Right Wing Koch Suckers Swallow Wads of Kash

August 24, 2010

Charles and David Koch are the owners of Koch Industries. They are filthy, rich, and they fund a self-serving “Kochtopus” of organizations designed to destroy progressivism – a shadowy network of Koch Suckers eagerly swallowing all the cash that the Kochs can pump out.

Rachel Maddow has been all over the Koch brothers story, but for the most part, their deliberate strategy of flying well below the radar as they hide behind their proxy advocacy organizations has worked to keep their name out of the limelight.

In a must read in this month’s New Yorker, Jane Mayer illuminates some of the Koch brothers greatest hits.

They were born to a wealthy Bircher daddy – a man who made much of his fortune by selling American trade secrets to evil communists – who taught them the basic American value of shirking ones moral duty to repay one’s society for having provided the resources which one blatantly exploits in order to make a killing.

Put simply, they are extremely wealthy self-serving libertarians.

Unlike George Soros, who is often villified as the evil trillionaire funder of all things vaguely leftish, the Koch brothers are very secretive about the organizations they fund, and the causes that they champion through these organizations invariably tend to line up perfectly with their personal and corporate economic interests.

All Blockquotes are from
Covert Operations – The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.
by Jane Mayer

Of course, Democrats give money, too. Their most prominent donor, the financier George Soros, runs a foundation, the Open Society Institute, that has spent as much as a hundred million dollars a year in America. Soros has also made generous private contributions to various Democratic campaigns, including Obama’s. But Michael Vachon, his spokesman, argued that Soros’s giving is transparent, and that “none of his contributions are in the service of his own economic interests.” The Kochs have given millions of dollars to nonprofit groups that criticize environmental regulation and support lower taxes for industry. Gus diZerega, the former friend, suggested that the Kochs’ youthful idealism about libertarianism had largely devolved into a rationale for corporate self-interest. He said of Charles, “Perhaps he has confused making money with freedom.”

Freedom rules. Regulations and laws are for losers.

“There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

– Charles Lewis, founder of Center for Public Integrity

Koch Industries is a vast conglomerate, the second largest privately held company in the US

…whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars…The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra… Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

And like the best of the classic American capitalists, they even steal from American Indians.

…the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs investigated their business and released a scathing report accusing Koch Oil of “a widespread and sophisticated scheme to steal crude oil from Indians and others through fraudulent mismeasuring.” The Kochs admitted that they had improperly taken thirty-one million dollars’ worth of crude oil, but said that it had been accidental. Charles Koch told committee investigators that oil measurement is “a very uncertain art.”

Koch Industries is a huge polluter. The Kochs spend more than Exxon on Climate Science denialism.

David Koch told New York that he was unconvinced that global warming has been caused by human activity. Even if it has been, he said, the heating of the planet will be beneficial, resulting in longer growing seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he said.

But mostly they don’t speak for themselves – why bother when they can simply create entire organizations to speak for them?

Cato Institute

In 1977, the Kochs provided the funds to launch the nation’s first libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. According to the Center for Public Integrity, between 1986 and 1993 the Koch family gave eleven million dollars to the institute. Today, Cato has more than a hundred full-time employees, and its experts and policy papers are widely quoted and respected by the mainstream media. It describes itself as nonpartisan, and its scholars have at times been critical of both parties. But it has consistently pushed for corporate tax cuts, reductions in social services, and laissez-faire environmental policies.

Cato is also, of course, big into Climate Change Denial and they pushed Climategate incessantly.

The Mercatus Center

The Mercatus Center at the public George Mason University is a non profit under the Kochs’ control.

The Wall Street Journal has called the Mercatus Center “the most important think tank you’ve never heard of,” and noted that fourteen of the twenty-three regulations that President George W. Bush placed on a “hit list” had been suggested first by Mercatus scholars. Fink told the paper that the Kochs have “other means of fighting [their] battles,” and that the Mercatus Center does not actively promote the company’s private interests. But Thomas McGarity, a law professor at the University of Texas, who specializes in environmental issues, told me that “Koch has been constantly in trouble with the E.P.A., and Mercatus has constantly hammered on the agency.” An environmental lawyer who has clashed with the Mercatus Center called it “a means of laundering economic aims.” The lawyer explained the strategy: “You take corporate money and give it to a neutral-sounding think tank,” which “hires people with pedigrees and academic degrees who put out credible-seeming studies. But they all coincide perfectly with the economic interests of their funders.”

Triad Management

The Kochs were getting pretty good at screwing with the conventional wisdom. Then they took it to a whole new level.

By 1993, when Bill Clinton became President, Citizens for a Sound Economy had become a prototype for the kind of corporate-backed opposition campaigns that have proliferated during the Obama era. The group waged a successful assault on Clinton’s proposed B.T.U. tax on energy, for instance, running advertisements, staging media events, and targeting opponents. And it mobilized anti-tax rallies outside the Capitol—rallies that NPR described as “designed to strike fear into the hearts of wavering Democrats.” Dan Glickman, a former Democratic congressman from Wichita, who supported the B.T.U. tax, recalled, “I’d been in Congress eighteen years. The Kochs actually engaged against me and funded my opponent. They used a lot of resources and effort—their employees, too.” Glickman suffered a surprise defeat. “I can’t prove it, but I think I was probably their victim,” he said.

The Kochs continued to disperse their money, creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names, and this made it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington. In 1990, Citizens for a Sound Economy created a spinoff group, Citizens for the Environment, which called acid rain and other environmental problems “myths.” When the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigated the matter, it discovered that the spinoff group had “no citizen membership of its own.”

…Triad Management, had paid more than three million dollars for attack ads in twenty-six House races and three Senate races. More than half of the advertising money came from an obscure nonprofit group, the Economic Education Trust… Charles Lewis, of the Center for Public Integrity, described the scandal as “historic. Triad was the first time a major corporation used a cutout”—a front operation—“in a threatening way. Koch Industries was the poster child of a company run amok.”

The Bush years

During the 2000 election campaign, Koch Industries spent some nine hundred thousand dollars to support the candidacies of George W. Bush and other Republicans… The Kochs have cast themselves as deficit hawks, but, according to a study by Media Matters, their companies have benefitted from nearly a hundred million dollars in government contracts since 2000.

Their filthy lucre even taints the halls of the Smithsonian – a prominent Koch sponsored exhibit on the Koch Hall underplays the significance of climate change while compeltely ignoring the possibility that fossil fuels may be a big part of the problem.

Now they are using their Americans for Prosperity front group to sponsor “grassroots” Tea Party events and organizations.

The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, “To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!” Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.”

Read the whole article . I left out a lot.

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