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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 25, 2006 / 27 Nissan, 5766

Was Washington right about political parties?

By Paul Johnson


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Do we need political parties? This question is rarely if ever asked, but it's worth discussion. Perhaps we should rephrase it: How badly do we need political parties? Because certainly the moral cost of having them is high — and rising.


Running and promoting political parties in the 21st century is very expensive. Raising sufficient funds by appealing to the idealism of the party faithful is no longer possible, if it ever was. Baser motives have to be tapped, which means corruption in one form or another. And the evidence seems to suggest that in nearly all the Western democracies party fundraising is now the biggest single area of corruption.


In Britain the sale of peerages in return for large donations to party treasuries has long been a scandal. This is not merely the sale of a so-called "honor" that allows the recipient — having paid, say, 1 million in cash — to call himself (and be called) a Lord. It's also the sale of a seat in Parliament, for holders of life peerages are entitled to take their seats in the House of Lords, the British counterpart to the U.S. Senate. This gives them membership in what has been called "the best club on earth," which pays them a stipend, plus expenses. It also — and this is the crucial point — allows them to debate, amend and vote on legislation passing through Parliament.


True, the House of Lords' powers are less than those of the House of Commons. It cannot reject bills outright, but it can delay and alter them. Nobody knows exactly how many people have bought their seats in the House of Lords. It could be more than 100 (out of 725), and the number may grow. Until recently peerages were handed out only to those who paid cash down. Now it's been discovered that rich people have been given or promised peerages in return for granting loans with favorable terms.


The source of this new form of corruption is the new Labour Party, which has been seeking a replacement for the trade unions as its chief source of funds. The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, however, have also been trying to raise money by promising favors. Once a party is big enough, it can elbow its way into the racket.


Selling peerages is a device peculiar to the British. However, the pattern of corruption has been repeated all over Europe, especially in Germany, Italy, France and Spain. Virtually all the major financial scandals involving politicians in these four countries over the past 20 years have their origins in party fundraising. Some of the highest-placed political figures have been accused of fundraising abuses, including President Jacques Chirac, when he was mayor of Paris, and Helmut Kohl, when he was chancellor of Germany. The defense is usually the same: "But I only did it for the party." Regardless, it is still corruption. And taking money for the party has a way of developing into a habit of taking money for individuals.


In Britain the latest honors scandal has left hard-boiled politicians unrepentant. "Cash has to be raised somehow," they say. "If you won't allow us to sell honors, then the parties will have to be funded by the taxpayers." Am I alone in finding this suggestion outrageous? It would mean, in effect, that the public would be obliged to subsidize a political monopoly exercised in perpetuity by professional politicians.


To what extent raising campaign funds — both party and personal — leads to corruption in the U.S. is a matter of opinion. Certainly jobs do get handed out to important contributors, including key ambassadorships. I've often thought this a serious weakness in the U.S. diplomatic effort to promulgate its policies to the world — something that, now more than ever, is of vital importance.

Words of Wisdom
George Washington addressed the problem of political parties 200 years ago in his Farewell Address. He conceded, grudgingly, that it is "probably true" that, "within certain limits" political "parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty." But he added that party spirit was "not to be encouraged." He thought "there will always be enough of [it] for every salutary purpose." As there was "constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it."


He compared the competition of parties to inflammation: "A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."


What we in the West should be considering is to what extent we can get along without highly organized and all-powerful political parties or, at the least, how we can reduce their influence. Why shouldn't we encourage more independent individuals to run for election? What role do independents have to play in parliaments and congresses in the 21st century? For the last two centuries political parties have increasingly dominated our legislatures, formed our governments and shaped our societies. But if they are such successful and indispensable institutions, why are they so corrupt? Is it wise to seek to export this party tradition to the fledgling democracies we're trying to set up in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere? After all, in Israel — which is a genuine democracy — the overfragmented party system is an obstacle to good and stable government.


These and related questions ought to be taken up and debated in the media, think tanks and university political science departments. We should not take the defeatist line that we're stuck with the old party system for all eternity.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


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Eminent British historian and author Paul Johnson's latest book is "American Presidents Eminent Lives Boxed Set: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses S. Grant". Comment by clicking here.



Previously:

04/12/06: Let's Have More Babies!
04/05/06: For the love of trains
03/29/06: Lincoln and the Compensation Culture
03/22/06: Bottle-beauties and the globalised blond beast
03/15/06: Europe's utopian hangover
03/08/06: Kindly write on only one side of the paper
02/28/06: Creators versus critics
02/21/06: The Rhino Principle

© 2006, Paul Johnson

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