September 2008 Archives

September 30, 2008

Transcript of Katie Couric's Interview With McCain and Palin

The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric has posted the transcript of Couric's joint interview with Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain and Governor Sarah Palin, his running mate. If you're interested in reading it, see "Transcript: Palin And McCain Interview." It, according to CBS, offers "more in-depth answers to questions Katie Couric asked McCain and Palin on the broadcast."

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Foreign Policy Magazine's New Home

I see the Washington Post Co. has bought Foreign Policy magazine from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington, D.C. based think tank. See "FP: now brought to you by the Washington Post Company."

According to Foreign Policy editor-in-chief Moisés Naím:

Foreign Policy is thrilled to join The Post Company. In an era in which too many newspapers and magazines are retreating from international news, The Washington Post Company is smartly bucking the trend. Serving the expanding market of readers eager to understand how events in other countries affect them is what FP is all about, and that is why we are so excited to have The Washington Post Company as our new home.
For years, I was a faithfully reader of the magazine, "founded in 1970 by "Clash of Civilizations" author Samuel P. image  Huntington and Warren Demian Manshel, a German-born investment banker who once served as U.S. ambassador to Denmark. Now I read it online.

Is it a good investment for the Post Company? It is, according to a September 29, 2008, press release, in which Donald E. Graham, chairman and chief executive officer of The Washington Post Company, says:

Foreign Policy is a terrific magazine, and I’m pleased it will become a part of our company. We are committed to great magazine journalism, and I hope Foreign Policy will also become one more center of innovation that helps us expand our journalism in the online arena.

Only time will tell if it can survive as a traditional magazine. I'm more incline to stay with the online version.

This post can also be found at The Blogging Journalist, my blog on "blogging by professional and amateur journalists and pundits in the United States and abroad."

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September 28, 2008

Ramesh Thakur: 'Why Asia Should Matter to Canadian Voters'

Ramesh Thakur, "foundation director of the Balsillie School of International Affairs and distinguished fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation" think tank in Waterloo, Canada, contends in a September 28, 2008, "special to The Daily Yomiuri" of Japan, that:

In Canada's general election next month, voters should pay more attention than normal to the political parties' foreign policy platforms. As the current market turmoil demonstrates only too vividly, economics are intertwined on a global level, yet politics remain stubbornly local.
Mr. Thakur said, "Once elected, however, most prime ministers spend much of their time grappling with foreign challenges. Of the major issues, it is global forces that likely will determine Canada's fate. Asia will impact significantly on issues critical to Canada's welfare and security, and as such, Ottawa's Asia policy needs to be publicly debated," he argues. 

If you want to read more, please see "Why Asia should matter to Canadian voters."

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Should Foreign Policy and the Economy Have Equal Billing?

Michael van der Galien, Editor-in-Chief of Netherlands-based PoliGazette, opines in a September 28, 2008, post headlined "Is it the Economy or Foreign Policy, Stupid?":

American voters and commentators focus a lot on the economy these days. The old slogan, “it’s the economy, stupid,” has been used many times in the past days and weeks, explaining that not foreign policy but the economy should be the number one issue. Although many American voters may indeed consider the economy the most important issue - especially considering the current crisis - there is something to say for the view that not the economy but foreign policy will be the most important issue facing the next president.

I think he makes a valid argument. Foreign policy and the U.S. economy are linked although it's something most of us probably don't think about.

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'We Need Rules of the Road for Wall Street Bailout'

U.S. Senator Barack Obama , the Democratic Party's presidential candidate up against Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain in the November 4, 2008, election for President of the United States, appeared on the September 28, 2008, edition of Face the Nation in what CBS' host Bob Schieffer called "an exclusive interview." See Congressional Quarterly Transcript. Mr. McCain appeared on "This Week With George Stephanopoulous."

Mr. Obama, among other things, was asked about the 700 billion dollar bailout of Wall Street that President George W. Bush  wants Congress to agree to, without serious debate. News reports say the bailout may be given the green light today or tomorrow, September 29, 2008. Asserts Mr. Obama:

Well, look, first of all, I think we have to understand that this was an urgent situation and is an urgent situation. And by the end of the week, I think everybody recognized that something needed to be done.

What I’m pleased about is that it appears at least-- and I haven’t reviewed the actual language-- is that some core principles that I’ve set forth at the beginning of this crisis were incorporated. The issue of making sure that we had strong oversight, the insistence that taxpayers share in the gains if there are any when the market recovers, the insistence that homeowners get additional relief so that there’s some reciprocity. If in fact we’re bailing out or helping banks, they in turn have to help rework mortgages for people who are potentially facing foreclosure.

And the final thing, the issue of executive compensation, making sure that taxpayer money is not going to pad bonuses or golden parachutes.

It appears that those principles have all been incorporated into the core agreement. And I’m going to be reviewing the language over the next day to make sure that those provisions actually stick.

Ultimately, I believe that we have to get something done. And so if I feel that those are meaningful provisions that provide some constraints on how the treasury operates and this is not going to be welfare for Wall Street, then my inclination is to support it, because I think Main Street is now at stake.

This could affect every sector of the economy. If the credit crisis continues or worsens, then suddenly small business people can’t make their payroll. You have large businesses who can’t sell corporate debt, which could bring the entire economy to a grinding halt.

The last point I want to make on this is we have to remember how we got here. Not so much to allocate blame, as to understand the choices that are going to face the next president. Unless we update our 20th century regulatory framework for a 21st century global financial system, then we’re going to continue to be vulnerable to this kind of situation, and I think the next president has to come in with a very strong package of reforms.

OBAMA: We’re going to have to fight off the lobbyists and the special interests. And, finally, we’ve got to understand that, contrary to what John McCain suggested at the beginning of this crisis, the fundamentals of the economy are not strong.

And some of the root causes of this crisis have to do with the day-to-day struggles that ordinary people are going through, with flat wages and incomes but constantly increasing costs.

That puts pressure on them to take out more debt, to use home equity loans, to try to refinance. It created an environment in which this kind of crisis potentially could occur.

SCHIEFFER: So, as it stands now, from what you understand about it, you will support this?

OBAMA: As it stands now, if the four principles that I laid out 10 or 12 days ago are, in fact, contained in a meaningful way -- the tax payer protection, the investor participation of taxpayers, the corporate, or the CEO compensation issues, as well as the homeowner assistance -- if those are contained, my inclination would be to vote for it, understanding I’m not happy about it.

We should have never gotten into this place in the first place. And I think this is a final verdict on eight years of failed economic policy.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let’s just -- let’s just talk about this. When the president came on television and said we need this bailout package, he painted it in the most dire terms.

OBAMA: Right.

SCHIEFFER: How -- do you agree with him?

How crucial is it that this pass?

How bad is this situation right now?

OBAMA: I think this situation is pretty bad. Look, you’re always dealing with probabilities, in this kind of situation. You don’t know exactly how the market might react. You don’t know -- since you’ve got worldwide actors doing all kinds of things.

But think about it. I mean, we had the largest bank failure in our history, and it wasn’t even the major news that day. (LAUGHTER)

It gives you a sense of how fundamentally our financial system is being restructured, as we speak.

If you have a situation where credit markets lock up, then, as I said before, businesses who are making stuff and hiring people and, you know, have nothing to do with wall street, suddenly they’re imperiled.

SCHIEFFER: So it is a serious -- you agree with the president’s assessment that it’s as serious as he said it was?

OBAMA: I agree that this is probably the most serious financial crisis we’ve faced since the Great Depression. And what we can’t do is do nothing.

What I absolutely insist on, though, is that the same sense of urgency that we have about Wall Street, we have about folks on Main Street who have been struggling for a long time.

Mr. Obama adds" "One of the critical lessons, I think, that have to be learned by this is not only that we have to set up some rules of the road, some regulations that work to keep the system solvent and prevent Wall Street from taking enormous risks with other people’s money, figuring that, tails I win, heads you lose, where they don’t have any risk on the down side.

"But," Mr. Obama added, "the second thing that we have to learn is that, if you think about how this all started, subprime lending -- you’ve got homeowners who ultimately could not make payments on their homes, and that’s an indication of the degree to which family budgets have been under huge stress for years now, and we haven’t been paying much attention about it because the theory has been, well, as long as those at the top are doing well, prosperity somehow is going to trickle down."

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September 27, 2008

McCain's 'Days of Chaos, Improvisation and Drama'

Recommended: Washington Post Staff Writer Michael D. Shear's September 28, 2008, article headlined "For McCain, Days of Chaos, Improvisation and Drama." It's one of the toughest undressing of a politician I've ever read.

By the way, the Post may require registration before you can read the article.

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'... Everything the U.S. Does Affects the Rest of the World...'

Following the September 26, 2008, U.S. presidential debate at the University of Mississippi, Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news outlet, asked "a global panel for their thoughts on the US presidential election and on the two candidates, Barack Obama, the Democratic hopeful, and his Republican rival, John McCain." I found this observation from Mahardhika Sadjad, 22, a student from Indonesia, about the September 26, 2008, to be on point. She told Al Jazeera:

I believe that there are two important issues that need to be addressed by America’s upcoming president.

The first is the fact non-state actors are playing a larger role in international affairs and thus, America must be able to embrace popular support, not only from governments, but also from individuals and groups around the world.

The next candidate must be the candidate with whom the world can relate to, and who can in return relate to the world.

I also found the observations of Lina Ejeilat, 24, a Jordanian student who has been in New York City for two months, to be reality-based. She told Al Jazeera, in part:

Being here for the past two months got me thinking about things I didn't pay attention to before - I started thinking about all the money the US government gives to my country and many others in aid while the US economy is crumbling down.

I was also thinking of how quick we were in Jordan to adopt the US business and financial model, and how scary it is to think of its proven flaws and their impacts.

"Most importantly though," Ms. Ejeilat added, "I realised that whether we like it or not, everything the US does affects the rest of the world tremendously.

"We cannot say all US presidents will be the same for the Arab world because there's a lot more support for Israel that tips the balance."

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'An Amazing Week' of American Political Theater

I'm no fan of Time magazine, however, I think Time's Michael Grunwald did a great job in summing up the national drama, starring Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain, that played out on the American political stage this week. If you're interested in his analysis, see "Oh, the Drama! McCain in the Theater of the Absurd."

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The McCain-Obama Foreign and Economic Policy Debate

Last night, September 26, 2008, I started watching the debate between Senator Barack Hussein Obama, the  Democratic Party's candidate's for President of the United States,  and Senator John Sidney McCain, the Republican Party's candidate in the 2008 elections,  but fell asleep around the 30 minute mark. I got up this morning and read image a New York Times transcript of the debateimage rather than listen to it on video. I find Mr. McCain's speaking style too boring. Yet, if I wanted be  informed about what he and Mr. Obama had to say about the U.S. economy and what U.S. foreign policy would encompass under their administrations, I had to either read the transcript or watch a video of the speech or listen to audio. This is not the kind of information I'd want interpreted for me by a talking head or pundit.

I'm convinced that under a McCain Administration it will be more of the same. Spending billions of dollars on a senseless war in Iraq, rewarding fat cat corporate leaders for taking jobs overseas and further privatizing America into the hands of the powerful military-industrial complex that President Dwight David Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address delivered on January 17, 1961.

What about Mr. Obama's lack of foreign policy experience? The truth is every president learns on the job. If a president knew everything he or she needed to know about international affairs, there would be no need for foreign policy advisers, professional diplomats or intelligence gatherers.

America is in desperate need of someone with new vision who's determined not to follow the disastrous economic and foreign policy road map laid out eight-years ago by the Bush Administration.  We can't afford four more years of  a policy that has deliberately taken billions of dollars out of the pockets of average Americans and transferred it to Halliburton, Blackwater Worldwide and other war profiteers and Wall Street hustlers. We need someone who can restore American prestige abroad and who is willing to give diplomacy a chance and American soldiers a rest.

So, was my view of Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain altered in any way by their debate performances? No! Do I care who won the debate? No! The only winning I care about will take place on November 4, 2008.

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September 21, 2008

Justin Raimondo: 'The American Empire: To Big to Fail?'

Recommended: Justin Raimondo's September 22, 2008, insightful post at AntiWar,com headlined "The American Empire: Too Big to Fail? Who gets bailed out - and who doesn't."

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Is Latin America Really Outraged by U.S. Foreign Policy?

Michael Carmichael, a regular contributor to Canada's Global Research blog, contends that "Foreign policy during the Bush administration is an unmitigated disaster that is still unfolding." See "Foreign policy during the Bush administration is an unmitigated disaster."

Mr. Carmichael said, "Not only, has the Bush White House grotesquely mismanaged the Middle East in what is nothing less than a criminal manner rippling with war crimes and violations of international law streaming across our media in an unceasing barrage -- over the last eight years, nothing systematic has been achieved in Africa -- an appalling situation characterized by criminal negligence that allowed China to make huge strides on the continent-- and, Latin America is totally outraged by US policy it now finds insidious and repugnant."

I recommend the post.

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The U.S. is Facing a 'New Era in Global Politics'

Asserts Newsweek's Andrew Bask, in a September 20, 2007, preamble to a "Web Exclusive" interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, "a professor at Johns Hopkins University's prestigious Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and a former national-security adviser to President Jimmy Carter:

The [U.S.] presidential campaign is coming down to the wire, and that means talk of lipstick and swine have elbowed more serious matters out of the way. Candidates won't be able to dodge the tough questions for long, though. The first debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, which will be held at the University of Mississippi on Sept. 26, [2008] will focus on foreign policy. And while pigs and pit bulls have filled the headlines, behind the scenes the Bush administration has recently made several policy tacks that will hand a new set of challenges to the next president.

Mr. Bask says according to Mr. Brzezinski, "the candidates will have to address the fact that America faces a new era in global politics

Asked "Why do we need to have discussion about American foreign policy now", Mr Brzezinski said:

There are two reasons. One, because we are in a historically new era, and we have to rethink some of the basic assumptions that have guided us over the last several decades. Secondly, because the current Bush administration has made such a mess of things—has so undermined American global standing and has so weakened, in effect, American power, reduced American influence and undermined American moral standing—that a critical look ahead is needed.

The Brzezinski interview is worth a few minutes of your time, even if the views are coming from an ancient in the foreign policy community.

 
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September 7, 2008

McCain's Temper

Recommended: McClatchy Newspapers reporters David Lightman and Matt Steams' September 7, 2008, article headlined "McCain's History of Hot Temper Raises Concerns." They give several examples of people who've had to endure it.

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