Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bad time for a War

This shocking footage was released by the IDF today. It is footage of the assassination of Ahmed Jabri, the head of Hamas' military wing who was killed in yesterdays attack. The situation may now lead to a full scale war between the IDF and Hamas controlled Gaza similar to that which we saw in 2008. I am not surprised that Israel has assassinated this man. But I am surprised at the timing. The Middle East is a very different place today than 2008. Egypt since the fall of Hosni Mubarak has been controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. This completely changes the game. If this war does escalate into a violent confrontation in which hundreds of Palestinians are killed it may be the trigger that finally pushes Egypt firmly into the extremist camp in which case the 1979 pace agreement between the two nations will come to an end. In addition the situation in Syria is deteriorating to the extent that the Syrian army and the IDF actually exchanged fire last week. Syrian President Bashar Al Assad has been hanging on by his fingernails over the last year. A war between Israel and Palestine might be the only thing that could save him. And in the north Hezbollah is still capable of launching a large scale attack just as it did in 2006. The prospect of Israel facing a three front war in the near future appears to me to be a very real possibility. As for the war itself I believe as I always have that Israel is entitled to defend itself, aggressively if necessary. But I hope it doesn't come to that both for the innocent Palestinians who will die and for the Israelis who as I explained above are in a precarious position. Lets hope things calm down over the next few days.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Remembering the Poppy

I spent much of remembrance Sunday watching the many poignant ceremonies in Britain and elsewhere that commemorate the staggeringly high loss of life suffered by British and commonwealth forces during the the two world wars. During this time of year the commemorations, and the symbol of the poppy itself always sparks a debate in Ireland about why we do so little to participate in remembrance activities despite the fact that 35,000 Irishmen were killed during the First World War. I have blogged here in the past on why I believe we should participate more actively in these ceremonies and personally I was delighted to see the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore travel north last Sunday to represent the Republic. The Tanaiste went to Belfast where as the Taoiseach was in Enniskillen to mark not just remembrance day but the 25th anniversary of the outrageous IRA bomb that killed 11 people in that town. So these are my views on the poppy and on remembrance Sunday.

The Taoiseach lays a wreath in Enniskillen on Remembrance Sunday

However I do want to add the following. I am not in agreement with some people who are highly critical of the Irish state and its cold history toward commemorations. There are some on the revisionist side who I believe use the poppy issue, or lack of, to unfairly demonise the Irish state. They do this by portraying a picture of persecution of those who did not and do not share the nationalist ethos of the Irish state. Revisionists such as kevin Myers would have us believe that the thousands of Irish that returned from the western front after WW1 were harassed and persecuted by the new nationalist majority on the grounds that they may be loyal to the crown. In my view this is one aspect of a sinister campaign by certain individuals who have been intent, particularly since the EU/IMF bailout of 2010, on deligitimising the Irish State. For them, Irish independence was a disaster and the brutal recessions is vindication of this. And part of their narrative is that the Irish state since its birth has been a sectarian entity that punished those loyal to the former administration. Myers and his followers are perfectly comfortable illustrating the history of Irish Independence as being like that of the angry natives keen to exact revenge on their oppressors similar to the ANC in South Africa. This is of course completely untrue and the commemoration issue demonstrates this. All that happened in 1922 was that Southern Ireland changed jurisdiction from British to Irish rule. It was natural that people who had served in the army of a different nation would not subsequently be in a position to participate in public or state commemorations under the new administration. This would be true anywhere but particularly in a situation where there was enmity between the two countries. This is why it is sad. It is very sad. But it is not an example of persecution or oppression. The same happened all over Europe after WW1. Millions, literally millions of soldiers from the European continent found themselves living in different jurisdictions than the ones they had fought under during the war due to the collapse of the Russian, Turkish and Austro Hungarian empires. As I made clear in my first paragraph, and as I think regular readers of Gubu World will be aware, I greatly honour all those who fought and died in the British Armed forces during the world wars. I personally have worn a poppy and will wear one in the future. I hope to see more widespread commemorations in Ireland in the coming years. I think they are long overdue. But I do reject the notion that persecution or bigotry, historically lie at the heart of Ireland's failure to enthusiastically commemorate our war dead.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The American President

The reelection of Barack Obama last week surprised me. I never believed that the polls were accurate as far back as the summer. I was wrong. The polls were deadly accurate. My belief that the American people would turn on the President because of the economy was incorrect. The first thing I want to say to my more conservative readers is that they need to relax. Barack Obama will not destroy America. As long as he confronts the debt crisis, which if we take him at his word is a priority, and even if it's not the Republican controlled House will force him to, then the American economy will likely be much stronger in four years time. After the brutal recession of 2008 the US economy is on a natural upward trajectory. Secondly, in terms of Foreign Policy I want to say that the reason Obama was always ahead in FP polls was because the Republican Party were, and most conservatives still are all over the place when it comes to the most monumental world event of the last four years, which is the Arab Spring. Nobody saw the unrest in the Arab World coming but Barack Obama was in the Oval Office when it happened and it was he who had to confront it. This he did in a calm and competent manner. I think the electorate recognised this and largely saw the Benghazi controversy as an attempt to take down the President. Finally I just want to say that the reelection of Barack Obama is significant for the following reason. He is now a two termer. I can't help thinking of that episode of The Simpsons when during Mr Burns' birthday party former Presidents Nixon and Reagan enter the party with presents but Presidents Carter and Bush Senior are refused entry by the bouncer on the grounds that "no one termers" are allowed in. This will never happen to Obama. 2008 was not a fluke. We must face the fact that he is now a giant of American history and the right need to stop demonising him. It is beginning to look petulant. America, the second greatest country on earth (after Ireland) will thrive and survive. Of this there should be no doubt.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Says it all really !

President Obama has been reelected. The polls were remarkably accurate. And that tells us that Romney was winning last week but the storm may have turned it for Obama. More to come later today. And a big thank you to the DOUCHE BAGS at the Sugar Club in Dublin who promised us wifi at the Levianthan political cabaret last night. My plans to live blog until 6am were dashed. Instead I was forced to drink all night and get in arguments with minor celebrities.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Photo of the Day

A beautiful image of the sky line over Cork City Center

The Swing Voter

I am the typical swing voter. If I was American and if I had a vote I believe I would be categorised as a conservative Democrat or a moderate Republican. I can go either way. So, given that this election will be decided by the swing voter in Ohio, Florida and Virginia I thought it would be appropriate for me to lay it out in the clearest possible way what exactly is in my head one day before the Presidential election.

Reasons to vote for Obama
President Obama seems likable and honest. He is good for Americas image. He appears calm and in control during a crisis as we have seen with Sandy and in Egypt and Libya. On international affairs he has been aggressive on the war on terror whilst leaving a small military footprint. On the economy Obama has done several things which can reasonably be argued have helped the situation. His critics constantly point out that this is the slowest economic recovery since the great depression which seems to me to be a strange point to make since we are living through the greatest recession since the great depression. Obama regularly points out that America is doing its best when everybody gets a shot referring to the 1944 GI Bill which helped drag millions into the middle class and contributed significantly to the greatest economic boom in history. This resonates with people and has some logic. It is clear to me that many Americans do see Obama as an FDR of sorts who does not want poorer Americans to bear the brunt of a brutal recession that was caused by less than 1000 people at the top. This is appealing. If you are not economically idealistic then the Obama claim that the stimulus circulated enough money to prevent a recession becoming a depression strikes a cord. The downward unemployment trajectory backs this up. Obama believes correctly in my view that the financial sector should be regulated, many Americans agree. For all the talk about health care reform over the decades President Obama is the only President to actually pass a bill which in theory makes health care more affordable and results in 30 million Americans becoming insured. Finally, the sheer unmitigated hatred that many have for President Obama leaves a bad taste in my mouth and makes me want to see him reelected, just so I can tune into Sean Hannity the following day to watch him squirm. I accept this is not very logical, but it is how I feel and lets face it, many people will vote based on their perceptions and feelings.

Reasons to vote against Obama
There is a strong perception backed up by evidence that Barack Obama is hostile toward the private sector. That he believes that the main engine of the economy should be the public sector. In such a scenario one can only envision a second Obama term with more government "investment" in industries that will be costly, inefficient and act as a drag on economic recovery. American debt now stands at 16$ trillion. One thing I have learned over the years is that some things that you think could never happen actually can happen. The 9/11 attacks and the global financial crisis thought be that. I fear that if Obama spends in his second term in any way similarly to how he did in his first then one day America could wake up and find itself with so much debt that it cannot pay its bills. I am not convinced that Obama takes this threat seriously. In addition I believe that in a time of great recession Obamas liberal agenda, some of which I agree with, should have taken a back seat to economic recovery. Obamas priorities have been wrong.

Reasons to vote for Romney.
I believe, as most Americans do that a robust private sector is what drives economic growth. Mitt Romney clearly believes this too. You cannot beat the knowledge and experience of a successful business man to turn deficit into surplus. A successful business man understands how to get rid of waste because he would not tolerate it in his own enterprises. I have also come to think of Romney as likable and think he has a pleasant manner. The Obama efforts to portray him as a cruel capitalist have not worked on me. His foreign policy is ideologically similar to Obamas and while I have no way of knowing what his judgement in a crisis would be like I have no reason to think it would be bad.

Reasons to vote against Romney.
There is a valid perception out there that the Mitt Meister is trying to please everybody. I was not impressed at his constant criticism of Obamas foreign policy only for him to virtually endorse it during the final Presidential debate. It makes me wonder if he wants to be President a little too badly, possibly to fulfill an ambition
that his father was unable to achieve. Furthermore I think his promise to roll back regulations on the financial sector is a mistake as is his position that he would repeal Obamacare. The former makes it look like he is in bed with wall street and the latter ignores the reality that affordable heath care is a massive problem. Perhaps he would have been better advised to argue that he would reform Obamacare. His wider economic programme also concerns many voters. His plan to close the gap in spending is not exactly foolproof. It seems to be to be based on economic growth forecasts. But if these fall short he will have to reevaluate his tax versus cuts ratio in a major way that will likely end up hitting the middle class hardest. He has not been forthcoming in this regard which has made many Americans feel very uneasy about him. He has given them reason.

Relax America, there are two decent competent guys running for President. You'll do ok whoever wins. However my prediction is as follows. I believe that that as the swing voters enter the polling booth they will ask themselves one crucial question, is the American economy more likely to come roaring back under a Romney Presidency or a second Obama term. I believe most will choose Romney and am therefore predicting that despite the polls giving Obama a slight edge I think that Governor Romney will take it by a nose.

Now lets have some fun at the expense of the undecided voter.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Vincent Browne's "cancer" remark

Most evenings I watch the Vincent Browne show on Ireland's TV3 Channel. I was not watching two weeks ago when during a discussion on the third Presidential debate Browne stated that "Israel was a Cancer in Foreign Affairs". Browne has claimed that he was not referring to Israel itself when he used the word cancer and that the true meaning of his statement was that Israel has a cancerous affect on US foreign policy because both political parties "bow" to Israel. For a short time I was willing to lay off Browne and take him at his word that the grumpy, but likable uncle figure had his words to some extent taken out of context. But on reflection it is clear to me that this is nonsense. I know what he meant. He knows what he meant and the viewers know what he meant.

The use of the word "cancer" was reckless, irresponsible and bigoted. A cancer is something that kills everything it infects. It has to be destroyed if everything around it is to survive. For Vincent Browne to give in to the narrative that dominates much of the Arab world is unforgivable. The narrative I speak of is the one which we see from Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and others. This narrative seems fit to blame literally every problem that exists in the Muslim world on Israel and Jews. It is a similar narrative to that used by the Nazis in the Third Reich. It is truly mind boggling that a prominent Irish TV personality would give credibility to this narrative. And that is what he has done. This story has already made the Israeli and Palestinian media and by making this statement Browne has reinforced the perception in Jerusalem that Ireland is vehemently anti Israel while simultaneously making it harder for Palestinian elements to moderate toward Israeli recognition. This is what I personally find unforgivable. Ireland is a country that has overcome a conflict that was once thought to be as equally intractable as that in the Middle East. We have overcome that conflict and instigated what is regarded by many as the worlds most successful peace process. One would hope that the Irish nation has learned from this and that our contribution to other world conflicts would only be positive. Not Vincent Browne however. In his mind our contribution should be no more sophisticated than "Israel is a cancer". It amazes me that he sees this as reasonable. "Israel is a cancer", not religious extremism, not Islamic fundamentalism or even authoritarian rule, to Vincent Browne the cancer is the democratic state of Israel.

Browne's response to date has been pathetic. He has fallen back on the old false grievance that "criticism of Israel is not anti Semitic", as if all he had done was merely criticise Israeli policy. He of course did much more than this by referring to the whole nation as a cancer. Can we imagine the reaction if someone had said the exact same words about Palestinians. Or if someone referred to blacks, Ireland, or members of the travelling community as a cancer, the latter being a cause which Vincent Browne himself has been vocal about. Vincent Browne has let himself down with these comments. As a political pundit who speaks to the Irish people for an hour every weeknight he is in fact quite a powerful man who has the ability to shape public opinion on many issues. On the issue of Israel he has not only fallen on the wrong side of it but has put himself in the same category as the bigots and anti Semites that relentlessly bash Israel out of all context and proportion and by doing so he has associated Ireland with these views. He has done the country a great disservice in this matter. My estimation of him has decreased significantly in the wake of this controversy. Below are the comments.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Photo of the Day

A nice image I took yesterday from Portrane in North Co Dublin, I believe that is Lambay Island in the distance.

Sorry for my abscence last week. It was unavoidable. Will be blogging overtime during the next week.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

There is no Benghazi Gate, Libya is an Obama strength

Tonight's Presidential debate is on foreign policy. By all accounts the most important issue to be discussed, in terms of how it will effect the election is the so called "Benghazi Gate". Now, readers of Gubu World will know that I have been relatively neutral in this election although I have leaned toward Romney somewhat because of the debt issue. However all I can do is call things as I see them. That is why I want to do a post on the so called Benghazi controversy and why I believe it is one of the most contrived political controversies I have ever come across. Before I go further I want to stress that the reasons I am about to cite are based entirely on my own observations and instincts. I have not copied or expanded them from any other source. So let me begin.

1. Ambassador Stevens was not killed by gunfire or in an explosion. The cause of death was smoke inhalation. When I heard this the morning after his death I assumed that the building had been attacked in a violent demonstration, that it caught fire and that the ambassador was trapped. When one hears of any crime that has been committed one tends to piece together in their head what the motives and methods were. Sometimes it is clear, other times it takes a few days. In my view the mere fact that the ambassador died from smoke inhalation sufficiently explains why it took a couple of days for the administration to be clear that it was in fact an organised terrorist attack. The fact that it coincided with simultaneous protests in several other Muslim countries further muddied the waters. I do not believe there was anything sinister it the disjointed response from the administration. I do think Romney's attempt to associate the apology that came from the US Embassy in Cairo as being an Obama apology that came after the ambassadors death was in bad taste.

2. The impression I got from Ambassador Stevens was that he was not a conventional diplomat. He sneaked into Libya during the revolution and was tasked with liaising with rebels and assisting in the post Gadaffi transition to democracy. He seemed to be a fairly hands on type a guy who wanted to move freely through out Libya. I can't prove this but I would guess that he did not want to travel around Libya in a massive motorcade, nor did he want the US embassy to look like a fortress. I suspect it was part of an image he wanted to portray of America as an ally of Libya. This is my explanation for why the consulate in Benghazi looked more like a holiday villa. Of course if he requested more security he should have got it but that cannot be seriously blamed on the President.

3. The narrative from the Romney campaign is that Obama constantly blamed the attack on a youtube video because in his heart he rejects the idea of unprovoked terrorism. He is sceptical of American power and believes the US on some level brings terrorism on itself, just as the classic leftist believes. I believe that this is a fantasy. Obama did not blame the attack on the youtube video. What he did say from day one was that the attackers used the video as an excuse. This is absolutely accurate. The Republicans are claiming that the attack was entirely unconnected to the movie controversy. This is not the case. While I don't for a second deny that the fanatic terrorists who murdered the four Americans were motivated by Al Queada style anti western hatred, and that they would have committed terrorism against the US anyway, they nevertheless clearly did choose to attack at the time of the controversy in the hope that it would inspire others to sympathise with them.

4. The most important point regarding Libya is as follows. In my view Obamas wider Libya policy has been a great success. It may in fact turn out to be a spectacular success if the democratic experiment in Libya permanently succeeds. All week I have been hearing how Benghazi is a major weakness for Obama. I suspect tonight he will try to illustrate it as a strength. American military action ended the 42 year rule of Col Gadaffi. Some Republicans who still haven't realised that there is no such thing as a stable mad man, argued that they should have left Gadaffi in power because he had started to play ball on the war on terror. Taking Gadaffi down was a risk and Libya is far from stable but the electorate have chosen a moderate government and in the wake of the Benghazi attack we saw the most notable pro American demonstration to occur in an Arab country since Desert Storm. Obamas risk has paid off. The death of four Americans does not invalidate his wider action on Libya. America lost 5000 people trying to bring democracy to Iraq, in Libya they have lost four. How this is continueing to be such a negative for the President surprises me greatly. I suspect tonight that he will try to turn that disadvantage into an advantage.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Best Debate Tweets







October 17, 2012
















Sunday, October 14, 2012

EU Deserves It

The European Union has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement yesterday has and will continue to lead to ridicule among critics of the EU and of the prize itself. Here is my view. I agree that the EU has been the greatest peace making institution in all of human history and is therefore a worthy recipient of the prize. I believe this for the following reasons. 70 years ago the European Continent was engulfed in a rampage of savagery and butchery that led to the deaths of over 35 million people. 40 years ago the European continent was still rife with dictatorship, communist in the East and military in the South. 20 years ago the European continent was faced with with brutal war in the Balkans, and the emergence of many newly independent nations in Eastern and Central Europe from the former communist block and the USSR itself. Today there are 45 countries on the European continent, all but one or two of which are solid democracies. For this spectacular transition from war and dictatorship to peace and democracy the EU deserves much of the credit.

Of course the EU does not deserve all of the credit. Many Eastern dissidents and their American supporters deserve great credit for the fall of communism as does the Catholic Church. But I have been surprised how for many this has turned into a NATO versus the EU debate. After all, most members of NATO are also in the EU. NATO undeniably was the main factor in wrestling the Soviet Union to the ground. But had it not been for the lure of democracy and prosperity that the EU provided many of the newly independent Eastern nations would have fallen under the influence of hard men of various political persuasions. And that lure was real and tangible. To be eligible for EU membership one had to satisfy the key economic indicators that makes up a modern economy. One had to have an independent judiciary, a military that was under civilian control, free elections, free media, workers rights and investors rights. The criteria to join was high. And as a result, after independence the national debates in Poland, Hungry, Checkislovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lituantia and Estonia became about satisfying those criteria. The same is true in Southern Europe after the fall of military regimes in Spain, Portugal and Greece. And perhaps most impressive of all is how those same debates are now taking place internally in Serbia, Bosnia and Macedonia, Slovenia and Croatia having already been granted membership. It is in the Balkans that we really see the EU's peace making in practical action.

Humans as we know are tribal. It is an unfortunate human characteristic but we tend to fight with our neighbours that our different. We have seen it in every corner or Europe over the centuries. We have even seen it in my own country. Most recently we saw it in the Balkans during the 1990's as the Serb, Croat and Bosnian went to war with each other with devastating consequences. While it took the muscle of American led NATO to stop the violence, it was the lure of EU membership that won the peace. But more than that, It was the EU concept of free trade and open borders within members that has led to a gradual erosion of hatred. Think about it, the Serbs are bitter because they lost territory in the war and that many of their towns and villages now lie inside Bosnia and Kosovo. This naturally serves as a nationalist rallying cry for the Serbs who want to come to the aid of their besieged brothers. The practical every day manifestation of this tension is the border. If the Serb living inside Kosovo wants to visit his relatives who live 20 miles away inside Serbia he has to jump through hoops to get there and back. Crucially however, with full EU membership comes free trade within the union. With this comes the erosion and eventually the removal of internal borders. And with the removal of the borders begins the gradual process of removing the reason for the nationalist rallying cry. Trade with each other, don't kill each other, that's the EU message. Not surprisingly the message of trade, get rich and live is much more powerful than fight, be poor and die. Of course old hatreds don't die easily, but with robust policing, a strong independent judiciary and a universal increase in living standard, the prospect of the three principal antagonists of the Balkan war living in peace, prosperity and harmony is very real. Could any other institution have achieved this?

The elephant in the room here is naturally the financial crisis. The Euro is struggling and may even collapse. The wide spread prosperity which is supposed to be central to the European project is looking dubious. But am I supposed to believe that if there was no EU there would be no debt, and no financial crisis. It is after all a global problem. I don't want to come across as an apologist for the EU. I don't like everything about the EU, particularly the EU commission and I am gradually coming to the conclusion that the Euro itself was a mistake at best, a sinister attempt to bully European nations into coming under the control of Brussels at worst. But I don't for a second think that its current financial problems invalidate its aforementioned success. And frankly, I think that any problem that I, or the Libertarian or the Socialist has with the European Union pale in significance in comparison with the success of a peaceful and democratic Europe. I sometimes get confused with right wing Americans and there views on the EU. It's like they had more respect for us when we were butchering each other. And that is the key to why I hold these views on this area. Readers of Gubu World will know that I am a World War Two enthusiast. I have read dozens of books on the conflict. But I have never fallen into the trap of thinking that it was a glorious, noble or even exciting time. It was in fact the worst thing that ever happened the human race. When I read about Normandy, Crete, Lenningrad, Malta, Anzio, the Bulge, Dunkirk, Barborossa, Arnem, Stallingrad, kursk, Berlin I am always left with a sick feeling in my stumoch that this is how it was in Europe at the time that my parents were infants. Some people don't get that. The American experience of war is totally different. The American people haven't actually experienced one since the 1860's. Putting on a uniform and travelling thousands of miles overseas is very different than seeing your home, your town, village, city and country become totally consumed by burning and killing. Hopefully in Europe that will never happen again. If the EU stays strong and democratic, I believe it never will.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Honours Even

I like this photo of President Obama watching the Vice presidential debate from Air force One. I suppose the debate was a draw. I could give my personal views but they are largely irrelevant because whether or not you liked Joe Biden's smile or found it inappropriate is entirely a matter of opinion. Likewise some found Paul Ryan's tame manner to be a sign of weakness, others found it Presidential. Again, it's entirely subjective. Biden probably succeeded in halting Obamas slide in the polls and what looked like a sea change may now just be a significant bounce. That is the most important aspect of last nights debate. The next Obama V Romney debate is massive.

Would it be worth it ??

I haven't decided yet whether I'm waiting up tonight to watch the Vice Presidential debate. I would like to because I missed most of Obamas disasterous performance last week and still haven't managed to post on the consequences of it. But I have had a hard week which included some exams, a two day wedding bash and a flu. Right now, I feel like the baby in this video. I doubt I can last another four hours. The only point I want to make now is that Joe Biden must do something tonight to change the narrative away from Obamas bad performance last week. One week later and it is still the main Presidential news story. Obama/Biden desperately need it to be something else tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Rumble

I watched this on youtube today before they took it down. It's over an hour and there is a good bit of sillyness in it particularly in first ten minutes but it's worth a look all the same. It's a solid debate between two men I respect. You can still see it on the link below if you're willing to pay a fiver. Anyway my hectic wedding season is over as are my exams so you can expect full time blogging between now and the presidential election.

Friday, September 28, 2012

If Johnny Adair had a nuclear weapon

Benjamin Netanyahu made a passionate yet simple case at the UN this week for why the world must stop the Islamic Republic of Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Given that most Irish commentators were not particularly impressed by the Israeli Prime Minister's plea for action, allow me to make an even simpler case, one which might strike a cord with Irish people.

Imagine that the Northern Irish troubles were still raging. And imagine that there was a coup by a hard line loyalist group like the UDA or UVF and that they overthrew the Unionist government in Stormount. And imagine that a bloodthirsty terrorist like Johnny Adair was the new dictator of Northern Ireland. And what if he declared his intention to once and for all eradicate the Catholic Republican threat by annihilating the Republic of Ireland. And finally, imagine intelligence reports continued to make clear that the UDA government in Belfast was actively seeking to develop a nuclear capability. What would we in Dublin do if faced with a situation like that? I make this analogy because that is the situation that Israel is currently faced with. The main difference however is that the Mullahs in Iran are much more fanatic than loyalist paramilitaries in northern Ireland. For the record, if I was the Taoiseach and it my responsibility to confront the aforementioned loyalist danger I would do the following. I would send covert teams into Northern Ireland to assassinate the nuclear scientists working on Belfast's nuclear programme and if possible Adair himself. I would develop an aerial capability to destroy Northern Ireland's nuclear sites and if necessary to bomb all significant military and economic targets in order to destroy the North's capability to conduct war. I wouldn't give a damn if anyone thought I was a war monger. I would do whatever was necessary to prevent my country from being nuked.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Republicans fail to make sense of Arab unrest

I was listening to former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton earlier today who was criticising President Obamas speech at the UN General Assembly. He was particularly unimpressed with Obamas statement that the "US does not wish to dictate the outcome of the unrest in Arab countries". Bolton took this to mean that the Obama administration would not intervene during unrest to keep a friendly dictator in power as was common practise during the Cold War. That got me thinking, why is it that Obama has a comfortable lead over Romney in all the poles when it comes to Foreign Policy. Has his Foreign Policy been that good? The answer is no but the solution does lie in the Arab World. The events of the last two years have been absolutely earth shattering. Dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen have all been sent packing and Assad in Syria has no doubt started to pack his bags. During the 2008 election who could have possibly imagined that within two years America would be at war with Libya and that the most established dictatorial dynasties of the Middle East would be crumbling. It is the most monumental geopolitical realignment in decades. And here in lies the problem for the Republicans, I have absolutely no idea what Conservative America want to see come from the unrest in the Arab world. I do not know if they think it is a good or a bad thing. I have never heard any Conservative American politician, academic or pundit articulate what they want to see happen or what they think US policy should currently be toward the Arab unrest of the last two years. The truth is, they are absolutely all over the place on the Arab Spring. But I understand their difficulty. During the Bush era many republicans argued that the US needed to bring democracy to the Arab World, by force if necessary. Now some of them, notably John Bolton, who was a strong supporter of this neoconservative thinking is arguing for covert US intervention to keep dictators in power. The unrest we have seen is genuine, possibly not always noble but it certainly is authentic examples of the people rising up against oppression. The problem for people like John Bolton is that we have seen massive uprisings against both pro and anti western dictators. Does he really think that US policy should be to intervene covertly or otherwise to keep a friendly dictator in power while simultaneously intervening covertly of otherwise to overthrow other unfriendly regimes. Many on the right in the US are on record as saying that the US should have propped Mubarak up, others have even said that they should have kept Qadaffi in power. Personally I think conservative analysts of US foreign policy need to reconcile themselves with the reality that there is no such thing anymore as the stable dictator. It is a paradox. I believe in what Churchill said. "Dictators are riding on the backs of tigers", (ie their people) and once they are forced to get off they will be ripped apart. This turned out to be true quite literally in the case of Qadaffi. It is an imperfect situation where America cannot play God no matter how much it might like to. It is Israel I feel sorry for in this situation because it means they are riding an uncertain wave of destiny, and we all know that the Jewish State is all about being masters of their destiny, not victims of it. My advice to them would be to stay alert over the next few years, very very alert. No doubt some Jihadi group will at some stage in the near future try to make this all about Israel by launching an all out attack. And as for the Republicans, if they fail to retake the White House in November, their inability to come up with a coherent stance on Arab unrest will be a factor in their defeat.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Jimmy's Winning Matches

Congratulations to Donegal. I was privilledged to be in Croke Park yesterday for the All Ireland Final, my favourite day of the year. Yesterday it was Donegal's turn and I'm delighted for the wonderful people of that beautiful county that they got their special day and I'm sure it will be a great boost for the country in many ways. If you haven't seen this video yet you must. Singer Rory Gallgher teamed up with a Senegalese man living in Lanzarote to come up with this great song in tribute to Donegal and their manager Jimmy McGuinness. Enjoy.

And here is some of my footage of the post match celebrations.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Last Chance Saloon Romney

How bad was the Romney 47% Gaffe? It was bad, but by no means is the race over. It should not be forgotten that Barack Obama would never have won four years ago had it not been for the financial crisis that hit in the late summer of 2008 which was a massive blow to the Republican Parties attempts at retaining the Presidency. There are six weeks to go until the 2012 election. Anything could happen between now and then. A foreign policy crisis, an Obama gaffe or a fresh political controversy could all see Romney take the lead in this race. However make no mistake it was a big gaffe that the Obama team will mercilessly exploit. Firstly, while I don't know the figures I'm pretty sure the percentage of Americans paying no tax is much lower that 47%. Secondly, even if there is a large chunk of the American population receiving welfare, food stamps or government assistance of some sort it doesn't mean than many of them don't desperately want to get out of that situation. To refer to the 47% as victims who he doesn't need to worry about was careless, even if it was behind closed doors. Look, we all know that in every society there is a section of the population that are perfectly content to live off the state. But that is nowhere near as high as 47%, certainly not in the US. I feel sorry for the guy because we all speak with a different tone in private but I hope for his sake there are no more similar tapes out there because at this stage there is only so many more hits Romney can afford to take before this campaign will be out of his hands and he will be relying on Obama mistakes.

Homer Votes

Best line: I'm voting for Romney because he invented Obamacare.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How to handle it when your faith is mocked

The 1979 Monty Python movie, The Life of Brian was the most spectacular ever attempt at religious satire in all of cultural history. It quite mercilessly mocked the life of Chirst right up to his death by crucifiction. It was deemed highly offensive by Christians and Jews. It was banned in several countries including Ireland. There were protests by Nuns, Priests, Rabbis and others, but nobody was killed and no buildings were burnt. There was however debate, lots and lots of debtae. The most famous of which occured on the BBC between Monty Python chatacters, Michael Palin , John Cleese and Christian journalist Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark Mervyn Stockwood . The debate, which I have posted below lasts for over an hour but if you have the time I would recommend you watch as much of it as possible. Obviously there are some people in the world today who could learn some lessons from such civilised dialogue as evidenced by the events of recent days. And can I just point out that the blashphemous movie The Life of Brian was made in where... wait for it .... Tunisia, a country that just this week has seen violent rioting in response to an anti Islamic movie made in California.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rangers Deployed

The elite Irish Army Ranger Wing are being deployed to the Coast of Somalia as part of the EU mission to prevent piracy in the Gulf of Aden and beyond. No bother to these boys.

The Anti US Pretext and Obamas Response

The unrest seen across the Muslim world in recent days is of course a sham. The violence which was focused at places of American power and symbolism such as its embassies and fast food restaurants was nothing more than a pretext for violence disguised by a religious cause in the hope that it would attract wider appeal on the Muslim street. The anti American violence is being led by Islamists, followers of the Wahhabi teachings that dominates extremism among Sunni Muslims. Whether or not they succeed in their efforts to gain wider support depends on if these violent demonstrations fizzle out over the coming days or continue on for several months. Part of me is optimistic. You see, the Islamist movement was caught completely off guard by the anti regime demonstrations that we have seen around the Arab world over the past two years and they have been slow to capitalise of the vacuum left over with the exception of Egypt. The massive unrest we have seen in Tunisia, Libya, Syria and even Egypt rarely had the stamp of Al Quaeda or Wahhabism on them. Truthfully, I think this latest episode is last gasp attempt by the Islamist at winning over the hearts and minds of the Arab people.

Does anyone really think these lads in Pakistan were ok with America before the anti Islamic video became public.

A quick word on how this unrest may affect the US presidential election. Some are arguing that these incidents reflect a failure of Obamas outreach to the Muslim world as articulated in his Cairo speech back in June 2009. Perhaps this is true, although I hardly imagine anybody could argue that these anti American demonstrations would not be happening if John McCain or Mitt Romney were President. Having said that, if the anti American violence does continue over the next few months the Republicans will be able to portray a situation where the Muslim world saw Obamas outreach as a sign of weakness and have responed accordingly. The narrative will be that Obama reached out his hand to Muslims and dead diplomats and burnt out embassies is what he, and America got in return. The Romney campaign have always struggled to demonstrate to the American people that Obamas foreign policy has been a failure but these latest incidents have provided them with an opportunity to do so. If they can capitalise on it the foreign policy advantage that Obama has had over Romney to date will be reduced significantly. However if the anti American demonstration subside within a couple of days it may be out of their hands.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Photo of the Day

The view from the balcony of my new apartment in Castleknock, which includes the rugby pitches of my old school and a 13th century castle.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bo##$x it anyway !

There is a US Presidential debate taking place at the American embassy in Dublin tonight between well known US pundits Leslie Marshall and Michael Graham. The debate will be moderated by RTE's Sean O'Rourke, have a small interactive audience and be broadcast live on radio. I entered a competition on twitter last week to attend the debate which required me to name the Vice presidential residence. Without having to consult the internet (aren't I great) I answered the question straight away which was of course the "Naval Observatory". I was confident of victory. However fate was working against me. On Friday I attended a friends wedding in the beautiful but remote venue of Lough Rynn in Co Lietrim. Unfortunately the internet reception on my phone was very weak. Later that night when I checked my twitter on noticing that I was temporarily connected to the net I had five messages from the US embassy. The first message was to congratulate me on winning. The second was a public tweet announcing the five winners. The third was a message asking for my details for the background security check. The fourth was a message telling me that I had until 5pm to respond. The fifth was telling me that unless I responded with my details in the next 20 minutes they would have to offer it to someone else. Well Bo##$x it anyway.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Looking forward to this.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Libya on Edge

Eighteen months ago the citizens of Benghazi were 24 hours away from mass slaughter. Libyan rebels had failed to make a breakthrough in their war against Col Gadaffi's forces who had managed to repel every major assault. Three months on from the beginning of the unrest Gadaffi's troops had surrounded the Eastern city of Benghazi, ready to dish out mass bloody revenge against the birthplace of the revolution. At that moment President Obama decided to intervene. A no fly zone was initiated on March 24 and from that point on the rebels had air cover. By October, Tripoli was in rebel hands and Col Gadaffi was dead. Yesterday, Islamic militants stormed the American consulate in Benghazi killing four Americans including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

The above picture of Ambassador Steven's body has caused controversy. Some media outlets have described it as the ambassadors body being dragged through the streets by the crowd. Others claimed it was locals carrying him to the hospital. I don't know which is true.

It is not surprising that America will take this personally. After intervening to save Benghazi they have been rewarded with such a savage attack. The question here is who is responsible. We have all known that there was a jihadi element to the Libyan revolution and that this faction have been trying to exercise greater control in Libya since the fall of Gadaffi. There is a very good chance that this attack was directly organised by them. The other possibility is that it was a spontaneous mob that snowballed into a deadly attack. Either way, the issue of the youtube video is deceptive. Any idiot can make a youtube video or burn a Koran. If it is always understandable that such incidents can set Muslims off rioting (as many commentators imply) then we much accept that violent and deadly riots are normal and acceptable because similar anti Islamic displays will happen again and again in the internet era. Frankly, Muslims must learn to live with these type of provocations. It is time the narrative is changed from "it is wrong to insult Islam" to "it is wrong to burn down buildings and kill people in response".

I sincerely hope this incident does not convince the US to withdraw diplomatically and politically from Libya. I know many right wingers are highly sceptical of the unrest in the Middle East and dislike the phrase "Arab Spring" which evokes images of the noble uprisings in central and Eastern Europe. Personally at no stage did I expect Libya to become a western style democracy. But at least it is not being run by a mad man. And it may have a decent shot at becoming a quasi democracy, one with a parliamentary democracy that accommodates for Islamic laws and customs. And let us not forget that the moderate party in Libya did win a comfortable majority in elections last July. The Libyan people deserve a chance at democracy. This incident should not deny them that. In this moving video below Christopher Stevens himself alluded to the fact that Americas road to democracy was not an easy one.

Lets hope that the sentiment expressed in these picture below is the one that dominates the Libyan street over the next number of days.

Libyans expressing their regret at the death of American Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Photo of the Day

I was watching Fox News today at lunch time today. Most of the coverage was dedicated to the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. During an interview with former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card who was describing the moment he informed President Bush that a second plane had it the second tower I noticed the names of the dead (all 2977 of them) were being displayed in alphabetical order across the bottom of the screen. I took the above picture when the name of Sean Thomas Canavan was passing. Sean Canavan was an Irishman from Co Tyrone. Sean was a carpenter working on the 98th floor of the south tower when it was hit. When the north tower was hit everybody on the 98th floor of the south tower was evacuated but for some reason Sean was not. Sean Canavan was a first cousin of Peter Canavan, the greatest Gaelic Footballer of the last twenty years. On September 11th 2001 Sean Canavan was murdered by Islamic extremists who hate western civilisation.

Obama, Bin Laden capture or kill

I saw most of the CBS interview of "Mark Owen" on 60 minutes yesterday. The Navy Seal who actually took part in the raid that killed Bin Laden has written a book about the operation. One thing that struck me in the interview was his insistence that the raid was in fact a capture or kill operation as opposed to an outright assassination. Owen claimed that the seals were under orders and very much prepared to take Bin Laden alive. Assuming he is telling the truth this discredits the claim by many Republicans that Obamas aggressive policy of target assassination of Al Qaeda leaders is a direct result of Obama abandoning the Bush era "enhanced interrogation techniques" and military trials. In other words Obama doesn't want to capture terrorist leaders alive because it's pointless since he won't sanction their torture for information. Similarly the President is avoiding putting them on trial because he wants to close Guantanamo Bay as per his campaign promise and previous attempts at arranging civilian trials for terrorists resulted in a fiasco that created a logistical and legal minefield. However, Mark Owen's account of the raid would appear to rebut this.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Foreign Policy and the Democrats

I thought the John Kerry speech last Thursday was the most interesting one of the Democratic convention. Foreign Policy is where my main interest lies in any event but I do think the Kerry speech has wider implications for American political tradition. Watch if you haven't already and I will explain below.

Mitt Romney has been criticised this week for not mentioning the troops or Afghanistan during his address at the Republican convention in Tampa. The Democratic convention in contrast was full of patriotic tributes to the troops and praise of Obamas foreign policy. Even Brit Hume of Fox News said that Romney had left himself vulnerable by not lauding the troops and that the Democrats capitalised on this very effectively. And now all polls show that Obama beats Romney comfortably on foreign policy. With Obamas successes in the war against Al Quaeda and the war in Libya the question merits being asked, have the democrats wrestled the foreign policy portfolio away from the Republicans for the first time since the Harry Truman era? Is foreign policy now a strength of the democrats and a weakness for Republicans?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Live Blogging DNC 2

Good Night !!!

4:02am. Second half of Obamas speech much better than the opening 10 minutes.

3:55am. Obama to the troops - "You did that", You did that" You did that"

3:43am. Obama -  Our committment to Israel must remain unshakeable, so must our committment to peace.

3:27am. Obama sounding particularly scripted, more so than Biden, Kerry or Clinton.

3:20am. Obama montage being played with contributions from Biden, Bill Clinton and Michelle Obama.

3:14am. On Fox News Brit Hume says that Romney left himself wide open to attack by not paying tribute to the troops during his prime time address. Dems have capitalised on this effectively.

Aine Kerr's view of Joe Bidens speech

3:02am. Biden "American is coming back and we're not going back", I'm confused !

3:00am. Come on it's 7pm on the west coast. Let's here from the Prez.

Come on Joe rap it up !

2:52am. Biden - "Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive"

2:47am. Biden - "Barack understood that getting Bin Laden was about more than getting a monster, it was about righting a wrong"

2:42am. Biden - Romney saw GM the Bain way

2:39am. Biden speech being covered live by Sky News, FOX, CNN and Aljazeera.

2:35am. Nothing personal against Biden but this speech is so full of sap I just can't stand it any longer.

It hasn't gone away you know

2:19am. Corny Joe Biden video being played.

2:16am. Fox panel expecting Biden speech to be all about what it's like to witness Obama from close up.

2:14am. Jill Biden introducing the Vice President.

Delegates hold up ThankYou signs during a tribute to the troops. Dems clearly trying to capitalise on the fact that Romney didn't thank the troops during his address in Tampa last week.

2:04am. CNN panel discussing possible tensions between Obama and Biden over the latters gaffs.

1:55am. Bill O'Reilly on the Factor, "John Kerry auditioning for Secretary of State".

1:50pm. John Kerry praising Obama intervention in Libya and ridiculing Romney's varied stance on it. Kerry - "Mr Romney, before you debate Obama on Foreign Policy you should have a debate with yourself".

1:46am. Kerry - President Obama eradicated more Al Quaeda leadership in 3 years than previous administration did in 8.

1:41am. Senator John Kerry praising Obamas Foreign Policy.

1:33am. Former Republican Governeror (now a Democrat) of Florida says "I did not leave the Republican Party, it left me". That has gotta sting !

1:20am. Eva Longoria on the podium talking about her working class roots.

1:13am. Pierse Morgan interviewing Obamas half sister Maya Soetoro. She says Michelle is the source of his strength.

1:11am. Caroline Kennedy and her son being interviewed backstage by CNN.

1:08am. Karl Rove on the O'Reilly Factor claims that there is a war on religion that is "masquerading as expanding freedom of choice".

1:05am. Bill O'Reilly "stunned" that Caroline Kennedy claimed that "as a Catholic" she is appalled by some abortion restrictions.

1:02am. "Healthcare" and "reproductive rights", what else !

1:00am. President Kennedy's daughter Caroline takes the podium to make the case for Obamas reelection.

12:56am. Gabby Giffords, accompanied by Debbie Wasserman giving the pledge of alliegance. The affects of her brain injury still very clear a year and a half after she was shot.

12:47am. Actress Scarlett Johansson on the podium. I know the polls say otherwise but I really think the Dems could overdo it on womens rights and inadvertently send many female voters into the Romney camp. The economy is the number one issue in this election.

12:36am. Gabrielle Giffords to give the Pledge of Alliegence shortly on the podium a year and a half after suffering a gun shot wound to the head.

12:34am. Pierse Morgan interviewing actress Ashley Judd on the convention floor.

12:25am. The Foo Fighters are blasting out a few tunes.

This campaign ad was just played at the convention.

12:15am. Joe Biden nominated Vice President by acclamation.

12:13am. Joe Biden balling his eyes out. Man up dude !

12:12am. Only one network carrying the Beau Biden speech live.

12:09am. Beau Biden on stage prasing his Vice President Father. Didn't know he was the Attorney General of Delaware. Now he's praising the troops. He is also an Iraq vet.

The Tea Party are not too impressed by all the union representation at the DNC

11:02pm. Caroline Kennedy expected on the podium soon.

11:58pm. "Tribute to the auto workers of America" being played at the convention. Workers thanking President Obama for saving their jobs.

11:48pm. Video being played at the convention praising Obamas decision to endorse gay marraige.

11:42pm. Fox just played a clip of Senior Obama advisors David Axelrod and Valerie Jarett on CBS this morning claiming that Obama was unaware that "God" and "Jerusalem" had been taken out of the Democratic platform and that he personally intervened to have them reinstated.

11:35pm. Former Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords  who was shot in the head last year in Arizona is on the convention floor for the first time this week.

11:19pm. Obamas speech tonight is taking place in the convention hall which holds 20,000 people. This is a late change of plan as he was supposed to be speaking in a nearby sports stadium which holds 80,000. Democrats are claiming that bad weather has forced the change. Charles Krauthammer on Fox News has just claimed that the real reason for the change is that the Dems realised it would be much more low key than his 2008 stadium speech and that this portray a lack of enthusiasm for Obama. Krauthammer claims they moved venue so it would be louded and have screwed 60,000 Democrat delegates in the process as their tickets are useless.

11:17pm. Main speakers tonight include 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry, Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama.

11:15pm. Mary J Blige entertaining the crowd with some U2 (one love).

Irish journalist Aine Kerr is at the convention, picture above is her view.

11:05pm. Wolf Blitzer on CNN interviewing Vice president Biden's son Beau, currently talking about his time serving in Iraq.

11:02pm. Fox News panel still talking about "God" and "Jerusalem" being absent from the Democratic platform yesterday.

11:00pm. It's 11:00pm in Dublin, 6:00pm in Charlotte North Carolina and 3:00pm on the West Coast of the US. I am watching the Democratic Convention live on line and keeping an eye on CNN and Fox aswell.

Israel, Jerusalem and the Democratic Platform

I will be live blogging again tonight. But first I want to address one of the most talked about issues at the convention by the American media. That is the decision by the Democratic Party to omit the statement that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel from their platform. Slightly less noticable was the further omission of the position that the right of return for Palestinian refugees to what is now inside Israel is an unrealistic goal for the Palestinians. Both positions were part of the Democratic platform in 2008.

So let's look at what the platform actually did say.

The Middle East. President Obama and the Democratic Party maintain an unshakable commitment to Israel's security. A strong and secure Israel is vital to the United States not simply because we share strategic interests, but also because we share common values. For this reason, despite budgetary constraints, the President has worked with Congress to increase security assistance to Israel every single year since taking office, providing nearly $10 billion in the past three years. The administration has also worked to ensure Israel's qualitative military edge in the region. And we have deepened defense cooperation—including funding the Iron Dome system—to help Israel address its most pressing threats, including the growing danger posed by rockets and missiles emanating from the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. The President's consistent support for Israel's right to defend itself and his steadfast opposition to any attempt to delegitimize Israel on the world stage are further evidence of our enduring commitment to Israel's security.
It is precisely because of this commitment that President Obama and the Democratic Party seek peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian accord, producing two states for two peoples, would contribute to regional stability and help sustain Israel's identity as a Jewish and democratic state. At the same time, the President has made clear that there will be no lasting peace unless Israel's security concerns are met. President Obama will continue to press Arab states to reach out to Israel. We will continue to support Israel's peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, which have been pillars of peace and stability in the region for many years. And even as the President and the Democratic Party continue to encourage all parties to be resolute in the pursuit of peace, we will insist that any Palestinian partner must recognize Israel's right to exist, reject violence, and adhere to existing agreements.
My first thought when this story broke was, well did they deliberately leave Jerusalem out or have the Democrats just phrased their support for Israel in a different way which doesn't mention the capital. In other words, is the above platform an actual watering down of the democratic parties support of Israel. Most people would think not given the unequivicol pro Israeli language in the document. But the omission of Jerusalem can hardly be irrelevant. Reports in the media today suggest that within the Obama administration there is a faction that are lobbying for the US to soften its stance on Israel. Obama is apparently not in this faction and the fact that he personally intervened at the convention yesterday to have Jerusalem's status re-inserted would certainly indicate as much. It is unlikely that when the platform was being drawn up that Obama himself had much imput.
My view on this as an Israeli supporter but not an ideological zionist is that Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees have no place on the political platform of any US party. I understand that in the event of the peace process moving forward Israel will likely win on both of these issues, particularly Palestinian refugees because we all know that millions of Palestinians being permitted entry into Israel is a non runner. The Palestinians are not likely to get a chunk of Jerusalem either but who knows where negotiatiations might lead both parties. But I don't see why the US is required to have such a staunch position on an issue that is between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Any settlement between the two will always be about Israeli security. If Israel were to get a guarantee that satisfied their demands it might be possible for Jerusalem to end up back on the table. Unlikely some would say, but stranger things have certainly happened in the history of conflict resolution.  
I do not wish to trivialise this incident. It was careless by the Democratic Party to let this happen. Not least because the Israelis do not need this. We may in fact be living in a time that is as threatening to the Jewish people as the era of Nazism. It is difficult to tell becasue the Iranian threat is largely covert but make no mistake, it is quite possible that the Iranian regime might soon have the capability as well as the will to launch a nuclear attack against the tiny country of Israel inflicting a second holocaust on the Jewish people in 70 years. It is no time for Israel's strongest ally to go soft. While I may question the need specifically for the status of Jerusalem and the right of return to be on the Democratic Party platform I do not question the need for Israel to know that it can rely on its strongest ally in a time of perill. I hope I am not confusing people by saying that there is no need to have such things on the Democratic platform and then saying that leaving it out is a snub to Israel. What I am saying is that if it was a genuine snub, it couldn't have come at a worse time for Israel.
Was this a big mistake by the Democrats that might affect the election? Ordinarily I would say no as the Jewish vote in the US is actually very small and largely vote democrat anyway. However the state of Florida has a large Jewish population. There seems to be a tradition of elderly Jewish people retiring there. Florida is a unique electoral state in that it is the only one in the union with a large number of electoral college votes (27) that could go either way in the election. For example Texas (34) always goes Republican and california (55) Democratic but Florida could go either way making it the most crucial state in the union. The Jewish vote could be essential to swinging it one way or another in Florida. This oversight or deliberate snub could have serious consequences in November.
Perhaps Alan Dershowitz, the most prominant liberal supporter of Israel in America can answer what this means better. Here he is yesterday on Fox News discussing the controversy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Live Blogging the DNC

5:10am. It's 5:10am in Dublin, 12:10am in Charlotte North Carolina and 9:10pm on the West Coast of the USA and I am off to my bed.
Presidents Obama and Clinton embrace following the latters speech

Could the Bill Clinton speech overshadow Obama?

4:48am. Krauthammer - Clinton speech was a "missed opportunity" to give a "rousing speech for Obama". What speech were you watching Charlie?

4:45am. Krauthammer - "vintage Clinton" and "self indulgent".

A bit optimistic perhaps but I'm quite sure this Clinton speech will have an impact on the race.

4:39am. Fox's Chris Wallace on the convention floor concedes that Clinton speech will win people over. Charles krauthammer coming up next. This will be interesting.

4:37am. Fox panel universally praise Clinton speech, except for its length.

4:33am. John Kerry praising Bill Clinton speech on convetion floor during CNN interview.

That's Slick Willy for ya

4:26am. Bill Clinton's 50 minute speech by far the best of convention week.

4:24am. As Bill Clinton raps up his speech, Obama comes out for a hug.

4:20am. Clinton - Republicans will "double down on trickle down" economics.

4:15am. Sky News, Fox, CNN and Aljazeera all covering Bill Clinton's speech live.

4:12am. Clinton - "The claim that Obama weakened the welfare work requirement is just not true".

4:09am. Clinton getting slightly impatient with the giddyness of the crowd.

Bush's former Press Secretary makes an excellent point.

3:56am. Clinton getting teary eyed.

3:45am. I think Dick Morris was wrong when he said Bill Clinton definitely wants Obama to lose.

3:41am. Bill Clinton - "I never hated Republicans the way the far right who now controls that party hates our President".

3:38am. Crowd going wild for slick willie. Clinton claims that over the last 50 years Republican administrations have created 24 million jobs, Democratcs 42 million.

3:32am. Bill Clinton tribute video in advance of his speech and his nomination of Obama.

3:25am. Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren proving very popular with the crowd, good warm up for Bill Clinton.

3:18am. Fox News panel believe that Democrats have recognised that Romney is not popular with the Republican base and have therefore decided to try and excite their own base rather than appeal to the centre. Based on what I have seen tonight I would have to agree.

3:10am. Fox News panel is now Steve Hays, Joe Trippi, Brit Hume, Bret Baier and Meagan Kelly

3:05am. Sandra Fluke reminds the audience that Obama stood up for her in the face of bigoted comments (from Rush Limbaugh presumably), let's not mention that Bill Maher who donated $1m to Obama called Sarah Palin a dumb twat, didn't stop Obama taking the cash.

3:00am. Sandra Fluke speaking on stage now. "Women should not have to pay more than men for health insurance"

2:53am. Bo Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's son describes President Obama as an exceptional President during a CNN interview on the convention floor.

Michelle Malkin deciding not to hang around long after her Hannity interview.

2:46am. I must confess, I am seeing very little at this convention that I think would appeal to conservative democrats. Maybe Bill Clinton will change that. Expecting him up in the next 15 minutes.

2:45am. Former Bain Capital employee on the podium telling the crowd about how Romney fired him.

2:42am. Rob King of United Auto Workers Union on the podium now praising the President for rescueing the auto industry. I didn't realise America still had these old school union types knocking around.

2:38am. In my view it's quite risky for the Democrats to make womens rights such a prominant part of their convention. Some women may be insulted by the implication that women do not vote for economic reasons.

2:34am. A female General Motors worker is on the podium, thanking President Obama for saving her job.

2:26am. Right wing pundit Michelle Malkin is not a fan of Sandra Fluke, which is putting it extremely lightly. On Hannity now, she claims that the looney left wing have taken over the Democratic Party.

2:18am. Controversial Womens Rights activist  Sandra Fluke speaking next. This is the lady that Rush Limbaugh called a slut.

2:15am. Bill Clinton speaking at 3:00am Irish time, 10pm East coast time.

2:07am. The Rev Jessie Jackson on with Hannity. Nancy Pelosi on CNN.

Irish journalist Aine Kerr is outside the convention Charlotte.

2:02am. Sean Hannity on Fox saying that the "Democrats have booed God".

2:00am. Sean Hannity reporting that Obama personally intervened to have God and Jerusalem re-inserted into the democratic platform. That's the nicest thing Hannity has ever said about the President.

1:55am. Carl Cameron on Fox's O'Reilly Factor says that in an interview with Romney today the Republican candidate says that Obama is throwing "Israel under the bus".

Classic tweet from Anne Coulter.

1:46am. Nun gets a huge roar from the crowd when she says that healthcare is pro life.

1:44am. A nun is now on stage criticising the "Ryan Budget". Claims that her faith makes her believe that we must do more for the poor, presumably that includes the state.

1:37am. Governor Hickenlooper (where do they get these names) on stage talking about how many helped build his business. An obvious attempt at defending Obamas "you didn't build that" statement.

Hope Bill Clinton's speech tonight goes better than this one at the 1988 convention in which he got booed off the stage.

1:29am. Californian Senator Barbara Boxer being interviewed on CNN. Always liked her since I saw her on "Curb Your Enthusiasm".

1:18am. Eva Longoria (of Desperate Housewives) being interviewed by Pierse Morgan on CNN. Very articulate speaker. She's surprised me. Defending Obama, "definitely better for women and latinos".

1:15am. Planned Parenhood leader on stage defending abortion rights.

1:09am. Dick Morris, former Clinton advisor, speaking on the O'Reilly factor is totally convinced that Bill Clinton wants Obama to lose this election because Hillary has a better chance of winning in 2016 if Obama loses in 2012. the panel on CNN have expressed similar thoughts.

1:00am. It's the O'Reilly Factor on Fox. Bill starts off his talking points with the God and Jerusalem controversy.

12:56am. Bill Clinton speaking in about an hour, but in case you missed it, here is the Speech given by former President Jimmy Carter last night via a video link

12:50am. Shepard Smith on Fox discussing the row between Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman and the Israeli Ambassador to DC who claims that he never said Republican policies are dangerous for Israel.

12:33am. All network, including CBS which I now have access to are discussing Bill Clintons upcoming speech. Expecting lots of praise for Hillary, who is not at the convention.

12:24am. New democratic buzz phrase is building an economy from the "middle out" as opposed to the top down or bottom up.

12:21am. Pelosi - "being a woman is not a pre existing medical condition".

12:19am. Pelosi on the podium.

12:14am. Newsflash, it's official, "God" and Jerusalem are back in the democratic platform.
12:09am. Oh yes, CNN have Van Jones on as a pundit. This guy was obamas special advisor on green jobs until he was forced to step down when it emerged he was a 9/11 truther and that he used to boast proudly that he was a marxist.
12:05am. Some Charles Bronson lookalike union guy on the podium now. I really thought the Dems wanted to distance themselves from guys like these nowadays.
12:02am. Jack Markell the Democratic Governer of Delaware on the podium now. Claims Romney will marginalise minorities and women.
11:53pm. All channels are talking about the word "God" being left out of the Democratic platform, and the decision not to say that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel.
11:40pm. Former Obama Press Secretary Robert Gibbs has entered the lions den at Fox News, being interviewed by Bret Baier. Has no real answer to the stats on bad economy.
This is my view. Red Bull, maltesers, Laptop and TV.

11:29pm. On CNN Pierse Morgan is interviewing Ted Kennedy's son and nephew as a continuation of last night's tribute to the late Senator. On Fox the discussion is on just how bad the relationship is between Presidents Clinton and Obama.

11:26pm. It's 11:26pm in Dublin, 6:26pm in Charlotte North Carolina and 3:26 on the West coast of the USA. I'll be here for the next 5 hours to blog about everything that happens at the Democratic National Convention as I see it.