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Larry Lessig Launches Presidential Bid to Reform Campaign Finances Then Resign

August 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet

Have a serious issue? Why not run?


The Paul Revere of campaign finance reform rides again.

Larry Lessig, the Harvard professor-turned-constitutional reformer who for years has been publicly banging his head against the corrupting ways that begging for campaign contributions corrupts candidates and bends the governing class to servicing the rich and powerful, is forming an exploratory committee to run for president.

In a three-minute YouTube video posted Monday, Lessig said that an “intervention” was needed to break American political culture’s addictive dance with rich donors, that “hack[ing] the system” was the “only way” the “death star they call D.C.,” could be destroyed and democracy restored.    

“Most Americans think the way we fund campaigns in America is crazy and corrupt,” Lessig began. “Did you know the number of relevant funders in campaigns today represents a tiny fraction of one percent of the population? The consequence of that system is a democracy that’s responsive to those funders only.”

Lessig is making a serious critique—but then turns to a novel remedy that invites ridicule—running for the White House but promising to resign after Congress enacts sweeping reforms. His video quickly puts the blame on Congress and then calls on people to help him blow up the system.

“Congress, however, has done squat little to fix this corrupt system,” he said. “They whine a bunch about it, but Congress has not voted on a proposal to change the way campaigns are funded in more than 20 years. A representative democracy is supposed to represent us, but sometimes it can’t. Sometimes it gets stuck and can’t hear us. Sometimes it needs an intervention. They’re stuck in a corrupted and unequal system. They need an intervention. And that’s why we are going to have to hack the system to intervene.” 

Then Lessig made his pitch—launching a single-issue presidential campaign based on the promise to pressure Congress to replace the current fundraising regimen with what presumably would be a system of taxpayer funded grants, which would make elected officials more responsive to average Americans.   

“Imagine someone ran for president with the single promise to remain as president …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'I'm Dry-Trumping': Stephen Colbert Talks Politics, Dropping the Character and His Election-Year Excitement

August 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Anna Silman, Salon

Colbert is almost as excited as we are for his return to TV.


On Monday, Colbert spoke at the Television Critics Association about his plans for his “Late Show,” which premieres on CBS on September 8. According to accounts of the panel from Variety and Deadline, he is just excited as we are.

“The emotion I have right now, it’s not anxiety over doing the show. It’s anxiety of the eagerness to get onstage,” Colbert explained while taking questions from an audience of TV critics and reporters, adding that he is eager to shed his Colbert Report persona for the new show. “One of the reasons why I most wanted to drop the character is that I felt I had done everything I could do with him other than have my honest interest in my guest, which is almost constant. Now I feel actually more freed up. That was in some ways the most energetic, the most exciting part of the show to me and now I don’t have to hold back at all.”

Plus, Colbert explains, audiences already know who the ‘real’ Stephen Colbert is. “If you’re wondering who the real Stephen Colbert is, there’s a supercut of me breaking character the entire time… That guy who can’t stop laughing, that‘s the real Stephen Colbert. I can’t wait for that to be the only guy you see.”

Explaining that CBS has been very good about handing him the reins and has asked “nothing of [him], other than I fill an hour every night,” he hinted that there might be some changes to the staid late night monologue format. “I don’t think anything I’ve done on my last show or this show is necessarily traditional, other than what the pieces are,” he conceded when asked about the show’s opening. “We’re gonna try to put them together in a new way.”

Meanwhile, Colbert revealed one element that will be getting a substantial overhaul is the physical space. On a suggestion from David Letterman, Colbert has moved his desk to the other side of the Ed Sullivan Theater stage, which has been …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Mark Thornton: The Latest Greek Debt Deal Only Works if Government Spending Is Cut

August 11, 2015 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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Mark Thornton: The Latest Greek Debt Deal Only Works if Government Spending Is Cut

August 11, 2015

With the latest round of talks between European creditors and Greek debtors, there is renewed talk of austerity. But, as Mark Thornton points out in this video, “austerity” only works when it means actual cutting of government spending on government-employee salaries, on government…

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Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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Guess What Happened When Heavily Armed White Men Roamed the Streets of Ferguson

August 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Shaun King, Daily Kos

Arrests? Ha!


Not a damn thing.

Late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, a group of heavily armed white men calling themselves “Oath Keepers” showed up soon after police left and began patrolling the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, guns and white privilege on full display. Mind you, peaceful protestors were arrested eight hours before this for simply filming the police and two reporters were just charged with multiple crimes for not leaving a McDonald's quickly enough.

Yet these men show up in a neighborhood that's not their own with fully loaded assault rifles and we can't even find a photo of police asking them for their ID or registration. They were left completely alone. Below is a real-time account of what happened.

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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AlterNet Comics: Jen Sorensen on a Trump Presidency

August 11, 2015 in Blogs

By Jen Sorensen, AlterNet

Here are some of the things we'd have to look forward to!


 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Will the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Live Up to Its Promise?

August 11, 2015 in Economics

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations were launched to great fanfare in mid-2013 with the pronouncement that a comprehensive deal would be reached by the end of 2014 on a “single tank of gas.” But after more than two years and 10 rounds of negotiations, an agreement is nowhere in sight and substantive differences remain between the parties. What are the prospects for fulfilling the promise of a comprehensive trade and investment deal between the United States and the European Union?

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Source: CATO HEADLINES

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Good, Bad, and Ugly GOP Foreign Policy: Chris Christie among Worst as No Republican Stands for Peace

August 11, 2015 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The GOP’s ten-man “adult” debate in Cleveland was spirited, but shed little light on foreign policy. There were important differences among the participants, but few were exposed. For instance, elsewhere Donald Trump opined that Crimea was Europe’s problem and asked why Washington still defended South Korea. These are important sentiments which indicate that the bombastic billionaire has more functioning brain cells than do his more mainstream opponents.

No multi-candidate forum can delve deeply into such complex issues. However, even those Republicans who have attempted to impress by giving formal foreign policy addresses have come up short. The GOP contenders have been largely captured by a reflexive, even rabid interventionism which ignores consequences and experience.

The position of several candidates can be summarized as “kill a foreigner for Jesus.” They profess to love God even as they seek to wreak death and destruction around the globe. Leading the hawks is Sen. Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate’s unabashedly pro-war caucus. In the hawkish middle some candidates demonstrate hints of reluctance—Ted Cruz and John Kasich broke with neoconservative orthodoxy on Syria and the Balkans, respectively. Sen. Rand Paul brings up the rear, uncomfortably gyrating between his father and the GOP conventional wisdom.

At least he admitted that “invading Iraq was a mistake.” The others almost uniformly ignore the disastrous consequences of that conflict. Rick Santorum believes the Islamic State magically “came about because they hate everything that we believe in,” rather than as an off-shoot of al-Qaeda created by Bush’s war. However, when it comes to Iran everyone, including Paul, prefers to play for votes by posturing as champions of Israel even if it means another Middle Eastern war.

Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush have given longer addresses, attempting to play the role of profound international thinkers, yet all offered the usual neocon clichés, huffing and puffing about American greatness, insisting on the panacea of U.S. “leadership,” and acting as if a presidential frown is enough to bring the globe into line with Washington’s dreams of glory. Indeed, they apparently believe that simply intoning “leadership” is sufficient to resolve America’s many international challenges.

Christie easily staked his claim to being most committed to violating Americans’ civil liberties through surveillance of dubious value. He cited the importance of intelligence after his party ignored the warnings of intelligence professionals and shaded the evidence to back the Bush invasion of Iraq. He denounced Edward Snowden: “When …read more

Source: OP-EDS