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, August 04, 2017

Obamacare Is Alive Because It Has Made Life Better For Millions

The Affordable Care Act has survived yet another effort to snuff it out. And one reason is a simple reality that Republicans have rarely been willing to admit ― to their supporters, to the general public, and perhaps even to themselves.

It turns out “Obamacare” has made life better for a great many people.

Millions of Americans now have health insurance because the law has put it within financial reach. They are enrolling in Medicaid, or buying private insurance with the help of tax credits ― and taking advantage of laws that prohibit insurers from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Millions more have insurance that is cheaper, better, or more comprehensive than what they could get before. They are more financially secure, they have better access to care, and they are probably getting healthier, too.

One Taxi Driver’s Story of Trying to Survive in the Age of Uber

It’s 4 p.m. and Nnamdi Uwazie has taken in only $122, which means he has another five hours to drive to just cover his daily costs. Another 15-hour day in the cab and maybe nothing for him.

But this is how life has been lately for the 53-year-old taxi driver.

Since Uber and other ride-share businesses have crowded Chicago’s streets, his customers have become ghosts, and a livelihood that once sustained his family of five has virtually disappeared.

Bernie Sanders On the Right-Wing Ideology That Rules Our Economy

For over 40 years, In These Times has published incisive reporting and analysis on one of the defining issues of our time: the crisis of inequality. Our new book, The Age of Inequality: Corporate America’s War on Working People, brings together In These Times’ best writing on the topic from leading thinkers and journalists. In this selection, originally published in 2009, Bernie Sanders writes about the intellectual failures, and simultaneous political success, of the “Chicago School’s” greatest avatar, Milton Friedman.

“The Failed Prophet” (2009)

The late Milton Friedman was a provocative teacher at my alma mater, the University of Chicago. He got his students involved with their studies. He was a gifted writer and communicator. And he received a Nobel Prize for his contributions to economics.

Trump whines about filibuster rule after Obamacare repeal goes down in flames

President Donald Trump complained about Senate rules after the Obamacare repeal failed to pass hours earlier.

The measure failed 49-51 after three Republican senators — Susan Collins, John McCain and Lisa Murkowski — broke with their party, and Trump called for an end to the filibuster rule to pass it later.

“If Republicans are going to pass great future legislation in the Senate, they must immediately go to a 51 vote majority, not senseless 60,” Trump tweeted shortly before 10 a.m.

“Even though parts of healthcare could pass at 51, some really good things need 60. So many great future bills & budgets need 60 votes,” he added a few minutes later.

Original Article
Author: Travis Gettys

Generals Love Him. Top Democrats Despise Him. Can He Be President Anyway?

On the morning of November 9, five hours after Hillary Clinton conceded, Seth Moulton’s closest political adviser called him with a suggestion.

“You should run for president in 2020,” Scott Ferson told the 38-year-old, second-term congressman from the North Shore of Massachusetts—one of the least liberal areas of the famously liberal state.

“That’s ridiculous,” Moulton said.

Ridiculous? “Donald Trump was just elected president,” Ferson said.

“Fair point,” Moulton said.

Facebook reportedly found evidence of Russian spying on French elections

Just months after Emmanuel Macron was elected France’s president, evidence has surfaced of Russian tampering in his campaign, according to a Reuters report.

Facebook told U.S. officials that Russian intelligence agents used fake Facebook accounts and personas to infiltrate Macron’s campaign and others close to him during the election. But their efforts were apparently fruitless. Reuters reported that Facebook did not believe the accounts were able to get targets to download malware or share login information.

This Small Regulation Shows Us How the Economy Could Work for Everybody

We recently marked the seventh anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, President Obama’s response to the 2008 financial crisis. President Trump and the Republicans are hard at work trying to undermine it, but there is one interesting element they’re having trouble weakening: credit-card reform. It’s a small part of the act, but an important one to understand, because it can serve as a model for fixing some of the more abusive parts of our economy.

She was a historic first lady, but Michelle Obama says some never saw past ‘my skin color’

The moderator lauded Michelle Obama for her achievements over the past eight years and touched on the former first lady’s plans, but Tuesday’s conversation also veered into uncomfortable territory.

It was Obama’s largest public appearance since the 2016 election — speaking in front of more than 8,000 people at the Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s 30th anniversary celebration — and she touched on personal attacks that she faced again and again. Many had the same theme.

Philippines’ Duterte Threatens To Bomb Indigenous Schools

Human rights groups are calling on Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to retract his threat this week to bomb indigenous-run schools because he fears they are turning students against the government.

“I will use the armed forces, the Philippine Air Force. I’ll really have those [schools] bombed … because you are operating illegally and you are teaching the children to rebel against government,” Duterte said in a press conference after his second State of the Nation address on Monday.

Protecting Superfunds: The Polluter Must Pay

It has been almost 40 years since the nation heard the cries for help from Love Canal, where a school and neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York, was built on a toxic dump filled with 21,000 tons of chemical waste. Children were sick, parents were scared and families lost their homes.

I know, because my children, my family and my home were among them.

10 Ways the Military Gobbles Up Your Tax Dollars to Pay for Multiple Wars

You wouldn’t know it, based on the endless cries for more money coming from the military, politicians, and the president, but these are the best of times for the Pentagon.  Spending on the Department of Defense alone is already well in excess of half a trillion dollars a year and counting.  Adjusted for inflation, that means it’s higher than at the height of President Ronald Reagan’s massive buildup of the 1980s and is now nearing the post-World War II funding peak.  And yet that’s barely half the story.  There are hundreds of billions of dollars in “defense” spending that aren’t even counted in the Pentagon budget.

Jury Sentences Man to 137 Years in Jail for Stealing Tires

In America, one can fatally shoot an unarmed black teenager without fear of repercussion, but steal expensive property and risk a century behind bars.

Proving once again how little black lives matter compared to pricey inanimate objects, a Virginia jury has sentenced Jason Brooks to 137 years for repeatedly stealing tires and rims over the past year. Brooks, who was tried in Loudoun County, reportedly faces similar charges in Maryland and New Jersey.

Democrats Are Finally Waking Up

Congressional Democrats rolled out an economic agenda for the 2018 elections this week, and despite its bland title, “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future,” the agenda reflects the growing strength and influence of the populist movement inside the Democratic Party.

Meanwhile, Our Revolution, the group that grew out of Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, along with the National Nurses Union, Fight for 15, People’s Action, and others launched the “Summer for Progress,” an activist push to get at least half of the Democratic House caucus to endorse the “People’s Platform,” another stab at an economic agenda for Democrats. The contrast between the two documents reveals the both the scope and the limits of the new Democratic consensus.

Seventy Top Health Care CEOs Raked in $9.8 Billion Since 2010

While the Senate GOP's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been denounced as potentially devastating to the poor, the sick, women, people of color, children, and those with pre-existing conditions, a new analysis published Monday finds that no matter what happens, the CEOs of large healthcare companies are likely to continue living lavishly.

Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, the "CEOs of 70 of the largest U.S. healthcare companies cumulatively have earned $9.8 billion," according to a report by Axios's Bob Herman.

Skyrocketing Rents in California Signal a Broader US Housing Crisis

In California and across the country, housing is growing increasingly expensive. Since California's housing crisis is the most acute, the fight for rent control is heating up across the state. But social housing systems in places like Singapore and Vienna, along with community land trusts provide different solutions for expensive housing.

Three of the country's most expensive cities are located in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of July, median rent for a one-bedroom in San Francisco is $3,450/month, according to Zumper. Median rent for a one-bedroom in Oakland is $2,100/month, while San Jose's median rent is $2,390/month. As usual, San Francisco remains the most expensive city in the country. San Jose is third most expensive and Oakland is sixth. Concord's median rent is $1,620/month, which is a 5 percent increase from last year. In Los Angeles, median rent for a one-bedroom is $2,100/month.

Loblaws Warns Minimum Wage Hikes Will Eat Into Its Profits

TORONTO — Loblaw Companies Ltd., Canada's largest grocery and drug store operator, warned Wednesday that minimum wage increases in Ontario and Alberta threaten to harm its bottom line and it will have to find ways to cut costs.

The company, which owns Shoppers Drug Mart and grocery chains including Loblaws and No Frills, estimates that the wage hikes will mean its labour expenses will balloon by about $190 million next year.

Why the Anti-War Left Should Attack Putin, Too

The investigation into Russia’s interference in last year’s election is causing a slow-motion meltdown in President Donald Trump’s White House and making life increasingly uncomfortable for elected Republicans. But the issue is also causing problems, albeit less existential ones, on the political left.

As Peter Beinart notes in The Atlantic, some anti-war leftists fear that the Russia scandal will push the Democratic Party toward a more hawkish foreign policy, so they’re trying to “minimize Russia’s election meddling to oppose what they see as a new Cold War. It’s a genuinely principled position. The problem is that principles are blinding them to facts.” Beinart cites writers Max Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald, but he also could have named linguist Noam Chomsky, filmmaker Oliver Stone, and scholar Stephen Cohen. In a recent interview, Chomsky derided the Democrats for attacking Trump’s attempts to improve ties with Russia, saying, “It’s one of the few decent things Trump has been doing. So maybe members of his transition team contacted the Russians. Is that a bad thing?”