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.]

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

An Open Letter to Airbnb "Regular People" Hosts: Airbnb Is Selling You Out

As San Franciscans contemplate Proposition F, a measure that would crack down on Airbnb rentals, I would like to address the "regular people" hosts who are trying to use Airbnb to make ends meet. Airbnb likes to portray "regular people" hosts as the face of its company. These are people who rent out a spare room to tourists to make some extra money in these difficult times. What could be wrong with that?

Marco Rubio spent lavishly on a GOP credit card, but some transactions are still secret

It has become legend in Florida political circles, a missing chapter in Marco Rubio's convoluted financial story: two years of credit card transactions from his time in the state House, when he and other Republican leaders freely spent party money.

Details about the spending, which included repairs for Rubio's family minivan, emerged in his 2010 U.S. Senate race. But voters got only half the story because the candidate refused to disclose additional records.

The Keystone XL Pipeline Isn’t Dead Yet. Here's What You Need to Know About What Comes Next.

On Monday evening, TransCanada, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, asked the State Department to put its permit application on ice.

The rationale, according to the letter TransCanada sent Secretary of State John Kerry, is to await a decision by regulators in Nebraska about a possible change to the pipeline's route. But since that decision isn't expected for seven to twelve months, a delay would likely punt the final decision to whoever takes over the White House after President Barack Obama.

Study: White Dudes Rule. Literally.

If you turned out to vote in today's off-year general election, the chances are you voted for a bunch of white dudes. Not because you're racist. (Although you probably are.) But because the ballots are overflowing with white dudes.

According to a study released last week by the Reflective Democracy Campaign, white guys make up 31 percent of the population, but they account for 65 percent of the people elected to county, state, or national office in America in 2012 and 2014. And that probably has a lot to do with the fact that 66 percent of the candidates are white guys. "The problem is not that women and people of color candidates aren't winning," said the campaign's director, Brenda Choresi Carter. "The problem is that the demographics of our office holders are set when our ballots are printed."

Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan: Hiding Cruel Policies Behind the Smiley Faces

Let’s hope the news media catch on to Paul Ryan. Behind his reasonable appearance and intellectual pretensions are right-wing policy proposals that would intensify poverty and deprive countless women of the right to abortion.

Ryan, elected speaker of the House last week, is a favorite of Washington journalists, who are impressed with his politeness and think-tank mastery of budget details. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, running for the Republican presidential nomination, makes the same good impression when he talks in impenetrable detail about his specialty, tax cuts for the rich. Like Ryan, he offers his proposal with a fresh, sunny face that is a contrast to the perpetual outrage of the tea party lawmakers. Reporters, sadly, are too often suckers for a smile.

The Republican Class War

One recent morning at the Jefferson Hotel, in Washington, D.C., Peter Wehner, a conservative writer who served as an adviser for the past three Republican Presidents, described his party’s problems over a bowl of oatmeal. He said, “We got clobbered in 2012”—the fifth Presidential election out of the past six in which the Republican candidate lost the popular vote. “There’s a demographic problem. White votes are going down two points every year. We’re out of touch with the middle class.” Mitt Romney—whose very hair embodies wealthy privilege—was nominated at a national convention, in Tampa, that became an Ayn Rand-style celebration of business executives, the heroic “makers.” During the campaign, Romney wrote off forty-seven per cent of the country—the “takers”—as government parasites. He went on to lose badly to President Barack Obama, whom Republicans had regarded as an obvious failure, a target as vulnerable as Jimmy Carter. In the shock of that defeat, Wehner said, some conservatives realized that “there was a need for a policy agenda that reaches the middle class.” He added, “This was not a blinding insight.”

How China Wants to Rate Its Citizens

For a time in my first-grade classroom at Xingqiao Elementary School, in Chongqing, in the late nineteen-eighties, there was an initiative called “the Stars of Xingqiao.” One of the school’s co-principals had come up with the idea to instill in our seven-year-old hearts the ambition to be “better students, citizens, and stars.” So on a large white chart pasted to the back of the classroom wall, the teacher had printed our names in rows and, in each column along the top, an attribute such as punctuality, classroom manner, and orderliness, the successful embodiment of which earned a red star. Whoever got the most red stars at the end of the week would be publicly pronounced the brightest star of Xingqiao; the student with the fewest stars was punished with Friday-afternoon janitorial duties.

Despite Low Grad Rates at For-Profit Colleges, One Accreditor Keeps Billions in Tax Dollars Flowing

For-profit universities have had another rough year, with big players facing federal scrutiny for everything from predatory loans to outright fraud.

Now attention is turning to the schools’ accreditors.

Accreditors are supposed to make sure that schools provide students with a quality education. They are not government agencies, but wield enormous power: Schools need accreditors’ stamps of approval to maintain access to the government’s annual $170 billion in federal student aid.

Paul Ryan Threatens To Use Power Of The Purse Ahead Of Potential Shutdown

WASHINGTON -- Newly elected House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) left the door open on Tuesday to allowing controversial riders to be added to a forthcoming budget bill, which could put the government on the path to a shutdown.

Ryan's predecessor, John Boehner (R-Ohio), crafted a deal on his way out the door that sets spending levels and lifts the debt ceiling, but Congress still needs to pass an omnibus budget bill to fill out the details of what will be funded.