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, March 27, 2013

Canada pulling out of UN convention on desertification

OTTAWA -- The Harper government is pulling out of a United Nations convention that fights droughts in Africa and elsewhere, which would make Canada the only country in the world outside the agreement.

The federal cabinet last week ordered the unannounced withdrawal on the recommendation of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, ahead of a major scientific meeting on the convention next month in Germany.

Harper's theological crossroads

Right from when it was first proposed during the May 2011 federal election, the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF?) was met with the accusation that it was an attempt to pander to its base, concerns that it would overstep the boundary of what Canada should be doing in foreign nations, and skepticism that it could be instituted in any kind of way that would be fair and balanced for all religions.  As it turns out, it's becoming not very popular among Evangelicals, either.

One of the clearest examples of late is RoadKill Radio's interview with Jim Hnatiuk, who is the leader of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada.  Hnatiuk, of course, has a vested interest in dissuading far-right conservative voters from supporting Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party, but what's noteworthy is the particular aplomb with which RKR commentators lead the discussion, and continue what appears to be an ongoing conversation among dominionist-leaning (those who seek to legislate their morality) Evangelicals.  (Incidentally, the RKR commentators also indicate their support for Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill in that same webcast)

Progressives will cooperate because that’s what Canadians want

When news broke that a by-election was imminent in Labrador following the resignation of Peter Penashue – the disgraced Conservative MP who stepped down following news about his election financing irregularities – I called Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and asked her to consider having the Green Party EDA not run a candidate in the upcoming by-election. In light of Penashue’s election by a mere 79 votes in 2011, it seemed imperative to consult the local riding associations in question, to see if they felt collaboration was appropriate. The result is that the Green Party announced it will not run a candidate in the Labrador by-election. They even asked the NDP to consider doing the same.

Spamhaus Hit With 'Largest Publicly Announced DDoS Attack' Ever, Affecting Internet Users Worldwide

LONDON (AP) -- An Internet watchdog group responsible for keeping ads for counterfeit Viagra and bogus weight-loss pills out of inboxes around the world has been hit by a huge cyberattack, a crushing electronic onslaught that one expert said had already had ripple effects across the Web.

Spam-fighting organization Spamhaus said Wednesday that it had been buffeted by a massive denial-of-service attack since mid-March, apparently from groups angry at being blacklisted by the Geneva-based group.

Tory MP’s former assistant guilty of criminal harassment

OTTAWA — Bad things happen to ex-girlfriends of Cody Boast: floods of text messages, demands, confrontations, and sometimes naked pictures on Facebook.

Boast, a former assistant to Conservative MP Wai Young of Vancouver, has pleaded guilty to a variety of charges involving two ex-girlfriends, including criminal harassment. Young’s office staff refused to answer any questions about when he worked there, but say he has left.

It’s a long fall for the athletic young University of Ottawa student who attended a barbecue with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge because of his service helping visually impaired runners.

Why Bradley Manning should win the Nobel Peace Prize

Whistleblower Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and he should receive it.

No individual has done more to push back against what Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism" than Bradley Manning. The United States is the leading exporter of weapons and itself spends as much preparing for more wars as the rest of the world combined. Manning is the leading actor in opposition to U.S. warmaking, and therefore militarism around the world. What he has done has hurt the cause of violence in a number of other nations as well.

And right now, remaining in prison and facing relentless prosecution by the U.S. government, Manning is in need of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Barrick Gold CEO gets called out at Toronto mining convention

Once a year, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) throws the world's largest mining convention in downtown Toronto. This year, the convention featured a track on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that was open to the public. The final session of this track was a CEO panel featuring Jamie Sokalsky, the CEO of Barrick Gold.

While Sokalsky tried to present Barrick's CSR program as more than just window dressing, I got ahold of the mic to draw attention to the very real and on-going human rights abuses at two of Barrick's mine sites, first in North Mara, Tanzania and then in Porgera, Papua New Guinea. Unfazed by the fact that they turned off my mic, I raised my voice to speak louder about the scale of the devastation in Papua New Guinea. Finally, the security escorted me out as I handed out footnoted fact sheets to the audience at the forum.

FACT SHEET: This is the text of the fact sheet I distributed at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto on May 5, 2013. It is just the tip of the iceberg regarding Barrick's abuses, but enough points to prove a point that Barrick does not promote sustainable development at their mine sites. The fact sheet also debunks the myth that self-reporting can replace regulation and independent monitoring of mining activity.

camera: Zach Ruiter
director: Sakura Saunders
editors: Zach Ruiter and Sakura Saunders

Original Article
Author: Sakura Saunders

Gas prices spike at fastest pace since May 2008

Much higher gasoline prices pushed Canada's annual inflation rate up to 1.2 per cent in February, a sharp rise from the previous month's level but still well within policymakers' acceptable range.

Consumer prices increased by 1.2 per cent in the year that ended in February, more than double the annual rate of 0.5 per cent in January, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

Gaza's Ark: Trade, not aid

"An ark is literally a large floating vessel designed to keep its passengers and cargo safe," say the group preparing 'Gaza's Ark'. But their ark, they say, is "a vessel that embodies hope that the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip can soon live in peace without the threat of the Israeli blockade."

An initiative by Palestinians in Gaza and international solidarity activists, Gaza's Ark entails "purchasing a run-down boat from a local fishing family," says Michael Coleman, a member of Free Gaza Australia and on the Gaza's Ark steering committee.

Growing number of tax-exempt workers alarms Fraser Institute

As this year’s April 30 tax deadline approaches, Canadians may be surprised to learn nearly 40 per cent of us pay no federal income tax.

The Vancouver-based Fraser Institute, normally a proponent of lower taxes, is sounding an alarm about the growing ranks of those in North America who have become tax-exempt.

“Democracy can’t function properly when a sizable majority of tax filers are exempt from the cost of their decisions because they pay little or no direct taxes,” warns Jason Clemens, the institute’s executive vice-president.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s pattern of behaviour tells a troubling story

In evaluating the latest allegations concerning their mayor, Torontonians face a stark choice — either Rob Ford has a serious impairment that is damaging his job performance, or he’s a victim of a relentless campaign of public deception.

There’s no middle ground. It’s either one or the other. And Ford is specific in assigning blame. “It’s just lies after lies and lies,” he said on Tuesday, with the perpetrator being this newspaper . “It’s the Toronto Star going after me again, and again, and again.”

Harper's Tories either clueless or tactless

MONTREAL — The Harper government just doesn’t get Quebec — never has and never will.

The Conservatives are tone deaf in this province. Either they have no idea what resonates with Quebecers or they just don’t care if their policies wind up offending people here.

The decision to abolish the federal gun registry was one example, the regime to treat young offenders was another. Both moves ran counter to public opinion in this province.

Harper: the end of classical federalism?

Although last week’s budget commentary had lots to say about job training, the most important angle to the story barely got aired. Something big is shifting below the new Job Grants Program and it sounds a lot like federal-provincial fault lines. Is this the beginning of the end for the Harper government’s commitment to “classical” federalism?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s view of classical federalism can be summed up simply: Good fences make for good neighbours. For example, last year, as Prime Minister Paul Martin’s health accord was reaching its term, everyone expected a round of tough intergovernmental negotiations.

Taxpayers paying more than $25 for every dollar politicians contribute to MP pensions

OTTAWA — Canadians continue to pay more to fund a “gold-plated” parliamentary pension plan that spending watchdogs say has taxpayers ultimately contributing more than $25 for every dollar from MPs.

The federal government announced last fall it is overhauling the parliamentary pension plan — including tripling MP contributions and increasing retirement age — after the next election.

Right-To-Work Laws: Canada Would See Income Inequality Rise Under Weakened Unions, Study Says

The passage of right-to-work legislation in this country would pose “the biggest blow” yet to Canadian unions after a years-long erosion of labour laws and would result in rising income inequality, a prominent labour rights group argues in a new paper.

The research report called “Unions Matter,” released Wednesday by the Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights, raises the alarm about what it sees as a growing interest in American-style right-to-work laws among Conservative politicians in Canada. It also catalogues 200 labour laws restricting collective bargaining and trade union rights which have been passed by federal and provincial governments since the 1980s.

Security Staff Barricade Chicago Board of Education in Anticipation of Mass Rally

Chicago officials announced last week that they plan to close 54 under-enrolled schools this year in the country's third largest district to help close a $1 billion budget deficit. It is the largest mass district closing of schools ever in the United States, and the announcement quickly inspired outrage among teachers, parents and activists.

A teacher I spoke to, who worked at one of the schools marked for closures, expressed concern that the "welcoming schools" students will be transferred to lack social and emotional support systems to aid the students' transition, and that some of the schools are far across gang territory, making the commute to the new schools more perilous than it already is in a city with infamous gun violence.

New Study Demands Zero-Tolerance for Military Sexual Assault

Female veterans who suffered a sexual assault in the military are nine times more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder compared to other female veterans, and military officials must do more to prevent these assaults—these are the conclusions of a gripping new government report on the hardships faced by troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wall Street Lobbyists Worried Sherrod Brown Could Become Banking Committee Chairman

WASHINGTON -- The departure of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has left a vacancy atop the powerful panel that could fall to one of Wall Street's most outspoken foes, a possibility that has bank lobbyists fretting.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), whose call to break up and cap the size of major banks has spooked Wall Street, is behind three senators who would have dibs on the gavel, but all three are likely to bypass the opportunity. A Brown chairmanship would also be a boost to his ally Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), strengthening her hand on the panel. Brown's office didn't immediately return a request for comment.

Samantha Cameron Speaks To Children Caught Up In Syria Civil War Violence

Innocent childhoods are being "smashed to pieces" by the civil war in Syria, Samantha Cameron said after visiting refugees fleeing the conflict.

The prime minister's wife said she was horrified by stories she heard from those caught up in the violence during her visit to Lebanon as an ambassador for Save the Children.

France's Front National Praises David Cameron For 'Smashing Taboo' On Immigration

The French far right has praised David Cameron for "smashing the taboo" over immigration, in dubious applause for the prime minister, who has been keen to stress he is not "lurching to the right."

France’s Front National congratulated Cameron after Monday's speech on immigration, in which announced arrivals from the European Union will be stripped of jobseekers benefits after six months unless they can prove they have been actively looking for a job and stand a "genuine chance" of finding one.

Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strike Worsens As Hopes For Prison's Closing Fade

First it was five or six. Then it was 14. Then 24, and now 25. Those are the number of Guantánamo Bay detainees on hunger strike that the Department of Defense has officially acknowledged over the course of the past month. Defense attorneys for the detainees say the real number of those on hunger strike is, shockingly, as high as 100. Eight of the hunger strikers are being force-fed through a tube, a process the United Nations has previously classified as torture. Two hunger strikers have been hospitalized for dehydration.

Wikileaks Was Just a Preview: We're Headed for an Even Bigger Showdown Over Secrets

I went yesterday to a screening of We Steal Secrets, Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney's brilliant new documentary about Wikileaks. The movie is beautiful and profound, an incredible story that's about many things all at once, including the incredible Shakespearean narrative that is the life of Julian Assange, a free-information radical who has become an uncompromising guarder of secrets.

I'll do a full review in a few months, when We Steal Secrets comes out, but I bring it up now because the whole issue of secrets and how we keep them is increasingly in the news, to the point where I think we're headed for a major confrontation between the government and the public over the issue, one bigger in scale than even the Wikileaks episode.

Matt Taibbi: JPMorgan Hearings Showed That 'We Have Absolutely No Idea What's Going On' At Banks

If there's been one positive result of the largest U.S. bank grappling with $6.2 billion in trading losses, perhaps it's everyone else learning how little we truly know about these massive institutions.

Matt Taibbi recently told Sam Seder's Majority Report that a Senate committee's recent grilling of former JPMorgan Chase executives over the London Whale scandal was a pivotal moment for those hoping to hold banks more accountable.

CIA director faces a quandary over clandestine service appointment

As John Brennan moved into the CIA director’s office this month, another high-level transition was taking place down the hall.

A week earlier, a woman had been placed in charge of the CIA’s clandestine service for the first time in the agency’s history. She is a veteran officer with broad support inside the agency. But she also helped run the CIA’s detention and interrogation program after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and signed off on the 2005 decision to destroy videotapes of prisoners being subjected to treatment critics have called torture.

Nishiyuu Walkers Meet With Justin Trudeau, Bernard Valcourt

A group of Cree youth who trekked 1,600 kilometers from Northern Quebec to Ottawa are making the rounds on Parliament Hill.

Last night, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt met with some of the young people who completed the trek for just over half an hour.

"He expressed a desire to engage youth in the key issues facing communities across the country. He also accepted an invite to their community this summer," the minister's spokesperson told the Canadian Press.

Government won’t limit itself to chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand’s recommendations for robocalls law

The minister of state for democratic reform will consider a long-awaited report from Elections Canada when he writes new legislation to control unethical political calls, but will also weigh other ideas.

Kate Davis, a spokeswoman for Tim Uppal, said in an email Tuesday that the government will not limit itself to the Elections Canada report.

Does selling off our resources make us an energy superpower?

Energy is on everyone’s minds these days. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is determined to make Canada an energy superpower, fuelled mostly by Alberta’s tar sands.

Meanwhile, Alberta Premier Alison Redford, elected to lead a province with a strong economy, now finds energy price fluctuations are reducing provincial revenues. Saskatchewan is booming from oil, gas and uranium revenues, and B.C. Premier Christy Clark plans to vastly expand exploitation of liquefied natural gas, which requires huge amounts of energy and involves the highly contentious practice of fracking.

'Excellence in commercialization'? Alberta university 'mandate letters' are dumb, but unlikely to mean much

There's really no need for Albertans concerned about higher education to get their knickers in a twist about the provincial governmen's "mandate letters" to post-secondary institutions or the premier and her deputy's maunderings about the state of political science and engineering education in this province.

Nothing much will come of these ambiguous notes, even if anyone can figure out exactly what their authors had in mind.

Building Democracy, One Young Voter at a Time

In many deeply-troubled developing nations, the sheer physical act of standing in a long line to cast an election ballot is seen as proof that democracy, despite its flaws, is worth fighting for.

In many wealthy and long-established democracies, on the other hand, it is well known that election turnouts have been in serious decline recently, particularly when it comes to young people in their 20s.

That is especially true in B.C. where, in the provincial election of 2009, only 34 per cent of voters in the age group between 20 and 24 years cast their vote, leaving a stunning two-thirds of that registered demographic without a voice.

BC Land Use Plans Hardwired for Failure

[Editor's note: British Columbia's economy is growing. Much of that growth rests on expanded resource industries. Yet our laws designed to protect the unparalleled beauty and richness of the B.C. environment have been weakened, both federally and provincially, over the past decade. Over the next few weeks, this Tyee special series, in cooperation with the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, will reveal what B.C.'s leading experts in environmental law say most needs to be fixed, and their specific suggestions for change. To read all their recommendations, download the free electronic publication "Maintaining Natural British Columbia for Our Children: Selected Law Reform Proposals." Today, we look at the need for land use planning.]

'The Shale Gale Is a Retirement Party'

Every day a government agency or industry group in North America still hails natural gas mined from deep shale rock formations as "the bridging fuel" that will power a brighter if not cleaner energy tomorrow. Cheap natural gas, goes the mantra, will solve our energy woes and build a new energy foundation.

The government of British Columbia, for example, dutifully salutes the ancient hydrocarbon as "a transition fuel to a low carbon global economy" that will government coffers.

Ottawa nixes former environment panel's data-sharing plan

The people who are winding down the controversial National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy say Environment Minister Peter Kent has nixed their plan to keep all their research public.

The government pulled funding from the roundtable a year ago, giving the advisory body until this Friday to shut down.

Acting chairman Robert Slater says the group had planned to hand over 25 years of research and analysis to think-tank Sustainable Prosperity to ensure it remained public.

Cyprus scrambles to stop capital flight: ‘They are taking our money’

NICOSIA, CYPRUS—The Cypriot government was still scrambling Tuesday to draw up rules to prevent investors from draining their accounts later this week when the banks are expected to open for the first time since March 15.

On Tuesday, more businesses and shops on this Mediterranean island were asking customers to pay by cash only. And thousands of students descended on Cyprus’s parliament to protest against the “troika” of international lenders, who are demanding a percentage of bank deposits in exchange for a $13-billion bailout to save the island nation’s economy from collapsing.

Clean Energy and Experimental Lakes

A few weeks ago I posted a video that outlined a plan by the Rocky Mountain Institute to reduce carbon emissions in the United States to near zero over the next 40 years. Many people don’t think that this is an important goal because they don’t believe that human activity is warming the planet; my goal is to show you why it’s in our best interest to do this even if it turned out that human activity is having no effect on the climate.

Bob Rae: Panda Costumes For MPs Might Get Harper's Attention

If backbench MPs want to get more attention from Stephen Harper they might want to take a page out of the panda playbook.

That's what interim Liberal leader Bob Rae suggested Tuesday after a group of backbench Conservative MPs staged a minor revolt over their lack of freedom to speak.

"We're dealing with a control freak government," Rae said. "Maybe if the members who are unhappy dressed up like pandas the prime minister would pay them some attention."

Liberal MPs criticize Hall Findlay’s lengthy attack on Murray’s cooperation proposal

PARLIAMENT HILL—Liberal MPs on Tuesday criticized Liberal leadership candidate Martha Hall Findlay for a lengthy attack against MP and leadership contender Joyce Murray’s central campaign plank calling for electoral cooperation among the opposition parties to defeat Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives in the next federal election.

Ms. Hall Findlay posted a 700-word criticism on her campaign website, and emailed it to reporters covering the leadership, calling Ms. Murray’s plan an undemocratic scheme that would guarantee the election of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair as prime minister, should it topple Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) and his Conservative government.

Target Canada ‘grand opening’ set for April 5

Target fans can mark their calendars for the grand opening of 24 new stores in Ontario, but they will have to stay tuned for any special deals or door prizes.

The April 5 event will be focused on distributing the company’s first flyer, said Target Canada president Tony Fisher in a speech Tuesday.

“That’s a big event for us, so we can continue to communicate that value message to our guests,” he said.

Ted Menzies challenges everyone to find a tax increase in the budget

“You know, there’s two schools in economics on this,” Mr. Harper once said, “One is that there are some good taxes and the other is that no taxes are good taxes. I’m in the latter category. I don’t believe any taxes are good taxes.”

“I give you my word: As long as I will be prime minister … there will be no new taxes,” Mr. Harper had said two years before that.

More on Canada's new counterfeiting bill: ACTA 'through the back door'?

This month, the Council of Canadians put out a media release on Harper's new anti-counterfeiting legislation (Bill C-56), asking why Canada would kowtow to the U.S. or EU on this issue considering how much global opposition there is to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Only one of the 11 countries to sign ACTA has ratified (Japan) and it was declared dead last summer when the European Parliament voted against it.

"Is Bill C-56 not simply a way to support ACTA through the back door?" asked NDP MP Charmaine Borg in the House of Commons on March 4. Industry Minister Christian Paradis replied that the legislation is necessary to keep Canadians safe from counterfeit goods crossing the border, and that the legislation needed modernizing. But is it necessary or is it excessive? Reports over the past weeks explain the proposed copyright enforcement changes in more detail.

JVS Los Angeles Helps Job Seekers Who Face Barriers To Employment

Since the Great Depression and through the Great Recession, one California nonprofit has been working non-stop to help Americans thrive in the workplace.

Jewish Vocational Service Los Angeles provides Southern Californians with a full host of employment services, from education and training to counseling and psychological assistance. A non-sectarian organization, JVS focuses on at-risk youth, the physically disabled, veterans and anyone else struggling to establish independence and self-sufficiency.

Food Safety Modernization Act Testing Requirement Axed In White House Review

At the very beginning of 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released its proposals for the most important food safety regulations in a generation. The proposed rule on "Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls For Human Food," lays out the procedures that food manufacturers -- cookie factories, grocery warehouses, frozen foods packagers -- would need to implement in order to reduce the risk that their products would harbor pathogens. The proposal grew out of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed exactly two years earlier, and it aimed to prevent one million illnesses a year.

Paul Krugman: 'Cyprus Should Leave The Euro. Now.'

Paul Krugman says Cyprus needs the abandon the euro immediatel
y in order to save its economy.

"Cyprus should leave the euro. Now," the Nobel Prize-winning economist wrote in a blog post on Tuesday.

The walkers of Nishiyuu lead the way on journey that can transform Canada

Throw a stone in the water, and ripples extend outward.

Chief Theresa Spence's Sacred Fast on Victoria Island did not produce a meaningful dialogue with the Crown and the Prime Minister, but it did produce something entirely different and more enduring: a vision.

Seventeen year old David Kawapit Jr., from Quebec's Whapmagoostui First Nation, on the coast of Hudson Bay, had the vision. In it, he saw a wolf and a bear. The wolf, he explains, is the First Nations’ peoples, and the bear is the government. Singly, the wolf is destroyed, but when the wolf is accompanied by its brothers and sisters, they can easily take down the bear.

Atleo, native leaders applaud Nishiyuu Walkers at end of 1,600-km trek

OTTAWA — The arduous journey of the Nishiyuu Walkers may be complete, but their demand for unity and a new relationship between the federal government and aboriginal people is only getting louder, native leaders said Monday.

Seven men, including a guide, left the Cree community of Whapmagoostui, Que., on Jan. 16, and walked nearly 1,600 kilometres from Hudson Bay to Parliament Hill, where they were greeted by throngs of enthusiastic supporters, some of whom had joined the walk.

To see a map of the walkers route, click HERE.

Jason Kenney: Immigration Backlog Down 40 Per Cent, To 600,000 From A Million Plus

OTTAWA - The Harper government says it has reduced Canada's immigration backlog by 40 per cent.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says the wait list at the end of 2012 was down to 616,271 from more than a million the year before.

Kenney says there would have been more than two million people stuck in the queue by 2015 had the government not taken steps to deal with the problem.

Diana Carney Tweet Suggests $7,700 A Week Not Enough For Apartment

Diana Carney, the wife of Bank of Canada governor and soon-to-be Bank of England governor Mark Carney, has started something of a furor in Britain after a tweet that implied the Carneys are struggling to find an apartment they can afford with their $7,700-a-week housing allowance.

Boris Berezovsky: An Oligarch Dies

Boris Berezovsky died in London last week. A postmortem examination conducted by the British authorities found that his death was “consistent with hanging,” with press reports suggesting that he appeared to have killed himself (the investigation is not complete). In Russia of the nineteen-nineties, Berezovsky was the one-man powerhouse of national politics, one of the country’s richest tycoons, and the kingmaker behind Vladimir Putin’s ascent to the Presidency in 2001.

David Keene, NRA President, Has No Regrets About Newtown Massacre Response

WASHINGTON -- "We had to change the subject," said David Keene, as if making an obvious, unobjectionable point.

We were sitting at the back table of his favorite Italian restaurant. Keene, the 67-year-old president of the National Rifle Association, exuded a satisfied calm. His thick white hair was combed in Jack Kennedy fashion. He wore horn-rimmed glasses and a red V-neck sweater with his sports coat and tie, and he spoke in a soothing baritone. He looked and sounded like a college professor.

But what he said wasn't academic -- or obvious and unobjectionable. In fact, his statement might have struck many American voters as cynical, politically cutthroat and even outrageous.

Gay Marriage Rights: The 10 Democratic Senators Who Still Say No

WASHINGTON -- The arc of history is moving in the direction of marriage equality, regardless of how the Supreme Court ultimately rules in a case arguing its constitutionality. Just this past week, several senators announced their own evolution on the matter, going from being opposed to same-sex marriage to supportive.

The tide is moving so fast, that in the process of attempting to write a post on the remaining holdouts among Senate Democrats, one of those holdouts, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), put out a statement saying he supported marriage equality.