Robert Dreyfuss

Robert Dreyfuss is a senior correspondent for The American Prospect. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. He can be reached through his website.

Recent Articles

Harder Than Soft Money

The explosion of issue advocacy -- money spent by individuals and independent groups to support political causes -- threatens to make even an outright ban on "soft" money irrelevant. Worse, much of what passes for "issue advocacy" is really covert campaign financing. Still worse, it can't be regulated.

A fter years of reformer hand-wringing, legislative efforts on Capitol Hill, and erratic enforcement by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), campaign finance law remains riddled with loopholes. Everyone knows the most notorious loophole: Starting at a trickle about a decade ago ($12 million in 1984) and building to flood crest in 1996 (with $262 million flowing into the coffers of the two parties), the river of "soft" money has become the most obvious target of campaign finance reform. Although the law prohibits corporations, banks, and labor unions from contributing money to candidates (except via strictly regulated political action committees, or PACs) and prevents them from making independent expenditures on behalf of a candidate's election, nothing prevents them from giving vast sums to the parties. So, starting in the 1980s, they did give money. Lots of it. And while the majority of soft money flows from businesses and wealthy individuals to the Republican Party, the Democratic...

Philip Morris Money

I n Virginia, fresh-faced, environmentally minded schoolchildren gather biological samples and test water quality in rivers and waterways, part of the Izaak Walton League's Save Our Streams initiative. In Chicago, amid Tai Chi classes and body massages, families with young children enjoy performance art and teenagers flock to an all-night "rave," all part of the Museum of Contemporary Art's Summer Solstice weekend. In Minnesota hundreds of children with HIV or AIDS come together each year at Camp Heartland, where they can "escape the isolation and misunderstanding they so often face because of this illness." And all of these kids can thank the caring people at Philip Morris. It might raise eyebrows that children and youth engage in otherwise worthwhile activities while carrying brochures and leaflets bearing the Philip Morris logo, but these and scores of other programs--ranging from battered women's shelters to disaster relief programs to scholarships for African-American students at...

News Flash: Corporate Life Is Harsh

Is journalism the only industry whose quality is adversely affected by the capitalist drive to increase profit margins? You might think so, judging by the media response to the resignation of Jay T. Harris, publisher of the San Jose Mercury News. Harris abruptly quit his job as chief of the Knight Ridder–owned daily earlier this spring--with a public salvo aimed at his bosses. "So far," he wrote, "we have been unable to find a way to meet the new [financial] targets without risking significant and lasting harm to the Mercury News as a journalistic enterprise." Harris's action gained him widespread acclaim among editors and reporters; a few weeks after his resignation he had a starring role at the convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE). "I resigned because I was concerned about the damage to the whole of the paper," he said. "I was worried that in Knight Ridder a greater priority was being given to the business aspects of the enterprise rather than to fulfilling...

The New China Lobby

Who bought American indulgence of China? Surprise--multinational corporations that fly the U.S. flag.

Illustration by Bob Dahm J ust before the November election, concern about foreign influence over U.S. trade policy suddenly emerged amid revelations that the Clinton campaign had accepted (and then returned) illegal donations from wealthy East Asian nationals. But as the media focused on the connections of one fundraiser to the White House and the debate became tinged with xenophobia, a bigger story of influence-peddling got lost: the role of multinational corporations that nominally fly the American flag. see related resources below Nothing reveals this pattern better than the recent history of the U.S. relationship with China. China has been under fire for violations of both human rights and commercial rights. It routinely ignores intellectual property protections, and it closes its domestic market to much that the U.S. might export. By 1995, China's trade surplus with the United States had ballooned to an embarrassingly high total of $34 billion, heading upwards. [See Chalmers...