Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Collusion




52 U.S. Code § 30121 - Contributions and donations by foreign nationals:

52 U.S.C. 
United States Code, 2014 Edition
Title 52 - VOTING AND ELECTIONS
Subtitle III - Federal Campaign Finance
CHAPTER 301 - FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGNS
SUBCHAPTER I - DISCLOSURE OF FEDERAL CAMPAIGN FUNDS
Sec. 30121 - Contributions and donations by foreign nationals
From the U.S. Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov

§  30121. Contributions and donations by foreign nationals

 (a) Prohibition

It shall be unlawful for—
(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make—
(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;
(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or
(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or
(2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

 (b) "Foreign national" defined

As used in this section, the term "foreign national" means—
(1) a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section 611(b) of title 22, except that the term "foreign national" shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States; or
(2) an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 1101(a)(22) of title 8) and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by section 1101(a)(20) of title 8.
(Pub. L. 92–225, title III, §319, formerly §324, as added Pub. L. 94–283, title I, §112(2), May 11, 1976, 90 Stat. 493; renumbered §319, Pub. L. 96–187, title I, §105(5), Jan. 8, 1980, 93 Stat. 1354; amended Pub. L. 107–155, title III, §§303, 317, Mar. 27, 2002, 116 Stat. 96, 109.)

         Codification

Section was formerly classified to section 441e of Title 2, The Congress, prior to editorial reclassification and renumbering as this section.

Prior Provisions
A prior section 319 of Pub. L. 92–225 was renumbered section 314, and is classified to section 30115 of this title.
Another prior section 319 of Pub. L. 92–225 was renumbered section 318, and was classified to section 439b of Title 2, The Congress, prior to repeal by Pub. L. 96–187.

        Amendments

2002—Pub. L. 107–155, §303(1), substituted "Contributions and donations by foreign nationals" for "Contributions by foreign nationals" in section catchline.
Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 107–155, §303(2), added subsec. (a) and struck out former subsec. (a) which read as follows: "It shall be unlawful for a foreign national directly or through any other person to make any contribution of money or other thing of value, or to promise expressly or impliedly to make any such contribution, in connection with an election to any political office or in connection with any primary election, convention, or caucus held to select candidates for any political office; or for any person to solicit, accept, or receive any such contribution from a foreign national."
Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 107–155, §317, inserted "or a national of the United States (as defined in section 1101(a)(22) of title 8)" after "United States".

       Effective Date of 2002 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 107–155 effective Nov. 6, 2002, see section 402 of Pub. L. 107–155, set out as an Effective Date of 2002 Amendment; Regulations note under section 30101 of this title. 




Sunday, July 29, 2018

"Trump...more ignorant and more dangerous to our democracy than I assumed"-Diane Ravitch




Dear Readers,
Most of you have been faithful readers of this blog since I started it in 2012. I consider you my friends, even when we disagree. You have tolerated (and even corrected) my typos and errors because you know that everything I write here is written by me, not by a staff. I am the only staff.
You know that I worked for President George H.W. Bush from 1991-1993. I served on the NAEP board for seven years (appointed by Bill Clinton and Secretary Riley). I was a conservative on education issues until about 2007 or so, when the realization hit me that NCLB was a failure. Obama’s Race to the Top was more of the same test-and-punish regime. I experienced a political conversion. I publicly renounced my support for testing and choice in a book called “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education,” and followed up with “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.”
I support public schools, students, unions, teachers, and parents. I fight for a real education, one that encourages young people to think and question, one that endows them with a love of learning. I recognize the role of poverty and racism in harming children, families, and communities. I oppose high-stakes testing and privatization in all its forms.
These past few years have been challenging, because the blog is supposed to be about education, not about national politics. In 2016, I made clear that I would endorse whoever was nominated by the Democrats, because the Republican Party had taken a strong stand in favor of privatizing our nation’s public schools, attacking teachers’ unions, and undermining the teaching profession. I would have supported Clinton or Sanders, even though neither was perfect on education issues. Clinton won the nomination and I supported her.
Since the election, I have come to see Trump as the charlatan that he has always been, but more ignorant and more dangerous to our democracy than I assumed. His policies–like withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, attacking Roe v. Wade, demonizing immigrants, and relinquishing public lands for drilling and privatization of everything–are appalling. He knows nothing of foreign or domestic policy. He has no values or beliefs other than personal ego and self-enrichment. He undermines our standing in the world by attacking other democratic nations and acting obsequious towards tyrants. He is a racist, a misogynist, a xenophobe. He sees no difference between white nationalists (KKK) and those who stand up to them. His boasting, his narcissism, and self-love know no limits.
I have tried to keep national politics out of my blog, but it has proved to be impossible because I think our nation is in crisis due to its dangerous and ignorant leader. The Republicans are rushing Trump’s judicial nominations through the Senate, stacking the federal bench with people who share Trump’s biases and who are receiving lifetime appointments. Trump’s legacy will remain in the courts for decades to come, thanks to his Republican enablers.
I cannot remain silent. I cannot pretend that education and national politics are separate domains. They are not.
The blog will continue to be an education blog. If we allow grifters and for-profit corporations to open their own schools, we forfeit the future. If we divert funding from public schools to subsidize privately-run unaccountable charters and unregulated religious schools, we harm our children while subtracting money from regulated, transparent, and accountable public schools.
As many of you know, I am writing a book about the Corporate Reform movement and the Resistance. I am excited about the book.
I am writing it as I continue to post comments and blogs. I am about half-way through the book.
Bear with me.
If you like Trump, you won’t like what I post. I consider him to be a menace, a clear and present danger to our nation and the world. Read or don’t read. It’s your choice.
If you share my fears for our future as a nation, stay with me.
If you care about the future of public education, stay with me.
Thank you,
Diane
For Diane Ravitch's Blog, Click Here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

New Experimental Drug Being Tested for Alzheimer’s Disease/Researchers Conclude Lowering Blood Pressure Reduces Mild Cognitive Impairment




“An experimental drug being tested to see if it can treat Alzheimer’s disease helped slow the inevitable loss of clear thinking and memory that comes with the condition, researchers reported Wednesday, [July 25, 2018].

“It’s a rare success in a field littered with failures. No drug has yet been shown to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, which affects more than 5 million Americans and has no cure. And this one is no home run. Everyone who took the drug continued to get worse. But those who got the highest doses got worse more slowly.

“‘We had a 47 percent reduction in decline at 18 months,’ Dr. Lynn Kramer, chief medical officer of the neurology division of drug company Eisai, told reporters. It was the second piece of good news on the Alzheimer’s front.



“Earlier Wednesday, researchers reported that lowering blood pressure to recommended levels was safe and reduced the rate of mild cognitive impairment — a precursor of dementia — by 20 percent.


“Eisai and its U.S. partner Biogen presented results to an eager audience at the Alzheimer’s Association annual meeting in Chicago Wednesday. They’ve been treating more than 800 patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s with various doses of the drug, called BAN2401. It’s a monoclonal antibody, a lab-engineered immune system protein designed to remove amyloid plaques from the brain.

“One leading theory about Alzheimer’s is that these amyloid clogs cause the disease. ‘This is the first large trial to support the amyloid hypothesis,’ Kramer said. The drug cleared the plaques from the brains of the patients, by 93 percent at the highest dose.

“Dr. James Hendrix, director of global science initiatives at the Alzheimer’s Association, says the findings are significant. ‘Not only do we see a slowing in the rate of cognitive decline, we also see that reduction of amyloid burden in the brain as measured by amyloid PET (imaging),’ Hendrix told NBC News. ‘That biomarker confirmation really adds confidence that what you are seeing in the primary measure is real.’

“Still, the researchers had to tweak the results to be able to declare a success. When the trial was at the 12-month point, they said, they didn’t see a benefit. Now, after their patients have been infused with the drug for 18 months, they say they can see an effect.

“Now, Hendrix said, the companies will have to design an advanced trial called a Phase 3 clinical trial — the final stage before seeking full Food and Drug Administration approval.20
1801:41
“Dr. Howard Fillit, founding executive director of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, supports the way Biogen and Eisai changed the study. ‘The Biogen studies are being done in a different way than all of the studies we have done for the past 40 years,’ Fillit, who was not involved in the research, told NBC News.

“‘The Biogen study took advantage of everything that we have learned about doing modern, efficient clinical trials.’ He called the results ‘amazing’ — especially the reduction of amyloid in the brain.

“It’s difficult to describe what a 47 percent decrease in in the worsening of symptoms looks like, researchers said. The patients all took a battery of tests used to diagnose and define Alzheimer’s. ‘When you are talking about early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, you are talking about people who are living pretty well and still able to live independently at home,’ Hendrix said. ‘If you are able to slow that decline, that means they may be able to keep that quality of life for more time.’

“One problem is a side effect that causes the brain to swell, which has been seen in all the monoclonal antibodies tried against Alzheimer’s. This affected about 10 percent of the patients. ‘This is the second Alzheimer’s clinical trial that has demonstrated both clearance of amyloid from the brain and cognitive benefits — again, the studies were not large enough to definitely demonstrate cognitive efficacy and the BAN2401 study did not meet its primary endpoint’ of 12 months, the Alzheimer’s Association said in a statement.

“‘The global urgency to better treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia is higher than ever, and growing.’ The group predicts that the number of people with Alzheimer’s will triple by 2050 unless someone finds a way to stop it” (NBC News).  

For More Articles on Alzheimer's Disease, Click Here. 



Sunday, July 22, 2018

“Is this the country we want to live in and bequeath to our children and future generations?"--Nancy MacLean




“…[T]wo of the country’s most distinguished political scientists, Alfred Stepan and Juan J. Linz, recently approached the puzzle of U.S. singularity in another way: they compared the number of stumbling blocks that advanced  industrial democracies put in the way of their citizens’ ability to achieve their collective will through the legislative process.

“Calling these inbuilt ‘majority constraining’ obstacles ‘veto players,’ the two scholars found a striking correlation: the nations with the fewest veto players have the greatest inequality. Only the United States has four such veto players. All four were specified in the slavery-defending founders’ Constitution that cannot be altered without the agreement of three-quarters of the states.

“Other features of the U.S. system further obstruct majority rule, including a winner-take-all Electoral College that encourages a two-party system: the Tenth Amendment, which steers power toward the states; and a system of representation in the unusually potent Senate that violates the principle of ‘one person, one vote’ to a degree not seen anywhere else…

“What makes the U.S. system ‘exceptional,’ sadly, is the number of built-in vetoes to constrain the majority… (226). In the dream vision of the apparatus Charles Koch has funded to carry out [James McGill] Buchanan’s call for constitutional revolution, it would be all but impossible for government to respond to the will of the majority unless the very wealthiest Americans agree fully with every measure. The project has multiple prongs…

“[Koch’s] cadre is promoting a view of the Constitution that comes from a unique era of U.S. history: the period after the defeat of Reconstruction and leading up to the Great Depression. Buchanan acknowledged as much in the book that built his career, when he and coauthor Gordon Tullock said that nation’s decision-making rules were closer to the ‘ideal’ in 1900 than in 1960 [in ‘the age of both Lochner v. New York and Plessy v. Ferguson—decisions [that] blocked…meaningful employment reform…’] (227-28).

“[T]he interpretation of the Constitution the cadre seeks to impose would give federal courts vast new powers to strike down measures desired by voters and passed by their duly elected representatives at all levels—and would require greatly expanded police powers to control the resultant popular anger… (228).

“To advance their constitutional revolution, the donor network has pumped hitherto unheard-of-sums into state judicial races. While media attention has focused on the impact of Citizens United on the presidential and congressional races, the opening of the spigots in state judicial races may prove more consequential over the decades ahead as corporate donors invest in those they believe will interpret the constitution and the laws in their favor… (229).

“As the push for aggressive judicial activism on behalf of economic liberty illustrates, for all the small-government rhetoric, the cadre actually wants a very strong government—but a government that acts only in a way they deem appropriate. It wants our democracy to be curbed as Chile’s was, with locks and bolts on what the majority can do.

“Three additional battlefronts illuminate this truth, highlighting the stark restructuring of power under way. One is a power grab by affiliated state legislators reaching down to deny municipal governments the right to make their own policies on matters hitherto within their purview, not least local election rules. Pushed by [Koch’s funded] State Policy Network affiliates and guided by [Koch’s funded] ALEC-affiliated legislators, GOP-controlled states have been passing what are called preemption laws that deny localities the right to adopt policies that depart from the model being imposed by the network-dominated state legislatures… [Consider that] ALEC-backed legislators in forty-one states introduced more than 180 bills to restrict who could vote and how…

“A related strategy further distorts political representation to advance property rights supremacist project. One part of this initiative was the most audacious gerrymander in U.S. history, with the purpose of ensuring systematic underrepresentation of Americans viewed as troublesome by the cause and overrepresentation of the more manageable—while lining up the supermajority of reliably controlled states needed to hold a constitutional convention… [Thus] transforming the nation by using decennial redistricting process to sharply boost the power of Republicans, even where majorities backed Democrats, and to pull the Republican Party to the right of its own voters in the process. (230-32).

”Understandably, many saw the power grab in purely partisan terms, but it was much more. The breathtaking import is conveyed well by Salon editor-in-chief David Daley: ‘Without the protection of a fairly-drawn district, the citizen is a pawn of billionaires who use the map of the country’ to get what they want…

“A final example of the new bullying we can expect from the plan to enchain democracy also harks back to the midcentury South, with its inquisition-minded state and private bodies to investigate and intimidate dissenters. In 2015, the journalist Kenneth Vogel revealed that the Koch network had ‘quietly built a secretive operation that conducts political surveillance and intelligence gathering on its opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life.’

“A case in point: when Jane Mayer began to expose the operations of the Koch brothers and their network, they dispatched private investigators in a fruitless quest to find dirt with which to discredit her and tried to convince her employer to fire her. Anyone who tries to expose what this cause is up to thus must ask…: Will I become the target of a similar scurrilous attack? Wouldn’t it be wiser to keep quiet? (232).

“…For what is the substance of James Buchanan’s and Charles Koch’s idea of liberty but Harry Bird’s Virginia, the state subjected to the ‘most thorough control by an oligarchy’[…] Virginia enacts their dream: the uncontested sway of the wealthiest citizens: the use of right-to-work laws and other ploys to keep working people powerless; the ability to fire dissenting public employees at will, targeting educators in particular; the use of voting-rights restrictions to keep those unlikely to agree with the elite from the polls; the deployment states’ rights to deter the federal government from promoting equal treatment; the hostility to public education; the regressive tax system; the opposition to Social Security, [Medicaid] and Medicare; and the parsimonious response to public needs of all kinds… (233).

“The libertarian cause, from the time it first attracted wider support during the southern school crisis, was never about freedom as most people would define it. It was about the promotion of crippling division among the people so as to end any interference with what those who held vast power over others believed should be their prerogatives. Its leaders had no scruples about enlisting white supremacy to achieve capital supremacy.

“And today, knowing that the majority does not share their goals and would stop them if they understood the endgame, the team of paid operatives seeks to win by stealth. Now, as then, the leaders seek [John C.] Calhoun-style liberty for the few—the liberty to concentrate vast wealth, so as to deny elementary fairness and freedom to the many.

“Is this the country we want to live in and bequeath to our children and future generations? That is the real public choice. If we delay much longer, those who are imposing their stark utopia will choose for us. One of them has announced flatly: ‘America will soon make a decision about its future. It will be a permanent decision. There will be no going back. As we consider the future of our democracy in light of all that has happened already, we may take heed of a Koch maxim: ‘Playing it safe is slow suicide’” (234).

MacLean, Nancy. Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. New York: Viking Penguin, 2017.


Commentary:

These are some of the well-funded Think Tanks and Doners of Radical Right-Wing America:  George Mason University/Mercatus Center, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (Koch funded), Cato Institute (Koch funded), Americans for Prosperity (Koch funded), State Policy Network (Koch funded), the Reason Foundation (Koch funded), Charles Koch Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Olin Foundation, Earheart Foundation, the Tax Foundation, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, Federalist Society, Institute for Contemporary Studies, Institute for Humane Studies, Independent Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Leadership Institute, the Liberty Fund, Scaife Family Charitable Trusts, Mont Pelerin Society…  

We already have witnessed a takeover of the Republican Party, the weakening of our labor unions, right-to-work laws to keep workers powerless, the shutting down of the federal government, the denial of climate change from the executive and legislative branches of government, ALEC-backed legislators who created bills to restrict minority voting, the scapegoating of teachers, the attacks on retirees’ and public employees’ pensions, the deprivation of university and college adjunct faculty, the systematic dismantling of public ownership and services, the privatized exorbitantly priced healthcare system, the rewriting of the tax code to benefit the wealthiest Americans, the victimization of immigrant children and their parents, and other forms of oligarchic oppression. 

Are we also going to allow the continuing deregulation of our environmental protections; the continuing privatization of our public schools; the eradication of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; the transformation of the U.S. courts and the privatization of the justice system; and a reinterpretation of the U.S. Constitution to successfully oppress the majority of Americans?



Monday, July 16, 2018

Trump's and Putin's Joint Press Conference, July 16, 2018

The GOP can either defend the United States or serve the damaged and defective man who is now its president by James Fallows




“There are exactly two possible explanations for the shameful performance the world witnessed on Monday, from a serving American president.
“Either Donald Trump is flat-out an agent of Russian interests—maybe witting, maybe unwitting, from fear of blackmail, in hope of future deals, out of manly respect for Vladimir Putin, out of gratitude for Russia’s help during the election, out of pathetic inability to see beyond his 306 electoral votes. Whatever the exact mixture of motives might be, it doesn’t really matter.
“Or he is so profoundly ignorant, insecure, and narcissistic that he did not realize that, at every step, he was advancing the line that Putin hoped he would advance, and the line that the American intelligence, defense, and law-enforcement agencies most dreaded.
“Conscious tool. Useful idiot. Those are the choices, though both are possibly true, so that the main question is the proportions.
“Whatever the balance of motivations, what mattered was that Trump’s answers were indistinguishable from Putin’s, starting with the fundamental claim that Putin’s assurances about interference in U.S. democracy (‘He was incredibly strong and confident in his denial’) deserved belief over those of his own Department of Justice (‘I think the probe is a disaster for our country’).

“I am old enough to remember Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon telling lies on TV, about Vietnam in both cases, and Watergate for Nixon. I remember the travails and deceptions of Bill Clinton, and of George W. Bush in the buildup to the disastrous Iraq War.
“But never before have I seen an American president consistently, repeatedly, publicly, and shockingly advance the interests of another country over those of his own government and people.
“Trump manifestly cannot help himself. This is who he is.
“Those who could do something are the 51 Republican senators and 236 Republican representatives who have the power to hold hearings, issue subpoenas, pass resolutions of censure, guarantee the integrity of Robert Mueller’s investigation, condemn the past Russian election interference, shore up protections against the next assault, and in general defend their country rather than the damaged and defective man who is now its president.
“For 18 months, members of this party have averted their eyes from Trump, rather than disturb the Trump elements among their constituency or disrupt the party’s agenda on tax cuts and the Supreme Court. They already bear responsibility for what Trump has done to his office.
“But with every hour that elapses after this shocking performance in Helsinki without Republicans doing anything, the more deeply they are stained by this dark moment in American leadership.” 

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of Americawhich has been a New York Times best-seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.


Friday, July 13, 2018

Lynn Parramore’s Book Review of Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean




“…James McGill Buchanan is a name you will rarely hear unless you’ve taken several classes in economics. And if the Tennessee-born Nobel laureate were alive today, it would suit him just fine that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work.




“The reason? Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that his philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand. (Yes, you read that correctly). If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept.

“That is a dangerous blind spot, MacLean argues in a meticulously researched book, Democracy in Chains, a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. While Americans grapple with Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency, we may be missing the key to changes that are taking place far beyond the level of mere politics. Once these changes are locked into place, there may be no going back.

“…MacLean was stunned. The archive of the man who had sought to stay under the radar had been left totally unsorted and unguarded. The historian plunged in, and she read through boxes and drawers full of papers that included personal correspondence between Buchanan and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. That’s when she had an amazing realization: here was the intellectual linchpin of a stealth revolution currently in progress.

“…Buchanan, MacLean notes, was incensed at what he saw as a move toward socialism and deeply suspicious of any form of state action that channels resources to the public. Why should the increasingly powerful federal government be able to force the wealthy to pay for goods and programs that served ordinary citizens and the poor?

“…The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged ‘prey’ of ‘parasites’ and ‘predators’ out to fleece them.

“In 1965 the economist launched a center dedicated to his theories at the University of Virginia, which later relocated to George Mason University. MacLean describes how he trained thinkers to push back against the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate America’s public schools and to challenge the constitutional perspectives and federal policy that enabled it. She notes that he took care to use economic and political precepts, rather than overtly racial arguments, to make his case, which nonetheless gave cover to racists who knew that spelling out their prejudices would alienate the country.

“…MacLean observes that both focused on how democracy constrains property owners and aimed for ways to restrict the latitude of voters. She argues that unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability.

“Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions— all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge.

“MacLean explains that Virginia’s white elite and the pro-corporate president of the University of Virginia, Colgate Darden, who had married into the DuPont family, found Buchanan’s ideas to be spot on. In nurturing a new intelligentsia to commit to his values, Buchanan stated that he needed a ‘gravy train,’ and with backers like Charles Koch and conservative foundations like the Scaife Family Charitable Trusts, others hopped aboard. Money, Buchanan knew, can be a persuasive tool in academia. His circle of influence began to widen.

“…Buchanan’s school focused on public choice theory, later adding constitutional economics and the new field of law and economics to its core research and advocacy. The economist saw that his vision would never come to fruition by focusing on who rules. It was much better to focus on the rules themselves, and that required a ‘constitutional revolution.’

“…With Koch’s money and enthusiasm, Buchanan’s academic school evolved into something much bigger. By the 1990s, Koch realized that Buchanan’s ideas — transmitted through stealth and deliberate deception, as MacLean amply documents — could help take government down through incremental assaults that the media would hardly notice. The tycoon knew that the project was extremely radical, even a ‘revolution’ in governance, but he talked like a conservative to make his plans sound more palatable.

“MacLean details how partnered with Koch, Buchanan’s outpost at George Mason University was able to connect libertarian economists with right-wing political actors and supporters of corporations like Shell Oil, Exxon, Ford, IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank, and General Motors. Together they could push economic ideas to public through media, promote new curricula for economics education, and court politicians in nearby Washington, D.C.

“At the 1997 fiftieth anniversary of the Mont Pelerin Society, MacLean recounts that Buchanan and his associate Henry Manne, a founding theorist of libertarian economic approaches to law, focused on such affronts to capitalists as environmentalism and public health and welfare, expressing eagerness to dismantle Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as well as kill public education because it tended to foster community values. Feminism had to go, too: the scholars considered it a socialist project.

“Buchanan’s ideas began to have huge impact, especially in America and in Britain. In his home country, the economist was deeply involved in efforts to cut taxes on the wealthy in 1970s and 1980s and he advised proponents of Reagan Revolution in their quest to unleash markets and posit government as the ‘problem’ rather than the ‘solution.’ The Koch-funded Virginia school coached scholars, lawyers, politicians, and business people to apply stark right-wing perspectives on everything from deficits to taxes to school privatization. In Britain, Buchanan’s work helped to inspire the public sector reforms of Margaret Thatcher and her political progeny.

“To put the success into perspective, MacLean points to the fact that Henry Manne, whom Buchanan was instrumental in hiring, created legal programs for law professors and federal judges which could boast that by 1990 two of every five sitting federal judges had participated. ‘40 percent of the U.S. federal judiciary,’ writes MacLean, ‘had been treated to a Koch-backed curriculum.’

“MacLean illustrates that in South America, Buchanan was able to first truly set his ideas in motion by helping a bare-knuckles dictatorship ensure the permanence of much of the radical transformation it inflicted on a country that had been a beacon of social progress. The historian emphasizes that Buchanan’s role in the disastrous Pinochet government of Chile has been underestimated partly because unlike Milton Friedman, who advertised his activities, Buchanan had the shrewdness to keep his involvement quiet. With his guidance, the military junta deployed public choice economics in the creation of a new constitution, which required balanced budgets and thereby prevented the government from spending to meet public needs. Supermajorities would be required for any changes of substance, leaving the public little recourse to challenge programs like the privatization of social security.

“The dictator’s human rights abuses and pillage of the country’s resources did not seem to bother Buchanan, MacLean argues, so long as the wealthy got their way. ‘Despotism may be the only organizational alternative to the political structure that we observe,’ the economist had written in The Limits of Liberty. If you have been wondering about the end result of the Virginia school philosophy, well, the economist helpfully spelled it out.

“Most Americans haven’t seen what’s coming. MacLean notes that when the Kochs’ control of the GOP kicked into high gear after the financial crisis of 2007-08, many were so stunned by the shock-and-awe’ tactics of shutting down government, destroying labor unions, and rolling back services that meet citizens’ basic necessities that few realized that many leading the charge had been trained in economics at Virginia institutions, especially George Mason University. Wasn’t it just a new, particularly vicious wave of partisan politics? It wasn’t. MacLean convincingly illustrates that it was something far more disturbing.

“MacLean is not the only scholar to sound the alarm that the country is experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society. Peter Temin, former head of the MIT economics department, INET grantee, and author of The Vanishing Middle Class, as well as economist Gordon Lafer of the University of Oregon and author of The One Percent Solutionhave provided eye-opening analyses of where America is headed and why. MacLean adds another dimension to this dystopian big picture, acquainting us with what has been overlooked in the capitalist right wing’s playbook.

“She observes, for example, that many liberals have missed the point of strategies like privatization. Efforts to ‘reform’ public education and Social Security are not just about a preference for the private sector over the public sector, she argues. You can wrap your head around those, even if you don’t agree. Instead, MacLean contends, the goal of these strategies is to radically alter power relations, weakening pro-public forces and enhancing the lobbying power and commitment of the corporations that take over public services and resources, thus advancing the plans to dismantle democracy and make way for a return to oligarchy. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive.

“MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers ‘to control the resultant popular anger.’  The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right’s aggressive use of state power.

“Could these right-wing capitalists allow private companies to fill prisons with helpless citizens—or, more profitable still, right-less undocumented immigrants? They could, and have. Might they engineer a retirement crisis by moving Americans to inadequate 401(k)s? Done. Take away the rights of consumers and workers to bring grievances to court by making them sign forced arbitration agreements? Check. Gut public education to the point where ordinary people have such bleak prospects that they have no energy to fight back? Getting it done.

“Would they even refuse children clean water? Actually, yes. MacLean notes that in Flint, Michigan, Americans got a taste of what the emerging oligarchy will look like — it tastes like poisoned water. There, the Koch-funded Mackinac Center pushed for legislation that would allow the governor to take control of communities facing emergency and put unelected managers in charge. In Flint, one such manager switched the city’s water supply to a polluted river, but the Mackinac Center’s lobbyists ensured that the law was fortified by protections against lawsuits that poisoned inhabitants might bring. Tens of thousands of children were exposed to lead, a substance known to cause serious health problems including brain damage.

“Tyler Cowen has provided an economic justification for this kind of brutality, stating that where it is difficult to get clean water, private companies should take over and make people pay for it. ‘This includes giving them the right to cut off people who don’t—or can’t—pay their bills,’ the economist explains.

“To many this sounds grotesquely inhumane, but it is a way of thinking that has deep roots in America. In Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative (2005), Buchanan considers the charge of heartlessness made against the kind of classic liberal that he took himself to be. MacLean interprets his discussion to mean that people who ‘failed to foresee and save money for their future needs’ are to be treated, as Buchanan put it, ‘as subordinate members of the species, akin to…animals who are dependent.’ Do you have your education, health care, and retirement personally funded against all possible exigencies? Then that means you.

“Buchanan was not a dystopian novelist. He was a Nobel Laureate whose sinister logic exerts vast influence over America’s trajectory. It is no wonder that Cowen, on his popular blog Marginal Revolution, does not mention Buchanan on a list of underrated influential libertarian thinkers, though elsewhere on the blog, he expresses admiration for several of Buchanan’s contributions and acknowledges that the southern economist ‘thought more consistently in terms of ‘rules of the games’ than perhaps any other economist.’ The rules of the game are now clear.

“Research like MacLean’s provides hope that toxic ideas like Buchanan’s may finally begin to face public scrutiny. Yet at this very moment, the Kochs’ State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that connects corporate agents to conservative lawmakers to produce legislation, are involved in projects that the Trump-obsessed media hardly notices, like pumping money into state judicial races. Their aim is to stack the legal deck against Americans in ways that MacLean argues may have even bigger effects than Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling which unleashed unlimited corporate spending on American politics. The goal is to create a judiciary that will interpret the Constitution in favor of corporations and the wealthy in ways that Buchanan would have heartily approved.

“‘The United States is now at one of those historic forks in the road whose outcome will prove as fateful as those of the 1860s, the 1930s, and the 1960s,’ writes MacLean. ‘To value liberty for the wealthy minority above all else and enshrine it in the nation’s governing rules, as Calhoun and Buchanan both called for and the Koch network is achieving, play by play, is to consent to an oligarchy in all but the outer husk of representative form.’ Nobody can say we weren’t warned.”

Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America by Lynn Parramore. Lynn Parramore is a senior research analyst at Institute for New Economic Thinking.