Archive for the ‘ Democracy ’ Category

filed under: Democracy | South Providence

Meet Mayoral Candidates At Knight Library

3PM ON 14/04/2014
BY provcomlib

knight library (4.16) The mayoral candidates are participating in a series of three forums sponsored by PCL Friends groups and moderated by the League of Women Voters. The first event takes place this Wednesday at Knight Memorial Library.

  • Hear what the candidates for mayor of Providence have to say about neighborhood issues.
  • Ask questions and tell them what you think they need to know about schools, libraries, safety, and other issues of concern to you and your neighbors.

The May forum will be held at the Rochambeau Library and the June event will be held at Wanskuck. More details at Providence Community Library.

6pm to 8pm, Wednesday, April 16, Knight Library, 275 Elmwood Avenue


filed under: Democracy |

Master Lever Bill ‘Held For Further Study’

8PM ON 11/04/2014
BY Beth Comery

Thomas Dorr The continued existence of  the “master lever” is indefensible. Proof of this came earlier this week when no one came out to defend it.

One side came out in force, filling the hearing room and arguing that there’s no good reason for Rhode Island to be one of 14 states that lets voters make all their selections with a single stroke of the pen.

The arguments from the other side — with the exception of pushback from one lawmaker — weren’t heard at Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, because no one came to present them.

But as in past years, the committee capped an emotional discussion of the so-called “master lever” by voting to hold the bill that would abolish it for further study.

According to the Providence Journal several senators wanted more information. Aarrgh.

The many compelling arguments against straight party voting can be found at masterlever.org — check out the page “Notable Quotes.”

*Seen here is the mesmerizing State House statue of “Governor” Thomas W. Dorr, the 19th century populist who mobilized the disfranchised to demand changes to the state’s electoral rules. (Attention Senate Judiciary Committee: He sees into your soul . . . he knows what you did!)


filed under: Democracy | History

Erik Chaput To Discuss Dorr At Statehouse

9AM ON 21/03/2014
BY Daily Dose

The People's Martyr (3.21) Head over to the Statehouse to celebrate the official opening of the Statehouse Visitor Center with Secretary of State Ralph Mollis and author, and Providence College alum, Erik Chaput.

Immediately following opening remarks by Secretary Mollis, author Erik Chaput will speak about his book, The People’s Martyr: Thomas Wilson Dorr and His 1842 Rhode Island Rebellion, then sign copies in the hall outside the visitor center. Chaput’s book discusses the national implications of the Dorr Rebellion, and is sold in the visitor center.

2pm, Friday, March 21, Governor’s State Room, 2nd floor, State House, 82 Smith Street


filed under: Democracy |

Edward Snowden — Whistleblower/Hero

10PM ON 02/01/2014
BY Beth Comery

NSA Last May I wrote a post about the out-of-control expansion of the NSA and the entire Homeland Security apparatus. I was merely reporting on revelations from the PBS Frontline episode, “Top Secret America” which reflects two years of investigative reporting by Pulitzer prize-winning Washington Post journalist Dana Priest. I also took to task the head of the R.I. State Police and his enthusiastic embrace of the all this increased surveillance. Within 24 hours the post simply disappeared. In the entire six years this blog has been in existence, and after over 8,000 posts, this is still the only time a post has disappeared. (I wrote up that incident a couple of days later.) So I had the willies for a little while there. But I try very hard not to be an irrationally paranoid wingnut — and it seemed preposterous that the NSA or the state police would care what a little local blogger was saying about anything — after all, they are very busy people.

And a few weeks later we found out just how busy they were when Edward Snowden released his documentation of an out-of-control NSA that was harvesting our email and phone records, mining data records from Google and Yahoo, lying to congress, but also found time to infiltrate the World of Warcraft looking for evildoers (real great police work there), spy on their love interests (also known as stalking), and (uh oh) track the online sexual activity of people they termed “radicalizers” in order to discredit them.

So I consider Edward Snowden a hero, if for no other reason than his revelations helped persuade my friends that I may not be a nut after all. For other reasons the editorial board of The New York Times agrees and yesterday published a piece calling for President Obama to arrange for clemency, or a plea bargain or whatever, so Snowden could return to the U.S., adding, ” . . . he has done his country a great service.”

When someone reveals that government officials have routinely and deliberately broken the law, that person should not face life in prison at the hands of the same government. That’s why Rick Ledgett, who leads the N.S.A.’s task force on the Snowden leaks, recently told CBS News that he would consider amnesty if Mr. Snowden would stop any additional leaks. And it’s why President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mr. Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home.

They also have a nice little list of some of the more egregious NSA offenses and recent findings. Also of interest: last Sunday on ‘Face the Nation’ another NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, and Snowden’s legal advisor Jesselyn Radack, explain why they believe Snowden wouldn’t get a fair hearing in the United States.


filed under: Democracy | Washington

The Incredible Shrinking State

12PM ON 31/12/2013
BY Daily Dose

faux streetscape Your assignment for the new year is to convince at least one interesting person to move to Rhode Island. Or have a baby, although the babies tend to grow up and move away. The Providence Journal reports that Rhode Island is in danger of losing its fourth congressional seat due to declining population (“Despite population bump, R.I. Inches closer to losing seat in U.S. House” — 12.30.13). Meanwhile states like Texas swell like hideous carbuncles, threatening to increase their enlightened influence in Washington. And North Dakota may become a player with the proliferation of its ghastly oil boomtowns. (Who will the roustabout constituency likely send to congress?) Of course the point may be moot now that the U.S. Congress has become the frozen clutch of the modern democratic world.

Journal staff writer Paul Edward Parker does a good job of explaining the formula used to apportion house seats. Further, he reminds us that “A state’s population also is used to determine the distribution of federal money.” We’re screwed.


filed under: Civil Liberties | Democracy

‘Stop Watching Us’ The Video — End NSA Surveillance Now

8AM ON 24/10/2013
BY Beth Comery

I’ll get this right our there: I consider Edward Snowden to be a hero. Turns out there are more like him, NSA whistleblowers now being charged with espionage and in need of protection from the government they once proudly served.

A coalition of politicians, veterans, actors, and commentators, as well activist groups like Demand Progress, have made the above video to bring attention to an upcoming Washington rally (Saturday, October 26) and proposed legislation aimed at curbing/ending the surveillance activities of the NSA. (Bob Plain spoke with former Rhode Island state rep, and Dose founder, Dave Segal of Demand Progress; read the write-up at RIFuture.)

Saturday marks the 12th anniversary of the infamous Patriot Act. Among those who will not be celebrating this joyous occasion are Brazil, Mexico, Britain, France, and most recently, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was a tad peeved to find out that her cell phone was being tapped by an ally. (NYT 10.24.13)

Ms. Merkel’s angry call to Mr. Obama was the second time in 48 hours – after a similar furor in France prompted Mr. Obama to call President François Hollande — that the president found himself on the phone with a close European ally to argue that continuing revelations of invasive intelligence gathering should not undermine decades of hard-won trans-Atlantic trust.

Oh yeah, this is making us much safer. More info at “Stop Watching Us.”

more »


filed under: Democracy |

Special Athenaeum Salon (Action Speaks) Feat. The Gov

12PM ON 22/10/2013
BY Daily Dose

Providence Athenaeum (10.23) AS220 and RI Council for the Humanities (RICH) present a special edition of Action Speaks: Underappreciated Days that Changed America: “September 1965: DEMOCRACY DEMANDS WISDOM; 89th Congress establishes Arts and Humanities as essential to global leadership,” at the Providence Athenaeum.

Are the humanities “in peril” as many sources suggest? Join us to unpack the historical moment when the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts were formed in order to examine the context today. What is the future of the humanities for knowledge, for leadership, for society, and for progress and prosperity? How are the public humanities a source of innovation in the 21st Century economy? How do we move the dial? John Tessitore, Program Director of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, will join us for the event.

Actions Speaks host and co-executive producer Marc Levitt will moderate a panel discussion examining the state of the humanities in America today with panelists Lincoln Chafee, Governor of RI; Alexander Bloom, Professor of History, Wheaton College; Nancy Carrioulo, President, RI College; and Kipp Bradford, educator, technology consultant and entrepreneur.

[Democracy demands wisdom? We are so screwed. BC.]

Free and open to public, 5:30pm to 7pm, Wednesday, October 23, Providence Athenaeum, 251 Benefit Street


filed under: Democracy | Washington

Authors Of “Dollarocracy” To Speak At Brown

4PM ON 25/09/2013
BY Dave Segal

Dollarocracy There’s a great free event at Brown next Wednesday, October 2nd, about the biggest threat to American democracy — and how we can fix it.  It’s cosponsored by a number of great orgs, including: Brown Democracy Matters, RI Progressive Democrats of America, and mine, DemandProgress.

When President Barack Obama was reelected, some pundits argued that, despite unbridled campaign spending, here was proof that big money couldn’t buy elections. The exact opposite was the case. The 2012 election was a quantum leap: it was America’s first $10 billion election campaign. And it solidified the power of a new class in American politics: the fabulously wealthy individuals and corporations who are radically redefining our politics in a way that, failing a dramatic intervention, signals the end of our democracy. It is the world of “Dollarocracy.”

Join Nation magazine DC correspondent/MSNBC contributor John Nichols and renowned communications scholar Robert McChesney for a discussion of their new book: Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America.

Free, 7pm, Wednesday, October 2, Smith-Buonanno Hall, Brown University, Rm 106, 95 Cushing Street (corner of Cushing and Brown Streets)


filed under: Democracy | elections

The ‘New Yorker’ Notes Newly Signed NPV Law In RI

2PM ON 25/07/2013
BY Daily Dose

state house Good piece in the New YorkerElectoral College Halfway Fixed — making note of Rhode Island’s passing of the National Popular Vote legislation. Contributing editor Hendrik Herztberg finds the bipartisan support heartening and finally puts a stake in the fallacious argument that the electoral college somehow lends greater influence to our small state.

Defenders of the electoral-college status quo always assert that it’s good for the little guys. . . If they were right, though, Presidential campaigns would pour money and organizational muscle into Rhode Island and its little red brothers, like Wyoming, and little blue sisters, like Delaware. But, of course, the campaigns totally ignore Rhode Islanders and their concerns, because Rhode Island is a one-party lock

We could not possibly get less national attention at election time than we have in the past.


filed under: Democracy |

View Sample Ballot, Find Your Polling Place, Then Vote

9AM ON 06/11/2012
BY Daily Dose

RI State House

Find out who your elected officials are, check your voter registration, locate your local board of canvassers, view sample ballots for upcoming elections, and find out where your polling place is. There are two search options. Go to the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Center.


filed under: Democracy |

Salt Lake City Nixes Romney The Businessman

10AM ON 05/11/2012
BY Beth Comery

mormon undies A final plea to the aging, white males who want to see the successful businessman in the White House, please heed Bill Maher’s recent warning about who you will be going to bed with.

When you’re electing Mitt, you aren’t just electing him. You’re electing every right-wing nut he’s pandered to in the last ten years. If the “Mitt-mobile” does roll into Washington, it’ll be towing behind it the whole anti-intellectual, anti-science freak show: the abstinence obsessives, the flat-earthers, home-schoolers, holy warriors, the anti-women social Neanderthals, the closeted homosexuals, and every end-timer who sees the Virgin Mary in the grass over the septic tank.

Romney has proven to be an astute businessman when it comes to his own portfolio but displays little acumen regarding the federal budget. And eldest Romney son, Tagg, and his private-equity firm Solamere Capital, just can’t wait to empty the latter into the former via government contracts (defense contractors, fracking concerns, for-profit colleges). The recent Providence Journal editorial on this topic noted,

Solamere touts its “access to compelling opportunities.” Indeed.

(Also read Froma Harrop’s excellent piece — 11.4.12.)

More after the jump.

more »


filed under: Democracy | Economics

Obama Talking Point Three — Prosperity And Growth

9AM ON 22/10/2012
BY Beth Comery

clinton at dnc If you want a robust economy, and a job, put a Democrat in the White House. Some facts from Uncle Bill.

You see, we believe that “we’re all in this together” is a far better philosophy than “you’re on your own.” (Cheers, applause.) It is.

So who’s right? (Cheers.) Well, since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats, 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private sector jobs.

So what’s the job score? Republicans, 24 million; Democrats, 42 (million). (Cheers, applause.)

Complete transcript and video of President Clinton’s DNC speech at Politico.


filed under: Democracy | journalism

More Cuts At ProJo

10AM ON 08/09/2012
BY Beth Comery

Old Journal Building A sad day indeed. Ian Donnis and Scott MacKay report on the new staffing cuts at the Providence Journal and offer up a brief history of the ProJo’s sad decline from one of the finest privately-owned papers in the country to now. (WRNI 9.7.12)

The Journal had considerable swagger in the ’90s, with the kind of deep staffing suited to a state rich with colorful, sometimes eye-popping source material.

However, the new corporate owners (the ProJo was purchased in 1997 by the Belo Corporation) had motivations other than journalistic excellence, and declining circulation and ad revenues have further conspired to erode the bottom line. So here we are now on the brink. But newspapers are not buggy whip factories to be briefly mourned as quaint relics of the past. We desperately need that “deep staffing” to keep an eye on things — the democracy depends on it.

(The Pew Research Center’s ‘Project for Excellence in Journalism’ provides perspective from around the country, “Building Digital Revenues Proves Painfully Slow.”)


filed under: Democracy | journalism

Watergate — 40th Anniversary

8AM ON 11/06/2012
BY Beth Comery

woodward & bernstein

Go to The Washington Post for a comprehensive retrospective of investigative journalism’s finest hour. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein once again share a byline for their unique take on the legacy — “Nixon was far worse than we thought.” Tonight, Monday at 6:15pm, Woodward and Bernstein, along with many other Watergate figures, will speak at a ‘Washington Post Live’ forum (watch it streamed live here).

This will give you just enough time for a Watergate double-feature. First watch “All the President’s Men” with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman, of course. Then click here and watch the under-appreciated 1999 satire, “Dick,” a New York Times ‘Critics Pick’ starring Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams.

. . . an uproariously dizzy satire that reduces the Watergate scandal into a goofy Nancy Drew caper for starry-eyed teeny-boppers . . . Mr. Woodward (Will Ferrell) and Mr. Bernstein (Bruce McCulloch) . . . are portrayed as a ludicrous journalistic dog-and-pony show; one is puffed up and stuffy, the other a pudgy, competitive little creep who tries to steal his colleague’s information.

The cast is everybody fanastic. But in all seriousness, we need newspapers!!!! Our democracy depends on it.


filed under: Democracy | Media

Please ProJo, Fix Your Website

2PM ON 01/02/2012
BY Beth Comery

projo Consider this an open letter to the Providence Journal.

The people of Rhode Island need your newspaper. A lot is at stake here. Imagine what would go on in this state, and in the cities and towns, if the paper were to fold. With all due respect to the great investigative reporting done at the local television stations, the Providence Journal has always been relied upon to take on the long-ranging, in-depth investigations that have ferreted out the entrenched corruption and criminal enterprises that continually plague our state, cities and towns.

We know that with subscriptions dwindling, newspapers have to make money from their online content, but why not just adopt the New York Times paywall model, which charges when a reader crosses a certain threshold of article views? Felix Salmon has written an illuminating piece on this subject for Reuters. Turns out that a somewhat porous paywall system is working just fine for the Times and several other papers as well.  (“How the NYT paywall is working” 8.12.11. I also found another recent Reuters piece very helpful in understanding this issue — “The year of the newspaper paywall” by Clay Shirky, 1.6.12.)

But the current online ProJo set-up, a bifurcated mishmash of mini-reports and hidden content, is confusing and frustrating. Nobody can find anything or link to anything. Just yesterday I sent a link to friends of a video-feature taped on Monday night and posted hours later — and it was wonderful — but the video was swapped out in under 12 hours and has evaporated completely. No archive, nothing. So the link didn’t even connect to the video, it connected to the video space. This just isn’t how people would ever use this.

(Continued after jump.)

more »


filed under: Democracy |

Overturn ‘Citizens United’

10PM ON 04/01/2012
BY H.L. Parker

bernie sanders Corporations are not people. Unfortunately we may now be facing the enormous effort and expense of having to pass a constitutional amendment making that seemingly obvious concept the law of the land. Nothing less than the democracy is at stake. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders recently appeared on The Colbert Report calling on Americans to support his proposed Saving American Democracy (SAD) Amendment and help overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs. FEC. Says Sanders, “We can not have a handful of large entities spending hundreds of millions of dollars electing the candidates who will represent their interests.”

Click here for more on the proposed constitutional amendment and to sign the Sanders petition. His book The Speech: a Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class is the complete text of his eight-and-a-half-hour filibuster decrying the President’s plan to preserve the Bush tax cuts, and all it symbolized: the bankrupting of the middle class, corporate greed, and the impotence and corruption of today’s Congress. (NYT 12.11.10)

Lawrence Lessig writes on the same topic in Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It, excerpted last October in Rolling Stone magazine.


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