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Tag Archives: Barack Obama

It could only happen in America. Or could it?

Six months out from both the US and Australian elections the polls were adamant that the incumbent administrations were doomed.

At home, Tony Abbott was rubbing his hands with glee at the certain prospect of a permanent move to Canberra.

In America last year, six months out from their election the opinion polls and much of the media were suggesting that President Barack Obama looked destined for only one term of office. America was in damage control and his popularity was plummeting to new lows. In May we saw that:

. . . polls indicate President Obama is trailing his Republican opponent Mitt Romney. The Rasmussen poll shows a 47 to 45 percent race with Republicans enjoying a 7 point lead in a congressional generic ballot. Meantime, the newest CBS News/ New York Times poll shows the president trailing Romney 46 to 43 percent among registered voters. The economy remains the most important issue to voters, with 62 percent voters and most Americans (67 percent) believing the economy is in bad shape, all troubling signs for the president. Romney leads the president among independents and women. The president had been leading with women last month in this poll.

They showed a commanding lead lead to Romney. If the election was held in May Obama would have been swept from office. But just three months later, as the polling day in November drew closer there was witnessed a sharp swing towards him.

Barack Obama has opened a significant lead over Mitt Romney in a Bloomberg National Poll that reflects the presumed Republican nominee’s weaknesses more than the president’s strengths.

Obama leads Romney 53 percent to 40 percent among likely voters, even as the public gives him low marks on handling the economy and the deficit, and six in 10 say the nation is headed down the wrong track, according to the poll conducted June 15- 18.

If voters considered that Obama hadn’t handled the economy and was heading the nation down the wrong track, why then did they favour him over Mitt Romney? Sampling of the people who were polled provided us with the answer. It was, simply, Romney’s irreparable image:

A majority of likely voters, 55 per cent, view him as more out of touch with average Americans.

He hasn’t fulfilled a lot of his campaign promises, but I would vote for him (Obama) anyway because Romney would be extremely destructive for this country.

His perspective is you just let the free market take care of everything, and we’ll go right down the toilet drain, and everything — all the jobs — will go straight to Asia.

I think the guy is a little bit out of touch, because he has too much money to understand what a guy like me deals with.

It was crunch time for Romney at home. It was not much better for him on the international stage:

The British were offended, the Palestinians accused him of racism and even in friendlier Poland, Mitt Romney’s union policies drew criticism from the current leaders of the movement that toppled communism.

Romney’s visit to Britain, Israel and Poland was never expected to produce the same media frenzy as then-candidate Barack Obama’s extravagant, eight-country tour of 2008.

Obama received rock star treatment from international media and world leaders as he travelled from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to the glittering chancelleries of Europe.

Nevertheless, comparisons were inevitable and much of it was less than favourable to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

“The designated Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wanted to demonstrate foreign policy expertise and diplomatic skills with his trip to Britain, Israel and Poland,” the Swiss newspaper Tages-Zeitung said Tuesday. “Today, on the last day of the tour, he must be made to admit that he clearly missed this target.”

Despite their previous history of perceived arrogance and assumptions that the rest of the world can be damned, it seems Americans now expect their leader to stand tall on the international stage. Romney doesn’t.

It was clear that as the election loomed on the horizon the blowtorch was finally applied to the alternative President and people were seriously taking a long hard look at the challenger. After a long period of condemnation towards Obama they eventually turned their glare to Romney. When it counted – on the eve of the election – they were expressing doubts about having a President who was out of touch with them, who had no understanding of the issues faced by them, who was unable to generate a feeling of trust and security, and who would not represent them proudly on the international stage.

That’s what happened in America.

In Australia, many of us in the Fifth Estate similarly see in Tony Abbott a person who is out of touch, who has no understanding of the issues we face, who is unable to generate a feeling of trust and security, and who would not represent us proudly on the international stage. Our glare has been fixed for some time, but as the election here looms closer will the public and media blowtorch finally be applied to him.

I have no doubt that, if it is, he will quickly go the way of Mitt Romney. In the year leading up to their respective elections they have traveled similar paths. The stand out is their shared value of being out of touch with the average voter.

The international expectations of being Prime Minister of Australia certainly are not the same league as being President of the United States, however, that should mean nothing to the Australian voters who will be more likely to vote on local issues. At home, to quote Douglas Evans:

To me we stand on the brink of a social/political/economic/environmental catastrophe of unparalleled proportions.

In Tony Abbott we have an unusual case. He is against every social, environmental and economic reform imaginable. Surely this is an indication that he is out of touch with much of the electorate.

How out of touch? Let’s consider some of the issues:

Same-sex marriage: Mr Abbott has said marriage is between a man and a woman not just to fulfill their own personal happiness ”but because we have obligations to the children that come with families”.

Homosexuality: Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott has defended comments he made about homosexuality on 60 Minutes, saying gays and lesbians “challenge” the order of things.

Mr Abbott said he felt “threatened” by homosexuality on the program, a comment that has angered the gay and lesbian community and something he tried to back track from during an interview on the ABC.

“There is no doubt that it (homosexuality) challenges, if you like, orthodox notions of the right order of things” Mr Abbott told Lateline.

Abortion: “Christians aren’t required to right every wrong in the political arena, but they can help change the nation’s culture, suggests Tony Abbott despite the debt that political institutions owe to the West’s Christian heritage, there is the constant claim that Christians in politics are confused about the separation of church and state. There’s also a tendency among Christians in the community to think that Christians in politics have to sell out their principles in order to survive. Christian politicians are often warding off simultaneous accusations that they are zealots or fakes. Indeed, the public caricature of a Christian politician is hypocrite or wuss, in denial about the ruthlessness and expediency necessary to wield power, or too sanctimonious to be effective. Take the challenge of abortion. The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience”.

Boat people: Tony Abbott claimed boatpeople were acting in an un-Christian manner. So is sinking the boats.

Euthanasia: “Legalising euthanasia in Australia would put elderly people at risk of being “bumped off”, federal Health Minister Tony Abbott has warned, after an Australian man traveled to Switzerland to legally end his life”.

The needy: “We can’t abolish poverty because poverty in part is a function of individual behaviour”.

Women’s rights: Tony Abbott warns women against sex before marriage. And how about this brain fart: “I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons”.

Recognition of Indigenous culture: “Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that . . . Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage”.

Climate change: As a climate denier, Tony Abbott is most famous for his statement that climate science is “absolute crap“. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg – he actually has a long history of denying climate change science. “The fact that we have had if anything cooling global temperatures over the last decade, not withstanding continued dramatic increases of carbon dioxide emissions, suggests the role of CO2 is not nearly as clear as the climate catastrophists suggest.”

Technology: “There is no way on God’s earth that we need to be spending $50 billion plus of borrowed money on what is going to turn out to be a telecommunications white elephant – school halls on steroids.”

Foreign investment: Tony Abbott made headlines recently when during a visit to China, he declared that “it would rarely be in Australia’s national interest to allow a foreign government or its agencies to control an Australian business”.

In other words: foreign direct investment by such entities would not be welcome.

Divorce: Liberal Party frontbencher Tony Abbott wants laws toughened up to make divorce harder. The opposition families and Aboriginal affairs spokesman has called for a return to the fault-based system of divorce discarded in 1975, which was replaced by a “no-fault” system. Mr Abbott’s plan, outlined in his book Battlelines, would see a grounds for divorce reintroduced, including adultery, cruelty, habitual drunkenness and imprisonment. It would be similar to the defunct Matrimonial Causes Act.

Pensioners: “Tony Abbott’s Liberals have re-confirmed they will claw back hundreds of dollars from Australian pensioners. The Member for Curtin, Julie Bishop confirmed on Channel 10 Breakfast that an Abbott Government will rip away the latest increase to the pension – $338 a year for single pensioners on the maximum rate and $510 a year for pensioner couples on the maximum rate”.

Low paid workers: “The Coalition has today confirmed that they would re-impose a 15 per cent tax on Australia’s lowest paid workers (earning below $37,000) including 2.1 million women”.

Democracy: In his address to the National Press Club this week he told us he likes democracy and: “Government is important – my colleagues and I are in the parliament because it matters and because we care about our country – but, in a democracy, the people must come first”.

Yes, of course. That’s why he has tried every trick in the book to bring down a duly elected Government; a Government he calls “illegitimate”, “inherently unstable” and “toxic” to name a few.

Small business: “Tony Abbott has confirmed that the Liberals will cut vital tax breaks for Australia’s more than two million small business men and women if elected in September. Mr Abbott has pledged to scrap the instant asset tax write-off, which allows small businesses to claim a deduction for the full value of each new asset costing up to $6,500 after one year”.

With such a suite of archaic views he belongs in a museum, not politics.

According to the opinion polls Tony Abbott now has a more formidable opponent. But this might mean zilch if the blowtorch isn’t applied to him like it was to Romney in the latter stages of the US campaign. As noted above, 55 percent viewed him as being out of touch with average Americans. Locally, how many Australians would consider Abbott to be out of touch with them if Abbott’s views (above) were given more prominence in the media?

The other big move against Romney was the perceived embarrassment he would cause on the international stage. Abbott is more safe in that regards. As yet he hasn’t had the opportunity to make a global fool of himself. It’s up to the Australian voters to decide if they think he would.

Personally, I think there is enough evidence mounting that Abbott will continue down Romney’s path: One that started out leading to the highest office in the land to one that did a U-turn at the last minute. The key of course, is dependent on Australians seeing in Tony Abbott the same as Americans saw in Mitt Romney those negative aspects that they ignored for so long, until it mattered. I will repeat them: a person who is out of touch, who has no understanding of the issues we face, who is unable to generate a feeling of trust and security, and who would not represent us proudly on the international stage.

Could it only happen in America?

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Rupert, check your letter box; you’ve got mail

The letter from Dick Smith to Mr Williams, CEO of News Limited in Australia that we published here under Murdoch Censorship Gives the Lie to ‘Freedom of Speech’ Claims went – to use a modern internet term – viral. Dick Smith has since been widely commended for having the guts to take the fight to one of the most influential, powerful, and many would say, ‘corrupt’ individuals in the world. It’s unheard of in this country for anyone to stand up to Rupert Murdoch. None of our politicians can do it. To do so would see the end of their political careers.

Dick Smith had nothing to lose. He’s successful in his own right and doesn’t rely on Rupert Murdoch to survive. But there are people whose careers are, or can be destroyed by Rupert Murdoch and they are also putting pen to paper. They all have something to lose. They all sacrifice their livelihood for having the courage to tell the truth.

I have found three such letters (of the dozens) written over the years. One from an Australian businessman – the typical Aussie battler; one from a British politician; and one from an American journalist. Let’s start with the Aussie, Michael Atwell, Managing Director of For Sale For Lease.

Mr.K.R.Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corporation.

1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10036. USA.

Dear Rupert Murdoch,

I wonder if you are aware that one of your many companies which is in a monopolistic position in Australia is attempting to kill a number of small but progressive companies in the real estate sector? Companies that are saving Australians money when homes are sold? Companies whose progressive hardworking owners, working families, may well be bankrupted and broken by your actions?

BuyMyPlace, ForSaleForLease and PropertyNow are three internet based companies which have been successful in enabling home owners to sell their own homes and avoid the fees and commissions charged by traditional real estate agents. Realestate.com.au is by far the most important website available in Australia, by its own admission nineteen times the size of its nearest competitors. Mr. Murdoch you own Realestate.com.au. Your company is refusing to renew contracts for BuyMyPlace, ForSaleForLease, Property Now and a number of similar companies which will remove them from the market and strangle their livelihood. Why is this happening Mr. Murdoch? Could it be that these efficient progressive companies who save money for the average Australian are cutting into the wonderful income of the fat cats of the real estate industry? An industry which spends millions of dollars of their clients’ money placing advertisements in your newspapers? An industry which your company is trying to privately regulate to the benefit of traditional real estate agents, evidenced by the presence of two prominent real estate agents on the board of your company Realestate.com.au?

There will no doubt be an ACCC enquiry into the conduct of your company, and it may well be that in due time it’s actions will be judged harsh and inappropriate. In the meantime nearly one thousand Australians who are in the process of selling their homes will be significantly disadvantaged. Young working families who have done nothing wrong will lose their livelihoods, and the opportunity for Australians to follow the international trend known as FSOB, or for sale by owner, will suffer a severe setback in order to protect the sometimes exorbitant commissions of traditional estate agents.

It is very disappointing to witness your company using the considerable clout of your organization to strangle small progressive companies who are delivering a real advantage for average Australians. Mr. Murdoch there is still time for you to step in and prevent this grossly unfair action. Please do so.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Atwell

And next is this very damning letter from Tom Watson, the Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East (UK).

Mr Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and CEO
News Corporation
1211 Avenue of Americas
New York
NY 10036

18 September 2012

Dear Mr Murdoch,

As you know, I have been uncovering criminality at News International for several years. During which time, the company’s management has regularly asked me to provide evidence of its habitual criminality. I have resisted such requests, as I did not believe they were sincere. It was my belief that senior people at the company knew perfectly well about journalists being involved in phone hacking, computer hacking, bribery and blackmail. And that the company had no wish to deal with these problems – did not even see them as such – rather to know what evidence existed in order to destroy it, to muddy the trail, in short, to cover up. For these reasons, I have resisted passing on evidence to you, and have passed it solely to the law enforcement authorities instead.

Nevertheless, I am writing to you today because I believe it may be possible that that era may be drawing to a close. I believe it possible that you and the current executives at the company may have realised that it is now too late to cover up what has gone on at News International. Whether or not you, and your executives, knew about the widespread use within News International of the latest investigative technique to be revealed – burglary – I believe you may now realise that the flat denial and attempt to destroy evidence of previous days will no longer wash with anybody.

I have seen a document from the hard drive of private investigator Sid Fillery, a regular contractor at News International through his company, Southern Investigations. The document, entitled “Alex1.doc” refers to a request for a sortie into the home of a woman living in Ascot. The hard drive was seized by the police in 2002 and is still in their possession. I understand that it was reviewed by the police in 2010 and that an internal document at the Metropolitan Police states quite clearly that they believe the file shows a conspiracy to break and enter into private property. Further details are on the front page of The Independent today.

You might not also be aware that a number of high profile figures who were the victims of phone hacking also reported mysterious break-ins at their homes. The pattern is the same: the homes clinically entered but no valuables taken. My colleague, Chris Bryant was so concerned that his home had been covertly entered that he reported the matter to the police. I understand the Metropolitan Police dispatched Commander Yates to take the statement. I understand the file containing the statement has gone missing.

I have audio testimony from the undercover former police officer with intimate knowledge of Southern investigations who claims that the burglary of the homes of MPs was a regular occurrence.

I am also aware, through the lawyer of a hacking victim, that there is testimony from another former private investigator that he was regularly hired to break into the homes of individuals who were the subject of investigation by News International. At the present time the investigator is not prepared to speak out in public.

This evidence has come to light after the Leveson Inquiry has stopped taking evidence. I think it important that you make a public statement to clarify how you intend to deal with these startling new revelations and how you will assist the police with their investigation.

Shortly, I will also be writing to you confidentially about information I have received from a former employee of the company regarding the conduct of former News of the World journalist and now Sunday Times investigator, Mazher Mahmood.

If there is any integrity at all to your claims to want to clean up the corruption and criminality endemic in your company, perhaps you would act on the evidence I am adducing. Public re-assurance that this matter is being dealt with would be welcome.

I would be grateful for a swift reply to this letter.

Yours sincerely

Tom Watson

And finally one from American journalist Trish Nelson whose professional career would have been on tenterhooks since penning this letter:

Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and Chief Executive
News Corporation
1211 Avenue of Americas
8th Floor
NY, NY 10036

Dear Mr. Murdoch:

I am writing to you because I understand you own and control a large number of newspapers, television stations and other kinds of media outlets.

I have been sickened and saddened by the choices your news organizations have made to show, over and over, on TV, horrible, hate inspired images against President Obama, and people carrying signs with messages of violence.

You are taking advantage of a few sad, ignorant people, who don’t know any better, because they believe Fox News and people like Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly care about them and are telling them the truth. They don’t understand that these people are just doing what they do because they are TV and radio personalities. The people in those crowds don’t understand that they are being used, and the ideas that they are supporting are actually harmful to them. This is not right.

Do you do this for the money? How much money do you and yours need? Are you trying to start full-blown civil unrest so that you can make even more money?

Do you have any idea what it is like out here, having to live and work alongside people who are so horribly misinformed about how the world works? Who actually believe Obama was not born in this country, who actually believe in death panels, who actually believe President Obama is the equivalent of Adolph Hitler and is someone to be feared? They get these ideas from your media organizations.

And it makes them dangerous and sick on an individual level.

Maybe you have the right to do whatever you want, but you are hurting people in our country, and I would like you and your stations to start showing some restraint before one of these individuals thinks they are doing the right thing by actually committing an act of violence.

Trish Nelson
Iowa City, Iowa

P.S. I would also be interested to know the reason why one million anti-war protesters did not deserve any TV time at all, but a few thousand tea-baggers and anti-Obama, anti-health care people deserve so much?

Rupert, check your letter box; you’ve got mail. Hate mail. The hate you spread is finally coming home to roost.

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