Showing posts with label election fraud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label election fraud. Show all posts

10.31.2017

the worst part of trump is not trump

The freak show that is the Donald Trump presidency gives us so many things to lament, and mourn, and goggle at. But for one organization, it is a singular gift, valuable beyond all measure: that is the Democratic National Committee.

For me, the worst part of the Trump presidency is not Trump. It is the enormous setback to -- maybe the death of, in my lifetime -- building a progressive alternative in the United States.

Four decades of deindustrialization, job loss, corporate welfare, and ever-widening income inequality has brought progressive economic ideas to the forefront in the US, and has rejuvenated the appetite for making them a reality. The evidence is plentiful, from the fight for a $15/hour minimum wage to the jubilant crowds that greeted Bernie Sanders at every campaign stop. People are hungry for change, and many people are hungry for change from the left.

Fill in the blanks. A vote for ____ is a vote for ____.

And now we have Trump.

Hillary Clinton supporters -- and of course Clinton herself -- blame Sanders and Sanders' supporters for the election of Donald Trump.

While not surprising, this is as misguided as those who blamed Ralph Nader and his supporters for George W. Bush's installation in the White House in 2004. It has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that both the 2000 and 2004 elections were riddled with fraud and vote-fixing. Florida alone was the product of massive fraud, and the Supreme Court (not the voters) decided the results, something at least one Supreme Court justice regrets. Yet loyal Democrat voters blame Nader -- and they vowed never to let it happen again.

This time, there is plenty of blame to go around, beginning with the corruption and arrogance of the DNC, insisting on running the candidate who was anointed by the party, rather than one who was chosen, you know, by the voters. They did everything they could do rig the results, and when that didn't work, invoked arcane rules that were designed to thwart democracy. When they were caught, the DNC defended their actions. (The lawsuit against the DNC was not dismissed because it lacked merit, but because the judge ruled it was not a matter for the judiciary.)

In the DNC's bubble of unchallenged power, they overlooked one crucial variable: people loathe Hillary Clinton. It doesn't matter why. It doesn't matter if it's based on fact or fiction or how much sexism is or isn't mixed in. Millions of people detest her and would never vote for her, no matter what the choices.

If Sanders supporters chose Trump over Clinton, that's not Sanders' fault. It's Clinton's, and it's the DNC's. But like Homer Simpson, the DNC cannot accept responsibility for any outcome. It's Sanders' fault. It's the fault of you people for wanting to build a movement for economic justice.

Learning all the wrong lessons

Now that we're witnessing the debacle of the Trump White House, the lesson could not be clearer: don't ever dare vote for a third party, or this is what will happen. You must vote Democrat, no matter what. If you dare to start building a viable party on the left, you will move the country even further to the right (even if only in appearance). Millions of anti-Trump voters now believe more strongly than ever that it is their sworn duty to Always Vote Democrat, no matter what. This must be an especially powerful lesson for the young voters who rallied around Sanders.

For decades, Allan and I have referred to "the circus coming to town" as a shorthand for the theatre of  US election campaigns, lending a thin (and getting ever thinner!) veneer of democracy to a corrupt, undemocratic system. This time, the circus never ended. The threat of real change on the left was more feasible than it had been in a long time, so the distraction had to be even bigger and more lurid.

As I was writing this, as if on cue, an Economist/YouGov poll found that 51 percent of Democrat voters now have a favourable opinion of George W. Bush. If Democrat voters feel that way about Bush, any Democrat candidate who can put a sentence together -- anyone who waves the words "woman's right to choose" and "the rights of all families" around -- will get their vote.

The worst part of Trump is not Trump.

The worst part of Trump is the lost hope of building a new party.

* Personal disclosure, to avoid assumptions. Although I am a dual citizen (Canada-US) and am eligible to vote with an absentee ballot, I do not vote in US elections. While I agree with Bernie Sanders' ideas and his platform, I did not support him. Sanders played the role historically assigned to the most left-leaning Democrat in the primaries, used by the party to bring in the progressive vote. There's one in every election. They do their job and are never heard from again. In Congress, Sanders voted with the Democrats 98% of the time.

11.12.2016

president trump: what didn't just happen

Since I'm making an effort to put more of my thoughts here, I'm gathering up a bunch of my Facebook posts and responses. If we know each other on Facebook, apologies for the repetition.

I find much of the analysis and commentary I've seen about the recent US election to be quite strange. Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. That happened. Here's what didn't happen.

1. "The United States is a democracy. The people chose Trump, end of story."

60,467,601 US voters chose Hillary Clinton.

60,072,551 US voters chose Donald Trump.

More than 100,000,000 Americans eligible to vote did not vote.

More than 5 million Americans cannot vote because they are either incarcerated or have been incarcerated, and thus have been disenfranchised.

There has been rampant voter suppression and vote fraud in both the primaries and the general election.

The United States is also a democracy if you close your eyes and stop up your ears.

Some views on winning the vote but losing the election from: The Guardian, The Independent, and The Atlantic.

2. "If only it had been Bernie!"

Bernie Sanders was never, for one moment, going to be the Democrat nominee. He was not leading a revolution, he was not even leading a movement. If he wanted to do those things, he would not have been running as a Democrat, and he would not have voted in line with the Democrats 98% of the time during his Congressional career. His role in the race was to bring in the left-of-liberal vote and that's what he did.

However, if Sanders had been the Democratic nominee, where would he have gotten more votes than Clinton? In Vermont, and possibly in New York and California -- i.e., states that went to the Democrats anyway. Because of the electoral college and the winner-take-all state-by-state system, recent presidential elections come down to a small number of swing states. I see no evidence that a more progressive candidate would have succeeded where Clinton failed in key swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and North Carolina.

"If only it had been Bernie" assumes that a sizeable number of voters with strong progressive values opted to stay home in large numbers, rather than vote either Democrat or for a third-party candidate. This is possible, but not likely. Voters progressive enough to vote for Sanders likely would have voted to stop Trump.

"If only it had been Bernie" posits that a Jewish socialist born in New York City, a long-time representative of the liberal state of Vermont, would have carried the key swing states. Let's just say this strains credulity and leave it at that.

I do want, have always wanted, a progressive candidate to take on the Republicans, someone who actually offers a different vision of the country's future. By running as a Democrat, endorsing Clinton, and urging his supporters to vote for Clinton, Sanders demonstrated that he was not that candidate and never was.

3. Hillary Clinton is a good, strong, liberal woman of the people, and she deserved to win. She lost because of sexism and misogyny.

There's plenty of misogyny to go around, but the sexism smokescreen isn't big enough to hide Hillary Clinton's monstrous record.

Thomas Frank, writing in The Guardian:
She was the Democratic candidate because it was her turn and because a Clinton victory would have moved every Democrat in Washington up a notch. Whether or not she would win was always a secondary matter, something that was taken for granted. . . . And so Democratic leaders made Hillary their candidate even though they knew about her closeness to the banks, her fondness for war, and her unique vulnerability on the trade issue – each of which Trump exploited to the fullest. . . .

To try to put over such a nominee while screaming that the Republican is a rightwing monster is to court disbelief. If Trump is a fascist, as liberals often said, Democrats should have put in their strongest player to stop him, not a party hack they'd chosen because it was her turn. Choosing her indicated either that Democrats didn't mean what they said about Trump’s riskiness, that their opportunism took precedence over the country's well-being, or maybe both. . . .

Clinton’s supporters among the media didn’t help much, either. It always struck me as strange that such an unpopular candidate enjoyed such robust and unanimous endorsements from the editorial and opinion pages of the nation’s papers, but it was the quality of the media’s enthusiasm that really harmed her. With the same arguments repeated over and over, two or three times a day, with nuance and contrary views all deleted, the act of opening the newspaper started to feel like tuning in to a Cold War propaganda station. Here’s what it consisted of:
- Hillary was virtually without flaws. She was a peerless leader clad in saintly white, a super-lawyer, a caring benefactor of women and children, a warrior for social justice.
- Her scandals weren’t real.
- The economy was doing well / America was already great.
- Working-class people weren’t supporting Trump.
- And if they were, it was only because they were botched humans. Racism was the only conceivable reason for lining up with the Republican candidate. (See original for links.)

The even larger problem is that there is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone – except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman. The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the "last thing standing" between us and the end of the world. It is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability.
Jeffrey St. Clair, Counterpunch:
The DNC spent more time conspiring to defeat Bernie Sanders, than they did the Republicans. They absorbed nothing from the Sanders campaign, from the issues that resonated with his followers: a corrupt system fueled by corporate cash and militarism, working class people demeaned and ridiculed, the American youth burdened by debt with no opportunity for advancement, blacks and Hispanics treated as political chattel, captives to a party that demands their loyalty yet does nothing for them. The Clinton team vanquished Sanders, paid him off and then marched on arrogantly toward their doom.

Clinton herself showed a singular lack of courage to the very end of her campaign. She couldn't even speak out against the brutalization of tribal people in North Dakota defending their water and burial grounds against the mercenaries of Big Oil. How could anyone look at her silence in the face of those ongoing atrocities and believe that she'd ever stand up for them?
Robert Scheer, Truth Dig:
What you have is a defeat of elitism. Clinton's arrogance was on full display with the revelation of her speeches cozying up to Goldman Sachs—the bank that caused this misery more than any other—and the irony of this is not lost on the people who are hurting and can't pay their bills.
4. People voted for Donald Trump because they are racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and ignorant.

Many Americans are indeed all of those things, and obviously Donald Trump appealed to voters on that level. But Trump was able to fashion those beliefs into a campaign because of the Democrats' abandonment of the American working class.

Sorry to Godwin here, but remember how we all learned how post-WWI Germany was in the throes of a gargantuan economic crisis, and that Hitler was able to blame all that on the Jews, by tapping into a hatred that was already there? Does this not ring a bell?

Do not underestimate the economic crisis in the United States. People are not just unemployed -- they are without hope. No party has been willing to change the laws that allowed corporations to move operations to countries without environmental and labour protections, with an ocean of cheap, surplus labour, and to pay no taxes while doing so. The election finance system ensures that any attempt to change this would result in political suicide. So what used to be the middle class tries to scrape by on sales commissions, retail and fast-food, and what used to be the working class is just plain poor.

For decades Americans have seen their prospects for a decent life evaporate, and the Democrats, once considered the party of the working class, did nothing but help that happen, caring more about its corporate masters than ordinary voters. The white working class was primed ready to see their bigotry legitimized, and their suffering answered with scapegoating. It's much easier to point a finger at "those people" than to do the hard work of rebuilding the manufacturing sector.

Donald Trump didn't invent that ugly stew of bigotry. We all know that. But the Democrats' abandonment of the working class created the anger and frustration, and the vacuum of hope, that paved the way for Trump.

People are suffering. They have been suffering a long time. The Democrats have been ignoring their suffering. And now they -- and the American people -- have paid a very high price.

Joshua Frank, Counterpunch:
...no matter what bullshit excuse Democrats come up with for Hillary's historic embarrassment, they have only themselves to blame. She lost because she deserved to lose. She ran an awful campaign, mired in controversy, and was unable to excite voters to the polls. She believed neoliberalism could carry the day, but she was wrong. The DNC was wrong. The establishment lost because the establishment deserved its fate.

By no means does this imply Trump will overthrow the status quo, it only means the outsider Trump was better able to exploit the boiling rage of middle America. All the workers who were undercut by Bill Clinton's NAFTA. The hundreds of thousands that never rebounded from the Bush recession. Trump provided an outlet of hope for these lost souls – a fabricated hope no doubt, but hope nonetheless – gift wrapped in rage. His mastery of social media, of vindictive and racist rhetoric, helped him gut the provincial electorate.
Richard Moser, Counterpunch:
The Democrats were oblivious to the deep discontent among the American people because that simply does not figure into their clever and cunning calculations. Why should it? Fear, lesser of two evils, scapegoating, palace politics — all these things worked in the past, didn't they?

So all the discontent and unhappiness from years of economic distress fed right into the only other choice. We have the "great two party system" don't we? Both Democrats and Republicans insist there is no alternative. ...

The Democrats run a candidate who spent eight years in the White House, crow about her experience, even when the experience included the fact that Bill Clinton was IMPEACHED and widely viewed as a bum. The Democrats embrace a family dynasty the includes one of the two presidents in all of American history impeached by the House of Representatives. Good choice!

This has to be one of the most amazing proofs that the Democratic Party echo chamber is truly deafening.
Robert Scheer again:
The people Hillary Clinton derided as a “basket of deplorables” have spoken. They have voted out of the pain of their economic misfortune, which Clinton’s branch of the Democratic Party helped engender.

. . . It’s a repudiation of the arrogant elitism of the Democratic Party machine as represented by the Clintons, whose radical deregulation of Wall Street created this mess. And instead of recognizing the error of their ways and standing up to the banks, Clinton’s campaign cozied up to them, and that did not give people who are hurting confidence that she would respond to their needs or that she gave a damn about their suffering. She’s terminally tone-deaf.

So too were the mainstream media, which treated the wreckage of the Great Recession as a minor inconvenience, ignoring the deep suffering of the many millions who lost their homes, savings and jobs. The candidate of Goldman Sachs was defeated, unfortunately by a billionaire exemplar of everything that’s evil in late-stage capitalism, who will now worsen instead of fix the system. Thanks to the arrogance of the Democratic Party leadership that stifled the Sanders revolution, we are entering a very dangerous period with a Trump presidency, and this will be a time to see whether our system of checks and balances functions as our Founding Fathers intended

Make no mistake about it: This is a crisis of confidence for America’s ruling elite that far surpasses Nixon’s Watergate scandal. They were the enablers of radical deregulation that betrayed Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s contract with the American people in the wake of the Great Depression. The people are hurting, and regrettably, Trump was the only vehicle presented to them by either major party in the general election to register their deepest discontent. The Trump voters are the messenger; don’t demonize them in an effort to salvage the prestige of the superrich elite that has temporarily lost its grip on the main levers of power in this nation.

Thankfully, the Clinton era is over, and the sick notion that the Democratic Party of FDR needed to find a new home in the temples of Wall Street greed has been rudely shattered by the deep anger of the very folks that the Democrats had presumed to represent. That includes working-class women, who failed to respond to the siren song of Clinton, whom the Democratic hacks offered instead of a true progressive like Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Yes, we need a female president, but not in the mold of Margaret Thatcher.
Scheer, I should note, believes that Sanders would have defeated Trump in a progressive populist versus neofascist populist showdown. If Sanders was not actually a Democrat, I might have believed that, too.

Michael Laxer, The Left Chapter, "The wages of liberalism is Trump":
Much of the worst damage actually happened under Democrats. It should never be forgotten that it was Bill Clinton who helped to destroy the American liberal post-war state. Nor the role the Clinton Presidency played in the passing of sweeping and deeply racist crime bills that imprisoned and also disenfranchised millions of people-of-colour in the United States. . . . .

It was bizarre, as so many apologists for Clinton and the Democrats did, to go on about the alleged achievements of "incrementalism" or Democratic governance when it is easy to prove that the United States has gone dramatically to the right in every meaningful economic sense and when inequality is greater than it has been since the 1920s.

This did not change in any real way at all under Obama, a fact that is easily demonstrated.

Liberals and social democrats have failed workers and people living in poverty so spectacularly that it is impossible to overstate the extent.

This is a day-to-day lived reality for staggering numbers of people and telling those who might well be inclined to support something that rejects what has happened around them that your candidate and party are singularly qualified to stay the course due to their experience over this time in having done so, was both typically liberal and the worst form of political folly. It was a blind and bizarre self-defeating arrogance, that was profoundly, truly, madly, deeply foolhardy in its timing.
(Thanks to Allan for collecting these.)

5. We know what lies ahead.

In fact, we don't. This may have been merely an upset in the polls. Or it may be a sea change in US politics. I don't know what's coming and neither do you. That's why we're all so afraid.

2.10.2014

today: call your m.p.! stop the (un)fair elections act!

I trust by now you've all heard about Stephen Harper's latest plan to undermine democracy in Canada, his electoral reform bill that the chief electoral officer of the country has called an affront to democracy.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand told CBC: "My reading of the act is that I can no longer speak about democracy in this country." Now, as per usual, the Harpercrats want to pass the bill before it can be properly debated. It was just introduced a few days ago, but could be adopted by the House of Commons as early as today or tomorrow.

The so-called Fair Elections Act would:


- make it more difficult for people to vote,

- would disproportionately impact students and youth, Indigenous people, seniors, people on low-incomes, and people who didn’t vote Conservative in previous elections,

- do nothing to bring to justice the people behind the widespread election fraud in 2011, and

- would actually make it harder to catch perpetrators of election fraud.

The Council of Canadians sent an action alert about this on Friday, and in just 24 hours, an astounding 20,000 people signed a petition calling on Stephen Harper to "investigate and prevent electoral fraud with a truly fair Elections Act". You can sign the petition here.

Now the Council is asking us to (literally) voice our concerns. Today, Monday, February 10, there will be a mass call-in to all Members of Parliament, asking them to take the time to properly study this bill and address its many shortcomings.

If you live or work in Ottawa, you can grab your cell phone and join the Council of Canadians at 12:30 p.m. on Parliament Hill. MP Craig Scott, Official Opposition Critic for Democratic and Parliamentary Reform, will be there to accept the petition.

Everyone else, please take a few minutes today and call your MP. Tell her or him you expect to see open debate on a bill of this importance, and you want to at least see the worst aspects of the bill scrapped.

Click here to find your MP using your postal code.

7.01.2013

happy canada day, a/k/a national stop harper day

This week, pollster คาสิโนออนไลน์ แจกเครดิตฟรี 2019Nik Nanos revealed that 51.5% of Canadian voters would not consider voting for the Conservative party, compared to 36.4% only seven months ago.

I don't play the national pastime - election prediction - so I won't speculate about if or how this poll will translate on the ground. Whether we'll have to wait until 2015 to get rid of this corrupt, fraudulent, anti-democracy, anti-human, anti-labour, anti-environment, corporate government - and whether Canadian voters will be hoodwinked by another party with almost identical policies but a friendlier face (and famous last name) - remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, all we can do is educate and mobilize. In Egypt yesterday, nearly as many people as live in our entire country were in the streets, demanding the "president" resign. In Brazil, people who live in the vast favelas (shantytowns) joined the massive, ongoing protests that overshadowed the football tournament. Compared to these inspiring examples, the organizing in Canada is microscopic. On the other hand, 2012 National Stop Harper Day saw events in 11 cities; this year that number is 22.

Some sources give June 28 as National Stop Harper Day and July 1 as Save Canada Day; others only use the July 1 date. I'm just glad people are organizing. One way to get involved is to support the Democracy 24/7 campaign. Demand fair elections. That would be a start.

5.31.2013

election fraud ruling: demand to know the truth

While everyone's been glued to Rob Ford's crack and Mike Duffy's featherbedding, something even more important happened: the Federal Court confirmed that there was election fraud in the 2011 federal election.

Not just "robocalls" - that diminutive buzzword that the media clings to - but election fraud: a deliberate, targeted attempt at voter suppression. The conservative media has framed the ruling as a victory for the Harper GovernmentTM, because the court stopped short of nullifying the election results. But the ruling was very clear. Judge Richard Mosley wrote:
I find that electoral fraud occurred during the 41st General Election.
Some important and potentially damning details still have not been revealed. Who had access to the Conservative Party's database? Who orchestrated and authorized the election fraud? Let's join the Council of Canadians in demanding the Conservative Party answer those questions. They won't do it, of course. But let's show them we're paying attention.

Go here to send your letter through the Council of Canadians.

* * * *

The ruling itself could not be clearer. Here are some choice excerpts. (A copy is posted here.)

* "Misleading calls about the locations of polling stations were made to electors in ridings across the country" . . . and the calls "appear to have been targeted towards voters who had previously expressed a preference for an opposition party."

* 247 ridings were affected by fraud complaints.

* There was a "deliberate attempt at voter suppression during the 2011 election."

* "Access to a party’s central database is carefully controlled. The calls at issue in these proceedings are most likely to have been organized by a person or persons with: i) access to the central information system of a political party that included contact information about non-supporters; ii) the financial resources to contract voice and automated service providers to make such calls; and iii) the authority to make such decisions."

* "There was an orchestrated effort to suppress votes during the 2011 election campaign by a person or persons with access to the CIMS [Conservative party] database."

* "RMG [marketing company], at the direction of the CPC [Conservative Party of Canada], called hundreds of thousands of electors and read a message stating that: “Elections Canada has changed some voting locations at the last minute”. This included calls to electors in five of the six subject ridings. The information was factually wrong in that there had been only one polling station change in all of the six subject ridings in which RMG made such calls….It was therefore improper for the CPC and RMG to deliver the message they did, and this should not recur."

* "I am satisfied that [it] has been established that misleading calls about the locations of polling stations were made to electors in ridings across the country, including the subject ridings,and that the purpose of those calls was to suppress the votes of electors who had indicated their voting preference in response to earlier voter identification calls."

As Dr Dawg points out, Judge Mosley came down hard on the Conservative Party's use of the legal system to obfuscate, foot-drag, stonewall, and otherwise impede the democratic process. From the decision:

* "In reviewing the procedural history and the evidence and considering the arguments advanced by the parties at the hearing, it has seemed to me that the applicants sought to achieve and hold the high ground of promoting the integrity of the electoral process while the respondent MPs engaged in trench warfare in an effort to prevent this case from coming to a hearing on the merits."

* "Despite the obvious public interest in getting to the bottom of the allegations, the CPC made little effort to assist with the investigation at the outset despite early requests. . . . While it was begrudgingly conceded during oral argument that what occurred was “absolutely outrageous”, the record indicates that the stance taken by the respondent MPs from the outset was to block these proceedings by any means."

Judge Mosley awarded costs to the Council of Canadians, meaning the Conservative Party has been ordered to reimburse the expenses associated with all that foot-dragging and stonewalling. The Party of Transparency and Accountability strikes again.

* * * *

The Council of Canadians is calling on the Conservative Party to come clean: give us a list of everyone who had access to the national CIMS database and the authority to initiate those calls, and turn over the information to the Commissioner of Elections.

Let's all get on board with that. Take five minutes from your day, and write a letter. Show Stephen Harper that some Canadians are paying attention. Go here to send your letter through the Council of Canadians.

3.21.2013

hugo chavez vs lies western media tells us

Linda McQuaig recently wrote an excellent column about the blatantly false portrayal of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in the Western mainstream media. Chavez should be a hero to anyone who cares about social justice, but if your primary news sources are anywhere from CNN to the CBC to the New York Times, you might wonder why millions of Latin Americans mourned Chavez's passing rather than celebrating. You might imagine they were in the thrall of a charismatic tyrant.

I found the mainstream media's description of Chavez as a "dictator" particularly rich, given the US endured at least two fraudulent elections in recent times. Toronto activist Judy Rebick had this excellent letter in the Globe and Mail:
Your front-page article on the death of Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez (Death Of A Revolutionary – March 6), calls him “a polarizing dictator.” He was certainly polarizing, as is our own Prime Minister, but Mr. Chavez was never a dictator. Mr. Chavez was elected several times over the past three decades, each time by a significant majority of the popular vote, which is more than we can say for Stephen Harper.

In 2002, Mr. Chavez’s opponents, including the right-wing media, organized a coup against him that was overturned by the massive mobilization of the poor people of Caracas. In 2004, the opposition organized a recall vote, a mechanism created by Mr. Chavez. It failed. In the 2006 election, he won with 63 per cent of the popular vote; in 2012, with 55 per cent of the popular vote.

You may disagree with Mr. Chavez’s 21st-century socialism policies, but please do not describe him as a dictator.

Judy Rebick, Toronto
McQuaig:
Had Hugo Chavez followed the pattern of many Third World leaders and concentrated on siphoning off his nation’s wealth for personal gain, he would have attracted little attention or animosity in the West.

Instead, he did virtually the opposite — redirecting vast sums of national wealth to the swollen ranks of Venezuela’s poor, along with free health care and education. No wonder he alienated local elites, who are used to being first in line at the national trough.
Chavez’s relentless championing of the downtrodden set a standard increasingly followed in Latin America. It explains his immense popularity with the masses and the widespread grief over his death last week.

Yet in the West, he was portrayed as a tyrant.

He was accused of muzzling the press, although anyone who’s ever turned on a TV in Caracas knows there’s no shortage of Fox News-style media outlets carrying a frothy mix of celebrities, U.S. sitcoms and anti-Chavez tirades.

He was also accused of being anti-democratic, even though he won elections which former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and his global election monitoring centre have declared “the best in the world.”

Chavez deservedly came under attack in the West — including from Noam Chomsky — for failing to order the release of a judge imprisoned for allowing a corrupt banker to flee Venezuela with millions of dollars.

But it’s striking to note that the West routinely ignores more serious democratic failings on the part of its allies, including torture and execution in full-fledged dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.

What actually appears to have infuriated the western establishment was Chavez’s audacity in challenging — and scoring some victories against — western dominance of the world economy. 
One such victory allowed Third World oil-producing nations to gain a bigger share of global oil revenues.

Up until the 1970s, the major western oil companies, known as the Seven Sisters, controlled the world oil market through a cartel established at a secret retreat at Achnacarry Castle in Scotland in 1928. The Achnacarry agreement set out in detail how the companies would maintain their lucrative control of oil markets into the future, setting quotas among themselves, never competing with each other and preventing competitors from getting in on the action.

In the 1970s, oil-producing nations in the Middle East and Venezuela organized and managed to replace the Seven Sisters with their own cartel, OPEC, striking a better deal for themselves and sending oil prices soaring. Some enraged westerners were left wondering, “How did our oil get under their sand?”
Read the rest of the column here.

McQuaig is the author of It's the Crude, Dude: War, Big Oil and the Fight for the Planet, among other books. I wrote about her excellent book Holding the Bully's Coat here and posted an extended excerpt here.

12.03.2012

this is what jason kenney's canada looks like: family deported to libya, father is tortured, court cites bias and lies

A family that was ordered to leave Canada by Jason Kenney's IRB was - as they predicted - separated and detained, and the father was tortured by Libyan authorities. The Benhmuda family lived in Canada for eight years, and included two children born in this country.

As horrific as this is, the implications are even more important: the Federal Court of Canada has ordered Immigration Canada to review the Benhmuda family's case, because the case was not heard and decided fairly.
In a scathing decision late last month, Judge Mary Gleason ruled that visa officials at Canada's embassy in Rome were biased in their assessment of the family's application to return to Canada and had placed erroneous information on their file.

She ordered that the information be expunged and that the case be sent to another visa post for reassessment within 90 days.

"It really highlights some of the rogue nature of what goes on at visa posts around the world," said Andrew Brouwer, the family's lawyer in Toronto. Some officer "had the power to go directly against what everyone was saying including the United Nations."

Brouwer called the decision strong and decisive, adding, "I really think that Justice Gleason was so appalled by what had happened that she stepped a little bit outside of what judges normally do in these cases."

. . . .

When UNHCR officials saw that two of their sons were Canadian, they asked Canada to take them back. and last year Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Canadian authorities would do everything they could to help the family and promised authorities would offer "every humanitarian consideration."

But a visa officer with the Canadian embassy in Rome, Laurent Beaulieu, had a much different take.

He alleged that the family had been a drain on Canada's health and social service system and would again be dependent on social assistance, a suggestion Judge Gleason said was wrong.

During his initial time in Canada, Benhmuda had a job with an optician and had supported his family.
This is what Jason Kenney's Canada looks like.

On a related note, Elections Canada is now investigating misleading election calls in 56 ridings. The agency has received complaints from voters in 247 ridings - 80% of the country.

11.04.2012

rtod: i ain't marching (to the u.s. polls) anymore

I spent the summer and fall of 2004 working on a Get Out The Vote campaign for the Democrats, not because they were my party of choice, but because I was angry at the prospect of another stolen election, and I wanted to make a difference in the popular vote numbers. After that election was stolen, too, I stopped voting in the US.

Now, in 2012, voter suppression has reached new depths. If I still lived in the US, I don't know if I'd vote Green or not at all. Voting Green can be seen as a protest against the duopoly, and it shows support for a progressive agenda. Voting for any candidate can be seen as an endorsement of the rigged system.

I am entitled to vote in the US election by absentee ballot, but I choose not to engage in that pointless bit of theatre.

One problem with voting is the widely held assumption, seldom questioned, that voting is engagement with the political system - that it's a form of activism. Voting (when the system is fair and not rigged) is certainly very important. But it is also insufficient. For me, the heartbreak of the Obama era is not his capitulation to corporate and military interests, as I never expected anything else, but the terrible squandering of political engagement.

Vast amounts of time and energy were put into electing Obama, then most US progressives sat back and waited for change. Had even half of that effort been put into building a truly progressive movement, it might have made a difference. Change doesn't come from the top down. There has never been and never will be a progressive change in law that did not emanate from a sustained people's movement, one that finally succeeds in dragging along the elected so-called leaders. John F. Kennedy is known as the civil rights President, because the movement that began after World War II, struggled throughout the 1950s, and was finally noticed by the white media in the early 1960s, managed to overcome Kennedy's dread of alienating the white Southern vote.

When I put my recent post about abortion rights in the US on Facebook, an old friend became very angry at me. No pro-choice person can vote for Romney, she said, "so Obama is our choice". (The post doesn't suggest not voting for Obama; it says abortion rights at the federal level are a lost cause.) In response, my friend and comrade John Bell replied:
Go ahead an vote for him on Tuesday, but if on Wednesday you aren't building a movement in the street to kick his ass to the left, you are missing the point. The Chicago teachers beat the Democratic machine in that city by doing just that and frankly I find that more politically significant than this whole, sad election campaign. Women in Canada and their male allies defeated the laws against abortion by building a movement that wouldn't back down, that set up and defended clinics in defiance of the law, and that refused to bow to any party. That is the kind of movement that fueled the Roe victory in the first place, but that movement then stifled itself for a generation for fear of alienating the Democratic Party.
We're seeing great signs of hope in the Occupy movement, especially as it begins to reach beyond its original base and explore ways to broaden and sustain itself.

In keeping with these thoughts, today's Revolutionary Thought of the Day is brought to us by Sharp Pencils, the non-baseball blog of my partner Allan Wood: The Choice Is Theirs.

8.17.2012

democracy 24/7: citizens vs cons gets a court date

In case you haven't heard, a date has been set in Federal Court for hearings on the Conservative Party's vote suppression during the 2011 federal election. The hearing will begin on December 10.

The Cons have done everything in their power to scuttle this case, putting forth motion after motion to have evidence - and the entire case - thrown out. They've stalled and sidetracked and invented obstacles, but the court have taken seriously this threat to democracy. So on December 10, the citizens represented by the Council of Canadians will begin to be heard in federal court.

The most recent Conservative roadblock was a motion to require each side to put up a $250,000 security deposit against the other side's legal costs. (Meaning, the losing party will pay the other party's legal fees, and this $250,000 is proof that they can do so.) This crazy motion will be heard in about a month, on September 18.

The Council of Canadians is funding this challenge through donations from ordinary Canadian citizens: the Democracy 24-7 Legal Fund. You can donate online, or by phone or mail: information about how to donate is here. So far they've raised $200,000 of the $240,000 needed.

It's important when we talk and write about this, we call it what it is: vote suppression and election fraud. Despite what the mainstream media insists, this is not a "robocall scandal". Real people, employed by the Conservative Party of Canada or one of their subcontractors, were attempting to confuse voters and prevent them from voting. Period.

To stay updated, go to Democracy 24/7. On Twitter, it's #Democracy247.

6.26.2012

relax, canadians. voter suppression is "as old as the hills". says a cpc lawyer.

In a recent post, I summarized the Conservatives' arguments in Federal Court, as they attempted to have the case against their illegal election practices dismissed before any evidence had been heard.

I was just paraphrasing, of course. But now I have a real quote, thanks to an email sent today by the Council of Canadians.
"Voter suppression is as old as the hills".
-- Arthur Hamilton, CPC lawyer
Hey, fraudulent elections, voter intimidation, and dictatorships are the norm all over the world. Why should Canada be any different?

6.25.2012

conservative party vs council of canadians, round two

In Federal Court:*


Council of Canadians: There was vote supression in the 2011 election.

Conservative Party of Canada: Maude Barlow hates us.


Council of Canadians: There was vote supression in the 2011 election.

Conservative Party of Canada: Maude Barlow is a radical.


Council of Canadians: There was vote supression in the 2011 election.

Conservative Party of Canada: They filed their motion too late.


Council of Canadians: There was vote supression in the 2011 election.

Conservative Party of Canada: There's no proof that people didn't vote because of these phone calls.


Council of Canadians: There was vote supression in the 2011 election.

Conservative Party of Canada: This is a frivolous lawsuit.


Council of Canadians: There was vote supression in the 2011 election.






* Not actual transcript

5.18.2012

good news all around: etobicoke centre results thrown out, montreal students and unions stand united

The 2011 federal election results for Etobicoke Centre have been thrown out. Yes! We're still waiting to hear the details.

and

Unions and students are standing united against Charest's attempts to punish them and shut them down. Quebec students are fighting for all of us. If only the students of Ontario learn from them and rise up in similar fashion.

5.09.2012

july 1 2012: national stop harper day


From National Stop Harper Day:
Traditionally, July 1st is a day known as "Canada Day" by Canadians across the country. This year however, that all changes, In most cities across Canada July 1st 2012 will now be known as National Stop Harper Day. One only needs to mention Steven Harper in public and his unpopularity with Canadians becomes very apparent. Harper's general dislike isn't without merit, in fact the list of reasons is too large to fit in a regular conversation and expands daily.

The "in and out" scandal, lying about voter suppression, the F-35 debacle, muzzling scientists, opposition to environmental groups, union breaking, the tar sands... the list goes on and on. Sadly, most Canadians are only now beginning to realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg for the "Harper Government", formally known as the Canadian government.

One of his largest recent human-rights offences is the attempted implementation of Bill C-10, the Omnibus crime bill. Currently, it is being criticized by the Supreme Court of Canada, as many of its components are considered cruel and unusual punishment.

With Harpers recent unwillingness to celebrate the 30th birthday of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, his message becomes more apparent. What will be left of the Canada we used to know? We've become little more than the great black oil stain on the top of America.

So instead of celebrating Canada Day 2012, join Canadians as they take to the streets in an effort to take our Canada back! In Nelson BC they'll be highlighting the event with a day of mourning for our democracy. An old-time funeral procession for our once beloved country will make its way from downtown to the iconic Nelson bridge. In Grand Forks BC, the Canada Day Parade will now be the Stop Harper Day parade. Your help is needed, contact your local activist community!

Our voice is unified, our demands are clear. The people of Canada firstly demand fair elections, and a royal commission into the level of vote fraud in the previous election. Once the fraud is proven, we demand that all laws passed by the illegitimate Harper government be rescinded. Most of all we the Canadian people demand justice for the crimes committed by the current government, all those responsible. We demand they face the full extent of the law for their crimes.

As this event is held on a day of national pride, where Canadians will already be wearing red and waving Canadian flags, the Canadian peaceful revolution will be known as the Red Revolution. Let’s paint the country red, in the name of peace!

5.04.2012

what should be done about election fraud? vote now.

Canadians, what do you think should be done about vote suppression and potential election fraud by the Conservative Party?
If there is clear evidence that the party in power is responsible for, or complicit in, systematic election fraud, what should be done?

___ The individuals directly responsible should face criminal charges.

___ There should be criminal charges AND by-elections just in ridings that were affected.

___ There should be criminal charges AND the governor general should dissolve parliament - we should have a completely new election.
คาสิโนออนไลน์ แจกเครดิตฟรี 2019Cast your vote here!

4.19.2012

shorter wmtc: fraudulent government kills canadian environment

In case you haven't seen it yet, the Council of Canadians' investigation into election fraud has uncovered yet more damning evidence that the Harper GovernmentTM did not win its so-called majority government through democratic or legitimate means.
The Council of Canadians today released two of the documents it intends to present as evidence in support of applications by individual citizens seeking to overturn federal election results in seven ridings.

“Contrary to claims by the Conservative lawyer that our legal challenge is ‘frivolous’ and a ‘publicity stunt,’ this evidence shows that voters were deliberately misled,” says Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians. “We believe that Canadians were wrongfully denied their right to vote, and this affected the outcome of the election in these seven ridings. That is why we are asking the Court to throw out these election results.”

The first document is a sworn affidavit from Annette Desgagné, a former Responsive Marketing Group (RMG) employee who initially made calls on behalf of the Conservative Party. Three days before the election, however, she was instructed to make calls about polling location changes and was given a new script that did not indicate that she was calling on behalf of the Conservatives.

In her affidavit, Ms. Desgagné states that she specifically recalls contacting voters in the riding of Nipissing-Tamiskaming, as she needed help with the pronunciation. The second document, from Elections Canada, however, states that no polling location changes occurred in Nipissing-Tamiskaming. Only one polling location was changed out of all seven ridings.

“The Conservative talking point that any misdirection was due to an honest mistake just doesn’t add up,” says Mr. Neil.

The Council of Canadians continues to gather evidence in support of the case, and will release more as it becomes available.
Affidavits concerning all seven ridings are available as pdfs through this page.

Borys Wrzesnewskyj, the former Liberal (and liberal, and very decent) MP who lost his riding by 26 votes will be in court in a few days, contesting the results of the election.
In documents filed in court, Wrzesnewskyj's lawyers claim 181 ballots are in dispute and should be thrown out. Aside from some voters voting twice, the former MP's legal team says some voters did not properly prove their identity or were not vouched for properly when they showed up at the polling station with no identification.

Under a court order, Wrzesnewskyj's lawyers were able to examine the ballots at 10 polling divisions, as well as poll books and electors' lists at Elections Canada's office in Ottawa.

The test to declare the election invalid, and trigger a byelection (after any appeals are exhausted), would be a finding that more than 26 ballots, the losing margin, should not have been counted.
Macleans call Wrzesnewskyj's claims "unrelated to the still-simmering Robocall scandal", but that's a bit generous for my tastes. Let's just say it appears to be a different tactic used by the same party perpetrators criminals.

And in case you need a reminder of how important this is, and what's at stake, the so-called majority government has taken a giant step towards selling all Canadian resources - water, air, land, and everything in it and on it - to the highest bidder without that pesky red-tape known as environmental review. The number of federal departments and agencies that will be authorized to conduct environmental reviews will fall from 40 to three. A few bullet points from the David Suzuki Foundation:
Reviews protect people as well as natural systems

  • Canada's environmental review processes and laws are in place to safeguard our families and communities from pollution, toxic contamination and other environmental risks.

  • Today's decision to reduce Canada's environmental review processes and rush the approval of major oil and mining projects, among other industrial development, will lead to poor decisions — putting the health and safety of Canadians at risk.

  • Pay now or pay much more later

  • Rushed public review of megaprojects risks could leave citizens on the hook for multibillion dollar clean-up costs when things go wrong later.

  • Most Canadians recognize that our economy needs to shift away from overdependence on non-renewable natural resources to a cleaner, innovative, and diversified economy that protects the health and safety of Canadians — and provides more and better jobs over the long-term.

  • Canada needs a measured and thoughtful approach that ensures that we approve projects that make the greatest contribution to a cleaner, more innovate economy, not a 'rubber stamp' for non-renewable resource development at all costs.

  • Federal environment reviews matter

  • Recent reports by the Auditor General have shown that the federal government is failing to monitor oil pollution levels in our rivers and today's decision is weakening the oversight and enforcement that could lead to the approval of potentially dangerous projects.

  • Eliminating or limiting federal environmental reviews means eliminating the environmental safety net for things like fish and fish habitat, which are the federal government's legal responsibility.

  • Provincial environmental assessment processes are inconsistent from each other and often weak, lacking key safeguards of the federal process.
  • 3.12.2012

    it's not robocalls we're worried about: it's election fraud

    I know I'm not the only Canadian who is frustrated by the media's constant use of the phrase "robocall scandal," as if we're all fired up over a few unwanted phone calls. (Dr. Dawg has an excellent post about this fuzzy thinking.) Come on, people, we're talking about election fraud. Vote suppression. A deliberate attempt to mislead citizens in order to prevent them from voting.

    We're talking about a polarizing government that won majority status by squeezing past the post in some very tight races - in which there are now serious questions about the legitimacy of the vote! Robocalls are not the problem!

    And I know I'm not the only one who seriously doubts we've seen the worst of this yet, the rotten core of this corrupt, hypocritical, arrogant, anti-democratic Harper Government.

    Here's one lie exposed. If you're disturbed by the connection between the Cons up north and the Reps to our south, don't miss this essential post by Alison at Creekside: RoboCon : Republican edition.

    3.11.2012

    today in dundas square: rally for democracy!

    If you're in the GTA, here are the details.

    Rallies are being held across Canada. Check this Facebook page or do the Google to find an event near you.

    Demand a full public investigation. Demand a new election!

    3.04.2012

    sunday, march 11: toronto rally for democracy

    Yesterday the rallies kicked off in Vancouver. Next Sunday is Toronto's turn. Demand a complete, public inquiry into election fraud in the 2011 election. Demand a by-elections!

    Toronto:
    Sunday, March 11, 2012
    12:00 noon
    Yonge-Dundas Square
    On Facebook

    Facebook pages for other cities where rallies have been confirmed:
    Calgary
    Montreal
    Ottawa
    Saskatoon

    As more cities have information, they'll be listed here.

    For more information on why the present Elections Canada investigation is inadequate, see Dr. Dawg.

    3.02.2012

    avaaz petition to rcmp and elections canada to broaden investigation

    This petition from Avaaz calls on the RCMP and Elections Canada to expand their investigation beyond the one riding in Guelph, to third parties, including all robocall contracts, and all ridings where misconduct is suspected.

    Sign here.