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    Friday, February 22, 2008

    I'm seeing a President Obama now

    While i've been off sick, the Obama bashers have got increasingly desperate in their attempts to find bad things to say about him - the whole 'Obama's supporters resemble a spooky cult' argument is pathetic, then there's the Obama is a crazy left wing extremist argument - we're going to be seeing a lot more of that one. And finally, there's Hilary's he's all talk and no substance argument which isn't doing her any favours.

    Amazingly, Hilary's done now - stick a fork in her - there will be no Ohio/Texas comeback. And there's no doubt he can beat McCain - it might be close but its very possible.

    Meanwhile Obama's on fire - the most effective speech i've seen from him so far here in Wisconsin a few days ago.

    Thursday, February 7, 2008

    Obama: Yes, he can, maybe.

    It now looks like Obama has a chance of winning the Democratic nomination and the whole thing is going to go right down to the proverbial wire with the super delegates having the final say. But why is Obama the better choice than Clinton for those of a liberal/social democratic persuasion? Anthony Barnett has a good level headed article which sums up why this fairly pragmatic, centrist, and in some ways conservative man is the best option.

    Two of the obvious reasons are that it would be healthy to break the Bush-Clinton stranglehold on the presidency and to not give the Republicans a chance to rally around their favourite figures of hate - Hil and Bill - Republicans generally find it much harder to hate Obama.

    But Obama is not a liberal. He appears to be in that murky third way territory occupied by Bill Clinton and Blair before him. Tomasky nails it in a review of Obama’s Audacity of Hope calling him a civic republican and quoting Obama:

    ‘The victories that the sixties generation brought about—the admission of minorities and women into full citizenship, the strengthening of individual liberties and the healthy willingness to question authority—have made America a far better place for all its citizens. But what has been lost in the process, and has yet to be replaced, are those shared assumptions—that quality of trust and fellow feeling—that bring us together as Americans.’

    Elsewhere Obama has said:

    “I’m probably more humble now about the speed with which government programs can solve every problem. For example, I think the impact of parents and communities is at least as significant as the amount of money that’s put into education.”

    In a profile of Obama from Larissa MacFarquhar that featured in last years New Yorker - one of the more insightful articles I’ve read about him - she spends a lot of time emphasising Obama’s centrist, consensus seeking tendencies. And his pragmatic nature, she says:

    ‘Obama is deeply conservative. There are moments when he sounds almost Burkean. He distrusts abstractions, generalizations, extrapolations, projections. It’s not just that he thinks revolutions are unlikely: he values continuity and stability for their own sake, sometimes even more than he values change for the good.’

    I think for non-Americans, the biggest reason to hope Obama wins is his stance on International affairs. His views on Iraq make a lot of us hope his presidency would see a more decisive shift away from loopy neoconservatism than Clinton’s would. This quote from Obama in 2002 is a pretty good advertisement for his presidency so.

    "I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

    But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.’

    Saturday, February 2, 2008

    Radiohead on Jools Holland Last Night

    The greatest band in the world play the best song released last year. In a word, fantastic.

    Friday, February 1, 2008

    Facebook’s Dark Side

    Today, a friend of mine put me wise to some seriously unpalatable facts about Facebook. Briefly, here’s the deal before i break it down. There's a video link which covers a lot of what i'm going to say below if you don't want to read me blathering on.

    1. Facebook’s main mover Peter Thiel is an odious neoconservative.

    2. Facebook’s got some seriously dodgy sounding investors with links to the CIA.

    3. Facebook make it really difficult for you to delete your data from their site

    1. Facebook’s main mover Peter Thiel is an odious neoconservative.

    The following may sound longwinded but it is a summary of Tom Hodgkinson’s very long (but excellent) article in the Guardian. Hodgkinson says

    ‘Thiel is a member of TheVanguard.Org, an internet-based neoconservative pressure group that was set up to attack, a liberal pressure group that works on the web.’


    ‘This little taster from their website will give you an idea of their vision for the world: "TheVanguard.Org is an online community of Americans who believe in conservative values, the free market and limited government as the best means to bring hope and ever-increasing opportunity to everyone, especially the poorest among us." Their aim is to promote policies that will "reshape America and the globe". TheVanguard describes its politics as "Reaganite/Thatcherite". The chairman's message says: "Today we'll teach MoveOn [the liberal website], Hillary and the leftwing media some lessons they never imagined."

    I don't have time to go into how much of the above is stomach churningly offensive but the bit about the free market and limited government being the best means to help the poor is particularly yuch.

    2. Facebook’s got some seriously dodgy sounding investors with links to the CIA.

    Hodgkinson goes on to reveal that Greylock Venture Capital have invested $27.5m in Facebook. One of Greylock’s senior partners is Howard Cox who’s on the board of In-Q-Tel. Now, In-Q-Tel is the venture capital wing of the CIA. No really - look, it says so on their site. Also part of In-Q-Tel is Anita K Jones, former director of defence research and engineering for the US department of defence.

    3. Facebook makes it really difficult for you to delete your data from their site and doesn’t care about your privacy.

    you’ll need a guide on how to do delete your data, if you wish to do so - here it is essentially it’s a hack because Facebook don’t want you to delete your data. I don't really understand this because their terms tell you they've backed your data up so even if you do delete, they have, in google style, backed up your info anyhow.

    Now most Facebook users will be aware that Facebook uses the personal details on your account to target you with tailored advertising - and I guess their reluctance is related to that.

    Finally, read the part in their terms and conditions section that none of us read when we signed up and ask yourself if you feel comfortable with it.

    ‘By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the license granted above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. ‘