Have you heard of William Dore, Foster Friess, Sheldon Adelson, Harold Simmons, Peter Thiel, or Bruce Kovner? If not, let me introduce them to you. They’re running for the Republican nomination for president.
I know, I know. You think Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney are running. They are – but only because the people listed in the first paragraph have given them huge sums of money to do so. In a sense, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney are the fronts. Dore et al. are the real investors.
According to January’s Federal Election Commission report, William Dore and Foster Friess supplied more than three-fourths of the $2.1 million raked in by Rick Santorum’s super PAC in January. Dore, president of the Dore Energy Corporation in Lake Charles, Louisiana, gave $1 million; Freis, a fund manager based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gave $669,000 (he had given the Santorum super PAC $331,000 last year, bringing Freis’s total to $1 million).
Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam provided $10 million of the $11 million that went into Gingrich’s super PAC in January. Adelson is chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Texas billionaire Harold Simmons donated $500,000.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, provided $1.7 million of the $2.4 million raised by Ron Paul’s super PAC in January.
Mitt Romney’s super PAC raised $6.6 million last month – almost all from just forty donors. Bruce Kovner, co-founder of the New York-based hedge fund Caxton Associates, gave $500,000, as did two others. David Tepper of Appaloosa Management gave $375,000. J.W. Marriott and Richard Marriott gave a total of $500,000. Julian Robertson, co-founder of hedge fund Tiger Management, gave $250,0000. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman gave $100,000.
Bottom line: Whoever emerges as the GOP standard-bearer will be deeply indebted to a handful of people, each of whom will expect a good return on their investment.
And this is just the beginning. We haven’t even come to the general election.
Non-profit political fronts like “Crossroads GPS,” founded by Republican political guru Karl Rove, are already gathering hundreds of millions of dollars from big corporations and a few wealthy individuals like billionaire oil and petrochemical moguls David and Charles Koch. The public will never know who or what corporation gave what because, under IRS regulations, such non-profit “social welfare organizations” aren’t required to disclose the names of those who contributed to them.
And all this comes precisely at a time when an almost unprecedented share of the nation’s income and wealth is accumulating at the top.
Before 2010, federal campaign law and Federal Election Commission regulations limited to $5,000 per year the amount an individual could give to a PAC making independent expenditures in federal elections. This individual contribution limit that was declared unconstitutional by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in a case based on the Supreme Court’s grotesque decision at the start of 2010, Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission.
Now, the limits are gone. Never before in the history of our Republic have so few spent so much to influence so many.
Dear Susan G. Komen for the Cure,
I was so excited and glad to be part of a group that empowered and helped women across the country and in my own community by making knowledge and resources available to those in which it previously was not.
After reading today’s news, I am ashamed that I spent so much time and effort raising money for an organization that now obviously caters to political opinions instead of the actual health of women. Trust that the people that made the donations are equally appalled. I hope the SGK organization is aware of how their decision to part ways with PP will have a hugely negative impact on the lives of women and their families all over the country.
I realize that this local chapter is part of a much larger institution, so please feel free to forward my disgust on to them if you are able to.
You can’t call a President-King on one day, ranting and raving that we shouldn’t have a king, and on the next day, demand that he be king and see his subjects, as if he was some personality-cult that the people need him to be seen to gain strength. We are not North Korea.
We don’t need the president to handhold people and to show, “Empathy”. He has phones. He has computers. He has minions. I want him to do his job. His job is to command, not to be a social worker, or to have a photo op. His job is to make sure government resources’ full might descends upon the people in need. It is our job— we the people, too to help those in need as well, in however way we can. Donate, pack, spread information, whatever. That’s how we change the Philippines. That’s how we get real. That’s how nation building begins. That’s when we stop being provincial, and leveling up.
So I think I’ve finally got a handle on what really gripes me about politicians and candidates like Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. It’s actually not their conservative politics: that’s why I oppose them, not why they drive me mad. After all, the stuff of democratic politics is different conceptions of the good played out on an electoral stage. I wouldn’t do what I do for a living if I didn’t enjoy the give and take of political debate.
No, what pisses me off is the sense that I get from these politicians that not only do they not know what they’re talking about, they don’t seem to manifest the slightest interest in learning anything about what they’re talking about either.
See, for most of American history, people were motivated by the sense that if they didn’t know something, they had a moral obligation to better themselves through education. They started from the assumption that it was okay to BE ignorant, it just wasn’t okay to REMAIN ignorant.
This sensibility drove Abraham Lincoln to spend every night by the light of a dim fire reading everything he could get his hands on and to join speaking clubs as a young man so he could improve his oratory. It drove children of privilege like Theodore Roosevelt to explore their world in all of its complexity. It led a generation of soldiers to college after WWII. It’s why more Americans have Nobel Prizes than citizens of any other nation—or, at least, it’s one of the reasons why this is the case.
Compare this to Herman Cain. Worried about his foreign policy knowledge after his “I actually don’t know anything about Libya” moment? No worries, Herman has an answer: 999. And he doesn’t need to know anything about Uzbeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan—including, obviously, the concept that it might not be all that good idea to run for President mocking other countries’ names.
Or Sarah Palin: in 2008, when the McCain campaign learned she had no meaningful knowledge about foreign policy matters as they worked to prepare her for her debate with Joe Biden, did she leap at the opportunity to learn? No: she left the room, text messaged complaints about the process, and prayed. Meanwhile she apparently doesn’t know anything true about Paul Revere’s ride. Michele Bachmann made a similar gaffe in New Hampshire when she insisted that it was the state in which the American Revolution started. When informed she had erred, did she say “thanks,” and take it as a learning opportunity? Of course not: she replied that New Hampshire was a state that still loved freedom—unlike, apparently, the known freedom-haters of Massachusetts.
Seriously: I teach for a living. I get that people don’t know things. If they knew everything, then they wouldn’t need, well, me. I’m not upset about ignorance.
Instead, I’m angry at willful ignorance—at the insistence that remaining stupid is somehow to be preferred to learning something. I’m insulted that so many Republican candidates and political leaders are deeply invested in aggressively being stupid. It’s a tragedy for them—and frightening for the rest of us.