April 27th, 2012

Bill Shorten “I understand that the Prime Minister has addressed this in a press conference in Turkey in the last few hours, I haven’t seen what she said, but let me say I support what it is that she said…My view is what the Prime Minister’s view is.”

March 26th, 2012

If you’re a corporation or lobbyist, what’s the best way to “buy” a member of Congress? Secretly promise them a million dollars or more in pay if they come to work for you after they leave office.

And since those deals are done in secret, legislators are largely free to pass laws, special tax cuts, or earmarks that benefit their future employer with little or no accountability to the public.

February 22nd, 2012
ABC journalist Sally Sara

ABC journalist Sally Sara

February 16th, 2012

Catholic hospitals have become the largest nonprofit health care provider in the US, with over 600 hospitals. This year, one in six patients will be cared for in a Catholic hospital.

In these hospitals the Catholic Church asserts their moral teachings on the doctors and patients, dictating what procedures and treatments can and cannot be administered. This includes denying abortion even when the woman’s life is at risk. As some of these Catholic run hospitals are in rural areas and therefore the only one nearby for many people, both Catholic and non-Catholic patients are faced with restrictions on their healthcare needs.

February 4th, 2012

In light of this week’s AEC political donation disclosure reports, the Labor government is looking to reform disclosure regulations.

Only donations to political parties of over $11,500 must be disclosed, a figure the Howard government had installed as the reporting threshold. Under the Rudd government Labor had tried to change it back down to $1000 but had been thwarted by the Coalition. It looks like they are going to try again, this time with the help of the Greens. 

According to The Age the reform package is also likely to include:

  • Removal of the loophole that allows donors to hide their contributions by splitting them across state branches.
  • A tightening of the definition of a donation.
  • A requirement that political parties and donors notify the commission within 14 days of any donation over $100,000.
  • It will stop short of bans on corporate/union donations or caps on campaign spending.
Of the $231 million worth of political donations that were disclosed this week, $72 million had unknown sources.
Some recent commentary on Stephen Colbert and the wacky world of American campaign finance.
When a 91-year-old former justice is patiently explaining to a comedian that corporations are not people, it’s clear that everything about the majority opinion has been reduced to a punch line. - Slate
Stephen Colbert, a latter-day Twain and mock presidential candidate, is so valuable these days. Absurdism may be the only effective way to expose the absurdities of campaign finance laws. The laws have become so ludicrous that they require a satirist to unpack them in the pursuit of truth (or, as he calls it, “truthiness”). - Philadelphia Inquirer
It’s one thing to point out that the emperor has no clothes. It’s a damn sight more effective, as Colbert has shown, to get people to point and laugh at the emperor’s nakedness. - Politico
There is no funnier or smarter (or more heartbreaking or depressing) deconstruction of the American scene - particularly our fatally flawed political process, as signified by Colbert’s Super PAC - to be found anywhere else in the culture right now. - AdAge
(Above photo: Stephen Colbert and his attorney Trevor Potter aka Stevie C and T Potts)

Some recent commentary on Stephen Colbert and the wacky world of American campaign finance.

When a 91-year-old former justice is patiently explaining to a comedian that corporations are not people, it’s clear that everything about the majority opinion has been reduced to a punch line. - Slate

Stephen Colbert, a latter-day Twain and mock presidential candidate, is so valuable these days. Absurdism may be the only effective way to expose the absurdities of campaign finance laws. The laws have become so ludicrous that they require a satirist to unpack them in the pursuit of truth (or, as he calls it, “truthiness”). - Philadelphia Inquirer

It’s one thing to point out that the emperor has no clothes. It’s a damn sight more effective, as Colbert has shown, to get people to point and laugh at the emperor’s nakedness. - Politico

There is no funnier or smarter (or more heartbreaking or depressing) deconstruction of the American scene - particularly our fatally flawed political process, as signified by Colbert’s Super PAC - to be found anywhere else in the culture right now. - AdAge

(Above photo: Stephen Colbert and his attorney Trevor Potter aka Stevie C and T Potts)

February 2nd, 2012

Australian Electoral Commission has released the financial disclosure returns for the past financial year showing donations to political parties and expenditure on political advertising. 

Big tobacco and mining companies are unsurprisingly the biggest contributors spending millions of dollars on advertising to fight against legislation proposed by the Labor Government, as well as donations to the Liberal Party. Left wing activist group Get Up spent $5 million on political advertising, whilst the trade unions spent $6.5 million. The Greens received the largest donation by an individual with millionaire entrepreneur Graeme Wood giving a generous $1.6 million to the party.

The figures are available on the AEC website.

Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Super PAC has recently filed its year-end disclosure report to the FEC detailing how much money it has raised and who the major donors have been. 
As of January 30 Colbert Super PAC has raised a total of $1,023,121.24 since its inception on July 1st last year. Yes that’s a sweet one million dollars, and a cute twenty four cents on the end. 
The largest contributor is Alex Rigopulos, CEO and co-founder of Harmonix Music Systems who are the original developers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Mr. Rigopulos donated $9600 to Colbert Super PAC. Other notable donors include Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom ($500), and actors Laura San Giacomo (Just Shoot Me) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) who each contributed $250.
Colbert Super PAC’s cornography commercials must have had an impact on Corn Researcher Warren Stine who also contributed some cold hard cash. Speaking of cornography, Des Moines news leader WOI DT ABC gave a $1170 helping hand. 
For the most part the donations Colbert Super PAC received were from everyday Americans including doctors, homemakers, software engineers, lawyers, and retirees. There were several military people who also showed Colbert some love/money. Only donations over $200 had to be disclosed though the generous $1.00 donations of Harry Ballsagna and Frumunda Mabalz (Central Asian immigrants?) were included for a very important reason I’m sure. 
If perusing such legal documentation detailing receipts and disbursements is your thing, you can take a squiz at the whole thing here.

Stephen Colbert’s Colbert Super PAC has recently filed its year-end disclosure report to the FEC detailing how much money it has raised and who the major donors have been.

As of January 30 Colbert Super PAC has raised a total of $1,023,121.24 since its inception on July 1st last year. Yes that’s a sweet one million dollars, and a cute twenty four cents on the end. 

The largest contributor is Alex Rigopulos, CEO and co-founder of Harmonix Music Systems who are the original developers of Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Mr. Rigopulos donated $9600 to Colbert Super PAC. Other notable donors include Lieutenant Governor of California, Gavin Newsom ($500), and actors Laura San Giacomo (Just Shoot Me) and Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) who each contributed $250.

Colbert Super PAC’s cornography commercials must have had an impact on Corn Researcher Warren Stine who also contributed some cold hard cash. Speaking of cornography, Des Moines news leader WOI DT ABC gave a $1170 helping hand. 

For the most part the donations Colbert Super PAC received were from everyday Americans including doctors, homemakers, software engineers, lawyers, and retirees. There were several military people who also showed Colbert some love/money. Only donations over $200 had to be disclosed though the generous $1.00 donations of Harry Ballsagna and Frumunda Mabalz (Central Asian immigrants?) were included for a very important reason I’m sure. 

If perusing such legal documentation detailing receipts and disbursements is your thing, you can take a squiz at the whole thing here.

February 1st, 2012
theatlantic:

Elite Wall Street Donations Jumped 700% in the Last 20 Years

Banks “frankly own the place,” Sen. Dick Durbin famously said of Washington during the debate over financial regulation in 2010. And when it comes to total contributions for big donors, you can see what he’s talking about in this chart. (FIRE = the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector) Read more.
[Image: Sunlight Foundation/Highcharts]

theatlantic:

Elite Wall Street Donations Jumped 700% in the Last 20 Years

Banks “frankly own the place,” Sen. Dick Durbin famously said of Washington during the debate over financial regulation in 2010. And when it comes to total contributions for big donors, you can see what he’s talking about in this chart. (FIRE = the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate sector) Read more.

[Image: Sunlight Foundation/Highcharts]

January 29th, 2012
The pundits have asked, ‘Is this all some joke?’ We’ve all heard it, haven’t we? I say, if they are calling being allowed to form a Super PAC and collect unlimited and untraceable amounts of money from individuals, unions, and corporations and spend that money on political ads and personal enrichment and then surrender that Super PAC to one of my closest friends while I explore a run for office—if that is a joke, then they are saying our entire campaign finance system is a joke.
Stephen Colbert (via brooklynwithoutlimits)