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I posted an item last week noting that Barack Obama’s presidential campaign liked to talk about all the money it has raised from small donors, but that it was raking in big bucks from traditional fat cats as well. I included in the item a fundraising pitch for Obama that offered seats at a dinner for him at $15,000 per head or $28,500 per couple (a price that included a photograph with the candidate as well).
The New York Times has just published a story about Obama’s fundraising operation that says:
In an effort to cast himself as independent of the influence of money on politics, Senator Barack Obama often highlights the campaign contributions of $200 or less that have amounted to fully half of the $340 million he has collected so far. But records show that one-third of his record-breaking haul has come from donations of $1,000 or more: a total of $112 million, more than Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, or Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, his opponent in the Democratic primaries, raised in contributions of that size.
Behind those larger donations is a phalanx of more than 500 Obama “bundlers,” fund-raisers who have each collected contributions totaling $50,000 or more. Many of the bundlers come from industries with critical interests in Washington…While his campaign has cited its volume of small donations as a rationale for his decision to opt out of public financing for the general election, Mr. Obama has worked to build a network of big-dollar supporters from the time he began contemplating a run for the United States Senate. He tapped into well-connected people in Chicago prior to the 2004 Senate race, and once elected, set out across the country starting to cultivate some of his party’s most influential money collectors.
He courted them with the savvy of a veteran politician, through phone calls, meals and one-on-one meetings; he wrote thank-you cards and remembered birthdays; he sent them autographed copies of his book and doted on their children. The fruits of his efforts have put Mr. Obama’s major donors on a pace that almost rivals the $147 million raised by President Bush’s network of Pioneers and Rangers in contributions of $1,000 or larger during the 2004 primary season.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”