Tuesday, 30 March 2010

General Election Time Is Almost Upon Us. Can I Get Excited...?

The 1640s: the birth of negative campaigning in British Politics

I'm getting a fair bit of political leafletting and mail shots at the moment. Mainly from the Tories and the Lib Dems. The Glibs say they can win here (Hampstead and Kilburn), although I gather in every seat in the country their propaganda claims they 'can win here.' I have a feeling a lot of the Lib Dem stuff is to motivate people to vote in the Camden Council elections which will also be on May 6th. Camden is currently run by a Con-Lib Dem coalition, with the three councillors in the ward where I am all Lib Dems. So all this stuff is not so much to get a Lib Dem here into Parliament as to prop up Lib Dem support for the Council Elections.

I'm going to try and force myself to post something every day once the General Election campaign starts, which most informed and (uninformed) opinion says will begin next week with Gordon Brown going to Bucks House to secure Mrs Windsor's dissolution of Parliament. I'll try and discuss anything that I find interesting and/or catches my eye, or at the very least make sure you know about it. This is supposed to be the first 'Internet General Election' in British history (although they said that about the '97, '01 and '05 ones as well, I seem to recall), so I will do my best to get a handle on how it is all going.

I will get another couple of posts up in the next few days (internet/media and US politics will be their general theme) before the big hoo-haa begins. Just to whet your appetite for the Big One, I've taken a few images from the superb Bo Beau D'Or blog, who like a lot of people, does not want the Tories to win, but is not too enamoured with Labour either (as opposed to people who do not want Labour to win, but are not too enamoured with the Tories either!).

Yes, the Tories are bringing back Maurice and Charles Saatchi to oversee most of their General Election advertising campaign, while Saatchi & Saatchi (which Charles and Maurice left back in '95 to form M&C Saatchi, which came up with the Tony Blair 'Demon Eyes' poster which led to the crushing Conservative landslide victory in 97...) oversee Labour's ad account. Whoever said the business/media/political world is incestuous eh? Furthermore, I wonder if  M&C's campaign are less open to ridicule than other Conservative advertising campaigns so far this year? (Hat-tip: MyDavidCameron.com)


I'll leave the General Election there for the moment. There'll be a lot more where that's coming from in the next few weeks (I can see you flicking travel websites as I type, looking for cheap flights out the country...). I suppose we should just be glad this Parliament is almost at an end. To quote a phrase someone from around 360 years back, what we are left with for the next few days is 'this fag end, this veritable Rump of a Parliament with corrupt maggots in it' (Trevor Royle [2005] Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660, Abacus, p.485).

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Anyone out there want to mutually link?

Leave a message in the comments section, if you are not already on my list of websites, blogs etc, and we'll take it from there!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Something Rotten In The State Of Denmark?

'Alas poor Thomas Jefferson! I knew him well, Horatio.'
'I thought we would find him spinning 100mph in his grave, my Lord...'

Some thoughts on where Obama and the Democrats are (less than eight months from a serious drubbing in the 2010 mid-term Congressional elections would be a pithy answer) from Limey expats Andrew Stephen and Alex Cockburn.

Glenn Greenwald goes for the Democrats messing around in Congress over healthcare 'reform'. I am reminded of this.

I have also come across an interesting rant (Hat-tip: Brad S!) from Charlie Davis about 'My Democratic Party/Obama, Right or Wrong' brigade. Somewhere in the back of my mind a good old rant is brewing about the same situation here on Airstrip One, where whatever faecal matter is dropped on people from a great height by the Labour Party, people on the 'Left' are told 'Vote Labour, or the Tories will get back in'....Suffice to say for the moment, politics should not be treated as a sports match. Of course, the same processes take place on the 'Right', where the 'Tea Party' movement is rapidly being brought under the wings of the Republican Party; a situation Libertarian Thomas Knapp discusses. BTW, there is something about the aesthetics of Tea Party movement that intrigues me. I am not an expert on the American Revolution/War of Independence, but I do know the Boston Tea Party was a major incident in the run up to the conflict starting. I also know that many of the protestors in 1773 dressed up as Red Indians/Native Americans/First Nations warriors, as the picture below illustrates:

However, in last year's Tea Party protests and marches not many participants seem to dress in Native American garb, although a fair few dressed up as members of George Washington's Continental Army.

Are there no Village People fans in the States opposed to Obama, 'socialist' healthcare systems and taxes?

 Which one is Joe The Plumber?

However, I feel there is some hope on the US political scene, while I can see little at the moment on the English/British political  landscape (I am willing to be persuaded...!). One reason is that there are interesting political figures outside the Far Centre and Raving Right there, who have something substantial to say. Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul and Jesse Ventura come to mind. I am well aware leaders can betray, and all heroes have feet of clay, but when was the last time a British political figure said anything that made you sit up and think?

Dennis Kucinich in Congress on Afghanistan.

Ron Paul in Congress on Afghanistan. He might be a social conservative/reactionary, but he's bang on the money about the American Empire.

Ron Paul with Rachel Maddow. If the battle for the soul of the Republican Party is to be fought between Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, there's no doubt who I'll be rooting for!

Jesse Ventura with Larry King. Anyone who sees through that loudmouth pseudo-populist fraud Rush Limbaugh is okay with me. See here for more evidence of Rush's hypocritical healthcare tourism. (hat-tip: Steve Cooke- some of you might like his music!). Mr. Ventura is also the man who said: 'you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.'

Anyway, I'll leave it there. I suppose next time I post I may well have to discuss the forthcoming General Election here. Oh joy of joys...

Monday, 8 March 2010

Links for your perusal


For those of you bored with everything in politics being labelled 'The New Hitler/Nazis/Stalin/Communists etc' you may be interested in the piece where I found the above.

Similarly, you may be interested in this if you are bored with people who use 'fascism' and 'fascist' ad nauseum.

John Harris wonders if the next General Election (which may be less than 9 weeks away...stop yawning at the back!) could be won  by a party with the support of just 20% of the electorate. Whoever gets in, argues Larry Elliott, it is not going to be much economic fun.

You have been warned! (Hat-tip: Weekly Worker)

Over in Canada, Larry Gambone wonders if social democracy can be revived in the West.

Various bits and pieces on media, publishing and the internet you may want to have a gander at.

How big business is getting to grips with social networking is discussed here.

How long can things stay free on the Net? He may work for Rupert Murdoch, the arch-enemy of free access, but Santham Sangara has some interesting points to make. It wasn't until reading this did I know that the typical author here makes an average of £7,000 a year from writing. This raises interesting questions about intellectual property, although as Kevin Carson argues, the current laws on IP are not designed to benefit the proverbial 'little man.' For those of you wondering about a career in writing, Robert McCrum's piece may be of interest.

Finally for now, Charlie Brooker discusses the bane of the Net: the password.

The Sun Always Shines On TV?

Christina Hendricks: despite her and lots of snazzy suits, I can't be bothered with 'Mad Men'...

This is very much the confessions of a non-TV watcher. When I moved to where I am now, back in September '05, one of the resolutions I made to myself was that I was not going to get a television set. At my old place I watched far too much TV, where it got to the point I was staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning watching any old rubbish. I kept to my resolution, which somewhat surprised the chap from the TV Licence people when he came to visit my flat at the end of last summer. 'If you ever get a set, please inform us,' he mumbled before going for a long sit down.

Not that I'm totally unaware what is on the goggle box. With my PC I have access to the BBC iPlayer, which means I can watch a fair few programmes that interest me. I wish I could say the same for the ITV and Channel 4 versions of the iPlayer, but they simply have nothing on, unless I want to watch 'Coronation Street' ad nauseum or 'Celebrity Wife Swap House Makeover On Ice' just the once. So I watch Charlie Brooker's shows, the occasional documentary ( I watched the history of British Heavy Metal the other night, which provided a diverting 90 minutes of entertainment), sports highlights, 'The Thick Of It' and so on.

What I think I have lost, however, is the ability to watch TV as more and more people watch it. That is, they watch programmes that develop into series and then Seasons with a massive story arc. In contrast, I  find increasingly that  I can watch one-off shows, or programmes in a series that are self-contained stories- and that is it. Maybe there is a bigger yarn to be told, but I like to watch an episode without needing to really know what happened before and afterwards. Simply knowing what the situation the characters are in is enough for me. Any more, no thank you...

Now it could be argued that I have an increasingly short attention span. However, I do not have the same problem with books (I've just finished an 823 page doorstop of a book on the English Civil Wars), music or films. I realise with films that if you could condense the story contained in a television series into a 2 or 3 hour film I would probably watch it, all other things being equal. Perhaps my problem with television is that in a world of limited time, I have to sacrifice something, and TV series that drag on for ages are the thing I have to knock on the head.


Tricia Helfer as Six in Battlestar Galactica. Now if that was made into a film for the cinema...

Of course, I could spend whole days catching up with every TV box set ever, but I would think that a waste of time or even a chore. I could be doing other things methinks, without driving myself senseless. Moreover, I have no particular wish to learn how to watch TV differently, thanks very much. I have heard this claim made by a bunch of Nathan Barleys in connection with 'The Wire': 'Oh, you have to learn how to watch television differently when watching The Wire.' No thank you chaps. Incidentally, I am waiting for the day when the police have to go to some Soho watering hole to break up a riot between coked-up media types arguing over whether 'The Wire' or 'The Sopranos' was 'The Best Television Show Ever'.

'The Sopranos' is a good example of how I am through with the way television is going. Some of my favourite films are Mafia/Gangster movies: 'Goodfellas', 'The Godfather' (1 and 2 anyhow), 'Donnie Brasco', 'Casino', Carlito's Way' for starters. Hence, it is not the subject matter of 'The Sopranos' I cannot get a handle on. It's just the thought of wading through an hour-long episode, then more episodes, then entire Seasons/Series, and being told that I have to watch every little thing in case I miss something that will be vitally important in two episodes or two series time...where will I get the time for this? Compared to a 2-3 hour movie, there is no contest for me- I know which I would rather watch. I remember watching the first episode of 'The Sopranos' and half-way through thinking 'this is so slow'. I managed about 10 minutes of the first episode of the last series of  'Mad Men'  before giving up. I did tell myself to give it a go- honest! I quite liked 'A Single Man', so it  is not as if I am averse to films that are set in the US of the early 1960s, full of Cold War paranoia, smartly-dressed men and well-turned out redheads...

Julianne Moore in 'A Single Man'

I'll leave my 'Confessions of an ex-TV Junkie' there. Perhaps in the age of falling viewing figures and multi-channel 'choice' I am not alone.