Not very helpful, but nice.
(What odds are you giving for Hillary Clinton choosing Lloyd Blankfein as Treasury Secretary?)
In the liberal conception of domestic politics, the state is not an actor but a representative institution constantly subject to capture and recapture, construction and reconstruction by coalitions of social actors. Representative institutions and practices constitute the critical "transmission belt" by which the preferences and social power of individuals and groups are translated into state policy. Individuals turn to the state to achieve goals that private behavior is unable to achieve efficiently.9 Government policy is therefore constrained by the underlying identities, interests, and power of individuals and groups (inside and outside the state apparatus) who constantly pressure the central decision makers to pursue policies consistent with their preferences.
This is not to adopt a narrowly pluralist view of domestic politics in which all individuals and groups have equal influence on state policy, nor one in which the structure of state institutions is irrelevant. No government rests on universal or unbiased political representation; every government represents some individuals and groups more fully than others. In an extreme hypothetical case, representation might empower a narrow bureaucratic class or even a single tyrannical individual, such as an ideal-typical Pol Pot or Josef Stalin. Between theoretical extremes of tyranny and democracy, many representative institutions and practices exist, each of which privileges particular demands; hence the nature of state institutions, alongside societal interests themselves, is a key determinant of what states do internationally.
Representation, in the liberal view, is not simply a formal attribute of state institutions but includes other stable characteristics of the political process, formal or informal, that privilege particular societal interests. Clientalistic authoritarian regimes may distinguish those with familial, bureaucratic, or economic ties to the governing elite from those without. Even where government institutions are formally fair and open, a relatively inegalitarian distribution of property, risk, information, or organizational capabilities may create social or economic monopolies able to dominate policy. Similarly, the way in which a state recognizes individual rights may shape opportunities for voice.10 Certain domestic representational processes may tend to select as leaders individuals, groups, and bureaucracies socialized with particular attitudes toward information, risk, and loss.
Moravcsik, A. (1997). Taking preferences seriously: A liberal theory of international politics. International Organization, 51(4), 513-553.
TOTALITARIANISM WITHOUT TERROR
The concept of the administered society is proposed as a way of saying that there can be totalism without terror; it recognizes that the changes in the Soviet Union have been real and vast (after all, totalism without terror is something new); but it insists that, far from developing alternatives to totalism, Soviet society is being subjected to new and more subtle forms of it, and that the Stalinist past is being streamlined rather than rejected.
The case for the administered society is not subject to proof of an absolute kind, for not only is such a concept more or less useful rather than right or wrong, but its application to the affairs of a live society cannot possibly cover all contingencies. It does, however, provide a general framework for depicting the Soviet system under Khrushchev (and probably his successors as well), sensitizing us to interpretations that otherwise might go unnoticed and enabling us to see patterns in apparently unconnected trends.
SOCIAL STRATIFICATION Under Stalin, the differences in income, life-style, and perquisites of the various occupational strata came to be very wide indeed, certainly so in contrast with the Marxist vision of the classless order, also in absolute terms.
The growth of pluralism, or at least of the capacity of a population to erode the monolithism of a social system, seems to depend to a considerable degree upon the opportunities available to various social groupings (especially, perhaps, in the upper ranges of the stratification system) to develop over the generations, without undue manipulation and interference from the outside and with reasonable probabilities of continuity, their own traditions, expectations, and behavior patterns -in short, upon opportunities to develop into subcommunities of interest.
Political Capture and Economic Inequality
178 Oxfam Briefing Paper Summary
Extreme economic inequality is damaging and worrying for many reasons: it is morally questionable; it can have negative impacts on economic growth and poverty reduction; and it can multiply social problems. It compounds other inequalities, such as those between women and men. In many countries, extreme economic inequality is worrying because of the pernicious impact that wealth concentrations can have on equal political representation. When wealth captures government policymaking, the rules bend to favor the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else. The consequences include the erosion of democratic governance, the pulling apart of social cohesion, and the vanishing of equal opportunities for all. Unless bold political solutions are instituted to curb the influence of wealth on politics, governments will work for the interests of the rich, while economic and political inequalities continue to rise. As US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.
Oxfam is concerned that, left unchecked, the effects are potentially immutable, and will lead to opportunity capture in which the lowest tax rates, the best education, and the best healthcare are claimed by the children of the rich. This creates dynamic and mutually reinforcing cycles of advantage that are transmitted across generations.
Given the scale of rising wealth concentrations, opportunity capture and unequal political representation are a serious and worrying trend. For instance:
Almost half of the worlds wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.2
The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. Thats 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the worlds population.3
The bottom half of the worlds population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.4
Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.5
The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.6
In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.7
Oxfams polling from across the world captures the belief of many that laws and regulations are now designed to benefit the rich. A survey in six countries (Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK and the US) showed that a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich in Spain eight out of 10 people agreed with this statement. Another recent Oxfam poll of low-wage earners in the US reveals that 65 percent believe that Congress passes laws that predominantly benefit the wealthy.
The aftermaths of the Great Recession and the Great Depression produced sharply different changes in U.S. incomes that tell us a lot about tax and economic policy.
The 1934 economic rebound was widely shared, with strong income gains for the vast majority, the bottom 90 percent.
In 2010, we saw the opposite as the vast majority lost ground.
National income gained overall in 2010, but all of the gains were among the top 10 percent. Even within those 15.6 million households, the gains were extraordinarily concentrated among the super-rich, the top one percent of the top one percent.
Just 15,600 super-rich households pocketed an astonishing 37 percent of the entire national gain.
The different results in 1934 and 2010 show how a major shift in federal policy hurts the vast majority and benefits the super-rich.
The NSA gathered info on Democratic politicians that it would turn over to the FBI and US Attorneys, resulting in investigations and prosecutions, operating under "parallel construction," which would occur during close elections.
On March 6, 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft issued a memorandum regarding new procedures to apply to foreign intelligence (FI) and foreign counterintelligence (FCI) investigations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It proposed significant changes to FISA and allowed overlapping between intelligence officers and law enforcement officers:
Prior to the USA Patriot Act, FISA could be used only for the "primary purpose" of obtaining "foreign intelligence information." The term "foreign intelligence information" was and is defined to include information that is necessary, or relevant, to the ability of the United States to protect against foreign threats to national security, such as attack, sabotage, terrorism, or clandestine intelligence activities. See 50 U.S.C. § 1801(e)(1). Under the primary purpose standard, the government could have a significant law enforcement purpose for using FISA, but only if it was subordinate to a primary foreign intelligence purpose. The USA Patriot Act allows FISA to be used for "a significant purpose," rather than the primary purpose, of obtaining foreign intelligence information. Thus, it allows FISA to be used primarily for a law enforcement purpose, as long as a significant foreign intelligence purpose remains. See 50 U.S.C. §§ 1804(a)(7)(B), 1823(a)(7)(B).
The Act also expressly authorizes intelligence officers who are using FISA to "consult" with federal law enforcement officers to "coordinate efforts to investigate or protect against" foreign threats to national security. Under this authority, intelligence and law enforcement officers may exchange a full range of information and advice concerning such efforts in FI or FCI investigations, including information and advice designed to preserve or enhance the possibility of a criminal prosecution. The USA Patriot Act provides that such consultation between intelligence and law enforcement officers "shall not" preclude the government's certification of a significant foreign intelligence purpose or the issuance of a FISA warrant. See 50 U.S.C. §§ 1806(k), 1825(k).
These procedures were changed or rejected by the FISA court and its opinion was publicly released in August 2002.
The insertion of this new clause into the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act went unnoticed. Senators were at a loss to explain how the clause made its way into the bill. It was later determined that the Justice Department had requested Brett Tolman to insert the clause into the bill (Kiel, 2007). At the time the clause was inserted Mr. Tolman was a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which is Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is a member. Sen. Specter responded to inquiries about his involvement with the clause by saying, I do not slip things in (Kiel, 2007, p. 1). According to Sen. Specter, the principal reason for the change was to resolve separation of power issues (Kiel, 2007, p. 2). The Senate voted to repeal the clause in February 2007 (P.L. 110-34, 2007). At the time of this writing, Mr. Tolman is a U.S. Attorney for the state of Utah.
A report from Professors Emeritus Donald C. Shields and John F. Cragan of the University of Missouri and Illinois State University respectively, shows that of 375 elected officials investigated and/or indicted, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. U.S. Attorneys across the nation investigate seven times as many Democratic officials as they investigate Republican officials, a number that exceeds even the racial profiling of African Americans in traffic stops (Shields & Cragan, 2007, p. 1).
In interviews, at least a dozen current or former agents said they used parallel construction, often by pretending that an investigation began with what appeared to be a routine traffic stop, when the true origin was actually a tip from SOD.
Defense lawyers said that by hiding the existence of the information, the government is violating a defendants constitutional right to view potentially exculpatory evidence that suggests witness bias, entrapment or innocence.
It certainly cant be that the agents can make up a parallel construction, a made-up tale, in court documents, testimony before the grand jury or a judge, without disclosure to a court, said Jim Wyda, the federal public defender in Maryland, in an email.
This is going to result in a lot of litigation, for a long time.
The government calls the practice "parallel construction," but deciphering their double speak, the practice should really be known as "intelligence laundering." This deception and dishonesty raises a host of serious legal problems.
Taken together, the Fifth and Sixth Amendments guarantee a criminal defendant a meaningful opportunity to present a defense and challenge the government's case. But this intelligence laundering deprives defendants of these important constitutional protections. It makes it harder for prosecutors to comply with their ethical obligation under Brady v. Maryland to disclose any exculpatory or favorable evidence to the defensean obligation that extends to disclosing evidence bearing on the reliability of a government witness. Hiding the source of information used by the government to initiate an investigation or make an arrest means defendants are deprived of the opportunity to challenge the accuracy or veracity of the government's investigation, let alone seek out favorable evidence in the government's possession.
The third major legal problem is that the practice suggests DEA agents are misleading the courts. Wiretaps, search warrants, and other forms of surveillance authorizations require law enforcement to go to a judge and lay out the facts that support the request. The court's function is to scrutinize the facts to determine the appropriate legal standard has been met based on truthful, reliable evidence. So, for example, if the government is using evidence gathered from an informant to support its request for a search warrant, it has to establish to the court that the informant is reliable and trustworthy so that the court can be convinced there is probable cause to support the search. But when law enforcement omits integral factslike the source of a tip used to make an arrestthe court is deprived of the opportunity to fulfill its traditional role and searches are signed off without the full knowledge of the court.
On the other hand, this is a genuinely sinister turn of events with a whiff of science-fiction nightmare, one that has sounded loud alarm bells for many people in the mainstream legal world. Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law professor who spent 18 years as a federal judge and cannot be accused of being a radical, told Reuters she finds the DEA story more troubling than anything in Edward Snowdens NSA leaks. Its the first clear evidence that the special rules and disregard for constitutional law that have characterized the hunt for so-called terrorists have crept into the domestic criminal justice system on a significant scale. It sounds like they are phonying up investigations, she said. Maybe this is how a police state comes to America: Not with a bang, but with a parallel construction.
The NSA operates under the purview of the Department of Defense. The current Secretary of Defense is former Republican Senator, Chuck Hagel. What does Hagel have to do with a coup? He was one of the authors of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), the law that brought unverifiable electronic voting machines using secret, proprietary software. Hagel also has business and financial ties with ES&S.
While Diebold has received the most attention, it actually isn't the biggest maker of computerized election machines. That honor goes to Omaha-based ES&S, and its Republican roots may be even stronger than Diebold's.
The firm, which is privately held, began as a company called Data Mark, which was founded in the early 1980s by Bob and Todd Urosevich. In 1984, brothers William and Robert Ahmanson bought a 68 percent stake in Data Mark, and changed the company's name to American Information Services (AIS). Then, in 1987, McCarthy & Co, an Omaha investment group, acquired a minority share in AIS.
In 1992, investment banker Chuck Hagel, president of McCarthy & Co, became chairman of AIS. Hagel, who had been touted as a possible Senate candidate in 1993, was again on the list of likely GOP contenders heading into the 1996 contest. In January of 1995, while still chairman of ES&S, Hagel told the Omaha World-Herald that he would likely make a decision by mid-March of 1995. On March 15, according to a letter provided by Hagel's Senate staff, he resigned from the AIS board, noting that he intended to announce his candidacy. A few days later, he did just that.
A little less than eight months after steppind down as director of AIS, Hagel surprised national pundits and defied early polls by defeating Benjamin Nelson, the state's popular former governor. It was Hagel's first try for public office. Nebraska elections officials told The Hill that machines made by AIS probably tallied 85 percent of the votes cast in the 1996 vote, although Nelson never drew attention to the connection. Hagel won again in 2002, by a far healthier margin. That vote is still angrily disputed by Hagel's Democratic opponent, Charlie Matulka, who did try to make Hagel's ties to ES&S an issue in the race and who asked that state elections officials conduct a hand recount of the vote. That request was rebuffed, because Hagel's margin of victory was so large.
As might be expected, Hagel has been generously supported by his investment partners at McCarthy & Co. -- since he first ran, Hagel has received about $15,000 in campaign contributions from McCarthy & Co. executives. And Hagel still owns more than $1 million in stock in McCarthy & Co., which still owns a quarter of ES&S.
The other authors of HAVA are former Republican congressman, Bob Ney,
Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) pleaded guilty yesterday to corruption charges arising from the influence-peddling investigation of lobbyist Jack Abramoff, becoming the first elected official to fall in a scandal that may damage his party's chances in next month's elections.
Ney, 52, emerged from a month of alcoholism treatment to appear in federal court in Washington, where he admitted performing official acts for lobbyists in exchange for campaign contributions, expensive meals, luxury travel and skybox sports tickets. Ney also admitted taking thousands of dollars in gambling chips from an international businessman who sought his help with the State Department.
Ney made no statement to the court, but afterward he issued a written statement saying he was "ashamed" that his long career in public service has ended this way.
"I never acted to enrich myself or get things I shouldn't, but over time, I allowed myself to get too comfortable with the way things have been done in Washington D.C. for too long," Ney said. "I accepted things I shouldn't have with the result that Jack Abramoff used my name to advance his own secret schemes of fraud and theft in way I could never have imagined."
former Democratic Senator, Chris "Friend of Angelo" Dodd, who ran for President (and did worse than Kucinich),
The Portfolio investigation alleges that favorable loans also were extended to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.); President Bush's former housing secretary, Alphonso Jackson; former United Nations ambassador Richard Holbrooke; and former Health and Human Services secretary Donna E. Shalala.
Holbrooke, Shalala and Jackson did not return phone calls seeking comment. But Conrad and Dodd, both of whom have committee jurisdictions that affect Countrywide, yesterday dismissed the notion that they received favorable deals, and they said they did not know that the FOA loan category existed.
"As a United States senator, I would never ask or expect to be treated differently than anyone else refinancing their home," Dodd said in a statement.
Dodd borrowed $506,000 at 4.25 percent to refinance his Washington townhouse and $275,042 at 4.5 percent to refinance a home in East Haddam, Conn., according to Portfolio. Quoting internal documents, the magazine said Countrywide waived three-eighths of a point, or about $2,000, on the first loan and a quarter of a point, or $700, on the second.
(Dodd is now a lobbyist for Hollywood and is lobbying for laws that allow censorship of the Internet.)
One of the worst kept secrets in DC and Hollywood over the last month or so is the news that former Connecticut Senator and failed Presidential candidate Chris Dodd is set to become the MPAA's new boss (salary: $1.2 million per year). This came after a failed attempt to get former Senator (and failed presidential candidate) Bob Kerrey to take the role last year.
Assuming Dodd takes the role, he's already proving himself to be perfect for a Hollywood job, because it makes him a blatant liar. Last summer, Dodd insisted that he would not become a lobbyist. He made this abundantly clear. When asked what he would do, he was explicit: "No lobbying, no lobbying." Yeah, apparently a million dollar plus salary makes you a liar barely a month after leaving the job. Of course, technically, Dodd is also barred from becoming a lobbyist for two years after leaving the Senate, but there's a kind of *wink, wink, nudge, nudge* trick that Dodd and others use to technically claim they're not lobbyists while merely running one of the bigger and most high profile lobbying organizations around.
Of course, it'll also be interesting to see if Dodd sells his soul and changes some of his professed principles. For example, he was a big supporter of "net neutrality." But the MPAA has come out against net neutrality, claiming it would hamper its efforts to "fight piracy." He was also against ISP data retention, which the MPAA has supported (again as a way to fight piracy). On copyright he was somewhat non-committal, but did talk about how fair use rights are important. I imagine that will disappear once he takes the role formerly filled by Jack Valenti -- the man who once declared that fair use doesn't exist.
and former Republican Representative and House Majority Whip, Tom "Dancing with the Stars" DeLay. DeLay, who had been under indictment for five years and was convicted in 2010 for conspiracy and money laundering to get Republicans elected, recently had his conviction overturned, all without spending a single day in prison.
A Texas Court of Appeals overturned former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R-TX) conviction of money laundering on Thursday, finding the trial court's decision "legally insufficient to sustain DeLays convictions," KHOU reported.
A court convicted and sentenced DeLay to three years in prison in 2010 for allegedly scheming to improperly influence Texas elections by helping to illegally steer corporate money to candidates in 2002. DeLay has since been waging a lenghty appeals process, and was acquitted Thursday.
Read the appeals court opinion here.
Sounds like a successful coup to me.