There are a couple times in my life when I have felt like I’ve just leapt off a tall building. On the whole, I’ve decided, I’ve not had this feeling often enough.
So today, I leap again — with certainly the biggest chance to fail of anything I’ve ever done.
Today we launch the MAYDAY Citizens’ SuperPAC — the “moneybomb” Matt Miller wrote that we were working on about a year ago, and the “moonshot” BillMoyers.com wrote about last month. Think of it as a “SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs,” built first from small-dollar contributions, which, if we’re successful, will be matched by larger contributions.
That’s the leaping bit: We’ve structured this as a series of matched-contingent goals. We’ve got to raise $1 million in 30 days; if we do, we’ll get that $1 million matched. Then we’ve got to raise $5 million in 30 days; if we do, we’ll get that $5 million matched as well. If both challenges are successful, then we’ll have the money we need to compete in 5 races in 2014. Based on those results, we’ll launch a (much much) bigger effort in 2016 — big enough to win.
The ultimate aim is to spend enough to win a majority in Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. We’ve spent the last year gaming out how much that would cost. I think it is feasible and possible — if we can take these first steps successfully now.
And that’s the leap: It is impossibly hard to imagine raising $1 million in 30 days, even as a contingent commitment (meaning, you only get charged if we hit the goal). I get that. But we’ve got to try. For if we succeed, we can change the story of this democracy; we can give people a sense that we can actually claim it back. And we can build a momentum, I believe, that no billionaire’s SuperPAC could defeat.
Or at least, that’s the dream that inspires this leap. Help me if you can (understanding, I’ve already made the leap!). Make a pledge at MayOne.US. Or at least, share MayOne.US with anyone you believe might be willing to help. And if you have great ideas about how we can make this take off, please share them, either in email to me at pobox.com or in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who has helped so far — especially my friend Brian Boyko who pulled the site together from scratch in 2 weeks. And thanks to all who have expressed their real and personal concern about how hard it will be to leap and fail. I don’t believe we’ll fail. There’s a frustration and hunger for reform that I really believe could matter. But if we do fail, then I’ve got three young kids, and an amazing wife, and I (think I still) have tenure at a great university (where this year I’ve had the INCREDIBLE experience of teaching undergraduates). So the worst case isn’t that bad. And the best case is the beginning of hope.
So please help if you can. Spread this far if you can.
Here’s the introductory video that I made for MayOne.US:
In which Niemoller, Aaron, and Jamie Raskin all make an appearance.
The Justice Department has just obtained documents showing that JPMorgan Chase, Wall Street’s biggest bank, has been hiring the children of China’s ruling elite in order to secure “existing and potential business opportunities” from Chinese government-run companies. “You all know I have always been a big believer of the Sons and Daughters program,” says one JP Morgan executive in an email, because “it almost has a linear relationship” to winning assignments to advise Chinese companies. The documents even include spreadsheets that list the bank’s “track record” for converting hires into business deals.
It’s a serious offense. But let’s get real. How different is bribing China’s “princelings,” as they’re called there, from Wall Street’s ongoing program of hiring departing U.S. Treasury officials, presumably in order to grease the wheels of official Washington? Timothy Geithner, Obama’s first Treasury Secretary, is now president of the private-equity firm Warburg Pincus; Obama’s budget director Peter Orszag is now a top executive at Citigroup.
Or, for that matter, how different is what JP Morgan did in China from Wall Street’s habit of hiring the children of powerful American politicians? (I don’t mean to suggest Chelsea Clinton got her hedge-fund job at Avenue Capital LLC, where she worked from 2006 to 2009, on the basis of anything other than her financial talents.)
And how much worse is JP Morgan’s putative offense in China than the torrent of money JP Morgan and every other major Wall Street bank is pouring into the campaign coffers of American politicians — making the Street one of the major backers of Democrats as well as Republicans?
By Lisa Wade, PhD.
There is a winding line of counties stretching from Louisiana to South Carolina, a set of states that largely voted for McCain in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. The map below shows how counties voted in blue and red and you can clearly see this interesting pattern.
These counties went overwhelmingly for Obama in part because there is large black population. Often called the “Black Belt,” these counties more so than the surrounding ones were at one time home to cotton plantations and, after slavery was ended, many of the freed slaves stayed. This image nicely demonstrates the relationship between the blue counties and cotton production in 1860:
But why was there cotton production there and not elsewhere? The answer to this question is a geological one and it takes us all the way back to 65 million years ago when the seas were higher and much of the southern United States was under water. This image illustrates the shape of the land mass during that time:
Jeff Fecke at Alas a Blog discusses it this way:
Along the ancient coastline, life thrived, as usually does. It especially thrived in the delta region, the Bay of Tennessee, if you will. Here life reproduced, ate, excreted, lived, and died. On the shallow ocean floor, organic debris settled, slowly building a rich layer of nutritious debris. Eventually, the debris would rise as the sea departed, becoming a thick, rich layer of soil that ran from Louisiana to South Carolina.
65 million years later, European settlers in America would discover this soil, which was perfect for growing cotton.
So there you have it: the relationship between today’s political map, the economy, and geological time.
I have borrowed the information and images below from Jeff Fecke at Alas A Blog. His discussion, if you’re interested, is more in depth.