Category Archives: politics

200. Welcome, President Barack Obama


By David Fitzsimmons in The Arizona Daily Star, 18 January 2009.

It’s a long road to the top of the highest mountain. So today, let’s enjoy the view.
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199. Farewell to George Bush

By Paul Zanetti, as featured in The Guardian, 17 January 2009.

Analysis: The Bush Years
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195. The arc of history – USA election 2008

“It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.”
— Barack Obama, Chicago, 4th November 2008.

barack-obama-and-family-chicago-illinois-usa-4th-november-2008It’s just three miles and a lifetime’s journey from the South Side of Chicago to Grant Park, and I can remember every step.

How marvellous it was that the US election race this year should find its long-awaited finish line at the same spot as the Chicago Marathon — one of many high points I’ve shared with this incredible country through a relationship that stretches right across my adult life.

I entered the United States late one August night in 1981. Seventeen hours out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, we drove across a bridge and into Maine. Next morning, six hours and a brief stop in Portland later, I stepped wearily off the bus in downtown Boston — completing my journey from England to New England, where the history of this great nation had started.

That visit took me down the east coast to New York and Washington, in an arc via Pittsburgh to Niagara, and then back into Canada for a return flight home.

My memories of America from that trip? Coin-fed TV sets in lonely Greyhound bus stations. The wind on Cape Cod. Looking across the Charles River on a long walk out to Cambridge.

washington-monument-capitol-from-lincoln-memorial-usa-h4num4n-flickrThe view from the Empire State Building. The sound of dusk on Broadway. The New Jersey Turnpike. The Smithsonian. The Capitol.

A quote carved into the Washington pavement —
‘One of these days this will be a very great city, if nothing happens to it’ (Henry Adams).

My love affair with America had begun.
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194. The US Electoral College: a From Scratch guide

new-england-leaves-in-fall-by-roadsofstoneThis longest race is nearly run at last – and as autumn 2008 falls inexorably into the arms of winter, the US election beckons with its promise of history in the making.

Because by the time the October New England leaves lie buried under fresh January snows, the new course of our free world will have been decided.

And after months of Primaries, Conventions and Rallies — the millions of words from Hillary, Barack and McCain, and thousands of column inches on Sarah, Joe and even Joe the Plumber — how, exactly, will America elect her new President?

We’ve heard about the battleground states — the races for Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. But surely, every vote counts, right across the country?

This week, I’m indebted to Ella, our long-standing America correspondent, for writing this timely From Scratch guide to the US Electoral College.

new-hampshire-snow-by-atonal-at-flickrdotcomAll across the lower 48, Hawaii, Alaska and the farthest reaches of the Upper East Side, America decides.

And this is how it works.

* * * * *

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On November 4, we Americans will be voting for a new president in no less than 51 separate elections — one in each state and the District of Columbia.

On that day we won’t elect the new president, though; that won’t happen until December 15, when the electors, chosen in the primaries and by state party meetings, gather in their respective state capitals to cast their votes.

And the president won’t count as duly elected until those electoral votes are counted in Congress on January 6.

In a nutshell, those three stages define how our Electoral College works.
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191. Two years of Roads of Stone

roads of stoneThe second anniversary of this site passed midway through a busy August. An office move and a new computer have diverted me since, but the milestone seems worth marking all the same.

There hasn’t been much time to write. This isn’t a site for daily updates – the past twelve months at Roads of Stone have seen just 28 posts.

Still, that adds up to around 20,000 words, squeezed into odd moments here and there, so perhaps it’s not surprising that I’ve been busy.

Those words have extended to travel writing on Kenya (seven posts), Scotland, Texas, Bermuda and France.

Conversations have extended to cover geology, music, golf, UK and US politics, the history of horseracing and Shakespearean theatre, petroleum economics, global warming, the urban development of London and French cooking.
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190. Conventions and rallies – Sarah Palin and the US Open

andrew-murray-us-open-flushing-meadows-2008-c-bbc-co-ukThe news this week from America was electrifying.

After a titanic struggle, the young pretender had seen off the hot favourite. Now only destiny and history awaited.

The crucible of battle beckoned – a chance to banish the incumbent powers through destroying the old master.

And no, I’m not talking about the US Open tennis, even if for just for one moment in the second set it looked like Andy Murray might almost have the game to beat Roger Federer, just as he had swept away Rafael Nadal.

It was the American party conventions and the battle between Barack Obama and John McCain which intrigued. After glowing coverage of the Democratic bash in Denver, the Republican affair attracted little comment here initially.

Flicking the channels for a glimpse of Flushing Meadows last week, I came across a speech by Fred Thompson. The Senator’s deadpan style might almost have been compared by The Guardian to the dullest and most plodding rhetoric offered by our own Gordon Brown, but Thompson gave it a passable attempt.

The speech set out John McCain’s credentials, recalling his suffering and extraordinary courage during the Vietnam war. McCain was a principled and dignified statesman, he said, willing to stand up for what was right, and to fight the establishment machine. Willing to take risks in support of his beliefs.
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