The M1 Abrams tank has survived the Cold War, Iraq, and Afghanistan. No wonder—it weighs as much as nine elephants and is fitted with a cannon capable of turning a building to rubble from two and a half miles away. But now the hulking, clanking machine finds itself a target in an unusual battle between the Defense Department and lawmakers who are the beneficiaries of large donations by its manufacturer.
Gearing up for tomorrow’s expected Obamacare decision, here’s a chart showing the rightward drift of the Supreme Court justices over the years.
If Citizens United was the Big Bang of a new era of money in politics, here’s the universe it formed: rapidly expanding super-PACs and nebulous 501(c) groups exerting gravitational pull on the 2012 election. Mouse over a “planet” to peer into its funding and top donors. Sizes are based on latest reported revenues (if disclosed). This data is live—come back for weekly updates.
Want to learn more about dark money? We put up a good post on the subject on Monday.
Chronicling a four-decade fight over campaign finance, and how American politics is fueled by secret spending.
For decades, the campaign finance wars have pitted two ideological foes against each other: one side clamoring to dam the flow while the other seeks to open the floodgates. The self-styled good-government types believe that unregulated political money inherently corrupts. A healthy democracy, they say, needs robust regulation—clear disclosure, tough limits on campaign spending and donations, and publicly financed presidential and congressional elections. The dean of this movement is 73-year-old Fred Wertheimer, the former president of the advocacy outfit Common Cause, who now runs the reform group Democracy 21.
On the other side are conservatives and libertarians who consider laws regulating political money an assault on free markets and free speech. They want to deregulate campaign finance—knock down spending and giving limits and roll back disclosure laws. Their leaders include Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), conservative lawyer James Bopp Jr., and former FEC commissioner Brad Smith, who now chairs the Center for Competitive Politics, which fights campaign finance regulation.
Just how big is Walmart? Really freaking big!
More charts here.
Check out this International Institute for Strategic Studies infographic on military spending.
Do you have any idea how much you spend on food? A few of us here at Mother Jones tracked our habits and were surprised (and appalled) to see the damage. Suspecting we weren’t alone, we decided to do a little research. The result is this calculator, which allows you to see how your spending compares to that of others in the United States, your city, and various kinds of households and income brackets. You can also compare your budget to USDA recommendations.
Brad Plumer points us to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s newly released Annual Energy Outlook 2012 report, and their projections aren’t especially heartening. They forecast that the U.S. mix of energy consumption isn’t going to change much over the next 25 years, and as a result our carbon emissions aren’t likely to decrease either.
If you have a ton of cash and a political agenda, it’s easier than ever to make powerful friends and influence people. Here’s a handy how-to guide to the complex, cash-drenched world of federal campaign finance.