The New Democrat Online

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lib Dem Voice: Opinion: Barry Holliday: Electoral Reform, How To: How to Reform the U.K. Parliament

Lib Dem Voice: Opinion: Barry Holliday: Electoral Reform, How To

Things are already changing very fast in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the Scottish independence referendum in September, devolution and federalism is coming to Britain perhaps as early as next year. At least an agreement on what a federalist United Kingdom would look like. With the unitarian socialist state in Britain collapsing, with more power headed to the states as Americans would call it and the people of Britain over their own domestic affairs.

But devolution and federalism I believe will only work as an American outsider looking in on Britain, if they reform their Parliament as well. Because at the end of the day, for England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland to be able to function properly in the United Kingdom, they will need to be well represented in Parliament in London with a functioning bicameral Parliament so not all over the power and resources are not so centralized in London with the national or federal government and in England.

For a bicameral Parliament to work in Britain the House of Lords or whatever they may call it in the future, perhaps the U.K. Council or Lordship, perhaps even Senate, needs to function like the upper chamber of Parliament that it is supposed to be. Where they actually have a say in what laws are passed in Parliament and not just be a rubber stamp for the House of Commons. Where they can conduct real oversight of the U.K. Government and have at least the same power and authority as the House of Commons. And where members of this body can be part of Prime Ministers Questions.

The way I would reform the U.K. Parliament is similar to how the U.S. Congress looks. The lower chamber the House of Representatives where Representatives represent districts inside of states. And where the upper chamber the Senators represent the whole state in America. But since Britain is a lot smaller physically and in population to America, where they would represent districts as well inside of a state. But with each state lets say in the U.K. Senate getting an equal amount of Senators. But in the House the Commons would be proportioned based on population.

England would still have more Commons than anyone else because they are by far the biggest state in the United Kingdom. But this would be a real bicameral parliament and the Lordship or Council or even Senate, each state would be represented equally. So England, Scotland, Wales and North Ireland would all have the representation in parliament needed to bring back the resources that their districts and states need from London to be able to function properly.




Salon: Opinion: Britney Cooper: "We Must Abandon Bill Cosby: A Broken Trust With Women, Black America": Why the Cosby Show Is a Great Role Model For America

Salon: Opinion: Britney Cooper: We Must Abandon Bill Cosby: A Broken Trust With Women

In 1984 when the Cosby Show came on the air on NBC, I was eight years old in September, 1984. Actually I have more to say about this, but in the mid 1980s African-American families were stereotyped as poor, low-class, un-educated, single-parent with the mother trying to raise multiple kids on her own in some run down ghetto inner-city area. Dad completely out of the picture, perhaps in prison, or mom unaware of who the father of her kids are. The Cosby Show certainly not by itself, but they changed the way Americans looks at African-Americans and African-American families.

That alone makes the Cosby Show a success. Because even thirty-years ago not all African-American families were in that poor situation. Sure a lot of them and more than the national average as still is the case today. But the Cosby Show did what few other shows and perhaps only the Jefferson's did in the 1970s. Which was to show successful African-Americans and their kids. And that they have made it in America and that the entire community is not poor, un-educated, low-class, not knowing who their father was or dad leaving them when they were young.

The Cosby Show was sort of a stereotypical American dream. Dad is a successful doctor, mom is a successful lawyer. They live in a beautiful upper class neighborhood and house in New York City. They have great intelligent beautiful kids who are all doing well and are all successful. They were living the upper middle class dream and showing Americans another side of African-American life that probably far too many Americans perhaps of all races were not aware of.

And as funny as this show was and I don't know if there has ever been a funnier and better comedian on TV with their own sitcom than Bill Cosby, but as funny and as popular that show was, it had a very serious message. That African-Americans can make it in America and that Americans of all races can live, work, socialize with each other and not be bogged down by the fact that someone in the group or multiple people in the group has a different complexion or from a different race.

The Cosby Show was about a successful New York African-American family, but the show wasn't about race. It was about the lives of these people in this family and the show hardly focused on race at all and rarely if ever cracked racial or ethnic jokes on the show. Because that is not what the show was about, but it was about another side of the African-American story that hadn't been told up to that point. That not all African-Americans are poor and un-educated with criminal records etc. But that they are also successful and educated and doing very well in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Salon: Opinion: Jeffrey Taylor: Reza Aslam's Atheism Problem: "Fundamentalists Aren't the Issue, Apologists For Religions Are"

Salon: Opinion: Jeffrey Taylor: Reza Aslam's Atheism Problem: Fundamentalists Atheists Aren't the Problem, Apologists For Religions Are

Jeffrey Taylor makes a good and I would argue real Atheist argument against religion. Even though he writes for Salon, (ha ha) he didn't use his article to bash Christianity. But to say that all religions have serious issues more or less and that is a big reason why he doesn't believe in religion. Which has been my whole point and is my whole point about religion and a big reason why I'm Agnostic. That religions are too restrictive for my more liberal outlook on life as someone who wants to and lives openly. And religions tend to be followed by people who don't understand their religion and do horrible things as a result.

There are good people of all faiths and I doubt anyone serious disagrees with that. And yes there are radicals probably in all religions that give that religion a bad name. But the problem is there are enough radicals to not only give Christianity and Islam a bad name, but to do a lot of damage to society and other societies that hurt a lot of people. Including people who follow the same religion and follow that religion incorrectly and do horrible things in the name of their religion. Even though their religion does not sanction their horrible acts.

I'm not saying that religion is bad and that all religions are bad and dangerous. That is where I would probably separate from Sam Harris and I've backed him several times on this blog the last few weeks. It is people who don't understand the religion that they follow, including religious leaders that don't follow the religion they follow. And lead that inspire people to do horrible things that is the problem. And something that is going to have to be addressed if the Middle East is ever to become a stable place where people can live in peace and live good lives.

Politico Magazine: Opinion: Larry Sabato: How Goldwater Changed Campaign Forever: The Impact of the 1964 Presidential Election

Politico Magazine: Opinion: Larry Sabato: How Goldwater Changed Campaigns Forever

Not many if any Republicans including Senator Barry Goldwater expected Goldwater to win the 1964 presidential election by defeating President Lyndon Johnson and for Congressional Republicans to do anything in Congress. They were expecting big defeats as it related to both the presidential election and Congress. But that wasn't what the 1964 general elections were about for Goldwater Republicans Goldwater Conservatives.

1964 to follow up about what I wrote yesterday, was to create a choice and give Americans a choice in who to vote for. Present a Republican Party that was completely different from the GOP from the 1950s and completely different from the FDR/LBJ progressive Democratic Party. A party that was a lot less government especially federal government oriented. A party that was lot more federalist and more individualistically oriented. That wanted to turn power over to the states and people over their own affairs.

They wanted to create a new party that Conservatives and other right-wingers would feel welcome in. And take power away from the Northeastern Progressives that had been running the GOP and perhaps even make Progressives feel unwanted in the GOP. 1964 wasn't about winning for Barry Goldwater and other Republicans, but building a winning coalition that could put Republicans back in power in the future. That they simply didn't have going into the 1964 general elections.

1966 was about Republicans winning right-wing seats in Congress in House districts and Senate seats. So they could become a factor in Congress again and no longer be buried in the minority in Congress. 1968 is when Richard Nixon figured out how Republicans can win back the White House and win more seats in Congress. And 1968 is where we really see the political flip in American politics. Where Southern states look Republican and Northern states look Democratic. But it all started in 1964 and Barry Goldwater deserves a lot of credit for it.

New Republic: Opinion: John B. Judis: Democrats Hope Battleground Texas Can Turn the State Blue: How Democrats Could Win in Texas

New Republic: Opinion: John B. Judis: Democrats Hope Battleground Texas Can Turn Texas Blue

Do I think Wendy Davis will be elected Governor of Texas next Tuesday or anytime soon? Of course not because I haven't seen any polls that show that race between her and Greg Abbot is even within five points, perhaps not even ten points. Even though she did do well in the two debates against Greg Abbot and you could argue she won both debates. And she did pick up some big city paper endorsements in Texas as well. But when you are a big underdog going in, you simply can't afford to make the big campaign mistakes that she has, including some bad commercials.

2014 won't be the year for Texas Democrats, but 2018, 2020 we may see that state move in a different direction. And the racial and ethnic trends in that state will be a big factor. With the growing Latino population in that state and the shrinking Caucasian population as well. But that only matters if people vote and right now Republican voters in Texas are primarily Caucasian, but they are very reliable voters. Latinos aren't right now and only vote big in presidential elections.

So a growing Latino population in Texas won't be enough to make that state competitive in Texas for Democrats. If they have this idea that they'll just wait until Texas looks like California, especially Los Angeles and San Francisco, or look like Seattle, or Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington politically, culturally, racially and ethnically, Texas will remain red indefinitely. Because one thing that Texans of all backgrounds prides themselves on is that they are like those big blue cities and blue states.

For Texas Democrats to succeed, they have to succeed in Texas and win Texas voters. Instead of campaigning there like they are campaigning in Los Angeles, or San Francisco or New England. They have to win voters in Texas and when the other party outnumbers you, you have to win over voters who tend to vote Republican. But perhaps aren't as far to the right or as partisan as others Republicans and the leadership and looking for an alternative to the Republican Party in Texas.

Going into the 2014 Texas governors race, I thought Wendy Davis at least on paper before all of the campaign mistakes was that type of Democrat. That if she didn't win the election, she would at least make it a race and perhaps start moving the state in a Democratic direction. That hasn't happened because she hasn't run a very good campaign. But on paper she looks very Texan politically, but in a Democratic sense.

Liberal on social issues, pro-gun, pro-choice and not just as it relates to abortion, but other social issues as well, including as it relates to homosexuality. Fiscally responsible, big believer in education and opportunity so more Texans can succeed and not be dependent on public assistance. She looks like a New Democrat in the political and ideological sense, instead of someone from the Progressive Caucus or Green Party trying to convince Texans that they are wrong politically and need to be more progressive or even socialist on a whole wide range of issues.

That is how Texas Democrats can win in Texas in the future, but run effective campaigns without the big errors of the Wendy Davis campaign. Don't treat Texas like California or New England politically, but run in Texas as if you are in Texas speaking to Texan voters who aren't nearly as far to the Left as the big blue states. With a mainstream center-left message built around education and opportunity for all, with big government off everyone's back, where everyone can succeed. That would be a winning message for Texas Democrats in the future and Latinos could help them win with that.

Monday, October 27, 2014

National Journal: Opinion: Norm Ornstein: What If Independents Keep Senate Majority Status in Flux?

National Journal: Opinion: Norm Ornstein: What If Independents Keep Senate Majority In Flux?

What if, what if, what if, what question is more fun to ask and even ask yourself than what if? But the reason why it is such a fun question to ask, is because it gives people that chance to imagine and throw out countless hypotheticals and imagine all sorts of interesting things. But to speak about Norm Ornstein's what if, he may be on to something right now because of how partisan and divided America is politically right now. With an unpopular President, but an unpopular Republican opposition that Americans aren't crazy about having complete control of Congress, both the House and Senate.

This is where the centrists, or as I prefer the more independently minded Senators and Senate candidates come into play. Because let's say we do have a 50-50 Senate in the next Congress with Democrats still in control of the Senate because of Vice President Joe Biden, or a 51-49 Senate in the next Congress that goes either way, without either party having enough of a partisan advantage to run the chamber by themselves, that is where the Independents come into play. Especially if they don't caucus with either party, or are not in lockstep with the political or governing agenda that their leadership wants to push.

In a divided Senate like that, that is where the Independents have the power, Assuming the Leader and Minority Leader are actually interested in governing and passing legislation in that Congress. And not simply looking for the next partisan advantage that will give them a clear majority in the next Congress. When the leadership's in both parties aren't interested in governing and simply looking for partisan advantage, as we've seen a lot in the Congress from both parties in both chambers, Independents do not mean a hell of a lot.

Whoever the next Senate Leader and Minority Leader is, they will still set the tone as far as what that Senate can pass in the next Congress. And if you are like me, you are looking for new leadership at the top in both parties without Harry Reid Mitch McConnell leading their respective caucus's. And hopefully new blood will come in and decide to work with the other party. Because whoever will holds the next Senate majority, it will be paper-thin, perhaps 52-48 at best for one side. And if they decide to govern, the Independents will come into power and a lot legislation could get passed.

Sam Harris: Blog: Interview With Cenk Uygur From The Young Turks

Sam Harris: Blog: Young Turks Interview

What I respect about Sam Harris's atheism is that he's the real thing. He doesn't say Christianity is horrible and should be put down, especially when radical fundamentalists are in the news doing horrible things. But then defends the right of fundamentalists Muslims when they do and say horrible things about people they do not like and defend their right to free speech and Freedom of Religion. Even when these leftist political correctness radicals probably are against Freedom of Religion.

My example of that would be Salon and their coverage of now famous Real Time With Bill Maher show  that Sam Harris and Ben Affleck were on. When Ben Affleck was defending political correctness when it comes to criticism of Muslims, but have no problem attacking Christians when they do and say things that probably most Americans not just disagree with, but even find disgusting. Salon is garbage by the way and that is putting it nicely. They are not much more than a propaganda operation for the far-left in America.

If you a real Liberal and even a real Atheist, you are not going to defend the right of free speech for people you agree with as a Liberal, while trying to shut up the opposition. As we see with leftist fascists on campus that try to block right-wingers from speaking at their schools. And if you are a real Atheist, you are not going to bash one religion and say that it is evil or whatever, while you are saying another religion is perfectly normal and legitimate. One of the points of being an Atheist is that you don't believe in religion and are against religion period. Which I believe is two of the points that Sam Harris is making.