A Warning From France

Posted April 26, 2017 on 9:50 am | In the category Election, Europe, Germany, Politics, TRUMP, Uncategorized | by Jeff

The news from France this week was marginally positive with the caveat that a crypto-fascist did come in second and will be in the run-off for President. But for now it seems that the run of Crazy might be winding down after its success in the UK Brexit vote and the election of America’s Chief Clown. Since then the Netherlands has avoided electing neofascists and now France – in the first round of what is one of the West’s most significant electoral tests since the rise of Hitler – has apparently taken a first step towards political sanity. Recognizing that if Macron wins the presidency he will most likely not have a Parliament of his own party, which will likely return France to its tried and true politics of avoidance of real issues and solutions. So the relief may be temporary.

But perhaps the most interesting lesson of this election is that France’s traditional political parties failed to place a candidate in the runoff. And that was the preferred result with the other two major candidates representing, in one instance, the historic corruption of French politicians, and in the other, the amazing capacity for craziness of the French Left. Now it is up to Macron to maintain his lead over Le Pen in the runoff and bring some reassurance not only to France but to the entire EU by waging a serious, competent campaign.

For the U.S. the warning from France was another shot across the bow of our major political parties. It is a reiteration of the warning provided by Trump and another reminder of the failure of both parties to connect to the people with policies and programs that people could understand and respect. The fact that the Republican Party now controls the Congress AND the presidency is less a positive review of their policies than a bizarre accident of fate: long-time self-identified Democrat Donald Trump ran in the Republican primaries because he understood that the competition was composed of losers like Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, etc. It is instructive that the only traditional, mainstream Republican candidate was John Kasich and he never gained any traction.

The Democrats had Hillary Clinton whose campaign never articulated a serious and convincing reason for her candidacy. “It’s her turn” was simply not enough for the millions of people who have seen their quality of life dissipate, the unfairness of the American economy, and the quality of political discourse turn into people simply yelling at each other. It did not help that Clinton had enriched herself with Wall Street speeches and then run a campaign that cheated Bernie Sanders’ followers out of a fair shake. But her failure was a lack of recognition of the depth of anger and despair among a swath of non urban voters in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. While Clinton won the popular vote she lost where it mattered among voters who are simply pissed off. And the blame is not hers so much as the Party’s, which left a large part of its membership behind and never articulated a measure of progressive hope.

The lesson from France – and from the UK and the U.S. – is that there are a lot of people who are angry, who have been left behind, who believe they don’t matter, and who have understandably lost faith in their politicians and their political parties. And then there are the 50% who don’t even bother to vote. Easy to blame them but maybe they need to believe in something for which to vote.

The warnings have been made and it is time for political parties to move beyond serving the needs of their primary funders and candidates and on to the needs of the people they claim to represent.
France’s runoff election is on May 7, and will be followed later in the year by elections in Germany. We shall see what lessons come from those events.

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When is the next aircraft carrier coming?

Posted April 23, 2017 on 1:50 pm | In the category Uncategorized | by Mackenzie Brothers

April 12, 2018 – by direct presidential command: immediate change of course – the Carl Vinson to sail asap to the coast of North Korea.  Roger!  Okay and about time, the new US government under its new czar has taken its kid gloves off and displayed its cards with a flourish.  This time it’s the real deal – no more invisible and meaningless lines in the sand, this time they send in the marines, okay this time it will be a titanic aircraft carrier lurking off coast – the Carl Vinson -with an accompanying armada  of disposable destroyers, etc. to scare the  bejeezus out of the weird North Korean nuclear wannabees.

April 19  One thing:  Australian sources report a large armada of unidentified ships has been spotted sailing south towards Australian waters, and a US Navy press photo confirms that the Carl Vinson sailed through the Straight of Sunda between Java and Sumatra, 5000 kilometres south of North Korea on April 18.   Holy Moley.  Can it be that the US military doesn’t know where its various aircraft carriers are lurking.  Or that it doesn’t know where North Korea is?  Now that  scares the bejeezus out of everybody, not just the Australians

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WATERGATE REDUX

Posted April 6, 2017 on 10:00 am | In the category Press, Uncategorized | by Jeff

The NY Times reported yesterday that student journalists at Pittsburg, Kansas High School did a terrific job of investigative journalism for the High School’s newspaper, the Booster Redux. Seems the town of Pittsburg hired a new Principal for its High School and outlined her impressive credentials in introducing her to the town. Among her credentials: “diverse and extensive experience”, “chief executive of a consulting firm that advised companies on education”, and Master’s and PhD degrees in education from Corllins University as well as
a BA degree in Fine Arts from the University of Tulsa.

The student reporters set out to do a profile of their new Principal and the fun began. During a series of interviews the students began to suspect something was wrong when details in the interviews did not match her written record and led them to dig further. It turns out that the University of Tulsa does not award a BA in Fine Arts, Corllins University does not physically exist but will sell an advanced degree to all comers. Furthermore the Principal had been released from a teaching job in Dubai for unspecified reasons.

It is not surprising that a group of eager high school journalists could ferret out the information but it is somewhat surprising that the faculty advisor and Superintendent of Schools supported them and the process throughout, High school newspapers in America are frequently tightly controlled and censorship is common. But kudos to Pittsburg High School for providing an opportunity for their students to learn valuable lessons about the importance of a free press and how serious journalists can make a difference.

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