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.

Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens

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.

Sheldon Adelson—Billionaire, Casino Magnate…and Political Kingmaker?

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 - Profile

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.

How the GOP Became the Israel Party

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?

Blog: Republican 2016 hopefuls blast Obama Iran policy

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.

Why The Supreme Court Says It’s Alright For Rubio To Have Biweekly Calls With A GOP Megadonor

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.

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mimi's picture

diary on its own. And all of what I am reading and grasp scares the shit out of me. Thanks for the music pieces in between. I learn a lot here, more than my brain can absorb.

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"heh, as they say, if you don't dig the blues, you got a hole in your soul" - JS

There was an article about the top 12 key people to watch in the legal pot industry. Addleson was on that list. WTF? And then there was this list. Never heard of any of them.

32 billion dollars. Boy, would I like to give that a try.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

Big Al's picture

legalizing the weed. Like Obamacare, they aren't what they seem, not when they're devised by the rich. One of the
biggest things to look for is a growing your own provision. There should be no limit on what we can grow on our own
property, just like corn, tomatoes and green beans. Yet they will limit or even deny the ability with these referendums
and you know it's all about money.

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NCTim's picture

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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

NCTim's picture

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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

Big Al's picture

accepted definitions of democracy, oligarchy and plutocracy, this system of government is not democracy. The
so called founding fathers of this country had these discussions and many did not believe that a representative
government was democracy but in fact an oligarchy, which is defined as the a country where the power effectively rests
with a small group of people. To think that voting for what amounts to mostly corrupted and bribed individuals to make
decisions for the rest of us is democracy is ludicrous to me now. So the Princeton study is right however it appears this
country has been an oligarchy (if not a plutocracy) since it's inception.

More people need to fight back against this insane illusion that is the United States of America, the notion that it's a
democracy and that we're free as the birds. It's not, we're not and it's time to have the national debate, or Revolution
Part Two, whatever does the job.

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lotlizard's picture

In the late 1960s a college radio station in southern Connecticut called one of their music blocks, "The American Revolution, Part II," and no one thought that alarming.

On the contrary, it seemed necessary and fitting, given that the 1776 American Revolution (i.e. Part I) had had doodly-squat to say about the rights of women and minorities.

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gulfgal98's picture

and good music too. I always like to see the Tedeschi Trucks band too.

In our culture money tops everything else including lives. Sad. Sad

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

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gulfgal98's picture

How nice of you to remember! Biggrin

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

shaharazade's picture

and I must admit I did not remember but was informed by FB. For the first time in my life I know when all of my family members birthdays arrive thanks to the all knowing eye of Zuckerberg. Have a great day, year, life.

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gulfgal98's picture

I spend very little time on FB, but I do like having the birthday reminder feature.

Thank you so very much. I am starting to feel my age and I am not happy about that part. Wink

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

link

Puerto Rico's top finance officials said the government of the U.S. territory will likely shutdown in three months because of a looming liquidity crisis and warned of a devastating impact on the island's economy.
In a letter to leading lawmakers, including Governor Alejandro Padilla, the officials said a financing deal that could potentially salvage the government's finances currently looked unlikely to succeed. It warned of laying off government employees and reducing public services.

It's amazing how no one seems to care about this problem so close to our shores.

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NCTim's picture

My wife and I were just discussing the net result of Republican rule. Cost flows down to the local level. They gut the schools and social support network, leaving counties and towns to pick up the cost.

I expect propping up the schools will add 10% or more to my property taxes.

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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. - Friedrich Nietzsche -

link

The scale of this crisis dwarfs any other recent humanitarian event. Syria’s 12 million people in need of assistance is a number more than twice as large as the 5 million affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, 3.5 million affected by the Haiti earthquake, and 1.7 million affected by Hurricane Katrina.

American responded to each of these other disasters with hundreds of millions of dollars in donations. World Vision raised $36 million in the year following the Haiti earthquake—$5.9 million of it in the first week alone! In comparison, after four years World Vision U.S. has been able to raise just $2.7 million for our response in Syria.

I can think of three reasons for this discrepancy in generosity. I call them the three M’s. The Syria crisis is Man-made, Mind-numbing, and Muslim.

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