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:

Middle East: Rascism alive in US

Al Jazeera

Poll finds fresh increase in US racism
Associated Press poll says anti-black sentiment has grown since Barack Obama's historic election victory in 2008. 
Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the US elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll has found.

Released on Saturday, the AP poll used a combination of explicit and implicit questions about race and found that prejudice has increased slightly since 2008.

The study, conducted online by GfK Custom Research under the supervision of AP’s polling unit, included interviews with 1,071 adults between August and September 2012. 
Read it at Al Jazeera:

UK: US elections as a spectator sport

The Independent

The weird maths that add up to the White House

Out of America: The result is too close to call, and could even be a tie that will make for edge-of-the-seat election viewing

You have to admit, first- past-the-post is more fun. Elections decided by direct popular vote and proportional representation may be "fairer" and more "democratic" – but what's an election night when a computer tells you who has won, or how many seats each party will have, within moments of the polls closing?
I have covered elections in France and Germany, Greece and Italy (as well as the Gorbachev-era Soviet Union). But for suspense and great viewing on election night, nothing beats a system when the outcome is determined by a host of separate, winner-take-all contests, as in Britain and the United States. And by any standards, 6 November here promises to be a thriller.

Read it at The Independent:

UK: Rombie apocalypse

The Guardian

Buffy creator 'switches allegiance' to Mitt Romney in spoof video

Joss Whedon says Republican presidential candidate will usher in a 'zombie apocalypse' and turn the US into a wasteland
"Mitt Romney is a very different kind of candidate. One with the vision and determination to cut through the business as usual politics and finally put this country back on the path to the zombie apocalypse," he says.

Read it at The Guardian:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

UK: Real history vs hollow rhetoric

The Economist

Barack Obama's economic agenda

A little history lesson

Oct 25th 2012, 16:54 by M.S.

NATIONAL REVIEW denounces the economic agenda booklet the Obama administration released yesterday. "He calls it the 'New Economic Patriotism,'" the editors write, "and if that name seems to you redolent of early-20th-century totalitarians, that may be because it is not the first N.E.P.: Lenin’s was the Novaya Ekonomicheskaya Politika."

Interesting reference! The Novaya Ekonomicheskaya Politika was a free-market economic reform package introduced by the Soviet government in 1921. It entailed a retreat from an all-state economic model in favour of institutionalised recognition of a legitimate private sector in industry and agriculture, as well as a dramatic tax cut.

Read it at The Economist:

International NYT: Endorsement

PJ: I included this editorial since it reflects the lion's share of the thinking around the world about the Presidential election.  
International Herald Tribune
Barack Obama for Re-Election
 The economy is slowly recovering from the 2008 meltdown, and the country could suffer another recession if the wrong policies take hold. The United States is embroiled in unstable regions that could easily explode into full-blown disaster. An ideological assault from the right has started to undermine the vital health reform law passed in 2010. Those forces are eroding women’s access to health care, and their right to control their lives. Nearly 50 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act, all Americans’ rights are cheapened by the right wing’s determination to deny marriage benefits to a selected group of us. Astonishingly, even the very right to vote is being challenged.

That is the context for the Nov. 6 election, and as stark as it is, the choice is just as clear. 

President Obama has shown a firm commitment to using government to help foster growth. He has formed sensible budget policies that are not dedicated to protecting the powerful, and has worked to save the social safety net to protect the powerless. Mr. Obama has impressive achievements despite the implacable wall of refusal erected by Congressional Republicans so intent on stopping him that they risked pushing the nation into depression, held its credit rating hostage, and hobbled economic recovery. 

Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, has gotten this far with a guile that allows him to say whatever he thinks an audience wants to hear. But he has tied himself to the ultraconservative forces that control the Republican Party and embraced their policies, including reckless budget cuts and 30-year-old, discredited trickle-down ideas. Voters may still be confused about Mr. Romney’s true identity, but they know the Republican Party, and a Romney administration would reflect its agenda. Mr. Romney’s choice of Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate says volumes about that.

Read it at the IHT

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

UK: A look at a poll guru

The Telegraph

Nate Silver, the geeky statistician who is singlehandedly dismantling the myth of Mitt-mentum


Nate Silver is Mitt Romney’s nemesis. Not intentionally; although he admits to being an Obama supporter, his whole career is predicated on getting his predictions right. Like he did in 2008, when "Poblano" accurately predicted the result of 49 of the 50 states, and all 35 senate races.

Read it at The Telegraph:

I think that the GOP has a rape problem

Daily Kos

UK: Discouraging voting is bad for democracy

PJ: Voter suppression is nothing new. It has been used throughout history around the world to either maintain the power of the few or to take away the power of many. In the US it was used to prevent the poor from voting, like most other countries men used it to prevent women from having a voice in government and whites used it to prevent people of color from participating in the government that would make the laws under which they must live.

More frighteningly, voter suppression has been used to persecute groups of people that might stand in the way of one political party taking more control over government. Examples in history abound but none more dramitic than the extreme treatment of Jewish citizens in Germany Pre-World War II. When Jews lost the vote and therefore a voice in government it was a huge step toward one group of people losing their rights and a huge jump toward the unravelly of democratic rule. (Which brings to mind the shocking realization that many Israelis now want to take away the vote of Israeli Arab citizens now:

Many in the Republican party are promoting voter suppression under the false premise that voter fraud, which is not a problem, has run rampant. Caught on tape, some in the GOP have voiced their delight that if they can suppress the vote then their candidate will win. It is sad that prominent voices in the Republican party, such as Mitt Romney, have not publically challenged their party's desires to this end. But with Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the other loud voices that conservatives follow propagandizing daily about their false claims of voter fraud, it is really no wonder that they don't.

The Economist

Access to the polls

Counting voters, counting votes

Discouraging citizens from voting is not good for democracy

Loose-lipped Republicans have done their side no favours. Mike Turzai, a Republican in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, boasted that his state’s voter-ID law “is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” A Republican official in Franklin County, Ohio, writing of his state’s decision to limit early-voting, said: “We shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban [ie, heavily black] voter-turnout machine.” The national elections co-ordinator of True the Vote, a group that trains poll workers and believes that “fraud and law-breaking has [sic] become all too common in our electoral system”, says he wants voters to feel “that they are driving and seeing the police following” them.

More candid Republicans might admit that these laws are all just part of the turnout game that both sides play. They help Republicans, just as generous absentee- and early-voting laws help Democrats. But a qualitative difference exists between laws that encourage citizens to take part in choosing their rulers and laws that discourage them from doing so.

Read it at The Economist:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The US recovery

The Washington Post

Fareed Zakaria
Fareed Zakaria
Opinion Writer

The U.S. economy is recovering well

The International Monetary Fund’s latest World Economic Outlook makes for gloomy reading. Growth projections have been revised downward almost everywhere, especially in Europe and the big emerging markets such as China. And yet, when looking out over the next four years — the next presidential term — the IMF projects that the United States will be the strongest of the world’s rich economies. U.S. growth is forecast to average 3 percent, much stronger than that of Germany or France (1.2 percent) or even Canada (2.3 percent). Increasingly, the evidence suggests that the United States has come out of the financial crisis of 2008 in better shape than its peers — because of the actions of its government.

Perhaps the most important cause of America’s relative health is the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke understood the depths of the problem early and responded energetically and creatively. The clearest vindication of his actions has been that the European Central Bank, after charting the opposite course for three years with disastrous results, has adopted policies similar to the Fed’s — and averted a potential Lehman-like collapse in Europe. (Mitt Romney’s two most prominent academic advisers, Glenn Hubbard and Gregory Mankiw, seem to recognize this, but Romney apparently doesn’t. As recently as August the Republican presidential nominee repeated his criticisms of the Fed and promised to replace Bernanke at its helm.)

Read it at The Washington Post:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

UK: Are Americans about to buy a 'pig in a poke'

PJ:  Buyer beware:  are you buying a (in his own words) 'severely conservative' Romney or a moderate centrist that he is now playing?  Will this man lead as a neoconservative saber rattler as he promised to do just months ago or will he seek peace and follow the successful policies of the Obama administration that he claimed to support during the last presidential debate?  He has proven to be a man of opposites who plays to whatever crowd he's trying to woo at the time.  Will that mean that while he is trying to sound moderate now, he will play to the tea party in Congress?  Will he  go to war with Iran because neoconservatives who control Congress and Netanyahu want him to do so...after all, he already said, "there should be no daylight between Israel and the US"?

The Economist

The foreign-policy debate

Neoconservatism goes underground 

Does this indicate that Mr Romney would, as president, be less confrontational abroad than he sounded in his campaign for the Republican nomination? If he continues to follow Bill Kristol's advice on foreign policy most of the time, I doubt it. We know what Mr Kristol's foreign policy looks like. On Iran: "It’s long since been time for the United States to speak to this regime in the language it understands—force." On Syria: "(T)he United States—working with European allies, Turkey, and other regional partners—should advance a new strategy that uses combined airpower to impose a safe zone in northern Syria." On Afghanistan: "(T)o say we're ending our war on schedule means we're not fighting our war to win." This is the neoconservative foreign-policy prescription. It hasn't changed just because they've recognised that their candidate needs to appear conciliatory and say the word "peace" a lot in order to get elected.

Read it at The Economist:

China: Obama flails Romney on inconsistencies


Obama flails Romney on foreign policy inconsistencies

In his face-to-face encounter with Romney, Obama focused his efforts on shedding light on his rival's inconsistencies on foreign policy issues.

Counterattacking Romney over his assault on his Middle East policies, which the former governor of Massachusetts said have resulted in terrorism and a rising tide of tumult and confusion, the president brought to the fore his adversary's confusing viewpoint on a number of foreign policy issues.

"Governor Romney, I'm glad that you recognize that al-Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what's the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not al-Qaida; you said Russia, in the 1980s, they're now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War's been over for 20 years," Obama told his foe.

The GOP nominee insisted that while describing Russia as a No. 1 geopolitical foe, he also called Iran "the greatest national security threat we face."

Read it at Xinhua:

China: Unfair bashing


Scapegoating China for U.S. domestic woes unwise

By Xinhua writer Wang Aihua

BEIJING, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- During the latest U.S. presidential election debate, both candidates have voiced willingness to collaborate with China but at the same time blamed the country for America's domestic woes.

The candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, should realize that simply blaming China will not do -- only by working on the origins of America's downward economic situation can they really solve domestic problems such as unemployment.

Two main accusations the U.S. presidential candidates, in particular Mitt Romney, have been filing against China is that the country has "stolen" American jobs by absorbing U.S. capital and that it has "manipulated" its currency, the yuan, to keep the exchange rate at a lower level and retain competitiveness in exports.

Read it at Xinhua:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Eisenhower thinks

Susan B. Eisenhower

Buyer Beware: Romney’s Tack to the Center

 Last night I almost felt sorry for presidential aspirant, Mitt Romney. You had the impression he was in the middle of an oral exam – rattling off population statistics and geographical facts as if to prove he’s got foreign policy down cold. At the same time, Romney was unable to differentiate his views from those that have been advanced by the president in the last four years, thus leaving his position diminished. “What you just heard Governor Romney say,” Obama observed, “is he doesn’t have different ideas, and that’s because we’re doing exactly what we should be doing to try to promote a moderate, Syrian leadership and a — an effective transition so that we get Assad out. That’s the kind of leadership we’ve shown. That’s the kind of leadership we’ll continue to show.”

Read it:

UK: Obama wins debate

The Economist

The foreign-policy debate

A win for Obama

To a remarkable degree, Mr Romney tacked to the moderate centre, seeking above all to distance himself from the record of George W. Bush and the sweeping ambitions of the neoconservative right. The Republican nominee stressed his desire for peace, played down the chances that America would launch fresh military campaigns on his watch and endorsed Mr Obama’s hopes for a negotiated end to such crises as the Iranian nuclear conundrum. Speaking of the threat from Islamic extremism, he agreed with the administration’s approach of targeted drone strikes, but added that America should not forget the tools of soft power. “We can’t kill our way out of this mess,” Mr Romney said.

In a big turnaround, Mr Romney abandoned his pledge to review Mr Obama’s plan to pull all American combat troops out of Afghanistan in 2014. The candidate also unceremoniously dropped any suggestion that the administration covered up the role of al-Qaeda-linked militants in the killing of America’s ambassador to Libya, or contributed to the envoy’s death by stinting on diplomatic security. He only offered fleeting references to the tragedy, as he repeatedly suggested that the world was in a state of “tumult”, showing that Mr Obama’s foreign policy was unravelling. It took him fully 45 minutes to revisit a favourite charge from the campaign trail, that Mr Obama had emboldened America’s enemies, such as Iran, by projecting an image of an apologetic, weak America abroad.

Read it at The Economist:

Frightening right wing media in the US

Brought to you by Jon Stewart who cuts through BS Mountain:

Monday, October 22, 2012


PJ:  As the Salt Lake City Tribune wrote:  "Too Many Mitts"

UK: The US and the Arab world

The Guardian

Barack Obama, the Arab spring and a series of unforeseen events

After promising Muslims a new beginning in his Cairo speech, the president put the US squarely on the side of the Arab street
Now, as the end of his term nears, the answer is clear: Obama was different from his predecessor. Yet his record is as varied as the responses to the Cairo address. An extraordinary chain of unforeseen events – a hazard for any leader – has created new circumstances and new dilemmas.

On Palestine, always a touchstone for Arabs and Muslims, Obama has been a grave disappointment. Having strikingly called the situation of the Palestinians "intolerable", he blinked first in the confrontation with Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, over whether settlements in the occupied territories would have to stop before peace talks could resume. US domestic politics interceded. Hopes of a two-state solution to the world's most intractable conflict are now fading fast.

From the start, Obama reached out to Iran with a friendly message to its people and hints at flexibility in negotiations with its government. But his efforts to engage have failed, leading only to tougher sanctions and a covert war. Unless long-running diplomacy starts to work, a potentially catastrophic confrontation over its nuclear programme still looms.

Read it at The Guardian:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The US economy is improving--who will get (take) the credit?

In Newsweek Magazine

It's (Almost) Morning in America

A surging economy is great news. Especially for the next president.

Read it at The Daily Beast:

Saturday, October 20, 2012

UK: As the US economy slowly improves....

The Economist

The economy

A silver lining, not a sunrise

Why isn’t Obama doing better? Why isn’t Romney? The answer is jobs

Voters may not hold grudges on November 6th. Political scientists reckon that economic fundamentals strongly influence the performance of the incumbent party in big elections, and that voters place the biggest emphasis on the most recent trends in such things as income and employment. The perception that hard times were retreating carried both Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan to re-election, in 1936 and 1984, despite economic struggles earlier in their terms. It is discomfort with recent performance that leaves Mr Obama facing such a tight race. Economic models predict a virtual dead heat.

One last month’s worth of jobs data— October’s—will be released before the election. Whatever the numbers, Mr Obama will be unable to make a Reagan-like claim that morning has returned to America. If Mr Romney is unable to capitalise on this, that may be because of his failure, matched by his opponent’s, to offer the country a convincing explanation for its long-run labour-market troubles.

Read it at The Economist:

UK: Is it down to the women's vote?

The Guardian

Mitt Romney still struggling to convince Pennsylvania's female voters

Obama's lead has grown smaller in the Democratic-leaning state but women say they are unimpressed by Romney at debates

By Karen McVeigh

Mihok, who did not watch Tuesday's debate but discussed it with friends and read about it afterwards, said Obama put forward a better case for women. "President Obama, with his background and his upbringing, has the opportunity to see first hand what is important to women and their families. Look at the statement about his grandmother training men for positions for which men got higher pay and better promoted, yet she never had that opportunity. That legacy is still around, and it's important to recognise that."

But while that's good news for Obama, Mihok said women's issues would not be at the front of her mind when she came to cast her ballot on 6 November.

She is not alone. Mihok is one of a number of undecided female voters from Pennsylvania whom the Guardian is talking to over the course of the election to find out what is important to them. None of them cited equal pay or social issues as top of the list of things important to their vote, although three out of five cited affordable healthcare as ranking top alongside the economy.

Read it at The Guardian:

Getting the story straight

The Washington Post

David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Opinion Writer

CIA documents supported Susan Rice’s description of Benghazi attacks

The Romney campaign may have misfired with its suggestion that statements by President Obama and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the Benghazi attack last month weren’t supported by intelligence, according to documents provided by a senior U.S. intelligence official.

“Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States. According to the CIA account, “The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate and subsequently its annex. There are indications that extremists participated in the violent demonstrations.”

Read it at The Washington Post:

Friday, October 19, 2012

International NYT: Obama 'jobs' vs Romney 'jobs'

International Herald Tribune

Snow Job on Jobs

You can defend President Obama’s jobs record — recovery from a severe financial crisis is always difficult, and especially so when the opposition party does its best to block every policy initiative you propose. And things have definitely improved over the past year. Still, unemployment remains high after all these years, and a candidate with a real plan to make things better could make a strong case for his election. 

But Mr. Romney, it turns out, doesn’t have a plan; he’s just faking it. In saying that, I don’t mean that I disagree with his economic philosophy; I do, but that’s a separate point. I mean, instead, that Mr. Romney’s campaign is telling lies: claiming that its numbers add up when they don’t, claiming that independent studies support its position when those studies do no such thing. 


In Tuesday’s debate, he (Romney) declared, “I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business.” In his speech at the Republican convention, he declared, “When I was 37, I helped start a small company.” 

Ahem. It’s true that when Bain Capital started, it had only a handful of employees. But it had $37 million in funds, raised from sources that included wealthy Europeans investing through Panamanian shell companies and Central American oligarchs living in Miami while death squads associated with their families ravaged their home nations. 

Read it at the IHT:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Romney runs to the middle

The Washington Post 

On women, taxes, Hispanics, Romney primary message shifts as Election Day nears

On immigration, taxes and women’s issues, Mitt Romney is abandoning his “severely conservative” talk of the Republican primary season and moving sharply to the political center as he looks to sway on-the-fence voters in the campaign’s final three weeks.

Read it at The Washington Post:

Romney's jobs, jobs and more jobs--taking credit for Obama's recovery

 Washington Post

Romney’s facts are curious things

By Dana Milbank

Top Romney economist Glenn Hubbard acknowledged to Kessler that the three studies did “not make up the 12 million jobs in the first four years,” and the Romney campaign issued a statement minutes before the debate that expanded the jobs time frame to “the next four years and beyond.”

But the claim, though discredited, had become a key part of Romney’s message — and he went right ahead and repeated the falsehood during the debate.

Much of the burgeoning fact-check function in the news media is subjective; Romney’s tax cut claims, for example, are impossible to assess with certainty because he doesn’t say what deductions he would disallow and what other assumptions he makes. But the jobs claim is black and white: The evidence the Romney campaign furnished to support the claim did not do so.

Romney’s economists do think the economy would add 12 million jobs under his policies over the next four years, and they issued a white paper in August claiming that. But this paper is not based on Romney’s five-point plan, and elements of that plan, such as cracking down on China and consolidating job training, aren’t even mentioned in the paper. Rather, the 12 million figure is based on the economists’ assumptions that Romney’s policies would mean that “the current recovery will align with the average gains of similar past recoveries.”

Read it at the Washington Post:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Canada: Obama's edge in debate

The National Post

Romney’s Libya stumble gives spirited Obama the edge in round two 

President Barack Obama went on the attack against Republican challenger Mitt Romney in a critical debate Tuesday, looking to rebound from an earlier matchup when he was seen as listless and distracted.

The stakes of the town hall-style debate could not have been higher. With just three weeks to go before Election Day, the race is locked in a dead heat and many Americans are already casting ballots in states with early voting.

UK: Obama the clear winner in debate

PJ:  And now the view from the conservative Telegraph:

The Telegraph

US presidential debate: Barack Obama fights back against Mitt Romney

Barack Obama struck back with a clear victory over Mitt Romney in the second presidential debate, aggressively confronting his Republican challenger during a bad-tempered showdown in New York.

Read it at The Telegraph:

UK: Obama regains in debate

The Guardian

Obama regains the initiative to win second presidential debate

President more confident and combative, with Mitt Romney committing a series of gaffes over Benghazi attack and women

Barack Obama secured the comeback he desperately needed in the second presidential debate against Mitt Romney, finishing the night on top after a series of fierce clashes in which the two made no attempt to hide the extent of their personal hostility.

At one point in the 90-minute debate, watched by tens of millions of Americans, the two squared off, only a few feet apart, talking over one another, jabbing fingers at one another and accusing each other of lying.

Deriding Romney for what the Obama campaign sees as a belated shift to the centre, Obama portrayed him as more extreme than George W Bush on social issues, particularly women's rights.

Read it at The Guardian:

Monday, October 15, 2012 this what Americans want?

"His solution is to sign on to the fanatical policies of the extreme right, and then duck and cover to confuse independents about where he really stands."

"This isn’t just bad for the nation — it’s insulting."

The Washington Post

Katrina vanden Heuvel
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Opinion Writer

How Romney’s extreme policies insult us all

At first glance, it might seem as if Mitt Romney’s path — from voting in the 1992 Democratic presidential primary to being the 2012 Republican presidential nominee — was linear. But over the past, winding, 20 years, Romney has held every possible view on every possible issue — often at the same time. When it comes to policy, he’s been downright promiscuous.

He was for a woman’s right to choose before he was against it. He was for tax cuts for the rich before he was against them. He was for – no, he wrote – health reform before he was against it … before he was for the parts that everybody liked.

Read it at The Washington Post:

International NYT: GOP: WH should provide money for security that GOP cut...say what?


No Shame

It doesn’t take a partisan to draw that conclusion. The ugly truth is that the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. The most self-righteous critics don’t seem to get the hypocrisy, or maybe they do and figure that if they hurl enough doubts and complaints at the administration, they will deflect attention from their own poor judgments on the State Department’s needs.

Read it at The International Herald Tribune:

UK: Critic of Obama pledges to vote for the President

The Guardian

Obamacare gets my vote: Romney and Ryan's alternative nearly killed me

I'm critical of Obama's presidency, but my medical emergency convinced me that for Obamacare alone we must re-elect him
Under the influence of the painkiller Dilaudid, and dog-tired after another day of fighting for my life with my private health insurance company, I glimpsed Mitt Romney and his running-mate, Paul Ryan, entering my Los Angeles hospital room dressed in surgical gowns with scalpels in their hands ready to fatally operate on me.
It was a drug-induced hallucination, of course. But the mirage made me sit bolt upright in bed and, fully awake, start to rethink my previous, bitterly dissenting view of Barack Obama.

For the past year, I've been in a death spiral without knowing it. The occasional fainting spell, sprawls on the street and a dramatic weight loss were shrugged off as merely a cost of doing a writer's business. Denial is a most powerful analgesic. Even when paramedics first rushed me to the hospital, I angrily argued with the doctors.

But when a lightning-bolt sciatica pain, triggered by a car accident, brought me down like a bull under the matador's sword, more or less paralyzing the left side of my body, the health gods decided it was time to shut down my hubris. Like something out of the TV's "House" or "General Hospital", suddenly there were midnight ambulances, emergency room traumas, drip feeds, oxygen tubes up my nose, renal failure, suspected meningitis, pneumonia and a minor heart attack.

Thankfully, working as a team at my local Cedars-Sinai hospital, whole platoons of neurosurgeons, cardiologists, nurses, infectious disease experts, radiologists, physical therapists, pulmonologists and hospitalists (whatever they are) dragged me back from the edge. Emergency surgery in a special spinal unit was successful, and today I'm back on my feet – I'm a product of American medicine at its best.
Ah, if only the doctors were free to do their jobs!

My private insurance company, a subsidiary of Wellpoint Inc – America's largest "managed healthcare", for-profit company – interfered at almost every stage of my treatment. They were aggressive and shameless. At my most vulnerable, with tubes sticking out of me, they phoned my hospital room – kicking my anxiety level sky-high – to let me know that Wellpoint's profit-seeking radar had targeted me. The anonymous voice warned, with a kind of smiling threat, that they were on my case: meaning, some bureaucrat – was he or she even medically competent, or just an IT geek – in a far-off, distant corporate office believed that my treatment was violating a mysterious insurance algorithm.

Read it at The Guardian:

UK: Trusting which Romney?

The Guardian

Why Mitt Romney is the wrong choice on abortion rights

It's hard to tell what Romney really thinks on abortion. But he'll certainly do what an ever more rightwing GOP tells him to
There are a lot of things to admire about Mitt Romney. His extraordinary number of both homes and khaki-clad offspring (and offspring's offspring). His impressive attempts to emulate the emotions of real human beings. And his campaign's increasingly creative relationship with the truth.
The latest example of Romney's kinda-but-not-really truthiness? His claim that abortion legislation isn't part of his agenda. Romney actually said,
"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."
Which, as William Saletan at Slate points out, is a statement with holes big enough to drive a team of dancing horses through. It's also kinda-sorta probably true, in its way. Is "pass legislation about abortion" at the top of Romney's personal to-do list? No, probably not. After all, abortion is lady-stuff, and Romney has been clear enough that he doesn't much care for all of that. But in office, will he nonetheless undoubtedly end up dealing with abortion-related legislation? Absolutely. Will he also be in a unique position to change the course of abortion-related law in the United States? Yes.

Read it at The Guardian

Ronald Reagan's budget director talks about Romney's success

In Newsweek Magazine

The Daily Beast

Mitt Romney: The Great Deformer

Is Romney really a job creator? Ronald Reagan’s budget director, David Stockman, takes a scalpel to the claims. 

Except Mitt Romney was not a businessman; he was a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped, and stripped businesses. He did not build enterprises the old-fashioned way—out of inspiration, perspiration, and a long slog in the free market fostering a new product, service, or process of production. Instead, he spent his 15 years raising debt in prodigious amounts on Wall Street so that Bain could purchase the pots and pans and castoffs of corporate America, leverage them to the hilt, gussy them up as reborn “roll-ups,” and then deliver them back to Wall Street for resale—the faster the better.
That is the modus operandi of the leveraged-buyout business, and in an honest free-market economy, there wouldn’t be much scope for it because it creates little of economic value. But we have a rigged system—a regime of crony capitalism—where the tax code heavily favors debt and capital gains, and the central bank purposefully enables rampant speculation by propping up the price of financial assets and battering down the cost of leveraged finance.

Read it at The Daily Beast:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

UK: How textbooks shape a culture

The Economist

It ain’t necessarily so

The textbooks children learn from in school reveal and shape national attitudes—and should provoke debate

Oct 13th 2012 | BRAUNSCHWEIG
Sex seems a particularly American difficulty. In September the New York Civil Liberties Union published a study on sex education in schools in conservative upstate New York. The research showed that all the most commonly used health textbooks are stubbornly silent on the subject of condoms or other contraceptives as methods of preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Teachers are allowed to add their own materials and say what they want in class; but they must still teach from textbooks that warn pupils that being sexually active “interferes with your values and family guidelines” and counsel them that abstinence is a sign of good character.
In America creationists—mostly of the Christian variety—have long campaigned for textbooks to include alternatives to evolution by natural selection as an account of the natural world and human origins. They are not the only ones. In June a campaign led by the Society for Textbook Revise (STR) appeared to have succeeded in persuading South Korea’s textbook publishers to remove certain references to evolution. The umbrella group responsible for the STR includes the Somang Church, one of a number of evangelical churches and megachurches that are increasingly active in Korean politics.
The STR’s shenanigans led to uproar (although Christianity is growing in South Korea, a sizeable number of people declare no religious affiliation at all). The government has now set up a panel, led by the Korean Academy of Science and Technology and including biologists and palaeontologists, to oversee any changes to science books. The committee stressed that evolution was a part of modern science that all children must study. The STR, which sees its exclusion from the committee as a sign of bias, says it will fight on.

Read it at The Economist:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Republicans who are (now) for Mitt Romney

Some of these people made these statements more than four years ago and some of these interviews were from just a few months ago.  Now most of these same people are praising the candidate that they had pegged as a liar.!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Israel: Biden plays rough in debate


Biden plays rough, Israeli style, with a lingering Cheshire Cat smile

Republican Paul Ryan held his own in the U.S. Vice Presidential debate, but Biden’ s fighting spirit probably lifted morale and rallied the ranks of despondent Democrats.

By Chemi Shalev

To an Israeli viewer, the Vice Presidential debate on Thursday night appeared at times to be following in the footsteps of “Homeland” and “In Treatment” and other successful imports of Israeli television formats to prime time American TV. Joe Biden’s rough, tough and often gruff showdown with Paul Ryan had all the markings of the kind of no-holds-barred political debate that was once the hallmark of Israeli talk shows and has since become standard fare in parliamentary discussions in the Knesset. 

Read it at Haaretz:

UK: Biden's aggressive debate


Vice-presidential debate: Joe Biden attacks Paul Ryan as enemy of the middle class

Joe Biden attacked Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan as enemies of the middle class in Thursday night's vice-presidential debate, moving aggressively to stem the bleeding from Barack Obama's campaign for re-election. 

Mr Biden sharply challenged the Republican economic plan where Mr Obama had pulled his punches, claiming that their reform of Medicare, the health scheme for the elderly, would cost each pensioner an extra $6,400 a year and that middle-class voters would fund a tax cut for top-earners.
He generally overpowered Mr Ryan's attempts to plea that ordinary families would not suffer under their tax reforms and that no such Medicare cost hike would take place. “This is what politicians do when they don't have a record to run on,” said Mr Ryan. “Try to scare people into voting for them”.
Asked how their characters meant they offered something unique to American voters, Mr Ryan unsteadily suggested that “there are plenty of fine people who could lead this country”. Summing up his evening's message more decisively, Mr Biden said: “Look at my record - it's been all about the middle class”.

Read it at the Telegraph:


UK: VP debate: How did they do?

The Guardian

Biden lifts Democrat hopes with forceful VP debate performance

Biden gives strong performance against Paul Ryan, repairing some of the uncertainty after Obama's poor showing last week

Joe Biden dominated the vice-presidential debate against opponent Paul Ryan on Thursday night with an aggressive and confident performance that gave heart to the Democratic base but risked alienating undecided voters.
Biden's combative approach in Danville, Kentucky, went some way towards undoing the damage done by Barack Obama's listless performance last week, scoring point after point against Ryan in a 90-minute debate dominated by foreign issues such as Iran, Afghanistan and Syria and domestic issues including tax and the deficit.
But his demeanour may have proved divisive as he repeatedly dismissed Ryan, talked over him, interrupted, laughed and at one point sighed, "Oh God".
Although the night on balance belonged to Biden, the disparity between him and Ryan was not as pronounced as that last week between an aggressive Romney and a passive Obama.

Read it at The Guardian:

UK: Live Blog of VP debate

The Economist

Live-blogging the vice-presidential debate

Oct 12th 2012, 0:51 by The Economist online

Joe Biden was easily the more memorable debater in every way; he was louder, more emotional, lucid, detailed, garrulous, grinning, teary-eyed and just Joe Biden. He sank some real barbs into Romney-Ryan. The Biden that Mr Obama hired in 2008 to excite lower-middle-class types from Scranton showed up and did his job.
Ryan was cool, impressively calm given is unpredictable opponent, and detailed, but seemed reactive much of the night. He could have put Obama-Biden on the spot for their deficit failures more effectively; as it was, more time was spent on how Mr Romney's numbers don't add up (a potential future deficit) than the actual deficit itself. Democrats can walk away with a spring in their step again, confident that the story line is no longer all about Mr Obama's awful showing last week. A modest net positive for the Democrats.

Read it at The Economist

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Canada: Something to celebrate? So why haven't I read this in US papers?

Globe and Mail

At noon: Stocks up after jobless claims drop Add to ...

Read it at the Globe and Mail

Israel: Mitt and Bibi share a message for moderate and liberal voters: Stay home


Mitt and Bibi want you to stay home

If just a fraction of past left and center-left abstainees show up at the polls, Netanyahu's lead could be upended.

By Bradley Burston

The math is simple. If the left stays home on election day, Mitt and Bibi will both win.
If you place yourself anywhere from the center-left to the hard-left on the political spectrum, Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu are counting on you. They need you to sit out election day. Do what you like, goes the thinking, but stay away from the ballot box.
The math is simple. If you don't vote, they win. 

Read it at Haaretz:

UK: Pandering to the right...pandering to the middle...pandering to the right again....

The Guardian

Romney's abortion comments leave campaign scrambling to unify ticket

Remarks made by candidate that appear to soften stance on abortion highlight discrepancy with running mate's position

In the wake of a Romney interview with the Des Moines Register newspaper in which he said his agenda included no legislation to restrict abortion, his campaign team launched a damage limitation exercise to assure conservative voters that he remained staunchly pro-life.
Within hours of the comments being published on Tuesday, Romney's campaign insisted that he was against abortion, telling the conservative National Review Online that Romney "would, of course, support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life.

Read it at The Guardian:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

UK: Does Mitt Romney really have positions? Kind of makes your head spin....

The Telegraph

US election 2012: Mitt Romney's stance on abortion changes - then changes again

Mitt Romney appeared to make another abrupt shift to the political centre-ground on Wednesday, saying that he did not plan to enact laws that would prevent American women from being able to have abortions. 

During an interview in Iowa, a key swing state, the Republican presidential challenger reversed the tough anti-abortion rhetoric he used while campaigning for his party's candidacy earlier this year.
"There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda," Mr Romney told the editors of The Des Moines Register, whose endorsement he is seeking.
His remarks appeared to be the latest in a series of retreats from the Right – on issues such as taxation and entitlements – that have wrong-footed President Barack Obama and his re-election campaign.
Yet Mr Romney's position seemed to change again within hours. Andrea Saul, his spokesman, told a magazine he "would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life". Later still, she would say only that "Mitt Romney is proudly pro-life, and he will be a pro-life president".

Read it at The Telegraph: