Tag Archives: USA

Why working-class people vote conservative

Why on Earth would a working-class person ever vote for a conservative candidate? This question has obsessed the American left since Ronald Reagan first captured the votes of so many union members, farmers, urban Catholics and other relatively powerless people – the so-called “Reagan Democrats”. Isnt the Republican party the party of big business? Dont the Democrats stand up for the little guy, and try to redistribute the wealth downwards?

via Why working-class people vote conservative | Society | The Guardian.

This is a fascinating article from Jonathan Haidt, a professor of Psychology and New York University’s Stern School of Business, and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, asking a question that gets asked on both sides of the pond as to why people who would benefit much more from the policies of the left, vote for parties on the right.

A universal plug socket… at last?

Three pins. Two pins. Slanting pins. Straight. Circular.

In a world where there is no global standard for plug design, taking electrical items abroad can be fraught with difficulties. But now a solution may be at hand – and already in use in China.

via BBC News – A universal plug socket… at last?.

So it seems one of the problems we left the Chinese in 1999 was Hong Kong having the British three pin plugs, and rather than change the colony they seem to be rolling out a new multi-standard plug. What the article doesn’t mention of course is that it’s not just different physical plugs, in North America the voltage is different also, now if they have a plug socket that deals with that problem, that would be really interesting.

Endorsement

Seems I’m not alone in being disturbed by the palling around with terrorists/Muslim associations.

This is the full video of General Colin Powell, member of the Republican party, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State in the first George W Bush administration, endorsing Barack Obama for the next President.

Powell is considered a moderate Republican, has donated to the McCain campaign, and indeed was touted as a possible running mate for McCain, and he doesn’t just endorse Barack Obama. In a measured and thoughtful statement he questions McCain’s judgement in both his selection of Sarah Palin, and over the recent financial crisis, and then addresses the whole terrorist/Muslim issue head on. It is pretty clear that he thinks that the McCain campaign is quite deliberately associating Obama with a terrorist and letting people believe that he is Muslim, so he unequivocally says that Obama is Christian and always has been. But then he goes further, and questions the assertion that a Muslim can’t be President, highlighting a particular example of a Muslim American who has died serving his country in Iraq. Certainly it is a statement well worth listening to, the question is now how will the McCain campaign respond. Will they turn on Colin Powell? We’ll have to wait and see – but I doubt stuff like this will be uncommon.

Disturbing

I had to share this video that is doing the rounds which is from a report on the English language version of Al Jazeera who went out to a Sarah Palin campaign rally in the conservative heartland of the mid-West.

There has been quite a bit of discussion over the fact that McCain seems unwilling to publicly use Jeremiah Wright in the campaign. Call me sceptical, but my thought is that it pays the McCain campaign to not highlight an association between Obama and a Christian pastor if potential voters think he is a Muslim. This video also shows the effect of keeping on repeating the palling around with terrorists comment on parts of the electorate, despite the reality being rather different.

All in all though it is a disturbing picture of the opinions of some of the McCain supporters.

Watching the Debate

Last night was the first of the US Presidential debates, which after initial suggestions by John McCain that it should be postponed, went ahead with the participation of both major candidates.

Since of course it took place in the middle of the night UK time, various of the UK channels have been rerunning either the whole debate, or highlights. You can watch the full debate on the BBC News site. Of course in the UK we don’t have a say, but thanks to the close relationship our governments have recently had with each other, it does have an effect on those of us in the UK.

I’ll leave any discussion of the finer points of policy, but what was interesting was comparing it to what happens over here. Certainly we’ve never had face to face debates like this, what we most commonly have is a series of programmes where each of the individual leaders of the political parties face an audience of voters. Perhaps the main example of a programme where we have opposing parties together is something like Question Time. The interesting difference between both formats and this presidential debate is the silence from the audience. In the UK there is usually an instant response from the audience to statements by the politicians, and on a number of occasions politicians have been heckled by members of the audience. The other difference was, I guess in part due to the rigid time-boxing applied to the debate, there wasn’t that much confrontation. There were a number of points where it was pretty obvious that Obama thought he was being misrepresented, tried to cut in, McCain kept ploughing on with his point, and Obama just capitulated and indicated to the chairman that he didn’t wish to respond.

Commentators seem split over who came out best. Both campaigns are not surprisingly claiming victory for their candidate, but it wasn’t really clear to me who won. In terms of policies I’m always going to be much more towards Obama, but then in a world driven by soundbites, things like McCains KGB line over Russia, however corny it may seem, probably go over a lot better than trying to explain the massive complexity of the political situation in the former Soviet Union. You can make your own mind up by watching the full debate.

20080926_Oxford_MS_FirstDebate0377 originally uploaded by Barack Obama.

Finally Some Division Interrupts the Sunbathing at the Primates Conference

Until last night, for members of the press, the Primates Meeting in Tanzania has been a somewhat boring affair. Firstly, the meeting itself has been kept carefully separate, so effectively the media have just had to sit around by the pool and gossip. Such is the flakiness of the internet connection, that in fact Ruth Gledhill who has stayed in London is able to produce just as complete reports as Stephen Bates. Largely it seems that those over there have been left with nothing much to do but sit by the pool sunbathing.

The reason the press has been so bored, is that up until now, events have not gone according to the script. First off, thanks it seems to a bit of strong leadership from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Jefferts Schori, and the Archbishop of York John Sentamu (invited by Rowan Williams to represent the Church of England allowing him to focus on chairing the meeting) were allowed to stay, and other primates didn’t leave. Yet again it seems that it is an example of how in this whole sorry affair, people are happy to try and boot another group out, but won’t leave themselves.

Following that, the report that was widely expected to back the conservative line that the Episcopal Church was ‘in breach’ of the Windsor report, actually came out and said that they were pretty much in line – more than that it criticised the anti-Windsor actions of people like Archbishop Akinola who have been setting up Churches in the US, as reported by Stephen Bates. Having said that this did produce some reaction – but again this was on the web, not from the conference centre.

There was a bit of excitement yesterday, when Archbishop Akinola, returning from a meeting outside the primates part of the conference centre got spotted and cornered by the press – although he was less than talkative…

However, the press got a little bit of division last night, when seven of the primates failed to attend the communion service – although it should be noted that this was half as many as failed to attend at the previous meeting two years ago. This does seem to be the first bit of real division that has occurred amongst the primates. Giles Fraser predicted the tactic:

Especially keep in mind the first principle of effective warfare: take their strength, and turn it into a weakness. Make them feel they are fighting for the truth of the gospel. Make them feel that everything hangs on it; that it’s all down to them. That way, they will be able to justify any behaviour — cruelty, bullying, division — and eventually the whole thing will collapse in bitterness and recrimination. Allow them to do our work for us. The fact that they won’t take communion together is a cracking start.

Alongside this, last Sunday Ruth Gledhill compared this sort of behaviour to what happens to her five year old son.

Putting it in to context, in the Guardian today, Giles Fraser also highlights quite how much this high level Church politics and globe trotting really matters:

For the communion allows bishops of crisis-stricken dioceses to get on a plane and reinvent themselves as players on the world stage. Many parishes see less and less of their bishops as they clock up the air miles.

In the traditional Church of England, the parish is the unit that matters to most worshippers. And at the level of the parish, the crisis in global Anglicanism is irrelevant. While bishops and archbishops squabble and plot, the local church gets on with saying its prayers and caring for the needy. These faithful are now being badly let down by their leadership.

So what will be the outcome? I really don’t know, but I’m half expecting a compromise to be reached. Look at what’s happened. In terms of the conference, aside from the publicity stunt last night, there have been none of the predicted walk-outs, and as Giles Fraser has pointed out, how relevant will whatever happens be to the people on the ground anyway? Thankfully Dave Walker (sadly another person who couldn’t find a news organisation or Church expense account to fund a week in the sun) is on hand to put it all into context.

Archbishop Akinola avoids the press and The White Sands originally uploaded by scottgunn.