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, September 19, 2012

Matt Taibbi: Mitt Romney's 'Insane' Comments Reveal Delusions Of The Super Rich

Matt Taibbi says that Mitt Romney's recently leaked remarks about low-income Americans were "insane."

"I think he really genuinely believes that the only reason that his particular message isn't resonating is that people want something for free and he's not offering it to them," Taibbi, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday. "It's crazy."

In a video leaked on Monday, Romney is seen at a May fundraiser saying that 47 percent of Americans "will vote for the president no matter what," "are dependent upon government," and "pay no income tax." These claims are largely inaccurate.

Mask Ban Bill Nears Final Stage In House Of Commons

A bill that would make it illegal to wear a mask during a violent demonstration is nearing its final hurdle in the House of Commons, with just two hours of debate left.

Bill C-309 would make it a crime for people rioting or at an unlawful protest to conceal their identities. It's already illegal to wear a disguise when committing an indictable, or more serious, offence, which includes rioting. Unlawful protests, however, don't fall under that law because they're classified as a summary conviction, or less serious, offence.

Gregor Robertson: Kitsilano Coast Guard Closure Will Put Lives At Risk

VANCOUVER - City councillors in Vancouver want to discuss the closure of a local coast guard station with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

They passed a motion on Tuesday, calling for talks with the prime minister, while asking the city's fire department and police to join the battle to keep the Kitsilano coast guard station open.

Lloyd Blankfein: Austerity The Wrong Move For U.S. Right Now, Goldman Sachs CEO Tells Toronto Crowd

TORONTO - Austerity measures are not the best path right now for the United States, the head of U.S. financial giant Goldman Sachs Group Inc said Wednesday.

"You can't austere yourself into a higher GDP," Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein told a business crowd in Toronto.

Declining visibility in the Canadian Forces

OTTAWA — Despite fighting in two recent wars and providing emergency assistance in Canada and abroad, a recent survey commissioned by the Defence Department suggests Canadians know less about their military than at any time since 2008.

And for the first time in four years, a larger proportion of Canadians feel the military’s priority should be domestic operations, such as responding to natural disasters instead of deploying overseas.

Follow the money: The growth of private health care in Canada

Health care reform has been on the agenda of every level of government in the country for the past two decades, not to mention every health and academic institution and think tank. Citizens have been bombarded with messages that the public system is not sustainable without “meaningful” system change. A common theme heard from elected officials is how hard it is to push change, there is just so much public resistance.

However, profound change is happening. It just isn't the subject of debate in provincial, territorial or federal legislatures. There is no discussion about whether these changes are good or bad, will improve our overall health, what the evidence says about the direction we're moving in or what the impact will be on what Canadians refer to as "the five principles of medicare": universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility, portability, public administration.

Extremist hate, 'respectable' bigotry and the endemic exploitation of migrant workers in Canada

Immigration is a big priority area for the current Conservative government, almost as much as it was for Laurier's government in the heyday of westward expansion. And Harper's Clifford Sifton might just be Jason Kenney.

Sifton was Laurier's Interior Minister and he worked hard to populate the West with settlers from Great Britain and the United States and with stolid and solid peasants from the Ukrainian and Russian steppes. He was less enthusiastic about "undesirables" such as Jews and blacks.

OECD praises the end of Wheat Board monopoly

The federal government has won praise from the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development for dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly over the sale of wheat and barley grown in Western Canada.

The controversial decision to effectively eliminate the Wheat Board “is a positive step to enhance proactive risk management by farmers,” the OECD said in a report on global agriculture policy released Wednesday.

Ontario environmental watchdog Gord Miller says ministries hiding from public scrutiny

The Ministry of Natural Resources is flouting the public’s right to comment on government decisions that affect the environment,

That’s the assessment from Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller, who singled out the MNR as a “chronic offender” for repeatedly refusing to post proposals and decisions on the web, as required by Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, legislation passed in 1993.

The Lie Factory -- How politics became a business

“I, Governor of California, and How I Ended Poverty,” by Upton Sinclair, is probably the most thrilling piece of campaign literature ever written. Instead of the usual flummery, Sinclair, the author of forty-seven books, including, most famously, “The Jungle,” wrote a work of fiction. “I, Governor of California,” published in 1933, announced Sinclair’s gubernatorial bid in the form of a history of the future, in which Sinclair is elected governor in 1934, and by 1938 has eradicated poverty. “So far as I know,” the author remarked, “this is the first time an historian has set out to make his history true.”

The Roots of Romney’s Remarks

During the 1976 Republican Presidential primary, Ronald Reagan began telling an anecdote about a Chicago woman who had defrauded the welfare system by creating eighty aliases in order to collect a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year in benefits. Newspapers reported that the woman, Linda Taylor, had used four aliases and collected about eight thousand dollars, but the legend of the “welfare queen” proved immune to fact-checking. The term emerged at a point when incendiary racial views were common, but the still recent national tumult over civil rights had changed the way those views could be expressed. “Welfare queen” heralded an era in which bigoted views could be euphemized, encoded, and then publicly pronounced thanks to their new patina of plausible deniability. Beyond this, it became a kind of shorthand for big government, a signifier that helped make the words “welfare state” a term of derision.

Mitt Romney’s Resentment

“My question is, why don’t you stick up for yourself?” a man who had paid fifty thousand dollars to attend a dinner with Mitt Romney asked. “To me, you should be so proud that you’re wealthy.” That remark was recorded in a video of the dinner, at a hedge-fund manager’s home in Boca Raton, which was released by Mother Jones. In it, Romney complains that just under half of all Americans had come to see themselves as “victims,” when they were actually, as he sees it, entitled and demanding dependents. But there is a character who he and everyone else in the room seem to agree most certainly is a true victim: Mitt Romney, martyr to the envy of the masses.

Canada’s Totalitarian Shift

Naomi Wolf’s The End Of America, Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot might just as well be named The End of Canada, since the Government of Canada, now re-branded the “Harper Government”, is following many of the steps that governments follow (in varying degrees) to transition away from democracy and into the murky world of totalitarianism.

These, then, are the ignoble steps that Harper’s Canada is embracing to suppress the flames of liberty:

Oil pipelines, tankers ‘most pressing’ issue in B.C.: poll

OTTAWA — The possibility of more crude oil pipelines and oil tankers in B.C. ranks second only to the economy as the most important issue facing the province, according to a new poll of British Columbians living near a proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion route.

The telephone survey last month by the polling firm Strategic Communications involved 600 respondents in 19 of B.C.’s 36 ridings representing about 60 per cent of the population.

Judge declares plank of 2008 Tory omnibus crime bill unconstitutional

TORONTO - An Ontario court has declared another plank of the Conservative government's tough-on-crime agenda unconstitutional.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Alan Bryant struck down a section of the Criminal Code introduced in 2008 dealing with dangerous offenders in a decision published Tuesday.

The ruling comes in a year during which judges in Ontario have already struck down two mandatory minimum firearm penalties from the same "Tackling Violent Crime" omnibus law.

Large security deposit for robocalls election challenges “unjust,” lawyer argues

OTTAWA — The federal court could rule as soon as Friday on a motion that would require voters to pay a $250,000 security deposit to continue their legal challenge of the results in seven ridings from the 2011 federal election as a result of fraudulent political calls.

Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton argued in favour of the motion in Federal Court in Ottawa on Tuesday, saying the court must impose the financial surety on the applicants because the law is “open to serious abuse in the hands of the wrong elector, or candidate or proxy group, such as the Council of Canadians.”

Council of Canadians lawyer Steven Shrybman, who represents the applicants, says a Conservative attempt to force his clients to pay $250,000 would be a “crushing financial burden” and contrary to the public interest in seeing elections are conducted fairly.

Carney on commodities: ‘wrong conclusions … could do a lot of damage’

Mark Carney doesn’t think Canada has any control over the resource boom.

The 47-year-old governor of the Bank of Canada, sitting beneath the portraits of his predecessors in the bank’s stately Graham Towers boardroom, says that as China and other emerging economies have fuelled a sustained rush for resources, sometimes called a commodities supercycle, they have redrawn the fortunes of developed countries like Canada.

Quebec can forget about assuming control over telecom: Paradis

Pauline Marois’ Parti Quebecois government can forget about plans to assume control over areas like telecommunications, says federal Industry Minister Christian Paradis.

“We don’t have a mandate to dismantle the federation and we’re not going to do it,” Paradis told reporters on his way out of Question Period.

Nor is there any question of transferring control of part of the employment insurance system to Quebec, he added.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis: Deal Ending Strike a Victory for Education

Chicago public school teachers are returning to the classroom today nine days after launching their first strike in a quarter century. On Tuesday, 800 delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union voted overwhelmingly to suspend the strike to put an agreement with the city before the entire membership. The deal calls for a double-digit salary increase over the next three years, including raises for cost of living, while maintaining other increases for experience and advanced education. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis joins us to talk about the strike, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and what this means for education reform across the country. "We’ve been micromanaged into doing things that we know are harmful for children," Lewis says.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Conservatives sentence Tom Mulcair to death by talking point

OTTAWA—The Conservatives have apparently sentenced Tom Mulcair to death by talking point.

As a means of dragging him to the political gallows, the talking points can be absurd or disingenuous, but they must be ubiquitous.

The opposition leader and his caucus have, in the past months, been called “job killers’’ in the country and, in a golden oldie trotted out Tuesday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, subversives who have headed south of the border to undermine the Canadian economy.

Mayor Rob Ford out of town, but aide and city car appear at football practice

Despite the ongoing firestorm over Mayor Rob Ford’s alleged misuse of city resources, one of his special assistants arrived at a Don Bosco football practice Tuesday afternoon in a car registered to the City of Toronto.

Staffer Chris Fickel’s participation in practice contradicts the only explanation so far given by Ford’s office as to why his political aides are involved in his football programs — that staff members accompany the mayor “in order to assist him in his official duties.”

Pollster considers law society complaint over Tory affidavit

OTTAWA — Pollster Frank Graves says he is considering a complaint to the law society over a Conservative Party lawyer’s charge that he is a Liberal partisan whose evidence should not be relied upon.

The Conservatives last week filed a motion that accuses Graves of “clear bias” against them and asks the Federal Court of Canada to toss out an affidavit he filed in a series of court challenges of the 2011 election results.

Graves had been asked by the Council of Canadians, which is backing the court applications, to study the effect of pre-recorded “robocalls” and live calls on the voter turnout in seven ridings at issue in the case. His affidavit is a key piece of evidence in the cases.

Federal Tories And NDP Tied For Support, Nanos Poll Says

The federal Conservatives and the New Democrats are neck-and-neck in terms of overall support from Canadians, a new poll finds, despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper's personal brand getting a boost from undecided voters.

As MPs return to Ottawa for the fall sitting of Parliament, the Nanos Research survey also shows that more Canadians are listing jobs and the economy — a Conservative plank — as their top concern.

Opposition to Trans Mountain pipeline nearing Northern Gateway levels

Once a little-known factor in plans to carry oil to Canada’s West Coast, expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline now faces a level of public opposition almost as high as Enbridge Inc.’s controversial Northern Gateway project.

A new poll finds that 60.3 per cent of British Columbians surveyed are against Gateway, while 49.9 per cent oppose the twinning of the Trans Mountain system, a half-century-old pipe that already carries substantial volumes of Alberta oil to Burnaby, B.C.