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Have you heard that someone’s dreams could be another’s reality — Collective Soul

Posts Tagged ‘obama’

Sanity prevails in the USA

Months and years of campaigning, more than$2.2 billion in election spending, over 100 million votes cast… and Americans in their wisdom decided to essentially maintain the status quo. President Obama returns to the White House for a second mandate. The Senate stays blue; the House stays red. But lest anyone was thinking that this whole thing was a giant waste of time, remember that it beats the hell out of the alternative.

I was on a plane for most of the evening, and while I was able to watch the results come in on satellite TV (thanks, WestJet!), I didn’t have internet access so no liveblogging of results. It was like a throwback to the pre-Web 2.0 years when you actually had to rely on traditional media sources for information. Well, unless you’re Barack Obama, author of the Tweet heard around the world.

The big vote

The race was close all night, but the nail-biter didn’t materialize. While both candidates were neck-and-neck in the popular vote for much of the evening, most of the highly contested swing states went one by one to Obama: New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia were called one by one for Team Obama. You could see the wind go out of the sails in the Romney camp as each one was declared, but Ohio finally solidified things shortly after 11pm ET. At that point, it was all over but the fat lady, whose singing will be heard in Florida just as soon as all those folks standing in line have a chance to vote.

Latest US election results 2012, as of 2:30AM ET on Nov 7th. Source: CNN.

So what happened to give the Obama team such a wide margin of victory, despite a 7.9% unemployment rate and widespread anger and disillusionment with the status quo?

Read the rest of this entry »

4 more years

Obama tweets "4 more years"

Media bias exemplified

With less than 24 hours to go until voting day in the US, it’s a classic case study in media bias to see what the various big news outlets have as their posted headlines.

Here’s CNN, reporting a statistical tie in the popular vote but an edge to Obama in the electoral college:

Here’s Yahoo News‘s election blog, “The Signal”, calling a wide margin for Obama:

Obama still poised to win 303 electoral votes on Tuesday

Here’s blogger Ezra Klein in the Washington Post, also predicting victory for Obama, albeit with a smaller margin:

Obama will win with 290 electoral votes

And finally, good ol’ FOX News, home of the Truthiness:

"Big 'What If?': With just hours to go, electoral map still in play"

Here’s hoping that FOX is once again posting misleading wishful thinking in the place of fact. I guess we’ll see tomorrow.

For what it’s worth, I predict that Obama will win, though I think it will be close.

Bibi addresses US Congress

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to US Congress yesterday. Among other things, he spoke about Iran, Bin Laden, Obama’s ill-advised comments on the ’67 borders, and Israel’s desires for – and obstacles to – a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

The full speech is available to watch on video here.

Or, you can read the text of the speech here.

Two impressive Obama speeches

Barack Obama gave two very impressive speeches this weekend: one funny, and one deadly serious.

First, there was his speech at the annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner, where Obama held the floor like a seasoned comedian and managed to get his digs in at Donald Trump while he was at it:

Does he have the Colbert Report‘s writers on his speechwriting staff? Because that was one brilliant piece of satire.

Then, tonight, his address to the nation on the death of Osama Bin Laden struck all the right notes, inspiring some Canadians to comment on my Twitter feed that they wished they could vote for him tomorrow instead of one of our guys:

Say what you will about the man, but he certainly has the gift of oratory. Why can’t any of our politicians give speeches like that?

Bin Laden’s death may not mean much in the grand scheme of the so-called “war on terror” in practical terms. But cynically speaking, it’s likely to give Obama’s re-election chances a big boost.

Bin Laden is dead

Ten years later.

Dozens of terrorist attacks, including Istanbul, Madrid, London, and last week in Marrakech, later.

2,340 coalition casualties in Afghanistan, including 155 Canadians, later.

Thousands of Afghan civilian casualties – too many for any body or organization to properly count – later.

Osama bin Laden is dead, says the President. It’s been almost ten years since the September 11th attacks, and since the world’s largest manhunt was launched for the man responsible. In those ten years, the world has changed so much that it’s almost unrecognizable.

Ten years ago, bin Laden’s death might have actually struck a body blow at the terrorist infrastructure. Today, it will probably make little more than a dent. After all, they’ve had ten years to reorganize and restructure, to recruit and train. Ten years during which Osama was little more than a figurehead, and the network has decentralized. Ten years for other international terror groups to “step up” and grow up.

(Oh, and ten years for the US to invade Iraq, for there to be civil war – and now reconciliation – in the Palestinian territories, for governments to change hands in western nations and for massive rounds of civilian unrest and protest across the middle east. A lot can happen in ten years.)

At best, this announcement will give Obama a temporary bump in the polls as he kicks off his 2012 re-election campaign. At worst, it will make bin Laden into a martyr among his followers and trigger additional attacks. In all likelihood, it will make very little practical difference.

It does feel like the end of an era, in a way.

Midterm madness

Despite the best efforts of the likes of Stewart and Colbert to restore sanity and/or fear, the predictions of big gains for the Republican party in today’s US midterm elections are, sadly, pretty likely, with exit polls showing that the Democrats have lost ground with key groups of voters.

But before Obama panics too much, he might want to consult this list of Midterm study strategies, compiled by me back in the eighth grade:

  • Eliminate distractions. Minesweeper, SuperNES, listening to your mom fight with your sister down the hall, trying to mediate a mideast peace settlement… all these are distracting to the study process.
  • Prioritize the material. Midterm exam questions are usually about things that have been covered recently on the curriculum, and are therefore foremost in the minds of teachers – er – voters. Spend more time on recent issues like the tea party, and less time on the stuff that was covered at the start of the term and that everyone’s forgotten about by now anyway, like, y’know, healthcare.
  • Plan your time. Midterms take place in the middle of the term, as their name suggests. While you’re studying for them, you also have to juggle other assignments and a social life. Oh, and national security and economic concerns, too. Make a schedule and stick to it. Use whatever tools work for you, like an agenda book or, if you prefer, a highly-paid team of executive secretaries.
  • Find the right study buddies. Pick people who are smarter than you and copy their notes, or arrange a cram session with them in the library. If you can get them to write your speeches for you, too, all the better.
  • Remember that it’s not worth as much as the final. Even a bad grade on a midterm can be made up for with a strong final exam, which is usually worth a bigger percentage of your overall grade. Time to put it behind you and focus on what’s important: Beating Sarah Palin in 2012.

For actual news about the US midterm election, in case anyone’s interested, check out the CBC’s interactive maps.

Obama’s education policy

Barack Obama called for longer school years and getting rid of poorly performing teachers, in a speech about education that had me wondering where I’d heard that before.

Oh yeah. Here.

Let’s compare the two. Here’s Obama:

“That month makes a difference,” the president said. “It means that kids are losing a lot of what they learn during the school year during the summer. It’s especially severe for poorer kids who may not see as many books in the house during the summers, aren’t getting as many educational opportunities.”

[ . . . ]

“We have got to identify teachers who are doing well. Teachers who are not doing well, we have got to give them the support and the training to do well. And if some teachers aren’t doing a good job, they’ve got to go,” Obama said.

And here’s his fictional model, Congressman Matthew Santos, played by Jimmy Smits on the West Wing, circa 2005:

“America is 49th in the world in literacy. That’s down 18 spots in the last four years. Why? Well, for starters, the 180-day school year, that’s based on the agrarian calendar. But we’re in a global economy now. Japan’s at 243 days; Germany’s at 240. ”

[ . . . ]

“… which is why we need to end teacher tenure and get rid of failing teachers.”

Life imitating art? In the case of Santos/Obama, it’s certainly not the first time.

Obama is not Muslim

But according to a new poll, one in five Americans think that he is:

Americans increasingly are convinced — incorrectly — that President Barack Obama is a Muslim, and a growing number are thoroughly confused about his religion. Nearly one in five people, or 18 per cent, said they think Obama is Muslim, up from the 11 per cent who said so in March 2009, according to a poll released Thursday. The proportion who correctly say he is a Christian is down to just 34 per cent.

Some of this could be considered backlash for Obama’s apparent cardinal sin in promoting the principle of freedom of religion with respect to the plans to build a mosque in downtown NYC, near the World Trade Center site. Because everyone knows that the US is a Christian theocracy, and the Constitution be damned. And of course, freedom of religion simply means freedom to practice the “right” religion.

But between the conspiracy theorists who don’t believe Obama is American, the racists who question whether he’s black, white or purple, and now the growing segment of Americans who want to make an issue of his religion, you have to wonder where the percentage of Americans are who would honestly say that they do not care.

Why should Americans be so afraid of electing a non-Christian anyway?

It’s an obvious fallout of a culture that emphasizes that the personal is political, and that not only tolerates but expects its leaders to put personal religious conviction ahead of public interest when making decisions. The arguments haven’t changed much since Kennedy – a Catholic (gasp!) was elected in 1960. Separation of Church and State? Hogwash. They want a leader who is seen going to church and quoting the bible in speeches. Which is why any hint, suggestion or misconception about Obama is such a big story.

Us Canadians, in contrast, have a stronger tradition of making the distinction between the personal and the political. Jean Chrétien was a Catholic prime minister who refused to bow to religious pressure when passing legislation for same-sex marriage, for example. We expect our politicians to have personal lives that are just that – personal.

Barack Obama is Christian, not Muslim. But it would be nice to think that maybe one day, Americans would be happy to elect a Muslim president. Or a Jewish one. Or a Buddhist one. Or – imagine – an atheist one. Oh, the horror!

Facebook blocked in Vietnam?

Is Vietnam the latest country to block access to Facebook?

Since last week, it seems that way. Even though the Vietnamese government is issuing denials.

Some Vietnamese Facebook users launched a Facebook group in protest of the blockage, but as of right now it appears to only have a handful of members. Hmmm, wonder why that could be?

Of course, as Barack Obama found out last week after giving a speech in China about internet freedom, protests against censorship have an above-average risk of, well, being censored.

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