A marquee Senate race pitting Democrat Kay Hagan against whichever Republican emerges from next Tuesday’s crowded primary is getting all the attention in North Carolina, boosting voter interest and turnout. At the same time, significant sums of money, totaling $1 million at last count, are flowing into the state to affect the outcome of a judicial primary, “usually a pretty sleepy enterprise,” says Bert Brandenburg, executive director of Justice at Stake, a nonpartisan group that monitors judicial elections.
Money buys airtime, and across North Carolina on 10 stations, incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson, a Democrat, is labeled in a television ad “not tough on child molesters.” That’s based on her dissent in a narrowly decided 4-3 ruling that said satellite monitoring of some sex offenders was not a new punishment, which would be unconstitutional, even though it did not exist at the time of their offense.
“This is a way of trying to bully the bench,” says Brandenburg. “Nasty campaign ads send a message to judges that as they make rulings on controversial cases, they may get ads against them down the line, and that’s not what they should be thinking about. They’re supposed to focus on facts and the law.”
Now North Carolina is ground zero in the partisan battles, but just a few years ago, the state was working hard to insulate judges from the onslaught of cash that many see as distorting democracy. It was the first in the nation to try public financing in judicial races, saying candidates shouldn’t have to spend all their time raising money, especially Supreme Court judges.
Over a decade ago, a fund was created using attorney fees to provide minimal campaign financing through state grants to qualifying candidates. The program was enormously popular; 80 percent of judges who ran used it, and it helped diversify the bench with more women and African-Americans. But there was always ideological opposition from the right on free speech grounds, and when Republican Gov. Pat McCrory took office in January 2013, one of the first things his budget director did was zero out public financing for judges.
The dam had broken anyway with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United 2010 decision, and judicial races have become a free-for-all just like every other political contest. Judges in North Carolina run without party identification; the races are nonpartisan, but everyone knows where their party allegiance lies. Two years ago, in a contested judicial race, “Ninety percent of outside money came from the conservative side,” says Chris Kromm, executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies. “They were way more on top of this game.”
It’s no surprise that Comcast donates money to members of Congress. Political connections come in handy for a company seeking government approval of mergers, like Comcast’s 2011 purchase of NBCUniversal and its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC).
But just how many politicians have accepted money from Comcast’s political arm? In the case of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held the first congressional hearing on the Comcast/TWC merger yesterday, the answer is all of them.
We need to talk. I’ve been meaning to write this letter to you for a while, but I got side-tracked and spent a whole lot of time doing other stuff, and then I was busy starting a new agency and so it didn’t happen. But it turns out that open letters are the in thing now, so I thought I might as well jump on the overloaded bandwagon before it gets pulled over by the Metro cops.
This isn’t easy for me. We’ve never really got on very well, but it’s time I was honest. The truth is, I’ve always felt nervous around you, like I need to apologise for something. I’m not exactly sure why, but I find it difficult to ask for you or talk about you, and when you come up in conversation, I go bright red and change the subject.
More: An Open Letter to Money
The Bleach Blonde From Hell reminds us once again how ugly and bigoted her world is. CPAC is where Democracy Goes To Die. Ann Fugly states her case. Don’t step in it.
“I think [women] should be armed but should not vote…women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it…it´s always more money on education, more money on child care, more money on day care.” - AC 2001
In a new interview conducted by Emma Watson, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling drops a bombshell: She’s not so sure she should have put Ron and Hermione together.
The shocking revelation came in the new issue of Wonderland, of which Watson is a guest editor this month. The comments were obtained by The Sunday Times.
Rowling says that she should have put Hermione and Harry together in the Harry Potter series instead of Hermione and Ron, according to the publication’s headline, which reads, “JK admits Hermione should have wed Harry.”
For what it’s worth, I thought the Hermione/Ron relationship was possibly the one that might have made sense, whereas Hermione/Harry seemed too “pat” and obvious.
Maybe the subtitle should read: “C. Underkoffler Continues to Question
s Rowling’s Questions Writing Ability”.
I mean, it’s not like I didn’t buy and read all the books and watch half the movies, and mostly enjoy them, but when Rowling does something I don’t enjoy or agree with or think was done below a basic artistic level of quality, I really dislike it and/or believe it to be utter crap.
And, no lie, that feeling gets magnified by the fame/cultural currency/money generated by the Potter series.
To take another example: I quite like Stephen King’s work. When I read/view poorer work of his, I’m more disappointed in it than I would be with poor work from John or Jane Q. Writer, because of the scope of the impact of King’s work in general (and, in King’s case over Rowling, a long track record of creating stuff I dig).
Grumpy mode, OFF.
An interesting article in the NY Times outlines a former money addict’s journey.
To me just the term ‘money addict’ explains a great deal of the behaviour of those on Wall Street and the upper management of corporations. Addicts tend to be erratic and driven in their quest for their next hit. They also don’t care who gets hurt.
Food for thought.
At this point, it is tough to live in America and not know that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same night this year. It is also tough to not know that this doesn’t usually happen. That popular wisdom has it we’ve got another 70,000 years to go before this comes up again. (Apparently popular wisdom is wrong.)
But a year ago, it wasn’t a cultural reference point. It was just an oddity Dana Reichman Gitell, a marketing specialist at Hebrew Senior Life in Massachusetts, had noticed on the calendar.
She was driving to work in November 2012, thinking about how a year from then, this was going to be big deal. That it would become a part of pop culture, but also that there would be a more serious aspect to it.
“Really in my heart, even at that early stage,” Reichman Gitell said, “I thought this is also an incredible opportunity to celebrate the Jewish-American experience… To show our gratitude for America for being one of the best places to be Jewish in this world outside of Israel.”
She started pushing words and sounds together and before long had blended the holidays into one term: Thanksgivukkah. She started a Facebook page celebrating the event, then a Twitter feed and a website. Soon, her sister-in-law, Deborah Gitell, joined the project.
At first it was a way to have fun. A place where Reichman Gitell would post things like her picture of Charlie Brown with side curls celebrating a Charlie Brown Thanksgivukkah.
But the followers and likes started to mount and Dana and Deborah quickly realized they had something significant: A fan base represented a chance to sell merchandise, and selling merchandise meant a chance to raise money for charity.
“We also thought it seems like there should be a retail element to this. Hanukkah’s a gift-giving holiday and in America buying things is how we celebrate,” Reichman Gitell said.
This is just too, too crass. Sorry ladies, you and your marketing blitz just suck. Great way to validate the stereotype of Teh Greedy Juice.
From the article:
On Oct. 7, 2003, the US government issued Patent No. 6,630,507.
Actor Michael J. Fox and many millions of other Americans — my dear late wife, Tricia, included — could have gotten very excited about this development back then.
But it was, apparently, not the sort of thing Washington wanted advertised.
Patent No. 6,630,507, you see, is for cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants. Most people would simply refer to this as medical marijuana.
Who got that patent? The US government gave this patent to itself.
Just so you understand me, this is the same US government that has been fighting the use of marijuana as a drug. Yet its own scientists were claiming a decade ago that marijuana had been effective against a number of diseases.
There is a lot more. I personally am on the fence for the legalization of weed. That probably has to do with me being a recovering alcoholic, a label I wear on my sleeve. I feel it is part of my recovery. I couldn’t handle pot, and I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone. However (slowly I turn, inch by inch!) legalization would open up more money for treatment with taxation and less money going to the drug cartels. When I read or watch stories about prohibition, I see startling similarities with our current war on drugs.
Please read the entire article. John Crudele generally post about business stuff, but this kinda hit home for me.
But the time has come for someone else to advance that cause now. I made that decision when one stops aggressively raising money, well then people start to ask questions. And that’s an unfortunate part of the business that we’re in. But it’s the main business, and it’s 24 hours a day raising money. It’s not fair. It’s not fair for the member, not fair for constituency to have to be approached every day or two or week ore two about campaign contributions. So it’s just a grueling business and I’m ready for another part of my life.
“Twenty-four hours a day” is hyperbole, of course, but it’s nonetheless a eye-opening statement. In making these comments he joins a list of outgoing lawmakers who, freed from the burdens of fundraising, have embraced their inner Bulworth and vented about the exhausting fundraising hamster wheel. In January, after announcing his forthcoming retirement, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said that Congress barely functions because members spend too much time buckraking.
The median donation from the 1 percent of the 1 percent was $26,584. As the chart below shows, that’s more than half the median family income in America.
Megadonors are very partisan. Four out of five 1-percent-of-the-1-percent donors gave all of their money to one party or the other.
Here’s a statistic that should jolt you awake like black coffee with three shots of espresso dropped in: In the 2012 election cycle, 28 percent of all disclosed donations—that’s $1.68 billion—came from just 31,385 people. Think of them as the 1 percenters of the 1 percent, the elite of the elite, the wealthiest of the wealthy.
The term patrician (Latin: patricius, Greek: πατρίκιος, patrikios) originally referred to a group of ruling class families in ancient Rome, including both their natural and adopted members. In the late Roman Empire, the class was broadened to include high administrative officials, and after the fall of the Western Empire it remained a high honorary title in the Byzantine Empire. Medieval patrician classes were once again formally defined groups of leading burgess families in many medieval Italian republics, such as Venice and Genoa, and subsequently “patrician” became a vaguer term used for aristocrats and the higher bourgeoisie in many countries.