US Politics

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."

(Source)

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.

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.

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!

MonthlyCallForLife.com

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:

Stephen Colbert and Dubya

This is worth a look, Stephen Colbert talking at the White House Correspondents' dinner

I give people the truth unfiltered by rational argument...

I believe that the government that governs best is the government that governs least.. and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq

Reality has a well known liberal bias...

Think about it! I haven't!

Bush has to sit there and he gets absolutely rinsed... I'm amazed that in this day and age the spin doctors allowed this. It's absolutely heartwarming that it can still happen. Very funny.

He also starts to attack the whitehouse correspondants (see about 10 minutes in)

I'd like to welcome you to Washington DC, the chocolate city with a Marshmallow centre...

Lots of people are looking quite annoyed but trying to appear to be in good humour, several are looking genuinely amused. The majority of people in the room seem to be really enjoying it - the speech gets a bit weak when it gets to the 'press secretary' section.

Dubya can't take it?

No Bush The George 'dubya' Bush re-election website has been blocked to people outside the USA.

This is perplexing given the global importance of the US election. Sure, people outside the US can't vote, but the eventual winner will have to be able to do business abroad. Indeed, some US voters will currently be out of the country and returning before polling day.

When I view the site, I see this:

Access Denied

You don't have permission to access "http://www.georgewbush.com/" on this server.

An up to the minute report on the site availability is here.

Are they worried that people outside the US borders might notice problems in their record? Could it be that the campaign simply can't afford to run a real webserver? ... or are they trying to encourage people to use the country specific sites like http://www.georgewbush.co.uk/?

One can use the Google Cache, or perhaps use the .org site (with its 'dead letter' mailbox). This is reasonably easy to get around by using a US based proxy server. This link takes you to the page through a web based server (it adds some adverts to the page)

As people have said on Slashdot:

This action actually speaks volumes about the man's foreign policy and his understanding of the need to win the hearts and mind of non-USians.

and..

While I agree that there is nothing "wrong" with this (other than the collateral overseas abenstee voter damage), it does point out something about this presidents beliefs:

What the rest of the world thinks does not matter.

The John Kerry site and blog is still available to all. Quite rightly as what happens in the white house is of interest to the whole planet.

In other news, 36 newspapers which backed Bush in the 2000 election now back Kerry, and a further 9 have stopped backing Bush without switching to Kerry. Interestingly, the Bush Blog doesn't seem to allow comments, unlike the Kerry blog.

David Brin Speaks about US Politics

David Brin, author of the uplift books, has posted a 'political salvo' It's a pretty balanced piece which looks at the successes and failures of recent years of US intervention, both in the current and in the previous administrations.

He has a nice series of articles there, including Honouring the Losing Majority and Militant Moderation, there are also some short pieces such as Left and Right Dogmas (my own views are part 'left' and part 'right', so this last piece makes a great deal of sense to me).

The suggestion in Honouring the Losing Majority is a particularly excellent one.

Bush and Kerry Supporters

Slashdot is running a politics site at the moment, and they've just linked to an article which compares the world view of Bush and Kerry supporters. Slashdot says: "A report by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland correlates voters' perceptions of world attitudes and events with their choice in candidates. It's an interesting read, and shows voters supporting Kerry as being more in tune with the events and world attitudes surrounding the war in Iraq."

The first post said, rather to the point:

" We need an article to tell us this?

Seriously, after reading it, I was quite happy that someone put out some evidence for what I've observed. If I had a dollar for every time I tried to tell someone that Iraq really didnt have nukes.... "