Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Election 2011 Results Reaction

Another Lynn election is in the books and the results are, to say the least, a bit shocking. That being said, Election 2011 in Lynn definitely represents a step in the right direction for a city ready to make its mark in the 21st century.

The top-tier race of the election this year, with the absence of a mayoral contest, was the race for 4 At-Large seats on the City Council. The race offered up some surprises, and clearly helped draw the battle lines for 2013.

Tim Phelan, current Council president, topped the ticket after showing up en masse with plenty of sign holders at local polls. Between a barrage of internet advertising, and a show of force at the polls, Phelan is, without doubt, gearing up to challenge Mayor Kennedy in 2013. Mr. Phelan's clear intention was to put himself into position as the inevitable challenger. Topping the ticket certainly helps his cause in that department, but, in my opinion, it probably wasn't the slam dunk he was looking for.

I think everyone knows of the little push-and-shove relationship between Phelan and the equally, if not more, popular Councilor at Large, Dan Cahill. Between under-the-radar political jousting, to Cahill's insurgent, yet ultimately unsuccessful, bid to replace Phelan as Council President, there does appear to be a rift of sorts. Both men might deny it in public, but I think it be so. And, beyond that, I believe another chief goal of Phelan's was not only to top the ticket and position himself for 2013, but also to trounce Cahill. Unfortunately for him, the margin between himself and Cahill was probably not as wide as Phelan would have hoped for. This says to me that Cahill is on the rise in this city, and will probably be a force for decades. It might be Phelan's time in the near future, barring a surprise entrant into the mayoral foray in 2013, but Cahill has the wits and know-how to have true staying power.

The other two At-Large councilors that will be sworn in in January are Buzzy Barton (not surprising), and Hong Net ( a bit surprising). Buzzy seemed like a shoo-in from the get go. He began campaign operations relatively early in the political calendar, and built up a strong committee that seemed poised to push him into City Hall. Incumbent At-Larger Steve Duffy seemed resigned to the fact that Buzzy would find a place on the council, likely at his expense. Solid prediction from Mr. Duffy.

Hong Net worked his tail off and it has clearly paid off. During the summer, his campaign signs began sprouting up across the city, and from that point on, Mr. Net's candidacy seemed to catch fire.. While he finished outside the top 4 in the preliminary election, there was clearly some momentum, and by the time election day rolled around, Mr. Net was too big to ignore. In knocking off incumbent Paul Crowley, Net accomplished something many would have deemed impossible not too long ago. While Paul Crowley has put in hours on behalf of the city, Mr. Net's candidacy and victory represent a giant leap forward for Lynn. His victory, in tandem with Mr. Barton's, help to showcase the dynamic makeup of our city.

In the most topsy-turvy race of the night, Rick Starbard and my friend Charlie Gallo shocked many by finishing 1 & 2 respectively in the vote for School Committee. Starbard and Gallo finished 7th and 8th in the preliminary, making their top of the ticket performances all the more surprising. In perhaps the most surprising defeat of the night, Vin Spirito will not be returning for another term, losing by 120 votes to sixth place finisher Maria Carrasco. Gallo, at 28, is another refreshing victor from election day. I say this as often as I can: there are not many from my generation who are yearning to stay in Lynn. Who are willing to fight for Lynn. The fact that Charlie had the courage to come back 4 years after a devastatingly close loss for this same seat to finish so strongly shows what kind of man Lynn elected. Returning to the Committee are incumbents Donna Coppola, Patricia Capano, John Ford, and Carrasco. Dolores DiFillipo, who after the primary looked to be in good shape, finished in eigth, about 160 votes behind Carrasco for the final slot, with Spirito between them. It has to be a tough one to swallow for DeFillipo, but she seems likely to run for a 3rd time sometime in the future.

The Ward races, largely (and frustratingly) ignored, offered no real surprises. Of the seven Ward's, all incumbents ran, and all incumbents will return to City Hall in January. Only two, Wayne Lozzi in Ward 1 and Richard Collucci in Ward 4, faced an opponent. Both men won relatively comfortably. The power of incumbency is strong here, but the lack of candidates in these races is truly upsetting. It isn't about whether or not Rick Ford or William Trahant or Pete Capano are good guys who do good work. It is about hearing from different voices and finding new ideas to help continue to make Lynn a 21st century city. Seeing the incumbents declare victory because they returned a signature sheet is, frankly, undemocratic. That being said, the citizens of Lynn need to strap it on and have the guts to get out there and offer up their ideas. This is not the Presidency. These races are local and perhaps the purest we have. I had a conversation on election day with School Committeeman John Ford about this very issue. He told me that, back in his father's time, there would be 8 or 9 candidates for these seats. That, to me, is a beautiful thing. Too often, Lynners are more resigned to complain amongst each other, or on the Item message boards. Cynicism can not, and will not, help our city improve. When Lynn can get back to that point, where its citizens are aching to represent it in a positive way, we will know Lynn has made true progress.

Feel free to share your reactions to the results. Also, how does 2013 shake out now? Interesting times in Lynn politics!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, upcoming Lynn election

It's been awhile. But, rather than explain that my last year of college has been busy, that my summer was jam packed, blah blah...let's just try and hop back in it like it never happened.

Those who know me know that I support the protests currently taking place across America. In fact, we have had a sign outside the house for some time now indicating support.

However, and this has really become the major talking point for the last few media cycles, I hope that the OWS movement can coalesce around a set of ideas or policy proposals that make sense not only for those who have slept in tents in defense of the America they thought they were living in, but for all of America. Mistakes have been made by splinter movements, for example. John Lewis, a Congressman and civil rights icon was not allowed to speak in front of protesters in Atlanta. What Atlanta lost sight of is that, if we want change, John Lewis is the type of man we need to bring legislation to the halls of Congress. There are surely members of the OWS movement who barely know what they are protesting against, but critics who question the heart and tenacity of the movement do so at their own peril.

One fairly frequent jab is that the protesters need to "occupy a job." They are basically taken to woodshed by critics for, by and large, being college students. Firstly, all one would have to do is take a look around to see that a decent percentage of those occupying their very own slice of New York, or Boston, or Washington, or Los Angeles, are past the age of 30. Secondly, chiding college kids for protesting? Sorry, but the math is in our favor. That is, college debt is becoming THE debt in this country, while jobs that were once available to our parents and grandparents are not available. They are either overseas or filled by an unqualified nephew.

Let's be clear. This movement is not about anti-success. It is about anti-corruption. The old conservative adage goes "don't give a man a fish, give him a pole." Those on the top are not even willing to part with the pole anymore, never mind the fish. This is unacceptable. I think U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said it best, that those on top, if they worked hard and achieved, deserve their wealth. Congrats on earning it. But chances are, they were aided by the work of those underneath them (read: the middle and lower class) and should be willing to pay it forward. While the famous billionaires like Gates and Buffett are more than willing, it is the shadowy cast of rich characters, lead by the absolutely reprehensible Koch brothers, who have made life in America a struggle to stay afloat.

I am all for bettering ourselves. I believe that those who were laid off from jobs that were 20th century in nature are wasting time by hoping that job comes back. The only option that person should consider is re-educating themselves. But we, as a country, have to be willing to pick that person up off the mat. We cannot resort to selfishness. We cannot blame all of our issues on illegal immigrants (a timeless cop out in economic downturns). We have to be our own agents of change. For ourselves, our families, and the country. The opportunity is what I strive for, what I think OWS strives for. Instead of spending money trying to re-instate firing squads as a means of execution, like a GOP state lawmaker in Florida is proposing, or decriminalizing domestic abuse like they are proposing in Topeka, KS., we need to strap it on and use some common sense. The rich pay a much lower tax rate than do their secretaries. Than do waitresses and teachers and cops and construction workers. What conservatives lose sight of is that we are still living in George Bush's economy. Barack Obama gave it a new lease when he extended the tax cuts, but that is fact. That trickle down effect has not happened, and never will. New policy is needed. New perspective is needed.

Hopefully OWS illuminates this.


Lynn heads to the polls in just a few weeks time to elect its City Council and School Committee. This seems to be a higher than average race, in terms of competitiveness. Eight candidates are vying for At Large seats. Eight are are looking for a seat on the School Committee, and there are even a couple competitive ward races.

Those who know me know that I strongly support the candidacies of Charlie Gallo for School Committee and Dan Cahill for At Large. Both men are young, educated, experienced, and dedicated to the progressing Lynn into the 21st century. I encourage all of you to consider voting for them.

That being said, it is hard not to be impressed by Hong Net's candidacy for At Large. The Asian community in Lynn has long been under represented and Mr. Net could fill that void should he be elected in a few weeks.

My endorsements:

Dan Cahill for At Large

Hong Net for At Large

Charlie Gallo for School Committee

Please DO vote regardless. If the 2009 race for Mayor showed us anything, it is that votes DO matter in these local elections. Take the time to voice your choice.

Thanks all. Please feel free to comment!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Are You Looking For? Plus, Cahill Calling and Barack Obama as a Leader

Hey again, friends! Thanks in advance for checking out the blog yet again!

I start off by asking a complex question, one that will garner many different responses. It is, no doubt, a question worth asking, however:

What is it you are looking for when you search for a political candidate to support? There are, to be sure, many different types of candidates out there, and, in the market tested world we now reside, they are often polished to illuminate their strengths as best to attract various voting blocs.

We have all become familiar with the concept of the candidate you would most like to drink a beer with. Is that what you are looking for? Someone of average intellect, but perhaps fierce in their convictions? Or, do you look for the smartest guy in the room, no matter how cold and calculating that person may be? I am sure the ideal candidate is a little of both, but living in a nation with such a wide array of candidates, I have come to believe there must be other appealing qualities, and I am very interested in hearing your responses! Feel free to reply here, send a private message, or mull it over on your own. Hopefully it will cause you to evaluate why and how you choose who to cast your vote for.


Dan Cahill, Councilor-at-Large in Lynn, threw his name into the Council President race a couple of weeks ago. While Cahill only garnered one vote, that of Ward 5 councilor Brendan Crighton, it was a gutsy move that, in my opinion, only elevated his stature both in terms of the Council and Lynn politics in general.

With respect to Crighton and even newly re-elected Council President Tim Phelan, there is nobody currently serving on the Lynn City Council who is as bright as Dan Cahill. The coverage of his surprise run for the President's seat was interesting, mostly in regards to comments from both citizens and current Council members.

In leafing through the Daily Item's message board, in addition to many of the other Lynn blogs out there, it is clear Cahill has a strong level of support in the city. Most note that he is very active, very intelligent, and a rising star to be sure. One might even say that if the public had any say in the final outcome of the President's race, Cahill might have edged the perennial leading vote getter, Phelan.

Councilors were also asked about Cahill's nomination, and their responses somewhat irked me. They all generally lauded praise, with good reason, but there were also comments that were along the lines of "Dan is a great councilor, but I think he needs more seasoning." Cahill served on the Lynn School Committee, staffed at the State House, and has been active in Lynn for years. Seasoning? I think he has plenty of it. But, in the end, it just goes to show you that Phelan is a titan on the Council right now.

As we get closer to Election Day 2011, the Council, in addition to the School Committee, will again be put under the microscope. With heavyweight Lynners like Buzzy Barton already declaring their intentions to run, things are liable to get very interesting. But what I will look for is staying power; that is, will Phelan, Councilor Paul Crowley, and Cahill put up big enough returns to shake up leadership? Will it paint a picture in terms of candidate viability for the 2013 mayoral race?

Stay tuned.


President Barack Obama is currently enjoying a resurgence in the latest rounds of polling. His approval rating is now at 54%, the highest since the summer of 2009.

What atones for this spike in favorability? Surely his speech in Tucson, which garnered praise from everyone from yours truly to Chris Matthews to Glen Beck himself, hit many the way only Barack Obama speeches can. It stirred us, and it presented the President as a true unifier, as a leader the American people can turn to in times of crisis.

Also, recent polling suggests that the economy, in the eyes of many citizens, has not only rebounded in ways that only financial professionals can understand, but also in ways the general populace can follow. Unemployment is still high, to be sure, but it has consistently fallen each time a new jobs report has come out for the last few months. People spent more over the 2010 holiday season, and the pinch many might have felt in 2008 and 2009 has begun to subside.

What this means, of course, is that the President is in a good position staring at 2012. It is quite rare in American political history for a President to have a 50-plus percent approval rating and then go on to lose a re-election bid (a recent example, however, would be George H.W. Bush, who had huge approval ratings in 1991 following the success of the Gulf War, before going on to lose to Bill Clinton in 92). Beyond that, the GOP candidates currently stirring and gearing up for the race are almost all un-electable. Sarah Palin's political career is all but over following her outrageous video response to Tucson released on the same day as the Presidents speech. Newt Gingrich has a great many amount of skeletons in his closet. Haley Barbour is a master politician, but he represents everything independents loath about GOP politicians: a serious insider with a history of his own. Mike Huckabee is conservative enough to win the primary, but too conservative for the general election. Mitt Romney can not, and will not, ever win a GOP primary. Tim Pawlenty is boring. Mitch Daniels is boring. Heavyweights like Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio have all declared themselves as uninterested in the 2012 campaign.

Maybe Donald Trump will declare...

God help us all!

Thanks for reading! Try to answer that initial question posed, I am very interested. If anyone knows any good political internships, I'd also be interested in that as I gear up to graduate!

I look forward to your comments!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Hometown, For Better or Worse..., and an Inspiring Evening

You may disagree, especially if you are getting on in age, but there is, in my mind, a certain amount of serenity and beauty standing outside, shovel in hand, as the orange glow of the street lights give the illusion of daylight as they reflect off the white snow. That is what I felt tonight as I did the duty passed on from Massachusetts father to Massachusetts son. Pausing, I basked in the silences; there were no cars, there were no neighbors suffering to lift the heavy New England burden with me, it was me and my city. For better or worse, I am from Lynn, Massachusetts.

Seldom can I leave Lynn's borders without coming back having met someone who has a generalized and manufactured idea about the city. It is not their fault; the "city of sin" moniker feels as old as the city itself. At first, I laughed off the comments voiced to me from those in neighboring cities and towns. "I can't believe you live in Lynn!" As if somehow I was able to scrub the shame or stench off my person before I left my home.

Yet, as perhaps some of my fellow Lynners can attest, there is an actual sense of community here. We face real challenges, and we debate, as most Americans tend to do, fierce in our convictions on what may or may not progress our city. We live as Lynners proudly amongst family, friends, and neighbors. Do we face issues that are bogging down the average Lynn family? Sadly, we do. Do we need to work harder to raise morale in our city, while also using our energies to brighten the image of Lynn? Without question. That means improving schools, fighting crime, making living in Lynn more affordable. I believe we have many in this city who can help lead the way on these crucial issues. Do I have an eye, personally, towards bigger prizes in life? Of course. I was born a dreamer. But as I continue to ponder my ever approaching future, I believe that Lynn will be at the heart of my successes and failures. I plan to see the world. I plan to serve my country in some capacity. But, as I forge on, I have realized one aspect of my goals in life is to serve for and work with the city that has helped shape the person I have became: the great City of Lynn.


Speaking of service, I assume many, like me, felt the call even more following President Obama's speech in Tucson this evening.

The President hit it out of the park in Tucson. He was eloquent, warm, stoic, and he was truly a leader this evening. While many may question the forum, a college university, one can easily note that the tone of the speech, I believe, was meant to be reflective, even celebratory, especially for the family members of those who are mourning loved ones. They have and will cry with friends and family, and I believe the President offered the nation's shoulder for them tonight, but at the same time, I believe the President captured the right mood in remembering those who were lost last weekend. His remarks regarding each victim, telling lighthearted and even funny stories about each victim, putting a life to the faces we have seen flashed across our screen, it really did feel like a national celebration of their lives.

Yet, as it has been said by many pundits, the heart of the speech revolved around the short but inspiring life of Christina Green, the nine year old sent away all too soon. There was one particular point that I found to be immeasurably powerful, and a moment that could only be delivered by this President.

"Christina was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted."


"I want us to live up to her expectations."

Hopefully, we all will live through that thought, serve with that in my mind, and echo it from coast to coast as we move forward as a united nation; as Americans.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It Has Been Awhile...

But I am posting again. Hope to hear from some of you!

In assessing the tragic and senseless acts perpetrated in Tucson this past week, we are reminded that we are living in an era that may forever be remembered as a time of great anger and a seemingly endless cycle of violent and vicious rhetoric that umbrellas our entire political forum. The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, as well as the deaths of six, including a federal judge and a nine year old girl who wanted an up close and personal look at how her government operates, is, perhaps, a sad by-product of recent political rhetoric that has stoked the flames of anger for many years.

For as long as I have been conscientious enough to follow politics, we have been a divided and divisive nation. The first election I can recall following was the 2000 presidential campaign that will forever live in infamy as the most controversial presidential election in American history. I didn’t know the issues, and I didn’t have a specific preference of who I wanted to win, but even at twelve years old, I saw the anger that fueled the direction each campaign took. I saw that America was being split into two camps.

That divisiveness has only progressed since that campaign ended with the Supreme Court essentially appointing George W. Bush the president. The 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 elections have all come and gone, with both Republicans and Democrats seeing success and failure, victory and defeat. In that time, we have waged war, we have absorbed tragedy, we have faced economic hardships; indeed, the ten-plus years since that campaign began and ended have felt like a lifetime to many. At various points we have come together as one nation, indivisible: to mourn, to celebrate, to thank, to wonder, and to dream. And yet, in the new year of 2011, when things feel new and hope rises again, we are forced to look at ourselves as a people and a civilization and wonder just who and where we are at this point in our history. This concept and theory that says our political tone has grown into a national embarrassment, is not new. Political violence and anger in our nation is, as we know, not new. For a nation that is still so infantile compared to the rest of the world, we have seen the bullet introduced into the discussion at an alarmingly high rate.

What we can do, however, is use this time of tragedy and loss, to progress. We are already destroying any hope of that, however, as Rush Limbaugh makes claims that Democrats hope to profit off of the tragedy. Do I believe Sarah Palin wanted to see Rep. Giffords shot when her Political Action Committee placed a target on her congressional district in hopes of seeing Rep. Giffords defeated in 2010? No, I do not. Do I believe that instances of targets on a congressional map help to make tragedies like the one that unfolded in Arizona possible? Yes, yes I do. When armed revolution as a theme is the backdrop to many of these campaigns, when media outlets, no matter which side they may or may not publicly support, flat-out lie to their viewers, listeners, or readers, it weakens us as a people. It weakens our democracy. When George Bush or Barack Obama signs are painted featuring an Adolf Hitler style mustache or the hammer and sickle of the USSR, it is not funny or genius, it is petty and ignorant. When the fiction of “death panels” are presented as fact so that Kaiser Permanente and Aetna are not forced into providing more adequate and humane benefits to their policy holders, we become sicker and poorer, while those same corporations are cashing the checks they made by not preventing that illness from spreading. When we lie to ourselves in thinking that Fox News and MSNBC are anything but entertainment channels along the same lines as MTV, we look foolish in the eyes of so many. When we refuse to ask the hard questions because we are either afraid, uninterested, or demoralized, we are doing a disservice to future generations. When we hate because someone is different, we invite conflict and we regress as a civilization. When we decry welfare as a system for the lazy instead of the needy, and as a system that people love to be on, we look selfish and far more pathetic. When we willingly give up freedoms out of fear, we have given up. When we allow the current income gap to remain what it is today, we have failed as a democracy.

While my own beliefs say that we have become so hostile and negative because of one side, that is not the purpose here. The purpose of this is to hopefully stimulate you into picking through the issues just a bit more. The purpose of this is to tell you that no matter how big a challenge our current issues present to us, cynicism and low morale and enthusiasm will get us nowhere as a nation. Put your guns away. Pick up a book. The violent rhetoric needs to come to an end, now. We are only as strong as our weakest citizen, and we have a lot of work to do.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Recession and Racism, and Dramatic Election Results in the U.K.

Today, the Labor Department released the April job report, which shows that the U.S. added 290,000 jobs in that month, the most in four years. After learning earlier this week that the economy grew for the third straight quarter, it would appear the recession is essentially over here in America. However, one nugget in the news that a lot of folks will likely hang on to is that the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent, despite the huge growth in jobs. This is easily explained as Americans now looking for better work, and the labor force itself growing.

Not having a job is a scary prospect for many, and a nightmare others are already living. While most don't necessarily blame anyone, except the invisible hand, a good minority of those simply need to direct their woes onto someone or something; "someone must have caused this." This is how it has been for centuries. For the bulk of human existence, the scapegoat was typically the Jews (in many circle, they still are). Today, in America, those unemployed, or underemployed, who need to vent about a particular group of people have set their sights on two things: the federal government as an entity itself (instead of, say, Wall St., the real perpetrator), and, most alarmingly, immigrants. And I am not talking about Swedes.

The new Arizona immigration law, discussed already on this blog, has helped escalate tensions across the nation. Everything from marchers, to the Phoenix "Los" Suns to extremist groups' involvement, have emerged as a product of the new, racist law. However, over 50% of Americans support the law, which is a troubling statistic. I grant at least 20% of those folks affirming their support for the law, don't know what the law entails. Even still, 30% of those polled in favor of legislation that could conceivably trample on the civil rights of American born citizens because they have brown skin, is a number far too high for a nation that prides itself on freedom.

The number of positive respondents means something. Firstly, it's racism, even if they don't know it's racism. The comments on an article posted on Item Live's website about a march of Lynners in protest to the law were, as par for the course for that board, disgusting. But part of me wonders if they even know they are being disgusting. When one poster finished his anti-immigrant rant, he capped it off by saying "comprende, amigo?" Does that person know they are being ignorant? Or are they blinded because the economy isn't in perfect shape? Things have changed, maybe for the worse, and hell, it must be those illegal immigrants stealing food from my table, and taking my job.

The great argument from the "send them back from where they came from" crowd is that illegal immigrants find a way to mooch off the system to live gorgeous, sunny days. While undocumented workers can benefit from some U.S. welfare programs, to think that they spend their Saturdays sailing off Nantucket is as hilarious as it is ignorant. All one would have to do is to go have a talk with the many serious students who are children of illegal immigrants who are frequently turned down for college loan assistance. Those who's dreams of furthering themselves, in the face of adversity, with the wind in their face, who are told no because their parents didn't jump through the laughable amount of hoops it takes to become an American citizen, or to even get a visa or work permit.

But, hey, they steal our jobs right? I got laid off, I don't have a job, but that Guatamalan over there is probably driving a Mercedes! It just doesn't happen. Some Americans think these immigrants have it made, and then turn around and mock them when we find out they live 12 or 15 to a house. How can anybody have it made when they live 12 to 15 a house? They are mocked for their clothes, for their living arrangements, but then are thought of to have replaced skilled jobs. It simply does not happen in the numbers envisioned.

What is a fact, though, is that since 2003, violence against Hispanics has risen steadily, according to the FBI. Hate groups have found a new way to reach out to those once unphased by their callings. Those groups, as they have for years and years, will reach out to those who don't have a job, point the finger not necessarily at a black man or a Jew, but now, at a "wetback," and scream until they are hoarse about how they are to blame for lost jobs and the crumbling of American moral society. It's a song and dance we have heard before. But, for many, the idea of putting the CD on repeat is all too appetizing.

What happened to the "American Dream?" What these people put themselves through to help make life better for themselves, but, more importantly, for their children, the typical American cannot comprehend. Would you want to live in squalor and earn cents a day, waiting five to ten years to go through the legal circus in order to move to a place so close? Of course not. Not when your family is on the line. Of course, if the guy could throw 96 miles per hour, we would get him and here in a heartbeat. But most don't, and when they struggle by any means to get here, they find a wall of resistance from those who want the American Dream for themselves, and nobody else. Just like the Tea Partiers, where some 25% of their membership is over 64 and on Medicare or Social Security. They love it, but ask them if they want to find ways so I can have it, and it's lights out. The same goes with immigration. We have become a selfish nation, where one cannot look in the mirror and, for some odd reason, see perfection. Perfection in the sense that they are what keeps America moving, but not the guy down the road. Me. They can't do it without me. We need to go back to that mirror, re-examine ourselves as a country. Hate, which is what the Arizona law absolutely is, outdated, ignorant, and wrong. We seem to no longer care to be the beacon for the rest of the world. We seem to only care about ourselves. In Lynn, in Massachusetts, in America.


In other news from our cousins across the pond, the British electorate went to the polls and, as expected, drama has ensued. The Conservatives, led by the young aristocratic David Cameron, pulled in the lions share of the vote and seats in Parliament, with 36% and 306 seats. Meanwhile, Labour, the incumbent governing party, led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has lost the majority it has held since Tony Blair's landslide victory in 1997, bringing in 29% of the vote and 258 seats. The third party of Britain, the Liberal Democrats, underachieved, as many thought they had an outside shot of taking second place after leader Nick Clegg's stellar TV debate performances. Unfortunately for them, they remained strictly in third place, ending up with 23% and 57 seats. Smaller parties, like those from northern Ireland, as well as nationalist parties from Scotland and Wales, collected the lions share of the remaining seats, while the Green Party of England secured its first seat in parliament.

The drama comes in when we realize that this is a hung parliament: no party has a majority. The Conservatives (and by Conservative, we don't mean they are anything like the GOP of fact, Anita Dunn, who worked for President Obama, did some work for the Conservatives of England. Completely different kind of Conservatism) are close to a majority (which would be something in the area of 326 seats, assuming Sinn Fein, a party from northern Ireland, does what it always does: refuses to take their seats), but a bit short.

The latest development is that Gordon Brown has declared that the Tories and the Liberal Democrats should have the first shot at creating a government. (That's right, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democratic Party as one big coalition: your American head almost blew up, didn't it?) Cameron and the Conservatives have apparently reached out to Clegg and the LibDems, trying to form a government that Cameron can actually rule, and not a minority government. Clegg has already professed his desires in the event of a coalition: an electoral system overhaul. The LibDems want to eliminate the "first-past-the-post" system in the UK (which is essentially what we have here in the US) for a system of proportional representation (a system, that, if it were in place for this election, would have the LibDems seat count much closer to what Labour now enjoys). While there is no word on whether or not Cameron will go for that, word is that the Tories have pledged to create a committee of inquiry on the matter.

It appears likely that Clegg will join the Cameron, creating a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, making Cameron the new Prime Minister of Great Britain, and leaving Labour, and Gordon Brown, picking up the pieces. This is probably the end for Gordon Brown, a man I consider to be too smart for electoral politics. He is notoriously grumpy, and was outclassed politically by his old friend Tony Blair for years, when it came to who would lead Labour. Upon Blair's departure as PM in 2007, Brown walked into a firestorm and an economic collapse. Not a desirable position.

Clegg and the Liberal Democrats are licking their wounds also. When buzz peaked for them a little over a week ago, it seemed as if the party was ready to become a national force. Instead, they lost a net of 5 seats in parliament. Not a good day for them at all.

Meanwhile, David Cameron and the Conservatives, out of power for 13 years, are likely rejoicing, but far less than they would have been had the election taken place a year ago. Then, it appeared Cameron and the Tories were well on their way to a majority government. Instead, political miscalculations helped Brown and Labour make it a race, denying the Tories a majority. While Cameron may be the Prime Minister very shortly, it seems almost a guarantee that he will have to call elections by next year (instead of the customary 4 or 5 years) in order to try and win him and his party a majority.

In either case, we across the world should be rooting for a coaltion annoucement as soon as possible. Instability in the British government will not bode well for the financial markets. A government seems close, so, hopefully we can rest a little easy, and focus our attention to solving the Greek debt crisis.

Truly a dramatic election and a political nerd overload. Needless to say, I am glued to the coverage!

Thanks for reading! I have to get back to my many pieces of homework. But please, please comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.


Monday, May 3, 2010

From Contributor Jim Tarr: Sen. Scott Brown Occupies The Corporation's Seat

This week, fellow Classical graduate and current UMass Lowell attendee Jim Tarr has contributed an article originally sent in to the UML student newspaper, the UMass Lowell Connector.

The Corporation’s Seat

It seems that Scott Brown, the first Republican in Massachusetts to win a seat in the United States Senate since 1972, is less of a lunatic than his brethren in Congress.

I mean, he would have to be to even dream of keeping his public office in the bluest of states.

He’s made some moves as a senator that most rational people would agree with: he voted to extend unemployment benefits for those hardest hit by the recession, chose not to join Sarah Palin for the tea bagger rally in Boston last month, and has shied away from openly accusing Barack Obama of taking the country in a “socialist” direction.

During the campaign, he seemed awful keen on emphasizing that the contested senate seat did not belong to Ted Kennedy.

Often I would hear him call it “the people’s seat”.

Who could argue with something like that? It’s a neat little sound bite vague enough to make voters think you’re in touch with their needs without getting into what you actually believe.

Now that he’s beginning to settle in to the way of life on Capitol Hill, it’s becoming painfully obvious (at least to me) that he rests securely in the pocket of his masters on Wall Street and in his own party when it matters most.

During his campaign for the open senate seat, Scott Brown received nearly half a million dollars in contributions from the biggest financial giants in the country: donations that came on the heels of an announcement from President Obama to impose fees on those same massive moneybag entities in order to recover taxpayer bailout money.

No wonder he came out swinging against the plan, and continues to oppose any meaningful reform of the financial industry.

Since then, a story in the Boston Herald caught my eye.

A group called the Boston Center for Independent Living, an organization established decades ago in order to advocate for the rights of the disabled, has been continually dismissed by Senator Brown.

This is in spite of the fact that our new senator seems to have an awful lot to say on healthcare benefits – things that directly impact the lives of the people the Boston Center tries to help.

You would think that the new senator would find a little time for these people…you know, since Scott Brown is sitting in their seat by his own admission.

But of course, that was all bogus to begin with.

When it matters most, you can rest assured that that seat belongs explicitly to one group: the moneyed interests who caused the economic downturn in the first place, not the people who actually voted for him.

Thanks for reading guys! I'll be back Thursday night with a blog about recession-era politics and racism, the future leaders of Lynn, and an in-depth recap of the UK parliamentary elections, which take place on Thursday! Feel free to comment and refer, I am sure Jim will appreciate it and respond!