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.]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Paul Ryan, Romney Campaign Stumble Over Questions About Which Tax Loopholes They'd Close

Mitt Romney's campaign continued its trend Monday of refusing to specify which tax loopholes he and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would close if elected, on the same day the campaign vowed to "reinforce more specifics" regarding what a Romney presidency would look like.

The Republican presidential nominee sought to refocus the debate on the economy with the release of two new ads on Monday, after his campaign spent much of last week trying to mitigate the criticism he incited when he condemned President Barack Obama's handling of attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya.

Mitt Romney Video: Barack Obama Voters 'Dependent On Government'

WASHINGTON -- The overwhelming majority of voters who back President Barack Obama do so because they are "dependent on government" and "believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing," Mitt Romney told a closed-door gathering of about 30 major donors earlier this year, according to video of the event that has surfaced on the Internet.

The person who uploaded a series of potentially inflammatory videos from the fundraiser has claimed authorship of them in an email exchange with The Huffington Post. The source said he or she wishes to remain anonymous for professional reasons and to avoid a lawsuit. The videos, which have created a buzz on the Internet, were blurred and at times blacked out to obscure the location of the filming, the source said.

Permanent residents who live abroad could lose status: Kenney

Permanent residents who don’t spend most of their time in Canada could find themselves stripped of their permanent resident status, says Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

In an interview with iPolitics, Kenney said he is looking at ways to deal with the problem of “astronauts” — people who obtain Canadian permanent resident status but then spend most of their time living and working outside of Canada — often in countries like China with much lower income taxes.

Just leave it alone: Canadians don’t need an Office of Religious Freedom

If there is anything Canada does not need, it’s an Office of Religious Freedom, housed somewhere in the confines of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Yet that’s the future.

The office hasn’t opened yet and, according to the CBC, two prospective “ambassadors” to head the office have declined the post. Good, but unfortunately someone will eventually accept the job.

Truth dies when political warfare begins

Christian Paradis has a lovely wife and three cute-as-a-button kids. He works hard as Industry Minister and, despite some ethical hiccups, is a genuinely likable Quebec MP.

So it’s a mystery why he allows mean-spirited lies to be spread under his name by the Conservative party’s smear specialists.

In what has become the opening fall fib front of Conservative attack, Paradis launched a scathing assault against the NDP, warning they would bring down an apocalypse on the fragile Canadian economy.

Tories attack Graves in court while government pays him to poll

The pollster that Conservative Party lawyers last week attacked as a Liberal partisan did more than $800,000 in work for the Conservative federal government last year.

Lawyers representing Conservatives MPs in a series of robocalls-related court challenges of the 2011 election results are trying to toss out evidence filed by Frank Graves of Ekos Research.

Expect the Conservatives to keep force-feeding their radical agenda through Parliament

Parliament's back after a summer in which almost the only Canadian federal political news was of Conservative government announcements and photo-ops. Many of those were about an event two hundred years ago, the War of 1812.

The conventional wisdom is that having the House in session will be bad for the Conservatives and good for the opposition. Expect plenty of Stürm and Drang this session, we are told, which will shine the light back on a feisty opposition and sully the Conservatives' image.

Why the difference between carbon taxes and cap-and-trade isn’t as important as you think

I didn’t think it was possible for the climate change policy debate to drift even further from reality than it already had. But a series of  posts by Maclean’s Aaron Wherry—most recently here and summarised here—has proven me wrong. The politics of climate change has always required a certain suspension of disbelief. But the Conservatives’ attempt to portray the NDP’s climate change policy as the equivalent of a carbon tax and the NDP’s indignant rebuttal to the effect that their policy is in fact a cap-and-trade model have advanced the transformation of the file into a form of kabuki.

Black fathers telling their stories

As the single father of an 11-year-old boy, Esery Mondesir says he’s concerned about his son having to deal with racism.

“Raising a black man in a society where racial discrimination is a reality creates its own sort of challenges,” said Mr. Mondesir, who arrived in Canada in 2007, after living in Haiti, who also has a daugher living in the United States. “It makes me anxious sometimes, questioning whether I’m doing the right thing.”

How ‘Occupy’ gave a voice to inequality

Occupy Wall Street began one year ago today (Sept. 17), and the Twitter hash tag #S17 will connect you to all those preparing to mark the first anniversary.

You will find tweets encouraging your participation: “If you feel that the world is on the right track, stay home. If you know things are bad, Join your local #OWS.”

‘Non-benevolent’ China a concern in Nexen deal: Tory MP

A Calgary Conservative MP says his concern over CNOOC Ltd.’s takeover of Nexen Inc. boils down to one thing: China is not a “benevolent” country.

Emerging Monday from the first national Conservative caucus meeting since June, Calgary West MP Rob Anders – a persistent China critic – appeared to be focusing his concern on the need for conditions on the takeover, rather than hoping his government strikes down the $15.1-billion deal outright.

Mayor Rob Ford, Doug Ford use radio show to fire back at critics in football controversy

The Ford brothers used their two-hour talk radio show Sunday to assail the media, go after opponents on council and take shots at tree huggers, lefties and elitists, but the mayor still would not directly answer to allegations he has been misusing taxpayer-funded staff and city resources to help with his football teams.

Speaking for the first time since the football firestorm erupted last week, Mayor Rob Ford joked he and his wife half expected to roll over in bed that morning and see the media looking in their windows.

Federal government begins recruiting new graduates during downsizing

OTTAWA — The federal government quietly kicked off its smallest and most targeted recruitment drive in years for Canada’s college and university graduates as departments continue to issue notices to staff that their jobs are the line and gird for more cuts.

The post-secondary campaign, which is typically the biggest and most important of the government’s various recruitment campaigns, began last week as departments issued the latest wave of affected letters to hundreds of workers across the country. The Conservatives’ three rounds of spending cuts and plan to eliminate 19,200 jobs have driven hiring in the public service to the lowest level in more than a decade.

Happy Crashiversary! Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Four years after Lehman Brothers collapsed, it's time to take stock of things by asking a stock political question: Are you better off now than you were four years ago?

Where you stand on the answer depends on where you sit. Many people, businesses and communities are still struggling to regain the ground they lost after September 15, 2008, the day the giant investment banker filed for bankruptcy and triggered the biggest global financial and economic crisis since the 1930s. But for others, things have never been better.

The Liberals need a merger candidate

It isn’t obvious who it would be, but the Liberal party deserves to have a candidate in the coming leadership race who stands forthrightly in favour of promoting a merger or close cooperation with the NDP.

When you think about it, it is awfully strange that a champion for merger hasn’t emerged already. Consider for a moment who was saying that the Liberal party had to reflect on this option after last year’s election. Were they marginal figures?

Senate reform should be decided by a referendum

The Conservative government’s theatrical move to kick out Iranian diplomats from Ottawa and pull ours from Tehran dominated headlines and op-eds for the past week. The other significant announcement which was made that same day, yet failed to garner as much attention, was Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s appointment of five new senators to the Upper House. The coincidental timing of the two was more likely strategic than arbitrary. A quick review of recent news coverage from print to TV and radio indicate the government was successful in changing the channel from the patronage appointments and, more importantly, the government’s commitment to Senate reform.

It would be a challenge to remember the last time a positive news story came out of the Senate. In the past two years alone, Canadians were once again reminded through a series of disconcerting events that the time has come to reform the Upper Chamber or better yet, in my opinion, abolish it all together.

Anti-Semitic Posters Upset Winnipeg Mayor

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz says he is extremely saddened and disgusted to hear that anti-Semitic posters, attacking him, have appeared in the city's downtown over the weekend.

Several posters, which were first spotted near Broadway and Carlton Street on Friday night, attack the integrity of Katz — who is Jewish — and make references to Hitler.

Canada Budget Cuts: Conservative MPs Coping With Budget Cuts Upon Return From Summer Stints In Ridings

OTTAWA - The Conservative caucus meets for the first time Monday since Parliament packed up for the summer, but the catching-up chatter won't all be about cottages and barbecues.

Many MPs have had to cope all season with the fallout from last spring's budget cuts, some of which hit local services in areas such as train travel, the coast guard and interior waterways.

The lobbying has been going on hard in some cases to try and mitigate the impact of the decisions on constituents.

Occupy Wall Street: What Happened?

By the time the police kicked the protesters out of Zuccotti Park last November, the Occupy Wall Street movement had already split into at least two distinct factions. There were the mostly college educated activists and intellectuals who essentially made up the government of the park, and the drifters who slept in the park and relied on donations mostly allocated by the first group for food, clothes and other basic necessities.

After the eviction, some members of the first group tried to portray the raid as an unintended gift from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD to the movement. The 22,000 square-feet village of tents and tarps had garnered incredible attention and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, but maintaining the space had come with significant challenges. In addition to feeding, clothing, and caring for the hundreds of people living there, the activists had to contend with the hazards of drug use and mental illness, reports of crime and the imminent approach of winter. Some saw the eviction as an opportunity to focus more of their energy on bigger things, like pushing for reforms to the financial system and to the United States government.

Meir Dagan, Former Mossad Chief, Says Attack On Iran 'Stupidest Idea' He's Ever Heard

Meir Dagan, a former head of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, says that an attack on Iran would be the "stupidest idea [I've] ever heard."

Speaking to '60 Minutes' Dagan said: "An attack on Iran now before exploring all other approaches is not the right way how to do it [sic]."

Dagan, a man who Iranian authorities reportedly claim has dispatched assassins, computer viruses and faulty equipment in a bid to delay the country's nuclear program, appears to have developed a surprising appreciation for the Islamic Republic's regime - which is a sworn enemy of Israel.

"The regime in Iran is a very rational regime," according to Dagan. Asked if he felt the regime in Iran was capable of backing down from an escalating crisis over the country's nuclear program, he replied: "No doubt that the Iranian regime is not exactly rational based on what I would call 'Western Thinking,' but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions."

Dagan's interview is in stark contrast to the opinions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appeared on 'Meet The Press' earlier. Netanyahu said that supporters of the policy of 'containing' Iran and its nuclear ambitions "set a new standard for human stupidity."

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: Mark Hanrahan

Christy Clark, BC Fall Session Target of Evan Solomon Letter

B.C. Premier Christy Clark and her decision to forgo a fall session of legislature is the target of a sharply worded open letter by Evan Solomon, host of The House on CBC Radio and Power & Politics on CBC News Network.

Solomon calls out the premier for not facing the electorate since she won a byelection in May 2011 and became premier. "And you do have an election scheduled for May 14, 2013," he points out.

Tory MPs 'are lying' about NDP stance on carbon tax: Mulcair

OTTAWA -- NDP leader Thomas Mulcair says the Harper Conservatives are flat-out lying when they tell Canadians that a vote for the NDP is a vote for a carbon tax.

"This is an ethical decision (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper is going to have to deal with, because he knows his MPs are lying when they say that," Mulcair said during an appearance on the Global News program The West Block.

The claim that Mulcair will bring in the "tax on everyone," as the Conservatives have described a carbon tax, isn't based on any announcement the leader has made.

PSAC People's Court convicts politicians for crimes against ordinary Canadians

On a cloudy Saturday afternoon, the mock trial of Stephen Harper, Dalton McGuinty, Rob Ford and Tim Hudak officially opened in front of the 361 University Avenue Courthouse in Toronto.

The accused were charged with promoting anti-worker agendas and making sweeping cuts to vital public services.

Organized by the Public Service Alliance of Canada - Ontario, the People's Court was part of PSAC's National Day of Action, one of many events that took place across Canada, against federal, provincial, and municipal austerity agendas.

Parliament resumes: Do the Cons want the Peace Tower to become the War Tower?

This week Canadian politics moves back indoors, as the 41st Parliament resumes. According to a recent poll, the Harper government looks in command, much to the disgust of those Canadians who support other parties -- and outnumber those who back the Harper regime.

The Cons pose as masters of the economy, as proven by new job creation. The number of net new jobs (7770,000 since 2009) announced by the Finance Minister will be repeated at every opportunity by every Con MP. The Harper team will dismiss the official opposition New Democrats as knowing nothing about the issues that matter: jobs, prosperity, economic growth, taxes, government spending, deficits and debts.

PM sets up new Cabinet P&P subcommittee

Prime Minister Stephen Harper created a new Cabinet Priorities and Planning Subcommittee on Government Administration last week and opposition MPs say they hope it will shed more light on the impact of the government’s budget cuts, but are concerned it could mean more cuts.

“I think it’s clear that the purpose of this committee is to find what they call ‘savings’ and ‘efficiencies,’ which is double-speak for trying to find other places in the public service that they can cut, and clearly they’re not satisfied with the level of cuts they’ve made and so they’re trying to find more,” said NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat (Pontiac, Que.).

Opposition MPs back Page in fight with feds over details on $37-billion in cuts

The government is committing “policy and political fraud” by withholding the details of billions of dollars in budget cuts from Parliamentary Budget Office Kevin Page for months, and it should hand over the information he requested now, say opposition critics.

“This is tantamount to policy and political fraud,” said Liberal Public Accounts critic Gerry Byrne (Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, Nfld.). “Decisions are being taken about the Conservative budget without proper information being made available.”

Tories say second budget bill priority, could be another House showdown

All political parties are calling for a productive and cooperative House fall sitting, but Government House Leader Peter Van Loan says the “cornerstone,” after a nearly a three-month summer recess, will be the government’s second budget implementation bill which, opposition MPs say, could set the House up for another 24-hour voting marathon.

The Commons resumes sitting on Sept. 17 and is scheduled to sit for 11 weeks over the next three months, with one week off in October and one in November. The House is scheduled to break on Dec. 14.

PM’s iron-fist management style effective, but he may want to tone it down a smidge

The kids are back in school—er—I mean Parliament is back in session. What to expect to this fall from our federal parliamentarians?

 Part of me thinks international affairs will be shaping many of the debates in Ottawa for months to come. The world’s fragile fiscal system, its impact on Canada and what we are doing on the home front should see a few politicians get the lather on. Iran, Syria, Libya and other world trouble spots will consume time. Trade, trade, and more trade debates will fire up the oratory. More than a few people, both inside the Conservative Party and outside, will be watching what the government does on the Nexen-CNOOC deal. Also, who are we kidding? We will be staring across the border regularly now to see what happens with the U.S. presidential election.

Harper doesn’t want to wake ‘constitutional leviathan’ on Senate reforms, slowly building his case

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has appointed 51 Senators since 2006, doesn’t want to get into a constitutional battle over Senate reform and is instead incrementally building a case for changes from the ground up, which is why he has not used his majority in the House and Upper Chamber to fast-track Bill C-7, the current Senate reform bill, through Parliament, say insiders and political watchers.

“There are constitutional conventions and there are ways things are done. You can just do it, which could land you in court, or you can build momentum which is from the ground up; getting the different provinces to go. He is an incrementalist. That’s been one of the hallmarks of his government,” said a former senior Conservative who did not want to be named. “He doesn’t want to wake the constitutional leviathan.… They’ve been talking about the same thing for half a century now, so it’s easy for those in the media to dust off all those arguments and then there’s suddenly 500 people with opinions and there’s the Prime Minister. Those aren’t good odds for getting a good story out there. … Why fight that battle? There’s rhetoric and there’s achievement. If Stephen Harper has a choice, he’ll choose the latter every time.”

Roundtable: After 1 Year, OWS Gives Voice to Resistance of Crippling Debt and Widening Inequality

The Occupy Wall Street movement is largely credited for reframing the national dialogue on economic inequality and popularizing the phrase, "We are the 99 percent." We host a roundtable with Frances Fox Piven, an author and professor at City University of New York who has studied social movements for decades; Nathan Schneider, editor of the blog Waging Nonviolence, which has extensively covered the Occupy movement; and Suzanne Collado, an organizer with Occupy Wall Street since its inception and member of the group Strike Debt, an effort to organize a mass upsurge of debt resistance.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Hall Findlay intends to run once $28,000 debt paid off

PARLIAMENT HILL—Prospective Liberal leadership candidate Martha Hall Findlay, criticized by the Conservatives last week for failing to have fully paid off $130,000 in her own loans to her 2006 Liberal leadership campaign, says she has only $28,000 of the debt left and intends to run for the party helm once it is fully repaid.

But Ms. Hall Findlay questions why the Conservative government has held back a bill it tabled nearly a year ago that would have allowed her to raise enough money for full repayment much earlier.

Rob Ford: ‘I’m not going anywhere, folks’

As Rob Ford prepares to lead dozens of business and political leaders to Chicago, the embattled Toronto mayor returned to the airwaves Sunday hoping to tackle the football coaching controversy that has been dogging him since last week.

City hall officials confirmed Sunday that Barclays Capital Canada chairman Michael Wilson, former Ontario premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eves, TMX CEO Thomas Kloet and Enwave chairman Paul Brown will be among some 60 delegates accompanying Mr. Ford to the Windy City in an effort to strengthen business and trade ties.

Growing tension between China and Japan fuels concerns over potential war

China’s incoming leader re-emerged this weekend after an unexplained two-week absence, just in time to see the country he’s about to inherit consumed with rabid anti-Japanese nationalism that his Communist Party unleashed, and which the United States warned on Sunday could lead to a regional war.

Beijing’s rapidly deteriorating relationship with Tokyo will top the agenda as Xi Jinping takes over as general secretary of the Communist Party from President Hu Jintao, a promotion expected as early as next month. While Mr. Xi will continue to share power with Mr. Hu for months afterward, the stakes could scarcely be higher for his first test.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford offending his own supporters

If this isn’t the beginning of the end of Rob Ford, it should be. Now that his hypocrisy has started to offend even his most ardent supporters, how far off can his political demise be?

It’s interesting, though, that His Worship’s undoing won’t be the result of the extraordinary incompetence with which he has run the city, but the sheer stupidity of his personal behaviour.

For a man elected on a ticket of stopping civic waste, what he even called corruption, the spectacle of recent days takes one’s breath away. He is, don’t forget, a politician who famously, if fatuously, fulminates on cue every time the city offers to pay for so much as a councillor’s paper clips.

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Swarm NYC Financial District to Mark 1st Anniversary of 99% Struggle

Occupy Wall Street protesters are converging in the Financial District in Manhattan to mark the first anniversary of the movement’s beginning. Similar protests are taking place in dozens of cities today.

On Sept. 17, 2011, thousands of people answered the call originally put out by the Canadian-based magazine "Adbusters" to occupy Wall Street. Protesters slept in Zuccotti Park for nearly two months before the New York City police raided the encampment. We look back at some of Democracy Now!'s earliest coverage of the movement. We interview Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello at Sunday's anniversary concert in New York City’s Foley Square, and get a live update on the action unfolding today in the streets with Citizen Radio’s Allison Kilkenny.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --