Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

Chocolate

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tragedies

Saturday, April 19, 2014

"And they lost."











Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo: 


"On Obamacare, the Republican party has bet big on failure for four years. Now the results are in. And they lost. Big time. Of course, substance policy success and political outcomes aren't the same thing. And just as importantly they do not always run on the same time scale. So it is entirely possible. I would say it is likely that the GOP will still derive benefits this November from the core of voters who are extremely upset about Obamacare, extremely motivated to vote and also happen to be the same people who routinely turn out in disproportionate numbers in mid-term elections. But on the core of the policy, which I think there is good reason to believe will align with political outcomes in the future, the results are in. 


And they lost."

Friday, April 18, 2014

"A republic...if you can keep it."





At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Franklin was queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation. In the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention, a lady asked Dr. Franklin “Well Doctor what have we got, a republic or a monarchy.” Franklin replied, “A republic . . . if you can keep it.”


According to a new Princeton study, 227 years later, we didn't keep our republic:



Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power. 

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters. 

 "The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy," they write, "while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence." 

As one illustration, Gilens and Page compare the political preferences of Americans at the 50th income percentile to preferences of Americans at the 90th percentile as well as major lobbying or business groups. They find that the government—whether Republican or Democratic—more often follows the preferences of the latter group rather than the first. 

 The researches note that this is not a new development caused by, say, recent Supreme Court decisions allowing more money in politics, such as Citizens United or this month's ruling on McCutcheon v. FEC. 

As the data stretching back to the 1980s suggests, this has been a long term trend, and is therefore harder for most people to perceive, let alone reverse. "Ordinary citizens," they write, "might often be observed to 'win' (that is, to get their preferred policy outcomes) even if they had no independent effect whatsoever on policy making, if elites (with whom they often agree) actually prevail."




Thomas Jefferson:

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


Thursday, April 17, 2014











"There are over 18,000 ranchers who lease western BLM lands. 

The permits and rates were set by presidential executive order (R. Reagan)- 

'The Federal grazing fee, which applies to Federal lands in 16 Western states on public lands managed by the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service, is adjusted annually and is calculated by using a formula originally set by Congress in the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of 1978. 

Under this formula, as modified and extended by a presidential Executive Order issued in 1986, the grazing fee cannot fall below $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM); also, any fee increase or decrease cannot exceed 25 percent of the previous year’s level. (An AUM is the amount of forage needed to sustain one cow and her calf, one horse, or five sheep or goats for a month.) The grazing fee for 2014 is $1.35 per AUM, the same level as it was in 2013'  

For the most part, the arrangement has been mutually successful, most ranchers love the land as much as anyone, the rates are low, the land is shared with fishermen, hunters and campers and the 'rent' goes to its upkeep."    --BB-Idaho, P.E. commenter