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Two Party System as polyarchy

News Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few Recommended Books Recommended Links Neoliberalism Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" The Deep State The Iron Law of Oligarchy
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Predator state American Exceptionalism Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Nation under attack meme Big Uncle is Watching You Pluralism as a myth
Principal-agent problem Corporatist Corruption Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Myth about intelligent voter Harvard Mafia Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism Corporatism National Security State
Libertarian Philosophy US Presidential Elections of 2016 US Presidential Elections of 2012 Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc
"There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man."

-- Gore Vidal

“The Democrats are the foxes, and the Republicans are the wolves – and they both want to devour you.” So what does that make Libertarians? Avian flu viruses?”

-- Leonard Pinkney

The race is no contest when you own both horses. That is why no matter which political party is in power nothing really changes other than the packaging. The puppets who drink at the champagne fountains of the powerful do the bidding of their masters. The people are superfluous to the process.

-- Daniel Estulin


Introduction

Two party system invented by elite of Great Britain proved to be perfect for inverted totalitarism type of regimes, including the US neoliberalism.  Conversion of system of governance to "deep state" essentially make elections optional, but they still continue to exist in an emasculated "two parties system" form.

The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. In British author John le Carré’s latest novel, A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as

“… the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.” 

The term means an association of elements of government. security services, parts of top-level figures of financial oligarchy and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.

In other words this is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving such organization of Executive brach, President, congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reigh, the USSR, Turkey, China and many other countries.

Two party system is a very elegant trick that conceals and project a single party of oligarchy as two distinct parties and distract voters from any serious issues with meaningless cat fight between two during elections. In Lifting the Veil they mention one of the meaning of the term polyarchy is the system where voters are limited to voting between two pre-selected representatives of the oligarchy:

polyarchy: A system where the participation of masses of people is limited to voting among one or another representatives of the elite in periodic elections. Between elections the masses are now expected to keep quiet, to go back to life as usual while the elite make decisions and run the world until they can choose between one or another elite another four years later.

So polyarchy is a system of elite rule, and a system of elite rule that is little bit more soft-core than the elite rule that we would see under a military dictatorship. But what we see is that under a polyarchy the basic socio-economic system does not change, it does not become democratized.

▬William I. Robinson, Behind the Veil, Minute 1:29:15

That is the essence of two party system as implemented in the USA, Great Britain, Canada and several other countries. When, in the 1940s, Joseph Schumpeter argued that ordinary citizens should limit their participation in a democracy to electing its leaders, he was effectively arguing for polyarchy. Here is how Wikipedia defined the term (polyarchy):

In a discussion of contemporary British foreign policy, Mark Curtis stated that "polyarchy is generally what British leaders mean when they speak of promoting 'democracy' abroad.

This is a system in which a small group actually rules and mass participation is confined to choosing leaders in elections managed by competing elites." [8]

The whole idea (the rotation of the pre-selected representative of elite at the top) is somewhat similar to an intro marketing course on how to sell bogus products to gullible consumers forcing them to make adverse selection.

There is also related issue of information asymmetry between voters and elite (represented by Party functionaries). In reality, Democratic Party in not a separate party, but an integral part of the two prong bait-and-switch system with a special function of preventing meaningful reform. In other words in two party system both parties are essentially are two branches of a single party, the party of oligarchy.

But each branch in two party system (let's call them for simplicity Democrats and Republican parties as in the USA) has it's own "hidden" political function.

If the selection of candidates is performed strictly by the party machine (and according to the The Iron Law of Oligarchy, the party machine has innate tendency to self-organize into oligarchy), then subsequent elections is a pure formality, much like in the USSR. Or, more precisely, a political farce because the real voters are limited to top 1% who decide what candidates are selected within each party political machine (or, more correctly, the top 0.01%). In no way elections can be called democratic is public is completely disenfranchised in selection of the candidate. In this sense calling the US election democratic is pure hypocrisy of the ruling elite, who controls the MSM, and by extension the political discourse. This is a perfect trap, out of which there is no escape.

"Surface state" vs "deep state"

The USA political system does not have a single government. It actually has two distinct governments. They are called "surface state" or Madisonians and "deep state" or Trumanites (national security establishment in alliance with selected members of financial oligarchy, media owners and technocrats). It was Truman who signed National Security Act of 1947  which created major three letter agencies (CIA, DOD, FBI and NSA).

Simplifying the complex relation between those two US governments (sometimes Madisonians fight back and have Trumanites to make a temporary retreat) we can say that:

Conversion of system of governance to "deep state" which happened in the USA almost immediately after 1947 essentially made elections optional, but they still continue to exist as a ceremonial function for the sake of providing the legitimacy in an emasculated "two parties system" form.  While relationship is more complex then simple dominance, in essence "deep state" is the tail that wag the dog. And JFK assassination meant first of all the triumph of "deep state" over "surface state". In this sense 9/11 was just the last nail in the coffin of democracy.

The term “Deep State” was coined in Turkey (and actually Wikipedia discusses only it) but it is widespread modern phenomenon which can also be found in most other states. The term means a shadow alliance of elements of government. security services, selected top-level figures of financial oligarchy, media and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process. As any elite dominance project it is deeply anti-democratic although it uses fig leaf of democracy for foreign expansion via color revolutions and wars. 

Like in Third Reich this dominance is supported by relentless propaganda and brainwashing with mechanisms polished since Reagan to perfection. There is now no problem to create an "enemy of the people" when the elite wants and it does not matter which country or individual is selected as an enemy. The essence of elite politics in this area was best formulated by Hermann Goering, President of the Reichstag, Nazi Party, and Luftwaffe Commander in Chief

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

In other words this is a hidden set of political actors and powerful institutions that are concealed within the wider, “visible” state which, essentially, took over the functions of traditional state, leaving such organization of Executive branch, President, congress and courts mainly ceremonial role. Such transformation is well explained by the The Iron Law of Oligarchy and in various forms happened in Third Reich, the USSR, Turkey, China and many other countries.

Here is how The American Conservative covers this topic:

Steve Sailer links to this unsettling essay by former career Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren, who says the “deep state” — the Washington-Wall-Street-Silicon-Valley Establishment — is a far greater threat to liberty than you think. The partisan rancor and gridlock in Washington conceals a more fundamental and pervasive agreement.

Excerpts:

These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi’s regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country’s intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.
 

More:

Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.” This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice — certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee. [3]

The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus’ expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at theBelfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy.

Lofgren goes on to say that Silicon Valley is a node of the Deep State too, and that despite the protestations of its chieftains against NSA spying, it’s a vital part of the Deep State’s apparatus. More:

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.”

Read the whole thing.  Steve Sailer says that the Shallow State is a complement to the Deep State. The Shallow State is, I think, another name for what the Neoreactionaries call “The Cathedral,” defined thus:

The Cathedral — The self-organizing consensus of Progressives and Progressive ideology represented by the universities, the media, and the civil service. A term coined by blogger Mencius Moldbug. The Cathedral has no central administrator, but represents a consensus acting as a coherent group that condemns other ideologies as evil. Community writers have enumerated the platform of Progressivism as women’s suffrage, prohibition, abolition, federal income tax, democratic election of senators, labor laws, desegregation, popularization of drugs, destruction of traditional sexual norms, ethnic studies courses in colleges, decolonization, and gay marriage. A defining feature of Progressivism is that “you believe that morality has been essentially solved, and all that’s left is to work out the details.” Reactionaries see Republicans as Progressives, just lagging 10-20 years behind Democrats in their adoption of Progressive norms.

You don’t have to agree with the Neoreactionaries on what they condemn — women’s suffrage? desegregation? labor laws? really?? — to acknowledge that they’re onto something about the sacred consensus that all Right-Thinking People share. I would love to see a study comparing the press coverage from 9/11 leading up to the Iraq War with press coverage of the gay marriage issue from about 2006 till today. Specifically, I’d be curious to know about how thoroughly the media covered the cases against the policies that the Deep State and the Shallow State decided should prevail. I’m not suggesting a conspiracy here, not at all. I’m only thinking back to how it seemed so obvious to me in 2002 that we should go to war with Iraq, so perfectly clear that the only people who opposed it were fools or villains. The same consensus has emerged around same-sex marriage. I know how overwhelmingly the news media have believed this for some time, such that many American journalists simply cannot conceive that anyone against same-sex marriage is anything other than a fool or a villain. Again, this isn’t a conspiracy; it’s in the nature of the thing. Lofgren:

Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist Irving L. Janis called “groupthink,” the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town’s cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it’s 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one’s consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: “You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?” No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one’s surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn’t know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.

When all you know is the people who surround you in your professional class bubble and your social circles, you can think the whole world agrees with you, or should. It’s probably not a coincidence that the American media elite live, work, and socialize in New York and Washington, the two cities that were attacked on 9/11, and whose elites — political, military, financial — were so genuinely traumatized by the events.

Anyway, that’s just a small part of it, about how the elite media manufacture consent. Here’s a final quote, one from the Moyers interview with Lofgren:

BILL MOYERS: If, as you write, the ideology of the Deep State is not democrat or republican, not left or right, what is it?

MIKE LOFGREN: It’s an ideology. I just don’t think we’ve named it. It’s a kind of corporatism. Now, the actors in this drama tend to steer clear of social issues. They pretend to be merrily neutral servants of the state, giving the best advice possible on national security or financial matters. But they hold a very deep ideology of the Washington consensus at home, which is deregulation, outsourcing, de-industrialization and financialization. And they believe in American exceptionalism abroad, which is boots on the ground everywhere, it’s our right to meddle everywhere in the world. And the result of that is perpetual war.

This can’t last. We’d better hope it can’t last. And we’d better hope it unwinds peacefully.

I, for one, remain glad that so many of us Americans are armed. When the Deep State collapses — and it will one day — it’s not going to be a happy time.

Questions to the room: Is a Gorbachev for the Deep State conceivable? That is, could you foresee a political leader emerging who could unwind the ideology and apparatus of the Deep State, and not only survive, but succeed? Or is it impossible for the Deep State to allow such a figure to thrive? Or is the Deep State, like the Soviet system Gorbachev failed to reform, too entrenched and too far gone to reform itself? If so, what then?

The second important thinker in this area is  Professor Michael J. Glennon who wrote the book  “National Security and Double Government.”

Here is how Amazon reviewer Mal Warwick summarized the book in his review written on December 22, 2014

Who makes national security decisions? Not who you think!

Why does Barack Obama's performance on national security issues in the White House contrast so strongly with his announced intentions as a candidate in 2008? After all, not only has Obama continued most of the Bush policies he decried when he ran for the presidency, he has doubled down on government surveillance, drone strikes, and other critical programs.

Michael J. Glennon set out to answer this question in his unsettling new book, National Security and Double Government. And he clearly dislikes what he found.

The answer, Glennon discovered, is that the US government is divided between the three official branches of the government, on the one hand — the "Madisonian" institutions incorporated into the Constitution — and the several hundred unelected officials who do the real work of a constellation of military and intelligence agencies, on the other hand. These officials, called "Trumanites" in Glennon's parlance for having grown out of the national security infrastructure established under Harry Truman, make the real decisions in the area of national security. (To wage the Cold War, Truman created the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Department of Defense, the CIA, the NSA, and the National Security Council.) "The United States has, in short," Glennon writes, "moved beyond a mere imperial presidency to a bifurcated system — a structure of double government — in which even the President now exercises little substantive control over the overall direction of U.S. national security policy. . . . The perception of threat, crisis, and emergency has been the seminal phenomenon that has created and nurtures America's double government." If Al Qaeda hadn't existed, the Trumanite network would have had to create it — and, Glennon seems to imply, might well have done so.

The Trumanites wield their power with practiced efficiency, using secrecy, exaggerated threats, peer pressure to conform, and the ability to mask the identity of the key decision-maker as their principal tools.

Michael J. Glennon comes to this task with unexcelled credentials. A professor of international law at Tufts and former legal counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee, he came face to face on a daily basis with the "Trumanites" he writes about. National Security and Double Government is exhaustively researched and documented: notes constitute two-thirds of this deeply disturbing little book.

The more I learn about how politics and government actually work — and I've learned a fair amount in my 73 years — the more pessimistic I become about the prospects for democracy in America. In some ways, this book is the most worrisome I've read over the years, because it implies that there is no reason whatsoever to think that things can ever get better. In other words, to borrow a phrase from the Borg on Star Trek, "resistance is futile." That's a helluva takeaway, isn't it?

On reflection, what comes most vividly to mind is a comment from the late Chalmers Johnson on a conference call in which I participated several years ago. Johnson, formerly a consultant to the CIA and a professor at two campuses of the University of California (Berkeley and later San Diego), was the author of many books, including three that awakened me to many of the issues Michael Glennon examines: Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis. Johnson, who was then nearly 80 and in declining health, was asked by a student what he would recommend for young Americans who want to combat the menace of the military-industrial complex. "Move to Vancouver," he said.

Here is how Christopher Bellavita in Homeland Security Watch summarize an interesting discussion at Cato think tank which I highly recommend to watch:

Why has American national security policy changed so little from the Bush administration to the Obama

That’s the question Michael J. Glennon asks in his book “National Security and Double Government.”

His answer: national security policy is determined largely by “the several hundred managers of the military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law enforcement agencies who are responsible for protecting the nation and who have come to operate largely immune from constitutional and electoral restraints.” The president, congress and the courts play largely a symbolic role in national security policy, Glennon claims.

You can read a Harvard National Security Journal article that outlines Glennon’s argument at this link: http://harvardnsj.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Glennon-Final.pdf.  The paper is not an especially easy read, but I found it to be well researched and – for  me – persuasive.

His book adds more analysis to the argument, using (from Graham Allison’s Essence of Decision) the rational actor model, the government politics model, and the organizational behavior model. Glennon extends that framework by discussing culture, networks, and the myth of alternative competing hypotheses.  The book is richer, in my opinion.  But the core of Glennon’s position is in the paper.

This link takes you to a video of Glennon talking about his book at the Cato Institute: http://www.cato.org/events/national-security-double-government (the talk starts at the 5:20 mark).

From the Cato site:

In National Security and Double Government, Michael Glennon examines the continuity in U.S. national security policy from the Bush administration to the Obama administration. Glennon explains the lack of change by pointing to the enervation of America’s “Madisonian institutions,” namely, the Congress, the presidency, and the courts. In Glennon’s view, these institutions have been supplanted by a “Trumanite network” of bureaucrats who make up the permanent national security state. National security policymaking has been removed from public view and largely insulated from law and politics. Glennon warns that leaving security policy in the hands of the Trumanite network threatens Americans’ liberties and the republican form of government.

Some blurb reviews:

“If constitutional government is to endure in the United States, Americans must confront the fundamental challenges presented by this chilling analysis of the national security state.”
Bruce Ackerman

“Glennon shows how the underlying national security bureaucracy in Washington – what might be called the deep state – ensures that presidents and their successors act on the world stage like Tweedledee and Tweedledum.”
John J. Mearsheimer

“National Security and Double Government is brilliant, deep, sad, and vastly learned across multiple fields–a work of Weberian power and stature. It deserves to be read and discussed. The book raises philosophical questions in the public sphere in a way not seen at least since Fukuyama’s end of history.”
David A. Westbrook

“In our faux democracy, those we elect to govern serve largely ornamental purposes, while those who actually wield power, especially in the realm of national security, do so chiefly with an eye toward preserving their status and prerogatives. Read this incisive and richly documented book, and you’ll understand why.”
Andrew J. Bacevich

“…Michael Glennon provides a compelling argument that America’s national security policy is growing outside the bounds of existing government institutions. This is at once a constitutional challenge, but is also a case study in how national security can change government institutions, create new ones, and, in effect, stand-up a parallel state….”
Vali Nasr

“Instead of being responsive to citizens or subject to effective checks and balances, U.S. national security policy is in fact conducted by a shadow government of bureaucrats and a supporting network of think tanks, media insiders, and ambitious policy wonks. Presidents may come and go, but the permanent national security establishment inevitably defeats their efforts to chart a new course….”
Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer

I’ve spoken to three people I consider to be members of the “shadow national security state.”   One person said Glennon’s argument is nothing new.  The second told me he’s got it exactly right.  The third said it’s even worse.

You are irrelevant: Instead of Trump's "you are fired", party apparatchiks create the situation in which regular members are really irrelevant

In this sense "regular" voters are irrelevant and play role of extras in the game of the elite (which might include power struggle between various factions). They will always face an adverse selection between between bad for their interests candidate and even worse, often disastrous candidate.

For example, between Obama (who in reality is closer to Bush III then many people think) and close to the Tea Party candidate. The choice is clear and wrong as neither candidate represents interests of the voters. So majority of "regular" voters is automatically disenfranchised by party machine in a very fundamental way. Exectly like in should be according to the The Iron Law of Oligarchy

Moreover, in this situation the vote for any third candidate automatically became a vote for Tea Party (remembers the role supporters of Ralph Nader played in the election if Bush II in Florida). So electorate is in not only held hostage by two (pre-selected by oligarchy) candidates and is allowed only to chose between them. They are royally punished for disobedience.

Again, the classic example of this mechanism in action was the role of Nader in Gore vs. Bush election. This is the key mechanism of “managed democracy” or, as it is also called, the “inverted totalitarianism”.

All mechanisms discussed about that "winner takes all" election system profoundly and fundamentally is nothing but a subtle and elegant way of enforcement of the rule of oligarchy in the form of polyarchy, with the only difference from military dictatorship (which represents the extreme form of the elite rule) that there is no dictator for life. But it's the same iron fist (in a velvet glove). Which is a definite improvement over military dictatorship, but this is not that big an improvement. You are still tightly controlled, but instead of brute force financial or other indirect methods are used. It is not an improvement even in comparison with Soviet Politburo election of the General Secretary of CPSU, although it definitely more entertaining and has better PR potential.

i would like to stress that in a very deep sense, so called "government by the people" in case of two party system is not that different than heredity monarchal or autocratic rule, or, for a change, rule of the Soviet Politburo. This also means that Constitution became just a peace fo paper, document which is optional and redundant for ruling elite as George Bush aptly demonstrated.

Constitutional provisions can't be controlled in any meaningful way if rulers are completely detached from the voters. So voters and their interests can be abused in whatever way oligarchy wishes. To lessen the pain they can be distracted by throwing them like a bone for the dog artificial issues like homosexual marriage and deciding key economic and political issues in private. Selection of the agenda is the privilege of ruling class and always was.

Ordinary people had no say then or now. and with two part system this is by design. According to John Jay, America’s first Supreme Court chief justice, the nation should be governed by people who owned it.

Illusion of democracy

The simple plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system also called winner-takes-all or first-past-the-post. The latter term is an analogy to horse racing, where the winner of the race is the first to pass a particular point (the "post") on the track, after which all other runners automatically lose.

Elections in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada belong to this category. In this type of voting there is no requirement that the winner gain an absolute majority of votes. And as we demonstrated above such system automatically means the rule of oligarchy. On the current stage of development of the USA political system this is financial oligarchy because the social system that exists in the USA now is neoliberalism. The latter automatically makes the whole social system prone to deep and devastating crises. And that increases demand for guard labor and militarization of police. In a very fundamental way rulers are much more afraid of proles in neoliberal regime then under New Deal regime.

Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that any plurality voting system elections naturally impose a two-party system That means that single-winner voting system essentially hand all the power to the elite as it is elite that controls the electability of candidates from both parties. The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s.

In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a "law" or principle. Duverger's law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: only a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster to foster smaller parties development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

only a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster smaller parties development while a plurality system marginalizes smaller political parties, resulting in what is known as a two-party system.

At the same time, a two party system provides a pretty realistic illusion of democracy and is actually remarkably effective both in enforcing the rule of oligarchy and preserving this illusion. A perfect system for a small group to rule, as all “mass participation” is confined to choosing between two preselected by party brass candidates. In other word elections are just a puppet show controlled by oligarchy much like elections controlled by party nomenklatura of the USSR when only a single candidate existed, but still elections were called and votes were counted. Actually the fact that they did not adopt a two party system this is a testament of the ideological rigidity of the USSR nomenklatura, as such a system is perfectly compatible with a totalitarian society and is essence is a small, insignificant (but very elegant and deceptive) variation of the one party rule.

In addition “Winner takes all” system automatically, by design, co-opts small parties into either Democratic Party or Republican Party camp, before they can get any level of maturity. That means that, unfortunately, within the “winner takes all” framework emergence of third party is temporal as they are quickly co-opted into one of two wings of the establishment party. The latter can well be "the War Party" as jingoism is the credo of both Democrats and Republicans, and in many cases it is difficult to understand who is more jingoistic.

A two party system as a mediator between conflicting interests of factions of the elite

In Golden Rule Thomas Ferguson argues the US two party system functions as a mediator between conflicting business interests. Between two parts of the ruling elite.

Rodolfo Lazo de la Vega

Democracy, Capitalism & the State, December 27, 2010

This review is from: Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems (American Politics and Political Economy Series) (Paperback)

The central foundational principle of the capitalist nation-state is that it is a reflection of its economic constituencies. Those who own and control the means of production shape the state in the form that they desire. This truism - that money runs politics - is the central argument of Thomas Ferguson's "Golden Rule." He begins by asking what are political parties? They are organizations composed of blocs of major investors who come together to advance favored candidates in order to control the state. They do this through direct cash contributions and by providing organizational support through the making available of sources of contacts, fundraisers and institutional legitimation. Candidates are invested in like stocks. For them electoral success is dependent on establishing the broadest base of elite support. Candidates whom have best *internalized* investor values see their "portfolios" grow exponentially at the expense of candidates who have not internalized these values. So what you have is a filtering system in which only the most indoctrinated and business friendly of the intellectual class advance to state power. The higher you go up the ladder the more you've appealed to elite interests. Representatives of the major investors are also often chosen to fill political appointments after a favored candidate has achieved office. This political-economic model helps explain why the state largely functions to serve elite business interests on the domestic and international stages.

Of course, corporate interests vary and evolve. Capital-intensive corporations tend to invest in Democratic politicians. Labor-intensive corporations tend to invest in Republicans. That's because capital-intensive corporations can afford to sit in a party which also represent organized labor. The AFL-CIO rarely poses a threat to Wall Street; and vice-versa. So what would we expect from a system like this? One thing we would expect is that on issues which the public cares about but on which there is cross-party investor agreement no party competition will take place. That means that the issues the public is most interested in will not appear on the agenda. The polls have been pretty consistent on this point. Major public interest revolves around issues having to do with trade agreements, in favor of a single-payer health care system, increased spending for education, slashing the Pentagon budget and many other issues. At times the population has been able to organize successfully and force popular issues onto the agenda despite business opposition.

Ferguson details how the growth, development and fall of major industries correspond to the growth, development, and fall of their political parties. He examines the rise and fall of five major investment bloc party systems - the Federalist vs. Jeffersonian, the Jacksonian, the Civil War party system, the system of 1896 and the New Deal. The latter is dealt with in much detail.

The book, while highly informative, is not without its flaws. Ferguson's prose is obtuse and very, very dry. The charts are helpful but the ideas could have been presented in a more compact form. Regardless of these reservations, this book is very important for an understanding of how our political system functions and deserves a large audience, discussion and action.

One of early proponents of "elite [dominance] theory" James Burnham in his book, The Machiavellians, argued and developed his theory that the emerging new élite would better serve its own interests if it retained some democratic trappings — two party system, illusion of "free press" and a controlled "circulation of the elites."

Notes on Republican Party

As Anatol Leiven noted:

...the Republican Party is really like an old style European nationalist party. Broadly serving the interests of the moneyed elite but spouting a form of populist gobbledygook, which paints America as being in a life and death, struggle with anti-American forces at home and abroad.

It is the reason for Anne Coulter, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. That is the rhetoric of struggle acts as a cover for political policies that benefit a few and lay the blame for the problems of ordinary Americans on fictitious entities.

The main side effects of the nationalism are the current policies which shackles America to Israel uncritically despite what that country might and how its actions may isolate America from the rest of the world. It also justifies America on foreign policy adventures such as the invasion of Iraq.

In terms of the two-party system, Republicans are avid, pitiless, intolerant, unbending, predatory, anti-democratic, iron-willed ideologues who’ve sold out to big business while courting big religion. Democrats ape them, thus creating a one-party climate that fulfills the wishes of corporate "citizens" and transnational elite (becoming this way just another neoliberal party), systematically neglecting the needs of the middle class (lower classes never have any meaningful political representation, so nothing changed for them). That combination produces an apathetic electorate which completely lost hope in the political process. This is the essence of "inverted totalitarism".

Note on Democratic Party

Democratic Party after Clinton became Republican Party light, the party of Wall Street, that has nothing to do with labor movement, which previously was its base. The reasoning is that labor is nowhere to go in any case, so it is safe for democratic establishment to serve financial oligarchy.

The current democratic president would be viewed as a moderate republican just 30-50 years ago, as politically he is positioned to the right in comparison with Dwight D. Eisenhower. Just compare his famous warning about Military-Industrial Complex and Obama behavior during Snowden revelations of NSA total surveillance regime. Even Nixon, who finished Vietnam war is in some major aspects to the left of Clinton and Obama. Note how unceremoniously Obama dumped labor immediately after being reelected for the second term.

Essentially under Obama the USA two party system became undistinguishable in its major features from the USSR one party system, as behind the façade of two parties there is a single party, the party of oligarchy, the party of top 0.01% much like CPSU was the party of Soviet nomenklatura, which was hostile to the interests of middle class of the USSR (which is perfectly provable by the very low standard living of the middle class in the USSR).

Democracy promotion as used by the USA foreign policy
is actually a promotion of polyarchy

This oligarchy system was actively promoted in third world countries via so called color revolutions. Democracy promotion term in the US foreign policy is nothing but promotion of polyarchy. It is the policy that strives to put pro-Western elite groups and large international companies in power using variety of "grey area" methods which come short of armed apprising against the demonized "evil" regime. That was very successful policy in post USSR space with Ukraine and Georgia as two prominent examples.

After such a revolution a new, more pro-Western part of the elite (lumpenelite) comes to power and exercise often brutal monopoly power in the interests of the USA and transnational corporations. Typically privatization of the county is in the cards. Which regimes of Boris Yeltsin, Viktor Yushchenko and Mikheil Saakashvili demonstrated all too well. Also important that as 1965 CIA report about Philippines stresses that "The similarity of the parties, nevertheless encourages moderation, readiness to compromise, and lack of dogmatism in the political elite". Philippines were a key client regime in 1950th and 1960th with Clark Air Base and Subtic Naval Base to be the largest military facilities outside US mainland (Promoting polyarchy globalization ... - William I. Robinson (p. 120))

Here is one Amazon review of the book:

Brilliant exposition of US policy and the global order June 12, 2001

By Geoff Johnson

Format:Paperback

In this difficult but extremely provocative and scholarly work, William I. Robinson presents a new model for understanding US foreign policy and the emergent global society as a whole. The crux of his thesis is this: US foreign policy has changed in the last twenty years or so from open support of authoritarian regimes in countries where the US has economic and/or strategic interests to a program of "democracy promotion" that strives to place minority elite groups who are responsive to the interests of the United States and transnational capital at the head of the political, economic, and civic structures of "third world" countries.

Contrary to popular opinion (and that of much of academia), the real goal of democracy promotion, or what Robinson refers to as "promoting polyarchy", is not the promotion of democracy at all, but rather the promotion of the interests of an increasingly transnational elite headed by the US who seek open markets for goods and an increase in the free flow of capital. This marks a conscious shift in foreign policy in which the US now favors "consensual domination" by democratically elected governments rather than authoritarian leaders and the type of "crony capitalism" made famous by the likes of Ferdinand Marcos and Anastacio Somoza.

The first sections of the book introduce numerous theoretical concepts (drawing heavily on the theories of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, in particular his theory of hegemony) that are crucial to the understanding of the text. I personally found these sections extremely difficult but well worth the time it takes to read certain parts several times. Robinson then goes on to document four case studies-- the Phillipines, Chile, Nicaragua, and Haiti-- each of which fleshes out his conceptual framework in much more concrete terms. The result is a disturbing picture of US foreign policy and the current direction of "globalization." I would highly recommend this to anyone with a strong interest in foreign affairs and/or the future of humanity.

Here is an interesting review of Wolin's book: Inverted Totalitarianism in the US

The US is a self-declared empire that scholars have labeled a “superpower” since it achieved military and cultural hegemony in a “unipolar moment” at the “end of history” while seeking “full-spectrum dominance” of land, sea, air, cyberspace and outer space, as stated in the Department of Defense’s Joint Vision 2020.

In order to impede the Soviet Union’s imperial projects, the US likewise slung itself astride the globe using multilateral institutions, spy networks and covert operations which produced a “Cold War” that eliminated the idea of peacetime and demanded permanent military mobilization bolstered by the military-industrial-congressional complex while placing citizens on high alert against nuclear threats and a domestic infestation of “reds” that excused the government’s surveillance of citizens.

The Constitution, which limits power, and a democracy, which requires local control and citizen empowerment, are both profaned by superpower, which defies limits in its quest for global supremacy, overshadowing localities and overpowering citizens while projecting power outward and inward simultaneously.

To describe this configuration, the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin coined the term “inverted totalitarianism.”

In old totalitarianism, the state dominated the economy while iconic demagogues who permanently held office mobilized citizens and openly flaunted the blanketing power of the new order they were imposing. With inverted totalitarianism, the economy dominates the state wherein temporary “representatives” serve a permanent corporate regime that demobilizes citizens while claiming to protect individual liberty by reducing state power, thus concealing the totalitarian character.

In terms of the two-party system, Republicans are avid, pitiless, intolerant, unbending, predatory, anti-democratic, iron-willed ideologues who’ve sold out to big business while courting big religion, and Democrats ape them, thus creating a one-party climate that fulfills the wishes of corporate “citizens” while systematically neglecting the needs of regular citizens, producing an apathetic electorate that’s lost hope in the political process.

State power is legitimated by media events called “elections” that elites have learned to control through finance, marketing and media ownership, while politicians accept bribes called “contributions” that are considered “speech” – as defined by the Supreme Court, effectively using “free speech” to silence the citizenry while replacing constituents with lobbyists.

Citizens fear job loss and benefit loss due to downsizing and outsourcing, which maximize “efficiency,” while the government shreds social safety nets for the sake of “efficiency,” leaving citizens vulnerable and yet unable to protect themselves when states outlaw collective bargaining, thus criminalizing worker self-defense.

Contrary to popular belief, slashing federal programs enhances state power by making government less unwieldy and easier to control since it dilutes public involvement, thus depleting public power and solidifying executive power.

The idea of democracy is emptied of substance and used as a slogan to justify military invasion, occupation and torture while the doctrine of “preemptive war” renders all acts of aggression as defensive and undertaken for the sake of insuring “stability.” For example, deference to US demands and the protection of corporate assets – in a war against terrorism that lacks a specific geographic location and thus requires the globe-girdling ability to strike anywhere anytime.

Instead of a Politburo circulating state propaganda that touts one political ideology, the corporate media feigns democratic debate that features “both sides” who are portrayed as extreme opposites but actually reflect a slim range of political discourse, thus giving the appearance of freedom while relying on White House, State Department and Pentagon spokespeople to supply the “official” version of political affairs, which are broadcast into every home through television, thus manipulating the public rather than including them.

Democracy functions as a useful myth that obscures the totalitarian atmosphere in which citizens feel politically impotent and fearful as they are dwarfed by giant, rigid, top-heavy bureaucracies that respond to the protocols of a corporate state that collaborates with telecommunications companies to monitor the population and develop detailed digital profiles of citizens while local police forces cooperate with federal law enforcement agencies, augmenting the burgeoning prison industry as the state loosens laws that forbid army soldiers from patrolling US streets.

The corporate state defunds public programs and forces everything into the market, including health, education, social security, pensions, public broadcasting, prisons, water, soldiers, surveillance and national intelligence, while businesses commodify the environment and patent DNA.

Two Party System as an enabler of the Quiet Coup:
privatization by the elite of the whole country

In the “democracy” that America has evolved to, money counts more than people. In past elections, the votes were counted, now they are going to start weighing them.

America The Counter-Revolution - Salem-News.Com

“(T)he rich elites of (the USA) have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens … the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.”

-- Mike Lofgren

Two party system also makes possible a very interesting recent phenomenon, which started under Reagan (or may be Nixon) and first fully demonstrated itself after the dissolution of the USSR: a deep split between the elite and the rest of population to the extent that the country because a hostage of the elite which now behave like a brutal occupiers, not as compatriots. In other work the self-serving(aka greedy) elite with its neoliberal ideology emerged as much more formidable threat to democracy then communist ideology of the past. Neoliberalism not only defeated Marxism, it also decimated the US labor movement. Neoliberalism is in essence transnational, so Marxist slogan "proletarians of all countries unite" materialized in a form "elite of all countries unite" ;-). and that spells deep troubles for the 99% of the USA population as labor arbitrage is used to lower their living standard.

Being transnational they treat their "host" country as occupiers. Their allegiance is with transnational elite not with old ("national") bourgeoisie. In some countries like Russia under Putin national bourgeoisie (and imprisonment of Khodorkovky was a watershed invent in this respect as it prevented sell-out of Russian oil reserves to the US corporations) managed partially displace transnational elite form command hights but it remain to be seen how stable this regime is.

They now crave for "materialization" of their status in a form of great wealth and reject moral and cultural values of the past. This was first noticed by Christopher Lasch in 1994 when he published his groundbreaking book The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. This was partly due to the book prophetic recognition that the elites of this country (and indeed the developed world) -- the professionals, top managers (upper-middle class and higher) -- were pulling away from the rest of the pack, tacitly renouncing their stake in and responsibility to society social contract, and slowly changing the rules of the game to increate economic inequality and appropriate the large share of society wealth. Tyler Durden writes Zero Hedge on Feb. 15, 2013, that 1% of Americans control over 40% of the United States’ wealth. But those making $10 million or more a year pay an average income tax rate of only 19%, less then people who are making 60K a year. As an old-school conservative, Lasch considered excessive economic inequality to be intrinsically undesirable: the difficulty of limiting the influence of wealth suggests that wealth itself needs to be limited.

Since the Reagan administration the USA has indeed accomplished a successful transformation to an effective One Party State with the financial oligarchy instead of Soviet nomenklarura and Wall Street instead of the Communist Party of the USSR. As Soviet nomenklatura had shown to the surprised world at one moment the elite can just privatize the whole country (with active participation of KGB which in theory should protect the regime). In other words the objective of the elite and their political handmaidens became to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves. This new ruling caste, schooled separately, brought up to believe in fairytales, lives in a world of its own, from which it can project power without understanding or even noticing the consequences. A removal from the life of the rest of the nation is no barrier to the desire to dominate it. In fact it appears to be associated with a powerful, almost psychopathic sense of entitlement. This transition of elite (which now is first and foremost financial elite) into brutal occupiers of their own country was recently popularized by Professor Simon Johnson under then name of "Quiet Coup":

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government -- a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. ...

…the American financial industry gained political power by amassing a kind of cultural capital -- a belief system. Once, perhaps, what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Over the past decade, the attitude took hold that what was good for Wall Street was good for the country. The banking-and-securities industry has become one of the top contributors to political campaigns, but at the peak of its influence, it did not have to buy favors the way, for example, the tobacco companies or military contractors might have to. Instead, it benefited from the fact that Washington insiders already believed that large financial institutions and free-flowing capital markets were crucial to America’s position in the world.

At least since Reagan years we’ve been witnessing a quiet, slow-motion coup d’etat whose purpose is to repeal every bit of progressive legislation since the New Deal and entrench the privileged positions of the wealthy and powerful — who haven’t been as wealthy or as powerful since the Gilded Age of the late 19th century. As professor Reich noted:

Its techique is to inundate America with a few big lies, told over and over (for example, the debt is Obama’s fault and it’s out of control; corporations and the very rich are the “job creators” that need tax cuts; government is the enemy, and its regulations are strangling the private sector; unions are bad; and so on), and tell them so often they’re taken as fact.

Then having convinced enough Americans that these lies are true, take over the White House, Congress, and remaining states that haven’t yet succumbed to the regressive right (witness Tuesday’s recall election in Wisconsin).

Preventing meaningful reform

Two party system proved to be ideal instrument for preventing any meaningful social and political reform as recent political history of the USA aptly demonstrates. Here are some relevant comments from Naked Capitalism forums:

kievite

I am pretty pessimistic about the current situation. There are some tectonic forces at work and politicians can do only so much to try to prevent an earthquake.

One aspect of the problem is that the society became way too complex.

Tainter in his book suggested that as societies become more complex, the costs of meeting new challenges increase, until there comes a point where extra resources devoted to meeting new challenges produce diminishing and then negative returns.

The USA has an interesting twist in this regard which make some form of drastic change more plausible: Republican Party. The current Republican Party (aka wrecking crew) is a textbook demonstration of the forces that prevent any meaningful reform. Democratic Party is another part of the same bait-and-switch system.

The amount of resources diverted to military industrial complex and financial companies probably serve as another severe limitation on what can be done to prevent new crisis.

And with 40% of population believing that Saddam was instrumental in 9/11 the chances of political change are slim. Looks like country is pretty evenly divided and multi-year brainwashing can’t be reverted until the current generation pass away.

Rampant unemployment and absence of meaningful jobs creation are two features that make the current situation unsustainable.

Simple solutions like some form of fascism are definitely becoming more attractive in this atmosphere. So we can be sure that attempts to explore this opportunity will be made. Clerical fascism is one possibility.

High unemployment is a powerful catalyst of mass support of any radical ideology.

Actually the beginning of this century looks in many ways similar to the beginning of the previous century. And we know how things developed in the previous century. We just do not know the form “change we can believe in” will take.

kievite:

Actually splitting UR into two parties which are just replica of the USA structure with Democratic/Republican parties is a fascinating idea. As the USA experience proved it can be pretty stable politically as one branch of the same “united oligarchy party” would marginalise left and the other can marginalise extreme right.

As Gore Vidal said

“There is one political party in this country, and that is the party of money. It has two branches, the Republicans and the Democrats, the chief difference between which is that the Democrats are better at concealing their scorn for the average man.”

This might be an interesting political innovation for Russia: substituting single party regime with the “dualism without choice” (or “choice we can believe in” if we use politically correct language ;-) . This dual party structure can serve as a powerful force for marginalising opposition both on left and right. reform. In this case both parties are the necessary and vital parts of the same bait-and-switch system.

As for Medvedev actions I think that few people either in mass population or elite forgot economical and political rape of Russia under Yeltsin.

As unforgettable George W. Bush said: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

A popular mock word for “democrats” — “der’mokcats” and for “liberals” — “liberasts” reflects the common attitude after Yeltsin reforms.

Among interesting attempt to explain the current electoral situation provided in "American Revolution Today- First Principles and Basic Precepts " have some merits:

What does the prospect of Revolution mean today in The United States? Well, the very fact that today we are a nation, whereas in the late eighteenth century our forefathers were simply a collection of subject farmers and tradesmen inhabiting a colonial outpost of The British Empire, puts us in a very different set of circumstances than our predecessors. And yet some of the very same intolerable conditions that impelled our colonial ancestors to revolt against an arbitrary and unresponsive British crown exist today.

In fact, if anything, the tax burden you and I face now is greater by a substantial sum than what existed at the outset of The American Revolution when the cry "Taxation Without Representation" was the clarion call for defiance against The British Crown. More troubling perhaps is that those individuals that stand today at the head of our leading institutions of public life, whether they be the Treasury Secretary, Federal Reserve Bank Chairman, Senior Congressmen and women, and even The President, seem every bit as disinterested in honestly addressing our legitimate concerns, and in answering our probing questions, as any eighteenth century British Parliamentarian or exhalted royal head of state were in addressing the complaints of the colonialists.

Some might offer that the answer to such a lamentable state of affairs is to simply replace, via the ballot box, recalcitrant and unresponsive leaders. Regrettably, it is the opinion of American Revolution Today that the mechanisms of government are now so deeply flawed, so intractably corrupt, that no such simple remedy is possible were it even allowed. In truth, it is the view of American Revolution Today that:

  1. The United States Federal Government, functioning primarily on behalf of monied interests, particularly big banking and Wall Street, has become a nemesis of "We The People."
  2. The entrenched two party system comprised of Democrats and Republicans is, in the main, obstructive of reform, and, by definition, utterly opposed to anything resembling revolutionary change.
  3. At this juncture, traditional means of political self determination may not be the way forward, but in any case, we at American Revolution Today are convinced that no candidate from either the Democratic or Republican parties should receive support; any affiliation with the two party system almost assures that such a candidacy would ultimately be antithetical to government benefiting "We The People."

Following on from that, no candidate who runs for Federal public office that does not feature the following planks in their campaign platform will be deemed suitable for election.

A.) Term limits
B.) Campaign Finance Reform
C.) Shortened Election Cycles
D.) Cessation of "Redistricting"
E.) Full Audit of The Federal Reserve
F.) The restoration of constitutional mandate for congressional control of U.S. currency.
G.) An end to further raising of the debt ceiling
H.) Immediate removal of all troops, personnel, and material from Iran and Afghanistan
I.) Replacement of income tax and estate taxes with new levies on consumption, and amended levies on capital gains by individuals and corporations.
J.) Health care reform that is first and foremost free market based with no governmental bias towards "Big Pharma" or the insurance industry.
K.) A multi-generational program designed to return some "reasonable sum" of manufacture back to the United States
L.) The complete overhaul of such government agencies as the SEC, The Bureau of Labor and Statistics, and Homeland Security, to name but a few.
M.) Full investigations of those individuals in and out of government who are alleged to have engaged in criminal activity associated with the collapse of various large banking concerns and quasi government agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
N.) An end to the entire "alphabet soup" of programs funneling money to too big to be allowed to exist parasitic institutions such as AIG, BOA, GS, Citicorp, and JPM.
O.) A restoration of mark to market accounting standards, and the cessation of the writing of any more "standard performance contracts" aka OTC derivatives, until such time as a regulated exchange is instituted for their trade.
P.) A complete rollback of all cap and trade legislation.

If you are in agreement with the ideas and political initiatives expressed here, and feel as we do, join us in making the Second American Revolution a reality. Join us in reestablishing a nation where The Constitution is fully respected, and where good government is defined as one that governs least and always on behalf of the greater good.

Honest Elections Myth

Here is characterization by the USA MSM of the particular foreign election

They have the right to have an honest elections... We will have to disagree on the scale of the electoral fraud – from what I can see , the “elections”: were a total , crudely executed sham

In fact this characterization if perfectly applicable to the US elections as well. In fact elections are always stolen from people by oligarchy. There was an excellent observation here:

There’s no real skill in convincing people that they’re unhappy with the current state of affairs, and to set visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads (if I may be seasonal for a moment).

Everybody feels they’re entitled to something better, and the only thing left to do is identify the person or persons standing in the way of their getting it.

But everybody who isn’t a dolt usually says at some point, “Uhhh….how’s that going to work?”

I would add my two cents.

  1. When we face critic of elections who claim they are dishonest that classic Russian question arise " Who are the judges?" (Griboedov) .

    Judges are representatives of several political forces:

    Typically none of them is better then "current corrupt regime". That supports that statement that means that taking into account the alternative, the word democracy here is used as a Trojan force for regime change with the hope that the next regime will more suitable for geo-political security interests of the USA and Western Europe.

  2. Absolutization of the idea of "honest election" is nothing but dirty PR trick. I would remind here old, but still relvant work of Robert Michels who became famous for his formuation of "Iron law of oligarchies": He demostrated (in 1911 !) that the idea of "honest election" is a myth the covers the universal trend of democratic organizations towards oligarchy. And that elections are form of civilised struggle of different oligarchic groups represented by party functionaries for power. Which in turn represent so called "leading families". The latter is one (a) that develops, retains and renews its wealth over a number of generations; (b) in which some children in each generation secure good positions in the various elites of society; and (c) where the family holds together as a network for information on and influence over the development of a local community or ─ in certain cases ─ the country as a whole. More than one thinks, the history of Europe and America in the past century has consisted of the history of the leading families.

  3. It's natural that like after any dirty football game the fans of the winning team call it brutal but honest and fans of the losing team "dirty and dishonest". As there are some objective criteria of the level of "dirty tricks" played in election people who try to absolutize the idea of "honest election" are crooks who want to "rock the boat". .

Credibility trap of two party system

Credibility trap of one party system is well known. Two party system is more resilient in this respect but is not totally immune to credibility trap.

A credibility trap [in two party sytem] is a situation in which the regulatory, political and/or the informational functions of a society have been thoroughly taken in by a corrupting influence and a fraud, so that one cannot address the situation without implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure and the status quo who at least tolerated it, if not profited directly from it, and most likely continue to do so.

This lead to an interesting situation when voting became a special type of entertainment aptly described in John Chuckman Nov 6, 2013 essay HOW AMERICA LEARNED TO PLAY GOD

Just as there is a natural cycle in the life of great industries – the scores of early American car manufacturers are now reduced to a few functioning as an oligopoly, an historical pattern repeated in industry after industry – there appears to be a life cycle for a government organized like that of the United States. The duopoly which runs the American government consists of two parties which differ in almost no particulars except some social issues, but even that difference is rather a sham because the American government no longer has any interest in social issues. It is concerned overwhelmingly with representing and furthering the interests of the nation’s three great power centers of the military-industrial-intelligence complex. Social issues now are soap-box stuff for street-corner politicians and members of NGOs.

But in any case, all players in this political duopoly, no matter to which office they may be elected, know they can never challenge the immense authority and virtual omnipresence of America’s military, intelligence, corporate hierarchies and special interests like the Israel Lobby, powerful anti-democratic institutions which literally shape the space America’s politicians must inhabit.

Americans today quite simply could not vote in an informed manner if they wanted to do so (and many are not interested in voting at all, as we shall see): they are completely in the dark as to what happens inside their government, both its operations within the country and in international affairs. No one knows the full extent of spending on intelligence, nor do they know what dark programs are underway. No one knows the full extent of spending on the military, nor do they know to what questionable tasks it is being put around the world. No one knows the immense extent and complexity of lobbying and special interests in the American government. And of course no one is privy to the planning and operations of the great corporations, nor do they know anything of the dealings and financing arrangements between those corporations (or the wealthy individuals who own and run them) and the people’s supposed representatives, who all must spend a substantial part of their time just raising money for the next election (the average American Senator is said to spend two-thirds of his or her time doing just that).

Americans’ votes in elections have become to a remarkable extent meaningless, although an elaborate political stage play keeps the appearance of meaning and keeps those interested in politics involved and entertained. Almost certainly as a result of sensing how little their votes count, Americans often simply do not vote and do so in increasing numbers. The further down the political totem pole you go from the presidential elections which generate the most noise owing to the obscene amounts of money spent on marketing and advertising, the greater is this truth. Maybe 60% vote for president, a minority vote in other national elections, and a tiny fraction vote in state and local elections.

This vacuum is filled with Big Intelligence which become one of the "king makers":

The record of arrogance and abuse by security organizations, such as CIA or the FBI, is long and costly, filled with errors in judgment, abuse of power, incompetence, and immense dishonesty. Owing to the black magic of classified secrecy, much of the record involves projects about which we will never know, but even what we do know about is distressing enough. And I’m not sure that it can be any other way so long as you have Big Intelligence. Apart from Big Intelligence’s own propensity towards criminal or psychopathic behavior, one of the great ironies of Big Intelligence is that it will always agree to bend, to provide whatever suppressions and fabrications are requested by political leaders working towards the aims of the other great anti-democratic institutions, the military and the corporations. This became blindingly clear in the invasion of Iraq and, even before that, in the first Gulf War.

Among other things they provide powerful filtering system so that none undesirable slips into important office:

America’s political system, honed and shaped over many decades, fits comfortably with these institutions. National elections are dominated by a two-party duopoly (being kept that way through countless institutional barriers deliberately created to maintain the status quo) , both these parties are dominated by huge flows of campaign contributions (contributions which form what economists call an effective barrier to entry against any third party seriously being able to compete), both parties embrace much the same policies except for some social issues of little interest to the establishment, and election campaigns are reduced to nothing more than gigantic advertising and marketing operations no different in nature to campaigns for two national brands of fast food or pop. It takes an extremely long time for a candidate to rise and be tested before being trusted with the huge amounts of money invested in an important campaign, and by that time he or she is a well-read book with no surprising chapters.

If for any reason this political filtering system fails, and someone slips through to an important office without having spent enough time to make them perfectly predictable, there still remains little chance of serious change on any important matter. The military-industrial-intelligence complex provides a molded space into which any newcomer absolutely must fit. Just imagine the immense pressures exerted by the mere presence of senior Pentagon brass gathered around a long polished oak table or a table surrounded by top corporate figures representing hundreds of billions in sales or representatives or a major lobbying group (and multi-million dollar financing source for the party). We see the recent example of popular hopes being crushed after the election of Obama, a man everyone on the planet hoped to see mend some of the ravages of George Bush and Dick Cheney. But the man who once sometimes wore sandals and bravely avoided a superfluous and rather silly flag pin on his lapel quickly was made to feel the crushing weight of institutional power, and he bent to every demand made on him, becoming indistinguishable from Bush. Of course, the last president who genuinely did challenge at least some of the great institutional powers, even to a modest extent, died in an ambush in Dallas.

 

 

Disenfranchised Voters

Here are pretty typical comments about the recent Congress election in The Guardian (Oct 30, 2014):

UNOINO

It makes no difference to our Handlers whether we vote for Tweedledee or Tweedledum. None whatsoever because our Handlers own them both. Now, back to work.

jeni popa

All parties aside, the right hand still has to work with the left hand. Try using just one hand, not much gets done, right ? Now try together, thank you.

Stephen_Sean -> jeni popa

Sometimes one hand is all that is required, but I see your point.

UNOINO -> jeni popa

At the moment one force is controlling both hands. They are essentially both doing the same thing. What we need is a third hand, so to speak. A third party.

Wiscot -> UNOINO

If there is one thing that will always unite Republicans and Democrats at all levels of government, it is the desire to keep it a two-party system. Any third party will be marginalized by whatever means possible. They know that people hate Congress so much that any reasonable alternative would get votes. The Establishment will always protect itself.

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[Apr 10, 2015] Shadow Government By Bruce Morgan

October 28, 2014 | Tufts Now

Elected officials are no longer in charge of our national security—and that is undermining our democracy, says the Fletcher School's Michael Glennon

"We are clearly on the path to autocracy," says Michael Glennon. "There's no question that if we continue on that path, [the] Congress, the courts and the presidency will ultimately end up . . . as institutional museum pieces." Photo: Kelvin Ma

Michael Glennon knew of the book, and had cited it in his classes many times, but he had never gotten around to reading the thing from cover to cover. Last year he did, jolted page after page with its illuminating message for our time.

The book was The English Constitution, an analysis by 19th-century journalist Walter Bagehot that laid bare the dual nature of British governance. It suggested that one part of government was for popular consumption, and another more hidden part was for real, consumed with getting things done in the world. As he read, Glennon, a professor of international law at the Fletcher School, where he also teaches constitutional law, saw distinct parallels with the current American political scene.

He decided to explore the similarities in a 30-page paper that he sent around to a number of his friends, asking them to validate or refute his argument. As it happens, Glennon's friends were an extraordinarily well-informed bunch, mostly seasoned operatives in the CIA, the U.S. State Department and the military. "Look," he told them. "I'm thinking of writing a book. Tell me if this is wrong." Every single one responded, "What you have here is exactly right."

Expanded from that original brief paper, Glennon's book National Security and Double Government (Oxford University Press) takes our political system to task, arguing that the people running our government are not our visible elected officials but high-level—and unaccountable—bureaucrats nestled atop government agencies.

Glennon's informed critique of the American political system comes from a place of deep regard. Glennon says he can remember driving into Washington, D.C., in the late spring of 1973, at the time of the Senate Watergate hearings, straight from law school at the University of Minnesota, to take his first job as assistant legislative counsel to the U.S. Senate. Throughout his 20s, he worked in government, culminating in his position as legal counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Sen. Frank Church from 1977 to 1980. Since entering academic life in the early 1980s, Glennon has been a frequent consultant to government agencies of all stripes, as well as a regular commentator on media outlets such as NPR's All Things Considered, the Today show and Nightline.

In his new book, an inescapable sadness underlies the narrative. "I feel a great sense of loss," Glennon admits. "I devoted my life to these [democratic] institutions, and it's not easy to see how to throw the current trends into reverse." Tufts Now spoke with Glennon recently to learn more of his perspective.

Tufts Now: You've been both an insider and an outsider with regard to government affairs. What led you to write this book?

Michael Glennon: I was struck by the strange continuity in national security policy between the Bush administration and the Obama administration. Obama, as a candidate, had been eloquent and forceful in criticizing many aspects of the Bush administration's national security policies, from drone strikes to Guantanamo to surveillance by the National Security Agency—the NSA—to covert operations. Yet as president, it turned out that he made very, very few changes in these policies. So I thought it was useful to explain the reason for that.

Were you surprised by the continuity?

I was surprised by the extent of it. I knew fundamentally from my own experience that changing national policies is like trying to change the course of an aircraft carrier. These policies in many ways were set long ago, and the national security bureaucracy tends to favor the status quo. Still, I thought that a president like Obama would, with the political wind in his sails and with so much public and congressional support for what he was criticizing, be more successful in fulfilling his promises.

You use the phrase "double government," coined by Walter Bagehot in the 1860s. What did he mean by that?

Walter Bagehot was one of the founders of the Economist magazine. He developed the theory of "double government," which in a nutshell is this. He said Britain had developed two sets of institutions. First came "dignified" institutions, the monarchy and the House of Lords, which were for show and which the public believed ran the government. But in fact, he suggested, this was an illusion.

These dignified institutions generate legitimacy, but it was a second set of institutions, which he called Britain's "efficient" institutions, that actually ran the government behind the scenes. These institutions were the House of Commons, the Cabinet and the prime minister. This split allowed Britain to move quietly from a monarchy to what Bagehot called a "concealed republic."

The thesis of my book is that the United States has also drifted into a form of double government, and that we have our own set of "dignified" institutions—Congress, the presidency and the courts. But when it comes to national security policy, these entities have become largely for show. National security policy is now formulated primarily by a second group of officials, namely the several hundred individuals who manage the agencies of the military, intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracy responsible for protecting the nation's security.

What are some components of this arrangement?

The NSA, the FBI, the Pentagon and elements of the State Department, certainly; generally speaking, law enforcement, intelligence and the military entities of the government. It's a diverse group, an amorphous group, with no leader and no formal structure, that has come to dominate the formation of American national security policy to the point that Congress, the presidency and the courts all defer to it.

You call this group the "Trumanite network" in your book. What's the link to Harry Truman?

It was in Truman's administration that the National Security Act of 1947 was enacted. This established the CIA and the National Security Council and centralized the command of the U.S. military. It was during the Truman administration as well that the National Security Agency [NSA] was set up, in 1952, although that was a secret and didn't come to light for many years thereafter.

In contrast to the Trumanites you set the "Madisonians." How would you describe them?

The Madisonian institutions are the three constitutionally established branches of the federal government: Congress, the judiciary and the president. They are perceived by the public as the entities responsible for the formulation of national security policy, but that belief is largely mistaken.

The idea is driven by regular exceptions. You can always point to specific instances in which, say, the president personally ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden or Congress enacted the War Powers Resolution. But these are exceptions. The norm is that as a general matter, these three branches defer to the Trumanite network, and that's truer all the time.

So the trend is toward increased power on the Trumanite side of the ledger.

Correct.

If that's true, why has there not been a greater outcry from the public, the media—all the observers we have?

I think the principal reason is that even sophisticated students of government operate under a very serious misunderstanding. They believe that the political system is self-correcting. They believe the framers set up a system of government setting power against power, and ambition against ambition, and that an equilibrium would be reached, and that any abuse of power would be checked, and arbitrary power would be prevented.

That is correct as far as it goes, but the reality is that's only half the picture. The other half is that Madison and his colleagues believed that for equilibrium to occur, we would have an informed and engaged citizenry. Lacking that, the entire system corrupts, because individuals are elected to office who do not resist encroachments on the power of their branches of government, and the whole equilibrium breaks down.

What role, if any, have the media played?

The media have pretty much been enablers. Although there are a handful of investigative journalists who have done a heroic job of uncovering many of the abuses, they are the exception, for a number of reasons. Number one, the media are a business and have a bottom line. It takes a huge amount of money to fund an investigative journalist who goes about finding sources over a period of years. Very few newspapers or television concerns have those sorts of deep pockets.

Second, access for the press is everything. There is huge incentive to pull punches, and you don't get interviews with top-ranking officials at the NSA or CIA if you're going to offer hard-hitting questions. Look, for example, at the infamous 60 Minutes puff piece on the NSA, a really tragic example of how an otherwise respectable institution can sell its soul and act like an annex of the NSA in order to get some people it wants on the TV screen.

What is the role of terror in this environment?

The whole transfer of power from the Madisonian institutions to the Trumanite network has been fueled by a sense of emergency deriving from crisis, deriving from fear. It's fear of terrorism more than anything else that causes the American people to increasingly be willing to dispense with constitutional safeguards to ensure their safety.

Madison believed that government has two great objects. One object of a constitution is to enable the government to protect the people, specifically from external attacks. The other great object of a constitution is to protect the people from the government. The better able the government is to protect the people from external threats, the greater the threat posed by the government to the people.

You've been involved with the U.S. government for 40 years. How has your view of government changed?

Double government was certainly a factor in the 1970s, but it was challenged for the first time thanks to the activism stemming from the civil rights movement, Vietnam and Watergate. As a result, there were individuals in Congress—Democrats and Republicans like William Fulbright, Frank Church, Jacob Javits, Charles Mathias and many others—who were willing to stand up and insist upon adherence to constitutionally ordained principles. That led to a wave of activism and to the enactment of a number of pieces of reform legislation.

But there is no final victory in Washington. Those reforms have gradually been eaten away and turned aside. I think today we are in many ways right back where we were in the early 1970s. NSA surveillance is an example of that. The Church Committee uncovered something called Operation Shamrock, in which the NSA had assembled a watch list of antiwar and civil rights activists based upon domestic surveillance. Church warned at the time that NSA capabilities were so awesome that if they were ever turned inward on the American people, this nation would cross an abyss from which there is no return. The question is whether we have recently crossed that abyss.

To what degree are we still a functioning democracy? I'm sure you know that President Jimmy Carter told a German reporter last year that he thought we no longer qualified as a democracy because of our domestic surveillance.

We are clearly on the path to autocracy, and you can argue about how far we are down that path. But there's no question that if we continue on that path, America's constitutionally established institutions—Congress, the courts and the presidency—will ultimately end up like Britain's House of Lords and monarchy, namely as institutional museum pieces.

Bruce Morgan can be reached at bruce.morgan@tufts.edu.

[Nov 17, 2014] Democrats: The Party of Pablum John Nichols

Nov 17, 2014 | thenation.com

When Bernie Sanders gets to griping about the Democratic Party, which happens frequently, he asks, "What does it stand for?"

The independent senator argues that, after years of sellouts and compromises on issues ranging from trade policy to banking regulation, and especially after letting campaign donors and consultants define its messaging, the party of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman has become an ill-defined and distant political machine that most Americans do not relate to or get excited about.

His point has always been well-taken, but it was confirmed on November 4. How else can we explain voters who chose Mitch McConnell senators and Elizabeth Warren policies?

That's what happened in Arkansas, where 65 percent of voters expressed their concern about income inequality and poverty by approving a substantial minimum-wage increase on the same day they gave Senator Mark Pryor just 39 percent of the vote. Pryor was one of many Democrats who ran away from President Obama in 2014, and part of how Pryor distanced himself was by announcing his opposition to increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Republican Tom Cotton, who also opposes the federal increase, slyly endorsed the state ballot initiative and swept to victory in a race where what could have been sharp distinctions between the contenders were neutralized by the Democrat.

[Oct 30, 2014] Republicans confident of midterm success as apathetic America switches off by Dan Roberts

Quote: "Don't blame the voters. If you're looking for someone to blame, how about asking the Democrats -- who appear to know why the GOP sucks -- to either lead or get the hell out of the way. They are occupying the opposition spot, but they are unwilling to take the natural positions that their criticism of the Republicans would imply they should take. In fact, the National Democratic Party appears to do AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE to oppose the Republican agenda, while still keeping enough faithful voters around to prevent some other party from taking its place. If there wasn't already such a placebo party, big money would probably invent it."
Oct 30, 2014 | http://www.theguardian.com | Comments

,

Is there a difference between the Republicans and Democrats? Yes.

Is it enough to generate excitement and make the public feel like they are truly charting this nation's course with their votes. Not a chance in hell.

Don't blame the voters. If you're looking for someone to blame, how about asking the Democrats -- who appear to know why the GOP sucks -- to either lead or get the hell out of the way. They are occupying the opposition spot, but they are unwilling to take the natural positions that their criticism of the Republicans would imply they should take.

In fact, the National Democratic Party appears to do AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE to oppose the Republican agenda, while still keeping enough faithful voters around to prevent some other party from taking its place.

If there wasn't already such a placebo party, big money would probably invent it.

,
We live in the media market of Sacramento, CA, and the only TV advertising is for the Congressional district some 50-60 miles north of us, which the Democrat won by a narrow margin two years ago, defeating the sitting republican congressman.

The TV ads are endless, and the money being spent on behalf of the Republican former congressman in the effort to retake the seat seems monumental. There are at least 6 or more other congressional districts covered by the Sacramento TV stations, but not a single ad concerning any of them.

Crazy, and gross, and a mindless distortion of democracy. But there you are; that is modern USA

,

I hope all those middle class people who are holding those signs have brought plenty of lube ..Because once Congress goes RED be ready for a serious reaming of the Middle Class once again by the GOP ... There not quite done yet siphoning of the what wealth remains in the American Middle Class ..

They got real close during the Wall Street Meltdown but did not quiet get it all .. America is poised to make.... yes the same mistake again and again and again .. Why one may ask ?? Because we are NUMBER ONE and NUMBER TWO .. don't forget lots of Lube ......The GOP will love it it's petroleum product after all ...

,

Either way, they argue, the White House loses. "He'll become the president of no," another GOP congressman confidently told the Guardian, revelling in the prospect of reversing the insult that dogged House Republicans when they were the ones blocking Democratic legislative efforts.

These clowns are still out of touch with reality...they keep saying no to everything and believe they're paying no price for it...but somehow if the Democrats say no, that it harms them.

I think you'll find that whenever the Democrats resist Republican pressure like the threats to shut government down, their popularity soars....its not about WHO says the 'NO'...it's about who says 'NO' to WHAT. They don't get it....

, l

Republicans confident of midterm success ..........

If I was an American citizen (and I'm extremely grateful that I am not) I would not insult/humiliate myself by participating in the Corporate corrupt bought and paid for, White House, politician's Corporate general elections.

It makes no difference who the Corporate America is on the Election list:

Republican's; Democrats; Disneyland; Hollywood; Crime incorporated...

Corporate politics has taken over in Corporate America. Voting is but just a mythical action. Just a load of (taken for a ride) old bollocks.

Because the Republicans just like the Tories in British politics are always in control and New Labour demonstrated this fact in 1997 when they embraced Tory Thatcher's financial philosophy for thirteen years.

A One Party State !! That loves to arm and finance dictators across the world and still clocking up coup d' etat's.

The decision not to vote in an election arises from the mistaken belief that just because things are bad now, that they could not be worse later.

,
Will a republican takeover of the senate make a difference? You bet it will! Suddenly, the president (and I use the term loosely) will become the "president of no."

Republicans will set a governing agenda, the country will be better off and in 2016, Romney might be our new president.

-> SFChutzpah ,

You forgot the step before that. The Democrats have experienced record numbers of filibusters. They are very well-schooled on their use.

As for the Republicans. They have NO POLICIES that they have shared with anyone. What we will see is the continued attempts to be the anti-Democrats.

1. The "mainstream" media may be ignoring the election because they tend not to report anything that might make Republicans look good.

2. Republicans should not be sure of anything for they are skilled at gaining defeat from what looks to be a sure victory.

3. Local ads against Republicans have used quotes (if you can read the very small print) from as long ago as 15 years and imply they were said yesterday. Some bounce back on that.

4. Interesting that most election story references to "big" money always mention the Koch brothers, but not the likes of George Soros, et al. Locally, the Democrats raised and outspent to Republicans by as much as 12/1.

5. There ought to be a total spending limit for a political campaign and all campaigns should be limited to 60-90 days prior to an election.

6. Too bad we don't have the leadership to create a viable Centrist Party. We need options.

,
Chomsky said it best when he described Obama as a moderate Republican.

The whole scene in America is dragged so far to the right that it doesn't really matter which you vote for. You either have extremist republicans who proudly hate poor people, women, non-white people and people who think guns aren't the answer to everything, or you have the more moderate Republicans who are comparable to British Tories.

And you (quite rightly) thought things were bad here!!

-> ryan2293
Interesting that Chomsky 1) made his riches being a capitalist while condemning capitalism and 2) never chose to live in a society that more closely practiced what he preached compared to where he did choose to live.
-> laredo33
1) how is he a capitalist?

2) why should he leave the country? Do you have to leave the country when you don't like the government? If you don't (which you don't) then you're a hypocrite and if you do then you're an idiot, the choice is yours. And there is no libertarian socialist society that he could move to anyway! Where do you suggest?

PATROKLUS00
The American electorate will deserve exactly what they will get, just as the morons in Kansas who swallowed the right-wing nonsense about trickle-down economics, slashing taxes and cutting budgets have seen their state plummet in credit ratings, burn through a billion dollars into massive debt, and debilitate their educational system at all levels.

Yet, the races are still close in that benighted state since its dyed-red voters will vote for the vacuous, destructive and exploitative ideology of the right in spite of all contrary evidence. The broader American electorate is of the same cloth and will reap the same "benefits" as the antediluvian Kansans.

The only way all too many American voters can learn is by experience, since they are incapable of thinking about anything with any reasonable level of knowledge and reason. So I am all for the GOTP taking control, now and in 2016. It will, in all likelihood, benefit me, but not the nation. I am just too weary of trying to get the first world's most politically ignorant, indolent, incompetent and inciteable voters to act in their own interest or that of their nation. Let them reap the whirlwind of their stupidity.

Herman Munster -> PATROKLUS00
Ah, and the democrat states like California, New York and Illinois are just rolling in excess money because they're fiscally responsible. And their education systems are churning out Rhodes Scholars, every child is above average, there's no poverty or racial disparity, majority democrat states are just going great guns.
BaronVonAmericano -> PATROKLUS00

I get your frustration. But I think a big component of the problem is that there is no genuine opposition party. Democrats could contrast themselves with the GOP in ways that would a) get their base excited; b) get independent votes (based on issue polling) and c) be good for the nation. But to do so would conflict with donors.

So it would appear that Democrats -- the only other viable option than the awful Republicans -- would rather sell out their base, sell out the nation, and lose seats in power in order to please their donors.

That probably explains why so many people don't want to vote.

[Oct 29, 2014] Moderate thunder out of Kansas by EJ Dionne

Kansas is one of the most brainwashed state in the country. See What's the matter with Kansas
Oct 29, 2014 | The Washington Post

The several dozen people gathered at a street corner just off the main square of this southeastern Kansas town of 5,600 were polite and friendly in the Midwestern way. They did not look in the least like a band of counterrevolutionaries intent on reversing the direction of the government in Topeka.

Yet the results of the tea party rebellion four years ago have led these civic-minded, middle-of-the-road Kansans to a quiet but fierce determination to take their state back from those who once talked incessantly about taking their country back.

What brought them together this week was a visit from Paul Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor. Davis has generally been running ahead of Republican incumbent Sam Brownback in one of the country's most consequential showdowns on Tuesday's ballot.

Brownback set things up this way by launching what he called, proudly and unapologetically, a "real, live experiment" that he hoped would provide a model of red-state governance. He pushed steep income and business tax cuts through the legislature, insisting that his program would spur unprecedented economic growth. The results have been less than inspiring: large budget deficits, credit downgrades and substantial cuts in education spending, some of which were reversed only because of a court order. Only rarely does an election pose such a clear philosophical and policy choice.

Brownback often cited low-tax Texas as his model, prompting a ready reply from Davis. Voters "don't want to be like Texas," he said in an interview at his storefront headquarters here. "They just want to be Kansas."

What it means to be Kansas is precisely what's at stake, and it's why Davis's campaign uses #RestoreKansas — a traditionalist's slogan, when you think about it — as its Twitter battle cry. The choice Davis is offering is not between liberalism and conservatism but rather between two kinds of conservatism: the deeply anti-government tea party kind, and an older variety that values prudence and fiscal restraint but also expects government to provide, as Davis put it, "the basic services that are essential to the state's vitality."

In his stump speech, Davis emphasizes public education, transportation, Brownback's rejection of the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and a widely unpopular privatization of Kansas's Medicaid program.

What's striking is how many Republicans have joined Davis's effort, including a large group of Republican politicians, some of whom Brownback purged in bitter primaries. Achieving ideological purity in the GOP turns out to have high costs, and Davis spoke of "the many functions we've had where we had more Republicans than Democrats. "I like those," he adds.

Indeed he does. In a state where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by almost 2 to 1, moderately conservative Republicans are the swing voters.

Some are shocked that Kansas is one of this year's battlegrounds, not only in the governor's race but also in the pivotal Senate contest between independent Greg Orman and incumbent Pat Roberts (R). But one person who is not surprised is James Roberts (no relation to the senator), Davis's 29-year-old campaign manager.

In January 2013, the young organizer paid me a visit in Washington to explain why Kansas could swing Democratic this year. Over lunch at a Mexican restaurant this week in Lawrence, I asked him how he knew this back then. "We're a Kassebaum-Dole-Eisenhower state," Roberts said, referring to two legendary Republican senators and the president from Abilene, by way of stressing that Kansas is "a pragmatic, moderate state."

"We're not a state of radical experiments," he said. "Anytime conservatism takes a back seat to raw ideology, Kansans rebuke that idea."

If Republicans do as well nationwide next week as many expect, they should pay attention to the reaction unleashed here by Brownback, a former senator whom Davis regularly accuses of bringing "Washington, D.C.-style politics to Kansas," which he equates with "hyperpartisan politics."

Among those who came out to greet Davis here was David Toland, executive director of Thrive Allen County, a social service and economic development organization. He summarized why the decision here matters so much.

"If moderates are starting to push back against the extremism of the Republican Party in Kansas, I cannot believe they won't be pushing back in other states," Toland said. "This is a state with a strong conservative tradition that's in open rebellion against the policies of its own party."

Conservatism at its finest has been defined by a devotion to moderation. Next week, conservative Kansas may remind the nation that this is still true.

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC's "This Week" and NBC's "Meet the Press." View Archive

[Oct 21, 2014] Would Stronger Parties Mean Less Polarization? by Thomas B. Edsall

Much of the polarization is fake and is just a shrewd method to enforce adverse selection conditions on voters.
Oct 21, 2014 | nytimes.com

Ever since they emerged in the early 1800s, political parties have been a target of public scorn. But they have always had their defenders — a smaller, less influential camp that holds that parties are more beneficial than harmful because they play an essential role in mediating political disputes.

The anti-party forces fitfully succeed in enacting laws and rules to restrain party organizations and bosses, including the adoption of referendum and recall procedures; requirements that states pick delegates to the national conventions through primaries and caucuses; bans on closed-door meetings; the prohibition of legislative earmarks; and legislation that restricts the size and source of contributions to the national political parties.

The intensity of polarized politics at every level of government now puts the dispute over political parties at the center of a debate among office holders, political scientists, legal experts and partisan activists. Is it possible that strengthening the parties could lessen polarization?

The pro-party camp contends that many reforms have unintentionally fostered polarization: diminishing the clout of parties and party leaders undermines their role as a force for moderation and compromise.

... ... ...

Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who is a strong supporter of McCain-Feingold, disagrees with Persily and La Raja. At the conference, and in later email exchanges, Mann made a number of key points.

First of all, Mann contends, Republicans are the driving force behind polarization. Their opposition to Democratic proposals is based less on ideological principle than on a strategic political decision to oppose President Obama on every front, even when he takes a position previously advocated by conservatives. Examples of the latter include the individual mandate under Obamacare and end-of-life counseling.

"Much of the acrimony and gridlock is not a consequence" of ideological issues or campaign finance, Mann told participants at the conference. Instead, he argues, "it's strategic – it's all about capturing a majority in the House and Senate, and the White House."

According to Mann,

The Republican Party leadership has largely embraced the ideological positions of Tea Party activists and uses its campaign resources to help elect Republicans wherever they have a good chance of winning, not to favor less extreme candidates or to try to discipline their most extreme or recalcitrant members.

Lifting campaign contribution limits to help them raise more money is unlikely to make much of a difference.

Rima Regas, is a trusted commenter Mission Viejo, CA

The root cause of the problem isn't so much the parties themselves, though they most certainly are an important part of it.

The real problem is that some very wealthy individuals and corporations discovered that, with money, a plan, and perspicacity, they can just buy themselves the Federal government by financing political parties and their candidates. Since the 80's, some of the most perspicacious individuals have patiently, doggedly, and methodically overseen changes to laws that have made it possible to spend almost any sum of money in return for influence over our every aspect of our politics and economics.

President Obama's election came just as the job was nearly done. The consequence of voting in a choice unsanctioned by the oligarchs has come in the form of unrelenting obstruction by the party they are most in control of, and the unrelenting punishment of the electorate ever since through obstructionist policies of austerity at a time when investment is most needed.

So, the political parties didn't start this. Our oligarchs did and the cure for what ails us isn't so much the strengthening the political parties as it is convincing the voters, all of them, that what's needed is their dogged, perspicacious, vigilant engagement in order to restore our democracy.

That's not to say that there aren't problems within both parties. There are, but that's a separate set of issues.

[Oct 07, 2014] Ron Paul: Republican Majority in US Senate Would Not Make Much Difference by Adam Dick

"bipartisan on the wicked things" such as supporting military interventions overseas.
October 2, 2014 | ronpaulinstitute.org

While Washington, DC politicians and pundits are prattling about whether the Democrats or Republicans will control the United States Senate after the November election, Ron Paul is throwing cold water on the whole brouhaha. Paul, speaking Wednesday on the Alan Colmes Show, explains that, "generally speaking, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference" which party controls the Senate.

Paul, the chairman and founder of the Ron Paul Institute, proceeds to comment that Senate and US House of Representatives leaders like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are "bipartisan on the wicked things" such as supporting military interventions overseas.

Listen to the complete interview here:

[Sep 02, 2014] The End of Democracy as we Knew it by Bernd Hamm

Sep 02, 2014 | informationclearinghouse.info

This paper starts with summarizing the major theoretical elements in the definition of a global ruling class. It then examines how neoconservatives in the US took power and used regime change to install US-friendly governments in other regions. A strategy of tension is used to press the population into conformity. But the real revolution is to what extent factual politics escape any attempt to democratic control. Three case studies show how far the Deep State already goes. Democracy is on the brink of survival.

1. Theory

In an earlier paper (Hamm, B. 2010) I suggested an analytical framework for the study of power as it relates to the future of global society. This outline specifically addressed four questions:

  1. How is the global ruling class structured internally?
  2. Is it theoretically correct to use the term class for the ruling elite?
  3. What are the major instruments of power?
  4. How do these analytical insights impact on the probable future of human society?

Drawing on C. Wright Mills' seminal work on The Power Elite (1956), recent power structure research suggests an ideal-type model of four concentric circles:

  1. In the inner circle, we find the global money trust, the richest individuals, families or clans, all with fortunes well above one billion Euros.
  2. The CEOs of big transnational corporations and biggest international financial players make up the second circle. They are mostly concerned with increasing the wealth of the inner circle, and with it their own.
  3. Top international politicians, some active in governments and international institutions, some more in the background as advisors, plus the top military, compose the third circle. This political class has assignments: organize the distribution of the social product in such a way as to transfer as much as the actual power balance allows into the pockets of the inner and second circles, and secure the legitimacy of government by organizing the political circus of an allegedly pluralistic structure.
  4. The fourth ring will be composed of top academics, media moguls, lawyers, and may sometimes include prominent authors, film and music stars, artists, NGO representatives, few religious leaders, few top criminals and others useful for decorating the inner circles. They enjoy the privilege of close access to those in power, they are well paid, and they will make sure not to lose such benefits (Hamm, B. 2010:1008-9; see also Phillips, P., Osborne, B. 2013).

It appears that the degree of internationalization of the powerful correlates with their status on the ring hierarchy. The two inner circles have always been international. The third and fourth rings, however, tend to be much more nationally bound (by ownership and by elections) than the first and the second. The inner circle is not static but relatively solid. It builds on financial and social capital often accumulated by former generations (steel industry, banking, weapons, or oil barons). The major source of power is being borne to a family of the inner circle (for example, the Rockefellers, the Rothschilds, the Morgans, the DuPonts, the Vanderbilts, the Agnellis, the Thyssens, and the Krupps, to mention a few) [1].

There are also the nouveaux riches. Names like George Soros, William Gates, Warren Buffet, Marc Zuckerberg, Sheldon Adelson, or the Koch brothers come to mind (Smith, Y. 2013), and the Bush-Clan might also be mentioned here (Bowles, W. 2005);

Russian or Eastern European oligarchs like Alisher Usmanov, Mikhail Chodorkowski, Boris Beresowski, Mikhail Fridman, Rinat Ahmetov, Leonid Mikhelson, Viktor Vekselberg, Andrej Melnichenko, Roman Abramovich; then there are Carlos Slim Helu, Lakshmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani, Jorge Paulo Lemann, Iris Fontbona or Aliko Dangote from the so-called less developed countries.

These parvenus tend to be politically more active, at least on the front stage, than the old rich families: George Soros with his Open Society Foundation and his permanent warnings of the evils of unregulated capitalism is the best known for his liberal leanings, while the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson or Robert Murdoch are aggressively right-wing (Heath, T. 2014; Snyder, M. 2013; Webster, S.C. 2013). The oligarchs of the former Soviet block have almost all grabbed their fortunes during the presidency of Boris Yeltzin who, pathological alcoholic as he was, made room for large scale privatization of state corporations and raw materials after the collapse of the socialist regime. Shock therapy was pushed through under the influence of Western advisors, especially the Harvard privatization program with Jeffrey Sachs as the leading figure, as well the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Jegor Gajdar, Anatoli Tschubais (an oligarch himself) and Alfred Koch [2] were their local executives in Russia (Vaclav Klaus in Czecholovakia, Leszek Balcerowicz in Poland, etc.).

The strategy for the creation of oligarchs and social polarization is easy to understand since it has been practiced by the IMF time and again to this very day as part of their structural adjustment policy (later cynically referred to as "poverty reduction strategy"). What it amounts to is the abolition of all price controls and public subsidies, laying-off civil servants, limiting wages, devaluing currencies, and privatizing public corporations and infrastructure (the so-called Washington Consensus). Widespread poverty is the immediate result, and the other side of the coin is extremely concentrated wealth in just a few hands. If the number of victims multiplied by the gravity of damages done to each of them is used as an indicator, the IMF is certainly the most criminal organization on earth (Chossudovsky, M. 2001).

[Sep 02, 2014] Thoughts on Neoconservatism and Neoliberalism by Hugh

08/19/2012 | Corrente

I got to thinking today about how neocon and neoliberal are becoming interchangeable terms. They did not start out that way. My understanding is they are ways of rationalizing breaks with traditional conservatism and liberalism. Standard conservatism was fairly isolationist. Conservatism's embrace of the Cold War put it at odds with this tendency. This was partially resolved by accepting the Cold War as a military necessity despite its international commitments but limiting civilian programs like foreign aid outside this context and rejecting the concept of nation building altogether.

With the end of the Cold War conservative internationalism needed a new rationale, and this was supplied by the neoconservatives. They advocated the adoption of conservatism's Cold War military centered internationalism as the model for America's post-Cold War international relations. After all, why drop a winning strategy? America had won the Cold War against a much more formidable opponent than any left on the planet. What could go wrong?

America's ability not simply to project but its willingness to use military power was equated with its power more generally. If America did not do this, it was weak and in decline. However, the frequent use of military power showed that America was great and remained the world's hegemon. In particular, the neocons focused on the Middle East. This sales pitch gained them the backing of both supporters of Israel (because neoconservatism was unabashedly pro-Israel) and the oil companies. The military industrial complex was also on board because the neocon agenda effectively countered calls to reduce military spending. But neoconservatism was not just confined to these groups. It appealed to both believers in American exceptionalism and backers of humanitarian interventions (of which I once was one).

As neoconservatism developed, that is with Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons even came to embrace nation building which had always been anathema to traditional conservatism. Neocons sold this primarily by casting nation building in military terms, the creation and training of police and security forces in the target country.

9/11 too was critical. It vastly increased the scope of the neocon project in spawning the Global War on Terror. It increased the stage of neocon operations to the entire planet. It effectively erased the distinction between the use of military force against countries and individuals. Individuals more than countries became targets for military, not police, action. And unlike traditional wars or the Cold War itself, this one would never be over. Neoconservatism now had a permanent raison d'être.

Politically, neoconservatism has become the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. Democrats are every bit as neocon in their views as Republicans. Only a few libertarians on the right and progressives on the left reject it.

Neoliberalism, for its part, came about to address the concern of liberals, especially Democrats, that they were too anti-business and too pro-union, and that this was hurting them at the polls. It was sold to the rubiat has pragmatism.

The roots of neoliberalism are the roots of kleptocracy. Both begin under Carter. Neoliberalism also known at various times and places as the Washington Consensus (under Clinton) and the Chicago School is the political expression for public consumption of the kleptocratic economic philosophy, just as libertarian and neoclassical economics (both fresh and salt water varieties) are its academic and governmental face. The central tenets of neoliberalism are deregulation, free markets, and free trade. If neoliberalism had a prophet or a patron saint, it was Milton Friedman.

Again just as neoconservatism and kleptocracy or bipartisan so too is neoliberalism. There really is no daylight between Reaganism/supply side economics/trickledown on the Republican side and Clinton's Washington Consensus or Team Obama on the other.

And just as we saw with neoconservatism, neoliberalism expanded from its core premises and effortlessly transitioned into globalization, which can also be understood as global kleptocracy.

The distinctions between neoconservatism and neoliberalism are being increasingly lost, perhaps because most of our political classes are practitioners of both. But initially at least neoconservatism was focused on foreign policy and neoliberalism on domestic economic policy. As the War on Terror expanded, however, neoconservatism came back home with the creation and expansion of the surveillance state.

At the same time, neoliberalism went from domestic to global, and here I am not just thinking about neoliberal experiments, like Pinochet's Chile or post-Soviet Russia, but the financialization of the world economy and the adoption of kleptocracy as the world economic model.

jest on

I'm now under the opinion that you can't talk about any of the "neo-isms" without talking about the corporate state.

That's really the tie that binds the two things you are speaking of.

With neocons, it manifests itself through the military-industrial complex (Boeing, Raytheon, etc.), and with neolibs it manifests itself through finance and industrial policy.

For example, you need the US gov't to bomb Iraq (Raytheon) in order to secure oil (Halliburton), which is priced & financed in US dollars (Goldman Sachs). It's like a 3-legged stool; if you remove one of these legs, the whole thing comes down. But each leg has two components, a statist component and a corporate component.

The entity that enables all of this is the corporate state.

It also explains why economic/financial interests (neolib) are now considered national security interests (neocon). The viability of the state is now tied to the viability of the corporation.

lambert on

Corporate/statist (not sure "corporate" captures the looting/rentier aspect though). We see it everywhere, for example in the revolving door.

I think the stool has more legs and is also more dynamic; more like Ikea furniture. For example, the press is surely critical in organizing the war.

But the yin/yang of neo-lib/neo-con is nice: It's as if the neo-cons handle the kinetic aspects (guns, torture) and the neo-libs handle the mental aspects (money, mindfuckery) but both merge (like Negronponte being on the board of Americans Select) over time as margins fall and decorative aspects like democratic institutions and academic freedom get stripped away. The state and the corporation have always been tied to each other but now the ties are open and visible (for example, fines are just a cost of doing business, a rent on open corruption.)

And then there's the concept of "human resource," that abstracts all aspects of humanity away except those that are exploitable.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

jest on

I like the term much better than Fascist, as it is 1) more accurate, 2) avoids the Godwin's law issue, and 3) makes them sound totalitarianist.

Yes, I would agree that additional legs make sense. The media aspect is essential, as it neutralizes the freedom of the press, without changing the constitution. It dovetails pretty well with the notion of Inverted Totalitarianism.

I think you could also make the argument that Obama is perhaps the most ideal combination of neolib & neocon. The two sides of him flow together so seamlessly, no one seems to notice. But that's in part because he is so corporate.

Lex on

Actually, neoliberalism is an economic term. An economic liberal in the UK and EU is for open markets, capitalism, etc. You're right that neoliberalism comes heavily from the University of Chicago, but it has little to do with American political liberalism.

A reading of the classical liberal economists puts some breaks on the markets, corporations, etc. Neoliberalism goes to the illogical extremes of market theory and iirc, has some influence from the Austrian school ... which gives up on any pretense of scientific exposition of economics or rationality at the micro level, assuming that irrationality will magically become rational behavior in aggregate.

Therefore, US conservatives post Eisenhower but especially post Reagan are almost certainly economic neoliberals. Since Clinton, liberals/Democrats have been too (at least the elected ones). You nailed neoconservative and both parties are in foreign policy since at least Clinton ... though here lets not forget to go back as far as JFK and his extreme anti-Communism that led to all sorts of covert operations, The Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Remember, the Soviets put the missiles in Cuba because we put missiles in Turkey and they backed down from Cuba because we agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey; Nikita was nice enough not to talk about that so that Kennedy didn't lose face.

"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Hugh on

I agree that neoconservatism and neoliberalism are two facets of corporatism/kleptocracy. I like the kinetic vs. white collar distinction.

The roots of neoliberalism go back to the 1940s and the Austrians, but in the US it really only comes into currency with Clinton as a deliberate shift of the Democratic/liberal platform away from labor and ordinary Americans to make it more accommodating to big business and big money. I had never heard of neoliberalism before Bill Clinton but it is easy to see how those tendencies were at work under Carter, but not under Johnson.

This was a rough and ready sketch. I guess I should also have mentioned PNAC or the Project to Find a New Mission for the MIC.

Hugh on

I have never understood this love of Clinton that some Democrats have just as I have never understood the attraction of Reagan for Republicans. There is no Clinton faction. There is no Obama faction. Hillary Clinton is Obama's frigging Secretary of State. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, both of whom served as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, were Obama's top financial and economic advisors. Timothy Geithner was their protégé. Leon Panetta Obama's Director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense was Clinton's Director of OMB and then Chief of Staff.

The Democrats as a party are neoconservative and neoliberal as are Obama and the Clintons. As are Republicans.

What does corporations need regulation mean? It is rather like saying that the best way to deal with cancer is to find a cure for it. Sounds nice but there is no content to it. Worse in the real world, the rich own the corporations, the politicians, and the regulators. So even if you come up with good ideas for regulation they aren't going to happen.

What you are suggesting looks a whole lot another iteration of lesser evilism meets Einstein's definition of insanity. How is it any different from any other instance of Democratic tribalism?

Lex on

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the Clintons became fabulously wealthy just after Bill left office, mostly on the strength of his speaking engagements for the financial sector that he'd just deregulated. Both he and Hillary hew to a pretty damned neoconservative foreign policy ... with that dash of "humanitarian interventionism" that makes war palatable to liberals.

But your deeper point is that there isn't enough of a difference between Obama and Bill Clinton to really draw a distinction, not in terms of ideology. What a theoretical Hillary Clinton presidency would have looked like is irrelevant, because both Bill and Obama talked a lot different than they walked. Any projection of a Hillary Clinton administration is just that and requires arguing that it would have been different than Bill's administration and policies.

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that at that level of politics, the levers of money and power work equally well on both party's nomenklatura. They flock to it like moths to porch light.

That the money chose Obama over Clinton doesn't say all that much, because there's no evidence suggesting that the money didn't like Clinton or that it would have chosen McCain over Clinton. It's not as if Clinton's campaign was driven into the ground by lack of funds.

Regardless, that to be a Democrat i would kind of have to chose between two factions that are utterly distasteful to me just proves that i have no business being a Democrat. And since i wouldn't vote for either of those names, i guess i'll just stick to third parties and exit the political tribalism loop for good.

"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

[Aug 13, 2014] America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds by Cheryl K. Chumley

April 21, 2014 | Washington Times

America is no longer a democracy — never mind the democratic republic envisioned by Founding Fathers.

Rather, it has taken a turn down elitist lane and become a country led by a small dominant class comprised of powerful members who exert total control over the general population — an oligarchy, said a new study jointly conducted by Princeton and Northwestern universities.

One finding in the study: The U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen, United Press International reported.

In the study, "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Citizens," researchers compared 1,800 different U.S. policies that were put in place by politicians between 1981 and 2002 to the type of policies preferred by the average and wealthy American, or special interest groups.

Researchers then concluded that U.S. policies are formed more by special interest groups than by politicians properly representing the will of the general people, including the lower-income class.

"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, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence," the study found.

The study also found: "When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose.

Larry -> Scott Richie81

Stop sending billions to Wall Street and the banks. They don't like us either

Richie81 -> optimistic4thefuture

Gangsters in suits

Shari Peterson -> Richie81

What's the difference? Corporatism is still prevalent, war culture, big brother, militarization of our nation, siding with big pharma/big biotech with ridiculous protections, aligning with oil/gas industries. And so on.

Nothing ever changes. Voting doesn't change anything; if it did they wouldn't allow it.

Sarah Goodwich -> Richie81

Neither, the empire fools them into thinking they have power, when they have none. It's called "keeping the people enslaved by making them think they're free."

Rope_Necktie -> adplatt126

The Tea Party certainly accomplished getting you to bad-mouth them, so they must be doing something right.

adplatt126 -> Rope_Necktie

I didn't badmouth the Tea Party here. And I supported some of its initiatives, particularly early on. I was even at the March on Washington. I'm just acknowledging reality, cold, hard reality. The Tea Party changed nothing. That's not bad-mouthing it. That's just a fair assessment.

I understand that there are honest people out there, all over the country, who banded together and believed in America and believed they could change something. But they can't and they didn't. The corporate owned media will crush any true dissent by whatever nefarious means at their disposal. I knew that from the outset.

What the Tea Party fails to acknowledge as of yet, because they are still wedded to misguided notions of American greatness and fail to see the ways in which business can corrupt many thing from honest governance to functioning democracy, all the way down to basic sense and ethics, is that it isn't big government that is the enemy of ordinary Americans, but the entire government and power structure in America. It's our own government that is the real enemy of America and indeed our primary threat.

That should be pretty obvious to anyone not watching cable television. And if anything good about America is to be preserved, the government must go. It's time for Tea Partiers to accept that whatever country they grew up in, well that country is gone, and it's high time to dismantle this totalitarian nightmare once and for all. I'm talking the whole empire. Anyone still harping on R and D, left and right, is behind the times.

A lot like still debating phlogiston. Reality has moved on. It's time for Americans to move on from their conceptions of "America" as well, because this nation has no governmental or for that matter civilizational connection to the America of the past.

The social Marxist value system of the elite class and now the bulk of the citizenry is much closer to that of the Soviet Union than anything America traditionally has been. These are revolutionary times pal.

gobnait -> adplatt126

How could they when they met opposition from their own party, Einstein?

adplatt126 -> gobnait

"From their own party"? You mean the banks, banksters, multi-nationals and criminal thugs that own the country and most of both parties? I thought that was my point. This is tyranny. There's no choice.

adplatt126 -> Dennis

No, many of the prescriptions are BS. But their message is not entirely wrong. This power structure is beyond criminal and this government is beyond tyrannical. It should be immediately dissolved for the good of everyone in the country. They're not wrong that Americans have no say. That's not BS. This paper virtually proves this truth.

Dennis -> adplatt126

"It should be immediately dissolved for the good of everyone in the country" And be replaced by what??? This form of Govt is still the best ,flawed, still the best ..... Fix the problem term limits ,don't allow the politicians to gain wealth while in office, no retirement.... etc

adplatt126 -> Dennis

Nope, not the best. Not even functioning. No democracy remaining really. This government is literally mandating by law social decline on a historic scale. It should be replaced by autonomous, ideally demilitarized regions. An extreme form of federalism perhaps. The key component is that power, military and monetary is completely decentralized. The best way to achieve that is to dissolve the government and permit new currencies and districts to arise organically and by market processes. Local elections need to be instituted so that government can actually be managed instead of doing literally all of the managing, which it's currently doing, and there should be both proportional representation and public referenda to veto dangerous criminal legislation. I could go on, but at the end of the day, the end of the Republic is the beginning of something better. Because it can't get any worse than this government. This government is systemically corrupt. The U.S. is better than nothing. It's a banana republic with tremendous military power and a citizenry as deluded as the perfectly controlled totalitarian nations of old. Which makes it a very scary banana republic. It should be dismantled post haste. It's already turning its weapons and its tactics on its own citizens through paramilitary campaigns and massive psychological operations, not to mention mass surveillance. Dismantle it and do it now.

Dennis -> adplatt126

Dude you might as well go to a far off wilderness and stay off the grid .... as they say Aint happenin...the direction this country is going will change...But all this info of big corporations in control ,which I dont believe, is no different than the 1800-early 1900's when the Hurst. getty's and the tycoon's of that age had influence

adplatt126 -> Dennis

Nonsense. Did Hearst set up a surveillance state rivalling perhaps only the Nazi state apparatus? Did Rockefeller contrive a massive system of thought and speech control like Political Correctness for ensuring everyone accept at all times and completely Lysenkoist propaganda? Did Carnegie let the whole third world flood into the nation and then prevent states from defending themselves from a foreign invasion? Did a mere 17 percent of the American population of the early 20th century believe the Federal Government ruled with the consent of the people?

Over 1100 fat cats went to prison for their role in the crash of '29. In this most recent crash, only one man, one (who turned himself in and confessed ironically) was sentenced. One. The country will not change.

It will only get worse until the power structure that is perpetuating this totalitarian system and insulating itself from its own crimes, is dismantled. Even if it's held up by wealth and historic advantages for a bit, its utter criminality is no less criminal. Nor should anyone for any moment claim that those who speak out against it are merely speaking to themselves or doing so futilely. Besides, it's only futile on television. And the primary purpose of those on television is to deceive the people into thinking an illegitimate government is legitimate, and that any noble resistance to it is madness, silly, insane, hopeless etc.

The pundits serve first the state and its tyrannical designs. In private circles on the other hand, everyone with a head knows something is terribly amiss. They're gradually figuring out how amiss but they don't know what to do about it. I'm providing a rational solution. Secede, resist, dissolve. Do not bow. Do not comply.

Dennis -> adplatt126

you confuse the 2 subjects I said......"But all this info of big corporations in control ,which I don't believe, is no different than the 1800-early 1900's when the Hurst. Getty's and the tycoon's of that age that had influence"...... pertaining to the story. No I dont like what the feds are doing conserning to ILLEGALS and to PC correctness....but again I see the pendulum swinging the other way...... AND from what i read there was no one that went to prison for the 29 crash......"Did anyone go to jail for precipitating the 1929 collapse?

No. The rampant speculation and eventual crash of 1929 weren't caused by fraud or illegality, but by unreasonable optimism and loose financial regulation. Federal prosecutors eventually brought charges against a couple of the era's most important and aggressive bankers, but the lack of pre-existing rules undermined the government's efforts". so it seems that the last crash was from illegal means BUT it was started by the demorats demanding that banks loan to people with bad credit

Richie81 -> Dennis

If you don't believe it than get your head out the sand and pop your lil bubble as well. 6 companies own every single thing you read in a news paper, see on the news and on the web. There is a reason for that. Don't be naive.

Dennis -> Richie81

Again it is no different that before and no one person/group controlled the USA ....... The news agencies have been filled with one type of mindset ,they have refused to hold "their" guy to the standards that was once there ....... No one is digging into the mess that is there like they did with Watergate,,,, Which at that time was really not that big of a story..... until it exploded

Richie81 -> Dennis

Watergate is nothing compared to the things Bush and Obama have done. Read this if you still dont think so.http://www.newscientist.com/ar...

Dennis -> Richie81

Ooh please Bush never harassed the Libs with the IRS he NEVER sold guns to the Cartels ......I'll give you the part of the NDAA.....

Richie81 -> Dennis

Which had nothing to do with terrorist or 9/11 and that war killed 1 million innocent woman and children. The economy also did crash on his watch. One is not better than the other. At the top they are all the same and have the same policies. Thats why Obama has nearly doubled down on all Bush's FAILED policies.

Dennis -> Richie81

I knew that if you talked long enough I would see where you were coming from..... Iraq had wmd's even clinton said so.... the democrats also voted to go into Iraq after hearing the same thing..... 1 million that's BS with a capital ..... you are starting to sound like the Liberal BS talking points.... why don't go further and say that 9-11 was done by Bush ..you know you want to

Richie81 -> Dennis

So because Clintom said so its true? There were no WMD's found in Iraq and that id a fact? If there were please tell me whem and where they were found??? Yes the democrats did too, that should show you right there that at the top Dems and Reps are for the same major policies when it comes to banking, wars and spying.

1 milliom is another fact. It had to do with the sanctions as well. Before you argue you should really do some research. There is a video of a reporter asking Madeline Albright if the killing of these woman and children were worth it and she says yes.

I will tell you this about 9-11, I dont know what happened but I definitely dont believe the official story. Your telling me a guy (OBL) who drove around in trucks with AK47s strapped to the top of them and lives in a bunker in a mountain was able to bypass the greatest military to ever exist and bypasd the most guarded airspace on earth? Now that's a conspiracy if I ever heard one. Don't forget the guys with box cutters too.

Dennis -> Richie81

because "they" didn't find them..... so it means Saddam never had them ...... Great logic..."Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming," Sada said. "They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians.".....you go one believing what you want.... I dont believe in conspiracies....I know OBL did try what 2-3 times to damage the WTC ...he finally found the way to do it ....remember that hijacking and ramming planes into buildings had NEVER been done like that before...... The enemy are the extreme Muslims ...But I have said that ANY muslim will become extreme.....they just need to become a radical believer

Richie81 -> Dennis

He did invade Iraq after 9/11 off of false pretenses.

Richie81 -> Dennis

Flawed??? Are you kidding? It's a disgrace to what this country was founded on. There is a reason the founding fathers had so many quotes about times like these. There is also a reason why they are not taught in schools. They'd rather you pledge allegiance blindly.

Dennis -> Richie81

So what would you replace instead of this Constitution and this form of Government??

Richie81 -> Dennis

I wouldnt replace the constitution. I would re-enforce it line by line. The reason we are in this mess is because we are getting away from what our founding princioles were. To big to fail is fascism not capitalism. Corporations arent people and should not be able to bribe politicians. We should have more choices than just two (Dem&Rep). We need term limits on ALL politicians.

lihartke -> adplatt126

Like ANY NEW political party you will NEVER win every race. Trying to beat out powerful incumbents with the full force of the establishment against you is not an easy task. If you think there are MIRACLE candidates out there you are mistaken. One by one there will be a wedge put in this gov't until they are forced to do the will of the people. Democrats shoved healthcare down our throats when we clearly said no. A leader who is supposed to be representing the people but votes against them should be HUNG. GOD BLESS THE TEA PARTY. You go ahead and be enamored by your party and I will sit and laugh at you as you are told to sit down and shut up while they steal us blind and tell us to eat cake. Enjoy the Empire we have built for them -FOOL.

contrarian35 -> adplatt126

Well, in fairness, the Tea Party had no prayer of meaningful legislation because they held a minority. But they sure did block a lot. I actually believe that the conservatively minded are our last bastion of hope, and hope that they clean sweep the Senate with this election. But believe fundamentally that Soros has a firm rig on the elections, so I am not holding my breath.

And even if they do sweep in, there will still be GOP establishment fighting for big business, so either way, you're looking at a fight. It is not all lost, though, until they have our guns too. And that is not going to be a fight won easily. Of this, I am absolutely sure.

Sarah Goodwich -> Jimtaryon

It makes no difference which despot holds power, it's still despotism.

The USA has been an oligarchy ever since Lincoln, since that's when the People lost their consent to government; and now government holds all the power, since their elected officials aren't bound to obey them; and the People can't do a thing about it other than elect someone ELSE who's not bound to obey them.

But no one will dare fault Lincoln, so we're screwed.

AceTrace -> Sonshine

And look no further than our diabolical Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for that. He's corrupt down to his bone marrow, amassing wealth & power for himself, his family and his cronies. The rest of us be damned.

Richie81 -> AceTrace

All of them are corrupt at the top. From Bush to Obama, they are all the same. It don't matter though, because most American are to naive and will just continue to fight each other over political parties while be screwed and laughed at by both.

Edward98 -> AceTrace

Both parties are in this together.

Richie81 -> Edward98

Yes they both are and its sad to see the left and right bickering at each other instead of their own parties who are actually responsible for all this.

AceTrace -> AceTrace

From the article: "One concluding finding in the study: The U.S. government now represents the rich and powerful, not the average citizen, United Press International reported."

RightWingFoamControl -> Sonshine

Money is being used to undermine all American citizens political power. Congress has gathered so much power that it no longer cares about what the American people want.

Larry Scott -> Sonshine

CONGRESS? your mean that bunch of sycophants on sale to the highest bidder? Neither the right or left can trust them. Maybe if Putin invaded Long Island they could get together long enough to vote something for the USA as they did for Ukrainians. Billions of dollars for them while we taxpayers can't get them to do anything but call each other names.

[Jan 22, 2014] Apocalypse Again The Boom-and-Bust Cycle of Bipartisan Politics

The great irony is that the man who ran on the campaign slogan of Change failed to deliver it in any meaningful way
Truthdig

The Democratic Party has the bad habit of coming on to voters like the neighborhood mafia extortion team. The Democrats have the incurably bad breath of reliably broken promises. They collar and corner us with mobster charm, they pick our pockets while pretending to pick our brains.

Then as the big election day draws near, they lean heavily upon us and whisper an almost romantic confession: "Sure, we spit in your faces and ask you to pretend it's rain. But the other guy is a real brute and would also break your arms."

[Jan 12, 2014] Congress is a Millionaires' Club. Why that Matters...

Economist's View
William of Ockham:

John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

George Washington:
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force.
Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

Thomas Jefferson
"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories."

Thomas Paine
"Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one."

Andrew Jackson
"It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their own selfish purposes."

Thomas Jefferson
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

William of Ockham -> William of Ockham...
When private sector money is allowed to influence government at any level you have a tremendous potential for corruption.

Patriots who loves their country must to rise to end this dispicable realtionship between the private sector and government. If the Government refuses to end this dispicable practice then the goverment must be defeated and a new one appointed of the people, by the people and for the people.

Amen

plus.google.com/102534266379291948922:

Back in the 70's, my father (twice) attempted to run for Congress. We were living in Scranton, Pa....

NEITHER party apparatus (R or D) would even entertain him running against the well-entrenched Joseph McDade. After all, my dad was just a modestly successful business man and had few political connections.

He ran as an independent (I), garnering less than 2% of the vote after spending nearly $50k of his own money (no small amount for our family, I assure you). Not only that, business suffered for a few years afterward. Lesson learned.

Many have said this: "We sure do E-lect our leaders but we don't get to SE-lect our leaders."

Larry Signor:

What is unexpected about Nicholas Carnes study? Political power breeds wealth, wealth enhances political power. The cumulative effect is a lack of political and economic representation for a plurality of Americans. This dovetails into most of our economic stories today: SNAP, UI, the attack on SS, the minimum wage, immigration, EITC and block grants, etc.

Next Poliarchy Bulletin, 2013

Recommended Links

Softpanorama Top Visited

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Oligarchy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Iron law of oligarchy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Recommended Books

The Myth of the Rational Voter Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (New Edition) (9780691138732) Bryan Caplan Books

polyarchy participation and opposition - Robert Alan Dahl - Google Books

Promoting polyarchy Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge Studies in International Relations) by William I. Robinson Also at Google Books.

by

polyarchy Participation and Opposition Robert A. Dahl Amazon.com Books




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Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

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Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

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The Last but not Least


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