On January 27, 2017 the President of the United States signed an Executive Order, one of his first acts as leader of the free world. Its premise is to protect Americans from the alleged threat of terrorists pretending to be refugees in order to get into the United States.
There has been a lot of discussion about this Order. Some people are calling it a Muslim ban, while others are justifying it as a legitimate and reasonable approach to American security. What no one seems to be doing is actually reading the Order itself.
Whoever wrote the Executive Order deserves a medal for literature. It is subtle and eloquent in a way the man who signed it will never be.
Does it ban Muslims outright?
What the Executive Order does is suspend immigrant and non-immigrant entry into the United States from certain countries “of Particular Concern”.
Refugees from Syria are denied entry until the president says otherwise. People from countries designated by the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security as having repeatedly provided support for international terrorism are also banned, but for a period of ninety days.
This list (so far) includes Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. Saudi Arabia, which is known for encouraging the extremist Islamic beliefs adopted by terrorists, is suspiciously absent from this list. Whether this is due to the President’s business dealings with the Kingdom or vested American interest in maintaining relations with them is unclear.
The Order also changes the criteria for refugee claims, prioritizing those “made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality”.
As most of the refugees are from Muslim-majority countries, most of those seeking safety in the United States are Muslim.
Though the Order says that “the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including ‘honor’ killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation”, it does not offer any protection to people fleeing persecution due to gender, sexual orientation, or race. Being a member of a religious minority seems to be the only exception to the ban.
The Order speaks of these new rules as necessary in part to “reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies”. However, it calls for a flurry of security reports to be provided by the Secretary of State, Director of Homeland Security, and the Directors of the FBI and of National Intelligence and says that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security can admit individual refugees on a case-by-case basis. All this sounds like MORE of a burden, not less.
Is this Executive Order legal?
Not according to the former acting Attorney General Sally Yates. A holdover from the Obama administration, she was asked by the new administration to stay on until the president’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is confirmed by the Senate.
Last night, Yates told the US Department of Justice not to defend the Executive Order in the courts. In a letter to Justice Department lawyers, she said:
“I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right…At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”
She is not the first to acknowledge the Order as potentially illegal.
On January 28, 2017, a Federal Court in New York presided by Judge Ann Donnelly granted an Emergency Motion of Stay Removal to Hamid Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi who’d risked his life acting as interpreter to the US army during the Iraq war, and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, another Iraqi who was en route to reunite with his wife and child in the US. Both were detained at the airport under the Executive Order and with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, fought back.
In her decision, Judge Donnelly said
“The petitioners have a strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioner and others similarly situated violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
Many other federal courts have followed suit, granting stays blocking the Executive Order from being enforced.
When you read the US Constitution, something the president has clearly never done, it is easy to understand why the motions were granted.
Article I, Section 9 prohibits laws that single out any particular group for punishment without trial. The Fifth Amendment goes even further, stating that no person should be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”.
As far back as the Second World War, American courts have recognized the danger of Executive Orders like these. In 1944 in Korematsu v. The United States, the Supreme Court said that
“All legal restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are immediately suspect… courts must subject them to the most rigid scrutiny. Pressing public necessity may sometimes justify the existence of such restrictions; racial antagonism never can.”
The President has rambled on about the danger of foreign terrorists masquerading as refugees, but neither he nor his administration have presented any numbers to back this up. Instead, he fired Sally Yates for refusing to enforce an Executive Order that is legally unenforceable, leaving his administration without anyone with the legal authority to sign warrants authorizing the surveillance of the foreigners he fears so much.
The reaction of protesters, public officials and the American courts are reasons to hope for all who hate xenophobia, for as comedian Aziz Ansari recently pointed out:
“Change doesn’t come from presidents. Change comes from large groups of angry people.”
If the protests and lawsuits are any indication, change is coming.
In the week since t-bag took over a lot has already changed. The pipeline will chug on, a wall will be constructed, funding for the arts is gone, legal safe abortion is threatened, media block on the EPA to hide climate change, it’s acceptable and legal to discriminate against gays, people in important positions are jumping ship and everyone that trump puts in is more evil than the last.
He is plotting evil as you read this. More and more rights are going to be stripped from us. We must stand up to this. Scientists put the clock one minute closer to impending doom.
Washington DC had a very dystopian feel, it was so foggy that you could not see the penis tip of the Washington Monument. Inauguration Day meant broken glass on the streets of DC. Starbucks, bank, and McDonalds windows smashed like the patriarchy itself. A limo burned.
Protesters were greeted with a wallowing pink smoke, tear gas, mace burned, and ears rang from flash cannons. It was a strange feeling.
Impending doom and the need for empowerment. We all must organize and resist.
The time is right now to make a difference and show the world that this asshole does not represent the silent majority. Riot gear is more than a pink knitted pussy cat hat.
I hope the women in pink hats taking selfies saw this and were changed. Step one is getting off of the internet and out into the streets. Then real change must happen.
People of privilege need to get called out and then call out others like them. I am an a white woman and I carried a vagina sign, I am now ashamed of that, not because I have a vagina, but because not ALL women have them.
I was not marching for white vaginas, I was marching for ALL women. Intersectional feminism requires us to stand up in solidarity for all. When we are inclusive but still blind it actually adds to the problem. Showing up but not listening. Trans women, Non binary humans, Black women, Muslim women, Immigrant women, Disabled women, Single Mothers, Mother Earth, Rape Victims, Sex Workers, and everyone who needs love all deserve to feel safe. All of these humans need to be protected from the evil afoot.
I was upset with all of the Angela Davis quote signs out there and these girls didn’t even know that she was speaking right over to the left of them. She was just a sign that was on the internet.
Too busy taking selfies to actually hear the words written on your sign, too busy celebrating yourself to give a hand to those who need lifting up, and too white washed to see the problem.
It is a privilege to even go to Washington DC and march. Many women cannot just take off of work and go. I was sad that I didn’t get there a day earlier for the big gay rave in front of Daddy Pence’s house.
I will be there in June when the gays march. Rainbows will take over! Can’t stop, won’t stop.
I was disgusted to hear that a group of women that are water protectors on the front line of the Dakota Access Pipeline were treated like pieces of selfie meat. People took photos of them but did not listen about their struggle or even take a pamphlet.
The struggle is real, it is not a hashtag. People are being brutalized and mother earth is being raped for money and power. DO NOT OBJECTIFY THEM for Facebook likes!
The first woman I met was 62, from California. She said to my friends and I that she was here for us and our future. She had been fighting her entire life and would die trying to make this world better.
She inspired me, in her 60s she started climbing mountains because why not? She was sick of society telling her not to do things and told us to always do what we dream and take action.
Life goes by fast, we only have a short time to make things better for the next generation. She was brave and beautiful.
On the flip side an older woman came up to me and told me I was a distraction and that I should be ashamed of myself because I was topless. I told her I respected her as a woman but did not agree.
I am empowered and I wish to inspire others to be the same. There needed to be more breasts out at the woman’s march. This should be a safe place to feel confident about yourself and not hide behind what society wants from you.
Well behaved women seldom make history is a sign I saw and something I agree with wholeheartedly. I will not put my breasts away for you Missy.
The whole event kind of felt like Facebook in real life, censorship and all. I even saw straight up memes printed out on signs. You take the meme from the internet then but it on a sign and take a picture of it, just to post it back on the internet, like a TV within a TV. You cannot carry a sign without carrying the burden of hate.
Signs are all well and good but don’t really mean shit. You need direct actions behind those words.
I was also pretty turned off by the fact that people weren’t even paying attention to both sides of their signs. One protester carried a sign that said FEDEX on the back, both sides are advertising bro, always think of both sides of every sign or argument.
There were llamas there marching too, which is wrong! The poor creatures were scared. Do not abuse an animal for your agenda! This is a protest, think!
I was also turned off by the fact that there were a zillion pussy signs and no toilet paper to be had, so everyone is there with a dirty pussy. The revolution needs more toilet paper and access to tampons etc. I want to be a vag warrior and hand out tp and tampons to all women. Also I will include a zine about inclusion and loving and supporting our transgender sisters.
During the Women’s March two trump (he does not get the capitol T) supporters walked by. One of the men dropped a button with trump’s face on it, then continued walking on.
My friend pulled the button in with her foot and started to stomp it. Within a second it seemed that one of the men came back. He literally pushed my friend to the ground to get her off of the button. I instantly ran to her side and into his face. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You have the audacity to push down a woman at a fucking women’s march?
All of my aggression and screaming did not turn a single head, no woman came to help. The only person who did approach me was an older woman who just kept saying ‘love trumps hate’.
In retrospect I should have fucking nailed him. Getting arrested wearing nothing but rainbow and wielding a rubber fist would have made me a hero. I know that fighting hate with more hate is not the answer, but when he was walking away he said “Nice tits!” THEY ARE NOT FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT!
We need to call people like this out and stand up against violence and oppression. I think every woman needs to start carrying a rape whistle again, so people notice you when you are in trouble.
While the pink hats did get women out, they need to get more involved and know that getting out once is not enough. We all need to criticize our own activism.
Do not question why BLACK LIVES MATTER is being chanted at a women’s march! Do not destroy Mother Earth by littering your signs and hats on the ground. You should be saving those signs to use again for the next rally. Always keep fighting.
Yes we need to fight for our reproductive rights and equality for all in pay and opportunity, but don’t forget about climate change, the fact that water is life, and war is always looming over us too. Global issues affect all humans.
The Women’s March was a worldwide gathering of the goddesses! Women and feminist men took to the streets and spoke out against oppression and hate. It was truly monumental. It must become a movement, it must keep strong.
We must support all of the efforts of our community and work together to prevent a meltdown. I expect to see pink hats at the next Black Lives Matter event, or at the #NODAPL rally, or to fight against Muslim registries or Immigration blocks. This country and world needs all of us to be accountable and brave.
There was a girl on a light post with a megaphone leading chants and giving out info. Someone asked her if she was an organizer, she said “No, someone just gave me a microphone!” BE THAT GIRL! Take charge of the moment and be the change.
I felt like I could become President, that it needed to be one of us and NOT one of them! No more politicians! No more businessmen! We need to be informed, educated, and strong together.
My rubber fist said FILTHY AND PROUD, I will never be silenced. My voice will spark the revolution in harmony with the war cries of a million of my sisters. Daily direct action wins. Nobody can stop us.
When you look back on 2016, you may think of all the greats we lost like David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and, most recently, Carrie Fisher and her mom Debbie Reynolds. You may also remember it as the year the UK decided to leave the EU or the year the US decided to leave its senses politically.
No matter how you saw it, though, you have to admit that quite a bit happened. With that in mind, we take a look back at 2016 in the News.
As this post had two authors, parenthetical initials indicate if the section was written by Jason C. McLean (JCM) or Mirna Djukic (MD).
2016 was the first year of the post-Harper era and it was an agitated one in federal politics.
Justin Trudeau’s popularity soared for a while, still largely carried by the expectations built during his campaign and his undisputable quality of not being Stephen Harper. To his credit, he did score some significant points in his first months in office by immediately opening the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and rebuilding relationships with our neighbours (which gave us both the most hilarious handshake attempt of all time and the TrudObama Bromance).
One of the first flies in the ointment was the infamous #elbowgate incident in the House of Commons. Last May, the Prime Minister took it upon himself to escort Conservative Whip Gordon Brown through a cluster of opposition MPs in order to move the procedures along and accidentally elbowed NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the chest. This was perhaps a fairly embarrassing show of temper for the PM, but it degenerated into something out of a Shakespearian comedy in the following days, with Trudeau issuing apology after apology and the opposition throwing words like “molested” around.
Inopportune elbows aside, the Liberals took quite a few steps during the year that caused the public to question how different they really are from their predecessors. Not only did they go through with the $15 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia, but they also quietly changed the country’s policies about export controls to ensure that they could continue to trade arms with shady regimes with a lot less obstacles.
As for the Greens, they started the year as the underdogs who were doing unexpectedly well. The increased attention, though, revealed a world of messy internal struggles. These started when the party voted in favour of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Leader Elizabeth May disliked this so much that she considered resigning. (MD)
Indeed, discrepancies between the government’s discourse and their actions accumulated throughout the year. None was more flagrant than their attitude toward pipelines.
The Liberals campaigned on promises to restore the trust of Canadians in the Environmental Assessment Process, “modernize” the National Energy Board and make Canada a leader in the worldwide climate change fight. Trudeau was the first to admit that the current environmental assessment protocols were immensely flawed and he mandated a committee to review them.
While still waiting for their conclusions, though, he had no problem with major projects still being approved by that flawed process. He had no comments when it was revealed that the NEB board members in charge of reviewing Energy East had secretly met with TransCanada lobbyists nor when indigenous resistance against various projects started rising.
If he thought that the population was on his side, or that they would remain passive about it, he was sorely mistaken. In August, the NEB consultations about Energy East were shut down by protesters. Anger and mistrust towards the NEB only grew after that, with environmental groups calling for a complete overhaul.
None of this stopped the government from approving two contentious pipelines in late November. Both Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain project and Enbridge’s Line 3 were officially accepted. Fortunately, they did reject Enbridge’s Northern Gateway, which was set to go through the Great Bear Rain Forest. (MD)
2016 was the year that saw the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe emerge victorious (for the moment) over big energy and the North Dakota Government.
In July, Energy Transfer Partners got approval for the $3.78 Billion Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, the tribe’s only source of drinking water. The plan also saw DAPL cut across sacred burial grounds.
The Standing Rock Sioux challenged this both in court and with water protectors on the front lines. They invited others to stand in solidarity with them and assembled the largest gathering of Native American tribes in decades.
Things came to a head on Labour Day Weekend early September when DAPL sent private corporate security to attack the water protectors with pepper spray and dogs. Democracy Now’s shocking footage of the incident got picked up by major networks and there finally was major media attention, for a while.
As more people joined the camp and solidarity actions, including Facebook Check-Ins from around the world, increased, corporate media interest waned. Meanwhile the Governor of North Dakota Jack Dalrymple activated the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which brought law enforcement from ten different states to Standing Rock.
With most media focused on the elections, police used tear gas and water cannons on water protectors in freezing temperatures. The US Army Corps of Engineers sent an eviction notice demanding the camp be cleared by December 5th and roadblocks went up.
The Sioux Tribe’s infrastructure survived, however, and once 4000 veterans showed up in solidarity, the official stance changed. President Obama’s administration got the Army Corps to change its tune and deny the easement over Lake Oahe, meaning the DAPL will not go through Standing Rock, at least not until the Trump Administration takes office.
While their fight may not be over, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe did flip the script in 2016 and was even named FTB’s Person of the Year. (JCM)
Indigenous Issues in Canada
Meanwhile in Canada, indigenous issues did make their way a bit more to the forefront in 2016. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women finally got underway September 1st.
While long overdue, the Inquiry will be independent of the Federal Government and has a budget of $53.86 million to be spent over two years. While overall optimistic, some in Canada’s First Nations communities are concerned that the scope of the inquiry is too broad, making it easy to not investigate police forces and specific cases.
Quebec is considering its own inquiry. It’s needed, especially when you consider that the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) treated accusations that its officers were assaulting native women in Val d’Or by going after Radio-Canada and its journalists for reporting on the story and no one else.
Meanwhile, conditions in many First Nations communities continued to deteriorate. An indigenous police force in Ontario even recommended its own disbanding for lack of proper funding. (JCM)
The provincial government keeps slowly but steadily dropping in the polls. According to a Léger-Le Devoir poll conducted in November, the Liberals hit their lowest approval rating since the 2012 crisis. With only 31% of the intended vote, they are now barely 1% ahead of the PQ.
The fact that they did reach a budgetary surplus as a result doesn’t seem to have calmed the popular discontent. The shadow of past corruption scandals also remains.
Couillard assured the public that none of the scandals happened under his watch and that his administration is fully committed to fighting corruption. This commitment was, however, brought into question by a recent report which accuses the government of lagging behind on the Charbonneau recommendations.
In any case, the party was left in turmoil. It wasn’t long before another of its prominent figures left. Bernard Drainville, champion of the infamous Charte des valeurs, but also a major architect of the party’s policies and democratic reforms, decided it was time to call it quits. In a slightly surreal move, he announced that he was retiring from politics to co-animate Éric Duhaime’s notoriously salacious radio show.
Those who had hoped that his departure would help the PQ move toward a better relationship with minorities and immigrants were disillusioned by the conclusion of the leadership race. Veteran Jean-François Lisée and his divisive views on immigration won by a landslide, while the favorite, Alexandre Cloutier was left in the dust with Martine Ouellet and Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon.
However, let’s not forget that Quebec’s political scene is not limited to the two major parties. In fact, a new player is preparing to enter it before the next election. FTB learned that a provincial NDP is in the works, hoping to provide the voters with a progressive option that doesn’t aim for Quebec’s independence. (MD)
Rape culture neither started nor ended in 2016, but it did seem to find its way to our newsfeed frighteningly often.
First came the disappointing conclusion of the Gomeshi trial in May. The fact that a celebrity with so much airtime on the CBC and elsewhere had been sexually harassing his colleague for years and committing multiple sexual assaults while his entourage and superiors turned a blind eye was outraging enough on its own. The fact that four counts of sexual assault and one of overcoming resistance by choking pretty much ended with a slap on the wrist from the court was worse. It made it very hard to keep pretending that our institutions and our society were not rigged to protect aggressors and silence victims.
Barely a month later, as if to demonstrate the scale of the problem, there was the Brock Turner case. Turner, a 20 year old student athlete at Stanford and a perfect mix of white, male and class privilege, was standing trial for raping a young woman on campus. Caught in the act by other students, he was found guilty. This could have landed him in prison for more than a decade, but he got six months in a county jail (he only served three).
A horrible event brought the discussion about rape culture a lot closer to home for many Quebecers in the fall. Multiple attackers entered the dorms of Université Laval and assaulted several students during one night in October. This sparked a wave of compassion and awareness with province-wide protests.
During a solidarity vigil in Quebec city, a young student named Alice Paquet revealed that she was raped by Liberal MNA Gerry Sklavounos back in 2012. Despite an onslaught of victim blaming and skepticism, Paquet decided to finally press charges, and her lawsuit is now in front of the Directeur des Poursuites Criminelles et Pénales. The latter will decide if the case goes to court. (MD)
US Presidential Election
For most of the year, politicos everywhere, including here in Canada, were glued to what was transpiring in the US Presidential Election. And for good reason, it was an interesting one, to say the least.
First there was the hope of some real and unexpected change in the form of the political revolution Bernie Sanders was promising. The upstart Vermont senator managed to go from basically nothing to winning 23 states in the Primaries and even got to meet with the Pope, but that wasn’t enough to beat the largest political machine out there and the Democratic Party establishment’s chosen candidate Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, another upstart candidate, though one of the secretly pro-corporate and openly far-right variety, easily clinched the Republican nomination. With the exception of a bit of plagiarism on opening night and the whole Ted Cruz non-endorsement incident, the GOP Convention was quite unified behind Trump.
The Democratic National Convention was a completely different story. Sanders delegates booed speakers endorsing Clinton and connected to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and even left the room in protest when Clinton officially won the nomination.
The ensuing General Election campaign went back and forth for a few months with each candidate having their ups and downs. Clinton’s health rumours and Wikileaks revelations and Trump’s…well, his being Donald Trump.
Well, on Election Day, the unthinkable happened. The ideal “pied piper candidate” the Democrats had sought to elevate, because he would be so easy to beat, ended up beating their “inevitable” future President.
The bogeyman came out from under the bed and was elected to office. The joke went from funny to scary. Failed casino owner and third-rate reality star Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote and became President Elect of the United States.
As Trump started building his brand new bubble filled with climate change deniers, corporate execs and white supremacists, the fight against him in the streets started and shows no signs of stopping in 2017. The real question is now: will the Democrats change gear and become a progressive alternative or stay the establishment course that led them to defeat at the hands of an orange carnival barker? (JCM)
At least Montreal didn’t spend 2016 electing a frequently cartoonish populist who doesn’t listen to experts. We had already done that back in 2013.
This was the year, though, that our Mayor, Denis Coderre, really started to shine. And by shine I mean make Montreal nationally and even globally famous for some really bad decisions and ideas.
2015 ended with the Mayor dumping untreated sewage right into the river. With that out of the way, 2016 was going to be the year where we planned for our big 375th Anniversary in 2017.
Coderre’s focus was squarely somewhere else in the last half of the year, though. After a 55-year-old woman was killed by a dog in June, Coderre tabled rather extreme Breed-Specific Legislation aimed at pit bulls, despite no initial proof that a pit bull was the culprit (and the later revelation that it absolutely wasn’t).
There were protests and even international condemnation, including that of celebrities like Cyndi Lauper. Coderre would hear none of it, though, even ordering the mic cut on an citizen during a City Council meeting.
When the so-called Pit Bull Ban, officially the Montreal Animal Control Bylaw, became law in September, the proverbial other shoe dropped. People started picking up on some of the other aspects of it, in particular the fines and fees and the fact that it covered other breeds of dog and cats, too.
The SPCA got a temporary injunction on the “dangerous breeds” aspects of the law in early October which was overturned on appeal in December. The bylaw comes into full effect March 31, 2017, at which point the SPCA will no longer deal with stray dogs or accept owner surrenders.
In September, another project met with a legal obstacle. Turns out fines Société de transport de Montréal (STM) security officers were handing out constituted a human rights violation.
While the STM will be appealing the Montreal Municipal Court decision, for now at least, they’re not supposed to be sending out squads of transit cops acting as glorified revenue generators. In practice, though, we’ve heard reports they’re still doing it.
What was really surprising was that the SPVM got warrants for this surveillance. What was not surprising at all is how high this probably went. Police Chief Philippe Pichet must have known, and he was handpicked by Mayor Coderre a few years prior.
2016 continued the sad tradition of police murdering innocent people of colour for no good reason and getting away with it (for the most part). The Black Lives Matter movement also continued to speak out against these killings.
There were two such murders in early July very close together, to the point where it was possible to confuse notification of one with the other. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile died at the hands of police in different cities in different states within 24 hours of each other.
In Dallas, Texas, a lone sniper, not part of the peaceful protest, decided to murder nine police officers, which, of course, became a national tragedy and an excuse for the right wing to incorrectly attack BLM.
In September, following the police murder of Keith Lamont Scott, the city of Charlotte, North Carolina erupted. There were days of protest and the governor declared a state of emergency on the second night.
There is sadly no sign that any of this will change in 2017, especially given the positions of the incoming administration on race and police. (JCM)
Sadly, this year was marked by the continuing conflict in Syria. Dictator Bashar al-Assad has again been accused of deliberately targeting civilians. The carnage in Aleppo reached new heights as the regime’s forces renewed their assault, driving residents to send their goodbyes over social media.
Local groups have been fighting the rising terrorist factions in Syria, namely the now famous Kurd “women’s protection unit”, also known as YPJ. However, despite their important role, their status with the international community is on shaky ground. One YPJ fighter is currently detained in Denmark under terrorism charges. (MD)
So that’s our look back at 2016 in the news. Here’s hoping for overall more uplifting stories in 2017!
A few weeks ago, there were reports that US President-Elect Donald Trump had been refusing daily intelligence briefings. His response was basically that he is a smart guy already:
“I don’t have to be told — you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.”
Forget, for a moment, that he completely missed the point of daily intelligence briefings and weirdly took the story personally and got defensive about it. Let us assume that he is “like, a smart person” who knows what he’s doing.
Now consider a presumably unrelated story about how the incoming administration is handling its Environmental Protection Agency transition and the full picture becomes much clearer.
Trump isn’t building a wall, he’s building a bubble.
This isn’t the famous Washington Bubble, the one that led all the insiders to believe that another Clinton was the right choice for the Democratic nomination and a surefire winner in the race to the White House, especially if she wasn’t running against a Bush. The same bubble that said a candidate with a big enough scandal couldn’t survive in a House or Senate race, let alone be elected President.
No, he burst that bubble. And while many establishment types on both sides of the aisle are trying desperately to rebuild it, the President Elect is busy building a completely different bubble.
No Daily Intelligence Briefings
Trump isn’t the first incoming President to reject daily intelligence briefings. George W. Bush did that, too. The neocons he surrounded himself with were’t thrilled with the constant talk of Al Queda when they “knew” the real threat was from Iraq (How did that work out?) .
Maybe Trump doesn’t want to hear any intelligence briefings that would contradict his belief and much argued campaign talking point that the biggest threats to America are Muslim immigrants and undocumented Mexicans. He doesn’t need some stuffy CIA operatives telling him that the real threat is elsewhere, maybe even with someone he is doing business with.
Instead, he’ll listen to Alex Jones and his incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn is someone who very well may listen to Jones himself. A noted Islamophobe, he once claimed that he personally saw signs in Arabic along the US/Mexico Border, which, of course, do not exist.
Trump wants the information he gets to mirror the half-truths and complete falsehoods he campaigned on. The only way for that to happen is if he gets his info in a bubble, a bubble he is helping to build.
When the Science Doesn’t Fit, Change the Scientists
Trump appointed Climate Change denier and man who sued the EPA twelve times, Scott Pruitt, as the agency’s new head. Then he put the man who couldn’t remember the name of the Energy Department but still wanted to dismantle it, Rick Perry, in charge of it.
Those antagonistic picks are in keeping with most of Trump’s cabinet choices so far. They’re really just the tip of the iceberg, though (assuming there still are icebergs in a few years).
A couple of weeks ago, Trump’s transition team asked for the names of Energy Department employees and contractors who “have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.” Fortunately, the Energy Department did deny the request, but it looks like a purge is what Team Trump is going for.
If a purge is imminent, it will signal not only that Trump really does believe, as he once tweeted, that climate change is a scam invented by China, but that he doesn’t want to hear any expert opinion that contradicts that talking point.
It’s not just threats to the country that can’t enter the bubble, it’s threats to the planet, too, apparently.
What Happens When the Bubble Bursts?
Ask any economist and they will tell you that bubbles burst. Come to think of it, anyone who has tried, as a kid or youthful adult, to catch a bubble and keep it whole can tell you the same thing. Trump’s bubble is no different.
Just because Trump doesn’t want to hear about Climate Change doesn’t mean the climate will stop changing. Just because he doesn’t get to hear someone telling him every day that his plan to fight terror will only cause more of it, doesn’t mean it won’t.
At some point, the Trump bubble will burst. The question is will he realize it and change his ways or at least his policies and the people he has around him, or will he stay the course and instruct his acolytes to rebuild the bubble at all costs?
George W. Bush’s bubble burst twice. The first time was on 9/11. At first, it seemed, he started listening to outside voices. But soon enough, Bin Laden was a job for the next guy and he was going to war with Iraq.
The bubble was rebuilt, even Katrina couldn’t puncture it. The financial crisis of 2008 did burst it again, but by that point, he didn’t care. It was a problem for the next guy to deal with.
While all indications are that Trump will behave in a similar fashion, we can all (and I mean the whole world) only hope that when the bubble he is building does burst, he will surprise us all again (the way he did when he won) and do the right thing.
Unlikely, sure. But the alternative (think nukes) could be catastrophic.
President Trump. President Donald Trump. Yes, a few months from now that will be an actual thing people say. For now, he’s President Elect, but sadly, he is no longer a joke and he never should have been. We need to keep fighting Trump.
The over-the-top reality star will soon be Commander-in-Chief of the largest military in the world. Islamophobia, racism and misogyny have been part of American politics for a while, but they just went uber-mainstream with Trump’s win a little over a week ago.
What’s now frighteningly apparent is that his alt-right (really a fancy way to say white nationalists with computer skills) base, emboldened by his win, are voicing their bigotry and hatred and scaring the crap out of immigrants, visible minorities and anyone that doesn’t fit into their white supremacist, misogynistic and anti-Semetic worldview.
Swastikas are showing up all over the US, people are being attacked, middle schoolers are even chanting “build that wall” and making school a frightening place for some of their classmates. Buzzfeed has even put together a tracker of racist incidents in the US since the Trump victory.
While Trump did tell his supporters to stop it with their racist attacks and graffiti, his early staff choices send the opposite message. He just appointed Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart “News” as CEO until joining the Trump campaign, his top policy adviser. Bannon had proudly declared Breitbart to be a “platform for the alt-right” and oversaw the publication of articles with incredibly nasty headlines.
Throw in promises to break US climate agreements and the prospect of a second Supreme Court pick after he fills Scalia’s seat and you get a picture that is terrifying for people of colour, the LGBT community, women and the planet.
How Did We Get Here?
President Trump is bad news, that much is clear. But why is this now a reality? It’s because no one took his candidacy seriously. Comics thought him running would produce gold for them, but no worries, because, of course he wouldn’t win. Pundits, same thing. Even I didn’t take him seriously at first.
It’s true that Trump’s core support came from xenophobic racist misogynists and they’re now the ones strutting and scaring the shit out of everyone, but this “basket of deplorables” weren’t the only ones who voted for him. If they were, the electoral map would have looked quite different. The bigots are still a minority.
It’s white working class voters in states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and now Michigan that tipped the balance this time around. It’s not that their privilege blinded them to what a Trump Presidency could mean, it’s simply that Trump’s obvious bigotry meant less to them than the prospect of losing jobs due to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) did. Some lifelong rust belt Democrats who voted Obama twice and supported Bernie in the Primaries switched to Trump in the General.
A truly selfish act, to be sure, and an ultimately counterproductive one. Stopping the TPP is probably the first campaign promise Trump will break.
There was also a real feeling of dissatisfaction with the political establishment which Trump, posing as a populist, was able to tap into. If the choice had been between a right-wing, xenophobic pseudo-populist and a real left-wing populist like Bernie Sanders, Sanders would have easily won.
This election also proved that standard political tactics like a good ground game and mainstream media support are now less important than huge rallies and a solid social media strategy. Trump ran an unconventional campaign, so did Sanders. Clinton played it business as usual and lost.
What Needs to Happen Now in the Democratic Party
It’s all water under the bridge, now, but that water is what people need for drinking and bathing, so we can’t ignore how we got here and Democrats can’t ignore the mistakes they made. If they do, they are bound to repeat them.
The party establishment didn’t just lose. They lost to a third-rate PT Barnum who only ran to get a better TV deal with NBC. They lost to a man who admitted to being sexual predator during a national radio interview and who has bragged on tape about sexual assault. They lost to their dream opponent. They lost to Donald Fucking Trump.
If that’s not the impetus Democrats need to show their leadership the door, I don’t know what is. Now is the time to replace everyone at the top who pushed for Clinton over Sanders in the Primaries. Progressives need to take over the Democratic Party…soon!
If there is pushback, and there will be, fight it. If the pushback from the DNC establishment succeeds, it might be time to think about a new party. Even as President, Trump may end up destroying the Republican Party and there could be room for a new party in the two-party system.
What Needs to Happen Now Outside of the Echo Chamber
I had thought, as did many, that if he won, protests against Trump would start on day one of his Presidency. I was wrong. They started less than 24 hours after he won the Electoral College vote and became the President Elect.
From mass marches in New York City, Chicago and around the country to high school students walking out of class, people are voicing their displeasure with an impending Trump Presidency and what it will mean for them and their communities. This needs to continue.
No, the whole “just accept the election results” line or the “give him a chance” attitude don’t fly in this case. First, he’s already shown us by appointing Bannon that he blew his chance to change the tone to a more President of all Americans one. Second, protesting the government, or even an incoming government is never wrong, in fact, it’s a right.
If Clinton had won and stepped too far to the right with her picks, I would expect progressives, even those who voted for her, to be challenging her every step of the way. Now with Trump living up to the worst nightmare scenario fears and his most fervent bigoted supporters having their day in the sun, protesting has become a necessity.
An election does not give the winner immunity from protest in a democracy. When the President Elect is promising to usher in a downright dangerous environment for marginalized groups, those groups and their allies should challenge the President Elect any way they can.
As for tactics, hitting the streets, boycotting Trump-aligned brands and calling out racism and misogyny can all be effective. Right here in Montreal, there is a Stop Bannon Phone-a-Thon putting Americans living here in touch with their local elected officials. There is also a solidarity action in the US encouraging people who aren’t the target of persecution (ie. white people) to register as Muslims if Trump enacts a registry.
While I like the idea behind the move to impeach Trump, I’d like to remind those behind it that success would only lead to President Mike Pence, who, in many ways, is just as bad if not worse.
I would recommend aligning anti-Trump protests with other groups fighting against the things that this incoming President stands for. Solidarity with the #NODAPL protesters, for example, would be a great first step.
Politicians, other people and the mainstream media not taking Trump seriously during the Primaries and the General Election is what got us here. We can’t afford not to take the threat of a Trump Presidency seriously now. It’s time to fight.
The United States is, was, and most likely will continue to be a two-party system. Changing that would be, to put it mildly, an uphill battle and one unlikely to be won with the Electoral College still in place.
All hope of breaking away from the corporate duopoly that now exists and achieving real progress is not lost, though. In fact, it may be a strong possibility in four or eight years. There is a historical precedent.
Zachary Taylor and the Whigs
Ever hear of Zachary Taylor? He was the 12th President of the United States. He was elected under the banner of the Whig Party and served a little over a year in office beginning in 1849 until his death in 1850, when his Vice President Millard Fillmore assumed office for the rest of his term.
Never heard of the Whig Party? Not surprising. They were one of the two major US parties, along with the Democrats, that benefited from the two-party system. However, they never elected another President after the end of the Taylor/Fillmore term.
Why? Because Taylor was not a typical Whig candidate. In fact, he crossed with the party he became the standard bearer of on many issues, most notably on slavery. You could say he destroyed the Whig Party despite being successful electorally.
The Democratic Party took over for the next two Presidents until a third party challenger took power. His name was Abraham Lincoln and the third party he represented was an upstart organization called the Republican Party.
The two-party system continued, only one of those parties had now changed.
Back in June, Politico wrote a thorough analysis of how Taylor destroyed the Whigs. They also drew a historical parallel between that clash and the current animosity between Donald Trump and the establishment of that once upstart third party, now establishment brand known as the GOP.
A few months ago, a split was just a possibility, but now it looks like it’s happening. Establishment Republicans, including former supporters, have been desertin’ Trump in droves following the Access Hollywood leak. Guess attacking married white women was just a bridge too far for the GOP establishment.
Meanwhile, Trump supporters and the candidate himself have been attacking some of their fellow Republicans almost as much as they have been attacking Hillary Clinton. One Trump supporter even told The Young Turks that GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan is in cahoots with Clinton and was the one who leaked the Trump Tape. Lack of logic notwithstanding, you know that guy votes.
This Election Day, we could potentially see some Republicans going to the polls, choosing GOP House and Senate candidates but leaving President blank, writing someone in or even checking Clinton. At the same time, hardcore Trump supporters could vote to put their guy into the White House but leave the rest of the ballot blank to punish the GOP brass for deserting The Donald.
November 8th could spell electoral disaster for the Republican Party and the wound may be too deep to heal. It’s possible that what would be considered a third party challenge today could be one of the two dominant parties in a two-party system four, eight or twelve years from now, depending on how quickly the GOP collapses electorally and internally.
The Best Outcome for the Two-Party System
If it does go down like this, the most likely thing to happen is the remnants of the Republican establishment will join up with the Democrats. I mean if a Bush can vote for a Clinton, anything is possible. Maybe they’d even resurrect the very old name Democrat – Republican Party, like back in the day.
They’d be the corporate party, the establishment party, the Wall Street party. They’d have to reach a compromise on hot button social issues, but since the far right base that the GOP had nurtured would have been lost to Trump, I suspect they would end up going left of centre on issues like abortion, marriage equality and trans rights but, as a compromise, swing right on guns.
When it comes to climate change (including pipelines), racism and police violence, campaign finance reform and war, I suspect they would do what the Dems almost always do: talk a good progressive game but in practice, it’s business as usual.
So that’s one of the two parties. The real question would be who would fill the void left by the demise of the GOP. If it turns out to be the Libertarian Party or some new Alt-Right monstrosity, then America is screwed. No more, though, than the country is already. Having to side with the corporate establishment to get some sort of social progress is pretty much the status quo.
However, this would also be a golden opportunity for a truly progressive third party, maybe the Green Party or a new entity formed by BernieCrats, to take over the slot as one of the two main parties. The way around all the impediments to revolution and/or progress within a two-party system may exist within that system. You just need to completely replace one of the two major parties.
You may have seen that meme. The one contrasting two Bernie Sanders rallies.
In the first image, taken when he was still running for President, Bernie’s in a stadium surrounded by thousands of people. In the second, he’s promoting Hillary Clinton to about 150 people in what looks like some sort of auditorium:
I suspect the sharp attendance drop isn’t due to the speaker but rather the subject matter. It’s not what the thousands who flocked to him in the primaries want to hear him say, or at least not what will motivate them to come out in droves and hear him speak.
Think of a famous musician or band that you and quite a few others adore. They’ve got so many hits, but they also have that one album that really seems out of place. Now imagine they were going on tour and promised just to play songs from that one album very few like.
Sure, some may show up. Diehard fans and those few who actually do like the obscure material. But it won’t be anything like the attendance they would get on a regular tour.
It’s not that people no longer like the artist, they just don’t like the tunes they’ll be playing. It’s not that people no longer like Bernie, it’s just that they really aren’t fans of “We have to all vote Hillary to stop Trump.”
Now some of those Bernie fans staying home may very well vote for Hillary Clinton to prevent a Trump Presidency. They’re just not super excited about doing it.
DNC Logic Fail
It could have been easy for the Democrats this election cycle. They could have picked someone who inspired people by the thousands. Those who flocked to Obama in 08 but felt disappointed overall by the result were ready for Bernie to be the next phase, the one that would actually make the change happen. People who never voted before, or never voted for a major party before, were ready to do so for Bernie.
Problem was that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and establishment Democrats already had their nominee (the leaks proved it). They didn’t want Bernie to run for President under their banner, but they did want the people who flocked to him to vote Democrat in November.
The Dems thought they had the perfect solution: rig the Primaries against him, then convince Sanders to come on board and support Clinton. They had to make some concessions in the platform to do so, but it didn’t matter, once elected, they could do what they wanted to.
They got Bernie on board, so why didn’t their plan work? Surely all these people were just following a charismatic leader and would continue to follow him wherever he led them.
That thinking by the DNC is why America now faces the prospect of a reality TV star turned Twitter troll turned cornball fascist actually becoming President. The Democrats couldn’t see outside of their own bubble of top-down leadership and cult of personality.
If they had looked deeper, just a bit deeper, they would have remembered that Bernie Sanders had been saying the same things in pretty much the same way for decades. None of it had received much response outside of Vermont until 2015. They would have realized that it was only after the Occupy Movement happened and people began searching for a political voice that was aligned with their thinking that Sanders went from being someone people knew (and loved) in Burlington to a political phenom that millions wanted to see in the White House.
The movement that backed Bernie existed before it became Bernie’s political revolution. The people involved chose him as their champion and he agreed. When he stopped speaking for them and started speaking for Hillary, it was the end of that unofficial contract. They had chosen Bernie as their representative, they never chose Hillary, even if Bernie did.
You can co-opt a progressive politician. You can’t co-opt a progressive, bottom-up movement. The only thing you can do is embrace it and let it tell you where to go. The DNC clearly didn’t think of that, and now they’re paying for it.
Bernie’s Movement in Pieces
Now, Bermie’s movement is fragmented politically. Some have followed Bernie and gone to Hillary. Revolution later, stop Trump now, presumably. Others are supporting Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein, which makes most logical sense policy-wise.
A few, though, are outright voting Trump, I’m guessing to give the middle finger to the DNC, also probably all white. Some have chosen Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, which really confounds me. He’s like the anti-Bernie on many issues.
Yet, there are more who plan to simply write in Bernie’s name on the ballot and others who plan to stay home, or go to the bar, on election day.
So this huge block of voters that would have all voted Democrat? They’re not a block anymore. Also, those volunteers that would have campaigned for Democrats up and down the ticket provided Bernie was at the top? Not gonna happen. Huge opportunity missed.
Instead, the Democrats’ path to retaining the White House relies on their traditional supporters and the fear of a Trump victory. Currently, Clinton and Trump are pretty much tied, with Clinton losing in key battleground states. Sure, it’s only by a little bit and tonight’s debate may turn that around, but the fact that it is even a contest is the real problem, a problem that the DNC could have avoided.
With all of the former Berners added to those who always vote Democrat added to those who fear a real life version of Idiocracy, Trump wouldn’t have stood a chance. The debates would have just been icing on the cake.
People want to vote for something. Now they have to vote against something and that’s never a good situation.
As for Bernie, he’ll draw the crowds once he starts playing the hits again.
Forty-four hours after the police shot and killed another person of colour, Charlotte (North Carolina) is under a state of emergency. One man is on life support and the mayor is raising the possibility of imposing a curfew amidst calls for peace and demands for answers.
It all started Tuesday with a despairingly familiar scenario: a police officer fatally shot a 43 year old black man named Keith Lamont Scott for questionable reasons. Police claim that the man had a handgun that he was refusing to drop. Eyewitnesses claim that Scott was only holding a book and that he tried to get out of his truck with his hands up.
Tuesday: Shooting and Mass Protests
One thing is undisputed: it ended with Keith Lamont Scott being shot four times at 3:54 PM. The shots were fired by Brentley Vinson, a black officer of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police.
Family and eyewitnesses soon took to social media to spread their version of the events. Three hours later, people were already taking to the streets and demanding justice.
Three hours and 45 minutes after the shooting, police stated that the protest was turning violent, and that one officer was injured while trying to de-escalate a situation.
The Mayor of Charlotte, Jennifer Roberts, issued a first statement urging the community to stay calm. A few minutes later, she issued another one to announce a full investigation into the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, saying that the community deserves answers.
Around 11 PM, police ordered the crowd to disperse and deployed tear gas. Clashes with police continued throughout the night. A group of protesters shut down Interstate 85. Different sources report rocks thrown at police cars, two trucks looted, and two fires started.
However, even the Mayor said that the mass protest, in a park, was peaceful. The rioting and looting that happened near the interstate and downtown was the doing of a small group of agitators.
Wednesday Morning: A Gun or a Book?
On Wednesday morning, CMPD Chief Kerr Putney held a press conference to share the police’s conclusion. Officers approached Scott while they were trying to execute an arrest warrant for someone else. Putney said that Scott exited his vehicule, then got back into it before coming out with a gun in his hand and ignored orders to drop it as he advanced towards police officers.
“The officers gave loud, clear verbal commands that were also heard by many of the witnesses […] to drop the weapon,” claimed Putney. “Despite the verbal commands, Mr. Scott exited the vehicle as the officers continued to yell at him to drop it. He stepped out, posing a threat to the officers, and Officer Brentley Vinson subsequently fired his weapon, striking the subject.”
The CMPD (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department) recovered a gun at the scene and insists there was no book. Later in the day, a photo of the crime scene where a gun can be seen reached the media. The source of the photo is unclear, but the initial tweet of a local reporter says it’s from CMPD.
The family of the victim is convinced that this is not how it happened. They say Keith Lamont Scott was a disabled father of seven children, well-known and liked in his community. They believe he “wouldn’t have it in him to hurt a policeman.” According to them, he was sitting in his truck and reading while he waited for the school bus to drop his kids off.
Peaceful protests rapidly degenerated. One man ended up on life support and the city was put under state of emergency.
Around 7 PM, on Wednesday, Scott’s wife addressed the protesters, encouraging them to keep the peace: “Please do not hurt people or members of law enforcement, damage property or take things that don’t belong to you.”
Two dozen people reportedly sat silently for a while in front of a Bank of America building, holding up Black Lives Matter signs. A peaceful crowd of men, women and children gathered in Marshall Park before marching through the city. You can read a detailed account of the night in Charlotte Magazine. However the atmosphere easily tipped into chaos. Tear gas and explosives joined the game before 8 PM.
At 8:30 PM, someone was shot somewhere near North College and East Trade streets. The city soon tweeted that the shooting was “civilian on civilian. CMPD did not fire shot.” The victim is currently on life support.
One eyewitness, Minister Steve Knight of Missiongathering Christian Church in Charlotte, shared his skepticism: “It was an ambush. The victim was shot while he stood between two ministers, and we believe he was shot by police. We would like to see surveillance video from the surrounding area that may have captured the shooting to determine who was responsible for the shooting.”
Later that night, while police used rubber bullets to disperse protesters, the Governor Pat McCrory declared a State of Emergency. He dispatched the National Guard and State Highway Patrol troopers to help local law enforcement.
Gov. McCrory had very harsh words for the protesters since the first night. Incidentally, he also recently passed a law to restrict viewing of police body cam and dash cam recordings. Essentially, he signed off on a bill to take police recordings off public records, effectively allowing law enforcement to keep them from media or citizens.
Thanks to this, the dash cam footage of Scott’s death will probably never be publicly released. Chief Putney said that they would try to accommodate the family’s request to see it, but that he had no intention of releasing it “to the masses.”
“Transparency’s in the eye of the beholder,” he said on Thursday. “If you think we should display a victim’s worst day for public consumption, that is not the transparency I’m speaking of.”
He also warned that the recording did not definitely show Scott holding a gun.
Also on Thursday, Mayor Roberts appeared on ABC news to convey three messages: the city is fine and open for business (do not panic), the majority of protesters was peaceful (we’re on your side) and the possibility of imposing a curfew will be discussed (yes, we can do that because of the State of Emergency).
“A peaceful protest, and many folks do want to express their views peacefully, turned into something else last night,” said Roberts.
The Department of Justice just sent four members of their Community Relations Service to Charlotte. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave a press conference this morning, assuring that they were “monitoring the matter” and that they were looking into the circumstances of Keith Lamont Scott’s death.
A video report from Democracy Now! shows a group of persons trying to disperse the crowd with dogs and pepper spray. We can see several protesters who have clearly been maced in the face and a man showing the bloody dog bite on his arm.
Activist Martie Simmons, who was present, tweeted that six protesters, including a pregnant woman were bitten. Four private security guards and two guard dogs were injured, according to the local Sheriff’s Office (Morton County). The nature of the injuries suffered by the dogs and the guards were undisclosed but eyewitnesses affirm that the dogs were out of control, and bit the guards too.
Police say they received no reports of injured protesters.The sheriff’s office confirmed there was no officers present at the confrontation.
Indigenous resistance to the DAPL
Standing Rock’s Sioux tribe has organized opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline ever since the project first became public two years ago. The trajectory of the pipeline is set to skim their reserve and cross the Missouri River twice, causing concerns about water contamination and protection of cultural heritage sites.
Thousands of indigenous people from the US and Canada responded to the call of the Sioux of Standing Rock and set up camps near the Missouri River. Over a hundred tribes are represented in what became known as the oil protest camps, what could be one of the biggest assemblies of Indigenous Peoples this century. Non-native activists also joined the ranks.
Meanwhile, the Sioux of Standing Rock are suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for fast-tracking construction permits without consulting them.
The DAPL is a $4.88 billion pipeline that should conduct half a million barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken Oil fields of North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline will be just under 1900 km long and run through four states.
According to the Chairman of the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock, Dave Archambault II, the pipeline threatens the lives of the people on the reserve and of the millions of people living downstream on the Missouri River, as well as ancestral Sioux sites.
“We never had an opportunity to express our concerns. This is a corporation that is bulldozing through,” Archambault told Democracy Now!.
His tribe is currently challenging the permits of Energy Transfer Partners in federal court on the grounds that the promoters did not adequately consult First Nations. They called for an emergency, temporary stopping of the construction on Tuesday, claiming that the company is already desecrating their burial sites. The federal court will announce its verdict on September 9th.
A Canadian Company
The DAPL is co-piloted by the American company Energy Transfer Partners and the Calgary-based Enbridge. Enbridge is no stranger to controversy, as it was recently forced by Canada’s federal court to give up on the Northern Gateway pipeline for similar reasons.
The $7.9 billion pipeline meant to export Albertan petroleum to the west coast had first been authorized by the Conservative government, despite the strong opposition of the native communities near its trajectory. However a federal appeal court revoked the permits in July, ruling that the Enbridge had not adequately consulted the affected aboriginal communities.
In 2015, Enbridge broke records by racking up $264 000 in fines from the National Energy Board, mostly because of safety and environmental hazards. However, the NEB ended up cancelling most of the fines due to lack of evidence.
Enbridge incidentally made the news today for acquiring Spectra Energy. The $37 billion transaction, if it is approved by appropriate authorities, could make Enbridge the biggest player on the North American market of energy infrastructure.
Narcissistic racist misogynist scam artist Donald Trump is running for President. While everyone initially thought it was a publicity stunt and a joke, Trump has become the sole Republican candidate.
We are now realizing it is not a joke. There is a very real possibility that this man – who says whatever he wants without checking facts, who lets his campaign people assault journalists and then gaslights them and any witnesses, who has called Mexicans drug dealers and rapists, threatened the mass deportation of Muslims, and has claimed that soldiers who are captured don’t deserve to be called heroes – will become president of the United States of America.
But don’t fret, America.
Hope is not lost.
And you can partly thank your Founding Fathers.
The Founding Fathers were not perfect. They said that “All men are created equal” when what they meant was “All men are created equal except for women, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.”
It took almost a hundred years after the Declaration of Independence for slavery to be abolished and almost two hundred for women to get the vote. In that time, Native Americans were brought to the brink of extinction in mass genocide campaigns and those of Spanish origin were forced off their land.
Despite all their shortcomings, the Founding Fathers provided the United States with one very important aspect of your political system.
They gave you a failsafe.
They gave their new country a system of government that would make sure that its leader would not have absolute power once elected.
They did this with the creation of Congress.
Congress is the American federal legislature consisting of two houses: The House of Representatives, and The Senate. Senators and members of the House of Representatives – known as Congressmen – are elected by the people of their respective states. Senators are elected for six-year terms, and Congressmen for two-year terms. Any federal bill proposed in the United States must get through these two houses in order to become law.
That means that if Donald Trump tried to do something ridiculous (besides running for President) like proposing a bill that would force Mexican Americans to pay for that wall he’s proposing, the bill would have to be passed by Congress in order to become law. If both houses vote against the law, the bill dies.
If there is one thing this election has taught us thus far, it’s that American politicians are united in their dislike of Donald Trump. Democrats are outraged and insulted by his very presence in the elections. Republicans are embarrassed by him. Both sides recognize how preposterous Trump’s policy ideas are and their representatives may be in the best position to save America from itself.
Now let’s say Trump doesn’t like a proposed law. Let’s say Congress decides to pass a law forgiving debts accrued by people who needed to pay for health care. Congress passes the bill and Trump gets wind and decides to tell the bill it’s fired by using his Presidential Veto to kill it. If Congress is really determined to pass a law vetoed by the president, there is a failsafe for that too.
Congress can overturn a presidential veto with a two thirds majority vote in both houses. This may seem like a tall order in a country where Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on anything, but it’s possible a reality TV show star has finally found something to unite them. The possibility that Congress can come together to overthrow a presidential veto isn’t that outlandish provided the one using the veto is Donald Trump.
Now let’s talk about nukes.
There has been a lot of talk about Donald Trump’s gung-ho attitude about nuclear weapons. From all reports, he clearly has no understanding of why using nuclear weapons is dangerous and should be avoided. Fortunately for the world, the buttons for launching the nukes are protected by the US military, and Trump seems to be doing everything he can to alienate them.
Yes, some veterans’ groups have come out in favour of Donald Trump. They don’t like that the US is cutting back on its military and think that Trump would somehow restore it to its former glory.
But there are many in active service who are deeply incensed by Trump’s remarks about the military. They are insulted by his claim that attending New York Military Academy gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.” They are insulted by his claim that Senator John McCain, a former naval officer who was captured by the North Vietnamese and tortured for six years, is “not a war hero” because he got captured.
Most know that Trump got the rich-boy ticket out of serving in Vietnam. And they are not going to let this man do what he wants if he becomes Commander-In-Chief.
“Donald Trump’s reckless ignorance about America’s responsibility to the world shocks me to the core … I am done listening. I have heard enough.”
Fortunately, many in active service have heard enough too.
If Trump succeeds at rallying enough self-hating women, racists, and wealthy people to vote him into office, we can take comfort in the fact that American nuclear weapons are guarded by people sworn to protect their country.
The military is made up of people who are trained to recognize when someone is dangerously unfit for command and unable to make rational decisions. The military is trained to recognize when someone is endangering their country and the world and to act accordingly to stop them.
People are scared of Donald Trump, but we can take comfort in the fact that America has a system in place that can save it from itself. Let’s hope they don’t have to use it.
Mere moments ago as of this writing, it was officially announced that Donald Trump, business mogul and a supporting player in the 1989 Bo Derek film Ghosts Can’t Do It, is the Republican nominee for President of the United States. I’m not an American, but I’m pretty damn scared.
And that same fear I’m feeling is spreading across my social media feeds, by people in the even scarier position of seeing this happen in their own country. As I scroll through Twitter and Facebook, I see a lot of panic. But I see something even more troubling, too.
“Don’t worry, it’s impossible.”
Already I’ve seen people reassure others and themselves that Trump and his running mate Mike Pence, who I’m beginning to suspect was grown in a vat like in Transmetropolitan, will never reach the White House. There’s no way, right? Never gonna happen. As long as we turn out to vote it’ll be fine.
Bullshit. Of course it can happen. There is, in fact, a very distinct chance of it happening. A Trump/Pence White House is possible, and if you want it to be as impossible as some people on my social media are saying, you’re gonna have to work for it. Hard.
Last month, England voted to leave the European Union, a move many similarly dubbed impossible. People were so convinced that Brexit wouldn’t go through that they voted to leave anyway.
Can you even fathom that? That’s so dumb there isn’t even a funny metaphor for it, it’s just ridiculously stupid and short-sighted. People were CONVINCED that Brexit would fail, and yet here we are watching the United Kingdom begin to seemingly crumble while the office of Prime Minister of England becomes one of the most unwanted pieces of office space in Europe.
Were anti-Brexit campaigners lazy or idle, complacent in their ultimate victory? Of course not. Those people worked their asses off. You know where the problem was? People who considered it a non-issue. People who voted without doing the proper research and actually learning what the issue at hand was. People who somehow thought that the outcome of the vote was an inevitability rather than something over which COULD and SHOULD HAVE taken control. People who wrote it off, even idly.
The prospect of a Trump Presidency is scary, even to people outside America. And right now, to all my American friends I say this: Don’t lose that fear. Keep it. Because if you want to overcome the literally terrifying number of people who want to see Trump and Pence take the White House next year. Make that fear the fire under your ass to keep you from getting idle.
Go to rallies, make your voice heard. If you support Hillary Clinton wholeheartedly, see what you can do to volunteer in even the smallest way. If not, do everything you can to make sure every blunder, every controversy, every racist, sexist, hateful remark by Trump and his people is seen by as many people as possible.
And for the love of all that is good, VOTE. Vote and encourage all your friends to vote. Because treating a Trump presidency as impossible is opening the backdoor to voter apathy, if not from you than for some people. Odds are you know some of those people, and if you can change even one of their minds, you’ve done good.
The prospect of Donald Trump becoming the leader of the free world is NOT impossible. If Brexit proved anything, it’s that nothing is truly impossible.
If you want Trump to fail, you have to MAKE him fail, because he’s not going to do it on his own. Though it looks for all the world like he’s been trying. To people being told not to be afraid, I say be afraid, and turn that fear into proactivity. Your country is at a crossroads, and at the end of one path is a man who read the script for Ghosts Don’t Do It and said “yeah, I’ll be in this.”
We have some very exciting news to report: Bernie Sanders is the winner!
The winner of the FTB US Presidential Election Poll.
Honestly, I was thinking of just using the first part as the headline of this post. Misleading? Quite. But if the Associated Press can do it, so can we. However, it could also be a bit of a mean tease to those (like myself) who were hoping for a Sanders victory in California last night.
Near the beginning of the primaries, we asked our readers to vote for the candidate they wanted to be the next President of the United States with the promise that the winner would receive the official endorsement of FTB readers and a post explaining why they are the best choice. This is that post.
As candidates dropped out, we removed them from the available choices (except for Lincoln Chafe, I still think #feelinchafed will trend). Only Ted Cruz and John Kaisich had actual votes when we removed them (two apiece).
With 153 votes cast, the Vermont senator and everyone’s surrogate grandpa won the poll with a resounding 48%. Donald Trump was second (one only hopes ironically) with 14%, one vote ahead of “You realize you’re a Canadian site, right?” Hillary Clinton got 7%, narrowly beating out a push for four more years for Barack Obama which tied with None of the Above.
So why did the majority of our readership pick Bernie? While I can’t be sure of their reasons, I think the fact that he is a once in a generation candidate probably had something to do with it. Not only is he an inspirational speaker who brought income inequality, money in politics and the need for universal healthcare and a $15/hr minimum wage to the forefront of mainstream political discourse in the US, he also proved that socialism isn’t a dirty word, at least when you couple it with the word democratic.
He is also very consistent in his talking points and has been for thirty years, a unique quality in legitimate POTUS contenders. He didn’t change his views to suit the electorate, the public caught up with him. He then became the figurehead of a movement that started with Occupy.
His ads were not only powerful, but themselves revolutionary in their choice of speaker. Some of them featured people establishment politicians usually avoid associating with, like Black Lives Matter activist Erica Garner and Chris Wilson, a man who turned his life around after spending half of it in prison.
Sanders went from a candidate unknown outside of Vermont (and southern Quebec homes with Vermont and upstate New York affiliate stations) whom very few thought would even come close to being a contender to the man who won 22 states, seriously challenging a household name with an unparalleled political machine behind her. He also met with the Pope. And all of this in just a year.
Unlike politicians who drop out when offered a deal that benefits them personally, he has vowed that the struggle will continue right up to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia. But the struggle is now more about entrenching the values of social and economic justice in the Democratic Party, a party whose establishment fought hard against a progressive shift in the primaries. With Bernie, it’s about the issues and the movement or revolution. Not about him.
What path Bernie will follow after the convention is unclear, so is the next step for the movement he champions. What is clear is that Bernie has already had a yuuuuge impact on the American political landscape and political progressives around the world.
No wonder so many FTB readers are feelin’ the Bern.
Panelists Der Kosmonaut, Cem Ertekin and Jerry Gabriel discuss the Mayday March protests and the violent police reaction in downtown Montreal, an update on the US Primary elections, Prince leaving us too soon and Peter Sergakis’ lawsuit against Peter McQueen. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!
Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha
On Friday night, protesters successfully disrupted a rally for Republican presidential frontrunnner Donald Trump. When the race-baiting businessman realized that anti-Trump activists made up roughly half the crowd, he cancelled the event. Then he went on the offensive. Predictably Twitter moaning about freedom of speech:
The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!
First, Trump clearly doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand, that the right to free speech enshrined in the US Constitution (the states doesn’t have hate speech laws like we do in Canada, where Trump could probably be charged) doesn’t work that way. As this civil rights and constitutional lawyer pointed out:
/1 The First Amendment protects citizens from the government, not from unfriendly audiences. @realDonaldTrump
What is really ironic, though, and what would really be tragic if Trump ever ended up in the White House, is that his recent rally rhetoric promotes an attack on the very constitutional right he claims he was denied on Friday.
Trump’s “Good Old Days” Were All About Suppressing Free Speech
Over the past few weeks, Trump has been encouraging his supporters to attack protesters more and more. As Rachel Maddow and others pointed out, this was most likely a deliberate attempt to provoke violence so he could claim he was the victim.
What is the most troubling about his rhetoric are his constant references to the “good old days” where there were “consequences” for protesting and protesters would most likely be “carried out on a stretcher.” To be clear, Trump misses the use of state violence to stifle dissent, to stifle free speech.
While his hypocrisy is palpable, so is the (perhaps willful) ignorance of his supporters. That they can claim to support a right while championing someone who seeks to repress it, most likely in a brutal manner, when in power, is stunning.
It’s About the People Rising Up, Not Politics
By Saturday, Trump had already named a culprit: Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. This was based, at least on the surface, on the fact that some of the protestors inside the event were vocally supportive of the Vermont Senator and completely ignored all the other protestors inside and the thousands in the student-led demo outside.
For his part, Sanders responded the best way he possibly could:
“As is the case virtually every day, Donald Trump is showing the American people that he is a pathological liar. Obviously, while I appreciate that we had supporters at Trump’s rally in Chicago, our campaign did not organize the protests. What caused the protests at Trump’s rally is a candidate that has promoted hatred and division against Latinos, Muslims, women, and people with disabilities, and his birther attacks against the legitimacy of President Obama.”
In response, Trump threatened to send his followers into a Sanders rally and now the story has basically turned into Trump versus Bernie, at least in the mainstream press. While this will help Sanders in the upcoming primaries, especially given Hillary Clinton’s lack of support for the protesters, it distracts from what is really at play here: that a group of protester, mostly people of colour, were able to stop a Donald Trump bigot love-in.
Maybe Trump can’t fathom or admit the truth, so blaming a well-organized political machine is the only way out. I think, though, that admitting it wasn’t a power play but rather a play against power makes it impossible to deny that it is the protesters who are on the side of freedom of speech.
Donald Trump’s rights were not violated Friday night, he was in the power position while seeking a greater power position. But if he becomes President, you can believe he will do his best to eliminate the right of free speech through protest for everyone.
Panelists Ethan Cox, Josh Davidson and Jerry Gabriel discuss student tribunals at Concordia, the US Primary Season and Justin Trudeau’s statement that pipelines will pay for green energy. Plus the Community Calendar and Predictions!
Host: Jason C. McLean
Producer: Hannah Besseau
Production Assistant: Enzo Sabbagha
Feminism is more than burning bras and not shaving your armpits. Being a feminist means demanding equal pay for equal work, taking charge of our bodies, gender freedom, ending domestic violence and rape culture, and crushing the all powerful patriarchy.
No, it does not mean we hate men, in fact many feminists actually are men! Yes, it does mean standing together with our sisters and trans sisters, but it does not mean bullying other women into thinking how we think and pushing our ideals on others.
I was offended when Gloria Steinem, a famous voice of the feminist movement, and Madeline Albright, the first female secretary of the state, said that any woman who doesn’t back Hilary Clinton is not a feminist. They went on to say that girls were just voting for Bernie Sanders because he was popular with men.
Albright said “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” She has famously used this phrase for other more appropriate situations in the past. “When you’re young, you’re thinking: ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’ ” Ms. Steinem said.
In 1996, when Sanders faced Republican Susan Sweetser in a bid for re-election to the House, he found himself up against a female candidate. Then Gloria Steinem went to Vermont to endorse Sanders, saying in jest that she’d come to dub him “an honorary woman.”
Even though Bernie Sanders is a cis gender white male he is more of a feminist than Hilary Clinton. I feel the Bern because I did my homework, not because any boy told me to do so.
Hilary Clinton responded to the female criticism by saying “I have spent my entire adult life making sure that women are empowered to make their own choices—even if that choice is not to vote for me.” If Hilary does win the democratic nod I will still vote for her over any Republican, I do agree with her on some things and definitely don’t think she is as evil as the other side.
Feeling The Bern is a movement that will improve the lives of women. He supports paid maternity leave, calls on men to join in fighting the gender wage gap, and has always supported gay rights.
She stated that she would have supported the Defense of Marriage Act if she was in power and then only “evolved” to support gay marriage later in her career. I do not agree with her corporate strand of feminism and believe that in order for women or anyone to succeed in this country we need a democratic revolution and socialist overthrow.
Clinton has even accepted donations from countries that treat women terribly, while Sanders is being funded by the everyday people. Ideology is more important to me than gender.
I remember being 18, my first time voting. Candidates in the primary included Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama, a woman and a black man, holy shit. I stood in the booth and cried because I knew what kind of moment this was.
People fought for ME and that there was so much more to be done. Change is still brewing. There was a time where both women and people of color could not even vote let alone run for president. I thought of all the suffragettes and civil rights activists that fought for this basic human right.
Barack Obama got my vote that day just as Bernie Sanders will get my vote this coming election. I will never understand why so many young voters don’t show, every voice counts. We must educate ourselves and join together to take charge of our own future while fighting oppression. You can’t complain if you don’t vote.
There is no answer to why humans judge others based on the color of their flesh, age, sex, orientation, or presentation. We must accept each other’s differences and appreciate unique beauty. Be the change you want to see and never tolerate ignorance or hate. Strive for peace, acceptance, freedom and above all else love. Sexism infiltrates all parts of life.
I was bartending last night and a man came in with two of his grown sons. He said to me early in the conversation ” Are you married?” I said no happily, still smiling, and told him that wasn’t in my cards. He then asked me if I wanted children, I laughed and said NO, “Oh that will change when you find the right man.”
WHAT? The smile was gone. No, I do not need to find the right man to complete my life, I don’t need anyone. I am perfectly happy with my cats and independence.
It was so ignorant for him to assume anything about my sexuality and throw his values on me. He was obviously religious and has money, he mentioned that he had eight children and it was the best thing in his life, especially now being older. I told him that over population was a real thing and I would have no part of it.
A moment later a man playing in the band said to two women sitting at the bar (who were obviously on a date with each other) “Why are these two lovely ladies sitting alone at the bar? Come on men! Take care of these lonely girls!” They looked at each other and said,”No, thank you!”
No woman should ever feel judged or unsafe. Protest the propaganda and spark inspiration and change. Stifle hate with beauty and truth. Be a feminist, a humanist, an informed voter, and a person who stands up for what is just. Make the world a better place to live in by taking an active part in its reconstruction. Choose your candidate based on their history and credentials, not their gender. Of course I want a female president, but it must be the right woman!