Open Thread

Obama in Berlin, Paris and London

Obama heads into Berlin Germany leaving behind the what is being described as a successful series of days covering Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel. Up next is Berlin on the 24, followed by Paris on the 25, and the wrap-up destination London on Saturday 26 July.

Looking back the first news breaking the US media was Obama’s visit to a US military base in Kuwait City and a basketball moment you could only wish for. That shot set the tone for the next couple of days as Obama headed over to Afghanistan for meetings Hamid Karzai. Meanwhile news was filtering out that President Bush was accepts concept of an Iraq Time Horizon but that what somewhat eclipsed by an article in the German press suggesting the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had expressed support for Obama’s take on US troop withdrawal policy.

Obama’s next stop was Iraq just as Gordon Brown announced details of planned troop withdrawals. As Obama gets into the process of reviewing conditions on the ground, the Whitehouse wades in discounting the Iraq troop withdrawl endorsement and gets itself into a muddle as the New York Times confirms the story and associated translation. Obama takes in a number of military based, talks with the Prime Minister and members of the Iraqi Cabinet and Sunni tribal elders in Ramadi (capital of Anbar Province) before leaving for Jordan.

Obama next stop was Jordan and a meeting with King Abdullah, a press conference, and dinner with the King and Queen Rania, before he was driven back to the airport by King Abdullah himself. At the airport the King and Obama paused for a number of photo-ops, after which Obama climbed on board the new campaign Boeing 757 – destination Israel and the Palestinian State for meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

213 replies on “Obama in Berlin, Paris and London”

Progressive at 100

Me too – heard the TV in the background saying something about the US elections, stepped into the lounge – listened to the report … the the word “bitch” slipped out of my mouth.


Thankfully gaffhook’s post makes me look good.



Those polls show that it will be a much closer race than we


Bit of a reality-check for those of us who would like the US

to return to the higher principles of its past, the ones that

gave rise to the Marshall Plan,etc., leading the way once



I thought that once Rudd was elected,the snide anti-

progressive attitude at the ABC would cease.

Seven’s Sunrise also had the “…. he can talk,but can he

walk the talk” ,and I don’t remember that sceptical tone

applied to Bush and Howard before they were elected.

(More is the pity,in hindsight!)

saw McCain on Sky’s Agenda. He’s now complaining of media bias!!

they pointed out the contrast between Obama speaking in front of 200,000 in Germany with McCain speaking alone in front of a German restaurant in Ohio!!

The ABC is rather snooty about Rudd too, for some reason!
Not that it matters to Obama how a foreign broadcaster treats him, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I can detect the obvious bias of ABC correspondents, like Kim Landers and John Shovelan(on radio).

When CQ Politics rated the congressional races last fall, we said: “the Democrats are in a strong position to expand their congressional majorities” in the 2008 elections.

It’s gotten even better for them since then.

CQ Politics today is changing the race ratings in 14 congressional districts in 10 states to reflect changing political circumstances that mean brighter prospects for the Democrats, who are expected to augment their 236-199 majority in the U.S. House in the November elections.

Twelve of the 14 race rating changes favor the Democrats, compared to two that favor Republicans, who are trying to limit their losses this year after suffering a net loss of 30 House seats in the 2006 election.

It seems like a story is brewing about a planned visit by Obama to a military hospital in German. The trip was canceled at the last moment with German newspapers noting that Obama aides stating the the visit was not appropriate within the context of a political campaign. Fox news ran a piece suggesting Obama canceled because he was not allowed to bring the media (although Fox failed to mention that Obama visited a hospital in Iraq without media). But the more interesting story is that the visit was blocked by the Pentagon, and apparently McCain was pulling the strings.


Ah, but Chris, the ABC won’t report that, all you’ll hear is that McCain is closing the gap(rolls eyes).

Catrina: I’ve got to start using those emoticons LOL
I’m very pissed off with the ABC these days, their coverage of all politics leaves a lot to be desired!
And what do you say about a broadcaster which employs an accused drug dealer as a journalist?

Cash Advantage Means Likely Senate Gains for Democrats

One reason why Democrats almost certainly will gain ground in Senate elections this November is that they have so much money to contest the many Republican-held seats that are at stake.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which has a primary function of increasing the Democrats’ operational 51-49 majority in the Senate, has $46.2 million left to spend after raising $10.8 million in June, according to its recent filing. Its partisan counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), had $24.6 million left to spend after raising $6 million last month.

Lots of information from the Votemaster, along with a bit of discussion about his algorithm.

Lots of polls today. Four new polls from Quinnipiac University show John McCain playing catchup. He is even leading in Colorado now by 2%, 46% to 44%. However, Rasmussen had a poll Wednesday showing Obama ahead 49% to 42%. As described on the Map algorithm explained page, all polls taken within a week of the most recent one are averaged weighted equally. Some people have suggested weighting older polls less, but in this case, the Quinnipiac poll was taken July 14-22 whereas the Rasmussen poll was done on July 21 only. Which is older and by how much? Our algorithm uses the midpoint for all polls, so we treat the Quinnipiac poll as having been taken on July 18, so it is within a week of the “newer” Rasmussen poll.

Obama in Paris.

“Obama? He’s my buddy,” Le Figaro quoted the president as saying before Obama’s arrival. “I am the only Frenchman who knows him.”

Sarkozy, elected in 2007, first met Obama in 2006 while a candidate for the French presidency. Sarkozy offered considerably less to Obama’s Republican rival, John McCain during a March visit to Paris. After 45 minutes of talks, McCain was left on his own, fielding questions from reporters in the courtyard of the Elysee.

Obama’s foreign trip: Mission accomplished

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrat Barack Obama looked and sounded like a natural in the role of potential U.S. president during a carefully scripted overseas trip this week, passing a big test in the battle for the White House.

“Obama passed the test, which was to show he can handle himself with foreign leaders and avoid a major gaffe,” said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Minnesota.

And in a sick and twisted moment the Israeli paper Maariv obtains the note Obama left at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and puts a photograph of it on its front page. I guess this proves the point that even in Israel you can find lifeforms lower that GWB.

Chris Matthews wades into the debate on the Obama tour and suggesting that Berlin was a negative. But all the same, Chris does bring up some relevant points. David Gould may have a friend in the wings here in that Chris is pushing a Clinton VP connection. Meanwhile, we have polls from Rasmussen showing that more than half of Americans (55%) are rating Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin yesterday good or excellent (go figure).

Senator Obama with President Nicolas Sarkozy LIVE in Paris, France

UPDATE/1: Wow – but you need to understand French!!
UPDATE/2: This is bigger than Berlin.
UPDATE/3: The NYTs seems somewhat less enthusiastic but upbeat all the same.

Mr. Sarkozy said he would work with whomever becomes the next American leader, adding: “Of course it’s not up to the French to choose the next president of the United States of America.” But he said that “Barack Obama’s adventure is an adventure that rings true in the hearts and minds” of the French people.

UPDATE/4: MSNBC’s version (but something is lost in translation)

My first venture into the new US network affiliate, well done guys/gals, some interesting stuff here. This guy Obama seems to be sweeping the world like a tidal wave of renewal after so many years of festering corruption. Kinda gives one hope for the future.

However, I am pondering, how do you guys survive without Ron/ron to test your mental faculties. Does anyone know if there is a Babelfish version that covers Ronspeak.

117 Vino Veritas

Yes, it’s called “Ronsperanto” and it only works if you suspend disbelief! LOL

Ah, the French:

Mr. Sarkozy said he would work with whoever becomes the next American leader, adding, “Of course it’s not up to the French to choose the next president of the United States of America.” But he said that “Barack Obama’s adventure is an adventure that rings true in the hearts and minds” of the French people.


…I guess he’s not so keen on Macca then?

KR at 122

I guess he’s not so keen on Macca then?

When McCain visited Sarkozy there was no joint press session, McCain was left on his own, fielding questions from reporters in the courtyard of the Elysee. That’s a startling contrast to the 40 minutes joint press session delivered by Sarkozy and Obama.

123 Catrina

poor old Macca, he’s picked a bad year to run, hasn’t he? LOL

In the traditional contest between ‘small government’ Republicanism and the greater role of government in distributing public good, the line shifts in periods of great turmoil.

Take a look at this survey result:

…and it’s pretty clear that the trend is moving in the US towards a greater role for government.

Another indicator that Democrats are riding a big wave this year.


That graph almost hints at a trend

towards …uhhhm….socialism! 🙂

(wash my mouth!)

133 jen

Take a look at Rove’s numbers (I posted his stuff above).

I’d back Karl on this one! LOL

134 megan

It’s an interesting idea Megan!

The whole argument is bathed in hypocrisy and double talk (on both sides), but I think the general mood is that big business, unchecked, has not floated all boats, as they say.

In fact living standards are declining and the latest debacle is bringing down their economy, all thanks to Wall Street and a compliant set of regulators.

There’s a big mood for change, even if right now it’s more about saving the ship from sinking. But in the wash up there’s going to be more emphasis on oversight and control of the financial markets almost for certain, and as for healthcare…it’s a disaster that really needs some centralised control.

That #125 Rove Polling should have me jumping for joy,so

why am I feeling so flat?

👿 ?

143 megan Also, we are still waiting for the bounce in the Obama European tour. Even the Repugs know what is going to happen. But the polls aren’t showing it.

Unfortunately when the landslide happens they’ll just say it was just a snapshot of what was happening then.


checked your link and that one is reassuring .

However, anything with the name ‘Karl Rove’ attached sets

off my cr*p detector !!

Go,Jen! Cyber cheering from the PB sidelines 🙂

Thanks Megan!
Actually I think they’re all kind of cute really…. like the boys at priamry school who tease the girls cos they really like them. The more they spit and hit the more you know it is love. 😈

Straighten up Jen, put the ugg boots back on and move away from the 2 bar radiator…works every time…

codger – I’m bored to sobs.
Kevin is boring, the Libs are a joke, the US election is boring beacuse it’s a no-contest no matter what the MSM tries to manufacture…
can’t help myself!

chrisB at 129, in constrast cnn’s poll of polls has moved to 44/41, its closest gap for quite some time, although I realise that combining different polls is very vert problematic

Cart at 108, cnn is putting a different spin on this- Obama apparently said the pentagon said he shouldnt visit but the pentagon has denied it

The reason the polls are much closer than we might have anticipated is because large portions of the MSM are doing their best to help McCain get elected. At the board level, these organisations are tightly connected to the ring of major powerbrokers in the U.S., a group that Obama has so far showed little interest in supporting. The “change” theme doesn’t sit well with this lot.

But there is a silver lining. Despite the MSM spin, Obama has remained ahead. It comes down to the increasing reliance on the internet for news/opinion by the educated folk and the deteriorating economic situation biting hardest (e.g., job losses, foreclosures) for all the uneducated Homer Simpsons, who still rely on the MSM but are looking at their personal circumstances, feeling desperate for change, and beginning to think an Obama “risk” might be worth taking after all.

Reliance on the internet is increasing everyday and the economic situation is getting ever worse, so the tide is drifting away from the Repugs even if the polls are not yet reflecting this.

The only factors working against Obama are his skin colour and perceptions of elitism. The second he can work on as we get closer to the election by showing him connecting with everyday folk. The first he can do nothing about, although Michael Jackson seemed to have found a way.

jen at 152

Here is something to keep you awake at night.

1. GWB has taken a series of dramatic policy U-turns in recent days – things like negotiations with Iran, a time horizon for troop withdrawal from Iraq, a speech about America’s role in the world that was for all practical purposes the same as Obama’s Berlin speech. GWB is doing what Kevin Rudd did to John Howard – he’s eliminating Obama’s differentiation potential.

2. In parallel the Whitehouse is running obstruction maneuvers against the Obama campaign – samples include blocking of Obama’s visit to a hospital in Germany.

3. McCain is moving to Obama’s position on Iraq and troop withdrawal timetables. I.e. McCain is doing what Kevin Rudd did to John Howard (removal of the differentiating factors).

Move this forward with the assumption the GWB initiates a token troop escalation in Afghanistan and what we potentially have is Obama differentiated only on his ability to speak properly, articulate whole sentences, raise big crowds, and look good while holding up a health policy.

On the other hand we have John McCain, the all-American war-hero, tried, trusted, true. American winning the war in Iraq, moving ahead to finish the job in Afganistan, solving the real problems, the difficult problems. The problems that real Americans, you know, white Americans, the good hard working American, the problems they care about and doing it in traditional and patriotic way – guns and bibles.

Maybe it’s just the conspiracy theory fanatic in me just trying to get out – but for me, the alignment between GWB, the Whitehouse, and John McCain is something to worry about.

I sometimes watch Fox News for a laugh. After a hard day, it gives me a giggle, especially after watching them bag the s**t out of Obama before flashing up their twin mottos “fair and balanced” and “we report, you decide!” Bless ’em, they really, really try hard to control the thoughts of their audience.

Anyway, late last night, the fine folk of Fox News thought they sniffed the possibility for a big Obama-comes-crashing-down moment when his note placed in the Western Wall in Jerusalem was stolen and handed to the media. You guys know the story. Fox News didn’t know what was written on the note at that stage. But those news anchor’s eyes were lighting up like xmas tree lights. You could almost see them salivating as their imaginations ran wild, hoping Obama had wished for the downfall of McCain or something selfish or arrogant. They promised to reveal all as news came in…

Today, however, NOTHING, well nothing I have seen anyway. I guess the fact that Obama wrote a seemingly humble note to God just wasn’t going to fit their agenda… poor guys, they’re now back onto the issue of Obama cancelling his visit to U.S. war veterans in Germany – apparently it is an indication of Obama’s disdain for all the “good” work of the troops. I reckon they are secretly jealous of having to prop up an old crumbling guy like McCain when all the excitement and action is with Obama. LOL.

[Maybe it’s just the conspiracy theory fanatic in me just trying to get out – but for me, the alignment between GWB, the Whitehouse, and John McCain is something to worry about.]

Catrina, I hope you are not surprised by all this manoeuvring. It was always going to happen. What concerns me is the possibility of GWB going into war with Iran knowing that the U.S. population tend to side with the war-mongers during times of conflict.

But closing the gap on policy differences is not such a bad thing. It simply brings personality into stronger focus, and a lot of Americans vote on personality, not policy. And when it comes to personality, Obama has bucketloads, and a whole heap of charisma. McCain on the other hand is, well, McCain, an old, tired, grumpy man with a plastic smile.

The dynamics of an American election are very different to a Australian one.

One more thought before I have to go do some work. After seeing the crowds in Berlin and the once-in-a-generation enthusiasm for Obama throughout Europe (and elsewhere in the world) I think this election is historic no matter who wins.

If Obama wins, the world will be filled with optimism and the atmosphere for positive change and unity will spread everywhere.

On the other hand, if McCain wins, it will confirm global impressions of the U.S. as an increasingly backward, recalcitrant country. The U.S. will find itself becoming increasingly marginalised, falling behind the rest of the world, while an urgency to find new leadership from somewhere else in the world will soon arise.

Either way, we live in interesting times, and the momentum for change is already here. Obama is its symbol, not its necessity.

Hey Catrina! Good to see you back in blog mode (doing a sensational job btw).
. “GWB is doing what Kevin Rudd did to John Howard – he’s eliminating Obama’s differentiation potential”-
I know what you are concerned aabout but not even JWH could compete with GWB for unpopularity and sheer and utter stupidity- no credibilty, no matter what he says. And this strategy is so transparent that only the ABO’s would believe it anyway,. And they’ll believe anything.

you got it Noocat. That’s why all the bellyaching over Kyoto etc is irrelevant in this context- cultural change, not just policy this time.

Noocat at 158

Not surprised – just starting to see the patterns emerging. Thinking about this subject in the last few minutes, aside from the health subject (which could be battled as a right versus left ideological thing) we have two other areas of potential turf wars.

a) the energy strategy
b) the economy

The Republicans will push the drilling off-shore angle possibly combined with initiatives triggering more activity on the mainland as well. Obama’s energy strategy as currently documented is much more about a mix of renuables and carbon neutral solutions, but he’ll need to mail it down tighter. And that is where Al Gore may come into the equation. not sure how the respective parties will differentiate themselves on the economy at this stage of the game. The Al Gore challenge is marketable as a strong stimulus package – but this is crystal ball gazing for the moment.

On the personalities – I agree, but we have to keep in mind that Michael Jackson factor, which makes the advantage less black and white (ummm …).


156 Cat
I agree with your comments and i think i mentioned something similar on the previous thread. As soon as he mentioned his “horizon” strategy for a withdrawl of the troops he seemed to get closer to BO. The one issue he can not dust bin is how they have wrecked the economy. I also think McBrainless will make more gaffes as it gets closer to November. He seems to be getting more nervous about making comments as it gets closer. He is slow to answer questions. It is almost as though he is analysing what he wants to say before he says it to try to recall if he has had a different perspective on it somewhere else. He has made so many he is almost becoming scared to comment in case he f#*ks up again.

jen at 160

Credit goes to megan – she’s got the spam monster whipped and completely under control, and KR’s post for the next thread is read to roll with just a couple of clicks of the mouse. I’m left with nothing to do but plot and scheme and figure out whats going on where, why, etc.

What makes this thing so compelling and so difficult at the same time is that feeling – like when your standing on the veranda, the sun has maybe 20 minutes left before it drops over the horizon, the air is getting cooler, you can smell the rain, but there’s not a cloud in the sky…

It’s the same feeling but instead of rain it’s what Noocat described above.

Either way, we live in interesting times, and the momentum for change is already here. Obama is its symbol, not its necessity.


gaffhook at 163

a.k.a. the McCain implosion.

The fear of this would go a long way to explaining the continual reports of frustration inside the McCain Campaign operations. It’s almost like the GOP is stuck with an unexpected presumptive candidate and they have to live with it (you work with the raw materials your given).

i have had to smack you on the Other Thread for fear of ESJ’s disapproval 😉

Catrina- just reread your posts. I can’t think of any other strategy the GOP can use other than to sidle up to what is clearly a winning position and pretend that it’s theirs too. Americans are fed up with war (thank the gods- might stop The Imbecile from bombing Iran to up the vote) so the best the repugs can do is say that they want it to end too. Crap.
And the economy is so buggered that nothing they say will cover the fact that they have allowed this to happen- Obi’s hands are clean and the Repugs have shit up to their armpits.
And that’s just 2 issues – climate change (not sure if they’ve really heard of it there much, but Al Gore has some cred.), health – a disastor under the current regime, threat of terrorism – many fear it hs increased, etc etc.
Never fear: basically the GOP is dead in the water and Obi could probably win this no matter what. It just so happens that he is an inspiring leader so that’s all the better. And don’t forget he hasn’t even started sinking the boots in yet.
Sit back and enjoy the fun….

oh. almost forgot – add in the fact that McCain barely has a heartbeat, has a reputation for uncontrolled aggression and is a terrible public performer and … pour the bolly.

165 Jen

I thought that was a good opportunity and could not resist it. Obviously you missed it here at 92. Take no notice of them Jen.

Gaffers- don’t worry : I’m not remotely upset by them. Just having a bit of fun really:twisted:
Besides-isn’t that McCain’s term of endearment for his wife??

Although if I start resembling our old friend Rain who had them at the end of every line please put me into our very own Gitmo until I learn my lesson.

bugger- so many gaps.
anyway Catrina- are you still anxiuos about Bush trying to be Obi?

“bugger” deserves its own emoticon, as does “anxiuos”….i like it!

i think i will appropriate this new term… in, the very thought of a McCain win makes deeply anxiuos…

it could be a descriptor from chinese medicine… possibly a corruption of “ang-xiu”, being a tendency to despair or profound regret, feelings of overwhelming loss…..hence, anxiuosity….a state of dread…..:)

Thanks BO – I am honoured. Especially comoing from a poster with those initials.
Personally i want emoticons for kiss and gag as well.

jen at 178
Anxious, no. More like quietly confident but at the same time not taking anything for granted and a little bit scared shitless that GWB will do something really stupid. But I guess we’ve been living with that for 8 years now so we should be use to it.

BO-I do so love it when I discover a whole new word. Due to my abysmal typing I thnk r/Ron adn I have have developed a whole new lexicon, and If I could ever have had a civil conversation with him we could in fact ahve published the PollBludgers Thesuarus.
too sad…(;)

“and a little bit scared shitless that GWB will do something really stupid.:

like , Hello??

(another emoticon missing.)

I’m guessing that none of you want to know this but I’ll tell you anyway. If we had our server instead of the deal with WordPress, we could dig into some of the internal code and add a few extra emoticons – stuff like :bugger:, :anxious:, :fixated:, :screwed:, :kiss:, :deepkiss:, etc.

The possibilities are endless!


i failed ‘ronology for beginners’… too many disputes with the teacher’s methods…

what fun.
how about “do i look bovvered?”, and “God i wish you were George Clooney”…

are you saying we should get our own server, cat? like one’s own butler? i could get interested in that.

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