Tag Archives | Politics

TPPA – the End of Democratic Sovereignty in New Zealand

TPP image via Office of the United States Trade Representative.

TPP image via Office of the United States Trade Representative.

After much speculation and insubstantial promises, we now find ourselves inching closer to the final stages of the TPP agreement. The empty rhetoric and political bombast is coming fast and thick, with some key show-downs taking place amidst a general feeling that we’re quickly running out of time to force a withdraw. While there are further protests scheduled and some time left, unless there is mass large-scale revolt, it is hard to feel in any way optimistic that this deal won’t go ahead.

The wild claims of the National government regarding the apparently substantial positive effects that this trade agreement will have, have been made to look suitably flimsy and dishonest by reports that show the damning and definitive evidence to the contrary; when all the facts are assessed, the data points to the true overarching problem – that we are on the verge of a global neoliberal confidence scam that effectively undermines our democratic sovereignty.… Read the rest

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All Roads Lead to Zen…

pots

At end of shift yesterday, while I was cashing-out my day over at the bullet-proof glass at Citizen’s Cab, a night driver named Harry – relaxing in a musty old car seat up on the rustic porch/driver’s lounge, was waiting for his cab to come in. From the porch, Harry all unsolicited bellows over to me,

“Hay! Sack! Ya kno wha tha secrit ta makin’ monee is now?”

I bite, “No, Harry. What’s the secret?”

“Ya gotta tink pos-Y-tive!”

Ah, a bit of old school San Francisco…

Well, I have been practicing watching my breath of late, on account of Maya – my upaguru Zen meditation teacher ride from recent blog fame. But instead of really meditating as I lie there in bed, watching my breath winds up super relaxing me and I just end up falling asleep real fast. But, that’s ok. Consequently, I’ve come to stop abusing night-time cough syrup to get down at night, again.… Read the rest

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Sanders and Corbyn: Socialism, Better Late than Never

DonkeyHotey CC By 2.0

DonkeyHotey CC By 2.0

After years of organisation and ground work, socialism has finally reappeared in western politics. It’s hard not to feel swept up by its arrival, to see it as some sort of homecoming. Though if one is honest, there is the awful feeling that it’s probably too little and 30 years too late. It is sad to say it— at least for me, a socialist at heart — but its appearance now threatens to look like an afterthought. In true last-second desperation, it’s not until the ship is almost sunk that we become ready to try and salvage it. Many now recognise, even some in the mainstream, that our societies and governments need more than an ideological readjustment, they need to be completely dismantled and started anew.

The recent joint surge of Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, while providing a heartening and interesting display, is unlikely to generate any serious change unless paralleled by a revolution of the masses.… Read the rest

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The Disease of Reflexive Cynicism

Jef Safi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Jef Safi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Fuller Pendleton writing at This Civilization in Ruins:

Reflexive thinking seems to pervade the landscape.  The causes are unclear, but its existence is undeniable.  We jump to conclusions, we utilize stereotypes, and all other manner of mental shorthand in order to come to decisions about people, things, and potential courses of action.  With more information than what can be reasonably processed in the amount of time we have to make many decisions, we have to use mental processes to sort between what is noise and what is a signal, pointing us towards a correct path.

When mental shortcuts used to evaluate the motivations and intentions of others tend in one person to cause them to be taken advantage of due to what is perceived to be their innocence or inability/unwillingness to question much of the motivations of others, we call that person “naïve.”  We evaluate it to be a kind of intellectual immaturity to trust the benevolent intentions of others, or to overestimate our own ability to proceed along a path we’ve set upon. 

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LGBT v. Fascism

Taken from the National Observer

Taken from the National Observer

While working on a piece, published at Rabble, about the big evil trade deal (TPP), written by corporations to protect profits at the expense of human rights, I saw first hand the reduction of the once fiercely political LGBT community in its appeal to corporate power. In this case, the deal was set to restrict access to HIV drugs, which affects LGBT people disproportionately.

Here, the movement has divorced itself from the rights of HIV positive (poz) people, which continue to be under threat seemingly for political reasons. If you look at the recent ambitions of the western gay rights movement, they have been based primarily on marriage equality. Gay marriage is a business friendly goal. To the point where the faces used to market it are exclusively white and upper class. Granting wealthy, white, gay men the right to marry each other was a very minor concession on the part of the state.… Read the rest

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Hedging on Wall Street: Clinton’s Finance Reforms Reek of Weak-Kneed Populism

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

thierry ehrmann (CC BY 2.0)

This article originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Jon Queally’s articles here.

As Bernie Sanders continues to draw record crowds and appears to be winning the battle for small-donor contributions, the campaign of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton—even as the former senator and secretary of state attempts to strike a more populist tone—continues to show it knows where the deep pockets are: Wall Street.

And as the Associated Press reports on Wednesday morning, the campaign’s strategic approach is rather easily documented:

Clinton’s economic agenda targets companies that focus on short-term profits and high-speed trading instead of investing in workers. The Democratic presidential candidate’s finance operation is going after their executives for another purpose — donations.

A day after proposing higher capital gains taxes on short-term investors, Clinton raised at least $450,000 Tuesday night at the Chicago home of Raj Fernando, a longtime donor.

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Slavoj Žižek: The Courage of Hopelessness

Andrew McCoubrey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Andrew McCoubrey (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Slavoj Žižek writes at the New Statesman:

The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that “thought is the courage of hopelessness” – an insight which is especially pertinent for our historical moment when even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us thinking to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction. There is no better example of the need for such courage than Greece today.

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The Internet is Making People Mad as Hell

3029920-poster-p-2-the-soothsayer-how-paddy-chayefskys-film-network-accidentally-predicted-the-mad-as-hell-futu

Back in September of 2014, Newsweek ran this article: The West’s Greatest Threat is the ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorist, Say Security Experts. The article mentions that, “Jean-Pierre Filiu, professor of Middle East studies at Paris School of International Affairs…is sceptical about the term ‘lone wolf’ in its purest sense, because only very rare cases – like Norway’s Anders Breivik – involve no outside help at all, but he says the threat from IS figures is becoming big.”

The term “outside help” is left undefined.

Last week, I came across this article: GOP senator warns of threat of ‘imminent’ terror plots. “…Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said he has no doubt a lone wolf attack will eventually be successful in the U.S. The terror threat environment has shifted from terrorist groups focusing on complex terror plots like the 9/11 attacks to smaller-scale attacks carried out by lone wolves who may have been inspired by groups like ISIS.” It basically says that since individual (and presumably Isis-inspired Muslim) terrorists don’t coordinate with anyone else, they are simply harder to anticipate, and capable of “slipping through the cracks” in security.… Read the rest

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Anti-austerity: Violent Protest and the Rolling Thunder

With anti-austerity protests breaking out in Greece, and her government in the midst of aggressive reshuffling, we are reminded of how necessary revolutionary violence is to pure ground-swell democracy. It is the political over-pour of mass frustration, the inevitable pressure release-valve of the underclass and economically damaged. While it can’t easily be characterised by such terms as good or justified, it is at least understandable in its appearance at such times – as the only available reaction the powerless have left to use once democracy has failed them. Fear the desperate animal so cornered.

It is possible to see, through the eyes of Greece’s vulnerable and downtrodden, that economic scarcity and austerity are the natural enemies of social justice, and that extreme neoliberal ideology exists in direct conflict with the collective spirit, with the actionable soul of democracy and her common-good offspring.… Read the rest

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