Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Canada: Israel disputes NRA claim

The Globe and Mail

Officials challenge NRA’s claims about Israeli gun policies

JERUSALEM — The Associated Press

Far from the image of a heavily-armed population where ordinary people have their own arsenals to repel attackers, Israel allows its people to acquire firearms only if they can prove their professions or places of residence put them in danger. The country relies on its security services, not armed citizens, to prevent terror attacks.

Though military service in Israel is compulsory, routine familiarity with weapons does not carry over into civilian life. Israel has far fewer private weapons per capita than the U.S., and while there have been gangster shootouts on the streets from time to time, gun rampages outside the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are unheard of.

The National Rifle Association responded to the Dec. 14 killing of 20 first-graders and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school by resisting calls for tighter gun control and calling for armed guards and police at schools. On Sunday, the lobby's chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, invoked his perception of the Israeli school security system to back his proposal.

“Israel had a whole lot of school shootings until they did one thing: They said, ‘We're going to stop it,’ and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then,” Mr. LaPierre said on the NBC News show Meet the Press.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's time...please watch

Yesterday's's NRA position?

Hat tip to

Rational thought vs the NRA

PJ:  Rational thought does exist in America as the following article proves.  Sadly up until now, those thoughts have been mere whispers compared to the powerful shouts of the nation's gun lobbies who want guns...more and more guns...without regulations in place for their purchase, possession and use.  

For decades gun advocates have distorted the Constitutional Second Amendment which simply states:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." 


Hmmmm...the founding fathers wanted regulation of firearms...?  Who would'a thunk it?  

Slate Magazine

When Gun Nuts Write Gun Laws, Nuts Have Guns

We are living in the world the NRA has made.

So this is what Wayne LaPierre came up with, with a week to reflect on the news that a law-abiding gun owner's legally purchased rifle, in the hands of her firearm-trained son, had been used to slaughter 20 kids: more guns, more law-abiding gun owners, more more more lead-spraying death machinery, more killing to stop the killers until all the killers have been killed. Only when we have eliminated the threat of "gun-free school zones," the danger and horror of children going through a school day unsurrounded by the implements of death, will we all feel safe.

People who live in the world of causes and effects and verifiable truths, the world the NRA has long since abandoned, had no trouble pointing out the flaws in LaPierre's analysis—the fact, for instance, that there had been an armed deputy sheriff on duty at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. Around the time LaPierre was speaking, someone in Pennsylvania was shooting another batch of people, including armed state troopers.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holy Cow--The most dangerous country in the world

PJ: The NRA's answer to gun violence= more guns. The  Head of NRA says,

"Only ‘Good Guy’ With A Gun Can Stop ‘Bad Guy’ With A Gun" the recent altercation at the Florida pizza shop* where the guy with the gun (which he obtained legally) shot the unarmed guy because the unarmed guy was complaining about the wait time for his pizza...Could the NRA please tell me which one was the good guy?


Talking Points Memo

LaPierre Calls On Congress To Put Armed Police Officers ‘In Every Single School’

Gun deaths this week in the US

Slate Magazine 

How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?

Slate partners with @GunDeaths for an interactive, crowdsourced tally of the toll firearms have taken since Dec. 14.

Please go to this link for the startling statistics:

UK: An American love affair: Guns, guns and more guns

PJ:  What a pathetic reaction by some in America:  arm teachers...provide tiny children with bullet proof backpacks...more guns not fewer....  Will children eventually have to wear full bodyarmor? Will teachers have to carry their assigned weapons or face disciplinary action? Will everyone in America soon be outfitted with combat gear to go the the cinema?  

This last Sunday, in Florida*, a man complained about the slow service at a pizza take away. Another man took action and shot the unarmed man...twice. The shooter had no history of mental illness and was carrying his weapon legally.  Is this what gun enthusiasts want? What if a teacher took matters of disagreement with...anyone...into their own hands and used their (required) gun to deal with the altercation? Is this the safe world that America wants for their children?


The Independent

Newtown massacre: US races to stock up on weapons ahead of potential new federal ban

Rather than recoiling from the gun, Americans are emptying stores of ‘sporting rifles’ while online prices soar

David Usborne
It is a sad tradition in America that each mass shooting is followed by a surge in gun sales, in part because people calculate they need more firepower to protect themselves. That explains why the days since last Friday have also seen a surge in sales of special backpacks for school children lined with bullet-proof material. Their manufacturers allege they work well as shields in classroom firefights.

Now, however, there is the added fear among gun enthusiasts that new restrictions are around the corner and they had better get the weapons they covet before it’s too late.

UK: Murdoch's power goes beyond Fox's propaganda

The Guardian

Why the US media ignored Murdoch's brazen bid to hijack the presidency

Did the Washington Post and others underplay the story through fear of the News Corp chairman, or simply tin-eared judgment?
So now we have it: what appears to be hard, irrefutable evidence of Rupert Murdoch's ultimate and most audacious attempt – thwarted, thankfully, by circumstance – to hijack America's democratic institutions on a scale equal to his success in kidnapping and corrupting the essential democratic institutions of Great Britain through money, influence and wholesale abuse of the privileges of a free press.

In the American instance, Murdoch's goal seems to have been nothing less than using his media empire – notably Fox News – to stealthily recruit, bankroll and support the presidential candidacy of General David Petraeus in the 2012 election.

Thus in the spring of 2011 – less than 10 weeks before Murdoch's centrality to the hacking and politician-buying scandal enveloping his British newspapers was definitively revealed – Fox News' inventor and president, Roger Ailes, dispatched an emissary to Afghanistan to urge Petraeus to turn down President Obama's expected offer to become CIA director and, instead, run for the Republican nomination for president, with promises of being bankrolled by Murdoch. Ailes himself would resign as president of Fox News and run the campaign, according to the conversation between Petraeus and the emissary, K T McFarland, a Fox News on-air defense "analyst" and former spear carrier for national security principals in three Republican administrations.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to rid a country of gun violence

 The Washington Post

Fareed Zakaria
Fareed Zakaria
Opinion Writer

The solution to gun violence is clear

Is America’s popular culture the cause? This is highly unlikely, as largely the same culture exists in other rich countries. Youth in England and Wales, for example, are exposed to virtually identical cultural influences as in the United States. Yet the rate of gun homicide there is a tiny fraction of ours. The Japanese are at the cutting edge of the world of video games. Yet their gun homicide rate is close to zero! Why? Britain has tough gun laws. Japan has perhaps the tightest regulation of guns in the industrialized world.

The data in social science are rarely this clear. They strongly suggest that we have so much more gun violence than other countries because we have far more permissive laws than others regarding the sale and possession of guns. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 50 percent of the guns.
There is clear evidence that tightening laws — even in highly individualistic countries with long traditions of gun ownership — can reduce gun violence. In Australia, after a 1996 ban on all automatic and semiautomatic weapons — a real ban, not like the one we enacted in 1994 with 600-plus exceptions — gun-related homicides dropped 59 percent over the next decade. The rate of suicide by firearm plummeted 65 percent. (Almost 20,000 Americans die each year using guns to commit suicide — a method that is much more successful than other forms of suicide.)

Ironically..... Kinder Surprise are banned in the USA because they pose a danger to small children.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Please read this America

The New York Times

Do We Have the Courage to Stop This?

IN the harrowing aftermath of the school shooting in Connecticut, one thought wells in my mind: Why can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars?  
So let’s treat firearms rationally as the center of a public health crisis that claims one life every 20 minutes. The United States realistically isn’t going to ban guns, but we can take steps to reduce the carnage. 

American schoolchildren are protected by building codes that govern stairways and windows. School buses must meet safety standards, and the bus drivers have to pass tests. Cafeteria food is regulated for safety. The only things we seem lax about are the things most likely to kill. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has five pages of regulations about ladders, while federal authorities shrug at serious curbs on firearms. Ladders kill around 300 Americans a year, and guns 30,000.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Probably my last post....The insanity of the GOP continues

PJ:  After the election, I watched and read so many pieces that outlined the end of the crazy in the GOP that I was a bit skeptical.  Isn't this what pundits said in 2008?  

Sadly, many republicans have drifted into a frightening universe that is so far right and so far wrong that the entertainment value of American politics has left me.  I am saddened by the hatred and misinformation that surfaces on Fox News and fright-talk radio on a daily basis.  I am shocked at the bigotry and vitriol that is evidenced by today's conservative talkers.  Dear readers, the US is not drifting into communisim as the rantings of the hate-filled Sarah Palin insisted in her role as a Fox News expert said the other day.  There is no need to "take your country back!" from other Americans as the right-wing chants since the election of President Obama.  There is no boogie man waiting to control every American citizen holded up in the White House.  There is no reality to back up the fear of "Sharia Law" that so many on the right postulate.  Susan Rice did not cause the greatest scandal since Watergate as Senator John McCain insists.  And no, the UN is not lying in wait to take over the US.   

I do hope that sanity will eventually prevail but I'll not hold my breath.  There is too much unfounded fear and hatred circulating.  A fear and hatred that has been manufactured by a right-wing that has lost perspective; a right-wing  that believes unfounded propaganda; a right-wing that is nursed with a steady diet of misinformation and lies; a right-wing that refuses to accept fact vs the fiction that feeds it.  The party that once supported science and education is now the party that disputes both. 

From Bloomberg

Help Republicans Rescue Their Party From Itself

Cruelty, fear, cowardice, xenophobia and disrespect invaded the inner sanctum of the U.S. government this week, bringing embarrassment and dishonor to what was once the greatest deliberative body in the world: the U.S. Senate.

On Dec. 4, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, an 89- year-old Republican whose right arm was shattered in combat during World War II, was wheeled into the Senate chamber by his wife to rally support for a United Nations treaty that should have been entirely unobjectionable.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, negotiated under President George W. Bush and signed by more than 150 nations, takes a stand against “discrimination on the basis of disability” and in favor of “respect for inherent dignity.” It’s a largely symbolic document with implementation language that consists mostly of a weak recommendation for “due consideration” of its lofty aims. Even so, with U.S. leadership, it could promote compassion for the disabled in dozens of countries where they are cruelly shunned.

Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who long ago discredited himself as a serious person by championing junk science on climate change, said on the Senate floor, “This unelected bureaucratic body would pass recommendations that would be forced upon the United States if we were a signatory.”
That’s completely false. Not a single clause or phrase in the treaty impinges on national sovereignty, unless one believes -- as some xenophobic neo-isolationists do -- that the UN itself is a threat to the U.S.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

UK: Silly season and Benghazi

PJ:  If my staunch republican father was alive today, he would deride this conservative publication, claiming incorrectly that it had changed into a liberal publication. I mention that only because there are a lot of American conservatives who will do the same. When the facts or opinions deviate from their own, they claim fowl and bias.   The assessment that The Econmist has turned liberal would, of course, be incorrect. The Economist remains a very conservative magazine.  What my father and many of today's republicans would have missed is that the magazine always tries to give rational voice to issues, even if that voice deviates from the strict talking points of America's conservative movement.  Perhaps it's time to put partisan bickering aside and work together?  Heavy sigh.

Right now, members of the GOP are beating the conspiracy drums with respect to what happened in Benghazi and claiming some far-fetched cover-up conspiracies in the process. Senators such as McCain and Graham have repeatedly demanded that the administration release information.  Why then have they skipped security briefings in order to hold press conferences to claim that they are not being briefed?  Another heavy sigh.  
It's all very sordid and sad and unfortuneately the norm in Washington, D.C.

The Economist

Susan Rice

Benghazi-gate gets even more ludicrous

Nov 15th 2012, 14:18 by M.S. 

REPUBLICAN senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham devoted an appearance at the Washington Ideas Forum on Wednesday to vowing to filibuster if Susan Rice, the current UN ambassador, is nominated to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. They're apparently ticked off over her statements on talk shows on September 15th about the Benghazi attacks. Barack Obama got pretty incensed about this at his press conference later in the day, and Kevin Drum argues he was right to be incensed. As Mr Drum says, everything Ms Rice said on September 15th was in fact the judgment at that moment of American intelligence agencies, and she relayed that judgment accurately. The only thing that was even arguably wrong in those intelligence assessments was the claim that there had been a copycat protest over those anti-Muslim YouTube videos in Benghazi; intelligence agencies didn't start calling this into question until some time later. "Berating Rice, who had nothing to do with Benghazi aside from representing the administration on these talk shows, is nuts," Mr Drum writes. "The intelligence community was wrong about one relatively unimportant fact, and Rice passed along that mistake. That's it. There's no coverup, no conspiracy, no incompetence, no scandal."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Germany: The decline of a once great nation

Der Spiegel

Divided States of America Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation

In the show, the audience reacts with shock, just as a real-life American audience would. But the truth is that America has transformed itself into a land of limited opportunities. In fact, that was the way SPIEGEL referred to the United States in a 1979 cover story, when the US economy had been hard-hit by the oil crisis.

But today's crisis is far more comprehensive, extending to the social, political and spiritual realms. The worst thing about it is that the country still refuses to engage in any debate over the reasons for its decline. It seems as if many Americans today no longer want to talk about how they can strengthen their union. Criticism is seen as a betrayal of America's greatness.

But that notion of greatness leaves much to be desired. Other numbers can be readily added to those rattled off by the protagonist in Sorkin's "The Newsroom," and the results are sobering. For instance, the United States is no longer among the world's top 10 countries when it comes to the state of its infrastructure. In fact, it spends less than Europe to maintain its roads and bridges, tunnels, train stations and airports.

According to the US Federal Highway Administration, one in four of the more than 600,000 bridges in the world's richest country are either "inadequate" or outdated. According to some studies, the United States would have to invest some $225 billion a year between now and 2050 to regain an adequate, modern infrastructure. That's 60 percent more than it invests today.

A Lack of Strength
It isn't hard to predict that this won't happen. The hatred of big government has reached a level in the United States that threatens the country's very existence. Americans everywhere may vow allegiance to the nation and its proud Stars and Stripes, but when it comes time to pay the bills and distribute costs, and when solidarity is needed, all sense of community evaporates.

UK: What really happened on the campaign trail

The Guardian

US election 2012: the inside track on Obama's victory and Romney's defeat

As the dust settles and the president gets back to work, we are starting to learn what really happened on the campaign trail

By Tom McCarthy

After the election come the backgrounders – thousands of words of meticulously reported (or briefed) explanations of what went miserably wrong or miraculously right. As some of the campaign's richer inside scenes and better kept secrets, here are some of the highlights...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

UK: The state of the GOP

The Economist


State of denial

The real blow to Republicans may be not that they failed to take the White House, but that they did not lose more heavily

Face the facts

Republican pessimism is more than a PR headache. Put simply, it is hard for a party to win national elections in a country that it seems to dislike. Mr Romney’s campaign slogan was “Believe in America”. But too many on his side believe in a version of America from which displeasing facts or arguments are ruthlessly excluded. Todd Akin did not implode as a Senate candidate because of his stern opposition to abortion even in cases of rape or incest: many Republicans in Congress share those views. His downfall came because in trying to deny that his principles involved a trade-off with compassion for rape victims he came up with the unscientific myth that the bodies of women subjected to rape can shut down a pregnancy.

It was a telling moment of denial, much like the comforting myth that there is no such thing as climate change or, if there is, that humans are not involved. Ensconced in a parallel world of conservative news sources and conservative arguments, all manner of comforting alternative visions of reality surfaced during the 2012 election. Many, like Mr Akin’s outburst, involved avoiding having to think about unwelcome things (often basic science or economics). It became a nostrum among rank-and-file Republicans that mainstream opinion polls are biased and should be ignored, for instance, and that voter fraud is rampant and explains much of the Democrats’ inner-city support. Both conspiracies sounded a lot like ways of wishing the other side away.

Thoughtful Republicans are not oblivious to the dangers that they face. Optimists hope that new leaders will emerge to lead their movement rapidly towards greater realism, and greater cheeriness. If not, electoral defeats far more severe than those inflicted this time will surely impose such changes. Republicans may look back and wish the reckoning had started sooner.

Malaysia: Political maturity

 The Malay Mail

The audacity of hoping for political maturity

Friday, November 09, 2012 - 16:03

“We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. The Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight. In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.” — President Barack Obama

“The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work ... I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.” — Governor Mitt Romney

THE above paragraphs are taken from the victory and concessions speeches of the two men who ran America’s most divisive and expensive elections in over 100 years.

It was bitterly fought, through three debates, calling each other’s bluff and coining new phrases like “Romneysia” and “Obamabaloney”.

Lebanon: The fantasy world that the GOP inhabits

The Daily Star

Mitt Romney’s reality check leaves him shell-shocked

The same disregard for reality has been the hallmark not only of the Republican campaign but of the entire Republican Party in recent times. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a report in October showing that the national unemployment rate remained “essentially unchanged” at 7.9 percent, Republican operatives sought to discredit the highly respected BLS. When polls showed that Romney was falling behind President Barack Obama, they sought to discredit the polls. When the non-partisan Congressional Research Service reported that a Republican tax plan would do nothing to foster economic growth, Republican Senators muscled the CRS into withdrawing its report.

These refusals to accept matters of plain fact reflect a still wider pattern. Increasingly, the Republican Party, once a fairly normal political party, has granted itself a license to live in an alternate reality – a world in which George W. Bush did find the weapons of mass destruction that he had thought were in Iraq; tax cuts eliminate budget deficits; Obama is not only a Muslim but was born in Kenya and thus should be disqualified from the presidency; and global warming is a hoax concocted by a cabal of socialist scientists. (The Democrats, for their part, have had one foot in the camp of unreality as well.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

UK: The party that lost the White House

The Guardian

Mitt Romney lost because hardline Republicans betrayed him

The Tea Party zealots, homophobes and misogynists hijacked Romney's campaign – and threaten the Republican party's future

By Simon Tisdall

Obama aimed unerringly for the centre ground of American life and politics. Republican party leaders and pressure groups showed they don't know where that heartland lies any more.

By campaign end, Romney – moderating his tone and positions – was finally connecting with 2012 America. GOP strategist Peggy Noonan called it Romney's "quiet rise", and there was evidence to support it. But the Tea Party zealots, the radical evangelicals, the homophobes, the misogynists and the rest of the unthinking, feckless right had already scuppered his chances. It was too late to turn it around.

Obama won on the central issue of the economy – which should by rights have sunk his ship with all hands. Exit polls showed just as many voters trusted Obama as Romney to handle the nation's finances, despite his term record of high unemployment and real hardship for many middle- and lower-income families.

By all historical precedent, given the figures, Romney should have sewn it up months ago. But his Reagan-esque ideas were out of date. The voters replied: "It's the economy, but we're not stupid."

UK: The GOP civil war

The Independent

For Mitt Romney's defeated Republican Party the post-mortem has already begun

Since Republicans like to win, they will no doubt eventually find a way to fix this. But first, there will be civil war.

By Guy Adams

The post-mortem had already begun by the time a grim-faced Mitt Romney walked to the lectern of the Grand Ballroom at Boston’s vast Convention Centre at around 1am and told a thinning crowd of supporters that the game was up.

They had gone through all the stages of loss: denial, anger, and now grief. A few of them wept, openly; one elderly woman collapsed, and had to be helped by paramedics. In his speech, Mitt said he still “believes” in America. But his crowd was mourning not just the loss of an election, but the death of a country they thought they knew.

Dick Morris, the Republican pollster who predicted a Romney landslide, lamed the defeat on Hurricane Sandy. So did Rush Limbaugh. On Twitter, Donald Trump blamed the “total sham” of America’s electoral college, and called for a “revolution.”

History will record that the Republicans failed to beat a wobbly incumbent, with anaemic approval ratings, who (for disputed reasons) had presided over some of the worst unemployment since the Great Depression. It will also show that the GOP has now won a majority of the popular vote just once, in five attempts, during the past 20 years.

Australia: Defeat for a man of questionable convictions

Sydney Morning Herald

Defeat for a man of contradictions

Paul McGeough

Paul McGeough

MITT ROMNEY'S bid for the US presidency failed because voters saw through him – as a candidate the man was a political chameleon.
On his second bid for the White House, Romney held nothing back – last week, a flip-flop; yesterday, a backtrack; today, a retreat; and tomorrow, a sidestep of what he had said last week or last year.
He needed to put Americans at ease about his vast wealth, but whenever he did his foot usually ended up in his mouth. 
A sharply worded editorial in The Washington Post on Sunday argued that the only consistency in the Romney campaign had been the candidate's contempt for the electorate. But that he went so close to becoming president reveals more than we might have expected about the people and politics of the global superpower.


Germany: Europe welcomes Obama win

Der Spiegel

Presidential Election in US Europe Welcomes Obama's Win

Photo Gallery: Obama's Victory, Romney's Defeat

Europe was quick to congratulate US President Barack Obama on Wednesday morning as he won his re-election battle against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Markets in European capitals appeared poised for a rally, but dark clouds loom ahead.

In the end, it wasn't even that close. US President Barack Obama easily surpassed the 270 electoral votes he needed to defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Tuesday evening as swing state after swing state fell into the incumbent's column. At just after 1 a.m. on the East Coast, with his deficit insurmountable, Romney conceded defeat.

"This is a time of great challenges for America and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation," Romney said in remarks before supporters in Boston. "I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader." Just prior to his concession speech, Romney had called Obama to congratulate him.

European stock futures signalled a strong opening on Wednesday morning on the news as the uncertainty hanging over the leadership of the US economy was removed. Analysts, however, fear that the bump will be short-lived as the first challenge of Obama's second term approaches, that of coming to agreement with Republicans on a deficit reduction deal to dodge the $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases that will automatically go into effect on Jan. 2, 2013 in the absence of such a deal.

European Union leaders likewise released a statement on Wednesday morning congratulating Obama. "We have the pleasure of extending our warm congratulations to President Obama on his re-election as president of the United States of America," read the statement released by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. "The United States is a key strategic partner of the European Union and we look forward to continuing the close cooperation established with President Obama over these last four years, to further strengthening our bilateral ties and to jointly addressing global challenges, including in the fields of security and economy."

Israel: Netanyahu lauds Obama victory


Netanyahu lauds Obama victory: Israel-U.S. ties are stronger than ever

Defense Minister Barak: We will overcome any differences, Obama will continue to support Israel; Ambassador Oren: I don't foresee any changes to our relationship.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Tuesday congratulated President Barack Obama on his victory in the U.S. elections, in a special message released just moments after the results were announced.

"The strategic alliance between Israel the U.S. is stronger than ever," he declared. "I will continue to work with President Obama to protect the security interests of Israeli citizens."

UK: Obama wins

The Guardian

President Obama wins four more years as America delivers decisive verdict

By Ewen MacAskill

Barack Obama promised the American people that the 'the best is yet to come" as he accepted a second term in the White House after easily beating off the challenge from his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.
With a second chance to fulfil some of the expectations that greeted his election in 2008, Obama used his soaring victory speech at a rally in Chicago – by far his best of the entire campaign – to press for a bipartisan approach to politics and returned once again to his theme of hope.

Stepping up to the lectern to the upbeat strains of Stevie Wonder's Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours, Obama told the ecstatic crowd of supporters: "Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back. And we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come."

In a speech that lasted more than 25 minutes, after paying emotional tribute to his wife Michelle and his daughters Malia and Sasha – as well as to his vice-president, Joe Biden – Obama returned to the message that first brought him to national attention.

"We are not as divided as our politics suggests," he said. "We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sage words

PJ:  In recent years, Scandinavian countries have been rated the highest in the western world because for their citizens feeling of personal freedom, happiness and upward mobility.  These same countries have some of the most efficient social programs in the world.  It is no coincidence that removing the fear and worries about paying for health care, education, child care, university and retirement have contributed to these citizen's feelings of well-being.  

But the right wing in the US loves to paint such programs with its evil-socialism brush.  Funny how they also lavish praise on Israel while ignoring that Israel too has many socialised services such as fantastic socialized medicine (of which Mitt Romney praised during his summer visit in 2012:  Perhaps the US should look just a little closer at reality and not paint all people who support government assisted programs as boogie men in waiting.  

Katrina vanden Heuvel
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Opinion Writer

FDR and the fight to defend our freedom

On Jan. 6, 1941, as Nazi Germany tightened its cruel grip on Europe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered his annual State of the Union address. He acknowledged the terrible costs of war and argued that the sacrifice would be accepted by future generations only if it led to a newer, better world for all people everywhere, a world based on the four human freedoms central to democracy — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

They were, in his view, fundamental American values, and an antidote to the poison of growing tyranny. Three years later, in his 1944 State of the Union address, Roosevelt translated those values into what became known as the “Economic Bill of Rights” — an uncompromising articulation of economic security as a condition of individual freedom.

UK: Rewarding bad behaviour

The Guardian

A Mitt Romney win would merely reward Republicans for bad behaviour

Barack Obama's presidency may have been too timid, but let's not forget who's been responsible for the US's political gridlock
And so it was that by the end of last week you got a sense of what an Obama presidency might have been, and might be again, were it not for the wilful obstruction of an opposition whose primary stated aim was to deny him a second term: too timid for what is necessary but nonetheless the best that is possible within the narrow confines of American electoralism. Of course, he still has to win on Tuesday, which is by no means certain. But the dying days of the campaign put to rest one of the cases against him that has gained most traction among waverers.

The arguments of the Des Moines Register and the Orlando Sentinel are true as far as they go. But they don't go very far unless they locate the source of the gridlock and hold to account those responsible for it. In the absence of that, handing the presidency to Romney becomes little more than a reward for bad behaviour.

Monday, November 5, 2012

International Poll shows more support for Obama

PJ:  Republicans have cried as loudly as they can that Obama has hurt America internationally.  The evidence proves quite the opposite.  


Global Poll: Obama Overwhelmingly Preferred to Romney

Despite Obama facing a closer race than in 2008, his support around the world has not slipped relative to four years ago. The current results are broadly in line with the results of a similar BBC World Service poll conducted in 2008, which found that Obama was the preferred choice for US President in all 23 nations polled. Compared to four years ago, support for Obama’s election has risen in seven of the 15 countries polled in both years (France, Brazil, the UK, Panama, Indonesia, India, and Turkey), dropped in four (Kenya, Mexico, Poland, and China), and is steady in four (Australia, Canada, Nigeria, and Germany).

The emphatic preference for Obama’s re-election worldwide is in sharp contrast to the state of public opinion in the USA, where polls now show the two candidates to be nearly tied in public backing.
GlobeScan Director of Global Insights Sam Mountford comments: “While the presidential race in America looks like going down to the wire, global public opinion appears to be firmly behind Barack Obama’s re-election—even if two in five express no preference between the two candidates.”

UK: Tampering with the right to vote?

The Guardian

Florida Republicans impinging on right to vote, say Democrats

State's Democrats file lawsuit to keep polling places open as voter anger grows

By Chris McGreal

The Miami-Dade elections headquarters shut it doors on Sunday to people attempting to request absentee ballots because so many people showed up. Outside, would-be voters protested, shouting: "Let us vote".
Myrna Peralta, who waited with her four-year-old grandson for nearly two hours before being turned away, told the Miami Herald: "This is America, not a third-world country … They're not letting people vote."

After the outcry spread over social media, the department opened its doors again later in the afternoon. But the incident reflected deepening frustration at what are widely seen as Republican attempts to manipulate the election.

Long queues over the past week for early voting reflected a record turnout to vote early in Florida, with about 4 million people casting their ballots in advance of election day proper on Tuesday, as well as the longest ballot paper in the state's history, including complicated constitutional amendments.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chris Rock's message for White People

Very Funny

UK: Iran suspends uranium enrichment

The Guardian

Iran suspends uranium enrichment

Move intended as gesture of goodwill before negotiations with US over nuclear programme begin next week
Asfari said he hoped sanctions would be lifted in return for Iran's actions, otherwise it would resume the programme, according to a website belonging to the Al Arabiya news channel. Talks aimed at halting Iran's enrichment programme have made little progress, leading to the west tightening sanctions and increasing the prospect of military action by Israel.

The Islamic republic's economy has plummeted in the grip of punitive economic measures and Tehran indicated earlier this month that it would be willing to negotiate. However, the offer to suspend enrichment required so many concessions that it was dismissed by the United States.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

China: Hiring surges in US


New job date gives Obama hopeful sign

BEIJING, Nov. 3 (Xinhuanet) -- U.S. employers stepped up hiring in October, creating more than 170-thousands jobs according to the latest data released by the Labor Department. And there was only a small increase in the jobless rate due to more workers restarting their job hunts.
The data is seen as a hopeful sign for a lackluster US economy that has been a drag on President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.

With the economy at the center of the campaign, the latest jobs figures were crucial for many who were still undecided.

On Friday, the US Labor Department announced that the US added 171,000 jobs in October.
The jobless rate at one time had peaked at 10 percent.
Now it has edged up a tenth of a point to 7.9 percent, though that was due to workers surging back into the labor force, as only people who are looking for a job count as unemployed.
The employment data issued on Friday is considered as the last major report card on the economy before Tuesday’s presidential election.

Germany: What if Romney wins?

Der Spiegel
PJ:  Germans have had a horrible history with far right politics and are loath to return to such ideals.  While their government is in nature conservative, on the whole they support progressive policies like one of the best public health care programs in Europe.  And while the support for fiscal conservative policies is intact, the population keeps a wary eye on any other governmental movement drifting too far to the right.  Today's US GOP has not drifted but has surged so far right that Germans suspect that a republican candidate such as "severely conservative" Mitt Romney will kowtow to the far-right leaders in his party making him suspect and perhaps even dangerous. 

The American Enigma Berlin Unsure about a Possible President Romney

Germans have long since made up their minds about Mitt Romney. Only 5 percent would give him their vote if they had one, they say.

The result of the most recent poll by Forsa is far from surprising. When America votes, the German heart traditionally beats for the Democratic candidate. To many, the Republicans are suspect: cocky, Christian-conservative, narrow-minded and often hawkish -- at least according to the widespread cliché. Some 92 percent of Germans, the poll found, would vote to return incumbent Barack Obama to the White House. They aren't allowed to cast a ballot, of course, and are damned to be observers, nervously standing on the sidelines. Obama and Romney are neck-and-neck in the polls, with just days to go before Election Day next Tuesday. And politicians in Berlin have long since begun considering the possibility that Romney may take over the reins of state.

International IHT: Reality vs politics

International Herald Tribune

Jobs Are Growing, Not Stagnating

The presidential campaign has presented two very different approaches. This page rejected the approach of cutting taxes, slashing federal spending, and deregulating the banks and business, even before Mr. Romney made those Republican chestnuts his agenda. Never-ending tax cuts and excessive deregulation have been tried and have proved disastrous. Spending cuts in a slow economy are self-defeating, as is being amply demonstrated in Europe. 

Mr. Obama has asserted his employment agenda, including school and infrastructure rebuilding and aid to states to hire teachers. This was detailed in his jobs bill from last year. He has also vowed a responsible approach to deficit reduction, including preserving tax cuts for most Americans while letting the high-end Bush tax cuts expire. 

Such approaches would work, but time and again they have met with a stone wall from Republicans, who have been determined to keep the economy as weak as possible to hurt Mr. Obama’s campaign. The Republicans’ last-minute tactic has been a cynical one — to make it clear that they will continue obstructing Mr. Obama if he wins. That is a hollow argument for Mr. Romney. And it does not change the fact that Mr. Romney has no good ideas and Mr. Obama has plenty.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Israel: Obama is good for Israel


Obama is good for Israel

The outcome of the elections will be determined by the voters' decision as to which of the two candidates is good for America. But if any of them are vacillating in their vote over whether Obama has been a good president for Israel, the answer is yes.

| Nov.02, 2012 | 4:21 AM 
The outcome of the elections will be determined by the voters' decision as to which of the two candidates is good for America. But if any of them are vacillating in their vote over whether Obama has been a good president for Israel, the answer is yes.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

UK: Editorially conservative The Economist endorses Obama

The Economist

Our American endorsement

Which one?

America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill

As a result, this election offers American voters an unedifying choice. Many of The Economist’s readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive. And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.

Israel: Israel with Obama or Romney

Jerusalem Post

Romney or Obama, Israel will see steady US course

Most Israelis would be reassured if Mitt Romney won next week's US presidential election, feeling they had an unquestioning friend rather than a dispassionate critic in the White House.

But any change would probably be a question of style over substance, analysts say, with a Republican administration expected to follow the path already laid out by US President Barack Obama when it comes to Iran and the Palestinians.

The allies are too joined at the hip on fundamental challenges for the head to make that much difference.

Canada: If Romney labels China a currency manipulator

The Globe and Mail

How Romney’s tough stand on China could play out as president

Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney is promising to get tough on China to help American workers, but his plans could backfire.

Mr. Romney is pledging, on his first day in office, to designate China a currency manipulator, a step no administration has taken against any country for 18 years.

That could, eventually, lead to tariffs punishing China for policies that Americans believe unfairly keep Chinese products cheap, hurting U.S. manufacturers. Tariffs could trigger a trade war with a country that is the fastest-growing market for U.S. exports. Even if they don’t, the designation would instantly set back relations with Asia’s emerging superpower.

UK: Down to the wire

The Economist

The presidential race

Spinning towards the finish

If the Romney campaign has evinced desperation recently, it has come in response to Hurricane Sandy. Huge disasters allow an incumbent to look presidential (most of the time), while the challenger must decide whether to cancel or continue his campaign. The optics are not fair. But in an effort to have it both ways, the Romney campaign on Tuesday turned a planned rally into an ineffectively rebranded "storm-relief event". It involved $5,000 of hasty cosmetic purchases at Wal-Mart, a host of non-perishable goods that the Red Cross said it did not want (but eventually accepted), and a lot of cringeworthy stagecraft. Noam Scheiber writes that the event was unintentionally revealing, in that it showed the limits of what private charity can accomplish after a massive disaster such as Sandy. He has a point.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Canada: Chrysler chief rebuts Romney's claim

The Globe and Mail

Chrysler chief to Romney campaign: Jeep not moving to China

Mr. Marchionne, who led the acquisition of Chrysler by Fiat SpA during the early days of Mr. Obama’s presidency in 2009 – which at the time was the last hope for survival for the No. 3 Detroit auto maker – was dragged into the campaign Tuesday to respond to misleading advertisements and comments by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Germany: Obama and Sandy

Der Spiegel

Handling Hurricane Sandy Obama's Moment of Truth

By Sebastian Fischer

Even before the storm hit America's East Coast, President Barack Obama wanted to show that he's ready, that he can lead the country through this crisis. It was exactly eight days before the presidential election on Nov. 6.

"This is going to be a big and powerful storm," Obama said on Monday. He said he had spoken with the governors of all the affected states and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had been put on alert. Food and water provisions were at the ready, he assured, adding that in times of crisis, America sticks together. The country was ready to handle this storm, he said.

This is the president as crisis manager. Obama is doing what Americans expect from a president when a massive storm like Sandy comes along: He is demonstratively setting politics aside and acting as the top catastrophe prevention official. When a reporter then asked him, "What about the impact on the election, sir?", the president answered soberly, unselfishly and energetically. "The election will take care of itself next week," he said. "Right now, our number-one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives … ."

His handling of the storm could determine the outcome of the election. "The hurricane will pose a huge test for Obama in the next few days, one that will make the debate in Denver look like child's play," writes Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, for US broadcaster CNN. Obama lost to Republican candidate Mitt Romney in Denver, giving his rival an unexpected boost in the campaign.

Wow...just wow

What ever happened to the seperation of church and state?

UK: Praise for Obama

The Daily Telegraph

Romney ally Chris Christie praises Barack Obama on Sandy response

PRESIDENT Barack Obama won glowing praise for his "wonderful" handling of superstorm Sandy from a fierce foe who backs Mitt Romney, as political reverberations of the storm began to be felt. 
Mr Obama put campaigning on hold a week before his close election clash with Republican nominee Mr Romney to manage the federal government's response to Sandy, which swamped large areas of the US East Coast.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a blunt spoken critic of the president and a key Romney ally, produced a glowing character reference for Mr Obama, which is already shaping endgame election news coverage.
"The president's been great... I spoke to him three times yesterday, he called me for the last time at midnight last night, he asked me what I needed," Mr Christie told MSNBC.

UK: Join the debate at the Economist

The Economist

US economy

Would the US economic recovery be stronger under Romney or Obama?

Representing the sides

Douglas Holtz-Eakin
Defending the motion
Douglas Holtz-Eakin  
President, American Action Forum
The answer is yes, the American economic recovery would be much stronger under a Romney administration, and there are three reasons: a focus on growth, a better strategy for growth and a more disciplined federal government.
Jared Bernstein
Against the motion
Jared Bernstein  
Senior Fellow, Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities
The nascent recovery is finally gathering steam and the last thing we need is to waste trillions of dollars in trickle-down tax cuts that cannot be counted on to boost growth and jobs, but will raise both the deficit and after-tax income inequality.
Join the debate:

Even from a conservative publication....

PJ: If you read the update at the bottom of this article you'll see another shape-shifting position for Romney. How can Americans trust a person who changes his position on absolutely everything.  Romney has morphed from a 'severe conservative' to a moderate in months...sometimes his positions shift within days and sometimes it only takes hours for the morphing to happen. 
Forbes Magazine

Romney Wants To Disband FEMA- Do You Think N.J. Governor Chris Christie Agrees With The GOP Today?

While it’s swell that Governor Romney is concerned about the future of our kids, at this very moment —as the densely populated Northeastern section of the USA is experiencing a catastrophic disaster at a result of Hurricane Sandy—I can tell you that millions of people in the line of this extraordinary and unprecedented storm are also very much concerned for their  children. However, these folks do not have the luxury today of worrying about the future of their kids. The concern these people are experiencing is today..right now…immediate…and very, very real.

For these people, the need for FEMA is neither political nor abstract.

So, wouldn’t you imagine that the Governor might want to respond accordingly?
Not so much. When given the opportunity to back off the position earlier today, Gov. Romney remained resolute in his commitment to scrap FEMA.

UPDATE: Governor Romney has issued a statement where he now tries to have it both ways. What a surprise.  Check this out:

“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA,” he added.

Canada: And now the attack on the statistician

PJ:  Is the GOP trying to live us to its new image as the anti-science anti-education party?  They've argued with scientists about global warming, have invented bizaare factoids about how a woman's body can deal with rape by shutting down its ability to get pregnant, have claimed that all that stuff about evolution is straight from Hell and now they challenge mathmatics.  

I'm not claiming that math alone will decide who wins the presidential election.  The polls have been confusing and contradictory to say the least.  But perhaps the GOP would be better served to ignore the predictors if they do not believe the math instead of attacking the messanger who tells us what the statistics point toward.

For the party who claims that everyone against their beliefs are 'haters' they sure have been spewing a lot of hate against those who challenge them.
Globe and Mail

Romney supporters pick a new target: statistician Nate Silver 

By Simon Houpt 

When perception is reality, as it is in politics, campaigns try to blunt even the appearance of an opponent’s strength. In the past few days, a number of Mitt Romney’s supporters have taken to attacking the integrity of Nate Silver, a statistician who writes a blog for the New York Times that has been consistently predicting a win for Barack Obama. 


Monday, October 29, 2012

How Eisenhower is voting

Why I Am Endorsing President Barack Obama

October 29, 2012

In the last four years, President Obama has also had to contend with a rapidly changing international environment. He ended the war in Iraq, was the first Democratic president to ratify an arms control treaty with the Russian Federation, and rallied global leaders to put nuclear security at the top of the international agenda. The Obama Administration has also been responsible for decimating the top leadership of al-Qaeda and introducing biting sanctions on Iran. Today the president has significant experience in managing foreign relations, experience that GOP candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, do not have.

As a result of this campaign I am more confused than ever about what Mitt Romney stands for. I know little of his core beliefs, if he even has any. No one seems to agree on what they are, and that’s why I do not want to take a chance on finding out.

Given Romney’s shifting positions, he can only be judged by the people with whom he surrounds himself. Many of them espouse yesterday’s thinking on national defense and security, female/family reproductive rights, and the interplay of government and independent private enterprise. In this context, Barack Obama represents the future, not that past. His emphasis on education is an example of the importance he places on preparing rising generations to assume their places as innovators and entrepreneurs, workers and doers, and responsible citizens and leaders. He recognizes, as many of us do, that access to opportunities must be open to every American, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. This is not an entitlement, but a sound investment in the future.

Read it at Susan Eisenhower: