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, January 27, 2016


Torontonians probably don’t feel it the way those of us in affected cities do – Postmedia’s latest job-killing, democracy-sapping manoeuvre was all too obvious on the front page of my Vancouver Sun.

On the day Postmedia merged the newsrooms of The Sun and the city's other large and venerable Vancouver paper, The Province, and laid off a total of 90 workers in similar mergers in newsrooms in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa, there were no big headlines announcing the news in The Sun.

When It Comes to Choice, Hillary Is the Only Choice

Forty three years ago next week, the Supreme Court declared abortion a fundamental right, and forever preserved a woman's right to make her own decisions about her health. Yet today, just two weeks before the Iowa caucuses, the Republican front-runner in that state has vowed to invalidate this Supreme Court ruling. When asked if he would even attempt to use the 14th Amendment to rob American women of this sacred right, Ted Cruz replied: "Absolutely, yes."

Meet The Most Powerful Political Organization In Washington

WASHINGTON -- Coverage of the influence of money in politics tends to suffer from the same weakness that all horse-race politics writing does: it almost never connects day-to-day movements to any broader reality or purpose. We learn about the size of ad buys or overall spending plans, but there’s no so what? Following the 2012 presidential election, the political press decided, rather unanimously, that all the talk about the Citizens United decision had been overblown because, after all, Democrats more or less matched Republicans on the spending front, a Democrat was reelected to the White House, and the party even hung on to the Senate, so no rich conservative was able to buy the election. Sure, Republicans later took over the upper chamber in 2014, but plenty of Democrats still managed to win.

The Devastating Cost of Monetized Elections

Corporatized and commercialized elections reach a point where they stand outside and erode our democracy. Every four years the presidential and Congressional elections become more of a marketplace where the wealthy paymasters turn a civic process into a spectacle of vacuous rhetorical contests, distraction and stupefaction.

The civic minds of the people are sidelined by the monetized minds of a corrupted commercial media, political consultants, pundits and the purveyors of an ever-more dictatorial corporate state.

Energy east pipeline far from a nation-building project

MONTREAL—In the face of mounting Quebec opposition to the Energy East pipeline, the TransCanada plan to link the oilfields of Western Canada to the refineries of the Atlantic region is not officially dead but it is, at best, on life support.

On paper, no mayor including Denis Coderre, the former Liberal minister who currently runs Montreal, has the power to block a pipeline. Nor can a province veto the project. The final word on national infrastructure undertakings rests with the federal government.

Justin Trudeau’s excellent but meaningless Davos adventure

It’s hard to know what to make of Justin Trudeau’s first appearance before the moneyed elite in Davos, Switzerland.

He told assembled corporate moguls that Canada is open for business. He schmoozed with Hollywood movie stars.

Like Stephen Harper before him, the current prime minister bragged.

Journalism Isn't Dying - It's Being Murdered

This weekend, a few of my friends and I will be getting together for what will be a small gathering of recent journalism grads. It's the first in a while; in the two years since my own graduation, I could count the number of reunions on one hand. The reason, it seems, is that there's a constant air of sadness.

When we see each other this weekend, the topic of choice will no doubt be the Postmedia cutbacks. It will likely be a sad conversation.

How Much Of Canada's Energy Industry Is Foreign-Owned? Good Question

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's attempt Friday to attract more foreign investment to Canada comes as the government struggles to get a handle on exactly what foreigners own in the country's crucial oil and gas sector.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show the Finance Department only has a rough estimate on foreign ownership in the energy sector — a key destination for investment from abroad.

Bloomberg, Sensing an Opening, Revisits a Potential White House Run

Michael R. Bloomberg has instructed advisers to draw up plans for a potential independent campaign in this year’s presidential race. His advisers and associates said he was galled by Donald J. Trump’s dominance of the Republican field, and troubled by Hillary Clinton’s stumbles and the rise of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on the Democratic side.

Mr. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has in the past contemplated running for the White House on a third-party ticket, but always concluded he could not win. A confluence of unlikely events in the 2016 election, however, has given new impetus to his presidential aspirations.

The Koch Brothers Have Gotten Much, Much Richer Under Obama

Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars building a conservative network to oppose Democrats, have actually done very well for themselves since President Barack Obama took office.

The Koch brothers, who believe strongly in a market-based libertarian philosophy, each had a net worth of $19 billion in 2008, the year Obama was elected to office, according to Forbes. The fortune dipped slightly in 2009 to $16 billion amid a financial crisis that was caused, in part, by the kind of limited government oversight they believe in.

Half the Foreign Policy Experts Behind Clinton’s Anti-Sanders Letter Have Military Industry Ties

Earlier this week, the media reported on a letter by 10 foreign policy experts claiming that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders had “not thought through … critical national security issues”—without telling readers that fully half of the signers—former State Department officials and ambassadors who are now backing Clinton—have strong connections to military contractors.

Citizens United Anniversary: How Anthony Kennedy Turned American Democracy Into an ‘Open Sewer’

This week marked the anniversary of the Citizens United decision, which exposed American democracy to increasing domination by the country’s very richest and most reactionary figures—modern heirs to those “malefactors of great wealth” condemned by the great Republican Theodore Roosevelt—so it is worth recalling the false promise made by the justice who wrote the majority opinion in that case.

Militarizing Police Does Not Serve Or Protect Canadian Citizens

This week, we learned that the Toronto Police Service will be ordering C8 carbine semi-automatic assault rifles for front-line police officers.

The assault rifles, produced by arms manufacturer Colt Canada for the Canadian Forces, will cost $2,500 each, and will be in patrol cars on the streets of Canada's largest city by May. Toronto becomes only the latest municipality to acquire a weapon described on its website as "battle proven in harsh combat environments."

How A Stanford Student Accused Of Assaulting Multiple Women Graduated

Sara, a recent graduate of Stanford University, is a survivor. During her freshman year at the school, she says, a male student she was dating turned violent after she refused to have sex with him. He choked her and threatened to kill her, whispering in her ear that no one would care if she died, she says.

Sara reported the attack to Stanford administrators, who then spoke with Robert, the alleged assailant. University administrators told Sara that he didn’t contest her story.

Why Wall Street Gives Millions to Hillary (As a Former Goldman Sachs Banker, I Say Bernie Has It Right)

Raghuram Rajan, now the head of India's central bank, once wrote an academic paper blaming the financial crisis on poor people. Just yesterday, Bill Clinton placed blame for the crisis on our government. Anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job knows full well that the crisis was caused by our banks.

Banks lent trillions of dollars to home buyers on too loose of terms knowing that they could turn the resulting junk mortgages into AAA securities through the alchemy of CDOs and securitization and thus generate hundreds of billions of profit and leave the resulting mortgage mess to their investing clients.

Hillary Clinton Isn't Only Against Reparations, She Accepted Money from Prison Lobbyists

First and foremost, Ta-Nehisi Coates is a brilliant journalist and I agree with him onthe case for reparations. Everyone should read his groundbreaking piece in The Atlantic titled The Case for Reparations. It highlights why the African American experience is unique in every way, from slavery and Jim Crow, to the Civil Rights era and today's lasting effects in the black community from such devastating chapters in U.S. history.

JPMorgan Raises Jamie Dimon's Pay 35 Percent, But With Strings

NEW YORK (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> directors raised Chief Executive Jamie Dimon's total compensation by 35 percent to $27 million for 2015, a regulatory filing on Thursday showed.

But the board cut the cash portion and tied three-fourths of the total to more performance-sensitive stock awards, the filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said.


Constable James Forcillo put his psychology degree to work on the witness stand during verbal battles with Crown prosecutors.

1. Constable James Forcillo's defence is one big blame game.
It was always going to be a risky proposition putting Forcillo in the witness box to testify on his own behalf. The last thing any defence lawyer wants to do is open up his client to cross-examination. It's usually a last resort.

Justin Trudeau: Foreign Investment 'Key Priority' For Growth, Jobs In Canada

DAVOS, Switzerland — The federal Liberals appear ready to swing open the doors to more foreign investment in Canada with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling it a key priority for his government.

Trudeau says foreign investment is needed to help economic growth in Canada and the Liberals plan to work with national and international companies to create jobs domestically.

Rona and Tony, pot and the census: ‘Hypocrites’ doesn’t quite cover it

As the Conservative Party of Canada augers down into a hell-hole of hypocrisy, the spectacle is not without comic relief.

It has been widely observed how some senior Tories have undergone a conversion of sorts on the road to oblivion. Some of these flip-flops are mere head-shakers. Some are Exorcist-grade nasal coffee rockets.

Let us begin gently. Interim Leader Rona Ambrose has clearly modified her views on how a government should treat the non-government side. During Harper-times, the Opposition was consigned to institutional Siberia. Their amendments were ignored, their questions went unanswered and they were routinely deprived of the basic information they needed to do their jobs — just as former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page told us.

The upside of Kevin O’Leary’s political ambitions

Rather than some strange deviation, Kevin O’Leary seems like a logical addition to the recent pack of extremists leading Canada’s political right.

What perhaps distinguishes O’Leary from Rob Ford, Stephen Harper and Tim Hudak is the sheer openness with which he advocates greed and making Canada safe for billionaires.

U.S. snubs its Canadian ally over electoral promise to withdraw fighter jets from Middle East

The lead, Western warmaking/regime-change countries intervening in northern Iraq and Syria held a strategy conference of their ministers of war in Paris on January 20. The meeting made waves in Canada because Ottawa was not invited to attend.
The meeting of ministers of the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands discussed ongoing plans for intervention in Syria and Iraq. Canada is fully engaged in that intervention, more so than some of the other countries attending in Paris. For example, neither Italy or Germany have fighter aircraft engaged in bombings. But Canada was not invited to the party because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a promise during the national election campaign of October 19, 2015 that, if elected, his government would withdraw its six fighter-bomber jets from the U.S.-led warmaking alliance and instead focus on ground operations, including training of allied Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Keynes or Friedman? TPP presents an economic choice for the Liberals

Place your bets. Will Justin Trudeau and his economic advisers choose a neo-Keynesian approach to the growing economic disaster facing the country or will they stick to the neoliberal ideology that has been the stock response of Liberal and Conservative governments for the past 30 years? Trudeau's planned deficits (though very modest ones) for three or four years suggests the possibility of a return to government intervention in the economy. But his infrastructure program is not really incompatible with neoliberalism: even the most devout free-marketeer will agree, under pressure, that we actually need roads and bridges and sewer and water lines.

Unions could save Goodwill Toronto from incompetent management

Earlier this week, Goodwill announced that they were closing their Toronto-area stores. Sixteen stores and 10 donation centres stocked full of donated clothing and household items were apparently no longer profitable.
The workers have expressed the most shock. Despite business as usual, as deliveries continued and people dropped off their impulse buys, maternity clothes and too-small pants, the board voted to cease operations. The workers have been consistent in media reports: they are shocked.

Clinton Steps Up Attacks On Sanders Days Before Iowa

INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) — With days to go before the lead-off Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton on Thursday ramped up her attacks on fellow Democrat Bernie Sanders, saying she is not interested in ideas that will "never make it in the real world."

The former secretary of state offered a sharp assessment of the Vermont senator's proposal for a single-payer health care system on Thursday morning, saying it would lead to "gridlock" in Washington. She also questioned his foreign policy ideas.

Uber playbook: Why the ride-hailing app will be coming soon to a city near you

A memo to the mayors of Canada's biggest cities: Uber, whether you like it or not, is going to win.

Don't agree? Talk to your counterparts in New York, Chicago, Portland and more than 350 other cities around the world.

In the span of six years, Uber, a tech supernova backed by some of the deepest pockets in Silicon Valley, has all but conquered the U.S. Now, the playbook developed in its blitzkrieg through America is being applied in Canada and the rest of the world.

Density Is Coming, Say Urban Thinkers, but to Whose Backyard?

Density is a heated topic in Metro Vancouver. Rancour over the subject fills newspaper op-ed pages, causes otherwise peaceful citizens to rally and fill council meeting minutes with pleas and threats not to change their neighbourhoods, destroy their character, or build gigantic towers.

So when the Vancouver Urbanarium Society, in partnership with the University of British Columbia's School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, decided to focus the first of its City Debates series on the resolution that no neighbourhood should be off limits to densification, they prepared the audience for the worst.

On TPP, Trudeau Must Think Like a Keynesian

Place your bets. Will Justin Trudeau and his economic advisors choose a neo-Keynesian approach to the growing economic disaster facing the country or will it stick to the neo-liberal ideology that has been the stock response of Liberal and Conservative governments for the past 30 years?

Trudeau's planned deficits (though very modest ones) for three or four years suggests the possibility of a return to government intervention in the economy. But his infrastructure program is not really incompatible with neo-liberalism: even the most devout free-marketeer will agree, under pressure, that we actually need roads and bridges and sewer and water lines.

Renewables Could Outcompete Costly, Risky LNG, Investors Warned

A new industry report warns investors, governments and regulators that renewable forms of energy could outcompete high-cost and high-risk liquefied natural gas projects.

The sheer volume of shale gas in North America has blinded many of its key promoters to an important dynamic: "Namely the fast progress of renewable energy technologies capable of providing an alternative to one or more of the major sources of demand for LNG, electricity production and in the future perhaps heating," the report found.