Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Welcome back, USA, to your rightful position as inspiration to the rest of the world. You have restored our faith in you and your ideals, quite simply by moving back towards them. Because when most people in the rest of the world question the USA, it’s not because we are questioning the ideals, but rather whether America’s actions are consistent with these ideals. And on Tuesday, you took a giant leap towards these ideals.

I didn’t post yesterday because I had to stay up until 4am UK time to watch the moment in history and thus got only five hours sleep. I have been lucky in my shortish stay on this earth to witness a few great moments in history – the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid, the end of Northern Ireland’s Troubles – and that moment was right up there with them. It brought tears to the eyes of both my wife Meri and me. And it wasn’t just us – the entire presenting team of ITV News choked up at some point (except for poor Bill Neely, stuck in the McCain party and looking freaked out by their refusal to relay Obama victories to the crowd). John Irvine at Grant Park could hardly contain himself – He looked like he had been drinking with some college students and was ready to surf across the crowd.

And of course everybody over there was emotional with good reason. It was amazing to watch Jesse Jackson (who had been so critical of Obama previously) overcome by the enormity of what was happening. On Tuesday the American People made a massive choice. You chose hope over fear, unity over division, excellence over mediocrity, positivity over negativity. This truly was the people’s election and restored the faith of people around the world in American Democracy, giving us all hope that things will work out in the future and for that I thank you.

If you’re still undecided, firstly make up your freakin’ mind!!! There’s less than forty-eight hours left!!! After 20 months, countless debates, numerous interviews and millions of ads, what more needs to be said?? Anyway, hopefully this list, compiled with my wife Meri (http://merihayden.wordpress.com) will swing it for you – if it doesn’t nothing will.  

1. Obama’s awesome jumpshot

2. Joe Biden has the whitest teeth on the planet

3. Neither one is Sarah Palin

4. Obama would never mix up a French-Canadian radio host with Nicolas Sarkozy

5. Obama looks like a GQ model (settle down Meri! – Sam)

6. Wardrobe budget will be considerably less

7. Between Obama’s booming voice and Biden’s intense eyes, they’ll scare the crap out of Bin Laden

8. Frees up Palin and McCain to pursue their own successful careers in TV and radio sketch shows

9. Keynesian plans to grow the economy from the bottom up (lighten up Sam!-Meri)

10. It’ll be a complete lurvefest

So McCain and Palin have decided on a new line attack on Barack Obama – that his policies are Socialist – and like their other attacks just a cursory look at the facts should debunk this. So let’s see what they’ve tried before:

1. His middle name is Hussein and his last name is nearly Osama, thus he must be dodgy – turns out, this is what is widely known (although maybe only in liberal Anti-American circles) as a COINCIDENCE!!

2. He’s a Muslim, although obviously a pretty rubbish one, as he kept making a wrong turn into a Christian church for decades.

3. He attended to a radical, jihadist madrassa in Indonesia. However when one of the British news networks went there, the staff and students were all nice and friendly, we learned that they were respectful of his Non-Muslim status, although during Islamic religious studies he and other non-Muslims went to another room to catch up on their studies, and that they all wished him well (there goes number 2).

4. He’s dangerously inexperienced on foreign policy, yet in his debates with McCain he more than held his own on this area…and now Colin Powell has backed him.

5. He’s in league with America-hating terrorists…well, one actually, and his terrorism acts occurred when Obama was eight…and he’s been lecturing at a major university for twenty years…and they weren’t really in league with each other, they served on the board of the same charity…and that charity was set up by a member of the Reagan Administration…and Palin has much stronger ties with the America-hating secessionists of the Alaska Independence Party.

So how about the Socialism claims…well I don’t know, you go ask a middle-aged Eastern European whether an increase in tax on people earning over $250,000 from 36% to 39% equates to their experience of Totalitarian Socialism and watch them roll on the floor laughing. Oh My God, tax rates for the rich will go back to the levels they were at under Comrade Ronald Reagan!

Seriously, there is no country in the western world which is either purely capitalist or purely socialist. The US has socialized police, fire services, education and many other important (and perhaps some not so important government programs) while other countries like Germany, France, Britain and Canada manage to combine a Universal Health Care system and strong social safety net with a functioning market economy. And seeing that the eight-year experiment with extreme deregulation and deep (and unaffordable) tax cuts hasn’t exactly worked out as planned, perhaps it’s understandable if the good citizens of the USA aren’t completely freaked about a modest shuffle to the Left.

In recent days Barack Obama’s lead in polls has tightened somewhat-for example the Gallup Daily has seen margin reduced from eleven points to seven. It’s still a winning lead but with two and a half weeks left to Election Day, with more attacks to come from the Republicans and considering he’s held a lead on two or three occasions before only to see it fritter away within days, it’s time to ask:

Over on www.pollster.com the excitement is palpable. There is near euphoria amongst the mainly Democratic posters. States are being switched from red to yellow and from yellow to blue seemingly by the hour. Florida (!) has gone from Lean McCain to Lean Obama in a matter of days. From a situation a couple of weeks ago where the trend estimates for Electoral College Votes was nearly even, they now show a lead of landslide proportions for Obama – states totalling 320 EVs either Strong or Lean Obama with states totalling 55 votes still marked as toss-up and with Obama gaining in them. The Gallup daily tracker shows Obama finally maintaining a lead.

However, they say a week is a long time in politics and there’s four weeks left to polling day – basically at least half an eon. I went to bed four years ago here in the UK comforted by the sounds of pollsters and pundits acclaiming John Kerry the 44th President of the USA and woke up to Four More Years. It’s a long way to those polling booths and a lot can happen in the next four weeks. Obama will have to survive two more debates (you’re probably already settling in for the first) and more importantly a lot of character assassination-as I said last night the gloves are off.

McCain is probably pretty well down to his base at the moment and Obama isn’t likely to make any more significant gains. So he has to hold onto what I’m going to call the Susceptible Centre. These are the people wooed by George Bush in 2000 with promises of large tax cuts and scared into voting for him in 2004. They may be comfortable telling pollsters how much they like Obama now, but may get cold feet closer to the election.

However I don’t want to be a Merchant of Doom – I just don’t want people who support Obama and Biden to get carried away and presumptive. It is still Obama’s election to lose and so far he hasn’t put a major step wrong. As regards his VP choice Joe Biden may be correct in saying that yes, Hilary Clinton may be better qualified for the office but after the debate Biden v Palin seems like a much more clear-cut option than Hilary v Giuliani, Huckabee or Pawlenty, even if all it means is that the focus stays primarily on Obama and McCain. Obama has successfully managed to swiftly deflect attacks from the Republicans (as opposed to Kerry in 2004) without having to stoop to smearing himself (although I do acknowledge he may have to become more aggressive in the coming weeks). His campaign is very organized on the ground in battleground states. That Susceptible Centre I mentioned hasn’t been quite as susceptible so far this time around – perhaps they’ve become jaded by too many petty Republican tactics.

So the election is still there for the taking for the Democrats – they just have to remain focused because you don’t want to be on the road to Pennsylvania Avenue only to crash in Virginia.

How could I have written about this last night and forgotten:

10. THE BRIDGE TO NOWHERE!!!!

Lazy, I know, but it’s late here in Europe

Something caught my eye on the Daily Show last week. I haven’t followed the offshore drilling issue all that closely but a montage of Republican members of congress complaining about the Democrats’ proposals to only drill at least 50 miles from shore did make me laugh. In particular one congressman claimed that most offshore oil reserves were based 3-50 miles from shore. You want to drill for oil three miles from shore??!! THREE MILES!!!!! As in, clearly visible from the beach!!! What would this mean?

– On a good day, children could skim stones all the way to the platform

– There could be a new tourist attraction – swim with the dolphins under the rig

– John Kerry could windsurf out to it (by the way, how is it that if you stand on a flat board in the sea you can be called a lazy beach bum – add a little sail to it and you’re an out of touch elitist)

– It wouldn’t require an oil spill to close the beach, just a worker dropping a dirty rag over the side

– If the Olympics were awarded to a nearby city, they could use the rig as the marker for the swim portion of the triathlon

– On the upside, if there was a hurricane, one returning resident, on finding their house destroyed, could bed down on Exxon platform 83