Open Thread - Friday, April 24, 2015
Do we live in a democracy? Most of you are probably aware of the Princeton study that concluded that we are closer to oligarchy than democracy.
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.
Is is not much of a revelation considering the quid pro quo electroral system we utilize.
Back in late March, Josh Green of Bloomberg Businessweek spoke on Bloomberg TV about a number of Republican politicians who traveled to Las Vegas to meet with—and “kiss the ring” of—Sheldon Adelson. The politicians—including governors Chris Christie (NJ), John Kasich (OH), and Scott Walker (WI)—all appear to be interested in running for president in 2016. It appears they’re also eager to curry favor with Adelson—the Chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands and one of the richest men in the world. Adelson has been extremely generous in the past with campaign donations to Republican candidates for office. The casino magnate was reported to have spent approximately $150 million dollars in an attempt to defeat President Obama and to help the GOP take control of Congress in 2012.
Does Sheldon Adelson influence Republican foreign policy?
Sheldon Adelson, the CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and one of the wealthiest men in the world, is an important financier of hawkish "pro-Israel" groups, as well as a prominent supporter of rightwing politicians in both the United States and Israel. Among the organizations he has backed are the Republican Jewish Coalition, the Zionist Organization of America, Freedom's Watch, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
The dots do not seem hard to connect.
When the unexpectedly detailed P5+1 framework agreement with Iran was announced last Thursday, Illinois Republican Mark Kirk made a bizarre comment. “We all know” said the senator, that this is going to end with “a mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran”—a result of Israel having to go to war to “clean up the mess” made by American and European negotiators. A few days earlier John McCain had expressed the wish that Israel “go rogue” and attack Iran in order to upend the Iran negotiations.
Where is the patriotic outrage?
Is it possible for one plutocrat to precipitate war?
Will people stand by while we are marched to war?
In a packed conference room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Nashua, New Hampshire, Texas Senator Ted Cruz sounded the alarm against a recent deal the US and other countries negotiated with Iran over its nuclear programme.
He says Tehran is "the single greatest threat" to security in the region and winds up the audience by telling them Iranians still celebrate a "Death to America" day.
"If somebody tells you they want to kill you, believe them," he says to applause from the partisan crowd.
Cruz was in New Hampshire this past weekend to participate in the "First in the nation" Republican leadership summit.
Leadership my ass. Just another super PAC physchofant.
In 2012, Sheldon Adelson’s $25 billion fortune was more than the gross domestic product of two dozen nations put together — and Adelson’s wealth has only grown since 2012. He’s now worth $32 billion. Adelson reportedly spent $150 million on the 2012 elections, which is a lot of money to most people, but only a tiny fraction of his massive fortune.
Adelson also reportedly has a new favorite presidential candidate. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has “been calling Adelson about once every two weeks, providing him with meticulous updates on his nascent campaign,” according to Politico. The two men “had a private dinner at Charlie Palmer, a posh steakhouse at the foot of Capitol Hill” last month, where they reportedly talked for hours. Politico titled its report on the Rubio/Adelson connection, “Marco Rubio takes lead in Sheldon Adelson primary,” as if Adelson’s support is worth as much as an entire state’s GOP primary electorate.
I think we must repeal Citizen's United before we can establish a lasting peace (or address climate change).
Open Thread follows.