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Imagine you lived in a country where there was a pretense of democracy; elections were still held, congress still sat down and debated legislation, and politicians continued to make rousing populist speeches—only it was all just for show. In truth, the nation was run, not just by a very small number of people, but for an even smaller number. Got that? Now, think about what happens if that very small number of people aren't representative of a broad spectrum of views, but are entirely composed of people with very similar social positions and very similar goals. That's not just a democracy in peril. That's not a democracy.

Now go to the window and greet this country.

Lawrence Lessig's new TED talk starts off in the fictional semi-democracy of Lesterland, then, with statistics that are no less shocking for their familiarity, reminds us that this land of the few, by the few, for the few is the land we call home. Worried about the 1 percent? Don't be. Worry about the 0.05 percent. That's the percentage of Americans who maxed out their contribution to any political candidate in the last election. Or the 0.01 percent who made contributions of $10,000 or more. That's the number of Americans who actually show up on the radar of politicians. But those are only flyspecks on the screen. Save your real worry for the 0.000042 percent. That's 132 people. Those 132 people provided 60 percent of all the money that ended up in Super PACs.  

If you're a politician, and you spend between 30 and 70 percent of your time begging for funds for the next election cycle, as American politicians do ... who you gonna call?

Come inside and find out why things are both worse, and better, than they seem.

There's no doubt that when politicians spend most of their time, literally most of their time, talking to the same small group of people, asking those people to hand over cash, it leads to corruption. It's not necessarily a direct road to evil, but corruption? That's a given. It's certainly not democracy.

And it's not just the funding that drives elections which causes this inevitable de-democratization. For most of those in political office, it's just a stepping stone to a more lucrative career. That career? Working directly for that same small group of people to influence the next round of politicians as lobbyists. Politicians are not just dependent on the 0.000042 percent for the money they get now. Pleasing those people determines the size of the paycheck they'll get once they decide to "spend more time with their family."  So how willing to cross these folks do you expect them to be?

The correlation between money and power isn't perfect, and yes, it can be amusing to see the Koch brothers or Karl Rove burn up enough dollars to stretch between Earth and Saturn (okay, not quite, but darn near to the Moon), but even when the best funded candidate doesn't win, it doesn't mean that the winning candidate isn't still twisted around the pinkies of folks in that same small club.

Lessig's talk is snappy, hard-hitting, and make a compelling case that no matter what you think the most important issue is, you're just not going to get it until this problem is addressed. Like many pundits, Lessig feels a need to decorate his speech with a bit of "both sides do it" (in this case, saying that real small government Republicans are also losers because the system provides little incentive for politicians to let go of the levers that give them some power over the money men) without owning up to the fact that the left (otherwise known as the positions, economic well-being, and security of a large majority of Americans) takes the brunt of the damage in this rich get richer system. Why is there no pressure from the right for this kind of reform? Because the system as it is rewards the right.

Even so, Lessig's arguments are entertaining, his facts sobering, and his ultimate position—that this problem is far from insurmountable—is cheering. Being told you're living in an ex-republic is not fun, but the path back to democracy might not be as stony as those who benefit from the current system want you to think.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I'm 63, From Hudson County NJ (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, mikejay611

      So I totally understand, in a bi-partisan way; to add to the mix, about the everyday person being the ones funding politicians who don't have their best interests at heart.

      It is a form of corruption; but legal, like a ponzi/pyramid scheme. The money funnels up from small donators who hope for favors when it trickles back down to them.Good luck with that.  

      Note To The gop
      No man's error becomes his own Law, nor obliges him to persist in it. Thomas Hobbs
      For ♥All My Friends In New Jersey, New York♥ And Everywhere♥

      Or; It Ain't Over, Till It's Over. Stop spectra natural gas [transportation] pipeline!

      The only thing dangerous about us; was, that we really knew how to annoy the establishment. That's where I learned how to do it. And Kossacks. I learn a lot from Kossacks.

      Video is loud. You may want to turn sound down.

      Rec'd And Tipped.

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:24:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  as an ardent fighter for single-payer financing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Puddytat, mikejay611, alice kleeman

      I am torn. This should probably be the primary issue I should be forwarding the solutions to. But if this is not your primary issue, it should be the secondary issue for all of us.

    •  take back the money (36+ / 0-)

      Ike's tax rates--including inheritance and corporate tax.  Make lobbying non tax deductible.  Cap on political spending--equal to $x/voters in last election cycle.  No PACs.
      One other suggestion--from left field.  Cloture votes in the Senate should be a secret ballot.

      Apres Bush, le deluge.

      by melvynny on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:20:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And the strategy (11+ / 0-)

        ...for putting the bell on that cat is....

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:29:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Vote! (11+ / 0-)

          :)

          See my sigs.

          Really, wtf are we doing here, folks.

          What's the point of letting neoliberals into the tent when neoliberalism is burning down the campground?
          Since elections will never change the ownership of government, why does our strategy rely entirely upon them?

          by Words In Action on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:35:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Am really asking myself that... (12+ / 0-)
            Really, wtf are we doing here, folks.

            What's the point of letting neoliberals into the tent when neoliberalism is burning down the campground?
            Since elections will never change the ownership of government, why does our strategy rely entirely upon them?

            Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

            by divineorder on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:38:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The Early Warnings I missed (11+ / 0-)

            At the Hamilton Project 2006

            It’s not long, it touches most of the bases, and tells you all you need to know about how Barack Obama would govern.
            I’m going to color code the transcript using the same scheme I used for Obama’s inaugural (here; here), with one new category:

            Blank screen: Placeholder material onto which the audience may project what they like. The phrase comes from Obama’s famous remark in the preface of the second of his two autobiographies: “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

            If I had seen this before 2008 the chances are that I would not have been bamboozled.    I believe it was in September 2012 at the University of Washington when Obama told us his personal preference was to raise the Cap.  A master of deceit.
          •  Still doesn't answer the strategy question (28+ / 0-)

            A primary electoral strategy has to go for a general election win in order to be successful.  A third party general election strategy has to go for a win instead of "sending a message".  Progressives have failed at organization on both of these.  If they are to be realistic strategies progressives must do better.

            If conservatives have a demographic disadvantage, progressives have a geographic disadvantage.  Progressive strength is in too few Congressional districts or legislative districts nationwide to have significant effect in the short term.  And there are too many places in the US in which conservatives are never opposed rhetorically because of progressive aversion to conflict or fear of intimidation.  The gerrymandering of districts is a problem only to the extent it amplifies the geographical disadvantage that is already there.

            We have to move beyond snark to developing real strategies that are independent of the Democratic Party, but which might on occasion involve the Democratic establishment as part of a coalition.

            That means that not disdaining electoral strategies but being clear of their limitations.  And IMO focusing on electoral strategies closer to the grassroots-local, county, state legislative offices.

            But electoral strategy must be a minor part of overall progressive strategy, which must go to broadenin the geographical base of progressives so that the default statement of folks who are apolitical is not "Conservative, I guess." but "Progressive, I guess."

            50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

            by TarheelDem on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:43:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Best comment. Because it is reality (11+ / 0-)

              based, it likely will be ignored for pretend -revolution.  This problem has existed for  a long time.  Neither the third party route nor the better democrat route has truly been successful.  Nor did occupying parks change America.  So long as the media found it interesting, inequality became an issue, but that faded as usual.  We have ways of  "sending a message, " but not of winning. More fun,  however,  to do outrage on a blog for many.  Yours is the best comment I have read here in a while.

              Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

              by TomP on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:13:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I agree with the "best comment" remark... (8+ / 0-)

              And here is the best phrase in the best comment:

              "...to developing real strategies that are independent of the Democratic Party, but which might on occasion involve the Democratic establishment as part of a coalition."

              "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

              by Bisbonian on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:41:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  It took about 30 years for "Conservative, I guess" (7+ / 0-)

              to become the firmament that distracts people from reacting en masse to the government running fully to the 1%'s cause.

              As mentioned in a diary earlier this week, if we live and speak in liberal+progressive terms while disrespecting the now-assumed conservative+libertarian societal values i this country, we start to take back the idea that things are fine so long as more money and power rise to the top, I feel.

              One person, one group of acquaintances, one community at a time.  I haven't let conservative or libertarian assumptions or even jokes get by in real life interactions without simply showing how they don't apply to real life, for years.  None of the people I know in person beyond a glance at our kids' school functions will talk to me in a manner that assumes the status quo makes sense, today.

              "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

              by wader on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:46:44 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  How about an amendment to the constitution to (3+ / 0-)

              end the outsized influence of the one percent.Public financing of all elections is the only solution I see to form a government responsive to the average voter.I see this as a logical step up for Occupy. We could make it a populist 50 state campaign.

              Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? William O. Douglas

              by GayHillbilly on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 04:12:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Are you suggesting (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                GayHillbilly

                ...an action of state legislatures to go around Congress in order to get a Constitutional amendment through Convention?  Exactly how do you deal with a Congress that is invested in not changing the system of corruption?

                50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

                by TarheelDem on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:19:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Maybe congresspersons would (0+ / 0-)

                  appreciate not spending an inordinate amount of time begging for money.

                  Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? William O. Douglas

                  by GayHillbilly on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:21:50 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  We did vote. (6+ / 0-)

            And here we are.

            "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

            by Bisbonian on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:38:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Better and More Democrats (4+ / 0-)

          Duh!

          We know that demographics and generational change are firmly on our side, to the point where the continuing existence of the Republican Party is strongly in doubt. We know that we still have a voting gap, where there are more of us in the population, but fewer of us vote, in large part because it is a long-running Republican strategy to convince Democrats and especially Progressives that their vote doesn't matter.

          Also Ralph Nader, Boo, Hiss!

          The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That's the only difference.
          A typical Thoreau
          man of one idea, like a hen with one chick, and that a duckling.
          That means that the key to taking back the House, reforming the filibuster, breaking the gerrymanders, and dispensing with the Blue Dogs is GOTV, GOTV, GOTV. As in the Battleground Texas plan to turn Texas into a swing state, and then a Blue state. We also need the states that Barack Obama won in 2008, including North Carolina and Indiana. Given the established average 1% annual shift in public opinion on most issues (more on LGBT rights lately, less but still some on abortion), and the accelerating Republican descent into ever more vicious denial and intransigence, that will happen in the next decade.

          Also at some point most probably within the next decade the President, most probably a Democrat, will get to appoint replacements for Supreme Court Justices Scalia and Kennedy, making the court balance 6-3 for sanity.

          Then we will be able to pass and sustain legislation reining in the imperial Too-Big-To-Jail/Too-Big-To-Exist corporations, and to talk about real public funding for elections. Not the nickel-and-dime systems that everybody opts out of now, but something big enough to counter corporate money.

          Also, the conversation will shift to the differences between the Democratic and Progressive agendas, not how far Democrats have to bend over to accommodate the tyrannical minority.

          There is historical precedent for all of this in the Era of Good Feeling, of one-party rule by Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party after the implosion of the corporate, big-money Federalists.

          Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

          by Mokurai on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:51:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Good luck with that. Since Congress=bootlicks, (14+ / 0-)

        it's never gonna happen.

        My favorite solution would be to flood the system with public money. The best proposal I have seen is to give every voting age citizen a yearly $100 credit that can only be 'spent' as a political contribution to any candidate or candidates you like.

        This would flood the system with so much money that even the Koch brothers couldn't make a dent. Our craven Congress-critters would no longer be chained to their corporate masters because they wouldn't need their money anymore.

      •  Elaborate, please (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pescadero Bill
        Cloture votes in the Senate should be a secret ballot.

        When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day? George Carlin

        by msmacgyver on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:36:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Agree, but-who would change the current laws?... (10+ / 0-)

        Unfortunately, it's the same people whose votes are currently being influenced by the "132 people who provide 60% of the PAC funding".  Those 132 people have no interest or desire to change the status quo, and no doubt have shared their preferences with the lawmakers they fund.

        Most of us want to see the "One person" one vote, or even "One Person, One Dollar One Vote" rather than the current system where the status quo seems to be more skewed to the One Dollar, One Vote system.  For example, re: Bush tax cuts for wealthy:

        ...repeal is supported by 56% and opposed by only 36%...

        ...American politicians are powerfully affected by the views of the rich, and this has nothing to do with any recent electoral trends.

        Rather, as the chart on the right shows, things have been this way for a long time. Using data from voting records in the early 90s, it shows that the responsiveness of senators to the views of the poor and working class is....zero. Or maybe even negative. And that's true for both parties. The middle class does better — again, with both parties — and high earners do better still. In fact, they do spectacularly better among Republican senators. And this disparity has almost certainly gotten even worse over the past two decades...

        ...This is the shape of American politics. If your income is low..politicians simply don't care. If you're middle class they care a little more. But if you're rich, then they really, really care...  

        The real problem is how to make the politicians currently in office, (the ones who "really really care" about what the "rich people" want, but who "don't care" what the non-wealthy people/voters want) vote for legislation that limits the rich people's campaign donations and PAC donations to put the rich on an equal footing with the middle class and poor.

      •  Who exactly is going to do all of that? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        shaharazade, countwebb, mightymouse

        Certainly not the people who got by the "Lestors" or the "funders"!

        Isn't that the problem? I listened to his hopeful close . It certainly sounded good. But  right before it he conflated the love of country to the love of family by using the example of his son having inoperable Brain Cancer.

        What he didn't address was the incredible divide in the country that has either occurred as a outgrowth of this or by design. Until people find common cause, then the situation, the status quo ; will be the same.

        “ Success has a great tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil of men. ” — Demosthenes

        by Dburn on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:55:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Civil war (4+ / 0-)

      nt

      Yes, I am psychic...or was that psycho? I always forget which.

      by Farradin on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:30:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Constitutional Convention (18+ / 0-)
      And the solution is...??
      1.  Limit the terms of the SCOTUS

      2.  Popular Democracy (get rid of the electoral college)

      3.  Publicly funded elections.

      4.  Fix the Senate (no more silent holds;  have real filibusters; lower the thresh-hold it takes to overcome a filibuster)

       

      This space for rent -- Cheap!

      by jds1978 on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:56:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Kevskos, Klusterpuck

        But how do you force a constitutional convention to happen and will the politicians pay any attention to the outcome?

        "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

        by noofsh on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:11:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  2/3rds of the state legislatures must ask for one (4+ / 0-)
          But how do you force a constitutional convention to happen and will the politicians pay any attention to the outcome?
          They have to, or the courts will remove them.

          The first step is to stop pretending that the Founders were all knowing geniuses.  After all, in the original version slavery was essentially codified into the the Constitution.  Less than a century later, the US was almost destroyed by a war b/c of their actions.

          Poll any knowledgeable political scientist and they will tell you that the US Constitution is not a model for emerging democracies.

          This space for rent -- Cheap!

          by jds1978 on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:27:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As Jackson said... (0+ / 0-)

            "Mr. Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it!"

            The Supreme Court has no standing army, nothing more than a few bailiffs.  It was unable to bend a president to follow its decisions; you think it's going to do any better against Congress?

        •  Constitutional convention? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lying eyes, Bisbonian, kayak58

          How do you keep it from allowing Congress to criminalize desecrating the flag? How do you keep it from otherwise pandering to the criminal justice industry?
          How do you keep it from redefining marriage as the union of one man and one woman?

          Censorship is rogue government.

          by scott5js on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:47:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Whatever comes out of the Convention must (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chi, Simplify
            How do you keep it from allowing Congress to criminalize desecrating the flag? How do you keep it from otherwise pandering to the criminal justice industry?
            How do you keep it from redefining marriage as the union of one man and one woman?
            ....pass 4/5th of the states or it's a 'do over'

            This space for rent -- Cheap!

            by jds1978 on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:30:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  All valid concerns. It's a huge can of worms. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chi, jds1978, Simplify, Klusterpuck

            But the current path is a dead end.

            "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

            by Bisbonian on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:45:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Wir sind nicht in Deutschland (0+ / 0-)

            Germany got its Grundgesetz (Fundamental Law) because it had to start over from scratch and had to live some things down. It could draw upon the experience of many other countries with their constitutions. It adopted something of a hybrid of the French and American constitutions and the British system. It has a good constitution, but not a perfect one. No such animal.
            We Americans do not have proportional representation, and it would be very hard to graft onto this country. We do not have a provision that any vote of confidence must include the nomination of a new flesh-and-blood chancellor. After all, we do not have a parliamentary form of government.
            Thank goodness we do not have an emergency powers clause like in the Weimar constitution, although George W. Bush seemed to believe in a Living Constitution that implied emergency powers for him in case of an attack on the World Trade Center or a fire in the Reichstag.
            What I hear people yelling "we need a new system" I feel like asking, "Doesn't the German Grundgesetz require that if you raise a vote of confidence you must name a successor?"

            Censorship is rogue government.

            by scott5js on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 12:36:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Press freedom in USA (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GayHillbilly

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            This country ranks behind 31 countries (including Finland, Germany, UK, and Czech Republic) and just ahead of Lithuania.
            Are you satisfied?

            Censorship is rogue government.

            by scott5js on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 02:10:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  And where do the representatives to (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DarkestHour

        this constitutional convention come from? The system of elections is the problem, there's no way to have a Constitutional Convention without somehow electing representives, so that's not really a solution. If we could elect an honest Constitutional Convention, we could just as easily elect an honest Congress.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:24:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not so sure having an election for..... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi

          ....Conventionists would be the ideal solution.  You will need a broad swath of people:  Lawyers, scholars, experts in political science and bureaucrats.  With an election, you will basically have a lot of lawyers and a few political celebrities

          Each state would have to work out the best way to pick it's representatives....give them a year to decide.

          I would put everything on the table at the convention....up to and including the peaceable break up of the US

          This space for rent -- Cheap!

          by jds1978 on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:33:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  5. Put a doorstop in the revolving (13+ / 0-)

        Door between congress and K street.  A permanent moratorium on government employees moving to lobbying jobs.  And a moratorium on the revolving door between the regulatory agencies and the industries they're supposed to regulate.
        Might I point out that most of these necessary laws can also be implemented at the state level.  It's a place to start.

        •  I think this is a good step, but... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          socindemsclothing

          who is going to honestly implement this policy?  My State, Michigan, is essentially owned lock, stock, and barrel by monied interests, with the legislators willing to hawk off our feet to make any extra cash.  Engler brought us to our knees and Snyder's making off with our feet.  

          "You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind." -Morpheus, The Matrix

          by Sarenth on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 11:57:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And the delegates to a Constitutional Convention (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bisbonian, mightymouse

        would be different from the current crop of politicians…how?

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:54:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Stop trying to influence elections (12+ / 0-)

      with our checkbooks, start trying to mobilize people through the things we have more of--our time, our passion, our ability to connect with people personally.  Person-to-person contact is more powerful than ads.  And if the structures are created to both put people in office that way--permanent structures that rely on people power not money power--they can also be used to track and monitor what officials do when in office.  When this happens, it will be possible for officials to chose not to seek big money if they don't want to. Now, even the most well intentioned member of Congress has no choice. The other thing this approach can be used to do is to democratize the states, including removing voting barriers and public funding. This is an important first step, as doing this is easier than democratizing at the national level.

      All of this requires rejecting the idea that the parties and the media get to determine the agenda: what we seek, and the terms of the debate. It also means rejecting the notion that politicians are our allies and that their fate should be our first concern.  They will respect us only when they fear and loath us.

      Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity. Notes on a Theory

      by David Kaib on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:03:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep. There is no way we "little people," often (11+ / 0-)

        already struggling, can compete with the deep pockets opposed—even with our few deep pocket allies.

        I've also noted another phenomenon. All this "sign the petition" stuff, including from this site, is just flooding my mailbox with "donate, donate, donate, just three (or 5, 10, 100) dollars" because some TP/GOP idiot said something or some whack job might be a candidate somewhere a thousand miles from me. As a result I've shut down, unsubscribed, made scripts to send them the same place

        This is to inform you that this AUTHORITY has precedence over your WINNING Fund and as such is totally in control of all winners seeking  for immediate settlement in various Security Companies and Trust Clearing . . .
        this goes.

        Costs and helping my adult kids who aren't as secure as I was limits me to very judicious use of my pockets and that is limited exclusively to my local elections. Sorry, I can't help you in Deep Redland no matter how I feel for you and us suffering from idiots sent from those villages to pollute my Beltway area.

        Nope! I gotta depend on you in the precincts out there to kill these critters' political lives in the crib and to snuff out the larvae in the state house and the adult forms in Congress—by your vote.

        And there lies the problem and solution. No amount of deep pocket, devious, corrupting cash can buy anyone's vote unless they are asleep, village idiots themselves or just don't get involved. That cash "buys" sound bites and glittery door hangers and little rallies that the gullible fish bite on hard. That is the problem. The solution? Each of us has to do, within ourselves, families and limited circle of contacts, what we can to nullify those glittery baits funded by true enemies of our republic, those that seek to become the oligarchy of a big and powerful banana republic.

        Then, and only then, when an alert and dedicated citizenry votes out the subversive agents of those deep pocketed bait trollers can we begin taking back America for ordinary people of good will.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:22:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This! Thank you for noting that that parties (5+ / 0-)

        Are in it up to their necks.  The parties are one enforcement mechanism to encourage/require congress critters to spend so much of their time fund raising.  Congressional chairmen are required to raise even more $$ than backbenchers., to flow not only into their own campaign coffers, but into the party coffers to be distributed to the reelection campaigns of other good little fund raisers.

        We can help break this cycle.  Do you know who is on your county party board?  It's usually a small group of people who keep the county level parties running.  It's often pretty easy to join/replace them.  Get local help, and take over your county party.  That puts you in position to have some influence on who your local and state candidates are, and to recruit people to knock on doors to help you get those folks elected on a platform of getting the money out.  And your door knockers don't ask for donations, the ask for a few hours of time.

    •  We've done it before. (6+ / 0-)

      Study the late 19th century through FDR.

      •  Teddy R. & FDR were anomalies. Who was the (11+ / 0-)

        plutocrat who said Teddy wouldn't "stay bought" & was originally an accidental President whom the plutocrats had made VP to get him out of any position of real power.

                 FDR was, famously, a "traitor to his class" who started out with conventional economic ideas before being convinced to take "radical steps"--e.g., going off gold standard.  And both were reacting to protect the establishment from threats from the left--William Jennings Bryan and the Populists for Teddy and the socialists, Communists, Huey Long, Dr. Townsend, etc. for FDR.  LBJ had MLK & the civil rights movement pushing him  

                PBO has had no threat from the left because the American left has been totally ineffectual since 1972, except for electing The Shrub in 2000; and progressives will remain totally ineffectual as long as they keep supporting "liberal" Republicans like PBO and Hilary.

        "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

        by Oliver St John Gogarty on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:50:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Many countries (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alice kleeman

        have done it before. If we study what countries have done this an how, then we may be able to replicate the successful strategies.

        If we abandon our allies and their issues, who will defend us and ours?

        by Bryce in Seattle on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 02:59:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Lessig supports (4+ / 0-)

      The Grant and Franklin Project as a solution.  Which gives every American some amount of money, around 50 dollars,  which they can donate to candidates.

      Its part of the American Anti Corruption Bill, which he helped create.  

    •  And the SOLUTION is structural and easy: (0+ / 0-)

       

      SOLUTION:  To get out of this plutocracy, we need to do two things:

          1.  Reclaim the election tabulation process:  Stop letting corporations tally our votes in back rooms.  We need to tally our votes at the precinct level with local witnesses--just like we used to do.  (In other words, stop centralized vote tabulation in back rooms by rogue-able software, which makes it one-stop shopping for thuggery.)  

          2.  Vote Money out of Political Pockets:  If we want these folks to work for us, we have to be their breadwinner.

      Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

      by Einsteinia on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:51:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We live in a banana republic (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, Sarenth, alice kleeman, Klusterpuck

      And this banana republic is controlled by Banana Republicans because Democrats have surrendered and refuse to fight.

  •  Baucus (25+ / 0-)
    To make their case as Congress prepares to debate a rewrite of the nation’s tax code, this diverse set of businesses has at least one strategy in common: they have retained firms that employ lobbyists who are former aides to Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which will have a crucial role in shaping any legislation.
    NYTimes  

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:15:09 AM PDT

  •  This isn't the most important issue (39+ / 0-)

    but it has to be the first issue or none of the others matter, to paraphrase Mr. Lessig.

    This is also why Democrats abandoned their traditional roots to pander for money while pretending they haven't abandoned their traditional roots.

    If we don't figure out a way to control or eliminate the pernicious effect of money in our obviously broken system, the best that 99% of us can hope for are Republican-lite DLC centrists like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama deregulating and cutting the New Deal to the great delight of Republicans - who can then run as the defenders of the social safety net.

    Bizarre doesn't begin to describe it.
     

    "The philosophy of conservatism is inevitably doomed by its adherents' willingness to accept bluster as a sign of character and thick-headed devotion to meaningless symbols as sign of moral fiber." (Albert Einstein)

    by Jim R on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:16:25 AM PDT

    •  why (10+ / 0-)

      As union power dissipated, Dems needed to play the money game in order to compete.  I always date this to the PATCO strike.  Put another way, we got soft, "they" got emboldened.

      Apres Bush, le deluge.

      by melvynny on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:26:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They needed (9+ / 0-)

        to play the money game like a suicidal person needs a plan.

        It was all downhill from there, and will continue to be so until the centrists pull back from the teat and wake up to the matrix that is slowly but most assuredly killing them and the rest of us, including their children.

        What's the point of letting neoliberals into the tent when neoliberalism is burning down the campground?
        Since elections will never change the ownership of government, why does our strategy rely entirely upon them?

        by Words In Action on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:39:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  democracy (8+ / 0-)

          We will have some semblance of democracy when we have countervailing powers--when unions get strong, measured by membership, money, and STRIKES.  Right now, what unions we have, for the most part, beg--not fight--for benefits and conditions.  Playing nice is the same as playing dead.

          Apres Bush, le deluge.

          by melvynny on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:02:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Gandhi didn't play nice, neither did MLK (9+ / 0-)

            Non-violence is not impotence.  Action against profit or property is a form of non-violence.

            Gandhi's Salt March is a good example of this.  It was a strike not just against an unjust law, but against the profit-making ability of the British in India.

            Mass civil disobedience spread throughout India as millions broke the salt laws by making salt or buying illegal salt. Salt was sold illegally all over the coast of India. A pinch of salt made by Gandhi himself sold for 1,600 rupees (equivalent to $750 at the time). In reaction, the British government arrested over sixty thousand people by the end of the month.

            What had begun as a Salt Satyagraha quickly grew into a mass Satyagraha. British cloth and goods were boycotted. Unpopular forest laws were defied in the Maharashtra, Carnatic, and Central Provinces. Gujarati peasants refused to pay tax, under threat of losing their crops and land. In Midnapore, Bengalis took part by refusing to pay the chowkidar tax. The British responded with more laws, including censorship of correspondence and declaring the Congress and its associate organizations illegal. None of those measures slowed the civil disobedience movement.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/...

            Tell me what to write. tellmewhattowrite.com 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

            by rbird on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:17:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Who was it who called non-violent resistance (5+ / 0-)

              "moral jujitsu"?  It's from from passive or "nice." However, while it's good for stopping a war or obvious injustice--such as British colonialism or legally-enshrined American apartheid--IMO, it's difficult to sustain long enough to effect structural changes in less blatant injustices in economic and/or political power.  For the latter, some institutional base is needed, and the most obvious (only feasible?) base for progressive change in America has been almost fatally weakened over the last 60 years -- unions.  There IS a reason, after all, why American plutocrats have always hated them so much.

              "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

              by Oliver St John Gogarty on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:18:50 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  One sided trade agreements (8+ / 0-)

            that allow companies to pit American workers against third world competition making $1 per hour, along with the sorry state of labor law enforcement, have led to a situation where striking will get you permanently replaced--not fired, mind you, that would be illegal--and refusing to accept pay cuts will get your job sent to Malaysia.

            "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

            by happy camper on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:59:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I date it to Buckley in 76' (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Superpole, NoMoreLies, TomP, Klusterpuck

        when "he who has the gold makes the rules" became the law of the land.

        "The philosophy of conservatism is inevitably doomed by its adherents' willingness to accept bluster as a sign of character and thick-headed devotion to meaningless symbols as sign of moral fiber." (Albert Einstein)

        by Jim R on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:39:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  date (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mokurai

          You could go back to the Voting Rights Act--great legislation --but it destroyed the guarantee of Electoral votes from the South.  Ended up empowering bigoted Republicans and encouraged Dem whoring.

          Apres Bush, le deluge.

          by melvynny on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:27:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Government officials can't strike (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jim R, Sarenth

        However all those ex-miitary leaders, "gentlemen by act of congress" and academia,  sitting in the cockpits of the airliners showed where their sympathies lay, with the upper classes.

        With leadership like that we are going down fast. My union local in Tulsa campaigned against right to work in Oklahoma. One fairly influential Demo state rep who voted for RTW when asked said that of the identified calls received from members this union local, 50% were not registered to vote and of those registered 60% were registered as Republican. He could draw his conclusions as to which way he would loose the next election. He did get re-elected.

      •  It actually dates to Taft-Hartley, which marked (10+ / 0-)

        the turning point in the development of the U.S. union movement, sort of like the point in a medieval tragedy where the position of the hero on the Wheel of Fortune both reaches its apogee and starts its downward plunge.  PATCO was possible only because the process started by Taft-Hartley had already weakened the power of unions so much.  It is one of the most pernicious pieces of legislation ever passed by Congress that is still in effect.

        "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

        by Oliver St John Gogarty on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:58:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Excellent point (0+ / 0-)

          and this one of the first things Republicans passed after being banished to the wilderness because of the Republican Great Depression and their efforts against any steps to mitigate its effects.

          "The philosophy of conservatism is inevitably doomed by its adherents' willingness to accept bluster as a sign of character and thick-headed devotion to meaningless symbols as sign of moral fiber." (Albert Einstein)

          by Jim R on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 12:34:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It has become explicit in the past two years... (7+ / 0-)

        ...that Republican attempts to weaken labor unions are very much about weakening the Democratic party's organizational and financial base.

        At the state level, the Republicans haven't even pretended that this isn't a major motivation in their union busting activities.

        Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

        by TexasTom on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:42:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's the most important structural issue (9+ / 0-)

      without which the truly important issues can't be solved.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:28:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Part of the problem: the people in that room (28+ / 0-)

      the cost of attending at TED conference is ridiculous, and the reason I bring that up is because the people who are in that room are benefitting from the system as it is, like it or not. They get to listen to a lot of liberal words that make them feel good, and smart, but they have a vested interest in the system as it is.

      Furthermore, the well to do and smart people who can attend TED conferences can treat themselves to these kinds of intellectual treats. Meanwhile most of the country is still watching American Idol, or the Voice, or other forms of "reality" TV.

      It struck me recently, going to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, at an admission cost of $25, and facing the cost of college tuition for my kid, that the finer things in life, not just food, housing, fine wine, etc., but also education, art, intellectual discussion, and so forth, are becoming more and ever more the provenance of the well to do. And that in itself is a serious problem of the 1% as well.

      In order for this to work, it has to be communicated, but the forces are even more aligned  against that type of communication.

      I feel like the woman who responded to Prof. Lessig after his first talk.

      Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

      by stitchmd on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:08:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  FDR and cousin TR were of the 1% (6+ / 0-)

        and there are increasing hopeful signs of at least a small portion of the 1% that not only recognize the morally bankrupt nature of our current system, but its long term deleterious effects on our country and ultimately the 1% as well.

        At least that's what I'm hanging my hat on since I'm too old to consider another country at this point.

        "The philosophy of conservatism is inevitably doomed by its adherents' willingness to accept bluster as a sign of character and thick-headed devotion to meaningless symbols as sign of moral fiber." (Albert Einstein)

        by Jim R on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:24:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  democracy is still here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Whatithink, Lying eyes

        Because democracy will always reflect those things we truly value, not those things we say we value.  If we value television, and popularity, and people  being rich, then those are the things democracy will reflect.  Many in this country think they can be rich, think they can win the game, so many want laws that will favor them when they get there.  If we saw value in museums or culture those would be funded.

        The mistake is that thinking that democracy will yield a utopia where everyone is equal and everyone is fed and everyone is focused on european culture.  That an educated person is so naive as to believe this is beyond me.  Democracy is here to make sure the people have some voice in the process.  Money was thrown at Romney and Obama is president.  Even conservative states have liberal representatives.  We have one of the most diverse legislators ever.  

        And lets add one small thing to 'money is always anti democracy'.  Due to philanthropy of often conservative rich people I have been able to do many things that I think makes me a better citizen.  The opera, ballet, symphony is very cheap where I live.  The family memberships to museums and zoo are under $100 for a family.  A top ranked museum is free.  I see people like Maya Angelou for less than $100.  All this is expensive, but really, if I don't spend all my money on beer and chips and movies, then there is plenty for these other activities, provided by rich people to help provide an educated and cultured population.  If we only choose to take advantage of it.

      •  An inevitable feature of increasing inequality (9+ / 0-)
        It struck me recently, going to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, at an admission cost of $25, and facing the cost of college tuition for my kid, that the finer things in life, not just food, housing, fine wine, etc., but also education, art, intellectual discussion, and so forth, are becoming more and ever more the provenance of the well to do. And that in itself is a serious problem of the 1% as well.
        Really, the massive inflation in the cost of items and activities consumed by the truly wealthy is an inevitable feature of the massive concentration of wealth and income at the very top.  We've also seen it take the form of massive inflation in the value of the sort of assets that the very wealthy acquire (ie, cost of housing in places like Manhattan).  After all, there is an ever-increasing amount of money at the top that is chasing a limited supply of extreme luxury goods (not so-called "aspirational luxury" goods), high end real estate, business and investment opportunities, cultural activities, etc.  

        I suspect that if one could calculate an inflation rate for the top 0.1%, it would be substantially higher than it is for the country as a whole.  Needless to say, the Fed doesn't consider this a problem (their policy explicitly ignores asset inflation) since any efforts to tackle it wouldl require addressing income inequality.

        Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

        by TexasTom on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:50:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  And that path is... (5+ / 0-)

    lined with cotton candy and lollipops?

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:24:31 AM PDT

  •  To tell the truth (16+ / 0-)

    I'm really tired of "rah, rah" speeches.  As long as Citizens United stands this country has moved into solid Oligarchy area.  Eventually this, too, will evolve because this inequality and uncertainty cannot sustain itself.

  •  One of the One Percent already bought a state (22+ / 0-)

    Art Pope bought North Carolina. He's even become a part of the government he bought since the new Republican Governor appointed him as Assistant Budget Director.

    Jane Mayer wrote a New Yorker article about him in 2011:

    State for Sale

    And now we have the consequences.

    Art Pope-backed lawmaker leads push for new voting restrictions in NC

  •  We Need a Redefinition (19+ / 0-)

    of the term patriotism.  

    This word has been co-opted by the .01 % under the guise of their so called "grassroots" groups that rile up the "Christians" and the rubes to scream "we want our country back".  It really fries my ass on Sirius XM to see the Patriot Channel, which is in actuality a right wing talk channel--who turned ownership of the word over to those clowns?

    Patriotism should be devotion to  our country over everything else, rather than a term used to reinforce a certain dogma or dictate passed down by some weasel preacher, Cayman account holder, or oil company billionaires who thinks they're the Kings of the World.  

    If the Congress understood the true meaning of the word, think of what we could accomplish, for all of us.

  •  Now imagine if those 132 people donated... (9+ / 0-)

    ... the money they did to SuperPACs to charity. Say, cancer research. Or the Red Cross/Crescent. Or whatever.

  •  Not Founding Fathers.... (12+ / 0-)

    Funding Fathers are calling the shots, setting the priorities.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:33:49 AM PDT

  •  At least as important as 1) "the 132" themselves, (12+ / 0-)

    2 the SCOTUS decision that super-charged their votes,
    3) the five justices who made that decision,
    4) the Republican pols who thank God every day for "the 132," and
    5) the Republican voters who love their pols,
    are
    6) the "the 132"-serving  Democratic pols and their supporters.

    You know, Rahm's kinda people.

    For without them, we could stop this whole thing in its tracks.

    Really, what are we doing here?

    How can we honestly complain about this stuff when our strategy is so far off target it will never reach our problems.

    What's the point of letting neoliberals into the tent when neoliberalism is burning down the campground?
    Since elections will never change the ownership of government, why does our strategy rely entirely upon them?

    by Words In Action on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:34:21 AM PDT

  •  Who are "the people? (0+ / 0-)

    A poor single mom? A large corporation? Oohh, so complicated, we are confused, aren't we?

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:35:13 AM PDT

  •  Occupy Wall Street (37+ / 0-)

    ...was tracked as a terrorist organization by a Democratic administration from before its first action and was brutally suppressed by Democratic, Republican, and indedpendent mayors in a nationwide campaign of repression.

    Does this not mean that the road is stonier than Lawrence Lessig, now of Harvard Law, admits?

    The electoral system is rigged, and there is zero tolerance by police for direct actions of protest outside of the electoral system.

    And it does not just affect both sides.  Bradley Manning and NATO protesters are in prison awaiting trial as a form of pre-trial punishment.  Nonetheless, Operation Rescue, which has been linked to the murders of abortion doctors still is free to operate and Randall Terry has never been brought up on charges.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:40:59 AM PDT

    •  You don't think they will relinquish power (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      3goldens, Praxical, GayHillbilly

      easily do you?  This is the history of all revolutions.  The reason OWS got crushed was that it was too small.  Small occupations of physical space isn't good enough.  Now if you got 50 million to occupy physical space that there would be a confrontation.  It's in that confrontation, where the government will use excessive force, that we bring enough of the rest of the nation to the democracy movement ... at least so they aren't in opposition.

      This will take some time to build.  But when it happens I think it will surprise all of us.

      "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

      by noofsh on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:17:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OWS has not been crushed (11+ / 0-)

        It still goes on in many many ways.

        What happened was that it became clear that freedom of speech and freedom of assembly without conditions do not exist in this country unless you are pro-business.  And even then you have to subject yourself to conditions of control.

        It also became clear that even for a Democratic administration the same rules do not apply to Operation Rescue and Occupy Wall Street.  Advocating murder of abortion doctors is more acceptable than advocating that too-big-to-fail banks be allowed to fail.

        What was striking was that the government could not ignore a small movement like Occupy Wall Street.  It felt compelled to crush it.  That sort of zero tolerance of dissent bespeaks exteme fear.  And that is dangerous for the future of this country.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:37:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  We just don't have enough people yet willing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Klusterpuck

        enough to be killed through that "excessive force"...because when it come to 50 million people standing up to this government, you know a bunch of them are going to get killed.

        "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

        by Bisbonian on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:55:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is nothing new -- the Dem Adminstration of (5+ / 0-)

      Wilson was atrocious on civil liberties both before and after World War I.  FDR interned the Japanese Americans.  The administration of LBJ & Humphrey spied on the anti-war movement and sent in agent provocateurs just as PBO et al did with OWS.  

               One reason real progressives keep getting co-opted by the Dems is that they tend to be like Charley Brown tempted by Lucy to try to kick the football again, only with Korsakov's syndrome so that they don't even remember that Lucy has innumerable times in the past pulled the ball away after having promised not to -- going all the way back to Wilson's promising to keep "our boys" out of WW I in the election of 1916.

      "If you don't read the newspapers, you're uninformed. If you do read the newspapers, you're misinformed." -- M. Twain

      by Oliver St John Gogarty on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:10:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Worse than stony (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Messiah
      The wayfarer,
      Perceiving the pathway to truth,
      Was struck with astonishment.
      It was thickly grown with weeds.
      "Ha," he said,
      "I see that none has passed here
      In a long time."
      Later he saw that each weed
      Was a singular knife.
      "Well," he mumbled at last,
      "Doubtless there are other roads."
      Stephen Crane
      War Is Kind and Other Lines (1899)

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:22:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our politicians & tainted elections (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7, NoMoreLies, tb mare, Sarenth

    In the 2012 elections, if you add the votes for all the Congressional districts in the US, you find a significantly larger number of votes for Democrats than Republicans. Yet the GOP controls the House because of gerrymandering.  Gerrymandering & other ways to misrepresent the will of the majority are diminishing democracy.  One might think the stealing of seats and power from the Democrats would make the entire party very vocally angry - but it's not. When Obama gave the State of the Union before Congress, he could have politely said he knew the Republican House members elected as a result of gerrymandering weren't the individuals who created the gerrymandering - but gerrymandering was a serious threat to democracy and had to be addressed.  He said nothing about it.  Whether its the big contributors who are telling Democrats to keep quiet about the corruption of our election process, or Democrats are just too used to dirty politics to notice - this is where we stand today.

    "We all too often have socialism for the rich and rugged free capitalism for the poor." - Martin Luther King Jr.

    by workingwords on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:43:30 AM PDT

    •  that may all be true... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrQA, reflectionsv37, Sarenth

      I'll take it at face value. The core problem is that party-affiliation doesn't make enough difference.

      Dems have had power before - what did they do with it????

      Nothing much. Gerrymandering is nothing more than "the means by which GOP dictates the disposition of money to their selected subset of the 132".

      Put filibuster-proof Dem majority in congress and senate right now - know what we'll get? We'll get exactly what we're getting now - medicare cuts etc..

      The system as it now exists is broken

  •  And this is the difference between ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yella dawg

    ... Fox News and real "reporting":

    ... his facts sobering, and his ultimate position—that this problem is far from insurmountable—is cheering.
    First, there are "facts." Secondly, there is hope, and in our case, the real possibilty of dramatic change just by gaining a working majority in the House in 2014.

    Fox News is now only about giving "End Times" opinion that is turning their voters, who are dying off anyways, away from the polls, into quasi-Libertarians, or the kind of Tea Partiers who'll do more harm than good.

    This "TED" speech also appears to be an intended consequence of the OWS Movement, and that's a good thing.

    I would tip you, but the man took away my tips.

    by Tortmaster on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 06:50:12 AM PDT

  •  "Managed Democracy"-- (16+ / 0-)

    that's the euphemism Putin has used to describe Russia's political system. But it seems an apt description for the US, too.

  •  Excellent diary, Mark, thanks! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lucy2009

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

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:00:51 AM PDT

  •  Interesting 18 minutes (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for pointing me to the ted.com site also.

    I bookmarked it.

  •  But remember, it's the "little people" -- (3+ / 0-)

    the poors, the homeless, the browns and the blacks, the olds and the youngs -- who "vote their own selfish interests" come election time.

    A least that's what Rush tells me.

    Hey America: the GOP not only think you're stupid, they're counting on it!

    by here4tehbeer on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:08:34 AM PDT

  •  Corruption - And Obama has been corrupted as well (8+ / 0-)

    That is why he thinks its so important to balance budgets and impose austerity.  The taint has rubbed off on both political parties because they are slaves of corporate money / large donors.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:10:26 AM PDT

  •  diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lady Libertine

    NJtom also did a diary on this yesterday.

  •  Short of a revolution (8+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure how you get rid of an oligarchy.   You're not going to vote them out, because all your choices become stooges for the 1%.

    At a bare minimum every liberal is going to have to stop voting for Republicans and Democrats.

  •  And They Wonder Why We Dislike Politicians? (7+ / 0-)

    Living in NYS, my default position is that they are all corrupt. If they are not corrupt it's because they haven't been caught yet. If they do anything that benefits the electorate then it's probably either by accident or because they know there is a chance that it might impact their getting re-elected -- or the Governor of their party is strong enough to force their hand.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:29:05 AM PDT

  •  URLs to data on election participation? (3+ / 0-)

    I recall seeing numbers in the last few years ...

    only X number go to rallies or doorbell or phonebank ...

    only Y actually donate anything ...

    thanks if anyone has some links off the top of their head ... I haven't had luck googling around in the past & have other stuff to do today for my real job ... ;)

    rmm.  

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:32:28 AM PDT

  •  Oh,the irony.Goldman Sachs sponsors this TED Talk (14+ / 0-)

    Arguably, they and their executives have been the biggest contributors-- and the biggest beneficiaries-- of the present, rigged system.

    •  Because Lessig is clueless and a distraction. nt. (0+ / 0-)
      •  it's possible, but certainly you'll have to expand (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Musial, jds1978

        on that statement.

        just making the statement is not particularly convincing.

        big badda boom : GRB 090423

        by squarewheel on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:38:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Another comment below gives the links, (0+ / 0-)

          but one needs correcting. The single issue voters movement article is here. In short, potential amendments now cue up every year the Roberts court makes a new decision offensive to the constitution. I could think of a few I'd like. But nothing is wrong with the first amendment, a lot is wrong with the Roberts court. An amendment is a fool's errand. This is a powers crisis, where the unelected GOP court has taken control of our elected but supine Congress. Congress has powers at Art 1 and Art 3 to deal with this crisis but is gridlocked. An amendment about corporate personhood is entirely beside the point, and any amendment gives the Court a new jurisdictional boundary in the separation of powers. The attempt to revamp the Constitution by amendments is by people who don't trust what the constitution already says to do, use checks and balances against the court, which lawyers are indoctrinated to abhor.

      •  Tell me why I should not HR this clueless (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tb mare, Musial

        and contentless attempt at distraction.

        Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

        by Mokurai on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:45:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wouldn't say he's clueless (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Musial, mightymouse, Cartoon Messiah

          but TED is by and for the elite.  The real problem isn't that their big money is tainting the republic, it is that we allow them to cheat and steal their way to such obscenely huge wealth in the first place.  Their wealth is built on the toil of thousands who haven't seen a real wage increase in decades despite massively increasing productivity and profits.

        •  Read the follow up and another comment below (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse

          which seemed more than enough with the links. But point taken. If you're not a lawyer this is going to take something from you, and if you are a lawyer it's going to take something from you. If you study the constitution you know that that system ended in 2006. We saw this before when Dred Scott made slavery national, leading to a civil war. At that time people thought the North should adopt slavery to save the Union. Lessig's remedies are similarly inconsistent with the constitution.  

  •  We are living under (10+ / 0-)

    a Trans-National corporate empire and our politicians are merely princes of the empire's court.  David Hume talked of empire as an economic system and what we have today is a trans-national corporate empire run for the benefit of the elites.  Until we banned together in a trans-national labor movement, we will be mere serfs, regulated to the fields and factories for slave wages, available to fight their wars whenever neccessary.

    Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. John Donne

    by scurrvydog on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:45:03 AM PDT

  •  "132 people provided 60% of Super-PAC funding..." (8+ / 0-)

    and those 132 oligarchs have so much more power and so much more influence over those who they fund (i.e.: Our "representatives", our elected officials) than do hundreds or thousands or millions of individual citizens...

    It's not a totally insurmountable hurdle, but it is a real, and extremely difficult hurdle--one that stands between the majority of citizens--and the people who should be representing the best interests of the majority rather than the best interests of 132 of the richest among us.  

  •  How can anybody deny both sides do it (10+ / 0-)

    when we have Obama, a so called Democrat, pushing for cuts to Social Security and Medicare.  

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:53:03 AM PDT

    •  I don't deny both parties do it... (7+ / 0-)

      But the pressure is always right, not left.

      Destroying the oligarchy and instituting genuine democracy would benefit the left.

      •  Yes, it would. (5+ / 0-)

        They'd actually have to move "left" and represent the working/middle class.    

        I cannot tell you how disgusted I am with Obama for giving away SS and Medicare.    I don't want baubles and wedge issues.  I want fundamental fiscal reform.   Obama and the rest of the corporate Democrats will have to take their canisters some place else if they want my vote.  I'll be dipped and fried before I'll pay for the banks and war profiteers.    

        What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

        by dkmich on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:10:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The oligarchy (4+ / 0-)

        owns and runs the Democratic party. Like Lessing said primaries are decided by the power and money behind the throne. The rightward pressure has reached a point where the Dems can extort the vote of halfway sane people by fear. The problem is that the fear is unrelated to the implementation of oligarchical collectivism.  The ruling class agenda is non partisan. All your vote does at this point is ratify whoever the owners of the place have decided to anoint.

        Destroying the oligarchy means destroying the political machines that they own. It means destroying Government Sachs. At this point the fuckers have broken the system so badly that there really is no parliamentary means to address our grievances, they have taken everything off the table.

        They are a global collective that cannot operate without destroying all democratic governance. So pardon me if I scoff at some dude who is talking at TED which costs about 6,000 to attend. It seems to be a elitist geeky think tank and is talking to and about the assholes who perpetuate and believe in this extreme neoliberal brand of disaster capitalism passed off as better then. I notice he's got nothing to offer as a solution other then supporting the lesser evil which is in a way the most effective evil.

        http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

        Here' is TED, which is a conference. Sort of. Actually, it's quite difficult to describe precisely what TED is. It stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design, but it's about more than any of those subjects. What it resembles most closely is a G8 of the mind, a high-powered ideas fest that crosses disciplines and ideas in what the New York Times calls 'three-and-a-half days of intellectual soul searching'. According to technology magazine redherring.com, it attracts 'some of the smartest, richest and most talented people on earth' and the stated aim, this time round, was to find 'Ideas Big Enough to Change the World'.

        The unique thing about TED is that the audience is almost as high-powered as the speakers. Everyone has a big red name tag, most of which include the words 'President', 'CEO' or 'Professor'.

        'The world as we find it' says Axelrod. It's not and it's not inevitable. It's the world the sociopaths have created and it's too big and too top heavy not to fail. Fear just feeds it, ask me the first thing 'we the people' ought to do is quit fearing their shocks and cooked up disasters. Politics are not static and if the freaking Democratic Party doesn't stand up and fight for us and our republic they need to lose. This lot ought to start their own damn party and call it the Third Way.  

        'The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handle' Bob Dylan.

             

  •  I live in a Bananna Republic, the USA is not one!! (11+ / 0-)

    Here in 3rd world SE Asia, we do not invade other countries like the USA. Please, do not tar us with USA behavior. Yes, we are corrupt and have enough problems to make a pawn broker cry, but we don't murder Brown People in the name of the War on Drugs or the War on Terrorism. Please don't call yourselves a Bananna Republic, you are insulting us.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 07:56:33 AM PDT

    •  I worked in South Korea as a Peace Corps Volunteer (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sarenth

      back when it was a rice republic under military dictator Park Chung Hee. Unfortunately South Korea was killing brown people in Vietnam alongside the US in a War on the supposed Domino Effect at that very time.

      We see oppression and even murder of minorities in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos, and other South and Southeast Asian countries as we do elsewhere. The War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism are strong in the region as they are almost everywhere else.

      As long as Hun Sen has power in Cambodia with Vietnamese backing you cannot talk of SE Asian nations not invading others.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:04:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  hard to watch this (7+ / 0-)

    without tearing up.

    it really is lost.

    and it's never coming back.

    but i'll do whatever i can out of my love for what our country used to be.

    Deficits don't matter, jobs do.

    by aguadito on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:00:06 AM PDT

  •  Limiting representation of the whole country (7+ / 0-)

    to 535 people is simply not going to work. The 535 cannot listen to 300 million people. So who do they listen to? The 50 to 100 people who fund their campaigns. And the people who fund their campaigns tell them, "What I want is what the country wants, and what I want is maximal profits and minimal taxes and regulation."

    The job of the politician is to "sell" that lie to the general public, the public whom they don't represent or listen to. And they can't really do that, so instead they talk about socialism, and big government, and all the rest of the tired shibboleths they've used for decades. And it works. The average worker really thinks that the problem is "liberalism," and just keeps voting Republican every time.

    Yes, America is a Banana Republic. The worst one.
     

    "I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. -- John Stuart Mill (March, 1866)

    by Blood on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:03:07 AM PDT

  •  All this talk of revolution is pointless (9+ / 0-)

    when you cannot really touch the people involved in leading the country.

    How do you rebel and fight against a corporation? Do you really think you can create a big enough movement to hurt Big Oil, Big Pharma or all the other money in Congress?

    Rebel against the government? They are only tools, the actual leaders are shape shifters who can change their form to become more socially appealing when need be. Look at how many top companies own "socially respectable" smaller companies, ie Ben and Jerry's, Naked Juice etc. Chevron has a gas station right down the street from me that is covered in solar panels.

    What all of you are overlooking that those in power will NEVER NEVER vote against their paychecks. So until the economy crashes and the whole of the people are forced to  acknowledge the reality nothing will ever happen.

    You know how Republicans keep winning elections? As long as you defend the core of their beliefs they don't care how batshit crazy you are or how hypocritical you are they vote for you.

    We had DAMN GOOD people in office (Grayson, Weiner and Kucinich) who voted REPEATEDLY for the PRINCIPLES we say we hold dear yet as soon as any one of them stepped out of line (sexting photos) we left them to hang out to dry. Of course in the case of Kucinich we never took him seriously in an election.

    Republicans have people that have been divorced repeatedly, have shown that they are complete assholes, have basically in their lives betrayed all of their principles but since they keep VOTING the right way they get elected and re elected over and over (yes I know they also rig elections however their party stands together). Their party votes in lockstep on everything, ours is full of people who don't and the few who seem to it seems that if they don't fit our ideal of perfect we bail on them. However we seem to keep backing Presidents who obviously give a shit about the Democratic party or ideals.

    Why should Dems vote for our ideals, after all Obama got re-elected and had huge support and he kept trouncing all over our ideals?

    Just saying.

  •  Is It Any Wonder When We Have So Many Of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Klusterpuck

    America's "leaders" starting off the Pledge of Allegiance
    by saying "I Pledge of Allegiance to the .."

    "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman.” - Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003

    by kerplunk on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:10:01 AM PDT

  •  I'm Not Seeing the "Better"... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, Klusterpuck, Sarenth

    Did I miss something?

    Come inside and find out why things are both worse, and better, than they seem.
    OK, where's the "better", the upside to Lessig's talk/conclusions? Is it this:
    Being told you're living in an ex-republic is not fun, but the path back to democracy might not be as stony as those who benefit from the current system want you to think.
    ?? What exactly does the "path back to democracy" entail? Putting the same sort of vetted/approved-by-the-Oligarchy candidates in office as we have the last thirty years or so?

    "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

    by Superpole on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:11:38 AM PDT

  •  petitions (4+ / 0-)

    Maybe someone already mentioned this, I don't have time this morning to read all the comments. But it seems like this post should be followed with a petition campaign related to one, or all, of the reforms mentioned by Lessig. After all, according to Lessig (and I agree) no other reforms will happen until this one does.

  •  If someone else chooses your choices, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bisbonian, mightymouse, Klusterpuck

    what choice do you really have?

    None are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    by achronon on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:18:37 AM PDT

  •  The money in elections goes to media campaigns. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, scott5js, mightymouse

    To take the rewards out of the $$$>media>corruption cycle we have to persuade our fellow citizens to tune out campaign ads.

    Watching TV is a part of the modern landscape, but watching it without a thinking hat on has led to this problem.

  •  Democracy Index (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mokurai, Klusterpuck, GayHillbilly

    I was looking at the Wikipedia article entitled 'Democracy Index.' It had a colored world map and it links to a listing of the world's  countries, classified as full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes, and authoritarian regimes.
    The listing classifies the USA and Canada as full democracies. The map has Canada in a deeper shade of green than its neighbor south of the border. I can believe our neighbor to the north has a stronger democracy.
    I was surprised to see the 2012 Democracy Index list France as a flawed democracy. I was not surprised to see Hungary, Greece, or Mexico listed as flawed democracies.
    All 3 Baltic countries are called flawed democracies. I can believe that for Lithuania and Latvia, but I had better hopes for Estonia. Moldova is called a flawed democracy. Armenia, Georgia, Kirgyzstan, and Ukraine are called hybrid regimes. All the other former Soviet republics (including Russia) are called authoritarian regimes.
    I would be interested to see the individual states of the USA ranked. I can believe that Vermont is a full democracy and my own state of Texas is a flawed democracy.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:38:05 AM PDT

  •  Like all the other calls to arms, (7+ / 0-)

    this one just peters out. It provides no solutions and, in fact, is just plain nonsensical. It declares that the system is not working and the only thing we can do is work within the system.

    James Madison, in Federalist 10, identified the most important problems with republics, particularly with his version, and said that those problems had never been solved in earlier republics, and, he admitted, that his version probably wouldn't solve them either, but, he added, the solution is to have a republic. He was right when he said that republics don't work for the common good. Never have, never will, never can. There are only two kinds of government that work for the common good. One is a benevolent dictatorship, but all of the benevolent dictators are apparently already busy elsewhere. The other is a democracy of the type that ruled in ancient Athens for nearly two centuries.

    When George Washington died, he was attended by three physicians. Two of them were older men and the third was younger and had been trained in Scotland. Washington was suffering from a swelling his throat and it was evident that if the swelling continued then he would suffocate. The older doctors were bleeding him. The younger said that they needed to perform a tracheotomy and thereby give Washington the ability to continue to breathe. The older doctors overrode the younger and so he, the younger, asked that at least they not bleed him any more. But bleed him they did, and if he weakened they would bleed him some more--and each time, the blood ran more slowly. In a few hours he was gone.

    That is what this call to arms here reminds me of. We are suffering from the system and the cure is to continue to rely on the system. The more we rely on the system, the more we are drained of our blood.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:45:12 AM PDT

    •  The Athenian democracy only allowed (0+ / 0-)

      a tiny minority, mostly of male slaveowners who had completed military training, to vote. Hardly a victory for the common man, and certainly not the common woman. It was also subject to oligarchical coups and was interrupted by the Peloponnesian War.

      Athenian Democracy at Wikipedia:

      During the 4th century BC, there may well have been some 250,000–300,000 people in Attica. Citizen families may have amounted to 100,000 people and out of these some 30,000 will have been the adult male citizens entitled to vote in the assembly…The non-citizen component of the population was divided between resident foreigners (metics) and slaves, with the latter perhaps somewhat more numerous.

      Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

      by Mokurai on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:16:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is amazing to me that people like you (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Klusterpuck, GayHillbilly, Sarenth

        are so quick to condemn the Athenians for doing what we did in the beginning of our nation. We treated our slaves much worse than the slaves were treated in Athens. Furthermore, Athens was creating democracy. When we designed our government we knew all about the weaknesses of Athens, but we didn't do any better.

        And, of course, we denied our women property rights and the right to vote longer than we denied them to the slaves. So, you really should drop your superior attitude.

        In addition, your remark about the common man was wrong as well. Of the 30,000 or so male citizens of ancient Athens the overwhelming majority were common citizens and they were very well treated. In ancient Athens, the Assembly truly governed and it truly was the voice of the People.

        As for the metics, they were indeed foreigners who had civil rights but not political rights. They could not attend the Assembly for example, but they chose to live in Athens because they were free to do as they pleased, and they were treated better there than where they came from.

        So, almost all you said in your comment is wrong, but I predict that your reaction will be to get angry and attack me and further embarrass yourself, or you will sullenly keep quiet, or you will enlist friends to attack me as you orchestrate the attack from behind the curtain.

        And last, but not least, the implication of what you are saying is that Athens treated its citizens worse than we treat ours, which is obviously not true. So, good ideas are where you find them, and ancient Athens had plenty of them which we could adapt to our system and improve our lives.

        Have a nice day.

        Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

        by hestal on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 12:16:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I deeply, deeply enjoyed this video (6+ / 0-)

    It's delightful to hear Mr. Lessig speak.  But...I don't think Lawrence Lessig quite grasps just how rich our opponents are.  That said, I agree with him that it is solvable.  With a slightly different organizational structure, Occupy could have pulled it off.  Even with that easily manipulated "General Assembly" format, it almost took off.

    It's do-able.  We need to keep that in the front of our thoughts:  it is possible to take back our democracy.  It might be by hook or by crook, but it can be done.

    Tell me what to write. tellmewhattowrite.com 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:55:49 AM PDT

    •  where is OWS? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lady Libertine, rbird, 3goldens

      anybody know? Been wondering since they said they'd be back!

      •  waiting for the spark (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Klusterpuck

        and hopefully while waiting, working on ...stuff. New media is a huge chunk of it. see here and here...

        If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. ~ Emma Goldman

        by Lady Libertine on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:48:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I think they're waiting (3+ / 0-)

        for you to show up.

        Kidding, sort of. The fact is, we all are OWS. If everyone would get down to the next OWS event in his/her city, we could have the numbers to make it successful.

        I remember, in Portland, when an enormous number of people showed up when the police were about to evict us from the park.

        The police backed down completely, and even seemed scared. Then, at 3 AM or so, the thousands who had gathered began to go home, thinking the had won the day. The police came back and evicted the people from the park, and that was the end of the heights of OWS in Portland, although there still is activity.

        It takes every concerned citizen to show up, in enormous numbers, to make the police lose their will and back down. Cops are people, too. They don't want to up against an enormous crowd.

        I don't think any of this is going to change until the armchair activists get out off their sofas and go to these events, and keep going, with sustained presence.

        "In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

        by ZhenRen on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:38:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Occupy Sandy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Klusterpuck

        An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

        by mightymouse on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:47:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  There's always money... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Klusterpuck

    ...in the banana stand.

    "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it." ~ Mark Twain

    by wonkydonkey on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 08:56:44 AM PDT

  •  Max Baucus (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    squarewheel, shaharazade, wader, 3goldens

    NYT has an article on Baucus clearing showing how corrupt the system has become.
    Tax Lobby Builds Ties to Max Baucus

    Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don't vote.

    by Renie57 on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:08:05 AM PDT

  •  Youtube video on wealth inequality in the US (0+ / 0-)
  •  The only time political power is real is when (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader

    your control the money or the guns.   We control neither.   Couldn't you at least have been courteous enough to preserve the illusion until after our first sunny day in a while?

    When you finally realize you're not really in the game, democracy actually IS a spectator sport.

    by SpamNunn on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:30:19 AM PDT

  •  I remember in the 90's (10+ / 0-)

    a bunch of politicians were trying to warn us that the "political system is broken".
       At the time I thought: so what's new?

     Now I realize that what they were saying is that all pretense of democracy was about to die.

    ¡Cállate o despertarás la izquierda! - protest sign in Spain

    by gjohnsit on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 09:49:51 AM PDT

  •  glad to see this (3+ / 0-)

    on the FP. The video is certainly thought provoking. I tend to agree with most of this and would emphasize Lessig's idea that we have to do this first before anything else can really come about ... before we can effect any of the progress in "progressive".

    Whenever or however we see Occupy The Sequel (and we will), I hope it/we can manage the discipline we'll need. Focus, people!

    If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution. ~ Emma Goldman

    by Lady Libertine on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:03:50 AM PDT

  •  "A Republic, if you can keep it" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, Klusterpuck

    The video ended rather abruptly, at least my viewing did.

    It's good to see optimism regarding our corrupt, captured government. Quaint though.

    How do you stop someone who will stop at nothing?

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:08:21 AM PDT

  •  Ah, handwringing, the Democrats' (0+ / 0-)

    favorite Olympic sport.

    We are the majority. Our majority is growing. We are coming out from the shadow of fear cast by Republican anti-Communism and Red-baiting for a century, and the Southern Strategy for fifty years.

    There is a funny thing about tipping points. Nothing seems to happen until you reach one, and then it all starts to happen at once. As we see with LGBT rights, where Joe Biden was the highest-profile "evolver" until Obama was, and since then we have had a dozen Senators (two of them Republicans!) and both Clintons announcing their own evolutions. Even on Fox, Bill O'Reilly is now for gay marriage.

    Why, here in Indiana, our Blue Dog Sen. Joe Donnelly has evolved on LGBT rights and gun safety both! If we can get him to move on a Woman's Right to Choose, we might make a real Democrat of him yet.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 10:27:58 AM PDT

  •  Infinitely better than Sunday AM Lester talk shows (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly

    You know, Sunday morning TV where the corporate  corrupters (GE) "sponsor" their politically corrupted  appointees (Congress). Thanks for sharing.

  •  imho (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly

    i believe our country  got on the wrong path to losing its democratic principles when the nation began to lean further right politically and judicially, to me the year was 1980, you may have a different birth year but until the nation begins to lean left to balance the rw tilt of at least 30 years our future looks dim, at least in my eyes.

  •  It's about Suppression and Oppression in 2014 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly

    Winning back states and Congress in the belliegerent South....

    Winning back the House and Governorships in 2014 starts in the "Voter ID" states.  That issue is a big loser except for extreme racists, which is a shrinking minority.

    Wisconsin, Michigan, Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida should be winners if the campaign money is correctly spent.  Ohio should be close.

    Seats should be picked up in Kansas, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia over extreme pro-life legislation and overall civil liberties incoherence.  

    Pick one or two more off in Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and Georgia or South Carolina and it's a Democratic House!!!

  •  Strategy (0+ / 0-)

    As individuals, we must collectively act in ONE'S OWN SELF INTEREST.  [I know that sounds contrary.]  A truly aware electorate voting it's own desires, every time, makes the mega-money spent by "the machine" irrelevent (except to the media moguls, alas).  It works with school boards.  Yes, in light of Act10, got rid of one 'tool' and prevented another from taking a seat.  Political pressure will slowly rise and undo our collective insults.  Even conservative farmers are seeing the dangers of blindly voting the party of their forebearers.  

    Boys and girls, do your homework.  It just needs to be scaled up.

  •  I too felt despair (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leema, Sychotic1, Klusterpuck

    About two thirds of the way through I too felt "There is no hope."  And then he gave me a map and a reason to move forward.  I am starting by sending this to everyone I know and encouraging them to watch this video.
    Global climate change has been my number one issue, but now it is number two.  

    •  Althought global warming is ah breathing its hot (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Klusterpuck

      breath down our necks (so to speak)...if we don't go after the root it keeps sending up new sprouts.   Money is the root of our government's evil.

      “... there is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson, The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist

      by leema on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 02:34:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are definitely correct (0+ / 0-)

        I think my despair comes from we are going to have to face the personification of "evil".  People who truly have no compassion, no care, only mindless greed, and people like that seem to have limitless energy and funds.  I hate sounding like some nut job using the word "evil", but I can't think of a better word.

        No matter what, you are right we have to fight this or we cannot move forward.

    •  Problem with being all concerned about (0+ / 0-)

      Global climate change is that the GC movement will be hijacked by Big Money also. Already there was one "study" released in Britain which showed these metal structures offered more carbon dioxide to oxygen production than anything else - the implication being, let's cut down the trees for this company to install these devices!

      Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

      by Truedelphi on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 12:47:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So can we finally admit we live in a plutocracy? (6+ / 0-)

    The system does not lend itself to being 'fixed' excepting to serve the rich.  The barriers to power, the barriers to getting one's voice heard, hell, to getting anything substantial done, are essentially closed to anyone but the top earners and movers of money.  

    I am finding it harder and harder to drag myself to the polls to face the same policies year and year out, the only true difference being is that one party will be more oppressive on issues I feel keenly on, but both have effectively fucked the poor.  I do not want to feel this malaise, I want to believe in the inherent goodness of this nation.  I am finding that hope, that optimism increasingly hard to come by.

    "You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind." -Morpheus, The Matrix

    by Sarenth on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 11:54:48 AM PDT

  •  Take back elections by eliminating donors altogeth (3+ / 0-)

    er. Establish a national election fund. Eliminate sitting pols franking . Perhaps make cable companies provide one political channel for every group to have time on to present their case... their solutions, their view of the problems, etc... Then have analysis similar to the CBO of the costs and effects of every proposal. A true public airing of reality not fantasy being delivered by corporate news with its talking heads getting rich being selfish pinhead asses and the profiteers directing the feed lot animals into blind corners where they can feed.

    Stop letting elections be about visceral emotional hooks. Personally I am getting tired of the level of fear and nonsense and hysteria around politics any more. It seems that the corporations have found fear sells more air time and drives expenditures to oust the evil other.

    Fear is the Mind Killer...

    by boophus on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 12:17:13 PM PDT

  •  I knew we had arrived at banana republic status (4+ / 0-)

    after the 2000 election.

  •  ...The Rebublic of Bananastan (0+ / 0-)

    Fight for freedom
    Afghanistan, Iraq
    Home to America
    It's taken back

    Fight for freedom
    My guns and fries
    Home to America
    The warrior dies

    Come home to America
    Yearning together
    Birds of a feather
    Some say never

    I traded it in for a whole 'nother world...a pirate flag and an island girl.

    by glb3 on Sun Apr 07, 2013 at 04:29:35 PM PDT

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