More Saturday Night Live

The Saturday Night Live spoof of the VP debate is online. Tina Fey does not have to do much spoofing, Palin spoofs herself. I had to grin at the 'Due the historically low expectations....'

In the UK, 'The News Quiz' has a nice take on Sarah Palin. Every time she is mentioned on the show we get a burst of 'Halleluia!' from Handel's Messiah - It's Sandi Toksvig thanking the Gods of Comedy for such a rich source of new comedic material.

Toksvig now finds herself "terribly grateful to Sarah Palin. For comedy writers, she’s just heaven."


Sarah Palin Interview

Sarah Palin is being spoofed very successfully on Saturday Night Live in the USA. The interview mentions Russia, and this was spoofed in the New Yorker recently.

Another sketch has Clinton (Hillary) and Palin jointly address the nation.

'I can see Russia from my house!'

On the basis of these sketches, it looks like SNL have a running gag whereby 'The Bush Doctrine' is an 'adult movie'. This phrase did stump the real Sarah Palin... at least until it was defined for her.

Threat to Obama?

Several have been arrested following an alleged assassination plot on Barack Obama. I find it amazing that someone planning to assassinate a US Presidential candidate would precede that by loading their car with weaponry and then going drink-driving in the early hours of the morning. Surely, surely, this might have seemed to be 'not according to plan'.

Barack Obama might view this as a positive, when they want to kill you, you're probably doing it right.

Obama has moved away from his Bob the Builder platform (and nominated Biden, known for plagiarising Kinnock, of all people).

John McCain meanwhile continues to promote his 'home fry oven chips' message. Looking at the election from this side of the water, John McCain is looking quite preferable to the current incumbent, and Obama has an energy about him which is refreshing. The big problem the democrats have now is the Clintons - if Hillary gives anything less than her full-throated support to Obama, she is playing right into John McCain's hands, and the democrats won't forgive that. Ever. The trouble with the nomination process in the US is that it can go negative; this is a massive own goal when the election proper comes along.

The Barack Obama campaign is seeking to highlight that John McCain is essentially an extension of George Bush's term, and those associated with McCain are saying (in a deniable way) that Obama is a muslim (which they're trusting equates with terror in their swing voters - despite the references at urbanlegends, 38% visiting believe he's a 'stealth muslim' - tragic on many levels). At the same time the official campaign is trying to imply that Obama likening himself to Jesus.

I tend to find 'attack ads' are offputting, they tend to make me think the campaign producing them has nothing to say themselves. They strike of desperation. Unfortunately - they often work.

Recently, both Barack Obama and John McCain appeared on a show answering questions which seemed to have a 'christian-right' type of slant. They were asked about marriage, abortion and some other issues. John McCain responded as expected for the republican candidate. Obama handled himself well, but saying what he personally believed (e.g. marriage is between a man and woman) but going on to say that historically these matters have been settled at state level, and by saying that he was pro-choice, but not pro-abortion as he didn't believe that women took these matters lightly. I'd much rather see the US president able to see different sides of an argument - so this was quite hopeful.

Similarly, I've seen John McCain (prior to his candidacy) equit himself well in interviews with regard to complexities - so this could be quite hopeful. The trouble with the campaign is that simple messages play much better in the soundbites that passes for journalism.

Of the two, I'd rather see Barack Obama win the presidency. However, compared to Bush, John McCain is looking good too. Compared to Bush/Kerry and Bush/Gore - there's a lot to be gained here for the USA as a whole if both sides can rein in the attack ads and actually debate the issues, not just the soundbites. I can't see it happening. I'd love a modern day presidential campaign to resemble the Santos/Vinick debates!

Update: Reaction to Hillary Clinton's convention speech.

Voter Form - Fail!

Today I received my electoral registration form. As usual, no changes - so very easy. However, I did not one logical fallacy on the form.

We are supposed to register everyone at the address on the 15th October - but in order to save the costs of a reminder message, they would like people to do this by the 15th September. This is a physical impossibility if one is striving for accuracy!

As no changes are expected, I took advantage of the 'as far as I am aware' clause and registered by phone (you dial a number, and key an ID and pin code, printed on the form).

Clinton's 'Elitism versus Everyman'

I was about to post on the topic of Clinton talking about making a virtue of ignoring expert advice, but just as I sit down to gather my sources, I find it's been done.

The tragedy is that Hillary Clinton understands perfectly well that this is a stupid policy. (If you actually wanted to save people $40 over the course of the summer, you would just give them $40.) She is embracing it anyway. Her campaign is pushing it as a purely symbolic gesture, attempting to take the side of “real people” against elitist snobs with all of their “education” and “expertise” and Ivy-League degrees.

I personally don't understand when politicians seek to distance themselves from expert opinion. Surely a politician, and certainly the so-called 'leader of the free world' should be able to say 'this may seem a good idea, but it's actually a bit of a con, and these guys will explain why'. I want a president who will act on an evidence base.

I don't understand why people want to vote for a president who is homely, who will tell them whatever they think they want to hear. I want to see a president who is the smartest guy (or gal) in the room, and part of being smart is knowing when you're out of your field and recognising when other people have expertise - be that in matters scientific, military, economic, whatever.

It's not about snobbery, it's about being fit to hold that office.

If I could vote, I wouldn't be casting that vote for Clinton right now. Not because she's trying to be populist, but because she's seeking to cast expertise on the fire of her electoral success.

She may as well be sitting in a room reading about pet goats.

Referring to this idea, originally from McCain, Obama makes a considered response. (via Inverse Square)

Now, that's a man who has listened to advice, thought about it and made a sensible (if on the face of it, unpopular, call)

He's the only guy who seems presidential in this race.

Electoral Reform in the UK

Democracy isn't Deskbound Make Votes Count has re-branded their campaign, and produced an action plan, which I reproduce below:

Continue on to the MVC WebsiteView the Campaign Launch Photos

6 Things you can do
1. Petition the Prime Minister. Sign our petition to Gordon Brown

2. Pledge to a Consultation. Sign the pledge and show people's willingness to be consulted

3. Write to your MP. Ask them to forward your comments to the Minister

4. Contact your nearest PR Politican. Enlist the support of your MEPs/AMs/MSPs

5. Have your say: Governance of Britain. Tell the Ministry of Justice that voting systems matter

6. Donate to the Campaign. Help us maximise what we can achieve

If you would like to post this to your website, see the previous post for the code.

Old School Textbooks

In the states they have elections for people to run the school boards. In Oklahoma the Republican candidate has suggested a use for old school text books. Rather than ship them to disadvantaged areas in Africa, South America or Asia, if elected, he said he would put thick used textbooks under every desk for students to use in self-defense.

He has observed the increase in school violence, and his solution is that students use books as body armour. Of course, he has missed the point that money could be saved by actually using the thick text books for reading...

As Pharyngula says:

He has a video of himself firing an arsenal at various books. It's brilliant: he's going to appeal to all the gun-nut voters, all the voters who hate books, and every idiot in Oklahoma. That's a big slice of the population.

One flaw: true Republican patriots might wonder why he isn't shipping all his excess bullet-stopping books to Iraq to protect our troops.

My first thought was 'Is it April already?' - this is simply insane. It is also very, very funny.

Oh, and in the video we learn that a thick calculus book isn't quite enough to stop a shot from an AK47.

Lieberman and Lamont

American Politics. It holds an interest for me, it's a strange and exotic animal with all kinds of peculiar ways. A bit like a platypus.

However, as with a platypus I don't watch it's every move. When it does something interesting, I perk up a bit and say things like 'Look at that platypus'. I might even spend some time watching it to try and predict what the platypus might do next, or research into how the platypus got where it is now.

Occasionally the platypus does something interesting and I miss it, and nobody around me seems to have seen it either.

It's like that with Lieberman and Lamont.

Lieberman ran for Vice President a few years back. He lost (to Bush(!)) and then disappeared off the radar as far as I was concerned.

In the past week his name has popped up all over the place as he's being trounced by a guy called Lamont in some race (I think the race to become a democratic senatorial candidate). I get the sense that there is some Schadenfreude in the air, but as I'm coming in on the end of it, everything I can find is telling me about what the platypus is doing now, not what it did to get here....

So my questions are these:

  1. Why is Lieberman being trounced?
  2. Who is Lamont
  3. Why is everyone seemingly so pleased to see Lieberman trounced?

Any detail/links that could be supplied would be gratefully received.

Natwest Three

The Lib Dems have started a campaign about the US/UK lopsided extradition treaty. Essentially the US can extradite a UK citizen without presenting probable cause. For the innocent, this can mean a multiple year trial (as well as expensive defence) in the US. In the case of the Natwest Three, as I understand it the alleged crime would have taken place in the UK, by UK citizens against UK interests. The employers (who are the alleged victims) have not wished to press any charges. As there is a loose connection to Enron, the US want to press charges but have not presented a probable cause to the UK. If the UK want to extradite a US citizen then the same arrangements do not apply. A special relationship indeed.

This case has been on the slow burn for some time now, the esteemed Boris wrote about it back in 2004, but it's in the past few days that it has come to the fore of public awareness.

This treaty was originally presented as a bill which would aide the extradition of terror suspects (also without probable cause, but in these days the concept of evidence seems secondary when we have terror suspects) - and yet it's scope is wider than was originally spun. This is a good case in point why legislation should be tightly drawn and why 'trust us' isn't enough.

In domestic law, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill is such a piece of legislation. As is the ID card bill. There are also domestic laws designed to punish contain terror 'suspects' - not convicts - which could suffer the same problem.

The bottom line here is this: why should any UK citizen be deported without a prima facae case being made by the USA?

I suppose that this is the special part of the special relationship that we keep hearing about?

Here are the other articles which Boris wrote, (I knew the Boris Plugin for Firefox would be handy!) from May 2005 and July 3rd 2006. This isn't the only case out there, there are others. My issue is not that I think there's no case to answer, I don't have anything like the information needed to make a judgement - and have no opinion on the individual cases.

My problem with all this is that these extraditions are being made to a foreign power without evidence being presented to support the allegation that there is a case to answer. There is a new business setting up to insure executives against the possibility of extradition to the US.

The fact that the treaty is not reciprocal adds insult to injury, but it isn't the main issue - if the treaty were reciprocal it would not make it right.

In parliament, the Lords have voted for a suspension until it is reciprocal, and there has been a debate in the commons - and a protest vote passed at 246 to 4. Not that this is likely to change anything.

Tony Blair has defended the treaty saying that the UK and America have "roughly analogous" grounds for extradition.

It adds a twist to the story that a potential witness has been discovered dead - that should keep people speculating wildly.

Update: Boris has posted an extract from the westminster debate.

Anti-abortion article cites 'The Onion'

'The Onion' is a satirical online magazine, and one anti-abortionist tries to argue their case by citing it. This immediately undermines their case.... unless, of course, they're really pro-abortion and are playing a cunning double bluff. Here's the Onion article, and here's the citing article.

The article asks the reader to 'pass it on', and so I'm doing just that.

Here are some quotes from a pro-abortion person, Miss Caroline Weber, who wrote an article at The Onion online magazine.

The Onion Article

When referring to the killing of her child she said:

"I am totally psyched for this abortion!"

"Those pro-life activists made it pretty clear that, unlike me, they actually think abortion is bad and to be avoided. Are they nuts? Abortion is the best!"

"It wasn't until now that I was lucky enough to be pregnant with a child I had no means to support."

"I just know it's going to be the best non-anesthetized invasive uterine surgery ever!"

Who does Miss Weber blame her abortion on? The pro-life movement.

"The funny thing is, I actually have the pro-life movement to thank for this opportunity."

It's our fault? She says:

"If my HMO wouldn't have bowed to their pressure not to cover oral contraceptives, I never would've gotten pregnant in the first place."

Sorry ma'am, if you hadn't had sex you wouldn't have gotten pregnant, it's not the HMO's fault for not supporting your promiscuity while not married.

To sum it up, Miss Weber said:

"I realize there are people who will criticize me, calling me selfish and immature because I took "the easy way out." I realize there are those who will condemn me to hell for what I'm about to do. Well, I don't care what they say: It's worth it for all the fun and laughs I'm going to have at the clinic. So listen up, world: I'm pro-abortion... and I love it! See you at my post-abortion party, everybody!"

Miss Weber, you have killed your child, which you admit is a baby/human being, intentionally. That does make you an admitted murderer. I'm not going to "condemn you to hell", I'm going to pray for your forgiveness and for the suffering which you will endure when you realize what you have done. Every baby you see from that moment on is going to wake you up to the realization that you killed your child.

Speak out against abortion. Don't just complain about it. Join the Monthly Call for Life at MonthlyCallForLife.com. We call, email and/or march to let our representatives know that we will not stop until they stop the killing of innocent human beings!


United we stand - Divided they die - Pass it on

In the followup article he tries to spin it, being taken in by someone who's stringing him along., in the comments to this post there's a few choice remarks:

All you did was make an obvious attempt at Damage Control through some really lame spin doctoring. The best you can do now is apologize to your readers for your obtuseness and get on with new business.

My antennae are twitching though.... these posts are from so far off that they could well be satire in their own right. Surely nobody could read 'The Onion' and treat it as real?

.... could they?

Update: This guy is getting linked to from all over the net! Maybe that was his cunning plan...? Examples of referencing sites: