Tag Archives: Sunlight Foundation

Bamboozled no more…..

If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle.  We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth.  The bamboozle has captured us.  It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken.  Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.  ~ Carl Sagan

One way to come to grips with the challenge We the People face at this juncture is to frame the information crisis in an alternate context.  This repot by First Draft News is a useful tool to reorder the mental format for thinking.  One year into the Era of Our Discontent, we struggle mightily to recognize the complexity of information disorder, to recognize that the very premise is “disorder.”  We fail to recognize – or perhaps admit – that the complexity of information disorder online” starts from the premise of “disorder”.  Consider this:  https://firstdraftnews.org/coe_infodisorder/

The struggle to unravel the intent and complexities of our information state is a shared challenge:

We the People face today’s challenge with both heads and hearts.  Take just a minute to heed the words and appreciate the attitudes of these wise gentleman as they speak with both:  https://vimeo.com/253191   To read their position paper on Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression click here: https://jmp.princeton.edu/statement








Politics by the Numbers: Stats Tell the Tale of the 1% of 1%

Political junkies, more attuned to counting votes than comparing and contrasting statistics, are furrowing their frazzled brows these days as they parse the implications of the 1% of the 1%.   Sunlight Foundation started it all with their ambitious study and reports on the elite political donors, the .01% of the U.S. population who call the electoral shots.

Basically, that’s 31, 385 individuals who forked over a whole lot of money to influence the 2012 presidential election. The heavy hitters are 1% of 1% in a nation of 313.85 million people, nearly 66,000,000 of whom voted in the 2012 presidential election.  In sum, total political giving by the 1% of the 1% in 2012 was $1.7 billion.

It may surprise some Minnesotans to learn that Wayzata is #5 among the nation’s cities with the highest percentage of 1% of 1% donors.  Fifty Wayzata donors scraped up a total of $3.7 million in campaign contributions.

This is but one local stat extrapolated from a mountain of figures aggregated and interpreted by the Sunlight Foundation.  To wit:  Nearly 72% of the donors were male; the top five employers were Goldman Sachs (85 donors, $4.6 million), Blackstone (49 donors, $2.2 million), Kirkland & Ellis (40 donors, $1.5 million), Morgan Stanley (38 donors) and Comcast (37 donors) tied for fifth place with a measly $1.2 million each.  The median contribution from the 1% is $25,484 which researchers note is “a little more than half the median family income in the United States.”

Of these major contributions approximately 85% of the donors contributed 90% of their money to one or the other party only.  Lobbyists, it seems, are the most egalitarian in their distribution of political wealth and access.

Researchers caution “the 1% of 1% dominated campaign giving even in a year when President Barack Obama reached new small donor frontiers.  In 2014, without a presidential race to attract small donors, all indicators are that the 1% of the 1% will occupy an even more central role in the money chase.”

The Sunlight Foundation reports are replete with graphs and charts, infographics, even a video describing the process and findings.  For the mathematically gifted, opportunities to drill down – and rant – abound.

Learn more on the Sunlight Foundation blog: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/tag/one-percent-of-one-percent/





Inbox Influence – New Tool for Tracking Influence

Sunlight Foundation http://sunlightfoundation.com/ has just introduced a new tool, Inbox Influence, that allows the viewer to learn at the teachable moment about the political contributions of the people and organizations that are mentioned in incoming emails.  (Sarah Palin, eat your heart out!)  According to Sunlight Foundation “the easy-to-use tool can be used for researching influence background on corporate correspondence, adding context to newspaper headlines or discovering who is behind political fundraising solicitations.”

In a word, Inbox Influence sends the text of the email and the sender information to Sunlight Foundation servers.  Again according to the Foundation “this information is used only to process the request and is not stored in any way.”  (There have been charges without attribution to the contrary)

Click here for a quick video introduction to Inbox Influence.