If It’s Broken, Fix It!

The American Reality – not the Dream

There is no gentle way of saying this!  Why?  The people who inhabit the United States don’t find criticism of their reality any more welcome than does their sitting President. One might use a different title for this thought: Beyond Repair.  However, that title has been utilized by more than one of their more critical theorists already. 

            There are at first glance four ailments:

  1. The Electoral System
  2. The Governance Structure
  3. The Legal System 
  4. American Exceptionalism

Let’s Consider Each:

  1. The Electoral System that is currently used in the “Divided States” of America is not only divided, but more importantly, if you were to construct the worst possible electoral system, you couldn’t out-do the US.  For example, the Electoral College (now ancient) has lost total relevance in the 21st Century. The decentralized system – each state having its own electoral system for federal/national positions – not only the President, but also Congress: i.e. the Senate and House of Representatives is painful, all with equal irrelevance.  Congressional seats – ‘Down Ballot’ seats from the Presidential ballot – could/should continue at the federal/national level.  Other ‘Down Ballot’ ballot elections might stay at the state level of determination. 

To continue to have each state determine the Federal/National arrangements for Registration, Ballot style and construction, Counting of ballots, and Final Tabulation is hardly democratic or just; it’s time to be consistent, nationally recognized and regulated. Why has the Electoral College continued into the 21st Century? Why, also, can it be manipulated in some states by the Governor?  A patchwork quilt system hardly seems to give it elegance.

The 2020 election’s confusion and ‘legitimacy-crisis’ issues certainly raise enough questions to demand refining and fixing the present system and structure. It’s broken!

Put simply, why not determine the future President by the popular vote?

That, of course, does nothing for the structural ‘disabilities’ of the tripartite system of the US – the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court.  Why are there no ‘Checks and Balances’?  [see below]

2. The Governance Structure of the US is assumed to exemplify one of the ‘great democracies’. If you shout something often enough folks come to believe.  In fact, the present structure militates against deliberative, dialogical, constructive legislative action.  If the Senate and/or the House of Representatives is controlled by one party or the other … the President or one or the other legislative body is crippled.  In terms of what?  Crippled in terms of imagining or enacting needed legislation. The ‘most powerful man in the world’ becomes a ‘lame-duck’ President – Barak Obama being a prime example.

Democratic dialogue amongst political players becomes stilted, stalled, and endlessly embroiled in vitupritudeness behaviour and ultimately dislocated from the political intelligence necessary to govern.

There has always been vehement defenses of the US system … the problem is that it doesn’t work!  Hello!

3. The Legal System once in the hands of someone like Donald Trump as President exemplifies a kind of “Pardon Me” approach to legal matters.  The President can apparently pardon anyone – with the now necessary exception of himself. Thank, whomever comes to mind, for that! In the US judges (‘down ballot’ judges) are elected. Of course, the Supreme Court judges are appointed by the President as recently witnessed. In the Canadian model judges at all levels are appointed. The differences between these two models need ‘outing’ and exploration. The recent examples of Presidential pardons á la Donald Trump’s ‘colleagues’ are ridiculous and de-legitimize the legal system.  Why continue the charade?

4. ‘American Exceptionalism – The thematic Devastation of Intelligent Democratic Life and Language: The ‘Americans’ don’t understand that their moniker is an example of language theft or linguistic imperialism. Everyone in the western hemisphere is ‘American’ … some more than others, if that doesn’t seem non-inclusive.

However, “The leader of the Free World, the Most Powerful ‘Man’ in the world, the Greatest country in the world, the Greatest Democracy in the world” – these are not simply patriotic expressions (personal or national). They are ‘American’ ideological obsessions. Vapidity comes to mind. Tagged to these are perspectives that suggest that the US is a model of democracy and freedom, (for export and imposition anywhere).  The imperialism continues.  

One expression, that if it weren’t so critical (especially now) would be laughable, is that the US is a country laden with Checks and Balances!  At the moment, (November 2020) the thirst for checks and balances is so necessary – yet unavailable with the structures and systems outlined above.

Finally, ‘delusion’ has become normalized! A just, caring society would send Trump to prison for his various ‘exploits’ – sexual as well as financial.  To prison with mandatory mental health care thereafter!  But, in that order. Insanity should not exclude prosecution.

Delusion is not okay.  Paranoia can be creative … but it’s not in most everyday realities normal. Mary Trump – the President’s niece – stated in an MSNBC interview a couple of weeks  before the election, that the American Psychiatric Association should step in.  She, as a psychologist, recognized the ethical difficulty of diagnosing via TV or the reality of a stage podium.  We all comprehend and understand that.  I suggested after the Women’s March in 2016 that perhaps we might do just that.  Is the Shepard’s Hook not a form of check to bring balance?

            To conclude, to be fair, to be just, and to retain some sense of reality, truth, and to some extent some sense of humour, the United States, is one of the few countries in the world that has over the course of its existence, exhibited (alongside its racism, sexism, classism, imperialism –all not unique to the US, and given its continuing ‘civil war’), has exhibited a wealth of intelligent creative energy.  The question asked at the moment is this: Why haven’t responsible Republicans stepped up to the plate, to use the national sporting image, and applied the ‘Sheppard’s Hook’?  But, a more penetrating question over the long term is this: How have the people of the United States of America, the USA, allowed the past four years to happen?  There are urgencies in the world at the moment – Covid 19 – but more importantly,  the Climate Crisis.  And, of course, ridding the world of Donald Trump!

We must all step up!

The Bumper Sticker says it all:

If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention!

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Kinder Morgan Doc

 Sub-Mission ….. 2018

Middle Class Citizens vs. the Legal system, the Corporates, and the State!

When you begin to think about rational thought, rational action, and processes that lead to justice, there’s about as much leakage as there is from the most ancient weathered pipelines.   The Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby is over sixty years old and has leaked oil and dilbit over the years eighty-three times.   It runs through elementary schoolyard playgrounds.

As we live through an historical period that continues to isolate intelligent thought, the mainstream media – because of it’s corporate ownership or government leans (liens) – allows everyone to pretend that the media has no responsibility to participate in contemporary life. The mainstream news is hobbled, ‘asleep’, and ‘afraid’.

Below is my comment to the judge in the Supreme Court of BC. It’s intent was to cite some critical moments in this awkward legal structure. I was arrested May 25th at the Kinder Morgan site at Bayview Drive in Burnaby and appeared in court, pled guilty, and was sentenced in under a week.   How efficient! Interesting that my sentence was ten times that of my earlier protester colleagues. Instead of a $500 fine or twenty-five community service hours, I was sentenced to $5000 fine or two hundred and forty hours community service or jail time. If I hadn’t been sick earlier and had a medical test for which I’d waited three months I might have had the earlier sentencing. Interesting. I find it odd that anyone, including our MPs, would contribute to the Crown coffers. Our provincial government is using taxpayer monies to continue the Site C dam project in northern BC. No one should contribute money to these ecological disasters.

Regardless, the issues seem painfully clear in my statement to the judge   below (the fore and aft comments to the judge regarding the opportunity to speak related to his earlier denial of the freedom of speech in these proceedings):

Thank you, Your Honour, for the opportunity to speak.


This is a moment in our history when citizen involvement in democratic life engages corporate power and self-interested government incompetence in relationship to the First Nations Peoples of our country. There also seems to be government disinterest in climate change and environmental concerns. We are all environmentalists today whether or not we have children and grandchildren.

It is a time when evidence-based, scientific data indicate clearly that the Tar Sands Bitumen of Alberta must be Left In The Ground. There are viable alternatives.

My actions, and those of all who have resisted the Kinder Morgan proposal for a second pipeline, are an example of citizens who have out-researched the corporations, the governments, and have joined hands with the First Nations People of this province and our country.  

To be a citizen is a privilege … to assist corporate welfare and continue government ignorance of the scientific data is unconscionable.

This pipeline will not be built.

I celebrate that our courts of law at least recognize our citizen right to speak.

For that, I thank you.


It’s interesting that the historic concept of Civil Disobedience carries no power or sway in the hallowed halls of our judicial system. To protest and resist injustice is now seen as not only civil contempt of a court injunction but also as criminal contempt! It’s as the though the judge and the crown prosecutors are historically illiterate. Tolstoy, Gandhi, Thoreau, and such celebrated people as Rosa Parks are deemed irrelevant to the modern intelligent consciousness. Why?

In the court, I was the first to be given a harsher sentence. The Crown Council who had actually been extremely helpful to many, read section 52 of the Clayoquot Sound (MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. v. Brown (B.C.C.A.) [1994] decision as precedent:

It must be remembered that custodial sentences were not sprung suddenly upon these Appellants. As I have already mentioned, there were other trials and other unsuspended custodial sentences imposed before these ones, although they were imposed upon persistent offenders. Everyone who deliberately disobeys the law must accept the risk that courts will not continue to impose lenient sentences if they have proved ineffective in preserving the rule of law.   [my italics & my underline]

“Persistent Offenders” … Is that what we have become as citizens, as middle class citizens to fit the Prime Ministers ‘favourite Game’? Persistent Offenders who must be deterred!   Deterrence! What a powerful concept. Definitionally ‘deterrence’ “is the action of discouraging an action or event through instilling doubt or fear of the consequences”. Why would a legitimate court representing the citizens of the country, not the corporations or the government, want to ‘instil doubt or fear’ in their citizenry?   It sounds a bit infantile! Did someone miss the facts that relate to this pipeline debate along the way?

H.L. Mencken certainly understood the playfully serious nature of protesting and resistance:

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naïve and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime: he is a good citizen driven to despair.


When we reflect upon the dynamic of the Canadian Government’s now buying a sixty year old pipeline and advocating, on our behalf, a twinned future pipeline in its attempt to avoid either NAFTA or WTO reprisals from Kinder Morgan – a company of ex-Enron executives playing the Trudeau Liberals for chumps; when we reflect upon the Chinese Government’s buying some Syncrude stock under the Harper government’s tenure with the rider that the Bitumen must be brought to the west coast tidewater to be refined in China; when you realize the power the First Nations have brought with their questions regarding unceded lands and lack of appropriate environmental assessment before the courts; and when you recognize that the mainstream media has either reluctantly commented or thoroughly abandoned these perspectives, one begins to comprehend how ignorant or complicit the courts, the judiciary, and the media can be.


It’s simple math: we can burn less than 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Fossil fuel corporations now have 2,795 gigatons in their reserves, five times the safe amount. And they’re planning to burn it all — unless we rise up to stop them.” [350.org]


It’s time that a reckoning on this ridiculous project be brought before the public.

Citizens deserve to know more and to know more explicitly the form and nature of this project. It’s not scientifically justified – the data is clear; it’s not economically justified – this was known before the government’s purchase; and it’s not environmentally justified – if appropriately assessed. Interesting that the assessment never went beyond the Burnaby terminal. What about the Vancouver harbour, Salish Sea and beyond?

If you stand up as a person committed to ‘civil disobedience’ you should expect more. I find it odd that I have been judged as being in contempt of the courts – criminally so. My contempt is for the falsification of this project as presented by governments, the media, and Kinder Morgan. Why would the Canadian public fund this?


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Gordon A. Bailey is a retired sociologist from Capilano University in North Vancouver, BC. He has written books and articles on social theory, ideology, education, and since retiring, a trilogy of eco-detective fiction dealing with pipelines and our previous incipient ‘fascist’ government’s repression of the environment and science. He lives in Victoria, BC. His website is gordonabailey.com He was arrested May 25, 2108 in Burnaby at the Bayview Drive Kinder Morgan site.   He was given a sentence of 240 hours of Community Service while on six months probation.


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Trumpadorian Corkscrew

Two years ago, I commented to some of my American friends that I thought Donald Trump oddly expressed the ‘heart’ of the American people. The comment was made from the underside of the United States border in Guatemala. I also emailed some of my friends in the Bay Area and didn’t hear from them again until early summer as Trump made his bid for the presidency a more aggressive reality.   Reality shifted – creeping adjustments were beginning to be made everywhere on the US political landscape.

However, now it’s easy to get focussed when there are ‘facts’ and ‘alternative facts’ being forwarded, being waved across the screens that I have come to call our new prayer books – the ‘smart’ phones in our palms. Two things are happening simultaneously in the world of United States political life. One started with this recent electoral process, the other has been long on the ‘books’ but not out in the open – that the US has more work to become a lived democracy than a good many other countries in the world. American Intelligence has not always been an oxy-moron.

Let’s begin with the Donald Trump as President phenomenon. This is what we are facing at the moment. It typifies the necessary examination of the descent into the ‘heart’ of the US. All the evidence, if one can still use such terms, is that Donald Trump needs help.   He should either be in jail or in a mental institution. A TV columnist recently stated, “This isn’t policy, this is pathology. Let’s be clear.” The expression of ‘experts’ from the US and around the world has endlessly articulated the asinine, leading to the insane, behaviours of this man. Various diagnoses have been forwarded, all timely, except that a good number of experts carry forward the ‘ethical’ perspective that you can’t diagnose from a TV interview, a moment in a campaign, or now, from the presidential podium. Once passed the post, an odd phrase in itself given the US electoral system, Donald Trump has been overwhelmingly diagnosed a narcissist. He seems to be staring into a puddle!

But, there are some concerns with this. This is not a diagnosis from which there is hope for recovery according to ’experts’. It also raises the outrageous, but perhaps more important thought, that the American people as a collective are narcissistic. Let me gaze into my own puddle for a moment. At one point, as a Canadian, I had spent half of my life in the US. After ‘birthing’ in Montréal, Québec, I spent my early ‘Freudian’ years until seven in Minnesota, then my graduate years in Oregon, with various moments of Canadian, British, and Malaysian interlude. As so many experience, the fascination with the ‘American’ life often transfixes. Since then, I have spent the last twenty years as an ‘arrogant’ Canadian wondering: What is the Chip that is missing in the American psyche? What is it that they just don’t get?

Donald Trump is narcissistic. The American people are narcissistic. A couple of over-worked phrases help here: The US is the greatest country on earth. The President of the US is the most powerful man in the world. He is the leader of the free world. We are fighting for Freedom. These phrases are not only made by patriots. Wendell Berry, who some consider the greatest thinker and philosopher in recent US history, stated after 9/11 (to paraphrase) ‘we live in the greatest country on earth’ at the end of a full page piece in the New York Times. Michael Moore’s film, Where to Intervene Next, after richly examining many other countries in the world, ends with the thematic that it all came from the US. Is there some wild logic here? We needn’t meander through each of these to recognize their vapidity. The All About Me culture seems as vacuous as it is rampant. To call the President of the US the most powerful person on the planet doesn’t resonate very well when you look at the track record of one of their most eloquent and intelligent Presidents, Barak Obama. Some have called him too nice a guy!

One needn’t be a schooled historian to know that this country has intervened or invaded more countries than any other, yet continues to neglect its own ‘swamp’. Writing from Guatemala, one finds the new elected President’s comments before the CIA ‘stars’ extremely unwelcome. The ‘fact’ that he didn’t recognize these ‘fallen’ Americans many of whom may have transgressed the sovereign rights of others was one of his first faux pas. The fact that most Americans don’t understand the endless invasion of other countries undertaken by the CIA is disheartening. The ill-read, out-of-touch narcissistic behaviour of the man and the nation is frightening. There is a difference between fear and disgust!

The real issues that face the people of United States are so much deeper than the surface gaming we now see as Trump attempts to find his way into the Oval Office. Yet, it’s all of a piece. Yes, sexism and racism and classism are the present targets. It’s interesting that bell hooks stated that the women’s movement was the most successful movement of the 20th Century. The Women’s March resurrects that power. The removal of the Spanish White House website, the deaths of many African-American youth and others at the hand of police agencies over the past year, the ‘fact’ that Americans know less about those countries that they invade than most other nations in the world, the ‘fact’ that if you were to attempt to design an electoral system that wasted as much time and had as many loop-holes as the American one, you’d be hard pressed to come up with anything close – all leads to a narcissistic nation in decline and at civil war. To spend the past hundred years in Commie-Phobia further debilitates intelligent social/cultural systems of thought. And to export all of this as a Military-Industrial-Hollywood ‘complex’ driven 21st Century state, forcing it upon others, needs some review.

The United States has been in Civil War for over one hundred and fifty years.   To not recognize this is to have your head viewing your own eye brows in the puddle. Is narcissism impossible to overcome? All countries are experiments of sorts. There are few countries in the world that have the resources to pull out of their own demise? No one is going to intervene in the American time of re-think. Donald Trump is an overwhelming problem. To only focus on him wastes precious time. To try and get a white American male who voted Trump with ‘legitimate reasons’ to reflect upon America’s deeper problems seems like a heavy task.



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White Noise … Black Oil (It’s all about everything)

Just launched the third book in the Tom Severn Eco-Mystery series – White Noise … Black Oil at Talisman Books and Gallery on Pender Island.  I’ll be at Y’s Bookstore on Main Street in Vancouver on August 6th at 2:00pm  for a reading and get-together.

The ‘Feds’ attempt to put a stranglehold on Tom Severn’s endeavours as an eco-green detective!  Contradictions emerge.  Government policies and their ‘Action Plan’ started as ‘White Noise’, then began dismantling sound scientific work, environmental protections, research and Coast Guard stations, enacting the Anti-Terrorism bill … an endless list.  The ‘White Noise’ became drivel smothering our historically democratic country, pushing it toward fascism.  Because of his past case-work Tom Severn becomes one of their targets!!

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The Prayer Book Cowboy is now an ebook – available on Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, and Overdrive

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Self-publishing Workshop at Talisman Books and Gallery

I am presenting a workshop on self-publishing on May 28th for Talisman Books & Gallery’s Local Author’s month May 15 – June 14, 2014.

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Prayer Book Cowboy is now available as an EBOOK


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Welcome to Gordon A. Bailey’s blog

Currently, I am writing various forms of fiction and critical essays.  Although my background and writing has been in the field of academic research and work, I now explore memoir, poetry, and the short story within a critical frame.

It has been stated that we have more reviews of books than before. Perhaps more importantly, we have fewer and fewer critics, of literature, and of society.  I see my essay work as an attempt to probe, jostle, and push, the orthodoxy that seems ‘pre-settled’ by the various forms of media. The celebritization of everything, the currency given to anything and everything that shocks, the positivization of everything however trivial in various media seems destined to eventually lead to the demise of intelligent culture. Fanaticism needs to be out and explored!

Current writings:

  • The Jagged Cup.  A mystery involving a green, bicycle riding private investigator dealing with environmental issues in and around Vancouver.   With levity and humour these provoke thought and provide information about a number of crucial environmental issues.
  • Short Stories from the Greek Islands, Always Cleavage to explorations of contemporary life in BC, The Bookstore, are being developed as a collection.
  • An essay, The Carpenter’s Triangle, exploring the idea of a more relational, thorough rendering of contemporary life – one that examines the dynamics of the positive, the negative, and the critical in order to observe, research, and act in more wholistic (not holistic – Mr. Gates) forms.
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