, a meme so strong Ian Hislop smugly repeated it on Have I Got News For You on Friday as received wisdom - is the 'Bradley effect'.

The actual Bradley campaign reality bears no relationship to the meme. The reason Bradley lost was because a supposedly 'anti-gun' proposition turned out massive numbers of rural and small town voters not expected through polls.

This sort of 'wedge' tactic has been perfected since by numerous politicians, from John Howard, who used immigration, to George Bush, who used gay marriage. It drives the faithful to the polls, sometimes literally.

Mori's Bob Worcester demolished the idea that in 2008 it's a real effect when yet another BBC journalist raised it on 'Today' this morning, pointing out that there's no evidence from the last US elections in 2006 (and quoting Nate Silver that Obama has a '95.7% chance of winning'). Crankily responding to another question about it he said:
rather than instinct I'd actually prefer to go on what's actually happened.
If I was American I would be somewhat offended by the BBC's ignorance on race in the USA. Maybe they should do this story?

Prodded once again, Silver statistically dismantles 'Bradley' again today saying: Bradley Effect? Or Elephant Effect? — responding to an article by Republican consultant Bill Greener at Like Worcester, Nate also focuses on those 2006 elections.

Very, very little reported but even scarier is Naomi Wolf's belief that America is in the beginnings of a coup.

Yes, a coup.

Here she explains it more but basically she's looked at how all coup d’├ętat start and America ticks all the boxes: secret prisons, mass surveillance. Plus following a typically rushed and secretive 'War On Terror' move, Bush has acquired legal rights to deploy US troops in mainland USA. There have been troop deployments in black ghettos like Oakland.

So some people think it's all going to end in tears and torture in 'black sites'....

However the real argument is will any of this dirty stuff work?

I think not, simply because Obama's lead is too great.

The traditional polls count things like likely voters and often, like Gallup's, base this on whether people have voted before. They are usually not taking account of either new voters or even people who use a mobile phone and not a land line.

But despite all these problems, which Nate Silver's excellent squeezes out, Obama still leads and leads by big numbers in the popular and electoral vote. It's obvious.

It is hard to imagine anything, even a terrorist attack or a Bin Laden video, eroding those numbers.

The sort of voter purge tactics being pursued only really work in much closer elections like the 2000 one - where 57000 people were removed from Florida's rolls - and in 2004 in Ohio.

Again, as Nate Silver has pointed out, the electoral map is such that Obama starts 2 electoral votes short of the number needed with enough solid, double-digit lead, 'blue' states.

Also, Republicans have en masse been fleeing the sinking ship. Particularly fiscally conservative and socially liberal ones - today he got the Financial Times endorsement. Even Palin has been breaking with the campaign tacticians, perhaps because she fears being blamed for a huge loss.

Against all the doom and gloom, which is not based on nothing, are a whole lot of other factors which have to be weighed.

Nothing leads me to think that the US will not have a black president in a week's time. It may well be a bit closer than some think now and the evidence suggests but it will still be a victory.

P.S. An interview with Nate on 'Today' is due ...

Postscript: been reminded by readers that 'in 2004 Kerry was polling strongly, right?'

Actually no. Here's Daniel Sinker:
Looking at polling results from the final days of the 2004 campaign paints a very different picture: With only three exceptions, Bush held the lead in 22 out of 25 polls going into election day. Those leads, which averaged 2.23% for Bush, very closely mirrored the final election outcome: a 2.45% margin of victory.
Sinker also discovered a - perhaps surprising - mirroring between Google Trends numbers for Obama/McCain and the actual poll numbers.

$46,893,000 of free advertising

That's what TechPresident has calculated is the value of Obama's YouTube time.

This comes from getting Tube Mogul to work out how many views X length of video he's had — Obama 14,548,809.05 hours; McCain 488,093.01 hours.

Then get Joe Trippi to pass that number through a blender:
Math works like this. The City of Denver has 1.3million TV households -- to buy those households costs $350 per point ($350 to reach one percent of those households) to reach 100% of those 1.3 million for 30 seconds would cost $35,000. So to reach them all for an hour would be 120 X $35,000 = $4,200,000. To get to 14.5 viewing hours you multiply $4,200,000 X 14.5 = $60,900,000.

Now to take out the 300,000 of the 1.3million to get this really down to 14.5 million hours. 300,000 is 23% of 1.3 million -- so we reduce $60,900,000 by 23% = $46,893,000. We could have gotten rid of the 300,000 using the same method at the beginning to make this easier to understand -- but it is going to be around $46 million.
And that's just his campaign's own 1650 videos. Doesn't count or any of the rest.

Plus this is pull media not push.

Those are huge numbers.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Sarah Palin says GOP welcomes all Muslims

Now this is interesting. Palin's rally goers have been filmed now numerous times saying brownshirt stuff about muslims and Obama - and here's their heroine clearly knocking them right down. I wonder what they'd think of her once (if) these remarks get any play?

VOICEOVER: So how does the McCain campaign really feel about Muslims? Well, the clearest answer is coming from a surprising source, the straight-talker herself.
REPORTER: Do you think the Republican Party should embrace the party's Muslims?
PALIN: Our party's what?
REPORTER: Muslims. Do you think the Republican Party should embrace its own Muslims?
PALIN: We're not going to discriminate against a person's religion at all. No, that is not appropriate and not acceptable, in my book, to discriminate.

Saturday 25 October 2008

Over compensation

This is exactly my point about the BBC's coverage: they are pretending to be neutral when what they're really doing is not telling you (the BBC's license payers) what's actually happening. And this goes back to the primaries.

Andrew Sullivan and Marc Ambinder for The Atlantic on 'How does the media cover a race that is in fact one-sided?'

I heard a ridiculous piece on Radio Four this morning from a BBC correspondent about the racial aspects of this campaign. No, talking up the racial aspects. I will give him that he mentioned that the 'Bradley effect' (where racist people lie to pollsters) has been challenged by former LA Mayor Bradley's Campaign Manager but they still went on about it and it's likely impact. This is not decent reporting, it's Drudge level repeating of a disproved meme.

Here's Nate Silver on 'The Persistent Myth of the Bradley Effect':
Black candidates run races every cycle for the Congress and for the Governor's Mansion, and academics have spent copious time dissecting those results. And while we've never before had a major party nominate a black man for President, we did just finish an exceptionally competitive primary campaign in which a black candidate ran against an extremely popular white candidate with more than 35 million voters participating.

As we have described here before, polling numbers from the primaries suggested no presence of a Bradley Effect. On the contrary, it was Barack Obama -- not Hillary Clinton -- who somewhat outperformed his polls on Election Day.

So why do we keep hearing so much about the Bradley Effect? Apart from the fact that it is a good way to fill column space on a slow news day, it seems that there are three or four reasons why the myth perpetuates itself:
  • Misunderstanding the Bradley Effect
  • Confusing Past with Present
  • Confusing Exit Polls with pre-Election Polls
  • Cherry Picking Result
For BBC reporters I would have to say: not just 'slow news day' but just not doing their job properly and - as the video implies - over compensating for what Blair and others have labeled anti-American BBC coverage.

Here was the BBC's North America editor Justin Webb on Wednesday:
I agree McCain will lose the popular vote but he can certainly still win the electoral college.
This is lying.

Wassup 2008

Remember that annoying Budweiser ad from eight years ago? Well here's the original cast eight years later.

Really effective.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Banksy's NYC show

I really hate doing this but here's the LINK to the Grauniad's report on New Yawkers reaction to the Banksy show.

Here's a viral vid on the show. (The show's very viral).

And another ..

Genius ...


The gift from heaven

The gift that keeps on giving ...

"An America I'd be proud to f***"

n. B.


The history card

HT: Ben Smith:
Upon arriving at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati to vote early today I happened upon some friends of my mothers - 3 small, elderly Jewish women.

They were quite upset as they were being refused admitance to the polling location due to their Obama T-Shirts, hats and buttons. Apparently you cannot wear Obama/McCain gear into polling locations here in Ohio.... They were practically on the verge of tears.

After a minute or two of this a huge man (6'5", 300 lbs easy) wearing a Dale Earnhardt jacket and Bengal's baseball cap left the voting line, came up to us and introduced himself as Mike. He told us he had overheard our conversation and asked if the ladies would like to borrow his jacket to put over their t-shirts so they could go in and vote. The ladies quickly agreed. As long as I live I will never forget the image of these eighty plus year old Jewish ladies walking into the polling location wearing a huge Dale Earnhardt racing jacket that came over their hands and down to their knees!

Mike, patiently waited for each woman to cast thier vote, accepted thier many thanks and then got back in line (I saved him a place while he was helping out the ladies). When Mike got back in line I asked him if he was an Obama supporter. He said that he was not, but that he couldn't stand to see those ladies so upset. I thanked him for being a gentleman in a time of bitter partisanship and wished him well.

After I voted I walked out to the street to find my mother's friends surrouding our new friend Mike - they were laughing and having a great time. I joined them and soon learned that Mike had changed his mind in the polling booth and ended up voting for Obama. When I asked him why he changed his mind at the last minute, he explained that while he was waiting for his jacket he got into a conversation with one of the ladies who had explained how the Jewish community, and she, had worked side by side with the black community during the civil rights movements of the 60's, and that this vote was the culmination of those personal and community efforts so many years ago. That this election for her was more than just a vote...but a chance at history.

Mike looked at me and said, "Obama's going to win and I didn't want to tell my grandchildren some day that I had an opportunity to vote for the first black president, but I missed my chance at history and voted for the other guy."

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Burkeman countdown ...

A couple of days ago Guardian blogger Oliver Burkeman offered:
Highly desirable Guardian merchandise in store for the first person who can pass along a link to an authentically amusing -- non-SNL -- Joe Biden spoof, because I don't believe there are any...
And I ALONE came up with this:

Granted, 'authentically amusing' is debatable. But I's awaiting the merchandise.

Burkeman, the countdown begins ... I have the Guardian's address! Tee Ha ha ha!!

Vote Obama without illusions

Chomsky talking sense. I love the slap on Nader.

Here's part two (Chomsky on the economy).

God is a pussy

But then... there's this ...
"Number one, speaking from an evangelical perspective, the current administration, I believe, has delayed the second coming of Jesus."
A bizarre endorsement.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Ha ha

Here's Osborne in full Bullingdon Club mode circa 1992. Nat Rothschild is #7.

Worth a zoom in methinks ... very Brideshead ...

Snatching victory?

My friend Peter Tatchell goes off on one in CIF about voter suppression, citing at length (natch) the MSM New York Times (and, god forbid, the BBC's US election coverage - see Newsnight, sigh ... )

Pointing to my previous post, quoting Arianna, about the game-changing role of the web in exposing Rovian tactics, this video from Brave New Films about ACORN becomes highly relevant.

This is not to say that they aren't trying all the old tricks, they are, it's Pavlovian (and Rovian). This is a very big part of the fired US attorneys/Gonzales scandal.

But the web and the increased ground-game and the huge lead in resources it has allowed Obama lends a huge edge to the bottom-up fightback against voter suppression. As shown already in Ohio.

This time it's not working.

Plus, as Andrew Sullivan points out in the video, here's one highly significant reason for the 'fraud' call, to explain the coming RepThug loss: we woz robbed.

Peter et al (BBC!), here's where it sits 15 days out:

Postscript: More on the 'ground game, HT: Ben Smith:
I am a lifelong Republican. I have served on the local county Republican finance committee in the past. I am not supporting the Republican presidential candidate for the first time in my life. I have been contacted during the primary by Rudy Giuliani. No other Republicans have attempted to contact me at all, with the exception of local Indiana candidates. I have had no contact from the Indiana Republican Party and no mail from the McCain campaign during the entire campaign.

The real story though, is about my 24 year old son.

He attended college at the University of Hawaii. He graduated in May. He enjoyed his last summer in Hawaii and traveled to China before returning to Indiana in early September. One week before returning to Indiana, he changed his cell phone number to an Indiana area code. After arriving at the Indianapolis airport, we drove home.

Two hours after his plane arrived in Indiana, he received a phone call on his cell phone. It was a local Obama campaign office. They welcomed him to Indiana and asked if he needed assistance in getting registered to vote. He did register and both of us have already voted for Obama.

How is it that an active Republican gets no contact from any Republican office or candidate (except the gubernatorial candidate) and a two hour resident of Indiana gets a phone call from the Obama office?

Game changing election

What's missing in MSM accounts of this election? Arianna Huffington nails it:
McCain is running a textbook Rovian race: fear-based, smear-based, anything goes. But it isn't working. The glitch in the well-oiled machine? The Internet.
YouTube video's massive virality, blogging and fact-checking, email and web-based fundraising. This is part of the difference in 2008: the other huge part is the web's contribution to Obama's far superior 'ground game'.
But there is a diamond amidst all this dung: the lack of traction this Rovian politics is getting. It's as if Rove and his political arsonists keep lighting fires, only to see them doused by the powerful information spray the Internet has made possible.

The Internet has enabled the public to get to know candidates in a much fuller and more intimate way than in the old days (i.e. four years ago), when voters got to know them largely through 30-second campaign ads and quick sound bites chosen by TV news producers.

Compare that to the way over 6 million viewers (on YouTube alone) were able to watch the entirety of Obama's 37-minute speech on race -- or the thousands of other videos posted by the campaign and its supporters.

The Internet may make it easier to disseminate character smears, but it also makes it much less likely that these smears will stick.
Those following this stuff will say that once this is over and the books and articles written we'll be able to more clearly see the difference the internet has made. Frankly I think it's already blindingly obvious.

And I think this will hit the UK in, oh, two years time?

Atheist Bus Campaign takes off

A campaign to raise money for atheist adverts to run on the sides of London buses has gone overboard today - raising it's baseline amount in the matter of a few hours!

Starting today, they hoped to raise £5,500 to run 30 buses across the capital for four weeks with the slogan: "There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." At mid-morning they'd already shot over this amount!

Professor Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The God Delusion, is matching all donations up to a maximum of £5,500, so he's giving a total of £11,000.

The aim of it all?
We can brighten people's days on the way to work, help raise awareness of atheism in the UK, and hopefully encourage more people to come out as atheists. We can also counter the religious adverts which are currently running on London buses, and help people think for themselves.
As Richard Dawkins says: "This campaign to put alternative slogans on London buses will make people think - and thinking is anathema to religion."

Monday 20 October 2008


A couple of clips from the US election which say a lot.

The well-known Time correspondent Fareed Zakaria backs backs Barack and says:
I admit to a personal interest. I have a 9-year-old son named Omar. I firmly believe that he will be able to do absolutely anything he wants in this country when he grows up. But I admit that I will feel more confident about his future if a man named Barack Obama became president of the United States.
And here are some Muslim McCain supporters confronting intolerance at a McCain/Palin rally:

Postscript: The muslim McCain organiser featured in this video has been silenced - by the campaign. I guess the repthug base wouldn't stand for it.

McCain sings Streisand

Jack: damn right McCain's funnier!

There's a reason he's been on the Daily Show more than anyone else. Here's his last appearance (which all sounds most interesting in hindsight).

He may not be back. This may be why.

Red State Update With Joe The Plumber

Red State Update genius.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Music: RIP Levi Stubbs

It's The Same Old Song from 1966.

Reach Out! I'll be there!

More recently, in a truly moving performance with Aretha.

Friday 17 October 2008

Caption competition

Election funnies

There's been lots of comment in reports about 'things we don't do in British elections' — y'know, head-to-head debates and the like — here's another thing: roasts:

I don't want it getting out of this room but my opponent is an impressive fellow in many ways. Political opponents can have a little trouble seeing the best in each other. But I have had a few glimpses of this man at his best. And I admire his great skill, energy, and determination.

It's not for nothing that he has inspired so many folks in his own party and beyond. Senator Obama talks about making history and he has made quite a bit of it already. There was a time when the mere invitation of an African-American citizen to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage and an insult in many corridors.

Today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time and good riddance.

I can't wish my opponent luck but I do wish him well.

Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor El to save the planet Earth.

Many of you -- many of you know that I got my name, Barack, from my father. What you may not know is that Barack is actually Swahili for 'that one'. And I got my middle name from somebody who obviously didn't think I'd ever run for President.

If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it's possible that I'm a little too awesome.

One other thing, I have never, not once, put lipstick on a pig or a pit bull or myself. Rudy Giuliani, that's one for you. I mean -- who would have thought that a cross-dressing mayor from New York City would have a tough time running the republican nomination?

It's shocking. That was a tough primary you had there, John. Anyway, anyway ...
I can vaguely imagine David doing this but Gordon? Nick?

Wednesday 15 October 2008

Two stories from the other world

One of India’s most isolated tribes, the Dongria Kondh, is preparing to stop British FTSE 100 company Vedanta from mining aluminium ore on their sacred mountain, after police and hired thugs forced protestors to dismantle a barricade over the weekend.

About 150 people had blocked the road in Orissa state on Wednesday after hearing that Vedanta intended to start survey work for a planned aluminium mine which would destroy an ecologically vital hill, and the Dongria Kondh’s most sacred site. Vedanta employees visited the blockade repeatedly, threatening the protestors. On Friday the villagers gave in and took down the barricade, but about 100 are still at the side of the road, blocking traffic when Vedanta vehicles approach.

Vedanta is majority owned by London-based Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal.

Today, Dongria Kondh from all over Niyamgiri, the hill range that would be decimated by Vedanta’s mine, are making arrows and preparing their axes to stop Vedanta reaching their sacred mountain. One Dongria man said today ‘Now our people are very angry. We have to show the Dongria Kondh power to Vedanta.’

When India’s Supreme Court gave Vedanta the green light in August to mine on Dongria land, around 40 Dongrias used tree trunks to block a road leading into their hills, and held banners reading, ‘We are Dongria Kondh. Vedanta can not take our mountain.’

The mountain that Vedanta wants to mine is not only the Dongria Kondh’s most sacred site, it is also integral to the entire ecosystem of the hills, enabling the numerous streams and lush forests which sustain the Dongrias to continue to thrive.


Indians from the Enawene Nawe tribe in the Brazilian Amazon occupied and shut down the site of a huge hydroelectric dam on Saturday, destroying equipment, in an attempt to save the river that runs through their land.

The Enawene Nawe say the 77 dams to be built on the River Juruena will pollute the water and stop the fish reaching their spawning grounds. Fish is crucial to the Enawene Nawe’s diet as they do not eat red meat. It also plays a vital part in their rituals.

‘If the fish get sick and die so will the Enawene Nawe,’ said one member of the tribe.

Companies led by the world’s largest soya producers, the Maggi family, are pushing for the construction of the dams. Soya baron Blairo Maggi is also the governor of Mato Grosso state.

The Enawene Nawe number only five hundred, and live in one village in large communal houses around a central square. They were first contacted in 1974 by Jesuit missionaries. They chose for many years to have very little interaction with the outside world, but threats to their land have led them to campaign vigorously for their rights.


I've commented before about the BBC's - well - shit coverage of the US election and they are still featuring stories about a McCain comeback.

Ain't going to happen.

Much as they, and many others, were talking about a Hillary comeback well after it became statistically impossible.

I should have laid a bookies bet when the odds were a lot better.

I had an interesting conversation about this at the weekend about, essentially, how repthugs might steal the election. My take: a landslide will take care of it. Only in a close election, like 2000 (Florida) and 2004 (Ohio) can they utilise their various tactics to remove Dem votes and result in Repthug victories.

But this doesn't mean they are not trying. The latest sign of desperation is to claim that a voter registration effort called ACORN amounts to a voter stealing effort. Trouble is they are facing a Dem 'ground game', driven by the internet, which has never, ever been seen before. has been traveling around and documenting this, but it just builds on the grassroots, netroots tactics I've been reporting for months.

And this is already playing out in a massive turnout,. In early voting Obama is 23% ahead.

Another meme trotted out by people like - ahem - the BBC's US correspondents is the so-called Bradley Effect. Namely that whites will say they'll vote for the black guy but don't in the end. According to the pundits, this means that Barack needs to be at least 6% ahead to take account of this.

Trouble is that this is a myth, in the primaries Obama consistenttly out performed the polls. Plus although there may be some of this, there is also the reverse.

What has been relied on in the past is, essentially, cheating and it's no less evident this time around.

From the potential for electronic vote tampering - which is being countered by a grass-roots infiltration campign - to a foreclosure-based remove-the-vote effort to:
Despite eight years of federal and state efforts to create a more standardized, higher-tech national framework for election administration, most state votes will still be administered by county election boards whose competence and equipment vary wildly.

"In South Florida you've got areas that are going to be on their third separate voting technology in their third consecutive presidential election," said Doug Chapin, the editor of the non-partisan "Ohio once again is in ground zero for policy changes and litigation."

Florida, the state that has been synonymous with Election Day chaos since the 2000 recount, remains especially troubled despite intense local efforts to remedy its problems. A 2006 congressional election was marred by a dispute concerning more than 18,000 "undervotes" on ballots that registered votes for some offices but not for the congressional race itself. The losing campaign claimed that unusually high number of undervotes was due to a software glitch on "touch-screen" voting machines.

The newest state on the list of potential troublespots is shadowed by a disastrous election in Denver two years ago. Denver County responded by scrapping its machines and reverting to old-fashioned paper ballots and printed lists of voters this year, but critics are still worried about the state's capacity to manage the surge of registrations in a closely fought race.
It is the grass/net roots which is now so huge and so organised which is countering any of this - but in the foreground it's the landslide poll numbers across all the key states which is wiping it out as relevant.

Quote from Ben Smith's blog from a Repthug consultant:
Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart.

Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.

The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:

54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."

The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."

I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....
There isn't much doubt that everything will be tried but there also isn't much doubt that - bar the completely unforeseen - it's all over bar the shouting.

This explains why Repthugs are running for the hills and the excuses are starting to be made.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Reader apology

I've had some complaints about the Sarah Palin game which runs below - it loads automatically, along with it's sound. Which is obviously potentially very annoying (unless you like banjos).

Thing is, the game has been linked to from the Alaskan blog Mudflats. This blog has been news central since the Palin VP pick was announced and as a result of the link from there I am getting more hits than I have ever had.

So patience please, dear regulars :]

Friday 10 October 2008

Postscript: Scary Americans

From Leah Rabin's obituary in The Independent:
When young peace campaigners went to her Tel Aviv flat to comfort her after the murder, she asked them accusingly why they hadn't come during the long months when Rabin's abusers picketed them there every weekend. She shunned the Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had spoken at a Jerusalem rally in which demonstrators brandished photo- montages of Rabin in Nazi uniform.

Hours after Rabin's state funeral, Leah told an Israeli television interviewer: "There definitely was incitement which was strongly absorbed and which found itself a murderer, who did this because he had the support of a broad public." Earlier, when Rabin's coffin was lying in state, she frostily told an opposition leader who came to pay his respects, "It's too late."
HT: M.J. Rosenberg

Music: You're The One For Me

Absolute tops early eighties NY funk from D Train. Still perfect near 30 years on.

This is the extended remix - here's the 6:20 Soul Train version complete with great dancers in bad clothes and here's an astonishing live version with James 'DT' Williams.

There are remixes by Larry Levan and Shep Pettibone, the latter is the best.

Amazed that some boy band hasn't redone this.

Thursday 9 October 2008

Scary Americans

McCain supporters tell their stories while waiting for the McCain/Palin rally in Bethlehem, PA, October 8, 2008.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Does any of this make sense to you?

In Zim, life is one Nietzschean moment after another:
It’s hard to describe the grind of daily life in Zimbabwe without baffling people with numbers, percentages and statistics that are so unreal they are uncomprehendible. The cash crises that has crippled us for years has been one of those undescribable things.

The last few months have been horrific.

This morning I once again saw red when I opened my month-end bank statement.

Yesterday I had a balance in my account of $2,000 (at old value that is 20 trillion dollars / $20,000,000,000,000.00). This account is dormant, untouched for months.

This morning I find I owe the bank $500,000 in service fees for one month’s bank charges to hold my $2,000. This is no joke.

The joke may be the $4 interest I received or the $0.80 cents withholding tax that I am paying, but my sense of humor is weak today and I cannot even laugh at that!

As I write this the parallel / black market rates are as follows USD1 = ZWD2500 and ZAR1 = ZWD360.

These rates will change within an hour.

The daily cash limit, per person per day is now a whopping (ha, ha) $20,000 (USD8, ZAR55.56).
The cost of a personal cheque book at today’s price (it will change by tomorrow) is $2,000,000 or $33,333 per page.

You pay $33,333 (USD13.33, ZAR92.59) to receive $20,000 (USD8, ZAR55.56).

Does this make sense to you?

And to get that $20,000?

A friend of mine got to the bank at 3am this morning and was handed a number – number 94 in line. At 5pm he finally got to the front of the queue. There is only one withdrawal allowed per customer so you cannot even take a friend’s card and work a tandem operation. Nope: it’s to the back of the line please for the second card transaction!

A company cheque book at today’s price is $11,000,000 (USD4.400, ZAR 30.550) or $110,000 per page. A company is restricted to a cash allowance of $10,000 per day (USD4, ZAR27.78), half that of an individual. A company pays $110,000 to receive $10,000.

Does this make sense to you?

Meanwhile, in Harare’s Glen Norah suburb residents have resorted to legal action to stop police seizing food aid meant to be distributed to two hundred starving households.

And at one university?
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) said after weeks of just eating boiled cabbage with no salt or oil, the students could take no more when the canteen menu changed to just plain sadza and no relish.

The cash strapped students say the situation was worsened by the fact that they were forced to pay Z$17 billion for their food by the college authorities. Although the money was later reduced to Z$1.6 billion none of the students who had paid the full amount have been reimbursed.

Music: You don't love me

Dawn Penn's one big hit, which she actually first recorded in 1967 for Prince Buster!

Coz if you asked me / Baby / I'll get on my knees and pray boy

When in doubt .. (or losing)

Yep sirey. Doggone it, when in doubt, pull 0ut the race card (wink).

Maybe this is why the McCain campaign has now banned reporters from talking to Palin's supporters:
“Now it turns out, one of his earliest supporters is a man named Bill Ayers,” Palin said.

“Boooo!” said the crowd.

“And, according to the New York Times, he was a domestic terrorist and part of a group that, quote, ‘launched a campaign of bombings that would target the Pentagon and our U.S. Capitol,’” she continued.

“Boooo!” the crowd repeated.

“Kill him!” proposed one man in the audience.
And more:
In a recent video clip from MSNBC, McCain asked a rally, "Who is the real Barack Obama?" In response to McCain's rhetorical question, a voice from the crowd can be clearly heard to shout in response, "Terrorist!"
Translation: this uppity, elitist black man is really a towel-head. There's your divide-and-rule tactic to victory. Rovian campaigning 101 only more so (skirting incitement to assassination).

As always, a good rant from Mr Olbermann clears the palate (and nails the hypocrisy to the floor):

"It's a dangerous road, but we have no choice," a top McCain strategist recently admitted to the Daily News. "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose."

Update: The Secret Service is following up on media reports that someone in the crowd at a McCain/Palin event suggested killing Barack Obama.

Update: McCain-Palin Rally Attendees Caught On Tape: "Obama Is A Terrorist"

Sunday 5 October 2008

Not so 'secret' killing program

Bill Maher with Bob Woodward. Woodward says 'the surge' wasn't all that: it was some "newly developed techniques" rather than more grunts on the ground that rapidly reduced violence in Iraq.

Woodward said the same to CNN in this under-reported piece: Secret killing program is key in Iraq, Woodward says
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The dramatic drop in violence in Iraq is due in large part to a secret program the U.S. military has used to kill terrorists, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward.

The program -- which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb -- must remain secret for now or it would "get people killed," Woodward said Monday on CNN's Larry King Live.

"It is a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have," Woodward said.

In "The War Within: Secret White House History 2006-2008," Woodward disclosed the existence of secret operational capabilities developed by the military to locate, target and kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent leaders.

"If you were a member of al Qaeda or the resistance or some extremist militia, you would be wise to get your rear end out of town," Woodward said. "It is very dangerous."
Maher jokes about 'exploding baskets' and Woodward says 'you're not far off'. But you have to think this is something to do with technology? Analysing communications, locating and targeting, something like that ...

Thursday 2 October 2008

Paul Canning hits New Hampshire for Obama

NB: New Hampshire's a swing state.

He's a union organiser from the 'International' Union of Painters and Allied Trades in New England. (Groan on the 'international'). And, yes, I'm a little intrigued to check out the relationship with moi's history ...

You go Paul!

[Oh, and here's the Union blog post which alerted me]

Wednesday 1 October 2008

Arianna quotes CP Snow

"facts are sacred ... but comment is free".

Another British export.

More of Arianna Huffington at Advertising Age.

Music: Yoko Ono 'Walking On Thin Ice'

This was #1 on the US dance charts in 2003, when Yoko was 70yo (nb: avoid all mixes). On the extended 12", Lennon can be heard remarking "I think we've just got your first No. 1, Yoko." The guitar is Lennon and this was his last creative act.

"I knew a girl who tried to walk across the lake / 'course it was winter when all this was ice / That's a hell of a thing to do, you know / They say the lake is as big as the ocean / I wonder if she knew about it?"

Honesty in backdrops


After years of seeing 'diversity', pearls and pants-suits in backdrops to male politicians it's nice to see some honesty coming from the Tories.

Pie chart

HT: Etre