The Watering Hole – Saturday, July 28th, 2012 – Busted!

It seems Mitt Romney has a small problem with his advisers. If they exist, they lie about as much as Romney does. They’re also just as cowardly, as they chose to anonymously spew lies about the President of the United States while on foreign soil, which I thought was supposed to be a major no-no (at least, the Republicans see it that way.) The latest little twist of reality involves the famous bust of Sir Winston Churchill that was on display in the Oval Office during the Bush Administration. It appears that the Right Wing has gotten its knickers in a twist claiming that Obama insulted the Brits by returning the bust when he took office and refusing an offer to keep it. The problem is that, as is often the case in things that upset the RW, it is not exactly true. To make matters worse, famous RW crap spewer Charles Krauthammer repeated this twist on reality in one of his columns, which enabled the Romney advisers to anonymously and, in a cowardly fashion, repeat it to British reporters. It didn’t help that the White House initially said that this bust was not returned to the UK at all but is on display in the White House residence. This is slightly inaccurate, as well, but not as egregiously wrong as the lie that Obama was deliberately insulting the Brits by returning it.

It turns out there are two busts in question. One was originally given to the White House during the Nixon Administration and was put on display in the White House residence. According to the White House website:

The White House has had a bust of Winston Churchill since the 1960’s. At the start of the Bush administration Prime Minister Blair lent President Bush a bust that matched the one in the White House, which was being worked on at the time and was later returned to the residence. The version lent by Prime Minister Blair was displayed by President Bush until the end of his Presidency. On January 20, 2009 — Inauguration Day — all of the art lent specifically for President Bush’s Oval Office was removed by the curator’s office, as is common practice at the end of every presidency. The original Churchill bust remained on display in the residence. The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day.

So, as usual, the RW is taking a non-issue and trying to turn it into an international incident.

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

The Watering Hole: Tuesday, September 20th – Outside..

.. the US there’s politics, too.

Germany: Chancellor Merkel’s coalition Government is in hot water. The junior partner FDP, a strictly neoliberal party, has received the fifth and, if you ask me, final blow at last Sunday’s elections in Berlin, when they were down to 1.8% of votes. This bodes ill for the ruling coalition.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel dislikes putting her foot down to solve government disputes. She associates that form of exercising authority with ill-tempered men who use arrogance to make up for their lack of competence. And she thinks people who keep banging their fist on the table end up getting ignored in the long run. (read more)

I beg to differ with some of the article, however. The SPD (Social Democrats) would be ill advised to enter a coalition government in times of really unpleasant decisions about the future of the Euro. They’ll tolerate a minority rule and ask for new elections, is my guess.

Italy: S&P has now downgraded Italy. Italy, is one of the more important economies in Europe, so I expect the stock markets to go down significantly again today. (Update: With markets you never kow. The indices are up right now. Markets always know best. What do I know? 🙄 )

S&P’s downgraded its unsolicited ratings on Italy to A/A-1 from A+/A-1+ and kept its outlook on negative, sending the euro more than half a cent lower against the dollar.

The agency, which put Italy on review for downgrade in May, said that the outlook for growth was worsening and there was little sign that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s fractious center-right government could respond effectively. (read more)

But Berlusconi is dealing with more pressing problems:

The conversations, wire-tapped as part of a probe into an alleged prostitution ring surrounding Berlusconi, also suggested for the first time that he gave money to the women he allegedly slept with, contradicting his repeated insistence that he never paid for sex, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.

The taped conversations revealed in extraordinary detail how parties involving dozens of young starlets and escort girls were organised for the Italian PM by a 36-year-old middleman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, a convicted cocaine dealer. (read more)

United Kingdom: Blair’s back, or did he ever go away? Cameron is taking advice from Tony Blair? Well here’s an expert. Watch out, you may end up with another war on your hands! The question is, how much are they paying for his consulting prowess? He likes the cash.

David Cameron is secretly receiving political advice on foreign affairs from Tony Blair – most recently on how to resolve the international deadlock over Palestinian statehood, The Independent has learnt.

Mr Cameron has buried party political loyalties and privately invited the former Labour Prime Minister to Chequers to discuss the impasse, according to Foreign Office sources. (read more)

Hey Tony, there’s a warm cell in The Hague waiting for you (I hope)!

This is our Open Thread. This is my part of the world. What’s up in yours?

Across the Pond – The Sunday Papers

It’s Easter and up to now political news is slow here in the old world. The British are wallowing in their newest scandal. In a time where political smear campaigns are slowly going out of fashion Damian McBride an aide to Britains Prime Minster Gordon Brown and a Karl Rove disciple, it seems, didn’t get it and sent out a few e-mails intending to start one against Tory leaders.

The ideas contained in the email include spreading several false rumours: that David Cameron had an embarrassing medical condition; that George Osborne took drugs with a prostitute – an old allegation in the public domain which Osborne has flatly denied; allegations of a sexual nature about the Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries, which she vehemently denies and has consulted her lawyers about; and about a Tory MP allegedly getting publicity for a firm run by his partner. There is no evidence that any of the claims are true. (read more)

Now the fat’s in the fire and McBride out of his job. Carole Cadwalladr from the Guardian revisits old scandals and reminds us of the hypocrisy which is the real scandal behind the stories. Alan Watkins of The Independent points out the futility of smearing campaigns in an environment that wants change above all:

Recent experience of this country’s politics, for what it is worth, teaches us that a change in the weather takes place every 15 or 20 years. It was so with the elections of 1945, 1964, 1979 and, yes, 1997. People waved little Union Jack flags outside No 10, and it was a bright May morning. Even Mr Alastair Campbell could not control the weather, but he did supply both the flags and the cast of extras, who had been conscripted predominantly from the staff of Labour Party headquarters. (read more)

The Times celebrates the demise of a Rovian political career:

THERE will be few tears shed over the departure of Damian McBride from Downing Street – his talent for making enemies was almost equal to his talent for spin.

[…]

Minutes after McBride’s resignation, Paul Staines, the political blogger who first obtained the e-mails and is a long-standing critic of McBride’s modus operandi, posted a simple message on his website: “Mission accomplished.” (read more)

McBride’s worries will most probably not be over with his resignation, says the Daily Mail and The Telegraph calls him a political assassin. The tabloid The Sun has other fish to fry. When it comes to smear campaigns, they’re the tops and you really don’t want to read stories like this one.

Der Spiegel from Germany takes a look back on predictions about the economy. So let’s have a small Easter Quiz who said this?

“There will probably be some bank failures. There are some small … banks that have heavily invested in real estate in locales where prices have fallen. Among the largest banks, the capital ratios remain good, and I don’t expect any serious problems among the larger banks.” (go see)
February 28, 2008
And this?
“The current financial crisis in the US is likely to be judged in retrospect as the most wrenching since the end of the Second World War.”
March 17, 2008 (look who’s talking)
There is really not much going on and, to be honest, I like some calm too. For those among you, who’d like to do some more background reading I recommend Spiegel’s interview with Ahmadinejad and  Nicholas Burns the former Iran negotiator.
I wish you all a very nice Easter weekend, some sun and warm weather and lots of nice things to eat. Take care.
~EV

Hello from Europe – 366 Days of Bush left

Europa-Jupiter’s moon (pic: NASA)

The economic woes of the US and, let’s face it, Great Britain and Switzerland and all the others, too, make the headlines in Europe today. And the US electoral causcuses/primaries in Nevada and South Carolina. Germany holds elections, too next weekend and mudslinging is not a privilege for US campaigns. Berne, Switzerland, is bracing for anti-WEF protests and an illegal demonstration, which may still grow violent. Hey and Romney won Nevada!

But firsts first:

London’s “Independent” takes on the economic week and finds:

It is hard to recall a week of such concentrated negative economic news. Even if the underlying reality hasn’t so far been that bad, these things tend to become self-fulfilling once business and consumer confidence goes in the way now threatened.

Sounds bleak enough to me. The Swiss Market Index has lost 7.22% this week, Germany’s Xetra DAX 5.17%, London FTSE 5.16%, Paris CAC 5.70%, so yes, it looks like we’re in it together.

“The Times”, however is right on the US elections again and Hillary:

Hillary Clinton spoke yesterday of the pain and embarrassment caused by her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, ten years after the scandal erupted and at the height of a presidential campaign when women will be crucial to her White House hopes.

Is it going to be female bonding again, to secure the votes and lure women voters away from the shining start Barack Obama and his glamorous wife? No tears this time, but isn’t this corny? She’s really counting on a wave of sympathy, because her husband had a little head outside the marriage ten years ago ? She is looking more and more like Bill’s wife to me, not Hillary Rodham.

In three of Germany’s states (Länder) there will be elections soon and the Christian Democrats of chancellor Merkel are going to lose. The governor of the state Hessen Mr Koch has waged a campaing, that first excited and then disgusted the nation. Juvenile delinquency was the issue, what’s more juvenile immigrant’s delinquency. He’s going to lose the elections, according to new polls. But the negative emotions will linger on.

In Switzerland the annual meeting of politicians, economists and celebrities at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, sparks the usual unrest among globalisation sceptics. A demonstration in Berne the Swiss capital was not approved by the police, but took place nevertheless, 200 protesters have been arrested.

There is so much more that needs to be said, the bloodshed in Iraq, that accompanied the Shia holy day of Ashura, and blies the claims that things in Irq have improved. The nonchalance that seems to be the hallmark of British Authorities, when it comes to protecting their citizens data. The accident of American skiier Scott Maccartney in Kitzbuehel, which left him in an artificial coma. But the main interest of today is waiting for the primary and caucus results. So wait we will.

“Europeanview” wishes you all a good afternoon and evening and take care!