Trump still has several months to fill more court vacancies, and McConnell will definitely make this a top priority ― especially in the lame duck, if Trump loses reelection in November. But at the moment, there are no more appeals court seats to fill. McConnell has responded by personally reaching out to Republican-appointed judges and encouraging them to retire so he and Trump can fill their seats this year.
Trump is a Gift according to the American Left that keeps on giving (LNP)
While some pundits extol the virtue of strong government (i.e., dictatorship) in fighting Covid-19, Middle Eastern activists are once again mobilizing to insist that democracy is not a luxury in a time of pandemic. “Systems of government that are more democratic and transparent will keep citizens safe,” argues Mai El-Sadany. Because the human rights of all citizens are at stake, not just those of a minority, she explains, “this is a unique movement of norms creation.”
With the GOP in death-cult mode, steady destruction of checks and balances previously imagined to be fail-safe, the jelly-spined leadership of the Democratic Party, and the Soviet-grade purging of any disloyalty or disobedience in the federal systems, Trump has effectively destroyed American politics.
What the actual resolution might look like, I fear to envision, but I know it will not resemble anything Americans can remember or dare to imagine.
“Trump’s defenders are saying that our Constitution does not apply to the powerful few.”
By Robert Lipsyte< Attorney General William Barr’s campaign to expand the powers of the presidency to unprecedented imperial levels has been misinterpreted as an attempt to raise Donald Trump to the level of his strongman heroes like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Jair Bolsonaro. Fake news! It’s really been an attempt to boost him into the same league with the strongman heroes of far too many American men: the head coaches of our major sports, especially football. As a gang of anti-democratic, anti-intellectual, authoritarian bullies dedicated to winning at any cost, they have paved the way for Donald Trump and his “base.”
If the American political class were interested in electing a decent president, perhaps even one with moral courage, personal dignity, and an inspirational vision, they would be concentrating on the character, philosophy, and background of the candidates, right? But since those in the political arena, at least brand Republican, are mostly concerned with donor dollars, expanding that base, and the charisma of their macho leader, many of them are all too ready to follow a big, loud, glad-handing figure eager to lead us deep into crises that he — and yes, it is a “he” — will claim only he can bulldoze through.
The problem is: democracies can’t function properly if there isn’t a shared truth, no matter how broad, among the voting public.
And yes, the split in our shared reality didn’t happen overnight. It has eroded for years with the help a strident, polarising Murdoch media and talkback radio, much of which is spread widely online.
But social media’s ability to filter the facts, and experience, has accelerated this trend to a crisis level.
This is something being learned the hard way in the US, when life and death decisions are being taken on worldviews that are only half-shared within the nation.
Instead it delights in thumbing its nose at democracy and transparency; turning its back on expert advice.
Above all, as the Liberal Forum annual gathering at Kevin McCann’s pad in Mosman last week so powerfully attests this is a government that has betrayed any ideals it may once have had in favour of Machiavellian pragmatism to keep itself in power for power’s sake and to serve the interests of its powerful corporate backers. It is not just a degenerate form of its earlier self; it is in a dangerously dysfunctional state of decay.
The removal of Trump from office would not threaten corporate power. It would not restore civil liberties, including our right to privacy and due process. It would not demilitarize the police or champion the rights of the working class. It would not impede the profits of the fossil fuel and banking industries. It would not address the climate emergency. It would not disrupt the warrantless surveillance of the public. It would not end extraordinary renditions, the kidnapping of those around the globe considered to be enemies of the state. It would not halt the assassinations by militarized drones. It would not halt the separation of children from their parents and the warehousing of these children in filthy, overcrowded conditions. It would not remedy the consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchs and the further impoverishment of the citizenry. The expansion of our prison system and of black sites throughout the world, sites where we torture, would continue, as would the gunning down of poor, unarmed citizens in urban wastelands. Most importantly, the catastrophic foreign wars that have resulted in a series of failed states and wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars, would remain sacrosanct, enthusiastically embraced by the leaders of the two ruling parties, puppets of the deep state.
That’s not America. After all, Lady Liberty used to welcome newcomers with a torch, not an AR-15. We don’t wall ourselves in while bombing others in distant parts of the world, right?
Militarism in the USA & The Decay of Democracy
Democracy shouldn’t be about celebrating overlords in uniform. A now-widely accepted belief is that America is more divided, more partisan than ever, approaching perhaps a new civil war, as echoed in the rhetoric of our current president. Small wonder that inflammatory rhetoric is thriving and the list of this country’s enemies lengthening when Americans themselves have so softly yet fervently embraced militarism.
the President of the United States brazenly “colluded” with two foreign powers (to coin a term), publicly encouraging them to attack one of his domestic political opponents—the very thing the Founders most feared, and which they created the mechanism of impeachment to address. Yet the silence from the President’s party thus far has been deafening. Are we going to be a representative democracy ruled by law, or an autocracy led by a despot? Is the modern GOP really willing to burn the entire foundation of our republic to the ground in order to maintain its hold on power? (Rhetorical question. We know by now that they are.)
The modern Republican Party is about to decide just how savagely history will remember it. And if we as a nation allow them to get away with it, we deserve what we get.
Where you have media like Murdoch, 2GB and Ch9 how on earth can you distinguish what’s business, political donation and lobbying. Let’s face it Alan Jones Andrew Bolt are paid lobbyists. (ODT)
Something as transformative as the Green New Deal — a democratically achieved Climate Leviathan — will not come about because the Democratic Party or Xi Jinping or the U.N. secretary general suddenly realizes that radical change is necessary, nor simply through ordinary parliamentary and congressional procedure. Major change of this sort could only come from a far more basic form of democracy: people in the streets engaged in actions like school strikes and coal mine blockades. This is the kind of pressure that progressive legislators could then use to push through a mutually agreed-upon Green New Deal capable of building a powerful administrative force that might convince or coerce everyone into preserving the global commons.
Bad blood between media chiefs and the Morrison government deepened on Friday after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton rejected demands to drop police action against three high-profile journalists and implied the reporters committed a crime by receiving top-secret documents.
Mr Dutton on Friday rejected demands from media chiefs to drop any action against the reporters, arguing “nobody is above the law”.
“I think it is up to the police to investigate, to do it independently and make a decision about whether or not they prosecute,” he told Nine’s Today program.
“We are seeing a lot of backsliding around the world in democratic societies around basic protections, and a lot of it has been digital interference [with press freedoms],” he said, citing newly intrusive laws in France and Britain.
“Australia is following that line. But I think it’s also gone a lot further.”
“We are in a golden age of surveillance: all these digital tools of convenience [we use] have given governments enormous technological power to get access to everything we do and everything we say,” he said.
“There is this deeply unfortunate confluence of post-9/11 and the rise of the digital age that made it close to impossible to protect the privacy of [journalistic] work.
“People could care less about journalists. But they should care about the possibility in the future to have adequate and accurate information about what their governments are doing.”
My thought for the day
“You cannot possibly believe in democracy if at the same time you think your party is the only one that should ever win.” (John Lord)
Thirty-seven percent of American citizens are socialist or communist. That’s far more people than voted for either Hillary Clinton (28% of eligible voters) or Donald Trump (27%) in 2016.
The majority is voiceless. A privileged minority rules. The United States is a political apartheid state.
If the Left were allowed on the ballot in this fake democracy, given space in newspapers and on television, invited to join political debates, and if it wasn’t brutally suppressed by the police and FBI, the Left wouldn’t need to wage a revolution in order to take over the country. Leftists could easily win at the ballot box if America were a real democracy.
Democracy depends on Civic Mobilisation
In response to John Pesutto (‘The Age’, 14/4). What critics don’t seem to realise is that the strength of a democracy can hinge on the mobilisation and activity of its civil society. If we do not accept protest and civil disobedience, we are weakening the fabric of our democracy. Indeed, an active civil society is a safeguard for democracy’s long-term preservation. Perhaps free speech should not be ‘absolute’, but every time we weaken its universality, we set a precedent which ‘could come back to bite’ progressive forces later down the track. Further, Left advocates usually do not have the same opportunity to express their views. And by ‘Left’ I include left social democrats and democratic socialists. And even the more radical have a right for their ideas to be tested. When on the odd occasion a left-wing commentator appears on the ABC there are calls of ‘bias’. But Left views are almost absent in Newscorp newspapers ; and ‘The Age’ has moved to the relative Centre. What we need is a truly strong pluralism in our democracy. A ‘battlefield of ideas’ where journalists do not try and manipulate ; but rather a genuine, inclusive and honest contest of analysis and values.
Journalists are under no obligation to uncritically repeat and adopt false information from the Liberal government. Footy is a game, but politics is not. The public need journalists to blow the whistle in the interests of democracy. If they continue to fail to do this, they are forgetting the very reason they exist.
Let’s face it Murdoch’s business model is integrated with where the money and power is and it’s not in the grips of 99% of individual Australians who in the main only say hi to their fellow Australians in passing. News Corp is an instrument ensuring division in diversity not the unity of Multiculturalism we are all so proud of. (ODT)
This year will be an important year for three of the world’s oldest, continuing democracies – the United States, the UK and Australia.
The US will decide, post-Mueller, whether Trump’s presidency is terminal. The UK will decide whether to tear up a half a century of European integration. And Australia faces a general election.
The core objective of course is to avoid a Royal Commission that would lay bare the the way US Citizen Murdoch does business.
This popular belief that nobody really does or can know anything is the perfect soil for an authoritarian leader to take root.
Only if we can trust each other to try to be honest can we hope to rebuild something resembling a truly functioning democracy. Otherwise, sooner or later this country will be seduced by the siren song of yet another strong and authoritative voice.
Humans are finite creatures and any truth we lay claim to will of necessity be partial, multi-faceted, and complex. At our best, we see only part of what is there and articulate only part of what we see. The promise of democracy — when it works — is the possibility of combining all those partially glimpsed and imperfectly reported realities into a still imperfect, but nevertheless better, whole.
Mr Trump, as we well know, isn’t particularly partial to “facts”. He didn’t care about them in 1989 when he took out a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty for a group of innocent teenagers, and he doesn’t care about them now.
Mr Trump knows he’s lying. He doesn’t care. His supporters know he’s lying. They don’t care either.
On April 9, 2019, Israel will hold general elections. Israelis will head to the polls to choose their elected leaders and representatives. If they are unhappy with the way things are going, like citizens of democracies around the world, their votes will help shape the ideological and political direction of the government and the institutions it controls.
When a Corporation controls the State you have Mussolini’s version of heaven (ODT)
Going after Labor leaders is one of Rupert’s favourite pastimes. Rather than hunting lions in Africa or tigers on the Punjab – That’s way too dangerous and way too hard and goes nowhere towards right wing corporate control and exploitation of society.
If there’s one man in the world who might ever possibly build a device to control the weather and freeze us all unless the governments of the world pay him several hundred billion dollars and recognize Fox News’s copyright of the phrase “Fair and Balanced,” it would be Rupert.
leaked audio of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp—currently under fire for spearheading voter suppression efforts as he also runs for governor of the state—saying that the get-out-the-vote operation of his Democratic challenger “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote.”
In the 21-minute recording of Kemp’s remarks at a closed-door campaign event in Atlanta on Friday, obtained by Rolling Stone, he expressed concerns about Stacey Abrams’s voter turnout mobilization, which has ramped up in response to Kemp suspending more than 53,000 voting registrations—mostly of black voters—and purging 107,000 more from the rolls.
Why the ABC is essential
The singling out of ABC journalists tends to confirm that it is not just a matter of correcting errors of fact as the government maintains but, rather, a desire to eliminate dissent, as Waleed Aly writes for Fairfax. Aly contends that the week is one in which the ABC has been recast as an organisation more concerned with keeping the government happy than with the non-negotiability of journalistic independence.
For Ali, “it’s about a civic culture that is slowly falling apart: a political class with fewer civic boundaries, less concerned with the independence of institutions, and a muscular intolerance of dissent.
It’s also a ruling class is happy to cling to power by mounting increasingly legalistic, hair-splitting defences.
But common to all democracies is a free press. Some of these even have a proudly independent national broadcaster free from political interference. And they’ve cut away the dead albatross; the decay corpse of neoliberalism from around their necks leaving them to invest in schools and hospitals not the service delivery of privatised and outsourced health care and educational options. And banks set up not to profit out of need and vulnerability but to supply the funds to develop a civil society.
When Australian Conservatives conflate Australia with all Australians and then claim disagreeing with their prescribed laws,policies, actions and ideology amounts to being unpatriotic then the most unpatriotic and undemocratic claims are being made by Conservatives themselves.(ODT)
The ongoing fight in Britain is fundamentally not over those few marginal racists who still believe in some Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, but over whether labeling Israel as a colonial-settler state is anti-Semitic, or whether anti-colonial resistance to Israeli settler-colonialism and racist laws constitutes anti-Semitism, or whether questioning the legal and institutional religious, racial and colonial privileges accorded to Israeli Jews over the indigenous Palestinians constitutes anti-Semitism.In naming its state “the Jewish people,” the Zionist movement conflated and conflates its colonial project with all Jews, even when the majority of world Jewry did not support the movement and continues to refuse to live in, and become citizens of, Israel
This is a most perplexing debate for any political observer, as it is Israel that claims to be “the Jewish state,” and that it represents the Jews of the world, even though a majority of them are not Israeli citizens.
Supporters of Israel cannot have it both ways: They cannot claim that the Zionist movement has a right to colonize the land of the Palestinians in the name of Jews, and that the movement has the right to privilege Jews and to oppress and discriminate against the Palestinian people in the name of Jewish people, and that it has the right to pass racist laws in the name of Jews, and that it has a right to name its state “the Jewish people” for whom it speaks, and then after all that advance the claim that those who condemn Israel are condemning Jews.
The narrative needs to change to reflect the democratic reality that governments work for us, writes Noely Neate.
Climate activists across the globe celebrated Thursday after the lower house of the Irish legislature passed a divestment bill with support from all parties, effectively ensuring that Ireland will become the first nation in the world to fully divest public money from the fossil fuel industry.
Ms Guthrie cited a forthcoming report by Deloitte Access Economics, commissioned by the ABC, which she said would reveal the broadcaster contributed $1 billion to the national economy last financial year – about a third of which fed into the broader media landscape. In addition to its 4000 employees, the ABC helps to sustain more than 2500 full-time equivalent jobs across the supply chain – such as artists, writers and technicians – Ms Guthrie said, citing the Deloitte research.”Amid the debate over the ABC’s purpose and its funding, we should all remember that there are 2500 jobs outside public broadcasting at risk in any move to curtail our remit and activities,” she warned.
Admonishing the ABC’s critics in government, Ms Guthrie asserted there was a sinister agenda at work involving overtures to the Coalition’s base.Related Article Footage from Liberal Party meeting reveals who voted to sell the ABC “In a complex world it is too easy for the powerful to do their work in dark corners: t so-“Good journalists call that out. Today, I want to channel some of that skill and emphasise real facts in what has become an increasingly febrile debate over the value and future of the ABC.”
Media silence enabled a successful attempt by the Government to withhold information from the New England electorate in order to achieve an outcome favourable to that government. Is there much more worthy of investigation, one has to ask, than the deliberate withholding of information from voters in order to influence the outcome of an election?
Since John Howard came to prominence, and in the time since, especially under Abbott, the practice of politics now repulses people. We have been so let down by leadership that you would be hard-pressed to find 10% of the population who “trust” our politicians.
The myriad corruption scandals engulfing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have, on a near daily basis, been growing and spreading like cracks in a windshield. True or not, the the question of if King Bibi’s reign is coming to an end feels like it has officially been supplanted by predictions about when the house of cards will come crashing down.
Trump’s refusal to release the response of the Democratic minority on the House Intelligence Committee to the declassified Nunes memo cherry-picking intelligence reports has been decried as a politicization of intelligence. It has been pointed out by legal scholar Laurence Tribe that Congress could in any case override Trump and declassify the Democratic response itself, if the GOP representatives wanted to. So this controversy isn’t about Trump or Nunes. It is about a Republican Party determined not to play fair.
While these analyses is certainly correct, they miss a crucial problem with our declining democracy in the United States: classified documents are inherently undemocratic and should be rare.
– Essentially an offer that says ‘Get Out or We Will Make Your Life a Living Hell, or Worse.’The Platform Provides 3 Choices for Palestinians: Accept Ethnic Cleansing, Bend the Knee to Apartheid or Expect Even More Violence
Perhaps the good judges did not review the results of a 2016 public opinion survey, by +972 Magazine’s own Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, which found that only 45 percent of Jewish Israelis had a favorable opinion of “human rights.” Asked specifically about human rights “organizations,” those favorability numbers dropped to 31 percent — a marked deterioration from a similar survey conducted five years earlier.
Source: Bulldust | The Monthly
The future of journalism and democracy lies in news and analysis that reflects the interests of ordinary people, says John Passant.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand the consequences for democracy if we lose investigative reporters to an army of Perez Hiltons. Should we consider public funding?
After 10 months of administrative detention, it appears the army no longer views Omar Nazzal as a dangerous threat — just like countless other administrative detainees who sit in prison for months, if not years. Palestinian journalist Omar Nazzal was released from Israeli prison on Monday after 10 months in administrative detention. Upon his release, Nazzal, a member of the General Secretariat of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, was welcomed by family members and supporters outside Ofer military prison, near Ramallah. [tmwinpost] Nazzal, 55, was first detained in April at Allenby Bridge while trying to leave the West Bank en route to an…
Greg Palast’s documentary told how millions of minority votes were discounted through a voter crosscheck program. Now, Palast demands that the DOJ investigate the crosscheck system.
Donald Trump’s tweets yesterday about “the millions of people who voted illegally in 2016” and “serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California” cannot be dismissed as just another Twitter meltdown from the president-elect.