Posts tagged "politics"

The Tea Party Woes

The Tea Party movement has been the media story of this election but are they the real reason for the Democrats woes?

With Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell as figureheads for your movement you’re never going to struggle for column inches in the national media. Indeed, if Kanye West decided to join, the Tea Party movement could boast having America’s most inflamatory orators on board.

With all these news stories circulating, it still remains to be seen how much influence the Tea Partiers have had on the coming mid-term elections, even if it’s quite obvious that the Democrats are going to receive a kicking. The problem of the Tea Party movement for the Democrats has not been the ground swell of opposition supposedly against them but instead how much they have allowed it to command the US media and the national discussion.

Obama's economic troubles

Last September I was in DC when the Tea Party held its first march on Washington, DC. The headline-grabbing slogans calling Obama a socialist, or in some cases much worse, were a troubling sight but talking and listening to the members of the crowd who had travelled to the capital it quickly became apparent that the signs were more a product of Fox News’ dominance in the market than the USA fostering a lot of bigots. That march in September 2009 was full of scared, hurt and angry people who didn’t know what was in store for them. The world had changed around them and blue collar workers no longer knew their place in a world of emerging markets like China, Brazil and India. Sadly ignorance borne from a lack of neutral facts coming from the USA’s biggest news channel and that detestable human trait of railing against what is alien to oneself in times of need is what most politico’s in DC saw that weekend and dismissed the rally as a vent of anger that would dissipate.

That dissipation never happened. The Tea Party movement has had effect in the political world by ridding the Republican party of the more liberal conservatives, with the election of “true conservative” Republican candidates in the primaries. The America outside the insulated political class had spoken and left its media arm amplifying the concern to epic proportions. According to the media, the great hope of President Obama was beginning to cave and, depending to your world view, America was about to take it’s country back or the yokels from Deliverance were about to take a trip to Washington.

The fear of many Americans

With the Tea Party’s boot stomping through the political landscape, everyone has gotten muddy. Campaigns have been vicious. News investigations have been seedy and shallow. Political advertisements have been aggresive. Slogans have replaced policy. As a result, the Democrats have lost focus on the tasks they said they’d complete after Obama was sworn in as the 44th president. Too many times they have tried to defend themselves against media stories and rumours rather than listen and talk to the people they way they did on their way to winning the presidency.

For example, President Obama had strong support from the Hispanic community in 2008, an under-represented group in the US, after telling them that immigration reform was a priority. However, his party have been guilty of allowing too many Tea Party slogans to set the news agenda on the economy, overshadowing this discussion that in the long and medium term could benefit deficit reduction. In a YouGov poll, 31% approve of his handling of immigration, while 57% disapprove. It’s a trend that’s repeated across most public interest sectors. The Tea Party has had little to say about what they’d specifically do on anything due to the media’s agenda forcing Democrats to be defensive rather than confront the Tea Party head on. This is why the main political opponent to the Democrats this election has been the news outlets rather than the Republicans.

The Tea Party has undoubtedly re-energised a Republican party that looked dead in the water less than two years ago but their power and influence has been overblown by a hysterical media industry. The Democrats will not suffer because of the Tea Party’s grand plans for the nation being more popular; they will suffer because they spent too long listening to the news rather than the people. This has been the election between the TV pundits, not the politics.

The liberal agenda?


Comedian Richard Herring discussing James Naughtie’s slip of the tongue on BBC Radio 4 where he called culture secretary Jeremy Hunt “Jeremy Cunt”. What’s worse is that he is a bit of one. Filmed for AOL UK by me.

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Christina Taylor Green, the little Tucson girl killed in the shooting Saturday, was herself an office-holder, having just won a seat on her elementary school's student council.

What is Europe’s role in a world shaped by the USA and China?

Europe Flags

2011’s opening has been one of the most traumatic for foreign diplomacy in generations. The recent disaster in Japan has come in the midst of the Arab Spring and left foreign policy scrambling to help old friends, make new ones, or sever ties that should have long been severed. To add to the mix the natural disasters in places such as Haiti, Australia and New Zealand, not to mention the poverty that still afflicts much of the developing world, have led to a succession of humanitarian crises that only a rolling news channel could love; each costing money at a time when there is scarce liquidity in the markets. To make matters worse, these exterior worries have come at a time of great interior strife. Obamacare and the repercussions of the financial crisis have polarised, and made toxic, opinion in America. The kids are most certainly not all right in Britain. Anti-immigration mixed with anti- Islamification has spread through European states, while inflation looms large over China and Brazil’s rapid development. However, while America and China have thus far managed to keep the blinkers on as a new world order blooms, the European Union has been forced to face up to the most difficult questions.

Whether on the subject of financing the crippled periphery member states, or which face to put on to the outside world in the wake of the Arab uprisings, Europe has repeatedly fluffed its lines, seemingly unsure of its role in the world. The problem has been clarity of voice. In 2009, the former British foreign minister David Miliband noted the choices of the EU. It faced the choice, he told the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), between becoming a major global player or a “paper tiger” preoccupied with beau racy. For all its posturing, first over financial reforms and lately on the Arab uprisings, the EU can be accused of not heeding his warning.

Within the European region, the cost of helping the periphery states along in their hour of need has proved too much for the citizens of countries such as Germany, who cannot see why they should be forced to pay for their financial sensibility. With elections looming, Germany has robbed the EU of Angela Merkel’s strong and astute decisions as she fights to put out the flames at home. For much the same reason, Nicholas Sarkozy has been heavy-handed in his quest for economic reform and together with Merkel now risks creating a two-tier EU, with the reckless periphery increasingly begrudging the moral lessons from their European cousins while countries such as Britain and Sweden look on indifferently. Looking to the factions within America’s political sphere, a two-tier Europe would become a stalemate. For the EU zone to remain competitive in a world dominated by America and China these superpowers need one point of contact and a two- tier state will diffuse that voice.

If the question of finance is causing friction between member states, the schizophrenia of EU foreign policy is an even more difficult one to fathom for those looking to deal with the EU. The problem is baggage from each country’s previous role. Indeed, one recent example can again be found in France’s President Sarkozy. With his foreign ministry slow to react to the uprising in former colony Tunisia, and then later becoming embroiled in scandal, President Sarkozy has brought in the seasoned professional Alain Juppe as foreign minister and led from the front with the coalition’s efforts in Libya to show France he still rules the roost and knows how to end on the right side of history.

However, this bloody-mindedness has led to a difference of opinion with one of France’s strongest EU allies. “I say what I think and he says what he thinks,” snapped Juppe after an open disagreement with German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, who sided with Brazil and Russia in a vote on the 1973 UN resolution and said no to action in Libya. Westerwelle is undermined by his standing in the provincial elections in Germany and the backing of what is a clouded, worrisomely open-ended confrontation at a time when Germans want their politicians looking after Germany instead of the world could indeed be costly. As to what this means for EU foreign policy, Juppe told French newspaper Le Monde, “the common defence policy of Europe? It is dead.”

If European members cannot deal with one another, why should the world deal with it? Is Europe’s role in the new world order to sit quietly in the corner? The EU has two strong points that, in this writer’s opinion, could indeed make it vital in a world dominated by America and China.

For all its internal squabbling, the EU can at least say they’re stable disagreements. European President Herman Van Rompuy rightly pointed out in a recent speech that “Europe has mastered multilateralism unlike any other union of Sovereign states.” Difference of opinion is also necessary for innovation.

The second strong point is location. The EU can become the confluence between East and West and bring into the fold Africa as it develops. The EU’s population is ageing and needs to attract a new workforce to pay for the state. According to the European Policy Centre, the EU will need 384,000-700,000 IT workers by 2015 and between 1-2m healthcare workers by 2020. With European brands mining their way into new territories, quality association is not a problem for the EU. With an already strong infrastructure, if Europe can get the logistics of circular migration right the EU could become the global hub for business, a meeting ground for BRICs and America. With this role in business, its political clout and influence as a mediator between America and China will also grow.The EU has many choices to make in the coming years, but if it negotiates the path and avoids the internal bickering that it often finds itself burdened with, the EU’s role as a meeting point between two super powers can make it a powerful player between the BRICs and the established wealth of the world. It sounds simple…


The Dry Season

A beautiful, haunting story about one area’s problems with drought and how it has changed a way of life. The New York Times have done it once again.


Reading the Riots study to examine causes and effects of August unrest

guardian:

The causes and consequences of the English riots last month, the most serious bout of civil unrest in a generation, will be examined in a study by the Guardian and the School of Economics.

Journalism acting as the 4th estate  - finding answers instead of peddling opinions as many politicians seem to be right now.


thedailyfeed:

Today’s cover story is on Iran’s latest attempt at international terror — the shadowy operatives, the Mexican hit squad and the elaborate (and foiled) plot to bomb embassies and assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador on U.S. soil. 

Like that underneath Life’s wonderful photo essay looking at Muslim women in different ways, the Daily runs with this. Tumblr juxtapositioning at its finest. Would a print title get away with this?

thedailyfeed:

Today’s cover story is on Iran’s latest attempt at international terror — the shadowy operatives, the Mexican hit squad and the elaborate (and foiled) plot to bomb embassies and assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador on U.S. soil. 

Like that underneath Life’s wonderful photo essay looking at Muslim women in different ways, the Daily runs with this. Tumblr juxtapositioning at its finest. Would a print title get away with this?


The startling vote came up at a City Council meeting here on Tuesday, provoked by a run-of-the-mill budget dispute over services that had spun out of control: decriminalize domestic violence.

Three arms of government, all ostensibly representing the same people, have been at an impasse over who should be responsible for — and pay for — prosecuting people accused of misdemeanor cases of domestic violence.

City leaders had blamed the Shawnee County district attorney for handing off such cases to the city without warning. The district attorney, in turn, said he was forced to not prosecute any misdemeanors and to focus on felonies because the County Commission cut his budget. And county leaders accused the district attorney of using abused women as pawns to negotiate more money for his office.

After both sides dug in, the dispute came to a head Tuesday night.

By a vote of 7 to 3, the City Council repealed the local law that makes domestic violence a crime.

…“To have public officials pointing fingers while victims of domestic violence are trying to figure out who will protect them is just stunning,” said Joyce Grover, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.


Average Income of Top 1% Rose 275% since 1979


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