Views from the Beltline: Inauguration Day—from class to crass

I have differed with Barack Obama on various issues during his presidency, but on one point I hold no reservations: he is the classiest U.S. president in my lifetime. A man of intelligence and eloquence, he displayed a combination of grace and dignity that honoured his office. And now he is to be replaced by ...

Views from the Beltline: Inauguration Day—from class to crass

I have differed with Barack Obama on various issues during his presidency, but on one point I hold no reservations: he is the classiest U.S. president in my lifetime. A man of intelligence and eloquence, he displayed a combination of grace and dignity that honoured his office. And now he is to be replaced by ...

Bill Longstaff: Barack Obama and the ghost of Che

An historical photograph. Barack Obama, on his recent visit to Cuba, stands at attention for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. The president and his companions are standing at the José Marti Memorial in Havana where, across the street, on the wall of the Ministry of the Interior building, looms a mural of the legendary ...

Bill Longstaff: Barack Obama and the ghost of Che

An historical photograph. Barack Obama, on his recent visit to Cuba, stands at attention for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. The president and his companions are standing at the José Marti Memorial in Havana where, across the street, on the wall of the Ministry of the Interior building, looms a mural of the legendary ...

Bill Longstaff: Barack Obama and the ghost of Che

An historical photograph. Barack Obama, on his recent visit to Cuba, stands at attention for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner. The president and his companions are standing at the José Marti Memorial in Havana where, across the street, on the wall of the Ministry of the Interior building, looms a mural of the legendary ...

Bill Longstaff: Paris—the blowback of imperialism

U.S. President Barack Obama has referred to the atrocities in Paris as attacks “on all of humanity.” He is wrong, of course. The attacks were specifically directed at France, an ex-imperialist European nation that has a long history of colonizing, oppressing and exploiting the Muslim peoples of North Africa and the Middle East, and that ...

Bill Longstaff: Obama stopped in his free trade tracks

Free trade agreements are frequently referred to by dissenters as corporate rights agreements, and as I pointed out in a recent post, there are powerful reasons why politicians negotiate them in favour of corporate interests. But regardless of who they are primarily intended to serve, the agreements contain articles which seriously affect the public good, ...

Bill Longstaff: Netanyahu sabotages U.S. Palestine policy … a good thing?

How much will the Americans put up with from this yahoo? He is the most arrogant leader in the international community, making even Vladimir Putin look modest by comparison. He has the most powerful nation in the world as his country’s best friend and benefactor, so what does he do? First, he humiliates its president, ...

Bill Longstaff: Good use of the American military

As a frequent critic of how the United States uses its military in the world, I was delighted to hear that President Obama has made a major commitment to use the U.S. Army against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Many nations are responding to the crisis—Cuba is sending 165 health workers, China will send ...

Bill Longstaff: The man from Goldman Sachs comes to Canada

U.S. President Obama has nominated another one of his major fundraisers as ambassador to Canada. Like David Jacobson, the current ambassador, nominee Bruce Heyman was a “mega-bundler” for Obama’s presidential campaigns, helping to raise millions of dollars. Unlike Jacobson, a lawyer, Heyman is Wall Street all the way, having toiled at Goldman Sachs for the ...

Bill Longstaff: Lynching Obama

Allow me to offer a theory about the recent bizarre behaviour of the Republican Party in the U.S. Congress. All countries have a substantial ultraconservative component of their political spectrum. But not often in a democracy does that component take over the agenda of a major political party and threaten to bring the government down ...

Bill Longstaff: McCain answers Putin—great stuff!

I love it—war with words rather than guns. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times laying out his views on international law and gently chiding Barack Obama for his “American exceptionalism.” Now John McCain, Senator from Arizona, has answered Putin in kind—and in spades. In the online ...

Bill Longstaff: Wow! This NSA stuff is getting serious—Rouseff snubs Obama

There seems to be no limit to the cats whistleblower Edward Snowden has put among the pigeons. Among the gems about the U.S. National Security Agency’s spying mischief Mr. Snowden has revealed is that it monitored Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s telephone calls and emails, spied on communications by her aides and targeted Brazil’s biggest oil ...

Bill Longstaff: Is Obama forgetting that many Syrians support Assad?

As humanitarian concern over the Syrian tragedy transforms into a call for war, I wonder if we in the West—and most importantly President Obama—aren’t forgetting that many Syrians support Bashar al-Assad. The last poll I could find (January 2012) showed that 55 per cent do not want him to resign. Many segments of the Syrian ...

Bill Longstaff: Odds against Obama

Lay your bets, ladies and gentlemen. Will President Obama get the support he wants from Congress for an attack against Syria, or will he suffer an historic and humiliating defeat? At the moment the odds are long against him. Various news organizations contacting members of Congress report that the nays outpace the ayes by at ...

Bill Longstaff: World losing confidence in Obama

Most of the world breathed easier when Barack Obama was re-elected, but it would seem more a sigh of relief than enthusiasm for the man everyone fell in love with four years ago. Confidence in the president on a variety of issues has declined precipitously since 2009. For example, according to a recent Pew Research ...

Bill Longstaff: Americans increasingly belligerent as foreign policy debate looms

On Monday, Obama and Romney will debate foreign policy. Recent surveys indicate that Americans, on at least two important issues, are feeling increasingly hard-nosed which probably means advantage Romney. Regarding Iran’s nuclear program, early in the year more Americans felt it was more important to take a firm stand (50 per cent) than to avoid ...

Bill Longstaff: Obama’s twin challenges

An interesting article in an Al Jazeera blog poses the question, Who is Obama really running against? The answer isn’t Mitt Romney. It’s Obama himself, or at least the 2008 version. The author suggests that the 2012 Obama, revealed after four years in office, is so different—as in disappointing—from the earlier version, that he may ...

Bill Longstaff: Jimmy Carter, drone attacks and moral authority

Jimmy Carter was, in the opinion of this non-American, one of the better presidents the United States has had in recent history. Americans didn’t agree of course, and dumped him after one term, but his record speaks in his favour. And nowhere, does it speak more eloquently than on the subject of human rights. As ...

Bill Longstaff: "Due process just means there’s a process that you do"

The above quote was comedian Stephen Colbert’s take on the U.S. Administration’s latest definition of due process. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel prepared a memo justifying the murder of American citizens abroad, saying the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment guarantee of due process applied, but it could be satisfied by internal deliberations in the ...

Bill Longstaff: Obama jumps in front of the parade

Political leadership has been defined as figuring out where the people are going and then getting in front of them. If that’s the case, American President Barack Obama is clearly showing leadership with his support for gay marriage. A recent Pew survey showed that support for gay marriage in the U.S. has jumped from 31 ...