ELECTION RIGGING AND THE DECLINE OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

THU, 10/25/2018 – BY DAN SISKEN (Occupy.com)

In the mid 1990s, scholars of politics in the Arab world published a book titled “Democracy without Democrats?” It appeared in the midst of a period of liberalization in some Arab countries that included competitive elections for parliaments and a loosening of state control over the media.

The premise was that if democratic institutions such as elections, political parties and a partially free press could be established, they might entrench a more open and liberal system of government that could evolve into a more fully democratic regime. Many of the contributors to the volume were skeptical and as matters developed in places like Jordan, Egypt and Algeria, the skeptics were proven right:

The liberal, institutional structures were not able to entrench themselves and autocrats were able to manipulate the system to maintain their power and eventually roll back the modest reforms of the period. Formal structures did not contain politics among politicians who did not have a commitment to democratic ideals and procedures.

The U.S. political system is currently undergoing its own test of the “democracy without democrats” premise – and coming to the same conclusion. Recent and ongoing developments are demonstrating that formally democratic institutions can be severely weakened by those willing, even eager, to betray democratic principles in order to maintain power.

It has long been clear that many (but not all) corporate and elite interests have not had much of a commitment to democracy, but put up with it as long as the exercise of that democracy did nothing to minimize their ability to amass wealth. It has also been clear since the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 60s that the white majority in the South has never fully reconciled with equality for African Americans, including, especially, their rights to vote and participate in government.

With the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other reforms, one might assume that the U.S. had finally emerged as a full-fledged liberal democracy, fulfilling the promises of the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the amendments that followed. But the hard-fought victories of the civil rights era met resistance nearly everywhere throughout the South, a resistance that the Republican Party began to weaponize starting with Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy” designed to appeal to whites on the basis of animus toward their black neighbors.

In addition to helping Nixon, this strategy was instrumental in the election of every future Republican president, including – especially including – Donald Trump. So, the practice of government in the U.S. was always far less democratic than assumed by the exalted language in popular culture about “our democracy,” elections, constitutional government and so on.

But more recently, this already weak commitment to democracy among conservatives has all but vanished. After the Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 that struck down key enforcement provisions of the Voting Rights Act, several states led by Republican governors and legislators moved quickly to disenfranchise black and other traditionally democratic constituencies through voter ID laws, purges of voting lists, gerrymandering and other practices.

The result, of course, is that Republicans won majorities in Congress and many state legislatures unfairly. At the presidential level, there is good evidence that strict voter ID laws repressed the vote enough to allow Donald Trump to squeeze out a narrow victory in the Electoral College. The most obvious case appears to be Wisconsin, where a voter ID law suppressed 200,000 mostly African American votes in a state Trump won by 22,000.

These undemocratic practices have continued and are likely to affect the all-important midterm elections in November. In Georgia, the state has been disallowing tens of thousands of voter registrations in an attempt to swing a very close election to the republican candidate who – wait for it – happens to be the official overseeing the voting purges.

democratic institutions, Shelby v. Holder, authoritarianism, Voting Rights Act, voter ID laws, voter suppression tactics, gerrymandering, Electoral College, Donald Trump, GOP election rigging, Republican vote stealing

In North Dakota, the Supreme Court with its new reactionary majority, has allowed the state to reject voter IDs for people without street addresses, thereby disenfranchising thousands of native Americans living on reservations. These citizens, who normally favor Democrats, have used PO boxes as their official addresses for decades.

These are tactics used by autocrats the world over to maintain power in authoritarian states. That they are widely practiced in the U.S. is a scandal and a blot of shame on our country. What is especially troubling for the prospect of some sort of restoration of democratic practice is that the entirety of the Republican Party has internalized this behavior.

It is not just a few dirty tricks here and there: It is a political modus operandi the GOP feels is legitimate, even necessary, in their desperation to maintain power vis-a-vis the majority of citizens whose economic interests they don’t represent. In other words, full-on authoritarian practices have become normalized within one of our two main political parties.

So back to the original question: Can democracy exist when major actors in a country do not subscribe to the basic rules of the road? The question answers itself, as has become obvious the past two years. Without fair elections where all citizens are enfranchised, we do not have a functional democracy. What we do have is a hybrid system of authoritarian control with semi-democratic, but still consequential, elections used by the ruling minority to maintain its power by rigging voting to the extent it can get away with.

At the same time, there is resistance by the opposition party, much of the press, federal courts below the Supreme Court, and by ordinary citizens who have a commitment to democracy. The Republicans do everything they can to rig the system, but they have not been able so far to impose a truly authoritarian regime. Democracy has been severely repressed, but it has not been defeated. Not yet.

Just how far U.S. democracy has been degraded will be seen in the November midterms. If the Republican Party maintains control over both houses of Congress, it will mean that their voter suppression, gerrymandering and other dirty tricks managed to suppress a “blue wave.” Such a result would amount to a not-so-soft coup and the U.S. functionally taking the form of a one-party state, at least at the national level.

A victory for the Democrats in either house would mean that the “wave” had been big enough to overcome Republican tactics. But even if that is the result, in the days following the elections, it will likely become clear that voter suppression and gerrymandering delivered many Congressional and state races to Republicans – possibly along with a couple of governorships – minimizing GOP losses. Short of a massive defeat, which does not seem to be in the cards, the Republican Party in Congress will be well positioned to keep fighting and to continue its authoritarian ways.

What happens next would depend on ordinary citizens, social movements and the Democratic Party. All of us – especially those who have a platform and an audience – must constantly call out the Republicans for their election rigging and authoritarian practices until they end. Democrats in Congress and at the state level need to make this point over and over. It cannot be accepted, ever. If the Democrats take over the House, they must hold hearings to fully expose the Republican betrayal of democratic principles, along with the many other areas of GOP and administration corruption.

If the Democrats do not take back either house, they must still do everything possible to hold Republicans accountable. The common Democratic argument that “we do not have power” will not do. Instead, in the aftermath of a GOP victory, Democrats would need to fully understand that the role they are used to playing – as a minority party with certain rights in a democratic government – had all but disappeared. Their responsibility then would be to do everything possible to obstruct the further consolidation of Republican power and the reactionary legislative agenda that would accompany it.

democratic institutions, Shelby v. Holder, authoritarianism, Voting Rights Act, voter ID laws, voter suppression tactics, gerrymandering, Electoral College, Donald Trump, GOP election rigging, Republican vote stealing

Oakland homeless at Lake Merritt

Image may contain: grass, outdoor and nature

First they came for the homeless

October 24 at 5:47 PM

Today, Oakland tried to remove the homeless from Lake Merrit. They met resistance. They were met by the press. They backed down. They promised to return tomorrow at 7:30 am.

This is typical. The city wants the resistance to fade. They will continue rescheduling until there are no more supporters showing up.

We win by growing the resistance. That means tomorrow, be there. They are hoping for legal observers, press, and supporters until the city starts to obey the law. The 9th circuit said no, the city is deciding to ignore and play games. They will offer vouchers which I have heard are no good. But because they were offered, the city feels they are following the 9th circuits ruling? This info comes from the homeless victims of these bad vouchers.

Details are still coming in. As I learn of additional details, I will put them in the comment section.

–Mike Zint

‘Wow Wow Wow… Huge News’ as New York Sues ExxonMobil for Defrauding Investors by Hiding Climate Threat

“The New York Attorney General is standing up for investors who may have been swindled, and indirectly for the seven billion of us who will suffer from Exxon’s lies.”

Activists protested after it was made public that ExxonMobil for years deliberately tried to hide the truth about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo: Johnny Silvercloud/cc/flickr)Activists protested after it was made public that ExxonMobil for years deliberately tried to hide the truth about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo: Johnny Silvercloud/cc/flickr)

 

After a three-year probe and amid mounting demands that the fossil fuel industry be held accountable for driving the climate crisis, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Wednesday filed suit against ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company, for defrauding investors by downplaying the financial threat of regulations crafted to mitigate human-caused global warming.

“Big oil may finally face some consequences for its role in wrecking the climate,” declared 350.org co-founded Bill McKibben. “The New York Attorney General is standing up for investors who may have been swindled, and indirectly for the seven billion of us who will suffer from Exxon’s lies.”

“Investors put their money and their trust in Exxon—which assured them of the long-term value of their shares, as the company claimed to be factoring the risk of increasing climate change regulation into its business decisions. Yet as our investigation found, Exxon often did no such thing,” Underwood said in a statement.

New York investigators, she said, concluded that “Exxon built a facade to deceive investors into believing that the company was managing the risks of climate change regulation to its business when, in fact, it was intentionally and systematically underestimating or ignoring them, contrary to its public representations.”

The complaint (pdf) details years of troubling actions by Exxon’s leaders—including former CEO Rex Tillerson, who spent more than 40 years at the company prior to his short-lived tenure as the President Donald Trump’s first secretary of state.

The state’s probe, launched by Underwood’s predecessor Eric Schneiderman, came to light in 2015 after the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News reported that the company had “conducted cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then, without revealing all that it had learned, worked at the forefront of climate denial.”

Since those reports, Exxon has been named in multiple climate liability lawsuits brought by citycounty, and state officials across the country as advocacy groups and the public have increasingly pressured politicians to hold oil and gas companies accountable for contributing to the climate crisis and lying about the devastating long-term impacts of dirty energy.

Exxon’s “colossal climate denial operation”—which was also detailed in a Harvard study published last year—”significantly impacted how the climate change debate played out in business, science, and politics,” noted Naomi Ages of Greenpeace USA.

And as Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, observed, “Climate change deception is central to Exxon’s business model.” The company pocketed immense profits while it “bankrolled a 30-year, multi-million denial campaign, manufacturing doubt about climate science when it knew there was none.”

While Exxon continues to make money from oil and gas production, coastal communities are facing the mounting financial and environmental costs of the climate crisis. Wiles, like many others who support the ongoing litigation against fossil fuel firms, said Wednesday that Exxon “needs to pay investors they misled and the cities and states now facing massive climate expenses.”

In addition to making the companies pay for the consequences of their products, climate campaigners are demanding a worldwide transition to renewable energy. Referencing the recent IPCC report that stated the international community must take rapid action to prevent climate catastrophe, Ages pointed out: “The stakes have never been higher in capping carbon emissions.”

Congress Must End U.S. Military Aid to Saudi War in Yemen

Today’s leaders owe it to all those who have sacrificed for a fairer world to bring an end to the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth

The United Nations childrens agency said Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, that Yemen’s economic crisis and the relentless violence at a key Red Sea port city risks leaving millions of children and families without food, clean water and sanitation.(Photo: Hani Mohammed / Associated Press August 2018)

The United Nations childrens agency said Friday, Oct. 19, 2018, that Yemen’s economic crisis and the relentless violence at a key Red Sea port city risks leaving millions of children and families without food, clean water and sanitation.(Photo: Hani Mohammed / Associated Press August 2018)

 

Every ghastly new detail we learn about the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi suggests that this was a premeditated murder, carried out at the direction of the highest level of the Saudi dictatorship. The cascading revelations rival the gore of horror films, from the 15 Saudis who flew into Turkey, lying in wait for Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, to the bone-saw-equipped forensics specialist who reportedly dismembered Khashoggi’s body wearing headphones and recommending that others listen to music as well.

Just weeks before, Khashoggi had publicly pleaded with the de facto ruler of the Saudi regime, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to curb his propensity for violence. Khashoggi’s September column for the Washington Post was headlined “Saudi Arabia’s crown prince must restore dignity to his country — by ending Yemen’s cruel war.”

“Cruel” is, if anything, an understatement. Since 2015, the Saudis have launched an estimated 18,000 air strikes on Yemen, attacking hospitals, schools, water treatment plants, funerals, markets and even farms. The Saudis also imposed a blockade on food, fuel and medicine from freely entering the country in what can only be described as a deliberate effort to starve the civilian population into submission. Buried by the news of Khashoggi’s slaying was a grim new warning by Lise Grande, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator for Yemen: The nation could experience the world’s worst famine in 100 years, with 12 million to 13 million innocent civilians at risk of dying from the lack of food within months.

As early as 2015, Foreign Policy magazine reported the Saudi coalition’s “daily bombing campaign would not be possible without the constant presence of U.S. Air Force tanker planes refueling coalition jets.” Yet there was never a debate or vote by the people’s elected congressional representatives, as required by the Constitution, as to whether the U.S. military should participate in the Saudi government’s genocidal war.

As the architect of this hideous military strategy, Mohammed bin Salman reacted to Khashoggi’s criticisms the way he knew best. MbS, as he’s known, probably ordered the assassination of Khashoggi and then — just as the Saudi regime did after bombing a school bus filled with Yemeni children last month — issued ever-shifting and contradictory lies, relying on the Trump administration’s full backing and clumsy assistance in the cover-up.

MbS’ campaign of killing Yemenis and Saudis alike must come to an end. Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and I are leading dozens of our colleagues, including top House Democrats, in demanding answers from the Trump administration about its possible complicity in Khashoggi’s killing. We also are working to force a vote in Congress to decisively shut down unconstitutional U.S. participation in the Saudi regime’s gruesome war in Yemen within weeks.

Partnering with Sen. Bernie Sanders, independent-Vermont, we aim to secure majorities in both chambers of Congress as soon as we return to Washington to direct the president to remove U.S. forces from unauthorized hostilities in Yemen. We are invoking the War Powers Resolution with the aim of passing House Congressional Resolution 138 and Senate Joint Resolution 54. These resolutions have priority over other foreign policy considerations in the chambers, and the votes on them cannot be blocked by Republican leadership. Never before has such a feat been attempted in both houses of Congress at once — but the War Power Resolution allows members of Congress to force votes to end illegal U.S. military participation in this war. When we succeed, the Saudi campaign will inevitably collapse.

If our moral compass is to guide our country after the butchering of Jamal Khashoggi, the incineration of thousands of Yemenis in U.S.-Saudi air strikes, and the quiet deaths of more than 100,000 Yemeni children who succumbed to war-triggered hunger and disease over the past two years, Congress must pass these resolutions.

America’s founders deliberately broke with the unchecked power enjoyed by Europe’s monarchs by vesting Congress with the sole authority over the question of war and peace.

By forcing long-overdue sunlight and public participation into the now-secret realm of war, these resolutions will help restore our republic and end America’s complicity in such incomprehensibly immense human suffering.

Today’s leaders owe it to all those who have sacrificed for a fairer world to bring an end to the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth.

© 2018 San Francisco Chronicle

Ro Khanna

US Rep. Ro Khanna is a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing California’s 17th District. Follow him on Twitter: @RoKhanna

MCLI Demands Oakland End Sweeps of Homeless Encampments Upon Release of U.N. Report

October 22, 2018

Greetings,

On October 23, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. on the steps of Oakland City Hall, the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (MCLI), Western Regional Advocacy ProjectThe East Oakland Collective, The Village in Oakland, First They Came for the Homeless, and many others will be holding a press conference announcing the release of the U.N. Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing which criticizes the mistreatment of the homeless in Oakland stating that Oakland’s current policies constitute “cruel and inhuman treatment and is a violation of multiple human rights, including the rights to life, housing, health and water and sanitation.”

MCLI calls upon all our supporters and allies to attend this press conference to show your support for the end to the criminalization of homelessness.

MCLI and our allies are demanding that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and the City of Oakland end the sweeps of homeless encampments as well as the criminalization of homelessness generally in the Open Letter to Libby Schaff and the City of Oakland to End the Criminalization of Homelessness and Homeless Sweeps Which Are Civil Rights and Human Rights Violations

The U.N. Report comes after a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal which prohibits the criminalization of homelessness. In the case Martin v. Boise the Court stated that “the Eighth Amendment prohibits the imposition of criminal penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter.”

To read the full text of MCLI’s Open Letter to Libby Schaff go here: http://www.mclihumanrights.org/2018/10/22/mcli-announces-u-n-report-denouncing-the-city-of-oaklands-mistreatment-of-the-homeless/

In solidarity,

Steven DeCaprio
Founder of Land Action
Interim Executive Director

MCLI Fall Fundraising Drive

Since MCLI’s founder Ann Fagan Ginger stepped down as Executive Director we have been at a crossroads. We are bringing in the next generation of leadership as we are updating MCLI’s programs and operations. This time of transition presents both a tremendous challenge and a tremendous opportunity.

With your generous support we can invigorate MCLI’s work with new leadership emerging from social movements led by those directly affected by human rights violations. This will strengthen MCLI’s work while striving to realize Ann’s vision that Human Rights should be an integral part of our fundamental values.

MCLI is very close to meeting our Fall fundraising goal of $5,000. We need your support to raise the remaining funds.

Help us reach our Fall fundraising goals. DONATE NOW!

(to make a recurring donation call MCLI at 510-848-0599)

If you wish to use a check to make a donation, please mail it to:

Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute
PO Box 673, Berkeley, CA, U.S.A., 94701-0673

(Submitted by JP Massar.)

The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Either Tyranny or Revolution

Corporate capitalism, which has destroyed our democracy, has given unchecked power to the uber-rich.

“The dark pathologies of the uber-rich, lionized by mass culture and mass media, have become our own,” writes Hedges. “We have ingested their poison. We have been taught by the uber-rich to celebrate the bad freedoms and denigrate the good ones. Look at any Trump rally.” (Image: Mr. Fish/Truthdig)

 

At the age of 10 I was sent as a scholarship student to a boarding school for the uber-rich in Massachusetts. I lived among the wealthiest Americans for the next eight years. I listened to their prejudices and saw their cloying sense of entitlement. They insisted they were privileged and wealthy because they were smarter and more talented. They had a sneering disdain for those ranked below them in material and social status, even the merely rich. Most of the uber-rich lacked the capacity for empathy and compassion. They formed elite cliques that hazed, bullied and taunted any nonconformist who defied or did not fit into their self-adulatory universe.

It was impossible to build a friendship with most of the sons of the uber-rich. Friendship for them was defined by “what’s in it for me?” They were surrounded from the moment they came out of the womb by people catering to their desires and needs. They were incapable of reaching out to others in distress—whatever petty whim or problem they had at the moment dominated their universe and took precedence over the suffering of others, even those within their own families. They knew only how to take. They could not give. They were deformed and deeply unhappy people in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism.

It is essential to understand the pathologies of the uber-rich. They have seized total political power. These pathologies inform Donald Trump, his children, the Brett Kavanaughs, and the billionaires who run his administration. The uber-rich cannot see the world from anyone’s perspective but their own. People around them, including the women whom entitled men prey upon, are objects designed to gratify momentary lusts or be manipulated. The uber-rich are almost always amoral. Right. Wrong. Truth. Lies. Justice. Injustice. These concepts are beyond them. Whatever benefits or pleases them is good. What does not must be destroyed.

The pathology of the uber-rich is what permits Trump and his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to conspire with de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, another product of unrestrained entitlement and nepotism, to cover up the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom I worked with in the Middle East. The uber-rich spend their lives protected by their inherited wealth, the power it wields and an army of enablers, including other members of the fraternity of the uber-rich, along with their lawyers and publicists. There are almost never any consequences for their failures, abuses, mistreatment of others and crimes. This is why the Saudi crown prince and Kushner have bonded. They are the homunculi the uber-rich routinely spawn.

The rule of the uber-rich, for this reason, is terrifying. They know no limits. They have never abided by the norms of society and never will. We pay taxes—they don’t. We work hard to get into an elite university or get a job—they don’t. We have to pay for our failures—they don’t. We are prosecuted for our crimes—they are not.

The uber-rich live in an artificial bubble, a land called Richistan, a place of Frankenmansions and private jets, cut off from our reality. Wealth, I saw, not only perpetuates itself but is used to monopolize the new opportunities for wealth creation. Social mobility for the poor and the working class is largely a myth. The uber-rich practice the ultimate form of affirmative action, catapulting white, male mediocrities like Trump, Kushner and George W. Bush into elite schools that groom the plutocracy for positions of power. The uber-rich are never forced to grow up. They are often infantilized for life, squalling for what they want and almost always getting it. And this makes them very, very dangerous.

Political theorists, from Aristotle and Karl Marx to Sheldon Wolin, have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, Aristotle writes, the only options are tyranny and revolution. They do not know how to nurture or build. They know only how to feed their bottomless greed. It’s a funny thing about the uber-rich: No matter how many billions they possess, they never have enough. They are the Hungry Ghosts of Buddhism. They seek, through the accumulation of power, money and objects, an unachievable happiness. This life of endless desire often ends badly, with the uber-rich estranged from their spouses and children, bereft of genuine friends. And when they are gone, as Charles Dickens wrote in “A Christmas Carol,” most people are glad to be rid of them.

C. Wright Mills in “The Power Elite,” one of the finest studies of the pathologies of the uber-rich, wrote:

They exploited national resources, waged economic wars among themselves, entered into combinations, made private capital out of the public domain, and used any and every method to achieve their ends. They made agreements with railroads for rebates; they purchased newspapers and bought editors; they killed off competing and independent businesses and employed lawyers of skill and statesmen of repute to sustain their rights and secure their privileges. There is something demonic about these lords of creation; it is not merely rhetoric to call them robber barons.

Corporate capitalism, which has destroyed our democracy, has given unchecked power to the uber-rich. And once we understand the pathologies of these oligarchic elites, it is easy to chart our future. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed—the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarized police, Homeland Security and the military—and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them.

The uber-rich care inordinately about their image. They are obsessed with looking at themselves. They are the center of their own universe. They go to great lengths and expense to create fictional personas replete with nonexistent virtues and attributes. This is why the uber-rich carry out acts of well-publicized philanthropy. Philanthropy allows the uber-rich to engage in moral fragmentation. They ignore the moral squalor of their lives, often defined by the kind of degeneracy and debauchery the uber-rich insist is the curse of the poor, to present themselves through small acts of charity as caring and beneficent. Those who puncture this image, as Khashoggi did with Salman, are especially despised. And this is why Trump, like all the uber-rich, sees a critical press as the enemy. It is why Trump and Kushner’s eagerness to conspire to help cover up Khashoggi’s murder is ominous. Trump’s incitements to his supporters, who see in him the omnipotence they lack and yearn to achieve, to carry out acts of violence against his critics are only a few steps removed from the crown prince’s thugs dismembering Khashoggi with a bone saw. And if you think Trump is joking when he suggests the press should be dealt with violently you understand nothing about the uber-rich. He will do what he can get away with, even murder. He, like most of the uber-rich, is devoid of a conscience.

The more enlightened uber-rich, the East Hamptons and Upper East Side uber-rich, a realm in which Ivanka and Jared once cavorted, look at the president as gauche and vulgar. But this distinction is one of style, not substance. Donald Trump may be an embarrassment to the well-heeled Harvard and Princeton graduates at Goldman Sachs, but he serves the uber-rich as assiduously as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party do. This is why the Obamas, like the Clintons, have been inducted into the pantheon of the uber-rich. It is why Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump were close friends. They come from the same caste.

There is no force within ruling institutions that will halt the pillage by the uber-rich of the nation and the ecosystem. The uber-rich have nothing to fear from the corporate-controlled media, the elected officials they bankroll or the judicial system they have seized. The universities are pathetic corporation appendages. They silence or banish intellectual critics who upset major donors by challenging the reigning ideology of neoliberalism, which was formulated by the uber-rich to restore class power. The uber-rich have destroyed popular movements, including labor unions, along with democratic mechanisms for reform that once allowed working people to pit power against power. The world is now their playground.

In “The Postmodern Condition” the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard painted a picture of the future neoliberal order as one in which “the temporary contract” supplants “permanent institutions in the professional, emotional, sexual, cultural, family and international domains, as well as in political affairs.” This temporal relationship to people, things, institutions and the natural world ensures collective self-annihilation. Nothing for the uber-rich has an intrinsic value. Human beings, social institutions and the natural world are commodities to exploit for personal gain until exhaustion or collapse. The common good, like the consent of the governed, is a dead concept. This temporal relationship embodies the fundamental pathology of the uber-rich.

The uber-rich, as Karl Polanyi wrote, celebrate the worst kind of freedom—the freedom “to exploit one’s fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage.” At the same time, as Polanyi noted, the uber-rich make war on the “freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s own job.”

The dark pathologies of the uber-rich, lionized by mass culture and mass media, have become our own. We have ingested their poison. We have been taught by the uber-rich to celebrate the bad freedoms and denigrate the good ones. Look at any Trump rally. Watch any reality television show. Examine the state of our planet. We will repudiate these pathologies and organize to force the uber-rich from power or they will transform us into what they already consider us to be—the help.

House of Commons Emergency Debate on Climate Change


Green Party of Canada
Published on Oct 16, 2018
On October 15, 2018 the House of Commons adjourned to have an emergency debate about the urgent need to take real action on climate change. This debate was requested by three MPs from three different political parties highlighting the urgency and the non-partisan nature of this issue.

More information about the Green Party’s stance and Elizabeth May’s letter to the Speaker requesting this debate can be found here: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/media-re….

The U.N. on homelessness

Note from Mike Zint of First They Came for the Homeless:

Something is coming. The UN came to visit several cities and issued scathing reports on LA, SF, and Oakland. Leilani Farha did not slam Berkeley because I asked her not to. We had vulnerable seniors conducting the city hall occupation at the time, and I did not trust the city enough to not retaliate. They raided anyways, after lying.

Oct. 23rd, a group of well known groups will be in Oakland. I’m looking forward to seeing this group come together.

Press Conference

For Immediate Release

Bay Area Curbside Communities Respond To UN Special Rapporteur on Homelessness and the Right to Adequate Housing Report

When and Where:

Tuesday, October 23rd

11-12

Oakland City Hall Ampitheater

Frank Ogawa Plaza

On October 19th, the United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Right to Adequate Housing, Lelani Farha, released its new report. In January of 2017, Farha spent time in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles to meet with unhoused residents and housed advocates and described their conditions as “cruel and inhumane. The only U.S. cities called out for violations in the UN’s report on global homelessness are San Francisco and Oakland.

She states that while the existence of “informal settlements” are human rights violations due to local government’s lack of will to provide permanent housing to all residents, these encampments are also people’s assertion to their denied human right of housing. Rather than criminalize or ignore these settlements, until permanent housing can be offered to all, it is the duty of local governments not to evict curbside communities but to upgrade them.

Homeless leaders and advocates in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland hosted Ms. Farha, including Coalition on Homelessness, Western Regional Advocacy Project, The East Oakland Collective, The Village/Feed The People, and First They Came For The Homeless. Ms. Farha was able to hear and speak directly with people living in encampments and on our streets about the oppression, hatred and Police violence they experience everyday.

In Ms. Farha’s report she frames the encampments and street dwelling in the United States under the same vein as the informal settlements around the world. Finding that “the scope and severity of the living conditions in informal settlements make this one of the most pervasive violations of human rights globally,” states the report. The Oakland conditions of discrimination and harassment of encampment residents and punitive denials of access to basic services constitute “cruel and inhuman treatment and is a violation of multiple human rights…Such punitive policies must be prohibited in law and immediately ceased.”

This assertion falls in line with the 9th Circuit Courts Sept 4th decision that criminalization of homelessness violates curbside communities’ 8th amendment rights and constitutes as cruel and unusual punishment.

“The Report of the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing As a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, and on the Right to Non-Discrimination in this Context” is being presented at the United Nation’s office in New York on October 19th. In solidarity with this presentation at the UN, events are planned in New York City; Denver, Colorado, and Oakland, CA October 23.

Writing in support of WRAPs Right to Rest acts in California, Colorado, and Oregon, the Rapporteur summed up her visit in California thusly; “In my capacity as the UN Rapporteur on Housing, I visited California and saw firsthand the human right violations being experienced by people who are homeless. They are the victims of failed policies—not the perpetrators of crime. The state of California must take action to remedy the criminalization of rest…While I toured encampments and drop-in facilities serving homeless people, the community repeatedly expressed that they simply wanted to be treated as human beings. It is dehumanizing, demoralizing, and unjust to criminalize hundreds of thousands of people due to their housing status.”

The report concludes with recommendations to enhance the lives of over 800 million people around the world who live in informal settlements and inhumane conditions concluding “That truth is that by any measure — moral, political or legal — it is unacceptable for people to be forced to live this way. Refusing to accept the unacceptable is where we must begin. All actors must mobilize within a shared human rights paradigm around the imperative of upgrading all informal settlements by 2030.”

The report can be found on WRAPs website;https://wraphome.org/research-landing-page/legalresearch/

WRAPHOME.ORG
U.N. Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate stan . . .

‘We’re Voting Them Out’: What It Looked Like When Horde of Hoosiers Marched With Bernie Sanders to Early-Voting Site After Indiana Rally

“This year, things are going to change. We need to have the highest voter turnout in history.”

march to vote

“Trump and Republicans don’t want you to vote this November. I have some bad news for them: we’re heading to the polls and we’re voting them out,” Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote on Twitter. (Photo: Bernie Sanders/Twitter)

With the GOP currently waging a massive and racist war on voting rights in Georgiaand throughout the nation ahead of next month’s crucial midterm elections, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) held a get-out-the-vote rally in Indiana on Friday and led hundreds of enthusiastic Hoosiers to a nearby polling station bearing some “bad news” for President Donald Trump and the Republicans: “We’re heading to the polls and we’re voting them out.”

By the time the Sanders-led crowd reached the polling place—which was less than a mile away from the rally site in Bloomington, where the Vermont senator stumped for Democratic House candidate Liz Watson—people were lined up around the block waiting to cast their early ballots.

“In 2014 we had the lowest voter turnout since WWII. This year, things are going to change. We need to have the highest voter turnout in history,” Sanders wrote on Twitter following the Bloomington rally, which drew an enormous crowd. “If we do that, I’m absolutely convinced that we’re going to end one-party rule in Washington.”

Indiana was just the first stop on Sanders’ nationwide tour ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The Vermont senator is also set to make appearances in Michigan, Iowa South Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and California over the coming week.

Sanders’ efforts to drum up voter enthusiasm and drive massive turn out comes as Republicans are working relentlessly to do the opposite by imposing “a byzantine array of voter restrictions” and blatantly purging hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls ahead of next month’s elections.

“Anyone who tries to suppress the vote is simply a coward,” Sanders wrote on Twitter last week. “If you can’t win an election based on your ideas, then get the hell out of politics.”

Homelessness in Berkeley

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First they came for the homeless

15 hrs

She is bragging about this as if it’s a great accomplishment. It’s coerced slavery. Clean our streets, or pay a fine. Please share this as many times, in as many places as you can. Berkeley has enslaved it’s homeless!

Voting for our sidewalk policy to reduce accumulated objects on neighborhood streets while diverting homeless into clean up jobs in lieu of citations.

–Mike Zint from First They Came for the Homeless