Bullying and Betrayal

Posted: July 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

The Chicago Tribune leads with “DNC betrayed Bernie Sanders and the rest of America” and concludes with vote for Hillary.

This is both confusing and infuriating. What is the reaction of a country with that holds itself in the highest esteem with regards to its ‘Democratic’ credentials? What’s the outcome of betraying America? Vote for the Betrayer… Vote for the Betrayer?


The Electoral System

The Chicago Tribune is correct, the DNC and  Hillary Clinton cheated Bernie Sanders and his supporters out of an election; they subverted the democratic process for personal gain. The lead conspirator, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was just rewarded for her actions by Hillary Clinton.

It took Wikileaks to hold the DNC accountable and instead of responding in an adult manner, they responded like a truly guilty party and accused Russia of being behind the plot of… behind the plot of revealing just how corrupt the DNC really is.

The Fourth Estate has also largely abdicated is responsibilities of holding the powerful to account. The US press has become a tool to entertain and indoctrinate.

Bernie Sanders supporters are not upset that they lost the primaries, they are upset that the primaries were stolen, they were cheated, tricked, duped, hoodwinked. The core values of America, the Core Value of America was shown to be rotten. Being cheated is a far more powerful emotion than losing; Sanders supporters have a sense of injustice and betrayal, not only by the DNC but by the country in the form of the ‘Establishment’.

Instead of trying to mend bridges, the DNC insulted these supporters and encouraged Hillary Clinton supporters to do the same. While was may all disagree, even vehemently on the candidates, Sanders supporters have received personal attacks, ‘you’re being childish, grown up, you’re ridiculous, entitled, narcissistic, a Trump supporter.’ Instead of recognizing the very real and legitimate feeling of betrayal, Clinton supporters have been bullying the very constituency they need to win an election. These personal attacks do not come from the ‘uneducated classes’ that they mock Trump supporters of hailing from, no these bullies are academics, business leaders, doctors, lawyers, professionals (mostly the entitled).

Ridiculing and demeaning those that have a legitimate grievance is crass. The treatment of Sanders supporters by the DNC has been deplorable, no wonder #DemExit is so popular.

We could have come to accept Hillary Clinton in normal circumstances, gotten past  lies and emails, secret ties to Goldman Sachs and Saudi Arabia. But her behaviour over the past weeks have confirmed that nothing has changed. She is the same woman that flew into ‘Bosnia under fire‘. Hillary Clinton does not misspeak, she lies. A vote for Clinton is a vote for less Democracy, less accountability, a weaker country.

What should happen now? If this were another country, Americans (educated and ‘uneducated’) would say that the transgressors should be barred from the elections, barred from politics, fined, thrown in jail. So dear Chicago Tribune, we can’t just simply conclude ‘Vote for the Betrayer’ when the crime has been Betraying America – does America have no standards it is not willing to discard? Can we agree to hold the line at ‘Electoral Fairness’?

So now the vast majority of Americans that have an intense dislike, disdain for both Trump and Clinton are presented with an dilemma:

  1. Vote for a liar and subverter of Democracy: Hillary Clinton
  2. Legitimate candidate but Fascist tendencies: Donald Trump
  3. 3rd Party Candidate not Fascist nor a Cheater, unlikely to win: Green, Libertarian

Every election in the history of elections is touted as being “The Most Important election in the History of Elections” – this is simply not true. There is a balance of powers, the President is not a Dictator and cannot simply impose his will.

Most Americans will be going to the polls holding their noses at the stench presented to them. There will likely be no favorable outcome to this year’s election. So I encourage voters to take a long term view, as they will live with the consequences for the rest of their lives. Perhaps we should be looking ahead to whom we would like to see as Candidates in 2020.


4 Ways to the Future

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Uncategorized


This election is a battle between the establishment and disenfranchised voters. There are 4 faces in this battle, but the sides can perhaps be best framed using the ‘Inverted Totalitarianism‘ framework proposed by Sheldon Wolin:

  • corporations run the US government through ‘contributions’ and ‘lobbying’
  • voter apathy is an objective of political parties (though disenfranchisement)
  • press is subverted as an instrument of propaganda

Sanders supporters would certainly recognize these tactics; the corporate influence of Wall Street on Congress and the President is at the core of Sanders’ platform; the Democratic Party has been accused of ignoring voter wishes (with the Super-delegate system); and the press has widely been criticized of a ‘Sanders blackout’.

Trump has also lashed out at the Republican establishment and also lent his support to Sanders.

There is substantial evidence to support the idea of Inverted Totalitarianism: Citizens United, declining middle-class, increasing Gini-coefficient (measure of income distribution), attack on a press owned by corporations by the executive branch over the past 4 years, and a democratic system that is institutionally biased in favor of the Democratic and Republican Parties.

I have to wonder if it is not an unsaid objective of the US government to economically ‘enslave’ its citizens from the moment they graduate from high school or university by permitting unethical loans, enabling personal debt, through exorbitant university education fees debt, or through medical costs (the #1 reason for personal bankruptcy is medical expenses – 78% of the individuals who went bankrupt had medical insurance).

Here’s a little mental challenge, try to determine the President that pushed the following initiatives:

  • comprehensive immigration reform (Bush)
  • least transparent (Obama)
  • deregulation of banks (Clinton)
  • greatest budget surplus (Clinton)

…the list can go on; the truth is that while the rhetoric between parties is strident and highly charged (to rally their base), there is no substantial difference between the two party’s actions. This situation gave rise to the ‘Tea Party’ movement; believe what you will of this movement, it was the most ‘democratic’ movement the United States has seen in decades, people demanding that their elected officials represent their views, and holding their elected officials to account.

The best outcome I can see for this election’s primaries is a 4 way race of President. All sides would be represented, anti-establishement and establishment on both the right and ‘left’ (less right) side of the spectrum.

Many supporters have indicated that they would not vote if their candidate were not to appear on the ballot. I believe that this is a mistake; 2016 is the year where citizens will finally be able to vote for the further entrenchment of a US flavored totalitarian system or for change. Not to vote is a vote for apathy and plays into the Democratic-Republican alliance for continued power sharing.





One year in

Posted: September 19, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tortuous Path

Tortuous Path

Korea is a land of paradox.

It’s touted as an ‘innovation’ economy, but innovation remains its biggest hurdle as the country struggles to avoid a well worn road to Japanese economic stagnation.

Korean children are the world’s most educated, yet they are committing suicide in record numbers.

It’s a model of societal technological integration, however, much of these advances are ‘local’, un-exportable, and inaccessible to foreigners.

Korean entertainment media is at the forefront of culture; K-Pop and TV-dramas have a global audience, yet principles of Confucianism still dominates interpersonal relations.

It has an impressive record of companies in the ‘Fortune 500’, yet these companies are increasingly being shunned by foreign investors as they resist pressure to change from outdated and shady models of corporate governance.

It’s going to be a tortuous path for Korea, coping with an aeging population, innovation gap, falling corporate profits, and Korean youth wanting to emigrate abroad for a ‘brighter future.

‘One year in’ I have few definite conclusions, but as the only foreigner in one of Korea’s leading firms, I will try to share some of the insights I have gained over the past year in this next series of posts.





Where are you from?

Posted: October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

Reasonable question when meeting someone for the first time, I suppose. People what to know if they can establish a connection – common ground for a discussion. I am guilty.

“I grew up in Canada” is my stock reply (cleverly leaving out ‘where were you born?’). “I have an aunt who lives in Winnipeg”, “I lived in Vancouver”, “I did my undergrad at the UofT”, “I worked in Montreal”, “I was an illegal immigrant working in construction north of Toronto”, are all stories that I have heard (and the last, from a Greek fisherman I met on the island of Donoussa was quite a story!).

But really, I haven’t lived in Canada for over 20 years. Am I really ‘from there?’

Beyond light socializing, the answer to ‘where are you from?’ depends on what nation you identify with, what box you want people to put you in, where you consider home.

Do you feel proud of being a [insert nationality here]? Is that how you want people to remember you? Then that’s probably where you should say you’re from.

Personally don’t feel any need to associate myself with a ‘nation’, I have plenty of great friends that mean far more to me than any country could. I don’t really even agree with the idea of a nation, if we could get beyond nation, perhaps we might even be able to stop slaughtering each other and take care of some common issues (like the planet). But I digress…

I don’t feel well in boxes (even boîtes I am finding claustrophobic in my middle age), although I do love receiving parcels in the mail. Just nothing from IKEA, that’s just work.

Today, Korea is where my home is right now and will be for the forceable future. Of course, I could never say that I’m from here – the light complexion, double eyelids and angular nose would give it all away.

So if you’re trying to figure out who I am, here’s a detailed map of where I’m from-

Maybe in the future I will just ask people where they have been 🙂

-edit- Rick just gave me the idea of asking people “Instead of me asking you where’re you’re from, why don’t you just tell me where are you going?”

Clear days and Stormy Days

Posted: September 28, 2014 in Korea
Tags: ,

“Clear days and Stormy days shall all pass”. Hwang Sok-yong

I really enjoyed 10 Book Club’s conference with the celebrated Korean author Hwang Sok-yong yesterday afternoon. Hwang Sok-yong came across a free thinker that led his life instead of having it dictated to him; he fought on the side of the Americans during the Vietnam, a dissident during the development dictatorship, he visited North Korea to meet Kim Il-sung, was sentenced to 7 years prison for violating South Korea’s national security law, lived in exile for a few years and then served out his term in prison.

A few themes intrigued me: Hwang

1. From the ‘Road to Sampo’: he explores the loss of the hometown with globalization/modernization. Characters want to return to their hometown Sampo, but this place no longer exists. This theme particularly resonates with me (as you can surmise from the title of the blog). My search has always been for the universal hometown, perhaps this can only be found within. But hard road it is; perhaps even a road to nowhere.

2. From ‘The Old Garden’: In their minds, the two protagonists of this novel live in different time periods. Hwang draws from his time in prison (where we was even denied the use of pen and paper) and comes to terms with this period through a romance novel, where romance is not restricted to the physical. I thought the idea of mentally living in a time period other than the present to be interesting. After all, many people do live in the past of the future.

The quote “Clear days and Stormy days shall all pass” was also a message to the youth of Korea to live in the present, not some hypothetical future. He had been reflecting on the pressure that young women and men felt in Korean society, for women, the pressure to conform to outdated social standards and for men to be incorporate into rigid institutions – leading to unhappiness (75th on happiness index) and suicide (#1 in developed world).

This malaise of youth is clearly evident in Korea, where many of the young people I have spoken to find themselves in a kind of social ‘straight-jacket’; but it also present in the West where the economic crisis continues to exact a disproportionate burden on young adults. The dream of many European teenagers is to leave their home and cross the Atlantic.

3. From “The Guest”: The influence of Marxism and Christianity, two competing philosophies imported into Korea from Russia and by America as Guests to form the foundations of what is modern Korea.

Korea Panoramas

Posted: July 16, 2014 in Korea
Tags: ,

Some panoramas from my recent trip to Korea.


City GatesThe City Gate

City HallCity Hall


View of City Hall and PalaceView over the newest palace from a city hall building

Naman TowerNamsan Tower

Seoul from NamsanEndless City

Sea at BusanThe sea from Busan

Haeundae BeachHaeundae Beach

Gamcheon VillageGamcheon Village

view from Busan StationView from Busan train station



Junk Food

I just read that Dunkin Donuts is coming to Belgium.

Europeans, please! boycott American stores in Europe.

Americans, stop buying from European stores…

You are all ruining the fun of travel. I don’t want to find 7/11 all over Thailand (is Thailand going to become one giant 7/11?), the Gap in Athens, Starbucks in Kyoto, Le Pain Quotidien in New York, and SuperDry in Mulhouse. You don’t need Louis Vuitton and Hermes in Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, and Taizhou. These bags have so much more… class, when you buy them in Paris.

I actually enjoy discovering new things!

The food situation is the worst, now I can have junk food anytime, it’s not a guilty pleasure I enjoy once or twice per year when I visit North America. Those of you that travel to Bhutan, complain about the food and rant endlessly about McDonald’s, please stay home; and keep your corporations with you. Let’s maintain some decorum: bad food – UK; junk food – US; saucey food – France; bratwurst – Germany; Greek Yogurt – Greece (OK, OK, and Feta, no Feta in Denmark…); Soba – Japan; Chicken Feet – China; except Sushi, we should have fresh sushi everywhere.

So please people, try to discover and enjoy the countries you travel to for what they have to offer; enjoy coming home to re-discover what you left behind… eat waffles or frites with mayonnaise and don’t ruin it for the rest of us by going to Dunkin Frackin Donuts in Brussels!


Edit: now Burger King too… 😦