Showing posts from October, 2011

Tea Partiers, Wall Street Occupiers' ideas not new

Business Times - 01 Nov 2011 Tea Partiers, Wall Street Occupiers' ideas not new By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT THERE is a lot of uneasiness among members of the political establishment in Washington these days. The rise of the Tea Party movement on the political right may have provided a short-term electoral lift for the Republicans by energising grassroots activists and helping the party mount a successful mid-term election campaign against President Barack Obama and the Democrats last November. But Republican leaders are now concerned that the anti-establishment message of the Tea Partiers has convinced many centrist independent voters that the party has been hijacked by right-wing ideological fanatics. Republican leaders worry the Tea Partiers among presidential primary voters will wreck the chances of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the most moderate and electable candidate, of winning the party's nomination. A similar kind of ambivalence has characterise

Change in US only after political elites go

Business Times - 28 Oct 2011 Change in US only after political elites go It seems as though the US is experiencing symptoms of a pre-revolutionary political system By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT SCIENTIFIC methods and techniques of polling a demographically representative sample of public opinion were used for the first time in the 1930s, so we would probably never know how the majority of the French in 1789 or the Russians in 1917 had felt about their respective rulers who ended up being overthrown in two of the modern age's historic revolutions. But thanks to the most recent polls conducted by a leading opinion research group, we do know that 89 per cent of Americans say they distrust their government to do the right thing and 84 per cent of them believe that their politicians are leading their country in the wrong direction. Moreover, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 69 per cent of the public thinks that the Republicans who control Congress favour th

Conflicting thoughts of Republicans

Business Times - 26 Oct 2011 Conflicting thoughts of Republicans US moves on Libya and Iraq may be a sign it's adapting its policies to changing balance of power in the region By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT REPUBLICAN politicians, including the party's leading presidential candidates, as well as Fox News' right-wing pundits and the armchair warriors on the conservative blogosphere have been suffering from an acute case of foreign-policy cognitive dissonance in recent months. They have been bashing President Barack Obama for failing to stand up for US interests in the Middle East and for cosying up to anti-American (and anti-Israeli) Arabs and radical Islamists. Yet this same president is the one who ends up assassinating Osama bin Laden and other Al-Qaeda figures and helps topple (and kill) Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, the notorious godfather of international terrorism and long-time symbol of Arab radicalism. And Mr Obama also takes a tough stand in dealing with Pak

And now it's time for 'Cainesian' economics

Business Times - 21 Oct 2011 And now it's time for 'Cainesian' economics Former pizza salesman Herman Cain could well be next Republican presidential candidate By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT POP psychologists have proposed that there is a certain kind of woman who consistently tends to reject Mr Right, the trustful, responsible, hard-working and intelligent man who loves and wants to marry her. Instead, she seems always attracted to Mr Wrong who almost everyone knows is just not good for her. These days it seems that the entire Republican Party may be suffering from this Rebuffing-Prince-Charming disorder. Republicans will have to marry - electorally speaking, that is - one of their party's presidential candidates in the coming months in a wedding ceremony aka 'presidential primaries' with the prospective groom carrying them straight into the White House (hopefully) after next year's elections. But the man who has been courting the Republicans for th

Republican presidential candidates and foreign policy

Published on The National Interest ( Source URL (retrieved on Oct 18, 2011): A Reaganite among Neocons: The 2012 GOP Race | More [1] | October 18, 2011 Leon Hadar [2] It is tempting to predict U.S. foreign policy under prospective presidents by deconstructing their campaign statements. But such exercises can produce misleading conclusions. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt both campaigned on pronouncements that they wanted to keep the United States out of European wars. Both later led the country into direct military involvement. And two Republican presidential candidates who had run on staunch anticommunist platforms ended up transforming U.S. ties with communist rivals: Richard Nixon’s opening to China and policy of détente with the Soviet Union; and Ronald Reagan’s historic nuclear arms-control agreement with Moscow. More recently, presidential candidate Bill Clinton

What the three new US FTAs portend

Business Times - 18 Oct 2011 What the three new US FTAs portend Given Democratic opposition, Obama is likely to shelve any fresh foreign trade initiatives until after the 2012 elections By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT PROPONENTS of global trade liberalisation in Washington and elsewhere are cheering the passage of three long- delayed free-trade agreements (FTAs) in the US Congress last week. The FTAs with South Korea, Colombia and Panama are the first such agreements since 2007, and the deal with South Korea (the world's 15th-largest economy) is regarded as the most important trade agreement since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) in 1994. The good news is that all three deals gained some bipartisan support, which allowed them to pass by wide margins. In the House of Representatives, the Colombia FTA passed by a vote of 262 to 167, the Panama deal passed 300 to 129, and the South Korean measure by a margin of 278 to 151. The Senate saw similarly

The conning of Barack Obama

Business Times - 14 Oct 2011 The conning of Barack Obama A controversial new book claims that the idealistic president has been systemically thwarted in his reform programmes By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT EVEN in the age of 24/7 news when the most recent gossip in the blogosphere can ignite never- ending debate on cable TV news shows, forcing a politician to resign from office or produce a diplomatic row, the printed pages of that most archaic form of 'dead-tree-ware' - the Book - can still upstage the Web page and make a difference in Washington's online media-saturated universe. Indeed, every once in a while, excerpts from a soon-to-be-published non-fiction book (which critics immediately denounce as, well, fiction) are circulated among officials and journalists, creating a 'buzz' and, in the process, redefining the political discourse and resetting the policy agenda. For example, a series of books by prominent investigative reporter Bob Woodward that pro

The preferred villain of US politicians on the make

Business Times - 11 Oct 2011 The preferred villain of US politicians on the make By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT TAKING swipes at China has been a Washington pastime for years. China's growing economy and its military assertiveness at a time when the foundations of American economic power and geo-strategic pre-eminence are eroding make it a convenient scapegoat for Democrats and Republicans. They accuse the Chinese of stealing American jobs and threatening US military interests in East Asia, hoping to appeal to the distressed voter (never mind that America's economic problems have very little to do with China and that the US continues to outspend and outperform in the military arena). But every time tensions in Sino-US relations seemed to be getting out of hand you could depend on the countervailing forces of American businesses, the free traders on Capitol Hill and the 'grown-ups' in the White House and the Senate (considered to be a less populist and more delib

Is Bernanke trying to jump into political fray?

Business Times - 07 Oct 2011 Is Bernanke trying to jump into political fray? He partly blames his Congressional critics for what he calls faltering economic recovery By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT AT ONE point during his Congressional testimony on Tuesday, it sounded as though Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was about to join the demonstrators protesting in New York and other US cities against Wall Street and corporate greed. The protesters were blaming 'with some justification the problems in the financial sector for getting us into this mess', Mr Bernanke said after being asked about the protests during his appearance before Congress's Joint Economic Committee. 'At some level, I can't blame them,' he said as he pointed to the above 9 per cent unemployment rate. Americans were 'dissatisfied with the policy response here in Washington', the head of the US central bank warned American lawmakers, directing much of his criticism towards the l

Democrats out to chash on yuan bill

Business Times - 06 Oct 2011 Democrats out to cash in on yuan bill Their move on the bill in Senate and long-delayed FTAs is all about politics and, more specifically, about the jobs issue By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT SO HERE is the good news: The White House sent three long-delayed free trade agreements (FTAs) to Congress on Monday, putting the deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama on a road towards final approval after several years of being mired in Capitol Hill's legislative jam. That probably means that after being stuck in the political limbo for the last two years - thanks to Washington's nasty partisan infighting - the White House and Congress are going to revive the dormant trade liberalisation agenda. Right? Well, not so fast, because here comes the bad news: The Senate also voted to advance legislation pressuring the Chinese government to stop undervaluing its currency, raising the spectre of a costly Sino-American trade war, which clearly does not so

Tea Party tax rant a case of barking up wrong tree

Business Times - 04 Oct 2011 Tea Party tax rant a case of barking up wrong tree Accusing Mr Obama of being a Marxist means putting Mr Buffett in the same boat By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT REPUBLICAN lawmakers and the party's presidential candidates are bashing President Barack Obama's proposal to increase the tax rate on America's millionaires as a form of 'class welfare'. Speaking to conservative radio host Michael Berry, Tea Party Representative Allen West, a Republican from Florida and a Tea-Party icon, insisted that by calling to raise the tax burden on the wealthy, Mr Obama was intentionally harming the US economy because he was a 'Marxist' and a 'socialist'. And so apparently is Warren Buffett, the second-wealthiest person in America. After all, as Mr Obama explained, his proposal to make Americans such as Mr Buffett pay more of their income to the federal government was based on the advice he had received from that infamous Marxist,