Sunday, January 8, 2012

America and Us

What the rest of the world is saying about us shouldn't be only the object of our curiosity. They sometimes see things about us that we don't. Also, as their good neighbors on earth, we should be good listeners.

They certainly pay attention to us. US presidential elections are of much interest in the rest of the world, and as in the US, the official start of the campaign in Iowa this past week made headlines in other lands. The stories often contained a different take, but also, because the foreign press doesn't cover the day to day, horse race aspects of an American election, the articles represent more of a big picture view. Their readers, who are generally more educated than American readers, want an occasional summing up, which requires context lacking in American "latest development" stories.

Watching America translates articles from the foreign press into English and also publishes articles from English speaking countries, and from foreign papers published in English.

I waited a few days to do this post. Articles about the Iowa Caucuses from places like England and Canada began showing up on Watching America the day after, but the articles that had to be translated didn't start appearing until yesterday.

Possessed by the Ideological Demon
Der Freitag, Germany
by Konrad Ege

A nice overview of the political situation in the US, containing some observations you don't often hear here. One is about the new restrictions placed on voting in Republican controlled states, aimed at reducing the vote among populations that vote Democratic, one of which is requiring a state issued "voter id." In states that now require a "voter id," 11 percent of the population doesn't yet have one. The Republican dream of disenfranchising these people, taking away their voting rights, is being realized.

White House: Race to Disappointment
La Stampa, Italy
by Lucia Annunziata

Fascinating analysis of how the economic crisis is forcing politics to change. This is one of those articles that make me think, Why is our media so damn stupid? So uninformed? So uneducated?
You can understand American political analysis if you can get through TV Guide. We've got Paul Krugman, maybe. We used to have William Safire, on the tier below that, but he's gone. George Will thinks he's full of knowledge but he's just full of crap. I had to use my dictionary to read this article.

Plan Backfired
La Prensa, Honduras
by Sergio

An analysis of the recent showdown between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner over the payroll tax. The Honduran media is controlled by the oligarchy. I included this article more as a matter of interest. One of the first foreign policy initiatives of the Obama Administration was to assist in the coup by the Honduran oligarchy and parts of the military in overthrowing democratically elected Manual Zelaya, himself a member of the oligarchy but who was undertaking to improve the lives of Honduran working people. Apparently Obama did not want a bad example like that being set so close to our borders, since he knew that the policies he was about the embark on would only further the economic decline of the American working classes.

US-Political-Economic Tension Internally, Economic Pragmatism Externally
Zerkalo Nedeli, Ukraine
by Oleg Shamshur

A very adept rundown of the current state of affairs here, especially as they affect the chances of Obama and the Republicans in the elections. Shamshur says, not in so many words but definitely intimates that America is at a crossroads. Leave behind the social welfare state, i.e., the idea that we accept any responsibility for each others' well being, or become a place where it's the survival of the fittest. 

Weaker Tea and a stronger establishment
The Globe and Mail, Canada

On the lack of significance of the Tea Party in the Iowa caucuses, from a conservative perspective. The tea bagger's favorites, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry, came in last in Iowa, and their least favorites, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, came in first. Basically, the tea baggers have shot their wad. In the US press, with so much attention focused on the Occupy movement, child raping coaches and Kim Kardashian, I have not seen much about the tea baggers' demise. Keep in mind that it was not a grass movement but was orchestrated and funded by big money Republicans. They had no agenda except to elect Republicans with agendas meant to cause further hardships for the working class people who attended tea bagger rallies. It attracted mainly racists who were simply opposed to Obama being the president, and were against whatever might make him look good. There's not much future in a movement like that. The KKK can't suddenly be made to be mainstream.

The GOP goes to pieces
Macleans, Canada
by Luiza Ch. Savage

An analysis of the Iowa Caucuses arguing that the Republican Party has been fractured by the current candidates and the only winner so far is President Obama.

America's Torn Conservative Movement
Die Welt, Germany
by Clemens Wergin

The Iowa results in the context of the disappearing American Dream. I often write about the decline of income and standards of living of working Americans. If you think I've been making it all up, read this.

Romney's tainted Iowa win suggests the Republican race might run longer than expected
Telegraph, UK
by Tim Stanley

A British historian compares Mitt Romney's plight to those of Bob Dole and John McCain who likewise failed to inspire the party's conservative base. It's always been good news for the Democratic candidate.

Barak Obama's Long Route
Le Monde, France
by Corine Lesnes

An election analysis focusing more on Obama, again citing the importance that working Americans' economic decline will have in the election, and the question of whether or not America wants to follow the prescription of Republicans and conservative Democrats like Barak Obama and become a Medieval, barbarian country. This one also brings out the recent, highly significant demographic shifts in the US electorate that favor Obama. There are more "minorities" registered to vote, up from 18 percent to 28 percent in just four years, 2008-2012, and the percentage of the electorate that are "uneducated whites," the largest Republican voting bloc, has declined from 50 percent of registered voters to 39 percent in the last ten years. These shifts terrify Republicans and explain why wherever they can they are disenfranchising populations likely to vote Democratic, that is, the poor and minorities, particularly Hispanics and African Americans. As Amy Goodman outlines for The Guardian, as have many others, assaults on the voting rights of likely Democratic voters are underway or have already been written into law in many Republican controlled states. It was no coincidence that the first thing newly elected Republican Governor Susana Martinez did here in New Mexico was embark on a costly witch hunt of voters of Mexican descent in an attempt to intimidate them from voting again.


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