Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Some reflections on last night

I think it is really important to pause and reflect on the sheer history we saw last night in Bareack Obama becoming the first black nominee of a major party in the US presidential election, and yes that he was nearly beat by the first woman nominee.

How many times has it been said it would take the US 100 years to be 'ready' for a woman or a black President?

Whatever else it has achieved in it's existence the Democratic Party has, through this contest, put both of these within grasp.

So politics is still a noble endeavour, party politics (too often maligned) specifically.

Remarkable for any country to candidate of a minority ethnic group as a contender for high office, whereas in the US the Civil Rights movement is still in living memory for many.

I can only borrow this from Andrew Sullivan's blog:

My grandfather, 86 years old and a veteran of WWII, just gave me a call. He
was calling all of his grandchildren to let them know what an important night
this was in the history of our country.

Grandpa drove a truck for over 50 years, and he told the story of how he drove with a team of drivers, 2 white (including him), and 4 black. When they stopped at the truck stops, the black drivers had to use seperate restrooms and showers, and had to eat in a small room in the back of the kitchen. Grandpa and his co-driver would eat in the back with the rest of the team, and while they didn't speak of it at the time, they
knew it was wrong yet felt powerless to change it, and believed that it would never change.

Tonight, he told me, we have come full-circle. Many people, especially the younger generation who supported Obama, will never fully realize the historical import of what happened tonight. But he wanted his grandchildren to know this story that he had never told us, and it was the second time in my 33 years that I have heard my grandpa cry.

Obama's speech showed the same deep oratorical gifts that Obama has always showed. His ability to move the audience, move with the audience, create common purpose with them. He looked every bit a President and compared very favourably to the two other speeches, both of which were rather pedestrian in nature.

Of course, oratory alone (oratory is the thing that is decried when present but bemoaned when absent - in Obama we have a foremost modern orator that lives up to the highest ideals of the art) won't work and the hard graft of a General Election that leaves the contestation of the Primaries behind.

On the other hand I now have a more negative view of Hilary Clinton's speech - also some reactions here. I don't think she managed the required tone and her speech doesn't stand muster in the cold light of day. Seem to remember John Major saying something along the lines of "When the curtain falls, you leave the stage...").

I think the chances of being a VP were always slim but probably a generous concession speech was required to make it a possible. I think she's overplaying her hand and it will backfire.

In spite of all of this no-one will deny her her position as a candidate who was a candidate to the very end of the process (quite a rare occureence) . There's lots of speculation as to potential roles but some that have been mentioned include Senate Leader, Health coverage supremo and the even Supreme Court. Putting her in charge of health care reform is a very good proposal as it people to remember the chaos the last time she was put in charge of it.

To get any where near to cashing in on her achievement in this Primary she does need to concede and get behind the nominee.

But the most important thing is to pause a while and reflect on hisotry in the making that I am sure, whatever the result of the election, will have massive ramifications for the rest of the world.

Clinton wraps it up

Actually quite a good speech. A pretty good hust for VP.

"I am committed to uniting our Party"

"Where do we go from here"

"No decisions tonight"

"I will consult with our Party leaders"

Effectively concedes without conceding.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Obama goes over the top

The last Democratic Primaries (Montana and South Dakota)

SD closes 8pm ET, Mont closes 10pm (1am and 3am on whatever time we're on at the moment)


Obama close to clinching the nomination

More and more superdelegates endorsing Obama - now only 12 short of the 'magic number'

Now on 2106

Described as the most exciting and historic Primary night in US history


Now on 2107 - 11 more needed


Now on 2108 - 10 more needed


Now on 2112 - 6 more needed, 200 in front of Clinton

1.04 - 2113 - 5 needed

1.10 - 2114 - 4 needed

2.30 - Obama on 2119 and is therefore now the nominee presumptive


According to the Associated Press Barack Obama has now won the Democratic nomination and has reached the required number of delegates and makes history for the US as the first black Presidential candidate (presumptive nominee until made into the official candidate at the Convention).

Andrew Sullivan (Daily Dish) How to Celebrate

Interesting pickings from the Drudge Report

Times The Clinton juggernaut coughs and splutters to a halt, Barack Obama on the threshold of history

BBC Obama on brink of victory

British Embassy flies Rainbow Flag in Riga

Story carried on several news services - Pink News article here, UK Gay News here.

Monday, June 02, 2008

THT on blood donation, supporting the current approach

Pink News carries this story today.

THT has stated its support in the context of regular review of the scientific evidence.

I have previously blogged that I am more sympathetic to the position of the current ban in respect of men who had anal or oral sex with men.

I do though note that in Australia there is a 12 month deferral for anyone having had 'male to male sex' and also has a provision of subjecting applicants who provide misleading information in their screening.

I think the Australian model is actually something worth looking at - I'm not aware of any countries having done away with any restrictions on men who have had sex with men donating and think it would be quite unsafe to so.

THT's (very brief) statement here of why they support the Blood Services approach to donor screening with respect to men who have had anal or oral sex with men and therefore pose a risk with regard to the safety of the blood supply.

Four Days in Denver

Great script for a deadlocked Convention unable to agree on a nominee. I won't spoil the ending. Makes for a great read.

(ht to Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish)

Brown plants his standard on 42 days

"I'm determined to stick to our principles."

BBC report.

Obama Pride

Really like the link for the LGBT supporters of Obama.

Homosexuality in America

According to this poll 'homosexual relations' come between abortion and doctor assisted suicide, with the same percentage finding "homosexual relations" acceptable and wrong (48% for both sides) irrespective of their view of whether it should be legal or not.

Heathrow wins award for worst airport

Well not quite.

The world's airline organisation doesn't like Heathrow because it's too expensive.

Those of us who use it dislike it for other reasons.

Simon Barrow responds to Bishop Nazir Ali

From Ekklesia:

There are indeed serious issues about moral cohesion in modern, plural societies. But diversity and disagreement cannot be wished away, and a vision of social justice and responsibility will not be created by lecturing people, seeking to restore Christian privilege, portraying Islam as the new threat, or bemoaning the loss of a monoculture.

The churches need to be seen as small-scale communities of positive hope, not wounded dinosaurs complaining that people do not take them seriously any more and that the country is going to the dogs.

Similar thoughts expressed in his recent Comment is Free article Blinkered Bishop.

I'm confused

We used to be very worried about rising house prices and new buyers not being able to afford to buy a home - now house prices are falling (albeit moderately).

We used to be very concerned both about global warming and on our dependence on oil - now the price of oil has gone up (though faster than had been planned by governments).

Food prices are of course different and genuinely worrying as to their global impact as well as their impact on inflation

For an alternative to the 'up and down' of capitalism there is always the option of Central Planning (though it is far from clear that planned economies escape from the business cycle, certainly from inflation). Planned economy has not proved popular in Western Europe and didn't work well in the Soviet Union when it was tried over a long period and China's mix of communism and capitalism is prone to overheating and therefore also recession.

Capitalist economies have always over and undershot in a cycle, with severe downturns frequent. 'Business cycle' in Wikipedia.

The only thing we can ask of our politicians is to dampen (rather than feed the excesses of the 'market economy' as the Tories often did) and Gordon Brown has been quite good at that over the past decade.

The capitalist economy has rarely been anything other than turbulent. That's not likely to change now.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Andrew Rawnsley in today's Observer

Andrew Rawnsely in today's Observer on his advice to GB. Though other commentators and Rawnsley himself has said this before.

Piece is titled Gordon's best - and only - bet now is to be bold.

Some quotes:

There is now only one potentially winning strategy left to Gordon Brown. Paradoxically, that is to start governing on the assumption that he is going to lose the next general election. He should give up trying to please everyone, not least because he is no good at pleasing anyone at the moment, and concentrate his energies on achieving a few important things that he believes in.

I heard a matching critique from a cabinet minister who is usually regarded as extremely close to Mr Brown. 'He's got to break free. He's got to throw off some of the bonds,' says this minister. 'He's got to be himself. He's got to say what he believes, act on it and fight for it.'

Take that advice and at least the Prime Minister would regain his self-respect. Over time, he may begin to win back the respect of the voters too. Governing on the basis that he's lost is now his last, best hope of winning.