Barack Obama, President-elect:

Ken Lambert writes: Re. “Rundle08: to dissolve for an hour or so into History” (Special edition: President of the United States, Barack Obama, yesterday, item 1). When Colin Powell anointed Barack Obama as his choice for President, my soft Republican business associates instantly called the election for Obama. Had Top Gear been sticking pictures of the candidates on their famous wall — Obama would have moved from cool to sub-zero.

The surprise was not Obama’s victory, but the slenderness of his margin. What is truly remarkable is that 72-year-old McCain achieved 47.5% of the popular vote despite all the forces ranged against him — the hopeless Bush legacy, a scary crumbling economy and the golden celebrity horde from Winfreydom barracking loudly for Obama. I want to be uplifted by the Messianic Obama message — change, hope, opportunity, American exceptionalism and the historic significance of the moment. But as an Australian I have observed that the USA is not the greatest country in the world for an increasing number of its citizens who suffer the indecencies of its health system, poor public education, vacuous celebrity culture and the depredations of its finance spivs.

If Obama can uplift the sub-prime citizens who gave him victory to the levels of opportunity and security enjoyed by ordinary Australians, he will indeed be a great President.

Chris Hunter writes: No doubting Crikey’s man in the USA. Guy Rundle has done much more than just comment on a presidential election. In the process of his travels he has revealed the reverse side of the American tapestry — the complex, hidden, interlacing threads that weave together the American portrait. Guy may indeed bear a passing resemblance to Vladimir Lenin, but his creative ideology is closer to that of John Steinbeck, a visionary author renowned for his searing, social insight. In addition, he has certainly ruffled a few of those moral cynics — the “power intellectuals” left over from the rapidly fading Howard era. How sweet it is. Well done Mr Rundle, in the land of the nighthawks you stayed the course — cursum perficio.

Philip Carman writes: Watching Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last night was one of the most inspiring and moving moments of recent times — akin to the speech made by Kennedy in Berlin and at once, both uplifting and sobering. Let’s hope he gains the support of all in America who need to be converted to allowing the necessary change. Let’s also hope he lives longer than Kennedy did…

David Hand writes: I shed a tear or two as the announcement of the election of Barack Obama was made. The fact that the American people are capable of electing him to the highest office shows that we must not mistake the excesses of an inept, bumbling, corrupt regime for the soul of a nation. Though made up of a vast array of different ideologies, they’re not a bad lot really.

Alan Lander writes: Can we in Australia feel good about this amazing event? Yes we can! Looks like the Dems will have a majority in the Congress, the Senate, plus majority numbers of governors and legislators – in short, a clean sweep. If people think that’s too much, remember who made it happen: good ol’ boy GWB. At least he did something right in the end.

Christian Kent writes: Obama 2012: Keep the Change?

Troy Rich writes: Re. Yesterday’s Special edition: President of the United States, Barack Obama editorial. What do you mean “A black man, now president, a life and a half from slavery.” Firstly, he is half non-black and is partly of English descent, just as I and many “‘white” Australians are. Secondly, unlike many African-Americans his family were never slaves. It’s akin to saying “six generations from convicts” when my forebears were all free settlers in the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley! Maybe you were excited at the time but it was a poorly written editorial on a very significant occasion.

George Karzis writes: There are times (I must admit) when I wonder why I still read Crikey. It is a lot of pieces to get through and sometimes they can be a little too long… But then one of you produce an editorial like this:

“Two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.”

That’s what he inherits. The worst of times. Cometh the man.

“This victory alone is not the change we seek, it is only the chance to make that change.”

It’s just five years since Barack Obama came from next to nothing to the US Senate. A black man, now president, a life and a half from slavery. This changes not only American politics but something subliminal and effective at the heart of us all.

“The enduring power on of our ideals … unyielding hope.”

Which is something we can share.

“That American creed … yes we can.”

Hope.

And you make it the opening editorial, at an appropriately momentous moment. And I am reminded of why Crikey matters, so much. A life and a half from slavery. Just beautiful writing. Do keep it up.

Paul Graham writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. Crikey wrote: “…it would seem that change is afoot in the world’s largest democracy.” If you measure large by the amount of money spent, or the interminable length of the election process, then fine — however if — as I do, you measure it by the number of people voting, or eligible to vote — then I’d say India gets the guernsey. Thank God it’s over, thank God Obama blitzed it, and thanks to Crikey for the daily updates from Rundle.

Susan Carden writes: Your edition today about the US election depicts a democratic donkey (Obama/Biden) and what appears to be a pig (McCain/Palin). Shouldn’t it be a Democratic donkey and a Republican elephant — or is the pig really a truncated elephant? As it all turned out, maybe that is what you were suggesting?

Crikey responds: Susan, we chose two completely different animals to depict the US presidential race; the humble llama (for Obama) and the magnificent pig (with lipstick). We apologise for any confusion.

Climate change:

Ronald Watts writes: Re. “Climate change we can believe in” (yesterday, comments). Much of the debate in these pages on climate change is a layman’s debate — noisy and interesting, but lacking context, rigour, and the touch of the professional climate scientist. Using one series of data is not much better than an Andrew Bolt claim: “we’ve had a cold winter, so climate change is crap”. Or: “I’ve been coughing. It must be lung cancer”. It’s hard to be a climate scientist (I’m not one): years of study, gathering data, analysis, peer review, consensus building.

A couple of weeks back, I stayed with one in Cambridge. He’s an old friend who is quite brilliant and eminent — a Cambridge chair, an FRS, and a professional life researching and publishing on atmospheric circulation. He works with all the key figures in the IPCC, but seeks no publicity. I asked him for his view of the state of understanding of climate futures. He said: “It’s like walking along a path in the fog. As far as we can see ahead, the path slopes down (i.e. to catastrophic change — my words). As the fog clears a little more, we see further, and the path slopes even more steeply downwards”.

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t continue to question this précis. Nor would he. But we kid ourselves if we think we are doing anything other than playful debate at the fringes. If you want to change the consensus, you have to do the rigorous, hard stuff, in context, and that’s how it should be. Anecdotes and data fragments might be fine for homeopaths, but this topic deserves better.

Westfield:

John Bevan writes: Re. “Westfield’s tough tactics being brought to bear on British retailers” (item 23). Surely the retailers didn’t sign up to move in without signing a binding contract. That would be like filling your car up with fuel then asking the servo owner “by the way what is the price”?

Palm Island:

Michaela Rost writes: Re. “Palm Island: Tallying the injuries between black and white” (29 October, item 12). The Palm Island issue should be taken to the Supreme Court and if no success there then to the UN and International Court of Justice.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

Peter Fray

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