Raising Funding – The Atheist Bus and Obama

Today is my 2nd last day in Seattle. I’ve had an awesome time. I’ll have to tell you about it sometime. There’s a few podcasts I’ve shot while I’m here that I’ll get out asap. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a couple of thoughts about fund raising.

Obviously the USA is crazy about their Presidential elections at the moment and most, if not all, of the people I’ve met in Seattle are rooting for Obama. When I ask them who is funding Obama they tell me the same thing – he’s raised his money over the Internet from ordinary Americans!! It’s amazing!! The triumph of the little people over the politics!!

When I ask them how they know this to be true, they give me a strange look at tell me OBAMA SAYS IT’S TRUE! Oh well, of course.

My next question is usually “so how much did you give him?” and they usually answer “ummm nothing”. So who are these people who are funding Obama?

According to Kenneth Timmerman, who writes for the ultra-right-wing site Newsmax, Obama doesn’t need to disclose the names of people who donate less than $200.

Timmerman writes:

Campaigns are not required to disclose contributors who donate less than $200 — and Obama’s campaign refuses to release their names, addresses, and donation amounts. Obama has collected a staggering $603.2 million. Most of the money — $543.3 million — has come from individual contributors, half of it from “small” donors Obama won’t disclose.

So who are these people? How do we know that they aren’t big corporations – or non-US governments – who are making millions of small donations via credit cards over the internet?

Timmerman claims there is some strangeness about Obama’s donations. since Oct 14, the following people have donated:

OJ Simpson
Daffy Duck
Bart Simpson
Family Guy
King Kong
jkbkj Hbkjb

Timmerman’s source claims he made donations using several of these names and a disposable credit card. If Obama’s team aren’t picking up and rejecting fake names to ensure that 1) the person is real and 2) the person hasn’t donated more than the maximum amount of $2,300, then the system is open to fraud and manipulation.

Yet most Americans I talk to believe the Hollywood answer, that Obama is getting his funding from millions of small donations from believers.

Don’t get me wrong – I hope they are right and I am wrong. I hope I’m just being cynical. But there are questions here which the Obama campaign should be forced to answer.

The other great fund raising story I’ve heard lately is The Atheist Bus Campaign which launched Tuesday October 21 2008 in the UK. They hoped to raise £5,500 to run 30 buses across London for four weeks with the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” They overshot their goal. They have currently raised over £111,000!

For some months now I’ve been planning to move TPN over to a donation-based system. We’ll be asking out audience to contribute some funds to help cover our running costs. Wouldn’t you rather have media that doesn’t rely on corporate sponsorship or government funding? I guess we’ll see over the next few months how much people value TPN’s content.

G’Day World #352 – Sarah Mac’s Mercy Ministries Experience

Today’s show is the latest in my series examining the Christian charity Mercy Ministries and it’s relationship with the Gloria Jean’s Coffee chain and the evangelical Christian church Hillsong.

My guest today is an Australian woman who is using the pseudonym “Sarah Mac” to protect her identity. She spent 8 months as a voluntary patient at Mercy’s now-closed center on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and her story is horrifying. She tells me she was subjected to punishments if she forgot to take her medication, denied regular access to friends, family and qualified therapists, and kept in solitary confinement when she finally decided to leave Mercy. She left feeling worse about herself than when she entered and tried to commit suicide a few weeks later. She has since met with Mercy’s founder Nancy Alcorn and received an unconvincing apology. Despite her experiences, Sarah remains a Christian.

Despite her obvious discomfort is talking about her experience, Sarah was brave enough to share it with me in the hope that it will help other girls think twice about the decision to enter Mercy.

This is her story.

The G’Day World theme music:

End of DaysConquest
“Secrets of Life” (mp3)
from “End of Days”
(Dark Star Records)

More On This Album

G’Day World #351 – Dr David Skellern, CEO, NICTA

David Skellern

Dr David Skellern is the CEO of NICTA, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Centre of Excellence. He’s also an engineer and entrepreneur, who sold a company he co-founded (Radiata) to Cisco in 2001.

I caught up with him for 10 minutes a couple of weeks ago for a chat about why ICT R&D in Australia’s top ICT companies is pathetically low and about why Aussie kids aren’t studying IT.

If you want an independent media, you can support TPN by throwing me some cash to cover the bills or, if you’re tight on the cash front, by blogging or Twittering about the show or joining the G’Day World Facebook group. There is a list of things you can do to support the show here.

The G’Day World theme music:

End of DaysConquest
“Secrets of Life” (mp3)
from “End of Days”
(Dark Star Records)

More On This Album

G’Day World #350 – Richard Moore

My guest on show #350 is American author (who now lives in Ireland) Richard J Moore, author of “Escaping The Matrix“. I was introduced to Richard’s work recently via an article he wrote about Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia.

Richard tells me that the kind of government we have in the USA, UK and Australia isn’t really democracy – and he suggests a way forward to creating the world’s first true participatory democracies.

Here’s a list of sites where you can read Richard’s writing and subscribe to his regular news alerts.

Richard’s “newslog” Google Group


If you want an independent media, you can support TPN by throwing me some cash to cover the bills or, if you’re tight on the cash front, by blogging or Twittering about the show or joining the G’Day World Facebook group. There is a list of things you can do to support the show here.

The G’Day World theme music:

End of DaysConquest
“Secrets of Life” (mp3)
from “End of Days”
(Dark Star Records)

More On This Album

October 10 is World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day (aka “Blue Day”) is being held on my birthday. Coincidence? I think not.

My mate Efisia has written a great blog post about WMHD which includes the latest stats in Australia about depression and suicide as well as her own struggle with mental health issues. Many of us on Twitter have changed our icons to be blue to promote Blue Day.

From Fiz’ blog post:

One in five people (one in four women, one in six men) suffer from depression at some point in their lives and 62% of them don’t seek help.

If you’re the one in five, do something about it. I started seeing a shrink about 5 or 6 years ago and it did me a world of good. In fact, I think EVERYONE should see a shrink, not just people suffering from depression. We’re all a little fucked up. Just admit it, do something about it, and move on. Mmmkay?

Obama’s Connections to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

On the day when Obama voted YES in the US Senate to the $700b scam, I did some further looking into his connections with Wall Street.

Unsurprisingly, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were big contributors to the coffers of American legislators. The most interesting point from this graph though is that Barack Obama was the #2 recipient of their contributions.

According to The Spagnola Report, “… the two corrupt fat cats that ran Fannie, Franklin Raines and James Johnson served as economic advisors to Obama. So if they ran Fannie into the ground and they advise Obama on economics, how well does that bode for America under an Obama administration?” The Raines connections seems slightly weak but the Johnson one is solid. .

The other interesting news to come out recently was that according to the Center for Responsive Politics, 28 lawmakers had between $598,100 and $1.7 million of their own money invested in the two companies last year.
(link) You have to wonder how much of a factor that was in the FM & FM bailout.

So… yet again I make the case that Obama is as much one of the elite as McCain and, therefore, will represent the goals of the elite more than the goals of the other 99.9% of the American people.

Monbiot: “the bailout is as American as apple pie and obesity”

On the US bailout, George Monbiot writes:

According to Senator Jim Bunning, the proposal to purchase $700bn of dodgy debt by the US government “is financial socialism, it is un-American”. The economics professor Nouriel Roubini calls George Bush, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke “a troika of Bolsheviks who turned the USA into the United Socialist State Republic of America”. Bill Perkins, the venture capitalist who took out an advertisement in the New York Times attacking the deal, calls it “trickle-down communism”.

They are wrong. The banking subsidies Congress rejected last night are as American as apple pie and obesity. The sums demanded by Bush and Paulson might be unprecedented, but there is nothing new about the principle: corporate welfare is a consistent feature of advanced capitalism. Only one thing has changed: Congress has been forced to confront its contradictions.

One of the best studies of corporate welfare in the United States is published by my old enemies at the Cato Institute. Its report, by Stephen Slivinski, estimates that in 2006 the federal government spent $92bn subsidising business. Much of it went to major corporations like Boeing, IBM and General Electric.

Read more.