Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Pro-Obama Gazan

McCain's robo-calls linking Barack Obama to terrorists aren't the only phone calls the Democrats should be worried about. According to today's Haaretz, a Palestinian student from Gaza is using Skype, the internet-to-phone service, to leave random Americans messages urging them to vote for Obama. As quoted in Haaretz:

"I'm Ibrahim Abu Jayab from Gaza Strip. I support the Senator Obama from Gaza Strip," he said in one. "I think the Senator Obama achieve the peace in the world and in my area."

"For the peace, please elect Senator Obama. Thank you very much."

This is extremely counterproductive. An average American who hears the name Ibrahim Abu Jayab and Gaza immediately thinks of terrorism. It is wrong to automatically associate Arab names with the likes of Osama Bin Laden, but the fact that many people do have that connotation in their minds is a reality.

Ibrahim, you mean well, but for Obama's sake, stop. Either that or only call Arab- and Muslim-Americans. The more WASPs and Jews hear your message, the less likely they are to vote for Obama.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sarkozy: Obama Immature About Iran

Even though I still prefer Obama over McCain, I find the following story from today's Haaretz newspaper very disconcerting:

Sources: Sarkozy views Obama stance on Iran as 'utterly immature'
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is very critical of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama's positions on Iran, according to reports that have reached Israel's government.

Sarkozy has made his criticisms only in closed forums in France. But according to a senior Israeli government source, the reports reaching Israel indicate that Sarkozy views the Democratic candidate's stance on Iran as "utterly immature" and comprised of "formulations empty of all content."

Obama visited Paris in July, and the Iranian issue was at the heart of his meeting with Sarkozy. At a joint press conference afterward, Obama urged Iran to accept the West's proposal on its nuclear program, saying that Iran was creating a serious situation that endangered both Israel and the West. According to the reports reaching Israel, Sarkozy told Obama at that meeting that if the new American president elected in November changed his country's policy toward Iran, that would be "very problematic."

Until now, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have tried to maintain a united front on Iran. But according to the senior Israeli source, Sarkozy fears that Obama might "arrogantly" ignore the other members of this front and open a direct dialogue with Iran without preconditions.

Following their July meeting, Sarkozy repeatedly expressed disappointment with Obama's positions on Iran, concluding that they were "not crystallized, and therefore many issues remain open," the Israeli source said. Advisors to the French president who held separate meetings with Obama's advisors came away with similar impressions and expressed similar disappointment.

According to the Israeli source, Sarkozy plans to begin intensive negotiations with the new American administration, regardless of whether it is headed by Obama or Republican Sen. John McCain, even before the new president takes office in January, with the goal of persuading him to continue the current policy on Iran.

But Sarkozy's pessimism does not stem only from Obama's stance; it also stems from the overall behavior of the international community toward Iran's nuclear program, and particularly its inability to agree on a fourth round of Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic. This foot-dragging will make it impossible to effect a change in Iran's nuclear policy, Sarkozy believes.

The French intelligence community believes that Iran has already obtained about 40 percent of the enriched uranium it would need for its first bomb, and that at its current rate, it will obtain the rest of the uranium it needs in the spring or summer of 2009.

However, French agencies are divided over what Iran is likely to do once it has this uranium. One view is that the Iranians will immediately make a nuclear bomb, in order to demonstrate their capability. The other is that Iran will continue enriching uranium without making a bomb - at least until it has enough enriched uranium for several bombs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Electoral Precognition

Predicting who will win the presidential election is easy. At this point, it seems fairly safe to say that Barack Obama will be the 44th president of the US of A. But how many electoral votes will he get, and which battleground states will he win?

According to electoral, which uses state-by state polling data to gauge the state of the electoral college, Obama is ahead with 364 electoral votes, though 78 of them are actually really too close to call, leaving 286 votes that are either safe or leaning towards Obama. I predict that all those 286 votes will indeed go to Obama, plus Ohio's 20 electors. All the rest will go to McCain. In other words, it will be 306-232.

And in case I change my mind, here is an electoral map that automatically updates whenever I change my prediction (it should be identical to the one above as long as I don't flip any states):

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Frightened Voter

I have done my civic duty as an American citizen. I've voted in the presidential elections and mailed my ballot. I chose a man I don't know well enough; a man I do not believe is qualified for the job of president; a man who frightens me. I chose him over a man I believe I do know well enough (but I don't like what I know about him); a man I do not believe is qualified for the job of president; a man who frightens me.

Yes, the prospect of either Barack Obama or John McCain as president of the United States frightens the hell out of me. Obama is dangerously naive while McCain is dangerously hawkish, and as of late, also a panderer to the evangelical right crazies. I asked myself who is more qualified between the two, or at least less unqualified, and I could not really come to a conclusion. Then I asked myself the following sad question: who do I find less frightening. It was a hard question to answer, but in the end I came to the conclusion that Obama and Biden are much less frightening then McCain and Palin. Besides, I generally see myself as a Democrat and a liberal. It wouldn't make sense for me to vote for a man with whom I disagree on most issues.

In my case, the running mates also helped me decide who to vote for. John McCain chose a younger version of George W. Bush and Mike Huckabee, while Obama chose an exprerienced, if somewhat imperfect senator. At least in their first presidential choice, Obama made the wiser pick.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Good News: Jörg Haider Ist Tot

Jörg Haider, the leader of Austria's extreme, unofficially neo-Nazi, right wing, was killed today in a car crash. Good riddance. The extremist parties recently won about a third of the vote in Austrian elections. That is very alarming. Sure, their focus insn't the Jews right now, but rather muslim and other immigrants, but they'll come back to the Jews eventually. Hey, the world is in a financial crisis - sounds like a perfect opportunity to blame us.

Haider was a very charismatic figure. Hopefully, his death may reduce the power of extremists. On the other hand, it may be too late now. Either way, the world is better off without him.