“We are moving toward a situation where people such as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson have so much money it would hardly matter to them to write a check for more than both Obama and Romney spent in the last presidential election,” Sanders said. “They could write out a check for $2 billion, and it would be insignificant – a fraction of their increase in wealth over a one-year period.”
The Koch brothers, who fund a variety of conservative political operations, saw their wealth increase from $68 billion to $80 billion in just one year, Sanders said.
He said the loosening of restrictions on campaign spending favored by conservatives had imperiled representative government.
“I do not believe democracy is about a handful of billionaires, such as the Koch brothers or Sheldon Adelson, being in a position in which they can spend as much money as they want on any political race in this country,” Sanders said. “It is very hard for me to imagine how anybody could defend that as being democracy. It is not. It is oligarchy.”
The fact that so many on the right are valorizing Bundy—or, at minimum, tiptoeing around his obvious nutbaggery—is a testament to the enduring power of Waco and Ruby Ridge among conservatives. The rest of us may barely remember them, but they’re totemic events on the right, fueling Glenn Beck-ian fantasies of black helicopters and jackbooted federal thugs for more than two decades now.
Mainstream conservatives have pandered to this stuff for years because it was convenient, and that’s brought them to where they are today: too scared to stand up to the vigilantes they created and speak the simple truth. They complain endlessly about President Obama’s “lawlessness,” but this is lawlessness. It’s appalling that so many of them aren’t merely afraid to plainly say so, but actively seem to be egging it on.
'Brigade' Wants to Do to Politics What Napster Did to Music
The influence of Silicon Valley has, for better or worse, convinced many of its established players and aspirants that the world’s problems need technological innovation, not governmental stagnation.
So, it’s with some sense of wonder to watch Sean Parker—the outsized personality behind Napster, Facebook, and Spotify—invest in Brigade, a startup aimed at fostering political engagement, especially voter turnout. Indeed, the Valley’slibertarian streak runs deep. If anyone can disrupt government, it’s the tech industry, right?
Politico reports that Parker will step in as Brigade’s CEO and chairman, with Ron Conway and Marc Benioff functioning as two other big-time investors.
Brigade will target voter apathy and other “underlying societal problems that make it difficult for citizens to engage in government.”
With so much money now pouring into elections thanks to the five conservative Supreme Court puppets, the messages will be murkier with all the “soft money” going towards smear campaigns. The maxim “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear” is a profound understatement after Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign. The need for clarity, accuracy, and veracity and is surely there.
Also, this is a good sign as far as fighting the widespread Republican voter suppression initiatives.
“Is it political if I tell you that if we burn coal, you’re going to warm the atmosphere? Or is that a statement of fact that you’ve made political? It’s a scientific statement. The fact that there are elements of society that have made it political, that’s a whole other thing.”—Neil deGrasse Tyson (via socio-logic)
Apparent Hate Crime Aimed at Jews Instead Strikes Christians
"Although the shooting suspect, Frazier Glenn Miller, was a known racist and anti-Semite with ties to the Ku Klux Klan, the victims who were gunned down on Sunday were all Christians, devoted to their families, to their churches and to serving their Kansas City communities.”
“When you don’t know how much you’re paying for health care, it’s hard to tell if you’re getting good value. And if Americans are not making health care decisions based on value, doctors and hospitals don’t have incentive to provide it.”—Opinion: I envy my dog’s health care: Why vets offer a good deal (via aljazeeraamerica)
“If you have a Boehner lasting more than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention.”—A new ad from J.D. Winteregg (R), who is challenging Speaker John Boehner in next month’s Ohio congressional primary.
“Well, the average person is constantly being bombarded by propaganda crafted by the elites. Why do poor people with missing teeth and high blood pressure get foaming at the mouth mad at the thought of “socialized” medicine? Why do working class people have such negative views of unions? Why do they think bombing random countries is about protecting America’s freedom? Because they’re told to feel and think that way every single day.”—
The oligarchs and elites control the airwaves. They craft the narratives. That is why we need campaign finance reform to keep big money out. That is why we need to crush all voter suppression. And most of all, we need to elect principled politicians and get rid of the misanthropes on the Right.
US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study
A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy…:
"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 widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.
The opinion of average citizens on a policy is mostly uncorrelated with the probability that that policy will be adopted. The opinion of economic elites has a much stronger correlation.
In other words: unless you have money, you don’t matter.
AND the Conservative Justices just pumped up the oligarchs will unlimited campaign contributions.
“The waning anti-Social Security lobby will try to stop our progress, but the American people understand that boosting benefits is the right thing to do and now is the right time to do it, for millions of middle-class families and our nation’s economic recovery.”—Max Richtman via Entitled to Know. (via ncpssm)
“Today’s decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance.”—Edward Snowden, in a statement regarding the Guardian and the Washington Post, winning the Pultizer Prize for their stories on the N.S.A. (via assangistan)
Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:
“We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
“We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
“We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
“We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
“We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
“We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
“We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
“We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
“As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
“We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
“We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
“We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
“We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
“We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
“We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
“We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
“We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
“We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
“We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
“We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
“We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
“We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
“We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”
In other words, the agenda of the Koch brothers is not only to defund Obamacare. The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.
They’ve made no secret about what they want. And now, they can utilize their newly-defined right of free speech without limits to continue doing so…
“… society is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return…. There is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America’s return to Gilded Age levels of inequality. So never mind the debate about exactly how much damage high-frequency trading does. It’s the whole financial industry, not just that piece, that’s undermining our economy and our society”—
Example: infrastructure projects like rail and transit are routinely turned down yet the Spread Networks tunnel was built in PA for high-speed trading:
“a fiber-optic cable that would shave three milliseconds — three-thousandths of a second — off communication time between the futures markets of Chicago and the stock markets of New York. And the fact that this tunnel was built while the rail tunnel wasn’t tells you a lot about what’s wrong with America today.”
So what can we do to make flash-trading work for all of America?
Annual trades on Wall Street approach three times the GDP, which defines them as mostly unproductive; flash trading can only increase this ratio. Regulators may or may not find ways to bring put the brakes on, but in the meantime, the ill-gotten gains could be harnessed for the national good by the imposition of a transaction tax. A fraction of 1% would do wonders for the national treasury.
“Black or white, man or woman, urban, rural, rich, poor, Native American, disabled, gay, straight, Republican or Democrat. Voters who want to vote should be able to vote. Period. Full stop.”—Barack Obama, talking in NYC about voter suppression. (via mar-see-ah)
[T]he current Republican House is quite possibly the most intransigent in all of American history. It is also, not coincidentally, among the most ideologically extreme in American history.
That means that the chances the passing meaningful legislation are near zero. It also means that any remotely controversial legislation that does manage to get passed is likely to be only marginally beneficial to the American people, if not actively harmful.
In an environment where nothing good can get passed through Congress, the only legislative tool left in the arsenal is to shame the opposition until they either give in or lose the next election. Rather than attempt to figure out what good bills have a larger-than-zero chance of passing the House, the President should simply work alongside the Democratic Senate to craft good, popular bills and dare the House to reject them and refuse to bring them to a vote…
[I]f Democrats lose the Senate in 2014 and cannot make gains in the House then Obama is already a lame duck President. He might as well do everything in his power to make life miserable for Republicans and maximize Democrats’ electoral chances in 2014.
“At the very sametime that America refused to give the Negro any land, through an act of Congress our government was giving away millions of acres of land in the West & Midwest. Which meant that it was willing to undergird its White Peasants from Europe with an Economic floor but not only did they give the land. They built land grant Colleges with government money to teach them how to farm. Not only that, they provided county agents to further their expertise in farming. Not only that, they provided low interest rates in order that they can mechanize their farms. Not only that, today many of these people are receiving millions of dollars in federal subsidies not to farm and they are the very people telling the Black man he ought to lift himself up by his own bootstraps.Now this is what were faced with and this is the reality. Now when we come to Washington this is the champaign. We are coming to get our check.”—Martin Luther King, Jr. (via 4eyedblackgirl)
“Romney adopted knee-jerk anti-Russian positions on every relevant issue, and married them to reflexive anti-Obama criticisms. That’s all that he did. It isn’t surprising, since he had no particular foreign policy experience, nor had he had much of an interest in these issues before he started his seemingly endless presidential campaigning. Romney had no particular insight into Russian behavior, and definitely didn’t understand what motivated Russian leaders or how they viewed U.S. policies in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. If the U.S. had been following his recommendations over the last year, tensions between the U.S. and Russia would likely be even worse, since Romney’s idea for Russia policy in practice was little more than to antagonize Moscow whenever possible.”—Romney Wasn’t “Churchill-Like” on Russia, He Was Thoroughly Ignorant (via azspot)
»» As a result of the rulings in Heller and McDonald, the Second Amendment, which was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were “well regulated,” has given federal judges the ultimate power to determine the validity of state regulations of both civilian and militia-related uses of arms. That anomalous result can be avoided by adding five words to the text of the Second Amendment to make it unambiguously conform to the original intent of its draftsmen. As so amended, it would read:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”
Emotional claims that the right to possess deadly weapons is so important that it is protected by the federal Constitution distort intelligent debate about the wisdom of particular aspects of proposed legislation designed to minimize the slaughter caused by the prevalence of guns in private hands. Those emotional arguments would be nullified by the adoption of my proposed amendment. The amendment certainly would not silence the powerful voice of the gun lobby; it would merely eliminate its ability to advance one mistaken argument. ««
Excerpt between sets of arrows.
There’s much more in the Washington Post editorial I’ve linked to in the title above.
The American Right is, like, the grand champion of Moving the Goalposts. Can’t make it as a teenager? Why didn’t you go to college? Graduated from college, swamped in debt and struggling to get by? You should’ve gotten a relevant major, or stop being snooty and thinking you’re too good for a minimum wage job. Working a minimum wage job, with a degree? You deserve it for not putting your skills to use.
“The condemnation of one part of the working class to enforced idleness by the overwork of the other part, and the converse, becomes a means of enriching the individual capitalists…”—Karl Marx - Capital Vol 1 1867 (via slutty-stoner)
Employment increases when wages increase. Full employment would take much higher wages.
By keeping wages low, and pitting the employed versus the unemployed, while at the same time lowering the tax rates on large businesses decreasing their incentive to reinvest, you get the profits from increased productivity going to the ruling classes and shareholders, and NOT the worker.
It’s modern serfdom sold through mass media as benign capitalism.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is, as I hope I’ve made clear, an awesome work. At a time when the concentration of wealth and income in the hands of a few has resurfaced as a central political issue, Piketty doesn’t just offer invaluable documentation of what is happening, with unmatched historical depth. He also offers what amounts to a unified field theory of inequality, one that integrates economic growth, the distribution of income between capital and labor, and the distribution of wealth and income among individuals into a single frame.
And yet there is one thing that slightly detracts from the achievement—a sort of intellectual sleight of hand, albeit one that doesn’t actually involve any deception or malfeasance on Piketty’s part. Still, here it is: the main reason there has been a hankering for a book like this is the rise, not just of the one percent, but specifically of the American one percent. Yet that rise, it turns out, has happened for reasons that lie beyond the scope of Piketty’s grand thesis.
“CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America. No longer is comedy going to be a covert assault on traditional American values [and] conservatives. Now, it’s just wide out in the open. What this hire means is a redefinition of what is funny and a redefinition of what is comedy.”—
Rush Limbaugh, not loving the pick of Stephen Colbert as host to replace David Letterman.
As Andrew Sullivan points out, Colbert is both a practicing Catholic and a Sunday school teacher. Something tells me David Letterman … wasn’t. (Neither is Politicalprof, but no one is asking me to host a late night comedy show.)