A tiny number of Americans — .26 percent — give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.
These few don’t exercise their power directly. None can simply buy a congressman, or dictate the results they want. But because they are the source of the funds that fuel elections, their influence operates as a filter on which policies are likely to survive. It is as if America ran two elections every cycle, one a money election and one a voting election. To get to the second, you need to win the first. But to win the first, you must keep that tiniest fraction of the one percent happy. Just a couple thousand of them banding together is enough to assure that any reform gets stopped.
Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world.
It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them….
…it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and their inglorious modus vivendi, both from the world and from themselves….
“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” –Preface to Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman (1855)
I will die and, with me, the weight of the intolerable universe. I shall erase the pyramids, the medallions, the continents and faces. I shall erase the accumulated past. I shall make dust of history, dust of dust. Now I am looking on the final sunset. I am hearing the last bird. I leave nothingness to no one. —Jorge Luis Borges
Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said. Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that, he said, shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass. —Ray Bradbury
The drumbeat of fear has begun about potential defense cutbacks.
“America spends more on defense than the next 14 or 19 nations, depending on methodology, and is the world’s largest arms dealer. It is winding down two wars that lasted longer than American involvement in World War II and in both Iraq and Afghanistan the results are disappointing, to put an optimistic spin on it. The money to wage these wars was largely borrowed from Red China, which our defense establishment is now teeing up as the next ‘enemy’.
“The real lesson of these scary reports is that the American economy is far too dependent on military Keynesianism.
“In the past, when wars ended the economy shifted back to a peacetime footing. Sometimes that did cause recessions on the way to more productive growth (a peacetime economy produces more healthy returns than blowing things up). Now we’re being told that’s impossible.
“That sound you hear is Dwight Eisenhower spinning in his grave.”