Tag Archives: politics

With the election behind us, some good words from Rachel Maddow on why we need a well-functioning GOP

Towards the end of the of her segment, Rachel spends 3 minutes to explain to the conservative politicians, people, and media why that there are certain facts that really should be beyond debate and discussion. And also correctly points out that America is best served by a country that has a dialogue and debate to come up with the best ideas and to let those ideas compete and be considered. I have a strong feeling that because the messenger is Maddow no conservative will listen and that is shame because they are really good words.

From Rachel Maddow (07 November)

Transcript Link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/49745053/ns/msnbc-rachel_maddow_show/#.UKF71oawUzQ

YouTube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4699sVXbBo

MADDOW: Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he
really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is
legitimately president of the United States, again.

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment
rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no
evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the
polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not
making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel
bad. Nate Silver was doing math.

And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy
sometimes. And evolution is a thing.

And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And
nobody is taking away anyone`s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the
deficit is dropping, actually.

And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the
moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And
U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of
the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services
industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.

Listen, last night was a good night for liberals and for Democrats for
very obvious reasons, but it was also, possibly, a good night for this
country as a whole, because in this country, we have a two-party system in
government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides, both come
up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country.
They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate
between those possible solutions.

And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition
between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country
should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if
only one side is really working on the hard stuff.

And the if the Republican Party and the conservative movement and the
conservative media is snuck a vacuum-sealed door-locked spin cycle of
telling each other what makes them feel good and denying the factual, lived
truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the
constructive debate about competing feasible ideas about real problems.

Last night the Republicans got shellacked, and they had no idea it was
coming. And we saw them in real time, in real humiliating time, not
believe it, even as it was happening to them.

And unless they are going to is secede, they are going to have to pop
the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not
want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them,
but it will be good for the whole country, left, right, and center. You
guys, we`re counting on you. Wake up.

There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts
in the world. Let`s accept those and talk about how we might approach our
problems differently. Let`s move on from there.

If the Republican Party and the conservative movement and conservative
media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night,
we will all be better off as a nation. And in that spirit,
congratulations, everybody. Big night.

 

So it was all about Stockholm Pride last weekend

Pride Flags

After my original plans fell through at the last minute to go and visit some friends around Europe this weekend, the focus of the week and the weekend was about Stockholm Pride.

This was one of the more interesting Stockholm Pride experiences that I had. This year I decided against all-things-Pride-all-of-the-time and just decided to focus on a couple of events. This year that was Schlager night on Thursday at Pride Park, as well as my participation in the parade on Saturday, and some celebrating in the evening.

The Thursday night Schlager night was notable less for the performances, but more for the company that I was with. It was cool to be at the Cafe Opera tent with friends and acquaintences and socialise with people who were just chilled out and relaxed. After the Schlager night, we went to Cafe Opera courtesy of Micke and Daniel (THANKS!) and had a great time. I can’t remember dancing so much on a Thursday in a long time.

On Saturday I joined Moderaterna in the parade. Yes that’s right, the conservative political party was in the parade. I am continually grateful to be welcomed to participate by politician and personal friend Tomas Tobé. Actually, most of the political parties were in the parade directly or represented through their alliances. And it says a lot about the openness and appreciate of diversity in Sweden that the political parties actually look forward to being in the parade. Moderaterna in particular (the lead party in power) does an  outstanding job of to driving the home to importance of inclusion at every level of government. Every year at least one of the high-ranking party members joins in the parade and walks. This year it was the Mrs. Filippa Reinfeldt, who is the wife of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, along with one of her daughters. Literally 1,5 meters away from me. So I considered it to be a treat and a honor march with a party who country’s first lady and daughter show such open support for GLBT citizens. So participating and dancing along to great music, seeing friends in the crowd, and feeling good the whole way made for a great Saturday afternoon. I really highly recommend that everyone go in the parade – it is even more fun than watching it! And at least in Sweden, Pride is not about who get naked and acts the most outrageous. It is an fun environment where people of all ages (from children to adults) line to streets to watch and support. Some dancing along with you on the streets, clapping and cheering from windows, or just watching and wondering. It’s all okay no matter what. What I like to think is that what is most important, is that people see us and visibile and comfortable with who we are. And the response from the crowds in the parade showed societal acceptance and support. I wish it could be that way in the US. We have a long long way to go.

On Saturday night I went to a pre-party and then we went to Cafe Opera (just the regular section) and Zipper and had a great time. And here I must give a shout out to Gregory for being fantastic to hang out with during the night (and for the bravery of biking back to his house from the club without killing himself…I cheated and took a taxi back to my house). Sunday was spent relaxing and recovering and as I was thinking over how my Pride week had gone, I feel like it is was one of the best Pride Weeks ever. I simultaneous look forward to the possibilities next year as well as have a little fear that I won’t know how to top how great this year was πŸ™‚

Sweden Decides: Why A “Good Immigrant” thinks the Sweden Democrats’ Approach is Flawed

First and foremost, hang tight…I’ll explain the "Good Immigrant" comment in a moment.

In the aftermath of the Swedish election, the Sweden Democrats (SD) party gained entrance into the Parliament. The reaction in Sweden to this has been interesting (mostly against the SD party) and emotional. They have been called racists, nazis, extremists, and other colorful names. Indeed, I myself peg them to the extreme right of almost any political structure on the planet.

But rather than simply call them names, I wanted to also provide some insight as to why I think their policies and approach is fundamental flawed in a global society.

Now back to my "Good Immigrant" comment. I first heard this phrase around 8 years ago. I was at a party and describing my background, job, and other details — the normal introductory commentary. What struck me at the end of our conversation was that the woman say "you are one of the ‘good immigrants’." On another past occasion, I was standing outside of a nightclub with some friends. A group of Africans in front of us got into quite a debate with the guards who ultimately refused them entry. As we were next in line, after some comments in Swedish (I was not fluent at the time), the guard looks at me and says "Oh you’re American…it’s okay" and then allows us to go in.

We’ll link back to this in a bit.

My first introduction to the SD party was receiving my voting cards for them with an accompanying brochure entitled "Give Us Sweden Back!" outlining their platform. The platform was interesting because the all of the statements pointed back to immigrants and immigration being the problem. From crime, to national identity, to lower benefits — every problem in society could be attributed to Sweden. When one further checked their website, it was also clear to see that the party was against family equality for LGBT couples. Searching further, I then found the following banned commercial:

http://wn.com/sweden_democrats%27_banned_election_commercial_2010

So the message is clear: immigration — particularly from Muslim and African countries — needs to be curbed in order to preserve the national identity and resolve the problems of Sweden. So one can extrapolate that these immigrants are "Bad Immigrants" to be moved.

So the SD party is misguided for a few reason:
1) Immigrants as people are not the issue. The key issue here is immigration policies. That the SD party wants to push the discussion on integration policies is quite fine — and probably long overdue. But the inference the party gives is that Sweden’s problems will be reduced by closing the doors to additional immigrants and then paying existing immigrants to leave. At best this is misguided and nationalistic, at it’s worst it is xenophobic.

2) It is a dangerous and slippery slope to start making distinctions between "good" immigrants and "bad" immigrants. For example…if Western European immigrants are "Good" (and via EU law there is little SD could do about it) and  "Western World" immigrants are "Good", then it means that all others are regarded as "Bad" (Middle Eastern, African, Eastern Eruopean). Regardless of what group you get put in, the classification is wrong because "Good" and "Bad" are arbitrary. Today’s good immigrants can easily end up being tomorrow’s bad immigrants.

3) LGBT couple should enjoy the same family equality as straight couples, including the right to adopt children. There are no independent definitive studies that show that children grow up any less healthy or happy with same-sex parents than they do with opposite-sex parents.

So anyway, with the election behind us, we clearly have to work to do that address some of the root causes that resulted in SD getting 6% of the vote. The Alliance and the Red-Green blocks might not agree on much, but I hope that they can unite around the fact that the SD party does not need to own the immigration agenda. It is possible to take it back from them and transform the discussion into something more humane and dignified with positive lasting policy results. It requires only the political will to focus on what bring them together instead of what divides them.

Sweden Decides – Election 2010

So because of the international nature of my LiveJournal, I post this in English:

Today is the day that Sweden votes. Because in Sweden no one party enjoys a majority, they have formed alliances in order to successfully govern. The choices are fundamentally between a Center-Right alliance call Alliansen (The Alliance) and a Center-Left alliance call RΓΆd-GrΓΆn (Red-Green).

Normally the US Democrat in me would be really tempted to vote for the Red-Greens. Were I living in the US right now, they clearly would have the policies needed to continue the direction needed for long-term societal development, business growth, etc. However, in Sweden, one gets the sense that the policies are dated — that Sweden has progressed socially to a level where the policies that the Red-Green alliance want to pursue would be detrimental to future growth because nations operate best when they take the best of both ideas.

So for that reason, I voted for The Alliance, let by Moderaterna.

Moderaterna’s policies strike the right balance to fit a 21-st century world where global integration, social responsibility, taxation, and efficient government are aligned to keep Sweden moving forward. No political party is ever perfect, and in alliances it is often the art of compromise that secures progress. But Sweden has had decades of Social Democrat party rule. The result of the chance that Sweden took to shift focus 4 years ago are encouraging, and it makes sense to renew that chance for another 4 years.

I am predicting that The Alliance will win — and I hope that they do. But you never know how these things turn out, so we’ll see.

No matter who one votes for and no matter which alliance wins the election, everyone should be reminded that tonight that the clearest winner of all will be democracy in Sweden!

The Debate Over Healthcare

I have to say that I find the discussion on health care in the US to be really strange.  The argument by the conservative wing of the Democratic party and the Republicans almost lacks logic.

They complain that “the government” will make decisions on your health care.  About what care you will and won’t receive based on what is affordable or other factors.  And they really are getting up in arms about it.  However, we seem to gloss over the fact that HMOs today control most of the decisions about your health care.  They already do tell you what care you can receive based on what is affordable or other factors.  And that factor is The Profit Motive.  So I need someone to explain to me why on earth it is okay for HMOs to tell us what medical care we can and can’t have, compared to research and analysis from the government.  At least the government doesn’t have the profit motive guiding it.  Conceptually, the government would have public health as the overriding concern.

For most of the Western countries where a government plays a role in healthcare it is mostly a constructive one.  In places like Canada, United Kingdom, and Sweden, most of the populations doesn’t worry about general health conditions as they can go to a doctor without worry.  Now of course, there are situations where they are exceptions…the horror stories that prove the exception instead of the rule.  However, as a general rule, the general care is very good.  And with frequent general care, you can minimse the likelihood that you need specialist care.

Like the US justice system, we have the best health care system money can buy…for those who can afford it.

I think more important than whether the plan is a democratic or republican plan, is that if the focus is on the public health and the public good, then universal health coverage for all Americans is possible.  If healthy corporate profits is more important than public health, then of course universal health care is outside of our reach.

So I received my ballot…

I received my ballot in Sweden yesterday. I was really excited for this. It means that it is now decision time.

To be honest, when the race was going to Obama and McCain, I wasn’t sure whom I was going to vote for. As most of my close friends know, I am a center-left person when it comes to US politics, but when it comes to the Swedish political scene, I am center-right. So I spent a lot fo time reading on the details of the candidates positions. And I got a lot of e-mail from both sides asking me to vote for the “change agent.”

So after a lot of consideration, I have decided to vote for Obama

For me, the game changers were three things.
1) I am voting squarely against Palin. McCain made a very irresponsible choice for vice president. I disagree with her ideological positions. I disagree with her almost non-existent policy choices. She doesn’t seem to understand that the role of a Vice President isn’t just to be an attack dog or to blindly follow the President’s directives. Thanks to Cheney, we have had a re-confirmation that the Vice President has a role to play in the faciliation and shaping of policy…and it should be a substantitive role (note: I don’t like almost any of Cheney’s policies, but I recognise the importance of the Vice President being an active part of the discussion). She rallies the hard right base, but not the faith of those of us in the center.

2) On several key points, I have more confidence in Obama’s policies than in McCain’s policies. Let’s be fair, on the majority of the issues, their destination is the same, even if the path to get their is different. But it is the path chosen that matters. Sad to say, but the John McCain I beame really interested in during the 2000 elections and the times throughout the last 8 years when he stood up to Bush on taxes, torture, etc, has all but disappeared. That McCain was so powerful a force, that he would have given Obama a run for his money. But to placate his base, he’s made a decisive — and devisive — turn to the right.

3) Obama’s choice of Biden. I never thought that Joe had the makings of a president. Truth be told, I don’t think Obama, McCain, or Biden would make excellent presidents. But Biden as the #2 is certainly better than Palin. And while Obama good judgement, he lacks the wisdom which is bourne from experience. McCain has wisdom, but his choice of Palin shows a lack of judgement. And Palin has neither wisdom nor judgement.

So there…I have said it…I’m voting Obama. My biggest regret is that Hilary did not win the nomination, as I really do think that she was the most qualified to be president of the United States. So we will shatter one glass cieling in the next 4 weeks by electing the first black president of the United States. The chance for women now if effectively delayed between 4 and 16 years (minimum 4 of Obama…if he wins re-election another 4 years. Biden for sure will want a crack at the office and if he wins then it’s another 4 to 8). I am still sure we’ll have a woman president in our lifetimes…and join the company of Europe and Asia where in many countries, they don’t select the best man for the job, but the best person for the job.