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APRIL 18, 2014
Is America an Oligarchy?
BY JOHN CASSIDY
From the Dept. of Academics Confirming Something You Already Suspected comes a new study concluding that rich people and organizations representing business interests have a powerful grip on U.S. government policy. After examining differences in public opinion across income groups on a wide variety of issues, the political scientists Martin Gilens, of Princeton, and Benjamin Page, of Northwestern, found that the preferences of rich people had a much bigger impact on subsequent policy decisions than the views of middle-income and poor Americans. Indeed, the opinions of lower-income groups, and the interest groups that represent them, appear to have little or no independent impact on policy....
The original study:
From the Sept 2014 journal "Perspectives on Politics"
Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens
Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page
Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics—which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and two types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism—offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented.
A great deal of empirical research speaks to the policy influence of one or another set of actors, but until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions against each other within a single statistical model. We report on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
The last paragraph of their findings:
Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a wide-spread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf
"...America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened."
I don't know if we will get another chance to change things if we wait for them to further consolidate their power. I especially believe that Hillary's court appointees will not be inclined to limit the power of money.
Posted by kristopher | Mon Feb 8, 2016, 10:37 PM (5 replies)
In the courts
Avoiding impropriety and the appearance of it promotes the professional values of fairness, impartiality, a reliance on process, and making decisions based on the merits rather than favoritism. This canon also promotes the institution of courts as above reproach and therefore worthy of the public’s trust and confidence.https://nacmnet.org/canon-12-avoiding-impropriety.html
Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety.
Impropriety is a higher standard than simply “obeying the law”; the phrase “appearance of impropriety” is an even higher standard than that. The Model Code is silent on who defines impropriety or who determines the appearance of it.
Examples of impropriety: Having a personal relationship with a process server, or serving alcohol at a social event to already inebriated individuals.
Avoiding Improper Influence: Business
Examples: Quietly referring parties in cases to a specific local attorney; choosing one vendor over other more qualified vendors bidding on a court contract.
Avoiding Improper Influence: Family or Person
Example: Hiring a family or a friend over other more qualified candidates.
Avoid Improper Influence: Position
This could include resisting inappropriate pressure even by a judge, to perform an inappropriate act such as hiring a friend...
UBS Deal Shows Clinton’s Complicated Tieshttp://www.wsj.com/articles/ubs-deal-shows-clintons-complicated-ties-1438223492
Donations to family foundation increased after secretary of state’s involvement in tax case
By JAMES V. GRIMALDI and REBECCA BALLHAUS June 30, 2015
A few weeks after Hillary Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state in early 2009, she was summoned to Geneva by her Swiss counterpart to discuss an urgent matter. The Internal Revenue Service was suing UBS AG to get the identities of Americans with secret accounts.
If the case proceeded, Switzerland’s largest bank would face an impossible choice: Violate Swiss secrecy laws by handing over the names, or refuse and face criminal charges in U.S. federal court.
Within months, Mrs. Clinton announced a tentative legal settlement—an unusual intervention by the top U.S. diplomat. UBS ultimately turned over information on 4,450 accounts, a fraction of the 52,000 sought by the IRS, an outcome that drew criticism from some lawmakers who wanted a more extensive crackdown.
From that point on, UBS’s engagement with the Clinton family’s charitable organization increased. Total donations by UBS to the Clinton Foundation grew from less than $60,000 through 2008 to a cumulative total of about $600,000 by the end of 2014, according to the foundation and the bank.
The bank also joined the Clinton Foundation to launch entrepreneurship and inner-city loan programs, through which it lent $32 million. And it paid former president Bill Clinton $1.5 million to participate in a series of question-and-answer sessions with UBS Wealth Management Chief Executive Bob McCann, making UBS his biggest single corporate source of speech income disclosed since he left the White House.
There is no evidence of any link between Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the case...
Posted by kristopher | Mon Feb 8, 2016, 10:30 AM (1 replies)
Let's just stop boomersplaining politics to millennialshttp://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/2/6/1480395/-Let-s-just-stop-boomersplaining-politics-to-millennials
Saturday Feb 06, 2016 · 1:45 PM EST
The following is a response to “This Progressive Doesn’t Need Your Lectures” by syndicated columnist Connie Schultz (National Memo, February 4, 2016).
I wish I had learned about you under circumstances other than a heated Democratic primary election for president. I suspect we would probably agree on most issues.
But I cannot stand by and read your continued criticisms of the Bernie Sanders campaign and his supporters. You say they don’t understand you. Well, you clearly do not understand them.
In your latest column, you tell Sanders supporters who say they won’t vote for Hillary Clinton that they can’t call themselves progressives.
Here’s the thing: Many of them don’t. Some of Sanders’ supporters are not even Democrats. Sanders is attracting a broad cross-section of supporters including Democrats, Independents and even some Republicans. Right or wrong, some of them don’t like Hillary and feel no need to support the Democratic Party. They joined the campaign because they support Bernie.
One reason people from so many different walks of political life like Bernie is that he is consistent....
Posted by kristopher | Mon Feb 8, 2016, 08:27 AM (122 replies)
"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998.
"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
President Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998.
"Iraq is a long way from , but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face."
Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998.
"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998
"e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998.
"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998.
"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999.
"There is no doubt that . Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to redefine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer-range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies."
Letter to President Bush, Signed by Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL,) and others, Dec, 5, 2001.
"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."
Sen. Carl Levin (d, MI), Sept. 19, 2002.
"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002.
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seing and developing weapons of mass destruction."
Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002.
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002.
"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002.
"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years . We also should remember we have alway s underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
Sen. Jay Rockerfeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002,
"He has systematically violated, over the course of the past 11 years, every significant UN resolution that has demanded that he disarm and destroy his chemical and biological weapons, and any nuclear capacity. This he has refused to do."
Rep. Henry Waxman (D, CA), Oct. 10, 2002.
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction. "ithout question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he has continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real ...
Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003.
NOW THE DEMOCRATS SAY PRESIDENT BUSH LIED, THAT THERE NEVER WERE ANY WMD'S AND HE TOOK US TO WAR FOR HIS OIL BUDDIES??? Right!!!
Origins: All of the quotes listed above are substantially correct reproductions of words uttered by various Democratic leaders regarding Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's acquisition or possession of weapons of mass destruction. However, as is typical of such lists, some of the quotes are truncated — and all of them are provided without context — so as to reinforce the author's point of view even when the proffered material does not fit it. Namely, several of these quotes were
offered in the course of statements that clearly indicated the speaker was decidedly against unilateral military intervention in Iraq by the U.S. Moreover, several of the quotes offered antedate the four nights of airstrikes unleashed against Iraq by U.S. and British forces during Operation Desert Fox in December 1998, after which Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and Gen. Henry H. Shelton (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) announced the action had been successful in "degrad Saddam Hussein's ability to deliver chemical, biological and nuclear weapons."
In the section below where we highlight these quotes, we've tried to provide sufficient surrounding material to make clear the context in which the quotes were offered as well as include links to the full text from which they were derived wherever possible.
In February 1998, politicians debated the Clinton administration's plans to launch air attacks against Iraq in an effort to coerce Saddam Hussein into cooperating with U.N. weapons inspectors. As the Washington Post noted at the time: ...
Posted by kristopher | Sun Feb 7, 2016, 07:22 PM (3 replies)
After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward. Here’s Why.http://www.thenation.com/article/after-i-lived-in-norway-america-felt-backward-heres-why/
A crash course in social democracy.
By Ann JonesJANUARY 28, 2016
Some years ago, I faced up to the futility of reporting truths about America’s disastrous wars, and so I left Afghanistan for another mountainous country far away. It was the polar opposite of Afghanistan: a peaceful, prosperous land where nearly everybody seemed to enjoy a good life, on the job and in the family.
It’s true that they didn’t work much–not by American standards, anyway. In the United States, full-time salaried workers supposedly laboring 40 hours a week actually average 49, with almost 20 percent clocking more than 60. These people, on the other hand, worked only about 37 hours a week, when they weren’t away on long paid vacations. At the end of the workday, about four in the afternoon (perhaps three during the summer), they had time to enjoy a hike in the forest, a swim with the kids, or a beer with friends—which helps explain why, unlike so many Americans, they are pleased with their jobs.
What is it, though, that makes the Scandinavians so different? Since the Democrats can’t tell you and the Republicans wouldn’t want you to know, let me offer you a quick introduction. What Scandinavians call the Nordic model is a smart and simple system that starts with a deep commitment to equality and democracy. That’s two concepts combined in a single goal because, as far as they’re concerned, you can’t have one without the other.
Right there, they part company with capitalist America, now the most unequal of all the developed nations, and consequently a democracy no more. Political scientists say it has become an oligarchy, run at the expense of its citizenry by and for the superrich. Perhaps you’ve noticed that.
In the last century, Scandinavians, aiming for their egalitarian goal, refused to settle solely for any of the ideologies competing for power—not capitalism or fascism, not Marxist socialism or communism....
See also: http://www.democraticunderground.com/12511162609
Posted by kristopher | Sun Feb 7, 2016, 08:20 AM (1 replies)
Research source cited below:
Measuring feelings can be very subjective, but is nonetheless a useful complement to more objective data when comparing quality of life across countries. Subjective data can provide a personal evaluation of an individual’s health, education, income, personal fulfilment and social conditions. Surveys, in particular, are used to measure life satisfaction and happiness.
Life satisfaction measures how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, people across the OECD gave it a 6.6 grade. Life satisfaction is not evenly shared across the OECD however. Some countries – Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Portugal and Turkey – have a relatively low level of overall life satisfaction, with average scores of less than 5.6. At the other end of the scale, scores reach 7.5 in Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. There is almost no difference in life satisfaction levels between men and women across OECD countries. However, when looking at people’s education level, there is a clear difference: whereas people who have only completed primary education across OECD countries have a life satisfaction level of 5.9, this score reaches 7 for people with tertiary education....
Details by country...
Monday, May 11, 2009
World's Happiest Countries? Social Democracies
A new report released by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) shows that happiness levels are highest in northern European countries.
Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands rated at the top of the list, ranking first, second and third, respectively.
The US? As expected, the United States failed to make the top 10 but ranked among the highest for obesity and child poverty. Americans spend less than half the amount of time eating as the French, but have three times the obesity rate. “This tells us something about slow food, I think,” Simon Chappele, editor of the report said in an interview with NPR.
The report also showed the United States has the lowest mean age for women when they first gave birth, at 25.1 years old.
These Are The Happiest Countries In The World
Denmark’s residents are the most satisfied with their lives, according to the Better Life Index released Monday. According to the study, published annually by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United States failed to crack the top 10 for the fifth consecutive year.
The Better Life Index rates the 34 OECD member nations, as well as Brazil and the Russian Federation, on 22 variables that contribute to overall well-being, including income, education, housing, health, and life satisfaction. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 countries with the highest life satisfaction score.
A healthy job market is one of the most important factors contributing to higher life evaluations. Employment rates — the percentage of the working-age population that is employed — were higher in each of the 10 countries with the highest life satisfaction score than the average employment rate for the countries reviewed.
Conversely, countries with relatively unhealthy job markets had lower life satisfaction scores. Unemployment rates were above 8.5% in seven of the 10 least happy countries, while they were lower than 7% in all but two of the happiest countries.
Healthy labor markets not only help promote job security, but also they can ...
Forbes Best countries for Business
Rank Name GDP Growth GDP per Capita Trade Balance/GDP Population
#1 Denmark 1.1% $44,600 6.3% 5.6 M
#2 New Zealand 3.3% $35,300 -3.2% 4.4 M
#3 Norway 2.2% $67,200 9.4% 5.2 M
#4 Ireland 5.2% $51,300 3.7% 4.9 M
#5 Sweden 2.3% $46,200 6.2% 9.8 M
#6 Finland -0.4% $40,700 -1.8% 5.5 M
#7 Canada 2.4% $45,000 -2.1% 35.1 M
#8 Singapore 2.9% $83,100 19.1% 5.7 M
#9 Netherlands 1% $48,000 10.4% 16.9 M
#10 United Kingdom 3% $39,800 -5.9% 64.1 M
#11 Hong Kong 2.5% $55,100 1.9% 7.1 M
#12 Switzerland 1.9% $58,100 7.2% 8.1 M
#13 Iceland 1.8% $44,000 3.6% 0.3 M
#14 Australia 2.7% $46,600 -3% 22.8 M
#15 Belgium 1.1% $43,100 1.6% 11.3 M
#16 Portugal 0.9% $27,100 0.6% 10.8 M
#17 Lithuania 3% $27,300 0.1% 2.9 M
#18 Germany 1.6% $46,200 7.4% 80.9 M
#19 Estonia 2.9% $27,900 0.1% 1.3 M
#20 Slovenia 3% $29,900 6.9% 2 M
#21 Taiwan 3.8% $46,000 12.4% 23.4 M
#22 United States 2.4% $54,400 -2.2% 321.4 M
#23 Japan -0.1% $37,500 0.5% 126.9 M
After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward. Here’s Why.
A crash course in social democracy.
By Ann JonesJANUARY 28, 2016
Posted by kristopher | Sat Feb 6, 2016, 11:22 PM (9 replies)
Posted by kristopher | Fri Feb 5, 2016, 11:18 AM (0 replies)
Hedges article begins:
“There is a desire felt by tens of millions of Americans, lumped into a diffuse and fractious movement known as the Christian right, to destroy the intellectual and scientific rigor of the Enlightenment, radically diminish the role of government to create a theocratic state based on “biblical law,” and force a recalcitrant world to bend to the will of an imperial and “Christian” America. Its public face is on display in the House of Representatives. This ideology, which is the driving force behind the shutdown of the government, calls for the eradication of social “deviants,” beginning with gay men and lesbians, whose sexual orientation, those in the movement say, is a curse and an illness, contaminating the American family and the country.
His description of this movement, called Dominionism, comports with my own view of what has happened to some Christians in America, who have intertwined Jesus with the Republican Party and its current driving force the “Tea Party”, which is a faux movement established by and led by some of the wealthiest families in our country. Hedges goes on to talk about Senator Ted Cruz, who very quickly has been seen as a “White Knight” for this movement and a hopeful Presidential contender:
“U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz — whose father is Rafael Cruz, a rabid right-wing Christian preacher and the director of the Purifying Fire International ministry — and legions of the senator’s wealthy supporters, some of whom orchestrated the shutdown, are rooted in a radical Christian ideology known as Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism.
The cult of masculinity, as in all fascist movements, pervades the ideology of the ...
List of links from https://www.quora.com/Is-Ted-Cruz-a-dominionist
Posted by kristopher | Fri Feb 5, 2016, 10:43 AM (0 replies)
The extremely wealthy person says, "Social security wasn't devised to be a system that supported you for a 30 year retirement after a 25 year career. So there will be certain things, you know, the retirement age has to be changed...".
So, he believes a wage earner only works for 25 years before retiring at 65?
I guess that might often be true given the job market he has fostered.
And then, everyone apparently lives to be 95?
This moron EARNED his money?
He makes me think of the old time radio show featuring the character Lamont Cranston - AKA "The Shadow":
"What evil lurks in the heart of men? The Shadow knows.
So do we Mr Blankfein. So do we.
Posted by kristopher | Wed Feb 3, 2016, 05:03 PM (9 replies)
Think Bernie is the only GOP target? Think again.
Think Hillary will win the center? Think again.
Think Hillary has seen everything they got on her?
She's got a backlog of 12 years worth of material for political ads they have yet to tap.
"Today, Clinton Launched A New TV Ad Touting Her Support For Gun Control."
"But In 2008, Clinton Attacked Obama's Support For Gun Control From The Right"
"Hillary is clearly the most qualified candidate for the system we now have. Bernie is clearly the most qualified to create the system we should have and need." -Robert Reich
Posted by kristopher | Wed Feb 3, 2016, 03:16 PM (10 replies)