Friday, October 31, 2008

A small reflection about the relationship between England and Australia

Most Americans feel proud, pleased and blessed to be born in America. And rightly so. Australians and the English feel similarly and for similar reasons. But from the large and constant stream of English immigrants arriving in Australia, one gathers that a lot of the English like some sunshine with their English heritage. And there is more than sunshine to it. I remember a recent arrival in Australia who hailed from Yorkshire saying to me that Australia is "Yorkshire with brass", where "brass" is Northern slang for money. He was oversimplifying but there was a lot of truth in what he said nonetheless. The ties between England and Australia are a lot closer than either side will normally admit. Australians speak derisively of the English (calling them "Poms") and the English speak derisively of Australians (calling them "colonials").

But it remains true that both nationalities feel very much at home in the others' country. And I am probably a rather extreme example of that. When I was growing up in Australia in the 1950s, I grew up into a society that was very Anglophilic. Many Australian-born people still copied their parents' usage and referred to England as "home". And we had a Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) who described himself as "British to his bootstraps". And I remember crying -- aged about 9 -- when it was announced that the King had died. An even stronger influence than all that, however, stemmed from the fact that I was a great book reader from an early age. And most if not all boys' books available were written and published in England for the English. So I grew up in a mental world that was half-English: Which was a very good start on understanding English thinking.

So when I first arrived in England in 1977 I found a few peculiarities but in general had no social difficulties -- which is saying something if you know the intricacies of English social rules. I imagine that I did transgress in various ways from time to time -- but never enough to be a bother. In fact my high level of social acceptance would have been the envy of many Englishmen. I was materially assisted in that by the fact that an educated Australian accent is quite close to RP ("Oxford" English) and accent is enormously important in England. Any Australian accent is in fact closer to RP than are many regional English accents. So I was often told in England that I had a "soft" accent -- meaning that although detectably Australian it was not beyond the pale in in the Home Counties. My conservative politics tend to go down well in the Home Counties too.

An amusing effect of this close but usually denied affinity is the way that some Australian women have constructed for themselves a version of English "society". In England there really is such a thing as "society" -- basically the English aristocracy. The Australian version is of course self-selected rather than genetically selected but they do a moderately good job of imitating the English original. And part of that is that they do a rather good job of imitating the speech of the English original. I remember one example vividly. When I was talking on the phone to Laurie, she sounded to me just like Margaret, who is an English lady I know who really is a born member of the English aristocracy.

So who was Laurie? She was the daughter of my father's accountant. In other words we both grew up in a small Australian country town -- going to school in bare feet in a tropical environment -- an environment beset by such perils as taipan snakes, funnelweb spiders, box jellyfish, finger cherries and crocodiles, rather than the more pleasant English phenomena of crocuses, daffodils, cuckoos and skylarks. From that humble beginning, however, Laurie had acquired all the language, mannerisms and values of the English aristocracy. And I imagine that she did so without ever visiting England.

It reminds me of something that someone wrote (probably Andrew Ian Dodge -- an Anglophilic American) when I first started putting up my "Eye on Britain" blog. He said that this is a blog about England from an outsider's point of view -- but the author really isn't an outsider because he is an Australian. Very insightful.


Don't Let the Polls Affect Your Vote: They were wrong in 2000 and 2004

By Karl Rove

There has been an explosion of polls this presidential election. Through yesterday, there have been 728 national polls with head-to-head matchups of the candidates, 215 in October alone. In 2004, there were just 239 matchup polls, with 67 of those in October. At this rate, there may be almost as many national polls in October of 2008 as there were during the entire year in 2004.

Some polls are sponsored by reputable news organizations, others by publicity-eager universities or polling firms on the make. None have the scientific precision we imagine. For example, academics gathered by the American Political Science Association at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington on Aug. 31, 2000, to make forecasts declared that Al Gore would be the winner. Their models told them so. Mr. Gore would receive between 53% and 60% of the two-party vote; Gov. George W. Bush would get between just 40% and 47%. Impersonal demographic and economic forces had settled the contest, they said. They were wrong.

Right now, all the polls show Barack Obama ahead of John McCain, but the margins vary widely (in part because some polls use an "expanded" definition of a likely voter, while others use a "traditional" polling model, which assumes turnout will mirror historical trends but with a higher turnout among African-Americans and young voters).

On Monday, there were seven nationwide polls, with the candidates as close as three points in the Investors Business Daily/TIPP poll and as far apart as 10 points in Gallup's "expanded" model. On Tuesday, the Gallup "traditional" model poll had the candidates separated by two points and the Pew poll had them separated by 15. On Wednesday, Battleground, Rasmussen and Gallup "traditional" model polls had the candidates separated by three points while Diageo/Hotline and Gallup "expanded" model polls had the spread at seven points.

Polls can reveal underlying or emerging trends and help campaigns decide where to focus. The danger is that commentators use them to declare a race over before the votes are in. This can demoralize the underdog's supporters, depressing turnout. I know that from experience.

On election night in 2000 Al Hunt -- then a columnist for this newspaper and a commentator on CNN -- was the first TV talking head to erroneously declare that Florida's polls had closed, when those in the Panhandle were open for another hour. Shortly before 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Judy Woodruff said: "A big call to make. CNN announces that we call Florida in the Al Gore column."

Mr. Hunt and Ms. Woodruff were not only wrong. What they did was harmful. We know, for example, that turnout in 2000 compared to 1996 improved more in states whose polls had closed by the time Ms. Woodruff all but declared the contest over. The data suggests that as many as 500,000 people in the Midwest and West didn't bother to vote after the networks indicated Florida cinched the race for Mr. Gore.

I recall, too, the media's screwup in 2004, when exit-polling data leaked in the afternoon. It showed President Bush losing Pennsylvania by 17 points, New Hampshire by 18, behind among white males in Florida, and projected South Carolina and Colorado too close to call. It looked like the GOP would be wiped out. Bob Shrum famously became the first to congratulate Sen. John Kerry by addressing him as "President Kerry." Commentators let the exit polls color their coverage for hours until their certainty was undone by actual vote tallies.

Polls have proliferated this year in part because it is much easier for journalists to devote the limited space in their papers or on TV to the horse-race aspect of the election rather than its substance. And I admit, I've aided and abetted this process.

In the campaign's final week, though, the candidates can offer little new substance, so attention turns to the political landscape, and there's no question Mr. McCain is in a difficult place. The last national poll that showed Mr. McCain ahead came out Sept. 25 and the 232 polls since then have all shown Mr. Obama leading. Only one time in the past 14 presidential elections has a candidate won the popular vote and the Electoral College after trailing in the Gallup Poll the week before the election: Ronald Reagan in 1980.

But the question that matters is the margin. If Mr. McCain is down by 3%, his task is doable, if difficult. If he's down by 9%, his task is essentially impossible. In truth, however, no one knows for sure what kind of polling deficit is insurmountable or even which poll is correct. All of us should act with the proper understanding that nothing is yet decided.

As for me, I've already cast my absentee ballot in Kerr County, Texas -- joyfully, enthusiastically marking the straight Republican column. I would like to have joined the line Tuesday outside the polling place in Ingram, where I've been registered the past few years. But I will be in New York, part of the vast horde analyzing exit polls, dissecting returns, and pontificating on consequences. I'll thoroughly enjoy myself that night, and probably feel guilty the next morning. But this year's 728 national polls and the thousands of state polls made me do it.



McCain is Winning --Here is the Proof

Some not unreasonable optimism from Evan Sayet

John McCain has the upper hand in the November 4th election. How can I say that when the polls show Obama leading by anywhere from one (IBD, the most accurate pollster the last time out) to 13 from the folks who brought you Dan Rather and the use of forged documents to try and steal the election just four years ago. A brief look at the methodolgy of these polls -- the degree of over-sampling of Democrats corresponding almost to perfection with the degree of Obama's "lead" in them -- shows a tight race, with McCain actually leading by a point or two. This reality is underscored by events within the campaigns which, when analyzed, show an Obama camp in desperation.

1) The politically savvy Governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, is clearly panicking. Rendell has publicly begged the Obama campaign to send their star back to the state for no less than THREE major events to "close the deal" on a state that should have been closed for the leftists month ago. And it's no wonder the campaign is panicking, an Obama internal poll was accidentally released to the media and it shows The Anointed One in a statistical dead heat with his American hero opponent. And this was BEFORE John Murtha basically parrotted Obama's San Francisco speech in which The Anointed One candidly spoke of his disdain for the people of Pennsylvania. Murtha may not be as eloquent as The One, but the condescension and disrespect that he has for the people who "cling" to their Christianity and constitutional rights is exactly the same.

Murtha's poll numbers are cratering. I can't imagine that Obama, who shares Murtha's convictions, aren't doing the same. If I were a Republican strategist, I'd be runing an ad every ten minutes with nothing but these Democrats own words and the tag line "If this is what they THINK of you, imagine what they plan to do TO you."

2) Obama has "suspended" campaigning -- something he refused to do to help quell the financial crisis that he sees as working in his favor -- in order to visit his ailing grandmother. Since this is the same grandmother he had cynically thrown under a bus in his wonderfully eloquent speech in defense of his mentor, Jeremiah Wright -- a woman he later described as nothing more than "a typical white woman," it is fair to be cynical about his real purpose in suddenly caring so much about her he would actually visit her (when he barely spent a minute with her just a few weeks ago when he vacationed in Hawaii.) I suspect, more than anything, it was a desperate attempt to get his name out of the news for a few days, to let the stink of his campaign go away, after several disastrous stories made their way into the public consciousness.

Over the past few weeks a narrative of Obama's thuggery was more and more coming to the fore. Despite the leftist media's best efforts to protect him, the actions of his minions in the thugocracy of ACORN, his allies' vicious attacks on a plumber who merely asked a policy question and the close ties of Obama to the terrorist who segued from murdering Americans to brainwashing their children more and more reminded Americans that they really don't know this neophyte, first term, junior senator who somehow managed to rise to the top of Chicago's corrupt political landscape by affiliating himself with the worst of the worst of the worst. A quick trip to visit "granny" and suddenly questioning the "grieving" candidate would be seen as below the belt.

Meanwhile, it's obvious that Obama DIDN'T suspend his campaign but instead used his time in Hawaii to put together what his campaign is calling a "major economic policy" speech. Unless grandma is a Harvard MBA, it's highly unlikely he wrote, edited and rehearsed this speech at the bedside of the woman he "cares" so much about.

3) Candidates who are well on their way to a landslide do not make "major speeches" in which they introduce new policy. Candidates who recognize that there is a deep mistrust of their policies do. Again, despite the best efforts of the leftist media, Obama's deeply held Marxist beliefs have made it into the minds of mainstream America and Obama, without any lead in the polls, feels he must explain away the evidence.

4) If you'll recall, the reason the God of Change chose Joseph Robinette Biden -- a guy who has been sitting in the US Senate since he was about the same age as Britney Spears is today -- was because he would quell the rightful fears of an electorate that recognizes Obama's utter lack of executive or foreign policy experience. Now Joe has shown himself to be, well, to be nice about it, wholly unhinged. From ordering cripples to "stand up" to describing Obama's fiscal policy in "three letters...J-O-B-S, to his belief that FDR was president in 1929 and that Americans all sat around their televisions watching him, Biden's mental health needs to be seriously questioned.

These insanities, however, pale in comparison to Biden's promise that, should Obama somehow manage to win (or steal) the election, there will be an international crisis within six months BROUGHT ON BY OBAMA, not to mention Biden's expounding on the point by saying Obama's policies will appear to be the wrong response but trust us -- the wholly unknown Obama at the helm, the mentally unstable Biden his number two.

Just in case you think the recognition of Biden's mental instability is just my own, consider that even those fun-loving, Republican-hating kids at Saturday Night Live couldn't help but spoof Biden's insanity, titling their opening piece this week "Sen. Biden and Rep. Murtha Say Crazy Things..." What followed was an almost word-for-word re-enactment of Biden's actual speech.

Perhaps worst of all for the leftists is that cracks are beginning to appear in the monolithic and utterly corrupt media coverage. SNL's lampooning of Biden is but one example. Another is an interview that took place this week where Biden was actually asked a tough question or two. Biden, of course, failed miserably which, in turn, brought on the usual response from the Obama camp, the thuggish attempt to destroy, not Joe the Plumber but Barbara West, one of the few reporters Biden has met who doesn't work inside the cocoon of the Beltway or have aspirations to the anchor desk in leftist New York City.

Put together the panic in PA, the sudden "suspension" of the Obama campaign, the need for a major speech on "economic policy," the meltdown of the "experienced" one on the ticket, the gathering evidence of Obama's ties to thugs, criminals and terrorists, the over sampling of Democrats in the polls and more, and you get a clue as to where we really are in this campaign. With ten days or so to go, Obama's making moves of desperation.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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