Please check out my latest article up at Aslan about divisions in American political culture. It is the first in a two part series.
Watching the first presidential debate last week, Americans may be forgiven for losing sight of the differences between the candidates in the details. Republican candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama managed to agree both on broad themes and policy specifics. When asked about their understanding of the role of government, both heralded foremost our military and our education system. The military is usually the darling of the Republicans, education the sweetheart of the Democrats. But here they were, Romney declaring, “I love great schools!” (see this graphic for all of Romney’s loves), Obama touting his role as Commander-in-Chief, and both nodding in approval of the other across the split screen. Moreover, thanks to some significant backtracking on Romney’s part, they were also in agreement not just about funding for schools, but also about taxing the rich, the importance of regulations, and even healthcare mandates. Read the rest here!
My latest piece is now available for reading here. It is part of my just-launched column at Aslan Media!
As is often the case, Israel is dominating the discourse on US foreign policy. In the last week or so, there has been renewed debate about the viability of the “two-state solution” with the Palestinian Authority once again on the verge of financial collapse, the posting of bigoted ads in New York City subway stations equating Israel with civilized man and its resistors with savages, the almost monotonous warmongering over Iran, and the release of a surreptitiously taped video of Mitt Romney dismissing not only 47 percent of Americans but also the Palestinians, their leadership, and the peace process to boot. The annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly offered another chance for world leaders and their eager followers in the media to debate/discuss/dissect Israel in US foreign policy. I am personally staggered when an American president, with our men and money operating at war in another country, mentions Israel five times more than Afghanistan in his speech to the UN. Read the rest here!
In my latest article for Aslan Media, I’ve written about the brief shift of focus towards foreign policy and the subsequent return to domestic issues in the presidential campaigns. As I hope to show, the domestic focus is an ever-increasing trend among the American public.
When Michael C. Hudson and I began penning an article on the foreign policy implications for the Middle East under the next presidential administration, we wanted to underscore an issue neglected in a campaign season defined by the economy. Soon enough, our issue and region of choice were brought to the forefront by the shocking deaths of American diplomats in Libya and the rapid spread of small-scale but dramatic demonstrations outside US embassies throughout the Muslim world. It is an unfortunately sensational storyline. Featured are an anti-Semitic/Islamic fraudulent expat, a soft-core porn director, and a preacher of vitriol on the one hand, and opportunistic politicians maximizing the anti-Western sentiment of their (in some cases overly-militarized-thanks-to-the-West) followers. Add to that an exploitative Republican presidential candidate, significant Islamophobia, and a deleterious 24-hour news cycle, and we have a production nearly as distasteful as the film that started it all. Read the rest here!
In this article, Michael C. Hudson and I discuss the foreign policy implications of a Romney or Obama presidency. Please read it on Al Jazeera English!
If you have been following the presidential campaigns lately, you would be excused for missing the candidates’ ideas about foreign policy. America is still conducting the longest war in its history, is witnessing a shift in global power eastwards, is apparently impotent in the face of an imminent collapse of the Eurozone, is paying historically high commodity prices, and is standing by as the Middle East transforms. But in both the Republican and Democratic Party conventions, all that and more seemed to matter little in the face of one thing: the Economy. But foreign policy also matters, especially in a global environment that is challenging American hegemony; and Middle East policy matters a lot – a region important not just for its oil but because it is undergoing seismic social and political transformations. Read the rest here!
Please check out my latest article on the centrality (and reality) of Ohio in the presidential campaigns on Aslan Media:
“Are you listening in Michigan and Ohio?” asked Bill Clinton during his notable speech at the Democratic National Convention this week. He wanted to ensure that Ohioans heard him loud and clear when he announced the “job score” that came out of the auto industry restructuring enacted by President Obama at the start of his term: “Obama, 250,000. Romney, 0.”
If Ohioans failed to hear this particular appeal, they surely could not have missed the 31 other times their state was mentioned during the three nights of the Democratic National Convention. Even if they were not tuned in to the party conventions of the last two weeks, they will still have been on the receiving end of the unprecedented 400 television ads per day, or 16 per hour, with which both campaigns are flooding the state. And if Ohioans want something more personal, then they can walk out their doors and catch one of the two presidential candidates who visit their state almost every week. During campaign season, Washington has an unabashed love affair with a place usually derisively referred to as flyover country. As in most affairs, the suitor has one goal in mind. Read the rest here!
It’s not that national party conventions are entirely irrelevant. Amidst all the pomp and circumstance are significant theatrical displays that reveal forged alliances, potential cabinet picks, and stymied aspirations. But because the party’s nominee is already a given before convening, and no longer decided by debating delegates at the time of the gathering, national party conventions have lost most of their technical and practical usefulness. Other norms, like lobbying on the physical lobby floor of the Capitol Building, have also become rather obsolete in our matured political system. We may have thought that contending for fair voting rights across class and racial lines was also among the remnants of politics past. But on the same day that Mitt Romney was soliciting Americans for their votes, a federal district court had to strike down a Texas law that would impose “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor” and minority voters. That was just the latest development in a nationwide battle over voting rights. *Read the rest of this article here.
For a couple of hours last Saturday, the Tea Party gathered in downtown Cleveland for a rally entitled “Occupy the Truth.” Yes, the Tea Party was operating under the banner of their apparent rivals, the Occupy Movement. That is because the stated purpose of their gathering was to protest the mainstream media’s lack of coverage of a foiled bomb plot by five individuals associated with the Occupy Cleveland movement last spring. One by one, the featured speakers railed against Occupy and the liberal media to a crowd of about 250 (the organizers claimed 1500, the cop I spoke to estimated 250) mostly 50 and 60-year-old white Ohioans. Except for Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and CEO of the Tea Party Patriots, all the speakers were themselves media pundits and producers; most were bloggers. In essence, it was a war against the media by the media.
Update: Read the rest of this article on The Huffington Post!