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.]

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wells Fargo Crooks Stole From Customers, Reaped Obscene Rewards—and Stuck Us With the Bill

“The business model of Wall Street is fraud,” Bernie Sanders proclaimed repeatedly on the stump. Wall Street’s big banks seem intent on proving his case. Most recently, Wells Fargo—whose CEO, John Stumpf, was celebrated as “banker of the year” by American Banker in 2013—has been fined $185 million for abusing its own customers. From 2011 to 2015, the company opened nearly 2 million bank accounts and more than 500,000 credit cards for customers who didn’t ask for them, engaging in fraud, identify theft, and forgery along the way. Its customers, as former Wells Fargo sales manager Beth Jacobson put it, were “all riding the stagecoach to hell.”

Post-Bernie Blaze Fires Up His Democratic-Socialist Delegates

When Tom Gallagher was a Massachusetts delegate for Senator George McGovern in 1984, Democratic National Conventions were a bit different.

“This was before it was just one big infomercial,” Gallagher, now 67 and living in San Francisco, said.

At the convention in 1984, McGovern had only 23 delegates to his name, and Gallagher was one of four who refused to switch his vote to former vice president Walter Mondale, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, despite McGovern’s urging his delegates to do so.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Forget Trump: Peter Thiel Is So Dangerous and Fascinating You Have to Watch Him Tonight

Tonight, Peter Thiel, an openly gay immigrant hailing from San Francisco, will address the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. His speech will close out the coronation of Donald Trump as the nominee of his party, which three days earlier finalized a platform affirming the definition of marriage as “between one man and one woman.”

Thiel may seem an unlikely warm-up act for a raving nativist like Trump. But the pair are actually an impeccable ideological tag-team. In fact, Thiel outmatches Trump both in the preposterousness of his capitalistic ambition and in the sheer pathology of his political inconsistency.

Nigel Farage: Donald Trump Will Win If He Engages ‘Non-Voting Ordinary People’ Like Brexit-Backers

Nigel Farage has claimed there is a “commonality” between voters in the UK who backed Brexit and those who could deliver Donald Trump to the White House later this year.

The ex-Ukip leader was speaking from the Republican Party convention in Cleveland, where Trump was yesterday confirmed as the nominee to run for US President.

Saudi Official Allegedly Brought Slave To London, Foreign Office Diplomatic Immunity Figures Reveal

A Saudi official has been accused of bringing a slave to London, as a string of crimes committed by people with diplomatic immunity are released in new Foreign Office documents.

According to the Foreign Office, 11 “serious and significant” offences were allegedly committed by people immune from prosecution as diplomats in the UK last year.

Among the alleged offences were sexual offences involving children and causing actual bodily harm.

Turkey suspends European convention on human rights in wake of failed coup

Turkey has said it will suspend the European convention on human rights during a state of emergency declared in the aftermath of last weekend’s coup attempt.

“Turkey will suspend the European convention on human rights insofar as it does not conflict with its international obligations,” the deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmus, was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Black Cleveland Residents Tell Tale of Two Cities in the Shadow of Republican Convention

A day after Republican National Convention speakers discussed how to “make America safe again,” a group of young Clevelanders held their own “make America safe again” event at a downtown park.

As police officers on horseback and bikes fended off a small rally down the block and helicopters buzzed overhead, the group of mostly black and Latino college students huddled around a picnic table Tuesday and talked about how irrelevant and offensive the Republican event is to many residents of its host city.

Police Shoot Therapist Pleading For His Life While Helping Patient

Video has surfaced of an unarmed man raising his arms and begging officers not to shoot, moments before they shoot him in the leg. Behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey was laying in the middle of a North Miami road and trying to assist his autistic patient when an officer opened fire.

Kinsey survived the shot, and recounted what happened Monday when officers were called about a gunman threatening suicide. Kinsey’s patient, Rinaldo, escaped from a group home holding a toy car, but the person who called 911 said he was armed. In cellphone footage that captured the moments leading up to the shooting, Kinsey is laying on his back with his arms up, explaining to police that he was unarmed and helping his patient who was clearly holding a toy. At the same time, he tries to convince Rinaldo to get on his stomach.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Who Is Making American Foreign Policy—the President or the War Party?

§ The preceding 40-year Cold War witnessed many instances of high-level attempts to sabotage détente policies of US and Soviet leaders. Considering that US warplanes knew the area very well and that the Department of Defense, headed by Ashton Carter, had openly expressed opposition to the Obama-Putin plan for a US-Russian alliance against terrorist forces in Syria, the American attack on Syrian Army forces, which blatantly violated preconditions of the agreement, may not have been “accidental,” as DOD claims and as US media similarly reports. If the attack was intentional, we are reminded of the power of the American war party, which is based not only in DOD but in segments of the State Department, in Congress, and in the mainstream media, notably The Washington Post. Judging by Ambassador Samantha Power’s tirade against Russia at the UN, not even Obama’s own team fully supports his overtures to Moscow, undertaken, no doubt, to enhance his desultory foreign policy legacy.

Ambivalent Hillary Voters: Don’t Assume Someone Else Will Stop Trump

This is a column for all you leftists, liberals, progressives, feminists, Democrats—whatever you call yourselves—who are feeling passive, underwhelmed, downhearted, or paralyzed about the upcoming election. All right, you say, you’ll hold your nose and vote for Hillary Clinton, but you haven’t been knocking yourself out like you did for Barack Obama in 2008 or even 2012. “This election is getting really scary, yet I do not feel motivated to get active,” wrote one friend when I sent out a call for comments about enthusiasm, or the lack thereof. There are a lot of you out there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Elizabeth Warren Just Gave Hillary Clinton a Big Warning

Senator Elizabeth Warren fired an unmistakable warning shot to Hillary Clinton and her advisors on Wednesday, cautioning against appointing cabinet or administration members who are linked to Wall Street while name-checking a firm closely tied to Clinton and the Democratic party.

Warren’s speech, delivered at the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund, cast the upcoming presidential election in stark economic terms. She described the tax-slashing, deregulatory approach laid out by Donald Trump and contrasted it to a laundry list of populist economic policies embraced by Hillary Clinton. Clinton has faced criticism recently for focusing too heavily on Trump’s competency and not enough on fundamental economic issues, and so Warren’s speech was well-timed and well-received.

Your Vote for Jill Stein Is a Wasted Vote

If the last three presidential elections are any guide, 75 to 90 percent of those who say that they’re planning to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in November won’t follow through. Yes, there are some dedicated Green voters, but much of the party’s support is an expression of contempt for the Democrats that evaporates in the voting booth. I’m a registered independent and a supporter of the Working Families Party, and my disdain for the Greens springs from my own experience with the party. I agree with much of the Greens’ platform, but when I went to Green Party meetings, I found a wildly disorganized, mostly white group that was riven with infighting, strategically inept, and organized around a factually flawed analysis of American politics. There are effective Green parties in Europe, but ours is a hot mess. And while the Greens’ bold ideas are attractive, what’s the point of wasting one’s time and energy on such a dysfunctional enterprise?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Era of American Global Dominance Is Over

You might recall the term “Eurasia” from high school geography classes. The term isn’t used much anymore in political discussions in the West, but it should be. That is where the most serious geopolitical action is going to be taking place in the world as we move deeper into the 21st century. The U.S., focused so intently on “containment“ of Russia, the so-called Islamic State and China, will be missing the bigger Eurasian strategic picture.

The Syrian Truce and Obama’s Exit Strategy

As almost everybody can now tell, the new cease-fire agreement on Syria is doomed to break down, as would any such agreement that does not settle the core political problem of the crisis. Of course, even a respite that doesn’t last is better than nothing at all (although the truce has so far been very disappointing with regard to humanitarian relief).

But short of an agenda that includes a comprehensive agreement for Bashar al-Assad to step down and allow a transition toward a pluralist government, no cease-fire stands a chance in that war-torn country. Were the mainstream opposition to accept a diktat for a sellout, it would be rapidly outflanked by the fighters, for whom anything less than the Assad clan’s departure from power would be tantamount to accepting that hundreds of thousands of Syrians were killed, and still more maimed, and huge swaths of the country turned to rubble, for nothing.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Donald Trump’s Misogynist Ratpack

Longtime GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway officially holds the title of Donald Trump’s “campaign manager.” What Conway really appears to be is Trump’s top surrogate, spending hours on television each day pleading his case with the invaluable white GOP women who are abandoning the Republican ticket in droves. But Conway can’t provide sufficient window dressing to hide the he-man woman-hater’s clubhouse the Trump campaign has become. Fox News’s decision to settle a lawsuit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson that charged Roger Ailes with grotesque sexual harassment is just the latest piece of information that ought to make reporters look more closely inside the frat house at Trump Tower, where Ailes is serving as an “adviser” to Trump, whether or not he’s on the payroll.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Terrible Mini-Trump of Minnesota—and the Progressive Who’s Running Against Him

They call him “Minnesota’s mini-Trump”: Jason Lewis, the right-wing talk-show host who’s running for Congress for an open Republican seat in the suburbs south of the Twin Cities, the 2nd Congressional District. It’s the same seat Bill Maher targeted two years ago in his “Flip-a-district” campaign—only then it was held by a six-term Republican incumbent named John Kline. Maher’s effort didn’t work; Kline was reelected.

Donald Trump Is the Anti–Labor Day Candidate: Running Against Fair Wages, Worker Rights, and Unions

Donald Trump, the billionaire candidate who has argued that “having a low minimum wage is not a bad thing for this country” and complained in a 2015 GOP debate that wages are “too high,” is running for president this fall on the most virulently anti-worker and anti-union platform in the history of his Republican Party.

Trump and the anti-labor partisans who nominated him for the presidency have rejected the legacy of a Grand Old Party that once cheered when Abraham Lincoln declared: “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”