Global News: May 2005 Archives

Newsweek lied, people died

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Kevin McCullough has the low-down on the six ways Newsweek got the story wrong about Koran-flushing at Guantanamo.

Kevin's radio station, WMCA, is now providing a 24-hour stream of the best of conservative talk radio, including Kevin his own self at 5 pm Eastern time, and they're advertising the fact here on BatesLine. Click the ad at right to tune in.

Ulster accent

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The counting for Northern Ireland's 18 seats at Westminster is underway, and while I work I'm watching BBC Northern Ireland's coverage of the results. The results notwithstanding, it's fun to hear Ulster's distinctive accent again -- something I haven't heard in person for nearly 10 years -- to hear each candidate talking about how "proyd" he is of the "campeh-un" he ran.

Unionists -- those who favor keeping Northern Ireland as part of the UK -- are split between two major parties, the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The UUP has been the leading unionist party for many years, representing the unionist side in negotiations over self-government, security, and cross-border institutions. Continued violence in NI has led unionists to prefer the DUP, a party with a tougher negotiating stance. The UUP had 10 of NI's 18 seats at one time, were down to 6 after the 2001 election, and may end up with only a single seat. David Trimble, UUP party leader, 1998 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and, briefly, first minister of NI, just lost his Upper Bann seat to DUP candidate David Simpson, who announced an end to "pushover unionism." (UPDATE: Here's a column in the Scotsman outlining Trimble's rise to power, his involvement in peace talks, and his fall from favor. Hat tip to Slugger O'Toole, who blogs about Northern Ireland politics and culture.)

On the nationalist side -- those who want the Six Counties united with the rest of Ireland under Dublin's rule -- voters are shifting from the once-dominant Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) to Sinn Fein, a radical party with close ties to the terrorist Irish Republican Party. It's likely that when all the votes are counted the DUP and Sinn Fein will have the most representation at Westminster.

You'll find the latest results from Northern Ireland here.

I mentioned in an earlier entry that I was excited, when watching the 1992 British election results, to see that Michael Bates, a Conservative, had been elected as MP for Langbaurgh. He was turned out in the Labour victory of 1997 (for the renamed seat of Middleborough South and Cleveland East). Tonight I found out there was more to like about him than just his name.

I googled to see what had become of him, and it turns out that he writes a "Thought for the Week," published on the website of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, an organization that seeks to reconnect British Christians with the political process.

The other Michael's columns are meditations on living out the Christian faith in the world. They are a bit lengthy, but thoughtful, and lead the reader in unexpected directions.

His most recent essay starts with the Senate confirmation hearings for UN ambassador-designate John Bolton, and the complaints about his temperament and management style, and asks how should a Christian manage people. A Christian manager should be a servant to his subordinates; a visionary leader; a casting director, matching people to the jobs that fit them; a skilled navigator, setting realistic short-term goals to maintain morale over a long-term project; and an encourager.

You'll find links to column archives at the bottom of that page. The most recent archive, from March and April, includes an essay on spiritual healing, a piece called "Thank God for Politicians," an account of an epiphany in a New York jazz club, and some thoughts about town criers, the men of Issachar, and the Internet. I've just begun to read through it, and I think you'll find it worth your time.

The piece on healing starts with a phrase from Isaiah's prophecy which Jesus reads in the synagogue at Nazareth: "He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted...." Bates writes that we don't respond to inner pain as we ought. We try to numb the pain, but it always comes back, because we don't look to the One who can heal it:

Today we see certain symptoms of inner injury prevalent amongst Christians and non-Christians alike: anxiety, guilt and depression. These symptoms define our sense of self-worth, our relationships and our work. Yet our approach to remedying them differs substantially from physical injury. The instinct is to struggle on in the hope that it will heal itself, or to blame people or circumstance and as such transfer the power to change our hearts into the hands of other human beings. If you have ever carried an injury physically we know that perhaps sitting in a chair and resting you can appear fairly normal-like Agnes Sanford's domestic appliance--and be fairly comfortable, but the extent of our injury is revealed when we try to exert ourselves in even the most minor tasks: climbing the stairs, lifting a box etc.

There is a purpose in pain and that is to get us to rest the injury. There is a purpose in spiritual and emotional pain and that is for us to seek inner healing. Tragically, many of us wander through life in denial never pausing to rest and realise that there is an injury to our soul, which requires the healing touch. We have become expert in believing that all that is required to alleviate the symptoms of the injured soul is more money, a new job, a new relationship, alcohol, food and entertainment. In other words anything which distracts us from facing up to the pain which lies within. Whatever distraction technique we try our cloud re-appears in the morning. The message is this God wants to replace our anxiety with His peace; our guilt with His forgiveness, our depression with His joy and to restore our relationships beginning with our relationship with God. It was for this very reason that Jesus came, that we may again be at one with our Lord and enable Him to bind up the wounds of our broken hearts.

In "Thank God for Politicians," Bates calls on Christians to reject cynicism and rather to appreciate those who serve as politicians:

For many if not most of our politicians politics is a vocation, a worthy calling to serve the 'common good,' not a career designed to serve themselves. Few, except the foolish, would ever seek elected office to make money. Few would seek elected office in pursuit of an easy life. Few would find the experience of canvassing of receiving abuse and having doors slammed in their faces an effective boost for the ego. Most people enter politics because they rather like people and are proud of their communities and want to serve them. Politics involves sacrifice and often those who pay the highest price are the spouses and children of elected representatives.

He calls on Christians to thank those who seek office and assure them of our prayers, to consider the values and character of a candidate when they go to vote, to pray for Christians in public office, and to pray for spiritual awakening in the nation. And how should a Christian respond when a candidate knocks on the door?

[W]hen a canvasser comes to your door to deliver a leaflet or enquire after your voting intentions, don't berate them because they are disturbing you in the middle of an episode of 'Eastenders,' or because they have woken the children who have just been put to bed. Don't be aggressive or defensive, don't enter into an argument over some aspect of policy, but be reasonable in your conversation. Listen to what they say and ask genuine questions that will help you decide how to cast your vote. Thank them for treading the streets in the rain, for giving of their time and for playing their part in upholding our freedom, serving our community and enabling us to be better informed about those who seek to represent us.

Here I am in Oklahoma, where Christian involvement in politics is a given, and it seems strange to read this website telling British Christians that politics is a noble pursuit, urging them to get involved and to commit to being involved in the process over the long haul. Then I remember that 30 years ago, American Christians needed the same prompting to get involved, and it took groups like the Christian Coalition not only to urge the involvement of Christians in the system but also to instruct them in how the system works. I remember attending a seminar at Grace Fellowship in Tulsa, back in the late '80s, at which we learned about precinct caucuses and county conventions, platform and rules committees, and door-to-door canvassing -- all the nuts and bolts of party activism and campaigning.

The Conservative Christian Fellowship appears to have learned from the successes of the conservative Christian movement in America and from its shortcomings as well. Have a look at its mission statement. The CCF doesn't believe that revival will result from political victory. It understands that what ails Britain (and read anything by Theodore Dalrymple if you don't believe that Britain is ailing) is a spiritual problem at the root, and the state must leave room for the church to play its role in society. The CCF isn't about achieving a laundry list of legislative goals, but about getting people with a Christian worldview involved in politics, culture, and education.

I'm struck by the parallels between the uphill task faced by Conservatives in Britain and Republicans in Blue America, and the role that the committed Christian remnant could play in transforming politics in these evidently post-Christian realms. Republicans in the Blue States can learn from the CCF how to involve and energize Christians who now sit on the sidelines, disheartened because both major parties ignore their concerns. We Red Staters have something to learn from the CCF, too: A broader understanding of what it means to live out the Christian life in a democracy.

I'm happy to learn that a group like the Conservative Christian Fellowship exists and to learn that someone named Michael Bates is a part of it.

George Galloway, MP, expelled from the Labour Party in 2003, has won Bethnal Green and Bow, an east London constituency, from Labour incumbent Oona King. Galloway was elected for the Respect Party, a party that opposes Britain's involvement in the war in Iraq. Galloway was implicated by documents discovered in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein suggesting that he had been on Saddam's payroll, receiving funds diverted from the corrupt Oil for Food program.

BBC World Service just played a an interview between BBC Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman and Galloway. Here's how Paxman began the interview: "Are you proud of having driven out one of the few black women in Parliament?" Galloway refused to answer such a loaded question, but Paxman persisted, and Galloway terminated the interview after Paxman called him a demagogue.

I'm no fan of Galloway, but I don't blame him for walking off.

UPDATE: The BBC has posted a transcript and video of the bout with comments.

UK votes today

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The United Kingdom is holding a general election and local elections today. The polls are closed, and the first results are expected to be declared at about 5:30 p.m. CDT. Iain Murray will be live-blogging the election. Writer and Conservative MP Boris Johnson has a list of key constituencies and when they are expected to be declared. (British Summer Time is one hour ahead of GMT, six hours ahead of CDT.) The University of Keele has a comprehensive page of British politics links, including links to results and party manifestoes (platforms) from past elections. The BBC news website has comprehensive election coverage, but I can't get to it right now.

There was a time when I followed British politics very closely. In the run-up to the 1992 general election, I read through a book analyzing the electorate in every one of the 659 constituencies and made my own guesses as to the outcome. Labour, led by Neal Kinnock, had their first real chance to beat the Tories, in power since 1979, but torn apart over Margaret Thatcher's ouster and Britain's relationship with the European Union. I was especially interested in the fortunes of Michael W. Bates, a Conservative running for the second time in a seat with the lovely name of Langbaurgh. (It was changed before the next election.)

C-SPAN was going to carry the BBC's election night coverage, but in Tulsa it would be preempted by the live broadcast of the City Council, so I called around and determined that C-SPAN would be on uninterrupted in Claremore. I found a place I could watch the broadcast, but when I arrived I discovered to my disappointment that while C-SPAN had not been preempted, the BBC broadcast had been -- the House of Representatives was in the middle of a lengthy debate. I returned home and listened to some of the coverage on BBC World Service, which the cable company offered through a special FM antenna adapter. (This was in the days before the World Wide Web.) C-SPAN ran the BBC TV election special late that night; I taped it and watched it the next night and rejoiced to learn that Michael Bates had won.

John Major and the Tories won, too, just barely, and they spent the next five years crumbling: Financial scandals, sex scandals, deepening divisions over Europe. With the advent of the web, I was able to follow the decline via the Electronic Telegraph. The Tories were blown out of the water in 1997, did a little better in 2001. The Tories began to resemble the '62 Mets, and my interest in following their fortunes faded.

They've made some impressive showings in other elections -- in the June 2004 European Parliament elections, the Conservatives received the most votes of any party, and they made significant gains in local elections on the same date. Tony Blair has been under a fierce media attack over the UK's involvement in Iraq, and after eight years any politician has begun to wear out his welcome with the voters, so you might think that the Conservatives would be competitive this time around, but the expectation is that Labour will be returned to power for a third time, but with a smaller majority.

A British general election is really 646 separate contests, like our biennal battle for control of the US House of Representatives. The only people who can vote for or against Tony Blair live in his constituency of Sedgefield. Nevertheless, campaigns are waged on a national scale, and British voters are more aware than Americans of the national impact of their vote.

I had a browse through the manifestoes for this year's election. What's striking is the absence of America's hot-button social issues in the campaign literature of the three major parties. One of the reasons I think the Tories have failed to generate much enthusiasm of the voters is that they've accepted certain issues as settled matters, despite significant numbers of potential voters who care passionately about those issues and are looking for a major party to take them seriously. Should Britain continue as a member of the European Union? Are abortion laws too liberal? Are government welfare policies undermining families? What is the impact of mass immigration on British society? Where the major parties are silent, minor parties have sprung up to respond. The UK Independence Party came in third in the 2004 European Parliament elections, ahead of the usual third-place finisher, the Liberal Democrats.

I came across the website of a new minor party, the Christian Peoples Alliance, which is trying to address some of those issues, but I'm off to a baseball game -- more about that later.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Global News category from May 2005.

Global News: March 2005 is the previous archive.

Global News: June 2005 is the next archive.

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