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, January 02, 2017

House Republicans To Gut Ethics Watchdog

WASHINGTON ― As one of their first actions in the new Congress, House Republicans are planning to significantly change the Office of Congressional Ethics, removing the entity’s independence, barring it from investigating anonymous complaints and even changing the group’s name.

Less than 24 hours before the House convenes and votes on its rules for the 115th Congress, Republicans adopted an amendment Monday night, 119 to 74, from Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) that would fundamentally change the OCE. The independent ethics board investigates complaints against members and issues reports to the Ethics Committee.

House Republicans gut their own oversight

In one of their first moves of the new Congress, House Republicans have voted to gut their own independent ethics watchdog — a huge blow to cheerleaders of congressional oversight and one that dismantles major reforms adopted after the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Monday's effort was led, in part, by lawmakers who have come under investigation in recent years.

Pelosi Slams GOP ‘Cowardice’ on Obamacare Repeal With No Replacement

WASHINGTON ― Republicans are dead set on acting swiftly to dismantle the Affordable Care Act without having a new health care reform platform in place because they know their party doesn’t have a way forward, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Monday.

The congressional GOP leadership’s preferred strategy on Obamacare ― dubbed repeal-and-delay ― is to begin moving filibuster-proof legislation through Congress as soon as lawmakers return this week, with an eye toward presenting it to President-elect Donald Trump to sign right after he’s inaugurated this month.

New GOP Congress confronts a crushing to-do list

Contentious confirmation fights, a GOP assault on Obamacare — and, more than likely, hints of Republican infighting to come.

Welcome to the new Congress.

Lawmakers convene in Washington on Tuesday for the 115th Congress, kicking into high gear as they prepare for the incoming Trump administration and lay the groundwork to pass major GOP priorities.

This Is What It’s Like to Read Fake News For Two Weeks

A few weeks ago, perplexed by the persistence of fake news, I attempted to think like someone I wasn’t. On December 13, I created a dummy Twitter account. More of a clone, actually. I chose to emulate Michael Flynn Jr., the 33-year-old son of President-elect Trump’s choice to be national security adviser. Flynn Jr. was also one of the most prominent believers in the invented “Pizzagate” scandal that had prompted an armed man to fire shots inside a D.C. pizzeria in hopes of breaking up a child sex ring that didn’t exist. My working theory was that you can learn a lot about a fake news adherent from the company he keeps—especially on social media, where it’s possible to create bespoke echo chambers.

Intellectuals for Trump

The most cogent argument for electing Donald Trump was made not by Trump, or by his campaign, but by a writer who, unlike Trump, betrayed no eagerness to attach his name to his creations. He called himself Publius Decius Mus, after the Roman consul known for sacrificing himself in battle, although the author used a pseudonym precisely because he hoped not to suffer any repercussions. In September, on the Web site of the Claremont Review of Books, Decius published “The Flight 93 Election,” which likened the country to a hijacked airplane, and argued that voting for Trump was like charging the cockpit: the consequences were possibly dire, but the consequences of inaction were surely so. Decius sought to be clear-eyed about the candidate he was endorsing. “Only in a corrupt republic, in corrupt times, could a Trump rise,” he wrote. But he argued that this corruption was also evidence of a national crisis, one that could be addressed only by a politician untethered to political piety. The author hailed Trump for his willingness to defend American workers and America’s borders. “Trump,” he wrote, “alone among candidates for high office in this or in the last seven (at least) cycles, has stood up to say: I want to live. I want my party to live. I want my country to live.” By holding the line on unauthorized immigration and rethinking free trade, Decius argued, Trump could help foster “solidarity among the working, lower-middle, and middle classes of all races and ethnicities.” Decius identified himself as a conservative, but he saved much of his criticism for “house-broken conservatives,” who warned of the perils of progressivism while doing nothing in particular to stop it. Electing Trump was a way to take a stand against both ambitious liberalism and insufficiently ambitious conservatism.

He’s Making a List - Trump is more paranoid and dangerous than Nixon

Donald Trump and Richard Nixon have at least one thing in common: They are the two most paranoid and vindictive men ever to win the presidency. Both came to power armed with enemies lists, vowing to seek revenge against those who stood in their way. Both roamed the mansions of power late at night, raving against every perceived slight. Both were caught on tape describing the ways they enjoyed bending others to their will.

Whitewashing Assad and his allies must be challenged

In the past few months, three Western women have gone to Syria, two of them by invitation and the third on a regime-approved reporting trip. The first two are now on "speaking tours" to explain "what's really happening in Syria" to the Western public. The third one, however, was kicked out of Syria by the Bashar al-Assad regime. Her crime? "Untrue reporting" in the form of sharing tweets containing photos and witness accounts from people in besieged Eastern Aleppo, because the regime wouldn't give her or the other journalists with her access to that part of the city.

The Assad conundrum

It is safe to say that, until recently, the debate over Syria's political future came down to one thing: the fate of President Bashar al-Assad. With his victory in Aleppo, and the firm support of Iran and Russia, it is also fairly safe to say that the Syrian president's future is secure, for the time being.

What is it about Assad that has made him such a key issue? Some argued that without his rule, radical Islamists (ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham etc) would take over Syria.