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.

Live blogging the DNC

Photos of the Day

I had an interesting and varied weekend of sport. On Saturday I went to see the opening match of the College Football season as Notre Dame played Navy in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Although I am completely unfamiliar with the American sport it was a great novalty to see it. 
And on Sunday I went to see my bevloved Dublin Football GAA team play Mayo in the All Ireland semi final. Unfortunately my beloved "Dubs" relinquished their title to the men from the west. It was a great day however and I wish the Mayo men all the best for the final in three weeks time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I watched much of the Republican convention in Tampa last week. I enjoyed it. I thought the party hit the right note by focusing on the economy and refraining from over personalising their attacks on the President who remains popular with the American people. The question for this election is whether voters think the American economy is more likely to come roaring back under a Romney or Obama Presidency. Most swing voters believe the answer is Romney. If the Governor's campaign sticks to this line Romney has an excellent chance of becoming the next President. However Mitt Romney was overshadowed by others at the convention. The stars of the convention and in my opinion the futures of the Republican Party are as follows.

Governer Chris Christie of New Jersy. It's always impressive when a politician makes it in a traditionally hostile state. Christie has achieved the political persona that so many Republicans fail to do which is to be staunchly conservative yet immensely likeable. Ronald Reagan was the master at this.

The Vice Presidential candidate performed well and his line about young graduates that have moved back home and are now staring up at faded Obama posters in their bedrooms was the best line of the convention.

The Kentucky Senators decision to publicly and enthusiastically endorse Mitt Romney will ensure that most libertarians vote for Romney. You might think this a given but his father Congressman Ron Paul refused to do so which would have left many of his enthusiastic supporters considering not voting, or perhaps even voting for Obama. Rand's speech at the convention was a passionate, reasonable and articulate critique of big government policies.