Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

As the Ukrainian Government retakes two strategically insignificant but symbolically important cities in Eastern Ukraine, this very interesting BBC article (originally posted on June 25th) perhaps explains why Valdimir Putin seems to have gone cold on further confrontation with the West.

We always said that Putin’s intentions were limited to securing the ice-free port of Sevastopol and the surrounding area in the Crimea that he will see as strategically vital to Russia’s future interests, and not to be allowed to fall into Nato’s grasp with the increasingly West-leaning Ukraine.

 

Sevastopol - it was always about the port, never about geo-politics.

Sevastopol – it was always about the port, never about geo-politics.

 

Western anxiety about the Russian moves essentially misunderstood (or were ignorant of) Russia’s historic relationship with the area.

Sevastopol was founded in June 1783 as a base for a naval squadron under the name Akhtiar (White Cliff), by Rear Admiral Thomas Mackenzie (Foma Fomich Makenzi), a native Scot in Russian service, soon after Russia annexed the Crimean Khanate.

Five years earlier, Alexander Suvorov ordered that earthworks be erected along the harbour and Russian troops be placed there. In February 1784, Catherine the Great ordered Grigory Potemkin to build a fortress there and call it Sevastopol. It became an important naval base and later a commercial seaport.

One of the most notable events involving the city is the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–55) carried out by the British, French, Sardinian, and Turkish troops during the Crimean War, which lasted for 11 months. Despite its efforts, the Russian army had to leave its stronghold and evacuate over a pontoon bridge to the north shore of the inlet. The Russians had to sink their entire fleet to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy and at the same time to block the entrance of the Western ships into the inlet. When the enemy troops entered Sevastopol, they were faced with the ruins of a formerly glorious city.

 

2248px-Panorama1854-1855

 

A very striking panorama of the siege originally was created by Franz Roubaud. After its destruction by the Nazis in 1942 during WWII, it was restored and is currently housed in a specially constructed circular building in the city. It portrays the situation at the height of the siege, on 18 June 1855, a story that still lives in the consciousness of many patriotic Russians..

Sevastopol under the Soviet Union

During World War II, Sevastopol again withstood intensive bombardment by the Germans in 1941–42, supported by their Italian and Romanian allies during the Battle of Sevastopol. German forces were forced to use railway artillery and specialised heavy mortars to destroy Sebastopol’s extremely heavy fortifications, such as the Maxim Gorky naval battery.

After fierce fighting, which lasted for 250 days, the supposedly un-takable fortress city finally fell to Axis forces in July 1942. It was intended to be renamed to “Theodorichshafen” (in reference to Theodoric the Great and the fact that the Crimea had been home to Germanic Goths until the 18th or 19th century) in the event of a German victory against the Soviet Union, and like the rest of the Crimea was designated for future colonisation by the Third Reich. But it was liberated by the Red Army on May 9, 1944 and was awarded with the title of “Hero City” a year later.

In 1957, the town of Balaklava, site of another major Crimean War battle, was incorporated into Sevastopol. During the Soviet era, Sevastopol became a so-called “closed city“. This meant that any non-residents had to apply to the authorities for a temporary permit to visit the city. It was directly subordinate to the central Russian authorities rather than the local oblast and later (after 1978) to the Ukrainian SSR administration. This reflected the startegic significance the Soviet Government placed on the area.

After the Soviet collapse

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Moscow refused to recognise Ukrainian sovereignty over Sevastopol as well as over the surrounding Crimean oblast, using the argument that the city was never practically integrated into the original Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic because of its vital military status.

The dispute has rankled for some time. On December 17, 1992, the office of the Ukrainian presidential representative in Crimea was created, which caused a wave of local protests a month later. Among the protesters who organised an unsanctioned protest rally held in Sevastopol on January 10 at the Nakhimov Square were the Sevastopol branches of the National Salvation Front, the Russian Popular Assembly, and the All-Crimean Movement of the Voters for the Republic of Crimea.

Then on July 10, 1993, the Russian parliament passed a resolution declaring Sevastopol to be “a federal Russian city”. 

On April 14, 1993, the Presidium of the Crimean Parliament called for the creation of the presidential post of the Crimean Republic. A week later, the Russian deputy, Valentin Agafonov, stated that Russia was ready to supervise a referendum on Crimean independence and include the republic as a separate entity in the CIS. On July 28 one of the leaders of the Russian Society of Crimea, Viktor Prusakov, stated that his organisation was ready for an armed mutiny and establishment of the Russian administration in Sevastopol. In September, Eduard Baltin, then Black Sea Fleet Commander, accused Ukraine of converting some of his fleet and conducting an armed assault on his personnel, and threatened to take counter-measures and placing the fleet on alert.

Nevertheless relations apparently improved, and in May 1997 Russia and Ukraine signed the Peace and Friendship Treaty, ruling out Moscow’s territorial claims to Ukraine. A separate agreement established the terms of a long-term lease of land, facilities, and resources in Sevastopol and the Crimea by Russia.

As part of this historic agreement, the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet and its facilities were divided between Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and the Ukrainian Naval Forces. The two navies co-used some of the city’s harbours and piers, while others were demilitarised or used by either country. Sevastopol remained the location of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with the Ukrainian Naval Forces Headquarters also based in the city. A judicial row periodically continues over the naval hydrographic infrastructure both in Sevastopol and on the Crimean coast (especially lighthouses historically maintained by the Soviet or Russian Navy and also used for civil navigation support).

Like in the rest of the Crimea, Russian remained the predominant language of the city, although following the independence of Ukraine there were some attempts at “Ukrainisation”, with very little success.

Despite the treaty, Russian society in general and even some outspoken government representatives never accepted the loss of Sevastopol and tended to regard it as merely temporarily separated from the homeland.

The WE Youth Political Organisation, which advocated Russian citizenship for Sevastopol residents, published a poll in 2004 claiming that “72% of the Sevastopol citizens supported the idea of the independent status of Crimea.” Crimea was then an autonomous Republic within Ukraine. Besides, they said that 95% of the respondents supported the constant stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol even after 2045, when the time of the corresponding agreement between Russia and Ukraine was suppose to end.

Also, apparently, 100% of those polled favoured the option for citizens of Sevastopol to obtain dual Russian and Ukrainian citizenship. It is notable, however, that of the Sevastopol citizens that expressed a desire to obtain Russian citizenship only 16% wwere ready to give up the Ukrainian one.

In July 2009, the chairman of the Sevastopol city council, Valeriy Saratov (Party of Regions) stated that Ukraine should increase the amount of compensation it paid to the city of Sevastopol for hosting the foreign Russian Black Sea Fleet, instead of requesting such obligations from the Russian government and the Russian Ministry of Defense in particular.

On April 27, 2010, Russia and Ukraine ratified the Russian Ukrainian Naval Base for Gas treaty, extending the Russian Navy’s lease of Crimean facilities for 25 years after 2017 (through 2042) with an option to prolong the lease in 5-year extensions. The ratification process in the Ukrainian parliament encountered stiff opposition and erupted into a brawl in the parliament chamber. Eventually, the treaty was ratified by a 52% majority vote—236 of 450. The Russian Duma ratified the treaty by a 98% majority without incident.

2014 Crimean crisis

On March 6, 2014, in response to the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, Sevastopol unilaterally declared that it wished to join the Russian Federation as a federal subject. The city council supported becoming a part of Russia, and on 11 March it released a joint resolution with the Supreme Council of Crimea to unite as an independent republic between the potential passing of the referendum and union with Russia. Ukrainian authorities strongly criticized the  referendum decision, while President Turchynov remarked that Building of the Supreme Council of Crimeawas controlled by the Russian military when vote on referendum resolution took place[24]

On March 16, citizens of Sevastopol were included alongside those in the Republic of Crimea in a referendum on 16 March 2014 on leaving Ukraine to join the Russian Federation – with official report of a majority of 95.6% voted to become a part of the Russian Federation, albeit these results are contested. (See Crimean status referendum, 2014#Alternate estimates for details). This referendum resulted in the establishment of the short-lived Republic of Crimea, which consisted of both Sevastapol and Crimea.

On March 18, 2014, the treaty on the adoption of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia was signed between Russia and the Republic of Crimea, with the following content:

  • The territory of the former Autonomous Republic of Crimea is incorporated as the Republic of Crimea (a Federal subject of Russian Federation).
  • The former Special Status City of Sevastopol is incorporated as a Federal City of Russia.
  • Both territories are incorporated as part of the Crimean Federal District.

This new status is not recognised by Ukraine and Crimea is still considered by Ukraine, the European Union, and most NATO members to remain only de jure a part of Ukraine.

 

The Russian Black Sea Fleet had been in Sevastopol for a long time. This painting by Alvazovsky pre-dates the Crimean War.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet had been in Sevastopol for a long time. This painting by Alvazovsky pre-dates the Crimean War.

 

In simple terms, the Black Sea was and is the Russian fleet’s gateway to the Mediterranean. As such it is entry point for the key theatre for the exercise of Russian influence in the Middle East, and for further egress to the Atlantic. As soon as Ukraine started leaning towards Nato, Crimea’s fate was essentially sealed.

The near-hysterical response by the West (particularly the Western media, less so Obama and the Western leaders) to Putin’s adventurism was full of fevered speculation that he was after the whole of the Eastern Ukraine, or even the whole country – or worse, that this was the first blow in a new land war between Russia and Nato.

Now, despite their ever more desperate appeals for help, the Eastern Crimea rebels find themselves assaulted by Ukraine’s ground forces while the Russian troops along the border retreat to their bases and their supply of arms dries up.

Realpolitik has done it’s work. Valdimir Putin has his port back. As we said at the time, it’s very likely it’s all he ever wanted.

Impressive, and appropriate.

corruption-corruptionblog-blogspot-comIn a minute, you will find a link to a must-read article by blogger Valentine Logar.

But first: wedon’t care what your politics is. This woman is right.

Yes, of course, Val is coming from a Democrat perspective, but she is actually speaking for all Americans who care about the quality of their civil society.

About a truly participatory democracy, with freedom and justice for all.

It’s this simple.

Democracy in America is for sale, and the last chance to prevent it becoming completely corrupted is right now.

If you’re American, read this. Read it now. If you are living anywhere else in the world, but you value a vibrant and growing American democracy as a key bulwark against totalitarianism, read it now. Click now:

Wake Up Citizens.

There is a concerted effort by the extreme right in America – by which I mean the extreme corporatist right, “big business” that is – the 1% – to BUY the American government. Legally. Under the “cover of law”.

corruptionAll of it, not just the Republicans, but Democrats too.

The Republicans apparently could care less – or maybe they are already so controlled they can’t fight back – although I strongly suspect many Democrats are equally compromised – but the people of America, those who value the land of the free, it is the people that must wake up and realise what is happening to their democracy.

The shadow men that have always circulated behind the seats of power obviously no longer think they need to fear people realising what they’re doing. They are using the froth and bubble of the debate over healthcare, and the upcoming possible debt default, to mask far murkier moves.

The land of the free. For all our sakes, bury your differences, before you become the land of the bought and paid for.

Which would make the whole world tremble.

Please, America, the reforms you need are not that difficult:

  • Stop your election funding laws becoming an international joke
  • Stop allowing political parties to gerrymander boundary changes – create an independent electoral boundaries review commission
  • Insert a circuit breaker in your Constitution so that governmental logjams cannot persist forever.

 

PS On a related issue: if you do default on your debt ceiling, America, and throw the entire world economy into chaos again, just please remember who did it. As trade dies, as your jobs disappear, as your prices rise, as your programs are cut, as you can’t afford new roads, or schools, or your armed forces, please remember those politicians who really refused to negotiate. And remember this, too: some people make money in a recession just as easily as they make it in a period of growth. They have the levers, they can throw them whichever way they want, and still buy and sell at a profit.

Just remember, as you hurt, they won’t be.

20130915-214908.jpg

Infowars is hardly a universally accepted or reliable source of rumours or news, but the assertion that Obama has been warned by ex CIA and FBI operatives that the infamous Syrian sarin attack was, indeed, carried out by rebels as a false flag attack is a new one. We’d very much like to see the story properly sourced …

http://www.infowars.com/us-military-document-rebels-had-sarin-gas-for-attack-in-syria/

We are on record as saying that we cannot understand why on earth Assad would use gas on his own people, thus ensuring Western intervention that would tip the balance in favour of the opposition.

That this was a “false flag” attack was always, of course, a possibility. And if it turns out to have been so, then external powers will rush to deny involvement. The story will be blamed on rogue elements in the Syrian opposition.

However, if Obama still proceeds to attack Syria (if talks fail to deal with the gas stockpiles, for example) and it is later shown he was warned that the intelligence he was acting upon was false – and that intelligence then is then duly shown to be false – then that will surely be the end of Obama.

Little wonder his apparent enthusiasm for a cruise missile attack on Syria seems to wane daily.

Meanwhile, we seem as far as ever from a solution to the overall crisis.

UPDATE

Against continuing denials by the Assad regime that they were responsible for the recent sarin gas attack, Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.N. General Assembly should move swiftly to approve a U.S.-Russia deal to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons, saying that there is no time to argue with those who are remain unconvinced that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government carried out a chemical attack last month.

Speaking Thursday at the State Department, Kerry didn’t mention Russian President Vladimir Putin, but his remarks were a clear attempt to rebut Putin’s statement that Russia has strong ground to believe that Syrian rebels – not Assad – were responsible for the attack.

Putin, however, says the perpetrators relied on “primitive” technology using old Soviet-made ammunition no longer in the Syrian army’s inventory.

Kerry says the U.S. believes a report by U.N. inspectors proves Assad conducted the attack. However, he also insists that the rebels do not have access to sarin, despite known evidence to the contrary. (See the third link below.)

Related articles

Deep, deep concerns about the wisdom of this course of action - the least the powers that be could do is show us the evidence.

Deep, deep concerns about the wisdom of this course of action – the least the powers that be could do is show us the evidence.

With his “red line” commitment, and the likely imminent bombing of Syria, Obama may have committed the worst blunder of what has in many ways been a Presidency mired in lost opportunities and disappointment.

When all’s said and done, it was never likely that Obama’s incumbency would reach the height of expectation generated by his first election victory.

And the economic crisis he had to deal with – and which he handled with some aplomb despite the criticism of an ornery Congress and the rabid right in America – dominated his first term.

Yet as we go along, there were also worrying signs that Obama lacks any genuine understanding of his role as a centre-left reformer on vital civil liberties issues.

He didn’t close Guantanamo as he promised to – but why? Was there ever any real doubt that Guantanamo inmates could be housed humanely and safely in America? No.

Just one of the many blight's on Obama's record as a small "d" democrat,

Just one of the many blights on Obama’s record as a small “d” democrat.

After years of incarceration, he has not released Guantanamo inmates who have been shown by any reasonable standard, including the opinion of the Administration, to be innocent of any crime. And trials of those considered guilty seem endlessly delayed.

Guilty as hell they might be, but justice delayed is justice denied, no matter who the defendant is.

He has not intervened to pardon whistleblower Bradley Manning, a principled if somewhat naive young person who many consider a hero.

He has argued it is acceptable for the Administration to kill US citizens without trial, via drone strikes, even within the USA’s borders if necessary. (You can’t even lock people up without trial, but you can execute them, apparently.)

For all his posturing, he has failed to act effectively on gun control.

He has done nothing to persuade states to drop the death penalty, nor has he intervened in cases where it is patently obvious that the soon-to-be-executed prisoner is innocent.

Troy Davis, just one of many executions against which there was serious disquiet, where Obama could have intervened, but didn't.

Troy Davis, just one of many executions against which there was serious disquiet, where Obama could have intervened, but didn’t.

He has continued – indeed, increased – drone strikes in countries nominally allied to the USA, despite their counter-productive effect on local opinion.

And now, faced with worldwide concern that we might be about to slip into a morass from which our exit is entirely uncertain, he seems determined to bomb the hell out of Damascus.

Current plans involve nearly 200 cruise missiles being dropped on the poor, benighted citizens of that beleaguered city.

(And that doesn’t count the payload of war planes that were yesterday landing at a rate of one every minute in Malta, according to one correspondent we have.)

One of our more popular t-shirts. You might check out this one, and others, at http://www.cafepress.com/yolly/7059992

One of our more popular t-shirts. You might check out this one, and others, at http://www.cafepress.com/yolly/7059992

Large scale civilian casualties will be brushed off by everyone as “sad but inevitable” except, of course, by the vast majority of the Arab and mid-East populace, already instinctive opponents of America, who will become, without doubt, angrier at the US and the West than ever, whatever they think of Assad.

Meanwhile, rumours continue to swirl unabated that the gas attack in the city was nothing to do with the regime, and could even have been an appalling accident from stocks held by rebel forces.

The US claims to have evidence of rockets being prepared with gas by the regime, but as this article argues, then why on earth not release that evidence?

We also have previous evidence that Syrian rebels have used gas themselves.

We have the persistent assertion that neo-cons have been planning to use Syria as just one more stepping stone to Mid-East hegemony, and that current alarums are just part of a long-range plan to hop into Syria on the way to Iran, as disclosed by retired general Wesley Clarke, presumably to depose the theocratic Islamic regime and grab the Iranian oilfields at the same time.

The fog generated by the secret state also makes it completely impossible to discern what was really going on when the Daily Mail first printed, then retracted as libellous (paying damages), an article about a British defence contractor revealing plans for a false flag gas attack on Syria.

So now, on the brink of war, we have the Obama government refusing to release all the facts that it is showing to members of Congress.

We can only ask “Why?”

If the case against the Assad regime stacks up, then the world – especially those in the mid East – need to know it before any action takes place. So does the UN, whether or not the Security Council can be persuaded to unanimity. (Extremely unlikely.) Because after Damascus is reduced to a smoking ruin will be too late to save the West’s credibility if it acts prematurely, or without irrefutable evidence.

And forgive us, but politicians reassuring us that the evidence is irrefutable just doesn’t cut it any more.

The continual accusation that something murky is going on will bedevil Obama unless this whole situation is conducted with total transparency. Memories of the “sexed up” dossier that led to the bloody war in Iraq (casualties 500,000 and counting) are still raw and fresh.

If he cares less about his legacy, Obama would do well to observe how Bush’s and Blair’s reputations have been forever trashed by that event. The tags “aggressors” and “war criminals” will follow them to their grave and beyond.

Why not simply release all the evidence, publicly. Why? That's what you have to tell us.

Why not simply release all the evidence, publicly. Why? That’s what you have to tell us.

As far as Wellthisiswhatithink is concerned, one piece of commonsense reasoning stands out for us above all others, fundamentally requiring an answer.

Obama had issued his red line warning. Why, in the name of all that is sensible, would Assad risk bringing down the wrath of Nato on his head by flinging chemical weapons at a relatively unimportant residential suburb, knowing full well what the response would be?

The war in Syria is a stalemate, his regime has suffered some losses but also some gains, and there is no evidence his personal grip on power was threatened. Why would this turkey vote for Christmas?

On the other hand, if a rogue Syrian officer wanted to aid the rebel cause, then what better way than to launch an attack which was guaranteed to provoke the West’s intervention, and possibly tip the scales emphatically in the rebel’s direction, something they seem unable to achieve for themselves?

As we contemplate the utter and ultimately murderous failure of diplomacy, we feel constrained to point out that the West – and all the other players like Russia – had a simple solution to the Syrian conflict available on the 23rd December 2011, while casualties were still horrific but minimal (just over 6,000), and before another civilian population had been utterly torn apart and traumatised.

Instead of standing back and doing nothing except chucking verbal rocks, Putin could be part of the solution. Nu-uh. Not so far.

Instead of standing back and doing nothing except chucking verbal rocks, Putin could be part of the solution. Nu-uh. Not so far.

We offered it in an article that explained patiently that there cannot be a solution to the Syrian crisis unless the leaders of the Baa’thist regime are offered a safe haven somewhere (either Russia or Iran, in all likelihood) and also pointed that we would need to keep the bulk of the civil administration in place even after a handover to the Syrian opposition, in order to prevent a complete breakdown in civil society as occurred in Iraq. And, of course, to prevent handing over power to the appalling al-Qaeda forces that were swarming into the conflict on the rebel side.

Now, thanks either to the complete ineptitude of Western politicians, or due to some hazy conspiracy the details of which we cannot clearly discern, we have the ultimate disaster on our hands.

One hundred thousand men, women and children who are NOT combatants are dead, and countless others injured.

Assad is weakened but has no way out.

The Opposition is in thrall to murderous savages that cut the heads off innocent people with pocket knives and shoot soldiers captured on the battlefront.

And we are about to waste hundreds of millions of dollars that we don’t have “taking out” Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles which, in reality, means taking out civilian neighbourhoods with yet more horrendous losses while the Syrian Government squirrel any WMDs they do have deep underground where they can’t be found, let alone bombed.

As the new Australian Prime minister Tony Abbott presciently remarked a few days ago, our choice in Syria is really between “baddies and baddies”.

Not exactly the brightest intellectual star in the political sky, for once Abbott's common touch pitched it about right.

Not exactly the brightest intellectual star in the political sky, for once Abbott’s common touch pitched it about right.

He was criticised for dismissing the conflict so colloquially, but frankly we think he deserves to be applauded for putting it so simply. We may well be about to intervene on behalf of one baddie, when the other baddie is at least as bad, if not worse.

And we do not refer, of course, to the principled, secular and democratic Syrian opposition that has bravely argued for regime change for a generation, but for the lunatics who would hijack their cause in the chaos.

And we are not even allowed to see the evidence for the upcoming attack. We repeat: why?

So much for democracy. So much for humanity. So much for truth and justice. Meanwhile, let’s feed the population bread and circuses – a steady diet of game shows, reality TV and talent quests, with some sport thrown in – let us anaesthetise our sensibilities to the hideous nature of what is about to happen – while the real powers behind the throne seemingly effortlessly manoeuvre public opinion in a relentless search for power, personal wealth and to justify corporate greed.

Frankly, always more of a fan of the cock-up theory of public administration (that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) we are actually beginning to sense that the shadow state is more real than any of us beyond the wildest conspiracy theorists ever truly imagined.

And we are also so very grateful that we do not live in a country with major oil fields.

His administration decided that it was better to let gas attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war against Iran. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted. How times change, huh?

Declassified CIA reports reveal that his administration decided that it was better to let gas attacks continue if they might turn the tide of the war against Iran. And even if they were discovered, the CIA wagered that international outrage and condemnation would be muted. How times change, huh?

Last but by no means least: how do you like the hypocrisy of flattening Syria for theoretically using chemical weapons – although we are not allowed to see the proof – that actually might well have made their way to Assad via Saddam Hussein, that were originally cheerfully supplied to him by America, to chuck at Iranian troops in the Iraq-Iran war?

That’s when Saddam was still our good ol’ buddy, remember. Before he got a bit uppity.

Those weapons – which the dictator was actively urged to use by America backed up by American supplied intelligence – killed tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of people.

But that’d be wrong, right?

Sorry, my brain hurts.

I mean, I only ask, you know, given that he’s now going to jail for thirty five years.

THIRTY. FIVE. YEARS.

210px-Bradley_Manning_US_ArmyAnd if you liked knowing that your Government was shooting children on your behalf, or abusing so-called friendly Governments in diplomatic cables, or had been caught out lying to you – I mean you might not have LIKED knowing that, but you’d rather know, right? – then what have you done so far to get this whistleblower out of jail?

If you want a good overview of what Manning leaked, click here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/bradley-manning-leaks_n_3788126.html

Remember, he’s going to jail for thirty five years because the US Government, and Governments around the world, think YOU should not know what they’re up to. Not Al Qaeda, or any other nasty. Because it’s been conceded that not one single American asset or serviceman has been harmed as a result of Wikileaks. Plenty of Government embarrassment: no danger.

No: they simply don’t want YOU to know what’s going on.

For a free society to work, for Government to be held to a decent moral standard, for us to make informed decisions about who and what we support, we NEED whistleblowers. We need Bradley Manning.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

I see his lawyers are now going to plead with Obama for a pardon. If ever Obama had a chance to show that he is not just some dyed-in-the-wool conservative like those he pretends to oppose across the aisle, this is it.

I will not be holding my breath, however, as this President shows every sign of becoming more authoritarian by the day. But we are watching, Mr President. We are watching.

Today is a very, very sad day for freedom. Today, we slipped a little further down the slope.

Speak up, world.

Related articles

I am perpetually in amazement at the comments that come out of the extreme right in America. Please note, I say the extreme right. There is still a right in America that is thoughtful, responsible, and decent. Just. I dread to think what could happen, though, were some of these utter wing-nuts to acheive real power, both in internal and external US policy.

Anyhow, before I hyper-ventilate, this article on the Rachel Maddow blog came across our desk. Un-fuc*ing-believable.

Begins:

Rp. Mike Kelly. The only problem with political jokes is that they frequently get elected.

Rp. Mike Kelly. The only problem with political jokes is that they frequently get elected.

When it comes to rhetorical excesses, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) is perhaps best known for his comments a year ago, when he said an administrative decision treating contraception access as preventive health care was comparable to 9/11 and the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Late last week, however, Kelly launched into another ugly diatribe, insisting that President Obama “divides” Americans “on race.”

The far-right congressman did not offer specific or substantive points to bolster the accusation, but added, “Listen, I’ll tell you what: It’s self-evident. I don’t know if people who aren’t reading or not watching, maybe, don’t have the same opinion, but I think it’s pretty obvious where we’re going with some of this stuff.”

I don’t know what “stuff” is disturbing Kelly, but when it comes to racial divisions, the evidence doesn’t exactly point in the president’s direction (via Perry Stein).

Hundreds of protesters wielded signs, chanted slogans and argued with each other Tuesday outside Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, while President Barack Obama spoke about housing and the economy inside. [...]

Racially-charged sentiment infused the protests and split the crowd both politically and physically…. Obama foes at one point sang, “Bye Bye Black Sheep,” a derogatory reference to the president’s skin color, while protesters like Deanne Bartram raised a sign saying, “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!”

President Obama in Arizona, Tuesday

President Obama in Arizona, Tuesday

One University of Arizona student said the president:

“Needs to go back to where he came from,” adding, “I am not a racist.”

(Er … that’d be Hawaii. Ed.)

Another protestor shouted, in reference to the president:

“He’s 47 percent Negro.”

Yet another whined about Obama:

“He’s divided all the races. I hate him for that.”

Oh for heaven’s sake …

With all due respect, it's President Obama, not King Barack, Sir.

With all due respect, it’s President Obama, not King Barack, Sir.

Ridiculously hyperbolic headline? We think not.

This fascinating Wall Street Journal article – riveting, for democrats everywhere – by a leading American jurist – again points out the worrying trend in Obama’s thinking that he is the ultimate arbiter of the law, which is discardable when it interrupts his policy agenda.

This is just the latest in a long series of over-steppings: the asserted right to kill American citizens without trial when they are engaged in terrorist activity (allegedly), the continued incarceration of detainees in Guantanamo who have been cleared of any wrongdoing, (let alone the fact it js still open anyway), the public crucifixion of Bradley Manning, the current confected fury over Edward Snowden, and the more mundane examples quoted in the article.

This latest move by Obama will neither upset left or right – the left will see it as a minor issue, the right will laud the relief to business – but as the article so appositely argues, if it is allowed to go unchallenged, it sets an appalling precedent.

In short,the message is “America: wake up”.

The slide to autocracy, by no means limited to Obama, (illegal invasion of Iraq resulting in 500,000 dead, anyone?), but certainly continued by him, carries on unchecked. This might seem a trivial matter in itself, but its implications are not.

I am an avowed Obama supporter, but equally, I feel that uncritical support is essentially un-democratic. Little d, and big D.

By MICHAEL W. MCCONNELL

President Obama’s decision last week to suspend the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act may be welcome relief to businesses affected by this provision, but it raises grave concerns about his understanding of the role of the executive in our system of government.

Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This is a duty, not a discretionary power. While the president does have substantial discretion about how to enforce a law, he has no discretion about whether to do so.

This matter—the limits of executive power—has deep historical roots. During the period of royal absolutism, English monarchs asserted a right to dispense with parliamentary statutes they disliked. King James II’s use of the prerogative was a key grievance that lead to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The very first provision of the English Bill of Rights of 1689—the most important precursor to the U.S. Constitution—declared that “the pretended power of suspending of laws, or the execution of laws, by regal authority, without consent of parliament, is illegal.”

To make sure that American presidents could not resurrect a similar prerogative, the Framers of the Constitution made the faithful enforcement of the law a constitutional duty.

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the president on legal and constitutional issues, has repeatedly opined that the president may decline to enforce laws he believes are unconstitutional. But these opinions have always insisted that the president has no authority, as one such memo put it in 1990, to “refuse to enforce a statute he opposes for policy reasons.”

Attorneys general under Presidents Carter, Reagan, both Bushes and Clinton all agreed on this point. With the exception of Richard Nixon, whose refusals to spend money appropriated by Congress were struck down by the courts, no prior president has claimed the power to negate a law that is concededly constitutional.

In 1998, the Supreme Court struck down a congressional grant of line-item veto authority to the president to cancel spending items in appropriations. The reason? The only constitutional power the president has to suspend or repeal statutes is to veto a bill or propose new legislation. Writing for the court in Clinton v. City of New York, Justice John Paul Stevens noted: “There is no provision in the Constitution that authorizes the president to enact, to amend, or to repeal statutes.”

The employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act contains no provision allowing the president to suspend, delay or repeal it. Section 1513(d) states in no uncertain terms that “The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.” Imagine the outcry if Mitt Romney had been elected president and simply refused to enforce the whole of ObamaCare.

This is not the first time Mr. Obama has suspended the operation of statutes by executive decree, but it is the most barefaced. In June of last year, for example, the administration stopped initiating deportation proceedings against some 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16, lived here at least five years, and met a variety of other criteria. This was after Congress refused to enact the Dream Act, which would have allowed these individuals to stay in accordance with these conditions. Earlier in 2012, the president effectively replaced congressional requirements governing state compliance under the No Child Left Behind Act with new ones crafted by his administration.

The president defended his suspension of the immigration laws as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. He defended his amending of No Child Left Behind as an exercise of authority in the statute to waive certain requirements. The administration has yet to offer a legal justification for last week’s suspension of the employer mandate.

Republican opponents of ObamaCare might say that the suspension of the employer mandate is such good policy that there’s no need to worry about constitutionality. But if the president can dispense with laws, and parts of laws, when he disagrees with them, the implications for constitutional government are dire.

Democrats too may acquiesce in Mr. Obama’s action, as they have his other aggressive assertions of executive power. Yet what will they say when a Republican president decides that the tax rate on capital gains is a drag on economic growth and instructs the IRS not to enforce it?
And what of immigration reform? Why bother debating the details of a compromise if future presidents will feel free to disregard those parts of the statute that they don’t like?

The courts cannot be counted on to intervene in cases like this. As the Supreme Court recently held in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the same-sex marriage case involving California’s Proposition 8, private citizens do not have standing in court to challenge the executive’s refusal to enforce laws, unless they have a personal stake in the matter.

If a president declines to enforce tax laws, immigration laws, or restrictions on spending—to name a few plausible examples—it is very likely that no one will have standing to sue.

Of all the stretches of executive power Americans have seen in the past few years, the president’s unilateral suspension of statutes may have the most disturbing long-term effects. As the Supreme Court said long ago (Kendall v. United States, 1838), allowing the president to refuse to enforce statutes passed by Congress “would be clothing the president with a power to control the legislation of congress, and paralyze the administration of justice.”

Mr. McConnell, a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, is a professor of law and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

74% of all pyschiatric illness occurs before the age of 24, and 50% before the age of 14, and between 20-25% of people will suffer depression requiring treatment at some point in their life. How come a quarter of the population isn't out blasting away at anything that moves?

74% of all pyschiatric illness occurs before the age of 24, and 50% before the age of 14, and between 20-25% of people will suffer depression requiring treatment at some point in their life. How come a quarter of the population isn’t out blasting away at anything that moves?

In America, (in particular, but in chardonnay-sipping middle-class households everywhere), it has become very faddish to spout the nonsense “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. And to tortuously link that to a reassuring argument that if only we could keep guns out of the hands of the homicidally insane or depressed, then all would magically be well and our children can skip down the street in the sunshine, free from fear.

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I call “Bullshit”.

The fact is, 99.99 (recurring) % of mentally ill people (including many, many people you know personally) never pick up a gun and kill anyone. If a gun is available nearby they are very likely to pick it up and kill themselves, sometimes on a tragic whim, but that’s not what is being debated here.

Indeed, mentally ill people are much more likely to be the victims of gun violence than the perpetrators.

Discuss. Please. Before this meme becomes generally accepted, and a soothing (but mythological) salve for our communal consciences.

The fact that murderers are often found to have committed their crimes while the balance of their mind was disturbed is irrelevant. The vast – vast – majority of homicides enacted using guns (or any other weapon) are enacted by people the courts subsequently judge to be perfectly sane. Or imperfectly sane, but not quite insane, either.

In the opinion of this writer, the availability of guns is, of course, the primary cause of gun violence.

No guns, no gun violence.

Fewer guns, fewer violent gun episodes.

Lots and lots of guns, married to a gung-ho macho culture where people are de-sensitised almost from birth to violence, and gun violence specifically, and where police and armed forces frequently use guns in a manner that at best is careless, and at worst is culpable homicide, and you have you entirely predictable result: lots and lots of gun violence.

If you’re going to do something about tackling gun control, in America or anywhere else, do it nationally, do it with wide popular support, do it married to a massive public education campaign, and know that you will probably have to do it consistently for decades before you see any measurable result.

Anything else is just playing with the memories of the dead, and the understanding of the living, in the most monstrous and despicable manner.

If you agree with me that mental illness is more serious than a convenient excuse to cover up the need for action, and/or if you agree that the mentally ill are being unreasonably pilloried in this debate, I urge you to share this blog, either by re-blogging it, or mention it and link to it on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Stumble Upon etc. Thank you.

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning

If you want to know what it must be like to be trapped in a legal system which shows no sign of wanting you to have a fair trial, and every sign of being determined to punish you for your offensiveness to the state, you might look at the case of Pussy Riot in Russia, a group of young female musicians locked up in the harshest possible conditions for daring to sing a song for two minutes.

Or you could imagine you were a young American soldier, horrified by what you were reading in secret transcripts, who wanted his country to return to the principles on which it was founded, and who decided to leak the contents of those transcripts so the world could see what was happening, and make a judgement.

Not the great and good of the world, but people just like you and me.

Indeed, one has to ask, if Bradley Manning is charged with “aiding the enemy” for sharing government lies and secrets with us, then are we the enemy?

At every turn the United States Government, presumably with the full cognisance and approval of the so-called Democratic president, Barack Obama, has treated Bradley Manning with mental cruelty beyond belief – including for a time keeping him locked in a small windowless solitary confinement cell for no good reason – which led to a paltry reduction in any future terms of imprisonment – and has steadfastly refused to allow him to make the defence he wishes to make.

Just so that is clear, in some Kafkaesque world of their own making, the military and civil authorities in the USA are telling this man how to, and how not to, defend himself against the charges laid against him.

Bradley Manning served his country. Now his country wants to lock him up and throw away the key - or worse.

Bradley Manning served his country. Now his country wants to lock him up and throw away the key – or worse.

Now the military judge in his case has ruled that Manning will not be allowed to present evidence about his motives for the leak – a key plank of his defence. Colonel Denise Lind ruled that general issues of motive were not relevant to the trial stage of the court martial.

This must be the first time in legal history that motive could not be considered germane to the question of guilt.

By denying Manning the chance to make a whistleblower defence in his upcoming court martial in which he faces possible
life in military custody with no chance of parole his situation will be rendered much weaker. Manning’s lead defence
lawyer, David Coombs, had argued that his motive was key to proving that he had no intention to harm US interests
or to pass information to the enemy.

It should also be noted that neither the US government (nor anyone else) has ever claimed that the information released by
Manning has caused any harm to a single individual, such as soldier, spy, or government official.

Unsurprisingly, given the way this is going, the judge also blocked the defence from presenting evidence designed to
show that WikiLeaks caused little or no damage to US national security. Coombs has devoted considerable time and
energy trying to extract from US government agencies their official assessments of the impact of WikiLeaks around the
world, only to find that he is now prevented from using any of the information he has obtained.

The general issue of motive must be held back until Manning either entered a plea or was found guilty, at which
point it could be used in mitigation to lessen the sentence. The ruling is a blow to the defence as it will make it harder
for the soldier’s legal team to argue he was acting as a principled whistleblower and not as someone who knowingly
damaged US interests at a time of war.

“This is another effort to attack the whistleblower defence,” said Nathan Fuller, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning
Support Network, after the hearing.

The 25-year-old intelligence analyst faces 22 charges relating to the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified
diplomatic cables, war logs from the Afghan and Iraq wars, and videos of US military actions. The most serious
charge, “aiding the enemy”, which carries the life sentence, accuses him of arranging for state secrets to be published
via WikiLeaks on the internet knowing that al-Qaida would have access to it.

The US government is expected at trial to present evidence that allegedly shows that Osama bin Laden personally
requested to see some of the WikiLeaks publications attributed to Manning and that documents were found on his
computer following the US navy Seals raid that killed him.

In a limited victory for the defence, Coombs and the defence team will be allowed to talk about the soldier’s motives
on two narrow counts: where it can be used to show that he did not know that his leaks would be seen by al-Qaida;
and as evidence that he consciously selected certain documents or types of documents in order to ensure they
would not harm the US or benefit any foreign nation.

Lind’s ruling means that some of the most impassioned statements by Manning about why he embarked on the
massive transfer of information to WikiLeaks will now not be heard at trial. In the course of a now famous web chat
he had with the hacker-turned-informer Adrian Lamo, Manning wrote : “information should be free / it belongs in
the public domain / because another state would just take advantage of the information … try and get some edge /
if its out in the open … it should be a public good.”

Public pressure is the key to determining whether this man gets anything remotely resembling a fair trial. Many,
including this writer, consider him a hero for wanting the public to know what was being done and said in their
name, including when their Governments were openly lying to them.

You can read more about the case, and get involved in the fight for justice for Bradley Manning, as many of
your fellow concerned citizens such as veterans, journalists, Nobel Peace Prize winners, and legal experts
worldwide already have, at http://www.bradleymanning.org/

Facebookers will also find this page interesting https://www.facebook.com/savebradley?ref=ts&fref=ts and
you can also visit a remarkable outpouring of popular outrage and at your own photograph at
http://iam.bradleymanning.org/

Expect to hear much more from Wellthisiswhatithink on this vital public interest case as the trial continues …

Are you?

Are you?

Michael Moore

Rowdy, unashamed, unabashed, curmudgeonly, grumpy, trouble-making, not to mention resolutely overweight and ugly. My type of guy in other words.

 

It has long been my opinion, born of both commonsense and practical experience, that elections are actually won away from the flashing lights and razzamattaz of national media coverage and TV ads by legions of worker bees toiling away patiently on doorsteps, on the telephone, in cars giving lifts to voters, and with their neighbours and friends.

I arrive at this opinion from many years slogging round the streets for the Liberal Party in the UK – then a tiny outpost of insanity or sanity depending on your point of view – where we had no money but endless enthusiasm, no press support but brilliant organisation, and a ruthless obsession with getting our vote out.

Simon Hughes

My good friend Simon Hughes, first elected to Parliament in the Bermondsey by-election of 24 February 1983. Hughes won the seat with 57.7% of the vote.

That obsession was, more than anything else, the genesis of so many of those “unexpected” Liberal or Liberal-SDP victories in by-elections that no one saw coming – except, of course, those of us in the eye of the hurricane, who knew full well that our “ground game”  was infinitely superior and we were going to win. Seasoned campaigners like Trevor “Jones the Vote” from Liverpool and Peter Chegwyn – from seemingly everywhere – and many other unsung luminaries – rigidly marshalled their ranks of duffle-coated apparatchiks to deliver “shock” victory after shock victory, built on the back of superbly targeted local issues. In seats as diverse as Sutton and Cheam, Liverpool Edge Hill, Ripon, Isle of Ely, Croydon NE, Glasgow Hillhead, Bermondsey and Crosby these victories galvanised public opinion and kept a small party alive.

Years later in Australia, dismayed by the antiquated centralised campaigning I saw around me, I wrote a pamphlet on “Community Politics”  which in one form or another was enthusiastically taken up by the then Australian Democrats, and then later to a lesser extent by the Labor Party and the Greens, and even a few forward-thinking Conservative politicians as well.

Anyhow, opening my in-box this morning, I found an email from documentary film-maker Michael Moore.

He points unerringly to the manner in which President Obama will definitely gain re-election. As that, I firmly believe, will be good for America and for the world, I commend his remarks too you.

Now is the time for action, not words.

“I have a personal favor I’d like to ask each of you. We all know the election next Tuesday is going to be very close. But I’ve got an idea that could help put President Obama over the top.
I want you – yes, YOU, the person reading this right now – to get ONE of your fellow Americans who would not otherwise vote to show up at the polls and support Obama.
Here’s the math: there are upwards of five million of you seeing this, via email, on my website, on the Huffington Post and all over the internet. There are 1.2 million following me on Twitter. I’ve got almost 700,000 Facebook friends.
I want just one million of you to convince just ONE person each – one person who’s planning NOT to vote – to go to the polls and vote for Barack Obama. That’s it. And those million extra votes could make all the difference in what will be a very tight election – and it will save us from a tragic return to the Bush years.
Do you realize that there are 90 million people who are planning to NOT vote next Tuesday? That’s according to a poll conducted by USA Today. 90,000,000!! It’s a shocking number, isn’t it? In the old days we’d just label these people as apathetic or stupid. Not anymore. They don’t need our admonition – they need our empathy.
The non-voter today knows exactly what’s going on, and he or she wants no part of it. They are discouraged, disillusioned, and have almost lost hope that things will change. Many are jobless or working for peanuts. They’re angry, and we should tell them they have every right to be.
But here’s something else about them: despite everything, they haven’t utterly given up on politics. When USA Today asked the non-voters who they’d choose if they HAD to vote for someone in this election, 18% said they would vote for Romney – and 43% said they’d vote for Obama! That means there are nearly 40 million people who prefer Obama – AND THEY ARE NOT GOING TO VOTE.
The other question they were asked was, what would it take to get you to vote? 85% of the pro-Obama non-voters said they would go vote IF they thought the election was going to be really close and that their vote would actually make the difference.
This is, for all its frustrating logic, incredibly good news. So our job for the next six days is clear: We – you and me – have to bring a little over 1% of the 90 million non-voters to the polls. If we do we’ll send Romney packing back to New Hampshire/Massachusetts/California or wherever he’s going to build car elevators next.
The time to convince undecideds to vote for Obama is over. All it’s about now is whose supporters simply show up. The side that does the best job of literally dragging people out of their homes between 6:00 AM and 8:00 PM on Tuesday, November 6th is the side that wins.
Each of us knows Obama-supporting non-voters. They’re your cousin, your coworker, your friend from the choir at church. Identify just one of them (best of all if they’re in a swing state) and pledge to get them to the polls. You can try to convince them with all the good arguments as to why they should vote for the O (click here), but I think the best way to do this is to ask them personally, just this once, to do this for you. Not for the country. For you.
Then, once they’ve committed to vote, make a commitment to them: that you are not going to be silent after Tuesday, that you are going to keep fighting like hell (including, when need be, fighting Obama) every single day after the election for them, for you and for all of us.
So, that is your mission – YOURS, the person reading this right this second. Bring just one non-voter to the polls. Easy! Do it and be known as part of the group that defeated Mitt “Bush #3″ Romney and gave Barack Obama another term – and another chance to do what we sent him there to do. “

Er … Wot he said.

Not only a clever website, but a timely reminder that Obama has been a fine President in many ways. Flawless? No. Hardworking and genuine? Yes. Worth another four years? Indubitably.

http://whatthefuckhasobamadonesofar.com/

First ever cover of the New Yorker in 1925. Now published 47 times a year, it has a fine literary tradition.

There is a curious tradition in America where journals and newspapers of all kinds “endorse” (or support) one or other of the leading candidates for President.

For example, there was an amused titter the other day, for example, when a leading Utah newspaper (Utah being the “Mormon” state) came out against Romney calling him untrustworthy. Ooops.

This endorsing of candidates is a phenomenon seen around the world, but it is engaged in somewhat desultorily in other democracies, and rarely to any great effect.

Probably the only time of any great note recently in the non-US English-speaking world was when the Sun newspaper under Rupert Murdoch switched from the Tories under John Major and backed Labour’s Tony Blair. But in general, it rarely means anything much except in the USA.

The New Yorker is an august production, with a fine tradition of both political cartooning and political comment, as well as a diverse range of articles on other topics. It is not, however, it must be said, hugely influential any more, although it is highly respected. Although its reviews and events listings often focus on the cultural life of New York City, The New Yorker has a wide audience outside of New York. It is well known for its illustrated and often topical covers, its commentaries on popular culture and eccentric Americana, its attention to modern fiction by the inclusion of short stories and literary reviews, its rigorous fact checking and copy editing, its journalism, and its single-panel cartoons sprinkled throughout each issue.

It is a shame, really, that it is less influential than in the past, because it has just delivered one of the finest pieces of political writing I have come across in a very, very long time. It is well-researched, sparsely written, convincing and relevant. And sure, it endorses Obama, and I have made no secret of my passion for having the President re-elected.

But that is not why I suggest you read it.

In a world bedevilled by sound bites and the dumbing down of politics it stands out as principled, erudite, and yet easy to understand by all and sundry.

What an example it sets for us all. Honestly, if anyone can find a comparable piece of writing endorsing Romney I promise I will republish it. I strongly urge you to read this whatever your political persuasion.

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/10/29/121029taco_talk_editors?mbid=nl_Weekly+%2827%29

The final paragraph gives you an insight into its quality.

The re-election of Barack Obama is a matter of great urgency. Not only are we in broad agreement with his policy directions; we also see in him what is absent in Mitt Romney—a first-rate political temperament and a deep sense of fairness and integrity. A two-term Obama Administration will leave an enduringly positive imprint on political life. It will bolster the ideal of good governance and a social vision that tempers individualism with a concern for community. Every Presidential election involves a contest over the idea of America. Obama’s America—one that progresses, however falteringly, toward social justice, tolerance, and equality—represents the future that this country deserves.

Yup. What he said.

Opinion polls

Down the end of this docco – well, a bit more than halfway thru -  are the actual current USA polls, without anyone cherry picking them, and the dates on which they were taken.

It should be noted that the second Presidential debate was on the 16th. The clear controversy is the difference between the Rasmussen and Gallup Polls, (the latter which has been criticised because of its sampling type and as a result of having a track record of being incorrectly inflative to the GOP) and the IBD and HC/UConn and ABC polls. The last four, being entirely pre-second debate can probably be discounted.

If we discount the Gallup poll change by 50% down to +3 (which of course is arguable, but also less of a discount than indicated by its previous performance – it over-estimated McCain by +9% at one point last time) and make it Romney +3, and then average the results for the top four polls, then the result is Romney +2 and Obama +3.

And I am GUESSING this is about right. I predicted about a 1% increase for Obama over his low point int he aftermath of the Debate #1 debacle. I expect to see the trend continue after a win for Obama on Monday night, but that is pure star-gazing.

But in my opinion, something else is happening too. As always happens in tight races, both sides are shoring up support in their stronger areas. Thus a state like NC for example, where Bush won very easily, and in which Obama squeaked home last time, is, in my opinion, not really “leaning” Romney but should be thoroughly placed in his camp. However, that doesn’t really help him win, because he’s piling up votes in a state which he really should win easily anyway. Similarly, Obama is comfortably ahead in Michigan, but so he damn well should be, since he bought into the car industry and also won it by 16% last time.

The fact that a state like Virginia is a dead heat at the moment should be very concerning for the GOP. I think it will go to Romney, but given it’s importance, and given Bush won it by 8.1 and 8.2%, and Obama by 6.3% (which is around his current fall in the polls) it should surely be comfortably trending towards Romney now. But it isn’t.

The fight in the battleground states is much tighter than it is in the homebase states. One word of wisdom – back in the Democratic primaries before 2008, Obama beat Clinton by concentrating his support in the key battleground states, and conceding states that didn’t matter. Democrat investment in Ohio – which should, by national polling, be long gone from the Obama camp – shows they are doing it again.

Rasmussen Tracking         10/17 – 10/19                  Romney +1
Gallup Tracking                 10/13 – 10/19                  Romney +6
IBD/TIPP Tracking         10/14 – 10/19                   Obama  +3
Hartford Courant/UConn   10/11 – 10/16             Obama  +3

ABC News/Wash Post 1    0/10 – 10/13                    Obama +3
Politico/GWU/Battleground    10/7 – 10/11         Obama +1
Monmouth/SurveyUSA/Braun 10/8 – 10/10      Romney +1
FOX News    10/7 – 10/9                                                Romney +1

In short, I believe Obama is just one good debate away from being home again. Whereas I believe Romney is one GREAT debate – plus some problems for Obama plus a better organisation on the ground (which he doesn’t have) plus getting lucky in every battleground state in the country … from being home.

The odds, whatever GOP operatives and supporters would have us believe, are still very pro-Obama. Tonight. Tomorrow? Who knows.

I’ll say this too. I think the GOP will be delighted to have hurt Obama, to have defended many seats around the country, to be “back in the game”, and in the process to have got rid of the uncomfortable and disliked Romney. A few more years to knock the edges of Ryan (or someone similar) and they think they’ll be back in for a generation. And they well may be right.

Obama and Romney

“I hate your tie.” “Well, I hate your tie more.”

That the race for the White House has tightened is undoubted. That it is still likely Obama will get back seems probable.

This article explains the current situation well, taking the likely feelings over the second deabte and translating them into likely results. Polls released in the next few days will be helpful too, and, of course, the last debate on Monday is shaping up to be very significant.

It is also going to be significant, I think, that it is on Foreign Policy.

Romney is not as strong here as Obama, it is widely acknowledged, and Obama’s anger at Romney going after him on the Benghazi incident was one of his strongest moments in Debate 2. “I find that offensive” he snarled, eyes flashing, and suddenly the man looked every inch a President and Commander-in-Chief. Looking every inch a President and Commander-in-Chief is exactly what he needs to do to get re-elected, so Monday will be interesting to say the least. Anyway, for someone’s views other than mine you would do worse than to read this excellent summary:

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/instant-reaction-polls-show-narrow-obama-advantage-in-second-debate/

What does interest me in this article and much recent analysis is that Romney appears to be doing better in Florida than I expected, (where I have been regularly predicting a Democrat scare campaign on Medicare – although maybe the on the ground campaign is yet to begin in earnest, and volunteers – who make up the bulk of party workers – really get energised in the last couple of weeks), not as well in Virginia as he needs to be at this stage, and definitely not as well in Ohio (where he is being massively outspent on TV by Obama).

As he has to win all three states to win, I stick with my prediction that he can’t. Win. But heigh ho, forecasting elections is a tricky business, and I may yet have egg on my face.

What is also clear is that one major implosion by either candidate now will not leave time for a recovery.

One side note: the Fox News panel of undecided voters was actually made up of of EX Obama supporters – not drawn from the ranks of the genuine undecideds or independents. Not surprisingly, despite everyone else calling it for Obama by one margin or another, these actively disillusioned voters felt Romney did well and looked “Presidential”. What next, if Romney falters? A panel of tea party supporters?

What a bizarre pretence of journalism that network really is. Rupert Murdoch – busy tweeting his support of Romney, no less – take yet another bow for what you have done to our body politic.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney – Mr Nice Guy’s mask slips, possibly terminally

Whilst no one with any commonsense would argue that the size of the American Government needs to be trimmed to match more closely the productivity of the country, an interesting attitude from the man who would be President for all Americans – and not just those worth millions and billions of dollars – is now on public display for all to see.

As AFP report from Washington, Mitt Romney’s campaign was rocked Monday by a secretly filmed video in which the Republican tells rich Republican Party donors that nearly half of Americans are government-dependent ‘victims’ who dodge taxes.

President Barack Obama’s team quickly seized on the film, released by the liberal Mother Jones magazine, as proof that the multi-millionaire Romney had written off half the nation, and was not fit to serve as president.

The video was the latest blow to the Romney team as it fought off reports that the Republican’s White House bid is in disarray, as he struggles to close a small but growing and consistent gap to Obama in national polls and battleground states.

In excerpts from the video, which has emerged 50 days before the November 6 election, Romney is seen to say in a closed-door, private fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans will vote for the president “no matter what.”

“There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

“These are people who pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

I find this attitude astonishing, but it is great to see the bullsh*t stripped from the carefully-posed performances that have characterised the uber-rich billionaire’s campaign so far. Here, laid bare for all to see (except those who don’t wish to) is the reality of the new ultra-right Republican party’s attitude to the American people.

Of course, if Americans are in receipt of Government care, it doesn’t mean that they are entirely dependent on the Government. It can be anything from medical support, education and retraining, to the more desperate needs of unemployment benefit, to food staples delivered (via food stamps) to people who would otherwise, literally, be in danger of starving, starving. In the richest country in the world.

Wellthisiswhatithink asks: Is it beyond the wit and ability of the right to understand many millions of people receiving some sort of welfare support are EX tax payers who are now GETTING THEIR TAXES BACK AGAIN – loaned to the Government to do with whatever it wishes – to survive in a tough period? Frankly, I would have thought that small government right wingers would approve of that concept?

“President Romney” is, thank goodness, looking increasingly unlikely. Because increasingly he looks like a buffoon, and not a very nice one at that. As one Bloomberg correspondent put it today:

You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney’s campaign for President.

On the tape, Romney explains that his electoral strategy involves writing off nearly half the country as unmoveable Obama voters. As Romney explains, 47 percent of Americans “believe that they are victims.” He laments:  “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

So what’s the upshot? “My job is not to worry about those people,” he says. He also notes, describing President Obama’s base, “These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”

This is an utter disaster for Romney.

Romney already has trouble relating to the public and convincing people he cares about them. Now, he’s been caught on video saying that nearly half the country consists of hopeless losers.

Romney has been vigorously denying President Obama’s claims that his tax plan would raise taxes on the middle class. But now, he’s been caught on video suggesting that low- and middle-income Americans are undertaxed.

(That one is especially problematic given the speculation about what’s on Mitt’s unreleased pre-2010 tax returns.)

Corn tells us there are more embarrassing moments on segments of the video he hasn’t released yet. For example, Romney jokes that he’d be more likely to win the election if he were Hispanic. And he makes some awkward comments about whether he was born with a “silver spoon” in his mouth.

But those are survivable. The really disastrous thing is the clip about “victims,” and the combination of contempt and pity that Romney shows for anyone who isn’t going to vote for him.

Romney is the most opaque presidential nominee since Nixon, and people have been reduced to guessing what his true feelings are.

This video provides an answer: He feels that you’re a loser. It’s not an answer that wins elections.

Poll: Obama widens lead over Romney despite weaker jobs data – see the end of this article for 17 Sept update confirming trend is in Obama’s favour.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland today

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland today. I think Ryan looks too young to run. Oh, sorry, my bad. (Photo credit: tvnewsbadge)

As predicted in the pages of Wellthisiswhatithink a few days ago, Obama has done better out of the conference season than Romney. The scheduling of the Democrat convention immediately after the Republican one may come to be seen as a strategic masterstroke when the experts parse the result of a Democrat win in November.

The President widened his narrow lead over Republican U.S. presidential challenger Mitt Romney in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Saturday.

The latest daily tracking poll showed Obama with a lead of 4 percentage points over Romney. Forty-seven percent of 1,457 likely voters surveyed online over the previous four days said they would vote for Obama if the November 6 elections were held today, compared with 43 percent for Romney.

“The bump is actually happening. I know there was some debate whether it would happen, but it’s here,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark, referring to the “bounce” in support that many presidential candidates enjoy after nominating conventions.

Obama had leapfrogged Romney in the daily tracking poll on Friday with a lead of 46 percent to 44 percent.

The president’s lead comes despite a somewhat mixed reaction to his convention speech on Thursday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Friday’s government data showing that jobs growth slowed sharply last month.

Obama’s lead over Romney is comparable to Romney’s former lead over the president after the Republican National Convention finished last week, Clark said.

“We don’t have another convention now to turn our attention to, so (Obama’s bounce) may maintain,” Clark said. “How big it’ll be and how long it will last remains to be seen.”

I am frankly surprised that the candidates aren’t closer this week, and in my opinion, as I explained the other day, the bounce will become slightly more pronounced next week, as this week’s averaged polls drop off polls from when Obama was in a comfortable lead.

From that point on, it is Obama’s election to lose. The difficulty for the Republicans is that the next major opportunity for them to draw blood is the debates, and these will almost certainly favour Obama, as, regardless of one’s political bias, he is clearly a stronger candidate than Romney – more charismatic, more likeable, and despite the mixed scorecard for the first term of his Presidency, appearing more capable. This is born out when one analyses the poll’s investigation of specific qualities of the two candidates.

Obama increased his lead over Romney in certain favorable characteristics. Asked who was more “eloquent,” 50 percent of the 1,720 registered voters questioned in the poll favored Obama, compared to 25 percent for Romney. Asked about being “smart enough for the job,” 46 percent sided with Obama compared to 37 percent for Romney.

In fact, Obama led Romney in a dozen such favorable characteristics, such as “represents America” or “has the right values.”

The only such category in which Romney had an advantage was being “a man of faith,” as 44 percent picked Romney, who is Mormon, compared to 31 percent for Obama, who is Christian, but who is dogged by rumours spread by his opponents, completely unfounded, that he secretly a Muslim.

The Democratic National Convention itself received a rather muted response in the poll. Of those registered voters who had heard, seen or read at least something about it, 41 percent rated it as “average” and 29 percent as “good.”

The Republican National Convention that wrapped up August 30 in Tampa, Florida similarly was rated slightly worse: “average” by 38 percent and “good” by 27 percent in Saturday’s polling results. Although these two results seem “nip and tuck”, this is actually further evidence of a setback for the republicans, who needed to attract a couple of percentage points from the very small group of “undecideds” in order to be competitive.

This election is close, but barring a disaster, should be won by Obama with a reasonable margin. As Harold Wilson said, however, “a week is a long time in politics”. That makes nearly two months a veritable aeon, in a world where the effect of banana skins are amplified tenfold by the voracity of the media.

In any two horse race, either can win, because one can falter or fall. But as we speak, Obama looks like he is a few furlongs from home with a handy lead.

Material sourced from Reuters. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

UPDATE 17 SEPTEMBER 2012 10.50PM AEST

As predicted – almost to the day – by this column, Obama’s bounce has solidified in key battleground states this week. Here is the data:

As the Monitor’s Liz Marlantes reported last Friday, Obama’s post-convention bounce apparently endures, most significantly in key battleground states.

According to a new set of NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls, Obama is now leading Romney by 7 points in Ohio and 5 points in Florida and Virginia, and the RealClearPolitics polling average right now has Obama up by 4.2 percentage points in Ohio, 1.3 points in Florida, and 0.4 points in Virginia.

(Note, if Romney does not win Florida then he needs a clean sweep of all the other battleground states to beat Obama – highly unlikely.)

A Philadelphia Inquirer poll released Saturday has Obama leading Romney in Pennsylvania, 50 percent to 39 percent, reports Politico.

“Pennsylvania Democrats are more consolidated behind Obama, with 77 percent in favor of Obama and 13 percent in favor of Romney, while Republicans are 18 percent in favor of Obama and 71 percent in favor of Romney,” according to the poll press release.

“Following the conventions, Obama’s favorability rating has increased by 3 points, while his unfavorable rating has decreased by 6 points. Opinions of Romney have improved slightly following the conventions, but he still has a net negative personal popularity rating among voters in state, with 46 percent favorable/48 percent unfavorable rating.”

Politico also reports on an internal Republican poll that has Romney behind by 4 points in Ohio, not as bad as his 7-point deficit in the NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls but behind in the key battleground state nonetheless.

“The numbers underline Romney’s longstanding problems in Ohio, where he’s taken a beating from Obama’s campaign and liberal groups,” writes Politico’s Jonathan Martin.

“But it’s actually a sign of the depth of Romney’s hole in the state that the results were greeted favorably by Republicans. Polling in Ohio before the conventions last month showed Romney with an even larger deficit, closer to double-digits.”

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters has Obama widening his advantage to 7 points, a gap that’s been increasing since the Democratic convention. “What that really means is that Obama is in good shape,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

“Thursday’s online poll also found far more registered voters preferred the incumbent’s policies and approach on taxes (41 percent picked Obama, 30 percent Romney), healthcare (44 percent Obama, 28 percent Romney) and Social Security (39 percent Obama, 27 percent Romney),” Reuters reported.

Obama appears to be winning in foreign affairs, too. “Asked which of the candidates had a better plan, policy or approach to the war on terrorism, more registered voters again favored Obama: 39 percent to Romney’s 25 percent.” (Note that the poll was taken two days after the attack on the US consulate in Libya.)

One sleeper poll that may have particular importance given the tension between the US and Israel over drawing a “red line” regarding Iran’s nuclear facilities: Obama has extended his lead among registered Jewish voters to 70-25 percent, according to unreleased Gallup daily tracking poll data reported by BuzzFeed.

“The data, obtained through a Democratic source, shows Obama up from leading 64-29 in polling this spring – and on par with his 2008 performance at this point when he led 69-25 over John McCain in Gallup polling,” reports BuzzFeed.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

President Barack Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the really interesting things about this US election is that the Democrat convention follows directly on the back of the Republican one, which is unusual in modern times.

That’s because the standing bounce – or increase – expected in a party’s support after a party convention is about 5%.

And in order to be competitive in November, Romney really needs that bounce. Whilst there has been some small movement towards the GOP in recent weeks (which frankly is more reflective of a generalised disinterest in either candidate or party), he is a man badly in need of the “Big Mo”.

To win, he has to look like a winner, or at very least, a real contender.

Why? Simply because it’s a well known fact that, in America as elsewhere, people like to vote on the winning side. Enough people want to be part of the winning tribe that they can tip a close election decisively one way or the other.

That’s why pro-GOP outlets like Fox News constantly talk up Romney’s chances. They need to convince people he has them. Sadly for them and the GOP, they are largely singing to their own choir.

Shoring up votes you already have may feel good, but ultimately it’s largely pointless. What matters is what the relatively few (certainly less than 10%, nearer 4-6%) of uncommitted or undecided voters think.

That’s why the convention bounce is important, especially as the GOP are already predicting that Obama will wipe the floor with Romney in the debates – so that when he does, as is likely, the negative impact of their candidate looking wooden and uninformed is lessened.

Republican convention audience

Not exactly a critical audience, really. White, middle class, committed. Talking to the whole country is more tricky.

A convention gives a candidate a chance to present his case unchallenged by any embarrassing contradiction. So if you can’t get a bounce from the TV viewing audience when everyone in the hall is supposed to love you to bits before you even say “Hello”, you’re in real trouble.

The proximity of the Democrat convention in the key swing state of North Carolina, coming right on the heels of the Republican gabfest, and wielding their biggest vote catcher – which is Obama’s ability as a public orator, and his essential likeability – may well blunt Romney’s much-needed boost in support. The water-cooler attention will swing more rapidly than usually to the Presidential incumbent, reducing the required froth and bubble chatter about the GOP. And in modern politics, invisibility is death.

It also doesn’t help that the most talked about event at the Republican convention became a tired old actor chatting to an empty chair.

It’s not that Romney is unpopular with his own Republican supporters – which he he is – they think he’s not conservative enough, not radical right enough, not Christian enough, not middle class enough, not exciting enough – but that doesn’t really matter because Republicans have reluctantly decided to back him as their best and only hope after an execrable, dragged out selection process. They will hold their nose and vote for him because they detest Obama.

What matters is that without a swing to him of about 5% coming essentially from the political centre then Romney will never get to where he needs to be in key swing states like Ohio, NC, and elsewhere.

It has become popular amongst the chattering commentariat to average opinion polls over a period of time to arrive at a rolling view of where the electorate is at.

This can be helpful in portraying trends, but is less useful as a snapshot, as voter opinion can change rapidly.

Wellthisiswhatithink has been noticing a small move towards the Republicans as Romney’s name recognition and prime time coverage has grown, and as people focus a little more on the imminence of the poll. And as rolling “averaging” polls drop off individual polls taken approximately a month ago (when Obama had just enjoyed a small bump upwards) – and as there must be some sort of bounce during the Republican convention itself last week – then I expect to see a small increase in the GOP’s position in rolling polls released over the next few days.

Two rolling polls released today show the candidates essentially neck and neck, certainly within the margin of error, one going for Romney by three points, one for Obama by a point. I expect to see more of those coming out towards the end of this week and showing Romney with a small lead, and the GOP will frantically do all they can to solidify that impression as a counter to the coverage of the DNC.

However, bounces can be illusory.

There’s a special sort of bounce. It’s usually applied to expectations of economic recovery that look overly optimistic. It’s also applied to political hopefuls.

Falling cat

“I don’t have a good feeling about this. How many lives was that again?”

It’s called a “dead cat bounce”. That’s the extent to which a cat, thrown off a roof, will bounce on hitting the ground head first.

The answer is, of course, even under the most propitious circumstances, not much.

That’s what I expect for Mitt Romney from the GOP convention. A dead cat bounce. The polls we should really keep our eyes on are the polls, especially the rolling polls, released about 7-14 days from today, say anytime from around 14th September onwards. In a world where the electorate has the attention span of a gnat, these will then factor in not only Obama’s expected professional performance in Charlotte – and, critically, Bill Clinton’s performance, still by some distance the most popular politician in America – but also the general froth and bubble that will swell up and about the DNC, which, unlike the RNC, will probably have little hard political news distracting from it.

I expect Obama to move into the lead – consistently – by mid-September, and I expect him to stay there. I expect him to win the election, more narrowly than he did against McCain, but win it nevertheless.

You heard it here first.

(Incidentally, Dear Reader, in researching this article, your humble scribe spent three hours watching Fox News Channel to be sure he had a suitable amount of GOP content in his head so that the article would be balanced and fair. Greater love hath no man.)

Debated an invisible President. And lost.

Comments welcome too.

The sort of nonsense that now passes for politics in America – the polarisation of civil debate in the USA is getting really quite frightening.

I reproduce this article from PoliticsUSA almost without further comment, (I can’t resist one aside further down) except to ask one simple question.

When you see the efforts to secure a conviction against Bradley Manning, and the extradition of Julian Assange, how come the Government in the States never does anything about these idiots? And how come Romney and the GOP leadership don’t condemn it?

But this is my main confusion. How is this not Treason?

The author of the Declaration of Independence is often quoted by opposing groups to support their own agenda, but there are few who accurately apply some of his oft-repeated statements. During the healthcare reform debate, angry teabaggers cited Jefferson’s line that “a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing,” as proof that revolution against government tyranny was advocated by a Founding Father as an option in 2009, and that sentiment has not diminished three years later heading into a general election.

The groups claiming President Obama is a tyrannical leader have never given one example of tyranny, but they, with the GOP’s assistance, have whipped themselves into frenzy and openly called for armed insurrection against the United States government.  One may be inclined to excuse talk of rebellion as angry rhetoric from a fringe element in the tea party, but a Virginia Republican Committee newsletter* has called for armed revolution if President Obama is re-elected in November.

Thomas Jefferson

Dear old ThomJeff must be turning in his grave.

First, it is important to put Jefferson’s statement that “a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing” in its proper context.  Jefferson was showing support for the French who were rebelling against the wealthy elite and church that was keeping the population poor and hungry. In fact, Jefferson hated the wealthy and their banks, and in the same letter to Edward Carrington wrote that “man is the only animal which devours his own kind, and I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”

 In the Virginia Republican Committee newsletter*, there is nothing to imply that protecting Americans from the “prey of the rich on the poor” is the reason for calling for armed rebellion. According to the newsletter*, President Obama, is a “political socialist ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed or recognized,” and that the only option is “armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November:” If one is confused as to what Republicans consider is a “political socialist ideologue,”  the newsletter claims President Obama “shuns biblical praise, handicaps economic ability, disrespects the honor of earned military might,” and that under Obama, “the government is out of control, and this opportunity, must not be forsaken for we shall not have any coarse (sic) but armed revolution.

Republicans calling for armed insurrection against the government is nothing new, and few are apt to forget congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) sayingI want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back,” and went on to specifically cite Jefferson’s quote from 1787.  Bachmann continued that, “we the people are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country,” and encouraged Americans “to do everything we can to thwart the Democrats at every turn,” and apparently that included armed rebellion.

Another Republican, Sharon Angle, said in a radio interview that it may come to the point that the public would bring down an out-of-control Congress with “Second Amendment remedies.” Angle repeated her warning when she called for “Second Amendment remedies” to deal with the “ever-growing tyrannical U.S. government,” and to replace her election opponent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Conservative entertainers have spent no small amount of energy demonizing President Obama over the past three years and although their rants may be just publicity stunts, all it takes are a few crazy people with guns to take their tirades to heart and begin shooting. On Friday, country musician Hank Williams Jr. waited until the end of his show to impugn the President for being “a Muslim who hates farming, hates the military, hates the U.S. and we hate him!” Williams incited the audience to cheer his invective not unlike washed-up rocker Ted Nugent who earned a visit from the Secret Service earlier this year for saying, “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year” insinuating he will take matters into his own hands with gun play if the President wins re-election. At a 2008 concert, Nugent said while holding a gun in each hand, “Hey, Obama, you might wanna suck on one of these, you punk” and extended the threat to now-Secretary of State Clinton saying,  ”Hillary, you might wanna ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch.”

Throughout all of the violent rhetoric, there has not been any condemnation by leading Republicans, and after the Virginia Republican Committee newsletter, it is easy to see why. Apparently, they are serious about armed rebellion against the United States government with an African American man as President.

In fact, leading Republicans have been complicit in stirring up resentment against President Obama by accusing him of promoting “European-style socialism” and not being an American. Willard Romney and his campaign have used the “not an American” meme to portray the President as “not one of us” and “foreign to American principles.

All of the threats of armed revolution have as their basis one simple fact; the President is not a white man.

Republicans cannot condemn the President’s record of saving the economy, or creating over 4-million jobs despite Republican’s obstruction, or accuse him of being weak on defense, so they portray him as a foreigner who supplanted a “white man” who should be in the White House.

(Romney’s recent deliberate comment that Obama doesn’t quite “get” the special relationship with Britain – because, of course, by implication, he’s a black man – falls into this category in the opinion of Wellthisiswhatithink.)

The truth is that it does not matter which white man should be president, it just cannot be an African American, and if voters elect President Obama to a second term, they are seriously considering an armed rebellion.

Every Republican who has failed to condemn talk of armed revolution is just as guilty as those calling for “second amendment remedies” or imploring their constituents to be “armed and dangerous.” It is likely that Republican leaders are not serious about a civil war or revolution, but their approval is evident in their silence.

The Virginia Republican Committee newsletter* was published in March, and the media or Republican leadership have been silent, and regardless if they support the overthrow of the government if the President wins a second term or not, they are guilty of inciting rebellion by allowing their candidates, spokespersons, and members of Congress to openly call for armed rebellion against the government of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson did, indeed, say that revolution is sometimes necessary, but only against wealthy bankers “who prey on the poor” and religious leaders who have the full support of every Republican in the United States.

If the people were intelligent enough to actually read why Jefferson said rebellion is necessary, they would rise up and send the GOP to the only place they would be secure; counting their dirty money in their offshore tax havens.

*CORRECTION

I thank a correspondent – see comments – who has pointed out that although this story is near the truth it is not entirely accurate. The implication in the original PoliticsUSA story is arguably that it was the Virginia State GOP Committee newsletter that made the remarks. But that is clearly fallacious. The correct story is apparently as follows below.

I do not believe, however, that the correction changes the essential thrust of my article, which is that the polarisation of American politics, and I would say from my observation that this is especially true on the right, although by no means limited to it, is reaching frightening levels. However the story clearly requires the following caveat:

Greene County, Va., Republicans denounced a comment in their newsletter promoting “armed revolution” if President Barack Obama is re-elected.

The Greene County Republican Committee newsletter for March featured an editorial written by Ponch McPhee calling the November election a challenge to “remove an ideologue unlike anything world history has ever witnessed.”

“We shall not have any coarse (sic) but armed revolution should we fail with the power of the vote in November,” McPhee wrote. “This Republic cannot survive for 4 more years underneath this political socialist ideologue.”

GCRC Chairman Gary E. Lowe says McPhee is no longer the editor of the newsletter, WJLA-TV, Washington, reported Thursday.

In a statement posted on the committee”s Web site, Lowe said the committee “denounces such language and does not subscribe to that thinking.” He said McPhee”s editorial had been written “before a change in the Greene County Republican Committee leadership.”

Lowe noted the newsletter carried a disclaimer that its content “does not reflect the opinion of the Republican Party whole or in part, all contents offered are individual” and said the editorial comment is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“While we believe this election is critical to the direction of the future of this great nation, we do not believe that if the results end up with the re-election of Barack Obama, that will necessitate what the author suggests,” Lowe wrote.