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.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Coronation of a Charlatan

WASHINGTON—Years from now, bright-eyed children will look up at Grandma or Grandpa and ask, “Where were you when they nominated Donald Trump?” Far too many prominent Republicans will have to hang their heads in shame.

As the garish imperial coronation in Cleveland reaches its climax, there will be much commentary—some, no doubt, from me—about fleeting events. Did So-and-so’s speech help Trump or hurt him? Did one line of attack against Hillary Clinton seem more or less promising than another? All of this is news, but we must not lose sight of the big picture: The “Party of Lincoln” is about to nominate for president a man who is dangerously unfit for the office.

50 Shockingly Extreme Right Wing Proposals in the 2016 Republican Party Platform

The Republican Party platform  is a wish list for what Republicans in Congress and Donald Trump would like to impose on America.

What’s surprising about it is that it goes further to the right than what’s even been heard on the campaign trail from Trump as he has promised to build a wall along the Mexican border and embrace the religious right’s long-held tenets opposing abortion, LGBT rights, and more.

Meet the Trump-Supporting Women of the RNC

In a dark wood-paneled room deep in the belly of a downtown Cleveland mall, the first day of the Republican National Convention is not getting off to a great start. Rows of banquet chairs lined up for an event hosted by the group Women Vote Trump are empty.

"Ladies and gentlemen — and I'm so glad to see gentlemen in the audience," says Ann Stone, co-chair of Women Vote Trump. "In fact, I'm glad to see anybody in the audience."

The Dirty Lie That All Lives Matter

Every time there’s a police shooting involving an unarmed or unthreatening black man, you can bet there is going to be one ugly and racist phrase slung about. And no, I don’t mean Black Lives Matter. I mean the “counter” to that “All Lives Matter.”

There certainly has been enough written about why Black Lives Matter is not racist. I won’t belabor that here. It’s intuitively obvious it isn’t, anyway, and you have strain to make it out to be so.

The Long, Sad, Corrupted Devolution of the GOP, From Eisenhower to Donald Trump

The Republican Party is poised to nominate a presidential candidate who has built his platform on promises to ban a billion people from entering the United States based on their religious faith and to build a gigantic wall south of the border.

But Donald J. Trump is not an accident. The GOP has in the last 40 years relentlessly devolved away from addressing the needs of ordinary people, catering instead to extreme ideologies and the wealthiest donors.

Rather than addressing pressing problems like income inequality and climate change, the modern GOP focuses instead on cutting taxes for the super-wealthy, expanding earth-killing carbon extraction, and endless war.

The Single Most Radical Line In The Republican Party Platform

The Constitution, by its own terms, is the “supreme law of the land.” All judges are bound by the words of the Constitution, and all laws made by legislatures within the United States must yield to the Constitution’s provisions. This is the central insight of the American republic — the idea that the structure and limits of government are laid out in a written document, and that document is binding on all government actors subject to its terms.

The Republican Party’s 2016 Platform rejects this concept outright.

Republican Congressman Makes The Case For White Supremacy

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is tired of hearing about “white people.”

Appearing on MSNBC Monday evening, King was part of a panel of four people discussing the Republican National Convention. Esquire’s Charles Pierce, one of King’s co-panelists, commented on the dominance of “loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people” at the RNC. King objected not so much to Pierce’s factual premise as to the notion that the monochromatic nature of the GOP is a bug.

Whistling past the graveyard

It is the high season of blood, bullets, and denial; the political witching hour is upon us.

Authorities everywhere speak in measured tones about calm, unity, and moving forward together as the atrocities mount. Their words are empty. Their analysis of what’s behind the current chaos couldn’t convince a five-year-old. They are shilling for their establishments, and everyone knows it.

Donald Trump and the Politics of Being an Asshole

Last year, when Donald Trump and his small band of political advisers were considering whether the celebrity pink-slipper should run for president, there was one factor they did not dwell on: Trump's obvious negatives as a candidate. His bankruptcies and bad business deals that screwed creditors and contractors, his marital infidelities, his ties to mob-linked figures, his long history of crude and rude remarks, his tendency to engage in mean-spirited feuds, his racist birther crusade against President Barack Obama, and his arrogant, egotistic, bombastic, and bullying public persona would all supply tons of material for opposition researchers.

Erdogan is using this failed coup to get rid of the last vestiges of secular Turkey

The sweeping purge of soldiers and officials in the wake of the failed coup in Turkey is likely to be conducted with extra vigour because a number of close associates of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are among the 265 dead. The number of people detained so far is at 6,000 including soldiers, and around 3,000 judges and legal officials who are unlikely to have been connected to the attempted military takeover.

Taxpayers Funded A Lifesaving Drug And Guess What Happened Next

The pharmaceutical industry has become a major health hazard to the American people.

Our nation pays - by far - the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs. As a result of these outrageous prices, nearly one in five Americans cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. Meanwhile, the five largest prescription drug companies made a combined $50 billion in profits last year. That is unacceptable. A lifesaving product does no one any good if a patient cannot buy the medicine they need, and that is now happening far too often in the richest nation in the world.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg On Donald Trump: Unprecedented Or A Supreme Court Norm?

While Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg apologized for her remarks on Donald Trump last week, politicians and the media who did backflips to criticize her are rewriting history. Strong, opinionated women, like “The Notorious RBG,” are always criticized. She spoke what many people already feel about the utterly unqualified Donald Trump. Her comments deserve a deeper analysis beyond subjective punditry or sanctimonious Tweets.

GOP Platform Proposes To Get Rid Of National Parks And National Forests

The Republican platform committee met this week to draft the document that defines the party’s official principles and policies. Along with provisions on pornography and LGBT “conversion therapy” is an amendment calling for the indiscriminate and immediate disposal of national public lands.

The inclusion of this provision in the Republican Party’s platform reflects the growing influence of and ideological alliance between several anti-park members of the GOP and anti-government extremists, led by Cliven Bundy, who dispute the federal government’s authority over national public lands.

Billionaires Bought Brexit -- They Are Controlling Our Venal Political System

Is this a democracy or is it a plutocracy? Between people and power is a filter through which decisions are made, a filter made of money. In the European referendum, remain won 46 percent of the money given and lent to the two sides (£20.4m) and 48 percent of the vote; leave won 54 percent of the money and 52 percent of the vote. This fearful symmetry should worry anyone who values democracy. Did the vote follow the money? Had the spending been the other way round, would the result have reflected that? These should not be questions you need to ask in a democracy.

Ten Lessons for Creating Safety Without Police

How can we create safety collectively? How can we challenge hate and police violence by using community-based strategies rather than relying on the police?

For the past 10 years, the Safe OUTside the System (SOS) Collective -- an anti-violence program led by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, trans and gender non-conforming (LGBTSTGNC) people of color (POC) in Central Brooklyn, New York, specifically Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights and Bushwick neighborhoods -- has been working to answer these questions. After a decade of organizing, the three SOS Coordinators, founding coordinator Ejeris Dixon (2005–2010), the second coordinator Che J. Rene Long (2010–2014), and the current coordinator Tasha Amezcua (2014–present) co-wrote this piece to share the lessons we've learned over the years. We also asked SOS members from the past 10 years about their reflections on our successes, struggles and our hopes for the future. We write these lessons for all the people seeking to address violence and envision safer communities.

—Ejeris, Che and Tasha

Donald Trump Ridiculed Iraq War Position Held By His VP Pick, Mike Pence

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has made the decision to go to war in Iraq a major foreign policy litmus test, concluding that Hillary Clinton was “trigger-happy” for supporting what he called a “disaster.” But his apparent vice presidential pick, Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence, was a major proponent of that conflict.

Britain’s New Foreign Secretary Says British Colonialism In Africa Wasn’t So Bad

Following the resignation of British Prime Minister David Cameron, new PM Theresa May named her Cabinet Wednesday. One of the most notable names on the list was pro-Brexiter and former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who was appointed Foreign Secretary.

Critics of Johnson’s appointment have already pointed out his numerous gaffes and propensity for offending foreign leaders. Many media outlets published articles listing all the various countries that Johnson has offended during his reign as mayor.

Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

Terrorized by Police Raids and Mass Displacement, Rio Prepares for Olympics

At least 77,206 people have already been displaced from Rio de Janeiro as the city prepares to host the Olympic Games on August 5-21, and police raids -- predominantly against Black youth in favelas and working class neighborhoods -- have intensified.

According to Larissa Lacerda, a member of the Rio Cup and Olympics Popular Committee, since the start of 2016, police raids in the favelas have provoked mass killings of poor, Black youth. Lacerda's organization is a collective that brings together unions, NGOs, researchers, students and impacted communities. She said she expects the situation to only get worse in the final days before the start of the Olympic Games, just as abuses worsened before the Panamerican Games and the World Cup.

Should Canada Post Become A Bank? No Way, Says Banking Lobby

OTTAWA -- The lobby group representing Canada's big banks says there's no need for Canada Post to expand onto their turf because Canadians already have an abundant choice of financial services.

The Canadian Bankers Association says there is "no public policy objective or existing gap in the marketplace'' that would warrant a Crown corporation becoming a retail bank.

In a brief to the federal task force reviewing Canada Post, the bankers association says some proponents of postal banking are "disregarding the facts'' about Canada's highly competitive and accessible financial services sector.

The GOP Reaps The Whirlwind: Racism, Nativism, Xenophobia — And Donald Trump

The warning comes from the Hebrew book of Hosea: “Those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind.”

So it is with the Republican Party and Donald Trump.

True, Trump personifies a fear and hatred of “the other” embodied by some of our history’s more frightening and despicable figures: Father Coughlin, Joseph McCarthy, George Wallace. This has led to some of our most shameful chapters — lynchings, anti-immigrant violence, the internment of Japanese-Americans. Because such tragedies are so searing, we view them as unique.

Credit Unions Do Good Work, So Why Is BC Hobbling Them?

The B.C. government will this year begin the phaseout of a long-standing special tax status for credit unions. Don't feel awkward if this is the first you've heard of it. The event is not mainstream news, but will impact communities across the province. Credit unions employ, loan and give locally; distribute profits to their customers/members, and sometimes alone provide financial services to our smaller towns. They achieve all those virtues in the face of competition from a Canadian banking industry that is among the most concentrated in the world. It may be asking too much to put this issue front of mind when you go to vote in May 2017, but I believe the continued prosperity of our credit unions deserves your full attention.

Trump's Casino Broke a Big Promise to Give Millions to Charity

In 1993, Donald Trump wanted to open a riverboat casino about 40 miles from Chicago in the troubled and violent city of Gary, Indiana. But he had a problem: Gary wasn't keen on him. City officials were skeptical of Trump's vow to invest in the city. After all, Trump's Atlantic City casino empire, $1.5 billion in debt, was on the brink of bankruptcy. They recommended that the state grant Gary's two riverboat gambling licenses to other companies.

Hundreds arrested amid new protests as details of Dallas gunman's plans emerge

Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested in cities across the US this weekend, as protests against police shootings intensified and new details emerged about the motivations and plans of a man who killed five officers in Dallas.

Police detained 125 people on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where protests continued to grow over the fatal shooting by officers last week of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old African American, as he was pinned down during a struggle.

Postal workers are fighting a war they can't win

Be careful what you wish for.

Canada Post’s 50,000 unionized workers probably were cheering last October when Justin Trudeau’s Liberals swept into power, replacing the despised Harper government. After all, the Liberals had promised in their electoral platform to “save home delivery”, along with the thousands of mail-carrier and other unionized positions threatened with redundancy after the 2013 decision to phase out door-to-door mail service.

Postal workers decline binding arbitration, file complaint against Canada Post

Canada Post is extending its lockout deadline to Monday.

The Crown Corporation issued a statement last night announcing that its previous 72-hour deadline, originally set to expire tomorrow, would now last through the weekend.

Earlier in the day, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) announced it had filed a complaint with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) over the corporation's behaviour during negotiations. The complaint alleges Canada Post has been communicating directly with members, making threats and bargaining through the media.