McCain aide misspeaks, senator distances self from remarks

Heard what Charlie Black has had to say recently? Mr Black’s an adviser to presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.

The gist of it is this: that a terrorist attack on the United States in the months leading up to November would boost Senator McCain’s campaign.

Of course, Sen McCain quickly repudiated the comments: “I cannot imagine why he would say it. It’s not true. I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear.”

Let’s face it though — Charlie Black knew what he was saying is, to an extent, true. There are multiple versions as to how this may be true — the BBC’s Justin Webb believes that the terrorists would want a McCain presidency for certain reasons (funny, wasn’t Senator McCain saying at one stage Hamas would like Barack Obama in office?).

Charlie Black is right to an extent, in my view. An attack would serve McCain’s campaign by giving him a chance to show off his much-touted experience. Whether it would benefit Senator McCain’s campaign is another matter. And indeed, these remarks haven’t.

Curt Schilling faces possibly-career-ending surgery

News this Friday evening (morning U.S. time) that the Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Curt Schilling will undergo surgery on Monday to repair a damaged shoulder which could cost him his career.

Two World Series rings with the Red Sox, including the famous one in 2004 with the bloody sock; 216 wins and over 3,100 strikeouts in his career. What a guy. I desperately hope to see him back on the mound next year.

MLB.com writer Ian Browne’s report quotes GM Theo Epstein as saying:

When he had to really start to let it go in bullpens, he hurt and he really wasn’t able to let it go. He was examined by [Red Sox medical director] Dr. [Thomas] Gill and at this point, it seems like the best alternative is just to go ahead and let him have surgery, that this path was not going to let him get back on the mound for us this year.

We weren’t banking on a full season from him. We had originally approached him about sort of a half-season or a third-season plan and that wasn’t something he was interested in. He thought he was capable of pitching a whole season. As it turns out, we didn’t get anything from him.

In the back of our minds, we hoped, ‘Hey, maybe this guy will come back and really provide a big boost for us given everything that he’s done in the postseason.’ We’d never bet against Curt Schilling. But we always knew that this was a possibility. Something was wrong with his shoulder and we don’t know how it happened.

It happened over the offseason, and I think the most appropriate treatment is what our doctors recommended — the conservative route — strengthen it, see if he can get back. A lot of guys do get back on the mound and pitch effectively just by strengthening their shoulder, and at 41 years old, it just wasn’t able to happen.

Obama campaign’s headscarf flap

Just a short post today — this from CNN caught my eye. Not the best way to go about proclaiming “change” if his campaign are alienating and sidelining Muslims. Worth noting they apologised pretty quickly once the issue was brought to light, although I think the “photos of women in Muslim head scarves attending Obama rallies and standing behind the candidate on stage” cited by CNN to be in the email is overkill.

Max Mosley must go

The president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Max Mosley, today survived a vote of confidence in his leadership after a sex scandal rocked the world of motorsport earlier this year. A British tabloid charged that Mosley, the son of former British Union of Fascists leader Sir Oswald Mosley, held a sex orgy — with Nazi connotations — with four German prostitutes.

Once the story broke, comments critical of Mosley (and the tabloid, to be fair) came in very quickly, especially from the German and Israelis, as well as major Formula One teams and sponsors. Former F1 world champions Sir Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill have both spoken out against Mosley, as has long-time friend and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

However, at a vote today at FIA headquarters in Paris, Mosley survived the vote with 103 votes in his favour. A group of dissenters — led by American FIA member group the American Automobile Association and including the Japanese, French, Spanish and Europe’s largest automobile organisation the German ADAC — have now threatened to split from the FIA, which is an unprecedented threat and could cause serious doubts over the future of competitive motorsport.

Robert Darbelnet, the AAA’s president, told reporters that “one of the potential ramifications is the division or a split way from the organisation that might in fact provide an opportunity for like-minded clubs to find a representative body in a different form”.

Consensus appears to be that despite him winning the vote, his reputation and that of the FIA’s has been tarnished to the extent that Mosley should go, despite his insistence that he will stay on until the end of his term.

I had the privilege to speak to Sir Jackie Stewart earlier this year. While this issue had not yet come up then, a few questions I asked him got me answers that I felt were strongly held beliefs of his. And so I do think that Sir Jackie, and others, continue to believe Mosley must go. They need to continue the pressure on Mosley and the FIA. The 50 or so associations that voted against Mosley must continue to apply similar pressure of the possibility of a breakaway grouping of associations.

In fact, the ADAC has already suspended all links with the FIA, describing the result that kept Mosley in power “[regretful] and [incredulous]”. This is not good for the future of the sport. Surely Max Mosley is not short-sighted and self-inflated enough to believe that his staying on can in any way benefit motor sport.

He should graciously accept the confidence placed in him by the 103 associations but acknowledge the 50 or so other associations who do not want to see him continue. He should also know by now that many of the political elite in countries F1 visits no longer welcome him — Bahrain’s rulers withdrew an invitation to him earlier this year. Surely he should know it is improbable for him to stay on as FIA president, and neither will it do him or the FIA or the sport any good.

Max Mosley MUST go.

Random rant: Primary season ends

I wrote part of this for something else, but I figure it’s worth posting here as a rant. Just remember, I’m not American, but I follow U.S. politics fairly closely and this is how I do feel about things. Oh, and I’d like John McCain to win. Not that that’s important in my arguments below.

As Democratic primary season draws to a close with voting today in South Dakota and Montana — two states which surely would not have believed you if you told them on January 3, when the first contest was held, that they would factor into the final equation. But such is the electoral system in the U.S. that this is the situation we find ourselves in:

Before the actual election in November (which, again, isn’t technically for President but for electoral college voters), there is still this long and drawn-out series of elections in all 50 U.S. states (plus the overseas U.S. territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and for the Democrats, one for ‘Democrats Abroad’) to decide who actually goes head-to-head in the “final”, so to speak.

To be fair, it is this series of contests — primaries and caucuses, held internally by the two main parties that elect delegates which are pledged to a candidate – which has given us the most riveting election in years, with the Democratic Party still having yet to decide between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. With 2,118 of these delegates needed to win the party’s nomination, neither candidate has reached that target yet – although Mr Obama looks set to achieve that number soon.

Between the two main American parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, their 50-odd primaries and caucuses are run in different ways, just to add confusion to the layman observer somewhere else in the world. On the Republican side — an argument Senator Clinton has made many times — some states award delegates on a ‘winner-takes-all’ basis (and Senator John McCain won most of these states). On the Democratic side, delegates in all states are allocated proportionately, sometimes at state level, sometimes at county level, or sometimes at district level.

It is not hard to imagine a person somewhere in the world who isn’t well-versed in American politics wondering why there’s such a confusing system and why they don’t use the popular vote (another Senator Clinton argument) rather than the delegate system, as the method of distributing the delegates can mean that even when one candidate wins more votes, the other wins more delegates (Mrs Clinton won the popular vote in Texas; Mr Obama won more delegates there).

But let’s face it, the popular vote doesn’t do anything, even at federal level — remember how Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000? Look who’s in office right now.

Even then, delegates aside, the DNC finally resolved (or at least one hopes so, seeing as how Mrs Clinton is considering an appeal to the Credentials Committee) the issue of Florida and Michigan delegates — originally penalised because the two states held their primaries too early.

Why have it staggered in the first place? Is it really such a bad thing to hold all 50 states’ primaries on the same day? Wouldn’t that resolve everything so much quicker? That might force superdelegates to endorse in advance of primary day if they don’t want their endorsement to slip by unnoticed if one candidate secures the nomination purely through pledged delegates. Or perhaps, as a more radical idea, put a deadline on superdelegate endorsements before beginning the primary season. But I digress.

Let’s get on to the “final”, if you will, then. What exactly is the use of the electoral college? As far as I understand it personally, the number of electoral college votes per state is based on the state’s population. If this is true, allow me to raise a hypothetical scenario. Let’s say state X has 4 million people and 40 EC votes and state Y has 5 million people and 50 EC votes. It doesn’t mean state Y has more registered voters than state X, nor does it mean that more people in state Y will vote compared to people in state X. Is that really a fair way of deciding a president? We’ve seen where it’s gotten us with President Bush.

Thoughts welcome.