In April, casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson told political reporter Jon Ralston that "I'm going to give one more small donation—you might not think it's that small—to a super-PAC." Sure enough, the Las Vegas billionaire reportedly just gave $10 million to the pro-Romney super-PAC Restore Our Future. That's on top of another $25 million given to conservative super-PACs by Adelson and his wife, cementing their status as the most massive megadonors of 2012.
The Adelsons aren't new to the world of outsized political contributions. But their spending in the past few months has exceeded their entire reported political spending between 1992 and 2010, which totalled $27.6 million and included $17 million to the short-lived Freedom's Watch (billed as the conservative answer to MoveOn.org in the 2008 election).
Beyond his super-PAC donations, Adelson is ready to spend as much as $100 million this year, the Wall Street Journal reports. (Much of his upcoming donations may go to dark-money groups, in which case they won't have to be disclosed.) Don't worry, he won't feel a thing: As of March, Adelson was worth nearly 250 times that—$24.9 billion.
For another perspective on just how loaded Adelson is, consider how his net worth stacks up to the typical American family's:
The Adelsons are hardly the only ones taking advantage of the post-Citizens-United free-for-all. But they are blowing all other donors away: Their spending exceeds that of the next six biggest donors. (So far, most major donors are also supporting conservative super-PACs, which are outspending their liberal counterparts by a factor of 7 to 1.)
Jim Messina, ready to rock (left); the other Jim Messina, ready to Barack (right)
There are two Jim Messinas. One is a former member of Buffalo Springfield, Poco, and the '70s soft-rock duo Loggins and Messina. (Yes, that's Loggins as in Kenny). The other is Barack Obama's 2012 campaign manager, a hard-nosed operator who gets nostalgic about "how bad a campaign office smells at midnight." The similarities pretty much end with their names.
However, when it comes to their opening lines, it can be hard to tell the two Jim Messinas apart.
Here's the challenge: Half of the titles in this quiz are actual subject lines of emails sent by Jim Messina (the campaign manager one) to Obama supporters. The other half are titles of songs by Loggins and Messina. Can you tell which are which?
"We've had it backward for the last 30 years," [Hanauer] said. "Rich businesspeople like me don't create jobs. Rather they are a consequence of an ecosystemic feedback loop animated by middle-class consumers, and when they thrive, businesses grow and hire, and owners profit. That's why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich."
You can't find that speech online. TED officials told Hanauer initially they were eager to distribute it. "I want to put this talk out into the world!" one of them wrote him in an e-mail in late April. But early this month they changed course, telling Hanauer that his remarks were too "political" and too controversial for posting.
TED curator Chris Anderson* emailed Hanauer that while "I personally share your disgust at the growth in inequality in the US," he felt that posting the talk would lead to "a tedious partisan rehash of all the arguments we hear every day in the mainstream media."
Want to borrow our charts for your own alternative TED talk? Go for it—we've posted downloadable versions of the most popular ones here. Let the tedious partisan rehash begin!
Updates, 5/17/12: On his blog, TED's Chris Anderson has responded to what he calls the "non-story" about Hanauer's talk. He says it was not posted on the TED home page because it didn't meet its standards: "It framed the issue in a way that was explicitly partisan. And it included a number of arguments that were unconvincing, even to those of us who supported his overall stance. The audience at TED who heard it live (and who are often accused of being overly enthusiastic about left-leaning ideas) gave it, on average, mediocre ratings."
Here's the actual talk, which Hanauer put on YouTube. You'll see that some audience members gave him a standing ovation.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Chris Anderson is also Wired's editor-in-chief. The sentence has been corrected.
Hey, is that a cli-CHÉ Guevara t-shirt? In his newly released book, The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, Jonah Goldberg argues that liberals craftily use innocuous-sounding yet hackneyed phrases such as "social justice" and "diversity" to obscure their nefarious intentions. Never mind that issue-framing is nothing new in American politics and that conservatives are prettydarn goodat it. And never mind that Goldberg's last book, Liberal Fascism, indulged in the very argument-by-sloganeering that he now decries.
Let's focus on the book's title, a call to arms against trite reductionism—which just happens to echo the title of no fewer than 52 previously published books, including: