Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Harper defends Del Mastro over campaign expense allegations

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Stephen Harper offered his first public defence of his embattled parliamentary secretary on Wednesday, pointing to paperwork filed years ago and perhaps signalling that Dean Del Mastro will not be producing documents, as promised, to clear up questions about his expenses.

In question period, Liberal leader Bob Rae asked about a $21,000 cheque Del Mastro wrote to voter-contact firm Holinshed Research during the 2008 election, and a Postmedia-Ottawa Citizen report that documents at Elections Canada show that the firm did 630 hours of voter calls for that money — work that does not appear on Del Mastro’s expense statement.

Del Mastro yelled at Rae in anger as he spoke.

Wedge politics, not religious freedom, behind Wildrose Leader's refusal to apologize

Since she won't apologize for remarks made by one of her candidates during the recent election campaign that many Albertans thought were offensive and anti-gay, Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith found herself trapped this week between a rock and a hard place.

The leader of Alberta's Opposition party desperately wants to leave behind the brouhaha created by unsuccessful Edmonton-South West candidate Alan Hunsperger, who imprudently left a blog post lying around the Internet before last April's election that expressed the view all gays are doomed to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire if they don't repent.

To do so, Smith tried Tuesday to "mend fences," in the words of a local newspaper, with Alberta's gay community by attending the Edmonton Pride Festival Police Chief's Reception, a low-key event that involved the kind of imagery the Wildrose Party is comfortable with -- squad cars and people in uniform.

10 reasons to oppose the Conservatives' Bill C-38

The Harper government is trying to quickly pass, without debate, one of the most destructive pieces of legislation in Canadian history.

Anyone concerned with tar sands pipelines, climate change, workers rights, unemployment insurance, Indigenous peoples' rights, women's rights, food security, Old Age Security, rural development and the Canadian economy needs to take action now.

What is Bill C-38?

Bill C-38, also know as the Omnibus Bill, is the "Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act," introduced on April 26 to implement the 2012 Federal Budget. It introduces, amends, or repeals some 70 federal laws in a single bill, and the Conservative government has motioned to limit debate.

‘Painful warrior’ is classy, if conflicted, to the end

GATINEAU, QUE.—There is clearly more to Bob Rae’s stunning decision not to pursue the Liberal leadership than his conviction that it would be best for the party. He must have decided, for reasons we can only guess at, that it would be the best thing for himself, too.

But his decision is still a rare and commendable display of sacrifice, wisdom, and maturity in an arena that prizes none of those qualities. Not until politicians are gone, or dead, at least.

Tories treating Parliament with contempt, 'playing games to avoid scrutiny,' says Queen's professor Franks

PARLIAMENT HILL—The Conservative government is treating Parliament with contempt by burying radical changes to key Canadian institutions and laws in a massive omnibus budget bill and rushing the legislation through Parliament without giving MPs adequate time to scrutinize the measures, a leading expert on Parliamentary rules and law says.

Queen’s University professor Ned Franks sided with the Commons opposition parties on Wednesday as they prepared for an overnight marathon of voting in a last-ditch filibuster, accusing Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) and his government of “playing games” in an attempt to prevent MPs and the public from understanding and revealing the true effect provisions in the 425-page bill, C-38, will have on environmental, legal and economic traditions of the country.

Effects of budget-bill hangover to be felt ‘year after year’: opposition

Opposition members say the effects of a federal budget bill that is in its final stages in the House of Commons will be felt by Canadians for years to come and will serve as a stark reminder of Conservative tactics when the country next goes to the polls.

MPs were preparing Wednesday for an all-night voting session – the first in more than 10 years – to get through more than 800 amendments proposed by the opposition to Bill C-38.

How Europe's power broker wound up at centre of its financial woes

The euro might be the best thing that’s ever happened to Germany.

It’s sparked soaring exports, a manufacturing renaissance and near-zero interest rates.

But as Greek voters get set to vote in a pivotal election Sunday and financial contagion threatens to spread beyond Spain, the world is looking to Germany to dig much deeper to save the common currency, because only Germany can.

Mariano Rajoy, Spanish Prime Minister, Calls For Further European Integration In Wake Of Bailout

MADRID — Spain faced mounting pressure Wednesday to bolster confidence in its financial system just days after accepting a (EURO)100 billion ($125 billion) plan to rescue its banks.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for greater European fiscal and banking integration to save his country and the 17-country euro currency alliance.

Madrid's key borrowing rate closed at a euro-era high, indicating deep investor concern about the government's financial stability.

Breaking ’08 Pledge, Leaked Trade Doc Shows Obama Wants to Help Corporations Avoid Regulations

A draft agreement leaked Wednesday shows the Obama administration is pushing a secretive trade agreement that could vastly expand corporate power and directly contradict a 2008 campaign promise by President Obama. A U.S. proposal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations would allow foreign corporations operating in the U.S. to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its ruling. We speak to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a fair trade group that posted the leaked documents on its website. "This is not just a bad trade agreement," Wallach says. "This is a '1 percent' power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

California's Prison Population Eclipsed By Texas

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Everything is bigger in Texas, the saying goes, and that is now also true of its prison system.

California used to have the nation's largest state prison system, topping 173,000 inmates at its peak in 2006. But since a law took effect last year that shifts responsibility for less serious criminals to county jails, the state has reduced its prison population and is no longer the largest in the nation.

Stand Your Ground Task Force, With Questions Of Bias, Urged To Amend Law

On Tuesday, during the first public meeting of the 19-member Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, convened by Gov. Rick Scott to examine Florida's Stand Your Ground law, some on the panel did little to allay criticisms that it's biased in its viewpoints.

When the members of the panel were announced in April, critics blasted the group as inherently biased and unfairly weighted with supporters of Scott, a Republican, and of the law itself, which gives people wide discretion in the use of deadly force. Four of the lawmakers on the panel either authored or voted for the law.

Jamie Dimon Avoids Hard Questions At Senate Hearing

There were lots of remarkable questions during Jamie Dimon's Senate Banking Committee hearing -- remarkable mainly for how easy people were on the head of the largest bank in the United States.

Dimon was called onto the downy soft carpet of the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday to explain JPMorgan Chase's loss of somewhere between $3 billion and $8 billion, depending on who's counting, in a bad trade on credit derivatives.

Mitt Romney's Health Care Plan Would Not Prohibit Discrimination Based On Pre-Existing Conditions

WASHINGTON -- In a speech in Orlando on Tuesday, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney outlined once again what he would do to replace President Barack Obama's health care law, which he has pledged to throw out if elected. In a follow-up statement to The Huffington Post, his campaign clarified that he would not tackle one of the central issues contained in the Affordable Care Act -- the prohibition of discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

Benched - The Supreme Court and the struggle for judicial independence

Originally, the Supreme Court of the United States met in a drafty room on the second floor of an old stone building called the Merchants’ Exchange, at the corner of Broad and Water Streets, in New York. The ground floor, an arcade, was a stock exchange. Lectures and concerts were held upstairs. For meeting, there weren’t many places to choose from. Much of the city had burned to the ground during the Revolutionary War; nevertheless, New York became the nation’s capital in 1785. After George Washington was inaugurated in 1789, he appointed six Supreme Court Justices—the Constitution doesn’t say how many there ought to be—but on February 1, 1790, the first day the Court was called to session, upstairs in the Exchange, only three Justices showed up and so, lacking a quorum, court was adjourned.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Gets Warm Hill Welcome from Senators Flooded with Millions in Wall St. Donations

Protesters confronted JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on Wednesday as he testified on Capitol Hill about how his bank lost up to $3 billion in risky bets. Lawmakers, however, gave a warmer greeting to the man described as Washington’s favorite banker. JPMorgan spent $7.6 million on lobbying last year, and Dimon has a long record of contributing campaign donations to lawmakers on the Senate Banking Committee. We speak to former investment banker Nomi Prins, author of "Black Tuesday." Prins calls Dimon’s appearance "the tamest — and there have been very tame ones — hearing for any of the bank leaders since the [financial] crisis began in 2008." She adds that "what we saw yesterday was a glimpse of how lobbying money, as well as additional campaign money ... have a tremendous impact on regulations and ... the power that [the financial industry has] within the Senate and, therefore, with respect to regulation of their own industry. ... This is why there’s no line between legislators and bankers."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---