1) Obama celebrated Osama’s death
The week started out with the controversy of President Obama taking full credit for Osama bin Laden’s death—and yes, he was responsible for giving the order to go into bin Laden’s compound and took Osama out—and implied that Mitt Romney would not take the same actions. To his credit, that decision was not easy to make as many lives of US Navy SEALS were at risk in the operation, not to mention the consequences had it failed.
It’s ridiculous for Obama to talk about the death of Bin Laden without giving credits to the works that began years before the final days of Osama—especially when Obama often blamed (and still blames) Bush for about any issues that he failed. The trail that led the U.S. intelligence to Osama’s compound began years ago. It began with the capture of Abu Faraj al-Libbi—a senior al-Qaeda operative who spent 2 years as Osama’s messenger before his capture—in 2005 by CIA’s covert war against al-Qaeda, the covert war that was authorized by Bush after Sept 11 attack. During his interrogation by CIA (the same harsh but quite effective interrogation methods that were criticized by Democrats and Obama), intelligence about al-Qaeda’s courier network were provided to the U.S. This eventually led to the finding of Osama’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan—and of course ended with the Hollywood-like/heroic operation of the NAVY SEALS to capture and drop Osama somewhere in the ocean.
In January 2009, then President-Elect Obama said, “I was clear throughout this campaign and was clear throughout this transition that under my administration the United States does not torture. We will abide by the Geneva Conventions. We will uphold our highest ideal,” as he harshly criticized Bush administration’s policy on interrogation methods. Little he knew that these harsh interrogations, started by the Bush administration, would eventually lead to his only success in the first term.
And, of course, in 2006, Senator Obama said: “I’ve Had Enough of Using Terrorism As a Wedge Issue in Our Politics.” He also said the war on terrorism “isn’t supposed to crop up between September and November of even-numbered years.” Well, this year would be an exception since Democrats and Obama have been using Osama’s death a wedge issue in this year’s election.
Then, Obama celebrated the anniversary of the death of Osama with his surprise trip to Afghanistan. During the trip, Obama signed an agreement with Karzai to withdraw all US troops by end of 2014 but to continue the US aids to Afghanistan till 2024. Right after Obama left, the Taliban insurgents killed at least 7 people in a blast just outside a housing compound for foreigners.
2) The fourth Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the U.S. and China
There were really no important developments in the dialogue between Secretary of State Clinton, Treasury Secretary Geithner and their counterparts in Beijing.
The bigger news out of Beijing this week was about the case of Chen Guangcheng—an activist who escaped his house arrest and hid in the U.S Embassy. Much has been discussed about this case. The US officials were quite naïve in their negotiation with China to have Chen leaving the embassy—what made them think that the Chinese government would keep its promise to allow Chen relocating to another part of the country and continuing his studies? China government, in the end, promised to allow Chen the permission to come to the U.S. to attend NYU. What came out of this case was that China demonstrated that they are in total control in the relationship with the Obama administration and that the U.S. officials are reactionary to their desire.
3) Latest Job Report
While Obama was busy touting his record of killing Osama bin Laden, the job report came out on 5/4 and showed that only 115,000 new jobs created in April—much lower than expected.
The civilian labor force decreased from about 154,707,000 down to 154,707,365—a drop of 342,000 out of the job market. This is the main reason why the unemployment rate (the so-called U-3 rate) fell from 8.2% to 8.1%— not because more workers are employed. Many of these drop-outs had given up on job searches or they simply are not counted as unemployed due to their unemployment benefits ran out.
According to an article from The New York Times, there are 13.7 million jobless workers. But according to the A-10 table from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 12.5 million unemployed workers—as compared to 13.7 million in April 2011. For the last year, an average of 100,000 persons joined the work force a month either as full-time or part-time—not as fast as the 12.5 million would hope.
There are about 18.8 million part-time workers (i.e. 13% of those employed) due to economic reasons—unable to find full-time work. If you add the number of unemployed and part-time employed due to economic reasons, we have over 31.3 million people—about 20% of the labor workforce—who are struggling with this economy.
While I understand that the President cannot create jobs, however, his policies have direct effectss on the job market. For instance, the Keystone XL Pipeline project—had Obama passed it in January 2012—would have created over 20,000 direct jobs. It would also lower the cost of gasoline leaving people with more money to spend on other items than gas, hence creating thousands of more jobs. Not to mention his desire to raise taxes on the millionaires—many of whom are small business owners—can’t help the job markets nor reduce the deficits.
4) Obama: Forward! To where?
On 5/5, Obama officially kicked off his campaign—i.e. all the attacks that he had been aiming at Mitt Romney were not done as the campaigner-in-chief but rather as the divider-in-chief.
His 2012 campaign slogan will be “Forward”—the location to be determined, perhaps as part of his flexibility in the second term that he promised.
Is it coincident or Obama borrows the word “Forward” from Mao ze Dong’s “The Great Leap Forward” (大跃进) revolution in 1958? Mao’s “The Great Leap Forward” was a great failure—an estimate of 20 million people died during the 3 years of the program. Can we afford “Forward” in the U.S?
While we all know that the so-called swing states—Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida—are still virtually or mostly tied within margin errors between Obama and Romney, the surprise is that a recent Gallup poll in Michigan (released in April) showing Romney leading Obama by 47%-45%. Don’t let the left-wing media convince you that the election is already won by Obama.