"[T]he corrupting influence of money is the first problem facing this nation. That unless we solve this problem, we won’t solve anything else... The Framers, Lessig says, had just one kind of dependence in mind for members of Congress: a dependence on the people. He quotes The Federalist (the then-anonymous essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay that are often used as a contemporary account of the Framers’ intentions) to make this point: number 52 describes the House of Representatives as that “branch of the federal government which ought to be dependent on the people alone” (emphasis added).
But in the last two decades, Lessig writes, members of Congress have developed a fearsome dependency: campaign cash. The total amount spent on campaigns by all candidates for Congress in 2010 was $1.8 billion. Fundraising has become a way of life..." (via 3 Quarks Daily)
posted by caddis
on Aug 1, 2012 -
"Here’s a paper we’re working on, which argues that we should (for some purposes at least), think of markets, hierarchy and democracy in terms of their capacity to solve complex collective problems [and] makes the case that democracy will on average do the job a lot better
than the other two ways..." Henry Farrell and Cosma Shalizi on a cognitive approach to democracy
posted by daniel_charms
on May 24, 2012 -
Is SEO killing America?
Clay Johnson about how media gives us what we want, not what we need, and how it's destroying democracy. If you don't have time or can't watch a 17 minute video, read this article
discussing and summarizing the video.
posted by desjardins
on Mar 2, 2012 -
Lego figurines, Kinder surprises and other toys played the role of 'demonstrators'.
Police in Siberian city ask prosecutors to investigate legality of protest involving display of toy figures holding miniature placards. "Political opposition forces are using new technologies to carry out public events – using toys with placards at mini-protests," Andrei Mulintsev, the city's deputy police chief, said at a press conference this week, according to local media. "In our opinion, this is still an unsanctioned public event." [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu
on Jan 26, 2012 -
On 1 January Hungary's new Constitution came into effect which, amongst other things, entrenches the power
of the current ruling party, FIDESZ, and enshrines social issues such as the right of the unborn child. Many so-called cardinal laws have been passed in Parliament which requires a 2/3 majority to change.
The president of the EU, José Barroso wrote
to the Hungarian Prime Minister, Victor Orbán, requesting a rethink of two such laws which impact the political independence to the Central Bank. This was
by the Hungarian government.
Economically things are tough with Hungary requesting
additional IMF assistance but they withdrew
from informal talks, citing concern over the independence of the central bank. Hungary's debt was downgraded
to junk status with rating agencies citing concerned at the relationship with the IMF. [more inside]
posted by vac2003
on Jan 3, 2012 -
Rethinking the Idea of 'Christian Europe'. Kenan Malik's
essay is awarded 3 Quarks Daily's
Top Quark for politics & social science by judge Stephen M. Walt
: "Soldiers in today’s culture wars believe 'European civilization' rests on a set of unchanging principles that are perennially under siege—from godless communism, secular humanism, and most recently, radical Islam. For many of these zealots, what makes the 'West' unique are its Judeo-Christian roots. In this calm and elegantly-written reflection on the past two millenia, Malik shows that Christianity is only one of the many sources of 'Western' culture, and that many of the ideas we now think of as 'bedrock' values were in fact borrowed from other cultures. This essay is a potent antidote to those who believe a 'clash of civilizations' is inevitable—if not already underway—and the moral in Malik’s account could not be clearer. Openness to outside influences has been the true source of European prominence; erecting ramparts against others will impoverish and endanger us all."
posted by homunculus
on Dec 19, 2011 -
David Graeber profile
: Meet the anthropologist, activist
], and anarchist who helped transform a hapless rally into a global protest movement
... " 'Most people don't think anarchism is a bad idea. They think it's insane,' says Graeber. 'Yeah, sure it would be great
not to have prisons and police and hierarchical structures of authority, but everybody would just start killing each other. That wouldn't work, right?' Graeber's father, however, had seen it work
posted by kliuless
on Nov 27, 2011 -
"By putting an [unelected] senior adviser at Goldman Sachs in charge of a Western nation, it has taken to new heights the political power of an investment bank that you might have thought was prohibitively politically toxic."
This is The Goldman Sachs Project [more inside]
posted by rubyrudy
on Nov 18, 2011 -
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable.
The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study
. More on the Declaration: full transcript
and ultra-high-resolution scan
, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft
, the little-known royal rebuttal
, a thorough history of the parchment itself
, a peek at the archival process
, a reading of the document by the people of NPR
and by a group of prominent actors
, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation
, Slate's Twitter summaries
, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers
posted by Rhaomi
on Jul 4, 2011 -
Voters Have Up to Five Times More Influence in Early Primaries.
'Voters in states with early primary races such as Iowa and New Hampshire have up to five times the influence of voters in later states in selecting presidential candidates, according to research by Brown University economist Brian Knight. The paper, the first to quantify the effects of early victories in the race for the presidential nomination, is co-authored by Nathan Schiff and published in The Journal of Political Economy
."Evidence that early voters have a disproportionate influence over the selection of candidates violates 'one person-one vote' -- a democratic ideal on which our nation is based."' [more inside]
posted by VikingSword
on Jun 10, 2011 -
On May 23, 1861, Spotsylvania County, Virginia voted 1323 - 0 in favor of succession from the Union. Historian John Hennessy provides an explanation
of how that vote came to be a perfect 100% in favor of succession. So people rebelling against "Northern tyranny" themselves used tyranny to rig a vote that was undoubtedly going to go overwhelmingly in their favor anyway?
posted by COD
on May 27, 2011 -
Anger, Politics and the Wisdom of Uncertainty
- "If there's somebody or even some institution to blame, it turns out people are much more likely to get angry... anger tends to inspire individuals to engage in more political activities than they would otherwise... Without someone to blame, respondents mostly just grow fearful and anxious... A particular danger of anger seems to be closed-mindedness. Research finds that when citizens get angry, they close themselves off to alternative views and redouble their sense of conviction in their existing views. Fear and anxiety, on the other hand, seem to promote openness to alternative viewpoints and a willingness to compromise." (via
) [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on May 18, 2011 -
Current TV previously & previously
, the media company founded by Al Gore after the 2000 election, has picked up the kinds of in depth long form journalism being rapidly dropped by major networks, but has been tantalizingly unavailable for those without cable; until now. They have been putting their Vanguard episodes up on their website and on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Apr 30, 2011 -
New Hampshire House Republicans are pushing for new laws that would prohibit many college students from voting in the state - and effectively keep some from voting at all. "Voting as a liberal. That's what kids do," [State Speaker William O'Brien] added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack "life experience," and "they just vote their feelings."
. Yick Wo
posted by Navelgazer
on Mar 8, 2011 -
How to Hack the Dictatorship. "Gene Sharp
is an American intellectual whose ideas can be fatal to the world's despots. For decades, Mr. Sharp's practical writings
on nonviolent revolution — most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt." His fame is spreading
posted by storybored
on Feb 17, 2011 -
Deacon Dodge has a couple of posts (here
) about religion, freedom and democracy amid the turmoil of Egypt. [more inside]
posted by KMH
on Feb 4, 2011 -