No Bar On Roseanne`s Presidential Campaign…

 John Curran 

Image © monterey media

Mitt Romney`s acceptance speech at the Republican Convention illustrates how far American politics has descended into pastiche as an excitable audience intermittently bellowed “USA”, as if spectators at a sports event urged on by a candidate inanely smiling like a second rate chat show host. This was pantomime politics; the audience occasionally hissing in unison, an organised response in this era of stage managed politics. Given the circumstances it seems natural to send in the clowns, or at least a comedian, so enter Roseanne Barr, who is campaigning to become President of the United States on a socialist and anti-war policy plank predicated on the notion that a woman`s place is in the White House.

Barr, the most serious comedian in this Presidential race resurrected her political challenge after failing to win the Green Party nomination; she is now running for the Peace and Freedom Party on a Barr/Sheehan ticket. `Roseanne for President` is no joke and she is no court jester, refusing to apologise for proposing a radical agenda. Socialism, she reminds us, is not an agenda to merely help out Wall Street, it is time she argues that public money found its way into the pocket of Joe/Joan `six-pack` on Main Street.

Much of the attention concerning the Barr/Sheehan campaign has focussed on their proposal to legalise marijuana, but the platform covers an array of issues concerning domestic and foreign policy and constitutional change. For example the party is calling for Ballot Access in all 50 states.

Barr employs her energy and intelligence to good effect and her considerable wit is less rapier and more akin to a weapon of mass destruction. Highly articulate and quick on her feet she surely would be a match for anyone in debate. She is running a shrewd campaign, the Peace and Freedom party are appealing to national sentiment urging prospective voters to be an American and not an American`t. The campaign website is sophisticated, Roseanne knows how to communicate to the masses and she gets her message across clearly, concisely and of course, with humour.

There is a strand of isolationism running through the ticket, natural given the anti-war stance this party takes. But the Peace and Freedom Party has an international outlook, the campaign website gives pride of place to the terrible incident recently in Marikana, South Africa, “Where forty- five mineworkers were killed in what the South African press called a bloodbath that recalls the worst massacres of the apartheid epoch.”  Lest we forget, these workers were killed campaigning for improvements in wages and conditions in a British owned enterprise. It is unlikely that any of the leading Presidential candidates will give prominence in their campaign literature as Barr/Sheehan have to the massacre on the 16 of August.  Read more of this post

Supreme Court upholds Obamacare: a key victory in election year

Francis Pitt 

Image © roberthuffstutter

The United States Supreme Court has upheld President Obama’s flagship healthcare bill, a decision that has given the Democratic Party’s incumbent a boost as he looks towards November’s presidential election showdown with Mitt Romney.

The legislation, which has polarised opinion in America, will now ensure that millions of Americans, who previously would not have be able to access healthcare, will now be able to do what so many in other Western countries take for granted.

Within minutes of the announcement, Twitter was buzzing with reaction. Many Republicans were not happy with the decision of America’s highest court.  Missouri Congressman, Todd Akin tweeted, “Since its inception I have fought against the adoption of #Obamacare. We must defund and repeal all of it.” Other tweeters were also not happy with the ruling: “There is only one guaranteed way to get rid of Obamacare: President Romney taking the oath on January 20th, 2013.”

The decision was a close run thing, with the court ruling by 5-4 in favour of the bill. The decision was carried by Chief Justice, John Roberts (a Conservative) who himself voted in favour.  Justice Roberts gave his reaction to the decision to not strike down the Bill and in particular the penalty for not getting insured, which many Americans saw as a tax: “The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. Because the constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.”

Despite the ruling the issue is far from over. Many Americans are still against the mere thought of a universal system similar to those in Europe, or their neighbours, Canada. They see it as an attack on their personal freedom and as something that could potentially lead to the eroding of American society as they know it. The darling of the Tea Party Right, Sarah Palin added her disgust at the ruling by tweeting, “Obama lied to the American people again. He said it wasn’t a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies.”  Read more of this post

Obama vs. Romney: the world is watching

Daniel Crump 

Image © Rivarix

Matters of foreign policy do not tend to be first on the list of a voter’s priorities coming up to an election, especially in times of economic turmoil. When US voters go to the polls in November they will be asking themselves when unemployment is going to fall, whether the health care system will continue to be of benefit to them and how much money they will have in their pockets once they retire. Perhaps, then, the sensible move on the part of the contenders is to downplay talk of foreign issues and concentrate on the economy.

However, history has taught us that many a presidency has come to be defined by a set of decisions related to manoeuvrings on the world stage. Kennedy’s record was arguably saved from the humiliation of the Bay of Pigs by his firmness during the Cuban Missile Crisis. What respect George Bush Sr. may have lost in failing to capture Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War, he made up for with his role in German Unification in the early 90’s.

Are we asking the right question?

In the run up to November’s vote, it is perhaps unhelpful to ask whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney would best serve the US’s interests on the world stage. The question people ought to be asking is whether a first term president is preferable to one in his second term. This is the case for two main reasons. Firstly, a President’s first term in office has always been more about dealing with the footprint left by the previous administration than about imposing his own foreign policy vision. Secondly, foreign policy is by nature reactionary. No matter how concise a doctrine exists at the outset, there are certain events that one can simply not prepare for.

To argue the first case, we need only go back four years when Obama officially inherited two wars from George Bush Jr. It was clear, despite his commendable desire to ease tensions with Iran, that his Middle Eastern policy was going to be dictated by how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan played out. It is certainly no secret that Iranian involvement in the Iraq War was one of the biggest obstacles the President was going to have to overcome if peace between Tehran and Washington was reachable. U.S officials insist that the training of Militant Shiite groups in Iraq by Iranian forces has been a huge challenge for the US army. Iran is said to view Iraq as a potential buffer zone from any future invasion, most likely by the US’s main ally, Israel. Similarly, George Bush’s unavoidable presence in Afghanistan was always going to make Obama’s relationship with Islamabad one on permanent knife edge.  Read more of this post

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