Tag Archive: Democracy

Sep 08 2019

Rant of the Week: Chris Hayes – What To Do When Democracies Make Mistakes

MSNBC host of “All In” Chris Hayes explores the similarities of Brexit and The Trump administration.

Sep 01 2019

Rant of the Week: Chris Hayes – One Man, One Vote

When we vote in local elections, we vote directly for our local and state representatives – one man, one vote. But for the most powerful office in the country, President of the United States, that rule does not apply. He is elected by the electoral college, winning the majority of American votes does not count. …

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Aug 25 2019

Rant of the Week: Chris Hayes – White Supremacist Threat

in his opening monologue before a live audience Friady, MSNBC host Chris Hayes spoke on the threat of white supremacy to equality and an open democracy.

Nov 05 2017

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert – Restoring Democracy Spanish Style

Catalonia is a triangular region of Spain that borders on France and the Mediterranean. It is a prosperous region and, in October, it held a referendum declaring its independence from Spain. Needless to say the Spanish government did not react kindly to this and took action to squash the vote by declaring it null and …

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Jan 04 2016

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: What Jeremy Corbyn’s Campaign Means for Britain

By: NY Brit Expat (Note: this piece came in just as we were doing our platform transfer and by the time that task was complete we were deep into Holiday season and I wasn’t sure it would get the prominence it deserved. I apologize for the delay. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour is, if anything, …

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Sep 07 2015

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: What Jeremy Corbyn’s Campaign Means for Britain

By: NY Brit Expat

Can I begin by saying how much I have enjoyed the Labour party leadership elections? I was set not to when I saw the original candidates for the post. It was downright dispiriting. Then Jeremy Corbyn declares his candidacy, we have the nail-biting nominations process, he gets through, the Unions start coming on board, the Constituency Labour parties supporting him hands down, the purges by Labour of those that “do not share its aims and values”, now Corbyn as the frontrunner of an election which will be declared next week. This has not only been exciting, it has been a breath of fresh air and it is a conversation that Labour has needed to have for quite a while. I have enjoyed it thoroughly, now we just need to hope that the grandees of the Labour party do not pull a fast one and he is expected to win. Yes, win!

In many senses, Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has shaken the political landscape in Britain. There are a number of things that have led us to this place (among these are the Scottish referendum and the collapse of Scottish Labour, and the general election result which the Tories won), but I think the straw that broke the camel’s back actually was the decision of Labour’s grandees to abstain on the Welfare Bill enabling a vicious attack on women, the disabled and the working class to pass with opposition coming from the Scottish National Party, the Greens and Plaid Cymru. It became evident that while Labour claimed to be the opposition in Parliament that they had proved themselves to be enablers of the Tories rather than an opposition. Jeremy Corbyn is set to win the Labour leadership election; by August 24th he had moved into the front of the pack with odds of 3/10 of winning.

For those that haven’t heard of Jeremy Corbyn, let me introduce you to a left Social Democrat who is one of the few remaining in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP). He is the Member of Parliament from the People’s Republic of Islington representing Islington North. He is a man of integrity and principles and has a long list of defying the Labour party whips more than 238 times  at least according to The Sun.  Normally, I would never quote The Sun, a right-wing Murdoch spread, but you do need to read this if only to get an idea of how Corbyn is being characterised.

Corbyn is a supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the People’s Assembly, is a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Amnesty International. He opposed the Iraq War, supports LGBT rights, supports a united Ireland, opposes tuition fees at Universities, opposes the creation of Academies and Free Schools, supports the introduction of a living wage voted against the horrific Welfare Bill (that Labour MPs were supposed to abstain on), has spoken at demonstrations of the People’s Assembly, against the Iraq war, against austerity among many others. He is also a vegetarian, supports animal rights, wears old jumpers and often wears a black cap (yes, it is similar to Lenin’s).

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His candidacy differs from Bernie Sanders (and this is not only because he is further to the left of Sanders) as he is not an outsider seeking to be leader; he is a long-term member of the Labour party and a member of the Socialist Campaign Group.  He will probably win the Labour leadership contest despite opposition from the right, centre and centre-left of the Party and despite smears in the mainstream media from fellow party members and members and ideologues of the ruling class.  Moreover, the momentum behind him does not come as much as from within in the party itself as from those who left or are outside of the Labour party due to its transformation into New Labour which lost them the base of the party.

Jan 14 2015

Lip Service – Caution Democrats At Work!

HueyPLongLook out! The ghost of Huey Long has taken over for all three of Dickens’ spirits and is haunting the Corporate Democrats. How else to explain the recent conversions of the darling of Goldman Sachs’ and Robert Rubin’s Hamilton Project, the Crown family of General Dynamics and Penny Pritzger of the Hyatt fortune suddenly getting all populist and proposing a free community college education for one and all?

President Obama said Thursday that he would propose a government program to make community college tuition-free for millions of students, an ambitious plan that would expand educational opportunities across the United States. …

The proposal would cover half-time and full-time students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average – about a C-plus – and who “make steady progress toward completing a program,” White House officials said. It would apply to colleges that offered credit toward a four-year degree or occupational-training programs that award degrees in high-demand fields. The federal government would cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college for those students, and states that choose to participate would cover the remainder. If all states participate, the administration estimates, the program could cover as many as nine million students, saving them each an average of $3,800 a year.

Mr. Obama will include the program, which would need congressional approval, in his budget for the coming year, his advisers said, and detail it in his State of the Union address Jan. 20. …

White House officials acknowledged in a conference call with reporters that the program was unlikely to win quick approval in Congress.

Huey has also been haunting congressional corporate Democrats, too! Programs and ideas that liberals/progressives and decent people have been politely pushing the Democrats to get behind are suddenly popping up all over! The “Robin Hood” (Tobin) Tax, incentives to raise worker pay, tripling the child-care tax credits – a program that for once redistributes wealth downwards!

All this from an administration that created a budget sequestration process and stood by with its hands in its pockets as a bipartisan deal was cut which rewarded the military industrial complex while failing to address drastic cuts in food stamp benefits and did not extend unemployment benefits for workers displaced by the banksters’ (whom Obama continues to protect) looting of the economy.The same administration that has been aching to cut old folk’s social security to reward his rich buddies. Corporate Democrats came out of the woodwork to support Obama in his attack on poor old folks with rhetoric that would make Frank Luntz wonder which party he works for:

Congressional Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), signaled greater willingness on Wednesday to cut Social Security benefits … Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill that a cut proposed by President Barack Obama in the fiscal cliff negotiations would in fact “strengthen” the program, echoing the claims often made by Republicans about entitlement programs they want to slash. …

The cut involves swapping out the traditional method for calculating cost of living increases, based on the current standard for measuring inflation, for something called a chained CPI, or chained Consumer Price Index.

The cuts would start small, but wind up costing beneficiaries thousands of dollars over time … Pelosi wrapped both her arms around it Wednesday, insisting she does not regard it as a “cut.”

Huey must have clapped these guys upside the head with a spectral clue-by-four!

Nov 16 2014

Just Don’t Call It Democracy

What do we want, what are our demands? That’s been a question many have raised, and answered, particularly since the Occupy movement in 2011. Many complained about Occupy at the time because it seemingly did not have any demands. The focus was on Wall Street and the 99/1% theme and the narrative that our government works for the 1% and not the 99%. There were lists of demands going around at the time, some with 15-20 items ranging from ending the wars and establishing public banking to addressing climate change and jobs programs.

But in the end wasn’t it and isn’t it about one primary thing – democracy? That’s what Occupy was all about, the fact that our government operates for the rich and powerful and the rest of us can eat dirt.

OK Class, listen up.

A Democracy is “a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections”  (Merriam Webster), or

“Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens are meant to participate equally – either directly or, through elected representatives, indirectly – in the proposal, development and establishment of the laws by which their society is run. (Wikipedia)

Democracy is supposed to be socially equal and classless, i.e, the rich bastards are not supposed to have all the power. Democracy is Power to the People.

There are two basic forms of democracy, direct democracy and representative democracy. Our country uses both forms, primarily representative. Direct democracy exists only at the state level and below in the form of referendums and initiatives placed on the ballot. Citizens in states that have voted to legalize marijuana and gay marriage have practiced direct democracy. Citizens can raise and lower their taxes to fund schools and libraries through direct democracy.

Some like to argue that our form of government is a Republic as opposed to a Democracy. That’s an argument that goes back to this nation’s founding when “all the young dudes” with the wigs were sitting around smoking weed and thinking about what kind of government was best while their slaves and women folk stayed back on the plantation. Primarily the arguments were about direct democracy versus representative democracy, or democracy versus a republic as James Madison argued.

Whatever, it’s still all about electing representatives and a President who are supposed to represent all people, not just the rich. Or was that “We the People, All Men are Created Equal” talk just rubbish?

Some argue that this form of representative government is actually an oligarchy, not a democracy. An oligarchy is defined as a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.  The word Democracy comes from the Greek words Demos, meaning people, and Kratos, meaning power. Power to the People. The hippies had it right, man. The number of representatives in the House of Representatives in 1791 was 69 while the U.S. population was just over four million. That’s a ratio of about 58,000 citizens to 1 representative. Today there are 435 House Representatives “representing” 316 million U.S. citizens. That’s a ratio of about 734,000 citizens to 1 representative. That’s not Power to the People, that’s power to a small group of individuals, i.e., an oligarchy.  And those individuals are controlled by another small group of individuals, the .001%.  A small group of people controlling a small group of people controlling the rest of us idiots.  We in the United States of Free and Brave People call that Democracy.

(Note: Back in those glorious days of the early 1900′s when this country was completely hijacked by the bankers in 1913, Congress passed the Apportionment Act of 1911 capping the number of Representatives at 435. Over one hundred years and no change. Wonder why?  I guess they thought 435 was just the right amount of representation we citizens needed.)

Tell me how that is democracy. How is it that one person can represent the interests of over 700,000 people? Even with all the outside pressures from corporations and billionaires and RICH PEOPLE, it’s not possible. It’s not democracy, not unless you reinvent the word. It’s not “Power to the People”, that’s for sure. I’m 59 years old and I’ve never, ever, ever been asked by a politician what I thought about an issue prior to their votes in Congress. I always wondered about that when I was young – how do they know what my opinion is if they don’t ask? I learned, as we all have, that is just not how it works. Our opinions don’t matter.

Then when you consider what has become of this “representative” democracy, it becomes just that more ludicrous. The two party system that is corrupt as hell. The inability of third parties to become part of the game. The billion dollar elections, Citizen’s United, the thinktanks and lobbyists, the billionaires, the millionaire/billioinaire Congress and Senate. The CIA and NSA and the CFR. There’s just no way this representative system of government can be called democracy, the power to the people.

Which brings us back to what do we want. Sure, we want to end the wars, feed the people and save the planet. But we can’t do that without democracy and we do not live in a democracy. Is that what we want? Do we want a democracy or don’t we. It’s that frigging simple.

We’re back to where we were over two hundred years ago. We need the same discussions.  The system of government installed for this country doesn’t deliver democracy. There were many back then who predicted this would happen. They said the people would have to rise up and make changes, even carry out another REVOLUTION.  They even put that in the Constitution.

The funny thing about Americans is how prideful we are about our “democracy”, and yet we live our lives under an illusion. The United States of America is nothing but an illusion. But it’s still up to us. We can change things if we want, it depends on what we want. Do we want democracy or do we want to continue this silly and self defeating game of voting for an oligarchy that doesn’t represent us? Do we really want to address this question? That’s the first thing we have to do, address the damn question.

We can have direct democracy. We can have that Power to the People we’ve dreamed of since that first toke over the line in 1969. We can create a system, such as breaking the large nation-state into small, manageable units and establishing thousands of local assemblies that debate the issues and then collect the votes nationwide. We can implement a national initiative process to vote nationally on gay marriage and legalizing weed and ending imperialism and saving Social Security. We can create democracy. First we have to decide if we really want it, democratically.  Because we can’t have it with the system now in place.

A good first step  is to organize a boycott of the Democratic and Republican national political parties for the 2016 election process. Over half the eligible voters are already boycotting this undemocratic system. Join them if you haven’t already and let’s make it official. We can call the shots here, it’s what this country is supposed to be all about. Power to the People.  Let’s demand democracy. We can say we want a new government, one that is democratic. That’s where it all starts.

Jul 13 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Misogyny and Capitalism

Recent Supreme Court rulings highlight the persistent presence of misogyny in the US.

Megan Amundson, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, expressed her anger over the Supreme Court’s message that “women are second-class citizens, not capable of making our healthcare decisions without the interference of our bosses and complete strangers on the street,” and she encouraged the crowd to send a message back.

This was the most striking language in the buffer zone ruling, to me:

petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives.

Unbidden strangers given the rights of “counselor.” Since when is anyone who wants to talk to me considered my counselor? Why is the word “consensual” in that sentence? Patients haven’t consented to this counseling. They are hounded by it. This kind of distortion of someone’s behavior and giving it a title which then affords them rights, when they are really just harassing people would never happen if the recipients of said counseling were white males. Where is the autonomy of the woman in this interaction? This is codified misogyny.

In a country which claims to be “democratic” and to believe in “liberty”, how is it that autonomy is not fully respected for all people?

It would seem that something overrides our belief in the respect of the individual which should be inherent to a democracy and our commitment to privacy when it comes to personal liberty. Could that be capitalism?

Will you join me for an exploration of the linkages between capitalism and misogyny?

Jun 15 2014

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: These are a few of my least favourite things by NY Brit Expat

It’s been one of those weeks where so many things have come to light that I simply do not know where to begin writing first. I sit there and think, which of the various things that I have been listening to or reading about have actually annoyed me to the point of actually writing about. I have realised that I am just generally annoyed.

When I thought about it more, I concluded that the underlying theme of these various stories is a complete and utter contempt by bourgeois governments (that lay claim to being utterly democratic) of the vast majority of people that they govern. Whether they govern competently or not, whether there is anything resembling a democratic mandate or not; it is the utter contempt in which they hold the majority of the population that has really gotten my goat.

I also realised that this is not only confined to governments, it is a view shared by the leadership of religious authorities, by arms of the state (police, armies, etc.) and even by the heads of sporting associations.  This contempt is a reflection of the fact that those in power think/know that when push comes to shove, they know who they serve and it is not the vast majority of people; it is a tiny elite hiding behind the word “democracy” while actually not even slightly being accountable to that majority. It is the abuse of power by those that have it wielded against those that view themselves as powerless. Having just spoken to my postman about my frustration, he agreed and said “this is a long term problem, what can you and I do about it”?

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