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Jim Hightower
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Wednesday 15 February 2012
“So there you have it — American politics has developed into a game for the fun and profit of a few superrich narcissists.”

It’s Official: Money Now Governs America

The rich are different from you and me, but the really, really, really rich are also different from the merely rich.

For example, the rich can buy caviar and Champagne, but the Triple-R Rich can buy entire presidential campaigns.

Take Sheldon Adelson, the moneybags who's pumped $11 million so far into Newt Gingrich's right-wing run. He has single-handedly kept Gingrich's White House ambitions alive. Without this one guy's money, The Newt would've been long gone. Thanks a lot, Sheldon.

But Adelson can easily afford to roll the dice on a far-out candidate. This global casino baron hauled in $3.3 million in pay last year. Not for a year — that's what his hourly take was. In other words, his $11-million bet on Newt, which altered the Republican presidential race, was nothing — less than three-and-a-half hours of one of Sheldon's workdays.

Even Rick Santorum, who's so far to the right that his left brain has entirely atrophied from lack of use, is actually in the running for the GOP nomination. He insists that people are flocking to him because of the power of his ideas. Sure, Rick — and the power of Foster Friess' money.

This little-known Wall Street multimillionaire has long been a partner in the Koch brothers' plutocratic cabal and a steady funder of right-wing Christian politics. Friess modestly claims that God is "the chairman of my board." I doubt that, but Friess definitely is Santorum's guardian angel, having kept his campaign of wackiness afloat with untold infusions of cash. When Friess was told that Santorum's recent caucus wins would prompt Mitt Romney's Triple-R Richies to counterattack, he was thrilled. I think that "is so exciting," he warbled.

So there you have it — American politics has developed into a game for the fun and profit of a few superrich narcissists.

And, that's why Barack Obama was right on target two years ago when he denounced the Supreme Court for allowing unlimited corporate cash to flood into our elections, calling it a "threat to democracy."

But, where did that guy go? Now that gushers of that money are pouring into this year's Republican presidential campaigns through super PACs, he has pivoted adroitly from condemning such corrupt funds ... to creating one of his own. Savvy, or cynical?

I call it sad. Not because Obama wouldn't stand on principle, but because his switch affirms that special interest money now governs us, too powerful for even the sitting president to resist. These super PACs, all of which are creatures of a handful of rich Americans, were already the biggest power in the Republican presidential contest. Front-runner Mitt Romney's last name is even an anagram that spells M-O-N-E-Y, and a $30 million super PAC financed chiefly by Wall Streeters is what has powered him to the front. They want to buy a president who'll undo Obama's financial reform law that restrains some of their greed. That's what our "democracy" has become. Sad.

Rather than taking the high road and rallying a public that's thoroughly disgusted by this, Obama now joins Romney, et al. on the money-slicked low road. His super PAC, named Priorities USA, is as corrupt as the Republicans'. All of them perpetuate the ludicrous legalistic fraud that the secretive funds operate independently of the candidates. Come on — hand puppets act with more independence than super PACs! While Obama piously says he won't work directly with the PAC, he has directed Cabinet officials and White House aides to rustle up big donors to fund it.

What we're getting this year is not a presidential election, it's an auction! And it'll keep getting worse until we — the people — repeal the Supreme Court's money rule. To help, go to


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ABOUT Jim Hightower
National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.

something like, Frankly,

something like, Frankly, we've got plenty to do arnoud here without having to repeatedly defend a law arising from a wedge issue trotted out to score political points and prevent a problem that only exists in the minds of some prejudiced people. I'd like to think Obama is on a boldness kick and has rediscovered where his support lies, but I don't. He's been a no show in the battle going on in Wisconsin, disgustingly so. His SOTU and budget both serve to validate Republicans' politically self-serving talking points about the need to cut spending, even though doing so will only stall or reverse economic recovery — ironically, postponing the day when the economy is finally back in shape and some serious deficit reduction can take place without spiking unemployment and chilling demand.Oh yes, Obama is a far better president than the one he replaced. But this period we're in calls for a Roosevelt, Truman or Johnson-type fighter and reformer, not an appeaser. The fact Obama either doesn't understand that or does but chooses to ignore it leaves him as a muddler who's blowing more opportunities to make a difference, to set things right, than most presidents ever get.

How about a new political

How about a new political party--the "99% Party." Take the fairest, most embraceable ideals supporting Democracy and Occupy Wall Street, and start an entirely new political movement.

GG523: I think what's new is

GG523: I think what's new is that not only is unprecedented wealth and income concentrated in the hands of a tiny slice of the population but those few can also now spend virtually unlimited amounts of that wealth and income buying elections and politicians who will then live in fear of offending those big donors and be more or less obligated to return the favors rather than serving the general public and the greater good.

I can see the triple R's

I can see the triple R's sitting around together really laughing it up, bragging on how much more they've given out and placing side bets on who's man places in what position. And it's not the superpacs having to act independently from the candidate, it's wether or not the candidate acts independently from what the superpac wants. The candidate gets to come to an office an articulate his platform, pen in hand. If he gets a silent nod he puts a tick beside that platform plank, if he gets a head wag he crosses that plank out; and with a slap on the back and a "go get'im guy" the candidates off to the next stump. Politics has always been kinda creepy., but now all pretence has been dropped at the altar of naked greed.

I heard this story about an

I heard this story about an ex county sheriff, he is in prison, he got caught paying
$25 to $50 for votes.
He is thinking he should appeal his case.
He said that he was only doing what the Supreme Court said he could do when
they ruled money was voice and a corporation was a person.
He said that he was only using his voice to ask people to vote for him.

And that the Koch Brothers, other Billionaires and Corporations And the super pacs
are doing the same but to a much higher degree. He wants to know why if it is illegal
to use ones voice (money) to ask for or to influence the way someone votes, why
they are not in prison with him.

The title of this article is

The title of this article is funny to me, since money has been "governing America" since it began.

. . Interesting topic . . .

. . Interesting topic . . . while it may be true it has no bearing on reality . . .
the polls put the congress lower than the dog catcher -ritghfully so . . Insider Trading watered down even before being enacted . . . A Pipeline from Canada to Galveston, Texas - to help big oil export their product. . . .
the Supreme Court for allowed unlimited corporate cash to flood into our elections, calling it a "threat to democracy." Mr. Romney's cry for corporations as people too - - - the "Supreme" court "appointed George Bush President" - because it would cost too much to re-run the election / would take too much time ( over-ruling two hundred years of democracy)- while they were appointed by Bush Senior.....

Prostitution is LEGAL in

Prostitution is LEGAL in Washington, D.C.

So is Bribery & Influence Peddling (Quid Pro Quo).

GAWD Bless Amerika and Unbridled Kapitalism.

Stop paying your Taxes! No

Stop paying your Taxes! No taxation without representation! I'm poor so I don't get represented.

Ron Paul is a joke and crazy.

Ron Paul is a joke and crazy. He can never be taken seriously because he talks out of both sides of his mouth. In my book you cannot preach no government intervention and then claim to be against abortion, gay rights, etc.. I lost respect for him when he showed his conservatice social ideology. Hypocrite.

Show me a clip or an article

Show me a clip or an article with direct quotes of him contradicting himself. He does not agree with abortion and hell he might not agree with gay marriage, but those are his opinions and no way supersede his belief that the Federal Government has no right to be involved in those decisions.

I think you fail to understand the difference between one's viewpoint and how the government is supposed to legally work. A President's opinion isn't supposed to matter on most occasions. The constitution is what matters and he's the only major candidate who supports the law of the land. All others are criminals and terrorists.

So if you want to be biased about Ron Paul, fine, but please don't spread lies. Back up your accusations with evidence.

If you vote for Obama, you are either gullible, ignorant, and a sadist. There is no other option.

So, I hope you are voting 3rd party.

It ain't half bad yet... the

It ain't half bad yet... the unlimited money is not yet coordinated, so money is flowing to several candidates, doing a lot of churning and there are unintended consequences... the real problem is going to be when all that money settles on one candidate... that money will choke the media, the Brain Dead Megaphone will go live and national....

I wonder what the Adelsons

I wonder what the Adelsons pay in taxes... if he's earning $3M per hour, he should be paying at least $1M in taxes - that's $8B per year! A few million here and there is peanuts if he gets his taxes reduced even by 1%.

Not to go all Nixon on them, but these ultra-rich people should be put under the microscope for their finances... If they're out there buying elections, they'd better be squeaky clean ( which we pretty much know is not the case for the Kochs).

Jim, here's something you can

Jim, here's something you can do: File a petition asking the SEC to adopt a rule requiring publicly traded corporations to quantify and report the return they expect to reap from each political donation. That could lead to some fun reading in corporate reports: "We spent $50,000 on Senator X, but we saved $10 million this year alone from him refusing to bring up Bill Y in committee."

You know the old saw; never

You know the old saw; never bet against a man at his own game. So having the rules loaded to favor an election of, by and for the wealthy makes it a game of "who's got the most money to blow on a campaign?". The horror part of this story is that the invariably negative ads that these super PACs are largely geared to, seem to work. That leaves me wondering who the hell is swayed by this audio/visual bile?

I will be voting for Obama. Not because he is a reliable bearer of the progressive torch, but because he is the only viable candidate that I can see that I would even remotely trust with the next supreme court nomination. That's it. That and the prospects of allowing one of these hacks from the bat-shit crazy right, santorum or the new newt, to be in charge would be the simply too reminiscent of the cheney/bush era for me to stomach.

I've no doubt that a willard or a santorum administration would be something south of w. bush in terms of mangling the economy; ginning up another avoidable war; the final destruction of the public's safety net; fundamentally- a return to the 19th century. (Isn't that what they mean by "taking America back"? All the way back). Ultimately, who is there to challenge this largely bought and paid for field of candidates? (And I include Obama in that question). Paul has some nice libertarian ideas but I am yet to hear him disown his past, ugly rants on race, and frankly, some of the mind numbingly stupid ideas being touted by the righties CAME from the libertarians. So Ron Paul aint gonna do it. No on is challenging Obama from within his own party, so I try (really try) to remain as optimistic as possible and I vote for Mr. O.

The upshot here is that the political system is not how change is going to be made. It is going to be made when the mooks who think they are in charge see our faces out in the street, day after day, week after week. When non-violent political action, in the street, begins to slow the machinery, or stop the machinery and it becomes emphatically clear to our kings and dukes and barons, that we will not go away and no amount of campaign donations will alter that. #OWS gives me faith. The Democratic party does not.

oh if only everyone thought

oh if only everyone thought this clearly! thanks for the awesome post.

Power corrupts. But money

Power corrupts. But money corrupts more. When it's used to buy things such as our democracy. The "rights and wrongs" are so far lost in the maze of "they did it so that justifies me doing it" that no one is worth much at all. It's not just congress that's held in such low esteem, it's everyone in D.C. The administration and Supremes included. Money has corrupted it all and the pipers are collecting their due. That leaves out about 99% of Americans - who flounder on the shoals of not caring or feeling totally ineffectual. With good reason. I have to agree with Rodley in his list of Obama sins - he's been a huge disappointment - blaming "the best we could do" for his own failure to act and more importantly, to lead. He's now out on the campaign trail, looking like the guy we thought we elected once again. My question is, are his fingers still crossed behind his back when he's making all his promises to the "progressives?" I fear that's so. At this point, one can ONLY judge by the record. His is not a good one and rife with the potholes of promises dodged and rationalized. I don't know that I'll even bother to vote. It seems such a waste of my time. I could be reading a good book.

Adrienne, I do agree with

Adrienne, I do agree with both you and Rodley: The president has been a huge disappointment, and has caved without a fight on nearly every front. Obama is definitely the worst candidate we have, except for everybody else. Obama is not great -- but Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul are dangerous. I'm sure it's just your disillusionment talking when you threaten to stay home on election day, but just in case ... please, think about the horrors of a Romney/Gingrich/Santorum administration, and VOTE!

So how would things pan out

So how would things pan out with a white supremacist President? Get Ron Paul in and we'll find out.

The one thing that you

The one thing that you haven't bargained on happening is about to launch. The word is now getting around in certain circles. There is a new sheriff in town and I'm sure that you are going to meet him soon.

And what do you think Soros

And what do you think Soros and all the Saudi Arabians did in the 2008 campaign?Hmmm?

Rodley ...Obama respects no one...don't you know anything about narcissists? Or Politicians...all of them?

PRICELESS22 I do not think

I do not think you know your facts. Saudi Arabians? Saudi Arabians are with the Republicans. Remember Big Oil. Who are the ones supporting Big Oil. Soros, is a different story. Him and Buffet are a few of the super rich that have some decency.

I distinctly remember it

I distinctly remember it queer
all of John Kerry's Secret Service were Arab

the rich = the rich = the rich

although some wealthy people see beauty in the world and not just dollar signs


Well, I'm not sure Don is

Well, I'm not sure Don is correct, but, alas, I am not surprised that President Obama gave in so easily. If he hadn't, it would've been a sign he actually is willing to risk respecting the electorate and standing on some kind of principle -- just as he "reluctantly" signed the defense budget with its provisions opening the door to permanent incarceration of citizens suspected of "terrorism" -- just as he threw out even a modest fight for a single payer health care system, just as he tolerated the treatment of Bradley Manning and escalated the pointless war operations in Afghanistan, of course he gave in on this as a matter of "no choice" real politik -- increasing the cynicism of the voter and further alienating the youthful voters who thought he meant it wouldn't be business as usual. He may win despite this, but if he goes down, he will have gone down without a genuine fight on behalf of the people. His "decency" is hardly consolation for the average citizen. Or much of an incentive to get out and vote for him. This is where I fear, while the easy way out, the money way, looks attractive -- it make him look more and more Romneyesque.

Perfect well articulated

Perfect well articulated argument of why Ron Paul is the only viable candidate we have from either party.

Really? Only if you are white

Really? Only if you are white and rich. He is not even a viable candidate for the Republicans, much less for a run for President.

Yeah, we have a choice

Yeah, we have a choice between the Nazi, two religious zealots, and a serial wife-cheater... All would return us to the Bush policies that got us into the current economic mess (or worse). Versus the Democrat who has turned the economy around, but just barely (a victory in itself, considering that the Republicans block everything he tries).

While I agree with everything

While I agree with everything Jim says here I believe President Obama did not have a choice. If he did not get ready for the onslought of money getting ready to devour his campaign from the right he would lose no matter how much we clatter in his behalf. Until we roll back Citizens United we will be stuck with this.

Well said, Don

Well said, Don

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