Day: May 7, 2010

The British Parliamentary Election: Lessons For America And The GOP

The British parliamentary elections brought a lot of attention in the past few weeks due to the fact that, for the first time, the candidates for Prime Minister debated, an idea adopted from the American Presidential elections belatedly, but now there will be no chance to back off from such debates in the future!

It was also noted that the Liberal Democrats, the small third party represented in the House of Commons, was perceived as running a competitive race, and its candidate for Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, came across as charismatic and appealing in a way not typical for British politics. Of course, in reality, the hype for the Liberal Democrats was much greater than the result, as there was disappointment in the actual performance in relation to seats gained.

Also, the Conservative party, angling to regain control of government for the first time in thirteen years, ran a campaign promoting a more centrist view, and showing interest and concern for social reforms that could appeal to middle class voters. David Cameron, its candidate for Prime Minister, ran a masterful race of moderate centrist conservatism, and although the Conservative Party did not gain a majority of the House of Commons, it came out as the number one party in seats, and will be working to gain support of enough Liberal Democrats to form a government. The whole idea of a third party having a crucial role in formation of what has basically been a two party system forever is a stunning development!

The lessons for America is that even with all of the expectations that may exist for a third party, it will, invariably, disappoint in actual result, as shown in Great Britain today and in America many times in the past!

The closest situation in America that may remind one of the pivotal role, despite disappointment in seats gained in Parliament, of the Liberal Democrats in Britain would be the all time greatest and most influential third party in American history, the Bull Moose Progressives of 1912, who ran Theodore Roosevelt for President, ended up second in popular and electoral votes, won the most states (6) ever of a third party, and threw the election to Woodrow Wilson, the second lowest percentage winner of the Presidency in American history! Otherwise, third parties have been great disappointments, although at times affecting election results in minor, rather than major, ways!

The lesson for the Republican party is that the Conservatives only ended up first because of their moderation and centrism, but the indications are that the GOP will NOT learn from the British example, and will continue to veer to the far right, and likely lose most of the American people in the process! Regaining of political power, historically, has been by the moderate, centrist route!

The Conservatives in Britain came to the realization that they could not win by copying Margaret Thatcher! The Republicans need to realize that they cannot win by copying Ronald Reagan! The past is the past, and to win, they must look to reality of where most people are when they vote–the moderate center!

Cinco De Mayo And The American Flag: Why Can’t They Coexist? :(

A really ridiculous example of educational administrators using bad judgment is what happened on Wednesday in the suburbs of San Francisco.

May 5 was the celebration of Cinco De Mayo, the Mexican national holiday. There is nothing wrong with Mexican Americans celebrating their national heritage!

But a group of high school boys came to school on Wednesday wearing clothing bearing the American flag. They were ordered to remove the flag items or turn the shirts inside out to hide the flag symbol. They were threatened with suspension or being told to leave school for the day.

The story was that supposedly some Hispanic students would be affronted by the flag clothing. There was concern that there could be confrontations between Hispanic and white Anglo students.

The school apologized for the action against the white Anglo students, as well they should. One must not give in to threats or intimidation from any source!

The answer is that this situation was a perfect opportunity to promote tolerance, open mindedness and patriotism to both the Hispanic students and the Anglo students! It should not be that students are denied the right to express their patriotism just because of an ethnic holiday!

In the future, there is a need to hold assemblies for students, in which both tolerance of cultural diversity and demonstrations of patriotism by people of differing ethnic backgrounds should be seen as positive matters that do not conflict with each other’s sensitivities. These students must enter a world in which understanding and appreciation of others who are different than us is essential to promote good will and peace in our society and in the world!

Newt Gingrich Being Totally Irresponsible And A Demagogue!

Former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, always considered very intelligent and knowledgeable, but also seen as very confrontational and divisive in his years in the House of Representatives, has been, as Richard Cohen of the Washington Post wrote recently, on a “tear” lately in his vicious attacks on the Obama Administration.

Considered a likely candidate for the GOP Presidential nomination in 2012, even though he has been out of elective office since 1998, Gingrich has used the words “socialism” and “secularism” very loosely and attacked what he calls “Cultural Elites”!

The problem is that he, himself, is part of the “Cultural Elites”, as he is a former college professor with a Ph. D. in History who speaks in such a way that most “ordinary” people would have trouble understanding his intellectual bent!

Gingrich promotes religion and “family values”, but he has been married three times, divorced twice, admitted to an extramarital affair, and served his first wife with divorce papers while she lay in the hospital after cancer surgery! 🙁

As Richard Cohen points out, Gingrich lives in a very wealthy suburb of Washington, DC. He has never been in the military, but always promotes them as if he was a war veteran himself! He has never worked in the business world, but acts as if government is evil, even though his whole career has been one of being in government or being paid to comment on government! 🙂

But he revels in calling Barack Obama “socialist”, when, as any reasonable person would have to admit, Obama is FAR from being a Socialist, even on National Health reform (no public option)!

As Cohen states, Gingrich lives off controversy and provocation! He promotes trouble and mischief! Cohen concludes: “He is good at being bad. He is just not any good at being good.”

To this, I say “Amen” without invoking religion! LOL 🙂

Glenn Beck’s New, Distorted Attack On Progressive Presidents Woodrow Wilson And Franklin D. Roosevelt!

Talk show host Glenn Beck is on a tear again, telling his audiences that it is progressives who were the biggest racists and violators of civil liberties in American History, particularly Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt!

Interesting how Beck distorts history and reality! 🙁 He is wrong in his facts and in his interpretation!

Let me make it clear that racism and civil liberties violations are a problem throughout American history without a doubt! But the facts are that while it is clear that Wilson worsened race relations during his administration, and has been roundly condemned for that, he cannot really be blamed for the violations of civil liberties known as the Red Scare which occurred during the last 18 months of his administration, when he lay paralyzed by a stroke and the government was really leaderless, giving Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer the freedom to abuse civil liberties!

While it is true that Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, he did not do it without widespread support from most Americans, including many Republicans and conservatives, with California Republican Attorney General Earl Warren, the future Chief Justice, really actively promoting the idea in the two months after Pearl Harbor before FDR issued the executive order. To call what happened specifically racist seems unjustified, as it was more a reaction against the hysteria and panic felt throughout America after the surprise attack on our naval base in Hawaii!

Meanwhile, it was conservatives and Republicans who willingly abandoned Southern blacks at the end of Reconstruction, leaving their futures to conservative Southern Democrats who promoted “Jim Crow” racial segregation under the Republican Presidents, who no longer cared about the lives of African Americans in the South!

It was also a conservative and Republican dominated Supreme Court that authorized segregation as constitutional in 1896 in Plessy V. Ferguson!

It was also conservative Republican President Calvin Coolidge who appointed J. Edgar Hoover as head of the FBI, a new government agency created in 1924 that proceeded to violate civil liberties much of the time during the 48 year career of Hoover!

It was conservatives and Republicans, headlined by Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, who promoted the Second Red Scare after World War II!

It was Republican President Richard Nixon who authorized illegal bugging and wiretapping that led to widespread violations of civil liberties of Americans opposed to the Vietnam War!

So although “Progressives” such as Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt certainly can be blamed in some respects for violations of civil rights and civil liberties during their administrations, the heavier burden of responsibility for violations of civil rights and civil liberties must be laid at the door of conservatives of any political persuasion, as well as members and leaders of the Republican party!

For Glenn Beck to conjure up that it was “Progressives” who were the major perpetrators of violations of civil rights and civil liberties is, as MSNBC talk show host Ed Schultz terms it,
“Psycho Talk!” 🙂

More Than Half A Million Jobs Created In Last Four Months: A Good Start!

The US Labor Department reports that a total of 573,000 jobs have been created in the past four months!

Revised figures show 14,000 job growth in January, 39,000 in February, 230,000 in March, and 290,000 in April!

This is great news, but the reality is that, even with that job growth, with more seeking work, the unemployment numbers went up from 9.7 percent in March to 9.9 percent in April, which sobers the thoughts of happiness!

There is a long way to go, considering that there are more than 15 million people out of work, and it will still take many years before the unemployment rate returns to “acceptable” levels of 5-6 percent.

This is the result of failed economic policies of the Bush Administration, plus the open abuses practiced by corporations and banks, which led to the Great Recession we are now suffering through!

But at least, there is optimism that the number of jobs created will continue to grow as the months go by!