[Dawn] DESPITE the bitterness of the conflict that has raged in Syria for the last 19 months many of us had entertained the hope that the warring parties would honour UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi's painfully negotiated ceasefire. After all, it was to cover only the four-day Eidul Azha holiday.
It did not appear to be designed to offer either side an unfair opportunity to regroup or to replenish supplies. All it could do was give the beleaguered Syrian people a respite from the unremitting shelling, bombing and IEDs causing an average of 150 casualties per day. It had the backing of Turkey and Iran, the two regional states that were the principal source of support for the hard boyz and the government respectively.
These hopes were belied. The government claimed that they broke the ceasefire agreement only after their forces were attacked or after hard boyz planted IEDs.
The first major incident was the kaboom of a car boom in a residential area of Damascus ...Capital of the last remaining Baathist regime in the world... in which, according to Syrian official media, the casualty count was 15 dead civilians, including eight children, and 92 maimed, among them 65 children.
Somewhat belatedly, thug forces claimed that this was engineered by the government. But the government's riposte, if that is what it was, seemed totally out of place. The heaviest air raids of the conflict were carried out in this four-day period according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is generally credited with having good sources within Syria and claims to be an impartial observer of the carnage.
UN Secretary General the ephemeral Ban Ki-moon ... of whom it can be said to his credit that he is not Kofi Annan... expressed deep disappointment that the ceasefire had not held while Lakhdar Brahimi, in Moscow for talks with the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, said that "the Syrian crisis is very, very dangerous; the situation is bad and getting worse". The Russian foreign minister expressed his disappointment but also reiterated the Russian view that the western nations should negotiate a political settlement with the Assad regime.
In which a Pak presumes to criticize Americcans' choices for president...
[Dawn] IF you have nails, prepare to bite them now. If you are concerned, that is, by the outcome of the presidential contest in the United States. Or worried about the consequences of Hurricane Sandy, which was bearing down on the US East Coast as these words were being written.
A week from today, the damage wrought by Sandy will be manifest. So will the election result -- unless there is a repeat of the 2000 scenario, when the loser eventually won, thanks to the Supreme Court.
A week out from election day, most opinion polls give Willard Mitt Romney ...former governor of Massachussetts, currently the Publican nominee for president. He is the son of the former governor of Michigan, George Romney, who himself ran for president after saving American Motors from failure, though not permanently. Romney has a record as a successful businessman, heading Bain Capital, and he rescued the 2002 Winter Olympics from the midst of bribery and mismanagement scandals. More to the point, he isn't President B.O... the edge, albeit narrow enough to be within the margin of error. It was the other way around until a month or so ago, before President B.O. sleepwalked through his first televised debate with his opponent. The impression he gave was of someone who really couldn't be bothered with four more years, although the tactic was presumably intended to convey an impression of effortless superiority.
If so, it backfired disastrously, and the incumbent's supremacy in the two subsequent debates did not quite succeed in restoring his lead.
Of course, Obama may not have had to rely to such an extent on performing well on TV had his performance as president been largely above reproach. In several respects, it hasn't come close.
The problem for him is not so much the mindless fanatics who question his eligibility on the basis of his birthplace or, laughably, demonise him as a Marxist. It is those who, back in 2008, expected his presidency to be transformational. Inevitably, that concept meant different things to different people. That most of them cannot muster the enthusiasm they exuded four years ago speaks for itself.
Sure, some of the disappointment can be attributed to the unreasonable expectations raised by the vague promises of hope and change. Following the supremely idiotic and uncommonly disastrous presidency of George W. Bush on both the domestic and international fronts (with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina probably resonating more than the Iraqi catastrophe), any hope of change struck a popular chord.
And although the McCain-Palin ticket sought to steer clear of close association with the eight years of Bush, it wasn't an easy task, especially given that Sarah Mama Grizzly Palin ... the babe libs love to hate ... , whenever she opened her mouth, was able to trump Bush in the idiocy stakes.
To a certain extent, Romney has gone the same way as John Maverick McCain ... the Senator-for-Life from Arizona, former presidential candidate and even more former foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution... in picking an out-there, rabidly rightwing running mate. That's largely because many diehard conservatives weren't convinced of his sincerity. After all, even by American standards, Romney has been a remarkably malleable politician, willing to change colours as eagerly as a chameleon to suit the popular mood. Which leaves plenty of room for doubt about his preferences if he's elevated to a post he has long aspired to.
A colleague in his venture capitalism firm Bain Capital quotes him as having said in 1994, when he unsuccessfully challenged Ted Kennedy for a Senate seat from Massachusetts, "Dad says first you go into business and make a lot of money, you give the church half of it, and then you go into public service. And then you become president of the United States."
The church in question, mind you, is the particularly cultish one devoted to Latter-Day Saints such as the founding hucksters Joseph P. Smith and Brigham Young, and Romney in his youth was a dedicated Mormon evangelist.
That dream might come true next week, and Goldman Sachs ...Malefactors of Great Wealth, the second most generous contributor to the 2008 Obama campaign, with a total of $1,013,091... , for one, has put all its eggs in that particular basket, in the hope that Romney will be even more gracious to Wall Street than Obama, who at least tried to introduce token constraints on the money men.
The Republican contender has also given notice of a $5tr tax cut -- which would mostly benefit the rich -- and intends to repeal Obama's modest healthcare reform, which falls well short of the universal healthcare coverage that is the norm in most developed states, but is nonetheless an improvement on the status quo, wherein private health insurers have no qualms about fleecing the vulnerable, and those without coverage can be effectively condemned to death.
Those Americans who vociferously oppose 'big government' evidently have no fear of being managed instead by huge corporations whose primary goal is monumental profits. Is there any country where false consciousness is more rife than in the US? Well, I guess Pakistain is a contender -- as the only country out of 21 polled by the BBC where respondents favour Romney. Whereas scepticism about the drone-prone Obama is understandable, enthusiasm for the available alternative can only be rooted in ignorance (of which there is plenty in the US, too). Romney, after all, has no issue with the Predator terrorism indulged in by his nation, and would in fact funnel more resources into the Pentagon (instead of healthcare and education, where he's happy to see the private sector take its toll), and he's marginally more hawkish on Iran, Syria and Paleostine.
Domestically, Obama has been anything but a civil rights president, retaining some of the worst innovations of the Bush presidency. His record on the international front is equally dismal. But yes, it could be worse -- just as the unemployment level in the US and the broader state of the economy could have been considerably more deleterious but for his stimulus package.
The differences between Obama and Romney are no doubt exaggerated but, on balance, choosing the latter over the former would be a fairly dumb -- and potentially disastrous -- way to go. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean the marginally better man will triumph next week.
The problem for him is not so much the citizens mindless fanatics who question his eligibility on the basis of his birthplace or, laughably, demonise or ask legitimate questions about his loyalties concerning him as a Marxist and Islam. FIFY
"The church in question, mind you, is the particularly cultish one devoted to Latter-Day Saints such as the founding hucksters Joseph P. Smith and Brigham Young, and Romney in his youth was a dedicated Mormon evangelist."
I tell you what, if that cultish religion that adores and kills for a pedophile polygamist prophet and walks in circles around a rock would behave anything like those LDS 'cultists' the world would be a whole lot better place. Ditto if the Catholics, atheists etc. would behave that way.
#3 The problem for him is not so much that the citizens mindless fanatics who laughably, demonise ask legitimate questions about his loyalties concerning him as related to a Marxist Marxism and Islam, it is his failure as a leader. Further edited.
They can and will bash Romney and they will try to give Obama credit for the recovery. But if Romney does start a recovery folks will see it and believe their lying eyes at least all but the super brain washed.
One week from today, the Boston Herald's front page will either read "Champ Pulls Out Victory" Or "Willard Wins." (Actually, given that this is the Herald the headline will be something clever like, "He's Barack In Charge!" or "Sweet Mitt-ory!")
I predict the latter. One week from today, Mitt wins.
I'll even go a step farther. I'll ask the question poll watchers across America are thinking but afraid to ask: Is this election over?
Everything said here about pushing through the end is doubly true for the down ticket races. Getting Mitt over the finish line won't be nearly as much fun as taking back the Senate, padding the House majority with real conservatives and landing 33 governorships.
But to make that happen everyone needs to give a maximum effort, even in places where the presidential election is not competitive.
We need to win as big as possible. O is not going to take losing lightly. He and his minions are likely to contest anything he can construe as close. He will blame any loss of votes on Sandy inhibiting early voter opportunities creating a lack of fairness or any other ridiculous excuse he can think of. And that's just immediately after the election. If O loses we'll probably still need a crowbar to get him and his significant other out of the WH in January. All those exec orders that sound like martial law scare me.
We're set to hit the debt ceiing again at the end of Dec., during the lame duck session. Failure to raise it (by passing both houses of Congress and signed by the pres) will result in default and global finanical meltdown. I wonder if Ogabe, having lost the election, would see any reason not to punish America for rejecting him.