Autocracy, Anocracy, & Democracy – “Verbal Masterba(bleep!)…” November 15, 2012Posted by Chris Mark in Laws and Leglslation, Politics.
Tags: anocracy, autocracy, Chris Mark, democracy, Dr. Heather Mark, facebook, mark consulting group, politics
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Election season in the US is always interesting. Passions run high and people are quick to proclaim their positions on government and politics. Unfortunately, as many will likely agree, election season also gives voice to many who should probably remain silent.
Recently I was taken to task on Facebook and lectured on the concept of governance and democracy by a particularly obtuse and offensive individual. When I attempted to explain that democracy should NOT be considered a strictly binary proposition and that the US was indeed a democracy, his attacks became personal and I was accused of (among other things) “verbal masturbation”. According to this master of the English language: “Most folks like me would call your ideas verbal masturbation. They sound good from the outside but are really kinda stupid”…he actually wrote: “Kinda”…somehow this person drew a line between my comments on democracy and his belief that the federal government would force parents to stand by while their 12 year old daughters got abortions without consent. I am at a loss as to the logic… But…I digress. Back to democracy!
To understand governance and democracy it is important to understand the concepts. One great resource is the Polity IV project. Democracy, while seemingly simple, can be a quite difficult concept to explain especially when considering the many different governments in the World. The Polity project attempts to quantify and qualify governance and code them based upon their level of autocracy to democracy.
First…let’s understand democracy. Wikipedia states that Democracy:
“… is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Democracy allows eligible citizens to participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.”
At its core, democracy is principle of government by the people. So why the confusion and what is the relevance of the Polity IV study? Good questions!
Democracy, as described by the Polity study, is defined by three factors. Each democratic government may implement these in different ways. Democracy requires the “…existence of Processes and Institutions through which citizens can 1) affect their government 2) constrain the power exercised by the executive and 3) guarantee civil liberties.” (BTW: You can read this in Dr. Heather Mark’s Dissertation found here.)
There are numerous forms and styles of democratic governments. There are direct democracies in which citizens take part in the process directly. There are representative democracies (like the US) where the citizens vote for representatives who then represent the interests of their constituents. Each of these general types of government then have sub-types. The US is a Presidential Republic, the UK is a Parliamentary Republic, and so on. It is much like dogs. All Rottweillers are dogs but not all dogs are Rottweillers. So is a Poodle more of a dog than a German Shepard? It is this type of question that the Polity study addresses. The Polity study ranks each form of government based upon the ‘democratization’ of the government. Countries can be more autocratic or more democratic. All governments will find themselves somewhere on the spectrum. Governments with a score of +6 to +10 are counted as democracies, with the higher scores representing more democratic governments. A perfect 10 is reserved for those that are absolutely democratic. Those who range from a -5 to a +5 are considered Anocracies. As Polity states: “Anocracies are a middling category rather than a distinct form of governance. They are countries whose governments are neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic but, rather, combine an, often, incoherent mix of democratic and autocratic traits and practices.” Those with a score -6 to a -10 are Autocratic with a -10 representing complete autocracy.
All governments will fall somewhere in the spectrum. Simply because the United States is a Presidential Republic does NOT mean we are NOT a democracy any more than the ugly dog down the street is NOT a dog because it does not look like my rugged, handsome, purebred Rottweiller (he is good looking but not very smart, sad to say…and still pees in the house!). While the US System of democracy is implemented one way, the UK system is implemented another way. There are benefits and drawbacks to each but each IS a democratic system of government.
Because I Said So September 23, 2012Posted by Heather Mark in cybersecurity, Industry News, InfoSec & Privacy, Laws and Leglslation, Politics.
Tags: cybercrime, cybersecurity, data security, Dr. Heather Mark, Heather Mark, InfoSec
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Last week, Democratic leaders made some minor news when they sent a letter to President Obama suggesting that he issue an executive order on Cybersecurity. Their position is that, since Congress seems to be at loggerheads over the issue, the president should take the opportunity to force action by issuing an Executive Order. In fact, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told a congressional committee that just such an order was in its final stages. So what might we see in this forthcoming order?
According to reports, the order will attempt to regulate sixteen “critical” industries. The guidelines will be voluntary, after a fashion. Compliance with the standards may determine eligibility for federal contracts. The White House has not made any secret about its intentions on Cybersecurity. In fact, the White House website lists “Ten Near Term Actions to Support Our Cybersecurity Strategy.” Brevity prevents me from getting into a deep discussion about those actions here, but you can read them and draw your own conclusions.
The questions remain, however – 1) how stringent (read intrusive) will the requirements be?; 2) Will they be relevant to the threats in the landscape?; 3) How will compliance be policed? and 4) How much additional cost are we potentially adding our already stretched budgets?
Another question that merits examination is whether or not the standards will be redundant. Many industries are already straining under the weight of a variety of infosec requirements – whether industry-regulated or government mandated? Will another layer of regulation mean increased efficacy of data protection strategies and mandates or will it be just another layer of red tape?
Tags: democracy, Dr. Heather Mark, Egypt, Isreal, mark consulting group, US foreign policy, USAID
Heather Mark completed her PhD in Public Policy & Public Administration ‘several year’ ago. Her Dissertation was titled: “The Role of the United States Foreign Policy in the Global Adoption of Democratic Governance”. The US has long espoused the position of supporting democracy. Does the US actually practice what it preaches? Here is an excerpt from Heather’s dissertation:
“As the twentieth century wore on, however, the threats to democracy became less specific, but presidents and policymakers continued to use the ideology to frame their policy statements. This begs the question: “Do the actions of the United States actually further the cause of democracy, as policymakers indicate?” If the U.S. public knew the effect of U.S. actions on democracy, would the rhetoric still be as effective?”
Download and read her dissertation here. Make your own decisions regarding the US’s role.
Tags: 2nd amendment, arms trade treaty, Constitution, guns, mark consulting group, NRA, ownership, senate, UN
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Recent events in the US have once again ignited the debate over control of guns within the US. This post is not a political debate rather an introduction to US gun issues and, more specifically, actions of the United Nations. First, for some quick statistics. According to the US Firearms Institute between 40% – 50% of US homes own firearms. There are between 250 million and 280 million firearms in the US owned by between 120 million and 150 million US citizens. Hunting, shooting, and firearms are deeply embedded in the US culture and history. In fact, the right to own firearms is guaranteed in the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment which states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” As every 6th grader knows, the 2nd Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights which was passed in 1791. While many people don’t agree with the 2nd Amendment the US Supreme Court has upheld the amendment and clarified the intent in several cases: (more…)
Tags: Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, blind shiek, bombing terrorism, Egypt, mark consulting group, Military Aid, mosri, Omar Abdel-Rahman, world trade center
On June 29th, 2012, in his first pubic speach in front of tens of thousands of supporters, Egypts’ new president has vowed to gain the release of the World Trade Center bomber who is curently imprisoned in the United States. While often forgotten after the 9/11 attacks, the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993 by radical Islamic terrorists lead by the infamous “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel-Rahman. (pictured at left) Rahmna has been imprisoned in North Carolina for his role in the 1993 bombing. According to Wikipedia: “Abdel-Rahman was accused of being the leader of Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya (also known as “The Islamic Group”), a militant Islamist movement in Egypt that is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Egyptian governments. The group is responsible for many acts of violence, including the November 1997 Luxor massacre, in which 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians were killed.” While considered a terroris in the US, Rahmna is considered a hero by many in Egypt. It should be noted that the US provides $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt annually and has provided financial aid for over 30 years.