Democracy

ZunZuneo and the New Covert Action

ZunZuneo

It’s an odd little story, but the AP report on ZunZuneo, a social media platform released in Cuba and reportedly designed by a US organization (USAID) with ties to the State Department to mimic the functionality of Twitter and — possibly? — stir popular unrest, is fascinating for its implications. Notably: social media may be the modern theater of the neoconservative.

Whatever one’s particular lean on the issue, it’s generally accepted that neoconservatives seek to influence — some call it ideological imperialism — non-democratic systems toward the principals of democracy. Sometimes through diplomacy, sometimes through regime change.

It looks like social media is possibly being tested as a communication tool to effectively stir up revolutionary thought in countries perceived as hostile to X ideology. Something like a Radio Free Europe but through smart phones and text messages.

Reasonable people can disagree on the moral and/or strategic good of such a program, again, depending on your lean toward or away from libertarianism and/or interventionism, but as Ed Morrissey at HotAir points out, this particular program leaves a troubling taste in the mouth:

Democrats In Name Only

Democrats

A frequent epithet thrown around on the right is “RINO!,” Republican In Name Only, meaning that the target calls themselves a Republican but isn’t ideologically or even tactically dedicated to the party’s platform. The irony is that the such intraparty purity tests distract from the real political target: DINOs, Democrats In Name Only.

Over the last few years, our friends on the left have become increasingly brazen about how little they value actual democracy. They may be called “Democrats”, but their latent fetish for (benevolent?) autocracy and fascism (minus the mass graves…mostly) belies the name. Just last night the President “joked” about eliminating the legislative branch of our government, and on cue his Volk brayed and whinnied at the idea:

Senate on a slippery path with filibuster change

The manufactured crisis last week that led to extraordinary, unprecedented change to the filibuster, prompted by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senate Democrats, is the first step down a road that undermines the nature of the chamber and will, almost certainly, lead to bigger changes.

The Senate was meant to be the more prestigious body of Congress and its members, given six-year terms, were selected to be responsive to state interests in Washington. Members of the House of Representatives, on the other hand, were meant to serve as the voices of the people, subject to re-election every two years.

Contrary to what President Obama said in his statement after the filibuster change, that “if you got a majority of folks who believe in something, then it should be able to pass,” the upper chamber was never meant to serve as a “voice of the people,” nor was meant to rubber stamp majoritarian views or interest.

It was meant, as James Madison once said, “to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system and with more wisdom, than the popular branch.” Passing legislation and approving nominees based on consensus. The filibuster — which has existed as a concept since the chamber was created and in practice since 1837 — was a tool to achieve consensus.

But, over time, the Senate has become more and more like the House, beginning in 1913 with the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment, which mandated direct election of senators by voters in their respective states.

The Founding Fathers were concerned about a legislative branch that was too responsive to the whims of majority views, which could potentially be dangerous to essential liberty. In Federalist 10, Madison warned about the problem of faction.

What Is Going On In Egypt?

Over the past week, swelling protests in Egypt against the ruling regime boiled over, finally giving way to violence. Clashes erupted between secularists (who are aligned with the military) and Islamists (who are aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood); eventually Mohamed Morsi was ousted from the Presidency, exactly one year after he was democratically elected to the office. Egypt now stands on the brink of descending into full-blown chaos, and while Egyptians attempt to move the nation “back to democracy,” they risk losing their whole nation to civil war. This past week has left some wondering what Egyptian democracy even means anymore.

Reforming the Electoral College

Electoral Vote for October 29th

There’s been a lot of talk lately, between Steven Taylor, Doug Mataconis, Jazz Shaw, and other bloggers, about the Electoral College. It seems to come up every now and then, usually in pieces calling for it’s abolition. That’s Steven’s and Jazz’s take, and they do make good points. Steven mostly thinks that the EC is irrelevant, and indeed, somewhat undemocratic:

Here’s the deal:  the only southern states that are true toss-ups are Virginia and Florida, and under any plausible EC scenario President Obama can lose them both and still win the electoral vote.  Governor Romney, however, can not.

Imagine a world in which all of those extra Southern voters mattered and imagine how differently the candidates would be behaving if that were the case.  As it stands, all of that Romney support is contained almost exclusively in places where extra support has no marginal value.  Each extra voter in Alabama who decides to vote for Romney simply doesn’t matter.  An Ohio voter, however, matters an awful lot.

A grand irony here is that a standard pro-EC argument is that it protects the states against national sentiment.  However, if the Gallup poll is correct and Romney wins the popular vote by a large margin due to overwhelming support in southern states, but still loses the electoral college, the fact of the matter will be that the EC actually diminished the significance of those states.

This is also, more or less, what Jazz Shaw thinks:

51% of Americans

The other night I was perusing the national exit poll results. One statistic scared me more than anything. 51% of voters participating in the exit poll answered that the government “should do more” than it is doing today. Wow.

Prepare for the Paradigm Shift

Paradigm Shift

There are two ways to solve any problem. The first could be characterized as “pre-rational.” People using this method seek to solve a problem by asking “What has worked in the past?” This method is empirical, intuitive, and inductive. It is an approach that leverages the mistakes of others, and the wisdom implicit in our customs and tradition.

As a rule, primitive people solved problems using this method. They did what worked, and didn’t ask WHY it worked. A few examples will illustrate:

Yeah, about China’s environmental efforts

Smog in China

In conveniently overlooking the tens of millions of death for which communism is responsible, Christiana Figueres, the U.N. climate chief, said last month that China has the best model when it comes to fighting climate change.

Why? Because the communist country doesn’t have to worry about pesky elections and resulting inconvenient gridlock in government. Nope. The country’s leaders can do what they want, when they want. The people, of course, can’t push too hard for any real political reforms, lest they be persecuted by their government.

But, to Figueres’ suggestion that communism works best when it comes climate change, the Washington Post posted this chart comparing the top 10 worst cities in China to the worse in the United States.

Top China/US pollution

Green on the outside, red to the core: U.N. climate chief endorses communism

Hey, guys, let’s overlook the in the 20th Century 94 million deaths for which communist regimes in the 20th were responsible. Let’s ignore, for a moment, that individual liberties are nonexistent or severely limited in communist countries. Why should we gloss over these truths? Because Christiana Figueres, the U.N. climate chief, says that communism is the way to go to fight global warming:

United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres said that democracy is a poor political system for fighting global warming. Communist China, she says, is the best model.

China may be the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide and struggling with major pollution problems of their own, but the country is “doing it right” when it comes to fighting global warming says Figueres.

“They actually want to breathe air that they don’t have to look at,” she said. “They’re not doing this because they want to save the planet. They’re doing it because it’s in their national interest.”

Figueres added that the deep partisan divide in the U.S. Congress is “very detrimental” to passing any sort of legislation to fight global warming. The Chinese Communist Party, on the other hand, can push key policies and reforms all on its own. The country’s national legislature largely enforces the decisions made by the party’s Central Committee and other executive offices.

Why we’ll see a minimum wage increase, whether we need it or not

Folks, there is going to be a minimum wage increase.  Despite the fact that only a fraction of workers actually draw minimum wage, and despite the fact that folks are actually living better on minimum wage than they did 20 years ago, we are going to see the minimum wage increase.

One of the problems with democracy is that the rule by the masses means that those who feel they have a tough spot in life will automatically vote with anyone who offers to make it better, while those who feel sorrow for such people will often vote along the same lines out of either guilt or pity.  This is why we have entitlement programs that, while having done absolutely nothing in the war on poverty, are here to stay.

Support for increasing the minimum wage is high.  In a recent report from the Wall Street Journal:

Americans strongly favor boosting the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour but oppose raising it above that, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds. In the survey, 63% supported a rise to $10.10 from the current $7.25 rate. Senate Democrats have proposed an increase of that size and it is supported by President Barack Obama.

In the poll, 43% said they backed an increase to $12.50 an hour. Only 28% backed a $15 wage—the rate sought by union-linked demonstrators at fast-food restaurants across the country.


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