An insult to warm spit
Tuesday night was... Fright Night! One kisses babies, the other eats them. Who would win?
The Vice Presedential debate was not an interesting contest for the viewer. Cheney didn't try and bite anyone, and Edwards was a let-down; by 3.30 am, all I could think was how wrong I was to have wanted Edwards to get the nomination ahead of Kerry. And yet...
Cheney fucked up. The big post-debate media story stemmed from one of his more acerbic moments, when he chided Edwards on his poor attendance record in the Senate. He foolishly claimed to have never met Babyface before, so he must have been a bit sickened to get off the stage to the news that he had, and the press had the pictures to prove it. Despite holding his own in the debate itself, Cheney lost the spin thanks to some foolish and unneccessary lies.
But this wasn't really why Cheney lost. The big moment came when Edwards dissed him over various Halliburton related misdemeanours, and Cheney responded by telling the folks at home to check the facts for themselves, by visiting a website called Factcheck.com. Click the link, and you'll see that particular site is just a redirect to George Soros' anti-Bush site on George Soros.com. Cheney meant to say Factcheck.org.
Funny as this was, this wasn't the big mistake either. Cheney's real mistake was that by directing the voters to an obscure website, he snubbed the American press. Hell, it's their job to rubbish Democrats whilst ignoring the lies from the White House crew, not the responsibility of a bunch of internet upstarts. And that's the reason why, when Cheney got backstage, he was greeted by a shitload of personal attacks on his integrity, instead of the one-sided dissection of Edwards' position, (liberally (ha!) interspersed with the phrase "flip-flop") that he must have been expecting.
Worse still for Cheney, the real Factcheck.org then went to town on Cheney's performance, examining the statements from both sides, and concluding that Cheney was approximately four times as full of shit as his opponent, particularly when it comes to Halliburton. Two-nil to the Democrats, then, and the polls are starting to look good for the boys in Blue - the big polls are showing them neck and neckish still, but the battleground states that will decide who gets the job are showing definite swings towards Kerry. Kerry v Bush round two tomorrow night. Can't wait for that ding ding ding.
08 October 2004
An insult to warm spit
07 October 2004
Michael Howard - on the inside, pissing out
Been a bit busy, so I haven't been able to give Micky Howard's conference speech the attention it deserves until now. Full text here, and it's full of the normal bluster you'd expect - but! Howard did a "brave" thing. So brave, it made Alan Duncan cry. At the end of the speech, he stepped away from the autocue, (told you it was brave) and delivered these nauseating closing comments...
Yadda yadda. He went on a little bit more. In that annoying. Staccato style. Of his. And there wasn't a dry eye in the house. What makes this incredible is that it wasn't five minutes earlier that he was saying -
What do you mean? There's no contradiction there! HELP ME IM BEING SQUEEZED BUY TEH BLACKS THYERE IN MY KITCHEN OH MY GOD TEHYRE IN MY EARS I CANT HERE YOU MY EARS ARE FULL OF FORINS HELP!
Oh, and they're was an entirely unpredictable lurch in an anti-European direction in a desperate attempt to head UKIP off at the pass. Gotta love those Tories.
05 October 2004
Why the Tories can't win, pt.94
Who advises these people? At what meeting did a bunch of advertising wonks sit down and decide - "what the public really wants to know about the Tory party is a) what bands do they listen to, and b) what was their first kiss like?,
I now know that Fatty Soames' first snog was not a success. And I also now need to drink a litre of neat alcohol to eradicate this image from my brain. He also claims to "admire" Dido. I imagine she's thrilled. Other bands whose careers are over include the Scissor Sisters, Radiohead, and Pulp. Those last two were ruined by someone called David Cameron, (no, me neither), who also claimed that he liked to listen to The Smiths, describing them as "miserable", and thereby proving that he's never heard a Smiths record in his life. Foo.
This story is as good an example as any of the angst eating away at the Tory Party. "No-one likes us!", they wail, and then they wonder why. "They obviously don't see us as real humans! Who'd want to go to the pub with us? We must prove how normal and likable we are, immediately". What they fail to realise is that no-one wants to like a political party, it's just the leader who needs to be chummy. This is something that Mandelson and the other architects of the New Labour project instinctively understood - show Tony playing football or strumming his guitar by all means, because the voters want to trust him. Getting Gordon or Johnny P to talk about their favourite type of curry will only lead to ridicule, and it's pointless - no-one gives a shit.
This misguided attempt at making the Tories appear more like your mate Barry is, of course, timed to coincide with the Party Conference, which kicked off in Bournemouth yesterday. The airwaves are full of Tories saying that they can win the election. Indeed, the Conference was opened by Liam Fox proclaiming - "welcome to our last Conference in Opposition!". Yeah, right. Meanwhile, a Newsnight poll paints a rather different picture, with 65% of Tory voters saying Michael Howard will never be PM. Ouch. Still, cheer up Tories! You've got till June to turn things around. Good luck with that.
03 October 2004
Swivel-eyed lunatics update
"You have just established yourselves as being new, fresh, honest, open and decent. "Why do you want to start wheeler-dealing like they do?"
Kilroy-Silk: I want to lead UKIP
Give a man a platform, and before long he'll want to run the station. Kilroy, bless him, has clearly identified himself as the man responsible for UKIP's electoral successes, and as he's the one who's being invited to sit next to Frosty and share breakfast with the nation, (as opposed to his leader, Roger Knapman), he might as well be the one to lead the UKippers into Whitehall. The comprehensive press coverage of yesterday's menacing Conference attack on the Tories won't have harmed his ego much.
Is this good news? I think, on balance, that it is. Kilroy's got a point, of course - he is the big draw, and he's guaranteed to further raise the party's profile if he becomes leader, but the obvious fact that he's too self-obsessed to recognise is that Kilroy's an even bigger political liability than the anonymous freak he's trying to depose. Kilroy as party leader will continue to pilfer votes from the Tories, but he will also reinforce the notion that UKIP is nothing more than the resting home of choice for right-wing loonies. Plus, as a confirmed, card-carrying racist, he'll help to push UKIP futher away from the European question, and closer to the We Hate Asylum Seekers Who Are Stealing Our Jobs and Women agenda, which will drive away those people who aren't actually insane racists, but have legitimate issues with European integration. Excellent. As an added bonus, this will cripple the BNP, as Kilroy's stated political beliefs are inches away from the cuddly Neo-Nazi party's position.
The danger, of course, is that he'll spark a civil war in the party which will cause UKIP to self-destruct, letting the Tories off the hook. Time will tell...
*update* Just had another look at the Independent article on Kilroy's conference speech (linked above), and realised it was more of a (highly enjoyable) pisstake of UKIP than a news piece on Kilroy's speech. Instead, try - Tory Party Is Dying, Says Kilroy-Silk. Gotta love this -
...And he said the party's members should distance themselves from other politicians.
"You will be besmirched, tainted by any association with them, what can they give us?" Kilroy-Silk asked.>
"You have just established yourselves as being new, fresh, honest, open and decent.
"Why do you want to start wheeler-dealing like they do?"Less than twenty-four hours later, he's launching a leadership bid on national television. He seems to have forgotten that he used to be an MP himself, but he's clearly not lost his political instincts...
01 October 2004
Fox News, fairly unbalanced
Rallying supporters in Tampa Friday, Kerry played up his performance in Thursday night's debate, in which many observers agreed the Massachusetts senator outperformed the president.
"Didn't my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate!" Kerry said Friday.
With the foreign-policy debate in the history books, Kerry hopes to keep the pressure on and the sense of traction going.
Aides say he will step up attacks on the president in the next few days, and pivot somewhat to the domestic agenda, with a focus on women and abortion rights.
"It's about the Supreme Court. Women should like me! I do manicures," Kerry said.
Kerry still trails in actual horse-race polls, but aides say his performance was strong enough to rally his base and further appeal to voters ready for a change.
"I'm metrosexual — he's a cowboy," the Democratic candidate said of himself and his opponent.
A "metrosexual" is defined as an urbane male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.
You couldn't make it up! Except, of course, they did. Full story here.
Fox have now issued an apology and retraction -
Earlier Friday, FOXNews.com posted an item purporting to contain quotations from Kerry. The item was based on a reporter’s partial script that had been written in jest and should not have been posted or broadcast. We regret the error, which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not malice.
Well, that's alright then. Just a coincidence, I'm sure.
*update* Contrary to the impression given by Fox's apology, this wasn't the work of some junior reporter, but their Chief Political Correspondent, Carl Cameron. Cameron's currently the lead reporter covering... the Kerry campaign! It seem that this is such hard work that all he has time to do is eat, sleep, and write bad satirical attacks on Kerry.
Mexed missages, or how Kerry got his groove back
So, the American Election. Depressing? You betcha. Or at least it was until last night, when Kerry and Bush finally went head to head in the first of three live televised debates.
I'm feeling a little lazy right now, (ok, my fingers ache...) so I'm posting this summary I originally posted on NotBBC's Politics forum in response to someone who heard Kerry soundbites on Radio 4, and thought he sounded very poor...
"Kerry wasn't brilliant. He was merely competent, and that was enough.
For the majority of the time, he was in complete command of the situation, and was playing Bush like a swingball set. On reflection, Bush was *incredibly* bad. On several occassions, he failed to fill his allotted time limit, and throughout the debate he rambled, paused for eternities, and sounded completely unsure of himself. Whenever Bush lost his grip on the thread of the debate, he'd flap for a while, and then look stern and say "it's hard work", "we're making progress", or "mixed messages". This happened fifteen, maybe twenty times in the ninety minutes.
Perhaps most telling was the way the format of the debate (largely demanded by the Bush team) played into Kerry's hands. Kerry would get a question from the moderator, and would then have two minutes to answer it. Most of the time, he filled those two minute slots pretty well, managing to criticise Bush's record and clearly state his own intentions. Then Bush would get 90 seconds to reply, during which aforementioned flapping took place a lot.
When Bush got the questions, he struggled to fill his two minute allocation on several occassions, and Kerry made short work of Bush's comments during his rebuttals. On several occassions, Bush then requested needed supplementary time to deal with Kerry's points, and still failed to come up with anything better than his buzzwords. After the precedent for these supplemental periods was set, Kerry got plenty of his own, and always used his time to deliver concise rebuttals of Bush's points (or rather, lack of them).
The other big plus for Kerry had nothing to do with what was said, though - he simply looked more "presedential". The agreement between the two parties dictated that there would be no reaction shots of the non-speaker, but many of the networks ignored this, and showed the two candidates split screen. I didn't see the split screens on the BBC coverage, but I could see from the long shots that Kerry was upright and confident throughout, and Bush looked severely brow-beaten, often slumped over his lectern and looking extremely pissed off.
Kerry only landed one real hit on Bush...
"Kerry: "The president just said something extraordinarily revealing. ... In answer to your question about Iraq and sending people into Iraq, he just said, 'The enemy attacked us.' Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al-Qaida attacked us..."
Bush: "First of all, of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that"
...but the overall impression was the thing. Kerry was statesmanlike, if a bit dull; Bush was a mess from about 10 minutes in. And all this on a debate in what is supposedly Bush's strong suit, foreign policy. Bush tried hard to hammer home the flip-flopper message, but never really landed a punch.
Obviously, I'm extremely biased, but every single poll says Kerry won the debate, and the pundits are unanimous that it was a bad day for Bush - even Fox pundits have conceded he fluffed it. (I'd post a link to their website, but the fucker's crashed my PC twice already this morning).
Basically, it was worth staying up for."
Kerry was adjudged the winner by pretty much everybody present. Bush looked rattled, Rove looked rattled, and as the story above this one attests, certain sections of the US media are very, very rattled indeed.
It will be a few days before this filters through to the election polls, but it can only have had a positive effect on the Kerry campaign. He'd been clawing back some of the ground lost during the Republican Convention prior to last night; with a heavy victory scored over Bush, most commentators are now calling the race as neck and neck again. The one dissenting voice, worryingly, is William Hill, who still have Bush as a 1/2 favourite (against Kerry's 6/4), but these odds have tightened slighltly since last night, and I'm sure they're only going to get tighter as the post-debate polls roll in.
All things considered, yesterday was a good day.
The death of a party, and local isshoos
Oh, what a fabulous day yesterday was. Before the main course of Bush v Kerry (patience, I'm getting to that bit), there was the small matter of the Hartlepool by-election. As by-elections go, this ranked as one of the most interesting in living memory, taking place (at most) eight months before the General Election, in one of the country's most infamous wards. Infamous for two reasons - firstly, this was the town which elected a man in a monkey costume, called H'Angus, as Mayor. (Here's an explanation of Hartlepool's strange relationship with monkeys). Secondly, this was the constituency which most recently elected Peter Mandelson, and since Mandy upped sticks and decamped to Brussels, this traditionally safe Labour seat was up for grabs. It would prove to be a fascinating bell-weather for the upcoming election.
There were two battles here. On the main stage, Labour and the Liberal Democrats fought it out toe to toe, in a campaign dominated by just two words - Jody Dunn (the Lib Dem candidate) had the word "hospital", and Iain Wright, (the Labour pupp... candidate) had the word "local". Here's an extract from an excellent Guardian piece which illustrates just how unbelievably, relentlessly local Mr. Wright is...
Wright has been a councillor for three years, so has his own record to stand on. Supposing he were elected on Thursday, I asked him what he thought he would be remembered for on the council.
"I think I'd say, being courteous and responsive to local issues. I've tried to be as local a councillor as possible."
But apart from being local, what else did he offer? The question seemed to throw him. "Well, I'm local-"
But so was the taxi driver outside - and many of the names rejected by the NEC. If he excluded being local, could he describe his other qualities?
"Well you see I don't think you can exclude it. You see, I'll live in the town." But Blair is seldom in Sedgefield, and presumably he didn't think the prime minister ought not be its MP. He looked blank.
"I think I'm bright." He paused. "I think I'm articulate. I've been to university. I can string a sentence together." Then he relapsed. "I think it's absolutely fantastic that one of our own could be going to parliament on Thursday."
Could he name a single Labour party policy he would be willing to argue against in parliament? "That's a difficult one." He thought about it. "I would say on a whole range of issues, like the economy, like education, like foreign policy, the Labour government is moving in the right direction."
Meanwhile, Ms. Dunn said Hospital a lot. Hartlepool's hospital was facing closure, and the battle to save it was the single political issue which dominated the campaign. Dunn wanted to save it, but evidently not enough - her HOSPITAL mantra was not enough to defeat Wright's LOCAL voodoo, and the Labour man just about held onto this cast-iron Labour stronghold... despite a 19% swing to the Liberal Democrats.
Oh, and just how un-local was Ms. Dunn? She was born and bred in a village 25 miles away. Clearly an interloper, and not to be trusted. Mind you, neither is Wright, who according to reports (see that Grauniad article above) is despised by his constituency party, and will be deselected at the General Election. Judging from his acceptance speech, the boy (he looks pre-pubescent) isn't too bright anyway, and devoted his moment of triumph to the shouting of insults and gloating. Didn't make for good TV. But at least he's local...
A mildly depressing result then, if only in that it allowed Labour to proclaim a decidedly hollow victory (Labour pundits were desperately trying to gloss over the fact that their majority was all but decimated). But what of the other battle in Hartlepool? Here was a consolation to take the edge off of any disappointment at the main result...
While Hospital Dunn and Local Wright scrapped it out for the big prize, there was a micro-election taking place below stairs between the Conservatives and those charming folks from the UK Independence Party. The Tories had taken second place in Hartlepool at the '97 election, (a very distant second behind the Mandelson Machine, but still second), but when the time came to count up the ballots, it was pretty clear that they would be lucky to scrape third place in front of the odious single issue racist lunatics. Indeed, the announcement was delayed for an hour because a recount was demanded, not to see who had won, but to see who had suffered the ignominy of finishing fourth.
Hilariously, the Tories and UKIP scraped just over 6000 votes between them, with UKIP holding the lion's share by a margin of about 200. As the Lib Dem's Simon Hughes pointed out in the BBC studios, this was the first time the Tories had slipped from second (or first) in a general election to fourth in a by-election, making this THE WORST BY-ELECTION RESULT IN THE TORY PARTY'S HISTORY. And that's a very, very long time.
So, is it too early to predict the death of Her Majesty's Opposition? The self-styled "Party of Government" would certainly argue that a seat like Hartlepool is not a place to measure the national mood; it's a town where the vast majority of constituents elect Monkeys (as well as hang them) before they'd even think of voting Tory. Tories will tell you that their support in the true blue South of England is holding firm. Indeed, many opinion polls support this theory, but it's hard to ignore the fact that Michael Howard is polling worse than the leader he deposed, and that almost all of the supporters Labour are losing are flocking to the Liberal Democrats, not the Tories. Meanwhile, for all their comical behaviour, UKIP are proving to be a force in the polls; they've maintained their momentum from the European elections, and although they are single issue racist lunatics, the single issue they campaign on is one which will resonate with right-wing fruitloops throughout the country.
Perhaps that lovable rogue Nicholas "Fatty" Soames (Shadow Defence Minister, and a man so large that an ex-girlfriend described sex with him thus - "Imagine lying in bed when suddenly the wardrobe topples over and falls on top of you with the key still in the lock") gave the best description of the Tory performance when he described the result as, and I quote -
I haven't stopped laughing since. Bye, Tories. Byeeeeeeeeee!
Hello again. It's hard work maintaining this furious level of blogging activity, I can tell you. In truth, I've been finding it increasingly hard to maintain any kind of sustained interest in politics over the last year or so - nothing's been happening.
Well, apart from the continuing success story of Iraq, the Hutton Report, the Butler Report, the never-ending power struggles between Tony and Gordon, the madness of 'King Blunkett, the Democratic presedential nomination race, the US Convention season and the UK Conference season. Apart from that, nothing.
OK, so I've been busy, and in truth, more than a little burned out by Iraq. The build up to the war, and the lies that surrounded it, were so intense that I must have expended my bothered-reserves. Well, after moving out of London to the Isle Of Wight, and spending the majority of 2004 mooching about on beaches and pursuing other similarly high-powered, can-do activities, I am now bothered again. Quite very bothered, in fact.
Top of the list of things which are bothering me is, of course, the impending US Election. Less than a month to go, now, and things are getting interesting. I stayed up until 4.30 am last night watching the first Presedential debate (more on that above), which was a fairly clear indication that I am officially... bothered. And when that's out of the way, the General Election here will take place sometime before the 7th of June. Excitement.
Bearing this in mind, I took a long, hard look at this here blog, and decided most of it was rubbish. Which it was. About 75% of it has been mercilessly excised, and I'm not especially pleased with the content which escaped my knife, but I'm bored of clicking the delete button. Anyway, welcome to the leaner, meaner, slightly cleaner Cadmium Lemon blog, and apologies for the template. I'll be trying to fix that in due course, but in the meantime, I'd better get on with slagging off politicians...
07 June 2004
Hmm. Blogger have released a load of new templates, and some of them aren't completely revolting. I will now attempt to fix this blog.
*edit* - It works! Archives are back, and everything. Not sure why I was so upset at losing them, but there must have been a reason. I won't be updating this blog much just yet, (unless something terribly exciting happens), but you can keep track of my betting antics here - The Penny Gamblog.
20 November 2003
A quiet day on the Bush front, yesterday. He gave a speech at Whitehall, and it was a very good speech, full of empty rhetoric and overuse of the word "freedom". And some decent jokes. The media were amazed by this - (pssst - they're called speech writers...), and equally amazed that he managed to get through the speech without stumbling too often. Hooray!
Today, on the other hand, will be noisy. The big march kicks off soon (expect wildly differing estimates of the number of attendees - "organisers say 100,000, eye witnesses say more, police say 63 people and a dog" - is the usual form here), and already we've had ludicrous security overkill as Georgie visits Westminster Abbey, leading to the Houses Of Parliament being shut down. The goons were probably paranoid after seen Frank Dobson's beard. And I bet they weren't expecting Dennis Skinner...
More later, I'm sure.