There are always conspiracy theorists in abundance. And when it comes to elections, from Kennedy in 1960 to Bush in 2000, some people will have the facts and others will ignore the facts. But facts, even those with the Jon Stewart-described, “known Liberal bias” are difficult to avoid.
The fact is that the brothers Koch have been very vividly and openly opposed to what most people would consider basic American values. We would suggest those are such things as the right to vote without intimidation, the right to a living wage for a good day’s work or the right to an affordable health care system. We all generally agree to the right to an open and honest government, not one purchased behind the scenes by individual with motives of greed or anarchy. We have done other things in the past 50 years, as have other advanced countries. They have been more advanced than we. Long ago they instituted such things as unemployment insurance, retirement security and national and universal health care.
The Koch Brothers reject those ideas. They were raised by their father, Fred Koch, an oil industry executive who was rejected by Russia during the post-revolutionary era, and ever after became an anti-Communist, pro-Fascist, and founder of the John Birch Society which sponsored Republican Joe McCarthy and his witch hunts against “Communist” Liberals.
The Koch Brothers, billionaires Charles and David Koch, are not doing all this merely out of pro-Fascist ideology. They have been using their massive wealth—they own a $100 billion corporation that pollutes in many industrial categories, chemicals, oil, paper products—to weaken laws like the clean air and water legislation coming out of Washington. They helped to found an organization of major corporations called ALEC, that wants to destroy the environment by attacking legislation at the state level.
That organization, ALEC, an acronym for The American Legislative Exchange Council, is made up of companies like BP Oil, Exxon, Comcast, AT&T, Abbott Laboratories, Glaxo, Smith, Kline, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Dell computers, Ebay, Peabody Coal, Pfizer, UPS, FEDEX, Alliant energy, VISA, Merch, Coors, and Walmart and the list goes on…hundreds of the largest corporations in the U.S. –endless–all seeking to write legislation and bribe local legislators to put it into effect at the local level through an alliance with the Republican Party in all 50 states. They have been successful in electing majority Republican legislatures across the South and Midwest and the Far West, including 29 Governors, such as those in Michigan, Ohio, Kansas, Wisconsin and Indiana. The insist on Fascist policies—outlaw unions, weaken public education, control the educational message, deny voters rights to those citizens who would support the opposite party, promote militaristic law enforcement departments, eliminate anti-corporate legislation and Liberal judges and privatize as many public services (sending them to campaign supporters) as possible. It has already happened in many states with Republian governors. It is happening now in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and many other states. All these Fascist states are suppoted by Koch Brothers-funded PACs and organizations. All have introduced or supported Right-to-Work (for peanuts) legislation in their states, lowering the incomes of new workers and reducing protection for experienced employees.
And there are plenty of organizations owned and operated by the Fascist Koch Family. Here is a partial list of those they have started and their goals and objectives, which are easy to see by simply looking at their web sites.
The Cato Institute – Anti-government, pro-privatization.
The Mercatus Center – Anti-union, pro-Libertarian
The Heritage Foundation – Corporate control of society – no government regulations
The American Enterprise Institute – Anti-welfare, anti-government spending of any kind, except military
Americans for Prosperity – Anti-universal health care, anti-Social Security, anti-regulations on guns
FreedomWorks – Radical Right Wing hit squads…anti-everything—taxes, health care, education, etc.
The American Legislative Exchange Council – pro-corporate, anti-Populist, 50-state Fascist legislators
All these organizations….and there are dozens more…work for one thing. They work for the advancement of the very wealthy at the expense of the Middle Class. The Koch brothers bring in dozens of other like-minded billionaires and CEOs of major global corporations to their meetings in Palm Springs and locations in Florida in the winter to meet with their local legislative stooges from around the country. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, outspoken Right Wing hacks, have participated. One can only assume they helped to form legislation in such a way that it would be accepted by the Supreme Court, like the Citizens United legislation that helped billionaires buy up House members, Senators and Governors. Theyundoubtedly worked with the Koch groups to frame tax legislation that would reduce taxes on billionaires and could be passed by all legislatures in the country and not be challenged.
In addition to the organizations the Koch Family has sponsored above, it should be noted that they early on began to see the value of an obstructive “do-nothing” segment of the Republican Party that would not only do their bidding but had the same racist, homophobic, arch-conservative goals as they did, only perhaps for religious reasons, or just plain stupidity. The Koch Brothers began to use Americans for Prosperity, that they had used as a state lobbying group to fight anti-pollution legislation, in conjunction with the tobacco companies in their fight to prevent anti-smoking legislation. They also used FreedomWorks with AfP to organize Tea Party groups to fight taxes and health care reform. There were rallies with people carrying signs against public health care that said idiotic and contradictory things against (supposedly government controlled) Obamacare like, “Keep your hands off my Medicare.” Medicare, of course, is the ultimate Liberal government program, costing a mere 3% to administer. (As opposed to private insurance which costs 30% to administer.)
The vast majority of the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks were eventually seen to be people who were low information voters, often railing against the very things (Social Security for example) without which they would be destitute. They seemed to feel some range of emotions from the idea that the government was owned by some shadowy conspiracy, like “the Bilderberg” group (about which they had virtually no real information) or perhaps someone named George Soros, about whom when queried, they knew virtually nothing at all. (Of course these ideas were fomented by GOP infiltrators, people like Dennis O’Keefe who created and fomented lies about government which these people…large numbers of people relatively…believed without examination.) Then there were the “birthers” a distraction about whether President Obama had been born in Hawaii, and therefore was eligible to be President…total fabrications to distract and denigrate the first African-American President, to insult him and try to weaken his authority. It was totally racist of course.
Other Koch funded groups sought to identify the President with Muslims by saying that he had become a Muslim as a young boy in Indonesia, which was of course not trur. They would relentlessly use his full name, Barack “Hussein” Obama in every communication. A large segment of the original, so called “Tea Party” were aged, poor, ignorant–and many racist–fools, incited by the Koch Family, the same family who a generation earlier had incited the McCarthy followers in the 1950s and 60s. iSame idea, Use your money to create false fears and injustices, then begin a movement based on lies. These same groups were again fooled in 2010 to vote with the Right Wing racist, do-nothing mainstream Republicans and they elected many, many House members, state governors and local legislators. Money and propaganda won.
Once elected, most of these so-called “independent” Tea Party legislators in Republican states fell under the influence of ALEC, and began submitting Koch Brothers-written legislation in return for trips in Winter to places like Palm Springs or Marco Island. Apparently, it doesn’t take much to bribe local Republican legislators. They’ll do most of what you want for just a sandwich and a beer. In most of their states, they have been able to fool their own constituents into believing that some kind of magic other than citizens or other than the polluters will pay to clean up the water and the air left behind by fracking and oil and gas and chemical operations.
These same people have been persuaded that restricting the vote is also a good idea. Even losing billions in Federal Medicaid funds that would go to other more progressive states could not persuade them to act like human beings. Less humanity was also reflected in urging people to carry guns into local restaurants, shops and fast food places, schools, churches and bars. (Oh, did I mention that the NRA is also a major sponsor of ALEC, along with the Koch Brothers? It is.)
The Koch Brothers have their own security forces. They don’t need or care about the police one way or the other. They only need the police for one thing. When they cause so much damage to a community that the people publicly demonstrate—because local officials are owned by the Kochs—they need the police to shut them down. What kind of attitude does it take to work for such a police force? Have you noticed the riot gear, the tanks with water and tear gas cannons, the firing of rubber bullets, and police forces, with clubs and tazers so overly aggressively trained that they simply beat and shoot people almost at a whim? That is what happens when Fascists elect Fascists to initiate Fascist police forces. It isn’t the cops. Don’t blame thugs for doing their job when you elect the people who put them there. Yes, you could end police violence with more violence of your own. You could shoot them at night with a sniper rifle when they are taking out the garbage or have masked men drag them out of their homes and lynch them and set them on fire. That would stop police violence once and for all. But wouldn’t it be easier to simply find a candidate who thinks the police should serve the people…and elect him over the Fascist candidate? In order to do that, you must understand who your opponent will be. It will be some anonymous affiliate of the Koch Brothers, using Koch Brothers’ money to lie about what a wonderful man the new Fascist chief of police will be and how you will not be able to walk to the mail box safely if he is not empowered.
But controlling the power of law enforcement to squash protests is just one aspect of the desire of the Kochs to eliminate governmental power to help the masses. Fred Koch apparently left in his sons a bigotry that has transcended their father’s generation, has not been affected by the Civil Rights movements or by the reasonable attitudes of most American citizens, 54% of whom voted for an African American couple to walk through the White House doors in 2008 and again in 2012. Everyone else seems pretty happy with an integrated country. But not the Koch Brothers and their followers. To return this country to Segregation, they have spent $40 million in 2010, $65 million in 2012 and $45 million and climbing in this year’s non-presidential elections. They have sponsored candidates who have attacked the poor as “lazy and shiftless.” Given the reality that most of the poor are working poor, about 45 to 50 million and the homeless amount to about 2 million, a rising number, by the way.
We know how it all got started. The Koch brothers made their billions in oil. From their Kansas headquarters they drilled for oil all over the country and set up refineries. They have the largest privately held oil company in the United States. Revenues are in the tens of billions of dollars. But they became polluters. And being arrogant heirs to the fortune of a ruthless, hated, Right Wing tyrant, they decided that they would not pay any fines for polluting the rivers, streams nor air-pollution caused by their factories. They are now generally accepted as the largest polluters in the United States, with virtually no conscience when they pollute air that kills hundreds of people from excessive exposure to benzene (while David Koch can contribute $500 million to cancer research to his alma mater, MIT because he was cured there of mild prostate cancer.)
By 1980 and the Reagan era, they had already decided that they were not the sort to be fitted into any typical American scenario. So David Koch ran on a national ticket as a Libertarian, following his principles…basically that he should not be subject to the same laws as everyone else. Practically speaking, if you can say that Ross Perot got one out of five votes, then you can say that Koch’s ticket effectively got zero votes. So he decided to handle things his way, the way his Fascist father would have handled things. Try to buy up Senators as Fred had bought up Joe McCarthy. Just as an example, here are some of the people on whom David and Charles Koch think are worthy of spending money. They have given $64,000 to Paul Ryan, who wants to gut government, $20,000 to radical Right Wing Senator Ted Cruz, $10,000 to Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin whose only reason for being in a Senate that he does not understand and in which he seems incapable of functioning is to support Koch Brothers initiatives. The Kochs gave $35,000 to John Boehner, $17,600 to Peter Roskam, $17,000 to Rand Paul, $12, 000 to pro-pollution Rep. Shelley Moore of West Virginia, $12,000 and $5,000 to Michele Bachmann who will say whatever you want her to say for $5. They vindictively spent $250,000 to try to defeat Representative Alan Grayson of Florida, and they did. He came back and beat them. In the 2012 campaign alone, in an attempt to take control of Congress and the states and defeat President Obama, it has been reported that they eventually spent over $400 million dollars.
In keeping with the philosophy of ignoring the government and people of the United States, the Kochs continued to spill and pollute. In 2000, they were accused of serious violations in Corpus Christi, Texas that amounted to 97 different charges and a total of $350 million in potential fines. They were tried during the Bush/Cheney administration and eventually negotiated the deal down to one charge and paid a $20 million fine. (Of course we don’t know how much they paid in campaign contributions.) In 2001, they were also found guilty of theft of oil, from Native American lands, a crime so heinous that they were outed by their own brother William Koch and paid a fine of $25 million dollars. In 2009, they paid a fine of $1.7 million, a fine which was only that small because, as part of the settlement with the federal government the Koch brothers agreed to spend something like $500 million over time to clean up all the different sites they own that pollute the air and water. Like the Georgia Pacific plant in Crossett Arkansas that has apparently caused multiple deaths from cancer to numerous families in that modest community. They have experienced some rates of cancer many multiples of those in average communities. Among the top polluters. the Kochs are at the pinnacle, larger even than General Electric and EXXON/Mobil combined.
How do you get around such enormous fines in order to continue to devastate the landscape, send children to cancer wards, make rivers and streams undrinkable and unusable and cost local citizens hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair natural resources that the Koch Brothers say are justified because they create local jobs. Would you take a job if it were on the condition that several families would send their children to the cemetery? These people hang jobs over the heads of communities like the sharp blade of a guillotine. If you don’t accept pollution, so that we can make tens or hundreds of millions, they say, then we will take away your jobs and send them to Mexico or Asia, where the people are more desperate. This is the entire Koch Brothers’ philosophy of life. Use your own advantages, the Kochs believe, to make others’ lives worse. Anything that makes others worse, makes the Koch Family better, by comparison. To the Koch Brothers, life is a zero-sum game. If I subtract from you, I automatically gain something for myself. It is a twisted view of life. The problem is that they have tens of billions of dollars to find help among the millions of greedy, uncaring people, especially politicians, who will sell themselves for a buck.
But politicians like to have justification for their crimes. To ask a community to force women who are raped or are in danger of death or are in an impossible situation to have another child takes a pretty callous political organization. The Koch Brothers, therefore, have decided to make up science and statistics, using the most venal and greedy and pandering among the scientific and intellectual world. They have created organizations to corral the sheep into marching in whatever direction they lead.
For example, the Kochs created the Cato Institute, spending $14.3 million dollars to persuade Americans that only business, and only business that has no regard for human life, merely profits, will make America the best it can be. If it pollutes, on balance their reports say, the increased jobs make up for it. If it bankrupts the county because of paying no taxes nor allowing its CEOs (who make 350 times what an average worker makes) to pay almost no taxes, then that is what is necessary. Reduce government—veteran’s pensions and health care, Social Security, Medicaid, even the infrastructure, roads, streets and public buildings. Sacrifice it all to business. And why—really? What is the real reason? So that some men can grow rich and join others already rich and create a class of people whom their children can continue to use to grow richer. That is how the Kochs got where they are and that is what they preach to others who aspire to be similarly Fascistic.
Other groups that they have funded that do the same or similar are the Heritage Foundation, ($5 million Koch money), Citizens for a Sound Economy, ($7.9 million), Mercatus Center ($9 million), Reason Foundation, ($2 million), Americans for Prosperity ($5.8 million) American Legislative Exchange Council—commonly referred to as ALEC ($1 million), and the Institute of Justice, ($2 million). All these and more, for example, $311, 000 to the Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the committee responsible for requiring (or not requiring) the Koch Brothers to clean up oil and chemical spills.
Their charitable donations are purely arbitrary, like candy on Halloween. In one instance money goes to a hospital for research on cancer. In another, huge amounts go to Lincoln Center to spruce up the Koch’s entertainment venue. They give to NOVA and PBS apparently to have visible philanthropy, as corporations do, but perhaps because both Philip and David Koch have advanced degrees from MIT, their father’s alma mater, a major institution of higher research.
For many years, a large number of citizen groups and the Democratic Party, as well as a handful…no more than a dozen of the hundreds of Republican legislators at the national level…have been trying to reduce or eliminate large sums of money from influencing politics and in some cases actually buying up political seats in Congress or in Governorships. The Kochs have been in the forefront of the opposition. They founded the Institute for Justice, the Wyoming Liberty Group, the Center for Competitive Politics, Cato Intsitute and the Foundation for Free Expression, all of which participated in the Citizen’s United successful lawsuit in favor of exactly the opposite of what the American People want. The Supreme Court, in Citizens’ United, said that there is no limit on what hugely wealthy organizations or individuals can contribute to politics. It is interesting that Supreme Court Justice Scalia and Supreme Court Justice Thomas both have participated in seminars with the Koch Brothers at which the matter of controlling the political agenda was the subject. What better way of controlling the political agenda than by blanketing the airwaves with lying propagandist television commercials.
(To be continued)