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.]

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Massachusetts Is Ground Zero in the Battle for the Soul of the Democratic Party

The headline at The Boston Globe on Wednesday was incredulous: “Could 3 people from Massachusetts really run for president?” Yet it was a question the hometown paper had to ask this week, with news that Barack Obama is urging former Governor Deval Patrick to consider a White House bid and that Representative Seth Moulton plans to attend an Iowa steak fry this September. If either Patrick or Moulton wants to take on President Donald Trump in 2020, they could be entering a Democratic primary field “the size of an Iowa cornfield,” as New York magazine’s Ed Kilgore put it. They could also be facing a fellow Bay Stater who’s a national leader of the ascendent populist-progressive movement: Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Medicare-for-All Isn’t the Solution for Universal Health Care

Within the broad Democratic coalition, it’s pretty clear that the discussion of health care has shifted to the left. Mainstream figures like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a potential presidential candidate in 2020, are embracing single payer. Representative John Conyers’s Medicare-for-All bill currently has 115 Democratic co-sponsors in the House. And Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer recently said that single payer is now “on the table.” Assuming we have free and fair elections in the future, and Democrats regain power at some point, this is all very good news for single-payer advocates.

New Fox Harassment Allegations: “A Contributorship…Was Contingent Upon” Sex

A former frequent on-air guest at Fox News says that a Fox consultant and top lieutenant to Roger Ailes, the network’s late founder and longtime CEO, sexually harassed her repeatedly for more than a year, including dangling the possibility of a paid job at Fox if she would have sex with him.

The allegation appears in a written declaration by Caroline Heldman, an associate professor of politics at Occidental College who made numerous guest appearances on Fox starting in 2008. The Fox consultant, Woody Fraser, is a veteran television producer who helped create and produce shows such as Good Morning America and Wild and Crazy Kids* and worked closely with Ailes at Fox for nearly a decade. Fraser’s relationship with Ailes dated back to the 1960s, when he hired a young Ailes to work on The Mike Douglas Show. “It was the best hire I’ve ever made,” Fraser told an Ailes biographer.

Ken Livingstone Suggests Venezuela’s Problems Down To Hugo Chavez’s Decision Not To ‘Kill All The Oligarchs’

Ken Livingstone has suggested the crisis in Venezuela is in part due to president Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez’s decision not to “kill all the oligarchs” in the country.

The former London mayor said when he met Maduro he found no reason to believe him to be anything other than a “genuine democratic socialist”.

After damaging historic property and wetlands, pipeline CEO is ‘baffled’ by criticism

Kelcy Warren, Texas billionaire and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, simply does not understand why people would be opposed to his pipeline projects.

In a letter sent to lawmakers on Monday, Warren said he was “baffled” by allegations that the Rover Pipeline, an Energy Transfer Partners project that would stretch from southwest Pennsylvania to Michigan, had violated federal regulations in constructing the pipeline.

The Handshake

On the Sunday before Christmas, in 2015, Hal Howard was pulling away from a party at his pastor’s house when he saw, standing in the street in front of him, a little girl. Howard slowed his pickup truck to a stop and tooted his horn. The girl didn’t move. At the same time, the girl’s father, Yousef Muslet, was playing with one of his sons on their front lawn. Muslet’s house sits opposite the pastor’s, in a prim, suburban neighborhood of Belle Glade, Florida. When Howard began honking at his daughter, Muslet walked up to the truck and introduced himself.

John Deere Is Against the Right to Repair Its Equipment

When I was a boy, I loved spending time with my Uncle Ernest and Aunt Eula on their small northeast Texas farm. They pulled a frugal living from their 50 acres, raising a little bit of everything. Doing a lot with a little to make ends meet, Ernest and Eula operated on principle of frugality expressed in an old country rhyme: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

This meant that when their tractor broke down, they fixed it themselves. Likewise, if their old Zenith console radio went on the fritz, they didn't just order a new one, they brought out their tool kit and fixed it.

Private Prison Demands New Mexico and Feds Find 300 More Prisoners in 60 Days or It Will Close

The nation’s second-largest private prison corporation is holding New Mexico politicians hostage by threatening to close unless the state or federal authorities find 300 more prisoners to be warehoused there, according to local news reports.

“The company that has operated a private prison in Estancia for nearly three decades has announced it will close the Torrance County Detention Facility and lay off more than 200 employees unless it can find 300 state or federal inmates to fill empty beds within the next 60 days,” the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported last week.

Energy Department Scientists Barred From Attending Nuclear Power Conference

Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, was one of 30 U.S.-based scientists scheduled to speak at the quadrennial International Atomic Energy Agency conference on fast breeder nuclear reactors in Yekaterinburg, Russia, in late June. Lyman did not attend the previous two conferences, Kyoto in 2009 and Paris in 2013, and was looking forward to rubbing shoulders with hundreds of scientists from around the world, including more than two-dozen from U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories.

Universal Health Care Can Work: But the Case Must Be Made for How to Pay and How Money Will Be Saved

Progressives are riled up with renewed seize-the-day determination to turn Congress’ failure to gut Obamacare and Medicaid into a push for nationwide universal health care.

“JOIN THE MOVEMENT,” shouted a typical email blast Monday from the Progressive Turnout Project, quoting Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and, of course, asking for donations.

"I need your ideas re: Medicare-for-all," Sanders said via an email blast from

Behind the Crazy Headlines: Three Truths About the Trump Presidency

The United States has had some turbulent and scandal-plagued Presidencies during its two-hundred-and-forty-one-year history—those of Richard Nixon, Warren Harding, and Ulysses S. Grant come to mind—yet there has never been one like Donald Trump’s. On Monday morning, I sat down to write a post about the swearing-in of John Kelly as the new White House chief of staff, and the beginning of Act II of Trump’s Presidency. By the time I had finished writing, not one but two news cycles had turned. In the afternoon, news broke that Anthony Scaramucci, the New York financier who was named Trump’s director of communications just a week and a half ago, had been fired. And on Monday night, the Washington Post revealed that President Trump had dictated a misleading statement that was given to the press about his son Donald Trump, Jr.,’s infamous meeting, last June, with a Russian lawyer.

Brexit Is Worth Family Members Losing Their Jobs, Say Half Of Leave Voters Over 65

Half of Leave voters over the age of 65 would be happy for their family members to lose their jobs in order to ensure Brexit goes ahead.

A YouGov poll published today also revealed 61% of people who voted Leave at the referendum think that “significant damage” to the UK economy is a price worth paying for taking Britain out of the EU.

The man who would beat Putin

Only a little more than 48 hours had passed since Leonid Volkov had been released from a cramped Moscow detention center, but the outspoken Kremlin critic was already back at work plotting to unseat Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As chief of staff for Russian dissident Alexei Navalny’s run for the presidency in an election to be held next March, Volkov is the man behind a grass-roots political campaign unlike anything the country has ever seen.

According to the friend of a murdered Russian watchdog, Putin is one of the richest men in the world

In his testimony on Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, former CEO Bill Browder of Hermitage Capital Management is expected to describe the dramatic and heartbreaking story of Sergei Magnitsky. A Russian lawyer and close friend of Browder, Magnitsky was allegedly tortured to death by Vladimir Putin’s Russian government as he attempted to expose corruption and kleptocracy in that country.

Harrowing Images From Venezuela’s Deadly Protests

A new round of deadly protests engulfed Venezuela on Sunday, as the government held internationally criticized elections for a new political body that will have the power to rewrite the country’s constitution.

Demonstrators and police met in a series of clashes, resulting in the deaths of at least 10 people.