corporatism

The ideology of the Deep State is about maintaining and enhancing power - and cashing in afterwards. It is worth noting that almost all senior national security operatives never retire after leaving government; they cash in with consultancies and board memberships with security-related corporations. It’s not that no one ever truly retires, but like snakes in Ireland, they are a vanishingly rare phenomenon. It is profoundly in the material interest of these operatives to defend the Deep State so as to keep the cash flowing. When they complain about the CIA being subject to shifting political winds, they are expressing distaste for the very processes of elective politics that constitute the democracy they once swore to defend. Their demand for secrecy is really a penchant for self-dealing without public scrutiny.
  • nature:*does like one million groundbreaking shit during the day that can be applied to aid humanity's survival and relationship with it*
  • corporations:i got it we'll smash the earth, contaminating it a bit to get some energy
  • corporations:heres something cool lets literally throw our compiled trash into the oceans
  • corporations:wow have you ever thought about going to another planet and living like this there too? what a time
  • nature:no like check me out, I can show you how to live right if you study m-
  • corporations:but when profit now?
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Meet Network News Service, the ABC-, CBS-, and Fox- owned cooperative that brings you the same canned local news, no matter where you live or what network you’re watching
May 1, 2013

If you’ve ever seen the video above, or this one or this one, you’ve probably wondered just how it happens that local news stations on different networks around the country report the same stories… in exactly the same ways.

Wonder no more, because the lone pamphleteer did some digging and and came up with some pretty interesting dirt on the Network News Service (NNS), a “pioneering" organization formed in 2000 by ABC News One (owned by Disney), CBS Newspath, and Fox News Edge with the goal of cutting costs for all three networks by pooling resources and sharing footage. Over 500 affiliates of the three networks were members as of 2005, meaning they receive the prepackaged footage, soundbites, and scripted leads to which the local stations could add their own original spin.

To get around the appearance of colluding (and presumably to avoid criminal liability for anti-competitive behavior) NNS doesn’t allow the same footage to flow to two competing affiliates in the same city, although affiliates of each network could play the same footage at the same time as long as they are all in different cities.

Much of this information comes from a very revealing CBS blog post about NNS from 2005, which relates the obvious reasons for why all three networks would want to enter into this deal. They only have to set up one camera at events, for one, and they all tend to voluntarily share with each other “because of the cooperative nature of NNS”— “they know they must participate in order to reap the organization’s benefits.” And, of course, it gives the three networks a competitive edge over NBC and CNN.

Three of the largest American media conglomerates cooperating in the production and distribution of news sounds like a great business plan to me, but doesn’t that violate Federal Communications Commission rules about competition and monopoly? It probably would have before the FCC deregulated the telecommunications industry, first under Reagan, and then further under Clinton following the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Now, as this chart demonstrates, a handful of massive corporations owns and controls most of our media, from initial production to final distribution— and with little regulatory oversight. And, lest you think we might start correcting this dangerous course soon, this just in: Obama’s new pick for FCC chairman has been a top lobbyist for the cable industry since 1979 (and more recently for wireless companies), probably championing a lot of the policies that led to such drastic consolidation.

In an even more dystopic twist on its business model, NNS began employing what appears to be robots in 2008 (or earlier). Generation Technologies Corporation (GTC) provides NNS with its “next generation network newsroom and affiliate content management system. The system known as NIM™ is based on GTC’s Newsroom Information Model.”

[GTC’s products] include software and hardware for all aspects of managing a network television newsroom from the assignment desk to the contribution and distribution of video clips and news wires. GTC provides industry tested bundled solutions using a standards-based, open-architecture framework.

If you can figure out what that means, let me know.

Unsurprisingly, in 2010, TV Newser (slogan: “And Now the News… About TV News”) reported that NNS was laying off a number of (living) employees as part of a series of “’sensible adjustments that reflect the partners’ needs as NNS evolves,’ and that new IP transmission technology changed the needs of the organization.” I think that means computers took over the production and distribution of the news, but I could be wrong. According to another press release,

Generation Technologies will use a combination of NIM ‘n-tier’ newsroom technology, Microsoft’s NT and Microsoft’s SQL replication technologies and will provide the main Fox News Edge, CBS Newspath and ABC NewsOne affiliate newsrooms with full metadata replication. Generation Technologies will be interfacing to NNS’s high end Montage video servers.

Again, let me know.

I’m not quite sure what to make of my newfound knowledge about Network News Service or the murky underworld of corporate news manufacturing that it reveals, but it certainly deepens my distrust and skepticism of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, it looks like the Koch Brothers are about to buy up the Tribune Company, which would include The Chicago Tribune, The L.A. Times, and The Baltimore Sun. I bet that’s one headline that won’t be syndicated ad nauseum on the news tonight.

-The Lone Pamphleteer

Corporations have captured every major institution, including the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, and deformed them to exclusively serve the demands of the market. They have, in the process, demolished civil society.

Follow the money:

1.) Police Unions: Police departments across the country have become dependent on federal drug war grants to finance their budget. In March, we published a story revealing that a police union lobbyist in California coordinated the effort to defeat Prop 19, a ballot measure in 2010 to legalize marijuana, while helping his police department clients collect tens of millions in federal marijuana-eradication grants. And it’s not just in California. Federal lobbying disclosures show that other police union lobbyists have pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana-related crimes nationwide.

2.) Private Prisons Corporations: Private prison corporations make millions by incarcerating people who have been imprisoned for drug crimes, including marijuana. As Republic Report’s Matt Stoller noted last year, Corrections Corporation of America, one of the largest for-profit prison companies, revealed in a regulatory filing that continuing the drug war is part in parcel to their business strategy. Prison companies have spent millions bankrolling pro-drug war politicians and have used secretive front groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council, to pass harsh sentencing requirements for drug crimes.

3.) Alcohol and Beer Companies: Fearing competition for the dollars Americans spend on leisure, alcohol and tobacco interests have lobbied to keep marijuana out of reach. For instance, the California Beer & Beverage Distributors contributed campaign contributions to a committee set up to prevent marijuana from being legalized and taxed.

4.) Pharmaceutical Corporations: Like the sin industries listed above, pharmaceutical interests would like to keep marijuana illegal so American don’t have the option of cheap medical alternatives to their products. Howard Wooldridge, a retired police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the “second biggest opponent on Capitol Hill is big PhRMA” because marijuana can replace “everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills.”

5.) Prison Guard Unions: Prison guard unions have a vested interest in keeping people behind bars just like for-profit prison companies. In 2008, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association spent a whopping $1 million to defeat a measure that would have “reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison.”

I wonder how many people don’t know that long before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts was a critic of the Voting Rights Act for 30 years. When he was in his late 20s, Roberts was a foot soldier in Ronald Reagan's crusade against the Voting Rights Act.

Having Roberts preside over any civil rights cases —like the Voting Rights Act and Affirmative Action— makes about as much sense as having Clarence Thomas being involved in cases with his former employer, Monsanto.

[…]

Moving on to crony capitalism and the  making of an oligarchy…the Roberts court has not only ruled decidedly against civil rights cases which are disproportionately detrimental to Black people, they have also reliably ruled in favor of big business more often than not.

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Even the average politico can’t be expected to remember the make up of SCOTUS from one chief justice to the next, but I can’t help believing that if there’s any modicum of true justice in the world, the Roberts court and Roberts himself will ultimately be remembered by history as having been uniquely harmful to America and democracy writ large.

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(photos via msnbc.com and theusconstitution.org)

The idea is that since the main goal of all private corporations is to make money, they’ll be much more willing than the government is to cut costs and eliminate waste. The result, conservatives and libertarians say, will be more efficient, responsible, and responsive services. That’s the theory, at least. In reality, privatization of public services has been a total disaster wherever it’s been tried. And, as a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy shows, it’s also created huge opportunities for fraud and corruption. The report, which was released today and is titled “Pay to Prey,” focuses on how Republican governors in states all across the country used the cover of privatization to enrich campaign donors and political cronies. The worst culprits include some the biggest names in Republican politics.

Private Prison Profits Skyrocket, as Executives Assure Investors of ‘Growing Offender Population’
by Nicole Flatow for ThinkProgress.org

A major U.S. private prison operator known for inmate abuse, violations, and disregard for the truth reported a 56-percent spike in profit in the first quarter of 2013, due in part to its new strategy for drastically reducing its taxes, the Associated Press reports. During a conference call touting its success, representatives at GEO Group boasted that the company continues to have “solid occupancy rates in mid to high 90s” and that they are optimistic “regarding the outlook for the industry,” in part due to a “growing offender population.” GEO Senior Vice President John Hurley assured investors during the call:

We have a longstanding partnership with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Marshal Service and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. … We continue to see meaningful opportunities for us to partner with all three of these federal agencies, notwithstanding the various issues with the federal budget, which we believe will have no material negative impact on our business. The federal bureau of prisons continues to face capacity constraints coupled with a growing offender population.

The federal prison population has swelled 790 percent since 1980, in large part due to draconian drug and immigration laws. And the United States maintains the title of the world’s number one jailer. Private prison operators nonetheless remain enthusiastic about the prospects of high incarceration rates for business. Representatives on this call shied away from the strong language fellow prison firm Corrections Corporation of America used during its investor call in February, when CEO Damon Hininger assured a strong “continued demand for beds” even after immigration reform. GEO executives explained that they are now taking the position that “discussing our approach and strategies about any particular procurement is really not in the best interest of our company or our shareholders.”

Following a trend of corporations achieving dramatic tax reductions by becoming a real estate investment trust (REIT) – a mechanism historically reserved for firms holding real estate as an investment — both GEO and fellow prison operator Corrections Corporation of America successfully persuaded the Internal Revenue Service recently that they are essentially holding real estate, analogizing prisoners to renters paid for by the government. In reality, the job of running a prison is only nominally about the facility where it’s housed, and primarily about ensuring humane prisoner treatment, inmate rehabilitation, and public safety. But private prison corporations charging “rent” to house prisoners make no more or less money depending on whether they achieve these goals, particularly not when immense political spending to lobby for incarceration and privatization outweighs the public pressure from widely reported abuses at private facilities.