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.]

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Paranoid politics: Donald Trump’s style perfectly embodies the theories of renowned historian

In a recently published essay, a noted professor of American History at Columbia University investigates the rise of Donald Trump and his highly paranoid approach to politics, along with the long history of similarly paranoid political and social movements in the United States:

    “American politics has often been an arena for angry minds,” writes the professor. “In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers, who have now demonstrated in the Trump movement how much political leverage can be got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority. But behind this I believe there is a style of mind that is far from new and that is not necessarily right-wing. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind.”

Raining on Kenney's homecoming parade

It’s been a while since we’ve seen one politician’s career track have such a major impact on two political leadership contests. The worst-kept secret in Conservative and Alberta political circles is secret no longer: After nineteen years in Ottawa, Jason Kenney is coming home.

By passing on a run at the leadership of the federal Conservative Party of Canada, Kenney has completely changed the nature of that leadership contest, and the course of the federal party’s future.

Paul Ryan’s Dream Crushed

Paul Ryan reluctantly took the job of leading the House of Representatives because he had a dream he thought he could actually achieve. Ryan’s dream went something like this: he’d whip his Republican caucus into shape, then they’d fall in behind him and help pass his dream GOP agenda as a series of bills — all of which would be sent to the Senate. Of course they’d never reach President Obama’s desk (for an almost-certain veto), but that wasn’t the point. The point was to show the American electorate that Republicans had many good legislative ideas that could become reality with the election of a Republican to the White House. The entire exercise was to be Ryan’s own personal party platform, in other words, designed to help Republican candidates win in the election. It would be the fulfillment of the promise Ryan represented to many Republicans when they convinced him to take the job — that he was a wonky kind of guy who understood the ins and outs of the budget better than any other Republican in Washington.

New Video Shows Alton Sterling Wasn’t Holding A Gun When He Was Killed By Police

A cell phone video that emerged Wednesday shows that Alton Sterling apparently was not holding a gun when police officers fatally shot him in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday.

The Daily Beast first published the disturbing video, which it obtained from Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the convenience store where the shooting took place. Muflahi told the news organization that Sterling was not causing trouble and that he had been a “welcome presence at the store for years.”

Washington Has Been Obsessed With Punishing Secrecy Violations — until Hillary Clinton

Secrecy is a virtual religion in Washington. Those who violate its dogma have been punished in the harshest and most excessive manner – at least when they possess little political power or influence. As has been widely noted, the Obama administration has prosecuted more leakers under the 1917 Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined. Secrecy in DC is so revered that even the most banal documents are reflexively marked classified, making their disclosure or mishandling a felony. As former CIA and NSA Director Michael Hayden said back in 2000, “Everything’s secret. I mean, I got an email saying ‘Merry Christmas.’ It carried a top secret NSA classification marking.”

Chilcot Report: Tony Blair Told George W. Bush, “If We Win Quickly, Everyone Will Be Our Friend.”

The Chilcot Report, the U.K.’s official inquiry into its participation in the Iraq War, has finally been released after seven years of investigation.

Its executive summary certainly makes former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who led the British push for war, look terrible. According to the report, Blair made statements about Iraq’s nonexistent chemical, biological, and nuclear programs based on “what Mr. Blair believed” rather than the intelligence he had been given. The U.K. went to war despite the fact that “diplomatic options had not been exhausted.” Blair was warned by British intelligence that terrorism would “increase in the event of war, reflecting intensified anti-US/anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West.”

What Everyone Should Know About Ronnie Shumpert, Killed By Police In Unfathomably Brutal Fashion

Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert was planning for his future. The 37-year-old father of five had just been offered a job at Walmart and was saving up money to leave Tupelo, Mississippi. But just days before he was scheduled to start work, his family said, he was mutilated and killed by a police officer and his dog.

“No one deserves to die the way he did,” Tamicka Smith, his older sister, told ThinkProgress.

School Board, Sell Your Mall? That's No Way to Fund Education

You couldn't find a better example of B.C.'s shoddy approach to school funding than Education Minister Mike Bernier's half-baked, last-minute proposal that the Vancouver School Board sell Kingsgate Mall to cover part of its budget deficit.

The ongoing dispute between the provincial government and the board is, on one level, simple enough. The school trustees went through the budget process and decided that meeting student needs, after some cuts, would cost $502 million in the coming fiscal year.

Cornel West: “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency”

Cornel West is a professor at Union Theological Seminary and one of my favorite public intellectuals, a man who deals in penetrating analyses of current events, expressed in a pithy and highly quotable way.

I first met him nearly six years ago, while the financial crisis and the presidential election were both under way, and I was much impressed by what he had to say. I got back in touch with him last week, to see how he assesses the nation’s progress since then.

When 'corrupt' is too kind

The Indicted States of America.

That is what Donald Trump is flogging in the current U.S. election cycle. It’s really all he appears to have, and it is far from a sure-fire sales pitch.

In fact, the iconic American writer Norman Mailer once said that no one can become president of the United States by vilifying America. Trump is out to prove him wrong — as he has already done to many of his detractors on other unorthodoxies.

So long, Nigel Farage, the latest rat to jump from the sinking Brexit ship

Remember back in those halcyon days before Brexit when David Cameron kept telling us we had to remain in the European Union because “we’re not a nation of quitters”? How spectacularly ironic that seems now after the resignation of Nigel Farage. Hot on the heels of Boris Johnson and Dave himself, Farage has now decided he’s “done his bit” for the country and should step aside.

US Politics' True Bipartisan Consensus: Capitalism Is Untouchable

The economic aim of both major US political parties is, in the end, the same: to protect and reinforce the capitalist system.

The Republican Party does so chiefly by means of a systematic, unremitting demonization of the government. They blame it for whatever ails the capitalist economy. If unemployment grows, they point to government policies and actions and attack particular politicians for what they did or did not do to stimulate the economy, directing criticism away from the employers who actually deprive workers of their jobs.

Cinemark Is Shaking Down The Colorado Theater Shooting Victims For $700,000

Four years ago, a gunman opened fire on the audience of an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, killing 12 and wounding 70. Now, Cinemark, the movie theater chain where the attack occurred, is asking victims and their families for thousands of dollars.

Last month, a state jury ruled that Cinemark wasn’t liable for massacre. The movie theater chain — which is the nation’s third largest — then filed paperwork seeking $699,187.13 in legal fees from the plaintiffs, as reported by Deadline.