5 Reasons the 'Geezer Empire' of Billionaire Republicans Are Showering Romney With Cash

What would the world be like if the Republican Party’s most influential billionaire backers got their way—if “the geezer empire struck back,” as New York magazine writer Frank Rich put it in a recent piece about this posse of unbelievably wealthy white men who have written million-dollar checks to GOP super PACs and non-profits in 2012.
Beyond the usual GOP jeremiads—cutting taxes and government spending, shredding safety nets, eviscerating federal regulation and privatizing whatever remains—many of the GOP’s biggest moneymen have specific issues and goals, often business-related, and would expect a Romney presidency to advance those agendas.
There is no shortage of amazing reporting on top GOP donors, such as Rich’s overview of these "Sugar Daddies" or The New Republic’s profile of 80-year-old Harold Simmons. Add in reports from watchdogs, such as the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group, and what emerges is a jaw-dropping class of mega-wealthy, alpha-male vulture capitalists who would barely blink at the human or environmental consequences of cashing out.
The 2012 campaign has been awash in Republican billionaires who have discovered they can write checks—small for them at just a million or two—and are fawned over by political consultants urging them to go for the jugular. Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts is one such political newcomer. He backed off a $10 million race-baiting plan to smear Obama with remarks by his former pastor, but is now investing in a movie where the guilt-by-association is tied to Obama’s absentee Kenyan father.
Other newcomers include William Koch, an avid sailor who has opposed a wind turbine farm off Cape Cod and now grouses about Obama being too regulation friendly, even as the New York Times editorializes that his record reining in corporate excesses is “mediocre.”  
These all-too-predictable political screeds and their billionaire promoters appear as babes in the political woods, actually, when compared to the GOP’s more seasoned big moneymen who have used campaign cash and lobbying to win government intervention on behalf of their private fortunes. In contrast to fulminations against Obama’s anti-colonial heritage or supposedly anti-capitalist inclinations, several billionaire Republicans know exactly why they are investing in Mitt Romney.  
1. Irradiate North America’s Biggest Aquifer?


Harold Simmons has come a long way from his hardscrabble rural Texas roots and schoolteacher parents. In March, he told the Wall Street Journal in a rare interview that he, his wife and his companies had given nearly $19 million to various GOP political committees and that figure might double by November. He didn’t reveal much besides predictably calling Obama a socialist and “the most dangerous American alive,” and saying that he was pro-choice. 
For decades, Simmons has been buying and selling companies, running into government regulators and unions along the way, and more often than not stubbornly overcoming his opponents—through paying campaign donations, lobbying and changing laws. In 1995, he became involved with a project to create a nuclear waste dump in Andrews County in West Texas. Last year, after Texas’ legislature passed a bill to allow 36 states to dump low-level waste, Forbes reported that his stake in the project jumped from $5 billion to $9.6 billion.  
Simmons is hoping that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will allow the site to start accepting high-grade radioactive waste from power plants and the military. In 2006, the company won a state environmental permit, after it spent six years not only changing Texas law to allow it to proceed, but steamrolling state environmental geologists who worried the project would leak into the Ogallala Aquifer, North America’s largest. 
“Perhaps the nuclear waste business is all that’s driving Simmons’s interest in the 2012 election,” speculated TNR’s Charles Homans. “Or perhaps it is a belief that a federal government run by a now-vehemently anti-regulation GOP will look forgivingly on his other heavy industrial properties, which one day could find themselves liable for toxic leftovers.”   
2. Push Climate Change To Point of No Return?


Read More Show less
ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up