Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Monday, November 07, 2011

Herman Cain harassment story was good journalism

Herman Cain, unwilling to defend himself on the merits against the sexual harassment allegations against him, has taken to having his campaign pass out copies of the “journalistic code of ethics” to reporters who dare ask him questions about the matter.

Reporter-bashing is always a handy tactic, especially when you don’t have the facts on your side. Especially among Republican primary voters. So it’s no surprise that the GOP presidential candidate resorted to that cudgel during his debate with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “There are too many people in the media who are downright dishonest,” Cain said. “They do a disservice to the American people.”

Spare me the lectures about honesty from a man who denied that he was aware of a financial payment to settle the sexual harassment claims, then acknowledged it, then said he was distinguishing between a “settlement” and an “agreement.”

IAEA says foreign expertise has brought Iran to threshold of nuclear capability

Intelligence provided to U.N. nuclear officials shows that Iran’s government has mastered the critical steps needed to build a nuclear weapon, receiving assistance from foreign scientists to overcome key technical hurdles, according to Western diplomats and nuclear experts briefed on the findings.

Documents and other records provide new details on the role played by a former Soviet weapons scientist who allegedly tutored Iranians over several years on building high-precision detonators of the kind used to trigger a nuclear chain reaction, the officials and experts said. Crucial technology linked to experts in Pakistan and North Korea also helped propel Iran to the threshold of nuclear capability, they added.

The officials, citing secret intelligence provided over several years to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the records reinforce concerns that Iran continued to conduct weapons-related research after 2003 — when, U.S. intelligence agencies believe, Iranian leaders halted such experiments in response to international and domestic pressures.

Michele Flournoy, Pentagon’s highest-ranking woman, is making her mark on foreign policy

Michele Flournoy, the highest-ranking woman in Pentagon history, went to Beverly Hills High School with 1970s teen idol Shaun Cassidy and did her homework on the set of television’s “The Odd Couple,” where her father worked as a cinematographer.

Today she sits in her office in the Pentagon’s E Ring of top officials bathed in a green glow from the high-tech security equipment that creates a sound screen to prevent eavesdropping. It’s a requirement for the job: Flournoy is one of the most powerful people at the Pentagon, the woman in charge of thinking about how and why the United States fights wars.

On the surface, her personal trajectory is somewhat incongruous. She went from living in one of the most madcap subcultures in the country — 1970s Hollywood — to one of the most guarded — the Pentagon.

But she came by her passion for public service honestly. Her uncle once mentioned in passing that her father was some sort of World War II hero. “But my father never talked about it,” she said recently over a dinner of palak paneer at an Indian restaurant in downtown Bethesda. “And he died when I was just 14.”

Federal employees make average 26 percent less than private workers, Labor agency reports

The federal government reported Friday that on average its employees are underpaid by 26.3 percent when compared with similar non-federal jobs, a “pay gap” that increased by about 2 percentage points over the last year while federal salary rates were frozen.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics presented the figures to the Federal Salary Council, an advisory group of federal agency officials, union representatives and outside pay experts.

The numbers are calculated for setting pay raises under the locality pay system used for white-collar employees who work under the general schedule pay system. Some of the money provided by Congress for an annual raise is paid across-the-board while the rest is divided according to the pay gaps for 31 city areas plus a catchall “rest of the U.S.” for areas outside those metropolitan zones.