The news that President Obama will wine and dine with top Wall Street CEOs is just the latest example of how the "wizards" of Wall Street and their Washington allies continue to win -- their clout seemingly undiminished -- in the face of spectacular failure.
The kind of structural corruption present in American politics and industry today is reminiscent of what one sees in modern communist China, or during the transition years away from communism in Eastern Europe.
A signature feature of the shadow lobbyist era is not just a manipulation of public policy, but also an embrace of "failing upward". No matter the track record, the elite 1 percent seek more of the same.
Monitor Group's academic campaign helps explain why Libya's image softened in recent years. And it also underscores the emergence of a new breed of power broker: "shadow lobbyists".
No matter what shadow lobbyists try to portray, or how often they try to fly under the radar, they are, indeed, lobbyists, whether for their own ideological cause or simple financial interest. They need to be held to account.
Banks keeping competitors out and price information to themselves are using tactics designed to maximize profits, but there's nothing free market about those tactics. It's up to the government to "free" the market, but so far it's failed.
What do the makers of reality TV and the makers of pornography have in common with some of America's top power brokers? It may be less of a stretch than it sounds.
When institutional walls separating functions and ensuring balance of power are weak, players can concentrate and intensify their influence. This is now what we're seeing with the dairy lobby -- i.e. "big cheese".
Williams, who pulled off representing two vastly different brands, qualifies as agile and edgy. But he's hardly an anomaly: These days, the idea that a journalist would operate with a single standard of conduct seems as dated as an 8-track tape.
The insidious and deceptive self-branding that used to be confined to the corporate world is now also used by political message-makers, aiming to create a look and feel that consumers identify with intuitively.
Iceland's crash, for which the Prime Minister has now been indicted, is another case in which networks of public-private players, purporting to serve the public interest, instead capture official information to serve their own interests.
Our government, on the federal level, has already been upended by small government ideology, beholden to private interests as never before in our memory. But we can't just blame the Tea Party.
Is there anything more toxic to a healthy democracy than special interests buying elections? Sadly, yes. It's when citizens have no idea who those special interests even are, and no way to find out.
Questionable behavior became commonplace in innumerable corners of the financial industry over the past 20 years. And at key moments, it was an outsider like Elizabeth Warren who had the common-sense perspective to cry foul.
Ever heard of a private security contractor name Paravant? XPG? No? Well, that's just as Blackwater, the parent company of Paravant, XPG and dozens of other "subsidiaries", would have it.
When government contractors hire former directors of intelligence and defense-related government agencies, they are banking on coincidences of interest between their hires and their hires' former (government) employers.
How far does the crisis of government contracting oversight go? Apparently, it extends deep into some of America's most hallowed ground: Arlington National Cemetery.
There's taxpayer money going into the hands of the very people attacking U.S. troops and the contractors who risk their lives for a paycheck. 260 of those workers took that risk and lost over the last year, and their names will likely never be known.
Power brokers on the cutting edge are adept at creating novel alternative structures and new venues to press their agenda -- and Obama's Organizing for America seems to be a case in point.