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What part of, "The five corporate gangs that run this country," don't people understand?

Why does the reality that, "We now live in an inverted totalitarian corporatocracy," create so much cognitive dissonance among Democrats when they see it spelled-out before them?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: In 2013, when it comes to social issues, there's a big difference between our two major parties. But, as far as the economic positions of those inside the Beltway are concerned, the corporatocracy and its cash rules. The reality in D.C. is that, aside from the Tea Partiers, and apart from social issues, most in both parties are traditional, moderate Reagan Republicans. (It's too bad the folks on Main Streets across America; and far too many in the Democratic blogosphere, never got that memo.)

More proof positive that, at least when it comes to the majority of our elected officials in Washington, D.C., there is no blue and red; it's the never-ending party of the green; and all are invited.

And, these days, there are very few people on the planet spelling this out for us more clearly in dollars and sense cents than UMass Boston Poli-Sci Professor Thomas Ferguson.

A must-read, IMHO...

Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State

Democratic leaders are full-fledged players in the national surveillance state, right along with Republicans.

AlterNet / By Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, Jie Chen
October 21, 2013

Editor's note: This is the first in a new series from AlterNet's New Economic Dialogue Project, edited by Lynn Parramore.

Long before President Obama kicked off his 2008 campaign, many Americans took it for granted that George W. Bush’s vast, sprawling national security apparatus needed to be reined in. For Democrats, many independents, and constitutional experts of various persuasions, Vice President Dick Cheney’s notorious doctrine of the "unitary executive" (which holds that the President controls the entire executive branch), was the ultimate statement of the imperial presidency. It was the royal road to easy (or no) warrants for wiretaps, sweeping assertions of the government’s right to classify information secret, and arbitrary presidential power. When Mitt Romney embraced the neoconservatives in the 2012 primaries, supporters of the President often cited the need to avoid a return to the bad old days of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld National Security State as a compelling reason for favoring his reelection. Reelect President Obama, they argued, or Big Brother might be back.

But that’s not how this movie turned out: The 2012 election proved to be a post-modern thriller, in which the main characters everyone thought they knew abruptly turned into their opposites and the plot thickened just when you thought it was over.

In early June 2013, Glenn Greenwald, then of the Guardian, with an assist from journalists at The Washington Post, electrified the world with stories drawn from documents and testimony from Edward Snowden, an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton working under contract with the National Security Agency, who had fled the country. They broke the news that the U.S. government had been collecting vast amounts of information on not only foreigners, but also American citizens. And the U.S. had been doing this for years with the cooperation of virtually all the leading firms in telecommunications, software, and high tech electronics, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Verizon, and Facebook. Sometimes the government even defrays their costs...

(Continued below the fold.)

(Continued from above.)

...For most election analysts, the revelations came like a bolt from the blue, despite a whole series of warning signs. These included Obama’s rapid fire decision to step up the war in Afghanistan right after he took office, the alacrity and severity with which his administration prosecuted national security whistleblowers after promising greater transparency and the administration’s sweeping claims about the government’s right to hold citizens without trial for indefinite periods. Not to mention the Justice Department’s insistence that killing American citizens without any kind of court hearing is lawful, the efforts to prosecute journalists for simply posting links to leaked documents, the overkill that attended official responses to the Occupy movement and protests at the national party conventions, or the White House claims that press freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights do not cover bloggers in an era in which everyone, including the New York Times, uses blogs.

Even now, the suggestion that the Obama administration embodies a distinctively new form of extensively privatized National Security State organically linked with the famously contentious Bush-Cheney structures takes some getting used to.  In particular, many readers are likely to wonder what a bitter, partisan stalemate such as the U.S. just witnessed over raising the debt ceiling can possibly mean in a situation where Big Brother and Big Money are working hand in hand through it all.

As the storm over surveillance broke, we were completing a statistical analysis of campaign contributions in 2012, using an entirely new dataset that we constructed from the raw material provided by the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenues Service (which compiles contributions from so-called “527”s).  In light of what has transpired, our quantitative analysis of presidential election funding invites closer scrutiny, particularly of the finding that we had already settled upon as perhaps most important:  In sharp contrast to endlessly repeated claims that big business was deeply suspicious of the President, our statistical results show that a large and powerful bloc of  “industries of the future” – telecommunications, high tech, computers, and software – showed essentially equal or higher percentages of support for the President in 2012 than they did for Romney...

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UPDATE: Noon (EDT), October 24, 2013:

Today’s DKos’ “Economics Daily Digest: Campaign finance meets PRISM,” by the Roosevelt Institute…

Party Competition and Industrial Structure in the 2012 Elections

Download the paper (PDF).

This working paper by Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen, and Jie Chen analyzes patterns of industrial structure and party competition in the 2012 presidential election. The analysis rests on a new and more comprehensive campaign finance database that catches far more of the myriad ways businesses and major investors make political contributions than previous studies. By drawing on this unified database, the paper is able to show that both major parties depend on very large donors to a greater extent than past studies have estimated.

The paper outlines the firm and sectoral bases of support for the major party nominees, as well as for Republican candidates who competed for the GOP presidential nomination. The paper shows that President Obama’s support within big business was broader than hitherto recognized. A central conclusion is that many major companies in the sectors most involved in the recent controversies over surveillance were among the president’s strongest supporters. The paper also analyzes patterns of business support for the Tea Party in Congress, showing that certain parts of business are more supportive of Tea Party candidates than others. The role of climate change, financial regulation, and other issues in the election is discussed at length.

Key Findings


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For more on this, checkout this post, from 10 months ago...

"Revealed: 'Why the Pundits Are Wrong About Big Money and the 2012 Elections,' Thomas Ferguson, et al"
Daily Kos
December 22, 2012

I strongly encourage you to checkout Thomas Ferguson's (et al) latest post on Alternet. It's the closest thing I've read to a factual summary of the state of electoral politics in the U.S. (circa 2012). It’s loaded with statistical data and graphics; but it's still very easy to read. And, IMHO, it's an absolute must-read for all interested in the current, inconvenient reality of our country’s supposed “two-party system.” As economist Joseph Stiglitz has told us, time and time again: “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%."

Revealed: Why the Pundits Are Wrong About Big Money and the 2012 Elections
Thomas Ferguson, Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston,
Paul Jorgensen, Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Texas, and
Jie Chen, University Statistician at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
December 20, 2012

Analysts of American elections routinely confuse the voice of the people with the sound of money  talking. Habitual modes of thought and long standing incentives to reaffirm the democratic faith encourage grasping at straws. Pundits become hopeful that big money doesn’t matter as much as they feared, and that democracy is alive and well.

In the Spring of 2012, however, as Mitt Romney’s Super Pacs carpet bombed the rest of the Republican field into oblivion, falling into that trap became much harder. It was obvious that a handful of multimillionaires were playing pivotal roles in the election. Despite some talk about small donors in President Obama’s campaign, the general election enhanced the impression that American politics was sliding into a new and sinister phase…

Our conclusion is that there is nothing paradoxical about the Republican loss. One  campaign funded largely by the super-rich lost to another just about as affluently funded.

On another occasion we will pursue the question of what this might mean for the future. For now we remind readers that the dynamics of campaigns funded mostly by major investors are quite different  than the campaigns imagined by traditional democratic theory: “Big Money’s most significant impact on politics is certainly not to deliver elections to the highest bidders. Instead it is to cement parties, candidates, and campaigns into the narrow range of issues that are acceptable to big donors. The basis of the “Golden Rule” in politics derives from the simple fact that running for major office in the U.S. is fabulously expensive.  In the absence of large scale social movements, only political positions that can be financed can be presented to voters. On issues on which all major investors agree (think of the now famous 1 percent), no party competition at all takes place, even if everyone knows that heavy majorities of voters want something else.” (Thomas Ferguson, Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen, AlterNet).

So when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who is now in charge of the talks on the fiscal cliff for the White House, tells reporters  that the administration would like to include Social Security in the negotiations, pay attention.

(Bold type is diarist’s emphasis.)

A couple of Ferguson’s more important books: “Right Turn: The Decline of the Democrats and the Future of American Politics,” and “Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems.”

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