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Pop The Stack: Should America Make Voting Mandatory?

So US President Obama recently suggested that making voting mandatory. There are multiple reasons for this, one being that the people who don’t vote are more likely to be low income and democrat so it would favour his party. But he also suggested it would reduce the influence of money in politics since the candidates that can spend more to make sure their base get out would lose the advantage.

I don’t disagree but I think there are many better ways to get people voting, like ensuring every vote counts equally and that every significant voice is heard even if (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Edward Snowden and His Ideological Allies Are Winning

Richard Hughes- Political Blogger

The War on Ideas is losing ground. This was clearly demonstrated through two clashing films recently. American Sniper and Citizen Four.

They could not be more opposite and yet they were both declared Oscar winners

The War on Ideas is winning over public support in spite of the immense efforts made to demonize heroes like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden.

Julian Assange

While polarization is increasing much of that is because citizens are recognizing the dangerous lurch to the extreme right, especially here in Canada.

Canada’s Prime Minister Steve Harper with his extreme dominionist religious views has driven (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Obama Vetoes Bill Pushing Pipeline Approval

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

In one of Washington’s worst kept secrets President Barack Obama confirmed earlier indications of his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. This is huge and could help bring about rejection of the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan proposals as well.

The New York Times reports on this far reaching development. In Canada all eyes will be on ‘Steve’. Could this trigger the end of Enbridge and Kinder Morgan as well?

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Tuesday rejected an attempt by lawmakers to force his hand on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, using his veto pen to sweep (Read more…)

wmtc: what i’m reading: pro: reclaiming abortion rights by katha pollitt

Katha Pollitt’s new book, Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, is a powerful gust of fresh, clean air that blows away the toxic stench of the current discourse about abortion.

Pro is a thorough, no-holds-barred takedown of the hypocrisy of anti-abortion-rights movement – not only in the most obvious sense that people who claim to be “pro-life” also (usually) support war and the death penalty, oppose gun control, and encourage lethal terrorism against abortion providers and clinic staff, and of people who claim to care about women and children, but oppose all social supports that might improve the lives of actual (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: The US Budget Deal is atrocious for progressives, and the GOP base

The 2014 US midterm elections were a massive win for the GOP and, rightly or wrongly, gave them a mandate to act on the issues they campaigned upon. However, the big new budget bill is drawing controversy over something few GOP supporters are going to have thought was core to their election mandate: loosening restrictions on investment firms doing derivatives training, and a ten fold increase in allowable campaign donations.  Appealing to the base was never the point, of course. On the derivatives side, it is the pay off to Wall Street, and all the millions of dollars they (Read more…)

Blast Furnace Canada Blog: Kick Russia out of the Helsinki Accords

Is the Helsinki Accord of 1975 a worthless scrap of paper? Because Vladimir Putin sure seems to think it’s a joke.

I was not even three years old when the declaration was signed but my father, an emigré from Croatia, understood its meaning. As a younger it was impressed on me the importance of a document that, among its provisions, was a statement of several important principles:


Parchment in the Fire: Is America an Oligarchy? – The New Yorker

Is America an Oligarchy? – The New Yorker.

From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy. After examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, the political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the (Read more…)

wmtc: the courage and compassion of dr. willie parker, the last abortion doctor in mississippi

“The Pink House”, the last abortion clinic in Mississippi.The owner painted it pink so it would stand out, in defiance.

I’ve thought a lot about heroes, that tremendously overused word, about who my heroes are and why I love them. Moral courage, as you may know, is my highest value. Now, reading this story in Esquire about Dr. Willie Parker, the last abortion doctor in the state of Mississippi, I realize there’s another ingredient shared by all my heroes: an abundance of compassion.

Dr. Parker, a committed Christian, embodies both physical and moral courage, refusing to run despite the (Read more…)

Progressive Proselytizing: The marriage equality war in the US is over. We won.

You know how on election night the TV news channels try to out do each other with ever more ridiculous graphics and sound to announce their big “Official Prediction” ages after everyone has already figured out who the winner is going to be? Well drum roll please, ladies and gentlemen and others on the gender spectrum, it is time for an official Progressive Proselytizing Prediction: the marriage equality debate in the US is over. We won. After a short (probably the next Supreme Court term) waiting period until we get the official change, let the fabulous weddings nationwide commence!

It (Read more…)

Blast Furnace Canada Blog: Arkansas sees the light; who next?

Four states in the South (via the courts) have now recognized gay marriage: Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma … and now Arkansas. The latter three are actually quite conservative, which is one thing; but what makes the Arkansas ruling interesting is that the court didn’t use “strict scrutiny” to strike down the law, instead it used the “rational relation” test which in civil rights cases is a much

Cowichan Conversations: The Truth About Ukraine-AMTV

Cowichan Conversations: US-NATO sponsored Kiev coalition government is responsible for the killings by Neo-Nazi Right Sector mobs

The deliberate and dangerous escalation of violence against eastern Ukrainians of Russian origin and loyalties is driven by NATO partners giving licence to thugs and neo Nazi’s who are doing their dirty work.

It is ugly and is being ignored or reframed by most western media sources. Fortunately not all reporters are being hand maidens for the military intrusions by the US and other NATO participants.

Cowichan Conversations: How Obama Shocked Harper as Keystone’s Frustrator-in-Chief

Richard Hub Hughes-Political Blogger

Here is a ‘Bloomberg Business News’ snapshot of todays strained US Canada relations. Our troubles are politically driven and stalled by the ups and downs of the Keystone pipeline controversy.

US President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Harper are dissimilar in most if not all respects.

Many environmentally concerned Americans and Canadians are virtually standing shoulder to shoulder cheering the delays.

With the Keystone pipeline and the Northern Gateway (Enbridge) proposal meeting with increased opposition it is now a possibility that they may both be rejected in their entirety.

The once all powerful PM Steve Harper (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Pseudo-patriotic madness

This is news, right from the CBC, not April Fool or The Onion: The Massachusetts House of Representatives has finally granted initial approval to a Bill naming the Fluffernutter the official state sandwich. The bill was filed in 2006 by then Representative Kathi-Anne Reinstein, in response to a motion by State Senator Jarrett Barrios limiting […]

Cowichan Conversations: Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass

Robert Parry-Consortium News

by Robert Parry

The acting president of the coup regime in Kiev announces that he is ordering an “anti-terrorist” operation against pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine, while his national security chief says he has dispatched right-wing ultranationalist fighters who spearheaded the Feb. 22 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych.

The Times’ front page on Wednesday was a bizarre story by David M. Herszenhorn accusing the Russian government of engaging in a propaganda war by making many of the same points that you could find – albeit without the useful context about Parubiy’s neo-Nazi background – in (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Shawnigan’s Discovery Elementary School Drama May Be Nearing Resolution

Don Maroc-Cowichan Conversations Contributor

Act one of the Discovery Elementary school drama of misguided, overzealous parents disrupting classroom decorum and taking advantage of school district authorities’ well-meaning efforts at accommodation has run its course.

Let school district policy makers, whether elected school trustees or a province imposed single trustee, take a lesson or two from this distasteful episode. Accommodation is like blackmail, the longer it goes on the more it grows. More important is transparency, don’t sweep uncomfortable information under the rug or stuff it in the closet. It will ferment and smell to high heaven (oops, that may be (Read more…)

wmtc: lessons from wisconsin and michigan: tim hudak’s threat to ontario workers is not over

Last September, when Tim Hudak announced that he intended to break Ontario’s unions, it came as no surprise to labour activists. The head of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party, cynically framing the issue as one of “choice,” talked about “right-to-work” – a familiar euphemism for union busting – and repealing the Rand Formula. That 1946 Canadian Supreme Court decision ensures that everyone who enjoys the benefits of belonging to a union contributes union dues, which in turn ensures that union workplaces can survive.

And that, in turn, sets a standard for all Ontario workers, union or not. This is (Read more…)

Blast Furnace Canada Blog: Finally, the Confederacy gets on board — well, one state does

In a decision that surprised me, a Southern federal judge overturned Virginia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen also ruled that the state also had to start respecting the laws of 17 other states and Washington DC that permit the practice. This marks the first time a Confederate state has joined the bandwagon of equality. (Read the decision in Bostic v.

Progressive Proselytizing: Does the Left have a corresponding great lie?

Yesterday, I gave a pretty harsh critique on the self contradicting core conservative talking point of cutting debt and taxes to create jobs. What I argued was that if your vision is a dramatic reduction in the size and scope of government, then be honest about it and run on that. People will approve or they won’t, but don’t dress this up as being able to magically reduce the debt, cut taxation, and increase jobs simultaneously as if there are not contradictory trade offs to each of these.

So what about the left? Is the left similarly about a (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Vindication for Snowden? Obama Panel Backs Major Curbs on NSA Surveillance, Phone Record Data Mining

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Hardly a day goes by without learning about further intrusions into the privacy of citizens in both the US and Canada.

Edward Snowden’s handling of the damning intrusions and once unthinkable surveillance has increased public recognition and appreciation for his efforts shining a light on the unprecedented spying driven by the NSA.

A White House-appointed task force has proposed a series of curbs on key National Security Agency surveillance operations exposed by Edward Snowden.

Democracy Now- brings us up to date with today’s revealations.

As if this was not enough the disclosure bug is spreading.

NSA Whistleblower (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Snowden Reveals Extent of Canada’s Spying on Behalf of NSA

More at The Real News

Cowichan Conversations: US Students Holding Howard Zinn Readings to Fight Censhorship

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

In spite of the advances of ultra conservative thoughts and deeds a breath of freedom and fresh air emerges from American colleges and universities. It really does show that many of the younger generations get it and are effectively challenging right wing forces of ignorance and control.

Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ attempt to censor Zinn’s classic ‘A People’s History’ backfires, sparks ongoing interest in late historian’s work.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer Common Dreams

In organizing a Howard Zinn read-in at Purdue University, students have cultivated what is described as an “imaginative and defiant response to (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Oh Canada! We Were Once Respected, But Now We Are Despised!

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

PM Stephen Harper set out to change Canada so that it would not be recognizable. He has succeeded in spades and at the same time as he is being damned , by association so are we all.

He has diminished our sense of pride and replaced it with shame.

All Canadians must recoil in spite of their particular partisan beliefs at the damage that has been done allowing the unprecedented rape of our environment, regulatory protections, civil decency and honour as a country and as citizens of Canada.

This post appeared on Common Ground and in it Noam Chomsky delivers a well (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Ted Cruz is dangerous and he is a Republican Tea Party favourite!

Richard HughesPolitical Blogger

Canadians cannot and should not avoid taking stock of what is taking place in our neighbouring country, the U.S.A.

Most of us have heard about the fight over Obamacare.

In comparison with our ‘Single Payer Universal’ health care, Obamacare is really just an introductory level of care that falls far short of what we have with in Canada.

It is however an important and immensely supportable beginning. At least it means that people cannot be denied affordable coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

The Republicans opposed to affordable healthcare have been led by politicians like Congressman Ted Cruz and they (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: North American Democracies Are Shut Down!-RMR-VIDEO