Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Monday, February 20, 2017

Say Something

If you want to demonstrate you understand the value of debate in a free society don't just tolerate disagreeable speech -- disagree with it.


jimf said...

Donald -- your ratings are falling!
U.S. downgraded to flawed democracy for the first time
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

. . .

The Democracy Index has downgraded the U.S. from a full democracy to a flawed one,
marking the first time the nation has fallen into the lower ranking.

Other flawed democracies include Botswana, India, Japan and Ghana,
while much of Western Europe stayed in the full democracy category.

Americans’ growing distrust in their government, elected officials
and the media prompted the demotion, the Economist Intelligence Unit —
the UK-based economic firm that produces the annual index — wrote
in a Wednesday report. . .
'Toxic' political rhetoric threatens human rights, Amnesty warns
By Eliza Mackintosh, CNN
Wed February 22, 2017

. . .

Amnesty International. . . in its annual report for 2016, published on Tuesday. . .
listed US President Donald Trump alongside world leaders like
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte,
and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and claimed that their "divisive
fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs."

"Whether it is Trump, Orban, Erdoğan or Duterte, more and more politicians
calling themselves anti-establishment are wielding a toxic agenda that hounds,
scapegoats and dehumanizes entire groups of people," [Secretary General of
Amnesty International Salil] Shetty said in a statement accompanying the report.

The report, citing US mass surveillance and drone strikes, also criticizes
former President Barack Obama's record on human rights, saying he "leaves
a legacy that includes many grievous failures to uphold human rights"
during his eight years in office. . .

> . . .don't just tolerate disagreeable speech -- disagree with it. . .
Chris Hedges & Ted Rall on Snowden
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, New York City
OCTOBER 21, 2015
(Published on Feb 22, 2017)

. . .

So, uh, how should we do this? Should we jibber-jabber,
or should we throw it out to the audience and jibber-jabber about
what they have to say?
Donald Trump on Edward Snowden: Kill the ‘traitor’
By Cheryl K. Chumley
The Washington Times
Tuesday, July 2, 2013

. . .

“I think Snowden is a terrible threat, I think he’s a terrible traitor,
and you know what we used to do in the good old days when we were
a strong country — you know what we used to do to traitors, right?”

Ah, the good old days!

jimf said...

> The Democracy Index has downgraded the U.S. from
> a full democracy to a flawed one. . .

From _The Sirian Experiments_: The Report by Ambien II, of the Five_
by Doris Lessing
Lelanos was governed like this.

It was a democracy, elective. There was no written or formal
constitution, since [Canopus] had taught them that some of
the worst tyrannies in Rohandan [i.e., Earth] history had had
“constitutions” and written laws with no purpose except to
deceive the unfortunate victims and outside observers, There
was no point in constitutions and frameworks of laws. If each
child was taught what its inheritance was, both of rights due
from it and to it, taught to watch its own behaviour and that
of others, told that the proper and healthy functioning of this
wonderful city depended on his or her vigilance -- then law
would thrive and renew itself. But the moment any child was
left excluded from a full and feeling participation in the governance
of its city, then she or he must become a threat and soon there
would be decay and then a pulling down and a destruction.

I was much interested in this because of what I, Sirius, had observed,
and often: when we took over a planet and ordered its rule, we always
imposed a constitution that seemed appropriate to us; and this was
safeguarded by every sort of threat and punishment. But never had
any rule imposed by us stayed for long the same, without falling
into anarchy or rebellion.

There were three safeguards used by Lelanos. The first was the governing
body itself, which made the laws. This was elected by general suffrage,
every person over the age of sixteen becoming eligible both to vote
and to take office. Each officeholder had to lay bare his or her
life to the examination of a body of citizens separately elected
by the citizens. This was to prevent any individual from benefitting
from office, and to see him or her dismissed at the first evidence
of any falling away from high conduct. What these officeholders
might not do included the use of servants -- there were no slaves -- who
were treated in any slightest detail differently from members of their
households; the improper use of sex by either male or female—that is,
to dominate or degrade; and luxurious or greedy behavior. The
individuals voted on to this Scrutiny, for so it was simply called,
were considered the best and most honourable of all Lelannians,
and to serve Scrutiny, the highest office.

jimf said...

The second safeguard was an independent judiciary, to keep the laws
made by the governing body. The members of this arm of the State,
too, were continually watched by Scrutiny, and their behavior
was expected to be as beyond reproach as that of the rulers.

While it was not considered undesirable for an individual suited
for the work to be reelected, even for the whole of a lifetime,
onto either the governing body or the judiciary, the citizens who
staffed Scrutiny were not allowed to serve more than one term
of four years, though they might after retiring from Scrutiny
serve either on the judiciary or the governing body.

The third safeguard was a jealously kept law that the currency
used to facilitate the exchange of goods should never be allowed
to acquire a self-breeding value. That is, the coins used were only
and always to be used as a means of exchange and nothing else.
If any individual or group of individuals was to fall into debt,
then no interest could be charged, and the debt itself must be
abrogated at the end of seven years. Rhodia had caused to come
into existence a body of instruction, framed as tales and songs,
to enforce the message that if once “money” was allowed to become
a commodity on its own account, then the downfall of Lelanos could
be shortly expected, because she or he who charged “interest” would
control the supply of goods and of labour and a ruling class would
become inevitable. The songs and stories were based on the histories
of innumerable cities and cultures in Rohanda, the means of
exchange had become king. Over and over again, so Rhodia said,
Canopus had laid down laws and instruction forbidding the improper
use of money and yet never had this been prevented for long. Shammat
was too strong in these unfortunate ones who could never retain
excellence. . .

Holy SOWF, Batman!

jimf said...

_Star Trek_, "Obsession"
KIRK: Don't push our friendship past the point where I
have to take official. . .

MCCOY: I'm not, Jim. This is professional, Captain. I am
preparing a medical log entry on my estimation of the physical
and emotional condition of a starship captain. Which requires
a witness of command grade.

(McCoy goes to the door and opens it to admit Spock.)

KIRK: Do I take it, Doctor, Commander, that both of you or either of
you consider me unfit or incapacitated?

SPOCK: Correctly phrased, Captain. As recommended in the manual.
Our reply, also as recommended, is, "Sir, we have noted in your
recent behavior certain items, which, on the surface, seem unusual.
We respectfully ask permission to inquire further. . ."

KIRK: Blast it! Forget the manual! Ask your questions. . .
A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior
Many mental health professionals believe the president is ill.
But what if the cause is an untreated STD?
By Steven Beutler
February 17, 2017

Al Franken recently raised a provocative question about Donald Trump:
Is he mentally ill? . . . [L]ast week, the Minnesota senator claimed
that some of his Republican colleagues have “great concern about the
president’s temperament,” adding that “there’s a range in what they’ll
say, and some will say that he’s not right mentally. And some are harsher.”. . .

Last year, Jeb Bush said of his Republican primary opponent, “I’m not a
psychiatrist or a psychologist, but the guy needs therapy. . .

And Congressman Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, is introducing
legislation that would require the White House to have a psychiatrist
on staff. “I’m looking at it from the perspective of, if there
are questions about the mental health of the president of the
United States, what may be the best way to get the president
treatment?” he told the Huffington Post. . .
The Opinion Pages
Blame Trump, or Those Who Voted for Him?
FEB. 23, 2017

. . .

[I]t’s also entirely possible that Mr. [Nicholas] Kristof has it
backward: President Trump is not the true enemy; his voters are.

Donald Trump is an unabashed bigot, a baldfaced liar and someone
who bragged about groping women. But as nightmarish as it seems to
have those qualities in the White House, sooner or later his
presidency will come to an end. And when it does, we will be faced
with the true American nightmare: that almost 63 million of us,
knowing full well who Donald Trump was, voted for him anyway. . .