YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsDemocracy


January 13, 1999
Just a few bad apples, like the U.S. Congress, can give democracy a bad name. HOWARD BENSEN Woodland Hills
April 27, 2014 | By Mark Gevisser
In South Africa today, as the country celebrates the 20th anniversary of its democracy and prepares for elections, two deeply flawed folk heroes - one venal, the other violent - have commandeered the headlines. The president, Jacob Zuma, was recently found by the Public Protector, an independent constitutional body, to have misappropriated $20 million to upgrade his private home. And Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who awed the world with his speed running on prosthetic legs, is being tried for murder in the killing of his girlfriend.
June 30, 2012
Re "Political spenders now want secrecy," June 26 That transparency could somehow inhibit democracy is a dangerous idea, one that in fact threatens democracy itself. As if theU.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling - which essentially lets the political voices of a select few in this country rise drastically above all the rest - weren't undemocratic enough, now we need to maintain the anonymity of those voices as well? Why? Because if we don't, their companies might be boycotted and their phone lines might be bombarded with contrasting opinions?
April 21, 2014 | By Simon Roughneen
YANGON, Myanmar - Win Tin, one of Myanmar's most respected opposition leaders who was jailed for nearly two decades by his country's military rulers, died early Monday. He was 84. His death, attributed to organ failure, came as Myanmar marked the end of Thingyan, the Buddhist New Year, and five weeks after he was admitted to Yangon's main hospital on the evening of his 84th birthday. A former journalist who in 1988 co-founded the National League for Democracy Party with his longtime ally, Aung San Suu Kyi, Win Tin was one of the most prominent leaders of the movement to challenge the military junta that ruled what was then known as Burma.
September 16, 2012 | By Akhil Reed Amar
Monday marks the 225th anniversary of the turning point of the world - the hinge of modern human history. On Sept. 16, 1787, kings, czars, sultans, princes, emperors, moguls, feudal lords and tribal chieftains dominated most of Earth's landmass and population. Wars and famines were commonplace. So it had always been. Democracies had existed in a few old Greek and Italian city-states, but most of these small-scale republics had winked out long before the American Revolution. While Britain had a House of Commons and a broad-based jury system, hereditary British kings and lords still retained vast powers.
October 19, 2012
Re "The good fight," Opinion, Oct. 15 I read with sadness Jim Newton's column on newspaper publisher Tim Crews' fight to gain access to public records. The term, public records, says it all: This is information that should be accessible to the public. The people grant powers to the government, not the other way around. We the people better pay attention when a decision like making Crews pay $56,000 for his public records request limits access crucial to maintaining an informed democracy, or we will soon find that our democracy is no longer informed or a democracy.
July 12, 2012 | By Ted Rall
Under the new primary rules in California, the top two winners in a race go on to the general election, regardless of their party. Now the perverse result is that candidates of party A, which is overwhelmingly popular in their districts, must appeal to party B voters to win. ALSO: Photo gallery: Ted Rall cartoons Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s medical mystery mistake Poll: Is there a better way to break a...
July 4, 2013 | By Emad Mekay
Once the dust settles from Egypt's military coup Wednesday, the main victim won't be President Mohamed Morsi or the Islamists, who are survivors by nature. The real casualty will be democracy and people's faith in it. Egyptians will have lost their best chance at being an active part of their country's governance in more than 5,000 years. President Obama said he was "deeply concerned" about the coup. But the U.S. should also do some soul-searching; America's long relationship with Egypt's military has included funding, training and propagandizing, and many in Egypt can't help but feel that helped enable the coup.
December 17, 2011
Bill McKibben's Dec. 14 Op-Ed article decrying the influence of corporate money in Washington vis a vis the political battle over building the Keystone XL pipeline prompted several readers to say McKibben unfairly targeted those politicians who take the side of industry. One letter writer quipped that McKibben "writes an entire Op-Ed article about the corrupting influence of money in politics and never mentions the word 'union' once. " Reader Robert Helbing of Monrovia said big money influences all sides of a debate, including McKibben's own environmental activism: "Bill McKibben complains that oil company donations affect the votes of Republicans in Washington.
August 27, 2013 | By Tsvi Bisk
The events in Egypt are causing a great deal of moral and intellectual confusion in Western circles, preoccupied as they are with the concept of democracy (after all, ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was elected). Populist sentimentality abounds. I suggest, instead, judging events by the standards of constitutionalism - an ideology that asserts that human beings have certain unalienable rights that cannot be taken from them either by dictator or by the majority. Fareed Zakaria makes a good case for constitutionalism taking precedence over democracy in his book, "The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.
April 20, 2014 | By Andrew J. Bacevich
The government of Iraq last week announced that it had padlocked the infamous prison at Abu Ghraib. The gates are closed. The inmates moved. Whether the closure is permanent or temporary -- Iraqi officials suggest the latter -- this ought to qualify as a notable milestone. What does it signify? Sometimes a prison is just a building, its closure of no more significance than the demolition of a market or the shuttering of a strip mall. Yet from time to time, the closing of a facility constructed for the purpose of confining humans invites reflection.
April 20, 2014 | By Peter H. Schuck
Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings - the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision - will magnify inequality in U.S. politics. In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made "one dollar, one vote" (in one formulation)
April 6, 2014
Re "Even more money in politics?," Editorial, April 3 As an attorney, any remaining illusion I had that our highest judicial body decides cases on a nonpartisan basis is gone after reading the Supreme Court's decision in McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission. First, the tortured Citizens United finding in 2010 - that corporations have 1st Amendment rights similar to those of individuals - opened the floodgates for those who want to buy the government. After that, the Shelby County case gutted the Voting Rights Act, resulting in gleeful red states passing laws that prevent poor people and minorities from voting.
March 27, 2014 | By Jonathan Zimmerman
A few years ago, I found myself sitting on an airplane next to a gentleman from Egypt. Talk quickly turned to the upheaval in his country, where the so-called Arab Spring was in full bloom. "We want a real democracy," he told me, "not like yours. " When I pressed him to elaborate, he shot back with a question of his own. "How many times have you voted," he asked, "when someone named 'Bush' or 'Clinton' wasn't running?" The answer, I sheepishly admitted, was once: in 2008. Before that - going back to 1980, the first year I cast a ballot - every single presidential ticket featured someone from one of those two families.
March 23, 2014 | By Cindy Chang, This post has been corrected. See note at the bottom for details.
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As students occupied Taiwan's legislative chamber Sunday for a sixth day to protest a free-trade agreement with China, President Ma Ying-jeou denounced the takeover as a threat to democracy. Government officials have pledged not to use force to remove the protesters, who fear the agreement will hurt Taiwan's small businesses and give China too much influence. [Updated at 3:45 p.m., March 23: While the standoff continued at the legislature, a group broke into the government's main executive building Sunday night, reaching Premier Jiang Yi-huah's office.
March 9, 2014 | By The Times editorial board
Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma, has made substantial progress in the last few years, moving from military rule toward democracy, releasing political prisoners and freeing from house arrest Nobel Prize-winning democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. However, the government has relentlessly continued its appalling treatment of the Rohingya population that lives in Rakhine state in western Myanmar. A Muslim minority in an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, the Rohingya are effectively denied citizenship unless they can meet onerous requirements, such as tracing their lineage back decades.
March 5, 2014 | David E. Hayes-Bautista
Thanks to a recent ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, high school students in the Morgan Hill Unified School District south of San Jose won't be allowed to wear American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. That's too bad. The flags of both the United States and Mexico belong in any celebration of Cinco de Mayo, because it is, at its heart, a Mexican American holiday. The ban was instituted a year after hostilities broke out at Live Oak High School during a Cinco de Mayo celebration.
February 28, 2014 | Times Staff and Wire Reports
Huber Matos Benitez, whose disenchantment with the Cuban Revolution he had helped lead brought him the wrath of Fidel Castro and 20 years in prison, died Thursday in Miami after a heart attack. He was 95. His death was confirmed by his grandson, Huber Matos Garsault. In 1952 Matos was a teacher and rice farmer in his early 30s when Gen. Fulgencio Batista led a coup that overthrew democratically elected President Carlos Prio Socarras. Hoping to restore democracy to his country, Matos took up arms against Batista's forces.
Los Angeles Times Articles