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Author Page for Dave Brockington

Born in San Jose, grew up in Seattle, received a Ph.D. in poli sci from University of Washington, worked for three years at Universiteit Twente in Enschede, Netherlands, and have worked at the University of Plymouth for eight academic years now in Plymouth, United Kingdom.

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Teenage Runaways Need to Up Their Game

[ 0 ] December 21, 2009 |

Because there’s running away from home, and there’s sailing away from home.

OK, technically, they’re not sure how she transported from The Netherlands to the Dutch Antilles, but I would think that it’s somewhat difficult for a 13/14 year old to just up and buy a KLM ticket and board without any indication that this is approved by a parent / guardian / the state.
Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that Laura Dekker could withdraw €3,500 from her personal bank account. When I was 13 (or 14, as The Guardian reports her age to be) I didn’t have a personal bank account, let alone €3,500 to put in or take out of it. Hell, come to think of it, I don’t have that now.

British Party Leaders to Have Three Debates

[ 0 ] December 21, 2009 |
Because apparently nobody watches the weekly PM’s Question Time.

This is a good idea in general, but a bad idea for Gordon Brown and Labour. As his approval ratings are trailing those of his party, and likewise he is trailing David Cameron, I’m not sure how this will help him. Especially as a lot of his negatives are tied to his personality, not his policies.

I expect that if it adds anything to Cameron’s chances (growing somewhat after having dipped for a few weeks) it will solidify and reassure the support of those who voted Labour or Lib Dem in 97, 01, and 05. The real winner here could be Nick Clegg, because a) nobody knows who the hell he is at the moment, b) like Cameron, the five people who have heard of Nick Clegg have no idea what the hell he or his party stand for, and c) he will appeal in contrast to Gordon Brown even if he fails to utter a single word all night.
I also anticipate that these debates will be of a vastly superior quality to their American inspirations, both in terms of the type of questions asked as well as the directness of the responses. But I’ll miss the Palinesque moments . . .
. . . and I do look forward to the British reaction to their first ever debates, wondering how soon, and how often, some media turd will bemoan yet another Yank import sullying the culture, like Halloween and a currency that one can divide by 100.

Random Text Exchange of the Day

[ 0 ] December 18, 2009 |

Yesterday, I received a text on my US cell that read:

“Hi, I need your address xoxo.”
Fairly certain that it wasn’t from a creditor, yet completely uncertain about the source (the area code is south western Florida, and I don’t think I know anybody who lives there) I replied:
“Uhh, I’m not sure I know you.”
In English, that is usually perceived as an invitation to supply a name or something similar, right? This is what I received in response (names changed to protect the guilty):
“Love, I have had Track in the hospital i’ve never been so tired i’m broke n Todd and I are over”.
This mystery was followed by a picture message, which I can’t view as I use an ancient phone for my US cell that I originally obtained while still living in Holland back in 2002.
I’ve only had this US number for about six months or so, and I don’t circulate it all that widely, so I’m 99.99% confident that I don’t know this person. If it was my British mobile, maybe it was from someone whose number I deleted five years ago or something, but this is a mystery to me. The previous owner of my number didn’t exactly notify all of her people that her number had changed, so I received a string of calls for her for about two months. This may be of that genre.
At least Cliff Lee is still a Mariner, there’s a rumored Carlos Silva – Milton Bradley swap in the works as well (will the brilliance never cease?), and I’m eating Christmas cookies for breakfast, so some semblance of sense still remains in the universe.


[ 0 ] December 18, 2009 |

usually it’s the Michele Bachmanns and Glenn Becks of the world who afford me with soft, juicy targets, but the bloody BBC?

And watch in stunned silence as Liliane Landor, the BBC World Service acting head of Africa region, tries to cover her ass: “The programme was a dignified exchange between people who have differing beliefs”.

This isn’t even on the road approaching the suburbs of dignified.

At least both my license fee and the Foreign Office funded this exchange, so I have the pleasure of having paid for it twice.

Random Musings about Baseball, College Students Having Sex, and Airlines.

[ 0 ] December 16, 2009 |
I’d really like to say a few things about the Cliff Lee to Seattle trade, but Scott already put it out there, and as per usual, USS Mariner have it covered.

The New York Post has a newsflash: Columbia University students can now “live in sin – on their parents’ dime.” Because, as we know, college students would never have had premarital sex until the advent of co-ed dorm rooms. This changes everything!

The Times, of course, has a more balanced take. Rather unlike this one commenter to the Post article: “Let’s keep looking into the future. How long would it take for another outrageous move, like government passing a law that would allow a brother and sister to get married?”
I thought that was already legal in some unnamed states?
Seriously, as my partner pointed out, is this really all that radical, or is Columbia simply acknowledging what has been going on informally for, well, generations? (One of the arguments in favor of co-ed rooms is that best friends can share, even if they are of the opposite sex. Had me and said partner done that 22 years ago, perhaps we would have fast-forwarded things. Probably not, that would have been living in sin! Unlike now of course.)
While speaking about sex, the mind naturally wanders to the French. I have a new favorite airline: Air France. When I moved to Holland nine years ago, I tied myself to Northwest / KLM, due in large part to NW 33 / 34, which is (was) a direct flight between SEA and AMS (and until 2003, on ancient DC-10s) Mileage programs create a seductive incentive: always fly that carrier or the carriers in their alliance, as once you get status, it’s difficult to fly anything else, even if you have to pay a modest premium to remain tied to your carrier of choice. Also, living in Amsterdam made it hellishly convenient to go pretty much anywhere.
Fast forward to life in England. When Air France bought KLM, I was concerned, but more of the “better the devil you know” framework. When Delta bought Northwest, I was very concerned, especially after my grim experience flying through Atlanta this past October. So this trip, flying out of Bristol, I ended up on Air France on the outward leg (BRS-CDG-SEA-PDX) and Northwest home (PDX-SEA-AMS-BRS). It’s probably cliche, but the food on Air France was terrific — the best airline food I’ve had since flying Air Cubana a dozen years ago. It came with a menu. In coach. A menu that changes every couple of weeks, which is refreshing after having been fed the same crap on Northwest for two years.
Did I mention that the food was good? Fresh salmon and tomato starter, the beef ragout with mustard sauce was good, even if it came out of a microwave, the Camembert was a nice touch, and the chocolate tart for dessert was delicious. The wine kept flowing, and the flight attendant, when clearing the food service, asked me if I wanted another red wine (without my prompting) to which I said yes, of course; he then added “and I should think you want a cognac to go with that?”
This is my kind of airline. The flight attendants were, well, attentive, unlike the stoic (and downright bitter during the bankruptcy and then merger period) Northwest crews, the blunt, methodically efficient KLM crews, or the generally absent Delta crews. They even served champagne in coach, kept the wine flowing happily, and were charming and amiable.
This all made me nearly forget that my bag didn’t make the connection at CDG, or that we hit a patch of the worst turbulence I’ve experienced (the scary bad thank god for the seatbelt and this wine oh crap is the plane really supposed to do this? sort of turbulence) that couldn’t help but remind me of that Air France A330 (same type as I was on) that didn’t quite make it over the Atlantic this past June.
My bag was on to something, I figure. It knew about the impending nastiness of the flight, and opted instead to remain behind in an airport bar in Paris. To Air France’s credit, when I arrived in SEA, they knew my bag hadn’t made it, were prepared, took my details, and it arrived here in Oregon 24 hours later. Class.
Unfortunately, Air France did not supply me with a free sample for this post.

The Point Being Exactly What, Again?

[ 0 ] December 15, 2009 |

From Oregon, I’ve been reading with befuddlement the noises that Gordon Brown might call an early election. Maybe it’s jet lag, but it seems to me that the time to have called an early election was July 2007. Rumor has it he’s considering 25 March, which is only six weeks in advance of the assumed date (to correspond with local elections in early May) and not all that far in advance of the latest possible date for an election (5 June I believe).

It’s obvious that one calls an early “snap” election when it disproportionately advantages your side. For Labour in early (as opposed to mid) 2010, I can only imagine three possible scenarios that would marginally advantage Labour (as opposed to disproportionately advantage). First, they assume that the current, vague trend towards Labour will continue, but hit a ceiling. Second, they assume that things are only going to get progressively worse, and calling an election sooner will at least maintain Labour as the official opposition. Third, they assume that the Tories are not prepared for an election. Or . . . fourth . . . they know that there will be thermonuclear bad news released between 25 March and 6 May. Considering the state of the British economy, the structural problems involved and concomitant threats of the credit agencies to downgrade the rating of the state debt, this scenario is not as far-fetched as it seems.
Of course, when David Cameron hails Simon Cowell and suggests that there is something that politicians can learn from this “incredibly talented” man, perhaps it isn’t too soon to call a snap election.
UPDATE: It was the Tories spreading the rumor. This makes more sense.

A Couple Random Soccer Bits

[ 0 ] December 10, 2009 |

As the USA and England are renewing their bitter competitive rivalry after a 60 year hiatus (not counting friendlies), the NYT reprises the 1950 World Cup match won by the USA, 1-0.

I’m going to love being in England for the England v USA WC match. Just love it.
Landon Donovan appears set for a three-month loan move to Everton. As regular readers know, I naturally support this.
I’m probably going to be largely inactive over the next few days, as on Saturday morning I depart for a month in the USA, and have a sea of lectures to give between then and now. The only lengthy layover I have on this itinerary is at SEA, eagerly awaiting a wee little Horizon flight down to PDX that was originally forecast to deposit me in the midst of an ice storm. At least I’ll have a long spell on board an Air France A330 across the Atlantic to consider that flight, which will get my mind off of the less-than-perfect record those AF A330s have going across the Atlantic.

Next British Election May Not Comply With European Court of Human Rights Law

[ 0 ] December 9, 2009 |

and not because the Tories may win, or even that the election may result in a hung parliament.

Rather, the EUCouncil of Europe is upset that the UK has been delaying the enactment of a 2005 European Court of Human Rights judgment that it is inconsistent with human rights law to disenfranchise convicted prisoners.
Come on, Britain, if Maine, Vermont, and even Canada can do this, so too can you.
Seriously, this places the lifetime voting ban of convicted felons, a grotesque anti-democratic practice of 14 U.S. states (according to Wikipedia . . . 11 of which, shockingly, are located in the South; I’m certain race does not factor into this policy whatsoever) in context. Of course, as this is state jurisprudence, felon enfranchisement law varies; I am having a difficult time confirming the wiki numbers. However, let it be duly noted that a resident of Mississippi convicted of timber larceny (whatever the hell that is) permanently banned from voting. This heinous crime doesn’t appear to be on the Alabama list, so I’d recommend crossing the border and setting up home in Alabama after release . . . but beware of committing treason (against the U.S.A.? The C.S.A.? The State of Alabama?) because that will blacklist you there.
A number of states require the convicted, and released, felon to appeal to the governor for a full pardon or clemency in order to enjoy the restoration of their voting rights. I guess that’s because in a number of states the governor doesn’t have anything better to do than determine, on a case-by-case basis, the fitness of his or her citizens to cast a ballot.
In attempting to understand how prisoners are treated for apportionment purposes, I found no clear guidelines, but I did find this observation:
“The American incarcerated population, 2,212,475 persons strong, is larger than the population of the fourth-largest city in the United States, commands a greater population than fifteen individual states, and contains more people than the three smallest states combined. If the incarcerated population of the United States were a state of its own, it would qualify for five Electoral College votes.”

And two U.S. Senators!

According to this source, 5.3 million Americans are denied the franchise due to past or current felony status. Again I’m stunned to note that there’s a race element involved:
African-Americans in particular were disproportionately disenfranchised and living in states where disenfranchisement is permanent even after a felon completes their sentence. Today, an estimated thirteen percent of black men are unable to vote due to a felony conviction.

13%. This is bonkers.
But at least the Europeans (and Canadians!) have a handle on the issue. Those wacky Europeans. What the hell will they dream up next as a human right, I wonder?

World Cup draw Part II

[ 1 ] December 6, 2009 |

I largely agree with everything that Paul has written, and the comments thread off of that one is excellent. Having had my daughter for the last three days, I’ve not had an opportunity to do much of, well, anything beyond pay her attention and acquiesce to her three-year old demands, so now that I have a moment, I’ll offer some comments.

I’ll take this group by group, and go out on a limb and predict the qualifiers (in order), and then have a bit more to say about our [*] chances at the end, tomorrow.
Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France.
Prediction: Mexico, France.
This group has been underrated, especially by the French media. Yes, S.A. are not so good, and in the international media they are two names, in this order: Pienaar and McCarthy. But I own a Kaizer Chiefs jersey so I figure I should defend these guys (the Chiefs were in Durban the same time I was; they for a match, me for a conference, they checked in as I checked out, and I said hey, can I? Couldn’t tell the lads that I really wanted an Orlando Pirates jersey, could I?) SA will have the home side advantage, and as Paul notes, the host side has pretty much always made it out of the group stage. Second, there is talent there. I know this kid probably will only see garbage time, but a name to remember is Claasen. Plays for Jonge Ajax. If I remember anything from my three years in Amsterdam and Holland, it’s that Ajax still have one of the best youth academies on the planet.
All that said, they don’t qualify. Why Mexico over France? Having watched both legs of an above average Ireland side against France, the latter were out played. France aren’t France any longer. Furthermore, and critically as any Yank knows, altitude matters. Mexico are conditioned and used to playing in Azteca Stadium. I haven’t looked at the fixtures that close, but the critical match in this group, France v Mexico, is at altitude.
Our rivals to the south take this group. And Uruguay don’t suck either, even though they did a France themselves to get past Costa Rica in the playoff.
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece.
Prediction: Argentina, Greece.
This is a tough group on several levels. First, who manages Argentina? If it’s the original Hand of God, he has, as one British broadsheet said yesterday, an inimitable ability to make a good side look crap. Give Messi, Aimar, et al. a proper manager, they top the group easy. But it gets a bit more complicated below Argentina. Greece are not what they were in Euro 2004. But then Nigeria also aren’t what they once were. These days, the Super Eagles have Nwankwo Kanu leading the side (and the front line), with the still emerging talent of Mikel Obi as the future. Any Arsenal fan will have an opinion on the soon-to-be relegated Kanu. I don’t see Nigeria being what they once were. I suspect that South Korea finish third ahead of Nigeria, and it’s not because Celtic signed Ki Sung-Yong. There’s more talent in every position on this side, whereas Nigeria seem to be isolating their value in a few key players.
Group C: England, United States, Algeria, Slovenia.
Prediction: England, United States.
Right. Don’t underestimate Slovenia, any of you.
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana.
Prediction: Germany and Serbia (and a punt).
Germany win this group. But any of the other three can finish second. If I had to bet, I would bet on Serbia, but don’t underestimate the Australians (see 2006.) And if England finish first, and the Australians finish second, your best match of the last 16 (outside of the match the Americans are playing in) is England – Australia, just for the sheer provincial jingoistic value of it (it would be like cricket in reverse).
And Ghana may be all about Essien in the international media, but they have a reputation of being well organized in a disorganized way. Which, as a faux statistician, I can appreciate. But more critically, they have a lot of youth, and their kids have done well in FIFA tournaments in the past decade or so. That said, I still see them finishing last in this tough group. Serbia are that good.
It’s a tough one to call, Group D.
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon.
Prediction: Holland and Denmark.
The Oranje are not playing ‘total football’, and they’re better for it — they haven’t had a Cruyff, Neeskens, or even a van Basten in a generation or two. Hell, Bergkamp hasn’t played for the Oranje since Euro 2000. They win easily. The Ajax keeper is solid, van Bronckhorst only gets better with age, van Bommel has peaked but is still useful, hopefully van Persie is fit, and the rest, man, we wish we had this side. Denmark have a core of talent that has peaked under excellent management — allowing Martin Olsen to manage the side since . . . when? 2000. This has instilled a sense of stability, and considering, superficially, the relatively thin side talent-wise, this is impressive. They topped Portugal and Sweden (and an impressive Hungary side) in qualification. Japan always play well, and are smattered with some talent (Nakamura, who plays for Espanyol, has the best free kick on the planet, Beckham be damned, but then I am a Celtic supporter), but aren’t up to the Danes. Cameroon have to be a dark horse here. Look at their squad on Wiki, and you’ll see if I am not mistaken, aside from two poor souls who play for Spurs, they each play at different top flight clubs in the top five leagues (aside from the few stragglers who are playing for clubs in Turkey (2), Scotland (N’Guemo has the misfortune of playing for Tony Mowbray at Celtic), Austria and Switzerland). A lot of quality in that side.
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia.
Prediction: Italy, Paraguay.
Italy are old, over rated, and I dislike them with a passion I would normally hold in reserve for Rangers. But this group is a cakewalk. Slovakia are touted in the European media, because of their group performance. But let’s look at that closely. Who were in that group:
Czech Republic
Norn Iron
The Mountaintop (San Marino)
I know I gave Slovenia some cred above, but that’s based on their playoff performance against a real side: Russia. This group ought to have resulted in the Czechs and Poland, but both sides were fragile and thin. And as much as I love Northern Ireland and David Healy et al., let’s be realistic: Norn Iron gave this group a respectable run. If the Northern Irish are giving your group a run, it’s not a strong group. There is some quality in Slovakia, especially at the back, but I don’t see them going through.
Paraguay, on the other hand, took four points out of six from Argentina in qualification, won at home and lost away with Brazil (but the goal differential was in Paraguay’s favor: 3-2), lost at home to Chile 0-2 yet won away 3-0 . . . I have to go with Paraguay for second here.
Who was the fourth side in this group? Oh right. The All Whites. Who wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for Australia’s defection to Asia. If their playoff hero is one Rory Fallon, of my local side Plymouth Argyle (who have been in the relegation zone all season of the English second tier) and one of their best players is Chris Killen, of Celtic (who rarely sees the pitch), you’re in trouble. They do have Ryan Nelson, who allegedly plays respectfully for Blackburn Rovers . . .
Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Cote D’Ivoire, Portugal.
Prediction: Brazil (going out on a limb here I am), Cote D’Ivoire.
The so called group of death. It isn’t. It’s not as though every tournament every year requires a group of death. In 2006, Italy, USA, Czech Republic, Ghana, now that was a group of death. On paper, at least until Arena’s side played, there was no pushover. Everybody should get 3 from our nuclear-eneabled friends of the Axis of Evil. Unless Kim calls in an airstrike.
Why Cote D’Ivoire and not Portugal? I’d like to say it’s because the Ivory Coast had a much more impressive qualification run than Portugal did, but let’s be honest: they didn’t. Portugal had a more difficult path, until the playoffs, where they barely managed to get past Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is gut instinct here, Portugal are over-rated, I have a dislike for one Ronaldo that I would normally reserve for the Kenny Millers and Barry Fergusons of the world, and I feel it’s Cote D’Ivorie’s time.
Oh, and they have a couple blokes who play up front for Chelsea.
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile.
Prediction: Spain, Chile.
Spain are Spain. The Confederations Cup blip aside, they’re currently in my (Yank) opinion, the best side on the planet. This group comes down to second, and even here, it’s an easy call. Chile performed admirably in a difficult qualification group, finishing second. As much respect as I have for the Swiss side, who have done a good job in the past several tournaments (they have a tendency to qualify . . . and I’ll leave others to exploit the obvious stereotypical cliches) their qualification run wasn’t exactly challenging. It was Greece. Whom they beat by a single point. Somehow, Luxembourg took five points out of this group.
[*] Being a beersnob of some repute, I belong to something of an ad-hoc yet exclusive international mailing list of like minded arrogant fucks (and this is as exclusive as I ever will be: a bunch of pissheads who know their way around a pint). Several of the guys (and yes, sadly, we’re all guys) on the list follow this game. So when the draw was made, I sent out an email to said list, and said something to the effect that “we can make it out of this group”. The first response was from a friend of mine who resides in Manhattan (and by virtue of his owning season tickets to the Yankees, an eternal enemy of LGM): “Who is the “we” (though I have a feeling you mean both your native and adopted lands)?”
I don’t mean both.
UPDATE: Randy Paul’s predictions at Beautiful Horizons match mine, aside from having France win their group (I predict Mexico) and swapping Chile and Switzerland . . . more people seem to be going for the Swiss, but I’m sticking to my guns.

World Cup 2010 seeds

[ 0 ] December 3, 2009 |

The seedings for Friday’s group stage draw were released yesterday.

There were some fairly significant changes from past practice. For the past three, four, or five? World Cups, a combination of past performances in the World Cup (either two or more often three tournaments back) with an index based on current, one year, and two years past FIFA rankings. For 2010, it’s the October FIFA ranking (only) combined with geography. The hosts, as is practice, are also seeded.

Teams are divided into four “pots”; each group will be populated with one team from each pot. Here they are:

Pot 1 (seeds): South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England

Pot 2 (Asia, Oceania and North/Central America): Representing Asia: Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia; Oceania: New Zealand; CONCACAF: United States, Mexico, Honduras

Pot 3 (Africa and South America): Africa: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria; S. America: Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay

Pot 4 (Unseeded Europe): France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia

The logic is the “best” eight sides are kept apart in the group stage, and no two teams from the same confederation will meet in the group stage (thus making my dream match of South v North Korea highly unlikely) except for Europe — there will be five groups with two European teams.

Hence, by selecting what FIFA believe to be the top eight sides, even though those top eight sides are not directly related to their own sketchy monthly rankings, and ensuring that those eight sides are placed in eight different group, the odds are significantly enhanced that those eight will make it through to the knock-out stages.

This doesn’t always happen of course; France finishing last in its group in 2002 is a clear memory, but all eight seeded sides did progress in 2006, but it does sharply reduce the odds of, say, an Algeria v North Korea quarter final (but imagine the TV ratings back in Pyongyang).

There are, as usual when it comes to FIFA, some idiosyncrasies. Neither France nor Portugal are seeded, even though they both are (currently) ranked higher than England. I don’t think France are all that any longer, but Portugal did knock England out at the quarter finals of both the 2006 WC and the 2004 European Championships. BBC Radio 5 Live suggested this morning that the French are being punished for the Ireland tie. What has not gone reported is that the seeds were based on the October, not November, rankings, in order to mitigate any built in advantage that teams involved in playoffs (as opposed to friendlies) during the month of November might have enjoyed.

Which is a different way of saying “FIFA sleight of hand”. The only two teams in the top seven in November are Portugal (5th) and France (7th). Neither Argentina nor England would have been seeded.

What does this mean for the USA tomorrow? It’s going to be grim, regardless; put the Confederations Cup performance away (which was uneven in any event). There are several best / worst case scenarios out there in blogosphere, but before we get too depressed, The Times has this worst case scenario for England:

a worst-case scenario would still involve them being drawn in the same group as France, Ivory Coast and the United States.

How sweet of the English media to suggest that the USA are in their own personal group of death. For the US, placing the CONCACAF and Asian and Oceania teams in the same pot means that we can not draw any of them — this screws us as it’s the weakest of the four pots; while ruling out the North v South Korea match, this also rules out the USA v North Korea match (remember France 1998 against Iran? I’d rather I didn’t as well).

Prost Amerika suggests these best / worst cases:

Best Case Scenario: Argentina, USA, Algeria, Switzerland.
Worst Case Scenario: Spain, USA, Ivory Coast, France.

I’d rather draw South Africa from the first pot, but that would rule out Algeria from the third. It’s a worthy trade off I think, so this is my best / worst case scenario:

Best: South Africa, USA, Paraguay, Greece (or Slovenia, or Switzerland . . . )
Worst: Brazil, USA, Ivory Coast, Portugal.

When it comes to drawing from the first pot, outside of the hosts they are all scary; when it comes to drawing the least dangerous of the European pot, there are several that are equally preferable to Portugal, France, or Denmark.

I will be discussing the resulting draw at some point this weekend, possibly even tomorrow evening (UK time).

Now, I’m as Critical of Rabid Angry Uncivil Wingnuts as the Next Guy . . .

[ 0 ] November 30, 2009 |

at least until Michael White goes moderately Over The Top in his latest rambling, expansive Guardian piece on Friday. While LGM readers know that I am highly critical of the Wingnut approach to democracy and debate, and I don’t consider it healthy at all, I’m not about to start drawing comparisons to Ft. Sumter in 1861.

While White may largely be correct here:
It is the scale of the irrational, emotional and, dare I add, ignorant, reaction his presidency has unleashed on the American right, some of it understandable in a fast-changing and confusing world, much of it ugly and increasingly violent in tone.

But a latecomer here:
Friends keep saying: “It’s changed since you lived there, Mike.”

White lived in the US from 1984 to 1988, so, um, duh, of course it’s changed. That’s a generation. I’m willing to bet that Britain has changed since 1988 as well.

I interpret the present reaction of the right not all that differently from that unleashed by Bill Clinton. Since Reagan, the right views the White House specifically, and governance in general, as a birthright. They’re the only true Americans. Fortunately for the rest of us, most of them live in Real America. Therefore the current tone and tenor of debate from the right doesn’t surprise me in the least — if anything they’re more scared, because whereas Bill Clinton won with only 43% of the vote, Obama did significantly better. And, Obama’s a Muslim Fascist-Communist as we all know, born, where was it? Kenya? Indonesia? That must scare the right as well.
To reiterate, unlike White I do not perceive this wave of wingnut lunacy any differently than the Clinton administration. This isn’t new. (Of course, dare I say it, we know how that ended up). Furthermore, while the faults of the United States are legion, this is true of every democracy on the planet — and hey, we didn’t give the world, and the European Parliament, Nick Griffin, who somehow weaseled his way into representing the entire EUP at the Copenhagen climate change conference. His views on climate change are reassuringly similar to his views on race relations.
But perhaps I should have more time for White and his viewpoint: not only was he punched by Alastair Campbell, but he punched him back.

I’m Enjoying This

[ 0 ] November 29, 2009 |

Senator Lindsey Graham is censured by the mighty Charleston County Republican Party for — shock and horrors! — compromising with the opposition on Cap and Trade.

Now, I thought that’s what was supposed to happen in legislative bodies — compromise. Not for the Angry Republicans however. They prefer ideological purity and dictatorial governance.

Where did we last see something like that?

But don’t worry, the moderate wing of the Republican Party isn’t interested in compromising on their conservative credentials, if Marvin Rogers, 33, is representative at all:

“I’m not asking anyone to be any less conservative — please don’t,” Mr. Rogers said. “But be more civil in communicating that conservative message. Don’t get on TV talking about ‘The president’s a racist.’ Don’t get on the radio talking about Waterloos.”

Civility. A civil right wing in the U.S. Now that would be something.

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