Sheldon Adelson

Playtime’s over. This week’s roundup of new Congressional and Senate super PACs includes big spenders and big names, like former Newt Gingrich benefactor Sheldon Adelson; Harold Simmons, one of this election cycle’s top donors; a key financier of Jon Huntsman’s presidential super PAC; and Citizens United lawyer James Bopp. Freedom PAC Supports Rep. Connie Mack (R), Florida U.S. Senate candidate Freedom PAC hadn’t even existed for two weeks before it dumped a moderate $50,000 into ads for Florida Senate hopeful Connie Mack. And there’s plenty more where that came from.

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Everyone loves a good counter-intuitive story, but Washington loves one sort in particular: the kind that assures us all that something we’ve been led to believe was a worrisome problem is, in fact, not all that big a deal after all, thus allowing us to return to watching “Veep” or “The Newsroom.” Yesterday’s New York Times Magazine offered a classic of this form, a Matt Bai piece arguing that the Citizens United ruling of 2010 is not nearly as responsible for the boom in campaign spending by outside groups as those whiny goo-goo types make it out to be: The oft-repeated narrative of 2012 goe

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To paraphrase Mark Twain, nearly everybody (everybody except conservative ideologues, of course) complains about rich people and big corporations bankrolling our campaigns, but hardly anybody seems to be doing anything about it.

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Dough-Faced

IN EARLY JUNE, a small group of Barack Obama's top fund-raisers gathered for an urgent meeting in a bar on Chicago's Michigan Avenue. They had been summoned to town for a briefing from campaign manager Jim Messina to the several dozen moneyed men and women who make up Obama's finance committee. But, in a classic example of Citizens United-era subterfuge, a handful of the attendees slipped away from the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel in the South Loop and headed to the bar.

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We’ve all gotten used to emails from Michelle, Barack, and Sarah Jessica, but starting soon, it will be our cell phones that we’re checking for those dinner invites. On Monday, the FEC allowed political campaigns, PACs, and super PACs to receive cash donations via text message for the first time. There’s good reason to believe such impulsive texts could be a windfall for political campaigns; a January PEW study on text-message donations to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake found that three-quarters of the gifts were spur-of-the-moment and conducted without much deliberation.

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There is the presidential candidate with very sharp words for China's business, trade and military practices: "We must change course. In the economic arena, we must directly counter abusive Chinese practices in the areas of trade, intellectual property, and currency valuation.

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The Operator

Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year. Enjoy. In early 2010, Karl Rove convened a group of businessmen for lunch at a private club in Dallas. The guests included some of the richest and most influential people in Texas. T. Boone Pickens, the corporate raider from Amarillo, was there, as was Harlan Crow, the prodigal son of Trammell Crow, the most prominent real estate developer in the country in his day.

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In 2009, Ralph Nader published a fantasia titled Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, in which he imagined a group of maverick billionaires banding together to defeat corporate power in America. Declaring themselves “the Meliorists,” these enlightened oligarchs force Walmart to unionize, elect Warren Beatty governor of California, establish single-payer health insurance, raise the minimum wage to a livable salary, and in general breathe life back into liberalism. In 2012, something like Nader’s utopian scenario has begun to take shape, but with a radically different ideology.

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My old student, that is, my former student from four-plus decades ago, Michael Kazin, has written that the long life of the Christian Right has come to an end. It certainly has lost its old “failsafe” battles. I have no nostalgia at all for the hardened hearts and mellifluous voices which judged intricate human dilemmas through dogma, through harsh dogma, at that. It’s odd, though—isn’t it?—that black churches, rarely labeled as “right anything,” are among the places where same-sex marriage, even the idea of same-sex sex, runs into trouble, big trouble.

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For all those waiting for the Republican primary to end, you’ll have to wait a bit longer: On Saturday Rick Santorum became the 11th Republican politician to lead a national presidential nomination poll during the 2012 cycle. And not just by a little—the Public Policy Polling survey showed Santorum with a 15-point (38-23) lead over Mitt Romney.

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