Dave Gilson

Dave Gilson

Senior editor

Senior editor at Mother Jones. Obsessive generalist, word wrangler, data cruncher, pun maker.

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Dave Gilson is a senior editor at Mother Jones. Read more of his stories, follow him on Twitter, or contact him.

Charts: $35 Million Is Chump Change—If You're Sheldon Adelson

| Thu Jun. 14, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

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.)

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The Charts TED Doesn't Want to Share

| Wed May 16, 2012 8:16 PM EDT

If you want to learn about topics like climate change, sex slavery, global poverty, or solving the world's problems with video games, there's a TED talk for you. But income inequality in the United States? Keep looking. National Journal's Jim Tankersley reported today that the wonkfest's organizers decided not to post the video of a TED presentation by a venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer, who'd spoken about how the American middle class has been left behind:

"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."

Tankersley has posted the text and slides from Hanauer's talk. A couple of his charts will be familiar to MoJo readers—we originally published them as part of our packages on income inequality and the workplace speed-up.

 

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.

The Tyranny of Dumb Book Titles

| Wed May 2, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

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 pretty darn good at 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:

The Tyranny of the Majority

The Tyranny of the Minority

The Tyranny of the Two-Party System

The Tyranny of The Status Quo

The Tyranny of Dead Ideas

The Tyranny of Liberalism

The Tyranny of Socialism

The Tyranny of Corporations

The Tyranny of The Market

The Tyranny of The Bottom Line

The Tyranny of Poverty

The Tyranny of Work

The Tyranny of Words

The Tyranny of Numbers

The Tyranny of Mathematics

The Tyranny of Data

The Tyranny of Values

The Tyranny of Elegance

The Tyranny of History

The Tyranny of Choice

The Tyranny of Ambiguity

The Tyranny of Health

The Tyranny of Slenderness

The Tyranny of Food

The Tyranny of Taste

The Tyranny of Pleasure

The Tyranny of Sex

The Tyranny of Guilt

The Tyranny of Noise

The Tyranny of Change

The Tyranny of The Urgent

The Tyranny of Unintended Consequences

The Tyranny of Magical Thinking

The Tyranny of Kindness

The Tyranny of Nice

The Tyranny of Malice

The Tyranny of Science

The Tyranny of Experts

The Tyranny of Shams

The Tyranny of Judges

The Tyranny of Reason

The Tyranny of Relativism

The Tyranny of Opinion

The Tyranny of Tolerance

The Tyranny of E-Mail

The Tyranny of Gun Control

The Tyranny of Time

The Tyranny of Heaven

The Tyranny of God

The Tyranny of Love

The Tyranny of Hate

The Tyranny of Irony 

Book titles via Library of Congress

Front page image by Tom Newby Photography/Flickr

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