Voices from Russia

Saturday, 28 September 2013

28 September 2013. Good or Evil? Will the Real Barack Obama Please Stand Up?

00 Barack Obama. He's not an angel. 28.09

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Editor’s Foreword:

There’s much mud in the air at present about President Obama. I present a British article below, plus some Cabinet commentary afterwards. I’ll give my take on him then.

BMD

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What Has the President Ever Done for Us? Plenty!

In recent weeks, it’s become prevailing orthodoxy on both sides of the Atlantic to call Barack Obama a spent force. The argument goes like this… in screwing up over Syria, a President who was always weak and ineffective, who foolishly inflated expectations ahead of his first term, accelerated America’s decline and exhausted his own authority. Thereby, history will judge him a failure. It’s White House Down. Like most prevailing orthodoxy, it’s bunkum. We’ll come on to the Syrian mess in a moment. First, a brief review of the wider critique.

I guess it’s true that Obama did nothing very useful; except achieving, in public healthcare, something that presidents going back a century or more have wanted, but failed to get. Then, there are such small matters as substantial Wall Street reform, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act… that did much to reduce the pay gap between men and women… repeal of the vile “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” rule for gays in the military, and the exceptionally competent response to Hurricane Sandy. Then, there are his radical moves towards energy independence through investment in shale, and his personal supervision of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and the scheduled withdrawals from Iraq and from Afghanistan. Finally, when he took over as President, the world was on the brink of depression and America was losing 700,000 jobs per month… but since 2010, it’s grown an average of 2.3 percent per quarter.

So, apart from healthcare, Wall Street and social reforms, getting Bin Laden, green investment, and smart stewardship of the world’s biggest economy, what the hell did Obama do for the USA? Not much, I guess; though note that his detractors think that we sorely miss his predecessor. They often champion Britain’s economic recovery, where quarterly growth since 2010 averaged 0.28 percent, fuelled by a disgraceful housing bubble. It’s true that Obama screwed up over Syria. His error wasn’t breaking the pledge about crossing a red line, but making it in the first place… something that he did on his diplomats’ advice. The hesitancy that he and Secretary of State John Kerry showed energised his critics, who see international affairs as a contest over who can put the biggest willy onto the negotiating table.

That’s not how it works. Diplomacy is a combination of patience, strategy, and luck. Obama has all three. On Syria, the Russians, of all people, gave him an exit strategy. Tomorrow, at the UN in New York, almost unthinkably, Iran’s new leader will shake Obama’s hand. Although the Israelis are… justifiably… sceptical, there’s been an astonishing thawing of relations between Iran and America of late. Iran’s leaders released political prisoners, sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jews via Twitter, and exchanged letters with the White House via the Swiss. The Americans reciprocated. If you chastise Obama over his handling of Syria, so, you should applaud him over his handling of Iran. It’s far too early to tell, of course; but he could yet convert the latter from pariah to partner. That won’t convince his silly critics, but it might shut them up for a bit.

23 September 2013

Amol Rajan

London Evening Standard

http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/amol-rajan-what-has-the-president-ever-done-for-us-plenty-8834751.html

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One of the Cabinet wrote:

The phrase “Lesser of Two Evils” isn’t just a phrase. It’s an apt description of this present occupant of the Oval Office. I despise those who’d malign his race. I also despise his capitalist policies encouraging war, aggression, oppression, and slavish obeisance to Transnational Capital. I agree that we need a REAL Left Party here. However, the moneyed classes always destroyed such movements in utero here.

Another Cabineteer piped up:

The Left hailed Obama when he won the election, and some buffoons in California actually started waving the Hammer & Sickle. The Right fumed and ranted against “communist” Obama. Both were wrong… he’s just a typical president, that is, a tool of the rich who own and control the corporate structure and Wall Street.

My take? It’s simple… the choice was between Barack Obama and Willard Romney… not between Barack Obama and some perfect leftist. That’s what was on offer… that’s all that was on offer, and one had to choose one or the other. True, you could sit out the election, and some leftists argued that allowing the righties to triumph would advance the date of a putative revolution. As for me, I didn’t want to take chances with my immediate future. Ryan made it clear that the Republicans would gut Social Security and Medicare to benefit their oligarch paymasters. Besides, any decent person has an obligation to oppose the racism of the Republican Party (any party that embraced Strom Thurmond is no friend of equality).

In other words, Barack Obama’s no prize package. However, he’s far above the only real alternative out there. Willard Romney wanted to spread Neoliberal Anarchy (AKA Neoconservatism) as far as he could, meaning an imposition of laissez-faire economics, an embracing of warmongering (far worse than anything bruited by Obama), and social anarchy typified by “Stand-Your-Ground” laws. The choice wasn’t great… but we did have it, and we had the obligation to pick the lesser of two evils. I did so, and have no regrets.

Did you want eight more years of misrule by another Republican junta? Well, Barack Obama was the only alternative. As for me, he didn’t do badly… after all, the Republicans have done their best in Congress to neuter him. He’s still standing… thank God…

BMD

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Hopes for the New Pope

00 Pope Francisco Bergoglio. T-shirt. 23.03.13

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As I stood on St Peter’s Square awaiting the famous smoke from the Sistine Chapel chimney, I felt an immense sense of satisfaction. Daily, journalists, political analysts, and the public bemoan a lack of leadership in the world. On the other hand, here, here was a definitive opportunity to see a new leader in the making. After all, irrespective of who occupies the Holy See, the papacy has a potential for leadership that’s probably only rivalled by the potential of the office of the US President.

Already, Pope Francisco shows that he’s keen to give the Catholic Church a new sense of itself. His gestures (like shunning an armoured limousine with a bodyguard and going to pray at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore on short notice) demonstrate that “leading by example” isn’t just an empty concept for the new pontiff. I have a feeling that he’ll be a respected global figure, both as a spiritual leader and statesman. Actually, if one looks around the world, there are plenty of leaders. Although I didn’t approve of his policies, the late Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was one. Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma is yet another example of charisma, ideas, and perseverance fusing to create a real leader. Vladimir Putin and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, despite their bitter hatred of each other and no matter what one thinks of their policies, have already left their mark on history.

Curiously enough, the emergence of major political personalities in the EU is an increasingly-rare occasion. European leaders aren’t almost universally dull and uncharismatic, but they’re also mostly mediocre intellectually. A few bright exceptions, like the clever and ironic Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the President of Estonia, Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radosław Tomasz Sikorski, and Sweden’s long-serving Minister of Foreign Affairs (and former Premier) Nils Daniel Carl Bildt are the only exceptions I could find. They combine sharp intellect, willingness to challenge dated truisms, and a public presence. The EU is the only area of the world where these characteristics frequently disqualify a person from achieving major public office. What started as a European post-war yearning to avoid future conflict morphed into complacency and a fear of healthy debate. Don’t mention religion (except if it’s the infamous “religion of peace” of 9/11 fame), don’t mention national history, don’t mention values… unless it’s the prescribed medley of secularist dogmas on permanent offer from Brussels… and you can count on great advancement as a political leader in the EU’s councils of the holy … er, sorry, just councils.

Hence, the result… if you’re looking for fresh thinking in Europe, you’re left with either the Front National and its imitators, the “New Left”, or clowns like Beppe Grillo (but then, who said they’re actually thinking anything?) Actually, Grillo’s astonishingly-high standing is sharp and dark testimony to European disillusionment with traditional politics and their inability to cope with it. It’s no wonder the EU can’t find its way out of the current crisis… the politics of consensus evolved into a politics of paralysis. I don’t think highly of Barack Obama’s policies and I don’t find him a very effective leader, but those European politicians who pledge their love to him look small compared to the US President. In contrast, here comes Pope Francisco, who may well try to shake up Europe’s lethargic Catholics into remembering that they are Christians… and Catholics… after all. I wish him success, but I’m not very certain that he’ll succeed in the Old World. For leadership and vision these days, it’s more logical to look to Brazil, rather than to Brussels.

18 March 2013

Konstantin von Eggert

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/columnists/20130318/180088088/Due-West-Hopes-for-the-New-Pope.html

Monday, 4 March 2013

A Reflective Romney Emerges from Seclusion, Rips Obama

00 Romney Racist T-shirt

This is why Wet Willy lost… any questions? He refused to condemn the racism in the Republican Party (especially amongst white Southerners)… he paid the price. God sees and judges, doesn’t He?

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Four months after his bitter election defeat, a reflective Mitt Romney said it “kills” him not to be president and admitted that he made mistakes in his losing White House campaign… particularly, his failure to win over minority voters. In his first television interview since November’s loss to US President Barack Obama, Romney levelled a fresh blast of criticism at Obama for failing to lead and putting politics ahead of results in the confrontation with congressional Republicans over the budget and spending cuts. Romney said in an interview on Fox News Sunday, “It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done. Obama’s still campaigning rather than bringing people together to craft a deal. I don’t see that kind of leadership happening right now. The hardest thing about losing is watching this critical moment, this golden moment slip away with politics”.

Romney’s interview was the first step in a slow public re-entry for the former Massachusetts governor, who’s been largely secluded at his southern California home with his wife Ann since the November loss. In two weeks, Romney will make his first public speech since the election, to a conference of conservative activists in Washington DC (shall JP and Potapov and their drooling konvertsy pals going to be there? Perspirin’ minds wanna know: editor). In the Fox interview, taped last week and aired on Sunday, Romney mostly avoided questions about the heavy criticism he has received from his fellow Republicans for running a lacklustre and gaffe-prone campaign. He said, “I don’t spend my life looking back”, adding he wouldn’t run again, but he’d still be active in public life. He said that he should’ve done a better job in appealing to minority voters including blacks and Hispanics, calling his failure “a real mistake”. Romney, who called for “self-deportation” of illegal immigrants during the Republican primaries, lost the vote of more than 70 percent of Hispanics to Obama. Most of the illegal immigrants in the USA are Hispanics.

4 March 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_04/A-reflective-Romney-emerges-from-seclusion-rips-Obama/

Editor’s Note:

Note well that Willy doesn’t mention his cowardice in the Vietnam War… how he got his gazillionaire daddy to buy him a phony clergy deferment so that he wouldn’t have to serve in the forces. All of the Republipukes holler about their patriotism. If that’s so, I’d ask them, “Why did you vote for a shameless draft-dodger (Romney) and why do you take credence in two others (Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly)?” Yes… why do they lionise unpatriotic greedy SOBs who’ve done nothing but rip off this country? That’s what this perspirin’ patriotic leftist wants to know… and I’m NOT alone in wanting that. Russia put Khodorkovsky in jail for attempting to sneak money abroad to avoid taxation… bully for VVP! That’s what we need to do with Romney… he boasted about his millions in “tax haven” money, didn’t he? Tells you volumes about the Republiphonies and their duped supporters, doesn’t it? They LOVE a man who boasts of illegality… fancy that. I think that I’m going to hurl to clear my system of rot…

BMD

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

25 December 2012. You Can’t Make Shit Like This Up… Mitt Romney’s Son Says He Never Actually Wanted to Be President

00 Romney Racist T-shirt

Romney never criticised the racism in the GOP… any questions?

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Editor’s Foreword:

Read the following. It’s mind-blowing in its self-centred pity and angst…

BMD

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Mitt Romney‘s palpable discomfort during the 2012 election season has mostly been attributed to the fact that he’s (very likely) a robot. However, in a lengthy Boston Globe piece about what went wrong with the campaign, Romney’s eldest son Tagg offers a different explanation for his father’s poor performance… “He wanted to be president less than anyone I’ve met in my life. He had no desire to … run. If he could’ve found someone else to take his place… he would’ve been ecstatic to step aside”. The statement certainly seems to serve as a great “I told you so” moment for all those Republicans who endorsed genuinely fired-up people like Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum during the primaries, though the story also suggests the Romney campaign‘s issues extended well beyond his supposed lack of enthusiasm for the task.

The GlobeMichael Kranish (co-author of The Real Romney) confirms that those closest to Romney, such as Tagg and wife Ann, clashed with his staff over strategy, especially when it came to humanising the candidate. The story blames campaign manager Stuart Stevens for the unremitting focus on the dreary economy and the reluctance to share some of the more appealing elements of Romney’s biography with the public. When Tagg finally convinced RNC organisers to feature the grateful parents of a terminally-ill 14-year-old Mormon boy Romney once comforted, they were put onstage before any of the big networks even tuned in {Big deal. If the kid wasn’t a Mormon, that’d be news. It just proves that many Mormons are good to their own, but view us “Gentiles” as two-legged cockroaches: editor}.

There are also criticisms of the campaign’s infrastructure… the organisation employed a mere 500 paid workers nationwide (less than the Obama team dedicated to Florida alone) and failed to make good use of social media and other technology. As Romney’s digital director Zac Moffatt explained, they simply didn’t have as much time as Obama did to prepare. Moffatt recalled worrying about early on, “Can we do 80 percent of what the Obama campaign is doing, in 20 percent of the time, at 10 percent of the cost?” Tagg also told the Globe that his father hopes to use what he learned during the campaign to help Republican leaders make changes to the way the party is run, saying, “Having been through it, you know so much more than when you haven’t”. Perhaps, the first thing Romney should suggest for the next go-around is picking a nominee who actually wants to be there.

23 December 2012

Andre Tartar

New York

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/12/mitts-son-says-he-never-wanted-to-be-president.html

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Editor’s Afterword:

”I really didn’t want to be president!” If that were so, why did Wet Willy run? Why did he spend millions of his own money and millions of the Republican Party’s money? Why did he order fireworks in Boston, as he was convinced that he was going to win? In short, GIGO all around. Wet Willy’s nothing but a spoilt brat who never grew up. His corporate daddy bought him a phony “clergy” deferment in the Vietnam War and gave him the seed-stake to enter business… that is, Wet Willy had the ways greased for him and he never had to do anything for himself. This story tells you volumes about the Romneys. Aren’t you glad that the Prez did win the election? After all, Willard didn’t want it… his son said so…

What a bunch of sore losers and incompetent tossers…

BMD

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