Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Thoughts on US Third Parties.   Leave a comment

This comes from watching the French election, which is a similar legislative-executive system to the US.  I will also admit to voting Green from a disgust with the US duopoly (i.e., the Democrats and Republicans) and its stranglehold on the system.

In a way Dan Savage is correct, the third parties should be running candidates lower down the ticket, in particular for the legislature. That is because a third party would be more effective in pushing its agenda there, or at least in blocking other parties from pushing theirs. It is more effective to be a spoiler/fixer in the legislature than in an election.  Third parties will become a force to be reckoned with once they demonstrate they have power, but they need to be the force to do what the obstructionists in congress have been doing. Or to thwart the obstruction.

One of the Clintonista/Democrat talking points was that the party is a coalition of various political views, but the duopoly parties are failed coalitions.  In some ways, they have become titular left-right parties, although I would argue any difference is more in appearance and relation to hot button issues (e.g. abortion and gun control [1]).  The past election showed how detrimental relying upon hot button issues is to real issues (e.g., the environment).

Third parties are good for keeping politics real. Case in point are the presidential debates which are no longer run by the League of Women Voters.  The president of the LWV, Nancy M. Neuman, denounced this action when the LWV ceased having any real control over the debates:

“It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and honest answers to tough questions,” Neuman said. “The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

Neuman said that the campaigns presented the League with their debate agreement on
September 28, two weeks before the scheduled debate. The campaigns’ agreement was negotiated “behind closed doors” and vas presented to the League as “a done deal,” she said, its 16 pages of conditions not subject to negotiation.

Most objectionable to the League, Neuman said, were conditions in the agreement that gave the campaigns unprecedented control over the proceedings. Neuman called “outrageous” the campaigns’ demands that they control the selection of questioners, the composition of the audience, hall access for the press and other issues.

“The campaigns’ agreement is a closed-door masterpiece,” Neuman said. “Never in the history of the League of Women Voters have two candidates’ organizations come to us with such stringent, unyielding and self-serving demands.”

Neuman said she and the League regretted that the American people have had no real opportunities to judge the presidential nominees outside of campaign-controlled environments.

lwv.org/press-releases/league-refuses-help-perpetrate-fraud
I would that change is drastically needed in US politics, particularly its system of elections, but that will not come as long as the duopoly holds power.

I have pointed out that the Electoral College needs to be abolished, yet the fact that Clinton’s “loss” was due to her failing to secure enough votes in the Electoral College is again overlooked and substituted for blame on everything except the existence of that body (as was the case in 1990).  Both times the “losers” won the popular vote.

Of course, abolition of the Electoral College is only one thing in what is probably a long wish list of electoral reforms needed in the US:

open debates run by an impartial body like the League of Women Voters, shorter election cycles, open primaries, ranked choice voting, return of the fairness doctrine and equal time rule (Trump used the lack of it to get shitloads of free publicity), campaign finance reform–if not publicly funded campaigns, easier access to the ballot for parties, reform or abolish the electoral college, end gerrymandering, handcounted paper ballots or receipts, and I am sure that is only the beginning.

While one can dream that there will be internal change, it doesn’t seem likely since the parties still seem entrenched in the same behaviours which have led to the US political system being the disaster it is.

OK, we also need to add in media consolidation here since it is one way the “state” can get away with  form of censorship, but only allowing one message to get out.  Also controlling any opposing voices.

Any real change has to come through the system since violence will backfire and result in the wrong type of change.  Thus any dissenting parties best chance has to be to try and thwart the duopoly and use the duopoly’s power against it.

Change has to come, but it must come by using the system to gain power and then force change.

[1] This is not to say gun control is not important (or abortion), but these issues have been used to get people to vote against their interests.  Neither is one of left and right, but of public welfare and safety.

Rule of the best

Given that the US is undergoing the Parliament of Fools, what would the US population think about a concept of being ruled by the best citizens. That is the wisest and most benevolent of the members of society?

This question goes to the Greek ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratía), from ἄριστος (aristos) “excellent,” and κράτος (kratos) “power”, or otherwise known as Aristocracy. I know its a system which has taken a bad rap mostly due to people abusing the power. On the other hand, there is such a thing as a Constitutional Monarchy, why not a Constitutional Aristocracy? Any of the Aristocrats would under constitutional restrictions. One of the failings of a hereditary system, that is primogeniture could be thwarted by making the title inheritable to be passed on to more worthy offspring, and possibly even non-family members.

A Constitutional aristocracy would require transparency so that the wealthy wouldn’t be able to abuse the system. Thus the commons would hold some sway over the Aristocrats. Also, part of being an Aristocrat would mean that they had an obligation to the common people, not a power to horde wealth, but to share it. The nobles would be the same as the Anglo-Saxon rulers who were givers of rings (and other treasure).

You have reached the Emergency Services, please enter your customer account number for service

I have to admit a fear of the trend of privatisation in the US and UK, but something came to my attention via Daisydeadhead that reminded me of this sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie – Privatization of the Police Force.

To quote Lisa:

Therefore services are reduced, become fee for service or go away altogether.

People who think we can have nice, safe, clean communities with good educational systems, and up to date infrastructure without having to pay the taxes to support it are simply idiotic. Someone has to pay for it. That’s why we have the common good and the tax structure. We all contribute and if we don’t, our houses may not burn to the ground, but the taxing body has some kind of legal way of getting the money from you.

Being opposed to the common good and the taxes that support it seems just fine until your house is on fire or you get hit with a bunch of new fees (shifted from taxes to fees) when you go to renew your license plate or your kids are now in classes with thirty kids or more or you flatten your tire because the road debris on I75 is left to lay because budget cuts mean road maintenance has been reduced to next to nothing.

Beau Bo D’Or

Thank you, White Rabbit for mentioning Beau Bo D’Or.  He’s a British artist who creates political images which are more meaningful to the British Market, but some of them have relevance to the US.  Such as this one of Rupert Murdoch.  It’s quite appropriate since the Tea Party is basically a Fox News creation

 

Change the Date to the Coming US election and this is quite appropriate!

 

Anyway, here is a video of Beau Bo D’Or’s images.

Unfortunately, the site has been closed down and the images removed.  So, the video is the best sampling you will have of his work.

The Republican Response to Obama’s Speech

OK, I am having some problems with people in the US deciding that Obama’s speech about children getting an education was politically motivated. Rather an amazing response given what crap the US system of public education happens to be. There are many reasons that the wealthy put their children in private Schools in the US.

On the other hand, people don’t seem to begrudge locking away people in prison at a cost of far more than a good public school.

So, here it is.

Ed Meese’s rap song from Da Ali G Show:

“I was attorney general/my name is Meese /I say, go to college/don’t carry a piece.”

Posted 10/09/2009 by lacithedog in Ed Meese, education, politics

Musing on the religious right

There are three constituencies in the US which do not represent the American public, yet have more power than they should: the Israel Lobby, the RKBA crowd, and the religious right. Despite the talk of democracy, and the Constitution, these three groups are the most open in running the American political scene. I could add the Oil Companies in here as well, but they aren’t as vocal or counterproductive to US interests as these three special interest groups.

I said in an earlier blog that I thought Mike Huckabee would be the Republican nominee, which has proven to be wrong. My reasoning was that the religious right appears to be a significant factor in US politics. The real reason may be much simpler in that most citizens of the US are pretty apathetic with the exception of these three groups. The Average American is pretty much fat, dumb, and happy with loads of debt and kept in isolation by too much television which is pretty much crap. To quote Bruce Springsteen, whose music I hate, but has bang on politics: “500 channels and nothing’s on”. Loads of ESPN rubbish. Bread and circuses for the plebians.

Somehow, the religious right’s message is fading away, but I am not sure about their influence. These groups are pretty good at subverting the Constitution. Article VI says that no religious test should be applied, but woe upon Mitt Romney for belonging to a “Cult” (see Mitt Romney post). I’d hate to think about a Jew, or, worse, an ATHEIST running for office.

Fortunately, the Republicans are just that and not democratic, or the squeaky wheel crowd might be fielding Mike Huckabee as a presidential candidate. I’m not sure Huckabee is out of it yet, as he could be in line for being veep. That would be the true test of whether the religious right has any power.

But, it’s people like my sister in law, who was born Jewish, yet supports the republicans out of fear of things like “socialised medicine”. She is less afraid of the religious crowd and voting with her purse. That is the only reason the religious right has appeared to have so much sway. “Conservatives” believe that it could never happen here, forgetting the lesson of Adolph Hitler, who was democratically elected by people who were more afraid of Communism than Hitler’s anti-semitism.

The religious right and RKBA crowd work on the politics of fear. Fear that gays will erode the institution of marriage, destroying the family. On the other hand, what are they doing about the high rate of divorce? Isn’t that eroding family values? There is this myth of a golden era of the church, the family, hardy individuals, and other things which make the US feel good about itself. Never mind Ben Franklin had a bastard son and Thomas Jefferson diddled his slave.

The problem is that the fear mongers are the ones we should be afraid of, as they are taking us farther and farther from a safe world. FDR said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. The world has become a scarier and scarier place under the right wing. We have lost the Communist bogyman who was keeping things safe in Eastern Europe under Bush Senior and lost a Bogyman who kept Iraq under control. Would 9-11 have happened if the Communists were still there to keep a reign on the Islamic world, and we hadn’t given aid to the Mujahadeen who later became Al-Queda?

The problem is that the Genii is out of the bottle due to Americans not thinking and letting the special interests control us. Better yet, maybe our leaders will realise that these groups are not representative of the Ameican people and stop pandering to them.

Perpetual elections

It seems as if the US presidential election has been going on since the end of the last election in 2004. Barely has it officially started and it has been going on far too long.

This whole thing reminds me of the African Politician, I think it was Jomo Kenyatta, talking about the one party versus multiple party systems who said soemthing along the lines of: “Does having one party make us less of a democracy than a two party system? Do two parties make you twice the democracy we are?

That seems particularly appropriate in regard to the US elections. The whole thing goes on far too long, has far too few real leaders, and isn’t really “democratic” anyway. The last one must seem pretty amusing given my comments on democracy. On the other hand, if a nation is going to go around boasting about how it is run by the people, the people should be allowed to properly participate. Instead, quite a few people are disenfranchised.

How? well, the whole process is really run by the parties, which are really Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber. I see no real difference between the parties in practise with the exception of the fact that the “Republicans” tend to favour plutocracy over monarchy. Additionally, they come up with the most divisive and useless issues: “Gun Rights”, “Pro-life” (yet support capital punishment), and religion. This pushes me closer to being a democrat than a republican, even though in English terms I come closer to being a Liberal-Democrat or Conservative!

The funny thing is that Richard Nixon would seem pretty liberal as well by today’s standards for his promotion of such things as the Clean Air and Water Acts!

I would vote for Oliver Cromwell, who was a republican in the sense that the current republican party seems to be, if I wanted a theocracy.

Sorry for the digression, but in quite a few states independents are barred from voting in the primary election. One must declare party affiliation to vote here in Pennsylvania. Sort of like in Northern Ireland: Are you a republican independent or democratic independent? The whole primary system isn’t really run to be fair for all the citizens, it is run to be fair to the parties.

In the 2004 election, I supported General Wes Clark. Yet due to the primary system, he was no longer a candidate when the Pennsylvania primary was run. In fact, it seemed as if the election had pretty much been decided for John Kerry. Now, I am hearing that the Democrats are refusing to seat the Michigan delegation since the State party decided to push its primary forward. Very democratic of them.

As I like to point out, one of the reasons for the American revolution was this desire to be run locally, not by a faceless and distant government. Yet, this is what really ends up happening in US politics. Originally, the candidates were chosen in smoke filled rooms, now we have this pretense that there is democratic input. On the other hand, it is the parties which prolong the primary process until we are numb that really controls the choice of candidates.

So, the people with the largest war chests actually go on to the finish and the voters are screwed as far as choices go. In fact, I hardly hear any substantive discussion of the issues in lieu of sound bites. The real winners are the people behind the scenes who collect all the money which is spent on this process. Indeed fortunes are made on this process; so why make it shorter?

In reality, it is the special interests who really run government in the United States, not the people.

The final insult is the electoral college, which can take a popularly elected Person (e.g., Al Gore) and give the crown to someone who didn’t win, and in Gore’s Opponent’s case, shouldn’t have won. So, it is very amusing to hear George Bush rant on about democracy when he was never really democratically elected!

So, to get back to the Kenyatta quote, having one party or two parties doesn’t make a government “democratic” if the underlying system isn’t really democratic. In fact, it is a sham to claim to be democratic if the real result is to thwart the will of the people. Ultimately, this is not beneficial in the long run.

People are denied leadership by this process. The US stagnates with a lack of serious gun regulation and health care, the economy run for the benefit of the very rich, not for the people. Or as Dubious (Bush) said, “This is an impressive crowd of the haves and have mores. Some people call you the elite, I call you my base.”