Rank Has Its Privileges – By Alexander Cooley and Jack Snyder November/December 2015 Issue

How International Ratings Dumb Down Global Governance

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When the Berlin-based group Transparency International released its annual ranking of international corruption levels in December 2014, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded with a blistering statement. Chinese authorities were upset that their country had sunk from 80th to 100th place on the watchdog’s influential Corruption Perceptions Index, even though Beijing was pursuing a high-profile anticorruption campaign. “As a fairly influential international organization,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said, “Transparency International should seriously examine the objectiveness and impartiality of its Corruption Perceptions Index.”

This wasn’t the first time Beijing had dismissed the results of an international ranking. A year earlier, it had called for the elimination of the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business Index, in which China had similarly underperformed, citing what Chinese officials described as flawed methodologies and assumptions.

China’s anger reveals just how powerful such ratings have become. Today’s ratings, produced by nongovernmental organizations and international agencies alike, score governments on nearly every aspect of a state: democracy, corruption, environmental degradation, friendliness to business, the likelihood of state collapse, the security of nuclear materials, and much more. The ratings’ customers are equally diverse. Government officials and activists refer to these indexes as measures of state performance, and international organizations and domestic bureauc­racies use them as comparative benchmarks. Scholars and analysts use them to compare countries, and journalists routinely cite them as authoritative in their stories.

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Robert Reich: Bernie gets it. Hillary is only inviting more corruption – ROBERT REICH TUESDAY, OCT 13, 2015 01:00 AM PDT

The former secretary of labor says Clinton is deluding herself if she believes oversight alone can fix Wall Street

Robert Reich: Bernie gets it. Hillary is only inviting more corruption

This originally appeared on Robert Reich’s blog.

Giant Wall Street banks continue to threaten the wellbeing of millions of Americans, but what to do?

Bernie Sanders says break them up and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act that once separated investment from commercial banking.

Hillary Clinton says charge them a bit more and oversee them more carefully.

Most Republicans say don’t worry.

Clearly, there’s reason to worry. Back in 2000, before they almost ruined the economy and had to be bailed out, the five biggest banks on Wall Street held 25 percent of the nation’s banking assets. Now they hold more than 45 percent.

Their huge size fuels further growth because they’ll be bailed out if they get into trouble again.

This hidden federal guarantee against failure is estimated be worth over $80 billion a year to the big banks. In effect, it’s a subsidy from the rest of us to the bankers.


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Rage Against the Machine – By Jamelle Bouie AUG. 2015

Voters are fed up with American politics. But are they willing to do anything about it?

Riding the wave of anger: Donald Trump addresses supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 11, 2015, in Phoenix. Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images

Riding the wave of anger: Donald Trump addresses supporters during a political rally at the Phoenix Convention Center on July 11, 2015, in Phoenix.
Photo by Charlie Leight/Getty Images

A top Donald Trump adviser either just quit or was just fired – Updated by Andrew Prokop on August 8, 2015, 2:50 p.m. ET

In the early weeks of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump stunned his rivals and the press in recent weeks by abandoning the conventional rules and decorum of political discourse. And that made perfect sense, considering that GOP operative Roger Stone, long famous for hardball tactics and dirty tricks, was one of Trump’s key advisers.

But this weekend, the two men parted ways. The Washington Post’s Robert Costa reported Saturday that Trump, in an interview, said he had fired Stone and no longer wanted “publicity seekers” on his campaign. Stone, however, soon told reporters that he wasn’t fired but had already quit, and his apparent letter of resignation was sent to the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman. (In the letter, Stone cited “the current controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights” as his reason for resigning.) Politico’s Marc Caputo has more details in a version of events sourced to friends of Stone. Eventually, Stone himself took to Twitter:

Sorry @realDonaldTrump didn’t fire me- I fired Trump. Diasagree with diversion to food fight with @megynkelly away core issue messages

— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) August 8, 2015

Stone, a Nixon aide who later had the former president’s face tattooed on his back, has long been known for both his ruthless tactics, and for the pride he takes in them. He’s been called a “legendary political hit man” and “the undisputed master of the black arts of electioneering” — and that’s according to quotes he put on his own website. “Politics is not about uniting people. It’s about dividing people,” Stone told the New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin in a memorable 2008 profile titled “The Dirty Trickster.”

And Stone didn’t change his ways. Just look at his Twitter account, where after Trump’s campaign was up and running, he referred to Bill Clinton as a “Cosby-like rapist,” CNN contributor Ana Navarro as a “quota hire,”Jeb Bush as a “spoiled, elitist crook,” and the Bush family as a “crime family.” He also said that a forthcoming book of his will reveal “who really killed” Clinton White House aide Vince Foster, which would pair well with his recent book claiming that LBJ was the mastermind behind JFK’s assassination.

Who really killed Vince Foster and who ordered the body moved. Oct 1 #tcot #pjnet pic.twitter.com/YeqIr1fAFW

— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) July 25, 2015

Ana Navarro the dumbest person on TV since CNN fired moron @rolandmartin – both quota hires #CNN

— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) July 28, 2015

The startling truth about the Bush Crime Family https://t.co/Tr2Ir18qZX #CIA #IMC #JebBushpic.twitter.com/r4qZ5h6Sne

— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) July 27, 2015

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