Who Exactly Is John Carlin?

And why is he polluting the pages of the Spanish newspaper El Pais with his disgusting sobs about the tragic lives of those poor, poor women who have to work?

El Pais is a great newspaper that is miles ahead of any American news outlet. So why does it suddenly allow some jerk in the throes of a mid-life crisis to tell some ridiculous stories about high-powered female executives who want nothing more than to turn into kept women and dedicate their lives to cleaning the house and doing yoga? Why doesn’t this idiot take his lies to the New York Times? They will be very welcome there.

This Carlin character is so miserable in his personal and professional life that he applauds Gaddafi’s attitude to women. Once again, this would have made him feel at home in the same rag that employs another sexual loser, Ross Douthat. What this idiot, who believes that it’s a good idea to force working women to remain virgins, is doing writing for a progressive European newspaper is a mystery.

Nothing is more annoying that this type of sore loser who tries to hide his own personal issues behind this kind of anti-women rhetoric.

My Political Insight: Why Are the GOP Candidates So Weak?

Even in Iowa, of all places, where the Republican candidates have had a very strong campaigning presence recently, they are all trailing President Obama in approval ratings. Mind you, Obama’s ratings are quite low. The problem for the Republicans is that theirs are even lower:

Iowa: President Obama vs. Republicans

Obama 49%, Mitt Romney 39% (+10%)
Obama 51%, Rick Perry 38% (+13%)
Obama 51%, Michele Bachmann 34% (+17%)
Obama 51%, Herman Cain 33% (+18%)
Obama 54%, Sarah Palin 33% (+21%)

As I said before, Obama is set to win the upcoming elections. He isn’t going to win because citizens love him and approve of the job he’s been doing. To the contrary, the disappointment with his actions has been growing among his base, while the anti-Obama propaganda has been virulent and unflagging among his detractors. The reason why he will win is that the GOP hasn’t been able to come up with a viable candidate.

Now, my question is: why hasn’t it?

Does the party really have only this bunch of freaks and unelectables to offer? Or is the answer that it isn’t interested in winning at this time?

Today’s balance of power is pretty much a win-win for the GOP. A Republican Congress that frustrates the Democratic President’s every move. The President who is seen as impotent by his own base and is blamed for the tanking economy by everybody. Isn’t this the perfect opportunity to tell the Americans, “Oh, you wanted change and progress? Now you can have your Socialist President and see how much you like it.”

A Republican President coming to power in 2012 would mean that the GOP would have to do something to repair the economy. Isn’t it easier to just sit back and allow the second Democratic presidency in a row to fail day after day at getting the country out of the recession? Is there a better way of discrediting the progressive agenda for a long time to come?

Unimpressed by Celebrities

My father is covering the Montreal World Film Festival as a journalist for the newspaper of the Russian-speaking community of Montreal. He has been invited to be part of Catherine Deneuve’s press conference.

“Nah,” he said, “that’s boring.”

Instead, he went to interview a Russian film-maker and actor who can’t even begin to dream of Deneuve’s fame but who has managed to make a movie my father happens to appreciate.

My Political Prognosis: Let’s Watch Texas’ Economy

If there is a single Republican candidate right now who could challenge President Obama during the 2012 elections, it is, of course, Rick Perry. There is no other even remotely viable candidate that the GOP has managed to scare up at this point. Perry is a Governor of a big state, which means that he can start playing the “Obama is inexperienced” card all over again (mind my words, he is absolutely going to do that, as strange as it may sound to Liberal ears.)

Of course, Romney also has been a Governor of an important state. However, that state is Massachusetts, which colors Romney as somewhat of a Liberal by association. Most importantly, the guy is a Mormon, which makes him unelectable as President of the US. He is trailing Perry in the polls by 13 points right now, which is not surprising.

As for people who, for some inexplicable reason, thought Bachmann stood a chance, I hope they understand now how silly that was. She is completely crazy and a woman. A man who is totally bonkers has some marginal chance of getting the nomination and maybe even winning if his family is rich and powerful enough (wink, wink). A woman, though? Not a chance.

Which is why the following prognosis becomes crucially important:

Some signs point to Texas under-performing the national economy in coming months. The federal stimulus that Perry derides (after accepting $17.1 billion in aid) is ending, and Texas has imposed steep budget cuts that could depress its economy short term.

If Perry manages to convince the country that his state’s 8,4% unemployment is somehow indicative of a thriving economy (which is the message he’s working very hard to bring out right now), he might have a shot at the presidency. If, however, the economy of Texas suffers a blow, he’s done for in these elections, and Obama will have a clear road to the presidency.

All of this is, of course, contingent on nothing major happening in this country in terms of either a terrorist attack or another bout of the recession. Either of these could revive the Republican hopes of retaking the Oval Office in 2012.

Everybody Is a Journalist!

The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit handed down a decision yesterday that makes it clear that one doesn’t need to be employed as a reporter to be granted First Amendment protections. This is a great day for every blogger and independent news-maker and commentator:

Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines  between  private  citizen  and  journalist  exceedingly difficult to draw.  The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events  come  from  bystanders  with  a  ready  cell  phone  or  digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper.  Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

Reporting and discussing the news is no longer the province of the few. These activities are now open to all of us, and it’s wonderful to see the court system recognize this new reality.

If You Ban Smoking in Bars, You Have to Ban Animals, Too

Finally, bars in New York are being prohibited from allowing animals to be on the premises:

The health department issued 469 violations for live animals in food-service sites from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, though the agency did not provide a breakdown of the different kinds of offending animals. During inspections, many owners said they were surprised to learn that dogs were not allowed even in outdoor seating areas. Neither does a bar’s dearth of actual food products provide any cover. “Beer, wine and spirits have always been classified as food,” a department spokeswoman wrote in an e-mail. Only service dogs are permitted in spaces that serve food or drink of any kind.

The idea that smelly, panting dogs who shed hair and are likely to assault customers at any time should be imposed on paying patrons just because of the selfishness of a few “dog-lovers” always seemed strange to me. As usual, these “doggie-parents” are equally cruel to other humans and to their own animals. Can you imagine a dog who’d actually want to be stuck in a bar rather than run around in a park?

Since bars have outlawed smoking on the premises for health reasons, it made no sense to keep allowing animals in. Each of us surely has their own vision of whether it’s more exasperating to have a smoker or a dog hanging around while you are trying to relax. I passionately dislike dogs and have a dog-phobia, so my answer is clear. For those who don’t hate dogs, a smoker’s presence can be a lot more annoying. Smoke makes one’s hair and clothes stink and can aggravate existing health conditions, such as asthma and others.

In terms of health, however, the damage inflicted by second-hand smoke is cumulative. A dog (or any other animal) can spread germs or assault a customer instantly. This is why I believe that if you ban smoking in bars to make the environment more customer-friendly, it makes no sense whatsoever to let the dogs in.

Is the US Participation in the Libyan Conflict About Oil? Again?

I just found a fascinating article by Conn Hallinan that refutes Juan Cole’s suggestion that the US participation in the Libyan conflict is all about stopping “massacres of people” and establishing a “lawful world order.”  Hallinan ridicules the idea that the US really cares about anybody’s massacres from an altruistic point of view and attracts out attention to the importance of Libya’s supply of oil as an explanation for the Americans’ interest in the country:

The charge that this was about Libya’s oil is “daft”? Libya is the largest producer of oil in Africa, and the 12th largest in the world. Its resources are very important for NATO’s European allies, and over the past several years there has been competition over these supplies. The Chinese have made major investments. During the war China, Russia, and Brazil supported the African Union’s call for a ceasefire and talks, and pointed out that UN Resolution 1973 did not call for regime change. One of the first statements out of the Transitional National Council following Qaddafi’s collapse was that China, Russia and Brazil were going to be sidelined in favor of French, Spanish, and Italian companies. Quid pro quo? The war was not just over oil, but how can anyone dismiss the importance of energy supplies at a time of worldwide competition over their control?  The U.S. is currently fighting several wars in a region that contains more than 65 percent of the world’s oil supplies. Does he think this is a coincidence?

I know there are Juan Cole’s fans reading the blog and I’m not aiming to hurt their feelings. However, Hallinan’s non-sentimental discussion of the US’s involvement in the conflict in Libya sounds a lot more convincing to me. Like Hallinan, I don’t think that this is exclusively about oil. It is, however, one of the factors that condition the US involvement in the area. Stopping massacres is not because it has never been.