Yup. That's the post "Citizens United" decision. One percent of the top one percent of citizens.
Between 1980 and 2012, the share of federal campaign contributions coming from the very, very biggest political spenders—the top 0.01 percent of donors—nearly tripled. In other words, a small handful of Americans* control more than 40 percent of election contributions. Notably, between 2010 and 2012, the total share of giving by these donors jumped more than 10 percentage points. That shift is likely the direct result of the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling, which struck down decades of fundraising limits and kicked off the super-PAC era. And this data only includes publicly disclosed donations, not dark money, which almost certainly means that the megadonors' actual share of total political spending is even higher. ...DaveGilson,MoJo
In terms of political trends, Republicans have a steep climb. Democrats do better. And "independents"? More independents are liberal than conservative. And this holds true even in an era when even more money from the right is buying elections and a larger number identify as "independent."
Based on 2014 data, 39% identify as independents, 32% as Democrats and 23% as Republicans. This is the highest percentage of independents in more than 75 years of public opinion polling.
When the partisan leanings of independents are taken into account, 48% either identify as Democrats or lean Democratic; 39% identify as Republicans or lean Republican. The gap in leaned party affiliation has held fairly steady since 2009, when Democrats held a 13-point advantage (50% to 37%). ...PewResearch
German journalist/political analyst, Christoph Reuter, gave a superb interview to NPR this morning, indispensable for anyone trying to figure out ISIS -- who they are, what they want, how they got where they are. Definitely worth the seven minute listen.
Who knows. Presidential candidates have survived worse. Maybe Clinton fatigue (and the same ennui affects our view of current and future Bush family members) is the more likely Hillary-killer --even -- than all the uranium mines from Kazakhstan to Wyoming.
We Americans are "forgiving" (lazy and insouciant). "Yellow cake" did a good deal of political damage to that murderous pair, Bush and Cheney. But it didn't remove them from the White House. Will uranium and Putin put an end to Hil's candidacy? One can but hope.
The Times published today the story that begins with a Pravda story, dating back to early 2014, reporting "how the Russian atomic energy agency, Rosatom, had taken over a Canadian company with uranium-mining stakes stretching from Central Asia to the American West. The deal made Rosatom one of the world’s largest uranium producers and brought Mr. Putin closer to his goal of controlling much of the global uranium supply chain."
But the untold story behind that story is one that involves not just the Russian president, but also a former American president and a woman who would like to be the next one.
At the heart of the tale are several men, leaders of the Canadian mining industry, who have been major donors to the charitable endeavors of former President Bill Clinton and his family. Members of that group built, financed and eventually sold off to the Russians a company that would become known as Uranium One.
Beyond mines in Kazakhstan that are among the most lucrative in the world, the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States. Since uranium is considered a strategic asset, with implications for national security, the deal had to be approved by a committee composed of representatives from a number of United States government agencies. Among the agencies that eventually signed off was the State Department, then headed by Mr. Clinton’s wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton....NYT
And the money -- the gratitude, you might say -- was channeled from grateful uranium investors to the Clintons. Hillary had promised President Obama that the names of the donors to the Clinton Foundation would be published. But, well, she never carried out her side of that deal.
Over the years since 2005, when the first deals for Russia to take over US uranium, the money flowing to the Clinton's has been steady and enormous and Russia -- Putin -- now controls a majority stake in all uranium, world-wide. And yes, "yellow-cake" is part of the deal.
The attack on the Clintons is also the top story in the Washington Post today, though this report is about the money the Clintons have made from "charity."
Bill Clinton was paid at least $26 million in speaking fees by companies and organizations that are also major donors to the foundation he created after leaving the White House, according to a Washington Post analysis of public records and foundation data.
The amount, about one-quarter of Clinton’s overall speaking income between 2001 and 2013, demonstrates how closely intertwined Bill and Hillary Clinton’s charitable work has become with their growing personal wealth.
The Clintons’ relationships with major funders present an unusual political challenge for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now that she has formally entered the presidential race, the family may face political pressure and some legal requirements to provide further details of their personal finances and those of the foundation, giving voters a clearer view of the global network of patrons that have supported the Clintons and their work over the past 15 years. ...WaPo
Echoes of evangelical leaders in their McMansions, the scourge of scientology, the hucksters, snake oil -- and, you know, real America.
One of the most glaring myths propagated by Washington — especially the two parties’ media loyalists — is that bipartisanship is basically impossible, that the two parties agree on so little, that they are constantly at each other’s throats over everything. As is so often the case for Washington partisan propaganda, the reality is exactly the opposite: from trade deals to Wall Street bailouts to a massive National Security and Penal State, the two parties are in full agreement on the bulk of the most significant D.C. policies (which is why the leading candidates of the two parties (from America’s two ruling royal families) will have the same funding base). But because policies that command the agreement of the two parties’ establishments are largely ignored by the D.C. press in favor of the issues where they have some disagreements, the illusion is created that they agree on nothing. ...GlennGreenwald,Intercept
Well, bipartisanship doesn't help the media with high ratings. We're getting used to talking about the Bush family and the Clinton family as "royal." But the real (and even more troubling) "royals" here are the two main political parties. They leave us with no place to hide and very restricted choices (Bush, Clinton are only two of many examples) in our erstwhile democracy. The media lose ratings when when partisanship gives way to cooperation and the rest of us lose (again, just two of many examples) our privacy and any guarantee of justice.
Republican Jeb and Democrat Barry have been caught holding hands while agreeing that our privacy is hardly sacred. Greenwald pulls a quote from a recent interview with Jeb Bush on a talk show:
Medved: If you were to look back at the last seven years, almost, what has been the best part of the Obama administration?
Jeb Bush: I would say the best part of the Obama administration would be his continuance of the protections of the homeland using the big metadata programs, the NSA being enhanced. Advancing this — even though he never defends it, even though he never openly admits it, there has been a continuation of a very important service, which is the first obligation, I think of our national government is to keep us safe. And the technologies that now can be applied to make that so, while protecting civil liberties are there. And he’s not abandoned them, even though there was some indication that he might.
Civil liberties are where? Utah? Crushed under those huge data banks thanks to "bipartisan" agreement? And both parties are standing around, sipping their drinks, clapping each other on the back, playing the roles of our honest representatives celebrating freedom from an oppressive state.
Lucky us. We get to choose between candidates from the two royal parties again in a little over a year.
Some observers believe the former vice-president is showing signs of mental illness. Others bark back, "You mean you've only just noticed?"
Jonathan Chait slogs through the poisonous weeds of Cheneyland and takes a hard look at Cheney's pronouncements on Iran, Obama, American decline, etc. etc.
Like all Republican officeholders and some Democratic ones, Cheney thinks Obama has struck a weak deal with Iran. Unlike most of them, Cheney suspects Obama has done so not out of naïveté but out of a cunning plan to actually encourage the Iranian nuclear program.
But what if we apply Cheney’s analytic method to his own administration’s Iran policy? After all, it was under the Bush administration that the Iranian nuclear program flourished, bringing the regime from 164 to 8,000 centrifuges. ...DailyIntel
Why do Republicans have so much trouble with facts!
What’s more, the expansion of Iran’s power under Bush was not limited to the blossoming of its nuclear program. In 2003, an extremely hostile neighboring regime (that had launched a war against it two decades before) was deposed, creating a power vacuum that Iran filled. Cheney seems to have played a role there. A Cheney-style analysis of the Bush administration’s Iran policy would conclude that it was carrying out a deliberate plan to elevate Iran’s standing.
Such a conclusion would obviously be insane. But it happens to fit the facts far more tightly than the same conclusion about Obama’s Iran policy. And this, in turn, reminds us that the most plausible real-world alternative to Obama’s Iran deal is not some “better deal.” The alternative is either war or threatening war while refusing to negotiate. ...DailyIntel
The"blame Obama" campaign has no basis in reality. Reality tells us that "containing the nuclear ambitions of a determined state is extremely hard." Time to get over our disappointment when confronted with reality.
America doesn't have a magic wand. That stick we've been waving around has a little flag that pops out on one end proclaiming, "Oops, we've screwed up again!" Bush said he was going to put an end to Iran's nuclear capabilities and failed. Obama, on the other hand, is facing reality.
Obama’s approach implicitly acknowledges the limits of American leverage, trading away its maximal demand to end all Iranian nuclear work completely in return for pragmatic concessions (like the elimination of advanced centrifuges, and the establishment of a vigorous inspection regime) that at least offer a chance to contain Iran’s race to the bomb. ...DailyIntel
This comes as a blow to those who have profited from our crazy, failed military adventures and who like to think we have unlimited leverage. Our "top ten percent" are those Americans who have reaped the greatest rewards in the wake of "bomb, bomb,bomb!" and "Mission accomplished!"
___ Steve Coll sees Republicans in Congress who insert themselves between Obama and negotiations with other countries as dangerous and -- at bottom -- unconstitutional.
...Departures in American foreign policy as momentous as making peace with the Castro regime or resetting nuclear diplomacy with Iran ought not to be constructed on narrow vote margins in Congress. U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright helped to establish what was referred to during the Cold War as the One Voice Doctrine. That is, despite shifting disagreements between Presidents and Congress, the country should seek to project unity abroad, in order to reassure allies and deter enemies. The doctrine has flaws; it can be used to rationalize an imperial Presidency during national crises, among other things. Yet cohesion in foreign policy is surely preferable to senators sending freelance missives to declared enemies of the state.
The collapse of comity and common sense in Congress is not just a fountainhead of divisive politics. It is also a threat to the Constitution. The United States, founded on the hope that its three branches of government would evolve in roughly equal states of health, is not likely to manage successfully risks on the scale of China’s rise or the Middle East’s chaos if members of Congress continue to degrade and paralyze their institution. The Edward Snowden revelations provided only the latest reminder that protecting civil rights and liberty at home requires congressional oversight of the national-security state that is well resourced, expert, and unhindered by partisan opportunism. On the present evidence, it is hard to imagine Congress meeting that burden. ...Coll,NewYorker
We are culturally pretty liberal (albeit with some mama's boys on the sidelines reserving their right to tell everyone else how to live). We are economically pretty conservative (with the mama's boys active in the movement "MoreForMe,LessForYou" that works both sides of the issue. And "Less for you" turns out to be as important psychologically as "More for me.")
John Cassidy explores the national issue of "income redistribution" -- a phrase that strikes me as overkill when used as a stand-in for raising taxes on the top ten percent. Maybe it's the use of that commie-sounding phrase that causes people to jump back and assure their gated friends that they're not commies-- that they're real Americans with humble aspirations, not pitchforks. The way Cassidy puts it makes us sound kind of sicko, doesn't it?
For instance, a 2010 study by Nathan J. Kelly, of the University of Tennessee, and Peter K. Enns, of Cornell University, concluded, “When inequality in America rises, the public responds with increased conservative sentiment.” In a 2013 paper by Matthew Luttig, of the University of Minnesota, backed up this finding, noting, “the absolute level and the changing structure of inequality have largely been a force promoting conservatism, not increasing support for redistribution as theoretically expected.” ...NewYorker
As they tug respectfully on their forelocks, etc.
When it comes to affordable healthcare for the peasants, look at who's complaining, for crying out loud. It's senior citizens, comfortably surrounded by soft cushions of Medicare. Nice (not).
But not all of us are disgusted by economic justice. Those of us who see money as no more sacred than people (real persons, not corporations) tend to be at ease with "fairness." Over the years we have shifted views on "redistribution," depending on how the economy is faring at the time. Recessions tend to make people who have bucks more tight-fisted.
So where are we now?
... It isn’t enough to simply point to the rise in inequality and expect an outpouring of mass support for any and all liberal policies. The argument for each proposal has to be made on its own terms, and Americans still show little enthusiasm for anything that smacks of welfare. Would-be reformers also need to avoid alienating seniors, whose declining support for redistributive measures probably reflects a fear that such policies would come at their expense, in the form of cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Still, the polling data shows that a healthy majority of Americans believe that income and wealth should be more evenly distributed, and that a smaller, but steady, majority believe that the current situation justifies heavier taxes on the rich. That surely gives the Democrats something to work with.
It all comes down to individual policies. In the cases of the estate tax, the “carried interest” deduction enjoyed by hedge-fund managers and private equity, and other loopholes that benefit the very wealthy, would-be reformers can appeal to the voters’ sense of fair play, which remains undiminished. In seeking to expand support for working families—for example, by expanding the earned-income tax credit—progressives can appeal to the widespread sympathy for the working poor. When presented in general or ideological terms, redistribution has always been a tough sell. But when the debate gets down to specific proposals, redistributive arguments can still win out. ...NewYorker
Obamacare is unpopular; the ACA is welcomed warmly.
When Fox News is on, decency doesn't have a chance. But when you return to your real life, decency is what makes life meaningful ... and honorable... and just plain worth living.
All those votes on limiting executive pay conscientious investors are making in these spring months as the corporate reports arrive in their mail? Won't change a damn thing. The bigger exec compensation is, the bigger it will be tomorrow and the next day.
... The evidence suggests that paying a C.E.O. less won’t dent the bottom line, and can even boost it. Yet the failure of say-on-pay suggests that shareholders and boards genuinely believe that outsized C.E.O. remuneration holds the key to corporate success. Some of this can be put down to the powerful mystique of a few truly transformative C.E.O.s (like Steve Jobs, at Apple). But, more fundamentally, there’s little economic pressure to change: big as the amounts involved are, they tend to be dwarfed by today’s corporate profits. Big companies now have such gargantuan market caps that a small increase in performance is worth billions. So whether or not the people who sit on compensation committees can accurately predict C.E.O. performance—Dorff argues that they can’t—they’re happy to spend an extra five or ten million dollars in order to get the person they want. That means C.E.O. pay is likely to keep going in only one direction: up. ...JamesSurowiecki,NewYorker
Amazing how quickly something as momentous as gay marriage catches on. The conservatives keep relying on their "majority" to gain strength. But the facts show that Americans are comfortably progressive in their cultural choices and are undeterred by the shrieks of horror coming from the far right.
Now it's all about wage increases. "Guess what," Paul Waldman writes in the Post. "A push for higher wages is beginning to look like a real movement, with all the possible political effects that entails." And it's happening even in the neighborhoods near our retrograde Congress, out there in the District. Congress is snarling, but the movement goes on.
As a movement, this push confronts some real obstacles, despite the fact that about 70 percent of the public consistently tells pollsters they’d like to see the minimum wage increased. Congress is controlled by a party that is steadfastly opposed to increasing the minimum. Many middle-class workers don’t see the minimum wage directly affecting them. Organizing those who would most directly benefit is a difficult task. And perhaps most importantly, the natural foundation for such a campaign — labor unions — are at a place of historical weakness.
Despite all that, momentum for this movement seems to be building, in part because it has a very specific demand. It’s one thing to talk in general terms about income inequality and stagnant wages, but the advocates of the $15 minimum say, “Here’s something we can do about it right now. Which side are you on?” ...Waldman,WaPo
Now, of course, the spotlight moves to the 2016 White House candidates. What will Hil do? Will the pressure of this issue push Clinton to the left?
I hope she moves in that direction even as I'm sure she won't (ever! in a month of Sundays!) move to a point where I could vote for her.
Lots more war along with more strong-arming -- what this Republican candidate calls "American leadership."
If Jeb Bush is elected president, the United States won’t be on speaking terms with Cuba and will partner more closely with Israel. He’ll tighten sanctions on Iran and urge NATO to deploy more troops in Eastern Europe to counter Vladimir Putin. And he’ll order the U.S. military to root out “barbarians” and “evildoers” around the globe.
Far from running from or playing down the views once expressed by his brother George W. Bush, Jeb Bush is embracing them — and emphasizing them. ...WaPo
The Post takes note of the language Jeb uses -- words like "evildoers." The latest Bush also buys into the notion that Obama can do no right, is insufficient when it comes to being an international bully.
“He’s wrong. With all due respect, he is just plain wrong.” ...WaPo
Reality is not, evidently, a strong suit for this son of a Bush. He wants more aggression, thinks we want more war, too, and that somehow Obama doesn't understand that.
Undeterred by public opinion polls that suggest his views are not shared by a majority of voters, Bush believes that global events might prompt Americans to eventually embrace his thinking. During an appearance in San Francisco in January, he accused Obama of exploiting America’s war fatigue to justify withdrawing U.S. military forces abroad. ...WaPo
Of course, the expectation most Americans have of their private lives being safe from government interference is out the window. It looks like we're headed back to the world of Dick Cheney if brother Jeb succeeds in taking the White House.