Sunday, 30 November 2008

A note

About a week ago I got back from a five-day backpacking trip in the snowy wilderness of Pennsylvania. It was my first experience being outside for an extended period of time without technology, only with the members of my group, sleeping under a plastic tarp. It was an interesting, if sometimes challenging, ordeal and it opened my eyes even more to the corruption and worthlessness of our modern society. My frustration has increased with the coming of the 'Holiday season' (one month spent focusing on one day?), a time of mass consumption and materialism.

On a lighter note, I will be returning to 2006/07 post levels soon. I'm going through a very busy period in my life.

Hope all my American readers had an exceptional Thanksgiving.


Thursday, 13 November 2008

John Leonard, RIP

John Leonard, one of my favorite book reviewers and certainly one of the best out there, passed away Wednesday last week. Although I wasn't alive to enjoy his reign as editor at the New York Review of Books, but I do read his monthly column in Harper's.

This is a man I'll miss dearly.

Still-President says 'Don't fight the system!'

BBC News:

US President George W Bush has admitted the financial system needs reforming, but insists the credit crunch was not a failure of the free-market system.

Speaking in New York, Mr Bush said that while financial markets did need some new regulation and more transparency, free trade should not be restricted.
Yet he said state action was not a "cure-all", and what was now needed was a reform of the global economy "without trying to re-invent the system".

As readers know, I'm quite ambivalent about the free-market system that represents the economic status quo, most of all in countries like the US, many of my views tending to be on the negative side of things. I do think that the sham we pass off as 'free trade' between developed countries and less developed ones needs to stop. It's not fair if African nations aren't allowed to have food subsidies yet their American and European trading partners pump massive amounts of government money into local agriculture.

As far as the system in general goes, the Reagan era of deregulation has caught up with us (as has the great shift away from train transport that also occurred under his reign).

There'll be a meeting consisting of leaders from the major world economies this weekend in Washington, the topic of course being the current global financial instability.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

America votes 2008: election update 6

The big picture: what we have seen so far

  • The GOP has lost its reign over America's suburbs.

  • The youth vote had quite an effect on this election, with wide support of Obama.

  • Everyone seems to have forgotten about the war in Iraq. Newsflash: it's still going on.

  • We'll still have to wait and see about the Democratic balance in the Senate.

  • Not that everyone doesn't already know this, but Americans have now voted in the first non-white president. Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president on 20 January 2009.


    CNN projects Barack Obama has won the 2008 presidential election.

    Now three words I am very proud to say: President-elect Obama. This is an America I can be proud of.

    I am perfectly ecstatic.

    Hope is alive, even in a political cynic like me.

    America votes 2008: election update 5

  • CNN projects Ohio for Obama. Historically, there has never been a Republican voted into the Oval Office who didn't win Ohio. This is yet another nail in the McCain coffin. McCain is under-performing Bush's 2004 results in most areas around the nation.

  • So far, Obama has been able to deliver votes that went to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries, many of them being blue-collar (e.g. in Pennsylvania).

  • For a nice personal look at the man who should be the next US president, see this Washington Post article.

  • For all those poll-hunters out there...

    If you're looking for the most recent polls of this election, not that it matters too much when actual election results are streaming in, see RealClearPolitics.

    America votes 2008: election update 4

  • So far, the Democrats already have four Senatorial pickups. Let's hope they reach that magic number of 60 Senate seats.

  • It looks like Obama will carry Florida and its 27 electoral votes. I'm a bit surprised the popular vote margin is so narrow at the moment, but the night is still young, and we've still got California and New York...

  • Exit polls (read about them here) have shown Americans aren't really concerned with race, and those who were... voted Obama. Age, on the other hand, is of greater concern to the American public, and, as we all know, McCain is one of the older presidential candidates in America's history.

  • At last, perhaps America's international reputation can be restored after eight years of consistent tarnishing. Tonight's the night.

  • America votes 2008: election update 3

    It's all about those southern Senate seats...

  • Republican Elizabeth Dole — a politician I have particular disdain for — has lost her Senate seat in North Carolina, giving the Democrats another win. As an analyst on CNN noted, this is a major change: the holder of Dole's seat before she was elected? Ultra-conservative bigot Jesse Helms.

  • The race in Georgia is looking competitive, with the potential for a Democratic win there.

  • Kentucky remains up in the air.

    15 states' polls will be closing in one minute. Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida have still not been definitively called (Ohio results are coming in very slowly).

  • America votes 2008: election update 2

    As predicted by recent polls, CNN projects Barack Obama has won Pennsylvania. Not too big of a surprise, but a huge setback for the McCain campaign, which insisted it was doing well in the state. Pennsylvania is a must-win this year on the path to the presidency...

    Going by CNN's numbers, only 168 electoral votes to go until Obama has the 270 necessary to claim the presidency.

    America votes 2008: election update 1

    Election results are flowing in; Obama's looking fairly strong. For instance, Obama's competitive in the traditional red-state of Indiana, which Bush won by a wide margin in 2004.

    There's also a chance Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, the Senate's most senior Republican (i.e. the minority leader) will lose his seat. A very interesting night for the Democrats, that's for sure.

    Keep in mind there are 35 Senate seats up for grabs, as well as the entire 435-seat House of Representatives.

    Democratic prospects for the election

    Thanks to the financial crisis over the past month and a half, the Democrats now have a chance to get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, so initiatives from the House can finally be passed and progressive objectives have a chance of being accomplished. To grab this 60th Senate seat, the Dems need to pull it through in a red state like Kentucky, Georgia, or Mississippi.

    Meanwhile, the Republicans re-toning message to convince voters that there needs to be a "break" against the Democratic influx in Washington, but its the GOP's own fault. There are plenty of examples, even in the south, of congressional seats to be won from conservatives by Democrats thanks to Obama's popularity. As a result of this election, the GOP may be thrown back to pre-1994 days. The good: more can be done in Congress. The bad: less checks within the government (assuming Obama wins).

    The many attacks of the McCain campaign

    "If you don't have any fresh ideas, then you use stale tactics to scare voters." From Sen. Barack Obama's DNC speech.

  • McCain is the attack candidate. His whole message is based upon attacking his opponent, namely the fact he'll raise your taxes! (His plan may not be working so well, however. Republicans finally losing tax policy debate? Is the era of cut! cut! cut! finally over?)

  • According to the McCain campaign small towns = real America. Lately, Palin has dished out plenty of veiled insults on basically everyone in urban areas. Oddly enough, hmm, only about 15% of Americans live in these idyllic "small towns". We're going through another spell of questioning patriotism and how "American" one is (even as 9/11 and national security, as well as immigration, which also brought up the "American" question, are put on the back burner because of the financial crisis).

  • McCain's ads focus on Palin almost as much as the actual candidate for the presidency, and the GOP is giving her a prime spotlight. Meanwhile, Palin has even attacked Obama's volunteering work as a community organizer and such trivial things as his loose connection to a Palestinian scholar and a '60s extremist (Ayers). And what has she accomplished? Even the current mayor of Wasilla herself said the city provides essentially no resources for its residents (most things being taken care of by the state government).

  • Ironic that the Republican whose pockets are lined with money from the oil lobby accuses his opponent in an attack advertisement of not supporting alternative energy. Is McCain delusional enough to seriously think he's the green candidate?

  • Paul Krugman wrote an excellent op-ed piece on campaign dishonesty back in September.

    McCain: For voters who think real change is just too darn risky!

  • Today's the day!

    After all these years of waiting, it all comes down to this one day: election day 2008. The turnout is high, as expected; let's hope Obama is voted in as the next president of the United States. Get out and vote if you haven't already!

    Saturday, 1 November 2008

    Electoral excitement!

    In just a few days (can't wait until Tuesday!), Barack Obama should win the race for the American presidency. National polls show him comfortably ahead his rival, who grows increasingly desperate — and right-wing. That's not to say this election is won, of course. Anything can happen. But if one just tinkers with the electoral map one finds a McCain victory at this point is incredibly unlikely. McCain asserts he can win, however, even if he carries Ohio (there's a chance) and Pennsylvania (Obama's looking fairly strong there), as well as most all of the toss-ups, including Florida, Obama still wins by over 30 electoral votes! Even if we then give McCain North Carolina Obama carries the election. To win, McCain would not only have to pick up every toss-up state, but grab some of those big states leaning towards Obama. It's possible, but certainly not as likely as the McCain campaign would like people to think