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Measuring the Deep Corruption of the U.S. Political System

January 24, 2019 | By | Reply More
Measuring the Deep Corruption of the U.S. Political System

How corrupt is the U.S.? This video by Represent US gives us the shocking result. We have the best government that money can buy.

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It’s Time to Clean Up Missouri Politics: About the CLEAN MISSOURI Ballot Initiative

April 19, 2018 | By | Reply More

Today I had the privilege of attending an informational meeting regarding the CLEAN MISSOURI ballot initiative. The organization will be finished collecting signatures in a few weeks, and is on target to having the initiative on the Missouri statewide ballot this coming November. Who could possibly be against a Ballot Proposition that will read exactly like this:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
● change process and criteria for redrawing state legislative districts during
reapportionment;
● change limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state legislature can
accept from individuals or entities;
● establish a limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from
paid lobbyists;
● prohibit state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a
period of time;
● prohibit political fundraising by candidates for or members of the state legislature on
State property; and
● require legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public?
State governmental entities estimate annual operating costs may increase by
$189,000. Local governmental entities report no fiscal impact.

Here is the Policy Summary.
Here is the actual text being proposed for the Missouri Constitution.

Here is the website for Clean Missouri.

If you would like to get involved in this effort, contact Campaign Director Sean Soendker Nicholson at sean@cleanmissouri.org.

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New Harvard Business School Study: U.S. Federal Government Is Increasingly Good at Being Bad

September 15, 2017 | By | Reply More
New Harvard Business School Study: U.S. Federal Government Is Increasingly Good at Being Bad

Here’s how a new Harvard Business School study sums up our Federal Government:

America’s political system was long the envy of the world. It advanced the public interest and gave rise to a grand history of policy innovations that fostered both economic and social progress. Today, however, our political system has become the major barrier to solving nearly every important challenge our nation needs to address. . . In areas such as public education, health and wellness, personal safety, water and sanitation, environmental quality, and tolerance and inclusion, among others, U.S. progress has stalled or gone in reverse. In these areas, where America was often a pioneer and leader, the U.S. has fallen well down the list compared to other advanced countries.

The study concluded that the political system is not actually failing. It is working, but its function is different than the one taught in high school textbooks:

Most people think of politics as its own unique public institution governed by impartial laws dating back to the founders. Not so. Politics is, in fact, an industry—most of whose key players are private, gain-seeking organizations. The industry competes, just like other industries, to grow and accumulate resources and
influence for itself. The key players work to advance their self-interests, not necessarily the public interest. It’s important to recognize that much of what constitutes today’s political system has no basis in the Constitution.
As our system evolved, the parties—and a larger political industrial complex that surrounds them—established and optimized a set of rules and practices that enhanced their power and diminished our democracy.

The title to the study is: “WHY COMPETITION IN THE POLITICS INDUSTRY IS FAILING AMERICA Here is the full study.

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Insanity in every corner in these times of needless war

April 12, 2017 | By | Reply More

We have reached unprecedented levels of dysfunction on both the political right and the political left. I agree with each of these conclusions by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept:

1. New wars will always strengthen Trump: as they do for every leader.
2. Democrats’ jingoistic rhetoric has left them no ability – or desire – to oppose Trump’s wars.
3. In wartime, US television instantly converts into state media.
4. Trump’s bombing is illegal, but presidents are now omnipotent.
5. How can those who view Trump as an Inept Fascist now trust him to wage war?
6. Like all good conspiracy theories, no evidence can kill the Kremlin-controls-Trump tale.
7. The fraud of humanitarianism works every time for (and on) American elites.
8. Support for Trump’s Bombing Shows Two Toxic U.S. Conceits: “Do Something” and “Look Strong”
9. Obama’s refusal to bomb Assad hovers over everything.
10. None of this disproves, obviously, that Hillary Clinton was also a dangerous hawk.

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In Light of the GOP’s new Health Care Proposal, it’s Time to Rename the GOP as the “Social Darwinist Party.”

March 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

In light of the GOP’s “solution” to the “problem” of Obamacare, it’s time to simply and clearly declare that the GOP has become (and should be renamed) the “Social Darwinist Party.”

Addressing the cries of the Super Rich (“I want even more money”) is no solution at all to the medical crises many of us face. I realize and recognize the frustration of the GOP that people who are lazy and/or who repeatedly make bad decisions resulting in being poor should not be able to mooch off the rest of us. But what about those who have worked hard and have been laid off by downsizing, and now earn $10/hour? What about people who are doing their best after being raised by dysfunctional families and/or “taught” at dysfunctional schools? Should they really be told that health care is totally out of their reach?

I’m lucky that I am a 60 year old man who can afford to pay the market rate of $900/month for a $6,000 deductible (“Bronze”) health care policy with Anthem for me and my teenage daughter. It was the best deal I could find this year.

But there are good hearted hard-working people who are paid minimum wage, meaning that they gross about $1,500 a month for full time work. After Social Security taxes, if they were to pay $900/month for health insurance (and then all the co-pays and deductible) they would have NOTHING left on which to live. NOTHING.

The GOP solution, I assume, is to have these people (many of whom voted for Trump) begging for health care at hospital doors, with many of them eventually dying in the streets. Is the GOP then going offer block grants to cities to help clean up the bodies of sick and dying people on the sides of streets?

Obamacare was an flawed attempt to balance the many competing interests at play. But it was an attempt. It was far better than the GOP proposal, which is essentially, “If you can’t come up with a LOT more money than minimum wage will pay you, then into society’s scrap heap you go!”

We can do better than Obamacare. We can do a LOT better than the current GOP proposal. It’s time for single payor, a solution used by almost every other industrialized country.

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GOP can’t afford $75B/year to provide public college to everyone, but CAN afford handing $600B tax cuts to top 1%

March 12, 2017 | By | Reply More

When Bernie Sanders proposed that the US spend $75 Billion per year to eliminate tuition to those attending public colleges and universities, the GOP scoffed and said that this money wasn’t available and that Sanders’ plan was irresponsible. For example, see the criticisms by Betsy DeVos, President Trumps’s Head of the Department of Education.

Now we hear that we can make America great again by handing the highest earning taxpayers (mostly the top 1%) a giant?tax cut of $600 Billion stretching into 2026. And that $600 Billion tax cut also buys the horror of throwing tens of millions of Americans into the status of lacking health insurance.

Therefore, we can’t afford $75 Billion per year to give young Americans a college education, but we can afford to threaten the health and lives of tens of millions of Americans in order to hand the 1% $600 Billion in?tax cuts. It’s time to rename the GOP for what it is: The Social Darwinist Party.

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David Frum discusses the era of Trump

February 26, 2017 | By | Reply More

Fascinating conversation: I just listened to a discussion on Donald Trump involving long time conservative David Frum and Sam Harris. What did Trump do that resonated deeply, according to Frum? A) The pain felt by rural America, B) That America’s trade policy is not working well for most Americans, and C) Immigration does impose often invisible economic and cultural costs on many Americans in the bottom 30-40% of Americans.

None of this suggests that Trump should be President. He is massively incompetent and disorganized, and has failed to make appointments. The U.S. has great power to end human life through it’s nuclear arsenal. Trump is erratic and therefore dangerous. It’s like being in a car with a hopelessly drunk driver. Trump is not a strategic visionary. He makes impulsive bad decisions, and digging out of his messes by blaming others. Trump is not Hitler. He is filled with bitterness and rage. His advisors are filled with rage–none of them are fully functioning people. Millions of people filled with rage are delighted to see Trump be rude to the snobs out there. His followers don’t care about detrimental effects to themselves.

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Lee Camp: U.S. Prepares to Attack Iran to Assure Dominance of the U.S. Dollar

February 19, 2017 | By | Reply More

There are many illegitimate reasons for the U.S. to have begun killing people in the Middle East. ?They include bigotry, control of oil and a Middle East country’s resistance to U.S. imperialism. ? Lee Camp offers another reason, the dominance of the U.S. dollar. ?He argues that this factor has been behind the U.S. attacks of Libya and Iraq, and it is the reason the U.S. is now posturing to attack Iran. ?See the first 11 minutes of a recent episode of Lee Camp’s Redacted Tonight.

One might wonder how difficult it would be to drum up a fake excuse to start a war in the U.S. It’s not difficult, once the President decides to go to war behind closed doors. ?This is a time-tested prescription, addressed in the video “War Made Easy.” Chris Hedges discusses the intoxicating attraction of war:

The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble.

Therefore, it’s not going to be difficult for the U.S. to publicly justify a war with Iran, especially given the detached electorate, given the U.S. public’s distaste for all things Muslim and the warmongers President Trump has gathered as his primary advisors.

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The United States is not much of a democracy

December 25, 2016 | By | Reply More

The United States is no much of a Democracy, and it wouldn’t have mattered much going forward had Hillary Clinton become the next president:

[T]here’s the brazen falsehood of the widespread belief that the U.S. is a “great democracy” in the first place, to be subverted by Russia (or anyone else). Over the past three-plus decades, leading academic researchers Martin Gilens (Princeton) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern), both establishment, liberal political scientists, have concluded, the U.S. political system has functioned as “an oligarchy,” ruled by the few wealthy elites and their corporations. Examining data from more than 1,800 different policy initiatives in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Gilens and Page found that wealthy and well-connected elites consistently steer the direction of the country, regardless and against the will of the U.S. majority and irrespective of which major party holds the White House and/or Congress. “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” Gilens and Page write, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” As Gilens explained to the liberal online journal Talking Points Memo two years ago, “ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States.” Such is the harsh reality of “really existing capitalist democracy” in the U.S., what Noam Chomsky has called “RECD”—“pronounced ‘wrecked’ by accident.”

The Inauthentic Opposition

The late Princeton political theorist Sheldon Wolin considered U.S.-style RECD a form of “corporate-managed fake-democracy” and “inverted totalitarianism.” He called it “democracy incorporated.” It’s a “democracy” in which the only two officially viable and corporate-captive political organizations, the Democratic and Republican parties, both stand well to the right of majority progressive-populist public opinion. The right-wing leadership of these two corporate and militarist parties skews the game against those in their party who would campaign and perhaps govern in accord with that public opinion.

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