Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Obama must abandon the change that we can no longer believe in.

Obama won easily in 2008, on the "change we can believe in" mantra. During the 2008 campaign and for a while after, we did believe. Obama can change D.C.; he can make it less partisan and a far more effective legislative body. Come 2011, unless he stops trying to change Washington, he is unlikely to be re elected.

By the "change we can believe in" Obama was attempting to portray a more bipartisan presidency. Presidents can be above the partisan, warfare like nature of Capitol Hill. The electorate must have thought this was ambitious, but also must have believed he was capable or he would not have been elected. Little did he and they realize how deeply the "beltway mentality" was engraved in each congressman’s head.

A positive and righteous message, so why abandon it? Remember the debt debacle barely one month ago. Obama, playing the role of the bipartisan mediator, insisting on compromises from both sides, did not portray a confident national leader. Bipartisanship was morally correct, but in reality he didn’t achieve much; and not achieving much is what he will be judged on in November next year

Obama shouldn't throw his morals out the window just yet, but definitely needs some "umph" as they say. Be decisive, commanding and ensure congress know that the childlike bickering over the debt ceiling is not acceptable behaviour for a national legislative body. The country needs significant action from a confident, convincing leader. Obama needs to take the country by the scruff of the neck and drag it away from its current anxiety. To achieve progress Obama must first challenge congress, as he is with his current jobs plan.

He should abandon the idea of "change” being bipartisan. Obama must show that he has a legislative agenda, and he can make congress pass it; irrelevant of whether far right GOP congressmen disapprove. Americans will want to see their president act like a leader they can trust and not give more speeches about what’s possible."Fine words butter no parsnips", Obama must prove he can butter the parsnips and rescue the country and its stagnant economy.

Friday, 9 September 2011

America should have acted like the bigger man

9/11 (2011) approaches and I am rather hopeful that our actions after this 11th September are significantly different to the last time that we had a year that ending in a "1".  

I am hoping they are different because I believe our actions were disproportionate, arguably wrong and unethical. Why so?

It would be disrespectful of me not to say that 9/11 was probably the worst crime, certainly of my generation and it should have been dealt with accordingly. The terrorists responsible should be prosecuted accordingly and if that means locking them up for a long time, then so be it. But ask yourself this, did the actions of that day really deserve two international wars, trillions of dollars spent on fighting an increasing number of insurgents, thousands of allied soldiers dead and far too many innocent Muslims dead or tortured. We not only over reacted, but the reaction was wrong.

I am going to explain why it was wrong or disproportionate, using a well known playground analogy, I hope you follow. In this analogy, I am the terrorists attacking the west, you are America/western world being attacked and the teacher is the peacekeeping UN. So metaphorically speaking, if I (the terrorists) approached you looking for attention, looking for a fight, so let’s say I poke you in the arm - in the real world, Al-Qaeda did this to the west in the form of 9/11. Under Bin Laden's vision of "Jihad", they attacked America's heartland, proclaiming that we want to be Holy warriors in Bin Laden's Holy War. They showed their frustrations that western forces are in so many of our Muslim countries, commonly killing innocent family or propping up corrupt regimes. 

You (America and the west) are now faced with two choices - in the form of human psychology or rational choice, what would you pick (hopefully rational choice)? Human psychology would be to fight back; nobody wants to be embarrassed in front of the rest of the playground (in this case the rest of the world). Or, more rationally and as we get told to do by parents and teachers, walk away and don't retaliate. Don't give me (the terrorists) what I am so clearly crave, attention and then a fight.

Sadly, and I think wrongly, America and rest of the west went on instinct or human psychology, and did what I would hope you or I would not. America retaliated on a massive scale, with what now looks like a rush of blood to the head. Within a month, America and the west had declared war on Afghanistan, fast forward two years and America and the west had declared another war, Iraq.  By declaring war, America has given Al-Qaeda a fight in the form of a Holy war and given them ten years of attention. It seems as though they didn't think to walk away and think about the next steps, not giving the terrorists a fight. They didn't listen to the teacher (UN), and walk away, refusing to be provoked. They didn't act like the bigger man.

However there are a couple of things to note. Firstly, Afghanistan and Iraq did continually provoke the west and it would have been very hard not to go to war. Afghanistan admitted to hiding Bin Laden but refused to hand him over. It could be argued that this forced America to go and find him. Did they have to declare war though; could they not have found him like they did in may? Iraq also provoked America to an extent. Saddam Hussein refused to let UN inspectors in and continued to ignore UN sanctions. Again though, he always maintained he never had nuclear weapons and to our current knowledge, he never did. The only evidence that ever said he did have weapons was found to be fake - see earlier post on Valerie Plame affair - Secondly, in my opinion the UN is not carrying out its role, if a country, even of America's stature, can declare war without approval. As a collective decision making body, the UN has a responsibility to stop countries retaliating irresponsibly. They should question the decision, like a responsible adult questions a child's decisions. Are you really sure you want to do this? Do you really want to get yourself in a very expensive, bloody fight that the opposition wants? The UN did do this for Libya, and the result was a so far, successful Arab spring.

To summarize, the reaction to 9/11 was always going to be difficult. 9/11 was so shocking and awful, that is was bound to cause a shocking reaction. No one likes to be attacked in their own backyard. But I think we over reacted (declared war. Our actions were irresponsible and reckless for countries claiming to be the world’s leading democratic nations

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones (or Molotov Cocktails in this case)

I don't usually read the Daily Mail, but I felt rather aggrieved after reading this story. But this post won't be me complaining and repeating all the angst about the riots and why the rioters are wrong, I will be instead offering an analysis of the political side of the crisis. Note that I do think that what the rioters are doing is wrong and they should all be dealt with by the criminal justice system.

If you didn't see the link or article, it says that some Labour MP's believe that the current conservative government spending cuts are to blame for the riots. It may well be the case, that a very small minority of rioters are actually angry with the effects of the public spending cuts. If this does turn out to be the case, I really do not believe any Labour MP's are in any position to be criticizing the government.

Labour is currently not in government, but if the current Tory government are to blame for these riots, then so is the previous Labour government. The years of Blair and Brown governments over spending and running up Billions of pounds of national debt is forcing the Tories into immediate action. The immediate action they chose is mainly public spending cuts. This particular method to tackling the debt and structural deficit may have been unpopular but they were forced to take some kind of immediate action by the previous Labour governments (or the country would be facing another fiscal crisis) - any other immediate financial action would probably have been just as unpopular as the cuts.

Having analysed this Labour argument that the cuts are to blame, you will hopefully conclude that actually Labour are just as much at fault as the current government. As explained the Labour governments overspending caused the current government to have to legislate for an immediate increase in national revenues - Conservatives chose public spending cuts - this forced legislation is now supposedly is causing the riots. This argument, when followed through, leads all the way back to the previous Labour government. I hope your surprised, because I'm not.

In summary, given the former Labour governments are just as much to blame for the riots, for current Labour MP's to try and shift all the blame onto the Conservatives is rather desperate and very, very misguided.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

John Lennon

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans"

Is the Arab Spring to be a false dawn?

The Arab Spring is now 6 months old. Since then Egypt, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have all followed Tunisia's lead. But have their protests come to fruition?

The best place to start to this argument, is to consider whether the protesters have achieved what they wanted. They had two very clear goals when these revolutions started: get rid of the dictators and implement a more democratic system. It should  be noted that it is hard to judge the Arab Spring's success as a whole, because each country has its own revolution which will have different goals, different sizes and different speeds of change.

It is true that in some places the first objective has definitely been achieved. Egypt has ousted Mubarak, Tunisia no longer have their former leader in charge and it looks as though it's only a matter of time for Qaddafi. Syria is not quite in the same situation, but they too will succeed eventually. It seems that many of the cruel, sometimes inhumane dictators have wilted under immense pressure and are no longer in power. But for the second objective, have they been replaced with anything better; a more democratic system?

From where I am sitting, it looks as though there are a lack of new democratic systems in the Middle East, caused by several important factors. Firstly in the countries with new leaders, the elections haven't been held yet. Part of me isn't surprised though, military generals do not have a particularly good reputation for handing over power legally and quickly. Another issue is what happens when they do hand over power. The Muslim brotherhood is likely to become a potent force in any Arab country's elections. As the people feel disillusioned and harshly treated by their former leaders, and as mostly Muslims populations, they may look to this party to support their views. There is a very strong possibility that if the Muslim brotherhood won the election, they would not implement a democratic system. Iran for example, a mostly Muslim country, has a system doesn't appear to be democratic, based on the protests about unfair elections. Similarly the Saudi Arabia system doesn't appear to be all that democratic. Lastly (I know this may be far fetched and we live in the 21st century) but in the past there have been occasions where worse leaders have risen to power in desperate situations. After WW1 for example Hitler rose to power, saying that he would get Germany out of crisis and back on its feet. Given the atrocities he committed and wars he caused, Germany may now regret allowing him to come to power. My point is that the Arab countries should think about its next leader or it may end up with a leader it later regrets.

This may appear to a very negative take on the situation, but so far there doesn't appear to be much progress on the democracy part of the revolution. Hopefully it's just be a longer process than we thought and in the next year or so, we will see democratic systems in many Arab countries; it will turn out I just spoke too soon.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Maybe the Tea Party wasn't such a good idea after all

To understand this argument, the best place to start is back in the 2010 mid terms, which provided a platform for many of the tea party  endorsed candidates. Candidates like Rand Paul won many elections around the country ousting the unpopular Democrat congressmen. The election result (a large victory for the GOP) was celebrated up and down the country, the electorate now had congressmen who were elected by the people, for the people. I am sure though that if they could have forseen the consequences of the Tea Party candidates being elected (the current US debt crisis) the mid terms may have been rather different.

I do however appreciate wholly blaming the debt crisis on the Tea Party would be unfair. Many Democrats are being ridiculously stubborn too. What annoys me most is that the Tea Party influence is putting the Tea Party backed GOP congressmen and senators in an impossible position.

The Tea Party are refusing to back any tax increases for the wealthy or any changes to the Bush tax cuts. The Tea Party congressmen therefore have to the same anti- tax increase line or they risk not getting re elected next year (many congressmen only won due to Tea Party backing). The result of this is that it becomes almost impossible to reach a deal. Democrats are demanding tax increases and GOP are demanding spending cuts. For any sustainable deficit reduction deal to be made, it will have to consist of both tax increases and spending cuts. Many GOP congressmen refuse to back any tax increases, due to the stance of the Tea Party; even though Obama and the Dems have agreed to spending cuts, demanded from the GOP.

Now in my mind, in order for a negotiation to be successful, you need a compromise. If one side, in this case the Tea Party refuse to compromise what so ever (like they have been doing for the last month), you can see why a deal between both sides becomes almost impossible; as seen by the fact the US has almost defaulted on its debt.

A resolution to the crisis will only be possible if the Tea Party stop acting like immature children and actually try to reach a deal, rather than promoting their own values. We will see whether this is the case when congress votes later this evening. Don't hold your breath though folks!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The United States and Sierra Leone - Two countries not a world apart

A bold headline I know, but I do feel it partially true. If you are wondering where an earth this idea comes from, the answer lies in a film - "fair game" - a good film at that, about the Valerie Plame affair during the Iraq war. During the film, a certain conversation resonated with me. A taxi driver from Sierra Leone mentioned that in his country, corruption is widespread because there is too much power at the top. He then went on to say that in America, the so called land of the free, this is not the case - to which another of the main characters replied that actually the two countries are "more similar than you would think".

In my opinion, this meant that the Plame affair highlighted that in America in particular, there was far too much executive power - an imperial presidency if you will. This is not just the fault of Obama, the presidency has been increasingly powerful, since the end of the Cold war.You only have to look to foreign policy to see how much power the president yields. Bush launched both the Iraq and Afghanistan war without congressional approval, Obama is fighting in Libya, where it could be argued he is ignoring the War Powers Act and Clinton signed many treaties like Kyoto for example without any ratification from congress.

I would not go as far to say that we now have corrupt regimes and we need a citizens revolution, but I do think that the president and the White House now hold an immense amount of power, possibly too much. Should this be the case in the worlds leading democracy? Maybe, they should try to flatten out the cracks in their own democracy, before trying to preach or impose democracy on other countries.

"Your greatest strength can be your greatest weakness"

One of Camerons greatest strengths definitely appears to be PR and public image. He has fought consistently to handle media pressure and tried to create positive publicity for the Big society, public spending cuts and major changes to the NHS for example. It hasn't always worked, but like Blair he handles media pressure well and always manages to get his message across. However, you shouldn't always assume that because you are good at something, you will never make mistakes or get it wrong. "Your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness".

Never has a statement been so true as with Cameron's appointment of Andy Coulson. Why is this the case? Well for someone so clever and thoughtful around media, communication and public relations, surely appointing someone who may have had a connection with a phone hacking scandal, was never going to end well? I am no expert on these matters, but I and experts around him, could all see that the Coulson appointment was likely to end in bad publicity.

Guess what? Bad publicity soon surrounded No10. Coulson has now been arrested in relation to the phone hacking scandal. Good thing Coulson resigned before the scandal broke, or this could have been even worse for No10.

Bin Laden's war

As we move swiftly towards the tenth anniversary of 9/11 and the first (and hopefully last) of the War on Terror, I think it may be valuable to take stock or evaluate what we have actually achieved.

The achievements in my eyes, come to very few. With Afghanistan clearly the focal point of the War on Terror, from the outside and information from the media, it does not appear to be much better off then when we arrived. Granted, the Taleban is probably slightly less influential, but the war lords are still powerful and losing trust in the coalition forces.The national and local governments appear rather weak, particularly in Helmand and suicide bombings (resulting in civilian deaths) appear to be commonplace. The country itself looks to be very unstable and in no state to support itself (even the president's brother was killed). Although the lack of progress could be partially down to the apparent corruption of Karzai,(rigging of elections) the Afghan leader. It must be said that the soldiers fighting are not to blame; putting their life on the line to make a safer Britain is admirable. But was invading Afghanistan ever going to make Britain a safer place?

The answer lies with Bin Laden's vision - an Afghan war would just make the world more unstable. The purpose of 9/1, for Bin Laden, was to provoke the west into a war they could not resist - Afghanistan. Bush and Blair quickly obliged, carelessly it now seems. For Bush in particular, after 9/11 he had the sympathy and backing of not only America but the world. The world would support America in eradicating terrorism. However the recklessness of the Afghanistan war was always likely to anger the Muslim communities, possibly causing a more wide scale war between Christians and Muslims. Not only this but the West was going to be drawn into a war they simply cannot win - as seen by the little progress achieved in ten years.

So, if the war in Afghanistan was never going to be won, then surely the War on Terror would never be won. If this is the case, then Britain may well not be any safer than before we invaded Afghanistan, terrorism would still remain potent. In fact, invading Afghanistan may lead to the eventual increase in anger and terrorism directed at the West.

So it now looks as though the aims of the west, after 9/11 - to win the War on Terror and make Britain and USA safer places - have so far not been accomplished. This, to me begs the question, what have we been doing for the past 10 years, if not completing our goals?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Miliband strikes first in Phone Hacking Scandal

So as everyone on the planet will now have seen, the NotW fiasco has taken hold. The issue is painting journalists and the police in a particularly bad light, but politicians are also becoming ever more involved. Now that politicians finally have an opportunity to not only break the previous close ties with Murdoch, they have an opportunity to take on the whole Murdoch press; most are seizing the opportunity - riding the wave of public opinion. Ed Miliband surprisingly enough is showing a degree of competence and is leading the charge, affirming strongly that News corp should be thoroughly investigated and are not "fit and proper" people to take full control over BksyB. So far, this seems to be the right stance to take, in the view of the public.

However the government, particularly Cameron are taking a rather different stance, that is; if they have a stance - hence explaining the first strike to Miliband. For starters Cameron seems to be shying away from the issue. He is making the occasional comment, but not really tackling the issue head on, shown by his absence today in the H.o.C. Cameron has changed tack, on whether there should be judicial and police inquiries and still isn't really acting decisively. Jeremy Hunt the culture secretary, also a member of the government also seems rather afraid to tackle the issue. His decision today to transfer the BskyB bid to the competition commission instead of debating it in parliament, suggests to me he is scared to debate and make a decision on the issue.

Why they seem to be avoiding the issue is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. Is Cameron fearing consequences for the coalition or is he just scared of making the wrong decision? Or does he feel that his involvement with Andy Coulson (formerly in charge of No10's communications), may associate him with the scandal and therefore doesn't want to deride the issue too much, in fear of turning public opinion against himself?  What is clear though, is that the public feel angered at Murdoch's press in particular, and would like to not only see the criminals involved prosecuted, but see the government show with authority that this illegal press activity will not be tolerated ever again.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

A political elite

Having seen US politics and British politics, there seems to be a  obvious and crucial difference, which currently appears to be benefiting America’s political system – the reputation of politicians.
As many of you may agree, I prefer the British political system, but I do not prefer the British politicians. It seems obvious that the US politicians are far more tribal and less compromising  (US debt crisis) – I’m not sure you will ever get a coalition style of government in the US, like we have seen in the UK. Similarly, I don’t think that you would ever get a gridlock of government in the UK, as seen in the US. The British system works and possibly the USA system does not always work. However the American politicians have a far better reputation, but why?
In my view,the answer lies the British politicians being politicians. Looking across the Atlantic, there seems to be a situations where being a politician isn’t as demeaning as it is in Britain. From what I understand, the status quo in the US is that the congressmen are often already familiar with their constituents by the time they become congressman. They almost certainly will have worked in that geographical area for years, becoming aware of the needs of that constituency. It must be noted though, that this is partly made possible though, because of the weakness of the US parties. The election system which involves primaries, means elections particularly candidate centered, and therefore they need to win votes from their constituency – how do they do that? Well they listen and do what’s requested of them, or they wont get reelected, even if they are popular within the party
So, return back to Britain, and these important differences become obvious. A common phrase used to describe the problem is a “political elite”. This has come around, because people genuinely feel like politicians are out of touch with the public, which evidently isn't the case in the USA. Maybe the more important question though, is why are politicians so out of touch? Well sadly, in this country, politics is now a career choice. MP’s, in particular will have entered politics early and not worked in their constituency, they are unaware of the real needs of the community until their election campaign. The MP’s aren’t local business men and women and have not been based in this area for years, and so the people begin to feel they don’t really know their representatives. Now it must be said that, contrary to the US, the British political parties are strong in Britain.The parties have far more control over candidates, they are placed in constituents where parties want them to be, they may have never been to this location before and they are whipped to vote along party lines – occasionally against their constituency wishes.

Sadly, its a "no to change" not a "no to AV"

As anyone who is remotely aware of the news, the country overwhelmingly voted “no to AV” yesterday. I however, beg to differ, in the majority of cases, you haven’t seen “no to AV” but the electorate, saying “You haven’t bloody told me what AV is, how can I vote for it?”. 
Now you may be thinking, well actually I do know what I want, and this just isn’t it. Well, I don’t buy that argument either.
Lets go back a year/year and a half, as you will all remember, this was the age of “the expenses scandal”. The public had just found out that the vast sum of tax they pay, was being spent of adult films or duck houses. As predicted, anger swept across the country, we had been let down by the people we trusted most - our mandaated representatives.
Closer to my point, following this came one of the most over used cliché’s of the last year and one which clearly isn’t true after the rejection of another voting system - “disillusioned with politics”. Now, I may be reading into this wrong, but when i think of people being so unhappy about something, that they have become “disillusioned”, I think its fairly safe to assume they might just want a change from the status quo. In fact people were demanding changes to politics as well - evidently reflected in the rather unpredictable 2010 election result.
So why does all of this matter, well yesterday’s referendum result shows one of two things, people either dont want change (i strongly doubt this),or more likely,they just didn’t understand the significance of the referendum. 
You don’t have to know an awful lot about politics, to know that yes the vote was about changing the voting system to a relatively knew, slightly altered version of the current system - which does have its flaws. But this is besides the point. People just didn’t understand the implications of a  ”yes to AV” result yesterday.
As explained, we would have a different system, but this was the biggest chance to change and influence the future of politics, in at least one generation, more likely 3 or 4 (the Lib Dem’s wont regain people’s trust for a rather long while - doesn’t require an expert to see that). This may appear to be only a mere change in the voting system, but actually, by political standards, this would have been a hell of a change. And as with any institution, if you change the system, the people in the system (politicians) have to change and adapt to survive. Now when people ranting and begging about disillusionment and needing to change politics, when an opportunity actually comes around, (for example;should we change the whole political system?) we should say yes. But we didn’t we said no, and a resounding no at that.
Why did people say no to this opportunity for change. Its actually simple, people saw the negative ramifications of AV -partly due to the fact there wasn’t really much of a yes campaign (surprising given this was the Lib Dems only thing they could keep in the coalition) - but not the positive consequences. Mainly, within the foreseeable future, we probably would have voted for a fully PR system and replace AV anyway, so no need to worry about how rubbish AV is. However, the result yesterday means this is unlikely to happen for a long time, due to the fact that the Lib Dems are the only ones who are pushing for electoral reform, and they probably wont have this much power again for a very long time. Most importantly, the electorate didn’t understand that this the biggest and only chance for change, for the next 50 years at least. And, isn’t it change we wanted in the first place?

Is there really class in "El Clasico" ?

Laugh if you will, but after watching the latest edition of El Clasico, I just couldn’t help but show my disappointment. Let me explain…
El Classico then, well  you only have to go to its very own wiki page(first result on google) to find that it is the most followed football match in the world. It is obvious to see why; a fantastic rivalry between two parts of the country, that goes far beyond football (supposedly as representing political viewpoints). And the quality of the teams and football probably has a part to play as well. 
So, given the matches are so symbolic, the matches must be an exemplary performance of what a football match should be. WRONG.
Having seen both Barca and Real play each other a fair few times, i am saddened as both a sportsman and football fan. The art of gamesmanship (asking for other players to be booked) seems to have gone way too far. Now I am the first to accept that this too happens in the premier league - but no way near this scale. At the max, 1 or 2 players may ask for a card to be brandished, and this may happen once or twice. But in El Clasico, this art goes much much further - it seems the role of the team to complain to the ref, mostly on a rota, but occasionally (tonight) all at the same time (not to mention, what the hell is the ref supposed to do? ( either book them all, or knock them all out (all 22)). When the whole team becomes involved, it rather turns into a  pub brawl, with inevitable dismissals - rather resembling a playground fight.
Now I don't know about you, but I dont think that a pub brawl deserves the title of greatest and most followed match on earth -  El Clasico

Rudyard Kipling’s “If” Poem

If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same

Libya, A dangerous precedent?

Libya then, well as with any conflict, there are many questions that need to be answered - but I think the most important, is the same question arising from any situation; what happens next?
What do I mean by this, well we all have opinions as to whether or not we should even be there in the first place? We all have differing opinions about what exactly are we there for? Although we are there to officially to protect civilians, it could be argued we are therefor “regime change” again. 
The fact is though, we are there now and we are there for good with missiles, ships and planes etc. The biggest concern for the allied forces though, is what precedent does this set? If we are there to protect civilians from being slaughtered by Qadafi, then I fully support our presence, but what message exactly are we sending to these dictators and their respective countries.There is already the beginnings of another uprising in Bahrain and it is definitely possible that Yemen or Saudi Arabia may follow suit. By invading Libya, are we saying that we will support any protesters who wish to rid an evil dictator? Are we only going to intervene if protesters are campaigning for the western model of democracy? Are we saying that we are no longer willing to support dictators who give us oil? Maybe you can answer more accurately than me?
The current situation in Libya is intriguing, but what happens when Qadafi is inevitably defeated, will be particularly unpredictable? Will the allied forces pull out of the middle east completely or will they remain there and help other revolutions in Yemen or Bahrain?
And who knows, if these types of revolution spread as far as the repressive regimes in the far East like China and Burma for example, do the west support the protesters again? Do we risk damaging our valuable relationship with China? (almost certainly the next big global superpower)

The 2011 election and 2012, The Year of Obama (again)

The title of this post may appear wrong or totally peculiar to anyone knowing anything about American politics. Let me explain - I think the excitement, regarding the next presidential election will be this year (2011), 2012 will be a victory parade for Obama, in my opinion.
It  now  looks like one of the GOP candidates, has finally started the race - Gingrich has set up an exploratory fund raising committee - the other candidates should follow suit. And given the first GOP presidential debates are in May, the candidates should declare their intentions soon.  
The fact that all that there are so many GOP candidates who all seem to lack at least one for a presidential quality and the fact there is no clear front runner, the battle for the GOP nomination should be exciting. You do get the feeling though, that the winner may be the “best of the worst” - in other words a negative result. 
The GOP primaries are bound to be tense and close (exciting); but as long as Obama doesn’t invade an undeserving and innocent Asian country (like Bush junior), find himself in a sex scandal (Clinton) or bring the federal government to a standstill - the general election should be a walkover. In fact, there is no guarantee that which ever candidate does win the GOP nomination will win all of the GOP grass roots support; as the party is so fragmented currently due to the Tea Party. If they cant ensure they have the full support of their own party, do they really stand a chance of winning the many independents, who will probably decide the election. I doubt it!

The Magic of the FA cup?

Listening to 606 last night; with the legendary Robbie Savage, and another bloke who’s sole purpose seemed to be winding up every caller, brought to my attention that the hot topic at the moment, is the question of seeding the FA cup.
There are strong cases either way. In the case for keeping the FA cup format the same, and not changing to a seeded cup, is simple - the smaller clubs, like Crawley for example, deserve a chance to get to the final. If the tournament were seeded, they would undoubtedly have to beat a top premier league side. This is unlikely to happen, and so the chance of a magical FA cup final, is substantially diminished. But would this system take away the magic of the FA cup?
Well in my opinion, its a no. To me, the FA cup is all about the smaller teams getting a one time only only day out to a big ground - Old Trafford, the Emirates etc. I think that if the smaller clubs win the early rounds, then come the 5th or 6th round, they deserve to have a money making day and fixture against a big team. The seeding would ensure this happens, as well as ensuring that the premier league teams don’t play each other, ridiculously early. 
To this, you may say that this gives smaller teams no chance of getting to the final and winning, which is what makes the cup special. Well, to me, the smaller teams know they wont get to the final; they just want the experience and money making opportunity of playing a big team. Lets face it, a premier league team wins the competition 9/10 times anyway, so would we actually be losing out ? I know the smaller clubs wouldn’t be.
Feedback would be much appreciated!!

Irony in the search for Democracy in the Middle East

As you will know, the past 20 years has been littered with American attempts to force democracy among the so called “failed states” or “rogue states” - Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria etc.
Obviously these American attempts seem to have failed so far, proving that countries really must find democracy for themselves - which funnily enough is exactly what’s happening. 
It will in the short term have negative effects in the form of destabilising the region (and probably Americans supply of oil, but i cant say im sad about that - that much destruction in a region deserves punishment).
In my opinion, the long term positives far outweigh these negatives. They should end up with some form of democracy, at least more representative than the systems in place now. 
So where is the irony - well Americans have been pushing for this so called gem of a political system (democracy) to be instated in the middle east for decades (with no success), but the power of the people seems to be the mechanism for change, not pre-emptive wars - which i feel is how it should be.

French proverb

One meets their destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it

Sarah Palin - out of this world ?

Sarah Palin, definitely the talking point of American Politics currently - may i just say that in almost any other democratic country she wouldn’t have a chance at the presidency, far too extreme - but in the land of opportunity, well anything is possible.
Much has been written of the middle aged wonderwoman from Alaska, but none more accurate than an article a couple weeks ago. Someone clearly against the rise of Palin described her arrival as that of a meteorite, and on reflection I would have to agree.
Firstly, for an American, she seems to be rather clueless about American history and heritage - naming the founding fathers is like potty training, but no one seems to care she gets it wrong. Secondly, she seems to have hit political scene rather quickly, somewhat clumsily and as if unnoticed previously. She has very little political experience - governor of Alaska - not really the qualifications for presidency. And finally, she seems to be someone that nobody can seem to judge quite where she is going or what she is going to do next - either dangerous or refreshing for a politician.
In my opinion, if history is anything to go by,then she is a bad sign. For the only time a meteorite has successfully collided with earth, it wiped out all living species. If Mrs Palin becomes president of the most powerful country and economy in the world, somewhere down the line, someone may ask - why is America the only country with people in it?  To which we reply, the meteorite hit and wiped out everything.

Wikileaks - with great power comes great responsibility!!

Watching an bog standard piece of investigative journalism (panorama) has brought to my attention the idea that Wikileaks may have gone too far, or has it just been getting bad press.
My issue is not with Julian Assinge, make what you will of him, for yourself, but how he and Wikileaks have acted in their powerful position.
I like most other humans aware of the concept of democracy, treasure it and know that good government is crucial to any nation hoping for a democracy. For a long time, government have kept secrets from us, involving wars, killings or arrests - Abu Grahib for example - no one would have known was it not for transparency and freedom of information. On this level, we owe a huge debt to Wikileaks - we now know about Americans killing innocent Iraqi civilians with helicopters.
Wikileaks has had  particularly bad press, but for me, its because Wikileaks has gone too far - beyond reasonable limits, if you will. To be publishing any documents revealing informants identities or details of anyone working for the allied forces - well that’s just a death wish.
I support what they are doing, but anyone with that amount of information and power, has to act responsibly. It could be argued that government’s haven’t set a good example of how to deal with information - America invaded Iraq based on false information- Wikileaks now has its chance to show how to deal with information and power responsibly. Can they prove that this much transparency is a good thing?