Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Was Wrong (Again)

You should really take the time to read the entire New Yorker article about the Koch brothers. I’ve never read an article that puts it all together like this one. (There’s an advantage to having 10 pages of space.)

And just to grab the aviation crowd’s attention (before they leave)...

David Koch was on USAir 1493. when it landed on the Metroliner at LAX in 1991. He was the only passenger in the first class section to survive. I’m sure he feels like the angels are on his side. Perhaps they are. But these people don’t sound like angels to me.


”The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups.”

”And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board.”

”The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West. On June 14th, West, writing on her site, described Obama as the “cokehead in chief.” In an online thread, West speculated that the President was exhibiting symptoms of “demonic possession (aka schizophrenia, etc.).””

”In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover.”

”Charles and David Koch were particularly influenced by the work of Friedrich von Hayek, the author of “The Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that centralized government planning led, inexorably, to totalitarianism.”

”After the 1980 election, Charles and David Koch receded from the public arena. But they poured more than a hundred million dollars into dozens of seemingly independent organizations.”

”In the nineteen-eighties, the Olin family, which owns a chemicals-and-manufacturing conglomerate, became known for funding right-leaning thinking in academia, particularly in law schools. And during the nineties Richard Mellon Scaife, a descendant of Andrew Mellon, spent millions attempting to discredit President Bill Clinton.”

The article even presents the rebuttal every Republican you know uses when confronted with this information.

”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.”

Continuing on with the Koch brothers...

”Among the institutions that they have subsidized are the Institute for Justice, which files lawsuits opposing state and federal regulations; the Institute for Humane Studies, which underwrites libertarian academics; and the Bill of Rights Institute, which promotes a conservative slant on the Constitution. Many of the organizations funded by the Kochs employ specialists who write position papers that are subsequently quoted by politicians and pundits.”

”In 1977, the Kochs provided the funds to launch the nation’s first libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute.”

”The Kochs have funded many sources of environmental skepticism, such as the Heritage Foundation, which has argued that “scientific facts gathered in the past 10 years do not support the notion of catastrophic human-made warming.””

”Financial records show that the Koch family foundations have contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason (University), much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center, a nonprofit organization. “It’s ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington,” Rob Stein, the Democratic strategist, said.”

”The group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, seemed like a grassroots movement, but according to the Center for Public Integrity it was sponsored principally by the Kochs, who provided $7.9 million between 1986 and 1993.”

”That year, internal rivalries at Citizens for a Sound Economy caused the organization to split apart. David Koch and Fink started a new group, Americans for Prosperity, and they hired Tim Phillips to run it. Phillips was a political veteran who had worked with Ralph Reed, the evangelical leader and Republican activist, co-founding Century Strategies, a campaign-consulting company that became notorious for its ties to the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.”

”Soon after Obama assumed office, Americans for Prosperity launched “Porkulus” rallies against Obama’s stimulus-spending measures. Then the Mercatus Center released a report claiming that stimulus funds had been directed disproportionately toward Democratic districts; eventually, the author was forced to correct the report, but not before Rush Limbaugh, citing the paper, had labelled Obama’s program “a slush fund,” and Fox News and other conservative outlets had echoed the sentiment.”

”Americans for Prosperity also created an offshoot, Patients United Now, which organized what Phillips has estimated to be more than three hundred rallies against health-care reform.”

”Americans for Prosperity has held at least eighty events targeting cap-and-trade legislation,...”

I’m exhausted and I haven’t even gotten to Grover Norquist yet. And I’m certain that Grover isn’t on the side of the angels. I know it doesn’t look like it, but I was trying to provide the briefest of quotes.

This article is awe inspiring as it tracks the Koch brother’s money through our political system. And it is “our” system. It isn’t theirs. They just act like it is. That’s what the financial power of a corporation will do for an individual. Find the time to read it.

P.S. I’ve just got to add this in. Reason has already put up a rebuttal.

”Full disclosure: David Koch has been on the board of trustees of Reason Foundation, the publisher of this website, for decades, and his name appears in the masthead of Reason magazine; I have also taught at various programs for the Institute for Humane Studies, which the Kochs fund, and will speak at an Americans for Prosperity event later this week.”

I know my readers are familiar with the Reason Foundation -- home of Mr. Privatize ATC, Robert Poole.

Don Brown
August 26, 2010

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