Have I mentioned how cool it is to have a US President who feels like one of us? IT literate, a bit geeky, smart, likes a good debate, enjoys being challenged on ideas, etc. It's cool, isn't it? Thing is? He's just another political leader. Who am I talking about here:
Relatively obscure politician with a legal background, went to an expensive school and a top university, came out of nowhere while in opposition, good line in rhetoric and appealing to a broad church, very capable and intelligent wife, young family, wins on a landslide with the wishes of the nation having mobilised a massive national effort seeing record membership for his party. Promising change.

Yup, you're right. It's Tony Blair. And Barack Obama. Worse? Watch this ((via):
Comedy Central's The Daily Show video with Jon Stewart covering the inauguration )
Scary, innit? Reminded me of something though. From a few years back, while Blair was still in office, while Cameron was still trying to build his 'brand'. I know, I know, he's still trying to build his brand, but still:
YouTube video of Armando Ianucci's Time Trumpet comparing Blair to Cameron )
President Obama sir? I really hope I'm wrong on this one. Please don't turn into another Tony Blair.
I'm awake, honest. I've had enough coffee to get me going again anyway. Doing some tidying up to my LJ, renaming tags, etc. This seems like a good enough reason to rename one of them, plus 2008 has ended so it's time to start a new 'life' tag for this year.

Appears I've posted less about what's been going on in my life this year than any other calender year that I've had the LJ. I guess being happy gives me less to write about, right? Completely skint, but there y'go, can't have everything.

I don't do new years resolutions, and, well, predictions are a bit of a mugs game, but, well, might as well.

UK: politics will dominate, likely election, bit of history explaining why )

Obama's honeymoon, potential pitfalls, hope he holds it together )

Europe, Referenda, Libertas and elections )

Meh, 7pm. Time to go pick the Shrub up from her Dad's.
Normally when I think of Kansas politics I think of things like evolution being banned in schools or those silly stickers they tried, but this is a refreshing change; an interesting and innovative use of the internet by a USian running for the Kansas state legislature and raising funds through an XKCD style webcomic. It's attracting reasonable coverage in the US media, including a fairly favourable write up in the LA Times, and he's getting record numbers of donations.

full comic / larger version
The nature of US politics makes it very different to directly translate fundraising techniques to the UK, even if it's appropriate, our focus on parties within a multi-party polity is very different to their focus on individuals within a two-party system (even if in most districts we have an effective two-party system anyway, gotta love Duverger), but this sort of thing is certainly going to appeal to the sort of demographic that should be voting Lib Dem anyway—wonder if anyone could come up with a more generalised UK version with a similar sort of message?
Odds are good if you're reading my journal you're at least paying a little bit of attention to the US election campaigns currently still going. Not least because at the end of it all, the person elected gets control of enough nukes to blow up the world a few times, which is rarely the case in a foreign election. It's, um, a bit of a mess, n'est ce pas?

For those that don't normally pay much attention, the US candidate selection Primary system is usually over by now. Usually. Normally both sides have got a clear front runner and the others pull out in the name of "party unity". This year? No chance, both parties remain too close to call. The drawback of personality politics and directly elected executives, you can't just elect a local MP, you need a candidate your party is happy with. And if you have a country the size of a continent and 6 times more people than Britain, that takes just a little bit more time. So, y'know, I thought it was time to
  1. put on my psephologists head and
  2. laugh at the stupidity of the BBC pundits who're getting so much wrong.
So, the US has two parties. The Republicans are best described as a bit like the Cornerstone Tory "faith flag and family" brigade, only with more money and less sense. The Democrats are best described as Ken Clarke style one-nation Tories, with a little bit of New Labour dressing. Note the lack of British-style liberalism (US liberalism is, for the most part, not liberalism by any sane definition of the word) and complete absence of any sort of real social democrat. In other words, two lots of corporatist, money grabbing loons, with one side slightly less bad. Of course, those generalisations are based around those they elect—A lot of Democrat activists are nearly as liberal as me, and there are some sane republicans, including a fair few non-loonies. So, well, let's start with the Republicans.
The Republican nomination race )
The Democrat nomination race )

Summary

In the Republican race, the Christian/conservative vote was split, giving McCain a false lead, now that Romney has withdrawn they might just select a lunatic with no chance, which would be good. In the Democratic race, it's too close to call, and while Hillary may be a perfectly good Democrat, she's not my type of democrat, and she could lose to the non-lunatic that the Republicans may still elect. Obama is ahead, and gaining momentum, but the situation could change. Can we hope it won't?

Yes, we can...
[livejournal.com profile] absinthecity has done the new US version of the Who Should I Vote For quiz, and has results similar to but not identical to mine:
Who should you vote for?
Mike Gravel63
Dennis Kucinich54
Barack Obama27
John Edwards3
Hillary Clinton-21
You expected: Dennis Kucinich
Your recommendation: Mike Gravel
Mike Gravel Bio—nice touch )
It's appears to be a lot less biased than the 2005 UK version that I wrote an analysis of back then, curious that both Abs and I both get negative scores for Hilary, it confirms that I am very opposed to her on the issues but I pretty much knew that already. Question is, are the issues selected and the weight given to them fair to each candidate? The problem with the previous version was the policies selected and the weight given them, made it very unlikely to get a Labour result. So is our mutual negative for Hilary because she's a really bad candidate with daft policies, or is it because her good policies aren't options? Any USians (especially Hilary fans) care to give it a go and tell me?
Bootnotes: might as well do the other two versions.
Republican )
Independent/undecided )
Right then, the US primaries are on us, and a bunch of people are backing anyone they think is anti-establishment or just anti-Bush. One in particular is getting a load of support online. The "libertarian" called Ron Paul. The scare quotes are there for a reason, he ain't any kind of libertarian I recognise. Ages back I somehow got myself on left-leaning news magazine The New Republic emailing list. I've kept meaing to unsubscribe, but think I may keep it going for a bit longer. Real, proper investigative journalism, digging out and wading through years worth of his newsletter archives (anyone who tells you "blogging" is new has no clue what blogging is). In the past, when archives of his racism have been dug out, he's said that it was written by someone else, well digging back further into the depths gives us evidence of a very Angry White Man:
whoever actually wrote them, the newsletters I saw all had one thing in common: They were published under a banner containing Paul's name, and the articles ... seem designed to create the impression that they were written by him—and reflected his views. What they reveal are decades worth of obsession with conspiracies, sympathy for the right-wing militia movement, and deeply held bigotry against blacks, Jews, and gays. In short, they suggest that Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing—but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics.
Jennie has found more at The Gob and is linking to [livejournal.com profile] pope_guilty's post on the same article and also to his regular copy/paste Paulbomb. Reading on in the TNR article gives quotes condemning Martin Luther King, supporting the KKK's David Duke, calling for the quarantine of AIDS victims (and perpetuating the saliva transmission myth way after it was proven false) and calling Israel a "national socialist state".

Paul is anti-war. So is Kucinich. Paul is pro-legalisation of marijuana. So is Kucinich. Paul is a racist bigot. Kucinich isn't. If you want an anti-establishment "big money" candidate, back Kucinich or an actual Libertarian (actually, don't do the latter, the US FPTP is even worse than ours). Paul's only main strength is his appeal to "the constitution" as if it's some hallowed document. Even the people that wrote it didn't expect it to be relelvent 50 years afterwards, that it's lasted 300 is testament to their genius. Times changes, the economy changes. Appealing to the "sacred words" of some dead white slaveowners and refusing to accept it'll ever need updating is insanity writ large.

In the primaries, if you've got a vote, vote for the candidate closest to you on the issues. If you genuinely think that candidate is Ron Paul, then, seriously, get a reality check. It isn't.

ETA: Paul has distanced himself from the articles, saying:
“When I was out of Congress and practicing medicine full-time, a newsletter was published under my name that I did not edit. Several writers contributed to the product. For over a decade, I have publicly taken moral responsibility for not paying closer attention to what went out under my name.”
So either he's lying, or he's not competent enough to take responsibility for words written in his name. Either way, he's unfit to be the leader of the free world. Thanks for the head's up Aaron!
My belief in markets isn't really equivocated. Free (and fair) markets require free movement in goods, services, people, whatever. In order for that to happen, border controls are something to be done away with--it's one of the reasons I love the principles behind the EU, if not the bureaucratic monstrosity it's becoming. But today, James linked to an article that I agreed with. Hyberbole, a few missed shots, a little bit of innacuracy, but the point he makes is 100% sound, and applies just as well over here as it does in the US. The problem is the author.

Orson Scott Card, bigot extraordinaire.

A case of stopped clocks, or does his religious fueled fundamentalism have an underlying streak of rationalism in some areas?
The Political Compass has an analysis of the candidates in the US Primaries 2007:
Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel are depicted on the extreme left in an American context, they would simply be mainstream social democrats within the wider political landscape of Europe. Similarly, Hillary Clinton is popularly perceived as a leftist in the United States while in any other western democracy her record is that of a moderate conservative.
and plots the candidates like so on the graph:
Plot of positions of main candidate )
It's telling how close together they all are, and I concur completely with their analysis on it being linked to the electoral system. It also shows why I keep getting Kucinich on all those "who should you vote for" things that are kicking around.

Of course, the US media is even more biased than in the UK, and is almost completely beholden to corporate/advertiser interests; at least in the UK the press is following market positions at the same time as trying to affect that market (if anyone really thinks Murdoch backed Blair for political reasons then they really weren't paying attention). The result of this is that candidates coalesce around a media friendly center, but the media/mainstream is so far to the top/right that anyone else looks extreme. Ah well.

Land of the free, home of the brave. As long as the corporations are happy with you.
Things that make Mat happy part mcmxvii. Via just about everyone (including an email), HBO, the US TV channel that made The Sopranos, Sex and the City, Six Feet Under, Oz, Carnivàle, The Larry Sanders Show, Deadwood, Band of Brothers, Rome... (and snipping out shows I didn't like/haven't seen still leaves an impressive list there) have announced that they will be making [livejournal.com profile] grrm's A Song of Ice and Fire into a very long TV show. It gets better:
The author will co-exec produce the series
and each book will be an entire season, so while they'll need to cut out some detail, they won't need to cut out all the detail. In a different article on the same story I also found:
This comes on the heels of HBO announcing they would do a series based on Preacher
Lemme hear you say an amen. Game of Thrones and Preacher? Yowsers.

And, in US news, Senator Barack Obama:
I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee. For the next several weeks, I am going to talk with people from around the country, listening and learning more about the challenges we face as a nation, the opportunities that lie before us, and the role that a presidential campaign might play in bringing our country together.
I first heard about this guy when Evan linked to a video of his address to the DNC at the time Kerry/Edwards won the nomination, and I was actually impressed. It's not often these days that public speaking and speeches impress me, but this guy did. I've only heard good things since. I'm thinking he won't win the nomination, but will make a great VP candidate behind either Edwards or Clinton.

Right, I'm off into town for the protest I mentioned, see you all on the flip side...
Via a comment at [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking's, it transpires that The Media Can Legally Lie:
In a stunningly narrow interpretation of FCC rules, the Florida Appeals court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a "law, rule, or regulation," it was simply a "policy." Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly.

During their appeal, FOX asserted that there are no written rules against distorting news in the media. They argued that, under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports on public airwaves.
That's Rupert Murdoch's Fox network there, the equivalent of the Times, Sun, News of the World and Sky. Honesty is not a requirement in reporting, merely ratings.

Having picked up a copy of the Evening Standard for the first time today, it looks like Associated share the same policy in their reporting as well.
Via [livejournal.com profile] ginasketch and [livejournal.com profile] oldharrysgame, Andy Hamilton describes how things have changed since Drop the Dead Donkey:
DVD Reviewer: Since the original series, has much in the world of politics changed? Are there more or less targets to ridicule these days?

Andy Hamilton: Nothing changes, it just gets worse. The targets get more ridiculous, but also more serious. In 1990 we thought Ronald Reagan was as stupid as any world leader we could ever get – now he looks like a genius.
He's sort of got a point there. Please America, try to elect a non-idiot next time? Please?
So, I'm doing some Googling [1], and I find this:
The Texas Independence Movement

They appear to be linked to a bunch of conspiraloons, and the website is so tortuously bad I had to boot up IE to figure out what it was trying to do in some places (really badly coded javascript navigation panel), but, y'know, Texan independence?

I prefer the subdivision option myself.


[1] Texan Independence, to see how long Texas had been independent from Mexico before annexation to the US, for a discussion on US immigration and that stupid wall they're building.
matgb: (Webstuff)

Memetastic

Oct. 25th, 2005 04:26 pm
Didn't think of this while I did them all, but a prize for the least spelling/grammar errors should be given out. NB, I don't think any of them have none.

Least blanket assumptions or mass generalisations may be more difficult. Crappy what goth test, but purty pictures ) Oh look, I'm an old fart. Quel surprise eh? Burn the land, boil the sea ) WTF? Ah well, the test is actually not bad, I didn't scream at the grammar or spelling errors, and there are lots of results.I'm the dark brooding one (again) )Meh, not even a pretty picture... If I'm this, how far off the scale are some of my friends? )Methinks some of the creators of these tests are a little too innocent for their own good. The guy in charge. Again. Anyone spot a pattern here? )Is it wrong that I've almost been talked into reading the books? How sweet and innocent; 'the space between the legs'... )Really? Never would have figured that out on my own. Radical come reformist/pupulist? Me? Never )This one isn't bad. and let's be honest, it's not innaccurate is it? Somehow, this doesn't surprise me, and given the previous one, is probably fairly accurate ) Unlike JFK, I don't spend half my life chasing blondes. Brunettes, redheads, bright purple, etc, yes, but not blondes... I refuse to believe it ) Or is that the whole point? Only 42% Green? Oh, wait, US Green party... )Probably close enough, if the Dems have a radical libertarian-left reforming branch. And when, exactly, did you ask me about my politics? Oh, you didn't. So you must know all about them then. You're pretty close about the music though... ) I hate the govt because I like punk music? No, I loath this govt because they're a bunch of authoritarian berderline fascists, I like punk music because I like punk music. The two are only vaguely linked, and there's achance I may like the next govt. Unlikely, but still...

Well, what else is a boy to do when he takes the day off ill? Sort the flat, update the websites, the laundry, some washing up, etc? Go away conscience, I saw a pretty picture...
http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/hoaxes/walken.asp

It isn't to be. So, publicity for the new film, random hoaxers or sinister conspiracy?

Trying to wade through the style authorship guides to figure out how I can fix the wandering righthand boxes; if anyone can find a quick fix form me without dumping the 3 column them I'd appreciate it. I may get around to writing up those reviews I promised at some pointas well. Ah well; took the morning off work exhausted; finished Lost in a Good Book which I recommend and then bimbled in to work.

Not sure I like the randompost thing; no annoying memes yet (fortunately), but the feed is stripping out the lj-cut text, so you get the whole thing even if they were good enough to cut it. So, having watched lots of people join up, I may dump it after less than a day's trial. Meh.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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