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Stan Grant nails the deep-seated wrecking ball which lies in the heart and soul of that sham people call US Democracy.

The sick politics at the heart of this week's US crisis go deeper than Donald Trump

By International Affairs Analyst Stan Grant

Posted 4ddays ago, updated 4ddays ago
Trump, standing in front of a row of US flagss holds up a gloved fist to acknowledge a crowd
The President's dangerous delusions are a reminder the US has always teetered on the edge of collapse.(AP: Jacquelyn Martin)
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This week's insurrection in Washington has been shocking but not at all surprising. It's part of a long deep unravelling of America.

The angry mobs storming the Capitol building reflect a broken country where tens of millions of people have traded the American dream for American carnage and no longer know what truth is.

American politics, business and media have been complicit in delivering the US to this moment.

The sad scene of a country that billed itself as a beacon of democracy — always contestable anyway — now tearing itself apart has also revealed the hypocrisy of those condemning it.

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Duration: 33 seconds33s
 
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Trump supporters scuffle with police outside the Capitol building.

Former president George W Bush says it is a "sickening and heartbreaking" attack on democracy. America, he says, resembles a "banana republic".

But this is from a man who pushed the idea of Saddam Hussein possessing weapons of mass destruction as a pretext for the invasion of Iraq.

His lies led to more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths, upturned the Middle East, setting off unending conflict, and cost the US $US2 trillion.

Bill Clinton says the attack on the US Capitol building is fuelled by four years of "poisonous politics" by Donald Trump.

This is Clinton who as president disgraced the White House, perjured himself and became only the second president to be impeached; Donald Trump became the third.

While Trump pedals his conspiracies of election fraud, remember Hillary Clinton told Democrats there was "a vast right-wing conspiracy" trying to destroy her husband's presidency.

US president George W Bush declares combat operations in Iraq over
Former US president George W Bush's own lies have created instability in the Middle East, writes Stan Grant.(Reuters: Larry Downing)

America has always teetered on the edge of collapse

American political leaders have been playing loose with the truth, deepening partisan divisions and whipping up anger amongst their supporters for decades.

Trump has exploited sick politics: from Richard Nixon's Watergate lies and corruption to Bush and Clinton, the road leads to Donald Trump.

The President's dangerous delusions and his crazed followers should remind us that America has always teetered on the edge of collapse: a nation born in crisis and awash with bloodshed.

Let's not forget it was created by revolution, torn apart by civil war and has seen presidents assassinated.

The 1960s were marked by violence, revolt and political killings and they lit the fuse for division and tribalism.

America is locked in a perpetual culture war, lacerated by class, race and faith.

Political writer Michael Cohen traces today's malaise to the election of Nixon in 1968, a time he calls a "maelstrom", a violent whirlpool of disorder.

Americans formed battle lines, shouting each other down over black civil rights, gay equality, family values, gun laws, abortion or feminism.

That year revealed a deep cleavage among the American people and it profoundly reshaped politics. The Democrats lost the white working class that was captured by an increasingly conservative and religious Republican right.

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Duration: 2 minutes 41 seconds2m 41s
 
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US President Donald Trump condemns the violence in the US Capitol.

Trump didn't pretend to govern for all

Trump was right when he said: "This country was seriously divided before I got here."

At least presidents before him paid lip service to unity. Trump has never pretended that he governs for all.

The country was ripe for his brand of political opportunism: us-versus-them populism feeding on fear, anxiety and exploiting racism.

He was a Barnum and Bailey political circus act made for the 24/7 media age, where "truth" is a matter of opinion.

Journalist Matt Taibbi in his book Hate Inc says the news media is addictive and anxiety inducing, pitting people against each other while often failing to hold power accountable.

The big cable news broadcasters, he says, are politically partisan, each speaking into their own echo chambers.

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Duration: 9 seconds9s
 
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Rioters seen posing with police on social media.

Little wonder Americans have lost faith in truth and trust in institutions.

Growing inequality has fractured the country, with the working poor left behind while power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of what has been dubbed an "American meritocracy".

The financial crash of 2008 left the country poorer and deeply scarred; ordinary Americans lost their homes and their jobs while rich bankers got bailed out.

Research by economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton reveals a shattered America of broken families, drug dependency, increasing suicide, declining wages or no work at all.

To these people, they say, Washington politics "looks more like a racket".

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Duration: 2 minutes 20 seconds2m 20s
 
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Joe Biden slams pro-Trump mob as 'domestic terrorists'.

A return to politics as usual is not enough

Trump will soon be gone from office and the Democrats will now control both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Joe Biden has an opportunity to deliver change to America but nothing he has said thus far gives us any confidence he can reverse 40 years of drift, despondency and disillusion.

After the mayhem of this week, all he has had to offer is the same old platitudes of coming together and respecting the rule of law.

This crisis demands more than Biden's appeal to decency and consensus. A return to politics as usual is not enough.

America appears as a nation that refuses to be governed. Some have called the events of this week an attempted "coup" or "sedition", and there are those fearing a wider conflict.

Time to break up the union?

So where to America? It could always disintegrate; fracture and break apart.

In his new book Break it Up, writer Richard Kreitner says: "There never was any guarantee the country would survive, and there is none now."

Kreitner reminds us America has always lived with the threat of collapse. From the start, there were those who believed even then the union was too big to hold.

Read more about the fallout from the US election:

It survives by compromise and when that failed in the 1860s Americans made war on each other.

Today it is a country whose electoral college system can ignore popular will, whose Supreme Court is politically stacked, where power is held and passed around like a family heirloom.

Kreitner says there is too much at stake for complacency. He says Americans "need to recreate" their country.

The constitution needs an overhaul. Congress doesn't work, the House is not truly representative and the Senate has too much power.

The country's deep inequalities are destroying the promise of America. It must redistribute wealth and reach back to those left behind.

Kreitner's book is not a call for an end to America but a warning about how it could end. After this week it is timely and sobering reading.

He quotes one of the founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin: "We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Franklin left Americans a gift and a curse: "A republic, if you can keep it."

Posted 4ddays ago, updated 4ddays ago
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Whilst I'm not at all surprised at the storming of the US Capital, the worst may well still be ahead of us

Apparently there are 50 planned armed 'Rallies' earmarked for the 50 State capitals (in the last fews days of the run-up to the Biden inauguration) This is according to the FBI (use google for more details)

A frightening prospect even if only a few of these rallies get going

They're going to need a lot of law enforcement just to quell things down.  The reports are very real too, not scaremongering

These people are fanatical and they seem to have a complete disregard for the law.  And they number in the millions

If we get say, 3 (of 50) carbon copies with what happened at the Congress building,  lives will be lost.  Many lives (especially when considering their archaic gun laws)

Parler has been shut down at least but there are numerous other forms of social media where these fanatics can organise themselves

I'm all for free speech as long as it doesn't endanger peoples lives

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Nobody is better at being impeached than Trump. Just  ask him. 

Now lets hope the GOP has the balls to pass his impeachment in the senate and vote to have him barred from ever running again. The sooner this piece of [censored] is in jail and out of the public's eye, the better this world will be.

 

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22 minutes ago, Pickett2Jackson said:

Trump will win.

Look at what the cat dragged in.  I wondered when you would have the nerve to post in this thread again. 

You've finally emerged from under your rock and are doing a great impression of a dog returning to its vomit.

Any chance you'll stop this nonsense when Biden is inaugurated and your man Donny is in jail?

 

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50 minutes ago, demonstone said:

Look at what the cat dragged in.  I wondered when you would have the nerve to post in this thread again. 

You've finally emerged from under your rock and are doing a great impression of a dog returning to its vomit.

Any chance you'll stop this nonsense when Biden is inaugurated and your man Donny is in jail?

 

 

Settle down man, the footys back soon.

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Just now, Pickett2Jackson said:

 

Settle down man, the footys back soon.

A+ for trolling.

Donald would be proud. 

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A more than revealing podcast from The New York Times ... well worth a listen.  Towards the end of the 30 minute podcast a suggestion was made that these groups might decide to bide their time for a year or 2.  And that they are not going away in a hurry

Is More Violence Coming?

Quote

Without a central place to congregate, groups have splintered off into other, darker corners of the internet. That could complicate the efforts of law enforcement to track their plans.

We ask whether the crackdown on social media has reduced the risk of violence — or just made it harder to prevent.

 

And here's a revealing article from SBS

FBI warns armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration

Quote

The FBI has warned of possible armed protests being planned for Washington, DC, and at all 50 US state capitals in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s 20 January inauguration, a federal law enforcement source said on Monday.

Threatened with more violence from outgoing President Donald Trump’s supporters following last Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol, the FBI issued warnings for next weekend and run at least until Inauguration Day, the source said.

 

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19 minutes ago, Macca said:

A more than revealing podcast from The New York Times ... well worth a listen.  Towards the end of the 30 minute podcast a suggestion was made that these groups might decide to bide their time for a year or 2.  And that they are not going away in a hurry

Is More Violence Coming?

 

And here's a revealing article from SBS

FBI warns armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration

 

We ain't hear the last from this lunatic: all he has done is cleave the divide in the US straight down the middle. In an ordinary so-called Democracy, he would have been jailed  for this fraudulent real estate shenanigans. Instead, in this lunatic asylum run by the chief lunatics, the Trump reigns. His resonance will reverberate for many years: it can only happen in a country which has and continues to lie about itself and will until its inevitable Armageddon. 

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3 minutes ago, dieter said:

We ain't hear the last from this lunatic: all he has done is cleave the divide in the US straight down the middle. In an ordinary so-called Democracy, he would have been jailed  for this fraudulent real estate shenanigans. Instead, in this lunatic asylum run by the chief lunatics, the Trump reigns. His resonance will reverberate for many years: it can only happen in a country which has and continues to lie about itself and will until its inevitable Armageddon. 

Trump has tapped in and emboldened a part of America that has always existed.  Lord help them (the good Americans - Republicans included)

It's going to be an interesting week ahead deets.  Not holding my breath that there won't be carnage of some description

Trump hosing down future violence won't help that much.  These fanatics have already made up their minds.  They're angry and almost certainly well-armed

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I will give Donald credit for one thing... his administration has led to some of the greatest memes ever seen. 

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14 hours ago, Macca said:

It's going to be an interesting week ahead deets.  Not holding my breath that there won't be carnage of some description

Can’t help but think that this may be partially the reason Trump is refusing to attend the inauguration.

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45 minutes ago, hardtack said:

Can’t help but think that this may be partially the reason Trump is refusing to attend the inauguration.

Hadn't thought of that ht but I couldn't see him attending the ceremony anyway

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This 60 minute podcast takes you inside the Congress building as the unruly mob were taking control ... first hand accounts with frightening (real) audio emanating from the perpetrators throughout

Most inside the building would have been fearing for their lives with Vice President Pence (amongst many others) only minutes away from being ambushed.  Many other high profile targets from both sides of the house were being hunted down by these crazed imbeciles.  Policemen beating into other policemen (that did happen by many reports)  Utter chaos

Four hours of insurrection (A must listen IMV)

Quote

Today, we reconstruct the riot inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 — hearing from the lawmakers, journalists and law enforcement officials who were there, and answering lingering questions about how things went so wrong.

 

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7 hours ago, Macca said:

This 60 minute podcast takes you inside the Congress building as the unruly mob were taking control ... first hand accounts with frightening (real) audio emanating from the perpetrators throughout

Most inside the building would have been fearing for their lives with Vice President Pence (amongst many others) only minutes away from being ambushed.  Many other high profile targets from both sides of the house were being hunted down by these crazed imbeciles.  Policemen beating into other policemen (that did happen by many reports)  Utter chaos

Four hours of insurrection (A must listen IMV)

 

Still haven’t seen a good explanation as to why the insurrection failed. Yes most were there to cause some trouble, do a bit of looting and take selfies but there were a number of well armed, military trained groups determined to take hostages and it appears they had inside intelligence, they had maps of tunnels and help from some of the defenders. The defenders were undermanned, unprepared and abandoned by whoever should have deployed the National Guard, and the FBI who were warned of what was brewing but appears to have done nothing. Is it a case that if only the mob threatening the Capitol had been Muslim, Latino, Black or Communist we would have been ready? For some reason the well armed mob was halted by a few brave officials barricaded behind a door armed with pistols. 

If ever a US disaster needs to be forensically investigated, it’s this one. 

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3 minutes ago, Earl Hood said:

Still haven’t seen a good explanation as to why the insurrection failed. Yes most were there to cause some trouble, do a bit of looting and take selfies but there were a number of well armed, military trained groups determined to take hostages and it appears they had inside intelligence, they had maps of tunnels and help from some of the defenders. The defenders were undermanned, unprepared and abandoned by whoever should have deployed the National Guard, and the FBI who were warned of what was brewing but appears to have done nothing. Is it a case that if only the mob threatening the Capitol had been Muslim, Latino, Black or Communist we would have been ready? For some reason the well armed mob was halted by a few brave officials barricaded behind a door armed with pistols. 

If ever a US disaster needs to be forensically investigated, it’s this one. 

Yes I agree Earl and from what I can gather it is being forensically investigated.  They're making a number of arrests and many of the perpetrators are being identified as a matter of course

Not sure we're going to like some of the answers we might get though (as to why,  who,  motives & agendas)

It is certainly a divided country and that makes one appreciate how relatively good we've got it here.  The Coalition & the ALP aren't all that different from each other as I see it and the issues we have are quite mild in comparison to the States

As an example,  they don't seem to know how to deal with Covid but we're right on top of it on a day to day basis.  Their 'attitude' to the wearing of masks is negligent where as here we tow the line and do the right thing

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6 minutes ago, demonstone said:

Poor diddums, you must be devastated.

Trump the loser has GORN and it's the end of an error.  

Unfortunately, Diddums is right about the coming wars: it's the only part of Trump's farewell speech which wasn't a lie. Biden, like Hilary has war drum form- he wanted to invade Iran in 2009. I guess, in the end, you can't stop the US from being itself - a crazed nation of warmongers.

JANUARY 20, 2021

On “True Democracy”

BY PAUL STREET

On January 5, 2021, one day before Trump sparked his fascist Attack on the Capitol, the liberal New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg called for Americans “to defend democracy” by “investigating” Trump and wrote these words:

True democracy in America is quite new; you can date it to the civil rights era. If Trump’s Republican Party isn’t checked, we could easily devolve into what political scientists call competitive authoritarianism, in which elections still take place but the system is skewed to entrench autocrats.”

That was a remarkable two sentences.

One must be an abject ignoramus to think that the United States became a “true democracy” in the 1960s and 1970s (“the civil rights era”).

Five and a half decades after Bloody Sunday and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the nation still doesn’t elect its president through a nationwide popular vote but rather through a bizarre Electoral College system designed to appease slaveholders in the 18th Century. Under the nation’s ancient, deeply conservative Constitution, the American presidential election system is skewed to overrepresent that most reactionary parts of the country. It is next to impossible to remove a criminal sitting president prior to one of the nation’s strictly time-staggered quadrennial and undemocratic elections. And even after losing an election he clearly tried to subvert, a deranged right-wing president like Donald Trump is insanely but constitutionally granted seven more weeks wreak havoc from the seat of the most dangerous office on Earth.

The nation’s system for apportioning representatives to the powerful upper body of its legislature is even more absurdly skewed towards the absurd overrepresentation of its most right-wing regions. It boldly violates the elementary democratic principle of one person, one vote by giving every state just two U.S. Senators regardless of each state’s total populations. The problem has worsened thanks to a significant shift of population from rural and interior areas to metropolitan and coastal regions over recent decades.

The House of Representatives and most state legislatures are badly skewed to the right by widespread partisan and racial gerrymandering.

Further skewing the system to the starboard side, the American “citizens” of half-Black Washington D.C. (which has more residents than two U.S. states) lack U.S. Senators and full representation in the U.S. House. The American LatinX “citizens” of Puerto Rico (home to 3 million people, a larger population than 18 U.S. states) don’t have voting members of Congress and don’t vote in presidential elections.

The nation’s voting system has been further skewed rightward by racist voter suppression for many decades. It doesn’t help that the Supreme Court gutted key protections formerly to Black voters granted (under the Voting Rights Act) in the 2013 Shelby Count v. Holder decision.

The right-wing federal court system, appointed for life, holds authoritarian policy-vetoing power via constitutionally mandated judicial review. It skews well to the right of majority public opinion.

As if all this isn’t bad enough, the judicially sanctioned domination of American politics by the superior campaign finance weight of concentrated wealth (under two plutocratic Supreme Court decisions – Citizens United [2010] and Buckley v. Valeo [1976]) combines with numerous other mechanisms of ruling class domination (please see the chapter titled “How They Rule” in my 2014 book They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy) to further ensure that the policy preferences of the nation’s working-class majority are regularly trumped by those of the wealthy Few.

By numerous rigorously researched political science accounts[1], the United States is a corporate and financial oligarchy whose “democratic” political and policy contests typically amount to battles between “competitive authoritarian” blocs of capital.

Democracy? “True democracy”? Really? When did that happen in America, exactly?

The great majority of Americans opposed the Trump tax cut of December 2017. So what? It went through anyway.

Seven in ten Americans now back Single Payer health insurance, hardly surprising amidst an epic pandemic. Who cares? As we hold our breath waiting for the beginning of Wall Street Democrat Joe Biden’s presidency, universal national health insurance isn’t remotely on the policy table.

Corporate “No Empathy” Joe suggested as a candidate that he would veto Medicare for All if it came to his desk. This was consistent with his promise to elite financial backers in 2019: “nothing would fundamentally change” – there would be no downward distribution of wealth, income, and power – when he became president.

“We must make our choice,” onetime Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis is reputed to have said or written: “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”

The choice was made long ago, from the top down. As the great American philosopher John Dewey observed in 1932, U.S. “politics is the shadow cast on society by big business.” Dewey rightly predicted that U.S. politics would stay that way for as long as power resided in “business for private profit through private control of banking, land, industry, reinforced by commend of the press, press agents, and other means of publicity and propaganda.”

Eight decades later, more than three decades into the arch-capitalist post-New Deal Neoliberal era, Noam Chomsky put it very well: “Since the 1970s, [Dewey’s] shadow has become a dark cloud enveloping society and the political system. Corporate power, by now largely financial capital, has reached the point that both political organizations, which now barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the major issues under debate.”

Even before the disgraced and demented fascistic oligarch Trump started his revolting reign, the top tenth of the nation’s upper One Percent had as much wealth as the nation’s bottom 90 percent. That’s not just an economic fact; it’s also a plutocratic reality.

This is a capitalist country, to say the least. Capitalism and democracy, falsely and absurdly conflated with each other in American ideology, are not merely different things. They are fundamentally opposed to one another, for an ever-present democracy-cancelling tendency towards the greater concentration of wealth in fewer hands is a central characteristic of capitalism, as Thomas Piketty has ably demonstrated.

I wonder if Michelle Goldberg has ever toiled at the wage-earning, nickel and dimed bottom of one of America’s capitalist workplaces, the unapologetically despotic environments in which most working-age Americans spend the majority of their waking hours. Always largely authoritarian, American workplaces are more tyrannical now than they were five and a half decades ago, thanks in no small part to the decimation of organized labor. A third of the nation’s workers belonged to unions in 1965; the current union density rate is barely 10 percent.

Globalization, automation, de-unionization, and the shredding of the social safety net have made American worker-citizens considerably more defenseless and powerless on and off the job than was the case in the 1960s and 1970s.

The rule of autocratic capital, the dominance of the investor and employer class, has deepened in America across the long and ongoing Neoliberal Era that arose in the late 1970s. It is truly entrenched in the U.S., the self-declared homeland and headquarters of popular self-rule.

So much for the rise of “true democracy” in the wake of “the civil rights era”!

It’s good that Ms. Goldberg fears and loathes the Republican Party. She should. It’s a white nationalist, fascistic, and even eco-cidal nightmare of an organization – the most dangerous political party on Earth. But Goldberg and other influential commentators would do well to deepen and radicalize their understanding of democracy if they want to help vaccinate the world’s most powerful and dangerous country against authoritarian rule. We must not defenestrate Trump only in order to clear the ground for a more disciplined, intelligent, and competent far right Dear Leader.

American elites who habitually describe the American corporate and financial oligarchy as a “democracy” help generate mass cynicism and confusion about the democratic ideal. Democracy is drained of authentic and solid meaning when it is falsely conflated with – and enlisted as cover for – the rule of the wealthy Few. The dollar-drenched denigration of democracy feeds disrespect for egalitarian visions of the common good, the general welfare, and popular sovereignty. With the currency of democracy debased, drowned in the icy waters of capitalist calculation and commodity rule, the unelected dictatorship of money, the way is cleared for the transition to full-on authoritarianism, with Trump’s failed coup remembered perhaps for turning Marx on his head by prefacing tragedy with farce.

Endnote

1. Good starter works are Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens, Democracy in America? What Has Gone Wrong and What We Can Do About It (University of Chicago Press, 2017); Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned its Back on the Middle Class (Simon and Schuster, 2011); Ronald Formisano, American Oligarchy (University of Illinois, 2017); Paul Street, They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Routledge, 2011).

 
 
 
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    “Fee-fi-fo-fum, without a Full Forward the Premiership can’t be won!” So said the GWS Giants, as they exposed Melbourne’s fatal deficiency with a nine point win at the MCG.  In past weeks Melbourne has been barely able to gloss over the lack of a serious target in front of goal, while others were able to contribute.  But in a near repeat of the game from the previous week, players running up the ground simply had no-one to kick the ball to, when all that was needed was that one tall target.

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Reports

    MUCH ADO ABOUT EVERYTHING by Whispering Jack

    Let's face it. We Melbourne supporters are a demanding lot. Here we are with our team on top of the ladder with a record of 12 wins and 2 losses, a decent percentage and a fair run home for a team with finals credentials. We have a fit list with lots of in form players, many of who are in contention for All Australian and other high honours, the team’s playing with purpose and cohesion and its VFL affiliate is undefeated and going gangbusters.  Still, we're all walking around with conc

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Match Previews

    HIATUS by KC from Casey

    After their five week Covid19 lockdown hiatus, the Casey Demons were fairly scratchy against Essendon VFL for the best part of 2½ quarters on Sunday afternoon but they finally settled down to motor away to a 48 point victory. With 20 AFL affiliated players on the team sheet, the Casey line up looked the strongest team ever put together since linking up with the Demons but the team struggled to score in the early going and managed its first goal to Aaron vandenBerg late in the first term.

    Demonland
    Demonland |
    Casey Articles


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