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.]

Friday, May 27, 2016

NDP inhibits internal democracy with steep leadership race entry fee

Excited about the possibilities that the upcoming NDP leadership race might allow?

Wondering if an insurgent campaign might arise and if an outsider or unexpected candidate might lead to something akin to what happened with Corbyn in the Labour Party?

We are seeing an unanticipated socialist moment in North America due to the Sanders campaign in the U.S. Given the repudiation of the establishment the membership just delivered when it ousted Mulcair as leader, one would have every right to think that maybe, just maybe, now was finally the time where something might occur to shake up the deadening centrist rot that has been eating away at the NDP.

How corporate rights protections are threatening farmers' right to seed

As I write, spring seeding on farms across the country is well underway.

I love this time of year. As a kid growing up on the Prairies, March, April and May were always a special time. While the kids played in the dwindling puddles of mud and water, farmers were monitoring soil conditions, readying machinery and checking on their store of seed grains.

The Kochs are brainwashing us: Inside the billionaire industrialists’ chilling economics curriculum

Charles Koch is known for being CEO of industrial giant Koch Industries and a chief financier of the massive conservative political operation he runs with his brother David. In recent years, student activists and investigative journalists have exposed another of Koch’s hats: mega-donor to hundreds of colleges and universities, often funding free-market-focused academic centers housed at public and private schools alike. One Koch-funded program is advocating cutthroat economics to grade school students, even sacrificing lives for profits.

Bubba’s toxic economic legacy: When Hillary brags about the first Clinton presidency legacy, she doesn’t want you to remember this

Over the past several months, Hillary Clinton has been somewhat hesitant to bring up her husband’s legacy as president, which, for many progressives, is a vexing reminder of how the Democratic Party embraced neoliberal policies towards the end of the 20th century, under the leadership of the the triangulating Bill Clinton. Faced with the insurgent campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Clinton has tried to hype her progressive bona fides, which has meant avoiding some of Bill’s more despicable policies — from the 1994 crime bill and expansion of the war on drugs, to welfare reform and the Defense of Marriage Act. Almost two decades removed from the Clinton administration, there is a lot to find distasteful, and Hillary clearly wants to avoid discussing the worst of her husband’s presidency (which, like or not, she played a major role in).

How Koch Industries is scamming America: Investigation highlights a global web of tax avoidance

The Koch Brothers want to pull back on national politics, according to the National Review, because their business and public relations wings have grown weary of the spotlight. “Concerned about the damage being done to their corporate brand [and] increasingly bothered by their public vilification,” the Kochs have decided to rethink their approach to politics. They operated at their best in the shadows – working on ideas in think tanks, in universities, at the state and local level. Being the poster child for corporate-tinged conservative activism risked discrediting their entire project.

The powerless brokers: Trump’s got the Koch Brothers running away from the general election and leaving their billions at home

Over the past few years, the wealthiest and most famous political activists in the world have been a couple of multi-billionaires by the name of Charles and David Koch, who most people just refer to as a single entity — “the Koch brothers.”  Their names became a household word as they poured hundreds of millions into initiatives all over the country and helped finance the Tea Party takeover of the GOP. They were the most important Republicans in America.

The Dangerous Insecurity of Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s opponents in the primaries were right to call him a con artist, a narcissist and a pathological liar. Just ask “John Miller.”

That’s one of the names Trump used with journalists to burnish his status as a bold-faced Manhattan celebrity; he also called himself “John Barron.” Both personae were supposedly publicists who just wanted to explain what a wonderful guy Mr. Trump was and how beautiful women seemed unable to resist his charms.

Why Are BC's Independent Schools Getting So Much Money?

BC Teachers' Federation posts on Facebook -- more than a dozen in May -- usually get a few dozen likes or shares.

But one recent post hit a nerve, inspiring over 8,600 shares, 6,300 comments and reaching about 600,000 people so far.

''This year, B.C. gave $358 million to private schools, including those for the super-elite. Meanwhile, Osoyoos is being forced to close its high school because of government underfunding,'' read the text superimposed on photos of St. Michaels University School, where tuition for Canadian students runs upwards of $21,000 a year, and Osoyoos Secondary School, the community's only high school slated for closure because of falling enrolment. Parents are reportedly planning to open an independent high school rather than have students bus 22 kilometres to a school in Oliver.

Setting the Inuit record straight on cultural prejudice and the seal hunt

Alethea and I talk about her new film Angry Inuk, the "People of the Seal," cultural prejudice, setting the Inuit record straight, song battles and a new model for animal activism.
Watch the trailer here.
Anti-seal hunting campaigns have attracted high profile supporters, and with them, hefty financial contributions. From Pamela Anderson to Paul McCartney, celebrities have voiced their outrage about an issue they seem keenly unqualified to discuss. Meanwhile, seal hunters are unjustly targeted for traditional practices that have supported them for centuries.
With a way of life on the cusp of extinction, who's really at fault? How does a culture that exercises understated anger and finds peaceful ways to resolve conflict compete with animal activist groups that rely on anti-sealing sentiment they aggressively cultivate to underwrite their other causes?

Journalists Arrested In Ferguson Barred From Talking About Settlement

ST. LOUIS – Four journalists have settled a lawsuit against the St. Louis County Police Department over their arrests in Ferguson, Missouri, during the unrest that followed Michael Brown’s death – but they won’t be allowed to talk about it.

Under the deal, Ryan Devereaux, Lukas Hermsmeier, Ansgar Graw and Frank Herrmann cannot “take any steps to publicize any of the terms” of the settlement. The agreement requires St. Louis County to pay $75,000 to resolve the federal civil rights lawsuit from the reporters, but like many settlements does not require the county to admit liability.

Vladimir Putin’s America-Friendly Propaganda About Fighting Terror Just Suffered A Big Blow

WASHINGTON — The last time he visited the U.S., in September of 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin brought the ideal message for war-weary observers of U.S. foreign policy.

At the United Nations’ annual General Assembly, he indicated he wanted to address international players involved in the Middle East — the most prominent of which, of course, is the U.S. In the region now, Putin said, “nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.”

"Water Is Our Life": How a Mining Disaster Affected the Navajo Nation

In the midst of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, it is not surprising that the World Health Organization recently released a report documenting that the environment is responsible for almost a quarter of deaths and disease in the world.

But this is not news to the Diné (Navajo) people, who believe that all parts of nature -- the water, fish, trees and stars -- are equal members of society and are so intricately connected that an imbalance in one member may impact another.

Navy Allowed to Kill or Injure Nearly 12 Million Whales, Dolphins, Other Marine Mammals in Pacific

What if you were told the US Navy is legally permitted to harass, injure or kill nearly 12 million whales, dolphins, porpoises, sea lions and seals across the North Pacific Ocean over a five-year period?

It is true, and over one-quarter of every tax dollar you pay is helping to fund it.

A multistate, international citizen watchdog group called the West Coast Action Alliance (WCAA), tabulated numbers that came straight from the Navy's Northwest Training and Testing EIS (environmental impact statement) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Letters of Authorization for incidental "takes" of marine mammals issued by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

Donald Trump, president of the Confederacy: The Southern strategy created the GOP civil war

There are two consistent themes about the American right-wing in the Age of Obama. First, racism and conservatism is now one and the same thing. Second, the Republican Party is the United States’ largest white identity organization. I am not the only person to have made such observations.

Of course, Republicans and conservatives find these twin facts offensive and unbelievable. They hold onto their founding myth of Lincoln and “Great Emancipator” while simultaneously being dependent on voters from the former Confederacy for power—states that still fly and honor the American swastika, a rebel flag of treason and anti-black hatred.

Why Trump’s fake publicist act matters: It proves he’s exactly the weirdo and liar we all suspected he was

On Friday, the already off-the-charts bizarre Donald Trump campaign took a turn for the even weirder after two Washington Post journalists, Marc Fisher and Will Hobson, published a report about Trump’s long history of posing as his own publicist, often for no other purpose but to brag about his sex life. Or, in many cases, his imaginary sex life, as Trump, posing as “John Miller,”  would try to convince reporters that Madonna wanted to have sex with him.

Trump: Rescind Obama’s transgender directives, but ‘protect everybody’

NEW YORK — Donald Trump vowed Monday that if elected president he would rescind the Obama administration's new directives aimed at protecting transgender people against discrimination in schools and health-care coverage.

But even as Trump accused the administration of federal overreach and argued that such matters should be addressed by the states, the Republican Party's presumptive nominee also sounded a more compassionate tone and offered a more nuanced outlook than many of his party's elected leaders.

Trump Says He’s Unlikely To Have A Good Relationship With David Cameron

LONDON (Reuters) - Donald Trump said he was unlikely to have a good relationship with David Cameron because the British prime minister cast the U.S. presidential candidate as “divisive, stupid and wrong” for proposing a temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Cameron criticised Trump in the British parliament over his call for the ban on Muslims and suggested that the New York billionaire, who is now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, would unite Britain against him if he visited.

Senior Trump Adviser Says Idea That Words Matter Is ‘Ridiculous’

Donald Trump spent his first two weeks as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee changing his stances on a number of policy issues, sometimes multiple times. That got an interesting defense from one of his senior advisers on Friday.

Speaking on a panel on CNN, Barry Bennett, a senior political adviser to the Trump campaign, defended Trump’s waffling by saying that anything he puts forward is “a suggestion to Congress,” noting that “he has to persuade Congress to do it and all he can try to do is persuade Congress to go along with him.”

Donald Trump’s Pledge to Defend Spending for Old and Poor Belied by Staff Picks

Throughout his campaign, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has advocated for building two walls: one between the U.S. and Mexico, and another around America’s public retirement programs.

For more than a year, Trump has regularly assailed his rival candidates for “attacking Social Security… attacking Medicare and Medicaid.” He boasted that he was the one “saying I’m not gonna do that,” instead saying that he’d focus on economic growth so that we’d get “so rich you don’t have to do that.”

Trump predicts refugees will plan next 9/11

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said it would take another 9/11 to wake up border security — and predicted refugees would plan the next attack.

“Bad things will happen. A lot of bad things will happen,” Trump said on the National Border Patrol Council's "The Green Line" radio show, BuzzFeed News reported.

Boris Johnson Defends Hitler European Union Comparison

Boris Johnson has defended comparing the European Union to Hitler’s attempt to occupy the continent.

The former London mayor and leading Brexit campaigner said the reaction to his comment was driven by media “hysteria”.

“Over the last few thousand years there have all sorts of attempts in Europe to recreate the dream of the Roman Empire,” he said today.

Donald Trump is apparently considering Sarah Palin for VP — and it’s even scarier than you think

Back in 2008, when she was John McCain’s game-changing nominee for vice president, Sarah Palin sat for an interview with Fox News Channel’s Carl Cameron who gently pressed the Alaska governor for clarification on an answer she had given during her first and only debate against Joe Biden the night before. See, Palin had almost entirely flummoxed a simple question about the constitutional role of the vice president. Here was Palin’s response during the debate:

    “Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president’s agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we’ll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation.”

The “Madman Theory” of Donald Trump: What’s the GOP supposed to do about a lying, authoritarian demagogue?

Back in the day, liberals used to always wonder why Warren Beatty didn’t run for president. Nowadays, you’ll hear the same thing about George Clooney. After all, these are people with 100 percent name recognition, fabulous good looks, brains, charisma, money and political contacts. They have an obvious knowledge and interest in government and achieved the very highest pinnacle of success as actors, directors and producers.

Hypocrisy, thy name is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court Justice seemingly incapable of speaking when his job requires it, gave a commencement speech at Hillsdale College over the weekend in which he provided ironic insight into his infamous silence, urging the graduates “not [to] hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket…in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness.”

As a sitting judge on the highest court in the land, it would seem commonsensical for someone of his stature to deliver such advice — or would, if Justice Thomas ever demonstrated that he himself abided by it.

Here are some of the insane things our do-nothing Congress is wasting taxpayer money on

Perhaps it is ungenerous to keep noting — over and over and over again — that our current Republican-led Congress is too dysfunctional and lazy to work on solutions to pressing problems like the potential public health threat from the Zika virus or the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Turns out, when you take a look, you find congressional committees are hard at work on all sorts of pressing issues they can talk about when they are campaigning through the charred remains of districts and states mauled by capitalism and their own inattention this fall. Let’s read about a couple of them!

Welcome to 1984

The artifice of corporate totalitarianism has been exposed. The citizens, disgusted by the lies and manipulation, have turned on the political establishment. But the game is not over. Corporate power has within its arsenal potent forms of control. It will use them. As the pretense of democracy is unmasked, the naked fist of state repression takes its place. America is about—unless we act quickly—to get ugly.

“Our political system is decaying,” said Ralph Nader when I reached him by phone in Washington, D.C. “It’s on the way to gangrene. It’s reaching a critical mass of citizen revolt.”

Thomas Frank: Bill Clinton's Five Major Achievements Were Longstanding GOP Objectives

Thomas Frank, author of Listen, Liberal, discusses the Hillary Doctrine's basis in neoliberalism, how the Democratic Party stopped governing on behalf of the working class and how President Bill Clinton's major achievements actually enacted conservative goals, and ultimately hurt working people.

Mark Karlin: The innovation class, the creative class, the wealthy class, the professional class with Ivy League degrees: How did President Obama become the avatar for believing these groups should be the decision makers in government?

Justin Trudeau And The Great Pot Hypocrisy

Back in January 2012 I interviewed a moustache-sporting, longhaired Justin Trudeau at the Liberal Party of Canada's convention in Ottawa. Back in my hotel room where I was staying with 5 members of my team (we were hired by the outgoing Liberal president to create live content for the live stream broadcast), we had between us maybe a half-ounce of marijuana. For us -- writers, designers and technical support people -- it was pretty much the same thing as having a case of beer.

Liberals Mull Veto Power That Could Hurt Access To Information

OTTAWA — The Liberal government is floating the idea of a ministerial veto over planned new powers for the information commissioner — a move that would give cabinet the power to block release of documents.

During the election campaign, the Liberals promised reforms to Canada's Access to Information regime, including new authority for the information commissioner to issue "binding orders'' for disclosure of documents.

Liberals Talk Up Unusual Funding Model For Infrastructure

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government's newfound enthusiasm about a big Montreal transit proposal has given Canadians a glimpse at one way Ottawa could fund billions in public infrastructure, like roads, bridges and rail, over the long haul.

In recent days, senior Liberals have been talking up an unusual funding model for the $5.5-billion light-rail plan for Montreal, calling for a partnership that includes Ottawa and a public pension fund.