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, January 05, 2017

Paul Ryan Says the GOP Will Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood

During a news conference on Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the process to dismantle Obamacare will include stripping all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, but he did not provide much further detail.

His remarks come two days after a Republican-led House investigative panel released a report that recommended the health care provider be defunded. The investigative panel—created to examine allegations that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for profit—was then disbanded, because it was not reauthorized for a new Congress. Planned Parenthood was never found guilty of any wrongdoing at the state or federal level, despite multiple GOP-led investigations.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Introduces Anti-LGBTQ Bathroom Bill

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas Republican state senator introduced legislation on Thursday to limit public restroom access for transgender people, despite warnings from a business group that the measure would hurt the Texas economy because it was discriminatory.

The “Texas Privacy Act” has been marked as a top legislative priority for Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Republican and conservative Christian who guides the legislative agenda in the Republican-controlled state Senate. He said the measure protected the privacy and safety of Texans.

Trump and the Flawed Nature of US Democracy: An Interview With Noam Chomsky

Trump's presidential victory exposed to the whole world the flawed nature of the US model of democracy. Beginning January 20, both the country and the world will have to face a political leader with copious conflicts of interest who considers his unpredictable and destructive style to be a leadership asset. In this exclusive interview for Truthout, world-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky sheds light on the type of democratic model the US has designed and elaborates on the political import of Trump's victory for the two major parties, as this new political era begins.

Man told to take citizenship test despite living entire life in UK

A man born in London to German parents has been told he cannot get a British passport unless he takes a UK citizenship test because he cannot prove his mother was legally in the country when she gave birth.

Dom Wolf, 32, said he felt betrayed by the country in which he was born and has written to Theresa May in the hope she can intervene.

Paul Ryan pledges GOP’s first legislative action will defund Planned Parenthood

With majorities in Congress and the impending inauguration of Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers are wasting no time pursuing policy goals that threaten to imperil millions of Americans’ access to health care.

This week, GOP leaders moved forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare through a process called budget reconciliation, which will allow them to avoid a filibuster from their Democratic colleagues. Through this budget process, Republicans are asking House and Senate committees to produce legislation by January 27 that includes dismantling key parts of Obamacare.

House Republicans revive obscure rule that allows them to slash the pay of individual federal workers to $1

House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to a $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service.

The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program.

It was the racism, stupid: White working-class “economic anxiety” is a zombie idea that needs to die

On Jan. 20, Donald Trump will become president of the United States of America. Donald Trump is an authoritarian and demagogue who meets the definition of a fascist, as I have argued on multiple previous occasions. His election and the 60 million voters who supported him are a threat to American democracy.

How did this happen?

The first draft of this history is being written now. In the years and decades to come, we will have the benefit of hindsight, as well as more information and context, to make better sense of Donald Trump’s victory on Election Day 2016 and its implications for American democracy and global politics.

Levant faces libel claim for comparing activists to Nazis

A Montreal-based activist group filed a libel action against right wing activist Ezra Levant on Dec. 22, the same day that he lost his appeal against another libel judgment.

In the latest lawsuit, filed in Ontario Superior Court in Ottawa, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) allege that Levant defamed them by comparing them to Nazis and calling them “Jew-baiters.”

Chuck Schumer Answers Donald Trump’s ‘Clown’ Gibe

WASHINGTON ― If President-elect Donald Trump wants to call Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) a “clown,” he can expect an answer from his famously loquacious fellow New Yorker.

And Schumer was all too happy to offer one on Thursday when reporters asked about it at a news conference on Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services.

Did Putin Direct Russian Hacking? And Other Big Questions Did Moscow influence the U.S. election? Who else has been hacked? Could the CIA be wrong? Gary Cameron / Reuters

Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Thursday: “Every American should be alarmed by Russia’s attacks on our nation.” The remarks were made in his opening statement at a hearing on foreign cyberthreats to the U.S. in which senior U.S. intelligence officials testified about the role Russia played in the U.S. election. (Our blog of the hearing is here)

Julian Assange Shaping Up To Be Next Conservative Hero

There's always a certain level of hypocrisy in politics. When you're in the majority, the filibuster is an obstructive, anti-democratic abomination. When you're in the minority, it's an important bulwark against mob rule.

But have we ever seen anything like the recent lovefest among conservatives for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange? "Julian, I apologize," cooed Sarah Palin. Sean Hannity poses the question of the day: "Who do you believe? Julian Assange or President Obama and Hillary Clinton." Donald Trump approvingly passed along Assange's contention that "a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta"1 and then asked, "why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!"

So far, this sudden outpouring of affection for Assange hasn't gone beyond the inner circle of Trump sycophants. But it might not be long before it does. If a third of Republicans can decide they think Vladimir Putin is a great guy as long as he's anti-Clinton, why not Julian Assange too?

1Just for the record: yes, a 14-year-old could have hacked Podesta. But in fact, a 14-year-old didn't hack Podesta. Here's the story.

Original Article

U.S. To Transfer 4 Guantanamo Bay Detainees To Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The United States will transfer four detainees to Saudi Arabia from the Guantanamo Bay military prison in the next 24 hours, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, in President Barack Obama’s final push to shrink the inmate population there despite pressure from the president-elect to halt such releases.

It will be the first in Obama’s final flurry of transfers aimed at sending as many as 19 prisoners to at least four countries, including Italy, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, before Donald Trump is sworn in on Jan. 20.

One of the biggest legal guns in the country is coming for partisan gerrymandering

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the fate of the American Republic rests on how Justice Anthony Kennedy votes in Gill v. Whitford, a gerrymandering case that is all but certain to be heard by the Supreme Court. And now, that case is set to be argued by the single most qualified lawyer in the country to present such a case to the justices.

Last November, a three-judge federal court struck down Wisconsin’s state assembly maps, saying they were unconstitutionally drawn to advantage Republicans. That alone is a big deal. The Supreme Court has been highly skeptical of gerrymandering suits in the past. Though Kennedy refused to slam the door entirely shut to such suits, many obstacles remain in front of any attorney who seeks a federal court order against a gerrymandered map.

Donald Trump’s Alarmingly Trumpian Transition

With the House Republicans reversing themselves (temporarily, perhaps) on gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics, and Megyn Kelly jumping from Fox News to NBC News, the 2017 political-news cycle began with a bang on Tuesday. But there was no getting away from the story that overwhelms all others: in sixteen days, Donald Trump will become the forty-fifth President of the United States. Outside the Trump family and the alt-right, is there anyone who didn’t shudder a little as the ball dropped in Times Square on Saturday night?

The Republican Party’s Corruption Will Bring Them Down—Again

There’s nothing more consistent in national politics than the clockwork-like inconsistency of Republican budget deficit alarmism: They scream about the deficit when a Democrat occupies the White House, and go quiet when a Republican does.

After inheriting surpluses from President Bill Clinton in 2001, the GOP spent eight years not paying for new spending (on wars and a prescription drug benefit for seniors) while reducing taxes dramatically and in regressive fashion. When Republicans’ disastrous regime culminated in a crippling financial crisis, the structural deficits they had created mushroomed into the trillion-dollar-a-year range, after which they handed control of the government to Democrats and magically rediscovered the virtues of miserliness.

The Battle for Obamacare Begins Anew

After six years of legislative dry runs, the battle over repealing the Affordable Care Act is suddenly getting very real.

Republicans in the Senate on Wednesday voted to formally set in motion a complicated, multistep process that—they hope—will result in President Donald Trump signing a law in his first weeks in office that would scrap the key parts of President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. On both sides of the Capitol, the parties began mobilizing for what will likely be the first pitched policy fight of the Trump presidency.

With One Bill, Republicans Fast Track Plan To Undo Obama Regulations

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday giving Congress the power to kill dozens of recently enacted rules in one fell swoop, as Republicans charged ahead on their campaign to strip down federal regulations.

It was the second time the Republican-dominated chamber took up legislation blocking “midnight rules,” those rolled out at the close of a president’s term. But the previous bill, introduced in November, had faced a certain veto from President Barack Obama, a Democrat.