Electricity & Lust


Posted in Politics, Sam by Sam Unsted on November 1, 2008

Check out our new blog Politalking, taking all politics and current affairs related news in bitesize chunks from around the internet.





Obama Gets Backing from Iran

Posted in Politics by Sam Unsted on October 23, 2008

From The Guardian:

A top Iranian official has said Barack Obama is the favoured candidate of Tehran, calling him more “rational” than John McCain in remarks that could be used against the Democratic US presidential hopeful.

Well, maybe its not the best possible endorsement for Middle American nuts who still think he’s a Muslim, but doesn’t just further suggest that all this lack of foreign policy experience that McCain wants to play us is just sheer bull.

Palin Power Abuse

Posted in Politics by Sam Unsted on October 11, 2008

The general consensus among Democrats over the past few weeks has been that Obama needs to go on the offensive, the counter the Republican attack machine and prevent himself from being saturated by overblown scandal and downright lies which sway the dumb voter and give the White House to the Republicans. I’ve always felt a better idea, and perhaps the one he has been using, is to allow them to just destroy themselves, give McCain and Palin the space to make their ridiculous comments and make their unsubstantiated attacks on him and just let the water flow clean under the bridge.

Today, that plan of attack appears to have had some credibility as Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was found to have abused her power as Alaskan governor by a State Legislature panel. The case relates to her firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, pressured by Palin and her husband, Todd, to fire Mike Wooten, a state trooper who had been involved in a custody battle with Palin’s sister. Palin had maintained he has been fired due to a budgetary dispute.

The Republicans had gone on the attack with the report from the start, saying the investigation was politically motivated and brought around by supporters of Obama looking to discredit the then-very popular Palin. Whether that’s the case or not, this is an explosive story likely to have the entire weekend’s coverage to itself plus the holiday in the US on Monday as people put the market crash on Friday to the back of their minds. Having said that, the danger remains that Paulson and Co will crush the story coming out of the weekend with a new rescue plan for financial markets. The Republicans will attack hard but I can see this providing a major problems for the McCain-Palin ticket and it again gives a strong reason as to why you shouldn’t hire someone after meeting them once. Would you choose a vice presidential candidate who was in the midst of a corruption case?

Check out the story on The Huffington Post, Fox NewsBBC News and CNN with the full report here.

Here’s some early comment from Richard Lister (BBC) and I’ll try and provide some more on it tomorrow.

Political Week

Posted in Politics by Sam Unsted on October 5, 2008

The big news of the week was the debate but really, the major news, is going to be the attack machine that now gets rolling after two, if not blockbuster then definitely marginal, wins for the Democrats in the debates.

Palin has got the ball rolling with some Weather Underground accusations for Obama.

More indirectly, McCain decided the biggest issue needs to become a non-issue.

That would likely prove a problem for American families.

But no wonder, Obama’s gaining ground because of economic unrest.

He’s going after McCain on healthcare.

He’s allegedly also looking to pre-empt the attacks with a new ad.

Hillary is also helping, saying McCain is a Bush ‘mimic’.

McCain is gaining fewer options as Obama takes a stand in major battlegrounds.


Debate comment

Christopher Caldwell at The Financial Times on his fears following the debate.

Frank Rich for The New York Times on the impact of Palin’s debate performance on McCain.

Peggy Noonan at The Wall Street Journal talks about the dangers of Palin’s appeal.

Rich Lowry, the editor of the National Review but writing for The New York Post, said Palin has recovered from the Couric debacle.

Maureen Dowd, also for The New York Times, on how Palin has made the case for elitism.

Joan Vennochi at The Boston Globe says the problem for Palin is a lack of seriousness.

Mark Penn, op-ed-ing for the NY Times, questions the substance of debating.

The Washington Times even-handedly praised both candidates.

Eric Alterman on The Guardian argues against ‘folksy charm’.

The Kansas City Star has nothing but praise for Biden.

Scott Maxwell at The Orlando Sentinel says Palin has cleared the hurdle.

Anne Applebaum on The Telegraph says Palin is unlikely to impact the election at all.

Daniel Finkelstein on The Times says Palin lost by not winning.

Bill Boyarsky at Truthdig says Palin survived but the performance was not good.

Select Thoughts on the US Election

Posted in Politics by Sam Unsted on September 16, 2008

I haven’t been as closely following the election since the exit of Hillary. In the run-up to the convention, little interesting happened on either side to peak my curiosity to start back up on the train but, and it’s been a fairly significant but, the last couple of weeks have finally provided some fuel for the fire and I’m starting to really begin to read and check up on the campaigns.

The first catalyst was Obama’s speech at the convention which was pretty great, if a little short on the substance that I would have wanted. If his was short on substance and heavy policy though, McCain’s was far worse. To have a vague chance of stopping Obama, McCain will have to stop trotting out Bush-era cliches and stop making Bush-era faux pas all over the shop and refocus. Either that, or apparently he can just select a woman from Alaska he’s only met once before and who has almost no relevant experience to be his running mate and the religious right will come a-running. I wouldn’t want to get focusing on the experience angle really, given that a) that’s precisely the argument used against Obama constantly and, b) it’s a ridiculous argument from all sides because almost no job can really prepare someone for the presidency of the most powerful nation on the planet.

I don’t like Palin. Not because she’s a woman, a mother, a Christian or even, subsequently a semi-creationist. Not because of her seemingly blighted and unattractive record in the past as regards her personal dealings. Not because she seems to have flip-flopped on a few points here and there to gain currency. Not because her daughter is the perfect argument against abstinence-only or because her baby-daddy is the perfect example of a teenage father. Not even because she said that she would have made her daughter keep the baby even if it was the product of a rape. I dislike and wouldn’t vote for her on these things but I don’t hate her. I hate her because John McCain’s picking her confirms his confidence in the utter stupidity of certain parts of the voting spectrum in the US, those who will vote for her no matter her policies or beliefs, her past or her record. Those who will vote for her because she is a woman. Interviews conducted outside the DNC indicated that a great deal of people still exist who think Hillary should be president and further more who will vote for McCain now because a female is on the ticket. Her presence on the ballot provides a truly terrible section of voting foolishness to be indulged and McCain’s confidence in this makes me sad, very sad indeed.

What may play now though is a return for fundamentals. The Washington Post wrote about this today and it seems like a strong argument. Given the shocking last week and a bit in the US banking and financial services market, it seems only right that focus should begin to shift away from the tabloid gossiping and shouting of Palin and the conventions and move over the fundamentals of election politics. The economy is likely to become central and no sooner has it than McCain has stuck his foot clean in it. Strong fundamentals? He comes out and praises the resiliency of the banking market, and then slightly alters it to cover his ass, after the following things have happened.

  1. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants that guarantee somewhere in the region of $3tn of the US market, are essentially nationalised and taken under the control of the Federal Government. This effective nationalisation places the burden of these two institutions, seriously hammered by the crash of the US sub-prime market, on the taxpayer. When this happened in the UK with Northern Rock, heads rolled and Gordon Brown began his descent into being the most hated man in the country.
  2. Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest investment bank in Wall Street and an illustrious institution with a 150-year-plus history, declared bankruptcy on Monday morning. It had spent the entire past week trying to find rescue funding, eventually failing because Barclays pulled out of a buy because the government wouldn’t guarantee its liabilities. It’s bankruptcy filing has sent the FTSE and the Dow hurtling lower and today hammered shares in Asia too. It is the largest insolvency declaration ever. EVER.
  3. Merrill Lynch, another mega-investment bank, follows Lehman and Bear Stearns into finding rescue funding, selling to the Bank of America before speculators could bring it to its knees. Bank of America is paying $50bn to buy the bank and is now a super-size financial institution to rival Citigroup and HSBC. This is good in the sense that the bank has been bought and can’t help to further depress markets but it means Bank of America is now so flipping huge, it can’t really succeed.
  4. AIG, the US insurance giant long-troubled due to its place as a major insurer of financial products, went to the Fed for emergency funding. Subsequent reports are suggesting this isn’t going to work given the concerns raised by the major ratings agencies over the future of the company. If AIG collapses, which it really could, the US market will almost certainly fall into recession. The only hope now is that the two still-strong investment bank on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, will provide $75bn in emergency funding to the group.
Now if you consider all of these, and of course the inflationary pressures, the hammering taken by equities across the board and the volatility of oil prices, I don’t know how much optimism you can really have about the market. About the only folks who might well be able to find some solace in the crushing depression of the markets will be the chief executives who, although likely and deservedly heading for the chopping block, will probably see pay offs well into eight figures. If McCain feels like he wants to hold this optimism, he either knows something we don’t or knows nothing we do.
It would be wonderful if the election can now get back to the fundamentals. This will allow Joe Biden to start to flex his muscles on national security issues and allow Palin to make some terrible statements in more important stages than in the circus that surrounded her appointment. It will allow Obama to make some more great, true speeches about the issues that really face the country and maybe it will give McCain a chance to show us all the man that originally garnered so much praise as a progressive Republican. Maybe, if it really gets down to good, strong politics, we will get to see two strong candidates emerge and we can go into November without too much fear that the last eight years will be repeated.
Consider that for a moment. Consider the legacy of Bush and how badly the world cannot have that for another eight years. He will leave office with a quagmire war, a chunky deficit and a recessionary economy. We can’t have another Bush. So right now, we also can’t have a McCain.

Political Weekend

Posted in Links, Politics by Sam Unsted on July 6, 2008


Boris is coming under fire over Ray Lewis, his just-resigned deputy.

It’s really a key blow for him.

Hospital workers are being given stab-vests.

The government is asking supermarkets to stockpile food in case a petrol crisis causes a rush.

Senior CofE figures have met over the internal problems facing the organisation.

A 14-year old girl from Britain has won the junior title at Wimbledon.

Brown and King will decide how bad the UK economy gets.

Cameron needs to end his incoherence.


Obama has been rallying supporters in Missouri.

He wrote this week to clear up his position regarding FISA.

One of his surrogates, General Wesley Clark, is looking to put this week’s incident behind him but is not apologising.


Political Weekend

Posted in Links, Politics by Sam Unsted on June 29, 2008


Racial discrimation in the police force rears its ugly head once more

Wendy Alexander, an ally of Brown, has quit.

The Guardian has a piece on Henley and the now dominant Tories in the area.

Donors are turning on Brown too.

Tony Benn puts in his support for David Davis.


So Obama and Clinton have publicly made friends this week.

McCain and Obama are courting Latin American voters.

Obama is planning to hit the road.

Jeff Greenfield discusses how Obama can lessen the impact of the Republicans.

Could he get the endorsement of Colin Powell? The ‘Obamacons’ pose a serious threat to McCain.


Political Weekend

Posted in Links, Politics by Sam Unsted on June 22, 2008


Our new key political enemy in the UK? The Grey Squirrel.

Gordon Brown is pleading for help from oil-rich nations on nuclear energy in the UK.

29% of secondary schools in the UK have sexual health clinics.

Labour is careering towards financial disaster.

Apparently we are also leading the world in arms sales.

MPs want money for second homes.

Brown’s plans for eco-housing are being attacked as just hot air.

The Anglican church is divided over the recent marriage of two gay priests and leading bishops will boycott the Lambeth conference

Could the intense criticism of Brown from the Conservatives backfire?

Stagflation in our economy will not be like it was in the 1970s.


Unicef say children have been targeted in the war in Haiti.

155 people have died in a typhoon in the Philippines. A ferry, carrying 700, has been hit by the disaster.

Brazil, and the mystery of the not-so-undiscovered tribe.

Violence in Zimbabwe continues and seems to have been meticulously planned.


Political Weekend

Posted in Links, Politics by Sam Unsted on June 15, 2008


Labour is coming under yet more heavy criticism of the loss of confidential files on a train.

The Tories are also being vocal on the EU Treaty referendum following Ireland’s rejection on Friday.

David Davis, who resigned as MP this week, is being backed by rebel Labour MPs.

He’s gained the backing of Henry Porter for his move.

And Andrew Rawnsley.

His move provides a key test for Brown and Cameron.


Mugabe says that he’ll wage war if he loses.

Robert Fisk discusses the Middle East‘s appetite for threats.


Political Weekend (a day late, sorry)

Posted in Links, Politics by Sam Unsted on June 9, 2008


So Obama won last week, officially. Plus Hillary’s getting right behind him.

But what will it take for her people to really get behind Obama?

Maureen Dowd praises her acting skills.

Why did her campaign go wrong though?

For the Clinton clan, this is a pretty huge change for their lives to take.

Peggy Noonan thinks the American people dodged a bullet.

Here’s an interesting thought, could she be predicating a future run on a failure this year for Obama?

Frank Rich concentrates more on the enormous gap in political philosophy between Obama and McCain.

Jesse Jackson thinks Hillary’s a strong candidate for vice-president.

Obama’s received the endorsement of Kurt Beck, the leader of Germany’s Social Democrats Party. The move represents a key break from tradition of German politics.

Obama has much to do however, and little time to do it in.

Andrew Sullivan and Marc Ambinder consider an Obama presidency.