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.]

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Donald Trump’s Presidency Could Literally Mean the End of Their World

At the precise moment that Donald Trump was giving his acceptance speech, I was in a room packed with a thousand people in Sydney, Australia, listening to Maria Tiimon Chi-Fang, a leading activist from the island state of Kiribati. All day I had been sending e-mails with the subject line “It’s the end of the world.” I suddenly felt embarrassed by the privilege of this hyperbole.

If Trump does what he says and rolls back the (insufficient) climate progress won under Obama, inspiring other nations to do the same, Chi-Fang’s nation and culture will almost surely disappear beneath the waves. Literally, the end of their whole world.

Let's Talk About the Constitution – After Trump's Win, We're Going to Need It

The rise of President-elect Donald J. Trump is a triumph for white supremacy and misogyny that too many of us believed was impossible in the United States in 2016. Trump's promise to "Make America Great Again" is a call to return us to a past in which white men of all classes could expect the government to protect their economic and social dominance relative to racial minorities and women.

The Next Four Years Are Going to Be Very Bad for Women

One of the T-shirts that popped up from time to time at Trump rallies this past year was blue; in big, goofy white font, it read, "I wish Hillary had married OJ." It was a cheeky way of saying the wearer wished that, instead of running for president, Clinton had been stabbed four times in the neck and bashed in the head with a blunt object before her throat was slashed so deeply it nearly qualified as a decapitation.

Get it?

President Trump: How America Got It So Wrong

Tuesday, November 8th, early afternoon. Outside the Trump Tower in Manhattan, a man in the telltale red Make America Great Again hat taps me on the shoulder.

"You press?" he says, looking at a set of lanyards around my neck.

I nod.

"Fuck yourself," he says, thrusting a middle finger in my face. He then turns around and walks a boy of about five away from me down Fifth Avenue, a hand gently tousling his son's hair.

Meet the Trump of Ancient Rome, a Populist Demagogue Who Helped Bring Down the Republic

Populism has a long and colorful history in American politics, from Huey Long on the left and George Wallace on the right, to — more recently — Ross Perot in 1992 and Donald Trump today. But the roots of populism stretch much further back in time — more than two millennia, to the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic.

Iran Says It Has Options If Nuclear Deal Fails

BRATISLAVA, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Iran wants all parties to stay committed to an international nuclear deal signed last year, but has options if that does not happen, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday.

He spoke after the U.S. presidential election victory of Donald Trump, who had said he was opposed to the nuclear pact during campaigning.

“Of course Iran’s options are not limited but our hope and our desire and our preference is for the full implementation of the nuclear agreement, which is not bilateral for one side to be able to scrap,” Zarif told a news conference in Bratislava after meeting his Slovak counterpart Miroslav Lajcak.

Original Article
Author: Reuters

Russia Says It Was In Touch With Trump Campaign During The Election

MOSCOW, Nov 10 (Reuters) - The Russian government was in touch with members of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign staff during the U.S. election campaign, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the Interfax news agency on Thursday.

“There were contacts,” Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying. He did not give details.

Trump's winning message was pure suckerbait

Welcome to my nightmare. South of the border, the inmates are officially running the asylum.

Americans have elected a man who is a compendium of dark comparatives. He is greedier than Goldman Sachs, more egomaniacal than Howard Stern, dumber than Dan Quayle and blessed with a social conscience that a psychopathic con-man fleecing old ladies out of their life savings would be proud to have. And, oh yes, he is now President Trump.

This Is What White Supremacy Looks Like

There is an understandable inclination to believe that by voting for and ultimately electing Donald Trump, white people (particularly working-class white people) voted against their own self-interests. After all, this is a man who became a billionaire by swindling and defrauding and sometimes just outright not paying people exactly like them, and there’s no real evidence that a Trump presidency will be much different for them than the Trump industry has been.

This is not particularly untrue. But it misses the point—as I did.

Dopey Donald Trump Can’t Figure Out Why AFL-CIO Members Aren’t Showing Up at His Rallies

Donald Trump rallied his supporters in Manheim, Pennsylvania, Saturday night with a call for union members to show their support. To the Republican presidential nominee’s surprise, his appeal was answered with silence.

“The AFL-CIO: How many members here are in the AFL-CIO?” Trump called out to the crowd. “Many?”

After an awkward pause, the billionaire “populist” responded to the non-response.

Hungary’s Orban Says He Will Amend Constitution To Keep Out Migrants

BUDAPEST, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Under fire from opposition parties, Viktor Orban said on Monday he would amend the constitution to ensure the European Union cannot settle migrants in Hungary after Sunday’s referendum even though turnout was too low to make the vote valid.

The outcome deprived the maverick right-wing prime minister of a clear-cut victory with which to challenge EU migrant quotas and the radical nationalist Jobbik party called on him to quit.

Theresa May sets Brexit course on hard

BIRMINGHAM — Theresa May used her first address to her party as prime minister to deliver an iron message in a velvet glove: Britain doesn’t want a fight with the EU, but forget any talk of a soft Brexit.

Speaking on the first day of the U.K. Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham Sunday, May looked beyond those in the hall and made it clear to those watching elsewhere in Europe that she would not even discuss the continuation of free movement after Britain’s exit from the EU.

Now Is the Time to Express Solidarity With ‘Our Arab-American Brothers and Sisters’

The ugly political climate of 2016 has made this a rough year for the Arab-American community.

Donald Trump’s cruel and unusual campaign has had many targets. But he has been particularly vile in his targeting of Muslims and immigrants from Middle Eastern countries.

Ambrose Charged Taxpayers For Housing Costs While Living At Stornoway

OTTAWA — Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose charged taxpayers nearly $10,000 in secondary housing costs — while she was living in an official residence also paid for by the public, records from the House of Commons show.

Ambrose, an Alberta MP and former cabinet minister, was selected by her peers to replace prime minister Stephen Harper after he abruptly resigned as leader following last fall’s election. She moved into the Official Opposition leader’s residence, Stornoway, in November.

The man who is really running Britain

BIRMINGHAM — The most influential adviser in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government grew up in a modest brick house in a working-class neighborhood in Birmingham, ten miles and a world away from the sprawling conference center where the Conservative Party will hold its annual conference this week.

Nick Timothy, the football-mad son of a factory supervisor, spent his childhood in Tile Cross. Forty minutes by bus from the city center and not far from the airport, the neighborhood has been hard hit by deindustrialization. It suffers from higher-than-average rates of crime, welfare dependency, social housing and joblessness. In June’s vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union, some 75 percent of the area’s residents voted to leave.

Donald Trump Is Being Outplayed by Women—and He’s Losing His Mind Over It

You’ve heard of the 3 am phone call, the one every presidential nominee must be prepared to answer ably. Now we have the 3 am tweet storm, where the would-be leader of the free world melts down at the temerity of mere women to challenge his political dominance.

Four days after his pathetic debate performance, Donald Trump is still digging himself deeper down the hole that Hillary Clinton dispatched him to on Monday night when she disclosed his racist and sexist treatment of former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. He didn’t deny Clinton’s claims that he’d fat-shamed his employee, calling her “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping”; he essentially confirmed it, telling Fox and Friends the next morning that she’d gained weight and it was a problem for him. Then his allies began attacking Machado for rumors that she’d been involved in a murder plot—she was never charged, with anything—and in the porn trade. The story’s latest twist is Trump’s meltdown in the wee small hours of Friday morning, attacking both Clinton and Machado on Twitter, and urging his 11 million followers to look at a “sextape” of Machado (one that says doesn’t actually exist).

UK heading for hard Brexit, say European diplomats

European diplomats are increasingly convinced the UK will sever economic ties with the continent when it leaves the European Union, as hopes of a special partnership languish.

As the European commission’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, prepares to start work on Saturday, the dominant mood among senior diplomats is that the UK is on the path to “hard Brexit”, namely giving up membership of the EU single market, as well as the customs union that allows free circulation of goods.

Wisconsin Is Systematically Failing to Provide the Photo IDs Required to Vote in November

Madison, WI— Zack Moore, a 34-year-old African-American man, moved from Chicago to Madison last year. He worked at a car wash and then a landscaping job before breaking his leg and becoming unemployed. After staying with his brother, he’s now homeless and sleeping on the streets of Madison.

On September 22, he went to the DMV to get a photo ID for voting, as required by Wisconsin’s strict voter-ID law. He brought his Illinois photo ID, Social Security card, and a pay stub for proof of residence. But he didn’t have a copy of his birth certificate, which had been misplaced by his sister in Illinois, so the DMV wouldn’t give him an ID for voting. “I’m trying to get a Wisconsin ID so I can vote,” Moore told the DMV. “I don’t have my birth certificate, but I got everything else.”

Donald Trump Is a Worse Crook Than Bernie Madoff

Imagine for a moment that it’s January 2009. Bernie Madoff, America’s poster-child fraudster, has yet to be caught. The 2007–08 financial crisis never happened. The markets didn’t tank to reveal the emptiness beneath his schemes. We still don’t know what’s lurking in his tax returns, because he’s never released them, but we know that he’s a billionaire, at least on paper. We also know, of course, that he just won the presidency by featuring the slogan—on hats, T-shirts, everywhere—“Make America Rich Again!” On a frosty morning in late January, before his colleagues, his country, God, and the world, Madoff takes the oath of office. He swears on a Bible to uphold the constitution.

Don’t Ever Say Michelle Obama Didn’t Warn You About Trump

It is simply the case that the candidates for public office never get better once they are elected to public office. At best, the candidate you see on the campaign trail is the mayor or governor or president you get. At worst, which is often the cases, the candidate you see on the campaign trail is actually the best version—with bigger promises and more manufactured charm—is actually the best version of the elected official who takes the position of power.

Pride cometh...

How quickly the movers and shakers have turned into the moved and the shaken.

Gerald Butts and Katie Telford are sporting black eyes after their taxpayer-funded moving expenses became public. It is the house-moving equivalent of Peter Mansbridge’s hitherto secret million-dollar-plus salary; transparency at last and transparently obscene.

It was also another embarrassment for the PMO, an institution that only 12 per cent of Canadians trusted in the waning years of the Harper government. The top two exempt staff members in Justin Trudeau’s office, his chief-of-staff and his principal secretary, were outed in an expense scandal that conjured up images of porkers past. David Dingwall famously expensed his chewing gum: Butts and Telford charged the public $126,669.56 and $80,382.56 respectively to move from Toronto to Ottawa.

Erdogan’s U.S. Visit Shows He Cares About World Opinion Less Than Ever

NEW YORK ― The Friday morning event in New York City was billed as a definitive discussion on the attempted putsch in Turkey in July. It promised the perspective of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the controversial leader who pro-coup soldiers almost killed using U.S.-made fighter jets, and experts who understood the event’s “anatomy.”

It would be Erdogan’s first time giving an American audience his view of the coup. It seemed a prime opportunity for him to win sympathy and provide evidence for the demand that the Obama administration immediately repatriate Fethullah Gulen, the U.S.-based cleric the Turkish government blames for the coup ― something the United States says it is not yet prepared to do. And unlike his speech earlier in the week at the United Nations General Assembly, it could be focused entirely on Turkey’s complicated internal politics.

House Intelligence Panel Gets Dozens of Whistleblower Complaints Every Year

Critics of leakers have often argued that whistleblowers have legitimate channels through which they can report their grievances, but in the murky world of intelligence, it’s hard to know how many complaints are filed, and what, if anything, happens as a result. Now, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence says it sees “dozens” of such complaints every year.

The Model for Donald Trump’s Media Relations Is Joseph McCarthy

One definition of judgment is the ability to distinguish outliers from outright liars, given that they tend to tell similar kinds of stories. Occasionally, an individual, by producing a great volume of mendacity, manages to occupy both categories. Donald Trump—fabulist, demagogue, and Presidential nominee—has raised unique challenges not only to the political system but to those tasked with writing about it. Earlier this week, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the Times, commented to Quartz that the paper would point out Trump’s lies and label them as such sans euphemism. A few weeks ago, this publication began a series inspired by the candidate’s hostile relationship with facts, titled “Trump and the Truth.” (As David Remnick noted in an introduction to that series, “No one here is suggesting that Trump is the only politician ever to unleash a whopper. In fact, Hillary Clinton has had her bald-faced moments—moments that are too kindly described as ‘lawyerly.’ ” But Trump is in a category of his own.) Early on, the incendiary candidacy of the Republican nominee drew warranted comparisons to the brand of racist populism that George Wallace deployed in his 1968 campaign, and to Barry Goldwater’s 1964 electoral insurgency. Yet there is a growing contentiousness over Trump’s relationship with the media. It suggests another forebear whose life and career are a virtual template for the paranoid demagogy that has defined the 2016 election: Donald Trump is the second coming of Joseph McCarthy.