From Counter Punch
So, perhaps one explanation for Republicans winning most political contests is that most Americans are voting their ideological self-identity instead of their Party self-identity and their actual policy-positions and policy-values — which are liberal. If that’s so, then one might say that the conservative mystique ever since the time of Ronald Reagan overwhelms voters’ Party affiliation and policy-positions and thus determines their actual voting, more than anything rational actually does.
Perhaps part of this conundrum is also a result of Americans being heavily inundated with conservative propaganda from the aristocracy, who are overwhelmingly conservative.
For example, a study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, ruled by an aristocracy, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:
“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.
The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:
“Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.”
Nonetheless, this is the first-ever scientific study of the question of whether the U.S. is a democracy. “Until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions [that U.S. policymaking operates as a democracy, versus as an oligarchy, versus as some mixture of the two] against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.” That’s an enormous number of policy-issues studied.
The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.
So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.
This is not news, you say.
Perhaps, but the two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here's how they explain it:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.
The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.
"A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time."
On the other hand:
When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organised interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.
Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.
Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn't surprised by the survey's results.
"American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's "news" media)," he writes. "The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious 'electoral' 'democratic' countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now."
On a smaller scale, Australia is in the same basket... It boils down very quickly as to "who control the nation's "news" media" as mentioned above. Uncle Rupe is a warrior for the elite. Not the elite with say scientific intelligence but the elite of geezers who are cunning enough to place their hands in your pocket and "steal" your cash... Well they don't steal as much as make you buy stuff that suits a particular infrastructure of cash rotation in which they have invested, including your debts. Advertising and "news" are the crucial centre of this loop, in which we, the plebs, run like hamsters to make the wheel turn, while the rich smoke the cigars...
The "news" cycle and the spruikers for the right wing masters is important as to make sure we don't awake from the matrix... Those like us, here on this site, who cry foul say at an Abbott, have basically no chance to be heard... Presently, the news is being swamped by the little royals tour. At no point during the news report is the anachronism of such a tour going to be mentioned. But the dresses, the bows, the smiles and all the pomps will be "regaled" upon. Traditions runs the roost, even in one of the most egalitarian country on earth, such as Australia. We don't question those traditions that have been written in deceit, in blood and that have used dubious alliances to create "superior dynasties". This is what it's all about: a dynasty with the self-appointed "godly right" to be at the top of the tree. Inconceivable.
RIO VISTA, Calif. — As the Merva W puttered down the Sacramento River, it looked like any other dowdy fishing vessel headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. But no other boat had as surprising a cargo or as unusual a mission: The Merva W was giving 100,000 young salmon a lift to the Pacific in the hope of keeping them alive.
The record drought in California is not only forcing cities to ration water and farmers to sell off cattle. It is also threatening millions of salmon because the newly shallow rivers lack a strong enough flow to guide the fish to sea. And in the warming rivers, more predators are lurking.
In an act that is equal parts despair and hope, the government is transporting the salmon by truck and barge, trying to imitate nature so that in three years some fully grown fish will find their way back upstream. For some salmon, “this is a way of sustaining the fishery,” said Peter B. Moyle, a senior biologist at the University of California, Davis. “For an endangered species, it’s a desperation measure.”
On the 50th anniversary of the opening of the New York World’s Fair, attendees share memories of family outings and moments of inspiration.
The grounds of the 1964 New York World’s Fair were a blur of perpetual motion: Gondolas dangled above the crowds from the Swiss Sky Ride, a monorail glided in the Lake Amusement area, Greyhound Escorters ferried fatigued visitors, helicopters landed on the Port Authority’s helipad and a giant tire Ferris wheel spun.
On the 50th anniversary of the fair’s opening, we asked readers to share their memories of the event and photographs from their visits.
See also 1984 cosy small talk with electrostatic detritus collectors...
The NSW premier’s resignation for lying to the corruption commission sharpens the focus of this series. Alan Austin looks at the record breaking dishonesty of Australia's PM.
A CONCEPT TO EMERGE from the week’s extraordinary events triggered by a certain bottle of wine is that lies can be a bad thing.
Well, who would have thought?
There appear to be two confusions over lies in Australian political discourse.
The first is over definitions. Refer article one.
The second is the oft-heard “all parties are the same; all politicians are liars”.
That’s not true.
Our definition of a lie is: a knowingly false statement by a politician, expressed with the intention to deceive.
These have been rare among Australian party leaders. And, until recently, confined to just the one party. But that may have to change.
This seems to be the tally among party leaders over the last 20 years:
There are two stand-outs in modern history.
Howard’s tawdry record was already a world-beater by 2004, according to veteran reporter Alan Ramsay:
Howard lied repeatedly to the electorate and to colleagues. It was a Liberal Senator who gave rise to the nickname ‘the lying rodent’.
But Tony Abbott – who openly admires Howard – has already set a record unsurpassed in Westminster parliamentary history and almost certainly unsurpassable.
Well, let’s check:
1. Anti-Hanson slush fund
In 1998, Abbott supported legal action against Pauline Hanson.
Less than 2 weeks later, he categorically denied so doing to the ABC, and later repeated the lie to the Sydney Morning Herald. When the reporter confronted him with his signed personal guarantee, he said:
This was so brazen, it was widely said at the time he could kiss goodbye any ambitions to be prime minister”.
2. Electoral Commission re: donations
In 1998, the Australian Electoral Commission asked Abbott to disclose his donors, as required. To avoid doing so, he blatantly lied to the AEC, as revealed by Margo Kingston and others.
3. Meeting with Cardinal Pell
Asked in 2004 if he had met Cardinal Pell recently, Abbott told Tony Jones and the nation:
He had met the cardinal just days before, as satirised brilliantly by the Chaser lads.
4. Climate change
Abbott’s statements include that scientific evidence for climate change is “absolute crap” and
One of those must be untrue, as Crikey exposes.
5. Labor’s emissions scheme
Abbott said in a 2010 interview:
This was immediately challenged:
It wasn’t. And Abbott did know it.
6. Trip to Afghanistan
Abbott lied to PM Gillard about his reasons for declining her offer to visit the troops together.
He confessed later that his false “jet-lag” excuse was because he was lost for words — as he also was soon after meeting the troops on his own:
7. Repeated claims about China’s CO2 emissions
Abbott told the Minerals Council and various others in 2011:
This was widely condemned as false.
8. Continually calling asylum seekers “illegal arrivals”
Probably the most entrenched lie in current politics. People arriving with no documents, or even false papers, have the legal status of asylum seekers under international law. They are not “illegals”.
9 & 10. BHP's Olympic dam decision
Abbott claimed mine plans were shelved due to taxes. False. He also lied about reading BHP’s announcement.
Laurie Oakes’ withering analysis of this begins:
“Let’s not beat about the bush. To my mind, Tony Abbott tells lies.”
11. Australia could end up like Greece
Abbott endorsed David Murray’s ridiculous comment in October 2012 as “a timely warning”.
On the IAREM ranking of national economies: Greece is 55th, Australia is first.
12 & 13. Carbon tax impact
~ Abbott at the National Press Club, January, 2013.
The Conversation found this false on two levels. It is not true the world is averse to carbon taxes. Nor that the carbon price damages the economy without reducing emissions.
14. Malcolm Turnbull and the internet
Laughably false, as The Project enjoyed exposing:
15. Opening mines
~ Abbott, June 2013
The Conversation found these “statements are incorrect.”
~ Abbott in July 2013.
False. Australia was much wealthier in 2013 than in 2007 — despite the GFC.
Higher indicators include income per person, median wealth, pensions, superannuation, productivity and personal savings. Interest rates, inflation and taxes were all lower.
17. Broadband roll-out
~ Abbott, Sky News, July 2013.
Ridiculous nonsense. This was obviously not a "carefully scripted remark":
18. Election spending
~ Press conference, August 2013.
The Conversation found
19. Continual lies about debt spiralling out of control
Abbott told the Press Club last September that Labor
Australia’s debt is low by global standards. The Abbott Government has raised the level of debt and abolished the debt ceiling.
20. Deals with the Greens
Before the 2013 election, Abbott said:
The opposite of the truth.
Abbott promised the Greens the same concessions in the 2010 post-election horse trading as did Gillard. They just couldn’t trust him to keep his word.
And in December, the debt ceiling was abolished in a deal with the Greens.
21. Daughters living at home
Kevin Rudd asked Abbott last September if his daughters would also be living in the Lodge.
Short and false.
Daughter Louise had already moved in with her boyfriend. Abbott knew that.
22. Cardinal Pell’s reputation
Asked in November about George Pell’s handling of child sex abuse claims, Abbott replied:
Plainly false. Many senior Catholics have been far more pro-active, including former Sydney bishop Geoffrey Robinson who quit in 2004 in disgust at non-action by Pell and others.
23. Worker entitlements
Liberal MP Dr Sharman Stone called Abbott – her own leader – a liar over several blatantly false allegations in February about workers’ benefits at SPC.
Productivity increased dramatically for four quarters in 2009. It then stalled briefly as the GFC took effect.
Since 2010, productivity has increased for a record 12 consecutive quarters to an all-time high.
25, 26 & 27. Abolishing taxes
Three fibs in one sentence.
Investment in Australia was not impacted negatively. People employed rose every quarter since the tax was introduced. Inflation was below the rate for most of the Labor period prior to the carbon tax and below the rate for most of the last five Howard years.
28. End of the boom
~ Abbott, July 2013.
False. Mr Rudd specifically affirmed that “the China resources boom is over”. There is a difference. Australia has other customers.
29. Tasmanian forests
Abbott said of Tasmania’s world heritage listed forests he wants logged:
The ABC factcheckers found this to be 'Not true'.
Abbott said child immunisation rates fell under the Labor Government.
The ABC factcheckers said this was 'Wrong'.
How this sorry record impacts Australia’s social fabric should be worth examining.
The feeling is that Tony Abbott does not want to know the facts... Thus he fudges anything according to the pair of budgies and socks he's been given to wear on the day... Is it a lie? Of course, because he knows better. But better is often not to his advantage, thus he lies and lies and lies...
Please see also the IMMENSE LIE about education in the toon at top...
New South Wales premier Mike Baird says in hindsight it was a mistake to appoint lobbyist Nick Di Girolamo to a state-owned corporation three years ago but it was endorsed by the cabinet.
Baird, a self-proclaimed republican, spoke to media in Manly on his first full day in the job as NSW premier just hours before meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
He reaffirmed his commitment to introduce reforms around lobbyists and political parties but did not go into detail about the changes he is considering.
“I have been clear there was an independent panel who put together some recommendations, spoke about the suitability of candidates, that candidate has gone to cabinet and the cabinet has made the decision,” he said when asked about the appointment of Di Girolamo to State Water Corporation in 2011.
“Was that decision right? In hindsight, clearly not. Did people know what was transpiring? No they did not. And that was the basis that decision was made.”
Opposition leader John Robertson has used comments by former Liberal minister Ross Cameron to attack Baird over the Liberal party’s relationship with lobbyists.
Baird responded to the attack but did not give any details on the reforms he is considering.
“In relation to the reforms we are doing, if you want to be serious about reforms, have a look at your own party, I certainly will be undertaking some reforms as part of this government, I believe the community has strong trust in the government and the actions it has taken over the past three years but we need to enhance them,” he said.
“The community has spoken on donations and lobbyists and we will be responding. It is critical.”
The community has not loudly "spoken" on political donations, gifts and lobbyists yet... The ICAC exposed the tip of an iceberg about what the lobbyists, the political parties and the governments are up to... Then the MMMM has been up in arms about the way pollies and lobbyists have been pissing in each other's pocket, thus making the community raise its shoulders in a "so what's new?"-motion.
I am waiting for Nick Di Girolamo to gift a "clean skin" vino to the new premier... I know some label-less good Shiraz...
South Melbourne priest Father Bob Maguire may seem an unlikely hip hop star, but he has set his sights on the charts with a new album to help the homeless.Kanye West probably never envisaged a no-nonsense priest adapting his work, but this version of Jesus Walks could help Australia's homelessness problem.It is one of the covers on Father Bob Maguire's album. Supporters who donate more than $25 will receive a download."I did exactly what they told me to do. 'Do you mind if the words include shit, drugs - do you mind?' - I said 'look, give me the words for God's sake. If this is what we have to do, this is what we have to do'," he said.This idea of crowdfunding is popular among budding filmmakers and musicians, but Father Maguire says it will be a fresh way to deal with what has become a "beige" problem."The issue of homelessness is shapeless and colourless," he said."It's just an issue, and they know they should be interested in it but there's no kind of colour in it to attract their attention more than anything else, like the weather or the football."http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-19/father-bob-maguire-hip-hop/5399814------------------------See Dopey in the toon at top...
South Melbourne priest Father Bob Maguire may seem an unlikely hip hop star, but he has set his sights on the charts with a new album to help the homeless.Kanye West probably never envisaged a no-nonsense priest adapting his work, but this version of Jesus Walks could help Australia's homelessness problem.It is one of the covers on Father Bob Maguire's album. Supporters who donate more than $25 will receive a download.
South Melbourne priest Father Bob Maguire may seem an unlikely hip hop star, but he has set his sights on the charts with a new album to help the homeless.
Kanye West probably never envisaged a no-nonsense priest adapting his work, but this version of Jesus Walks could help Australia's homelessness problem.
"I did exactly what they told me to do. 'Do you mind if the words include shit, drugs - do you mind?' - I said 'look, give me the words for God's sake. If this is what we have to do, this is what we have to do'," he said.
This idea of crowdfunding is popular among budding filmmakers and musicians, but Father Maguire says it will be a fresh way to deal with what has become a "beige" problem.
"The issue of homelessness is shapeless and colourless," he said.
"It's just an issue, and they know they should be interested in it but there's no kind of colour in it to attract their attention more than anything else, like the weather or the football."
See Dopey in the toon at top...
Now that we've changed premiers, it's time to stop the sale of the rocks housing commission (see top article)... The sale did not make sense and still does not make sense... Hum... let me rephrase this... Selling these apartments and houses would be — and will be — open for GRAND SCALE CORRUPTION, even with the best transparent deals available... Keep your "eyeses" open...
Read also the article above about "The Rocks"... And thank you again Jack Mundey.
From vino expert, Mike Carlton
Tasting Notes: The 1959 Chateau d'icac.
Celebrated vigneron Nick Di Girolamo has excelled himself with this rare and striking Premier Grand Cru. Selected from old grapes of wrath vines at the Obeid family's Mt Corruption vineyard in NSW and cellared in Rum Corps oak casks, the wine reveals hidden gifts of subtle complexity.
The brown nose offers a concentrated aroma of decaying cattle dung, complexed by persistent spice notes of rotten fish and more than a hint of unsavoury greased palm. An intense palate of bitter fruits displays weak backbone and piss-in-pocket acidity, with a lingering after-palate heightened by a signed "thank you" note of unmistakeable provenance.
A wine not to be forgotten.
The story of the Passion has bequeathed words, images, and music that compel something like awe - regardless of what we come to think we believe. Peter Craven writes.
How can anyone who has ever experienced the sublimity of Bach's St Matthew Passion dismiss Easter? Bach took the most familiar music of his time, Lutheran chorales, and transfigured them into an idiom of such grandeur that they will haunt the mind forever. And he did this with the most impassioned sincerity and with a supreme artistry that almost in itself compels ideas of transcendence if not divinity in relation to what he and the preceding 1700 years of civilisation took to be the greatest story ever told.
It's true that when we listen to the St Matthew Passion - say in that extraordinary version conducted by Klemperer with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as the voice of Chirst, with Peter Pears as the Evangelist and with Elisabeth Schwartzkopf and Christa Ludwig singing the great hymns of suffering and repentance - we know we are at the very heart of the art of the Baroque, but beyond that we know we are confronting a vision as impersonal as the great cathedrals or the stained glass of Chartres Cathedral through which they look at the world.
Wow! As I have mentioned on this site before, I saw Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in the flesh in the late 1960s, singing many of Schubert's Lieders. I think I fell asleep... This is not about the voice of the day, but about pumping religious beliefs through theatre and pomp. No "real" illusion alla Penn and Teller, but illusions in our own minds.
And yes I have experienced a lot of great RELIGIOUS MUSIC, including Bach's St Matthew Passion, but this does not mean I have to believe that the scheme is real.
I love stylism. I enjoy human creation of their own bird songs. But this does not mean I have to believe beyond humanity's chant... Above this comment, a John Dickson said of atheists "their easily dismissed scientific, philosophical or historical arguments against Christianity"... that is idiotic. Like looking at the wrong end of the telescope to see stars...
The scientific argument is presently about evolution. Impossible to dismiss unless one is a totally dedicated ignoramus.
The philosophical argument goes back as far as the Aborigines' expression of style about 40,000 years far earlier than what the religious creationists believe. The earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago... and this is not a scientific furphy. etc.
The historical arguments is that many of the narrative in the "old" testament are about wars, concubines and polygamy, punishment and reward, like biblical floods and a promise land... Makes no sense at all, unless one believes in jingle bells, jingle bells... No sense at all...
From Eugene Robinson
Some governments have instituted policies to try to hold down emissions of carbon dioxide — by far the biggest contributor to climate change — but these measures do not go nearly far enough. We’re doing a Michael Jackson moonwalk, appearing to move ahead while actually sliding backward — toward what scientists fear is an abyss.
Between 1970 and 2000, according to the report, worldwide greenhouse gas emissions rose at an average rate of 1.3 percent a year. But between 2000 and 2010 — a period when no one could claim ignorance of the problem — emissions rose at 2.2 percent annually.
Given the fossil fuels we have already burned — the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by an incredible 40 percent since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution — some further warming is inevitable. Most climate scientists believe humankind can avoid calamity if we limit the temperature rise to about 4 degrees by 2100. But at present, according to the new report, we are on track for an increase of up to 8 degrees.
Wave bye-bye to low-lying island nations and coastal cities. Say so long to what we think of as “normal” weather patterns and growing seasons. Get ready to welcome tropical pathogens as they migrate into formerly temperate zones.
read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-on-climate-business-as-usual/2014/04/17/5bc9a336-c669-11e3-8b9a-8e0977a24aeb_story.html
Note : I believe the degrees mentioned in this article are Fahrenheit
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