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.