Lee Camp’s premier episode of Redacted Tonight begins with a head-on assault upon Monsanto. It’s hard hitting and deals with extremely serious issues. Here’s the description of the show:
“In this episode, Lee Camp bites into Monsanto, which makes him ill, and John F. O’Donnell gets molested by the tentacles of the billionaire Kochtopus. Obama ends the War in Afghanistan with something other than peace, Chilean magician Papas Fritas makes $500 million in student debt disappear. Sam Sacks examines NSA reform – and by “reform,” we mean ”business as usual.” A second Deutsche Bank video against boasting bankers is mysteriously leaked, and speaking of leaks – radiation is leaking in New Mexico. Tennessee brings back a shocking punishment, and more!”
The U.S. Supreme Court decision to refuse to hear our case concerning Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which permits the military to seize U.S. citizens and hold them indefinitely in military detention centers without due process, means that this provision will continue to be law. It means the nation has entered a post-constitutional era. It means that extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil by our government is legal. It means that the courts, like the legislative and executive branches of government, exclusively serve corporate power—one of the core definitions of fascism. It means that the internal mechanisms of state are so corrupted and subservient to corporate power that there is no hope of reform or protection for citizens under our most basic constitutional rights. It means that the consent of the governed—a poll by OpenCongress.com showed that this provision had a 98 percent disapproval rating—is a cruel joke. And it means that if we do not rapidly build militant mass movements to overthrow corporate tyranny, including breaking the back of the two-party duopoly that is the mask of corporate power, we will lose our liberty.
On May 2, 2014 Vermont became the first state to call for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to reverse the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which precipitated a flood of cash into politics. These were overwhelming votes, and there was bipartisan support.
Are you tired of merely complaining about government corruption? Here’s your chance to do something. I just donated a significant amount of money to the SuperPac Kickstart campaign created by Lawrence Lessig, a tireless leader in the election reform movement. Listen to his 5-minute presentation and then ask yourself, “Isn’t this what I’ve been waiting for?” Please . . . PLEASE listen to this message and consider joining this movement. This approach has real potential to change the way Washington works. You’ll need to get past the dark irony that it will take money to beat money. The battle cry is “Mayday”–our government is going down in flames. Become a proud player in this effort.
Many politicians would claim that college shouldn’t be free and that, in fact, the federal government, which is now a direct provider of many college loans, should pile interest onto student loans. I have two things I’d suggest in response, both of which speak to the systemic corruption of the United States Federal Government:
A mere $62.6 billion dollars! According to new Department of Education data, that’s how much tuition public colleges collected from undergraduates in 2012 across the entire United States. And I’m not being facetious with the word mere, either. The New America Foundation says that the federal government spent a whole $69 billion in 2013 on its hodgepodge of financial aid programs, such as Pell Grants for low-income students, tax breaks, work study funding. And that doesn’t even include loans.
A new study demonstrates that the United states is not a democracy, but an oligarchy. Lee Camp comments on this study:
Common Dreams has also commented on the study, entitled “Testing Theories of American Politics.”
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, 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.
You can find the study here. The following is the bottom line:
The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized
groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government
policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent
influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination
and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or
I realize that I probably look obsessed due to my many posts about government corruption. Perhaps that is because I saw it first-hand when I worked as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Missouri. That was back in the late ’80s, when William Webster served as Missouri Attorney General. My job required me to prosecute consumer fraud. That’s not quite how it worked, however. If the target was a significant contributor, I would be given lots of excuses that good cases were “not good cases.” I resisted for many months, documenting my cases as best I could and refusing to close good files–this behavior confused me at first, but then it became all too clear. Ultimately, several substantial cases against major contributors convinced Webster to transfer me out of of the Trade Offense Division. Because I refused his transfer, Webster fired me.
Little did I know that my experiences would become a focus for the 1992 Missouri Governor’s debate. The debate featured Mel Carnahan (the Democrat) versus William Webster (the Republican). Prior to this debate Webster had held a 20-point lead. The election occurred two weeks after this debate, and Webster conceded by 7:30 pm on election night. During the debate Carnahan blistered Webster with accusations much of the night. You’ll get a flavor for this well-deserved barrage if you watch the first 5 minutes–I was discussed beginning at the 3-minute mark. One other Assistant Attorney General also took a bold stand. After it became clear to him that the office was corrupt, Tom Glassberg resigned, immediately driving to Jefferson City to file ethics charges against Webster. Tom wrote a letter defending my reputation and his letter was published by the Post-Dispatch. It was letter I will never forget. A few sentences were read at the Governor’s Debate.
Those were intense times for me, of course. You can’t solve problems like this in a day. It requires immense patience and diplomacy, and bucking the system is risky. When you start resisting, you quickly see who has both a conscience and a backbone. When I see the constant stream of money for political favors stories, I’m disheartened but resolute. Corrupt money and power are formidable, but they can’t prevail where good people organize. I’m sure that my time as an AAG was formative, and it continues to drive me forward.
One last thought is a sad one for me, however. During the Webster scandal, the St. Louis Post Dispatch was an aggressive newspaper that did real investigative journalism thanks to excellent reporting by several reporters, including Terry Ganey. The Post-Dispatch no longer does significant investigative journalism, as is the case with most newspapers. Reporters across the country are being laid off by the hundreds, and this has led to a huge news vacuum. These days, we simply don’t know what is going on in most corners of our government. Many stories don’t see the light of day, and the mass media offer no local alternatives (local TV “news” tends to be a joke). Hence my non-stop interest in media reform through organization such as Free Press. Media Reform and Election Reform need to be fixed before we can meaningfully address any other issues. That has so sadly become apparent.