Monday, 29 September 2008

Flickr Of The Day

Originally uploaded by JMK aka Sky Dreams Flyer
Spectacular shot of paragliding in the French Alps

Obama Rising

The polls are reflecting a big rise in support for Obama over the last couple of weeks. A combination of the economic meltdown, the Palin interview and the debate are now pushing the numbers up.

On Obama's chances of winning are now up over 80% for the first time.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Debate Reaction

I don't suppose that many other people here in Melbourne were watching the debate - it's AFL Grand Final Day here today.

I was pretty impressed with Obama's coolness today. The Surge tactics-strategy argument was probably over most people's heads. I hoped that Obama would have pushed the issue that the objective of 'The Surge' was political reconciliation which hasn't happened yet, regardless of the recent vote on elections (which kicked the Kirkuk can down the road). Plus the fact that 'The Surge' wasn't the only reason for the drop in violence.

At the end of the day, it wasn't the game-changer that McCain needed.

Now on to important matters! Geelong or Hawthorn?

Friday, 26 September 2008

Flickr Of The Day

Bath Balloons
Originally uploaded by tweeny
I love the drama of the light and colour of this picture. With the people in the foreground it almost looks posed.

Running Scared

The announcement yesterday that John McCain was 'suspending' his campaign to deal with the finance crisis always looked like a stunt.

However, I am beginning to strongly believe that the driving motive for all of this is to cancel the VP debate. The problem isn't that Palin won't answer questions but that they have been unable to get her to shut up. She wants to answer questions but McCain aides usher her away from any contact with the press. She's obviously far more confident in her ability than anyone around her is.

I've heard most of the interview with Katie Couric - what on earth was she talking about? No wonder McCain wants to reschedule his first debate in place of the VP's.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Sarah Palin's Bio

Here is a must-read biography of Sarah Palin, from Dickipedia.

In 1984, Palin won the Miss Wasilla Pageant, a feat that sounds a lot more impressive than it is unless you’ve ever met a girl from Wasilla, few of whom have either a full set of teeth or a vacant womb. She then finished runner up in the Miss Alaska pageant, a feat that sounds a lot more impressive than it is considering the state is nearly 75% male.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Obama's Rebound

It's been pretty depressing reading of the polls over the last couple of weeks and the Palin-induced insanity that seems to have taken place.

Now with the economic situation in the forefront and Palin still saying 'Thanks But No Thanks' to the Bridge to Nowhere, it looks like the shine is wearing off.

I was expecting a slow climb back up the polls for Obama, but today there's been a big bounce back into credit on

Here's a graph of the last couple of months of the stats.

A Plague of deer

Two fatal crashes on Norfolk roads in a few days due to deer?

I drove on these roads for twenty years and never saw a deer. Mind you, a friend of my brother has had two accidents with deer in the past few years on the road between Norwich and Cromer. He was travelling home late at night after shift work so I imagine that the time of day or night is a big factor.

I left ten years ago and I don't recall any stories of fatal crashes with deer when I was there. Are there more deer about now? You wouldn't think so with the reduction in habitat over the last 20-30 years.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Flickr Of The Day

Misty Pikes
Originally uploaded by Canon-Girl
One of my favourite places - Elterwater and a view of the Langdale Pikes.

The Iraq Situation

Iraq appears to have disappeared off the radar for the moment with the Sarah Palin story dominating the news cycle. However, the situation there reminds me of that of Yugoslavia in the last days of president Tito.

There was a country basically at peace since the Second World War but in essence a simmering cauldron of ethnic tension held down by the military power of the Tito government. On Tito's death, the nationalistic Slobodan Milosovic rose to power and the lid came off. How similar is Iraq, with the US military providing the 'lid' in this case, but the underlying ethnic, or in this case, religious tensions still existing?

Yes, the 'Surge' was part of the success in reducing the level of violence in Iraq. Just as important though, I believe, were the decision by the Sunni tribes to join the fight against Al Qaeda - The Awakening, and the decision by Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army to observe a ceasefire and the ethnic cleansing and subsequent walling off of various Baghdad districts.

Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, doesn't seem inclined to integrate the Sunni leaders into the country's government. Indeed, the opposite appears to be happening and he is making a grab for power and excluding them. The status of oil-rich Kirkuk is also a potential flashpoint between the Iraqi government and the Kurds, who to all intents and purposes are self-governing.

All in all then, the underlying tensions in Iraq are still there and until there are moves by the Iraqi government to include the Sunnis and Kurds in power, the Yugoslavia scenario is still a possible outcome.

John McCain's Soul

JohnMcCain's campaign has shown that the image he has been calculating, and perhaps earned, over the last ten years has been thrown away in favour of the desire to win at all costs.

David Ignatius has an excellent column in the Washington Post this week on how McCain has made the Faustian bargain of selling his soul to win the election. Two key themes stand out -his military training and code:

In the military culture that shaped John McCain, there is no more important responsibility than the promotion boards that select the right officers for top positions of command. It's a sacred trust in McCain's world, because people's lives are at stake.

McCain wrote in his memoir of the officer's responsibility for those who serve under him: "He does not risk their lives and welfare for his sake, but only to answer the shared duty they are called to answer."

and the sacrifice of his principles:

In May 2006, after McCain had courted the Rev. Jerry Falwell in an effort to win conservative support, I asked him if he was bending his principles for the sake of winning. "I don't want it that badly," McCain answered. "I will continue to do what is right. . . . If that means I can't get the Republican nomination, fine. I've had a happy life. The worst thing I can do is sell my soul to the devil."

He was right.

This is becoming more and more apparent to everyone as the media finally start to question the lies.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Flickr Of The Day

Northern Exposure
Originally uploaded by norjam8
I'm currently reading one of Steve Hamilton's books set in Paradise, Michigan.

It's a well-written series of books and describes the solitary beauty of the area. In this picture, I can see what he means.

Don't Look Now

I've been following the statistics of since the start of the race and have been keeping a daily note on Obama's electoral chances. This last week or two has been pretty depressing. How can so many people be taken in by a campaign like this.

But there are signs that the tide might be turning. There was the hilarious session of John McCain on 'The View' where he probably faced the toughest questions that he has had put to him yet. The MSM seems to be waking up. Obama's fundraising machine just keeps carrying on.

So while it's looking pretty bleak in the polls, I think we'll be seeing a big upswing soon.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Flickr Of The Day

Wasilla City Hall
Originally uploaded by djcn0te
Where political careers are forged!

Friday, 5 September 2008

Flickr Of The Day

Originally uploaded by 8lits
Montbenoît, Doubs, France. A beautiful part of the world, right by the Swiss border. The local Compte cheese is to die for.

Is Palin Prepared for Office?

Steve Benen highlights in Washington Monthly that Tom Brokaw of NBC pushed back at the criticism that the GOP are dishing out at the MSM. 

Brokaw, to his credit, set the record straight: "With all due respect, and said this earlier, I think that issue has not been raised at the highest levels. I think there have been many more concerns about foreign policy experience, for example, about some of her other views, if she's going to appeal to the Clinton voters. She is after all, anti-abortion, not for choice. There are some questions about her real beliefs -- creationism vs. evolution -- and whether or not being the governor of a state like Alaska, with 600,000 people, and a budget that is underwritten by the oil companies, prepares her for stepping into the Oval Office."

I agree with all of that except.....

I would have thought that having a budget underwritten (or perhaps that should be written) by the oil companies was a perfect preparation for the White House.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

It's Official

Foreign policy experience can be gained by standing in the right place!

MCCAIN: Sure. And one of the key elements of America’s national security requirements are energy. She understands the energy issues better than anybody I know in Washington, D.C., and she understands.

Alaska is right next to Russia. She understands that. Look, Sen. Obama’s never visited south of our border. I mean, please.

From Steve Doocey to John McCain. Who'd have believed it.

The National Enquirer is Hard At Work

I see that everybody's favourite supermarket magazine is hard at work in Alaska. (H/T TPM)

Things Are Looking Up For Obama

538's stats are showing that the mood has swung in Obama's direction since the Democratic convention and Sarah Palin's selection.  We'll have to see if there's much of a swing back in the other direction after the Republican Convention, though I can't see it myself.

Flickr Of The Day

Untitled united
Originally uploaded by laura e
Reflections of the 2008 Colorado Balloon Classic

McCain Hires the 2000 South Carolina Smear Merchant

It's a sign of McCain's desperation that he has hired Tucker Eskew, one of W's operatives in South Carolina during the 2000 campaign.

Eskew’s talent notwithstanding, he was loathed by McCain’s 2000 campaign team. When the media first reported push-poll phone calls from Voter/Consumer Research, a company hired by he Bush campaign, asking South Carolinians if they knew about McCain’s role in the S&L crisis and his scandal as a member of the Keating Five, it was Eskew -- Bush’s South Carolina spokesman – who acknowledged, and defended, the calls.
I read today in White House Watch that Eskew is taking a major role in Palin's team.
Tucker Eskew, another senior Bush White House communications aide, is serving as senior counselor to Palin's operation.
I understand that McCain and his wife both despise those who were responsible for the smears of 2000. It's a sign of how far McCain will go for the presidency and how much integrity he will shed. 

Monday, 1 September 2008

Flickr Of The Day

LEAL 304
Originally uploaded by Carlos Ros
What a great shot, or more accurately, sequence of shots, of a plane landing at Alicante, Spain.

Now We Know What The Domestic Spying Without Warrants Was For

I've just read the posts here and here from Glenn Greenwald of house searches and arrest by full-blown SWAT teams on potential protesters at the Republican Convention.

I can't believe that this hasn't been picked up anywhere else. As Glenn says himself

After all, if you don't want the FBI spying on you, or the Police surrounding and then invading your home with rifles and seizing your computers, there's a very simple solution: don't protest the Government. Just sit quietly in your house and mind your own business. That way, the Government will have no reason to monitor what you say and feel the need to intimidate you by invading your home. Anyone who decides to protest -- especially with something as unruly and disrespectful as an unauthorized street march -- gets what they deserve.

Isn't it that mentality which very clearly is the cause of virtually everyone turning away as these police raids escalate against citizens -- including lawyers, journalists and activists -- who have broken no laws and whose only crime is that they intend vocally to protest what the Government is doing? Add to that the fact that many good establishment liberals are embarrassed by leftist protesters of this sort and wish that they would remain invisible, and there arises a widespread consensus that these Government attacks are perfectly tolerable if not desirable.

During the Olympics just weeks ago, there was endless hand-wringing over the efforts by the Chinese Government to squelch dissent and incarcerate protesters. On August 21, The Washington Post fretted:

Six Americans detained by police this week could be held for 10 days, according to Chinese authorities, who appear to be intensifying their efforts to shut down any public demonstrations during the final days of the Olympic Games. . . .

Chinese Olympic officials announced last month that Beijing would set up zones where people could protest during the Games, as long as they had received permission. None of the 77 applications submitted was approved, however, and several other would-be protesters were stopped from even applying.

This is particularly troubling.

We are suffering a preemptive video arrest. For those that don't know, I-Witness Video was remarkably successful in exposing police misconduct and outright perjury by police during the 2004 RNC. Out of 1800 arrests, at least 400 were overturned based solely on video evidence which contradicted sworn statements which were fabricated by police officers. It seems that the house arrest we are now under and the possible threat of the seizure of our computers and video cameras is a result of the 2004 success.
The 'Land Of The Free' indeed. This is why the next election is so important.

Quote Of The Day

Not only is President Bush keeping atop the reports of Tropical Storm Gustav, but the White House press office is keeping atop efforts to report that he is keeping atop the reports.

James Gerstenzang blogs for the LA Times (H/T Dan Froomkin)

Flickr Of The Day

Saturday Night, New Orleans. A deserted French Quarter ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Gustav on Monday.


TPM has been following the 'Troopergate' story for a long time before the vice-presidential selection. A good summary is here.
Just yesterday, Monegan gave an interview to the Washington Post in which he said that not only Palin's aides, but Palin's husband and Palin herself had repeatedly raised the Wooten issue with him and pressured him to fire him. And now he says he has emails that Palin sent him about the matter. (In an interesting sidelight, that may end up telling us a lot, Monegan says no one from the McCain campaign ever contacted him in the vetting process.)
The vetting, or lack of it, is turning into another major story.

Sarah Palin's First 'Misspeak'

So, she said 'Thanks, but no thanks' to the 'Bridge To Nowhere' did she?

According to the Alaskan Press that's not quite how it happened.

Check out these entries from the Ketchikan Daily News:

“People across the nation struggle with the idea of building a bridge because they’ve been under these misperceptions about the bridge and the purpose,’ said Palin, who described the link as the Ketchikan area’s potential for expansion and growth.

Palin said Alaska’s congressional delegation worked hard to obtain funding for the bridge and that she ‘would not stand in the way of the progress toward that bridge’.

‘We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that’s so negative,’ Palin said.”
Ketchikan Daily News 9-28-06

Mudflats is probably going to me the most read Alaskan for the next couple of months.