Friday, April 30, 2010

On The Money.

This is why I love Bill Maher.

He seems to hit the nail on the head every single time.

Beck's defense of his conspiracy theories: "Fox couldn't allow me to say things that were wrong".

This has got to be my favourite Glenn Beck rant.

I am not the smartest guy in the room.


Who owns this network? Rupert Murdoch.


You think he's going to let a guy at five o'clock say a bunch of stuff, put this together, it's completely wrong, and stay on the network?
Yes, as long as there are enough people stupid enough to watch, that is exactly what Rupert Murdoch is going to do. Roger Ailes cares about the message, Rupert Murdoch is driven by profit. Nothing else. If people would pay to watch ants wrestling, that's what he would give them.
Fox couldn't allow me to say things that are wrong.
The funniest thing Glenn Beck has ever, ever said. That's more delusional than Palin's "death panels" and Obama's Kenyan birth certificate.

Duncan Hunter: Yes, I would deport US citizens.

I find this mind numbingly dumb:

“Would you support deportation of natural born American citizens that are the children of illegal aliens?” a man in the audience asked.

“I would have to, yes,” Hunter said.

“You can look and say, ‘You’re a mean guy. That’s a mean thing to do. That’s not a humanitarian thing to do.’ We simply cannot afford what we’re doing right now.
Deport them to where? They are American citizens because they were born on American soil.

The 14th Amendment states “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” are automatically US citizens with all the rights which that implies.

Although, to be fair, I see that this guy is now trying to back off from these insane remarks.

Hunter's spokesman Joe Kasper said Thursday that the congressman's position is that U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants should stay with their parents unless there is a legal guardian who could take care of them.

"It was a short answer to a complex issue," Kasper said. "His terms have been very specific on this topic and it wasn't reflected in the answer."

Or he was playing to the crowd by talking this kind of nonsense.

How Mrs Duffy refused to dance to anti-Brown tune played by ‘The Sun’.

I spent the other day feeling very sorry for Gillian Duffy, the Rochdale pensioner whom Gordon Brown described as "a sort of bigoted woman".

She went out for a loaf of bread, got into a chat with Gordon Brown, and spent the next few days under siege.

About 50 newspaper and broadcast journalists, photographers and camera crews spent the rest of the afternoon and evening camped outside Mrs Duffy's white PVC front door, hoping that she would come out to speak to them.
But The Sun, sensing another way to attack Brown and aid Cameron were round the back door of the property waving their chequebook.

And, God bless Gillian Duffy, she refused their life changing sums of money because they wanted her to say thing which she did not believe.
There was speculation yesterday that The Sun had offered Mrs Duffy £50,000, or even £75,000 for her story. It is more probable that The Sun's offer was in the range of £25,000 to £30,000 – which must still have sounded like riches to a pensioner who has worked all her life on relatively modest wages. But Mrs Duffy turned it down. Reputedly, The Sun, which has been campaigning aggressively since last October for a Conservative victory, wanted her to attack Gordon Brown in unrestrained language and declare her support for David Cameron but, after a lifetime's allegiance to the Labour Party, she would not do it.
Even after being called "a bigot" by a Prime Minister she had previously supported, this lady refused to accept money from The Sun because she did not believe in the message which they wanted her to preach.

It's not a day that she will ever forget. But she can hold her head up high that she ended up at the centre of a fuss which she could never have foreseen, but that she came out of it without being in any way corrupted.

Click here for full article.

Cameron and Clegg are hailed the winners of final leaders’ debate.

In the last debate it seemed to me that they all resorted to type.

Cameron even cited the same things which William Hague cited when he faced Tony Blair all those years ago and promised not to join the Euro and to "keep the pound". He then, once again, promised to go after benefit cheats, sounding like a typical Thatcher Tory.

Brown made the argument that the recovery needed to be supported and that Cameron's plans to reduce the deficit immediately could lead to a double dip recession.

Clegg argued that it was indecent that the top 20% of earners in this country paid a lower percentage of their income in taxation than the bottom 20%.

And Cameron slithered around when answering why he has decided to give tax breaks - through the inheritance tax - to the richest three percent of the country. As Clegg pointed out, Cameron came out with "the most creative justification I have ever heard for giving tax breaks to double millionaires." Brown countered that Cameron was proposing helping double millionaires in this way whilst also promising to cut child tax credits.

And yet I read in this morning's paper that people think that Cameron won this debate.

A ComRes survey for ITV News found that the Tory leader was seen as the winner by 35 per cent, with Mr Clegg on 33 per cent and Mr Brown on 26 per cent.
I don't know what measurement people are using to make Cameron the winner, unless refusing to answer difficult questions is, in itself, some sort of skill.

He simply refused to answer the question about why he was so keen to give inheritance tax breaks to multimillionaires whilst cutting child benefit. Indeed, he waffled on about protecting the middle class instead of answering the question he had been asked.

But, leaving aside who won or didn't win this debate, even Brown appears to have accepted that, as far as the Labour party is concerned, this election is all over.
Mr Brown appeared to concede that he was heading for defeat in next Thursday's election. "I know if things stay as they are David Cameron, perhaps supported by Nick Clegg, will be in office," he said.
I found Cameron as unconvincing as I always find him. He's a snake oil salesman, saying what he thinks you want to hear and simply avoiding answering any questions which make him uncomfortable.

The only comfort I take out of all of this is that Clegg might just have done well enough to deny Cameron a large majority. At these times we should be thankful for small mercies.

Mervyn King implied yesterday that whoever wins this election is being handed a poisoned chalice:
"I saw the Governor of the Bank of England last week when I was in London and he told me whoever wins this election will be out of power for a whole generation because of how tough the fiscal austerity will have to be."
I have said before that I think it would do Labour good to lose this election. The Tories were severely punished - and took more than a decade to recover - when Major won an election which he should have lost against Neil Kinnock.

That particular chapter of history is not going to repeat itself here.

Click here for full article.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Karl Rove's Idiocy.

From Karl Rove's Wall Street Journal column today:

Before his health-care bill passed, Mr. Obama sent a tough letter to health-insurance CEOs and then castigated them 22 times in a follow-up prime-time televised speech.

This is behavior worthy of a Third World dictator - not the head of a vibrant democracy.
The picture above shows what happens when an actual dictator is in power.

Mugabe must have sent that man some bloody letter for it to do that to him.

Shapiro Calls Emanuel "a Kapo".

Ben Shapiro has issued what he calls "an open letter to American Jews" in which he states:

American Jews, I have one request of you: please pull your heads out of your posteriors.

I mean that in all sincerity. Your continued support for Democrats and an administration that is openly anti-Semitic is a disgrace. Your embrace of a party that seeks to hamstring Israel in the name of a wholly fictitious Middle East peace process is contemptible. Your loyalty to a president who consistently sides with Palestinian and Iranian mass murder-supporters is disgusting.

Your backing of a man who has spent his life surrounding himself with the worst anti-Semites America has to offer -- Jeremiah Wright, Rashid Khalidi (former Palestinian terrorist spokesman), Louis Farrakhan ("I don't like the way [Jews] leech on us"), Samantha Power, Robert Malley, to name a few -- is nothing short of reprehensible. Rahm Emanuel's presence in the Obama cabinet doesn't ameliorate Obama's anti-Semitism -- it just provides it convenient cover. Al Sharpton wrongly called Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell "house negroes"; Emanuel is a kapo.

Two things stand out here. (1) He thinks the peace process is "wholly fictitious" and (2) he calls Emanual "a kapo"; in other words, Emanuel is the equivalent of a prisoner who worked inside the Nazi concentration camps.

From Wikipedia:
Kapos received more privileges than normal prisoners, towards whom they were often brutal. They were often convicts who were offered this work in exchange for a reduced sentence or parole.
For the rest of his letter he spends all of his time telling American Jews that they need to support the Tea Party movement.

It's an astonishing diatribe; angry, insulting and unhinged. Which I suppose is the best description of the Tea Party movement that one could muster.

Click here for full letter.

General election 2010: the people's election posters.

The Guardian are running a collection of the best general election posters made up by members of the public. This is my personal favourite. It's worth having a look at the rest.

The guy who created it had this to say:

'Be wary of becoming too occupied with voting someone out. You may lose sight of what you're letting in'
I happen to think that those are very wise words.

I know he is not Brown and that, for many people, that is enough, but I do think people should ask, what exactly is it that Cameron plans to do?

Charlie Crist to leave Republicans and run for US Senate as independent.

Republican governor Charlie Crist has announced that he will run for the Senate as an independent, as further proof that they Tea Party movement are dragging the Republican party so far to the right, that even it's former darlings like Crist, simply no longer pass their litmus test.

Crist's break with his party is further evidence of a sharp swing to the right among conservative activists threatening other prominent Republicans, such as the party's former presidential candidate, John McCain, who is fighting an uphill struggle to win re-election as a senator in Arizona.

For many months, Crist was the front-runner to win the Republican nomination for senator, but has fallen behind the former speaker in the state legislature, Marco Rubio, whose hard right positions won the backing of Tea Party organisations and prominent party figures, such as the former vice president, Dick Cheney.

Although Crist is conservative on many issues – supporting gun rights and capital punishment, while opposing abortion and gay marriage – he is seen as too liberal by some Republicans and Tea Party supporters because of his support for the Obama administration's $787bn economic recovery package and for urging his party to reach out to minorities.

Many Tea Party supporters see co-operation with the Democrats and an attempt at consensus politics as selling out the movement's dogma of ever smaller government.

Recent polls give Rubio, who for all his statements about getting the government out of peoples lives does back detention without trial and torture at Guantanamo Bay, twice the support of Crist.

Rubio describes himself as the "true conservative" in the Florida race and was recently characterised in the New York Times as the potentially "the first senator from the Tea Party".

It will be fascinating to see what happens here when the rest of the public get to vote on whether or not to accept Crist or Rubio. We all know that the Tea Party movement favours such a strict right wing doctrine, but what happens when this choice is put to the rest of the state?

I always thought that the Republican party would face a terrible choice after McCain lost to Obama, in many ways similar to the choices of the Labour party after Thatcher's election here in the UK.

The Labour party spent years arguing that they weren't left wing enough, as if that was the reason the public rejected them. So it is with the Tea party movement, who are insisting that McCain lost to Obama because he was too like the Democrats.
"There are people who believe the way to be more successful as Republicans is to be more like Democrats. And the people who believe we need to be more like Democrats will vote for Charlie Crist," Rubio told the paper.
Adopting the dogma of one's most radical supporters is rarely a way to win over independents, and I doubt that it's going to work for the Republicans. Sure, Rubio might beat Crist, but nationwide this policy is suicidal.

And yet that's the road which they have chosen.

Click here for full article.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Megyn Kelly wants to compare Tea Partiers to Arizona immigration protesters.

This is so typical of Fox. They run two sets of footage - one from the Tea Party protesters and one from people protesting Arizona's new immigration law and ask us to be outraged at the violence from one group of protesters and impressed by the lack of disorder coming from the other group: the Tea Party folk.

Now leaving aside the fact that - as Crooks and Liars point out - the Arizona protest was mostly peaceful and that the Tea Party protesters did react in an ugly fashion when Democrats walked through the crowd, am I the only person who doesn't find this comparison ludicrous?

The Latinos protesting in Arizona have had something taken away from them. The police now have a duty to demand proof of citizenship if they suspect a person might not be a citizen. And what would this suspicion be based on if not the person's colour, or the fact that they might look Mexican?

What's been taken from the Tea Party protesters is NOTHING.

They have lost no rights, they have lost no freedoms, they are protesting because their party lost an election and that the party led by the black guy won.

They have nothing to be angry about, unless to rage about the fact that the rest of the electorate did not share their choice for president.

Latinos, on the other hand, have lots to be angry about. They have LOST something. I would be angry if I had to live with the knowledge that I might have to prove to the police force in my own country that I have a right to be here, especially as I pay for that force - like everyone else - through taxation. And it would gall me that fellow citizens, who simply looked different from me because of colour, did not face the possibility of ever being asked the same question.

But, Mike Gallacher goes as far as to say that the Latinos protesting are "pro-illegal immigrant criminals", instead of people who feel that a law has been passed which allows them to be subject to police actions which other Americans will not be subjected to.

Gordon Brown's election car crash provides Labour with its most dangerous moment of the campaign.

I avoided talking today about Cameron being ambushed by the father of a disabled boy, just as I avoided talking about the girl who told him, "I don't believe you" when she confronted him at a university the other day.

Gordon Brown's discomfort is rather harder to ignore as he is caught calling someone "a bigot" whilst wearing a radio mike. And, as the Prime Minister fighting an election, it is surely not too much to ask him to remember that he was wired up for sound. So it's a completely self inflicted wound. It's idiocy on the grandest scale.

It's the kind of gaffe that always seems to occur during general elections - remember Major calling three members of his own cabinet "bastards"? - so it's hard to fathom just how much damage he has done. But, as the woman was expressing a concern regarding immigration that many Brits will feel is a fair one, there's a good chance that he's done rather a lot.

Indeed, Brown not only telephoned the woman, but he then went to her house and spent 45 minutes apologising to her, so it's fair to say that he also thinks that this is a f@ck up of quite a magnificent magnitude.

There are - as the Guardian points out - several way in which this could hurt Brown:

But here are three reasons why Labour will be worried:

The prime minister's warm final remarks to Duffy in public, followed seconds later by his angry outburst in private, highlight one of his character traits – that he says one thing in public and another in private. The coup to replace Blair in 2006? Not me, guv, Brown said – until it turned out that one of the plotters had visited him at home.

• Macavity the Cat. Brown always avoids the blame when something goes wrong and points the finger at others. So today the encounter was all the fault of his long-serving – and long-suffering – aide Sue Nye.

• Immigration could now take centre stage after Brown took exception to Duffy's anger about the presence of people from eastern Europe. Labour has been reluctant to talk about immigration because opinion polls show voters feel very strongly about the issue. The Tories have also been reluctant to talk about immigration for fear of being branded extremists.

The encounter today may give the Tories the chance to say that, on immigration, they are reflecting the concerns of lifelong Labour supporters like Duffy.

One person came out of this smelling of roses: and that was Nick Clegg.

One of the reasons why I ignored Cameron being mugged is because (a) I felt sorry for him, and (b) because I always hate the way these incidents become what the press focus on during elections at the expense of policy.

Now, the conservatives loathe when the election is about policy, so the Tories have been jumping all over this story as if this is what the election should now be about.

George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said: “I think the comments speak for themselves. The public will make their own judgement.

“They will contrast what he was saying to the lady and what he was saying privately when he thought no one was listening and draw their own conclusions.

“That’s the thing about general elections – they reveal the truth about people.”

Nick Clegg appeared to take a much more adult attitude whilst being frank that Brown should not have said what he said.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "If you are answering people's questions, you have got to answer those questions with a sense of respect, whatever you think of them, not insult them. He is right to have apologised.

"I think everybody in every walk of life would sort of mutter things underneath their breath which they wouldn't want everyone to know about.

The public aren't stupid and Clegg did himself a real favour by hinting that "there but for the grace of God go I...."

He sounds like an adult whilst there is a definite air of gloating to Osborne's reaction. He and his fellow Tories would like to talk about this for the rest of the week... and possibly will...

Just don't ask them about policy.


When Brown f@cks up, he does so spectacularly:
The woman he insulted is a widow whose husband died of cancer and who worked with handicapped children.
And I thought it couldn't get any worse...

Beck outraged at Nazi comparison.

Beck is right that the comparison between Arizona law and Nazi Germany is ridiculous.

It's lucky that Beck himself never makes that kind of comparison, isn't it?

Joe Scarborough Calls On Leading Republicans To Denounce AZ Immigration Bill.

Scarborough speaks out against Arizona's new immigration bill and asks why prominent Republicans are not speaking out against this.

Contrast that with the tripe being served up between Hannity and Palin.

They have decided that this law is being distorted by the left to "energise Obama's base" according to Palin.

Here's Shep Smith's take on this.

He calls it the "breathing while Latino law," and says it "sounds a lot like the old 'driving while black' law".

And here Judge Napolitano says the AZ immigration law could lead to racial profiling.

Yet Hannity and Palin imagine that the only people protesting are "on the left".

Alex Castellanos: President Obama Has Been a 'Divisive President' but the 'Rehabilitation of George Bush is Well Underway'.

On what planet does this man live? Obama is divisive because he takes on the bankers and yet "the rehabilitation of George Bush is well underway" because he saw a problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

He even manages to applaud Bush for devising a way out of Iraq without mentioning the fact that it was Bush's lies which got the US into Iraq.

It's one of the most extreme examples of turd polishing that I have ever seen.

No party has come clean on scale of cuts – thinktank.

A leading think tank has accused Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems of failing to come clean with the public on the scale of the tax rises and welfare cuts which will be necessary should they be elected to deal with the deficit.

In an attack on the "vague" plans sketched out by Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, the Institute for Fiscal Studies also claimed the Tories were planning the sharpest spending cuts since the second world war, while the Labour and Lib Dem spending slowdowns amounted to the biggest retrenchment since the IMF crisis in the mid-1970s.

The IFS said that no party had gone "anywhere near identifying" the cuts they will need to meet their various deficit reduction timetables.

I know that there is no easy way to run for office whilst telling people which services one wants to take away, as that rarely makes one popular with the electorate. But the failure of all three parties to face up to this actually suits the Tories best of all as their cuts are likely to be the most savage and the most unfair.

They have already hinted several times at just how severe their cuts are going to be, only to reverse their stance when the public reacted in the polls.

Compare and contrast what Cameron and Osborne were saying in October of last year with what they are saying now:
George Osborne today warned that the Tories would have to find much more brutal cuts on top of the 'austerity' package he unveiled yesterday if they are to fill the huge black hole in Britain's public finances.

The Shadow Chancellor shrugged off suggestions that his bleak plans for a public sector pay freeze, cuts to middle-class benefits and a huge contraction in Whitehall were a massive electoral gamble.

He insisted any party that wins the next election will have to adopt similar swingeing measures to balance the books.

And rather than rowing back, he went even further by admitting his plans were just the tip of the iceberg of what would have to be a massive billion-pound savings mission to reduce the £175billion deficit left behind by Labour.
And it wasn't just Osborne saying this, Cameron also piled in:
David Cameron declared that there was no point trying to win an election without telling voters what the Tories would do if they did take power - although the Tory leader candidly admitted his party's plans would hardly have people 'crying with delight'. 'I don't see the point in trying to win an election without telling people about some of the difficult things that have to be done afterwards. We have to take the country with us. To pretend you can just drift through this and then win an election and tell people afterwards, I think is thoroughly irresponsible,' he said.
And yet, that is exactly the course that the Tories have now embarked on.

I know neither party wants to run on an austerity package, but the public have a right to know what exactly is going to be done by each party so that they can make their choice.

I simply know that I would prefer the choices made by a progressive party as their values will be the same as my own. The Tories, I fear, will simply punish the poor for mistakes made by rich bankers.

But, at the moment, the Tories are getting a free ride as neither of the other two parties wants to discuss what they will have to do once elected.


Here's a contrast of what the three parties are proposing:
The IFS, which is independent of political influence, says that the as-yet unspecified cuts in spending amount to some £52.5bn in the case of the Conservatives, £44.1bn for Labour and £34.4bn for the Liberal Democrats – which are the sums each party will have to find if they are to meet their stated aims for deficit reduction.

They imply deep cuts in almost every public service. The Conservative Party figure is larger than those for the other two parties because it has said it wants to cut public borrowing sooner and faster, and that it would put less emphasis on tax rises.
The Tories will be much more savage than either Labour or the Lib Dems. Perhaps people would agree that they need to be more savage, but at least tell them what it is that you are planning to do.

At the moment we are being told precious little...

Click here for full article.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kristol and Williams Get into Shouting Match Over Goldman Sachs Emails Release.

Trust Bill Kristol to get it this wrong. He thinks the outrage here is the fact some emails have been released rather than the content of the emails:

Williams: It’s not ridiculous when you read the emails and the core here is not the release of the emails it’s the content of the emails and the emails reveal that they’re saying the people at Goldman Sachs are saying, you know what, we’re going to make money while investors are losing money. In fact we’re going to have a windfall they say in these emails. That is the outrage in case you missed it!
So, he has this level of outrage over the release of emails and the loss of privacy to some Goldman Sachs employees, yet he had no difficulty with the Patriot Act and the illegal wiretapping of American citizens?

He's a joke....

Biden and Obama Pay Tribute to Fallen Miners.

Biden really impressed me here. He captured the mood perfectly.

The men we remember today went into the darkness so that we might have light.
Obama is, of course, as polished as one would expect. But it is Biden who hits the raw nerve. He clearly shares the values of the people he is talking about.

£10bn profit for taxpayers after shares in bailed out banks surge.

And here's some news which we won't hear the Tories talking about.

The taxpayer is sitting on a profit of close to £10bn on its stakes in Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group after a surprise surge in their share prices.

The shares in both banks have risen sharply in recent days and outperformed the wider market amid signs that the banking crisis is coming to an end and that their bad debts have peaked.

Alistair Darling tonight claimed his bailout of the banking sector had been justified after analysis by the Guardian showed a sizeable paper profit had opened up – once recently disclosed fees paid to the government are taken into account.

RBS shares have jumped 75% in little more than two months and a £26bn combined loss on both stakes at the end of last year has now been reversed to a profit of £9.4bn. The Guardian has calculated that the profit on the 84% stake in RBS tonight stood at £7.4bn while the taxpayer's 41% share in Lloyds was worth almost £2bn more than the Treasury paid for it.

Whenever the Tories talk about the bailout they always sound as if we will never get that money back. When, of course, we will. We will one day sell our shares in these institutions and will most likely do so for a profit.

But that script doesn't fit in with the Tory storyline. Indeed, they were against even stepping in at all when Northern Rock looked like going under.
"I am not in favour of nationalisation, full stop," he [Osborne] announced in the Commons. Instead his decision is to allow the bank to collapse.
And yet we are still in a position where George Osborne could be our next Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Darling said: "My judgment was right ... I've always said we would get our money back and more".
It's no wonder the Tories are hiding Osborne away for most of this election. The man has been wrong in every single call that he has made.

Click here for full article.

Nick Clegg: I could work with Labour, just not Gordon Brown.

Nick Clegg has now revised his position from yesterday to say that he would do a deal with Labour, but not if Gordon Brown remains Prime Minister.

His clarification marks a shift from the weekend when he appeared to suggest Labour would have forfeited the right to govern if it came third on 6 May. His remarks had alarmed some on the progressive left who argued that he was in danger of reducing the anti-Tory tactical vote.

Labour and the Conservatives condemned Clegg on the issue today. One cabinet minister said he was over-reaching himself and had become intoxicated with his own publicity, and the Tories said he was holding the country to ransom with his demands for electoral reform.

Clegg, however, has not been deterred from trying to set out the Lib Dem stance. He said: "I think, if Labour do come third in terms of the number of votes cast, then people would find it inexplicable that Gordon Brown himself could carry on as prime minister. As for who I'd work with, I've been very clear – much clearer than David Cameron and Gordon Brown – that I will work with anyone. I will work with a man from the moon, I don't care, with anyone who can deliver the greater fairness that I think people want."

Asked if he could work with the "man from the moon but not Gordon Brown", he said: "I just don't think the British people would accept that he could carry on as prime minister, which is what the convention of old politics dictates when, or rather if, he were to lose the election in such spectacular style."

The journalists have now dragged him into a corner where he appears to be stating that he can decide who can or cannot lead the country.

I personally do not believe that the man has become so intoxicated by the publicity surrounding him that he thinks he can state such things, but I do think he has fallen into a trap. It's why I have always said that silence would be the better choice for Clegg when it comes to this issue.

Tory journalists have been out to get him ever since he beat Cameron in the first debate. One of the easiest ways to get him is to lure him into this prediction game, which is a game he loses no matter which way he plays it. He should have stuck to the line that it is for the public to decide and that he had no intention of second guessing the electorate.

He wants proportional representation, it's been a desperate wish of the Liberal Democrats - for the most obvious reasons - for years and years. This election has put him in the most perfect position to demand that one of the other parties agree to this as the price of his support.

However, what he is not allowed to do is say that loudly, so that he appears to be putting the needs of his party before his country.

That was why he was so wildly successful in the first debate. He appeared to be beyond the usual political wheeling and dealing and came across as a plain speaker who wanted an end to the usual politics represented by Labour and the Tories.

Since he committed the error of leaning towards the Tories, no doubt in an attempt to pressure both of the other parties to reconsider their views on PR, he put himself in danger of becoming the "vote for me, get Cameron" candidate.

He is now desperately trying to readjust that position by stating that he would do a deal with Labour... simply not with Brown at the helm.
Lib Dem officials confirmed that Clegg was singling out Brown as the man the country would not tolerate if Labour dropped to third in share of the vote.
That doesn't simply look like an over-reach, that is an over-reach. It's not for any party leader to state who should lead one of the other parties.

As I say, I don't think that he is suffering from hubris, but I do think he has fallen into a well laid journalistic trap. As I said the other day, he should never have gotten into the prediction game, he should have sought to remain always above the fray and above the political wrangling which the public associate with the other two parties.

The longer he remains in the mire, battling in the same way as the other two parties do, the more he will tarnish his brand.

He started out sounding like the candidate for real change, it now appears that he is really the candidate for PR. We all knew that anyway, but he used to sound as if the country was more important than that narrow political aim.

He's allowing them to box him in. That's a mistake.

Click here for full article.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sullivan renews sedition charges against Beck, Palin, and "the Fox News Republican National Committee Coalition Machine".

The funniest part of this is when Glenn Beck states:

"It's a game. It's a game. They are trying to get us to argue and call each other names and just ratchet it up. And I am not going to play that game."
No-one calls people names more randomly than Glenn Beck does. Obama is a Socialist, a Communist, and a Nazi according to Beck. So for him to claim that he is not going to engage in name calling, is simply ludicrous.

And Sullivan is right when he states that Beck and Limbaugh being "entertainers" does not excuse what they are indulging in.

Impose solution for Middle East, Abbas asks Obama.

I suppose it was inevitable that Abbas would finally say it, and now he has:

The plea, made several times in private but uttered in public for the first time, came as US envoy George Mitchell wrapped up a three-day visit to Jerusalem without any breakthrough on starting the proximity talks. "Since you, Mr President and you, the members of the American administration, believe in this [Palestinian statehood], it is your duty to call for the steps in order to reach the solution and impose the solution – impose it," Mr Abbas said in a speech to leaders of his Fatah party.

"But don't tell me it's a vital national strategic American interest ... and then not do anything," he added.

This undermines the argument made by Senator Schumer and others that the Palestinians simply don't want peace. Quite the opposite is true. The Palestinians are keen to have peace, even it is a peace which is imposed by Barack Obama.

The truth is that it is Israel, as she continues her illegal expansion into Palestinian territory, who seems to prefer the status quo. It is Israel who continues daily - and illegally - to steal Palestinian land.

Now, obviously, any solution has to be negotiated. But Abbas is playing on the reports that Obama has a solution that he is considering imposing and, by calling for it's imposition, he is making it perfectly clear that he and the Palestinians are not the obstacle to peace here.
There has been fevered speculation in the media in recent weeks that the Obama administration has drawn up its own proposal for a Middle East solution, a prospect widely derided by Israeli politicians, who insist that only negotiations can lead to a solution.
The Israeli position is not unreasonable; a negotiated solution would be the best outcome. But, Netanyahu is doing all that he can do to resist negotiations, which is why Abbas now calls for the imposition of a solution.

Abbas is trying to get Obama to force Netanyahu to the table. It's clear to anyone who the obstructionist is here.

Click here for full article.

Nick Clegg goes public on coalition – and looks to the Conservatives.

As I suspected yesterday, Nick Clegg is making it clear that his choice of partner in any coalition - should we end up with a hung parliament - would be the Tories.

Nick Clegg today signalled that he would speak to the Conservatives first about the formation of a minority government if Labour came third by share of the vote on 6 May, rejecting the constitutional convention that the prime minister should be allowed to try to form a government first.

The Liberal Democrat leader also made it explicit for the first time that electoral reform would be an unavoidable precondition of any coalition government as he insisted that Labour will have forfeited the right to govern if it comes third.
The electoral reform precondition is hardly a surprise, but I am surprised that he has made his preference for a coalition with the Tories as blatant as he now has. His success has come from appearing separate from the other two parties and offering something new and different. Now he has left it open for Labour to portray a vote for him as a vote for Cameron, which they have wasted no time in doing.
Lord Mandelson, Labour's election strategist, immediately warned in a campaign memo that "voters who flirt with Nick Clegg are likely to end up married to David Cameron". He said Clegg "had made clear his hostility to Labour and his preference to side with the Tories in a coalition if this arises. In other words, vote Nick and get Dave and George – not a nice prospect for people with progressive values."
Mandelson has a point. Surely anyone who wants to vote for Clegg is on the progressive side of the political debate? Clegg has made it clear that voting for him makes a conservative becoming Prime Minister much more likely.

I simply don't get the logic of that. Indeed, it makes me think of the formation of the SDP which split the progressive vote during the late seventies and early eighties ensuring Thatcher's domination of the British political landscape.
The Lib Dems insisted that Clegg's remarks were being over-interpreted, and he was merely rejecting the constitutional assumption that the prime minister in the event of a hung parliament would always have the first opportunity to try to form a minority government.
I hope they are being "over-interpreted", but he should never have made them. He's left himself open to the charge of being a conduit that sweeps Cameron to power, especially if Cameron will agree to proportional representation. Which makes him look self serving.

All in all, it's not the cleverest statement he has ever made. Silence would have been the far better option.


Peter Hain makes the point which I am making:

Hain also claimed he did not believe the Liberal Democrats' membership would accept Clegg making a deal with David Cameron, a possibility that Labour inferred from Clegg's remarks yesterday.

Hain said: "The Liberal Democrats are a centre-left party, and on issues like securing the recovery, political reform, fairness and helping the poor, their members have far more in common with us than Cameron and his agenda of DIY public services and big cuts in public services. I don't think [Clegg's] party will want to see him do a deal with Cameron."

The Tories are not the Liberal Democrats natural bedfellows, which is why I find Clegg's statements so puzzling.

Click here for full article.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Some kind of madness: How the Tory press lost the plot.

The way the right wing hacks do the dirty work of the Tory party for them is quite blatant.

It was a call from out of the blue. Right-wing newspapers are used to getting calls from the Conservative Party, but this one was less cordial than usual.

"We are a little concerned about Nick Clegg," the senior Tory told the editor. "And we were wondering what you plan to do about it."

The Tories realised that every time Brown or Cameron attacked Clegg that their popularity dipped during the recent debates, so George Osborne called the press in and asked them to do the attacking on the Tories behalf.

And they did not fail. But it bordered on the ridiculous.

On the internet there is a law, Godwin's Law, which states that the longer a debate goes on the more certain it is that Nazis will be mentioned. The Mail, in print and online, didn't hang around. The front-page headline "Clegg in Nazi slur on Britain" was a masterpiece of slurring: a moronic interpretation of a suddenly discovered 2002 article, bolstered by some frothing quotations from Nicholas Soames, "grandson of wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill".

Meanwhile, in the Telegraph, deputy editor, Ben Brogan, noting that a poll had rated Clegg the most popular leader since Sir Winston, warned readers: "Vote Churchill, get Stalin." And Cristina Odone brought a faith perspective to the business of rectifying voters. Her target was the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris, whom she dubbed, for his views on abortion and euthanasia, "Dr Death": the Mr Hyde to Clegg's Dr Jekyll. Harris lends "something sinister" to the Lib Dem line-up, she said.

The Mail's Tom Utley also went to extremes to bash Clegg. "If this had been any ordinary general election, like the other seven I've covered, I would certainly not have travelled from home in London to Cornwall and back (16 hours in one day, door-to-door) for the privilege of spending half an hour on a cricket pitch listening to the leader of the Lib Dems."

And what did he learn in that half hour, for which he made such noble sacrifice? Nick Clegg, it seems, may be "the most potent threat to our survival as a self-governing state".

The right wing are livid with Clegg for daring to threaten Cameron's coronation.

By their own admission they usually simply ignore the Liberal Democrats and they are furious that people liked what Clegg had to say. They are now deciding that we are a nation of stupid children who really don't know what is good for us.

The Daily Mail:

"It was a matter of some concern," the paper announced, "that 10 per cent of the electorate could change their views so dramatically in the space of an hour and a half, and that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats could emerge as the apparent winners of that debate with the public learning so little of their policies and values.

"Over the past week" – this is the really memorable bit – "this newspaper has tried to rectify that failing, and we continue today with our examination of what the Liberals really stand for."

As Brian Cathcart says in an article that's well worth reading: "What presumption. What pomposity."

My favourite line on this subject came from another article entirely:
There is no evidence that the stories came from the Tories, however, the attacks could hardly have been better timed – or presented – had they been produced in Central Office.
Yeah, there's no evidence that the Tories were involved, except for the fact that George's sticky little fingerprints are all over this.


If you need any proof of the cavalier attitude of the bankers before the collapse of our financial systems, this comment, "IBG, YBG" says everything about what is wrong with the banking culture.

It seems all that they ever think of is their next bonus. And to Hell with what happens once they have gone.

Fox's Cashin' In on Gore: Brainwashing kids, "human repellent," "nobody likes" him, "hurt[ing] mankind".

The nonsense spoken by almost everyone on this panel is simply breathtaking.

U.S. isn't a neutral mediator between Israelis and Palestinians.

Zvi Bar'el has an interesting article in today's Ha'aretz newspaper, which challenges the previously held American assumption that the United States cannot "impose peace" when it comes to Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States is not a neutral mediator that supplies the parties with its good services, a table to negotiate on, some snacks and muzak.
I actually happen to believe that Obama is fully aware of that. One of the things which has most impressed me about Obama when it comes to this conflict was the speech he gave in Cairo where, whilst talking about this, he stated:
That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest.
This was the first time I have ever heard an American president articulate that American interests and Israeli interests might not be one and the same.

Bar'el applauds "the political risk he [Obama] has taken by marking Israel as a peace-refusenik", and then questions the logic of the stance Netanyahu is engaging in.
Israel is challenging the United States' strategic status. This provocation goes beyond the question of Israeli sovereignty versus American might. Idiotically, Israel is competing against itself because U.S. status is a fundamental part of Israel's strength. And when Israel is ready to demolish this foundation for the benefit of the bullies in East Jerusalem and the West Bank outposts, Israel puts its own citizens at risk.

Faced with Israeli foolishness, Washington can no longer afford to merely shrug. Too many American interests are at stake. So how will Obama deal with the Israeli naysayer? Will he renounce his demand to freeze construction? Will he present Israel with an obligatory work plan for reaching peace with the Palestinians? And to cut to the chase, will we see a rerun of the famous scene from the tenure of secretary of state James Baker, who left Israel a phone number it could call when it got serious about peace?
Obama has stated that this is about American interests and America's standing in the world.

David Petraeus has underlined that point. And, much as the usual voices demand that the US must desist from forcing Israel to do anything it doesn't want to do, the disagreement between Obama and Netanyahu, and the stakes which are at play for the US, makes that stance simply impossible. No Israeli leader can be allowed to challenge an American president when that president has stated that Israel's intransigence is endangering US troops. That's simply a no brainer.

Today, for the first time in months, we are seeing movement.
Proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians will start no later than mid-May, officials involved in efforts to renew the peace process said on Saturday.

On Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received an official invitation to the talks from U.S. President Barack Obama. In the message to Abbas, Obama acknowledged that he was unable to extract a commitment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to freeze construction in East Jerusalem.

But the American president expressed confidence that Israel would refrain from "significant" actions in the eastern part of the city during negotiations.
Obama's stance is beginning to bear fruit. Netanyahu has engaged in obstructionism for as long as he could, but even he is running out of excuses.

Obama is serious about this and does intend to see this through.

Senators like Chuck Schumer can fume as much as they want, but Obama has made clear - as has General Petraeus - that it is in America's interest, as much as anyone else's, that this conflict be resolved. That change of emphasis changes the game when it comes to this conflict.

Those who claim that Obama "humiliated" Netanyahu are missing the point. It is Netanyahu who is trying to humiliate Obama, by insisting that the interests of his settlers are more important than American lives. That's a battle Obama simply can't afford to let him win.

Click here for full article.

David Cameron leaves door open for poll deal with Liberal Democrats.

If one needed any further proof that David Cameron will reverse any stance in order to gain power, we got a further example of that yesterday.

Cameron insists that he still believes the first-past-the post system is the best for Britain. "I want us to keep the current system that enables you to throw a government out of office. That is my view," he says.

But when pressed on whether, in the event of a hung parliament, he would be prepared to discuss the Lib Dems' central demand for electoral reform – something he has always opposed until now – he declines to rule it out. When it was put to him that refusal to move on the issue could mean the Lib Dems teaming up with Labour to push through electoral reform anyway, the Tory leader says: "We think this is an important issue."

It's an "important issue" but you can bet your bottom dollar that Cameron will reverse what he believes is "best for Britain" if it looks like it will get him any nearer to Number Ten.

Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have always stood for proportional representation, so Clegg is sticking by his principles here. Cameron, on the other hand, is showing that he has none.

This is part of a pattern which has developed over the last few months. He believes in massive cuts to social services, until they prove unpopular, when he simply reverses what it is that he supposedly believes is "best for Britain".

The examples of him doing so are numerous. I'll give just one:

David Cameron voted for and argued for military action in Iraq. Then in February in a letter to Liberal Democrats – who had opposed military action - he said that he agreed with them on Iraq. But after being challenged in the House of Commons on his flip-flop by the Prime Minister, David Cameron reversed his position again.


‘I think it was right to remove Saddam Hussein. I think it was the right decision then and I still think it was right now.’

BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast, 21 October 2005

‘We faced a choice: do we enforce a stream of UN resolutions against Saddam, remove a key element of instability in the region and neutralise a continued threat - or should we back off? I thought then that, on balance, it was right to go ahead, and I still do now.’
FAQs,, 15 November 2005


‘Issues that once divided Conservatives from Liberal Democrats are now issues where we both agree. Our attitude to devolution and localisation of power. Iraq. The environment. I'm a liberal Conservative.’
Letter to constituents in Dunfermline and West Fife by-election, 7 February 2006

Supported again:

‘the Tory leader stressed he remains fully committed to the war in Iraq.’

The Sun, 8 February 2006

There is no position of Cameron's that is not open to future negotiation.

Click here for full article.

Labour now 'irrelevant' - Clegg.

Nick Clegg has given his strongest indication yet that a vote for him would ensure that we see David Cameron as the next Prime Minister.

We all know that, at the moment, there is as much chance that Gordon Brown will emerge from this election with the most seats as there is that David Cameron will do so. But Clegg has dismissed any chance of Brown remaining in Number Ten as what he refers to as a "squatter".

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg described the possibility that Labour could get a smaller share of the vote than the other parties, but still have more seats, as "a complete nonsense".

"You can't have Gordon Brown squatting in No 10 just because of the irrational idiosyncrasies of our electoral system," he said.

He said Mr Cameron would be making a "massive strategic error" if he opposed a reform of the voting system.

Mr Cameron is strongly opposed to proportional representation but a source told the BBC that if voters returned a hung parliament, he would be "constructive".

I would hope that, in the event of a hung parliament, Clegg would form a government with whoever held the most parliamentary seats.

He is now indicating that he might not do so. I think this is the first mistake that Clegg has made in this election. He is now surely saying that a vote for him is a vote for Cameron, as we all know that Clegg can't actually win this election, as that's a mathematical impossibility.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson insisted the election was "wide open" but acknowledged that some former Labour voters were considering "looking elsewhere".

He told the Sunday Mirror: "You might start flirting with Nick Clegg, but that way you will end up marrying David Cameron.

"If they vote Lib Dem, they are making it easier for the Tories to get in."
I have advised friends who live in seats where the Liberal Democrats are challenging the Tories, to vote Lib Dem. I would actually love it were Clegg to win as I consider the Liberal Democrats to be to the left of New Labour. But the swing that would be required to bring that about is simply off the charts. Whether we like it or not we have a choice between Brown and Cameron and Clegg sounds like he's saying he wants to share power with Cameron.

That's a severe disappointment. Quite how Clegg thinks he can co-exist with Cameron is beyond me, as they come from politically different universes. Obviously, Clegg can hold back the worst of Cameron's excesses, but it's a blow that he appears unwilling to even consider power sharing with Brown.

Click here for full article.