Friday, May 30, 2008

Jim Corr - Moron or marketing genius?

Jim Corr. Remember him? It took me a few minutes, but then I remembered who he was. He's the brother of the three attractive sisters and they were a nice pop band a good few years ago, if you like that sort of thing. Anyway, Jim was the one nobody took much notice of.

Until today. Today all the papers here feature Jim because he said some ridiculously stupid things.
Corrs guitarist Jim Corr has claimed that there was overwhelming evidence that the 9/11 attacks in America were carried out by "rogue elements" of US President George Bush's "neo-con administration".

In a rare intervention into the political arena, the male singer with The Corrs band also came out against the Lisbon Treaty claiming that it is " tip-toe totalitarianism in the West".

In an interview with Matt Cooper on Ireland's Today FM's 'Last Word', Corr made the case for voting 'No' to Lisbon, claiming it could introduce the death penalty to Ireland and contribute to a "new world order".

Corr's opposition is based on his three years "studying the New World Order which the European Union is a part of".
This is sheer lunacy or idiocy, right? But wait. What if you're a member of a band, one that hasn't sold a lot of records lately? What if you find yourself troubled by the fall-off in income?

Well, saying stupid things and getting in the news is better than not being in the news at all, right? And, let's face it, even the truthers have money to spend and there are probably enough of them to make it worthwhile to be their favorite band, right?

I hope Corr is cynically playing for those chumps' change because morons are a dime a dozen these days.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Maybe try a different pitch?

The Ireland Tourist Board is advertising during the Mets' radio broadcasts. The ads are pretty standard fare, but I think if the tourist board got creative they could come up with some great ads for use during Met games this season.

First of all, it's a little odd that the ads are so female oriented when I'm guessing that the audience for Mets baseball on the radio is predominantly male. And, given the Mets play so far this year, not just male but either hopelessly optimistic or masochistic. Maybe a bit of both.

Anyway, if I was going to advertise Ireland during Met games, I'd promote Ireland as a peaceful refuge, where news and conversation about the Mets is non-existent (so long as they don't run into me).

I'd try something like, "You know, in Ireland nobody cares that Delgado's not hitting or that Pelfrey can't get anyone out or that Perez is walking half the National League". Or maybe try, "Nothing else seems to be working, so we're going to try and get every Met fan to come to Ireland and kiss the Blarney Stone. Everyone knows that's good luck". Or, "Instead of suffering through another two weeks of Met games, why not come to Ireland. Ireland has a long history of men flagellating themselves as part of spiritual, cleansing rituals". Or what if they show a couple of guys in a field on a rainy day singing "I'm gonna wash those Mets right out of my hair". Okay that last one probably doesn't work, but you get the idea.

Just trying to help out during these tough times for the Irish tourism industry.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Second child allowed

The Chinese government has said that parents who lost a child in the earthquake can apply to the government for permission to have another child. I've been surprised by how open China's government has been following the earthquake, but it's still a tyranny as this decision shows.
According to the policy, local governments can levy steep fines on couples who have more than one child; the children of those who defy the rules are sometimes denied government benefits, including access to a free education.

The committee announced Monday that if a couple's legally born child was killed in the earthquake, an illegal child under 18 years could be registered as a legal replacement. If the dead child was illegal, it said the family would no longer be responsible for outstanding fines, although parents would not be reimbursed for penalties already paid.
The one-child policy is an obscenity and this ham-fisted attempt to help grieving parents is an obscenity piled on obscenity.

It serves as a reminder that although we in the west have issues with our governments the people of China have far bigger problems with theirs.

The EU go-slow

There's little real enthusiasm for the Lisbon vote and that's just how the EU wants it. They want the voters to simply trudge to the polls, shrug their shoulders and vote 'Yes' without paying too much attention to what the EU is doing (rather than what has been done). There's no other way to interpret the reports that the EU is basically hibernating until after the vote.

According to both the Financial Times and the International Herald Tribune the EU is putting off doing anything, anything at all, for fear it will tip the balance in the referendum to the 'No' side.

The FT's John Murray Brown says that the pending referendum forced the the EU to (a) push back the date for budget reform proposals (agricultural matters in particular) and (b) silence any talk on harmonised EU corporate tax rates. Murray Brown also speculates that the choice of a June date for the referendum "may have been influenced by concern that France would unveil a bold defence initiative as a centre-piece of its presidency of the EU in the second half of the year".

Stephen Castle in the IHT has much the same story to tell.
The view that Brussels has been gripped by a go-slow is shared widely. "We all know this is happening, but we are all denying it - so you won't get me saying anything on the record," one EU diplomat said.

But the evidence is all around. In March, the European Union's 27 heads of government held one of their least eventful meetings in recent memory. By contrast, their summit meeting next month - which starts June 19, after the Irish vote - has a crowded agenda including climate change, biofuels, food price increases, planned laws on cars' carbon dioxide emissions and the role of the new European president.

Initiatives likely to worry or annoy Irish voters are being played down or delayed.
This is odd. Nearly every political party in Ireland is in favor of this treaty yet the EU is going out of its way to put off doing what it wants to do. Why? Why should they fear a 'No' vote when the political parties calling for a 'Yes' comprise 94% of the elected members of the Dail? If 94% of our elected representatives believe a 'Yes' is good for Ireland, why is there even a shred of doubt about achieving 50% in the referendum?

It's times like this that make the term 'representative government' seems a little, well, misrepresentative.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Someone in this part of Wicklow really doesn't like Dick Roche, our local TD and Minister for European Affairs. Roche has erected a number of large, ground-level posters calling for a 'Yes' vote. On every one of these posters I've seen Roche's face has been cut away or painted over.

This protest seems somewhat sinister, but I'd like to think that this is just some 'No' campaigner's way of letting us know that Roche is the chief advocate for the faceless Eurocrats who control our lives.

UPDATE: I noticed last night that the Roche posters had been repaired. Some very enterprising individual has fixed new faces on all the damaged posters.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Referenda – what are they good for?

Well, not absolutely nothing. Not if you're an elected official anyway.

I think every elected official has a poster up urging a 'Yes' (or occasional 'No'). It's clear that our elected officials believe the referendum is a great opportunity to remind the voters who they are. Some of the MEP's, TD's and Councillors have have allocated virtually no poster space to convey a virtually unreadable message of 'Vote Yes to Europe' (or 'Vote No') while their mugs and names are unmissable. EU referenda are clearly all about building the brand name.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Euro-Johnny loses his head

RTE should be embarrassed after what happened at the Eurovision semi-finals on Tuesday night, which is what Johnny Logan should have said. Instead, he kind of lost his head on the radio the other day when he called into talk about it on Newstalk. Obviously Eurovision is more important to Johnny Logan than it is to, well, nearly everyone in Ireland.

Logan was okay at first, criticizing RTE, but the longer the interview went on the more irate he became and the more he lost me. Eurovision might have been (might have been) important once, but it's not any more. Not in Ireland, anyway. Logan needs to maintain perspective. His audience is older, people who remember when Eurovision mattered. He should just count his lucky stars that he came along when he did because he probably wouldn't win today.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What's up with the Irish Independent's web site?

Everyday this week the Independent's web site has been a day behind. Maybe they're updating it later in the day? I don't know, but I usually check early and where I used to be able to see today's paper, now I only see yesterday's.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

1:35am Thursday morning

Baseball fans on the east coast of America often complain about how the World Series games often end after midnight. I've always thought that was wrong, but tonight watching as the Champions League Final in Moscow finished at 25 to 2 in the morning local time I thought Muscovites and others in the east would probably be a welcome finish time of around midnight.

I just heard that starting next year the final will be played on a Saturday, which at least means more kids across Europe will be able to see the final, which is a great idea. Still, the game should start an hour or two earlier too, but that doesn't seem to be in the plans.

Supreme Court? Now that makes sense

James Andrew Miller suggests that Hillary Clinton could be offered the first vacancy on the Court by Obama. This makes more sense to me than Vice President. I can't see her being Obama's understudy, but on the Court she'd be able to be her own woman - independent of Obama and Bill (no more elections). Yes I can see this as a real carrot for her.

Charter of Fundamental Rights

Not only is the Lisbon Treaty unmanageably long and ponderous, but it also contains this:
The Union recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000, as adapted at Strasbourg, on 12 December 2007, which shall have the same legal value as the Treaties.

The provisions of the Charter shall not extend in any way the competences of the Union as defined in the Treaties.

The rights, freedoms and principles in the Charter shall be interpreted in accordance with the general provisions in Title VII of the Charter governing its interpretation and application and with due regard to the explanations referred to in the Charter, that set out the sources of those provisions.
That means you have to read – and understand – the Charter of Fundamental Rights too before you can pass judgment on the Treaty. Being an informed voter is just too big a job.

Reading the treaty

Dick Roche, my local TD & Europhile in chief for the government, berates Irish Independent columnist Bruce Arnold for misrepresenting the Lisbon Treaty in his column from May 3. Roche asserts this to be the case because Arnold misread parts of Article 93 in the treaty.

Roche writes:
Mr Arnold makes much of an amendment to Article 93 of the treaty. He is correct when he says that the words "and to avoid distortion of competition" are to be added to the article.

But he is ignorant of two essential points. The first point is that the amended treaty article contains the words "The Council shall, acting unanimously".

This means every member state has the right to veto any proposal.

The second fundamental gaffe in Mr Arnold's article is his contention that the change he refers to would allow the Court of Justice to outlaw our current corporation tax rate.

The revised article refers to indirect taxes not corporation or any other form of direct taxation.
Well, this is how Article 93 will read after the Lisbon Treaty has been implemented:
The Council shall, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee, adopt provisions for the harmonisation of legislation concerning turnover taxes, excise duties and other forms of indirect taxation to the extent that such harmonisation is necessary to ensure the establishment and the functioning of the internal market and to avoid distortion of competition.
Okay, maybe Roche is right and this change cannot alter our corporate tax rates. BUT, the phrase turnover taxes is in there and they can no be changed (imposed?) in order "to avoid distortion of competition".

I'm no tax scholar or lawyer (which is the biggest problem with this treaty nonsense), so maybe I'm way off, but my layman's interpretation of turnover taxes is that they are imposed during the various stages of production. So, maybe the EU cannot change our corporate tax rates, but they can do equal amounts of damage with taxes imposed on production.

The Court of Justice might decide that we're 'distorting competition' by NOT taxing software or financial services partly produced and/or provided here. Such a ruling could have the same effect as changing the corporate tax rates. Maybe? I don't know, but perhaps Mr. Roche will honor me by showing me where in the Lisbon Treaty this is ruled out.

Dutch baseball

Johan Cruyff, yeah I've heard of him. Before my time (soccer wise, anyway), but I know he was one of the greats. Hadn't realized he was once a catcher too - before he played soccer. Baseball in Holland goes back to WWII, when Dutch kids took it up in defiance of the Nazi occupiers. There are a couple of major leaguers from Holland and a few others from the Dutch Antilles, where baseball is very popular. Curaçao has become one of the powerhouses of Little League baseball.

Consultant's report better than throwing money away

You often hear how the government wastes money on consultants. And, I'm sure that many of the consultants are paid for stating the obvious, but even so sometimes the government needs to hear the obvious. And, if the obvious can be stated and acted on at a cost much less than the cost of behaving stupidly thanks to a consultant's report, then I'm all for more consultants' reports.

What am I talking about? Well, yesterday the government decided not to provide Waterford Crystal with the guarantee they were seeking. This was following advice from a consultant. And as long as the consultant didn't charge €39m, we've got a good result.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tip of the cap

Amazing performance by Jon Lester of the Boston Red Sox last night. Lester pitched a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals. These are rare feats in baseball, but that's only part of the story.

One day in August of 2006 Lester couldn't play due to soreness in his back. 4 days later Lester was diagnosed as having anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Cancer.

Lester underwent treatments and his disease went into remission. By the middle of the 2007 season he was back with the Red Sox and he pitched the last game of last year's World Series, won by his Red Sox.

Last night he achieved individual baseball immortality with his no-hitter. Amazing.

Highlights of the game here. And a good video taken by a fan from behind home plate here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Learning English outside

One thing that strikes me with regards to the issues teachers are having with immigrant children is that children start school too young here. If children didn't go to school until they were 6 (rather than 4) that would give the children of immigrants 2 years of being out 'on the road' learning to communicate in English. As it is, kids being raised by parents who can't speak English are too young to have made friends before they head off to school. And in Ireland there's a real emphasis on learning even when the kids are only 4 (unlike what I remember of nursery school & kindergarten in New York). Rightly or wrongly school for 4-year-olds is a lot more than finger-painting, etc.

When I started first grade in New York many of my classmates came from homes where their parents didn't speak much English. But, they were 6 years old and had absorbed enough English from playing outside or whatever to get by in school. That's not the case here.

Bishop gets on parents - again

At the end of February it was Archbishop Martin. This week it's Bishop Willie Walsh who's letting parents have it for caring more about their children then some nebulous societal goals.
Accepting that it was natural for parents to try to enrol their child in what they regard as the most suitable school, Bishop Walsh said he had observed occasionally that there was a moving out to a country school from a town where immigrants were living.

"I would certainly try to discourage that as much as possible," he said. "Particular exclusivity in relation to class is not part of the Catholic ethos of our school system."
Archbishop Martin was concerned about Dublin's secondary schools, but Bishop Walsh is worried that parents are opting out of certain primary schools because some schools have a large percentage of (a) immigrants or (b) children of a lower social class. (Can't tell which he meant from what's in the Independent).

If it's the latter well, that's been going on forever here from what I can tell. If it's the former, what does he expect? Every parent has heard stories of (or even from ) teachers that they find it a struggle to teach children with whom they can't communicate and how this takes up an inordinate amount of class time.

I take it back

A couple of weeks back I may have implied that the government was wastefully adding to my recycling pile with its Preparing For Major Emergencies booklet (80 pages). I want to make a full retraction. In the right circumstances, with the right gathering of people around you can get a lot of fun out of this little gem. I recommend reading it aloud and asking the one question that the booklet itself repeatedly poses: What should I do in the event of a ...? (Fill in a disaster/emergency covered in the book.)

Basically the answer is call 999, although if it's a nuclear accident (presumably in Britain) you don't even have to do that. Just stay in, kick back, relax and put the t.v. on. And now that I've absorbed those sage bits of advice the booklet is in the recycling pile.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


The Labour Party's Joe Costello has criticized one of the groups campaigning against the Lisbon Treaty. Costello says the tactics used by COIR – I never heard of them – are 'alarmist'.
Coir, campaigning against the treaty, erected posters bearing messages such as "People died for your freedom – don't throw it all away". Another says "Lisbon: it will cost you more tax – less power".
Okay, maybe those slogans are a bit 'alarmist'. But, I wonder if Joe Costello will criticize any alarmism from the 'Yes' side in the treaty debate. Maybe he could have a word with the Minister for Finance?
"A no vote would be a step into isolation and would send an extraordinary signal. We should be at the vanguard of Europe and not turning our back on the project," he said.
What makes Lenihan's comments amusing is that he made his remarks to an audience of the American Chamber of Commerce. And you can infer from the Examiner's report that the members of the Chamber are at least concerned that a 'Yes' vote will open the door to changes in the tax regime here. It seems to me that the Chamber's members are sending a subtle signal that a 'No' – no changes necessary – would not be all that unwelcome.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Front page of the Irish Times

The picture on the front of today's Irish Times is too much. The picture shows a mother overwhelmed with grief kneeling next to the body of her dead child, one of hundreds killed when a school collapsed in the earthquake in China.

I think the picture's too intrusive. The woman is too identifiable and even though she's on a city street she deserves a little privacy. We're crowding her when she needs space.

It's a tough one because the picture is an effective summary of the suffering of the people of China, particularly the parents who've lost children. Nearly all the parents who've lost a child have lost all their children due to China's one child policy.

I'm curious to see what other people have to say about it because I think it's a fine line and I'm not certain that my sense that the Irish Times has crossed that line is right.

Bloodiest battle on American soil before Antietam

250 years ago this July the French defeated the British in the Battle of Carillon. Carillon was the name of the fort the French built on a slip of land between Lakes George and Champlain. The British suffered heavy losses during the battle. They captured the Fort a year later and renamed it Fort Ticonderoga.
One of the most illustrious regiments in military history, the 42nd Highland, better known as the Black Watch, lost two-thirds of its thousand men that day. The regiment was devastated, especially its officer corps.

… The Black Watch Regiment, to this day, has no trouble remembering. Westbrook says the regiment, deployed in Iraq, has its base camp near Basra named Fort Ticonderoga.
I grew up 90 miles from Ticonderoga, but I've only been to the Fort once. Have to drag the children there someday.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Impenetrable"? - not quite, but they didn't miss by much

Brian Cowen says that the Lisbon Treaty is not an 'impenetrable document'. He says this despite the fact he also admits he hasn't read the document. I agree. It's not impenetrable and I've also only read some of the document. It is, however, very far from easy to read.

There are two big problems with reading the Lisbon Treaty. One, it's a treaty, which means it's written in a language that no sane person speaks or reads. It's a clause lover's dream because it has so many clauses, sub-clauses, sub-sub-clauses that you can nearly end up drowning in one sentence.

The second problem is that the Lisbon Treaty is massive and it's essentially an amendment to the existing treaties that have established and reshaped the EU over the past 50+ years. How it differs from the failed EU Constitution I can't say, but at least the Constitution was a stand-alone document. You could read it without having to have access to the other treaties. That's not true of the Lisbon Treaty.

For example, Article 276 of the Lisbon Treaty says
Article 280 shall be amended as follows:
(a) the following words shall be added at the end of paragraph 1: ', and in all the Union's institutions, bodies, offices and agencies.';
(b) in paragraph 4, the following words: 'and in all the Union's institutions, bodies, offices and agencies' shall be inserted after the words: 'in the Member States', and the last sentence shall be deleted.
So that above amends this from the current EU treaties:
Article 280
  1. The Community and the Member States shall counter fraud and any other illegal activities affecting the financial interests of the Community through measures to be taken in accordance with this article, which shall act as a deterrent and be such as to afford effective protection in the Member States.

  2. Member States shall take the same measures to counter fraud affecting the financial interests of the Community as they take to counter fraud affecting their own financial interests.

  3. Without prejudice to other provisions of this Treaty, the Member States shall coordinate their action aimed at protecting the financial interests of the Community against fraud. To this end they shall organise, together with the Commission, close and regular cooperation between the competent authorities.

  4. The Council, acting in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 251, after consulting the Court of Auditors, shall adopt the necessary measures in the fields of the prevention of and fight against fraud affecting the financial interests of the Community with a view to affording effective and equivalent protection in the Member States. These measures shall not concern the application of national criminal law or the national administration of justice.

  5. The Commission, in cooperation with Member States, shall each year submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a report on the measures taken for the implementation of this article.
Now those changes look pretty innocuous to me, although I'm not really sure what the implications of that deleted sentence might be. And this is what faces anyone trying to be an informed voter. Endless hours of trying to decipher what's significant from what's not. Really the whole referendum process is a farce.

In order to know what you're voting on you have to have access to the Treaty and some form of consolidation of all the previous treaties so that can you can see what exactly is being changed. There are over 300 articles in the Lisbon Treaty and you know the existing treaties do not make quick reading either. You have to flip back and forth between what was and what will be. For 300 articles. In this language.

Or you can do as nearly everyone is going to do and trust (or not) that the politicians know what they're doing and that what they will do suits you.

And, ultimately, that's what Brian Cowen is saying: "Trust me".

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hey look. It's Peter Sutherland.

Peter Sutherland. I'd forgotten about him. When was the last time he was in the news? Oh yeah, during the last EU treaty referendum. The pro-EU forces always call on Sutherland (and others) whenever they want to bully/intimidate/cajole the electorate into a Yes vote. Sutherland is more of the cajoling type, but you know it's referendum time when you hear the name Peter Sutherland in the news.

Sutherland is like so many of our ex-political big-wigs, some who's done very well out of the political opportunities that the EU offers. And, of course, there are many in today's political parties across the spectrum who would love the chance to show their stuff on the bigger stage. It's this blatant self-interest that always causes me to tune out the politicians when they start getting all huffy and hyperbolic during the EU referendums.

Friday, May 09, 2008

In case you're thinking of a visit to Ireland

I almost never link to blog posts, but I thought today I'd make an exception. Anyone interested in Irish cuisine will appreciate (regular commenter) Mahons's review of the Full Irish Breakfast.

Governor Clinton

New York State has never had a woman as Governor. And, in 2010 there will be an election for a new Governor.

To my mind, being Governor of New York is a better prospect for Hillary than being Vice President under President Obama. She would not be the powerful Vice President that Cheney is under Bush and her ambition would cause a lot of friction.

Also, seeing as some people do not believe she'll be too old in 2016, she'd be better positioned to run for the White House after 5 years as Governor than 7 years as VP. She doesn't have to worry about a lack of national profile as she'll always attract the media.

If I were Hillary that's what I'd be looking for from the Democrat elders who want me out right now. I want a clear run at the nomination for Governor (that's you out, Chuck and you too Andrew). The Democrats would have to convince the current office-holder that the job's not really his cup of tea, but I somehow doubt that would be too difficult.

I doubt any Republican (Bloomberg or even Rudy G.) would have a prayer against her, so if the Democrats give her the nod, the job's as good as hers.

{Although New York has never had a woman Governor, the state has had two previous Clintons serve as Governor. George back in the 18th Century and his nephew DeWitt who was governor from 1817-1828. Neither is related to Bill.}

Family home of the "Schoolmaster in Politics"

I had a vague idea that Woodrow Wilson had roots in Ulster, but until I read this morning that his ancestral home had burned down I didn't know that there was an ancestral home. I've been in Omagh twice in the past 10 years. One time I discovered that Ulysses S Grant's ancestral home was in that area. Now I learn that Wilson's family came from the same region.

Other than Andrew Jackson's family home, very little is made of the fact that these ancestral homes exist. I think that each of these homes should be a little museum about the President and his family. I don't know why more isn't made of these places.

And, this goes for this part of Ireland too. Nixon's ancestral home is in Timahoe, Co. Kildare (not Laois, as I sometimes read). I once stumbled into Timahoe and all that was there was a small sign acknowledging this fact. I haven't been to Ballyporeen, so I can't say whether much is made of the Reagan connection. I have been to the Kennedy home near New Ross, Co. Wexford and I thought even here that the pitch wasn't quite right.

I don't know. Could be just me, but I think that each of these places should have something of a story to tell, one that would be of interest to people from both Ireland and America. And it's not just Americans. Thomas D'Arcy McGee one of the Fathers of the Confederation in Canada was from Carlingford, Co. Louth. I don't thik I saw any reference to him when I was last there, but that was 15 years ago.

Anyway, I think these places are of interest and should be knit together in some form of tourist trail and each place should tell something about the life of the President (or whomever) and the life of his ancestors.

Just glad to get that off my chest.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Number 2 on the ticket

To be honest, I'd be surprised if Hillary opted to accept the number 2 slot on a ticket with Obama. I just can't accept that she's anything other than 100% driven towards being President someday. However, she'll never be President if Obama wins in November. She'll be too old to run in 2016 and I just can't believe that being Vice President with no hope of being President is all that attractive to her. 2012 is her last realistic shot.

But, what if she believes that Obama won't win in November? Then it makes perfect sense for her to be on the ticket. That way she's seen as a good Democrat, a good team player. And when they fail in November she'll be seen as having been right that she would have won where he lost. And by being on the ticket she'll deny any other possible aspirants the national limelight that might propel them towards a 2012 run. I honestly believe she'll be on the ticket only if she feels confident that Obama can't win.

Is Hillary done?

Sure seems like it's over now, doesn't it? I still think she's more likely to win in November than is Obama, but I also don't think there's anyway she can get the nomination now. Right?

Well, yeah, she's done. I can't see how she can carry on now. She has nothing going her direction. She probably could (and should) demand something be done about Michigan and Florida, but even those two states won't change the fact that she's behind in delegates and the popular vote. She can't win.

But, can Obama still lose? Well, there's always the possibility that the superdelegates will decide that Obama just won't win enough white votes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and elsewhere to win in November. It's possible, but not probable.

What I find really interesting when I look at the popular votes is the number of states where Obama won more than 60% of the votes. Mississippi, Wyoming, Hawaii Virginia, Maryland, DC, Nebraska, Illinois, Georgia, Minnesota, Colorado, Kansas, North Dakota, Idaho and Nebraska. And Hillary won exactly one with greater than 60% of the vote: Arkansas. Yet in the overall totals Obama has won 49.6% of the votes and Hillary 47.3% (excluding IA, NV, ME, WA, FL & MI).

If you're a superdelegate this sort of information has to give pause for thought. Why did Obama win by such large margins in those 14 states and yet fall short in California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio? Any superdelegate worth his salt would want an answer to that question.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tar Heels & Hoosiers

I think the suddenly strong sun has fried my brain. I found it hard to read about today's primaries over the holiday weekend and I'm not so sure which way things will go today. My instinct is that Hillary will win in Indiana. North Carolina, however ...

I was expecting that Hillary might take that too, but her recent good run didn't seem to have enough momentum to give her the victory I thought might really push her to the front. Then it will be Obama. He doesn't need to win in NC, but a win there indicates that that he's weathered the storm. There probably aren't any other opportunities for Hillary to show that she's turned the tide.

If Hillary loses in Indiana it's over. Nothing left for her in that situation other than destroying Obama so that he loses in November and she can run again in 2012.

No, I think it'll be a split, which means the primaries will not finish the job. Team Clinton will then go into overdrive to woo a sufficient number of superdelegates to get the nomination. I'm not sure they'll succeed, but who better to play the carrot and stick game behind closed doors? I definitely wouldn't want to be a superdelegate; I bet a lot of them will head off on long, long summer holidays leaving their cell phones at home.

Friday, May 02, 2008

I know I'm not the only one who ...

thinks that the breaks are starting to really go Hillary's way. I'm almost at the point of thinking that she can't lose, if she can win the nomination. And, I think the nomination is looking more likely daily.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Fine job, one omission

I don't want to be begrudging. I thought Bertie did a decent job delivering his fine speech, although I was surprised Bertie didn't use a teleprompter. He touched all the right emotional buttons, made his points on immigration and US-EU relations and, mostly, thanked America for helping achieve peace in Ireland.

I don't have any real complaint about anything he said, but there was one point that I was surprised Bertie didn't make. The theme of his speech was that in the past, when Ireland needed help, America was there. Now all of that is behind us and a new relationship between the United States and Ireland, inside the EU, is being forged. All fine, excellent actually.

What surprised me is that Bertie didn't take the opportunity to include a little plug for free trade and free capital movement and how these flows in goods, services and investment were benefitting both America and Ireland. He should have told the audience that the number of Americans working for Irish companies is growing rapidly and is now at 80,000. That compares with 100,000 people people employed by American companies in Ireland. It will be good for both countries if those figures keep rising.

I can't understand why he left it out unless it was because he was afraid of upsetting the Obama camp, given Obama's fairly protectionist utterances during the campaign. It's a point that Dermot Ahern has made in the past and I think Bertie should have mentioned it again. I suspect had he included that little tidbit in his speech it would have been news to a large section of his audience. And, it would have emphasized that the new US-Ireland relationship is much more of a two-way street than it was in times past.

Otherwise, as I said, Bertie did a nice job.

Munster fury

Does the press ever tire of this story? There is nothing even vaguely newsworthy in the fact that Ryanair has raised its prices for flights on the weekend of the Heineken Cup Final in Cardiff. Well, duh? Demand suddenly shoots up and, lo and behold, prices do too.

Yet, every year (it seems), Munster's fans, who should know better by now, moan about the price of Ryanair flights to wherever their next big match is. We hear about it on the radio and read about it in the press.

Sometimes I wonder why the news doesn't more often inform us that water's wet.